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Due to popular demand, here is my trip report thus far.

So yesterday I played in Day 1b of the WSOP ME. I had been to the Rio on two prior occasions during the WSOP so I pretty much knew what I was in for atmosphere wise. I arrived a bit early on the Party Poker bus from the MGM Grand and made my way over to my seat, seat 9, table 132.

By the time we started, everyone was there. I would estimate my table was made up of 4 internet qualifiers, maybe two people who seemed to have live-satellited in, and the remainders either pros or people who seemed very experienced with these big tournaments. The only one I recognized was Mark Mache (http://www.worldpokertour.com/playerslounge/gallery/index.php?pid=713&search=mark), who was seated on my immediate right.

We start with 10K in chips, first blind level is 25/50. Overall not a good level for me. Early on, the thing I had trouble with was trying to properly strategize about how to play such a massive amount of chips relative to the blinds. Do I play really loose, really tight, etc, etc. I mostly just played solid, tight aggressive play throughout the day, but the nerves were really affecting me the first level. The cards weren't really cooperating, and I also thought the table was probably tougher than average. One of the internet qualifiers was clearly very inexperienced, but everyone else definitely knew what they were doing. After yesterday, I have a deeper respect that the overlay I get in online tournaments is more a function of how poorly opponents play than how good I play.

Can't think of many memorable hands the first level. One I did misplay was the only time I was dealt KK yesterday. I was on the button, do a standard raise. Get reraised in the small blind. My standard play here would be to rereraise, but I was just scared and called. Flop is A33, he bets big into me and I have to fold.

All told I ended level 1 with about 6500 in chips. However, by the end of the level I felt comfortable and still had a lot of chips relative to the blinds.

Next blind level (50/100) stayed about exactly flat, which was impressive because I know with certainty I was dealt zero playable hands. Not a single pair, not a single big Ax. I managed to steal the blinds a few times to keep flat. I felt I was playing a much better game and was getting better at feeling out my opponents, so I wasn't that concerned with not accumulating chips at this point.

I was starting to get concerned with the table makeup as no one had been busted yet, while a lot were being busted out of the tourney. I don't think anyone busted from my table until level 4, so it was very difficult for anyone to accumulate chips. While I was one of the shorter stacks, no one had a big stack.

Next level (100/200) things got a little more interesting. One of the first hands I donked off a bunch of chips. Was dealt 88 one off the button, but the BB called. He had been consistently defending his blinds against me, so I didn't really know what to think of his calls. Flop was raggedy maybe one overcard and rainbow, he checked, I bet, he called. Turn was Xc putting two clubs on the board, and the action went check-check. River was a deuce of clubs. He bets 1000 into probably a 3000ish pot. I felt he could easily be bluffing here, and he didn't seem very strong elsewhere in the hand, and EV wise I felt I should make a call. Call I did, he turns over AcKc and wins with the nut flush. I felt pretty dumb with my pair of eights. Oh well, but starting to get worried. Maybe this was all for the best though as it was probably the first hand I took to showdown, and I think the table generally though I made a terrible call.

But shortly after I won a pot (I do not remember what it was) that essentially reversed the damage of the prior hand.

Then maybe a half hour later, was dealt As5s in MP and raise. The weak internet player on the button calls, as does the BB. The BB was a female pro who was very fun to play with that mentioned heading into the WSOP was the number 3 rated female tourney player, but has since been passed up by Cyndy Violette (who was seated a table over, who looks very good in person, certainly relative to other pros I saw).

Anyway, I flop the nut flush and successfully get my flop value bet paid off by both players. The turn is another spade, I make a bigger value bet, Internet donk calls (he has definitely put in a majority of his stack at this point, and the female pro figures out what is going on and folds. River is a brick, I only have about 2000 left and go all-in, he has to call IMO, but of course folds. This puts me up to around 9000 where I end the level.

Now it is level 4, the last before dinner break. Blinds are still 100/200 now with a 25 ante. Interesting how as soon as the ante level starts, although it is only 25, the called all-ins (dealers had to announce called all-ins for ESPN), started increasing exponentially. Just one memorable hand this level. I am dealt AKo on the button. All fold to me and I raise. SB folds. BB had about a half hour earlier lost a big pot and had about 6000 chips. What happened was a potentially steaming player two to my right moved all-in the hand after losing a big pot. BB player called with AK, steaming player had QQ and doubled up. Anyway, BB reraised all-in. After thinking about it a little bit, I decided to call. BB turned over TT, which is pretty much what I expected. Fortunately, I flopped and turned Aces, and busted the poor guy. ESPN has it on film.

