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Vegas: June 2012

It was another fun time in Las Vegas!  Along with me was Promo#10 winner Jim Craig, Andrew Boyd, and Marcio Andrade.   There was some tournament cash won once again in Vegas….you’ll have to look down towards the end of the page to find out who won and how much!


Marcio had a work conflict, so instead of playing in the Sunday event he played in the $1500 Saturday event (WSOP Event#43).  He did pretty well and made it through the dinner break (6 hours of play).  He managed to hang on for a couple more rounds after the dinner break but ultimately ran out of steam.  He will have to wait until next year to win a bracelet!


In the $1000 WSOP Event#44 tournament, here is how Andrew, Chris, and Jim did:

Andrew Boyd was the first victim to be eliminated, but you can’t blame him for a thing!  He went out early in the tourney holding the dreaded AA in his hand.  If you are going to get knocked out, that’s not the worst hand to do it on…

Chris was eliminated about 4 hours into the event.  Nothing too spectacular…just couldn’t build chips when he needed to.  When getting a little short, he flopped 2 pair and decided it was time to push.  Got called by a guy on an open ended straight draw that ended up getting there on the river.  That’s poker!


From Jim Craig: (...thanks for the world class write-up Jim!)

Viva Las Vegas 2012, or How I Won the Simone Tournament

and Went to the World Series of Poker


My first ever visit to the World Series of Poker. Kind of overwhelming. I have a few things going for me. My game has been improving, and I have been to large tournaments before. Having played tournament bridge for over 20 years, I have been in national tournaments from Miami to Minneapolis to Honolulu. But never poker. And I had great partners in bridge. But not in poker. And national bridge tournaments are for “Master Points” that don’t buy anything. Here I am in something that could involve a cash payout!

With Chris providing the financial and moral support, I had a lot of confidence that I would not be over awed by the experience, and I would hope to make a decent showing. I know that no one has repeated as a Simone Team winner, and until real estate values come back a little, I’m probably not selling a house in the near future. Maybe a referral. But, for all I know, this might be my one shot.

Chris is an awesome host. If you have played in his events, you know how great he is just hosting the qualifying tournaments. He sees that everyone has a great time, and feels comfortable. In Las Vegas it is no different. I was already on vacation, so I just altered my plans a little to get to Las Vegas a day or two early. I checked out the playing site before Chris got to town, and knew where things like registration, posted results, alternative schedules, and things like that were located. I even got into a game near where I was staying to get a little experience. I played a couple times since winning Chris’ tournament in May, but that’s all the experience I really have where you lay down money and are trying to win it back, with interest.

Once Chris gets to town, he gets in touch and sets up to meet for the registration. Being new, even getting there early, I did not know that you need to register for a rewards card even before you can enter the event. But we did all that the night before, so that Sunday morning could be for getting ones physical and mental preparation in focus. Chris, his dad, Andrew and me. Four of us, almost like a team, there to see what we could do in the $1,000 No Limit Hold-Em event on Sunday, June 24 (3 days). Event 44. My seat was number 3 at table “Gold 7.” I felt like a high seed. (Yeah, right.)

Chris checked to be sure I found my seat okay. He made plans with us all to meet in the hall during each break. At noon, there was some explanation of some rules, and an admonition to be sure to read the WSOP rules and be familiar with them. Well, too late for that now. I can still hope to not do anything too stupid, at least in the way of rules. I was not so sure about the playing.

I knew the blinds start very slow. 3,000 chips to start, blinds at 25/25, and go up hourly. 20 minute breaks every 2 hours, so, every two blind levels. Plan is to play 11 levels the first day (get done about 1:45 AM, yawn!).  As we started, there were 8 players at our table, but a couple were soon added. Entries were accepted through the second break. So, 4 hours and 40 minutes after starting, we still had players joining. It looked like we would have many fewer than the previous year. They posted the number of entries, and the number kept going up and up. We wound up with about 2,890 players.

