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5Aug/12Off

A lack of blogs

from Bond18 . 5 August, 2012 10:26 pm.

I played a couple dozen tournaments around Las Vegas this summer, and every now and then someone on the table would ask me why I never blog anymore. There are a few reasons.

First and foremost, the process of writing and researching a book has transformed me into the most boring man alive. A blog needs material, and when every single day for months can be described as "I woke up, went to exercise, then came home and locked myself in a room with a stack of books and a highlighter and my fairly distracting laptop until I was tired" I should think it becomes redundant. The house was usually vacant beyond myself since last September, as everyone had fled to the greener pastures of Toronto. I was lucky to get out once a week during these periods, usually to play a cash game session at Aria. I haven't had a real night of drinking since New Year's--and I'd argue the cigars were the true culprit in my vomiting into the trash can in front of the casino that evening. Generating the tournament reports is less appealing since it's become my occupation to write and talk poker so often, plus I try to save my interesting hands for the column. In the event I had an especially major result I'd definitely put it into writing, but for now I'm not focused on the reports.

Second, Black Friday created constant problems for both the industry and myself. I had almost everything online with UB and Tilt being my largest accounts, and on top of that had my Titan account hacked and robbed in early April, which was my third largest. I wouldn't say it made me depressed, but it left me in a state of constant slight-infuriation; losing so much while simultaneously discovering just how much of what I grew up around to be a mirage was jarring. The industry went into a tailspin and disaster followed disaster, both for corporations and individuals. Scandals were made public left and right, and as it turns out a disturbing amount of people we've been watching on TV or calling "professionals" over the years have seemingly been engaged in a contest with each other wherein they see who can fuck over the largest amount of people on the grandest scale. I felt like much of what I'd end up writing during that period would have been just adding more superfluous shit to the already present and insolvable pile. And besides, if I want to call someone an asshole in writing it can be accomplished much more publicly and efficiently on Twitter.

Lastly, I didn't actually know anything relevant about the goings-on of Black Friday. Sure I read many of the articles people linked on the forums and social media sites, but I have no real 'insider' information on these kind of things. I'm just another observer, waiting to see what happens next and sweating it pretty hard. Anyone who said anything inaccurate about the subject was quickly vilified and discredited for having given false hope. It was the perfect subject to say absolutely nothing about unless you were very certain of what you were saying.

The Pokerstars purchasing Full Tilt announcement was obviously a game changer. It was the first substantial piece of good news the industry had since Black Friday--except One Drop selling out and revealing there's apparently an infinite supply of rich dudes willing to play for a million if only we can get the money together. A huge number of people are about to get a financial shot in the arm, myself included. It makes it appear as though the United States government is willing to 'work with' the idea of online poker. I'm excited to see how it affects the attitude and turn-outs around the WPT events over the season.

Despite this upturn, I doubt there will be many more blogs through December. I'm spending the next few weeks traveling for both work and personal reasons, and when that finishes in late August I return to Vegas and remain there uninterrupted for four months except for two week-long work trips. I consider my deadline for the first draft of the book to be December 31st. I plan on going back to the hermit lifestyle for that period, so please don't be offended if I decline your social invitation. But I'm really starting to think that right about the time I'm coming out of hibernation, our game just might experience a Spring of it's own.

Categories: Uncategorized .
11Apr/12Off

A guide to the Twitterverse

from Bond18 . 11 April, 2012 9:59 pm.

It took me quite a while to come around to Twitter. When I first heard about it my initial reaction was "Jesus, narcissistic idiots need a medium beyond Facebook to update their friends and family about what they just ate?" However, over time I realized I was the one being an idiot, and that Twitter has tons of practical applications and exciting implications. And it would appear that Twitter is very much here to stay--at least until someone invents an even more immediate and ADD-friendly form of celebrity stalking and highly public self-promotion.

I recently read an article about the top mistakes poker players make on Twitter by the charming Katie Dozier. It inspired me to look up what other methods people suggested for increasing your following and the overall quality of your tweeting. I've used the website regularly for over a year now, and I must confess the whole thing fascinates me. It's become an integral form of self-promotion for those looking to establish a career that demands or benefits from a degree of exposure (applicable for 90% of the people you meet on the West coast) and a launching pad for those that don't have an alternative method for reaching a wide audience. The quantity of your twitter following has become so important for some people that they essentially use it as a way of measuring your 'life score', and near everyone using the service understands that there's potential money to be made if you can reach enough people through it. I won't pretend that I'm a huge expert on the topic or that I have a gigantic following, but after some thought and some research I've come up with a few suggestions to help people establish themselves on the website:

1. Stop tweeting so much: I'm big on tweeting-efficiency. Apparently, many people feel every inane and banal thought they have is so ingenious that the Twitterverse should--no MUST--be made aware of it. I'm here to disagree. In the conversations I've had with people about what they like and dislike about other people's tweets there's often unanimous disdain for those who over-tweet. Nothing so clearly communicates to me that I should unfollow someone than noticing that they have a five-figure amount of tweets that well surpasses their four-figure amount of followers. While I know every tweet can't be highly relevant or comedy gold, I also think it's not that hard to refrain from filling your followers feeds with pointless dribble.

2. Don't respond to everyone: This one goes against pretty much every grow-your-following post or column I've read on the topic but I still stick by it. Accrue enough followers and you'll get people who ask you questions that could be solved by spending two seconds on Google. You'll get people who tweet random, pointless stuff to you that leaves little room for sensible response. You'll get people tweeting hateful insults. You'll get tons of polite, supportive remarks to the degree that I feel responding to each with a quick, thoughtless message borders on disingenuous. One of the better known and successful artists of our time was Andy Warhol. Beyond his accomplishments in art and fashion Warhol was known for throwing wild parties at a large Manhattan apartment where he invited all variety of guests, ranging from Hollywood big-wigs all the way down to random vagrants, illegitimates, and drug dealers he found fascinating. However, despite his raging and eclectic social life, Warhol was also known for hardly speaking. People would chew his ear off while he stood there bordering on mute, and when he finally spoke the scarcity of his words made the recipient of them with feel as though they'd truly won his attention or interest. I'd encourage you to take the same approach with your Twitter responses: make people earn them instead of just handing them out to anyone who gives you a little attention.

3. Pictures, pictures, pictures, especially of hot girls: Seeing as I've never posted a picture on Twitter I'm in pretty clear violation of this rule, but everyone enjoys a good visual, and nothing so consistently draws eyes like the sight of hot girls. If people are fascinated by you and your life they'd almost certainly love the opportunity to see more, so don't deny them that. And anyone over the age of 100 can easily recollect that only days after the initial television broadcast in 1925 an overflow of Girls Gone Wild infomercials began infesting the airwaves. The business model was so successful that nearly a century later every student of marketing understands that nothing sells quite like sex.

4. Stop being such a blatantly desperate follower-slut: Because people are aware that enough followers can be directly converted to exposure, opportunity, and money, the degree in which some attempt to court them--both online and in real life--reaches an agonizing level. I'm of the opinion that you shouldn't have to tell people to follow you on Twitter because if you're actually generating a quality feed then followers will come naturally. Of course it's sensible to link all your other forms of social media into Twitter and make mention of your handle in instances where it's professionally applicable, but I sure as hell don't classify friendly or passing banter as a professionally applicable moment to pull the old "Hey you should follow me on Twitter!" I've become so sick of that particular statement that my pre-loaded response to it is a flat and seriously toned "Well sure, but I trust I'll receive the obligatory handjob with this follow, right?" *Ziiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip*

5. It's about them, not you: I know what you're thinking: "What the fuck dude? Clearly MY twitter feed is about ME". Not if you want followers it's not. Unless you're already famous for something you need to give people a reason to follow you, which means you need to spend time considering what appeals to them. Some will be attempting to appeal to a pretty esoteric audience and if so it's important to structure your tweets around that audience's interests. Others will be hoping to build a broad following, in which case you're better off attempting to make yourself useful to your followers and posting things that have the potential to be highly retweeted. This includes stuff like interesting articles you come across, breaking news stories for your industry, amusing or humorous pictures, the strange and absurd, opinions of other well-known people on Twitter, or hopefully clever remarks you think your audience will appreciate.

6. Don't shy away from conflict: It's not necessarily in everyone's personality to be confrontational or controversial, but people are enthralled by a good conflict and argument and often love to get involved. Twitter allows you the opportunity to call someone out on a global scale, then let it ricochet immediately towards anyone who could conceivably become involved, multiplying the conflict. Eyes inevitably follow. When a fight breaks out, nobody averts their eyes; they freeze where they stand and watch how it plays out, and if they're in high school they swarm around the combatants and chant "Fight! Fight! Fight!"

7. Quit your bitching: I mean fuck, quit your bitching already. It's just not a good look. Poker players: Just got three outed in a tournament? When will it end? The second I unfollow.

8. But there's a caveat to the bitching: Which is the meltdown. Be they originating from a celebrity, professional athlete, or just casual acquaintance everyone loves to witness a truly epic Twitter meltdown from the safe distance of their smart-phone. That shit is hilarious.

9. This whole retweeting business intrigues me: I feel like retweeting takes a little finesse, and it develops over time. But people are polarized on this one. Some do it constantly yet do it well, often showing love to their followers or examples of self aware humor. Others struggle with the retweet button, and develop a certain addiction to it. Suddenly, everything is worth a retweet! And I'm sure nobody will mind their feed clogged with a slew of redundant retweets about my highly esoteric interest! Others still guard the retweet button with their life, handed out as sparsely as Medals of Honor, saving it only for what they deem to be truly brilliant. Yea, I like retweeting stuff sometimes.

Categories: Uncategorized .
14Dec/11Off

Bellagio Doyle Brunson 5 Diamond WPT 2011

from Bond18 . 14 December, 2011 3:59 pm.

Authors note: I haven't been blogging very much lately, but that's not to say I haven't been writing. I've devoted a couple available weeks to the book thus far, and have amassed about 15,000 low quality words in that time. I imagine I'll need around 100, then have to heavily edit it down from there. It's a very enjoyable process for me; I wake up, get some exercise, then distribute the rest of my day between reading, writing, or playing a little poker however I like. Plus football of course, as it is the first time I've had the chance to really follow it every Sunday in about seven years, the sole positive consequence of Black Friday. I have the rest of my recent tournaments recorded and anticipate writing them at some point, but I see no harm in breaking the chronological order of tournament reporting and since this was my first deep run in a long time it seemed best to write it while still fresh. On top of that it was just the kind of experience that's fun to write, as I had to square off with a number of the games top talent and was fortunate not to have anything horrible happen for an entire tournament. It's also worth pointing out that this thing is really fucking long.

The Doyle Brunson Five Diamond series at the Bellagio is the last tournament for the fall half of the WPT season. I had yet to cash an event since my employment by the company, and if nothing happened at this one I would have to wait until mid February to get the opportunity again. I played two preliminary events in the form of $1,100 re-entry tournaments and failed to cash both, one as a result of getting sneaky on the bubble and flatting aces pre then being out-flopped.

The main event began on Tuesday the sixth, and I was very happy to find almost nobody I knew when I arrived at the table. The Bellagio $10k events have often attracted some of the most difficult fields in live poker, and beyond my online commentary co-host Johnathan Little on my immediate right I didn't know anyone else on the table and there were at least three or four players that looked blatantly recreational. One seat remained open to the right of John, and unfortunately about an hour into play it was filled by the talented young David Baker. Still, I had by far the best seat in the house. We began with 40,000 in chips and the blinds at 50-100.

My first difficult situation came against an unknown young player a couple seats on my left. He had been playing a pretty thoughtful TAG game thus far and was seemingly on the tighter side, but that was possibly just a result of being card dead. It folded around to me one off the hi-jack and I made it 300 with Jh7h. The young player called on the cut-off and we went to the flop heads up. The flop came Js 7c 5c and I fired 400 into the pot. He raised to 1,025 and though I considered three-betting I decided that since he hadn't been that active yet and we were super deep on a soft table I'd go lower variance and just call. The turn was the awkward Kc and when I checked he bet 1,600 and I called. The river was an irrelevant 2h and when I checked again he bet 3,025. I really felt like he had sized it for value and made what felt like something of a nity fold, as he can definitely be taking that line with things like 86s and 98s. Later, I watched him run a fairly sick multi-street bluff in a similar situation on a less experienced player and felt a results-oriented twinge that I may have made a bad fold.

The player he had bluffed was sitting in seat four, and was a man of perhaps 35 to 40 who I did not believe to be a professional. He seemed too loose and made some bets that were counterproductive to his desired result. He also limped quite a bit. At 100-200 he limped under-the-gun and it folded to me on the hi-jack with AsQs and effective stacks of about 35,000. I raised to 800 and after it folded back to the limper he called. The flop came 8s5h8d and he check-called a bet of 1,000 from me. Considering the texture and the way he played his hand, I was pretty confident he had some kind of limped mid pair. I guess he could have something like AT or AJ that he meekly limped, but he seemed more likely to raise AJ pre from the way he was playing and just limp his mid strength stuff instead. I went forward with my read and when the turn came Ts and he checked I had a decision to make. I could bet with the intention of barreling down on many run-outs, but from the way he'd been playing and the fact that I'd been one of the more active players on the table I thought if the board bricked out he may very well call down with things like 44-99. I decided to check and go big if I hit or found an opportune bluff card. The river brought the Td and after a little thought he now led 2,300. I considered his bet a while, and given I felt that much of his range was those mid pair hands and many of them were just invalidated he may bet as a bluff out of desperation. It was extremely hard for him to have a ten, though something like 87s or 89s was quite possible. I also really didn't think he was talented enough to thin value bet nines. I shrugged and called, then lost the pot when he showed me 55. "That ten on the river killed my value" he said as he stacked up the chips. "No, it got you value" Bakes said correctly.

Soon after and at the same level, I made a nity fold against Bakes in a multi-way pot when I flopped top pair in position and he fired a second barrel on a dry board. It was spot I should have averted by three-betting to begin with, and I knew it as soon as I dropped my chips in the pot pre-flop and called the original raise. That said, I think against talented players that will hand read well and fire multiple barrels in spots where your hand is a bit transparent, you have to make your decision on the turn so you don't find yourself forced into bloated pot river situations where you'll make larger mistakes against someone that's balanced.

The blinds were 90 minute levels for the tournament, and the first two were a pattern of descent in my bigger pots and accumulation in my smaller ones. I hit some hands and got to take advantage of a few situations where things were checked to me in multi-way pots because I so often had position. It wasn't until the third level with the blinds at 100-200 with a 25 ante that I played my first major pot. The opponent was an older and clearly recreational player in seat five who had been very loose thus far. After two folds he made it 600. Next to act folded, and Bakes called behind. John folded and with the KcKd on the cut-off I made it 2,200. I think my sizing might be a bit transparent to Bakes there--which is always problematic--but the real goal of the hand is to keep the fish in to bleed him over multiple streets. When it folded back to the opener he called, and Bakes looked over at me suspiciously then folded. The flop came Qh5h2s and when he checked I bet 3,000 and got a fairly quick call. The turn was a gorgeous 2c and when he checked I bet 7,000. This time he thought it over for a while and gave me a little stare down before placing the chips in the pot with slight reluctance. The river was a perfect 4s, and when he checked I glanced at my chips and realized I had about 23,000 left. I could shove, but I feel that against random and more recreational players in live tournaments they perceive a shove as very strong and a smaller bet pretty much always gets called in this spot unless he simply bricked a flush draw. I opted to bet 12,500 and after some deliberation and staring he made the call, then resigned his hand to the muck after I exposed mine.

My stack climbed to the area of 60,000 and my image gained some credibility towards having it, which I used during an attempt at my first larger bluff of the day. It was against the same player that I lost against when calling down with ace-queen high, and again he started things off by open-limping, this time in middle position. There was a fold, then Bakes raised to 1,000 and John called. I called with 4h4d on the button and when it folded to the limper he called as well. The flop came Qh6h2c and when everyone checked to me I bet 2,400. The limper though it over a while and didn't seem that certain of his actions, then elected to call. Both of the pros in the hand folded. The turn was a 9c and I checked behind when he checked. The river was the 5h and when he checked I decided that since he seems to be representing a mid-pair again and I can very easily have played a flush draw like this I may as well bet. I fired 7,000 and after a little thought he made it 17,000. It seems I had encountered a slow-player. I folded without much hesitation and was back to the 50,000 area. It would be where I remained for the final two levels of the night, as I swung very little in either direction and seemed to simply exchange winning and losing a series of small to medium pots. When we bagged up at the end of the night I finished with slightly more than I started with at 47,450.

My routine around the tournament in Las Vegas is always the same. As soon as we finish playing I go straight to the buffet they provide and stuff myself because I'm starving by 8:30, though I do like finishing early. Then I go home and hang out at the house, which is actually occupied for once. Chewy and Aaron came down from Toronto where they've spent time playing online, and Peter Jetten is staying in Dan's room. All four of us played, and only Aaron was unfortunate enough not to last through the day. I was waking up early enough to get to the gym before play, which I feel is very beneficial when there's enough time. However, after the first evening of play there was the opening party in a hotel suite in the Bellagio, so after pigging out at the buffet I dropped in for a beer. I'm usually pretty drained after a day of play, and not interested in any higher energy social situations, so once I finished my drink I quietly slipped out and went home so I could get to bed early. It's only after I bust that I come back to life.

The next morning I found a paradoxical situation waiting for me at the table; there were seven unfamiliar faces all around me but a lone familiar one in the form of Vanessa Selbst seated on my immediate left with a mountain of chips. As anyone that's ever played with her before knows, she's relentlessly aggressive and extremely capable, and having one of the best two-year runs in tournament history right now. She had around triple my stack of 44,000 when I first got involved with her early on in play. It folded to a German player of about 30 on my immediate right who with 60,000 made it 1,525 at 300-600 75. With AQo on the button behind him I made the call. Vanessa was in the small blind and raised it up to 5,100, leading to a fold from the big-blind and the German player. I called and the dealer spread out a beautiful A67 rainbow flop. Vanessa bet 4,200 and I decided that the texture looks like a situation where I would almost never raise my strongest hands instead of letting her barrel, and very much looks like a texture I may tiny bluff raise in a foolish attempt to represent an ace against a player that has a reputation for intense pre-flop aggression. As it happened, I had near the top of my range, and made the raise to 9,200 in hopes that she may attempt to bluff me out or simply commit stacks with top pair herself. Vanessa considered both me and my wager for a moment, then looked at the dealer and said "All in". I called immediately and she said "Oh no, do you have a set?" Then she saw my hand and said "Oh, or that. Nice hand." then tabled A9 offsuit. The dealer whipped off a mostly harmless 6 on the turn, then a perfect 2 on the river and I was awarded a pot containing about 90,000.

But the consequences of having a player like that on your left can only be avoided for so long. At the same level, a player on the hi-jack with about 35,000 made it 1,300 and holding 77 in the small-blind I made the call. It's very possible I should just be three-betting here with Vanessa in the big-blind and a constant threat to three-bet herself when I just call instead, forcing me to play an awkward and bloated pot out of position. This time, she just called and we were dealt a flop of 246 rainbow. When I checked Vanessa led out for 2,800 and after the hi-jack folded I called. The turn paired the 2 and we both checked. It's a great spot for her to be donking the flop as a bluff or semi-bluff, and she's smart enough to realize once I call the flop I likely have showdown value and won't fold the deuce. The river was a king and when I checked Vanessa bet 7,800. It was an annoying spot considering I was pretty confident Vanessa knew what I had and knew I was aware of her image, but damn it if it doesn't seem like too big a hand in this spot to someone as aggressive as her. I apathetically called then winced when she turned over K3o and dragged the pot.

I only played one relevant pot at the 400-800 level. It folded to the German player on my right while seated in the hi-jack and he raised. Right behind him I made a fairly small 3-bet with Ad8d and when it folded back to him he called. The flop came AsKs5s and when he led out I called. The turn was a Qc and we both checked. I think the river was the 7c and we both checked, though I was tempted to go for value. For some reason, I didn't record this hand but I think he had something like jacks with the jack of spades and was frustrated that I won the pot three-betting him with a weaker holding. It became relevant during a big hand together at the next level, which was 500-1,000. I held 82,000 going into the hand and he covered with about 30,000 more. It folded to him on the cut-off and he raised to 2,500. I was right behind him with AcKd on the button and made it 6,600. When the blinds folded he made some remark as to whether I was re-raising him again with ace-eight and then made the call. The flop came Jc5h3s and when he checked I fired 7,200. He called and the turn brought the perfect As. He checked and after a little consideration as to my sizing, I bet 16,500. He mulled this over for a moment, then took some chips out of his stack, sized up a raise, and placed 42,000 in the pot. I wasn't quite sure what he was doing, but I didn't especially believe him and I soon announced that I was all in. "Reeeeeally?" he said with a cringe. He asked for a count, ran some math in his head, then called and turned over Ts9s. The dealer quickly whipped off the 6d and I was suddenly holding what would be the average stack when we cashed, as we received 413 players and the Bellagio pay-out structure awards 100 players a cash once they reach 400 entrants.

A couple levels into the day our table busted a player and had WPT champion Alan Goehring fill the seat. I didn't know very much about his play, but soon watched him play far more hands out of position than is advisable, including cold calling a raise from mid-position with 36s in the small-blind and cold-calling a button reraise from Vanessa in the big-blind with 89s in a hand that I'm a total bitch for not four-betting with KJo, but I hadn't seen him play much yet and I had no clue he was flatting so wide in those kind of situations. Instead I just folded and watched Vanessa snap off a turn bluff attempt from Alan with a Q5s that had a flush draw (I think, she might have had third pair).

The table was seven handed when Alan opened under-the-gun to 2,000 at the 500-1000 level. It folded to me on the button with AdKc and I made it 5,100. The blinds folded, and with about 90,000 in his stack to start the hand Alan made the call. The flop came Kh8s7h and when Alan checked I bet 6,300. Alan considered this a moment then raised to 15,000. I was a little concerned as Alan is more on the loose-passive side than crazy-aggressive side, but he's not incapable of bluffing or semi-bluffing and I certainly wasn't going to fold. I made the call and the turn brought the Jc, which we both checked. The river was a 5s and when he bet 30,000 I essentially snap-called him, given that the flush draw missed and he quite possibly was just stone bluffing on the flop. Instead, Alan had called my three-bet out of position with K7s and flopped two pair, which was good to win the pot.

At the next level I again found myself in a precarious situation against Alan involving K7, this time with my holding it. Alan did a moderate amount of limping in our time at the table, and with about 100,000 effective he limped in early position. It folded to the cut-off who also limped, as did the button. I completed in the small blind with K7o, and Vanessa checked in the big. The flop came KhJd7h and I led 5,500. Vanessa called and Alan now raised to 15,000. Both limpers folded and I decided to call and get it in on safe turns. When I told Chewy and Aaron the hand at home they said that although being cautious in a deep-stacked limped pot is never a bad idea, in this case Vanessa too frequently has draws that get to come along with great odds and since Alan has some himself and is sometimes thin value raising or straight up bluffing, the turn will often go check-check-check and I should just three-bet the flop and go to war with Alan. Not surprisingly they were correct, and when the turn came 8c everyone indeed checked. The river was a 9d, which I thought cost me money but in fact saved me some. Both Vanessa and I checked to Alan, and he quickly put 40,000 in the pot. I folded without much thought and Vanessa made the call. She showed 9T for a turned straight and Alan AT for a rivered one, and they chopped the pot.

