WCOOP Main Event, Day 2

In my essay Gray Friday, I talked about how online poker has contributed to my increasingly heavy reliance on the internet:

“The more time I spend on the internet, the more disdainful I become of the physical world. I work online, I play online, I shop online, and I meet people online. Owning physical things is mostly a nuisance to me. They have to be stored, carried, cared for, and packed or discarded every time I move, which is often, thanks to the freedom that online poker provides me.”

Not only was my trip to Montreal for the purpose of playing poker online, but it was arranged entirely online. I comparison priced flights online. I found and booked an apartment on AirBnB. Trip Advisor helped me figure out the best way to get from the Montreal airport to my apartment. I used Yelp to find places to eat and things to do during my time off. I used Google Maps to find the best bike routes around the city. And of course I chronicled the whole trip on my blog.

When I was comparing apartments, the reliability of the internet was naturally my primary concern. I ruled out a few otherwise good places because they had a connection shared by an entire building rather than their own modem. The owner of the apartment I ultimately chose assured me that the connection was quick and reliable, and until now it always had been. He did warn me that there was a monthly limit of 50 GBs, but I’d forgotten about that because I didn’t think there was any chance of running into it.

I’m still not sure that that’s what happened, but it’s my best guess. As I mentioned in my Day 1 post, I’d been listening to Spotify near-continuously during the WCOOP. I streamed The Lederer Files and downloaded the 2+2 Pokercast. I unwound after stressful days with Aziz Ansari, YouTube clips, and The Colbert Report (also available in Canada). And I just may have shot myself in the foot during the most important part of the series.

In a way, the timing was fortuitous. At least my disconnection occurred after the end of Day 1 of the Main Event and before the start of Day 2. So while it was harrowing to find a new internet connection while deep in the 1K, it would have been infinitely worse on the bubble of the 5K.

As it happened, I woke up on Monday morning, still without internet in the apartment. Among other things, that meant that I couldn’t actually look up the coffee shop where I was the night before or exactly how to get there. It was a pretty ideal work space, though, so I left myself plenty of time to find it and hopped on a trusty old Bixi.

I impressed myself by beelining straight to it. That gave me nearly an hour to have a coffee and a sandwich and get settled in. The only downside was that the bathroom, which I’m usually eager to use at every break, required a key, so I had to go request that every hour.

I started the tournament with a somewhat short stack, and it got even shorter when I lost a flip to a really short stack with KQs to his JJ. After that, all I could do was nit it up until we were in the money.

That’s not the way I’d prefer to play the bubble, but the payout structure mandated it. A min-cash was worth more than $12,000, and the next few payjumps were roughly $400 each. The implication of that is that sneaking into the money with a very short stack is preferable to risking elimination in order to accumulate chips, because making it into the money with twice as many chips might win you only a few thousand more dollars or less.

I even ended up folding AKo pre-flop when we were 2 or 3 places from the money. I was in the BB with 25 BBs. The chipleader, who’d been bullying the bubble quite successfully, opened for a min-raise from early position. I was ready to shove on him, but then the SB shoved 60 BBs, the second-biggest stack at the table, into the only guy who could bust him. Even if we weren’t on the bubble, this would probably be a fold, so I didn’t have to think too long about it.

The next time I got AK, we were in the money and there was a raise and re-raise in front of me, so it was an easy shove. They both folded and I scooped a good sized pot.

Blinds went up again, though, and I was still too short to make much happen. Finally I reshoved about 13 BBs over a middle position 9.5 BB shove with ATo and lost to AQo. Unfortunate outcome but the right play I think.

Just a few hands later I put my last 4 BBs into the pot with KK and more than doubled through QQ. I thought getting up to 9 BBs would generate some fold equity for me, but when I open shoved A8o from the CO, the button reshoved A6s. The flop came off Q22 with a flush draw for him, then another 2 on the turn to all but lock up at least a chop for him. The river, however, completed his flush and brought my 2012 World Championship of Online Poker to an end.

Thanks for following along! I suppose the last somewhat interesting tidbit was my conversation with the US Customs agent before my return flight. My strategy for dealing with this sort of authority figure is generally to speak only when spoken to and to be extremely literal and limited in my responses. It tends to get on their nerves, but not in a way that they can do very much about. So here’s roughly how our conversation went:

First off, it was early in the morning and there was no one ahead of me in line or at the agent’s window, but I made a point of stopping behind the red line and waiting for her to summon me over, which she did with a subtle nod of her head. I noticed that her name was Canaba, which is funny since she worked in Canada, but I figured I wouldn’t be the first one to point that out so I didn’t mention it.

