My 2013 WSOP Adventure
My 2013 World Series Of Poker Adventure.
I opted not to write this up immediately after the event, deciding instead to enjoy the rest of my time in Vegas without obsessing over what I could have done differently. Instead I drank way too much and got way to little sleep. Combine that with over 8 hours over poker played on Saturday and there's a pretty good chance that I'm not going to remember most of the specifics of any one hand, but I can still give you an idea of how it went down.
The tourney started off slow. In what I think was a legitimate trend and not just me bitching, I card dead for most of the tourney. I don't think I've seen as many 53o in my life. Just to extra frustrating the flop kept hitting the garbage that I was mucking pre-flop. If I ever got some semi decent cards that I might consider taking a shot at I would either be under the gun, or someone would raise ahead of me. I was intentionally playing tight so I stayed out of those hands as well. My goal, and I think I was successful at it was to not have to make any difficult decisions. Make enough difficult decisions and sooner or later you'll get one wrong, which often means the end of your tourney. Its a bit a of a catch 22. I don't usually like to start playing random hands until I win a few, just to get in a poker rhythm, but I can't get into that rhythm without playing hands.
So I stuck with the conservative play style and focused on analyzing the other players at the table. On a side note, I'm not the best at reading players by any means, but I at least try to pay attention to what is going on so I can learn a little bit about my opponent's tendencies. Half the table was on their iPhone whenever they weren't in the hand. If you're going to invest $1500 in a tournament I would think you would do more to make sure you were in it as long as possible.
So where was I? Ah yes, card dead. I won my first hand 50 minutes into level one. Fortunately I hadn't played many so I was still around the starting stack size. I didn't win my second hand until halfway through the second round. This time it was big one. I Ah9h and the flop was all hearts. The guy across from me makes small bet and I call. He's been playing a lot of hands, and been up and down. I don't think he's much of a threat. The turn is another heart. He bets again and I call. He takes a third stab at the pot and I raise. He goes all in. When I call he says the ace is good, he has the queen. I'm up to about 6.5K from a start of about 4.5K.
I chipped up gradually winning a hand or two an hour. Three big hands come to mind.
First I get to see a flop with KQo and find myself looking back at an ace, and two more kings. Relatively new player across from me calls my medium sized bet. I don't have a great read on him, but my initial impression is that he was a pretty good player. I'm definitely concerned that he has AK. The turn shows he does not as it beings the case king. I bet again thinking he's probably got an ace and isn't putting me on a king, he reluctantly calls. He checks on the river and I make what I think ends up being the perfect bet. I want to say it was about 1.2K into a 2-3K pot. It would leave the loser of the hand with enough chips not quite be in all-in or nothing mode, but only barely. I say it was a perfect bet though because he sat and thought about it for at least a few minutes before finally calling. I think any more and he is able to lay it down, and any less and I would have lets some on the table. I'm up to about 10.5K now.
My next big hand I get to see a cheap flop with A5s. I flop a flush draw, and pick up a straight draw on the turn. The guy next to me, who has been fairly aggressive all day bets on both streets. He makes a large bet on river as I complete my straight. I think about it for a while trying to figure out if there is any way he can have a better straight. While possible, it doesn't seem likely at all. I call and he mucks his hand before I take my hands off my chips.
The last big hand before the dinner break isn't all that dramatic. I have pocket aces, and the small stack raises preflop. I re-raise about half his stack and he pushes. He fails to improve before and I'm up to about 14K before dinner. I'm the chip leader at the table.
We had been playing the featured table room, and they had started breaking down the tables and moving the remaining players in to the other room. The get to my table just before dinner. I only play a few hands at the new table before it too is broken up.
Now that I think about it, I lied, there was one other big hand that I played just before the dinner break. I have 56o in the big blind and for some reason a bunch of people limp into the pot. I pick up an open ended straight draw on an otherwise uninteresting flop. I hit an 8 high straight on the turn, and the small blind bets into me. I raise, and he calls. Everyone else drops out. The river is a rag and the small blind bets again. I make a big raise and he calls. I'm already counting my chips and thinking how I'm in great shape to make it through the day. And then he turns over 56 for a chop. So I won a bunch of antes and my blinds.
Things just didn't go very well for me at the new table. Now that I'm thinking about, breaking up the tables was probably the worst thing to happen to me. I was happy at the time when we broke because there were some solid players at my table that I didn't mind getting away from, but I also had been playing with many of them for five hours and I had good reads on them. I had to start over at the new table.
I lost my first big hand of the night with pocket jacks. I raise preflop and get a couple of callers. The flop is 7 or 8 high with two spades. The short stack pushes all in and I call. He has two spades and rivers his flush to double up and knock me down to 10K. Not much I can do there.
After that the blinds and ante's just start to hurt. I'm able to steal them occasionally to stop the bleeding, but I'm still not playing many hands and certainly not winning any big ones. A few missed flops here and there and the worst single play of my tournament and I'm down to 6.5k at the end of the eighth blind level
What was the worst play you ask? I have AJs in late position. Easily the best starting hand I've had in an hour if not longer. I raise and get three callers. The flop is rags, 2,3,7 or something similar, and it checks around. The turn is a four and again checks for all. The river brings my ace. Short stack across from me makes a pot sized bet. The next guy calls. I distinctly remember thinking to myself that an ace on the river might not be good for me because it straight way to easy. I'm thinking short stack has a pair of fives. Based on his conversations with another guy at the table I think he's at least a semi-pro, and he's been battling back from nothing ever since I joined the table. The only thing that makes sense for him is a pocket fives. It can't be a bluff because you have to figure at least one of the three other guys has an ace and might call. He also played pretty passively early on in the hand so I'm thinking he doesn't have me out kicked if he does have an ace.
