September 2018
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Finally, confirmation!

After nearly five weeks I finally have confirmation of my entry into WSOP event 37!

I’ve said previously about the so-called registration hotline and my failure to reach a human and since then a kind poster on the 2+2 WSOP Forum sent me the number for the WSOP registration desk, but so far I’d still only managed to get a recorded message.

I’m loving reading that forum by the way, it’s really getting quite excited – even if most of the questions asked are along "can I walk from my hotel to the Rio".  It’s actually only about half a mile from the intersection of Flamingo and the Strip, but you’d be walking in oppressive heat over a busy freeway intersection – nowhere to stop and lovely fumes to inhale, and then still have to walk for 20 minutes to find the right end of the Rio itself!  Just take plenty of water, or you’ll probably die.

Anyway I’d left messages asking them to call me, email me – anything – to say whether my money had arrived and still no joy.  Finally today Claire convinced me that I should call the Rio’s main number and see if I could find anyone to speak to in person on a different extension.  In fact, I did and they were trying to be very helpful.

Firstly I spoke to Ron (or possibly Ray, I didn’t write it down) in the WSOP cage, who managed to confirm that my pre-registration fax had gone through but that I was unpaid.  He was only able to check my pre-registration because I managed to fish out my old Harrah’s Total Rewards card.  I hadn’t even written the number on the form because I thought it might have expired, but it would seem that Harrah’s have a very long memory…

So why was I unpaid, I asked.  He said I would have to go to the main casino cage and sign over the wire transfer to the WSOP when I arrived.  He tried to put me through to the cage so I could check they had my money but I got disconnected.

So I called back and asked for the casino cage.   They said I needed to speak to the WSOP cage and put me through before I could argue.  The phone line dropped again before anyone answered.

I called back to the WSOP cage and spoke to Ray (or maybe Ron, whichever one the first guy was not) and he said I’d need to talk to "will call", which I didn’t even know existed except if you’re going to see Penn and Teller.  They weren’t answering the phone, so good old Ray said he’d run over there himself and make sure they took the call.  Can’t fault the enthusiasm, if this is for real.  However I was on hold for a good 15 minutes before I finally gave up.

However, something went right along the way as I finally received this email this evening.  A huge relief!

Congratulations!!  The World Series of Poker is the most prestigious Poker event in the world.  This is a receipt for your payment of the Tournament Entry Fee of $1500 which reserves you a seat in WSOP Event #37 on Tuesday, July 25, 2006 at 12 noon.

Upon arrival at the RIO, to finalize your Registration and to receive your table and seat assignment, please visit our Registration Area, located in the WSOP Tournament Area.  You must complete your Tournament Registration at least one hour prior to your event.  Please be prepared to provide proof of identity via a Drivers License, Passport or Military I.D.

This year’s WSOP will no doubt be the largest and most exciting gaming event in history.  Harrahs continues to lead the industry in creating an innovative gaming experience for valued guests.  Harrahs and the Tournament Staff sincerely wish you, “GOOD LUCK!!”

Robert Daily
Tournament Director, World Series of Poker

What’s wrong with this picture?

This may have been covered numerous times in various places already – it’s about 4 years old now – but I only just got round to starting to watch the World Poker Tour box set, so – as usual – I’m just a little bit behind the times.  In any case, it’s still just wrong.

When I was watching this with Claire, we diligently paused the DVD to work it out :)   I said at first that you’d be about 70% favourite, whilst she said about 75% and I said, well actually yes that’s probably more like it.  You’re clearly a favourite as over half the deck improves you hand and there are two cards to come.

So, according to WPT you have any heart (9), 7 (3 non-hearts), 9 (3), J (3) or Q (3 non-heart) to win.  But you can also win with the other 3 10s, and somehow they’ve missed this!  As if 21 outs wasn’t enough, you actually have 24. 

There’s so many outs here that the rule of four isn’t close to accurate, and the full house redraw to lose or running pair to win makes it pretty tricky to work our from first principles, even if you can divide numbers into 45 and 44 in your head!  The rule of four would make you a 96% favourite on the hand, and with that logic the universe starts to falls apart. 

However I couldn’t believe that you’re only 2-1 here so I had to plug it into a calculator to find out if they got that wrong too…  but alas no, the answer was just over 69% - a bit better than 2-1 but not as far ahead as I thought.

What use this is I don’t really know, although it’s made me – somewhat compulsively – check out how the open-ended straight flush draw looks against various other hands.  You’re in pretty bad shape against an opponent holding 88 or 99, of course.  But you’re also behind to any overpair, the worst situation being QQ with the Q of hearts where you’re actually worse than 40% to win, and even ace-rag of hearts is just beating you.