I took it easy, tried to watch opponents, and played only when I had something. Pretty tight. Twenty minutes in, we had a couple of players eliminated. One had AA, but his opponent had 88 and hit a set on the flop. The player eliminated, to my left, was replaced by a player with an accent who might have attended a Phil Helmuth seminar. When he was in a hand, his hands came up to cover his mouth, and he stared at you, trying to get a read. I was so nervous and fidgity, I don’t know what he could read from me, but I was probably not too hard. When I had good cards, or mediocre cards that I decided to play, I did not get much action. But there was not much action on most hands. There seemed to be a lot of respect, and most of the hands that showed down were high pairs.  At the first break, I was able to report I had about 4,800 in chips. Not setting the world on fire, but more than I started with. I was about in the middle at my table. They kept our table with a full contingent of 10, so I was 4th or 5th much of the time. The real coup, was finding the secret restrooms outside. I just wandered in the right direction, and saw the “more restrooms beyond this door” sign, and never had to wait during a break.

One funny story, not really a poker story, but we had a dealer for one 30 minute stretch, who was a cute young blond lady (Yana) with an accent. There was speculation about where she was from. Then my neighbor to the left said, “I know where you are from, and I share your heritage.” She asked if he had been in this conversation earlier and he said yes, and that he was originally from the Ukraine. She said no, she was not. He said he was sure she was, because they had discussed it the day before. She said “well, there is another Yana dealer, she is blond, and she is from the Ukraine, but she is like 10 years older.” The table cracked up laughing, but he was quick to recover with “surely not 10 years, you both are so young and attractive.” Well, a good try, but bad poker face. (It turned out she was originally from Belarus.)

Back at the table, at the end of break 1, there was a delay as 3 bracelets were awarded for events that had finished in the last 24hours. I did not realize they played the national anthem of the country for a bracelet winner. We got to hear the German and the US national anthems. It was like being in the Olympics. A cool touch I was previously unaware of. We sat down, and I started to get some cards. I had AA a couple of times, and KK a couple of times. Usually I made a standard raise, and no one called. I guess I was playing too tight, and was too easy for these experienced (I assumed) players to read. Well, Doyle Brunson says with AA you usually win a small pot or lose a big one. As long as I was not losing a big pot, I was satisfied. My stack was slowly building. By the end of the 4th level (75-150) I was up to about 7,900 chips. I was okay with that. When I saw Chris during the break, he said I was the only one left from our “team.” Everyone else had gone out, and he was in a different “side” event. Wow, that felt good, to know my stack had grown, and I was still in beyond everyone else. Maybe I CAN win some money. Wait! Too early to be thinking like that. Still a lot to play.

After this break entries closed. Now we saw that the entries had climbed to about 2890. Not only that, but there were only about 1800 left. Wow, entries just close, and the 1/3 of the field is gone? Pretty exciting. Blinds were 100-200 for the next two levels, with antes starting (25) for level 6. The guy to my right, who seemed to know what he was doing, got knocked out by the guy to my left. This guy on my left was pretty courageous. He was calling sometimes with less than the nuts, but seemed to read his opponents pretty well. (Maybe that Phil Helmuth class was worthwhile.)  The player 2 to my left was playing tighter than I was, and got short stacked. I was on the big blind, and he opened “all in” for about 850. Two past him he was called. When it got to me, I looked down to find the “weapons of mass destruction,” AA. I raised to 2200 to try to get rid of the caller, and he went away. The opener said to me “do you have a pair?” I said, “yeah, a pretty good pair.” He had 22. No 2 on the board, and I picked up about 1700 chips. Another hand, at the other end of the table, I was not in on, but one player with AQ was against JJ, who was all in. Each had a diamond (A vs J) with 4 diamonds on the board. I was thinking the A was lucky to win with the “nut flush” when the dealer announced that the Q-10-9-8 of Diamonds on the board gave the J a straight flush! Whoa! I didn’t see that shape up. The A-Q holder lost the hand, but was still in the game, and hung around.

As we got to the dinner break, I had about 12,500 in chips. Still growing, but not much ahead of the average, as we were now down to about 900 left in the field. The guy on my left had almost 20,000, but had lost about 2,500 on the last hand, and was kicking himself for letting that happen. He had liked my play forcing out the caller on the AA vs 22 hand, so we got talking. He is a mechanical engineer in Cleveland, who had been in about 16 WSOP events to date (in his life), including a 24th finish in a $2,500 event last year that got him about $17,000.  I’m a civil engineer, so we bonded just a bit. Somewhere early on he had AQ on a flop of QQ9. He and an opponent across the table battled back and forth, and by the River, all the money (well, all HER money) was in the middle. Her 99 was a major “cooler,” and he talked about a similar hand a couple days earlier, where he had JJ and lost to someone with 99 in a similar situation. A level later, when he got someone all in, and he had 99, flopped a 9, and turned the case 9, I said something like “The 9s giveth and the 9s taketh away.” But he insisted that the 9s tooketh a lot more than they gaveth.

