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World Poker Tour in Aruba

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  • World Poker Tour in Aruba

    This is my version of a trip report. MWIG may write more later.


    P.S. For the record...if I wasn't consistent: MWIG = Mike

    The trip was from September 24 to October 2, 2005. MWIG won this trip at by winning an $11 super-sat, winning him an entry to the $300 satellite, which he then won outright. The trip included the $5000 entry to the main tournament in Aruba, plus air fare for two and hotel for 8 nights.

    Flying straight from Charlotte we arrived in Aruba, walked the property, made dinner reservations at a Brazillian steakhouse called Amazonia (highly recommended). Food was excellent. Loads of meat brought to you..all you can eat at $36.50 per person.

    The first day there, we played some table games...Four Card Poker Black Jack, and then video poker. After getting the nerve up, I wanted to play real POKER, but MWIG was tired. :

    Sunday morning there was a Welcome Seminar with several pros speaking. Notably: Antonio Esfandiari, Annie Duke, Krazy Kanuck, Roxie Rose, Devilfish Ulliot, and Phil Helmuth. We spoke to Devilfish and got to have a picture taken with him. He had said in his speech about keeping family first, not letting this poker take over your life, missing out on your family.

    The $65 satellite's started every day at noon. This being my first live satellite, I was not exactly comfortable with the $65. (major sign of a beginner, I know) A man (playing with his the SAME table) offered for our table to be a $120 table, paying for two spots into the $500 satellite. I was reluctant, as it was almost twice what I was not comfortable with in the beginning.. He claimed it would be cheaper than playing two tournies. (of which I had no intention of doing) Not intending to be the least bit cocky, I innocently asked, "But what if you plan on winning?... It would be a waste of $55." Laughter, then one of the players said how sorry I'd be if I made second. Well...thankfully, playing 7 hands, I DIDN'T have to eat my words. I won. (I've relived that many times...I can only imagine what they all must have thought of me) ops:

    Mike, without much detail, also won his satellite.

    So at 3pm...we sit down at our tables. I am sitting right next to Paul Magriel, who is sitting next to his student, Kevin. Two seats to my right is the kid that won the FSN Pokernight Live tourney. I played two was just stupid how I's some details:

    Gina has pocket queens...played all the way to the river..all of her stack except $550 was in the pot. We'd started with $2000. So the pot was more than $2900. A flush was flopped, but I bet anyway to push people out. It worked, all expcept one. A paired 8 was on the turn and nothing special on the river. So the table is three cards to a flush, a pair of 8's and that's it. The other player goes all-in.... I, oh so reluctantly....heart pounding chicken-little folded. I think POT ODDS said call, but I hadn't figured that out, I was just seeing me being out in the one hand I played....which was only one in the first hour. After the table discussion was that the guy said he had nothing....then said he had jacks....Whatever..I should have called. I know it....I just didn't want to possibly be out so soon.

    The next hand was non-circumstational. I had to go all-in with A9 suited....and died. Just as I was going all in Mike had just gotten out of his tourney game too.

    Mike's $500 tourney details:
    There was one notable at his table, but he didn't recognize him. He played three hands, loosing half of his stack to a set of Queens after flopping a set of Tens. The very next hand, he went all-in with a set of 7's, losing to a set of Kings.

    After getting out similtaneously, we headed to the casino for 4/8 LIMIT Hold'em, my first time playing live cash poker. I was sick to my stomach to begin with. I lost a couple of big hands, calling people down. Right away we realized there is no threatening bet to LIMIT many callers...right to the river. I don't think we ever saw AA hold up at these LIMIT cash tables...MAYBE once. We saw KK's hold up one time out of six.

    The reason we played LIMIT: Mike had gone to play 1-2 No-Limit, the rake was $7 for 30 minutes. 5-5 was $14 for every 30 minutes. The 4-8 LIMIT table rake was 10%, up to $4. BUT you had to watch the dealers 8O the beginning of the week, they were raking more than was allowed many times over. We found that many of the dealers in the casino were hired for the short term and had only gone through a two week poker dealing training course. SO you also had to watch WHO the pot was to be paid to. Many times they were headed to the wrong person....It was sadly funny. :?

    Sunday night there was a welcome dinner on the beach. We met some more famous people. We found out Scotty Nguyen was our neighbor in the hotel. After taking a picture with him, Jon Phan was also with him. Scotty was getting a lot of attention. MWIG asked John if I could have a picture with him. He seemed relieved when he said, "yes...everyone passes over me."

    After dinner, we headed back to the casino for more 4/8 LIMIT. The first night we played..people were playing nutty cards...we walked out with most of their money. It was a nice start to the gambling part of the vacation. Both of us winning the $65 satellites and then doing very well in the cash games.

