Posts Tagged ‘wsop’

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WSOP 2019: The Adrenaline Rush and Heartbreak of a Deep Run

June 25, 2019

When it comes to playing poker there is no greater feeling than making a deep run in a WSOP event. I’ve done it a couple of times before.

My third place finish in the Industry Event was a lot of fun, but the fact that it’s not an open bracelet event combined with the fact that it’s the luckiest I’ve ever been in a live tournament makes me feel like it will always come with an asterisk in my head. On the other hand, my big suck outs in critical spots felt like a lot of justice for all the brutal beats I’d taken super deep in all the tournaments before that one that had prevented me from making a real run at a major title.

In contrast, my fifth place finish in the $1500 H.O.R.S.E. in 2017 was just a surreal and amazing experience. By the time we got down to three tables, almost everyone left in the tournament was a known poker star.

This $2500 Omaha 8/Stud 8 felt pretty similar. Like, I know I’m capable of making runs like this and I think I can play most of the games at a high level, but another part of me is like wtf am I doing here with 15 left in a World Series of Poker tournament playing with the Shaun Deebs of the world?

It’s crazy.

I broke down a hand history with Phillip Hui on break and he was very happy to talk with me about it. I absolutely loved his table presence and I knew he would be approachable.

I spent all Day 2 locking horns with Andrey Zaichenko to the point where he finally lamented: “I can’t beat you.” He was on my direct right with an unfathomable amount of chips, looking destined for a final table appearance (he would take 4th), while I was on the bubble of this thing feeling the maximum amount of pressure about it.

Seriously.

After cashing 7 of 10 WSOP events with two top 5 finishes in 2016-2017, I was on an 0-11 WSOP stretch heading into this one and that’s overlooking the fact that I’ve been tossing up bricks all year everywhere else too. I really, really wanted to cash this tournament.

It was looking like I was going to sweat it out the entire bubble, but then I caught a little rush and suddenly found myself way above average, a lock to cash, and thoughts of having a real deep run.

Ironically enough, I ended up finishing Day 2 with more chips than Zaichenko. He was a total pain in the ass all day though. Every pot went through him. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say he played around 60% of his hands. Is that really possible? He was a beast. A borderline maniac. I was impressed though.

Here’s a sick hand with two tables left:

Thompson completed on 3rd with a ten up and got called in four spots!

I led out on 4th when I made open aces and Shaun Deeb, Danny Ratigan and Denis Stebkov all called.

On 5th, I honestly didn’t know what to do. This is where lack of experience can be costly. I’m not sure what my best line is here. My hand is 65-AA7. Deeb and Ratigan both had good looking low boards, so I ended up checking and it checked to Ratigan and he bet. I gave some thought to raising here to try and get heads up with Ratigan, but I didn’t think it was likely Deeb would fold to a raise, so I just called. Denis folded and Deeb called.

I checked again on 6th and it checked to Ratigan. He bet, I called, Deeb raised, and Ratigan 3-bet. I had a strong feeling I was getting squeezed here. Deeb looks like he can have a flush but if you look at the upcards reported above, it’s actually not likely at all, as the ace, 4 and 5 of diamonds are all accounted for on other boards. So he basically needs to have exactly some combo of the 2, 7, and 8 of diamonds in the hole to have a flush here. Also, how likely is he to check a made low with a four flush on 5th street? Not fucking likely.

Still, it seems like I’m drawing dead to the low half of the pot here, so calling off three more big bets to maybe win half seems precarious. I folded.

Ratigan ended up having 75 in the hole and caught an 8 on 7th to make a straight, so I would have got scooped on 7th anyway (I was in last position so the cards would be the same on 7th).

Deeb was making a play. He had a pair and a six low draw and got me to fold the high half of the pot. He would have looked like a genius if it worked and Ratigan bricked the river.

I hated letting him get away with it and I’m not going to lie… I was happy to see Danny scoop that pot and Deeb bust in 13th a short while later. I didn’t want to deal with Shaun at a final table, plus Danny Ratigan is from the Seattle area!

I’ll say this though. I don’t post much on Twitter but I’m pretty in tune with the poker Twitterverse and, well, Shaun is a controversial figure and can be extremely opinionated and pretty mean. I would not have been surprised to not like him. It was the opposite. I was impressed with everything about the guy. He was nice to everyone and the floors practically treated him like he was the Tournament Director. And his focus was unreal. He didn’t miss a thing at the table. I wish I had 20% of that focus level. I was blown away. That kind of thing is scary to play against.

One more hand from Day 2:

I think it would be pretty hard to report poker hands, especially when you start watching in the middle of a pot, and I think the PokerNews team generally does a really good job, but man, this one couldn’t be further from the truth.

Here’s what really happened:

Matt Vengrin is the bring in with the 2d and everyone folds to Phillip Long, in the effective cutoff position, and he completes with a ten up. I have the Qc up and two jacks in the hole and raise it. Vengrin defends the bring in and Long also calls.

On 4th street, Vengrin pairs his door card, Long catches an offsuit 6 and I catch an offsuit jack: a total gin card for me. It checks to me, I bet, and Vengrin raises to put himself all in. It’s enough of a raise that it allows me to re-raise if I choose to, so Phillip Long reluctantly folds and I call. Vengrin thinks he has me crushed because he has a deuce in the hole, but I show him the ultra bad news by turning up two jacks. Things had been going bad for me so I had a feeling he was going to fill up and I was going to lose this critical pot, but we both bricked through 6th street and I snap rolled my last card to give me jacks full and he only had the case deuce for a win. He squeezed the 9 of clubs and then crumpled it up, tossed it in the air, and hit the dealer in the head with it.

Compare the real hand to the hand reported above and it’s quite a different story.

Even Vengrin had his own version of events:

I mean… he was super unlucky to catch a 2 on 4th and be behind, but he definitely wasn’t rolled up here.

I finished Day 2 8th in chips with 12 players left and that was reason enough for my wife to wake up at 6am and book a flight to Vegas so she could be here if I somehow found my way to a bracelet. Blackjack even booked a flight to come sweat my Day 3 run.

When you get this far in a bracelet event it’s easy to start dreaming about what might happen. Based on chip distribution alone, my fair share of the bracelet heading into Day 3 was greater than 6%! A few pots going my way early while others bust out and that number starts to swing heavily in my favor.

What’s harder to imagine is the worst possible outcome happening.

I’ll let Blackjack tell his story:

It literally could not have gone worse for me. We started with about four hands of Stud 8 and I folded all of them, but I was super active in the Omaha round.

First, I flopped the nut low draw and a small pair on an all diamond flop. I checked back the flop but called down when the low came in and my A43x got quartered by A44x.

Then this happened:

I opened with AJ72 and no suits and Gerard 3-bet me on the button. With top top on the flop and the backdoor nut low draw, check-calling seemed best. While I’m blocking AA hands, it’s still something to be weary of when you get 3-bet in O8.

I loved the turn, as it gave me the nut low draw in addition to top pair. While I was happy to check-call the turn, I was going to lead the river if I made the nut low. If I get quartered with top pair and the nut low, then so be it. In fact, the only cards I don’t want to see on the river are a king, queen, ace or deuce. Ironically, I was still scooping if an ace came.

In fact, this is what my odds looked like heading to the river:

So I’m scooping this crucial pot 70% of the time and getting scooped 30%.

Obviously, I don’t know what he has exactly, so when the river comes a queen and he bets, all I know is this: I fucking hate it.

As noted earlier, a queen is one of the few cards where my hand feels like it gets destroyed. I have an easy showdown on pretty much every other card and now I have a super marginal one way hand. In fact, it’s so easy for me to get scooped here that I should probably just be folding when each big bet is so critical to my stack.

On the other hand, there are 7.75 big bets in the pot and if he’s bluffing as much as 11% of the time folding the best hand here would be an absolute catastrophe. Is he bluffing enough? It’s hard to say – not like I have a ton of history with the guy. What hands could he triple barrel with? A23x? Raggedy A2xx hands? A245? What if the river was a 9 or ten? Is he betting with AK53? The fact he double barreled the hand he did have leads me to believe if he missed the river, he would have to fire another bullet and that makes me feel better about my call.

Regardless, an absolutely sickening runout and, essentially, my knockout blow.

A hand or two later, I’m in the small blind and Phillip Long opens the button, I 3-bet all in with the AK53. He showed the QJ52 and the A87 rainbow flop meant we were going to chop 80% of the time and each of us had about 10% scoop equity. Somehow, he managed to realize his scoop equity when the board ran out 9-T to give him the nut high along with a better low and just like that… I was out.

