Saturday, July 01, 2006

Event #7 preview

Jen's parents and sister came to town for the weekend to see me play and check things out. Unfortunately I was up in my room working on my blog instead of playing when they arrived. Since I had plenty of free time, we had an early dinner and then spent a few hours playing Pai Gow and craps at the Paris. We all won at Pai Gow and then got totally hosed at craps. Despite that run of bad luck Jen and I are still ahead somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 for "negative expectation games" (or stupid casino games that you can't possibly win at) which is great.

Tomorrow is Event #7 limit hold 'em. In limit hold 'em, unlike no limit, the bets are fixed or structured so you can't just shove all your chips in whenever you want. In no limit the size of the game is denoted by the size of the blinds whereas in limit the size of the game is denoted by the limits. If you were to play a $10/$20 limit cash game the blinds would be $5/$10, all the bets before the flop and on the flop would be in increments of $10 and all the bets and raises on the turn and river would be in increments of $20. Lets look at a few examples to make this more clear. If I was first to act before the flop my ONLY options would be to fold, call $10, or raise to $20 (I couldn't make it $50 or $100 or $27 or whatever). If I called the next player would have the same options. On the other hand if I raised to $20 the next player's ONLY options would be to fold, call $20 or raise to $30. If he raised to $30 the next player could only fold, call $30 or raise to $40. Betting and raising on later betting rounds works the same way except on the turn and river the bets and raises are in increments of $20 (ie check or bet $20 and then in the event of a bet the next player could fold call $20 or raise to $40). Limit hold 'em is far more popular than no limit in cash games and far less popular in tournaments. In fact until no limit poker started to appear of TV it was difficult to find a no limit cash game at all.

Tomorrow's event is a $3,000 buy-in event and I'm really looking forward to it. I've always done well in limit events, but don't play a ton of them because all the easy money seems to be in the no limit tournament. I think most players don't like limit events because the first few rounds can seem meaningless. The limits are so small compared to the number of chips everyone has that no one is in danger or being eliminated and it's very difficult to add significant number of chips to your stack early. Limit takes much more finesse and much less insane risk taking. As a result the players who aren't very good, who have a chance to get lucky and do well in the no limit seem to always come up short in the limit. I don't want to say there's more skill in one or the other, but it takes more than winning a few big hands to do well in a limit event. I'm also looking forward to most likely getting to play for a while tomorrow (only a hand full of players will be eliminated in the first hour or two) since I got bounced so early today. As far as that early exit goes, keep in mind that the worst possible outcome of any tournament it to be the last one out who doesn't get paid any money. In almost any tournament I'd much rather be the first one out and spend the day relaxing than play for 10 hours and still get nothing. This case is a little different, I guess, because the experience of playing in the WSOP carries with it some value.

Last year the $3,000 limit event only had 406 entrants so it will probably be my best chance to win a tournament outright. On the other hand the higher buy-in and the lack of sex appeal of this event means that it will be packed with all of the big names. I'll let you know how it went tomorrow (I'm about ready to deliver some more good news after these last few duds!)
Also for those of you who are interested I'm down $3,739 for the WSOP tournaments so far after playing 4 events and skipping 1 (to play day 2) although almost half of the damage is being taken by my backers (sorry guys!).

Event #6: A Big Fat Turd

I went to the tournament area today well rested, ready for action, but a little behind schedule. I arrived around 11:30 and found myself at the end of a huge line of people waiting to enter into today's event. The amateurs only want to play no limit hold 'em so those events are the most popular and we started with over 1700 players, well over the 1400 hundred entrants this event has last year. I found myself at a table with a guy I recognized from the Oaks Club (where I used to work as a dealer and then as a prop player) and Johnny "World" Hennigan (a player with 2 WSOP bracelets). Right away it looked like Hennigan was going to run over the table. He was in lots of pots and was slowly building a decent sized stack when the following hand came up. With the blinds at 25/25 the first player to act made it 75 to go and Hennigan just called. The player on the button made it 325, the original raiser just called, Hennigan moved all in and was quickly called by BOTH players. When the cards were turned face up Hennigan had two black aces and BOTH of his opponents had KK! This is the absolute best possible situation you can have against two other players. The player with the black kings can't win the whole pot and has only a 1.34% chance of getting half the pot. The player with red kings has a 2.33% chance of winning the pot and a 1.34% chance of getting half. When the cards were turned over, Hennigan said "I've dreamed about this hand, only it was at the final table of the main event." I've played about 500,000 hand of poker in the past 6 years and I can't remember ever seeing this situation arise before. In fact the chances of it occuring are about 1 in 1,047,000. What's even more amazing was the flop came down Jh 8h 5s the turn was the 7h and the river was the 9h giving the red kings the pot! The guy that won the pot used up about a years worth of good luck on that one hand. He'll probably have a safe fall on his head the next time he walks by a tall building.

