Another WSOP Trip Report
by Andrew Brokos | Published: Aug 05, '12
Sylvain is a friend and occasional student of mine whose praises I’ve sung on these pages before. At my request, he wrote up a trip report from his time in Las Vegas during the WSOP prelims, in which I was staking him. Asshole that I am, I’m just now getting around to posting it. Later this week, I’ll make a separate post with my thoughts on a few of the hands he outlines here, but for now I’ll let his work stand alone:
Sylvain’s WSOP Trip Report
One week since I’ve been back from Vegas and I finally feel like I can write this. I say finally because in all honesty, coming back having “lost” 8k playing what I felt was my best game ever took a little while to get over with. Yes we are poker players and yes we are not supposed to be result oriented but let’s be honest, when we play well and don’t win, we are not happy, question every hand we might have misplayed, hate every flop we missed and feel sick about all the coin flips we lost. Coming back from this trip, I – the educated and savvy amateur player – have more than ever loads of respect for pro poker players. A lot of my friends play poker for a living and do really well at it. However they deal every day with what I dealt with for only one week and I admire them all the more for it. Don’t worry, this entry isn’t going to be the philosophical poker essay it is so far shaping out to be. A lot of people are much better at it than I am and I am actually mostly going to talk about hands I played and look for criticism rather than dwell on the psychological aspect surrounding the life of a poker player.
I arrived in Vegas on Tuesday, June 5th around 10pm and had decided to stay at the Rio for the first three nights. I usually always stay at the Encore when in town but the $80/night the Rio was offering was just too good to pass up. I would stay there until the weekend and then move to the Wynn’s sister hotel for the remainder of my trip. It was actually very convenient since I was flying in rather late and wanted to register right away for my first tournament, the $1500 No Limit Holdem shootout which was taking place the very next day at noon. If there is anything I have learned in my 3 years playing the World Series of Poker is that you need to register for tournaments late at night and avoid “rush hour” if you don’t want to wait in line for hours.
I quickly met up with good friend and UK poker hero James Dempsey for a meal at the Venetian before heading over to the Bellagio to briefly sweat cash game british master LilDave. He was having a rough day and I saw him lose a couple 10k pots and go bust during the 20 minutes I was watching him play NL 50/100/200. This was not going to bring the mood down and morale was still high when I got back to my room around 1am and headed to bed.
Jetlag helping, the next day started very early with a workout and a couple of work related conference calls which all went great helping morale a hell of a lot. I was ready for this, looking forward to sit down at the table and take on the adversity. My table draw for the shootout was just as bad as it could have been. I was sitting in seat 6 of a 10 handed table with 5 old, passive players to my right and 4 young, aggressive, good players to my left. Certainly not ideal and I rather quickly lost half of the 4500 chip starting stack before busting in the second level of the day losing with AA to K9. Sure, I probably could have played a few spots differently but at the end of the day, I got my money in as a 75% favorite and can’t complain about my opponent hitting trip K’s on the river. Losing so quickly was definitely a bit numbing but I got over it rather quickly and went on to register for the $1500 6-max happening the next day. I love 6-max and was feeling good.
The day starting out pretty well. The table was not easy, as it would be expected early on in the series in a 6 max tournament, but also was not impossible to navigate. I promptly established a very aggressive image and was able to work my stack up from 4500 chips to 14k by the 3rd level when poker pro and amazing player Justin Bonomo sits down two seats to my left. At that point, it is me against 5 pros and I admittedly get a bit nervous and decide to nit up and tighten up my game. That plan quickly goes out of the window when I notice that Justin is – as he usually does – trying to run over the table. I decide it is only fair that I give him a bit of resistance and the following few hands happen:
Blinds are 75/150 and Justin opens UTG to 350, btn flats and I decide to 3bet KQo to 950. With 8k behind, Justin asks if I have him covered then shoves after looking at my stack. I fold. this was the first hand vs him and honestly, i know there is certainly an argument for just calling but I really didn’t like the idea of playing KQo with him OOP. So either I take it down pre or fold to his 4bet like I did.
