Thursday, June 24, 2010

Reflecting on the 2010 WSOP

I'm a big sports fan. With the odd exception of sports that involve goals (specifically hockey and soccer), I love it all. While most of my favorite players are big names, I certainly find myself rooting for the underdog more often than not.

In the past week two unknown players have had maybe their greatest moments on the big stage. In the U.S. open a Frenchman named Havret who was ranked 391st in the world had a chance to win on the last few holes. In the end a top 20 player came through (like they usually do) and won the tournament.

In tennis 148th ranked Nicholas Mahut was part of the longest tennis match in professional history, lasting more than 11 hours over the span of three days (the match was stopped because of darkness twice!). It was just a second round match in a tournament with 128 players and Mahut was unable to outlast his opponent. But he was still part of the biggest story at Wimbledon this year and part of a match that will be remembered for years to come.

How do you think those guys feel right now? They can't feel bad. But I'm sure playing a practice round to get ready for the next cookie cutter golf tournament or hitting backhands to gear up for some second rate tennis event is not enough the get the juices flowing for these guys.

That's a little bit how I feel right now. I got relatively close to something special at this years WSOP. I was a long way from winning an event, but making day 2 three times I wasn't that far from making a final table which in and of itself is a big deal.

More to the point it was 9 days where I was part of something big and the chance of something big happening was right there, just out of my grasp. It was exhausting, but exhilarating.

When the time came to head home, I was more than ready. I missed my family desperately and my day to day life is great on just about every level. But it's not so easy to step out of the bright lights and just snap back into the normal routine.

I'm sure that Havret and Mahut are already thinking about next year (or the next major). And however hard I try, I can't help but do the same.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

WSOP Main Event Satellites

I'm in a $370 Satellite on Pokerstars and a $530 Satellite on AP. They're both about an hour into the action and I'm off to a good start in both. Check twitter (dave_huff) for live updates. Or if you want to watch I'm acesedai on Pokerstars and acessedai on Absolute.

Friday, June 18, 2010

2010 WSOP Final Thoughts

I ended up making a small profit of about $800 in the 2010 WSOP, but that was more than eaten up by the expense of 10 days in Vegas.

Even still this year was a success. I played better than I ever have at the WSOP and I made it to day 2 in three of the four tournaments I entered. While it would have been great to catch one or two more breaks and go a little (or a lot) deeper I'll have nothing but good memories of the tournaments I played.

I think I also got a small confidence boost from how well I played against the strongest competition. I got the best of a few world class players and instead of thinking I have what it takes to make a final table or win an event, I know I have what it takes.

I now have 6 WSOP cashes on my resume and I'm already looking forward to next year.

In the mean time I'm going to take a few shots to qualify for the main event. I'll be playing a $700 and a $370 qualifier on pokerstars and a $530 on Absolute over the weekend. If I can catch a few breaks my 2010 WSOP might not be over just yet!

WSOP $1,500 HORSE Day 2 Recap

As per usual, I find myself a little blogged out at the end of a series of tournament that required tons of blogging. As a result I'm going to make this quick.

I got off to a terrible start on Day 2, despite being at a great table. I had 19,000 when I looked at my first hand of the day and at the end of that hand I had about 14,000. Not what I was hoping for!

It was all down hill from there. I won a few small pots here and there, but after close to two hours I was down to 5,000 chips playing Omaha with 400/800 blinds. On my final hand I found myself all in on the turn. Another player was also all in and when the two of us and a third player turned up our cards I saw that if I could hit a heart (any heart - amazingly there was no low draw and neither of my opponents had a full house draw that would be completed by a heart) I would scoop the entire 20,000 chip pot. A black river card put an end to my tournament.

I finished about 170th of 827.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

WSOP $1,500 HORSE Day 1 Recap

We started this $1,500 HORSE tournament with 824 players each with 4,500 chips. This is a ton of players for a HORSE tournament!

Looking around many of the top pros were mixed into the field, but there were also a slew of older players who tend to be much weaker than the players in their 20's and 30's. Why is that? We'll when you're 22 and you have no one but yourself to take care of, you have roommates, and can live on the cheap it's easy to get into playing poker for a living (like I did). But when you're 55 and you have kids in college, a house and a car payment, it's always just going to be a hobby.

Of course there are plenty of online no limit hotshots who don't know shit about playing HORSE who are even better to play against, but also a little more volatile.

I got off to very slow start in this one. I was between 2,500 and 3,500 chips for pretty much the first 4 hours of play. I won a few split pots during that time, but no big pots or even significant pots at all.

After the dinner break we started level 5 and during levels 5 and 6 I made up for the first 4. By the even of level 6 I was up to 12,000. A few minutes into level 7 I was up to 16,000. Average at that point was about 7k or 8k so I was really liking my chances.

Then I went stone cold. I couldn't make anything and of course the stakes kept getting higher. The end of level 8 which would mark the end of day 1 was looming and I thought the worst thing would be to make it to day 2, but have almost no chips. My plan was to fly home Thursday afternoon and another day in Vegas would mean added expense and more time away from my family who I'm missing like crazy right now.

At the same time if I had 4,500 chips they were still worth $1,500 and even if I had 2,250 (an amount I could get all in before the flop) the were worth $750. That's not the kind of money you want to just throw away, but I was in go for it mode as we approached the end of day 1.

I found myself with 3,500 chips playing hold'em (the H of the HORSE) with the blinds at 300/500 (stakes of 500/1,000) and I picked up 22 in middle position. Normally I would fold here, but I knew at most we'd be looking at 5 or 6 more hands before the end of the day.