We sure love to hear about people we don't know getting smashed by safes (who doesn't?), but what happened to you Dave? Well once again I got eliminated on a hand that I couldn't have played any differently. I had about 2100 chips after starting with 2000 and we were in the final minutes of round 1. I picked up Ah Jh two off the button and raised to 75. To my surprise I was called by the cutoff (the player one to the right of the button), the button and both blinds. We took the flop 5 way and it came down Ac 7h 4h. I had top pair and a flush draw and after the blinds checked I bet 275 into the 375 chip pot. The player to my left thought for about 5 seconds and then called. The player behind him grabbed all his chips and confidently put them into the pot. As soon as I saw that flop I knew I was calling all action. I thought it unlikely that anyone had AK because they almost certainly would have reraised preflop. I thought maybe he had AQ or maybe 77 or 44, but even in the worst case scenario I would win the pot 30% of the time. I was hoping that he had either a smaller flush draw or a smaller A in which case I'd have him in really bad shape. He turned over Ac 7d for two pair. He had me beat but I still had a 45% chance to win the pot and I had 400 more chips than him so even if he won I wouldn't be completely eliminated. What's interesting to note here is even if he turned over his cards and showed me that I was beaten I still would have called his all in bet. There was already 2600 in the pot and I only had to put in another 1400 to win it. I would only need to win the pot 36% of the time to make this call mathmatically correct (often times in tournaments good strategy dictates that you pass on small edges when your tournament life is at stake, but this was not one of those times). Unfortunately the turn was a black 5 and the river was a black 9 and I was crippled.

A few hands later I picked up pocket 9's on the button. One player raised to 75 another called and I moved in for 350. The first player thought for about 30 seconds and folded, but the other player called and showed me AA. Nothing dramatic happened and I found myself headed back to the room an hour after the tournament started. Event #7 preview coming later.

A Few Pictures

Here are a few more pictures from the tournament area. They are slightly blurry because they allow you to take pictures, but you can't use a flash.

Here's one of Dave on Day 2 of the Pot Limit event. You can see Chris Ferguson at the table behind him as well as the top of John Juanda's head. I guess the dealer didn't realize I had such a photo op!

These two are of the area where they film the final table. They are really blurry since it's so much darker there, but it's interesting to see that it's just sitting right in the middle of the rest of the tournament tables. On TV it looks like it's in a separate studio! You can also see the big pile of money, just in case the players weren't nervous enough already!

This is during the 6 handed event. I couldn't get one of Dave because he was about 6 tables away from the velvet ropes that they won't let spectators past, so I took one of these bozos instead. Also, this is the half of the room that wasn't really shown in Dave's earlier picture of the room, just to give you more of a sense of how huge it really is. And every player in the room is shuffling their chips. It's a very eerie sort of noise, like hundreds of crickets.

Today's event has just started and it looks like there's going to be about 1,720 players. Good Luck, Dave!!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Event # 6 preview

Event #6 is a straight forward $2,000 buy in No limit hold 'em event. Last year there were two events of this type and size. The first was event #9 last year and had 1,403 entrants with first place of $611,795, 9th was $51,630 and 140th paid $2,325. Event #29 was a little smaller at around 1100 entrants (I actually played in #29 last year). I've been playing really well and look forward to taking another shot tomorrow.

On another note a few people have mentioned that they can't find me on or updates. The reason why is these updates are submitted by about a half dozen little men who are running around the torunament area making notes of who has how many chips. They know that for the most part the people reading their updates only care about the big name players so that's who they focus on. Once you get into the money they include more names and let you know when everyone is eliminated, but before that you won't see anything about me.

Event #5 recap

I decided to play Event #5 ($2,500 buy-in No Limit with 6 handed tables) today even though I'd considered skipping it. After getting less than 2 hours of sleep the night before Jen crapped out at 9 p.m. and soon after I joined her. I found myself wide awake at 1 a.m. but managed to get back to sleep around 4 so when I got up at 11 a.m. I was well rested and after a quick shower headed to the tournament area.