Side note: earlier Mark Mache was crippled when he called what the table and I thought was an obvious AA with KK. Replacing him on my immediate right was none other than Mimi Rogers. Now, I am usually pretty good at this stuff, but I had no idea who she was. After awhile with all the media attention I figured out who she was. In any case, let me know if you see any pictures of her playing at the WSOP, I'm probably in them. She was very nice and played very well too. She unfortunately got sucked out on after she called an all-in from the horrible Internet player.

So after that level entered dinner break with about 14000 in chips. I would have been embarrassed to not make the dinner break, so now I was pretty happy. I felt I could bust out any time after and be happy with my performance.

After dinner, blinds were 150/300 with 25 antes. Don't remember anything from this level, had no playable cards but stole a few pots to leave the level with 14700.

Next level was 200/400 with 50 antes. I was getting a little annoyed with my cards, having not seen many good premium starting hands all day. Finally, got dealt my first AA in the SB. MP, a solid tricky player raises standard raise, I reraise 2x. He thinks for a little and puts me all in (he had maybe 2x my chips), I of course insta-call. He has KK and I hold up to get to my high water mark of around 31,000. Felt great of course, but I liked the guy and he was really beating himself up over not folding.

At this point around midnight, my mind is pretty much jelly after playing more than 12 hours. I was definitely exhausted, but so was the whole table. I'm happy though because after that double up I feel pretty certain that I'm going to survive the day.

Final level of the day (250/500 with 50 antes, really level and a quarter, we played 25 minutes into level 8) was pretty bad. My fatigue was catching up with me and also I felt at this point any edge I had was being eroded by increasingly better reads players had about me. Two or three times tried to steal blinds with reasonable but not premium hands, was reraised and had to fold.

Had three hands this level where I lost a lot of chips but made good laydowns so I actually feel pretty good about them.

Two of them went like this: Dealt A9 in LP, raise, get called by one of the blinds. Flop comes 9 high, but all hearts. Blind player bets, I fold because I have no hearts. He shows me TT with no hearts thinking I folded a better hand.

One hand MP player raises, I reraise late with AcKc, he calls Flop comes all diamonds, check-check. Turn another diamond, check-check. River a brick, he bets, I fold, he shows AdKd. Could have been a lot worse.

Two good hands I had (I'm not sure what level these were): Dealt 44 in late position and raise. Called by relatively short stacked player in the BB. Flop is KQX with two clubs (I have no clubs). I check, he bets 500 into a 2000ish pot, I raise 2000. He thinks for 5 minutes and folds TT face up.

Another hand I raise with again 44 from middle position, get called by BB. He has maybe 3000 left. Really scary flop like AKX with two suits. He checks, I read him as weak, I bet 1000, he thinks for a long time and folds and shows TT. He is extremely agitated after this, asks if I would have folded if he moved in, I say “I reserve my right to refuse to answer” which tilts him a bit more.

Another interesting hand was Mimi's bust out hand. Player two to my right goes all-in, which was a massive overbet at the time (he had I think 6000, but I'm not sure what level), Mimi with about 8000 thinks for awhile and moves in. I look down at AKs and go in the tank. Ultimately I decided to fold because many of the Aces or Kings were probably in Mimi or the other guy's hands, and I just wasn't feeling it despite the good price I was getting. I was a little annoyed when the guy flips up 66 and Mimi has AK, but the flop is 6AX and Mimi is crippled. I definitely got a little lucky here to have Mimi move in before me, if she didn't move in I definitely would have.

Add all this up and I finished the day with 13,300. Kind of disappointing but I'm really not beating myself up about it. Blinds when I return on Sunday will be 300/600 with a 75 ante, so certainly relative to most online blind structures, not a situation I'm that uncomfortable with, although I'll be one of the short stacks. Hopefully I can find a good place to double up. Always so much tougher than it sounds.

Overall, while I made more mistakes than I should have, I was pretty happy with my play once I got comfortable. I felt I was making good decisions, and that's all you can really do. I didn't have the cards during important times to really build chips. I'd also estimate my table was pretty tough, just passing around a lot of chips with probably well below average turnover (we didn't bust anyone until the 3rd or 4th level, which I thought was kind of strange relative to what was happing in the rest of the tournament).

Rio I think has a very nice setup for this style of tournament, although spectator control, bathroom access during breaks, and smoking areas could be improved.

That's about all I can think of for now. Please ask if you have any questions about what the WSOP is like. I'd love to answer.

I start tomorrow at noon. Wish me luck. Just one day to go before I'm in the money, my next goal. Pray for Aces.

Michael
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