So I raised, got reraised, the big blind came along and I made it 4 bets. Now 2,000 of my 3,500 was in the pot and I was committed. I prayed for a deuce on the flop and instead got J 8 5. I bet anyway and both opponents called. The turn was a 9 and I went all in for my last 1,000 getting one call. I was against AT who shockingly missed all of his 14 outs.

This old timer in seat 1 gave me a little smile and I said "The worst thing is to make it to day 2 with no chips."

Two hands later he raised and I looked down at JJ. I three bet it and he four bet it it. I thought he had a real hand, but I knew he was also thinking about those deuces. Amazingly the flop came down jack high! BOOM! Now I was really hoping he had something. He bet the flop, I raised him, and he three bet me. Ah ha! I'm going to punish this guy!

The turn was a queen, he bet, I raised, he reraised, and I raised again. The river was a brick and he bet out into me! I put in my last 1,600 and he called. He rolled over AA like he thought he was getting that pot, but when I showed him my JJ he knew that he'd over played it.

There were 19,000 chips in that pot and two hands later I bagged them up. They'll be there waiting for me at the Rio at 3. Right now I'm in 79th of 280. 80 spots pay.

After three day 2's let's hope I can make my first day 3!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

WSOP $2,500 6-max recap

I finally found myself with some time to kill, so after much delay here is the recap of Event #26!

As I mentioned briefly before, I got off to an INSANE start in this tournament. I've never picked up so many chips so quickly at the WSOP despite the fact that just about every player at our table for the whole day was a pro of some kind.

1,254 players entered this one and we started with 7,500 chips each. For me the first two hours were about chopping out small pots. I made a few check raise bluffs, won the blinds plenty of times, and picked up some chips with standard continuation bets. I was at 11,000 after two hours.

Then I got involved in one of three huge pots that I'd play against Jon "Apestyles" Van Fleet. Jon has won a couple million dollars in online tournaments and wrote a book with John "pearljammer" Turner. I've played against him many time online and he's a very strong player. He also seemed like a good dude from the little interaction we had.

In the first hand blinds were 75/150 and apestyles raised to 400 in the cutoff. He'd been very active this level, always making it 400 to go. I looked down at KT suited (a hand I would have folded against someone playing fewer hands) and raised to 1,200. Apestyes just called which turned out to be a big mistake for him!

The flop came down T T 3 giving me trips! Now I just had to hope he had something. I bet 2,000 into the 2,600 chip pot and got called. The turn was a queen, I bet 2,500, and again I got called. The river was a blank and I looked over at my opponent's stack. A quick glance told me he had 5K-6K chips. I thought if I put him all in he might fold, but if I bet a little less I'd get paid off since I was pretty sure he had something at this point. In the end I settled on 3,500 and I got a call with body language that said "I think, I'm beat, but I can't fold this hand." Later unprovoked when he was listing some other complaints it came out that he had AA on this hand!

Then I went on a busting streak. KT flopped a ten vs my QQ and was out the door. AK missed against my 88. And then AK hit for me against 88! HA!

Just before dinner I got involved in another big one where I put the screws to Apestyles. Although I had him down to about 2,000 chips after I cracked his AA, he built it back up to about 11,000 just so I could take some more from him!

The blinds were 200/400 with a 25 chip ante and he raised to 900 which seemed to be a standard raise at our table for some reason. I looked down at A7s and reraised him to 2,500. This is not normally a play I'd make, but I had a tight image and three times as many chips as he had so I figured I'd push him around. Well he had a strong hand again and this time he reraised me to 4,500. I would have folded to anything over 5,000, but I was getting 4 to 1 on my money, in position so even though I was sure to be dominated I decided to see the flop.

The flop came down queen high and to my shock Apestyles checked. What? He had less than a pot sized bet left and to me this meant that he had a rock solid hand (QQ, KK or AA) and was trying to get me to take a shot at the pot. But I wasn't biting. I checked behind him and the turn was an ace. Now this was getting interesting!

I could tell from his very subtle, but visible reaction that he didn't like the ace and he checked again. Or there was some chance he had AA and just made top set. At this point I figured him for KK. Given that, there was no reason for me to bet. If he has KK he folds, and if he has a monster hand I'm cooked so why bet?

The river was a brick and he checked again. Now I thought "how much is the most that I can bet that he'll call me with KK?" I decided on 3,000 and sure enough he called me and he did in fact have KK! Again I had him on the ropes, but he'd be up to 30,000 chips by our next confrontation! Dammit Apestyles why can't I kill you!

At the dinner break (after 6 levels) I had 45,000 which was six times what we started with. After level 8 I had 67,000! It was so much fun! I was blowing people to pieces and I was sure to be in the top 10 if not the top two or three chip stacks in the entire tournament.

Then I had two major miscues. On the first Apestyles got his revenge. The blinds were 300/600 and he raised to 1,400. I had AK and made it 3,500 to go. I'd actually been reraising him a lot all day and getting away with it. A few hands earlier I'd made the exact same play with 99 and won the pot on the flop. So when he made it 8,000 I thought there was some chance he was just getting fed up with me reraising him left and right. I had AK so I figured I'd put him to the test. I moved all in and he called me in a microsecond and rolled over AA! ACK! I was about 7% to win and I didn't. I lost 30,000 chips on that pot!

To make matters worse I lost another 20,000 with AQ to another guy who had AA a little while later! Bastards!

Now I was feeling like I'd totally blown it. After having 70,000 chips at my peak I was down to less than 20,000 with less than an average stack.

Sometime later 2006 WSOP player of the year Jeff Madsen got moved to our table, directly to my left. Jeff is a very aggressive player and I knew he'd be big trouble if he got some chips. The good news was he only had about 10,000. The better news is shortly after we started level 9 I took him out. I raised with AK suited, he moved all in with QQ and I flopped an ace. Bye Jeff!

