I returned to Paducah to do a little work before heading back Tuesday morning for the main event of the 2003 WPO. A little work consisted of delivering three babies on Monday. I drove up Tuesday morning, stopping in Union City, Tennessee to pay the speeding ticket I got the first time I drove to Tunica. Then I received yet another speeding ticket in Arkansas as I neared West Memphis. I have never won going to Tunica after getting a speeding ticket.

This was my first $10,000 buy-in event, and I was really excited to be able to play an event of this magnitude. In choosing my strategy, I had several factors to consider. Foremost was the fact that I had been away a very long time from my practice, and my revenue was going to start to suffer, as I am self-employed with about 15 employees. I had a full clinic the very next day. Hence, I decided that I didn’t want to survive to the next day unless I had a lot of chips. I was going to take chances. I was not going to allow myself to be pushed off of a big hand. I was determined to either bust out or double up.

I had a near miss, when Mike Matusow made it 150 early in the first round, and an Australian attorney raised to 600. Both Jim Lester and I mucked our pairs, his being 9’s and mine being 4’s. The flop came 9-4-2. Mike and the attorney both put all of their chips in. Had Jim and I called he would have quadrupled up and I would have been driving back to Paducah. On the other hand, I wish I had called after Jim folded.

I started the day playing well, and slowly built myself up to 12,000. But in the second level I started to decline down to 6000, before making a bit of a comeback to over 8000. Then came the big hand. There was a small under the gun raise with blinds at 50-100 to about 300. I called from the button with K-2 suited in hearts. I called because I saw the hand as a nice opportunity to trap someone, when I had good position.

One of the blinds called and we took a flop of K-10-2 with two ป๊อกเด้ง ไฮโล diamonds, and one heart. I had two pair and felt that I had a hand I could put my chips in with. The UTG preflop raiser made a small bet of around 300. I decided not to slow play what I thought was a strong but vulnerable hand. I raised to 700. The blind folded and the raiser now made it 2000. In considering the hands that he had, I felt that he was unlikely to hold any of the hands that beat me. I wouldn’t expect an UTG raise with K-10. Pocket Kings were less likely, as there was a King on the flop and I held a King.

Pocket tens were also possible, but he bet out on the flop for only a small amount with a dangerous flop with a lot of draws. I expected the tens to be played differently. Pocket deuces were also less likely because of the deuce on the board and in my hand. What I considered more likely was the possibility of being up against A-K, A-A, or K-Q. In keeping with my plan of action, I was willing to risk it all having a decent hand on the flop and vulnerability to a lot of draws. Thus I moved all-in and he called instantly. To my chagrin he had the pocket 10’s and I failed to catch either my King or my backdoor flush draw. I guess I was the one who got trapped.

Before I knew it I was on the road again back to Paducah. Even though I had decided to play decent hands for all of my chips in that way, I still felt quite dejected. I feel like I am becoming a set magnet, as I am starting to get picked off by them in various no limit tournaments. When I played the main event of the 4-Queens Classic, I think I let myself be pushed off of hands too easily for fear of sets. Since October I have repeatedly failed to lay down hands against sets. So for the next few weeks until I get to the Commerce in the LA Poker Classic, I will be considering whether I should be laying down a few more hands.

World Poker Open, January 26, 2003: 3:00 AM

When last I had written, I was about to enter the $2000 no-limit Hold-em event. I was one of the first ones out. I was trapped with top pair on a few occasions and left finally when my A-K hit a flop of K-5-2, and I encountered a set of twos.

I played some short handed 50-100 Omaha 8 with Chris Bjorn and I flopped 9’s full of deuces, while he had quad deuces. We both checked the flop and we found ourselves capping the turn and river. I just refused to consider the fact that he had quads until the last bet. That was another 1000 down.

Then came the supersatellite. It started great. I tripled up on the first hand, when I flopped a straight draw along with a flush draw. The next hand I played saw me flop a fullhouse with my pocket sixes, but I lost because it was sixes full of aces and the guy with the ace caught his card on the turn. I ended up busting out three times before I gave up. I must have been playing bad, because they were all asking me to stay, but I was thoroughly disenchanted with everything.

I had pretty much reached the conclusion that I was not coming back after Sunday. I decided to give it one more shot in a $1000 per person single table satellite. I had signed up for one, but had become embroiled in a $220 buy in satellite, so I agreed to pass on the first big satellite and ended up taking a seat in the second one, which worked out nicely, because the first table had a real tough line-up. There were a few notable players in my satellite, including Alex Brenes, Steve Melton and Asher Derei.

I doubled up quickly with pocket Queens against Alex Brenes’ 10’s. I was able to get away from pocket Jacks after the player to my left limp raised with Aces before the flop. Later I eliminated a player with pocket Jacks when he went all-in with 8’s and I was second largest stack. The key hand came soon after that. We all limped in and I was holding pocket 3’s. I flopped quads. The small blind bet 500, then the only player with more chips than me moved all-in. I spent a long time considering my call, in hopes of bringing in the initial better, but he mucked. This doubled me up and from there I was in control.

