Reality sometime hurts.
While being here in Las Vegas I realised something that never came to mind before. To be a great tournament player one needs to be prepared to put the tournament on the line many times.
Playing safe in this kind of tourney will only give you the chance to hit the money. If you want to win the whole thing – you need to take a more calculated risk. Sadly as I was cruising my way into day one I didn’t made any of those moves and started day 2 with a little more than average size chips. This was good to start the day with but not enough to survive without stealing some nice pots.
My day 2 started with a pocket jack. I was on the small blind and everyone folded to the button who raised 3 times the big blind. Unsure on his range of opening hand, I decided to raise 2 times to see where I stood. The board was perfect for me as the highest card there was a 10 with no flush or straight draw. The player to my left, Adam Schofield (professional poker player) decided to check the board to me. At this moment loads of things came to my mind. Is he trying to trap me with a higher pocket pair? Did he hit is set on that low board? The only way for me to find out was to fire a pot size bet – so that’s what I did.
He took a good 4 minute think and decided to call. What could he be holding to take so long to make the call I ask myself? Could he be on an Ace ten, Ace king perhaps and hope for an Ace or king on the turn. Or is he thinking of bluffing the turn and trying to steal this pot from me. The turn came and a second 10 came on the board making it scary but I was pretty sure he didn’t have the 10 in his hand – so it was a good card for me. He checked again and I sat there and decided to have another go at the pot. This time since I was pretty sure to be in front I decided to go for some value and shot 4K. He took another five minutes staring at me. He said “you got the 10 Sir”? At this moment I was pretty sure he was holding a better pair then me since the only card he seem scared of was the second 10.
My only option was to either fold or to go in the tank and push him all in for is tournament. The pot already had half my chips in it and at this point I was pretty sure the only way to win the hand would have been to bluff the pot but the river came and a king dropped in the middle. Now he decided to fired a massive value bet and my only option was to either fold or call and most likely being behind. It took me ages but I was unable to fire a third time and mucked my card for the fold. This hand put me on the tilt from the start of the day. 3 hands later the dealer dealt me an 8 and I raised 2 times the blind hoping for a call and a lovely board. The board was indeed good as 994 came. I was in position so my opponent made a continuation bet and I instantly raised. He decided to call. turn was a blank and he checked to me so I bet again. But this is where I made another mistake my bet was to low and he called.
A Jack came on the river and the caller decided to now bet 3000 chips. I thought to myself is he trying to suck me in or is he trying to steal the pot. The bet was not high enough for a bluff but at the same time a bell rang and I was pretty sure I was behind. Anyway I decided to call and he turns Jack 8 suited for the pair of jacks. Unlucky me or maybe I deserved that hand since I played the board poorly.
A few hands later I managed to get pocket queens. This time I was on 24K left and decided that this hand was going to be the one for me. I am on the button and there is one caller and one raiser so I raised 3 times the first raiser. He thinks for a moment and calls me a few second later we are heads up. Now I thought to myself no ace king on this board please and I will push in all of my chips. The flop came Ace 6 deuce. What a horrible board! The caller checked to me so I have to fire a bet to put myself in the hand. I get an instant all in re raise for my tournament. I have no option there as this player obviously has the goods, I was forced to fold and now my 47K was to 18K and this only after an hour and a half.
An hour later as I am not catching any cards in the small blind I get K J. 3 players limped in so I decide to re raised and get 2 calls. The board comes K J 6. This is a pretty nice board for me and I decide to bet into it. The player to my left re -raise my bet and at this time I thought to myself this is now or never! I push all in and he instantly calls me. We are both holding K J but his hand is a little scary. His king jack are suited and even though there is no flush draw yet I can only split the pot or lose it on runner runner flush.
The dealer turns a club and I am thinking that’s it! I guess the river will give him a flush and as I was looking at the river card coming – the 9 of clubs came to fill my opponents flush. That was the end of me and the WSOP.
It has been a great experience but the feeling of leaving the table is unexplainable. Of all the tournaments I have played in, this river will haunt me forever. At least I believe I have played pretty well and I now know how it feels to sit down with some of the best poker players in the business. It is simple – play your game and don’t be scared, give it your best and if you are meant to do well you will, if the cards go the wrong way there will always be another game.
Keep your head up and learn from this experience. I hope everyone of you one day have a chance to go and feel the thrill of the WSOP it is something I have enjoyed and I have learned a lot from.
Till next time people.