WSOP debut, meeting Toyman and playing nosebleed pots (literally)


I am making my WSOP debut (in the seniors’ event) and sat on table one zillion and one in a dark corner of the Amazon room and as we near the end of level one. I feel comfortable at my table and going along nicely when after UTG limps I look down in MP at 10d 8d and limp. It folds to the BB who checks his option. The flop is 10 high with no obvious straight draws and one diamond. After the BB checks UTG bets out and I call. BB also calls. The turn is another low card and a diamond giving me a flush draw. BB checks, UTG checks and I bet my top pair and flush draw. BB calls and UTG folds. The river is Qd giving me a well-disguised back draw flush. The BB takes the betting lead for the first time with a fairly small bet and I raise slightly over the minimum. He ‘tanks’ for a good two minutes and then goes all in. This was unexpected and unwanted. It was hard to put him on a flush and although I can’t remember the exact numbers to fold would have left me with about 800 chips (starting stack was only 3,000 chips). I decide I am pot committed and make a reluctant call feeling I am behind and see the BB turn over AdKd for the nuts. I leave the table to start the walk of shame.

I am not sure how easy it was to get away from this. Any comments welcome.

I take a taxi back to my room at the Vdara and decide how to spend the rest of my day. I Duece it up to Binions for the 2pm $160 tourney. This is my fourth Vegas trip (I arrived from the UK the night before) and I always play at least once at Binions. The tourney was in a nondescript room upstairs where the first world series was played but as ever the staff and most of the other players were friendly and with a good structure I again found myself moving along nicely but unable to win a really big pot that would have given me real traction. With the blinds starting to bite and I am moved to a new table and immediately double up a short stack when his A6 sucks out against my AJ. Eventually and with the bubble looming I am in push/fold territory and push against the umpteenth raise from the massive chip stack and table bully with my 10 9. He calls and his K3 holds up.

Another day and after a good tip from a player I was chatting to at the WSOP, I Dueced it up to the Golden Nugget for the two day seniors’ (I am 53) $240 buy in event with a field of around 470. We are in a lovely room and I sit down at a friendly and fairly passive table with only two aggro players to deal with. I am grinding away but without being able to win a game-changing big pot. We are into the evening session and I decide to have my own little ‘while in Vegas’ moment and have a massage at the table. This really gets my blood pumping and invigorates me – so much so that I bust out shortly after. A family pot develops and I check my option in the BB with 64o. The flop is 44J and I check. UTG bets out and I am the only caller. The turn is a blank and again I check call. The river is a diamond and I check and UTG puts me all in. I call not realising this was a third diamond and he turns over Jd10d for the flush.

No time to feel sorry for myself or bemoan my tiredness (which is the excuse I have immediately come up with for not realising there was a possible flush) because it’s Saturday night in Vegas baby! I never play cash at home and I’m feeling a bit bruised and tired and decide the best option for me is to get stuck into some cash game (no comments needed on the wisdom of this choice). I start at the MGM where I find myself at a very aggressive and tough 1/2 table. The best option for a cash novice is to ask for a table change but I decide this is beatable and promptly lose half my stack when my AQ suited runs into AA. Shortly after this and perhaps symbolically I get the most tremendous nosebleed and unable to fully staunch it in the rest room I return to my table to take the rest of my chips and withdraw. I got a few expected nosebleed stakes type comments but with an underlying hint of derision. They were right.

But hey it’s still Saturday night in Vegas and I’m a proud Englishman who isn’t going to let his lack of experience of cash games cause me to rethink. I decide to take the most sensible option in the circumstances and buy into a 1/2 table at the Bellagio. I was doing OK for a while and enjoying a beer when I put an inexperienced player on a weak hand and lost a big pot when he made a reluctant call to beat my semi bluff. Feeling a bit tilty I go to bed.

Next day I decide to get my mojo back at the 2pm TI shovefest as I like the room and normally do well there. Very friendly dealers and players but you have to get busy quickly given the structure. Once into the shove/fold stages I got moved to a table and met the Toyman (that’s what his T shirt said). He was a noisy New Yorker and possibly borderline insane who although would be a trial sitting next to on a long haul flight he provided just the sort of vibe that adds to the low roller experience. He had a bag behind him which he periodically delved into to pull out a toy or a hat. For instance he went all in on one hand while wearing a Harry Potter wizard hat and started saying how he was using magic to influence the cards (or something like that). Eventually he called my shove (I had KJ) while putting on a horsehead and turning over AA. As I saw the bad news he started to mime riding a horse. It isn’t like that in my local card room.