I was hoping to get someone soft to fill that seat since the rest of my table was a bunch of ball busters. Instead I got Shaun Deeb who either wins or finishes in the top 3 on the yearly pokerstars tournament leader board every year. Can you imagine how hard that is? It's not like he got hot for a week and won the weekly tournament leaderboard on some bullshit site. He's had great results year after year on pokerstars. Well I busted his ass too.

In that hand the blinds were 400/800 and I raised to 2,500 with AQ from the small blind. He thought for about 2 seconds and moved all in for 28,000 from the big blind. I knew that couldn't be a strong hand so I called for about 28,000. He rolled over 55 which meant he was ahead. The flop came down K T 4 with two spades (I had the Q of spades). The turn was another spade. I saw the river was a 2 and I was like "fuck, I'm out! Oh shit it's a spade! It's a spade! I'm the king of the world! Suck it Deeb!" We counted down our stacks and I had him covered by 100! Ha!

I finished day 1 with 46,400 chips. 154 players made it through the day and 126 spots paid. I was in 90th place going into day 2 and my plan was to play tight until we made the money and then go for it.

As you may have seen in my Day 2 preview I got a great table draw. My table for day two had one player with about 50K and everyone else between 20K and 30K. When I got to the table it was better than I hoped. It seemed like only one of these guys was a strong player. But 15 minutes in, just when I was getting pumped about my chances of smashing these jokers, they broke our table.

My new table was much tougher and I saw Apestyles sitting in seat 6 with over 100,000 chips! Why aren't you dead Apestyles?

Despite my plan to play conservatively I couldn't help but be aggressive. And it didn't work out. The blinds were 600/1,200 and the under the gun player raised to 3,000. I was in the big blind with 44 and I called. The flop came down 9 9 3 which meant if my opponent didn't have a pocket pair or a 9 I was ahead. I checked, he bet, and I decided to put him to the test. When the hand started he had 28,000 and I had 50,000. We were 10 players away from the money and while I was hoping he didn't have anything, I thought there was some chance he might fold a strong hand given the circumstances. Sadly he called me with TT and I was down to 22,000.

Right after that I was moved to an even tougher table where everyone but one guy had over 100,000 chips!

Happily I was still able to cruise into the money. Actually it took quite a while, but not too many hands. When we got down to 128 players they started hand for hand play. The way that works is every table plays one hand and then the dealer stands up so the people in charge can see that the table is done with the hand. Once one hand has completed at every table they deal another one. And so on until we make the money. The do this to prevent people from stalling. With 22 tables it took at least 5 minutes for every hand and it took over an hour to go from 128 players to 126.

The very first hand after we made the money I picked up KK for the first time in the tournament! A player with 66 raised, I reraised and he put me all in. That had took me up to about 37,000.

The blinds were 800/1,600 at this point so I had plenty of chips to work with, but then one of those situations where there's nothing to do but go broke came up. I got dealt AKs, raised, got reraised by the big blind, went all in and he had JJ. I couldn't win this race and I was out.

I finished 98th which paid $5,211. A strong finish which gives me two cashes in three tournaments at the 2010 WSOP. Not to shabby!

When I went to get paid out, there was Apestyles at the cage getting his money too. I guess someone had finally taken him out. Nice playing with you Apestyles.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Day 1 update delay.

I'm going to rest before my tournament instead of rushing to put up a post. I'll get to it later today or tomorrow. It was interesting so hopefully it will be worth the wait.

WSOP Event #26 ($2,500 6-max NL) Day 2 Preview

I ended day 1 playing on a total ball buster table, with 5 opponents who all play poker for a living (one big name - 2007 WSOP main event champ Jerry Yang - and 4 online pros). At the end of day 1 we all put our chips into tamper proof plastic bags and they magically appear at a new table with new opponents the next day.

I was able to find my table redraw online and here is what it looks like:

Seat 1: Mitchell Kelly - 23500
Seat 2: Petr Bartagov - 49900
Seat 3: Shawn Hattem - 28900
Seat 4: Wesley Huff - 46400
Seat 5: Samuel Ngai - 22600
Seat 6: Erich Kollmann - 29800

I don't know any of these guys which is good. More importantly 4 of them have significantly fewer chips than I do and everyone has a below average stack. That means I'll be the one who is able to apply the pressure as we approach the money bubble.

Right now we have 156 players left and 126 spots pay. I'm in about 90th and given my table I have a great chance to make the money. You can check out all the chip counts here.

You can check out all the prizes here.

The highlights are: 126th pays $4,782, I need to make it to the top 36 to net $10,000, 6th is $77,000 and 1st is an insane $630,000!!! I have at least a 1 in 150 chance of winning outright.

Look at twitter for updates and for general tournament coverage.

WSOP Event #26 Day 1 Recap (Under Construction)

WSOP event #26 was $2,500 No limit 6 handed. I had a crazy day 1 and I'll have a recap up by 2 (hopefully).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

WSOP Schedule Update

After yesterday's tournament and three days of play I felt like I needed a break so I opted to skip the $1,000 NL event that started today at noon. The noon start time and the fact that this is the blandest of events, made it an easier decision to skip it. Instead I plan to take this $1,000 and use it to try to qualify for the Main event once I get back to California (backers, you'll be in for the attempt - more details coming later).

My friends Jake and Chrissy are in town for the weekend and my wife Jen is arriving this afternoon. We're going to do the $155 a person chefs tasting menu at Latalier at the MGM tonight followed by some heavy drinking and negative EV gambling. Then tomorrow night Jen and I are going to see the Elvis Cirque du Soliel at Aria.

Poker is on hold until Monday (I'm already registered for $2,500 6 handed no limit), but I'm sure this is going to be a fun weekend.

