WSOP 2007 Diary – Entry 2

On day two of the Omaha event I started the day with around 65,000 chips with a chip average of about 110,000. Although short-stacked in comparison to most other players in relation to blinds of 1500/3000 I was not under pressure and still able to play poker rather than gamble like a gibbon (which some larger stacked players apparently felt obliged or preferred to do).

I built my stack up to about 120,000 without putting myself in much danger and then the pivotal hand for me occurred.

A player under the gun raised to 12,000 and the next player re-raised, effectively all-in for about 60,000. I looked at my hand and I had AAK3 with one flush draw. Now many players would say, probably quite rightly in most cases, that to fold such a hand against what would almost certainly be one player (particularly if I re-raise) would be bordering on cowardice.

I thought about folding on the basis that I had built up my stack by playing poker and playing small pots on flops and re-acting to other players activity.

Whereas this was a situation where I would be putting half my stack into the pot against what would probably be a hand against which I was either not favourite to win (if he had the other two aces and two random cards) or a 60% favourite (if he had a genuine playable hand of most types).

My primary goal at this point in the tournament was to reach the money and guarantee $22,137 and the chip stack I had would virtually ensure this at it was. So to gain additional chips would make me more comfortable but the potential loss of chips would leave under pressure and the loss would certainly be more significant than the gain even if I was a 60% favourite.

It is a very important concept that all poker players should be aware of and although it does not occur very often sometimes it is wise to fold even when you believe you are holding the best hand at the time.

Anyway I decided, probably wrongly (in view of the above not because of the end result), that I could not fold this hand and I re-raised all-in and everyone folded except the initial re-raiser. His hand was a nice looking (particularly for me) AKJJ. The flop was Q94 and then he hit a Ten for a straight and he won the pot.

I was now under pressure to even make the money and I was moved to a table including John Duthie, Tim Phan, Andy Bloch and Scotty Nguyen. I played quite carefully, as were most of the other players, and managed to get into the last 36 players, without much danger and thus ensuring $22,137.

The very next hand Scotty Nguyen limps and it is folded to me in the big blind holding KK22. The flop is a nice looking 23J I check, he bets (as expected as he had done nearly every time it was checked to him in position) and I re-rasied all-in.

He actually managed to get his chips into the pot before me and turned over quite a nice paduki hand of 4569 all different suits. He hit an ace on the turn to make a straight and I did not hit my full house on the river and I was out in 36th.

I had been under pressure for a long time and my only goal had been to reach the, money at that time yet even though I achieved that when I actually was knocked out, only one hand later, I was extremely disappointed.

The European Omaha players are, on the whole, much better and more experienced at assessing the relative strength of Omaha hands than the Americans are. Even the “top names” from America who are well known at Hold em tend to play Omaha as if it were four card hold em (and some quite poorly even if it were).

There were numerous better European Omaha players in the field than me and I guess they were even more disappointed than I was.

For the top European Omaha Players like Dave Colclough, Richard Ashby and Ram Vaswani it must have been quite nasty to have been beaten by technically inferior American players. However the possibility of gambling or playing badly and still succeeding is one of the natural elements in poker.

For the record the event was won by American Robert Mizrachi who is a very good poker player and probably one of the more likely Omaha winners from the American ranks.

Next I played what I call the $1500 entry Chimpanzee Fixed Limit Hold em Shoot-out and I experienced a combination of very bad luck and significant poor play from me as I attempted to chimp my opponents and received the spanking I rightly deserved.

I should have known I was in for a torrid time after the first hand. I limped with JQ and the flop was J67. The player in the small blind and I conceived the cunning plan of calling his bet with a view to re-raising him on the turn.

The turn was a 4 and he bet and re-raised and he called. The river card was a beautiful Q he bet I re-raised and he just called so I knew I had won the hand (if he had better than top two pair he would surely re-raise again).

I triumphantly showed my top two pair opponent showed his 85. Now this is the best possible hand in this scenario and to simply flat call exceeded the gibbon like activity even I had expected.

I looked at his hand, back to the flop, back to his hand just to make sure I was not seeing things. Naturally the other players around the table would be amazed and shocked at this outrageous play (it is apparently actually regarded as cheating and collusion and potentially subject to a penalty if you simply call a bet when holding the absolute best hand).

There was not a flicker of emotion or even mild surprise from any other player (I can only assume they were too busy thinking about various tropical fruits to have noticed).

I later had three occasions where I had both a straight and flush draw and missed all my draws and ended up leaving the tournament shortly after level one. In terms of a players normal playing style in relation to time played I must have achieved the fastest exit from a limit tournament in the history of the World Series.

I was further disappointed that I did not receive any form of trophy, bracelet or other reward for achieving this feat in the Chimpanzee event.

For the record Ram Vaswani won his first and well deserved World Series Bracelet in this event which proves that a truly world class poker player can prevail in any poker environment even the gibbon infested habitat that is a fixed limit tournament.

It is a hard life but someone has to do it and tonight is the Dusk Till Dawn party at the Hugh Hefner Playboy Sky Villa in the Palms Hotel and tomorrow the WSOP Main Event commences.