I don’t have a ton of chips, but I’m still alive!Â This is the event that I finished 24th in last year, so I’ll try to outdo that performance this time.Â We start at 2:00pm Vegas time (5:00pm at home) and if I do well, I’ll be playing long into the night.Â I have less than half the average stack (after having double the average stack two short hours earlier).Â That is the nature of this kind of event, a few hands up or down equate to massive, massive swings.Â Hopefully I’ll keep them in the right direction tomorrow.
I'm a hard-core limit ring game poker player who is becoming a degenerate sports bettor. I'm sure it will all make more sense if you read on.
Tournaments and Tilt
One of the things I pride myself on as a poker player is that I have an extremely high resistance to tilt.Â At this point in my poker life, I have seen every possible way to go down in flames.Â I’ve been called by terrible hands that had no chance to beat me yet somehow did, I’ve seen one outers on the river, flushes lose to straight flushes, AA beat AA, you name it.Â I can’t even begin to guess how many times I’ve seen Aces cracked.Â That’s just the way it goes.
In my best game, limit poker for cash, it is relatively easy to imagine that the long run will eventually catch up to the lucky player.Â He still sits there with your money and you will keep making better decisions and get his money.Â Even if you don’t get his actual money, there are many others just like him in the endless parade of poker players and you will get their money instead.Â The stakes are the same.Â One small bet here, one big bet on the river, it all works the same.Â Each situation plays itself out a thousand times.Â Math is cold and heartless and eventually the water will seek its level, etropy will relentlessly increase and I will accumulate their money.Â There is absolutely no reason to get upset when fate deals you a cruel blow because it is just a tiny blip on the road.
I think tourney players tend to tilt more because their landscape is so much different.Â They can shrug off some situations because they occur so frequently that the pattern can be easily discerned.Â You hear it in the halls every day: “I shoved my short stack and he woke up with Aces.”Â It is always said with the same “what can you do?” shrug familiar to all poker players.Â People see this pattern enough so that they can let those go.
The problem for tourney guys is that many situations don’t happen often enough to allow you to have that precious distance from the result.Â You will not be heads-up in a major tourney that often.Â You will not be on the bubble of a $10,000 sat that often.Â You will not get the chance to spring the trap that you have patiently laid over the course of the day a thousand times.Â Your stack fluctuates and the other player’s stack fluctuates and always the blinds relentlessly increase.Â The payouts rise preciptiously as you go deeper and deeper and the insults of fate dealing you the evil card when you are the 80% favorite bite much harder when you sit on the final table.Â The beatiful never-ending sameness of limit poker situations promise a future where the bad beats will equalize.Â The tourney player who reaches the final table of the WSOP may not ever be there again.
In my opinion, this is why the tourney players storm out of the room and curse and stomp.Â They play all those hours for a few brilliant moments where the money is the highest and the pressure is the greatest.Â When they lose in those moments, it feels different than the every day losses of the cash game grinder.
WSOP Trip Report Part Three
There is one event in poker that everyone wants to play more than any other.Â The Main Event of the WSOP is the best and most prestigious tourney in all of poker.Â Everyone wants to play this one.Â Even someone semi-jaded on poker like myself.Â The problem for most of us with the Main Event is that it costs $10,000 to play.Â As you will remember from my screed on backing I believe that winning in any specific tourney is extremely difficult.Â The only rational way to deal with this fact is to play in events where you can afford to lose.Â The most common bankroll requirement mentioned for tourney players is from 50 to 100 buy-ins.Â Therefore, to play in a $10,000 event, you should have a poker bankroll of between $500,000 and $1,000,000.Â My poker bankroll is not within that range.Â In fact, I suspect that the number of players with that kind of bankroll is shockingly small.Â Like, I don’t think you would believe me if I told you — that kind of small.
Obviously, if you can find someone else to pay your way, that is a good way to avoid the problem.Â Another is to avoid playing with proper bankroll management.Â One of those “just this time” kind of bad bankroll decisions.Â That is how I played two years ago.Â While I had not won $500,000 at poker, I had certainly won more than $10,000 so I figured I’d take a shot at it.Â The allure of the Main Event is just that strong.
The other good way to get into the Main Event is to buy into a smaller event and win your way into the Main.Â This is, by far, the most common way that people find their way to play in the Main Event.Â Yesterday, after my less that satisfying performance in the $1,000 stimulus special, Yankees suggested that we order some adult beverages and pay $500 for our shot at the Golden Ticket.Â We discussed the fact that the structure was certain to be terrible, but we figured that the players would be even worse.Â As Yankees has said to me about 20 times the past two days, “So, whatever!”Â This is a nice all purpose poker phrase.Â I raised with AQ and he called me with J4 suited and of course he flopped two pair.Â “So, whatever.”Â I pushed with QQ on the bubble and the big blind who won’t play anything at all happens to have AA.Â “So, whatever.”Â It works.
There are something like 80 of taking our shot at this sattelite, so you need to finish 3rd to win your $10,000 entry.Â So, whatever.Â We grab a quick dinner with JFletcher who is our only runner left in the $1,000 event.Â We discuss his well thought out strategy over BBQ and he seems poised to win a lot of money.Â We figure out that in order for our 2% stakes in his action to take care of the $1,000 we each donked off Jeff will need to finish around 20th.Â Jeff disagrees, figuring one would have to finish 6th or so.Â It turns out that the answer is 15th so we’ll have to call that a push.Â So, whatever.Â Go ahead and ship it.
