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With 258 entries on day 1, the Card Player Poker Tour Venetian DeepStack Showdown $3,500 main event has already surpassed last year’s field size, and registration remains open throughout the night and even into Saturday. ...


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Bellagio Doyle Brunson 5 Diamond WPT 2011

by Tony Dunst |  Published: Dec 14, '11

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Authors note: I haven't been blogging very much lately, but that's not to say I haven't been writing. I've devoted a couple available weeks to the book thus far, and have amassed about 15,000 low quality words in that time. I imagine I'll need around 100, then have to heavily edit it down from there. It's a very enjoyable process for me; I wake up, get some exercise, then distribute the rest of my day between reading, writing, or playing a little poker however I like. Plus football of course, as it is the first time I've had the chance to really follow it every Sunday in about seven years, the sole positive consequence of Black Friday. I have the rest of my recent tournaments recorded and anticipate writing them at some point, but I see no harm in breaking the chronological order of tournament reporting and since this was my first deep run in a long time it seemed best to write it while still fresh. On top of that it was just the kind of experience that's fun to write, as I had to square off with a number of the games top talent and was fortunate not to have anything horrible happen for an entire tournament. It's also worth pointing out that this thing is really fucking long.

The Doyle Brunson Five Diamond series at the Bellagio is the last tournament for the fall half of the WPT season. I had yet to cash an event since my employment by the company, and if nothing happened at this one I would have to wait until mid February to get the opportunity again. I played two preliminary events in the form of $1,100 re-entry tournaments and failed to cash both, one as a result of getting sneaky on the bubble and flatting aces pre then being out-flopped.

The main event began on Tuesday the sixth, and I was very happy to find almost nobody I knew when I arrived at the table. The Bellagio $10k events have often attracted some of the most difficult fields in live poker, and beyond my online commentary co-host Johnathan Little on my immediate right I didn't know anyone else on the table and there were at least three or four players that looked blatantly recreational. One seat remained open to the right of John, and unfortunately about an hour into play it was filled by the talented young David Baker. Still, I had by far the best seat in the house. We began with 40,000 in chips and the blinds at 50-100.

My first difficult situation came against an unknown young player a couple seats on my left. He had been playing a pretty thoughtful TAG game thus far and was seemingly on the tighter side, but that was possibly just a result of being card dead. It folded around to me one off the hi-jack and I made it 300 with Jh7h. The young player called on the cut-off and we went to the flop heads up. The flop came Js 7c 5c and I fired 400 into the pot. He raised to 1,025 and though I considered three-betting I decided that since he hadn't been that active yet and we were super deep on a soft table I'd go lower variance and just call. The turn was the awkward Kc and when I checked he bet 1,600 and I called. The river was an irrelevant 2h and when I checked again he bet 3,025. I really felt like he had sized it for value and made what felt like something of a nity fold, as he can definitely be taking that line with things like 86s and 98s. Later, I watched him run a fairly sick multi-street bluff in a similar situation on a less experienced player and felt a results-oriented twinge that I may have made a bad fold.

The player he had bluffed was sitting in seat four, and was a man of perhaps 35 to 40 who I did not believe to be a professional. He seemed too loose and made some bets that were counterproductive to his desired result. He also limped quite a bit. At 100-200 he limped under-the-gun and it folded to me on the hi-jack with AsQs and effective stacks of about 35,000. I raised to 800 and after it folded back to the limper he called. The flop came 8s5h8d and he check-called a bet of 1,000 from me. Considering the texture and the way he played his hand, I was pretty confident he had some kind of limped mid pair. I guess he could have something like AT or AJ that he meekly limped, but he seemed more likely to raise AJ pre from the way he was playing and just limp his mid strength stuff instead. I went forward with my read and when the turn came Ts and he checked I had a decision to make. I could bet with the intention of barreling down on many run-outs, but from the way he'd been playing and the fact that I'd been one of the more active players on the table I thought if the board bricked out he may very well call down with things like 44-99. I decided to check and go big if I hit or found an opportune bluff card. The river brought the Td and after a little thought he now led 2,300. I considered his bet a while, and given I felt that much of his range was those mid pair hands and many of them were just invalidated he may bet as a bluff out of desperation. It was extremely hard for him to have a ten, though something like 87s or 89s was quite possible. I also really didn't think he was talented enough to thin value bet nines. I shrugged and called, then lost the pot when he showed me 55. "That ten on the river killed my value" he said as he stacked up the chips. "No, it got you value" Bakes said correctly.

