Tuesday, 7 December 2010

WSOP Main event Day Two report

Much belated but here we go...

After Day one, I have three days off and return to play day 2b on Saturday.

My table is in the Amazon Room, very close to the Secondary Feature Table where 'The Unabomber' Phil Laak is no doubt going through some of his trademark ‘crazy antics’. It seemed like a pretty good table, with German Eddy Scharf the only name pro. I’d seen Scharf on TV and he seemed to play pretty tight, solid and predictable and I didn’t expect him to get out of line too much against a table of unknowns.

Getting to my seat and scanning the table it was clear that I was the second youngest there. This was a marked contrast to the end of day one and a welcome sight.

Table draw

In seat one was a guy called Mario who was a nice guy and regular at Commerce. He was a decent player but called a little too much and spewed a little, something I looked to take advantage of. He also gave me a delicious burrito as he was allergic to tomato seeds.

I was in seat three and each side of me I had an ‘old business dude’ – the Gucci shoes were a giveaway. These are rich guys, perhaps even millionaires who play the Main Event for fun and are not very good. Yum Yum. But as Steve Begleiter proved last year, ‘old business dudes’ can make the final table.

Seat five was an Austrian kid in loud sunglasses who turned out to be quite good and had a few moves in him so I had to be wary.

In seat six was a guy who’s Facebook page my friend had discovered. All I knew about him is he was an amateur and he had a passion for scuba diving. I hoped to sneak in a scuba reference at a crucial moment.

Seat seven is the aforementioned Eddy Scharf.

Seat eight contained vegan yoga dude who played pretty tight all day.

And finally seat nine was an older Australian woman who had qualified on a freeroll and played the first day in a cork hat. I’m sure the field featured many skilled and competent female players, but it’s worth noting that during WSOP 2010, every single female player I faced was absolutely terrible.

I would love to play Day Two of the 2010 WSOP Main Event every day for the rest of my life. I slowly and serenely chipped up throughout the day, staying out of trouble and folding any marginal spots.

I started off by picking up a few big hands and winning a couple of nice pots while I got a feel for the dynamics of the table. It was not long until I felt very comfortable and in control. Having very weak players directly to my right and left certainly helped and my only real worry was the Austrian kid. I'd like to think that Eddy Scharf quickly respected me. As we were opposite on the table, we played several pots where one of us opened and the other defended the big blind. We both took care to keep these pots small and avoided risks.

Toilet smalltalk guide

Scuba guy played as if he was doubled parked and spewed his chips off in remarkably quick fashion - sadly not to me. He was replaced by a generic middle-aged white dude (GMWD). I had been in Vegas for over a week at that point and had random small talk with lots of people. I'd guess I am quite unusual looking (6'4, long blonde curly hair, stylish range of headwear), so people remember me. I however struggled very much to remember anything about any of the GMWDs who started chatting to me, usually with the opening gambit of "BIR-MING-HAAAM, how are you doing?", often in the bathroom. Fortunately I have now mastered the art of poker toilet smalltalk:

1) Mention your chipcount

2) Perhaps drop in a reference to a famous player near you or at your table

3) Enquire about their situation and listen attentively for about five seconds

4) Start to walk away and say something like "good luck, sir"

5) If at any point they seem about to launch into a bad beat story, usually these start with the line "So I had pocket queens/kings/aces....", immediately ask them to pay you $5

6) Always wash your hands

I bust someone!

A couple of hours in, I busted out my first and only opponent of the tournament. The Aussie lady with a stack of about 21bbs opened from the cut off for a full 3x. It folds around to me in the big blind and I look down at pocket queens. The lady has been reasonably tight but I don’t see any way I’m ever folding queens with my stack this shallow. After deliberation I rule out flat calling and decide to three bet to 8.5bbs, leaving possible room for her to shove in case she wanted to get frisky with jacks or tens.

It seems like a standard spot where she should go all in or fold, but of course she flat calls quickly! At this point due to the speed of the call, I pretty much assume she has a pair, probably between 66 and TT. When the ideal flop of 334 comes then I know she isn’t folding. Even so, I bet out really small with lots of small denomination chips and don’t announce the bet size so it is hard to tell the amount of the bet. She’s very inexperienced and if she acts quickly before the dealer announced the amount, she might think she can make me fold if she goes all in. I don’t want to put her all in because with their tournament life on the line, inexperienced players can make big folds. True to form she goes all in and reveals pocket fives. The turn and river are no help to her, I shake her hand, say good game and pad my stack. I of course don’t tell her that she played it horribly.

