I decided that day 1B was the best choice for me to play, 9am on Saturday, as it allowed me to stay at home and get a good night’s sleep.  If I had played 1A or 1C, I’d have been up until 3am, then wouldn’t have gotten home until 4:30ish and with the next day starting at noon or 2pm, it just worked better.


I start out at table 17 seat 4, the same table that I started at when I won the seat, so I was hoping that would be a good omen.  While I didn’t have any big names at my starting table, I see that table 18, right next to me does, in Allen ‘The Chainsaw’ Kessler (the largest shark in the water for this session).  Greg ‘Fossilman’ Raymer made it thru day 1A the night before, so he didn’t have to come back to try day 1B or 1C.

I get a 30k starting stack and the second hand of the tourney, I look down at AQs and make a standard raise to 300.  I get one caller and see a flop of K 8 2.  Being OOP, I fire out 375 and when he folds, I take down my first pot.

Three hands later, I’m in the BB and get a min-raise from the guy that wants to be the table bully (in every pot and raising most of them).  It folds to me and I look down at T9 of hearts and decide this is a good time to get in cheap and show that I’ll defend my blind.  I hit the jackpot when the flop comes A J 5 of hearts.  I lead out 250 and the opp snap-calls it.  The turn is a blank and I have to fire again, both for value and to protect against a single larger heart, so I bet 575, that the opp calls.  The river is a blank, so I fire out again and the opp folds.  At the end of the first 40 minute level, I’m up to 32k chips. 

The next two levels are really uneventful.  I’m basically card dead, but I’m able to make a button steal with Q3o on level 3 (100/200) by opening to 500 when it’s folded to me and I hit the first break with 31550.

We come back from break and the antes kick in and I’m getting a bunch of trash hands.  Wish it was a tank prop game, as I end up seeing 27o about a dozen times today.  When the blinds get up to 200/400/50, I’m down to 29k and this is where the next hand I’m involved in happens.  I pick up TT and make a standard raise to 1k that is called by the BB in seat 1.  He’s been playing very solidly and looks to know the game well.  The flop is three unders to my 10’s, but there are two hearts.  When he checks to me, I lead out 1250 that is snap-called.  The turn is another heart and he checks again.  I bet 2000 and he calls.  The river is the A of hearts and he checks again.  Well, there’s basically no way for me to win this unless I can bluff him off of it and it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere, so I check behind, as while I don’t have a heart nor A, I can beat any other pair on the board.  He flips over AA and I muck my TT.  The second break hits after this level and I’m at 25050.

The blinds now go up to 250/500/50 and here is where I get a great opportunity.   I look down at JJ and make the table standard open to 1500 and get two callers.  The flop is T 9 4, so with an overpair, when it’s checked to me, I now bet 2750.  Seat 9 mucks but I’m called by seat 2.  The turn is an 8, so I now pick up more outs to improve from my overpair.  Seat 2 checks and I fire out 4750.  He tanks for a minute and calls.  The river is a 7, giving me the nuts.  He checks again and I now fire out 6000.  He tanks for a good couple minutes and decides to call.  I flip over my JJ and take down a huge pot. 

The very next hand, while stacking my chips, I look down at AK and once again make a standard raise to 1500 and get three callers.  The flop is A K 6 with two spades.  I bet 3750 and get one caller.  The turn is a blank and I now bet 5750.  The opp mucks and I take down another one, which gets my stack up to 39100.

The next two blind levels are very uneventful for me, as I only get one hand to even try to do something with, as I pick up 77 from the cutoff and get into a family pot after a min-raise and totally miss it.  I end this session with 31000 at break.

With 3 levels left in day 1, the blinds are now 500/1k/100.  For once, they actually raced off the greens at the right time (unlike Dave’s PLO tourney).   On the second orbit, I look down at AQs from mid position and when it’s folded to me, I make my standard opening raise to 2500.  Seat 6, that has been playing a number of pots and is starting to get a stack decides to 3-bet… to 15k?!  When the BB calls, this is now an easy decision for me, as with a large overbet and a call, there is no way my AQ is ahead, so into the muck my cards go. 

At the end of the level, it’s folded to me on the button and I look down at KTo and make another standard raise to 2500.  This time, the blinds muck and I take down the pot.  At the end of this level, I’m sitting at 28800.

