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Steven Tabb's

live from the wsop!


Sorry for the lack of posting lately. I was in LA and San Diego from July 1st to the 6th visiting friends.

I played day 1D of the main event and could not be happier with the outcome. I had a terrific table draw…not a single player at the table who I considered to be a threat. I was involved in many big hands, all which came out in my favor. My favorite hand was one that I simply got very lucky on. I called an early position raise with 33. Everyone else folds and the flop comes 233…giving me quad 3s :) . He bets 1200 into a 1400 pot. Usually I would just call, but since he looked really upset and put in his chips in awkwardly, I knew he had an overpair…so I min-raised to 2400! He pretty quickly put his whole stack of 13,000 in and I called even quicker. He had JJ. This hand was simply a gift for me…the other hands obviously had a lot more complications.

I ended the day with 170,275 in chips…3rd overall for Day 1D. You can look at all chip counts at Pokernews gave me a short interview which may or may not show up on there. I’m excited but trying to take it one day at a time. We won’t even get to the money until day 4, so hold your horses people!

I will be leaving Vegas right after this event. I’ve had a great first half of summer regardless how this event turns out, and I’m looking forward to heading back to the east coast to visit friends and family. I’ve been posting a lot more about poker on facebook and was surprised at how many people have responded to my posts and shown my support. For the longest time I was extremely modest about my poker accomplishments and tried to avoid talking about them with other people to avoid envy or seeming ridiculous. But I am glad many friends have shown interest and are rooting for me all the way. Thanks everybody!

To be continued after Day 2.

Bellagio Cup Event 5 Champion!

It’s true! I won my first live tournament on Tuesday. It wasn’t a WSOP event, it was the Bellagio Cup. After booking the win…I could only think about how I came so close to not playing it.

I decided to play the tournament in the first place as a change of pace from the WSOP. I was really tired of playing in fields of 2000-3000 players…so I decided to try out this series instead. I woke up on Monday and felt like shit. I was in absolutely no mood to play in a tournament. But then I remembered the last time I felt this sick before a tourney…last year in the 2k NLHE event which I ended up going super deep and finishing 12th. With this is in mind, I figured the Poker Gods might give me a luck boost for deciding to play.

I was slow to get ready and left the condo only 15 minutes before the tourney was to start. There were no cabs outside my condo so I walked down the street to catch a cab at Circus Circus. I get in the cab, “Bellagio please”. The driver warned me the traffic would be horrible because they were doing major construction right outside the casino. Within only a few minutes, traffic was moving very slowly. By the time we got to the mirage, we weren’t moving at all. The cab driver drove off the strip and onto Industrial Road. We were moving great again and I would just make it on time for the tourney. Then we got onto Flamingo to take the side entrance into the Bellagio…that’s when traffic became horrific. Vegas construction is the worst…they seem to keep repairing roads on the strip which look perfectly new. And in a city that only has transportation via car, traffic jams can cover the entire strip and all roads that connect with it.

We were literally moving one block per minute. And I was just starring at the cab fee…15.70, 16.10, 16.50, 16.90…this was suppose to be a 9 dollar cab ride! After another 10 minutes being stuck, I decided that this was all a waste of time. Finally when we were within about a few blocks from the side entrance, the taxi driver was able to pull to the most right lane and I just got out of the car and walked…passing every car that was stuck. I get the tournament late…but to my surprise, there were only about 20 people registered at that point. The Bellagio preliminaries are very under-shadowed by the WSOP during days that have a NLHE event. Also, people who planned on attending were probably still stuck in traffic!

The players at my table were terrible. Mostly older guys in their 40s, 50s, and 60s who were probably just playing for fun while staying at the Bellagio. They were talking about sports betting and their wives. They played way too passively. As long as I didn’t get unlucky I could make a good run in the field. Within a few hours, however, more players started showing up…many of them probably came after getting knocked out of the WSOP $1500 event early. I recognized a few of the younger players…they were tough online players and they were going to make this tournament twice as hard to win. After registration closed, the tourney had total field of 73 players (buyin of $1080). Perfect. With a moderate amount of luck you can make the final table compared to the World Series where you have to be the Chosen One of the Poker Gods. I was no Chosen One, I’ll take the smaller field any day.