He opens UTG to 350, it folds around to me and I 3bet AQo from the SB to 925. He folds.
At this point, I would say we have a little bit of history, and the btn vs BB battle we got into I think makes a lot of sense. I spoke to the hand to a few friends who really liked it. Justin is by then sitting on 14k and I have the same. It folds around to me on the btn and I open KJo to 300. Justin 3bets to 950. His 3 betting range here is very wide imo. He’s seen me be pretty aggressive even against other players at the table so could really do this with lots of different things. I also have blockers to his value range so decide to 4bet to 2025. Obviously ready to fold if he 5bets. But he just flats. Flop comes J107r and he checks to me. At this point I pretty much decide not to fold and given the flop texture decide for a rather large bet and cbet to 3625. He jams with A10 for middle pair, we hold and double up and bust him in the process.
Other interesting hands from the day:
Poker pro Tim Finne who I had been 3betting a lot from my BB to his btn (he kept folding) limps the btn at 100/200. SB folds and I make it 700 to go with KK, he calls. Flop comes AAQ and we both check. turn is an 8 and I bet 800. He calls. river is a 9. Knowing i’m good here I decide to go for value but think that making it too big will make him fold a queen, especially since he is pretty tight. I make it 1025 into about 3k. He tank calls and sighs and shakes his head when I show my KK.
Mediocre italian pro opens the SB to 300 at 75/150 and I call with QJo in the BB
Flop comes KQ4, we both check.
Turn is a 4 and he checks, I bet 375 and he calls.
River is a K and he checks. I decide to bet 1/3 of the pot and bet 500.
He check/raises to 1450. I think about it for a bit but not being able to come up with a hand he is representing, I call. He shows QJ and we chop.
A Dutch pro sits down to my direct right. He is sitting on 24k and plays very tight for the first few orbits. I 3bet his first open and he folds. A few hands later at 100/200 he opens UTG+1 to 400 and I 3bet him holding JJ to 1100. The action folds back around to him and he makes it 2625. Now I have this seemingly tight player playing back at me and I am starting to not like my Jack’s anymore. I hate folding and don’t think calling is good here since I will hate most flops and have to fold too often. So I decide for what I thought was the best option at the time and min click it back to 5250, planning on folding to a shove. I look forward to some comments here and I know that this looks bad on paper but at the table it really felt like the right thing. He 6bet shoved for 17k more, I tank folded and he showed 98ss. Sigh! Good for him for owning me. wp wp. Fortunately it didn’t tilt me and I headed to dinner with (gratuitous UK online hero’s name dropping) Matt Perrins, Sam Grafton and James Dempsey. To make the whole thing better, I got heads up at credit roulette with Grafton and he lost the flip. This might sound trivial but I literally NEVER win at CCR and I felt great heading back to the Rio, this sudden CCR rungood could only mean things were looking up!
First hand back from dinner break. I’m sitting on a very decent 38k and kind of running over the table, opening a lot of pots and taking them down either pre or by cbetting most flops. I open UTG to 800 at 200/400/50 with A4dd. SB calls, BB calls. flops comes J36dd and the SB leads for 1200 with 6k behind. BB folds and I ship it. He calls with KJ, we hit an ace on the turn but he rivers two pair.
I sit at a new table and Andy Frankenberger (who will two days later in the Series go on to win a bracelet beating Phil Ivey heads up in the 10k plh) opens to 800 at 200/400 in the SB and I call with J9ss
Flop comes 7910r and we both check.
The turn is a Q bringing a diamond flush draw and we both check again.
River is a K of diamond. I decide to bet half pot and Andy check/raises me to 3k.
Andy is pretty aggressive and a really good player. I think he would bet his flush draws on the turn almost 100% of the time. If he has a K and is raising for value, I have him beat, along with all the other one pair hands he might be doing that with (although that’s super thin value) so basically I put him on air and call. He mucks.