I remained quiet for the rest of the level, and hung around the 80,000 mark into the blinds increase of 800-1600. Lisa Hamilton had been moved to the table fairly recently, nursing a short stack for much of her time with us. She final tabled the WPT event in Jacksonville a few weeks ago, and I was able to watch her every hand while doing the commentary. As a result, I knew she was fully capable of shoving wide, and when it folded to her in mid position with 19,800 she moved all in. The action came to me on the button with 77 and after glancing at the players on my left who covered I moved in. Both the blinds folded and Lisa exposed 66. I faded the two-outer and climbed back into six figure territory.

My last relevant pot of the night again came against Alan. It folded to me on the cut-off and with about 100 in my stack against Alan's 140 I made it 3,500 with AdTd. Alan made the call out of the big-blind and we saw a heads up flop of 7c 7h 2c. When he checked I bet 4,200 and Alan called. The turn brought the As, and Alan now led 7,000 at me. Naturally I called, and when the river came the 6h Alan again bet 7,000. I shrugged at his odd line and quickly called, leading him to announce "You've got it" and muck his hand. I won a few more small pots near the end of the evening, and bagged up 148,300 to finish the day.

When play began on day three we were a mere 63 players away from cashing. I found myself at a stacked table including Issac Baron, Jason Mercier, James Dempsey, and Will Reynolds. There were a couple randoms that looked rather worried about the line-up they were facing, and play began on the aggressive side. The table was lucky to have Jason quickly lose a flip to one of the soft spots on the table, and I tried to take advantage of an older player on my right with a light three-bet but was forced to fold to the cold four-bet of Issac. The hand would prove useful for creating a dynamic though, and at 1000-2000 blinds and holding AdAs in the small blind the same older player now raised to 4,500 on the cut-off holding 60,000 in his stack. I made it 11,000 in total and after the big-blind folded he quickly called. The flop came Q88 rainbow and when I bet 13,000 he quickly called. The turn was the king that completed the rainbow, and now I checked to him as he had merely a pot sized bet left, hoping he'd put the rest in. Instead he checked. and when the river brought a six I thought a while then announced "All in" and was instantly called by my opponent. Prior to his verbal excitement I was near certain I had the best hand but now was concerned. When I flipped up my aces he let out a big, frustrated sigh and slammed over KsJs in disappointment. I collected his stack and was now over 200,000.

Players were steadily eliminated over the first couple levels, and about ten off the money and at the 1200-2400 level I had grinded my stack up to 225,000. Will Reynolds was on the button with a stack that slightly covered, and he raised into my big-blind for 5,200. I was holding a Qd8d and had yet to get out of line against Will in any pots together, so I three-bet to 15,500. Will thought things over a while, considered both our stacks, then announced raise and made it 32,000. I thought it was a spot where it was really sexy for him to four-bet, but really difficult for him to six-bet without a massive hand, so I elected to do as Dwyte Pilgrim so often suggests and take it to the next level. I made a too large raise up to 65,000, and after going into the tank and giving me a stare down behind his wide sunglasses, Will announced all in and I very quickly folded and said "Nice hand".

Things remained quiet for some time, and the bubble burst without much fuss. I was sitting on 136,000 at the time it broke, and when it did our table broke with it and I was sent across the room to a much softer table that contained the familiar faces of Jamie Rosen and Eric Baldwin. In my first major pot at the table I faced down both of them. With blinds at 2000-4000 it folded to Jamie on the hi-jack and he raised to 8,000. Eric was right behind him and three-bet up to 20,000. I was in the small blind with 99 and still collecting chips from the mid-sized pot I won the previous hand, but I knew my stack was about 150-160,000. Both players covered me though Eric only slightly, and after a little mock-consideration I moved all in. The big blind folded and with about 350 in his stack, Jamie said he was all-in. Eric folded and when the hands were revealed I saw that I was in bad shape against JJ. Luckily, I slammed out a AK9 flop, and when the turn and river failed to bring a jack for Jamie I was slid a pot worth nearly 350,000. I gave Jamie a sort of 'What can I do?' look and he took a moment away from the table to alleviate the frustration of taking such a huge beat.

I would stay at such heights only briefly. A half-orbit later Jamie raised under-the-gun with about 160,000 in his stack to 8,000. It folded to me on the button and I called with 8h7h with two loose-passive players in the blind that I anticipated would often come with. Both elected to fold, and we went heads up to a flop of 8s3h8c. Jamie bet 12,000 and I called. The turn was a Ts, and Jamie bet 27,500, which I again called. The river was an unfortunate Ks, meaning that if he was double-barreling a backdoor flush draw he got there. He thought it over and bet 78,000. Although I knew I could be losing to a flush, kings-full, or tens-full, I also thought Jamie likely put me on a mid pair like 66-JJ, and that he's capable of firing three barrels as a bluff (though not with many holdings in this spot), or for value when he has AK or AA. I called without much hesitation, and was shown pocket tens for tens-full, returning some of Jamie's stack to him.

Although I lost 120 back on the trips hand, I was still holding 230 and nearly double what I had arrived to the table with. After all, it seemed only fair Jamie got some back after what I did to him. Not long after I lost the large pot to him I called a pre-flop shove of 55,000 holding AQ. My opponent had 66 and I won the flip by hitting an ace on the turn.

Winning that hand brought my stack a little under 300, which I used to engage the 240 of Kyle Julias, who had been moved to my immediate left as we lost players. When it folded to me on the cut-off at 2000-4000 I made it 8,000 with the Ah5h. Kyle called, the small blind folded, and the big blind called. The flop came an exciting 3h4h9s and when the big blind checked I fired 15,000 into a pot of nearly 30. Kyle called and the big blind folded, bringing us to a 6s turn. This time I bet 40,000, leading to a little stare down and a call from Kyle. The river was a Jc, and for a number of reasons I decided to pull out of my bluff. At the point Kyle called me twice I was pretty sure he had a hand with showdown value and considering how many draws had missed I thought it very likely that he'd call the final bullet. The Jc was essentially irrelevant to my range, so there wasn't anything to scare him with. I checked and Kyle checked behind, then tabled AQo, leading me to playfully drawl "Yooooooou baaaaastard." When we spoke about the hand he said he had intended to call a river bet considering how many draws had missed, though whether he follows through with that when facing a large barrel is hard to say. Despite the result, I still don't mind the river check.

My double-barrel hand was the last large one of the night, and I bagged up 232,500 going into day four. Going into day four is comforting, because it's kind of the freeroll day. You've already cashed and now it's time to accumulate in an attempt at making a final table run, but it's not close enough for any tension to build about the size of the equity in each pot. You just kind of kick it, and hope you're not one of the unfortunate many who will take a tournament crippling pre-flop cooler that was unpreventable because the average stack has shortened so much.

All three of us that made it through day one were still alive and returned on Friday to a field that contained 49 players. I got a pretty good table draw from the looks of things, but there was still David Williams across the table, Will Reynolds on my immediate right, and a short stacked David Pham on my immediate left. There were a number of short-stacked players on the table along with him, which created the dynamic for my first big pot of the day, which happened a couple orbits in. At 3,000-6,000 and eight handed Will raised under the gun to 13,500 with about 450 in his stack, and I called next to act with 230 in mine and the QsQh. David Pham called behind with about 130 in his stack, and when it folded to the big blind he shoved for 140,000 total. Will thought it over for a moment and folded, and after taking a couple beats in hopes of inducing The Dragon I announced all in. David looked at the situation strangely and seemed to consider getting it in, but he decided to fold and when the big blind exposed his hand I saw I was in great shape against JhTh. The flop came J93 rainbow, but the turn and river were both harmless and I was now holding just under 400,000.

I played for a little while longer on that table, then we were broke and I was sent to another good looking table. I had Allen Kessler sat on my immediate left, who up until this tournament took enormous glee in pointing out that I had yet to cash a WPT tournament whenever I saw him. He was grinding a short stack as per usual and we began messing with each other pretty quick. He's got a damn fine sense of humor for a nit. I was pretty active on the softer table, and when I opened AQo in mid position to 13,000 with Allen sitting behind, he jammed his stack of 46,500 in after me. After a fold, an old and very weak player on the button with something like 250-300 in his stack cold called the shove. It folded back to me and I had a decision to make. I could just jam, but if the old dude had flatted a huge hand I was screwed, and there was some risk he flatted something like AK or JJ because he wasn't quite sure what else to do, and when I shoved would eventually call. He didn't seem to like investing many chips without something solid. I figured he was so passive that if I called and the flop bricked and I checked, if he bet he would certainly have it. If he checked back, I could bet almost every turn small and fuck him up. It was also the lower variance route at a pretty soft table, so I set the necessary 31,500 out and we went to a flop. The flop came 953 and when I checked to him he checked. The turn was a 6 and now I stacked up a bunch of gray 5,000 chips totaling 55,000 and dropped them into the pot, but did it so they would collapse and slide out in a flat row difficult to count because I knew he was not the type to ask about the amount and think what it indicates. He instantly folded and when Allen exposed AJ I just needed to fade three outs. The river bricked and when Allen asked the other guy what he had he said it was QJs. Allen felt that in a perfect world, the guy should knowingly bet the flop, causing me to fold and him to be awarded the pot when his AJ holds up over queen-high. This is why whenever possible, I make a point of knowing what people do not know, but if I knew he was cold-calling with stuff like QJ I would just shove pre.

On the opposite side of Allen's vacated seat and looming with a big stack of 900,000 was David Williams. Although I had position on him, much of the rest of the table were better targets and since I never found anything I especially liked against him when he opened I hadn't gotten tangled up. On his right was a short-stacked Dee Dozier, who the WPT was certainly crossing their fingers would run to the final table considering her bubbly personality and model looks. The three of us made conversation as David and I beat up on the table and Dee looked for opportunities to shove pre-flop with dead money in the pot. It wasn't until deep into the 4,000-8,000 level that I got involved in a pot with either of them. With 445 in my stack and still about 900 in his, David raised the button to his standard open of 20,000. In the small blind with 8c7c I made it 55,000, and when the big blind folded David asked about the sizing and then called. The flop came 8h6h2d and I fired 50,000. David again looked over the sizing of the bet and called. The turn was the 5h and I wasn't quite sure what to do. A conversation with Chewy and deeper thought under less pressure would reveal that a bet is better for a number of reasons. It gains value from some hands, and blocks things like ace-high with a heart from getting to the river cheaply and scooping the pot. It prevents me from facing two barrels from a fairly wide range, the second of which will be hard to call on many run-outs. And if I bet and get shoved on I can feel pretty good about folding. Unfortunately, I checked at the time, and David checked behind. The river was the Ks and we both checked again, and when David saw my hand he was disappointed and flashed red sevens.

Not long after out-flopping David our table broke, and I was sent to one with David Pham on my left and eventually, Luckychewy on his left. There was also James Dempsey across the table with a mountain of chips, and he's a man who likes to play a fair few hands. The first relevant pot I played at the table began with a player on the cut-off open shoving for 110,000 at 5,000-10,000 blinds. The button folded, and with 450 I reshoved 44 in the small blind with David Pham sitting on about 250 in the big. David folded and when the cut-off exposed A3o I was feeling real good. The flop came 249, but the turn brought his needed 5 and when the river came a K I was sliding off a fifth of my stack to him.

I hung around the area of 400 for a while, and because the Bellagio has you redraw every time you lose nine players deep in the money, I was given a new table at 27. There were plenty of familiar faces, including Luckychewy, David Steike, Antonio Esfandiari, and Will Reynolds. Fortunately, my first big pot developed against an unknown on my right, who was definitely less experienced than much of the table. At 6,000-12,000 and holding 900 in his stack, he opened in mid-position-one to 30,000. I called with 400 in my stack and AhQd behind him and Will called behind me. Everyone else folded and we were dealt a KhTh4h flop. The original raiser bet 60,000 and I thought over my raise size. I had about ~370 behind, and I thought if I shoved this particular player might perceive it as semi-bluffy, so a smaller and strange sizing seemed more appropriate, even though I felt that would be pretty transparent to Will. It didn't really matter though, as at the point I've raised Will and I are getting it in no matter what if he has a big hand. I elected to make it 160,000, and after a quick fold from Will the player first to act went deep into the tank and tried getting me to talk to him. I was without words. He asked about how much I had left and mumbled about my sizing and what I could have, then eventually found a fold.

As play continued into the evening players steadily fell off. The table had become seven handed when I had my first confrontation with Chewy. He was on the button and with perhaps 800 to my 610. The blinds were still 6-12, and when it folded to him on the button he made it 25,000 to go. The small blind folded and in the BB I held AcQd. I decided that against Chewy, I could just three-bet pre and jam on him if he went to four and feel just fine about it. I made it 65,000 and Chewy considered his options then decided to call. The flop came Ah 3h 4s and I fired 60,000 at him. Chewy thought only briefly then called, leading to a 2s on the turn. I decided not to do anything weird with two flush draws out there and doubted Chewy was pulling a float with the intention to bluff me, so I bet 140,000 with the intention of getting it in. Chewy didn't think too long before giving up.

Once we had been reduced to 18 we were again redrawn to new tables. It was not an easy situation. James Dempsey was in seat two, Kyle Julias in four, Vanessa right next to me, Soi Nguyen with a mountain on my left, and Chewy right behind him. But the first big pot I played developed against Anthony Yeh, a guy who reported for Pokernews that I'd met but never played against. In mid position he opened to 26,000 with about a million in his stack, and when it folded to me in the big blind and 700 in mine, I made it 70,000. He thought a bit and made the call. The flop came Th 5c 2h. I bet 80,000 and he called. The turn was the Ac. I feel like against most pros you have any history with you need to fire that card for value since it's a bluff card people often represent, but I'd never played Anthony and thought he may take it more truthfully and just fold his pairs. I checked and he checked back. I think betting is probably better, as does Chewy. The river was the 5h and I led small for 125,000 hoping to get called by worse pairs. He thought for quite some time, then folded what he later told me was sevens.

For a moment, I was sitting on 900,000 myself and very comfortable, but the descent began soon after. An interesting spot developed pre-flop against Vanessa and Soi. With 900 herself, Vanessa opened to 26,000 on the button. I had AsQs in the small blind, and since the table was new and I hadn't developed much dynamic with Vanessa, I decided that if I three-bet to say 70, and Vanessa went 140ish, I could never be content with not getting it in, but it seemed like an awful lot of chips with minimum history. However, if I called and Soi decided to three bet in position, it may induce Vanessa to believe Soi thinks I'm flatting too wide and three-betting more often as a bluff, causing her to widen her four-bet range, and making a jam over that bet more profitable. Additionally, because I would be jamming over so much action, my hand would look bigger than it actually was. And besides, if I got called I had AQs, I was sucking out for sure.

Soi did his part in participating with my plot by raising to 72,000, but Vanessa failed at hers and folded. I really didn't know very much about the way Soi played, but I didn't think getting it in so deep could be right and I was content to call him down on many run-outs. I made the call and we saw a 422 rainbow flop. I checked and fairly quickly called when Soi bet 75,000. The turn was a 6 and we both checked. The river brought a very ugly K, and when I checked Soi mulled it over then bet 135,000. I thought Soi would bet the turn almost every time he had a pocket pair, and would check his bluffs because my hand kind of looks like a pair itself and isn't going to fold on a six. I also thought the king was a pretty good looking card for him to fire with his bluff range, so I stacked up the necessary chips and called. He tabled KQo and I winced and mucked my hand. "Did you have ace-queen?" asked Vanessa. "Something like that" I replied.

I was sitting with about 620,000 going into the last level of the night, 8,000-16,000. The first hand I played at the level came when Vanessa opened with about 800 in mid position and I found KQo behind. I couldn't flat, but only one person on the table had a jamming stack and mine was not that shallow to jam against if I three-bet small. Plus I had two blockers to good hands and Vanessa opens plenty. She went to 35,000 and I popped it to 80,000. It folded to James Dempsey in the small blind and he asked about both my stack and hers. He considered the acquired information for some time, then very reluctantly folded. When the action came back to Vanessa she was only silent briefly before she said all in. I slid my hand towards the muck with James laughing at me.

About an orbit later the previous hand became relevant. I was down to about 500,000 and the action folded to James in mid position who opened to 35,000. When it folded to me in the small blind I found AcQc and decided it was get-in time. I stared at him for a second, then raised it up to 90,000. Soi folded behind, and James asked about what I had behind. He glanced down at his own chips, doing a little mental count, then looked back at mine and said "All in". "Yea, I call" I said. I exposed my hand and James meekly tossed over 4c4h. "Oops, you owned me" he said. "We'll see, I may have owned myself." The flop came Th5c3c and the sweat was on. The temperature increased on a Jd turn, but with the harmless 3h on the river I was eliminated in 18th place, good for a little under $32,000 and a dent in the make-up.

The WPT could ask for little more out of the eventual final table. Headlining was defending champion Antonio, along with Chewy, Vanessa, James, and Jacksonville final tablest Vitor Coelho. I was doing my usual online stream duties with David 'Doc' Sands and Dan O'brien. The early action was unlike anything I've ever seen at a six handed final table, and in quick succession four players were eliminated in under 90 minutes. Soi Nguyen and James Dempsey squared off heads up coming in almost dead even in chips. A little after heads up began I was told by one of my producers that Vince had contracted food poisoning and couldn't finish the broadcast, so I was being taken out of the back room and brought into his seat next to Mike to finish the show. The two of us sat side by side jabbering away as Soi beat James down to just 3.5 million of the 16.5 in play, but then witnessed the tides suddenly turn so suddenly that Dempsey had gone from crippled to tournament champion within an hour. He took home $821,000, and after my time on the table with him I can say he's a very deserving champ and an entirely likable guy.

Categories: Uncategorized .

from . .

Authors note: I haven't been blogging very much lately, but that's not to say I haven't been writing. I've devoted a couple available weeks to the book thus far, and have amassed about 15,000 low quality words in that time. I imagine I'll need around 100, then have to heavily edit it down from there. It's a very enjoyable process for me; I wake up, get some exercise, then distribute the rest of my day between reading, writing, or playing a little poker however I like. Plus football of course, as it is the first time I've had the chance to really follow it every Sunday in about seven years, the sole positive consequence of Black Friday. I have the rest of my recent tournaments recorded and anticipate writing them at some point, but I see no harm in breaking the chronological order of tournament reporting and since this was my first deep run in a long time it seemed best to write it while still fresh. On top of that it was just the kind of experience that's fun to write, as I had to square off with a number of the games top talent and was fortunate not to have anything horrible happen for an entire tournament. It's also worth pointing out that this thing is really fucking long.

The Doyle Brunson Five Diamond series at the Bellagio is the last tournament for the fall half of the WPT season. I had yet to cash an event since my employment by the company, and if nothing happened at this one I would have to wait until mid February to get the opportunity again. I played two preliminary events in the form of $1,100 re-entry tournaments and failed to cash both, one as a result of getting sneaky on the bubble and flatting aces pre then being out-flopped.
The main event began on Tuesday the sixth, and I was very happy to find almost nobody I knew when I arrived at the table. The Bellagio $10k events have often attracted some of the most difficult fields in live poker, and beyond my online commentary co-host Johnathan Little on my immediate right I didn't know anyone else on the table and there were at least three or four players that looked blatantly recreational. One seat remained open to the right of John, and unfortunately about an hour into play it was filled by the talented young David Baker. Still, I had by far the best seat in the house. We began with 40,000 in chips and the blinds at 50-100.
My first difficult situation came against an unknown young player a couple seats on my left. He had been playing a pretty thoughtful TAG game thus far and was seemingly on the tighter side, but that was possibly just a result of being card dead. It folded around to me one off the hi-jack and I made it 300 with Jh7h. The young player called on the cut-off and we went to the flop heads up. The flop came Js 7c 5c and I fired 400 into the pot. He raised to 1,025 and though I considered three-betting I decided that since he hadn't been that active yet and we were super deep on a soft table I'd go lower variance and just call. The turn was the awkward Kc and when I checked he bet 1,600 and I called. The river was an irrelevant 2h and when I checked again he bet 3,025. I really felt like he had sized it for value and made what felt like something of a nity fold, as he can definitely be taking that line with things like 86s and 98s. Later, I watched him run a fairly sick multi-street bluff in a similar situation on a less experienced player and felt a results-oriented twinge that I may have made a bad fold.
The player he had bluffed was sitting in seat four, and was a man of perhaps 35 to 40 who I did not believe to be a professional. He seemed too loose and made some bets that were counterproductive to his desired result. He also limped quite a bit. At 100-200 he limped under-the-gun and it folded to me on the hi-jack with AsQs and effective stacks of about 35,000. I raised to 800 and after it folded back to the limper he called. The flop came 8s5h8d and he check-called a bet of 1,000 from me. Considering the texture and the way he played his hand, I was pretty confident he had some kind of limped mid pair. I guess he could have something like AT or AJ that he meekly limped, but he seemed more likely to raise AJ pre from the way he was playing and just limp his mid strength stuff instead. I went forward with my read and when the turn came Ts and he checked I had a decision to make. I could bet with the intention of barreling down on many run-outs, but from the way he'd been playing and the fact that I'd been one of the more active players on the table I thought if the board bricked out he may very well call down with things like 44-99. I decided to check and go big if I hit or found an opportune bluff card. The river brought the Td and after a little thought he now led 2,300. I considered his bet a while, and given I felt that much of his range was those mid pair hands and many of them were just invalidated he may bet as a bluff out of desperation. It was extremely hard for him to have a ten, though something like 87s or 89s was quite possible. I also really didn't think he was talented enough to thin value bet nines. I shrugged and called, then lost the pot when he showed me 55. "That ten on the river killed my value" he said as he stacked up the chips. "No, it got you value" Bakes said correctly.
Soon after and at the same level, I made a nity fold against Bakes in a multi-way pot when I flopped top pair in position and he fired a second barrel on a dry board. It was spot I should have averted by three-betting to begin with, and I knew it as soon as I dropped my chips in the pot pre-flop and called the original raise. That said, I think against talented players that will hand read well and fire multiple barrels in spots where your hand is a bit transparent, you have to make your decision on the turn so you don't find yourself forced into bloated pot river situations where you'll make larger mistakes against someone that's balanced.
Authors note: I haven't been blogging very much lately, but that's not to say I haven't been writing. I've devoted a couple available weeks to the book thus far, and have amassed about 15,000 low quality words in that time. I imagine I'll need around 100, then have to heavily edit it down from there. It's a very enjoyable process for me; I wake up, get some exercise, then distribute the rest of my day between reading, writing, or playing a little poker however I like. Plus football of course, as it is the first time I've had the chance to really follow it every Sunday in about seven years, the sole positive consequence of Black Friday. I have the rest of my recent tournaments recorded and anticipate writing them at some point, but I see no harm in breaking the chronological order of tournament reporting and since this was my first deep run in a long time it seemed best to write it while still fresh. On top of that it was just the kind of experience that's fun to write, as I had to square off with a number of the games top talent and was fortunate not to have anything horrible happen for an entire tournament. It's also worth pointing out that this thing is really fucking long.

