December 1, 2003

Bellagio been berry berry good to me

But not this time

Bellagio scheduled a series of high-stakes tournaments during the slowest time of the year, the first half of December, so I decided to make three separate trips down to Vegas to play in the three No-Limit Hold 'Em events. The first was a $1500 buy-in event on Dec. 1. I registered the night before, a good thing because the line the next morning was cantankerous. Shortstack and I had dinner with our buddy Jim "Krazy Kanuck" Worth at Aqua.  We ordered the seven-course feast and a bottle of the 1999 Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, which they had to steal from Picasso. The dinner was awesome as was the company.


I got assigned to table 33 seat 8, a good table for Shortstack to watch me. The tournament started 90 minutes late because of computer problems. There were no world-famous players at the table but the woman to my left was Olivia, the wife of a friend of a girl I grew up with. Small world. Many of the usual suspects were there: Erik Seidel, Chip Jett, Johnny Chan, and David "Devilfish" Ulliott were all thankfully assigned to tables other that mine. Phil Hellmuth, Jr., was nowhere in site but my table was full without him.


When we finally started I drew the big blind and the sunglassed kid in seat 1 raised the 50 blind to 200. It folded to me and I saw a Pair of Aces, Pocket Rockets, American Airlines. I made it 700. He thought awhile and then put in 250. The dealer told him the raise was 500 and he took it out but I said, "I believe that's a call." House rules at Bellagio stated that if you put in half the bet it was considered a call and you had to put in the other half. The dealer offered to get a floor decision and I assented but the kid in seat 1 said, "Fine, I call," and put in 500. The flop came Q-9-6, two Spades. I hoped he didn't hit a Set and moved all in. He folded and I won the first pot of the day.


I won Olivia's blind a couple of times as she folded every hand, playing conservatively in the early going, and then I found Ace-King of Diamonds in early position. I made it 175 and it folded to seat 3 who moved all in. AK suited is my favorite hand for calling all in and I would still have 1500 chips left if I lost so I called. He turned over Jacks and although the flop came two Diamonds the Jacks held up and I lost. I had had visions of being the chip leader but instead I was down to half my starting stack.


Soon after that debacle, I limped in with Seven-Eight of Spades and the flop came 8-6-3, two Spades. I bet 175 and it folded around to my right where an experienced player named Mike called. The Turn was the Nine of Hearts and he checked it to me. Now with a Straight draw and a Flush draw, I bet 325. He reraised me all in, another 1200 or so. I had seen him go all in on a straight draw earlier so I knew he was capable of a semi-bluff with a hand like A-7. I figured I had 13 outs even if he had already made the Straight with a 7-5 and 20 if he hadn't. The pot odds were about right at 2-1 so I gambled and called. He turned over one of the worst hands for me, Jack-9 of Spades, meaning I had only 11 outs: two Eights, three Sevens, four Tens and four Fives. The River was a Jack and I was out of the contest.


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