As the sat seems to be taking shape, Yankees and I grow concerned that cocktail service in this distant poker room is very poor.Â We a pact to ensure that if either of us locates a cocktail waitress, we will ensure that the other is taken care of.Â We start out with a Red Bull from the tray (thank you very much) and I opt for some BOURBON!Â I won’t say that we weren’t going to play well, but we were determined to have fun.Â Dealing with these kind of turbo sats requires a certain devil may care attitude anyhow.Â The rest of the table looked at me like a potential victim when I ordered my third drink.Â One of them snorted in dissaproval.Â So, whatever.Â At the end of level three I had chipped up to 10,000 chips from 4,000 to start.Â The table was much less amused by me by then.Â I’m no Chris, so I can’t tell you every key hand I played.Â In my defense, Chris would have played like four hands in the first 90 minutes.Â I played approximately 30.Â My favorite hand is after I’ve been raising rather a lot and I’m on the button with 6,000 chips and the blinds are 50/100.Â There are three limpers to me and I find QTs.Â So, whatever.Â Obviously, I call.Â Both of the blinds join in and there are seven of us to the flop.Â The other three players look dissapointed they missed the party.Â The flop comes down 89J rainbow.Â Using my advanced board reading skills, I determine that this is a good thing.Â The big blind bets something stupid like 300 and the Hijack calls him.Â The small blind has yet to act and I have a bet and a call in front of me.Â I’m not really the slow playing type, so I raise it up like a happy drunk to 1,000.Â The small blind folds and the big blind fixes me with that steely stare that always means “I’m absolutely planning to fold here, but I need to give you my best mean look so that you know I was really betting with a monster hand here.”Â So, whatever.Â You were supposed to call.Â As I rest my hopes on the Hijack, he shoves the rest of his 3,000 chips in the middle with undisguised glee.Â His facial expression is extremely brief, because I call as soon as his chips land on the table.Â He looks a bit less pleased as I table the nut straight.Â I guess he has some random runner-runner outs.Â The turn is a blank, yet he continues to stare intently at the board in the vein hope that one of the cards will magically change into something that gives him an out. Â Just because God is cruel, the river gives him three Kings.Â But three Kings aren’t as good as the nuts now are they?Â He says “I guess I shouldn’t have tried to be so tricky with my Kings, huh?”Â I nod sagely and agree.Â If I see him again, I’ll make him feel better and tell him I probably call with QTs even if he raised pre-flop.Â I’m kinda tipsy.Â So, whatever.
My table breaks minutes before the break and I carry my stack loaded with all the small chips to the next table.Â Usually when someone has a million small demonination chips you know that they like to play a lot of hands.Â Guilty as charged.Â I had not planned well for this sat because I thought I was going to play cash games until Yankees exerted his bad influence self on me.Â I tell him I really want to walk the mile and a half to my room and grab my bag with my music and what not.Â He agrees to walk with me and we boogie up to the room.Â We agree that there can be no doubt that we are the best two players at the event and that the others should probably just give us the 10k and fight it out for the last seat.Â As we head back to the room, I realize that I’m not 100% sure which seat is mine since I never actually played a hand at the new table.Â When we get back, the event has already restarted and I’m virtually certain that the table I moved to is now populated by a rather portly dealer who appear on verge of falling asleep and no other players.Â Yanks points out that there probably aren’t a lot of players with two racks of green chips, but I still can’t find my stack.Â The floor man admits to having moved me and I settle into my seat and size up my new seat mates.Â The guy on my right seems familar.Â As I sit down he begins to talk and he doesn’t ever stop, really.Â He seems nice, but I’m glad I brought my iPod now.Â You probably saw him on TV:
He actually is reasonably nice and played tighter than you probably thought from TV.Â However, I had a dramatic transformation at this table.Â There was a ton of raising ahead of me because they had not been trained to fear me like the other table and I don’t think I got a playable hand for more than an hour.Â I think I stole the blinds once in a while with nothing first in, but I really became a different player at this table and I wound up having to cough up my mountain of green chips drip by drip.Â Not long after the break Yankees busted and I stopped drinking.Â I’m not sure which one caused my cards to go bad, but this was a bad stretch of the sattellite.Â Soon enough I fell from a chip leader to a good bit below average.Â If I played any interesting hands at the table, I can’t remember anything about them.Â Yankees eventually became bored with the process of railing an uber-nit and we collapsed to three tables.
Luckily, the blinds were still quite high and my third table was much better for me and once Yankees left, the curse lifted and I got some hands again.Â I had like 13 blinds, but the blinds were so high and the structure so fast that no one at the table had more than twice what I did, so nobody really wanted to call me too light.Â The most active player at this table seemed to me to be quite bad, so I called in the small blind with 53 off.Â I realize that I should have raised it, but sometimes you have to slow play.Â The flop comes J46, so I have an open ended draw and I’m seriously thinking about shipping the flop because I should have fold equity and I don’t have that many chips.Â When it comes to me, the bad player had min bet and the other limper folded.Â With the big blind yet to act, I decide to flat call here hoping to build my implied odds when I inevitably turn my straight.Â The big blind folds anyhow, so I wasted my time there.Â The turn is another Jack and it brings a back door flush draw.Â I look down at my stack and contemplate shoving and then it occurs to me that he is going to bet small again and a turn check-raise will look so strong there that I can’t resist getting all fancy.Â It sounds spewy and it could have been if he might check behind there, but he makes another min bet, just as I hoped he would.Â I consider my options for a short while as to avoid making it obvious I was going to check raise all along.Â He’s getting about 2:1, but I really don’t think he can call.Â It would essentially reverse our positions — I would be table leader and he’d be fairly short.Â He thinks for what seems like the entire 30 minute level and eventually folds.Â He claims to have folded the nut flush draw.Â So, whatever.