The last big hand came when we were four handed and Steve Melton raised my blind. I put him all-in with K-Q and he had pocket 4’s. I caught my over card and he was gone, which relieved me, as I have found him to be a difficult opponent to beat. I also had over 70% of the chips. I got Asher Derei next and finished off my remaining opponent never losing my 5 to 1 chip advantage.

I got my seat after all. It seems so ironic to me that my perceived weakness has become my strength, that being single table satellites. I have to strongly recommend yet again the one-table tournaments on Party Poker, because that’s all I play online. I only wish that I had known that I would take at least some money out of 3 out of 4 the one-tables I had played. If I can continue with this level of consistency, then this will really help my bankroll go a long way in tournaments.

I played the $2000 limit hold-em tournament on Saturday. I went fairly deep into the event, finishing 29th. Dan Negreanu and I squared off throughout the day. I eventually knocked him out, but he really outplayed me. There were two glaring mistakes that I made. The first was with pocket tens that I raised with from early position. Danny three-bet it from the button, and I ended up mucking then tens after he bet the turn even thought there were no cards flopped greater than 8. He showed Ace high to win the pot, and I was beside myself. I really thought that he had a bigger pair.

Later I had raised in mid position with pocket Jacks only to be reraised by an early position raiser. It was obvious that he had Aces, yet this time I had sticky fingers and I couldn’t pry those Jacks loose. If I would have pitched the Jack and held the tens, I would have been able to come down the stretch with over 7000-8000 in chips. I went all-in a few times and rebuilt my stack back to 5000, but with the bets at 400-800, I couldn’t withstand the beat I took with the A-K, and I was out soon after.

I finished strong, playing 50-100 Omaha 8 and winning a quick 1800 before calling it a night. I will just play some side action on Sunday. Then I will go back to Paducah, working Monday in clinic. I will drive back on Tuesday morning and play the big one. I will have to play aggressive, because I have clinic scheduled every day after Tuesday. I will cancel clinic every day that I last in the event. Thus I will not be afraid to bust out early as that will mean fewer cancellations. I don’t want to come back the next day with no chips. I need to get enough chips to make it worth my while to miss work at home. Stay tuned…

World Poker Open, January 24, 2003. 11:00 AM

Yesterday was another losing day. I couldn’t get anything going in the Omaha Hi-Lo game and was out early. I sat down in the 50-100 Omaha 8 game and found myself down $3800 pretty quick. There were some good players in the game like Barbara Enright and Spring Cheong. I ended up making a bit of a come-back and left only $1800 down. The game was tough and there were no bad players in the game.

I played the super satellite for only $200, but lost fairly quickly after the rebuys were over. The only thing I did well at was a single table satellite that I made a deal at. Actually I have played two and split two, so I am playing these better than I ever thought I would. Maybe I should have focused more here, because I have played nothing online for the last two months other than at a popular site’s 1-table satellites, and I have been winning.

Now I’m reaching a point where if I don’t make some score, putting up the $10,000 for the main event will clean me out. So I have decided not to play it unless I have a score between now and then. The $4600 I won on Sunday is gone after four events without a score. I will take a shot at one or two $1000 entry one-table satellites. I am down to about $18,000 in bankroll. There are three tournaments to go that will cost $5000. I don’t feel like putting my own $10,000 and leaving myself low for my next trip. It also costs me to not work. I have to cancel clinic as well. It would be like paying $20,000. If someone wanted to take a piece of me, I would consider that, but I don’t, as of yet, have the credentials to expect that.

Today is no-limit $2000 event. I like events where you get a lot of chips. It gives you more maneuvering room.

World Poker Open, January 23, 2003. 11:00 AM

Yesterday was the $1000 Pot-limit Hold-em event. I was very tired, because I had stayed out most of the night celebrating my double bubble finishes. I had only gotten a few hours of sleep. I actually felt that this helped my game, because it made me very patient, as I could take cat-naps between playable hands. The best thing is that I was not concerned about busting out early, as that would mean a chance for some more sleep. Yet I didn’t play carelessly, by bluffing off all of my chips. However I did play a lot of suited cards and connectors, but managed to stay a little ahead into the third level. I was trying to hit a hand and trap someone, but no one was getting too out of line when I hit anything.

