03/08/2006

The Elephant's Graveyard

Neil Channing 'Bad Beat'

Event #39 $10,000 NLH Championship Event

I arrived nice and early for my first day, Day 1c and had a quick scout around my table. I didn't recognise anyone. Nor could I see anyone I knew on any of ten surrounding tables. This is my 10th WSOP, the fifth time I've played the Main Event and may be my 30th visit to Vegas and I'd never seen ANY of them.

Before falling asleep I'd worried that I'd get a massive hand and be outdrawn early. Luckily you can't do that if you get no hands at all. Instead I settled into watch and enjoyed seeing my neighbour sweat over calling $8000 more on a KcQcJs board with AdAh. He took five minutes to fold. I discussed openly with the table what a tough decision it was, in order to guage their reaction. They were probably thinking : "The English idiot thought that was hard." but they all pretended it was very tough.

After 30 "hands" I decided to start working with the tools I was given and got a bit involved. By dinner we still hadn't busted anyone but I'd managed a relentless climb to $17,500. There was only one other guy with chips who I now remembered as Bob Hume - a nice fellow who understands the game. The only two of the others who worried me were now a bit low.

Dinner was spent burning Vicky's $10,000 receipt while "The Elegance" and I tried to play down our good fortune. She bounced back well though and managed a smile or two after the Bucks Fizz dose was upped to the correct level.

My plan was more of the same now but the other bastards didn't read the script. I did get to $20k for a second or two but by now we were losing players and somebody somewhere decided that our table needed to get a bit harder. The arrival of Hans "Tuna" Lund was a mixed blessing. On the one hand it was an absolute pleasure just to sit next to and chat with a TRUE total legend of the game. This man has a 2nd a 3rd and a 19th in the Main Event, despite taking about six years out of poker while his kids grew up. I joked with him about the crowds of autograph hunters. He says he has never been asked once despite being ten times the player of some new "TV celebrities". Despite all the joviality though there were people I would rather have seen on my table.

I did make an excellent laydown of JQ on a J,J,9...10 board (Bob showed me KQ) but soon I fell back to $10,000. I needed something good to happen soon. Flopping a set certainly fitted the bill and on a 9,6,2 rainbow I felt check-raising my sixes could be the play. When the geezer called and a seven fell off I though things would be alright. It looked like the sort of card that didn't change much but might induce a bluff. We got the money in and I needed a 2 on the river to beat his 8,10.

From 22k now I was looking to kick on when, with 150/300 blinds and a 25 ante, the utg player made it 2000 to go. Everyone passed and I called from the big blind with QQ. I thought it was either AK,AQ or a small pair. The flop was J,6,3 and he bet $4000. I set him in for $11,000 more leaving me just $6000 and he called instantly with KK. I've no idea whether I should get away from this but I did know it left me in danger of going out on day 1 for the first time in my WSOP career.

One pair of players who fell at around this time (10.11pm) were the two on my next table who had registered for the tournament but never showed up leaving an eight handed table to squabble over their chips.

I did go back to $3500 at one point before a short rush got me up to $11,000 by the end. I had very mixed feelings as I left The Rio. I felt I had played pretty well and was glad to survive on the one hand, on the other hand I may not get very far with the average at over $25,000. Although I was pleased to get that good start early, I wondered long and hard over the QQ/KK hand. By the end I was absolutely knackered, which is unusual for me as I'm usually starting to wake up, maybe I'm getting old.

I was able to have a nice couple of days rest and have had plenty of time to think since. On the whole I'd rather be going back with lowish chips than none and I'm sure there are plenty that would like to swap. If anyone is stopping by The Rio, I hope you will find me on table one.

On Monday I won a few quid at PLO which, the way I played it, doesn't count as poker and spent a great evening in wonderful company watching "Love", the new Beatles Cirque du Soliel Show at Mirage.

Today I was delighted that the Treasure Island Housekeeping team don't understand the basic concept of Do Not Disturb as it gave me extra time to head to L'Arc de Triomphe at Paris and The Secret Gardens of Seigfried and Roy at Mirage for some heavy duty contemplating. The latter was a poignant experience as, after a pretty decent 59yrs, they  now have a large space in the elephant enclosure.

Neil Channing is sponsored to play poker tournaments by BetUSA.com and BetUK.com