I fall back into boring old patient mode and drift back down like Chinese water torture.Â We have reached a mode where lots of people are shoving 66 and getting called by KQ and what not, so it is not a good time to splash around.Â Pretty much every hand that is played is for someone’s stack.Â I drift back down to around 12,000 at the second break.Â We are now down to two tables and the average is 16,000.Â Although I only have 12,000 I would say that 11 of the 16 players are between 12,000 and 18,000.Â There are a few real short stacks and a couple of bigger stacks.Â 12,000 is relatively fine.Â And also relatively desperate.Â The blinds are 600/1,200 with 100 antes.Â The average stack has an M of 6 or so.Â So, whatever.
My wifebeater wearing friend shoves over my open-raise.Â I have ATs.Â I’m getting eleventeen to one and he should be shoving much wider than he probably his, so I snap call.Â He rolls TT, but the Ace in the window crushes his hopes.Â I have him well covered and he takes his leave with no complaints, just that resigned look familiar to us all.Â Now there are something like 12 players and Jeff arrives to rail me around this time.Â I’m above average.Â I steal here and there, I’m way above average.Â I get reshoved on and have to fold and I fold for two orbits and I’m below average.Â I feel remarkably calm.Â The structure is terrible, but I think I make better decisions than most.Â Unfortunately, many of the donks have filed out as we collapse down to one table.Â There are a few good players in the field.Â One of the best players has a big stack and is quite eager to muscle people around.Â At this stage, I decide that this is the best scenario for me.Â I hope he steamrolls the short stacks.
A few of the shorter players bust out and we’re down to seven players with blinds of 1,000/2,000 antes of 300.Â I’ve dropped down to below 20,000 and I have to pick spots to shove randomly.Â My spots seem well chosen, because I take down a few blinds.Â I am in the big blind when the UTG player open raises.Â I’ve noticed he loves to open UTG, since he gets credit for a good hand.Â I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have a good hand.Â A very short stack pushes on the Button and he looks disgusted because he knows he will have to show his hand.Â I shove A8, hoping to give him an excuse to fold his trash.Â I think he wanted to take it, but when we count down the chips there is no way he can fold.Â The pot is just too big, so he calls me.Â He has A7, which is nice.Â The shorty has 22.Â Not bad.Â The flop has a 2.Â Bad. I turn an Ace and manage to avoid chopping the side pot.Â The short stack triples and now we have about the same.Â That sucks.Â The A7 is quite tilted by my call.Â Carlos Mortensen’s girlfriend is unimpressed.Â And pretty cute.Â And she really doesn’t like the big stack.Â While I am still mentally adding up my stack to figure out if I won or lost chips (I think I actually lost like 500), the previously short stack shoves the button.Â I have AJ, so whatever.Â I ship it.Â The big blind (the guy with A7 in the previous hand) appears to consider a call.Â He says something like “Holy Shit” which the people at the other end think was a call and they go nuts.Â He says that it wasn’t a call, and folds.Â I stack the 22 guy when he rolls A8.Â Now we are down to 6.
We play six handed forever.Â I’m relatively tight, as befits a flat payout structure like this one, but I choose my spots and hold onto my chips pretty well.Â I’m one of the two biggest stacks at this point, so I feel like I should be nearly a lock for a seat now.Â Except nothing goes according to plan.Â The shortest stack gets it all in with nine high against TT and manages to suck out.Â He was so short that he is still short after that.Â The very next hand there is a raise and a call and he shoves.Â They both call.Â On the turn one of them bets and the other raises. I celebrate the imminent departure of the short stack and silently hope for a double knockout.Â Of course, the short stack has AA and now he has more chips than me.Â Pretty much everyone takes turn being either the short stack or the big stack.Â Every time the shorter stack gets it all in, he wins.Â Usually with the worst hand.Â The AA guy makes a big bet on a river Ace and the A7 guy thinks about two days before he calls with a set.Â Getting like 5:1.Â On the river.Â My brain explodes.Â The A7 guy is convinced he is a genius.Â So, whatever.
Yet another break.Â We’ve played six handed for like 90 minutes.Â The blinds are now $2,000 and $4,000 with $500 antes.Â I have 45,000 chips which is above average.Â I meander around for this level and still no one busts.Â We reach $3,000/$6,000 with $500 and I am forced to check-fold a flop when the A7 looks like he can’t wait to bet in position.Â He does and I fold.Â Now I’m down to $30,000 or so.Â Good player open limps from UTG and poor player calls him.Â I find 66 and cram it in.Â There is a lot of dead money in the pot and I need chips pretty bad.Â The blinds fold, but the UTG limper contemplates briefly and announces he is making a $10,000 call.Â Oh well, I figure I need to win a flip here.Â Unfortunately, he has JJ so it is not exactly a coin flip.Â There is to be no suckout for me and I end up eliminated in 6th place.
