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WSOP 2011 Report 2

by Tony Dunst |  Published: Jun 15, '11


The first two weeks of the World Series have not been kind to the household. Thus far, we are a collective 2 of perhaps 50, with Truck Dan possessing both cashes. Timex, Mad Dog, and I are all in the area of zero for a dozen in our events and Starky, Aaron and Chewy have all blanked as well. Today they are off at their various casinos, either grinding cash, a day two, or the $5,000 shoot out. I took it off, my first in nine days, so that I could get some much needed writing and relaxing done.

Last Monday was the WSOP $1,500 six-max event. My first table was a bunch of mostly unknowns dudes to me, but after a few hours of uneventful play I was moved to a second and much tougher table. To be honest, I can't even remember how that one ended but I know that I didn't make the dinner break.

The next day was the $1,500 triple chance event. I ran up my stack up to almost four times starting, but about five or six hours into the day things faltered and I lost a flip that made me short. I busted a bit after the dinner break, but Truck made his deepest run in the series with this event but unfortunately finished 11th for the one off final table bubble. These were annoying moments when you were playing online, but live the final table bubble is truly unpleasant considering it usually takes days and a much stronger degree of internal emotional swings to get there. I never heard a word of complaint out of Truck about it though, but perhaps I'm just never around anymore.

Thursday brought the $1,500 pot limit hold'em event. Simply turning the "N" into a "P" cuts the field at least by half, potentially more. In one way it's a great opportunity to bink a bracelet each year, but it seems like too many of that half we lose are the fish who make the NLH fields so soft around this buy in level. Looking around I saw a number of very tough tables for such a low buy in, but I was more fortunate and found myself with more unfamiliar faces at my own. I doubled up with aces early in a cooler spot against an online player named JD who had jacks in the small-blind when there was no player in the BB. I ran that approximately 9,000 chip stack up into 11,500 by the time I got into my next big pot.

I had been pretty active as a result of finding hands and having a good seat on the table. The other player was unknown to me, but had run up a big stack as well. He was perhaps 30, plainly dressed, and playing aggressive but sensible. I had made more 3-bets than one would expect in a short stacked PLH tournament, mostly because I was card-racking. At 50-100 it folded around to the HJ who was sitting on around 16,000. He opened to 250 and a fairly loose player called on the CO. I looked down at QQ on the button and made it 825. The SB was a recreational player who had been talking to the entire table about how he was only here for a short period and taking a shot in this event. He had already flatted 3-bets and folded to further action. On a stack of about 8-9,000 he called out of the SB. The BB folded and the HJ now leaned forward from his chair in an attempt to assess the stack of the SB. His face showed a look of concern mixed with curiosity; not the look of a man who had KK or AA and simply wouldn't give a fuck how many chips the SB had. "How much do you have over there?" he asked, then paused for a moment after being told the amount and went to his chips. When his hand returned to the betting line it carried with it a raise to 2,100. I sat there for a moment pretending to think about what I was going to do, then announced "I raise pot" and slid all my blue 500 denomination chips into the pot. The SB quickly folded, the HJ said "Okay let's get it in" and we put all our chips in the middle. He flipped up AKo, and before the cards ran out I paused to appreciate that at the start of the day, I never would've believed I'd be playing a 230 BB flip at 50-100 in a PLH tournament.

One unfortunate king-high flop and bricked run-out later, I was walking away from my seat at somewhere around 3pm. An interesting difference between playing in this year's WSOP and last year's has been the amount of people that approach me as a result of the exposure. People are most comfortable approaching when you're alone, and so even a post bust-out stroll can result in a number of "Hey Tony how's it going dude!?" conversations if I'm not careful. I'm fortunate that I'm always in such a good mood after busting that I don't mind unless I'm in a rush, but I'd think for some other guys who receive this kind of thing it could make for less than pleasant conversations. After having done so much approaching yourself it's interesting to see the dynamic reverse and all of a sudden gain some insight from the opposite side as to why some things work and others don't.

I've spoken to a number of players about how they feel regarding exposure, popularity, being approached, poker fandom, etc. The majority of young and internet trained players I know don't much care for it (but certainly not all). For many of them, the somewhat theatrical nature of the industry holds no allure and they are what you could call "poker purists"; they play because they are good at it and they make plenty of money. If some company wants to stick a patch on them and give them a paycheck they won't argue, but they generally aren't interested in furthering some kind of persona, brand, or image. They just want to take bad players money, and tend to view those hallway approaches as something to be either endured or avoided.

