So after six long weeks in Vegas, it was time for the Main Event.
I was determined not to be one of those zombies you see walking the halls of the Rio, absolutely pokered out, like they couldn’t face another hand, I wanted to be fresh, and to be fair I felt good going into the biggest tournament of the year.
I’d won my seat on the all new Grosvenor Poker online. I’d actually won my seat in the final with just player points, and then won the one seat to the Main with 18 runners.
Some people questioned whether the Grosvenor sponsored pro should be playing the satellite, but I’m like everyone else, I want to play the Main Event and this was a great feeder to play!
During the satty I’d won a flip and someone typed in something about how it must be rigged for me to win.
Before his sentence had disappeared off screen I’d lost a much bigger pot all in pre with AK against a smaller ace. No-one thought it was rigged after that lol!
Anyway, for no good reason, I’d decided to play day 1C, and as it became more obvious I wasn’t the only one with that idea (more than 4000 people ponied up their $10k on that day in the end) a mad dash at midnight the night before was in order.
I’m not that comfortable carrying $10k in cash around with me but the night before the Main Event I was actually carrying over $20k, having the buy-in for one of my mates too.
We’d decided to have a sensible meal and just a beer or two as we prepared, and with Dave Maudlin in charge of picking the restaurant, off we headed to an Italian called Capo’s.
This off Strip restaurant was a Chicago-themed place, and as we knocked the door, wondering how we got in, a hatch opened and a head leaned out.
“Erm, we booked a table for six for dinner.”
“Where’s the other guy?”
“He’s just on the phone outside.”
“Business? He talkin’ business?”
“Erm, he’s trying to describe to his friend where he parked the car in the Rio carpark.”
“Okay, get him in. You guys carrying any weapons?
“Well, no, we’re from England.”
“Okay, you’re in”
The door unlocked and in we walked into a fantastic, dark, atmospheric speakeasy. It was of course all part of the act, but when you’re carrying what our new friend would no doubt describe as “20 large” then you’re allowed a bit of twitching.
Sensible meal negotiated, dash to the Rio to turn $20k into two entries in the WSOP, and we were set.
I was up good and early for breakfast, knowing that if I didn’t eat before the game, it would be nearly seven hours til the dinner break, and off I headed to my seat.
Thankfully, I recognised no-one at my table, and I went about putting my 50k starting stack to good use.
I won a couple of early pots, but really it was all about profiling the opposition, seeing how they played, where they were weak, what I could take advantage of, who called too much, who folded too much (no-one!) and it soon became evident that the guy in seat 8 would be a livewire.
I’d started well and was up to 93k at the first break. First hand of the second level, 150/300, seat 8 made it 1250(!) preflop and I called with J8 of clubs in the big blind. The flop came ace high with two clubs and I check called bets of 2200 and 3500 before the river queen of spades. I gave up and checked, and the livewire showed KQo, rivering a pair to slow him down!
Two hands later he raised pre even bigger, more tha 4x this time, 1350. I round two queens on the button. I was tempted to just call and let him blast off into me, but I wanted to get heads-up and take some control, so I made it 3500 and he was the only caller.
The 996 flop didn’t seem to change anything and I c-bet 3700. He announced raise, and threw in 6200. The dealer explained he had to make it 7400 and livewire man didn’t seem to understand why, but did as he was told.
The turn was another small card and he led 12k. Now I wasn’t loving life, but what could he have? He didn’t seem smart enough to play a bigger pair than mine this way, and he couldn’t have a nine. Pocket sixes was possible, but it’s pretty hard to flop full houses, so wasn’t likely. I decided he was either bluffing or overplaying a hand worse than mine, jacks maybe.
I called 12k and when another small card hit the river I just had to strap on the seat belt and call the river bomb too, 24k! I called and I still wasn’t sure I’d won when he said, “I guess your pair’s bigger than mine then.”
I thought to myself ‘please don’t show me kings,’ and he didn’t, tabling two tens and sending most of his stack to me.
All of a sudden I had 135k and was chip leader in the whole tournament, or at least day 1C of it….but then the wheels came off.
I played two big pots that I had to give up on, three-betting the button with JJ, getting four-bet and giving up on the turn when my opponent fired a second shell, and TT on an ace-high board.
The guy who four-bet me then won a massive pot, and part of me thinks I should have hero folded.
I raised with 55 and picked up three callers, including the guy who had four-bet me 10 minutes earlier.
I flopped a set on T85 and continued for 1400. He min-raised to 2800 and everyone else folded. I decided to call to hide the strength of my hand.
The turn was a three and I checked. He bet 2500 and I thought for a while and raised to 7500. Maybe I could keep the pot small here, thinking there’s not much he can continue here with that I beat, bar T8. However, when he shoved for 32k, a 25k raise, I did seriously think about folding.
