Buoyed by my success in the Wynn Daily, next day I played a $500 PLO satellite at the Rio and successfully secured $5k in tournament chips.
Rather than play the $5k PLO, I decided to play the $1100 at the Venetian, which turned out to be a huge event with over a thousand entries, and a 70th place finish for a just over min cash kept up the decent form.
I used the $5k Rio chips to play my final WSOP event of my summer, the $3k PLO8 tournament. Everyone I’d spoken to had said the $1500 PLO8 comp earlier in the series had been the softest tournament ever, so I was definitely looking for a bit of value.
It didn’t really materialise, with most players on my table pretty proficient at hi-lo, and some very good.
The best of the lot was without doubt James ‘Flushy’ Dempsey, a mate from the good old days whom I’ve always got along great with.
I first met Flushy on my very first ever poker trip to play my first hand of live poker, at the 2005 World Heads Up tournament in Barcelona. We both cashed in a €300 limit hold em comp….limit hold em, shows how long ago it was, any further back we’d have been playing in pesetas! (I just checked on the Hendon Mob that this was indeed 2005 and found other cashers in that event to include Padraig Parkinson, Roy ‘the Boy’ Brindley and Jorryt van Hoof, who came second in that comp and is now slightly better known as chip leader going into this year’s WSOP Main Event November Nine!)
I’ve played hold-em and PLO with James on many occasions, but never PLO8 which he regards as his best game (despite owning a hold-em WSOP bracelet). I was mighty impressed, he glided through the gears, never getting in any tough spots and always adding to his chip stack without any dramas.
I think his presence on the table helped though, I wanted to play my absolute best in front of him, and also had a buddy to talk through hands and line check.
PLO8 is probably my third best game after PLO and hold-em
And I wanted to ease myself into this tournament, having ‘bit played’ the game in a while.
However, first hand I was dealt A23J double suited in the cut off with a raise in front of me, so obviously had to play what is a monster starting hand in this game.
The flop came 332, flopping me the nuts, and the pre-flop aggressor continued into three opponents. I obviously had the nuts but with no low draw and a hand that is easily counterfeitable (should my opponent hold the other three with three higher kickers than the deuce) so I was already in a tricky spot.
I just called and the turn brought an eight, meaning I no longer had the nuts and there was now a low possible.
It went check-check and I called a bet on the river, just happy to get to showdown. My opponent showed J932 for the same threes full and no low and the relief in getting half the pot back was soon succeeded by thought of what might have been with my hugely dominating hand.
I stuck to the plan to play tight but within the first two levels I was all in and at risk!
I called a raise with A256 and flopped two pair and a low draw on the Q65dd flop. The raiser continued for the full pot which was 1200, four of us having seen the flop.
While the $3k buy-in had afforded us a rather large feeling 9000 starting chips, that stack was beginning to shrink as I contemplated my next move. If I called I would be letting in the guys behind, and I really wanted the Qxxx hands out as my two pairs could easily fall behind.
The aggressor was likely to have the same A2 as me and I felt I was likely beating him and favourite it win three quarters, so I strapped on the betting boots and repotted, getting it all-in.
He did indeed have the same low draw, as well as the nut flush draw, which looked a little scary, but then I steadied myself and remembered two pairs is a nice favourite over a bare flush draw.
Sure enough a five fell on the turn and a 10 on the river meant I scooped and secured the full double up. Great start!
James was the only other player on the table to have close to my 20k stack -note he’d built his up with no risk to his stack while I’d been all-in, but whatever!
I really felt like this was a chance to build, see a lot of flops in position and use my stack to pressure opponents
However, as quickly as I’d accumulated the big stack, I dusted off most of the profit and left myself with starting stack again.
Maybe I should pass KKxx on the button in this game, but I put in a raise and the big blind defended.
The flop fell AK8 and my opponent check-called the c-bet, with me pretty sure three kings was the best hand here.
The turn was an ace, and he checked again. I now decided he was most likely to have some kind of low draw that he’d fold if I bet again.
However, he check-raised my turn bet and suddenly I had a horrible decision. There was too much in there though and he could well be doing this with eights full, an ace with a low draw, or just with air.
I called, got shown A8xx for a turned bigger house and there went my big stack
I was just thinking what a harsh game this was when I saw James depart in horrible circumstances.
I started the action, limping under the gun with good double suited aces that I was prepared to limp reraise given half the chance. All it did though was start a limpathon that saw seven of us to the flop, including James from the small blind.
The flop fell J72 with two clubs and we all checked to the button. He fired out 1300 and James, next to act, and with five more players behind, went into the tank. Eventually he said ‘pot’, we all passed and the button repotted and they got it in.
I could tell James hated playing such a big pot, but he had no choice will all the players behind and having flopped the nuts with JJQQ. The button also had a monster, with A3 of clubs for the nut flush draw and nut low draw, and the five of clubs on the turn pinged in both.
With no double up, the best player on the table was out, a victim of circumstance.I managed to battle my way to the end of day one, coming back with 20bb for day two.
My first WSOP Day Two of the year started okay, a table of older guys with similar stacks bar one young guy who was playing aggressively.
In two laps of the table the young guy had raised six or seven times, so when I looked down at AK52 double suited I felt like I should three-bet his open.
Maybe this was a mistake, I’d been calling these hands and would have again here if anyone other than the aggro young guy had opened, but once I’d reraised, he set me in and we were playing for the whole bag of marbles.
I was unlucky, he had a big hand too, AQQ2, and while I knew any ace or king could well scoop me the pot, the board ran out dry and that was all she wrote.
The WSOP had beaten me this year
Though I’d more than made up for it with smaller wins in tournaments at the Venetian and the Wynn, plus some decent form in cash games, meant the month in Vegas hadn’t gone without rewards.
Vegas during the WSOP is a gold mine for poker players, not only at the Series, but the action around town because of the Series, and I’m already counting down the days until I go back next June for another go!