I greeted Canaba with a cheery, “Good morning!” and handed her my passport and customs declaration, on which I’d declared $3 worth of Canadian-purchased goods crossing the border with me.

She ignored my greeting with a scowl. “You bought $3 worth of something?”


“What did you buy?’

“Granola bars.” She snorted.

“What were you doing in Canada?”

“Playing poker.”

“How much cash do you have with you?”

“Not very much.”

“What does that mean? Not very much. How much?”

“Like $40.”

“So you didn’t win.”

“I was playing online.”

“What does that mean? Did you win or not?”

“Like, I was playing on the internet. Not at a casino. So I wasn’t playing with cash, and I don’t have cash with me.”

“Ok but did you win or lose?”

“I won.”

“How much did you win?”

“About $15,000.” I probably shouldn’t have answered this. I’m 99% sure I shouldn’t have to, but I guess I’m the sort of guy who’s willing to allow his liberties to be trampled in order to spare himself some discomfort and inconvenience.

“You can’t play online poker from the United States?”


“Correct you can?”

“No, you cannot play online in the United States.” It might have been more fun to give her an answer like “not on this particular site” or “not without a VPN”, but I decided against trying to confuse her further.

Nonetheless, she suddenly got very defensive. “OK, well I don’t know. I don’t know the rules of poker. Or any kind of gambling.”


With that she handed my papers back to me. I left her with a breezy, “Have a nice day!” but I didn’t expect an answer, and I didn’t get one.

3 thoughts on “WCOOP Main Event, Day 2

  1. My best Canada into US border crossing story was (I am Canadian)

    “How are you today?”
    “I am good.”
    “What’s your name?”
    “Have a nice day!”

    Second best story…
    Handed my out of date Canadian passport and no one noticed going through the borders both ways…Maybe I got a “Thanks giving day exception.”

    • My understanding when they’re questioning you is that they aren’t primarily interested in your answers to the stuff they ask but rather in the way that you answer, whether you seem uncomfortable, etc. When they’re busy I wouldn’t be surprised if they employed some combination of randomization and profiling to determine how thoroughly to question you. But you’re one of the first non-Americans I’ve spoken with who had anything positive to say about US border agents. I’ve heard multiple people say they avoid coming to the US in part because they find the border crossing so unpleasant.

  2. I have met a lot of US custom agents because of my different working permits in Canada and all the time it was really an unpleasant encounter.
    The first time I went there I had to go to the border by foot, because the guy driving me had forgot his passport, to get a paper from them for a Canadian permit.
    So imagine me crossing the borders by foot, out of the open and all my smiling abilities to their best.
    Arriving close to the gates, 5 bear-like men with all their gears come out of a corner and are walking towards me.
    They all start yelling at me and it’s totally unintelligible to me because my ability to hear and speak english is clearly not at its best but also because they all yell a different sentence at the same time. I’m fresh out of a french plane for God sake !
    We are still at like 12 feet of each other and that’s where I just try to say to them “wurking permite pleaze” with a horrible french accent actually waiting for my bladder to give up on all the years of containment training at School.
    They all let a loud “Wut?” get out of their moustached mouths.
    I try my best again “I nide some paperz fur a wurking permite pliz !”.
    They all look disappointed like a child who had a zoo afternoon crushed by a visit from grandma and her hairy kisses. They all but one walk back without a word. The younger stays, takes my paperz and passport and walks toward the building they all got vomited from.
    He opens the door and says to me in a perfect french “Go there and wait”. After that I met Agent Esteban with the most magnificently tidy and glossy moustache. He asked me twice what I was doing here while from the papers given to him he had no choice but to understand that I needed to get back to Canada as quick as possible to get a working permit from them. He was as friendly as a rusty door can be and let me go.
    It was really a sweet and sour experience.

    Out of the 6 times I went there only one was “fun” but really, it was like the whole border was happy. That time, the agent smiled at me, told me that he would not have eaten my friend if he had no passport (because the same guy forgot his passport twice), made a joke about the weather and I remembered saying to myself “So, there is a soul inside!”.

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