I’m not going to lie… I was pretty shellshocked to be out in 20 minutes and sad that my wife flew out to sweat me and this is what happened. On the other hand, I got to spend a whole day with her on the weekend before her birthday so that was really nice. She gave me the go ahead to play the $1500 Razz – even urged me to play it – but I was feeling a bit demoralized and I wanted to spend time with her since she was here.

So we went and saw Ka at the MGM Grand.

Here is how Dina felt before the show:

And here is how she felt after the show:

In fact, she gave the show a 3 out of 10, which I thought was super harsh. I can’t say I really enjoyed the experience either though.

First, they wouldn’t let me bring my backpack in, even though I carry all my diabetic supplies and emergency items in it. I’ve never had anyone forcefully turn me away after I pull out the debilitating disease excuse, but they wouldn’t let me in. So we went to the bellhop to check our bags and that took 20 minutes to happen and in the process, I lost my Contigo water bottle because I’m not used to carrying it around as it is normally slotted on the side of my backpack. So that was cool.

Then, with 5 minutes before show time, our bags checked, all my items in my wife’s purse, we get our tickets scanned and they tell us her purse is too big to bring in. The same purse they saw earlier and didn’t say anything about. Well, I wasn’t having that and I didn’t get to throw much of a fit before they just waved us in.

I’ll give Ka a 6 out of 10. It is my least favorite show I’ve seen in Vegas. If it was the first one I saw, I would probably think more highly of it. I thought the music was really good and the stage was very impressive, but the show was the least interesting I’ve seen and while the stunts were pretty cool, they were also the least spectacular I’ve seen. Even Absinthe has better physical performances.

Updates Vegas Show Rankings

1. Absinthe

2. Michael Jackson: One

3. The Beatles: Love

4. O

5. Penn & Teller

6. Ka

I played the $600 No Limit Hold’em WSOP Deep Stack today and I had about 35k when this hand came up during the 300/600 level. An older white gentleman opened from MP to 1600 and I decided to flat with AQo. I think this is a fine hand to mix flats and 3-bets with against this player type. I think it’s an easy fold if he 4-bets and I don’t mind playing AQ in position in a single-raised pot either.

The small blind, a younger, capable-looking Asian guy 3-bet to 6200 and the opener folded. I’m not about to fold AQ in a squeeze spot against a player that seems capable of pulling the trigger, and I think there is serious merit to just stuffing it preflop at this point, but I elected to call.

The flop was QJ5 rainbow and he checked to me. I down bet 5500 into over 15k and he stuffed it on me. This sent me into the tank for a good three minutes. Obviously, I don’t love this spot, even with top top. On the other hand, I’m blocking queens and aces and I have ~20% equity if he has KK. I’m fucked if he has JJ, but I also think he can have some KQ, QT, KT, and maybe some spazzy Qx or Jx hands. I probably can’t have AA or KK here, so AQ is one of the best hands I would even think about folding here and that means I probably have to call with it.

I call. He tables KT, the turn bricks, but the river is an ace and I was busted.

Also, saw this guy in the Rio hallway yesterday and I have to wonder if I even have the right to be The Dark Knight when this guy is playing poker in this outfit:

That’s a level of commitment I will never reach.

Now I’m at the Bellagio playing some $40/$80 Limit Hold’em.

Spotted FanBoy doing work in the $80/$160 game:

Maybe I’ll post some hands here. Maybe I won’t.

Either way, I will post my end result after my session.

Result: +$3157

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March 2019 Goals

March 1, 2019

But first, let me talk about February 2019 real quick.

It was the worst month of poker in my career.

I basically look at my poker career as starting in June of 2011. By that point, I was almost a year sober and I had just spent almost all of May 2011 sitting in a jail cell for a probation violation, preparing myself for success when I got out.

I had been playing poker for nearly seven years before that and while I had a good amount of success, I was also a raging alcoholic during that period and totally incapable of keeping a bankroll together. I could have been one of those poker boom success stories you hear about nowadays, but I blew my chance. I had a massive leak (drinking) and no concept of bankroll management, plus I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought I was.

At one point, in the spring of 2005, I had turned $300 into something like $25k in a few months, at a time when I was basically living check to check. So that was a massive amount of money to me. Enough, that I was sitting in class at UW, weeks shy of graduating from a good college, and “realized” that I was wasting my time there when I could be making $100/hour playing poker online. So I dropped out. And quit my job.

By spring of 2006, I was unemployed with -$700 in my bank account, an eviction notice on my apartment door, and my Jeep Grand Cherokee on loan to a fellow player expecting him to make my monthly payments (he didn’t).

I suppose that was my absolute worst rock bottom, but I would bottom out at least two more times in the next half decade.

So yeah, maybe I’ve had a worse losing month in my life. I’m not sure. Like most long term losing players, I stopped keeping track back then and have no trace of these dark times records now.

However, I am sure that February 2019 is the worst month I’ve had since I quit drinking over eight years ago.It was my first month losing over $5000. And I started the month with a $5000 cushion. Crazy. I’m pretty sure that 10k slide is the worst cash game downswing I’ve ever had.

Yesterday I decided to put in a marathon 8/16 session in the hopes that I could crack the Top 40 in hours and get $15 meal comps for the month of March (got ’em!), even though I was out of town for over a third of the month.

I had a chance to avoid a record-setting losing month, but I posted a -$490 to set a new bar after finding ways to lose with AA on A33, JJ to 52 on 833 rainbow, and 99 to JT on 963 rainbow, just to name some of the more memorable uppercuts to my chin.

On the bright side, we sold a house and got some much appreciated padding to the bankroll.

So I guess, in a sense, February was a really good month for us.

But goodness am I glad to see March.

My goals for March are going to be a bit different than normal. Palace basically has three must play days for me (PLO on Wednesdays and 15/30 on Fri/Sat) and that leaves me with four days a week to occupy my time elsewhere.

With the Muckleshoot Spring Classic coming up at the end of March, my focus is going to shift towards setting myself up for success in what is probably going to be an all no limit Hold’em schedule.

My top poker objective for the month of March is to play 100 NLHE tournaments before the Muckleshoot Spring Classic starts.

In addition, I will be focusing all my study on no limit Hold’em tournaments for the next six weeks or so (also looking ahead to the Spring Round Up in Pendleton, Oregon next month).

Almost all of the tournament volume will be accomplished online at Global Poker, but I am also aiming to play 3-4 of the Muckleshoot weekly tournaments as well.

My other goals for the month are health related. I have been lifting, meditating, hiking, and doing yoga since 2019 started, but it hasn’t been as consistent as I’d like. I’m pretty good at going to the gym twice a week, but I really need to be in there four times a week. And meditating on a daily basis.

Also, here’s a look at the first draft of my desired WSOP schedule. My must play events are highlighted in purple. Also, I have not looked at schedules for anywhere else yet, but I will definitely be playing some non-WSOP events.

Once I get a better grasp on what I’ll be playing, I’ll offer some series packages and pieces of various tournaments. Anyone that wants action in the Main Event can hit me up now and I’ll start making a list.

Seeing as how I’ve lost four consecutive 15/30 sessions in painful fashion, I will not be live blogging my tonight. Maybe tomorrow.

Last year, March was my best month thanks to the Spring Classic and I’m looking forward to trying my best to repeat as Player of the Series.

Leggo.

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Main Event Day 3 – Sweat Post

July 7, 2018

There it is. My worst table draw yet. I’m starting the day with 51 bigs, so I’m far from the danger zone, but the five players on my left are all more accomplished than I am and four of them have me covered.

Josh Arieh has almost $8 million in career earnings and at least two WSOP bracelets that I saw, plus a (infamous?) 3rd place finish in the 2004 WSOP Main Event.

Max Altergott is a German high roller that seems to have disappeared from the live scene mostly over the last few years, but I’d guess he’s been playing a lot online.

Stanley Lee has a 3rd place finish in the WSOP Monster Stack and various other NL results that back that effort up.

Dustin Goff seems to have had all his success in the past month, so he’s probably feeling very confident.

The table chipleader is on my immediate right and seems to have very little live experience. That’s a plus, but I’m not in a great position to abuse him.

The player in seat 9 has no recorded cashes… and a short stack.

I imagine the tables in Brasilia will be breaking after the Pavilion, but I’m not sure. I wouldn’t mind seeing this table break early, but you always have to be careful what you wish for. Fist bump as you bag your chips and you might find yourself headed to a televised feature table with Phil Ivey and his mountain of chips and… his sunglasses. Sunglasses!!!

Chances are this lineup is not going to let me get away with opening 15% of my starting hands, so I will have to pick my spots wisely.

Chief Wiggum bagged up a stack of 56.2k and he’ll be tangling with Washington state notable Darren Rabinowitz.

