2005 WSOP Main Event – Michael1123’s Recap
posted in MTT, Poker Strategy on 24 May 2017 by

Michael1123 had a great main event in the 2005 WSOP. He knocked out legendary Barry Greenstein and finished in the money!

This post will basically be a detailed account of my run in the Main Event of the WSOP, along with all the hands and table compositions that I can remember, before I forget many of the hands and details. This is primary for anyone that is interested to see what it is like to play in a major multi-day event, what the style and quality of play is like, anyone interested in the details of how I did on each day, and how I built such a big stack (for a while at least) and made it deep into the tournament without being involved in many coin flips, and such.

I drew the first day out of three separate day 1 fields, which after having experienced this, I’m very gracious for. Day 1b (second day 1) is considered by many to be the best possible draw, but I don’t think Day 1a is much farther behind. Day 1c blows, since you then start your day 2 the next day, which means you’re guaranteed to not get a full night’s sleep and no time to relax, and if you go deep into the tournament this can really wear you down.

I had been at the Rio for about 3 weeks at this point, so I was very familiar with the Rio poker room, since that’s where I spent the majority of my waking time. However things were very different already. Tons of spectators were surrounding basically every single table (roped off to be kept at least a few feet away), and it was hard to even make it to your table, wading through tons of people. The Rio, for the entire World Series, has had this giant room that looks like it normally holds concerts and such set up just for poker. The room was basically divided into quadrants for the length of the WSOP, and each quadrant had at least 50 tables. One was for single table satellites (which are kind of like SNGs, but they only pay one winner out of 10 players – with basically any level of buy-in from $55 to $1k tables), then they had an area for all of their cash games. A third area was for the WSOP events that were being played, and a fourth was used to hold other smaller MTTs later in the day, as well as the big WSOP events when they wouldn’t fit in just one section.

Well, for the start of day 1 of the main event, every single table in the room was dealing just for the main event, and that was pretty amazing to realize. It was even crazier to think that this room would be just as full the next day with almost 2,000 more players, and then the next with the third group of another 2,000 players.

I made my way to my first table, and recognized no one at or anywhere around my table (except for … Shannon Elizabeth at the table behind me), unlike in the other events that I played in, where there was typically one rather well known poker pro at each table. We waited for things to get settled for a while, and then the tournament director announced it was time to shuffle up and deal.

Day 1:

In the first hour or so (blinds at 25/50, with 2 hour levels), I had noticed that at least 3 of the players at the table seemed like complete donkeys, that had absolutely no idea what they were doing, with possibly 2 other decent to good players, and then an empty seat that hadn’t been filled yet. With one guy I had a rock solid read on him whenever he got a monster hand. He’d seem amazingly nervous, shaking, his face would turn red, etc. It was shocking how bad he was at keeping his emotions in check, and I’d bet money that it was his first time ever playing in a live game. Another guy I remember made some ridiculous play of like calling a bet on the flop and turn with KQ high and no pair or draw. At the showdown he’s shown a better hand and he flips up his cards, like he’s unaware that he’s not required to show what he had, or he’s not real sure if the other guy won or not. Stunningly how donkish these guys were.

I didn’t get much in the way of cards over this time, but took cheap flops when I could, since I knew I could outplay the majority of players at this table post flop, and get a good deal of chips from them if I made a big hand. I missed basically every flop I saw though, and had dropped to about 9k in the first hour, which obviously didn’t bother me with how deep stacked we were. Finally our open seat was filled, and it was Tuan Le who sat down (winner of two WPT events this year). However, like two hands after he sits down, our table is one of the first to break up (somehow already 20-30 people are busted in the first hour and a half or so), and I get moved to a new table.

At my new table, I again recognize no players, however I very soon realize that there is a major “table captain” here. The guy is sitting just to my left and already has a mountain of chips, many in small denominations, and I realize he must’ve busted out the guy whose seat I replaced. I estimate that he has around 22k or so in chips already, and he’s raising and reraising almost every hand. One of the players makes a comment about how many hands he’s raising when the guy is away from the table for a moment, but then he made a strange comment about how he must be picking up a ton of monsters, because he always seems to have a big hand when he bets. Sure enough, he comes back and the next few hands he’s applying crazy amounts of pressure on players with very large bets, and he always seems to be giving off the vibe of him having a monster hand, which I know is just not possible every time. Very soon after this, he ends up playing this absolutely monster pot (at least 16k), pressuring the other player on every street, until he puts the guy all in on the river. The flop was like AQ6 rainbow, the turn is an 8 of spades (putting a flush draw on the board), and the river is a red king. He raised preflop, was reraised, and called, check called on the flop (or lead – can’t quite remember which), check raised big on the turn, and shoved on the river. Trying to put him on a hand, the best I can think of is JT of spades. The other player delays for a bit and finally calls with AK, and the table captain shows something like 97 of spades after a player requests to see his cards. The player seemed to be a very good European player (with an intimidating style, somewhat reminiscing of Devilfish), but also seemed to be applying way too much unbridled aggression for the early rounds. All together, the entire table seemed to be much more skilled than my first table, sadly, which I felt that I could have really controlled later on in the day if it stayed together.

As far as my play during the second level, I don’t remember the hands, but I do remember that I missed at least 3 big draws in rather big multiway pots and had fallen down to about 5k-5.8k in chips at the 2nd break.

When I got back to my table, the blinds were at 100/200, so I still wasn’t really all that short stacked, and certainly wasn’t anywhere near push and fold mode. Soon after the break I picked up 66 in middle position, and limped in along with 2-3 other limpers. The BB seemed to delay a second before checking, like he briefly considered raising, but decided against it. The flop came AJ6, and the blinds check to me. I figure that this is the type of flop that had to hit someone else in some way, and so I bet about 400 or so into this ~800 pot, trying to make it look like a feeler bet with a weak ace or a jack. The limpers quickly fold, clearly having no piece of the board, and I’m feeling kind of sad about that, until it gets around to the BB who quickly announces that he’s putting me all in. I call instantly, positive that he doesn’t have a higher set, and he flips over A6, and his lonely 2 outer. I’m also happy that he didn’t have AJ, which would’ve given him a couple more outs. Blanks are on the turn and river, and I’m back above the amount of chips I started with for the first time in the tournament really.