The interesting thing about this table was that I had played at some time against every player at the table. That doesn’t mean that I had an extraordinary fund of knowledge about every player, but that was some familiarity. I think that was the first time since playing tournaments where I could say that. The most notable player for me was Chris Tsiprailidis. He was two to my left and I have written on a few occasions about playing with him. There is one hand I played against him that I will never forget. At the Four Queens Classic I played against him in my first ever Pot-limit Holdem event. We were getting down close to the money, when I raised him after he had limped in under the gun. I had pocket tens. The flop came A-A-6. I had raised it to about 500 and put in another 600 or so. This was about all I had left. I put him on an Ace and folded. He then showed pocket 9’s. If I had committed my chips, I would have been in good shape with chips. Instead I was playing a small stack and went out 13th, which was 4 out of the money.

I have wanted to bust Chris ever since, and yesterday I had a chance. I raised with pocket queens on the button to 150 with the blinds at 25-50. There were three callers, including Chris who was in the blind. The flop came with K-10-10 and two clubs. Chris fired out with 475, and it was left to me. I thought about every possible hand he could have to play into me with. A voice in my head kept saying “Remember the bluff…Remember the bluff!” I put the rest of my chips in, which was about 800, and he showed a 6-8 of clubs. I was right he was bluffing. I caught him. I was very happy with myself, even though he caught runner-runner to make a straight, winning the hand. That’s the thing about poker. You can make all the right plays and still lose. I just accepted it as not being my day and took a nap.

World Poker Open, January 22, 2003. 11:00 AM:

Double bubble toil and trouble…That was the theme of yesterday’s poker activities. I toiled all day only to find myself eliminated just three places from the money in both the 7-stud Hi-Lo and the super satellite. These are the most disappointing finishes a poker player can have, to work all day and fall only a few places short. However, I find that I am becoming more concerned with winning chips and building a chance to win the event than simply sliding into the money. The time to build chips is in those delicate stages leading up to the money. One mustn’t forget that the real profits come from top three finishes. The $3600 profit I took two days ago in the 7-stud is already gone with three days entry fees.

In the Stud Hi-Lo event I thought I played very solid through the first six rounds. I slowly and continuously built my stack against a very competent collection of players. I had Assher Derei, who won the $500 Stud Hi-Lo event at my table along with Amir Vahedi, and Chip Jett. When we got down to three tables I busted Chris Bjorn with trip Queens. Two of my Queens were down, so my board looked like a low board. I had exceeded 6000 at that point. But then I had Queens up by 4th street run down by Aces up at the river, taking me down a bit.

The key hand for me occurred against Chris Gregorian, who played with me at my very first final table, in my very first major event, at the WPO in Stud Hi-Lo. He is perennially ranked in the top ten in Stud Hi-lo. Chris had the bring-in and I raised with an Ace showing and two eights in the hole. He called, which I didn’t like, because he is very disciplined and would only call with a quality hand, which is something I would never say about Assher Derei. What makes Assher such a successful tournament player is his aggressiveness with almost any hand.

But I digress…As I put the heat on Chris I saw that he made a low, and actually had a possible straight, while I failed to improve. Now he bet into me on 6th street and the bets were 1000 with 11 players in and 8 were to get paid. I mucked my hand, which left me with around 2100, not wanting to commit my whole stack to that hand, when I could only get one end of the pot.

From there it was a struggle. On one hand that could have saved me I had a four flush and straight draw with a made low against a high only hand, but I couldn’t catch the spade or 5 that I needed for the scoop. I couldn’t catch many playable hands and I found myself down to 1100 with a A-K-3, so I went all-in with it against Spring Cheong, who caught three consecutive 5’s to eliminate me in 11th place.

By then it was after 8:30, so I ate and took a break. I got into the super satellite during the third level. I quickly tripled my stack and only had to buy-in once. I had a big hand against Mark Seif. A few nights ago he busted me with an A-6 offsuit. So when he raised all-in after I had raised with pocket 9’s, I was coming for all of my chips. He showed A-9 of clubs. The flop came with two clubs and an Ace. I was getting up, not even cheering for the case nine, when it hit. Now I really had some chips. We were down to two tables when Peter Costa limped in from mid position. I called with a K-3 of hearts. The flop came with 8-8-6 and two hearts. No one bet.

The turn brought the Jack of hearts. I bet 800. Berry Johnston, the 1985 World Champion, came over the top for everything. Peter Costa folded and I just started thinking about how I got trapped the day before by Dewey Tomko. I called after some thought and was delighted to see an 8-3. He had trips but no full. I won a huge pot when a blank came on the river. We were down to 13 players, when my large blind came up. The small blind and I were heads up. He made a raise that doubled my blind of 400. I called the small raise with Q-J. A J-2-3 hit the flop, and he bet another 1000. I just poured my chips into the pot, thinking he was trying to steal. Boy what a mistake that was. It was an easy call for him as he showed A-J. I was gone with my big stack 3 or 4 from the money.

