Wednesday, July 08, 2009

One Lottery Ticket Please Part III

This is part 3 of my recap of playing in WSOP event 51. If you're gonna spend your hard earned time reading it, I suggest you start here first. I only offer this advice because I'm looking out for you and concerned with you living your life as well as possible.

3:54 PM. The powers that be break my table. It's a shame too cause I had a pretty good feel for how these guys were playing. And my image was immaculate. Everyone's seen me play tight for 3+ hours. Then go on a rush. If I played more hands now I definitely could have gotten some courtesy folds.

3:56 PM. I walk over to a different section and sit down at my new table. I look around at the chips. Everyone is small. The most is like 6000. Except for seat 1. He has a big stack that's pretty sloppy and because I'm on the other side of the dealer I can't get a good look at it. He has his smaller denomination chips in front too, blocking my view of his larger chips. Shame on me for not pursuing this information more arduously.

4:08 PM. I fold my first 5 hands. Taking it slow. Getting to know the table.
Around 1000 players are eliminated, leaving around 1800 left in the field. The average stack is approximately 7000. I'm very aware of how fortunate I am to have over 12k in chips. It gives me the freedom to make some moves and play some poker. It also gives me the freedom to sit back and fold if I need to.

4:09 PM. It's my big blind at 100/200. There are 5 limpers and the small blind completes. 1400 committed to the pot as I look down at ace king suited.

What to do?

I can go conservative and tap the table. It's not completely absurd. No one would ever put me on ace king later in the hand.

Of course the disadvantage would be when the flop comes out ace, 10, 4 and I'm letting someone with ace, 4 take some chips from me.

Ace King plays well heads up. I don't need to see a flop with 6 other people. I got chips. I say raise. The only question is how much?

In hindsight I wish I made a smaller raise. You know. Something like 800. Or 1000. In that moment I didn't want to raise too small and create what El Guapo might call "a plethora" of callers.

So the guy who controls the voice box in my throat said "Sixteen hundred more."

A complete overbet. I'm satisfied to take down the 1400 out there, and if one of these smaller to mid range stacks wants to repop me with pocket 8's, I'm happy to race.

One advantage of sizing my bet this way (I thought) was it might create the image of a mid pocket pair. Isn't this how lots of your friends play pocket 9's? Pocket 10's? Pocket Jacks?

They're terrified of seeing a flop. So they overbet preflop.

The guy in seat 1, under the gun, with the indiscriminate sized stack calls.

Everyone else folds.


He might have limped with aces.

He might have me out chipped.

Optimistically I might be about to increase my stack to over 25k.

But truth be told, this was the exact kind of situation I was hoping to avoid at this point of the tournament. I wanted to reraise mid stacks. Not play a big hand out of position against the only other guy at the table who can bust me.

The flop comes out 2,4,9. One club. Which happens to be the suit of my ace and king. This isn't an awful flop for me.

As far as I'm concerned my mid pair is probably still the best hand. Unless he's hit a set, or is in fact slow playing aces, I'm in good shape.

If I had pocket jacks I would bet out here. I don't want to check, have him check behind me and see an over card hit on the turn.

There's 4600 out there. If I had only raised 1000 there would be 3400 out there. But unfortunately there's 4600.

I play with my chips and eventually decide to slide out 3750. 5550 of my chips are now out in the middle. Almost half my stack. I think this bet shows I'm potentially pot committed. I ain't talking about a marijuana addiction.

The gentleman in seat 1 takes his time.

He studies the situation.

I sit calmly and stare at the chips in the middle of the table.

Just like I would do with aces.

It's like old times.

I'm waiting for him to fold.

He doesn't.

After a minute or so he declares he's all in.



All I wanted to do was play conservatively and hold onto my 12k chips until opportunity presented itself and now I'm stuck in this spot.

Come on Robert.

I ask how many chips he has. He tells me he has me covered. That doesn't answer my question. I haven't seen any chips move from his stack so I get the amateur dealer to remove 3750 from his stack and put it in the middle. Let me see how big this move is to him. I'm not posturing. I really have a decision to make.

As an aside, I am disgusted with myself for not knowing exactly how many chips he had. Yes the angle is difficult. I can now see he has his bigger chips to the left back of the stack where I couldn't see them. But whining about it now is just making excuses. It was my job to know beforehand.

Okay. Back to the moment at hand. He has presented me with two huge problems.

1- He can't fold. I can't reraise him and get him off his hand. He's taken that move away from me.

2- I don't think he has air. I do think his hand is ahead of mine right now.

