Mark S. Rasmussen
Aug 06

At last I got a good nights sleep before the big day, day three of the 2006 WSOP Main Event!

I had my strategy totally planned, I knew all about the guys at my table (as written in an earlier blog entry), knew about the chip stacks, who to bully and so forth. I was prepared.

My strategy was to play pretty tight and semi passive up until the bubble (which would probably arrive after 4-5 hours). Utilizing this strategy would avoid marginal situations that could bust me before the bubble, as well as establishing a great tight passive image that I could use on the bubble to steal a lot of pots.

I started out great, folded all hands for the first 15 minutes at my table, then something unexpected occurred. I heard a couple of “Sir…” behind my back, though I didn’t relly think about it. Then someone tapped me and my shoulder and said “Excuse me sir…”, I looked around and there were a floor man. “We need to move you sir, please rack up your chips and follow me”. Shit, this was not what I needed! I had no choice though, very bad timing resulted in our table needing a man to be moved, and I was just about to receive the big blind (qualifying me to be moved), dammit!

I sit down at my new table, luckily I don’t see any immediatly recognizable faces which is good. The bad news is that the average stack on this table were vastly larger than at my old table, there were probably not more than one or two stacks smaller than mine, and there were a couple of 200k stacks, yuck!

After playing about 10 minutes on the table I realized that my tight passive strategy wouldn’t hold up on this table. Most of the players were playing a good loose aggresive strategy which resulted in me being stolen from constantly, a lot of raised pots and so forth. It was clear to me that I had to make a stand to avoid being stolen too much from, and in general to survive / build my stack before the bubble.

About half an hour in I receive a hand, 4s4c in MP. My stack is around 90k, blinds are 800/1600 + 200 ante. I raise it up to 5k, I get a single caller on the button, a big stack with around 250k. My read on this guys is that he’s playing a lot of pots (which isn’t that bad when you’re a big stack), though he seems to be playing rather bad postflop, and also he seems to be playing a bit too loose aggresive for his own good.

The flop comes something like As5h9d. I bet out around 7k, my standard bet, no matter if I hit or miss. He calls. The turn comes with the Td. I don’t want to invest too much into this pot with my weak holding so I check. He thinks for 10 seconds before he also checks. His check here reassures me he doesn’t have anything on this flop, at least nothing strong. Also there are no obvious draws, so I’m actually feeling pretty good. He might have the 5 or a smaller pair that hasn’t hit. Now the turn brings a Kc which I can’t really see improving his hand. I still don’t want to invest too much, I’d puke if I bet out here and he raised me, since I’d have to fold. I check, he thinks for about 20 seconds before he bets out 10k. 10k is a rather weak bet, and it confirms my suspicion that he’s weak, I’m pretty sure he’d bet stronger if he had a better hand. I think for 30 seconds before I say “Make it 25k” - so much for playing tight passive…

He sighs and folds his hand. Great start! I’m up to around 120k. When the bubble bursts, the average stack will be about 100k, so I’m in a great spot here.

A bit later I get into a almost identical hand with the same opponent. I get 2h2d in MP, raise it up to 5k, he calls in the blinds. The flop comes Kd3h7d. He checks, I check. Flop comes with a non diamond ace, suit doesn’t matter. It goes check check again. River brings an unimportant rag (again no diamond). He bets out about 7500 into a pot of around 20k. I’m not really sure I made the correct decision here, I feel he may have a drawing hand like TJ, JQ or some kind of diamond combination that hasn’t hit. I call and he shows A9 for the turned ace, and he takes it down. In hind sight I’m not sure I should’ve called, but following my reads had worked pretty good so far. After this hand I’m down to around 85k.

After some time I receive TsTc in the big blind, my stack’s around 80k. It’s folded around to a rather aggresive good swedish player who’d stolen a lot previously. He makes it 6k preflop. I quickly make it 14k. He thinks shortly and then calls. Flop comes Ad2c9d. The pot’s a good 30k so I bet out 20k, he quickly pushes all in, yuck. I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t do this without having hit the flop as were even stacked and loosing this hand would bust him from the tournament, pretty close to the bubble. I also can’t see him doing this with a hand having hit neither the 2 nor the 9, so I’m pretty sure he has a raggy ace or possibly a mid pair. Now, I could call and bust him if he had 33-88, though it is possible that he had JJ-AA also, either making a tricky preflop play with the AA’s or simply putting me on a resteal (which would be a reasonable assumption due to his history of steals), hence not believing I’ve hit the ace. I simply can’t see myself calling this, so I end up folding, bringing my stack down around 40k, possibly a bit less.

At this point we’re only about 30 away from the money, so suddenly my strategy changes. Now my main priority is no longer to build my stack, it’s simply to make the money and then reconsider at that point. The next hour is a boring hour, I hate shortstacked play on the bubble as I have no options, and I’m too easy to push around with a lot of big stacks on the table. I end up not playing any hands at all, even folding AJ to a LP raise (I won’t run the risk of them busting me only 5 people away from the $15k bubble).