Cards in the air in an hour. Stack updates here and on Facebook and I’ll post some notable hands here on breaks if I have time.

Let’s get it.

11:29 PM: Huge pot brewing:

Arieh re-jams here on T53cc.

Wow. S1 lays down AK of clubs, Arieh has 55, and s4 has AT! What a punt.

Josh Arieh sitting on over 400k now.

1 PM: I stacked the shortest stack at the table when he jammed KQ into my AA.

I just 4-bet jammed over a button open and small blind 3-bet with QQ right before the break. Button makes it 5k, small blind makes it 16k. I had about 130k and I’m not sure if I have any other reasonable line. They both folded.

I’m at 153k on break. Chief Wiggum has 63k.

Two other interesting hands I wasn’t involved in:

Two players limp and Josh Arieh makes it like 5.5x. Max Altergott on his immediate left makes it 18k, the limpers fold, and it’s back on Arieh. He starts breathing super heavy and when he makes it 55k I can see his hands shaking. Max stares him down for quite some time. I’m sure he sees what I’m seeing. Stuffs it on him. Arieh snap folds. (Later he says he won’t be lasting long if he keeps putting 55k in with T6 of diamonds.)

A bit later, Max raises under the gun and Arieh defends the big blind. Arieh check-raises the A62 flop and Max calls. They both check the turn. Josh makes a sizable bet on the river. He is breathing normal and looks calm. Max looks him over for a very long time. Looks at his legs and feet. Leans over and looks at his neck. It’s brutal. He makes the call after like four minutes. Arieh asks the dealer, “can I turn over my cards now?” and then tables A6 and immediately puts Max’s call in his stack and then says something about “maybe my live tells aren’t so obvious, huh?”

I don’t know about that. He looked completely different on both hands. I’m not really planning to make moves on Arieh because of this. My only real takeaway is that I’m never bluffing Max Altergott. Holy shit. I can’t be looked over for five minutes and not want to murder someone.

1:26 PM: Jack Effel just announced they are planning to have us play to the money tonight.

These guys and their waters. I can barely move. Wth.

2:22 PM: So bitter. I’m running at 16% VPIP and 5% PFR for the day, so obviously 63o defends when I raise KK under the gun. Flop is 763 with two diamonds. He check-raises me and I’m not deep enough to even consider folding. I jam and the board runs out clean for him.

Sigh.

So sick.

It hurts.

Now I have an 18 hour drive to Seattle that I’m ready to start five minutes ago.

Thanks for sweating everyone.

2:50 PM: Ugh. I dunno. Maybe I don’t have to go broke here. I’m not going to beat myself up about going bust with KK and I really am not interested in hearing anyone else’s take on the situation, but I’m going to reevaluate it anyway.

I started the hand with something like 150k, so I have a bit over 60 bigs. I make it 6k at 1200/2400 and he defends with 63o which is obviously horrible. I’m opening under the gun and I’ve been playing very tight. His defend is straight up terrible.

The flop is 763 with two diamonds. I have the king of diamonds. I’ve been playing a lot of small ball and I strongly considered checking back this flop (goddammit why didn’t I?), but I also thought there are too many turn cards I will hate, so I bet 8k and he made it something like 25k.

At this point I have 14k of 150k invested and still have 136k (56 big blinds) behind. The pot size has now ballooned to about 50k. I am never, ever folding on the flop, so the question is, do I call and reevaluate on the turn or jam it in here?

If I call, the pot will be about 67k and I’ll have 119k behind. Its hard to imagine folding the turn if the board comes clean. The problem is when it doesn’t come clean… like 4s and 5s and diamonds. Those cards are obviously better for his range and I can actually be folding the best hand a lot of the time.

That’s what was going through my head when I decided to jam. If he has me beat, he has me beat, but I won’t have to play any guessing games on bad run outs.

Checking back KK on this flop isn’t a must, but it does make those bad turns and rivers easier to navigate. Let’s say I check back and the turn comes the ace of clubs like it did. He actually might try to check-raise me there and if he does, I’m probably checking back that card also and looking to show down as cheap as possible on the river. If he leads, I can call a smallish turn bet and reevaluate on the river, probably calling smaller bets and folding more often to more polarizing ones.

Pretty frustrating spot. Annoying that he defended the 63o and even more annoying that I took the flop line that got him max action. I mix in some flop checks with strong hands so it sucks that I didn’t take that line here. I’d still be in there.

Oh well. I’m obviously extremely dejected but I can’t wait to take another shot next year.

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WSOP $1500 8-Game & My First Cash of the Summer!

June 9, 2018

No, not in a WSOP event. After my super disappointing finish in the $1500 HORSE, I just went back to my condo and stayed there the rest of the day taking it easy and relaxing.

I was planning to play cash games all day yesterday but I heard The Orleans had a $150 8-Game tournament in their series and it sounded like the perfect warm-up for my next WSOP event.

The Atom and myself showed up for the start of the tournament and The Joker and Tormund made appearances a few hours later. With 80 players (of 133 entrants) remaining, I was the only one left standing – far away from the money at 18. Nice showing, fellas!

I don’t have much to say about this tournament until the very late stages, specifically with four tables left, roughly six spots off the money.

I had a pretty healthy stack at this point, but even so, chips can disappear quickly, especially if you have big confrontations. We are playing limit hold’em six-handed and I open with 44 under the gun. Honestly, it’s a bit loose. I don’t know that I would consider it standard and I think folding here is pretty defensible, possibly even recommended. For instance, if I was in a loose, six-handed cash game, I would always fold 44 under the gun. But in a tournament, with most of my opponents playing on the tighter side, I think it’s okay. So I open the 44 and the lady on my direct left does a little bit of a stutter step like she is considering raising me but winds up cold-calling instead. We go heads up to the flop.

It is very, very sexy. KJ4. I bet. She raises. Oh sweet baby Jesus, it is my lucky day. No need to get coy here. I can eyeball her stack and see that she will be very close to all in if we play this hand out, so I go ahead and re-raise, knowing she’s going to have to call me down basically all the time if she has a hand. She calls my 3-bet.

The turn is a 6. I bet and she calls.

The river is a ten. I bet and she says “I’m all in.” I thought she had less than my bet, so I just snap-roll my hand without saying anything. And she snap-rolls her hand.

She has AQ for a rivered straight.

How? We put in three bets each on the flop! How does she have a straight? What in the world? I mean, I sort of get it. It’s a reasonable hand to bluff with on the flop. I might fold smaller pairs and some other hands, plus she usually has decent equity when called. Maybe she takes a free card when I just flat. But when I raise flop and bet turn it is just max pain for me on the river. There are 5.5 small bets after the preflop betting, so after the flop action there are 11.5 small bets. On the turn, she is getting 6.75 to 1 to call with what looks like four outs. My hand looks a lot like AK, KJ, and sets – and my combos of KQ are reduced by her holding, plus I might not play that hand so fast in such a critical spot. Seems like a pretty standard fold on the turn for her.

But she didn’t fold and instead I’m losing this insanely important monster pot nearing the bubble to a rivered gutshot.

Then the dealer counts out her last bet and realizes it is a few thousand more for me to call. He looks at me, expectantly and I’m like “what?” He says it’s “xxx more,” and I say, “Okay, I never said ‘call.'”

Is this my classiest moment at the poker tables? No. No it is not. I’m not proud of it. But I have to say I was pretty devastated at the moment and having already lost a huge pot in horrible fashion, I wasn’t eager to put chips in the pot I never committed to.

A floor gets called over (the actual TD is on break) and the situation is explained and I am still refusing to pay the last partial bet and some dick at the table pipes in saying I should get a penalty for exposing my hand out of turn and the floor actually listens to him and issues me a one round penalty.

I was so thrown by this decision that I was rendered speechless and didn’t even bother fighting it because I was so mad I wasn’t sure what I would say in the moment. It didn’t even occur to me until later that my opponent also exposed her hand with action still pending. There is no logical way to give me that penalty without also giving her one.

Well, I had about 11k in chips and the big blind was 4k and I had to sit out a full orbit. When I was able to play again, my 11k had turned into less than 4k, which was less than one big blind.

Somehow I managed to spin that up and eventually had as many as 160k in chips.

I played a stud hand extremely poorly and a razz hand quite questionably and those two hands essentially cost me a very deep run.

Instead I busted in 11th for $380. Crumbs. But it is my first cash of the summer.

My friends and I went to The Saw Escape Room last night and it was a blast, but a little overpriced since I requested a private tour. We sucked though, getting through less than half of the rooms in time, although two rooms were basically buzzer beaters we were on the wrong side of. Lots of fun though! Check it out if you are in Vegas and a fan of the films.

