Losing is Winning Sometimes

15 July 2019

Battled hard for 9 months playing in my Vegas HORSE League to win one of the coveted seats in the 2019 WSOP Series.  I love my league. It is filled with some of the best mixed game players in Vegas. So to win a seat? It felt great! The rules are, should you win a seat you must play one of  the mixed games offered in the schedule.  I was 3rd place in my league which afforded me the chance to play in the $3k HORSE buy in.  I was THRILLED! I would never pay that kind of money to enter a tournament unless I won my way.  

Finally, the day arrives.  It’s so late in the schedule that it coincides with the “CLOSER” event of the series and the final table of the main event.  Walking into the Rio was bizarre.  They had removed all of the gift shop area, the rewards card station was gone, the kitchen was closed and one of the biggest ballrooms, the Pavillion, was already broke down and empty.  Honestly, if this was my ONLY experience to play in the World Series of Poker and I had traveled in from some other land to play the Closer? I would have been terribly disappointed. Perhaps breaking down the one ballroom is fine.  But to scale back so far that the place is a ghost town should be reconsidered. If your’e only able to play at the tail end of the WSOP, you wouldn’t get one of the 50th Anniversary Rewards cards, pick up any of the special anniversary swag items or take your photo with a million dollars. In my opinion, do it right, or don’t do it at all.

This next adventure really has nothing to do with the game, but everything to do with customer service.  I have old knees.  During the summer, I used a scooter to get around the Rio because my knee replacement isn’t happening until October. But on this day, I decided to be brave and walk from the parking lot to the convention center, to registration then to my seat. (I already mentioned, when I walked in, I looked for the Players Card station so I could get my commemorative players card and it was closed down.)  I wandered the halls seeking a possible new area where it might be. I located security and asked direction – “You have to go into the casino to the Rewards Center” I was informed.  It is probably a good half mile from where I was to go there and get back.  I explained my physical challenge and was informed there “was nothing that could be done”.  I had arrived a little more than an hour early to give myself plenty of time to navigate the registration process  but, going to the casino to get a players card? Was NOT part of the plan.  To the left of the guard, was a wheelchair…. you think I might have gotten a little assistance? Nope. At that moment I regretted my “no scooter” decision!  Anyway, as I sat in a chair it came to me. I called my honey and asked him take a photo of my card (which I purposely left at home since I was getting a NEW card!) I was able to register with just the number.  Yay! It sure would have been nice for security or the three other floor staff I asked to have that little piece of information!  Ok, rant over.  =)

With my reg slip in hand, I made my way to my seat. I ran into Rebbecca who stopped in and she took my “official WSOP photo” – Thank you Rebbecca! As you can see, not many players were there. In fact, at the time of the shuffle up, there were only 67 players registered.  What!? Where was everyone? Slowly, more and more players showed up and soon there was a room full.  I asked one guy who entered after the second break why he waited so long to enter and he said “Never plan to play the first levels of any tournament.  Action doesn’t get good until after 4 to 5 levels anyway”.  Wow… what an interesting prospective since I was in shock over the action I had witnessed already.  

I must admit I was a bit of a “fan girl” being in the company of the “best of the best” mixed game players in the world. There was a larger concentration of bracelet winners in this field than in most tournaments so I took in as much information as I could before I played a single hand.   Once play commenced, I could tell an immediate difference.  I have never experienced action like this. No round went without at least a 2 bet or 3 bet on every street. It wasn’t uncommon for capped rounds either. I felt like I was in a cash game!

I adjusted and finally got comfortable to play. I pulled in a few small pots and that was not easy considering I had Carol Fuchs, 2015 World Series of Poker Bracelet Winner, Dealer’s Choice Event, to my right. But I held my own. This structure didn’t allow for a lot of waiting around either.  We started at 200/400 in Level One. 

It’s almost time for the second break of the day.  I’m about 7K above starting stack since I haven’t played that many hands.   Considering the action, and that we had lost a few players at our table already, that wasn’t bad. 

Then came that hand… you know, the one that makes your heart beat a second faster.  It’s Omaha 8 round and I have AA24 double suited in my hand.  I was completely comfortable with the 3 bet open and had 4 callers.

FLOP Ad 3d 3s

I floped a full house. Niiiice! Seat 2 opens betting. Seat 4 raises.  I re-raise. Seat 8 folds.  Seat 2 – 3 bets, Seat 4 – caps, I call. 