We started with 824 players seated 6 to a table and right away I got involved in a significant hand. On hand #2 of the tournament with blinds of 25/25 I open raised to 75 with Ad 7c (note that the little d means it's the ace of diamonds and the little c means its the 7 of clubs). The button called as did the big blind and flop came down A 3 4 all clubs. Right away the big blind went for his chips and tossed 150 into the pot. I didn't like to see him bet into me, but I figured he probably didn't have an ace AND a club so I was either drawing live or had the best hand. I decided to just call and do some further analysis on the turn. To my surprise the player on the button also called and the turn was an offsuit 10. Now the big blind checked. Well what the hell is going on here? I was pretty sure the guy behind me was on a flush draw and now that the first guy checked I hoped that they both were. I decided to stay aggressive and bet out 500 into the 700 chip pot. After some careful thought by both players they each slid a pink 500 chip into the pot. At this point I figured I was in big trouble and barring a 7 showing up on the river I was done with this hand. The river was a K of clubs and as I was trying to decide if I'd call even a small bet with my small flush the first player checked, I checked and the last player said "I really screwed myself, I check." The first player turned up A 10 for top two pair and the second player showed 44 for three of a kind and my baby flush took down a nice pot.

Right away I was up to 4000 (after starting with 2500) which was a huge advantage because it meant the most I could lose in a pot was 2500, which would still leave me with a decent sized stack. Immediately I got aggressive raising with lots of hands and betting flops whether I had anything or not. The rest of the table was pretty passive and for the most part the other players let me grind them down. When one of the short stacks finally did take a stand against me with 10 10, I had AK and called his all in bet. I flopped a K and sent him packing. Shortly after, I open raised with 88 and had another short stack move all in with 77. Nothing dramatic happened and I sent him to the rail also.

I was up to 6900 when I had a bit of a hiccup. In round 2 with the blinds at 25/50 two players limped in for 50, the small blind put in another $25 chip and I took a free flop with 5h 4h. The flop came down 8h 5s 4s and the small blind checked. I'd flopped two pair which was almost certainly the best hand right now, but it was very vulnerable so I decided to make a strong bet. I fired out 3 $100 black chips into a 200 chip pot, two of the players quickly folded and the small blind moved all in for 1300. I made an easy call and he showed me 10s 8c. I was 69% to win the hand at this point but after an A came on the turn and another A came on the river I lost to a bigger two pair. This was a minor blow and I went on break with 5500 chips.

When I came back with the blinds at 50/100 I got involved in a major pot right away. I had Js 9s which is a marginal holding at best but after the player to my right limped in for 100 I decided to gamble a little and called behind him. The blinds both called and the flop came down As Ks 5h giving me a flush draw. Everyone checked to me and I bet out 300. I didn't have anything yet but even if I got called I'd still make my flush 1 time in 3 and there was a chance I'd pick up the pot right there. The player who'd been in the big blind who'd been very aggressive moving all in into small pots (and was the only one who had more chips than me) rattled his chips and I thought I might be facing a huge bet. Happily he only made it 500 more and I decided to do some acting. I knew I was going to call, but instead of calling right away I took my time. I took all of my $500 chips from the bottom of my stack and made it look like I was about to reraise him another $2000 while I stared at him as if looking for a reaction. I figured that if he thought I was thinking of reraising he might check to me on the turn and I could see the river card for free if I missed my flush (and if I made it he probably wouldn't put me on a flush). After about 30 seconds I called and the turn brought the 7 of spades competing my flush. He checked as I figured he would and I did even more acting. I knew exactly what I had, but I looked back at my cards as if I was checking to see if I had a spade. It's easy to remember what rank your cards are, but unless they are the same suit, after 75 hands it's easy to forget what suits they are. Often times people have too look back and I've used this move many times in the past to mislead my opponents. I knew I was going to bet but took my time and after about 10 seconds I bet 1000 into the 2000 chip pot. To my delight, he immediately moved all in. I had the second best possible hand and when he turned over Ah 8d I saw that he was drawing totally dead. If not for my acting he may have been able to get away from the hand or at least lose fewer chips.