Conversely, there are some players who make little secret about their popularity intentions. When it comes to those who appreciate the attention, have aspirations away from the felt, or burn with a general upward social ambition, you can sit back and watch the battle for eyes. At the end of the day, drawing eyes is the bottom line of what matters to your exposure potential, and if you're capable of it companies will tolerate near anything up to the point of living in a tornado of self destruction a la Charlie Sheen. That's why everyone runs around telling everyone else to add themselves on Twitter; there's eyes to be had. This isn't necessarily a bad thing though, and poker needs it's personalities because without them we're watching a bunch of dudes do mental math problems in utter silence. Thrilling! These types sense that when selling themselves there is value in being accessible, so they're near always happy to receive fans, autograph seekers, or people they sort-of know that just want to shoot the shit for the moment.

I find myself somewhere between the two. I'm an internet player by nature, and I started because I just loved playing and making money in a way where nobody got to tell me how to act or think. For a long time my ambition in the industry went so far as generating enough income to carry on as a suit wearing, world traveling, girl chasing eccentric in a far corner of the globe where nobody gave a damn about much of anything. When that became impossible I returned to the US and in the process of a few months watched reality go all Count of Monte Cristo on me, except this time the only revenge to be had was on anyone who had the audacity to misplay a hand at a WPT final table too obviously. I'm immensely grateful for all the opportunities that have come up over the last year and have been not so subtly fanning the flames of that spreading exposure, but sometimes I sit back and think "What the hell just happened? I'm not even supposed to be here…" and I hate that sometimes it all makes me feel like an uncaring prick when yet again I can't remember the name of someone I've met on multiple occasions who's been nothing but nice. My natural demeanor is that of an extroverted people-person, but the Catch-22 of popularity is that eventually you "know" so many people that you barely actually know any of them at all, and your rapport-generating behavior has somehow become ironically impersonal. In those moments, you just feel like a fucking fake.

Exposure has it's spoils though, and after busting the PLH tournament my Thursday evening was made free to enjoy them. A couple days prior I had been sent a single-sentence message by an attractive young woman on Facebook to inform me that she was recently 21, temporarily in Vegas, and currently bored. I would later find out she was aware of me because she found the "One mirrion" thing on the WSOP broadcast funny and memorable. We messaged back and forth a bit, changed over to doing so on our phones, and eventually arranged to meet for a drink. We were a few minutes into the date and walking towards the bar I was taking her to when she asked a rather forward question.

"Do you have a girlfriend?"



"Yea, she was here staying with me for a few months, but she had to go back to Australia a few weeks ago..."

As far as I'm concerned, radical honesty is really the only way to go about dating. Of course, that kind of attitude is not so big a gamble when a girl seeks you out, but it's an approach that every guy could benefit from taking no matter the scenario. I came to appreciate this over time, and in every instance when a girl asked something where I had to grit my teeth and give the blunt and assumably appalling answer I was always rewarded instead of punished. Over and over and over this happened, until it became pure habit to just say whatever I thought or knew to be true around women I was interested in. Being nonchalantly yet unapologetically honest is a trait I have seen in all of the best ladies-men, because it sub-communicates that they're confident enough to not care about the results of anything they say that could potentially disqualify them to a girl. It solves all kinds of potential misunderstanding or deception problems. It forces the girl to make a decision about whether she fits into your lifestyle, and not whether you will accommodate and adjust to hers. It accelerates the efficiency of communication to levels most relationships never come close to. It can even create some exceptionally quick sexual scenarios when both parties drop the will-I-won't-I facade and just sort of admit to each other that it's on. Too bad those spots are so rare, but the more you do it the better you become at creating them and sensing the possibility.

Principally it's about qualification. I couldn't quite understand what everyone was on about when I began, but now I see why it's integral. It's about sub-communicating that you have options and standards that go beyond looks. Put it to you like this: when interested in a woman what most men sub-communicate is "I'm really interested in sleeping with you! What do I have to do to make that happen?!" What the guys who kill it at women sub-communicate is "I'm potentially interested in sleeping with you, but why should I as opposed to one of my other options?" For the majority of men, a woman being physically attractive is all they need to be into her, and once they let this off too blatantly they're no longer a challenge and the girl loses interest. For a man genuinely living a life of abundance, looks aren't enough and he has some mental list of qualities he requires she have and not have that are much more about her personality, values, and attitude. He'll communicate this by using language that infers an inverse of who is pursuing who, and although every attractive woman's logical mind knows pretty much all guys want to sleep with her, a talented ladies man will keep her emotional mind in a state of confusion and doubt that it will happen. It's a sort of balancing act made possible by the fact that few women actually ask blunt questions (partially because they know most men would lie anyway) and even if they go all out and ask "Are you trying to sleep with me?" you can respond with "Of course I am, what am I gay?" like she just asked the most absurd question in the world, which she sort of did. Of course you are.

