Archive for July, 2011

Poker World Awaits Alderney Gaming Commission Hearing

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Tomorrow is a big day for many in the poker world as the Alderney Gaming Commission will hold a hearing to determine whether or not to restore Full Tilt Poker’s license. The beleaguered poker room lost its licenses with Alderney on June 29th which forced them to shut-down business worldwide. Since then, rumors of a sale have spread through the poker world including a possible deal that would leave Americans in the wind. It is estimated that Full Tilt owes some $150 million to their U.S. player base.

The Alderney hearing begins tomorrow in London at 10:00 am British Summer Time (5:00 am ET) and could possibly take two days to complete if necessary. It is unclear at this time if Full Tilt plans to make a statement at the hearing regarding rumors of a possible sale.

Full Tilt was the second-largest online poker room prior to their June 29th shutdown. That spot is now occupied by Party Poker.

Check back with PokerTips tomorrow for a full summary on the developments coming out of London.

Wow, What a Run!

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

My run in the Main Event ended shortly into day six. I looked down at QJo on the button with 11 big blinds which is basically the stone cold nuts in that spot. I moved in but unfortunately the small blind had been dealt KJs and I couldn’t find another suckout to stay alive.

Overall, I’m really happy though. What a run that was! From early on day 3 onward, I never had more than 40 big blinds. Showed up to day 4 with 852 players remaining unsure if I’d be one of the 693 to cash, and then just somehow kept surviving, and surviving all the way to 133rd for $54,851!

It was a much needed deep run and score at a much needed time. I’m going through some various changes in my personal life right now, so it was nice to have something to be excited about and distracted with for a week. It’s been a great trip. I’ve gotten the chance to meet a lot of really great guys. There are so many smart and interesting people in the poker world. I think one reason I really like the WSOP is it’s sort of the only time of the year where a lot of the cool guys in poker are in the same city together. It can be challenging connecting up with people since everyone’s schedules are so hectic, but even just getting the chance to chat with certain people for an hour all summer is great.

There are a few great guys still in the tournament that I got the chance to become acquainted with and am rooting for. One is 888 Poker sponsored pro Tyler Bronkowski. I played with Tyler on a couple of different days. I could tell he is playing tremendously well. He kind of reminds me of my run in ’08: picking spots very carefully, dragging pots without seemingly ever having to show his cards. That’s the ideal path through the mine field that is the Main Event, so I wish Tyler well!

Another guy is Bryan Devonshire. A couple of blogs ago, I highlighted what I thought was a bit of an awkward or at least ironic situation at the table. Bryan, a former UB sponsored pro, was getting a massage at the table after another guy at the table told everyone he had $50,000 trapped on UB. With so much money stuck on Full Tilt and UB, there’s been some more tension at the WSOP this year than usual. Players with money stuck on those sites have every right to be pissed off, in my opinion. My observation regarding Bryan’s massage was just an example of one of those sort of awkward or unsavory moments resulting from the problems of Full Tilt or UB that I think everyone in the poker world wishes didn’t exist, but it was a non-incident that didn’t need mentioned on my part. I don’t begrudge Bryan’s choice to get his back rubbed when it’s sore from sitting down all day. He’s a very sharp, charismatic guy, and a very tough player. He’s got a great shot at getting all the chips in this one!

Finally, there’s Ben Lamb. I’ve been familiar with “benba” since 2008 when he beat me heads-up in the Sunday $500 on PokerStars. It appears Ben is a lock to win WSOP Player of the Year. He’s had a truly incredible series and is now capping it off with another deep run in the Main Event (he got 14th in 2009). If I had to pick one player to win this whole tournament with 90 players left, Lamb would be my pick. I’m also rooting for him because I booked a bet today on him to finish 29th or better. There might not be more than a small handful of guys in the world who have a higher expected ROI in the WSOP Main Event than Ben Lamb.

Well that’s pretty much all from me from the 2011 WSOP! I have a flight out of Vegas early in the morning. I’m going to spend my last night here relaxing, maybe a enjoying a couple of drinks to celebrate the deep run, and bowling at Gold Coast. It looks like I’ll finally get to meet the legendary Nat Arem who has decided to come allow himself to be hustled for some low stakes on the lanes! *stretches and gets bowling game-face on*

It’s been a fun ride! Thanks for your support everyone!

