Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Super Loose in Tampa

Work sent me to Tampa this week, and whaddya know, the Hard Rock has a casino & hotel there. The casino only has slots and a poker room, but the poker room and a Hurricane glass was all that I was looking for. The poker room is actually quite large. They have about 50 tables. The only thing is they only offer $1/$2 Limit cash games, $2/$2 Limit cash games, or tournaments. The tournament buy-ins start at $120 with $100 going to the prize fund and $20 going to the house. The tournaments start as soon as they have 10 players available to play at the designated amount. I usually prefer the cash games, but since it was all Limit poker with small blinds and that usually means extremely loose play I thought it might be better to try my hand at the tournaments. I got a seat in a $120 tournament, and quickly found out that those were just as loose as I expected the cash games to be. The tournament started with 1500 chips, blinds at 25/50, and levels going up every 10 hands. After three hands, two players were out, and on the other hand, three players went to see a flop when it had been raised to 300 chips, or 20% of the starting stack!! I was fortunate enough to not have gotten involved in any of the hands, so when I found QQ in my hand 4 hands later I had a full stack to play with. One of the benefactors of the early exits had raised it to 200, and a second player had already called. When the action is that loose and furious, the play is made easy…just move all in with the big hand, which is exactly what I did. Everyone folded to the raiser, who called, and then the other player also called! When the flop came T-9-4 and both players checked I knew I was in good shape. The turn came T and the river came 6. Unfortunately for me, the river card was the killer as the large stack had called with 6-6, and made his hand at the river. I was out, but I was very determined since the play was as loose as it was.

I got in what I had planned to be my last tournament, a tourney with a $225 buy-in. I liked the fact that only $25 was going to the house, so the percentage of the rake was significantly smaller. I was able to double up early when I had raised with QQ again, got two callers, and the K-Q-7 board gave me a set of Queens, which held up against the opponent who put me all in with his pocket 9s. I was then able to use my big stack to make my way in to the money. The final three players get paid in these tourneys. During three-handed play I was able to get my stack in against the opponent who had just more than me when I found myself holding AK. My opponent declared, "I finally got you!" and proudly turned over his QQ. Before the dealer put the board out I retorted with, "You realize it's still just a coin flip, right?" and I showed just how devastating AK can be when the flop came K-5-5 and made those Queens look as bad as if they had been deuces. Obviously it's nice to have the made hand, and I've been there myself, but I'll still take AK in three-handed play anytime. The board didn't improve either of us from there, and I had 12000 of the 15000 chips in play with only the three of us left. One of the short stacks knocked the other out, and then my AK held up on the final hand of the tourney against my opponent's A5 and I won that tournament. First place paid $950, and I was now way ahead for the evening.

I decided to give a $120 tournament another crack, and managed to pick up some chips early again when QQ eliminated a player who called his chips off with AJ. I was able to accumulate some chips on a "weird Farkas play" (phrase coined by the Squirrel, soon to be used by Sklansky) where I made an absurd raise out of position with T9 against some limpers and flopped top two pair. I then maneuvered my way around losing a chunk of chips with 88 on a 6-high flop, and recovered what I had lost in that hand when my AJ eliminated an about-even with me stack who was holding AT. The board came 3-3-T and things looked grim, but the Jack on the turn reversed my fortune, and my hand held up. I got to heads-up play with my opponent, and what a see-saw battle it was! My opponent started with a 2 to 1 chip advantage, and I was able to work my way to an 8000 to 7000 chip lead when I ran into KK with KQ. My opponent's hand held up, and I was down 14000 to 1000 in chips. I survived my first all in on the hand immediately following that debacle when AQ held up. I worked my way back to a slight chip lead when my top pair, nut flush draw ran in to two pair. I was crippled again, but worked my way to about 6K in chips. I found KK when I was in the big blind when I decided to slow-play it to trap. The harmless board of J-6-3 looked good, so when I bet 1000 to build the pot and was raised to 4000, I knew it was time to move all in. My opponent called with QJ, and things looked great when the turn came 7, but I drowned on the river when a Queen hit, and I took second place in that tournament. Second place paid $300, so I had done better than doubling my cash in that tournament.

One of the things I noticed over the course of the evening was that I only got my chips in bad once. When I say "bad", I mean something worse than a coinflip situation. The one time I got them in bad it was heads up and I was willing to gamble to get the win with a solid hand, but it's a good feeling when you realize you're able to get your chips in the pot in a dominating situation on a regular basis. It's all about making the right decisions.

I was able to stop at the gift shop and picked up my usual Hurricane glass and some assorted other items before I called it a night. I definitely have to make sure to put the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on my list of places to stop again if I manage to make it to Tampa again and I'll remember how loose they play there!

Friday, November 3, 2006

The marathon session, and a piece of Gold

Dan and I checked out Monday, with Dan having to head to the airport, and I headed over to the Wynn. My flight wasn't heading out until Tuesday at 6:45am, so I had decided to play poker all day, taking a break to watch the Monday Night Football game with Chris and Brian. I was able to get a seat in the $1/$3 No-Limit Hold 'em game. I have to admit the deck hit me pretty hard during those first four hours. I had a hand where I caught a set of Aces at the turn when someone had flopped a set and slow played them until the turn. The result of that was pretty nice. I flopped the nut straight once and got paid when it held up. My "marginal" hands were hitting the flops; my big hands were holding up, it was great. I even had time to make a nice 3-level pyramid out of the $3 chips I had. I sort of had to start stacking them higher since I couldn't spread them out to my right or left at the full table.

Eventually, I had to split to join Chris and Brian for the Monday Night Football game. That went well, too. I took the under on the first half, the over on the second half, and the over on the game. I took Dallas, too, but that bet didn't win. Boy, can Drew Bledsoe really screw up a scoring opportunity. It was his interception just prior to the half when they were on the 5-yard line and about to score that kept the half under.

I had a good time watching the game, and the break from poker was nice, but I was itching to get back to the poker game because it was going well. The game wrapped up just prior to 8pm, and I was back at the Wynn by 8:30 all rarin' to go. This time I got seated at the $2/$5 No Limit game. I was seated in seat 9, so I was on the dealer's immediate right. There was a player with a VERY large stack in seat 1, and I got to find out why shortly after I arrived. This guy kept raising and was very aggressive. It became very difficult to play with him sitting on my left. I was getting ground away when I missed flops. The guy on my right and I got to talking. His name was Jack. He seemed like a decent player, and conversing with him was a good way to pass time while I was waiting for a solid hand with which to move in. Luckily though, the player in seat 3 got up and left, so I requested a seat change. I HAD to get on the guy on seat 1's left. Being on his right was doing me no good. I've never requested a seat change before. I usually will just try and play with the seat I'm given, but I'm really glad I made this seat change. The dealer even questioned my moving, asking me "Don't you want to play your button?" I declined. As it turns out, on my first hand in the new seat I was dealt the black 5's. I limped since I was in early position, and Jack raised it to $25. The aggressive player in seat 1 called, and I decided to call hoping I'd hit the flop. Well, the door card of the flop was a 5, and when it was spread out the flop was:


Flopping me quad 5's and the nuts. I checked, figuring that Jack or seat 1 would take the lead and bet, and Jack fired out $50. Seat 1 called, as did I. The turn card was a King. This was a great card for me. I was just hoping that either of my opponents had a King since they would think that they had the nuts with the full house. You just don't usually count on someone having quads in a hand. You may even recall me saying that in an earlier blog posting. Well, I check again, Jack checks now, and seat 1 asks me how much I have left. I count it up and tell him that it's about $225. He bets $100. Now, if he's putting me on a hand like A-5 or some holding with just one 5, he knows I can't just call. The $100 represents too much of my stack, so he's expecting either a raise all-in or a fold. I made the decision here that he did have the King so I moved in. If you have a King it looks like it's going to be a split pot. Jack folded (and later said he had AA), and seat 1 folded as well. I showed the quad 5's. Seat 1 told me he was on a flush draw and I wasn't getting any more money no matter how I played it. Seat 1 and I got to talking and I found out that his name was Dan (at least I'm pretty sure it was Dan), and that he attended Marquette.