I really thought I was going to win $10,000 for the last few hours.Â I regret the outcome of my last hand and obviously you can not brag about getting your money in as a 5:1 underdog, but I’m convinced that I made a good play there.Â My image was quite tight and I really thought I would pick up an extra $20,000 chips there and be in really good shape again.Â I’d do it again, but hopefully I’d be in a flip next time.Â So, whatever.Â It still sucks a bit.Â 6th place is worth exactly nothing.Â *sigh*
WSOP Trip Report Part Two (amusingly brief)
My troubles really began on the 7th hand of the event.Â I find myself on the button.Â UTG open limps for 25 chips (we all have almost exactly 4,000 chips at this point.Â I’ve actually already raised twice pre-flop and took down the blinds both times).Â The next few players call.Â I believe the dealer called and two of the players from the adjacent table, so I obviously call with 87s on the button.Â There are 14 to the flop.Â If ESPN had been there, they would have said 7 to the flop, but whatever.Â The flop comes down 852 with two clubs.Â This gives me top pair,Â and a flush draw.Â Somehow it checks to me.Â A smarter man would probably agreeably check behind, but I want to discourage overcards and I figure I’m in pretty good shape against most hands here, so I bet 150 into the 175 chip pot and three other players find a call.Â One of them is already on my list as hella-bad because he ran a gutshot down on an Ace high flop two hands ago.Â The pot contains 875 when the turn delivers a red 4.Â This is an odd card for me.Â I probably picked up four more outs to the gutshot and as I struggle with the question of how much I should bet, the SB fires out 500 chips and everyone else folds.Â I think over my options for a minute, but conclude I can not possibly fold and there is no real value in raising, so I just call.Â Now the pot holds 1,875 chips.Â The river pairs my 8, which could have been one of my outs.Â The SB again bets 500.Â This seems like a sick spot.Â He could easily be making a blocking bet with an overpair or bluffing a busted flush in the oddest line of all time, but would he call a raise?Â He could also be milking me with 76 or some kind of goofy full house like 82.Â Getting like 5:1, I don’t see how I can fold trips and I don’t see a point to raising there.Â In hindsight, I actually think a fold might have been correct, but I cannot find it on the spot.Â I call with a sigh and he tables 55.Â 1,200 chips from my starting stack of 3,000 vanish in the first orbit.
I remain undaunted and focus on restealing from the only other aggro player at the table.Â He is on immediate right and is visibly frustrated with me.Â At one point he asks me if I can see his cards. Â I hover between 1,500 and 2,000 for the remainder of the level managing to hit my low water mark at the end of the level when I raise QQ from the button, get called by the big blind, c-bet the Ace high flop, check the turn and call a small bet on the river.Â I tap the table when he shows his flopped top two pair.Â Nice hand, sir.Â Well played.
Level two is more of the same.Â I have to scale back on my aggression since my LAG play has diminished the respect I get at the table.Â There are still really only two players willing to play pots with me.Â One guy literally only plays two hands the entire first two levels.Â Once he raises and shows AA and the other hand he doesn’t show, but unsuprisingly doesn’t get any action from his UTG raise.Â Since he didn’t show, I assume it was AK.Â Most of my table is quite tight, actually.Â They will play multi-way limped pots, but there is very little raising and I think I’m the only three better at the table.Â By virtue of some clever play and missing every possible set, I manage to back my stack back down to 1,100 late in level two and obviously I have to shift gears a bit now.Â I figure I might be willing to resteal given the right situation, but it doesn’t actually arrive.Â Finally I raise AJs from MP3 and my awesome image results in three callers.Â I raised to 150, so the pot is 450.Â I have 950 behind.Â The flop comes King high with only one heart.Â I think about making a c-bet, but there are two players behind me and my image is not exactly stellar, so I check.Â To my amazement, the two late position players also check behind.Â That seems pretty good.Â The turn is a baby heart, giving me the nut flush draw and the BB fires out 300.Â I think for a bit and decide he could easily be betting any pair here and the guys behind seem unlikely to have much, so I jam.Â Two folds, and a tank fold from the BB.Â He was probably just doing it for show.Â This puts me back at 1,750.Â As the level draws to a close, I raise three limpers and chip up to 2,075.Â It appears that the next hand will be the last hand of the level and half the table bolts for the exit.Â However, a flop bet takes it down and the dealer looks at us and asks if she has to deal another hand with 18 seconds on the clock.Â “Hell, yes” say I, eyeing the empty BB and the departing back of the loser of the previous hand.Â There are only three of us at the table and I’m pretty sure they don’t want to play a long hand with me.Â I peer briefly at my 73 after one of the other two players folds and bolts for the exit.Â One player left who is still stacking his pot from the prior hand, so I raise.Â He eyes me suspiciously, certain that I have absolutely nothing and tosses KT into the middle, saying that I’m lucky he didn’t have a hand there.Â I cheerfully agree and end the level with 2,150.Â Every chips counts, I guess.
I’m actually feeling pretty good at the first break, despite the fact that I didn’t actually do what I had hoped.Â Early in the third level I look down at KK.Â I’ve chipped back up to 2,500 or so at this point by resuming by aggressive ways.Â I raise the UTG limper to 600, hoping that this is the time they get fed up with me.Â The small blind calls me as does the limper. Â The small blind is actually one of the better players, so this is not the best outcome, but I wanted action and action I got.Â The flop comes down J95 with two hearts.Â I, of course, have no hearts.Â The pot has 1,900 chips in it and I have 1,900 behind.Â I consider a shove, but decide instead on a little 800 chip bet.Â The small blind shoves on me.Â I have him covered by 250 chips so it is essentially 800 more to call, so I snap call before it can be counted.Â I actually miscounted and thought I had him covered by 100 more, but it didn’t change anything.Â He groaned and rolled AJ with no hearts.Â That is about as good as I could have hoped for.Â Actually better than the flush draw I figured he held.Â The turn popped off Ace and I’m down to 2.5 big blinds.
