Caesars WSOP Circuit Prelim Write-Up
On a short trip to Vegas last week, I played in a $1,000+$60 buy-in prelim event for the Caesars WSOP Circuit. I came into this tournament with optimism that can be credited to some nice live tournament results this year. While my online results have been a much different matter, I've managed to make two final tables in live tournaments this year in just four tries. One was a 4th place finish in a $300 buy-in at the Venetian that drew nearly 600 players. The other you may have read about before, a 5th place finish in the $3,000 buy-in Oklahoma State Championships of Poker. I was fortunate enough to have another good run at Caesars this week that is at least reasonably deserving of a write-up.
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It's worth mentioning that the Bellagio WPT Championship Event was taking place next door to Caesars. For this reason, there was a crop of players in the Caesars $1k prelim whose primary reason for being in town was the WPT Championship Series. Some of the familiar faces I noted were Jimmy "gobboboy" Fricke, Shawn Rice, David Levi, and, though I should state that I'm not entirely sure it was him, Glen Chorny.
Chorny's presence in this tournament was peculiar to me. Barely removed from a $3,000,000 takedown in the EPT Grand Final, I noted his name on a list of participants in the $25,000 WPT Championship. Evidently having busted out of that tournament, he was now at Caesars playing a $1k prelim. Given the time it would have taken him to transport from Monte Carlo to Las Vegas in time for the WPT Championship, he literally hadn't taken a single break from poker after winning the EPT Grand Final. I like to think that if I ever win $3,000,000 in a tournament, I'll spend some time on celebration and introspection before finding myself in a $1k buy-in halfway around the world a couple of days later, but to each his own.
Myself along with those I mentioned were among 240 players competing for a $73,000 first place prize. It didn't take long before I realized there were only about 60 of us left. Having somewhere in the neighborhood of an average stack at the time, I began to think, "is this really happening again?" One major difference between live tournaments and online tournaments is that, often, the players are still quite bad deep in live tournaments. I suppose one major reason for this is an apparent lack of understanding of pot odds amongst live tournament players. It was only until after we were already in the money when I was all-in, called, and covered for the first time in the tournament. Accomplishing that in an online tournament of reasonable stakes is growing close to impossible, or so has been my experience.
This lack of understanding of pot odds that seem to be a trait of the average live tournament player is perhaps the major reason for my success this year. Being able to increase your stack in a tournament without having to go to a showdown or survive an all-in is exceedingly valuable.
The first time I was all-in turned out to be a pretty sweet proposition for me. We were down to two tables. With blinds of 800/1600 and an ante of 300, I was on life support with a stack of 8,000. I should note that we started with 4,000 chips. So here I was, nearly 95% of the field wiped away, and I merely had double the starting stack. As early as the 100/200 level, I had a stack of 22,000, but slowly bled that away through coolers against short stacks and a less-than-spectacular blind structure. Anyway, clearly in a desperate situation, I looked down at Jack-Ten offsuit in middle position. The standard play here would be to shove all-in. However, I decided to try something different. It turned out to work beautifully. I raised to 4,100. One player called. Another player, sensing weakness from the caller and perhaps wanting to isolate me with a bunch of dead money in the pot, shoved all-in. I, of course, called, and was doing cart-wheels in my head after the initial caller folded and my opponent turned over pocket sixes. Anyway, I won the race and nearly tripled my stack.
At this juncture, it's worth mentioning the story of Brian Fineman. He had been at my table for several hours. It didn't take me long to conclude that he was a solid player, which was something (fortunately) hard to come by in this tournament. Brian had been giving me trouble by making a lot of raises before I could act. In this sense, he sort of handcuffed me to needing a big hand before I could play a pot. Having been dealt no such hand, his aggression was a major contributor to why I had a desperately low chip stack.
I couldn't help but feel a sense of relief when Brian got all-in with Ace-Two against someone's pocket Kings. That relief quickly turned to disgust when the flop came with two Aces. Thankfully, a few hands later, the feeling of relief was back: Brian was all-in with King-Jack against Ace-King. Sure enough, he spiked a Jack on the turn to amass a monster stack, which was bad news for me.
A couple of orbits later, I had no choice but to play back with him after looking down at Ace-Ten following his raise. Sure enough, he insta-called with pocket Queens to send me out in 13th place.
I left Caesars after fourteen hours of play a little disappointed with how things turned out. Of course, it was of no surprise to me the next day to learn that Brian won the tournament. While the thought of that puts me on tilt, congratulations are due to him. Suckouts aside, he played great and deserved a win. As for me, the hunt has not yet ended in a kill. Hopefully some upcoming opportunities will yield this; in the next three months, I'm playing in the Party Poker Million, WSOP Circuit New Orleans, and, of course, the World Series of Poker.