Thursday, August 19, 2010

WSOP Recap Part Three: The Poker

I love the World Series of Poker. I feel very comfortable playing in those cavernous rooms at the Rio. I love the huge, weak fields. I love getting up every day and playing in a massive poker tournament. Despite the relatively fast structures and shallow stacks, I really enjoy playing the “donkaments.” There is palpable energy at the World Series, the summertime mecca for thousands of poker players of different nationality, skill, and bankroll. I have a very high cash rate in the smaller buy-in tournaments over the last five years, and I know that if I keep playing them eventually I will make a final table along with the accompanying big score.

The higher stakes have never gone well for me at the WSOP. My first WSOP cash came in a 2006 $5k event in which I blew a shot at a massive score. I have not cashed a WSOP tournament of more than $2500 since. I have posted an embarrassing 0 of 6 record in the Main Event, and none of those were done in by particularly bad beats.

My failures in the bigger events have been a result of some ill-timed bluffs, weak play amidst tougher competition, but also lots of bad luck. I really revved up the engines for the 5k, 5k 6-max, and 3k this summer, but took some brutal beats in the 5ks and ran an impatient bluff in the 3k. After a disastrous Main Event, I rallied in the Venetian 5k before losing a critical postflop race to the eventual champion.

Overall I would give my play a C. I rarely played poorly, occasionally played very well, often ran badly, rarely ran super hot, and misplayed 5 to 10 hands I have no business misplaying at this stage of my career. Those mistakes turn my stomach, but I take some solace in the knowledge that many of the game’s best still make similar mistakes.

It’s no secret that I am an unspectacular tournament player, despite making tournaments my craft over the last couple years. I no longer harbor fantasies of one day being one of the best. But I know there are many, many pros (and amateurs) who have made almost incomprehensible scores in the blink of an eye. I follow results closely, probably too closely considering the variance attached. I take great inspiration (and frustration) from watching my friends and colleagues. My close friends Jason DeWitt and Joel Patchell both made six-figure scores, but the most inspirational score for me was when Jon “sketchy1” Eaton got heads up with Ryan Welch for the bracelet in the 3k Triple Chance.

Earlier in the year, as I was rebuilding my tournament game, so was the sketchy1. I spent some time traveling with Jon, Paul, and Matt Stout at the beginning of the year. I felt like all of us had rededicated ourselves to the game to start 2010, and we shared a common mission. Paul and I found success early on; Jon and Matt have been on fire over the last few months. Jon’s massive score in the 3k was a beacon, a sign that The Big Score will doubtlessly come to those who work hard and keep their nose to the grindstone.

Jon’s tournament results are an inspiration to me, as are many others. It is really something to consider some of these profiles, which highlight tournament variance in different ways. Some favorites:

10. Jonathan Little (dichotomous WPT/WSOP success)

9. Chris Overgard (4 consecutive main event cashes from a Boulderite I have never met)

8. Michael Martin (European domination)

7. Gavin Griffin (begs the question if he is a great "closer" or just lucky...much like the old argument in sports whether or not "clutch" exists)

6. Shaun Deeb (the poster boy for transition difficulties from online to live play)

5. Darvin Moon (lightning)

4. Liv Boeree
3. Jordan Smith
2. Ylon Schwartz
1. Joe Bartholdi
(the ultimate inspiration: longtime grinders who made The Big Score)

The trouble with this nose-to-the-grindstone theory is that I don't keep grinding hard all year long; after the WSOP I always find myself losing interest in poker, doing other things, and falling behind the ever-steepening curve. The game is getting tougher and tougher; at times I feel like a noose is tightening around my neck. I don't really have the passion to log a lot of hours playing no limit hold em (tournaments or cash) like I used to. In fact, the most fun I had playing poker at the WSOP was in the two non hold-em tournaments I played, the $1500 Deuce and the $1500 Stud/8. I have always felt my skills were better suited to the mixed games, but have never put in the time to really improve them. There is always so much more money in NLHE tournaments, it's hard to find a financial impetus to learn the mixed games. The WSOP, WCOOP, and SCOOP are really the only places you can find sizable mixed game tournaments. Still, I would like to put in a lot of time this fall practicing the mixed games, and already found two FTOPS cashes in non-NLHE events (out of three I played).

Still, there is nothing more appealing to me than traveling somewhere to play a big buy-in no limit hold em tournament. I am starting to plot an aggressive fall travel schedule which could include any of the following destinations: LA, Vegas, Berkeley, St. Louis, Louisville, Columbus, Atlanta, Tampa, Miami, London, Vienna, Barcelona, and Prague. There is still some pop left in this bat. Tonight I am headed to L.A. for the $5k WPT Legends of Poker.


Blogger 81Trucolors said...

Good Luck!

4:43 PM  
Blogger Spencetron said...

Watch the Reds beat the Dodgers

5:47 PM  
Blogger jamalik said...

Bah, come to san diego sometime you chump... or at least give me better heads up when you come to southern cali

11:41 AM  
Blogger Michal Greenberg said...

Clutch absolutely exists, and people who doubt it are probably just bitter that they don't have it. (Alas, I myself lack the intangible clutch-ness that would make me ever-so-cool. But at least I'm not afraid to admit it.)

12:14 PM  
Blogger jamalik said...

well you can certainly be un-clutch... but clutchness is pretty widely agreed not to exist in baseball

1:11 PM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

Lot of evidence that clutchness in major sports is a figment of our imaginations.

3:02 PM  
Blogger GnightMoon said...

Despite having an NBA Jam rating along with Power, Dunk, 3pts, etc.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Question. Why would you go to columbus? You talking about Ohio? There arent any casinos there yet.

3:10 AM  
Anonymous US Pokers said...

thanks for the info it will help me

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow such fkin gayness the AQ vs AJ crap lol @ the guy tho

12:29 AM  

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