The Doyle Brunson Five Diamond series at the Bellagio is the last tournament for the fall half of the WPT season. I had yet to cash an event since my employment by the company, and if nothing happened at this one I would have to wait until mid February to get the opportunity again. I played two preliminary events in the form of $1,100 re-entry tournaments and failed to cash both, one as a result of getting sneaky on the bubble and flatting aces pre then being out-flopped.

The main event began on Tuesday the sixth, and I was very happy to find almost nobody I knew when I arrived at the table. The Bellagio $10k events have often attracted some of the most difficult fields in live poker, and beyond my online commentary co-host Johnathan Little on my immediate right I didn't know anyone else on the table and there were at least three or four players that looked blatantly recreational. One seat remained open to the right of John, and unfortunately about an hour into play it was filled by the talented young David Baker. Still, I had by far the best seat in the house. We began with 40,000 in chips and the blinds at 50-100.

My first difficult situation came against an unknown young player a couple seats on my left. He had been playing a pretty thoughtful TAG game thus far and was seemingly on the tighter side, but that was possibly just a result of being card dead. It folded around to me one off the hi-jack and I made it 300 with Jh7h. The young player called on the cut-off and we went to the flop heads up. The flop came Js 7c 5c and I fired 400 into the pot. He raised to 1,025 and though I considered three-betting I decided that since he hadn't been that active yet and we were super deep on a soft table I'd go lower variance and just call. The turn was the awkward Kc and when I checked he bet 1,600 and I called. The river was an irrelevant 2h and when I checked again he bet 3,025. I really felt like he had sized it for value and made what felt like something of a nity fold, as he can definitely be taking that line with things like 86s and 98s. Later, I watched him run a fairly sick multi-street bluff in a similar situation on a less experienced player and felt a results-oriented twinge that I may have made a bad fold.

The player he had bluffed was sitting in seat four, and was a man of perhaps 35 to 40 who I did not believe to be a professional. He seemed too loose and made some bets that were counterproductive to his desired result. He also limped quite a bit. At 100-200 he limped under-the-gun and it folded to me on the hi-jack with AsQs and effective stacks of about 35,000. I raised to 800 and after it folded back to the limper he called. The flop came 8s5h8d and he check-called a bet of 1,000 from me. Considering the texture and the way he played his hand, I was pretty confident he had some kind of limped mid pair. I guess he could have something like AT or AJ that he meekly limped, but he seemed more likely to raise AJ pre from the way he was playing and just limp his mid strength stuff instead. I went forward with my read and when the turn came Ts and he checked I had a decision to make. I could bet with the intention of barreling down on many run-outs, but from the way he'd been playing and the fact that I'd been one of the more active players on the table I thought if the board bricked out he may very well call down with things like 44-99. I decided to check and go big if I hit or found an opportune bluff card. The river brought the Td and after a little thought he now led 2,300. I considered his bet a while, and given I felt that much of his range was those mid pair hands and many of them were just invalidated he may bet as a bluff out of desperation. It was extremely hard for him to have a ten, though something like 87s or 89s was quite possible. I also really didn't think he was talented enough to thin value bet nines. I shrugged and called, then lost the pot when he showed me 55. "That ten on the river killed my value" he said as he stacked up the chips. "No, it got you value" Bakes said correctly.

Soon after and at the same level, I made a nity fold against Bakes in a multi-way pot when I flopped top pair in position and he fired a second barrel on a dry board. It was spot I should have averted by three-betting to begin with, and I knew it as soon as I dropped my chips in the pot pre-flop and called the original raise. That said, I think against talented players that will hand read well and fire multiple barrels in spots where your hand is a bit transparent, you have to make your decision on the turn so you don't find yourself forced into bloated pot river situations where you'll make larger mistakes against someone that's balanced.

The blinds were 90 minute levels for the tournament, and the first two were a pattern of descent in my bigger pots and accumulation in my smaller ones. I hit some hands and got to take advantage of a few situations where things were checked to me in multi-way pots because I so often had position. It wasn't until the third level with the blinds at 100-200 with a 25 ante that I played my first major pot. The opponent was an older and clearly recreational player in seat five who had been very loose thus far. After two folds he made it 600. Next to act folded, and Bakes called behind. John folded and with the KcKd on the cut-off I made it 2,200. I think my sizing might be a bit transparent to Bakes there--which is always problematic--but the real goal of the hand is to keep the fish in to bleed him over multiple streets. When it folded back to the opener he called, and Bakes looked over at me suspiciously then folded. The flop came Qh5h2s and when he checked I bet 3,000 and got a fairly quick call. The turn was a gorgeous 2c and when he checked I bet 7,000. This time he thought it over for a while and gave me a little stare down before placing the chips in the pot with slight reluctance. The river was a perfect 4s, and when he checked I glanced at my chips and realized I had about 23,000 left. I could shove, but I feel that against random and more recreational players in live tournaments they perceive a shove as very strong and a smaller bet pretty much always gets called in this spot unless he simply bricked a flush draw. I opted to bet 12,500 and after some deliberation and staring he made the call, then resigned his hand to the muck after I exposed mine.

My stack climbed to the area of 60,000 and my image gained some credibility towards having it, which I used during an attempt at my first larger bluff of the day. It was against the same player that I lost against when calling down with ace-queen high, and again he started things off by open-limping, this time in middle position. There was a fold, then Bakes raised to 1,000 and John called. I called with 4h4d on the button and when it folded to the limper he called as well. The flop came Qh6h2c and when everyone checked to me I bet 2,400. The limper though it over a while and didn't seem that certain of his actions, then elected to call. Both of the pros in the hand folded. The turn was a 9c and I checked behind when he checked. The river was the 5h and when he checked I decided that since he seems to be representing a mid-pair again and I can very easily have played a flush draw like this I may as well bet. I fired 7,000 and after a little thought he made it 17,000. It seems I had encountered a slow-player. I folded without much hesitation and was back to the 50,000 area. It would be where I remained for the final two levels of the night, as I swung very little in either direction and seemed to simply exchange winning and losing a series of small to medium pots. When we bagged up at the end of the night I finished with slightly more than I started with at 47,450.

My routine around the tournament in Las Vegas is always the same. As soon as we finish playing I go straight to the buffet they provide and stuff myself because I'm starving by 8:30, though I do like finishing early. Then I go home and hang out at the house, which is actually occupied for once. Chewy and Aaron came down from Toronto where they've spent time playing online, and Peter Jetten is staying in Dan's room. All four of us played, and only Aaron was unfortunate enough not to last through the day. I was waking up early enough to get to the gym before play, which I feel is very beneficial when there's enough time. However, after the first evening of play there was the opening party in a hotel suite in the Bellagio, so after pigging out at the buffet I dropped in for a beer. I'm usually pretty drained after a day of play, and not interested in any higher energy social situations, so once I finished my drink I quietly slipped out and went home so I could get to bed early. It's only after I bust that I come back to life.

The next morning I found a paradoxical situation waiting for me at the table; there were seven unfamiliar faces all around me but a lone familiar one in the form of Vanessa Selbst seated on my immediate left with a mountain of chips. As anyone that's ever played with her before knows, she's relentlessly aggressive and extremely capable, and having one of the best two-year runs in tournament history right now. She had around triple my stack of 44,000 when I first got involved with her early on in play. It folded to a German player of about 30 on my immediate right who with 60,000 made it 1,525 at 300-600 75. With AQo on the button behind him I made the call. Vanessa was in the small blind and raised it up to 5,100, leading to a fold from the big-blind and the German player. I called and the dealer spread out a beautiful A67 rainbow flop. Vanessa bet 4,200 and I decided that the texture looks like a situation where I would almost never raise my strongest hands instead of letting her barrel, and very much looks like a texture I may tiny bluff raise in a foolish attempt to represent an ace against a player that has a reputation for intense pre-flop aggression. As it happened, I had near the top of my range, and made the raise to 9,200 in hopes that she may attempt to bluff me out or simply commit stacks with top pair herself. Vanessa considered both me and my wager for a moment, then looked at the dealer and said "All in". I called immediately and she said "Oh no, do you have a set?" Then she saw my hand and said "Oh, or that. Nice hand." then tabled A9 offsuit. The dealer whipped off a mostly harmless 6 on the turn, then a perfect 2 on the river and I was awarded a pot containing about 90,000.

But the consequences of having a player like that on your left can only be avoided for so long. At the same level, a player on the hi-jack with about 35,000 made it 1,300 and holding 77 in the small-blind I made the call. It's very possible I should just be three-betting here with Vanessa in the big-blind and a constant threat to three-bet herself when I just call instead, forcing me to play an awkward and bloated pot out of position. This time, she just called and we were dealt a flop of 246 rainbow. When I checked Vanessa led out for 2,800 and after the hi-jack folded I called. The turn paired the 2 and we both checked. It's a great spot for her to be donking the flop as a bluff or semi-bluff, and she's smart enough to realize once I call the flop I likely have showdown value and won't fold the deuce. The river was a king and when I checked Vanessa bet 7,800. It was an annoying spot considering I was pretty confident Vanessa knew what I had and knew I was aware of her image, but damn it if it doesn't seem like too big a hand in this spot to someone as aggressive as her. I apathetically called then winced when she turned over K3o and dragged the pot.

I only played one relevant pot at the 400-800 level. It folded to the German player on my right while seated in the hi-jack and he raised. Right behind him I made a fairly small 3-bet with Ad8d and when it folded back to him he called. The flop came AsKs5s and when he led out I called. The turn was a Qc and we both checked. I think the river was the 7c and we both checked, though I was tempted to go for value. For some reason, I didn't record this hand but I think he had something like jacks with the jack of spades and was frustrated that I won the pot three-betting him with a weaker holding. It became relevant during a big hand together at the next level, which was 500-1,000. I held 82,000 going into the hand and he covered with about 30,000 more. It folded to him on the cut-off and he raised to 2,500. I was right behind him with AcKd on the button and made it 6,600. When the blinds folded he made some remark as to whether I was re-raising him again with ace-eight and then made the call. The flop came Jc5h3s and when he checked I fired 7,200. He called and the turn brought the perfect As. He checked and after a little consideration as to my sizing, I bet 16,500. He mulled this over for a moment, then took some chips out of his stack, sized up a raise, and placed 42,000 in the pot. I wasn't quite sure what he was doing, but I didn't especially believe him and I soon announced that I was all in. "Reeeeeally?" he said with a cringe. He asked for a count, ran some math in his head, then called and turned over Ts9s. The dealer quickly whipped off the 6d and I was suddenly holding what would be the average stack when we cashed, as we received 413 players and the Bellagio pay-out structure awards 100 players a cash once they reach 400 entrants.

A couple levels into the day our table busted a player and had WPT champion Alan Goehring fill the seat. I didn't know very much about his play, but soon watched him play far more hands out of position than is advisable, including cold calling a raise from mid-position with 36s in the small-blind and cold-calling a button reraise from Vanessa in the big-blind with 89s in a hand that I'm a total bitch for not four-betting with KJo, but I hadn't seen him play much yet and I had no clue he was flatting so wide in those kind of situations. Instead I just folded and watched Vanessa snap off a turn bluff attempt from Alan with a Q5s that had a flush draw (I think, she might have had third pair).

The table was seven handed when Alan opened under-the-gun to 2,000 at the 500-1000 level. It folded to me on the button with AdKc and I made it 5,100. The blinds folded, and with about 90,000 in his stack to start the hand Alan made the call. The flop came Kh8s7h and when Alan checked I bet 6,300. Alan considered this a moment then raised to 15,000. I was a little concerned as Alan is more on the loose-passive side than crazy-aggressive side, but he's not incapable of bluffing or semi-bluffing and I certainly wasn't going to fold. I made the call and the turn brought the Jc, which we both checked. The river was a 5s and when he bet 30,000 I essentially snap-called him, given that the flush draw missed and he quite possibly was just stone bluffing on the flop. Instead, Alan had called my three-bet out of position with K7s and flopped two pair, which was good to win the pot.

At the next level I again found myself in a precarious situation against Alan involving K7, this time with my holding it. Alan did a moderate amount of limping in our time at the table, and with about 100,000 effective he limped in early position. It folded to the cut-off who also limped, as did the button. I completed in the small blind with K7o, and Vanessa checked in the big. The flop came KhJd7h and I led 5,500. Vanessa called and Alan now raised to 15,000. Both limpers folded and I decided to call and get it in on safe turns. When I told Chewy and Aaron the hand at home they said that although being cautious in a deep-stacked limped pot is never a bad idea, in this case Vanessa too frequently has draws that get to come along with great odds and since Alan has some himself and is sometimes thin value raising or straight up bluffing, the turn will often go check-check-check and I should just three-bet the flop and go to war with Alan. Not surprisingly they were correct, and when the turn came 8c everyone indeed checked. The river was a 9d, which I thought cost me money but in fact saved me some. Both Vanessa and I checked to Alan, and he quickly put 40,000 in the pot. I folded without much thought and Vanessa made the call. She showed 9T for a turned straight and Alan AT for a rivered one, and they chopped the pot.

I remained quiet for the rest of the level, and hung around the 80,000 mark into the blinds increase of 800-1600. Lisa Hamilton had been moved to the table fairly recently, nursing a short stack for much of her time with us. She final tabled the WPT event in Jacksonville a few weeks ago, and I was able to watch her every hand while doing the commentary. As a result, I knew she was fully capable of shoving wide, and when it folded to her in mid position with 19,800 she moved all in. The action came to me on the button with 77 and after glancing at the players on my left who covered I moved in. Both the blinds folded and Lisa exposed 66. I faded the two-outer and climbed back into six figure territory.

My last relevant pot of the night again came against Alan. It folded to me on the cut-off and with about 100 in my stack against Alan's 140 I made it 3,500 with AdTd. Alan made the call out of the big-blind and we saw a heads up flop of 7c 7h 2c. When he checked I bet 4,200 and Alan called. The turn brought the As, and Alan now led 7,000 at me. Naturally I called, and when the river came the 6h Alan again bet 7,000. I shrugged at his odd line and quickly called, leading him to announce "You've got it" and muck his hand. I won a few more small pots near the end of the evening, and bagged up 148,300 to finish the day.

When play began on day three we were a mere 63 players away from cashing. I found myself at a stacked table including Issac Baron, Jason Mercier, James Dempsey, and Will Reynolds. There were a couple randoms that looked rather worried about the line-up they were facing, and play began on the aggressive side. The table was lucky to have Jason quickly lose a flip to one of the soft spots on the table, and I tried to take advantage of an older player on my right with a light three-bet but was forced to fold to the cold four-bet of Issac. The hand would prove useful for creating a dynamic though, and at 1000-2000 blinds and holding AdAs in the small blind the same older player now raised to 4,500 on the cut-off holding 60,000 in his stack. I made it 11,000 in total and after the big-blind folded he quickly called. The flop came Q88 rainbow and when I bet 13,000 he quickly called. The turn was the king that completed the rainbow, and now I checked to him as he had merely a pot sized bet left, hoping he'd put the rest in. Instead he checked. and when the river brought a six I thought a while then announced "All in" and was instantly called by my opponent. Prior to his verbal excitement I was near certain I had the best hand but now was concerned. When I flipped up my aces he let out a big, frustrated sigh and slammed over KsJs in disappointment. I collected his stack and was now over 200,000.

Players were steadily eliminated over the first couple levels, and about ten off the money and at the 1200-2400 level I had grinded my stack up to 225,000. Will Reynolds was on the button with a stack that slightly covered, and he raised into my big-blind for 5,200. I was holding a Qd8d and had yet to get out of line against Will in any pots together, so I three-bet to 15,500. Will thought things over a while, considered both our stacks, then announced raise and made it 32,000. I thought it was a spot where it was really sexy for him to four-bet, but really difficult for him to six-bet without a massive hand, so I elected to do as Dwyte Pilgrim so often suggests and take it to the next level. I made a too large raise up to 65,000, and after going into the tank and giving me a stare down behind his wide sunglasses, Will announced all in and I very quickly folded and said "Nice hand".

Things remained quiet for some time, and the bubble burst without much fuss. I was sitting on 136,000 at the time it broke, and when it did our table broke with it and I was sent across the room to a much softer table that contained the familiar faces of Jamie Rosen and Eric Baldwin. In my first major pot at the table I faced down both of them. With blinds at 2000-4000 it folded to Jamie on the hi-jack and he raised to 8,000. Eric was right behind him and three-bet up to 20,000. I was in the small blind with 99 and still collecting chips from the mid-sized pot I won the previous hand, but I knew my stack was about 150-160,000. Both players covered me though Eric only slightly, and after a little mock-consideration I moved all in. The big blind folded and with about 350 in his stack, Jamie said he was all-in. Eric folded and when the hands were revealed I saw that I was in bad shape against JJ. Luckily, I slammed out a AK9 flop, and when the turn and river failed to bring a jack for Jamie I was slid a pot worth nearly 350,000. I gave Jamie a sort of 'What can I do?' look and he took a moment away from the table to alleviate the frustration of taking such a huge beat.

I would stay at such heights only briefly. A half-orbit later Jamie raised under-the-gun with about 160,000 in his stack to 8,000. It folded to me on the button and I called with 8h7h with two loose-passive players in the blind that I anticipated would often come with. Both elected to fold, and we went heads up to a flop of 8s3h8c. Jamie bet 12,000 and I called. The turn was a Ts, and Jamie bet 27,500, which I again called. The river was an unfortunate Ks, meaning that if he was double-barreling a backdoor flush draw he got there. He thought it over and bet 78,000. Although I knew I could be losing to a flush, kings-full, or tens-full, I also thought Jamie likely put me on a mid pair like 66-JJ, and that he's capable of firing three barrels as a bluff (though not with many holdings in this spot), or for value when he has AK or AA. I called without much hesitation, and was shown pocket tens for tens-full, returning some of Jamie's stack to him.

Although I lost 120 back on the trips hand, I was still holding 230 and nearly double what I had arrived to the table with. After all, it seemed only fair Jamie got some back after what I did to him. Not long after I lost the large pot to him I called a pre-flop shove of 55,000 holding AQ. My opponent had 66 and I won the flip by hitting an ace on the turn.

Winning that hand brought my stack a little under 300, which I used to engage the 240 of Kyle Julias, who had been moved to my immediate left as we lost players. When it folded to me on the cut-off at 2000-4000 I made it 8,000 with the Ah5h. Kyle called, the small blind folded, and the big blind called. The flop came an exciting 3h4h9s and when the big blind checked I fired 15,000 into a pot of nearly 30. Kyle called and the big blind folded, bringing us to a 6s turn. This time I bet 40,000, leading to a little stare down and a call from Kyle. The river was a Jc, and for a number of reasons I decided to pull out of my bluff. At the point Kyle called me twice I was pretty sure he had a hand with showdown value and considering how many draws had missed I thought it very likely that he'd call the final bullet. The Jc was essentially irrelevant to my range, so there wasn't anything to scare him with. I checked and Kyle checked behind, then tabled AQo, leading me to playfully drawl "Yooooooou baaaaastard." When we spoke about the hand he said he had intended to call a river bet considering how many draws had missed, though whether he follows through with that when facing a large barrel is hard to say. Despite the result, I still don't mind the river check.

My double-barrel hand was the last large one of the night, and I bagged up 232,500 going into day four. Going into day four is comforting, because it's kind of the freeroll day. You've already cashed and now it's time to accumulate in an attempt at making a final table run, but it's not close enough for any tension to build about the size of the equity in each pot. You just kind of kick it, and hope you're not one of the unfortunate many who will take a tournament crippling pre-flop cooler that was unpreventable because the average stack has shortened so much.

All three of us that made it through day one were still alive and returned on Friday to a field that contained 49 players. I got a pretty good table draw from the looks of things, but there was still David Williams across the table, Will Reynolds on my immediate right, and a short stacked David Pham on my immediate left. There were a number of short-stacked players on the table along with him, which created the dynamic for my first big pot of the day, which happened a couple orbits in. At 3,000-6,000 and eight handed Will raised under the gun to 13,500 with about 450 in his stack, and I called next to act with 230 in mine and the QsQh. David Pham called behind with about 130 in his stack, and when it folded to the big blind he shoved for 140,000 total. Will thought it over for a moment and folded, and after taking a couple beats in hopes of inducing The Dragon I announced all in. David looked at the situation strangely and seemed to consider getting it in, but he decided to fold and when the big blind exposed his hand I saw I was in great shape against JhTh. The flop came J93 rainbow, but the turn and river were both harmless and I was now holding just under 400,000.

I played for a little while longer on that table, then we were broke and I was sent to another good looking table. I had Allen Kessler sat on my immediate left, who up until this tournament took enormous glee in pointing out that I had yet to cash a WPT tournament whenever I saw him. He was grinding a short stack as per usual and we began messing with each other pretty quick. He's got a damn fine sense of humor for a nit. I was pretty active on the softer table, and when I opened AQo in mid position to 13,000 with Allen sitting behind, he jammed his stack of 46,500 in after me. After a fold, an old and very weak player on the button with something like 250-300 in his stack cold called the shove. It folded back to me and I had a decision to make. I could just jam, but if the old dude had flatted a huge hand I was screwed, and there was some risk he flatted something like AK or JJ because he wasn't quite sure what else to do, and when I shoved would eventually call. He didn't seem to like investing many chips without something solid. I figured he was so passive that if I called and the flop bricked and I checked, if he bet he would certainly have it. If he checked back, I could bet almost every turn small and fuck him up. It was also the lower variance route at a pretty soft table, so I set the necessary 31,500 out and we went to a flop. The flop came 953 and when I checked to him he checked. The turn was a 6 and now I stacked up a bunch of gray 5,000 chips totaling 55,000 and dropped them into the pot, but did it so they would collapse and slide out in a flat row difficult to count because I knew he was not the type to ask about the amount and think what it indicates. He instantly folded and when Allen exposed AJ I just needed to fade three outs. The river bricked and when Allen asked the other guy what he had he said it was QJs. Allen felt that in a perfect world, the guy should knowingly bet the flop, causing me to fold and him to be awarded the pot when his AJ holds up over queen-high. This is why whenever possible, I make a point of knowing what people do not know, but if I knew he was cold-calling with stuff like QJ I would just shove pre.

