Now I'll finally continue the story of how I stopped being the guy who held the record of "Most WSOP cashes without a final table"
I already started blogging about this tournament in two other parts ("WSOP $1500 NL & Borderline Schizophrenia"
and DEEP IN WSOP EVENT 48...LET'S GOOOOOO"
), but never really got around to telling the whole story.
The "$1500 NL & Borderline Schizophrenia" blog tells the story of day one, which went pretty well and left me with 36k at 500/1000 from the 4,500 starting stack. Then I went into day two on a miracle heater with a magic horseshoe lodged deep in my ass for the first two hours. Despite the clear discomfort this type of object causes, it was well worth it.
I started the day by stacking a guy in a 60k pot when he called all in on a T-8-7-A board and was probably drawing dead against my T-T even though we let him muck and never saw his hand (despite the fact that the rules require him to show, I wasn't going to force him to show his hand). Then I made a close decision to three-bet/call A-To from the small blind for a big pot against the button who seemed aggressive in the first couple orbits, and was even happier to call his four-bet jam when the words "I'm all in" came with an unexpected European accent! He had A-8o, and I won held for a ~70k pot.
The next one was one of my absolute favorite type of pots to win: when a player just randomly decides to spazz out and hand you his stack. It came when the small blind limped in on a 30bb stack and I checked K-5o from the BB. He check-raised a K-5-3 flop, then bet/three-bet all in on a T with VERY little fold equity...holding T-8o. In the span of the two hours that the 500/1000 and 600/1200 levels last, I skyrocketed from 36k to 167k going to 800/1600 and was suddenly one of the chip leaders.
Then something kind of funny yet annoying happened shortly after with a little over 100 players remaining. The poker gods decided to get a laugh at sticking me at a table that was being run over by not only one of my protégés, but one of my best friends in the world, Joe "Joey Capp/Cappuccio816" Cappuccio. We both just stared at each other and awkwardly chuckled as I set my racks down on the table, knowing that we were going to have to do some battling given the situation.
I lost a couple small/medium pots to Joey at first, including one where I considered making and could have successfully pulled off a double-barrel bluff with 6s-6d against his Td-Ts on a 9x-Jh-9h-Ah board. In my text messages updates that went to 8 people during the tournament I even mentioned that I should have double-barreled him...even though Joey was one of the eight recipients.
Another buddy of mine, Stuart "Stuman123" Yancik, showed up with well over 100k chips at 1/2k and took the seat on Joey's left and three to my right, but he didn't keep it long because I coolered him in pretty sick fashion in just his first or second hand at the table. Joey opened in late position, Stu called, and I called from the blinds with 5c-6c. The flop came 7c-4c-3s, and I went from six to midnight. Stu and I got it all in by the time the 2d hit the turn, and he was understandably disgusted to see my hand as he showed 7-7 for top set.
After the river came he looked me dead in the eye and said, "You just fucking stacked me, dude." I rarely feel bad to take chips, but this was a pretty sick cooler in a big spot against a kid I genuinely like, so I did feel a little bad despite the fact that I welcomed his chips with open arms.
What followed shortly after was one of those rare hands I'll definitely never forget about as long as I live. Joey and I were each playing ~70 big blinds, and I flatted his UTG+1 raise from middle position with 7-7. He c-bet a 6-4-4 rainbow flop and I obviously called. He barreled an offsuit King turn, and I called again because he's definitely barreling this turn with air a ton.
Then he bet around 40% of pot after the river came a Queen. I usually make really quick decisions even in big spots (I made a 350k river call against Soheil Shamseddin at the WPT Foxwoods final table with third pair so quickly that he actually could have pulled chips back), but I tanked here for a bit. Joey did not look happy as I counted out the chips to call, and he knows that I rarely count chips out and fold because I'm not one of those hollywooding, time-wasting live pros.
Then, some idiotic though process came through my mind that he wouldn't triple barrel bluff me in this spot for so many chips in a relatively soft field and at a great table. I thought back to our playing history together and I've caught him double-barreling me and giving up a couple times, but never emptying the clip. Despite my gut and physical read, I talked myself into laying it down.
