I Did The Unexpected

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I did the unexpected, I won another WSOP Main Event seat for 2018.

Let me take you back 2 weeks prior. Within my poker circles, my friend Robert is hosting his inaugural charity poker event. This event supports this fight against Multiple Sclerosis.  Rob is diagnose with this horrific disease.   Rob has an avid love for poker.  Rob has coordinated a poker event where the profits go to fight Multiple Sclerosis.  In exchange, the winner is awarded with 2018 WSOP Main Event seat.  The final table finishers awarded with various other prizes but no consolation prize has my remote interest.

I personally host a large poker tournament every November in my area.  I host this even out of a ballroom on a hotel.  I generally have about 100-125 players. Since Rob knows I have been hosting live tournaments on a year basis, he asked if he could borrow some of my equipment.  I happily offered anything he needs.

The week leading up to his event, Rob borrowed 12 poker tables, all my Ugly Tuna poker chips and some miscellaneous items, i.e. button, cut cards, etc.

Since Rob is in no physical shape as he is a victim of Multiple Sclerosis, he arranged for someone to pick up all my equipment.

In my poker circles, there are always two to three of these type of charity tournaments a year.  For whatever reason, I told my wife Rose, that I was not certain to play in Rob’s event.

Yearly I host a local poker league at my house, which garners 19 other players. Each person ponies up $2400 (Rake Free).   Our league offers three seats to the WSOP Main Event each year.  The league enable three of us to play in the best tournament of the year.  It is a chance for one to turn $10,000 into some life changing money.  The winners must go and play; you cannot pocket the cash.
This league has a point system, depending on where you finish you accumulate points for your final score. Point system awards more points for the final table and from their each place, points goes up exponentially. Playing in this series really offers a different tournament dynamic and strategy.
After ten games, each player drops their worst score/finish. You are nine best scores/finish are tallied. The top two point leaders are awarded a $11K WSOP package to play in the Main Event.
Lastly, we host one more game dubbed, the “Last Chance” event. Each point you tallied from the nine prior games are converted to chips.  Going into the “The Last Chance” the 3rd place player finisher from the nine prior games would be the starting chip leader in the “Last Chance” Tournament. Whoever wins this final game, wins the final WSOP package.

Currently, we are five games into the season and I sit in 4th place after a blazing start. Only ten points separates the 2nd place player and me. At this stage, the leader board race is wide open with five games remaining.

Confident that I can win a seat via in this league also discourages me to play in these charity events.
I told my wife that I was happy to help but I had no desire to spend $500-$600 from my bankroll to play in another charity event.

A winning poker player must consider game selection.  If you do not have, an edge in the game or an event does not offer much value you should pass on it.  This event does not provide much value.
This event will probably have about 50-70 players and the only prize I care about is the top prize.  Are you willing to pay $500-$600 in a winner take all event of a field of about 60 players?
You might say we are support a good cause and it is about raising money.
Do not get me wrong I love to support a good charity. However, you, if you play in four to five of these a year the cost, can add up.  I do not personally have $2000-$3000 in expendable money to give away to charity.  Playing in all these events make me very charitable.

Each of these charities offer a WSOP Main Event seat, which is very appealing. I have won two of these before, which keeps me in the game.  What is not appealing is falling short of anything but first place.

Honestly, I do not even know what the runner up prizes are offered for the final table.  I’m not interest in tickets for good seats to a baseball/football game. Nor do I need another TV or iPad.  Moreover, they give away seats to another charity or local game, that I would being paying twice the price.

I know one thing; it is either first place or utter disappointment when I attend these charity events.
My wife Rose was asked to deal in Rob’s event.  She deals in our local WSOP league, she is asked a lot to deal in these type of functions.  Since she was dealing, she said you have to play.
I explained to Rose that I was interested in playing. However, I rather keep that money and use it for an event that offered much more value.  Such as playing in my home casino, Atlantic City’s Borgata.
Rose convinced me otherwise. In matter of fact, her exact words were “You’re going to play in it and you’re going to win!”

I laughed her off and still had no desire to play but it is not exactly hard to twist my arm to play poker. So fuck it, I am playing.

