This is one event summary you probably don't want to miss. I got to my table on Day 1D and noticed only one player (Bradley Berman, son of famed Lyle Berman). The cards went in the air and this is what happened:
Level One $50/$100
I flopped a set of 7's early but go no action in a 4-way flop. I identified the guy to my direct right, random Asian, as a relatively weak player. I was able to make a move on him with 2-2 on a 4-overcard board when I raised his bet on the turn and he thought for awhile before mucking. I won one other relatively nice pot when I saw a flop with Qd-Jd and it came with two diamonds. I called a 3/4 pot bet and the turn was a third diamond. These were virtually the only hands of any consequence during the first level. I was able to identify the good players (only two: young internet kid from New Jersey and Brad Berman) and the bad players (several...).
End of Level One $26,975
Level Two $100/$200
This was one of those levels that everybody dreams about. Early in the level, I raised to $600 with K-K and the button and BB both called. The flop came A-K-Q rainbow. I loved it but needed to proceed with caution as several different turn cards could be dangerous. My intention was to keep the pot relatively small here. The BB checked, I checked, and the button led for $2,500. The BB quickly called and I thought to myself....so much for keeping the pot small. I really smelled J-10 amongst one of them but I decided to just call in the fainted hope that I could keep this pot from getting out of hand. The turn was an offsuit 7 and the BB checked, I checked, and the button shoved all-in for $13,000. The BB quickly folded and I was put to a decision for about 60% of my chips. I would have had around $11,000 if I folded so I would have had plenty if he had J-10. I really thought he had J-10 but I wanted to get my hands on some chips so I called. He had A-K....weeeeeeeeee. River bricked and I now had $48,000 real early in level 2.
I really started to turn up the aggression and a few hands later I raised with 9-9 from early position. I got two callers and the flop came Qs-9s-4s. The BB checked, I led for around $1,300 and the guy to my direct left min-raised to $2,600. I had both of these guys well covered so I was not going anywhere in this hand. The action got back to the BB and he tanked for like five minutes. It was pretty apparent that he had the Ace of Spades and was trying to decide whether to shove. I really didn't care....I was going nowhere. He finally mucked and I 4-bet all-in. The guy to my left looked pained and said "Do you already have a flush?" before putting the rest of his chips in the middle. He turned over Kc-Ks and was drawing to 12 outs. The turn was the butt-ugly 4 of spades making his flush. The river, on the other hand, was the beautiful 9 of clubs for QUAD NINES!!! Live poker is so rigged. This pot put me at about $65,000 and I was rolling.
I played one more hand of consequence when I raised from the cutoff with K-J and the SB (he will be referred to as Uber-Donk from now on) min-raised me. I obviously called and the flop came J-9-4. He checked, I bet, he min-raised again, and I obviously called. (What is with the min raises? This hand is exactly why you don't do that). The turn was another Jack making the board J-9-4-J. He checked, I bet $4,000, and he called. The river was a brick and he checked, I bet $5,500, and he called and showed A-A. Well played, sir.
End of Level Two $73,075
Level Three $150/$300
After being amongst the chip leaders at the break, I promptly came back and lost $20,000 in the first 20 minutes. Uber-donk had, on several occasions, over-shoved the pot with ridiculous bets. I ended up paying him off with A-2 on an Ace-high board when he had A-J on one occasion. I didn't mind it because I figured he was good for giving the chips back at a future time (wink). Later in the level, he made a ridiculous over-bet all-in on a King-high board with K-Q and got called by A-A. Turn-brick, River.....Queen. Uber-Donk saved by the river. Anyways, I got down to around $52,000 before fighting back and getting it all back and more. I called a raise in position with 3-3 and saw a 3-way flop of 10h-3d-2d. Uber-Donk led at the pot for $1,600, good internet guy re-raised to $4,500, and I 4-bet to $11,500. Uber-Donk folded and good internet guy tanked....and tanked....and tanked. It was pretty obvious he had A-A or K-K and he eventually got the clock called on him. The floor supervisor counted him down and his hand eventually got mucked. He later told me he had K-K. Good laydown by him and some missed chips for me.
End of Level Three (Dinner Break) $75,175
Level Four $150/$300/$25 ante
I played a LOT of hands at this level as I attempted to run the table over during the first round of antes. I won some, lost some, but didn't really play any big pots and ended the level unscathed.
End of Level Four $87,000
Level Five (Last level) $200/$400/$50 ante
I was probably in the top 25 of chip counts at this break and had begun to cautiously talk to my wife about Day 2 plans. To my credit, I prefaced most of the discussion with the fact that nothing is for sure and you never know what might happen (Call me Nostradamus). I really planned on abusing the end-of-the-day bubble as several of the players openly talked about wanting to make it to Day 2. No one else had more than $50,000 at the table so the plan should have worked fairly well. Specifically, I talked to her about Uber-donk over-shoving pots and I thought that if I could ever make a hand against him, I could trap him and bust him. "The best laid plans of mice and men...."
