Liking my first table already. Sporting the Larry David "you know who wears sunglasses indoors? - blind people and assholes" t-shirt, I'm delighted to find three guys sporting sunglasses at the felt.
Despite losing 500 fairly fast from my 7500 starting stack, when a non believer calls down with 10 10 with an ace and a king on the board, I'm still feeling good and ready to try to batter them. Most are either good natured and chatty, or unsmiling/unspeaking robots. It's about 50/50.
Nice early pain and down to 3600 as we hit level two. Raise with AQ, called by QJ, bet every street on a queen high flop, and he rivers a jack for two pair. Grit teeth.
Lost another when I flop a set of twos, and he turns a set of nines. Luckily I don't stack off but it's been a brutal start with me getting turned over three times in the past 75 minutes. Not loving life right now and will likely choose to attack rather than defend if the moment comes up. Down to 1900.
I squeeze out an ace in the big blind, and a player to my left who I've see play a few scabby hands and therefore don't trust raises me to 300. I decide I'm defending if everyone else folds so I raise to 650, and tell him he probably wishes he'd limped now. He doesn't look overjoyed at the reraise but my chips are small money so he moves me all in.
I look at the other card, which turns out to be another ace, so I gamble against what turns out to be his KJ offsuit.
Board runs out fine and I'm back to 3900.
I repop a mid position raiser in the button to 800 with AK off. The guy who rivered me earlier with QJ makes it 2k. Feels like KK or AA but either way he isn't folding if I shove so I give it up and am back to 3100.
Back from the break and back to 4k. The guy who was walking on water is now losing a few pots, though sadly not to me. He actually strikes me more as a recreational player who has a clue about the game but is moving chips about and having fun, not always with the optimum strategy. He just bet 2k into two players on the river with a flush on a KK322 board. K 10 enjoyed the Christmas present.
Despite losing a chunk of my stack, I and the table are all pretty jovial, chatting and bullshitting. Nice Irish guy to my left, decided he'd had enough of missing flops and took a race with AK vs 77. The other guy flopped a seven and that was that.
Always nice when they put me under pressure and I have to do some Jedi mind tricks to pull something out of the bag.
I find KK (hallelujah), and there's an early position raise to 450 from my neighbour. A lot of people will advocate just stuffing it in here and hoping. I'm not one of them, especially in the WSOP, where players can either sandbag aces, or call you with some funky connectors and get lucky. The button who is a Stars Brasilian team Pro also calls and the three of us see a flop.
Q Q 6. Kind of looks ok for me but the original raiser bets out. Gulp.
I try to define my hand at this point and practically min-raise to 1325. My bet screams strength, and the Stars player goes away and it's back to the original raiser.
He tanks for 4 minutes which feels like an act, then moves me in for the rest of my money. Shit.
Now I'm in a terrible spot. Call and if I'm wrong I may be drawing dead. My raise screamed strength, but his reraise looks even stronger, especially after the delayed tank which feels designed to get me to call.
Now we really get into the mind games. It's a part of poker I really enjoy, even when I'm at the bad end of the decision.
I tank and go through it mentally. I have about 2400 left and I sized my raise to look committed. He decided he didn't believe me, or had me locked up and now I have to be the hero or the donkey who couldn't let kings go on a two queen flop.
I debate with myself and try to pick up something from his body language.
I am easily capable of folding kings here, but after a little dialogue I tell him it's a good bet, but I just don't believe him. I call.
He flips over 10 10. Score one for the spidey-sense.
No dramas in the turn or river, (I actually make kings full anyway) and I'm feeling good about my read and back to a more stable 8k as we hit 25/100/200.
A kind of interesting hand just came up. I raised with 66, and the kid next to me was talking on his cellphone. The dealer who otherwise had been very competent, said nothing and then WAITED about 15 seconds for the kid to finish his phone call, and left him with a live hand! He now wants to raise it.
Now I don't want to be "that guy". I never do. These asshats that quote the letter of the rules at someone, normally to further their own ends. However in this instance I think it's pretty clear that the guys hand is dead and he shouldn't be continuing in the hand once cards are dealt and he's still talking on the phone. He certainly shouldn't be allowed to be raising. On his part it's kind of an honest mistake, but a more astute dealer would just have declared his hand dead before he even acted and it would have been a non-issue..
Anyway, here we are and heads up out of position. I decide not to be the baby at the table. I make the point, but call and see the flop of 998 with him. I check and he then throws out a small c-bet. I call.
Turn and river are both checked and comes a 7 and a Queen.
I tell him I guess I'm hoping he has AK and show my sixes. He mucks and I take it down.
Now at second twenty minute break and I'm still around the 8k mark. We have a full table which has tightened up a bit.
Level 5 marches onward and we are at 50/150/300. Selective aggression is the watchword at the moment.
The player who was on his cellphone earlier just busted in a race. Generally the table is pretty tight and solid now, but there are at least two spots who will call off with sub standard hands. Just sitting tight right now and not getting too out of line.
Back to a full table. I've dipped back to about 6k with decent hands that have missed or I've been pushed out of pots with. Not super fussed but I have to be aware of the table dynamic and may need to resteal with something less than premium to stay in business.
Last level before dinner break. Or the level of death as I've often come to call it.
I've dipped to 5300 and now we are 50/200/400 so 1100 a round to play. Time to ramp it up a gear and double up or die.
Perfect timing. Find aces and min raise to 800. Everyone folds for the first time all day. Balls.
30 mins to the end of the level and I blind shove blind vs blind. Older English guy in the big blind who I don't know gives me the speech about "I know you have a shit hand, I'm probably at least 30%" etc, etc... Then finally gives it up. Not sure what I had, I never looked.
Jam again with AK on an early raiser and he grumbles and folds. I'm back up to about 6500. Not ideal but I'm feeling like I'm tuned in.
Just felt the curse of the pre-dinner break level bust out for max pain. I actually don't have a problem with how I played my exit hand. People who have opinions or just fancy having a pop feel free to chime in.
I'm one of the two short stacks on the table, and I raise in mid position to 975 with 6c4c. European lagtard three seats behind pops it to 2100 and everyone folds to me.
I can't keep raise/folding and heads up I don't dislike the hand. If I call I will have about 4600 left. Enough to make a pretty meaningful flop bet if here's any connection, or if I feel he's missed everything also with me first to speak. I call the 2100.
Flop is 225. A gutshot and no good for him unless he has connected or has an overpair right?
First dibs and all that. I move all in and his body language tells me he has nothing and can't call.
So he calls. He has A10 offsuit. Of course.
I improve with a six but he also hits a ten, and taps the table and scoops in the pot like it was the most natural thing in the world. Good luck everyone and off we go.
As I say I'd rather have a more powerful hand, but with a shorter stack needs as must and all that, and I think I took the initiative on the flop which was the right play. He didn't have a ton of chips to call off light with, but he called anyway and that was that.
Get me out of the Rio. Last WSOP shot in two days.