WSOP Event #23 Recap

I went into event #23 $2,500 limit 6 handed feeling good about my chances. But, if you read my tweets you know that this tournament was like my own personal hell.

I was playing my best game, against VERY weak competition, at the WSOP and I could not make ANYTHING! It was ridiculous!

I had 5 opponents. Seat 1 was played with seeming randomness before the flop, but was totally ABC after the flop.

Seat 2 kept limping before the flop with hands like J8 off suit or 56 suited and was generally clueless.

Seat 3 was solid, but nothing special.

Seat 4 had backed a buy who finished 2nd in a tournament a few days ago so he was playing this tournament even though he'd never played limit hold'em before. Some people say that and you know it's bullshit, but he said it ten times, and it was obvious that it was true based on his plays and the questions he was asking.

The guy in seat 6 was absolutely spewing chips. He was in half the hands, played them all like shit, and blamed every dealer for his bad luck. I swear to God that at one point he said to the dealer in all seriousness "the reason I lost that last hand was because you didn't pull the bets into the pot before you put out the river." I've heard all sorts of crazy superstitions, but that was a new one.

The fucking guy who had never played limit hold'em before was the second best of my opponents! AHHHHHHHH!!!! How did I not destroy these guys?

It boils down to this. In the first two hours we probably got dealt 80 hands. 70 of those hands were totally unplayable garbage. Of the other ten I won one pot with a bet on the flop, maybe 5 I took to showdown with a 2nd best hand of top pair or better, and 4 I folded post flop with total confidence that I was beaten.

There were two hands that maybe I could have folded on the turn, but they were both top pair aces and I lost to better kickers both times. Other than that I feel like I lost the minimum on every hand.

On the last hand before the first break I was down to 425 chips from 7,500 that we started with. I got AK, flopped top two, there was 4 way action and I quadrupled up. That was about the only thing that well in this tournament.

After the break I got it back up to 2,500, before getting blinded back down to 1,300or so. On the final hand I raised with K9 of spades, the spewmaster called me, and seat 1 reraised me. The flop came J 7 2 with two spades. I check raised the flop which unloaded seat 6, but seat 1 called. The turn was a 7, I bet and got raised all in. The river was a jack and my opponent showed me J5. Jack five? You three bet two players with J5? What - the - fuck? How did I not destroy these guys?

Now that this post is done this tournament is behind me.

Friday, June 11, 2010

WSOP Event #23 Preview

Today at 5 I have $2,500 6 handed limit hold'em. This is my specialty. Coming off a cash in another limit hold'em event I feel great about my chances.

I played this event last year and we got something like 500 or 600 players. But last year there was a $2,500 no limit event at noon which drew off a lot of the players. This year the noon event is the $1,000 buy in ladies only event so I'd expect more players. I'd also expect more players who don't normally play limit who are here for a few weeks like me and want to play something today.

We'll be playing 8 levels today so I'll be looking at a 2:45 am finish if I make it to day 2. In fact if I make it to midnight I'm very likely to skip tomorrows $1,000 no limit at noon which would have me off until Monday.

When I went to sign up I peaked in on the ladies event. It was very surreal. Normally the fields in these tournaments are 90%-95% men. I played against 30 or 40 players in the limit event and two of them were women. So seeing a huge room filled with 1,000 women and no men playing poker was odd to say the least. For some reason it seemed a much more positive and light hearted environment.

WSOP Event #18 Day 2 Recap

We started with 109 players needing to get to 45 to make the money. I was in 79th place chip wise to start the day, knowing I'd need to win a few pots early to survive.

But my only plan was to play my best and take it one hand at a time. With that said it's really difficult NOT to plan. I had 13 hours between day 1 and day 2 and you can bet that the majority of my thoughts during that span were about what was going to happen on Day 2. But there's no reason to go into it thinking I'm going to do this and I'm not going to do that. Even saying I want to have X chips by the next break is dangerous. You have to let the situation dictate your actions and if you follow a plan you came up in a vacuum you're doomed to make mistakes.

Everyone redrew for seats at the end of day 1 and happily I went from a miserable table where everyone could play and had a ton of chips to a table with a few soft spots. If fact once again the two worst players at the table were sitting on my left and my right.

Even better I got off to a great start. We were playing 1,000/2,000 stakes so every pot I won added to my stack significantly. I stole the blinds a few times. I won a pot or two with a continuation bet on the flop. I finally got pocket aces for the first time in the tournament and won a fair sized pot that was three bets preflop, one bet on the flop and no call on the turn. I won with JJ at showdown.

By the time the stakes went up to 1,200/2,400 I was up to 37,000 in chips! It was about the best possible day 2 start that I could imagine.

Then I didn't win a pot for the next hour and to make matters worse I played one hand very poorly. I raised in the cutoff with T9 suited and got called by the fishy player on the button. The flop was K 9 2, I bet and got raised.

The only thing he could have here is a king (or AA maybe). There were no draws, KQ, KJ, and QJ were what I figured to be his most likely holdings given the preflop action, and I knew he didn't have a pocket pair since he 3 bet me a little earlier with 66 (that was the hand with JJ).

I called the flop which is defensible, but I also called the turn and the river which is nothing short of foolish. He rolled over KQ suited and took down the pot. This was the worst hand I played in the entire tournament.

By the time we made it to the first break of day 2 (2 hours in) I had 21,000. More than I started with but much less than I had before.

While all this was going on players were blowing themselves up all over the place and we were down to 69 players as we started level 13 which was 1,500/3,000.

My 21,000 chips were equivalent to having $210 in a $15/$30 game, an amount that could go in on one pot. Even worse I went cold for almost an hour folding 100% of my hands preflop.