I turn up the aggression more now, and steal a few pots, adding to my chip count, when the next big hand comes up. I raise preflop with K. Table captain calls, and everyone else gets out of the way, probably partly because I think we were the two chip leaders at the table at this point, and most of them played what I call a tight passive style of play (only plays big hands, no bluffing, almost no semi-bluffing – never that big of bets if they do semi-bluff, etc.). The flop came A-K-rag rainbow, and I lead out with a standard bet of around 800, and the table captain makes it about 2000. I had been raising quite a few hands after my double up, and considering his loose and very aggressive style of play I thought he could easily make this play with nothing, expecting to pick up the pot there unless I have a very big hand. He’d also likely make this play with a weaker king or a medium pocket pair, so I decide to call.

The turn brings a queen, and I check to him. He then proceeds to fire out a very big bet of around 5k-6k. I feel confident that I have the best hand, and I consider my options. I don’t feel he’ll pay me off if I raise him, but I think it’s likely that he’ll fire on the river for the rest of my chips, so after thinking it over I just call. The turn brings a T, which is a major scare card, since if he did have AT, AJ, or KJ, he just got there. I check, and he hesitantly checks, and I quickly show my KQ, knowing that it’s the best hand after he checked, and he mucks. From his reaction to seeing my cards, I gathered that I did have him beat on the flop, and I’m guessing he either had a low pocket pair, a weaker king, or possibly even KT which did river two pair and had picked up a straight draw on the turn.

Now a little bit of a back-story on the player in this next hand. He seemed to get somewhat short stacked rather quickly, and then switched to all in or fold mode, even though he had 3-4k in chips during this time and the blinds were only 100/200, but he never got a call in about 4 preflop all ins, so he had built his stack up to around 6k by this hand. The ESPN cameras also seemed to love him since while playing he was watching a portable DVD player to the table. He was watching Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels while playing (he said he had brought Rounders for later in the day as well). Just before the break, after time for the round had ran out actually, he raised my BB from the button to about 5xBB-6xBB, making it a pretty nice pot already, and I put him all in with AQ. He thought about it for a while and then mucked.

A little while later, another interesting hand happens between us two. A not so good passive player limps in from mid position right in front of me, and I raise to 4xBB with 77 (level 4 now with 100/200 blinds and 25 ante, so that would be for 800). The table captain, now pretty short stacked, shoves all in behind me, and it quickly folds back to me. I ask for a count, and it’s somewhere around 4k in chips, which would certainly give me major pot odds for a coin flip, but is still not a spot where I want to call if I’m dominated by a higher pair. Looking at him I can’t pick up any reads, so I start talking with him a little. I say that it’s either a race or he has me dominated, which I felt gave away that I had a medium pocket pair, and he didn’t really react. Then I jokingly asked him if he wanted a call after I had given my hand away, and he laughed and said that there was a lot of money already in the pot, so he’d be happy with that, and I still can’t read anything into his reaction. After a minute of deliberation I decide it’s not worth the risk at this point and fold my hand face up, showing that I did have a decent hand, and he mucks, with him soon after telling me that he had AKs, which I do believe. He had also earlier just called in the exact same situation (same player limped, I raised) with TT, and then showed the hand after betting a rag flop after I checked and folded. He had more chips then though, so while I considered that, I knew it wasn’t all that relevant, as he’d certainly shove with AK and AA-TT in that spot.

A while after this, probably on level 5 with 150/300 blinds, the player UTG raises to 3xBB and it folds around to me in the SB and I look down and find QQ. I decide not to take too much of a risk and to see the flop before raising, so I just call. The table captain is in the BB now and he shoves all in. UTG thinks about it for a while and while he’s thinking I’m trying to figure out what I’ll do if he does call, and I may even consider folding it if he calls or raises. Finally UTG folds, and its back to me, and I tell the table captain that I don’t think I can fold this one, and call. I show my queens and he flips over AK, and I win the race (my one race win in the tournament, yay!) and bust the former table captain, and end up basically taking over his old role, but with much more controlled aggression, I think. Basically I was just looking to steal a lot of small pots preflop and at the flop, and not fighting over every single big pot unless I had a big hand.

I steal some pots here and there and then another interesting hand develops at the same level. UTG limps in, UTG+1 calls, and 2 more people call, and then I look down and find KQ. There’s already a lot of money in the pot, with the blinds at 150/300, so I decide to try to take this one down here and make it 1500. It folds around to UTG who thinks for a minute and then goes all in for about 4.5k and everyone folds to me. He’s on the other side of the table, so I can’t get that good of a look at him, but my read is that he doesn’t have a monster and doesn’t want a call. Considering the action, my read is that he has a small/medium pocket pair and thinks that I’m just attempting to steal. I decide to call considering the circumstances, and he shows AK, which is the first of just 3 times in the tournament that I called/pushed all in and was an underdog (the third of which being my last big hand). He won on an all rag board, and I took a modest hit to my chip count.

The only other hand I remember at this table was a hand where I raised with a rather weak ace and was called by the SB. AQT flop, I bet and he calls. The turn was a rag and I think we both checked here; I may have possibly bet again. The river was a K, and he went all in for like 5k into a rather big pot, but not near the size of his chip count. I fold quickly, and then strangely he flashes an 8 and mucks his other card, and then says he had pocket 8s, with no 8 on the board. I then ask sarcastically “you called my preflop raise with J8s?” and he repeats that he had pocket eights. When I ask why he only showed one card if that was the case, he has no explanation. It was strange though, apparently he thought showing that eight would throw me into some insane level of tilt, but it really didn’t affect me in the least.

Soon after this, I switch tables again, and approaching the table I curse my luck as I see Barry Greenstein sitting at it. Happily though, I notice he’s rather short stacked. I arrive at the table with probably around 18k in chips.

I’m not really involved in any big pots for the next hour or so (when the dinner break starts), so I’m just observing the players and such. Again there doesn’t seem to be any bad players at the table, which again makes me wish I could’ve kept that first table for longer. I also notice a guy wearing a PS shirt and a hat with the name “Twin Caracass” on it, so I assume him to be the Twin Caracass from PS, who I’ve played with a good deal and know to be a very good, aggressive player. He’s somewhat short stacked as well though, and doesn’t seem to be raising many pots.

