I’m home in New York for a few days to clear my head and see my family (and make a few Stoxpoker videos). Looking back, it was an interesting first leg of the World Series of Poker for me. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect this year. The games online have gotten much tougher over the last six months–and not only have I noticed this trend myself, but it’s evident from reading the blogs of many strong players. What then would the fields look like in the lower buy-in WSOP events?
The answer turned out to be: not as soft as in previous years, but still soft enough. And although I’m down about $4k after playing seven events, I’m really pleased with my peripheral stats (if you will). I doubled my starting stack in all seven tournaments, quadrupled my starting stack four out of seven times, and got to ten times my starting stack or more twice (the two tournaments I cashed in, of course). If just one more showdown could’ve gone my way (let’s say the straight flush draw against Avery’s kings in the shorthanded event), I love my chances to make a real score.
But oh well, I have to settle for a small loss in leg one. As promised, here are some Best and Worst Plays.
Some Best Plays from Me:
1) In the rebuy event, during level 3 (post-rebuy period), with blinds of 100-200, the hijack opened for 550. Both blinds were dead (much of the rebuy tournament played shorthanded for me, because so many people weren’t at their seats for whatever reason). I made it 1,700 on the button with ATo. My opponent called. The flop came 972 with two to a flush. We both checked. The turn brought a six and my opponent bet 2200. I called. The river brought a 3. My opponent thought for a while and checked. I bet 4500 and he folded instantly. Although this wasn’t a crazy impressive float by me or anything, I liked that I took my time on the turn, thought that there was a decent chance my hand was good, and thought through the best way to play the rest of the streets given that I had outs if I happened to be behind.
2) In the 2k limit event, we were about three places from the money and I was one of the shorter stacks. Folded to the small blind who raised. I called with K6o. The flop came 223. He bet, I called. The turn came 4. He bet, I called. The river came ten. He bet, I called. He tabled 87o and my hand was good. This was a fairly standard limit play in ordinary circumstances, but near the bubble you really don’t want to go broke as a short stack. It took a bit of a read to call down here, and I had a bit of a read (and it turned out to be right).
3) The quads hand (see my earlier post from day one of the shorthanded). Yes, I was lucky to flop quads, but then I got the guy with jack-high to put 70 blinds in the pot.
Worst Plays from Me:
1) Late in the rebuy event, with about 20 blinds in my stack I folded 77 UTG. As those who watch my videos know, I like to play tighter than usual for the first raise with 20-30 blinds in my stack. With antes in the pot, though, I don’t think it’s ever correct to fold 77 UTG.
2) In the limit event, the cutoff opened and the hijack three-bet and I folded 99 in the small blind. Again, this was a close decision, but I think it’s definitely correct to four-bet against good players here. Note that I would’ve lost more money in both of the above hands if I hadn’t made these mistakes. This is not the point.
3) My bustout hand in the shorthanded event (see my earlier post). I think this was a really tough hand, and I’ve talked to seven good players about it. Four would’ve played it the same way I did, three would’ve played it differently. So it’s not that I think I made some horrible decision. I’m bothered by this hand because I had a chance to really make a good read and save some chips, and I didn’t get it done. In close spots you’re supposed to trust your reads, and I had the 13k chips in my hand ready to just call Avery’s river bet before I overruled myself and decided to go with the more aggressive (and standard) play of check-raising for value. I wish I’d gone with my first instinct.
Best Play from Others:
The player to my immediate left for most of the rebuy event was a fantastic player. He came over the top of my raises several times, and opened for small raises often himself. But he wasn’t a maniac either, he was just loose enough and good enough to be a major problem for everyone at the table. I think the hand that best exemplifies this came when he raised on the button and the big blind called. The flop brought two aces and a low card. The big blind led out, and the button called. The turn was a blank, and the big blind bet again. The button called. The river was another blank, and the big blind fired a third bullet. The button tanked for a long time, and finally called with A5. He flopped trip aces and never raised once, instead maximizing the value of his hand by inducing three bets from the player in the blind (who had ended up flopping the lower pair and overplaying it). It was his ability to shift gears that made me realize this button player was so strong. I wish I’d got his name (he’s probably a well-known tournament pro that I happened not to recognize).
Worst Play from Others:
In the limit event, a short stack got moved into the big blind after we’d hit the money. The cutoff raised, the button three-bet, and the big blind called everything cold. The big blind then led out the ace-high flop, and led again on the turn, before betting a short all-in on the river. The button reluctantly called with two kings, and the big blind showed J8o for jack-high. There is bad play, and then there is just giving away your tournament. This guy just gave away his tournament.
My next event is the $2k No Limit Hold ‘Em on Thursday. I will try to post another WSOP story before then.