Day 5 (June 27): Today was pretty simple. I did my usual couple of hours at Starbucks, then met a friend/co-author at the Rio (she was playing the $10k 6-max Championship so I caught up with her to touch base before she played). Then I went to the Wynn to play the $200 re-buy. I’m thinking a little differently about this tournament, and the more I think about it, the less I like taking the add-on. The problem is that the add-on is $200 and you get 5k chips (the same as the starting stack in the tournament), but you get that 5k chips when the blinds are at 200/400. So, 5k chips really doesn’t do much there (12 BB isn’t nothing, but it’s not really something either). If the add-on was 10k chips, I think it would be good value.
I also decided to try playing it with just the original buy-in. The blinds start at 25/50, so 5k chips is 100 big blinds, which is a decent stack to work with. As it turned out, I ran top two pair into a flopped straight and ended up going broke and having to re-buy anyway (hence I was in for $425 today). I ended up min-cashing (20 places paid and I finished 20th) for $985. I was very, very happy with this result because I was on a short stack literally all day. I just never really had much to work with, so I just had to keep picking spots, stealing blinds and occasionally doubling up. So, 20th of 156 was a good result.
Tomorrow morning, I’m working on the book and tomorrow afternoon I’ll probably head back to the Wynn with Luckbox Larry to take another shot at the re-buy.
Day 6: This morning I went to my co-author’s place and did some work on the book. We made great progress, and I’m really excited about the material we’re creating. I’ve read a lot of poker book (probably 40+), and I’ve never read one quite like this. We’re going from about a 10,000-foot view (where most tournament poker books hang out) up to about 30,000 feet, and we’re stopping every 5,000 feet or so along the way. This is either like a genius analogy or a terrible one. Anyway, we’re covering a lot of ground, most of it new, and I can’t wait to see this book in print.
I played the Wynn again today and min-cashed again. I’m now 3/5 cashing in tournaments since I got to Vegas (one of those in a 1,000-person field), so I’m way ahead of expectation (in a tiny sample) there. Luckbox Larry has also been cashing at the Wynn a lot – we’re a combined 5/8 for cashing there, and he has two final tables. So that’s the good news. The bad news is I have basically min-cashed in all three tourneys. This is typically a bad sign for a tournament player. Consistently min-cashing is a good way to eventually go broke because even a very good player will cash 20% of the time or less. A min-cash is usually about double the buy-in, so min-cashing 20% of the time will leave about -60% ROI for the player. That being said, The first two cashes were despite terrible cards for almost the entire tournament.
Today’s min-cash was a little unlucky because I put together a good stack early, playing good poker, and then just got unlucky to run into a trap in a blind versus blind battle. (It was folded to the player to my right, who called in the small blind, and I was very short, so I just moved in from the big blind, and he was “trapping” with AKo. I hate his play with AKo there, but I guess it worked out for him and I ended up busting. You’ll note I didn’t say what my hand was – that’s because it didn’t matter in that spot as I would move in with any two cards – but I had 82o for the record. If you’re thinking about how crazy this sounds, consider that a player who limps there is almost always weak and will fold to a shove, and if I pulled that off, I would add 25-30% to my stack without a showdown. As it was, I got all-in as a 60/40 dog with a chance to double up and I was the raiser, not the caller. It’s necessary to do this sort of thing to stay alive in tournaments. After a certain point, playing short-stacks becomes almost exclusively situational and this was a good situation to get some chips.).
Tomorrow, I’m going to do a little writing and then I’ll probably end up back at the Wynn. It’s just too good a field to pass up. They’re playing this same tourney ($200 re-buy at 1:00 PM) every day for 20 days (there are 14 days left) with a $50k guarantee. Sometimes there’s an overlay, which is great, but even without any overlay the field is so soft that it’s great value (I actually think it’s reasonable to cash in this thing like 33% of the time over the long-run).
Day 7: I just realized it’s Wednesday and not Tuesday.
Anyway, I played the Wynn re-buy again today, and cashed again. This time it wasn’t a min-cash (I avoided that by one pay jump), but I did manage to finish 11th and bubble the final table, so at least I still kind of have the streak going. I’m now 4-of-6 cashing in tournaments since I got here. Yesterday, I actually caught some cards in the middle of the tournament, but otherwise I’ve been pretty card dead and just playing well on a short stack. I’m very, very happy with my play and I just need to get some breaks. Also, my cash at the Wynn today made me profitable at poker for the trip (the “at poker” caveat means I’m no where near covering my expenses).
The nature of tournament poker is to be frustrating. I’ve mentioned before that good players can expect to cash about 20% of the time (in normal tournaments – this tourney I’m playing at the Wynn is an exception and I think it’s possible to cash 33% of the time), which means disappointment can be expected about 80% of the time. In my case, I’m cashing a lot, but just can’t quite make the final table. It will happen eventually, but I have to continue playing my A-game so that I’m ready to win the tournament (and make the real money) when the cards fall my way.