Joker and I are about to head to the Rio to play the $1500 8-Game and I feel really good about it. It’s nice to iron the kinks out in a $150 event so I don’t make the same mistakes when the stakes are 10 times bigger.

Leggo.

3:05 PM: Walking towards registration on our way in, I spot Rep Porter a few strides ahead of us and ask if we can borrow his diamond card real quick (to skip the line). He actually stopped and started looking for it! What a guy. I told him I was kidding though.

A little bit of a late start here. Only three players at my table at the moment and one of them is Miami John Cernuto. I’ve actually played with him a decent amount. He’s not really someone I expect to put me in many tough spots.

We are 4-handed now and this tournament plays 6-handed. I’ve scooped a couple smallish o8 pots already.

3:34 PM: New player at my table: Sandeep Vasudevan. I recognized that name from the HORSE tournament and, sure enough, he went deep in that, finishing 6th for a career high score of $33k.

He also has two WSOP Circuit rings, including one last month in pot limit Omaha (the other was a no limit hold’em ring in 2013). So he’s fresh off two of the biggest scores of his life and I imagine his confidence is riding high.

3:48 PM: Scott Blumstein, the latest Main Event champ is seated directly behind me.

3:59 PM: Dang. Guy was getting a back/shoulder massage with his ass crack totally exposed and the masseuse with a direct view the whole time. I wanted to snap a pic but I couldn’t do it discreetly.

4:14 PM: Just got absolutely abused in no limit hold’em. I started with over 8k and I now have a touch over 4k. I think I opened four pots and for 3-bet every single time. I flopped two pair with KJ suited when my opponent flopped the nut flush. He slow played it and check-called flop and turn so I was able to check back on river.

I also defended my blind once and I started to think: I’ve folded some hands and I can think of five I played. We did the math: we played nine hands of no limit hold’em – you’re supposed to play six. Pretty cool, especially since it was such a profitable variant for me.

First hand of Stud high I start with a four flush and brick it. I did pick some chips back up with AA-K and rolled up jacks, but I didn’t get past 5th street either time.

I have a sad 4225.

4:52 PM: Sigh. PLO. Sandeep bluffs off his whole stack the hand previous, so he’s pretty short to start this next one. He opens to 200 at 50/75 blinds. I make it 675 with AKKJ one nut suit and he calls.

Flop 642. I bet pot (1425) and he’s all in for 1625 total. He rolls QQ75.

Board runs out 642A3 and he wins.

Down to 2550. Pretty stoked.

5:08 PM: 2850 on first break.

5:31 PM: Joker had 1000 in chips on break and we set the over/under on number of us surviving to the next break at 0.5.

We both liked the under side.

A few hands of 2-7 left and I will definitely be looking to get all in and double up in no limit hold’em.

5:50 PM: Joker has tripled up. I played zero hands of NL. I am down to 1550.

6:11 PM:

6:16 PM: Busted.

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WSOP $1500 H.O.R.S.E.: Let’s Repeat!

June 6, 2018

Not much time to write before the event starts. Tormund ended up taking 142nd in the Colossus for a smallish cash and I played 15/30 O8 cash at Orleans with The Atom for a bit before running out of steam early and booking a +$18.

Just registered the $1500 HORSE with The Joker. I took 5th in this one last year so hoping this is the event to activate some run good for me.

Pacific Northwesterner Adam Coates is still alive in the $10k O8 event. There are six players left. He’s second in chips. First place is over $400k. Holy. Shit. I can’t even comprehend the level of that sweat. PNW has come up just short twice already but I have a feeling about this one. There’s a mega short stack, but Adam is gonna have to go through superstars Eli Elezra and Paul Volpe to pull this off. Good luck!

The Joker just took this seat to the right of a Poker Hall of Famer… Barbara Enright. Eh. Could be worse. No one else at my table with tournament starting in 4 minutes.

I might post some hands and I’ll definitely post stack updates on breaks but my focus is going to be on… focusing.

Let’s go.

First Break: 6225

My starting table is amazing, so that’s a frustrating start. No strong players and multiple weaklings.

This first break was mostly a battle against my blood sugar. I had to change the batteries in my PDM for my Omnipod, I had to change my pod, and I had to change my Dexcom sensor.

Then I ate.

For some reason I forgot how to properly change my batteries so my whole PDM resets and doesn’t do bolus calculations for like three hours. And often, when I change my pod my first few boluses seem to have little affect.

So when it was time to configure my sensor with my current blood sugar, I was over 400. It wouldn’t even calibrate.

My last check was 478, but my check before that was 477 so it seems to finally be leveling out and hopefully going down from there.

Needless to say, I haven’t been in my comfort zone.

The Atom has over 16k at first break. Joker is at 5800.

2:26 PM: The biggest punter at my table is felted and I have less chips than I started with. No justice.

2:49 PM: I just brought it in with a 5 up in Razz. Pretty cool.

From The Joker, in regards to Barbara Enright, Poker Hall of Famer:

Lhe Ep raise Barbara defends. Flop q64ss she donks. He flats. Turn 3c she bets again and calls the raise. River 7c she check calls he has AQ she rolls 37hh 🤣

Just a pure torch from a “legend” of the game. A prime example of why you shouldn’t worry about name players until you actually see how they play.

3:43 PM: Just met Chris “DeathDonkey” Vitch and he told me he reads my blog which kind of blew my mind although it probably shouldn’t – we both post semi-regularly in the Limit Hold’em forums on Two Plus Two.

13,675 after four levels.

Adam Coats still alive with four left in the $10k O8. I tried to snap a pic but the quality was garbage.

6:17 PM: Adam doing work:

There are still four players remaining. They have really been battling it out.

I’m sitting on 19.8k on dinner break, which should be well above average. The worst players at my table have busted but it’s still pretty good.

My most notable hands:

Before the first break, I played a weird stud hand where I opened with K8-T because there were three jacks up behind me and nothing else to worry about.

The first jack up calls me and we both brick on 4th street and he calls again.

I make a pair of kings on 5th and I’m jolted into shock when my opponent raises with his board showing xx-J67 rainbow with two jacks dead. So bewildering. He doesn’t have jacks and if he called with a draw, it hasn’t developed. So he’s saying he has 76-J67 or… 77-J67? Bizarre he would call with either of those hands with two jacks dead. I guess 98-J76 makes some sense.

Either way, never folding here. I call and make open kings on 6th and it’s probably optimistic to think I can check-raise this card, but that’s what I try to do and it checks through.

I don’t fill up on 7th, but I do bet for value and get paid off. My hand is good.

Dang. I had another good hand but I’ve been sitting here for 20+ minutes trying to jog my memory and it hasn’t happened yet… so PUBLISH.

8:00 PM: Adam just busted the $10k O8 in 3rd place for $181k. What a sick run. The PNW continues to represent!

9:11 PM: Sitting on over 40k coming back to 300/600 blinds.

One fun hand: I open with split aces in Stud high and only the bring-in calls.

I catch an offsuit six and he catches paint and he calls my bet.

On 5th I catch an offsuit three and he catches a king and I decide that if I was on a steal here I would give up, so I go ahead and check-raise. He calls.

He calls on 6th and 7th also and I end up making aces and nines to win a big one.

Tormund is making a deep run in the $250 Deep Stack and is currently in the money with a pretty decent stack.

The Atom and The Joker are out of the HORSE event.

Two more levels tonight and I’m in great shape to advance.

9:42 PM: Registration is closed with 731 entrants. 328 are left and 110 cash. $202k up top.

And Phil Ivey just entered right before this level started.

11:21 PM: Well, I made it to Day 2 for the first time this series, but what a disastrous last two levels. I am bagging 23.3k.

Here are some of the worst hands from these two levels:

I open in o8 and call a 3-bet with AK32 double suited. Flop is Q73 with two of my ace high suit. I check-raise and he calls. Not much that can go wrong here, right?

Turn is a 2. Oh wait. Yeah. That can happen. I decide to keep on betting because I do have two pair and the nut flush draw and that could be a counterfeit card for him also. He calls.

River was a 9 and at this point I don’t know if I’m bluffing or value betting so I check and call when he bets and I have to chop with a naked A4. Ugh.

Stud Hi, there’s a limp, I raise with K9-Q all diamonds and two players call.

I spike a king on 4th and they both call again.

On 5th street I get raised by a board showing three spades. I strongly consider folding but I still have a three flush and a pair, so there are 6th street cards I can continue on and he may not have a flush yet. I call.

I make open kings on 6th and I’m somewhat surprised to see it go check-check.

I brick the river and still check and this time he bets. I call because I’m confused now.

