Las Vegas Part 4 - WSOP Event #54
Cashing in Event 51 was a great experience, but it really opened my eyes as to what a grind it is to go deep in these tournaments. I made sure I was back at the hotel and in bed at a reasonable time (1:00 am is ‘a reasonable time’ in Las Vegas) before Event 54 so that I got a good night’s sleep and was well rested. It was all going according to plan until I was woken up at 4:00 am by the boys returning from a night out at the Hard Rock Café. They took great pride in coming into my room, and piling on top of me in the bed. I wasn’t that bothered by it…we were in Vegas and all having a good time, but I was rather troubled by some…shall we say…’unfortunate placement’ when Jeremy jumped on me. Let’s just leave it at that.
I got up and put the same T-shirt on I had worn for the first Event, grabbed my Gryphons sweater, and headed over to the Rio early. I got myself a nice breakfast and settled in to my table.
Tony was just a few tables over from me as we were both in the Amazon room today. Jeremy was there with us well, twittering from the rail and taking pictures. My first table, table 65, was quite a cast of characters (forgive the ‘proof’ across each picture…I’ve taken them from the WSOP photo site to add dramatic context):
the pimped-out Asian guy in seat 1 who never played a hand
the quiet Canadian guy in seat 2
the nervous German in seat 3 whose hands shook whenever he raised
the ornery Texan in seat 4 with the handlebar moustache who always raised ridiculously high
the poker book-smart Brit in seat 5
the aggressive guy from Kentucky in seat 6 (who I’m sure I’ve seen somewhere before, but can’t remember his name)
the donkey elderly calling station in seat 7 (I don't know what he's doing in the picture)
the guy in seat 8 who looked mean, never said a word, and had both hands bandaged up and scarred. (Ultimate fighter?) Very intimidating.
the loud Canadian guy in seat 9
and the wanna-be Table Captain in seat 10 (who cashed #4 in a previous WSOP Event this year)
After a few hands, it was very evident that seat 6 and seat 10 were going to tangle a lot, seat 4 was going to be stubborn, and seat 5 would be playing total vanilla poker. I didn’t like being caught between the two tanglers, but I could adjust.
My first hand that I played was against the intimidating guy with the bandaged hands to my right. He had raised a couple of times already, and this time when he raised to 175, I called with pocket 4’s. One other player, the timid guy in seat 2, called behind me. The flop was K-T-7 and he checked. I checked, and seat 2 checked. The turn was a 5, and the raiser bet 400. I couldn’t put him on a king checking the flop, nor could I put the guy behind me on a big hand, so my fours were likely best. I figured I was up against AQ and AJ. I just called, and seat 2 folded. The river was a 2, and he checked. I checked behind, he said “no pair”. I showed my 44 and scooped the pot.
About 90 minutes in, the Brit in seat 5 had been shaved down to only 1300 in chips. With blinds 50/100, he raised my BB to 350 and I called with Queen-Jack of hearts. The flop was J-7-4, and he went all in. I though for a while, thinking he must have an overpair, but would have to make the same move with his chip stack if he had AK or AQ. I reluctantly called and he showed KK. No help came and I doubled him up. I was down to 2900 in chips.
The nervous German in seat 3 raised for the first time a few hands later, and I called in position with pocket tens. I almost folded, thinking he must have a big pair, but I called 300. The flop was 7-3-2, and when he bet $1000 into a $750 pot, I knew it was a bad call preflop. Maybe he had AK, but I’m pretty sure it was a big pair. I folded.
About 5 hands later, I have JJ and raised to $550. The ornery Texan was in the small blind and re-raised to $1100. Now, I wasn’t too concerned about the red-flag minimum re-raise, because he had been min. re-raising already, but I only had $1475 back after the re-raise, and I figured I’d try to get it in on the flop if I was leading. The flop was J-8-2, so when he shoved on the flop, it was a pretty easy call for me to make. He turned over AK and I knew that he needed to hit two cards to make a straight. Being a 98% favourite is a good feeling. The turn was an ace, and he pumped his fist without realizing that he was now drawing dead. The river was a blank and I doubled up.
