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.
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.
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.
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?"
"No...I don't want to."
"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."
"…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."
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.
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.
Because I had to be in LA to shoot the Raw Deal on Wednesday, it was required that I take the Monday and Tuesday leading up to it off. I spent Monday around the house getting things done, working at the gym, and catching up on my Daily Show.
Early Tuesday afternoon I was at the airport waiting for my flight to LA. I've grown to love my little day trips to LA, especially when they include a night over in the city before the filming. I don't have to bother with anything other than a carry on, so I can rock up to the airport just about whenever before the flight, use the automatic ticketing machine to acquire my boarding pass, and be upstairs reading with coffee in hand minutes later. I've accumulated a decent book collection from purchases just within McCarren airport, though because the flight is so short many of those works sit on the shelf just partially finished.
I spent my afternoon shaping up the Raw Deal pieces while sitting out front the SLS hotel with mojito in hand. To quote Brian from Family Guy "I don't think it's a gay drink" but as soon as my date showed up for the evening she ripped into me for it, though it would soon become apparent that she'd take any excuse. There are a certain type of girls that have a very aggressive attitude--which she possessed in spades--and many men foolishly brand them bitchy or difficult. This is unfortunate, because all most of these types need is a guy who non-reacts then shoots back, which is pretty fun when you realize that amounts to shrugging and casually insulting her. With a clever enough girl it becomes an all out verbal war, and the only nice things you say are to the roommate she brought along because you're speaking to your date like you've been married for 40 years.
By the time we were submitting our order the friendly waiter could sense the tension. "Are you two a couple?" he inquired. "No! I fucking hate her!" I announced immediately. Then the waiter did the most awesome thing; he instantly became the ultimate wingman. He started really flowing with the roommate, and came off really chill and confident. He wasn't your typical LA model-in-training waiter either, he was a pretty normal looking Asian dude who turned it on and started giving us recommendations about where to head out after dinner. The roommate asked if he wanted to join us, so after the meal he swapped numbers with her. I encouraged her because he gave off a good vibe. When he showed up 15 minutes into our time at the bar across the street he did everything perfectly. He was incredibly charming to the friend, got her interested, and eventually absconded off to some club with her, but not before explaining in detail who I should ask for at the hotel bar and why the mention of his name will elicit free drinks for the evening. Don't get me wrong, I had a lovely time with my date and all, but the one that truly left me wondering was Arthur the waiter.
The next morning I was at the WPT offices around 9:30am. We made the last edits on the pieces and checked how they sounded when performed, then got down to filming. It was the last four segments of the season, completing my work for the year. It's no secret that I've been signed on for season 10, and I'm very happy to be there. Especially these days.
I was back at the airport by mid afternoon, and Vegas by early evening. I went straight to the gym when I arrived home, which my consistency about has gotten worse as the series gets longer. I was exhausted that evening, and went to bed quite early.
Thursday morning we filled up the cars to drive in and play the $5,000 six-max event at the Rio. It is by far one of the most anticipated tournaments of the year, and I was hoping to make another deep run without bluffing it off in a questionable spot this time. My table looked mostly familiar to me, except one really bad middle aged guy on my left and one young European kid on his left who I'd never seen before. For the first few levels things were pretty straight forward. I never got involved in many big pots, didn't find any interesting opportunities to get out of line, and consistently bled the bad player on my left who didn't like folding preflop. I made one definite mistake when I flatted a 3-bet with 97s in position then failed to raise the river on AQx79 after both flop and turn went check-check. At the time I recall thinking the guy likely had a pretty polarized 3-bet range and there was little value in raising, but after playing with him a while longer it was clear that was an incorrect assumption and really these days will almost always be faulty logic against anyone sub-30. I felt like such a nit upon reflection.
On occasion, previous nityness inspires future spewyness. It's almost like you feel a little guilty for doing something so weak, so you'll prove to yourself that you're not a coward by doing something recklessly aggressive. Perhaps that was part of the motivation leading up to a hand I played at 100-200:
My stack: ~21,000
I hold A2o on the button.
Leading up to the hand Haffizzle had been opening constantly. Luigi was known as "Luigi da BT" online and was playing well, having done a fair bit of 3-betting already. He'd mentioned to me that his website translated the "Series it took me a while to learn" articles, and I remember playing him a ton through 2008-2011 online so I assumed he figured I was mostly a nit, particularly after seeing me flat the two pair on the river.
Preflop: UTG Haffizzle opened to 400, it folded to Luigi on the CO, Luigi raised to 1,200, I made it 3,000 on the button, it folded back to Luigi, Luigi thought for a while and called.
Flop: K 6 4 rainbow
Luigi checked, I bet 2,500, Luigi called.
Turn: Q, full rainbow
Luigi checked, I checked.
Luigi bet 5,000. I thought that it was very difficult for him to have a good hand in this spot. He probably wouldn't 3-bet pre with KQ, and if he did I can't imagine he'd call the 4-bet with the offsuit combinations. He could have AKs, or perhaps a pair of kings or queens that he flatted with pre to slowplay, but those hands would be 5-betting pre-flop some percent as well. I also thought it wasn't inconceivable to sell that I had the set myself, seeing as I could potentially 4-bet both those big pairs pre, bet flop for value, and check back turn since my image is nitty and barreling twice there looks ridiculous strong and gives floats a chance to do weird shit on the river. I shoved for 16,000 and Luigi instantly tossed his hand in the muck. The player in seat one was a chatty guy named Nick, and he saw the look of what I'd done on my face as I slid my hand near the muck. "Go on, show the bluff" he said, so I tabled it. "It was the best hand" said Luigi.
Although the hand worked in the moment, near all I've run it by hate it. Most begin by saying pre is too obvious as a light 4-bet spot against thinking opponents and likely a spew. Near everyone agrees that it's not a line and sizing that credibly represents the set combinations at all, and when our half of the table broke into a strategy conversation on the hand as a result of my tabling it, they all said "I didn't think you had kings or queens." The only saving grace was that I didn't feel like a nit for the rest of the evening.
After dinner I was moved to a new table that contained Zack Clark on my immediate left and Canadian player Lefort two on my right. The rest were relative unknowns, and I seemed to have a mostly good seat. At 250-500 it folded to Lefort on the button who raised to 1,200 with a 14,000 stack. After the SB folded I shoved my 55 in the BB and got instantly called by his AQ. I flopped a set and he was dead on the turn. They brought a woman I was unfamiliar with in to replace him, and on my immediate right was an old guy who seemed pretty loose. I found a fun spot to bluff the old guy when at 400-800 the hijack opened to 1700. The old guy called out of the SB, and I called with 64dd in the BB. The flop was Jd8h4h and when the SB checked I donked into both of them for 2,800. It's a spot that sort of locks up the open raiser, particularly since I'll likely lead some very strong hands there as well. If he folds and it's the old guy who comes along there will be opportunities to take advantage of how straight forward he is on future streets. The HJ folded and the old guy made the call. The turn brought the Th and we both checked. The river came Kh and when he checked I began reaching for chips. He quickly put his hand to his chips like was preparing for a call, but it was in a manner too obvious, as if he intended for me to see that it looked like he was going to call. I lined up a bet of 6,500 and dropped it into the pot, prompting a quick fold.
I was pretty card dead during the later levels. I went to flops a few times with some of the other young and aggressive players on the table, but I flopped so awful I often just check-folded without a major loss of chips. I lost a pot against the old guy where he made it 1700 in the SB and I called with A7o in the BB. The flop was 862 rainbow and I called a bet of 2,000 from him. The turn was a 5 and when he checked I fired 4,500 and he called pretty quickly. The river was a 6 and when he checked I gave up and checked back. He tabled A8o and scooped it. I had a discussion with Chewy about whether the turn bet was good, which he seemed to think it was not. At the time, I thought not only would he check-fold a bunch of stuff that would be six-outing against me if I check back, he'll also fold a better ace-high some percent of the time. Additionally, I thought if he called he would likely have enough showdown value to get sticky on the river against someone who barreled him on the last scary board, so if I got called and made my straight I thought I might be able to bomb something in the 15-20,000 area and get paid. Chewy thought guys like this tend to check too many hands with showdown value on the turn because they're not sure what else to do, but definitely won't fold them.
I lost a series of small pots to end the night, and finished with a little over double starting stack. We returned the next afternoon at 2pm and I found a table full of very familiar regulars waiting for me, like Faraz Jaka and Dan Martin. The two of them traded off opening every pot, and when I attempted one light 3-bet on Faraz he snap shipped it in my face. I was completely card dead except for two spots I found AK which prompted instant folds from everyone. All other decisions were about in which manner did I want to fold 92o, a simple sliding of the cards towards the dealer, or a fast flick of the wrist in an attempt to land them perfectly in the muck pile? When the blinds moved up to 600-1200 with a 200 ante it folded to me in the SB with 16,000 and 8Tcc. I moved in and the BB blurted "I call!!" then tabled aces. I stood up and put on my jacket. "No wait, you have aces crackers though!" someone said. The flop came Kc8h2c but I still had a sense I was boned. It just didn't feel like an aces cracking day. Both other streets bricked out and I was busted. It was apparently too late to play the $1,500 at the Venetian so given that it was a Friday I took the desire for some gamble out onto the sidewalks and hallways of Vegas.
