First of all I want to thank Mark and Tina, Aaron (TH1) Hendrix, and all the instructors at PokerSchoolOnline.com. This would not have happened without them. The quality continues to improve as the years go by.
First the bad. When I arrived to get my seat assignment, I was told there was no wire with my confirmation number. My first thought was, “Great, all this way and there’s a problem”. I didn’t have the information I needed to help Harrah’s figure out where the problem may have been. I headed back to the hotel and got in touch with Tina to see if she could find out what was going on. I gave her the contact information I had via an email and she called me back pretty quick. She assured me that I would get in the tournament one way or another. I had a fitful night of sleep, though it wasn’t really due to the wire problem. My wife decided that I was more comfortable than the bed and kept trying to roll over on top of me. The next morning I told her she tried to ride me like a horse all night. LOL
I managed a nap just before going to the Rio again that morning. I stopped by the main cashier cage to see if maybe the wire transfer was there, but no luck. Not too long after that I got a call from Tina saying to go to the main cashier cage and ask for a gentleman whom she had been talking with about the wire. To make a long story a little shorter the wire was returned because my information didn’t fit in the space provided for a description of what the wire was for.
Now the good. Tina called me and said Mark was going to hand deliver the money to me so I could get signed up. He got there with just a few minutes to spare.
This is from my aging memory and events are as accurate as I can recall. ;-) Needless to say I was still a bit wound up when I got to the table. Once the cards got in the air though I quickly got the nerves under control. I played a patient game, quit laughing, it’s true, I can be patient. I slowly built my stack up to around 7k, before my first significant hand. I had a large stack two to my left who really liked to call my raises. During the early rounds I’d raise, do a continuation bet, then have to check fold when I missed the flop and turn. I gave him about 1800 in chips this way. I then started setting him up for later. I’d check the flop and he’d check behind then I’d check the turn. He’d bet I’d fold. I just couldn’t hit a flop against this guy. We were at 150 and 300 w/50 ante. I raised to 1K with A7s and got the normal call from CO-1. 2950 in the pot. Flop came 678 rainbow. I decided that this was the hand to put him to the test. I checked and he made it 3K. I didn’t hesitate a second and pushed all in. He thought for what seemed an hour, but I’m sure was just 30 seconds to a minute. I think he actually had a hand and my quick push caused him to fold JJ or so. Because I had been so passive with him, he couldn’t put me on just A7 there. That put me up to about 13k. He left me alone after that. Mission accomplished.
I next flat called a standard raise from MP with 44 caught a 4 and picked up another 6K when they folded to my raise on the flop. 19k now.
My next big hand was a tough one. I had QQ vs the same guy I had the set of 4s. The blinds were at 200/400 w/75 ante or so. He raised to 1600, and I made it 4500. He flat called. Flop came KT2. His eyes lit up like a Christmas tree and he bet out half his stack. Easy fold, but dang that one hurt. Back down to 14k.
About this time Dan Heimiller comes to the table with about the same sized stack. I recognized him from the PPT. I noticed he looked at his cards before the action would get to him. So I decided to just watch him for a few hands to see if I could get a read. Dan was MP and I was in the BB. I saw him look at his cards and he got all kinds of intent on the action in front of him. I knew he had a big hand. There was one limper and he made it 1600 to go. It folded around to me. I look at my cards and see AA. I deliberated for a couple of seconds and make it 4K. The limper folds, and Dan calls. The flop comes T82 rainbow. I know he has a hand and I don’t want to give him a chance to get away. I decide the best way to get maximum chips is to check to him like I had AK. He put in about 6k and I pushed. He called right away, and let out a groan when he saw what I had. My hand held up, and I had a huge stack for this point of the tournament. Around 28K. Somehow I still remained patient. I did try a few positional steals and kept the stack around that average till my table finally broke. I went to the table from Quack’s hell. I went from big stack to avg stack at this table and it was hyper aggressive with Shaun Deeb pushing the action. He was the only person I knew at the table, but they were all very aggressive and I had to throw away a few blind steals to all ins. My image was pretty much trashed after the third one so I waited for a big hand to raise again. AK finally showed up and I raised from MP. The short stack at the table pushed and it folded back to me. He turns over pocket 3s and they hold up. I lose 10k and I’m down to 18k. I still manage to steal a few pots and get back up to 20k before this table breaks.
I go to the worst table I could go to. Four of the top ten stacks are at the table. John Gale, Todd Arnold, Paul Snead, and I don’t know the others name. Anyway, I can’t get in a pot first to act. At least with a hand I can play. These guys are picking off players left and right. They are calling with any decent hand. I have to get by four of them as they are all on my left in a row with one poor guy in worse shape between us. We are also heading for the bubble at this time. I have plenty of chips to get to the bubble, but I want more obviously. My hands are tied though and I drop down to about 15K. The event paid 153 and with 158 left I was dealt AJs. This was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I wanted to push, I wanted to fold. I froze for about 10 seconds and I decided my fold equity went out the door when I hesitated. I couldn’t go broke with AJ so I folded. It may have been a bad decision tourney wise, but I’m not going to worry about it. In any case with 155 left I get dealt QQ. The blinds are very high for my 13k stack. I think I had 6 BBs I don’t remember the exact blinds etc. Todd Arnold raised UTG. It folds to me, and I see the Qs. No way I can fold here. If I play 10 hours and bubble, that is just the way it has to be. I push. Todd is a personable guy and starts talking to me. LOL He asks if I really want to play all this time and go out on the bubble? He asks if I want a call, if I’m happy with what’s in the middle. I know I should say nothing, but I thought he might have a hand like AJ and I really wasn’t sure what I wanted. I just said “do what you have to do. I’m happy with what’s in there, and I would take my chances with what I had if he wanted to call.” He had plenty of odds to call if he thought there was a chance I had AK or so. He asks if I’ll show. I say maybe. He says I know you are not going to do that with anything but a big pair, and folds his 5s. I think this is a good opportunity to build my image a little and say “you are absolutely correct sir”, and show my QQ. This puts me at around 18K. The bubble breaks a few hands later and with my tight image I steal a few pots but never can get any real traction and end the day at 16600.
