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WSOP 2011 Report 1

by Tony Dunst |  Published: Jun 06, '11


For a tournament poker player, there's no better time of year than WSOP time. Those six weeks present the best and highest quantity of opportunities to make a meaningful score for the whole year, and for those that invest in the historical significance of the whole thing a chance to take home a physical piece of that history. I'm much more interested in the money than the jewelry, but given that one comes with the other I won't argue.

My approach to this Summer is to hurl myself in an all out assault on the tournaments in as many as I can fit in without reaching burn out. I'm never passing up any WSOP events that I and Mad Dog think I'm profitable in, and any day there's nothing for me at the WSOP I head off to the Venetian for whatever they've got going. Some days I do both, and bust at the WSOP so quickly that there's still time to late register a few casinos away. Used to be when you busted your Stars tournament you just pulled up what you had left on Tilt, now when you bust the Rio you just hope there's time to pull up the Venetian. Either way, grinders like me will find our ways to multi table no matter what the DOJ has to say about it. It's in my blood at this point.

I suppose that the Summer officially started on Tuesday May 31st. We dropped Heika off at the airport the previous day for her flight back to Australia, then Mad Dog and I swung by the car rental section to pick up our transportation for the next six weeks. Although it is my natural inclination to show up at the rental desk and announce "I shall have your finest automobile and will spare no expense to obtain it, procure me something with enormous rims and terrible gas mileage" the realities of Black Friday have forced some sensibility out of us all, and so we settled on a four-door Honda Accord. Sadly, even it's rims are of average girth. I selected the minimum amount of insurance available, and assured Mad Dog he was a far better option to be doing the bulk of the actual driving then tossed him the keys. He took us over to the Rio to check that his wire had arrived without incident. We took some money out for the upcoming events then I took a taxi home so I could battle Erik Fast from Cardplayer on the tennis courts near the house.

The next morning I made my way down to the Strip for the Venetian $1,070 event. Nobody in the house was playing so I drove in alone and hoped for a soft field. When I got to the table I was sorely disappointed, and looked around at the flurry of young but mostly unfamiliar faces around me. Seems the event was so early in the schedule that not many recreational players had shown up or become aware of them yet, creating a field of about 275 mostly competent players. It was an uneventful event for me outside running one dumb bluff that didn't work, and I busted when I jammed my short stack with 77 over an open and lost the flip to KQs about five hours into the day.

I took the car over to the Rio to check up on the boys from the house who were playing in the $25,000 heads up. I couldn't find Aaron, but found Chewy playing someone I didn't recognize and Truck battling Eugene Katchalov. Unfortunately, by the end of the night all three were out and none had progressed to the money.

I wanted to make sure I was available for the $5,000 no limit event on Thursday, so I took Wednesday off and instead arranged a tennis match with Jim Agate, a friend of Vince Van Patten's that I met at the Bellagio in a tournament one afternoon. I played on clay for the second time in my life and slid around chasing balls that bounced erratically in the windy conditions. The two of us had Korean BBQ nearby after then I went home and straight into the gym. I haven't found keeping the exercise up during the tournaments difficult thus far, not only because I've been busting them early enough that I'm usually available but also because I keep waking up early, regardless to what time I go to bed. The end result is I usually have time for the gym before I play. It's been a long time since I passed up the opportunity to sleep in as much as possible, but it seems no matter what I do and until what hour the night before, I'm going to snap awake at about 8 or 9am whether I like or not. I manage to stay functional through most of the afternoon, but by the evening I'm drained and running on some absurd amount of coffee consumed steadily throughout the day. Strangely, Mad Dog is currently experiencing the same thing, though he prefers beer for his liquid alleviation.

Thursday began one of the most anticipated events of the schedule, the $5,000 no limit event. It produced an even larger field than last year with 865 players, and was packed with the best hold'em players in the game mixed with the type of complete randoms were no longer used to seeing abundant in United States $5,000 events. I arrived and found three unknowns waiting for me on my table as play began, indicating that I was likely facing five professionals in the empty seats. Ten minutes and five late-arrival professionals later, I was across the table from Olivier Busquet, ELKY, and some young pros I was less familiar with. Olivier had turned up dressed as well if not better than I, being adorned not only with a well made suit, shirt, tie, and cufflinks, but also with a vest and handsome watch. "I knew I was going to get your table!" he said when he sat down.


