WCOOP Main Event, Day 1

If you’ve been following my WCOOP posts, then you know that there were definitely times when I got impatient and tried to force things: questionable bluffs, ambitious value bets, spazzy shoves, excessively heroic calls, I made every mistake in the book at some point in the series. Obviously I wanted to avoid making those mistakes in the biggest event of the series, so I wrote up a little meditation to help me stay focused and patient.

I’m kind of embarrassed to post this, because it’s pretty hokey, but I do think it helped, so maybe it can help you too:

“This is a long and profitable tournament. You are lucky to be playing it. It deserves your best effort and full attention. There is nothing else you would rather be doing than playing this tournament.

There will be many good opportunities. Wait for them. Conserve your chips. Do not invest in questionable situations, and do not wade into murky waters. Do not bet on guesses when there will be time to form better reads.

Take your time. Think before you act, even, especially, when the decision seems trivial. Pay attention to bet timing and sizing. What does he have? When you bluff, what do want him to fold? When you raise, what do you want him to call? Have you considered all of your options?

This is a long and profitable tournament. You are lucky to be playing it. It deserves your best effort and full attention. There is nothing else you would rather be doing than playing this tournament. Play your best.”

I read this to myself before I started playing and during every break. Later in the evening, when the only tables I still had open were the $5K Main Event and the $1K Second Chance, I had this up on my screen as a constant reminder.

The pre-flop action in this tournament was intense from the very beginning. This is an extreme example, but it gives you an idea of how much people were playing back at each other:

PokerStars No-Limit Hold’em, 5200 Tournament, 60/120 Blinds 15 Ante (9 handed) – PokerStars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

MP1 (t20391)
MP2 (t19448)
MP3 (t37186)
CO (t18108)
Button (t52811)
SB (t10829)
Hero (BB) (t28608)
UTG (t22249)
UTG+1 (t10452)

Hero’s M: 90.82

Preflop: Hero is BB with J, 3
UTG bets t240, 5 folds, Button raises to t389, 2 folds, UTG calls t149

Flop: (t1093) 4, 10, 7 (2 players)
UTG checks, Button bets t511, UTG calls t511

Turn: (t2115) 5 (2 players)
UTG checks, Button bets t1189, UTG raises to t2880, Button raises to t5289, UTG calls t2409

River: (t12693) 3 (2 players)
UTG checks, Button checks

Total pot: t12693

Button mucked 7, 2 (one pair, sevens).
UTG had 4, 4 (three of a kind, fours).
Outcome: UTG won t12693

For most of the first day, I operated under the assumption that there was a good chance any of my raises would get 3-bet and that any of my 3-bets would get 4-bet. Consequently, I played a snug, boring game and I don’t have a lot of interesting hands to share with you from this tournament.

What was interesting was a song that came on while I was playing. I listened to Spotify pretty much non-stop while I playing the series, and after exhausting a few of their other playlists, I was listening to Pitchfork‘s Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s during the Main Event. One song fades, there are a few seconds of silence, and then I hear,

“Yeah, I’m losing my edge.
I’m losing my edge.
The kids are coming up from behind.
I’m losing my edge.”

This is actually the opening to a song by LCD Soundsystem, but it’s a hell of a thing to hear when you’ve just turned 30 and you don’t play online poker nearly as much as you used to and there are all these guys you’ve never heard of before who all seem to know what they’re doing and it seems like every time you google an opponent’s name the first hit is either High Stakes Database talking about his wins at 50/100 PLO or the PokerStars blog talking about he dominated the final table of a recent Sunday Million or SCOOP tournament.

So I had a good laugh at that but I kept my head down and plugged away. After a few hours of nitting it up and not catching much, I’d blinded down to about 14 BBs. I picked up AKo and ended up chopping with another AKo. Two hands later I open shoved AQs for 15 BBs from the CO. The SB called with KQo to double me up. Two hands after that I doubled again:

PokerStars No-Limit Hold’em, 5200 Tournament, 250/500 Blinds 60 Ante (9 handed) – PokerStars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

Button (t14879)
SB (t22362)
BB (t23123)
UTG (t22248)
UTG+1 (t96537)
MP1 (t65036)
Hero (MP2) (t15710)
MP3 (t63133)
CO (t18350)

Hero’s M: 12.18

Preflop: Hero is MP2 with K, A
3 folds, Hero bets t1000, 4 folds, BB calls t500

Flop: (t2790) 3, 3, A (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets t999, BB calls t999

Turn: (t4788) 7 (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets t2666, BB calls t2666

