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Legends of Poker 2011

by Tony Dunst |  Published: Sep 21, '11

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We made our way to California on August 24th by way of car. The WPT had naturally provided a flight, but Chewy said he wanted to drive and Choppy hadn't booked a ticket, so I figured I might as well jump in the car and join them. I fell asleep an hour into the ride and woke up to the evening sun as we approached the highways of Los Angeles. We were fortunate to dodge major traffic in our direction, and made it to my hotel in a timely manner.

I was dropped at the Embassy Suites in Downey California, where both the WPT staff and many of those playing in the tournament were staying. Chewy and Matt didn't book early enough to obtain a room there, and instead decided to stay at Commerce. In the room I unloaded my things then took a taxi to the casino so I could buy in before play began as I thought there was potential for congested morning registration. Choppy joined me there after sorting things at this hotel, and after we dropped off our respective $3,700 at the cashier we found some dinner. I made myself get to bed at a reasonable hour as I had to be up in the morning.

I was at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens at 10:30 the next day to prepare for a press conference the WPT was holding in regards to the changes they'd made in season ten. I hung out in the audience and watched the players trickle in as the hour approached one. I stayed up until the point that Sexton announced "Shuffle up and deal!" then scampered between a sea of tables and people over to my seat. I found myself mostly unfamiliar with my opponents, except for the always jovial Dan O'brian across the table. There were at least a couple dudes on the table that required only 10 minutes of observation to confirm they were stone cold dead money (and two seconds to suspect it). We began play with 30,000 in chips, and I got myself involved early.

At 50-100 blinds and everyone still holding their starting stack I called an UTG open in MP1 with KhJh. The BB came along for the ride and we saw a flop of Ah 7h 2c. When the BB checked UTG bet 525, I called, and the BB folded. The turn was the 5h and the player UTG now fired 1,600 at me. I called, and we saw a Jd river. He bet out 2,600 and I considered my raise size. I figured there probably weren't many hands that could call a large raise, so I went to 7,000 (though it could be argued that only the stronger hands in his range will ever call the raise, and therefore it might as well be larger, but he was a random to me so I thought he might bet-call too wide). Apparently, the player UTG failed to understand that I raised and tabled his hand, a top set of aces. The dealer then informed him there had been a raise, so he glanced over at me and said "That's fine, I call!" excitedly. I tabled my flush, and took the pot from the deflated man.

I continued winning small pots between major hands, and made banter with the affable Allen Carter across the table. Much of the action was loose and exactly what you would hope for in a $3,500 tournament, but there was a young guy a few on my left who was playing a thinking TAG game. At 100-200 we played a hand together where I raised Ah8h on the CO to 400 and he called out of the BB. The flop came As Qc Ac and he check-called a bet of 525 from me. The turn was a 5s and again he check-called against a bet of 1,275. The river brought the flush completing 7c and he now donked out 3,000. I thought it was a very awkward spot, but from what I'd seen of his play I didn't think he would necessary check-call two streets on a strong queen then suddenly decide to donk a flush card as a bluff when he had that much show-down value. I thought it was hard for him to get to the river without a draw, an ace, or a decent queen and if I don't think the queen is betting, I should probably fold to the aces or flushes. So I folded, but I felt a bit gross about it because young guys do weird shit against each other in cut-off vs big-blind poker.

Outside the trips set back, I seemed to win a ton of the pots I entered, often by making enough showdown value or draw equity to keep betting at it and eventually take it down. I hadn't gotten very aggressive with many three or four bets, but with about 48,000 in my stack I took a shot at Dan O'brian, who slightly covered me. At 100-200 O'brien opened UTG to 400. Dan opens pretty damn wide and was certainly doing so at this table, though not on a crazy level. The next two to act called him, both of which seemed like more recreational players who would be calling too wide. On the hijack I made it 2,000 with Kc8c, in a spot where I felt that if I was going to make the squeeze 3-bet, I should probably know that Dan recognizes how good a spot it is and be prepared to go five to his four. When it folded back to Dan, he glanced at our respective stacks, then announced raise and made it 5,600. Both players between us folded, and when it came back to me I reached for my 5,000 chips and made it a total of 12,200. What I failed to anticipate, is that Dan gave me enough credit to sense the 5-bet spot, and knew that he shouldn't 4-bet if he wasn't willing to go to six. After a moment he announced all in, and I didn't bother wasting much time in the tank before I dropped my hand in the muck.

