Just a quick mini-update from the City of Sin.
Continuing my travel troubles, I was supposed to be on a 9pm flight arriving in Las Vegas at 10pm. First they moved the gate and then they moved the boarding time. By the time my feet hit Las Vegas soil it was after midnight.
This weekend is my dad’s 60th birthday. Before the blogger tournament dates were even set I asked my brothers and sister if they would like to come to Vegas and celebrate with the old man. It would be several months later that I would find out the blogger tourney was the same weekend so it seemed like a match made in heaven.
We rolled into the Excalibur and I quickly threw my stuff in my room and my dad and I headed downstairs to meet the bloggers. We found some of the said degenerates in the poker room (duh!) and before long we were at the bar tossing back rounds. My dad went with the flow and hung out with us until about 3am and then he went to go crash.
I decided to talk Iggy into going into the poker room and before long we had a table full of bloggers tossing chips back and forth. Around 7am I pick up AKs in EP and raise it to $20. Otis starts talking about having to raise it and I tell him he should just go ahead and push it all in. At this point I have $700 in front of me and he has probably $900. I probably called a lot sooner than one would think necessary for such a raise but my thinking was:
a) Betting $900 into a $25 pot shouts weakness. Most people want action on their aces so normally when someone overbets like that, it means they want to push you off the hand.
b) If I would make this call for $100 I have to disregard the money and make the same call for $700.
Obviously, my mind had already raced through all the various scenarios from a pure poker odds point of view. I knew I was a massive, massive underdog to AA or KK. I figured I’m better than a coin flop to an underpair since I was suited but a monster favorite to hands like AQ. The all-in raise just smelled too fishy and I called. Of course, Otis shows AA and I take don’t improve.
Can you think of a better time to call it a night? Neither can I, so I go to bed.
Friday I go down to the Rio with my dad and I point out all of the top name pros. Oh, there’s Ivey. Hey, there’s Todd Brunson. We go eat lunch at the Sao Paulo CafÃ© in the Rio and 2005 WSOP winner, Joe Hachem, is at the table next to us.
Uh, Phil Ivey, Gavin Smith, and Chris Ferguson. TABLE CHANGE!!!
After lunch I see Chris “Jesus” Ferguson in the hallway and I say hi and we chat a bit. My dad is far from being a poker groupie but since I took my recent job he watches it on television and knows who all the top players are. I could tell he was excited about meeting Chris and Chris was, though seemingly in a hurry, as friendly as he could be towards my dad.
Later we head back to the Excalibur where we run into the usual blogger crew and after way too many beers I make my way up to my room presumably to change and meet my dad and my siblings for a trip downtown to the Freemont Experience. Unfortunately, I decide to log into my computer and find 58 messages from work in my inbox. I cancel on the trip downtown and spend the next hour or so reading and answering emails.
I go over and meet the blogger crew at the MGM after I clear out my inbox queue and I spend most of the time in the sports bar catching up with old and new friends. For some unknown reason I decide to play a little NL and put my name up on the $2/$5 and $5/$10 NL boards. Considering I didn’t sit down until 4am or so it’s not that surprising that within a very short period I’m the only blogger still at the MGM.
I’m mostly fighting to keep even for most of the session but I refuse to leave because the game is so juicy. There was one guy who was just a calling station but always managed to hit his miracle card on the river whenever I was in the pot with him. At one point I was down to $200 of my $500 buy-in but I know I can beat the game so I keep playing and eventually find myself up about $200. Then I get The Hand.
I pick up AA in LP and several people have limped in. I raise it to $30 (which is more than your standard 3X the BB but $20 – $30 opening raises were the norm at this table) and get called in two spots. Flop comes something like Q97 with two clubs. Check, check and I bet $100 (about pot) hoping to take the pot down right there. The player to my left all-in raises to $300 and the third player calls putting the action back on me. Again, I run through all the possible scenarios in my head and decide that since both players are relatively weak players that I might still have the best hand, I call. I’ll admit, I was somewhat lost in the hand at this point. The guy to my left going all-in surprised me and the caller totally had me confused because it was the previously mentioned calling station. His range of hands here is pretty wide open. At this point I’m thinking AQ and a flush draw but I don’t know who has what. I’m just hoping that I didn’t walk into QQ.
The turn is a meaningless card and he checks to me. Like I said I don’t know where I am in the hand (plus it’s close to 7am in the morning so I’m a little on the fuzzy side to boot) and I go back and forth between checking and pushing all in. Now the problem is, he’s got me covered by a good margin so with $900+ in the pot, with $400 behind I don’t have enough chips to push him off the hand. I can’t protect my hand so I’m essentially making a value bet if I think I’m still ahead and giving away money if I’m behind.
