Guest post today from JamBasket, with illustrations by Julie
It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally time to head to Vegas for the WSOP Main Event! As you may recall, I won a seat into this event via a freeroll back in December. I’ve played a few tourneys since then, but really haven’t put in any serious effort towards improving at tournaments. I’ve played many tournaments in my life and have a solid enough understanding of basic theory that can hopefully guide me through this tourney.
The tourney begins on Monday, July 3rd, with four starting days, and you can choose any starting day you’d like. I’m planning on starting on Day 1C. Since I’ll be traveling on Sunday, this will give me enough time to get settled in, rested up, put some light study in, and perhaps even play a few short sessions to knock off the live poker rust.
High Roller Travelling Practices
I’m flying in style on this trip via Delta. The last few trips have been with Spirit Air, which even though I complain, I honestly can’t really tell much of a difference. Perhaps the only difference, and I don’t know why this is the case this trip, but I don’t have to pay for a checked bag. The flight is very smooth and I’m in Vegas in a flash.
I pick up the rental vehicle, a huge truck, which will turn out to be a mistake and head to my hotel. I want to see if I can score a refrigerator before heading to the grocery store. I plan on being here at least eleven nights, and I don’t want to mess up my diet on this trip. Since my last trip to Vegas, I’m down 25lbs, 15% body fat, and in the best shape of my life. I’m very close to having a 6 pack of abs, and can’t let this silly WSOP Main Event trip ruin my progress.
I head to the Diamond room to check-in and casually slip the front desk agent $100 in between my license and credit card. We both play it off cool as to not tip off the suckers in line behind me. She says “I see you’re here for eleven nights. Would you be interested in upgrading your room?” I reply “Sure, that would be great if you have something available.” She says “Yes, looks like we have a suite available for you.” I get my keys and I’m on my way. It’s a much bigger room than I need, but it has a fridge and a great view of the Bellagio fountains. A short while later, I get an email from my credit card statement saying that a large purchase was approved. Did this bitch actually charge me without realizing it? I’ll get to the bottom of this, but not right now. I need to go buy some food.
The Vegas streets are a disaster right now. Many of them are closed completely or have lane closures as they ready the streets for the upcoming Formula One race. I somehow managed to make my way over to GNC, Target, and Wholefoods. Target must really be having a shoplifting problem as most things are locked up. The food isn’t locked up, but nearly all of the personal hygiene stuff is. Luckily, the only hygiene item I need to purchase is mouthwash, and for some reason that is the only thing in the section that isn’t locked up. Already running hot!
Once I get the fridge stocked and my clothes hung up, it’s time to head over to the WSOP area. Afterall, this is my first time ever being to the WSOP despite having played poker for nearly 25 years. I’m staying at Planet Hollywood, so it’s just a short walk over to Paris. I must say, this is really cool to see. I didn’t realize just how big of a venue is required to facilitate this event. I know it’s a big deal, but I didn’t realize it was this big. Two huge ballrooms, packed with poker tables. Wandering around, spotting people I’ve really only seen on TV is pretty cool. There’s also a line that is probably no less than 45 miles long for players waiting to enter a tourney. This is something I couldn’t really wrap my head around. As far as I could tell, you could sign up for tourneys online. I never did get to the bottom of why all of these people are standing in line, but surely there’s a valid reason; at least you’d think.
Intense Tournament Preparation
As I’m walking around getting an idea of the general whereabouts of things, I cross paths with Jake Schindler. I consider choke slamming him right there in the Paris walkway, but decide that I shouldn’t do anything to jeopardize my Main Event status just yet. Although, he’s able to play, so what’s a “choke slam” anyway? Surely the Poker Community would rally behind me to ensure I still get a seat.
I head over to Garagiste to meet Persuadeo, SDJen, Kent and his wife, Joel, and the notorious Moldyfish for drinks. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but if you’re ever in Vegas, this is the best wine bar, and it’s off the strip. Be sure to check it out. We have a couple glasses of wine, some charcuterie, and shoot the shit for a few hours before it’s time to call it a day.
I wake up on Monday and head down to Café Hollywood, the Planet Hollywood diner. I typically get coffee here. The other option in the resort is Starbucks, but the line is always long, and I’m not a big fan of its coffee anyway. I head to the bar area to order my coffee, thinking I’m saving a server some effort, since if you order at the center to-go area, and request a little bit of ice in the coffee, they have to go to the bar area to get the ice. The bar area doesn’t have coffee, but not to worry: the waitress tells me that she’ll make the walk since I’m good looking. I immediately wonder if she moonlights as a prostitute, but then I realize that I’m in the best shape of my life, so maybe she’s not just being nice.