Here’s what I didn’t consider and have subsequently learned, thanks to the WPT’s mistake!  The pair on board with two cards to come gives an opponent with any pocket pair a 17% chance to make a full house.  So even if you do improve to a straight or flush, you’ll still lose this hand one time in six.  If the board is not paired, you’ll only lose to a full house one time in 35.

WSOP Registration Hotline

This is a complete misnoma.  I just called the WSOP Registration Hotline to check on my entry – it’s been two weeks since I faxed over my form and wired the money and I’ve not heard a peep.  Not asking for much, just an email to say "thanks, we got your money" would do.

I really don’t think there’s any reason to be suspicious of Harrah’s, and I can understand that they’re going to be a little busy processing mountains of registrations so it could take a while.  I just want to know that my money got to the right place, and they know what it’s for.

Given that when I was calling Citibank to set up the wire, they read aloud to confirm the spelling of "N-E-V-A-R-D-A", even with the written confirmation they’ve sent to me, there’s still just a niggling fear that it hasn’t gone right.

The most interesting mistake I’ve seen Citibank make is when I applied for casino credit at the Stratosphere – they faxed through an account summary stating my average balance as $487,317.  Very specific and very, very wrong I’m sorry to say.  Sadly this didn’t impress the casnio enough to make them throw any free stuff at us.

So the WSOP Hotline: 1-877-FOR-WSOP.  After over four minutes of recorded blurb telling me just how great this year’s event is going to be I press the button for "if you have any questions".  Alas, there’s no human on this number though.  I’m given the option to leave a recorded message, and someone will get back to me within 72 hours.

Not very hot at all really.

Running Hot to the WSOP! [Part 4]

So let’s recap :)   I wanted to play Event 37 $1500 No Limit Hold’em, and also have a crack at a $1060 satellite in Vegas for the main event.  I think we’re nearly there.

Party Poker: $411.30
Gutshot: $1400
Blue Sq: $766

Total: $2577.30

That’ll do it!

So I’ve only bloody gone and done it.  My entry form for Event 37 has been faxed, I’ve wired the money to Harrah’s and I am going to be playing in a bracelet event on July 25th.  Takes 3-5 days for the money to arrive apparently, and then I’ll get a confirmation from the Rio.  You can be sure I’ll post it here once I have it!

You can’t register in advance for the super-satellites, you just turn up and play on the day.  Usually these take place at 7pm each night but July 26th and 27th are "Satellite Days" (in addition, July 27th is "Media/Celebrity Event Day" – whatever horrible made-for-tv monstrosity that might be).  If I’m doing well in the $1500 event, I won’t be able to play one of these, but that would be a very happy problem to have.  Only the final table will play on the 27th, so if I’m there looking fat for the ESPN cameras I won’t really care about the main event satellite!  9th place last year got $23,820 and the winner took over $300k.

The question now is whether I’ll actually try and win a seat for the main event online first…

Running Hot to the WSOP! [Part 3]

The good fortune continues.  I am H-O-T-T.

Back online this time, and I was logged into Blue Square Poker.  I hardly ever play here – most of the tournaments have rebuys and are complete donkfests.  Potentially profitable, but very frustrating, and there are many other games I’d rather play.  The strong contingent of British players doesn’t help.  Makes it a totally different game, and not in a good way.  I’m bound to rant about this some other time, so I’ll leave it at that for the time being :)

I’d actually logged in to check out the satellites for Poker 6, which sounds like a great tournament and I wanted to qualify to have a crack at this.  With live qualifiers as well as online, I was planning on having a few attempts.  However I’ve since realised I can’t play on the second day (going to see Pet Shop Boys) which would make it all a bit pointless.

Anyway, I sit in their freeroll with a $200 prize pool – eventually I finish up with $3 from this – hoorah! – and an alert pops up for a $100 freezeout about to start.  The prize pool is $3.5k guaranteed and there were only 19 players registered at the time.  I’m thinking this could be a great way to press up my winnings from the Party Poker shootouts and I just can’t resist.  I scramble for my switch card to get enough money in my account to play and just make it.

One of the annoying things about Blue Sq is that you have to do transactions in £ but then play games in $.  I have Neteller in USD, which is not accepted, and two visa cards on USD bank accounts.  No good – I still have to play in pounds and be at the mercy of their exchange rates.

