Saturday, July 04, 2009

I Went To The WSOP And All I Got Was This Lousy Beefstick!

Michele and I went on what I hope is now an annual trip to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. Last year I qualified through Full Tilt Poker online, but this year I was not as lucky. I figured I would give a $550 mega satellite one last chance before I give up for 2009.

We arrived in Las Vegas a little after 2:00 PM and we immediately headed to the Convention Center to check out the action. After a brief chat with a supervisor, I found out that the satellite would start at 4:00 PM. Michele and I decided that we would postpone our date night until Friday so I could play in today's tournament. We waited in line for about a 1/2 hour to register during which it was announced that the tournament start time would be pushed back until 4:30 because there were so many entries.

Eventually there were 526 runners for 26 seats. We started with 4,000 in chips and 1/2 hour levels. The first blind level was 25-50. My cards were horrendous for the first level. I think I folded the entire level. I may have tried a random blind steal and got reraised so I laid it down.

I tried a couple of other small moves in the next level that were unsuccessful as well. The third level was 100-200. I think I was down to around 3,500 in chips. I picked up 44 on the button. It was folded to me and I raised to 600. The crazy scandanavian in the big blind reraised to 1800. My first instinct was to push all in. It always looks like a steal when the button raises first in the pot. However, if my opponent had been paying attention, he should have noticed that I had not really played a hand in the last hour. I eventually pussed out and he turned over an Ace. I said, "there had better been another one of those in your hand."

I folded the next 9 hands when it was my button again. This time I called a raise from one of the more active players at the table with Q-3 offsuit. I was intending to play my position and figured he would fire at the flop and then I would take it on the turn when he checked. The problem was that the Small Blind called after me. So this makes the pot a little bigger that I want and now I have to bluff two people instead of one.

I don't remember what the flop was, but the small blind checked, the raiser bet, I called with nothing, and the small blind came along. The turn actually gave me an inside straight draw. The small blind checked again and this time the pre-flop raiser checked as well. So do I take the free card? The pot was already pretty big and I would be happy to take it down if they will let me. I fired at the pot leaving me just under 2k in chips. The small blind then pounced and announced he was all in. The other guy folded and I disgustedly mucked.

Now I really have to go into lock down mode. I only have 9 BB left. Luckily a short time later, an older hispanic fellow who could not speak english and was the worst player at the table limps in under the gun. I pick up pocket Queens and go all in. The blinds fold and the hispanic guy calls off half his stack with K-10. Luckily a King does not hit the board and I double up to nearly my starting stack.

The next level was the same 100-200 blind level but they added the 25 ante. Now my stack is getting whittled away each hand and I fold back down to 3,400. A newer player at the table raises in early position to 600. I look down at JJ and immediately ship it in. He snap calls with QQ and I go home now. An utterly distasteful performance.

I sulk back up to the room and check on Michele. She had ordered a $21 hamburger from room service and was in a half dazed meat coma on the bed. I sat down and enjoyed some free beef jerky and watched TV for an hour with her. Naturally my competitive nature would not allow me to sit still after losing $550 so I asked if it would be ok to go down and play some cash games for a while. She voiced some small concern that I might be upset, and I honestly told her that I felt OK. What I did not recognize was the onset of patience tilt.

There are many kinds of tilt. You can see a Phil Hellmuth rant where he berates another player and looks like a total ass. You can see someone take a bad beat and steam raise the next 5 hands. Patience tilt is where you are anxious to win your money back and tend to over play your hands. You are still waiting for the good ones, but once you get one, the money is probably going into the pot and you better hope that you are running good.

The Rio's poker room is right next to their sports book and pretty small for a hotel that prides itself on hosting the World Series. The smallest No Limit game they run is a $1-$3 blind game. That's a little higher than I normally play but I was not too concerned.

I decided to buy in a little short, to further encourage myself to be patient and not chase hands with silly suited connectors until I had built up a stack. The shorter buy in would force me to play premium hands and play them hard to get paid.

My very first hand, I picked up pocket queens. I was in the cutoff and I raised to $15. The button smooth called me and the big blind also came along. The flop was J-J-7. That looks pretty good. The blind checks and I bet $30. The button calls again but the blind then check raises me to $120. Ugh! My initial instinct was to fold. After all, very few guys have the balls to check raise a raiser and a caller with an under pair.

For some reason, the tilt devil on my other shoulder whispers in my ear. "Why would he check raise now? The flop is safe, any good player would check raise the turn and trap you for all your chips. Maybe he's just trying to bully the new guy? I listen the the tilt devil and push all in. The button folds. The blind takes a few seconds pondering the call before he pushes out the other $100. I knew that hesitation meant he had a Jack with a mediocre kicker. I was right as he eventually showed the J-9. The button claimed he threw away pocket Kings. He had no reason to lie, but I was a little flabbergasted that the deck had been that stacked against me in the very first hand.

