Traffic approaching the Las Vegas strip, and Venetian in particular is pretty horrific at present. The F1 preparation has wreaked havoc with the roads and the everyday traffic flow, which is bad enough for commuters at the best of times. Cars are forced to move at a snail's pace if approaching the strip, and if you take an errant turn, it might just result in you going 1/4 of a mile in half an hour with no way to escape the gridlock. As I understand it, the F1 for the season is effectively already over anyway, with the leader being basically home and dry. However, as with almost everything in the world, it comes down to money, even at the expense of ripping up the town and disrupting the local's lives. I haven't spoken to a single local here who thinks the F1 is a good thing. It just makes everyone's journey into work harder, slower, and more expensive. And the damn thing doesn't even start for another 3 weeks. So, there's that...
It looks like being the last day 1, people are ready to gamble it up. I actually have KK on the first hand I sit, and it goes right to the river 3 way until they finally find a fold. I've seen 3 bust outs on this table already and we're only on level 1. I've already managed to manoeuvre my starting stack from 40k to 50k as we reach the end of the first 40 minutes.
Level 3, and a few familiar faces have now joined the table. I'm on 45k and we have 94 players at present.
First break, and I'm on 46k.
We're back from the break, and I've advanced up to about 55k with the blinds at 200/400/400and average chips at 49k, so for now we're sitting pretty. It's not the easiest of tables, but I'm not overly concerned about anybody at the moment.
Back down to just over 50k by virtue of seeing a few flops. Currently there are 115 players left from 158, but I'd expect that number to go up by a decent amount, as there looks like being a faily good overlay on the guarantee, which normally attracts the sharks at the last minute.
Vomit time, get the bucket. It's amazing sometimes how people play so badly, yet managed to get rewarded for it. The shorthand version is an Asian robot who clearly has either AK, AQ, or AJ manages to call my 6k bet on the turn (we're at 300/600/600 on a board of 5685. I have 69 suited in the blind which is a pair, a gutshot, and a flush draw. The river is a King which doesn't make my flush, and he immediately bets 15k into what is already a pretty big pot. The dilemma here for me is that after watching him during the hand, he's shaking like a shitting dog, and doesn't like this board at all. He's not acting, the pulse is going crazy and he genuinely looks like he's not wanting a call for his river bet. My problem is, did he miss, or did he just get lucky after making a bad call? It's possible this is just a bet to win uncontested. I decide it's marginal, and if I'm wrong then I'm still OK if not great if I lose the pot. I call. He shows AK, and I drop to about 25k, whilst he drags in a pot of 50k or so. Gotta love tournaments.
The same guy just called a player's all-in bet for 23 bb with KQ offsuit. The all-in player shoved with 10 10, and of course he lost. To me, it's the sort of call that you might make later in the event with a ton of chips, but he obviously decided KQ was worth the money. I guess I know where my double-up is coming from. I'm on 20k at 300/600/600 as we approach the next break..
15 minute break, and I'm on 17k, which isn't ideal.
Finally, a bit of love from the gods. I find 88. There are a couple of limps, and then a woman who has a big stack and hasn't cracked a smile for around 5 hours decides to raise to 5600. I don't love the spot, but I need the double up, so I ship. The guy 3 to my left sighs and now decides to shove as well for a bigger amount, which I feel will hopefully give me a bit of protection. I put him on AQ. The girl then deliberates, but not for very long, and calls the two all-ins. Now I've gone on record as saying that people can do what they like, but my feeling is that she likely has AK and can't find a fold even with two players all-in. As the 3 of us are now done, before the cards go over, I say that I feel I'm winning , and that she has AK, and him likely AQ. It sometimes goes wrong, and you look a bit foolish, but on this occasion, they duly flip over AK and AQ as prophesised. Don't you just love it when I'm right.
The unsmiling woman immediately flops a king, and I rise to put on my jacket and leave. The river is an 8, keeping me in the game and catapulting me back to a decent stack with a full triple-up. Finally, a bit of love for our hero, and thankfully, it couldn't have come at a better time. The AQ leaves shaking his head, and the woman keeps the same stoic expression she's had since we started the tournament.
