Sunday, June 15, 2008

Poker Elmo's 2008 WSOP event 2 trip report – Part 1

Note – the beginning and end of chip counts are accurate. The rest are probably close, but also probably not exact.

Prior to day 1 starting. I felt really good. I was talking to ChrisJP before the event started about this – but I felt quite different. This year, walking into the WSOP, I felt like a poker professional. I have now earned pretty significant sums of money for a few straight years playing poker – and feel like I have a great feel for the game. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself either, since this is only one tourney and absolutely anything can happen in a tourney. I had 3 other WSOP tourneys, with poor results (main event 2005 – busted with KK to AA near end of day 1 when I had a well-above-average stack, prelim event 2006 – busted in first two hours with a bad non-push early and a bad push late, and busted in level 4 of another 2006 prelim with average stack when my AK ran into AA). I have replayed those events and bustouts in my mind many times. However, I was determined not to let the ghosts of my WSOP past affect me today.

I stayed at ChrisJP’s place the night before the event – wow, what a great advantage. It was so nice to wake up and just go outside on a beautiful 70 degree morning and relax and chat with Chris. As I was driving to the Rio, I felt so much better than I normally do waking up in the morning when in a hotel – I felt like I had a “home-court advantage”.

Levels 1 and 2 (25/50 and 50/100 blinds). I start these levels with 3000. Average is 3000.

I got TT within the first couple of hands, on the button, and elected to call a 3x raise (to 150). The flop came 972, and I called a 250 bet from a lady who I don’t think would double barrel without an overpair or better, so when she also bets the turn, I fold.

About an orbit later, I get AT diamonds and raise to 150 from the hijack. I am called by the sb, who checks a KK8 flop w two hearts. I make a CB of 225, and it is called. The turn brings a 2, and I check behind when villain checks. The river brings is offsuit ten, and villain fires 500. Given the possibility of a busted flush draw or lower pair, I call and get shown 88 for a flopped boat.

With these two hands, I lost half my stack within 20 minutes and I am thinking that I could be out quickly. There were probably two minutes there where the following things went through my mind:
- I wanted to be anywhere but Vegas
- I couldn’t believe that I seemed destined for another early WSOP exit.
- The thoughts of my other WSOP bustouts went through my mind.
- I can’t believe that I could be out without ever being above the starting stack.

After a minute or so, I slapped myself (figuratively) and reassessed the situation. The facts as I saw them:
- This is only one tourney, I can’t put too much stock in any one tourney.
- I still have 30 big blinds, I am not dead
- Every tourney I have made a big score in there has been a moment where things looked really bad.
- I am better than these people – so lets just play poker and see what happens.
- I might bust early – but I won’t go out without a fight (this cues the Rocky music in my head).

Game on.

An orbit later, I get 88 in the sb with an OAD in the bb who thinks he is hot stuff. I limped 88, thinking this guy would raise, and he did not disappoint. He raised to 175 (bb is still 50), and I raised to 850. He thinks for a while and pushes me all in (for about 1500) and shows KJ. This is a pretty bad play by him, IMO, as he has to be at best flipping, and he could have folded with only investing 175. The board came AQ5-Q-9, and I double up back to about the original starting stack.

I felt good about things at this point – like I had a new lease on my tournament. After defending my big blind to a 3x raise with AJ, I ch-raised a J92 rainbow flop and took down the pot. The next hand, I limped K2s in the sb, and the flop came KK2 in a 3-handed pot. I checked the flop, hoping there would be a bet, but there wasn’t one. On the turn, I checked again, and the big blind bet 125 into the 150 pot, and the MP limper called. I decided to ch-raising here, hoping someone had enough to play along (there were two flush draws on the turn. I ch-raised to 400, hoping a flush draw might find the odds appealing to call, or perhaps someone else has a monster they will stack off with. Both fold, however, and I pick add another 400 chips to my stack.

My stack is now up to about 4000 or so (I think), and we are now moving to the next level, with 50/100 blinds. I find 88 in my big blind and defend a 3x raise from the hijack. My early read on him is that he is pretty straightforward, a bit agro, but won’t get too out of line when his stack is at risk. When the flop comes 974 with two diamonds, I decide to ch-raise is 350 chip CB to 900. I think I am probably best here, and if he reraises I will safely dump my hand. He folds, and I am up to 4600 or so. The next orbit in the small blind, I find AQ suited, and I reraise a button raiser from 300 to 900, and he folds. This gets me over 5K.

I feel like I have been pretty active, and I guess I have. I haven’t been too out-of-line, but the table has not known that. Right now, I am feeling super about things. I was a card from being out within 30 minutes, and now I am above average at about 5K.

Unfortunately for me, it was time for my luck to even out after winning a flip earlier. I raised to 300 with 99 from 3rd position, and 5th position pushes for about 1600. I have an easy call with getting 300+300+150+1300=2150 and I have to call 1300 given this is a laggy guy who’s range seems pretty wide. He had AJ and I was a slight favorite until the door card was a jack. This pushed me down to 3500 or so. Fortunately my mindset was still good, and I was thankful that, of the two all in races, I won the race when I was all in and lost when I had 3500 left. I still was above the starting stack, and ready to go back to work.

I played two hands of note in the last fifteen minutes or so of level two. I cold-called a pre-flop raise to 275 with 22 in the cutoff seat. The effective stacks were about 3500, and I felt I was (barely) getting the implied odds to try to spike a set. Further, with position, sometimes other situations arise to pick up a pot. It didn’t hit, however, and when I was bet into, I folded. With about 13-1 odds, this was a pretty marginal call pre-flop, and might have been a mistake.
One blind steal with 76s, a few hands that I fold, and the first two hours are over. My chip stack at the end of the first two levels is 3375. It could have been a lot worse, so I am happy to be here with this stack. However, blinds are going up to 100/200, so I don’t have time to be patient. I don’t have to go crazy, but need to do some work to accumulate chips.

To be continued …


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