Jul 14
by Don

Here are some random things I have been thinking about in no particular order:


– Lori will no longer play in the Ladies Event.  Every year it’s the one event that we circle on the calendar and make the pilgrimage to Vegas for, but no more.  Year after year the play is so bad and you get no chips to start with.  Even the professional women players hate this event, but they have to play it for their various sponsorships.  It’s a shove fest and no one can ever release a hand no matter what’s on the board.  So you can image the bad beats that go on.  Just gut wrenching.


– Harrah’s is really getting better at running the WSOP.  This year everything was just a little better.  They moved the registration area and it was way more organized.  There wasn’t this massive congestion at the entrance to the main room like the year before and really just more room for tables and stuff.  No “outside” tent for tables. A room only for satellites.  Just better overall. 


– I am watching Umberto playing in the main event from last year on ESPN and I can’t help but to like the guy.  He is even more personable in real life.  He doesn’t like throwing hands away, but he normally has the goods when he is in there.  Hellmuth was as advertised, but I was fine with that too.  Just watching it makes me want to get back out there.


– There is no better time to be in Vegas if you like poker.  There are so many games outside of the WSOP that are going on that there is just a cornucopia of action.  We love the DeepStack format at the Venetian, but the Mirage and Bellagio also have some great tourneys running.  Just a ton to choose from and a great time for poker players.


– Vegas is everywhere.  There are more shows, commercials, magazines; everything Vegas.  It’s more than I have ever remembered.  Even banner ads on random sites are littered with great airfare and room rates to Vegas.  Maybe I am just more aware of it all because I love it so, but I think it’s more.  I think that the Casinos are savvier now and their marketing departments are getting more sophisticated.  I don’t know, but I am loving it!

Jun 14
by Don

Well it’s my turn at the WSOP when Monday comes rolling around with Event 17; a NL Shootout event.  The format is simple actually with only 1000 people allowed in the event it’s a pretty tight field.  How it works is basically you have to win your table and you are in the money.  Then the 100 winners play in 10 tables and the winners of those tables are the 10 to the final table.


So the make up of players at your table is key in this tournament since there will not be any breaking down of tables and no one filling spots as people start getting busted out.  I am sitting in the 3rd seat with 1 and 2 empty to start the tournament.   No big deal as people are often late to start, but they normally show up in short order.


The 3rd hand in the game I get KK one under the gun and I have the guy in the 10 spot betting into me.  I flopped another K and now I am cooking. He bets out and I go back over the top of him and put the pressure on.  Well after some time he finally folds so that’s good.  I probably should have just let him hang himself, but it was so early I doubt he would have. 


Well I am raking in my chips and the guy in the 2nd seat shows up, it’s Umberto Brenes.  Oh great, the Shark is at my table and now it’s going to be that much more difficult.  Umberto is actually a great guy who is pretty genuine.  He played very solidly and didn’t really try anything on anyone, but you know he probably could have if he wanted to. 


Now we are two hours in and the 1st seat is still empty.  We have just been blinding it down when guess who finally arrives; Phil Hellmuth.  So now there are two world champions at our table and you have to beat both of them to advance.  Nice.


Phil is just as advertised.  Boisterous and loud, he is immediately mixing it up.  He notes to everyone that both he and Umberto are wearing the “old school” bracelets from their previous championships.  This is not news to anyone, but thanks Phil for pointing that out.


Well I am the big blind and I wake up with AA.  This is a dream as Phil is the button and I assume that he will try something.  Everyone folds to Phil and he just calls.  He is actually saying that he is trying to trap Umberto and gets him to call.  I of course raise, and Phil then says that he is raising it up by going all-in.  Umberto shows his cards to the other end of the table (which is something that anyone else would have incurred a penalty for, but it’s Umberto and everyone loves him) and folds, which leaves me to call Phil’s all-in.  I do it and flip over my Rockets.


Phil’s face was ghost white as he turns over JJ and when the turn brought the 3rd Ace he gets up and starts to shake everyone’s hand.  I thank him and told him I appreciated him showing up late.  He smiled and walk out after playing for about 20 mins.  Mint.


