No sooner had the tournament director announced shuffle up and deal

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Except that we didnӴ get to play even a single hand after the second break. No sooner had the tournament director announced Գhuffle up and dealԠthan a guy known as the Grim Reaper, because he walks around breaking tables, deposited an armful of plastic chip racks in the center of our table and started passing out new seat assignments. I will say, though, that it was a pretty cool feeling carrying four full racks of chips across the convention center floor and feeling the envious eyes of every player in the room burning into my back.

There was no one I recognized at the new table and several weak looking players to my left, so I decided to carry on with my plans for domination. Blinds were now 800/1600/200, and a guy who seemed pretty aggressive moved all in for 24,000. Not on my table! I called with a pair of Tens. He turned over a pair of Jacks. Whoops. A flop of J55 left me dead to running quads, which I did not catch.

But no worries. A few hands later, I raised to 4500 with AA. The big blind raised to 12,000, leaving about 25,000 behind. Hoping to look like a bully, I grabbed a stack of orange chips and shoved it into the pot. He shrugged and called with KK. My hand held up, and I took down another good-sized pot and eliminated my third player of the tournament.

Next orbit, a hotshot looking British player raised to 5000 first to act. He had a stack of about 75,000, and I decided not to reraise him with my pair of Jacks because if he moved all in, I would feel like throwing up. We went heads up to a 5s 5h 4s flop. He bet 10,000, and I grabbed the trusty stack of orange chips (there were twenty of them in the stack, so this single pillar of my mountain of chips was worth 100,000) and moved it into the pot. He thought for a long time before folding. I may have lost some value here with the big raise, but there were a lot of turn cards I did not want to see (ie I did not have the Js), and I wanted the whole table to get the message: if you play a pot with me, you may well be playing for all of your chips. I got to talking with another Poker Stars qualified at the table who turned out to be internet player Teacuppoker. His real name was Casey, so thatӳ what IӬl call him. Then a clean cut middle aged guy got seated to Caseyӳ left. The man glanced at my Poker Stars hat and asked me what my screen name was. I told him and asked him his. He pursed his lips. ԙeah, I donӴ so much give that out.ԠWhat the [censored]? Thatӳ fine if you donӴ want to out yourself, but donӴ ask for my screenname and then refuse to give me yours. ԓo youӲe one of those guys?ԠCasey asked him, seemingly bothered by the same discourtesy I was. ԗell thereӳ only a small pool of people who play 200/400, and game selection is a big part of my game.Ԡ200/400?!?! This guy is big time. ԁm I at least allowed to know your real first name?ԍ

ԁdam. Adam Richardson.ԠThat made him Admo from the 2+2 internet poker forum. I still didnӴ know what name he played under online, but this was enough info for me that I didnӴ feel slighted any more.

We talked a bit about the highest stakes poker games online, and I asked him if he ever played Brian Townsend, the high stakes player who showed up at my first table on Friday. He shuddered and laughed. ԉ quit Brian almost a year ago. You can ask my wife, I have a recurring nightmare where thereӳ a glitch in the software so that I can see his cards, and I still lose!ԠGood Lord, I am glad I got off that kidӳ table. I never played a big pot with Admo, but he did get me into some trouble. He opened for 4500, I reraised to 15,000 with AK in the small blind, and then the old man in the big blind, I think he was Greek, started counting his chips. He looked annoyed, and, and this was important, I donӴ think he knew I was looking at him. I was in the 9 seat and he the 1 seat, so the dealer was between us. If he knew I was looking and looked annoyed, there would be a chance that he was acting with a monster holding like KK or AA. If he is genuinely annoyed, heӳ more likely to have a slightly less strong hand like JJ, QQ, or AK. ԁll in,Ԡhe finally said. Now Admo thought for a minute or two before folding. That still wasnӴ enough time for me to make up my mind. There was now about 40,000 in the pot, and it was going to cost me 75,000 more to call. Although IӤ have an above average stack if I called and lost, this was still the single biggest decision IӤ had to make so far in the tournament. My gut was telling me to call, but in general you donӴ make money by calling big bets from unknown old men with Ace-King. I closed my eyes and recounted the pot. I took a deep breath. I opened my eyes and looked at the old man. He was staring straight back at me over his bulbous nose. It was an aggressive stare, another sign of weakness. When people want a call, they will try to look non-threatening or nervous. This time he definitely knew I was watching him, and now he was trying to look strong. I sighed and stood up. ԃall.ԍ Ԍetӳ see ҥm,Ԡthe dealer said. I turned over my Ace-King. The guy kept his cards face down. This is an annoying thing about live poker, no one ever wants to show his hand and at showdown there is always this big production over who is going to show first. Just turn your [censored] hand over. ԓir?Ԡshe prompted him.

