Bellagio & The Poker Gods

Sun, 23/04/2006 - 3:57am

Well to say I’m gutted is the understatement of all understatements. The Poker Gods certainly like to have their fun!

The WPT Main Event at The Bellagio is the most important tournament of the year for me. It’s the one I’ve been looking forward to since the WSOP and the one I hold in a higher regard than the WSOP. It’s very difficult to look at the WSOP Main Event and realistically believe that I can win it. However, a field of under 600, 50,000 starting chips and the slowest of slow structures means that this event is a realistic target.
My game plan was to play slow and steady. For the first 4 or 5 levels, I would call with suited connectors and all pairs from Jacks down, and generally play small pots unless I flop the monster… As with most plans it needed some immediate amendments.
I drew a starting position with Sammy Farha on my right and Ram Vaswani on my left. A couple of other aggressive new players and we had a very lively table. Sammy played 3 out of every 4 hands and raised most of them. We started with blinds of 50/100, yet still managed five pots over 20,000 in the first level. My game plan was out of the window.
I didn’t really get involved until the second level but when I did, it was with a bang. Four players had called a 1200 pre-flop raise, so I joined them with my pocket 7s. It took my best poker face to calmly check a flop of KK7. Ch-Ching. I raked in a pot of almost 30,000.
Half an hour later, and I raised with JT suited. My poker face was tested again as I looked down at another flop from heaven: T-T-J. Robert Williamson eventually made a good pass on the river (after I had trap checked, re-raised him twice). He tossed away his AT and I raked in another pot of almost 30,000.
We had been playing bigger pots than most of all the other tables. My stack of 120,000 was probably in the top 2 or 3, as we hadn’t even finished the third level. The Poker Gods were just having their little bit of fun building me up for the fall though. 120k would have been a great place to finish the end of the day and this would have been a good time to lock up the shop. I am good at sitting on the fence when the time is right. The time was now right. You can’t win this event on the first day of six.
And then I picked up pocket Kings in the Big Blind. I licked my lips when one of our beginners moved his short stack of 12,800 all-in. (It turns out he had pocket Queens). Another elderly player (who had been struggling handling his chips) then tried to make it 20,000 to play. Eventually the under-raise was rectified and I was left with a tough decision. My opponent was the second highest stack at the table with 88,000 (the average being around 52k).
I certainly didn’t want to give any cheap shots at an ace to any AK or AQ holdings. He could also have had a pair of Queens or maybe Jacks. Calling wasn’t an option. I had to pass or raise. The only realistic raise was to set him all-in for his remaining 68k. I took the wrong option, raised and was confronted by 2 Aces.
The flop was all low cards and suddenly I was down to 26,000. They broke our table shortly afterwards and I stumbled dazed into The Fontana Room. I hadn’t been sat down long when another strange pot developed. I called another small raise with pocket 8s and was joined by 3 other players. The flop was 2c-8c-10s and I liked the look of it. However, the flush and straight draws made it a dangerous flop. The original raiser made a weak bet so I immediately re-raised. I wasn’t going to allow any draws in cheaply. Unfortunately, a third player in the pot was holding pocket tens behind me. Set under set is not an easy hole to get out of and I was soon wandering back to my room shell-shocked.  
I guess if you play enough poker you will see all these situations. I just wished they could have happened in the £20 re-buy at The Cincinnati Club.