It's hard to believe we've been in Las Vegas a month already. The time flies when you're regularly working fourteen hour days, I suppose. It's even harder to imagine it will all be over in another two and a half weeks. One thing that's been a bit of an adjustment is never really being sure what day it is. As Garry Gates, the PokerNews Director of Tournament Reporting said, "If you know what day it is, you've had too many days off."
Tonight I finished up three days of coverage of $1,500 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. What looked like it was going to be a relatively painless Day 2 yesterday hit a snag around 11:30pm when play suddenly ground to a halt. At 3:30am, the tournament staff suspended play with 13 players remaining, rather than continue on to the final eight as we were scheduled to do. What a way to spend a birthday - fourteen hours in the Brasilia Room watching paint dry.
That meant I needed to gird myself for a long Day 3, but thankfully the structure caught up to the number of chips in play, and we played down to our eventual winner, Ryan Hughes, in a speedy six and a half hours. We learned during the course of the evening that not only had Hughes won a bracelet in the $3,000 Stud/8 event last year, but upon his win, he became the first two-time bracelet winner in WSOP Stud/8 history. Pretty neat stuff.
The energy in the Amazon Room, with the $50K HORSE event running, lots of tourists in town for the weekend, and the Main Event gearing up at the end of next week, has been manic. Hordes of new media reps have descended on the Amazon Room to feed off that energy. Some of them are most welcome (see, Otis); some less so. At the end of the day, the job gets done and I guess that's all that matters.
No day off for me tomorrow. The PokerNews staff is getting stretched a little thin so it's right into my next event - the $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha world championship. I'm sure this one will bring out all the action degenerates with ten large to blow. David Degenyamine, I'm looking at you.
I haven't played a hand of poker since I busted out of the razz tournament two weeks ago. Ok, that's not entirely true. While I had about an hour to kill the other day waiting for my event to start, I played some $1/$2 razz on Full Tilt from the media box at the back of the Amazon Room. All of the live cash games had long lists.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
It's hard to believe we've been in Las Vegas a month already. The time flies when you're regularly working fourteen hour days, I suppose. It's even harder to imagine it will all be over in another two and a half weeks. One thing that's been a bit of an adjustment is never really being sure what day it is. As Garry Gates, the PokerNews Director of Tournament Reporting said, "If you know what day it is, you've had too many days off."
Thursday, June 26, 2008
I had a fairly easy final table on Tuesday night - the 2-7 Triple Draw. We were done by 11pm AGAIN. Two nights in a row I got out of the Amazon Room before midnight. That's practically unheard of. Tuesday night we went over to the Gold Coast to celebrate Change100's birthday and to engage in a little $1 bowling.
Then I had the day off yesterday. My only regret about that was that I missed the kick-off of the $50K HORSE event, in addition to the arrival of BadBlood and Otis. But I used my day off productively -- CK and I watched the exhilirating Germany-Turkey semifinal of Euro 2008, lazed around the house a bit and then went the Prime for dinner with Dawn Summers, Alceste and Dawn2. I got the porterhouse and demolished that baby.
Afterwards, we went to the Seahorse bar in Caesar's, which has a giant mermaid statue with incredibly fake breasts. Not only were the breasts too round, but as one of the Dawns pointed out, they had that weird fake breast "separation". My thought, if you're going to commission a statue of a naked chick, why not make sure the breasts *look* real (even if the model used has fake breasts)?
It was at the Seahorse bar that Dawn Summers remembered why I am the original Assface. I believe the comment that did it was when I said, "You know that normally I wouldn't defend X." Dawn kept expecting me to say "...but in this instance" or something similar. Nope. I was just pointing out that I won't normally defend X. Statements like that make me the original Assface.
When we were done listening to the nostalgic 80s music blaring in the Seahorse bar (reminding us all that time moves in a linear fashion), it was off to P-Ho to meet up with Mookie. The P-Ho poker room had only 1-2 NLHE (yuck), 2-4 LHE (double yuck) and a three-handed 15-30 mix game. I might have played the mix but for the fact that (a) it was three-handed, and (b) badugi was one of the games in the mix. I don't know badugi well enough to play 15-30.
Instead I went outside for a while to people-watch, then did what I do best when I need to kill time in a casino. Paigow. There was only one other person at my table, a middle-aged white guy who was betting $200 a hand on the main bet, and $25 a hand on the fortune bonus. I immediately put him on tilt by not betting the fortune bonus, and catching trips, quads and a flush inside of ten minutes, while his fortune bonus went unpaid every time. Then he lost five or six hands in a row. More tilt. I capped it off by squeezing my cards every time, only serving to enrage him further.
In the end, I finished up one Corona and $10. Plus one guy on tilt. That's a pretty good night. I went and collect my "little woman" (as Dawn now apparently calls her) and we headed home for a 2am hot tub session in the backyard.
It was a pretty good day. And today, I don't have to be back to the Rio until 4:30pm for the 5pm start of the Stud/8 tournament. 42 straight hours without having to be in the Rio. Fantastic.
Monday, June 23, 2008
If I'm not playing the lowball events, I'm covering them. Earlier in the WSOP, I covered the $5,000 No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven with Rebuys event that was ultimately won by Mike Matusow. Yesterday I began coverage of the $2,500 Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw event. In addition to following all of the pros in a small, pro-heavy field, I got to keep an eye on
New York's New Jersey's own Alceste. He played admirably, even managing to chip up well above average as we were approaching dinner, but then got broken to a table that included Greg Raymer, David Chiu and Bill Chen. Alceste finally went out right towards the end of Level 8, but he did turn in a very impressive performance.
Maybe I'm the Billy Baxter of poker bloggers, but I really enjoy the lowball events. The smaller fields are much easier to manage than the $1,500 no-limit donkaments, and because lowball isn't really spread anywhere, the tournaments generally attract only people that have put some serious effort into learning some of the finer concepts of the game, and name pros. Note that those two categories do not necessarily overlap.
Anyway, as Alceste and I were returning to the Amazon Room after having dinner in the Miranda Noodle and Sushi Kitchen, I saw Sam Simon walking the other way. Sam, you may remember, was at my starting table in the Razz tourney. (Funny side note here: CK Hua was also at my starting table. I had no idea who he was until yesterday. In my recap, I described him as "an older Asian dude who struck me as a SoCal type". Hua apparently lives about 10 miles east of downtown LA. I told you my reads were on.)
