Due to a family issue, I am cancelling my Summer WSOP trip in order to remain in the UK. I must apologise to the people who have invested, and also to anyone who swings by just to read the blog. However, some things are more important, and this is one of them. I would hope to be able to get out for the Venetian and Wynn schedules in the fall this year, and will know more shortly. Again, my apologies, and please watch this space for more news.
Everyone who currently has shares in the Summer package has been contacted already but I also needed to put a line up on the updates for clarity.
Due to a family issue, I am cancelling my Summer WSOP trip in order to remain in the UK. I must apologise to the people who have invested, and also to anyone who swings by just to read the blog. However, some things are more important, and this is one of them. I would hope to be able to get out for the Venetian and Wynn schedules in the fall this year, and will know more shortly. Again, my apologies, and please watch this space for more news.
In my long standing tradition of trying not to bugger everything up before we even get started, the groundwork for the Summer is already well and truly under way for me. A good 50% of the Summer package shares are already sold, I have the bones of a schedule up and on site thanks to the good folks at the WSOP and also the Venetian, who release their plans nice and early for me. The flight is booked, the car is booked, and I'm getting things organised to ensure the bulk of the trip is taken care of way up front, so I just have 3-4 weeks of trying to hit something big to worry about once I touch down.
I won't lie and say that the last year or so has been easy, it hasn't particularly. We all (well, most of us, I'm assuming) have lives, jobs, everyday crap to deal with, so I won't lament my own woes too much to the readers. In short, I'm tired from too much work and travelling, I get little time to do other stuff besides work and occasional poker these days, and am feeling a bit stuck on the hamster wheel of life on occasion. It could certainly always be worse, and despite tiredness, easily the main issue (working long draining hours), I'm not at all fazed by where I am in life right now. On the contrary, I'm actually quite excited, not just for the Summer in Las Vegas, but also for the future in general. I can't say too much at this point, mainly because I'm not too sure exactly what to say, but I will venture that changes they are a-comin'. I have a few things in motion that might see a markedly different Kevin in a year or so's time (no, I'm not going to become a woman or anything don't fret). Suffice it to say good things might just be happening, and we all could use some of those from time to time. Watch this space.
In the meantime, prep for the Summer continues in earnest. I'm getting back into fitness, I've already lost around a stone due mainly to my occasional bouts of the Keto diet, with possibly another stone to go so I'm at fighting weight for the World Series. I'm feeling good and focused about the kind of Summer that burns a lot of other people out after only a week or two. I've played a fair bit of live poker lately, and am feeling sharp and tuned in, and am looking forward to the challenges to come. Bring it on.
It's that time of year again. Well, OK, it's not. But it will be before we know it.
In the ongoing quest for efficiency, I've already started work on my 2019 Summer package to get things moving in good time. The jewel in the crown of course is the $10K main event which I again plan to play, plus at the Rio currently SIX other bracelet events, including the Monster Stack, Mini Main, Double Stack, and... wait for it...the Seniors.
Yep. You read that right.
This year in the eyes of my peers, I am officially old, and thus qualified to play in my first ever seniors event. I'm typing this through clenched teeth, as I'm not entirely sure how that happened, or where the last 10 years or so went. I must have slept a lot, as I still haven't quite let this sink in yet. The positives are that there will be a few of these tournaments dotted around at the Wynn, Venetian etc, and I fully intend to capitalise on the chance to play in them at tables of non-know it all millennials. It should be fun, and hopefully profitable, as the vibe in these events is not quite the same as the others, and should likely also be exploitable.
I'm getting the package teed up nice and early, as I want to get all my ducks in a row in plenty of time. The casinos will all release their Summer programmes in the coming weeks, and as always I'll fill in any gaps, but those who know me are well aware of the gameplan. Good value events with nice guarantees and decent structures, with some bigger buy in tournaments with hopefully a nice payday dotted in around my time there. I'm really looking forward to this trip, and to immersing myself in 3-4 weeks of attacking the schedule and trying for a big score.
People who have any funds previously on credit will shortly get an email advising of this, so if you wish to invest, please email me through the normal channels, or via the link on the homepage. More info to come soon.
Yep, about 7 months ago I was in Las Vegas, playing the WSOP and associated events, getting my ass handed to me on occasion, and trying to throw a bit of humour into the sometimes grim trip reports, with an occasional degree of success.
Here we are once more.
I've thought about firing this thing up on more than one occasion, and not done so. I've no shortage of things I'd like to say on any number of topics, maybe in the coming weeks I'll unburden myself (whilst simultaneously burdening you lot) with a few of my thoughts. A bit of time has passed. We're all getting a little bit older, a bit more worldly-wise, and maybe just a bit closer to the realisation that a lot of what goes on out there in poker and in life is really just filler or white noise. When it comes down to it, you just have to do the best you can, try to be the best possible version of you, and try to just draw some good from the experiences you have along the way, and be good to the people for whom you care. That's it really.
Don't worry. I haven't got religion. The past few years of seeing it in others has unquestionably showed me that that path certainly isn't for me based on what I've seen it do to others. If it works for you then great, but it's all you, I'm not buying whatever you're selling. I've always been a thinker (maybe being more of a doer earlier in life would have been a better call), but now and ongoing I guess my mindset has changed slightly. It's not always been plain sailing for me, and might not be on the road ahead (you try sailing a boat on a road), but I'm content to make my own way in the world and try to get what happiness I can along the way. I've had some shitty experiences in life, we all have I'm sure, but if I can encompass what I'm trying to say here in one inspirational picture from the Pez-dispenser of thought provoking digital images, I guess it'd probably be this one:
I know, I know...Pass the Kool-Aid...