River: (t10120) Q (2 players)
BB checks, Hero bets t10985 (All-In), BB calls t10985

Total pot: t32090

BB had 5, A (two pair, Aces and threes).
Hero had K, A (two pair, Aces and threes).
Outcome: Hero won t32090

Given the kind of action I was getting despite my nittiness, I felt vindicated in my decision not to get too out of line. Then in the next level:

PokerStars No-Limit Hold’em, 5200 Tournament, 300/600 Blinds 70 Ante (9 handed) – PokerStars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

UTG+1 (t59661)
MP1 (t15965)
MP2 (t30852)
MP3 (t13174)
CO (t98427)
Button (t69983)
Hero (SB) (t43714)
BB (t59207)
UTG (t10126)

Hero’s M: 28.57

Preflop: Hero is SB with J, A
5 folds, CO bets t1200, 1 fold, Hero raises to t3600, BB raises to t7800, 1 fold, Hero raises to t43644 (All-In), BB calls t35844

Flop: (t89118) 8, A, 2 (2 players, 1 all-in)

Turn: (t89118) Q (2 players, 1 all-in)

River: (t89118) 4 (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: t89118

Hero had J, A (one pair, Aces).
BB had 10, 10 (one pair, tens).
Outcome: Hero won t89118

PokerStars No-Limit Hold’em, 5200 Tournament, 350/700 Blinds 85 Ante (9 handed) – PokerStars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

Button (t44286)
SB (t18240)
BB (t32885)
UTG (t11119)
UTG+1 (t110948)
MP1 (t81380)
Hero (MP2) (t83778)
MP3 (t21688)
CO (t14290)

Hero’s M: 46.16

Preflop: Hero is MP2 with K, A
3 folds, Hero bets t1400, MP3 calls t1400, 1 fold, Button calls t1400, 1 fold, BB calls t700

Flop: (t6715) 10, 8, K (4 players)
BB checks, Hero bets t3333, MP3 raises to t20203 (All-In), 2 folds, Hero calls t16870

Turn: (t47121) 7 (2 players, 1 all-in)

River: (t47121) 8 (2 players, 1 all-in)

Total pot: t47121

Hero had K, A (two pair, Kings and eights).
MP3 had K, Q (two pair, Kings and eights).
Outcome: Hero won t47121

I won a few more medium pots, then went card dead again towards the end of the night, made a few moves that didn’t work out, and ended the day with 20ish BBs, a healthy but not ideal stack. With the bubble approaching, I knew I was going to have to nit it up again the next day, but I was excited just to be there.

It was nearly midnight, so I would have welcomed the chance to hit the hay and rest up for Day 2 of the Main Event. That wasn’t an option, though, because I was still in the $1K Second Chance, and we were getting down to it. This was the only notable hand from that tournament so far:

PokerStars No-Limit Hold’em, 1050 Tournament, 100/200 Blinds 25 Ante (9 handed) – PokerStars Converter Tool from FlopTurnRiver.com

CO (t19580)
Button (t14087)
SB (t23987)
BB (t16749)
UTG (t37817)
UTG+1 (t16725)
MP1 (t10047)
MP2 (t17606)
Hero (MP3) (t21136)

Hero’s M: 40.26

Preflop: Hero is MP3 with A, K
2 folds, MP1 bets t400, 1 fold, Hero raises to t999, 4 folds, MP1 calls t599

Flop: (t2523) 6, 2, Q (2 players)
MP1 checks, Hero bets t1212, MP1 calls t1212

Turn: (t4947) 6 (2 players)
MP1 checks, Hero bets t1212, MP1 calls t1212

River: (t7371) Q (2 players)
MP1 checks, Hero bets t17688 (All-In), 1 fold

Total pot: t7371

Hero didn’t show A, K (nothing).
Outcome: Hero won t7371

So I’m chugging along nicely in that tournament, trying just to play well and not think about how tired I’m going to be tomorrow. There was still a thing or two I wanted to do in Montreal – most notably the Latin Quarter, a student hot spot near the Université du Québec à Montréal. Oh well. This was more important.

It’s 2:30 in the morning, and an aggressive player opens the CO. I 3-bet ATo from the SB. He min-4-bets. I go into the tank. Clock is ticking down. I drag the bet slider all the way to the right, take another second to think, and then click “Raise.”

Nothing happens. Then that “Connecting…” bar appears on the screen, and the wireless icon in the bottom right hand corner of my screen is “Looking for signal…”. I stare helplessly, willing the connection to come back. I’ve been playing on this connection for nearly three weeks without the slightest trouble, and it picks now to go out?!

