I went to the View Lounge at the Sands for the launch party of World Gaming Magazine. Honestly, the lounge itself wasn't bad, the view is nice, and the place is at least slightly on the glam side. However, given the "VIP lounge" status, I would say it kinda missed my expectations. The party wasn't bad too, just a bit too business-y. For the first time ever, I ran out of name cards (of my day job) on a poker trip. No kidding. The party obviously needed to accommodate the non-gambler-guests who mostly came in suits and smoked cigars. It felt exactly like a business drink and I was not too eager to stay.
I think I got out of Sands after an hour or so, and I went to this very good hotpot place. I have no idea what the name was or where it was as friends took me but they served crabs in a pot. Anyways, would wanna recommend but don't know how.
After hotpot my plan was to go back to the hotel and have an early night. Before I knew it I was dragged to Lion's Bar at the MGM for "a quick drink". A quick drink that turned into a six hours drinkathon. Thanks Celina and Fred and Daren for giving me a sleep-deprived Main Event. We eventually left MGM at around 4am and I was finally in bed by 4:30. Life is good.
Main Event - The build up to the big crash
I got up way earlier than planned (thanks to alcohol) so I woke Terrence Chan up for brunch. We ate and we headed down to the poker floor. When I sat down at my table I saw Player of the Year favorite Kitty Kuo two seats to my right.
Notable Hand #1: I limped with two red eights in early position for $50. A guy behind me raised it up to $250 and another guy called. I called to see a flop of 9h 6h 2c. I checked and the raiser continued for $500. The third person called and I saw a squeezing opportunity. (What's the chance of them having a 9 right?) I raised to $1600 and the original raiser called. The turn was a 5h giving me a straight-flush draw together with my 2nd pair. I check-called $3000. The river was a black 8 and the raiser checked. I checked behind with my rivered set and he showed pocket sixes for a flopped set.
Wow, ugly suckout All Skills.
Notable Hand #2: Kitty raised to $300 from late position and I looked down at 9To on the button. 9To is my absolute favorite hand so I decided to re-raise poor Kitty to $900. She called and we saw a flop of As Qs 8x. She checked to me so I had to continuation-bet my gutshot straight draw for $1500. She called. The turn was a blank and she checked again! This time I checked behind and silently thanked her for letting me see a free card. The river was a Jack and BINGO! She checked for the third time so I'm convinced she hadn't got a higher straight. I bet out $5000, she asked "Phil did you river me?" and I called. I said "yeah" and showed her.
OMG I SUCKED OUT AGAIN Again, all skills.
Notable Hand #3: I checked my A8o in big blind after Button limped in for $200 and Small Blind called. The flop was 853 rainbow and I bet $375 after SB checked. Button folded but SB called. The turn was an Ace giving me top two pairs. I bet $600 and SB called again. The river was a 7 and SB bet $1200. I spoke out and asked "deuce-four?" and he instant-replied "yeah". I obviously took that as a big NO and announced all-in. He snap-called and showed 24o right in my face. Boy, did that put me on mad monkey tilt. I not only donked nearly half my stack away, I also got myself all the way down to the 20k starting stack, and I gave the guy exactly what he wanted after he told me the truth! (I asked the Tournament Director if a penalty was due since the guy told me the truth which is not allowed in table talks related to one's own hand. TD Danny gave him a warning instead. *eyerollz*)
Notable Hand #4: I've built my stack back up to around 40k when I raised to $600 under-the-gun with AhQh and two guys called. The flop was T83 rainbow but no heart. I continuation-bet for $1200 and it folded to the button who was also the big stack. He had about 45k and he had been bullying the table pretty hard. He raised to $3600. I looked at him and couldn't see his stack because his arm was in the way. I asked "How much are you playing?" but he refused to lift his arm. I sensed weakness in him so I announced a re-raise to $7200. He snap-folded.