I’m UTG+1 in the very next hand and I get 83 off.Â I actually contemplate shipping my stack, but I figure I have two more hands and I’m not 100% sure everyone has noticed how short I am.Â I get 73 off on the next hand and decide I’ll take my chances on the big blind (this is almost certainly wrong, but I can’t help myself).Â Fortunately, I would have whiffed on both hands, but I probably should have shoved and hoped to triple or quadruple.Â On the next hand, my big blind, it folds around to the Button who open limps.Â I consider shoving my last 150 now, but decide it might be more amusing to ship it on the flop.Â At this point I haven’t looked yet.Â The flop comes Qxx rainbow, so I decide to take a peek.Â I resolve to check anything that connected and bet anything that missed.Â I look at two black Aces.Â This sucks.Â I guess I should have tripled before this hand.Â The Button bets 200.Â As near as I can tell, he still hasn’t figured out that I have only 15o left.Â I obviously call and double and a fraction to 550.Â Now my M has reached the lofty heights of almost 4.Â I feel rich.Â I get 52 in the small blind and there is a raise and a call, so I decide to take no part of that.Â On the button I find 77 and there is a single raiser in front of me.Â I shove 500 (he min-raised to 200).Â He obviously calls and I flip for my meager stack.Â He pairs on the turn and I say my goodbyes.
Obviously if the KK hand holds up, I have a playable stack of 5k or so and I continue my maniacal ways.Â I feel fine about the outcome, although I never really got traction.Â Losing half my stack on the first orbit was damaging to my strategy.Â In hindsight, I really could have lost less on that hand.Â I’m not certain what to do with myself, but I’m thinking seriously about grinding some limit poker.
My will is weak, however.Â There exists a non-zero possibility I will instead drink to excess.Â One or the other.Â I see as I hit publish that Hazey is also out, so drinking has increased in probability.
WSOP 2009 Trip Report, Part 1
Traveling to Vegas was a huge PITA, but I got here in the end.Â All’s well that ends well they say. I was able to check into the Rio early in the morning and get settled in my suite.Â When you are here for short bursts, the Rio is actually a pretty good choice.Â The rooms are fairly cheap and it is nice to be able to go back to your room on breaks if you want to do so.Â The rooms are very big and the beds are comfortable.Â The little window that lets you look from the room into the shower does seem to taunt me a bit when I’m forced to travel without my wife.
Around 11:00, I made arrangements to meet up with the ITH crowd.Â Chris was in the Stabucks and we hung out there for a while and caught up a bit.Â Soon, Hazey and his lovely girlfriend came by and it was cool to meet them.Â Chris had to go take his seat in the donkament, so the three of us wandered around and chatted for a while.Â We shared the usual story of nervous concern when we met our first ITHers and agreed that people have by and large turned out much more normal that you expect them to.Â I did point out that they haven’t met Nutjob yet, or they might have formed a different impression.Â Our initial plan was that the three of us were going to play in the Binion’s event today, but ultimately I was too tired from the trip to join in.
I wandered over to check out Yankee’s seat and he was seated with his back to the rail.Â His position was perfect for BSing from the rail, so I hung out there for 20 minutes and talked poker with him for a while.Â It was pretty funny, because we have that comfortable shared jargon and he’s firing out jargon about reshipping here and getting 3bet light and snap called and how live players are so different than online and most of his table is looking at him like he might have landed in a spacecraft.Â These fields are remarkably soft, but you need to get some luck to take advantage of that fact.
I decided (completely unsucessfully) that taking a nap would be the best move for me.Â I watched some bad TV and eventually gave up and wandered back down to the poker room to collect Chris when he managed to bust out.Â We spent the usual period of time deconstructing his key hands and agreeing that he played them fine.Â We mulled over alternative lines, but never really could make a case that any of them were much better.Â Soon it was time for the next break, so we headed back down the endless Rio hallway to the poker room (Chris has graciously agreed to watch me eat).Â I do a lot of walking because the poker room is like a mile from the room.
Not only did we determine that Yankees was still in (true to form, Chris picked him out of a crowded room in ten seconds), but we did a pretty good of guessing his stack despite the fact that Yanks was keeping his stack curled up in one hand the entire time.Â Even better, on the break I spied a guy walking past in an A’s cap and sure enough it turned out to be the long missing Taardvark!Â We caught up with his location and found that he shared our view of the field.Â He was just shaking his head at some of the things he had seen.Â Chris and I decided we would play a single table sat while we waited for the dinner break.