Anyway, Sam was very friendly during our time together at the razz table and we chatted quite a bit about driving, writing, girlfriends and ex-wives, and of course poker. In a way, it was disappointing that our table broke so soon because I really enjoyed talking with him. When I saw him walking the other way last night, I called out to him.
It took him a second to place me, but then his face lit up in a big smile. "Hi," he said. "How did you do in the tourney the other day?"
"I made the money. I finished 33rd."
"Wow!" he said, giving me a firm congratulatory handshake. "That's great!"
"I really like razz," he said. "I find it to be a very calming game."
Naturally, I thought he was taking the piss and I laughed and said something to the effect of how I could definitely tell how "calming" everyone else in the tournament found it. But Sam was serious. He said he liked the fact that you started with three cards, and could make a clear-cut decision right from the get-go about whether or not to play your hand.
Maybe stud games are more his cup of tea than flop games. I think Sam has quite a bit to learn about razz, but I don't doubt that if he puts his considerable talents to it, he could become a decent razz player. And if that's one more person that falls in love with razz, then so much the better.
After my experiences the last few weeks of seeing the uglier side of this game -- the loans, the degeneracy, the ugly behavior -- running into Sam was a nice reminder that the vast majority of people that come out to the World Series are here because they love poker.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Today will find me nowhere near the Rio or the World Series of Poker: I have the day off. My plan is to watch the Dutch demolish Russia in Euro 2008; go hit a round of golf in the baking sun; and who knows what in the evening. It should be a day of total relaxation.
Yesterday was pretty easy, as far as my WSOP days have gone. I was scheduled to cover the final table of $1,500 Seven Card Stud. Stud's certainly a difficult game to live-blog, but at least the short stacks cooperated by not doubling up all that much. We started the table a little after 3pm and it was over before 11pm. That's a great day.
One thing I've learned about covering WSOP final tables: if you see a name pro sweating the final table all day, chances are very high that somebody at the table owes that pro a bunch of money. Backing arrangements and straight loans are very common out here. Just two days ago, I was on my way back to the Amazon Room from the bathroom when I walked by Allen Kessler. Another player walked up to Kessler with a greeting and a big smile.
"I don't want to talk to you," Kessler said dismissively.
"Why not?" asked the player.
"Do you have the Stars money you owe me?"
I didn't catch the rest of the conversation, but it did look like the player was digging into his pocket to offer Kessler a mollifying partial payment. I know Pauly has talked about it a million times, but that's a predominant image I'll take away from this WSOP. Someone is always digging into his pocket to pay back someone else.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
David Williams came bounding into the press box as I was chatting with PaulyDrama.
"Who's F-Train?" he demanded of Pauly.
"Why, what happened?" asked Pauly.
"He got something totally wrong."
Pauly pointed to my laptop and empty chair. "He was sitting over there, but he's not there now."
Williams unloaded on Pauly that the thing I got "totally wrong" made him look like an idiot. It was one of those instance where I know what I heard on the floor, reported it in the live blog, and one of the pros didn't like it. I've earned my stripes now I guess.
Basically, there was a dispute between Williams and the floor over whether he should be given a full starting stack. The rule at the WSOP is clear: if you register early, you get anted / blinded off from the moment the clock starts running at Level 1. If you do late registration, you get a full stack when you get to the table. Williams was protesting that he should not have been anted off, that he should have gotten a full stack. This is the point that I jumped into his conversation with the floor:
"These rules need to be publicized!" he told the floor.
"I agree, and they will be," the floor responded. "But right now there's nothing I can do."
"I just want a decision," Williams continued. "I've been waiting for a decision for five minutes, and my stack keeps getting smaller."
"You have three options," said the floor. "Play the stack on the table, take a full refund of your buy-in, or talk to Jack [Effel, TD]."
"I want to talk to Jack."
Off they went. I reported that he seemed to have registered early, come over late, and been surprised that he was anted off. When Williams came back later, he had a full stack. I reported that also. Anyway, back to Williams and Pauly.
"I know the rule," said Williams. "I'm not an idiot. I busted from PLO at 5:03 and was in the stud tournament at 5:05."
Did I get it wrong? Maybe. A quick check of his tournament receipt would provide the answer as to whether he registered at 5:05. In fact, I don't know why he didn't just show his tournament receipt to the floor to prove he registered late, if that was indeed the case. But it begs two questions:
(1) Why was Williams' stack already on the table? I haven't seen any other instances where people were stacked off who registered late, although I did see one late registration in the razz event who was given "Seat #10" at a table. Obviously that doesn't work for an 8-handed event. So, I concede the possibility of error on Harrah's part, although it seems such an error would have cropped up before Event #35.
(2) Why was Williams protesting that the rules need to be publicized better? What difference does that make if he knows the rule?
Just another crazy day at the WSOP. And now that I've pissed off one of the "names", I guess I'm legit.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
You're 5 foot nothin', 100 and nothin', and you have barely a speck of athletic ability. And you hung in there with the best college football players in the land for 2 years. ... In this life, you don't have to prove nothin' to nobody but yourself. And after what you've gone through, if you haven't done that by now, it ain't gonna never happen.Before I finish the recap of the razz tournament, I want to once again publicly thank everyone for their support. That includes: members of my syndicate; everyone who left comments or sent emails; people who sent words of encouragement and/or congratulations via phone call and text (I'm sorry I didn't respond; my phone started blowing up as soon as we hit the money, and since I had limited time to eat, I opted to turn it off); and last but certainly not least CK.
Ok, on to the recap.
When I got up on Saturday, I still had my red tournament ID bracelet on my wrist. (It allows players to access spaces in the Amazon Room that spectators can't.) CK asked me if I was going to take it off. "Not until I win the gold bracelet to replace it," I told her. Yep, the delusions of grandeur were in full force and effect.
I started the day with 13,300 chips at limits of 600 / 1,200 and at what was by far my most annoying table of the whole tournament. First of all, I was in Seat 1, making it very difficult for me to see the action on the far end of the table to my right. More importantly, on my left were: a guy who reminded me of Jack Lemmon's "Shelly Levine" character from Glengarry Glen Ross; and a guy who was "just happy to be here". On their left, sitting directly across from me, was David Levi.