After the dinner break the blinds are up to 200/400, and Barry starts to move all in at least 1/3 of the time, everyone folding to him. I quickly notice that he’s playing the standard short stacked system, and am willing to call his all ins with any decent hands, but haven’t picked them up on the occasions he moves in. One time he moves in on the button and then shows AA after the blinds fold and says that when he puts the chips in, he has the goods, but obviously I realize that this is just an attempt to keep everyone folding to him, which surprisingly they do. I’m not sure if no one was getting cards or if they were scared of him, but he moved in at least 6 times while I was at the table without any calls, and often had people either folding the blind to him or limping in when he was in the BB, which I thought was especially bad given his stack size. So during this level I picked up a weak ace in middle position on 3 different occasions on Barry’s BB and raised, and was willing to call an all in from him while he was short stacked, since I knew he was desperate, but he folded each time along with everyone else.

After a round or two, Barry moves all in at the cutoff. The SB doesn’t see Barry’s all in and announces “call” and throws in the money just to complete the BB, and a floor is called. They make a very weird and incorrect ruling (in my opinion at least) that he has to leave the 500 out there but is still allowed to fold, which would be the standard ruling if he just threw the chips out there, but typically when someone announces call they hold them to that. Anyway, that guy folds, and I quickly fold my 32o as well.

Two hands later, I’m on the button, and Barry moves in again. Everyone folds to me. Like usual, I don’t look at my cards until the action gets to me (or at the very least past Barry, at this table), and I find KK. I ask for a chip count (which was about 4400 or so) and I stall for a bit, trying to coax one of the blinds to call as well, or even better raise. I call, and the blinds fold their hands. The dealers announce that there’s an all in (so that the cameras can come), and Barry shows Q9 of diamonds against my black kings, and the flop comes Q66 with one diamond. All the railbirds behind me start cheering for a Q, and the turn brings a T of diamonds, giving Barry a flush draw as well, making things interesting. But a black 3 comes on the river, and Barry reaches over to shake my hand. While I’m stacking the chips from the pot, Barry asks me my name, and I look up and see he’s writing in a copy of his new book. I give him my name, and he writes down the details of the hand and signs it, and gives it to me as he leaves the table, to do a short exit interview that ESPN is doing with all of the big names as they bust out.

At this point I’m probably at about 22k in chips when Barry is sadly replaced by a very very aggressive player with at least 40k in chips when he arrives. He quickly wins a couple preflop all in races, wins when he shoves all in on a draw once, and one suck out on another guy to build his stack to at least 60k while knocking out 4 players. While I’m stealing a good deal of blinds when he isn’t in the hand, he’s stealing my blinds, along with others, and pushing people off of hands after the flop often with big bets. It was unfortunate for me that a big stack replaced Barry’s open seat, as again it felt like I could run this table if it weren’t for this player. I easily had the second biggest stack at the table, and was easily the second most aggressive player at the table as well.

Nothing big happened until later on in the night. A very small stack (2k-3k) shoved all in UTG, just before the blinds got to him, and I felt he was definitely making a desperation move. I looked at my cards and found 77 and decided to call, and everyone else folded. He showed KJ against my 77, and won the race.

Not too long after this, I raised on a complete steal on the button and stole the blinds. Next hand I had a medium ace and it folded around to me, so I raised and stole the blinds again. Next hand I get 22 and again steal the blinds. Very next hand, 22 again, and again I raise! Immediately, the player behind me shoves all in and everyone else folds. At this point the blinds were probably 250-500, so I had made it 1500, and he had about 5500 in chips. Looking at him, and everything about how he played the hand (including immediately shoving all in, with no acting, no decision, or anything), made me strongly feel like he had AK, and after telling him that that was my feeling his reaction only made me more sure of it. I called and sure enough he shows AKo. But again, ace on the flop, and I lose another coin flip.

On the next level of 300/600 the very aggressive very big stacked player raised to 1800 on my BB and the player after him called. I looked at my cards and found 77 and pondered what to do. Usually I’m more of a post flop player, and don’t reraise too often preflop, but this guy had been raising a lot of hands. Also, the player that had called his raise was pretty weak tight and non-deceptive with an average stack. He’d surely have reraised the aggressive player with a monster and he’d almost definitely lay down a non-monster if I reraised, out of fear that I had AA or KK. I also figured that his call may make the aggressive big stack more likely to fold to a raise since he’s not positive what the other guy would do behind him. So, with all the money out there, I decided to make it 6-7kk total (don’t recall the exact number). The aggressive player briefly thought about it, and then announced all in and the other player quickly folded. Confident that the big stack probably had an over pair, I laid my hand down, sadly folding a good chunk of my stack. Later in a near identical spot I decided to shove all in with AK and both players folded.

It was about 2 am now and they announced that we had to play until we were down to 600 players, regardless of how long that took, even though we had already played well over the number of levels scheduled for the day. We had to play down to 600 so that the other two days could play the same amount of time, and then all 3 groups would fit into the room for our combined day 2. Thankfully there were just 80 players to go before this would happen, but it was still tough playing so late, after starting at noon.

The rest of the day for me was just blind steals, and sadly failed blind steals. One guy all of a sudden came over the top of me for all of my chips (with near an equal stack) twice, and I folded both times, with him flashing 22 one of the times. Largely because of the big 77 hand, the lost races, and being reraised on steals, my once 25k big stack had dwindled down to 12k by the end of day one.

More than 2/3 of the field (of day1a at least) had already been eliminated at this point though, and now I really know why the pros say that the most important thing to do on day 1 is to survive.

I’ll continue with day 2 later. Sheesh, I didn’t realize I even remembered this much from day 1, let alone that I had this much to type. But this does cover 13 hours of play, which amazingly alone would be my longest tournament to date, since I only lasted about 7-8 hours in the London EPT event, and my longest online tournament is surely less than 7 hours. Also, there were more meaningful hands on day one than in the other days since with smaller stack sizes, each big pot added or subtracted a large percentages of chips to my stack. So I don’t think the other days will take this long to type out … hopefully at least.

Posted by michael1123 on July 21, 2005 at 06:54


For day 2, the room was again packed with players (~1800 of them) and spectators. Tables are always broken up at the end of the day, and then new tables are randomly assigned at the beginning of each day. Also, at the end of each day we were given a type of plastic bag to put all of our chips in that was similar to a Ziploc bag but larger and unable to be opened without ripping. Along with our chips we’d put our registration cards into the bag to identify whose chips those were, and also give the dealers a small card with our name and exact stack size on it.