After dinner I was not getting such good cards, and most of my moves were countered and I had to back off. Every time there was a showdown I saw I did the right thing getting out. I did not see them all, but I was not getting the cards to really push. At least, not enough for me to. Someone else, who knows? I had one hand where I was playing J-9 suited, and the flop came K-9-4. I was the small blind, and had played for the minimum. Two to my left, the big stack, bet on the flop (I had checked) and I called. My pair of 9s might be okay, because it was a small bet. The flop was an A, and I shoved. I was down to about 8,000, and he was upset when I did it. I stared at the table as he looked at me and said “did the A help you?” He didn’t like me not replying, and folded. YAY! But by the time we got to the end of level 8,  I was down to about 6,000, and the blinds were about to go to 400-800 with 100 ante, so I  needed some breaks.

They announced we would play one level, then break, then play levels 10 and 11 to end the day. One of the dealers mentioned that getting through the day would surely be in the money. We were down to under 600 players, and they were paying about 290. Hang on for dear life! A few hands in, I am in the big blind. I already put 900 chips out. Fold around to the button. He has been in and out, sometimes showing down, and generally good hands, but sometimes not winning by much. He raised to 1600. I looked down at AK, and raised to 3400. Maybe I should have shoved. Anyhow, he stares at the table, then at me, so I am pretty sure he does not have AA or KK. I was staring at the table, then decided I needed to win a race, and if he does not have AA or KK, then I was willing to gamble. So, I “blinked.” I turned and reached for a bottle of water, and he shoved. I immediately called, and he turned over JJ. The board came up dry, and I was very short stacked. Hmmmmm. Well, you know, “a chip and a chair.”  A couple hands later, this same player, and the mechanical engineer on my left push back and forth, and my neighbor goes all in and is called. He turns up QQ but is up against KK. Suddenly I am the SECOND shortest stack at the table. Two hands later, I am on the button with 44. Folded to me and I go all in. My buddy goes all in, and the big blind/big stack called. My neighbor has A8 and the BB has QQ. Damn. So close. Again the board gives nothing, and I am out, and finish just ahead of the guy with 16 WSOP events to his credit. I look up and see 499 players left, so I guess I finished about 497. 

I was out at about 11:08 PM. I finished higher than 2300+ players, but no money. It was a great time, a super experience, and Chris was a terrific host throughout. He checked on me at every break, even as he busted out, then got into an event and 2:00 (and busted out) and another event at 6:00 (still going as I was done at 11:08).  I was exhausted. It took me the next day to recover. I plan to be very tough from now on, because I want to do this again. It really was SO GREAT. 


From Chris: (bonus Vegas WSOP tournaments….)

Since I wasn’t playing on Monday or Tuesday in Event#44 (because I was already eliminated) I decided to play in the Rio’s daily 2pm $235 deepstack tourney (played in the WSOP area since there are 100s and 100s of tables available).  This was a much larger tournament than I realized (I never played it in previous years).  It had 1471 entries and paid 171 places.  After hours and hours of play, I fought my way into the money!  When it was down to 50-60 players left just about everyone was short stacked (the blinds go up pretty quickly).  When we were down to 30 players left, I was probably 4th or 5th in total chips, but still only at ~10-15 big blinds.  An early position player shoved their nearly equal stack and I looked down to see 10,10.  At this point, people were shoving often times with marginal hands (and this player was really aggressive), so I called.  He had 8,8 which was great news for me…but he flopped a set and I was eliminated.  After battling until the early hours of the morning I ended up finishing in 30th place (paid $1316).  Had I won that 4:1 race I would have been close to chip leader with 30 left to play.  Overall, a very fun experience!

The next day I decided to try it again.  In this event there were 1257 players.  I once again made a deep run.  Lost on a coin flip (AQs vs 88) and I was out in 58th place (paid $737).  I was very happy to place in those two tourneys!  :-)    But it looks like I’ll have to wait at least one more year to win my first gold bracelet.

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