WSOP 2007 Diary – Entry 3

The main event was, much like last year, pretty much a waste of time for me as I completely failed to get going in the game. I had a couple of decent hands but won few chips from them as my opponents had little to take me on with. In seven hours play I failed to hit anything better than one pair in any hand I played up until the final hand at least when holding Ace King I hit two pairs only t find an opponent with a set.
The players on my table were generally no better than average. There were two players who could regularly win pots they played without the best hand but the others were straight forward “play the cards I get” and very easy to read types who made the approximate strength of their hand generally pretty obvious.

One lady who literally either bet when she had a hand or checked, ready to fold, when she did not was fortunate enough to have pocket aces five times, pocket kings two times, pocket queens two times and medium pairs that hit a set on the flop three times and after 6 hours play without having lost any major pots she had 23,000 chips having started with 20,000. She did nothing to try and manipulate the aggressive players into mistakes or to extract additional chips from them and she may as well have turned her cards face up after most bets she made.
It is always best to consider what kind of hand your opponent has and also very importantly what re-action you are likely to get depending on the action you make and what re-action your opponent may be trying to induce in you as a result of their actions.

On numerous occasions the lady would check on the flop and one of the two or three active players would then bet almost certain that she would fold and she virtually never let them down. It was almost a known fact on the table (for those that were paying attention) that if the lady in question had a hand she bet and if she did not she would check and then fold if you bet.

It would not seem like the most sophisticated of plays to check when you actually have a hand in order to obtain a bet from an aggressive player with little or no hand but, this was something she was unable or unwilling to consider. And she simply bet out and generally induced a fold.

My friend Jeff Kimber had about 24000 when suffering another unpleasant beat that was a truly good example of the horrible injustice that can occur in poker where remarkable poor judgement by an opponent can be rewarded.

A highly aggressive player at his table who was raising pre-flop around 60% of the time and continuation betting about 98% of the time put in his usual raise to 1200 from mid position and Jeff re-raised him 3600 holding two nines. The aggressive player who had clearly been watching too much television poker without the intellect to fully appreciate what he was seeing after some thought apparently decided that Jeff was making a moved on him and re-raised a further 5000 (not enough to make someone fold most hands that you might genuinely re-raise with and he had no information or past history to suggest that Jeff was simply making a move with no hand- so in other words he was simply making an uninformed random decision to lump more chips into the pot and hope to induce a fold and even then did not re-raise enough to properly get the job done) which Jeff called , particularly after making the judgement that his opponent looked very uncomfortable while awaiting Jeff’s re-action to his re-raise.

Having been called it should have been obvious to the telly addict that Jeff had a genuine hand and when the flop came 557 and Jeff having put about 40% of his chips into the pot pre-flop there are not many hands one can assume Jeff has that will now fold (AK and any over-pair are almost certainly going to call on the flop against an aggressive player). So the telly addict bets out 5000 and Jeff moves all-in for about 11000, which is instantly called. At this point Jeff thinks he has misread the situation and his aggressive opponent has outplayed him. Then he turns over ace six off-suit and the turn and river are a four and an eight to give him a straight and win the pot.

He apologised for his outrageous luck though unless he was planning on losing chips I find it hard to imagine how he thought he could play like that and win a pot without feeling the need to apologise to his victim.

All in all the main event of the WSOP must be the worlds worst tournament in terms of cost of entry in relation to general standard of play. I realise that regardless of the general standard of play each player is only immediately up against the other players on their table and if one thinks that the general standard of play is bad then this should be a good thing.

However it is an enormous field including a very large number who can not judge or do not even try to judge the strength of an opponents hand and are more than happy to seriously over bet any hand and call with any drawing hand for any amount of chips or proportion of their stack and will apparently seek out any opportunity to have a coin flip for their tournament life (though this would be an advisable strategy where a player chooses to play without attempting to make actions based on considered judgement).

In general terms if you are playing a tournament and you move all in with say king queen and some one shows you king jack and asks you if you want them to call, most players will reply yes please. In the world series main event there will be hundreds of players queuing up to give you similar opportunities on a regular basis and you can only take on so many turn-overs before you get unlucky, sometimes it is only one!

To give some examples of this that actually occurred in this years WSOP main event with less than one hundred players left, out of the 6358 that started, we have a player raising to 110,000 (blinds10,000/20,000) and facing an all-in re-raise of 865,000 calls for two thirds of his stack- the two hands are A2 and JK off suit.