The end of the day was pretty frustrating, i’ll spare you the exact details but I called Ashton Griffin’s last 1800 all in at 300/600 from my BB. I had J10 and he had 89. board ran out 234A5 for a chop. Then he chipped up a bit to 8k and I have 22k and he shoved his btn, I called with 88′s in the BB and he showed me JJ. Then old guy was short (4K at 300/600) and I open the button with A8, he shoves, I call, he has 99 and holds.
I shoved my last 12 BB BvB vs Andy who was opening all his SB vs my BB with J9ss, he had AKhh and held. This was obviously very disappointing as I busted about 50 spots from the money and more importantly had A LOT of chips getting back from dinner. That said, I played well in a tough field and that is the only thing that I can ask for.
$600 Venetian Deepstack
I checked out of the Rio the next morning and headed over to the Encore. The plan was to get in my room then go and play the $1k Wynn summer classic but I instead decided on the $600 Venetian Deepstack after the Wynn competition only had two runners 15 minutes before starting. Things did not go well and I busted in the first level, getting it in with QQ on a 1035r flop vs a set of 5. Oh well, I was certainly ready for a day without poker so welcomed this opportunity to relax for the day.
The next day, my table for the $1500 NLHE was looking lovely as is expected when playing a $1500 wsop tournament on a busy Vegas saturday. Only a few interesting hands from this one and I look forward to some thoughts on my bust out hand.
I open A9cc to 400 from UTG at 100/200
Tight kid, nervous looking player calls in the SB with 6k behind, old man calls in the BB.
Flop comes 1035r and the kid leads out 500. Old man folds. I’m pretty sure the kid is on a 10, and while he is not a very good player, i have noticed him to be tight but also aware and capable of realizing when he’s beat. I’m representing a big hand here and I decide to raise to 1250. He flats.
Turn is a 7 and he checks. I bet 2k and he folds. I ask him if he folded a 10 and he nods his head frustratingly. I think this is a good spot for me as his hand is being played face up and his range is capped. He either has a weak top pair or middle pair and both these hands can’t stand much pressure.
I open A4hh to 400 from UTG +2 at 100/200/25 and old guy calls in the BB. I know he’s noticed how active I was and I know he is going to call me light in a few spots. But I also know there is only so much pressure he can take and that will be key for this hand.
The flop comes K57r and he checks. I cbet small to 275 hoping to just take it down right there but he calls. At that moment, I think he could have a straight draw but not that often and I think he is more likely to have a weak K or bottom or middle pair. The turn brings a 7 and while this is a pretty bad card for me based on my read, he winces at the card falling on the board. He was not acting, he was really unhappy about this card. He checks and I check behind planning on a large bet on most rivers. River is a brick and I decide that betting big is the best move here. I don’t want to give him the right price to call with middle pair or a weak K. I go for slightly over ¾ pot and he tank folds. I say “you folded a 5, right?” and he nods yes.
We are now sitting on 9k at 150/300/50 and I open KQo to 600 from the btn. Huge fish calls in the SB and flop comes K105dd. He check/calls a 900 cbet. Turn comes a 2s and I barrell to 2k leaving myself about a pot size bet behind. He calls.
River comes a 6 of diamond and he checks again. Now I know there is certainly an argument for checking behind here as he is rarely calling with worse than our hand but I decide to shove the river for slightly less than the pot and he snap calls with J9dd for a flush and we’re out. Curious to hear thoughts on this…
Nothing much to report from the $1k donkament I played the next day. I chipped up nicely to 9k from a 3k starting stack but then went down to 2200 getting it in with J10 vs QJ on a AJJ board. Promptly busted after that and moved my flight up a couple days to get out of Vegas and get back to New York. Vegas had gotten to me and I was ready to leave. Overall I think I probably played my best poker ever and have to be pleased with that. Until next time Vegas, until next time…