To the Aria for the 7pm tourney. I took a big hit after manoeuvring my opponent into going all in on an ace high flop when my AK got rivered by my opponent’s AQ. I then got it all in with 1010 against JJ and QQ and I am on my way to the 11pm Monte Carlo shovefest but busted before the money when I lost a race.

The next day I buy in for the first event of the Aria’s classic season for $340. I have on my immediate left a young self-appointed table captain, loudmouth and poker expert. He starts to try and work his ‘magic’ but almost visibly deflates when with a big pot developed and with two aces on the board he bets out big on the river. His heads up opponent takes about two or three minutes to make his decision before calling. The table captain reluctantly shows air and his opponent shows two pair but no ace. I can tell everyone is mentally saying ‘ha ha’.

Shortly afterwards he puts another opponent all in on the turn with two hearts on the board. The player fairly quickly makes the call on a flush draw and rivers a third heart. Cue comments such as ‘donkey call’ and now short stacked he gets knocked out the next hand by the same player. Immediately the table starts chatting and loosening up. This is what it should be like and why I quickly started enjoying the seniors events.

Meanwhile I am struggling after losing ¾ of my stack running a continuation bet with AQ with no sign of any ace or queen. However, salvation was at hand when with my stack between 10 and 15 BBs I pushed all in in the SB when the button raised only to see him call with AA. As I was contemplating my latest walk of shame I rivered a straight to double up. This gave me the momentum to progress through the bubble and eventually min cash for $478 – success at last!

The next day was my final day and decide to play as many shovefests as possible without getting anywhere near the money. These were Ceasars Palace (too big), Harrahs (scruffy and not a proper room anyway) and Planet Hollywood (too noisy). No time for another tourney so decided to play cash at Monte Carlo where I had a big score when I limped UTG with QQ and the world and his wife called. Flop was JJx and I checked to MP guy who bet out and all folded except me who made the call. The turn was a queen giving me a full house and I checked. MP guy then went all in and making sure there was no doubt in my verbal declaration I called to win a massive pot when he showed a jack for trips.

Overall I loved playing in the seniors’ events, loved playing at Binions and the GN but also enjoyed the vibe at the Aria’s poker room. I will be back for next year’s seniors WSOP event.

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  1. Man, not sure I could have gotten away from that flush either, given how the hand played out. And while 3K is a lot in the beginning levels of this tournament, you need to go with those sorts of hands early to secure breathing room for later levels, IMO.

  2. @markturner

    Basically... impossible. The Poker Gods decided you were going out on that hand.

    AK-suited wasn't going anywhere, no matter what you did; most people (most definitely including me) overplay it, but look at what he had: two overcards on a fairly low flop (which will have missed most playable hands), then the nut-flush draw on the turn, and the absolute nuts (assuming unpaired board) on the river. Unless you could make a spectacular - and credible - overbet on the flop or turn, you've ~zero fold equity.

    On the other paw, on both the flop and turn you were a 70-30 favourite to win, so you got most of your money in good. By rights your opponent should be telling a sob story about how he was slow-playing AK and some punk hit a pair of tens ("... and then he spiked a flush on the river! You just can't win with AK!")

    The only clue you're likely to have been able to get is if you'd made a significant raise pre-flop, which would normally be expected to cause the BB to fold. If he didn't, and he wouldn't with AK, you'd have to figure him for a good pair or strong ace or being completely insane. But even then you wouldn't know he'd hit the flush rather than thinking high-card-ace-with-a-king-kicker was the best hand, which it often would be.

  3. Sounds like you took a beating this trip. Hope you didn't have too many bruises. :smile:

    All I can say about that first hand is I likely would have raised in that spot. Too many other cards that can catch a higher flush. I'd want to eliminate as many players as possible. I'm really surprised BB guy didn't pop it with suited AK. But I guess he got min value out of it with little risk.

  4. I think the most unlucky part of that first hand is that you survived to the flop. The way the preflop action went, we would normally see a button raise as a steal attempt or for the BB to possibly raise AK suited to isolate one of the two opponents. I think any form of aggression and you're likely folding. That probably brings up the topic of whether or not limping preflop was your best move....from middle position with a very marginal starting hand in my opinion, I'm either folding that hand or raising with the plan of a c-bet.