Made Day Six!

Sunday, July 17th, 2011

I don’t know how, but somehow, improbably, I’m still in the 2011 WSOP Main Event. I’m really tired and I’ve basically already written this blog 140-characters at a time on Twitter, so I’ll keep this brief.

There’s 144 players left and I’m one of them. I don’t have many chips; I’ve had under 40 big blinds since early on day 3 and somehow I’ve made it to day 6. Tomorrow, I’ll start with 11 big blinds. Short-stacked for sure, but it’s tournament poker; anything can happen!

I’m just really happy to be in. The poor sleep and poor nutrition and no exercise is catching up with me, but adrenaline and excitement of going deep more than compensates for it. I’m just going to keep playing my best and believing for as long as I can. No matter what the outcome at this point, I couldn’t be happier with this result. I’ve had less than 2% chance of surviving all of the all-in hands I’ve played.

Who knows? Maybe it really is the #yearoftheginger!

After we bagged up chips, I stood in the middle of the room and looked around for a few moments and all I could think was, “wow, is this really happening?” Going deep in this tournament is the most fun and most surreal experience. I can’t even describe it. The hype. The media. The drama. The four- or even five-figure swings in equity on every hand you play. It’s an indescribable rush and one that I’ve found hard to duplicate in any other way. I’ve jumped out of planes before, but the WSOP Main Event might be better.

Thanks for your support, everyone! You have no idea how much it helps.

Back to a normal life soon, but hopefully not until later this week!

Got Through Day Three

Friday, July 15th, 2011

I survived day three of the WSOP Main Event despite actually losing chips overall on the day (started with 96k, ended with 90k). Blinds will be 2000/4000/500 tomorrow so I’ve got about 22 big blinds. There’s less than 900 players left and 693 finish in the money so tomorrow would be a pretty good time to use up some of my life runhot.

Luckily, I was never all-in today which keeps the total number of times I’ve been in all tournament at one (where I only had to fade one out once). I did, however, get about half of my chips into the pot in a coin flip situation with TT versus my opponent’s AK. He turned an Ace but I went ahead and binked the Ten on the river which felt pretty sweet.

I never got below 60,000 and never above 150,000. It’s been a pretty non-volatile tournament for me so far which is ideal; if you’re constantly having to survive all-ins, your luck will eventually run out. Since I’m pretty tired and we start day four in less than 12 hours, I’m going to keep this brief. I’ll only talk about one hand from the day, and it wasn’t even a hand I was in. If you’re interested in more specific hand content from the day, you can check my Twitter feed where I relay the details of some of the action throughout the day.

The most interesting hand for the day for me wasn’t even one I was involved in. It was probably the craziest thing I’ve seen at a live poker table.

A player opened the cutoff to 7,100. The button made it 18,000. The player in the small blind four-bet to 41,000 with AcQd. The cutoff folded and the button called.

The flop was Q76 with two clubs. The small blind player (Adam Katz) bet out 58,100. The button (Daniel Retallick) called. The turn was the 4c. Katz led out for 85,000. Retallick shoved 140,000 more (effective). Katz called (with top pair, top kicker, and nut flush draw). Retallick showed pocket Tens leaving himself one out (the Tc would give Katz a flush).

With 700,000 in the middle, while the average stack was 200,000, the Ten of diamonds came on the river! Retallick binked a one-outter for like $200,000 in equity! It was the craziest hand I’ve ever seen with my own eyes.

Adam Katz couldn’t have handled it any better. He let out some profanity, which was totally understandable, then said “good luck, everyone” and walked away. I would have found a box of puppies to punt across the room and I’m probably one of the more cool-headed players out there. I couldn’t believe how well he handled it.

For his part, Retallick was completely humble. He was shaking and could barely mutter a word. Everyone was in shock. It may well have been the craziest hand to take place in the room all day. You don’t wish that type of misfortune on anyone, but hey, that’s poker!

At some point in the next 16 hours, I’ll have either bubbled the Main Event or cashed. Gonna get lots of rest and hope the variance gods can somehow produce the latter outcome!