There were numerous examples of raises to around 100,000 facing re-raises of around one million chips called by small pocket pairs. I may be too tight but if I am holding say pocket fours and am facing such a re-raise my thoughts are that if I put my opponent on a bluff I am still likely to be little better than a coin flip even if I am right. If I am wrong I am either just about a coin flip or a serious underdog in the hand. As a short-term gamble to get knocked out or at least temporarily have a bigger stack this may be considered as a reasonable choice but surely, in terms of being a long-term regular winner, this must be a losing call.

The most impressive example of flair poker on day 5 was exhibited by the 44th placed finisher Senavio Ramirez III who with blinds at 25,000/50,000 raised to 475,000 and had one player call him. So with almost one million chips in the pot pre-flop it might occur to most players that having just 150,000 chips left might not be enough to make any one fold any hand that could call a 475,000 pre-flop raise. Mr Ramirez, presumably remembering the Alamo, moved all-in for his last 150,000 on a flop of 8JQ and was not surprisingly called by pocket ten’s. Mr Ramirez was a touch unlucky when his 2,3 failed to improve and he left the tournament to collect his $237,865 prize.

At the start of day five there were 36 players left and with blinds at 30,000/60,000 one player found himself short-stacked with around 560,000. The first hand of the day he was under the gun and although short-stacked I do not think he was under imminent danger but he decided that an all-in bet into the full table with ten six off suit was the order of the day and he left the tournament in 36th place.

The final started with a truly international field with representatives from four continents.

The chip leader was Danish player Philip Hilm who gave a good example of how a good gambler can get rid of a big stack.
In the latter stages of the tournament he had raised to 100,000 and called an all-in re-raise of 1.1 Million (a large portion of his stack) with JQ ( it was suited though).

Later on after a raise to 160,000 and a call he flat called in mid-position with pocket sixes- now my view on this hand in this position is that any action can be justified. You may decide you do not know where you stand and as you are around seven to one to flop a set and may not be winning even if you do it is not worth a call and fold, I would not criticise this view, although I would not normally subscribe to it. You may decide (as I would) that with a 4 Million plus chip stack it is worth seeing a flop as you can hit a six and win a big pot or even miss the flop and win the pot using the position you have on the other two players already in the pot by choice, or simply miss the flop and get away cheaply if necessary. The third choice, is to re-raise on the basis that it is reasonable to assume a hand good enough to call the re-raise is probably not behind you and if you can get past the initial raiser you are likely to win the pot without seeing a flop.

I would not disagree particularly with any of the three choices, though my choice would be the flat call for the reason stated.
Anyway Philip Hilm chooses to flat call the raise. Then a player goes all-in behind him for over 1.5 Million chips and it is folded back to Hilm who now decides his pocket sixes are suddenly worth a huge call where he can reasonably expect to be a coin flip if he is lucky. His opponent had pocket tens which held up.

Hilm raised to 600,000 and was met with an all-in re-raise of 3.49 Million from the very tight playing Alex Kravchenko. After considering the situation for about 2 minutes no doubt taking account of the pot odds, the expected value of making the call, the tight image of Alex and most importantly, I think, the suited nature of his own cards, he decided it was worth a call to hit a probable 3 outer and called with A8 hearts doubling up his opponent.

He must have participated in some successful gambling though as he did go to the final as chip leader and was described as hard to read, aggressive, likely to play any two cards and as chip leader very dangerous (in turned out to be to himself rather than anyone else).
Despite entering the final as chip leader he lasted only 15 hands without being unlucky or putting his chips in good. Though when you consider that he took on the new chip leader and only player that could knock him out when facing a raise, out of position and holding 58 (suited of course) what else could he do?

Jon “Skalie” Kalmar was 5th winning over $1.2 Million and had he won a race with AK versus JJ I believe he would have won the whole thing for the UK. He was playing superbly with measured skill and timed aggression and was one of the few players at the final table capable of making it happen for himself.

Having said that he was, as were the other players at a distinct disadvantage as they were playing “one person to a hand” whereas the earlier highly aggressive chip leader Jerry Yang had the lord helping him apparently.

When involved in a serious pot he would pray out loud reminding the lord that he had a special purpose for him and that he would glorify his name should he win the pot. (I may try the same in this weeks GUKPT in Newcastle)

He ended up winning the event and having promised a significant portion of his winnings to charity it is nice to know that many deserving causes will benefit from his success and I am sure he will make a great ambassador for the game.