Saturday morning I was back bright and early for the $1,500 NLH event. Saturday afternoon I was busted quick and painless, in a manner I can no longer remember perhaps three or four hours into the tournament. I went for a late lunch at the Aria, then messaged my friend Apestyles to see what he was up to. He said he was feeling ill and just hanging at his apartment at Panorama, so I decided to keep him some company and drop by. He lives with "Stevie444" and we hung out and caught up about our respective poor Summer luck. Around 8pm I asked him if he wanted to come grab a coffee or tea with me at the Aria as it was Saturday evening and I wanted to chat up some girls. He said he'd drop me off, but that he wasn't quite feeling well enough to join.
By the time he pulled up to the Aria Ape had decided he wanted to see me do this and probably wouldn't die if he had one tea. I told him I really appreciated the company, as having someone to talk to the whole time makes everything much easier. We took our drinks to a table over looking a main walkway and then we waited. Eventually two attractive young women walked by so I got up to chase them down and inform them as to how good they were looking that evening. They were very pleased that I had come up and done this, and after some banter about where we were all from and what they were doing in Vegas it was decided they would join Ape and I after they grabbed the food they were after. When they arrived the brunette sat next to Ape and the blonde sat next to me, so that was how it was. Everyone got along brilliantly, and they had optimistic views about both the idea of playing poker for a living and politely chatting up women in hallways. After twenty minutes or so, Ape mentioned that he had to get home to drive Stevie to the Rio. As he departed the girls asked me what I was doing for the rest of the evening. "Well, that's why I came over to talk to the two of you, I've been made…available for the evening."
"Ok come with us then, we're off to meet some friends."
A moment later we met the date of the brunette and another young couple at a quiet bar in the front of Aria. Both the guys were friendly and happy to see a fun and outgoing fix to the groups ratio inequity. A round of drinks was ordered, and everyone got to know each other properly. It was your classic Vegas collection of people who only sort of knew each other, but were all in a good enough state about the whole meeting randoms thing that it just flowed. They were from California so I made some crack about them all likely being pot heads. When the conversation changed over to the subject of drugs they mentioned that they'd met some guy at the pool today who said he would hook them up with MDMA but came off like a swinger. A literal one. I'm not quite sure how it is someone comes off like a swinger, but whatever he'd done had managed it. They said this guy apparently had some huge room up in the Sky Suites of Aria, so it was decided that we would pay this man a visit and inquire as to the promised pills. As always I had no intention to take any, but I appreciated the random trajectory the night was taking and said I was most interested in seeing what happened, so I led them to the suites and eventually, the room of the supposed swinger.
We knocked on his door and after a moment left waiting it was opened by what I was later told was likely a Persian man, wearing only a towel. He peered out suspiciously, and beckoned just the man he knew from the pool earlier that day. He closed the door behind him, but a mere 30 seconds later our friend emerged with pills in hand. "Fuck man there was just…so many naked people on the bed. It was some kind of orgy or some shit."
"But he just gave you the pills?"
"Yea he just gave them to me and sent me away."
"Sick connection dude!"
"I know right! You want one of these?"
"Nah, I gotta work tomorrow."
He was not at all fussed about my lack of participation, and he and the other guy in the group popped one each. We returned downstairs and had a discussion about how the evening would be spent. They all wanted to head out to a club, which made me consider bouncing until they decided upon Surrender and I changed my mind. I find it to be the most comfortable club for someone who wants it more low-key like I do, as it's near entirely outdoors and it's volume is manageable. I've also found that because it's not so crammed and uncomfortable, it tends to relax the crowd and really let everyone enjoy themselves without some of the attitude and hostilities you get in many other places. Around the same time, both guys announced they were rolling too much to make decisions and I was to be in charge of organizing things, so I led everyone outside and got us a ride large enough to transport the whole group to the Wynn.
Outside the club we met a promoter that the brunette pretended to know through some various connection they made ages ago. She went so far to call this tiny Filipino woman "Fun-Size" as a nick-name while she ordered her around about trying to get in. It was all a very charming act to watch, but I've found in club situations you're best bet is empathy instead of over-familiarity. People who work at clubs deal with demanding elitists and a long list of everyone who thinks they're top priority. They're running around managing four different conversations in person plus another six on their phone. It's a pretty exhausting amount of social stimulation, so your best bet is to just let them know you understand, are easy going about their schedule for the moment, and don't mind them sorting something more urgent then coming back. You'll stick out in their mind because you're one of the few that spoke to them without the sense of entitlement, which often improves your priority. That or just spend a fuck ton of money.
Inside the club was pumping. Everyone was in a great mood, especially the guys in our group who gave me big hugs and yelled "I love you suit!" because they were rolling so hard. The girls said they loved me because I was the only one sober enough to know what the hell was going on. Not long into the dancing and grinding the blonde and I are tearing into each others face while being cheered on by the group. When tired of dancing I'd just sit back with the guys and talk to them about how much they were enjoying their strangely acquired pills and watch as the girls danced and occasionally made out with each other. "You're gonna be the only one getting laid tonight dude, cause we're both on E!" one guy told me.
"Won't that wear off in a few hours?" I asked, unfamiliar with the duration of affect.
"Dude, in a few more hours…we're gonna do more E!"
Often, when you meet a girl or group of people there will be someone in there who attempts to cock-block you. Sometimes you get groups that are really cool about everything, but only rarely do you get ones that attempt to full blown enable. Rare enough that the term "cock-enable" doesn't even exist in our linguistic canon of slang. Meanwhile this group seemed absolutely heart-set on making sure the two of us hooked up that night, and began explaining the solutions to the usual logistical issues. "Don't worry, XXXX is staying at my place, you'll have a hotel room free tonight!" one of the guys told me. Around 2:30am her girlfriends found me and said "You should probably take her home, she's getting tired. Make sure she gets back safe!" as opposed to the more common "We promised that we'd all stay together tonight!" that you have to so delicately disarm. We left the club, found a taxi on the street, and spent a few minutes getting to know each other in a way that the club environment and volume does not allow. When we arrived at the Aria we stepped out, walked through the hallways together, and arrived at the elevators where she said "Well, you're going to hate me but, I'm an old fashioned kind of girl, so I'm not going to just let you up to my hotel room."
"No dramas, have a good night."
I was exhausted and naturally a bit frustrated, so I decided to find Timex at his WSOP event at something like 2:45am. He was on the bubble of the $10,000 pot limit hold'em event, his second deep run of the series in that form of poker. They still had 30 minutes of play left when I arrived so I snuck outside to fill my brain with THC and hoped the scientists were right about the stuff reducing your sex drive. Then I returned to sweat Timex and tried not to fall asleep on the table next to his as the electronic clock looming over us slowly counted down to zero. When play finished he was 11 of 38, with 36 players paying. As a form of congratulations for him and condolences for me, we had the cabbie take us through the drive-through at the all night Tropical Smoothie on Blue Diamond. It also alleviated the dry mouth.
I didn't actually get to sleep until some absurd hour that night, but I still found myself up disturbingly early the next morning. Aaron was the only one awake and surprisingly going down to play the $1,000 event, so I caught a ride with him around noon. I entered the event slightly late, and yet again I just can't remember what happened. I think I busted somewhere in the late afternoon or early evening but there's just been so many damn tournaments in the last month it's impossible to keep everything in memory. I just recall being fairly tired from the previous night and making sure I played like a pretty straight forward nit so I didn't do anything dumb.
Monday morning I was back at the Venetian for a $2,500 event. It was the same day as the WSOP $10,000 six-max which neither Mad Dog or I particularly liked our chances in, so we both sat it out. Also, both of us are still entirely cashless for the series, so the quantity of funds he brought is beginning to drain and neither of us saw the point in taking the high variance shot. With there being the $2,500 at the Venetian that day, the choice seemed clear for me. The field was much softer that day than previous higher buy in Venetian events, and I spent the majority of play either folding rags or finding sweet spots to flat aces pre then mess people up post. It was a very loose table, and if you didn't have it firing a lot of bets was often a poor idea, especially against the blatant rich guy on my immediate left who kept two Bellagio cranberries ($25,000 chips) on top of his tournament stack for hours until the floor told him he couldn't do that. He was playing truly awful, and seemed incapable of putting in a raise unless he was absolutely certain of his hand's strength. This held true until 400-800 when he opened UTG, got 3-bet by MP1, then shoved 35 bigs with QJo in a hand I spent the remainder of the evening trying to figure out after his departure.
Unfortunately, at the last level of the evening I lost a series of pots. I opened A6hh on the HJ to 1800 and was called by the BB. The flop came AK8 rainbow and he check-called my bet of 2600. The turn was a 5 putting a diamond flush draw up and we both checked. The river was a low diamond, and when he bet 2100 I said "sure" and dropped it in. He tabled AJ and scooped it. I raised a couple times and got 3-bet in spots where it was pure spew to do anything but fold. I raised A2ss on the CO and got called by the rich guy before he busted. The flop was KQ7dds and I just started checking it down against him because he never folded anything. He eventually bet the river and I gave up. When everything finished I had a mere 15,000 of my starting 20,000 remaining going into day two, and we left the Venetian at 2:45am.
At 2pm on Tuesday we were all back at the Venetian for the restart. I folded for an orbit of being dealt rags, then found QQ in the SB with about 13,000 left. A player in MP opened to 2,200 and next to act shoved something like 18,000 behind. Naturally I rejammed when it got to me, and when the opener folded I was in a flip against AK. The ace came on the turn and I was quickly walking towards the parking lot so I could make it to the Rio in time for the $1,500 event.