As life has trundled along, relationships have begun and ended, people have got upset, sad, angry, nasty, bitter, there's been heartache, tears, pain, doubt, etc... all the crappy stuff associated with life which we all go through in our friendships, relationships and encounters with others. I suppose I've come to realise most of it is just excess baggage, unless it affects you in a positive way. We discover a lot about other people, and also ourselves from our experiences and our decisions. And we're all trying to get by, we just all do it differently, including me. If you've wronged me in the past, then whether you admit it or not, I forgive you. If you feel I've wronged you, then I'm sorry. If you love me, then that's great. If you despise me, then that's OK too. Have yourself a ball.
I think the happiest people are the ones who are just at peace with themselves and others, and just accept that we're all different and are searching for something we don't truly understand. People lie, cheat, steal, and say and do horrible things to each other. If it affects you negatively when someone does it to you, then they've succeeded in what they were trying to accomplish, by design or accident. Disappoint them, and be your own person, getting the best you can from whatever you do in life, and try to enhance the lives of others as you go along as a side effect if possible. Some ties are meant to be broken for good, but let that shit go, and don't be dragging it around like a bag of rocks for the rest of your time here. It just isn't worth it.
Next week...how to strip down a diesel engine in 36 easy steps!
2019 Summer schedule coming shortly.
If there were a bracelet event for having an even temperament and not going off the rails when bad things happen in poker, then I might just be world champion. Unfortunately, stuff like that neither pays the bills, nor boosts your bank balance, however stoic you are, and however you think it puts you in a better place by not acting like a moron just because things aren't running great. As previously said, you simply need to keep doing the right stuff, and when it comes good you reap the rewards. That's what I tell myself anyway.
I kick off today in what is going to be my last event of this trip, with a still positive attitude, and a lot of self belief. Now really would however, be a good time to actually win something.
A somewhat blurry, but nevertheless illustrative photo of the kind of jewellery that poker players think is tasteful and attractive. It might just be the ugliest watch I've ever seen.
This table doesn't seem to be for the faint of heart. At least 4 players including me are casualties from the $10K WSOP main event. By the looks of it they all came to play today, with a large number of pretty hugs pots being pushed around in the first two levels. I drop to 17K when a scabby preflop raise with 63 offsuit from one guy flops him two pair, and then I get back to 20K again when with Jc 9c I get in another pot with two guys happy to make it expensive preflop. When it comes Qc 10d 3c, that's enough for me to fire out 10K of my 15K stack into both of them, and have them posture and grumble, and finally fold.
Right now I'm holding steady on 19K on level 3. There are currently 405/477 players remaining. This is a pretty tough table, but sometimes tough tables are the ones on which you can accumulate a stack.
Horror for one player here when he bangs every street with AA on a Q774 board. He bets 7500 on the turn, and the guy with 99 (yep) decides to raise all-in. He calls and the 9 that arrives on the river rewards more horrible play and gives the guy who played it far worse a 50K stack for his efforts.
It's quite hard to tell here if the play on this table is good or simply aggressive and almost mindless. Pots are far bigger than they need to be for the stage at which we're currently at. I just saw a French kid bet 5K on the river with air (KJ) on an A Q 2 5 7. The other guy called off for his tournament life with A8 offsuit, which was good. There are times to play proper poker and make moves, but whilst I'm more than capable of mixing it up with these guys, when all the money goes in, I'll nearly always have the best hand or the best draw unless I'm really short stacked, I can promise you that.
First break after 3 levels, and I'm on 19K. I go outside for some sun and walk as far as I can from everyone, a good 200 yards down Sands avenue. An old guy from the tournament comes all the way down as well, and sparks up a foul smelling cigar. He then proceeds to make a phone call on speaker, standing right next to me, with literally no-one else around for 100 yards. I miss some aspects of playing poker full time, however the total ignorance of most of the players when it comes to manners and respecting the personal space of others is something that I really don't miss at all.
I've just busted someone and got myself up to more like 31K by being aware and taking a few risks. I flat a raise with QQ on the button which has had a number of callers. Reraising here of course is an option, and most of the smart kids would say raising is mandatory. However, the smart kids aren't sitting at this table, and I can tell you for nothing that a 4 way pot when the bet is 800 on this table is still going to be a 4 way pot if I make it 3200 to go, so there's no point.
Flop comes out 665 and when everyone checks to me I make it 1500 to go. Two players call, and the turn is a 7, with no flush draw out there. Now one player wants to jam for 5200. I'm not in love with it, but I ain't folding and I make the call whilst the other player folds. The all-in turns over A 10... and I bust him
Do dreams actually come true?
I seem to be getting some run good in this level, and I've now got my stack up from the 20K start to a much healthier 60K, which is a good 35K over the average. Part of this was because I find KK (wait, that's not the good bit), and it's raised to 900 ahead of me. I know poker is all ranges and position and testosterone nowadays, but I really don't subscribe to most of it. As you all know, I'd rather try to rely on my card sense, and just try to bust people out and win the thing. I flat call the 900, because my spidey-sense is tingling, and it tells the the guy on my left who hasn't entered the pot let, looks like he wants to stick in a raise. He duly does after some deliberation, and he makes it 2700. Two other players including the original 900 raiser now call, and I seem to have set the trap perfectly, as long as it now doesn't blow up in my face.