Soon after and at the same level, I made a nity fold against Bakes in a multi-way pot when I flopped top pair in position and he fired a second barrel on a dry board. It was spot I should have averted by three-betting to begin with, and I knew it as soon as I dropped my chips in the pot pre-flop and called the original raise. That said, I think against talented players that will hand read well and fire multiple barrels in spots where your hand is a bit transparent, you have to make your decision on the turn so you don't find yourself forced into bloated pot river situations where you'll make larger mistakes against someone that's balanced.

The blinds were 90 minute levels for the tournament, and the first two were a pattern of descent in my bigger pots and accumulation in my smaller ones. I hit some hands and got to take advantage of a few situations where things were checked to me in multi-way pots because I so often had position. It wasn't until the third level with the blinds at 100-200 with a 25 ante that I played my first major pot. The opponent was an older and clearly recreational player in seat five who had been very loose thus far. After two folds he made it 600. Next to act folded, and Bakes called behind. John folded and with the KcKd on the cut-off I made it 2,200. I think my sizing might be a bit transparent to Bakes there--which is always problematic--but the real goal of the hand is to keep the fish in to bleed him over multiple streets. When it folded back to the opener he called, and Bakes looked over at me suspiciously then folded. The flop came Qh5h2s and when he checked I bet 3,000 and got a fairly quick call. The turn was a gorgeous 2c and when he checked I bet 7,000. This time he thought it over for a while and gave me a little stare down before placing the chips in the pot with slight reluctance. The river was a perfect 4s, and when he checked I glanced at my chips and realized I had about 23,000 left. I could shove, but I feel that against random and more recreational players in live tournaments they perceive a shove as very strong and a smaller bet pretty much always gets called in this spot unless he simply bricked a flush draw. I opted to bet 12,500 and after some deliberation and staring he made the call, then resigned his hand to the muck after I exposed mine.

My stack climbed to the area of 60,000 and my image gained some credibility towards having it, which I used during an attempt at my first larger bluff of the day. It was against the same player that I lost against when calling down with ace-queen high, and again he started things off by open-limping, this time in middle position. There was a fold, then Bakes raised to 1,000 and John called. I called with 4h4d on the button and when it folded to the limper he called as well. The flop came Qh6h2c and when everyone checked to me I bet 2,400. The limper though it over a while and didn't seem that certain of his actions, then elected to call. Both of the pros in the hand folded. The turn was a 9c and I checked behind when he checked. The river was the 5h and when he checked I decided that since he seems to be representing a mid-pair again and I can very easily have played a flush draw like this I may as well bet. I fired 7,000 and after a little thought he made it 17,000. It seems I had encountered a slow-player. I folded without much hesitation and was back to the 50,000 area. It would be where I remained for the final two levels of the night, as I swung very little in either direction and seemed to simply exchange winning and losing a series of small to medium pots. When we bagged up at the end of the night I finished with slightly more than I started with at 47,450.

My routine around the tournament in Las Vegas is always the same. As soon as we finish playing I go straight to the buffet they provide and stuff myself because I'm starving by 8:30, though I do like finishing early. Then I go home and hang out at the house, which is actually occupied for once. Chewy and Aaron came down from Toronto where they've spent time playing online, and Peter Jetten is staying in Dan's room. All four of us played, and only Aaron was unfortunate enough not to last through the day. I was waking up early enough to get to the gym before play, which I feel is very beneficial when there's enough time. However, after the first evening of play there was the opening party in a hotel suite in the Bellagio, so after pigging out at the buffet I dropped in for a beer. I'm usually pretty drained after a day of play, and not interested in any higher energy social situations, so once I finished my drink I quietly slipped out and went home so I could get to bed early. It's only after I bust that I come back to life.