I was put in a several good spots. I had QQ on a KQJ board and got all my money in versus my opponent’s KJ. With the luck I have had over the previous 2 weeks, I was completely prepared for another King to land and be walking out of the tournament. Being 91% to win has meant so little lately. My hand held of course and I was able to start using the big chip stack to my advantage. Several hands later, I had a guy re-raise me all in on the river of a J937T board (no flushes possible) when I was holding J8. I knew by the way he played the hand it was impossible for him to have KQ. I called pretty quickly and he turned over A9 and stormed out of the room. I like receiving gifts.

I was able to keep grinding with my stack before moving to a table with one of the online players I recognized…and of course he had a big stack equal to mine. He was now the big rival at the table. We got involved in a few battles, all of them small or medium pot sizes and I was able to come out on top for most of them. Then, fortune hit me. My fortune came from my rival’s misfortune. He got involved in a huge hand with a weak player who pushed all in preflop to his re-raise. The rival quickly called and happily turned over QQ. The other guy dumbfoundedly turned over 55. With a AJ7 flop, my rival was about to be the biggest stack left in the tournament…but the turn brought a 5 which brought sickness to his face…pain that I can relate to from previous tournaments. The river brought the case 5 just to add insult to injury. He lost the majority of his stack and was soon eliminated in a coin flip a few hands later. Having him out was excellent for my chances. Sorry bud.

The day ended when we got down to 9. I was the only American at the final table. So you know what that means…the IRS was rooting for me to win big time. I played very aggressively at the final table while most players played overly tight and trying to move up the money later from having someone else get eliminated. This tournament wasn’t life-changing money for me, so hell, I’m playing to win. If I get knocked out early because of it, so be it. The cards continued to run hot for me as I picked up a lot of quality starting hands to raise with. When were 3-handed, I won a huge coin flip with AK suited vs 88… I knocked out my opponent and then had almost a 3-1 chip lead heads up. The final hand saw all of our money go in with JT4 board, 2 diamonds. I had J6, he had T6 of diamonds…scary! But he missed his draw and I was announced champion…..yay!

To wrap up the tourney…I almost didn’t play from not feeling well. Also, if I hadn’t been trapped in traffic, I would have registered earlier and been seated at a different table which would completely change my cards and all the luck. I also didn’t text anyone for superstitious reasons…not going to say that is the reason I won, but hey, it can’t hurt.

Winning a tournament is nice. I highly recommend it. It was great timing too because it was my last tournament before the main event. I’m heading to LA tomorrow to visit friends. I will also be stopping in San Diego for the 4th of July. Now if I can just cash in the main event I will go back to Boston very happy. I just said cash, not win.

Picture shot will be added shortly.

Mike Caro’s words of wisdom…plus my last week of tournaments before LA/SD

If you ask a poker player what his major goals are in the world of poker, you will probably hear the following:
1. Win a WSOP bracelet or other major event
2. Make tons of money (insert 7-figure-number here)
3. Get sponsored and recognized by the media
4. Be highly ranked for Player of the Year

These goals are all GIVENS. Asking these questions to professionals will almost always generate one or more of these responses. In addition to these answers, one thing I would really like to do is play 5-Card-Draw with my poker idol, Mike Caro. Back in the day, Caro was considered to be the best live 5-Card-Draw player in the world…and because of his huge edge versus his opponents, he was a great factor in the game dying out. As you know, I am the top ranked online 5-Card-Draw player on PokerStars…a game that I rarely get action for due to its low variance, high skill factor. 5-Card-Draw is a game where a bad player will learn very quickly that they cannot beat a good player…compared to a game like Pot Limit Omaha, where variance can keep a bad player in the game for months.

