I decided that for Reno, I would just play the last three events which included the $5K buy-in for the WPT.
We began with what was a good turn out for the $1K NL holdem. 201 players took part for a first prize of over $70k. We then had 149 take their seat for the $1,500 NL. I think that my result in all three events, will highlight what a fine line it is between success and failure in this game.
Having gotten lucky early on the $1K when I busted AA with my JJ by hitting another Jack on the river (my opponent slow played his Aces extremely well and did not deserve to get unlucky the way he did), I went on to a big chip lead. It was starting to look really good for until I mixed it up with the second highest stack on my table. Having flopped a pair with a flush draw, calling his bet on the flop and turning two pair, I made a big re-raise after he bet the turn. He called with his nut flush draw that hit on the river. I couldn’t recover after that and eventually busted around 44th place.
The $1,500 started very badly when I had to muck KK pre flop. Although I only lost 250 from my starting stack of 2000 - it was an indication that it was not going to be an easy day. Just before the two hour mark I dwindled down to just 1K when my patience was finally rewarded. I tripled up with JJ and then busted two short-stacks with AA on the last hand before the break. 7K for me at this stage was a very good position to be in. However, I was not able to gather momentum and eventually busted in 32nd spot.
The WPT began with 361 players and a first prize of over $680K. I could not have started any better than with KK in the first hand (won a little pot) and AA in the second hand. I played the hand exactly how my opponent had done in the first event by getting JJ to go all-in after a baby flop.
Doubling up at such an early stage was obviously very welcome. Especially as the now empty seat to my left was filled by Toto Leonidas. You may recall that Toto took 3rd in the PPT event at San Jose and that he is always willing to play a lot of pots. I knew it would a fun day with Toto after he raised the first two hands.
It was odds-on that Toto and I would eventually clash.
Three hours in to the event, having not improved my stack size, it was time to make a move. With blinds at 100-200 and an ante of 25, I limped in first position with AK. Toto immediately raised it to 1200. I decided to just call. I doubted if the flop of 9-2-2 (two diamonds) helped Toto in any way. I checked and called another 1200 bet. I also checked and called 1500 after a six hit the turn. As you can tell by my play here, I was calling Toto all the way on this one. The turn brought a Q and another bet of 6,000 from Toto. I must admit that this was not a great card for me. Also, I only had 12K left at this stage. But call I did and Toto mucked.
As the day progressed and we saw the field dwindle down to just over 100 - I had a healthy stack of over 50K while Toto was now down to 30K. And then the hand of the night for me and Toto. A player accidentally exposed an A-5os as he mucked. By coincidence, I had been dealt the A-5c in late position and decided to raise it to 2400. Toto (as he had done a few times) came over the top with a further 4000. It seemed obvious that Toto probably held a pair and so I decided to play the hand. I liked the flop of A-T-7. I checked and Toto bet 5K. I re-raised fully expecting Toto to muck. Holding TT and flopping a set, Toto must have thought it was Xmas. Play was stopped soon after and I had exactly 20,600
(the exact amount I had after the second hand of the day).
With 100 players coming back for the second day, my position of 73rd was not the greatest - but I had time. However, I didn’t start too well and soon found myself at 13K but at least we were now down to less than 60. I just needed a couple of hands. They came in quick succession and I was back in good shape with over 50K.
One topic in poker revolves around the luck factor in the game. Over the long run, I would suggest that luck plays less of a role. However, over a short period, it can be devastating to some players. For the third time in the late stages of a WPT event, I have seen Allen Cunningham go out in a brutal fashion. Allen is a great player that plays a very careful and calculating game. He also tends to have the best hand when going all-in. He had just lost with KK v A6 (the A6 was short-stacked and on the BB) when he was again dealt KK a few hands later on the BB. Facing a raise of 2400 from a big stack in late position - Allen raised a further 10K. This was surely enough of a raise to get the 2-2 to lay down the hand? Obviously it wasn’t and Allen, with a stack of 75K was busted after a flop of 7-5-2. Although he may have been able to get away after the flop, considering his opponent - it would have been a great lay-down.
Down to less than 50 and counting, enter the one and only Dan Harrington.
Dan joined our table with a fair size stack of around 70K. He soon increased this after being dealt AA v AK on just his second hand on the table. By this stage, I had a few unfavorable flops to some big hands and found myself back down to 20K - I needed a hand quickly.
Dan had no need to do anything, he was in great shape with well over 120K. But they don’t call him “Action Dan” for nothing. With blinds of 800-1600 and 200 antes. Dan raised a further 5K on the SB. The BB had about 70K and was playing steady enough. When he re-raised Dan with a further 25K, we all waited to see the outcome. Holding A-Qos, Dan decided to gamble with an all-in bet that was eventually called by the T-T of BB. Dan flopped a Q and then rivered another T for a straight. Dan was running good!
In the meantime, my patience looked like it would pay off when I was at last dealt a hand. Holding K-K, I faced an UTG raise of 5K and a call from Dan - I obviously moved all-in for a further 15k. The initial raiser mucked but Dan, who now had chips to spare, had no trouble calling the extra 15K with T-T. A ten flopped and I was gone in 42nd spot.
Poker can sometimes be cruel. You can play well and not make mistakes and yet suffer for very long periods. Having seen many good players suffer such a fate - I will not bemoan my luck. It happens to all of us. We just have to play well and hope that things turn around. With four months of major events coming up - there will be plenty of opportunity to get lucky.
Until next time - play well, get lucky and get even!
Peter “The Poet” Costa