The next morning I found a paradoxical situation waiting for me at the table; there were seven unfamiliar faces all around me but a lone familiar one in the form of Vanessa Selbst seated on my immediate left with a mountain of chips. As anyone that's ever played with her before knows, she's relentlessly aggressive and extremely capable, and having one of the best two-year runs in tournament history right now. She had around triple my stack of 44,000 when I first got involved with her early on in play. It folded to a German player of about 30 on my immediate right who with 60,000 made it 1,525 at 300-600 75. With AQo on the button behind him I made the call. Vanessa was in the small blind and raised it up to 5,100, leading to a fold from the big-blind and the German player. I called and the dealer spread out a beautiful A67 rainbow flop. Vanessa bet 4,200 and I decided that the texture looks like a situation where I would almost never raise my strongest hands instead of letting her barrel, and very much looks like a texture I may tiny bluff raise in a foolish attempt to represent an ace against a player that has a reputation for intense pre-flop aggression. As it happened, I had near the top of my range, and made the raise to 9,200 in hopes that she may attempt to bluff me out or simply commit stacks with top pair herself. Vanessa considered both me and my wager for a moment, then looked at the dealer and said "All in". I called immediately and she said "Oh no, do you have a set?" Then she saw my hand and said "Oh, or that. Nice hand." then tabled A9 offsuit. The dealer whipped off a mostly harmless 6 on the turn, then a perfect 2 on the river and I was awarded a pot containing about 90,000.

But the consequences of having a player like that on your left can only be avoided for so long. At the same level, a player on the hi-jack with about 35,000 made it 1,300 and holding 77 in the small-blind I made the call. It's very possible I should just be three-betting here with Vanessa in the big-blind and a constant threat to three-bet herself when I just call instead, forcing me to play an awkward and bloated pot out of position. This time, she just called and we were dealt a flop of 246 rainbow. When I checked Vanessa led out for 2,800 and after the hi-jack folded I called. The turn paired the 2 and we both checked. It's a great spot for her to be donking the flop as a bluff or semi-bluff, and she's smart enough to realize once I call the flop I likely have showdown value and won't fold the deuce. The river was a king and when I checked Vanessa bet 7,800. It was an annoying spot considering I was pretty confident Vanessa knew what I had and knew I was aware of her image, but damn it if it doesn't seem like too big a hand in this spot to someone as aggressive as her. I apathetically called then winced when she turned over K3o and dragged the pot.

I only played one relevant pot at the 400-800 level. It folded to the German player on my right while seated in the hi-jack and he raised. Right behind him I made a fairly small 3-bet with Ad8d and when it folded back to him he called. The flop came AsKs5s and when he led out I called. The turn was a Qc and we both checked. I think the river was the 7c and we both checked, though I was tempted to go for value. For some reason, I didn't record this hand but I think he had something like jacks with the jack of spades and was frustrated that I won the pot three-betting him with a weaker holding. It became relevant during a big hand together at the next level, which was 500-1,000. I held 82,000 going into the hand and he covered with about 30,000 more. It folded to him on the cut-off and he raised to 2,500. I was right behind him with AcKd on the button and made it 6,600. When the blinds folded he made some remark as to whether I was re-raising him again with ace-eight and then made the call. The flop came Jc5h3s and when he checked I fired 7,200. He called and the turn brought the perfect As. He checked and after a little consideration as to my sizing, I bet 16,500. He mulled this over for a moment, then took some chips out of his stack, sized up a raise, and placed 42,000 in the pot. I wasn't quite sure what he was doing, but I didn't especially believe him and I soon announced that I was all in. "Reeeeeally?" he said with a cringe. He asked for a count, ran some math in his head, then called and turned over Ts9s. The dealer quickly whipped off the 6d and I was suddenly holding what would be the average stack when we cashed, as we received 413 players and the Bellagio pay-out structure awards 100 players a cash once they reach 400 entrants.

A couple levels into the day our table busted a player and had WPT champion Alan Goehring fill the seat. I didn't know very much about his play, but soon watched him play far more hands out of position than is advisable, including cold calling a raise from mid-position with 36s in the small-blind and cold-calling a button reraise from Vanessa in the big-blind with 89s in a hand that I'm a total bitch for not four-betting with KJo, but I hadn't seen him play much yet and I had no clue he was flatting so wide in those kind of situations. Instead I just folded and watched Vanessa snap off a turn bluff attempt from Alan with a Q5s that had a flush draw (I think, she might have had third pair).