My table took forever to start because one of the players had to get her player’s card and we waited 20 minutes for her to return.Â This shouldn’t be allowed, but I was in a patient mood.Â To say that my table was populated by clueless people was an understatement.Â When the cocktail waitress came by, two of the players didn’t know that drinks were free.Â One guy couldn’t get a drink because he had no money to tip, so I agreed to tip for him (thinking this would increase my nice guy image and improve my deal making if it came to that).Â Play was terrible, as you would expect.Â I played tight in the early going, but I got a lot of good hands, so I was more active than I would have hoped to be.Â I worked my stack up to 1,800 from 1,000 when the tide started to turn.Â I called three shortstack shoves and lost all three.Â I started with the best hand every time.Â At one point, I’m down to about six big blinds, having just lost AQ < Kx.Â I shove ATC from UTG and the SB tanks for a while beore folding what he reported to be A9.Â I’m too honest because when he asked me if it was a good fold, I told him it was not.Â When I was in the SB, it folded to me and I shoved something like 85 because the BB was very, very tight.Â He tanked for a while before finally calling with AQ.Â When I picked my jaw off the table, I flopped 888 and then went runner, runner full house to chop the pot with him.Â Eventually one of my shoves didn’t work, so I finished fourth and won nothing.
Unfortunately, Yankees had busted by this point, so I discussed the laughable play in the SNG with him for a while and we commisserated about the truly odd play you see in these low buy in live events.Â What do you do with the guy who keeps betting like 1/10th of the pot on all three streets with middle pair, but won’t fold.Â It feels so weak to just call these bets, but bluffing is pointless.Â We decided it was like online poker 5 years ago.Â The stop and go still works, people don’t three bet light, etc.Â Chris was still in his SNG, so we wandered over to rail Taardvark.Â Since I now knew his exact table, I figured to be able to spot him even without Chris.Â His table was still there, but he wasn’t.Â This is never a good sign.
We made it back to the sat room in time to watch Chris bust with 22 in a flip.Â I love Chris’ image.Â He wears a WSOP brand visor and he looks like a tourist from the midwest who is just happy to be here and plays like a rock.Â By the time they figure out what hit them, it is too late.Â We all went to whatever the Twisted Kilt is now called and ate some bad food and drank some good beer.Â We watched Lebron get booted from the playoffs and formulated a detailed dissection of the typical player we had seen.Â We also commented on how few people we were able to recognize from past years at this event.Â It is three huge rooms crammed full of nobody you ever saw before.Â This is a very good thing.Â The thing that is difficult when you play with novice players is to figure out what they think of their hand.Â Because they have such a poor sense of relative hand strengths, they could believe themselves very strong when they are in big trouble.Â Conversely, they could be afraid when they are very strong.Â Everyone had stories of guys checking full houses or sets behind on the river when they were insanely obviously good.
Yankees and I promised ourselves we were going to stop outsmarting ourselves.Â We both tend to make plays designed to work on thinking players that are just too cute in these situations.Â For example, Yanks had AA and raised it up to get two or three callers.Â The flop is pretty harmless and his stack is like 50% more than the pot.Â He decides that shoving all-in is the smart play.Â A good player will think this is a bad bet size and read him as weak.Â Unfortunately, the bad players read it for just what it looks like.Â “Him make big bet, him have big hand.”Â They all turbo fold.Â We decide betting half the pot and getting called once or twice is way better live.
We were enjoying each other’s company, but then two guys showed up and started playing the most horrific piano music at deafening volume.Â It is like nails on a chaulkboard and we can’t get out fast enough.Â When they start trying to do Bob Marley in a combo lounge / bad fake Jamaican accent, I want to cry.Â Once outside the restaurant, Chris peels off to go home promising to meet up tomorrow.Â After half-heartedly considering some drinking options, Brent and I decide to bail.Â I make fun of us on Twitter for a few minutes and up my wild Saturday night in Vegas going to bed at 10:00.Â No one gets shoes locked in a safe or even actually gets drunk.Â Although the guy who just discovered free drinks while playing poker was probably pretty hammered by then.
Posting when I am extremely tired is much like posting when I’m drunk in terms of how disorganized and incoherant my thoughts are, but with less entertainment value.Â Therefore, I make no promises about the quality of this entry.Â I’m pretty sure it will be so long that even my mom doesn’t make it to the end.Â I’m also too tired to reread and proof.Â So there.
My first set of thoughts is about the parallel universe that exists in the travel business.Â When things go wrong at the airport, there is the world that exists for 95% of the travelling public and then there is the secret world for frequent travellers who know the tips and tricks.Â It doesn’t make things perfect, but it makes them better.Â For instance, last night my flight from Richmond was getting the usual two hour delay 15 minutes at a time treatment.Â Eventually they admit there will be a substantial delay and urge anyone making connections to come to the podium.Â A mob scene out of a bad movie ensues and people line up for a quarter mile from the agent out to the TSA screening station.Â Instead of joining the massive line, I phone up the frequent flier help desk and ask them what can be done.Â They review all the alternatives with me and we settle on still waiting for the Philly flight in the hopes that my Las Vegas connection will be equally delayed.Â Just in case, however, they also “protect me” on the first flight out of Richmond into Charlotte connecting through to Las Vegas in the morning, arriving at 9:30AM. Â She tells me this is important because the flight only has two seats left. Â A full hour later, the guy who was sitting next to me when they made the announcement returns to his side and tells me dejectedly that he is taking his chances on connecting in Philly, as it turns out to Las Vegas.Â Â His next best option doesn’t arrive until dinner time the following day into Vegas.Â I murmur something sympathetic and excuse myself as they are now boarding the first class section.Â I sit down and nurse my aggrivations with a bourbon and ginger ale.Â Â They advise me to drink up because it will too rough to serve me in the air, so they suggest I can get two drinks in while we wait for the rest of the people to board.Â Cheers to that!Â I nod to my new friend in a pleasantly buzzed way as he files past me later.Â When we land, my phone chirps with a text to let me know I missed the connection because the Vegas flight has already left.Â Everyone is urged to go to special services to get a new ticket if they need help.Â The line is already long before my plane load of people join it.Â Â I go buzz the door on the “Club” and tell the very sympathetic lady at the front desk my tale of woe.Â These ladies have far more lattitude than the people at Special Services and there was no line. I explain my goals and problems to her and she suggests that I would benefit from a drink at the bar while she works on the issue on my behalf.Â With a smile, she proffers a free drink coupon.Â I return a few moments later with a drink in hand and she is madly pounding on keys.Â She tells me that the phone people were wise to hold the Charlotte flight, because they have nothing until late the next day from Philly and she wouldn’t want me to have to fly stand-by.Â It turns out that the flight to Charlotte is also quite late, so I can get to Charlotte that night.
