Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A few comment responses.

Thank you all for your comments and questions I figured I respond to a few of them now.


Thanks for the advice. Being positive is definitely important. The older I get the more I try to focus on having a good attitude even when things aren't going my way. I know you have a lot of trouble with pessimism so I wish you the best in your pursuit of turning negative thoughts into positive ones. I was at a table with a guy today who along with me and a third player were all sitting on the right side of the table. I lost a big pot to the third player and this guy turns to me and says "hey at least the chips are coming to this side of the table." Clearly a "glass is half full" kind of guy.


I'm sorry to say that no one has really stood out as far as being dressed like an idiot. I think the freaks really come out for the main event and I'll do my best to chronicle them at that time. As far as good luck charms go this one guy had a full sized garden gnome that he kept on his lap at all times and would whisper to in between hands...not really. That would be awesome though.

Shawn and Amanda,

Thanks for the rooting. Good luck with the baby! Jen and I will be reading your blog and look forward to seeing you around the holidays.


My friends get all of their cleverness and vocabulary by watching me! Sweatpants are part of the ubiquitous "three S's" in the poker world...Sweatpants, Stubble and Stank! Actually that's more of a problem at the lower limits. Most of the people I've interacted with have had excellent hygiene and in general seem like top quality people.


I'm glad you and my Dad are enjoying the blog. Hopefully it well help you get more out of watching poker on TV. I'm definitely determined to make it in this industry. Being here has been very inspiring. It makes me realize how much I want to make it big. I want people asking me for my autograph. I want to be on ESPN. I want to be cheered. I'm going to do whatever it takes to make it happen. Thanks for your encouragement.


Hopefully we can get together the next time I'm in MD. My only good luck ritual is I have to fill my underpants with $100 in quarters every time I play. If I have to make an emergency trip to the men's room after a night of Mexican food it sounds like someone hit a slot jackpot in my stall. Actually I do whatever I can to avoid superstition, but I am constantly fascinated by the things people believe and the things they do because they can't understand and internalize randomness.


It's very exciting to see and play against the top players (I'm actually starting to get used to it though). While other players at my table seem to be upset about it, I relish the opportunity to challenge myself against the best. Also at the very least I know that they are strong players and can use that to my advantage by using certain tactics and complex deception that might not work on less observant or weaker players. Also while I know something about them, they know nothing about me. Another advantage is now that I've played against so many of these guys it's going to be impossible for anyone I might encounter in a normal game to intimidate me in any way. It's harder to beat someone if you think they're really great and must be outplaying you at every turn. It's pretty hard to be afraid of some dude after you've played against a few world champs.


Thanks for the congratulations and best wishes. As far as Matt goes, I wish he was here, but he's been in New York and New Jersey almost the entire time I've been here. He has no plans to play anything except for the main event. I'm thinking about organizing a pool where everyone guesses in what place I'll finish and what place he'll finish and whoever has the smallest total margin of error wins the pool. That seems like the kind of thing you're likely to win.


I hope you and Ryan enjoy the blog. There's nothing wrong with not gambling. It can be an expensive hobby. I demand that you keep your fingers actually crossed for a least 8 hours a day!

Thanks again to everyone for your comments and good luck wishes!

Event 10 Recap

We started today's $1,500 stud event with 466 players (I think) and 1500 chips each. This event really brought out the old guard. Before about 1990 7 card stud was the most popular game around and while most new players don't bother to learn to play it's still a favorite of the seniors. On a side note, I'm sure it would surprise some of you to learn that you can't play 5 card draw anywhere. Even though it's the first game everyone learns, it's a totally dead game an no casinos that I know of spread it at any limit. I understand why (no one likes it because it only has 2 betting rounds and not much action), but it's always amazed me.

