Wednesday, June 27, 2007

WSOP2007 - Event #38 Recap

Like the first Star Wars movie, this post comes first in delivery, though not in chronology. The recap of my trip is forthcoming, time allowing.

Saturday morning came early for me. I was still tired from the night before, when I decided to get in a couple hours of cash game before bed. I had been playing bad and running bad since arriving in Las Vegas. Nevertheless, I was undeterred, and jumped out of bed with both feet hitting the ground simultaneously. I showered and dressed for comfort, with a t-shirt layered under a long sleeve warm-ish collared shirt. The over-shirt was black with a collar, for a little subconscious intimidation and a little concealment of my neck (pulse and adam's apple/swallowing motion.) As it turns out, the room was a little warmer than I expected and than was advertised. Most of the first day I was sporting my Pink Floyd t-shirt with the pink pig. I also wear a hat in tournament play, which keeps minimizes distractions (like blinders on a horse) and to conceal my eyes when I opted to tilt my head down. I selected my Detroit Pistons hat for this occasion. (Yes, I'm a huge Pistons fan living in Chicago).

We got on the Caesar's-Rio shuttle around 10AM, 2 hours before cards were in the air. I had already registered, so I just needed food and walking time from the front doors of the Rio to the Amazon Room (about 3 days by dogsled).

When we got to the Sao Paulo Cafe, there was a line out the door of about 50 people. It seemed to be moving fast, so I was unconcerned. After 20 feet, the line slowed considerably, and then seemed to come to a stop for many minutes at a time. It didn't help that there was a separate line for "Platinum Guests" (which reflects their tier of privilege in Harrah's Total Rewards program), and that they would simply walk in and be seated rapidly, and ahead of all the patiently waiting "Gold" and Gold-minus guests.

We finally got our food at about 11:35 or 11:40. I finished eating at about 11:56am, and left Mrs. Chicago with the bill. I hoofed it to the table, arriving about 5 after, or 8 minutes before the first cards were actually dealt.

I didn't recognize anybody at my table when the game began, but about 12 hands in, a familiar face sat down. I couldn't place him at first, but after 30 minutes I had a good idea - it was Brian Fidler, Daniel Negreanu's first Protege. He struck me as overly confident, but was nice enough.

I played mainly tight poker for the first 40 minutes, and refrained from voluntarily putting chips into the pot for the first two or three rotations. On the third rotation or so a player in early-mid-position put in a 3x raise. It folded around to me on the button, and I looked down to see the JT of clubs. Since I had been talkative, friendly, and confident, but had yet to play a hand, and the player seemed to be a bit concerned when he put his chips in, I decided to see how a smooth call would be perceived. The raising player immediately shot me a glance and I nodded.

The flop came fairly innocuous and with two clubs. My opponent made a continuation bet and I called. The turn was a blank and we checked it through. The river was a third club, giving me a flush. My opponent checked, I bet half the pot, he called. I had more than my starting 3000 chips for the first moment of the tournament.

I played very tight for another few rotations until it became obvious that the table was playing extremely tightly. I played a couple hands merely to benefit from that fact, and before long the table broke and I was moved all the way across the room - Table 199.

This table was substantially more aggressive. I recognized a player four seats to my right, but couldn't place him. I knew who he was, but didn't know WHO he was. I just got to the bottom of that mystery - he was Shannon Freakin' Shorr! This 22-year old poker phenom won the Bellagio Cup II main event last year after having won one of the undercard events. He cashed twice already at the WSOP this year, and has 26 cashes in major events for a total of $1.6 Million in winnings. He finished 4th in the POY standings last year.

I'm glad I didn't know who he was for sure, as it may have intimidated the hell out of me. He was pretty quiet, as he was short on chips for much of the time we shared a table. He did make a few fancy moves to keep himself in the game. We played a couple hands together, though I was aggressive and he couldn't play on without committing his stack.

After a few rough hands, I was back below my starting stack again. When the second level ended, I was getting nervous.

An aggressive player in his young twenties moved to our table two seats to my left. He was wearing a hood, and was not a pleasant addition to the table. [Sidenote: the vast majority of people I shared a tournament with were polite, conversational, and in many cases, even fun. I was pleasantly surprised.]

As I was getting nervous about my shrinking stack (back around 3000), I was looking for opportunities to pick up a few chips. I was on the button with one limper in the pot and found A6 of hearts. In general, this is NOT an automatic raise, and a strong argument could be made for folding in this spot with short chips. A better argument might be made for folding. I made a smallish raise (3x?) and got the aggressive player in the BB and the original limper to join me for a flop. The flop came 5,6,9 with two spades. Both players checked to me and I decided to protect what I thought could be the best hand. Both players called. I wasn't sure where I was in the hand. Could they both be drawing?

