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And So It Begins: The WSOP

by Roy Winston |  Published: May 28, '09


I am not sure what it is about walking into the Rio for the World Series, but it really is a special feeling. Perhaps it’s the coming together of so many people, from every walk of life, from all over the globe, for the simple purpose of playing poker. There are several improvements over last year, with the large Brasilia room being used for satellites, and a larger registration area.

As I walked through the monstrous Amazon room with the casino employee event in progress it was alive. I spent a little time socializing with friends I haven’t seen in a while, and with the familiar faces of the Tournament staff. I am still amazed at the infrastructure that is put in place and the logistical nightmare that must accompany such a grand event.

I walked through the satellite room, to take a look and say hello. The next thing I know Gloria, who is one of the Rio’s tournament staff and runs the satellite room says “Roy I have only a couple of seats open in a $1,000 single table satellite,” it was an easy sell. It was actually a tough line up for a WSOP satellite. One of the great things about the WSOP is that the field isn’t the regular group of grinders that you see everywhere. The group in much more diverse with a wider range of skill sets, which is the nicest way of me saying that some of the play is really pretty bad. This satellite had several strong players including Will “The Thrill”, Doug Lee, and several others I know to be solid. You start with 5k in chips and with 20 minute levels, it is a decent structure. I play these fairly tight and wait for good opportunities to put my money in ahead. I won the draw for the button, which always feels good but didn’t play a hand until my second big blind. There was an early position raiser to 200, with the blinds at the starting level of 25-50, the cut-off called and I looked down at 5Club Suit5Spade Suit and called. The flop was 2Club Suit 5Diamond Suit 8Club Suit, and I checked, hoping for someone to bet and unfortunately it was checked around. The turn brought a second 8Heart Suit and I bet 500 into a 625 pot. The initial raiser folds but the cut-off raises 800 and I “reluctantly” call. The river is a king and I bet 1,200 and he folds. I was hoping to get some value on the river, and I thought he had enough to call me, but perhaps I should have checked and let him bluff at it. It’s always easy to replay a hand more successfully after it is over.

Anyway, the next time around a player in mid position who had been playing pretty aggressively raised to 300 with the blinds 50-100. I re-raised with AK off-suit to 900 and he called. The flop came ADiamond Suit JSpade Suit 8Diamond Suit. I bet 1,500 and he quickly moved all in. I had about 4,200 behind and felt he was on a draw, and I called. He shows 9Diamond Suit 10Diamond Suit and has a billion outs. I think to myself, okay I’m a slight dog here but, maybe my hand will hold and this will be a sign of good things to come. Somehow, the board bricks and I double up. The table is playing super aggressively, and I’m just the opposite, yeah I’m stealing here and there as the table gets shorter, but I’m still playing very few hands by comparison. I like the situation where my opponents are playing aggressively and I can pick and choose my spots. The chip leader when we get down to 4 handed is this good young player from Colorado, Napoleon. Up to this point I was all in one time and I think Napoleon was all in at least 20 times. We get to heads up with him having an 80:20 chip advantage against me. I grind up to 30% and with the blinds 400-800 he makes it 2k from the button and after looking down at A9 suited I move in. He insta-calls me and turns over A4. The board comes AK5 J 10 for a chop, I want to scream, but just smile. At least no 4 came, but with a 62-23% advantage, 15% for a tie, I would have liked a double up. The next hand I have AQ o the button and raise to 2k, and he moves all in and I call. This time he has A7 and I hold, flopping a queen. Now I have 60% of the chips and after a brief discussion we decide to chop. There was still some play left with the blinds going to 500-1000, there are 50 BB’s on the table and I had a decent advantage, but one unlucky hand or cooler situation and it would become tough. In general I don’t like to chop, but I was tired and late to meet Layne Flack for dinner, and with 60% of the 10k coming my way, it was a good first 2 hours at the WSOP.

The reason I don’t like to chop is that I figure that most of the time I have a skill advantage (at least most of the time) and over time I will be ahead by not chopping. The best chop story I know took place several years ago at a final table when they got to four handed with 4 marquee players, someone brought up a chop, and Layne Flack, who was the short stack at the time replied “how about we make it winner take all?” His suggestion was not taken and yes, you guessed it, Layne came back to win. When in a situation where a chop is being considered you need to look at a couple of things to make an informed decision. Here are the questions that come to my mind. First of all what’s the deal? If at all possible I like them to suggest it and that gives you a starting point for negotiation. Second, is there real play left or is it just luck? I played in a free roll event at the Wynn where at the final table with 7 players left the chip average left you 4 big blinds, clearly just a luck fest. Lastly, and here you have to be honest, how does your skill level compare to that of your opponent(s)?

Roy Winston finished 16th in 2007 Card Player, Player of the Year race. He won the WPT Borgata Poker Open and finished the year with well over $2 million in tournament poker winnings. Roy plays online exclusively at Full Tilt. For more information on Roy Winston, you can visit his website: or send an email to: with your questions or comments. The contents presented herein on this blog are purely the opinions of Roy Winston, and are not intended to reflect or promote the opinions of any other person, group, or entity. If you like what I write than thanks for reading, and if not well, thanks anyway.

Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the ownership or management of
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