Always a great time when we get to go to Las Vegas and take a shot at a gold bracelet in one of the World Series of Poker events. Unfortunately, the winner of our Simone Team Poker Promo#16 was unable to join us, but I decided to go anyway and give it a shot in the hopes of coming back with a good story…
I arrived on Friday June 24th just in time to get in a practice tourney…the 2pm $235 nightly deepstack tournament that the Rio puts on in the WSOP area (a fun tournament). In the past, I have done rather well in this tournament (…the format must suit my style of play I guess…). For this event, there were 1042 entries and they paid the top 157 finishers. 1st place was $33,600. The starting stack is $15,000 in chips. The rounds last 30 minutes and the blinds do go up fairly quickly. It is a re-buy tournament up to the 4th level and it always gets a little crazy around that time. I sat down having just arrived in Vegas and I was in the big blind. I look down at 9,7 off-suit. There were two limpers that called and when it gets to me I check. The flop comes 8,6,5 rainbow…I flopped the nuts! I haven’t even settled in yet and I flop the nuts. How’s that for a “Welcome to Las Vegas!”? I check. Another guy checks. 3rd guy throws out a large bet. I call. Other guy folds and we are head’s up. The turn is a King and now there are 2 hearts on the board. I check. Other player makes a big bet. I decide I want to take it right here and I make a large bet. He calls. River is the 3rd heart. I make a medium sized bet and he just calls. He turns over a tiny flush for the win…Ouch! I lost $5k on the very first hand of the tournament! “Welcome to Las Vegas!” LOL… I managed to slowly dwindle my stack going into the forth level. I had about $5k left in chips. Blinds were something like $200/$400. My strategy was to look for a decent place to push all-in before the end of the level and I could either double up or get knocked out (…and then maybe re-buy and start fresh with $15k in chips). Try as I could, I couldn’t find any good place to shove all-in and I ended the level with $3600 in chips. The re-buy period ended and now the blinds were $300/$600. On the 2nd hand of the next level I look down at pocket 8s. I shove in my remaining $3600 in chips and get called by 3 other players (ugh!). I guess it was a good thing after-all because I hit an 8 on the flop and I managed to quadruple up and I was back to ~$15k starting stack…Yes! A few hands later I knocked someone out and was up to $23k. From there, my stack grew. When we hit Level 10 I was up to $108k with 261 players remaining. Managed to lose a hand with QQ (…my nemesis hand…) and dropped back down to $80k with just 175 players remaining. People started dropping quickly as the blinds were getting pretty high. I managed to hold on into the money and ended up getting knocked out in 111th place somewhere around level 16 (8hrs of playing) for a payout of $372. A nice way to start the weekend (…better than a stick in the eye!). A good warm-up for the $1500 Monster Stack WSOP bracelet event I would be playing in on Saturday. I played a little in a cash game and called it a night.
Saturday June 25th I signed into the $1500 WSOP Monster Stack bracelet event. This has the same format as most of the regular WSOP bracelet events except you start with a double stack ($15k instead of $7500). Levels last 1 hour. There were 6972 players in this event (….that’s over 700 poker tables full of players!).
