Wednesday, August 08, 2012

WSOP National Championship Part 1:

Sigh…tilting…another bad beat as I wrote half a blog on the 6st of April meaning to come back to it and I log in today to finish and its empty/gone. There is a “saved” post on the 6th but it’s completely blank.

I want to start off by thanking all the folks out there that were pulling for Bill and I and the flood of well wishers once I made it to Day 2. We also want to thank everyone who supported the site by wearing the GCP patches…etc…much appreciated

I am trying to think of some of the stuff I wrote before in version 1…uuuhhhmmmmm

Getting to Vegas:
Plane ride into Vegas was the worst of my life, and I was wondering if I was going to make it there in one piece. I was aware of the fires that had been ravaging Colorado, and was nervous about my layover in Denver as I didn’t want to get stuck there. The captain comes over the microphone at one point and announces to the cabin and crew that all is well and we will be “landing in Denver in 45 minutes”…ok…cool. Then when all we can see is smoke out the windows and all the folks are looking at their watches 1 ½ hours later, we are starting to get worried. On top of that we had not started descending as my ears were not popping like popcorn yet. Then the turbulence started as we started to descend…YIKES!!!

There was this younger couple on the plane with the lady next to me in the aisle seat, and the dad and the 2 kids are across the aisle in the same row. I started to see the parents looking at each other with that look of fear and they started to hug the kids…made me think of Ivey. By the time we landed the lady was in tears and the whole plane let out a huge sigh of relief….nice

In Vegas:
I got in late so I got a hotel room and hit the cash tables. I booked a nice cash score and went to bed thinking this is a good way to start the trip. I woke on the 4th and spoke to my backer…we decided on me playing the 6 max at Ceasers Palace. I made it halfway through the day and had nothing that jumps out at me except this kid on my left that every time someone jammed on him he had Aces.

Moved in the Rio and Bill and I decided to take the day off and play some donkaments. We fired at a daily at The Orleans…Bill cashed…I whiffed. We were down to 2 tables and in a B vs. B situation…I got this local lady to call off ¾ of her stack when I shove the turn with me holding KJs and her holding Q9o on a K-9-3-2 rainbow board. When the cards hit my table over at Bill’s table…all Bill’s table could hear was a coordinated “Whooooaaaa…and…WOW”…his whole table looked over and he and I met eyes as I slowly stood up from the table to gather my things…some things just go unsaid.

National Championship:
9:30am and I first off I hit the workout area and Steam Room. I sat in the steam room and just envisioned me making the final table in my head…juuussttttt…relaxed. I found Bill and we started talking about some interaction we had with one of the players from “Run Good” apparel… A.P. Phahurat. I know some have seen the pictures of me and saw the patches. They were asking players to wear their patch, and after some discussion I decided to wear the “Run Good” patch along with my GCP patch. There was a “monetary” figure that I received, but it was very small. I think I did it more because I wanted to help the guys out and I am glad I did.  Huy Nguyen (@SavePluto9) was at my starting table on my right, and I think he is involved in it also. Huy was on my right at one of the events in New Orleans and we became fast friends. It was funny that after you know someone at your table is a good player, but you don’t know who he is…how the conversation starts to go towards “intel” so you could get enough info on the guy to google his stats and find out who he is. After about an hour of small talk into the New Orleans event and us playing on our handhelds, I finally break the ice with, “Damn…so you won a ring in Choctaw this year…but your still chasing points?”…to which he smiled and said, “Yea…and you were the Casino Champion in Biloxi I think and your already in the freeroll”…we have been greeting each other ever since and friendly. He was on the cover of a “regional” poker magazine similar to the Gulf Coast Poker magazine called…go figure…”Southwest Poker”…GL to the Magazine.

So…where was I …oh yea…I wear the patch and Huy is on my right on starting table and I glance around and have this group of stone cold killers to deal with:

In the 1 seat was from WSOP FT fame Joseph Cheong…Seat 2 was “Chainsaw” Allen Kessler…3 Christopher Bonn…4 Kurt Jewell…5 was Will Failla…6 Huy Nguyen…me… and on my left was seat 8 and Dan Natarelli. The fireworks started early as Cheong and Jewel go at it in the first 8-9 hands and they continue to  4-5 bet each other pre flop several times…gonna be fun. 30 minutes in there was a lot of table talk about the poker community and what was going on when I see Choeng say…”oh no”…and Kessler say, “Oh My” as up walks Will Failla and he slams his seat card on the 5 seat spot and yells, “BOOOOOOYAAAAAA…I’m here”. That’s when the fun started. It was a really fun table.