When I made my way to my new table, everyone else but one player had already taken their seats, and again I recognized no one. I was in seat #1 (directly to the left of the dealer), and there were a big pile of chips waiting at the seat to my left for the open player. I looked over at the player’s card, and it said “Howard Lederer – 55k”, and I thought to myself, “Oh shit.” Howard soon took his seat, and the dealing began, with us playing the second half of the 300/600 level with an ante of 75.

Day 2, Starting stack: 12k

Again, I wasn’t really short stacked, but I knew I needed to start winning some pots fast. I also had figured that every blind steal would add nearly 1600 to my stack, which was huge for me at the time. I started the round with the button, and probably stole the blinds twice in this round without any resistance. Howard probably stole 3 or 4, on hands I didn’t raise. Most of the rest of the table was playing very tight.

After the BB passed, I was thinking to myself that if I picked up any monster hand and it folded around to me, I’d just limp in the SB, since I’m sure that Howard would raise with his stack, also trying to send a message that I couldn’t limp into his BB. Sure enough, the action folds around to me and I look down and find AA! I just complete the blind as I planned and Howard makes it 1800 to go. I reraise to 5k, and he kind of grunts and then folds.

I didn’t get involved in any big pots for a few hours at this table, but I did manage to steal a lot of blinds, working my stack up to around 20k, through blind steals and 2 all in reraises with AK, to which they folded.

The blinds were at 400/800, when my first big pot was played. It folded around to the button who raised to 2400, and the SB folded, and I looked down to find AQs. I asked how much he had left, as he was probably the shortest stack at the table at the time, and he had approximately 10k in chips. I put him all in, and he thought for a moment before calling. I showed my cards and he cheered as he showed AK. The flop came Kxx, but with two to my suit, which actually helped my hand, as I had 3 outs before the flop and 9 after. The turn completed my flush and he was drawing dead. This was the only bad beat I gave in the tournament.

A new player came to the table to fill another open spot that was created, and this guy was rather unbelievable. He had at least 100k in chips, but he was playing crazily recklessly, firing out monster sized bets in every pot, but unlike the European “table captain” and the super aggressive big stack from day 1 that I played against, this guy really didn’t seem to be that good of a player. He just seemed extremely reckless, the type that probably gave at least 5 crazy beats to get the stack that he had. One of his first hands at the table, Howard raised and he called. The flop was something like Q-J-rag, and Howard bet and the other guy called. The turn was another Q and Howard checked and the guy immediately put in at least 5k and Howard thought and called. The river was a rag, and Howard quickly bet over 10k, and the guy called immediately. Howard showed something like JT and shrugged, thinking he was beat, and the guy mucked his hand. Crazy stuff.

I only really remember 2 hands during this time that mattered. On one the crazy guy raised my BB and I called with something like AJ. The flop came all rags and he bet about the same amount he raised preflop and I called again, as I had seen him bet the same way whenever the flop came and he missed, and I figured to be ahead. The turn was a blank and I checked and he checked behind me. The river was a 3 and I checked and he checked, showing 43o, catching a pair on the river. On the other he raised my BB again and I had A2o, which against most players I’d fold immediately, but again I figured to be ahead of him, and also figured that I’d double up if I hit a big hidden hand (like two pair or trip 2s) and he had anything decent at all. The flop came A-rag-rag and he fired out a pot sized bet, and I called immediately. Rags on the turn and river and we both checked both times (thought he’d probably bluff the river), and I quickly showed my hand knowing that I had it, and he gave me a look that said “You called me with that?”, and I thought to myself “You raised my BB with 43o?”.

At this point the blinds were 400-800 with 100 antes, and I had a little over 30k in chips. It folded around to me, and I looked down to find two aces. I raised to 2400, and the maniac raises to like 6000. Then the BB moves all in for like 12k. I’m thinking about how to get the maniac to put in the most possible chips, and I don’t think calling would be best, as first he’d probably have odds to call the BB’s raise with anything, even against my AA. Second, it would be a dry pot then, and he wouldn’t have any incentive to try and bluff me out preflop or at the flop. I thought about raising a little bit, but that’s also usually obvious of a monster begging for action. So I collect my chip stack and put it all in. As a non-important but interesting side note, I had forgotten the one $100 chip that was protecting my cards (which you really need to do every hand when you’re sitting next to the dealer, as they can easily muck your cards accidentally). The dealer asked me if I meant to go all in, and I said yes, and then Howard speaks up “Hey hey, what are you doing dealer? He didn’t announce all in! Leave that chip there!” like it really mattered.

Anyway, the maniac immediately “puts me all in” and I throw my last $100 chip in and show my AA. The maniac shows KK, and the BB all in player shows … J9s? The maniac says something like nice hand, and I say something like we’ll see, a bit nervous about getting a bad beat in my first preflop all in. The flop comes something like 7-7-9, and I’m worrying more about a K than a 9 at this point, given the large side pot. Happily an A comes on the turn, and my worries are over, and my stack is now over 70k (possibly over 75k).

After this, I steal a few blinds here and there and also have to fold some decent hands after raising and being reraised, including an AJ to an all in reraise by Howard after he had lost a couple big pots, and was down to about 30k.

Then our table broke up, and I was off to a very strange “happy go lucky” talkative table, that wasn’t much like any other table I played at in the tournament. Almost everyone there had a nice rapport with each other, having been playing together all day. But before I noticed how strange the table was, I had a huge hand on my very first hand at the table.

I pick up two red jacks in middle position on my first hand at the table, and raise to 2400 after it folds around to me, and the BB makes it about 7k to go. He seems to have a similar stack size to me (probably smaller, but at least 50k), so I decide against reraising, as I’d get committed to the pot real fast, and he could easily have an overpair with this raise. Also, I know nothing of how this guy plays, and he knows nothing of how I play, so it seems ridiculous to just lay down this hand here (especially since it was one of the best hands I had had preflop in the entire tournament, with the AA 2 times only getting action the once, and QQ the one time against the table captain on day one being the only big pocket pairs that I can recall). So obviously, being that there is only one possible action that I haven’t ruled out, I call.