The more I think about it the more I think I should have just pushed. Had he bet, I would have called anyway. Plus, if the all in player ended up having the best hand, and I had the second best hand, the additional $800 in the pot would have gotten me back to a push on the hand. That’s what you get for playing poker at 7am.
The river was rather meaningless and he checked to me again. I check behind like a wuss and he shows QJ. The other guy was on a flush draw because he mucked his hand the second he saw the QJ. Aces hold up and I end up dragging down $900+ in that pot.
Saturday is a relatively early morning. I got in around 7am from the MGM and the blogger tourney begins at 10am. I catch a couple of hours of sleep and then head down to Caesar’s for the tournament.
I’ll leave it to April to give official counts but we had about 115 players. Phil Gordon and Alex were there when I showed up so I walked them in and handed them off to April so she could brief them on the morning activities. After the usual blogger milling around, Michael Craig made a repeat appearance (thanks Michael) and Jay Greenspan followed. Unfortunately I missed most of Michael and Jay’s presentations because I was collecting roshambo money. I met Howard Lederer out in the main poker room and showed him into the tourney area where everyone was gathered.
Howard’s topic of choice for the event was the pending gaming legislation before Congress. Howard has been actively involved in keeping poker on the legit side of the law and has spent some time in Washington DC with Chris Ferguson and Greg Raymer lobbying our elected officials. In fact, he’s joined the board of directors of the Poker Player’s Alliance and has hit up Full Tilt customers to join him in educating lawmakers about why online poker is a game of skill unlike black jack, slots, and almost every other casino game available over the Internet.
I spoke with him after his talk and he seemed very excited to be addressing the bloggers. As a group we have the opportunity to influence opinions and make people aware of how damaging misinformed legislation could be. If you have any concern about keeping online poker legal, I can’t urge you strongly enough to join the Poker Player’s Alliance (I did. It’s only $20) and get active on this very important issue. As Howard mentioned in his talk, many lawmakers just aren’t aware that poker is a skill-based game. Poker is being lumped in with black jack and other games of chance so your local lawmakers need to be made aware of the distinction. Join the PPA. Write your lawmakers. Write about it on your blog!
Phil Gordon followed Howard and echoed many of Howard’s thoughts on how important it is to change lawmaker’s perception of the game. After expressing his bitterness that Rafe Furst won his first WSOP bracelet this week while he has yet to adorn his wrist in WSOP gold, he served as tournament director for the roshambo contest. Everybody put up $20 which goes to Phil’s charity, Put a Bad Beat on Cancer. The winner was to receive one hour of coaching from Phil.
Let me just interrupt this little narrative to say that Phil Gordon and Rafe Furst really deserve a lot of kudos from the poker blogging community. Every time we’ve asked something of them, they’ve done their best to help. We tried to get Phil to come out to the Winter Classic in Dec but he had schedule conflicts. Then Rafe emails me and says even though neither of them can attend they want to do something so how about giving away a free copy of Final Table Poker to all the players. For this event, April had met Phil when he came out with us during Hanel’s wedding weekend. She followed up with him and he was more than happy to help.
When I spoke with Phil after the roshambo tournament he thanked me/us for all the positive support we’ve given him. If you don’t already have Phil and Rafe linked up on your blogs, show â€˜em some love.
With the pre-tournament festivities out of the way we kick off the main event. They busted our table after only a few orbits and I end up seated with Pauly, Emily, DoubleAs (I purchased a copy of his book, Pressure Poker, from right there at the table), Nickerson, Brent Stacks from Lord Admiral, Al Can’t Hang, Jay Greenspan, Change100, Dan (from PokerKats) and ??. I know I’m forgetting some folks, especially since people rotated in and out of the game. Chris Hughes was at the table for a short bit too. Again, sorry if I haven’t mentioned you. Send me a ping and I’ll add you. Tough table though and the cards weren’t helping. I couldn’t really get much going to grow my stack. I started the day with $4000 in chips and my stack never got above that amount. I had to do a lot of slugging it out for every pot I was in. The following hand was typical of my day.
I pick up KQ in EP and raise it 4X the BB. The table had been playing fairly tight and these were the two best cards I had seen in four orbits. Not my usual player here but I’m starting to feel some pressure to add some chips to my stack now that the antes have kicked in. I would prefer to just take the blinds but get called by the BB. Dammit!
Flop comes KTT. Sweet!
He checks, I make a pot sized bet, and after some thinking the BB calls. Okay, something smells fishy here. AT was the only hand I would even consider that had a ten in it and that didn’t seem like a call he would make out of position against an EP raiser. He has no draws with a hand that could call an EP raise unless he’s on something like AQ, or AJ and playing very poorly. And drawing hands tend to be either insta-call or fold. Something doesn’t smell right.