Things started out great today. I won what I thought was a big pot on the first hand of the tournament when I made a queen high flush, but when I counted down my stack I was only up to about 1700. Today was the first time the maroon $5 chips made an appearance and they made some medium sized pots look really big. Stud is played limit (as opposed to no limit or pot limit) 99% of the time and the first limit of the day was 10/20 with what amounted to a 1.875 chip ante. It sure is hard to figure out how much you've got when you have a pile of 1.875 denomination chips! Actually what they did for the first level, rather than use $1 chips, each player was responsible for anteing 15 chips once every 8 hands. 10/20 is a very small limit for 1500 chips and the first round seemed pretty insignificant (a standard buy in for a 10/20 cash game would be around $300 - even a very big pot would be around $250 and a small pot might be less than $50). I did use the first hour to get a feel for my opponents and had everyone pretty well figured out by the start of the second round.

Other than the first hand I struggled a little in the opening stages. Towards the end of round 2 (20/40 limits) I found myself with only 900 chips left after missing a few draws and having a few big pairs get squashed. Then I went on a mini rush. It started when I won a pot after starting with K J Q (in this notation the last card is the one face up). I raised the $5 bring in (the player with the lowest initial up card has a forced bet called the bring in which is larger than an ante but smaller than a full bet) to 20 and got called in two places. After a bet on 4th street, I paired my Q on 5th street (when each player has 2 down cards and 3 cards up) and got both players to fold. On the next hand I made Aces up (The phrase "blank up" means two pair with blank being the larger of the two pairs) and got good action from kings up. As I was stacking my chips from that pot I got dealt a 2 face up and looked down at my hole cards. They were both 2's! Starting with three of a kind is called being rolled up and it only happens once in every 425 hands. I had the bring in and put in $5 the minimum amount even though I could have put in $20. I didn't want to give away the strength of my hand and I was happy to see one of my opponents make it $20 to go with a red 5 showing. Another player joined the raiser and myself and we took 4th street 3 way. On 4th street the player with the 5 showing caught another 5, bet out 20 and got called by the other player. It was time to be a little more aggressive so I made it 60 to go (when there is a pair showing on 4th street every player has the option to bet or raise either a small bet- 20 in this case - or a large bet -40 in this case). I started with the 2c as my up card and had picked up another club on 4th street so I was hoping this aggression would be interpreted as pushing a flush draw. The player with 55 raised to 100, the other player folded and I popped it again to 140. There was no way this guy had raised on 3rd street with a pair of 5's so there was no way he had three fives now. Unless he had four of a kind I had him beat. He called and I hoped to NOT catch a club on 5th street because if I did I thought it would kill my action (I wouldn't make any more money because he'd think I had a flush). Sadly the Ac came off the deck and into my hand. Of course, I bet anyway and expected to win the pot right there. To my surprise my opponent, who'd caught a J raised me! What the hell is going on here? Doesn't he see my 3 clubs showing? I considered that maybe he had JJ in the hole and had made a full house (if he did my only out was the last 2 in the deck), but my hand was way too strong to fold. On sixth street I caught a red 7 and he caught another J. This was actually a good card for him to catch from my standpoint, because even though it made his hand look scary it made it much less likely that I was behind (if he's got two J's showing what are the chances he has two more in the hole?). It all comes back to third street. For him to have a J or a 5 in the hole it means he raised with X J 5 or X 5 5. What ever you put in place of either X it doesn't make a raising hand for a reasonable player. Maybe he started with 5 5 5 or J J 5, but since he has 2 of each showing, both are VERY unlikely. I figured he started with AA or KK in the hole. I just called figuring that if I raised he might fold two pair. On the river he checked, I bet, he called and I took the pot with my trips.

I went on my first break with 1700 chips and by the start of the 4th round an hour later I had it up to 2100. Then I went totally card dead. Over the next two hours I was slowly ground down. If going out of a no limit event is like getting shot this was like getting killed by a moderate amount of radiation. There isn't much you can do in a limit event when you get a ton of garbage hands especially when you're at a table with plenty of action (you're not going to bluff out several players when all you can bet is a small fraction of the pot).

