It’s 3:30 am and I just got back to the hotel after an exhausting first day. I left home about 24 hrs. ago and caught about a one-hour cat nap between 3 pm and 4 pm. After registering for the Triple Draw event at the Rio (and figuring out the best place to park, etc.), I came back to the Westin to grab something to eat and to try to get some rest before the 5 pm start. The restaurant at the Westin was surprising good — best steak salad I’ve ever had — but sleep was not easy. I ended up dozing off to Wolf Blitzer interviewing Elizabeth Edwards (can always count on Wolf to help me sleep).
I woke up to my cell phone alarm at 4 pm, dozed for another 15 mins, and then headed out. It only took 10 mins to get to the Rio earlier in the day so I figured I had plenty of time. I had not, however, counted on Friday evening traffic in Vegas. Although it was stop and go the whole way, I got to the Rio with time to spare and found my table.
With 5 minutes to go before cards were in the air, however, they announced that you could only rebuy with Rio chips, not cash. This was a minor panic, because you have to rebuy before the first hand or potentially lose the opportunity. I sprinted over the cashier to convert my cash to chips. The cashier asked for my players card and my driver’s license. No problem. Player card, check. Driver’s license, umm. Where the hell is my driver’s license? It was conspicuously absent from my wallet. I knew I’d had earlier in the day because I needed it to get a player’s card and when I registered for the event. I ended up talking the cashier’s supervisor into giving me the chips with the driver’s license, but it was still a lot of stress right before we got started. At a break, I went over to the event registration window and asked the guy if he could check to see if the woman who registered me had forgotten to return my ID. Sure enough, after a 5 minute search, he found it. Phew.
Anyway, back to the action. I sat down and instantly started recognizing faces in the field of 208. Greg Raymer, John Juanda, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Phil Helmtuh, Alan Cunningham, “Grinder” Mizrachi, “Jesus” Ferguson, etc. At my table, I had Jon Turner, a young pro with 6 WSOP cashes to his name on my immediate left, followed by Eugene Ji, another very aggressive young pro. Eugene had an amazing rush of cards and at one point just dominated the table, finishing in the top 5 at the close of Day 1. Jon and Eugene raised and re-reraised just about every pot they played but backed up the action by hitting a lot of their draws.
I tried to buy the first pot unsuccessfully when my 7 paired up on the last draw, but Jon made a “look-up” call with a queen high (typically in this game, anything higher than an 8-high will lose). I tightened up significantly and waited awhile before trying to bluff again. I spent the first couple of rounds moving up and down, but getting little in the way of traction. I lost a big pot with a 7-6 high to Eugene holding 7-5 — ouch. The very next hand, I lost with 8-6 to an 8-5, double ouch. It was a very stable table, with nobody busting out for the first 5+ hours.
Meanwhile, Phil Helmuth showed up 45 mins late and caused quite the commotion at the table in front of mine when he discovered the tournament director had taken his chips off the table. It got sorted out, he played very fast and loose, and ended up busting soon after the rebuy period ended. Alan Cunningham was also at that table, very chatting, and consistently accumulated chips.
At 8:45 pm, we broke for dinner with action resuming at 10:00. I got some good sushi in the hotel (quick and healthy), sitting next to Todd Brunson and a pack of pros.
The first level after the dinner was disastrous. I kept getting strong starting hands, lots of callers to my raises, and nothing was hitting on the draws. On one hand, I paired up on all three draws. With the blinds rising quickly, these hands were very costly. I was down to about $2,500 with blinds at $200/$400 (meaning most pots would require an investment of $1,000 to 2,400 to play to the end depending on the raises). I had to pick my spots and, thankfully, started to hit some draws.
I chipped back up to about $10K, only to see it fall back down on another close-but-no-cigar hand where my opponent hit a miracle 3 on the last draw. In the final 2 levels of the evening, however, I went on an unbelievable rush. At one point, I took down 4 hands in a row and busted two people. I took a bit of a dip right before then end and was mentally castigating myself for not coasting to the end with a decent stack. Thankfully, I took down a good sized pot on the last hand against Jon that brought me close to my high for the day.
At 2:45 am, they announced that we would resume tomorrow (today) at 4:00 pm. With 100 people left, we will either have to play all night or go to a day 3. It is unclear how that will be handled. After the final level of the evening, we filled out forms to document our chips, put them in sealed plastic bags, and filed out for a little fresh air.
My goal for this event was both bold and modest — to get through the first day still in the running. I knew it would be a smaller field than the crazy hold-em events that are drawing 2000+ players, mostly amateurs. Although the field is small (at 208), it is filled with pros. Add to that the fact that I’ve only played the game online sporadically for about a month, and I figured I was a long-shot to survive the dinner break.
Anyway, not only did I survive, but I’m in decent shape. The top 24 will get paid with the bottom getting over $5,000 and the winner receiving over $200,000. I’m currently in 30th place according to Poker News. There’s little ole me at 19,300 in 30th position, just above 6-time bracelet winner Alan Cunningham. I’m going to get some sleep and try to update more tomorrow.
You can follow the action with periodic updates online starting at 4:00 pm here.