I bought in to the $1,500 at the Rio around 2:30pm, but was told that we wouldn't be able to begin play until the start of the third level. When we settled into our chairs 40 minutes later I was sitting with Australian friend Daniel Nielsen and roommate Truck Dan. We all thought the three of us would be out in no time, but instead we all found chips. Truck had aces and stacked someone. Nielsen got AKcc in against aces and won. At 75-150 with 4,500 effective a guy opened in MP to 300 and with QQ in the BB i made it 800 on him. He had recently been 3-bet by Truck, and I was hoping it just might inspire him to do something a little insane. It must have too, because he slid a whole bunch of chips in the middle, which I thought was all in. "I call" I said, and put my stack as well. "No wait, he's not all in, he has 800 behind" said the dealer. I looked over and saw she was correct, so after she made the pot right I picked up the rest of my chips, closed my eyes, asked about whether the flop had come out, then stretched out my arm and dropped the chips into the pot. I opened my eyes to a 99K flop and watched as my opponent shrugged and called with A6o. He did not get there.
I continued running well, and by the time our table was being broken up I had 11,000. My new table was very happy to see me, and they had no objections to my steadily increasing my stack until I got in a big pot with aces where I doubled up to 26,000 at 150-300. Given I had almost 100 blinds in a WSOP $1,000 at the antes I was obviously convinced that I was a lock to win the tournament, but then the realities of the structure settled in. I went card dead for a while but didn't lose much, and was moved tables to the corner of the room with about 30,000 and found Tuan Lam waiting for me again. He had on his "Super Tuan" shirt that suits him perfectly, and was his usual bubbly self. I won a series of small pots where everyone folded the flop, then a medium one when four people called my raise preflop when I opened TT in early position. The flop came QQ7 and when the blinds checked I bet into them. The button called and both blinds folded. The turn was a brick and we both checked. The river was a K and we both checked again, revealing I was the winner against A7o.
Going into the last level of the night I had 38,000 in chips at 400-800, and crossed my fingers nothing disastrous would happen so I could skip the $5,000 event the next day and save Mad Dog some money. For thirty minutes everything remained peaceful, and I lost one small pot plus did a lot of folding. My stack had drained down to about 33,000 when it folded to a player on the CO who shoved for 8,200. This was nowhere near his first shove and he seemed competent enough to have a pretty wide range. The SB was a young European guy with about 25,000 and the BB an old dude with 21,000 who hadn't played a hand since showing up. I peeked down at KJo and after glancing over everyone's stack I shoved over the top. It's definitely my borderline hand there, as I'd be snap shoving KQ and comfortably folding KT. The SB considered things for a moment, counted down his stack, then announced he was all in. When the BB folded the hands were revealed: A9cc for the CO, JJ for the SB. The flop came ace high and on the turn I was drawing to nine outs with a four-flush, but the river bricked and I was knocked down to something like 7,500. A few hands later it folded to the guy who had shoved the A9s and he opened in mid position to 2,000. I was right behind with 88 and 7,000 so I naturally moved in. When it folded back to him he quickly called and tabled TcTd. The flop was 852ccc, turn 9c, river Qd and I was with perhaps 30 minutes left of play. I took a taxi home, and texted Mad Dog that I would need $5,000 in the morning for the triple chance.
Approximately twelve hours later I was back at the Rio, registering for the $5,000 triple chance. Although I had plenty of time to sleep the previous night, I could tell my body and mind were drained. Even though ~20 tournaments is nothing to the long term and less than I put in any day grinding online in the golden years, it is still so exhausting to show up and get crushed for a month straight. I told myself the goal would be to get through the day without doing stupid shit, and perhaps making it to dinner break would allow me the respite and recharge needed to play a more focused evening of poker.
I was pretty happy when I found my table. There were a few regulars, but a lot of guys who were total unknowns to me and didn't seem very professional. The first major pot I played was against a rather loose older guy who had yet to use his two "rebuy" chips that were worth 5,000 in tournament chips each. He'd turned his original 5,000 into 10,000 by winning a lot of pots through the method of making hands and not folding pre. At 50-100 it folded to him in late position and he made it 275. I had about 13,000 in the SB and made it 700 because I had no other small denomination chips available to me. He thought a while and called, bringing us to a J93 rainbow flop. I bet 1,000 and when he made it 2,750 I called with the intention of almost never folding. When the turn brought a Q I cringed, and checked to my opponent. He gave the card this big confused look, like he wanted it to be no secret about how "confused" that card made him. Then he went to his stack and confidently fired out 4,000, leaving him about 2,500-3,000 behind. I sat there for a while considering what I'd do, but I'm pretty sure I knew all along. I think I just wanted a moment to be annoyed. After it passed I resigned my kings to the muck and went back to folding pre.
The second major hand I played in the tournament went down at 100-200. I opened 9d9c on the CO with 450 with a stack of about 11,000. A fairly loose player on the button called, and when the SB folded the guy in the BB glanced over at our stacks then made it 1,500. He was perhaps in his late 30's, and wearing a hat that I'm pretty confident advertised a marijuana dispensary. He'd been pretty loose about seeing flops and raising pre, but he hadn't been doing a ton of 3-betting that I'd witnessed, but I was a little out of it. It still felt too weak to fold, so I called and the button folded behind. The flop came T63 with two diamonds and he nearly instantly fired 1,600 out. I called and we saw a Kc turn. He thought a little, then dropped 4,000 into the pot. I thought about whether there was any reason I shouldn't fold, then again tossed my hand in the direction of the muck. "Was a pair good?" he asked in what seemed like a fairly earnest tone. Then he tabled 22 and took down the pot. I said very little.
I played one more hand with KQ where I raised pre, bet a 532 flop against the SB, and bet again on the A turn in a spot where I actually think it was probably a bad double barrel because he's peeling too many ace highs. I gave up on the rag river and his A7o took it. I pretty much lost every other small pot I entered, and by 150-300 I had bled down to 2,550. The best shoving spot I could find was with K8o with 1,800 UTG when the table was seven handed, and I was quickly called by an AJ that flopped a jack just to make sure. I was out about half an hour before dinner, and so fucking tired I can't even put it in words. I took the car home, found the pipe, then put on my gym clothes and forced myself through a much needed routine across the street.
Thursday was my first day off since I had returned home from LA. I spent it exercising and writing most of this, then attended the Leggo party with my roommates. I went home at 11:30pm, but apparently some of them stayed out well into the morning, so I should get some fun stories in a few hours when they wake up...
Wednesday morning brought the $2,500 WSOP 6-max event at the Rio. Even though I don't believe I've ever made the dinner break in it, it's one of the events I look forward to the most because it's moderately deep stacked 6-max poker with a nice blend of professionals that you get to battle in deep level poker, and total donks not entirely priced out by the $2,500 entry.
The early portion of the tournament was rather uneventful. I didn't connect in many hands and never found many bluffing situations I thought were actual opportunities. It was still such a fun tournament to play though, and I was pretty engaged in watching the poker between hands, especially after having had a day to rest. Although over the last 12-18 months of my career I've put a much larger emphasis on watching the action between hands, I'll confess that when I'm playing all day six or seven days a week I'm often fairly checked out for the first few hours of the lower buy in stuff. Any time there's a larger buy in or more interesting structure I become more intrigued, but for the first four hours of any given WSOP $1,000 I'm half paying attention and half adrift in my own private world of Ipod headphones, day-dreaming, and flirtatious texting. I'm sorry for the equity it costs us Mad Dog, but there's something about watching 10 handed 25-25 poker day after day that just makes me want to claw my eyes out. Though it could make me very difficult to pick tells up from if I couldn't see my own cards…
Fortunately the $2,500 6-max is no such bore, but my time in it was short lived. At my second table we were playing 100-200 when it folded to Australian legend and long time friend Jay "SEABEAST" Kinkade. Jay was sitting with about 12,000 on the cut-off and made it 450 to go. The button folded and with around 6,000 I called with AJo in the small blind. The big blind called and we saw a flop of A24 with two clubs. We both checked to Jay, who fired out 625. I was in the fortunate position of having near the top of my value range in a spot where both Jay and I are aware that he's continuation betting very wide and I should in theory have a narrow range of strong hands because both Jay and I know I'm likely 3-bet or folding 44/22 and generally 3-betting AQ and AK to get it in, leaving the few mid aces I would likely flat in that position as my potential value check-raise range. The rest would be comprised of draws plus the occasional air taking a stab since I know Jay is both opening and following through so wide on this texture, and the BB is likely to have about anything for 250 more 3-handed.
I raised Jay's bet of 625 to 1525, and after the BB folded Jay calmly slid his stack into the middle. I dropped the rest of mine in, and Jay tabled QTcc. The turn brought a low club and I was dead and walking out the door. On the plus side, I saw the early exit as an opportunity to spend a great deal of time in the gym that evening. While I was sequestered under a bench, Truck Dan was going to work. That evening he made his first WSOP final table in the $5,000 shoot-out event along with our friends Adam "Ajunglen" Junglen, Todd Fucking Terry, and Tom "Dr. Cheese" Marchese. We were anticipating a highly rambunctious drunken rail which Truck declared would likely break the world record for most nubs thrown in a single day. I was to play the $1,500 NLH event the next day, but promised that I'd stop by at each break to have a beer in the audience.
