Tuesday, July 10, 2007

2007 Main Event

On Monday I played in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker and I felt real serious.

I did not expect that.

I thought I would be all laid back.

Cause I was free rolling and all.

But it didn't feel like a free roll. No this felt more like a golden opportunity. It's not often I play a poker tournament where I could win over 8 million dollars.

No. This mattered. And I had my game face on.

I've heard people fantasize about playing the Main Event, as if it would be a dream, but for me it was quite stressful.

I believe I could make money in this tournament. And why shouldn't I? I've spent the past 4 years playing poker. Studying poker. Talking about poker. Making money playing poker.

And when I'm not playing poker one of my hobbies is playing internet poker.

I like to calculate hand odds. You know. See how often different cards win.

That's my idea of a good time.

I could have learned French.

I could have gone to build homes in New Orleans.

Instead I race suited connectors.

The good news is the practice seems to have finally paid off. I felt so completely at ease today playing against my opponents. It was easy to identify who everyone was at the table. After sitting with them for 4 hours I was positive there were only 2 other players thinking beyond second level. I never had to race. I was never all in. I just sat back and accumulated chips, usually without showing down.

I got to my seat by 12:30 pm. My 20k starting stack was 19700. Not too bad for being 30 minutes late. I only missed two orbits.

Why was I late?

Two reasons.

1-I thought it was more important for me to have a real good morning at home than rush to simultaneously enter the Amazon room with 1700 people jamming through 2 doors at 12 noon.

2- I read that pros have been showing up at 1pm. So 12:30 is certainly reasonable enough for me. Kind of like I'm a semi-pro.

It's like casting call. We need the amateurs at noon. Robert at 12:30. And all the Full Tilt guys at 1.

90 minutes later, at the first break I had 25,975 chips and I felt like a pro.

I was most proud of the chips that came from this gentleman who just played too many hands. I kept jumping in there with him and if I hit anything at all, I went to showdown. Each time at showdown he'd kind of grimace at my middle pair, as if he was unimpressed. All I could wonder was what the hell was he mucking?

He was gone pretty early. Like 100/200 early.

As usual I got in trouble with 5 8 suited today. It's really amazing. It finds me every time at the table. Maybe I just gotta stop playing that hand.

The best part here, the sign of insanity, is how I act surprised.

As if 5 8 suited is supposed to be winning for me.

Not sure why I decided the 5 8 was a playable hand in the first place but what's done is done.

I also won a few pots with queen 9 today. I can't stop playing that hand either.

Actually. You know what? The 5 8 suited hand can come off the chart. For those of you who paid money to come on my poker fantasy camp weekend it's time to take out your top 10 starting hand chart. I have an important update for you guys.

Please remove 5 8 from the chart. It is no longer the 5th best starting hand. Move pocket jacks from 6th to 5th and replace the 5 8. And then put queen nine suited into the 6 spot.

You know why school children shouldn't play the 5 8?

Well just listen to my tale of woe. I had the 5 8 suited in the big blind and received an 8 high flop. I bet but still they called. Well a second heart came on the turn and I bet again. But still they called. Well then the 8 of hearts on the river. It gave me trips. But it also put a flush out there.

Well what do you think class?

It was a runner runner flush so it's really hard to put anyone on it.

Or at least it was until they raised me.

And the punchline?

They both have flushes!

Guy 1 has jack 10 of hearts.

Guy 2 has king 6 of hearts.

Awesome. I didn't even need the extra 8 on the river. I was already winning.

In Level 3 we went to 200/400 and I got more aggressive with preflop raising.

I was at 25,075 when I won a big pot with ace queen to get up to 33125.

At this point we had already lost 3 players.

To anyone who says poker isn't a sport I gotta say that the whole endurance part is what really makes the case. It's freaking hard to sit there for hours and hours and not make mistakes. Like these guys who were eliminated were playing better the first hour or two. But then they just starting losing patience. It's kind of like they cracked mentally. They couldn't take sitting there for 2 hours at a time. Over and over. Till 3:40 in the morning.

And that only gets you to day 2.

It's fascinating really. Cause you can't really have a bad hand.

And 120 minutes can sure take awhile.

As can 8 days.

And there is a weird energy in the room.

An angry unshowered testosterone.

It sort of feels like a heavyweight fight.

But there's no ring.

Just felt tables.

I also swear I smelled dog food today.

I'm not sure I want to go deeper therapeutically with that one. Lets just leave it at that.

My table broke soon after but before I left I played a really interesting hand against a guy to my right. Can I say he's Asian? It's the most descriptive thing I can tell you about him. (And I have no problem at all if in his blog he's writing about the "European looking guy" he sat next to.)