    We went to bed at 2:30am and back up at 7:15am with 2 scuba dives planned for the morning. The dives were great. As soon as we got back we showered and ran over to the satellite room to play the $65 tournies. Neither of us won those.

    Gina's details:
    Short stack with the final four of the sat. I played a total of 4 hands. I limped in with A9suited (UTG). UTG+1 folded. SB (the big stack) raised another 600. BB folded. Checking my stack, it was now or never, I went all-in.He called, and reluctantly flipped over AK. We both hit our ace, but nothing further and so he beat me out of that one.

    Then we walked down the street to a pub called Salt & Pepper for lunch. Good food. The S&P Hamburger was huge. MWIG had asked for cheese. A monsterous amount was put on it.

    Came back...forgetting how tired lack of sleep plus the two dives can make you, we took a nap. I slept two hours, but Mike was exhausted, sleeping four. I went to play 4/8 Limit again, feeling almost at home by this point (too many hours in the poker room?) :shifty:

    We went to dinner at the Hyatt, the resort next door, Runias. EXCELLENT EXCELLENT food. The best we had all week. Filet mignon& caesar salad and creme brulee.

    The next day, after two great dives, we again did not do well. It was discouraging having two back to back crumby days after doing so well the first day. My playing style changed due to this. Unfortunately, I became a WEAK ROCK, folding almost everything and calling on only great hands...getting rivered most of the time. So I got eaten up.

    We ran into Annie Duke at breakfast, so I took a picture of her and Mike. (I'd pose with the boys, he'd pose with girls...You can guess who has more pictures taken! 8) ) This was Mike's first day in the main tournament (third FLIGHT). Chris Ferguson showed up late. The airlines had lost his luggage and he chose to wait. Annie Duke was alone with the non-pros. Chip Jett's wife, Corina played at Scotty's table. Phil Ivy was playing at another table. Majority of the pro's were in FLIGHT 3 with MWIG. We think maybe it was a request, so they could come later than the rest of the players. Maybe. Meanwhile I tried another $65 table, making it to 4th again; nothing dramatic happened.

    $65 TOURNEY STRUCTURE: $1500 CHIPS, 25/50 with 15 minute levels. Kind of a "crap shoot".

    Mike was still in. I headed to the casino, I recognized the Unibomber, Phil Laak. He was sitting on the hotel lobby couch reading a magazine. I sat down and said, "Excuse me, but are you who I think you are?" He said, "I'm Phil" Relieved, I said "You are. My name is Gina." We talked about the tourney. He was already out. I asked if he minded having a picture taken with me. So I aksed one of the concierge ladies to take it for us. It was hysterical. In fact...unbelievable. The picture turned out great. Framed by the UltimetBet sign, the Casino sign. This very kind lady took a lot of time...literally setting the picture up. Phil amazed, asked nicely, "Is this for real?"I said, "I have no idea. I am so sorry." He didn't mind, but as soon as the picture was taken, he asked if it was digital and could we get to see it. He was very kind. I thanked and apologized again.

    After that I went to casino and joined a 5-10 LIMIT with a varying rake, established by the starting player. Initially $1 rake. So I joined when there was a total of 5 including me to play. When there was 6 the floor person tried to raise it to $4, I blurted out (mind you I'd had two rough days of playing in a row), in the middle of a hand, "I'm out then. I only joined this table BECAUSE it was $1 rake. " So we agreed upon a $2 rake and continued play. The rake was to vary with the number of players. I made about $5 prior to dinner. I had made reservations at the Sunset Grille at the Radisson where we were staying, also where the tourney was held. I ordered prior to Mike getting there. We had spinach salad and chateaubriand, and some 20-min dessert. It was all very good. The restaurant is supposed to be the only 4 diamond steak house on the island. (However the filet at Ruinas was considerably better). Mike had recieved two dinner coupons (one from a gentleman who Mike had busted out, telling Mike he was the nicest person at the table) we had $40 off the dinner tab, making it cost us about $79.

    Mike made it all day..ending with $16,900 with BB being $1200 and $200 antes in the morning. We estimated 240 players for Day 2. Mike was in 147th-ish place starting Day 2.

    However after dinner, I went back to the casino to play. I ran into Antonio's dad, Bijan, as was typical, only just finding out who he was, after playing with him daily. He's a great man. We all throughly enjoyed him and regretted when he left a day early (flight issues). He asked if I'd had a picutre with Antonio yet. I said, no and that he scared me. Bijan insisted that Antonio was a big teddy bear.