He shows an ace high flush and a pair of aces. He said he had aces on 3rd and a flush draw on 5th and got there on 7th. Kind of a strange line with AA-8, but pretty crafty.

The hand that broke my spirit:

Folds to me in Stud 8 and I’m in a good spot to steal with 8J-8. Only the bring-in defends.

I catch a 4 and he catches a queen and calls my bet.

On 5th street I catch a queen and he catches a jack and decides to lead out. I think he thinks I’m going low and I’m quite confident I have the best hand – especially since I have a queen and a jack and it would be weird for him to defend with either of those cards in the hole. I raise. I expect him to fold here. He doesn’t.

On 6th I catch a blank and he makes open sixes and bets out. I’m so perplexed I end up calling him down even though I don’t improve and he does have three sixes.

Holy shit. I can’t really wrap my mind around this hand. I get his thinking on 5th but seems like it should be a fold when I’m blocking multiple outs. I dunno… but it stung.

Finally, there’s a button open in o8 and I 3-bet AJT2 double suited. He calls.

Flop is A98 with two spades. Not great. Not terrible. I bet and he raises. Now it’s really not great. My low draw is already counterfeit and I do have a straight draw but only three of my outs are scoopers. I do have a flush draw but it’s only ten high and the ace on the flop is the non-spade so he has the nut flush here a lot. I call because it seems like the right thing to do.

Turn is a 5 and I check-call again. Maybe another small card gets me half also?

River is a ten and I’m pretty happy when it goes check-check and he turns his hand over and I don’t see a low. Looks like a scoop for me! Uh, nope. He has AQJx with a busted nut flush draw… but his QJ is the mortal nut for high and he doesn’t even know he has it. I get scooped.

So yeah, pretty brutal last couple levels.

We restart at noon tomorrow with blinds at 500/1000 so not the end of the world but not what I was thinking would happen when I was sitting on 50k three hours ago.

I played a decent amount with Andrey Zaichenko ($3 million in lifetime cashes) and… what a piece of work. I didn’t know who he was until I saw him write his name on his bag, but he was messing around on his iPad the whole time, not paying attention to anything, constantly being asked to ante, putting his antes right in front of him so the dealers couldn’t reach it, and not folding his upcards. I thought he was a dick before I knew who he was and I still think he’s a dick.

Tormund is making a really deep run in the $250 Daily Deep Stack. There are 40 players left out of 1050 and $36k for first place. I’m grabbing some food with The Atom and going to sweat him a bit but I’m not looking to stay here much later.

Restart at noon!

1:25 AM: Tormund still in with 14 left. They are flying out of this thing. Looks like I’m gonna see it through.

1:46 AM: Tormund heading to the final table, let’s go!

2:40 AM: Tormund busts in 8th when he reshoves AK vs AQ and the blind wakes up with TT and holds to bust them both.

Sleep time.

DAY TWO

11:59AM: Only player whose name I know at my starting table is Tony Ma and most of his success was over 15 years ago. I am slightly below average and somehow have the most chips at my table. Pretty crazy coincidence. Still lots of play for these games though. 205 remain. 95 spots until the money.

Leggo.

12:06 PM: Rep Porter, Kate Hoang, Tommy Hang, Ian Johns, Scott Clements are some of the players still in with Washington roots.

12:15 PM: Early scoop! I make a flush in a 3-way Stud 8 pot with Tony Ma showing xx-26A7 on his board and somehow pays me off without a low.

39k

12:24 PM: Yikes. Running good. I open QQ under the gun, next player calls and big blind defends.

Flop AJ8, big blind donks, I peel, cold caller raises, and we both call. My plan is to fold unimproved.

Turn is a ten, the second best card in the deck for me as it gives me eight additional outs. I check-call and we are heads up.

River is a beautiful 9. I lead and my opponent reluctantly calls with AJ.

I c-bet a set of 9s in a 3-bet pot after that and got a fold.

51.1k

12:35 PM: Ugh. Scooped with AQJ3 by A552 on a Q98(rainbow)75 runout. He called turn for over half his stack and catches his only scoop card. What. Just brutal.

41.1k

12:50 PM: Phil Hellmuth is two tables behind me and I just heard someone there call him an “idiot player.”

Sigh. Someone just 3-bet me all in in Razz with 62-6 and gets a triple up. Why?

36.5k

What a volatile start.

1:18 PM: Start with a three flush in Stud Hi and get 3-bet by an ace up. I immediately improve to a four flush but this guy’s board on 5th is xx-AAA. Come on.

33.7k

1:31 PM: Ughggggg. Just got scooped in a massive 4-way pot in Stud 8 when I have 32-45 on 4th and only one ace dead. Got back-to-back bricks and had to pay three big bets to see 7th. So sick.

18k

1:47 PM: 10 bigs starting the flop games. Need a lot of love here. 40 spots off the money atm.

2:04 PM: What an absolutely painful start. The thrill of immediately chipping up to 50k only to have it disappear just as fast.

That Stud 8 pot is going to be one I remember forever. If I can find an ace or six I scoop that monster and I’d be sitting with like 70k right now. I have some thoughts about 7th street on that one I might extrapolate on later. I think there’s some chance I can win half of that pot.

Anyways, I’m sitting on 11k at the first break and I’ll be coming back to a big blind of 1500 with like six hands of o8 left.

We are still about 40 spots off the money and it’s definitely looking grim but I’m not dead yet!

2:31 PM: Heading to the ante games with two big bets. GL all in!

2:54 PM: Super cold in Razz (although I did get the 88-8 one time) and I’m all the way down to 4400 after antes and a 6 up opens so I raise my first playable hand and we get it all in. I start with 26-7 and he has A3-6.

Fortunately his final board is A3-6QQ8-J.

Unfortunately my final board is 26-7K5K-2.

There are roughly 130 players left when I bust – 20 spots off the money – and for the second time in three years I turn a 50k+ stack on Day 2 of HORSE into a non-cash.

My frustration level right now is so high I was in an Uber back to my timeshare before I even considered what I wanted to do next.

I’m going to cool off and possibly nap for a few hours and go from there. I probably won’t play again today as I have some stuff to catch up on anyway. I’ll put in a power cash session somewhere tomorrow and my next event will be the WSOP $1500 8-Game Mix on Saturday.

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2017 WSOP Trip Report – Part Two (the good stuff)

July 5, 2017

This is the second part of my 2017 World Series Of Poker trip report. In Part One I talked about the six non-WSOP events I played and the few cash game sessions I put in. This post will be all about the 2017 WSOP.

Those of you that are friends with me on Facebook know that I like to post sweat threads for most of the bigger events that I play in and I post a decent amount of critical hands on there. Not only does it make it more fun for anyone following, but it also gives me a great reference point for when I type up these blog posts. However, there are times when I’m not posting because I really need to focus so I’ll do my best to recall what I can.

My first WSOP event of the year was the $1500 Omaha 8 or Better, which was the only event I played in the 2016 WSOP that I didn’t go deep in. I’m looking at my sweat thread right now and I actually didn’t post a single hand in it and I honestly can’t think of any specific hands that really stand out. Starting stacks were 7500 and it looks like I peaked on Day One at around 18K at the end of the 200/400 level. There was a key blind versus blind hand at the start of the 250/500 level where I lost a bundle. My comment on Facebook says: “flopped the world and then counterfeit, counterfeit to get scooped.” If I remember correctly, I had an A23X hand where I went three bets with the small blind preflop and then I flopped the nut flush draw with three nut low draws and I paired on the turn and river, to give me two pair and a live card low, while my opponent made a wheel. I continued to lose chips, getting as low as 4300 before finding a double up just before the end of Day 1. I bagged 10,100 with blinds starting at 600/1200 on Day 2, putting me at 220th of 254 remaining, and only 136 players cashing – happy to still be alive, but not looking like a favorite to cash.

I did get to play with Jason Mercier for the first time on Day 1, but it was for a very short time. However, it was still notable, because he was sitting on my left and the player to his left was playing 30/60 limit hold em on Ignition while playing in this tournament and Jason keep peeking over at his iPad and making comments about the action. After watching this happen for quite some time, I finally said: “I wonder if anyone on that table would believe you if you said you were colluding with Jason Mercier right now.” Obviously, not a serious accusation on my part.

I led off Day 2 by getting scooped in my first confrontation, which left me with 4.5 big blinds, but I tripled up on my all in and an hour into Day 2 I had 32,000 in chips and over 15 big blinds. This gave me a relatively comfortable stack that I nursed over the next couple hours, but by the time the money bubble approached, I was back in the danger zone, with 4.5 bigs on the stone bubble. Daniel Weinman bet me $20 that I couldn’t remember the names of everyone at our table after the bubble burst, so when we all made the money, I happily collected from him also. I did triple up again, but my run finally came to an end when I called a raise with Ad4dQ3, saw the Qd5d3 flop, and eventually got all in on the turn, which was a 7. Obviously that was a very good flop for my hand, as it is really difficult to scoop me while I should have plenty of scooping potential. However, my opponent had a pretty miraculous A277, and a brick river gave him the knockout and I had to settle for 105th place and $2315.