The night before the charity event was Game 5 of the WSOP league and I fizzled out in 9th place.  Our WSOP poker league event starts at 7:30 pm and generally does not end until 3 am to 4 am.  Since I am the host of these events, I am up until the end of all these events.
With the charity event starting at 10 am, it does not leave much time for sleep.
Rob also asked my good friend and neighbor Valerie to deal his event.  Valerie is a good poker dealer as she also deals in all our local WSOP Poker League games.

That next morning Rose, Valerie and I all commuted to the charity event.
Upon arrival, Rose and Valerie were summon to a dealers meeting while I bought into the event.
At the registration desk, I bought in for $250 plus another $50 to double my stack from 3000 chips to 6000 starting chips.

After a few announcements, cards were in the air.
In this event, if you are below 6000 chips you are allowed to rebuy for $150 for another 6000 chips.
After limp folding my first hand, I announced, REBUY!

I have been using this strategy at these type of events for few years now and it serves me well.
I am able to increase my stack to about 12K. This enables me become the chip leader at my table right away. Typically, no one else rebuys.  It allows me to leverage my bigger stack vs the others villains at the table.

No player today at my table used this option or strategy. Players would bust their 6K stack and rebuy for another 6K.  Some players were playing so tight, it was clear they did want to bust and rebuy and where hanging on until the add-on period.

The targets have been set.

The first six levels were 20 minutes until rebuy period was over and then you were able to add-on.  Once the add-on period was over, blinds went up to 25 minutes throughout.
I play at my best when I have chips to inflict my aggression. I have won two previous events like this, so why change now or save money now.

Scared money never prospers, they say! It is a calculated cost and my methodology.
My starting table had three faces I knew and four faces I never seen before.
Overall, all the new faces surprised me.  Rob plays in poker club in Manhattan New York, which I do not know.  So half the field made up from those players.

After a few orbits, players were playing not to bust.  Some were trying to hang on to get to the healthy chip add-on.
The only player that was not scared and I had a mutual respect was fellow rounder, Dennis. Dennis, however, is not my favorite tablemate as he complains and complains a lot when things at the table are not going right. Sometimes it can be downright uncomfortable to play on his table.  His whining can be tilting too.

Fortunately, for Dennis, everything went right for him. He easily chip up early as the chip leader but not only our table but overall.
He even took a nice pot when I had top pair with a king kicker on a semi wet board. After he call my Flop and Turn bet, Dennis made a large bet that effectively put me all in on the River.
Apparently, I was able to decipher that he had one pair beat. I folded and he was kind enough to show me that he had a straight.

Dennis showing his hand for large pot was his way to plant the seed that he has it every time. Sometimes that is the case with him; sometimes he is setting up his bluff for later.
The only complaint at the table was an intriguing player in Seat 9. He was self-proclaimed as the “Ice Man”. Ice Man was seated to the direct left of Dennis.
At first, Ice Man was a quite character. He was a late 50’s or an early 60 something. He had a white and grey beard that represented as one of the ZZ Top musicians, just not as long. He has also sported long hair tied in a ponytail.  Maybe better fit, his appearance reminded me of typical over weight, tattooed Harley Davidson bikers. He was sporting a leather jack decked out in WPT (World Poker Tour) patches.

His fingers were outfitted with silver skull rings and turquoise jewelry.  His wrist included multiple silver bracelets.
The Iceman had some trinkets that he played with when he was involved in a hand. Moreover, he had some old coins that he would flip and drop on the felt when he was facing a decision. He also had what appears as a large fake diamond that he would spin just before he made his decision.
During the first few moments of the first level, he stood up and called the floor over. He told the floor, that he was suffering from MS himself and sometimes he needs to stand up. He wanted clarification of this was okay. Everyone at our table had no issues, especially me, as I felt sorry for him.

However, his poker etiquette was not desired after each hand he played. He was slow, odd and annoying. This irked most of the players at the table. This drove Dennis nuts and Dennis had no problems provoking the Ice Man.

Dennis did go overboard with his comments, which were clearly bothering, and tilting the Ice Man. Dennis was relentless, to a point where I had made a comment for Dennis to relax. Dennis did take lot of his chips and Dennis made sure he knew it.

During a hand, which he elected not to play, the Ice Man had a conversation with me telling me about all his ailments. Feeling sorry, I tried to console him and reassuring him, this is why we are all here. We are all trying to raise money to support a good cause.
Nonetheless, Dennis did not stop his badgering or stop complaining about the Ice Man. Tilting and anger had become very apparent by now.