Shortly afterwards, I flop an up and down straight draw, and I decide to gamble against a shorter stack who has Aces. I immediately turn the nuts, and he's drawing dead, which is always a nice situation in a tournament. I'm up to around 80k, when 5 minutes ago I was on fumes...
Level 10, and I'm cruising on 170k, with average chips at around 90k. The table has some better players occupying the vacated seats now, and I know a couple of them to be internet players, who are perfectly capable, but are also, well...internet players. I'll just leave that out there. Registration is now thankfully closed, and I'm informed we will play down to 31 players tonight from the 248 final day entrants, of which there are currently 97. So, a long way to go, and certainly not a given to make day 2 just yet as the blinds will kick up soon. Still, we're in a good spot right now, so we'll keep going.
Level 11, and whilst I'm not a fan of overkill with the chip-stack pictures, I'm pretty sure anyone who reads the updates (and especially anyone who has bought shares) will likely want to see this one. I just cracked AA with 66 when I flopped a set and he couldn't fold the flop when I shoved. I'm on about 230k now at 1k/2k/2k.
Nearing the end of level 12 at 1500/2500/2500, and I take a small hit when my AK gets rivered by AJ. I drop down to 190k or so. 69 players remain.
Back from the break, and I find QQ but have to lay it down on an ace high flop when the player bets out, I 3-bet to try to define his hand. He defines it for me by 4-betting, so I leave it alone. 66 left at 2k/3k/3k. I'm on about 150k, which is unfortunate as I seem to have run hot in the middle part of the tournament, and cooled down considerably as we get to the business end of day 1. Still, we're swashing and buckling, so there's always hope.
57 players are now remaining, but we're now at the shove-fest part of the evening. It's 2k/4k/4k blinds and antes, meaning it costs you 10k a round to play. If you're not winning any pots that can get pretty desperate pretty quickly. I've seen a few all-ins with very sketchy hands in the last few minutes, and the increased levels are probably why. A lot of the dead wood is now gone, so the remaining players fighting for a day 2 spot are better and more aggressive. Hold onto your hats.
120k as we approach level 15. I've been pretty card dead, and the decent hands I have picked up have been outdrawn. I just saw al all-in with J10 vs KK on a Jack high flop. Turn Jack, river Jack. What a wonderful life.
We are on level 15 at 3k/5k/5k, and I've just got outflopped again by ace-rag. We still need to lose 17 more players to go into day 2, and my stack has gone in the wrong direction for the last 2 hours. I'm on 100k or so, but the average stack is now 205k. I won't be trying to dribble into day 2, as that strategy rarely works out well. I will be aggressive with the stack I have, while it's still at a meaningful and dangerous level. It's a bit of a crappy spot, because I'd rather get knocked out on level one than bust as you near the end of the day if you don't make the money. Obviously getting the lot in the middle on level 1 is somewhat sub-optimal, but it's essentially the same thing as if you bust out 11 hours later... time for a bit more run-good.
Just as we approach the break, I catapult myself back up to a much more user-friendly 180k, by virtue of playing a hand in a way that all the clever internet kids who know everything would never dream of. It was a risk, but I flatted a preflop raise with KK, because my intuition told me that someone else on the table was going to reraise. It comes around to this player who raises the initial 10k to 45k, which is then flatted again by a pretty tight player on my right. It now comes back to me, and I drop the hammer and move all-in. The pot is plenty big enough to win as is, but I'd rather get more money in and get called by a worse hand and run the risk now, since that was pretty much the plan at the start. The reraiser sighs, and quickly calls, tabling AK offsuit after the other player mucks. He looks visibly surprised that my hand is as strong as it is, and even says "nice hand, well played" before the board runs out. It's a nasty moment as the dreaded ace often drops, and he actually picks up more outs with a gutshot straight draw on the turn. However, for once KK holds up, and I'm back in the hunt again with 43 players left as we hit 3k/6k/6k, 12 players away from being in the money and bagging for the day.