Next up in the WSOP for me was the $565 No Limit Hold Em Colossus. Just like in 2016, I waited until the last flight to play this event. You only start with 5000 in chips, so it tends to play pretty fast. If you lose with a big hand early, you are likely to be out or crippled – there just isn’t much room for error or big folds. The first notable pot I played, I open with 33 from late position to 150 at the 25/50 level and only one of the blinds defends. The flop is AA3, with two diamonds, and she check-calls a bet of 150. The turn is a 9d and she check-calls 400. River is a 6 and she checks to me again. On the turn, I had determined that she was pretty strong, likely holding an ace or a flush, so I decided to go for full value by jamming 3600 into a 1500 pot. I guess it was a bad move because she tanked for a long time and finally folded 75dd face up. The early stages of this tournament are filled with recreational players so I just don’t expect people to fold hands that strong very often at all. On the other side of the coin, a lot of those recreational players might have taken time off work and flown down to Vegas just to play the Colossus and probably don’t want to bust during the first level… so maybe I misread the situation. Either way, a pretty sick fold that felt like a big missed opportunity for me – she’s probably calling 1000 100% of the time.

After four levels, I had built my starting stack up to 13.5K and I had it up to 18K during level five before losing with AA to J7 (!) and falling back down to 12.5K. By the 500/1000/100 level with the money bubble in sight, I was sitting on a 27K stack and playing poker with Cate Hall for the first time. I won’t go as far as to call Cate unlikable, but in this sample size of one encounter, she’s been one of the least friendly famous pros I’ve played with. She stared daggers at her opponents, had big headphones on, and I don’t think she said a word to anyone, except to ask for a chip count. In fact, I three bet jammed on her once with AK suited and had my chips in perfect stacks of 20 and totally visible, as easy to count as possible, and she still asked me how much I started the hand with. I had to resist the urge to burst out laughing at how comical that was. I’m not saying that everyone that has had success and becomes recognizable has to be an ambassador for the game and always be approachable and friendly, but I do think it’s a better table presence than being stone-faced and quiet all day. Shrug.

We reached hand-for-hand play around 11:30 PM, needing to lose one or two players to make the money. At this point, there were roughly 55 tables running, so each table had to deal one hand and then stand up and wait for all the other tables to finish. With that many tables, it seems like the bubble would burst on the first hand most of the time. I’m not sure how many hands were actually dealt because there was a lot of sitting around and waiting going on, but amazingly, no one busted for 45 minutes. Considering the circumstances, it was the sickest bubble I’ve ever seen. Shortly after the bubble burst, I jammed about 12 bigs from the button with QJ and it folded to Cate in the big blind, who tanked for a while before finding the call with A4 and doubling up through me. I got my remaining five bigs in shortly after and lost that confrontation, busting in 309th place and cashing the Colossus for the second straight year.

Next up was the $1500 H.O.R.S.E., an event that I really felt like I had something to prove in. I made it to Day 2 of it last year with over 50K in chips and managed not to cash after running a five street bluff and whiffing 20+ outs against a pair of 7s that called every street. Ultimately, I busted seven spots away from the money. In my initial post of my sweat thread on Facebook, I had this to say: “Not all tournaments are created equal: I want this one more than the others.” I had a really good starting table in this event, with zero notable players, three different players I had history with and none of them were strong. I felt like it was a pretty fortunate situation, especially when I glanced at the table behind me and saw at least four bracelet winners sitting together: Greg Raymer (1), Anthony Zinno (1), Vanessa Selbst (3) and Ian Johns (3). LOL! I chipped up steadily over the first four levels, with a stack of 11K at the first break and 17k by the second break. Unfortunately, tables were breaking the wrong way and my easy table broke and I got placed with 2015 WSOP Player Of The Year Mike Gorodinsky and another elite pro in Connor Drinan. I had just under 20k at the dinner break and I was mostly flat for the last five levels of the night before going on a little rush before the end of the day and bagging 30,800.

Day 2 started with 175 players and 111 of us would cash. I started Day 2 with 60% of the chips I started it with last year and I got a good taste of how bad I punted when I cruised to the money with ease this year. I’m not suggesting I played that big pot poorly and I would probably take the same line again, but it’s pretty clear that pot was the reason I didn’t cash last year. I was a little below average when the money bubble burst, but I had 62K after scooping a well known pro in a hand I thought was a little weird. I defended my big blind heads up with Q532 and check-called a bet on an A65 flop. I turned a Q and decided to lead out and my opponent called. The river was another A and since I expected my opponent to have one most of the time when he opened-raised from middle position, I checked and planned to call, hoping to get half. He did bet and I was pretty shocked when he turned over a naked 43 low and I got the scoop. I lost a big pot in limit hold em when the button opened and I three bet KK from the small blind and Don Zewin four bet from the big blind. The three of us saw an Ace high flop and, having no history with Zewin, I just check-called it down and he showed me TT, which turned a set. Having played with Zewin now and watching him play on the live stream of a later final table, I would have at least folded the river because he’s actually a pretty huge nit.

I ended up busting Mike Gorodinksy in this tournament, which is pretty notable because I had seen him go all in around 15 times (no exaggeration) and stay alive already. In fact, I had already joked with him that I was going to get all in for the first time of the whole tournament and end up busting before him. Alas, we got it in preflop when I had AJ92 and he had AT53 and I was in terrible shape after the flop came T62, but the board ran out a miraculous J-6 and I finally got rid of the toughest opponent at my table. I had 60k after that hand and then I played a huge Razz pot that really got my adrenaline pumping. The player on my left was playing super aggressive and seemed to have no method to his madness – just pure unrestrained aggression. I completed on third street and the player to my left reraised and we were heads up. I wasn’t planning to make a lot of folds against this player but he caught perfect on 4th, 5th, and 6th, while I caught bad, but not terrible cards. On the end I had a 9 low and he had a 456 showing on 5th street! Obviously, any number of those cards could have paired him and this player was very likely to run a big bluff, so after being in the tank for several minutes on 7th, I finally looked directly at him and said “I can only beat a bluff” and as soon as I said that he gulped. I actually laughed out loud after seeing that because the timing was so perfect I had to wonder if it was intentional, but at that point folding was out of the question and I put the call in and won a massive pot that put me just under 100K as we headed to dinner break with 47 left.

After dinner, the heater was officially on. I had 268k by the next break. We had a redraw at 27 left and there was nothing but wizards at my table… and then the last seat was filled by Wayne LaMonica. The first hand we played was Razz and LaMonica was first to act after the bring in and, at a table full of world beaters acting behind him, he completed from first position with the worst up card (a 10)! Naturally, moments later, someone busted at another table and LaMonica was moved to balance and the reactions from my table were hysterical. Basically everyone made some sort of audible groan while Max Pescatori actually asked the TD “are you sure that’s right” and A.J. Kelsall to my right mumbled “this can’t be real.” I ended up bagging 243k which put me in the top half of the remaining 18 players advancing to Day 3.

On Day 3, I went into hyper focus mode and didn’t post any updates at all on Facebook, but I can recall a couple of key pots I played leading up to the final table. The first one was against Esther Taylor when I defended a JJ97 against her open. I check-called the T82 flop and then check-called when the 2 paired on the turn. I don’t think she has a full house very often and I expected to scoop with a Q, J, or 9 river. The river was a perfect J and I lead out. I don’t know how great my river lead is since I expect her to bet all her A2 hands, especially the ones that are full, but I hate missing value on the river by trying to check-raise, especially when accumulating chips is so important, as it is in tournaments. Another key pot was against Max Pescatori. I can’t remember if I defended my big blind against an UTG open or if we were heads up in the blinds, but I do know I had a disguised AJ2X holding and I rivered a jack high flush on a double paired board and bet for value and got paid off.

By the time the final table was set, I was second in chips with 720k and only LaManiac (sorry, too easy) had more than I did. I had now cashed 6 of my last 8 WSOP events and was making my second final table appearance in 12 lifetime tournaments. Not bad! And it was particularly satisfying to final table the H.O.R.S.E., as it’s more of a testament to being an all around good player.