Still, this is tough for me. There are mucho chips sitting in the middle. I'm getting close to 3 to 1 on my money. If he has a pair, I'm close to even money on this call. It may look like a donk call to those of you playing along at home but it has some merit. I'm 25% to win a hand that I'm getting 3 to 1 on. People flip coins all the time. This ain't that different.

Let's get one thing straight. I'd have 25k in chips if I win. How often do I have a 25% chance to have 25k in a WSOP tourney when the average stack is 7k? Yes there's a 75% chance I'm walking out the door. But 25% of the time I'm a monster stack. And unlike years past I can do some damage with a big stack. I'm not here to fold my way to the money. I don't need to cash in this tournament to buy groceries and pay rent. I've come to Vegas to win hundreds of thousands. This could be a step in that direction.

What could he have? Pocket aces? He limped under the gun. And called my raise. Knowing full well I'm probably leading out on the flop.

What if he has a set? A set of 9's? That's the hand I can remember losing to the last two times I've walked out of the WSOP.

Yeah. If he has a set I'll have a hard time forgiving myself. It'll be a long ride back to L.A.

But if he just has a pair?

And the really sick thing here is I think I can suck out on him. I swear. I'm totally convinced he will turn over something like pocket 8's and I will show my hand and he'll gasp as I hit a king on the turn. Then he'll get to tell me how poorly I play.

25% big stack. 75% go home.

If I fold I still have over 6k in chips with blinds at 100/200. I'd be slightly below the average. Folding would mean I'd simply have to start over.

And then I remember my mantra.

If you told me I could have 6000 chips in event 51 at 100/200...I'd take it.

I like my tournament play too much to have a 75% chance of walking out the door.

Wow it's so gross to have given away almost half my stack on this hand.

But I fold.

And the gentlemen who outplayed me in seat 1 turns over pocket 5's.

Wow. What he doesn't know is I'm too big of a donk to fold tens here.

If I had the over pair I'd be up to 25k.

Well on the bright side, at least the flop didn't come out ace king 5.

Then I'd be getting on the freeway for sure.

The woman sitting to my right asks me if he had me beat.

There's no good answer.

I want to say I folded pocket 3's.

That my antenna clearly picked up his pocket 5's and I made the big lay down.

Instead I sit there in silence.

To be continued.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

One Lottery Ticket Please Part II

Friday June 26th.

11:50 PM. I see the lights of Vegas from the 15. Tonight I appreciate my arrival more than usual as I've driven in tandem with some of the worst drivers ever. If these guys are playing in the $1500 WSOP event tomorrow I should absolutely go deep.

I don't know what's happened to driving on the freeway. You're supposed to stay to the right at all times, and only use the left lane for passing. Yet the norm is to do the complete opposite.

So we've got all sorts of donks in the left lane. You know. Because everyone wants to think that they're driving as fast as they possibly can. This slows down traffic and forces all the maniacs to go to the right lane to pass.

The unfortunate result is there's no safe lane for fast nor slow drivers. Everyone suffers. Multiple times, in both lanes, I have to jam on my brake while the car in front of mine comes skidding to a halt.

I really wish police officers would give out tickets to people driving the speed limit in the left lane. And of course to the people passing on the right. Something needs to be done to fix this. If only I had a blog where I could suggest change for the common good by writing about it.

Saturday June 27th

12:25 AM. I arrive at the Rio to register for the tournament and find out it's sold out. Damn. I'm not sure why this possibility didn't occur to me beforehand. The strange thing is I'm told to come back at 9 in the morning because they may release more seats.

I say something logical like "Why can't you sell it to me now? I'm here and I've arrived before the people who will be here at 9 in the morning." The gentleman looks back at me like some clever metaphor I haven't written yet. I leave him and wander aimlessly through the main poker room to take in the atmosphere and consider my options.

I'm frustrated to have come this far and not get in but the bigger problem for me is this completely messes with my plan for the next 12 hours. I really wanted to sleep in till like 11 and be fully refreshed for the tourney. I haven't even checked into my hotel yet. Now I gotta get up at 8 AM to come back over here? I'm cranky just thinking about it.

Is it a better move for me to go play the event at the Venetian? Or sit at cash games all day? Or come back here and play Main Event satellites? I close my eyes, take a deep breath. This must be exactly what it smells like in a fragrant prison.