Levi seemed like a decent guy (if annoying in the fact that he had amassed the second-most chips in the whole tournament), but had this odd habit of winking at anyone who was looking at him if he made some sort of joke. The other two guys, however, were absolute cards. They just. wouldn't. shut. up. Levine was running what at first I thought was a gag about how he had never played razz before. I didn't believe it for a second, though his constant chatter and inability to bet the proper limit certainly were aggravating.
Levine found a compadre in just-happy-to-be-here guy, who kept going on and on about how much fun he was having, how he had to switch his flight because he made Day 2, etc. etc. The two were talking to each other about anything and everything, completely oblivious to everything going on around them. Eventually, both Levi and I put our headphones on and fired up the ipods, just to drown out the incessant yapping of Laurel and Hardy.
Level 9 was a roller coaster. Due to a steal gone awry and a series of bricks on solid hands in the first level, Level 9 (600 / 1,200), I quickly dropped from 13,300 chips to about 7,500. Then I caught a 6-5 and got Shelly Levine to pay me off with his 8-7. By the end of Level 9 I was up to 14,900.
Things didn't improve much in Level 10. First I had to fold an 8-7 draw on sixth against a board of x-x / 2-3-4-T. I thought about it for a long time, even asking JHTBH Guy to please shut up so I could concentrate. I tanked for over a minute, watching my opponent, and decided he reeked of so much strength that I should fold. That dropped me to about 9,000.
Shortly after I made an 8-7 and clawed back up to 15,800. Then came a killer hand right at the end of Level 10. I raised A-8 / 5 and got called all the way. I can't remember how his board came out, but I know I finished A-8 / 5-5-6-6 / T to make a T-8 against his 9. It was a brutal hand that dropped me to 6,800 chips.
By the time Level 10 ended and we hit the first break, I was at just 6,400 chips. Players were dropping quickly, but I was stuck in short-stack land and needed some help as 68 still remained, putting us 20 spots off the money. I faced the serious prospect of bubbling. PaulyDrama was sweating me and he told me not to worry about it, just to do my thing. And so I turned on some NIN on my ipod, cranked up the volume as loud as it would go, and sat back down.
Within 10 minutes of starting Level 11, I doubled. I don't remember the details. I just remember I was in the zone, grooving to the music and intent on not giving up. I could taste the cash; just needed to get there.
It was somewhere around this point that Sam Grizzle was broken to my table (after David Levi was broken away). Believe the truth of every story you have ever heard about what a miserable bastard Grizzle is. He was non-stop complaining about anything and everything almost from the moment he got to the table. What was comedic about it, was that he was sitting to the immediate left of JHTBH Guy, who seemed completely oblivious to Grizzle's attitude, and continually attempted to engage him in conversation, make jokes with him, clap him on the back, etc. etc. At one point Grizzle called a floor over and asked if JHTBH Guy and Shelly Levine, who were in a hand against each other and were being quite chatty (though not discussing their hands at all) were allowed to talk during a hand. The floor looked at Grizzle like he had two heads, and Grizzle responded with a look of disgust and comments to the effect that the floor was incompetent and didn't know the rules.
I admit JHTBH Guy and Shelly were annoying. But my solution was just to tune them out. Grizzle's solution was to be bitter about it to anyone and everyone within earshot. I was quite happy to be broken away from the table to what would ultimately be my final table.
I'm not sure how many pots I won at that last table. I know I was all in again in Level 11 against a shorty. Actually, to be fair, I bet 2,400 on 5th with just 100 behind, and he elected to fold. Good thing -- I was paired and not relishing having to sweat out another all in. My high water mark was 20,000; then I started the long slow decline.
My problem was that I was playing far too tightly for tournament play. I needed to be looking for more steals and re-steals. And so I kept getting ground down as we approached the money bubble. When we hit hand-for-hand at 4,900, I had about 7,000 chips. One of the PokerNews guys came over and told me there were two super short stacks, under 1,500 each. At this point, I decided to turtle.
You can criticize the decision all you want, but I think, with a very short stack but two super short stacks out there, it was the right decision. Anyway, it only got put to the test on the last hand-for-hand hand. My nemesis, Brandon Leeds, had completed the bring-in and been called when I looked down at A-6 / 4. Aiyah! I was totally stuck, and like a pussy decided to fold because I wasn't ready to try to hit a parlay against two players. Turned out it didn't matter; Barry Greenstein crushed the soul of one of the short stacks on that hand when he called the shorty's all in on fourth and went runner-runner-runner to take the guy out.
With that elimination, the bubble burst. About ten minutes prior to that, CK arrived, having been bounced from the Mega-Stack event at Caesar's earlier in the afternoon. I really can't tell you how much it meant to me to have her around right at crunch time. Just as it had been on Day 1 when she popped by briefly, it was a real pick-me-up. When we finally got in the money, I went over to the rail and gave her a big hug and kiss.
We were given a 60-minute dinner break as soon as the bubble burst. I managed to stick around after dinner for about an hour and a half, until I made my stand as described in my last post. Out in 33rd place. Oh what might have been if I drew better or Leeds had drawn worse... He final-tabled the tournament and went out in 5th.
When I asked Garry Gates for Friday, June 13 as a day off, I wasn't 100% committed to playing Event #26 - $1,500 Razz. Like most non-pros, I guess, I had nagging doubts that I was dead money. I didn't spend any time this spring working on my razz game once I signed on with PokerNews, as I was under the impression that I'd have to work. When John Caldwell told the whole team on Day 1, "We're all here because we love poker. If you want to play an Event, let us know as soon as possible", I realized the razz event was back on the table.
"We just don't recognize the most significant moments of our lives while they're happening," Moonlight Graham tells Ray Kinsella in Field of Dreams. "Back then I thought, well, there'll be other days. I didn't realize that that was the only day." Who knows what will come in the future - I may never get another chance to take a shot like I did this past weekend. This might have been my one chance to make my mark, to get my name in the record books, to hang tough with the big dogs. I played with at least ten different pros that I recognized, and probably a bunch more that I didn't recognize since I don't watch poker on television. For two days, I hung with the toughest field in the world, at a game that amateurs just don't play, and in the end I walked away with not only the experience, but a little extra cash too.
Not bad at all.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Here's the bustout hand:
Brandon Leeds completes a 4. He's called by somebody I should know in the 1-seat with a 6. I have 4-6/7, 9,300 left and limits of 2,000/4,000. Decided to take one off.