The final table was absolutely loaded: Max Pescatori is a four-time bracelet winner; David “Bakes” Baker and Brandon Shack-Harris are both multiple bracelet winners; David Singer won his second bracelet in this event; E-Tay is well-known high stakes cash game regular with over $800K in lifetime tournament winnings; and Kyle Loman and A.J. Kelsall appear to known quantities with rising status. I’d say that Kevin LaMonica and myself were the only total unknowns at the final table.

LaMonica was playing very crazy at the final table, doing things like straddling in limit hold em and completing dark first to act in the stud games, regardless of what his up card was. My wife made a comment on Facebook during this stage of the tournament saying that “one player is dumping chips to everybody but Mac (me).” Indeed, he had doubled up multiple short stacks in very precarious spots, but I did appreciate the fact that all of my formidable opponents were always at risk any time they entered a pot. However, it is safe to say that David Singer probably wouldn’t have won a bracelet in this event without a strong assist from LaMonica. I felt pretty unfortunate that I never really benefited from having such a loose, reckless player at the table.

Brandon Shack-Harris and E-Tay got their small stacks in a couple of times with safe results before eventually busting in 9th and 8th places, respectively.

With 7 players left, I found myself holding a four flush on 4th street in Stud high against Max who had an obvious pair of kings. I raised Max on 4th, planning to go with this hand and Wayne LaMonica came along also, and Max called. LaMonica paired the 10 he caught on 4th and checked to Max who lead out again. I had just under three big bets left and wasn’t planning to fold and I honestly didn’t think I’d lose LaMonica by raising – he’s the last player I’d expect to fold open tens – so I raised it up to get all in, LaMonica did fold (!), and Max put me all in. I didn’t have to sweat long as my next card gave me a flush and I more than doubled up.

Kyle Loman and “Bakes” busted in 7th and 6th shortly after and I headed to dinner break with 826K, which put me in third of the remaining five players. Max and A.J. were both coming back to less than 12 big blinds, so I really liked my chances of finishing in at least 3rd.

Unfortunately, I doubled Max up almost immediately after the dinner break when I opened with 76-3 two spades in Stud 8 and he defended with a 3 up. On 4th street, he caught a 4 and I caught the king of spades, which was a bad, but not terrible card. He’s never folding on 4th, so betting my hand doesn’t make any sense, so I checked it over and he bet. I’m no Stud 8 expert, so I really don’t know if folding or calling is correct here. It just seems like there are too many good 5th street cards for me to give up, so I made the call. Obviously I would fold if I bricked 5th, but I caught a ten of spades. Even though Max caught a 6 and could be freerolling me at that point, I had to make the call as Max was all in. Max had two pair and a three low at that point, so I was actually in a pretty decent spot to bust him; he bricked on 6th and I caught an Ace for some split potential but the 9d on 7th totally bricked me and Max got a full double.

I ended up opening another Stud 8 hand that I had to fold on 3rd (correctly) after the action got too hot behind me and finally I opened the 88-5, LaMonica called, and David Singer reraised from the bring in, I called and Lamonica folded (weird). Singer caught a 7 on 4th and I caught the 9 of clubs, giving me a three flush. I checked and Singer bet… It seemed like I had the best hand for high and I only had about 1.5 small bets left so I just went with it. Unfortunately, Singer had buried aces and I was in bad shape. I caught running deuces on 5th and 6th to take the lead, as Singer caught low and a brick, but he made two pair on 7th, and I would need to fill up to stay alive. I didn’t and I busted in 5th for around $45,000.

Obviously this was an amazing finish for me. It was my biggest tournament cash ever and my second final table in my last eight WSOP events. I’m really proud of myself, but in retrospect, I wish I would have played tighter in Stud 8. Fact of the matter is, I felt lost in a lot of the pots I played and the pay jumps were immense. Max Pescatori ended up busting less than ten minutes after I did and he made an extra $18,000 – that’s pretty huge. I would have felt a lot better losing my stack in Hold Em or Omaha because I would know I was making the right plays. In Stud 8, I’m not sure if I made mistakes or if I just got unlucky. Either way, it’s a clear area to focus on leading up to next year’s Series.

I got to play with a lot of notable pros in this event and all the people I final tabled with in this event were class acts with good senses of humor. Wayne LaMonica was an amazing presence and a game-changer at the table. Some of what I have said here may seem disparaging, but he took on a table full of players that were undoubtedly all better than him and played with absolutely no fear. He ended up going heads up with David Singer for the bracelet and had Singer almost all the way to the felt before Singer made an epic comeback to capture his second bracelet. Esther Taylor, Kyle Loman, and Max Pescatori were all really cool and E-Tay actually invited Dina and I to hang out, but we were unable to ever make it happen, which is pretty damn disappointing, as mingling with the elite players of poker is definitely something I’m interested in doing. I also got approached by Daniel Negreanu during one of the breaks in this event and we actually had a real conversation about the difficulties of balancing a relationship during the WSOP. I have to say it was pretty wild being treated as a peer by arguably the most famous poker player in the world.

My next WSOP event was the $1500 8-Game. I have to admit a hit a wall during this event. I had played 41 hours of H.O.R.S.E. over the previous four days and by about the sixth level of this tournament I could feel the exhaustion overpowering me. I felt like I got a pretty good starting table in this event, but I wasn’t really able to take advantage of the situation. I had a really loose player on my direct left that basically played every pot and played hyper aggressive. He was playing totally reckless and putting bad beats on everyone. I only beat him in one pot, when I flopped a set of sixes in limit Hold Em and he gave me max action. The rest of the time, I just lost every single pot to him, while he sprayed my chips around the table to everyone else.

I was down to 4k in the fourth level when I flatted a raise in no limit Hold Em with AJ of diamonds. I got my stack in after a flop of J64 in which my opponent flopped the nut flush draw with AK of clubs. He missed and I scored a full double up. I had a little over 12k after four levels and I didn’t really gain any momentum either way over the next four hours, but managed to peak at 16.5k heading into the last two levels of play for the night. At this point there were 160 or so players left and 70 of us would cash, but I was sitting on a below average stack.

As a limit specialist, it’s in my best interest to avoid big clashes in the big bet games (no limit Hold Em and pot limit Omaha) but I found myself in exactly that kind of spot when it folded to me on the button in PLO and I had the AJ97 double suited. This is a standard open, but my problem was that I knew the guy on my left was going to three bet pretty much every time – it’s what he’d been doing all day long no matter what game we were playing. So if I opened this hand, I knew that he was going to pot it and at that point he’d have half his stack in and we were going to have to play for the whole thing because there was no way I’m ever folding. And that’s what happened. He had AK53 and we both made club flushes, but his was the nuts and I went from having a decent stack to having a short stack. I didn’t find any good spots in the ante games to get all in, but I picked up pocket tens in no limit Hold Em and got my last ten bigs in, but David “ODB” Baker called me from the big blind with A8 and I couldn’t beat it at showdown. So I busted in 132nd at 1:15 AM after 10 hours of play and felt like I’d never been that tired in my life. I had been grinding mix game tournaments 10 hours a day for five straight days and my brain was ready for a break!

I ended up taking the next day off, but the following day I was playing what would be my last event of the 2017 World Series of Poker: the $1500 Limit Hold Em. No doubt about it, limit Hold Em is my strongest game and I suspect that I have more recent experience in this variant than 95% of the field. I got off to a rough start, dipping down to 5500 quickly, but I had an epic third level and emerged as the early chip lead of the tournament. In level three alone, I flopped three sets AND quads once and made it to showdown in every single hand. I also had an incredibly sick hand that I didn’t win. I had AK in a 5-way pot that was capped preflop where I got a QTxJT run out versus JJ. By the end of the level I had just over 19k despite losing that 8500 pot!

I was up to 24.5k after six levels and was getting to play with Barry Greenstein for the first time. I had gone through a dry spell and had only shown down one hand since Barry sat down (pocket aces), so I was pretty surprised when he called my UTG raise next to act at a 9-handed table and ended up showing me A5 of clubs to beat my AQ. That’s like a 0% play in my game, especially at a tight table, so it really makes you wonder. Barry was super cool though – funny and very friendly. Our table was pretty tough, so I appreciated it when it was breaking and he looked at me and said “pretty much any table out there has to be better than this one.”

My first significant pot at my new table is one of the most interesting LHE hand I’ve ever played. I got a free look with 98 from the big blind after four players limped and the small blind completed. The flop was T63 rainbow and one of the limpers bet, followed by calls from two more limpers, the small blind, and myself. The turn card was a J of spades, putting two spades on board. This time it checked around to the button and he fired in a bet. The small blind folded and I decided that the button’s range was too wide not to exploit. It’s unlikely he flopped top pair or better after flatting on the flop and it’s hard to imagine what hands he calls the flop with that have a jack in it, so I raised and the rest of the field folded. He called and the river was an ace. I continued my story and fired another bluff and he went into the tank for many minutes. In fact, I’ve never seen someone think so long in a limit format. And then he called… with Q9 of spades. Yes. Queen high. So sick! It seemed pretty genius until he said he put me on the 54 of spades, which makes it sound like he called because he thought of one hand he could beat. I peaked around 30k, but wound up bagging 14.4k after my 99 got beat in a big pot by AT. That put me 106th of 132 remaining players heading to Day 2 with 93 of us cashing. Maybe I’ll bag a big stack one of these days and not have to sweat the bubble? Not this year!

