Main Event Day 2b

First hand I play I double up, an instant remedy for the hurt of Day 1d. The chips are a gift from the player to my immediate left, who bizarrely just calls my under-the-gun raise when he holds AA. Of course two other people flat the raise also. Of course I flop a set of sixes on a ten-high board and lead out small. AA raises me up, I flat, check the turn, he goes all in, I call and double up.

Twenty minutes into the day Seat 3 turns up. The dealer doesn’t ask to see his ID like he has done with all the other players. “Its OK man, I know who you are” (smiles). Then I realise who it is, its Jon van Fleet, aka Apestyles, a huge Poker Stars beast. Thank f*ck he is seated to my right.
Although I have one of the best multi-table tournament players in the world at my table, my draw today is actually pretty good. Again the weaker spots on the table are situated to my left. There are three other tough (presumably pro) players in the two, four and nine seats. The empty seat to my left is filled by a tight and quiet English player. Seats seven and eight are occupied by two amateurs who do not seem to have any moves. They do not play a lot of hands and also give away some information with their body language. Good times.
My nemesis is in seat one, an american guy with a lot of chips who plays a lot of hands. I find it very difficult to figure out if he is a maniac, a really good player, or just on a heater. It seems like he might be doing what I was doing on Day 1, taking advantage of the lock-ups and putting maximum pressure on the table. However he seems to be making big bets and raises without much rhyme or reason. He seems to make big bets when the board gets scary. He gets caught making big bluffs a couple of times but he has been getting the best of this table.
Listen to this for a weird hand. Seat one raises JcQc and calls a three bet from the pro in the seat behind him. The flop comes queen high with two diamonds. Seat one check-calls the flop, check-calls the (brick) turn and then fires out the full pot of 25k on the (diamond) river. The pro shows 3d4d and rakes in a massive pot. Wtf was seat one doing? I guess he put the guy on Aces or Kings and turned his hand into a bluff on the end. During the first two levels he made several big-bet plays like this. I suspect he may have been playing on instincts, bluffing randomly or whenever he sensed weakness.
I want to make a half-decent hand against seat one and just call him down. Unfortunately I’m card dead and can’t find the spot. Lacking any big hands, I rely on a couple of steals to keep my chips up. When seat one raises and gets re-raised by Apestyles in seat three, I already decide what I’m going to do before I look at my cards. The blinds are 250/500/50 ante. Its gone raise to 1350, re-raise to 3600, action to my big blind. I look down at my hand, sit erect in my seat, pause for a moment then raise it up to 10,100. While the other players fold I think what a good decision it was to not introduce myself to Apestyles, compliment him on his book or tell him how much I have learned from him.
With a shorter stack and a much more active table, I play day 2 far tighter than day 1.
During the second level I raise JsTs in early position. My fine effort is rewarded with three callers and a king-high board with two spades on it. The tight English guy to my left is in the pot. I lead out 4k and he makes it 10k. The others fold. Time and time again I have seen players make this small-ish raise with a weak top pair. Its an information raise, “I want to find out where I am. If he comes back over the top my KJ is no good”. I am of course very happy to let him know where he is, by shoving my flush draw all in for about another 40k. He folds, I’m back up to around 66k, just below the average.
We get a 90 minute dinner break and I feel really good. I’ve bounced back from the dodgy start to almost average chips. Thats a lot of chips. I am happy with the table and if I get a run of cards I can get a lot more chips. I’m a bit confused about seat one but I think I can trap him if I can make a hand.
Five minutes after the end of the dinner break I’m out of the tournament. The table is playing six handed as not everyone has taken their seats. The small and big blinds are absent. I raise KJo under-the-gun and get called in three places, including seat one, who has position. The flop comes a nightmarish 9-T-J rainbow. There is about 10,000 in the pot. I lead out 6,500, two players fold, now seat one makes it 16,500 to go. I go into the tank.
He likely has a better hand than mine right now, most likely two pairs or a set, perhaps AJ. His raise is small-ish, offering me good odds to call. That suggests he either has 7-8 or Q-K for a made straight, or is raising two-pair or a set or AJ for information. If he is raising one of those hands for information he is likely to fold to a re-raise. He could also be semi-bluffing with a pair-plus straight draw hand like QT, QJ or Q9. I’m ahead of those hands, and also ahead of him the few times he is bluffing with air.
The safe option is to fold. I look at the pot, which contains 33,000 chips. I look at my stack, which contains about 57,000 chips. I shove all in with my top pair and gutshot, knowing that I can bluff better hands out of the pot and protect my hand against weaker ones. He instantly calls me because he has the nuts.
I say “oh shit” and get up to leave, always showing class, with a handshake and a “well played”. My three outs to a split do not show up. There is no backdoor full house. I feel cold. When my friends see me walking up the long Rio corridor they instantly know what has happened. We retire to Money Plays for Heinekens.
I realise I have fallen into the same trap that thousands of players fall into every year when they come to play the Main Event of the World Series. Only a fraction of competitors actually have the bankroll to play in this tournament, never mind the skill set or the outrageous luck required to do well. They play because they are willing to buy-in to the dream and the glory, the chance of fame and riches. The dream is very well-marketed by ESPN and Harrah’s. Somewhere between winning that seat three weeks ago, and walking down East Flamingo Road this morning, I too fell into that irrestible trap. The trap is believing that unlike the thousands of disappointed players you will do well in this event because you are special.
Like San Remo, playing this tournament has been a watershed for me. I really brought my A-game to the table and found myself competing with world-class players. I also found that there are many exploitable players at this level.
Now I have to go I my time is running out on this machine and I have loads of poker to play.

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