(Side Bar Here)
Let me go into a little bit about my poker experience here…I was card dead the whole time. The biggest Pocket Pair I saw the whole tournament was Jacks and I got them twice on Day 1. The 1st time, I doubled thru the “Poker Brat” Phil Hellmuth when I three bet shoved 14 bigs into his AKo with him sitting on about 24 bigs. After Hellmuth bust and they move our table I sucked out for the one time all tournament when I shoved 9 bigs with A-9o in an unopened pot from late position and Fabrice Soulier called from one of the blinds with A-Q…and I hit a 9 on the flop. 4 hands later I got JJ again and I did a standard “Stop and Go” to win a nice pot …chip up…and I rolled into Day 2. There were 2 limpers, and 2nd place finisher Nik Stone made a nice raise…I look down at jacks and just flat hoping I had just priced in one of the blinds and I did…sb comes along. Flop was 8 high and I shove when they both check to me and I took it down there.
(End of Side Bar)

The 2nd table I was at was fairly brutal because I couldn’t make any hands and all I could do was steal here and there. Sicko’s at the table were Sam Stein and Matt Keikoen. Wild Bill got moved to my table, and I was there when he busted…felt awful for him, but we were both in a tough spot hovering around 25-28 bigs at that point. At this table was the 1st time I had my tournament life at risk. I four bet shoved AKs and the original 3 bettor was an older gentleman who was also short. We both were kinda laughing and joking as we held our cards and neither wanted to show…were both grinning…just having fun...we eventually both turn up our cards and I am slightly ahead as his AK but wasn’t suited…we chop the pot. In this hand at this moment is where I will give out my “Super Prick” award to one and only… Peter Ippolito. When we were goofing around having fun he literally got pissed and screamed, “What assholes…JUST SHOW YOUR CARDS”. All the people who know me will probably be shocked that I let this go as it was a big tournament, but yea…in essence he called us assholes. In a standard every day tournament… he would have gotten my wrath…There you go Peter…you’ve been blasted with the “Super Prick” award…and oh how “Karma’s a Bitch”…I was 2 to his right at the next table when he went  busto…He 4 bet shoved 45 bbs or so with AKo…into Villain’s AQ and I saw him “Tear up” as he stormed away from the table when the Queen hit (Think Villain was Nik Stone)… GG and NH Bro…see ya around.

From there we kind of fade into the 2 hands above when I had JJ…although I will break down a few other hands that I think were interesting:

Poker Brat Bluff:
I came real close…and I mean real close…to bluffing off my whole tournament to Hellmuth about 14 hands before my courtesy double up through him with the JJ. He was playing his regular “snug…tight” image and he min raised from the hi-jack…I called from the BB with KQs and we both saw the flop. Flop peeled out 9c7h2s…Check---check…turn is the 10d. I check again and he makes a small bet and I call…clearly having him on the top of his range here with A/K-Q-J…etc. I am going to steal it on the river 3c. I check clearly expecting to check-shoving the river and he again makes a bet to look like a value bet. I stacked up my chips and we started staring at each other…I KNOW he has nothing…I count out my chips posturing a little and go in the tank …we were both steepled up…I grab my stack and start to move it in and stop to get a read…got nothing…I eventually kick my cards in and he says. “I had you…I would have called” and shows A-9…I sigh and say ”Nice hand sir”.

Elky last hand of the night:
They had decided a number on the last hand of the night and I happen to be sitting in the 9 seat with Elky in the 7 seat with about 200k in front of him. We made it all the way down to the last hand of the night and I was in the BB and Elky min-raises from the sb and I look down at KQo and decide to take a flop with this sicko. I steepled up and saw a flop of 10c-5s-3d rainbow…He checks…I check. The turn was the 9h. He checks and I tank and we start staring at each other… Bill and some of the other folks start to gather around as we were the only table still in action. I count out some chip and then put them back down thinking of Semi-Bluffing with my gutterball, but somehow he had this look about him that he knew he had the best hand and I felt he was going to call no matter what… I eventually check. The river was the 7c and he goes in the tank…and eventually checks….I tank-check and say, “King High”…He smiles and said “I thought so”…and table A-4o for Ace high.

Day 2:
I started with this table:
Hao Le (192,500)…David “ODB” Baker (212,000)…Me…Nicolas Fierro (29,000)…Aaron Massey (207,500) Mark Bonsack (121,000)…Matthew Weber (29,500)…David Peters (158,500)

My card dead streak was on an all time high and I just could not get any cards. I played exactly 2 (two) hands the whole time. I three-bet shoved a raise from ODB after he raised a couple of limpers with me holding AKo and they all folded. Final Hand …I blinded down to 4 bigs with a steady diet of 74o…103o…62…94…etc. We were at 500/1500-3000 and Matt Weber raised to 7k from early position…I'm in bb with 12.5k behind...I shove AJo into his AKo…and I couldn’t get there. (Damn…that sucked…felt like I just relived it in my mind)…ok…lets move on

Some of the players:
David “ODB” Baker …
I want to say that I did meet some really cool players. I started day 2 with David “ODB” Baker on my right and he immediately approached me and started talking to me asking me questions. He greeted me by saying , “Your from around New Orleans right?”…in fact he knew that there were 2 of us from my hometown of Houma, La …as Jacob “Nocko” Naquin also made it day 2 and eventually was the bubble boy I think…KK vs AA is so sick.