Olivier had to do the commentary for the heads up matches later in the afternoon, and I swear to God if he winds up stealing my job and my look I'm going to fucking murder that polite young man. Anyway, on his immediate right was Bertrand "ELKY" Grospellier, the lead author on the book I coauthored which I recently found out has reached full publication and is already available for pre-order on Amazon. I suppose that if I ever want to make it to lead author, I should off him too. That can be found here:

Play began smoothly and socially. Olivier and I exchanged a series of best-dressed contest jokes. ELKY and I shared stories from Korea and discussed the 100,000 Euro bet he has against Lex "RaSZi" Veldhuis in a kick-boxing match to be held this upcoming fall. The three less experienced players seemed pretty exploitable, and chips started flying a little. Olivier folded aces on a turn of T864 to one of the unknowns who bombed out 5,000 and gave off a vibe like he really thought he had it. I played some small pots and had opened a number of hands when I found myself in a big pot against my sartorial adversary:

Leading up to the hand, this was the second limp by Olivier UTG. He had also raised a number of hands, and was one of the most active players. There hadn't really been much in the way of multi-way pots, so this was my first opportunity to isolate limpers. I had opened a number of hands but hadn't been out of the ordinary active or played a major hand. Olivier and I final tabled a Bellagio prelim together back in 2008 which I won and he finished third in, but I don't think very much relevant happened there between us that adds any layers because I mostly just card-racked my way to a win. Besides, people change their game a ton in three years. I assumed he regarded me as a thinking TAG player who was capable of isolating pretty wide in this spot.

My stack: ~15,000

Olivier: ~12,500

Blinds: 50/75

I held AcKc on the hijack.

Preflop: Olivier limped UTG for 75, next to act limped, folded to MP2, MP2 limped, I raised to 500, it folded back to Olivier, Olivier quickly called, both other limpets folded.

Flop: As Jd 8h (Pot 1275)

Olivier checked, I bet 700, Olivier thought a little while and made it 1800. I thought his most likely hands to play like this were QTs, 9Ts, AJs, or 88, and I believed he was more likely to limp call UTG with the two weaker hands than the two stronger ones, which I figured he'd mostly elect to raise with given how much he had been opening. I thought that if I was going to call now, I'd better be willing to call down on the majority of run-outs against someone as gangster as Olivier. Otherwise, I'm better off just nit folding the flop and never telling anyone. Instead, I told myself that I just didn't think he'd limp-call 88/AJs that often as opposed to raise, and if he did he wouldn't always take this line with them. He also just might have wanted to get some chips or get busted to be available for his commentary, but I really have no idea what his schedule was like. I decided I was going to call, and call down to the river on most run-outs.

Turn: 5h (Pot 4875)

Olivier bet 2600, I sat there and tried to time things to the degree that my decision appeared to have some uncertainty in it; anything to encourage as many bluffs with his range that's drawing and misses on the river as possible. Whether I actually sub-communicate those things to my advantage I'll never really know.

River: Js (10,075)

Olivier thought things over for a while then jammed for the remains of his stack, about 6600. Although I had told myself I was going to call down and that card was one of the best possible I could ask for, I still sat there for a while double checking everything I had done and was about to do in my head. I assured myself he really was representing a very thin range of value hands, and he really was exactly the kind of aggressive nasty player capable of emptying the clip even on a card we both know is bad to bluff on. I cringed at the thought of explaining to Mad Dog how I'd stacked off with top-pair-top-kicker to a boat in the first big event, then put it out of my head and picked up seven yellow 1,000 denomination chips and dropped them into the pot. "You win!" he announced. I tabled my hand, and he flipped over his 9Tdd in return, then tapped the table and calmly left.

For a moment, things were good. I won another medium sized pot when I 3-bet a button raise out of the SB and fired two barrels, and our table was now minus one more professional. I'd observed that one of the unknowns on the table played exceptionally straight forward post flop. to the point of check-folding after raising pre at what appeared to be a rate of 100% when he didn't connect. Just a couple orbits after my last large pot I got tangled in another against the weak player UTG and another unknown who had been inactive in the BB:

My stack: ~25,000

BB: ~14,000

UTG: ~18,000

CO: ~25,000

Blinds: 50/100

I held QsJh on the button.