The flop comes all rags, with two spades on the board and the person then bets out 10k. I’m worried about an overpair, but an underpair or AK is still very possible. Again though, I want to minimize risk, and I’m willing to lay my hand down to an all in at the turn, so I just call again.

The turn brings a Q of spades, putting 3 spades on the board, and he checks to me. Again, this check can mean many things, including him having AA or KK and being worried about the 3rd spade, him slowplaying a AK or AQ of spades flush, or him having a lower pair than me and being worried by both the Q and my flop call. The pot is already huge, so I’m not worried about missing a bet if I am ahead. I also doubt he’d call much if he had less than I did. I check.

The river brings another rag spade, putting 4 spades on the board, and he checks. This time, I know he doesn’t have a very big spade with the lack of a bet, and I also know that he could easily believe that I do with how I’ve played the hand. I’m also still very worried about AA or KK, but think that he could lay that down if he doesn’t have a spade and believes that I do. He also could possibly lay down a low spade, but I really doubt he has a low card in his hand. I bet somewhere between 10 and 15k on the river (don’t recall exactly), and give off my best “I have a monster” vibe that I can. He thinks for a few moments and then folds. WHEW. Over 20k added to my stack on my first hand at the table!

I don’t remember any other specific hands from this table, where I ended the night. I do remember stealing a good deal of blinds since we were nearing the bubble and most of the players were playing pretty tight, and I also remember winning another big pot soon after the JJ one, but I can’t recall the details (I think I had top pair and a good but not great kicker, and just had a feeling that I had the best hand and called a few very big bluffs by the fellow big stack on my right). Anyway, through a lot of good poker (and big blinds with big antes), even without many big hands at this table, I more than double my stack up to about 155k, which was a fairly big stack at this point, but not a monster stack either.

The blinds for day 3 will begin at 800/1600 with an ante of 200, so there’s tons of room for play for me now. Also, as we end day 2, it’s announced that we’ll begin day 3 with hand for hand, as we’re only 8 spots away from the money.

(Wee, typing out day 2 only took about half the amount of space that it did for day 1.)

Day 3, and the play in the money awaits!

Edit: Just remembered one more hand from day 2. I raised with AA (yet again!) and a short stack (6-7k) went all in with AK. K on flop, rag turn, K on river.

Posted by michael1123 on July 22, 2005 at 11:51


Day 3, Starting stack: 154,440, blinds: 1,000 / 2,000 with an ante of 300

The average chip count to start day 3 was 99k, with 569 players remaining. We started the day hand for hand, with 9 players to go before we entered the money. The way the hand for hand worked is, when a table completed play, the dealer at that table would stand up. When all of the dealers at the 57 remaining tables had stood up, the next hand would be dealt. This was a rather excruciatingly long process, as each hand was taking about 5 minutes to be dealt. All of the small stacks were doing their best to hold on, and make their way into the money, and there were at least 3 or 4 people at our table in this position. I recognized no one at my starting table.

During the bubble period, I really cranked up my aggressiveness, raising practically every time it folded around to me, and often stealing the blinds. Two of the small stacks did get all in at my table, with one man having AK and another having TT, and the shorter stack was eliminated.

Finally after about an hour and a half of bubble play (and less than 20 hands), we were finally in the money and there was a mild cheer and applause. I was mostly happy that the hand for hand would finally end and we could start playing. I felt a little bad for whoever had been the last guy to bubble, thinking that not only did he just miss making the money, but he gets to hear everyone celebrating his departure. It was then announced though that he’d be given a consolation prize of a free entry into next year’s main event. Sucks to be the second last guy to bubble.

The hour and a half of hand for hand play was added back onto the clock, making the 1,000 / 2,000 blind level the longest level of the entire tournament. I kept raising many hands, but now I was meeting resistance. There was a middle aged woman two to my left and an Asian man directly on my left that developed a habit of reraising me almost every time I raised, and I probably ended up breaking even until one big hand arose.

I was in mid position with JJ and I raised yet again to 6k. It folded around to a man in one of the blinds who made it 15k, and I thought about my options. I hadn’t seen this guy play many hands, and his raise was somewhat suspiciously small. He also had a stack that was just a little smaller than mine, probably around 120k. I knew he had a real hand, and there was a good chance that he had an overpair, so I decided against reraising him. But, for only 9k more (barely more than I had originally bet), it was certainly worth taking a flop.

The flop came JT4 with two clubs on the board. The man then proceeded to put out a strong bet of around 25k, and I noticed his hands shaking as he placed his bet. He certainly thought he had a monster here. Could he really have TT? He at least had AA – QQ; that much was clear. I thought about possibly just calling, but if an overcard came, I couldn’t be sure that it hadn’t given him a higher set. Plus, if a club came, that could scare him off.

Given my read on him, I was pretty confident he’d call me, so I decided to overbet all in, trying to represent that I had a flush draw (or AJ). He called me instantly and screamed obscenities as I showed my hand, and he revealed AA. Blanks fell on the turn and river, and unfortunately the dealer spilled the guys stack everywhere as he pushed it towards me. It was during this period that my arms actually became tired from stacking stacks upon stacks of chips, from this guy’s stacks and blind steals. It took me at least 5 minutes to get his entire stack (largely composed of black $100 chips) stacked up.

Not too long after this our table broke up. My chip stack took up about 6 racks of chips (each holding 100 chips), and a floor person had to help me carry them all to my new table. The floor person had asked me to keep my rack of the 5k purple chips on the bottom of my stack of racks as we moved them, since they were the most valuable. We arrived to my new table on the other side of the room, with everyone staring at my racks of chips. Humorously one guy was saying “No cotton candy (what he called the pink 5k chips)! No cotton candy!” as my racks of chips were being set down. He cheered “Yes!”, until my bottom rack was revealed, consisting of mostly 5k chips, and everyone sighed in disappointment at how many chips the new player at their table had.

Again, I recognized no one at this table, although the majority of players did seem more experienced than at my previous table. Two to my right was the talkative friendly guy that had been hoping I didn’t have any “cotton candy.” The guy was wearing a Party Poker shirt (as were two players on the opposite side of the table who seemed less experienced), but this guy seemed like one of the tighter players I had ever played with. On my left was an Asian guy that everyone was referring to as AQ guy, since apparently just before I had gotten there he was a very small stack and had doubled up 3-4 times when he was all in with AQ each time. I easily had the biggest stack at the table, with the player on my right having the next biggest.

