Saturday, June 15, 2013
Heading Home Happy
Leaving for home this afternoon. I've got a little time to play some more cash NL this morning, so that's what I'm gonna do after I get some grub. It's been a helluva WSOP ride. Here's what happened since the last update.
Tried to sleep in Saturday morning but I was wide awake at 5am. I'm in Vegas. There's about a billion poker players in this hotel. Surely I can find a game, right? I eat a quick breakfast at the diner in the main hallway to the poker room. Scarf down an omelette and a couple of cups of joe and I'm ready to play.
I walk into the Rio Pavillion and realize this really is poker mecca. There are dozens and dozens of games playing, many obviously carrying on from the previous night. I railed a $10K PLO game for a while, watching guys barely able to stay awake making five hundred and $1K bets with little thought. I watched one guy literally doze off, get nudged by another player, wake up, and toss in his blinds. He dozed back off, then was nudged again when it was his turn to act. This is Omaha, we're talking about, a game not for the feint of heart. This guy then peeks at his cards through half-open eyes and tosses a wad of hundred dollar bills into the middle. Then closes his eyes again while the other player in the hand is thinking. Insane.
Other guys are playing open face Chinese poker. Another couple of tables have stud hi/lo going. Another has what looks like razz. Another has some game I can't even decipher. I decide on something a little more mundane: $1/2 NLHE full ring. I sit down and buy in for a hundred bigs. Two hours later I've got triple my starting stack and decide to quit while ahead. Damn, that felt good! No real special hands to report, just a lot of decent cards. Made good reads and was able to get people to pay me off. Mostly value and little bluffing for this bug's session. Poker's easy when the cards are coming your way and the opposition cooperates.
I then get up and wander over to the Amazon room and watch the kick-off of day two of what was my $1K event. I see Leather Face is still in it. Sigh. As I'm sitting outside the Amazon room that morning Jack Effel, tourney director of the entire WSOP, shows up and starts working the crowd. He's near me when he says he loves the seniors event, and he is thinking of a fathers day special (father + son/daughter) doubles tourney for next year. He's shaking hands and working down the line. He then gets to me and asks if someone I know is in the tourney. I say no, that I busted out of it yesterday and am just watching. He pats me on the back and says there's always next year. I just smile as he moves on to work more of the rail crowd.
I stuck around for an hour or so at the event while they dropped the first twenty players and got into the money. As we were waiting for players to drop, the losers passed right by me. Talk about pissed off old men. "G*Damn it!" and "F*ck!" were common refrains of these bubble boys. Damn, I wish I was on the other side of the rail, but I have to say that busting on day two immediately before the bubble looks to be much worse than busting early like I did. I think. Hell, I don't know. In any case, it was still fun to watch the tourney players and rail go nuts when they finally announced that the remaining players had moneyed. Very cool. Just wish I was one of them.
A lot of interesting characters here at the series. I saw a guy in a Superman outfit, for instance, complete with cape playing Omaha. Also saw my first Elvis impersonator at a NL poker table. And also my first blind player at a table, complete with a young woman seated behind him, looking at his hold'em cards for him, and then whispering in his ear. Oh, and shall we just say there has also been a nonstop bountiful bevy of beautiful babes about, most of whom are wearing hardly any clothing at all. It's a living hell here, I tell you. :-)
Oh, and there are celebrity players, too. Everywhere. I mentioned yesterday that I saw a bunch of well-known players. Today was the same. I saw Maria Ho and Robert Mizrachi in the O8 event, and Michael the Grinder Mizrachi in a $1500 NL event. Stood in a snack line immediately behind Jonathan Duhamel, who was chatting to his friend in French about how well he was playing this year. I also saw Erick Lindgren, Tony Dunst, and Andrew Brokos in the $1500 Mix/Match. I waved down Brokos at one of the breaks, introduced myself, and reminded him that I'd taken his seminar. He was very gracious and we talked for a while, but I felt bad that I was impinging on his break time, so I excused myself and let him run to the men's room before the tourney started back up.
I also railed Daniel Negreanu for thirty minutes or so, too, in the same tourney as Brokos. Let me just say Negreanu works the room like nobody else. He's up and down constantly, and his mouth is moving all the time. In between action at one point he turns to the ten or so of us at the rail and starts asking who we are and where we're from. He comes over and chats a bit, signs autographs, laughs at everything. The other players at his table are paying attention to him. Then he casually turns back to the table and asks one of the guys at the table playing where he's from. The guy just shrugs and says "what?" Negreanu motions back to someone on the rail and then says to the player, "This guy here is from Portland. Isn't that where you said you were from?" "Uh, no. I'm from Sacramento." Negreanu comes back to the table and sits down. "Oh, that's right," he says, "You probably play at Casino Royale there?" "Uh, yeah." "I know a guy who won his way here at a satellite there a few years ago? They have that same satellite again this year?" "Yeah, I won it. Backed my way into a full house on the final hand," the guy replies. And so on. Within fifteen minutes Negreanu knew the stakes this guy plays back home, how often he plays, what his poker background was, how comfortable he was with these stakes, what his goal in the tourney is, how he plays, and so on. It was like watching a master interrogator at work.
