Sunday, July 10, 2005

Seven hours and some lovely parting gifts...

(Nothing but poker today. It’s a good read. A little on the long side, but worth the time...)

Seven hours.

Four hours more than Daniel Negreanu.

Three and a half hours more than Chris “Jesus” Ferguson.

Two hours less than Phil Hellmuth.

Just under an hour more than Doyle Brunson (more on that later).

And yet, I still feel strangely empty.

Before I break into song and lament about today’s results in my first ever appearance in the World Series of Poker Main Event, let me catch you up on the past couple of days.

Thursday, I went to The Mirage hoping to play in a $230 NL Hold-‘Em tournament. Instead, I learned that they cancelled the tournament because they didn’t have enough space for all of the players. I ended up wasting space at a blackjack table for a few hours before heading home, tail tucked firmly between my legs.

Friday morning was a new day. I woke up (even after four days, I’m still stuck on East Coast time...) and after a quick trip to McDonalds for breakfast (whoops!) I returned to the Mirage, determined to claim a spot of dominance at a $1-2 NL cash game table.

At 7AM, I sat down with my $200 buy-in and began playing some of the best poker I’ve played in about two months. By 11AM, I had taken a staggering amount of money off of the drowsy players at my table, and only once on a bad beat (pocket 3’s that were behind three jacks until I caught a very bad flush on the river... for $175). Every hand I held hit. Every bluff I made paid off. It was ridiculous. Only once was I worried about a call, but I made it anyways (my pocket queens held up against pocket 10’s. Remember that for later.) I had two and a half racks of bright red $5 chips (you do the math), as well as a couple smaller stacks in front of me.

Then it happened.

QQ outdrawn to a 4-3 offsuit full house with a major raise (and 2 callers) pre-flop.

QQ outdrawn to a K-7 suited flush with a raise, re-raise, and call pre-flop.

QQ outdrawn to an A-K suited flush (on the river no less) with a raise, re-raise all-in, and a call pre-flop.

QQ outdrawn to a set of 3’s.

QQ outdrawn to a set of 6’s with a pre-flop all-in.

See a pattern yet? Good. It gets worse.

QQ behind all the way to an AA slowplay (first hand he had slowplayed all day)

Of course the hand that really started the free-fall came in between the A-K and the set of 3’s...

In late chip position, I got QQ. There was a raise from $2 to $12 from the man under the gun who had said only 30 seconds earlier that this was his last hand. Two seats down called the $12, and the next player raised to $25. I was one seat from the button, and pushed all-in (I had the table more than covered). The first raiser called without hesitation, making me worry that he had Kings or Aces. The other two players went away.

I showed my Queens. The other guy showed his stellar A-4 offsuit, and counted down the $600+ in front of him. A $600+ call on a bad ace, after a re-raise and an all-in from someone with more than double your chips is not a good idea.

Both of the other players said that they folded A-x, wisely deciding to get out of the hand, leaving only one ace in the deck, and the unlikely possibility of hitting 2-3-5 for a straight.

So naturally, the flop came 6-A-6.

One out left in the deck, and he hit it. True to his word, as soon as the turn and river brought blanks, he cashed out his newfound wealth and left me sitting with my jaw on the table.

9 hands in 10 hours gave me QQ. They held up once, and once I was behind AA the whole way. The other 7 hands were cracked by ridiculously bad luck. All told, between the money I put in the pot, the money I was up, and the money I was up on my second rush, QQ cost me almost $3000 yesterday. $800 came out of my pocket; the rest was profits gone down the drain.

Quickly, before I get into today’s Main Event debacle, one last hand. I had bee playing middle suited connectors (4-5, 6-7, 8-9, and almost always suited) for $2 or even $7 depending on position all day long. On one hand, I was third to act pre-flop, in fifth position. I had 4-5 suited hearts. The kid to my right (Corey something...), who was the only person on the table who could do serious damage to my chipstack at the time (he had about $900 in front of him) raised to $12. I decided to go away.