I had 10,000 chips which was a huge stack, but it was all down hill from there. Shortly before we went on break a player from a broken table sat down on my left with a good sized stack of chips. He turned out to be my nemesis. About 20 minutes after I won that big pot he raised to 300 from first position and I called from the big blind with Ad Jh. The flop came down Jd 7d 4d which was a great flop for me. I wasn't going anywhere with top pair and a flush draw and I decided to go for a check raise. Unfortunately he checked behind me and the turn came 4c. I figured this wasn't a bad card and bet out 500. He quickly raised it to 1500 and I figured he either had AA, KK or QQ and was slowplaying (checking a strong hand to convince your opponent you are weak) on the flop or he thought I was bluffing and was playing back at me. Regardless, I still had 11 cards of the remaining 46 (9 diamonds and 2 jacks) that would almost certainly make me the best hand no matter what he had so I called. The river was a black Q which was about the worst card in the world for me, but I still paid off his 1500 chip bet on the end. He turned over Ah 4h and I let out a big sigh as the dealer pushed him the pot. I think I played the pot OK but I certainly could have done it differently. I could have bet the flop forcing him to fold or I could have reraised before the flop which would have forced me to bet the flop if the hand even made it that far. Also I maybe could have folded on the end saving 1500 chips. Or of course a card other than a 4 could have come off on the turn (I was 94% to win the pot on the flop), but I try not to focus on the part that's out of my control.

I was down to just over 6000 chips and this guy kept giving me problems. It wasn't like he was in every pot, but EVERY time I raised or called he would call behind me. If I bet the flop he would either call or raise. If I checked the flop he'd bet behind me. Normally this would be fine and I kept thinking that eventually I'd connect with a flop and take a big chunk of his chips, but I kept missing and he really ground me down. When I was down to about 3,500 with the blinds at 100/200 I picked up AA in the small blind and made it 500 to go. I thought "great I'll really stick it to this guy now!" Even though he only had to call another 300 with 800 already in the pot he folded what seemed like a millisecond after he looked at his cards. I couldn't believe it. 10 hands in a row he's cold calling my raises and now he folds? This is bullshit! It seemed like maybe he had a great read on me but he also seemed like a real idiot. I was really frustrated but vowed not to let it affect my play. More time passed and I found myself back at 2500 right where I started. Then I picked up QQ in first position and open raised to 600. An instant later my nemesis shoved his entire stack (well over 10,000 chips) into the pot and after about 25 seconds of thought the small blind put his stack of about 3,000 into the middle also. No way was I folding and when the hands got turned over I saw my nemesis had Ad Qd and the other player had two black tens. At this point I was 54% (29% for the AQ and 17% for the tens) to win the pot and triple up, but an A on the turn eliminated me from the tournament.

For those of you keeping track at home, in my three tournaments I've been eliminated with AA, KK and QQ. If I go down with JJ tomorrow I'm going to jump out the window.

Break #1

They've been playing for about 2 hours and Dave is still going strong. They started with 2500 chips and he's built his stack up to around 5500. That should be well above average, but they haven't posted any official numbers yet about number of players, prize money, etc. estimated that just under 800 players started.

Event #5

Hi, Jen here!

Dave decided he would play today's event, the $2500 Short handed No-Limit Hold'em event. Last year only 548 players played, so this will probably be a smaller field than the other tournaments Dave plays in. I'll talk to him at his first break, around 2:00, and let you know if anything exciting happens!

This year vs last

First of all I'd like to apologize for some wacky typos that appeared in my last post. I don't know where they came from, but I have destroyed them! I wanted to give a little lip service to the fine people running the WSOP who have made a few key improvements this year. Smartly, they convened a council of six of the top players (Chris Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Scotty Nguyen, Jennifer Harman, Robert Williamson III, and Daniel Negranu, between them 17 WSOP bracelets) to make improvements of all types to the tournaments and venue. One of the big problems last year was going to the bathroom. When break time came you might have as many as 2,000 people almost all of whom haven't gone to the bathroom in 2 hours who know they won't be able to go again for another 2 hours all rushing to the same 2 bathrooms. If you weren't a woman you were waiting in a long line (The hand full of lady players seemed to enjoy the roll reversal). Also the available facilities were far away (it might take you 3 or 4 minutes to walk there) and they had tons of cocktail waiters running around dishing out free redbulls, coffees and waters which only compounded the problem. In my first event last year after firing down about 3 of each I found myself in a state where if I wasn't currently peeing, I felt the need to. If I couldn't hold it I'd wait until it looked like a few people were going to be involved in a hand (which would make it take longer) and then I'd take off. I'd do my fastest, dorkiest walk ignoring all social graces, dodging flusies left and right who were desperate to sell me customized poker chips and sign me up for credit cards. The tournament organizers hated to see me this way and this year they've added a few large trailers (which are actually pretty nice complete with running water) that are loaded with scores of toilets and nearer to the tables. They've also instituted staggered breaks in the larger events where half the field goes on break while the other half continues play.

