Monday, May 29, 2006


What a run. Just finished the tournament and though I have some heavy celebrating to do tonight I'm going to try and get all this down now while it's still fresh. I owe that much to 2+2 and the many people there who made this possible.

149 players, $2000+60 buy-in. I'd been running poorly (finally) in the cash games in Vegas and was down a bit over $10k for the Vegas trip, though made over $35k in LA the two weeks before so wasn't having any issues with bankroll from the hit. Played very well in a couple smaller tournaments in Vegas while I was here, though didn't cash, and said FUCK IT and bought into this event, hoping to miss my flight back to Thailand this morning (which I did) as the final table took place on day 2.

We start off at Noon, though my weird schedule had me waking up at 3am, so it was like early evening to me. I was ready for some poker and in the zone. No pro's at my table I recognized. Lets roll.

3 hands into the tournament I made one of the worst plays I've ever made in a tournament. I raise in the CO w/ pocket tens to 175 (blinds 25-50, we started w/ 4,000 in chips), button (a straight forward player I've played cash games with in LA) re-raises to 350. I call. Flop 742 rainbow. I check raise his 3/4 pot sized bet to about 1500. He pushes after a long delay. I call, he has QQ. River a ten and I'm the new chip leader, w/ a horrible table image. This hand is discussed at least once an hour for the rest of the tournament by a stupid loudmouth dude at my table who luck-boxed his way to the final 15. I owe him at least a $2,000 tip for all the action he got me.

I caught a few other small pots and was at about 10,000 when this hand came up in the next level. I limp 55 UTG and 4 more people limp, including another player with about 9,000. Flop 854. I check, he bets 500, BB calls, I call and one more caller. Turn 8. Check to Villian who bets 1500, BB folds, I call and other caller folds. River Q. I bet out 2500 and he pushes for another few grand. I call and he proudly tables his flopped straight and I smile at his poor river play and scoop the pot.

At this point Maureen Fadeuniac and Sam Grizzle are at the table and I have a mountain of chips, by far the most in the tournament. I get KK in the BB, UTG pushes and Maureen pushes her SB as a short stack, I call and see AK and QQ and win the pot.

A bit later I have T9o on the button and limp after 3 limpers. I flop OESD and its checked through. Turns brings a beautiful board of 7826 with two clubs. BB bets out 500 into about 900, MP pushes for 2100. I smooth call and BB folds. MP has a lower straight and I grow my stack further. There were a couple of other pots I won after this but I can't recall them.

The next hour goes by uneventful, I'm playing very conservative with my large stack because there is still no ante and I have a couple hundred big blinds, by far the chip lead and nearly have an average stack for 'in the money' (which was 18 players) with close to 100 people left. Mike Mizrachi on a short stack moves to my table, and though I didn't know who he was at the time, James Van Alstyne was at the table w/ about 70% of the chips I had, and was tournament 2nd in chips.

I raise in the CO w/ AQcc and Van Alstyne re-raises to 2500 (I made it 600, blinds 100-200). I call. Flop QJ2, rainbow. He bets 2500, I make it 9000, he pushes for about 13,000 total and I feel like vomiting. I have to call the extra 4,000 with all that dead money in the pot, though I was certain I was destroyed. I call and luckily he has the AQdd. Chop chop. We go on a break and when we come back blinds are 100-200 w/ a 25 ante, AKA, time to start stealing blinds.

A few hands after the break I raise AKhh UTG to 800, Mizrachi pushes two seats behind me for about 2100, I call. Flop KKT, turn and river brick and I hold up vs AQss and am glad he is off of the table.

I kept growing my stack good and staying out of the way generally, with some calculated PF raises and re-raises of overly tight players.

At about 60 players left I get 86cc in the BB, UTG makes it 1200 to go with blinds at 200-400 w/ 50 ante. Folds to me. He'd been on tilt and raising a lot. He had a lot of chips but lost about half of them in a hand about 20 minutes before this. Like a retard he doesn't think that he still has way over average, only that he doesn't have what he once did. I think he is highly susceptible to giving me the rest of those chips so I call.

Flop K82 with one club. I check, he bets about half pot. I think he either has me killed or has air. I'm fairly certain I'm ahead but see no point in raising because he wont call unless I am beat. I smooth call. Turn brings the 5 of clubs. I now have 2nd pair and a flush draw. I check. He goes all in for a little less than that pot and I have a brutal decision to make. If I call and lose I still have a mountain of chips, though probably am no longer chip leader. If I win it's disgusting how much chips I would have. I really don't put him on that king. Everything about him right now tells me he is on tilt and looking to commit suicide. I call. He has 85o. Turned two pair. I river the club and the rest is history. James Van Alstyne told me after the hand (our table broke after that hand) that it was a good call, I'm still not certain.