About an hour after the quads hand, a $25/$50 No-Limit game opened up in the high-limit area of the poker room. The game had a $4000 minimum buy-in. It turns out that Jamie Gold, winner of the Main Event of the 2006 World Series of Poker, was looking for action in that game. There were a couple players that bought in to play against him. While we were watching that game from our table, Jack and I got to talking about how Dan should take his stack over there and "give the big game a shot." Dan had about $2800 in chips in front of him to go with some 100-dollar bills. Dan was a solid, aggressive player, was getting cards, and was obviously playing well against us. Jack and I kept half-heartedly pushing Dan towards that game, and he finally decided to go!!

I gotta admit, I really lost interest in my own game at that point. I was trying to see how Dan did against Gold and the other high-limit rounders. My game didn't suffer too much, since I was now really only playing big hands and big suited connectors. I was checking in on Dan regularly, and I noticed that he had already nearly doubled his stack within his first 45 minutes there! I bet he hadn't counted on winning like this when he showed up at the poker room today. Our dealer told us that he had been dealing at that table prior to ours, and Jamie Gold had already gone through $50K, and he had rebought for another $50K. The dealer couldn't tell us the amounts, but he dropped enough hints to let us know his buy-ins. It wasn't too much later when we saw a BIG hand developing at Dan's and Gold's table. It turns out that Jamie Gold had flopped two pair when another player flopped a straight. The straight held up and Jamie Gold was out "100 boxes of ziti" (Sopranos reference). Dan was still doing well, as it looked like he had about $10K. I have to admit I don't really like Jamie Gold much. He came across as a real jerk and A-hole when he was on ESPN, so I wasn't too heartbroken to see him lose here.

My marathon session was still going, but as the hour got late we had to consolidate players to one table. I was sitting on a stack of about $800, but I still had about 4 hours to play yet. I dug in, content to just play big hands. I started to go on a stretch of Ace-King hands, catching "big slick" 3 times in 5 hands. I did get stung on the third one, and it's that hand that I want to talk about here. I was dealt AK and raised it to $25 from mid-early position. I received a caller from late position, and the big blind(BB) called. The flop came:


hitting me very nicely. I led out and bet $50 with my top two pair, hoping that one of my opponents might have an Ace with a big kicker (Queen, Jack). They wouldn't expect me to bet my two pair with AK, so they might raise, and with two callers, I figured one of them had to have something to be worth calling since I bet less than the pot. The BB called me. The turn card came:


He checked to me, so I bet again. This time I threw out $100. He decided to raise it to $260. Now, I decided to think about this. He hadn't reraised me preflop, so I didn't think that he had AA or KK. I also had to discount those since I held AK. He might have QQ. I would have reraised preflop with QQ, but at a cash game not everyone does, but would he have called me after the flop had both an Ace and a King? Probably not. He could have Jack-Ten, which means he just hit his straight, but that would mean he called with a bad hand out of position preflop and called after the flop with just a gutshot straight draw. That seems unlikely, but if he did call preflop with JT he would call after that flop since he was chasing the whole time. It still seemed unlikely. The likely holding was AQ. It would fit that he would call preflop with this, call on the flop, and now that he has two pair, the raise seems appropriate. I decided to call with the intention of getting his chips when he bet the river since he had to act first and he had just check-raised me again, showing strength. I call, and the river comes:


Not improving any holding I think is in play. The big blind has to act, and instead of making a large bet here, he checks!!! I really had to think about that. If he had what I thought he had he should have bet there. So now I take a minute to re-evaluate the situation. I really thought my top two pair was in the lead, but any hand like AQ, AK (unlikely), or A4 all should have bet there. So I guessed that I was either way ahead or way behind. If I'm way ahead, he's not calling any bet I make. If I'm way behind and I put a bet out, he's waiting to check-raise me here. Now it seems likely that I'm way ahead, but I don't see any value in putting a bet out here, since he can really only just call me with AQ. If he's got me beat he's waiting to pounce. The only hand that is going to just call instead of trying another check-raise or fold is AQ or AK. If he check-raises that means he's check-raised me twice, too! After going over this all in about a minute I decide to check. I haven't tapped the table twice yet when the guy in the BB says, "How do you not bet there?" He turns over 4-4, showing me the set of fours that he flopped. He follows that up with "You've got two pair, right?" I flashed the AK towards him. He just couldn't believe it. He had me pegged. You know, if he bets the river there I probably raise him or call his all-in. Either way, I should have lost a lot more chips. He and a friend/acquaintence of his told me that I made a nice check there. I still lost a little over $300 that hand, but it easily could have been my whole stack.

I still had a couple hours to kill before getting something to eat and then heading to the airport. I managed to get a little bit of what I lost in that hand back and at about 3:30am I checked with the poker room manager about getting something to eat. They comp their player's food, and they did just that, giving me a complimentary meal at the Wynn's Terrace Point restaurant, which is open 24 hours. I cashed out up about $450, so all in all a great time. After eating I went to grab my luggage, which I brought with me to the Wynn. The guy managing the bell desk seemed to know that I had left the poker room and started to make some conversation with me. It turned out that he is the son-in-law of Artie Cobb, 4-time bracelet winner at the World Series of Poker. He was an entertaining fellow, but after I got my luggage he just kept talking...and talking...and talking. I know it's 4am and there's not a whole lot of activity, but I gotta go! I eventually had to turn and just walk away. Nice guy, but man...

All in all a fun trip. I'm looking forward to the next one!

Thursday, November 2, 2006

The dude folded Aces preflop??

Sunday started kind of on a down note. We had planned on everyone getting together at ESPN Zone to watch the Packers-Dolphins game, but even though we got down to the ESPN Zone shortly after they opened at 9am we found out that the Packer game was only being shown on one monitor that wasn't large, had the best seats around it taken already, and was in a smoking section. None of us really liked that idea, so we had to come up with someplace else to go. The sports book at NY NY was full, as we guessed most of the other casino's sports books would be by the time we got to one, so we decided to head over to the Hooter's casino and restaurant. Newly opened this year, they are located behind the Tropicana, and the Tropicana is located kitty corner from NY NY, so it was a short walk. We thought since Hooter's wasn't directly on the strip there may be a good chance they weren't busy. We got to the restaurant, which is located next to the pool (that was a nice plus), and the place was almost empty just prior to kickoff with the exception of a group of Packer fans that had already camped out in front of one of the big screens. We grabbed a table behind them and got to enjoy the Packers corralling the Dolphins.

We stuck around for the afternoon games since many of us had wagers on many of the different games (damn good-for-nothing-5-team-parlay-ruining Seahawks). I did all right on most of my wagers except for one bet (see aforementioned Seahawks). After the games, Chris and Brian headed back to the Imperial Palace to get cleaned up and some rest before the evening, and David headed back to NY NY for the same. Dan and I tried our luck at craps at Hooter's before leaving, and we finally found a craps table that was paying us. We played for about an hour, and although I did give back some on mine and Dan's last shots I walked out being able to pay for the food and drinks at the restaurant.

David, Chris, and Brian decided to go out to the clubs. David had an early flight and couldn't be out too late because of his work obligations, and Dan and I headed over to Bellagio to get some more poker in. We each got seated on different $2/$5 tables. We had noticed that some people were playing in Bobby's room, and as I got my seat I could see that it was none other than Sam Farha playing with two other players. I found out that the game being played there was Omaha High. According to the dealer, Sam only likes to play Omaha High. He doesn't like the split game that much, although in the regular big game they play both.

Things hadn't started out too well for me. I bought in for $300, and was down about $200 an hour in to the session. I bought in for another $100 to give me a chip stack that would at least put some sort of fear in to some of the other stacks. I was glad I did, because shortly after that I got KK. I raised it up to $25 preflop and got a couple callers. The flop came very nicely for me:

K-9-3 (two diamonds)

I led out and bet $50 and was called by one other player. This player had been pretty tight. The turn card came without pairing the board and didn't put another diamond out there, so I decided to check, hoping that my bet after the flop would be perceived as a continuation bet and my check here would then be perceived as weakness on my part. The plan would be to then check-raise. He checked behind me though, which I have to admit made me think he was now on the flush draw. Well, a diamond hit on the river. Now I have to check. He bets $50, which is too small of a bet to fold to so I call. Well, he's got AA, so my set of Kings holds up. I'm sure he was frustrated that his Aces got cracked, but considering the way the hand went I personally think he lost the minimum he could lose there.

