July 19, 2005

Lion tearing up the Ultimate Poker Challenge

I've made my third televised final table, this time in the $2600 event. As usual taping starts at 2 p.m. (Weds. 7/20) so come on down to the Plaza and cheer my on if you're in Las Vegas. I'm once again second in chips but everyone is pretty close. I have Gavin "Birdguts" Smith on my left.

July 16, 2005

Lion Alert redux

I'm way behind on my tournament reports but I've made a second TV table in the Ultimate Poker Challenge. If you're in Vegas come down to the Plaza at 2 p.m. Saturday 7/16 and root me on and maybe get on TV. I'm second short stack with 21,200, about half of average, and blinds are 1500/3000 with a 400 ante, so I'd better win the first hand I play.

July 12, 2005

Lion Alert!

I made the TV table of Monday's event in the Ultimate Poker Challenge at the Plaza. I am second in chips with 51,800. The taping starts at 2 p.m. Tuesday July 12. If you are in Las Vegas and would like to watch, come to the Plaza Hotel downtown. There is seating for a limited number of spectators.

July 10, 2005

Binion's Revenge: 2005 WSOP Event #24, $2500 No-Limit Hold 'Em

play online poker
Play Online Poker

The Voice

I took a day off while they played Seven-Card Stud and entered the next TV event, the $2500 No-Limit Hold 'Em tourney drawing 1056 players, which I guess made this a smallish event. I got table 139, seat two, and found the well-known Internet player Bo "Legato" Sehlstedt on my left in seat three. He busted out quickly but was replaced by another top pro, Barny "The Voice" Boatman, who provided analysis for the pioneering poker TV show "Late Night Poker." Barny got short stacked and when I called a late raise on the small blind with pocket Eights he tried the squeeze play and moved in. It folded to me and I said, "OK, I'll give you a loose call." I had heard Alan Goehring say that once and thought it sounded smart. He shook his head and said, "I didn't know you were that good," turning over Ten-Six of Hearts. I flopped an Eight and he was out. I was up to 3700. Then I raised from middle position with Jack-Ten of Hearts and got called by seat five. The flop came Nine-Four-Four with one Heart. I bet out and he called. Then another Heart came on the turn and I decided to continue the bluff, betting about half the pot. He called again. Now I was worried I was up against a monster but I thought it more likely he had something like pocket Sevens or Eights. The river was perfect: the Deuce of Hearts. I decided to bet half my chips and fold to a raise. He called and mucked when I showed the Flush. I was up to 6075 and had 5700 at the break.


When play resumed I got it all in preflop with Ace-King and ended up chopping against the same hand. Then I got it all in with Ace-Queen of Spades against pocket Jacks when the flop came low with two Spades. With 15 outs twice I had the best hand and caught my card on the river to chip up to 9150. Robert Blechman came into seat five. I went to the next break with 9950.


Then Dustin Sitar came into seat seven and caught a rush, accumulating a huge stack. The guy next to him in seat eight had an even bigger rush and was busting people right and left. I went card dead and failed in my steal attempts, bleeding down to 5935 at the dinner break. I drove to Caesars and had a quick bite at their food court.


When we got back, with 200/400 blinds and a 50 ante I got a gambling hand, pocket Jacks in second position. I was here to gamble so I made it 1000. Seat three on my left called and the flop came King high with two low cards. I bet 2000 and he moved all in. I studied quite a while and decided to fold. He told me he had King-Queen. Adam Green came into seat 10 with a nice stack. Then two hands later I was the big blind and before anyone could act, the short stack in the small blind said, "All in," out of turn. Well, it folded to him and sure enough he moved all in. Getting better than two-to-one I called blind. It turned out I had King-Queen suited and he showed Ace-Ten. I made a Flush to bust him and was back up to 4525. Then I called a late-position raise by a short stack with Ace-Jack offsuit in the small blind. He showed Eight-Seven and didn't improve so I was up to 7300. I tried a steal that didn't work and was down to 5600 at the next break.


Then Parker Binion, who called his side of the family the "black sheep" because they were lawyers and not gamblers, moved his short stack in from early position. It folded all the way to me in the big blind. He had me covered slightly and I called with Ace-Queen offsuit. He flipped over Jack-Ten suited and flopped a Jack to put me out of the contest 140th.