Though I would probably beat Mike Caro over a long session, the point of the game would really be to have the opportunity to talk with him about poker. Learn about his theories and how the game has changed. Talk with him about 5-Card-Draw and other variations that he enjoys. Obtain the Mad-genius’s wisdom. I read Caro’s Book of Poker Tells. Though the book was genius at the time (written in the 90s), it is now very outdated…as most of the tells he talks about are obvious, easy to fake, or simply non-existent anymore. He does, however, mention several tells relating to draw games…most which would probably still be a factor. Playing this game with Mike Caro would be an experience of a lifetime for me.

In addition to being a genius, Caro writes some excellent articles pertaining to psychologically and life relating to poker. After busting out of Sunday’s 1K, I picked up an edition of bluff magazine and read his new article which is fantastic. In his own words:

“On my drive up [the Rocky Mountains] in my Mini Cooper S, you could fully relate to the twists, turns, ups, and downs. That’s because the car is agile and tiny when dwarfed by its surroundings. And my mind wandered sometimes to poker. For some reason, graphs and charts danced in my mind – a peculiar thing that often happens to me. In this case, I think, the vision of poker charts was stimulated by the mountain drive. You see, we weren’t just going straight up. We were going down sometimes, only to climb again.
“But I thought, ‘What if this were my poker career? What if the Mini was moving just one mile a week?…What if my only reality was the knowledge that I was going down for days at a time?’
“Winning at poker is a long, long climb up Trail Ridge Road with a lot of time spent descending….Time is what destroys you and make your poker game suck. If the descents happened quickly and you could always see the next hill in the distance, you would continue to be motivated. But it’s the time that passes not knowing when or if the next hill will come that confuses us. The waiting makes us impatient and causes us to lose confidence and make desperate moves. This isn’t just a small part of why most players fail to maximize their poker profit; for most, it’s almost the entire reason.
“I have a solution….Conduct your life and your poker career as if it’s interesting, not as if it’s happy or tragic – just interesting….Pretend you’re on the big screen, watching yourself in a movie, playing a part. Things may be horrible, painful, tragic, or worse, but you’re going to act out the adventure not knowing whether great sadness or great reward is ahead as we transition to the next scene. Remember: Not happy. Not tragic. Interesting. When you’re faced with extreme emotions, observe your life, don’t participate.”

These are words to live by as a live tournament player. That being said, I have not had any success since my 18th place finish a few weeks ago. Tomorrow I am going to change it up and play in the 1K at the Bellagio which is a WPT preliminary. The field should be much smaller than a WSOP field and I will have a much better chance to final table. Poker has been frustrating lately, but like Caro says, there will always be many ups and downs. My life is indeed interesting.

If there’s an MLK day, there should be a Mike Caro Day. Hopefully they will add that holiday someday…I am a little bias though.

Haze cover charge, $40. Drai’s table service, $1000. Playing single-zero roulette with Cory Albertson…priceless

Cory, the PokerTips grandmaster blogger, beat me to the punch. I was finally able to me up with him for dinner on Friday night…little did I know this would be the beginning of our adventure. Check out Cory’s blog to get the better and more precise story. To summarize, we found a legendary roulette table. Not only is it single-zero roulette, but when the ball lands on zero, you get half your money back on all your 50-50 bets (red or black, even or odd, 1-18 or 19-36). We found this table in the middle of the brand new casino of Aria.

I know what you’re thinking…”Steve, those tables only exist in parts of Europe.” NO FOOL. Cory is my witness. We got the same odds as a table with two zeros and only lose half when it hits zero. This changes the house edge from 5.4% to 1.35%. You will never want to play regular roulette again. Next time you’re in Vegas, check it out at Aria. Tell them Steve Tabb sent you and your drinks will be free…………okay drinks are always free. :/

Can YOU play this hand optimally??

I played the $2500 6-max today and encountered this difficult hand. I will write this hand in 2nd person to make it more fun.

You have a stack of 5700 in chips. You are in the big blind. Blinds are 25/50.

2nd position raises to 175…he usually raises to 150 and this is the first time he made it 175 instead.
Small blind calls 175.
You are in BB, you have KK. You reraise to 625 total.
2nd position calls. Small blind calls.

