Trying a Sample of Satellites at the WSOP
Well, I had to sneak in some poker on my recent Vegas trip, which grew in increments from two to five to thirteen days. With a bankroll of only a few hundred dollars, playing in one of the small last-chance $1,500 events wasn't an option. I also knew I'd be playing in the media event on the 27th, but as you all know, that ain't real good poker. And I needed to do something to satisfy that poker jones, besides the wandering around and taking notes and photos of everybody else's fun.
So along about suppertime on the 26th, I wander over to the satellite corner of the Amazon Room, very near where the doors lead out to the Beast Light beer garden. My bankroll says 'cheapest only,' so I cough up the $175 fee, draw a card and end up in the three seat. I'm nervous as hell. I've heard that the players in these aren't the greatest, but that description fits me as well. I also know that there a few people who are pretty good players, who do little else during the WSOP but hang around and play the supers and regular sats, accumulate a batch of the $500 buy-in chips for use in other events, and sell those chips to other players.
I don't recognize any of the nine men at the table, but they all look like lions and tigers to me. I check my $1,000 in chips --- eight $100's and eight $25's --- and the cards are dealt.
Not much happens the first lap or so. I see one flop, but have to get away from it when a scary board arrives. I notice one thing, though: Compared to online players, these guys are chronic underbettors. Limping and creating 5-way flops is commonplace, as are min-raises, which usually means at least four people stay. I don't plan on doing that, once I see what's going on, but I don't have much choice --- after the better part of two laps we've lost only one player (on a donkey call of another player's all-in, the guy calls with his paired ace... and a 7 kicker), and I'm down to about $775 when the big blind rolls around again.
I've got 7-4 off, but four people limp, and the small blind and I see the flop for cheap.
7 - 7 - 6. Now things are interesting.
The small blind fires in $50, only one third of the pot, and I just call behind. Two others do, too. The turn is a most heavenly 4, giving me a garbage-y boat, and now the small blind fires $350 at me. I move in for the couple hundred more than that that I have, knowing the other players are going to give credit to one of us for having the third seven, if not a junk straight. Besides I don't want three people drawing at my baby boat, if I can help it. Any overpair offers more outs against me, and I know I'll get one caller already.
As expected, the others fold and the small blind calls, and he has the case 7, but his kicker is a Q. He's dead to three outs for the win, three more for the chop, but it doesn't come up --- my baby boat holds and I'm up over $1,800. A short while later I flop top two and take another okay pot, moving to about $2,600, but there are five of us left, all hovering around that 2K mark. And I drop two small pots, win one, steal another pot --- and I finally knock out another player when my overpair (JJ) takes out top-pair-top-kicker on an 8-high board. I look around --- there's only three of us left, and I'm the leader with almost $4,000.
I take the chop --- the -EV, utility-function decision it might have been. But dammit, it's mt first-ever super, my first-ever WSOP action of any kind, and I have no bankroll, besides. (It turns out that the few hundred dollars I make is just enough to allow to me to buy the inexpensive notebook computer I later have to procure.) I'm the official winner of the super, too, so I guess I now have the smallest of all WSOP histories, along with 100,000 others.
I go on to play two more satellites at the WSOP, a week later, both of them $175 sats for the $1,500 last-chance events. One of them is purchased for me by a very nice man from Florida, named Vern Toland, who I played next to for hours at a Caesar's tournament and who thought enough of my play to want to risk $175 of his own money on me when I run into him at another of the last-chance events. I let him down, though, when short-stacked, I run jacks into kings and get no help. But thank you, Vern; I just wish I'd picked a better spot to push.
The other last-chance sat goes not much better, but at least I go out of that one after having gotten all my money in with the best hand not once, but twice. I end up my satellite experience a very forgettable 1-for-3, with a tiny overall profit. Forgettable by all except me, of course. There's something special about sitting down at a WSOP table for the first time, no matter how small the stakes. And if I have the chance, I'll try it again next year.