On the opposite side of Allen's vacated seat and looming with a big stack of 900,000 was David Williams. Although I had position on him, much of the rest of the table were better targets and since I never found anything I especially liked against him when he opened I hadn't gotten tangled up. On his right was a short-stacked Dee Dozier, who the WPT was certainly crossing their fingers would run to the final table considering her bubbly personality and model looks. The three of us made conversation as David and I beat up on the table and Dee looked for opportunities to shove pre-flop with dead money in the pot. It wasn't until deep into the 4,000-8,000 level that I got involved in a pot with either of them. With 445 in my stack and still about 900 in his, David raised the button to his standard open of 20,000. In the small blind with 8c7c I made it 55,000, and when the big blind folded David asked about the sizing and then called. The flop came 8h6h2d and I fired 50,000. David again looked over the sizing of the bet and called. The turn was the 5h and I wasn't quite sure what to do. A conversation with Chewy and deeper thought under less pressure would reveal that a bet is better for a number of reasons. It gains value from some hands, and blocks things like ace-high with a heart from getting to the river cheaply and scooping the pot. It prevents me from facing two barrels from a fairly wide range, the second of which will be hard to call on many run-outs. And if I bet and get shoved on I can feel pretty good about folding. Unfortunately, I checked at the time, and David checked behind. The river was the Ks and we both checked again, and when David saw my hand he was disappointed and flashed red sevens.

Not long after out-flopping David our table broke, and I was sent to one with David Pham on my left and eventually, Luckychewy on his left. There was also James Dempsey across the table with a mountain of chips, and he's a man who likes to play a fair few hands. The first relevant pot I played at the table began with a player on the cut-off open shoving for 110,000 at 5,000-10,000 blinds. The button folded, and with 450 I reshoved 44 in the small blind with David Pham sitting on about 250 in the big. David folded and when the cut-off exposed A3o I was feeling real good. The flop came 249, but the turn brought his needed 5 and when the river came a K I was sliding off a fifth of my stack to him.

I hung around the area of 400 for a while, and because the Bellagio has you redraw every time you lose nine players deep in the money, I was given a new table at 27. There were plenty of familiar faces, including Luckychewy, David Steike, Antonio Esfandiari, and Will Reynolds. Fortunately, my first big pot developed against an unknown on my right, who was definitely less experienced than much of the table. At 6,000-12,000 and holding 900 in his stack, he opened in mid-position-one to 30,000. I called with 400 in my stack and AhQd behind him and Will called behind me. Everyone else folded and we were dealt a KhTh4h flop. The original raiser bet 60,000 and I thought over my raise size. I had about ~370 behind, and I thought if I shoved this particular player might perceive it as semi-bluffy, so a smaller and strange sizing seemed more appropriate, even though I felt that would be pretty transparent to Will. It didn't really matter though, as at the point I've raised Will and I are getting it in no matter what if he has a big hand. I elected to make it 160,000, and after a quick fold from Will the player first to act went deep into the tank and tried getting me to talk to him. I was without words. He asked about how much I had left and mumbled about my sizing and what I could have, then eventually found a fold.

As play continued into the evening players steadily fell off. The table had become seven handed when I had my first confrontation with Chewy. He was on the button and with perhaps 800 to my 610. The blinds were still 6-12, and when it folded to him on the button he made it 25,000 to go. The small blind folded and in the BB I held AcQd. I decided that against Chewy, I could just three-bet pre and jam on him if he went to four and feel just fine about it. I made it 65,000 and Chewy considered his options then decided to call. The flop came Ah 3h 4s and I fired 60,000 at him. Chewy thought only briefly then called, leading to a 2s on the turn. I decided not to do anything weird with two flush draws out there and doubted Chewy was pulling a float with the intention to bluff me, so I bet 140,000 with the intention of getting it in. Chewy didn't think too long before giving up.

Once we had been reduced to 18 we were again redrawn to new tables. It was not an easy situation. James Dempsey was in seat two, Kyle Julias in four, Vanessa right next to me, Soi Nguyen with a mountain on my left, and Chewy right behind him. But the first big pot I played developed against Anthony Yeh, a guy who reported for Pokernews that I'd met but never played against. In mid position he opened to 26,000 with about a million in his stack, and when it folded to me in the big blind and 700 in mine, I made it 70,000. He thought a bit and made the call. The flop came Th 5c 2h. I bet 80,000 and he called. The turn was the Ac. I feel like against most pros you have any history with you need to fire that card for value since it's a bluff card people often represent, but I'd never played Anthony and thought he may take it more truthfully and just fold his pairs. I checked and he checked back. I think betting is probably better, as does Chewy. The river was the 5h and I led small for 125,000 hoping to get called by worse pairs. He thought for quite some time, then folded what he later told me was sevens.

For a moment, I was sitting on 900,000 myself and very comfortable, but the descent began soon after. An interesting spot developed pre-flop against Vanessa and Soi. With 900 herself, Vanessa opened to 26,000 on the button. I had AsQs in the small blind, and since the table was new and I hadn't developed much dynamic with Vanessa, I decided that if I three-bet to say 70, and Vanessa went 140ish, I could never be content with not getting it in, but it seemed like an awful lot of chips with minimum history. However, if I called and Soi decided to three bet in position, it may induce Vanessa to believe Soi thinks I'm flatting too wide and three-betting more often as a bluff, causing her to widen her four-bet range, and making a jam over that bet more profitable. Additionally, because I would be jamming over so much action, my hand would look bigger than it actually was. And besides, if I got called I had AQs, I was sucking out for sure.

Soi did his part in participating with my plot by raising to 72,000, but Vanessa failed at hers and folded. I really didn't know very much about the way Soi played, but I didn't think getting it in so deep could be right and I was content to call him down on many run-outs. I made the call and we saw a 422 rainbow flop. I checked and fairly quickly called when Soi bet 75,000. The turn was a 6 and we both checked. The river brought a very ugly K, and when I checked Soi mulled it over then bet 135,000. I thought Soi would bet the turn almost every time he had a pocket pair, and would check his bluffs because my hand kind of looks like a pair itself and isn't going to fold on a six. I also thought the king was a pretty good looking card for him to fire with his bluff range, so I stacked up the necessary chips and called. He tabled KQo and I winced and mucked my hand. "Did you have ace-queen?" asked Vanessa. "Something like that" I replied.

I was sitting with about 620,000 going into the last level of the night, 8,000-16,000. The first hand I played at the level came when Vanessa opened with about 800 in mid position and I found KQo behind. I couldn't flat, but only one person on the table had a jamming stack and mine was not that shallow to jam against if I three-bet small. Plus I had two blockers to good hands and Vanessa opens plenty. She went to 35,000 and I popped it to 80,000. It folded to James Dempsey in the small blind and he asked about both my stack and hers. He considered the acquired information for some time, then very reluctantly folded. When the action came back to Vanessa she was only silent briefly before she said all in. I slid my hand towards the muck with James laughing at me.

About an orbit later the previous hand became relevant. I was down to about 500,000 and the action folded to James in mid position who opened to 35,000. When it folded to me in the small blind I found AcQc and decided it was get-in time. I stared at him for a second, then raised it up to 90,000. Soi folded behind, and James asked about what I had behind. He glanced down at his own chips, doing a little mental count, then looked back at mine and said "All in". "Yea, I call" I said. I exposed my hand and James meekly tossed over 4c4h. "Oops, you owned me" he said. "We'll see, I may have owned myself." The flop came Th5c3c and the sweat was on. The temperature increased on a Jd turn, but with the harmless 3h on the river I was eliminated in 18th place, good for a little under $32,000 and a dent in the make-up.

The WPT could ask for little more out of the eventual final table. Headlining was defending champion Antonio, along with Chewy, Vanessa, James, and Jacksonville final tablest Vitor Coelho. I was doing my usual online stream duties with David 'Doc' Sands and Dan O'brien. The early action was unlike anything I've ever seen at a six handed final table, and in quick succession four players were eliminated in under 90 minutes. Soi Nguyen and James Dempsey squared off heads up coming in almost dead even in chips. A little after heads up began I was told by one of my producers that Vince had contracted food poisoning and couldn't finish the broadcast, so I was being taken out of the back room and brought into his seat next to Mike to finish the show. The two of us sat side by side jabbering away as Soi beat James down to just 3.5 million of the 16.5 in play, but then witnessed the tides suddenly turn so suddenly that Dempsey had gone from crippled to tournament champion within an hour. He took home $821,000, and after my time on the table with him I can say he's a very deserving champ and an entirely likable guy.

My stack climbed to the area of 60,000 and my image gained some credibility towards having it, which I used during an attempt at my first larger bluff of the day. It was against the same player that I lost against when calling down with ace-queen high, and again he started things off by open-limping, this time in middle position. There was a fold, then Bakes raised to 1,000 and John called. I called with 4h4d on the button and when it folded to the limper he called as well. The flop came Qh6h2c and when everyone checked to me I bet 2,400. The limper though it over a while and didn't seem that certain of his actions, then elected to call. Both of the pros in the hand folded. The turn was a 9c and I checked behind when he checked. The river was the 5h and when he checked I decided that since he seems to be representing a mid-pair again and I can very easily have played a flush draw like this I may as well bet. I fired 7,000 and after a little thought he made it 17,000. It seems I had encountered a slow-player. I folded without much hesitation and was back to the 50,000 area. It would be where I remained for the final two levels of the night, as I swung very little in either direction and seemed to simply exchange winning and losing a series of small to medium pots. When we bagged up at the end of the night I finished with slightly more than I started with at 47,450.
My routine around the tournament in Las Vegas is always the same. As soon as we finish playing I go straight to the buffet they provide and stuff myself because I'm starving by 8:30, though I do like finishing early. Then I go home and hang out at the house, which is actually occupied for once. Chewy and Aaron came down from Toronto where they've spent time playing online, and Peter Jetten is staying in Dan's room. All four of us played, and only Aaron was unfortunate enough not to last through the day. I was waking up early enough to get to the gym before play, which I feel is very beneficial when there's enough time. However, after the first evening of play there was the opening party in a hotel suite in the Bellagio, so after pigging out at the buffet I dropped in for a beer. I'm usually pretty drained after a day of play, and not interested in any higher energy social situations, so once I finished my drink I quietly slipped out and went home so I could get to bed early. It's only after I bust that I come back to life.
The next morning I found a paradoxical situation waiting for me at the table; there were seven unfamiliar faces all around me but a lone familiar one in the form of Vanessa Selbst seated on my immediate left with a mountain of chips. As anyone that's ever played with her before knows, she's relentlessly aggressive and extremely capable, and having one of the best two-year runs in tournament history right now. She had around triple my stack of 44,000 when I first got involved with her early on in play. It folded to a German player of about 30 on my immediate right who with 60,000 made it 1,525 at 300-600 75. With AQo on the button behind him I made the call. Vanessa was in the small blind and raised it up to 5,100, leading to a fold from the big-blind and the German player. I called and the dealer spread out a beautiful A67 rainbow flop. Vanessa bet 4,200 and I decided that the texture looks like a situation where I would almost never raise my strongest hands instead of letting her barrel, and very much looks like a texture I may tiny bluff raise in a foolish attempt to represent an ace against a player that has a reputation for intense pre-flop aggression. As it happened, I had near the top of my range, and made the raise to 9,200 in hopes that she may attempt to bluff me out or simply commit stacks with top pair herself. Vanessa considered both me and my wager for a moment, then looked at the dealer and said "All in". I called immediately and she said "Oh no, do you have a set?" Then she saw my hand and said "Oh, or that. Nice hand." then tabled A9 offsuit. The dealer whipped off a mostly harmless 6 on the turn, then a perfect 2 on the river and I was awarded a pot containing about 90,000.
But the consequences of having a player like that on your left can only be avoided for so long. At the same level, a player on the hi-jack with about 35,000 made it 1,300 and holding 77 in the small-blind I made the call. It's very possible I should just be three-betting here with Vanessa in the big-blind and a constant threat to three-bet herself when I just call instead, forcing me to play an awkward and bloated pot out of position. This time, she just called and we were dealt a flop of 246 rainbow. When I checked Vanessa led out for 2,800 and after the hi-jack folded I called. The turn paired the 2 and we both checked. It's a great spot for her to be donking the flop as a bluff or semi-bluff, and she's smart enough to realize once I call the flop I likely have showdown value and won't fold the deuce. The river was a king and when I checked Vanessa bet 7,800. It was an annoying spot considering I was pretty confident Vanessa knew what I had and knew I was aware of her image, but damn it if it doesn't seem like too big a hand in this spot to someone as aggressive as her. I apathetically called then winced when she turned over K3o and dragged the pot.
I only played one relevant pot at the 400-800 level. It folded to the German player on my right while seated in the hi-jack and he raised. Right behind him I made a fairly small 3-bet with Ad8d and when it folded back to him he called. The flop came AsKs5s and when he led out I called. The turn was a Qc and we both checked. I think the river was the 7c and we both checked, though I was tempted to go for value. For some reason, I didn't record this hand but I think he had something like jacks with the jack of spades and was frustrated that I won the pot three-betting him with a weaker holding. It became relevant during a big hand together at the next level, which was 500-1,000. I held 82,000 going into the hand and he covered with about 30,000 more. It folded to him on the cut-off and he raised to 2,500. I was right behind him with AcKd on the button and made it 6,600. When the blinds folded he made some remark as to whether I was re-raising him again with ace-eight and then made the call. The flop came Jc5h3s and when he checked I fired 7,200. He called and the turn brought the perfect As. He checked and after a little consideration as to my sizing, I bet 16,500. He mulled this over for a moment, then took some chips out of his stack, sized up a raise, and placed 42,000 in the pot. I wasn't quite sure what he was doing, but I didn't especially believe him and I soon announced that I was all in. "Reeeeeally?" he said with a cringe. He asked for a count, ran some math in his head, then called and turned over Ts9s. The dealer quickly whipped off the 6d and I was suddenly holding what would be the average stack when we cashed, as we received 413 players and the Bellagio pay-out structure awards 100 players a cash once they reach 400 entrants.
A couple levels into the day our table busted a player and had WPT champion Alan Goehring fill the seat. I didn't know very much about his play, but soon watched him play far more hands out of position than is advisable, including cold calling a raise from mid-position with 36s in the small-blind and cold-calling a button reraise from Vanessa in the big-blind with 89s in a hand that I'm a total bitch for not four-betting with KJo, but I hadn't seen him play much yet and I had no clue he was flatting so wide in those kind of situations. Instead I just folded and watched Vanessa snap off a turn bluff attempt from Alan with a Q5s that had a flush draw (I think, she might have had third pair).
The table was seven handed when Alan opened under-the-gun to 2,000 at the 500-1000 level. It folded to me on the button with AdKc and I made it 5,100. The blinds folded, and with about 90,000 in his stack to start the hand Alan made the call. The flop came Kh8s7h and when Alan checked I bet 6,300. Alan considered this a moment then raised to 15,000. I was a little concerned as Alan is more on the loose-passive side than crazy-aggressive side, but he's not incapable of bluffing or semi-bluffing and I certainly wasn't going to fold. I made the call and the turn brought the Jc, which we both checked. The river was a 5s and when he bet 30,000 I essentially snap-called him, given that the flush draw missed and he quite possibly was just stone bluffing on the flop. Instead, Alan had called my three-bet out of position with K7s and flopped two pair, which was good to win the pot.
At the next level I again found myself in a precarious situation against Alan involving K7, this time with my holding it. Alan did a moderate amount of limping in our time at the table, and with about 100,000 effective he limped in early position. It folded to the cut-off who also limped, as did the button. I completed in the small blind with K7o, and Vanessa checked in the big. The flop came KhJd7h and I led 5,500. Vanessa called and Alan now raised to 15,000. Both limpers folded and I decided to call and get it in on safe turns. When I told Chewy and Aaron the hand at home they said that although being cautious in a deep-stacked limped pot is never a bad idea, in this case Vanessa too frequently has draws that get to come along with great odds and since Alan has some himself and is sometimes thin value raising or straight up bluffing, the turn will often go check-check-check and I should just three-bet the flop and go to war with Alan. Not surprisingly they were correct, and when the turn came 8c everyone indeed checked. The river was a 9d, which I thought cost me money but in fact saved me some. Both Vanessa and I checked to Alan, and he quickly put 40,000 in the pot. I folded without much thought and Vanessa made the call. She showed 9T for a turned straight and Alan AT for a rivered one, and they chopped the pot.
I remained quiet for the rest of the level, and hung around the 80,000 mark into the blinds increase of 800-1600. Lisa Hamilton had been moved to the table fairly recently, nursing a short stack for much of her time with us. She final tabled the WPT event in Jacksonville a few weeks ago, and I was able to watch her every hand while doing the commentary. As a result, I knew she was fully capable of shoving wide, and when it folded to her in mid position with 19,800 she moved all in. The action came to me on the button with 77 and after glancing at the players on my left who covered I moved in. Both the blinds folded and Lisa exposed 66. I faded the two-outer and climbed back into six figure territory.
My last relevant pot of the night again came against Alan. It folded to me on the cut-off and with about 100 in my stack against Alan's 140 I made it 3,500 with AdTd. Alan made the call out of the big-blind and we saw a heads up flop of 7c 7h 2c. When he checked I bet 4,200 and Alan called. The turn brought the As, and Alan now led 7,000 at me. Naturally I called, and when the river came the 6h Alan again bet 7,000. I shrugged at his odd line and quickly called, leading him to announce "You've got it" and muck his hand. I won a few more small pots near the end of the evening, and bagged up 148,300 to finish the day.
When play began on day three we were a mere 63 players away from cashing. I found myself at a stacked table including Issac Baron, Jason Mercier, James Dempsey, and Will Reynolds. There were a couple randoms that looked rather worried about the line-up they were facing, and play began on the aggressive side. The table was lucky to have Jason quickly lose a flip to one of the soft spots on the table, and I tried to take advantage of an older player on my right with a light three-bet but was forced to fold to the cold four-bet of Issac. The hand would prove useful for creating a dynamic though, and at 1000-2000 blinds and holding AdAs in the small blind the same older player now raised to 4,500 on the cut-off holding 60,000 in his stack. I made it 11,000 in total and after the big-blind folded he quickly called. The flop came Q88 rainbow and when I bet 13,000 he quickly called. The turn was the king that completed the rainbow, and now I checked to him as he had merely a pot sized bet left, hoping he'd put the rest in. Instead he checked. and when the river brought a six I thought a while then announced "All in" and was instantly called by my opponent. Prior to his verbal excitement I was near certain I had the best hand but now was concerned. When I flipped up my aces he let out a big, frustrated sigh and slammed over KsJs in disappointment. I collected his stack and was now over 200,000.
Players were steadily eliminated over the first couple levels, and about ten off the money and at the 1200-2400 level I had grinded my stack up to 225,000. Will Reynolds was on the button with a stack that slightly covered, and he raised into my big-blind for 5,200. I was holding a Qd8d and had yet to get out of line against Will in any pots together, so I three-bet to 15,500. Will thought things over a while, considered both our stacks, then announced raise and made it 32,000. I thought it was a spot where it was really sexy for him to four-bet, but really difficult for him to six-bet without a massive hand, so I elected to do as Dwyte Pilgrim so often suggests and take it to the next level. I made a too large raise up to 65,000, and after going into the tank and giving me a stare down behind his wide sunglasses, Will announced all in and I very quickly folded and said "Nice hand".
Things remained quiet for some time, and the bubble burst without much fuss. I was sitting on 136,000 at the time it broke, and when it did our table broke with it and I was sent across the room to a much softer table that contained the familiar faces of Jamie Rosen and Eric Baldwin. In my first major pot at the table I faced down both of them. With blinds at 2000-4000 it folded to Jamie on the hi-jack and he raised to 8,000. Eric was right behind him and three-bet up to 20,000. I was in the small blind with 99 and still collecting chips from the mid-sized pot I won the previous hand, but I knew my stack was about 150-160,000. Both players covered me though Eric only slightly, and after a little mock-consideration I moved all in. The big blind folded and with about 350 in his stack, Jamie said he was all-in. Eric folded and when the hands were revealed I saw that I was in bad shape against JJ. Luckily, I slammed out a AK9 flop, and when the turn and river failed to bring a jack for Jamie I was slid a pot worth nearly 350,000. I gave Jamie a sort of 'What can I do?' look and he took a moment away from the table to alleviate the frustration of taking such a huge beat.
I would stay at such heights only briefly. A half-orbit later Jamie raised under-the-gun with about 160,000 in his stack to 8,000. It folded to me on the button and I called with 8h7h with two loose-passive players in the blind that I anticipated would often come with. Both elected to fold, and we went heads up to a flop of 8s3h8c. Jamie bet 12,000 and I called. The turn was a Ts, and Jamie bet 27,500, which I again called. The river was an unfortunate Ks, meaning that if he was double-barreling a backdoor flush draw he got there. He thought it over and bet 78,000. Although I knew I could be losing to a flush, kings-full, or tens-full, I also thought Jamie likely put me on a mid pair like 66-JJ, and that he's capable of firing three barrels as a bluff (though not with many holdings in this spot), or for value when he has AK or AA. I called without much hesitation, and was shown pocket tens for tens-full, returning some of Jamie's stack to him.
Although I lost 120 back on the trips hand, I was still holding 230 and nearly double what I had arrived to the table with. After all, it seemed only fair Jamie got some back after what I did to him. Not long after I lost the large pot to him I called a pre-flop shove of 55,000 holding AQ. My opponent had 66 and I won the flip by hitting an ace on the turn.
Winning that hand brought my stack a little under 300, which I used to engage the 240 of Kyle Julias, who had been moved to my immediate left as we lost players. When it folded to me on the cut-off at 2000-4000 I made it 8,000 with the Ah5h. Kyle called, the small blind folded, and the big blind called. The flop came an exciting 3h4h9s and when the big blind checked I fired 15,000 into a pot of nearly 30. Kyle called and the big blind folded, bringing us to a 6s turn. This time I bet 40,000, leading to a little stare down and a call from Kyle. The river was a Jc, and for a number of reasons I decided to pull out of my bluff. At the point Kyle called me twice I was pretty sure he had a hand with showdown value and considering how many draws had missed I thought it very likely that he'd call the final bullet. The Jc was essentially irrelevant to my range, so there wasn't anything to scare him with. I checked and Kyle checked behind, then tabled AQo, leading me to playfully drawl "Yooooooou baaaaastard." When we spoke about the hand he said he had intended to call a river bet considering how many draws had missed, though whether he follows through with that when facing a large barrel is hard to say. Despite the result, I still don't mind the river check.
My double-barrel hand was the last large one of the night, and I bagged up 232,500 going into day four. Going into day four is comforting, because it's kind of the freeroll day. You've already cashed and now it's time to accumulate in an attempt at making a final table run, but it's not close enough for any tension to build about the size of the equity in each pot. You just kind of kick it, and hope you're not one of the unfortunate many who will take a tournament crippling pre-flop cooler that was unpreventable because the average stack has shortened so much.
All three of us that made it through day one were still alive and returned on Friday to a field that contained 49 players. I got a pretty good table draw from the looks of things, but there was still David Williams across the table, Will Reynolds on my immediate right, and a short stacked David Pham on my immediate left. There were a number of short-stacked players on the table along with him, which created the dynamic for my first big pot of the day, which happened a couple orbits in. At 3,000-6,000 and eight handed Will raised under the gun to 13,500 with about 450 in his stack, and I called next to act with 230 in mine and the QsQh. David Pham called behind with about 130 in his stack, and when it folded to the big blind he shoved for 140,000 total. Will thought it over for a moment and folded, and after taking a couple beats in hopes of inducing The Dragon I announced all in. David looked at the situation strangely and seemed to consider getting it in, but he decided to fold and when the big blind exposed his hand I saw I was in great shape against JhTh. The flop came J93 rainbow, but the turn and river were both harmless and I was now holding just under 400,000.
I played for a little while longer on that table, then we were broke and I was sent to another good looking table. I had Allen Kessler sat on my immediate left, who up until this tournament took enormous glee in pointing out that I had yet to cash a WPT tournament whenever I saw him. He was grinding a short stack as per usual and we began messing with each other pretty quick. He's got a damn fine sense of humor for a nit. I was pretty active on the softer table, and when I opened AQo in mid position to 13,000 with Allen sitting behind, he jammed his stack of 46,500 in after me. After a fold, an old and very weak player on the button with something like 250-300 in his stack cold called the shove. It folded back to me and I had a decision to make. I could just jam, but if the old dude had flatted a huge hand I was screwed, and there was some risk he flatted something like AK or JJ because he wasn't quite sure what else to do, and when I shoved would eventually call. He didn't seem to like investing many chips without something solid. I figured he was so passive that if I called and the flop bricked and I checked, if he bet he would certainly have it. If he checked back, I could bet almost every turn small and fuck him up. It was also the lower variance route at a pretty soft table, so I set the necessary 31,500 out and we went to a flop. The flop came 953 and when I checked to him he checked. The turn was a 6 and now I stacked up a bunch of gray 5,000 chips totaling 55,000 and dropped them into the pot, but did it so they would collapse and slide out in a flat row difficult to count because I knew he was not the type to ask about the amount and think what it indicates. He instantly folded and when Allen exposed AJ I just needed to fade three outs. The river bricked and when Allen asked the other guy what he had he said it was QJs. Allen felt that in a perfect world, the guy should knowingly bet the flop, causing me to fold and him to be awarded the pot when his AJ holds up over queen-high. This is why whenever possible, I make a point of knowing what people do not know, but if I knew he was cold-calling with stuff like QJ I would just shove pre.
On the opposite side of Allen's vacated seat and looming with a big stack of 900,000 was David Williams. Although I had position on him, much of the rest of the table were better targets and since I never found anything I especially liked against him when he opened I hadn't gotten tangled up. On his right was a short-stacked Dee Dozier, who the WPT was certainly crossing their fingers would run to the final table considering her bubbly personality and model looks. The three of us made conversation as David and I beat up on the table and Dee looked for opportunities to shove pre-flop with dead money in the pot. It wasn't until deep into the 4,000-8,000 level that I got involved in a pot with either of them. With 445 in my stack and still about 900 in his, David raised the button to his standard open of 20,000. In the small blind with 8c7c I made it 55,000, and when the big blind folded David asked about the sizing and then called. The flop came 8h6h2d and I fired 50,000. David again looked over the sizing of the bet and called. The turn was the 5h and I wasn't quite sure what to do. A conversation with Chewy and deeper thought under less pressure would reveal that a bet is better for a number of reasons. It gains value from some hands, and blocks things like ace-high with a heart from getting to the river cheaply and scooping the pot. It prevents me from facing two barrels from a fairly wide range, the second of which will be hard to call on many run-outs. And if I bet and get shoved on I can feel pretty good about folding. Unfortunately, I checked at the time, and David checked behind. The river was the Ks and we both checked again, and when David saw my hand he was disappointed and flashed red sevens.
Not long after out-flopping David our table broke, and I was sent to one with David Pham on my left and eventually, Luckychewy on his left. There was also James Dempsey across the table with a mountain of chips, and he's a man who likes to play a fair few hands. The first relevant pot I played at the table began with a player on the cut-off open shoving for 110,000 at 5,000-10,000 blinds. The button folded, and with 450 I reshoved 44 in the small blind with David Pham sitting on about 250 in the big. David folded and when the cut-off exposed A3o I was feeling real good. The flop came 249, but the turn brought his needed 5 and when the river came a K I was sliding off a fifth of my stack to him.
I hung around the area of 400 for a while, and because the Bellagio has you redraw every time you lose nine players deep in the money, I was given a new table at 27. There were plenty of familiar faces, including Luckychewy, David Steike, Antonio Esfandiari, and Will Reynolds. Fortunately, my first big pot developed against an unknown on my right, who was definitely less experienced than much of the table. At 6,000-12,000 and holding 900 in his stack, he opened in mid-position-one to 30,000. I called with 400 in my stack and AhQd behind him and Will called behind me. Everyone else folded and we were dealt a KhTh4h flop. The original raiser bet 60,000 and I thought over my raise size. I had about ~370 behind, and I thought if I shoved this particular player might perceive it as semi-bluffy, so a smaller and strange sizing seemed more appropriate, even though I felt that would be pretty transparent to Will. It didn't really matter though, as at the point I've raised Will and I are getting it in no matter what if he has a big hand. I elected to make it 160,000, and after a quick fold from Will the player first to act went deep into the tank and tried getting me to talk to him. I was without words. He asked about how much I had left and mumbled about my sizing and what I could have, then eventually found a fold.
As play continued into the evening players steadily fell off. The table had become seven handed when I had my first confrontation with Chewy. He was on the button and with perhaps 800 to my 610. The blinds were still 6-12, and when it folded to him on the button he made it 25,000 to go. The small blind folded and in the BB I held AcQd. I decided that against Chewy, I could just three-bet pre and jam on him if he went to four and feel just fine about it. I made it 65,000 and Chewy considered his options then decided to call. The flop came Ah 3h 4s and I fired 60,000 at him. Chewy thought only briefly then called, leading to a 2s on the turn. I decided not to do anything weird with two flush draws out there and doubted Chewy was pulling a float with the intention to bluff me, so I bet 140,000 with the intention of getting it in. Chewy didn't think too long before giving up.
Once we had been reduced to 18 we were again redrawn to new tables. It was not an easy situation. James Dempsey was in seat two, Kyle Julias in four, Vanessa right next to me, Soi Nguyen with a mountain on my left, and Chewy right behind him. But the first big pot I played developed against Anthony Yeh, a guy who reported for Pokernews that I'd met but never played against. In mid position he opened to 26,000 with about a million in his stack, and when it folded to me in the big blind and 700 in mine, I made it 70,000. He thought a bit and made the call. The flop came Th 5c 2h. I bet 80,000 and he called. The turn was the Ac. I feel like against most pros you have any history with you need to fire that card for value since it's a bluff card people often represent, but I'd never played Anthony and thought he may take it more truthfully and just fold his pairs. I checked and he checked back. I think betting is probably better, as does Chewy. The river was the 5h and I led small for 125,000 hoping to get called by worse pairs. He thought for quite some time, then folded what he later told me was sevens.
For a moment, I was sitting on 900,000 myself and very comfortable, but the descent began soon after. An interesting spot developed pre-flop against Vanessa and Soi. With 900 herself, Vanessa opened to 26,000 on the button. I had AsQs in the small blind, and since the table was new and I hadn't developed much dynamic with Vanessa, I decided that if I three-bet to say 70, and Vanessa went 140ish, I could never be content with not getting it in, but it seemed like an awful lot of chips with minimum history. However, if I called and Soi decided to three bet in position, it may induce Vanessa to believe Soi thinks I'm flatting too wide and three-betting more often as a bluff, causing her to widen her four-bet range, and making a jam over that bet more profitable. Additionally, because I would be jamming over so much action, my hand would look bigger than it actually was. And besides, if I got called I had AQs, I was sucking out for sure.
Soi did his part in participating with my plot by raising to 72,000, but Vanessa failed at hers and folded. I really didn't know very much about the way Soi played, but I didn't think getting it in so deep could be right and I was content to call him down on many run-outs. I made the call and we saw a 422 rainbow flop. I checked and fairly quickly called when Soi bet 75,000. The turn was a 6 and we both checked. The river brought a very ugly K, and when I checked Soi mulled it over then bet 135,000. I thought Soi would bet the turn almost every time he had a pocket pair, and would check his bluffs because my hand kind of looks like a pair itself and isn't going to fold on a six. I also thought the king was a pretty good looking card for him to fire with his bluff range, so I stacked up the necessary chips and called. He tabled KQo and I winced and mucked my hand. "Did you have ace-queen?" asked Vanessa. "Something like that" I replied.
I was sitting with about 620,000 going into the last level of the night, 8,000-16,000. The first hand I played at the level came when Vanessa opened with about 800 in mid position and I found KQo behind. I couldn't flat, but only one person on the table had a jamming stack and mine was not that shallow to jam against if I three-bet small. Plus I had two blockers to good hands and Vanessa opens plenty. She went to 35,000 and I popped it to 80,000. It folded to James Dempsey in the small blind and he asked about both my stack and hers. He considered the acquired information for some time, then very reluctantly folded. When the action came back to Vanessa she was only silent briefly before she said all in. I slid my hand towards the muck with James laughing at me.
About an orbit later the previous hand became relevant. I was down to about 500,000 and the action folded to James in mid position who opened to 35,000. When it folded to me in the small blind I found AcQc and decided it was get-in time. I stared at him for a second, then raised it up to 90,000. Soi folded behind, and James asked about what I had behind. He glanced down at his own chips, doing a little mental count, then looked back at mine and said "All in". "Yea, I call" I said. I exposed my hand and James meekly tossed over 4c4h. "Oops, you owned me" he said. "We'll see, I may have owned myself." The flop came Th5c3c and the sweat was on. The temperature increased on a Jd turn, but with the harmless 3h on the river I was eliminated in 18th place, good for a little under $32,000 and a dent in the make-up.
The WPT could ask for little more out of the eventual final table. Headlining was defending champion Antonio, along with Chewy, Vanessa, James, and Jacksonville final tablest Vitor Coelho. I was doing my usual online stream duties with David 'Doc' Sands and Dan O'brien. The early action was unlike anything I've ever seen at a six handed final table, and in quick succession four players were eliminated in under 90 minutes. Soi Nguyen and James Dempsey squared off heads up coming in almost dead even in chips. A little after heads up began I was told by one of my producers that Vince had contracted food poisoning and couldn't finish the broadcast, so I was being taken out of the back room and brought into his seat next to Mike to finish the show. The two of us sat side by side jabbering away as Soi beat James down to just 3.5 million of the 16.5 in play, but then witnessed the tides suddenly turn so suddenly that Dempsey had gone from crippled to tournament champion within an hour. He took home $821,000, and after my time on the table with him I can say he's a very deserving champ and an entirely likable guy.