The following afternoon I made my way down towards the Amazon room at the second break of my $1,500. Nothing relevant had yet to happen to me, and I was hanging on a stack of about 5,000. As I reached the end of the hall I found a group of our mutual friends milling around with disappointed looks on their faces.
"What just happened?" I inquired.
"Yea, got queens in vs ace-king for a little under starting stacks."
"God damn it! I didn't even get to have one beer break!"
For the second time this series, I just can't remember how I busted the donkament. I know it was a little before the dinner break, and that I immediately went home to exercise then started hanging with the boys as a pre-game to the drinking they were sure to be after that night. Truck was on the trajectory to get absolutely bombed. Everyone seemed keen on a classic Thursday night at Stoney's type evening, and so we put the word out to a number of other poker players we knew about the plans. I was of course slowly sipping my beer and volunteered to drive as I usually do these days. I was intending to play the Venetian $2,100 the following morning, so as always I took it very easy on the alcohol and called it at a rather reasonable hour. I seem to be very over going out for the moment, though it still happens on occasion for social obligation's sake. For some reason I had enormous trouble sleeping that night, and let myself crash in a while the next morning so I could play well rested.
I arrived at the Venetian the following afternoon and was seated about one hour late into play. We began with 20,000 in chips so it was definitely the right tournament to skip an hour in. I sat down at 75-150 and looked around at a fairly young but unfamiliar table to me. We were eight handed, and I found enough hands early that I played a few small pots, which I mostly lost. I played a hand against an aggressive young player on my right where I 3-bet KJo out of the SB against his CO raise, which I'm not thrilled about out of position because it's not the kind of hand that can be too easily dominated and doesn't flop draws that provide barreling potential with our deep stacks. I remember thinking "Meh fuck it, If I get caught this once it doesn't matter because I'm in an especially nity mood today and it will help the image going forward" but that's still not very good logic to do something kind of spewy. All the same, the CO called and I bet on an A23ss flop. He called and I barreled again on the brick turn, then gave up on a Qs river. The river went check-check and he tabled KQcc for a double float that had rivered a pair.
Perhaps an orbit and a half later I found myself involved against the same player. I'd played a couple hands since the last one, neither of which were relevant but I had a fairly active image. The young player on my right limped UTG with about 25,000, and with 15,000 in my stack I made it 550 in mid position with AQhh. It folded back to UTG and he quickly called. It was his first limp up to that point, but given we'd only been playing about 40 minutes I wasn't sure what to make of it. The flop came AKQ with two spades (unfortunately I'm not certain which were the spades and which were the club, which is rather relevant to the strategy of the hand, but I'm pretty confident it was AsKsQc) and my opponent donked out for a bet of 150. You see people doing these type of things for all sorts of reason, and I basically just treat them the same as if my opponent had checked. I raised to an even 1,000 and my opponent thought for a while before making it 4,150. I was not very pleased with the situation at all. After 40 minutes with the guy I had no idea how aggressively he'd play a big draw in this spot, and how likely he was to loosen the way he plays a hand as a response to only seeing me play for that long. I stuck it in on him, but felt rather queasy about it and still am unsure about how that fares against my other options. He shrugged then called with AKo, one of the hands I was most definitely not concerned about. I think the better play may be call flop and call the likely shove on safe turn cards, but I haven't asked around that much on this one yet. All the same, I was out of the tournament with a Friday available to me on the strip so I stepped upstairs to the Venetian shops to see if any of the attractive young women perusing it cared to spend their afternoon with a polite young man who suddenly found his available.
Saturday brought the last tournament I would have to play for a few days. I have to do WPT work at the office on Wednesday and so I took off leading up to it to prevent a conflict. Despite again having major difficulty sleeping I still ripped myself awake enough early enough to almost get there on time. I found myself at a mostly unfamiliar table except for Chino Rheem a few seats on my right. There was a mix of young and old players around, but nobody that really stuck out. I was feeling exhausted and half awake, so I jammed two large coffees down my throat and spent the first couple levels zoned out between my Ipod headphones. I won a steady stream of small pots and watched as Chino underwent a number of swings by playing quite a loose-aggressive style, especially in regards to open raising pre. At 50-100 we played our first large pot together when I opened QQ in MP to 250 with about 5,200 in my stack. It folded to the button who called, and in the BB Chino made it 1250. I thought for a little while then slid all my chips in the middle, prompting the button to fold. Chino tanked for a very long time, then attempted talking to me which naturally produced no result. After mulling it over for a long time, Chino folded then asked "Can I get a show?"
"Sure, you've hooked me up before" I replied then tabled my hand, not because he'd ever shown me a hand before, but in reference to an evening in Macau where I burst into his hotel room quite intoxicated at 3am. Whether he recalled what the hell I was talking about or not I'll likely never know.
The very next hand Chino 3-bet AJs out of the SB and got it in against what I think was the button raiser who had QQ. He rivered the ace and doubled up, causing him to increase the level of his aggression around the table. We played a hand where he raised, I 3-bet him, and he jammed but we both had AKo and chopped. I played another hand where I 3-bet a late position opener then barreled the flop and got a fold. I'd been moderately active leading up to the large hand I played with Chino, which occurred at 100-200. He had been raising something like 35% of hands, and for the most part people weren't fucking with him about it:
My stack: ~12,000
Chino Rheem: ~15,000
I held Jh7h on the button.
Preflop: It folded around to Chino in MP2, Chino raised to 500, it folded to me on the button, I raised to 1,300, it folded back to Chino who asked about the depth of my stack, then elected to call.
Leading up to the hand Chino had played a few other hands where he'd been 3-bet. I knew he was aware enough of his image to think I could be messing with him, and thought it was quite likely he was peeling the 3-bet fairly wide. That's not necessarily so bad though, because plenty of boards will be awkward for him and he'll have to check fold fairly often, while others will allow for pot control scenarios with moderate showdown value plus some opportunities to fire multiple barrels with draws.
Flop: Qc Jc 6d (Pot 2900)
Chino checked, I checked.
Turn: Jd (Pot 2900)
Chino bet 1,500. I had a decision to make; I could either raise and refuse to fold to anything Chino shot back at me, or I could call and evaluate what I want to do on the river based on run-out. I went with a raise, mostly because with so many draws out I could see a looser guy like Chino refusing to fold a decent chunk of his range that has showdown value with the intention to evaluate on the river. There's also a number of draws he could have himself, and whether he decides to jam them on me or call the raise and decide dependent on the river it's better than letting him see the last card for just 1,500. Additionally, it's pretty hard for him to have a better hand with only one jack left out and QQ/66 as the only other better hands possible. I made it 3,800, and Chino thought for a little while then raised me back 3,500 more. I put the rest in and Chino instantly called with queens full of jacks. I failed to hit my one outer, wished him luck, and left.
I spent Sunday doing most of the necessary writing for my upcoming Raw Deal segments. It's nice to know i'll have a few days off then can approach the last leg of the series well rested. At this point, I'm zero for something in the mid teens, which I'll add up right after I finish this blog entry. I've certainly made some mistakes, but I don't feel like I'm in there doing really stupid shit all day, so thus far I'm pretty ok with things and just hoping that variance swings back in my favor at some point. Tons of my friends are still cashless, and I think Truck might still be the only other one in the house to get one. Not surprisingly, most people's plan of "get all the money at this year's WSOP and evaluate" has yet to pan out.
The first two weeks of the World Series have not been kind to the household. Thus far, we are a collective 2 of perhaps 50, with Truck Dan possessing both cashes. Timex, Mad Dog, and I are all in the area of zero for a dozen in our events and Starky, Aaron and Chewy have all blanked as well. Today they are off at their various casinos, either grinding cash, a day two, or the $5,000 shoot out. I took it off, my first in nine days, so that I could get some much needed writing and relaxing done.
Last Monday was the WSOP $1,500 six-max event. My first table was a bunch of mostly unknowns dudes to me, but after a few hours of uneventful play I was moved to a second and much tougher table. To be honest, I can't even remember how that one ended but I know that I didn't make the dinner break.
The next day was the $1,500 triple chance event. I ran up my stack up to almost four times starting, but about five or six hours into the day things faltered and I lost a flip that made me short. I busted a bit after the dinner break, but Truck made his deepest run in the series with this event but unfortunately finished 11th for the one off final table bubble. These were annoying moments when you were playing online, but live the final table bubble is truly unpleasant considering it usually takes days and a much stronger degree of internal emotional swings to get there. I never heard a word of complaint out of Truck about it though, but perhaps I'm just never around anymore.
Thursday brought the $1,500 pot limit hold'em event. Simply turning the "N" into a "P" cuts the field at least by half, potentially more. In one way it's a great opportunity to bink a bracelet each year, but it seems like too many of that half we lose are the fish who make the NLH fields so soft around this buy in level. Looking around I saw a number of very tough tables for such a low buy in, but I was more fortunate and found myself with more unfamiliar faces at my own. I doubled up with aces early in a cooler spot against an online player named JD who had jacks in the small-blind when there was no player in the BB. I ran that approximately 9,000 chip stack up into 11,500 by the time I got into my next big pot.