Turn is meaningless.
He checks, I check.
River is also meaningless.
He bets $100 into a $1500+ pot. I just look at him and say “Really? A hundred bucks into a $1500 pot?” I call and he shows AK. I’m not sure what the heck he was doing with that $100 bet but I’m glad I got off cheap.
My eventual demise came at the hands of Emily. After grinding all day I’m down to about 10BB and need to make something happen. I peek down and see JJ. I’m UTG so I raise about half my stack. Now, according to Emily she didn’t see my bet and she re-raises all-in for way more than I have. Everyone folds and with half my stack in the pot I would have called with any two cards. She turns up AJ. So, I’m a 70% favorite to win but I just know in the back of my head an ace is coming. I mean, I just ordered food and I had only taken a few bites. We had even joked when we placed our orders that the surest way to bust out of a tournament is to order food. Three people around the table announce they folded aces. If they’re actually telling the truth, I’m almost a lock. I’m a 92% favorite in the hand.
An important thing to remember in poker is that as long as the chance of something happening is greater than 0%, it will happen. When KQT hit the board giving Emily a straight I was now praying that the three people who said they tossed aces were lying because I’m drawing dead.
I stuck around and watched the final table play out. With so many good friends in there I’m not sure if I was rooting for anyone in particular but I certainly had my favorites. F-Train was certainly on my list though. Congrats to F-Train for taking it down.
If we’re keeping score, 3 of the last 4 WPBT events in Vegas have been won by people who have played on Murder’s Row. Granted, F-Train only played once while he was passing through town but 3 out of 4, baby! No other home game has that kind of track record.
Other memorable moments:
Franklin Sucks Out!
Franklin Ponders On Who He Will Ask To Share a Room With When He Gets Kicked Out of His
Our deep analysis of being able to use 20% off coupons for hookers and getting a free side dish of mashed potatoes.
Russell, our dealer saying that he deals a lot of tournaments and this is by far the funniest group of people he’s ever dealt to.
Seeing my former eToys cohort, Brian, make the final table. The Winter Classic was his first live tournament ever and he seemed very nervous to be around some of the bloggers who he felt were considerably better than him. This event he makes the final table! It’s a nice ego boost and just goes to show that if you keep working on your game and learning from your mistakes you can play with the best of â€˜em.
Al chanting Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi to help inspire Bobby Bracelet and being told to shut up by a player in the tournament going on next to ours. Of course, Al leads the cheer a second time just to tilt him.
Getting a chance to talk with Linda about life, poker, and the dangers of writing about well known poker players when they also happen to read your blog :-)
Oh there’s plenty more. I’m sure this won’t be my last post about the 2006 WPBT Summer Classic.
Lastly, some shout outs:
April! What a wonderful event. She’s been shooting me emails along the way during the planning and she’s just been on top of it from day one. Everything everybody experienced on Saturday was all of her hard work and effort. I’m sure she’s too modest to take full credit but I’m giving it to her.
Caesar’s and their Director of Poker Operations Vito Casucci. Now, I know a few folks were frustrated at how long it took to get the Crazy Pinapple game spread after they busted out of the tournament but all in all I think Caesar’s did a great job. There is always a moment when things can turn very, very wrong and Vito stepped in at exactly the right moment and did everything right. When I was checking in for the tournament I was told by the poker room cashier that I couldn’t register unless I had a player’s club card. Now, I had spent most of the morning collecting roshambo buy-ins so I didn’t get a chance to register until pretty late. I said “You’ve got to be joking. I can’t register to play in a tournament that we’ve organized unless I have a card? I’ve never heard of a player’s club card being mandatory to sit down and spend money in a casino.” The poker room cashier said “Yep, gotta have a card.” Now, here’s where things could have gotten ugly. I was getting a little pissed because, I don’t like being up at 10am in the morning but more importantly, the poker room cashier isn’t being very helpful. Okay, if I need a card then she should be telling me how to get one rather than getting that look on her face like she’s about to yell out “Next in line please.” Was I supposed to run out to the black jack pit and get a pit boss to give me one? I mean, what’s the procedure? Vito was across the room and his spidey sense told him something was going. He rushed over and asked what the problem was. After explaining the situation he said he would get my card made up for me right away and took my driver’s license. He also checked in with me several other times while we were waiting to get the card made up to make sure that he had settled the issue to my complete satisfaction. In my book, you’re always going to have mistakes or misunderstandings when dealing with the public. What makes a difference is how the company chooses to deal with those mistakes or misunderstandings. Caesar’s, in my opinion, handled it perfectly. If you had a good experience at Caesar’s, please show them a little blog love and write about it. Vito gave me his card and asked that I email him links to blogs so he could read the feedback!