Saturday, July 29, 2006

WSOP, Day 1

Well, the World Series of Poker started today, and it was more insane than ever. 9,000 players are in, a world record by a longshot. They had planned for 8,000, but decided to allow 1,000 alternates in. I do not have the proper diction to tell you how messed up this is. There will be an extra 250 alternates waiting each of the first four days for players to "bust out", then joining the melee.

I don't play until the last of the first rounds, on Monday. My friend Scott played today and busted out about 4 hours in.

I wanted to get some of the nerves out of the way, so I decided to shoot over to Orleans and play one of the "small" tournaments. It wound up with 270 people, and 20 made the money. I got some good cards early, which helped me survive a cold streak that lasted about two hours. As the final 20 spots got closer, I needed to take a risk to get into the money.

I threw all in with KJ off suit, a marginal hand as a rule, but I was in late position and really had no choice, as the blinds had gotten out of control. At that point any playable hand starts to look like aces. The guy in the big blind also was the table chipleader, so I knew he would call regardless of his hand because the pot odds he was getting. He called and had A7. I hit a King on the turn to double my stack and slide into the money in pretty decent position.

When they moved me to the this table, I had the misfortune of sitting next to that one idiot no one wantes to sit next to. At first, I thought the kid was on cocaine, or had tripled up his Ritalin dosage. He yammered incessantly about his craps victories during the week, the fact that he was playing the WSOP Monday and how he "had a piece" of his buddy who was playing that day. He stacked his chips in this fidgety, insane manner, and when he bet all in he piled them in threes and just flicked the rest in the air... then I realized, the poor kid wasn't on drugs, he was just a complete jackass.

"Hey...hey... do you like my haircut, hey hey?"

I almost began to look forward to busting out to get away from this goon.

We finally got down to the last twenty players. With the blinds climbing so high that nearly every one was technically "short stacked". Most players consider having less than 5 times the big blind shortstacked, Dan Harrington's terrific book "Harring on Hold 'Em" considers less than five time the total pot (blinds plus antes) the "red zone"... a very dangerous area where you MUST throw your chips in at the first opportunity.

I was in early-mid position. The loonie kid fidgets, fucks with his chips, geeks out a bit, then throws all in. I look down and see AK, and call. The rest of the table folds. You already know what happens... I had the kid dominated (one form of "domination" is when you share a card with an opponent, but have a better kicker) That gave me about a 70%-30% advantage. I got by the flop and the turn, but naturally, a jack came on the river when I was about a 13:1 favorite to win the hand.

It was a bit of a bummer, as I would have been up around 50,000 chips (more than double the avg) if I had won the hand, but that's poker. You make the best move you can, try to get in with the best hand, and hope the odds bear out, but they don't always.

The best part was that I wasn't surprised or upset when that Jack of spades floated down river. I just said, "nice hand" and shook his hand. Amazingly, this was the one time the kid was quiet. I have to admit, I enjoyed hearing him say, "oh man, I'm sorry" as it was accompanied by a look of shame.

Better to to take a tough beat in a Friday night tourney after I made the money than to take it Monday at the WSOP. And if you going to play poker, you'd better get used to suck outs, bad beats and tough beats. I am trying to focus on making the right decisions and letting the results take care of themselves.

Today, my other friend, Kort, plays at noon. I know I know, it's weird that his name is Kort. I also think we are some kind of half-assed cousins by way of marriage or something.


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