To make matters worse at the start of round 4 I got moved to the most annoying table I've been at in a long time. To my right was a guy who looked like a South American gigolo (longish jet black hair, black collared shirt unbuttoned 3 buttons, HUGE sunglasses and a large silver pendant that was an eagle with it's wings spread hanging from a thick silver chain), but had what sounded like a French accent. To my left was a guy who was an advertisement for not smoking. This guy had ratty graying hair, heavy gray stubble and looked 60 even though he was probably in his early 40's. He rounded out this look with a faded black tee shirt and a half smoked cigarette pressed between his lips at all times (classy!). At the end of every hand that he played SAG (South American Gigolo) would tell everyone what he had and why he did what he did in the LOUDEST speaking voice you could imagine. Then smoking man (along with a few others) would tell him how no one cared and could we please just move on the the next hand. SAG would then say ok fine, but continue telling us about the previous hand. Or worse they'd hit SAG with some heavy sarcasm that would go right over his head so it only encouraged him. It would go something like this:
SAG: (in LOUD thick French accent) Did ewe see what I have? I have stride on fifth streed, but I know ewe have flish draw so I bit. Muney means nutheeng to me. I have plenty chips, but I bit to make ewe pay for flish. Then you make flish so eye fold. Do ewe see?
Smoking man: I know you had a straight. I think everyone knew you had it.
SAG: ewe see I make stride on fifth streed.
Smoking man: I know you had a straight. I don't care. Let's just move on to the next hand.
SAG: I know you have flish so I fold. Do ewe see? I had stride.
Other player: (with massive sarcasm)You had a straight? Really?
SAG: Yis I have stride on fifth streed.
Other player: (with more massive sarcasm) Really? Congratulations.
SAG: Yis I have stride on fifth streed.
Other player: (with even more massive sarcasm)You had a straight? Really?
SAG: Yis I have stride on fifth streed.
Other player: NO ONE CARES!
SAG: ewe need luck to win in the game. HA HA HA! (laughing for no apparent reason)

This would go on and on every time this guy played a hand. When I got to the table they were talking like this about a hand that happened five hands earlier. After an hour I was mercifully moved to a new game.

At my new table I found Mark Seif. Last year Mark won bracelets in back to back events (impressive as hell I think). I'd played with him in a $2,500 no limit hold 'em event I played in LA in the spring and was REALLY impressed with his play. Some of the poker celebs I've played against leave me thinking "this guy isn't any better than me," but Mark always comes across as unbelievably good. It seems like he always knows EXACTLY what his opponents have and takes maximum advantage of it. Unfortunately I didn't have much of a chance to test myself against him, because I was down to about 1000 chips with limits of 75/150 with a 15 chip ante. Shortly after arriving at my new table, I got involved in one hand where I started with Kc Jc 9c and caught the 8c on 4th street. I missed my flush draw and was lucky to escape only losing 390 chips on the hand. I was on total fumes and I knew if I didn't make a move soon nothing would save me. If I played a hand at all I was almost certainly going to have to commit all of my chips to it. I picked up A 6 6 and thought "here we go." But after a raise and a reraise in front of me I was forced to fold. Two hands later I picked up 6 6 J and decided to go for it. After a bring in of 25 and a call, I made it 75 to go. The woman to my left made it 150 and after the two other players folded I put her all in for 220. She turned up 9 9 8, but I caught a 6 on fourth street and won the pot with three of a kind. Great, I won a pot and busted someone, but I still don't have any chips! The limits went up to 100/200 and I with about 600 chips I decided to make a move with A Q 8. One player had called the 30 chip bring in and I made it 100 to go. The player to my left called as did both others. I caught an 8 giving me a pair and 3 clubs on 4th street and bet out. The player to my left made it 200 with a 5 and a 10 showing and I figured I've got half of my chips in this pot I'm getting them all in. We got them all in on fifth street and when the hand was over my 8's and 6's lost to his 10's and 5's. Two more tries on this leg.