Just before the first break, I found pocket tens again and raised UTG. The Moustache and Kentucky both called. The flop was Q-3-4. Kentucky checked, I checked, and the Moustache checked. I had to be good with my 10’s, I thought. The turn was a 6, and Kentucky checked. I was about to bet, but the Moustache started reaching for chips already, so I waited and watched him count out 600. Hmmmmm. I checked, and sure enough, he bet 600. Did he catch a set? Is he bluffing? He can’t have a straight, because I can’t put him on 2-5 or 5-7 calling my raise. He only has $1425 behind, so I figure I’ll call the $600 and see what happens on the river. BUT…Kentucky calls the $600. What the hell? Does he have a queen? Would he really check it twice? Does he have the straight, or is he open-ended? I was very confused, and after thinking for about two minutes, I folded.
Imagine my disgust when the river came a 10. Kentucky checked and the Moustache went all-in for $1425. Kentucky called and the Moustache showed 66 for a set of sixes. Kentucky mucked his hand and I was furious that I would have busted the Moustache, and possibly won a pot of about $6000. Even though it was a good fold…and the right fold…when I made it, I was not happy. That was the last hand before the first break.
I came back from break having shaken off the potential pot I would have won. It was uneventful at my table except for the fact that the guy to my right got a massage from a ridiculously hot massage therapist (see picture above), which was very distracting. My table got broken up, and I got moved into the red section, 2 tables over from Phil Hellmuth. The new table was a quick study, one solid player with headphones on a couple of seats to my left, and a couple of Euro-donks decked out in Everest Poker gear who were acting like they were on TV. (you can see them both in the picture below.) Not a lot of threats at the table, except for the guy with the headphones.
I planned on trying to advertise somehow that I was a loose and weak player to try and get action from these guys, so I limped for $150 UTG with pocket 2’s. 4 players saw the flop of J-4-9, and I fired $450. When everyone folded, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to create that image, so I showed the 22.
A few hands later, I’m on the button and 3 players have limped in for $200. I have Jack-Ten of diamonds, so I call the $200, and 6 of us see the flop. The flop is J-2-2 with 2 spades. All 5 players check to me and I bet a tiny bet of $300 to see if the blinds call. Both blinds call, and everyone else folds, so I’m wary of a 2, or possibly a flush draw. The turn is the 3 of spades, and the Euro-donk in the small blind now bets out $1000. The big blind folds and I instantly fold my J-T face-up. He happily shows his flush and exhales as he scoops the pot. This table is awesome…everything is going according to plan.
On my next big blind, it gets folded to me and I get a walk with….10-5 of clubs! The irony. But after that pot, I couldn’t get a hand. Seriously…I folded every single hand for over 2 hours. I couldn’t get a playable hand at all. All that work to cultivate an image to this table, and now I can’t capitalize on it. The only exciting thing during my fold-fest was the rotating carousel of players who kept coming into the seat to my right and busting. I saw 4 or 5 different players come in to that seat and bust. After a European woman (in Everest Poker gear!) lasted 3 hands there, another Euro-donk pretty boy with a popped collar came and sat down.
The very first hand he played, the blinds were $100/$200 and he threw a $500 chip in. The dealer said ‘call’, and he said, “No, I said $500.” The dealer said he didn’t hear it, and Johnny Collar-Popper looks at the guy on his right and asks if he heard it. The player says no, and then he asks me if I heard him, and I say no. Now, I have my iPod in, and he says angrily in his German-or-Austrian-or-whatever-the-hell-it-was accent, “But…but…you haff muu-sic in your earssss.” So I take my earphones out and say, ‘It’s not my responsibility to hear what you said. You have to make sure he hears it”, indicating the dealer. He’s nice and riled up, so when I look at my cards and see Ace-8 of clubs, I almost called, but he’s so upset, that I have to be crushed with a bigger ace or a big pair, so I fold. Now he’s still going on and on about how I should have confirmed his raise, and he’s pissed at me, so I say to him, aggressively, “Listen, it’s not my job. It’s your job. I didn’t hear you. I’m not going to lie for you just so you can have your raise. Now get over it!” He backs off and ends up winning with JJ on a board of QA2KQ…a hand that I would have won with my Ace-8. He apologized to me 2 hands later.