I make it 10K to go, and my neighbour who reraised now jams and the others fold. I toss in the 5K chips and he asks me if I have Aces, by which I correctly deduce he has shoved with QQ. No drama and I bust him. Good times for now. Screen shows 538/669 as we near level 6.
Sometimes a hand comes along that makes or breaks you, and in a consistent flow of events on this trip, I just had a fairly horrible one in an 85K pot. I 3-bet an early raiser with Kc 8c as he's habitually throwing out these scabby raises, and I can't let him take liberties. One other player calls and he also calls. We see a flop of Ac 3c 4h, giving me nut clubs. It's unlikely anyone should have any of this in a 3 - bet pot, and I fire out on the come for 3700, happy to win it there and then. One player folds, and now this guy makes it 11K to go. I've seen him turn over air a few times, and also seen him get away from a few hands when he's asked the question and been reraised. I ponder the options, and decide if he doesn't have a set, he can't call a shove with just one pair. I move in.
I'm right, he doesn't have a set. He's called the 3 bet preflop with 52, and has flopped a straight. Yep, it's ugly, but this is how big stacks are made and lost in these things. I'm not going to give myself a hard time (though I'm sure someone else can if they like). I took the initiative, put the pressure on the other guy, and then I didn't get lucky in a huge pot when I needed to. I just cast it aside and keep going. I drop back to 19K as a result of that hand, but fight my way back again to 31K as we near the mid - point of level 6.
A small argument breaks out on the last hand of the level when one player takes another's cards in error, and I'm the only player to have acted. As soon as I see this, I stop the action and as people are squabbling I suggest they just call the floor. By the time the floor arrives there's people bickering, and the floor then rules that with so many people now folding, there IS now significant action and the hand should continue. I think this was absolutely the wrong ruling, but am not blaming the floor... it seemed to be a case of "who shouts the loudest" there, and I felt that some people REALLY wanted to play their hands here, regardless of whether a misdeal would have been the right ruling. I leave them to it.
Returning for level 7, I get my stack back to over 50K again by busting out the guy who originally took a few thousand from me with 63 offsuit at the start of the day. I call a raise to 1600 with Ah Qh, and now this guy decides to jam 18K out of the big blind. The original raiser folds, and to me the shove out of the blind really stinks of someone who's trying to buy it. The problem is, sometimes you can be totally right, and still get the shaft anyway for your trouble. I cut out the chips and see it leaves me about 10K if I lose. The problem is, I'm SURE I'm right here.
I decide to go with my gut and I make the call. He shuffles around, and then tables K5 offsuit saying he hadn't looked when he shoved. So the first part was spot on, however the hard part is getting to the river without getting royally screwed.
I flop an Ace, which makes me feel a lot happier... however, he then turns a King. So now he needs a King or a Five on the end to bring me maximum pain.
He gets a Nine, and our hero is right back in the mix again. Screen showing 534/892 as we hit level 8.
Around 57K now as we near the one hour dinner break. I've been playing well, and stealing, value betting and also folding at just the right times. I really hope this table doesn't break, as despite some of the players being very capable, I'm also very comfortable playing against them all.
Dinner break and I have 67 Big Blinds when we return. I am very confident of winning this thing, despite there still being 471/1016 players left.
Back from the break, and the screen shows 450/1048 remaining.
My table broke, which I consider to be bad news. Never mind. Just deal with it and move onward. Still on 65K or so. 405/1048 left at 200/600/1200.
I've dropped to 53K and done nothing wrong. On yet another new table the stacks are getting bigger, and one guy has well over 200K. I'm not too sure how his big overbet bullying tactic is going to work out on me, since I'm well and truly in "I don't really give a shit how many chips you have" mode today.
Level 13 following a 15 minute break, and we're at 300/1K/2K. I'm on say, 40K and haven't hit anything at all. I'm playing just fine, and just need one pot, or the one opportunity I know I can generate, to see me nicely into day 2, and in with a chance to smash the hell out of this thing.
People are now spazzing left right and centre, and I've seen plenty of 50K pots where hands like A5 and A10 go to war all-in preflop. I'd like to avoid that if at all possible as it kind of nullifies any element of skill that might exist, however, with some of these guys, I may just have to hold tight and push hard. The main screen now shows 279/1048 remain.
Some guy at the table, possibly from Brazil or similar, still likes to bully everyone with his 200K+ stack. He's not terribly sophisticated, and has proudly shown his AK to the table after making it 15K to go with it, like he's got Aces or something. I'd really like to play a big pot with him just to jam it up him, but with his stack growing, mine shrinking, and no playable hands appearing yet, it's going to possibly be a scrap, unless something rewards my discipline sometimes soon.
Level 14 now, and still utterly card dead. It's been very hard going since returning from dinner, and it feels a lot like most of the time the first card I squeeze out is either a 2,3 or a 4, followed by something equally as grim and unplayable. It's very close to the moment where I just have to jam and hope it wins or gets through.
Sometimes it must be said, I really hate poker players. Hate of course, is a very strong word. Maybe I mean intensely dislike. They all play by the same stupid script, and most of them don't even know why they do it.
One guy jams, and some bearded young twat two seats away asks for a count, when it's bloody obvious roughly how much the bet is. He then calls for most of his stack, with AJ offsuit, and wins. It's just pretty horrible.
