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35th Place, 2005 WSOP $1500

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  • 35th Place, 2005 WSOP $1500

    35th Place, 2005 WSOP Event #22 $1500 NLHE

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect at my first major poker tournament. Sure, I've played in many tournaments before, both online and live but this was the WSOP. This was different. This was where the professionals use sneaky play to make amazing reads, figuring out what your hole cards were before you even looked at them. This was where you can bust out in 3 hands if you didn't bring your A+ game and that might not even be enough to take on these guys. I knew I had skill but there was no way I could even hope to be competitive with the pros.

    Or so I thought ...

    I had picked up my WSOP registration card from the Rio the other evening so I already knew where I was to sit to receive my punishment. I put on my iPod shuffle to help get focused and in the zone and wandered around the room the long way as I slowly headed over to Table 5, Seat 10. I took my seat and waited to see who else was at my table. As the table filled, I didn't recognize any faces from TV so things at least were starting off ok. People started whispering and pointing at other tables as they spotted pros around the room. Two tables to my right sat Daniel Negreanu, a few beyond that, Chris Ferguson. I took a closer look at the nearby tables and saw even more world class players. This was going to be a tough field. The noon hour arrived, "Shuffle up and deal!" pierced the air and the game was on.

    I get dealt 73o so I muck and watch the bloodbath of action unfold. But to my surprise, the poker playing that ensued was normal. Preflop raise of 3x, several folds, only 2 people see a flop. Hmm. Well, this will get ugly on the next hand. Nope. Hand after hand, the play was just like I'd played many times before in smaller tourneys and online. I managed to get some good cards, hit top pair and win a nice pot. Soon after, another pot. I steal the blinds. I re-raise a raiser and he folds. About 30 min after we start, Daniel Negreanu busted out at one of the other tables. A few other pros were sent walking as well. This was starting to look like a normal game after all. Time started to fly by as I folded bad cards and aggressively played good ones. I was in the zone. Hand after hand I added chips to my stack and preserved the ones I already won. Sometime in the afternoon the announcer came on the mike and announced that 1300 people were out, only 700 were left. I had already made it through 2/3 of the field without even breaking a sweat!

    The day continued, at times winning chips, at others, losing chips but managing to stay out of those tough spots forcing you to make decisions for all of your chips. I ran into some bad cards and bad luck forcing me to make some tough folds. My chip stack was running lower and lower as the day dragged on. Looking up, I saw that we had 205 people left in the tourney. This event paid the top 200. I had roughly 5 times the big blind so I was now stuck between trying to double up and just trying to place in my first ever WSOP event. After talking with some fellow PSO'ers (snoooooop and johannes, who were also in the event) they convinced me that placing in my first event would be a confidence booster and cashing in on my first major tourney was nothing to sneeze at. I agree and sit on my hands while the medium and big stacks steal blind after blind as people wait for the bubble to burst. 204 people left. 203. 202. Finally, 201 people and I had enough to make it one more round. I was sitting at the table with Peter Lee from Queens, NY and he had about the same number of chips as me. He was in his first WSOP event as well and we were both hoping we'd last just long enough to cash out and place. 200 people. The bubble had burst. We'd made it to the money!

    Now that I'd placed, my goal now was to win the event. I needed to get chips fast so I was looking for an all-in hand. I got AK and pushed all-in. One caller and I doubled up. Shortly after, I doubled up again with a great hand. And again. I got AQ, raised preflop, get 2 callers and made the nut straight. I busted 2 people out and now my chip stack is around 30K. I'm slightly less than average but in a far better place than when I was on the bubble. One of the players I busted out with my AQ had busted out Phil Gordon. This wasn't going to be a tricky, crazy pro dominating event after all. Since the bubble burst, we'd gone from 200 players to around 160 in about 20 minutes with that number falling every minute. Before I knew it, we were at 90 players and I was still hanging in there. Sometime later, a PSO'er came by to tell me that I was the last person remaining from the PSO players.

    A table broke and Asher Derei sat down on my right and I recognized him as a really good pro player. He was going to be the first pro I've faced all game. Hmm, some guy sat down on my left wearing a 2005 WPO bracelet. It's Raul Paez, another really good pro player. At this point, my stack was definitely below average so I was limited on what I could do. I won a few pots and kept my stack from decreasing but the blinds kept on their upward march. Asher kept raising into me everytime he was first to act in the small blind and I had the big. His stack was around 60K and mine was around 15K. I really needed to pull the trigger with an OK hand with outs and re-raise him but everytime he'd raise, I'd have garbage. 27o. 72o. 73o. I was definitely concerned about him calling my re-raise with anything just to bust me out. I knew that I wanted to win the event but in hindsight, my play was saying that I wanted to survive as long as I could. I kept waiting for a good hand to pop him with but the situation didn't arise. We played one last hand around 2am and broke for the night to resume again at 2pm the next day. I had 15K in chips, Asher had 60K and Raul had 41K. The others were about the same. I was the short stack at the table and knew I had to make a move.

    I went back to my room to get some well deserved sleep after a 14 hour day of poker, the longest I'd ever played. I reflected a bit on my play and referenced a few poker books I brought along on my trip. The next day, awake, showered, dressed and fed, I headed back to the Rio for day 2. I did my normal routine, listened to my iPod, and got into the zone for the 2pm start.