World Poker Open, January 21. 11:00 AM:

Yesterday was the $1000 No limit Hold-em event. Another record was set for number of entries with 230. I was at table 20, which doesn’t break until we get down to 3 tables. I like being at a table that doesn’t break. You get a chance to observe the play of other players at your table, as well as set them up for your own plays. I was at a table with some good players. Dan Heimiller was there, along with Ron Rose. The most preeminent player was Dewey Tomko, who has finished runner up at the main event of the WSOP on more than one occasion.

I set up a style of making small raises with any hand I was going to play, regardless of whether it was a small suited Ace or connector. I often made a small bet after the flop with nothing and they were starting to get wise to me, and I was getting called down. My stack dropped from 1000 to 700 in the second round when I finally doubled up. I raised to 50 with blinds 10-25. Both blinds called. I had an A-8 of clubs. The flop came A-Q-5. I bet 50, knowing that no one would assume that I had an Ace.

As expected the big blind raised me to 200. Now I had to think about my weak kicker, deciding that he could very well, be pushing me with a less than premium hand, since I often had bet and folded to a raise up to that point. I also decided to gamble with my whole stack so I went all-in for 600. He hesitated and reluctantly called, showing an A-6. I now had chips, and I was able to move then well, building up over 2000.

I put another guy out when I reraised from my small blind with pocket Queens. Later I made another small raise when the blinds were 100-200 to 450. Again I was raising with a variety of hands. The flop came Q-Q-6, and I was holding pocket Kings. I bet a meager 400, and my lone opponent went all in for about 1200. I felt like he was trying to move me. I looked at him and asked him, “You wouldn’t try to bluff me would you? Well, I guess I’m going to have to pay you.” I turned over my Kings and he showed Jacks. I still found my stack oscillating in size. A European player had raised in early position, and I had played with him in side games as well as at this table, and had seen him play a lot of marginal hands.

So, I came over the top from the button with A-Q suited. He put his whole stack in, and convinced me after some thought that he really had a hand. I threw my hand in face-up, after dumping 700. He then threw in his own unsuited A-Q. It was either a nice play on his part, or another example of his overvalueing a hand. I can’t be too critical, after seeing him make the money. He made up for his strange hand selection by being aggressive and not afraid to move his chips.

Dewey Tomko and I had not played any major pots against each other. I had watched him go all in with 6-7 suited against a raiser. I had seen him call me under the gun raise with 8-9 offsuit. He was playing a wide variety of hands, but had managed to go from a small stack to a stack almost as big as mine. He had raised my blind from the button and I called 7-8. The flop came with an Ace and I check-raised him 1500 with having even made a pair and he released the hand. I never showed the bluff. That would have been a bad idea.

Before I could gloat the pivotal hand of the day came when we were down to 50+ players. I raised under the gun with A-K and only Dewey called. A dangerous flop of A-J-10 came down. He checked and I bet 1000. He smooth called. The board paired the Jack on the turn. Dewey bet into me for 2000, which was his whole stack. Against an unsophisticated player this would have been an easy laydown, but I felt that this could be a bluff or semibluff. He could have had A-Q, K-10, A-K, a smaller pair that he was pushing, or maybe a Jack. The only thing I was drawing dead to was K-K or J-J. I had him covered by about 1000.

I decided to gamble. At least if he had a straight, I had outs. If I won the pot I would be over 10,000 in chips. He showed the A-Q and I couldn’t catch anything I needed. I went out shortly thereafter, raising on the button, when there were no callers with A-4o and running into pocket kings. I dropped 200 in a super satellite later and called it a night.

Stud Hi-LO today. One of my favorite events.

World Poker Open, January 20. 4:00 AM:

Today was the final table of the Stud event. I got off to a good start. Humberto Brenes completed to 500 and I found myself with pocket Aces. I came over the top and he folded. I had started the day with 5100 and this took me to over 6000, giving my relatively short stack a little comfort zone. However both of the smaller two stacks survived their all-ins against Humberto, and I began to dwindle as the antes rose to 200 per hand. I kind of expected to see some chips flying, but no one was getting out of line. Everyone played excellent poker. I was not going to be able to benefit from any mistakes by my opponents. I was the only inexperienced stud player there.

Humberto Brenes and Paul Darden were the big names at the table, but everyone displayed poise and patience, as well as skill. I was down to 2600, having not played a hand since the first hand I had with the Aces. I had the bring-in with a deuce, but I had A-Q down. There was one Ace and one Queen up. I decided to start with a raise to 1000, in hopes of making everyone fold, or catching my Ace or Queen. Paul Darden came over the top with his Ace showing. Then Craig DiSalvo thought long and hard with his Queen showing. Even though I was now down to 1600, I realized that my plan had failed, and I was very likely sitting with no outs, so I mucked. Paul showed his Aces. I was now the really short stack. Two hands later, I had a King up with pocket nines. I raised 1000 with 200 remaining. I held the two black chips in my hand and held them in front of each player as they decided to fold. They all folded and I showed my nines. Scott Brooks complained that he had mucked his Jacks. Now I had some life.

