Two years ago I gave a view of the World Series of Poker as a spectator. Now I can give a view from a contestant. I have been following the ups and downs of Richard Harroch, author of Poker For Dummies and one of the top professional players in the world. He didn't make it into the money that year, but came back again last year and outplayed/outlasted 10,000 others to finish in the top 1,000. He got knocked on on Day 3, in 950th place. He was maybe 90 minutes away of getting to under #873 and being in the money.
In talking with him, it is clear poker professionals remember the "bad beats". Richard said last year he lost pocket QQ to AK, pocket 99 to 88, and AQ to A9 - all hands he played well and normally would have won. Wait until you hear this year's bad beat, and some other chatter he picked up in the hall.
This is from notes Richard took at the table, and it gives a very good view of what it feels like to play at the WSOP. And remember, kids - poker is for professionals, don't try this at home! Just kidding. Poker is the great leveler - a sport that an amateur can still win at. Wait until you read Richard's bad beat story! Enjoy!
So, the World Series of Poker 2007 is over for me (along with thousands of other people). The following is a log I kept during the tournament, but for those of you who have ADD and don't want to read the whole thing, I can summarize it as follows: I played for 13-1/2 hours, got very little hands until the end, then picked up a big hand on the flop, went all in on the turn, and had a guy who had nothing but a flush draw call me (with my being an 82% favorite to win the hand), and he caught one of the only 8 cards in the deck that could help him (versus the 38 that could help me). Very disappointing. If I had won the hand, I would have certainly made it to the next day with a good chip stack.
July 6, 2007. World Series of Poker at the Rio.
This is the first day of the World Series. I made it here by winning a satellite last weekend, so I did not have to pay the $10,000 entry free. There is a lot of buzz in the air. Every poker player waits all year to play in the main event of the World Series, all hoping to duplicate Jamie Gold's feat last year of winning $12 million. All hoping to be better lucky than good, as Gold was.
11:45 a.m. -- I head to the Amazon room where the tourney is being held, but they re-route everyone through the Gaming Life Expo, which has tons of booths dedicated to poker (poker is still big-- right ups in USA Today and other papers about the tournament). The Gaming Life Expo is unique, even with a pole dancer. I have done the main event 9 times, but it is still exciting and there is definitely a lot of buzz and energy around.
11:55 a.m.-- The Amazon room is filling up with every size, shape, gender and age (sizes tend to be on the bigger end, since poker players are not exactly bodybuilders or athletes). I am set at Table 10, seat 9, a good position since the button is at seat 10. We start with $20,000 in chips. The key will be for me to be patient, play position, and avoid getting unlucky. If I last, I will likely be here till 3:30 a.m. We start the blinds at 50-100 and they will go up every two hours. There are no recognizable pros at my table, but one of the guys has won a preliminary hold em tournament for $450,000 or so.
12:30 p.m.-- I have K 5 suited in position, not a great hand but everyone folded to me, and I am the button. I raise to $300 and the big blind calls. The flop comes QQ8. He checks, I bet $600 on a bluff, and he folds. I'm up!
12:31 p.m.-- Fireworks nearby. They just announce that the first person to be out of the tournament. Apparently he had pocket Kings against pocket Aces and the Kings went all in before the flop.
12:35 pm.-- I hold pocket Queens and raise, with two callers. The flop comes Ad Kd and 3d, a terrible flop, especially since I don't have a diamond. One guy bets and I fold. Wasted pocket Queens.
12:40 p.m.-- I win with a pair of sixes, I am up to $21,000 in chips.
12:45 p.m.-- The first player at our table is knocked out-- the most aggressive player. The board is KQ7, with two diamonds. There is a bet, raise, reraise, and then all in. The guy with KQ reluctantly calls, only to see that the other guy only has a flush draw. A bad play by the flush draw, and he loses all his chips when nothing comes on the river. Now the guy to my immediate right has $38,000 in chips.
1:15 p.m.-- Down to $17,500. I am getting no hands. 10 3, 7 4, 6 2.
1.45 p.m.-- Nothing, nothing, nothing. There are maniacs at the table raising big, if only I could wake up with Aces or Kings, I could make a lot of money. Some bad players here. One guy raised a little with pocket Aces, the next guy called with pocket 8s, and the last guy called with A 4. The flop came 8 5 3. Aces bet $500, both guys called. Then a 2 came. Aces bet $1200, the trip 8s raised to $5000, and the guy who turned a straight raised all in with $20,000. Unbelievably, the Aces called (with only pair) and then the trip 8s called. A blank fell on the river, so the guy with the straight now has $65,000 in chips. Sheesh, why couldn't I have that hand?
2:00 p.m. --Down to $14,000. Aarrgggggh!!
4:00 p.m. -- Down to $4000. 2 hours of death. I will need to go all in soon. I hear that Doyle Brunson has already been knocked out, along with 350 other people or so.