Not the greatest spot for our hero, since I'm so rough, but with only 7,300 behind I decided to gamble and try to triple up. 4-2 bet, I raised to 4,000, Leeds called, 4-2 3-bet, I'm all in for 7,300 they both call.
Leeds bets the other guy out. I ask him "Do you have a six already Brandon?" He replies, "No, but I have a 7" which means I'm almost dead. To add insult to injury, I catch the case 4 on sixth and an ace on 7th to make an 8-7. No good against his 7-6.
33rd place. One more spot would have been a $600 jump but I decided to gamble in a spot that looked good. It just didn't work out.
More to come tomorrow, but thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! for all of the texts, comments, IMs, voice mails, phone calls, etc. etc.
Starting from the beginning:
1. I couldn't find my hoodie before I left the house. It was causing me no amount of agita because I know how cold the Amazon Room can get. I finally settled for bringing a black sweater, but I was not happy with the disappearance of my hoodie. Then, when I got to the Rio at 3:15pm for the 5pm tournament, I realized that I only had $1,100 on me but had left my ATM card at home. Doh. Made it home and back by a little after 4pm and registered without further incident.
2. My starting table consisted of: a young Yul Brenner; a stack that never showed up (I called it Phil); me; Sam Simon, who was very chatty and friendly for someone who had to pay his ex-wife $400 million; an older heavyset dude who would prove to be an annoyance ; Roy Winston; a Jack Nance look-alike (but Jack Nance has been dead for over a decade so I'm pretty sure it wasn't him) who I don't think had ever played razz in his life; and an older Asian dude who struck me as a SoCal type. Not the worst draw. The only bad part, in fact, was that I drew Orange #43, which was the third table to be broken.
3. By the first break at the end of Level 2, I had chipped up to 4,100 from the starting stack of 3,000. I hit a high-water mark of about 4800 in Level 3 and then I tangled with the heavy dude. With a starting hand of A-7/4, I completed. He called with a king(?!) and one other guy called with a 4. 4th street didn't help anyone: A-7/4-Q for me, x-x/K-9, and x-x/4-4. In retrospect, I needed to bet here even if the guy with 4s had a better draw than me, if for no other reason than to charge the K-9 to stick around. But I didn't, I checked. Then *HE* bet. Pair of 4s called, and I was really confused. I know I have by far a better hand than K-9 guy... but I just elected to call for some reason.
Fifth street comes A-7/4-Q-2, x-x/K-9-5 and the other guy bricked. I bet, only heavy guy called. On sixth street, I caught another deuce to his 6. He bet and I called. On the river, he squeezed and bet. I squeezed myself, thinking that I would call with a ten or better. Of course, I caught a king, for a final hand of Q-7-4-2-A. I thought for a long time about making a hero call, but I finally talked myself into believing that he had two babies in the hole (why else play a king to start?). After thirty seconds or so, I said "I guess you have a queen beat," and mucked. He turned over a full house, for a final hand of 5-5-K-9-6.
4. That hand started a long, downward trend for me. It wasn't that I was tilting; I just went card dead and brick-heavy, and couldn't stop catching the bring-in when I got moved to my next table. It was a point of humor for the table. I was in the 7-seat, and watching the cards come out, they would go baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, FACE, baby. At one point, I brought it in with a 7!
5. At that second table, another key hand came when I brought it in with a jack, and action folded to the last baby: a 7. He completed, and I squeezed A-3 in the hole. Sklansky talks about defending the bring-in in Sklansky on Razz, and this is exactly the spot he likes defending: almost all of my cards were live, the guy could easily be stealing, and I have a jack (as opposed to a queen or king). So I called.
We both caught tens on 4th street, so with the better board, he bet again. This was a decision point for me. I have A-3/J-T, not exactly great, but I couldn't shake the feeling that he was stealing and had a brick underneath. I needed him to catch bad, but calling a small bet didn't seem horrible. And on fifth, he did catch bad: he caught a jack to my seven. So now we both had J-T-7 boards, but I had A-3 under. He bet, and now I raised. He stopped, considered, then called, making me believe that he actually didn't have a brick in the hole.
Of course, sixth street was a disaster: ace for him, another jack for me. He bet, and I had to consider that I was drawing to a ten and he already had a ten made. This should have been a clear fold, but donkey me called. We checked the river through. I caught a king; he finished with a T-8. Stupid, frustrating razz.
That hand dropped me to 2,600 at the second break.
6. Level 5, 200/400, I have 2,600 and am on my third table of the day. I won a small pot, then folded in a pot where I bricked fourth after starting three to a wheel when the other guy caught good (he was also three to a wheel). Then I made a donktastic frustration play with a 9-7 against the same guy. He had a 7-6, and just like that I was down to about 1,500. And this is where my battery died on my iPhone, so I lost note-taking ability. But - shortly thereafter, I was all in on 6th with a made 9-6 against a player who looked like he had a ten. I didn't have to sweat the river because all he made was a ten. My 9 was good. Whew!
7. In Level 6 I was moved to my *fourth* table. This was a doozy of a table. Hasan Habib on my left, Huck Seed on my right, Jon "PearlJammer" Turner on his right. Huck went out and was replaced by Dario Alioto. There was also some young dude at the table, who according to the PokerNews guys recently won a bracelet. And for what it's worth, it wouldn't surprise me if there were big names at my second and third tables. In fact, I'm almost sure there were a few (usually you can tell because they are sporting the apparel of the online poker site with which they're affiliated); I'm just still really bad with knowing who the big names are, since I've never really followed the tournament poker circuit, in the press or on television.
By the end of Level 6 I had chipped up to 7,200, a roughly average stack. I wish I could tell you how. I think it was just a series of small pots, some of them steals and some of them actual hands. I don't ever remember getting to a showdown. There wasn't much room for error, however. Level 7 started 400/800, giving me 9 big bets.
8. Again in Level 7, through a series of small pots, I pushed up to around the 9,000 to 10,000 stack level. The only notable thing was that, as opposed to earlier when I was catching the bring-in two out of three hands, now I wasn't catching it at all. In fact, at one point it had been so long since I brought it in that I didn't realize the bring in had gone up from 100 to 200 with a level change.
