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WSOP 2007 Main Event: Day 2A, Part 1
I ended my Day 1 report by bemoaning my measly 30,000 chips but predicting that, ԁ lot will depend on how things go in the first few hours. If I can get off to a good start, I could easily double or triple up and be right back in contention.ԠLetӳ just say I got off to a good start. I was in the 1 seat, to the immediate left of the dealer, at my starting table. In the 2 seat was a young, pretty woman of Indian descent named Jigna. She was a little too loose, especially from out of position, but she was also tricky and kind of aggressive, which actually made her kind of tough to have on my left. She was generally very friendly and made the table fun.
To her left was Barry Greenstein. Many of you will recognize the name, but in case you donӴ, Barry is one of the best and best known poker players in the world. Heӳ a regular in the largest cash games played anywhere in the world (I overheard him telling a guy heӤ played with the night before that losing ԴwentyԠwasnӴ even worth mentioning), which is where he makes a very nice living. When he plays tournaments, he usually donates anything he wins to charity, which has earned him the nickname, Ԕhe Robin Hood of PokerԮ
In the last year, IӶe developed a healthy disrespect for anyone whom ESPN tries to convince me is a good poker player. Iӭ not going to name names, but a lot of the people you see on TV are actually rather bad at poker, or at least far from world class. That is definitely not the case with Barry, though. Iӭ not thrilled to have him on my left, but it is an honor to play with him, and heӳ a very friendly, humble, classy guy, which is much more than can be said about a lot of TV pros. The only other person of note is a young guy who turns out to be internet player ҧoleafsgoehҮ WeӶe played together online a few times, and he recognized me as soon as I told him my screen name. Also a very nice guy.
The first big pot I played, a kind of doofy looking guy opens for 3000 from middle position, and I reraise to 10,000 from the SB with Ace-King. He calls quickly, which worries me a little, but then I get a great A83 flop. The problem is that there arenӴ a lot of hands that call my reraise and continue to give me action on this flop. He had previously folded an Ace face-up to a raise on an Ace high flop, so I didnӴ think heӤ pay off with a lot of worse hands here. If I bet now, I think heӬl correctly fold a lot of the time. I decided to check after a long pause, hoping to make him think I have a big pair like QQ or KK and am afraid of the Ace. He bets 15,000, which I call after a minuteӳ thought. The turn is a 6, and we both check. I checked again on a T river, figuring he was more likely to bluff than to call with a worse hand. He bet 15,000 again, I called, and he showed me A5. Oh wow. Calling my reraise with A5 is beyond awful. This guy is going to be good to have at the table.
Winning that pot put me back above average and gave me enough chips that I could start playing aggressively again. The next orbit, I raised to 3000 with AT in early position, and Greenstein called. Ooooh, my first pot with Robin Hood. Nothing fancy, he folded to a bet on a Q76 flop. A little while later, the doofy guy raised to 3000 and got called by three players. Seems I wasnӴ the only one to notice how bad he was. It was pretty clear those two didnӴ have big hands, or they would have reraised him. Why not, if he will call with A5? And if heӬl open with A5, he clearly doesnӴ need a big hand here either, which means this is a good spot for a squeeze play. I reraised to 16,000 with A4o on my big blind, and everyone folded. Barry must have been quite card dead, because he was playing very tight, which is not usually his style. Then again, every time he did get enter a pot, everyone got involved, so I guess there wasnӴ much else he could do. In the best example of this, he raised to 3000 first to act, and got called by no fewer than five different people. Having already made one squeeze play, I wasnӴ going to attempt another in such an obvious spot, but then I found a pair of Jacks in the small blind. I re-raised to 20,000, prepared to call an all-in (unhappily) from anyone because I knew it would look like I was just making a play at the pot. About ten minutes before the break, goleafsgoeh lost well over half his stack to a guy who made an unlikely three of a kind on the river. I felt kind of bad for him, but thatӳ poker. ԉ need the break, but I kind of wish it werenӴ coming so soon,ԠJigna whispered to me. I stared back at her, puzzled, and she nodded in GLGEӳ direction. I looked over, and his face was bright red. He was actually on the verge of tears, but it kind of looked like he was, and he was clearly very upset. Ԉeӳ ready to tilt away the rest of his money now, but heӬl calm down during break,Ԡshe explained.
IӶe heard a lot of speculation about why there are so few female poker players. In my opinion, the rampant sexism in the poker community is a big part of it, but one common explanation is that many women lack the aggressive drive thatӳ so important to playing good poker. Clearly not Jignaӳ problem, huh? Talk about a shark sniffing blood in the water. Conversely, some women have told me that they feel they have an advantage because they are more adept at reading and interpreting peopleӳ emotional state than men are. It wasnӴ hard to tell GLGE was upset, but Jigna certainly noticed it before I did. After the first break, blinds were up to 600/1200/200. A guy in early position called the blind, I called with Qs Js, and then Jigna raised to 6000 in position. The first guy called, so I did too. The flop was all low cards, something like 853 with only one spade. We both checked to Jigna, who checked as well. Should have taken it when you had the chance, J. The turn was the As, giving me a flush draw and a good scare card to represent. The first guy checked, I bet 10,000, and they both folded.
