Las Vegas June 2019 Trip Report
We had a great time as usual in Las Vegas. The winner of my Poker Promo (#22) was Todd Quilici and he got to play in the $1500 WSOP Monster Stack bracelet event for free with me. Todd and my trip reports are below…
Todd Quilici’s trip report:
I had a great time in Vegas, and as always, thank you to Chris for putting on these events and for him and his family’s hospitality while in Vegas. It has been awhile since I attended the WSOP in Vegas and had forgotten just how massive these events are. It’s quite the spectacle to walk into just one of the many rooms filled with hundreds of tables and thousands of players. The sound of thousands of shuffling chips is something that stands out to me. If you are an avid poker player I highly recommend placing the WSOP on your bucket list. In addition to the Bracelet events there are multi Daily Deepstack tournaments with a great structure that run for ten-twelve hours, Satellites and cash games galore! It is definitely a poker fest extravaganza.
Now for my poker experience. I’ll spare you all the bad beat story(s) as it was more of a bad beat session. I’ve never gotten more monster hands (pre-flop) in the first two hours of a tournament, the problem was that I’ve never seen so many monster hands from opponents (post flop). In those first two hours I had pocket AA, KK, AKsx2, JJx2, all cracked, also flopped a boat and flopped straight (didn’t slow play either) which both lost, one to Quads one to runner-runner flush, respectively. I also flopped a straight flush with five players in the pot and did not get paid off while only winning the minimum, such is poker life. Sorry all, guess I’m not sparing everybody my bad beat stories. The only saving grace in those first two hours was that everyone started with a huge stack of fifty thousand which was five hundred BB, so early everyone was basically playing Small Ball which enabled me to not get felted. I was short stacked after that but was able to last another six or seven hours slowly building up my stack until my (again) JJ did not hold up to a Pros all-in with A9 post flop on a stone cold bluff when he hit runner-runner 99 to beat me. The flop was all rags which did not hit either of our ranges hard, I checked then he went all-in as he had been doing earlier when I checked with a range disadvantage on the flop. I had been waiting for this scenario for a while and had tightened up my pre-flop raising range on the button with the two Pros in the blinds as the Pros were playing a very Hyper LAG but thinking style. Oh well, there goes my “I busted “and as I would have told it, “outplayed” a Pro story, Ha Ha. I’m actually amazed at the ever changing poker strategy over the years. It’s such a complex game which can never be solved. In the beginning (early 2000) when many of us started playing, the winning strategy was tight aggressive, then around 2009 the winning style was LAG. It has even changed a lot in the last three years. Today it seems it has become even more complex with the style now being thinking LAG, Small Ball and Game Theory Optimal. If you have ever played with any of the online Equity Calculators such as Pio-Solver you will see why LAG has become so popular with even 7-2 having decent equity at times against a wide range. It’s really fun to try to employ some of these advanced strategies in these large four or five day tournaments, which you are able to do with such a huge stack. Just a few years ago it was unheard of to start with even twenty thousand in chips. In our typical Tournaments with friends or at our local Brick and Mortar Casino you are short stacked basically in three levels or four levels then only exploitive then shove and hope for the best strategy is used. Again, put the WSOP on your bucket list as you will be able to play such a different game. So interesting and fun!
I had mentioned to Chris that I would have to write up something other than: Poker is brutal, I’m still on tilt and I suck, but that about sums it up. Ha. I felt I played well for the most part and had a fantastic time. Did decent at the cash games and ran pretty deep in the every Wednesday Seniors Deepstack tourney for an ok cash. All in all a good time was had. Looking forward to continuing to play with everyone in our excellent poker community where most all of us are good people and always fun to play with. Many of us have been playing for years together with nary an issue. Thanks to all. By the way, Chris did really well with a few deep runs. Congrats Chris, and again THANK YOU for hosting these tournaments which makes the WSOP possible for any of us. Spoke to Chris somewhat in depth about some Real Estate considerations, he is extremely knowledgeable. I would not hesitate to use him for any of our Real Estate needs. See you all at the tables.
