W-Day Plus 9: Turnarounds

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What happened to W-Days Plus 6 through 8, you might ask? Well, Event #8, the $1.5K HORSE tournament is what happened.

The first day of the event, I got to the Rio early and set up in the Amazon Room. The displays showed the tournament clock for the event. My colleague joined me and got his computer set up, but with fifteen minutes to go, nobody else at the table, no dealer, and no players, we were getting the feeling we were in the wrong place.

We eventually decamped to Brasilia, which was half full of eager HORSE players, but by then we were already behind the eight-ball, to use an analogy from a different game. As it turns out, the two of us were the coverage team, and the we got to work setting up the details of coverage for the tournament, spotting notable players, figuring out which sections we were covering, etc. HORSE uses up more tables because it’s played eight-handed. It isn’t like 6-Max, where you need half again as many tables as 9-handed, but still, 10% more. By a couple hours after starting time, the field had grown from over 500 to more than 700 (capping out at 778) and the two of us were feeling a bit overwhelmed.

That wasn’t helped by the fact that since HORSE whose player base is generally more experienced and established, the field was studded with big names who you really don’t want to make a mistake writing about. Of course, you necer want to make mistakes, but they do happen. The fear of getting the first name of a bracelet winner from the night before wrong, or writing down the wrong card for someone like Scotty Nguyen (who made the final table) or getting action wrong for a hand involving Greg Raymer (I’m not saying any of those things happened, just using them as examples)can be daunting. These are people who live poker, and however much as a player and reporter I sort of live poker, it wasn’t my job until last week, so I don’t have the same years of investment in what happens. If I put someone’s name into a post and get something wrong, they might bad, but my name’s not on the post. I might get in trouble or get fired, but nobody outside of the organization will have the slightest idea who I am.

Anyway, Day 1 didn’t feel like it went so well.

It also didn’t go well for Seattle-area player Ian Johns, who was down to 2K at the end of the day.

We wrapped up sometime about 3 in the morning, I got to bed around 4, and was back at the Rio by 11 by 11am.

Day 2 started to go better, as we got a feel for the project. Also, only 202 players to cover. It went bettter for Johns as well, and when I checked on his seat, I wrote a post about him being up to nearly 20K. He continued to climb throughout the day, my partner and I got better (plus there were fewer players to cover), and we were down to 20 by the end of the day, barely getting the three-table seat draw up before having to scurry around to get chip counts and  table balancing seating changes.

Home at 4am again and back to the Rio by 11am. By Day three, I was starting to feel a bit sleep-deprived. I don’t normally sleep much anyway, but three-and-a-half or four hours a night for a week grinds even me down.

Day three started with three tables, with each one picking up exactly where they left off the day before. By four hours in, the field had been whittled down to a single table of eight, including Scotty Nguyen, and we were moved over to the secondary feature table, while a match in the last stages of the $10K NLHE Heads Up was going on the main stage.

The rail on the HORSE tournament was incredibly loud, which made writing updates—even getting into my seat at the table—kind of hard. The reporter’s table is right next to one of the entrances to the play area, so spectators tended to sort of blur the line of demarkation, with one two-fisted drinker resting a hand on the back of my chair every time I was out of my seat.

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On the secondary feature table in the Amazon Room, with (counter-clockwise from the dealer) Chris Vitch, Andre Akkari, Noah Bronstein, Georgios Sotiropoulos, Ian Johns, and Svetlana Gromenkova (the last two with their backs to the camera). To the right out of the camera were seated Scotty Nguyen and Justin Bonomo.

The last day ran a little over twelve hours, and Ian Johns incredibly made it to the top. Aside from the big comeback on Day 2, there were a couple of times on Day 3 when he was knocked back and had to rebuild. By the end of the day, we were starting to get some attaboys from the bosses on our coverage of the event. Of course, neither of those matched the comeback of Ben Keeline, the busto player who went from driving Uber in Denver to winning $1,000,000 in the Colossus.

After that I slept. Woke up after the customary four hours, got something to drink, and laid back down to get some more sleep for the first time in days.

Friday was a day off, the first of two. I hung around the house for a while, helped my host and his web guy with a couple of issues, listened to a lot of talk about DFS and—I think—baseball that I didn’t understand, then finally headed about about 4pm to the airport to pick up a friend from the airport.

I thought I’d get into town with enough time to grab a late lunch at Krung Siam, but Friday afternoon traffic, amirite? Ended up just grabbing a cheeseburger from a McDonald’s near the airport, then driving around in circles a bunch of times while Brad got his luggage and out to the passenger pickup.

Dropped him off at the hotel, then we headed to the Venetian for another Survivor tournament. My table was next to Brad’s, but the noon game was going on with lots of tables in the main poker room, and our tables were in the aisleway next to the sports bet, where there was a lot of noise coming from the Golden State vs. Cleveland game, which made conversation a bit difficult.

IMG_2828I was in seat 8, and got talking with a woman on my right from the Bay Area named Carey who knew Angela Jordison. I was doing reasonably well for three hours, contesting a couple of times with an aggressive European player in seat 1, then things went bad about three hours in. I had QxQx on the button, there was a raise to 1,100 from seat 3 in early position, Carey called, and I eyed the stack of the player in seat 3, then put out 4,500. He went all in, with what I thought was a call and Carey folded. Seat 3 had 2x2x and flopped a set in the window. When the payout needed to be made, however, it turned out he had a 5,000-chip at the bottom of his stack, which was almost indistinguishable from the color of the table. No raise had been announced, I hadn’t actually said “call,” and I hadn’t put any chips forward to indicate a call. I would have called the extra 2,600 preflop, but I would have put out my full stack if the 5,000 had been visible.

I knew I was likely on the hook for the extra money, but I asked for a floor ruling. It took a while for the floorperson to get to the table and the Euro guy and a couple of others were telling me to just put the chips out. Maybe I should have, and eventually the floor ruled it was a call. Maybe I’m turning into a douchey angle-shooter.

Brad had busted out of the tournament before I did, but Daryl, who was in town on a weekend trip with his wife, made it to the 12th place extra money payout, which was decent since there were 7 players contributing to it.

Brad and I headed back to his hotel and met up with his brother for dinner at Ping Pang Pong. Dan Idema was there having dinner with three or four others at the next table before they moved to a bigger table one away and were replaced by a couple where the guy kept asking Brad and his brother about their food. I think he was hungry. I got some XO Shrimp Lai Fen, which said it was spicy, and the other guys said they thought it was spicy, but it wasn’t holding a candle to anything from Krung Siam.

Headed back home and slept some more for a long, long time.