Next a few hands later I had split Aces and raised. Craig DiSalvo was skeptical and put me all-in with his Jacks. I had one of his Jacks as well. I made Aces and Jacks to beat his two pair, and now he had the short stack while I was comfortable at 8000. Now I was able to sit back and watch, as first Craig and then John Rosanelli were busted. John actually survived a heads-up all in against me, when I had split Aces and he hit his flush draw. He actually pulled ahead of me, but ran into Jaime Atenoloff’s straight, which cost him all of his chips. Then Stevie Delborrell slow played a hidden pair of Aces, limping in first after the bring-in. This allowed Paul Darden to hit a straight, and he went out 6th.

As I climbed the ladder, I was succumbing to the antes. I finally made a stand with two sevens. Humberto called me with Q-10-8. He paired the 8 and I never caught up. At that point I was in big need of several all-in’s to catch up, so I was happy to get as far as I did. I took a stack that was as low as 125 at one point and built all the way up to a 5th place finish. I made $4656.

The rest of the day was an enjoyable one. I made about $300 playing several small sessions of PLO. I came to within one table of the final in the super satellite and I only bought in one time. I finally played a one-table satellite, and chopped it. So I made a little money there as well. The best thing is that I didn’t have to play the pot Limit Omaha event, which would have cost me $2000-$4000 with the rebuys. That’s like winning $7000. So I think I will sleep good tonight.

World Poker Open, January 19. 11:00 AM:

Luck runs in cycles. That’s all there is to it. I can’t get too upset when I am busted out of two straight limit hold-em tournaments with pocket Aces, because then I find myself in an event I rarely play, surviving at least 12 all-ins, to make the final table. That’s what happened in yesterday’s stud event.

Stud has been a peculiar game for me. I played almost exclusively at the 1-5 level in the 90’s in between trips to the craps table. I started winning by being a bit of a bully, and then getting out of the game before they caught on. My stud game had one thing in common with my craps game, in that I didn’t know craps about playing stud. I played every hand until I felt I was drawing dead. Hence, I don’t count any of that time playing stud as actual experience playing stud. Last year I read some about stud and worked the game on the computer with the Wilson software. I played one tournament at the WPO and played into the top half. Then I had a disastrous outing at the commerce where I actually tried some 10-20 stud. I lost $700 in 30 minutes, showing down no hand worse than Kings-up. I actually thought I played well. I just found myself outdrawn consistently. I hadn’t played straight high only stud since.

Having finished 24th out of 199 last week in the $500 stud event I was willing to put up $1000 for yesterday’s event. I got off to a great start, nearly doubling my stack size in the first level. Charlie Brahmi(He beat me in December heads up for the $1000 Omaha Hi-lo Championship at the USPC) and I were reunited at the first table. He was about the first one out of the tournament this time. The second level started with me getting split Aces beat, and from there I entered a freefall into short stack mode. By 3PM I was contemplating what I would be doing after busting out.

When the antes were to 25 and the completion was at 100, I was down to 125 in chips. I had an Ace showing after half of the field folded. I raised, leaving me only one green chip. No one called. I didn’t even have a pair. With antes this took me to over 300. I went all in again, sitting to the left of the bring-in. I had an Ace showing with no pair. The bring-in called with a pair of threes. I caught a second 7 on sixth street, and doubled through again. I went all-in again with two pair on fifth street, only to be up against a bigger two pair. I caught a 7 to fill up, and double through again. It was still to be an up and down battle for me. I went all-in later with a pair of 5’s when I was bullied all the way to the end of my stack, never improving, but all he had was a pair of 4’s. That fellow went out on the bubble. He probably could have used those chips for a better cause. I survived a second all-in with 9’s and 7’s against a bigger two pair, when I filled up again on the end.

We got down to two tables and now I had enough chips to play a little. There were only 80 entries, so only one table of 8 would get the money. I was sitting around 4000, when the antes were at 50 and the betting was 300-600. I was at a tough table, loaded with some good players. Miami John Cernuto, Randy Holland, Skip Wilson, Yung Pham, and Paul Darden were some of the lightweights I was up against. To my right was a guy who knocked me out of the limit Hold-em event at the USPC, Stevie Deborrell. He is from AC and I know he can play. He plays stud all of the time. I saw no point in playing it safe at this point. I was the fish swimming among the sharks. To get to the final table I was going to have to gamble.

