Wednesday, October 26, 2005

2005 WSOP Main Even Trip Report: Day 3, Part 2

When the Farha table was broken, it was still during (or right around the end of) the first level of day 3. They had added almost an hour onto that level because of the hand-for-hand action.

My new table was destined to be fierce. I drew seat 3 which gave me a good view of all the action. Olga Varkonyi was in seat 1, sitting on around 300k in chips. In Seat 2 was Sarah Bilney, a delightful Brit who was already garnering attention from the ESPN camerass for being (along with Olga) among the few remaining women. In seat four was a guy by the name of Alan Colon. He finished 8th in the 2004 US Poker championship at the Taj. He was an older, nice fellow, but somewhat talky. In seat 5 was an internet qualifier in his 50s. He was not a strong player. In seat 6 was an unlucky person. Aaron Kantor was in seat 7 with about 400k in chips. Seat 8 was about to be Kantor’s best friend. Seat 9 was an older pro named Robert something. He looked familiar and appeared to be very tired.

The new table was right on the rail, and the spectators were, literally, right behind me and Bilney. It was extremely unnerving, loud and awesome, all at the same time. Standing front and center were Robert Varkonyi and his Coach (from Day 2), sweating Olga’s action. (note: after seeing ESPN’s coverage of Olga on Day 1, I suspected I might be visible when they show Robert sweating her on Day 3. I assumed that the timid-looking, short-stacked player with the blue hat on backwards is me. What I did not assume is that this player would also appear to be severely in need of sunlighe any 78 pounds overweight. Also, the only time you see my stack, it actually looks pretty good! T.V. is so fake.)

When I sat down, I think we were at the $18k and change payout level, moving up to $21k in the next few bust-outs. Believe me, with around 45k in chips and blinds at 1200-2400 with a 400 ante, I was ACUTELY aware of the pay-out structure. With 6000k in dead money out there to start each hand, I had to move and move fast.

Almost immediately, the player in seat 8 re-raised Kantor all in for his last 80k or so. Kantor called instantly and tabled aces. Seat 8 sheepishly showed JTo which didn’t improve, and the rich got richer. “Wow,” I thought, “Can’t love to get your money in that way. I certainly don’t want to do something THAT stupid.” (read: foreshadowing).

Within the next orbit, I got involved in my first hand. Colon, sitting UTG, made it 8,000 to go. It was called by Olga in the cutoff and Bilney in Seat 2. I was down to around 42K after posting the BB, and 5,600 represented a significant chunk of my stack. But getting nearly 5-1 on my money, any two would have to do, and I reluctantly made the call with 3-5 of diamonds. The flop came down King high with two diamonds, and I knew my time had come. Bilney and I checked, Colon led out for 10,000, Olga called, Bilney folded and I moved in for around 28k more figuring I wasn’t going to find a much better spot.

Colon reluctantly folded what he said was KJ and Olga called immediately with KQo declaring that I was on a flush draw. The 4 of diamonds rolled off on turn, and suddenly I had 115,000 in chips. At least 20 people groaned behind me, and I apologized to Olga. “I can afford it,” she said with a smile. She is an extremely aggressive player, perhaps to a fault, but she is definitely someone to be feared with a big stack. I will not be surprised to see her deep in another big tournament.

A few hands later, the blinds moved to 1500-3000 with a $500 ante, and feeling frisky, I open-raised to $10,000 from under the gun with JTs. Kantor made it 40,000 to go, and I had to fold. Back to meek, passive play.

About this time, Colon lost a huge pot to the internet qualifier in seat 5 holding KT to his AT on a flop of T-T-x. That gave seat 5 around 250,000 in chips which he proceeded to hemmorage almost immediately. This perturbed Colon who made more than one reference aloud to the distribution of “his chips” amongst the rest of us.

Olga busted seat 6 (Mr. Unlucky) on the first of three brutal suckouts involving her. He had AQ and raised pre-flop. She called. Flop came A-J-x. He checked, she bet, he raised and she went into the tank. When she came out she moved him in for his last 90k or so. He reluctantly called, and she showed pocket tens! Wow! Blank on the turn, but here came the ten on the river. Olga was now amongst the chip leaders with over 500k in chips. Robert Varkonyi, celebrating wildly at this 200,000 chip suckout actually proclaimed aloud that she “deserved it” while the poor slob in seat 6 was still trying to gather his things. Colon almost went over the rail after him, just on principle.

