After I’d had a roller coaster Day One, Days Two through Four were relatively smooth sailing, with nice upward trends throughout. Day Five was back to the roller coaster.
I got involved in a big pot early when an obviously knowledgable player opened on the button, and I reraised from the small blind with AJo. The big blind folded, but then the button moved all-in for about 300k more. I started thinking about it, but I was getting around 1.9-1 and “call” was the favorite from the beginning. I did end up calling, and my opponent said “good call” and tabled QJs. Someone at the table called this the “best call he’d ever seen,” but really it was a pretty standard call for me, and I routinely call for worse prices with less. Unfortunately my opponent hit a flush on the river and I got knocked down significantly from my starting stack of 1.126 million.
I was at about 700k or so going into the last hand before the first break. The “best call” guy opened from early position. He got one caller, and I called in the big blind closing the action with 75o. The flop came 752 rainbow. I checked and the raiser bet 50k. The other player folded, and I made it 160k. My opponent called, at which point I put him on a big overpair–one I didn’t think he would fold. The turn brought a six, two-suited to the board. I bet 250k, and my opponent announced “all-in” for 506k total. Obviously I was a little more worried at this point, but equally obviously I couldn’t fold getting 4.5-1 when I still thought there was a very good chance my opponent had aces or kings, so I called. Surprising pretty much everyone at the table, my opponent rolled over 87s (he hadn’t turned a flush draw). The river bricked out and I was suddenly back up to 1.468 million.
I got moved to a new table and got to tangle a little with an old buddy of mine–Phil Hellmuth. If you’ve never played with him, Phil is as big a pain to play against as you’d expect, and he’s doubly difficult once everyone is in the money (as we were), because at that point no one is allowed to wear headphones. Lord did I miss my headphones on Days Four-Six, but especially at this particular table against Phil. Phil got to the table and started shaking everyone’s hand. He got to my seat, and I was in the process of raising my button. “Play your hand, Matt,” he said. “Thanks Phil,” I said, almost inaudibly. I finished my blind steal, shook Phil’s hand, and then I don’t remember him being friendly to me again. I opened in early position with two sevens, and Phil called in middle position. The rest folded. The flop came 422 and I bet. “You know what I have, right?” Phil said. At that point, I pretty much knew he was folding. He showed two fives and laid it down. I showed him my hand, which might’ve been a mistake. A few hands later, Phil opened from the hijack on my big blind, the rest folded, and I reraised with ATo. He showed A8 and gave a long speech about how everyone always played back at him. He then folded. I showed him an ace, which only convinced him that he’d laid down the best hand. A bit later, I raised in middle position with JJ, and only Phil called in the small blind. The flop came TT7 and Phil led out small–only about a quarter of the pot or so. I raised to about four times his bet. He said, “OK, I’m gonna try to blast you off those nines. Raise it up.” This was one of those spots where I could beat a bluff but not a value raise, and had almost no outs if I was behind. I was going to move-in or fold right then and there. I strongly felt that Phil had trips, and I’d been going with my reads for several weeks at that point. So I went with my read again and folded. Phil didn’t show his cards, but he did say, “I’m only 90 percent sure I had the best hand,” whatever that means. Soon our table broke, and I was thrilled. One of Phil’s greatest strengths is his pyschological warfare, and I didn’t think I’d handled it all that well. Live and learn.
In one of my first hands at my new table, I got AA UTG, and was ecstatic when the guy to my immediate left put in a big reraise. I moved all-in when it got back to me, and he called like a shot with pocket queens. The board didn’t dare insult me, and I went to the dinner break with about 1.7 million in chips.
After dinner, the following things happened:
1) I played an unraised pot with 76s, flopped two pair and busted the guy who got it all-in with his flush draw.
2) I folded two pair–aces up–in a freakin blind-on-blind situation, after I bet the river and my opponent raised. The flush had come in, I viewed my opponent as very tight/solid, I could only beat a bluff, and I just didn’t think he had the “all-in bluff-raise against a guy who has me covered” in him. I still think I made a good fold, but if I had to pick one hand from my career where I could somehow magically find out what my opponent had, this would be the hand.
3) I got it all-in blind-on-blind with top pair-queen kicker vs. top pair-ace kicker, against a player who clearly could’ve had a hand worse than mine.
4) I raised from the hijack, and Ylon Schwartz moved in on the button for 389k total. I called getting about 1.9-1 with KQ, and Ylon showed AT. The ace on the flop made things not so interesting and Ylon doubled up. In case you haven’t noticed, Ylon has yet to bust from this event.
After that crazy last level, I still managed to have 766,000 going into Day Six. This was well below average, and represented a stack size of only about 25 blinds. But I still had a positive frame of mind, and thought I had a great chance to do some damage with only 79 players remaining.
It wasn’t meant to be. After blinding and anteing off a bunch of chips, I was down to only 20 blinds when a player opened for 100k on the hijack. This player and I had been talking about Australia, where he’s from, and stoxpoker.com, the site I coach for, as he was throwing in his raise. It folded to me on the button with A7o, and I thought I had a wonderful restealing opportunity, and so I moved all-in. It folded back to the raiser who said, “I have a pair, do you have a pair?” I didn’t say anything (I never do) and he thought about it for a while before finally announcing, “call.” I said, “I guess I need to hit an ace.” But it turned out I needed to hit either an ace or a seven, as my opponent had made a gutsy call with pocket threes. After the hands got rolled over and we waited for the cameras, we resumed our conversation about Australia and Stox. Did I mention this was the same guy who slowrolled me on Day Four? I told you I didn’t hold a grudge. The flop paired high, and I had a whole bunch of outs going into the river. In fact someone said, “he has a whole bunch of outs.” The cameras were in my way and I couldn’t even see the river card, but I had a feeling it was bad when the same guy then said, “that’s not one of ‘em.” I looked over and confirmed that my fate had been sealed, shook my opponent’s hand, and headed for the payout room. Hours later I was on a plane back to New York.
I hope you all enjoyed reliving my WSOP run with me. Now it’s time to move back to the present. I’m playing the North American World Poker Tournament this weekend (assuming it hasn’t sold out or something), and will do my best to update my progress both here and on FTSweat. Best of luck to everyone playing poker this week.