The big stack just doubled me up when I have to jam A9, and he calls with KQ. I hit an Ace, and live again. The next hand he wanks away a huge portion of his stack, then gets most of it back when he jams with AA and gets called by A4. There really is no justice sometimes.
Last level (15) of the day, and I've just busted. I get to 26K with the levels at 500/1500/3000. I squeeze out an Ace in the cutoff and jam versus the button and blinds, all fold, except the big blind who can't put down his A9 for another 23K, which is about 2/3 of his stack. He hits a Nine, and that's instantly the end of my tournament after 11 & 1/2 hours, and getting past 1,000 players, and also my Summer after 3 very tough hard going weeks. Stupidly I still feel that I'm playing poker just fine, and I'll regroup and get ready for the next series and attack it as I always do. It seems there's rarely much justice in poker for the good guys (not just me, I know a ton of great players who just get day after day of pain). The scumbags all too often seem to be the ones winning all the money and getting all the run-good when needed, normally with loud and ugly displays of boorishness as it happens, but I haven't given up just yet on myself, or things eventually coming good as long as I get a fair shake, and play as well as I know I can. Maybe life and karma turns around at some point. You just need to be sat at the table with the right attitude and some chips when it finally does.
In a not uncommon display of confidence, I have decided that it's about time I won a WSOP bracelet, and that today should be the day that get things moving in that direction. To this end I come out blasting in the $1500 NLH event no 66, and turn my 7500 starting stack into 7900 and manage to make it look easy along the way.
I lose a sizeable pot versus a pretty useful kid on my left when I raise with Ac 10c, and get called. It comes As Kc 3c so I have nut spades and top pair. I fire the flop again for 525 and get called. The turn pairs the King with the Ks, but brings no club, and I bet once again... he calls again.
The river is the 10s which now gives me three pair and puts out three spades on the board, an ugly outcome when I'd have happily played for a chunk on the flop with the right action. Now the kid wants to bet 3K. Ugh. I can't call here, and I take a hit an drop back to 6K.
I nick a pot or two and bump back to 7K again. Quite an action table considering we're on level 1. Screen shows around 1000 players at the moment.
Level 2, and I'm on 6300. Had a few hands with potential, but nobody is making any major mistakes at the table so I'm not getting too aggressive preflop.
Car crash poker midway through level 2. I am in the big blind with 9h 10h and there's a raise to 300 from a kid who just shoved his short stack with Jc 5c, got called by AQ, and made a flush to double up. I call the 300, and flop decent when it comes 267 with two hearts. I have two overs, a gutshot, and a flush draw, and against this kid I certainly want to take the initiative. I bet out for 300, he makes it 800, and I move him in for about 1800 more. He calls, and tables JJ, with no hearts. I manage to brick everything, and my stack now looks more like 3300. I'm perfectly happy with the way I played the hand, just not the outcome.
Poker is a paradox. You can be playing great (or at least believe you are), you can flop the monster combo-draws, do pretty much everything technically right, meaning get the money in correctly, get others to make the poor decisions etc, and yet you can still get the shaft. This can happen for a long time in tournamants, and when you're in the middle of it, it really is no fun at all. I just got the shaft yet again, and busted out as we approach the first break. Basically 10 9 suited. I raise in position, get reraised by the blind. I flop a pair and a straight draw, bet and get raised, make two pair on the turn, and he now hits a gutshot with 87 offsuit. I'm not annoyed, it's just no fun. I'll spare the rambling... no excuses or complaining. I'm off to clear my head and get back on the horse tomorrow for the Venetian $1100.
A touch of Deja Vu today as I again play a Venetian $600 one day event. I am unusually positive for some unbeknown reason, let's see what we can do this time.
Level 2, and some pretty big pots being played early, though not by me. One Aussie kid flopped Quads with QQ vs AK on a QQKA3 board and it all went in, and then another guy had AA vs JJ, so plenty of money moving round the table. I'm still on the 20K start, and hoping for a better run than yesterday.
A bad beat of sorts as I get moved tables from the big blind. A whole new bunch of faces to figure out already. I lose a pot with Ah 10h when it comes A 8 9 and I bet out, get raised, fold, and am shown A8. Marvellous.
My enthusiasm is dented slightly when I run JJ into KK, and lose 4K. We are on level 4 and the big blind pays the ante for the whole table. Screen shows 300/348 right now, and I'd like to come out of the blocks with a pot I can win.
Poker tournaments can be cruel when it feels like you're struggling to win a hand. I just mucked AJ offsuit preflop to a sizeable raise as it's a pretty shitty holding and doesn't stand up well too often when the Ace flops. Of course it then comes out AJ9 and an old grunter wants to shove for 13K on the flop. Marvellous.
First break and I'm on 13,500. Not the best of starts, but I've done little wrong. Grin and bear it. Off outside for some sun.
Lovely and warm outside. I drift away from the poker stories and the smell of weed, and eat some pistachios and chill out for 10 minutes. Back to the fun, and still waiting on something playable to manifest itself.
It does precisely that when I'm in the big blind with 86 and the flop comes out 682 all clubs. The other guy in the pot fires out a bet and I simply call as people seem to be calling with any drawing cards. The turn is the Ac putting 4 clubs out, and irritatingly, the river is a fifth club, and now this guy wants to bet 1K into a pot of 7500 or so. I make the call and he shows 10 10 with the 10c to scoop, and would have called a shove on the flop with it anyway. Down to 8K.