At kick off there were 26 players registered, but that’s still a good overlay on the prize money – works out at $34 each and even with a $9 entry fee they are giving me $25 to taking part, which I always like!  Top five were getting paid, and the top prize of $1470 was as good as my coveted seat in WSOP Event 37.

This game was amazingly different to anything I’d played on Blue Sq before.  People folded.  People knew when they were beat.  There were some very strong players who managed to not go broke with hands that would cost many players their entire stack.  I was pretty impressed.

I was more impressed that I managed to get to the final table with a decent stack remaining.  I was even more impressed that I scraped second place, after being short stacked with 4 remaining.  Two of the big stacks went against each other, leaving three short stacks and a big stack who didn’t really want to play any more. 

I think I had quite a tight image, judging by the dialog between Conbert (3rd place finisher) and some railbird. 

conbert : im well ***** off
conbert : lucky donut mr i need a hand to raise
conbert : n sumhow gets thru
SammyArry6 : maybe luckydonut is better?!
conbert : win 55 coinflip
conbert : i had the worst cards when it went 3 handed
conbert : by far
conbert : feels well sick though
conbert : luckydonut thinks a rag ace is a fold heads up

Here’s why I’m a bad player too.

conbert : the j9 was turnin point
conbert : bets 288 flop
conbert : 228 flop
conbert : i have 89
conbert : call to trap
conbert : ne he turns j
SammyArry6 : sick
conbert : first time in my life its happened to me

Wow, nice trap with a shit pair.  First time in his life someone hit a 3-outer on him without making them pay for the next card?  I got real lucky.

SammyArry6 : i’m layin fu muppet at 1/100 to win
SammyArry6 : luckydonut available at 25′s
SammyArry6 : perhaps it should be 10000000000000000000000000/1?

So they don’t fancy my chances.  Well the other guy only had a 3-1 chip advantage…  It actually lasted just one more hand so he woz right innit.

Seat 5 : LUCKYD0NUT has $10,680
Seat 6 : fu muppet has $41,320
Stakes: 600/1,200 Current level: 9 Level up in: 14 min. Break in: 56 min.
LUCKYD0NUT is the dealer.
LUCKYD0NUT posted small blind.
fu muppet posted big blind.
Dealing Hole Cards.
Seat 5 : LUCKYD0NUT has Qd 9c
LUCKYD0NUT called 600 and raised 9,480 and is All-in
fu muppet called 9,480
Seat 5 : LUCKYD0NUT has Qd 9c
Seat 6 : fu muppet has 5s 5d
Board cards [8c 3c Ah 4h Th]
LUCKYD0NUT has High Card : Ace
fu muppet has Pair: 5s
fu muppet wins 21,360 with Pair: 5s

Anything wrong with the push here?

Anyway, 2nd place got me $875.  Total profit from Blue Sq: $766

Running Hot to the WSOP! [Part 2]

I was working in London for three days last week so it would have been rude not to take in a game or two at Gutshot.  Wednesday was a £30 game with one rebuy.  I needed the rebuy.  Holding 88 on BB with 2 limpers, the small blind completes the bet, so I check.  I don’t want to play a small pair unimproved out of position against overcards and these guys like to see a flop.  Trying to isolate is futile so I take a flop and see if I can get lucky.

The flop is a very pretty 853, with 2 diamonds.  The small blind bets 300 and I decide to just call.  I don’t very often do this, but I want to try and keep the other guys in the pot and if one of them tries to squeeze me out then I’ll be happy to stick my stack in the middle.  If I raise I might not get any more action at all with this board so I’ll take my chance against a flush draw, wait for a safe turn card and then get my money in.  In fact the two limpers fold and the turn brings a 2 that is not a diamond.

The small blind instantly moves all in, and how can I not call?  The offsuit 2 is the perfect brick – usually.  But when your opponent holds 46 for the nut straight top set is looking poorly.  Very well played indeed – I didn’t even see it.  Even if I had, I don’t think I can fold this.  He could have flopped a lower set of hold a pocket pair bigger than 88 and love the turn card.  He could even think that I’m drawing to diamonds and bet without much of a hand at all.  Mostly I’m way ahead here, and I still have 10 outs against the one hand that currently beats me to win.  Please, please, call me a donkey if you can find a way to fold here…

Playing 46 in the small blind… as they say "You’ll be alright".  But I guess I’d be calling there for cheap too just in case something wonderful does happen.  Didn’t get any further after the rebuy – needed to take a chance with my nemisis hand AJ, dealt myself two aces on the flop, but a ten on the turn gave the other guy a full house.

