There were 724 starters for the World Poker Tour Event in the Bahamas put on January 5 to 11, 2006 as Pokerstars III. This got the new year off to a big start with its first place of $1,363,100 plus a $25,000 dollar WPT Championship seat! The weather was a bit nippy but quite a nice break for most participants and for the second year in a row it is being held at Atlantis on Paradise Island. I can only sing high praises for this venue as I love it here. Although it is quite a journey from the west coast it is easy for most of the United States and for the Europeans. Many of the players won their seat online through Pokerstars and that is both a blessing and a pain for some of us as they are often weak players but truly inexperienced and so do not know how to bet, how to cut chips, to ante, etcetera, as well as what proper etiquette is (leaving the table before the action has come to them, or showing their neighbors their cards when they make what they consider to be an impressive laydown...). I believe Joe Hachem was the last Pokerstars representative to expire in the tournament at 67th. Evelyn Ng, Chris Moneymaker, Greg Raymer, Isabelle Mercier, and Tom McEvoy preceded him.
On day two we started with 324 runners and played down to 67 players with the blinds to resume at 1200-2400 on day three with a 400 dollar ante. They paid 10,700 real dollars to 130th place, so when that mark was reached the players gave themselves an ovation and celebrated the result passionately. The downside of the payout structure was that at 31st one only collected 13,000 real dollars!
On day one I held a lot of cards and considered my result to be a rather poor showing but on day two I got the other side of the spoon! I held almost no cards that one would choose for eleven hours and managed to survive.
Some interesting hands did come up on day two and we will describe a few here. I liked my table draw very much as I had the most chips and was placed at table one, seat one. Unfortunately for me I did not win a hand for the first two and one half hours and had only one opportunity to play one! About two hours in I had 44 on the button (my first pair!) and with a big blind of 800T and an ante of 100T the English player on my right made it 2400T off a stack of 25,000T and I had 29,000T. How to play this? I can call, fold, or re-raise and make a reasonable argument for any of these actions! I did the sensible thing and folded, but re-raising was certainly an option.
When we were about five from the money at 135 players I witnessed the following hand at the adjoining table. An unknown player raised in second position to 4000T over a big blind of 1200T with 200T antes leaving himself about 26,000T, when the action came to Hoyt Corkins in the little blind he thought for a bit and moved all-in with his stack of 45,000T, the first player thought briefly and called. Hoyt said, "Oh no!" and turned over AQ off-suit and can certainly expect to be in bad shape. The logical hands that his opponent might hold are AK or a pair, 9's or higher. Unhhh, what his opponent actually had was A4 off-suit? Amazing that the A4 was played, that he called the re-raise, that he went broke so near the money. Later Hoyt says to me, "That is the advantage of playing on television, they see me bluff three handed with big blinds and think I play that way all the time!" Maybe so!
When we were two from the money the following hand came up. A loosey-goosey (I am struggling to be nice here. If I call him a "net nutcase", or a donkey...hmmm, better stick with loosey-goosey...) raised it to 4500T (over the same big blind of 1200T), leaving himself with 13,000T more and I am on the button with AK and the intention to go all-in, even though we are effectively on the bubble and I have only 23,000T when Marco Traniello calls two spots to my right off a stack of 150,000T. Now what should I do? I hate just calling as when I re-raise before the flop with AK I have two important ways to winhe might fold, and in taking five cards off the deck I might make a bigger pair than he has. Inexperienced players, and recent converts from limit holdem often call here with hands like AJ or AQ that are completely dominated. As true as this is when one is against one opponent my experience tells me that I will often be in a lot of trouble when I face two opponents that have shown a lot of strength (such as an early position raise, and a call). Way too often they turn over JJ and AQ and you are an unhappy bubble boy. In addition I had to ask myself why is Marco just calling off his formidable stack? He is against a weak player with a weak stack. Perhaps he has AA and is inviting action? Again I did the noble thing and mucked my hand, coward that I am. The flop came down 10-6-3 and loosey bet 4,000T at it with Marco calling. The turn brought a king and loosey moved all-in with Marco looking pained and passing.
Russ Hamilton, a once-upon-a-time world champion was in the four seat and although he started the day with only 20,000T plus soon had good chips and began to put pressure on a lot of pots. The most eye-popping hand that he turned over happened when we were well into the money, at about 90 players, with the blinds at 1,000T-2,000T and an ante of 300T with Russ's stack down to 50,000T or so. An upfront player with a lot of chips limped for the 2,000T as did the player on Russ's right holding about 160,000T, Russ limped from the cutoff and the button and both blinds limped as well, creating an unusual pot with 6 players and 15,000T in it. The flop came 8s7s3h and it was checked to the player on Russ's right (and to this point I had never seen him out of line) who bet 9,000T. Russ called and the other players mucked. The turn came a 6 of spades giving us three spades on the board and the player bet 50,000T or so and Russ called all-in instantly. When the hands came over the whole table staggered, Russ had 6h3c ("old blocky") for bottom two pair and the "conservative" player in front of him turned up 10d7d. Wow!
At 80 players they broke table one, thank the lord, and I moved to seat three on table 12. This table was packed with internet players, perhaps they were all internet players, net players with chips, how interesting!
One particular hand caught my attention and so with blinds of 1000T-2000T and antes of 300T a net player raised it to 7,000T in first position off a stack of 130,000T and it was passed around to the little blind who called the raise off a stack of 49,700T, the big blind now called off a stack of 85,000T with the flop coming 10-8-3. Check, check, and position number one bets 15,000T with the little blind check-raising all-in for 28,700T more and the big blind instantly passing. Position number one agonizes for a while and calls. The little blind turns over Kh3d for bottom pair and position one screams happily and turns over AdJc, saying "I knew it! One time!" What am I missing here?
The one and only net player that has left a positive impression on me is a young man named Roger Teska from Bloomington, Indiana. He is a good player and will be at the top soon. Possibly even in this event.
Don't forget to play good...and get lucky!
Ed Note: Poker Stars have our highest rated tournaments, find out why