Preflop: The very straight forward player opened UTG to 300, it folded around to a young pro on the CO who called, I called on the button (and was later told by sickos that this is the kind of spot I need to be 3-betting more as a better option), the SB folded, and the BB called.

Flop: Qc Jd 6c

The BB checked, UTG bet 600, the CO called, I raised to 2200, the BB went into the tank, the player UTG was apparently oblivious to the BB's tanking and folded out of turn, the BB elected to call, the CO folded.

Turn: 7s

The BB checked, I bet 4300, the BB thought a while and shoved for about 11,500 total, I called and prayed he didn't have a set of sixes and then he tabled his set of sixes. The river bricked with the 4s and I slid off the bulk of my stack in the direction of the BB.

After the loss of the big hand I went card dead for a very long time. I did what I could to keep my head above water, but as the day went on my stack dwindled. I managed to make it to the dinner break with about 6,000 left, and went to Gaylord's with Mad Dog. We sat at the bar for the view of the NBA finals and watched Miami close the gap approaching the second half in game two of the finals.

I doubled up almost instantly after dinner. An unknown player raised UTG to 900, online player "Cdbr" called on the button, and I jammed 5700 with AKo in the BB. After UTG folded Chris made the call on the button and I held up against his AJo. Things remained pretty quiet for the rest of the level, and I happily folded the air I was being dealt, content just to have near starting stack again. Right near the end of the level I got involved in a large hand against Brynn Kenney's brother Tyler. He opened to 900 UTG and I called with KdKs and a very tight image with about 13,000 in my stack in MP1. The player behind me called and the BB came along. The flop brought came 9c 7d 5c and it was checked to me. I fired out 2800 and it folded back to Tyler. He thought things over a while--perhaps just long enough to seemingly be uncertain of his decision--then announced that he was all in for what was a couple thousand more than I had behind. I immediately put my chips in and expected that I'd need to hold against a large draw or be looking at some kind of over pair just worse than mine. Instead I had top set dropped right in my face, and when the board ran out without a king I wished everyone luck and left.

A glutton for punishment, I busted two tournaments the next day. I began at the Rio for the $1,500 limit event. It's been a long time since I've played limit regularly, but I did it for long enough that I'll always feel comfortable in that particular WSOP event, which attracts so many less experienced at the game. I found myself unfamiliar with all my table but Barry Shulman in the one seat. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to exploit my unknown opponents and I lost pot after pot. A couple of times I found myself in one of those awful limit situations where I got to the river with a marginal amount of showdown value facing just one more bet in a now bloated pot. Both times I elected to put the last bet in despite not feeling great about it, and both times got shown the better hand. On my final hand I got it in on 9d6c3d with AdKd against what turned out to be a set of sixes. I bricked and I left the Rio as quickly as I could to get to the Venetian.

About fifteen minutes later I was taking my seat in the Venetian deep stack $560. The table had a number of familiar young faces, plus a few random that I didn't know. We began with 15,000 and it was already 100/200 so we were playing meaningful pots right off the bat. I played a few medium sized pots back and forth with some of the young guys on the table, with mixed results. I got somewhere up to 20,000 at one point, but that bled back down then with about 15,000 left at 200-400 I called a shove in a spot where I thought my opponent could be squeezing with 77 for 20 BB when I think 88 or 99 should've been the cutoff hand. It wouldn't have mattered though because he had QQ and never came close to losing the hand. I survived until 300-600 and open jammed 76s with 5100 in mid position only to be called by the same player in the BB who now had AA.

Saturday brought the kind of afternoon that only the World Series can produce. It started at the Rio for the $1,000 no limit event, where everyone begins with the fairly short stack of 3,000 and there are literally thousands of players, most of which are not professionals. My table was pretty much totally unknown to me, and many were very friendly and happy to get a social vibe going on the table. After some discussion, a number of us decided that we'd have ourselves a "beer-level" at the beginning of the third level, right after break. During break I found a friend I'd been seated next to while running deep in the main last year who said he was stepping out for a smoke, so I joined him. When I got back our five beers were ordered and there was a series of cheers at the table. "This is why I love the Saturday tournaments at the Rio boys, where the smoke breaks meet the beer-levels". That's one of the things I always loved most about this job, the option and opportunity to just cut the hell loose when and if you're inclined. For the most part I just want to sit there buzzing on nothing more than coffee like a normal person, but it's just so comforting to know that if the occasion presents itself, I can get a little ripped for no apparent reason.

