Friday, July 13, 2007

Back in Los Angeles

Ok. So first off, my apologies to my loyal readership for not updating more than once in the last month especially seeing as how I was in vegas for the WSOP. It was a little hard for me for a few reasons. First of all, when I am in LA I have a fairly structured way I approach playing poker. I am close to casinos, I regulate my hours, I sleep in my own bed, and I try recount as much of the interesting encounters in this venue or via Poker Proteges forum. But in vegas that whole routine was thrown out because of the hubbub of the WSOP, my odd schedule of sleep, and just the out-of-townedness of the last month. That being said, vegas poker just has a different feel to it than LA poker. I guess I can't put my finger on it but Vegas poker just seems to be much more technical. I don't know if the players are better in vegas but I rarely get the same sort of situational factors to take into account that I do in LA. Factors such as realizing that player A is mad at Player B for a beat B put on A and therefore is very likely overplaying his hand currently and B knows this and is making some loose calls because of it, all the while I am sandwiched in between with the 4th nuts which is probably good, etc... In vegas, however, I find that people play much more straightforward but somehow command more respect. I know that seems a bit vague so I will try to illustrate with an example. In LA, in a 5 10 unrestricted buyin game of NLHE if someone raises to $50 in middle position and one person calls then "pot odds" compels anyone with a playable hand and deep stacks to come into the pot resulting in a trainwreck of 4-5 and sometimes 6 way action. In vegas, however, many pots are heads up or 3 way when raised. Like I said, I don't know if this signifies that vegas players are "better" per say, maybe just tighter. Pot size and big mutliway pot wins are ways to make huge profits so to fold good drawing hands here seems to be a wrong play that I see being made in vegas alot. Anyway, enough abstract characterizations.
My WSOP trip in general was a disappointment as I started off the trip amazingly up about $15K in cash games and satellites. Then I played a few $300+ buyin events at the Venetian's Deep Stack Extravaganza, one Binions $150 buyin event, and the $3K NLHE event at the World Series. I went deep in the limit event at the Deep Stack and was an early chip leader at the $3k even but managed to bust in both of those before cashing. As I have always said, tournaments are really not a strong suit of mine and not surprisingly, I still have not even cashed in non-homegame/non-satellite tournament yet even though I have probably played about 10-15 of them. Anyway, after I played some tournaments I went back to my bread and butter in the cash games and just had a horrific go at it dropping about $10K in a week. The hands themselves were mostly uninteresting except for a few hands I posted on Poker Proteges where I had big combo drawing hands but the stacks were deep and the pot was smallish so I think it justified a call down instead of push down.
Now that I am back in LA I have relegated myself to the always fun (not) bankroll rebuilding stage to make up for the $$ lost at the WSOP. So far, it has been fortuitous as I posted a $1500 profit 2 days ago at HP and then next day I dug myself out of a $1000 hole to go on a massive rush in 30 minutes to leave up $2000 again at Hollywood Park. So in the two sessions back in LA I am up $3500 and well on the way to rebuilding a healthy bankroll. I am planning on going over to Hawaiian Gardens in a few minutes because my nephew Robert (of Poker Protege fame as well) leaves near there and I will hang out with him either during or after playing.

My thoughts on the WSOP overall this year:

As always, the Rio and Vegas in general during the WSOP was a madhouse. Unlike last year, no one I knew made any sort of serious run at a tournament so I didn't have to sweat anyone. That being said Chess Grandmaster Walter Browne is apparently a poker player making two WSOP final tables coming in 7th (i think) and 2nd to cash for more than $200K. That is probably about what he has made in chess earnings over the last 40 years of his life. :0
Every poker superstar and subsuperstar was on hand and taking part in the madness at the Rio. Even if you don't have the bankroll to play either cash or tournaments I highly suggest everyone gets out to the WSOP for at least a weekend to be a part of the crazyness. That being said, I think Harrah's is still quite successful in its ongoing attempt to ass rape any semblage of respectableness left in the World Series. This year in the first event they introduced a new deck of "Hole Peek Cards" that were designed to be good for hole cams but were so hard to read that all the players made a huge protest immediately. Within two days, 30,000+ of decks of cards had to be replaced. We all know the problems with UIEGA killing off alot of online poker business. It was generally assumed that this loss of online business would also affect the online entrants to WSOP events, most notably the main event. Well, Harrah's decided to one up the US government by disallowing any third party registration. This means that online sites can no longer register satellite winners directly into tournaments and instead makes it so now the sites themselves have to just give the equivalent money directly to the accounts of winners. Its not a problem for the sites or the players but what it does is it gives the option for satellite winner to just take the money and run instead of taking the money and traveling to vegas and playing in the tournament. Its not so much a philosophically bad thing for Harrah's but it seems to be a poor business decision as you can assume at least 50% of those that win $10K+ Main Event packages online will just take the winnings instead of putting it back into the main even now that Harrah's has made that option available. I credit this to be one of the main reasons why the Main Event this year only had 6600+ participants instead of besting the 8700+ from last year or getting anywhere near the projected 10,000+. While the starting chips have been doubled for every tournament, the structures of the lower buyin events are still fairly stilted as it requires a massive amount of luck to get through these 3000+ fields in the $1500 event with the amount of chips in play. I wouldn't even venture to play in these as it is an incredible crapshoot as all pros have deemed them. Most notably, Jamie Gold, current world champion (for another 5 days) who in all respects is as crapshooty as anybody. That being said, the real gem of the WSOP this year was again the $50K HORSE event. A plethora of giants competed and although the final table this year wasn't as tremendous as last year's, it was a HORSE final table and not played as a NLHE final table. Congrats to Freddy Deeb on winning. I always knew he was a pretty good player but I now respect him incredibly more. This was no soft spot tournament, 5 days, 100K starting stacks and hour rounds against the best players in the world in a mixture of 5 games is going to flesh out a great player. I cannot wait do see this on ESPN.

I may have some more rants in the near future but I think it's time to go play a little.