Flop is 678, rainbow. SB checks. What would you do?
You decide to bet 1100.
2nd position tank folds.
SB thinks for a long time, and puts his whole stack in…putting you all in for about 4000 more. Can you fold here?
You decide to reluctantly call. SB turns over 66.
No help on turn or river. Game over.

Looking back on the hand, I think I should have made a bigger re-raise preflop…especially since I put the SB on a pocket pair. Obviously the flop is a terrible one, but I thought it was necessary to protect my hand since we were 3 way. If its heads up, I’d be more likely to pot control. Once he re-raised me all in, I still put 99, TT, and 55 in his range…and perhaps a small chance of a hand like 89 suited. I need to stop busting with overpairs.

Vegas is still going well. I’ve only had that one tournament cash in the $1500 6-max, however, I have made a good profit playing single table sit-n-gos at the Rio. Since my cash, I have blanked in the 2500 6max and 1500 NLHE. The pace will be speeding up as I have a few more to tune into over the next week.

I am very upset with the outcome of the Celtics/Lakers series. The Celtics played terrific defense throughout the series but they could never get their offense going with Allen, Garnett, and Rondo all being quite inconsistent…not to mention most of the bench. Oh well, sometimes the better team doesn’t win! The Lakers are now 16-15 in the NBA Finals…the Celtics are 17-4…who’s the better franchise?

Tomorrow will be a little different as I will be playing in a Venetian Deep Stack event. This will be my first non-WSOP event this summer. Hope I run well.

18th in the $1500 6max event…solid cash after a rocky start

Its a good thing I chose to wait a few extra days before I posted.  I was originally going to talk about the early frustration to the start of the WSOP.  I had busted my first 4 tourneys…most which I felt that I played to my maximum potential.

After losing most of my stack early in the 6max event, I thought it was going to be another rough day.  I had dropped to 1400 in chips after losing A9 to 99 on a 79TAQ board.  I was lucky I did not go broke.  From their, lady luck was on my side.  I doubled up twice, and I made a lot of aggressive plays which got paid off.  I ended day 1 as a big stack with 88,400 in chips.  On day 2, I was given a tough table draw, but I was able to mix up my game successfully to thrive off of my ultra aggressive opponents.  At my peak I had over 400,000 in chips, but I was eliminated shortly after 2 upsetting hand.  I finished 18th after losing AJ vs Q9 and AK vs 88.  I can’t complain though, my hands held throughout the tourney and I had a few suckouts of my own to get to that point.  Someday I will get to that final table.

It was nice to have several of my friends cheer for me on rail when I was deep…I felt popular!  Historically, I have done extremely well when I have friends watching me play.  There have been 4 tournaments where I have had multiple friends watch…and in all 4 I went deep and had a big cash!  Coincidence????  It seems like the poker Gods are very nice to me when I have witnesses.

I cashed for $17,488.  This puts me over the $100K mark in career tournament earnings, which I am proud of.  For a guy that plays mostly online, I think I have adjusted very well to the live circuit.

My live results.

I am taking the next few days off.  There are no tournaments that really appeal to me, unless I can sneak into the $1000 Ladies Event.  My friend Jamie will be playing in it…and even she admits that its by far the easiest field.  Jamie is easily one of the top 10 best female tournament players out there.  In general, I think gambling aspect of poker and its logical strategy appeals less to the average woman than to the average man; which is why there are so many less female poker players.

Congratulations to Phil Laak for breaking the World Record on the longest continuous poker session.  Laak played in the Bellagio poker room for over 78 hours straight without sleep…and even profitted $6500! (half which goes to charity).  I used to be a big Phil Laak fan when I was younger…not because he was great, but just because he said extremely random things during poker games and made himself seem crazy.  Some people still think he’s crazy.  I found it amusing.  If you go on Facebook and join the group “High Stakes Poker”, I am officer “Phil ‘The Unabomber’ Laak”…something I was proud of back in 2006.  What What.

Phil Laak breaks world record.

Hopefully lots of fun stuff planned for this weekend before I go back into the grind.  Later.

Mental Preparation

How will this year be different from last year?