21Sep/11Off

Legends of Poker 2011

from Bond18 . 21 September, 2011 6:34 pm.

We made our way to California on August 24th by way of car. The WPT had naturally provided a flight, but Chewy said he wanted to drive and Choppy hadn't booked a ticket, so I figured I might as well jump in the car and join them. I fell asleep an hour into the ride and woke up to the evening sun as we approached the highways of Los Angeles. We were fortunate to dodge major traffic in our direction, and made it to my hotel in a timely manner.

I was dropped at the Embassy Suites in Downey California, where both the WPT staff and many of those playing in the tournament were staying. Chewy and Matt didn't book early enough to obtain a room there, and instead decided to stay at Commerce. In the room I unloaded my things then took a taxi to the casino so I could buy in before play began as I thought there was potential for congested morning registration. Choppy joined me there after sorting things at this hotel, and after we dropped off our respective $3,700 at the cashier we found some dinner. I made myself get to bed at a reasonable hour as I had to be up in the morning.

I was at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens at 10:30 the next day to prepare for a press conference the WPT was holding in regards to the changes they'd made in season ten. I hung out in the audience and watched the players trickle in as the hour approached one. I stayed up until the point that Sexton announced "Shuffle up and deal!" then scampered between a sea of tables and people over to my seat. I found myself mostly unfamiliar with my opponents, except for the always jovial Dan O'brian across the table. There were at least a couple dudes on the table that required only 10 minutes of observation to confirm they were stone cold dead money (and two seconds to suspect it). We began play with 30,000 in chips, and I got myself involved early.

At 50-100 blinds and everyone still holding their starting stack I called an UTG open in MP1 with KhJh. The BB came along for the ride and we saw a flop of Ah 7h 2c. When the BB checked UTG bet 525, I called, and the BB folded. The turn was the 5h and the player UTG now fired 1,600 at me. I called, and we saw a Jd river. He bet out 2,600 and I considered my raise size. I figured there probably weren't many hands that could call a large raise, so I went to 7,000 (though it could be argued that only the stronger hands in his range will ever call the raise, and therefore it might as well be larger, but he was a random to me so I thought he might bet-call too wide). Apparently, the player UTG failed to understand that I raised and tabled his hand, a top set of aces. The dealer then informed him there had been a raise, so he glanced over at me and said "That's fine, I call!" excitedly. I tabled my flush, and took the pot from the deflated man.

I continued winning small pots between major hands, and made banter with the affable Allen Carter across the table. Much of the action was loose and exactly what you would hope for in a $3,500 tournament, but there was a young guy a few on my left who was playing a thinking TAG game. At 100-200 we played a hand together where I raised Ah8h on the CO to 400 and he called out of the BB. The flop came As Qc Ac and he check-called a bet of 525 from me. The turn was a 5s and again he check-called against a bet of 1,275. The river brought the flush completing 7c and he now donked out 3,000. I thought it was a very awkward spot, but from what I'd seen of his play I didn't think he would necessary check-call two streets on a strong queen then suddenly decide to donk a flush card as a bluff when he had that much show-down value. I thought it was hard for him to get to the river without a draw, an ace, or a decent queen and if I don't think the queen is betting, I should probably fold to the aces or flushes. So I folded, but I felt a bit gross about it because young guys do weird shit against each other in cut-off vs big-blind poker.

Outside the trips set back, I seemed to win a ton of the pots I entered, often by making enough showdown value or draw equity to keep betting at it and eventually take it down. I hadn't gotten very aggressive with many three or four bets, but with about 48,000 in my stack I took a shot at Dan O'brian, who slightly covered me. At 100-200 O'brien opened UTG to 400. Dan opens pretty damn wide and was certainly doing so at this table, though not on a crazy level. The next two to act called him, both of which seemed like more recreational players who would be calling too wide. On the hijack I made it 2,000 with Kc8c, in a spot where I felt that if I was going to make the squeeze 3-bet, I should probably know that Dan recognizes how good a spot it is and be prepared to go five to his four. When it folded back to Dan, he glanced at our respective stacks, then announced raise and made it 5,600. Both players between us folded, and when it came back to me I reached for my 5,000 chips and made it a total of 12,200. What I failed to anticipate, is that Dan gave me enough credit to sense the 5-bet spot, and knew that he shouldn't 4-bet if he wasn't willing to go to six. After a moment he announced all in, and I didn't bother wasting much time in the tank before I dropped my hand in the muck.

After losing a quarter of my stack to Dan things went quiet for a while. Any time I played a pot it seemed to be against Dan and he pretty much always won them with aggression I couldn't call. The antes came into play and I won or lost small pots here and there, but very little changed for several levels and I essentially went card dead. I didn't play another major pot until 300-600, when I called a raise from the player on the cut-off who made it 1,300 when holding 8h9h in the BB with 29,000. The cut-off was new to the table holding 40,000 in chips, and I was mostly unfamiliar with his play. The flop came a perfect 8d 6h 2h and after I checked he bet 1,400. I elected to go with a small check-raise because I think it looks kind of full-of-shit on a semi-raggy board, and it gives him room to do something spewy or make loose calls. And if he wants to get in a raising war, well, no dramas there. I made it 3,600, and after staring me down a moment he called. The turn brought the 7d, and I bet 5,200 (If you think your opponent is more likely to be floating than calling down wide or drawing, then checking turn seems preferable, though I had no reason to assume that with this guy). The cut-off called and we saw a Kc river. I didn't really think I could get value with a bet, especially as all I had behind was a little under pot, so I checked. He checked behind and when I tabled my hand he mucked.

I mostly hung tight during the last level though I won a small pot off Darren Elias, who recently arrived to the table on my left. Going into the last hands of the evening I peeked down at a pair of jacks in mid position with about 47,000 in my stack. I made it 1,300 and it folded to a very loose-passive player on the button, who called. Dan was in the small blind with a stack of about 90,000, and made it 6,400. I knew after our day together there was no way in hell I was doing anything but making a four bet and calling a shove, so I made it 13,200 after glaring at him for a moment. The button folded, and after glaring back Dan announced that he was all in. I shrugged and said "Well, guess I call" then tabled my hand. Dan tabled his kings and gave me a sympathetic look. The board bricked out and Dan accumulated the huge pot. I only had a few minutes to kill before the end of play, and when it was done I found Dan and hung out with him for a while. We spoke about the hands we played together, and I told him that I thought he'd be quite good at doing the online streaming and asked if he'd like to come in the booth if he was staying around Los Angeles during the final table. He said that he'd very much like to, assuming he wasn't playing at it.

I was back at the Bike the next afternoon to do it all over again. Not surprisingly, I was mostly unfamiliar with my table, though I had Adam Geyer sitting on my immediate right, which is where you prefer someone like him. Play was loose early, and although I made a couple hands I lost medium sized pots with them when I faced a ton of aggression on dry boards by a man of perhaps 50 sitting in the two-seat. He steadily gathered chips from the table, and I didn't see him turn over any air until much later in the day. My stack bled from 30 thousand to 20 without winning a significant pot, but at the first level with antes I finally connected. At 100-200 25 the younger player UTG made it 525. It folded to the button who made the call, and I threw 325 more in from the BB with 6d5d. The flop came Kh 8s 4d and when I checked UTG bet 1,000. The button folded and I decided to float out of position with the gut-shot and backdoor flush draw. The turn was a Jc and when I checked he checked behind. The river eliminated the need to decide on a bluff size when it came the 7d. I thought that if I checked on all three streets my hand might look like a small to mid pair, and that my opponent may fire again with his bluffs and occasionally bet-call with his showdown value range because a river check-raise looks like bullshit coming from me after my line. I checked a third time, and UTG placed a bet of 2,500 in the pot. I thought matters over for a while, then went for my chips and made it 8,000. The UTG tanked it for quite some time, perplexed by my unusual line that seemed to represent very little. Eventually he decided to call, and mucked his hand in frustration when he saw my straight.

After rivering the straight it seemed that every pot I got involved in was against the late-thirties Asian guy two on my right. He opened the button to 500, I made it 1,600, he called. I took it down with a bet of 1,500 on the flop of Jh9h7h. He opened button to 500, I made it 1,600, he called. The flop came T74 with two clubs and I bet 1,500. He called and we saw a Jd turn that I fired 3,800 at, leading to another call. The river was an offsuit ten, and I check-folded to a 10,000ish chip bet from him. He opened to the minimum on the button for 600, I called in the BB. Flop KJx and we both checked. I bet 900 on a rag and offsuit turn, which he called. The river bricked, and he folded after I bet 2,500.

However, the most interesting hand involving that player was one where I wasn't involved. I missed the preflop action, but at 150-300 and on a flop of J83 rainbow the Asian guy got check-raised to 7,000 by the 50 something guy in seat two when there was just two or three-thousand in the pot. The Asian dude jammed for about 7,000 more and the guy in seat two threw his hands up in despair, considered the math, and called with Q9dd. The Asian guy tabled AQo and I was entirely confused as to why that happened because the guy in seat two hadn't seemed that crazy.

Which leads us up to my final hand, against the same Asian guy. During the first few hands of the 200-400 level he opened in early position to 1,400 with about 40,000 in his stack. The larger than average raise was unusual for him, and with 33,000 behind I called in mid position holding Th9h. Everyone else folded, and we saw a flop of 5h Td Qh. When he checked, I elected for something of an odd play and checked behind. I felt that for him to size it larger than average pre and check the flop, he likely either had something rather strong that was trapping, or something rather weak that intended to check-fold or just check-call once. I thought that checking back may induce him to bluff into my second pair, and in the event I hit my flush and got the opportunity to put in a raise my hand would look under-represented, as most people are betting a flush draw in position there. Plus, I obviously didn't think I could get three streets with second pair, and I felt that if I were to get two, checking the flop was how to do it. The turn brought the 7h, and again he checked. Now I bet 2,500, and after thinking for a brief moment my opponent check-raised to 6,000. Most certainly a confusing line, but I thought it improbable he would check the flop with a huge draw and then check the turn again when it hit--though it was possible. I wasn't quite sure what his range was for this move, but I thought even if he somehow had pulled this with showdown value he might call a small three bet then check-decide on the river. I made it 12,500, and he stared at me a moment then physically crammed his stack in the middle. I called rather quickly, and saw that I was drawing dead to the AhJh, ending my tournament.

It was a Saturday in Los Angeles, and I had an evening to kill. I'd been texting with a girl I knew who lived in the area that wanted to go out that evening, so I informed her I'd be available. We'd been to bed together a couple times during our two year history, though I could never be sure whether she wanted to hang out as just friends or get sexual when she made the effort to meet up. She was a fun girl, but definitely erratic and I approached most of our "dates" assuming nothing would happen but knowing it certainly could and never being bothered either way.

That evening, she drove the approximately 45 minutes from Northern LA to Downey and met me at the hotel. She said she was keen to get some hookah and drinks. I told her there was a hookah bar literally one block over, but both they and every other hookah bar I found in the area didn't serve alcohol. She decided we'd amend this by going to a liquor store and purchasing a collection of airplane mini bottles that she stashed in her purse and poured into our sodas at the bar. She seemed to be in a better place mentally than when last I saw her, and was more of the bubbly and outgoing girl I remembered from when we first met. As always, she was hyper-sexual, but I've become so accustomed to her saying those kind of things with no intention of following through that I literally ignore 90% of such comments and proceed in conversation as if I'd never heard her.

A couple hours into our smoking and drinking she said "I think I want to stay over tonight."

"OK" I said flatly, assuming this was just another Jon Kylesque not-intended-to-be-factual-statement.

"Is that alright?" she inquired, causing me to realize she was being serious this time.

"Oh, oh right. Yea of course, naturally I'd encourage that."

We finished our drinks then left and made the brief stroll from the bar to the hotel. She told me she'd packed an overnight bag that was in her car, so we picked it up and proceeded to the room. We had a drink on the couch together where we chatted for a period, then began making out and decided to take things over to the bed. We lost our clothes in short order, and soon had our hands all over each other's crotches. This particular young woman is only capable of reaching orgasm through external stimulation and even then it's rather difficult, so I got to work on her with my fingers and tongue. When my mouth got tired I went back to the fingers, and furiously gyrated my pointer over the specific area that she directed me too in tiny circles. This persisted for approximately half an hour. I feel like most of the time people make a claim about the duration of sexual service/accomplishment they're exaggerating, but I feel confident in my assessment because Pandora radio was playing and I recall hearing about eight to ten songs while I was at work. Eventually she let out a deep sigh, stated that she'd come close three times, but just couldn't get there. I said that was too bad, then reached for the condom I'd pulled from a drawer and set on the nightstand.