Soon after one of my favorite dealers came to the table. I was happy to announce to the table that one of the best dealers just joined the table. Anthony is a dealer I have known for him for few years and I have nothing but respect for him. In addition, he is good kid by my book.
However, I did point out to the table that Anthony did not have a signature move!
“Signature move?” said one girl.

Yup!! I responded. She summon me on the signature move. I said, “Let me show you”.
I picked up the secondary deck from Anthony that he was not using to demonstrate my signature move.

I shuffle the deck and slap down one burn card.  I put down all three Flop cards all face down together. I then flip over the Flop, exposing only the window card first. Slowly I slide the top card to the left, revealing the second card. With this card, I slide it to the right. Now all three cards are exposed in quick succession. My signature move!

This conversation and demonstration was all in good nature, just trying to having fun at the table.
While my demonstration is going on one side of the table, Ice Man who was involved in the current hand, jumps out of his chair and starts yelling at me.
“What The Fuck Are You Doing?”

Huh? Not sure if he is talking to me.  Then once I do realize he is confronting me I reply, “I’m demonstrating my signature move”.

No, No, No!!! Are you setting up the deck? He responds.

Huh, everyone found his remarks out of line.  I had no intentions of setting up any deck. WTF! Are you serious?

His remarks or comments did not stop there. He kept going on and on until he eventually yells for the floor again.

Anthony and other were trying to explain that this was not case and he was out of line to think if I was up to any shenanigans.

Actually, I started to become amused by the comments and found this person as a totally joke.
So the floor comes over, Ice Man was pleading his case. Even the tournament director rolled his eyes after learning what happened.

I jumped in to make fun of the situation. I was way out of line (wink wink) I told the tournament directory, I should be reprimanded with a one-hand penalty.
So the tournament director, trying not to laugh agreed. I asked if I had to step away from the table and he agreed.

So standing in front of a room full of players who are all wondering ‘WTF just happen’.
I noticed, I was going to be the BB next and I asked the tournament director if I could postpone my penalty until I am the button. Again trying not to laugh the tournament director rejected my request. Ice Man was not amused.

Last hand before the rebuy period, Ice Man opens the pot. A player recently moved to the table ships it all in with his short stack. The player behind him goes all in for slightly more chips. Its Ice Man’s turn to act, he easily has these players covered.

Ice Man goes into the deep tank.  Most players from our table and the room started to depart, as it was lunch break.
Interested in the hand I stuck around to see what the Ice Man was going to do. He counts his chips, twirls his fake diamond. Throws some his personal coins to the felt. After a good two minutes, he finally stands up after all his stupid antics and announces “The Ice Man, is all in!!!”
Both short stack players turn over mediocre hands. The Ice Man turn over his hand, Pocket Aces.
What a slow roll!!!  I yell for the dealer to punish those aces.
Poker gods did not obliged. Stunned by his poker etiquette, I just shook my head in disbelief, as I was ready for lunch.

The rebuy period is now over.  Left with about 12-13K, I was happy to pay another $200 to get 15K more chips, it was the Add-on period.
Off to lunch we went.  Was greeted by questions regarding my penalty. The first penalty I ever served in my poker career. Apparently, I have a record now.
After lunch with my wife Rose and Valerie, our table had broken and I was not moved to Table 2 Seat 1.

Valerie was dealing. At the tables, I generally mess with Valerie.  I make some funny or playful rude comments.  She has no problem dishing it back in front of the others.  It is all in good fun with each other.  Valerie has a vulgar mouth but it is her gesture of caring in fun way, when insulting me.
At this new table with mostly strangers, Val and I were calling each other some expletives as we typically do at the table for good fun.

My tablemates were entertained. They realize shortly later, we were teasing each other.
I was able to chip up slowly over the next few hours while I was at table 2. I do not remember winning and big pots nor do I remember losing any big pots. I think it was just a gradual incline of my chip stack.  Slow and steading, which has been a mantra for me.

I do remember chopping a big pot with AQ on an Ace high board and out of position to probably the best player at the table, Tony B.  Tony is an aggressive player and I was surprise by his passive line.  We both had the same hand, not once did he try to take the pot away from me when I bet the Turn and River.