Patience is a virtue I guess. I make it 1K to go with QQ, and an older guy shoves in his whole stack, the rest fold, and we get it on with my Queens holding up vs his 10 10. It felt like very hard work, but at least I'm back to 16K again as we approach level 6.
A flurry of bust-outs as AK beats QQ, QQ beats AK, and AK beats 10 10 means we are about to get new players. I was involved in none of the hands. Now 306/433 as we start level 6 and 400/200/400.
Level 7 nears and I'm not seeing much. I'm a big believer that once you have the table sussed, then actually having good cards means very little, and you can raise regularly with gleeful abandon. However, when the table is full of guys who like to invent a flop they might win with, and who will call you down regardless, that's not the way forward, so for now it's nuts and bolts. 16K has become 11K, and I'm just grinding along right now.
Level 8 now, and it's still a grind. I'd love to be able to write something spicy, but sadly this table is basically just have the best hand and have it stand up. No one is big on conversation, and the humour quotient is sadly absent. Never mind, you can't always have it good.
I've rocked it out, and on 7K I decide I need to make a stand. My 66 gets called by AK, and a flop of 6A2 and no turn or river horrors means I get a full double. Another orbit and 98 on an A98 flop keeps me in the mix. Now we have 306/490 players, and I'm on 15K as we near level 9 and 800/400/800.
Level 9, and the Indian kid two to my left continues to walk on water when he puts in a button raise with K8, and the blind shoves on him when he wakes up with QQ. Of course the King immediately flops. It must be nice to run like God.
269/506 remain and it's been a long slog so far. I've held my own but there's been very little finesse to it. It's mainly been choose the moments and bang it in, which isn't very skilful, but sometimes, that's just what needs to be done.
Level 10 now and we're at 1000/500/1000. I have around 7K which isn't great but is still a threat. We've lost half of the field, and all is folded to me, and I look down at Kh Jh. It's not a great hand, but versus the blinds neither of whom have a ton of chips, it's well worth the shove. I jam it in, and the big blind says he can't fold, and calls me for about 25% of his stack with...
54 offsuit. Well played buddy.
The board runs out 2 2 A 9..... 3, and he rivers a straight to bust me. I won't lower myself to say anything. I exit the room and realise I still have a lot to learn about the finer points of this game.
WSOP $1500 tomorrow. Winning something and getting a working stack would be nice.
Updates from noon.
It's easy to moan and carp about the unfairness of life and how you can't get a good run going when it's most needed. The harder but better thing to do is to shrug it off and just get onto the next one and try to win something. To that end I'm at the V today in their tournament bat-cave to try to bang something in the $600 daily with $200K guaranteed. I was originally going to play the PH event, but should I make day 2, it clashes with the WSOP $1500 at the Rio on the 5th July, so playing it seems a tad silly.
I punt up to 24K or so from the 20K starting stack in the first few levels, and as people filter in, we're now at a full table. One guy just blew his brains out with a double gutshot draw on the turn, against the big blind who had 74 and flopped two pair. Christmas for one lucky guy.
The structure in this is only 30 minute levels, it being a one day event and all. We are already on level 5, and the WSOP this ain't. I'm not getting too flairy right now, the level of play is so sloppy that you can likely get paid off well when you hit, and it's not worth bleeding off chips trying to get to clever. 22K right now, and the screen shows 280/319 players.
We're playing here with a big blind ante, and the table shows signs of being willing to gamble with one pair if they flop it. For a one day event I kind of want to go big or go home early, though bleeding off chips to see each flop doesn't look like a good strategy.
Level 6 and I win a small pot when I bet on the steal, and turn a gutshot straight. Shortly after I lose with 99 vs 77 when his 7h makes a flush. On around 15K still.
Occasionally in a tournament, a hand comes up where it really doesn't matter what the other guy has, I'm going to play it, for all the money, every time. That hand just came up.
An Asian guy who has played a lot of pots, and shows any Ace proudly like it's a full house, raises to 1500 at 400/200/400. I look down at Ad Qd, and decide that raising him is pointless, I may as well simply see a flop. I have about 15K still, and he has maybe double that. Another player calls behind, and we see three cards.
It comes out Qh Kd 10d. I have a pair, and a Royal Flush draw, or if you prefer, the nut flush draw, and a gutshot straight draw, with the Jd giving me the mortal nuts if it hits. Really these are the kind of hands I want to play in big pots later in the tournament, and as a semi-bluff if possible. You're really not in terrible shape against anything, and are never drawing dead.
I check, happy to check-raise the flop, and both players surprisingly check behind. Quite honestly, I was fully expecting a bet from the Asian, he's been firing at everything to date. I could really do without missing the turn and river, so I decide to bet in the dark for 3300 before the turn card comes out, which effectively is the same as if I'd raised a bet on the flop. I'm not looking at the turn card, not that I'd expect this guy to pick up on any body language whether I'd hit or missed, but still. The other player quickly folds, and the Asian guy thinks for a millisecond, and makes it 15K to go, putting me all-in. I don't like calling for my chips in these things, but as said, with this hand I really don't care what he has, it's impossible for me to be drawing dead. I call.
He turns over AK offsuit for top pair and a gutshot. I have second pair, also a gutshot, and the aforementioned mega flush draw. Honestly I'm actually a bit surprised to see him with AK, but there it is. The turn I can now see is the 4s... so not a great one for me, however, had I banged the flop immediately instead, he's doing the exact same thing here, so it's largely academic. I just need some love on the river.
