WSOP Part 1 – Big hands don’t always mean bigger pay-outs

My WSOP take-home ticket:
Don’t worry about protecting a big hand when folding or calling is the obvious correct form of play.

What a whirlwind start to my 2011 World Series of Poker.

After less than a day at home following a week in Magaluf for my mate James’s stag do, I headed to Vegas, landing at 9pm Wednesday, and after dinner with housemate Karl Mahrenholz, Nick Gibson, Skalie and Tim Blake, tried to get over the eight hour time difference in time to be up for midday and the $1500 PLHE.

I woke at 7am but felt good for the event, and quickly fell in love again with the WSOP….how can these players play so bad?! People were dusting off stacks left right and centre, and pot limit events seem to add to the madness, with randoms screaming ‘pot’ at the dealer and making massive bets they’d never make in no limit events.

It’s said you can’t afford to lose your first hand of significance in these 1500s, where starting stacks are just 4500, but I managed to and still make a comeback.

At 25-25, a young guy min-raised and was called in two spots. My AQ in the small blind was only good to make up the 50 bet and the big blind came along.

I checked the Q22 flop, the original raiser bet 125, one guy called, I made it 350 and the raiser passed. The caller called again though.

A seven on the turn saw my 550 bet called, and when I bet 850 on the end I was expecting a quick call from a QJ type of hand and a nice pot. When he raised me to 2850 I felt a little ill inside, what could he have to have called a raise? Quads was my best guess, in the end I had to fold.

I soon doubled back up, three-betting the button with jacks and getting it in on a 244 flop against sixes, and from there I built quickly.

I’d got up to 25k when my table broke and I was seated with an even bigger stacked Antonio Esfandiari one to my left. I played pretty tight, as you should in pot limit events (not that you’d know from the suicide squads slitting their own throats with playable stacks).

After about an hour of not much (including leaving to watch the end of NBA finals game five on the big screen!) I found AK in early position and raised to 900 at 200-400. Antonio made it 2500 next to speak and all others folded.

With deep stacks, and also for deception, I just called

The flop came KT7 and the action went check-check. A nine on the turn didn’t change things, I checked again and Antonio bet 3600. I made it 8000 and he quickly called.

A river six meant one card made a straight but it was pretty impossible for either of us to have it, and I still liked my hand, and with 14k left and over 20k in the middle, I moved in.

Antonio thought for ages, asking me lots of questions that went unanswered, and I was now pretty sure he had a hand like queens and wanted a call.

Eventually he slid in the call and I doubled up to chip leader

Antonio busted soon after, but the table didn’t get any easier with durrrr replacing him. However, I wielded my big stack well and finished the day 2nd in chips of 85 runners left from 760 starters, 72 getting paid.

Day two started without much incident, the bubble bursting when last year’s winner James Dempsey busted in a big pot.

With 50 left I got in a huge chiplead pot that went wrong and I paid the ultimate price.

I clashed with Brian Rast, a nosebleed stakes cash player who is just a really good poker player, but I think I probably made at least one mistake.

At 1k-2k I had 105k and Brian just had me covered. I opened UTG with two black aces to 4500, Brian called the button and the blinds passed.

The flop fell Ts9s4h and I led 7000, which Rast quickly raised t0 21k.

This was now a huge decision

On such a draw heavy board I felt I needed to protect my big hand, but looking back, and having discussed with some of the other English guys out here, I think folding or calling is the correct play.

I raised the pot however, and Rast moved in with his set of fours which held to give him the chip lead and ultimately the momentum to win the bracelet, while I sulked off in 54th for $4000.

Next day I played the $1500NLHE but never got going, eventually squeezing allin with my last 2000 from the big blind at 100-200 and getting the raiser to fold but called by the button with two sevens.

As we all know, Sunday is a day of rest, so I’m chilling by the pool before going to a sports bar to watch game six between Miami and Dallas in the NBA finals, then a bit of cash action before the first PLO event of the series, the $1500 tomorrow.









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