A splash of good news and Event #10 preview

Today while rooting through my wallet I discovered at $500 Paris chip that I'd hidden away at some point during our miraculous craps run! So we really won $3,350 not a measly $2,850. Ah the joys of being a gambler. Tomorrow is my one and only non hold 'em event. It's a $1,500 buy-in 7 card stud event that last year drew 472 players. 1st was $192,150, 8th was $17,585 and 40th was $1,955. To date the largest 7 card stud event I've played was a $200 event at the Oaks Club, but I've won outright several $50 and $100 stud events on with around 80 players. I haven't played a ton of stud lately, but I think it's more important to have strong tournament skills than it is to have strong stud skills (I have both however). For those of you who don't know in 7 card stud every player antes (there are no blinds and only 8 players) and is then dealt two cards face down and one card face up. Then, there is a round of betting which is started by whoever has the lowest card (suit counts). This player has a forced bet called the bring in which is usually 25% to 50% of a small bet (ie in a game with 200/400 limits the ante might be 25 and the bring in might be 50 or 100). Rather than raise if a player wishes to bet more they can only "complete the bet" (if the limits are 200/400, the bring in is 50 and you're next to act you're options are to fold, call 50, or "complete the bet" to 200 - there is no raising at this point, but a player after you could raise to 400 if you complete the bet). The players are then dealt a total of 3 MORE card face up and 1 card face down with a betting round in between each card. Each of these betting rounds are referred to as "streets" so if you have two face down cards and 3 face up cards you are betting on 5th street. 7th street is referred to as the river just like in Hold 'em. I'll fire up an update when I go down the toilet or make it to day 2.

p.s. I've really enjoyed all the comments I've recieved on my blog so if you've been reading it let me know if you've enjoyed it, how I can improve it, or what you'd like to hear more about. Questions are always welcome. A few examples might be: Is Phil Gordon much taller in person (Yes! He's freakishly tall, about 6' 7")? What's it like being away from your friends and family for so long (It sucks!)? How do you cope with winning or losing thousands of dollars every day (long answer)? How did you get to be so damn good looking (wouldn't you like to know)? It makes me feel good every morning when I check and see that people care about what I'm doing. Except you guys at the Census (get back to counting people you jerks!).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Event #9 recap

Today's No limit hold 'em $5,000 buy in event event started with around 650 players almost 200 more than last years 466. The field was packed with the worlds best and it seemed like I recognized a player from TV at almost every table (Howard Lederer and Phil Ivey were sitting right next to each other and the spectators loved it). At the start of round 2 with the blinds at 50/100 I got involved in my first real pot (I'd won a couple of baby pots but nothing worth mentioning). The player 2 spots in front of the big blind called 100 and after a few folds in between us I also called 100 with 10d 9d. The big blind checked and we took the flop 3 way. I was happy to see the flop come 8d 6d 4h giving me a flush draw, a gutshot straight draw, and two over cards. After a check from the big blind the other player, who was the big stack at the table with over 10,000 chips (we started with 5000) bet out 300. This guy had been in a lot of pots so it was hard for me to limit what he might have, but I sure as hell wasn't folding. If I raised and he had a big hand I might find myself facing a decision for my entire stack so in order to avoid risking too much on this one hand I just called. The big blind quickly folded and the turn was a 9. Not the 7 of diamonds I was dreaming about, but still a good card for me. The big stack checked and I bet out 700. 10 seconds passed and he put another 700 in the pot. The turn was a black J and we both checked. He turned over 8h 5c (that's right 8 5!) and I took the pot with my pair of 9's. This guy didn't seem like and idiot and I can't imagine why he decided to play this hand when he folded plenty before the flop. Of course if he hit big there's be no way for me to put him on 8 5, but that doesn't even make it close to the right thing to do. It was very strange.

Shortly after my table broke (every time 10 seats total open up at other tables the players from one game are split up and moved to fill in the gaps) and I was moved to a new game. My new game was super tough. To my immediate left was Eric Seidel who is 5th all time with 7 WSOP bracelets (You might remember him from the movie Rounders as the guy who lost to Johnny Chan on the last hand of the 1988 WSOP main event). Two seats to his left was Alan Cunningham who has 3 bracelets, a few seats to his left was Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier (she's kind of a B list poker celebrity, but still a great player), and next to her was a guy that I think was somebody, but I couldn't place. There weren't many soft spots in this game. About an hour after I got there Siedel went broke, but was replaced by a guy (who I didn't recognize) wearing a 2006 WSOP bracelet.