By now I was up around 100,000 and feeling great. I opened to 3500 with a pair of 5's in early position and got called by both the A5 guy and the big blind. I fired 7500 at a Q73 flop and only the first guy called. The turn was another 7, and remembering the top pair IӤ seen him fold, I thought maybe I could knock him off of pairs better than mine but lower than queens or even off of a pair of queens with a weak kicker by betting 21,000. Well, he either hit the 7 or didnӴ believe me, because he shoved his last 60,000 into the pot, and I had to fold. On the one hand, it certainly sucks to bluff off 30% of your chips. But plays like these have hidden payoffs down the line, especially at a tournament like the WSOP where you play with the same people for hours on end and most everyone is paying careful attention. A little while later, a pretty active player came in for a call of 1200, and a few others called as well. I had a pair of Queens in the small blind and raised 7000 more. Jigna folded her big blind, but the first caller quickly announced, ԁll in.ԍ
Everyone else got out of the way, and I had a decision to make. Queens are a very strong hand, but some players do like to get trappy by just calling the blinds when they have Kings or Aces. This was a really big bet, something like 60,000 chips. If he wanted to be trappy, wouldnӴ he have made a smaller raise to 20,000 or so? Ugh, but if Iӭ wrong, IӬl be crippled. Losing this pot would leave me only about 10,000 chips. Visions of the 2006 main event, where I ran Queens into Aces pre-flop early on day 4, danced through my head. ԃall.ԍ ԉf you can call, you can win,Ԡthe guy told me with a frown, turning over a pair of 4's. So far so good. Iӭ an 80% favorite to win the pot, but still I hold my breath as the dealer turns over the flop. KT8, still ahead. No 4, no 4, no 4... my heart freezes in my chest as I see a small card come off the deck... thank God, just a 3. One more now, fade the 4... uh oh, another little one... but itӳ another 3. My hand is good, and I take down my largest pot of the tournament so far. A little while later, a kind of weak player called 1200. I raised to 6000 with a pair of Aces. To my delight, Jigna called on the button, and then Barry in the small blind started counting out chips. He reraised to 33,000. And I am holding the best possible hand. Pinch me, I must be dreaming.
I asked how much he had left. He moved his hands so I could see, but I really needed an exact count to figure out how to play my hand, so I asked him to count it. He seemed annoyed by that but kind of half complied. He had about 50,000 behind. I felt like at this point I was going to get all his money whether I called or re-raised pre-flop, so my thoughts turned to Jigna. Iӭ representing a ton of strength whether I call or raise, and sheӳ probably going to fold almost anything no matter what I do. But I had to at least give her a chance to make a mistake. After much thought, I just called the raise. Jigna folded instantly. The flop was JT7, not exactly what I wanted to see. If Barry had Jacks or Tens, heӳ now a huge favorite. And my call of his reraise is so suspicious that he might be able to get away from Queens or Kings despite the size of the pot, since he can no longer count on being ahead of Jacks or Tens himself. Ugh, why didnӴ I just reraise him pre-flop and get all the money in then? I got greedy. ԁll in,Ԡhe announced. ԃall!ԠI blurted out. The die was cast. ԙou make a set?ԍ I shook my head and flipped over my Aces. He turned up Queens. Wowowowowow, there were nearly 200,000 chips in this pot, and I was an 88% favorite to win. Things got a little hairy when an 8 fell on the turn, as now a 9 or a Q on the river would give him a win, but it came a 7 and I eliminated Barry Greenstein from the tournament. He took it very well, shook my hand, and gave me an autographed copy of his book with his bustout hand illustrated inside the front cover. Itӳ a very nice troph... er, memento. I put up pictures at http://www.thinkingpoker.net/Bookpics.html if you want to see for yourself. I want to emphasize here that I in no way outplayed Barry. In fact, I may have misplayed the hand and almost given him a chance to escape. This was just an unlucky spot for him, what poker players call a cold deck. If I had had Queens and he Aces, the hand would have gone down the same way, and I would have been the one to lose a monster pot. It was pure luck of the draw that I got dealt the best preflop hand when he was dealt the third best. Hereӳ what Barry had to say about the hand on his blog: Ԕhe very next round someone limped and the player in the cutoff raised. The button called. This time in the small blind I had Q Q. It was $6,000 to me and I had to decide to play them fast or slow. I decided he had been raising enough and had a good stack. He had been a decent player, and usually showed good hands. So I decided to play it fast. With three people in there I didn't want to call and see and ace or king come off. I raised big and he just called, which made me think he was trapping with aces. I was hoping he had A K. I just decided if an ace or king didn't come I would have to go for it. It was a bad flop - J 10 7. Now if he had jacks he also beat me. I kind of got myself stuck in the pot. I moved in my last $60,000. He did have aces. AND that was it.ԍ He says I was ԡ decent playerԬ so thatӳ kind of cool. But he also confirms my fear that on certain flops, he actually would have gotten away from his Queens. Thereӳ no way he folds them pre-flop, so I think I really screwed up by trying to sucker Jigna in. And in fact, Iӭ lucky that I failed to rope her in, because she told me she folded 99, which would have made a straight. Barry and GLGE were the two players who most concerned me at the table, and with one gone and one crippled, I was ready for total table domination.