Tony did remark he did not want me to raise him off the hand.  With Tony’s position, a relatively safe board I would of cease the imitative.  Typically when players have the same hand in the pot, position wins.

As late afternoon was approaching, Rose and Valerie not needed for this event anymore. They were planning to go to a good Greek restaurant not far away from this event.
Rose and Valerie would go to the hotel bar to get some drinks while Valerie waited for her husband Chris to show up.  By the time, Chris shows up, if knocked out of the tournament I would join them for dinner.

Once our table broke, I was moved to Table 1. We were down to the final two remaining tables.
This table was made up of all players I did not know except for Scotty the Baker, Ben and Chris P.
Any who has played with Chris P knows to buckle up because you are going on a roller coaster.
Chris also known as one of the nicest players I know in poker. His game is like no other. He has more heart and guts then the whole room combined. He is very happy to gamble for all his chips no matter how much or how little he has. His cards do not matter either. He is a maniac on the tables. Lots of gamble in him.

My other fellow rounders complain about Chris playing style.  Chris is always welcome at my table he is fool’s gold.

With Chris, I know either I am going to get unlucky or double through him.  Just wait for a hand that well ahead of his range and get it in.
Chris was on my table with a ton of chips. Chris armed with that stack will make it difficult to play my game.  A player of his nature is going to keep me in line a bit.  Any opens could easily be greeted with an all in by Chris.  Chris is a station too and randomly decide when he wants to gamble.
Lucky for our table Chris was moved to the other table. Good news but I was looking for some fool’s gold.

Beside Scotty and Ben, the other players I did not know.  The most intriguing players were the two girls. The other player was quite young man, named Jack, seated directly to my right.
Eden, seated to the left made the table enjoyable and fun. The other girl, Tania was feeling good as she was armed with few drinks already.

Everyone was having a blast as we joked and enjoyed each other’s company.  We joked if we are the last remaining players; we would all play the WSOP Main Event, alternating levels.
Rose and Valerie come back from the bar. I asked them for a glass of red wine, Valerie starts ripping me in front of all. Now the table and rail were part of the festivities.  Personally, this was one the best times I ever had at the poker table.

Tania was just happy that someone else was drinking when I ordered my glass of wine.  Typically during a tournament, I may order a beverage or two, helps with the aggression factor.
We were rooting for no one on our table to bust. Maybe we can outlast table 2, I said.
We shortly lost Ben and Jack and now playing shorthanded.  Valerie husband, Chris arrived and decided to watch for a bit.  He was seated behind me, with clear view of my hole cards.

Although Chris was not going to wait long, he probably prefer me to bust, so he can get some dinner.
I did run a quite large bluff versus Tania with Chris watching. I opened UTG with 34s and it is folded to Tania in the BB. She was still drinking so her response times were not up to par.

After I informed her, what would she do if it were her turn?  She finally acted, glanced at her cards, asked how much I raise.  After I answered, she remark that she liked her hand and wanted to play. She calls and remarks to play nice. My response, I am a nice guy.

Flop comes three overs card with no pair or any draws for me. Tania checks and I check behind.  This board favored her hand over mine.   Turn card is a Broadway card. She again once again checks.
Showing no signs of life in this pot, being check again to me, I decided to make a bet.
My only chance to win this pot was to get her to fold. The Broadway card was a car I was trying to represent in my hand.  While Tania was deciding, Chris was rather amused with my play when I glanced at him.

Tania ponders and calls. That is not good!

The River card pairs the board. She checks yet again.   Tania cannot have more than a one pair holding.  I decided if put in rather large bet I could get her to lay down her hand.
My only chance at winning this hand was to bet at it.  I bet 80% of the pot.  A rather large bet and until this point I never showed this much aggression in a hand versus her.  Can Tania hero call me?  If she does, I would be left with a workable stack. So I like the move, Chris might of liked it better.
In poker keeping the betting lead and poker initiative is a winning play.  I am making a play at pot that does not clearly belong to me.

The pressure is all on Tania and with a speculate holding it will be very difficult for her to call.  Her tanking proved that she does not have a great hand but she has something. Can she afford to call and lose, not really?  This added to the drama of the hand for her.  This is why aggression wins poker tournaments.