I know Paul Darden’s play from Costa Rica and Lucky Chances in Colma, California. In fact I pointed out to him that any time we have played at the same table in a tournament one of us has made the final table. We were going for three for three. He made a raise with a ten showing. I know he can raise with a lot of marginal holdings. I had an Ace up and called holding a King and 10 in the hole. All of my cards were live, accept for the 10, as I put him on a pair of them. I caught a Queen on 4th street, and a blank on 5th street. Up to this point I figured all I had to do was pair an over card. On 5th street he paired an 8, and I decided he had two pair. Now I had a decision. My calls had taken me down to under 2000, and I felt that I couldn’t win with only a pair, but I had four outs to the Jack, as they were all live. I decided to take one card. I felt that I needed to pick up an out on 6th street, rather than draw to only the jack. If I hit a blank, or if he caught a scare card, I would pitch my cards after 6th street. I caught a 10. Now I was on a live two pair draw, so I called again, leaving me 1150 in chips. The river brought me my Jack. He bet I went all-in and showed the straight. I was over 8000 now.

Then Miami John and I tangled. He had a short stack now, about a quarter of mine. I had split 8’s and a King. He showed a Jack and reraised me. On fourth Street I hit my King and he hit his Ace, which I didn’t realized helped him, until we had all of his chips nearly in. By then I was going to draw at him. He had Aces up and I had Kings up. I was hoping to fill-up, like I did on three previous occasions, against bigger two pairs, only this time it was John who was all-in instead of me. But I didn’t fill up, an even more improbable thing happened. I caught runner-runner Ace-Ace. He caught my King, but I made Aces and Kings to knock him out.

Now I was at a comfortable 10,000, but I wasn’t finished going all-in. Disaster struck one more time. Jaime Atenoloff, who is now chip leader had the bring-in with a three. He was on my left. Someone between us raised, and I looked down to see two Aces in the hole. I made it 1000. Jaime called, while the other folded. I joked about how many threes were in the deck, because we both had threes showing. The joking stopped when he hit another 3. Now I felt he had two pair and I was going to have to 3000 to get to the river and catch a second pair. I decided to play it as I was willing to risk my chips to become chip leader. I would be left with about 4000 if I lost. I got no help and I was two out of the money playing a short stack again. Now I decided that I was an idiot, but I reminded myself that I was not in unfamiliar territory. I would just have to do my short stack scramble. I finally decided to gamble with a pair of 10’s against Scott Brooks, who had a pair of Jacks. I was all-in and still only one pair on the river. The last card was dealt face down, and I couldn’t turn it over, I was so tense about the outcome. Finally I flipped it up….Queen. I made Queens-up. I made a lot of noise when I saw that card. He also made two pair on the river, but my Queen gave me the bigger two pair.

I was back in business. I stayed out of the way after that, and I am sitting in 6th place right now with 5100 in chips. I believe that we will be at level 9 with 200 antes, low card 300 and 1000-2000 bets. The first hand I play could very well be my last. One thing I have learned is that you can be patient. So I will be patient, but I will commit my chips when I have a playable hand. One thing is for sure, I didn’t get here by being a nit. At the same time I actually played a very patient game. I moved my chips in when I felt I was live, with live cards, and favorable up cards around the table. There is no question I got lucky, but there are no unlucky tournament champions.

World Poker Open, January 18. 4:00 AM:

On the 17th we played the $1000 limit hold-em event. I had the distinctive misfortune of getting knocked out both limit Hold-em events this year with pocket Aces. This time there was four way action before the flop with four bets. The flop came with a Q-10, and there were three bets until I was out of chips. With two of the remaining three players all-in, we turned over our hands. I still had the best hand, but the other player who had me covered had A-K, giving him a gutshot straight draw. He hit the Jack immediately on the turn, and then hit a second Jack for emphasis on the river, sending me to the side action.

The side action was hard on me today. I played a lot of Pot-limit Omaha Hi, and dropped $1800, before the super satellite. I then dropped $600 in the super satellite. The big hand that finished me was against Mark Seif the recent winner of the $500 No-limit Hold-em event. I had about 700 in chips with the blinds at 50-100. In late position I had K-Q suited and bet 300. Mark came over the top for 400 more. I have played with Mark on several occasions, and I know he will play some marginal hands aggressively, if he feels he can push you off of a hand. So I decided to gamble with him, and sure enough he was pushing a marginal hand, having gone all-in with an A-6 offsuit. Nonetheless he was still somewhat ahead before the flop. He then spike an Ace on the flop and I failed to hit runner-runner for a straight, leaving me enough for half of a blind, which lasted me one hand.

I went back to PLO. A few interesting hands happened there. I limped in under the gun with A-A-J-Q, single suited in clubs. It was raised to $50 and by the time it got back to me I reraised to $300, making it heads up. The flop came Q-6-4 with two diamonds. I put the rest of my $1000 in and lost the pot, when he made his flush. I reloaded and we became 5 handed at one point. This same player sitting on my left had straddled for $20 when I was in the blind. It came back to me and no one had called, so I said raise. Just as I said raise, he threw two aces toward me, having thought that we had both folded. I had a 4-5-6-7, and I was trying to build a pot. Once I said raise, I was obligated to carry on with it, so I made it $50, and then he raised it another $110.

