Teepack’s Trip Tale: Harrah’s Cherokee WSOP Circuit Event No. 2

My last posts (Part 1 | Part 2) covered my experience playing Event No. 1 in the WSOP Circuit stop at Harrah’s Cherokee. I woke up the next day still jazzed about my 19th place finish and checked out of the hotel. The second flight of Event No. 2, the massive $365 re-entry tourney that drew nearly 2,900 runners in 2015, was scheduled to start at 11 a.m. This was the second of four starting flights, and it was scheduled to play 14 levels plus 13 minutes into the 15th level.

Like my experience in event No. 1, the first few levels were uneventful. I plodded along at slightly under the chip stack for most of the first 13 levels, folding almost every hand and winning just enough to keep me in good shape.

Look mom, I’m famous! I finished second out of the 631 players in Flight B, which achieved one of my Poker Bucket List goals when my name appeared in the WSOP Circuit blog recapping Flight B.

The Big Breakthrough

Just after level 14 started, I got moved for the sixth time. My stack had dropped to about 35,000 when I got pocket kings in the big blind. I was praying for someone to raise, and UTG+2, who was the big stack at the table with more than 100,000 chips, answered my prayer when he bumped it up to 10,000. It folded to the button, who called. The small blind got out of the way, and I shoved all-in. UTG+2 didn’t even ask for a count. He immediately announced all-in and shoved his chips into the middle. The button almost immediately called as well.

UTG+2 was so eager to get his chips in, that I was certain he had pocket aces, but he flipped over pocket jacks, and the button flipped over A-7 suited. I hit a king on the turn, and all of a sudden, I was the chip leader at the table with more than 110,000 chips!

The very next time I was in the BB, I had A-J suited. UTG, who had about 40,000 chips, raised it up to about 5,000 preflop. It folded to the small blind, who thought for a good while and then announced all-in. He had about 24,000 chips. I immediately called out all-in, thinking I would scare away the original raiser and could isolate the small blind. Instead, UTG called and flipped over A-10 suited, and the small blind showed pocket 9s. I flopped a jack and held on, knocking both players out and putting my chip stack over 175,000!

I ended Day 1 with 168,700 chips, which placed me second out of the 631 players in Flight B. It also satisfied one of my Poker Bucket List goals when my name appeared in the WSOP Circuit blog recapping Flight B.

A Bad Start to Day 2 … 

The tournament resumed two days later, with 407 players advancing from the four flights, and I was in 19th place. The top 324 made money, which meant it wouldn’t take long for the bubble to burst. The day got off to a promising start. I got A-9 suited on the first hand. I raised it to 5,200 and everybody folded. Unfortunately, that was the high-water mark for me.

I have written before that I am not a big believer in the concept of defending your blinds. Yet on each of my first two times in the small and big blind, I called pre-flop raises with marginal hands (10-9, J-7 suited, etc.), and I whiffed completely on every flop. Normally I would have folded those hands. Instead, I wound up costing myself more than 13,000 chips beyond the 7,200 I lost in the blinds.

That dropped my chip stack down to about 140,000 or so, and then I made another regrettable decision. I got K-J suited at UTG+3 and bumped it up to 5,600. The button called, as did the Big Blind. The flop came out K-6-2. The Big Blind checked, so I bet 8,000. The button, who had about 35,000 chips, announced all-in. The Big Blind immediately folded, and it came to me. I deliberated for so long that I thought someone might call the clock on me. I finally convinced myself that he had either K-10 or K-9, so I called. He turned over pocket 2s, and I was dominated.

My chip stack continued trending downward until it was reduced to about 55,000 chips on level 17 (big blind was 4,000). With A-9 in the big blind, I shoved all-in when the button raised to 11,000. I knew he was doing nothing more than blind stealing, and he folded. I got A-J suited a few hands later, shoved all-in again and scooped more blinds and antes. Two hands later I got pocket 4s from an early position, shoved all-in again and again scooped the blinds and antes. My stack was now back up to 108,000,  when I got every player’s dream – pocket aces in the big blind with action in front of me.

… Then a Brutal Beat

It folded to the button, who once again raised to 13,000. The small blind, who had less than 90,000 chips, announced all-in. I deliberated for about 30 seconds before announcing all-in, thinking maybe I could entice the button to also call. He actually deliberated for a little bit, then folded. The small blind flipped over pocket queens and groaned when I showed my bullets.

“Just get me through the flop,” I muttered to myself, and the cute dealer obliged, spreading a J-10-6 rainbow. The player with the pocket queens stood up, patted me on the back and said, “Good game.” The dealer tapped the table, burned a card and peeled off a king. I immediately said, “Oh, no.” My opponent now had an open-ended straight draw. Anticipation built around the table. My opponent stopped packing up his stuff. Everyone’s eyes turned to the dealer, who patted the table twice, burned another card and turned an ace, giving me a set and my opponent a four-card straight draw.

I was devastated. Instead of raking in nearly 200,000 chips, and atoning for what had so far been some really bad play on my part on Day 2, I found myself pushing 90 percent of my stack to my right. Two hands later, I got K-Q and shoved my remaining 13,000 chips all-in and was eliminated in 224th place when I could not hit an open-ended straight draw on the turn or river. Oh, how this game doth mock me so sometimes. It was my second cash in as many events, but it did not feel like I had won anything.

The Lamentation of the Losers

While standing in line to receive my cash out, players all around started sharing their bad beat stories – it must be a poker tradition. I smiled to myself as one player recounted how his pocket jacks lost to an A-9 suited when an ace came up on the river. Another guy grimaced when he recalled how his pocket 4s lost to pocket 10s after he had flopped a set and the river was a 10. Then I told them my story, and they all winced. “Runner, runner straight, and you hit a set of aces!”

I smiled weakly, collected my payout and headed home.

It was a terrible ending, but I can’t wait to come back and try it again.

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