She ponders some more a remarks that she thinks her Ace high is good.

So I joined the conversation and looking back I should of just keep my mouth shut.
“Please fold I remarked. I have two small children!”

Typically, I never respond to any questions at the tables.  I think she like my answer as she folds and shows an Ace.

She asked, what do I have, a pair I exclaimed as I slide my hand into the muck. She was not please when I did not show.

At last, we reached the final table and we combined to one table. We were instructed to take some pictures for social media. After the glamour shots, all players drew their seats.  Then we were off for a quick break.

I told Rose to forget me and get dinner. If I bust I will meet up later. Rose once again reminded me that I am going to win and do not play stupid.  Just play my game.

Not as confident, I explained I am going for first place. I do not know or give a shit about the other prizes. With my plan, I am going to play a type of poker than gives me the best shot at winning. This style is going to be a high variance play, going out can happen in any given hand.
Rose countered; I better not punt off my stack. I assured her that was not the case.  Valerie and Chris wished me well and they were off.

At the final table, I quickly analyzed the stacks. I had a middling stack of the remaining players probably just below average.

I was short in relation to the chip leaders but a manageable stack.

I had approximately 125-130K. The two chip leaders were Phil and Dan both players I know from another local poker club.  They had huge stacks. Scotty the Baker was not far behind.
I was not happy to see Ed H, who was easily the best player at the table I had to worry about. My seat was not a good draw as Ed was seated two seats over to my left. Ed has a stack similar to mine, that was about the only good news.

Eden and Tania had slightly less chips than I.  Secretly Eden and I were rooting for each other. The short time bantering at the previous table had us rooting for each other. The remaining players were very short and needed a double up.

My plan at the start of this table was to peel back on the table banter and play good tight aggressive poker. I had enough chips that I can remain patient and do not need to force the action. Let the game come to me.

Looking for spots to build my stack, willing to risk it at any time.  Finishing 9th place or 2nd place it does not matter, as long it was a chance to accumulate chips.
With the cards back in the air and armed with another glass of red wine, I was ready to go.

It did not take long to lose our first player. Daryle was quickly eliminated from the final table. I do not even think he made one orbit around the table.

Next Ed proceeded to lose 40% of his stack when Eden made a large bet on the River; Ed called with AK for top pair. Eden clipped Ed when she displayed her Pocket Aces.

I gave Eden a fist bump as she won a big pot. Secretly I was happy to see the chips go to Eden. No one wants Ed with a big stack and to your left. NO ONE!!!

Very next hand it was folded to me in the small blind. Ed with an effective stack of about 70-80K was in the big blind. I peaked at my cards...

I make comment, “Should we play it friendly?” These were the earlier type of antics we were using when it was two tables to go.  Borderline soft playing.

“Nah! I need to raise,” I announced.

I slid out a stack of yellow chips. 20K!! It did not take Ed very long but he called, committing a quarter of his stack to the pot.

Ed is very sticky player, which in part makes him such a great player. Ed makes it very difficult for anyone to win pots.  He fights for those pots.  Ed will float Flops and attack at the slightest weakness you might display.  Sometimes he will have it, other times he will not.

Ed reads my 20K raise as possible a strong hand but more than like it can be shit too. My instincts say Ed is not a believer right now.  Ed, it one who does not re-raise Preflop too often Preflop.
History had many of these battles between us.  Typically, neither of us are holding very strong hands. This is just another battle on the felt between us.

The Flop comes KK3, not bad when you’re holding AK. I turned my attention, how can I get all his chips? Need a plan of action. Most players would never lead into this pot because you have such a strong holding. Generally, you will scare your villain, away.  This is Ed and he will never credit me with a King here.

If I slow play it, Ed, may fold on a later street and preserve his stack. If I can induce him to call or raise now, he going to be committed to his hand.

Checking does have its merits as it gives him a chance to catch something.

I decided to build a pot now.  Leading into this flop provides deceptiveness.
Therefore, I slide 35K out in front of me.

If Ed calls, half his stack is in.  Player like Ed is rarely folding once half his stack is in.
Ed tanks hard and I am praying for a call. I remain still; starting at the pot. Ed commits the chips. Oh, baby, I got him, I say to myself!