"No, I don't feel like it anymore" she stated.

"Ah well…alright." I shrugged and laid back down on the bed, then added "Do you mind giving me a hand here though?"

"What like, a handjob?"

"Yea."

"No...I don't want to."

"Okay?"

"I mean, I could give you a handjob or blowjob or something, but my heart wouldn't be it, so, it wouldn't be genuine."

"Uhhhhmm…okaaaaaay?"

"…Are you mad at me? I feel like your mad."

"No, I'm not mad, but I'm a guy so I'm really horny and there's not much I can do about that."

"Oh…this is pretty awkward."

"Yea. It is."

"I think…I think I should go."

"Okay."

She got up, put her clothes back on, and went to the other side of the suite to repack her overnight bag. I realized she'd left her scarf in the room so I took it out to her then returned to the bedroom, opened the door to the balcony, and began frantically hitting the pipe I'd brought with me. Oh for my lovely, intoxicating, accommodating pipe. It never does anything but encourage my hitting it.

I've never had a sexual experience quite like that. It's not so uncommon that women you haven't slept with will cut you off when you're making out on a bed or couch when they realize they're not ready to go that far yet, but nothing comes anywhere close to the strangeness of that night, and certainly not with anyone I'd already been with. Who knows.

I had Sunday for myself, and spent it reading and smoking in the hotel room. I made sure to get to bed early, as we had an 8:30am call time at The Bike the next day for a "Best of Season IX" episode we were filming. We began filming around 9:00am that day, but fortunately I didn't have many lines and my job was predominately to sit there and wear a suit. My attitude has remained unchanged since my college days at a theatre major, when I aimed for the fewest amount of lines and least amount of responsibility possible, mostly to allow me more time to play online poker in the back of class with my laptop on silent. In retrospect, my professors must have found all that clicking suspicious.

Tuesday was the final table and my first time attempting the online streaming broadcast. I was under the direction of two producers: Jeff, who works full-time at the World Poker Tour, and Ian, who was contracted specifically for the live stream project and whose thick Irish accent takes a moment to decipher. I shot a few introductory pieces around the Bike with Ian, then near the start of the final table found Dan O'brien and proceeded with him to the small back room we were sequestered in. We had a monitor to watch the action and once play started, we were off and rolling.

This season, the WPT hired Ali Nijad to host and coordinate the final tables. This was done to keep the final tables running smoother, finish quicker, entertain the audience, and because having Ali around is never a bad idea. He filtered all the necessary information from the table to Dan and I, and we were usually able to have a pretty complete idea on the action in front of us. Throughout the evening a slew of different guest-hosts joined me in the booth, including Live at the Bike commentator Bart Hansen, WPT Borgata winner Dwyte Pilgrim, and right after he was knocked out from the final table, Owais Ahmed. It was a sweet list of guys who are a combination of great poker players and great talkers, but Owais was particularly excellent for transferring straight from busting into exceptionally articulate and thoughtful commentary. The evening ended with a return of Dan in the booth, and I feel that of everyone I worked with that night, he and I had the most natural and humorous conversation. Play finished around midnight, which was a reasonable hour compared to many final tables of last season. The eventual champion was Will "The Thrill" Failla, famous for his gregarious personality and immaculately maintained shaved legs. When you see him wearing shorts at the final table, now you know why.

I returned to the hotel very late after taking some brief meetings after the final table, and although I was starving I no longer had the energy to make the trip across the street to Denny's. Instead I crawled into bed, and told myself that I'd take care of packing for my evening flight to Paris in the afternoon.

Categories: Uncategorized .
4Aug/11Off

WSOP 2011 Report 5

from Bond18 . 4 August, 2011 6:25 pm.

I returned to play on Saturday the 2nd of July, for the $1,000 no limit event at the WSOP. It was of course another huge field event, where nearly everyone on your table was going to be an unknown during the early stages of the tournament. It was also the last $1,000 event before the main, which insured the maximum amount of recreational players would be present.

My starting table was pretty loose early. I found a few hands to play that won small pots, then played my first major hand at the second level of 25-50. I raised 45ss on the cut-off with a little over 3,000 in my stack and got a single call from the BB, who was unknown to me and roughly as deep. The flop came 678 with a flush draw, because it is a very easy game. The BB checked and I bet 225. He called and we saw an off-suit king turn. When he checked I bet 625 and he check-raised for the majority of his stack. I stuck the rest in and he called with 87s. The river was a harmless deuce and I had chips early.

I ran the six thousand up to seventy-five hundred without much difficulty. I was finding a combination of hands and spots that were easy to bluff weak players out of. My table was broke and I was sent to the far corner of the room, to seat 10 of table 1. I found Antonio Esfandiari waiting for me who upon my arrival blurted "Superstar! I'm ready for some Lodden action!"

"I'd rather just, ya know...keep my money" I replied. We chatted across the table for a while, but our playful words ceased when we were forced to play cards with each other.

At 100-200 I raised AKo in late position to 450 with about 6,000 in my stack. It folded to Antonio in the SB who made the call with a stack that slightly covered mine. The flop came 663 and when Antonio checked I bet 575. Antonio called rather quickly and we saw an A turn. When he checked I fired out something like 1,600 and he thought for a while and called. The river brought a Q, and when Antonio checked I sat there for a moment then stacked up my chips and shoved. Antonio went deep into the tank, and tried talking to me but received no answer. "Well, you just can't be bluffing" he announced to the table as he contemplated what to do. Eventually he stacked up the necessary amount and dropped it into the pot. When I tabled the AK he mucked and I silently assembled up my new chips. He busted not long after, wished me luck, and calmly left.

Perhaps 20 minutes before dinner I began to feel sick to my stomach. I didn't have time to get breakfast in the morning, so I left a few minutes early before the first break and tried to grab food at the Sao Paulo cafe. Unfortunately they were closed, so I went to the only available option at 2pm; the American Bar and Grill. I ordered a rather simple burger cooked medium and thought nothing of it until that unsettling moment not long before the dinner break. I decided the situation was urgent enough that I needed to get to the bathroom immediately, and spent the next half hour in there with what seemed to be very mild food poisoning. When it was over I lurched out of the bathroom towards Gaylord's to meet my friend Matt "Choppy" Kay and ordered the most mild thing on the menu in an attempt to restore my entirely depleted digestive system.

When we returned to play the blinds were 200-400. My stack drained by losing some small and straight forward pots. For the most part I was very card dead and entirely quiet, and did almost nothing aggressive. Near the end of the level it folded to the player on my right who opened one off the hijack to 1,200. With about 7,000 behind I jammed 44 on him with a bunch of very weak-tight players on my left. He had about 15,000 in his stack and had been rather chatty all day. I hadn't gone after him at all, but I still think it's a questionable shove because he went with a full three-X raise and I wasn't certain what that meant out of him. I believe before had opened to something like 1,100 or 1,050 and when inexperienced players suddenly go with a three-X it's often a sign of a stronger hand. It certainly turned out that way in this case, because he snap called me with kings and when I failed to hit I was sent home.

Sunday was the second day-one of the $1,000, and with nothing interesting on at the Venetian I was given an off day. Ryan Firpo and the boys from BOOM came over to conduct what was likely our longest and most thorough interview through filming. We tried to go out for dinner when we finished but were suddenly caught in some kind of freak downpour that quickly flooded the streets in the area we were in. We took refuge in a diner that served truly terrible food, and choked down our meal with winced eyes.

I certainly didn't bother playing a tournament on the 4th of July, and spent it at the house party of Dani Stern and the boys from Two Months Two Million. They were great hosts, and I gorged myself to the point of having a nap at 6pm out on one of the lawn chairs that lasted until I was awoke by an assault in the form of silly-string shooters with the BOOM guys filming it. I sort of shrugged it off, figured it was a lot better than what happened if you passed out at a college party, and returned to my food coma.

The next morning I was having breakfast across the street from our house with Timex and Chewy. We decided to take our time that day and show up nice and late to the $1,500. A couple girls sat at a nearby table and I came under the impression that one of them was making eyes at me. After finishing our meal and exiting the restaurant I remarked to the two of them that I really ought to go say something to her but couldn't be fucked doing so.

"No, go do it" said Timex.

"Nah come on man not right now."

"No, I want to see you do this one."

"Dude, I'm not even sober. We have a tournament to play. No."

"Go back in."

"...God damn it."

I returned to the restaurant and received a very confused look from the manager and waitress at the front, who seemed unsure whether I perhaps left something behind or was coming back to apologize for a dine and dash upon second consideration. I went over to the girl's table, sat down, and recanted the last 45 seconds or so of my life. I said that I'd gone outside, remarked to my friends that the girl in the colorful dress was really attractive, was peer pressured into returning to the restaurant after multiple attempts to wuss out, and now was here in front of them as a result. "It's a good thing you did that" said her friend.

Truth is, even after having doing those types of things for almost three years now the discomfort of cold approach has not entirely subsided. It's something I need to set my mind to, and usually I'm too preoccupied with whatever I'm doing to try and snap out of it so I can chat up some girl that just walked by while going about my day. Even when you're doing it regularly the anxiety sort of regenerates each night, and the next day the first couple attempts will likely be sloppy. Unfortunately for me in particular, I find that if one of the first couple doesn't go that well my heart rate cranks up and I begin noticeably perspiring, which makes me self conscious about sweating too much, which causes me to sweat more. Still, it beats when I was in high school and girls made me so nervous it was a major concern that if I were to hold hands with a date mine would drench hers.

We went straight from the restaurant to the Rio and late registered. The three of us were made to linger around the tournament floor through the second break as we waited to be seated. Once the bracelet ceremony had finished we were dealt in at 75/150. My table was mostly unknown to me, and because I was starting with 30 bigs and no antes I had a pretty straight forward job. I slowly increased my stack leading up to the dinner break, but never really chipped up that heavy. A little after dinner I got my fairly short stack in with AK against queens and lost the flip. It was a rather generic end to my preliminary play at the WSOP, and after bricking them all I crossed my fingers that the main would somehow be the tournament that bailed me out.

A number of us in the house had decided to play Day 1B of the main, which was on Friday. That left us with Wednesday and Thursday off to enjoy with no need to play poker. On Wednesday afternoon I took Choppy down to the strip to chat up girls with me. He wound up introducing me to a very charming and ambitious young woman at Starbucks named April (name changed even though she encouraged me to use her real one, because at this point I can never quite be sure of the domino effect my writing can cause after publication. Which reminds me; Stephanie, while I'm flattered you proliferate my blog around your office, I think you'll find that there are more effective means of career advancement than printing it out and writing condescending notes about your co-workers on top, particularly given her behavior in that entry was really not all that scandalous. Thanks for reading though!) He approached her as she walked by us exiting the store, and after some banter brought her over to sit with us and noticeably backed off so that I could pick up the slack. At first I was hesitant because I didn't want to steal, but eventually it became clear that was his intention and after discovering we had quite a bit in common I took her number before she returned to work. Later that evening we headed out to Sapphire strip club for the annual Bluff Magazine party. Ryan had wanted to do some filming about the lifestyle aspect of poker for BOOM, and I always appreciate the chance to hang out and see people from the industry. That said, while I was thrilled to talk to girls earlier in the afternoon the prospect of doing so at the club was entirely unappealing. I sort of lurked around and caught up with people I knew, occasionally doing a moment of interview work for Ryan and the cameras. He was rather confused as to why I wasn't talking to any girls, so I explained by pointing to my body and saying "Don't get me wrong, I'm all about this" then pointing to my head and adding "But I want some of fucking this!" I feel somewhat snobbish about my own mentality on the matter, but I've reached the point where if a girl lacks intelligence, taste, and tactful conversation then I'd rather just go home to the pipe and not be bothered. After Ryan had all the footage he needed we took the crew out to South Point casino for dollar bowling so we could hang out with some people as ballin as we are. I bowled in dress pants.

Thursday was spent in a flurry of activity. I began at the gym, then ferried Choppy, Timex, and Will Ma to the outlet mall North of the strip to play fashion consultant for the intellectually talented but sartorially inept Will. I left them early so I could get to the strip and meet Ryan for a couple hours of filming he needed. I had a date planned with April but had yet to finish the filming, so when she came to meet me I had to lead off with "Hi so, this is kind of random but…I have a documentary film crew with me." She was obviously surprised but seemingly unperturbed, and the five us walked over to the Wynn poker room for the 2+2 party. The crew was not allowed to film within the casino premises, so they departed and the two of us sat the bar until my friend Bryan Devonshire found us and insisted that we join him and his lovely fiance Cory for an ultra high stakes game of Chinese poker at two dollars a point. Because April had never played poker I was allowed to help arrange her hands when I finished setting mine, and after losing $60 doing so we were taken to dinner by the always charming Steven McLoughlin for somewhat business purposes at Carnevino in the Palazzo. The dinner didn't finish until one, and I hurried April back to her place so I could get myself home and asleep in time to get a full night's rest before the main.

The next morning a troupe of us left the house early to take our shot, with some more enthusiastic than others. I just wanted to get a soft table, as the quality in the main event varies tremendously. When I arrived it was like something out of a horrible pre-main event nightmare: Headphones in almost every ear, hoodies on multiple heads, Justin Bonomo across the table, young dudes who appeared to be from non-spewtastic European countries, and only one man above 30ish. I silently cursed my luck and watched in annoyance as near every hand went raise-fold-fold-fold or raise-3-bet-fold-fold-fold. Damn it, back in my day the main event had limping on day one.

About an hour into play we received the very good news that we were to break. I'd played almost zero hands, and was moved to a new table that looked more amicable and less experienced. I was a little card dead early and content to hang out watching how everyone played. I got involved in my first major pot mid way through the second level of the day. It folded to a guy who had been pretty tight and straight forward who raised to 500 on the cut-off. With about 27,000 for effective stacks and AdKh in the BB I made it 1,500. The cutoff quickly tossed in the necessary 1,000 and we saw a flop of Ah 7d 4h. I lead out for another 1,500 and after fumbling with his chips and debating his raise size for a while, the cutoff raised to 4,000. Given how he was playing I wasn't exactly thrilled about this, but I also wasn't about to fold at this stage so I tossed in the necessary 2,500. The turn brought the less than preferable Jc and I checked to him. He quickly bet out for 5,000 and I gave him one of my longer stare-downs of the series. He seemed very relaxed and comfortable, and I figured I was behind plenty of his range, so I dropped the hand.

I remained quiet through the next level, and got involved in a larger pot at the 150-300 stage against a man of perhaps 30 who had taken a number of bluff shots leading up to the hand. He seemed to play loose-aggressive but in a not quite thoughtful enough manner, and ran a few bluffs in poor spots. He also limped a fair bit, and began this hand by limping in middle position. I made it 1,100 on the button with Ah4c, and when it folded back to him he called. The flop was AdTs3c, and I bet 1,300 after he checked. He called pretty quick and when the turn brought the 2s we both checked. The river was the Js and he lead 1,600. I called and he tabled Q9dd.

Given that it was a mostly soft table in the main, I was opening a large percent of hands. I didn't go as berserk as a lot of guys do in the event, but I was naturally a lot looser than usual. I played a number of hands where I got to the flop, called one street, and then gave up. I had a pretty active image leading up to my next large pot, which was against the other guy on the table I could tell was professional and had done some light three street value betting against the guy who had attempted to bluff me. At 150-300-25 it folded to the hijack who raised to 800. I called on the button with about 19,000 in my stack and KhKs. The SB folded and the young guy in the BB came along with about 50,000 in his stack. We saw a flop of Th 8h 2s and when they both checked to me I bet 1,700. The BB called and the hijack folded. The turn brought a Qd, and after thinking a moment he checked. I went for my chips and dropped 4,200 in the pot. The BB thought things over a while then made the call. The river brought the flush draw completing 2h and when the BB checked I hesitated a while then stacked up my chips and moved in for 12,275. Considering his style of play, I thought most of the time he had a large combo draw he would take a more aggressive line on the flop, especially since the hijack was quite weak and I was likely betting that spot on the button pretty wide. I thought he was too good a player to check-call the turn with a small flush draw, so I believed most of his range was hands like AT, JT, QT, and QJ. He went deep into the tank and gave me a pretty long stare down. I sat motionless as I always do, begging for a call once I knew he was uncertain about his hand's strength. Finally, he stacked up the necessary chips and set them into the pot. I tabled my hand and he gave it a disappointed look then slid his towards the muck.

The somewhat thin value shove helped my table image, and I began to get pretty active again. I played a medium pot when I opened QJss in MP2 and the TAGish player two on my left made it 2,000 on me. We both had somewhere in the 40,000 area, and when it folded back to me I called. The guy had been somewhat active, but not hugely so and didn't seem that interested in taking gambles or running many bluffs. The flop came Q32 rainbow and I check-called a bet of 3,000. The turn was another 3, and when I checked he smoothly bet 6,000. I did the best I could to soul read him, determined I wouldn't feel comfortable calling the river and elected to fold. I just don't think a lot of guys in the main event are running heaps of multi barreling lines, so I feel okay making those folds to unknowns in the early days.

But folding to people is not always the move in the main event. Some people pick some ridiculous spots to bluff, and if you pay attention you know their tendencies and whether they like to make probing bets to "see where they're at". Late in the 150-300-25 level it folded to me with A4o on the button after UTG had limped in. UTG was perhaps 35, and playing very weird. He limped pretty often, liked to slowplay, and seemed to make bets without a solid plan for what would happen next. I made it 1,100 and when it folded back to him he called. The flop came J J 8 rainbow and when he donked out for 1,700 and I recall almost bursting into laughter because I thought the plausibility of his actually having a strong hand was absurd given the way he'd been playing. I called and we saw a 2 turn. He checked and when I calmly put 4,200 into the pot he folded rather quickly.

At the end of the level I managed to dodge a potential disaster. The player I had earlier folded ace-king against limped UTG, which was his first that I could remember. It folded to me in middle position with pocket queens and I made it 1,200. The action folded to the SB who sat there for a moment, counted down his chips, checked what we were playing, then shoved for about 10,000. The player UTG looked over at the bet, considered his options, and confidently announced that he was all in. "Okay then" I said, and quickly folded my hand. The SB tabled AKo and UTG turned up the aces he so clearly had, which held.

I had a moment of good fortune at the 200-400 level. I opened AK to 1,000 in early position and a fairly active player in middle position made it 3,000 with about 14,000 to start the hand. He'd been aggressive enough that I wasn't considering folding and jammed when the action came back around to me. He quickly called with kings, and after the board ran out 3TAQJ we chopped it up. The read from that hand became relevant in my next major one, when at the same level I made it 1,000 with Ad3d in MP1 and was called by the same player who was now on the cut-off with about 19,000. The flop came 5c 5s 6d and I bet 1,300. He made the call and we saw a Jd turn. I fired out for 3,000 and he thought a little and called. The river came the 7h, and I believed since he had 3-bet preflop with a big pair in a spot that was more likely to discourage action than the current one, most of his range should be hands like 77/88/99/TT. I was going to lose the times he had fives full or A6s, but I believed there was enough medium strength hands that a third barrel would work often. I bet 8,500 and he called pretty quick then tabled AJ. I think in the main event I should probably size all three streets larger so that the river is a shove, though I doubt he folds AJ to the line either way.

Near the start of the last level our table broke. I found myself at yet another very soft table, but I only played a few straight forward hands and lost them all without spewing. When we finally bagged up for the night, only 7,975 of my starting 30,000 remained.

I had the weekend mostly to myself, except for an 11am book signing for The Raiser's Edge with lead author ELKY. That dude cracks me up every time I talk to him, even though he's not really trying that hard to be funny. He was pimped out in a style only ELKY can pull off: a white jacket containing a long row of metal buttons with a sort of Asian influence, shining accessories all arranged and themed, usual sunglasses, and spiked up bleached blonde hair. I sat back and played second fiddle to him as book owners enthusiastically approached ELKY seeking an autograph then set their eyes upon me with a look of faint recognition. He's not only one of the most talented guys in the industry on the felt, but he's one of the most recognizable off it for his unique look, global presence, and sense of flair. In fact, at the end of the singing ELKY got up, fully buttoned his jacket, doused the book stand in gasoline, threw a match upon it, drove off into the Amazon room on a Harley laughing, incredulously proceeded to win the main event after just three days of play, and bet the entire winnings against Patrik Antonius in a tennis match held immediately after the final table which he won in straight sets. It was only after his final victory that he unbuttoned his jacket.

I returned to play on Tuesday the 12th, day 2B. Again I found myself at a table of mostly unfamiliar faces, though they were younger than the tables I'd had on day one. For the first couple of orbits I was card dead and did nothing. After having bled a little, I finally picked up a hand with 6,600 left in my stack at 250-500-50. A loose player in early position limped, and when it folded around to me in late position with AhKh I placed my whole stack in the middle. When it folded back to the limper he mulled it over for a while, made some remark about there being odds, then called and tabled 6d9d. The board ran out QJ5K3 and I was back to life with almost 30 bigs.

Things remained quiet for an orbit. I was watching my table closely, and soon found myself involved in a pot against one of the more active players on the table. He was a 30-something Indian guy who had made three 3-bets preflop already. His last one was on the button against a player in middle position which the opener called. The flop came KQQ and both players checked. The turn was a brick and the opener check-called a bet from the button. The river was another brick and when they both checked the opener's JJ was good. About an orbit after that hand I opened AK in early position to 1,200 and the same Indian guy made it 3,000 in late position. I had about 14,000 in my stack and when it folded back to me I moved in. He quickly announced call and tabled AA. Although the flop brought a king it would be the only to come, and I was out of the event. I wished the table luck, then went to the media booth in the Amazon room to repeat what's becoming my yearly tradition of going to sit with Dr. Pauly after I bust. I looked into the possibility of playing the $1,000 multi-entry event at Caesar's but people on Twitter were saying it was sold out. I decided to play the $5,000 at the Venetian the next day instead.

Timex and I arrived about an hour into play at the Venetian on Wednesday the 13th. We were both feeling drained from the series and agreed to let ourselves sleep then late register the event. I know late registering generally means getting a worse table, but I felt the rest was mandatory to play well. Much to my surprise, when I arrived at my table I found fortunate circumstances waiting for me. We were 10 handed and the only two people I knew on the table were Maria Ho and online player "NinjaNate". Everyone else was random and looked pretty unprofessional.

Our starting stack in the tournament was 25,000 and I came in at 75-150 blinds. I played a few small pots in the beginning, and although I was much more interested in battling the unknowns at the table it was against Maria that I played my first major pot. With 5h6h in MP1 I raised to 400. Maria called in late position, followed by the SB who also called. We saw a three way flop of 3s 4s 9d and when the SB checked I fired 650. Maria made it 1,375 and when the SB folded I called. The turn was an offsuit 5, and I check-called a bet of 1,850 from Maria knowing not only that I had numerous live outs against her value range, but a portion of her range was drawing hands that would have difficulty firing on a brick because she's smart enough to know I'm aware those missed hands are a decent part of her range. The river brought the Th, and when I checked Maria considered her options then checked behind. I tabled my hand and Maria mucked hers.