As far as poker improvements go they've made several. In the past (and in just about every poker tournament everywhere) when the players were approaching the money (ie if there are 52 players left in a tournament that pays 50 places) the tournament would be played hand for hand. This means that every table deals one hand and then waits until all other tables are finished. This process prevents stalling by players short on chips and eager to make the money and also makes it clear who went out in what place (If two people are eliminated on the same hand they split the prize money of the higher place). Although this process is fair it's also really slow and it leads to players leaving their table and running from game to game to watch anytime someone goes all in. This year they've instituted round for round play during which each table plays and entire round and any players that are eliminated during that round are all awarded the same place and split the prize money accordingly. For example, let's say you have an event that pays 100 spots, places 90th through 100th all pay $2,000 and round for round play starts with 105 players left. If every table plays a round and fewer than 5 people have been eliminated then everyone plays another round. But if 9 people were eliminated during that round (seems like a lot, but the blinds are big and it's just an example people, calm down) they would split the $8,000 that would have been awarded to places 97-100 and each get paid $888.88. In practice this seemed to really speed things up and it keeps everyone in their seats.

One thing I've noticed that may have happened last year, but I've really noticed this year is the tournament organizers listening to the players and accommodating them. At the start of day 2 of event #3 the blinds were set to start at 1000/2000, but were switched to 1000/1500 on the fly after some of the big name players pointed out that the jump from 600/1200 blinds to 1000/2000 blinds was too severe. In addition to providing good service and ensuring fair play, I'm sure they want to keep the big names happy so they don't get slammed in articles and interviews for the next 10 months.

On another note I find it interesting that it seems like all of the top 50 players in the world seem to know each other personally and are friends. It's like a big clique in high school except they are all millionaires. Hopefully I'll be part of the cool crowd soon.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Day 2 recap

I had what could be classified as a massive collapse on day 2 of event #3. We returned to the tables at 2 p.m. and when I sat down I noticed Michael Mizrachi (who is third in money won in 2006 with over $2,000,000 in earnings) one seat to my left. We started with 70 players and I knew if I made it to 63rd or better I'd pick up an additional $750 (chump change compared to what was at stake, but still $750) A few hands into the session with blinds at 1000/1500 (originally they had planned on 1000/2000 blinds at the start of day 2, but after massive lobbying from the players they agreed to a smaller blind structure) I had 19,500 chips and picked up KQ two off the buttion. This is another one of those trouble hands. If anyone reraised me I would be in a tough spot as they would almost certainly have me beat with and A or pair of some kind. After spending 12 hours at one table yesterday I was suddenly up against 8 new opponents and the last thing I wanted to do was show weakness by just calling. I raised to 4,500 and the small blind quickly moved all in for 7,500. I figured I was beat, but I was forced to call by the 4 to 1 odds the pot was offering. My opponent gingerly turned over A 10. An A showed up on the flop all but killing my chances of winning the pot and I lost a big chunk of my chips. A few more hands passed and after stealing the blinds once I found myself in the small blind with 13,000 chips. The button open raised to 5,500 chips and I looked down at KK, the second best possible starting hand. The raiser only had about another 2,500 chips left and I thought about just calling in a effort to lure Mizrachi, the big blind, into the pot. After about 15 seconds of thought I decided not to mess around and put all of my remaining chips in. Mizrachi practically beat me into the pot, quickly putting 12,500 chips (all of his chips) into the pot. Here's how described it...

“The Grinder” takes a nice pot when he goes up against James Southerland and Wesley Huff. Southerland raises to $5500 pre-flop from the button and Huff pushes all in from the small blind. Mizrachi, “The Grinder” from the big blind calls. Southerland also calls and the showdown commences. Mizrachi turns over an Ac Jc , Southerland flips over pocket 7’s and Huff pulls out Kd Kc. Mizrachi seemed confidant that an Ace would hit the table, and sure enough it did when the flop came Ad Js 3s 2s 2h. Southerland’s 7’s didn’t hold up nor Huff’s K’s. Southerland is eliminated and Wesley huff is left holding only $500. Mizrachi is pleased with his take and now sits with about $37,000 in chips.