So what is Ed calling with? A small or middle pocket pair? That make sense.  If he has a hand like 88, he now has two pair.  Does he believe I am following up with a continuation bet?  From his perspective, I think he will proceed with caution but know I am capable of doing this with nothing. His call/float translates my holding could be weaker than I am representing.  Ed would never raise here if he had a pair 8’s not his style.  With position, he is more likely to stay sticky and take a pot control line.  Ed does indeed call.

I played the remainder of this hand unorthodox. The Turn is 4x.

I elected to check here, Ed has the ability to attack weakness.  Check back the Turn is showing just that.  Half his stack is in the pot if he has any type of equity he might attack my weakness.   My check may induce him to bet.

Unfortunately, Ed checks back!  Not what I was looking for.  Maybe he does not have two pair. Maybe he is floating me with some type of pair or an over card?

Knowing all my chips are going in on the River, no matter what.  I did something particular.  I slide out enough chips to put Ed all in before the River card is even dealt.

I have used this move before and not really sure, what it accomplishes as it really screams strength. Although I used this in the past, I think I lost every time.

Reflecting back, I did this with a player who was on a flush draw and they hit it and it became an elementary call for them. That move sure can make me look stupid when you lose.
It’s pretty likely I’m winning this hand as there were no apparent draws.  I just trying to be unpredictable with this move.  Maybe his curiosity catches a call.  I also label him as pot committed.
An Ace on the River!!

Not sure if I like that card.  Just another scared card that falls into my range.  I am now holding Kings full of Aces.  To my surprise, Ed calls rather quickly and turns over his A7.
After seeing the bad news, Ed quickly congratulated me. Ed stood up and shrugged off his defeat as a cooler. He remarks, “First lost AK to Aces and then Top pair to AK, blind versus blind”.
These chips have now put me over the 200K.  More importantly, I knocked out my toughest competitor in the process. Am I on my way?

Soon after a short stack, William and I were mixing it up a bid. William became short. A few times, it was folded to me in the SB.  I shoved with any two cards, as his stack could inflict no hard to me.
First time he folded and second time he double, third time I sent him to the rail.

Next, to go was Eden and now we were left with the final 5.  I was sorry to see her go.
Dan, Scotty, and Phil were the chip leaders in that order.

Scotty play was a bit unorthodox. Blinds were 5K/10K with a 1K ante and Scotty’s opens were rather large. He would make it 60K to go. Scotty opening frequencies were low but when he opened, he was ready to play for all chips. It was a style were he clearing did not want to be outplayed Post-flop.   With his large openings, his decisions were binary.

Thus far, it has been working for him but it is only a matter of time, a better hand will call him.
I had to fold a few hands I really wanted to see flips in position i.e. KQs, JT and I even folded AQ once.  It’s plausible to wait him out and see if we can pick him off.

I opened open the button and it was folded to Tania. Tania drinking has not stop on the final table.  Her condition might be catching up to her; the table was constantly reminding her that it was her turn to act. She would collected herself, then make her decision.  This really did not bother me; the others had more of an issue with it.  I found the situation a bit humorous.

Naturally, with AK I raised two and half times the BB.  When blinds are large, this is a good sizing for me.  It creates enough fold equity that can make my villains fold; it allows players to call with worst too.  Sometimes short stacks get an inferior hand they are willing to go with.  This makes for an easy call by the hero.

Tania announces, she really wants to play this hand and asks how much to call?  After getting the number from the dealer, she fumbles to put the chips into the pot.

Flop comes KXX on a dry board.

I continued bet and she calls rather quickly. The Turn card is a Ten.
Tania checks and I make half-pot bet.  I am greeted with a call.   Thank you very much!
Generally, when you reach the Turn, you can really define the villains’ range.  It appears to me, she has a one pair holding that she does not want to fold.

There are no draws to any straights or flushes. Top pair or second pair was likely. Can I get three streets of value?

River is blank (low card) and Tania once again checks.

Not wanting to lose her, I make a very affordable bet for her to call with.

Tania calls and I am quickly proud to display my AK. Tania then turns over KT for two pair.
Huh? Wow, I did not expect that. Top two pair never took the initiative, totally threw me off.
After assessing the damage, I am left with roughly 80K.  Everyone has a plan until you get punch in the mouth.

I am by fair the short stack and just been punched in the mouth.