I started Day 2 off ice cold. In the first 75 minutes I only played two pots both of which I defended a raise from my big blind. I did score a double up when I got a T64QT run out with QT versus AQ, but that just got me back to where I started the day. Finally after over an hour of folding everything, someone in front of me raised and I played to get it in with AQ. He had AK, but I flopped top two pair and scored the double up. By the end of the first break, nearing the money bubble, I had built my stack up to a respectable 47.8K.

That was good enough to get my fourth WSOP cash of the summer, but I went right back into ice cold mode. By the time we had played four hour long levels, I had only entered a pot outside of the blinds five times – that’s just over one hand an hour! I dwindled all the way back down to 15k before doubling up with the K9 versus 77 and getting back up to 46k and immediately lost with AK to JJ and fell right back down to 15k.

I finally found some momentum by tripling up and then peaking at 70k after I opened with AQ and rivered Broadway against Alex Luneau. The rush I’d been waiting all day for was immediately extinguished, however, when the button tried to steal the blinds with 87o and I woke up with AA and lost a number of bets to his flopped two pair. I did end up busting Luneau to chip up a little bit one last time, but the same player that cracked my aces opened from middle position with A7o and I played to get it in with 88 and he made trips to bust me in 45th place for $3500.

I suppose I was happy to make a deep run despite having very little to work with on Day 2 and I should have busted with that AQ versus AK most of the time, so it’s hard to complain, but losing with those aces after being so card dead all day when I had finally caught some real momentum stung. If I had won that pot, I would have been a top 15 stack with less than 50 players left and had a real chance at making another final table run. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and the guy that crippled and then busted me went on to a 4th place finish.

So that was my 2017 World Series of Poker. After this event, I was in 27th place on WSOP Player of the Year leaderboard, which kind of blew my mind. I really wonder what I could have accomplished if I kept plugging along, but I busted my last event on the 13th and I didn’t fly out of Vegas until the 21st and in between I just played the downtown tournaments I talked about in Part One.

I can’t help but feel like this was another wasted opportunity and a little bit of poor planning on my part. My wife made a deal with me that I could stay for the whole Series if I made a final table – and then I did that. But what I should have done is flown home after busting the Limit Hold Em event, take a week off to relax and study, and then flown back in time for the $1500 NLHE Monster Stack and a number of tournaments I was interested in to follow. But instead, I burned myself out in the downtown events and I was ready to come home and any chance I had of being relevant in the Player of the Year race evaporated.

Still, it was another great Series for me, as I cashed for the seventh time in my last ten WSOP events and made a final table for the second consecutive year in what has been a pretty limited schedule. Next year – barring the addition of a newborn or the latest stages of a pregnancy – I will be staying for the whole Series and playing my biggest schedule yet, possibly including my first Main Event. I’m planning to drive myself down and I might fly back if there is a big gap in between events I want to play, but otherwise I will be in Vegas all six weeks. I owe it to myself to really see what I can do over a full schedule and I think that I have proven that I am capable of playing for bracelets, so that’s my new goal: I want to win a bracelet.

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2017 WSOP Trip Report – Part One (the not so good stuff)

June 28, 2017

With each passing year, I get better at doing the World Series of Poker. This goes beyond results – I’m talking about how to live in Las Vegas for weeks at a time. This year I felt I got a little bit closer to having the process mastered. I had a friend that let me stay in his time share for about ten nights for $20/night and then some friends from my high school days in Bremerton let me stay with them in their Vegas home (closer to Summerlin) for the rest of the trip for $20/night. Those prices would be 60% of just the resort fee at a strip casino! I also rented a car for about $23 a day and that proved to be about equal in cost and much more convenient than relying on shuttles and Uber to get around. Next year, I’m going to be even thriftier and just drive myself to Vegas and save on flight and car rental expenses. Finally, food is still expensive, but I did go shopping at Costco and bought some bulk necessities and I also bought a meal plan at All American Dave’s (a food truck outside the Rio). While AAD’s meals lack variety and are probably a bit overrated, you really can’t beat the convenience of ordering on Twitter and having someone deliver food directly to your seat at the poker table.

I flew to Vegas on May 30th and I flew back on June 21st and in the 3+ weeks I was there I played basically no cash games. In fact, I put in three total plays and none of them were serious sessions. I did put in an 11.5 hour marathon $4/$8 LHE play at Red Rock Casino, but I considered that a day off from the tournament grind while playing some recreational poker with my wife. I also put in a 1.5 hour $4/$8 play at Red Rock, while my hosts were playing slot machines after watching a movie at the casino. Finally, I had a successful (+$335), albeit very short (3.5 hours), $8/$16 Omaha 8 session at the Orleans. This is notable because the filterable data on my phone goes back to August of 2014 and $8/$16 Omaha 8 has been my absolute worst game (by a long shot) and the Orleans has been my absolute worst location (for cash games… I did win their weekly H.O.R.S.E. tournament a few years ago). Needless to say, cash games were not my focus on this trip. When I wasn’t playing a tournament, or I busted early, I just took time off to study or relax.

I played 11 total tournaments during my 2017 WSOP trip.

I’ll start with the six non-WSOP tournaments I played in since they were mostly uneventful. I busted $400 and $600 Omaha 8 tournaments at Venetian, both of which I went relatively deep in and didn’t cash. I busted 12 spots off the money in a $465 H.O.R.S.E. at Aria, another deep run but one in which I never had any real momentum. I went to defend my title in the $250 8-Game Mix at Golden Nugget and I did not bring my A-game that day. I was up and down in this one, but I felt like I wasn’t playing very good most of the day. My focus and patience just weren’t there. Still, the experience was notable because I had this kid named Michael Trivett at my table and you can read about my history with him here by scrolling down to this same event from last year. I saw plenty of evidence that suggested he hasn’t grown up much in the past year, but I also saw a side of him that suggests he isn’t a total dirtbag either. He had some friendly moments, so I don’t want to paint him as this constantly terrible presence at the poker table. Still, I can’t help but share an amazing exchange we had after a Razz hand we played. On 5th street I have 23-47A and his board is 92A and he raises my bet; I reraise and bet all the way after improving to a 6432A on 6th and win the pot, but then this magic happens:

Michael: I was a favorite when I raised (on 5th).
Me: Uh, I had a made 7.
Michael: I was drawing to a wheel.
Me: *speechless*
Michael: Check the math.

For those of you that don’t follow, not only do I have the best hand on 5th street, but I also have the same draw (to a wheel). I have now played with Michael Trivett twice and both times he has produced a classic moment attempting to berate me. I look forward to more encounters in the future!

I followed that 8-Game bust out with another O8 event at Golden Nugget and this time I got a min-cash by finishing in 16th, but it was really disappointing because I had double the average stack at dinner break and then came back and got scooped like four times in a row. I had basically no chips on the bubble though, so sneaking into the money felt kind of fortunate.

Finally, I played the $585 H.O.R.S.E. Championship at Binions and it was honestly kind of an embarrassing and humbling experience. First off, only 36 people entered. This wasn’t a bad thing since they had a $50K guaranteed prize pool and even with another Day One the next day, it didn’t seem likely they’d get enough entrants to meet the guarantee – so, a nice overlay. Secondly, the levels were long and the stacks were super deep. Thirdly, the field was incredibly weak – I knew I was the strongest player in room. I really felt like with the stacks that deep and the levels that long, I could overcome a lot of the variance and win that tournament way more often than my fair share. But I never had more than my starting stack and, despite the very forgiving amount of play, it was my second quickest exit of the summer. I thought I was going to print money and instead I couldn’t win a hand all day and I left frustrated and in disbelief. I don’t think my assessment of my skill level versus the field was incorrect, but it was still a good lesson in humility and I can admit that I didn’t make very good adjustments to exploit their weaknesses. I was kind of already feeling like I wanted to go home, but my performance in this event sealed the deal. I booked a flight home for the next day.

I was going to write one WSOP trip report, but in the interest of keeping my posts shorter (and thus, easier to publish), I will break it up into two parts. I played five WSOP events and I will talk about those tournaments in part 2 of my 2017 WSOP trip report.