1:10 AM. I'm standing in line to check in at the Hilton. I got some last minute internet deal for 3 nights, for the price of 1 night at the Rio. I need the 3 nights in case I somehow make it deep. The Hilton feels nostalgic because it was my sports book the last half of the Vegas Year. In fact I drove by our old house before doing the valet. It's still not rented. Hmmm. Maybe I should have stayed there tonight. The hotel clerk talks me into an upgrade for 20 bucks more per night.

2:00 AM. In bed.

3:00 AM. Wide awake.

4:00 AM. Still awake.

8:00 AM. I wake up and notice the time. My mind begins to race. Lots of people want to play WSOP events for the chance to win a bracelet. I'm in the minority who's much more excited by the potential six figure payout.

I'm also intrigued by the 4500 chip starting stack. In years past with the smaller starting chips I've found myself having to commit to one hand and either going broke or doubling up. With 4500 I can actually play some poker. Which convinces me I can get some chips. And have a long weekend. Okay. I'm going to the Rio.

8:30 AM. I give the valet 5 bucks after he brings me the car and he thanks me a little too much. That's my barometer that our economy isn't doing so well. People aren't tipping him 5 bucks.

8:45 AM. As I walk towards the registration booth I hear a guy outside one of the poker annex rooms saying "One seat left in a sit and go for the 1500." I think it cost $175 and was pretty tempting. The plus side is I could win my way in and save $1325 "if it's meant to be." However I was fully prepared to spend the full buy in and if I don't win my way in, I'm basically giving up my chance to get one of these 9 AM seats. I like the structure too much to miss out on this tournament.

8:50 AM. I get in line to register. People are getting seats. This is great!

9:15 AM. The movement stops. We're sold out. Again. Double Damn.

The funny part is that no one goes anywhere. We're all so used to Harrah's misinformation and chaotic mismanagement that none of us believes them when they say the event is sold out. We're collectively calling their bluff. On a side note- I've never seen so many people so anxious to give away 1500 dollars.

9:30 AM. People are losing patience. Voices are raised. The same guys who would be going all in and giving away their stacks in level one want to know for sure if it's sold out. Some of them begin to walk out angrily and mock the rest of us "idiots" for staying in line for an event that is sold out. Apparently this makes them feel better about their choice to leave. This exodus allows me to move up from around 30th in line to around 15th. I think this is what Bob Marley meant by "movement of jah people."

9:40 AM. I haven't lost hope but it does occur to me that I could have to stand in line for two more hours to get a seat. Is that worth it? Will I still play my best? Am I better off not standing in line for two more hours?

Well the one thing we all know is I'm not going to have to be one of these guys who has to ask someone to hold their place in line cause they have to go take a leak.

9:51 AM. A deadhead walks by with one finger in the air saying "I need a miracle. Who's got my extra ticket?"

9:52 AM. I haven't had my coffee yet so that last moment may not have actually happened. It might be me hallucinating.

9:54 AM. The mob is getting angry. Asking to get the tournament director on the phone. I feel nothing. Except tired. Who knew all those years of sleeping out over night for concert tickets in my teens would pay off?

9:55 AM. Harrahs releases 25 seats. By now I'm like 8th in line.

9:58 AM. I get in! Now if I can just show the same patience in the tournament.

9:59 AM. Okay. What to do next? I got two hours. I can go eat breakfast in the Rio. Or I can drive back to the Hilton and take an hour nap. Easy decision.

10:20 AM. My door at the Hilton is open because the cleaning women is inside. As I enter she asks me if this is my room. "No m'am. I just saw the door wide open and figured I could rob it if you didn't ask to see my key."

11:30 AM. I get my wake up call.

11:42 AM. Get out of bed.

11:46 AM. Put back on my lucky outfit.

11:51 AM. Go buy coffee.

12:08 PM. Drive past three billboard signs for Edward M. Bernstein accident/injury attorney. My favorite one is "Enough Said. Call Ed."

12:23 PM. Make it to my table. I have 4425 in chips. Only missed one orbit of blinds. I recognize two of the players to my right from The Vegas Year.
In fact one of them is a guy I first played with back in 2004 on my first WSOP trip out here. You know. Back when I had my cheat sheet listing the top 25 hands.

12:31 PM. Blinds 25/50. I raise it to 125 in early position with ace queen. Middle position calls. Button reraises to 400.

I hate this. I have no clue how he plays.

Is this his one hand per hour?

Or is he playing 50%?

I call in case the flop comes out ace, queen, queen. So does MP.

Flop comes 3 babies. I check. MP checks. Button pot bets.

I think he might be making a move so I raise all in.

Just kidding.