He was a nice guy. We chatted a bit. He played pretty tight.

So on this particular hand he limps under the gun.

I look down in 2nd position at pocket aces. I call behind him. It's my favorite move. Plus there had been a whole bunch of reraising and stealing preflop which I was hoping would continue. On this hand it didn't and instead everyone folded to the blinds who both called.

So now the 4 of us see the jack, 9, 7 flop.

Both blinds check. The Nice guy to my right checks. I bet 1150 into the 1600 pot.

Both blinds fold. The Nice guy to my right raises me to 3000.

Damn. He has no idea how strong I am.

Although I guess I have no idea how strong he is. He limped under the gun.

This is tough. He could even have 8 10 suited.

He says softly to me "I got you."

I feel complete confidence from his energy. And I really believe that he also thinks he's doing a nice guy thing trying to help me.

Am I really going to play a huge pot with him after I've received this clue?

What happens if he turns over a set? I'll bust a fuse in my ego.

So I go back over the hand. He limped in under the gun. He could have jacks.

Damn I can't decide what to do. I'm dying to call. But I've been building up the chips real nicely and don't want to play a big pot with just anoverpair at this point. I'll do that when the blinds are bigger. He could have a set or two pair.

I finally ask him if he'll show me if I fold.

He says yes.

I fold.

And turns over pocket queens.


As if they were the best hand.

He he.

He asks me if I had ace jack. Or king jack.

It was an awesome moment.

Because he REALLY thought he had me. And I saw it in him. So I believed him too.

In psychology they say we fear what has already happened.

Obviously I have some issues with pocket aces.

Almost like I've been abused by them and now I don't trust them.

And even though it was wrong for me to fold here I felt good about feeling his strength from his body language.

After the dinner break we went to 200/400/50. 1100 a round.

I started out fast playing 5 of the first 10 hands. I got playable cards but I could tell people were getting annoyed. This was great for me. There were 3 small stacks. And I was picking on them.

And then a bad thing happened.

They broke my table.

I got moved to a table where a dude had 90000 chips. So much for my bullying.

At this point I had 31,275. The average stack was 30,355.

At this new table I fold the first orbit. I'm checking out the players. I'm in no rush. I take the blinds in position with suited connectors in the 2nd orbit. Then I pick up ace king suited a hand or two later and raise it up to 1500. Big blind calls.

Flop comes king, king, 7.


Betting occurs.

I underbet flop. He calls.

I bet turn, he reraises all in, I call.

He has king queen. Which is in big trouble versus my ace king.

And then a 7 comes on the river. Which gives us both full houses and a chopped pot. He gets his chips back.

So instead of being up to 45 I stayed at 30.

That really hurt.

It didn't put me on tilt. But was a certainly a set back.

Think about how hard it is to take some one's stack. 3 things need to happen.

1-I need to get the hand. Like here I picked up ace king and raised it to 1500.

2- I need to hit the hand. How often am I gonna flop trip kings?

3- I need to get paid off. And how lucky do I have to be to have an opponent in the hand with a worse kicker?

So to do all 3 of these things and then not get the chips left me frustrated.

On the last hand before the break the big stack raised under the gun to 1500. I called in middle position with pocket 9's. I thought about raising and the power of doing that but decided that there was no amount I could raise here that would matter to him. He has 90k. What am I going to do? Make it 6?

Can I fold this hand? Am I allowed to play that weakly? Can I just crawl up into a ball? How about some apple juice? Can we have nap time soon?

So I call the 1500 in position and see a 3,4,8 flop.

It's a dream. As long as he doesn't have an overpair to 9's.

He bets 3500. I call.

Turn is a 10. Now he bets 10k.

And he killed my courage with his big stack. Can I really put all my chips in here? He raised under the gun. He could definitely have a pocket pair bigger than 9's. All of 5 the 5 over pairs are possibilities.

Best case scenario for me is he has ace king or a small pair. But if he has a small pair then he could also have a set.

I think about raising all in. But in the end I didn't trust my read enough. So I folded.

That just wasn't my spot. I should have folded on the flop. Or raised if I thought I was ahead. But it was weak of a play to call a big stack's flop bet. He has enough chips to keep firing bullets.
I gotta raise or fold and be done with the hand.

We went on break and they announced that we had just lost 220 players in that last 120 minute level. That's almost 2 players a minute.

In the next level our blinds would be going to 300/600 and 75 ante. 1650 a round.

It was the first time all day I started calculating my M. My stack was now down to 23 thousand where I hadn't been since level 1.