He grunted something. ԗhat was that?ԍ ԋeep them low,Ԡhe said in a heavy accent, and flipped TT. I breathed a sigh of relief. I had made the right call. Against a pair of Tӳ, my AK has 43% equity. I needed 39.5% to make the call correct. Flop Q85. Turn 5. River 7. TT is good. The Greek beamed and shook my hand. Ԏice hand,ԠI told him, nodding sagely and returning the hand shake. I sat back down, remarkably unflustered. So this is what it feels like to flip a coin for $100,000. And lose. A few minutes later, I went over to talk to my girlfriend, who was standing in the spectator area about fifty feet away. ԉ just lost a monstrous flip.ԍ She gave me a sympathetic frown. ԉ saw you stand up, so I knew it was something big, but I couldnӴ tell if you won or lost. The guy sat back down, so I didnӴ think you eliminated him, but you were smiling.Ԡ I took that as a big compliment. One of the toughest things about being a serious poker player is learning to deal with bad results. The goal is always to focus on making the right decisions, because in the long run, the money follows the odds and the best players win. In the short run, things can and do go wrong all the time. I can control my decisions, but I canӴ control the cards, so there is no sense in getting upset over them. If I can accept a bad outcome in a gigantic pot at the World Series of Poker so well that my girlfriend of six years cannot tell from my body language whether I won or lost, then I am in the right mind set. Hopefully, the table got another lesson: Iӭ willing to make a big call if you play back at me. Soon thereafter, I opened Qd Td against a weak playerӳ big blind, and he called. The flop came 8h 6h 3d, and he bet into me for 7500. When someone bets into me on a board like this, itӳ often because heӳ unsure of his hand and wants to take the pot down before you put in any more money and get more committed to your hand. Hell, IӶe two over cards, a backdoor flush draw, and a read. I call.

The turn was the Ad, a scare card for my opponent and a flush draw for me. He checked and folded to a bet of 15,000. Despite losing the huge pot, I went into break with 280,000 chips. Iӭ 90% sure I would have been chip leader for the entire tournament if an Ace or King had fallen. After break, a French player named Paolo was seated at our table. Blinds were now 1000/2000 with a 300 ante, meaning that there were 5700 chips in the pot before cards were dealt. I was really looking forward to stealing from the tight players on my left, and was already envisioning all those chips getting pushed my way when I heard a little French voice on my right say, Ԓaise.ԍ Whaaaaaaaaaat?!?!? Those are supposed to be my blinds to steal. We canӴ have this. Paolo had put 7000 chips in the pot. I pretended to look at my cards and then announced, Ԓe-raiseԬ shoving 21,000 chips into the pot. Someone needed a lesson in etiquette. The action folded back to Paolo, who quickly said, ԁll in.ԠDamn it. I looked at my cards, praying to see Aces. Instead, I tossed a Nine and a Seven into the muck. Paolo must have had a monster hand, to risk all chips like that against an unknown player with so little thought. My next aggressive re-raise was against Casey, who raised to 5500 when I was small blind and the Greek was big. I made it 16,500 with King-Queen, and he folded. Dominance at the table finally (and expensively) established, I started stealing like mad and meeting very little resistance. Only Casey showed a willingness to play back at me, and he had really bad timing such that I usually had hands when we tangled. Somehow, I finished the level with barely more than the 280K I had when it started.

After break, blinds were 1200/2400/300. My plan was to tighten up for the last level of the day and take advantage of my aggressive image to get paid off on any big hands now that the antes were smaller relative to the blinds. Unfortunately, my plans were once again spoiled by an untimely table break. On the plus side, this meant I got to run over a new table that didnӴ know how aggressive I was. Once again, I was already envisioning the pot getting shipped my way when some annoying guy on my right beat me to the punch, raising to 7200. Annoyed, I made it 21,000 with 54 off-suit on the button. Even if he suspects Iӭ up to something, this is a rough spot for my opponent. Iӭ brand new to the table, heӳ got no idea how I play, heӳ out of position, and his entire stack of 150,000 is at risk if he makes a bad read. He folded.

I put the same guy in another tough spot about half an hour later. He opened for 7200, and I just called with Ace-Jack offsuit. The flop was 965, all different suits. He bet 9000, which is a pretty weak bet for a board that coordinated. I had no piece of the flop, so I raised to 32,000. Iӭ representing two pair or better here, and if my opponent decides not to believe me, heӳ either going to have to call and risk a big bet on a scary turn or shove his stack in a spot where heӳ only going to get called by monster hands. There werenӴ even any good draws on the board for him to semi-bluff all in with. After a long session of irritated chip shuffling, he folded, and I finished the day with 344,100 chips. Quite a long way from the 30,000 I had at the start. There were 6,358 entries in this yearӳ main event. We stopped for the night with 351 remaining. Day 2B will probably have a few more than that, but when everyone plays together for the first time, there will likely be around 800 competitors remaining. First prize is $8.5 million, and I honestly feel I have as good a chance as anyone at winning it.

Oh, this will probably be meaningful to some of you. I later found out that the guy I bluffed in those last two pots was Robert Mizrachi, brother of Michael Ԕhe GrinderԠMizrachi.


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