The table was seven handed when Alan opened under-the-gun to 2,000 at the 500-1000 level. It folded to me on the button with AdKc and I made it 5,100. The blinds folded, and with about 90,000 in his stack to start the hand Alan made the call. The flop came Kh8s7h and when Alan checked I bet 6,300. Alan considered this a moment then raised to 15,000. I was a little concerned as Alan is more on the loose-passive side than crazy-aggressive side, but he's not incapable of bluffing or semi-bluffing and I certainly wasn't going to fold. I made the call and the turn brought the Jc, which we both checked. The river was a 5s and when he bet 30,000 I essentially snap-called him, given that the flush draw missed and he quite possibly was just stone bluffing on the flop. Instead, Alan had called my three-bet out of position with K7s and flopped two pair, which was good to win the pot.

At the next level I again found myself in a precarious situation against Alan involving K7, this time with my holding it. Alan did a moderate amount of limping in our time at the table, and with about 100,000 effective he limped in early position. It folded to the cut-off who also limped, as did the button. I completed in the small blind with K7o, and Vanessa checked in the big. The flop came KhJd7h and I led 5,500. Vanessa called and Alan now raised to 15,000. Both limpers folded and I decided to call and get it in on safe turns. When I told Chewy and Aaron the hand at home they said that although being cautious in a deep-stacked limped pot is never a bad idea, in this case Vanessa too frequently has draws that get to come along with great odds and since Alan has some himself and is sometimes thin value raising or straight up bluffing, the turn will often go check-check-check and I should just three-bet the flop and go to war with Alan. Not surprisingly they were correct, and when the turn came 8c everyone indeed checked. The river was a 9d, which I thought cost me money but in fact saved me some. Both Vanessa and I checked to Alan, and he quickly put 40,000 in the pot. I folded without much thought and Vanessa made the call. She showed 9T for a turned straight and Alan AT for a rivered one, and they chopped the pot.

I remained quiet for the rest of the level, and hung around the 80,000 mark into the blinds increase of 800-1600. Lisa Hamilton had been moved to the table fairly recently, nursing a short stack for much of her time with us. She final tabled the WPT event in Jacksonville a few weeks ago, and I was able to watch her every hand while doing the commentary. As a result, I knew she was fully capable of shoving wide, and when it folded to her in mid position with 19,800 she moved all in. The action came to me on the button with 77 and after glancing at the players on my left who covered I moved in. Both the blinds folded and Lisa exposed 66. I faded the two-outer and climbed back into six figure territory.

My last relevant pot of the night again came against Alan. It folded to me on the cut-off and with about 100 in my stack against Alan's 140 I made it 3,500 with AdTd. Alan made the call out of the big-blind and we saw a heads up flop of 7c 7h 2c. When he checked I bet 4,200 and Alan called. The turn brought the As, and Alan now led 7,000 at me. Naturally I called, and when the river came the 6h Alan again bet 7,000. I shrugged at his odd line and quickly called, leading him to announce "You've got it" and muck his hand. I won a few more small pots near the end of the evening, and bagged up 148,300 to finish the day.

When play began on day three we were a mere 63 players away from cashing. I found myself at a stacked table including Issac Baron, Jason Mercier, James Dempsey, and Will Reynolds. There were a couple randoms that looked rather worried about the line-up they were facing, and play began on the aggressive side. The table was lucky to have Jason quickly lose a flip to one of the soft spots on the table, and I tried to take advantage of an older player on my right with a light three-bet but was forced to fold to the cold four-bet of Issac. The hand would prove useful for creating a dynamic though, and at 1000-2000 blinds and holding AdAs in the small blind the same older player now raised to 4,500 on the cut-off holding 60,000 in his stack. I made it 11,000 in total and after the big-blind folded he quickly called. The flop came Q88 rainbow and when I bet 13,000 he quickly called. The turn was the king that completed the rainbow, and now I checked to him as he had merely a pot sized bet left, hoping he'd put the rest in. Instead he checked. and when the river brought a six I thought a while then announced "All in" and was instantly called by my opponent. Prior to his verbal excitement I was near certain I had the best hand but now was concerned. When I flipped up my aces he let out a big, frustrated sigh and slammed over KsJs in disappointment. I collected his stack and was now over 200,000.