It comes the Ac, giving us both Aces up, but him Aces and Kings. That'll be that then. This tournament felt quite fast, considering I went six levels. The Encore were also having a $550 with $100K guarantee, and quite honestly I prefer playing there nowadays, but not enough to ignore an extra $100K on the guarantee for $50 more at the Venetian. There is another of these tomorrow, and I'll likely take another shot.
Here it comes folks, the moment we've all been waiting for. Everything else pales into insignificance when stacked up against this one. Updates to follow.
Off we go, and I play some small pots off the bat to loosen up. An old rock in the two seat calls my river bet with Ace high (which wins) but the cheapness and the free advertising is well worth the price of admission. Shortly after I get the money back from someone else, and shortly after that, I river a boat with 99, and make a 2k value bet at 75/150 to put my 50K starting stack up to a nice 54K. Slow progression today is the key if at all possible.
Level one is in the bag, and after two hours of play I'm on about 54K which is just peachy. I just made what all the genius kids out there would likely consider the worst fold in the history of folding. However, if they knew everything then by now they'd have moved out of their parent's basement and would be paying all their own bills by now.
I raised with AQ offsuit, and the flop came Q 10 3 with 2 diamonds and a heart. I bet again when two players check, and they both call.
The turn the Ah giving me top 2 and putting out 2 diamonds and 2 hearts. I bet again for 1100. Now the old geezer in the two seat springs to life and wants to make it 4500. The BEST situation I can hope for here is that we have the same hand, and we're chopping. It smells much worse than that of course, and I think unless I river an Ace, the situation is only going to get worse, and I let it go. There are going to be plenty of other spots in which to make money today. I've already stolen a number of pots with air, and luckily this structure is so good that I don't need to satisfy my curiosity by spending 10K or more on a bad call. Onward we go.
A little level 2 sickness for me, as I raise with AK offsuit, and the big blind stubbornly calls. The board runs out A2544 and I bet the flop and the turn, and check the river and show the AK when he also checks. I show the AK, and he turns over an ace and says "yeah, you got me", then tables A5, for Aces and 5's to beat my Aces and 4's with a King kicker. He won, but hadn't actually realised it. Ho hum. I drop below 50K for the first time today, but since it's only to 49K, I'll grin and bear it.
Don't know who the kid who sat down in the 5 seat is, but he's quite useful, and plays his button and position quite well. He just bet 2500 on the turn against the guy on my left, who made it 7400. The kid mucked almost before the bet hit the table. He tried the same on my big blind a few hands later and I fired out a 3-bet to 2200 with air and got the same result. Can't let him take too many liberties.
We've been going just over 3 hours, and I'm back to 52K or so.
The good guys just hit 61,000, by virtue of a fun hand where I flatted a 700 preflop bet with Ah Kh, and it gets banged by my neighbour to 2500 and called in a second spot by the aforementioned kid who likes to play position aggressively. I only have have AK, but throwing it away here is pretty bad poker when we're so deep stacked so I call.
Flop is AJ3 with one heart. I bet out for 1600 and get called in 2 spots. The turn brings 7h giving me top/top, and the nut flush draw. The kid now wants to bet 4800, and whilst not loving it, I'm not folding so I call. The other guy folds.
The river is an offsuit ten, and he checks to me. I could be missing some value here, but experience has taught me that a bet here with one pair is a bad move. I likely don't get called if I'm behind, and I probably only get raised if I'm beaten, or if the guy is very good. Either way, it's a bad time to bet so I check behind. He tables 6h 5h for a turned straight draw and flush draw. His flush would have been no good, but it's cheap info, and I take down the pot anyway. 13 minutes until the end of level 2, and the second break. Life is going OK for now.
Midway into level 3, and I'm still fine on 62K. Blinds are now at 25/150/300, so tonnes of play. Generally it's been a good table with a jovial atmosphere, and everyone has been getting along and swapping chips around. We lost one guy when he went down to 11K after a raising war, and a board that ended up 5585 on the turn and the other player shipped. Personally I think it was KK vs QQ but we never saw the hands. Anyway, the 11K busted a little after this, when he shoved 10 10 into AA.
The atmosphere changed a bit, when a new dealer comes in. She tutts twice when I collect the 25 antes (which most dealers appreciate as long as the number is correct), then she says that most dealers don't like it when a player does that (which is totally incorrect), and finally when I toss out 100 for the ante, she requests I put out 25, even though there are 8 other 25 chips right there for her to make change. I'm not going to get bent out of shape. Some dealers just have a way about them, and I'm not going to be the asshole that decides to argue over stuff as trivial as this. I simply tel her it looks like we're not going to be swapping phone numbers anytime soon, and I leave it at that. She'll be gone soon so I get past it and just move along.
She departs from the table, and the good atmosphere resumes. Another new kid joins us, and loses a couple of smallish pots straight away with some early aggression. This level has been pretty bleak for me, but I've not done any real damage, and am on 57K still as we approach the third break for 20 minutes in the sun.
I go outside and prepare to enjoy a few minutes of sun and solitude. It doesn't pan out that way when a couple of gangly kids rock up and start picking hands to pieces between them. I move seats to blot out the droning, but they seem intent on being as loud as possible, and it carries a good 15 feet. Sigh. Anyway, back we go to level 4, and 50/200/400.
An hour into the level, and I'm not hitting anything at all. Tried a couple of steals that haven't worked, and my stack looks more like 49K right now. It's OK. I can grind it out with the best of them.