Now I felt like a buffoon, but I was determined to press on. Besides I now knew what I was up against. The flop came with a Q-9-7. This gave me a gutshot straight draw and a pair. He bet the pot and I called. I figured he had nothing but those Aces. I figured that I could win with two pair, trip 7’s or a straight, giving me 15 outs. A deuce came on the turn and he put me all-in for the rest of my $1000. A four on the river gave me two pair and the pot. You should have seen the look on his face, when I showed him my hand. He couldn’t believe the heat I took with that hand. I would never have gone that far with the hand, except for the way he acted.

I got out of that game before I had a chance to get any more bright ideas. All told I lost about $2500 while holding pocket Aces in PLO, and my place in the tournament earlier in limit Hold-em. I tried 50-100 Omaha Hi-lo. I got off to a great start, pulling ahead by about a $1000, but I ended up loser by about $750, when I took a few tough beats in the last 20 minutes I played. I got tired and decided to get up, instead of chasing. So I get to sleep off a $4000 loss for the day.

January 17, 2003. 11:00 PM:

Yesterday was the $500 Omaha Hi-Lo event. This was an event that I had high expectations for, and I got off to a great start, tripling my stack by the end of he second level. But by 30 minutes into the third level I was decimated by missed draws and draw outs. I then found myself playing in my short stack mode. This has become familiar territory for me, and I actually do it well. There were about 320 entries. I fell to less than 1000 with the blinds at 50-100 and 250 remaining players. I fell even further to 550, after being moved to a table with Eskimo Clark. I survived a huge all-in play against Eskimo, when I put all of my chips in holding A-A-4-4, and the board was showing 2-3-3-10. I spiked an Ace on the river to make Aces full and Eskimo had no emergency low, so I scooped the pot.

I managed to build up to over 2500 again, but I had another tough beat right after I changed tables again. I played a Q-10-9-8 from late position and caught a flop of K-8-8. The blind bet out and I raised to see where I was. He reluctantly called, so I figured I was good. Then disaster struck when he hit another King. I lost half of my chips on that hand, and I was back into a short stack mode. I hung on til about 45 players remained. I put my last 800 in with A-2-5-Q. The flop was promising with Q-7-8. Low never came, and I ended up with three Queens, but the board flushed and I was out. This was a disappointing finish for me, because I thought I played very well. I just found myself trapped by a lot of strong hands that were beaten. There’s nothing I can do about that. I have learned accept those kind of days. With the larger fields the prizes are bigger, but there is a lot more to overcome. Nonetheless, I believe that a big score awaits me, if I just keep playing my A game.

I played a super-satellite. I got off to a great start, never busting during the rebuy round. On one key hand I had pocket Kings under the gun and raised to 75, when I held about 600 chips. Three people went all-in behind me. A couple of them had some big stacks, nearly equal to mine. I put my money in with great trepidation, as I was sure I was up against Aces. To my relief I was up against pocket Queens, pocket Jacks, and a 6-7. The 6-7 made a straight, but I held up against every one else. The 6-7 only had 80 when he went all-in, so I hardly noticed his win, as I collected about 1000 in chips. I busted the guy with the 6-7 a little later when he took an A-3 offsuit against my A-J suited. He did hit his three, but I hit my flush and he was gone. I made it to the end of the rebuy period with 1500 in chips. After the break I found pocket Aces under the gun, and I couldn’t get any action. Shortly thereafter I had my stack picked to pieces. It started with pocket 9’s getting beat after the flop. Then I had a K-J that caught a jack on the flop, in an unraised pot. I bet out and was called by a 4-6 suited who had a flush draw and a gutshot straight draw. He hit both. Then I took an A-9 suited from late position and raised, only to find the blind waking up with pocket Kings. Finally down to 200 I went all-in with K-J against K-Q, and that was it for me.

I found solace in a late night pot-limit Omaha game. I ended up winning $800 to bring myself even for the day. So for the tournament I am up about $2200 in pot limit play and down about the same in tournaments. As long as I can stay even, I believe I will eventually get hot and make a big money score. Today is the $1000 limit Hold-em. I haven’t had a money finish in this event since my very first one here at the 2001 WPO. I don’t really feel that I am any better than anyone else at this game, since so many people play the game well. So I will have to get lucky.

January 12, 2003. 11:00 PM:

I have returned to Paducah now. I will pick up the action from yesterday’s $500 7-Stud event. I was very happy with how I played. I felt I played as well as anyone there and had no real glaring mistakes that cost me the tournament. This game is new to me at this level, and even though I played $1-5 Stud intermittently for years, I don’t count that as experience because I really had no idea what I was doing. I played every hand until I became convinced that I was drawing dead. I have taken some time to read about the game and practice it on the computer.