Players were steadily eliminated over the first couple levels, and about ten off the money and at the 1200-2400 level I had grinded my stack up to 225,000. Will Reynolds was on the button with a stack that slightly covered, and he raised into my big-blind for 5,200. I was holding a Qd8d and had yet to get out of line against Will in any pots together, so I three-bet to 15,500. Will thought things over a while, considered both our stacks, then announced raise and made it 32,000. I thought it was a spot where it was really sexy for him to four-bet, but really difficult for him to six-bet without a massive hand, so I elected to do as Dwyte Pilgrim so often suggests and take it to the next level. I made a too large raise up to 65,000, and after going into the tank and giving me a stare down behind his wide sunglasses, Will announced all in and I very quickly folded and said "Nice hand".

Things remained quiet for some time, and the bubble burst without much fuss. I was sitting on 136,000 at the time it broke, and when it did our table broke with it and I was sent across the room to a much softer table that contained the familiar faces of Jamie Rosen and Eric Baldwin. In my first major pot at the table I faced down both of them. With blinds at 2000-4000 it folded to Jamie on the hi-jack and he raised to 8,000. Eric was right behind him and three-bet up to 20,000. I was in the small blind with 99 and still collecting chips from the mid-sized pot I won the previous hand, but I knew my stack was about 150-160,000. Both players covered me though Eric only slightly, and after a little mock-consideration I moved all in. The big blind folded and with about 350 in his stack, Jamie said he was all-in. Eric folded and when the hands were revealed I saw that I was in bad shape against JJ. Luckily, I slammed out a AK9 flop, and when the turn and river failed to bring a jack for Jamie I was slid a pot worth nearly 350,000. I gave Jamie a sort of 'What can I do?' look and he took a moment away from the table to alleviate the frustration of taking such a huge beat.

I would stay at such heights only briefly. A half-orbit later Jamie raised under-the-gun with about 160,000 in his stack to 8,000. It folded to me on the button and I called with 8h7h with two loose-passive players in the blind that I anticipated would often come with. Both elected to fold, and we went heads up to a flop of 8s3h8c. Jamie bet 12,000 and I called. The turn was a Ts, and Jamie bet 27,500, which I again called. The river was an unfortunate Ks, meaning that if he was double-barreling a backdoor flush draw he got there. He thought it over and bet 78,000. Although I knew I could be losing to a flush, kings-full, or tens-full, I also thought Jamie likely put me on a mid pair like 66-JJ, and that he's capable of firing three barrels as a bluff (though not with many holdings in this spot), or for value when he has AK or AA. I called without much hesitation, and was shown pocket tens for tens-full, returning some of Jamie's stack to him.

Although I lost 120 back on the trips hand, I was still holding 230 and nearly double what I had arrived to the table with. After all, it seemed only fair Jamie got some back after what I did to him. Not long after I lost the large pot to him I called a pre-flop shove of 55,000 holding AQ. My opponent had 66 and I won the flip by hitting an ace on the turn.

Winning that hand brought my stack a little under 300, which I used to engage the 240 of Kyle Julias, who had been moved to my immediate left as we lost players. When it folded to me on the cut-off at 2000-4000 I made it 8,000 with the Ah5h. Kyle called, the small blind folded, and the big blind called. The flop came an exciting 3h4h9s and when the big blind checked I fired 15,000 into a pot of nearly 30. Kyle called and the big blind folded, bringing us to a 6s turn. This time I bet 40,000, leading to a little stare down and a call from Kyle. The river was a Jc, and for a number of reasons I decided to pull out of my bluff. At the point Kyle called me twice I was pretty sure he had a hand with showdown value and considering how many draws had missed I thought it very likely that he'd call the final bullet. The Jc was essentially irrelevant to my range, so there wasn't anything to scare him with. I checked and Kyle checked behind, then tabled AQo, leading me to playfully drawl "Yooooooou baaaaastard." When we spoke about the hand he said he had intended to call a river bet considering how many draws had missed, though whether he follows through with that when facing a large barrel is hard to say. Despite the result, I still don't mind the river check.