Nearing the conclusion of level 4, and I've been comprehensively card dead. I often try to bluster my way out of these spots, but in the main I'd rather conserve chips and wait for it to hopefully turn. The limits are at 50/200/400, and my stack though depleted by winning zero hands since dinner still looks to be around 44K. More than ample for now. I put on some music, and just play through it. Plenty of time for heroics if needed later on.
On the table behind me, Eric Seidel and Scotty Nguyen seem to be chopping up the opposition. At least it gives people a cool story to tweet to their friends. For me, the break comes up in 4 minutes, and then we play the final level of day one.
Back from the 20 minute break, and we have 2 hours remaining until bagging up for the day. I'm on 42K, which whilst not ideal, is still not causing me to sweat unduly. We're on 75/250/500, which is a bit more serious, but still not so terminal that a player with a 30K+ stack needs to get their knickers in a twist unnecessarily.
Yuk. I hate it when I'm tuned in perfectly, I read the situation, I tell the other guy his hand before he tables it, and I still lose. A pot just came up when the guy on my right makes a small raise. I call with As 3s. I fire the flop which bricks, he calls. We both check the turn, and I bet 1800 on the river with air to try to take it down. He twiddles his chips and picks up 1800. I tell him he has AQ, and he looks shocked...nods, and then calls anyway with AQ and wins the pot. 37K for our hero.
I just got chopped down to 23K after losing a pot with JJ vs 77 when he rivered a set, and then a badly timed bluff when the other player sandbagged AA all the way, and then also rivered an Ace for good measure. We're in the final hour of the day now.
And what an hour it's been... it's been spectacularly unkind to me on a number of occasions. I've had two hands where I've had both a straight draw AND a flush draw, and have had to bet the river in a sizeable pot to try to win it, but have been called super light and lost. Just to be clear here, my table image is not one of someone who is playing a ton of pots and bluffing a lot. I've been playing notably tighter since returning from the dinner break, but on two occasions I've been sigh-called on the river by guys who seem to "just want to see what you have". The most bizarre of these is when I have 5s 3s in the big blind and the board on the river shows 10 2 4 2 10 with two spades and two diamonds. I've been the aggressor, and have had to fire 6K out on the river (I don't think 5 high is going to win at showdown so I simply have to bet it), and the other guy in the pot sighs deeply and finally tosses out a call for over 1/3 of his stack, with 54 for 10's and 4's which wins. I'm never going to berate anyone, it's just not in me to do that, and hell...he was winning, but given the action half the table are scratching there heads at his call, and also how he came to be in the pot in the first place. I'm on 17K and not loving life.
Battery power on the Surface Pro has deserted me, along with good starting hands. The 1 seat on my table, a nice enough guy who has sat there all day and barely said a word, has a baseball cap, mirrored shades, and a bandanna up over his face like he's going to rob a bank. He must be on 150K, and I think he honestly hasn't lost a single pot the entire day. I'm trying to avoid getting frustrated with an itchy trigger finger. The guy on my left is raising to 3-4K every time anyone limps for the 500. He has a stack of around 100K also now, and these guys are going what you really should be doing if you have a decent stack... putting pressure on the little guys and making it hard for them. It's what I do when I'm lucky enough to be in that position, but for the second half of today, my stack's been going in the wrong direction.
Under 30 minutes remain today and we've now been going for almost 11 hours. I probably couldn't have wished for a better starting table quite honestly. I'd say it's made up mostly of recreational players, with only a couple of question marks in the mix. I keep upbeat with a positive mindset, knowing that the main thing about day one of the main is to just get through it. It's frustrating as I keep coming off second best in the hands I'm playing, even when I start out ahead, but that's just how it is. The first two levels today have been pretty great, the final three levels have been pretty grim.
I look down at JJ, and decide it's about time things turn around a bit. There's a raise to 1600 and a call. It reaches me and I make it 4900 to go. Jacks is an awkward hand, and I don't really want to see a flop where it comes baby cards and you let the straightening connectors in cheap, or a bunch of overcards, and now your Jacks probably aren't good. I can limp along, but as the day is drawing to a close, the bigger stacks are putting on the squeeze and making it tougher so I take the initiative. This is fine, until one of the bigger stacks now tosses out 12K preflop, and I have to decide if this is the moment, as it's effectively my main event life on the line. A lot of people will simply shrug and stack off here, but this doesn't feel like a squeeze to me. I think I'm racing at the very best, and I begrudgingly let it go. He quickly flashes me KK, which is a small consolation for me making the right fold, but doesn't help my plight as my stack is now in danger and at the worst possible time of the day.
With 16 minutes to go before the end of day 1A, my exit hand pops up. There's a raise to 1300, and one caller. I look down at AQ offsuit. Not a hand I'm in love with, but not one with this stack which I can just disregard either. I decide I can't keep missing flops or get pushed off of pots over and over, and I shove my now sub - 10K stack to either take a flip, or pick up the 4K or so already in, or what will be more like 20K+ if I get any action at all. Chris, the guy on my left who has around 100K, requests a count, and then calls me. I feel like I'm ahead, but we all know that rarely means much until the dust clears. All then fold to one of the guys who has put in 1300, and he dwells, then calls also... for about 50% of his stack ?!? We all play different, but this makes pretty much no sense at all to me. I do hope this doesn't get ugly.