July 9, 2005

Quack Quack: 2005 WSOP Event #22, $1500 No-Limit Hold 'Em

play online poker
Play Online Poker

Ducks and Cowboys

My next event was another $1500 No-Limit Hold 'Em tournament, this one drawing a stunning 2013 entrants. I got table 57, seat three. Seat five was Joe Awada, the casino-game designer who shined in last year's WSOP; seat seven, the boisterous Tony G.; and seat nine was Paul "X-22" Magriel. Tony and seat one busted right away and were replaced by top pro Surindar Sunar in seat seven and Matt Matros's friend Chris Fargis in seat one. Chris didn't last long as he made a loose call of a preflop re-reraise all in from X-22 with Ace-Queen. Paul showed pocket Queens and Chris didn't improve. I won several small pots and was up to 2150 at the break. Then with 50/100 blinds seat eight open-limped from middle position and the small blind completed. I found King-Queen offsuit on the big blind and made it 300 more. Seat eight called and the small blind folded. The flop came Ace-Eight-Five. I bet 500 and he moved all in for only 300 more. I had got myself into a pickle and decided to call, getting better than six-to-one but realizing I was probably dead to runner-runner. He turned over Presto for the set of Fives and I didn't hit my Straight so I was down to 1300.


Then X-22 and Joe Awada got into a pot together with Paul raising to "quack quack" – 2200 – as was his custom. I mentioned that if he busted Joe it would be a "duck-out-Awada." I got one or two groans. Then with the blinds 100/200 I found pocket Sevens in the small blind and moved in. Joe called with Jack-Ten suited and I doubled up to 2500. Chris Bjorn moved into seat seven when Surindar took a bad beat. Then I raised with pocket Kings in the cutoff and got called by seat six in the big blind. The flop came Ace high and we both checked. The turn was low and he bet 600, about half his chips. I decided to raise all in and he called with Ace-Deuce, bringing me down to 50. Then I put my last chips in with King-Queen of Clubs in a four-way pot and ended up cracking the Aces of the same guy in seat six. That brought me up to 200, which I put in with Ace-Jack of Diamonds under the gun. It folded all the way to the small blind, who kindly completed the bet to either bust me or give me extra chips. He had Eight-Four of Hearts and ended up making a Flush to send me out of the contest. There were still 1390 players left.


Dinner was at Terrazza at Caesars Palace with Aaron "Tec" Bartley, Rick Wampler, and Rob "VeeRob" Perelman. They were serving the Nero's menu in addition to their normal one while Nero's was under renovation so we had a nice mixed Italian/steak meal washed down by a bottle of Tinto Pesquera..


July 7, 2005

Five more dimes: 2005 WSOP Event #20, $5000 Pot-Limit Hold 'Em

play online poker
Play Online Poker

Five more dimes: 2005 WSOP Event #20, $5000 Pot-Limit Hold 'Em

Semi bluff

Next up was the $5000 Pot-Limit Hold 'Em event, which drew a mere 239 players. I got table 120, seat eight, and when I arrived there was a sign on the table saying go to table 25, so I did. There were going to be some chips in play at this table: on my left in seat 10 was the very aggressive Alex Balandin, who made the final table at this season's WPT event in the Bahamas. Next to him was Jeff "Happy" Shulman of Card Player. Seat three was the fast-playing Doug Lee. Seat six was my old buddy Al Adler I was going to be making some tough decisions.


Right away on the second hand, Doug open-raised from middle position and got a call from seat seven on the button and from me in the small blind with pocket Jacks. The flop came all low cards with two Spades. I checked to Doug and he bet the pot.  The button folded. I made it 1000 to go and he called. The turn was an offsuit Nine.  I checked to Doug again and he bet the pot.  I studied and decided I had the best hand. I moved all in and he called immediately with a Nine-Eight, giving him five outs. They didn't come so I doubled to 10,000 and he was out.


Then I raised a pot with several limpers with pocket Tens on the button and got three callers. The flop came King-low-low with two Diamonds. I bet the pot and got one caller. The turn was the Nine of Spades, making two Spades on the board and we both checked. The river was the Ten of Spades, giving me a set of Tens. He bet out 600. I didn't think he had the Flush so I made it 1775 to go. He sweated and finally called. I showed my hand and he mucked. I was up to 13,050. Then English pro Bruce Corman took seat three. I got away from Ace-King on a flop of Ace-Eight-Seven when I got reraised on the flop and he showed me pocket Eights for the set. That took me down to 10,775. Then I got into it with Alex and check-raised him for most of his chips on a scary board of King-Queen-Ten, two Hearts. I had the flush draw with Eight-Seven of Hearts and he called rather quickly with Ace-Queen for second pair, saying, "I've never made a good laydown in my life." I didn't hit and was down to 6600 at the break. Happy Shulman started going off about how you're not supposed to raise with Flush draws in pot limit. I wasn't quite sure why not but I kind of wished I hadn't.


