Day 1: Travel Day

The flight to Panama was 5.5 hours long and uneventful.  The in-flight movie was Enders Game, which I hadn’t seen yet and wanted to, so despite being on little sleep and exhausted, I watched the movie before dozing off for a mid-flight nap. 

Once on the ground in Panama, the line to get through immigration was crazy long… they had a line for Panamanian nationals with 3 agents serving it and no one waiting, only the occasional person or family to stroll through.  Then they had the line for foreign nationals, with at least a couple hundred people waiting.  It only took an hour to get through, though it seemed like the wait would be longer. 

After checking in at the hotel, I got settled in my room and took in the view.  The Hard Rock Megapolis is a nice property nestled in the heart of downtown Panama City, and the view of the city and bay from my 57th floor window was amazing. 



A Room with a View


After getting settled, I went and got some food, then over to the poker room area to get checked in for the tournament.  Everything went pretty smoothly and hassle free.  They were just firing up a satellite to the tourney for $100 so I thought about entering that (already having a seat, I would get cash), but I was so exhausted I decided it would be a better idea to make an early night of it and catch up on some sleep.


Day 2:  Poker Day - LSOP Millions Day 1A

The trip includes breakfast daily, so after a good night’s rest, feeling refreshed I headed to the Tauro restaurant, our designated breakfast spot.  The Tauro is the steakhouse by night, a very nice little place, and the breakfast is well done.  They have 2 self-serve tables, one with fresh fruit, rolls, spreads, cheeses, etc., and the other with fresh berries, cereals, and other assorted breakfast goodies.  Then they bring a menu from which you can order eggs, omelets, waffles, etc.   The fact that everything is in Spanish, and I don’t speak Spanish, proves interesting.  The waiter speaks minimal English, but his English is better than my extremely limited Spanish.  I try talking to him in French, but no hubo suerte, he doesn’t speak French either and I’ve exhausted my limited language capabilities.  All this means is I end up with some of the wrong ingredients in my omelet.  No matter, it’s delicious none the less.

Majestic Casino, Panama City, Panama


When the tournament starts, I’m ready to go… we have 4 people at my table to start, with the rest of the stacks blinding off.   They start us with only 7 stacks, but soon would fill the other open seats with late entries and re-entries.  The level of play was a mix of loose, bad, crazy.  There was one online qualifier in the 2 seat who was solid, I was in the 5, a young local kid on my left in the 6 who liked to see a lot of flops but seemed to play well post, and the 8 seat was a local person who was more interested in his cell phone than the poker game at first… once he put the cell phone away, he became quite the loose caller.  It didn’t take long for new players to trickle in… another online qualifier who I think was Canadian sat in the 3 seat… young guy who liked to make moves.  An older South American gentleman in 9 who arrived looking all serious, with Blue Shark Optic sun glasses on, and proceeded to be the biggest whale at the table.  His very first hand was an open to 11x which he won uncontested.  We would soon learn this was not his standard play however… his standard play was to limp in and call any raises.  Another local filled in seat 7, a very heavy set man who I called “the bomber” in my head, because he played fairly tight but when he had a hand he would bomb away with big bets.  This is the guy you want to call liberally on deep stacks when he opens for a raise, because if he pots the flop and you can beat a strong 1 pair hand (top/top or a premium overpair), you will get his stack as he will go pot/pot/pot/call your shove.   The read was easy to get, the first 2 times he did this… overbet flop, potted turn, showed AA when everyone mucked, then again later showing QQ when everyone mucked a ten high board.  Eventually the table fills up with 2 more locals, a guy who is moved from another table with a normal stack on my right in the 4 seat, and a new late entry to the 10 seat… which we know is a late entry because he comes to the table not with a normal denomination of chips for the starting stack, but with 5K chips + 1K chips. 

I should pause briefly to clarify, when I refer to someone as a “local”, that’s not truly precise.  A true local I suppose would be a Panamanian, but I’m referring to South Americans in general.  There were people there from Chile, Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, Costa Rica, etc., as well as the US, Canada, Great Britain, and Israel (at least, I’m sure more countries were represented, but that’s what  I saw on update sheets later in the event).  In so much as this event is hosted in the back yard of the South American countries, and telling the South Americans from Non-South American’s is fairly easy, if feels natural to group the Latin Americans into the locals category while I type.

On to the play.