In case you are wondering what that looks like, here’s a photo of about 100 tables…
Just have to win ~7 rooms full of poker players to take it down! Lol…. They were paying the top 1040 players so that’s the first goal… My tournament started out slow. I usually like to try to play a lot of hands in the beginning of tournaments when it is cheap, but I decided to be a little more patient in this tournament (…and I was getting terrible cards which helped me to fold, fold, fold). At the end of 4 levels of play I was holding onto $11k in chips and had never really gone above $16k or below $8k. Just holding steady… For the next 2 hours I remained patient but managed to drift down to about $9k in chips (6 hours into the tournament). Not great…I needed to find a way to grow my stack. The blinds were now $200/$400 with a $50 ante. Not yet desperation time but hoping to find a hand to make a move with. At this point I had a very tight image at the table because I really hadn’t shown a hand (or played much) for the last 3-4 hours. In Level 8 I decided to make a move as I was short stacked. The hand worked out great…. AA vs 10,8 suited. Got it all-in before the flop with some fancy footwork. Flop came K,J,2 rainbow. Turn was an 8. River was an 8! What a suck-out! Oh….I forgot to mention that it was ME that got it all-in with the 10,8 suited on this hand! I was now up to $17k in chips (the most I’d had all day). A little bit of breathing room but still needed to build. As sometimes happens in poker, about 6 hands later I had managed to win a few nice pots and just like that my stack was up to $45k. My patience had paid off I guess. Over the next two hours my stack drifted back down to about $31k. Then I looked down at AK of spades. I bump it up with a 3x raise and get one caller. The flop comes 10,7,3 with 2 spades. I put out a continuation bet and get a call. The turn gives me the nut flush. I check (trying to signal that maybe I’m afraid of the flush) and the other player bets. I just call. The turn comes another spade. I think that perhaps this will kill the action, but I managed to value bet it and get called by the other player who was holding the Queen of spades. My stack was back up to $46k. By the end of Day 1, after 10 hours of poker, I managed to hold onto a stack of $27k. The average stack at the end of Day 1 was $45k and we had about 2000 players remaining (almost 5000 already eliminated).
Starting Day2 I won the first hand (a small one) and was up to $32k. Perhaps this was a good omen?? One never really knows, right?? A few hands later I limp called a min raiser from the big blind when I was holding Q2 off-suit (I figured I was getting decent odds since I only needed to put in one more min bet). I flopped 2 pair, check-raised, and won the pot. On the very next hand I shoved pre-flop all-in with AK suited behind 2 raisers and they both folded. Just like that I was up to $41k…almost an average stack. In Level 12 I look down at my nemesis hand..QQ. A small stack player with only about $10k calls the $1200 blind. Big stack to my right makes it $3k. I shove all-in assuming the small stack is going to call me and the big stack will likely fold (they were a bit of a bully). They did. Small stack turns over KK, but I hit the Queen on the turn and knocked them out! Up to $55k in chips. Finally the Queens were good to me (…dumb luck I guess). Got moved to a new table. I sit down and I’m the big blind. Under the gun player makes a min raise (just 2x the big blind) and there are 3 callers ahead of me. Since I’m getting close to 10-1 on my money I call with any two cards in this spot…which happened to be J6 off-suit. Flop comes JJ6. I manage to win a nice pot and I find myself up to $67k in chips and there are “only” 1600 players left in the tournament. I tightened up for the next two hours. By the end of Level 13 there were only 1200 players left and I had $53k in chips. Just needed to outlast another 160 players, which at this point didn’t seem like too many. In Level 14 under the gun I throw out a small raise to $5500 with J10 suited. I get raised to $12k total and I decide to make the call. Flop comes JJ7 with 2 to a flush. I check. He makes it $10k. I Hollywood for a bit and shove all-in (hoping that he thinks I’m chasing a flush). He thinks for a long while and makes the call with 10,10. He’s drawing dead and I knock him out. 1110 players remaining and I’ve now got $120k in chips. I’m determined to hang on and get into the money. At this point I have a better than average chip stack and as long as I don’t do anything crazy I should be able to make it… When we were very close to the money in Level 15 I got bluffed off a huge pot. Live to fight another day was my motto, but I was back down to $75k in chips. At the end of Level 16 (16 hours of playing in this tournament) I had $83k in chips and we were just 3 players away from the money. Surely nothing bad could happen now….right? We got back from the break and started Level 17. Since there were still 1143 players left that means there is about 130 tables worth of players playing, so we all knew that the bubble would burst rather