First things first: huge props to Matt Smith and to Paco “Pfabe” Fabian for their cashes. SamE is just a mega-talent and PFabe is the small stack master, even though he soiled himself on the giant “Leap of Faith” waterslide. Also enjoyed meeting and/or seeing many P5ers like Bax, leggggy, Ho, Haligon, Foshio, SoBeJim, etc. Great trip, and I think Stars did a nice job. I gave away most of the stuff, but that was a generous swag bag, and they are friendly and helpful. The only downside is that while the Atlantis is a very cool property, the rooms are disappointing and the service is standard Bahamian, which means crappy. You can die of thirst waiting for a drink down there.
None of that mattered much to me — I came to play. My goal was to BE MYSELF and play my game. The one thing I did not want to do was play less creatively or aggressively that I would in a normal online MTT. I would grade myself a B- or worse in terms of achieving my goal. Here’s a summary of my tourney, good with the bad:
Day One: I had a strange starting table including a TOTAL novice to my immediate left (who could have had 100k if he knew how to play — the deck hit him in the forehead) and a few solid pros across the way. The biggest name I saw before dinner was Marco Traniello, who had a massive stack all day. I didn’t mix it up with him much. I caught great cards during the first level, which is fine but the last thing you want is for Level One to be your best level in the whole tourney, which is exactly what happened. My only AA was during Level 1 as were my two best flops (flopped a flush with 45s and flopped top 2 on a steal) of the whole MTT. So I was the very early chip leader and settled in at around 14-15k when I hit a LONG dry spell.
I drifted downward for a while and nothing major went down until the following hand, which I will call Wuss Hand 1 (“WH1”). A very odd non-pro who had pushed twice on bluffs/draws earlier (he showed them) raised it to 3x from two off the button and I had AsKc in the cutoff. I debated several different raises and then I decided to smooth call. My thinking was that if I hit, I might be able to get all of his chips if he tries another semi-bluff, but I still hate calling because this brought in the BB who was a very creative and aggressive pro (dunno his name). There are many reasons to re-raise there and one of them is to shut that guy out of the hand; more important, both opponents would probably have folded. The flop was like 3-5-8 with two spades, they checked to me and I made a solid bet. BB called and the other guy folded. Turn was a jack and I checked behind the guy. River was another raggy spade, BB bet like 3k and I folded. What a rancid way to play the hand.
I was fortunate to double through the same pro late in the day with QQ, so I was up in the high teens when they moved Joe Hachem to our table. He seemed to be playing a tight, solid game so I credited him with a real hand when he raised to 1200 from UTG. I had QQ in the SB and smooth called. I think the call is correct there. BB folded and the flop came J-8-x. I decided to lead out and see what happens, and Hachem folded instantly. I don’t think he would have bet that flop based on what I had seen before, but I still should have tried for the check raise there. So I call this Wuss Hand 2, though it’s not nearly as bad as WH1. I finished Day One with a respectable 18,800 and staggered off to the bar. Jennifer Harman was there and I told her how well Marco had done but that I thought he made a pretty major mistake on the following hand:
Preflop, the aggressive guy (“AG”) who doubled me up raised and Marco flat called. Both blinds called. Flop comes 10-10-4 with 2 diamonds. AG bets, Marco calls, SB goes all in for maybe 2x the bet and AG and Marco call. Turn is a black 8. AG checks and Marco goes all in. AG insta-calls and shows 88 for a turned boat. Marco shows JJ. Now Marco had like 80k and AG only had maybe 25k left when Marco pushed, but I just don’t get it. It’s pretty likely the SB has a ten since he had ZERO fold equity on his check raise, and there’s no side pot. I don’t get it at all. Other than that hand, I liked Marco’s play. Jennifer didn’t seem to mind that he wasted 25k in chips as she was pretty much mauling the guy at the bar for the next 45 minutes. I guess she likes being married to him or something. But I digress….
Day Two: I drew a good table but a very high number (31) so I knew it would break early. Dewey Tomko was all the way across — third time I have played him in one of these. The rest of the lineup was unknown and the small stacks went wild, pushing their A10s and 55s. I didn’t get a chance to pick one off and was soon moved to Table 5 in the far corner. This table had a lot of big stacks and I knew it would be tough sledding. I was still around 17k when I sat down.
I got nothing for 40 minutes or so. Finally a small stack pushes UTG for 5100 and the other small stack calls all in for 5k. The caller had been bitching non-stop about getting rags and I knew he was itching to get in. I look down and see AdKd and I push in. UTG had A10 and the caller had QJ, but he hit his jack and I was down to 11k or so. BTW the guy then hit a 2 outer 99 vs AA, and had like 70k maybe 30 minutes after being all in with QJ. Happy for ya.
So now I am the shortie. Daniel Schiff (I think is his name) had a ton of chips. He raised from EP but he folded when I pushed with 1010 and I am back up to maybe 14k. I fold the next several and when the BB gets back I have 12k or so. Schiff raises to 1800 and John Esposito (I think is his name) flat calls. Here comes Wuss Hand 3. I decided to fold KJo. OBV flop comes JJA and obv Esposito shows QJs when he takes the pot. I will now light myself on fire. I will now spray Raid into my pupils while still on fire.
So now I am back to near desperation as the blinds are up to 400-800 with 100 antes. Fold to me in MP and I raise to 2500 with 99. Schiff asks what I have left, I show him the 9400 and he calls in the BB. Flop is 553 and I do not like the way he checks. I can feel it coming but what can you do but push here? As expected, he instacalls and shows KK. No miracle comes and I am out around 200th or something.
Net net: I think I blew a few decent chances, but the cards also failed to cooperate for me and left me with a small opportunity set, to say the least. Still a great event and I definitely want to get back. Congrats to the P5ers that cashed.