It's that time of year again… the World Poker Tour Championship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. Step right up, folks — anyone with a buy-in of $25,500 can have a seat! In fact, I wish someone else had taken mine. There were 538 runners for the main event and everyone seemed to be present, everyone that I knew that was good at poker, anyway. In years past you were unlucky to know three players at your starting table, whereas in this one it seemed like there were four or five good, known players at every table. On top of that there was a group of internet kids, many of them quite good, and a group of players from around the globe that viewed the weak dollar as making their buy-in much more reasonable. There were some random players sprinkled into this mix, who were either rich to begin with or won one of the many satellites to get to the starting line. For sure, random play was far scarcer than in the past, when real estate was booming and the dollar was stronger.
My first table began with Eric Lynch on my right, Tony Cousineau two to his right, John Myung to his right, Scott Fischman to his right, Brad Booth to his right, and Scott Mayfield to his right. I knew a lot of the players but it was an okay draw as I had played a number of hours with them before, and aside from the loose-aggressive "Yukon" Brad they weren't especially dangerous — or so I thought before we began! It turned out that the player two to my right was not only unbluffable but played about 19 hands out of 20. He limped at every opportunity, raising perhaps twice on Day One. If he raised, look out! What do I mean by unbluffable? Well here is a good example: At the second level he limped for 100 from the three hole with Q-9 off, and after two more limpers Brad made it 2,100 to go from the button. Only "Mr. D" called! It came Q-4-2 rainbow and he bet 1,500 with Brad putting him all in for about 17,000 total. He called and turned up the Q-9 with Brad tabling 8-3 off for almost no hand. Don't feel too sorry for Mr. D, though; Brad tried to leave him alone after this hand and he ended the day with the chip lead at our table!
Two other incredible hands to tell you about that Mr. D held: In one he checked to Brad on the turn with the layout of 7-6-4-4 and while Brad was weighing what to bet he said, "Whatever you bet, I'm going to call!"
Brad asked him, "Really, you promise?"
"Yes," replied Mr. D. Brad now bet 200 (the minimum) and Mr. D raised to 2,000, after which all hell broke loose, as Mr. D was bombarded with ridicule. Finally, under duress he showed 4-4 for quads and took the pot! In another hand John Myung (a strong 100-200 player from the East Coast) raised the pot with Mr. D calling with from the button. Two to the flop, which came , with John betting over half the pot and Mr. D calling. The was the turn card and John again bet 65% or more of the pot, with Mr. D calling again. It came on the river and John checked, with Mr. D cryptically saying, "I know you have trips…so why bet?" — and he turned up the full house!
In general, a lot of laughing happened and until Brad went broke at the fourth level we didn't lose a single player. I had about 55,000 when the following hand came up. With three limpers in front of me for 100, I called in the cutoff with and the two blinds also took the flop, making six players in the hand. The flop came and it was checked around to me. I bet 350 as most of the players looked as though they had no interest in the hand, and 600 was out there. Only Scott Mayfield called out of the little blind and it came on the turn, giving me two pair… he checked and I bet 650 into the 1,300 pot as I thought he surely had a hand like Q-8.
Here he surprised me by raising to 1500,. What does one do now? I was afraid of Q-9 but wasn't ready to give the hand up as I thought that a set of threes or Q-9 were possible, like 33% of the time, but that he might have a hand like J-10 or A-6 or Q-bad or even K-K the other two thirds of the time. After calling I still have over 53,000 and we started with 50,000 two hours before so it's a deep-stacked quiz, with me having only a partial answer. I knew Scott, as we are both from Oregon, but don't play enough with him to know what this raise might mean! I did call, and the river was a with him betting 7,000. What now? If I call and he shows me Q-9 I still have 46,000 and no real damage has been done. What could he pay off a raise to between 14,000 and 22,000 with? The only hand I can hope he has is a set of threes. What if he re-raises? What if he moves all-in? The point is that being so deep-stacked changes the dynamics here. Can stack size be more important than the hand that is held? My answer was yes. I called and he had threes full. Happy days were here! I soon reached my pinnacle of 70,000 soon thereafter, before a very long slide.
Day two brought me to a completely different table with the blinds being 400-800 and the ante 100. I was in the two seat and across the table from me were four players that I knew very well — seat seven was Billy Gazes, seat eight Josh Arieh, seat nine John Murphy, and seat ten Lee Watkinson.
The fireworks began for me at the second level of the day, 500-1,000 with an ante of 100 (the following level was to be 600-1200 with a 200 ante) as Lee raised to 3,000 under the gun and I re-raised to 8,000 off my stack of 41,000 with Q-Q. The four seat who had played no hands all day (in fact, I was wondering what he was waiting for) then moved all-in for 14,825. Lee thought only briefly before mucking and after I called he said he held J-J and would not have called my re-raise. Mr. X held… A-Q off? That was the hand he was waiting for? Wow! He must have been secretly asleep. It came blankos and an ace turned off to give hime the hand. Still, it was a headshaking 'no problem' to this read… and play.
Later on I went out holding on a board of as John Murphy had and Mr. X had . The turn brought another jack and I had failed the test.
Until next time play good… and get lucky!