From Reading Harrington to Playing Him in the WSOP Main
by Katie Dozier | Published: Aug 01, '12
To say I had the best time I’ve ever had playing poker this summer would be an understatement! At the encouragement of fellow Grindette Jamie Kerstetter, I took on a pretty full schedule, and am very glad I did.
After taking 3rd in a $600 Venetian Deep Stack, and 27th in a WSOP $1k prelim, I was already up for the summer, but feeling super energized for my last tournament in the series: The one, the only, the Main Event.
When I practically skipped to my first table in the tan section, I was surprised to see that my table had been selected for one of the side features.
The reason for this selection soon became obvious:
Early on, Harrington was introduced to the crowd (as our many of the past champions of the event). As he was being introduced to the Amazon room, it was folded to him in mid-position, he raised and the others folded. He flipped over pocket Aces and I was pretty glad that I had decided against making a light open in the hand.
On the first break, I took a second to thank him for writing the books that initially got me into playing poker. I can still remember reading Volume 1 on my pink twin bed in my sorority house at FSU, even once skipping a class because I couldn’t put it down.
The book has incurred a few battle scars:
Back at the table, I was experiencing the poker trifecta: playing well, running well, and having a blast. Our table was a mix of a couple pros, as well as wide-eyed amateurs that enhanced my love of the game with their newfound passion for poker. I won hands versus Harrington, including one where I flopped top set on J2s3s, and he check-raised my c-bet. On the last hand before dinner break, I picked off a medium bluff by Cardrunners coach HITTHEPANDA.
On day two, I had a laggy image when I picked up Aces. With blinds of 500/1,000 and a 100 ante, PokerStars pro, Richard Toth opened to 2,000 in middle position. I 3-bet to 4,700 in the lojack. Toth called and the flop came Qs8c7s. Toth checked, I c-bet 7k, and he very quickly check raised to 19k. We’d started the hand with just a bit over 100k.
At this point, I think I tanked for the longest time in my poker career, probably almost 4 minutes. Toth also had a laggy image, though he hadn’t been at the table for very long. I thought his range was heavily weighted towards draws, partially due to the quick check-raise. Of course, I knew sets were part of his range, as well as possibly 87. But, I thought he would have paused a bit more before check-raising with a hand as strong as a set. Had we been any deeper, I would have just called (which, after spending a lot of time thinking further about the hand, I think I would have preferred even at this stack depth), but I opted to 3-bet and get it in to his 4-bet. He showed 87h, and I had just over 25% equity.
Luckily, I binked a queen on the turn, and was so stunned after winning the hand that I couldn’t move. After my stack was counted, and it was determined that I had Toth covered, I got up from the table for a few seconds to regroup. Gavin Smith, who had just joined the table asked, “Have you ever had a lot of chips in the main before?” “No,” I replied. “It’s the worst feeling in the world,” he partially joked.
Perhaps I’d used up my one time in that hand, because I ran pretty bad to start day 3. In fact, I got down to about 8 big blinds, then won a flip, and the rest of the day was a real grind. I was moved to the secondary feature with Shaun Deeb, Erick Lindgren, Rob Perelman, and eventually Andrew Lichtenberger. It was a very tough table, but a fun one too, as we joked about Family Feud and how people only say “good answer” on that show when the answer actually is awful.
On day 4, I was somewhat short but we were very close to the money. I witnessed a short stack in the small blind shove and literally beg the player in the big blind to fold. We’ll never know what either player held, but it was certainly an interesting tactic.
After the bubble burst, I was moved to a table with Sam Holden and later Terrence Chan. Sallie Avino made a comment implying that she open-folded AK in early position after the bubble burst, which I thought may have been a level. She went out on what I thought was an excellent squeeze with AQs, and happened to run into Holden’s AA. The other guy in the hand claimed he folded to her 3-bet with QQ.
After she busted, the QQ guy started to claim that she’d played it poorly. Here, I broke one of my own rules and did something I can’t recall ever having done before: I defended her play in earnest (at least having the sense to not get into the technical aspects of why I liked it), and Holden and Chan voiced their agreement which silenced the hater. Now, I’d be willing to bet that her “I open-folded AK” was a sick level!
A couple orbits later, I picked up Aces, 3-bet, and was 4-bet all in by pocket Tens. Just as the turn was set to come out, someone piped up “I folded a Ten.” The case ten fell on the turn, and I was out in 451st place for just under $25k. I would have expected to feel like I was going to throw up, but instead, all I felt in that moment was happiness.
I’d gotten lucky to still be in after the infamous AA hand in day two, and there was no way for me to find fault in how I’d played the rockets this time (though when the woman at the cashout desk remarked, “Oh, you just missed a big pay jump!” it did sting a bit).
The support of so many people, including those kind enough to root for my success without even having met me, was a big part of what kept me so energized even while playing a packed schedule. Thanks very much to everyone that took a moment to cheer me on, and feel happy for me. And that girl from a few years ago, the one that skipped class to read Harrington on Hold ‘em, is happy about how the summer went too.