WSOP-C Hammond, $345 H.O.R.S.E., Day 1, Part 2
A long day's journey into night. I overuse that phrase, but that's what it felt like when I moved into the later stages of play in Event #8 at WSOP-C Hammond, $345 H.O.R.S.E., on Tuesday. When we got down to perhaps six tables -- 48 players or less remaining -- more and more people began noticing an anomaly on the oversized screens relaying the tourney's information to the players.
According to the payout schedule that scrolled by repeatedly, the event would pay 18 spots, not the 16 or 24 one would expect in an 169-entrant tourney with eight-player tables. The players at my initial table had noticed this early on, and what a couple of them relayed as an explanation turned out to be correct in this case. It was what in an NBA or NFL game would be termed an uncorrectable -- if very minor -- error: when the numbers and scheduled payouts were sent to the Indiana Gaming Commission, they'd accidentally typed in the schedule using a nine-player set-up instead of eight, which would have meant 16 spots would normally have been paid. Once something like this goes to the state, it is apparently set in stone, and so we would have 18 players cashing for at least $841. That extra $1,682 for spots 17 and 18 would be trimmed out of the other 16 pay slots, with first still scheduled to get more than $13,000.
I didn't care; I was maybe even happy, because I was still stuck in the 20-25,000 range and couldn't get out of that bubble zone. That bubble zone seemed like a likely destination (even if I continued to run reasonably well), since I kept catching just enough good cards to stay in the mix.
I mentioned in Part 1 that we'd had a very weak player in the one seat when I moved to my primary evening table, who had hit a card rush and surged in chips after being down to nothing early, then proceeded to spew them all back. The player who took his spot I'm not going to mention in any specific way, but I have my hunches about something. Still, that's getting ahead of myself.
We were in a game with the betting at 1,500/3,000 and this new player in the one seat was in the hand. It wasn't long after a hold'em hand in which he knocked out the short-stacked player in the two seat -- and that was a "wow" hand itself, since the one seat flopped quad aces and still had to sweat a one-outer as the two seat's 7-6 of diamonds caught a shot at a straight flush on the turn. In this later hand, though, while in either hold'em or Omaha, the one seat either made the bet to 3,000 or called it. The dealer, a youngish kid (but an excellent dealer nonetheless), spread the chips as he pulled them into the center and suddenly yelled, with excitement in his voice, "FLOOR!"
One of the TDs came over. It turned out one of the yellow 1,000-denomination chips now in the pot had a different logo on it than the ones we were using, meaning that there was a good chance that this chip had been rung in surreptitiously from an earlier event. These were all brand new chips, by the way, with several different styles in use throughout the room. Unless my memory was playing tricks, I personally have a hunch that it was this new player in the one seat who rang in the chip, because I thought I remembered him cutting off three yellows from the bottom of his stack before pushing them out in a tight manner. Where the chip was on the board, it almost certainly came from the one seat's stack. To me -- with the caveat that my memory may indeed have played tricks on me -- it seemed quite possible that the guy had buried that chip at the bottom of the stack, looking for just the right moment to bring it into play. He also didn't look quite right to me, just not acting the way I would have been if it had been one of my chips that turned out to be funny and I was innocent about it.
But let me state this right now: I could be wrong, and not having been quite observant enough to catch all of the action, I had to let it go, as did the dealer and the TD... probably for the same reasons. As the night wore on, it turned out that two or three of these dubious yellow chips had been rung into the game, but I think it was all likely from the same player. That shit sucks. It's the first time I've been at a table where this happened in a tourney where it was clear that something had gone on, this given my own relative inexperience in live-event play. And without absolute proof, it's awful hard to make an accusation. I'm sure that those chips were clean and sorted before being put into play, because this Circuit stop has featured a top-notch, veteran crew. Most of the TDs here were folks I either knew or recognized, from Steve Frezer and Charlie Ciresi to Amy and Jo and Troy and Chris and much of the rest of the "gang" I knew from the floor of the Rio. I recognized probably half the dealers as well, even if I only knew a couple of them by name.
But back to the rung-in chip(s). All I'll say is I'll remember the guy and I'll know him if I ever play him again, and will watch him like the proverbial hawk. I wouldn't confirm his identity even if someone showed me his name and photo, because 85% sure just ain't nowhere near 100%. But maybe karma did the payback already -- he busted just a table or so short of the money.
And I was getting tired. I even committed the cardinal sin of accidentally folding a half-good hand later on when we moved from stud hi-only to stud hi/lo and I missed the dealer announcing the change as a couple of other distractions swirled around us. It wasn't a made hand, but I probably should have been playing it. These things happen, I guess, but I was mad as hell at myself about it.
We broke down to seven tables, then six, and I was still stuck. I was chipping up in the stud rotations consistently but whiffing on every single playable hand in hold'em, and treading water in Omaha while staying conservative there. In the flop games, I had one of the chip leaders on my left who was defending his blinds and button with just about anything. Worse, every time I caught A-K or A-Q or something else playable in late position, the flop magically brought J-9-8 or 10-8-7 with at least two of a suit I didn't have. Those coordinated middle-deck flops crush overcards, and I had no chips to argue the matter.