quickly (just needed to lose 3 more players). Probably would only take a hand or two actually. Well…..on the very first hand back from the break I look down and what do I see??? QQ. I would have preferred 7,2 at this point! I’m under the gun (first to act) and I make a ~2.5x raise and get two callers. I wish they would have folded! One of the callers was VERY conservative and had about $150k in chips. The flop comes all small cards. I throw out a healthy bet. One player folds. The conservative player shoves ALL-IN! My worst nightmare…right on the bubble with my nemesis hand! He easily had my chip stack covered. I thought about it for a long while. I folded and he showed me KK. Live to fight another day! I was thrilled to “only” lose $30k on the hand which probably should have busted me. I was down to about $53k in chips. The bubble burst and I made it to the money! During the rest of Level 17 I managed to build my stack up to $105k and we dropped 300 more players…down to 740 remaining. By the end of Level 18 there were 640 players remaining and my stack was at $77k. In Level 19 I called a small raise with Q10 suited. I flopped J,9,8 with 2 of my suit. Managed to double up and my stack was now sitting at a healthy $170k which was an average sized stack. Later in Level 19 I looked down again at Q,10 suited (diamonds this time). I raise 2.5x the big blind and got one caller. The flop came K,J,7 with one diamond. Not a horrible flop for me. I make a continuation bet of $21k. The other player min-raises me. Hmmm….that seemed a little fishing and my “warning” sirens went off. I decided to call as I was getting good odds. The turn is an Ace of diamonds. This was probably a perfect card for me as it gave me the nut straight at the moment plus a nice flush draw. The other player bets $30k into me. I Hollywood for a bit and then shove all-in. He thinks for a while and calls me with pocket 7s (he had flopped a set). I needed to dodge 10 outs and I do! Now sitting at $305k in chips. 490 players left and the average sized stack was $205k. Blinds were now $3k/6k. I look down in middle position and see AA. I make it $17k. Another player goes all-in for $65k and I obviously call. He turns over 10,10 and my aces hold up. I’m now up to $410k. We were now getting close to the end of Day2. I look down at JJ. I raised pre-flop and a conservative player re-raised me. I call. Flop comes 9,8,7. Probably a great flop for me (most of the time, right?). I was worried about this player though. I managed to keep the betting in control without going all-in. On the river he turns over AA. I dodged a bullet but took a huge hit. My stack was $170k but I made it to the end of Day 2. There were only 277 players remaining….a measly 30 tables left! We were now 20 hours into this tournament.
Day 3: Had a very good start in Level 21. I won a little pot with AK. Stole the blinds with KJ suited. And then I called a min-raise from the big blind and turned a straight. My stack was up to a respectable $325k with 239 players remaining. Decided to tighten up and mostly folded for about 2 hours. During Level 23 I called a min raise on the big blind and flopped a good flush draw. I bet the flop and was called. The turn didn’t give me a flush, but I bet it again and was called. On the river I missed and didn’t get the flush. I was holding Queen high and was first to act. I knew if I checked I was giving up the hand. The only way I could win was to bet…but how much? I pushed in half my remaining stack which was a bet of about $85k (there was about $300k in the pot). The other guy thought for a while and then folded. Phwew…. Up to $475k with 188 players remaining. In Level 24 I was in late position with JQ suited. I raised and got two callers unfortunately (was hoping to just steal the blinds!). The flop gave me a gutshot straight draw and it was checked to me and I took the free card. The turn gave me the straight! I won the hand and was up to $560k (an average sized stack). Over the next hour my stack drifted down to $350k (blinds were $12k/$24k). There was a crazy player at the table and he limped. He was playing all sorts of hands so he really could have had anything. Guy to my right makes it $90k. I look down at AK suited. I go all-in and get called by the crazy player who happened to be holding QQ. Oh no! But I managed to flop a King and it held up! I was up to $750k in chips with 140 players left. 700 tables worth of poker players had been dwindled down to just 15! A few hands later I’m first to act and I look down and see KK. The blinds are $12/$24k. I make it $69k. The same crazy player pushes all-in (he had slightly more chips than me). I was thrilled to see this because by the moves he was making he really could have had just about anything. It folds to me and I instantly call. He turns over AK unsuited. His hand was better than I was expecting, but I was still ahead. The flop came all small cards. The turn came the dreaded Ace. And the river was no help! I was knocked out in Level 24 in 130th place out of 6927 players. Payout was $7352 (happy to take it!). Guess I’ll have to wait until next year to win a bracelet!