I was up to about 8000 chips with the blinds at 100/200 and a 25 chip ante (in the later stages of tournaments they have both blinds and antes) when the following hand came up. I had 9h 9c in first position and raised to 600 (as soon as I did it I thought I should have made it 800 or even 1,000 because I didn't want more than one caller if that) and got called by the big stack (and English dude with about 25,000 chips). I hadn't been at the table for a particularly long time so I hadn't totally pegged how this guy played, but I'd seen enough to be sure that he didn't have a pair bigger than my 99 (he would have rerasied with a big pair). I figured him for something like AJ or a medium to small pair. The flop was 6d 5d 5h which I thought was a good flop. I bet out 1500 into the 1750 pot. My opponent thought for about 5 seconds and flicked three 500 pink chips into the pot. I was thinking "get low and black" and I got half of what I asked for. The turn was as 4 of diamonds. This card put me in an extremely difficult spot (the exact kind you need to avoid if you're going to do well). My opponents play was consistent with a flush draw and if he had a flush I'd be drawing dead to a 9 or a 5. If he had 77 or 88 I still had him beat, but he'd have 10 outs going into the river with 77 (two 7's, four 3's and four 8's) and 6 outs (two 8's and four 7's) with 88. Plus if he had a diamond he's add eight more outs to 77 and eight more to 88 (some of the diamonds are already accounted for in the straight possibilities ie the 3 of diamonds) If he had 22 or 33 I'd be in a similar spot although he's have a harder time called with these hands if I bet. Of course if he had 66, 55 or 44 I'd be in horrible shape. But, there was also a chance he just had overcards maybe with a diamond and maybe not. The biggest reason why I was in such a quandary was the pot already had 4750 in it and I only had 5900 left. If I bet again I'd have almost all of my chips in the pot and be forced to call any raise he might make. If I bet small (something like 1000 or 1500) there was a good chance that my opponent would interpret that as weakness and put me all in regardless of what he had. I decided to check and my opponent bet 1750. Now what? This bet made sense for someone who'd just made a flush, but part of me said "move all in!" I decided to just call in the hopes that even if I didn't have the best hand I might get to see a showdown without putting all of my chips in the pot. The river was the 3d. AAAAACCCKKKK! Now I can't beat anything! My only hope was that he didn't have a diamond and would now check fearing that I did AND my hand would somehow hold up. Sadly he bet out 3,000. I only hand 4000 left and was forced to fold. I showed my 99 and tossed it in the muck and he showed me Ks Qs! AAAAACCCKKKK! What have I done? It felt like I'd been punched in the chest. Looking back there really wasn't much wrong with how I played the hand, but I could have done a lot of things differently. I could have raised more before the flop (or just called), I could have bet more on the flop, I could have bet the turn, I could have moved all in when he bet the turn, or I could have called on the end (which would not have been a good play, but believe me I desperately wanted to) All of these thing might have allowed me to win the pot and some certainly would have.

I went on 2nd break with about 3500 chips. Shortly after we came back with the blinds at 150/300 and a 25 chip ante I got involved in another questionable hand. I was in the big blind and 5 players called 300 chips in front of me. I looked down at Q 6 and moved all in for 3025 more. Q 6 WHAT? Has he lost his mind? I'm sure most of you are thinking something like that, but allow me to explain the logic. In the pot already is 2050 (300 for each of the five callers + 300 for my big blind + 250 in antes) and if anyone had anything good they would have raised. Sometimes people with just call with AA or KK if they are the first one in, but people raise good hands when there are already callers in front of them. These people have only put 300 in the pot effectively telling me that their hand is ok, but not great and now they have to call another 3,000 with a hand that's not great. If no one calls I pick up 2,050 without a confrontation and even if someone does call I still have a chance to out draw them. This is a not too unusual play which is sometimes referred to as "dropping the all in bomb." I knew I needed to make a move soon since every time the button made one orbit it would cost me 700 chips (450 in blinds and 250 in antes) and soon I'd be ground down to nothing. My plan was working great until I got called by the player in the small blind who had Ac 10c. I was still 34% to win the hand, but after an A showed up on the turn I made another long walk back to my room. What's interesting to note is that even if I'd seen his hand and knew he was going to call (many people would have mucked A 10 there) it was still close. Given the amount that was in the pot and the amount I was risking, I only needed to be a 38% favorite to make that move mathematically correct if I knew he was going to call.

