I get up Sunday morning and head to the Bellagio breakfast buffet, best breakfast buffet in Vegas, (since I’m expecting to play 8 hours without a dinner break, which is what the structure sheet said).  On my way to meet up with Sandtrap777 and Dave, I stop and play one video poker machine to put some points on my player’s card and hope that it’s an omen on how the day is going to go, as I hit JJJJ on it.  I find out that Trap is in the Pavilion Room and that Dave is in the Brasilia Room with me.  He’s in the silver section and I’m on table 3 seat 4 of the gold section.  I quickly learn that I want to super glue myself to this seat, as the gold section is the ONLY one that is not going to break today.  I also learn that instead of 8 levels with no dinner break, we’re playing 11 levels with a dinner break.  Not a big deal, but means that I need to make it much deeper to get to day 2.


I start off the first hand with 3k in chips and look down at QQ.  Seat 3 (younger guy from Germany) makes an opening raise and I make a standard 3-bet that he calls.  The flop is all low cards and I make a half pot c-bet when he checks to me.  The turn is another low card that brings a flush draw.  He checks again, so I fire out another half pot bet.  This time he check/raises me to half his stack!  That’s not good because he could have hit a set or have an over pair.  Into the tank I go and after a couple minutes, decide to muck as its way, way too early to gamble and as I do so, he shows AA.  One hand down, 25% of stack gone.

Two hands later, I look down at two red aces!  I’m thinking, well, this is the hand I might be able to get some of those chips back with.  After three limps, I make a raise that gets two callers.  The flop comes out 5 7 2 and I make a c-bet that is called by the 4 seat.  The turn is a Q and I make another value bet.  The river is an 8 and I fire again.  This time, the opp raises to 800.  Well, he could have hit a set of 8’s or have 69, but if he did… he’s the kind of opp I want to be playing pots with because they are making  –EV calls on multiple streets.  I tank for a couple seconds and call and the opp flips over 69 of spades for a straight.  Three hands in and I’ve now lost 70% of my chips.  I make it all this way to end up dead last… I hope not, as there is nobody in my room that has busted yet.

The rest of the first hour, I don’t see a flop, except for one from the BB free with trash that is mucked on the flop.  The blinds now go up to 25/50 and I look down at QQ again.  I make a standard open to 150 and am called by 3 opps.  The flop comes J 10 5 and I need to make a value bet, but any normal value bet will pot-commit me, so into the pot my chips go… “I’M ALL IN!”  It folds around to seat 1 that tanks for a couple seconds, calls and flips over J 10.  Of all hands for me to see, why jack ten?  The same hand that in the past has taken me out of a WSOP Circuit and Heartland Poker Tour event now has a chance to knock me out of a WSOP bracelet event.  Fortunately, the board runs out 2 3 so I more than double up and get back to 2k chips, which is a playable stack.

The next hand I’m involved in, I’m in the BB and it folds to me.  I look at my cards and this is one I have to flip over…THE TANK HAND (27o) and yes, I immediately texted “SHIP IT!!!” to Dave and Trap.

The second two hour session, I’m really card dead.  I do get a couple steal opportunities and pick up chips to help with keeping up with the blinds.  After my fourth steal, I actually got to above a starting stack as I hit 3600 chips at one point in time.  I end this session with just about a starting stack and find out at break that I’m the middle stack of the three of us. 
The third session starts and I’m really card dead the first hour.  During which, I get a tap on my shoulder, which was Trap telling me that he got coolered on the river and was out.  With the blinds starting to be a more sizable portion of my stack, I hit the point where I’m looking for a spot to resteal, as I have a perfect resteal stack.  Unfortunately, the first two opportunities, the 3 seat beats me to it and shoves his stack in (good thing too, because he was restealing with premium hands). 

An hour to the 90 minute dinner break, with the blinds having just gone up, I get to where I’m at 10 BB and looking for a spot to shove.  The first 30 min of this level do me no favors, as I’m getting awful cards and am not getting any spots to shove first with a +EV play.  With about 20 min to the break, I finally get a spot.  The table big stack that got their chips by getting them in bad in a 3-way pot and sucking out on the river (99 vs KK vs ATs on a board that ran out 5 6 7 8 and now that he has chips, is limping into every single pot, open-limps.  I look down at 55 and with the limper trying to play every single pot, I know I’m ahead of his range and in go my last 5 or so BB.  I get called by the 7 seat and by the big stack.  Seat 7 turns over AK, and the big stack turns over J9o.  The flop is A 3 4, so now I can win with a two or a five.  The turn is a 6, so I now add the four 7’s as outs, for 10 outs.  Unfortunately, the river is a ten, so I’m out in about 900th of 2887.  The board showed 920 when I went out, but updated to 870 a couple minutes after I busted, so I’m guessing it was about 900th.  I was hoping for a better finish, but I guess that being in the top 1/3 isn’t too bad considering I really should have been busted in the first three hands.

I decide to jump into a $1 $3NL game in the Rio poker room that evening.  I wish I had some interesting hands to post from it, but I ended the session down just under $100, as I never won a big pot (just kept getting hands to see flops with and missed them all).

