Thursday, July 02, 2009

2009 WSOP, Day 36: Then Again, With the Name “Short-Stacked,” This Was Bound to Happen Sooner or Later

Harrington on Hold'emSo I played in a poker tournament yesterday, and something sort of memorable happened. Kind of thing yr humble gumshoe never really would’ve thought he’d experience.

Was doing okay for a while, chipping up a little, then falling back below average. Something like 150 or more entered, and by the time we’d gotten near the end of the eighth level it appeared less than half that number remained.

By then we’d arrived at the late-middle stages of the fast-structured tourney, and the blinds and antes had suddenly gotten uncomfortably large for my shrinking stack. One thing had led to another and, well, I’d let the unforgivable happen and my “M” had slipped down to about 2.

You know, Dan Harrington’s “M” -- that number that comes from dividing your stack size by the total amount of blinds/antes one pays per orbit? As Harrington explains in his Harrington on Hold'em books, when your “M” falls below 5, you’re in what he calls the “Red Zone” -- not a good spot to be. In fact, I was getting close to being in the “Dead Zone” (an “M” of 1 or less).

As I vainly tried to riffle my few remaining chips, guess who gets moved to my table?

Dan Harrington. No shinola.

Got a terrific opportunity yesterday to run over during the afternoon/early evening and play in this very fun charity tournament hosted by Howard and Suzie Lederer. The event was held at the Golden Nugget, and all of the money raised went to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Las Vegas.

Golden NuggetThere were several Full Tilt folks there and playing -- I’m sure I didn’t see them all, but I did spot Andy Bloch, David Singer, Michael Craig, Lee Watkinson there in the Grand room where the tourney was held, as well as a few other pros like Annie Duke, Dennis Phillips, and Harrington. There was a big party afterwards -- the “World Series of Barbecue” -- held at the “Tank” (the big pool) where I saw a lot of other folks who may or may not have played in the event, including Gavin Smith, Erica Schoenberg, Jeff Madsen, Joe Sebok, and many others.

It was a rebuy event, and so the play early on was not surprisingly a bit loosey goosey. I had chipped up a little to about 2,300 (we started with 2,000), then had a wild hand where I picked up KsKc under the gun and raised to 450 (blinds were 75/150). The player to my left then pushed all in for 1,350, and the player to his left thought a while then called. It folded back to me and I shoved, and the third player, who had me covered, thought a bit more and called.

With my kings I was up against pocket jacks to my left and Td9d two seats over. Flop comes 6-7-8. Turn a nine. River a ten. Pocket jacks wins the main pot, and I get about 700 or so back splitting the side pot with ten-nine.

Chipped back up a bit and got to the end of the rebuy period with just under the starting stack, so I rebought, then did the add-on and so was up at about 5,500 or so when we started back. (Huge thanks to PokerNews for funding the adventure for me, and for helping out the Boys & Girls Clubs.) In one of the first hands back from the break after the rebuy period was over, I picked up A-K, raised, and all folded. Very next hand got pocket aces, raised again, and again all folded.

Soon the blinds and antes got big, I lost a little on a failed blind steal attempt, and I was slipping toward the Red Zone. With about five big blinds left I pushed all in with 10-9 and again all folded. A little later I was all in again with A-10 against a fellow who reraised to isolate me with A-4, but the board came 8-8-9-9-8 and we chopped. So I had something like 2,300 left with blinds of 400/800 and a 100 ante when Harrington got moved to our table.

Got to stick around for a couple of orbits with him there, though was not involved in any hands against him. Finally I open-pushed my miserable stack with KsTs, the same player who’d reraised before with A-4 did it again, then a third player pushed all in as well. They had pocket eights and pocket aces, respectively. An eight flopped, and an ace came on the turn. And I was toast.

Dan HarringtonWould’ve been very cool to go deep in the sucker, as there was a ton of swag waiting for those making the final table, plus a seat on “Poker After Dark” for the winner. But it was a blast nonetheless. I went out on the last hand before the second break, and so got a chance to talk to “Action Dan” afterwards.

I introduced myself, then joked how embarrassing it was -- me sitting there with an “M” of 2 and he comes to the table. Harrington laughed and said it happens to him now and then, too. “Sometimes ya look down and see deuce-seven and ya just cahn’t bring yourself to play it,” he said in that familiar Boston brogue.

I had actually begun yesterday blogging the second day of Event No. 56, the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em Six-Handed event, then left to go play in the tourney and returned to finish out the sucker, blogging the last six hours. (Big thanks to tbostic for coming in and filling my seat during the interim.) The tourney got down to 16 players by the end. I’ll be back over there today to see the thing through.

Huge kudos, by the way, to Julie Schneider for finishing third (!) in Event No. 55, the $2,500 2-7 Limit Triple Draw event. Just plain awesome. Once that tournament and the other one (Event No. 54, the last of the $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em events) had concluded, the Amazon Room turned pretty quiet last night as our final bracelet event played out.

Today there ought to be a little more noise. There will be the Ante Up for Africa thing happening, to which a lot of celebrities will come. ESPN is filming it, too, so that should probably attract even more to the event. I think we’re going to be tucked away in the same corner of the Amazon Room where we ended last night (the Orange section) to play out Event No. 56 -- in other words, far away from the feature tables where ESPN will be filming the celebs. A bit of an anticlimax for a tournament in which the winner gets over $1 million, really.

These six-max guys like the action, and I’m reasonably confident none of them will allow their “M” to slip down to 2. Not willingly, anyhow. Follow along over on PokerNews’ live reporting page.

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