Well, like a true professional I took a whole 4 days off before the Main Event. I refused to talk about poker, listen to poker stories or even go near The Rio. We played basketball, golf and went go-carting. I played Football Manager on my PC, read a little and chilled out by the pool. I resisted the temptation to go out and get drunk, and managed 8 hours sleep for 3 consecutive nights.
On the morning of my main event I was as well prepared as I could be. No excuses, focused and ready to rock and roll. I was seated on the table of predominantly unknown faces, with two exceptions - Chris Ferguson who had been having as bad a World Series as me and Richard Redmond from London.
I didn’t pick up any hands during the first level but I was happy with my progression to 10,500. The game started to heat up at the start of Level 2. I got involved in a couple of pots with Chris (who was in fact the last person I wanted to play with). I won 1 and lost 1 and an hour later was still at 10,500.
I then looked down at Pocket Kings, my first real hand. An early raiser had made it 300 to play and we had one caller for the 300. So I called and raised another 1,300 slightly more than the pot.
The original raiser was now in fact the short stack at the table. He thought for a moment and then moved in for all his chips. He had dwelled too long and he was also the loosest player at the table so it was an automatic call for me.
There was 13,000 in the middle. I had Kings, he rolled over pocket 8s. The dealer produced an 8 in the window. First card of the deck, no messing around. I was down to 3,900 in chips.
I reached the break at the end of the second level on 3,700 and gave myself a good talking to. Psyched myself up, told myself I could recover and still win this thing, came back to the table and promptly lost another 2k.
With only 1900 chips left, they broke my table and I moved over to the new table directly into the big blind. I was just complaining away about catching the big blind when I picked up A-7. A couple of players limped and the SB made it up, so I also checked.
The flop came down A-J-2 with 2 spades and the SB moved all in for his small stack of 1,700. I looked left and it looked like the limpers were ready to pass. I looked right and the SB was sweating. Surely he would have moved all-in pre-flop with any Ace face? Trip deuces maybe he would have checked looking for action?
I looked left and the limpers had lost interest in the pot. I looked right and the SB was not comfortable - so I moved in as well. The SB rolled over A3 and I took down a big pot, I was back in business. By the time we reached the end of the third level, and dinner break, I had progressed back up to 7,700.
I returned from dinner in a very healthy state of mind and was confident I would make it through the rest of the evening. The first hand back, I was on the cut-off and the BB was not present. Everyone passed to me and I raised with 9-T suited and picked up the pot uncontested.
The very next hand I picked up A-Q and repeated exactly the same exercise. However, I had received a stare and was aware that a few players had raised their eyebrows. I was going to have to sit back for a while now because I was going to get called next time.
However, the very next hand I looked down at Pocket Kings again. (Only my second real hand of the day.) I thought to myself if I raise this to 600 as well, there is just a chance someone may well play back at me. So I raised it to 600… and the button played back at me. He re-raised 1,800 and deposited the rest of my stack in the middle without much messing around.
He gave it the full 2 minute dwell but eventually called. We had 17,500 chips in the middle. My 2006 WSOP Main Event life was at stake. I had pocket Kings. He had A-Q. I just needed a flop without an Ace. The dealer produced an Ace in the window. First card of the deck, no messing around. I was out. End of story. End of Blog.