Monday, July 4, 2016

WSOP 2016 Part 1 (Getting there)

Getting there

My trip over to Vegas this year was considerably less eventful than some previous ones. I came via Manchester, and the main trend was that the hassle grew from airport to airport.


For once I arrived not having checked in in advance, as I wasn't sure if I could check my luggage through all the way to Vegas. Every time I go through Dublin airport (recently voted European Airport of the Year and it's easy to see why) I marvel at the efficiency and commitment of the staff there. Within 2 minutes of my arrival my luggage was on its way to Vegas and I was in possession of the two boarding passes I needed to get there. 5 minutes later I had walked to and cleared security, once again overawed by the employee efficiency which ensured queues were kept to a minimum.


Here it got a little more stressful, partially my own fault. For some reason the fine employees of Manchester airport decided that the boarding passes issued in Dublin could not be used here. A Virgin employee attempted to herd us as we got off the plane and gave us directions to the desk in another terminal that we had to go to to get new boarding passes. There we were issued with new ones that looked almost exactly like the old ones, and contained exactly the same information, down to seat numbers. Someone needs to explain that one to me.

Once I had cleared security, I wandered around a bit with the clarity of thought and purpose you'd expect from a man in his 50s who hadn't slept in over 24 hours. Somewhere on this meander I managed to lose my new boarding pass. Stranded between security and a boarding gate without a pass I'd need (or at least thought I would) to board I found a Virgin information phone, where a very helpful young man explained that I didn't actually need a boarding pass to board (they could do a new one at the gate). Relieved and with nothing better to do, I retraced my meandered steps and managed to find my boarding pass.

Las Vegas

For whatever reason (maybe our plane got there just after several others) the immigration queue was the longest I've ever seen. It took me almost two tilted hours to get to the top, but at least the immigration officer was on the ball. He took my passport, after which the conversation went:
"Happy birthday"
"Thank you"
"How long are you staying for?"
"12 days, then....."
"Enjoy your stay sir"

I was doubly thankful for a performance that made it look like he hoped one day to work at the European Airport of the Year when I got to baggage reclaim and found my bag was about to be hauled off to wherever unclaimed baggage goes. Bag reclaimed and a short cab drive later, I was at the Gold Coast where I was staying for the first 5 nights.

By now I was up past hour 40 for how long since I'd last slept, but it's mid afternoon so the last thing I wanted to do was crash, wake up around midnight, and have to play my first event (the seniors) the following day. So I pushed through the tiredness by going for my first run in Vegas, regging for the Seniors, eating, and doing a few other errands like opening a safe deposit box. Somewhere around 10 pm i conked out, and woke up 9 hours later fully refreshed, jet lag overcome, ready to get straight into the right mind frame to play.

First event (seniors)

Every time they increase the stack sizes at the WSOP, they remove some early levels, making for an even faster structure early on. There's nothing inherently wrong with that (I think too many small buyin events in Ireland and the UK have a structure that is too slow at the start and speeds up too much later on, meaning some virtually meaningless early levels so that you can find yourself playing for over a day only to find yourself bubbling, or playing a nine big blind average stack game later on when the big bucks are getting handed out). But it does mean you need to win your first few big pots, there's no real prospect of small balling your way to a stack early on, and you are going to bust within 3 or 4 hours quite a lot. Again, nothing inherently wrong with that: in common with most pros (but probably not recreational players which I guess is why structures are the other way round back home) I'd prefer to be forced to flip for my stack a few hours in than a day later, particularly if it means (as it does in the case of the WSOP) more play later on in the money.

The early bustout was my lot in this event (queens < ak), surviving barely into the fourth hour. The fact that I was actually the sixth bustout at the table reenforced just how fast these bad boys play early doors. The highlight of my brief involvement came after the second bustout when a familiar looking shape arrived to fill the vacated seat, and chirped "The Dokester". I hadn't seen my old mucker Mark Dalimore in at least three years, and it was great to see him in better fettle then I had in ages.

Second event

My second event the following day was almost an action replay. After a day off to play online on two of the American sites, I did at least start to build a stack in my third event, the Summer Solstice   The extended 90 minute levels undoubtedly helped, and I peeked at around 16k (from 7500) and made my first dinner break. Flopped top set versus a turned straight and an opponent playing so randomly as to be virtually unreadable did some damage, as did flopped top set versus turned topper set. So far the turn has not been my friend this trip: if every turn was a blank I'd be a lot better off. Another recent trend that continued was my first shove found me at the bottom of my range against a caller near the top of his, and that ended my involvement.

When you're busting one or more (counting smaller buyin events like Daily Deepstack and single table satellites) in Vegas, it's very easy to get punch drunk and jaded, something I learned the hard way in previous years. So I took a full day off away from the felt to settle in to my new digs, a very nice condo across the road from the Rio, replacing a homeward bound Fergal Nealon as roommate to Smidge and Dan Wilson. Not a total day off, but an easy one running some simulations and doing other off table work on my game.

After remarking to Smidge that I was feeling unusually lethargic, he commented that he often felt the same in Vegas when it was going losing day after losing day. As professional and focused as we like to think ourselves, we are still animals by nature, and when a dog gets used to being beaten every day he starts waking up sad. So I devoted a day to low variance single table satellites that offered the best chance of a physiologically boosting winning day. Mission accomplished, I felt re-energised going into the next day's 3k shootout, my biggest buyin event to date. It being a shootout, I also felt it made additional sense to sharpen my single table game by running simulations on likely spots all week and getting in actual playing time in them the previous day.



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