Guess Who Won the High Card for the Button


Early play is fairly uneventful.  My stack dwindles from the starting 12K to about 9K on the heels of some failed raises and missed boards, as the majority of the locals along my left love to call.  I did win one pot early at the 50/100 level thanks to a miscue from the sunglasses local in the 9 seat… it folds to me and I open to 250 with JhTh.  The 6 seat flats, 8 calls from the SB, then the 9 takes back his big blind chips and tosses in a 500 chip + 2 green 25 chips (He had no black 100 chips at the time).  The dealer announces raise and he says no he just wants to call, he’s throwing the green chips out for change (so he can “call” and get 3 black chips back for change).  The problem is he didn’t say call, he said nothing, the dealer explains it to him and he’s cleary not happy, but the raise stands, and it’s back to me.  I seize the opportunity and 4-bet to 1350.  Everyone mucks and I take it down preflop.

A while later I pick up a few chips on a bluff against the Canadian on my right.   Action folded around to his button, and I knew instantly he was going to raise extremely wide… he checks his hole cards, then surveys the situation (he was in his ipad not paying attention) and when he sees it’s folded to him you can see the light bulb go on and he reaches for chips… a tell that he does not have a big hand.   It was 100/200 and he makes it 525, his standard open.  The SB folds and I defended my BB holding 98o with a call.  In retrospect, knowing he wasn’t strong I feel like 3-betting might have been a better option, but I don’t hate a call.  I had a pretty tight image at this point in time as I hadn’t played a hand in a while, and I’m pretty sure he thought I was simply waiting for a hand to get involved after nothing going well for me the first couple levels.  The flop came down AQ7 rainbow, and I checked to him, planning to call a bet as though I have an ace, with an eye to bluff later if he slows down.  He surprised me however and checked behind me.  Now I think he has some marginal showdown value like a small pair, as I think he would bet a Q, an A, or a gut shot like KJ/KT/JT.  The turn was an offsuit 5 giving me a gut shot, and I went through with my plan and bet 600.  He tanks for a bit, then calls.  I have seen him float flops before on the 2 seat, and although this is a bit different a situation, I feel confident he’s got marginal showdown value only in this spot, and my image would be enough to convince him I had the ace, so when the river didn’t produce the 6 I needed for a straight, I fired anyway for 1100.  He goes into the tank for a long time, counts out the call, and I can feel him watching me for a read but I just kept staring relaxed at the board.  Eventually he mucks. 

I pick up another  nice pot at the 100/200/25 level.  I look down at KK in middle position, and open the pot to 525.  It folds around to the 1 seat in the SB who 3-bets it large to 2150.  This guy has already shown a light 3b, and he’s shown the ability to fold, so I felt that flat calling was superior here to 4-betting since his sizing was so large… my 4b would have to be like 40-50% of my stack, obviously a monster, and moving all in would allow him to get away from his more marginal 3b’s… even though I would still get action from JJ+/AK, he had enough worse hands in his 3-betting range that I didn’t want to fold out, when I could leave him out of position in the lead, and let him bet into me on the flop big.  He didn't disappoint with a c-bet, but I didn’t feel the need to press his action on the flop, as it produced a K in the door, and ended up with KQ5.  He lead out 3.1K which I just called.  Not as a slow play exactly, but because it’s so unlikely he’s got a real hand here when I hold 3 of the kings.  He can have AQ, some worse ace, and quite a few pocket pairs that are drawing dead to running cards.  So there’s little point in raising now.  Although my flop call will look scary to all of these marginal hands, and he will probably slow down, I’m at least giving him a chance to hit a Q if he’s got AQ, or a ten if he’s got TT.  Raising only folds those out, and only gets action from AK+ (AK, AA, QQ, 55) but getting  that action on the flop is irrelevant anyway, as I can bypass it now and get it on the turn with no problem.  So I’m not losing any value from the few strong hands he can hold, only deferring it to the turn.  The turn paired the 5 locking things up nicely, and he checked to me.  I checked back, hoping he would hit his hand on the river (or make a silly bluff, but that was a long shot I thought).  The river was a 3, and he checked again.  I bet 3K, probably too big given the situation, but at the time I went with it because it was the most I could bet and still be less than his flop c-bet size.  He throws his hands up, makes a gesture of disgust, then shakes his head and mucks 66 face up.