Going into the hand I was 53% to win while 77 was 19% and AJ was 28%. I would estimate that 90% of players would have folded the AJ behind a raise and a reraise, but Mizrachi is fearless and decided he wanted to go for the gusto. In fact he'd entered into event #4 at noon (from which he was quickly eliminated) knowing that at 2 p.m. he'd have to continue playing event #3. It's all or nothing for this kind of guy. His risky style didn't pay off, however, as he was eliminated in 54th place despite having all of my chips. I lost my last $500 chip when my A 10 lost to the big blind's 6 4. In the end I finished 58th and got paid $3,761 for a net profit of $2,261 which left me up $761 for the 2006 WSOP. I've had 5 days in my poker career when I've won more than $10,000 in one day and I've had at least 25 when I've won more than $2,500 so financially it wasn't earth shattering, but there's something special about succeding at the WSOP and I'm proud of my performance so far.

The last two days have taken their toll on me stress wise so I'm not sure if I need a day off or if I'm going to play event #5 (event #4 $1,500 limit hold 'em went off today) $2,500 buy-in no limit hold 'em with 6 handed tables instead of 10 handed tables. Fewer players at each table means you have to play more hands and can expect more confrontations. My specialty is 10 player single table tournaments so I play short handed all the time (even though we start with 10 we play down to 1 so I have experience playing with any number of players), but I prefer a full game in this type of environment. I'm going to make a game time decision tomorrow morning. If I don't play, my next event will be $2,000 buy-in no limit hold 'em on Saturday.

On another note I'd like to give a shout out to anyone at the census bureau who as a result of my good friend Brian Ridgeway might be reading this blog. Those crazy americans aren't going to count themselves. I'd also like to thank my sister (Jennie or Jenn with two n's) for mentioning my blog on her blog. Also I appreciate all the compliments I've been getting on my writing. I'll give give full credit to my high school english teachers (Miss Edwards, Mrs Dodson, Mrs Jackson and Mrs Queen, but not Miss Corbett who was a huge bitch) and my wife who always lets me know when I'm being an idiot.

I made it to Day 2!

In my second try at this years WSOP I made the money and have made it to day 2. Let me start at the beginning. If you don't understand all of the specific about the poker hands don't worry; all that really matters in how much they pay me in the end. :) I sat down just before noon as one of 1102 entrants who each put up $1,500 to enter this event. I took my place at table 145 in seat 7 (the seats of a poker table are numbered starting with 1 to the dealers left and continue upwards in a clockwise direction) today feeling a little nervous after getting bounced so early yesterday. About 5 minutes into the tournament the player in seat 10 shows up and it's Chris "Jesus" Ferguson! Not only is Chris the 2000 main event champion, but he's also (by my estimation) one of the top 3 or 4 fan favorites in the entire poker world. If you've ever watched poker on TV you may have seen a segment where he throws playing cards across a room at upwards of 70 mph, which then cut the top off of innocent fruits and vegetables (it's quite a trick). He's a great poker player, he has a phd (in computer science?) and in my experience is a really nice guy. He was at my table for the entire 12.5 hour day today and happily I got the best of him more than once. The first such hand came up in level 2 with the blinds at 25/50. WARNING: HEAVY POKER CONTENT! If you don't care about the specific of certain hands you can skip to the second to last paragraph. Chris opened to 125 and I called 75 more chips with A 10 out of the big blind. Normally I'd avoid calling a raise with A10 because if you flop an ace you could lose a good chunk of your chips to AK, AQ, or AJ and if the flop comes 10 high and the original raiser has a big pair you're also in big trouble. It's tough to tell where you stand in these types of situations and good poker means limiting your difficult decisions. But, in this case I was getting good pot odds (I only had to call 75 with 200 already in the pot) so I had to call. The flop came down A 10 9 with 2 hearts. A great flop for me making me top two pair. I checked hoping Chris would bet so I could raise him. I figured if he had an A I had a good chance of taking most or all of his chips and I expected no matter what he had he would bet the flop. To my surprise he also checked. The turn was a 2 and I bet out 150 into a pot of 275 (don't forget to count the 25 chip small blind if you're adding along at home). I was hoping he would interpret this bet as a bluff or a draw and raise me. After about 10 seconds he just called. My heart really started beating at this point. I figured to have the best hand, but if by some chance he had me beat, I knew I was going to lose all of my chips and be eliminated. The river was an off suit 2(meaning it was not a card that made a flush possible, in this case it means it was not a heart). I figured if I checked, it might confirm any suspicions he was having that I'd been bluffing on the turn and had now abandoned the bluff. Also if he didn't have much or missed a draw he wouldn't be calling my bet anyway and might try to bluff at the pot. When I checked he quickly bet 200 and I raised him to 600. He spent about 60 seconds deciding what to do and during that time if you'd put a stethoscope up to my heart it would have blown out your eardrums. I figured there were 2 possibilities: 1) he had a monster hand and was trying to convince me he didn't have much so I'd call his all in bet or 2) he didn't have much and was trying to decide if he should call. It wasn't the thoughts of the second possibility that made me nervous. In the end he called, didn't show his hand (which I suspect was something like 77 or 88) and my stack increased to 2500 (we started the day with 1500).