I had been pretty active as a result of finding hands and having a good seat on the table. The other player was unknown to me, but had run up a big stack as well. He was perhaps 30, plainly dressed, and playing aggressive but sensible. I had made more 3-bets than one would expect in a short stacked PLH tournament, mostly because I was card-racking. At 50-100 it folded around to the HJ who was sitting on around 16,000. He opened to 250 and a fairly loose player called on the CO. I looked down at QQ on the button and made it 825. The SB was a recreational player who had been talking to the entire table about how he was only here for a short period and taking a shot in this event. He had already flatted 3-bets and folded to further action. On a stack of about 8-9,000 he called out of the SB. The BB folded and the HJ now leaned forward from his chair in an attempt to assess the stack of the SB. His face showed a look of concern mixed with curiosity; not the look of a man who had KK or AA and simply wouldn't give a fuck how many chips the SB had. "How much do you have over there?" he asked, then paused for a moment after being told the amount and went to his chips. When his hand returned to the betting line it carried with it a raise to 2,100. I sat there for a moment pretending to think about what I was going to do, then announced "I raise pot" and slid all my blue 500 denomination chips into the pot. The SB quickly folded, the HJ said "Okay let's get it in" and we put all our chips in the middle. He flipped up AKo, and before the cards ran out I paused to appreciate that at the start of the day, I never would've believed I'd be playing a 230 BB flip at 50-100 in a PLH tournament.
One unfortunate king-high flop and bricked run-out later, I was walking away from my seat at somewhere around 3pm. An interesting difference between playing in this year's WSOP and last year's has been the amount of people that approach me as a result of the exposure. People are most comfortable approaching when you're alone, and so even a post bust-out stroll can result in a number of "Hey Tony how's it going dude!?" conversations if I'm not careful. I'm fortunate that I'm always in such a good mood after busting that I don't mind unless I'm in a rush, but I'd think for some other guys who receive this kind of thing it could make for less than pleasant conversations. After having done so much approaching yourself it's interesting to see the dynamic reverse and all of a sudden gain some insight from the opposite side as to why some things work and others don't.
I've spoken to a number of players about how they feel regarding exposure, popularity, being approached, poker fandom, etc. The majority of young and internet trained players I know don't much care for it (but certainly not all). For many of them, the somewhat theatrical nature of the industry holds no allure and they are what you could call "poker purists"; they play because they are good at it and they make plenty of money. If some company wants to stick a patch on them and give them a paycheck they won't argue, but they generally aren't interested in furthering some kind of persona, brand, or image. They just want to take bad players money, and tend to view those hallway approaches as something to be either endured or avoided.
Conversely, there are some players who make little secret about their popularity intentions. When it comes to those who appreciate the attention, have aspirations away from the felt, or burn with a general upward social ambition, you can sit back and watch the battle for eyes. At the end of the day, drawing eyes is the bottom line of what matters to your exposure potential, and if you're capable of it companies will tolerate near anything up to the point of living in a tornado of self destruction a la Charlie Sheen. That's why everyone runs around telling everyone else to add themselves on Twitter; there's eyes to be had. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though, and poker needs it's personalities because without them we're watching a bunch of dudes do mental math problems in utter silence. Thrilling! These types sense that when selling themselves there is value in being accessible, so they're near always happy to receive fans, autograph seekers, or people they sort-of know that just want to shoot the shit for the moment.
I find myself somewhere between the two. I'm an internet player by nature, and I started because I just loved playing and making money in a way where nobody got to tell me how to act or think. For a long time my ambition in the industry went so far as generating enough income to carry on as a suit wearing, world traveling, girl chasing eccentric in a far corner of the globe where nobody gave a damn about much of anything. When that became impossible I returned to the US and in the process of a few months watched reality go all Count of Monte Cristo on me, except this time the only revenge to be had was on anyone who had the audacity to misplay a hand at a WPT final table too obviously. I'm immensely grateful for all the opportunities that have come up over the last year and have been not so subtly fanning the flames of that spreading exposure, but sometimes I sit back and think "What the hell just happened? I'm not even supposed to be here…" and I hate that sometimes it all makes me feel like an uncaring prick when yet again I can't remember the name of someone I've met on multiple occasions who's been nothing but nice. My natural demeanor is that of an extroverted people-person, but the Catch-22 of popularity is that eventually you "know" so many people that you barely actually know any of them at all, and your rapport-generating behavior has somehow become ironically impersonal. In those moments, you just feel like a fucking fake.
Exposure has it's spoils though, and after busting the PLH tournament my Thursday evening was made free to enjoy them. A couple days prior I had been sent a single-sentence message by an attractive young woman on Facebook to inform me that she was recently 21, temporarily in Vegas, and currently bored. I would later find out she was aware of me because she found the "One mirrion" thing on the WSOP broadcast funny and memorable. We messaged back and forth a bit, changed over to doing so on our phones, and eventually arranged to meet for a drink. We were a few minutes into the date and walking towards the bar I was taking her to when she asked a rather forward question.
"Do you have a girlfriend?"
"Yea, she was here staying with me for a few months, but she had to go back to Australia a few weeks ago..."
As far as I'm concerned, radical honesty is really the only way to go about dating. Of course, that kind of attitude is not so big a gamble when a girl seeks you out, but it's an approach that every guy could benefit from taking no matter the scenario. I came to appreciate this over time, and in every instance when a girl asked something where I had to grit my teeth and give the blunt and assumably appalling answer I was always rewarded instead of punished. Over and over and over this happened, until it became pure habit to just say whatever I thought or knew to be true around women I was interested in. Being nonchalantly yet unapologetically honest is a trait I have seen in all of the best ladies-men, because it sub-communicates that they're confident enough to not care about the results of anything they say that could potentially disqualify them to a girl. It solves all kinds of potential misunderstanding or deception problems. It forces the girl to make a decision about whether she fits into your lifestyle, and not whether you will accommodate and adjust to hers. It accelerates the efficiency of communication to levels most relationships never come close to. It can even create some exceptionally quick sexual scenarios when both parties drop the will-I-won't-I facade and just sort of admit to each other that it's on. Too bad those spots are so rare, but the more you do it the better you become at creating them and sensing the possibility.
Principally it's about qualification. I couldn't quite understand what everyone was on about when I began, but now I see why it's integral. It's about sub-communicating that you have options and standards that go beyond looks. Put it to you like this: when interested in a woman what most men sub-communicate is "I'm really interested in sleeping with you! What do I have to do to make that happen?!" What the guys who kill it at women sub-communicate is "I'm potentially interested in sleeping with you, but why should I as opposed to one of my other options?" For the majority of men, a woman being physically attractive is all they need to be into her, and once they let this off too blatantly they're no longer a challenge and the girl loses interest. For a man genuinely living a life of abundance, looks aren't enough and he has some mental list of qualities he requires she have and not have that are much more about her personality, values, and attitude. He'll communicate this by using language that infers an inverse of who is pursuing who, and although every attractive woman's logical mind knows pretty much all guys want to sleep with her, a talented ladies man will keep her emotional mind in a state of confusion and doubt that it will happen. It's a sort of balancing act made possible by the fact that few women actually ask blunt questions (partially because they know most men would lie anyway) and even if they go all out and ask "Are you trying to sleep with me?" you can respond with "Of course I am, what am I gay?" like she just asked the most absurd question in the world, which she sort of did. Of course you are.
Friday morning brought the $2,500 no limit event at the Venetian. We began play with 20,000 in chips and 90 minute levels, making for the slowest structure of any tournament I'd played thus far. I had a decent table, with some young and competent players mixed with total randoms who were playing quite poorly. I chipped up early in medium sized pots and ran my stack up to around 35,000. A few hours into the day I was moved to a table across from my friend and ex-coach Adam Junglen who was also grinding a stack in the 30,000 area. The field in the event was actually pretty tough, but somehow we'd found ourselves on one of the softest tables in the room. Unfortunately, neither of us could make any progress and were essentially swinging at air in numerous pots. I had multiple hands where I was dealt some mid pair that was called by a very loose player and got an either deathly flop, or something like Axx where I bet once and they called then checked behind two streets with some kind of top-pair weak kicker. Near the end of the day Adam was moved tables and I was left with only a couple other young aggressive players on my own. I found one good spot to 3-bet one of them light on an awkward stack size, then found a golden opportunity with aces against one of the donks on the table. He opened UTG at 400-800 to 1600 with some absurd amount of chips and got two calls. I had 21,500 in the BB with AA and knew that although the small raise would look very obvious to the online player who flat called behind, the donk UTG wouldn't fold a damn thing. I made it 4500 and he quickly called. Both other players folded and the flop came T85 with two hearts. I bet 5300 and he called. The turn was the Ts and I jammed for my remaining 11,000 or so and he slightly thought about it then called with 66. The river bricked and I had the double I desperately needed. I won a few more small pots before the end of the night and finished at my high point of 48,000 at 2:30am. I made an effort to go out to a party after the tournament, but I just showed up for about 10 minutes, said hello to various drunken friends, and left without incident or the slightest indulgence.
We returned the next afternoon at 2:00pm for the start of day two. Again I found myself mostly unfamiliar with my table, except for Sam Iola on my right and a Canadian player named Carter on my left. On the third hand I found aces and when the 30-something Asian dude with 80,000 opened UTG to 2500 at 500-1000 I called behind in mid position. Carter called on the hijack and everyone else folded. The flop came 543 rainbow and when it checked to me I fired out something like 6600. Carter called and the UTG player folded. The turn was a K which seemed like a good card to just keep barreling on because it looks like something I might try to fire again as a scare card with my bluffing range, and Carter may believe I think I can represent that I flatted AK pre. I fired out 13,300 and after a moments thought Carter jammed on me. I quickly called and was ahead of his 99. The river was a brick and I was suddenly nearing the six-figure mark.