Finally we got back to a razz rotation, and the deck hit me. For the first time all night, I took a huge hand off of John Guarisco, the guy who'd been outdrawing me all night. This time he made a seven in a razz hand where I made a six, and I moved over 40,000, brightening my mood immeasurably. Then I put my favorite sort of hurt on a player in stud hi/lo, and I left the poor guy with next to nothing in chips. A cardinal sin in hi/lo is to overplay high but non-ace pairs too strongly against what seems to be a made low hand, particularly one with an ace.
I had an ace up, and 6-2 underneath. Two diamonds as well. It's a hand I'm going to play strongly at least to fifth street. The guy across the way had a king up and came in for a raise, and I re-raised to clear away some of the other low cards that might want to hang around. I think one did, but he went away on fourth street when I caught a five. I caught another sweet card on fifth street, a four, giving me 6-5-4-2-A and a monster low. I kept firing; though he had something like K-2-5 showing, I wasn't too worried. Despite the fact that he could have had four cards to a wheel, I didn't buy it. I was sure he was on a high-only hand and had another king or a buried pair underneath. My half of the pot seemed safe, and I was freerolling for the rest of it.
I caught a jack on sixth street and he caught another deuce, I believe, putting him on a likely two pair, kings up. I was just praying for my three for a wheel, and after the dealer sent the last cards out, face down, I just flipped it up -- and it was the most heavenly three of diamonds. The poor guy indeed had two pair going into seventh street, kings up (just like I thought), and bricked the river. I had scooped my biggest pot of the event and the other player was down to almost nothing, and went out just a hand or two later. I did a rough count and I had something like 66,000 and all of a sudden had some serious thoughts about making a deep, deep run, since we were closing in on four tables (32 players).
It wouldn't be that easy. And it was Guarisco again, who I'd put a hurt on in a razz hand just 15 minutes earlier, who I tangled with and again couldn't beat.
We were still playing stud hi/lo when a huge hand unfolded. Guarisco started with about 25,000, and I was riding high. This was at the 3,000/6,000 level, with 4,000/8,000 hold'em just a hand or two away. The bring-in was the deep stack to my left, who had slipped a bit but was probably still at 75,000 or so. A three of clubs three seats to my left limped in, and John completed with an ace of hearts up. I had the eight of diamonds up and the 3-5 of diamonds underneath. I took one off to see what would happen.
The bring-in limped in but was almost sure to go away after catching paint on fourth street, but the guy across the way caught something like the seven of clubs, was on a short stack himself, and led out. Guarisco had caught a black six or seven himself, and I had picked up the deuce of diamonds, giving me four small diamonds to the eight. John reraised, and I looked at what his stack and the size of the stack in the eight seat were, and knew it was time for war. I decided to three-bet it to put some pressure on the other short stack, to try to isolate against (and knock out) John, since in theory both hands were big dangers. The third player hated my three-bet but he'd been at a couple of tables with me already and knew I'd been playing reasonably tight, so he folded to save his last 20,000 in chips for another battle.
Meanwhile, I had John all in by fifth street, but I bricked out completely, going J-8-J with no diamonds, for two pair and no low. John caught another ace and a three on seventh street to salvage a better two pair, and scooped what must have been a 50,000 pot. If I catch my flush there I'm a heavy favorite to scoop and get to what I think would have been more than 90,000, or even if John doesn't pair up again I'm fine. Just dammit. In retrospect, that was the pot I needed more than any other, even if I just had caught one of the other low cards to chop the pot.
Meanwhile, though, the players were dropping like flies. Kelley Kiser was knocked out from the table behind me and I didn't even notice that she'd gone, and all of a sudden the TDs halted us as we were down to 24... no, 23... as two players went out on the same hand. With blinds which were 3,000/6,000 having just jumped to 4,000/8,000 and an average stack of perhaps 42,000, this was just carnage. As for me, I'm just a hair below that average, at something like 36,000 after another hell flop killed my K-Q suited from the button in hold'em.
Steve Frezer walked by and said, "Haley, you need more chips!"
Thanks, Steve. Ell-oh-ell.
We did a table redraw at 23, and then "the plan" necessitated by the little oops with the payout information for the state was put into play. Not only did we do a redraw for seats, but we redrew for the game as well. It was stud hi/lo again, with antes of 700, a bring-in of 1,000, a complete of 4,000, and streets of 4,000 and 8,000. If I caught a hand here I'd be all in by sixth street myself, but despite getting clipped for a couple of bring-ins, it didn't come to that. I instead caught five straight absolutely unplayable hands. In those five hands -- and it might only have been four hands at the other tables -- we lost five more players, and all of a sudden the plastic baggies were being passed out at just shy of 1:00 am.
We were in the money! Congratulations all around. For me it was the second time in a hair under 48 hours, but this bagging up of chips was totally new to me. I counted up my paltry 29,100 in chips, sealed it up, and quickly called it a night. I had a 70-minute drive back to my apartment, some site work to do both yet that night and in the morning, including transcribing a funny interview with "November Nine" player Darus Suharto from the day before, and I was running on nothing but adrenalin. I was due back at 2:00 pm the following afternoon to play a short stack and hope for the best.