Wednesday, June 20, 2012

2012 WSOP, Day 24: Easing In

The temporary location for the MGM poker roomAs I mentioned at the end of yesterday’s post, Tuesday was a day of errands and trying to set up shop here at the home-away-from-home. Got some groceries. Unpacked (finally). Settled in.

I did swing by the Rio for a quick visit to say hello to folks and see what was happening. Phil Ivey was busy making another final table. He’s currently seventh in chips among the final nine in Event No. 35, the $2,500 mixed hold’em event.

That’s Ivey’s sixth cash so far this year, and fifth final table. At those other final tables he finished seventh, fifth, third, and second.

A little bit of buzz this morning about Ivey being more “aloof” than usual this year. See, for example, this CardPlayer article on the subject. Also note this interesting post about Ivey and Brian Hastings by Donnie Peters from the coverage yesterday, which Jessie May juxtaposed with the CP piece in a tweet late last night.

Keeping a low profile is tough when making so many deep runs. In fact, Ivey’s success this summer is adding to that impression that he’s not being as involved with the media or even other players as some would like -- after all, it’s seems like he’s been playing on the main stage in the “mothership” at a final table every other night.

I know with Ivey there’s this added sense that he somehow “owes” others something, especially after his declaration last summer that he wasn’t playing in the WSOP because other players had money still tied up on Full Tilt Poker, the site he had represented. (Still the case, of course.)

While I’m one to appreciate players making themselves available and doing what they can to support the game and the community surrounding it, I’ve never thought players should be made to feel as though they “owe” others anything along these lines.

I remember writing something way, way back in 2006 to that effect after Jamie Gold won the WSOP Main Event and everyone wondered whether he’d follow the “ambassador” model set by the most recent champs. “He needn’t feel it necessary to live up to the ‘standard’ established by Moneymaker, Raymer, and Hachem,” I said of Gold. “Nor should his actions over the next year be regarded as any ‘standard’ for future winners to follow.”

Phil Ivey in Event No. 32It would be different if this were a game (or “sport,” as some would have it) in which the players weren’t themselves providing the prize money. That is to say, it seems reasonable to me that -- for example -- the NBA makes LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and others answer questions from the media following NBA finals games.

But for poker players, that sort of thing should be their own choice. Even the socializing and engaging with other players is optional. Like tipping dealers, the players can decide for themselves how much they want to give.

I did get a chance to play a little poker myself yesterday. Late in the afternoon I wandered over to the MGM where I had ideas I might play the weekly $120 H.O.R.S.E. tournament they have each Tuesday. Kevmath had arrived in Vegas earlier in the day and he and I had talked about playing it, although by the time I went over he was saying he might be late and/or might not make it at all.

I decided to kill time at a 2-4 LHE table while deciding whether or not to stick around for the evening tourney. I walked through the MGM to the spot where the poker room used to be to find the space emptied out. Signs pointing to another room across from the buffet led me around the slot machines and to the room’s current, temporary location. I’d ask later and was told the original space was being renovated, with plans to move back this fall.

The new location was just fine, I thought (that is a picture of it up above). In fact, the new spot was much quieter and more pleasant for playing. Before there had always been this loud cacophony erupting every half-hour near the poker room that I think involved some sort of Coyote Ugly-type dancing on a bar or something. Was never very pleasant given how it made hearing each other or anything else impossible for the few minutes it lasted.

It turned out to be a fun session in which I came away with what amounted to a modest hourly rate for a profit. A few grins per hour, too.

A woman sitting to my left lasted approximately 45 minutes, leaving $50 down and three vodka tonics up. A young Englishman from near Manchester, Ian, took her seat, and over the course of the next couple of hours he and I had enjoyable conversation, made more so by the fact that we were both steadily chipping up.

DocOne other character who’d initially sat on my left then moved to my right introduced himself to me as Doc. He’d moved in order to see the board better, claiming he was half-blind despite pulling out a paperback to read between hands and asking for the Red Sox game on one of the television screens.

Doc definitely had trouble seeing the board, though, as was proven to me early when he lost a hand to me after claiming to be chasing a flush draw that wasn’t there. Another hand developed shortly thereafter between Doc and Bob who sat across from us in which Doc made the same mistake, although that one ended a bit more dramatically.

I’m pretty sure Bob raised and got a few callers who all saw a flop come something like AdJc8s. Bob bet the flop and I believe only Doc called. The turn was the 4c, and when Bob bet this time Doc quickly raised and Bob called. The river was the 2d and Bob decided to lead out once more, with Doc again raising without much hesitation.

Bob called again, and Doc somewhat confusingly called out “all black” before tabling his 5c3c for a rivered wheel. Bob shook his head and with a wry grin turned over his AsAh. He’d flopped top set, but Doc had made runner-runner to make his straight.

As the dealer pushed him the chips, Doc took a closer look at the board and began apologizing -- he’d thought he flopped a club flush draw, then hit it on the turn, which explained his play.

Doc was kind of a character, it turned out, tossing out various one-liners here and there. “My wife calls me a prince among men,” he said. “Only she spells prince with a ‘k’. Might be missing a couple of other letters, too.”

On our end of the table we were calling the bad beat Doc had delivered to Bob “hand of the day” until another arose to challenge it, one which also involved a flopped set getting undermined by a runner-runner comeback.

MGM GrandIn that one a player straddled from UTG, and sitting a couple of seats over I looked down at KhKd. I made it three bets, a short-stacked elderly gentleman in the cutoff cold-called, the woman in the big blind called, and the straddler called as well.

There were four of us, then, to see the flop come KcJh8h. It checked to me and I bet, and the cutoff and big blind called. The turn was the 4h, I bet again and both called, putting the man in the cutoff seat all in. The river brought a fourth heart, the 2h, and when my lone remaining opponent checked to me I ventured one more bet which she called.

The woman in the big blind turned over her hole cards, one of which was the Qh. I showed my king-high flush to beat hers. Then the all-in player in the cutoff turned over his -- AcAh!

Was something like a $60 pot in the end, a little bit of which I did get back thanks to the fact that the winner had run out of chips on the turn. Afterwards I thought to myself how if I’d won the hand I’d have been approaching the buy-in for the $120 tourney (no shinola), not something I necessarily had anticipated being able to pull off at a 2-4 table. Also thought how on a hand with a straddle -- actually the only time anyone had done so the entire session -- pocket kings and pocket aces had been dealt.

I ended up bailing, another exchange of messages with Kevmath making it seem like he wasn’t going to make it. He did, ultimately, as did a few others I knew, which made me later wish I’d stuck around. But in truth I was feeling a little fatigued and had some other work to take care of. Besides, I liked leaving the poker room with more cabbage than I’d had when I entered.

Today it appears I’ll head back to the Rio, probably joining with the PokerNews coverage for a couple of hours before I start in earnest tomorrow with a full shift. You know, starting slow. Easing in.

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