It turned out that my table was even softer than I could've hoped for. The most hilarious hand of note was watching a player in the SB open shove about 30,000 into a pot of perhaps 2,500 on AJ3 rainbow flop into three or four players in a raised pot, then tabling his top set of aces when everyone folded and saying "I didn't wanna see anymore cards." Although most of the table was playing fairly donkish, all three of us professionals failed to accumulate chips and exchanged knowing looks about the hands we were witnessing. I was pretty card dead pre and certainly wasn't flopping well, resulting in giving up most pots that saw any betting beyond the flop. I didn't play another major pot until hours later when we were at the 100-200-25 level, and again it was against Maria. It folded around to the hijack who limped for 200, and right behind him I raised to cutoff to 800 with AJo. It folded to Maria in the BB who called, and after the limper called too we saw a flop of Ad Kh 5h. Both of them checked to me and I flung out a bet of 2,000. Maria made the call and the limper folded. The turn was the annoying 5c and we both checked. The river was the curious 5s, and when Maria checked I debated what kind of sizing was most likely to get called and opted for something in the middle then fired in a bet of 4,500. She thought for a little while then assembled the necessary chips and put them in the pot. She mucked when I tabled my hand.

In between hands where I found just enough showdown value against Maria I mostly bled back chips to everyone else. I never really found any bluff situations I liked, occasionally got out of line with a 3-bet or squeeze preflop, and won almost zero pots with value hands. The only spot I found to get out of line was very similar to one I discussed earlier in this entry from the main event. It folded to the CO who raised to 1,025 at 200-400-50 and I called with ATo on the button with a stack of 22,000 that was covered by my opponents. The BB came along then led out on a QQ8hh flop for 1,600. Again I knew from the way he was playing it was very improbable that he was leading any good hands, so after the CO folded I made the call. The turn brought the 7h and when the BB checked I bet 4,000, leading to a tank fold from him.

Nothing happened through the rest of the level, and it wasn't until we returned from dinner at 300-600-50 that I played a large pot again. It folded to a young guy named Joe I'd had dinner with who opened in MP1 to 1,600. He was pretty active, and with 66 and about 30,000 effective I made the call in late position. It folded to Maria in the BB who moved in for 12,800 and after Joe folded I considered the math of the situation, realized it was about 11,000 to win 16,000 against an aggressive player smart enough to shove wide against such an active opener, and made the call. Maria had AQo and when the board ran out T7332 I had knocked out one of the few other pros on the table.

Unfortunately, making the table softer made it no more profitable for me. I continued to lose every small pot I played, and my stack remained above the 40,000 mark only briefly. At the end of the level I had about 35,000 left to my name, and we broke for 10 minutes at about 12:30 at night. I sucked down what was probably my fifth coffee for the day and told myself I just had to get through one more level to still be alive for the Summer. We returned to play at 400-800-75 and a couple orbits after we sat down I ran my first big bluff of the day. With about 35,000 in my stack I opened 22 in MP1 to 1,600 and a man of perhaps 40 called behind me. He'd been somewhat active over the course of the day, and both called preflop and peeled the flop very wide. He had run a very weird bluff checkraise in a three way pot against Maria and I much earlier in the day then failed to follow through on the turn or river, and had done a few other small weird things. I had been quiet for the level and had not run any lines that involved multiple streets of aggression for the whole day. We went heads up to a flop of Kh Th 6d and I fired out 2,200 in what was assuredly a poor spot to continuation bet. This type of guy just isn't folding enough and is going to occasionally take it away on future streets, and he also might check down with ace high on boards like this. The player in MP2 called, and when the turn brought the As I reached for chips and fired 5,400. He thought briefly then made the call. The river brought a 9d, and I figured that he had quite a few medium strength hands in his range that would just call the turn and fold the river like KQ,KJ, JT, QT, plus have a few that were drawing with showdown value like 5h6h or 9h7h that would snap fold. I lined up a bet of 13,500 and flung it in. He thought a little, shrugged, and announced that he was calling and tabled AJo. I winced and slid my hand towards the muck, annoyed at myself for having bet the flop in the first place.

I did what I could to keep my head above water and my stack around 20 big blinds. I lasted all the way until they announced that there would be just eight more hands. With six hands left in the night we played a hand that began with "Haffizle" moving in UTG for 12,300. It folded to the player in MP1 who had been riding a short stack for some time who announced that he was also all in for 16,000. I was a couple to the left with 16,000 and AKo, so naturally I shoved and started hoping I was up against two pairs under my hand. When everyone else folded the hands were exposed; 66 for Hafa and AK for the other short stack. The board ran out 743JJ and I was left with just a few thousand. I got it in with A9dd on one of the last hands of the night against JJ, failed to hit, and at 2:30am was finally finished playing poker for the Summer. Fortunately for me April was patiently waiting around the Venetian for me to finish, and we proceeded back to the Chewy manor so she could relieve the tension of my constant failure.

Days after everything ended I sat in the office of the house doing math with Mad Dog to figure out our financial circumstances and how much make up I had acquired in the year following the 2010 WSOP of poker. He too had entirely bricked out the series, and the tone around the house was one of seriousness and exhaustion. It turns out I had played 27 events over the course of the Summer, none of which I cashed in. The make up figure was a little above $213,000. It had been accumulated in the course of exactly 12 months.

~

I've never completely bricked a Summer before. If we want to get technical, I've come close to bricking an entire year; I have only one live tournament cash in those last 12 months. On one hand it's easy to shrug off because it's not actually my money, but on the other I feel the guilt of causing further financial strain on a friend whose Summer was as bad as mine.

Returning to normalcy after the series has been awkward. For my entire adult life, normalcy meant the online tournament grind, and even after eight years I still looked forward to it almost every day. While I knew it was all very tenuous for a variety of reasons, I never quite imagined that they'd just turn it off like a light switch and suddenly invalidate my career choice. When I became a professional gambler I accepted it came with the risk of potentially losing near everything, but I thought I'd at least get a once in a lifetime reckless experience to go along with "losing it all" instead of just waking up one day and finding out a bunch of assholes in suits decided it wasn't real anymore.

Long term, it doesn't really matter. If they take away one outlet for an obsessive work ethic then I'll just pour myself into all the others. I'm moving around with the World Poker Tour quite heavily this season, and will still play a moderate schedule of live poker. I just don't have it in me right now to go grind a bunch of small to mid stakes live cash games, so that idea is out. Instead, I've decided to focus myself on a creative project and write a book. I intend for it to only partially be about poker, and will be a combination of personal experience mixed with thorough research and detailed educational content. My goal is to get it in done in time to coincide with the release of BOOM. After everything that's happened, I rather like the idea of laying around reading and writing for months on end. It certainly beats the alternative of laying around, staring up at the ceiling, and debating which of us is higher.

Categories: Uncategorized .
4Aug/11Off

Mailbag: Playing Well

from Foucault . 26 July, 2011 6:25 pm.

I returned to play on Saturday the 2nd of July, for the $1,000 no limit event at the WSOP. It was of course another huge field event, where nearly everyone on your table was going to be an unknown during the early stages of the tournament. It was also the last $1,000 event before the main, which insured the maximum amount of recreational players would be present.

My starting table was pretty loose early. I found a few hands to play that won small pots, then played my first major hand at the second level of 25-50. I raised 45ss on the cut-off with a little over 3,000 in my stack and got a single call from the BB, who was unknown to me and roughly as deep. The flop came 678 with a flush draw, because it is a very easy game. The BB checked and I bet 225. He called and we saw an off-suit king turn. When he checked I bet 625 and he check-raised for the majority of his stack. I stuck the rest in and he called with 87s. The river was a harmless deuce and I had chips early.

I ran the six thousand up to seventy-five hundred without much difficulty. I was finding a combination of hands and spots that were easy to bluff weak players out of. My table was broke and I was sent to the far corner of the room, to seat 10 of table 1. I found Antonio Esfandiari waiting for me who upon my arrival blurted "Superstar! I'm ready for some Lodden action!"

"I'd rather just, ya know...keep my money" I replied. We chatted across the table for a while, but our playful words ceased when we were forced to play cards with each other.

At 100-200 I raised AKo in late position to 450 with about 6,000 in my stack. It folded to Antonio in the SB who made the call with a stack that slightly covered mine. The flop came 663 and when Antonio checked I bet 575. Antonio called rather quickly and we saw an A turn. When he checked I fired out something like 1,600 and he thought for a while and called. The river brought a Q, and when Antonio checked I sat there for a moment then stacked up my chips and shoved. Antonio went deep into the tank, and tried talking to me but received no answer. "Well, you just can't be bluffing" he announced to the table as he contemplated what to do. Eventually he stacked up the necessary amount and dropped it into the pot. When I tabled the AK he mucked and I silently assembled up my new chips. He busted not long after, wished me luck, and calmly left.

Perhaps 20 minutes before dinner I began to feel sick to my stomach. I didn't have time to get breakfast in the morning, so I left a few minutes early before the first break and tried to grab food at the Sao Paulo cafe. Unfortunately they were closed, so I went to the only available option at 2pm; the American Bar and Grill. I ordered a rather simple burger cooked medium and thought nothing of it until that unsettling moment not long before the dinner break. I decided the situation was urgent enough that I needed to get to the bathroom immediately, and spent the next half hour in there with what seemed to be very mild food poisoning. When it was over I lurched out of the bathroom towards Gaylord's to meet my friend Matt "Choppy" Kay and ordered the most mild thing on the menu in an attempt to restore my entirely depleted digestive system.

When we returned to play the blinds were 200-400. My stack drained by losing some small and straight forward pots. For the most part I was very card dead and entirely quiet, and did almost nothing aggressive. Near the end of the level it folded to the player on my right who opened one off the hijack to 1,200. With about 7,000 behind I jammed 44 on him with a bunch of very weak-tight players on my left. He had about 15,000 in his stack and had been rather chatty all day. I hadn't gone after him at all, but I still think it's a questionable shove because he went with a full three-X raise and I wasn't certain what that meant out of him. I believe before had opened to something like 1,100 or 1,050 and when inexperienced players suddenly go with a three-X it's often a sign of a stronger hand. It certainly turned out that way in this case, because he snap called me with kings and when I failed to hit I was sent home.

Sunday was the second day-one of the $1,000, and with nothing interesting on at the Venetian I was given an off day. Ryan Firpo and the boys from BOOM came over to conduct what was likely our longest and most thorough interview through filming. We tried to go out for dinner when we finished but were suddenly caught in some kind of freak downpour that quickly flooded the streets in the area we were in. We took refuge in a diner that served truly terrible food, and choked down our meal with winced eyes.

I certainly didn't bother playing a tournament on the 4th of July, and spent it at the house party of Dani Stern and the boys from Two Months Two Million. They were great hosts, and I gorged myself to the point of having a nap at 6pm out on one of the lawn chairs that lasted until I was awoke by an assault in the form of silly-string shooters with the BOOM guys filming it. I sort of shrugged it off, figured it was a lot better than what happened if you passed out at a college party, and returned to my food coma.

The next morning I was having breakfast across the street from our house with Timex and Chewy. We decided to take our time that day and show up nice and late to the $1,500. A couple girls sat at a nearby table and I came under the impression that one of them was making eyes at me. After finishing our meal and exiting the restaurant I remarked to the two of them that I really ought to go say something to her but couldn't be fucked doing so.

"No, go do it" said Timex.

"Nah come on man not right now."

"No, I want to see you do this one."

"Dude, I'm not even sober. We have a tournament to play. No."

"Go back in."

"...God damn it."

I returned to the restaurant and received a very confused look from the manager and waitress at the front, who seemed unsure whether I perhaps left something behind or was coming back to apologize for a dine and dash upon second consideration. I went over to the girl's table, sat down, and recanted the last 45 seconds or so of my life. I said that I'd gone outside, remarked to my friends that the girl in the colorful dress was really attractive, was peer pressured into returning to the restaurant after multiple attempts to wuss out, and now was here in front of them as a result. "It's a good thing you did that" said her friend.

Truth is, even after having doing those types of things for almost three years now the discomfort of cold approach has not entirely subsided. It's something I need to set my mind to, and usually I'm too preoccupied with whatever I'm doing to try and snap out of it so I can chat up some girl that just walked by while going about my day. Even when you're doing it regularly the anxiety sort of regenerates each night, and the next day the first couple attempts will likely be sloppy. Unfortunately for me in particular, I find that if one of the first couple doesn't go that well my heart rate cranks up and I begin noticeably perspiring, which makes me self conscious about sweating too much, which causes me to sweat more. Still, it beats when I was in high school and girls made me so nervous it was a major concern that if I were to hold hands with a date mine would drench hers.

We went straight from the restaurant to the Rio and late registered. The three of us were made to linger around the tournament floor through the second break as we waited to be seated. Once the bracelet ceremony had finished we were dealt in at 75/150. My table was mostly unknown to me, and because I was starting with 30 bigs and no antes I had a pretty straight forward job. I slowly increased my stack leading up to the dinner break, but never really chipped up that heavy. A little after dinner I got my fairly short stack in with AK against queens and lost the flip. It was a rather generic end to my preliminary play at the WSOP, and after bricking them all I crossed my fingers that the main would somehow be the tournament that bailed me out.

A number of us in the house had decided to play Day 1B of the main, which was on Friday. That left us with Wednesday and Thursday off to enjoy with no need to play poker. On Wednesday afternoon I took Choppy down to the strip to chat up girls with me. He wound up introducing me to a very charming and ambitious young woman at Starbucks named April (name changed even though she encouraged me to use her real one, because at this point I can never quite be sure of the domino effect my writing can cause after publication. Which reminds me; Stephanie, while I'm flattered you proliferate my blog around your office, I think you'll find that there are more effective means of career advancement than printing it out and writing condescending notes about your co-workers on top, particularly given her behavior in that entry was really not all that scandalous. Thanks for reading though!) He approached her as she walked by us exiting the store, and after some banter brought her over to sit with us and noticeably backed off so that I could pick up the slack. At first I was hesitant because I didn't want to steal, but eventually it became clear that was his intention and after discovering we had quite a bit in common I took her number before she returned to work. Later that evening we headed out to Sapphire strip club for the annual Bluff Magazine party. Ryan had wanted to do some filming about the lifestyle aspect of poker for BOOM, and I always appreciate the chance to hang out and see people from the industry. That said, while I was thrilled to talk to girls earlier in the afternoon the prospect of doing so at the club was entirely unappealing. I sort of lurked around and caught up with people I knew, occasionally doing a moment of interview work for Ryan and the cameras. He was rather confused as to why I wasn't talking to any girls, so I explained by pointing to my body and saying "Don't get me wrong, I'm all about this" then pointing to my head and adding "But I want some of fucking this!" I feel somewhat snobbish about my own mentality on the matter, but I've reached the point where if a girl lacks intelligence, taste, and tactful conversation then I'd rather just go home to the pipe and not be bothered. After Ryan had all the footage he needed we took the crew out to South Point casino for dollar bowling so we could hang out with some people as ballin as we are. I bowled in dress pants.

Thursday was spent in a flurry of activity. I began at the gym, then ferried Choppy, Timex, and Will Ma to the outlet mall North of the strip to play fashion consultant for the intellectually talented but sartorially inept Will. I left them early so I could get to the strip and meet Ryan for a couple hours of filming he needed. I had a date planned with April but had yet to finish the filming, so when she came to meet me I had to lead off with "Hi so, this is kind of random but…I have a documentary film crew with me." She was obviously surprised but seemingly unperturbed, and the five us walked over to the Wynn poker room for the 2+2 party. The crew was not allowed to film within the casino premises, so they departed and the two of us sat the bar until my friend Bryan Devonshire found us and insisted that we join him and his lovely fiance Cory for an ultra high stakes game of Chinese poker at two dollars a point. Because April had never played poker I was allowed to help arrange her hands when I finished setting mine, and after losing $60 doing so we were taken to dinner by the always charming Steven McLoughlin for somewhat business purposes at Carnevino in the Palazzo. The dinner didn't finish until one, and I hurried April back to her place so I could get myself home and asleep in time to get a full night's rest before the main.

The next morning a troupe of us left the house early to take our shot, with some more enthusiastic than others. I just wanted to get a soft table, as the quality in the main event varies tremendously. When I arrived it was like something out of a horrible pre-main event nightmare: Headphones in almost every ear, hoodies on multiple heads, Justin Bonomo across the table, young dudes who appeared to be from non-spewtastic European countries, and only one man above 30ish. I silently cursed my luck and watched in annoyance as near every hand went raise-fold-fold-fold or raise-3-bet-fold-fold-fold. Damn it, back in my day the main event had limping on day one.

About an hour into play we received the very good news that we were to break. I'd played almost zero hands, and was moved to a new table that looked more amicable and less experienced. I was a little card dead early and content to hang out watching how everyone played. I got involved in my first major pot mid way through the second level of the day. It folded to a guy who had been pretty tight and straight forward who raised to 500 on the cut-off. With about 27,000 for effective stacks and AdKh in the BB I made it 1,500. The cutoff quickly tossed in the necessary 1,000 and we saw a flop of Ah 7d 4h. I lead out for another 1,500 and after fumbling with his chips and debating his raise size for a while, the cutoff raised to 4,000. Given how he was playing I wasn't exactly thrilled about this, but I also wasn't about to fold at this stage so I tossed in the necessary 2,500. The turn brought the less than preferable Jc and I checked to him. He quickly bet out for 5,000 and I gave him one of my longer stare-downs of the series. He seemed very relaxed and comfortable, and I figured I was behind plenty of his range, so I dropped the hand.

I remained quiet through the next level, and got involved in a larger pot at the 150-300 stage against a man of perhaps 30 who had taken a number of bluff shots leading up to the hand. He seemed to play loose-aggressive but in a not quite thoughtful enough manner, and ran a few bluffs in poor spots. He also limped a fair bit, and began this hand by limping in middle position. I made it 1,100 on the button with Ah4c, and when it folded back to him he called. The flop was AdTs3c, and I bet 1,300 after he checked. He called pretty quick and when the turn brought the 2s we both checked. The river was the Js and he lead 1,600. I called and he tabled Q9dd.

Given that it was a mostly soft table in the main, I was opening a large percent of hands. I didn't go as berserk as a lot of guys do in the event, but I was naturally a lot looser than usual. I played a number of hands where I got to the flop, called one street, and then gave up. I had a pretty active image leading up to my next large pot, which was against the other guy on the table I could tell was professional and had done some light three street value betting against the guy who had attempted to bluff me. At 150-300-25 it folded to the hijack who raised to 800. I called on the button with about 19,000 in my stack and KhKs. The SB folded and the young guy in the BB came along with about 50,000 in his stack. We saw a flop of Th 8h 2s and when they both checked to me I bet 1,700. The BB called and the hijack folded. The turn brought a Qd, and after thinking a moment he checked. I went for my chips and dropped 4,200 in the pot. The BB thought things over a while then made the call. The river brought the flush draw completing 2h and when the BB checked I hesitated a while then stacked up my chips and moved in for 12,275. Considering his style of play, I thought most of the time he had a large combo draw he would take a more aggressive line on the flop, especially since the hijack was quite weak and I was likely betting that spot on the button pretty wide. I thought he was too good a player to check-call the turn with a small flush draw, so I believed most of his range was hands like AT, JT, QT, and QJ. He went deep into the tank and gave me a pretty long stare down. I sat motionless as I always do, begging for a call once I knew he was uncertain about his hand's strength. Finally, he stacked up the necessary chips and set them into the pot. I tabled my hand and he gave it a disappointed look then slid his towards the muck.

The somewhat thin value shove helped my table image, and I began to get pretty active again. I played a medium pot when I opened QJss in MP2 and the TAGish player two on my left made it 2,000 on me. We both had somewhere in the 40,000 area, and when it folded back to me I called. The guy had been somewhat active, but not hugely so and didn't seem that interested in taking gambles or running many bluffs. The flop came Q32 rainbow and I check-called a bet of 3,000. The turn was another 3, and when I checked he smoothly bet 6,000. I did the best I could to soul read him, determined I wouldn't feel comfortable calling the river and elected to fold. I just don't think a lot of guys in the main event are running heaps of multi barreling lines, so I feel okay making those folds to unknowns in the early days.

But folding to people is not always the move in the main event. Some people pick some ridiculous spots to bluff, and if you pay attention you know their tendencies and whether they like to make probing bets to "see where they're at". Late in the 150-300-25 level it folded to me with A4o on the button after UTG had limped in. UTG was perhaps 35, and playing very weird. He limped pretty often, liked to slowplay, and seemed to make bets without a solid plan for what would happen next. I made it 1,100 and when it folded back to him he called. The flop came J J 8 rainbow and when he donked out for 1,700 and I recall almost bursting into laughter because I thought the plausibility of his actually having a strong hand was absurd given the way he'd been playing. I called and we saw a 2 turn. He checked and when I calmly put 4,200 into the pot he folded rather quickly.

At the end of the level I managed to dodge a potential disaster. The player I had earlier folded ace-king against limped UTG, which was his first that I could remember. It folded to me in middle position with pocket queens and I made it 1,200. The action folded to the SB who sat there for a moment, counted down his chips, checked what we were playing, then shoved for about 10,000. The player UTG looked over at the bet, considered his options, and confidently announced that he was all in. "Okay then" I said, and quickly folded my hand. The SB tabled AKo and UTG turned up the aces he so clearly had, which held.

I had a moment of good fortune at the 200-400 level. I opened AK to 1,000 in early position and a fairly active player in middle position made it 3,000 with about 14,000 to start the hand. He'd been aggressive enough that I wasn't considering folding and jammed when the action came back around to me. He quickly called with kings, and after the board ran out 3TAQJ we chopped it up. The read from that hand became relevant in my next major one, when at the same level I made it 1,000 with Ad3d in MP1 and was called by the same player who was now on the cut-off with about 19,000. The flop came 5c 5s 6d and I bet 1,300. He made the call and we saw a Jd turn. I fired out for 3,000 and he thought a little and called. The river came the 7h, and I believed since he had 3-bet preflop with a big pair in a spot that was more likely to discourage action than the current one, most of his range should be hands like 77/88/99/TT. I was going to lose the times he had fives full or A6s, but I believed there was enough medium strength hands that a third barrel would work often. I bet 8,500 and he called pretty quick then tabled AJ. I think in the main event I should probably size all three streets larger so that the river is a shove, though I doubt he folds AJ to the line either way.

Near the start of the last level our table broke. I found myself at yet another very soft table, but I only played a few straight forward hands and lost them all without spewing. When we finally bagged up for the night, only 7,975 of my starting 30,000 remained.