I head over to the WSOP Player Services area to claim my free seat. I didn’t realize this, but even though the tourney I won specifically said that I won a seat into the Main Event, I’ve actually won $10,030. So, I don’t even have to play in the event, and can just take the cash if I’d like. However, this is a bucket list item, plus I’ve sold and gifted 55% (I know, hilarious right!) of the action, so there’s no chance I’m not playing.
Now, if you recall, in order to qualify for the freeroll in which I won the seat, I had to satisfy two conditions: deposit $400 and correctly choose the winner of a heads-up match between Joe Cada and Vince Vaughn. As luck would have it, as I’m leaving the Players Service Area, I run into Joe Cada! I introduced myself and let him know who I was. He wished me luck and I was on my way. There’s no way I’m not winning this tourney.
I head over to Bellagio to sneak in a quick session to knock off the rust of playing live poker. The basics of handling chips, counting the pot, and just being at the table are something that take some getting used to for the online player. I get a seat at 5/10, and it doesn’t take long for me to flop a set and stack someone. I put in a pretty short session, less than two hours, before it’s time to head over to the WSOP venue.
Day 1A is starting today, and my friends Porter and SDJen are starting today. I head over to watch them and to see the official start of the Main Event. I think it was Jamie Gold who gave a little speech and the Shuffle Up and Deal announcement. This was pretty cool to be there for this. If you’re ever in town for the WSOP Main Event, even if you aren’t playing, be sure to get there on any of the starting days to be a part of this. I’m not one to get too excited for this type of thing, but even I must say this was pretty damn cool.
Did you know the area where the winner’s photos are taken is completely fake? The pile of cash is fake! I don’t know why, but I didn’t realize this. I hang around and spot some big stars before heading back to the hotel. I see Doug Polk, David Peters, Jeff Boski, Andrew Moreno, and even cross paths with Jake Schindler again. The fucking nerve of this guy.
I wake up on Tuesday, the Fourth of July, and head over to Paris. There are a lot of hookers out this morning, and they all want a piece of The Basket. I wonder if they would still be interested if they knew why I was walking over to Paris at 545am. The reason I’m heading over here is because I bought a coffee at this Le Pizza restaurant and they told me I get free refills. This is great news since a cup of coffee runs around $7, so I’m saving quite a few bucks with this deal. Unfortunately, this shop doesn’t open until 7am, and I can’t wait an hour for coffee, so I decide to stop by Starbucks inside Planet Hollywood instead.
I’m sitting inside Starbucks browsing the net when an old man approached me asking if I knew where Starbucks was. I’m taken off guard at this odd question given I’m literally sitting inside of Starbucks. I tell him I have some great news for him: “Yes, you’re at Starbucks right now!” He tells me that he’s looking for a different location, so I direct him towards the location downstairs near the check-in desk. He tells me not that one, but a different one yet. I’ve spent weeks inside of Planet Hollywood, and I’m pretty sure there are only two Starbucks in here, but he was determined to locate this third location. Given the speed in which he walked, he should find out that there isn’t a third location before the end of the year.
I head over to Bellagio and get a seat at 5/10. I’m seated at a great table with two players that would be considered unbelievably bad at a lower stakes game. I play one hand where I open KJss and see a AJ3ss flop 5 ways. The action checks to one of our resident dummies on the button who bets and I call. The turn is a J. I lead and the player instantly calls. The river brings a brick of some sort, and I bet $450. We still have about $2k behind to play for, but this player instantly calls and asks “Do you have aces?” This isn’t exactly what I want to hear, but I do have a very strong hand. I tell her that I don’t have aces and table my hand. She tables AJ. How good do I run? I play for a bit longer and book a modest win.
I decided to head back to the hotel and check out the happenings at the pool. I waited for a long time at the crosswalk from Bellagio to Planet Hollywood. I find this hard to believe, but it appears that unless you actually hit the crosswalk button, pedestrians will not get the clearance to cross. Why would this be the case? What exactly happens to the timings of the lights if this button isn’t pressed? If I find the time, I’m going to dig into this, because I don’t see the purpose of such a function.