That was the only excitement for over 2 hours, as I continued folding and folding, unable to pick up a hand. I raised once with J-9 of spades when it was folded to me on the button, and I stole the blinds and antes, but that was it. That picture above is what it looks like after you fold for 3 hours.
My table got broken again, and I got moved to another table, in seat 4. There were 2 very aggressive players in Seat 1 and 2, obvious internet players who kept chatting with each other. Both had big stacks and they were raising constantly. My dry run continued and I folded for over an hour at this table. I was down to 2200 in chips, and it was not looking good. I raised all-in from the cutoff seat with 77, and stole the blinds and antes, moving up to $2725.
The aggressive guy in seat 1 had raised my Big Blind every hand since I was just folding every time (I would have too), and the next time, he had raised to $525 and I had Ace-9. I know this is beating his raising range here, plus I have the image of a rock at this table, so I shove for my whole stack. He has over $20K, but he’s thinking for a while. He asks if I’m the type of guy who would just re-raise to steal. I responded “What about the last hour would make you believe I’m that ‘type of guy?’” He shows an ace and folds. Up to $3400.
More folding…no hands. And this table gets broken up, so I’m off to my fourth table. I’m down to $2500 in chips, and the blinds are $150/$300. My big blind gets raised AGAIN, and I find pocket 5’s, which might as well be pocket aces since it’s been so long since I’ve had a playable hand. I shove for my stack and get called by Ace-King. I win the race and double up.
The very next hand, there’s a raise to $825, and I find QQ in the small blind. I re-raise for my whole stack of just over $5500.
(this is what it looks like when you’re all-in with pocket queens and waiting to see if he calls you)
He folds, and I’m up to about $7000.
The very next hand, I’m on the button and one player limps for $300. I look down and find KK. A standard raise is probably the right move here, but I’m hoping someone will get stubborn if I raise all-in 3 hands in a row…so I shove. Both blinds fold, and the limper thinks for a long time before folding. I’ve only been at this table for about 10 minutes, and I don’t want them to think I’m a maniac, so I decide to show the kings. Up to about $8000 in chips.
Next hand, I have 99 in the cutoff, and one player has limped in front of me. 4 pairs in a row? 3 straight pots? Let’s not push my luck…I just call the $300. Flop comes J-Q-4 and I fold to a bet.
So, I settle in at this table for the next hour or so, and I’m chatting with the guy to my right, who is from Toronto. We’re talking about where we play in Ontario and I mention that I regularly play at the casino in Brantford. (Props to the OLG Brantford crew! How many of you are reading here?) There’s a guy in seat one who is all surly and sulky, and he’s wearing a Red Hot Poker Tour T-shirt. Now, for those of you who don’t know what the Red Hot Poker Tour is, it’s a free tour (in Ontario) that travels around to bars where you don’t have to pay to get in, but you get points, and if you get like a billion points, you can win something. This is relevant to know for the next couple of hands, which took place right before the dinner break.
I’m in the Small Blind and Mr. Red Hot Poker Tour just limps for $400. It’s folded to me in the small blind, and I have King-Jack. I call, and the big blind checks. The flop is K-8-2, I check, the BB checks, and Mr. Red Hot Poker Tour bets $1100. I just call to see what the BB will do, and I plan on shoving on any turn that isn’t an ace. Time for the old ‘Stop-and-Go’. The BB folds as expected, and the turn is a 7. I shove for over $5000, and he’s visibly angry. He says “They only have limit in Brantford. Where did you learn THAT move?” It was all I could do not to burst out laughing, like this guy is Phil Hellmuth and I’m some newbie who has never played before. So...as much as I wanted to respond “I learned it in a poker tournament that I actually had to pay to get into”, I chose not to go full-asshole-mode, and instead just smiled and said “On the Red Hot Poker Tour.” He disgustedly folded and I raked in a pot, bringing me up to $8400.
