The $1,500 NLHE was the second tournament I played at the 2006 WSOP, after going deep in the $2,500 short handed event a few days prior. I registered 5 minutes after the tournament started and was signed up as an alternate, meaning there were 2600+ entrants (gulp). My record in tournaments with more than 1000 entrants is abysmal, 1 final table in countless attempts, but hey it’s the WSOP.
My first table included Nick Schulman a.k.a. ’The Takeover”, who I’ve played many times online on PokerStars 10/20 NL cash game tables. He won $2.4 million last year in one of the WPT events and has played the biggest games online for a long time. Fortunately, he had been playing for the past 24 hours non-stop and looked shattered. The Takeover was 2 seats to my right, to his left was Rohit Chopra, whom I played with briefly during the shorthanded tourney. He’s a Suisse actor and a decent player from what I witnessed, though he did seem to give up hands easily, exploitable to being ‘floated’.
Blinds started at 25/25 and an hour clock, measly starting stacks of 1,500 chips. Gamble or go home ethos. By the second or third orbit, I was already flipping coins. Big slick versus pocket Jacks, all the chips went in after I 3-bet pre-flop. Putting the pressure on my opponent to call the remainder of his stack, which he did. Ace and a King hit the flop, improving to a full house on the river. Double up!
The early casualty was replaced by a tall Black guy (Bling), possibly a basketball player, wearing more diamonds than most rappers. He knew the Takeover and I overheard he’d been playing $400-800 Limit Hold’em at the Rio earlier that day. Not long after he sat down, I had Aces cracked by a guy who got offended because he thought I was slow rolling him. He only had T300 left after losing most of his chips when he flopped Aces up with a lower kicker, so the beat didn’t hurt my stack. My supposed slow rolling, was simply bad acting in an attempt to have the bald French guy who limped in under the gun, to enter the pot. It didn’t work, and to make it worse the all-in player’s pocket eights picked up a set on flop and I didn’t improve.
Blinds went up to 25/50 and I raised in early position to T150 holding 99, Bling calls, and a young square faced guy re-raised to 300. He’d only recently sat down and I had no clue what he had, I called, as did Bling. It was a low rainbow flop of 732. The action was checked around, evidently the pre-flop re-raiser had over cards. The turn came another 7. I lead out for with a feeler bet of 300. Bling looked at me, glanced at the other guy in the pot and then squeaked , “I raise”. He made it 1100 total. It was so obvious that he was making a play on me, even though I had very low fold equity, I quickly went all-in for another 1825 certain that if he did call I’d be a big favourite. He folded without hesitation.
Around an orbit later, there were a few mid-position limpers before short stacked Rohit Chopra pushed all-in for about 900 chips. I picked up pocket tens, knowing my previous flat call with aces would be in the back of my opponents minds I flat called, I probably should have pushed to isolate but it turned out to be irrelevant. Chopra flipped over Jack Ten of Clubs and I’m in good shape. “I did want a call.” He said, after the board provided no help.
I moved tables shortly afterwards, where I had most of the table significantly out-chipped. “Oowee, we got a big stack here.“ Commented the Southern gentleman in seat 2. I set my stall out by taking the blinds with a raise from early position holding Ace Jack.
A few orbits later, a young guy with around 4,000 chips raised on the button to 150. He hadn’t raised before, so it was probable he was holding a big hand. I planned to play pretty much any hand after the small blind got out of the way. Ten 7 off… monster. To the flop, 6, T, T rainbow, bingo! Checked to the raiser, he checked behind. Hmmm Ace King? Ace Queen? Turn produced a 5. I led out for 300 chips, if the pot size was going to increase I felt I’d have to do the betting. He sharply made it 1200 to go. Aha, trap-checked yourself on the flop. Aces or Kings, quads and Ace Ten wouldn’t make such a large bet. I thought about flat calling, but it would look way too strong, I announced all-in and he said he had to call. Aces no good bro. I’m up to about 9,000 chips.
Blinds increased to 50/100. A short stack with 2 big blinds went all-in on my big blind. 4 players, including myself with Jack 9 off, saw the flop, which came 872. Checked around. Turn came a 5. I picked up a double belly buster and bet 500, I don’t know why I bet because there was no side pot to win. Folded back to the ultra-passive spiky haired Asian guy in the small blind, who to my dismay called. The river produced a 2. Spiky hair, had about 3,000 chips remaining. He checked again, I didn’t sense strength so had a bluff at the side pot, 1400. He folded. “If you can beat Jack high, you win.” I said. Indeed he could, as he flipped over J2 spades for trip 2s. Spiky hair later confided that he folded an 8.
Blinds went up to 100/200. Spiky hair raised on the from the hijack, I flat called with pocket sevens from the cut off. Disgusting play as Spiky hair only had about 3000 behind and had been raising >10% of hands. A new player to the table, wearing a WSOP hoodie, slipped his cards together and two handily placed his chips in the middle, in a manner that suggested he was certain he had the best hand. Spiky hair deliberated for about 20 seconds before mucking. It was another 2900 to me. I was pretty sure from his mannerisms, hoodie held Ace King. Then, I thought about spiky hair’s cards. He was strong, but not strong enough to call, and had been limping with medium pocket pairs. If I’d figured it right and he folded an ace, the coin flip sided in my favour. I called after deciding even if I was wrong, I would still be chip leader. In fact I was right, Spiky hair folded Ace Queen and hoodie turned over Ace King unsuited. The flop produced an Ace and my hand didn’t improve. Back down to 6,500.
I raised it up to 600 with pocket jacks in mid-position, the Southerner called in the big blind, he’d been playing tight. The flop came Q, 8, 7. He checked and I fired out a continuation bet of 800, which probably should have been larger as he may have perceived weakness. He check-raised to 1800. If this were online poker, there’d be a high probability that Jacks were good. Live, no chance. I quickly mucked.
An ante of 25 was introduced. I raised it up to 700 in mid-position with Ace 7 of diamonds only for the Southern guy to employ the same trick as last time, bumped up 1700. My head was about to explode in rage. I though about pushing over the top out of frustration, but decided to muck as I had no clue whether he was strong or weak.
The very next hand, a guy who reminded me off Dim from Clockwork Orange limped in early position. He’d done this countless times, earlier busting some guys pocket Kings with Q4 of hearts, after calling the raise pre-flop. I’d raised his UTG limps twice before, he called once and folded to a continuation bet and folded pre-flop the other time. I found Jacks and raised to 1000, insinuating tilt. Folded back around, he went all-in for another 3,500. I disgracefully tilting, didn’t even think about it, just announced call. He flipped over Aces and crushed my Jacks and my stack. The next hand, tilting for real, I went all-in with Ace deuce off. I only had about 900 chips and was sick of having dumped the a decent stack in a matter of a few hands. The small blind called with pocket nines and I was KO’d. That moment was the worse feeling I’d had in a long time, I wanted to vomit because of my stupid, illogical play. I relieved my frustration by using the hotel room door as a punching bag.
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