I finally make my way across the street and head to the pool. If you didn’t know, the Planet Hollywood pool was closed for a few weeks since it failed some random inspection. Evidently the pool water wasn’t clean and the lifeguards weren’t following protocol. Does anyone know the whereabouts of the Pool Manager? I have a feeling they’re buried in the desert somewhere.
I take a seat at the bar and there are a few people in line. The two bartenders clear the line and there’s no question they see me sitting there, yet neither of them takes my order. I sit there for a bit, as they walk past me several times before I flag one of these dip shits down. I order a High Noon and he brings it to me. There’s nothing like a nice warm $15 High Noon by a Vegas pool in July. I call the bartender back and let him know this is warm and he says “Ah, you’re right.” Yes, how could you not notice this while carrying it over to me?
After a couple of drinks, I head back to the room to get some rest before heading over to Jen’s house for dinner and fireworks. Luckily for us, Joel is preparing dinner. This guy is an amazing cook and as I’ve mentioned before, I can’t do the dishes justice by trying to describe them. You’ll have to get your ass out to one of his popup events and try it out for yourself. We sit around and shoot the shit for a while before it’s time to head back to the hotel. Afterall, I need to rest up as I’m playing the Main Event tomorrow. I give Matt Vaughan a ride back to his hotel and drop my truck off at the Planet Hollywood valet. Remember this as it will become important later.
The Big Day Arrives
I woke up early as usual and started preparing for my day. I look over the structure of this tournament: what are the blinds, starting stacks, levels, break times, etc. I figure out where I’ll get dinner, how long it’ll take to get there, and what snacks I’ll eat during play. I hit the gym, get some breakfast, and before I know it, it’s time to walk over to Paris. I have a little more luck on my side when I get my table assignment: Table 511, Seat 7. In case you don’t know, I’ve won a ridiculous amount of money at roulette playing 5, 11, and 7. If you don’t know, just to give you a little taste, more than once I’ve hit 5 three times in a row with $100 bet on that number. I’m basically a lock to win the Main between running into Cada and getting this table assignment.
I arrive at my table, and without question I’m the only professional at my table. I have eight players that are making huge mistakes, and I’m hoping to make the best of this while it lasts. There was one player who I thought was a pro, given his shades, GG Poker patches, cool looking bag, and general presence at the table. However, this player would turn out to be the worst one here and somehow eliminated himself before the first break. Right behind me is Daniel Negreanu, and I overhear him telling the table that if someone jams preflop, he will absolutely fold KK and won’t even think about it.
I fold for a bit before picking up KK in the BB and cold 4b. The fake GG Poker pro calls from the SB and of course the flop comes K72r. I bet small and he calls. The turn is an 8, I bet small again and he calls. The river is an A, completing a backdoor flush and I make a bet that will put this opponent all in for about a pot sized bet… at least I thought. This shit head had his big chips mixed into the middle of his stack, so my bet is now about 2x pot. He tanks forever and folds QQ face up. Wow, what a big fold! I end Level 1 with about 67k, up slightly from the 60k starting stack.
Level 2 begins and honestly, I’m feeling a little tired and losing focus a bit. I take a short walk and grab another snack, and come back refreshed and ready to play again. Maintaining focus and energy is one of my only goals of this main event. I know it’ll be a long event if things go well, and being in control of these things may be the most important thing of all.
I flat TT on the BTN vs an MP open and see a flop of 883r three ways. The action checks to me and I make a small bet. The BB, who is extremely tight, calls as does MP. The turn brings a 9, and it checks to me. I decide to check given the tightness of the BB and the MP players likely know this too. The river brings a K, and MP bets something like 5% pot. I make the call and the BB folds. MP tables KJo. I’m not sure about their float on the flop, but whatever. The MP player would turn out to be fishier than I had originally thought.
A short while later, I open AT and see a flop of QJ7r vs the BB (MP in the previous hand). We both check and the turn brings a 3. The BB bets fairly small, and I call. The river brings a T and the BB bets fairly small again. I raise fairly large and get snap called by a set of 7’s. Level 2 ends and I have around 30k, which is still a pretty decent stack given the slow structure of this event.