Again my plan was to try not to bluff very much, play cautiously when I flop top pair and only get into a big pot if I really had a big hand. I stuck to this quite well although I did run one big semi bluff against Tomato Seed Mario, where I made him lay down his KQ on a on a QTx flop when I three bet pre and shoved for just over the pot on him with on the flop with AK - two overcards and a gutshot. I must admit that in that instance I'm not sure I would have expected him to lay down something quite that strong, but my tight image helped and of course he didn't want to call all in with just one pair. I tried to stay under the radar for the day, being friendly with the table and joining in the banter which was at times quite entertaining.

No ipod

I never listen to music anymore when I play live. I think that you can lose so much by not being able to hear what is going on at the table, people give away clues to their hand and you can even pick up breathing changes sometimes if you listen closely enough.

Take the guy in seat two, he spent most of the day muttering under his breath about his bad cards, how he couldn't hit a hand and how he was running so bad. Then finally on one hand he went deadly silent and started putting in a lot of action on the flop. Well there was no way I was getting involved there and true to form he showed that he flopped a set. Sometimes people even mutter under their breath and actually say what cards they have. Insanity!

Gucci shoe business dude was the classic weak tight player, always looking for a way to fold, but in his case it was mixed with extreme spewiness in blind vs blind situations. Three times it folded around to him in the small blind and he raised, each time I had a playable hand in position, called, flopped a pair and hung on to showdown whilst he took multiple stabs at the pot. I managed to pick up quite a lot of chips from him this way and never understood why he got so aggressive from the worst position on the table.

It's always a moment of anticipation when you have a free seat at your table. Phil Ivey could be about to come and fill it, or it could be a wheezing 80 year old pensioner, or a man dressed as a dog. When the Australian woman busted I drew the short straw and she was replaced by Steve-Paul (Curtly) Ambrose, an extremely good Poker Stars sponsored Canadian player, who has also enjoyed live success. This was not good news as he was an accomplished player, but not a big name pro so I wouldn't be likely to get on TV.

Again throughout the day the table got a little stronger. A mute Spanish guy was moved to my left sometime around dinner and began the annoying behaviour of flat calling a lot of my open raises, so I played much tighter for the last few hours.

Very late in the day, the business dude in seat two started playing very strange and unpredictably. Beforehand he had been in heated discussions with his long-suffering trophy wife who had stood on the rail watching him. Then afterwards he ran a couple of crazy bluffs which both got through. Then suddenly and completely randomly he opened for six times the big blind from early position. The standard is three times or less and he'd stuck to this the whole day. I looked down at AQ offsuit and was really confused as to what I should do. We were quite deepstacked at that point and I didn't want to throw away the hard work of the day, plus there were several people left to act behind me, so I just folded. I still have no idea what he had. It turns out that he was a building contractor who spent a lot of time away and had promised his wifehe would come home if he didn't have a certain number of chips by the end of the day. Hence the crazy strategy

Shortly before the end of play, I get my chance to run a squeezeplay that I've been wanting to do all day. Steve-Paul Ambrose opens from the cut off and Tomato Seed Mario flats from the button, small blind folds and I'm in the big blind with some suited two gapper like 47 of clubs - I can't even remember. Mario had been flat calling too much with marginal hands to try and take flops and I knew if I rereaised then Steve would have to have a premium hand to continue. By this time he was getting quite short, so he would quite probably need to shove or fold and with two players to worry about, my tight image which he would be aware of and with him no doubt looking to avoid high variance spots, I felt he would fold a high percentage of the time here. I also had enough room to fold if he did decide to shove. The worry was that Mario might call, but he'd shown a reluctance to get involved with me and I banked on him not wanting to bust just before the end of the day. True to form he quickly folds and Mario ponders before doing the same. Steve later told me he folded Ace Jack without any thought whatsoever.

I finish the day on 159,700, incredibly happy with my play and ready for the third day of play.

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