After the break I won a medium pot from Happy without a showdown, getting me back to 9300, but then lost two out of three small pots and was back to 6700 by the next break. I went card dead and dribbled down to 5050 by the next break and then with 4900 they broke my table and moved me to table four, seat five. Steve "Z" Zolotow had seat one; Hasan Habib seat three, Joe "The Elegance" Beevers seat four, and then Shar Koumi took seat two. I didn't get much and had 4675 at the next break.


Finally I picked up Ace-King under the gun and raised. Hasan called. The flop came Nine-Eight-Six with two Hearts. Hasan led out for 700, which I took to mean he was on a draw. I figured I may have the best hand or may have six outs so I put in the rest of my chips. He had a huge draw: Jack-Ten of Hearts, making him the favorite although I had the best hand at the moment. The turn was a Ten and I didn't festa al lago so I was out of the contest in 99th place.


July 5, 2005

Shot down in my prime: 2005 WSOP Event #16, $1500 No-Limit Hold 'Em Shootout

play online poker
Play Online Poker


I got back into town in time to play today's tournament, which was in shoot-out format and drew 780 entrants. The shoot-out meant that you had to win your starting table to advance to the next round. I noticed that everyone at my table had signed up around the same time, meaning that the table draws were not in fact random as set out in the rules. I called the floor's attention to this but, since the only known player at my table was Kirill Gerasimov two to my right, I didn't request that any action be taken.


As for the tournament, I lost most of my chips with pocket Nines versus pocket Jacks, then made a garbage call on the big blind getting great odds with King-Deuce. The under-the-gun raised surprised me by turning over King-Nine suited and I was the second one out at my table.


Dinner was at Ah Sin with noted author Matt "Jacks Up" Matros and his girlfriend Ivy. We had a variety of tempting Asian treats washed down by the 2001 Mondavi Cabernet.


The World Series needs a better theme song than "That was a Crazy Game of Poker" by OAR. Here's one suggestion:

To the tune of Elton John's "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"

I can't steal no more blinds and antes

All my pictures seem to lose to rags and bones

I'm growing tired and time won't stand still for me

Frozen here at a table of unknowns


It's much too late to save my chips from calling

I took a chance and bet with pocket Kings

But you misread my meaning when I raised you

Moved all in and gave me two to one pot odds


Don't let the donks draw out on me

Although I'm favored here, you've got a Seven and a Three

I'd just allow a fragment of the flop to wander free

But losing runner-runner is like the donks drawing out on me.


July 3, 2005

Cold decked again: 2005 WSOP Event #13, $5000 NLHE

play online poker
Play Online Poker

It's da Wollif

The next event was a $5000 No-Limit Hold 'Em tourney that drew an amazing 466 players. I got table 18, seat 10, and found a nice table with few faces I recognized: Paul Wolfe, with whom I had played quite a bit on line, on my right in seat nine, and Liz Lieu, a good cash-game player who had cashed in a previous event this year, in seat two. There were some nutty players at the table but neither Paul nor I could get their chips. As they busted, the table got tougher: Chip Jett came in on my left in seat one; David Plastik in seat five; and John "Tipper" Stolzman in seat six. A guy named Alex, whose nickname was "The Dolphin," came into seat seven with a large crystal dolphin to use as a card protector. I commented on it and he sadly pointed out, "It's missing the…the…" "Dorsal fin?" I asked. "Yes," he said. I couldn't resist teasing someone whose nickname was "The Dolphin," so every time he raised, I asked some question like, "You know, dolphins aren't really that scary, are they?" or "Is a dolphin a fish or a mammal?" Little did he know than when he answered, I was seeing into his soul. I was down to 4075 at the break from my starting 5000.


Paul busted and a new player came into seat nine. He made a late-position raise and I found Ace-Queen offsuit on the button. Normally I would push all in here but with Chip Jett and Liz Lieu on the blinds I decided to just call and hope one of them would try the "squeeze play." Sure enough, Liz made it 2500. Seat nine folded and I moved all in. She had fallen into my trap! Unfortunately she had pocket Kings. The original raiser also had Ace-Queen so I was looking for one of the remaining two Aces and they didn't come so I was out of the contest 220th, cold-decked again.


Dinner was at Craftsteak with Avi "Two Cokes" Freedman. We had Marvin, the best waiter in the world, serving us so a bad meal was impossible. The Kobe Flatiron was superb as always and the peas and corn were bursting with flavor. Avi had two Diet Cokes and I had the yummy 2002 Matallena Ribera del Duero.


I flew home for a couple days to recharge. I planned to play a couple more events before the Big Dance.