So now we are down to one World Champion left and it’s the last hand before the break.  I am the small blind and l look down and see KK.  Freaking Sweet.  Umberto raises on the button with the table behind him already folded and mostly gone for break.  Well I just call and the flop brings A-5-J and I feel good about it.  I don’t think that Umberto has an A and surely he is just making a move on me.  So I check and he bets.  I call and the turn is another 5.  I think blank, but I check just to see if he will fire another one.  He does and I call because I am not feeling great about my initial read, but I don’t want to release my hand.  The river comes a blank and I check again.  Umberto fires a 3rd shot that almost puts me all in.  I now am screwed.  Either my read was right at the start and I have the pot, or Umberto actually has an A and I am basically done.  I call and watch Umberto flip over A5 for a BOAT!  Haha.  Umberto milked me like a cow all the way down and I donked off basically all of my chips.  I come back from break and go all-in with a J10 and get bounced by Q9.  Anti-climatic for sure.

Jun 6
by Don

There is something that is hard to explain about Vegas, and it’s the 4 hour sleep cycle.  For whatever reason, I have the hardest time getting more than 4-5 hours of sleep at any one time.  We are in a beautiful suite at the Palazzo with an amazing King size bed.  Of course none of this matters.

So we mill around for a bit in the room until we go down for breakfast, which is always great because it is at the Grand Lux Café.  These are the same people who own the Cheesecake Factory, so you know the food is good and plentiful.

Now we head over to the Poker Room at the Venetian to start our Deep Stack Tourney.  What’s nice about this one is that they give you $15,000 in starting chips and 40 minute blinds so there is a lot of play for your money.

I am basically card dead for the first 3 hours with not much happening.  The blinds go up to $200/$400 with an ante and now things are moving.  I get involved with a short stack that flops a sneaky set.  When I get the King high flush and all of his chips are in I am more than pot committed at this point.  So seeing him turnover eights full, just makes my stomach turn.  I just look at my remaining $4,000 and think that my day is coming to an end.

Our table gets broken up and I sit down at a new one two from the big blind.  I fold a couple of times and get 55 in the big.  I call a minimum raise and now am in a 6 way pot.  Well I flop a nice little set of my own and I think that I might have life yet.  There are two diamonds on the board and the small blind looks down at his cards and then puts me all in with a sloppy throw of some chips.  Sure thing.  I am just hoping that my set holds up, but of course the small turns over 96 of diamonds and the river produces the 10 of diamonds; for the flush.

I am now out, but Lori is still soldiering on so hopefully she will make us proud!

More to come…

Jun 6
by Don

So we finally landed, get our bags, and traversed through the cab line at the airport. We are staying at the Palazzo and the Rio on this trip so we need to check into both places tonight. Throw in the fact that we also need to register for a couple of poker tournaments as well and you have yourself a long night made even longer.

This is our third time staying at the Palazzo and I think that they have finally got the place to a near perfect finish. All of the little sundries shops are in and everything is straight. One of the things that I love about this casino/resort is that when you walk in the air is fresh. They have incredible air exchangers that must just work like mad because you never get that dingy, musty smell that you get in the older casinos. Very Choice.

We get our stuff up to the room and then we head back downstairs to the Venetian to register for the Deepstack tourney running tomorrow @ noon. I love this poker room and every tourney that they run is a good one so I am pretty pumped.

After that we jump into another cab and head over to the Rio to check in there. It’s not too crowded in Vegas tonight so we get there with no worries. We check in and head to this room in the Masquerade tower at the far end of the hotel. This is the least desirable place to be and to top it all off it’s a smoking room. We can’t really complain because they are way overbooked due to the WSOP, so getting any room is a bonus. Not to mention that our room is comped, and we are staying at the Palazzo for half of the trip and that room makes up for this one and then some.

We head back downstairs and go over to the conference wing where the WSOP is set up. This thing is massive, but since we have been here before it has a familiar feel to it.

We sidle up to two different registration windows and sign up for Lori’s ladies event on Sunday, and my NL Shoot-Out on Monday. There is not a soul around so this goes extremely fast; tomorrow it will be a mad house so it’s good that we dragged ourselves over here.

We are walking around and see an event winding down where there are only two tables left. I see Sammy Farha and point him out to Lori. She spots her favorite poker player, Jennifer Harman. Now Jennifer is not playing and is just standing over to the side on her own. I am prodding Lori to go over and ask for a picture. To know Lori is to know how chicken she is in these sorts of situation so of course there is no picture. We duck out the side and head back to the Palazzo.

I am beat down and have been up some 20 + hours today, Lori hits the 24 hour mark herself so we conk out looking to be fresh for tomorrow which should prove to very exciting.