Chris’ Trip Report:
I arrived in Vegas on Friday June 21st in the morning. The main reason for going was to play in the $1500 Monster Stack WSOP event that had a starting flight on Saturday. I got there a day early because I wanted to play in an event or two on Friday to warm up. I started at Planet Hollywood playing in a 1-Day tournament (…I needed to make sure I avoided the double-Day2 issue I had last year…lol). I made it to Level 12 and got knocked out which was much earlier than I would have liked, so I headed over to the Rio and checked into my room. By the time I got down to the WSOP poker area (Rio Convention Center), the $200 4pm Daily Deepstack tournament had just started. So I decided to jump in. Over the past several years, I have managed to do very well in these non-bracelet Daily Deepstack events during the WSOP. Perhaps the structure favors my style of play. Or perhaps all the GOOD poker players are still playing in that day’s bracelet event?? Who knows…? There didn’t seem to be nearly as many players in this event as previous years, but that’s okay. In this event there were exactly 200 players. This event had us start with $15k in chips. I managed to double up in the first hour so I was off to a good start. I waited patiently for the next few hours and finally found myself in an ideal spot with AA and getting all-in with two other players pre-flop. I tripled up to ~$120k in chips and we were about 5 hours into the event. The average stack at that point was just $40k, so I was in great shape. At about 7 hours into the tournament we were down to 38 players (out of 200). It paid the top 30 spots. About a half hour later we were in the money! At 1:30am, 9.5 hours into the tournament we were down to the final 9…I had made the final table. :-) At this time I had an average stack and was focused on getting as deep as possible. About another hour later we were down to just 5 players. 3 of us had relatively small stacks (~12-20 big blinds) and 2 players had much larger stacks (~70-80 big blinds). 1st place paid $7500. 5th place paid $1670. We were pushing for a chop, but one of the big stacks didn’t want to (…I don’t blame him). He said “If we play for another hour, then I’m willing to chop”. So that’s what we did and surprisingly nobody else got knocked out. So, at 3:30am, 11.5 hours into the event, we decided to do a chop (basic chip-chop based on stack size, plus a little extra for the 3 short stacks). I ended up with better than 3rd place money at $3400. Not a bad first day in Vegas….time for some sleep!
Saturday June 21st…time for the $1500 WSOP Monster Stack event. This event starts with twice as many chips as the regular $1500 events. This year, the WSOP made a decision to significantly INCREASE the starting chip stacks in ALL of their events, so this Monster Stack event started with $50,000 in chips. With the blinds starting at $100/$100 it translates to 500 big blinds to start (…a very deep tournament). Each level lasts one hour in this event, so it was going to be a long tournament (5 Days for those lucky enough to make it). This event always attracts a big field of players and this year was no different. It had 6035 players going after a total prize pool of over $8,100,000. In order to get into the money, you needed to get to 905 out of 6035. First place would win over $1,000,000. Aside from my promo winner Todd, there were also several other friends who participate in my poker promos who were also playing in this event so it was even more fun. With blinds starting off at $100/$100 and everyone starting with $50,000 in chips, I would expect people to be pretty tame in the beginning of the tournament. Well…..On the VERY FIRST hand of the tournament I look down at A5 of spades. The flop was 3,4,6 with 2 spades giving me the nut flush draw and an open ended straight. I didn’t know it yet, but the other player had flopped a set of sixes! There was some betting on the flop and turn and I was mostly just calling to see if I would hit any of my 15 outs. On the river I spike the nut flush. The guy with the set makes a bet, I make a good size raise, and he calls. On the first hand I’m already up $4500! Great start…
End of Level 1: $64,000 in chips.
End of Level 2: $57,000 in chips.
End of Level 3: $58,000 in chips.
End of Level 4: $62,000 in chips. Slowly grinding…4 hours into the tournament
During Level 5, I flopped a monster and bet hard the whole way trying to get a guy off his draw. It didn’t work and I dropped $25k in chips.
End of Level 5: $36,000 in chips. Blinds on level 6 were $300/$500 so I still had 72 big blinds and was nowhere near short.
End of Level 6: $37,000 in chips. Dinner break (75 minutes)
Started Level 7 by winning a decent pot with JJ. Back up to $48,000 in chips. Got pocket Aces, but only managed to pick up the blinds. I was moved to a new table that seemed kind of tough. Soon after I look down at KQ suited, raise and get two callers. Flopped 3,6,Q. Turn another Q. River is an Ace. Another player had a queen with a weaker kicker and I double up to $90,000. A few hands later I was put in a difficult spot… I had pocket Kings and was in the small blind. Under-the-gun player raises to $2k. It folds around to me and I re-raise to $6k. He calls. The flop came 6,8,9 rainbow (all suites different, so no need to worry about a flush). I bet $12,000. He goes all-in for $50,000. Yikes! Okay…time to think. I tank for about 2 minutes analyzing the possibilities. I think if he had pocket aces pre-flop, he would have re-raised me before the flop. If he flopped a set, I felt like he would try to milk me rather than go all-in (…unless he was worried about me hitting a straight, but since I raised preflop perhaps he put me on high cards like AK). My guess was that he had a pair of Queens, Jacks, or Tens. I made the call. He had pocket tens and I ended up winning the pot! I was now up to $136,000 in chips. Shortly after I picked up pocket Kings and was up to $146,000 in chips.
End of Level 8: $150,000 in chips (…triple the starting stack and in a good spot)
End of Level 9: $176,000 in chips.
End of Level 10: $175,000 in chips.
End of Level 11: $169,000 in chips. I made it to the end of Day 1!