At the very end of level 13 I was down to about 9,000 chips when a big hand came up. actually reported this hand in their tournament coverage, but they were not even close to what actually happened. Here is what they said:

When we arrived at the table the board was reading 3h Qh Kd 3d 5d and Donev was holding pocket tens. Wesley Huff tabled pocket queens and doubled up through Donev.

Huff is now up to 21,000 chips and Donev slipped to 50,000.

OK. About the only thing they got right here is the players involved and the chip counts at the end of the hand (some of the cards are similar I guess).

What really happened is I had KT of spades and I raised to 3,000. Donev in the small blind reraised to 4,500 with QQ (with the Q of clubs). The flop came down K T 3 with two clubs (notice it was all red cards in the pokernews version) which of course was a monster flop for me. The first card I saw was the king and given that I had half my stack in the pot already it was a welcome sight.

On the flop Donev checked which I thought meant he had a big hand, but I put him on AA or AK and no matter what he had I was getting it all in with this hand. I bet and he just called. The turn was the A of clubs which was the worst card in the deck (not knowing what he had). Donev checked again and I put in my last 3,200.

Before he turned over his hand he said "I just have a draw." This was good because it gave me a chance to say "good, I hope you miss it!" This little micro conversation kept me from thinking about the fact that a club, a jack or a queen (14 cards out of 44) would put an end to my tournament. It was about 2 seconds from the time I saw his hand to the time the river card was on the table. I hadn't processed what he needed to beat me yet, but I knew a ten made me a full house and I was still alive.

KT beating QQ on a A K T T 3 board is a little different from QQ beating TT on a K Q 5 3 3 board. Boo pokernews!

That pot kept my head above water for a while, but soon the blinds sucked the life out of me. I got absolute garbage after that hand. Nothing even close until I was down to 7,000. At that point we had 50 players left. 5 spots out of the money and the blinds were taking 3,000 chips out of my stack every round. It did not look good.

Finally I got QJ suited which was the best hand I'd seen for almost an hour! The under the gun player raised, but I still thought I had to go for it. I three bet making it 6,000, he put me all in and I was pumped to see him turn over TT. I expected to be behind 60/40 or maybe even worse, but instead I was 50/50. Even better I flopped a queen and my hand held up.

Maybe 5 minutes later we went on a 60 minute dinner break with 47 players left. I had 18,000 and looking around at the other stacks there were two players with about 6,000 (the blinds would be 1,500/3,000 when we came back) and 4 others with between 8,000 and 15,000. So my chances were very, very good of making the money. But it's not like I was going back to the table and folding AA or KK so if I made a big hand and lost I could still come up short.

I had an hour to let my mind spin all the scenarios. Every time I thought about missing the money I made sure I thought about winning the tournament outright. Looking back I think I had a much better chance of making the final table than of going broke short of the money.

Two hands after we came back my resolve got put to the test. The under the gun player who might have been the tournament chip leader raised. This guy was very aggressive and I was 100% sure if I'd get more action than I wanted. I looked down at QQ...

Jesus. Can I really fold QQ here? I knew calling was not an option. If I reraised it would be to 9,000. Then if I bet the flop that's another 3,000. And since I was all but sure I'd get check raised I'm looking at getting it all in by the flop or the turn.

Did I really want to get it all in with QQ two spots from a $4,000 payout? No I didn't. This was the first time in over 2,000,000 hands of limit poker that I folded QQ before the flop.

After I folded another mega stack in the small blind three bet it and the flop came down ace high. There was a bet and a raise on the flop so I'm confident I didn't fold a winner.

5 minutes later we were in the money! Whoo! 2 hands after that I was out. Boo!

I got dealt Q9s in the small blind and I raised. The big blind called and the flop came down A K 9. Not great, but at least I had a pair. I had to bet and I got called. The turn was a brick, but I bet my last 6,000. My opponent thought for 20 seconds and called with K8. No help on the river and that was it.

I finished in 45th place which paid $4,097. Also I missed the Stud event so I have $5,597 more in my fat roll of hundreds than I could have at this point in my trip.

A very good start and a good boost for the confidence.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

WSOP Event #18 Day 2 Preview

To start here is a list of the payouts if you want to check them out. Also here is a list of the chip counts going into day 2.

We get underway at 2:30 with 109 players left. I'm in 79th place. When we go back we'll have 10 more minutes of playing 800/1,600 stakes (400/800 blinds) before we go to 1,000/2000.

The average stack is 26,200 which means if I can win one good pot I'll be there. It's also very heartening to see that the chip leader only has 87,000 and I only need to get to 55,000 to be in the top 5.

Today the plan is to play 8 levels or down to the final table. I'd guess that it will be 8 levels and the top 20 or so will come back tomorrow.

The $1,500 7-card stud event goes off at 5 and I can register as late as 7:15 so if I don't make it in the limit, I'll likely play that tournament as planned.

But fuck that. Anything can happen. I'm only 108 players away from winning the title and $200,000.

WSOP Event #18 Day 1 - The Long Version

We started Event #18 with 476 players each with 6,000 chips. I got a great table draw. 15 minutes in I felt like I had everyone figured out to some extent. Happily the two best players were across the table and the two worst were directly to my left and my right (you tend to be involved in more hands with people sitting close to you).

My toughest opponent was a guy who I played at a final table in a $2,000 buy in no limit tournament in L.A. last year (only 60 entrants in that one - I finished 4th). I have never seen anyone at the poker table look more calm, and quiet. The only way you know he's not dead is periodically his chips end up in the pot. I kept rooting for something terrible to happen to him, but that guy is good and he's still in it. Also of note, he opened up his laptop and got in a few hands of online poker while we were on a 20 minute break! Some people just can't get enough poker!

