BeL0WaB0Ve’s WSOP Blog: Part II


We're featuring Kevin "BeL0WaB0Ve" Saul's blog throughout this year's World Series of Poker. For full coverage of what's going on out in Vegas, visit

It's time to play my 1st WSOP event of the year, the $1,000 NLHE with rebuys. Most would probably think that the rebuy is my favorite preliminary event of the series, but actually it is my 2nd favorite right behind the $5,000 NLHE. To say that the rebuy tournament did not go as well as I would have liked would be an understatement.

I got to my table and was greeted by the man himself, Sorel "Imper1um" Mizzi, who was sitting across the table. We look at each other and immediately start laughing, "ALL-IN BLIND," Imper1um said, like this was an internet $100 rebuy. I'm not sure if he looked or pushed blind, but I looked down at an A K offsuit and called all-in for 4,000. Somehow, I dodged a J 4 6 flop vs. Sorel's 3 5 offsuit.

I still felt very cramped due to the guy in seat 8's unwillingness to move over into some of the empty space where seats 9 and 10 would be if they had shown up on time. Sorel is always one to help a friend when he can, and on the very next hand, the guy in seat 8 raised Sorel's BB. Sorel shoved 5 7 off and the guy called all-in with JJ. The flop was 3 4 6, and Sorel had flopped the nuts. The player in seat 8 elected not to rebuy, and I finally had some room. So I was off to a sweet start and praying that Sorel's all-ins would continue to benefit me. Well that obviously didn't happen, and I actually lost a 12,000 chip pot with AK against Sorel's pocket deuces. The rest of the rebuy hour did not go well, and I ended up spending a total of $10,000 on the tournament with 7 rebuys and a double add-on at the break. I had just over the minimum of 8,000 to show for all this.

No one likes to hear stories of bad beats or coolers, so I will spare you the details, but I ended up busting just after the second break. The $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo event had just started, so I decided to hop on line and see how many players they had and if it was worth playing. They ended up getting close to 700 players, so I decided to take a shot and play. Two hours later, and after only dragging 1 non-chopped pot the entire time, I was out. As I explained my downfalls to Brett "Gank" Jungblut, he simply replied to me, "That's why they call it Omahahahahaha."

I decided to grab some food with a couple of friends who were on dinner break from the rebuy and we ended up eating at The Sportsbook there in the Rio. After we finished eating, I decided to hit the rail and see if there was anything good to watch. Unfortunately, Jon "Pokertrip" Friedberg had already been eliminated in 3rd place from the $1500 Pot-Limit Hold'em final table, so there was pretty much just the rebuy tournament to rail.

I somehow managed to wiggle my way through a packed rail and had a nice spot watching one of my good friends from Chicago, Gavin Griffin. Gavin and I have been good friends for quite a few years, well before either of us became interested in playing poker seriously. The rail wasn't abnormally large because of his recent win in the Monte Carlo EPT Championship; he's not quite that popular yet. He had a pretty sick table, and most of the rail was there to watch Phil Ivey at work. I railed a lot of tables that week so I didn't recall any of the other players at the table except for Vanessa Selbst, the woman who made the play with 5s2s at the final table of a WSOP Preliminary event ESPN televised last fall. To be completely honest, I like her style but wasn't impressed with her play or table talk during her short stay at that table. She got to the table with what I thought was probably an average stack and immediately started yapping at Ivey, challenging him to a prop bet at the video game Ms. Pac-man. Any smart gambler knows that if someone is so willing to make a bet with you at something you are well-known to be very good at, then it is probably a bad bet for you. The whole table pretty much pointed that out and we all had a good laugh.

It wasn't too long after dinner that Gavin ended up busting Ivey, and the rail got a little easier to move on. After Ivey departed, there were still quite a few tough players. Gavin then became the most recognizable with his pink hair, which he dyed for a charity walk for breast cancer he would participate in later that week with his girlfriend Kristen, a breast cancer survivor. Later in the week, while watching Gavin in the 5k Pot-Limit Hold'em with his girlfriend, we were talking about how it still felt so weird to watch him and hearing other people on the rail talk about him like he is some kind of celebrity. I hung around the Rio until midnight or so before heading back to my hotel to get some rest for tomorrow's 2k NL.

I had a really good start in the 2k NL after a super lucky suck out when my 8 4 of hearts got my 4k starting chip stack up to about 9k. I had a really aggressive image at my first table, and 15 minutes before the break I got a well needed table change. I decided I would use this to my benefit and play real tight for the next 75 minutes until the antes kicked in. While playing tight, I still increased my stack to 15k, but then Chris McCormick beat me in a pot for about 3k when my pocket pair was counterfeited. The very next hand I steamed after Chris with 10 4 of diamonds, and we ended up going all-in for a 26k pot on a flop of Kd-Qd-4h vs. his Q K. I rivered a diamond and completed my flush, finally feeling really good about my chances in a W.S.O.P. event.