With limited options, it is time to win a flip or two.  My decision are going to very easy, I put all my chips into the pot or I fold my hand.  It will be disaster to call and pray to hit a card.  So calling will never been an option for me.

My stack size is desperate and I do not have much time to wait for a premium hand.  Need to look for spots to push all my chips.  Hope for a fold or win the hand.

The correct strategy is to knowing when to shove from which position using a correct range of hands.
Exercising this correctly, separates the better players from the inexperience or bad players.
I was left with 8 big blinds and getting it in with live cards (cards that are not dominating yours), is actually a good scenario to ask for.

I did not wait long and one orbit later, I find myself open shoving blind vs blind. My villain folds and thank goodness I did not have to see how K3 would of prevailed if called. Pickup up the blinds and antes were adding 10% of equity to my stack.

Couple of hands later I am dealt 98s in the button, ready to go with this hand. This hand has lots of playability. It is connected, suited and likely not to be dominated.

It’s also one of my favorite starting hands.

Damn, my plans were detoured as Dan opened the pot in front of me on the button. My shove has just become a fold. The very next hand I get 98 on the button and this time its fold to me and all my chips went in. Slowly the blinds folded; actually it was Tania would took all the time to fold.  Yes, another hand got through.  I am not really looking to be called; I am very content picking up the blinds and antes.

I successfully got another two or three hands through. To my delight I was never called, successfully I more than doubled my stack up to approximately 180K.  All this without ever seeing a flop.  The here was still short but no longer desperate.

There seemed to be a pattern developing at my table, Scotty still over-betting Preflop, Dan is opening every single button, Phil playing tight-aggressive and Tania was still taking forever to act on her hands.

My biggest issue was Dan, he is opening every pot on the button.  I decided it time to either get some chips or go home.  I cannot let him continue to open every pot.  So far, he was getting away with it.
I will no longer let him keep doing this. I do not have a stack that I can just call him out of position and hope to hit a piece of the flop.

If I do and play passively, he will abuse me with bets.

Took me a long time in poker to understand that aggressive players do not go away just because you called.  The way you take care of a bully is to hit them back.  I am taking a stance and this will likely decide my fate in the tournament.

Granted, I am not going to start re-raising with any two cards. If I find a hand that, I deem as playable I will raise it.  If called hopefully somehow we win the pot.

No sooner as I developed this plan, Dan raised his button.  I made it 135K more with my small pocket pair.  Effectively telling Dan, I am not folding here as most of chips are in the pot.
Tania finds a fold and its back to Dan.  No snap call, that always rewarding.  Dan elects to let his hand go.  Typically in my experience, the first time you re-raise with a good image, it gets through if they actually not holding a real hand

The next orbit, Dan opens the pot to 30K and I shove with Ax suited. Once again, Tania folds and Dan does too.

I finally pushed my stack well over the 200K mark. Tania and I now have similar stacks while the other have significantly have more.

An orbit or two has pasts and Scotty opens to 70K! Another huge over bet with blinds at 6K/12K.
It is folded to me and I finally have the hand I am waiting for. With two red Queens, I stuff it, all my chips are in.

Folds back to Scotty, he was not happy. He agonized for some time.  Eventually, he says, “I think you have a big Ace” and calls.

Scotty sighs at the site of Queens humbly turns over 44. Fortunately, for me, my hand had held. I am now sitting over 400K and Scotty was left short.

For the first time, I actually thought I has a chance at winning this tournament.  With tournaments, my expectations are never to win the event.  My expectations are to play well enough to put myself in position to win.

Scotty was eliminated a short time later.  Scotty came over to shake my hand, remarks that hand was the worst starting hand he opened all final table long.

Next orbit Dan opens his button, I peer down with 66 again, I elect to 3B him, and he folds again.  I was ready for fireworks but was content with the fold.

Appears my strategy was working, next time it was folded to Dan on the button he elected to fold. Dan later follows up that fold with another folded of his SB and gives me the walk.

Fold Equity has now turned into Fear Equity.  I am picking up chips because my villains are not ready to battle with speculative hands.

Appears Pocket 6’s like me as I’m now on the button, I go for another raise with 66.  Tania debates and decides to go all in.

Not excited, I asked for a count, it will cost me an additional 160K. After putting in 80K and good odds, I was not in the mood to fold.