9. The last big pot of the night came with 10 minutes to go in the day and was on my fifth or sixth table of the day (I lost count). It was another hand I misplayed, this time quite badly. I completed A-6 / 7 and was called by another 7 on my left before a guy who hadn't been too active raised a 5. We both called. Fourth street was a middle card for all of us:
Now I don't like my hand much as it is very rough. But they can't like their hands much either. A bet seemed in order, which they both called. That brought us to fifth:
In my tired state, I initially thought I made an eight, albeit a very rough eight. But I was also pretty sure that 5-9-4 made a wheel draw, so I checked. He bet. I definitely should have folded here, but since I thought I made an 8 I called. On the next street, he caught a deuce, and I caught a 5. It was at this point that I realized I had only just now made an 8. My suspicion was that the deuce had paired him. I check-called again (bad play - if I think he only has a 9, I have to raise). I checked the river dark. He checked behind. Turns out I rivered a 3 for a 7-6; he looked at his cards in disgust and then slammed them into the felt in frustration. In the process, he showed that my read was right: he had a wheel draw, had paired his deuce, and missed everything on the river. Better to be lucky than good, I guess.
That pot pushed me up over 14,000. If it had gone the other way, I would have been down to about 4,000 or 5,000. It was *key*. Nothing of note happened in the last ten minutes, and I finished the day at 13,300.
10. So to recap: my reads were generally pretty good, but I badly misplayed a couple of hands and got away with it. I got unlucky a few times, but I also got lucky when I needed it most. Today I have to swim through 58 people to get to the money, but Level 9 starts at 600/1,200, which means one bad pot will send me back to short-stack land.
I really appreciate all of the comments, texts, emails, phone calls and in-person visits. A special note: CK showed up somewhere around Level 7 to see how I was doing. She didn't stay long, but just to see her there was a real pick-me-up.
Please keep sending all of your good card mojo my way!
I survived. That's about all I can say regarding Day 1 right now, as my brain is absolutely fried. I'll have a longer recap after some sleep, but the salient details are: 106 players remain out of 453; 48 get paid; average stack is 12,800; I have 13,300. Still lots of work to do yet.
Friday, June 13, 2008
The deuce-to-seven final table lived up to its advance billing. Except for a snafu with the TV table. You see, despite having assembled seven of the most recognizable names in the poker world for the final table, ESPN chose not to broadcast this event (having learned its lesson in 2006(?), when it broadcast every event and was met with horrible ratings for the non-NLHE events). What was curious about this decision is that Bluff also chose not to broadcast it on ESPN360. This, to my mind, was a mistake. The ESPN360 broadcasts are only going to be watched by the hardcore poker nuts, and they were clamoring on several different message boards, begging for the table to be broadcast.
Nope, no could do. Because ESPN hadn't intended to record the final table, the set wasn't insured for the day. Or at least, that's the story we were given. It doesn't make much sense to me, since it's not like the set magically vanishes if no taping is going on. Doesn't it still need to be insured in case some donkey wanders onto the set, has a light drop on his head, and sues?
As a result, we started "around the bend" from the stage area, just about the worst possible spot for a final table of that magnitude to take place. Logan and I were set up on "tall boy" chairs because there was no media table close enough; the spectators were on the rail about four or five deep and couldn't see anything, and we didn't even have a real tournament clock - instead we had a little hand timer (like the types that dealers use for single table satellites) that the floor attached to a nearby metal riser, making sure that none of the players knew how much time was left in the level.
Then, to make matters worse, after three people had been eliminated, word came down that we could actually use the tv table. But because nobody was broadcasting, the only camera in use was a low-def, high-overhead table cam, which proved useless for just about anything. We also didn't have an announcer for the first half hour either because the floor didn't want to do it, or because he couldn't find a mic. Given the shitty job he did after a mic was procured, I'm going with the former. This made my job more difficult than when we were outside the stage area, because at least out there I could hover over the table, then scurry back to my laptop. For the tv table, we are not allowed on the stage area at all.
So now, there was room for more spectators, but nobody could really see what was going on. At least when we were outside, some spectators could see, and we could do a decent job reporting. We were finally able to impress upon the floor, after about an hour, that he needed to do a better job announcing, but it was a nightmare all around.
A word about feeding the animals: if you engage Mike Matusow in the slightest way in any bit of conversation, he will chew your ear off in response. I made that mistake just before we came back from the dinner break and was rewarded with a non-stop stream of monologue for about five minutes.
I want to publicly give a huge thanks to all of my backers in today's razz event. I was surprised by how quickly I sold out. I guess this means I've done a good job fooling people over the last few years about how decent my razz game is. That, or you people have way too much money.
Either way -- I will do my best tonight. That's all anybody can really do.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Day 2 of the $5,000 No-Limit
Kansas City Lowball Deuce-to-Seven Draw event was yesterday. A pro-heavy field provided for lots of entertainment, much of it supplied by Mike Matusow.
You probably know by now that Matusow came into this year's WSOP a much slimmer man, as a result of a weight loss prop bet (hit up Pauly for all the details). Matusow also claimed he had turned a corner. Even though he will never be able to turn off his mouth, he's been doing his best not to get steamed when things don't go his way.
Last night, that newfound attitude was put to a severe test when Matusow tangled with Jeff Lisandro and stood pat on the draw without realizing he'd been dealt a club flush. It only became apparent after both men announced "jack-nine" and turned up their hands to check their kickers.
"I make my first move all night and I take it up the ass," moaned Matusow. "I can't believe it. I've *never* done that before."
The very next hand, Donkeybomber Tom Schneider opened for 25,000 and Barry Greenstein reraised on the button all in for 155,000. Matusow peeked at his cards from the small blind and stewed.
"When I do shit like this, it snowballs," he muttered. "It always snowballs." Finally, he mucked. Everyone else mucked and Greenstein dragged the pot.
"If that whole thing hadn't happened," Matusow said to Greenstein, "I might have called there. But shit like this always snowballs. First, I misread my hand. Second, I wanted to find out what would happen if I came over the top after folding 36 hands in a row. I guess I got my answer."
"I know how poker works. It snowballs. I need to keep a positive attitude and mental energy. That's the new Mike Matusow."
