It's a little late but here it is! Event #12, $2,500 no limit hold 'em, started with 1290 players and I had great feeling about it going in. On the very first hand of the tournament I easily could have gone broke. I was two off the button with J 9 and I considered raising because the players in the blinds had not yet arrived at the table, but their chips were still in the pot (you don't get a free trip through the blinds if you're not there yet). Despite what looked like easy money out there, I decided to fold and the player to my left, a 50ish Englishman, made it 125 to go (the blinds were 25/25). The player to his left made it 300, he called, and the flop came J J 4. I was kicking myself for folding what would have been trip jacks until the Englishman checked and called a bet of 800. It looked like one of these fellows probably had a J. The turn was another 4 and the Englishman instantly put the rest of his 1400 chips into the pot. After about a good 3 or 4 minutes the other player folded QQ face up and the Englishman showed a 4 to the table. He threw in both of his cards face down and someone asked "what did he show?" Everyone said "a four," but the Englishman reached out a flipped up one of the cards he'd just folded anyway. It was a four, BUT the card he flipped up wasn't the same 4 he'd already shown - he'd made four of a kind. I don't think anyone noticed that he'd grabbed a different card but I was sitting right next to him so I caught it. If I had seen the flop I would have been out on the first hand.
A few hands later I dodged another bullet. One player raised to 100, another made it 300 to go and I looked down at JJ - the 4th or 5th best starting hand in hold 'em. Raising, calling and folding were all options here. If I raised and got reraised I could be sure I was against a bigger pair, but I'd be risking about a third of my chips to find out. If I called and the board was all small cards I'd probably go broke if someone had me beat. I decided it was still too early and folded. The player who'd had QQ in the first hand moved all in with 99 and was called by one of the other players who showed KK and won the pot with a full house.
Despite my Matrix style bullet dodging I was still getting hit with some shrapnel and found myself down to 1100 chips after the first hour. I had yet to win a pot even though I'd been getting some pretty good cards. I caught my first break in round 2 with the blinds a 25/50 when the button open raised to 150. After finding 22 in my hand, I got aggressive and moved all in. I'd be about a 53% favorite against any non pair and I was planning on winning the pot before the flop. My opponent called in about 1/10 of a second and I said "show me ace king!" AK and pairs much bigger than 22 were the only hands that would require no thought before a call. Happily he showed me AK, the cards that came out in the middle of the table were all garbage and I doubled up to about where I started.
Perhaps the easiest chips I picked up in the entire WSOP came to me a few hands later. The Englishman (who was super aggressive) open raised to 150 (this was a little out of character because he was normally raising to 5 to 10 times the big blind - too much in my opinion) and the button called. I was in the big blind and picked up two red 10's. I thought about just calling, but I figured the Englishman could have a wide range of hands and if the other player had anything great he would have rerasied so it was likely I had the best hand. I made it 650 to go and after about 30 seconds the Englishman called and the button quickly folded. The flop came down 10 6 5. DING DING DING! I had the best possible hand and I tried to figure out how to get the most money into the pot. Hoping to get called or raised, I bet 500 into a 1475 pot. The Englishman thought and asked how many chips I had left (a sign that he was considering moving all in). After some more thought, he just called. At this point I was checking no matter what came on the turn. If he was thinking about moving all in I wanted to give him every indication that I had a weak hand. The turn was a small club (which put two on the board), I checked, the Englishman immediately moved all in and I almost beat him into the pot. He turned up KJ of clubs and after no club materialized on the river I took down the pot.
Up to 5000 in chips I was feeling great as I moved to a new table and we went on break. My new table was tougher than my first and I found myself sitting across from Clonie Gowen, one of the best (and best looking) female players in the world. I bled off about 1000 chips in unspectacular fashion and found myself moving yet again to another table. At this new table I found Mike "The Mouth" Matasow. Mike has the most fitting nickname in all of poker - he never shuts up. I'd seen him on TV plenty (he finished 9th out of 5600 in last years main event and has two WSOP bracelets) and he's always seemed like a prick, but he was really nice to me and was actually pretty well behaved. Of course he was still talking constantly.
Shortly after arriving at my new table I got involved in the hand that was the turning point of the event. At the start of round 4 with the blinds at 100/200 I was in the big blind with 77. The player on the button raised to 525 and I had a decision to make. I could just call the 325 more and see a flop or I could reraise and try to win the pot right there. I looked at my opponents stack and he only had about 2000 more while I had about 4000 chips so even if he called me AND I lost I'd still have 1500 left (not a ton of chips but enough to work with a little). After about 10 seconds I moved all in and he instantly called. Uh oh. I was hoping to see AK again, but instead he showed me 99 and took most of my chips. I know this was the right play and my opponent easily could have had plenty of hands that he would have folded or plenty of hands that I would be a favorite against (in fact if he had anything but a pair bigger than 77 I was ahead). I spent the next 30 hands or so looking for ANYTHING to move all in with and managed to steal the blinds a few times, but of course I had to go right back through them again. Finally with about 1200 chips left I picked up A8 of spades in late position. One player just called the big blind and I moved all in. After asking for a count of my chips he called with A 10. The flop was 9 10 J giving me a straight draw and some hope, but no help arrived and I was out.
Almost 1,000 posts since 2006 about poker including, tournaments, cash games, anecdotes, the overuse of exclamation points, and run on sentences from a retired poker pro who lives and plays in the Bay Area and is currently preparing for the 2023 WSOP.
Saturday, July 08, 2006
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