I was late getting back to the table and missed one hand. The second hand I got dealt 8-8 and limped into a 4-way pot. The flop came with overs and I had to fold. On the third hand, an older gentleman limped UTG and I looked down at 8-8 again. I should have raised but I just called and we saw a 3-way flop of 9-7-4 rainbow. UTG led at the pot for $2,000 and I just could not envision a hand that he would limp with that contained a 9. I thought maybe he had some kind of up-and-down straight draw and decided to put him to the test for his tourney life. I raised to $7,500 which basically meant I wasn't folding. He didn't think long before shoving his remaining $19,000 and I had to call more $12,000 more into a $32K+ pot. Lol....really, what hand am I beating that he's 4-bet shoving here but I called none the less and he showed me A-9. Sigh...brick, brick, and I was down to approx. $65,000. On the fourth hand, I raise it up with 7-7 and the same guy calls from the BB. The flop comes As-Qs-Js (I don't have a spade), he leads at the pot and I have to fold. On the fifth hand, I raise with Ad-Kh from EP and the SAME GUY re-raises me from the SB. I decide to call in position and the flop comes 10h-8h-4h. He leads at the pot for $6,000, I figure he can't call a raise without a heart so I raise to $18,000, and he thinks for a bit before shoving all-in. When all the dust had settled, it was $13K more for me to call a pot of $53K. I was worried that he had the Ace of Hearts and I was drawing almost dead but really couldn't fold at that point. I made the crying call but was happy to see he had two black Kings. Geez....he put it all in there with no heart and no set. I was drawing to 12 outs twice for a $66,000 pot but it was not to be....two bricks and my head was reeling after just five hands. What the hell was going on here? This guy was pwning my soul and there wasn't much I could do to stop the bleeding.
On the sixth hand (Folks...I'm not skipping hands here, these are all consecutive), I got dealt Ac-Kc in the BB. It folded around to the SAME FUCKING GUY who open-raised from the button. Lol....I 3-bet from the BB and was going to jam that Big Slick up his ass if he would have shoved. He folded though and the bleeding was temporarily stopped.
In the course of six hands, I had managed to lose $52,000 and was down to $35,000. Hmmmm...my plan was going just great. I was able to sit out hands seven and eight before getting dealt A-J in the cutoff on Hand nine. I raised to $1,200 and Uber-Donk called from the SB. The flop came K-K-Q. The table was set....I wanted to play a pot with the Uber-Donk, in position, and if I could somehow make a hand, I knew he would blow-up. The flop went check-check and the turn was an offsuit eight. He led for $3,000 and I really thought my A-high might be good here. He had made a couple of ridiculous bluffs earlier and had been caught and I just thought he was reckless. I called and the river was a.......10. I made Broadway on the river and guess what....Uber-Donk over-shoves the pot for $27,000. Just like I had planned....Just like I wanted him to do....Just like I had said he would and I had finally made a hand. I didn't think too long before calling. Anyone else and there would have probably been a tough decision. But...when you make a gameplan and everything falls into place, it's really hard to find a way to talk yourself out of following through. Uber-Donk showed K-Q for the flopped full house. I just chuckled. I played it just the way I wanted to play it and he woke up with a hand. Oh well.....
I was crippled down to $3,000 and held on for about 20 more minutes. The last hand had me all-in with A-Q against 3 other players. The flop came 6-4-3 and a guy with 8-8 led out getting rid of the other two players. If I would have hit an ace or queen, I would have had around $16,000 which would have put me right back in the game. But it wasn't meant to be....I busted around 0015 hrs.
Words cannot begin to describe what I've been feeling since I busted out. Like any other passion in someone's life, when you give so much of your heart and soul into something and are met with despair, it's difficult. For 11 hours, I had played exactly the way I wanted to play. In the course of nine hands, it all dissappeared. Now don't get me wrong...as I was walking out of the RIO, I told my wife that if this is the worst thing that happens in my life, I probably live a pretty good life. But there is more to it than just busting out of a poker tournament.
For many of the young players I've met in my poker travels, their commitment level is pretty much focused on themselves. They don't have the responsibilites of a job, a wife, kids, etc. When I am playing in a poker tournament like the WSOP Main Event, I feel like I have the weight of my friends, family, kids, etc. on my shoulders. When you plunk down $10,000 to play in a poker tournament and you've got 3 kids that will be going to college, it just plain hurts. When you've got lots of friends monitoring your activity from their computers at home, it just plain hurts. But the thing that rips at the fabric of my soul is the dissappointment in my wife's eyes when she sees me bust. Here's a woman that puts up with my second career that draws both time and money away from the family. I've tried for five years now to get to a level that will prove that I can be in the upper echelon of the poker community. I know I'm probably fooling myself since I've got a full-time job, kids, youth sports, etc....but god damnit, I believe. I fucking know I can go deep and win one of these tournaments. I just fucking know it. I know I can do it in spite of all of the obstacles present that would seem to preclude someone like me from doing it. I don't give a shit if everyone else thinks it's a pipedream. This main event may, in time, strengthen my resolve to play more big buy-in tournament poker.
In short, I am both dissapointed and embarrased at my performance last night. The bottom line was that I didn't need to play big pots and I chose to do so. Yes, if I hit one of those 12 outs I've got $110,000 and the whole night goes in a different direction. But they didn't hit...and I must live with the consequences. I was not the victim of bad luck. I was the victim of my own shortcomings and for that I must live with it. It will make me a better person and a better poker player in time. For now, I'm hollow. I have a pit in my stomach that won't go away. I let one get away, folks, and for that I will never forget the 2008 WSOP Main Event.
Thanks for reading,
Pokernews.com capturing my late-night despair
That Must Hurt
We recently sent a field reporter by Eric Sonstegard's table to get a chip count. He has about 5,000, well below his high-water mark of about 90,000 earlier this level.
"Nope," said Sonstegard. "I didn't move. I'm the same guy who had ninety thousand."
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