We started Event #18 with 476 players each with 6,000 chips. I got a great table draw. 15 minutes in I felt like I had everyone figured out to some extent. Happily the two best players were across the table and the two worst were directly to my left and my right (you tend to be involved in more hands with people sitting close to you).
My toughest opponent was a guy who I played at a final table in a $2,000 buy in no limit tournament in L.A. last year (only 60 entrants in that one - I finished 4th). I have never seen anyone at the poker table look more calm, and quiet. The only way you know he's not dead is periodically his chips end up in the pot. I kept rooting for something terrible to happen to him, but that guy is good and he's still in it. Also of note, he opened up his laptop and got in a few hands of online poker while we were on a 20 minute break! Some people just can't get enough poker!
The biggest thing that happened in the first few hours was the soft spot to my left went broke and got replaced with 23 year old poker freak of nature Tom "Durrrr" Dwan. Don't let his stupid nick name (it's actually his online poker screen name) fool you. This guy is as good as they get.
Let me tell you how good this guy is. He posted an open challenge to anyone in the world to play him 50,000 hand of online, heads up (one on one), $200/$400 blinds no limit hold'em or pot limit Omaha. If he came out ahead (even $1) his opponent would owe him $500,000 (plus he would keep any money he won playing). But if his opponent beat him (again even by just a dollar) he'd pay out $1,500,000!!
There are a few people who are interested and so far only one player has given him action. At last check which was 33,000 hands into the match Patrick Antonius (one of the worlds best cash game players) was losing $1,900,000 to Dwan.
Another thing I'd heard about Tom is that he has major side bets (like all the top pros do) for this world series. I'd heard a few different things, but word on the street is that he bet $2,500,000 to win $8,000,000 that he'd win at least one of the 57 WSOP events this year. He got incredibly close finishing 2nd of 2,500+ players in a $1,500 no limit event a few days ago.
So this is the fucking guy I have dead to my left (which means he's acting after me - a big deal - every hand except when I'm the button). After a little while I asked him about the side bets since I'd heard different amounts. Let me just pause here to say how cool is that? The guys picture is all over the place here, he's on the cover of poker magazines left and right, everyone is speculating about this stuff and I get to sit next to him and just ask him what's going on in between hands!
What he told me was it would be his "biggest win ever" meaning middle seven figures. But it turns out that on top of his bet to win an event this year, he has some other two and three year bets as well as money won bets and head to head who has a better series bets with several other top pros.
Which brings me to the story of a ridiculous hand that I played against him. We were playing 200/400 stakes, I had about 7,000 chips and we'd just come back from our second break (it was 4:45). Tom had mentioned that he had to play the $10,000 2-7 lowball event which started at 5. That event was likely to only draw about 100 players which would give him a great chance to win even though that's not his game. It's just easier to get through 100 people than the 1,000+ you get in most of the events. When you have millions on the line for victory you need to give yourself every chance. The buy ins are nothing and even the prize money is not much compared to the side bets.
So he started raising every hand without even looking at his cards! Remember we're playing limit poker here so you can just move all in; you can only raise a specific amount. He said his goal was to take his stack of about 4,000 chips up to 8,000 or go broke. The thing is that he can go off and play that other tournament, but his chips stay on the table and his blinds get taken as if he were folding 100% of the hands. He thought if he had 8,000 or so that was enough that his chips would last a few hours and he might be able to make it back to them on breaks of the other tournament (or if he went broke in the 2-7 tournament of course he'd come back to them).
Amazingly he was having trouble getting action from the players at our table. After a few hands I picked up T9 suited. While I'd greatly prefer a hand with some showdown value like an ace or a pair, I figured it was worth it to take a risk here. I raised knowing 100% that I was going to get three bet by a player who hadn't seen his cards and I would probably end up heads up against him with a slightly above average hand.
So I made it 400, Tom made it 600, the small blind called and so did I. The flop came down T 3 3, the small blind checked, I checked, and still not having seen his cards Tom bet 200. The small blind made it 400 and I made it 600 with my top pair. At this point Tom looked and called. I figured he'd call with as little as one over card here.
The turn was a 9 which was a great card because now I could beat any other player with a ten (unless it was TT or T3). The small blind checked, I bet 400, Tom went all in for 525 and after lots of hemming and hawing the small blind folded 77 face up.
The river was a 7! The small blind went semi crazy and I thought "wow I dodged a bullet there!" So I rolled over my two pair ready to take down the 5k chip pot. WRONG! Very quietly Tom rolls over 23 off suit and wins with trips! Curse you Tom Dwan! I hope you lose all your side bets you bastard!
I'm just kidding. My impression of Tom was nothing but favorable. He seemed like a nice guy and I wish him the best. But it's not every fucking day that someone three bets you dark with 23 off, and flops trips in a $2,000 tournament!
A few hands later Tom went down the tubes, strolled off to play his $10,000 tournament and things went back to normal.
About that time I got dealt KQ and came in for a raise. I got three bet by a solid player and I just called. The flop came down K J 8 and I check called the flop with the plan to check raise the turn. When it came out it was a 9 and like clock work I check raised. But them my opponent reraised me! Yikes! All of a sudden I did not like my hand, but I figured a T or maybe a K or Q would make me a winner. When the river came out - BING! - it was a ten making me a straight. I check raised my opponent again and took down a huge pot. If I miss the river I have less than 1,000 chips left.
But I took that money and ran with it.
In level 8 we were playing 500/1000 and my biggest hand of the day came up. I had stormed up to 17,000 chips and I got dealt KT of hearts on the button. I raised, the small blind reraised, the big blind made it 4 bets and we both called. The flop came down Q T 5 with one heart. The small blind checked, the big blind bet, I called, now the small blind raised and the big blind reraised! ACK!
I knew I was beat, but there was a 9,000 in the pot and it would only cost me another 1,000 to see the turn card. I figured my opponents for hands like AQ or AA or even AK with flush draw. I thought for 30 seconds and decided since I had a backdoor flush draw to go with my pair it was worth it to see the turn. It was a total brick - a six. SHIT! Now what?
The big blind bet the turn and now I'm getting 12.5 to 1 on my money (assuming the small blind also calls, which I was sure he'd do) when I'm about 8 to 1 to make two pair or trips. The problem is if I'm against a set I'm drawing dead.
In the end I went for it and I hit a ten on the river! Slot machine noises instantly went off in my head. I got one call on the river and was up to 27,000 as we went on break after level 8.
From there I took it all the way up to 33,000 when average was less than 20,000. Those 33,000 chips had a value of $11,000 real dollars. But the last hour really sucked! Unlike the first 9 levels I was faced with a handful of tough decisions and I missed the flop over and over when I had a hand to play.
I ended the day with 16,300. You can check out my Day 2 Preview which will be up shortly for what comes next.