I get down on my hands and knees, unplug the router, wait 60 seconds, replug it. Nothing. Try again with the router and modem. Nothing.

Shit. What are my options? I’m too tired to think clearly. I’m picking up other connections, but they’re all Secure. Blinding off would cost me ten to fifteen thousand dollars in equity. It’s not an option.

I don’t know any of the neighbors. Do I bang on doors in the middle of the night, try to explain the situation, beg for a wireless password? If I could get someone to open the door and listen to me, I could make it worth their while. Offer them enough cash that they’d be glad I woke them up at 2:30 in the morning. How much to offer? $200? $500? It would easily be worth it. But I don’t have that kind of cash, and there’s no ATM around. So then there would be the added complication of getting them to accept an IOU.

I only know one person in Montreal, and though I have Luis’ phone number, I don’t have any way of calling me. Skype was my only phone.

The apartment is just a few blocks from Avenue du Mont-Royal. There are a lot of restaurants and such on that street. I don’t remember seeing any 24-hour places, but I could probably find something eventually. But how long would that take?

I resolved to walk in that direction but also see if I passed anyone on the street who looked like they could be helpful. I wasn’t sure what to expect at this hour, but if I was really lucky maybe I would meet a student on the way home from a late-night study session or something. I grabbed my laptop and stepped out in the Montreal night.

There weren’t many people out, and the first few didn’t look like they had homes, let alone wireless routers. I saw a young couple approaching, but they were so drunk they could barely walk. From the way they were giggling and leaning in to each other, it also seemed like they weren’t going to be wanting company.

Then a cab drove past, and finally I had a plan I felt good about. I walked to the busiest street in the vicinity and hailed a cab. I asked if he know of any place that would have internet at this hour. I was ready to ask in French if necessary, but he understood me. “Probably somewhere on St. Denis,” he told me. The Latin Quarter. I couldn’t help smiling as I hopped in.

Ten minutes later we hit Rue St. Denis, and I spotted an all-night coffee shop and internet cafe almost immediately. “Perfect!” I told him, left him a generous tip, and dashed inside. I bought a stale muffin, got the wireless code, and was back in action less than forty minutes after my disconnection. For all I know, I might have been about to jam into Aces, so it could even have saved me money.

Of course I was getting short, but I doubled almost immediately with TT > AKo. Looking at the hand again, I see know that it was versus the same player who would eliminate me from the Main Event the next day.

Unfortunately I was still frazzled from my little crisis and couldn’t get my head back in the game. I was playing really badly. I made a stupid shove with A7 but sucked out on 77. A few orbits later, we were down to four tables. The button opened for a min-raise. I jammed 20 BBs with T9s in the SB. Assassinato, who was already one of the chip leaders and who went on to chop the tournament, woke up with JJ and that was the end of me. He writes an excellent poker blog, by the way; I suggest you check it out.

I took a cab back home. It was after 4AM, and I was eager to get what rest I could before what I hoped would be another big day. The internet was still out at the apartment, but that was a problem I could solve in the morning.

2 thoughts on “WCOOP Main Event, Day 1

  1. Nice read, and tough luck – can’t help thinking though, having read a few of these internet connection mishap stories: How can you possibly play online poker for tens of thousands and not have backup internet? I don’t get it. It’s probably the most important thing to do from a potential risk:ease of mitigation ratio analysis, right after having a spare laptop on hand. All you need is a cell phone with tethering capability – like, for example, every single smartphone. Internet goes out, you plug in your phone, and done. The carriers will certainly make you pay if you don’t have a regular plan, but for $15k in equity? It boggles the mind!

    On a less preachy note – somehow all of these hands seem super boring. Not meant as criticism of the play, just that tournament poker in general seems to have so so little room for creativity. Anything below 50BBs just seems to be so super standard virtually all the time and your equity is just coming from the poor suckers who don’t fully understand short stack play.

    • Yeah nothing to say in my own defense really. I had this when I was in the US, but my phone’s tethering doesn’t work when roaming and I was too lazy/irresponsible to get another backup for the three weeks I was in Canada.

      You’re largely right about tournament poker, though I think you’re underestimating what it means to “fully understand short stack play.” I certainly don’t, and the fact that the best players keep adding more and more new tricks to their arsenals suggests that probably no one has mastered it yet. It’s not a trivial or uninteresting skill, though you’re right that it doesn’t translate as well into blog posts (videos are a better medium for communicating the subtleties IMO).

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