The truth is I use my x-ray vision and see his pocket 9's.

I fold.

12:44 PM. Ace queen again. Thank you universe for again giving me the hand that Doyle says he's lost the most money with. I mini raise to 100. Big blind raises to 250. Nice price and at least I can see a flop with position.

Flop misses me. I fold to the continuation bet. Down to 3700.

12:57 PM. Pocket kings. Decent timing since I'm the guy who raises pre flop, gets reraised and then folds on the flop. I raise to 150 in really late early position, or early middle position. depending on where you grew up.

Small blind calls. He's the only guy at the table wearing sunglasses.

Back when I spent a few years rapping I had the rhyme "Wearing sunglasses...cutting summer school classes." And now for some reason at this moment in time I can't get it out of my head. Two guys at my table are listening to ipods. Who needs an ipod when you got dope rhymes like that?

Flop is jack high and otherwise uneventful. I think for a moment, just in case I have ace king, and bet 250. He calls.

Turn is 9. I think for another moment and bet 400. He calls.

River is rag. Sunglasses plays with his chips and then slides out 750.

I actually appreciate this bet. It would have been scarier for me if he checked, I bet, and he pushed. I can't raise here but I'm also not folding. He's probably betting to steal the pot. Of course he could have two pair and be value betting. But he's wearing sunglasses.

I call and he turns over ace queen for ace high. I'm up to 5150.

I think I might recognize this guy from driving in on the I-15 last night.

1:05 PM. There are two Russian players at my table raising and reraising each other at every opportunity. I stay out of the way. I end level 1 with 5075.

1:19 PM. I'm doing lots of folding. I'd like to be more active but I'm getting nothing playable and them Russians are making it hard. One is seated to my right and the other guy two seats to my left.

1:20 PM. Bored, I look up towards the far end of the room where I can see Pauly sitting up high in the dark rafters looking like the the Judge who owns the Knights in The Natural. Someday I'm gonna tell him my story from 9-9-99 when I hung out with Phish in Vancouver.

1:48 PM. I'm down to 4875. No cards. The Russian gentleman to my right must be an internet player because he never remembers to put out his blinds. Oh and he raises 50% of his hands. I know I can win some chips from him if I reraise but I'd prefer for the universe to give me a bigger hand that I can simply call with and let him do the betting. I don't want to win the first bet. I want to win the flop and turn bets too. Cause I'm greedy.

1:58 PM. I haven't played a hand in level 2 cause I'm the second oldest player at the table. I pick up 4,6 suited in early position and take advantage of my image by limping in. Action gets folded around to the blinds. Obviously I have aces or ace king or something big. Small blind completes. Big blind taps the table.

The three of us see a 5,6,queen flop. Sunglasses is the small blind and he checks. Big blind bets 150 to find out if I'm holding ace king. I smooth call. So does sunglasses. I'd be really happy if I picked up a flush draw on the turn.

My friends in the random math lab do me one better. The turn is a 6. See how life works? I limp from early position with 4,6 and get rewarded with trips. Let that be the lesson here kids. Always play mediocre cards from early position as weakly as possible. That's how you win chips.

Both blinds check. I play with my chips. Everyone gets nervous when the board pairs so who knows what message I'm sending? All I know is it's real hard to get anyone to fold at this table so there's no point slow playing. I bet 400. Sunglasses calls. Big blind folds.

The river is a 7. Sunglasses plays with his chips. And then moves all in.

He he. Again? The two calls and then the river bet?

Come on man.

I ask for a count. It's only 1650. It's not like my tourney life is at stake so this is going to be an easy call. Is there anyway he could have a straight? Probably not. But it is possible he could have a 6 with better kicker. He was the small blind in an unraised pot.

I call and this time he turns over ace 8. I show my trips. He gets up and heads back to the I-15 so that he can swerve in and out of traffic for the next 5 hours.

Yeah. I definitely saw that guy on the road last night.

Level 2 ends a few minutes later and without doing anything too fancy I have 7050 at the first break.

2:30 PM. We get back from break and the WSOP suits announce they're gonna replay God Save the Queen after apparently offending some of our British friends with The Sex Pistols version the day before.


This is how we're gonna show sensitivity and class?

I'm sitting in a room full of some of the most obnoxious testosterone filled human beings on the planet, there are young girls walking around in their underwear selling products I can't remember and someone's feelings were hurt over a song cover?

Harrah's wants to show more sensitivity?

How about making all the players at my table shower?