The tournament started with 6,035 and at the end of Day 1 we were down to 2,902.
Sunday, June 22nd: Day2 of the Monster Stack event. The average chip stack starting Day2 was just over $100,000. My friend TrevorH (ID: newnumbertwo) was kind enough to let me know that I ONLY needed to outlast another 1,996 players to get into the money (…thanks Trevor!). Just 200 full poker tables worth of players…lol. Early on Day2 during Level 12 I found myself in a weird spot. I had pocket Aces under-the-gun (first to act). I made a ~3x raise to $5500. One player folds and when he does he accidentally exposes an ace. So now I know that there is only one more ace in the deck. The next player raises to $13,500 and it folds all the way around to me. I pause and think… I know that right now I am ahead with pocket Aces, BUT I also know that one of the other aces is dead (folded). What to do, what to do… I decide to see if I can steal it right now and I re-raised to $37,000. The other player folded. Phew! [Strange side note…while all this was going on, there was a lady at my table flossing her teeth…yuck!]
End of Level 12: $178,000 in chips. 2590 players remaining.
End of Level 13: $185,000 in chips. Average stack was $170,000. 1780 players remaining.
Pick up KK and win a nice pot…up to $212,000. But then my AK suited loses $50k to 10,9 off-suit. Took a few more lumps during this level.
End of Level 14: $110,000 in chips.
During level 15 I looked down at pocket Kings. I raise in early position. A very tight player re-raises. I suspected he might have a strong Ace so I decided to just call and see what flops (…hoping there would be no Ace). The flop came A,10,3 rainbow. I make a ~half pot sized bet to find out where I stand and he goes all-in. I think for a while and then I fold. He flashes an Ace…..good laydown but it cost me $40k in chips. I was down to $63,000 in chips which was around 20 big blinds. A little on the short side. I wait patiently and I am finally rewarded with the dreaded JJ. I went all-in and was called by AQ. The guy hit an ace and I was down to just $9,500 in chips (2 big blinds). A few hands later I get it all-in with 8,9 suited and I quadrupled up to $37,000! Would this be a heroic comeback??
End of Level 15: $37,000 in chips. 1520 players remaining.
In Level 16 (16 hours into the tournament) and just $38,500 in chips left and the blinds at $2500/$5000, I was just looking for a good spot to shove all-in. I was on the button and it folded around to me. I looked down at K7 suited and shoved all-in. The small blind folded. The big blind called me with Ace-10 and he knocked me out. There were 1400 players left so I was just ~500 players from the money. Close, but no cigar!
Monday June 23rd: I played in a morning tournament and got knocked out right at 4pm. It just so happens that another of the Rio Daily Deepstack tournaments was starting at 4pm ($400 turbo event). There were 195 players in this event. 10 hours later at around 2:30am I found myself at another final table! I had a slightly less than average stack, and everyone was pretty short stacked (10-20 big blinds). When we were down to just 7 players I made a good move/decision with Ace-Queen pre-flop against pocket nines. I didn’t win the coin flip and got knocked out. Cashed just under $2k. First place in that even would have been over $16k so I was a little disappointed, but can’t complain too much!
Tuesday June 24th: I was scheduled to leave Las Vegas on a flight at around noon. I received a text from Southwest Airlines letting me know that my plane was delayed for 3 hours. I had already booked another flight months ago for Wed (…just in case I made it deep in the Monster Stack). I took this delayed flight as a sign from the poker gods that I should stay one more day! HeHe… So, I jumped into the WSOP $600 Deepstack Championship bracelet event. It started with 6140 players, $30,000 in chips, and 40 minute levels. The prize pool was over $3,000,000 with first place winning almost $400,000. I sat down a few minutes late (because there were SO MANY players that they had to move a bunch of us around). I hadn’t even gotten settled in and the dealer gave me my first hand. Ace-4 of spades. There was a small raise and I called along with a couple other players. The flop comes all spades….I’ve flopped the NUT flush! Original raiser bets, I call (hoping I’ll get some action from the players behind me) and all the other players fold. The turn is a blank. The original better bets something like $500. I raise to $2000. He re-raises me to $6000. I shove all-in…on the very first hand! He thinks and thinks. He finally calls and turns over the 2nd highest flush and I knock him out. Doubled up on the first hand of the tournament...What a way to start!
About 3 hours into the tournament I had an interesting (critical?) hand. I was still at about $60,000 in chips. Everyone else at the table had about $30,000 (the starting stack +/- $5000), except for one professional who had about $55,000. I look down at QQ in early position. Many of you know…..QQ has NOT been good to me over the years! I raise. It folds around to the professional (who has almost as many chips as me) and he re-raises. It folds around to me and I re-re-raise to about $5000. He thinks for a bit and he goes All-in! I think about it for maybe a minute or two and then I fold and show my QQ. He shows KK. Good laydown. It didn’t seem like a good time to gamble as I already had about 2x the average stack and didn’t want to lose all my chips.
