Tuesday, July 25, 2017

WSOP main event, day 2

My day 2 table could have been a lot better, but also a lot worse. I did have to contend with one of the best players in the world, Adrian Mateos, and two other decent regs, one of whom (Jamie Risen) I knew was staked at one time by Chris Moorman. This was confirmed when I tweeted for information on my opponents, and got this typically restrained Firaldo response.

My day got off to a shaky start when Jamie defended his big blind against my button raise, called a turn bet with a bare gutshot, and got there on the river. It could have been worse though as he elected to check the nuts to me on the river, and smelling a rat I checked back two pair.


A few hands later I found myself allin for the first time, anxiously waiting to see if I was drawing dead. The hand started with the third reg on the table opening hijack. I elected to call on the button with KQcc, and Jamie defended his big blind. I was pretty happy to see an all club J84 flop. When the opener cbet, I flatted, and Jamie check raised big. The opener quickly folded and I again called, hoping to keep his bluffs in, and hoping not to see another club on the turn (since a lot of his bluffs would contain the ace of clubs). The turn was an offsuit king which was as good as I could hope for (I was also hoping the board wouldn't pair obviously), Jamie shoved all in, and I quickly called. While it's possible I'm drawing dead against the nut flush, he has too many other hands that could play this way (sets, ace high flush draws, lower flushes) for me to seriously consider folding, so I called, tabled my hand, and hoped not to see the Ace high flush. As it was he had a hand that had outs, or rather one out against me, 56cc, but I managed to dodge the one outer to get the full double back up to almost 100k.

Unfortunately that was as good as it got. The rest of my day 2 was remarkably reminiscent of my day one, with long periods of card death punctuated by losing a pot with the second best hand. Late in the day I found myself down to 12 big blinds. I doubled (kings versus queens) but another lost race saw me short again and I got my last twelve bigs in with jacks against ATs. A ten on the flop and another on the turn brought down the curtain on my main event for another year.

That busting feeling

In other years, busting the main has hurt so much that I've stumbled out of the Rio back to wherever I'm staying in a mental daze. Maybe it gets easier with time, or maybe it was easier this year because I ran so bad for so long that I had more time to come to terms with the fact it wasn't destined to be my year, but for whatever reason I was able to pick myself up to hang around to offer moral support to my friends who were still in. Daiva was clinging gamely to her tournament life, as was Elena. Daiva managed to scrape through with not much more than half of starting stack, but Elena lost her battle in a flurry of lost flips.

As I reflected on my main event, while utterly disappointed at the outcome I took some heart from the fact that I had played my best. I remember Alex Fitzgerald saying after he bust day one last year that he felt anyone in that seat would also have bust, and I had a similar feeling.

Bubbling the rungood ticket

The day before day 1, I'd queued with Daiva to register. She started behind me in the queue, but by the time we got to the head of the queue was ahead of me, so I let her on ahead. Afterwards I wondered which of us got the seat that would run the better. As it was Daiva pulled out an amazing performance to squeak into the money. There's no guarantee I could have done the same in her seat as it really was a top notch gritty performance, but I do feel there is nobody in the world who could have cashed from the seat I ended up in.

I was delighted and proud for Daiva on her tremendous performance and result. She's one of the loveliest people I've ever met, and one of the most naturally talented poker players I know. She never panics or gets flustered so even when she had barely half a starting stack at the start of day 3 I'd have backed her to cash. On the bubble I tweeted she was the least likely person In the whole room to do something stupid.

At the end of my Vegas one of the few consolations I could find was that despite running as bad as it gets I kept plugging away and didn't let it affect my play. I patted myself on the back for that, but looking back much of the credit really belongs to my friends for their support and help keeping my spirits up, and none more so than Daiva. You'll never be stuck for people to come to your celebration dinners, but your real friends are the ones willing to provide company and emotional support and hugs when you are at your grumpiest and most down in the dumps. Having friends to support you in these times and be willing to put up with your moaning about variance and general frustration is vital.

Getting by with a little help...

The nature of tournament poker is that if two people are friends, then a lot of the time both of them will be running bad. It's vital to be able to keep each other's spirits and standards up when this is what's happening rather than getting sucked into a downward spiral of negative feedback and self defeating habits and attitudes. And as vital as that is, it's even more vital when one of you is running well and the other not so much that the person running well doesn't rub salt into the wounds or trivialise how bad it feels to be on the flip side of variance. The third possibility, that you both run well at the same time, is a rare thing indeed, so almost all of the time at least one of you is running bad and needs a sympathetic ear from someone willing to accept moaning, whining and the expression of negative emotions. I'm a grin and bear it put on a brave face type at the best of times, and try not to drag my friends down, but it is always good to have someone like Daiva around who can not only see through the brave face as quickly as she can sniff out a bluff at the table, but is willing to indulge me at my most pathetic.

Daiva came into Vegas on a very bad run herself not having cashed live this year, but kept working and smiling and showed great determination and grit to grind out a really good Vegas. Besides cashing the main, she cashed her first three events in the Wynn.

Also massive congrats to World of Warcraft legend Alan Widmann who hasn't been playing poker for very long but is showing early signs of beastliness. He played two events in his first WSOP, and put on a tremendous amount of work and preparation in the run up. He was rewarded with a cash in his very first event, and he was unlucky to bust about 100 from the money in the main having built a stack several times. Alan is as lovely as guy as I have ever met, and is someone with tremendous talent when it comes to games. Alan has reached the top 1% of every game he's ever taken seriously. I expect poker to become just the latest example of that, if he wants it.

For once I swapped and bought well in the main event this year. Apart from Daiva and Alan, I also had pieces of Smidge, Andy Hills and Kevin Williams, all of whom cashed and did their best to get me out for the summer.



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