There is only one way to unfold WSOP 2005. That would be from the ending to the beginning. I got back into town and I have talked to a hundred people on my first day back and they all want to know the same thing, “How did it go, how did you do?”.
There I am on day number six of my trip and Lui and I are walking into the conference center at the Rio. We arrived around 10:30 a.m. in order for her to get a look at the battlefield and do a little shopping at the WSOP store. She really is the very best thing that has ever happened to me. Lucy took one look at the whole thing, making sure to see my seat (table 116, seat #2). Saint Lucy; what a trooper. More on that later. We hit the WSOP store only to find that they don’t sell anything for the grandbaby. Okay, now she’s pissed. Oh well, we buy all of the gifts we need for friends and family and it is now 11:15 a.m. Crap, I still have 45 minutes to wait until “go” time. I walk her to the front of the casino, around six miles each way; let’s just say that this first year with the new owner is a little disorganized. Anyway, I steal a little kiss and she wishes me good luck. I watch her walk away swinging her shopping bags and knowing I have already won the game of life. Now, let’s deal with the monster at hand, Event number nine, WSOP, $2000.00 No Limit Hold’em.
I take my long walk back to the ring. As I walk in, I look up and see the HUGE projection screen with all of the tournament information clicking down, “COUNTDOWN 7min 45sec”. I stop and have a brief moment with Mike Sica. Mike won event number thirty last year and we became pretty good friends in my normal cash game, as it took him 3 months to go back home to New Jersey after winning over $500,000.00 last year. I say “see you at the final table, Mike”. Mike says “hope you are to my right Mark, see you there”.
I stand at the crossroads, next to table #116 and who do I see but the “tribe”, Brad C. from the left, Jason W. in front with none other than Mr. “69” Gavin W. in tow. Yeah, that is just what I needed; the pump that has been injecting adrenaline into my stomach for the past hour takes a rest. “Hello boys!” The usual glad handing and exchange of luck and then the iron man, turns to me and says, “any last words of advice?” To be very honest, it was kind of nice to be giving the advice to a man that has been advising me flawlessly for so many years. “You know what to do Brad, just remember every step could be your last, in a tournament and you need to be able to lay down a big hand, like wired queens”. Brad is a relentless high-limit, cash player that just fires and fires and fires at pots. Today is his first really big tournament. I am still glad that he isn’t at my table. On that note, I am really glad that Jason and Gavin are across the room also. I would have to say that if there was one guy that I fear in poker, it would be Jason, mostly because he is the number one ranked online player today. I could get by that without too much trouble. This isn’t my first rodeo either, but Jason has an edge, he knows me and he plays a very conservative trapping style. I like to fire and dominate. I just plain steal a lot of my poker winnings, Jason counts on that and when he tags me one, it’s deep and often fatal. Gavin simply sleeps with angels; My AA to his 33 is about a 50 to 1 dog. I am glad the tribe is all spread out, plus I would feel bad when I knock them out, so it’s better this way.
COUNTDOWN 0:00. “Players in your seats”. “Shuffle up & Deal”.
Today I made myself a promise, no cowboy stuff early. Today we get deep. I am just going to play solid hands and lay down anything but a monster. Come on Mark! Let’s win this friggin thing! I am true to my word, and I am a very good boy for about a half-hour and then “hello darling”, I am on the button and it is folded around to me. Hey, I am at least stealing these blinds. I look down and see Big Slick AK! I pop it for $125. The little blind folds and the big blind goes all-in without saying anything. What an ASS! His all-in would put me in. I can’t call. I just toss mine in and hope he pulls that later, when I really have the goods.
I steal a couple of blinds and the first hour is dead. We are now at $25.00 and $50.00 blinds and your hero is still composed and patient. I am one off the button and look down at a couple of wired tens. This is an odd ball deal, with already 3 callers. I would normally punch that a little to trim the field, but in this case, I just call, hoping the button and the blinds do the same and we all see the flop together. I am hoping, of course, for a flop like TTA. What I get is AQ4 with 2 hearts. It gets checked around to me, so I do 70% of the pot to take it down. Call, fold, fold, call, oops…”Houston, we have a problem”. The turn is a 7 of hearts, checked to me and I am done with this hand. I check. The river is a 4 of clubs. Check to me again. I am not touching this with a 10-foot pole! I flip over my hand and everyone mucks! Okay, “what the hell were you guys playing?” I go a little card dead for a while, but patience is the key here and I am fine. I look at the table behind me and two players are going at it. David “Devilfish” Elliot just got re-raised. His response? All-In! The guy waits a little bit and then calls. The Devil had AK hearts and they didn’t improve over a pair of pocket nines, “take care David”. Hey, at least I beat him right?
I look down after a half-hour or so and I guess it is my turn to play again. Middle position and there they are, the Gabor sisters. Wired queens. It is checked to me and I make it $300.00. The small blind folds and the big blind calls. The flop gives me wood, 8Q4 rainbow, I have the nuts. The blind checks and I make it $800.00. He calls; “WTF”? The turn is a deuce and still no flush draw. I am still unbeatable. All I can think of is how to get all my money in and I get my chance. He bets out $800.00 and I re-fire “All In”. He speed calls and turns over pocket Aces. Nice hand, second, but very nice. Now I am pumped and ready to get this party going. Of the 44 remaining cards, only two of them can help him. The two aces. Any one of the other 42 cards and I double up and start stacking my chips. The river is an Ace. I decide right then and there, I will never play poker again.
I checked on the rest of the tribe. They were all doing well and didn’t need me to get them anything. I walked away.
Look for more action from the 2005 WSOP in part II as we continue to move backwards through the week.