Soon after this, my table breaks and I get moved to table 20, seat 8.  When I get to this table, two things immediately catch my eye.  First is that seat 1 has a HUGE stack that is over 200k.  Also, seat 6 is a known local pro that has made multiple HPT final tables (the guy willing to gamble from my $180 qualifier).  Of course, I end up right into the BB with the table switch. This blind level, I wish T4 was a prop hand, as I see it five times.  When the level ends, I’m down to 25k.

Now is when the inept casino staff kicks in.  Of all the disasters so far (numerous that both Dave and I have written about), this is the biggest one so far.  I’m out of the hand, as I muck my T2o.  There is a raise and 3 callers preflop.  On the flop, there is a bet by seat 2, a call by seat 4 and then a shove by seat 6.  Seat 10 now re-shoves and is called by seat 2.  Seat 4 now goes into the tank as while he’s a larger stack, it’s about 60k to call into a 4-way pot.  As he’s pondering his decision, the new floor person that’s walking around tells the dealer to start putting the chips into the different pots and he starts to do so. 

Seat 4 now goes off, as since they’ve taken chips from everyone else’s stacks… there isn’t a set amount that is easily viewable, for what he has to call.  After a couple minutes, seat 10’s chips are counted, along with what they took away from his stack already, so seat 4 now knows the exact value that he has to call (with an overpair to the board, I later find out). 

Now… remember, the chips are partially separated, not totally… which is a recipe for a disaster.  Seat 4 calls and with the pots half done, they now run the rest of the board.  Seat 6, the shortest stack wins the main pot by hitting an OESD on the river.  Seat 10 wins the side pot with 2 pair.  Now for the worst of the casino incompetence.  The idiot floor lady instructs the dealer to have seat 4 pay 10600 to the main pot (correct and the amount seat 6 had in front of him), then to pay off seat 2, that lost and is out?! Then pay seat 10 and give all the chips from seat 2 to seat 10.  Well, seat 2 had 9400 left after paying his chips to the main pot, which means that seat 4 is getting screwed out of 9400 chips.  Needless to say, he’s pissed and going off bigtime. 

We now get another floor person, just about as clueless, and about 25 or so spectators around the table.  Just about this time, Sailor Moe (that is playing day 1C in an hour or so and wanted to check to see how I was doing) taps me on the shoulder and says, “No drama at your table, huh!”  While neither of the two floors nor the dealer have a clue what’s been screwed up, the majority, if not all of the table HAS seen what is wrong… seat 4 is out 9400 by wrongly having had to pay off an opp that is out of the tournament.  Finally seat 6, the pro that won the main pot, yells out, STOP!  Here’s where the problem is, and instead of the dealer or the floor sorting the chips into the different pots that go to everyone, he takes the chips and does it.  He correctly gives the 9400 back to seat 4 from seat 2’s stack.  Has seat 4 pay seat 10’s stack, then gives seat 2’s remaining chips to seat 10.  After a 10-15 minute circus, the chips are finally correctly with the right players and we are able to get back playing.  I was waiting for security to be called.  IMO, the floor person that caused this whole mess should be fired on the spot, because she’s 100% inept.

We get back to playing and I’m in shove mode now.  I get my chance to do so on a hand just before we stop for the day.  Seat 1, the huge stack opens to 4k at 800/1600/200 and is called by seat 3.  I look down at KQo and with just over 20k chips, I’M ALL IN!  It goes back around to seat 1 that goes into the tank for a couple minutes.  Eventually, he decides to fold and now seat 3 goes into the tank.  He folds KQ face up and seat 1 says, that’s what I had too.  It could have been a 3-way chop, but since I took the initiative, I got the pot.  This one is a great example of how to play KQ.  If the stack sizes are right to do so, it’s a good hand to shove with, but it is NOT a hand to call a shove with and was well played by everyone involved.  I end day one bagging and tagging 32100 in chips. 

I get back to the casino after a good night’s sleep at home I find out that there were 526 entries and that 185 players remain.  54 will get ITM, with $171,534 going to the winner and $3,207 going to 54th.  My goals for the day are to get my chips into play early and often, as I need to accumulate enough chips to first get to 54th. 