My double-barrel hand was the last large one of the night, and I bagged up 232,500 going into day four. Going into day four is comforting, because it's kind of the freeroll day. You've already cashed and now it's time to accumulate in an attempt at making a final table run, but it's not close enough for any tension to build about the size of the equity in each pot. You just kind of kick it, and hope you're not one of the unfortunate many who will take a tournament crippling pre-flop cooler that was unpreventable because the average stack has shortened so much.

All three of us that made it through day one were still alive and returned on Friday to a field that contained 49 players. I got a pretty good table draw from the looks of things, but there was still David Williams across the table, Will Reynolds on my immediate right, and a short stacked David Pham on my immediate left. There were a number of short-stacked players on the table along with him, which created the dynamic for my first big pot of the day, which happened a couple orbits in. At 3,000-6,000 and eight handed Will raised under the gun to 13,500 with about 450 in his stack, and I called next to act with 230 in mine and the QsQh. David Pham called behind with about 130 in his stack, and when it folded to the big blind he shoved for 140,000 total. Will thought it over for a moment and folded, and after taking a couple beats in hopes of inducing The Dragon I announced all in. David looked at the situation strangely and seemed to consider getting it in, but he decided to fold and when the big blind exposed his hand I saw I was in great shape against JhTh. The flop came J93 rainbow, but the turn and river were both harmless and I was now holding just under 400,000.

I played for a little while longer on that table, then we were broke and I was sent to another good looking table. I had Allen Kessler sat on my immediate left, who up until this tournament took enormous glee in pointing out that I had yet to cash a WPT tournament whenever I saw him. He was grinding a short stack as per usual and we began messing with each other pretty quick. He's got a damn fine sense of humor for a nit. I was pretty active on the softer table, and when I opened AQo in mid position to 13,000 with Allen sitting behind, he jammed his stack of 46,500 in after me. After a fold, an old and very weak player on the button with something like 250-300 in his stack cold called the shove. It folded back to me and I had a decision to make. I could just jam, but if the old dude had flatted a huge hand I was screwed, and there was some risk he flatted something like AK or JJ because he wasn't quite sure what else to do, and when I shoved would eventually call. He didn't seem to like investing many chips without something solid. I figured he was so passive that if I called and the flop bricked and I checked, if he bet he would certainly have it. If he checked back, I could bet almost every turn small and fuck him up. It was also the lower variance route at a pretty soft table, so I set the necessary 31,500 out and we went to a flop. The flop came 953 and when I checked to him he checked. The turn was a 6 and now I stacked up a bunch of gray 5,000 chips totaling 55,000 and dropped them into the pot, but did it so they would collapse and slide out in a flat row difficult to count because I knew he was not the type to ask about the amount and think what it indicates. He instantly folded and when Allen exposed AJ I just needed to fade three outs. The river bricked and when Allen asked the other guy what he had he said it was QJs. Allen felt that in a perfect world, the guy should knowingly bet the flop, causing me to fold and him to be awarded the pot when his AJ holds up over queen-high. This is why whenever possible, I make a point of knowing what people do not know, but if I knew he was cold-calling with stuff like QJ I would just shove pre.

On the opposite side of Allen's vacated seat and looming with a big stack of 900,000 was David Williams. Although I had position on him, much of the rest of the table were better targets and since I never found anything I especially liked against him when he opened I hadn't gotten tangled up. On his right was a short-stacked Dee Dozier, who the WPT was certainly crossing their fingers would run to the final table considering her bubbly personality and model looks. The three of us made conversation as David and I beat up on the table and Dee looked for opportunities to shove pre-flop with dead money in the pot. It wasn't until deep into the 4,000-8,000 level that I got involved in a pot with either of them. With 445 in my stack and still about 900 in his, David raised the button to his standard open of 20,000. In the small blind with 8c7c I made it 55,000, and when the big blind folded David asked about the sizing and then called. The flop came 8h6h2d and I fired 50,000. David again looked over the sizing of the bet and called. The turn was the 5h and I wasn't quite sure what to do. A conversation with Chewy and deeper thought under less pressure would reveal that a bet is better for a number of reasons. It gains value from some hands, and blocks things like ace-high with a heart from getting to the river cheaply and scooping the pot. It prevents me from facing two barrels from a fairly wide range, the second of which will be hard to call on many run-outs. And if I bet and get shoved on I can feel pretty good about folding. Unfortunately, I checked at the time, and David checked behind. The river was the Ks and we both checked again, and when David saw my hand he was disappointed and flashed red sevens.