Aaron Massey…I had seen Aaron around the circuit and several times he was on tables next to him, but I never actually played with him. I played with him in this event for several hours and really like the guy and his game. I was really impressed in how he handled himself, and his table presence is strong. I would like to take a look at this one hand that I felt could have been played differently though…not better…and I am not 2nd guessing his play because there are just too many justifications for the play…I may have just played it differently.

The hand was covered by Pokernews but they only got the recap. To lay the hand out a little…both ODB and Aaron were over 200k in chips… well over 90 bigs coming back for Day 2 at 500/1200-2400…37 players left as Chris Moorman and Joe Cheong had already been eliminated in Day 2…and they pay 18 players…1st place was $414,000.

(My memory of hand)…ODB opens for the standard raise of $5k…I fold and Nick Fierro Jams about 10 bigs (24k or so) on my left…and it’s to Aaron. He semi-tanks and asks ODB for a “rough” count and then threw a bunch of chips in and I think it was close to 63k…and its around to ODB…ODB thinks for about 20-30 seconds and announces he is shipping his stack and is all in…Aaron’s  facial expressions looked  like he has no choice…and says, “I call” rather quickly….Fierro has 77…Aaron turns up QQ and ODB has AKo…from Pokernews:  “The board ran out 2c2hJhJdKd and Massey let out a wail when the river hit. Fierro was eliminated, Massey was crippled and Baker is the new chip leader”

I just don’t know if that was a spot that I would have wanted to play a huge pot considering that extent of the situation. If he calls Fierro’s jam and then ODB ships then it’s a tough spot and I believe I probably have to call also, but if ODB flats Fierro’s jam also with Massey and they see the flop…I think the tourney may have turned out different for Aaron….if ODB does in fact flats there... The way the table was playing I think it would be hard for ODB to continue in the hand...So let’s say Aaron flats Fierro’s Jam and ODB just calls as well… hypothetically.

Post Flop of 2c2hJh…

Scenario #1: Either ODB leads out and Aaron raises and ODB folds.
Scenario #2: ODB checks and Aaron makes a nice size bet I think ODB has to fold.
Scenario #3: They both check the flop to keep the pot small…The board double pairs on the turn and they probably check it down because a Jack was in both of their ranges here in this hand.

In his defense I know he was thinking Fierro most probably had and Ace or King in his hand which tilts the odds favorably enough to make the play he made. It was a tough spot…I am not being critical as he and ODB both are better players than me and have the results to show for it…My perception on the hand was that I would have preferred to play a smaller pot there if I could and see the flop and see where the hand would take us…It really sucked to see Aaron play so well and him lose that pot and he is on fumes…he is a good player.

Nik Stone:
Played with him on several tables, was really impressed with his play. He was mixing it up well and had the whole table off guard. He also busted Hellmuth in a hand he played really well and had Hellmuth talking to himself as he walked away. He, Drazen ILich and I all started drinking beer together once we got to the last level of play…everyone got friendlier…etc

Really nice guy…Played with him for several hours…Played his standard game…I did catch him staring at me and I think he picked up on something I was doing as I was the BB when he was OTB. Bill saw it too, and after a break I started not looking at my cards until it was my turn to act and he “went away”…he stopped staring/studying me. The JJ hand I doubled up thru him was a standard play…the hand played itself, and I already referenced the bluff above.

National Championship moving to New Orleans and away from the WSOP:
I am pretty disappointed that the National Championship is going to be moved to New Orleans this year. We really had a great time and it was fun getting to go to Vegas to play it. I think that the WSOP in general were disappointed in how it turned out for several reasons:

1) Not enough of the $10k qualifiers showed up:
There were several people including Choeng/Kessler/Failla who were surprised that more players did not come out. I mean really…when are you ever going to be able to play in a WSOP event to win a bracelet …where theres only a few hundred people?...never now that they moved it away from the WSOP…Kessler at one point said, “Juanda’s name is on the list I would bet anyone that he doesn’t know or forgot about this thing”
2) No big name pros made the final table:
                ODB was probably the most known player outside of the circuit and if it wasn’t for the “Drama”                with Mesummecci and Eriquezzo…there was no hype or excitement.

3) I think there were complaints about forcing people to play a certain day in the Main Event…
I don’t know.

We will see how it pans out this year and at least I will be able to go sweat it since its so close to my house.

Ok...will write more later

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy My brothers. And you will know My name is the Lord when I lay My vengeance upon thee"
Samual Jackson as "Jules" in Pulp Fiction