At the 150/300/50 level came an interesting, big pot.  The Blue Shark sunglasses local in the 9 seat opens to 900 from UTG, and the local in the 10 seat who had newly arrived with the pretty 5K chips flats.  I opted to overcall with 88.  I wasn’t too sure about the profitability of squeezing here on a 40bb stack, and would probably have to fold to a 5b, which didn’t sound like a fun option.  I thought my flat might bring additional callers however, and I could simply set mine for 3x as my initial plan, and adjust from there.   Action folded around to the 8 seat in the BB, who by this time was short with a little over 3K to start the hand.  He looks at his cards and tanks, not happy but taking in the situation.  I’m pretty sure he’s got some marginal hand, and am prepared to call him if he shoves.  While he’s thinking and counting his remaining chips, I make my plan, deciding if he shoved and got called, I was going to reshove in an effort to isolate him, weighing the prospects of isolation actually happening successfully vs. getting called by worse hands.  I felt fairly confident the general play for my opponents holding 99+ would be to move all in over the BB’s shove if it came, so was comfortable with that plan.  And the final part of the plan was to fold if the BB shoved and another player (particularly the raiser) moved all in. 

This plan never got put into practice however, as the BB after much deliberation, decided to make the call instead of shoving.  The flop came down 995 rainbow, and the BB grabbed his remaining stack and forcefully slammed it over the betting line, an all in wager of 2200.  A stop and go?  No, I was 99.9% sure this guy had no idea what that play was.  This reeked of a hand like 5x to me.  The preflop raiser mucked, then the new guy in seat 10 announced “raise” and tossed in a single 5K chip.  Now it was my turn to go into the tank.  New guy is trying to isolate, but what’s his range?  It seemed strange to me for him to make this play with a 9.  It seems to me he will have a hand he thinks is beating the BB, but does not want action behind him.  Would he flat the initial raiser with TT+?  I had no reads, he was new to the table, so I assumed he might… at least TT, maybe JJ… and not likely QQ+ as those would be highly likely to 3b preflop.  He might also take this line with the other 8’s, 77, 66, A5, K5s (don’t know if he calls an UTG raise with this, but given the play I saw from the locals in general, it would not have surprised me), or maybe even smaller pocket pairs or a hand like AJ high if he wasn’t reading the situation well.   I made the decision that my 88 was ahead more often than not here, maybe significantly so, and with a huge pot already built, there was no reasonable way to not go for it.  I announced “all-in”, and moved my stacks over the betting line. 

Action went back to the new player who surprised me by not calling quickly (he had just put 50+900+5K in the pot after all, and only had 6050 left).  At this point the dealer, who was one of the few (the only one I came across personally, actually) that wasn’t a poker dealer but had been recruited from the pit to help out, started making change for the chips and throwing chips in the pot, completely screwing up the side pot, a concept she was clearly unfamiliar with.  Several players told her to stop what she was doing and was trying to explain (both in Spanish and English lol) but she wasn’t getting it and was continuing her mixture of chips in the main pot and our side pot bets.  Finally she stopped with the chips, and now was trying to figure out what to do, so I asked her to call the floor.  The floor person came over and we explained what was happening, and she scrolled the action back to recreate it to the point where our dealer got lost.  While the floor person was figuring this out, someone says “wait, where’s his cards?” pointing to seat 10, who no longer had cards visible in front of him.  There was a pile of seat assignment paperwork between him and the dealer next to the dealers box that had never been organized or removed, and somehow his cards got slid into that pile (but not near the muck).  I could see them sticking out  slightly, and pointed saying, his cards are right there, in the paperwork, slide them out carefully.  Seat 10 didn’t seem to like that I was making a concerted effort to keep his hand “live”, which probably made me look much stronger than 88 in retrospect (he probably thought I had 55 or A9).  Once he had his cards and the action was reconstructed, it was 7800 more to him (which covered since he only had 6K left).  After all this commotion, he still tanked for about 30 more seconds, then finally he reached for… his cards! and tossed them into the muck.    The floor now awarded me the side pot and said turn them over for the main… the BB produced 57o and was drawing very thin, soon to be dead on the turn when an 8 peeled off to fill me up.

There were only 1 or 2 more eventful hands until my eventual bust out, which came on level 12 with 21bb’s left.  Action folded around to me in the SB and I looked down at AcKs.  I opted to make a normal raise, hoping to induce action from the BB, who was a loose and crazy player.  He had come to our table short, and got his chips in bad 3 times, sucking out each one, to build a big stack quickly (perhaps this should have been a warning to me lol).   So I raise and he calls, and we see a flop of QcJcTc.  I c-bet and he quickly moves me all in, which I of course call.  He turns over QdTd, and the Q on the turn quickly seals my fate to a 1 out Royal draw that doesn’t bear fruit.

Over all It was a fun experience, and with the exception of that one pit dealer, a well run day 1A.  I’m going to break this trip report here, but will come back with part 2 later where I’ll share some more nuggets about my trip in general, as well as some tales from the cash game action (and I do mean action lol).