The tension in the tournament room was thick as we waited to begin play on Day 1B of the WSOP’s main event. I surprised myself because I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be as a first timer, perhaps because I knew I had more experience in big casino tournament play than the great majority of the Internet qualifying field present for the festivities.
The table was filled with fellow ‘net qualifiers as I had hoped, and one pro, Patrik Antonius, himself a cool customer. I rarely saw his expression change and he didn’t crack a smile until the board came 9-7-7-9-9 in a hand in which he held a seven and another player tried to bluff him on the turn with 4-4 and sucked out for a chop.
I was hopeful coming in that I could either steal a lot of blinds or limp pre-flop and steal a lot of small pots, but this proved not to be the case. The players were aggressive in defending blinds and stealing blinds, so it seems they shared some of the same strategy.
I earned my first notable pot when I limped for 50 with 9-9 and Antonius raised it to 225 or so in the cutoff seat and it was folded to me. I decided to see what would develop and called. After a flop of K-7-5 rainbow, I checked to Antonius and he fired out 400. Unsure where I stood, I called to see what he would do on the turn. That turn card was the oh-so-creamy nine. I checked, he bet 1,400 and I check raised to 3,200. He thought a long while and called. The turn was a jack of hearts and he folded to a 3,000 bet. This put me up to 15,000.
A loose player to my right managed to take most of my profit back with 10s-6s for a flush and Jc-4c for two pair.
As we played in the second level, Nolan Dalla announced that Phil Hellmuth, who was on the featured ESPN table, had busted and the room was filled with cheers.
And soon after I make my move up the charts. I pick up my second pair of pocket rockets on the day and raise it up to 525 and the loose player to my left smooth calls. After a ten high flop I bet 900, he raises to 2,500 and I push him all in for 4,000 more. He shows A-T and the aces hold.
A few hands later I’m in the SB with 2-2. Antonius makes it 600 and the button, another loose player, calls. I call as well and we see a flop of A-2-2. I check to Antonius, who bets 1,200 and the button raises to 3,000. I smooth call and Antonius wisely folds. The turn is double checked and my 3,000 bet on the river is called. I had hoped for the case ace to river so I could push. No way that player is going to fold in that spot.
Antonius cracks another smile after I turn over the quads. “I had a big ace,” he said. “I knew you had something.”
“Yeah, what else could I have had? You had an ace and you know he had an ace,” I said in agreement.
Our table is broken soon after and I take my 32K chips back near the featured table area. The table is full of internet qualifiers – two from Poker Stars, one from Party Poker, two from Poker Room, one from Interpoker, one from Poker Share and one from Ultimate Bet.
I find this table to be even better than the last one – no pros, and a happy go lucky bunch on top of that. I’m able to build my stack up to 36K when I hit a bump in the road.
A player in middle position raises to 1,000 and I find aces for the fourth time on the day and pop it to 2,500. He calls and then pushes for 10K on a flop of 5h-6h-Jc. I call immediately, but get a disgusted look when I see 7h-8h. Too many damn outs. He hits the Th on the turn and I can’t catch up on the river with my nut flush draw.
That pushes me down to about 23K and around that time we hear loud applause begin across the room that soon spreads across the pavilion.
“Doyle must have been eliminated,” I said, and soon thereafter a tournament director announces the departure of “Texas Dolly,” who also started us off this day with the line “Shuffle up and deal.”
“The difference between Doyle and Hellmuth,” one player opines, “is that they cheer for Doyle when he busts out because they respect him and they cheer when Hellmuth busts out because they hate him.”
Meanwhile, it’s getting late. We begin the sixth level at 1:20 a.m. and two hours are still left before the play ends. I meander for the last level until I get aces for the fifth time and raise the 400 BB to 1,200 under the gun. A Sweedish kid, who to this point had played well, decides to double up or go home and pushes his 10K into the pot. After I call he turns up Q-J offsuit. Huh?
He’s drawing dead by the turn. Thanks for coming, have a nice flight home.
I finish the night with Q-Q and a player folds to my reraise. The tournament directors announce that play has ended and the room cheers. Hand shaking and congratulations commence between all the players at my table. The player in the Yankees jacket who folded to my reraise on the final hand comes over, shakes my hand and tells me he thought I was the best player at the table. I was obviously honored by that gesture.
I count the chips before bagging them and receiving my new table assignment. The finall tally is 40,825, my high point of the day and tops on this table. We are hustled to our new tables to leave our chips and sign some documents. My second day on Tuesday looks promising as I saw no familiar professional faces.