This was a very disappointing day for me and I'm starting to feel a little beat down. But, this is how it works with these large field events. I might have another 25 or 30 duds (of course I hope not!) before I hit one for a few hundred grand, but in the long run it will all be worth it. Those of you that are serious poker players know how it works and it's difficult to explain to people who haven't played much. I still have 3 or 4 events left (depending on if I skip the last one which is $1,000 No Limit with rebuys -I'll explain what a rebuy is another time) on this first leg so I'm still hoping to come home a winner. And of course, no matter what happens I still have the $10,000 main event which could make all of these losses seem like pennies. I know you're all rooting for me and hopefully I'll have some more good news soon.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Event #9 Preview

Event #9 is $5,000 buy-in no limit hold 'em. This is the biggest event I'll be playing other than the main event. I'll undoubtedly be facing a tougher field because almost no one who's here for 1 or 2 events is going to jump into this one (they'd rather play 3 $1,500 events or 2 $2,500's). When I came to Vegas for the WSOP I'd planned on skipping this even if I hadn't made the money in any events yet which would have meant I was down $12,000. Instead I'm only down $6,739 and after my craps miracle yesterday it seems like an easy decision. Last year this event had 466 entrants. 1st place was $657,100, 9th was $43,805 and 45th was $6,570. My plan for this event is simple. When it's over I'm going to say "Wow, I can't believe I almost didn't play this event. I'm sure glad I did."

Some good news (It's about time!)

I have some good news, but it doesn't come from the poker table; it comes from the craps table. I personally find craps to be the most confusing casino game and I've always thought if it was introduced for the first time today it would fail miserably because no one would take the time to learn how to play. But, if things are going well it's probably the most exciting game in the casino. Everyone's fates are tied together and if one person is winning chances are, just about everyone is winning. To fully understand my story you'll need to know how a few of the bets at a craps table work, but if you get confused or don't care don't worry about it. I'm sure you'll still appreciate the bottom line. If you already know how to play or want to skip the craps lesson you can go to the next paragraph (or the third paragraph if you know about the fire bet also). The most basic bet in craps is called the pass line bet. If you bet the pass line you win on 7 or 11 and lose on 2, 3, or 12. If you roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 your goal then becomes to roll that number (which is called the point) again before you roll a 7. Accomplishing this goal is referred to as hitting the point or making a pass. If you hit a point, you have a new come out roll to establish a new point and try again. If you roll a 7 before you hit the point you lose. So what happens if I roll an 8 and then roll a bunch of other non 7 or 8 numbers? Nothing! Your bet just sits there until you roll a 7 or a point, but there's another kind of bet called the come bet which allows you to continue betting in a similar fashion while you're trying to hit the point. The come bet works just like the pass line bet. You win on 7 or 11 and lose on 2, 3, or 12. If you roll a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 you goal then becomes to roll that number again before you roll a 7. You can make a come bet on any roll accept for the come out roll. We like to bet the come every roll and what can happen is eventually we have bets on all the numbers so we win anytime a 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10 is rolled and we're just sitting there crossing out fingers hoping we don't see a 7 (which would wash away all of our bets).

A new bet that has recently come onto the scene at all of the hotels owned by the Harrah's corporation is called The Fire Bet (ooooooooohh, aaaaaaaaahh). The way the fire bet works is every time there is a new person rolling the dice (a new shooter if you will) you can place a fire bet. If that person hits four DIFFERENT points (not just four points) then the fire bet pays 25 to 1. So if a new shooter rolls a 5 on the come out roll and then rolls another 5, before a 7 they've hit one point. If they then roll a 6 on the next come out roll and then roll another 6 they've hit two points. If they then roll another 5 on the next come out roll and hit it that does not count towards the fire bet; it has to be 4 different numbers not just 4 points. Also if they have repeating numbers when those numbers aren't the point they do not out towards the fire bet. If I'm a new shooter and I roll a 4 and then I roll two 8's and then two 10's I've won some money if I was betting the come, but I haven't hit the point and I'm no closer to hitting the fire bet than when I started.