Last year, I arrived in Vegas for the first time; with 2 bags of luggage and a backpack. I was beyond excited…this was my first major post-college decision. Arriving at 11 PM from Boston, I took a cab to the Palms Place and forced the taxi driver to drive through the LV strip…just so I could see the real thing for the first time. My expectations were enormous. I unpacked and went right to sleep so I could wake up in time for my first tournament. I woke up the next day, bright and early, to play the 6-max tournament…only to be eliminated within 35 minutes (from 2 brutal bad beats…but like I said, this blog will have minimal whining). I played 5 more tournaments within that next week and I was eliminated early in all of them…I couldn’t even make a dinner break!

After these occurrences, I was no longer happy to be in Vegas. My confidence was shot and my focus disarranged. What happened??? In reality, nothing unusual…just variance. The problem was that I wasn’t mentally prepared for this cold streak to occur. Before my first WSOP, I had played a total of 5 live tournaments. I cashed in 3 of them. Obviously I had inflated short term results. Such small sample size can alter a young player’s idea of short term success.

This year, I arrived the same way, 2 bags of luggage and a backpack…but with a much different mentality.

I came almost a week earlier. I wanted see friends and settle down before I focused strictly on tournaments. My friend Robby picked me up Tuesday night (May 25th) and I immediately settled into my new room at Sky Las Vegas. The very next day, I went on an intense hike with Robby and his brother at Red Rock Canyon. The word “hiking” is a complete understatement…more like boulder climbing/jumping. I’ve hiked up the Rocky Mountains and other mountains in Vegas before, but this was hands down the hardest trail I’ve ever taken. There were probably a dozen times where we had to climb up a single boulder for 20 feet to reach the next area. There were also giant gaps that contained valleys of water, and we were required to jump from rock to rock. Here’s a view close to the top looking downward…

The trail was 2.5 miles to the top and I barely made it. I thought I would never be able to climb back down but you will be happy to hear that I made it back (or I would be blogging on top of a mountain…trapped). Big props to my roommate’s brother for carrying several gatorades and waters…or I would be doomed. I was very happy I made it though, this was great preparation for the World Series. Climbing tough-ass mountains makes sitting at a poker table 12 hours a day seem easy and relaxing. Thus, I will certainly have the energy to put in the concentration necessary to make it deep in tournaments.

A few other mental changes I have made in my head:

1. Not to be upset if I don’t have early success
2. Come into every tournament with positive energy and not focus on the past tournaments of the series
3. Understand that even if I lose every tournament during the whole summer, I will be fine financially. (This is of major importance to all tournament players…I pity those who put a major percentage of their bankroll on the World Series every year)

For those of you reading who will be at the World Series for the first time…enjoy yourselves! Respect the experience, regardless of your results.

If you’re going to read a new blog this year, pick this one! (guarenteed enjoyment)

I hate boring blogs.  Everyone knows that Charles Dickens wrote all that extra detail for the money.  I will not do that to you.  This blog will be different from most.  There will be minimal complaining and nothing that will put you to sleep.

My name is Steve Tabb and I am a new member of the WSOP team.  This will be my second year spending the summer in Vegas for the WSOP.  Last year, I played in 9 events, but only cashed in one.  Thankfully, that cash was a big one for $42,880…which made the summer profitable.

I roomed with Sebastien Sabic last year at the Palms Place.  Sebastien is a veteran blogger and Team PokerStars Pro.  He is a very good 8-game mix player and was a great roommate…except for his addiction to Fiji water.  He will be playing in the big $50K 8-Game Mix Championship…and I plan on heading to the Rio at least one of the days to watch him play.  My first event will probably not be until June 1st; the $2500 2-7 Triple Draw event.

While NL Holdem is my main game, I am also a top tier player at limit 5-Card-Draw and 2-7 Triple Draw.  Unfortunately, there is no longer a 5-Card-Draw event at the WSOP…and according to some random old guy I spoke to, it has not been part of the WSOP since the early 90s.  Go figure!

This year will be different.  I am coming in with a different mentality and I plan on having many fun stories for you kids.  My blog will only get more interesting…much more to come!

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