A bit before hitting the money, Jacob Juhl joins my table, sitting right across the table from me. He’s a great guy, rooting for me to make the money, thanks!

We finally hit the money, at this point my stack’s around 26k, terrible. An Acemag reporter comes by to check on mine and Jacob’s stack and I tell him, “I’m either out in 5 minutes, or I’ve tripled”. The WSOP Main Event payout structure is absolutely terrible, it’s increidbly flat, you need to hit top 81 before the prizes start to really increase. The next 5 or 6 prize steps from top 873 increase the prize by only $1k or so, thereafter it increases by $2k for some steps. The flat structure really makes it necessary to gamble after you’ve hit the money, you have to build a stack to go deep, hence my quote to the Acemag reporter.

Just a few hands later I receive JhQh in the blinds. An EP weak player (very easy to push off hands) raises to 6k (blinds 1k/2k + 300 ante). I push my 26k in, knowing I probably have to live cards in case he calls, though I naturally run the risk of him having AA/KK/QQ, AQ, AJ or other terrible hands. He folds and I rake in the pot of a round 34k.

A couple of hands later I receive KsJs in late position. It’s folded around to me, and although I have rethought this hand a lot, I can’t see me folding this. I raise it up to 6k (which is the table standard). The bigstack loose aggro caller calls from the blinds, and a rather anonymous player calls from the button. The flop comes with a perfect Jh3d5c. Since the pot’s already about 25k due to the calls, antes and blinds, I simply push in my about 25k. The button player thinks shortly and then announces call, the laggy player folds. He tables AJ, I’m in very bad shape, I’m dominated - looking for a K to help me out. Unfortunately I don’t improve, and I’m out.

After the bubble burst people are busting like crazy. We’re probably loosing about 5 people per minute (about 90 tables left). When you bust out the procedure is to stand up and wait for you to be escorted out by an official, to make sure you get the correct bustout place recorded and so forth. This is great in theory, but when 50 people bust out within 10 minutes, they’re seriously understaffed. This resulted in me having to stand at my table for 10 minutes, just thinking about the bust, nothing else. It was terrible not being able to simply walk away. Right after a bust - especially from the greatest tournament of all times - you feel incredibly flat. Could you avoid the bust? What did I do wrong? All the prize money I could’ve won.

After the 10 minutes had passed, the floor man instructing me to wait had to excuse them being so slow to escort people out, after which he simply escorted me out himself (though it wasn’t his duty to do so). I didn’t blame him as he was in no way to be blamed for it. After busting, you get escorted to a podium in the middle where your seat / name is reported, and then you get a little yellow sticker with your bustout position (#822) as wells as your prize money. This poses a problem as your bustout position isn’t reliant on the time you actually bust, but on the order in which you receive your bustout note. I was just 2 places away from a higher payout step (+$1k), so if I hadf just stood around 30 seconds more, I would’ve received $1k more. Of course this is primarily a problem around the bubble when so many people bust, but still, it doesn’t seem reasonable.

I got the money in cash, and wow, what a feeling. Although I have a bankroll of more than $15k, never before had I held such a large bunch of benjamins ($100 bills) in my hand. I felt terribly nervous, walking around with that much cash in my pocket. Luckily I met up with Frederik and his father who were also on their way home, we took a cab together.

After arriving at home, telling everybody about how I busted and leaving the cash in my backpack, we prepared to head for town. The others were planning to go the the Aladdin and play some crazy donkfest cash games, although I’d just busted, I couldn’t resist joining. I got a quick bath, and off we went.

By coincidense we met up with Klaphat and a couple of his friends so we ended up being 10 people, just perfect for a private game! We convinced the Aladdin to open up a table for us. Due to Nevada laws they couldn’t make it private, but since we were 10 people, it wouldn’t be an issue.

The game was $1/2 NL. It was an absolutely crazy game. There were straddling everywhere, all ins in the dark, pot sweetening and delicious suckouts.

I started out by being stuck $600 within 30 minutes. Then started the most incredible run I’ve ever experienced. I flopped sets everywhere, rivered quads, flopped two pair with my 52o (which I ofcourse had to limp with in MP no matter any amount of raises) and so forth. In about an hour I built my stack up to around $1500 (and we’re still talking about a $1/2 NL, $200 max buyin game).

Without boring you, I’ll just say that in the next couple of hours I managed to dump away all of my stack (most of it to the creepy lucky luckbox Mikael) so I ended up being stuck $600 again.

After busting I went over to the bar where I found Morten and Rune totally wasted due to playing video poker and receiving free drinks.

We all decided to head out to Spearmint Rhino. And you simply can’t drive out to the Spearmint in anything but a limo, se we walked over to Caesars Palace and got a limo.

Unfortunately the rest of the night belongs under the “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” category…

Mark S. Rasmussen
I'm the CTO at iPaper where I cuddle with databases, mold code and maintain the overall technical & team responsibility. I'm an avid speaker at user groups & conferences. I love life, motorcycles, photography and all things technical. Say hi on Twitter, write me an email or look me up on LinkedIn.