Shortly thereafter Colon busted, and Burt Rice came to seat 4 with around 400,000 in chips. Olga raised him out pre-flop a couple of times, once moving him all in and showing AKo as he folded. He clearly appeared agitated. Then the second river suckout occurred. Olga made a big call of the new seat 6’s all-in bet with AQ against his A-10. A ten spiked on the river to take a chunk of her stack, dropping her just below 350,000.

On the very next hand, she made it $20,000 to go. (blinds were now at 2k-4k with a $500 ante.) Rice made it 60,000, and Olga IMMEDIATELY moved in. Rice thought about it for about 4 seconds and called with A8 suited!!! Was I seeing that right??!!? Are you kidding me!!!?? Olga had AK, again, but the turn was an 8, and no king came to save her. Just like that, in TWO consecutive hands, Olga went from being among the chip leaders to out. And Burt Rice suddenly had about 7000,000 in chips. And he never even blinked. Go Poker!

Bilney kept accumulating chips getting it all in with KK vs QQ, AA v. KK, etc. left and right. She also got involved in a big pot with Kantor where she got him to fold to an all-in bet on the turn. She was friendly, and we chatted a bit between hands. By this point, she had begun doing interviews for ESPN and was excited by the prospect of being the highest woman finisher. I told her she shouldn’t worry about that and try to win the whole damn thing. This may or may not have been filmed. If they show it, I’m sure I’ll look like an idiot.

Olga’s seat was taken by the Celesty Can Kim Hua and his 400,000 in chips or so. Then Andrew Black came and took seat 8 to Kantor’s left. His unique high-stacking style made me fear him.

After a prolonged drought, I was still hovering around 100K. I had noticed that Robert (in seat 9) had varied his raises and usually bet 4x the BB when he had a real hand, and only 3x the BB when he didn’t. (He was showing every hand that he won without a showdown.) Then from the cutoff, he raised four times the BB, and I really felt like he was strong. It folded to me in the big blind and I found AKo. I was convinced he had aces, kings or queens, and for some reason kings really stood out. After a pretty short think, I folded. He showed me queens as he raked the pot.

In hindsight, this is certainly one of the hands that really haunts me. Yes, I was behind and favored to go broke, and yes I survived to make more than $10,000 more in real money. But as a short stack, I’ve got to be willing to play AK all-in pre-flop there, particularly if I’m facing a cutoff raise to my short-stacked big blind. He could easily be picking on me there. I think I was right on my instincts, and I’m happy about that, but I often wonder what would have happened if I was able to double through there. Even though there were big stacks at my table (and good players), I really felt like I could play with them if I had a few more chips.

A couple of hands later, I found queens. “Booyeah!” I thought, “you’re ‘big laydown’/wimpout is going to be rewarded. You were supposed to go broke there, but now you are going to double through.” Robert open-raised for 3X the BB and I moved in. The internet qualifier in seat 5, who had given away all but $50,000 in chips shrugged, frowned and called with pocket tens. Awesome! I’m going to be sitting on around $170,000 in chips! Here we go! Finally!

Ten on the river, and I’m on life support with exactly $50,000 in chips.

Amazingly, I was able to win the blinds uncontested on the next hand. I don’t even remember what I had, but remember thinking it was absurd that a player with 50,000 in chips could “steal” the 12,500 in dead money. A few hand later Hua, who played very few hands, open-raised on my big blind, and I moved in with 99. After a long think he folded. That was a good feeling.

On the next hand, Robert open-raised 3x the BB and I called with AK suited in clubs. I flopped the nut flush and got him to bet at it on the flop and river, but he failed to bite at my all-in raise on the river. Oh well, that got me back close to 100,000.

At night's end, we were down to 185 players, and I had $88,500 in chips to start day 4.


patrick said...

Nice play-by-play. I think ESPN needs to add you as a rail-side analyst.

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Gentle Shane said...


"Booyeah"? Really.