Another exciting hand took place during round 3. With blinds at 50/100 everyone folded around to me in the small blind and I looked down to find J9 of diamonds. Not a great hand but good enough to muscle the big blind. I raised to 300 and after some thought the big blind called. The flop came down 9 3 3 with 1 diamond. I bet 450 into a 600 chip pot and my opponent called. I figured he probably didn't call my preflop raise with a 3 so I liked my hand, but I didn't have enough information to put him on a specific hand. The turn was the 8 of diamonds so now I had top pair and a flush draw and I wasn't going anywhere. I considered my options and decided to be aggressive. I bet the whole pot, 1500. My opponent quickly said "how much do you have left" which was not a good sign. I only had another 250 and after it went in the pot we both turned up our hands. He showed me 8 3 for a full house. 8 3? What kind of cheese is that? How the hell did he call my raise with that? I figured at the very least hitting my flush would win me the pot and now I'm drawing dead to a 9. And then.....BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE! A 9 on the river made me a bigger full house and I took down a nice pot. I went from toast, to having a $5,000 stack (a stack that was twice as large as the average stack) with the turn of that one card. At that point I felt like I was in for a good day.

In round three with the blinds at 50/100 I dodged another bullet (it wouldn't be my last evasion of the day). A Scandinavian gent in seat 1 (who it turned out was a great player) opened to 250 and I called out of the big blind with KJ. This is a similar situation to the A 10 I had earlier where I don't really like the hand against a raise, but it's so cheap to see the flop and I know no one can raise behind me that I had to call. The flop came down 5 6 7. This fellow had been doing a fair amount of raising so he could have had a wide variety of hands, but probably wasn't raising with any 5's, 6's or 7's in his hand. I decided to put him to the test and after about a 10 second stall I bet out 350 into a 550 chip pot on a total bluff. He thought for a long time and at one point counted out 350 chips and put a stack of 800 next to it. He looked like he was going to push them into the pot, but what he was really doing was looking for a reaction. I decided to do a little acting to help my cause. Normally if player acts strong it means they have a weak hand and vice versa. If an average player stares you down with his meanest stare he's trying to scare you into folding and if he's won't look at you he wants a call and doesn't want to frighten you away. I figured this guy would be familiar with this kind of tell, so I stared off into the distance and did my best to look as uninterested as possible. What might be surprising to some of you is I wasn't nervous at all in this hand. I figured if he raised me I'd just fold. I'd still have plenty of chips and there was no chance of elimination so I wasn't nervous even though I was running a total bluff. He called my bet and the turn was another 5. Well what the hell do I do now? There was almost no chance that the five helped him and I figured if he was unsure on the flop, maybe I could get rid of him here. I bet out 750 and much like before he stacked his chips in various combinations and looked at me and stacked some more. He just called my bet and I thought "I'm going to need to him a K or a J to win this pot." To my delight, a pretty little K showed up on the end. Now, much like in the hand where I had A 10, I checked figuring if he missed he wouldn't be calling another bet and might bluff at it, and if he had a big hand I'd lose less, by checking and calling than I would be betting. I checked, he checked I showed him my hand and he showed me JJ. In order to win that pot I need him to not raise more before the flop, to not raise the flop or the turn and to hit one of 3 K's in the deck.