About two hands later, this same player who just had pocket Aces was under the gun. He looks at his hand says something in disgust, flips his hand face up, and declares "Fold"! He had pocket Aces!! Apparently, getting his Aces cracked bugged him more than I had realized. I've never seen anyone do that, especially under the gun! It was really poor on his part that he showed them, though, as since he was under the gun and no one else had acted, it had a significant impact on how the hand was played. It even became more important when it was realized later that another player had been dealt QQ. Another player had been dealt AJ and didn't even try to go to a flop with it because two of his outs were gone. Personally, I think the guy's an idiot for making the play. He had a chance to win back a lot of his chips in that hand. The fact that someone was going to play that stupid just made me glad that he was at my table. That guy played at the table for about another two hours, and I don't recall him playing another hand. That's what makes it that much more crazy. Obviously, the guy was waiting for premium hands, and for him to fold THE PREMIUM HAND just because it got beat a couple hands ago made his play that much more bizarre.

I got up and went over to tell Dan what had happened, and apparently the news had traveled there already. Dan just wasn't sure which player at our table it was. Within 20 minutes it seemed like we were getting glances and some pointing at our table from all over the room. It was pretty funny! I was waiting for the guys in Bobby's room to put down their cards for a minute just to come to the door to see who the moron at our table was. That didn't happen though.

I played on for a while, and cashed out up a little over $100, so no real complaints. I wanted to stay, but I was getting too tired, and I just didn't see my stack improving over the last hour or so. It was about 2:30am. Dan was still going strong so I went back to the hotel. I had to get some sleep tonight because I knew that I would have a marathon session for my last day.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Stirring up trouble at the Venetian

David and I headed down to the ESPN Zone restaurant/bar to watch the Badgers game. The sports book for NY NY is just across from the ESPN Zone so we were able to make our wagers for some of the games prior to the start of the early games. Dan was catching up on some sleep since he got back from the Wynn very late.

The Badgers crushed Purdue at Purdue's place! Woo Hoo! That's a good start to what I was hoping would be another good day. I played solid poker yesterday, felt rested, and was ready to go to war again. Dan, David, and I decided to play at the Venetian's poker room that evening. We made the trek on the Strip to the Venetian, and I got seated at a $1/$2 No-Limit table, and Dan got seated at the table behind me (also $1/$2). David got seated at my table. I was really trying to turn up the intensity so I went into my "mean" mode. I didn't speak once during the first hour and a half at the table other than when I ordered my first drink from the cocktail waitress. I would just stare ahead into nothingness really. If I was in a hand with someone heads-up they just got that same stare at them the whole time. I noticed it was quite difficult for anyone to maintain that stare with me for more than a couple seconds. It was really quite boring and hard to maintain. My chip stack did quite well. I seemed to have an intimidating effect on the table, moving all-in quietly on decent pots and then just waiting for people to fold. After the initial hour and a half I had worked my stack to over $400 from the original buy-in of $100, so I decided to completely change it up and I got chatty.

This seemed to work well, too, as some of the players who I had gotten involved with pots were now trying to get in any pot I played. I was still playing pretty tight though. At one point we got a player at our table that I think was waiting for a higher limit game to open up that decided to raise every hand to $20 or $25 preflop. He would then just move in after the flop if he got any callers. He was talking trash, but I wasn't getting any cards at the moment. So, I did the one thing that I know how to do well when I'm not getting into pots with a player...I put him on full tilt, baby. This player, let's call him Abdul since I don't know what it was but he looked like he could be an Abdul, raises a pot and gets called by two players. Now, after his being at the table 10 minutes I think a couple players had figured out his game and were waiting for him to pull his crap. One of the players from this table that I thought was pretty decent was in the hand, and when Abdul moved in on the flop this guy promptly calls him. The board had something like K-8-8 on it and the decent player showed his AA right away. Abdul didn't show his cards, but when the turn and river hit he started to muck them. Now, at most cash games if you're dealt in to the hand you can request to see the cards of any player that has a hand at the showdown, which this was, so I immediately declare before the cards hit the muck "Turn his cards up." This is usually not done as it's considered a breach of etiquette. When it is done, it's almost always done by the other player(s) involved in the showdown, not an outside player. Abdul half jumps out of his chair reaching for his cards saying to the dealer, "Don't show him." This of course is exactly the reaction I want so I sort of half get out of my chair, lean over towards the dealer and quietly say, "I was dealt in to the hand. The hand went to a showdown. You will turn over his cards." The dealer immediately turns over 3-2, showing Abdul's bluff. The fact that he was bluffing wasn't the point. It was getting Abdul rattled that I wanted. Abdul even got the floor person called over about it. It was really unfortunate that I couldn't find a hand that I could make work while he was seated with us. Believe me I tried. Abdul was almost never taking his eyes off me while I had cards the rest of the time he spent with us. Unfortunately for us, his seat opened up about 20-25 minutes after his hand being shown and he left. He was down, but I wanted everything he had.

The rest of the session went without incident, and I did give back some of what I had won, but I walked out of the Venetian up a little over $150. We headed back to the hotel, where we got some rest prior to Sunday's Packer game.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Oh, how I love to Wynn!

Even though I didn't win at the MGM, I really felt I was playing very solid poker most of the day and because of that I was really looking forward to playing today. We didn't want to play at the MGM, and I suggested that we give the Wynn's poker room a shot.

I've always liked the Wynn's poker room the best, and that doesn't change at all on this trip. I think it has very comfortable chairs, the drinks are plentiful (none of the poker rooms charge for drinks, but it can be a long time between rounds), they'll comp the food if you play there long enough, and the room itself just has some character. There always seems to be some action going on there, too. Did I mention that all the cocktail waitresses at the Wynn have modeling contracts? Not something the ladies might be interested in (unless you'd like to work there), but I think the average joe doesn't mind the occasional distraction while being served his drink.

David and I made the trek from NY NY to the Wynn, which is a lot further than I originally thought. We got there and got our names on the $1/$3 list, and the Wynn told us to hang around because the list was getting to the point where they were going to open a table with the people on the list. Now, on a trip like this I don't necessarily like to sit at a table with someone I am friends with because I really am not trying to win that person's money. Don't get me wrong, if I've got the nuts and my friend sets me all-in I'm going to call, but I am usually hoping that situations like that can be avoided.
My cards and play were pretty solid while I was playing at the Wynn this session. David and I only got heads up twice, with me checking down Ace-Ten to a showdown that I won, and the other hand I held AK and moved David off his hand on a raggedy-looking flop that David checked to me, and it turned out I was way ahead (found that out after the session). We did have an interesting time with one of our dealers there, and I can say that this incident was the only time I've ever had any issue with anything at the Wynn. This dealer sits down, and I cannot recall the name, only that I thought it started with an 'O', so let's call him Oscar for this story. I was seated in seat 9, which is to the immediate right of the dealer. David was seated in seat 5, which is directly across from the dealer. Well, Oscar gets seated, and shortly after he gets seated the cage brings over some chips to him for his chip tray, and he's got to take the time to count it all and verify things and get it into his tray. I imagine that this had to be done because the game had just recently opened and the dealer's tray was short on chips for handling the rake. Well, Oscar seemed to be having trouble with the chips. He decided to take it out on us for some reason. I did hear him mutter "My day was going great...until now." He started dealing very slow, and Oscar was being pretty much a grouch. There was one point where Oscar took the cards out of the shuffling machine in the table and then just sat there...waiting...and waiting. He seemed to be staring off in to oblivion, and it was then that I realized David hadn't put out his big blind yet. This guy couldn't be waiting for that, could he?!? So we all sat waiting. This had to go on for about a minute, which is an eternity with nothing going on at a poker table. David put out his big blind, and then Oscar finally cut the cards and dealt the next hand!! What an a-hole! I think EVERY other poker dealer in Vegas would have either said something or started dealing and informed the player as they dealt that the big blind had to be posted, but not Oscar. We apparently had done something to piss him off. Another dealer came up behind Oscar to be what appeared break him and Oscar asked "Are you here to break me?" the other dealer responded with something unintelligible to which Oscar muttered, thinking he was being taken off our table, "Good...I hate this table." I only heard this because he happened to be muttering it as he dealt me my card so he was facing me. I don't think anyone else heard it. I know David did not. The fact that he apparently misheard the dealer since he didn't get to leave our table then did not help matters. I honestly don't know what Oscar's problem was, but everyone at our table was glad to see him go at the end of his half-hour. I tried to replay the events from when he showed up to the "not dealing" hand, but unless someone not tipping him for a hand really pissed him off I cannot think of anything other than the chips being brought from the cage that would have caused his bad mood. I can only imagine that he didn't get tipped a couple hands in a row. I've never seen a dealer act like that before. I'm guessing he woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning, but man, he was going to ruin his tips for the day if he kept that crap going on other tables!