I was able to get things going with rolled up trip sevens, and built my way up to $3000 in chips from our starting level of 800. Then I ran into some bad beats. On one hand I had Kings up against a pair of nines putting one of the poker playing Fischman twins all in, when he caught two Kings to make a bigger Kings up. I also lost a huge chunk of my stack when I ran two Aces up against two Kings, only to have him catch a second pair and beat my single pair.

I only bring up these beats to show that I was putting my chips in with good hands. I fell to less than $1000 in chips again, survived a couple of all-ins, and finally rebuilt my stack again to $3000. Then the deciding hand for me came down. I had Aces and 8’s with two eights showing by 4th street. I bet it hard into one playing all the way down to the river, when he finally raised. I called and he showed me Queens full of Kings. I think he called me down with two pair and filled on the river, but he wouldn’t give me a straight answer when I asked him. If I would have won that hand, I would held over $6000 in chips.

Instead I struggled to hang on surviving several all-ins, before succumbing to the rising antes at 24the place. Interestingly, if one more person would have entered the event there would have been 200 entries and they would have paid three tables, making 24th place a money finish. I am not too upset about that, because my stack was so tiny that the guy who finished 25th would have waited for me to be anted off, and I would have finished on the bubble.

I played that night’s super satellite. It was a huge turnout, producing many seats for the main event. I got knocked out on the first hand after the rebuys ended with A-K in the big blind against the pocket Queens. After the tournament, I socialized a little bit with a contingent of Dallas-based players at the Horseshoe. I finished the night with a little PLO, winning about $150.

Sunday was the $500 no-limit Holdem event and there were 550 entries. I had former World Champion Jack Keller on my immediate left. I got most of his chips on an interesting hand for me. He is a very aggressive player, which is why I played the hand the way I did. I had pocket 3’s in late position with no callers and the blinds at 10-25. I made a baby raise to 50. Jack called as did one of the blinds. The flop came with a 3-8-Q rainbow. It was checked to me.

Instead of checking in hopes of getting a check raise, I made a baby bet of 50. Sure enough Jack sensed weakness and came over the top for 200. I hesitated and called. The turn was an Ace. I decided to bet again, fearing that he would check it down if I didn’t bet. This time I bet 200. A ten came on the river and I bet 300, which he again called. I think everyone was surprised to see the set. I managed to double through early, only to give most of it back, before making big drawout for all of my chips with my A-Q beating pocket Kings. I reached $3000 at one point, but I pissed away my chips by playing some suited connectors that missed, and bluffing badly at a heads-up in the blinds pot.

I finished 150th out of 550 when my pocket 7’s fell to a K-Q. I decided to gamble a bit as the blinds were growing fast. It only took 4 hours to eliminate 400 people. I didn’t feel that a patient game was the way to go, but next time I will try a more conservative approach, as I think I need to reign it in a bit.

January 11, 2003. 11:00 AM:

As predicted, the players have flocked to Tunica in unprecedented numbers for the 2003 World Poker Open. This has proven to be a great venue for pros, wannabes, and amateurs alike. With the absence of a competing event, all eyes are on Tunica. And the numbers so far have born it out.

Yesterday was my first event of this year’s tournament. It was the Limit Holdem $500 buy in. They had a record turn out at around 680 players and I had to wait in line for a full hour. It is quite possible that every event this year could have entries in record proportions.

If you are new to reading my reports, I am Dr. Mark Burtman. I have been writing reports of my tournament play for the last year on PokerPages. This year I will be in Tunica for most of the events. I am a board certified obstetrician and gynecologist, who splits his time between his work and his love of poker, writing about the ups and downs along the way.

That’s exactly what I experienced yesterday: Ups and downs. I started with a down in the tournament. I lasted only to the beginning of the third level. I didn’t play great, but I also ran into some monsters. I ran into pocket Aces twice, losing good size pots when I held decent pairs of my own.

Then the hand that took me out was a really wonderful misfortune. I held my own pocket Aces in the small blind and took a raise from a late position player. I decided to nail him on the flop. The flop came a scary A-Q-J with two spades. I had a set and decided to check raise him. The other guy tried to raise me back, but didn’t properly announce the raise. So the rest of our chips went in on the turn. He then showed the only two cards that could beat me, the K-10 offsuit that he had raised on, and I was out when the board failed to pair. I am kind of glad I used up my bad luck in that event. It is better to butt out early in such a big event.

On the upside of things I made $1375 playing pot limit Omaha for several hours. This was good, not only because of the money I won, but because I have often struggled with the game. One game even had former World Champion Jack Keller in it and I survived playing against the best shark in town.

So today is the 7-card stud event. It is not a great game for me, but I have been reading about the game, so I will get a chance to see where I am with stud. The one thing I have going for me here is the fact that this isn’t stud territory, so hopefully there will be a lot of people who are in the same boat as I am.