About an hour before we are to start playing, they finally post a list of where everyone is supposed to be at.  I’m listed at table 14, seat 1.  When we get there, I notice that seats 1-4 were all at my final table from yesterday and that seats 5-9 were all at the same table from yesterday and that ‘The Chainsaw’ is in seat 5.  We then notice that some tables have the seats arranged by chip count.  Seat 1 has more than 2, etc. and that one table has 10 of the top 15 stacks at it?!   Needless to say, this is totally bogus and NOT a random seat draw, like it’s supposed to be.  Either the casino management is lazy (probably true) or incompetent (100% proven to be the case). 

All of the players are now complaining to the HPT personnel about it and after getting enough complaints, Fred from the HPT gets on the microphone and announces that there will be a 100% redraw for seats.  They put the seat tiles for all the tables in play up on the counter and we went up 3 tables at a time to redraw seats for day 2.  What a fiasco!  When my table’s called, I go up and pick table 14 seat 8.  The same table, but different seat.  When I get to the table, I notice that I played with two of the players at some point in time yesterday.  Seat 4 is the one that I ran my TT into his AA.  I also recognize the player in seat 9, and although I have never played poker against him, I’ve been in many online horse race handicapping contests against him, David ‘The Maven’ Gutfreund.  Too bad this wasn’t a handicapping contest, because he’d be the best in the room and I’d most likely be the next best and the only one that might give him a run for his money in it.

We finally get started with the blinds at 1k/2k/300 and I’m looking for any opportunity to get my chips into.  The first orbit, I get absolutely nothing.  No face cards and no aces.  I did get 28o three times.  At the beginning of the second orbit, I look down at KTo, but there is a huge problem.  There has already been a raise, 3-bet and 4-bet shove by a larger stack.  If it folded to me, I’d have went with it, but not under these circumstances.

As this orbit ends, the second BIG fiasco starts.  Some of the players are coloring up to the 25k chips and they’re the same color yellow as the 10k chips.  OOPS!  The players that have the chips can’t even tell how much they have, let alone a player next to them or looking across the table at their stacks.  Fred has to step in again.  ‘Players, sorry for the inconvenience, but we have been made aware that the 10k chips and the 25k chips are the same color.  We will be coming around and taking all of the 10k chips out of play and exchanging them for other denominations.’  Well, this isn’t the first I’ve noticed a problem with the chips.  They have 4 colors of 100 chips, ranging from black to dark gray to a lighter gray (the light gray ones are VERY similar and could easily be mistaken for the 5k chips).  Also, there are not one or two, but FOUR different purple chips, all of which are 500’s.  With all of the different colors in play, it’s a recipe for a disaster, as nobody will ever know how many chips someone has.  Who in their right mind would run a casino this way?!

I finally get a chance to do something, as there is an open to 4500 from mid position and I look down at AJ of clubs.  Since I’m down to just under 13BB now, I’ve got one play… I’M ALL IN!  It folds around to the opener and he uses a yellow and purple chip to call me (he had one of the real yellow chips, 25k’s).  I turn my AJs over and he shows AQ hearts.  The board runs out 6 3 8 6 A so we both have two pair, but his kicker plays and I’m out in about 165th (no clue on the exact position, as the number left has ALWAYS been off all week).  I do see that I did get to play with two of the final table members and won two pots off of one of them.

With this being my first main event with TV cameras around, I learned a ton from it and had a blast playing in it.  It really helped having someone else there to run situations off of at breaks.  Thanks Sailor!!  A big thanks to Dave too, as I was in constant contact with him thru texts back and forth! 

I’ve played in a number of HPT events in the past that were run very professionally and were some of the best run tourneys I’ve ever played in (at River City in St. Louis).  I’ll gladly support the HPT and play in future events of theirs, especially the St. Louis ones, but without the room at Majestic being totally redone (basically firing everyone from the floor managers up and teaching the dealers how to do things correctly), it’ll be a long time before I ever set foot in that casino again.

The next two big tourney series that I’m looking at playing are the WSOP Circuit at the Horseshoe in Hammond, IN in October and possibly a couple of the HPT events in St. Louis at the beginning of November.  I’ve been on a good run lately of winning my way into larger and larger buy-in events, as before June, the largest that I had been in was a $365 WSOP Circuit, but now I can add a $560 WSOP side event, $1k WSOP bracelet and a $1650 HPT ME.  Hopefully that’s a sign of things to come as now I’ve just got to get a run in one of those instead of just the qualifiers and get a big payday from it.  It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s moving in the right direction.