Three callers later (unbelievably loose table) the flop came out 6-3-7, all hearts. Yep – I threw away the stone cold nuts, a straight flush off the flop. The only way I could have lost would have been if someone had the hearts to make a better straight flush to the 10 (6-7-8-9-10).

Corey bet to $15. Three callers. Now I’m standing up, because I’m absolutely sick. I’m almost certain that Corey flopped an ace-high flush, meaning I would have taken every last chip from him.

The turn brought a blank spade. $25 more from Corey, a call from the next player, and a raise to $50. A fold and two calls from Corey and the other player. $251 in the pot

The river was a fourth heart, meaning now if Corey indeed did flop the ace-high flush, he had just lost his best chance to bust someone badly. He bet $50, but got no action as the player who had raised off the turn showed a King-high flush and complained about his bad luck (His bad luck?!?!).

Before he mucked his cards, I turned to Corey and told him he had no idea how lucky he was. He simply said “I had the nuts dude”, and showed me the A-J of hearts in his hand. I looked at him and said “No, you didn’t. Look at the board again.”

He looked, then looked back at me, and his eyes widened. “Damn. Did I bet you off of the straight flush pre-flop?”

I nodded. He racked his chips and ran to the cashier...

Onto the Main Event...

For the past two days, I’ve been very worried about the professionals that would be in my first day of play. I had seen or heard a pretty decent list of players that had participated in the first two days of action. Still, I had this nagging feeling that I was going to get stuck with a number of top tier professionals in my day of play.

I had no idea.

Two tables to my left sat Doyle Brunson.

One table away from him sat John Juanda.

In a separate section of play was Howard Lederer.

The table directly next to me had both Huck Seed and John D’Agostino.

I have no idea who the pro players were at the featured table.

And staring at me from directly across the table...

Phil Ivey, A.K.A. the man voted by fellow pro players as the best poker player in the world today.

And I’m supposed to advance to Day Two?

I’ll break this down for you nice and gentle. I lost. Badly. But I can take consolation in the following things:

1. Of the 7 hands in 7 hours in which Phil and I played heads-up, I won four, including two double-ups.

2. The hand that basically doomed me to a never-ending string of “All-In and a Prayer” was a bad beat. I had an overpair to the board (JJ with 9-high and 2 spades showing), and I was called all-in by someone who was 4-flush (not an amateur, either. Alan Colon – 9th place at last years U.S Poker Championship). 6000 of my 8300 remaining chips went the wrong way after I bet, he raised, and I pushed all-in to his call.

3. I outlasted Doyle. Not really something to be proud of, since we never played at the same table, but still...

Oh, speaking of that last one...

The action was to me with a J-Q off-suit on the button with four callers of the $200 big blind. Although I had position, I also had only about $2200 chips remaining. I was pondering my options when applause started pouring across the Rio Convention Center – Doyle had been eliminated. Every hand in the room stopped as players gave much deserved respect to one of the greatest ever. Once the noise died down, I decided to give up on the J-Q and folded. The small blind called and there was a free flop...

10-K-A rainbow. Not only would I have flopped the nut straight, but I would have had 6 other players in the hand betting to me. After the turn brought a blank, Colon won the pot and showed his A-K, meaning I probably would have doubled-up off of him. Perfect.

So now I sit in my hotel room, listening to music and wondering if I should just pay the trip cancellation fees, go home and save the vacation hours from work. Las Vegas is a great city, but it’s pretty boring and lonely with no money and no one to talk to. Thank God for cell phones and the Internet.

I’ll probably stay here for a few more days, at least. Maybe I’ll play in small-money tournaments and try to recover from my stupidity on Friday. Maybe I’ll just lay in the sun and turn into a lobster. Who knows.

I will try to post again before I leave with some lessons learned and maybe even a real sports update. Yes, I did hear about Johnny Damon and Curt Schilling. Yes, I have issues with the All-Star Game. No, I couldn't really care less about the NHL fighting about still not reaching a contract agreement. Yes, I have an opinion about all of it. Yes, you’ll read about it soon.

But not tonight.



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