We get down to about 50 players with me on an utter rampage. All the hands just kind of blend together now but I made two calls that I can remember w/ TT after an EP short stack pushed all in and both times ran into Ax and won.

At about 40 players this hand came up: I was still by far the tournament chip leader but hadn't been stealing blinds tremendously because by this time I had near a final table average stack and so no point in playing too loose and ruining my table image. The blinds were getting big and there were a lot of desperate short stacks who would call with a wide range.

I get T2hh in the SB and hadn't re-raised PF once at my new table. A fairly large stack raises in the CO and I decide to get jiggy and re-raise all in for about twice the pot. He calls pretty quickly w/ AQo (bad read) and after a board of KT3xx he's out of the tournament and that loud mouthed douche bag is going crazy in seat 2.

Very next hand I get KK on the button and raise after one limper. Limper calls and after a flop of 765 he checks to me. I bet 5000 into a pot of about the same. He thinks for a long while and calls. Turn is a 5 and he checks again, I push and he calls after a very long time thinking with A6, no draw. I'm not certain if this was the correct play either but I just didn't put him on a straight here and with my current table image I thought it very likely I'd get paid off very well with a wide range. I get even more chips after he called and he looked disgusted. Thanks DB for talking up how horrible I was ;)

No more big hands but the size of ante's and blinds, combined with how large my stack was and the fact that the money was creeping closer game me a great opportinuty for further growth. I cooled down for about a half hour and slowly started to go crazy on blind stealing. I think it was evident that I was at least stupid enough to double anybody at the table up with a trash hand, or that I could just as easily have AA as 72o, so people started folding to me a ton. It was clear most of them badly wanted to make it to the money. The only time I showed down in this time period was the hand that burst the bubble, I called a shorties all in from the SB w/ TT and flopped quads vs AJ. I was actually very sad the bubble had popped and think I may have actually wanted to fold that hand, it was 19 handed for at least a half hour. I was still an enormous chip leader going into the money.

Two hands of interest I played on the bubble. I cold called James Van Alstynes raise from UTG w/ JTcc from UTG+1. Flop Kxx w/ one club. Get bets half pot and I call. The whole point of this hand was to take this pot away from him. Turn a J and he checks. I bet half pot and he raises me huge. Dammit. I'm done playing pots with this dude. He either read me like a book or is on a huge bluff. I give it to him. He later told me he had AK.

19 handed I raise yet again from the button, BB looks fed up with my crap and decides to call. Flop 97x giving me a gut shot. He bets into me for about 3/4 pot, I smooth call. I have him covered by a ton, he has about an average stack left after betting the flop. Turn brings a 3rd diamond and is a low card. He looks frustrated and it seems like he is trying to get the courage to push. He finally checks and he mucks after I auto push...I get silly and show my gut shot. Floating is fun.

18 handed I opened from the button w/ T4o and got re-raised for the first time in what seemed like weeks. That was my signal. With over double the average final table stack with 18 players left, it was time to cruise. I hardly played a hand until we were 10 handed (which brought us to one table, with one more needing to bust for the final 9 and the break until the next day). A solid player (Rick Salomon, the star of One Night in Paris) raised from UTG and I decided to play a pot with him and called 2 spots behind w/ 88. Flop AKJ and he checks to me. I fire 5000 into the pot which was the amount he had raised PF. He smooth calls and I shut down, we check to the river and he shows AQo.

At this point I realized I was way too tired and excited (an odd combination) to be playing any more poker. I folded every hand until we finally lost a player, about twenty minutes, and went back to the hotel for some much needed sleep as the chip leader, still.

As I was a bit high (my biggest previous cash was $15.8k, I was almost gauranteed to eclipse that here) from my rush and playing a bit wildly and not focusing properly at times, I decided to devote my 5 waking hours before the tournament on day 2 to bringing myself to the proper mindset.

I had a very nice slow breakfast at the fantastic Bellagio buffet, went shopping for about 2 hours picking out all new clothes to wear to the tournament, bought some ginseng to focus w/out having the rush of Red Bull (which I'd been pounding on day 1), got a massage and a hair cut and meditated about a million times throughout the day. I needed to focus, despite being excited at all the money I might make.

I chatted with some friends who have cashed deep in tournaments of this caliber and bigger ( who has more Final Table appearances than anybody I know and Ricky Grijalva who got 4th in the 2004 WPT Championship event and FieryJustice from 2+2 who recently cashed for close to 100k in the Stars Million Gauranteed) and all told me some variation of don't do anything stupid, don't get out of line and wait it out and see what the table is going to be like. Ricky said to try and get creative w/ the chips I have that gave me a big lead, and then shut down if that doesn't work. Danny said just to chill (his standard response to anything in Poker is 'PLAY TIGHT AS FUCK!!!!'), and Fiery gave me some fantastic advice...'don't do anything retarded'.