The rest of the session went well for me. I got a little lucky as I was getting beat down early in the session when I was dealt 6-6, and on a flop of 5-5-7, my opponent checked blind to me so I bet, and he then raised, but I had enough chips in the pot that I had to play the hand so I moved in only to find my opponent had Q-5. The turn and river came a perfect 3-4 to make my straight. After that little bit of luck to double up I started getting some better hands and saw enough action to finish ahead $226. It was a well-needed win given what had happened in the other sessions to this point.

David and I went back to NY NY, hit the pool and whirlpool for a little bit, and then just relaxed for a little while. Dan was going to be showing up soon, and I figured we'd grab a bite to eat together before heading out to play some more cards. Dan wanted to hit the Wynn, so Dan and I made the trek back to the Wynn. I put myself on the $1/$3 list, and Dan got on the $2/$5 list. I got seated pretty quickly, and then Dan must've gotten tired of the waiting and got himself on a $1/$3 table behind where I was seated. That session went well for me, too. I was checking on Dan's stack periodically to see how he was doing, and he appeared to be up as well. Shortly after Dan sat down I noticed the guy on Dan's left was very familiar. It was none other than the guy who took me for all of my hard work from the MGM!! I tried to get Dan's attention before the guy spotted me, and Dan came over to my table. As it turns out the guy's from Waukesha! Dan had already been chatting with him and had pointed out that I had come here with him. The guy told Dan that "Ah, yes. I was playing with Jason over at the MGM yesterday," but hadn't mentioned to him his good fortune. I was already up a couple hundred at this point, and he wasn't at my table so I could care less...sort of. The
guy was all right, though. I got up at one point and jokingly said to Dan, who had about $300 in chips in front of him at the time, "Dan, you'd better get working...you need to collect another $900 off that guy," referring to the guy on Dan's left.

The guy was actually pretty nice. The Wynn offers back and neck massages while you play. The cost is $2/minute with a 10-minute minimum. The dude from Waukesha bought me a 10-minute massage, which, after having one, I highly recommend. As I said, the session was going well, and I finished that session up about $430. I decided to call it quits around 2:30am, and when I looked back at Dan he didn't appear to be up. I suppose I could have stayed, but my chip stack hadn't gone up or down for a while, so I was feeling like the game was getting stagnant. I knew Dan wouldn't want to leave down, so I just told him I was heading back to the hotel to catch some sleep before watching the Badgers and the other college games since they started in a couple hours. All in all, a pretty good recovery day. Oh, how I love to Wynn!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

On the comeback trail...or so I thought

David and I decided to play in a tournament the next day. After looking up the daily schedule in Cardplayer we decided that we would play in the MGM's morning tournament. The MGM was right across the street so it was convenient enough, and the buy-in was reasonable. We registered and had a little time prior to the tournament so we each got seated in a cash game. I was able to double through a player for just under my buy-in when a player that had been playing very aggressive called my all-in with his 6-6. I was holding J-J at the time. I had originally limped hoping that he would raise because he had been doing this quite a bit, and once he obliged I was able to get all my chips in. Shortly after that the tournament was getting ready to start so I got seated for that.

We started with 1200 in chips and blinds at 25-25. Blinds were to go up every 20 minutes. The MGM stated they didn't allow rebuys, but instead during the first hour if you were knocked out you could get yourself on the "alternate" list. If spots opened up you would be able to accept a seat as an "alternate". Basically it's a rebuy opportunity for the first hour. With the blinds as high as they were in relation to the starting amount I was trying to be very selective. I did get 4-4 under the gun and tried to limp for 25, but when the player to my left made it 225 to go and got another caller I let the hand go and painfully watched the flop come 4-9-9, which I am sure would have been ahead at that time. After some blinds and increases I thought I had found my opportunity with A-K and the blinds at 50-100. My stack was 875, which was quickly becoming a very short stack so I moved in and promptly found myself with two callers. One held AA and the other A9, so unless the T-J-Q or a couple of Kings showed up I knew I was done. With my tournament done I got back in to a cash game and started getting some hands. I managed to work my way up to triple my buy-in so I moved up to the $2/$5 from the $1/$2 game. I was playing aggressive enough in hands that I got involved in so that my cards were hardly ever displayed. This continued for about 6 1/2 hours and I had worked my stack to a little over 12 times my buy-in. Boy, do I wish I had left right then! Things were going so well though I had no reason to think anything would go wrong. In the next ten minutes I managed to lose the whole stack! I was dealt AA in the first of the two hands, raised it, got a couple callers, and after a flop of J-5-2 I thought I was in good shape when a player bet in to me. I raised, setting the player to a decision for his chips, and he happily called holding 5-5. My Aces had been cracked and I lost about half my stack. Two hands later I was in the big blind and got dealt 4h-2h. The pot was unraised, and after an all heart flop (A-Q-J), that same player and I started betting and raising one another. I felt that a flopped flush would be good there, but my opponent had also flopped the flush, and since his flush was larger than mine (T-7) he was able to obtain the rest of my stack. I was betting on the low probability of two flushes being out since the odds of a person flopping a flush are a little over 100-1. It made for a lousy ending to what had been a pretty solid day of poker, but that's the risk of No-Limit play. It only takes one or two mistakes to make up for a really good session. It was time to take a break, and concentrate on re-building my stack the next day.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A game with a bit of flavor

David and I grabbed a bite to eat at the ESPN Zone, which is located inside the NY NY hotel. It's a large restaurant/bar with plenty of screens to watch pretty much whatever game you want. It took a while to get seated because the host asks what game/event you are interested in, and then they try to find a seat near those screens. So after eating there we decided to head over to see what the MGM's poker room was like.

We got there and found that they have approximately 30 tables of which about 4 or 5 were being used for Limit Hold 'em, and about 8 tables were being used for No Limit Hold 'em. After getting some information about their daily tournament we got seated at the $1/$2 No Limit game. I bought in for $100. The game had lots of players taking lots of flops. I tried playing my normal style, but I wasn't hitting any flops. Even when I got a solid hand like QQ I ended up against 4 or 5 players and both the Ace and King hit. The game had several international players with two Aussies, a Brit, and a New Zealander in the game. The one Aussie could not be shaken off of seeing a flop unless there were at least 2 raises before it got to him. This session ended up with my getting whittled down to the felt in a slow, frustrating fashion. After a second buy-in and continued lack of success I decided to call it a night and get some rest, hoping that maybe I was just tired from travelling that day and would play better on a full night's rest.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I’m sorry sir, but do you have your ID or a player’s club card?

Well, it was good to be back in Vegas again. The last time I was here was June when Dan and I played in the World Series of Poker. This trip was planned to be a longer trip than I usually do for Vegas. I arrived Wednesday noonish and was staying until my flight left Tuesday morning around 7am. This trip was a little different, with everyone that was coming to Vegas arriving and leaving on different days. I already mentioned when I came in, David showed up later Wednesday and left early Monday. Dan showed up later on Friday and left Monday afternoon. Chris showed up later on Thursday and was leaving Wednesday. Brian showed up Thursday and left late Monday night. David, Dan, and I stayed at NY NY, and Brian and Chris were staying at the Imperial Palace. So all in all five of us were out there, and there was lots of poker to be played.