There's an old expression in poker: You think long, you think wrong. I usually move on and do my best to not to wonder about hands like that after they happen, but then again I usually have no way to get information that I know is true. So here's the text convo between Joey and I moments after the hand while still at the table.
Me: pretty sure i'm gna murder u in ur fkn sleep. wug? (wug = what u got, and he was living @ my house in Vegas for WSOP, making this murder convenient)
Me: i really feel like you were bluffing, but couldn't convince myself u were that much of a cocksucker
Joey: I was :/
Me: 77, wug?
Me: i almost fucking called hud (hud = hope u die)
Although I was clearly not serious, you can tell from my tone that I was pretty tilted at the time. I typically only let myself get frustrated from this game when I feel that I played a hand poorly now that I think about the game the way I should, and I was pretty upset with myself for not going with my gut instinct and physical read that were leaning towards calling.
So that's the story of how I helped a good friend along in his journey as a poker player through the years until he could triple barrel bluff me deep in one of the more important tournaments of my life. Good times. Oh, and I should also mention that earlier this year I talked him into playing the $5k event at the Bike in LA and staying at friend's house with me out there. He flush-over-flushed me on the flop in just the fourth level of day one and stacked me. Then just ONE WEEK LATER he busted a horse of mine who was deep in makeup nine-handed at the final table of a $163 online tournament that was $25k for 1st. I swear if this kid wasn't one of my best friends, he'd be one of my nemeses!!!
Anyway, back to the lecture at hand. A little while after that at 1500/3k I defended Q-8s against the small blind and he decided to trap the hell out of me on a Kx-6s-3s-Qx-7s board until he finally had the worst hand and decided he was ready to check-shove river. While he walked away and I raked in a pot of over 200k another player randomly chimed in by saying to me, "gutsy call pre-flop."
ROFL!!! I wonder what kind of hands these guys are looking for blind-vs-blind!
After Joey and I had run the table over for several hours and developed pretty aggressive images some guy lost his mind and decided he was going to three-bet fold Q-Q face-up on a ~40 big blind stack. I had A-K for what it's worth, but he was pretty far ahead of my range for that spot. I asked Joey on break what the guy was thinking, and he replied, "I dunno, but the guy should definitely seek other options as hobbies."
One more player decided he couldn't resist the urge to spazz of heaps of chips to me, which is always fine by me. He was relatively new to the table and I'd actually been playing relatively tight since he got there. I don't think we'd played together previously, either. We'd even been chatting it up a bit. All of which made the following even more unexpected.
We both had stacks of over 500k at 3/6k when he opened to 18k UTG+1, and I three-bet to 44k from UTG+2 with A-A. He four-bet to 118k total, and I just called. The flop came Q-J-4, and he verbally declared "two hundred thousand." I moved in, and he reluctantly called after saying how he couldn't fold now...showing K=J!
I faded the turn and river and was suddenly chip leader with over 1.1 million at 4/8k. I cruised through the last two levels of the day and stayed around 1.1M until the day ended just before 6/12k with 32 players remaining. Unfortunately Joey wouldn't make it through the night though (in the poker sense...I didn't make good on my promise to kill him in his sleep). He slowly bled chips away in a lot of smaller pots and couldn't get anything going for several hours at the end of the night, and eventually busted in 37th place.
As great as this was for me as a player, it was brutal to see my best friend go. Being able to make the final table and sit with one of your best friends would be a dream-come-true for anyone. Regardless of the fact that he's one of my toughest opponents on the felt, I was definitely crushed as they "sent an escort to the table" for him. (This is how the WSOP refers to the process of having an employee meet players who bust in the money at the table, but is probably not the best way they could word it...especially in Las Vegas!)
If you made it through the last 1731 words and are still here, you're a trooper and I applaud you. I'll try to wrap up the last part of this story in a slightly more succinct fashion.