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Playing My First World Series of Poker Main Event

by Niall Smyth |  Published: Jul 12, '11


Here’s a few lines on my first ever World Series of Poker main event. To be perfectly honest I was pretty nervous going into the day as I’d played three events this Series and hadn’t cashed in any. Failing to make it past level 4 in two of them.

So with this on my back and the fact I haven’t played a live Texas hold’em tournament since the Irish Open, my nerves just weren’t the best.

When I sit at the table there is only one player I recongise is Sandiep Khosa an excellent tournament and cash game player from England. Great, but then when most of the other people start saying its their first main event i was willing to put up with the inconvience of Sandiep for what looked like a fairly tight-passive table.

The first level or two hours was fairly uneventful and most pots were small but I did manage to chip up to 34k from a starting stack of 30K. I mainly used the time trying to get to know the players at the table. The most memorable person was an old guy of 65 years of age who had told us he was playing in his first tournament ever and that his brother bought him in. Now as unbelivable as this sounds after a few hands of play it became obvious he really didnt know what he was doing.

He was calling raises and reraises with any ace, he min bet when he was first to act everytime call reraises and min bet again on turn and river most of the time calling the river with any pair or any ace.

The biggest laugh of the day was when i three-barreled him with K high and he called me down with an underpair to the board. Everyone said i should have known better, truth is I did I just hate leaving troops behind.

The 2nd level was fun for me it was when i really learnt nearly everyone was playing tight. The pot was raised and got two callers so on the button I called with the trusty 5Heart Suit 3Heart Suit. Flop comes A-J-6, excellent ha! The original raiser bets just over half pot, I think I’ll try one raise to try steal it incase he has a pair. So I min raise him plus a couple of hundred and he tank folds and shows A-Q. He gives me the stare and I give him the reassuring tap of the table and say nice fold. Now its really time to open up the game.

So I start getting more agressive and am playing a lot more hands when i pick up the A-A, I raise pre and get one caller. Flop comes 9-high, I bet and he reraises, I put him on a-9, 10-10, J-J only maybe i was being a bit tight with the range who knows. I check call turn and river bets but think i might have missed some value by not reraising river. It’s hard to know really though. So next hand gets dealt, i look down at what, A-A again unbelievable.

So aggressive French guy to my right opens for a raise. I opt for the reraise for two reasons one no one will believe I’m that strong and people were always trying to see cheapish flops with loads of limpers or one raises getting called. So I thought it was best to isolate.

Flop came queen high with three hearts and i had the ace of hearts. It gets checked to me I decided to bet the pot cause I thought it would look quite weak and I get called straight away.

The turn brings a low blank. I fire just over a half-pot bet, the French guy tanks for like 5 minutes and folds, he told me after that he was thinking of pushing but never told me what he had. This brought me up to about 50k.

Another nice pot I picked up was in level 3, with the blinds at 150-300, it goes limp, limp I look down at 5-5 and decide to join the limping party try get in cheap and flop a set. It folds to the button who opts to put in a raise to 1,500.

He is fairly tight so i’m pretty sure he isnt stealing. Small blind now calls, the two limpers fold and I decide to risk it as both players had 30k plus.

The flop comes K-5-4 with two spades. Now to my surprise the small blind bets out, 3,000 into a 5400 pot. I think about reraising but because i think the original raiser could easily have A-K, A-A or maybe K-K and is likely to raise again I elect to just call. Well sometimes good plans do work and the player raises to 8k into a 11.4k pot now to my surprise the small blind calls again and it’s back to me with the pot at 27.4k at this stage the respective stacks are 21k.

Here is the point were I’m not sure If i could have played the hand better but i elected to move all in, cause I though there was a chance someone was on a flush draw. OR tanks for 4-5 mins and decides to fold then the small blind goes into the tank for 3 mins and folds showing a king. This was a very nice pot.

OK the last big pot I’ll mention in case I’m boring you, we had come back from dinner and remember the old guy well he was still in? well he had even become more erratic, calling massive all in bets with ace high a lot and winning every second one to stay alive.

It was funny as long as you weren’t the one he was dogging. So our friend limps under the gun and it folds around to the aggressive French guy in the small blind who raises, I’d notice though lately he had been trying to isolate our friend a lot.

I look down at KSpade Suit 10Spade Suit and join the party our friend joins too.

The flop brings Q-J-6. The pot was about 3.6k. The small blind bet out 1.5k, I call and so does the old guy. Turn gin or an ace. The small blind checks and because the old guy had been so erratic and could do anything I check also. He bets out 1.5k, the small blind calls and now i reraise to 4.5k, the old guy pushes his last 10k into the pot and then back to the French guy in the small blind. He literally tanked for 10mins before folding. I, of course, called. Showing my nuts and the old guy shows 7-6 and is drawing dead. I moved to around 85k.

Last level of the night was wierd one I’d already started drinking so I’d be able to sleep when I got home but ended up having a few too many maybe, cause I was opening every pot I could if someone hadn’t entered in front of me and I got near zero resistance, most of the guys were talking about making it to day 2 and not wanting to bust on the last level. I hoovered up around 20k in blinds, antes and continuation flop bets. I think one hand went to the turn which I also managed to win.

The day ended and I finished the day with 108k, I really couldn’t have asked for a better table for my first main event and know its going to get a lot tougher from here on in

Luckily for me I’ll have a big stack goin into day 2. Hope you enjoyed my first day adventure and if you’d like updates you can follow me on twitter @niallsmythers

Niall Smyth is the 2011 Irish Open champion. He won €550,000 for his victory as well as another €100,000 for being the last online qualifier standing in the Sole Survivor last longest competition. He plays poker online and writes at

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


over 6 years ago

really? that's a "good one"?