I had some time to kill prior to meeting up with David, so after making a poor decision to play a little craps at NY NY where I lost $107, I decided to take a stroll down to the Bellagio to play in their poker room. I got my name on the $2/$5 No Limit game, and found out that the Bellagio had changed the format a little bit. When I was here in June that game had a buy-in of $200. It now had a $200 minimum with a $500 maximum.

I looked around the room to see if there were any recognizable faces, as a lot of the pros play here in Bobby's Room, which is a separate room within the poker room at the Bellagio, but none were to be seen. The poker room was rather busy though, as the WPT's Five Diamond Classic had just wrapped up on Tuesday, and there were still a lot of people playing at the poker rooms that were here for that. I didn't see any of the poker pros until my name got called. I went to get some chips and saw Erik Seidel talking with either a fan or a friend while he was waiting in line at the cage. He got in line behind me, and since there were a couple people in front of me yet I decided to turn around and say hi and acknowledge the guy. He was friendly enough. I commented on his pair of Full Tilt commercials, which I'm sure no one has EVER mentioned to him before, and then I got called up to the window. While I was being helped another cashier asked Erik to step up to the cage. It turns out he was either cashing in some chips or getting some smaller ones because when he put his chips on the counter he had several $5000 chips there. As I was trying to count his stack I heard his cashier ask, "I'm sorry sir, but do you have ID?" at which point I almost started laughing. I looked at the cashier and told him, "Umm, I can vouch that he's Erik Seidel as can most of the room." The cashier looked briefly at me then turned to Erik and asked, "Well, do you have a player's club card?" Now I had to laugh! Here is a guy who's won seven WSOP bracelets and probably plays in this room with the big hitters on a regular basis being asked for ID! Erik handled it pretty well, giving the guy the "don't-you-know-who-I-am" look, but pulled out his ID for him. I just couldn't stop laughing as I got my chips and headed to my seat.

I took my seat and early in to the game I found myself holding Ad-3d in early position. I made it $15 to go, and was called by two players including the big blind. The flop hit me pretty hard as it came 2d-4s-5s with two spades. I decided to bet my wheel hoping that an overpair would raise it, but my bet drove out the late position players and the big blind called. The turn came King. The big blind checked to me so I bet a little over half the pot hoping that if the player was on the flush draw they'd just go away, but this player decided to raise me. I was trying to put the player on a hand with which they would check-raise me. Since I was holding the second nuts I guessed that he was on a flush draw that paired him or maybe even had now two-paired him (maybe with the Ks), so I decided to reraise all in. I was called immediately. Now, unlike most casinos' cash games once players are all in and the betting is complete the Bellagio makes you turn over your cards. It was then I got the bad news. He was holding the 3s-6s, so he had flopped the higher straight when I flopped the wheel and he had a redraw to a flush and was open-ended for the straight flush. By the way, THAT's a good hand with which to check-raise. The river didn't matter and I was down pretty quickly. Rather than rebuy right away I decided to head back to the hotel since David was going to be arriving a little later. I figured we'd grab a bite to eat and get on to the next session someplace.

Sunday, July 2, 2006

My last cash game of the WSOP trip

I had all day Friday to kill and decided to play poker over at the Wynn all day. I really enjoyed their poker room and figured this would be a good way to wrap up the trip. I played poker from noon until about 9pm when I had to leave to grab my luggage and get to the airport.

I was drinking Long Island Iced Teas all day long, and as the day wore on I found myself getting more and more chatty (go figure). I normally don't talk a whole lot to the other players, but I was finding myself being able to extract lots of information out of the other players. I'm sure since I was not being as "rigid" as I normally am I was giving up some more information in my play, but I know that I was picking up lots more and so as I slowed down my drinking I still kept the chatty part of my game going.

I started the session by working my way from my $300 buy-in up to about $850 in chips through just really solid play, never once having to risk my entire stack of chips, but it was around 4 hours in to the session that I stepped on a couple of land mines that cost me all those chips plus $300 more.

I was in seat 5 at the table all day long. A new player in seat 10 had limped in as did several other players when I looked down at my small blind and saw I had pocket 8s. I decided to limp and take a flop to see what happened. I know, I know, you're thinking "you should have raised". I disagree. There were 5 or 6 limpers, and I didn't know if anyone was trying to be coy with a hand. If I make a big hand out of the flop I can really hit someone hard with it, and it makes it easy (and cheap) to get away from if you miss. Anyway, the flop comes:


Now, usually when three of a card is on the board the fourth isn't in play. It doesn't always work out that way, but a significant majority of the time it does. I decided to lead out and bet. I bet $25 into the $35 pot, and only got one caller. It was the new player in seat 10. In a situation like this pocket pairs are usually very good hands. It was the turn card here that made it so that I wasn't getting away from this pot. The turn card was an 8. This gave me the 2nd best hand possible, a boat 8s full of 7s. I led out and bet again ($60), but this time I guessed that my bet was a trapping bet. I was now hoping my opponent had a bigger pair than me. Since he limped preflop I was guessing that he could be holding 9s or Ts. He calls again. The river comes 2. I bet $100, and this time the player moves all in. Obviously he may have the 7, but with that turn card there and the pot the size that it was I felt that there was almost no way I could fold there, so I called his $225 and he very promptly turned over 7-5 showing me the quad 7s. Where it looks like this may have been an easy fold keep in mind that he had the only hand that could beat me (also known as "the cooler").

So I lost a lot of money in that pot, but I was still up. About 15 minutes later I get pocket Aces in middle position and bump it up to $25. Two players call. The board flops:


giving me a full house. The first player, a guy named Joe who was at the table the full 9 hours, checked to me and I fired $35 at the pot. I fired the bet hoping someone would have a piece of it and come over the top of me. The player behind me folds and Joe calls. Now Joe was a real nice guy and was very friendly to me all day. He kept telling me "I give you money" as he paid me off on hand after hand. Well he calls the $35 and turn card comes Ten. Now I'm back to the same situation I was in the last hand I described. Once again, a significant majority of the time no one has that 4th card. This time I was hoping Joe was calling me with an Ace since it would appear that if we both had an Ace this would be a split pot. Since I had AA I knew that wasn't the case. Joe checked and I bet $75 at the turn. Joe calls, telling me as he calls that "I do not think you have the Ten". The river comes a blank, and now he leads out and bets $200. Well, I am certainly going to call that. Joe did have about $6000 on the table. If he had moved all in I am about 95% sure I would have folded. However, it was only a $200 bet, and he would need the cooler to beat me, and sure enough, Joe had the cooler.

You may be asking, how did Joe get $6000 on the table? At the Wynn's $2-$5 No Limit game, the minimum buy in is $200, but there is no maximum. Also, when you play at some of the poker rooms in Vegas, you can have $100 bills on the table and they play. Earlier in the day, a player had beat Joe in a sizable pot, and in the very next hand that player and Joe were going heads up again and the player had asked the dealer how much Joe had in front of him because I think he thought he had Joe covered. Joe didn't like that he was being asked that and pulled out a wad of rubber-banded $100 bills and tossed it on the table and promptly told the player, "I have the table covered".

So now in the space of about 15 minutes I went from being very much ahead to very much down, having lost to the cooler twice. The drinks were kicking in and I had a lot of work to do. It's hard to try and stay chatty and friendly when you've taken a couple hits like that, but I managed to do it, reminding myself I was still way up for the trip. I started grinding away again. I did manage to get a lot of chips back about an hour and a half later when I found Ks-9s in middle position. The pot was bumped to $20, but there were three callers so I called. The flop comes:


giving me the nut flush draw. A player bet $30 and I called and another player called. The turn missed me and the player again led out, this time with $60. I raised to $200, knowing that if he has a weak Ace he may chuck it anyway. The other player folded and the initial bettor, Shannon, called. The river was the 7s and since there was no pair on the board I knew I had the nuts. Shannon put me all in and I called instantly, winning a nice pot. I think Shannon thought that when I raised at the turn I may have had two pair, and since he called that he may have been on the flush draw so he tried to represent it with his bet. He didn't count on my raising with the draw. He did comment a little after that how dumb of a bet that was since he himself didn't have two pair if he got called by anything he was beat. That's one of those that sometimes you determine "if I bet at the river, what can call me?" and realize that only hands that can beat you will call you. That's not always the case, but he was holding AJ as it turned out so when he put all his chips out there, the only hand calling him was beating him.

