Annual 2015 WSOP Tunica Trip Recap

For the fourth year in-a-row, a contingent of players from our local “home game” group made the annual trek to Tunica, MS to play in one (or more) WSOP Circuit events.

I struggled with the title for this blog, finally settling on the generic “Annual 2015 WSOP Tunica Trip Recap” instead of some of these alternatives: “How to play like a Donk”, “The Most Bizarre Tournament (because of my play) I’ve ever played in”, and “How to almost get banned from WSOP tournaments for Life” – more on this later.

Anyway, for various reasons, we had a much smaller group than normal make the trip this year. Our “core group” only consisted of six players: Choo, the twins – Derrick & Erick, Brad, Paul, and myself. We did run across quite a few other players that we know, including: Maurice, Eddie, Chase & Mike and their group from Clarksville, Scott and his son Levi, and several other players from our local area.  In the past couple of years, we’ve had 15-20 people make the trip.

Our crew headed to Tunica about midday on Thursday so we could play in the Horseshoe’s Thursday night $70 Bounty tournament, which is always a nice way to warm-up for the WSOP tourneys.  But, to our dismay, when we arrived at the ‘Shoe, we found out they had suspended their regular tournaments while the WSOP Circuit was in town.  So, a few of us played in the WSOP $65 Satellites and $135 Tournaments.

In a Thursday night $135 tournament, Derrick and Erick began play at the same table; however, they didn’t play together very long, as Derrick knocked Erick out the fourth hand when he had T-T and Erick had 4-4. They “got it all-in” on the flop of A-T-4, and Derrick’s set-over-set sent Erick looking for another game.  Derrick eventually finished in fourth place out of 148 players, for a $1,320 payout.

Choo and I opted to play 4/8 Omaha Hi/Lo in The Horseshoe poker room instead of WSOP tourneys. My second hand I turned the nut flush for the high hand and had A-2 for nut low hand to scoop about a $130 pot. As other players busted out of the WSOP games, the cash games in the poker room became much busier.  At one point I think there were about 38-40 cash game tables going, with about a two hour waiting list.

On Friday, our group-of-six played in the noon $365 WSOP Tournament. we each put in $20 for a Last-Man-Standing side pot. Five of us began the tournament out 12:00 noon, but Erick decided to spend the first couple of rounds in his room barfing (it remains to be seen if he was still recovering from being knocked-out by his brother the night before, or if it was something he ate).  Choo was the first one out, about an hour-and-a-half into the tourney. Erick should have probably stayed in his room (or should I say bathroom), as he was out about 45 minutes later. Derrick was next out around 4:15, and then Paul shortly followed by Brad, busted; with both lasting almost until the 6:45 dinner break.

So, at the dinner break, I was the last-man-standing in our group, and was $120 richer (hopefully – if these deadbeats will pay off ;) ). By-the-way, for players in the WSOP tournaments, they offer discounted buffet tickets and front-of-the line privileges.  I know you’re not supposed to eat a heavy meal while playing, but it was Seafood Buffet night!

Just after dinner break, the blinds were 800/1600 with 200 antes. My stack was exactly 26,100. There were 90 players left, and 45 places would be paid. I had been “card dead” for awhile, but had been patient. About an hour later, and still having been card dead, I finally picked up 8-8, and shoved. With no callers, I got the blinds and antes. The very next hand, I was dealt Q-Q, and shoved again; and again didn’t have any callers. Then, in three-out-of-four of the next hands I had: 8-8, 7-7, and A-A. I didn’t shove with these hands, but folded the Seven’s after the flop, and doubled-up with the Aces when I raised and a player with 9-9 went all in and I called.  He spiked a 9 on the River, but it gave me a straight.

Author’s Update on 2/2: I had an “eagle eye” reader point out [correctly] that a 9 on the River would not have given me a straight. I apparently got the hand slightly mixed up. I do recall that he hit a 9 giving him a set, so I thought I had lost the hand. But, the dealer and a couple of players pointed-out at the end of the hand that I had a straight. Maybe the 9 was actually on the Turn and a 10 was on the River.

So, now for an explanation of my alternative titles for this blog: After reading my explanations, you’ll probably be trying to determine how to get me to play in your home game, since fish are almost always welcome. But, I promise I’m not as much of an idiot/donk as it sounds (close, but still not as bad) – at least, that’s what I tell myself.

Here goes:

1) After a few rounds, I was in a hand with A-4, in the Big Blind, I think. After some betting preflop and on the flop, with one other player and myself in the hand, it was checked down. The board was A-K-5-5-x. He showed A-Q and I mucked, thinking I lost. An instant after my cards hit the muck, I realized it was a chop – but, too late. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want the other players to realize how bad I was.

2) I was UTG with Q-J, both spades, and a player two seats to my left and one player on the right saw a Ten high flop with two spades. First to act, I bet, the first player to my left called, and player on my right, who was short-stacked shoved all in. His bet wasn’t much more, so I insta-called. When I called, the all-in player flipped his cards over, and not paying attention like I should have, I flipped my cards over also. Since there was still a player left to act, the tournament director was called. The TD’s ruling was what I knew it should be – our hands were still live, and the remaining player could fold, call, or raise. Knowing what our cards were, he shoved all-in, which would have put me all-in. So, I folded, he turned up a ten high, no spades. When the board was dealt out and third spade came on the turn, and I would have won the hand. I asked the player later if he would have shoved if he had not seen our hands, and he said “probably not”. I had about 50,000 chips at the beginning of the hand, and would have won about 20,000 in that hand. Additionally, I was given a one round “sit out” penalty for exposing my cards.