I folded for an orbit after that. Then I decided that folding was no longer the move, and got the raise and bet buttons out:
My stack: ~98,000
Blinds 500-1000 with a 100 ante.
I hold Th6h in the BB eight handed.
The button was a 30-something Asian guy wearing a sports jersey and a large deal of loud jewelry. In the two orbits of history I had played only one hand, the aces which I flatted against his open raise. I might of raised one other hand and gotten folds. He didn't give off a super professional vibe to me, and I've never really seen him around but I could be wrong.
Preflop: It folded around to the button, the button raised to 2,500, the SB folded, I made it 7,300 in the BB, the button thought for a bit and called.
Flop: Qh 9d 5s (Pot 15,900)
I bet 8,300, the button called after mumbling something about having to make a decision. There's quite a few good turn cards for my hand which will be profitable to barrel in this situation.
Turn: Ac (Pot 32,500)
A pretty sexy card to barrel considering it does nothing for adding equity to my hand. I lined up a bet of 21,200 and dropped it into the pot. He made what I and many others call the "sigh-call"; where the opponent emits a light sigh sound as they slide their chips into the pot. Some people do this as a genuine reaction to not being certain of what they're doing and some people do this as a reverse-tell of varying believability levels. Given that I'd only been at the table with this guy for perhaps 15 hands I really had no idea how authentic his sigh was, but considering what I was planning to do on a number of rivers I was hoping it wasn't an act. Almost nobody thinks to balance their sighing tendencies, so once you see someone do it and find out whether they were strong or weak you can be quite confident that will remain true over time. But if you don't know anything about the guy you're flying blind and hoping you can spot an act.
River: 3c (Pot 74,900)
At this point, my decision was whether my opponent is willing to call the turn with one pair hands that aren't going to call one more street, like KQ, QJ, QT, or JJ. The hands I'm most concerned about are AQ, 99, and 55. My general vibe off the guy was that he wasn't going to hero call down with second pair agains the guy who's only tabled AA, and it's hard to have sets, so I decided to think a little bit and jam on him for his remaining approximate 50,000. "I call!" he said excitedly, then instantly tabled a set of queens. "Thaaaaaat wins" I drawled out slowly as I dropped my hand in the muck with a disappointed look like I had just taken a sick cooler. When I brought this hand up with the boys around the house near all pointed out that the turn bet is good but the river jam likely spew, because guys like this will often be scared enough of the ace on the turn to make a decision about the hands I was trying to fold on the river. As a result, they felt there were just too many nut hands remaining in the guys range to make the jam profitable.
Two hands later I jammed my remaining 13 BB on the button with 33. Carter called in the SB with 88 and when I flopped a 3 I found some new life. An orbit later I found 99 in the SB and there was a raise and two calls to me. I shipped my 25,000 stack in and the original raiser thought for a moment then reshipped for 38,000. The other players folded and when he tabled AA I was unable to find the second two-outer in a row and was sent packing.
I raced over to the Rio and bought in late to the $1,500 no limit event. I was told that we weren't to be seated until after the second break so I had well over an hour to kill. I went over to the media desk and found poker blogger role model Dr. Pauly. We decided to step outside for a smoke and catch up on everything that's happened over the last year. Pauly always has and always will be one of the most interesting and awesome dudes in this industry, and I know there are many very happy that he stays at it.
At about 4:40pm I floated into my $1,500 seat in the Rio and found myself with 4,500 chips at the level of 100-200. The entire table was playing the late start and we exchanged jokes about it being the "WSOP 5pm turbo". I was one of the lucky ones in the turbo phase of the tournament, and I busted a guy on a short stack to move up to about 5,500. After that I found kings in a great spot to flat against a min raise pre, and after a couple more calls it folded to the SB who jammed for something like 3,200. It folded back to me and I rejammed then held up against KQs. My stack was hanging around the 10,000 mark when we went to dinner, where Mad Dog and I sat at the bar in Gaylord's as we so often do.
When we returned from dinner I was moved tables and found myself on the direct left of Tuan Lam. He's a very talkative bloke and was quite happy to see me, knowing just through reputation that he'd found someone who'd be amicable to his table talk. He's very funny and excitable, and has a sort of flair to his play. He won some very big pots on the table, and by 300-600 had run his stack up 65,000. I was chugging along on a stack of about 15,000 for most of that level, until I raise-folded one hand then found myself in a pot against Tuan. It folded to Tuan on the button and he raised to 1,550. I was in the SB with a little over 13,000 and looked down at KJo. I moved in and when the BB folded Tuan snapped with AA. I flopped a J but it was just a tease, and after busting I wished Tuan luck and left the table.
It was around the 11pm area when I busted and some friends were having a party in the place they got in Palms, so I rolled over there and hung out for a few hours. It wasn't some raging insane type thing but it was the perfect level of mildly intoxicated hanging out that I needed to catch a little mental break from all the tournaments. My social life has been really toned down thus far this WSOP, and I'm generally so exhausted by the end of the day that I just want to go home and chill with the boys for a few hours before going to bed. It also seems that the industry as a whole is taking a more workmanlike approach to this series, as many know it's the last opportunity to make the big score they need to keep going.
Sunday morning I went down to the Rio alone to play in the $1,000 event. Yet again I worked up a stack by just not playing dumb in 10 handed poker against a bunch of people who don't like folding, and by 200-400 I was hanging around the 10,000 mark on a mostly soft table. On my final hand, I found AKo in MP1 and made it 900. It folded to a player in LP who called, the button called, and the BB came along. The flop came AT8 with two diamonds and when it checked to me I bet 2300. Next to act moved all in for something like 20,000 and when the other two folded I snapped. He held KTdd and when the river came Tc I was out the door.
Monday morning I was back at the Venetian for their $1,600 event. It was my eighth straight day of play, and it really showed. I was more aggressive than usual but definitely sloppy about it in a few spots. In my bust out hand I jammed the turn for about three times the bet to me holding a pair, flush draw, and gunshot in a spot where I don't think my opponent has enough of a double barrel bet-fold range on a 8h9sJdAd board for my jam to be good. He called with top two and when the river bricked I was out the door at 3:30pm.
I spent Monday evening relaxing and in a very burned out state. I can't remember the last time I felt so tired, and my erratic sleep habits aren't helping. It's begun to get better, but still the hours are so random that it never persists. I got my ass into the gym, which I've still been pretty good about through everything.
This morning I had breakfast with Mad Dog at the nearby breakfast place before he went off to day two of his tournament. I was so tired after the weekend that I decided I needed the day off, plus I wanted to get this entry done and the next day is the $2,500. Over breakfast the two of us mostly stared into the sunny distance squinting. "Guess we're not 21 anymore Mad Dog."
"No, I guess not."
"Still a couple more weeks of this though…"
For a tournament poker player, there's no better time of year than WSOP time. Those six weeks present the best and highest quantity of opportunities to make a meaningful score for the whole year, and for those that invest in the historical significance of the whole thing a chance to take home a physical piece of that history. I'm much more interested in the money than the jewelry, but given that one comes with the other I won't argue.
My approach to this Summer is to hurl myself in an all out assault on the tournaments in as many as I can fit in without reaching burn out. I'm never passing up any WSOP events that I and Mad Dog think I'm profitable in, and any day there's nothing for me at the WSOP I head off to the Venetian for whatever they've got going. Some days I do both, and bust at the WSOP so quickly that there's still time to late register a few casinos away. Used to be when you busted your Stars tournament you just pulled up what you had left on Tilt, now when you bust the Rio you just hope there's time to pull up the Venetian. Either way, grinders like me will find our ways to multi table no matter what the DOJ has to say about it. It's in my blood at this point.
I suppose that the Summer officially started on Tuesday May 31st. We dropped Heika off at the airport the previous day for her flight back to Australia, then Mad Dog and I swung by the car rental section to pick up our transportation for the next six weeks. Although it is my natural inclination to show up at the rental desk and announce "I shall have your finest automobile and will spare no expense to obtain it, procure me something with enormous rims and terrible gas mileage" the realities of Black Friday have forced some sensibility out of us all, and so we settled on a four-door Honda Accord. Sadly, even it's rims are of average girth. I selected the minimum amount of insurance available, and assured Mad Dog he was a far better option to be doing the bulk of the actual driving then tossed him the keys. He took us over to the Rio to check that his wire had arrived without incident. We took some money out for the upcoming events then I took a taxi home so I could battle Erik Fast from Cardplayer on the tennis courts near the house.
The next morning I made my way down to the Strip for the Venetian $1,070 event. Nobody in the house was playing so I drove in alone and hoped for a soft field. When I got to the table I was sorely disappointed, and looked around at the flurry of young but mostly unfamiliar faces around me. Seems the event was so early in the schedule that not many recreational players had shown up or become aware of them yet, creating a field of about 275 mostly competent players. It was an uneventful event for me outside running one dumb bluff that didn't work, and I busted when I jammed my short stack with 77 over an open and lost the flip to KQs about five hours into the day.