    Later, Paul came in (the younger son...who was stiLl in the tourney...Antonio was already unexpectely out). Paul was in 3rd place starting into Day 2. Bijan made fun and told Paul (after I had gotten a picture with him) that his brother Antonio scared me.

    Mike showed up at 10:20. We'd already put his name on the board and had a seat waiting for him.. It was a great table that night. Very fun, except a very annoying dignified SLOW ROLLER. It was throughly disgusting when it goes against you... He always slow rolled the winning hand. We played to 1:30am then head for bed, so Mike could get some decent sleep for Day 2.

    At breakfast we ran into Paul and Antonio and Clonie Gowen, altogether. Paul tells Antonio I am scared of him. I turn blaring red. Antonio just looked and went to the buffet.

    We ate then headed straight to the main tourney. Mike's 9 person table consisted of DevilFish & Eric Seidell. Mike lasted an hour and a half, going out with AQ (short stacked with 8x BB) Seidell said that he reluctantly had to call with AJs, because it was only $5400 more. Seidell took it on the turn with a flush and Mike was out. We both played another $65 tourney that day....neither of us doing well at all. I believe my magic number is 4th... (at PSO...always on the BUBBLE)

    Friday night Antonio (I would say "snuck", because he scared me to death) snuck up behind me...while I was holding a 92/s. He innocently says "Why are you scared of me?" My answer was the lame..."I don't know..I just am" Bijan is standing there getting a great kick out of this. Knowing I carried my camera with me, he told me to get it out. He took a nice picture of the two of us. I was literally shaking. Its unexpalinable. I have no idea why.

    Friday was a good day of playing. Jon Vorhause (auther of Killer Poker) sat down with us. When Mike left, he scooted over to me and he coached me and his nephew along. I quit about 5 in the morning, Mike still at video poker. The next morning, Jon said that our discussion gave him the plans for his next book, entitled "My Game is Broken, and I Don't Know How To Fix It"

    Other pictures I managed to take: Vince Van Patton. I was playing at a table next to his. I caught his eye and indicated my camera. He gladly posed. I wish the lighting had been better. It would have been a nice picture.

    I think it was Saturday evening that we ran into Chris Ferguson. Bijan comes running over to our table an asked if I wanted a picture with him. I jumped up...mid hand...folded. And we ran over to catch Chris. I introduce, asked if he minded, and then we posed. Cool picture. Bijan did well with my camera,...many times that week. Chris asked if I wanted to join them to go to Mambo Jambo...a club, I think. I declined telling him I was going to continue playing my table. (not your typical groupie!)

    Unfortuantely the play Saturday was dreadful. Mike and I were rivered to death by a very aggressive calling station. Any bet, she'd call with any, and I do mean ANY, part of the flop. For example Q3/o...she'd pair her 3...and then generally RIVER the winning hand. After loosing the initial buy-in plus an extra $100 (which is the only time we EVER pulled out more money)...I stopped playing anything. Mike was at video I roamed the poker room. (Its small) I ran into Phil Laak again, spoke to his girlfirend/wife actress, Jennifer Tilley (not sure which). She's very kind. She showed me her bracelet from the World Series win. I was invited to sit down and play. I declined...tempting as it was. They were playing 2-4 No-Limit Hold-Em. I watched Phil Helmuth and two other pros (can't remember names) and two other un-knowns (to me) play some crazy version of 5-card RAZZ draw game. (Lowest hand wins, but with a re-draw pre-flop). Mounds of cash. I, unfortuantely, didn't get any pictures of that...or them.. I kind of wasn't in th mood. :?

    Sunday we checked out with no playing. Mike and I played head-ups at the airport, and got a laugh from one of our play-mates about how we never quit.

    While we were there, we were asked if we had leases on the seats. Truth is: Sort-of. When we left to eat, we'd tell them we were going. They'd put our names on the board with an "(e)" next to it. By the time we got back we were top of the list and first to sit down. I don't know if all poker rooms do that, but it was pretty nice not to have to wait for seats to open up.

    All in all. Yes a great win. A great trip. Relaxing? ...not in the least. It was nice to get away from the daily duties, the house and and honestly even our 4 kids. Just the two of us with 15 years of marriage celebrating with all our new poker buddies :wink:

    We met some great people..AND LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT YEAR.


    High hopes...yes... I'd hope to make it into the main tourney, with Mike and I at final table. Disappointing..yes.. But there's always next year. :mrgreen:

  • #2
    Hey Gina,

    I just came across this great report! Thanks for all the details! I would love to see the pictures you took with the pros - are they posted anywhere for us to see? Pretty pleeeeease :lol: ??


    • #4
      Excellent trip report Gina.

      I've put it into Scoop Magazine with your pictures as our current Best Trip report.

      Thank you for taking the time.



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