For a while I was basically just stealing blinds and sitting back when others had raised in front of me. I wasn’t getting much in the way of cards, but players were respecting my stack and staying out of my way, so I was slowly gathering more and more chips.

Posted by michael1123 on August 20, 2005 at 23:02


Not too long after I arrived at that table, the first interesting hand I was involved in developed. The blinds were still 1000/2000 with 200 ante, I believe, and I did my standard 3xBB opening raise for 6k with KQo UTG. It folded around to the BB (the man to my right, and the second biggest stack at the table) who called my raise. The flop came QJ2 rainbow, the BB checked, and I bet about 10k. The BB called rather quickly, and the turn brought another 2.

The BB then quickly bet out a big bet of at least 20k. This was a very strange play, as in this situation you’d expect that if he had a big hand he either would’ve check raised me on the flop, or he’d attempt to check raise me on the turn. Therefore, I felt reasonably sure I had the best hand and I called. It’s not my style to reraise in spots like this where I’m reasonably sure I have the best hand, but I’m not positive, as for one, they’ll probably only call if they have me beat (so I will lose more money if I’m behind), and two, it stops them from betting/bluffing more chips into me (so I’m not maximizing my profit if I’m ahead).

The river came a complete blank, something like a 4. The BB then proceeds to make a very large bet of around 50k, and the big bet makes me think things over carefully before acting. I really don’t feel he has a 2 or flopped a set or anything of that kind, as I strongly feel he would’ve either raised on the flop or tried to check raise on the turn. Therefore, the only hands that beat me that I felt he could have were AQ and QJ, both of which still didn’t seem likely at all. Again, no reason to risk chips by raising, as he won’t pay me off with worse than I have. I call, and he shows KT for a busted open ended straight draw.

11 hands later (just over one round around the table), it folds around to the same guy on the button, and he makes a small raise to about 2400. I’m in the SB with 66, and normally I’d strongly consider reraising a button raise with this hand in this position, but the small raise scares me, as this guy was an aggressive player and he was raising less than he usually did. It seemed like he could have a big hand and be begging for action. Still, I’m not folding 66 preflop in this spot (especially with the possible implied odds if he has a AA), so I call, and the BB folds.

The flop comes something like T74, I check to the preflop raiser, and he immediately made a big bet that was at least as big as the size of the pot. Immediately I feel that my preflop read was incorrect (although I’m sure he was trying to represent that he had a monster by that small raise before the flop), and I feel that he probably has two overcards. After a little bit of thinking, I decide to call and see how he reacts to my call on the turn to get a better read. The turn is a J and I check, and he checks behind me. Now I’m pretty sure I have the best hand, although he’d probably play 99 or 88 the same way. The river brings an A, and again I have to check as that easily could’ve hit him. He checks behind me. “You have it” he says. “I’m not so sure …”, I reply, “Do you have a pair?” He flips over 43o for a pair of 4s, and I show my pocket sixes and take the pot. The super tight player to his right seemed completely stunned by our hands.

Shortly after the 66 hand, the player to my right, seemingly on tilt to his losses to me, busted out soon after that in a hand I have no recollection of. The super tight talkative player commented on how strange it was, as he seemed to be playing well and had a lot of chips before I arrived, and then he seemed to lose control so quickly.

Things went back to the normal pace of the tournament for a while, with me just stealing blinds, playing small pots, steadily building my stack, and not having any big confrontations. The only real interesting thing from this time was that the player to my left, previously referred to as the AQ guy, had shoved all in over the top of me at least 3-4 times, after I had raised with mediocre holdings. I noticed that he seemed to be playing the Sklansky all-in system. For those of you that haven’t read about it, it’s basically a system for inexperienced players to counteract their lack of ability (particularly postflop ability) with making it a preflop game of all in or fold, and choosing which hands to go all in with using a system that weighs the strength of their hand and the size of the blinds in relation to his stack. I really don’t recall the player ever taking a flop, but he usually had a good hand when he did play/go all in.

My stack at this time had reached about 600k, my high point of the tournament, which players at my table speculated was in the top 10 in the tournament at that time. You’re never really sure exactly where you stand in a big live tournament like this, which is a big difference from online tournaments. Chip counts from every player are not available until the end of a day’s action, and even if the media knew everyone’s exact chip counts, things like that are not announced to the players. Looking at the final results of the day however, there were only 14 players at ended day 3 with 600k in chips, and we were far from the end of the day at this point. I had really been on a tear all day, without a single significant loss up until this point, and a lot of chips were also gained outside of the big hands I have listed, in blind steals and postflop bluffs as well.

By this point the blinds had reached 1,200/2,400 with 400 antes. On a hand that seemed like a rather insignificant win at the time (I don’t even recall the details, but it was probably a 60/40 or a coin flip – as I’d remember it if I was dominated), I busted out the player two seats to my left who had a very small stack. Sadly, this ended up being about the worst thing that could’ve happened, as I was in complete command of my table and was the dominant chip leader there, when this player was replaced by another big stack, who I’m guessing had around 300k in chips. Before this, I’m pretty sure no one else at my table even had 200k. As I would come to learn, the change was even worse than it first appeared, as the player was both aggressive, and prone to regularly calling my preflop raises, meaning I was unable to steal as many blinds from then on, let alone him having position on me …

Things were pretty quiet for a while, and then my first big hand arose, the last hand before the dinner break (with much of the hand happening after the time for the level had ran out). This was also the last hand of the 1200/2400 level.

I had been raising a lot of pots like I usually do with a big stack. I looked down at my cards in middle position and found pocket jacks, and raised to 3xBB, which was 7200. In my experience, this is often the type of situation that you bust a player, as with my loose aggressive image, and with many raises in a row, the other players are not putting you on high pocket pairs. Unfortunately Mr. All-in to my left did not reraise me this time, and the new big stacked player called, along with a rather loose player in the blinds. The flop came 432, and with over 24k already in the pot from the preflop action, I bet about 20k at the flop. The big stack thought about it and then raised me to about 60k. The player in the blinds then took a long time before folding, and I had a dilemma on my hands.