Matusow managed to hold onto his chips for the remainder of the night until Tom "durr" Dwan tried to put the squeeze play on Erick Lindgren and wound up paying the price when Lindgren called and stood pat with a smooth 10, enough to take down the pot and, for all intents and purposes, bust Dwan. That set today's final table, and is it a doozy:
Seat 1: Jeffrey Lisandro - 461,000
Seat 2: Mike Matusow - 520,000
Seat 3: Tom Schneider - 162,000
Seat 4: Erick Lindgren - 1,104,000
Seat 5: Barry Greenstein - 541,000
Seat 6: Tony 'G' Guoga - 394,000
Seat 7: David Benyamine - 410,000
Tony G and the Mouth at the same table, with Degenyamine thrown in for good measure. Should make for good times.
As for the razz event, I think Otis had it right. I want to play this event, I'm ok with putting up the $1,500 myself, but I'm also ok with taking a few backers. So I'm going to sell 40% of myself - $600. This will spread the risk a little but still give me quite a bit of skin in the game. $600 is ten shares for $60 each (although I suppose if you only want to buy a half-share for $30, that could be arranged also). Each share represents 4% of the buy-in and entitles the purchaser to 2% of any return. All shareholders will be made whole before I take any profit. For example, in the unlikely event that I cash for $2,800, shareholders will get 100% of their money back.
This is expected to be a pro-heavy field. Razz doesn't really bring out the donkeys the way the $1,500 no-limit hold'em events do. Consider what your expected return is before you invest in me.
If you're still interested, email me at ftrainpoker at gmail dot com before 4pm PT on Friday telling me how much you're in for. I will accept Full Tilt transfer or PayPal transfers (or, if you're coming out to Las Vegas this weekend, cold hard cash). Do NOT transfer the cash until I respond to your email.
Thanks and even if you're not interested in investing, wish me luck!
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I'm covering Day 2 of $5,000 No-Limit Deuce-to-Seven today, which should give me plenty of time to sweat CK and Bayne.
2:36pm PT I got to the Amazon Room about thirty minutes ago, just as they were going to break after Level 2. Already 40% of the field is gone. CK has 5,400. Greg Raymer (two to her left) and Humberto Brenes (two to Raymer's left) are at her table.
Bayne is hanging tough. He hasn't managed to chip up much yet -- only about 3,500 in his stack -- but he's a tough nut to crack so expect him to stick around a while yet.
3:38pm PT. They're ten minutes into Level 4 now. CK took a huge pot off of Greg Raymer to cripple him and send her up to 10,350. Raymer hit the rail on the next hand. Bayne, unfortunately, is heading in the opposite direction. He is down to 1,550. Blinds are 100/200.
4:28pm PT. They're on the second break. CK is holding steady with 9,450. Bayne, unfortunately, is out. He was good-natured about it at least: "I got all my chips in drawing dead." In Bayne's defense, he was short-stacked at the time.
With 239 players remaining, the average stack is about 9,700. CK is in good shape!
5:25pm PT. We've been having internet problems here in the Amazon Room. At last check, CK had 9,000 chips.
6:31pm PT. I had to shoo Bayne away from her table. Don't want to psyche her out. She's sitting on about 9,800 chips with 136 remaining. That means she's below par at this point by a fair amount. Keep your fingers crossed!
6:50pm PT. She made the dinner break. Still on 9,400. 120 players left. My information is that 72 will make the money (8 tables). I told her about all of your comments and support. Keep them coming!
8:20pm PT. Cards are in the air. She's short, but she has a game plan and she has confidence. We'll see what happens...
9:30pm PT. Still alive! She's managed to tread water, down a little to 8500. 94 players remain; she needs to get through 22 more eliminations to cash. Blinds are now 400/800 (yikes!) Send all your good card karma her way please.
9:47pm PT. She's out. Getting short and needing to make a move, she pushed QQJT preflop. AAxx called. She flopped a partial wrap draw but didn't get there. Out in 86th place. I'm still hella proud of her for making a good run and especially want to thank Short-Stacked Shamus for feeding me updates all day.
Monday, June 09, 2008
It's been a quiet couple of days out here in the desert. Saturday, the six-handed final table was the exact opposite of the tournament to that point. It ground to the slowest level of passive play imaginable, with a raise usually taking the blinds and antes uncontested. It took 212 hands to eliminate the last five players, and at one point we went almost 100 hands without an elimination. Boy did that suck.
Yesterday CK and I knocked some rust off the golf clubs and hit a local course - the Palm course at Angel Park. 3:30pm is the start of "super twilight" (or whatever they call it out here) rates -- $25 each got us a tee time and a cart. Nice! With the sun staying up as long as it does, we managed to get in a full 18 with plenty of light to spare. This was only my second round this year. I managed a 98 despite my worst putting round in at least three years. I think with a little work I could easily crack 90 on this course. So I guess I have a golf goal now.
Today I'm covering the $5,000 No-Limit 2-7 Draw (with rebuys) event. It's a small, pro-heavy field. Phil Ivey is in for at least $50,000, which is nothing compared to the money he stands to lose when the Celtics close out the Lakers in the NBA finals. I've been chained to my computer for the first couple of hours but I'm hoping I can get out among the tables to mine them for juicy little tidbits. We'll see.
Still on the fence about Razz on Friday, but I'm leaning yes.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
It was an easy Day 2 covering Event #9 yesterday. 71 aggro-donks played down to the final 6 in about eight and a half hours, continually stacking off for 40 big blinds preflop with winning hands like ace-nine. I packed up my laptop at 10:50pm and headed over to the MGM to hang out with the bloggerati for a second night in a row.
That's when it struck me. Oil prices have risen to over $138 a barrel. Companies that make finished products derived from oil are watching their costs skyrocket. Food prices have shot up at the fastest rate in almost two decades, driven by rising fuel costs, the diversion of corn to ethanol production and the related rise in commodities prices worldwide. Despite all of this, the cost of a lap dance remains fixed and unchanging at $20. Add in the fact that the dollar is the weakest it's been in decades, and realize that tits and ass are comparatively cheaper now than they've been at any time in the last ten years. So what's a guy to do when a bunch of his poker blogging brethren are in town?
Go to the Rhino with his girlfriend and three of his friends.
It had been several years since I set foot inside a strip club. There was some talk of going to the Rhino during the December Blogger Invasion, but the trip never came together. Too many people were distracted by things like pai gow, hold'em, slots or drinking to put together a proper trip. This time around, Falstaff was a man on a mission. He would not be denied.