She tells me that the system is being stubborn and refusing to give me my first class upgrade because the flight is completely full and other folks have already claimed the precious long distance upgrades.Â Not satisfied with this outcomes, she mutters and types and eventually forces me into a first class seat.Â Â Â I’m not sure how she did it, because when I view my reservation online it goes wonky and prints a bunch of **** characters and can’t even figure out if I am in coach or first.Â However, I have the boarding pass and they are going to have to wrestle me out of the seat now!Â She also makes a few phone calls and finds a free hotel room for me in Charlotte.Â This is quite unusual these days because they really don’t have to put you up if the flight was delayed by weather.Â After indulging in one last drink, I file out to catch my flight to Charlotte.Â On the way to the gate, I pass my friend from Richmond. He tells me that it took 90 minutes to get the front of the special services line, at which point they tell him that the soonest they can promise he can get to Vegas is 10:00pm the next day and he has to pay for his own hotel room.Â They offer him no help in finding one.Â They do tell him he can spend all day in the airport the next day and if they happen to have any empty seats on an earlier flight, they will squeeze him in.Â He doesn’t look very happy.Â I’m not buzzed enough not to feel sorry for him.Â I tell him that I am flying to Charlotte where I will take my chances there the next day.Â He offers sympathies, thinking I have it worse than him.Â I don’t have the heart to tell him that I have confirmed first class seats and I’ve been sitting down watching TV and drinking bourbon the whole time.
Most of the time, those lounges simply provide a relatively more quiet place to stay and wait for your flight.Â The seats are a bit nicer and there are snacks and drinks, but that isn’t why hte lounges are worth the money.Â The ability of the ladies at the desk to work miracles when the weather is bad or a flight is delayed is worth twice the price.Â At a minimum.
I have been entertaining myself by reliving some of the events of my deep run last year in the Limit event.Â As I reread and listened to the old podcasts, I remembered so many things that I had forgotten.Â There was a window of time on Day Two of that event where I was in a kind of poor man’s perfect poker Zen state.Â I felt perfectly in tune with the table and the players facing me.Â I seemed to notice everything.Â The one small twinkle of delight that passed on the player’s face as he celebrated what I now deduced to beÂ a succesful bluff.Â The brief expression of disgust from the folding player who was watching the bluffer intently for exactly the sign that I saw.Â The narrowed eyes and angry contenance that told me he was going to tilt for a while.
The podcasts reminded me of one of my favorite personal poker moments of all time.Â Bull was watching me from the rail and providing moral support on the breaks.Â Either on a break or an impromptu conference on the rail I mentioned that a player on my right was looking like a good target.Â A short while later, I pressured him off a hand on the flop.Â Shortly thereafter, we got a break and as I shuffled to the rail Bull asked me what I had in that hand.Â I told him truthfully “Nothing, but I knew he would fold.”Â Bull gave me a look that made me feel good.Â We both knew I was playing good poker and that I really had a good sense of what was going to work at that table.Â For at the least this once, I really was playing the player more than the cards.
Those moments where I felt like I had a perfect feeling for the flow of the game and felt almost like I could tell them “These are the not the droids you are looking for” were really the best high I’ve got from poker.Â I don’t seem to be able to stay in that zone forever.Â Maybe sometimes I can’t do it with some players at all.Â But when I can get in that state, it is one of the best feelings I know.Â I think it is what most of chase down in the Amazon Room.Â Those moments where you are perfectly in the moment, completely able to make the optimal decision and able to take each situation as it comes.Â The real struggle in poker is to play as close to that level as we can during the other moments.Â But I really don’t think I’ve ever found anything as great as the way I feel in those moments.Â It would be brilliant if it also came with a bracelet and millions of dollars, but to be honest if I can just feel myself in that zone for a few hours again I’d do it every year.Â (Hopefully Suited didn’t read this far, because I’m pretty sure she really hopes that this year is the last).
The judge has issued the formal order in the case which starts the clock ticking on the deadline for Gowen to refile.Â It is fairly critical of the initial complaint, charactarizing it as “problematic in its breadth” and “reaching too far.”Â Although most of the claims permitted Gowen to refile, there was at least one claim dismissed in its entirety.
If you read the transcript of the hearing (at the end of the response brief), you will see that the judge was even more harsh, pointing out that many of the allegations are going to be very difficult to prove.
It appears to me that Gowen needs to retool her pleadings to focus more tightly on the breech of contract claims and not continue the kitchen sink approach followed thus far.Â I think that first impressions created with the judge are important and her side is clearly starting in a pretty deep hole.