The second guy I'm not as concerned with. I haven't seen him play a ton, but he's been pretty loose, I put him on an ace at best I'm thinking I also have him out kicked. So I talk myself into calling. There are so many chips in the pot that I start thinking about how much better off I'll be after claiming them. And I call like an idiot. The fourth guy in the hand folds.
So small stack turns over 56s. I never would have put him on that. I can't see him calling a preflop raise with that and so little chips to spare. But it doesn't matter because he still had the straight that I thought he was going to turn over. And just to add to it, the other guy had what I put him on. An ace with a weaker kicker than I had. Of coarse his kicker was a two which gave him two pair, so even if the short stack was bluffing I'd have lost the hand. Uhg.
My only excuse is that it was still the best hand I'd seen in a while, and by this point in the tourney I was starting to get mentally fatigued. I wasn't paying as much attention to the action when I wasn't in the hand, and was having a little trouble concentrating in general. Still it was a bad call and I knew it and I paid the price.
By level nine the blinds are up to 300/600 with a 75 ante. A half our of that without doing more than stealing the blinds and antes maybe once and I'm down to about 4.5k. I get A9s in late position. The guy with two pair from the last hand limps. I make a bigger than usual raise hoping to grab a nice sized pot pre-flop, but he calls. The flop has two of my suit and we check it down. The turn is an ace . He checks, I bet he calls. The turn is a harmless three. Not my suit. He goes all in. He has me covered. I don't buy it. If he has something why try to push me out? If he has something why not make a bet I can call, or let me bet and then raise me? I call and he turns over A3. He rivered his second pair while avoiding the one in my suit. I stare it in shock for a few seconds and then its good luck guys, see you next year.
In hindsight this was also a terrible call. I should have folded and left myself to fight another day. I also probably should have pushed all-in on the flop. I had a ton of outs plus some fold equity that probably would have won the pot for me there. A little too passive I think.
I had a blast playing and I'm pretty proud of how well I did, but I can't decide if more frustrated that I went out so early last year, or that I lasted so long with nothing to show for it this time.
Rich, from the poker league went out towards the end of level 5. I thought some of my other friends gamble a lot, but he's crazy. The night before the WSOP when I went to bed to get some so that I would be well rested for the next day, he went to play some poker to warm up. He then played some blackjack and eventually found himself at a craps table. Until seven in the morning. We got up at nine so that we'd have enough time to eat and get over the Rio to register before it started at noon. I don't think he spent more than ten waking minutes without gambling, with the exception of when we would take a break to eat. And he did really well too. Except for the most brutal craps table I've ever seen that we had the misfortune of playing on Saturday morning.
Aaron, also from our poker group won over $1000 making $5 bets on video roulette. For most of the 11+ hours that I was at the Rio, he was playing roulette. They display some statistics about hot and cold numbers and the percentage of odd/even black/red and his strategy was to take the coldest number and bet it until it hits. Mathematically irrelevant but in practice at least this time, very effective. While playing roulette for that long he managed to skip dinner and consume many many free drinks. Shortly thereafter he would disappear and not reappear until 7 the next morning. He vaguely recalls hitting a bar in Ceasars and then their poker room, but can't remember most of what happened during that time. He slept most of Saturday recovering.
Craftsteak at the MGM Grand. If you're into that sort of thing, and money is no object you can get the best steak you will ever have. Jason was determined to have their Japanese Wygu (sp?) steak. The rest of us just wanted a good steak. A good steak was $50. The American Wygo was $120. The Japanese was $200. The tasting menu for the Japanese was $275. I normally would consider going all out for the expensive stake here, but I'm a little shell shocked in the wallet department from my WSOP loss and the other failed gambling of the weekend. I also don't think that I'll be able to tell the difference. I'm not enough of a connoisseur where I think I'll be able to tell the difference between a really high quality steak and a really really high quality steak. I was wrong. Jason and Rich got the tasting while Aaron and I got what we later termed peasant steaks. Jason and Rich gave us a taste of their steak and I think it has ruined every other steak that I will ever eat. It literally melted in your mouth. There was the perfect amount of marbling where the flavor couldn't have been any more perfect, but at the same time, it wasn't overly fatty.
The Stage Door Casino. You know that shitty looking bar/liquor store/Casino just off the strip between the Flamingo and Bally's? The one that looks like you'll get stabbed if you go near it? That place is awesome. Sunday night around two in the morning there actually isn't that much to do, even in Vegas. Not as many clubs or bars are open and they close earlier. No shows, not very many people , its basically gambling or nothing. So we went there. Three of us had three or four rounds of drinks and it cost us $21. less than a single round just about anywhere else on the strip. And Jason won $30 playing video poker.
So that's my 2013 WSOP adventure. Hopefully I'll be back next year.