On Monday, I go over to see Dave start out day 2 in the Amazon room, but after watching a few hands, decide to go get something to eat as Trap and I had planned to jump into the afternoon $235 deep stack.  Dave busts while we’re eating, so he decides to jump into it with us too.  I draw the yellow section of the Pavilion Room, table 283, seat 6.  Dave is 2 tables away and Trap’s 3 away from me.  We start with 15k chips and I immediately see this table will be interesting.  I’ve never seen so much limping in my life.  There are 5-6 of them each hand!  I also quickly learn that the player in seat 4 is as stationy as it gets, info I hope to put to good use later on.  Seat 1 is also interesting, as it’s a Russian guy that is playing tight, but when he does play a pot, to say he’s aggro is an understatement.   With this being the table dynamic, I decide my best course of action is to play less hands and to be really aggressive when I am playing pots, basically to never call.
The first hand I’m involved in, I pick up AK and get 5 limpers before me.  I make a standard raise to 8BB and get seat 4 that calls… imagine that?!  The flop comes K 5 J and when she checks to me, I fire out a 1/2 pot bet that she calls again.  The turn is an A, giving me top two pair.  When she checks again, I fire out another 1/2 pot bet and guess what, she calls.  The river is what should be a blank, so when she checks to me, I fire again. She calls and flips over QJ.  Like QJ is ever going to be good there when I fire every street on an A K board… but I’ll gladly take the chips.  This was the only pot that I’m involved in, in the first 90 min session (minus a couple free looks from the blind that I missed and had to muck).  I end this session with 17725 in chips.

The second session starts and here comes the antes, so I need to be playing more or stealing more.  I immediately pick up two steal opps in the first orbit and increase my chip stack to 22k.  Registration now closes with 1493 entries and the first time the board updates, there are 920 left. 
At the next level, I get one of those taps on my shoulder again and find out that Trap got AA cracked by someone with J7 that caught a 7 on the river.  He’s playing well, just having no luck at all.  It goes until just before the next break (3 hours of play into it) and I’m starting to get short and go from a re-steal stack to a shove stack, as I’m totally card dead.  It had been over an hour since I even saw an ace.  I knew they existed due to others having them, but you sure couldn’t tell from my hands. 

Just after Dave busts, I look down at 44 with first in vig, in they go… “I’M ALL IN!”  It folds around to the BB that goes into the tank.  They only have a few more chips than me, so any call puts them at risk.  He decides to call with ATo.   The flop is A 2 3, so while I’m now behind, I do pick up extra outs.  The turn is a K and the river is an 8, so I’m out in about 600th place (192 got ITM).

Since all 3 of us were out, we then proceeded to go to one of the bars in the Rio for a couple beers (thanks MT!) and we decide to jump into a 1 3 game like I was playing last night and we decide we’re all going to be at the same table.  I’ve never played in a live cash game with either of them before and unfortunately for me, learned a number of valuable lessons the hard way.  I end up on Dave’s right (should have asked for a seat change and not doing so gets me the dumb move of the night award).  

The first big hand I’m in, it folds to me on the button and I look down at A4h and decide to make a raise that is called by both Dave and the BB.  The flop comes 8 4 2 and when it checks to me, I fire out a c-bet, as I did have second pair and a backdoor straight and flush draw.  Dave calls.  The turn is another 2 and Dave checks.  I make another value bet that is called.  The river is an A and now Dave bombs the river.  BIG MISTAKE #2 as I put him in two overcards that was floating me on every street that got there on the river… OOPS!  The only hands that beat me are , 88, 44, AA or A8 and there are plenty of Ax hands that he could be trying to rep.  I make the call with my two pair and he turns over Q2 clubs.  I knew he was playing LAG, but wasn’t ready for Q2.

The next big hand I’m in, I get a raise and 3 calls of it in front of me and look down at KK.  Needless to say, I’m going to 3-bet and do so.  Dave, Trap and one other opp call.  The flop is A 8 8 and when it checks to me , I decide here is my one shot to win the pot and make a c-bet.  Dave mucks, but the other two call.  The turn is a J and when both check to me, I check behind for pot control and since I’m putting the other opp on an ace.  The river is another J and the first opp bets and Trap bombs the pot.  Good thing I’m not married to my hand, as one of them has a J or 8 or A for sure.  Into the muck my kings go.  Opp one turns over an 8 and Trap wins a great pot with J’s full of 8’s. 

The rest of the night I’d have been happy to just tread water.  I see some hands that I need to see flops with, but couldn’t hit a flop if my life depended on it.  I end up down over a buy-in, the absolute worst cash game session of my life.  At least I learned a number of things from Dave in it… just wish it didn’t cost me as much in order to do so.

The next day, I decide to get into the $125 nightly tourney at Aria, a tourney I started playing last year when Dave recommended it.  It’s great for a daily tourney, as you get 10k to start with and the tourney normally gets at least 80-90 in it.  This night, there were 157 in it with $4720 on top.  I start out and I’m right back to being card dead.  The first two hour session ends and I’m at 8875 chips with 130 left.  With about 90 left, I get to where I have a re-steal stack of 15BB.  I get an open from a loose player and I look down at JJ and decide, here’s my re-steal opportunity.  “I’m ALL IN!”  The BB now re-shoves in an attempt to isolate me, which is good for me to see, because with JJ, I’d much rather be in a HU pot than a multi-way pot.  The initial raiser gets out of the way and the BB flips over AQo.  The flop brings an A and no help for me on the rest of the board, so I’m out somewhere in the 80’s.

That day wasn’t a total loss though, as on my way to dinner, before the Aria tournament, I decided to play a video poker machine in Excalibur, found one with a good pay schedule and proceeded to hit two pair, ones and ones, for $200.  I thought that was pretty good, until my sister decided to play the same bank of machines about 45 min later (different machine, but same pay schedule) and proceeded to hit a heart royal for over $1100.

Overall, while yes, I did make a few mistakes, they were definitely spots where I can learn to be a better player by having been in them.  I also now know what it’s like to be at and in the WSOP in Vegas and look forward to winning my way back into some of the events next year.  Knowing what this was like, I can only imagine what it would be to be in the ME.  My journey there will start on July 16th, as that is when the league starts up and this time they ARE able to guarantee a WSOP-ME seat, so I’m sure it’ll bring out all the better players that didn’t play last time.  I'll continue to do my weekly blogs from the league and also from the HPT at the beginning of August.