Friday morning brought the $2,500 no limit event at the Venetian. We began play with 20,000 in chips and 90 minute levels, making for the slowest structure of any tournament I'd played thus far. I had a decent table, with some young and competent players mixed with total randoms who were playing quite poorly. I chipped up early in medium sized pots and ran my stack up to around 35,000. A few hours into the day I was moved to a table across from my friend and ex-coach Adam Junglen who was also grinding a stack in the 30,000 area. The field in the event was actually pretty tough, but somehow we'd found ourselves on one of the softest tables in the room. Unfortunately, neither of us could make any progress and were essentially swinging at air in numerous pots. I had multiple hands where I was dealt some mid pair that was called by a very loose player and got an either deathly flop, or something like Axx where I bet once and they called then checked behind two streets with some kind of top-pair weak kicker. Near the end of the day Adam was moved tables and I was left with only a couple other young aggressive players on my own. I found one good spot to 3-bet one of them light on an awkward stack size, then found a golden opportunity with aces against one of the donks on the table. He opened UTG at 400-800 to 1600 with some absurd amount of chips and got two calls. I had 21,500 in the BB with AA and knew that although the small raise would look very obvious to the online player who flat called behind, the donk UTG wouldn't fold a damn thing. I made it 4500 and he quickly called. Both other players folded and the flop came T85 with two hearts. I bet 5300 and he called. The turn was the Ts and I jammed for my remaining 11,000 or so and he slightly thought about it then called with 66. The river bricked and I had the double I desperately needed. I won a few more small pots before the end of the night and finished at my high point of 48,000 at 2:30am. I made an effort to go out to a party after the tournament, but I just showed up for about 10 minutes, said hello to various drunken friends, and left without incident or the slightest indulgence.

We returned the next afternoon at 2:00pm for the start of day two. Again I found myself mostly unfamiliar with my table, except for Sam Iola on my right and a Canadian player named Carter on my left. On the third hand I found aces and when the 30-something Asian dude with 80,000 opened UTG to 2500 at 500-1000 I called behind in mid position. Carter called on the hijack and everyone else folded. The flop came 543 rainbow and when it checked to me I fired out something like 6600. Carter called and the UTG player folded. The turn was a K which seemed like a good card to just keep barreling on because it looks like something I might try to fire again as a scare card with my bluffing range, and Carter may believe I think I can represent that I flatted AK pre. I fired out 13,300 and after a moments thought Carter jammed on me. I quickly called and was ahead of his 99. The river was a brick and I was suddenly nearing the six-figure mark.

I folded for an orbit after that. Then I decided that folding was no longer the move, and got the raise and bet buttons out:

My stack: ~98,000

Button: ~85,000

Blinds 500-1000 with a 100 ante.

I hold Th6h in the BB eight handed.

The button was a 30-something Asian guy wearing a sports jersey and a large deal of loud jewelry. In the two orbits of history I had played only one hand, the aces which I flatted against his open raise. I might of raised one other hand and gotten folds. He didn't give off a super professional vibe to me, and I've never really seen him around but I could be wrong.

Preflop: It folded around to the button, the button raised to 2,500, the SB folded, I made it 7,300 in the BB, the button thought for a bit and called.

Flop: Qh 9d 5s (Pot 15,900)

I bet 8,300, the button called after mumbling something about having to make a decision. There's quite a few good turn cards for my hand which will be profitable to barrel in this situation.

Turn: Ac (Pot 32,500)

A pretty sexy card to barrel considering it does nothing for adding equity to my hand. I lined up a bet of 21,200 and dropped it into the pot. He made what I and many others call the "sigh-call"; where the opponent emits a light sigh sound as they slide their chips into the pot. Some people do this as a genuine reaction to not being certain of what they're doing and some people do this as a reverse-tell of varying believability levels. Given that I'd only been at the table with this guy for perhaps 15 hands I really had no idea how authentic his sigh was, but considering what I was planning to do on a number of rivers I was hoping it wasn't an act. Almost nobody thinks to balance their sighing tendencies, so once you see someone do it and find out whether they were strong or weak you can be quite confident that will remain true over time. But if you don't know anything about the guy you're flying blind and hoping you can spot an act.

River: 3c (Pot 74,900)

At this point, my decision was whether my opponent is willing to call the turn with one pair hands that aren't going to call one more street, like KQ, QJ, QT, or JJ. The hands I'm most concerned about are AQ, 99, and 55. My general vibe off the guy was that he wasn't going to hero call down with second pair agains the guy who's only tabled AA, and it's hard to have sets, so I decided to think a little bit and jam on him for his remaining approximate 50,000. "I call!" he said excitedly, then instantly tabled a set of queens. "Thaaaaaat wins" I drawled out slowly as I dropped my hand in the muck with a disappointed look like I had just taken a sick cooler. When I brought this hand up with the boys around the house near all pointed out that the turn bet is good but the river jam likely spew, because guys like this will often be scared enough of the ace on the turn to make a decision about the hands I was trying to fold on the river. As a result, they felt there were just too many nut hands remaining in the guys range to make the jam profitable.