So I arrive at Mandalay just as they are getting ready to deal and from hand #1 I am blown away at how crazy everybody is playing. Awesome, makes my job very easy. I start w/ 130k, second stack has 109 and everybody else is 80k or less. Two micro-stacks and average is about 60k. First place money is $106,900, second $60kish, 3rd $35kish, 4th $17kish. I decide to sit on my chips and let these guys go to war. If I lose chip lead (as likely will happen by letting them all bust each other) thats alright because I'll have a ton of information on them and be ready for some shorthanded war, and a bigger gauranteed payday.

I fold everything and we get to 7 handed within a half hour. I finally pick up a descent hand I can't fold w/ AKcc in EP, I raise to 3 big blinds and everybody mucks.

The next hand I really think gave me the tournament. I decide to play another pot w/ 66 and raise to 3 BB's. Guy next to me who is now stack number 2 in the tournament re-raises me huge. He had been the key nut job of the tournament so far re-raising many times before the flop. He showed down 2 ace king's but I'm certain he had a huge raising and re-raising range. I decided to make a stand against him and get a ton of chips in the process and pushed. Fiery telling me not to be retarded was ringing in my head as he went into the tank for what seemed like an hour. He kept saying 'I've never laid these down before the flop' and doing all manner of hollywooding, kept grabbing his stack and shaking his head etc. I really thought I was screwed. He finally folded but didn't show. He said it was queen's but if he's going to say it he'd have shown them I think...I'd say 50/50 he was trying to save table image and not make it clear he was re-raising w/ garbage.

After this people folded to me a ton. It was such a cake-walk. I had made a very loud and clear statement that hand, and it was heard.

After that people played kinda loose still until we got to 6 handed. Rick Salomon raised my BB from the button and I decided to call w/ Q2o and outplay him. Flop three clubs and I have the queen, seemed perfect. I bet out, he mucks it. I continue playing tight.

An orbit later Salomon has less than 12 BB's after seemingly going on tilt and spewing a lot of chips to raising PF giving up to flop bets or cold calling raises and then folding to c-bets...he raises UTG, I raise enough to put him all-in w/ AKcc and he calls w/ A7dd and I win the hand. 5 handed people began to tighten up a lot. McEvoy and Van Alstyne were both out and the only player I was worried about was Epstein to my right, but his stack had been dwindling as he was playing very tight. 3rd place was a huge jump in prize money from 17k to 30k and I was sensing people wanted that money. I began raising like a wild man to 3 big blinds about every other hand. I was doing it in a very conservative seeming way but raising constantly nonetheless. They folded so quick the majority of the time it was clear nobody had any interest in playing a pot with me. On the few occasions I was called I had an enormous success ratio betting the flop or turn on a stone bluff c-bet.

Epstein showed me KTo and a naked ace on two occasions from the SB and gave me a walk. An old nit who had the unfortunate position of being the BB when I was the button mucked extremely quickly each time I raised his blind. Easy game.

When the 4 handed bubble burst I had over half the chips in play. One of the first 3 handed hands we played I completed J7o in the SB, old LAG checks the BB. Flop QJx with two spaids. I check, he bets 9000 (about 2/3rds pot) and I raise to 25k. He calls after a long deliberation. Turn K spaids. I check, he bets the pot. I decide to call, probably a horrible decision that ranks #2 in the tournament to my TT vs QQ hand early on. River brick, I check and he pushes, I fold. Yuck.

A few hands later I get 86o in the SB and complete again when folded to me. Flop 764. I check, old LAG bets the pot, I triple his bet and he calls. Turn 3, making a one card straight. I check and he checks, river an 8, giving me two pair. I check and he bets the pot, which is very large at this time and half his stack. I call it and he mucks his hand when I show mine, I was fairly certain I was good as he made a ton of c-bets but saw no point in raising him. He mucked and at that point I had over 2/3rds of all the chips.

Within ten minutes he pushed for about 13 BB's and I called w/ KQo and got my K on the river vs 66. Heads up was utter bliss because I had him outchipped 5 to 1. It was like playing my SNG's again, he had about 16 BB's to start and was being such a weak tight puss, I just kept pushing him. He showed me an Ace twice heads up and folded. Gawd.

He finally pushes his SB w/ QJo and I call w/ AKhh and after a scary board of KTxJx I am the 2k buy in Mandalay Bay Poker Championship Pwnerer. Word.

Thanks for reading, now get back to the tables!

Wild Bill