Today's No limit hold 'em $5,000 buy in event event started with around 650 players almost 200 more than last years 466. The field was packed with the worlds best and it seemed like I recognized a player from TV at almost every table (Howard Lederer and Phil Ivey were sitting right next to each other and the spectators loved it). At the start of round 2 with the blinds at 50/100 I got involved in my first real pot (I'd won a couple of baby pots but nothing worth mentioning). The player 2 spots in front of the big blind called 100 and after a few folds in between us I also called 100 with 10d 9d. The big blind checked and we took the flop 3 way. I was happy to see the flop come 8d 6d 4h giving me a flush draw, a gutshot straight draw, and two over cards. After a check from the big blind the other player, who was the big stack at the table with over 10,000 chips (we started with 5000) bet out 300. This guy had been in a lot of pots so it was hard for me to limit what he might have, but I sure as hell wasn't folding. If I raised and he had a big hand I might find myself facing a decision for my entire stack so in order to avoid risking too much on this one hand I just called. The big blind quickly folded and the turn was a 9. Not the 7 of diamonds I was dreaming about, but still a good card for me. The big stack checked and I bet out 700. 10 seconds passed and he put another 700 in the pot. The turn was a black J and we both checked. He turned over 8h 5c (that's right 8 5!) and I took the pot with my pair of 9's. This guy didn't seem like and idiot and I can't imagine why he decided to play this hand when he folded plenty before the flop. Of course if he hit big there's be no way for me to put him on 8 5, but that doesn't even make it close to the right thing to do. It was very strange.
Shortly after my table broke (every time 10 seats total open up at other tables the players from one game are split up and moved to fill in the gaps) and I was moved to a new game. My new game was super tough. To my immediate left was Eric Seidel who is 5th all time with 7 WSOP bracelets (You might remember him from the movie Rounders as the guy who lost to Johnny Chan on the last hand of the 1988 WSOP main event). Two seats to his left was Alan Cunningham who has 3 bracelets, a few seats to his left was Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier (she's kind of a B list poker celebrity, but still a great player), and next to her was a guy that I think was somebody, but I couldn't place. There weren't many soft spots in this game. About an hour after I got there Siedel went broke, but was replaced by a guy (who I didn't recognize) wearing a 2006 WSOP bracelet.
I was up to about 8000 chips with the blinds at 100/200 and a 25 chip ante (in the later stages of tournaments they have both blinds and antes) when the following hand came up. I had 9h 9c in first position and raised to 600 (as soon as I did it I thought I should have made it 800 or even 1,000 because I didn't want more than one caller if that) and got called by the big stack (and English dude with about 25,000 chips). I hadn't been at the table for a particularly long time so I hadn't totally pegged how this guy played, but I'd seen enough to be sure that he didn't have a pair bigger than my 99 (he would have rerasied with a big pair). I figured him for something like AJ or a medium to small pair. The flop was 6d 5d 5h which I thought was a good flop. I bet out 1500 into the 1750 pot. My opponent thought for about 5 seconds and flicked three 500 pink chips into the pot. I was thinking "get low and black" and I got half of what I asked for. The turn was as 4 of diamonds. This card put me in an extremely difficult spot (the exact kind you need to avoid if you're going to do well). My opponents play was consistent with a flush draw and if he had a flush I'd be drawing dead to a 9 or a 5. If he had 77 or 88 I still had him beat, but he'd have 10 outs going into the river with 77 (two 7's, four 3's and four 8's) and 6 outs (two 8's and four 7's) with 88. Plus if he had a diamond he's add eight more outs to 77 and eight more to 88 (some of the diamonds are already accounted for in the straight possibilities ie the 3 of diamonds) If he had 22 or 33 I'd be in a similar spot although he's have a harder time called with these hands if I bet. Of course if he had 66, 55 or 44 I'd be in horrible shape. But, there was also a chance he just had overcards maybe with a diamond and maybe not. The biggest reason why I was in such a quandary was the pot already had 4750 in it and I only had 5900 left. If I bet again I'd have almost all of my chips in the pot and be forced to call any raise he might make. If I bet small (something like 1000 or 1500) there was a good chance that my opponent would interpret that as weakness and put me all in regardless of what he had. I decided to check and my opponent bet 1750. Now what? This bet made sense for someone who'd just made a flush, but part of me said "move all in!" I decided to just call in the hopes that even if I didn't have the best hand I might get to see a showdown without putting all of my chips in the pot. The river was the 3d. AAAAACCCKKKK! Now I can't beat anything! My only hope was that he didn't have a diamond and would now check fearing that I did AND my hand would somehow hold up. Sadly he bet out 3,000. I only hand 4000 left and was forced to fold. I showed my 99 and tossed it in the muck and he showed me Ks Qs! AAAAACCCKKKK! What have I done? It felt like I'd been punched in the chest. Looking back there really wasn't much wrong with how I played the hand, but I could have done a lot of things differently. I could have raised more before the flop (or just called), I could have bet more on the flop, I could have bet the turn, I could have moved all in when he bet the turn, or I could have called on the end (which would not have been a good play, but believe me I desperately wanted to) All of these thing might have allowed me to win the pot and some certainly would have.
I went on 2nd break with about 3500 chips. Shortly after we came back with the blinds at 150/300 and a 25 chip ante I got involved in another questionable hand. I was in the big blind and 5 players called 300 chips in front of me. I looked down at Q 6 and moved all in for 3025 more. Q 6 WHAT? Has he lost his mind? I'm sure most of you are thinking something like that, but allow me to explain the logic. In the pot already is 2050 (300 for each of the five callers + 300 for my big blind + 250 in antes) and if anyone had anything good they would have raised. Sometimes people with just call with AA or KK if they are the first one in, but people raise good hands when there are already callers in front of them. These people have only put 300 in the pot effectively telling me that their hand is ok, but not great and now they have to call another 3,000 with a hand that's not great. If no one calls I pick up 2,050 without a confrontation and even if someone does call I still have a chance to out draw them. This is a not too unusual play which is sometimes referred to as "dropping the all in bomb." I knew I needed to make a move soon since every time the button made one orbit it would cost me 700 chips (450 in blinds and 250 in antes) and soon I'd be ground down to nothing. My plan was working great until I got called by the player in the small blind who had Ac 10c. I was still 34% to win the hand, but after an A showed up on the turn I made another long walk back to my room. What's interesting to note is that even if I'd seen his hand and knew he was going to call (many people would have mucked A 10 there) it was still close. Given the amount that was in the pot and the amount I was risking, I only needed to be a 38% favorite to make that move mathematically correct if I knew he was going to call.
This was a very disappointing day for me and I'm starting to feel a little beat down. But, this is how it works with these large field events. I might have another 25 or 30 duds (of course I hope not!) before I hit one for a few hundred grand, but in the long run it will all be worth it. Those of you that are serious poker players know how it works and it's difficult to explain to people who haven't played much. I still have 3 or 4 events left (depending on if I skip the last one which is $1,000 No Limit with rebuys -I'll explain what a rebuy is another time) on this first leg so I'm still hoping to come home a winner. And of course, no matter what happens I still have the $10,000 main event which could make all of these losses seem like pennies. I know you're all rooting for me and hopefully I'll have some more good news soon.
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.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
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Dave, another hard day at work. I hope that you went and got a nice bite to eat and relaxed a bit. You certainly deserve it.
Tomorrow is another day, another challenge.
We are all so proud of you and love you.
Annie & Ty
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