On backing and its associated psychology
As in past year’s WSOP events, I am taking small amounts of backing money from friends that want to “invest” in my WSOP endevours.Â With my 24th place finish last year, people seem to easily imagine the big rewards that would have come my way if the cards broke differently.Â Apparently, they don’t give the same credence to the lesser results that might have come with slightly different luck.
The simple fact is that it is hard to know your true expectation in tournament style poker.Â The vissitudes of fate are such that you would really have to play in a thousands or more events before you could start to think that your returns reflect your true expectation.Â One of the reasons for this is that the payouts are so top heavy.Â Fully 20% of the prize pool in the event that I finished 24th in was awarded to the winner.Â Obviously, it is therefore crucial to your long term earn rate that you win more often than the average player.Â Unfortunately, many of the WSOP events I play in have 2,000 or so entrants.Â Even if I win at a rate twice as often as the average player, I would only expect to win every 1,000 events or so.Â Given that I typically play 3 or 4 a year, it will be 250 years or so on average before I am “overdue” for a win.
Expanding the definition of a great result a bit, you see that those who make the final table earn about 70% of the prize pool.Â Given that I am nine times more likely to make a final table than to win the thing, I should be able to pull off a final table every 111 events or so (again assuming I am twice as good as the average player).Â Â Unfortunately, given my rate of play that still means I can’t really start to whine until I’ve played for 28 years or so.
The only statistic that I can actually start to evaluate at all is my rate of getting paid at all.Â In general, about 10% of the field gets paid and if I am twice as good as the field, I should cash in every fifth event I play.Â At this point, I think I have played in 9 WSOP events (although it may be eight) and I have cashed in two of them, so I guess I’m more or less on track there.Â Of course that also means that in the three events I’m expecting to play this year there is a very real chance that I don’t cash in any of them.
Furthermore, I’m not confident that I really am twice as likely as the average player to cash or win a WSOP event.Â This is because I’m not convinced anyone really is that much more likely to cash or win.Â Even if you are twice as good as the average player, there are so many situations that simply don’t require much skill to play.Â If you have QQ or KK and the other guy has KK or AA and the stack sizes are right, you are going to lose all your chips to him 80% of the time.Â It doesn’t matter how much better than him you are.Â I would think that a large proportion of poker situations are played in way that is correct or at least only minimally bad by virtually everyone.Â The actual situations where your skill afford you an advantage are a reasonably small subset of the total number of situations you find.Â Even then, your skill advantage will usually only translate to a 70% or even 60% advantage.Â Tournament poker is a ridiculously uncertain way to earn a living.
As a result many of the top pros have various backing deals.Â In most of these deals they get their entry fees paid by other people with deep pockets and then they keep a percentage of what they win.Â This kind of deal is irresistable to many tourney players because they risk nothing and they still get a chunk of what they win (as much as 40% for the best players).Â These deals are not quite as easy to get as they used to be because many people who provide the backing have discovered that it isn’t such a great deal for them.Â I know at least two people who used to provide backing to many players who have cut way, way back.
In my case, however, I give my backers a much better deal.Â I don’t keep any share of the money that I win with their money.Â If I took backing of 100% of my buy-in, I wouldn’t be able to win any money at all.Â This would obviously make no sense for me.Â However, in practice I end up taking not more than a thousand or so in backing, so I don’t have to give up everything I win.Â I feel bad holding back a percentage of my winnings because I’m not really primarily a tourney player, but I feel like I’m giving backers a deal that is the long run profitable for them as a result.Â Despite that, I’m also not that crazy about the deals because I dread the idea that I will actually lose their money a high percentage of the time.Â It is a bit like a lottery.Â If this is the one time in 111 that I make a final table, they could win a lot of return.Â However, if it isn’t, there is a good chance that they will only get back a small percentage of their money or even nothing at all.
Of course, if I end up playing the Main Event, I’ll be happier with the idea of backers because the $10,000 entry fee seems like real money to me.Â The smaller buy-ins don’t seem like much cash at all, so I don’t especially value the discount that backers provide.
Amusing trivia discovered while running the numbers for this blog entry:Â I’m 877th all time in the world in terms of money earned playing Limit Hold’em in WSOP events.Â Given that I have played exactly two Limit Hold’em events in the WSOP in my life, that sounds pretty good to me.
Forced to update my blog theme
It was one of those cascading things.Â I wanted to show my tweets on the blog and that created a problem because I had a very old theme that didn’t support all the cool new features of the new WordPress.Â Well, actually, I didn’t even have the cool new version of WordPress either.Â One thing led to another thing and I find that I had to change everything to get the features I wanted.Â At this point most everything I want to work is functional, although I’ll probably still make a few changes yet.Â For instance, at the moment I can’t see my custom made header with the cool cartoon shark that is my favorite image.
I suck at graphics and as you can probably see, the old header image doesn’t just plug in:
I might have to find someone talented on ITH to suck up to…
There may be some weirdness going on the blog and the RSS feed today.Â I am testing out integration with Twitter, which looks like what I will use to update people on my progress in the WSOP.Â You can check out my poker Twitter activity at http://www.twitter.com/nsidestrate to get the information directly.Â During the WSOP, I hope to have things set up so that Tweets go directly here as well, so that you can satisfy your urgent need for updates on my progress (Hi Mom!)
I have found a pretty decent replacement for the podcast service I used last year so I will be doing a mixture of text and twitter updating.