I eventually called and was shown 88 and couldn’t find my one out.
Still, I had 80k and was still flying (before this pot no-one else on the table had more than 55k and I had 135k!).
I built back up to 99k before another, even sicker cooler, made me think it wasn’t my day.
At 200//400, a serial raiser made it 1k in mid position, a young guy newish to my table, and who seemed to be pals with the recently arrived Bryn Kenney, called, as did the button and small blind.
I looked at my cards in the big blind and found two beautiful aces.
I decided I’d make the raise big, 5k, to try and get it heads up, and also look weaker than I was, hoping someone who doesn’t know me (ie the whole table) might think I’m just some clown overplaying AK.
The raiser passed, but the young kid peeled and we went to the flop heads-up.
I liked the 652 board, there’s no way a guy who can play would peel 34 or even pocket 66, 55 or 22, given he only had about 40k behind.
I bet 6k and he quickly called. I was pretty sure he had an overpair to this board and I was gonna win a big pot.
I checked the 5 turn, now super confident. I felt like checking would make it look like I had AK or maybe a pair smaller than his, and he’d take the lead sure he was winning.
He bet 8200 and I looked back at my cards, like an amateur might do checking for a flush draw with AK, given the second heart on the turn.
The river was a 10 and I checked again.
He counted down his stack and eventually moved all in for about 30k. I quickly called, sure I was winning, only to be shown pocket tens for a two-outer rivered full house.
I felt like I’d been kicked in the unmentionables as I sent half my stack down the table. I was fuming inside, had built a nice stack and rebuilt it well since the first cooler. Having Bryn three to my left was keeping me in check but with 100k I was happy just to play my cards.
Now I was down to 50k and card dead, and had steam coming out my ears!
I sat tight for an hour, waiting for something to happen, but after a break I felt calmer. I was still in Vegas, playing the best tournament in the world and I’d spent a lot of time away from family and friends to do this, now wasn’t the time to throw it away.
I went down as low as 30k during a hand with Bryn, but I rivered a full house with 53 from the big blind (I wouldn’t recommend playing rags out of position to a guy a lot of respected players say is the best NLHE tournament player in the world) and I kicked on, back over 40k.
Finally, as the end of day one approached, I made another big hand.
The guy who had set over setted me earlier raised in early position and I called in the cut off with TJ of diamonds, bringing in Bryn from the big blind.
The flop came Ad-Qd-3h giving me a royal flush draw.
Bryn checked, the raiser continued for 2200 and I had a decision, raise now, with no intention of folding if he came back over the top, or call and try and hit my card.
Eventually I came to the conclusion that I could call and Bryn might squeeze with no hand, allowing me to get it in and force a fold without having to hit. I called, but Bryn folded and we saw a turn card.
It was the lovely 9d, giving me the second nut flush, with redraws to straight flushes, and my opponent bet again. I just called and we saw a safe black three on the river.
This time he checked, and my summary of the situation was he would fold if he had nothing, but might be in check/call mode with a decent ace so I should bet quite big.
I bet 9000 and he quickly called, mucking on seeing my flush.
After that I didn’t really find any cards or situations, but I got to bag up 60,700, over 100bb for day two, and I was still in the big one!
I loved my table on day two but just didn’t seem to get going. If I’d got some chips on this table I’d have flown into day three.
At one stage I got my stack north of 70k, but just as I was feeling comfortable, I lost one of those unavoidable races that define tournaments, AK in the small blind against the button’s pocket queens.
I then got coolered in such a way that I felt like Hellmuth dodging bullets!
After a raise and two calls, I made it up from the small blind with J8 of hearts. The flop came 224 with two hearts to give me a flush draw. I checked. The preflop raiser continued and a guy with a similar stack to me called. The other guy called and the action was on me. What to do, raise or just call? I folded!
It just felt like I might not even have the best heart draw given the action, and I hate chasing draws on a paired board when I might be dead anyway!
It was pat on the back me time on the turn, when a third heart fell.
The action went check by the raiser, bet from the first caller, fold from the other guy and raise by the preflop aggressor. It all went in and the aggressor’s A2 was behind the nut flush AQ, though he found a 4 on the river to house up!
Still, I was getting short, and great folds don’t help build your stack, though they do maintain it.
I decided to go with a draw when I flopped an up and down with K9 on a 78T board.
Unfortunately it just wasn’t my day, called by 77.
Just for rubs it came KK so I beat just about any hand, can’t he have aces one time?!
So that was it, the worst feeling of the poker year, bust in the WSOP Main Event.
Still it had been a fun trip, from the Colossus qualifiers who all won their dream trip on Grosvenor Poker, to winning a comp at Planet Hollywood, a final at the Venetian and a couple of cashes in the WSOP.
I think we’ll call this trip to Vegas a scoring draw, but don’t worry, I’ll be back next year to do it all again!