That feeling didn't last too long, as I proceeded to misplay a hand that cost me 11k or so. I then proceeded to yo-yo my stack between 8k and 15k before finally busting the last hand of the 200-400/50 level in a somewhat ironic hand. Raising from the cut-off to 1300 with Ah10s, the BB shipped me all-in with 2d3c and I called 5k more. The Flop was Qh-Jh-6x, the turn came the 4h, and the river an offsuit 5. I was pretty pissed I blew my stack but not unhappy with how I busted out; I just didn't feel I played very well after I won the 25k pot.

I managed to hop back on Gavin's rail just in time to see him bust out of the 1k rebuy event in 24th place. We walked off to cash his winnings and spoke about how he had gotten so short after a squeeze-play that went bad when he had J 7 offsuit. The pay out process was quite annoying, and I for one feel quite fortunate I have never had to go through it myself ;). We went to one room and gave his chips to a lady sitting in a desk who congratulated him on finishing 24th and cashing for what turned out to be 3% of his original goal. Then we walked with another guy who took us to a cashier where we didn't have to wait in a normal line. Of course this guy also congratulated him on finishing well short of his goal and asked a million questions about poker that he politely answered, despite being extremely annoyed and just wanting to get the hell out of the poker room.

I ended up back on the rail of the 1k rebuy, sweating a very talented field that included shaniac, Imper1um, pbdrunks, and Mike Gracz. I didn't get to see much from Imper1um, but I was very impressed by the play of pbdrunks on a short stack, shaniac on a mid-stack, and Gracz on a big stack. Pbdrunks was on the short stack for a long time, picking his spots well and stealing the blinds with all-in bets when given the chance. Shane had one of the more difficult stacks to play in tournament poker. He didn't have a short stack where he only had one move option of going all-in, and didn't have a very big stack where he could afford to raise and fire a continuation bet. He stayed very patient, and I felt he picked his spots extremely well.

It was fun hanging on the rail with sheets, quietly discussing thoughts on hands that were taking place. Occasionally we would bounce back and forth between the rebuy and sweating Bax in the 5k stud event. We were having a lot of fun sweating the table with pbdrunks, shaniac, Imper1um, and Gracz, along with an old school PokerStars player by the name of Dolphin.

A very interesting hand occurred with 18 or so left between Dolphin and Imper1um. I believe the blinds were 8k-16k with a 2k ante when it folded to Dolphin on the button. He elected to limp in, the small blind folded, and Imper1um checked his option in the BB. The flop came down 10-8-7 with 2 spades. Imper1um checked, Dolphin bet 20k, and Imper1um called. The turn brought an Ace of hearts, and with roughly 95k in the pot, Imper1um checked the turn. Dolphin then moved all-in for 150k, which seemed to be a pretty large over-bet.

Imper1um had Dolphin covered by roughly 40k and went into the tank for what seemed like 10 minutes, talking himself through the hand. On the rail, Eric and I were going back and forth on what each player had. Dolphin's bet didn't make sense if the Ace improved him, and what the hell could Imper1um have to be thinking so long. We both agreed Dolphin didn't like the Ace and had a hand like J J, Q Q, or maybe 8 8, which would have given him an open-ended straight draw. Putting Imper1um on a hand was much harder, as he was in the BB and this pot was limped in pre-flop. We thought he could have just a 10, or maybe some kind of pair/draw combo like 8-9 or 10-J. We felt he would likely have check-raised the flop with 10-8, but perhaps he froze a bit and just called because of the unusual button limp. Dolphin wasn't necessarily a tricky player, but he was an old guy who rarely would bet his hands and often made rather large all-in over-bets throughout the remainder of the tournament. Imper1um tried to call the clock on himself to force his own decision. Being ignored by the dealer, Shaniac called the clock on him to help out. Finally, Imper1um called with just seconds left to act with 10-5, and Dolphin flipped over K-10 to win the pot. The very next hand was folded to Imper1um in the SB. He made the standard shove with A-10, only to have Pbdrunks wake up with AA in the BB.

The aforementioned hand sparked a lot of discussion, especially after Sorel called, though I understood why he did this. The board was very draw heavy, and it was apparent that Dolphin didn't like the turn and wanted to take the pot right there. That was the read sheets and I had, and Imper1um came up to the same conclusion. He made a good read but unfortunately had the second best hand. That's poker; it happens to all of us.

Shortly after Imper1um busted, Pbdrunks followed when he lost with 6 6 vs. Q J in a battle of the blinds. Fairly quickly they got down to the last 10 players and combined to one table to play until one more player was eliminated. I stayed for the whole time because I really wanted to see shaniac make this final table. It was going to be close; he was in 7th place and pretty short with 10 left. The bubble didn't take too long to burst, and a few hands into the final 10 it folded to the SB, who made a standard raise. Todd Witteles moved all-in, and the SB called with A K suited. Todd had Q Q, and it was unclear who had more chips to start the hand as they were very close. When the Ace hit the river and chips were counted down, the SB had Todd covered by a slim margin and the ESPN TV Final Table was set for the next day. Nice job Shane!