I took the car over to the Rio to check up on the boys from the house who were playing in the $25,000 heads up. I couldn't find Aaron, but found Chewy playing someone I didn't recognize and Truck battling Eugene Katchalov. Unfortunately, by the end of the night all three were out and none had progressed to the money.
I wanted to make sure I was available for the $5,000 no limit event on Thursday, so I took Wednesday off and instead arranged a tennis match with Jim Agate, a friend of Vince Van Patten's that I met at the Bellagio in a tournament one afternoon. I played on clay for the second time in my life and slid around chasing balls that bounced erratically in the windy conditions. The two of us had Korean BBQ nearby after then I went home and straight into the gym. I haven't found keeping the exercise up during the tournaments difficult thus far, not only because I've been busting them early enough that I'm usually available but also because I keep waking up early, regardless to what time I go to bed. The end result is I usually have time for the gym before I play. It's been a long time since I passed up the opportunity to sleep in as much as possible, but it seems no matter what I do and until what hour the night before, I'm going to snap awake at about 8 or 9am whether I like or not. I manage to stay functional through most of the afternoon, but by the evening I'm drained and running on some absurd amount of coffee consumed steadily throughout the day. Strangely, Mad Dog is currently experiencing the same thing, though he prefers beer for his liquid alleviation.
Thursday began one of the most anticipated events of the schedule, the $5,000 no limit event. It produced an even larger field than last year with 865 players, and was packed with the best hold'em players in the game mixed with the type of complete randoms were no longer used to seeing abundant in United States $5,000 events. I arrived and found three unknowns waiting for me on my table as play began, indicating that I was likely facing five professionals in the empty seats. Ten minutes and five late-arrival professionals later, I was across the table from Olivier Busquet, ELKY, and some young pros I was less familiar with. Olivier had turned up dressed as well if not better than I, being adorned not only with a well made suit, shirt, tie, and cufflinks, but also with a vest and handsome watch. "I knew I was going to get your table!" he said when he sat down.
<a href="http://s173.photobucket.com/albums/w63/Bond18/?action=view&current=MeandOlivier.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i173.photobucket.com/albums/w63/Bond18/MeandOlivier.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a>
Olivier had to do the commentary for the heads up matches later in the afternoon, and I swear to God if he winds up stealing my job and my look I'm going to fucking murder that polite young man. Anyway, on his immediate right was Bertrand "ELKY" Grospellier, the lead author on the book I coauthored which I recently found out has reached full publication and is already available for pre-order on Amazon. I suppose that if I ever want to make it to lead author, I should off him too. That can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Raisers-Edge-Tournament-Poker-Strategies-Aggressive/dp/193539648X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1307196697&sr=1-1
Play began smoothly and socially. Olivier and I exchanged a series of best-dressed contest jokes. ELKY and I shared stories from Korea and discussed the 100,000 Euro bet he has against Lex "RaSZi" Veldhuis in a kick-boxing match to be held this upcoming fall. The three less experienced players seemed pretty exploitable, and chips started flying a little. Olivier folded aces on a turn of T864 to one of the unknowns who bombed out 5,000 and gave off a vibe like he really thought he had it. I played some small pots and had opened a number of hands when I found myself in a big pot against my sartorial adversary:
Leading up to the hand, this was the second limp by Olivier UTG. He had also raised a number of hands, and was one of the most active players. There hadn't really been much in the way of multi-way pots, so this was my first opportunity to isolate limpers. I had opened a number of hands but hadn't been out of the ordinary active or played a major hand. Olivier and I final tabled a Bellagio prelim together back in 2008 which I won and he finished third in, but I don't think very much relevant happened there between us that adds any layers because I mostly just card-racked my way to a win. Besides, people change their game a ton in three years. I assumed he regarded me as a thinking TAG player who was capable of isolating pretty wide in this spot.
My stack: ~15,000
I held AcKc on the hijack.
Preflop: Olivier limped UTG for 75, next to act limped, folded to MP2, MP2 limped, I raised to 500, it folded back to Olivier, Olivier quickly called, both other limpets folded.
Flop: As Jd 8h (Pot 1275)
Olivier checked, I bet 700, Olivier thought a little while and made it 1800. I thought his most likely hands to play like this were QTs, 9Ts, AJs, or 88, and I believed he was more likely to limp call UTG with the two weaker hands than the two stronger ones, which I figured he'd mostly elect to raise with given how much he had been opening. I thought that if I was going to call now, I'd better be willing to call down on the majority of run-outs against someone as gangster as Olivier. Otherwise, I'm better off just nit folding the flop and never telling anyone. Instead, I told myself that I just didn't think he'd limp-call 88/AJs that often as opposed to raise, and if he did he wouldn't always take this line with them. He also just might have wanted to get some chips or get busted to be available for his commentary, but I really have no idea what his schedule was like. I decided I was going to call, and call down to the river on most run-outs.
Turn: 5h (Pot 4875)
Olivier bet 2600, I sat there and tried to time things to the degree that my decision appeared to have some uncertainty in it; anything to encourage as many bluffs with his range that's drawing and misses on the river as possible. Whether I actually sub-communicate those things to my advantage I'll never really know.
River: Js (10,075)
Olivier thought things over for a while then jammed for the remains of his stack, about 6600. Although I had told myself I was going to call down and that card was one of the best possible I could ask for, I still sat there for a while double checking everything I had done and was about to do in my head. I assured myself he really was representing a very thin range of value hands, and he really was exactly the kind of aggressive nasty player capable of emptying the clip even on a card we both know is bad to bluff on. I cringed at the thought of explaining to Mad Dog how I'd stacked off with top-pair-top-kicker to a boat in the first big event, then put it out of my head and picked up seven yellow 1,000 denomination chips and dropped them into the pot. "You win!" he announced. I tabled my hand, and he flipped over his 9Tdd in return, then tapped the table and calmly left.
For a moment, things were good. I won another medium sized pot when I 3-bet a button raise out of the SB and fired two barrels, and our table was now minus one more professional. I'd observed that one of the unknowns on the table played exceptionally straight forward post flop. to the point of check-folding after raising pre at what appeared to be a rate of 100% when he didn't connect. Just a couple orbits after my last large pot I got tangled in another against the weak player UTG and another unknown who had been inactive in the BB:
My stack: ~25,000
I held QsJh on the button.
Preflop: The very straight forward player opened UTG to 300, it folded around to a young pro on the CO who called, I called on the button (and was later told by sickos that this is the kind of spot I need to be 3-betting more as a better option), the SB folded, and the BB called.
Flop: Qc Jd 6c
The BB checked, UTG bet 600, the CO called, I raised to 2200, the BB went into the tank, the player UTG was apparently oblivious to the BB's tanking and folded out of turn, the BB elected to call, the CO folded.
The BB checked, I bet 4300, the BB thought a while and shoved for about 11,500 total, I called and prayed he didn't have a set of sixes and then he tabled his set of sixes. The river bricked with the 4s and I slid off the bulk of my stack in the direction of the BB.
After the loss of the big hand I went card dead for a very long time. I did what I could to keep my head above water, but as the day went on my stack dwindled. I managed to make it to the dinner break with about 6,000 left, and went to Gaylord's with Mad Dog. We sat at the bar for the view of the NBA finals and watched Miami close the gap approaching the second half in game two of the finals.
I doubled up almost instantly after dinner. An unknown player raised UTG to 900, online player "Cdbr" called on the button, and I jammed 5700 with AKo in the BB. After UTG folded Chris made the call on the button and I held up against his AJo. Things remained pretty quiet for the rest of the level, and I happily folded the air I was being dealt, content just to have near starting stack again. Right near the end of the level I got involved in a large hand against Brynn Kenney's brother Tyler. He opened to 900 UTG and I called with KdKs and a very tight image with about 13,000 in my stack in MP1. The player behind me called and the BB came along. The flop brought came 9c 7d 5c and it was checked to me. I fired out 2800 and it folded back to Tyler. He thought things over a while--perhaps just long enough to seemingly be uncertain of his decision--then announced that he was all in for what was a couple thousand more than I had behind. I immediately put my chips in and expected that I'd need to hold against a large draw or be looking at some kind of over pair just worse than mine. Instead I had top set dropped right in my face, and when the board ran out without a king I wished everyone luck and left.
A glutton for punishment, I busted two tournaments the next day. I began at the Rio for the $1,500 limit event. It's been a long time since I've played limit regularly, but I did it for long enough that I'll always feel comfortable in that particular WSOP event, which attracts so many less experienced at the game. I found myself unfamiliar with all my table but Barry Shulman in the one seat. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to exploit my unknown opponents and I lost pot after pot. A couple of times I found myself in one of those awful limit situations where I got to the river with a marginal amount of showdown value facing just one more bet in a now bloated pot. Both times I elected to put the last bet in despite not feeling great about it, and both times got shown the better hand. On my final hand I got it in on 9d6c3d with AdKd against what turned out to be a set of sixes. I bricked and I left the Rio as quickly as I could to get to the Venetian.
About fifteen minutes later I was taking my seat in the Venetian deep stack $560. The table had a number of familiar young faces, plus a few random that I didn't know. We began with 15,000 and it was already 100/200 so we were playing meaningful pots right off the bat. I played a few medium sized pots back and forth with some of the young guys on the table, with mixed results. I got somewhere up to 20,000 at one point, but that bled back down then with about 15,000 left at 200-400 I called a shove in a spot where I thought my opponent could be squeezing with 77 for 20 BB when I think 88 or 99 should've been the cutoff hand. It wouldn't have mattered though because he had QQ and never came close to losing the hand. I survived until 300-600 and open jammed 76s with 5100 in mid position only to be called by the same player in the BB who now had AA.