Not long after out-flopping David our table broke, and I was sent to one with David Pham on my left and eventually, Luckychewy on his left. There was also James Dempsey across the table with a mountain of chips, and he's a man who likes to play a fair few hands. The first relevant pot I played at the table began with a player on the cut-off open shoving for 110,000 at 5,000-10,000 blinds. The button folded, and with 450 I reshoved 44 in the small blind with David Pham sitting on about 250 in the big. David folded and when the cut-off exposed A3o I was feeling real good. The flop came 249, but the turn brought his needed 5 and when the river came a K I was sliding off a fifth of my stack to him.

I hung around the area of 400 for a while, and because the Bellagio has you redraw every time you lose nine players deep in the money, I was given a new table at 27. There were plenty of familiar faces, including Luckychewy, David Steike, Antonio Esfandiari, and Will Reynolds. Fortunately, my first big pot developed against an unknown on my right, who was definitely less experienced than much of the table. At 6,000-12,000 and holding 900 in his stack, he opened in mid-position-one to 30,000. I called with 400 in my stack and AhQd behind him and Will called behind me. Everyone else folded and we were dealt a KhTh4h flop. The original raiser bet 60,000 and I thought over my raise size. I had about ~370 behind, and I thought if I shoved this particular player might perceive it as semi-bluffy, so a smaller and strange sizing seemed more appropriate, even though I felt that would be pretty transparent to Will. It didn't really matter though, as at the point I've raised Will and I are getting it in no matter what if he has a big hand. I elected to make it 160,000, and after a quick fold from Will the player first to act went deep into the tank and tried getting me to talk to him. I was without words. He asked about how much I had left and mumbled about my sizing and what I could have, then eventually found a fold.

As play continued into the evening players steadily fell off. The table had become seven handed when I had my first confrontation with Chewy. He was on the button and with perhaps 800 to my 610. The blinds were still 6-12, and when it folded to him on the button he made it 25,000 to go. The small blind folded and in the BB I held AcQd. I decided that against Chewy, I could just three-bet pre and jam on him if he went to four and feel just fine about it. I made it 65,000 and Chewy considered his options then decided to call. The flop came Ah 3h 4s and I fired 60,000 at him. Chewy thought only briefly then called, leading to a 2s on the turn. I decided not to do anything weird with two flush draws out there and doubted Chewy was pulling a float with the intention to bluff me, so I bet 140,000 with the intention of getting it in. Chewy didn't think too long before giving up.

Once we had been reduced to 18 we were again redrawn to new tables. It was not an easy situation. James Dempsey was in seat two, Kyle Julias in four, Vanessa right next to me, Soi Nguyen with a mountain on my left, and Chewy right behind him. But the first big pot I played developed against Anthony Yeh, a guy who reported for Pokernews that I'd met but never played against. In mid position he opened to 26,000 with about a million in his stack, and when it folded to me in the big blind and 700 in mine, I made it 70,000. He thought a bit and made the call. The flop came Th 5c 2h. I bet 80,000 and he called. The turn was the Ac. I feel like against most pros you have any history with you need to fire that card for value since it's a bluff card people often represent, but I'd never played Anthony and thought he may take it more truthfully and just fold his pairs. I checked and he checked back. I think betting is probably better, as does Chewy. The river was the 5h and I led small for 125,000 hoping to get called by worse pairs. He thought for quite some time, then folded what he later told me was sevens.