I make the call, Tania turns over AQ. Excited to see she was not holding a bigger pair; I was okay with any result of this race.

I tend not to be results oriented; I don’t curse my bad luck.  I concentrate on all the things I can control.  Whatever is out of my control is up to the poker gods.  If you can accept those terms, you can play tournament poker for a long time.

I stood up to watch my fate. Right in the window, I see a Queen, which was deflating.  That feeling was fleeting as a 6 displayed right behind it. With quick fist pump, the Turn card is another 6.

Quads!!!!  (Easy Game ...)

Always a good feeling when you have your opponent drawing dead on the Turn.
Regardless how this hand was played, it was a cooler because all the chips would have went in on the Flop.

Your hero is no the chip leader of 700k+ chips.  Only two players between Vegas and me.  With Dan sitting on a stack of 600K+, nothing is a given. Phil was only one double up to put himself back into the mix.

Few orbits had us trading some small pots.

Dan limps his button, first time he has limped into a pot. His range is pretty capped here.
Doubtful he ever has Aces, Kings, Queens, Jacks or probably any pair.  Doubtful he is doing this AT+.

Never seen him trap or change gears before.  Likely its connecting cards, Broadway cards or suited cards makes most sense to me.

Being cautious, I elect ot call my pocket sixes.  Generally, I reraise in this spot, short-handed.
I glance at Phil’s stack, he easily has a stack that could reshove all-in.  Phil elects to check his big blind and we see our first three-way Flop.

The Flop is a very good for my hand as it show 234.

Over pair with my pocket 6’s and a gut shot to the straight. I am not checking nor am I folding.
I slid one stack of Purple and White chips forward, 200K is the bet!

Phil debates but folds, Dan quickly shoves all in.

I ask for a count and the dealers says I need to put another 265K.
Math says I am never folding but I took a moment to see what he is can be doing this with.  Limps and piles the flop after I bet.  It screams over pair. I am sure his over pair is dominating me but knowing I got outs and the chips, I make the call.

Dan flips over 23 for two pair. What the ?!?!
Turn card is a King, no help.

The River…..a FIVE!!!!  I clap my hands with joy.

I hit my gut shot straight and eliminated the next biggest stack.  I’m an overwhelming chip leader.
I stacked my chips and to see where Phil and I stand.  I have a whopping 1.4M chips to Phil 280K.
Before we start heads up play, I made Phil an offer he could never refuse.  I told him I would be very happy to play heads-up and I like my chances at winning.   However, I am willing to negotiate a deal.  I offered $800 and declare myself the victor.

Phil quickly accepted the offer and was happy to get $800 plus his second place prize, some $2000 charity event for another WSOP Main Event seat.

I made this offer because of one thing, variance.  I have been playing this game way too many years.  I am confident in my heads up game but in poker, you can do everything right and still lose.
If $800 can guarantee me a seat in this year Main Event, it is a worthwhile investment.  I was able to afford the offer.  If he refused, I was ready to play.

If Phil doubles up once, he is at 500-600K, one more time after that he could be at chipleader with 1.2M+.  Doubtful that it would play out exactly like that, as my plan would not to play big pots against his stack until its warranted. My plan would be leveraging my stack versus his risking the least amount possible.

Anyway, I was elated to win my fifth World Series of Poker Main Event seat in 6 years.  I never take playing in the Main Event for granted and blessed to play in it again.

I have some unfinished business.  Last year's Main Event, my play was far from my best.  Never been so upset with myself.  Playing in the Main Event is a privilege, last years performance reflected my Day 1 bust out.  Incinerating $10K still has me embarrassed, for that horrible performance.  It's an expensive lesson to learned,  but that feeling still cuts deep.  I didn't deserve to be in that event last year.  I was not prepared, unmotivated and felt entitled.   Within one year, I go from cashing in the best tournament of the year to Day 1 bust out. Ugh!

Bill Gates once said, "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose."  "It's fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.”  

This year I'm using this bad taste to motivate me.  I will pledge here I will put 100% effort into this tournament.  I will not let complacency take the best of me.  When playing this game you need to dedicate yourself.  You can't you kinda of want it?  Nothing is given everything must be earned.

This year we earn it !!! I will play my best and see if it leads to something.