    The cards we dealt and after a few hands, I found myself with 22. Asher raised UTG+1 and I calculated my chipstack. Something told me that Asher wasn't strong so I pushed all-in. Raul on my left cursed in spanish, pondered for a while and folded. Several more folds and another long pause. A muttered curse from across the table and they fold as well. It's back to Asher and he said since he's getting 2:1 to call me he has to. He flips over A4o and I flip over 22. I dodged raindrops and doubled up to 30K. Raul and the other person that gave thought to calling had mucked 77 and 88. Asher was really miffed by my play but at the time I felt it was correct. I was short stacked, the very large blinds were coming and I needed a good hand. 22 wasn't very strong but I figured it'd be the best I'd see before the blinds. I discussed the hand later with Paul Phillips and he said that if I was first in, it was a fine all-in. Since Asher raised first and represented strength, I should have tossed it. Raul and the other person weren't worried about calling me, they were worried about Asher re-raising them all-in if they called. The hand worked out for me in the end but I'm not sure if it was the right play or not. It was certainly the most aggressive play I'd made the entire tourney.

    My table broke and I was seated at a new table with Greg Raymer, Mark Seif and Toto Leonidas. Mark had an absolute obscene amount of chips, somewhere around 350K and he was the overall chipleader of the tournament. He was beating people over the head which intimidated me a bit and caused me to make what I felt was a mistake in hindsight. Toto is UTG and limped in. I found myself holding KQo UTG+1 with about 25K in chips so I limped in to see a flop cheap as well. A third player does the same. Mark made a minimum raise from the BB, and Toto called the raise. I called the raise to see a flop and so does player3. The flop came 8AJ all rainbow. Mark checked, Toto checked, I checked and player3 checked. The next card was an 8. Mark bet the minimum and Toto called. At this point the pot had roughly 27K in chips (of which I contributed 5000) and it's T2400 to call. I held the chips in my hand and thought for a bit. I needed a 10 to make the nut straight giving me 4 outs, or roughly an 8% chance of making it. I know I'm beat at the moment so my best chance was to improve. At this point, due to a combination of long play, intimidation and my subconscious telling me to survive, I totally blew the pot odds calculation and laid down my KQ. My brain said better to save chips to fight a battle when you are in the lead. Player3 called. The river was the 10. Ugh. Mark made a huge bet and everyone folded. I know that if I re-raised all-in, Mark would have been forced to call me due to the odds he would have been getting. Most of the time it's not the hand you bust out of the tournament with that cost you a shot of winning. It's usually an earlier misplayed hand. This was mine.

    Shortly after I have about 11K in chips with blinds at 1800/3600 and a 400 ante. I'm definitely in the red zone. Greg Raymer limped in, player2 limped in, Toto limped in and I see AsKd so I push all-in. All 3 callers call my all-in. The flop came 5d 9h 2c. Everyone checked. The turn was the 2h. Everyone checked. The river was the 3h. Player2 bets and Toto and Greg folded. Player2 turned over A10h to make the runner-runner nut flush. I was out in 35th place and got $9750 for my 2 day effort.

    In all, it wasn't nearly as scary, tricky or painful as I thought it would be. There are honestly as many or more bad players in the field as there are good players and pros since anyone with $1500 can play. I would recommend anyone that does well on PSO with the bankroll to seriously consider playing in the WSOP. It was a fantastic event and it really isn't out of our league. Play a solid game, practice, study and think about your game and you'll be cashing in sometime soon. You'll definitely see me back at the WSOP.

    * As a side note, remember the guy that was on the felt with me on Day 1 on the bubble? Peter Lee from Queens, NY? He had an amazing rush on day 2 and ended up at the final table 3rd in chips. He finished 5th and won $147,230. Not bad for his first WSOP event ever. Chip and a chair ...

  • #2
    Great report and great job!!!!!



    • #3
      Thanks for a great report and many congratulations!!!


      • #4
        Great report! Congratulations on a job well done!



        • #5
          Very nice job and great report.



          • #6
            Great report! Very encouraging for those of us considering entering the WSOP as well!


            • #7
              Great job of playing Joe and a nice report! Was nice meeting you & hoping to seeing you at the final table soon.
              2 Time Bracelet Winner


              • #8
                Congrats, Very Nice Job! Great Trip Report!


                • #9


                  • #10


                    • #11
                      Congrats!!!!!!!....Truly inspiring for us wannabes....



                      • #12
                        Congrats....well done!!!


                        • #13
                          WTG! And a totally awesome trip report!
                          Made it very tangible for us to all make it!


                          • #14
                            Congrats on winning a seat in the PSO LIVE TOUR GRAND FINALE!! I will be in contact with you very soon about an interview! Super job and we are all proud of you!!


                            • #15
                              I was tempted

                              I almost came over to wish you luck but I didn't want to disrupt your concentration. I busted out about 330th. I agree with your initial impressions. My first table was playing a limit game and I was able to build up to $7000 before the table broke. My table change put me in the big blind with Paul Darden on the button and Hon Lee two to his right. Yikes!

                              My first hand in the blind, I get AhKh and the flop comes AT3 with two hearts. Darden had raised 3x blind after all folded to him and I called hoping to induce a bluff from him if I hit my hand. He bet 1/2 pot and I raise 1/2 pot. He called to see the third heart on the turn. I check, he checks. Hmm, I think he has a smaller flush and I have him outstacked. The river is a blank and I bet 3/4 pot. He thinks for a while and moves all in with a Q high flush. I call and feel great about busting out the Card Player magazine cover boy.

                              I went on an 1 1/2 hour run of being more card dead than I have ever been when my final hand came up. Hon Lee, who had a mountain of chips, had been raising almost every unraised pot. He raises 6x my BB. I look down to see PP TT. I put him on Ax or maybe even a suited connecter because he loves those hands. I move all in and he gives me this spiel about having to call as a matter of pride. He calls and flips A6 offsuit. The flop is harmless and the turn and river are both sixes. I was angry but I hope I appeared calm as I shook his hand.

                              When I made this last play, I had 9x the BB and winning the hand would have put me in a much better place. My read was right, the cards were wrong. I guess that is poker.



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