WSOP-C Hammond, $235 NLHE Ladies Event
After a quick flight down to Atlanta over the past weekend for what amounted to a very brief vacation, I flew back into O'Hare Sunday morning, grabbed a 90-minute power nap, then headed over to the revamped Hammond Horseshoe casino for that day's relatively affordable WSOP Circuit event. This was the ladies event and its $235 buy-in was the most affordable on the schedule, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Besides, it was my first chance to view the new (and very impressive) poker digs at Horseshoe Hammond.
There were 237 players, two or three of whom I knew, and our 3:00 starting time was the day's second event, with what I think was an open $555 event having started at noon. I didn't know what to expect in terms of structure, and was pleasantly surprised to find we started with 5,000 in chips, had 40-minute levels starting at a paltry 25/50, and with a structure that basically just crept along. It was a polar opposite to the $1,000 and $1,500 events I played at the Rio last summer, and it was almost too great a structure -- one person who I told about the day's fun called it a budding nitfest... and that's accurate.
Especially since the first orbit quickly showed that all the players at my table wanted to limp in and see cheap flops and hope to hit a monster, so I made the conscious decision to fire away and try to pick up some early chips. I was a card rack for the first two hours, too, and by the first two-hour break I was up to 18,300. Getting there that soon, of course, was all the fun.
It started with one of those hands that went from awesome to scary to just plain strange. I'd chipped up to about 5,600 early. I'd found my first big hand of the day in pocket kings, and put in a raise to 200 over an early-position limper. She called, and the flop came J-10-8. Hmmmm. Coordinated board and all. She checked, so I made it 300 or 350, and she called. The turn brought an ace. She checked again, and since I was in "damn the torpedoes" mode, I fired another 500. She called again.
Double hmmm. Barring a good river, I'm done with this hand at this point. The river, though, brought my gin card, a queen for Broadway with no flush draws available. And... she bets 1,000 into me. Well, I've got the nuts and I have to bet, so I Hollywood just a hair and shove. She tanks, then calls all in for last 2,800. I figure it's the chop, obviously, but she turns up... A-9? She couldn't get away from the non-nut straight and I don't know how she couldn't put me on at least A-K. I guess she thought I was overplaying a set or top two. But whatever.
So I'm over 9,000 early and unexpectedly. That's the way the first two hours went, when I found kings an incredible three more times, aces once, and got some action with them more often than not. The aces immediately followed one of the kings pairs, and a short stack immediately to me right (and one of the two players at the table I was most concerned about), got it all preflop against me with kings of her own. My aces held for about a 6,000 pot and the knockout. But the biggest hand of the first two hours came when I raised a tight early limper while holding pocket eights, and after her call the board came a heavenly 6-8-8. DQB!!! I checked behind on the flop, and she jammed on me when a queen hit the board on the turn. I snap-called and she showed the A-Q I expected and that was that.
It was a real fun two hours with cards like that, even if I did drop a pot or two along the way. The very worst player at the table (who unfortunately happened to be a very nice, older-middle-aged woman) got about 2,000 in chips off me after I went prospecting with Qd-10s. By this time she had already demonstrated that she played fixed-limit only, limping in with any two decent-looking cards, never re-raising unless she had a monster. The flop came 10-high so I looked to be in good shape, but she didn't go away after I bet it, so I knew I was in trouble. By the river the board offered a four-flush in diamonds and I held the queen, so I bet 1,200. She min-raised me to 2,400. We'd been chatting quite a bit, and I smiled and said, "I haven't seen you bluff yet and I don't think that bet was your first," and open-folded the queen. She smiled back and showed the diamond ace, as I expected. But for what it's worth, my wanting to target her chips aside, she not only survived, but cashed.
The second two hours weren't likely to be as nice as the first, though our table was still weak by my estimation and I wanted more chips. I took a hit down to 14,000 or so, but had built back up to about 24,000 by the dinner break. However, soon after that our own table was broken and I ended up in an unexpectedly tough draw at my new table. To my right I had two very aggressive young players who were veterans of the cash games downstairs, and to my left I had two calling stations who had already accumulated large stacks and were bound and determined to keep on calling. No use putting myself in the middle of a squeeze play if I could help it. My run of hot cards deserted me at the new table as well, and even though the money bubble drew closer, I couldn't add any chips. No middle ground. I went from card rack to card dead for the next two hours. I believe I still made it up once to 27,000 or 28,000 a couple of hours later, but the cards weren't happening and the surviving players, as one would expect, were slowly getting better. I blamed it on Doug, the Circuit dealer from the area who occasionally plays in our NW suburbs home games. I knew he was going to deal me death and he did. :-)
The one hand that put a hurt on me came when we down to four tables, with the final three tables cashing. I found Q-Q in early position and put in the standard raise, and was called by a deep-stacked player who seemed decent enough -- I couldn't get a great read on her style -- two seats to my left. The flop came a miserable K-J-J but I figured I'd take one stab at, for 4,000 or so, and she smooth-called me again. Fine, she had a deep stack... so maybe she had A-Q and was taking a shot at me, but when the turn brought a ten I couldn't put her on a hand I could beat (with possible exceptions of eights or nines), but she clearly wasn't going away. So I had to.
After that it was a struggle trying to find a way into the money and beyond. The playable hands were going elsewhere, the deep stacks were actually bullying properly, and the only pocket pair I found -- sevens -- had to be mucked after there was a raise and a reraise in front of me. Blinds moved up to 1,000/2,000 plus antes and after a couple of short stacks doubled through in unlikely fashion, I had to make my own stand. We were literally at 28 players and the bubble, but I had to play my A-10 and the big blind had to call me, being priced in, with a powerful suited 7-2.
Uh-oh. Possible hammer death at the bubble. How ironic would that be for a poker blogger? And the flop was dreadful. Ten. Deuce. Seven. Ugh. A five on the turn, no help. And then another five on the river to give me an unlikely better two pair, and let me slide into the money.
I was still short, though, especially after getting hit with an extra round of donated blinds on garbage cards after a table redraw. So I shoved with K-10, got called by a player on a rush with A-Q, and flopped a king to double up, but still only to 20,000 or so. A few hands later it was folded around me to in the cutoff and I found deuces, and as I was back down to 16,000 I'm jamming with them in that spot. (I think we were at 1,500/3,000 at the time.) The same player had A-K in the big blind, and I lost that race when the board brought all high cards, including a king. End result: 26th, for a $420 payday, my first in any official WSOP-sanctioned event, since satellites don't count.
Not great, but it sure beat the likeliest alternative. Disappointing after the early good start, too, but those are the breaks.