After losing a quarter of my stack to Dan things went quiet for a while. Any time I played a pot it seemed to be against Dan and he pretty much always won them with aggression I couldn't call. The antes came into play and I won or lost small pots here and there, but very little changed for several levels and I essentially went card dead. I didn't play another major pot until 300-600, when I called a raise from the player on the cut-off who made it 1,300 when holding 8h9h in the BB with 29,000. The cut-off was new to the table holding 40,000 in chips, and I was mostly unfamiliar with his play. The flop came a perfect 8d 6h 2h and after I checked he bet 1,400. I elected to go with a small check-raise because I think it looks kind of full-of-shit on a semi-raggy board, and it gives him room to do something spewy or make loose calls. And if he wants to get in a raising war, well, no dramas there. I made it 3,600, and after staring me down a moment he called. The turn brought the 7d, and I bet 5,200 (If you think your opponent is more likely to be floating than calling down wide or drawing, then checking turn seems preferable, though I had no reason to assume that with this guy). The cut-off called and we saw a Kc river. I didn't really think I could get value with a bet, especially as all I had behind was a little under pot, so I checked. He checked behind and when I tabled my hand he mucked.

I mostly hung tight during the last level though I won a small pot off Darren Elias, who recently arrived to the table on my left. Going into the last hands of the evening I peeked down at a pair of jacks in mid position with about 47,000 in my stack. I made it 1,300 and it folded to a very loose-passive player on the button, who called. Dan was in the small blind with a stack of about 90,000, and made it 6,400. I knew after our day together there was no way in hell I was doing anything but making a four bet and calling a shove, so I made it 13,200 after glaring at him for a moment. The button folded, and after glaring back Dan announced that he was all in. I shrugged and said "Well, guess I call" then tabled my hand. Dan tabled his kings and gave me a sympathetic look. The board bricked out and Dan accumulated the huge pot. I only had a few minutes to kill before the end of play, and when it was done I found Dan and hung out with him for a while. We spoke about the hands we played together, and I told him that I thought he'd be quite good at doing the online streaming and asked if he'd like to come in the booth if he was staying around Los Angeles during the final table. He said that he'd very much like to, assuming he wasn't playing at it.

I was back at the Bike the next afternoon to do it all over again. Not surprisingly, I was mostly unfamiliar with my table, though I had Adam Geyer sitting on my immediate right, which is where you prefer someone like him. Play was loose early, and although I made a couple hands I lost medium sized pots with them when I faced a ton of aggression on dry boards by a man of perhaps 50 sitting in the two-seat. He steadily gathered chips from the table, and I didn't see him turn over any air until much later in the day. My stack bled from 30 thousand to 20 without winning a significant pot, but at the first level with antes I finally connected. At 100-200 25 the younger player UTG made it 525. It folded to the button who made the call, and I threw 325 more in from the BB with 6d5d. The flop came Kh 8s 4d and when I checked UTG bet 1,000. The button folded and I decided to float out of position with the gut-shot and backdoor flush draw. The turn was a Jc and when I checked he checked behind. The river eliminated the need to decide on a bluff size when it came the 7d. I thought that if I checked on all three streets my hand might look like a small to mid pair, and that my opponent may fire again with his bluffs and occasionally bet-call with his showdown value range because a river check-raise looks like bullshit coming from me after my line. I checked a third time, and UTG placed a bet of 2,500 in the pot. I thought matters over for a while, then went for my chips and made it 8,000. The UTG tanked it for quite some time, perplexed by my unusual line that seemed to represent very little. Eventually he decided to call, and mucked his hand in frustration when he saw my straight.