Besides this is England we're talking about. We're about to celebrate July 4th. Didn't we fight a war 233 years ago so that we wouldn't have to apologize for playing a rock and roll version of their national anthem?

I'll tell you this: If I ever win a bracelet I'm going to insist on Radiohead's song The National Anthem. By far the best one out there.

Meanwhile the real punchline here is whoever won the next bracelet requested we honor our Iranian friends by playing the National Anthem of Iran. Or as the WSOP guy with the mic called it: "The national anthem of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

This prompted a guy standing near me to ask me "Did they just say Islamic?"

All we were missing was Bruno.

2:55 PM. Still in level 3. Blinds are 75/150. I make it 375 under the gun with pocket 2's and based on the number of hands I've played, I expect a little respect. The guy in second position to my immediate left calls. Everyone else folds. We see an ace high flop with 2 diamonds. I bet 750 into the 975 pot. He calls.

Another ace comes on the turn. This is tough for me. What would I do if I really had an ace? Sometimes I might check as to not lose my customer and induce a bluff. At this table I would probably bet since no one folds. I decide that he won't fold if I bet so I check and see if he has an ace. He checks behind me. I'm ready to fire again on the river.

The dealer turns over a king. My feelings suddenly change. I'm no longer comfortable betting. I wouldn't be shocked to see a hand with a king in it. I check. He checks behind me and turns over king 9 suited. He was chasing the flush draw. Based on what I saw I don't think he folds on the turn if I bet. The real shame is that the river was not the 2 of diamonds.

I say "nice hand." I'm down to 5900.

2:59 PM. Next hand I'm the big blind and call a late position raise to 400 with 10, jack. Only 250 more. The flop comes out king, jack rag. Against other players I'd lead out. Or check raise. But this gentlemen was tight. I believed he had the best hand. I was calling the preflop raise to flop 2,8,9. Not king jack rag.

I'm down to 5500 about to be the small blind.

I remind myself that if I just showed up, and was about to be the small blind and found out that I had 5500 chips: I'd be happy.

If you're just joining us now I've had one big hand today. The pocket kings back in level 1. I've had ace queen and missed twice. I won my chips with 4,6 suited.

3:09 PM. Interesting hand. Two guys limp. Small stack in the big blind raises. Early position guy folds. Big blind doesn't know there's another player in the hand. He thinks he was heads up. So he shows his pocket jacks. However the other player hasn't acted yet.

Here's where I think the other player plays it wrong: he moves all in! The pocket jacks guy has to call.

What I think the other player should have done is smooth called and then pushed all in if any overcards came. And obviously fold on the flop and save his chips if he can't beat jacks. Why get all the chips in now? Why not punish the pocket jacks guy by pushing all in if an ace flops? Even if he doesn't have an ace?

It turns out he didn't. He had king queen. The pocket jacks held, and the big blind doubled up. Here's the best/worst part: the big blind was assessed a penalty! For exposing his cards! This was absurd to me. The "no exposing cards" rule exists for the purpose of not gaining an advantage by showing your cards. This gentlemen was showing his jacks to be polite. And he got punished. So the lesson here kids is, once again, never show your cards when you don't have to.

3:23 PM. Folding.

3:36 PM. Level 4. 100/200. I switch to my lucky card protector and pick up ace 8 of diamonds on the button. Folded around to me, I make the standard 600 bet. Big blind plays back at me all in. I think it was something like 1800. Whatever it was, I was getting 2 to 1 here and couldn't fold to what smelled like a low pair kind of move. He turned over queen jack. An ace came on the flop and I felt good about myself as a human being.

3:38 PM. I pick up ace suited again and raise the next hand from the cutoff. Everyone folds. Two in a row.

3:40 PM. Very next hand. I raise to 600 with pocket jacks. Obviously I'm having one of those rushes Doyle always promised me I'd have. Everyone folds except the big blind.

Flop comes out queen, jack rag. Two spades. Big blind leads out for 1000. I sit there and try to take my time. Then raise to 3000. You know. To show him that I'm not falling for his move. He takes his time. And then moves all in. Wow.

I'm really hoping I'm up against ace queen here. I'd rather not have to fade the straight or flush draw. But what difference does it make what I want? I call. He turns over the ace high flush draw.

For a split second I feel sorry for myself. It's kind of like if I just had top pair, then it's fair for me to lose this race. But for all the trouble it takes to hit a set, somehow it's incomprehensible for me to get outdrawn against it.

I don't. My set somehow holds up. I'm up to 12350 chips.

I've got a little more than double the average stack.

What could possibly go wrong?

To be continued.