The big stack had shown his willingness to take a lot of flops, but he hadn’t shown that he’d reraise with junk either. I knew he had a real hand, but the problem was that I beat about half of real hands at this point and lost to the other half. If he flopped a set, I was basically screwed, with just 2 outs. I didn’t think he had a higher pocket pair, but that’d leave me in the same situation. If he had had flopped 2 pair, I’d need a jack or a board pair that didn’t give him a boat. He could have a straight with A5 or 65, but I really didn’t feel that was the case.

On the other hand, I beat A4, which he’d probably play (he seemed pretty damn loose calling my preflop raises, with looser standards than I have), and he’d probably raise, as he easily can think I’m just making a continuation bet at the flop. He’d certainly play 55-TT, and all of those hands would love this flop, and he’d certainly make that raise with those hands.

Out of all these possibilities, I felt that a set or TT-55 were his most likely holdings. After a pretty long deliberation, I decided to just call. The turn was a Q, which was somewhat of a scare card for me, but not really, as I really didn’t think it was likely that he had overcards on the flop. I check to him and he again bet 60k, and again I had a decision to make, although on the flop I was trying to decide between calling and raising, and now I was trying to decide between calling and folding.

I thought he could make this bet with the TT-55 pocket pairs, as I don’t think he was putting me on just overcards either, and he may have thought I had a pair on the flop and / or a straight draw, as he had seen that I raise a wide variety of hands. He’d clearly still like a set here. However, for some strange reason, I got a strong feeling at this moment, and usually when I get feelings / reads this strong I’m correct. I wasn’t sure what he had or who had who beat, but I had this strong feeling that he was making this bet here with the intention of checking the river and seeing if he was correct in thinking that he was ahead. Maybe I picked up on the fact that he was uncomfortable playing a pot this big with the other big stack at the table without a bigger hand than he had. With this in mind, and how big the pot was (over 260k), I decided to call and in the spur of the moment announced that I check the river in the dark, as I somehow felt that that would increase his chance of checking the river. The river came a blank, and he checked behind me and showed 43 for two pair.

I know some players would’ve lost more than I did on this hand (all in on the flop for some possibly), and most would’ve lost as least as much as I did, but looking back on this one I feel like I should’ve folded on the turn. I thought I was beat and didn’t go with it, largely due to the massive pot odds and the correct belief that he’d check the river, but that still cost me 50-60k on that decision alone. However, if the river was a Q, 2, or J I’m sure I wouldn’t have been complaining about winning the pot. Possibly it’s just hindsight speaking here.

While I just had taken the first real hit to my stack all day, I still had roughly half a million chips at the dinner break of day 3, which I’m sure was still in the top 10 at the time. The minor setback of the JJ hand didn’t outweigh all the success I had had that day, in my mind. As I had my dinner break on day 3, my mind couldn’t help but wander towards thoughts of possible millions being won in this tournament, with even 9th place paying out a million dollars. Still, I was remaining focused, and I came back from the dinner break refreshed and ready to go back to work.

While I wasn’t already spending millions in my mind, I did feel very very good about my chances to go very deep into the tournament at this point. Little did I know the horrors that would await me in the next level…

Posted by michael1123 on August 26, 2005 at 03:57


After the dinner break, I returned to my pile of chips that were now practically taking up the entire corner of the table that I sat at. Finally the black $100 chips were colored up, as the blinds were going to be 1500/3000 with 500 ante. The ante for this round and the last were 1/6 of the BB, which was the biggest it ever reached in the tournament, with just a few other rounds having this high of an ante. The next two rounds the blinds would increase obviously, but the ante would stay at 500, with it just being 1/10th of the BB in two rounds. The relevance of this is that when the antes are higher when compared to the blinds, stealing is more profitable, and sitting back and playing tight is more costly. There’s a lot more money out there to be fought for, compared to what you’re risking, as long as 3xBB raises are still being effective. Adding up the 9 players antes at each table, in this round there was 4500 of ante money sitting in the middle of the table, as well as 4500 of blind money each hand to be won.

Not too much happened in the first 10-20 hands of the new level. Then it folded around to me on the button, and I found pocket queens. I raised to 9k, and Mr. All in was in the SB. He had about 100k in chips at the time. Instead of going all in, he raised to about 50k, which obviously meant he was committed to the pot. The big stack in the BB folded, and I immediately put the player all in. He seemed to take much longer to call than I figured, and then finally called. I was rather unhappy to see AK, as I knew he’d also reraise me with JJ, TT, AQ, and possibly AJ as well. The flop was all rags, the turn was another rag, and the river was … a K. The all-in specialist cheered loudly at still being alive, and I pushed another big chunk of my stack away from me.

The last two big hands I had played had cost me about 230k, and I was trying to remain calm and relaxed. Not too long after the QQ hand, I’m in middle position and find pocket aces, for my first time on this day. I raise to 9k and the big stacked player calls, a loose player on his left wearing a Party Poker shirt calls, and then the BB, who hadn’t been playing too many hands thinks for a moment before announcing that he’s all in! Inside, I’m dancing for joy that I’m going to be a monster favorite to take this pot down, but I keep my poker face on and ask for a chip count. The all in player had about 100k, and this was destined to be another monster pot, a minimum of 244k (depending on if another player would come into the pot). After thinking (or pretending to at least) it over I called the bet, and the action was on the big stack, who took a long time to act. Finally he folded his hand, and the loose Party Poker guy folded quickly. I turned up my aces, and the all in player grimaced and turned up pocket kings, while the big stacked player said he folded pocket jacks.

The ESPN cameras came over as they do whenever a player is all-in, and the flop was dealt, with a K on it. The all in player screamed for joy, and with another K was on the turn he screamed louder. Later he told me that he was screaming for hopes that this hand would make it onto ESPN, and also said that the reason he moved in was because of the two other callers, although I never thought he played the hand badly, it was just bad timing to pick up kings… or good timing, to be more accurate.