My next big hand came at the expense of Joe, but he set himself up for a bigger loss than he needed to. I was dealt the Ah-4h in a hand that was only raised to $15 so I made the call when the board came:


flopping me the nuts! I check, now trying to extract the maximum out of this hand. Joe bets $45 I think, gets a caller, and I call. The turn card was an 8. I check, Joe bets $50, the other player goes away, and I call. The river didn't pair the board and I checked again. I knew Joe had something and wasn't going to just check it. This time he bets $15, and then flips his cards face up on the table! One thing you should know, you can show your cards at a poker game. You can only do it when it is heads up action though. Some players do this to get a reaction out of their opponent. Joe also had flopped the flush, but he had 8h Th for a baby flush. Well, I knew I had the nuts before, but now knowing what Joe had it changed what I was planning on doing entirely. When he threw out that silly $15 on the end I was going to bump it to $100. Now, I was going to have to try and sell a steal. I kind of tried doing that "wild eyed look all over the place" look to make it look like I was thinking about it and then moved all in for $450! It was an insane overbet, and I knew it. I wanted Joe to question that bet. It worked, as he called me and I showed him the nuts. Joe just smiled and said, "See? I give you money."

That wasn't the only time I saw cards before having to make a decision. I had a player show me his A-rag when I was on a drawing hand at the turn that I made at the river and got paid off, and another player thought that there were no players left and turned his hand over when I was in the process of calling. I did have that player beat, but decided to not raise instead of calling since I had already started to move those chips out there, and I thought it would be unethical to do it to a player who had done it on accident when I had planned on just calling and started to make a motion to just call.

It was around 8:45 or so when I had $1100 in chips and a couple $100 bills in front of me, putting me up $400+ for the session. In my second to last hand I was dealt As-Qd and bumped it to $40. Two players called. One of them, Gary, was a player who only bet or played the river with a very strong hand. He had been at the table all day long himself. The flop came:


I now have top pair with top kicker so I bet $100, hoping to just take it down here. Gary calls, and the other player mucks it. The turn comes 3c. I bet $200, and Gary comments "You must have made your flush, heh?". Honestly, those may have been the first words spoken by this guy when he wasn't asked a direct question all day. Given the fact that he only played the river with strong hands and the fact that he was there when I paid off the quads both times I think he was trying to do what Joe had been trying to do when Joe had told me "I don't think you have the Ten" earlier, although this time it wasn't just a cooler that could beat me. There were many, many hands that could beat AQ. The river brought a 5, and I decided to check being fairly certain that the verbal statement Gary made was a sign of strength, and he quickly confirmed that with a $300 bet. I chucked my AQ, and when the BB got to me it was time to go. I racked my chips and headed to the cage to cash them in. I ended being up $39 for the session. Not great considering it was nine hours of play, but it's always better to be in the black than the red. I did get to drink for free all day and had an enjoyable time at the table with Ricardo, Joe, Nick, Shannon, Orash, Gary, Steve, and Oliver. I look forward to my next visit to Vegas. I'll be sure to stop back at the Wynn again!

Friday, June 30, 2006

The cash games out here aren't going too bad, either

Aside from the WSOP Dan and I have been going to various poker rooms on the strip. On Monday we visited the Wynn's poker room and Caesar's poker room. On Wednesday after Dan finally got busted in the tournament we were at the Wynn again. The Wynn's poker room is the nicest poker room I've seen. Very plush. It also seemed to be run very well as far as seating players and managing the room. The cocktail waitresses were coming around very regularly and we didn't have to wait long to get your drinks. Caesar's poker room is very large, but man does it lack any character. Very spacious, but the monitors are all too far away from the tables and there is just something about it that just says blah. They do have a separate tournament section partitioned off from the cash games, and that is pretty nice.

On Thursday, Dan and I visited the Venetian's poker room. That one was pretty nice, too. Definitely better than Caesar's, but not as nice as the Wynn. I think it would be very hard to find a nicer poker room than the Wynn personally. Dan had a 5:30 flight so after he left for the airport I headed over to the Bellagio's poker room. They are reputed to have the best poker room on the strip. The place was packed when I got there, and I had to wait about an hour to get a seat at a game, which is unusual at the Vegas poker rooms. I asked some of the players who appeared to be regulars about that when I sat down, and they said that it had to be because of the WSOP. The room itself was nice and was being managed very well. The cocktail service was pretty decent, too.

On Monday I got killed in the cash games. I lost $400 at the Wynn. Most of that occurred in one hand where I flopped a straight and somebody else flopped two pair. I was holding Jd 9d when the board came:

7x 8x Tx

After I check-called my opponent on the flop, a King peeled off on the turn. My opponent checked so I decided to bet and he raised me $1oo. I knew I still had the nuts so I moved in for my remaining $225 and he called me with 8T. An 8 hit on the river, filling my opponent's boat and wiping me out. Dan also took a little hit, and that was when we decided to head to Caesar's. I dropped another $200 there and decided to call it a night. It also had my confidence heading in to Tuesday rather shaken.

Things started to get better after Monday's massacre. In fact, I haven't lost at a cash game that I sat down at since Monday. On Wednesday at the Rio while Dan was finishing the tournament I played at the cash games the Rio was running and made about $100. I picked up a little over $500 at the Wynn on Wednesday in a 4 1/2 hour session, although I do have to admit that I got lucky in a couple of hands. Ironically, I did to someone else what I had done to me on Monday. I was holding 8h 9h when the board flopped:


giving me top two pair. I slow played them (bad Jason!) and check called. The turn brought a Jack, and when my opponent bet again I moved all in for about $250. My opponent called and showed me the nuts (7-T) for straight, but the river came 8 of all things and I was able to escape with a nice pot.

On Thursday when Dan and I were at the Venetian I made just under $100 on a session. It was nice because early in the session I was down my initial buy-in of $300 when my QQ was blown away by KJ. I worked my way back, and on one of my last hands I got back in to the black on what I thought was a pretty sweet hand. I was holding 7d 9d when the flop came:

7c 6d Td

giving me middle pair, a gutshot straight draw, a flush draw, and a straight flush draw. Three of us had gone to the flop and I was in the middle. The first opponent checked. I bet $50 into the $60 pot and the player behind me called. The initial checker raised all in, which amounted to another $153. I had another $300+ in chips, and my opponent behind me had me covered so I decided to move all in to shut the other player out. If I just called I didn't want to give him the correct pot odds to call if he was on a bigger draw, and I also wanted to represent a real big hand in case he was holding something marginal yet better than me so he could chuck it. As it turned out he had Kd Jd and did lay it down. After the all in was determined the turn came a blank, but the river came 8c giving me the nuts. My opponent was shocked at my play since he had As Ts (top pair, top kicker), but if you count all the outs I had (2 sevens, 3 nines, 4 eights, any diamond) I was actually the favorite when the money went in.

After Dan left and I went to the Bellagio, I had a nice session where I made $739 in 2 1/2 hours. I've got one day left here, and I think I'll go to the Wynn and play some more there. My flight leaves at midnight Vegas time and is scheduled to get in to Milwaukee around 5:30am so it's going to be a long day today.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

So...how'd that other guy do?

My friend Dan was still playing today in the tournament, and when we arrived at the Rio today at 1:30 we found the Pot Limit event going on already. I had considered entering this tournament myself, but I haven't played ANY Pot Limit tourneys or cash games so I am not familiar of the nuances of Pot Limit. I didn't think it would be smart to play my first Pot Limit tournament at the WSOP at cost of $1500.