I dodged another bullet (sort of) in round 4 with the blinds at 75/150. I opened with a raise to 525 with QQ. A short stack with only 475 left called me and the big blind (who had more chips than me and a loose player) also called. The flop was 8 7 7 and after a check from the big blind I bet out 1200. After a little hemming and hawing the big blind showed 44 and folded. The short stack turned up AK and the turn card came out. It was a 4! If the big blind had decided to call (it wouldn't have been a good call, but she almost made it anyway) I would have gone broke, but instead I won the pot. I was up to 9,000 chips well over twice average when we took our second break. For the next hour and fifty minutes I went card dead. With 10 minutes left in round 6 with the blinds at 150/300 a dude with a ragged beard who'd been at my table since hand 1 opened for a raise to 1000. I was on the button with AQ and 6900 chips left. I had quite a few options. Although folding might seem crazy to those of you who don't have a ton of poker experience, the one's who do will tell you that folding was reasonable if not optimal. I also thought about raising it 2000 making it 3000 to go. This guy had raised with some wacky shit over the course of the tournament, but if I made it 3000 I'd have almost half my chips in the pot and if he reraised I'd be forced to call and put my tournament life at risk. I decided to just call and see if I could hit something on the flop, which came down A Q 5 with 2 hearts. DING! It was a perfect flop for me. Unless he had AA, QQ, or 55 I had him beat. AA and QQ were very unlikely because there was already an A and a Q in my hand and one of each on the board. I couldn't rule out 55, but that's just one hand among the dozens of hands he was likely to have. I hoped he had AK or AJ and I'd be able to double through him. He checked and I bet 1400. He thought for a few seconds and called. The turn was a blank and he checked again. I decided I wanted to end the hand right there. The pot was already big and I didn't want to give him a cheap look at a flush draw if he had one so I bet my entire remaining stack of 4500. He thought for a long time and right away I knew I wanted him to call. If he had a flush draw he'd only hit it 1 time in 5, if he had a pocket pair I was a 22 to 1 favorite and if he had an A other than AK (which would make me a 14 to 1 favorite) he'd be drawing totally dead (meaning he had no card that could come on the river that would make him the best hand). Finally he called and when I showed my hand he immediately folded without even waiting to see the river card. This hand left me with about 14,000 chips and a very positive feeling during the 1 hour and 20 minute dinner break.

I had some dinner, took a shower, and came back feeling refreshed. Unfortunately I also felt the jitters come back and despite the fact that I was in a strong position chip wise, it took me a while to settle back down. I knew we had 4 more hours of play and if I didn't do anything stupid I'd have a great chance to make the money. My table only got tougher as Hoyt Corkins (his real name!) and Dewey Tomko (also his real name!) joined the fray. With these two, the Scandinavian Gent and Chris Ferguson and without much in the way of amateurs, I was at a tough table. At this point I went into cruise mode. I won a few small pots, stole the blinds and by the next break found myself with about 12000 chips (still above average). 99 places paid and towards the end of the 9th round someone finished 100th. Just after, I won a nice pot when the bearded dude raised my big blind and I reraised him with AK. He put in his last 4000 chips after his initial raise of 2000 and showed A 5 (not a very good play). My AK held up and I was over 20,000 chips. After an uneventful round 10 we called it a day around 12:30 a.m. We all put our chips in sealed plastic bags which will be waiting for us when we arrive tomorrow afternoon at 2 p.m. There are still 70 players in the tournament and if I was first out tomorrow I would still get paid $3,008 gross ($1508 net). I'll pick up another $753 if I can make it to 63rd and the prizes keep going up from there. The money really starts picking up in the top 18. 18th is $12,034, 9th is $33,845 and 1st is $345,984. The final 9 will be on ESPN. My stack of 20,500 is just short of the 23,614 average stack.

Anything can happen tomorrow. When we get back the blinds will be 1000/2000 so things should progress quickly. If you're bored or really fired up about how I'm doing you can follow the action in real time (or about 5 minutes behind real time) on (remember we don't start until 2 p.m. pacific). Just click on the number 3 in the blue strip about half way up the page where it says "select WSOP event" and then click on "full details" written in white towards the bottom. They should list the players names as they get eliminated. So if you don't see Wesley Huff listed (my first name is Wesley and my middle name is David for any of you who are confused) it means I'm still in it. I'll let you know how it all went down tomorrow. Also I look forward to Jen joining me here in Vegas tomorrow until Monday.

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...