Thursday, July 10, 2008

2008 WSoP Post 8 - My head hurts...

My head hurts. The room is spinning. Nothing is working the way it’s supposed to, and I really don’t know what to do about it.

Since last I typed, I’ve seen nothing but continuous stretches of terrible luck, terrible players, and my money going the wrong way. Aside from a 48 minute run of time last night, I have not had a winning hour in three days.

Two weeks ago after returning home from the first Vegas excursion this month, I wrote a post about coolers and bad luck. The day I was speaking about then cost me more in terms of actual monetary loss (though not by much – my bankroll is now at 1/8 of its original size from three weeks ago), but this run just plain old hurts. Literally. I found three bruises on my legs that I can't remember doing anything to get; my whole body aches, and I can’t even figure out why.

I started my day yesterday after Monday Night’s tournament bubble by heading to Caesar’s for the Mega-Stack Championship Event. I had a great feeling about this tournament; even though I hadn’t cashed in the Sunday event when I first got into town, nor had I cashed in the tournament at Harrah’s on Monday, I had been playing quite well and just not getting any traction. I decided to change my style of play a little for this tournament, opting to become an absolute blank slate – never removing my headphones, never making eye contact unless I was trying to read someone else, just becoming an absolute rock.

And it worked ridiculously well for the first three hours. With the low-limit blind structure and 25,000 chips to start with, there were plenty of hands to play and plenty of pots to pick up. I finally grabbed a monster when I turned the nut flush against someone who was over-playing a bluff and tried to represent exactly the hand I was holding. After taking almost 10,000 chips from him, I was up to almost 50k and well on my way to rolling through Day One.

On the second hand after the second break, I was in the big blind and found pocket aces. There was a raise from 400 to 1600 and a call. I came over the top for about 5000, and the initial raiser just called me. The other player thought for a second, then declared “Well, maybe I’m racing both of you. I’m all-in.” He had about 29k when the hand started, and was already invested for 1600. The initial raiser was in for 5k, but had another 40k behind him. I didn’t want to take any chances, so after a couple seconds, I pushed all-in as well. The initial raiser folded and showed his A-K off-suit.

The other guy announced “Wow, I think he just folded two of your outs!” And he was completely serious. I showed my Aces, and his jaw dropped. The flop came out J-9-4 with two clubs, and without even looking at the other guy I said “Damnit, I just got fucked. You have pocket Jacks, right?” He just nodded and flipped up his hand. I didn’t get the last ace in the deck, and was suddenly dropped to about 10,000 chips with blinds at 200/400. Still not horrible, but nowhere near as solid as I would have been if I’d held up – 85,000ish in chips at that point in the tourney would have been pretty close to the top of the list.

I kept plugging away, eventually dropping down to about 7000 before doubling up when I got lucky against an overpair of Queens with Ace-Ten and flopped a set of 10’s, rivering quads. I picked up three straight sets of blinds with big raises pre-flop, never with a hand worse than K-Q suited. Then I got put in the big blind at 300/600, and looked at Pocket Aces again. I had about 16,000 chips, and was already thinking about how I wanted to play this.

Luckily (or maybe unluckily), it played itself out. There was a raise to 1900, and a re-raise (from the same guy who had the Jacks earlier) to 4500. When the action came to me, I simply pushed all 16,000 into the pot and went into “rock” mode. The initial raiser (new to the table) thought forever before folding – later saying he had Pocket Jacks. Thank God somebody knows how to fold those. The other guy looked at me and said “I think you’re making a play here, and you just stole three straight blinds. I call.”

I flipped over Aces again and he disgustedly showed K-J offsuit. After the flop came down with a 10-high rainbow board, I started feeling a little better about my situation. Then the turn brought a 9 and I got a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. When the Queen hit the river to send me packing and hand him 16,000 more undeserved chips, I trudged back to my hotel to sit and think.

A couple hours later, I went to the poker room here to play in the 8pm Deep Stack tournament again. I was running quite well to begin, picking up over 3500 chips to add to the 10k we started with in under 35 minutes. Of course, all that went away very quickly.

I picked up A-J in late position and raised to 525 from the 100 big blind after there had been two callers. The big blind thought for awhile before raising me to 1300. It folded around to me, and I just called.

The flop hit A-2-J, and the big blind curled his nose at the board, then bet out 2000. I looked right at him and said “That’s a terrible flop for your Pocket Queens… I’m all-in.” He thought for about 30 seconds, then called and showed… Pocket Queens. After I flipped up my hand, he stood up and started collecting his things. Of course, the Queen on the turn gave him the hand and knocked me down to about 1200 chips. I lasted four more hands, eventually running into the same guy and his Pocket Queens again, this time with Pocket 10’s of my own. We both flopped a set, just to make it a little more ugly, before I went to the rail.

I crossed the street to the Mirage and found a $2/$5 “Must Move” cash game. For those that don’t know, a must move game is exactly that – a staging game where players can play, but when a seat opens at the “Main Game”, the person who has been at the must move for the longest is required to move to the open seat. Then the next person on the waiting list for the game is put onto the must move.

This was my only good run, and it lasted exactly 48 minutes. I rolled over the must move game for the time I was there, more than doubling my original buy-in on the table and feeling a little better about the day. I made two disgustingly good calls with underpairs to the board, and was right both times (much to the shock and unhappiness of the players I called). I planned to play through my blinds and button, then pick up for the night, when I was called to the main game.

The problem with a “must move” is that most places will not allow you to leave the game is you’ve been called to the main game. So although I didn’t feel like playing much more, and although I was up more than enough to call it a night, I was required to move to the main game and play at least one hand. And since all of the players that I had been steamrolling for 48 minutes were already there, I figured I’d go for one revolution around the table, then pick up and go to bed.