After rivering the straight it seemed that every pot I got involved in was against the late-thirties Asian guy two on my right. He opened the button to 500, I made it 1,600, he called. I took it down with a bet of 1,500 on the flop of Jh9h7h. He opened button to 500, I made it 1,600, he called. The flop came T74 with two clubs and I bet 1,500. He called and we saw a Jd turn that I fired 3,800 at, leading to another call. The river was an offsuit ten, and I check-folded to a 10,000ish chip bet from him. He opened to the minimum on the button for 600, I called in the BB. Flop KJx and we both checked. I bet 900 on a rag and offsuit turn, which he called. The river bricked, and he folded after I bet 2,500.

However, the most interesting hand involving that player was one where I wasn't involved. I missed the preflop action, but at 150-300 and on a flop of J83 rainbow the Asian guy got check-raised to 7,000 by the 50 something guy in seat two when there was just two or three-thousand in the pot. The Asian dude jammed for about 7,000 more and the guy in seat two threw his hands up in despair, considered the math, and called with Q9dd. The Asian guy tabled AQo and I was entirely confused as to why that happened because the guy in seat two hadn't seemed that crazy.

Which leads us up to my final hand, against the same Asian guy. During the first few hands of the 200-400 level he opened in early position to 1,400 with about 40,000 in his stack. The larger than average raise was unusual for him, and with 33,000 behind I called in mid position holding Th9h. Everyone else folded, and we saw a flop of 5h Td Qh. When he checked, I elected for something of an odd play and checked behind. I felt that for him to size it larger than average pre and check the flop, he likely either had something rather strong that was trapping, or something rather weak that intended to check-fold or just check-call once. I thought that checking back may induce him to bluff into my second pair, and in the event I hit my flush and got the opportunity to put in a raise my hand would look under-represented, as most people are betting a flush draw in position there. Plus, I obviously didn't think I could get three streets with second pair, and I felt that if I were to get two, checking the flop was how to do it. The turn brought the 7h, and again he checked. Now I bet 2,500, and after thinking for a brief moment my opponent check-raised to 6,000. Most certainly a confusing line, but I thought it improbable he would check the flop with a huge draw and then check the turn again when it hit--though it was possible. I wasn't quite sure what his range was for this move, but I thought even if he somehow had pulled this with showdown value he might call a small three bet then check-decide on the river. I made it 12,500, and he stared at me a moment then physically crammed his stack in the middle. I called rather quickly, and saw that I was drawing dead to the AhJh, ending my tournament.

It was a Saturday in Los Angeles, and I had an evening to kill. I'd been texting with a girl I knew who lived in the area that wanted to go out that evening, so I informed her I'd be available. We'd been to bed together a couple times during our two year history, though I could never be sure whether she wanted to hang out as just friends or get sexual when she made the effort to meet up. She was a fun girl, but definitely erratic and I approached most of our "dates" assuming nothing would happen but knowing it certainly could and never being bothered either way.

That evening, she drove the approximately 45 minutes from Northern LA to Downey and met me at the hotel. She said she was keen to get some hookah and drinks. I told her there was a hookah bar literally one block over, but both they and every other hookah bar I found in the area didn't serve alcohol. She decided we'd amend this by going to a liquor store and purchasing a collection of airplane mini bottles that she stashed in her purse and poured into our sodas at the bar. She seemed to be in a better place mentally than when last I saw her, and was more of the bubbly and outgoing girl I remembered from when we first met. As always, she was hyper-sexual, but I've become so accustomed to her saying those kind of things with no intention of following through that I literally ignore 90% of such comments and proceed in conversation as if I'd never heard her.

A couple hours into our smoking and drinking she said "I think I want to stay over tonight."

"OK" I said flatly, assuming this was just another Jon Kylesque not-intended-to-be-factual-statement.

"Is that alright?" she inquired, causing me to realize she was being serious this time.

"Oh, oh right. Yea of course, naturally I'd encourage that."

