Tuesday, November 25, 2008

LSOP Main Event 

"Sorry homie, but I've got to raise you here."
Drunk Guy in Costa Rica, to Humberto Brenes

Back home and wanted to do a quick recap. Costa Rica rocked.

I am now the 8th best poker player in Latin America.

I still feel better about cashing in this years WSOP Main Event, but damn, I never expected to be playing with so many tough pro's in this tournament. At the Main Event there is so much dilution with so many players.

And while this was a small field for a Main Event, I don't know if I'll ever play in a tougher field. At one point on day one, I had TJ Cloutier, Humberto Brenes, Humberto's pro player brother, Alex, and Young Phan at my table. There were three online pro's playing as well making me one of the few amateurs still around.

And hell, I ended the day 6th in chips, so what can I say? I don't even play tournaments, damnit, but when I do I'm doing pretty well. Maybe I need to rethink what I'm doing.

That first day was amazing for me, realizing that not only could I hang with the big boys, but could make moves on them. But it was mostly amazing just listening to TJ and Humberto.

The structure was excellent, comparable to the Main Event of the WSOP, so we got lots of play for our money. After the first six hours, TJ and Humberto opened up their games and basically took turns stealing blinds. They rarely, if ever, contested the same pot. When Humberto's brother came in it was more of the same.

Humberto, being the local celebrity that he is, played table captain mostly. He was very vocal when anyone attacked his blinds. He was also very deprecating when picked on in table chat about his TV shark persona. God knows I hate that shit, too, but didn't see much of it in this event, despite playing with him a ton.

Here's one altercation I had with him at the end of day one. He had raised my big blind and I called with pocket sixes.

The flop came Ace - rag - rag, all spades. I checked, pondering a potential check-raise since I had the six of spades. But he overbet the pot, something I didn't remember him (or anyone, for that matter) doing all day. I started scratching my head and after ten seconds he called the clock on me.

The dealer gave him a look and he started yelling at her, "I thought you spoke English, I am calling the clock on him!"

I initially had started laughing when he did this, thinking he was joking. But after berating the dealer and having the floor called over, I started getting pissed off. I had literally taken 10, 15 seconds of time before he pulled this.

The floor started the clock (only one minute) and I was shocked. Thankfully, Tom McEvoy and Junior Phan stood up for me and explained what happened and the clock was called off. Geezus.

So now I'm trying to figure out why he pulled this. He had been nothing but entertaining, funny as hell and a straight shooter all day. He had scolded me plenty for attacking his blinds all day (I had the button on his big blind at our first table) and I was wondering if this was Costa Rican retaliation of some sorts?

But once my mind cleared, the only conclusion I could come up with was that he was trying to rattle me, goad me, get under my skin, however you want to put it. And good for him, it almost worked. If he just had an ace with no spades he likely would fold if I came over the top, but still, it just didn't make sense. He had to have me dead.

So I folded.

After day one had ended, he came over to talk to me about that hand and explained that yes, he had the nuts (AK with the king of spades) and he wanted to shake me up. He gave me a great compliment when he said, "You weren't giving anything away all day and I thought I'd do this to see if I could get you to make a mistake."

I thanked him and told him it was an honor to watch him work.

He then laughed and said if we were seated again tomorrow that: then he made a slicing motion across his throat.

And sadly, he meant it. While we didn't play together again until the final table, where he raised my freaking big blind over and over and over. Brutal.

The whole experience was like poker fantasy camp for me. I never dreamt I'd be battling with the likes of TJ and Kathy Liebert, et al, for days.

One quick note about Kathy. Despite being good friends with Tom McEvoy, they got into a heated argument when she went into the tank on a river bet at the end of a level. He obviously wanted her to speed up so he got through his blinds before the increase but she just kept telling him to call the clock if it was an issue. He was really pissed, but she kept telling him to play the damn game and not expect favors. Damn straight!

She was very quiet, outside of that, and damn near impossible to get any read on. She was the anti-female, sending out a very negative vibe. I had no clue what she was doing over there, always raising. I came away purty impressed with her play.

Probably my favorite player to play with was Junior Phan. And it wasn't just because he was one of several who assumed I was a pro and said nice things about my game. The guy is just a force of positive energy. He's one of those guys I wouldn't mind giving my chips to because of his personality. That might be the best trait you could have as a poker player.

He completely flipped out when I folded pocket kings for probably the first time in my life pre-flop.

But what the hell -- I had two all-in's in front of me! The first was a shortish stack but the second was a very tight player with chips, who I assumed had either QQ, KK or aces. My read was 80-20% in favor of aces so I dumped the kings with a sick feeling in my stomach.

And worse, my read was wrong. He had queens. But in the end, this was the hand of the tourney for me as the board came with a broadway straight for the queens and I would have been crippled had I called.

Thank God for results-oriented poker, my friends.

And as I referenced in my prior post, the final table was a disappointment due to the fact I had plenty of chips and just couldn't get anything started. I coulda easily folded into deeper money, but what's the point, right?

Note to self: when Kenna James has a monster stack, do not, under any circumstances, play a pot with him. I shoulda learned after watching his 10-7 offsuit go runner-runner to hit a boat and knock out TJ and his straight.

The last three players were Humberto Brenes (who really wanted to win this in front of his hometown crowd), Joe Williams and a True Poker qualifier who I will only refer to as That Drunk Guy.

Drunk Guy went out third and you couldn't wipe the smile off his face for the next two days. He literally was the kid on Christmas morning.

Drunk Guy also continually called Humberto, "Homie", certainly the first time ever Mr. Brenes has been tagged with this nickname.

Joe and Humberto battled for more than a few hours before Joe took it down. Great poker playing on both sides and Joe was a very cool guy. It goes without saying that I met a bunch of great people at this event and never once mentioned G&P.

And so there it is.

I spent all NFL Sunday at the largest online sportsbook in Costa Rica checking out their world. And what a world it is. The fellows who have been down there for ten years building this business are some of the most fascinating characters I've ever met.

And honestly, that's all I can say about that in print. Looking under the hood at this was head-spinning, considering that they had 8 floors and nearly 1000 people all feverishly working.

And so that's it for now. Hope you enjoyed the writeup and if you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them at the bar in Vegas in a few weeks.

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