Thursday, June 07, 2018

2018 WSOP $1,500 HORSE - Ups, Downs and Playing With Phil Ivey

When I play back these tournaments in my head it's all about the hands, but I don't think I have any Stud or Razz enthusiasts reading so I'll keep the hand recaps to a minimum and focus on the broader picture. 

We started with 7,500 chips, 60 minute levels with a 20 minute break after ever other level and a 75 minute dinner break after level 6 with Day 1 ending after level 10. Also worth noting is we switched from one game to the next in the HORSE mix every 8 hands.

I got off to a shitty start and was down under 5,000 chips in the final minutes of the second level. I won the last hand of the level which got me even, but at the start of level 3 took a dip down to about 4,000 chips. At this point I started thinking about what I might do with the rest of my day after an early bust out. 

The table I was on was in the middle of a group of 15 tables and every now and then I'd stretch my legs and look around. Looking at the other players it was like I was playing a game of "Is this person someone from the bay area, a poker celebrity or just a random dude." There was Phil Helmuth who was unmistakeable, a guy who looked like someone I know from the Oaks, but upon closer inspection was not anyway I knew and a guy I knew from somewhere who I finally realized was multiple bracelet winner Barry Greenstein. I saw Chuck from Bay 101 and I saw 2005 Main Event Champ Greg Raymer. I saw online legend Jon Turner and some dude who was no one. I realized in that 15 table group there were (at least) 3 guys who had written poker books that I had read.

But the field was pretty soft. HORSE is not a game for the new school crushers and there were loads of passive old dudes in the mix as well. 

My luck turned around in level 3 and 4 and my 4,000 chips stack quickly ballooned to 16,900 by the second break. I made some hands, but also I did a great job of running over the weaker players. Some guys bail in the stud games if they catch one bad card or when I catch one good one. If you lean on them at all they fold way more than they should. 

After coming back from that break they stopped all of the tournament action in the room to award a WSOP Bracelet to a recent winner. He was from France so they played the French national anthem and his wife and friends joined him up on stage and he gave a little speech! I thought that was cool. Here is a terrible picture of that:


I continued to play well and run well and by the dinner break I was up to about 24,000 coming back to stakes of 400/800. This was a comfortable stack and in my mind I thought about it like playing a $20/$40 cash game with $1,200 which is something I can relate to and I know is plenty to work with. I had a Smash Burger for dinner which hit the spot and then went and sat by the pool for 10 minutes. That felt amazing and is going to be a dinner break habit.


Levels 7 and 8 felt like they did not go well, but when I counted down my chips I still had 22,800.

After another break we came back at about 9:30 pm, to start level 9. Registration was open for 8 levels or technically to the start of level 9 and a few people took advantage of that. One of those people was Phil Ivey and he got seated at my table! Phil has been almost without argument considered one of the top 4 or 5 poker players in the world for the 15-20 years. He's crushed at the biggest tournaments, the biggest online games and the biggest cash games year after year winning tens of millions of dollars.

Anyway, he still got the same 7,500 chip stack that we all started with which was pretty short at this point. He had his headphones on and didn't say a word other than to ask how much longer we'd be playing that day and one hoarse whisper of "raise." Some guy came over to talk to him that seemed like a friend and he responded with a look. Another sentence from the guy got a different look. A third sentence and a third look, but no words and the guy was off. 

I won a nice pot right after he arrived and was up to 30,000 chips and feeling great. But then things turned south for us both. Phil only won one small pot in Hold'em and half an Omaha pot in the 67 minutes he was at our table before busting. Poker News reporters were camped around out table to cover all of the totally unexciting action.

Briefly worth noting is that 2012 Main Event runner up (who won $5.2M for the effort) Jesse Silvia was at our table for a couple of hours, also short stacked, and who also went busto fairly quickly. 

Anyway, I went down the toilet big time in the last level. The stretch that sticks with me is when I had a couple of hands in the stud hi-lo where I had a low draw and a flush draw and bricked out on both and on one of those I also had a straight draw and even pairing two of my cards would have been good for the high half of the pot. It was frustrating to have my worst run outs in the biggest level of the day.

But I did survive to Day 2. I only have 9,100 chips left, but I'm still in it with a chance. 256 players of the 731 entrants made it through Day 1. The chip leader has 98,600 and I'm in 173rd which is better than I might have expected. If i make it to 110th that will pay $2,253 and if I turn things around first place is $202,787. Level 11 is 1000/2000 so I've got enough for about one big hand and will need help early. We redrew tables for the next day so I'll have new slate of opponents.

Also of note, it's very unlikely that I will the play the No Limit 6 Max event today. I could register late if I bust in the HORSE, but after busting in any tournament you're not in a great mindset and I played a long ass day yesterday so I think my next event will be Friday's PLO.

Also of note, if you've never see what they do with our chips overnight, it's kind of interesting. You put your name, table number and seat number on this taper evident bag.


The give you this little carbon copy form that has your day 2 table and seat and creates 3 copies - one to go in the bag, one to go to the dealer and one that you keep.



Then the dealer collects all the bags.


And each one of these orange bags is for Day 2 table. 


Lastly the proper way to celebrate making day 2 without actually making they money is not with Champagne, but with a tall boy of The Champagne of Beers. On to Day 2!







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