I stumbled to the ATM and withdrew another buy in. Now I was playing pretty tight and a couple of new crazy players had joined the table. The young guy who had busted me had lost his stack and left the game. The new player was playing a lot of pots and making big raises preflop. It sucked having him on my left, so when a seat opened up two to his right, I jumped on it immediately. I would much rather have the maniac on my right. Plus there was a short stacked calling station on my immediate left now who would easily pay me off if I ever hit anything.

I had rebought in for $200 again, but after the seat change I put another $100 on the table so I would have the ammunition to play against the aggressive guy. I won a small pot with Ace-King after I reraised an early raiser. He made the call and I bluffed on a board of 2-3-8. So now my stack was sitting around $325.

A couple of hands later, I picked up AsKd again. I raised to $12. The player two seats to my left made it $35 and everyone else folded. My tilt devil suggested shoving all in, but I fought back that instinct. I decided to call and see what happens. The flop was Ac-Tc-6c. So I got top pair, but there is three to a flush out there. I think for a moment then check, planning to check raise. My thinking was that he will probably bet almost anything here to continue after his reraise preflop. If I am ahead, he will shut down after I raise and I won't have to play the turn and river and worry about another club coming. I did not think of it at the time, but it the flop also eliminates one of the hands he could have reraised me with as the AcKc is not possible since the Ac is on the board.

So I checked and he bet $50. I raised all in and he called immediately. He had the AdKc. The turn was another club and my stack was gone again. I knew I had overplayed the QQ hand earlier, but this one I was not so sure. I just ran poker stove and gave him a range of AA, KK, QQ, AK with the King of clubs, and AQ with the Queen of clubs. If that range is accurate then I was 59% to win the hand after the flop. If I take out his AQ hands my win rate only goes up to 60%. So I guess it wasn't terrible. I made my best poker move of the day and quit the game.

Michele was a little shocked when I told her how much I had lost, but that's the risk you take.

The next day while we were waiting at the Monte Carlo to meet my friends Rudy and Teresa for lunch, Michele and I hit the slot machines for a small profit. I then played black jack for a little while and made some small change there too.

After lunch and a quick nap, I decided to go back and conquer the Rio cash games again. This time I was bound and determined to wait for my good hands and hope to get paid when I hit them.

The game was reasonably soft and I had slowly increased my starting stack from $300 up to $425. I was a couple of hours into the session and I could feel my patience starting to wear a little thin.

A couple of the calling stations had busted and some short stacked timid players had taken their place so my chance for more profits were starting to look slim. Just about when I was ready to leave, I picked up 22 in middle position. A younger guy who had doubled up earlier when his top two pair had spiked a full house on the river against an old lady's bottom set, raised to $15. Since he was the only one at the table that had me covered, I could finally call with a small pocket pair and have the correct odds. The older man to my immediate left called as well and we had three to the flop.

One of the reasons for my frustration lately is that I had picked up a number of small pocket pairs in the last few sessions of poker and it seemed like it had been days since I had hit a set. This time the flop was good to me as it was a perfect A-7-2 rainbow. The initial raiser bet $30. I decided to slow play since the board was so harmless. I just called and the old man called behind me. The turn was a 9 which put two diamonds on the board. The raiser bet $50 this time and now I pounced and raised to a total of $150. The man on my left folded and my opponent started to think. He eventually put out the $100 to call and we went to the river. The dealer laid out another 7 giving me 2's full of 7's. My opponent checked. I'm not sure that a value bet is the best idea here. A good player is probably only going to call with something that beats me. Maybe he was fooling around with A-9 pre-flop and he hit two pair on the turn? I bet $150 and he took a little time and called again.

I showed the full house and he mucked. It was the biggest pot the table had seen since I had been there. My profit was $390 on just that hand! I folded the next couple of hands and then took a bathroom break to gather my thoughts. It was getting close to dinner time and I decided to call it a night. I racked up and went to tell Michele that I had won back half of the money I had lost the day before.

Dinner was at the Palms at Gardunos. We stuffed ourselves with cheesy Mexican goodness, but had to kill a couple of hours before the start time of the Hangover movie. The slots were not kind, but the black jack table was open only this time it was a $10 minimum bet instead of $5 like it was at the Monte Carlo. In spite of being distracted constantly by all the hot women dressed like prostitutes trying to get into the Jay-Z concert that night, I managed to win $100 to cap off my gambling for the trip.

We ended our vacation by watching the movie of the year. I don't think anything could have lived up to the hype that my friends were giving this movie, but it did it's best. I really appreciated the slide show of the bachelor party pictures at the end of the movie. Fortunately or unfortunately, a lot of those pictures brought back some memories of crazy days gone by.

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