As fate would have it, I have to stay in London one day longer than I expected.  How can I resist the £50 freezeout that night?  Well, basically, I can’t.  This is still a self-dealt tournament, which is a bit poor, but it attracts some experienced players so the dealing isn’t too bad.  I’ll try to keep this one short, because I can’t say I wasn’t lucky.

Having literaly not played a hand for the first 90 minutes (and the only one I might have played – the best I’d seen – was QJs, which would have flopped a flush but lost to a full house), I found AA and someone raised into me for nearly all my chips.  AK vs AJ two hands later and I’m back in it.  Was chip leader at the final table for a while, and let a few players knock each other out.

The blinds were getting stupidly high – I had about 25,000 with a 2000 big blinds – so I started talking about a deal.  "I haven’t played for 5 hours for a seven way chop" said the next player to be eliminated.  It’s totally bad karma to turn down a deal.  I’d have been happy with just over £300 each.  Instead I was able to sit back and watch the field drop down to 4 players before I had to play another hand.  I won with the best hand and the worst hand at the times that mattered most (the blind situation meant things were completely in the lap of the poker gods) and ended up heads up with a small fraction of the chips.  Whilst I was surviving, the other guy was busy knocking out the other two players.  My luck continued though and I doubled and doubled again, enough that my opponent offered me a deal based on chip count and I ended up walking away with £898.  In the books I’m down as finishing in second place, but "joint first" has a much nicer ring to it!  1st place would have been £1208 and second £690, so we were effectively flipping a coin for over £500.  Not something I’m interested in doing really…

Because Gutshot is a borderline-illegal cardroom private members’ club and not a casino, you can – and are expected – to tip the dealers.  Which is a bit rich in a game that’s self-dealt until the final table, but I had to go along with the winner’s suggestion of £30 each.  They’ll be alright.

Total profit from Gutshot: £753 (approx $1400)

Running Hot to the WSOP! [Part 1]

This post is serialized and I’ve already posted the next parts.  Just a cheap trick to try and get you to come back tomorrow really :)

In case I didn’t mention it yet, I’m going to Vegas in the summer and whilst there I will play in at least one WSOP event. Whilst Claire was on a mission to get into the Main Event (and yay! she did it!) I’ve only had a few goes so far and haven’t done particularly well.  I’ll still have a few cracks at this, probably on PokerStars or Full Tilt, who are running satellites on the weekend before the event with 150 and 100 guaranteed seats respectively.

I also wanted to try and justify to myself playing a satellite in Vegas.  These come in two flavours – $225 with $200 rebuys (1 seat for every 50 buy-ins) or a $1060 freezeout (1 seat for every 10 players).  Strangely, I’m much more comfortable with the idea of the freezeout than the cheaper rebuy.  It’s not a bad structure and a one-in-ten chance of getting through seems achievable if the wind is blowing in the right direction.  Plus, so close to the main event, these games are going to be buzzing, and if I can’t make it this ill still be a great experience.

I wanted to win entry to WSOP Event 37 – $1500 No Limit Hold’em, which begins 2 days after we arrive in Vegas and is the last Hold’em event before the big one.  It’s not a brilliant tournament with just 1500 starting chips, but a slower structure than the $540 and $225 second chance tournaments that take place every night which I’d also looked at as alternatives, just so I could get a piece of WSOP action.  This one also has the added bonus of being an actual bracelet event!

There are a couple of ways to qualfiy directly for the preliminary events – Bodog and Pokershare both have satellites, but they’re at silly times.  You can also use PokerStars FPPs to buy in, but I would need to go flat out, and I’m still getting killed in their limit games (you don’t earn points half as fast playing no-limit) so that’s not an attractive option.

So I decided to just pick some tournaments and go for the cash to make my entry fees.

First blood was last Monday 22nd May – I played a $20+$2 shootout on Party Poker, which if you’ve not seen these is quite a strange format.  Each round is a single table tournament with the top three winning money and progressing to the next round.  The game ends as soon as there are three players remaining, with the highest chip count taking first place, which coupled with the fact that you take your chip count to the next table means you can’t just sneak through.

I finished 1st in round one for $44.31, second in round two for $47.06, second in round three for $90.36 and 3rd in round four for $201.06.  Total profit on the night was $360.79 – not a bad start at all.  The eventual winner was super-aggressive and that strategy worked for him.  I actually lost with 99 against his 96 offsuit.  What can you do?

I do like this format, and the strategy to not only survive but win enough chips to be able to survive in later rounds is an interesting one.  I’ve played a couple more since – getting money from rounds 2 and 3 respectively.  I’ll win it one day :)

Total profit (so far!) from Party Poker shootouts: $411.30