I start off the WSOP Colossus in the Brasilia room at table 88, seat 7 and find that there are 3077 entrants, spread between the Brasilia, Amazon and Pavilion rooms (Dave’s in the Pavilion).  I don’t have any big pros at my table, but see plenty of them walking around and at the tables near me (a Chicago pro that I have some history with, that has a WPT and HPT title is at the table next to me), so hopefully I’ll be able to pick up some chips early, as we only start with 5k and in a fast structure, we’ll be in resteal and shove mode very quickly.  As a nice surprise, we get a poker legend to start off our flight, as TJ Cloutier is the person that tells everyone to “Shuffle up and deal!”

I start off in the very first hand, as it folds to me and I look down at 77 and open to 125 (blinds are at 25/50) and get 3-bet by the big blind.  Since it’s early, I’m just deep enough to setmine, but I’ve also got position that I can use on a low flop.  The flop is AQ8 and when the opp fires on the flop, my 77 goes into the muck.  The next hand I get into is about 15 minutes later, as I open ATs from MP and get 4 callers.  The flop is KQT, so I have bottom pair and a backdoor royal draw.  The flop checks thru and the turn is another diamond, so I pick up additional equity in the flush draw.  The SB leads out and I call along with the button.  The river is a jack and the SB leads again.  Holding the nuts, I raise to 625 and take down the pot when both players fold… thought for sure I was chopping with another ace.  The first level ends with me at 4600 chips and looking for some spots to chip up.

The blinds go up to 50/100 and I get into a pot free from the BB with T4o.  We see a 5-way flop of A4T rainbow.  I lead out for 400 and get only a call from the SB.  The turn is a K and checks thru (as soon as he checked, he was grabbing for chips to call a bet, armed with that information, I checked behind).  The turn is a J and I get open-shoved on (making up for lost value on the turn)… well, with 4 to a broadway on teh board, my two pair’s counterfeited, so I muck and go down to 3700 chips.  I am able to steal the blinds twice before the end of the level, so an hour in, I’m sitting at 3900 chips.  The bigstack at the table is seat 1, that I find out is a pro from Bulgaria and in Vegas for the whole month to play and gets his chips by flopping two sets.  Finding this information out is useful as he’s definitely one to keep an eye on.

The antes kick in at 75/150/25 and the mass exodus is beginning.  Our table only loses one player, but the tables all around me are losing players left and right.  As soon as the floor picks up a seat card, they have 2-3 more from tables to grab.  As these bustouts start, it looks like they are breaking up all of the tables in the Pavilion and Amazon and are moving everyone to my room, so I hope I get to stay at this table as I feel that I’ve got an edge on everyone at it.  I then find out for sure that they’re breaking up the Pavilion, as I get a couple texts from Dave saying that he’s changing tables. 

Just before the end of the level, I’m able to make two late position steals and another from the SB (where I was raising ATC and won preflop with 47o).  I end the third level with 4000 in chips and am looking for a spot to get them in to try and double up.

The blinds now go up again to 100/200/25 and I get my spot.  There is an open to 575 from UTG (seat 9) and when I look down at AA in the SB, “I’M ALL IN!”  The opp snap-calls and turns over A9s.  The case ace in the window seals it and I double up to 7775.  Yes, I doubled, but I’m definitely looking for spots to get more chips as the blinds are going to be going up very quickly.  We hit the break, two hours in, and I’m sitting on a stack of 7225.  I know that I’m going to need chips, as the day before, the players were ITM at about 4pm, which was even before the third break!  That means that in about 5 hours of play, 85% of the field was gone!

We come back to 150/300/50, so I’m back to a larger resteal stack.  Part way thru this level, I get a message that I didn’t want to see.  Dave got it in with JJ against 99 and the opp rivered a 9.  Well, I guess it’s going to be up to me, so I better make the most of it.

The blinds are up to 200/400/50 and the majority of players that weren’t in shove mode already are now rapidly getting it in preflop.  I’m also seeing more and more players coming into the room with bagged chips, so now I’m convinced that they’re moving everyone to my room.  I have a great table, as there are players limping and raising with total trash and players calling shoves way too loose, so if I can get another hand, I’m getting action (hopefully not too much though).  I look down at AK and open for 900 and get two callers.  The flop is A63 rainbow and I lead out for 1500 and take down the pot when the opps fold.  Along with another blind steal from the SB, I end the level with 11k chips.  Yes, it’s over double what I started with, but with the blinds now going up to 250/500/75, it’s not a large stack by any means.

300/600/75 starts and I get into another one.  A shorty in seat 9 open-shoves 66 and when I look down at KK, I re-shove to try and isolate them, which works successfully.  I get a king on the flop and the turn pairs the board so with my full house, I’m up to 14800.  The second break hits and I’m sitting on 13225, which gets upgraded to 13300 as my Kh wins a race-off chip.

As we come back to 400/800/100, I know that players are busting fast and furious and it should be within this next session where the money bubble is.  When we come back, we find out that there are 3077 entered with 566 getting paid.  I still have no clue how many are left, but toward the end of the level, they post that there are 1000 players remaining.  They now begin to break the tables in the red section of Brasilia (not exactly my idea as I kind of like this table), so everyone is in my room now.  I’m looking for a spot to get my chips in, but not seeing any and for sure am not calling a shove or multiple shoves with the junk I’m getting, as it seems that 24o is the hand of choice.