Last night, the thing we learned about the hedonistic zoos that are strip clubs is that if your party of five contains two chicks, and the strippers can't figure out who's the odd man out, they will ignore you. We must have been seated for almost an hour before any of the girls even thought about striking up a conversation with us. It was a strange change from the usual experience of being aggressively accosted every three minutes. Only after CK and I switched seats, so that Falstaff was clearly the fifth wheel of our party, did we start to receive any attention.
CK and I decided to play a little game, where we would each choose the stripper from whom the other would get a dance. The basic contours are pretty easy for both of us: sporty black girl for her, long-haired Asian girl for me (natch). The details are trickier, as we are both notoriously picky. (Obviously - look who we're dating!)
I did manage to spot her girl pretty quickly -- a tall Jamaican girl with a pretty face and athletic build who was dressed in an orange bikini top. An older gentleman was monopolizing her time for quite a while, but she did eventually get up and I quickly flagged her down.
"Give a lap dance to a girl?" I asked her.
She beamed a smile back at me. "Sure!"
I settled in while CK got acquainted with her entertainer. "Why do I think I'm going to enjoy this more than you will?" I asked her.
Finding a girl for me proved more difficult. You think finding a hot Asian girl in a strip club would be as simple as finding sand at the beach, but I was being very picky. "No ass." "Too 'put together'." "Hair is too light." "Butter face." Then CK would see a stripper who would fit my bill to a T, but the stripper would be leading a dude by the hand into the back for some private attention. Lemon.
While CK was looking for a fine bottle of wine for me, Falstaff was treating the whole experience like he was at a buffet. He got dances from at least five different girls and especially enjoyed the spectacle of CK and The Wife getting their own dances. I didn't catch any of his girls' names, although we heard some of the most retarded stripper names during the course of the night. Petals. Butterfly. Emily. At least Falstaff returned the favor by repeatedly assigning each of us equally as retarded names and occupations. I think I was: Fire Marshall Fred; Bob, the nuclear physicist; "good at geography"; in town "from Arkansas" for a high school reunion; and a military weapons specialist at different points during the course of the night.
An Asian girl finally passed us who looked like she would do. Unfortunately, she was one of the strippers who wanted nothing to do with a party that included two chicks. As she raced past our seats, I stood up and reached out to try to grab her wrist. It was a total whiff on my part. I came up with nothing but air.
Everyone laughed. "Epic fail," said Falstaff.
By that point, CK, Falstaff, Chako and the Wife had each had multiple lap dances. I felt like some what of a failure for not being able to find a single girl in the whole club who would be sufficient. One of Falstaff's lovely ladies asked me what I liked in a stripper.
"Small Asian girl with long, dark hair," I explained. She said she had a friend she would send over. "Petals" came to find me about ten minutes later.
Petals had all the right curves but was a bit lacking in her facial features. She would not have been my first choice. I surveyed our group: CK was ready to fall asleep; Falstaff was ready to empty his wallet; and Chako and The Wife were ready to bust a nut all over each other. Petals would have to do. It was time to get my dance and leave.
She did a good enough job with me to convince us to part with another $20 so that, in the words of Petals, she could "molest" CK too. I was cool with that, Falstaff was cool with that, Chako and The Wife were cool with that, and most important of all, CK was cool with that. Okay then. Molest away.
Not a bad way to spend an early night off from work.
Friday, June 06, 2008
...and eventually you'll get the horns.
I've been on the receiving end of those horns a few times (usually due to my own stupidity). It's not a good place to be. But for what it's worth, I'm behind the bull all the way on this one. And when you mess with *my* bull, you get *my* horns. I may only be 135 pounds soaking wet, but that's 135 pounds of righteous, vindictive fury. Don't fuck with me.
If that didn't make a lick of sense to you, don't worry about it.
After a day off on Wednesday, it was back to the Amazon Room yesterday to cover Day 1 of Event #9 - $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em / Six-Handed. This event was not nearly as exciting to cover as the donkament I covered last weekend. I think it was because of a dearth of names in the field (most were in either Day 2 of the $10,000 Super Mix or the O/8 tournament. In addition, 6-max tends to just be an aggro-donk pushfest, and that's not very interesing.
Oh well, they can't all be cherries. Some are going to be lemons. Next week I'll be covering the NL 2-7 Draw, which should bring out more names and be infinitely more interesting.
A few problems I've noticed with Event #9:
Problem No. 1 -- at least 200 people were shut out of this tournament. Because there are a fixed number of tables in play, and because of the multitude of events running, Harrah's could only spare 206 tables for this event. That meant 1,236 runners. An additional 65 tables in the Brasilia room are supposed to be put in play at some point next week, but that didn't help the people who got turned away from the registration line yesterday. As a result, this event had fewer runners than last year. Oops. Bad move on Harrah's part. Not only did they cost themselves about $20,000 in juice, but they didn't help the perception that poker is on the decline.
Problem No. 2 -- the structure kinda sucked. I know I said the other day that the strutures seemed better this year, and I know that 6-max players are more prone to pushmonkey poker than most, but many of them complained that there just wasn't much room for any real play in this one. Players started with stacks of 60 big blinds; all it took was for one hand to go south for a player to wind up in Short Stack Land.
Plus side to the structure: I got out of the Amazon Room at 1am, with just 71 players of the original 1,236 remaining. That allowed me to head over to the IP for a few hours of 2-4 HORSE with bloggerati. There were no seats at the table, but StB allowed me to play his stack while he took a piss.
First hand: I raised Js8s in late position after a bunch of limpers and whiffed on the flop.
Second hand: I called 5c7c in middle position after several callers. Flop came 6-8-9 and the betting was capped five ways on the flop. I led out the turn Q and got 3 callers. The river 8 trashed my hand, and into the muck it went. Two players made full houses.
I just can't win at the IP. At that point StB returned to the table and I informed him that his piss had cost him $22.
Prop Betting Update: Garry Gates refused my over/under last night on players left at the end of play. I set the line at 69; he said if he had a gun to his head, he would take the under, but he couldn't pick a side that he liked and therefore "no bet". Of course, we finished with 71. Man, I suck at prop bets.
I'm giving some serious thought to playing the $1,500 Razz event that starts next Friday. I don't know if I'm really up to snuff to play it, but I also don't know how I can refuse, since PokerNews has encouraged us all to play events (and can flex us the time off if we want to). Thoughts?
