Inside the Tour, Vol. 99: Macau Redux
Macau seems just like the bustling underseam of any American city. The scramble for placement, real estate, and building is high, with each trying to upscale and out-scale the last. The Venetian was mostly built here and is the third largest building in the world (or the second, depending on what list you use). However, due to a huge project underway here in Macau, soon it will be either third or fourth. In some ways, I am dwarfed by what is happening here. Where else do you see 25-foot-high ceilings, and doors that are nine feet tall and one foot thick? Or what about the enormous columns which are at least 65 feet around? Here, I feel like I am a giant, standing 6'5" and weighing in at 255 pounds. I don't fit into taxis here very well; getting into them and not having my head rest against the roof is something difficult. I think being a heart doctor here is better than being a chiropractor, though; more patients I suspect.
Another sightseeing treasure here is admiring what is left of the Portuguese missionaries' work, their heritage living on. And yet by contrast, the sex trade from China thrives in the shadow cast by walls that mean something abstract — not sure what, but something.
Poker! Once again, I held nothing and played only sour notes on Day 2. It may seem unlikely to play for six hours and never have A-K, A-Q, A-J, or a pair bigger than fives, but perhaps that is just crying in the soup. I did have one semi-bluffing opportunity early in the day; still holding 59,000 in chips, I checked and couldn't think of calling an all-in by someone who had me covered with only six sure outs. Nonetheless, starting the day sixth in chips and having a big stack, I surely could find a spot to play, right? I wasn't able to find a spot, bubbling out three short of the money, though I am sure a great player would have found a path to the cash.
On my final hand, I moved all in from the button with 20,600, the blinds having just gone to 1200/2400 with a 400 ante; so I had less than three rounds to find a hand. I held K-6 and had passed twice on the button, but the conservative-playing kid in the small blind awakened with A-K and sent me to the crying booth.
This table featured a deep-stacked player that had pushed almost every hand. He was over-the-line aggressive; hell, he was a stone-cold maniac! He had one hand where he raised with over a big blind of 1,000 and Quinn Do called him from the big blind. The board came and both parties checked. The turn came the and Quinn bet 3,800 and the maniac called. The landed on the river and after Quinn bet 6,000 into the pot, the villain raised it to 25,000. Quinn went into the tank for several minutes, finally calling with pocket fours. Easy to fault him for this call of a full house over eight-high, but the point is that he couldn't imagine what hand he would get action from that he could beat, and he could easily be against 10-9 suited. The only hand that might call him if he re-raises that he would like to see is A-9.
My big hand of the day came three hours prior to that. I had raised from the cutoff to 3,600 off a stack of 48,000 over a big blind of 1,200 with . John Juanda, with a history of being unlucky against me, called with what turned out to be on the button, and off a stack of 43,000. Lee Nelson then re-raised to 10,000 off a stack of 65,000 from the small blind. Was it a squeeze play against shorter stacks, or a legitimate hand? It was hard to say which, but I thought a bit and eventually mucked with Juanda behind me (the point of the squeeze play). He called and the flop came . Against Juanda, I would have gone all-in and ended up crippled, which would have been a bad play as Lee ended up moving all-in with . John called instantly, his pocket jacks holding up when the on the turn and the on the river completed the board.
About two hours later, Juanda managed a dream double-up to become a serious contender after he raised with from mid-position off a stack of 74,000 and a big blind of 1,600. The big blind called, the flop came and the big blind checked. Juanda continued with a bet of about 75% of the pot and his opponent immediately moved all in. Juanda called right away, although unsure of what he was going to see. The big blind tabled and after the and the came, the check-raiser was left with about 40,000 chips. Other plays aside, these two double-ups left John in good position to go to Day 3, even though he failed to make the final table.
Another player of note was David Chiu. David had struggled into an extremely short stack, 4,000, by the end of Day 1c. After losing with pocket jacks and pocket queens in back-to-back hands, Chiu had gone from 36,000 to a nubbin. He turned to me, with only five hands left in the day, and said, "I don't want to come back with such a short stack!" He turned his attention back to the table and from the button, with the big blind at 600, Chiu called a raise of 1,600 with . When the flop came , he moved the rest of his chips in over the raiser's postflop bet. The raiser called with and the board finished , with David more than doubling up on the flush. He was given two more walks and ended up finishing the day with 13,000 in chips. On Day 2, he was short for the first hours but ended up being the last professional that I knew in contention and even though he had a lot of chips, he wasn't able to make the final table.
The hand that caused a lot of buzz happened at the table behind me and was on the true bubble. One player was the chip leader with perhaps 800,000 in chips (though who can count chips which take up an entire seating area) and raised, as he often did on the bubble. One player that called him a lot and wasn't buying what he was selling was David Steicke, a rich Hong Kong novice, truly fearless, who had played the final table at the high rollers event the previous year. It came and I don't know how so many chips got in the middle as I wasn't watching the hand play out, but the pot was huge, perhaps way over 100,000 when the kid moved all in. David thought for a long, long, long time. And called! With , an astounding call on the bubble — for his tournament life. This call was criticized by many but it seems right to me if you, in that spot, believe it likely that you have the best hand. Of course, with a spade flush, a straight and two pair on the board any misstep will mean the torch is passed on. But a new chip leader was born!
Until next time, play good and get lucky!