Now that we've got all of that confusing nonsense out of the way I can tell you about what happened with Jen and I. After another early exit in my tournament we went out to a nice Italian Restaurant here at the Rio (I had the scallops and she had some kind of Australian sea bass). Afterwards we wanted to do some gambling but the table minimums here at the Rio have been sky high during the world series (they make you bet more when it's crowded). We decided to head to the Bellagio, arguably the nicest hotel on the strip. Every time I've ever been there (at least 25 times) they've had $25 minimum Pai Gow tables (which is our usual game of choice), but for some reason all they had was $100 tables. We said "let's blow this pop stand" (not really)and headed across the street to the Paris. After playing Pai Gow for a few hours we decided to mix it up and head to the craps table. The night before we'd played a little craps with Jen's Dad and sister, but we all got smoked. This time, however, it was a different story. After about an hour of breaking even Jen had a really nice shoot and by the time she rolled a 7 I was up about $300 and she was ahead about $200. Then it was my turn to shoot. I bet $5 on the fire bet and Jen bet $1. I had some hot dice and I was knocking out points left and right. When I made my fourth different point we high fived and cheered. Then I made my FIFTH point! Making five points pays 250 to 1! We cheered and I danced around like an idiot. I'd been drinking champagne all night for no particular reason, but now we had something to celebrate. I wasn't able to hit the magical 6th point which would have paid 1000 to 1, but on top of the fire bet we also collected on a TON of pass line and come bets. When we counted up our chips we discovered we were ahead $2,850! That's an awful lot of money to take off a $10 craps table. It was extremely sweet. So now I find myself ahead $3,200 for stupid casino games for the trip and behind $6,700 in poker (actually my share of the loss is only $3,471 so I'm almost even for the trip). What's wrong with this picture?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Event #7 recap

Today was another frustrating day. We started the $3,000 buy-in limit event with 415 players and 3000 chips apiece. The 4th hand of the tournament set the tone for the whole event. With the limits at 25/50 I raised from the small blind with K7 (not a great hand but one that stands to be better than the two random cards the big blind is holding). The big blind called and the flop came down A 10 3. I bet (50 is the only amount by rule that I was allowed to bet) and got called. The turn was a 8 and I bet again. I didn't have anything, but my opponent (who was not very good at hiding his reactions) didn't seem to like his hand either. But, he called again. The river was a Q and I decided to trust my instincts and bet again. Sadly, my opponent called again. I turned over my K7, he flipped up 9 3 and won the pot with one pair of threes. 9 3? One pair of threes? Did I some how convince him I didn't have much by raising before the flop, and then betting the flop, turn, and river? If I wasn't sure he didn't, I might have thought he'd seen my cards (and even if that was the case he probably would have raised me on the flop rather than give me a chance to catch up). I later discovered that I had the privilege of sitting next to what was almost certainly the stupidest player in the tournament. I started to wonder where he came up with $3,000 to enter the event and I after some heavy thought I came to a conclusion. He no doubt was the victim of medical malpractice that left him with a severe brain injury and only recently collected a large cash settlement.

