I start the day with 159,700 chips which far exceeded any expectations of how I would progress in this event, especially after how my first few days in Vegas went.
My progress had been comparatively serene and I'd managed to chip up without really playing a big pot. I'd been lucky and found good spots, but was also pleased with my ability to stay out of trouble which is a HUGE factor considering this is the slowest structured tournament of the year.
My day three table draw was promising. I started as the largest stack on my table and had two excellent young players, Anders Taylor and Tristan Wade (online name Cr8ive), directly to my right. They both had nice stacks too, but I had direct position on them which would be a huge advantage, plus I figured I would also be unknown to them. The rest of my table was something of a mystery.
I spent the evening beforehand reading Tristan Wade's blog to try and get a read on his play. I was well rested and as well prepared as I felt I could be for a crucial day of play.
I knew that my table would break and I would be assigned a new seat after about three hours, therefore my strategy chanced from previous days. On days one and two I'd played very tight early to get a feel of my table and to build up a solid image that I could exploit later on by loosening up and being more aggressive.
This time I knew that establishing any image would be worthless as my table would only last for a few hours, so I vowed to start out with aggression and to apply pressure - particularly to the two skilled players to my right. I was hoping I was unknown to them and as such they would have to give me credit early on and not want to make a misstep against the only player who outchipped them, without having a solid read on me.
This ended up working out quite well and I was able to increase my stack to 196,000 before the table broke and I was moved. However the two good players weren't afraid to mix it up and take risks, even joking to each other about getting in a huge flip to enable one of them to become one of the tournament chipleaders.
After a few hours it became apparent that our table would be next to break. I responded to this by slowing down my play by taking an extra five or ten seconds, so I would not have to pay the big blind again before being moved and therfore not getting to take advantage of my free hands. The guy next to me also had the same idea but took it to the extreme. He loudly asked the floorman if we were breaking next. When he received the affirmative response, he put a chip on his cards and sat back on his chair and waited and waited. The table was patient for a while but this soon ran out. "Are you tanking because we are breaking next?" asked one player. "uh huh" he replied. Not surprisingly the floorman was called. The situation was explained, but really, what can be done? A player has the right to take his time for a decision, so all you can do is give him/her a 60 second countdown. The hand took about five minutes and straight afterwards we were assigned new tables, so I guess the guy who stalled felt as if he made the right play.
I thought about my own decision to slow down and whether it was correct and ethical to do this? A player who I respect a lot, Jonathan Aguiar (online name FatalError), wrote that when playing live he does anything he can to speed the game up, makes quick decisions, provides change for people, helps the dealer, provides chipcounts and so on. He will do anything he can to achieve one or two extra hands per hour as he feels that the more hands you play, the more a skilled player will be able to take advantage.
I certainly agree with this and will also try to speed up the play, though will never interfere to give chipcounts if I am not in the hand as I don't think this is good etiquette. So I wondered if slowing down in this instance was counter productive? I decided that in this instance it was warranted as the benefit of getting extra hands was trumped by being able to avoid paying my blind.
My new table was still in the Pavilion room but right at the front. I knew that I would now be at this table for most or all of play that remained in the day.
Taking my seat at my new table I was greeted by the following sight. Quite a big pot was in progress, one guy had made a large river bet and his opponent was considering whether to call. Meanwhile in the seat directly to my right, a guy who looked about 16 was in the process of stacking an absolute mountain of chips.
"How many chips do you have?" enquired the guy in seat one, who turned out to be the son of famous player Lyle Berman, as I took my own decent sized stack out from its racks. "About 200k" I replied. "yep, that's about what the last guy had" he replied back with a smile and a motion to the player on my right.
Initially I think the player to my right is the Swedish online player Mendieta. Soon it becomes apparent that he is Russian and his identity is Alexander Kostritsyn - former winner of the Aussie Millions and high stakes cash player. It would be inevitable that I would at some point have to clash with him.
Meanwhile the hand is still going on and finally the second player reluctantly folds. The first guy puts his head in his hands and shakes his head. He then stands up, takes a few paces back and shouts "FUUUUUUUCK" "FUUUUUUUCK!" It's like a bad beat, only he has won the hand and it is a big pot too! Unfortunately for him, the floorman is standing directly next to him when he made his scream and he gets a one orbit penalty for his outburst.
It is quite a welcome to the table!