The flop comes out K 10 5 rainbow, and I have one overcard and a gutter. I wouldn't mind this with chips to move around with, but now I'm all-in and need to improve fast. It gets worse when Chris now bets out for 10K, putting the other fella effectively all-in as well. He shuffles around and then calls for the rest, which totally baffles me. If he was going to do that why wouldn't you simply shove preflop? He then turns over Q 10 for one pair, and Chris tables K7 suited for top pair. Oh shit. I'm losing to Chris, but the other guy's play is just weird to me. He had more chips to start with, and has dusted off the lot with Queen high basically with 2 people who aren't folding. Anyway.
The turn and river are no help, and my neighbour busts us both with top pair. I'm not happy, but grumbling won't change anything. I'll still be out. After the first 4 hours today and a good start, my stack just went South instead of North over and over. Not going to make excuses or blame anyone but myself. I'll just have to win something else instead to make up for it.
Same old story, which you guys all should know by heart now. Played well, got it in good in a monster pot, got violated, etc, etc. It makes little difference and the truth of it is that really nobody cares, least of all me. Just dust yourself off and get on the horse once more. I know I'm playing great, so I'll dive back in and just play even greater.
A grim looking first table, and the young Mr Bland is situated directly on my left, which can either be fun, or a massive ball-ache depending on which one of us cripples the other first. Another 35K start stack, and 30 minute clock... lots of ways to spring up to 75K or spin out in an awful fashion. Let's go!
The guy on my right just got a full level 1 double up to 70K+, courtesy of QQ vs 77 on a Q 7 3 flop. Some people might say it's a cooler, though I'm not convinced that the 350BB all-in call was totally warranted from the 77, but there we have it. He's now out, and he has a cool story to tell everyone.
Dan gets a timely bounce right up to 55K when he flops Kings full, bangs it on all streets, and still gets paid. Jeez, what a life. We hit level 2, and I'm still on 36K or so as we get to 25/100/200.
Dan hits and runs when he gets shifted tables out of the big blind. The pretty girl on my left also gets moved, and is replaced by an even prettier one. Life plods along and my stack does very little right now as we hit level 4, and 50/150/300.
This table is pretty nuts. An unsmiling Asian guy in shades and baseball cap just stuffed in 11K preflop with KQ, and was called by the old robot in the one seat with....Q 9 offsuit, for about 1/3 of his chips. King high wins about 25K.
I'd never actually come out and say it at the table, but some of these guys are TERRIBLE. In contrast to my earlier table, where people could get away from hands, and were capable of bluffs and a modicum of a thought process, this lot appear to want to shovel as much in at every opportunity if they hit one pair and a shitty kicker. I just witnessed a 100K pot, where 2 guys had KQ, the board was King high, another player with A10 was all-in on the flop and exposed his hand whilst the other two were still going at it for the side pot. The KQ's ended up busting him and chopping it, but they were happy to bet and call 15K and then 30K on the turn and river into an initially nonexistent side pot. It was entertaining, but has none of the finesse of my original table at noon, and the gameplay has to be drastically altered, since whilst a lot of these guys are never going to win this thing, stepping on one of their land mines will almost certainly scupper any chances I might have of going deep myself. I guess we'll find out on level 5 when I return.
Little has transpired, at least from my point of view. I'm on around 30K as we hit level 6 and 75/250/500. The table is still playing kind of screwy. I flopped bottom set (444) once and that was the time no-one decided they wanted to play. This had nothing to do with my image, which is far from tight on this table, but it's frustrating when others are getting paid off with top pair and a shitty kicker. On we grind. Screen says 165/205 remain.
The old guy who spannered off his money with the Q9 earlier just blew his own brains out with 99 against KK for over 20K of his chips all-in preflop. It cut him down to fumes, and now he's gone after punting off the rest of his money a few hands later. He certainly had an interesting style, I'll give him that. When he was first to act, he checked in the dark. Every. Single. Hand.
I drop from 30K to 23K when I raise with QQ and get 3 callers, it flops an ace, and despite a c-bet, A7 decides he's not going anywhere, and also makes two pair for good measure. Sigh. Approaching level 8.
Now nearly on level 9 and I've been comprehensively card dead for a number of levels. I took a hit and have just reached the next break on 16K, which is far from ideal. I've played a few pots, but have flopped nothing or someone has improved to overtake. No one seems prone to folding here this afternoon. The moment of truth almost came on the last hand of the level, when I looked down at Ac Jc in mid position, and made it 2200 to go. There are about 3 callers (standard for this table), and then a big stack makes it 12K to proceed. I've played this guy before, and have a sneaking suspicion that although the bet size is a good one, he's also likely full of shit and just trying to buy it. If we were heads up then it might have been the time, however I decide that I'm calling off most of my money to hope I'm good or get lucky, when of course as you all know I'd rather be shoving myself first. He gets action in the end from another dude who announces "let's gamble" and punts 20K in with Kd 2d. He's duly called, and the villain tables KQ offsuit. So, I was right, however I was also spot on with the outcome. The KQ rivers a heart flush and busts the poor boob who had a rush of blood. I'm still in survival mode, playing (maybe for the first time in the entire trip) the kind of defensive poker I loathe. This will be the do or die level anyway.
OK, let's die.
Two hands wraps it up for me... KQ on a Queen high flop runs into AQ, and with the remnants of my chips (about 2500 at 100/500/1K), I then ship KJ and run into a girl who isolates and flips over AK... and that's that.
It was a dire afternoon, following the huge hand with the nuts that destroyed me this morning. Cast it aside, keep doing the right thing, and move on. The WSOP main event beckons.
DSE FALL 2016
Trials and Tribulations