The very next hand is the last hand before the dinner break, and this old Greek guy who hadn’t played a hand since I’ve been at this table, raises in early position. I fold and walk over to the rail to talk to Jeremy (our table is right on the rail, so he was standing right behind seat 2), so I’m standing behind Mr. Red Hot Poker Tour, still furious, when he decides to get stubborn and defend his big blind against an obviously strong hand. The flop is K-5-3 and Angry Man shoves all-in, and the Greek happily calls with Pocket Kings. Mr. Red Hot Poker Tour is furious, and ranting, and swearing, because he’s drawing dead on the turn, and eliminated from the tournament. “How can this guy be so f*cking lucky? Jesus!” he screams…and it was all I could do, not to lean over his shoulder and gently ask, “Gee, where did you learn THAT move?”
At the dinner break with $8350.
Went for dinner with Jer and Tony. Tony was up and down, but still healthy. He had a pro at his table (I will leave the name out of the post) who was twittering his hands at the table, so Tony looked up his twitter account and was finding out what he had and what he was folding, or when he was bluffing. Good information to have. We’re both under average stack, so there’s work to do.
Now, just a quick note: from this point forward I stopped taking notes, and tried to just focus on the game, so there will obviously be less details going forward since I’m working from memory instead of from logged information.
After the dinner break, I came back to my table and found Ace-Queen on the 2nd hand. I raised to $1350, and was re-raised by the small blind to $4600. I folded.
My table got broken up about 30 minutes later, and I was off to my 5th table of the day. This was a great table. The people were good, everyone was getting along, the chips were flying back and forth, and we were all having a good time. I doubled one kid up after being priced in, and then went totally card dead again. I folded…and folded…and folded…and folded…then folded some more…and folded…and kept folding…you get the idea.
But while it was mentally defeating earlier, it wasn’t as bad now because I was having a good time. Don’t get me wrong, it was still dire and I needed big time help to get back into the tournament, but psychologically it wasn’t as bad as it was before just folding and folding silently. We were having a blast…I was the jester, the class clown, and my table loved me. I know…I know…you guys reading this who play with me regularly are having a really tough time believing that…I would too. But it was a great table. My master plan, as I explained it to them, was for our table to get broken up (which was going to happen soon anyway) and for us all to reconvene at the final table for some great television. I was chatting with a guy to my right, Shane, and we were getting along really well. I was folding constantly and losing antes and blinds…getting whittled away. And the guys at the table kept asking, “Sean, when are you gonna move? You gotta do it soon…you have no chips.” And with under $4000 chips and the blinds at $300/$600, they were right, but I wasn’t going to shove with a crappy hand in the WSOP.
So the dealer at our table now is named Steve, and he was the dealer in Event 51 when I busted Mike Watson. I recognize him as he’s coming, but he mentions it when he sits down and sees me. I’m down to $3000 in chips, and I’m 2 away from paying my next Big Blind. This will be the last hand before the break, and the blinds will be going up to $400/$800 when we get back. I look down and find Ace-King of spades. Shane is first to act and he asks me, “Sean, is this the hand?” And I honestly tell him, “This is 100% the hand.” He says, “Ok, I’ll just call then, and then I’ll double you up”, and he calls the $600. I go all-in for my last $3000, and everyone folds to the small blind, a friendly guy from Quebec named Phil. Phil has about 30K in chips and has to call $2700. He smiles at me and folds. The Big Blind is a nice guy from Oklahoma with an orange shirt and a wide-brimmed hat. He has about 25K in chips and has to call $2400. He smiles and folds. So now it’s just up to Shane, who has just under 40K in chips and is already in for $600. He counts out the $2400 and is about to call when the kid in seat 8 says “Shane! Just fold…let him have it. We don’t want him to go!”
What the F*&$ ?
So Shane looks at him, looks at me, and then goes “Ok man…it’s yours.” I show the Ace-King and everyone has a good laugh. Everyone takes off for break as I’m stacking my chips and I’m the only one at the table when Steve the dealer looks at me and says “How the F*ck did you get them to do that?” and I said, “I don’t know!”
I'm at 5600 chips on the break. I saw Shane outside and commended him for the good karma he had coming his way for the rest of the tournament.