It was well past noon by this time, so I wandered off to eat lunch and came back a little later. The Sacramento guy was gone and Negreanu's stack was about twice as large as when I left. Cool. But then I also saw him make a really good read but a weird, bad call on another player, putting him on a specific full house that he called out loud, but then paid him off anyway. He then seemed to be tilting a bit with this call as I wandered back off again. I heard he busted shortly thereafter.
Oh, one of the funny things I saw the previous night railing Hanson and Hellmuth in an Omaha game that I forgot to mention were their competing twitter feeds. I've been a subscriber to Bart Hanson's feed for about a year now, as he frequently has good strategy tweets. I've never subscribed to Hellmuth's however because, well, the guy is kind of a tool. Well, last night I temporarily subscribed, because Hanson was tweeting about the tourney and his play every 30 minutes or so, and I saw Hellmuth doing the same. The funny thing is that Hellmuth's tweets were things like, "I'm so proud of myself" and "I'm playing with courage tonight" and "I'm playing the best poker of my life. I'm working so hard." The first thing that cracked me up about this was how Hellmuth wasn't actually paying any attention to the game at all; instead he was fiddling with his phone the whole time, writing texts, posting to twitter, fiddling with music, chatting with Huck Seed next to him, etc. The second thing that made me laugh was Hanson, meanwhile, tweeting what a schmoe Hellmuth is. In fact, when Hanson finally busted Hellmuth out, Hellmuth tweeted something about how good of a player he was, but how unlucky he was in this tourney. Hanson immediately answered with his own tweet of: "@phil_hellmuth I busted you today with A2T9. You should have folded your hand pre not bad luck. AAQ7ss not a good hand to call a 3 bet."
After I got tired of the celebrity poker nonsense, I headed back over to the cash games for a bit while I waited for the next deep stack to start. Couldn't get anything going in a $2/4 game for the next hour, but at least I didn't lose any money.
Then it was into my third tourney of the trip, . Long story short is I went pretty deep and made a nice triple up profit. I was too lazy to actually take written notes on key hands during play, but the bottom line to the secret to my success is I ran pretty well and won a handful of flips. Even AK held up for me. We made the money around 10pm, but then my stack just started fading and I didn't make it any deeper pretty much because I ran out of cards and gas at the same time. Afterward I went straight up to my room, brushed my teeth, fell into bed, and went to sleep nearly instantly, a huge poker-loving smile on my face.
Bottom line this morning is that I've had a great long weekend. I moneyed in two out of three tourneys played (but not the one I wanted), plus had a couple of excellent cash sessions. As GolfPro said in an email to me last week, I was coming to the poker "promised land." He was absolutely correct. For a poker enthusiast, this is one of those bucket list things that shouldn't be missed. Not the ultimate results I would have liked, but I'm coming home with more money in my pocket then I left with, so I'm pretty damn happy overall. It's also great fun to just be surrounded by so much poker talk, which is almost everywhere. And I mean everywhere. Riding the elevator, sitting in restaurants, standing in lines, everywhere you hear things like "I can't believe he called me with ace ten offsuit? He had to know I had a better kicker!" and "I made the money, I made the money!" It's nuts, but in a good, sick, degenerate kind of way.
Next time I come (and there definitely will be a next time), I may go with a $1500 event, as it is a better, deeper overall structure than the $1K. Bart Hanson talked about this in one of his latest podcasts, explaining why 50% more starting chips and proportionally more prize money is better than a weaker field. Truth be told, I'd love to play in more than one tourney, and especially get into the $10K main event, but the ultimate truth is I simply can't justify that kind of expense with my own money, even if I do feel I'm good enough to play.
I also may stay somewhere other than the Rio next time. Dunno. The Guru suggested I stay here, and the convenience of having a room within walking distance is definitely an advantage. On the other hand, the staff has been more than rude, and prices are higher than other nearby hotels. I have to admit, though, it's nice to be able to go up to the room on breaks between action. The room I had is nice and quiet during sleeping hours, too, although $8 for room coffee is just plain stoopid. Also, the bathroom I had in my room was, for lack of a better phrase, jet assisted and required ear plugs for use. The shower was almost deafening to stand in, and the toilet flushed so so loud and hard that the first time I thought my clothes were going to be ripped off my body. Bizarre.
Anyway, that's it for me now. I'm off to the tables for some last minute cash action this morning. Then it's check-out time, a quick taxi ride to the airport, and the short flight home. It's been great to be here, but I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed and being home.
All-in for now...