The turn was a non-spade ten and both players checked to me. I thought I might be behind at this point. A big bet would probably get two folds, but would risk my tournament life. A check seemed safest, despite the fact that I may be sacrificing the pot. The pre-flop limper was likely to have the best hand, I surmised. And I was almost sure that the big blind was on a draw - spades most likely. That was my feeling at this point anyway.

The turn came something unhelpful (3c maybe?), though if I remember correctly, put three clubs on the board (running clubs). The big blind thought for a moment and then put out a bet of 1800 chips. This was about half his remaining stack, and about 70% of mine. The mid-position player folded. Now all I was left with was third pair on a messy board, but his bet was so fishy. What could he have that would cause him to call pre-flop and check-call the flop and check the turn? If he flopped a made hand, there were draws to fear and he would have to protect them. If he had a club flush, his cards would have to be good in another direction (i.e. pair and straight draw?) to call the flop bet. I was confident that he either had made two pair with two little cards or had absolutely nothing (still imagining a spade draw). Also, his bet was a little too big for me to call without a big hand, which I wasn't likely to have either. At this point, I was sure he wanted a fold... so I called.

He said, "nice call" and held his cards face down over the muck. He clearly didn't want to turn them over, and I didn't want to be a jerk.

I said, "third pair", with a half-grin that someone who knew me would describe as a little bit smug. I turned my cards face up and proudly spread them on the felt as if to say, "Don't f@*k with me!" This guy was an agressive pot stealer, and I didn't want him in anymore of my pots.

He released his cards and I got at least three "nice call!" and "wow, excellent"-type remarks. Not only had a gotten my chips healthy again, but my confidence was healthy as well.

The mid-position player, who folded to the flop bet with me remaining to act behind him let me know that he had actually folded the best hand. Now I really felt good about the way I had analyzed the hand.

I stood up for a few minutes during the next hand to get rid of the heebie-jeebies that crept in when I thought I may have just called my way into deep doo-doo...

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Teaser Post: ChicagoJason vs Chris "Jesus" Ferguson

ChicagoJason and Chris "Jesus" Ferguson at WSOP #38 2007
ChicagoJason assumes the "Jesus" pose against Jesus himself.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Out in 81st Place

Getting slightly short, I needed to find some chips. A mid-position player raised and a late player called. I tried the ole squeeze with Q9 of hearts. The initial raiser folded, as planned. The caller called my bet with AKc. Neither of us improved and I finished in 81st.

115k in chips second break day 2

And Chris Ferguson just busted from two seats to my left.

The Aristocrats!

This is me on Day Two Baby...

This is me on Day Two.

(No picture, just a BNL reference.)

End of Day One

Its 2:30 and I'm in a cabs line with no cabs.

We're down to 176 players and I have just under average chips with 37,100. I took a bad beat about 30 minutes ago when my pocket tens raise was called all-in with A-7. There was a 7 on the flop and a 7 on the river to take more than 1/4 of my chips.

I went through the both blinds afterwards and was raised off both hands.

We're back tomorrow at 2pm and I'll try to rebuild...

We're in the money....

We're down to 252 out of 2770 and on break. Another 45 minutes of play after break.

I have about 50,000 in chips. Average is 31,000.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Dinner Break

I've got around 37,000 in chips, which is a little above average. I went head's up with the guy at the table most capable of inflicting damage, and he did. I folded to an all-in re-reraise on the turn after giving him over a third of my chips. Oops.

I've had kings twice and no other pocket pairs above 8s all day. I did run my AQ into an AK a couple hours ago. He was all in from a blind, and I felt I was priced in. The flop came AQQ. The case queen on the turn eliminated all hope for him.

I feel like I've been playing for a week. It requires all my focus to calculate bet sizes and pot sizes.

Perhaps a nice dinner at the Tilted Kilt will straighten me out....

Strong Run

A strong run in level 6, after being in a little scary territory (M=7) has put me in decent shape. I have close to 45,000 chips, putting me at the top of my table.

By the way...

The fourth round was brutal. I got snapped off by a 3-outter and a 2-outter. It was dangerous territory treading back. I picked off a big bluff to win a big pot (with fourth pair). Losing it would have crippled me.

5th round starting now....

2nd Break

About 9500 in chips. Blinds going up to 150-300 with 25 ante.

I've been all in way too many times!

Table 35, Seat 3.

First Break

Thanks to Kings in the small blind right before the break, I turned 50 minutes of frustration into a little gain. I'm a little below average, but can afford to wait for some cards before getting nervous....

Morning Of....

Its 10:30 local, and I'm standing in line at the Sao Paulo Cafe. It is a long line, but moving quickly.

As we walked past the Rio's "regular" poker room, Mrs. Chicago looked as if to say "that's way too small!" I smiled and said "wait until you are the Amazon Room, you won't believe it."