Another 100k was gone from my stack, which now was about 300k … which was probably still a little above average, but half of what it was about 2 hours before this point, which wasn’t a very long time in tournament time. I was trying my best to remain calm and patient, and keep the tilt away. Still, about a round or two later, I pick up A9o in middle position, and I can’t pass it up, it’s just not my style. I raise to 9k, the button calls (loose Party Poker guy I mentioned before), and a different loose player wearing a Party shirt (and this guy had seemed worse than the other one) called in the BB. Not too long before these guys had been all in with each other preflop for at least a 100k with like A5o and A3o, and chopped it, with at least 3 raises between them on that hand. Back to the current hand, the flop comes something like 975 with two spades, and I make my normal continuation bet of like 18-20k. The button folds, and the BB reraises me to around 50k. I have no reason to think I’m behind at this point, and he probably had around 125k to start the hand, so he was pretty committed. I put him all in and he calls, showing something like 62 of spades for a flush draw with a gutshot. Someone mentions that they folded two spades around this time. The turn was a rag yet again, and the river was either a spade or an 8. I don’t recall which, and don’t really care to either.

I must’ve stolen a few blinds and pots here and there before the next big hand I remember, as I at least had over 200k in this one. I raised from early / mid position with Ax of diamonds, I don’t remember the other card I had. The flop came KTx with two diamonds on it, and again I made a continuation bet. The only caller preflop was the rather tight KK guy, and he raised me to about 3x my bet on the flop. I probably considered pushing, but I wasn’t tilting that badly, he had me covered, and I had a feeling he had a big hand. But I felt that if I caught a diamond on the turn, he’d double me up, so I made the call. The turn was a rag, I checked, and he went all in. I folded, making it seem like a harder decision than it was, and he showed pocket tens for a flopped set. He said he was worried I had a flush draw, but I told him I had a “big pair” and made him question his play a bit out loud.

There were a few more bad and good pots to finish off the day. The most notable was against the not as bad loose Party player. I raised 3xBB in middle position with KJo and he called from the SB or BB. The flop came 997, and he checked to me. I bet about 15k, which was less than many usual continuation bets, trying to represent that I had an overpair and wanted some action. The Party player thought about it for a moment, and then raised me to about 3x my raise. I had a strong feeling that he had a middle pocket pair and was testing the waters to see if I had overcards or a real hand. I had him covered by a decent margin, and the pot was big enough for me to take the risk, so I put him all in after some thought. He thought, and thought, and thought, and then finally folded pocket 8s face up. “Wow, great fold I think” says the super tight guy to my right.

There was also one hand after this where the super tight guy FINALLY raised a pot (maybe he raised 4 in like 7 hours of play). He was at UTG+1 and all of a sudden raised to 5xBB. I looked down two spots after him at 99, and folded it probably faster than I’ve ever folded 99 in my life. Everyone else folds, and I goad him into showing that he had KK. I tell him I had the nines, and he says “Wow, I thought raising more would make it look like a bluff”. Against this guy, I could probably flop a set on a 962 flop and probably still wouldn’t have gotten paid off.

Oh yeah, one more fun story. A short stack directly on my right busted out, and was replaced with a guy that looked pretty normal. Not too long after he got there, he raised from UTG and I folded. Mr. All-in went all in after him, and it folded back to the short stack who thought and thought and thought and finally called with QQ. The all in specialist shows 99, and all of a sudden the guy to my right flips out. He jumps out of his chair and seems to scream at the top of his lungs “No nine!!!!!!” I look at him, and there’s a vein popping out like 2 inches on his forehead, and he has this crazy look in his eyes, like someone just shot his dog or something. A nine is on the flop, and the player screams “FUCK!” loud enough that probably the whole room heard it, which would’ve of course resulted in a 10 minute penalty for him, if a Q came. It didn’t though, and he was out. The hand kind of seemed like poetic justice for his insanity.

For the rest of the day, I seemed to be fighting against the grain, but did recover some of my stack from the bad beats and bad luck, largely through pushing around the small stacks with reraises and putting them all in post flop, and picking up pots when I could. I ended the day with 282k in chips, with 304k being the average. Raymer was the chip leader at this point with just over a million in chips.

Posted by michael1123 on August 28, 2005 at 20:37


Day 4, Starting stack: 282,500, blinds: 3,000 / 6,000 with 1000 ante

I arrived at my table for day 4 a couple hands after play had began. On my left was the player who on the previously day had taken a large chunk of my stack away when doubling up with KK against my AA, catching quads after we got all in preflop. 3 seats to his left was a player with a ton of chips, and a stack of over a million (whom I later found out was nearly tied with Raymer as the chip leader to start the day). Two seats to his left was Kenna James, a professional player that I had seen once on one of the Game Show Network’s poker shows, and he had a stack size similar to mine. One other player at the table had a similar stack size as well, and the other players all had a little over 100k in chips.

The first notable hand of the day, the KK guy raised UTG to 18k, and it folded around to my BB. I looked down and found AQ of hearts. I knew that this player was rather tight, and therefore had to have a big hand to raise UTG, so I didn’t even consider reraising. If my AQ wasn’t suited I probably would’ve even laid it down preflop. However, especially while getting a discount to call in the BB, I felt my implied odds were too good to fold here, so I called.

The flop came Q-6-6 with two spades, and I checked. KK guy bet ~30k and I called. An offsuit rag fell on the turn and I checked and this time he bet nearly 50k, and I had another dilemma on my hands. He could have AA or KK; he could also have AQ or possibly KQ. He could have AK of spades, or maybe even a hand like JJ or TT, however I felt he was stronger than that. I thought for a while and tried to read the guy for any tells I could pick up, but I couldn’t get any vibe from him. Finally I decided to call. The river was a low spade, and I briefly considered representing that I was on a flush draw, but two things convinced me not to. For one, I knew the player was very tight preflop, but I didn’t know how willing he was to lay down big hands after the flop. There was also the possibility that he had been semi-bluffing with the nut flush draw. I check and he checks behind me, showing AA.

After this, I looked to tighten up a little, but my cards didn’t allow it. Over this span I got AQ 4 other times, and AK at least twice. 3 times with AQ and once with AK I opened for a raise, was called by at least two players, and then I had to fold on the flop after bets and calls by other players. I didn’t make any continuation bets during these hands, but if I did, I was reraised. One other time I called a early/mid position raise with AQ and also had to fold on a missed flop. Since the blinds were 3000/6000, each one of these cost me 18k from my preflop raise/call alone.

One other time with AQ I raised, and the big stack at the table called on the BB. We checked all the way down on a ragged board, and he turned up A4, which had caught a 4 on the river.

Once I did raise with AK UTG and was only called by the BB. Again I miss the flop completely, but this time I’m at least able to take the pot down with a continuation bet, and that was a 38k pot alone.

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