Nine hours later, I closed down the table for good. In my “only” revolution around the table, I lost $700 from the stack I had built. Once on a poor read by me (I had AQ and couldn’t put my opponent on A-K when both an Ace and King hit the board. I had raised and he had taken forever just to call… thought he had A-J), and once on bad luck when I rivered a set of queens, only to find out someone had been chasing a gut-shot straight draw on a board of 10-J-5-2-Q with his Ace-King. That one cost almost $500. I stayed on the table and rebuilt most of the stack, ended the night up about ½ of what I had been up when I left the must move. I got back to the hotel at about 7:30am and went to bed until 2 this afternoon.

After a comped meal at the Mirage, I headed back to the poker room for another $2/5 game. I couldn’t get a seat, so I took up space at a $1/2 game instead. As I’ve said for the past five years, I hate $1/2. The game is slow, the money isn’t enough to get excited about, and the quality of player is usually terrible. I dumped $400 today in two buy-ins playing against housewives and college kids trying to learn the game, people who didn’t understand that a straight draw or third pair on the board is not something you want to call all the way to the river with. I got caught on the river five times, and finally picked up when a new $2/5 must move opened up.

Unfortunately, I only spent 10 minutes in the game, choosing to pick up and go to the Bellagio with two other guys from the room who I had been playing with for two days. Both were terrible players, and both had money to burn. I wanted to be as close to them as possible.

At the Bellagio, the $2/5 list had over 80 names on it, so we all jumped on the $5/10 must move table. I was the last to move, and after making some quick money in the initial table, I moved to the main game… and promptly got crushed. Three times. And only once did my money go in when I was not ahead (though I was almost even mathematically, about 55% - 45%).

The final beat was so stupid it was almost comical. On a board of 6c-5d-Kd-Jd, I re-raised all-in from a bet of $200 to my final $735, into a pot of about $550. I had K-J, but obviously without a diamond. The other player thought for awhile, then looked at me and asked “Is two pair any good here? I’ve got two pairs, and I feel like they’re good.”

I looked at him and said “Well, either you’ve got the same King / Jack in your hand that I do, or you’ve got 5-6. But I’m pretty certain I’ve got you beat.” He thought for another 30 seconds, then called and showed 5-6. I flipped over my King Jack, and he was actually pissed at me for catching the Jack.

Of course, there was no reaction from him when he caught another six on the river, sending me storming out of the poker room and back towards my hotel.

Unfortunately, instead of coming straight back here, I went to the Mirage for one more crack at the $2/5 game. I was hoping to see some of the same people from last night, and luckily for me, they were there. Even better, there were two huge stacks on the table, and one of them was very, very drunk.

Less than 30 minutes after sitting down, I was walking back to my hotel with another disgusted look on my face. I flopped a set of Queen on a board of Qc-Ac-4h. I bet out $100 into the $190 pot and got a raise to $350 from the drunk guy (seriously, this kid was spilling his chips all over the place, and when he tried to stand up he threw the chair ten feet behind him, almost knocking over a cocktail waitress).

I instantly went all-in, and he didn’t hesitate to call. I announced that I had a set of Queens, flipping over my hand. He picked up his cards and said “I have the nut flush”.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I was giddy with this development. He had mis-read both his hand and the board and apparently thought he had flopped four clubs, as he turned over his Kc-7d. The dealer informed him that he didn’t not have a flush, but rather had a hand of King-High with both the nut flush and straight draws. He responded “it’s ok, I’ll have a flush in a second”. He then proceeded to run out consecutive clubs without pairing the board, and began screaming “See, I told you! I win them all. Give me all your chips. Ship it all over here. Give me everything. I win, I win them. You have nothing.”

I still have no idea how I didn’t knock out his teeth. Thankfully, the floorperson immediately came over and informed him that it was time for him to leave. I gave serious consideration to waiting for him outside the front door to give him a lesson in poker etiquette, but I prefer not to get arrested on this trip. Besides – I don’t think I’d have enough left for bail.

And finally, the coup de’grace. On the way back to my hotel room to write this and vent for awhile, I stopped into the Harrah’s Poker Room to get some information on the Freeroll Tournament I’m playing in on Sunday Morning. I was looking for a player list to make sure my name is there, but unfortunately it isn’t available until Friday. However, the floor supervisor informed me that whoever told me about the tournament on the day I won my seat was misinformed.

You see, I planned this entire secondary trip around the premise that on Sunday, I’d be playing in a $100,000 freeroll with at least $12,000 going to first place (depending on the number of actual players), and about 150 players competing for the prize pool. This was the information the floor supervisor gave me when I won the seat, and it sounded like it was worth my time to come back out here for 10 more days and try to hit a big win.

Tonight, I learned that “Oh, he must have misspoke when he told you that. The prize pool is $12,000 total, with somewhere around $4,500 going to first place and nine places getting paid. Some of our new floor people have been getting information wrong – we’re holding a series of classes after the WSoP is over to emphasize the importance of getting things right and being consistent.”

I almost threw up on the spot. $4,500 won’t even break me even for today, let alone help rebuild the bankroll. If I had been told that was the freeroll situation, I wouldn’t have even come back out here for this trip – it isn’t worth the time and expense just for flights, hotel fare and meals for me to come here for 10 days, not to mention the cold streak I’m on right now.

So, basically, I’m stuck waiting for Sunday to roll around so I can hope to win a useless tournament and get the hell out of here for awhile. I plan on spending the rest of this week either laying around my hotel room or playing very, very low-limit cash games and small buy-in tournaments and sit-n-go’s around the city. Not good times right now. Maybe I should go play some slots.


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