I think I’m going to take the day off tomorrow because I doubt I’ll be able to play my A-game. Today, I actually started off a little tilty, getting frustrated when I lost with top pair, good kicker in three hands during the first level (30 minutes). I will sometimes get frustrated, but the other players often can’t see it. By the third time I lost with top pair (AQo on a Queen-high board), I was visibly frustrated. Fortunately, it didn’t affect my play and I stuck with it to get down to 11. I’m concerned that if I play tomorrow, I won’t be able to keep playing well, so I’d rather take the day off than set fire to a buy-in.
It was pretty nice in Vegas last night – breezy and cool – so the walk to Harrah’s to catch the shuttle to Rio wasn’t too bad. I’ve probably made that walk a total of five or six times now, and it’s a tough one. When I want to go from the Rio to Wynn (or vice versa), and I don’t have a car or a ride, I have to take a shuttle to Harrah’s, then walk about 15 minutes to the Wynn. The walk is literally on The Strip, so it’s very congested and touristy (complete with dudes snapping night club ad cards at you), which makes it even longer. People like to walk in groups, like three wide, very slowly so they bock the entire sidewalk for anyone wanting to get somewhere quickly. The good news is I think I’m burning a ton of calories, so no need for cardio while I’m out here.
Day 8: I started feeling a little gross at the Wynn yesterday, and I had a little trouble sleeping last night. I’m not feeling sick per se, but just feeling sort of weak and tired. I was thinking about taking the day off from poker today anyway, so this doesn’t really change much. I’m just hanging around the hotel, reading, watching Netflix and generally bumming around.
I had In-N-Out for lunch today and it was awesome. I really like In-N-Out. The food is delicious, and it’s generally a pleasant experience to visit their stores. Also, my meal was only $6. Luckbox Larry and I also went to Vons (apostrophe apparently omitted intentionally by them?), which is owned by Safeway. We needed to stock up on snacks and supplies in general. Also, we ran out of makings for PB&J, which is my go-to food for a quick, cheap meal. On The Strip, everything is basically twice as expensive as it should be, so a mediocre sandwich and fries is like $13 or so. Hence I need to conserve money by eating PB&J and stuff.
Day 9: I took it easy yesterday and I think that was the right thing to do. I felt much better when I woke up this morning and decided to play the Wynn $200 re-buy again. That is probably one of the best tournament values in Vegas this summer, so it’s tough not to play. I ended up bubbling and finishing 21 when 15 paid. I took a really nasty beat with about 45 players left:
I had QQ and got all-in against a short stack with 66 and a big stack who had TT. The 66 hand made a flush on the turn (so he tripled up), and then the river was another flush cards, so I split the remaining pot with TT because we both had a flush. The worst part is I also flopped a set, so I could’ve still won the whole pot if the river paired the board.
If I had won that pot, I would’ve had a pretty large chip stack with 45 left, and that could’ve made the difference. As it was, I was bumped down to a really short stack and still managed to survive and even chip up down to 20 players when I lost yet another coinflip to bust. In general, I’m running bad on this trip. There’s not much I can do about that except to keep playing well and hope I stop getting unlucky so I can make a deep run and finally get paid.
After I busted from the tournament, a couple friends (who had both been in and busted earlier) and I went to a pretty nice restaurant at the Wynn for dinner. We had some comps to burn, so we figured we’d use them for a nice meal. It was nice to just relax and eat a nice meal. I’m trying hard to save cash while I’m here, but it’s tough. I need to start eating more PB&J.
After dinner, I went back to the hotel (we’re at the Gold Coast again) and watched some Netflix before turning in pretty early.
Day 10: Today should be a pretty relaxed day. I’m planning to go work on the book with my co-author, and hopefully I’ll be able to do some laundry while I’m there. I should also be able to avoid spending too much money on food today, so that’s nice for a change.
My co-author and I have scheduled a meeting with another published author for Tuesday morning, and I think we could learn quite a bit from her. She’s already published on one of the publishers we’re looking at, and her book is also a poker book.
Day 11: Yesterday turned out to be pretty uneventful after all. We worked on the book for about six hours and made good progress. When we began writing the book, I knew it would be a big project and a long process, but I don’t think we really understood the magnitude of what we were getting into (at least I didn’t). It’s a very big project and is taking a lot of work.
Anyway, I’m planning to play the Wynn re-buy again today. I would really like to make the final table in that tournament – I just need a few breaks and I’ll get there. I just realized it’s already July 3rd, which means tomorrow is the 4th. I’ve heard rumors that the annual 4th of July party I attend (some friends of friends always get a Mandalay Bay penthouse with a view of The Strip, where they have several fireworks show) is happening, so that will be fun. The hosts are a lot of fun and do a great job putting the party together and just being good hosts. This particular party usually gets a pretty motley crew and I almost always meet someone new and interesting.
But that’s probably happening tomorrow. Today will be a slow day and I’ll start the publishing process for this week’s diary entries. If it isn’t already obvious, I’ve more or less settled into the Vegas/Summer/WSOP routine: hang out, play poker, write the book and repeat. I still have a few restaurants I need to get to, but I’ve mostly gotten the highlights out of the way now.