The biggest thing that happened in the first few hours was the soft spot to my left went broke and got replaced with 23 year old poker freak of nature Tom "Durrrr" Dwan. Don't let his stupid nick name (it's actually his online poker screen name) fool you. This guy is as good as they get.

Let me tell you how good this guy is. He posted an open challenge to anyone in the world to play him 50,000 hand of online, heads up (one on one), $200/$400 blinds no limit hold'em or pot limit Omaha. If he came out ahead (even $1) his opponent would owe him $500,000 (plus he would keep any money he won playing). But if his opponent beat him (again even by just a dollar) he'd pay out $1,500,000!!

There are a few people who are interested and so far only one player has given him action. At last check which was 33,000 hands into the match Patrick Antonius (one of the worlds best cash game players) was losing $1,900,000 to Dwan.

Another thing I'd heard about Tom is that he has major side bets (like all the top pros do) for this world series. I'd heard a few different things, but word on the street is that he bet $2,500,000 to win $8,000,000 that he'd win at least one of the 57 WSOP events this year. He got incredibly close finishing 2nd of 2,500+ players in a $1,500 no limit event a few days ago.

So this is the fucking guy I have dead to my left (which means he's acting after me - a big deal - every hand except when I'm the button). After a little while I asked him about the side bets since I'd heard different amounts. Let me just pause here to say how cool is that? The guys picture is all over the place here, he's on the cover of poker magazines left and right, everyone is speculating about this stuff and I get to sit next to him and just ask him what's going on in between hands!

What he told me was it would be his "biggest win ever" meaning middle seven figures. But it turns out that on top of his bet to win an event this year, he has some other two and three year bets as well as money won bets and head to head who has a better series bets with several other top pros.

Which brings me to the story of a ridiculous hand that I played against him. We were playing 200/400 stakes, I had about 7,000 chips and we'd just come back from our second break (it was 4:45). Tom had mentioned that he had to play the $10,000 2-7 lowball event which started at 5. That event was likely to only draw about 100 players which would give him a great chance to win even though that's not his game. It's just easier to get through 100 people than the 1,000+ you get in most of the events. When you have millions on the line for victory you need to give yourself every chance. The buy ins are nothing and even the prize money is not much compared to the side bets.

So he started raising every hand without even looking at his cards! Remember we're playing limit poker here so you can just move all in; you can only raise a specific amount. He said his goal was to take his stack of about 4,000 chips up to 8,000 or go broke. The thing is that he can go off and play that other tournament, but his chips stay on the table and his blinds get taken as if he were folding 100% of the hands. He thought if he had 8,000 or so that was enough that his chips would last a few hours and he might be able to make it back to them on breaks of the other tournament (or if he went broke in the 2-7 tournament of course he'd come back to them).

Amazingly he was having trouble getting action from the players at our table. After a few hands I picked up T9 suited. While I'd greatly prefer a hand with some showdown value like an ace or a pair, I figured it was worth it to take a risk here. I raised knowing 100% that I was going to get three bet by a player who hadn't seen his cards and I would probably end up heads up against him with a slightly above average hand.

So I made it 400, Tom made it 600, the small blind called and so did I. The flop came down T 3 3, the small blind checked, I checked, and still not having seen his cards Tom bet 200. The small blind made it 400 and I made it 600 with my top pair. At this point Tom looked and called. I figured he'd call with as little as one over card here.

The turn was a 9 which was a great card because now I could beat any other player with a ten (unless it was TT or T3). The small blind checked, I bet 400, Tom went all in for 525 and after lots of hemming and hawing the small blind folded 77 face up.

The river was a 7! The small blind went semi crazy and I thought "wow I dodged a bullet there!" So I rolled over my two pair ready to take down the 5k chip pot. WRONG! Very quietly Tom rolls over 23 off suit and wins with trips! Curse you Tom Dwan! I hope you lose all your side bets you bastard!

I'm just kidding. My impression of Tom was nothing but favorable. He seemed like a nice guy and I wish him the best. But it's not every fucking day that someone three bets you dark with 23 off, and flops trips in a $2,000 tournament!

A few hands later Tom went down the tubes, strolled off to play his $10,000 tournament and things went back to normal.

About that time I got dealt KQ and came in for a raise. I got three bet by a solid player and I just called. The flop came down K J 8 and I check called the flop with the plan to check raise the turn. When it came out it was a 9 and like clock work I check raised. But them my opponent reraised me! Yikes! All of a sudden I did not like my hand, but I figured a T or maybe a K or Q would make me a winner. When the river came out - BING! - it was a ten making me a straight. I check raised my opponent again and took down a huge pot. If I miss the river I have less than 1,000 chips left.

But I took that money and ran with it.

In level 8 we were playing 500/1000 and my biggest hand of the day came up. I had stormed up to 17,000 chips and I got dealt KT of hearts on the button. I raised, the small blind reraised, the big blind made it 4 bets and we both called. The flop came down Q T 5 with one heart. The small blind checked, the big blind bet, I called, now the small blind raised and the big blind reraised! ACK!

I knew I was beat, but there was a 9,000 in the pot and it would only cost me another 1,000 to see the turn card. I figured my opponents for hands like AQ or AA or even AK with flush draw. I thought for 30 seconds and decided since I had a backdoor flush draw to go with my pair it was worth it to see the turn. It was a total brick - a six. SHIT! Now what?

The big blind bet the turn and now I'm getting 12.5 to 1 on my money (assuming the small blind also calls, which I was sure he'd do) when I'm about 8 to 1 to make two pair or trips. The problem is if I'm against a set I'm drawing dead.