38 left, and I put in a 3x raise with AK. It gets called by J7 offsuit, who proceeds to make a pair of sevens and take a big dent out of my stack. Nice hand Sir.
I still seem to be having a purple patch with 88, although saying that, it's rarely easy. I call a raise preflop, and 3 way the flop comes out 89J with two spades. Sure, I've flopped a set, but it's super vulnerable on this type of board. The first player checks, and the second then raises all-in for about 85k. I have her covered but it's going to be painful if I don't come out on top, plus there's another player behind. I feel from watching her like she wouldn't play the straight or a bigger set this way, and I decide this is probably the moment. I also move all-in for about 135k. The third player really looks like he wants to call, but finally gives it up. We go on our backs, and she tables K 10 offsuit for an up and down straight draw. The other player later said he had a similar sort of hand, but my shove was just a bit too much. Two small red cards luckily hit the turn and river, and I bust her, getting myself back over 200k again.
34 players now left, and the blinds are at 4k/8k/8k... in other words... expensive. Busting out now would be pretty horrible considering the ups and downs I've had. Of course, it's happened to me before, and it'll happen again. All I can do is play my best, and see what happens.
Well... we were at 34 players for what seemed like hours. Typically the better players will make hay during this period, raising every hand with reckless abandon and hoovering up all the easy chips as players try to avoid the axe. I don't blame them. It's what I do when I have a stack in those spots.
I've made no secret in the past of the fact that whilst I've met some great people, and formed some great relationships through poker, I have a reasonably high amount of contempt for the majority of the players who play poker with a good deal of regularity, and those who do it for a living in particular. In general, a high proportion of poker players, the ones in their 20's and 30's particularly, tend to be unkempt, poorly mannered, lacking in socials skills, and generally of the opinion that the world owes them a living. Not the greatest or most gracious of individuals basically. There are a few diamonds in the rough of course, and today I've seen some familiar faces, and met a few interesting and fun new ones. but they were far outweighed by a number of people I'd rather avoid like the plague given the chance. I bring this up because for some reason tonight, something irritated me when we were at 33 players. I sat, and played my hands as normal, but suddenly noticed that on the other 3 tables, people I had previously observed as being reluctant to engage in any form of physical exertion, all suddenly seemed to feel the urge to get up and stretch their legs. The toll of playing poker for hours has clearly made them all decide that a brisk stroll would be good for the circulation. Incidentally, whilst they're having a brief sojourn around the cardroom, they casually decide to eyeball the other player's chip stacks, to do a brief reconnaissance of the opposition and assess their chances of making the cut as we near the bubble. Some people might say that doing this is perfectly OK. I remember a few years back, the casino policy was most certainly to make players stay in their seats, and just play the tournament, but that rule appears to have gone by the wayside, something I feel is an error. Personally, I've always just found it a bit scummy, the way that a fair number of unshaven unsmiling guys (they are always guys), are scavenging around, like hyenas looking for scraps. It just turns my stomach a bit, but I'm sure they'd be of the opinion that they're doing nothing wrong. End of sermon.
We finally go hand for hand when we lose a player. The meercats are craning their necks during hands, trying to scope out the next victim. My stack drops a bit, but I'm not lowest on my table, and I strategically pick up a couple of pots here and there. We go up a level, and at 5k/10k/10k we are now hand for hand. The blinds go through me once, and finally, a big stack busts out one of the shorter ones, and at last, I've bagged up and made a day 2. I'm not going to be one of the biggest stacks, that's for sure, but I'm not quite on life support at the moment either. I'll just chalk it up as a win for now. I'm back at 11a.m tomorrow (it's after midnight now, and we've been playing for over 13 hours straight) , so I'm going to grab a bite, get home, and boil my head for a few hours before we start afresh tomorrow with a complete redraw, and days 1 A,B,C,D and E are all combined. The dream is still alive.