TURN – Kd

Seat 2 opens betting. Seat 4 raises.  I re-raise.  Seat 2 – calls, Seat 4 – not happy, but calls. 

RIVER – Ks

Now I have Aces full of Kings.  Not bad!! 

Seat 2 opens betting. Seat 4 raises.  I re-raise.  Seat 2 – calls, Seat 4 – re-raises – I tank  What does he have???  If anything I thought Seat 2 MIGHT have quad 3’s but something told me he didn’t.  So what does Seat 4 have?  OMG He has to have quad KINGS!  That is the only hand to raise with at this point.  So, I just call.  

Yes, my spidey sense was working. 

Seat 2 had Ace 3 for a small full house, and our friend in Seat 4 tables 2d 4h Kc Kh for quads.  He was pulling for nut low and backed into quads. 

Sick.   This was almost to the tee the hand that knocked me out of the O8 two years ago.  The unfortunate part? It crippled my chip stack. It was going to be hard to build it back but I’d be patient.

Time for break I walked it off.  I had to clear my head if I was going to build it back.  The good news is I had the BEST cheerleaders in the world!  The ladies from WPA and LIPS were commenting, my BFF’s were texting, and Linda Johnson was also in the game so she was supportive as well with a “hang in there, you can do it” as we passed each other in the bathroom.

By now, the Main Event Final Table is in full swing.  The noise is deafening. Cheering, chanting, explosive roars.  It’s constant! So loud that we can hardly hear the action at our own tables. (Insert rant here!) There are three events going on other than the main event.  The final day of the $1,500 NLHE Double Stack where friend Barry Shulman came in 3rd place (got to rail him briefly before our tournament started)  YAY Barry! The $3k HORSE and the $1,500 Closer event which only had a mere 2,800 players!   As much as I love being in the middle of the excitement of the main event, it’s super distracting trying to play in that environment. Perhaps the FT should be in a different room? Fill the stands with all kinds of spectators and let them cheer to their hearts content!  I know I wasn’t the only player not too thrilled trying to play while a circus was taking place 25 feet from our table.  Just sayin…  

Anyway, back I go to playing. I’m super patient hanging onto every chip I can.  We enter the stud rounds and not only did I ante, but I was the “bring in” 12 hands in a row.  Even the dealer looked at me and mouthed “so sorry!”.  Chip after precious chip was being tossed into the middle without a single playable (or bluffing) hand to enter into. Then I pick up a great stud 8 hand.  Down cards are Ac 2c with my up card a 3c….  PERFECT!   And we’re off…  This hand also shows 5 others with a 6 and under (which means a lot of the low cards are out) and 2 clubs. This round gets capped and we have 4 players on 4th street.  Up cards only brick one player and I get a 4c….  YAY!!  This is my hand for sure!

Not so fast….  Seat 6 to my left picks up another King on 4th street showing 2 Kings on his up cards.  Check, check, I bet, Kings raise, call, call and I re-raise because I have to get my chips in here.  I have little to no chips left so this is my hand. Kings re-raise, call call and I am now all in. 

5th street – Appears to improve Seat 2, check, Blank for Seat 4 check, I’m all in and I get a Qh (bleh) and Seat 6 blanks but bets, call, and a call.

6th street – Seat 2 blanks and checks, Same for Seat 4… I get a Jh (WTH!?) Seat 6 Bets, Seat 2 folds, Seat 4 calls.  

7th street – I’m super anxious because this is my tournament life. Seat 4 looks and cringes… MISSED and mucks.  Seat 6 turns over another KING for Quads and me?  Well… a club does me no good.  I have to turn over a low card in order to stay alive…. I take my down card and flip it over and…  IT’S A DUCE and I’m out.  Seat 6 scoops and has a ton of chips.  My chips are dust….  my time has come to an end and I’m sad.  

I played my best with the best in the world.  I can’t tell you how amazing it was… I learned more in those 8 hours than I have in years of playing.  BUT man, it was an expensive lesson!  

My hat’s off to Wendy Freedman – 21st Place & Esther Taylor – 33rd Place who both cashed and repped for us women!  Even though I end my summer journey by looking forward to September when we start the 7th year of our Vegas HORSE League and yet another opportunity to live a dream, it does prove to me that losing is winning, sometimes. 

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