In the end I went for it and I hit a ten on the river! Slot machine noises instantly went off in my head. I got one call on the river and was up to 27,000 as we went on break after level 8.

From there I took it all the way up to 33,000 when average was less than 20,000. Those 33,000 chips had a value of $11,000 real dollars. But the last hour really sucked! Unlike the first 9 levels I was faced with a handful of tough decisions and I missed the flop over and over when I had a hand to play.

I ended the day with 16,300. You can check out my Day 2 Preview which will be up shortly for what comes next.

WSOP Event #18 Day Recap coming soon!

I had a solid, productive day at the tables today. The short version is after 13 hours I made it to day 2 of WSOP event #18 $2,000 buy in limit with 16,300 chips. We have 109 players left, 45 spots pay, the average stack is around 25,000 and we get back to it tomorrow at 2:30.

The long version is much more interesting, but since it's 1:30 I'm going to save the details for tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Twitter News and WSOP Event #18 Preview

I've discovered that the poker players I follow on twitter who are playing in WSOP event #17 have all been including #WSOP17 in their posts. Then when I clicked on that notation it brought me to all the tweets that included #WSOP17.

So tomorrow I'll be including #WSOP18 in all of my tweets. If you click on that you can read the tweets of all the other players who are tweeting about WSOP event #18 and of course anyone who is following those other players will be able to read my tweets. If you want other news and updates I'd encourage you to check out, or (probably in that order). It's doubtful that there will be anything about me on there (unless I tangle with someone famous or end up with the chip lead), but you'll be able to check out stuff about the tournament in general.

On to the Event #18 Preview! This tournament is $2,000 limit hold'em. I've spend the past almost 3 years of my career playing limit hold'em day after day. If I get anything between an OK and a good run of cards I should make the money and if I get a great run of cards, the sky is the limit. I have no doubt that I could win this tournament.

Last year there were 446 entrants and 45 spots paid with anything at the final table paying over $20,000 and 1st place being $190,000.

We're starting with 6,000 chips, stakes of 50/100, and 60 minute levels. Every two hours we get a 20 minute break and after 6 hours of play we get a 90 minute dinner break. If I make it through 10 levels (by then the stakes will be 800/1,600) I'll be on to day 2 which will start Thursday at 2:30.

Look for twitter updates and send me all the mojo you can muster!

News From Vegas

Ok, not really news per se, but more an update of what I've been doing and how I've been feeling. Nothing and shitty! Good night!

Just kidding. My flight in was a smooth as can be without the normal terror producing turbulence that you get flying into Vegas in the summertime. My cab driver saw my Ipod and spent the whole ride grilling me for tech support about how to get video onto his ipod. I was smart enough to get a room in the part of the Rio that is slightly closer to the convention area.

I had Chinese for dinner which was interesting for two reasons. First the Chinese place here is right next to the sports book and game 3 of the NBA finals was going on at the time. If you want to hear people cheer with conviction, and groan with true pain you should watch a major sporting event in a sports book.

Secondly I got a great fortune in my fortune cookie. It read "Listen attentively. You will come out ahead in the coming week." If a verbal tell leads to me doing something in one of these tournaments I'm framing that fortune!

After dinner I made my way down to the tournament area. The first year I came to the WSOP in 2005 everything was packed into the Amazon Room. The main tournaments, cash games, satellites, other nightly tournaments, tournament registration, the cashier, and the televised feature table were all packed into that one room. It's a huge ass room (40,000 square feet), but it was still crowded.

Now everything has it's own room and the main tournaments go off in the TWO biggest rooms in the massive Rio convention area. It's pretty amazing.

Noon to 5 is when there is the most hustle and bustle down there, but there was still some electricity in the air at 9 pm when I went down to register for tomorrow's tournament.

Phil Helmuth was sitting at table that was on the corner of the playing area and about 75 people were gathered around watching him in the $5,000 no limit hold'em event. No doubt they were wondering if he's the same in person as he is on TV. He is. I've played with him 3 times and he is always talking and always talking about himself.

In other goings on the final table of Event #16 $10,000 7 card stud hi-lo was going on with Jennifer Harmon, John Junada, Dario Minieri, and Steve Zolotow in the action. I didn't recognize anyone else at first glance, but you can bet that no one who sucks is playing that game for that cash.

The final two tables of event #13, $1,500 no limit were in action and the final 50 or so players in the $1,500 6 handed were also fighting it out.

The ten minutes I spent walking around checking what was going on really made me want to play! I'm ready!

It's Go Time!

I'm off to the airport in a few minutes to head to Vegas for the WSOP! I'm fired up!

In Huff WSOP tradition my wife Jen took some pictures of our son Peyton holding and playing with the $13,000 I'm rolling into Vegas with. They should be up soon.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

$550 Lucky Chances Tournament Recap

I wanted to get in a tournament or two of in person play before I headed off to the WSOP and sure enough Lucky Chances in Colma is running a series of tournaments this week.

Sunday's event was a $550 10 handed NL hold'em event that drew just over 200 players. I played against about 30 different players in this one and 25 of them couldn't carry a bag of shit if it said poker on the side. I feel like I've never had higher positive expected value in a $500+ tournament in my entire career.

I played well and ran my starting stack of 6,000 up to 10,000 without ever making a real hand or ever having to show my cards. Everyone was so transparent that I just waited until I was confident no one hand anything and then fired at the pot.

About 2 hours in I got one of my legs cut out from under me. The blinds were 100/200 and I was in the cutoff with pocket tens. The player to my right made it 700 to go and I made it 2,100. He thought for a long time and he was not the type of player who would do this as an act. After a solid 60 seconds he moved all in for 5,000. Getting 7 to 3 on my money with only half my stack at risk I couldn't see folding to an opponent who honestly seemed unsure. When I called he acted like he was dead, but then he flipped up JJ and happily took the pot when no tens showed up.