I now get an open from seat 1, the toughest opp at the table that has been playing tight and very aggressively when he gets a hand and his play verifies what he said earlier.  He opens for 1800, the standard table open and when I look down at AA, I 3-bet him to 3800 as I wanted it to look like he had some fold equity.  He snap 4-bet jams and needless to say, I snap-call him.  He flips over KK which immediately makes me start sweating as my exit hand in last year’s WSOP was AA vs KK against a European pro (but this time I have the AA) and when I dodge the kings, I double up to 26k chips and take over the table chip lead with 920 players remaining.

As my table is waiting to break, the players on my left and right, begin a conversation about how to play or not to play JJ and can’t believe that each of them had gotten it to hold when they shoved it preflop.  I absolutely bust up laughing right in the middle of their conversation, as I look at my phone and see a message from Dave “pro tip: fold JJ pre... lol”  They both ask me why I’m laughing and when I tell them, the whole table’s rolling!  Trust me, that really helped to, as I’m definitely going to be on top of my game if I’m relaxed and laughing this hard. 

The floor finally gets to table 88 and breaks it, so I’m off to table 43 seat 3.  When I get there, I see that seat 7 has a TON of chips and it’s someone that I have recent history with, as it’s the kid from the HPT main that busted on the quad queens hand.  He’s loose, aggro and with about 100k chips, even if some of the others at the table that I don’t know are pros, he’s going to be the most dangerous because if you want to play a hand against him, all of your chips will end up in the middle by the river. 

One thing that will definitely keep me lookign to pick up chips is that I have one of the rare seats where there isn’t a clock visible for my tournament, as they’re going to use the red section for the afternoon flight of my tourney and have already changed that clock to it.  Since I was at table 88, I can only assume that we’re down to 870 or so left and a few minutes later, trying to guess how many remain gets even harder, as the floors start taking one chair away from each table as players bust as we’re moving from 10 handed play to 9 handed tables.   Changing to 9 handed is ok, but the stacks at this table make for a problem as I just went from the table chip leader to the table shorty without losing a chip!

I’m looking to get chips, find TT and make a standard open to 2100 at 500/1k/100 and go figure, the kid 3-bets me to 4800.  I call the extra, as I’ve got position on him and put his range on broadways, pairs and suited connectors.  He’d call with his marginal hands (or at least did for hours in the HPT).  If I was OOP, I’d have mucked to it, but having position, I decided to call a bit lighter than normal as I know he’ll 3-bet suited connectors down to 45s.  The flop makes for a very easy decision for me, as it is AKQ with two diamonds.  The only things in his range I’m ahead of are 77-99 and the non-diamond suited connectors, so when he bets small on the flop, I know my hand is toast and in the muck.  Another thing I remember about him is that he bets small or checks on the flop/turn then bombs the river with his big hands and raises his flop/turn betsizes as bluffs.  Reads and extra information that the others at the table don’t have is very, very useful information.  Losing this hand drops me down to 20bb, so I’m back into resteal mode.

Ding!  The blinds are up again, now to 800/1600/200 and for the first time in the tournament, I go totally card dead… not exactly what I want to have happen when I’m only at 15bb.  I don’t get to play a single hand the first orbit, as the only hand even remotely playable was QJs, but no way in the world am I calling 2 shoves with an initial raiser left to act behind me.

As I hit the 10bb mark, there is an announcement that all of the dealers are to hold and one player from my table gets up and walks to where he can see a clock and it shows 600 remaining.  They then drop the 600 to 580 left (14 from the money).  After about 10 minutes, we are instructed to play another hand, so I know we’re right on the bubble and when I look down at 69o, needless to say, it’s a snap-fold for me.  We hold again for about 5 more minutes.  We then get a very good announcement from the TD “CONGRATLATIONS PLAYERS, YOU ARE ALL NOW IN THE MONEY!!!”

Just after this, the blinds go up again and are now at 1k/2k/300, so with 14k chips, I’m looking for the first spot I can find to get chips to try to make day 2.  Players are now busting even faster than before, as everyone that is short is getting their chips in to try and double up to make day 2.  My BB hand is no good, as there are 3 shoves before me and I look down at 23s.  I may open-shove it, but no way am I calling multiple shoves.  The very next hand, it folds to me and I look down at A7o, well, BvB, I can do a ton worse than this to try and get chips and I’m absolutely NOT folding and laddering up a pay level… I want to make day 2 and have a shot to win it.  “I’M ALL IN!”  The opp snap-calls and turns over AQ, so I’m going to need to get lucky.  The flop is 568 with two hearts, the turn is the Qh, so I have 15 outs (hearts, 4’s and 9’s) but the river bricks off and I’m out in 542nd in my flight, for $833 for my first WSOP cash (hopefully many more to come in future years).  In the official list after they combine all of the flights, I went out 2741st out of 21613 players.

I did play one other WSOP tournament, as on Monday, I played the $235 afternoon deepstack.  There were two bracelet events starting that day, plus Poker After Dark’s $1650 buy-in at another casino and an MSPT $1100 at another casino, so I figured that the field strength in the afternoon deepstack would be a bit lighter.  While the overall field strength may have been lower, it sure as hell wasn’t at my table.  As I get to my seat (187/2), there is one player already at the table and sitting in seat 9… the person that started my Colossus flight, TJ Cloutier.  So much for having an easy table, as the best player in the field by a mile is at mine.  I didn’t cash in the tourney due to two coolers later on in it, but made a great bluff-catch that got noted by him and played with a poker legend for over three hours when he went out on a standard 60/40 play.  That 3 hours was priceless, he was telling stories of things that happened to him at the table over the years and had the entire table laughing with him.  You could very easily imagine his exact scenarios playing out, regardless of where the actions happened, Vegas, Europe and everywhere else.