Up until that point the tournament had been pretty straight forward. I found aces in a spot where I got to 3-bet two players pre then bet large on the flop and jam for under pot on the turn, which got folded to. I played a ton of small pots where sometimes I had it and sometimes I didn't, but nobody wanted to battle with the friendly guy encouraging the beer-level. When I finally played a big hand, we got all the money in. At 50-100 it folded to MP1 who limped. Next to act limped and it folded around to me in the SB with 3300 and TT. I made it 525 and after the BB folded the first limper quickly called. The other limper folded and we saw a flop of 995 rainbow. I fired out 700 and he jacked it up to 1600. The way he'd been playing I didn't really think he had an overpair, though it wouldn't shock me if I got shown one now and then, especially something more vulnerable to a suck out like JJ. Still, I thought he just had weird stuff and mid pairs that raised without a plan pretty often too, so I jammed for 1225 more and after tanking for a long time he called and rolled over 88. The turn brought a 6 and the river the necessary 7 to fill his straight, and I was sent packing.

I waved my table goodbye and decided to let the day take me where it would. Some girls I knew were over at the Marquee day club at the Cosmo, which I had prepared for by bringing my swimsuit in the car. I made my way over to meet them and attempted to gain entry in my suit while carrying my swim-trunks in hand with the intention of changing inside, but I was told by the bouncer that there were no changing rooms there and I had to go to the bathroom down the hall and change into "pool attire". As I entered the men's room I witnessed a handicapped man in a wheelchair being taken into one of the stalls. The only other was already occupied, and I mentally prepared to sit through listening to two dudes shit for a while at close proximity. Fifteen minutes later neither the handicapped dude or the guy in the next stall with diarrhea so bad it was sure to leave him handicapped had emerged from their respective toilet cubicle. I left the bathroom and realized that right next to it was a singular private bathroom but just as I reached it some other dude went in first. I stood there another 10 minutes waiting on any stall to free up in total vain.

I returned to the line of Marquee still in my suit to the confused look of the bouncer. "You still in yo clothes man" he began.

"Yes I know, I've been waiting on the same three dudes taking a shit that whole time. Is there any other bathroom around here?"

"Yea but you're gonna have to go downstairs."

After a quick change into my merely my trunks, shirt and socks I departed the downstairs bathroom and returned to the line. They gave me some trouble about the shoe situation, but relented and decided that I could walk in with my dress shoes. "Why you come dressed like this to a pool party?" he asked me curiously. "I just got off work ya know?" I assured him. A moment later I was upstairs and walking towards the pool when I ran into the girls, who were in the process of leaving. They'd already spent the day drinking and baking, and were now hungry. As we exited the club the bouncer looked at me befuddled and asked "Didn't I just see you walk in?"

One intoxicating lunch and brief elevator ride later we were in the Cosmo self-parking garage. The girl I came to see grabbed my swimsuit and ran off into some area of the parking lot that obscured her from view. Her friend wasn't amused and elected to go wait in the car while I texted her to return the suit. After some back and forth plus much playful refusal on her part she popped into view and I walked over to get my clothes back. She leaned up against some unfortunate random's SUV and withheld the suit from me with an alluring look in her eye. We started making out, which led to dry humping up against the SUV and everything that goes with it. For once in my life, I thought better of getting curious about just how far things could go, not only because she was a bit drunk from her day of partying but also because it was so damn out in the open I really thought I'd get caught this time by some horrified pedestrian who'd drive or walk by and wonder why the fuck this is happening at 5:00pm. The Cosmo is far too nice and new a hotel to go getting black-listed from with those kind of antics.

I spent the evening on the strip at the Aria sweating my friend Steven McLoughlin in his PLO game. As it drew later into the night we decided to make our way over to the birthday gathering of Brent Roberts AKA Uncle B, in a bar near the UNLV campus. I didn't even have the energy left to hang out for one drink, and after saying hello to everyone and socializing a while I decided to leave early and returned home. I relaxed out back the rest of the night, then popped a sleeping pill in hopes of getting a good night's rest for once.

Sunday was spent exercising, watching the NBA finals, and writing this blog entry. This shit takes a while.

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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