One or two rounds later when I was back in the small blind someone open raised to 100 and I made it 150 to go with Ac Kd. I hadn't won a pot yet and was hoping this one would brake the ice. Brain Injury called out of the big blind and the flop came down Q J 5 with 2 clubs. I didn't have anything yet, but there was a good chance that an A or a K would make me the best hand and if both of my opponents completely missed I might win the pot right there. Also, if I checked one of them would probably bet and I'd have to call anyway or if one of them decided to raise, it would at least give me some information about where I stood. I bet and got called by both players. The turn was a red 10, my dream card. I had the best possible hand and with all those big cards out there it was likely that my opponents would have something and pay me off. I bet out (100 my only option), Brain Injury raised me and I raised him back. He just called and the turn was a A (YUCK!). Now all he needed was a K to tie me. I was hoping he had something like two pair or three of a kind, but after a few bets and raises he showed me Kc 9c (Note: he didn't play this had badly at all, it was many other hands as well as other things he said and did that led me to give him his well deserved moniker). As the dealer was splitting up the pot he turned to me and said "hey did you see how good my hand was on the turn. Shoot, a straight and a flush draw." I couldn't believe it. I wanted to say "Yeah I saw it you freaking moron. When you hand was supposedly so good you only had an 18% chance to win and a 6% chance to tie. Great hand!!!" But instead I did my best to show a little class and said "yep, wow" much like you would do to a small child (who you don't like!) who has found a shiny rock.

The measly winnings from half a pot was the highlight of the the first two hours of play and I found myself with 1700 chips on the first break. Shortly after I came back with limits of 100/200, I won my one real pot of the day. I picked up AK in the small blind again and raised the one player who had called the big blind. Brain Injury reraised me and I just called. The flop was all small, but I checked and called anyway thinking "this guy could have anything and I'm only putting in 100 more with a chance to win the 800 that's already in the pot." The turn was an ace (a great card for me) and I decided to go for the check raise. Unfortunately, after a long pause Brain Injury checked behind me. I bet the river, got called, showed my hand and took the pot. It wasn't a huge pot by any standard, but it was good to break the ice and I thought maybe I wasn't doomed after all. Sadly, I was wrong.

Shortly after I picked up two other strong starting hands but they didn't turn into much. I found KK on the button, and reraised to 300 with it before the flop. The original raiser put in bet 4 and I figured he either had AA or QQ or maybe AK since he seemed pretty tight (KK was almost out of the question because I already had two of the K's). I started to think about what I was going to do if the flop came all small and I decided to bet the flop and then check call the rest of the way if I got raised (barring a K or some other miracle) The flop came down A 5 2 and I checked. My opponent quickly checked behind me (hmmmm I thought....note that my spell check's first suggestion for a replacement of hmmmm was WHAMMY! I wish I was thinking WHAMMY! instead) and the turn was a Q. I bet out 200 on the turn and my opponent raised without hesitation. As I folded I said aloud "wow that was really stupid, I don't know why I bet there." After all I couldn't beat any of the hands I put him on and a check on the flop would make sense if he had AA or QQ. As the dealer pushed him the pot he showed AA and lamented how he didn't win more. A few hands later I picked up JJ in the small blind after a raise and a rerasie in front of me I called 3 bets. We took the flop 3 way and I was disappointed to see both an A and a K on the flop, but at least it made it easy to fold my hand.

I lost a few more chips when I made a late position raise with QJ suited and ran into QQ. All of a sudden found myself on fumes. I was down to 425 chips with limits of 150/300 and in big trouble. After stealing the blinds with A 10, I had to go right back through them again and was back down to 425. Two hands before I'd have to take the big blind again I found QQ and raised to 300. The small blind noticed my lack of chips and reraised to 450. The big blind folded, I put my remaining 125 into the pot and we turned up our cards. I showed him my QQ and he showed me 66. A 6 was the first card off the deck and I was eliminated from another tournament.

Tomorrow is an Omaha event which is about my 5th or 6th best game (behind hold 'em, 7 card stud, 7 card stud hi-lo split, low ball, and chutes and ladders!) so I'll be taking the day off. I'm looking forward to a more standard Vegas night of drinking and gambling with my wife. My next event will be the $5,000 No Limit Hold 'em event (GASP!). I wasn't sure if I was going to play that one or not since it's a big one, but since I've got one money finish and I missed one event (Event #4 that started on day 2 of event #3) I have plenty of dough to make it happen. Also I'm sure as hell not going to sit around here for two whole days by myself (Jen is leaving tomorrow at 2 :( booooo!) doing nothing so it's really an easy decision. Plus despite my somewhat sub par performance so far I've been playing really well so why not get in there and give myself another chance. I'll fire up an event #9 preview and maybe a few other ruminations tomorrow.

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!!

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...