June 18, 2007

Las Vegas Day One - Off to a great start

Thursday 14th June 2007
Tournaments played: $1000 NLH Freezeout, Bellagio Nightly Comp.

A reasonably uneventful journey (although there was an 'incident' where I managed to crack a flimsy Virgin Atlantic plastic cup while drinking it resulting in an orange-juice tainted t-shirt, nice!) and I was in Las Vegas. I decided to go straight to the Rio to register as a player to save time tomorow. I sat down at a $5/10 NL game and was surprised at how big and fast this game was. With an unlimited buy-in, my fairly respectable $1000 was dwarfed by the $4000-6000 stacks around me. The players seemed pretty good and the guy to my left is apparently the current Aussie rankings leader. It took me a while to get into the game and dipped $500 in the first 20 minutes. But I tightened up and left after a couple of hours about even, winning a nice pot on a 9T4AK board with 9T. I think I'll stick to the much softer 2/5 game from now on, or perhaps play some limit poker.

Rob Sherwood managed to persuade me to play the $1,000 NL nightly freezeout event at the Bellagio, even though I was pretty jet-lagged by this point. It was surreal how many English players there were out of the 68 runners, and on my first table was Praz Bansi and James Akenhead amongst others. 5000 chip starting stack and 40 minute rounds. I left this table down to about 3000 chips after missing a few hands and raising KQ to find a short stack shoving with AQ.

On my next table I managed to pick up a set against an overly aggressive player, doubling up on the board Jd 4d 5c 6d with pocket 44s against his Jc Td (had to sweat out that last card). Until it was whittled down to two tables I was essentially just below average chips most of the time, picking up small pots here and there but no big-pots. I became short-stacked on the final two. Not sure of the order but I was all-in four times, twice in re-raise pushes with QQ and AQ from the big blind, a button shove with A4s met AQ for the flop to fortuitously come K9K95, and I managed to double up with KQ against AT. There were two tables for an extraodinarily long time, as 13 players remained for 2 hours, the all-in shorter stack always doubling up.

When it finally did get down to the final table I was 8th in chips. I mostly stayed out of the way whilst the shortest stack (Englishman David Gross) at the beginning was picking up hands and went to knock a couple of people out. I mangaged to get a small rush at the right time, knocking a player out with AK vs AQ and shoving over the top of a big stack after I picked up my biggest hand of the evening (KK), sadly he was one of the better players at the table and passed 99. Once the rock at the table had been blinded away (he was literally only playing KK and AA but managed to pick them up back-2-back on the final table) it was down to five. The largest stack at the table had been much too aggressive in late position whilst it had been at two tables, moving all-in for 20x the big blind with any kind of hand. He got caught out with K8 earlier but sucked out, but the other big-stack (David Gross) managed to catch him out in the big blind with AK when the other guy pushed on the button with QT off to cripple him. I managed to finish him off the very next hand when I moved all-in with AK and he called me with AQ. We played 4 handed for 5 minutes then the blind level went up to 3000/6000 (1000).

It has to be mentioned that it was now 5.45am (the tournament had started at 8pm) which was pretty crazy considering there were 68 runners. I had actually been awake for 30 hours straight by this point. This blind level made it such a crap-shoot that the whole table was happy to do a deal based on chip stacks (although I'm surprised the two shorter stacks were, because of the jump in money they could get if they had a good run of cards). I got very slightly less than 2nd place money which I was very happy with. We asked if we could play for the trophy and set aside some money but they wouldn't let us. The staff wanted to go to bed too! I had 105,000 chips at the time of the deal; David Gross had 170,000 and the other two had 50,000 and 60,000. So two Englishman got 1st and 2nd, David Gross got $24,000 for his efforts and I took home $15,500. After a fairly dry spell in live tourneys, I'm off to a good start in Vegas!

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