I bounced around a little bit, but eventually went down the tubes almost 4 hours in when my JJ lost to AT. I finished about 100th. I played great all day and got my money in with way the best of it. I can't ask much more of myself than that.

Tomorrow I expect to face a lot of the same players in a $330 NL tournament with the same structure and then Tuesday it's off to Vegas!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Angry Dealings with Carbon Poker

I miss pokerstars. Their customer service is better than any customer service in any industry I've ever encountered in my life. I've e-mailed their support a few dozen times over the years and without fail I've gotten a response within the hour (sometimes in less than 10 minutes) written by a human, who knows how to read, and addressing my precise problem.

Little in the world makes me more aggravated than waiting 48 hours for a response and getting a form letter that barely has anything to do with my problem. I want to write back "What's wrong with you fucking morons? Didn't you read my e-mail?"

I could write pokerstars an e-mail right now that says "Hey Ass lickers! I think you should go hump a turtle! What do you think of that?" In 20 minutes they'd write me back with something like this:

Dear AceSedai:

Thanks for your e-mail! We are thrilled that you've noticed our ass licking! We here at pokerstars want to be the best at everything, from tournaments to cash games to ass licking!

As far as humping turtles goes, at this time we don't have access to any live turtles, but we are currently humping a stuffed turtle. To compensate you for any inconvenience this turtle substitution may have caused we are going to credit your account with $100.

Furthermore we have added both live and stuffed turtles with a variety of feed and clothing options to the Pokerstars FPP store.

Don't hesitate to contact us in the future with any other ass licking or turtle humping concerns! Good luck at the tables!

Chris Moneymaker

I bring this up because Carbon poker is making me angry. After finishing the last level of "The Race" promotion I went to make a cashout. When I did, $200 I earned as part of that promotion disappeared from my account. "Whoops!" I thought as I do when I make a mistake. Looking back on the terms and conditions of that promotion (no surprise that it was in fine print) I saw that I have to wait 7 days after the end of the promotion before I can cashout.

Luckily there is a happy little button that allows me to cancel a pending cashout. So that's what I did, maybe 10 minutes later. Of course my $200 was still gone, but I figured a short e-mail to support would fix the problem. WRONG!

37 hours later (literally) I got a response telling me that my $200 was gone because I had cashed out. What's wrong with you fucking morons? Didn't you read my e-mail? I never actually cashed out!

I'm tempted to write them an e-mail that says "Hey Ass lickers! I think you should go hump a turtle! What do you think of that?"

I'm sure 3 days later I'd get a response that said:

Dear Player

We are directing your e-mail to the appropriate department. Expect a response in 15 business days. We have charged your account a $100 processing fee for this e-mail. Marginal luck at the tables!


I bet they do have a turtle humping department at Carbon poker. Ass lickers!

The Race - Conclusion

When I first looked at Carbon poker's "The Race" promotion I was sure it was going to be a slam dunk pile of cash for me. It was on the border of too good to be true at first glance, but the deeper I dug the worse and worse the promotion got.

Why did I believe that this was going to be such a big deal? The reason is poker sites need players. The more players they have the more than can expect to get. If I know there are going to be games going on a site at the stakes I'm interested in I'll keep money on that site and check it often. If they don't have the players once or twice I might never look back.

For the casual player it's hard to find a reason to NOT play on pokerstars. If you want to play $5/$10 limit poker on Carbon you'll probably find one game going. It might be 2 on the weekend or zero on a weekday morning. If there is one game you might have to wait 15 minutes to get into it. That's not long at a card room, but it's forever sitting in front of your computer. On the other hand pokerstars will have somewhere between 10 and 40 games going 24 hours a day. Right now (11 am on a Thursday) there is one $5/$10 game on Carbon and 20 on pokerstars.

What about no limit? Let's look at a popular level like $1/$2 blinds NL. On carbon poker they have eight 6 handed games going (4 of them actually have 5 or less players) and zero 9 handed games. Not bad right. Well pokerstars has 75 6-max games and 60 9 handed games going.

It's hard to compete with that huge load of games. Never longer than 30 seconds to get into a game and if you don't like the players, pick a new game!

The only way to lure players away from pokerstars to other sites is promotions. I thought The Race was carbon making a huge push to lure players away. I thought they might be willing to lose money in the short term to bring in new players and fill up their tables. I was wrong.

After my last post about The Race I realized when I put all of the promotions together I was making about 68% rakeback. I get a flat 75% on cake and on Absolute if you pile up the rakeback, rake races, deposit bonuses, and absolute points it's over 70%. Plus the games are better on AP.

So I bailed on the race. I completed 9 levels and made about $500.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

WSOP Warm Up

I've been playing a few multitables here and there in an effort to get ready for the WSOP. Yesterday I finished 2nd of 137 in a $55 NL hold'em tournament which paid $1,200. That's not off the charts money by any means, and the field wasn't exactly loaded with pros, but it was still good for some momentum heading into the series.

Also in an effort to warm up for the WSOP, I'll be playing two tournaments in person just before I head out to Vegas. Both tournaments are taking place at Lucky Chances in Colma, CA. The first is on Sunday and features a $550 buy in and a guaranteed 1st place prize of $40,000. The second is on Monday, has a $330 buy in and a $20,000 1st place guarantee.

My guess is that each tournament will have about 200 entrants and feature the regular bay area tournament players. Hopefully I can book a nice cash and go into the WSOP feeling sharp. I'll let you know how it goes.

My WSOP 2023 Plans and Missions

After four and a half years working for StubHub I wrapped up my time there in March. I've been at the poker tables 3-4 days a week since...