Dan had 21,700 in chips, and we had looked at Cardplayer.com's website and found out that he was in 77th out of the remaining 122 players. The next tier for the payouts to go up was at 108th place, and with Dan having 45 players behind him in chips we thought that should be attainable. The tier after that ended at 82nd place.

Blinds started Day 2 at 1200-2400 with a 300 ante, so at Dan's table, which was 9-handed, each orbit was going to cost 6300 chips. That meant Dan had about 3 rounds of playing time left if he didn't improve his stack. Dan got dealt JJ once, moved all in, and got no callers. Dan also got 3-3 once, but on that hand there was a raise and reraise before it got to him. The board did bring a 3 so that turned out to be a lost opportunity for Dan.

Dan's tournament ended with the following hand:

Dan: Kd Qd

Opponent: A K

Dan's opponent limped, and Dan moved all in with his remaining 13200 in chips. The opponent called and the board did not help Dan at all. Dan ended up making it to 80th place, which earned him $7578. Awesome job!

All in all, a pretty successful trip. Two players, a field of 2776 players (2nd largest in WSOP history), and we came away with two cashes. Woo Hoo!!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Table 154 - a battle with a World Champion

Table 154 was up against the walkway so there were lots of people behind me when I got to my seat. I also found Greg Raymer, the 2004 WSOP Main Event Champion, sitting at my table when I arrived. I was in seat 9, and Greg was in seat 4. After arriving here we went on a break where we found that we were down to 279 players. When we came back we were going to be playing "round-for-round" play. When you get near the cashing bubble you have to play in a way so that players cannot stall to try and make it to the money. In the past they have played hand-for-hand, but that took too long as everyone had to wait until one hand was played until the next hand could be played. With the round-for-round format you play once around the table and then stop until everyone has finished their round. If enough players have been knocked out then they stop the round-for-round play and play continues normally. If not, then everyone does another round. This continues until the cash bubble has been burst.

I had 5800 in chips and the blinds were 400-800 with a 100 ante. This didn't give me too many options, and I certainly didn't want to go broke before cashing. During the first, and only, round of round-for-round play I ended up being all in twice and had what amounted to an all in decision against Greg Raymer.

When we got back from the break I was under the gun and found AK offsuit. Knowing that I would have to pay blinds on my next two hands I decided to move all in, just praying that everyone would be afraid of losing chips this close to cashing. No one called and I won myself and extra set of blinds and antes. I folded my BB, but then came what really probably amounts to my best tournament hand.

I was in the small blind. Greg Raymer, who was in early position, decided to raise to 2200. Everyone folded to me. I looked down and found Ac Qd. Normally I would play this hand in a heartbeat, but this is completely different. Raymer put on his funky sunglasses that are one of his staples and he and I started a staredown that lasted about 2 minutes. During the staredown I was thinking about my options and doing my math on the pot. If I move all in it's only for 4400 chips on top of Raymer's raise. This would also mean that Raymer would have to call 4400 to see about a 14200 pot. Now I know Raymer is smart enough to do that math, and those types of odds are going to be good for almost any hand. Add to the fact that he raised from mid-early position and not late position, which probably means he's not doing an outright steal, and that means he's going to call. Now, do I want to put my tournament life on the line with AQ when I know that he's going to call? I may have the lead, but I didn't think so. The staredown seemed to go on forever. I eventually showed the railbirds behind me my hand and let the hand go. Raymer asked me if I would feel better if I knew what he had. He showed me pocket Ts, making me feel better. Had it not been a decision for all my chips just prior to the cash bubble I would have called. Even if he had shown me AJ or worse I would have been OK with my decision.

It all became worthwhile on the next hand when I was on the button. Everyone folded to me, and I found AKoffsuit. This time it's a no brainer. I only have to beat the blinds, one of whom has fewer chips than me. I moved all in and the big blind called with A2offsuit. A King came off on the flop along with a pair of fours, and when the turn came five and the river came King my full house sent the big blind packing.

Let me tell you, being that close to the bubble and having to make those decisions isn't easy. Even when you feel confident you have the best hand there is always the chance that your opponent(s) could outdraw you.

After the first round of round-for-round play 14 players were eliminated and the bubble had burst. We were now in the money!! Woo Hoo! Now it's time to play to accumulate chips. Unfortunately, the cards were no longer cooperating with me. As blinds and antes passed I was getting whittled down again. Then finally, with blinds at 600-1200 with a 200 ante I met my fate. With 6000 chips left and being in the big blind, a player in later position raised to 2400, the minimum raise. I looked down and found J-8offsuit. Obviously this isn't a good hand, but the blinds add up to 1800 and the antes are 2000. With the raise of 2400, and my being forced to post 1200 moving all in was the play. The player would have the correct pot odds to call, but he could fold. If he calls the pot would be about 14200. He thought about it and called with As Td. The flop came:


giving me the lead. The turn came:


crushing me. The river didn't help, and I was eliminated in 188th place, cashing for $3,410. All in all a great time. I can now officially say that I have career earnings in the WSOP. Personally, seeing how the tournament runs I realize how tough it is to cash. For Dan and I to both get there is really something.

Be sure to follow Dan Nemec on cardplayer.com's website as they do live updates in blog format on their website!!

Table 123, the most exciting table I played

My arrival at table 123 began with a player almost receiving a penalty. As I sat down "Minneapolis" Jim Meehan was all in with 4-3offsuit against pocket 4s. The board came:

6-6-J-9-9 to cause a split pot, and Jim was yelling about how this guy had stolen half of the chips in a pot that Jim thought he should have won. Jim happened to have four beer cups on the table. When I got seated Jim was on my immediate left and was somewhat short-stacked. Bill Gazes was another poker pro at the table, and he was seated two to my right. I had about 4200 in chips so I was still plugging away. Jim got up and walked away from the table for a couple minutes to go catch a smoke outside, and I was made aware that Jim had done about a dozen shots along with the beers he had.

When Jim came back he was rambling on telling stories about various things to no one in particular. Whenever he'd kind of tap my arm as if he were telling me the story I'd just nod my head, but I never really looked at him too much. I was hoping he'd catch the hint. He didn't. At one point Jim and Bill got in to it a little when a player had raised Jim's big blind, and it really was enough of a raise that Jim was playing for all his chips. He went in to the think tank, and Bill finally starting pushing Jim to make a decision. Jim got really mad and started yelling at Bill, and a floor person had to be called over to calm things down. They brought Jim some coffee at that point, and they officially gave him a warning.

I had managed to work my way to about 7000 in chips. The hand where I got most of those chips came when I was dealt J-J. I hate Jacks. I think most players do. I raised about 5x the blinds and was of course called by one other player and the big blind. The board came about as bad as it can come when you hold Jacks:


The blind checked, I checked, and the other player checked. The turn came 2 and the blind checked again. This time I had to bet, and when I did both players folded. Personally I think I was beat, but hey, sometimes you get rewarded for being the aggressor

It was around this time that I got dealt a blow that I thought had me finished. This next section will go to show what you can do with just a "chip and a chair".

With the blinds at 150-300 and an ante of 25, I was in the BB with Ks-9s. A player near the end raised the minimum so I decided to call to see a flop. The flop came:

8-6-6 (two clubs, one heart)

I checked and my opponent checked. The turn came:


Giving me top pair. I led out and bet 1500 and was called. The river came:


I led out and bet 1500, and my opponent raised to 3000. I looked at my chips. I only had 2025 left. There was so much in the pot I didn't think I could fold, but I knew putting all my chips in couldn't be correct, so I just called. My opponent showed me the flush. Uggghhh. I was now down to 525 chips and was going to have be in the small blind the next hand and pay an ante.

This is where the fun begins. After posting my ante and small blind I had 350 chips left. A player in early position raised to 1200, and everyone started folding. I started doing my math, and with the antes (25 x 10 players), the blinds (300 & 150), and the raise, I knew I had to put my remaining chips in with Qd 4s. Thanks to the raise causing everyone else to fold I was going to see a 1750 chip pot for 350 chips. In other words I was getting 5 to 1 on my money. No matter what two cards I have I am going to play them there. The raise also meant that instead of having to play against 3, 4, or 5 opponents I'd only have to play one player. My opponent had A-3offsuit, making me a 60/40 underdog to win the hand. I spiked a Queen on the flop and nothing else hit so I won my first all in.