I had the weekend mostly to myself, except for an 11am book signing for The Raiser's Edge with lead author ELKY. That dude cracks me up every time I talk to him, even though he's not really trying that hard to be funny. He was pimped out in a style only ELKY can pull off: a white jacket containing a long row of metal buttons with a sort of Asian influence, shining accessories all arranged and themed, usual sunglasses, and spiked up bleached blonde hair. I sat back and played second fiddle to him as book owners enthusiastically approached ELKY seeking an autograph then set their eyes upon me with a look of faint recognition. He's not only one of the most talented guys in the industry on the felt, but he's one of the most recognizable off it for his unique look, global presence, and sense of flair. In fact, at the end of the singing ELKY got up, fully buttoned his jacket, doused the book stand in gasoline, threw a match upon it, drove off into the Amazon room on a Harley laughing, incredulously proceeded to win the main event after just three days of play, and bet the entire winnings against Patrik Antonius in a tennis match held immediately after the final table which he won in straight sets. It was only after his final victory that he unbuttoned his jacket.

I returned to play on Tuesday the 12th, day 2B. Again I found myself at a table of mostly unfamiliar faces, though they were younger than the tables I'd had on day one. For the first couple of orbits I was card dead and did nothing. After having bled a little, I finally picked up a hand with 6,600 left in my stack at 250-500-50. A loose player in early position limped, and when it folded around to me in late position with AhKh I placed my whole stack in the middle. When it folded back to the limper he mulled it over for a while, made some remark about there being odds, then called and tabled 6d9d. The board ran out QJ5K3 and I was back to life with almost 30 bigs.

Things remained quiet for an orbit. I was watching my table closely, and soon found myself involved in a pot against one of the more active players on the table. He was a 30-something Indian guy who had made three 3-bets preflop already. His last one was on the button against a player in middle position which the opener called. The flop came KQQ and both players checked. The turn was a brick and the opener check-called a bet from the button. The river was another brick and when they both checked the opener's JJ was good. About an orbit after that hand I opened AK in early position to 1,200 and the same Indian guy made it 3,000 in late position. I had about 14,000 in my stack and when it folded back to me I moved in. He quickly announced call and tabled AA. Although the flop brought a king it would be the only to come, and I was out of the event. I wished the table luck, then went to the media booth in the Amazon room to repeat what's becoming my yearly tradition of going to sit with Dr. Pauly after I bust. I looked into the possibility of playing the $1,000 multi-entry event at Caesar's but people on Twitter were saying it was sold out. I decided to play the $5,000 at the Venetian the next day instead.

Timex and I arrived about an hour into play at the Venetian on Wednesday the 13th. We were both feeling drained from the series and agreed to let ourselves sleep then late register the event. I know late registering generally means getting a worse table, but I felt the rest was mandatory to play well. Much to my surprise, when I arrived at my table I found fortunate circumstances waiting for me. We were 10 handed and the only two people I knew on the table were Maria Ho and online player "NinjaNate". Everyone else was random and looked pretty unprofessional.

Our starting stack in the tournament was 25,000 and I came in at 75-150 blinds. I played a few small pots in the beginning, and although I was much more interested in battling the unknowns at the table it was against Maria that I played my first major pot. With 5h6h in MP1 I raised to 400. Maria called in late position, followed by the SB who also called. We saw a three way flop of 3s 4s 9d and when the SB checked I fired 650. Maria made it 1,375 and when the SB folded I called. The turn was an offsuit 5, and I check-called a bet of 1,850 from Maria knowing not only that I had numerous live outs against her value range, but a portion of her range was drawing hands that would have difficulty firing on a brick because she's smart enough to know I'm aware those missed hands are a decent part of her range. The river brought the Th, and when I checked Maria considered her options then checked behind. I tabled my hand and Maria mucked hers.

It turned out that my table was even softer than I could've hoped for. The most hilarious hand of note was watching a player in the SB open shove about 30,000 into a pot of perhaps 2,500 on AJ3 rainbow flop into three or four players in a raised pot, then tabling his top set of aces when everyone folded and saying "I didn't wanna see anymore cards." Although most of the table was playing fairly donkish, all three of us professionals failed to accumulate chips and exchanged knowing looks about the hands we were witnessing. I was pretty card dead pre and certainly wasn't flopping well, resulting in giving up most pots that saw any betting beyond the flop. I didn't play another major pot until hours later when we were at the 100-200-25 level, and again it was against Maria. It folded around to the hijack who limped for 200, and right behind him I raised to cutoff to 800 with AJo. It folded to Maria in the BB who called, and after the limper called too we saw a flop of Ad Kh 5h. Both of them checked to me and I flung out a bet of 2,000. Maria made the call and the limper folded. The turn was the annoying 5c and we both checked. The river was the curious 5s, and when Maria checked I debated what kind of sizing was most likely to get called and opted for something in the middle then fired in a bet of 4,500. She thought for a little while then assembled the necessary chips and put them in the pot. She mucked when I tabled my hand.

In between hands where I found just enough showdown value against Maria I mostly bled back chips to everyone else. I never really found any bluff situations I liked, occasionally got out of line with a 3-bet or squeeze preflop, and won almost zero pots with value hands. The only spot I found to get out of line was very similar to one I discussed earlier in this entry from the main event. It folded to the CO who raised to 1,025 at 200-400-50 and I called with ATo on the button with a stack of 22,000 that was covered by my opponents. The BB came along then led out on a QQ8hh flop for 1,600. Again I knew from the way he was playing it was very improbable that he was leading any good hands, so after the CO folded I made the call. The turn brought the 7h and when the BB checked I bet 4,000, leading to a tank fold from him.

Nothing happened through the rest of the level, and it wasn't until we returned from dinner at 300-600-50 that I played a large pot again. It folded to a young guy named Joe I'd had dinner with who opened in MP1 to 1,600. He was pretty active, and with 66 and about 30,000 effective I made the call in late position. It folded to Maria in the BB who moved in for 12,800 and after Joe folded I considered the math of the situation, realized it was about 11,000 to win 16,000 against an aggressive player smart enough to shove wide against such an active opener, and made the call. Maria had AQo and when the board ran out T7332 I had knocked out one of the few other pros on the table.

Unfortunately, making the table softer made it no more profitable for me. I continued to lose every small pot I played, and my stack remained above the 40,000 mark only briefly. At the end of the level I had about 35,000 left to my name, and we broke for 10 minutes at about 12:30 at night. I sucked down what was probably my fifth coffee for the day and told myself I just had to get through one more level to still be alive for the Summer. We returned to play at 400-800-75 and a couple orbits after we sat down I ran my first big bluff of the day. With about 35,000 in my stack I opened 22 in MP1 to 1,600 and a man of perhaps 40 called behind me. He'd been somewhat active over the course of the day, and both called preflop and peeled the flop very wide. He had run a very weird bluff checkraise in a three way pot against Maria and I much earlier in the day then failed to follow through on the turn or river, and had done a few other small weird things. I had been quiet for the level and had not run any lines that involved multiple streets of aggression for the whole day. We went heads up to a flop of Kh Th 6d and I fired out 2,200 in what was assuredly a poor spot to continuation bet. This type of guy just isn't folding enough and is going to occasionally take it away on future streets, and he also might check down with ace high on boards like this. The player in MP2 called, and when the turn brought the As I reached for chips and fired 5,400. He thought briefly then made the call. The river brought a 9d, and I figured that he had quite a few medium strength hands in his range that would just call the turn and fold the river like KQ,KJ, JT, QT, plus have a few that were drawing with showdown value like 5h6h or 9h7h that would snap fold. I lined up a bet of 13,500 and flung it in. He thought a little, shrugged, and announced that he was calling and tabled AJo. I winced and slid my hand towards the muck, annoyed at myself for having bet the flop in the first place.

I did what I could to keep my head above water and my stack around 20 big blinds. I lasted all the way until they announced that there would be just eight more hands. With six hands left in the night we played a hand that began with "Haffizle" moving in UTG for 12,300. It folded to the player in MP1 who had been riding a short stack for some time who announced that he was also all in for 16,000. I was a couple to the left with 16,000 and AKo, so naturally I shoved and started hoping I was up against two pairs under my hand. When everyone else folded the hands were exposed; 66 for Hafa and AK for the other short stack. The board ran out 743JJ and I was left with just a few thousand. I got it in with A9dd on one of the last hands of the night against JJ, failed to hit, and at 2:30am was finally finished playing poker for the Summer. Fortunately for me April was patiently waiting around the Venetian for me to finish, and we proceeded back to the Chewy manor so she could relieve the tension of my constant failure.

Days after everything ended I sat in the office of the house doing math with Mad Dog to figure out our financial circumstances and how much make up I had acquired in the year following the 2010 WSOP of poker. He too had entirely bricked out the series, and the tone around the house was one of seriousness and exhaustion. It turns out I had played 27 events over the course of the Summer, none of which I cashed in. The make up figure was a little above $213,000. It had been accumulated in the course of exactly 12 months.

~

I've never completely bricked a Summer before. If we want to get technical, I've come close to bricking an entire year; I have only one live tournament cash in those last 12 months. On one hand it's easy to shrug off because it's not actually my money, but on the other I feel the guilt of causing further financial strain on a friend whose Summer was as bad as mine.

Returning to normalcy after the series has been awkward. For my entire adult life, normalcy meant the online tournament grind, and even after eight years I still looked forward to it almost every day. While I knew it was all very tenuous for a variety of reasons, I never quite imagined that they'd just turn it off like a light switch and suddenly invalidate my career choice. When I became a professional gambler I accepted it came with the risk of potentially losing near everything, but I thought I'd at least get a once in a lifetime reckless experience to go along with "losing it all" instead of just waking up one day and finding out a bunch of assholes in suits decided it wasn't real anymore.

Long term, it doesn't really matter. If they take away one outlet for an obsessive work ethic then I'll just pour myself into all the others. I'm moving around with the World Poker Tour quite heavily this season, and will still play a moderate schedule of live poker. I just don't have it in me right now to go grind a bunch of small to mid stakes live cash games, so that idea is out. Instead, I've decided to focus myself on a creative project and write a book. I intend for it to only partially be about poker, and will be a combination of personal experience mixed with thorough research and detailed educational content. My goal is to get it in done in time to coincide with the release of BOOM. After everything that's happened, I rather like the idea of laying around reading and writing for months on end. It certainly beats the alternative of laying around, staring up at the ceiling, and debating which of us is higher.

Categories: Uncategorized .
20Jul/11Off

I Just won $160,000

from Foucault . 20 July, 2011 10:20 pm.

I started to title this blog something about getting eliminated or finishing in 53rd place but that’s an awfully pessimistic way of looking at it. I just won $160,000. I cashed in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker for the fifth time in six years, a feat that I’m told is unmatched in poker history. Perhaps more impressively, I’ve been in the top 100 three times in the last four years. I suppose that was an easy feat in the early days of the WSOP, but the average field size in the years I did it was over 6000.

On Day 1, I bet third pair for value on the river and got paid off. On Day 2, I called a turn check-raise all-in with an underpair to the board in a 3-bet pot, and I was right… until the river. On Day 3, I rode out a day-long run of bad cards without getting frustrated and doing anything (too) stupid. On Day 4 I induced a player to 5-bet his A9o all-in against my QQ. On Day 5, I had one of the best tournament players in the world on my left but even from out of position I kept him on his toes all day. On Day 6, I called three bets with Ace-high, and I was right. I almost called a flop check-raise all-in with Ace-high, and that would have been right too. On Day 7, I flipped a coin for hundreds of thousands of dollars in equity, lost, felt virtually no disappointment, and displayed even less.

And I did it all without ever speaking (never mind what I was thinking- I’m still working on that part) an unkind word to any of my opponents. There was no mockery, no muttering under my breath, and certainly no table slamming or card throwing or chair overturning. There was also no celebration, no gloating, hooting, whooping, or barking. I’m awfully damn proud of all of those things.

I’m awfully proud too to have so many great friends, many of whom I’ve never met in person, rooting for me from all around the globe. I had texts, tweets, emails, and blog comments pouring in from six continents, often from fans I didn’t even know I had. My only regret was that I wasn’t able to distract you all from your work for another two days, but I very much look forward to trying again next year. I wonder if anyone’s ever cashed four times in four years?

Categories: Uncategorized .
14Jul/11Off

Interesting Day 2 Happenings

from Foucault . 14 July, 2011 10:45 pm.

Ethics for Sale

Some of you may have heard that Phil Hellmuth overslept yesterday morning and was getting blinded off in the tournament. Apparently Mike Matusow called security at Phil’s hotel and got them to enter his room and wake him up. I didn’t know any of this at the time, but I was still at my starting table with Russel Rosenblum and Sorel Mizzi when Phil came dashing into the Amazon room, with a floorman shouting after him about whether he knew which table he was going to.

Russel
: I wonder if the floor is going to scurry to get me to my seat if I show up late.
Me: I don’t understand why Phil Hellmuth and Annie Duke aren’t getting the kind of shit that the Full Tilt guys are getting.
Russel: I don’t want to say too much here, but Phil and Annie are just paid spokespeople, whereas the Full Tilt guys may have been somewhat more that that.
Sorel: That’s… putting it very carefully.
Me: Yes, sorry, I know that. I guess I misspoke. I do understand why they don’t get as much shit as Lederer, but people still put money on UB because Phil and Annie were endorsing them, and those people are never going to see that money. I just don’t think Phil and Annie should be getting invited on stage at the WSOP like they’re the best and brightest in the poker world.
Sorel: But they’re just sponsors. They aren’t on the inside. They don’t know anything more about what’s going on behind the scenes than you do.
Me: Based on what I knew, I wouldn’t have worn a UB patch.
Sorel: But come on, if they are just throwing money at you…

I had to change the subject at this point, because the irony and Sorel’s total lack of self-awareness was getting too much for me, and I nearly said something pretty rude to him.

Security is Called

The table broke not too long after, which was very welcome, though my new table was still pretty tough. I went on a nice little tear and chipped up to 170K while acquiring a relatively aggressive table image. Blinds were 400/800/100.

I opened to 2200 with 33 in the CO. A loose French player called me on the BTN, the SB folded, and the BB, who’d been quietly chipping up with very few showdowns and seemed pretty table aware re-raised to 6800 with about 45K behind.

I wasn’t getting the right odds to setmine, and online I’d just fold this even though I suspect the guy is light. I don’t want to get it in pre, and it’s just going to be too hard to figure out where I stand post-flop. In live play, however, the added information available through tells makes it a little more feasible and call and evaluate, and that’s what I did. The BTN quickly folded behind me.

The flop came 742r. BB bet 7500, and I called. The turn was another 4, and he checked. At this point he had barely a pot-sized bet left in his stack, and I think there are a lot of hands he wouldn’t check, including big draws and vulnerable hands like medium pairs. This was either an elaborate trap with like QQ+ or he was giving up.

I had no delusions of getting him to fold a hand better than mine, but I didn’t want to give him a free card or a shot at bluffing a scary river, so I bet 9000. After a bit of thought, he moved all in for 24,500. Now I had to think.

This is another spot I simply wouldn’t get myself in online. Before I bet the flop I’d have a plan for whether I was going to call a check-raise. Live, though, there is more room to figure out exactly which part of his range he has and what he’s up to. I let him sweat for about 3 minutes and then counted out the chips for a call. He looked uncomfortable. I placed them gently in the pot. He tapped the table. I tabled my treys. He whistled. “Very nice call, sir.” He showed AQ. Q on the river.

Where it gets really crazy is that while he’s still stacking his chips, three guys from security walk up to him. Two of them stand back, flanking a third who taps him on the shoulder. “Finish stacking your chips and then we need to ask you a few questions, sir.”

Naturally the whole table is staring at this scene trying to figure out what’s going on. The player in question looks totally nonplussed. He stacks his chips and then leaves the table with them. “That beat was so bad it was criminal!” I quip after he’s gone, earning me a few groans from my tablemates.

The guy returned after just two hands and seemed unperturbed. Curious about what was going on, I said to him, “I wish they’d come a hand earlier.” He laughed. I heard the player next to him asking him what happened, and he said it was something to do with a friend of his and that everything was fine. He remained at the table until late in the day, when he shoved AJ over one of my raises. I called with 99 to eliminate him and win back about a quarter of what I’d lost to him in that earlier hand.

French Fish

As I previously mentioned, the guy on my left was a loose and generally bad French player. Blinds were 500/1000/100. A tightish player in the HJ opened to 2500, and I called with 77 in the SB. The poisson re-raised to 11,000 with 15K behind. I was pretty sure I was going to fold but gave him the old stare down first.

He’d been watching a movie on his iPad, and when he saw me looking for a read, he pressed play and turned his attention to his screen. I could see perfectly well that he wasn’t cheating, but I wanted to get a reaction from him, so I told him to put the computer away during the hand.

He removed his headphones and looked up at me. “What?”

“You can’t be on your computer during the hand.”

He sneered. “Whatchu going to do? Time.”

“You’re calling time on me?”

“Yes. Time.”

“OK. Put the computer away.” He made a point of putting his headphones back on and pressing play. I looked over at the dealer, who was doing nothing. She hadn’t even called the floor to clock me. Of course by this point I had all the information I needed to fold, but now I was upset that the dealer wasn’t enforcing the rules.

“Player has called time,” I informed her.

She turned to another dealer who was waiting to push her after this hand. “Am I supposed to call the floor if a player has asked for time?”

The floor finally got called and came over. I informed her that I twice asked this player to stop using his computer during the hand. She ignored me and started telling him that he would have 70 seconds to act.

“Time was called on me,” I told her.

“OK then you have 70 seconds to act.”

“Are you going to do anything about the computer?”

“First you need to act on your hand.” I folded without a second’s thought.

“You can’t be on your computer or phone while you have a live hand,” she informed him and walked away.

I thought there was some chance that his reaction was also an act and that he was trying to make me angry to get a call. He said something to me after the hand, though, which made me think he was legitimately upset.

The very next hand I got black Queens in the CO and opened to 2600. I was 110% sure that the poisson would at least call. He angrily threw 7500 chips into the pot. The blinds folded, and after a cursory glance at his stack (he had about 35K behind), I shoved a stack of orange into the pot. He snap-called and turned over TT like it was the nuts, which it pretty much was in that spot. I think there’s a legitimate chance that his angry chip tossing was an act and that he thought he was baiting me. I got no reaction when I showed the QQ.

The dealer went to deal the flop, and there was the Tc in the door. The other two cards were also clubs, so I had a lot of outs, but none of them got there. I calmly counted out an appropriate number of chips and passed them to him.

He finished the day with over 300K. I’ve got 135K, though, so no complaints here.

Categories: Uncategorized .
5Jul/11Off

The Poker Ethicist: WSOP Ladies’ Event

from Foucault . 5 July, 2011 9:28 pm.

As “The Poker Philosopher”, and in honor of one of my favorite non-poker blogs, I occasionally consider the ethical dimensions of a high-profile controversy in the poker community. Today, I consider the WSOP Ladies’ Event, which began yesterday and is scheduled to conclude tomorrow. Older editions of The Poker Ethicist are available in the archives.

Once again this year, a handful of men have entered the WSOP Ladies’ Event, citing a belief that a women-only event is discriminatory and a Nevada Gaming Commission policy that prevents the WSOP from actually excluding, rather than just discouraging, male players. Critics of these men say that they are only playing because they expect the field to be softer (no pun intended) than open events of comparable buy-in.

Do these men have a case for discrimination? Is it ethical for the WSOP to offer an event that excludes (or at least attempts to exclude) players based on their gender?

Shaun Deeb in the 2010 WSOP Ladies' Event

It is. This event serves not to exclude but to include.

Segregation is reprehensible when it carries with it a “badge of inferiority” or assigns privileges and opportunities to people based on factors beyond their control. This is not the case here, where men have 50+ other WSOP events, including numerous other $1000 buy-in events, to play. Significantly, every single one of these is a male-dominated affair. Any male player would be hard-pressed to demonstrate how the existence of a single Ladies’ Event harms him personally. The purpose of this tournament is not to push men away from the game but to draw women in.

Historically, only about 3% of players in the main event have been women. Walk into any poker room at any hour of the day and it’s easy to see that women are in the distinct minority. There may be reasons why poker is intrinsically more appealing to men than to women, but surely it is not thirty times more appealing. There must be other reasons for women’s underrepresentation at the poker tables.

Granted, as a man, I am not the best spokesperson for this cause, and it is not my intent to speak for female players or to claim that my observations are perfectly consistent with their experiences. In my experience, though, a female poker player is virtually guaranteed to get comments at the table. These range from relatively innocuous banter (“That’s a big raise for a little lady”) to outright sexual harassment. Casinos may be empowered to stop the worst of it, though they generally don’t, but on the whole there seems to be no avoiding the fact that a female poker player must deal with comments and attention directed at her because of her gender.

Granted, needling and table talk can be part of the game. I don’t mean to argue that women are necessarily entitled to a poker game free of such talk or that males who “fold to the pretty lady” ought to be penalized in anyway. I do think, however, that a desire to avoid such situations keeps many women from playing live poker, and that’s an unfortunate outcome.

Having more women playing poker is valuable in a number of ways. For one, it’s generally good for the game when more people, whoever they are, play. There are a wider selection of games available and more money in the poker economy. Women represent a tremendous, largely untapped market into which the game could expand. This is a worthy goal for the WSOP to pursue, and if they believe that a Ladies’ Event will help them to accomplish it, then they are justified in hosting such an event.

Second, appealing to a broader pool of players is a good thing. Our game is embattled in many parts of the world right now, and winning hearts and minds will require demonstrating that poker is a game with mass appeal, not an unhealthy fixation for criminals and degenerates. There’s a reason that the Poker Players Alliance repeatedly chose Annie Duke to testify before Congress, and it’s because as a mother of four she portrays a wholesome image.

Duke actually argues that,

the Ladies event is not bringing more women into the WSOP. If that were the case we would expect the % of women playing in open WSOP events to have grown over the years and that is just not the case. The % of women entering open WSOP events has remained pretty steady at 3 to 5% of the field

Over 1000 women played in the Ladies’ Event last year. Of course some of these women probably would have played a different event has this one not been available, but many of them surely would not have played at all. Whether they go on to play open events in the future or not, they are still playing at a higher level and stepping up their involvement in the game. They may be more likely to host home games, to play at their local casinos, and to talk about and share the game with friends. When people learn that respectable folk like their friends and neighbors play poker, the stigma that the game still faces in some circles will be broken down.

Duke also asks,

“Why is there a Ladies Event if poker is measuring mental acumen? Are we saying there is a difference between the intellect of men and women that means that somehow we need a separate championship event just for the women? What is that really saying about how we view women in comparison to men on the mental playing field?”

To my knowledge, no one has said this. It’s possible that the event had its origins in some patronizing thinking, but these days I’m not aware of any proponent who argues that women need their own tournament because of some mental deficit relative to their male counterparts. The Ladies’ Event is a marketing tactic designed to draw women into the game, not to demean them or to marginalize male players in any way. If the argument is not that women can’t compete with men but rather that many choose not to for reasons that have nothing to do with a perceived inferiority, then it makes no statement about the skills or capabilities of female players.

The World Series of Poker is about a lot more than crowning the best of the best these days. The WSOP is now the world’s largest poker festival and the dream destination for millions of recreational players. The smaller buy-in tournaments are where amateurs get a chance to play for life-changing money and rub elbows with their heroes from TV. If a Ladies’ Event can encourage more women to have these experiences, then that’s good for the game and everyone who plays it.

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