About 2 hours later an interesting hand developed. I had 9,10 suited and was in early position. I raised 2.5x. The guy on the button re-raised to ~8x (a pretty big raise). If it folded around to me I probably would have folded, but the small blind thinks about it for a long time and makes the call. They both had about $60k in chips and I put them both on big hands. I knew I was way behind but I also knew that if I hit the flop I could make a killing and if I missed the flop I could easily get away from it. So I made the call. The flop came 3,9,9! The small blind made a pot sized bet. I’ve got three 9s and I’m feeling great…I call. The button goes All-in for ~$60,000! Now it gets back to the small blind and he tanks for a good 5 minutes. He keeps looking at the other player and then back at me and then back at the other player. At one point he looks at me and says, “You’ve got 9,10!” (which is EXACTLY what I had!!). Finally, he makes the All-in call with his QQ. I make the call. The button player turns over AA. The turn and river are blanks and I’m now sitting at over $200,000 in chips (…the average stack at this point 5 hours in was probably about $35,000 in chips). Great start continues!
At the end of Level 9 (about 6 hours in) people were still buying into the tournament. [Side note: I saw Chris "Jesus" Ferguson re-buying in the ~9th hour...the starting stack was only about 12 big blinds...gamble!] The average chip count was ~$45,000 and my stack had grown to $240,000. So far, so good. Over the next couple hours I got beat up a bit. At the end of Level 12 my stack was at $140k (and the average stack was about $90k). My gradual slide continued over the next three levels and at the end of Level 15 I had $120k in chips. They were planning on playing two more levels today to get into the money (down to 919 players). During those next two hours I had a great run and built my stack up to $437,000 in chips and made it to the end of Day1 in the money! :-) With 919 players remaining I was in 58th place.
Wednesday June 26th: Day 2 of the event restarted. Since so many people last night were just trying to hang on with a short stack to make it to the money, and the fact that the next pay jump was quite a ways away, there was a TON of all-ins on the first 3 hands of the day. So many in fact that the tournament director stopped the clock/tournament for 15 minutes so they could round up all those who got knocked out (so they would know approximately their order of busting). In the first 20 minutes of Day 2 we lost 119 players and were down to 800. I knocked someone out during the 2nd level of the day with AK…my stack was up to $500k (average stack was $250k) and we were down to 700 players.
About 3 hours into Day2 I took several lumps and found myself down to $185k in chips (average stack was $296k). I manage to build it back up to $275k when we were down to 515 players. Managed to double up about 30 minutes later with A9 suited, bringing my total up to $375k. Greg Raymer (previous Main Event winner) was at the table next to me and he busted out at this point. I managed to build my stack up further to $450k. It was at that point where my friend Trevor reminded me, “You’ll need $20,000,000 to be an average stack at the final table”…thanks again Trevor! Lol…
About 6 hours into Day2 (…about 18 hours into the tournament) we were down to 398 players. I had an average stack of ~$450k (~38 big blinds). I’m in the small blind with 6,7 of diamonds. There is a min raise to about $26,000. One player calls and it gets to me. I call. Big blind calls. So there is about $110,000 in the pot. The flop comes Qd, 6h, 3d. I’ve got a pair and a flush draw. I check. Big blind checks. The original bettor makes it $65k. Next player call and it gets to me. There is now ~$240k in the pot. I’ve got about $430k in chips and the original bettor (who was the one I was most concerned with) had about $350k in chips left. I think about it for a bit and then decide to shove all-in (raised $365k). I felt at the time like it was a pretty good move. My thinking is that the only hands out there that should call me are AA, KK, AQ (maybe), or a set. Small chance that the big blind could have hit two pair with a big blind special. So my calculation is that there is probably at least a 50% chance that nobody calls me and I win a nice sized pot. And even if I do get called, I likely have 14 outs (any diamond, any 6 or 7 *probably* makes my hand a winner). Well, the big blind ended up folding. The original bettor calls me with KK and the other player folds. The board runs out without hitting any of my outs and I got knocked out of the tournament in 398th place (cashed for $1546). Not bad for a tournament I wasn’t even supposed to play in! lol… I flew out late that night. Overall, an excellent trip and great time!
It’s time to look forward to our next Poker Promo! Promo#23 is kicking off now! The first of the online events will be July 30th. You must REGISTER HERE if you would like to join us (even if you have played before). The winner of this promo will be joining us in Lake Tahoe for the WSOP circuit events around the weekend of Oct 25th-27th to play in a couple of the ~$400 WSOP ring events (…the exact tournament list has not been officially released yet). Always a great time in Tahoe! Hope you can join us for this new promotion.