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Got a solid eight hours of sleep last night after two grueling days covering Event #2 - $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em. I am a notoriously light sleeper, but I don't think an earthquake would have woken me up this morning after I crawled into bed and passed out.
On Day 2 of Event #2, we played from 2pm until 6am. The plan had been to play down to the final 9 and then play the final table starting at 2pm on Day 3, with the ESPN cameras rolling. Either the suits at Harrah's didn't anticipate 4,000 entrants, or they didn't realize that by tweaking the tournament structure to allow for more play, they were creating a longer tournament. Whatever the reason, we were nowhere near on schedule by the end of Day 2. At 6am, after 16 hours of play, there were still 18 players remaining and the tournament staff had a mutiny on their hands.
Because ESPN can't be knocked off its production schedule, we still had to play the final table on Day 3. That meant coming back to the Rio at 1:30pm on Day 3 and playing for four hours to reach the final 10, taking a two-hour dinner break, and *then* playing the final table starting at 7:30. It was a 160-hand final table that took over nine hours to play, not ending until almost 5am.
That has been a recurring theme from the early events of the WSOP - long days. I suppose that means that Harrah's succesfully tweaked the structures enough to allow a bit more skilled play and a bit less pushmonkey-jam-your-stack-in-on-a-60/40-and-see-how-the-cards-fall play. As a poker player I'm all in favor of more skilled play. As someone who likes to get some sleep, I wish things had been scheduled a bit better. Last night at the final table of Event #2, play went on so long that we were off the structure chart that Harrah's provided at the beginning of the tournament. That chart went through Level 28 (60,000 / 120,000 / 15,000); at 4am, we started Level 29 (80,000 / 160,000 / 20,000).
Despite the length, the days are busy enough that they fly by. I especially enjoyed covering the final table last night. I was pulling hard for Chris Ferguson, who made a miraculous comeback in Level 16 and ultimately busted 11 levels later -- in third place. Truly remarkable. And the final hand of the night (click through and scroll down a little) was, in poker parlance, "so sick". It just goes to show that live poker is rigged.
A little nugget that didn't make it into the live blog last night and something that makes what I'm doing lots of fun: after the final hand was completed, all focus was on the winner, Grant Hinkle. He was photograped with the money; Norman Chad interviewed him; Nolan Dalla presented the gold bracelet to him. Fifteen minutes after the final hand, Hinkle was still basking in the adulation reserved for a champion. Meanwhile, the runner up wandered past our media table and asked, "Do you know how I get paid?"
Poor kid. All he wanted to do was get out of there and collect his $520,000, but nobody was paying him the slightest bit of attention. We flagged down a floor person for him and got him on his way. After getting anally fist-fucked by ten-four of diamonds, it was the least we could do.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Lots to write about when I get the chance. In the interim, I wanted to point out that I'll be keeping tabs on CK as best I can. She drew the feature table in the Tropical Room - Table #6. Berry Johnston is on her right, Chad Brown is two seats to her left and Gabe Kaplan is two seats to Brown's left.
I'll refresh with updates as often as I can while we cover the final table of Event #2.
6:30pm PT: They went up to Level 2. She has 2,900 out of a starting stack of 3,000.
6:40pm PT: I missed the hand, but she eliminated Tex Barch, second runner up in the 2005 Main Event.
7:00pm PT: She's doing well but updates will be less frequent now as we're about to resume play in Event #2.
7:30pm PT: She texted me from the Tropical Room -- "Went backwards. 1,350."
10:10pm PT: The Omaha tournament is coming off of a half-hour break (which really fucked me over in terms of getting something to eat). She has 4,025 in her stack as Level 5 starts (blind 100/200, limits 200/400).
12:20am PT: She has been broken to a new table with 5,700 chips. Not sure what level they're on at this point.
2:00am PT: Not sure what happened, but she is out.
The Amazon Room is surprisingly empty at 4:45am. The sad thing is we're not even close to being done yet. There are 25 players remaining in Event #2, which resumed play at 2pm yesterday afternoon; we're supposed to play down to 9.
Now I understand how Pauly and Otis came up with the lime-tossing game. At this time of the morning, with significant action slowing down as players jockey for chips and try to reach the final table, there's not much to alleviate the boredom and fatigue. I'm wondering if I'm going to make it home before CK wakes up.
In other news, I'm 0 for 2 on prop bets. I lost the $5/head pool on the end time of last night's 10k PLHE final table. I had 10:30pm, which was looking great until Kathy Liebert picked up tons of chips and dragged things out until 11:45. That was $5 shipped to a field reporter.
Then today I made an absolutely horrible $100 bet about the number of tournament ID cards that would be lost during the day today. I was offered an $80 buyout that I quickly accepted.
Upon hearing the news, CK remarked, "Wow. You suck at prop bets."
More to come...
Sunday, June 01, 2008
Today saw my first unsure moment at this year's World Series. A player near our media table, a highly visible pro who had been drinking *something* all day, was hammered to the point that it was disrupting play. The question became, "Should I report this? If so, how do I report it?"
As Joe Friday would say, "Just the facts, ma'am." After getting the approval from the people in charge at PokerNews and with an assist from Pauly, I took an extremely neutral approach to reporting this tidbit and made sure that only completely substantiated facts appeared in my post. Everyone who read the post agreed that I had reported the behavior in an appropriate manner, but I see how easy it is to inject the reporter's own interpretations of facts into the reporting of those facts.
Today's annoyance at the Rio: three large flat-panel televisions hang over the long hallway that leads to the Amazon Room. Although I haven't spent enough time beneath them to be sure, it appears that they are showing the ESPN broadcast of each of the last hands of the Main Event from 2003 through 2007 on an endless loop. That doesn't bother me much. It's the knot of people that this causes in the hallway. Seriously, haven't you people seen these same exact hands play out over a thousand times on ESPN?
Tomorrow is looking to be a killer day. We ended play on Day 1b of Event #2 with 224 players. Combined with the 224 from yesterday, that makes a Day 2 field of 448 that has to play all the way down to 9. Oy. One of the floor people told us, "Never underestimate how badly these people play." After watching people repeatedly stack off with top-top the last two days, I can see his point. I don't take much solace in it though. Time to bust out the greenies...