Saturday, June 30, 2007

The 2007 WSOP trip

The 2007 World Series of Poker (WSOP) took place from June 1, 2007, through July 18. In 2006, Dan and I went out for the initial event. This year, more $1500 events were added, so we planned on playing in event #38, a $1500 buy-in event. Part of this was because of scheduling conflicts and part of it was because the $50,000 H.O.R.S.E. event was starting the next day. We knew that the H.O.R.S.E. event would have all of the poker pros that we would recognize, and would provide some good opportunity to watch all the pros playing together. For those that aren’t familiar with all the poker games, H.O.R.S.E. is a combination of 5 Limit games: Hold ‘em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Seven-card Stud, and Seven-card Stud Hi/Lo Eight or Better. They rotate through the games at set intervals. Playing this game is probably a true test of the best overall skills of a poker player since they need to be proficient in all of the more commonly played forms of poker.

A friend and colleague of mine, Adam, and his wife were also going to be in Vegas for the WSOP at the same time Dan and I were and they were also planning on playing in event #38.

This trip was also a little different since I went out to Vegas with less than the necessary buy in for the event, so I was going to have to win some cash (about $500) while I was out there in order to play in the event. I was on a work trip in Dayton, and would be going to Vegas without a break in between. I did have an extended layover in Milwaukee of all places because of the way the flight plan worked, but a friend of mine was kind enough to pick me up and prepare a nice meal at home while I was on that layover. Also, upon arriving in Vegas, I was going to be without a hotel for about 28 hours because Dan was arriving the day after I had arrived. My plan was to play poker either at the Rio or the Wynn until Dan arrived. So, after arriving in Vegas and dropping my luggage off at the Bellagio, I caught a cab and headed to the Rio to see what the action was like there.

The poker room area was plenty busy, and I grabbed a seat at a $2/$5 No-Limit Hold ‘em table. After about 5 hours of play I had managed to win slightly more than $1300 through some pretty solid play. I was playing in the graveyard shift, so there was quite a bit of play coming from players that had drunk a little too much, so it was an entertaining game to play. I played until about 5am, and since I now had my buy-in covered for event #38 I decided to try my hand at a satellite tournament. The way the satellites work you can get in to a tournament with 9 other players at a smaller buy-in, and can win satellite chips that you can then use as your entry fee. Depending on the buy-in either the top spot gets the chips, or sometimes the top two get chips. I played two satellite tournaments that morning without success, and decided to make my way back to the Bellagio to grab some breakfast. I still had about 11 hours to go before Dan arrived! After eating I was feeling re-energized so I sat down at the Bellagio’s poker room to play some more poker. I managed to recoup what I had lost in the satellites and a couple hundred more. I was really getting tired, so I cashed out, got caught up on some voicemail messages that I missed while playing at the table, and walked around the Bellagio until Dan arrived. Man, I was really looking forward to getting some sleep!

Dan and I got the opportunity to play some poker at the Rio, and we got our entry in to the event as well. My sleep schedule was completely thrown off at this point. We met up with Adam and Tanya, and talked a little about plans for the day/evening. We got some more poker in, and then got some rest before the day of the event. As it got closer to the start of the event the four of us met up again so that we knew where each other was sitting. I had an unfortunate draw and was sitting in the outdoor tent they had set up outside the Amazon Room of the Rio. It was unfortunate because mid-June in Vegas in a tent with a couple hundred other people isn’t exactly comfortable for playing poker. I answered a couple last minute phone calls and good-luck text messages, and then took my seat. Mimi Tran was seated two to my right, so she was on the button when I was in the big blind. That’s not exactly the scenario I’m looking for since she is a known pro, and plays aggressive.

Shortly after getting started, I received a text message that Adam was out. That sucked. I was hoping that all 4 of us would go deep and possibly cash, much like Dan and I had done last year. About two hours in to the tournament I found myself in late position when someone in early position had just called the big blind. I looked down and saw that I had been dealt two lovely ladies:


I chose to raise about five times the big blind. That chased the two blinds out of the hand, and the person who had just called, otherwise known as “limping”, called my raise. The board came somewhat ugly for me:


Now, often times when a pair hits the board it’s unlikely that a player has that card in their hand. When the board happens to contain two Aces or Kings it does make it a little more likely to be in play because people like to play starting hands that contain those particular ranks. My opponent checked to me, and I decided to get a feel of where I was at by putting a bet in to the pot. My opponent almost immediately called, and I made the decision that I was going to be done with this hand because I really felt that they had an Ace in their hand. The only way I was going to put more in to the pot would be if I hit a Queen to give me a full house. All of the action up to this point would seem in order with someone holding an Ace as a hole card. The turn came:


and my opponent checked. I also checked, using the reasoning I just explained as my reason for checking. The river came:


giving me a full house. My opponent bet, which I was anticipating since I had put him on a hand with an Ace. I then raised with my full house. My opponent thought for a brief moment and then called, showing me: A-9. This gave him a hand of A-A-A-9-9 (Aces full of 9s) to my Q-Q-Q-A-A (Queens full of Aces). The hand didn’t knock me out, but it did cripple me. Most of you might be wondering why he didn’t raise me again, but he quickly explained (without any prompting) that he thought that I had raised initially with AK or AQ, possibly AJ, and he didn’t want to go broke if I had AQ or AJ. I didn’t have to show my hand because he had shown his first, but I did mention to him that the river card “was the best card he could have had hit the board”. It was the only card that would have cost me more chips…ugh!!

Shortly after that I was on the button with KToffsuit, and no one had raised so I moved all in to steal the blinds and was called by the big blind, who was holding K8. The board hit an 8 and bricked out for me, and my WSOP was over. I had lasted about 3 hours. I was extremely disappointed, but sometimes, that’s just the way poker goes. I made a couple of phone calls to let some people know how I finished, and then I found Adam and found out how he was eliminated.Dan was eliminated at about 5:00 or so. He lasted about 5 hours, and Tanya lasted to almost the dinner break. We were a pretty disappointed bunch. I think that we probably thought that out of the four of us one of us would surely cash. We still had a few days left in Vegas, and I played plenty of poker and still had a decent time. Certainly not the same as 2006, and I was eagerly looking forward to getting home by the end of the 2007 WSOP trip.