My second all in occurred two hands after that when I was in the cutoff position. I had Ks Qs and moved all in. Everyone had folded to me so I only needed to get the button (Jim) and blinds to fold, and they did.

My third all in was the very next hand. Once again everyone folded to me and looked down to find Ad Qc. Being short stacked I moved all in. This time the BB decided to think about it and eventually he called the 1800 with Kd 2d!! I would have been disappointed if my WSOP had ended on that call. Lucky for me neither of us hit a card to help our hands and my AQ held up.

Now I actually had some chips again. I had about 5200!! Amazing what antes do to those pots! Two hands later a shorter stack moved all in, and I looked down and saw AKoffsuit. I moved all in to isolate against him, and when we turned over our cards he had As Ts. He needed spades or a Ten. This time, an Ace hit on the board, but that didn't mean anything because we both had an Ace, and my King kicker held up!

The next hand I was dealt J-J and raised it to 1300. Everyone folded, and I picked up the blinds and antes again. In less than one orbit I had gone from 500 in chips to about 7000. All the players were telling me "nice comeback" and things of that nature. Jim even made some nice comment about seeing a comeback like that, but the slurring of what he said made it nearly impossible to understand.

Just before the dinner break I was dealt 9-9 in middle position. I raised to 1400, and the button moved all in. He had about 3000 so it was going to cost me about 1650 to call. I started adding up the pot while trying to get a read on my opponent and determined that he was playing high cards and decided to call. I was correct! He had AQ. When the dealer put out the flop a Queen was the top card. My opponent yelled "yes!", but as the dealer went to spread the flop a 9 showed up and I had made my set. My opponent could only win by hitting running cards on the turn and river, and that didn't happen so I eliminated him and went to the dinner break with 9200 in chips.

I was riding a high over dinner. I was just so happy that I had made that comeback!

We found out at dinner that there were 520 players left and the average stack was about 8000 chips. We also were made aware of the number of entrants and the fact that 270 were going to get paid. It was at this point I realized that we were going to get to the cash levels today.

When I got back from the dinner break, blinds had moved to 200-400 with a 50 chip ante. My third hand back from break I finally got AA. The best hand I had seen to this point had been JJ (I don't include AK although it's argued that AK is better than JJ). I raised with AA to 1200, got one caller, but when the flop came J-high and I bet and my opponent went away. This got me to my high mark of about 14000 chips.

After this hand I went the next two hours with almost no hand to play. Either I was getting mediocre hands with people raising in front of me, or getting no hand that was worth raising. I was getting whittled away by the blinds and antes and when I got moved over to table 154 I was at around 9100 in chips.

Table 185

I knew when I arrived at Table 185 that we would be breaking that table down shortly because they were breaking down the row of tables that had the table I just came from in it. The seat I inherited when I got there was none other than Scotty Nguyen's seat. The player to my left made sure he told me about 7 times that he busted him. He also made sure he had a beer in his hand almost constantly. I knew that I wouldn't have to deal with this guy long so I just let him go on rather than try and stop his constant yammering at the table. He was being obnoxious, but not enough to get a penalty.

I don't recall playing any hands of significance here, and after being seated there for about 45 minutes I got moved over to Table 123, which was by far the most exciting table I played at in this tournament

Table 181 - starting table

The day started slowly enough with the blinds at 25-25, and I managed to work my stack up to about 2200 chips in the first hour without having met much resistance. We were playing 11-handed, and Barry Shulman was seated to my immediate left, so when I have to pay my small blind he is in the big blind. Barry has been somewhat loose and aggressive with his chip stack fluctuating greatly. The first cards that I was dealt in my first WSOP event were: 8h-4c. Yes, I folded. The first hand where I put in an actual bet was pocket 8s when I was in the small blind. Barry made some comment about him just giving me his big blind, and I'm sure he was just fishing for information on my hand.

Play continued, and Barry got busted early by going in when he flopped the second pair on the board, but his opponent had flopped top pair and top kicker and Barry was gone. Barry was replaced by a WSOP bracelet winner, Todd Witteles, who won last year's $3000 Limit Hold 'em event and took 3rd in the $1500 Limit Hold 'em event. The player to my immediate right was busted, and he was replaced by none other than Hasan Habib. Habib took 2nd in the WPT championship two years ago, and 3rd place in the WPT championship last year. I was dead smack between two experienced players.

These guys know the type of intimidation they bring to the table, and they were using that for all it was worth. I had a hand where Hasan had raised it to 3x the blind preflop and I decided to call with A7suited. The flop came A-J-2, and Hasan bet 250. I had about 2000 in chips. I decided to raise him and I took it to 500. He laid it down, and it was then that I finally felt in my comfort zone playing with these guys. Shortly after that I ended up in a 3-man pot with both Todd and Hasan when Hasan had limped from the button. I raised to 3x the blind, and Todd and Hasan called. I was holding Ad 6d and after a K-5-5 flop I led out and bet, and they both laid it down.

Hasan and Todd were both really nice guys. Being seated next to the both of them made it easy to start conversations with them. I was asking them questions about how many events they planned on playing, how many "big" events do they play in a year, things like that. Hasan went broke when he moved his remaining 175 chips in to a 4-player pot, but he was really very gracious and extended his hand to me when he got up to leave.

It was around this time that I had worked my way to being near the table chip lead with about 3400. We were still only in Level 2 so I had reached my "double up by Level 3" goal without having to really risk my chips. I was getting confident enough that I was even picking up blinds with medium to medium-bad hands. I only got contested really once, and that was when I was holding A-Jsuited and the flop came T-T-2. I led out and bet and was called. The turn came Ten. I checked and my opponent bet. So much for that pot.

I did win my first WSOP race at this table when I raised from the cutoff position with Kd-Qd. The blinds were at 50-100. The big blind moved all in over the top for another 700, and since he was short stacked I called hoping he was on an under pair. By calling and losing I would have been down to 1300 chips, but the pot was worth enough to call. He had T-T, and amazingly I rivered a Queen to send him to the rail.

Shortly after that I sent another player to the rail when my Qh-9h won a race against a very short stacked player who moved in with 5-5. This race wasn't nearly as exciting as the Q was the first card that came off the flop.

Our table broke down at that point and I got dealt the card that sent me over to table 185 seat number 10.

This has been Awesome!

Sorry about not posting anything until now, but I had one REALLY long day of poker yesterday. When Dan and I got back to the hotel it was almost 2:30am, and all I wanted to do was crash so I did. If you read my earlier posts you know I had a plan in mind. Well, my numbers in the plan were a little off. I thought that with the blind structure that was presented that we would play until there were about 500 players or so left. As it turned out we played until there were only 122 players left.

The tournament officially had 2776 entries. Out of those 2776 entries 270 places were being paid. I am no longer in the tournament, having busted out in 188th place. My friend Dan is still playing. The average chip stack is approximately $34,000, and Dan has $21,700. When he resumes play today the blinds will be $1200-$2400 with a $300 ante, so he has a little more than 3 full orbits left, as each orbit would cost $6,600 in chips.

There were so many poker pros that we saw. It would probably be easier to list the names of people I didn't see instead of the people who I did see. I even had a pro come up to me to ask a question early in the day. I was wearing my Full Tilt jersey, and Andrew Black came up to me to ask me a couple questions because he thought I was with the Full Tilt crew.

I had several poker "celebrities" at the various tables I played at today. I'll give a list of who I played with at my tables and then I will go in to more details about the hands I had. I played with: Barry Shulman (publisher of Card Player magazine), Todd Witteles (WSOP bracelet winner from last year's $3000 Limit Hold 'em event), Habib Hasan, "Minneapolis" Jim Meehan, Bill Gazes, Greg Raymer, and Tuan Le.

I don't want this blog to go on forever so I am just going to post this, and I will get in to more hand details in a later blog.

Cardplayer.com has updates and they told me they would also be listing the results there, but as of this time nothing has been posted.