She's checking it out now while I hold our place in line. I'm looking forward to her reaction.

We were walking through Bellagio two days ago and she suddenly exclaimed "hey, there's him! That guy!".

I swung around to see TJ Cloutier. I reminded her of his name.

Yesterday she called him "JT Cloutier". She's so cute.

Last night the "Big Game" was going on at Bellagio. She was excited to see all the recognizable faces - Doyle, Gus Hanson, Johnny Chan, Allen Cunningham - she even did a little Norman Chad bit - "He's ALLEN CUNNINGHAM". It was hilarious. And fun.

Well, the line has come to a halt. This could be a hungry tournament....

Friday, June 22, 2007

Table 14, Seat 7

I registered for event #38 yesterday. Table 14, Seat. The Rio was eerily quiet. The $1500 NL event had started at noon, but by 6pm it seemed to have emptied out substantially. This was a vast departure from the scene last year, where the halls were packed with people, booths, and hanger's on. Granted, this was a Thursday afternoon, but it was pre-dinner break and super quiet. All of the online poker lounges/hang-outs are long gone, courtesy of the UIGEA.

Southside and I headed into the "Poker Tent", which was filled with recognizable poker pros. David Benyamine, Eric Seidel, and Marcel Luske were all seat in adjacent seats. Men "The Master", Jennifer Harman, Layne Flack, Tony G, Freddy Deeb, John D'Agostino, and loads of others were in the final stages of the Omaha event. Back inside, Jesus Ferguson and Phil Hellmuth were working their way through the No Limit field.

More one the way....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Final Countdown

Twenty-four hours until take off, and yes, I'm a little fired up. The good news is that we'll be in town for a few days before the WSOP event I plan to play in. That should give me time to simmer down now! Simmer down.

We're headed to Midway Airport tomorrow evening to fly the last remaining airline that we aren't boycotting. Yes, even Nippon Air has screwed us at one point or another. Mrs. Chicago may have to take an "alternate bag" as her most recent (non-) air travel was a mess. She was at O'hare yesterday to fly to Minneapolis. After three delays, she was informed that her flight was being canceled. The two flights scheduled to depart after hers had been canceled hours earlier, and the flight was only an 18-hour trip, so she decided to cancel altogether.

Baggage claim indicated that they couldn't giver her bag to her.

"Why?" she asked.

"That's how it works, it's checked to Minneapolis", they said. "There are no flights to Minneapolis tonight!" "We'll send it tomorrow." "I'm not going to Minneapolis"... and so on... and so forth. Anyway, her suitcase is in Minneapolis. Still. 24 hours later. "We'll call you when it comes in," the phone rep shared. "No, we don't know when that will be..." Etc.

So I don't really care if our bags make it, actually. Many before me have demonstrated that poker can be played without sufficient deodorant or a clean shirt.

We'll arrive tomorrow night and head right to Caesar's Palace to check in.

After check-in, depending on the mood and exhaustion level, I may head to the Poker Room to get in a little play, I may head to the Rio to register for my event (and avoid the reportedly insane lines), or I may just hit the sack. I can't imagine my adrenaline levels will be low enough to get to sleep.

Then what...?

To be determined, I suppose. A little poker. Some pool time. More poker. Good food. Poker. Shopping with the wifie? Poker...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

WSOP 2007 Preparation

Just three days to departure, not that we're counting over here...

You should be able to find regular updates on my progress at PocketFivesLive, sponsored by PokerXFactor. I cannot seem to find the "official" results of Pocket Fivers, but do see the live text updates. I plan to send a few.

As a reminder, I'm playing in event #38, the $1500 NL Hold Em event.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Phil Hellmuth Wins His 11th Bracelet!

Holy crap, Phil Hellmuth won his 11th bracelet today, and I haven't even won my first yet.

How embarrassing.

Just before 10PM Las Vegas Time (a.k.a. PDT) Phil Hellmuth outlasted a field of 2,628 players and bested Andy Philacheck heads up to win event #15 of the 2007 WSOP, a $1500 buy-in no limit hold 'em tournament. But you knew that, all of Phil's bracelets are in Hold 'em.

Philly (as Mr. The Mouth refers to him) was awarded his bracelet by the competition, 10-time bracelet winners Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson. Classy.

In (un)related news, I am heading out to Las Vegas in 8 days. Next Wednesday afternoon Mrs. Chicago and I will be heading out, meeting up with the infamous Southside Darnell, and crashing at Caesar's Palace for a few days.

I plan to get in on juicy side game action at Caesar's and the Venetian (where the Deep Stack Extravaganza is going on) and playing in Event #38 of the WSOP, which is another $1500 NLHE event.

It looks like 2007 will be tremendously bigger than 2006 for the WSOP. Way to go Jeffrey Pollack! (Or is it Jeffery :) ).

Let me know if you'll be there June 20-25.