4:15 p.m. I hold KQ, the flop comes Q J 10, two hearts - and I don't have a heart. The idiot who called a $19,000 raise with Aces after the flop bets out $1500, another guy calls. I call. Next card is a 2, first guy bets $2500, second guy calls, I go all in. River is a Q. First guy bets, second guy folds, and the first guy shows Q7, so I win with three queens with a higher kicker. I am back up to $13,000. My first break!
4:30 p.m. First time I have had AK, so I raise to $700, and I get two callers. Flop is Q 3 6. I have flopped nothing, but I have position and I bet $1500. Both fold, so I win and am up to $15,000.
5:15 p.m.-- Blinds are now 200-400. People are raising it to $1200 as a standard move. I am down to $12,000.
5:45 p.m.-- Another bad streak. I am priced in to two flops, and nothing comes. I am down to $8000.
6:10 p.m.-- I get away with 2 bluffs in position, since I can't seem to get a hand. Up to $12,000.
6:15 p.m. This is painful. In 6 hours, I haven't had Aces or Kings, nor have I flopped much, never a set, never a flush, never a straight. It's amazing I am still in it.
6:45 p.m.-- Finally a break! With $16,000 in chips, I raise to $1200 with A 4 of hearts in first position. Three people call. Flop comes A 4 10. I bet $3000, the chip leader raises me $6000, I move all in and he calls. He was slow playing AK, but I outflopped him and it holds up. Big pot, I am up to $35,000, my highwater mark.
10.04 p.m.-- One hour without any hands. Down to $28,000. This is marked by long boring periods of just throwing away hands. I am trying to be patient, but it is wearing on me. And there is still 5+ hours to go tonight. I have to fight the tendency to play mediocre hands out of position.
10:20 p.m.-- One guy makes it $1300, and I wake up with Aces. I contemplate what to do here. Should I slow play it? Should I raise to $5300? Should I raise to $10,000 and likely win it right away? Tough decision, as I have lost tournaments with pocket Aces, so I opt to raise it to $10,000. The big chip leader thinks for a long time with AK, then mucks it. The original raiser mucks and I win the hand. If I had limped in, the AK would have raised, then I could have moved all in, so it turns out to be the wrong decision
11:00 p.m.-- Nothing for 45 minutes. Down to $24,000.
12:00 p.m.-- Nothing at all, sheesh. Its 300-600 with a $75 ante. I am down to $18,000, then lose $5000 on the next hand.
12:20 p.m.-- I have queens, just call a raise, and flop a queen. He checks into me (damn it!), I bet, and he folds. I am back to $17,000.
12:25 p.m. I get queens again, raise, and everyone folds. I am just not lucky when I finally get a hand. But I am back to $22,000.
12:45 p.m.-- They break up my table and move me to Table 49, seat 4. I don't like to move, as I have gotten a read on some people, so now I have to start anew.
1:00 p.m.-- I have pocket Jacks, I raise, and one caller. It comes K 2 10. I bet $2000, the guy calls. Then a 4 comes, I bet out $5000 (hoping he doesn't have a King) and he folds. I have $25,000.
1:30 p.m. THE HAND OF DOOM. I have $28,000 to start with, the guy to my right has $30,000. First guy calls $600, next guy calls $600, I call with K 9 of spades, and two other people call. The flop comes K 9 2, with two clubs. Two guys check to me, I bet $3500, the guy next to me calls, and the others fold. I have flopped top two pair, but am worried he has a flush draw. Next card is 6 of diamonds, a totally innocuous card. I think about it, and decide I don't want him drawing to a flush, and that if he has two pair, he would call me (but then I would have him beat). So I move all in. He calls almost all of his chips ($21,000), and he has NOTHING BUT A FLUSH DRAW! No pro would call my all in bet there. I am an 82% or so favorite to win the hand. The dreaded club comes on the river, giving him a flush. As I am yelling "NOOOOOOOOO", the ESPN camera captures me in agony (I am hoping they don't show that on TV). A horrible bad beat, by someone who should have never called. I played the hand perfectly! I am so bummed. I stagger out of the Amazon room mumbling to myself. Now I have to wait till next year to use my domain name www.PokerChampion.com. I keep thinking, if I had won the hand, I would have had $65,000 in chips and certainly gone to the next day of the tourney.
Post Script: Of course, everyone has a bad beat story that gets knocked out, so I am not alone. I hear about three other bad beats:
Hand 1: One guy has Aces, the other guy has Kings. Flop comes AKK. Four of a kind to an Aces Full Boat.
Hand 2: On the river, one guy makes a King high flush, goes all in, the next guy has made the Ace high flush and goes all in. The third guy has made a straight flush and goes all in, obviously winning.
Hand 3: On the flop, one guy makes quad 8s, and slow plays it. The other guy makes a straight flush on the river, having had to catch perfect perfect after the flop.
Ok, just remember, its better to be lucky than stupid.