A Successful Day Two

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I played day 2b of the WSOP Main Event today. My starting table was super unusual. I showed up with 43,950 chips to a table full of solid players. Bryan Devonshire, Jon Friendberg and Matt Jarvis were all in a row across from me. Everyone else at the table was solid too. What made it weird was that we were all fairly low on chips. The average stack at our table was ~40k when the average stack in the tournament was more like 60-70k. I was pretty concerned about the table draw, but it turned out to be not too bad. There was hardly ever a big pot played as most of us seemed content on staying out of each other’s way.

One small, funny thing was Devonshire enjoying a $2/minute massage right in the face of a guy at the table who had just confessed he has $50,000 trapped on UB. I don’t think it crossed Devonshire’s mind as being in any way inappropriate. Most of those UB guys were happy to take money from the site, but never actually felt personally responsible for the product they were endorsing. I guess that’s just par for the course in our cashgrab culture.

To give you an idea of how tough the was, here were two topics of conversations discussed at the table:

1. What it was like playing on (a site that long since ago defunct and didn’t service U.S. players after the UIGEA).
2. What stats you like to appear on your HUD when playing online.

Those are two pretty solid indicators that you’re playing at a table full of competent players.

Anyway, given how awful the table draw was, I was fine with having broken even over the course of six hours before the table broke. My next table was much better. Even just within 20 minutes of play, it was obvious to me that I only needed to be concerned about one or two guys.

There were only three pots I played all day in which I put more than 20,000 into the pot. I’ll share the details of the most interesting one.

During 500/1000/100, I raised to 2,400 in middle position with 99. A French player that had shown some spazzy tendencies called in position. The flop nearly brought a tear to my eye, A96. 17.5 hours into the tournament, it was the first set I had flopped. I led out for 3,200 and the French guy called. A 7 came on the turn. I led out for 5,200 and had to contain my excitement when the French guy raised to 15,000. He was fairly pot committed at that point, so I didn’t bother trying to do anything fancy and just shoved my remaining ~38,000. He insta-turbo-snap-called me and showed 77. So awesome! Floated me on the flop and then turned a worse set. Can’t ask to get any luckier!

That got me up to 106,000. I was moved to a new table shortly after that which was much tougher. For the most part, everyone was pretty competent. I peaked at 123,000 before not winning a pot in the final two hours of play to bag up 96,400 for day three.

Overall, I’m very happy with how the first two days have gone. I was only all-in once fading one out and haven’t been below 40 big blinds at any point. Day three is hugely important; it’s pretty much the make or break day for everyone in the field in terms of determining their chances of cashing. I’m happy to have a day off tomorrow because after that, it’s poker day in and day out until the final table.

2011 WSOP Main Event Day One

Monday, July 11th, 2011

I played day 1D of the Main Event yesterday. Things went fairly well and I was able to bag up 43,950 chips from a starting stack of 30,000 by the end of the day. It was about as smooth of a day as you can hope for; I was never below 23,000 (and never above 50,000).

I had a really, really great table draw. The three players to my immediate left were all that middle-aged, married-types who were just happy to be there and waiting for Aces before getting involved. That allowed me to open up lots of pots knowing I was basically going to get three quick snap folds basically every time. Anytime you can play a lot of hands is a good thing. It widens your range so much in your opponents’ minds that it makes it easier to get paid off when you actually have the goods.

Rather than blab about a bunch of banal hands, I’ll just share what I thought were the two most interesting hands of the day.

Hand #1: With a stack of ~35k during 150/300/25, I opened to 750 in middle position with 76hh. One of the middle-aged dudes called. The only opponent I had really been at all concerned about popped it up to 2,050 on the button. Normally I might just give it up there, but I had just won the last few pots and felt like playing the rush, so I called. The middle-aged dude came along as well. The flop was 652 with one heart. Two checks to the aggro 3-bettor who bet 2,300. I called and the middle-aged dude got out of our way. The turn was the 9h giving me a flush draw. I check-called a bet of 5,200. The river was the Ten of hearts giving me a flush.