3) Unfortunately, those two things weren’t the worst things that I did. Here it is: After being moved, and we were down to six tables. Just seconds before a break, in round 15, sitting in seat 3, I look down and have A-Q. With about 60K in chips, and the blinds at 1200/2400 with a 400 ante, I bet about 6800, the action folded to seat 7 (I think) and with a short-stack of about 11K more, he shoved. The TD had just announced we would be chipping-up blacks (100s) at break. Everyone left the table for break except the all-in player, dealer, another player buying up blacks, and myself. When we turned our cards up (I waited until told to do so by the dealer this time), he had 9-9. A Queen came on the turn, and I won the hand. The dealer pushed the pot to me, and told me to go through it and retrieve all of the black chips. So I spread it out, got the black chips, stacked them and left for break. The player in the seat to my left returned from break at the same time as me. He looked down at the table and exclaimed: “Where’s my chips?”. The dealer, looking stunned said: “What?”. The player said: ” I had a little over 20,000 chips before break, and they’re gone – I know I didn’t bust out while on break!”. The dealer called the tournament director over, and we tried to recall the action that had occurred prior to the break. The TD said since I now had over 100,000 chips, it looked like his chips were in my stack. They stopped the tournament clock for what seemed like forever, but was probably about 15-20 minutes to review the film footage captured by the overhead cameras. While they were reviewing the camera footage, I was going over-and-over in my mind how I could have raked in his chips, and could not for-the-life-of-me picture it. I was thinking that if I had, they might kick me out of the tournament and possibly ban me from future events.

When the TD came back, he stated that the player’s missing chips were, in fact, in my stack and I owed the player 25,700 chips! I commented to him that I had not done it on purpose, and he nonchalantly said they could tell it was not on purpose when they reviewed the film. Crisis averted, and play continued.

A few hours into the tournament, I noticed a player that looked very familiar at another table. The first time I played a WSOP event, a $235 event in 2011, a player was moved to our table where several players commented that he looked a lot like Ben Affleck, the actor – he said he had heard that before. Anyway, in that 2011 event he doubled me up when he miscalculated my chips and called my all-in. Eventually, we both made the final table, and Kevin (his actual name) and I seem to reconnect most years at the WSOP. In this year’s event, he eventually made the final table, and finished 7th when he was knocked-out when his Aces were cracked by Twos. Since he lives relatively close to me, maybe one day I can talk him into joining us for some of our home games.

Just a quick side note: During breaks in the tournament, I was texting a friend, Randy, and our group of players updates. Randy was relaying information to some other people in our group who had made the trip this year. They were replying with encouragement. Having their support while making a deep run was much more important than most people realize!

I was not involved in anymore controversies after that, and we eventually got down to two tables. Around 2 am Saturday morning, I was knocked-out in 16th place out of 393 players, and cashed for $1,356. My last hand, I had A-T, both hearts in the BB with about 130K, the blinds were 4,000/8,000 and 1000 ante. A lady on my left, in the UTG seat limped, everyone folded to about seat 7, where an older gentleman with a very large stack, and who had been playing pretty aggressive, just limped. Everyone else folded and I checked, not wanting to raise with A-T out of position. The flop was K-J-6, all Hearts – I had flopped the Nut Flush! I checked, the lady min bet 8,000, and seat 7 raised to about 25K; while trying to conceal my excitement, I just called. The turn was a 6, pairing the board. I wanted to know where I was at, so I bet about 25K, UTG folded, and seat 7 raised to about 50K. Knowing he could have a Full House, or Q-x of Hearts, here are my thoughts: he had been very aggressive and had been raising when in position a lot on the flop, and could be bluffing, I wasn’t just calling. I was already deep-in-the-money and the next few places just gradually increased in payout. I would need to win hands like this to make the final table. So, I raised all in, he insta-called with a K-6, so he did have the Full House – Sixes Full.

On Saturday, some of the guys played some more WSOP Satellites and $135 tourneys, and I think Paul played the Noon $365. Choo and I went back to the Omaha Hi/Lo cash game, where I slowly lost all of my Omaha winnings from Thursday night, plus a little more.

Sunday, we all (except for Choo, who had to get in a little more card playing) met for breakfast. Then, everyone dispersed and gradually headed home. I had told Choo, who rode with me, we’d leave at 11:00 am. About 10:30, since I didn’t really have enough time to play poker, I sat down at a $5 Blackjack table and promptly lost 10 out of 11 hands (one was a push). I went and checked out, drug Choo away from the poker table and headed home.

Later the next week, I found out that another player I’ve played with a few times, Brian, played in the Tuesday $365 event. He made it to play heads-up for the ring. Unfortunately, his opponent was catching all kinds of good cards, and Brian finished second.

Well, there’s probably several more stories from Tunica I could write about, but I’m tired of writing, and if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably tired of reading. Hopefully, it won’t be another two years before a post another blog entry!

Thanks for reading!!

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