What can I say about day 2 but, WOW! We are all sitting down saying hi and good luck to each other. I’m short stacked, the blinds are 800/1600 with a 300 ante I think. I’m in the BB. Yay me. The dealer starts to deal, but there is a problem and a misdeal is called. The guy next to me says that just changed the whole tournament. I said “yep, butterfly effect. I probably was going to have AA, or maybe now I’ll have AA”. The action folds to the CO who raises to 6000, the button pushes, the small blind pushes, I look down and see two black Aces, I push, and the CO grins and folds. The button turns over 33 and the SB has KJs. I almost puke when the flop coms Q52. I thought the 5 was a 3 at first, then the turn is obviously going to be a T giving the SB an open ended straight draw. But the river pairs the T and I pretty much quadruple up the first hand of day 2. I have 53k after that hand.
A few hands later the short stack pushes his 24k and I look down to see AQ. I don’t want to call. I hate AQ. You all know why. You hate it too. I can’t fold because his range includes a lot of hands that are dominated or small favorites. I’m trying to accumulate chips, so I can’t pass up this opportunity and I push behind him to isolate. He has AT. The flop includes a T and I don’t improve. Back to short stack mode. I was in short stack mode for a huge percentage of this tournament. I did not see many flops. I never purposefully let my chip stack get below 10 BBs if I had any chance to pick up blinds. I would say I was between 8 and 20 big blinds from the bubble till I busted. If you take one thing from this trip report….Fold equity stops when you get to 5-8 big blinds. You will get called a large percentage of the time with that small of a stack. 10-12 is the danger zone. You have enough to hurt all but the largest stacks. If you double up at 10-12 you have gained a ton of time to find your next hand. You can even play a little poker. If you wait till 5 you have not changed the situation, only prolonged it.
Anyway, I’m back in short stack ninja mode. I am getting absolute trash and finally I see QTo FTA. The guy in the BB has won a few pots recently, but has been very tight. I don’t expect him to call. The CO and Button need a hand to call as I could severely injure them if they lose. The SB is not afraid to call a raise. They all fold to the BB and I’m thinking the chips are mine, but he hesitates, starts to fold, hesitates, brings them back and pretty much tortures me for about 20 seconds. Then calls. I’m thinking he has either 88 or A rag and couldn’t decide whether he wanted a race or not. He turns over A7o. I stand up and wait for the flop. TTJ I say “that’s a nice flop for QT”, but I know it’s never easy and an 8 comes on the turn. The river bricks and I double up to 56k.
I have my eye set on 54th place at this time. That is the 10k payout mark. I know I need about 100k to be comfortable at that point. I’m maintaing my stack with blind steals, though I’ve dropped to around 44k. I finally get a caller when I have 88, the same guy who doubled me up before, and hit a set of 8s on a T83 flop . He checks the flop and I bet ½ pot. He reraises me all in. He had AT and didn’t improve. I’m now at 88k or so.
The final hand before the dinner break is a monster. I’m at 78k or so in the BB. Blinds and antes are a blur from this point on, so I’m just going to give the actions. It’s folded to the SB who just completes. I have A5 and feel that if I can hit a flop here I’ll be able to pick up some extra chips. If I miss and have to fold my situation hasn’t changed much from if I was able to pick up the blinds and antes. The flop comes AA2 with 2 hearts. He makes a pot sized bet and I flat call. The turn is another heart. I start to get that sick feeling in my stomach. He bets enough that he has to call my push. It was somewhere around 18k more. I push and he calls with Kh8d. He’s on a bluff with a heart draw. The river bricks and I’m up to 162000 at the dinner break.
A hand by other players was interesting. Justin Bonomo came to the table and pulled a wicked suckout on a guy who had taken 60k from him a few hands earlier on a move that didn’t work. AQ vs AK They get all the chips in on the A high flop. The turn brings a Q and a brick on the river. The guy to my right is crushed. He grabs the Q and crumples it up. This results in a 21 hand penalty. Ouch!!! And ReOuch!!! This of course causes me problems as the SB to my BB is a dead hand till the table breaks.
My next table is a lot more fun to play at, but it breaks pretty quick without any significant hands. I raise UTG with 99 and take the blinds, then I raise a couple of limpers from my BB after saying “This is the first time the whole tourney my big blind hasn’t been raised”. I look at my cards and say “sorry guys, but I have to raise”. That brought a chuckle. Even from the limpers who folded. The table comic said something like, “first the speech then the bluff”, but they weren’t buying it and went away.
My final two tables and seat were the same. LOL When our table broke at 27 left I got Table 62 seat 8 and when we redrew at 18 I got the same seat. Kind of wish I’d gotten a different seat now.
There weren’t but maybe three significant hands from here. It was mostly steal and fold. I did win a nice pot on a reraise from the button, but not a huge pot. The player to my right got all in and lost all but about 24k of his chips. The blinds were at 6k and 12K at the time and he pushed when it folded to him in the SB. I had Q5s in the BB and he had J3s I flopped a 5 and he rivered a J. Then a couple of hands later I tried to steal the blinds with K2s, but the SB pushed and I gave a little speech and folded. When I got down to around 107k, blinds were 8k/16k, picked up P9s from early mid position and pushed. Stan Weiss called with TT and it was GG David.