At this point, I can either lead out or check and hope my opponent bets. I felt like he was screwing around with air so often here that I decided to check and hope he’d fire a third barrel trying to buy the pot. Another reason I like the check is that I’m in a really tough spot for probably all my chips if he raises after I lead out. I didn’t think it was impossible that he sprung to life on the turn with an Ace high flush draw or something. So I checked. He checked behind and showed 65! I was really sick when I saw that hand because a.) he could have easily value-bet the river big there and b.) he was probably never folding to my ~9,000 bet on the river.

So it was nice to win that hand and get up to close to 50,000, but pretty frustrating that he was able to make that great check-behind with two pair.

Hand #2: Near the very end of the day, I got moved to a new table. On my immediate right was an Italian guy with 4,000 chips, but he won two all-ins (both times showing a solid hand) and had 15,000 when the following occurred.

During 200/400/50, it folded to the Italian guy in the small blind who moved all-in for his 15,000 into my big blind. That’s definitely a peculiar play. I squeezed my hand slowly. The first card was an Ace so I started to get excited. The second was an offsuit Ten. Ugh… brutal. It couldn’t get much closer.

I tank for a while trying to pick up a read on him or something. He was mostly just staring stone-faced at the center of the table. It was going to be about a third of my stack to call. I felt like I was probably ahead a fair amount of the time, but figured it was a flip against small pairs and stuff like KQ a lot of the time too. I also thought it was totally possible that he had a better Ace than me (like AK) and didn’t feel comfortable playing the pot out of position so just decided to shove instead.

After thinking for a few moments, I decided 80% of me wanted to call. So to give myself a chance to fold, I asked someone at the table to pull out their cell phone. I said that if the minute-digit on the time is an 8 or 9, I’ll fold, but otherwise I’m calling. A lady pulled out her phone and revealed that the clock ended in an 8. I shrugged and said, “well, I guess I have to fold,” and did so face-up. He mucked, but in the banter that ensued later, claimed he had A9 and I believed him.

He said he couldn’t understand why I didn’t snap-call with ATo to his “short stack” shove. I tried to explain to him that he wasn’t a short stack, but he wouldn’t listen. Forty big blinds is definitely not a short stack in any tournament, especially one with a ridiculous structure like the WSOP Main Event.

I was 80% wanting to call there. I’m curious how much more or less other players would have been interested in calling in that spot because it’s such an unusual one to find yourself in.


Today is a day off before going back for day two. I’m switching hotels over to the Palms which I’m pretty excited about. The place I’ve been staying (Tuscany Suites) has been pretty dusty and it’s messed with my allergies. I haven’t slept as well the past few nights as I would prefer. The WSOP Main Event is definitely not the time or place for not feeling your sharpest. Thankfully someone invented Benadryl so I’m not too worried.

Finally, the Main Event drew a great field-size of 6,865 players this year. Not bad considering there’s $150 million+ trapped on Full Tilt! I think it’s time for all the wizards out there who were making extreme predictions like 2,500 players in this year’s tournament to put their tail between their legs. I’m kicking myself for not pounding over 5,250 players (I adamantly refused a friend’s request to book his over bet saying I loved that side of it, but never actually got around to betting it myself).

Alright, I’m going to go check into the Palms and maybe go take a yoga class today to relax. If you want to follow along the action in the Main Event tomorrow, follow me on Twitter. And follow PokerTips while you’re at it!

Doyle Brunson Changes Mind, Playing WSOP Main Event

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Doyle Brunson caught a lot of the poker world’s attention when he said on Twitter that he’s sitting out the 2011 WSOP Main Event. But after listening to cries from fans and friends, Texas Dolly has changed his mind.

He said in another Tweet, “Dewey just pushed me to do it,” referring to long-time poker pro and friend Dewey Tomko who holds the record for most consecutive WSOP Main Events played. Tomko has played in each of the last 36 Main Events.

Doyle Brunson Skipping WSOP Main Event

Monday, July 4th, 2011

The most legendary player in the game, Doyle Brunson, will sit out the 2011 Main Event. It will be the first time he’s missed poker’s most celebrated tournament in several years. Though he is said to have sat out for a fair amount of the WSOP during the 1980s.

In a Tweet, Brunson explained why:

It’s a shame to see a Main Event come and go without Doyle’s participation, but hey, if the guy is burned out on poker, the guy is burned out on poker. And if the reason why is because of the U.S. government, then it feels fitting, even on July 4th, to say, “screw you, America!”