We finished our drinks then left and made the brief stroll from the bar to the hotel. She told me she'd packed an overnight bag that was in her car, so we picked it up and proceeded to the room. We had a drink on the couch together where we chatted for a period, then began making out and decided to take things over to the bed. We lost our clothes in short order, and soon had our hands all over each other's crotches. This particular young woman is only capable of reaching orgasm through external stimulation and even then it's rather difficult, so I got to work on her with my fingers and tongue. When my mouth got tired I went back to the fingers, and furiously gyrated my pointer over the specific area that she directed me too in tiny circles. This persisted for approximately half an hour. I feel like most of the time people make a claim about the duration of sexual service/accomplishment they're exaggerating, but I feel confident in my assessment because Pandora radio was playing and I recall hearing about eight to ten songs while I was at work. Eventually she let out a deep sigh, stated that she'd come close three times, but just couldn't get there. I said that was too bad, then reached for the condom I'd pulled from a drawer and set on the nightstand.

"No, I don't feel like it anymore" she stated.

"Ah well…alright." I shrugged and laid back down on the bed, then added "Do you mind giving me a hand here though?"

"What like, a handjob?"

"Yea."

"No...I don't want to."

"Okay?"

"I mean, I could give you a handjob or blowjob or something, but my heart wouldn't be it, so, it wouldn't be genuine."

"Uhhhhmm…okaaaaaay?"

"…Are you mad at me? I feel like your mad."

"No, I'm not mad, but I'm a guy so I'm really horny and there's not much I can do about that."

"Oh…this is pretty awkward."

"Yea. It is."

"I think…I think I should go."

"Okay."

She got up, put her clothes back on, and went to the other side of the suite to repack her overnight bag. I realized she'd left her scarf in the room so I took it out to her then returned to the bedroom, opened the door to the balcony, and began frantically hitting the pipe I'd brought with me. Oh for my lovely, intoxicating, accommodating pipe. It never does anything but encourage my hitting it.

I've never had a sexual experience quite like that. It's not so uncommon that women you haven't slept with will cut you off when you're making out on a bed or couch when they realize they're not ready to go that far yet, but nothing comes anywhere close to the strangeness of that night, and certainly not with anyone I'd already been with. Who knows.

I had Sunday for myself, and spent it reading and smoking in the hotel room. I made sure to get to bed early, as we had an 8:30am call time at The Bike the next day for a "Best of Season IX" episode we were filming. We began filming around 9:00am that day, but fortunately I didn't have many lines and my job was predominately to sit there and wear a suit. My attitude has remained unchanged since my college days at a theatre major, when I aimed for the fewest amount of lines and least amount of responsibility possible, mostly to allow me more time to play online poker in the back of class with my laptop on silent. In retrospect, my professors must have found all that clicking suspicious.

Tuesday was the final table and my first time attempting the online streaming broadcast. I was under the direction of two producers: Jeff, who works full-time at the World Poker Tour, and Ian, who was contracted specifically for the live stream project and whose thick Irish accent takes a moment to decipher. I shot a few introductory pieces around the Bike with Ian, then near the start of the final table found Dan O'brien and proceeded with him to the small back room we were sequestered in. We had a monitor to watch the action and once play started, we were off and rolling.

This season, the WPT hired Ali Nijad to host and coordinate the final tables. This was done to keep the final tables running smoother, finish quicker, entertain the audience, and because having Ali around is never a bad idea. He filtered all the necessary information from the table to Dan and I, and we were usually able to have a pretty complete idea on the action in front of us. Throughout the evening a slew of different guest-hosts joined me in the booth, including Live at the Bike commentator Bart Hansen, WPT Borgata winner Dwyte Pilgrim, and right after he was knocked out from the final table, Owais Ahmed. It was a sweet list of guys who are a combination of great poker players and great talkers, but Owais was particularly excellent for transferring straight from busting into exceptionally articulate and thoughtful commentary. The evening ended with a return of Dan in the booth, and I feel that of everyone I worked with that night, he and I had the most natural and humorous conversation. Play finished around midnight, which was a reasonable hour compared to many final tables of last season. The eventual champion was Will "The Thrill" Failla, famous for his gregarious personality and immaculately maintained shaved legs. When you see him wearing shorts at the final table, now you know why.

I returned to the hotel very late after taking some brief meetings after the final table, and although I was starving I no longer had the energy to make the trip across the street to Denny's. Instead I crawled into bed, and told myself that I'd take care of packing for my evening flight to Paris in the afternoon.

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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