Play got pretty wild after dinner. and so I started to think I was going to get involved in a race. The bigger stacks weren't letting small stacks steal blinds. Races were happening all over the room.

I kept waiting and folding. The guy to my left came in under the gun for 2000. I was in the big blind and looked down at pocket queens. I could definitely reraise here. But this is also a great spot to trap since we know that if I check he's going to bet the flop no matter what comes out.

So as long as there's no overcard to my queen, I'm ready to play a big pot right here right now.

The only thing I need to know for sure is that he doesn't have a big pair. Cause then I'm in big trouble. Would he raise aces to 2000 under the gun? What does his body say?

Sometimes it just seems like aces and other times it doesn't. Well for me this time it just didn't seem like aces.

So I went with my read. And I trusted it. Till the the end of the world.

There were 47650 chips in the middle on a 9 high board when we both turned over our cards.

I showed my queens. And then he turned over his cards.

They were 9's and at first I thought this was good. But then I saw the 9 on the board. The whole thing was a blur. He hit a set. I trapped myself.

And of course if we're at lower blinds etc. I could have gotten away from this hand. Just like I did a little too well earlier in the tournament post flop with my aces.

But in this moment I think I got a little too concerned with becoming a smaller stack. And after being sick for the past week, I'm not sure I had the stamina to lay down queens on a nine high board.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to play in the World Series of Poker. For myself. For the blog. For you the readers. For The Vegas Year.

Unfortunately the 8 million dollar fantasy is over. I gotta get back to the cash tables.

Photos are courtesy of my favorite person. If you click them you can see bigger versions.


FreeFormCoder said...

You're a pro Robert, and we're all proud of you. Now go and take that dead money at the cash tables!

Check Raise Chin said...

Good reading....I felt if I was there live with you. This blog has been a pleasure to read this past year and I look forward to it every day.

One thing Rob ...I'm not fond about the limping in with Aces though. I know that it can lead to a big pot but if you limp in with AA but in a tournament I just think you're asking for trouble. It's so hard to get big hands so when you get them I really feel like you should play em hard and if you get outdrawn so be it. I'm from the Faith No More school (be aggressive, b,e aggressive) especially if you have big hands, winning a small pot sucks when you have a monster but it's still winning chips.

Other than that poker is about luck sometimes and I guess your luck didn't hold out this time around, oh well there's always next year...you'll have more experience and you'll do even better. Great Job Rob!

Dr. Needle said...

I agree 100% with Chin. That was the first thing that stood out. Limping with those Aces was the only error (IMHO) you made.That and of course getting sucked into the 9's...meh, I'll see you Wed...I got dinner! Good job overall especially winning that Mega sat!

eric said...


Thanks for the ride.

So just to fill in the details on that last hand. You had 600 in as Big Blind, and then called a 1400 pre-flop chip raise with Queens?

I don't understand, you have a great pre-flop hand, that only likely gets more dicey after the flop (and you have to act first). I know you viewed it as a trap for him (but it turned out to be a trap for you). You have to take a pre-flop stand with Q's and scoop up his money. This almost just like the AA's scenario.

Pictures are cool.


Robert said...

A couple of thoughts:

Eric- I definitely got greedy on the last hand. I didn't want to raise and have him fold and "just" win his 2000. I wanted more for my queens. And smooth calling (trapping) was a way for me to accomplish this. And like I wrote in the blog, smooth calling also provided an exit plan if an ace hit.

Like lets say I reraise him to 6k preflop and he calls. Now what do I do if an ace hits on the flop?

The pot would be almost as large as my stack. Do I continue bet and give up if I get called?

I'm not saying that calling is more correct than raising. I agree that raising is usually better than calling. But there was a method to the madness of calling. There was a plan in effect. It just didn't work out. If a 9 doesn't hit I'm going to win a nice size pot here after he continue bets the flop.

Chin and Dr Needle-
I have no problem with how that pocket aces hand went down. If I raised preflop it would have just cost me more money. Because he would have still called preflop with his queens and still check raised me on the flop. Only now it would be for a bigger pot.

In the actual hand he raised me to 3000 on the flop. So if he makes pot sized bets on the turn and river, we are essentially going all in on this hand. I wasn't prepared to do that. So I got away from it. It was not a big deal for me to lose 1500 chips at this point.

Most of the time I make money from cracking aces. Not holding them. So I am not afraid to limp with them. With blinds at 200/400 (and a 30k+ stack) it wasn't a big deal for me to steal the blinds with a raise. Another 600 chips wasn't going to change my tournament. I was doing plenty of stealing with worse cards. So pocket aces became an exciting opportunity to try to win a huge pot by limping.