For a moment, I was sitting on 900,000 myself and very comfortable, but the descent began soon after. An interesting spot developed pre-flop against Vanessa and Soi. With 900 herself, Vanessa opened to 26,000 on the button. I had AsQs in the small blind, and since the table was new and I hadn't developed much dynamic with Vanessa, I decided that if I three-bet to say 70, and Vanessa went 140ish, I could never be content with not getting it in, but it seemed like an awful lot of chips with minimum history. However, if I called and Soi decided to three bet in position, it may induce Vanessa to believe Soi thinks I'm flatting too wide and three-betting more often as a bluff, causing her to widen her four-bet range, and making a jam over that bet more profitable. Additionally, because I would be jamming over so much action, my hand would look bigger than it actually was. And besides, if I got called I had AQs, I was sucking out for sure.

Soi did his part in participating with my plot by raising to 72,000, but Vanessa failed at hers and folded. I really didn't know very much about the way Soi played, but I didn't think getting it in so deep could be right and I was content to call him down on many run-outs. I made the call and we saw a 422 rainbow flop. I checked and fairly quickly called when Soi bet 75,000. The turn was a 6 and we both checked. The river brought a very ugly K, and when I checked Soi mulled it over then bet 135,000. I thought Soi would bet the turn almost every time he had a pocket pair, and would check his bluffs because my hand kind of looks like a pair itself and isn't going to fold on a six. I also thought the king was a pretty good looking card for him to fire with his bluff range, so I stacked up the necessary chips and called. He tabled KQo and I winced and mucked my hand. "Did you have ace-queen?" asked Vanessa. "Something like that" I replied.

I was sitting with about 620,000 going into the last level of the night, 8,000-16,000. The first hand I played at the level came when Vanessa opened with about 800 in mid position and I found KQo behind. I couldn't flat, but only one person on the table had a jamming stack and mine was not that shallow to jam against if I three-bet small. Plus I had two blockers to good hands and Vanessa opens plenty. She went to 35,000 and I popped it to 80,000. It folded to James Dempsey in the small blind and he asked about both my stack and hers. He considered the acquired information for some time, then very reluctantly folded. When the action came back to Vanessa she was only silent briefly before she said all in. I slid my hand towards the muck with James laughing at me.

About an orbit later the previous hand became relevant. I was down to about 500,000 and the action folded to James in mid position who opened to 35,000. When it folded to me in the small blind I found AcQc and decided it was get-in time. I stared at him for a second, then raised it up to 90,000. Soi folded behind, and James asked about what I had behind. He glanced down at his own chips, doing a little mental count, then looked back at mine and said "All in". "Yea, I call" I said. I exposed my hand and James meekly tossed over 4c4h. "Oops, you owned me" he said. "We'll see, I may have owned myself." The flop came Th5c3c and the sweat was on. The temperature increased on a Jd turn, but with the harmless 3h on the river I was eliminated in 18th place, good for a little under $32,000 and a dent in the make-up.

The WPT could ask for little more out of the eventual final table. Headlining was defending champion Antonio, along with Chewy, Vanessa, James, and Jacksonville final tablest Vitor Coelho. I was doing my usual online stream duties with David 'Doc' Sands and Dan O'brien. The early action was unlike anything I've ever seen at a six handed final table, and in quick succession four players were eliminated in under 90 minutes. Soi Nguyen and James Dempsey squared off heads up coming in almost dead even in chips. A little after heads up began I was told by one of my producers that Vince had contracted food poisoning and couldn't finish the broadcast, so I was being taken out of the back room and brought into his seat next to Mike to finish the show. The two of us sat side by side jabbering away as Soi beat James down to just 3.5 million of the 16.5 in play, but then witnessed the tides suddenly turn so suddenly that Dempsey had gone from crippled to tournament champion within an hour. He took home $821,000, and after my time on the table with him I can say he's a very deserving champ and an entirely likable guy.

Read Tony "Bond18" Dunst's full archive of blog entries here.

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Tony "Bond18" Dunst is a well-known online Multi-table tournament (MTT) pro. At age 20 he won a package on Party Poker for the Aussie Millions, and nearly final tabled his first live event. In 2006, he made a run in the WSOP main event, finishing 198th. He switched to online MTTs and found 2+2, where he began to learn what he was doing wrong and fixing his game. Tony plays 8 hours of online poker every day and moderates the MTT forums on 2+2. Click here to check out some free training videos from Tony and other pros on Card Player Pro or to start your free seven-day trial.

 
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