We come back from break and in my Big Blind, the guy from Oklahoma raises to $2500, and I find AK again. I go all in for just over $5000 and he calls with 99. He actually says to me "I don't mind losing if it's to you" and Steve just smirks and shakes his head. I flop an ace and double up.
A couple of hands later, a German guy at our table raises to $2100, and I find 99, and go all in for just under $10,000. He folds, and I have $13,000 as our table breaks.
Off to my sixth table of the day, Blue Table #2, right by the Pit Stand for the Tournament directors. Early on at this table, not knowing how everyone plays, and with a raise and a call in front of me, I folded pocket 8's and was livid when an 8 hit the flop. But that shortly changed to relief when I saw the initial raiser make a straight on the turn. Bullet dodged.
Then, this kid who had been bluffing for a couple of hands and lost about 3/4 of his stack, shoved all-in for about $7,500 on my big blind. I found those pocket 8's again, and called. He had Ace-Ten, and no help came for him as I eliminated him and moved up over $20,000. Steve then happened to be walking by my table and saw my stack. He patted me on the back and said "I still can't believe they folded to you, but nice comeback." We're now about 30 minutes from the end of Day One.
2 hands later, it's folded to me on the button and I have King-Jack. I have an aggressive guy in the small blind with a big stack, and a timid kid in the big blind who has been folding every hand and only has about 7K left. I played scared at the end of Day One yesterday, and I don't think I should be folding this hand here in this position. Blinds are $500/$1000 and I raise to $3,200. The small blind folds and the kid goes all in for $7100. I'm priced in, so I call, and he has Ace-7. He hits an ace and I double him up. Easy come, easy go. Back down to $13,000.
I didn't play another hand for the final 30 minutes, but lost blinds and antes to bring me down to only $8,500 in chips. Not a good start for Day 2.
For Event 51, with 10 minutes left in Day One, they stopped the clock and announced that we would be playing 7 more hands. The guy beside me today asked how they determine that. I said I didn't know, and then suddenly, one of the tournament directors taps him on the shoulder and holds out 5 cards face down. "Pick one" he says, and the guy picks a card, which the TD shows to be a 4. "Good choice, he says" and picks up a microphone and announces to the room that we will be playing 4 more hands and then bagging our chips. This is the high-tech operation they have to determine the number of hands? Funny...
So I bag my chips and get my table assignment for day 2. I find out that Tony surged up and ended the day with $20,500, so that was good news. The fact that we were both into day 2 was great news. There were 376 players left, so we were only 79 away from the money.
The three of us grabbed some food and a few beers, then hit the sack. Day 2, we woke up and went online to see our starting tables. Tony was in good shape proportionate to his chip stack, but I was surrounded by big stacks, including WPT winner Alex Bolotin (who also went on to win the Ante Up For Africa Charity Event a few days later), and 2007 WSOP Main Event phenomenon Hevad 'Rain' Khan.
I was dealt some decent hands, like A8 and A9, but with raises in front of me, I wasn't ready to commit all of my chips calling them away. Finally it was folded to me on Hevad Khan's big blind and I shoved for $6,000 with Ace-7, fully expecting him to call with a stack over $20,000, but he smiled and showed me 8-2, and said "you live another day, my friend." I pointed at him and said "you're my best friend in the world right now!"
A few hands later, I'm under the gun with $8,500 and about to lose another $1,800 in blinds, when I find King-Jack of spades, so I push all-in, and Khan goes all-in behind me. Before the cards get flipped up, I say, "I don't know if you're my best friend anymore." Then we flip our cards and I see he has pocket 10's...which is pretty much the best thing for me, meaning it's a coin flip. "Actually, we're still good." I said, and we both laughed.
No help came, 10-10 beats K-J, handshakes all around, and I was out in 359th place. So close.
I promptly went over to Tony's table and pulled up a chair and rooted him on to make it into the money, which he did about 40 minutes later. He ended up finishing 261st. Great showing.
So, to summarize...2 tournaments with 2,800 players, and I finished 217th and 359th. I'm pretty proud of that. Can't wait until next year.
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