Notable Hand #5 & #6: These were back-to-back hands and one led to another so I'll talk about them together. The blinds were 600/1200 and ante was 100. On the first hand, I raised to $2800 preflop with Ad9d. The same Big Stack from Hand#4 called and we saw a flop of KJx with two diamonds. He bet out for $4000. I raised it to $12000 with my nut-flush draw and he paused and called. The turn was a non-diamond-non-Ace and he put me all-in. That was probably the worst news for me. If he had shoved it in on the flop, I would gamble. But now, I counted down my stack carefully and found that I had $27k and the pot was a bit over $32k. The odds was against me. I folded. The hand right after, the same Big Stack raised to $4000 from middle position and another guy with a $24k stack called. I looked down at 56o. It was a junk hand but then there was $10200 in the pot. I had $27k left and given the chance that they would both fold, the urge to squeeze was too huge to resist. I announced all-in. Big Stack tanked for about three minutes, he stared at me and the short stack, and finally called with AKo. Short stack got out of the way and I paired up my 5 to win the hand. All of a sudden I was the biggest donkey in the house and my stack was a sizable $60k.
Notable Hand #7: It's dinner time and the clock had stopped. Three players limped to me on the last hand before the break and I look down at KJo on the button. I limped for $1200. Small Blind (let's call him The Swede) raised to $8000 and everyone folded around to me. I kept close count on everyone's stack and I knew he had a stack of about 28k. I took his raise as a standard pre-break steal attempt (as everyone else had got up from their seats and left the table) so I announced all-in. To my surprised he snap-called with KQo! I pilled a Jack off the river and stacked the guy. My stack catapulted to 92k.
The blow up - An expensive dinner and a questionable call
Everything seemed nice and sweet at dinner and I was drooling at the fact of making Day 2 with a respectable stack. However, everything fell apart right after I got back to the table.
Fallout Hand #1: This was the first hand dealt after dinner and I looked down at KK. Small stack with 20k shipped it in and obviously I snap-called. He showed K9o and happened to make an improbable straight. Stack down to 72k.
Fallout Hand #2: I was not involved in this hand but it played a part in my fallout. A guy stacked another with 55 versus AA after he flopped a set.
Fallout Hand #3: This was the very next hand and I had TT on the button and the same guy who flopped a set limped from early position. I raised it to $6000 (blinds were 800/1600, ante was 200). He flat-called. The flop was 2c 4h 6h. He checked to me and I bet $10000 trying to take the pot down. He re-raised me all-in almost instantly. This was another 56k to call and the pot was $36400. Given that he limp-called preflop, I couldn't put him on an over-pair. I've narrowed his range down to 22-99 and AQ+. Given his image, I would give a not-small probability on semi-bluffing a gutshot with 33 or 55. I would also give a non-zero probability that he's riding on his just-flopped-set image and doing a stone-cold bluff. If he had 22, 44, 66, I was behind by about 8 to 1. If he had 77, 88 or 99, I was ahead by about 9 to 1. If he had 33 or 55, I was ahead by about 3 to 1. I had to call 56k to win $92400 which was exactly 3 to 2. More precisely, I had to risk 56k plus my tournament life to win $92400 plus the chip-lead (148k was 5% of the chips in play with 70 players left and would safely ride me to Day 2). If I folded I would be able to see slightly less than 10 orbits as blinds/ante were moving up to 1000/2000/300 within two minutes. In addition, this same guy had shown a 6-high bluff earlier in the game when he open-shoved the flop. (I know, white noise is bad for the brain.) I opted to gamble and I called. (Very questionable, I know.) The guy showed me pocket fours for back-to-back flopped set. I blanked out and exited the tournament in spectacular fashion. Life is good.
As I said, everything fell apart after dinner, but I didn't build my stack without much suckouts so I guess it's karma (thanks Celina for reminding me). Overall, I had a great time this weekend and I would hope to do better next time.
At the mean time, Merry Christmas and good luck!