Level 3 begins and I’m feeling great. My energy and focus are at 100% and even better, I’m chipping up slightly. I lose a little bit in a 3 bet pot with QQ, when my table nemesis makes another strange preflop call and flop float and rivers a K to beat my QQ. Not long after that the CO opens and an aggressive big stacked BTN 3 bets. I hold KK in the BB and 4 bet. The CO folds, and the action is back to the BTN, who asks how much I have left behind. I don’t have much as my 4b put in roughly a third of my stack. The player ultimately jams, and I’m reminded of what Daniel Negreanu said earlier. I think it over for a bit, essentially knowing that I’m not folding, but just trying to enjoy my final moments of the Main Event. I finally slide the chips in to make the call and see the bad news. The runout doesn’t even offer a sweat and that’s it: I’m out of the Main Event. I didn’t even make dinner break!
My Heart Will Go On
It was very disappointing to bust the Main Event. I didn’t think it would feel this bad, especially since I didn’t have to put up $10k to enter, and even profited around $5k by selling action. Partially because I’ve always heard it’s difficult to bust Day 1, coming to terms that I won’t be winning the $10m or so top prize, nor even making a run at all, and because I had such a great table. I take a walk around, hit the gym again, and grab some dinner before calling it a day.
I woke up the next day and head over to Bellagio to play a little more. I’m not exactly in the mood to play but know I can tough it out. I assume this is only the case because the WSOP is going on, but these 5/10 games are always really good. I play for about 5 hours and book another good win. I played a couple of pots where this local pro made some plays against me that would ultimately prove to be huge mistakes given that my range is more protected than perhaps he’s accustomed to. As an example, I open BTN and he calls the BB. The action checks to the river on AQ4XX and he bets the river for about 2x pot with Q9. I’m not exactly sure what’s he doing here, but surely this is far too thin and the sizing far too inefficient to be a profitable play vs most players. There were other examples of this player making this type of mistake, and the poker gods made it such that they were properly punished each time.
The Shocking Mistreatment of a VIP
It’s now Friday and I’m officially worn out from Vegas and ready to get the hell out of here. I considered changing my flight to tonight and ponder this for hours while I walked around the Main Event area. Persuadeo, Bizzy, Moldyfish, and SDJen are going to this ramen popup that they’ve been raving about for dinner and decide that I’ll just fly out on Saturday instead. I head down to the valet to get my truck, and if you recall I mentioned that remembering where I valeted would become important. I scan my ticket and the screen says “Ticket Not Found”. I go to the valet desk to see what’s going on. The attendant looks in their computer for a Black Ford Truck, but says that they don’t have such a vehicle here. They ask if I’m sure I parked the vehicle here and if I can recall retrieving it already. I let them know that I’m positive it’s parked here. The attendant says she’ll go look in the parking garage for it. She comes back 10-15 minutes later and lets me know that she was unable to locate a Honda Accord.
I find that hard to believe, but also, I’m driving a Black Ford Truck, so even if she had found a Honda Accord, this wouldn’t be of use to me. She then tells me that she’ll have to get the manager to help with this. The manager asks me for a plate number, which I happen to have since I took a picture of it a few days ago in order to pay for street parking at Garagiste. I give him the info and he’s off to locate it. He’s gone for a while, and then it hits me: when I dropped the truck off, I had waited a while for an attendant as the line of cars was long (cars they had already ticketed, just not moved) and I wasn’t sure if they could see me so I began walking to the valet desk and ended up being greeted by a man about half way. I gave this man my keys and began to wonder if this guy actually worked for the valet or if I had just given my keys to a thief. Time ticks by slowing as I wait for the manager to return and I’m becoming convinced that my truck has been stolen. Finally, I see my truck pulling into the valet lane! The manager wasn’t exactly sure what caused this problem, but I don’t really care.
Ramen and Goodbye
I get into my car and head to Boathouse Asian Eatery, located inside Palace Station Casino. This restaurant turns into a ramen popup on Friday and Saturday from 10pm to 2am. I order the vegetarian ramen, and it was well worth the drive! In case you don’t know this when you’re in Vegas, you definitely need to get your ass off the strip and check out the restaurants. There are lots of excellent options and much better pricing.
My flight is at 10pm on Saturday and I have to kill an entire day. I wander around the Main Event area, sit by the pool, go to the gym, grab some food, and still have many hours to kill. It’s amazing how slowly time ticks by when you’re bored. When it’s finally time to head to the airport, I’m excited to get out of here. I board the plane and get some bad news: We’re going to be delayed for two hours as we await a runway that can handle the weight of our plane.
You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.
Luckily, after only 15 minutes or so, they find a solution and rid the plane of some fuel to reduce the weight. Before long, we’re in the air, and I’m back home.
Until next time.