Yes, later in the tournament when antes kick in (if it was costing alot per round) I absolutely raise with aces. I agree with that strategy. But for me that's not essential here. Especially when I think there's also a decent chance someone might raise behind me preflop.

I have no problem limping and folding aces on the flop. Yes they're always ahead preflop. But one pair is really not that great of a hand once the board comes.

eric said...


I guess I need to know.

Did you come out betting on the flop, or did you raise.

And then if he called your raise (and didn't re-raise you) that smells like TROUBLE. Now he's slow-palying, and that's a big red flag.

Then what happened on 4th street? did you check, then he raised. I guess with a hand like this, we need more play by play.

Check Raise Chin said...

I understand your thinking Rob, I'm just saying if you re-raise the guy with QQ, maybe everybody else folds and he probably will re-raise you, then you can go all in and make a difficult decision for him. In hindsight you could've won more than the 1800 that was in the pot at that time and against one player instead of 4. In a 4 way pot Aces are in danger of getting cracked...I just think it's better to isolate another player when you have a big hand especially in tournaments. If you had raised you might have taken down 1,500 chips anyway which isn't a lot but it's still more ammunition for you. Perhaps you could've went all in...make it look like a steal?

I agree it might have been an all-in hand anyway...and it was early but if you're going to stack somebody...AA would be the hand to do it.

Premium hands are hard to come by and I just think that you have to play em hard to maximize them...if you're outdrawn or if you get a bad beat then so be it.

The QQ vs 66...was there a chance you think he could've folded to an all-in bet? Gotta be willing to die to live sometimes....

Robert said...

Regarding the final hand: I checked raised the flop so that he would bet. I didn't want to lead out with a bet and give him the chance to fold something like ace king without putting more money in.

Of course the big problem with my playing it this way was that I didn't gain any new information on what his hand was when he bets the flop.

Thus there was no way for me to distinguish a hand I could beat (like jacks or 10's) from a hand I couldn't beat (like a set of 9's).

So I kind of played it like a robot. My hand was an 80% favorite to win. And with no face cards on the board we're probably both shoving our chips out there with any medium pair.

I got unlucky that he hit his set.

If I was on top of game maybe I mini check raise on the flop and get away from it if he puts me all in.

But after 11 hours of play I over bet (still thinking I had the best hand) and committed myself to the pot. I was definitely tired and rundown. It's not a good excuse. But I was hoping to just get through the last level and home to bed.

I am still proud of my initial read that he didn't have the over pair.

I find in poker that you have to put your opponent on a hand and then trust that read. And the read preflop was right on target. It just didn't work out.

Lets say we knew for certain that he has a pair that's smaller pair than our queens. However all of the cards on the board are also smaller than queens. So there's a chance he has a set. But if he doesn't have a set then we win the pot.

Do we showdown or fold?

Between this guy hitting his set and the king queen guy chopping the pot with my ace king, I just don't think going far in this tournament was my destiny.

I had my chances. That's all I can ask for. They just didn't work out.

Willy's World said...

Nice work Robert. Being that Planters is the official peanut of the WSOP, did you at least get a tin of honey roasted peanuts as a parting gift?

Check Raise Chin said...

Curious Rob, I know that they changed the blind structure, playing this structure did you like it or was it made so people had to gamble etc....

eric said...


Exactly, you were on robot. And didn't gain any information.

Let me ask you, when you check raised him, were you pot-committed at that point?

Another interesting thing, what kind of bet did he make. Becuase you can gain information from that. Was ge trying to chase you out (which to me means weakness) -- or was it just enough, to get you you to do exactly what you did --- call and raise.

Robert said...

Willy- The Planters guy scared the crap out of me as a kid in Coney Island. There are photos somewhere of 3 year old version of myself crying and terrified of the dude in the peanut costume. So to be honest, I kind of avoided the peanut guy walking around the Rio.

Chin- The blind structure was interesting. Double the starting chips but some levels are skipped. However they also made each level 120 instead of 60 minutes. What this all means is that the first few hours have way more play. But then later on at some point they will skip some levels and that will make it tougher on the short stacks.Much less seeing flops and much more shoving preflop.

Eric- He bet 70% of the pot on the flop. 3500. Pretty standard raise. I reraised him to 10k. More than half my chips were in the middle so you could say I was pot committed. Then he pushed all in. I could have folded there and still had 10k. And of course if I know for certain that he has a set then I fold. One thing is for sure. I wasn't calling hoping to hit a 3rd queen.