WSOP 2005 – Part 3

It was around this time that Kevin and Carrie showed up to watch for a bit. I walked over to the rail and discovered that Kevin had finished day one with a whopping 47k! My investment was looking good.

Just before the first break, Phil Hellmuth, per his custom, waltzed into the room, fashionably late, to his seat halfway across the room, to much fanfare. Baldwin looked at me and said “that guy is really somethin’ else.” I smiled, hoping he would elaborate, which he did. “What a complete asshole.” Hahaha. I liked Bobby. And with that, we broke for 20 minutes. I felt emboldened and determined after my bluff, and confident that I could play with these people. I joined the crazy stampede towards the men’s room, and the other men’s room–the ladies room, which was converted to a men’s room for this sausage fest. I also phoned a few people to tell them I was still alive.

Soon after the break, I picked up 10 10 under the gun. With the blinds at 50-100, I made it 350 to go. It was folded all the way around to Shadow Creek in the big blind, and he called. The flop, which was 10 3 3, contained some very good news and some bad news. The good news was that my hand was virtually unbeatable. The bad news was that I had the deck crippled, holding all the good cards, which makes it challenging to extract any money. To my surprise Shadow Creek led out with a large bet of 900. I responded with a protracted pause, and I checked my hole cards. This was not done for dramatic effect, but to make sure they had not changed. Eventually, I said “call,” and I tossed the 900 in. The turn was the Q of spades, making 2 spades on board. Shadow Creek checked, and I checked too, trying to sell him on the small range of subpar hands I could have raised with under the gun and then called his flop bet with (88, 99, maybe AK). The river was a meaningless 6, and Shadow Creek checked again. I took my time before removing three $500 chips from my stack and tossing them in. Shadow Creek frowned before reluctantly calling. I turned over my full house and he mucked, muttering something about ace-ten. Stack stack stack 14k in chips.

I spent the rest of level 2 bleeding away my blinds and at the second break, for the first time, I allowed myself to consider the possibility of making it past day one. My parents were scheduled to fly out to witness day two and beyond, but only if I could surivive day one. Otherwise the trip was a no-go. My father was intrigued and excited about the poker, and it was my mother’s birthday weekend, so I really wanted to provide them with an excuse for a mini vacation. I caught myself losing focus, thinking about the phone call I’d make telling them not to cancel their flight, and snapped back to reality. Focus.

Soon after the break, they broke my table. I was happy to get away from Baldwin and Baldy, who had taken most of Euro’s chips by that point, and was sitting on about 32k. I was moved to a table across the room, the makeup of which was as follows:

Seat 1: young, chatty, wisecracking guy.

Seat 2: very aggressive preflop player, Danish.

Seat 3: me.

Seat 4: self-depricating goatee guy.

Seat 5: possible pro (based on demeanor and lack of poker website attire)

Seat 6: don’t remember

Seat 7: don’t remember

Seat 8: don’t remember

Seat 9: a fifty-something year old man with a leathery face, NASCAR shirt and droopy blond mustache, sitting on a ton of chips

Seat 10: a guy that liked to stack the chips on their side when posting blinds.

It wasn’t long before I got into a confrontation with Possible Pro. He raised under the gun, and I looked down in the big blind to find QQ. Hmmm PP had been playing tight, and my hand could very well be a coin flip or behind. I went the safe route and just called. The flop was K K 6, and PP led out for 600. I quickly called, hoping my flat call represented a king. The turn was another K, and now PP checked. I quickly checked, which served the dual purpose of still representing the now less likely K, and more importantly, avoiding a checkraise. The river was a meaningless 3. Once again PP checked, and now I was pretty sure I had the best hand. I made a $1600 value bet, and PP instantaneously folded. 13.8k chips.

My 13.8k at this point was about an average stack. The antes had kicked in, and players were beginning to get knocked out at a pretty fast clip, and the average stack size was rapidly growing. I knew that the average stack at the end of the day would be about 28k, and I felt some pressure to accumulate chips. With that in mind, I decided to change gears and become more aggressive preflop, making stealraises a bigger part of my repertoire. Unfortunately, the Danish guy to my immediate right was making this strategy impossible, as he was raising nearly every time the action was folded to him. I noticed that while he was aggressive, he was not loose, that is, he would lay down his hand preflop every time someone reheated him. I made a mental note that if I ever needed to pick up chips, I could put come over the top of one of his raises. The other player worthy of note of was the hick across the way. He had a massive pile of chips and was on a big rush. He was picking up big hands, flopping big hands, making massive bets, and taking down an inordinate number of pots. Typically he was showing his hand after his opponent conceded, and each time he had the nuts, or close to it. He had to have at least 65k in his stack, and he was winning literally every pot he entered. He seemed trappable, but I knew that if I got involved with him, I’d have to put all my chips at risk.

The first few times I tried a stealraise, someone came over the top of me. Since I had been playing pretty tight before switching gears, they either had real reraising hands or I had some sort of bad tell. Regardless, I laid these steal attempts down. Then, the following hand arose:

It was folded to me on the button and I raised to 350 with 6 5 offsuit. PP in the big blind called and we saw a Qh Jh 4s flop, giving me nothing. PP checked and I made a continuation bet of 600. PP called, and I put him on either KJ, J10 or a heart draw of some sort. If he had a Q he would have led out or checkraised, and QQ, JJ and probably even AJ would have reraised preflop. 44 was really the only scary hand. The next card off was the A of spades, the perfect scare card for me (unless he’s holding A-x of hearts), so I fired 2200 into the pot. PP folded and I raked the pot, feeling rather smug. 13.5k in chips.

Feeling frisky now, I soon stole another pot preflop, with two limpers in front of me, by raising it up with the rather mediocre holding of A9. I cruised to the next break without playing another hand, leaking away chips but not in danger of being elminated. 13.0k or so in chips. At the next break, I realized that the day was not nearly halfway over, and I had already played one of the longest poker sessions of my life. I was still focused mentally, but my neck, back and legs were starting to bother me. No one told me this thing would be physically taxing.

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