Saturday brought the kind of afternoon that only the World Series can produce. It started at the Rio for the $1,000 no limit event, where everyone begins with the fairly short stack of 3,000 and there are literally thousands of players, most of which are not professionals. My table was pretty much totally unknown to me, and many were very friendly and happy to get a social vibe going on the table. After some discussion, a number of us decided that we'd have ourselves a "beer-level" at the beginning of the third level, right after break. During break I found a friend I'd been seated next to while running deep in the main last year who said he was stepping out for a smoke, so I joined him. When I got back our five beers were ordered and there was a series of cheers at the table. "This is why I love the Saturday tournaments at the Rio boys, where the smoke breaks meet the beer-levels". That's one of the things I always loved most about this job, the option and opportunity to just cut the hell loose when and if you're inclined. For the most part I just want to sit there buzzing on nothing more than coffee like a normal person, but it's just so comforting to know that if the occasion presents itself, I can get a little ripped for no apparent reason.
Up until that point the tournament had been pretty straight forward. I found aces in a spot where I got to 3-bet two players pre then bet large on the flop and jam for under pot on the turn, which got folded to. I played a ton of small pots where sometimes I had it and sometimes I didn't, but nobody wanted to battle with the friendly guy encouraging the beer-level. When I finally played a big hand, we got all the money in. At 50-100 it folded to MP1 who limped. Next to act limped and it folded around to me in the SB with 3300 and TT. I made it 525 and after the BB folded the first limper quickly called. The other limper folded and we saw a flop of 995 rainbow. I fired out 700 and he jacked it up to 1600. The way he'd been playing I didn't really think he had an overpair, though it wouldn't shock me if I got shown one now and then, especially something more vulnerable to a suck out like JJ. Still, I thought he just had weird stuff and mid pairs that raised without a plan pretty often too, so I jammed for 1225 more and after tanking for a long time he called and rolled over 88. The turn brought a 6 and the river the necessary 7 to fill his straight, and I was sent packing.
I waved my table goodbye and decided to let the day take me where it would. Some girls I knew were over at the Marquee day club at the Cosmo, which I had prepared for by bringing my swimsuit in the car. I made my way over to meet them and attempted to gain entry in my suit while carrying my swim-trunks in hand with the intention of changing inside, but I was told by the bouncer that there were no changing rooms there and I had to go to the bathroom down the hall and change into "pool attire". As I entered the men's room I witnessed a handicapped man in a wheelchair being taken into one of the stalls. The only other was already occupied, and I mentally prepared to sit through listening to two dudes shit for a while at close proximity. Fifteen minutes later neither the handicapped dude or the guy in the next stall with diarrhea so bad it was sure to leave him handicapped had emerged from their respective toilet cubicle. I left the bathroom and realized that right next to it was a singular private bathroom but just as I reached it some other dude went in first. I stood there another 10 minutes waiting on any stall to free up in total vain.
I returned to the line of Marquee still in my suit to the confused look of the bouncer. "You still in yo clothes man" he began.
"Yes I know, I've been waiting on the same three dudes taking a shit that whole time. Is there any other bathroom around here?"
"Yea but you're gonna have to go downstairs."
After a quick change into my merely my trunks, shirt and socks I departed the downstairs bathroom and returned to the line. They gave me some trouble about the shoe situation, but relented and decided that I could walk in with my dress shoes. "Why you come dressed like this to a pool party?" he asked me curiously. "I just got off work ya know?" I assured him. A moment later I was upstairs and walking towards the pool when I ran into the girls, who were in the process of leaving. They'd already spent the day drinking and baking, and were now hungry. As we exited the club the bouncer looked at me befuddled and asked "Didn't I just see you walk in?"
One intoxicating lunch and brief elevator ride later we were in the Cosmo self-parking garage. The girl I came to see grabbed my swimsuit and ran off into some area of the parking lot that obscured her from view. Her friend wasn't amused and elected to go wait in the car while I texted her to return the suit. After some back and forth plus much playful refusal on her part she popped into view and I walked over to get my clothes back. She leaned up against some unfortunate random's SUV and withheld the suit from me with an alluring look in her eye. We started making out, which led to dry humping up against the SUV and everything that goes with it. For once in my life, I thought better of getting curious about just how far things could go, not only because she was a bit drunk from her day of partying but also because it was so damn out in the open I really thought I'd get caught this time by some horrified pedestrian who'd drive or walk by and wonder why the fuck this is happening at 5:00pm. The Cosmo is far too nice and new a hotel to go getting black-listed from with those kind of antics.
I spent the evening on the strip at the Aria sweating my friend Steven McLoughlin in his PLO game. As it drew later into the night we decided to make our way over to the birthday gathering of Brent Roberts AKA Uncle B, in a bar near the UNLV campus. I didn't even have the energy left to hang out for one drink, and after saying hello to everyone and socializing a while I decided to leave early and returned home. I relaxed out back the rest of the night, then popped a sleeping pill in hopes of getting a good night's rest for once.
Sunday was spent exercising, watching the NBA finals, and writing this blog entry. This shit takes a while.
Thursday May 19th-Friday May 20th: Coincidentally, Friday May 20th became a day of more beginnings and endings than I could've possibly anticipated when I began writing this log two and a half months ago. Back then I never would've thought when I wrote my last entry, online poker as I knew it in the U.S. and my entire adult career would be at an end. Conversely, it seems I may only be at the beginning of a new career trajectory.
I'm pleased with what I got done during that period. I worked harder in the gym in that span than any other period of my life and found energy and endurance I didn't think I had by training with Shon. Again, I think I peaked out right around 10% body fat, and I think getting into single digits without an exceptionally strict diet and caloric intake would be very difficult. Additionally, my weight hasn't really changed all that much; I think I started this about 192 and I'm something like ~186 now (I was never paying much attention to the scale). However, it's a much more solid and proportionate mid 180's than it ever was before, so I'm happy with the end result.
It seems that unless you're someone who's forced by profession to train, once you take it to that quantity and consistency you eventually become addicted to it. Despite having officially "let myself go" it just seems crazy to me that I would cut back to any less than five days a week. If I wake up and don't have anything pertinent to do, I don't know why I wouldn't start my day exercising on an empty stomach, if only to jump-start my metabolism for the day and get my blood flowing. Even if you dedicate certain periods to something more intense, I think most guys realize the value in making a long term commitment to staying fit. On the days I'm not sore to the point of near immobilization and contemplating suicide, I feel great!
Taking off from the diet is pleasant though. I don't want to go ballistic with it, but knowing that you can accept a social food offering of some kind is reassuring. I had a beer yesterday; that shit was wild. The hard part will be during the series when people are always out to amazing restaurants, but with the help of Black Friday I'm pretty confident I can pass most of those up on account of being unable to handle fancy silverware after breaking my fingers while crossing them in hopes of getting my frozen funds back.
The 20th also saw the final table of the 2011 WPT Championship play out to the winner Scott Seiver and thus end our season. Scott is truly a deserving champion and a great guy I've known ever since one 2007 Summer day on the Fontana Lounge balcony in Bellagio when he approached me to say how much he liked my suit. Since then Scott has gone on to become one of the most dominant online and live players, both in tournaments and cash games. To those who knew him and knew of him, his win last night was little surprise, and most definitely one for the good guys.
While my play over this year's World Poker Tour season was unfortunate, everything else appears to have worked out excellent. The segment has received strong positive feedback and my coworkers are happy to have me on board. I've had a great time doing every aspect of the job and can't wait to continue doing so in future seasons. I still can't believe it's real.
The most obvious event on the horizon is the WSOP. I imagine I'll be pretty lazy about writing in the week coming up to it, but perhaps something will rattle around the old skull and I'll have to put it to print. Otherwise I'll start up again with the WSOP reports as I did last year. I'll be playing a full schedule of NLH and PLH events at the series, as well as events at the Venetian and Caesar's when there's nothing on at the Rio. I'm curious to see how the series will change this year with the looming presence of Black Friday, but I intend on having an ass load of fun no matter what.
The last item I had no idea would begin so formally today is the announcement of BOOM, the new poker documentary created by the guys who did the Busto to Robusto series and directed by Ryan Firpo. I was contacted by Ryan after last years WSOP and he asked whether I'd be interested in doing the documentary with them. He said they were still considering numerous other people, but that he liked me as a potential subject. We continued communicating for a few months and by the end of the year he informed me I"d been selected to star in it along two other major protagonists.
We first met where we were to start filming, at the Celebrity Invitational in February at the Commerce Casino. Just speaking with Ryan I could tell he really knew the story he was telling about the greater poker industry and that he was on to something special. They did a number of interviews with me through the Invitational and LAPC plus followed me around for numerous days filming everyday interactions. They filmed me again in Las Vegas during the WPT Championship and will cap it off with some footage during the WSOP. The release is scheduled for early 2012.
Feedback to the trailer has been immensely positive thus far, but you can come to your own conclusion here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4noS7EmKqNM&hd=1
And while so much has ended today, there is still so much that has yet to be played out…