Two hands later I jammed my remaining 13 BB on the button with 33. Carter called in the SB with 88 and when I flopped a 3 I found some new life. An orbit later I found 99 in the SB and there was a raise and two calls to me. I shipped my 25,000 stack in and the original raiser thought for a moment then reshipped for 38,000. The other players folded and when he tabled AA I was unable to find the second two-outer in a row and was sent packing.

I raced over to the Rio and bought in late to the $1,500 no limit event. I was told that we weren't to be seated until after the second break so I had well over an hour to kill. I went over to the media desk and found poker blogger role model Dr. Pauly. We decided to step outside for a smoke and catch up on everything that's happened over the last year. Pauly always has and always will be one of the most interesting and awesome dudes in this industry, and I know there are many very happy that he stays at it.

At about 4:40pm I floated into my $1,500 seat in the Rio and found myself with 4,500 chips at the level of 100-200. The entire table was playing the late start and we exchanged jokes about it being the "WSOP 5pm turbo". I was one of the lucky ones in the turbo phase of the tournament, and I busted a guy on a short stack to move up to about 5,500. After that I found kings in a great spot to flat against a min raise pre, and after a couple more calls it folded to the SB who jammed for something like 3,200. It folded back to me and I rejammed then held up against KQs.  My stack was hanging around the 10,000 mark when we went to dinner, where Mad Dog and I sat at the bar in Gaylord's as we so often do.

When we returned from dinner I was moved tables and found myself on the direct left of Tuan Lam. He's a very talkative bloke and was quite happy to see me, knowing just through reputation that he'd found someone who'd be amicable to his table talk. He's very funny and excitable, and has a sort of flair to his play. He won some very big pots on the table, and by 300-600 had run his stack up 65,000. I was chugging along on a stack of about 15,000 for most of that level, until I raise-folded one hand then found myself in a pot against Tuan. It folded to Tuan on the button and he raised to 1,550. I was in the SB with a little over 13,000 and looked down at KJo. I moved in and when the BB folded Tuan snapped with AA. I flopped a J but it was just a tease, and after busting I wished Tuan luck and left the table.

It was around the 11pm area when I busted and some friends were having a party in the place they got in Palms, so I rolled over there and hung out for a few hours. It wasn't some raging insane type thing but it was the perfect level of mildly intoxicated hanging out that I needed to catch a little mental break from all the tournaments. My social life has been really toned down thus far this WSOP, and I'm generally so exhausted by the end of the day that I just want to go home and chill with the boys for a few hours before going to bed. It also seems that the industry as a whole is taking a more workmanlike approach to this series, as many know it's the last opportunity to make the big score they need to keep going.

Sunday morning I went down to the Rio alone to play in the $1,000 event. Yet again I worked up a stack by just not playing dumb in 10 handed poker against a bunch of people who don't like folding, and by 200-400 I was hanging around the 10,000 mark on a mostly soft table. On my final hand, I found AKo in MP1 and made it 900. It folded to a player in LP who called, the button called, and the BB came along. The flop came AT8 with two diamonds and when it checked to me I bet 2300. Next to act moved all in for something like 20,000 and when the other two folded I snapped. He held KTdd and when the river came Tc I was out the door.

Monday morning I was back at the Venetian for their $1,600 event. It was my eighth straight day of play, and it really showed. I was more aggressive than usual but definitely sloppy about it in a few spots. In my bust out hand I jammed the turn for about three times the bet to me holding a pair, flush draw, and gunshot in a spot where I don't think my opponent has enough of a double barrel bet-fold range on a 8h9sJdAd board for my jam to be good. He called with top two and when the river bricked I was out the door at 3:30pm.

I spent Monday evening relaxing and in a very burned out state. I can't remember the last time I felt so tired, and my erratic sleep habits aren't helping. It's begun to get better, but still the hours are so random that it never persists. I got my ass into the gym, which I've still been pretty good about through everything.

This morning I had breakfast with Mad Dog at the nearby breakfast place before he went off to day two of his tournament. I was so tired after the weekend that I decided I needed the day off, plus I wanted to get this entry done and the next day is the $2,500. Over breakfast the two of us mostly stared into the sunny distance squinting. "Guess we're not 21 anymore Mad Dog."

"No, I guess not."

"Still a couple more weeks of this though…"

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.

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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