What I Learned During the WSOP 2007
By: Eric Meadows, API Player #22844
(Previously published on the API Blog Site)
1. You cannot appreciate the magnitude of the WSOP without being there.
If you have ever thought about going to the WSOP I would encourage you to do so with API. I made a last minute decision to join Team API at the WSOP. I literally booked my airfare and hotel on July 3rd and left on July 4th expecting to find just another large tournament on the other end of my journey, but what I found was far different than I could have imagined. The World Series of Poker is more than a tournament – it is an experience. When you see it on television it is hard to appreciate the number of events that make up the WSOP – 55 main events and thousands of satellite games, the size of the poker rooms, the number of players, spectators, the Gaming Expo, and the ancillary events / parties. At one point David Marlowe and I were having lunch chatting about the logistics of the money, logistics, and people and with dealers passing by us from their “ready room”. I decided to take a look in and jus the dealers waiting to deal must have numbered one thousand.
2. It doesn’t cost $10,000 to play in the WSOP
Contrary to what I thought I knew before coming to the WSOP you can get into the event in a number of ways. From online sites that allow you to win seats, to API that takes many of its winners you don’t have to spend $10,000 to play in the WSOP or the Main Event. I tried to get into the Main Event through two $175 single table satellite tournaments which are part of the WSOP. There were a number of single table satellites ranging from $125 to $1030 and then multi table events called Mega Satellites that you could win into or buy into for $500 to $1000. In the single table satellites the winner was awarded chips to play in another tournament and in the $1030 single table events the winner won a seat into the main event. In the Mega Satellites a number of seats were awarded (19 in the one Dale DaCruz played in). When you first arrive at the WSOP it can be intimidating, but jump right in and play your best and you have as good a shot as anyone.
3. We have truly talented players in API
Over the course of eight hours many of us watched Dale DaCruz, a very talented API player, widdle his way through a field of 320 only to fall 4 places short of going to the main event. During his run he came over and made a comment to me that many of the players he was up against regularly played at Foxwoods and on the WPT – they were good. I thought about it and as I scanned the floor of over 1,500 players in various multi-table super satellites, cash games, and single table satellites I saw Kevin, another API player, at the $1000 Mega Satellite. I came to the realization we are part of something big. There are a lot of very experienced, very good players out there and we saw many of them at the WSOP, but reviewing how API did at the WSOP and in cash games I must say that we are pretty good too and should be thankful for the opportunity afforded us by the league to learn the great game of Texas Hold’em. I started playing only one and a half years ago, and while I still tons of room to improve without API I wouldn’t be playing in the WSOP, I’d be a fish at the cash table. If you play in API and have become better at this game take a moment next time you see Katrina and/or George and thank them for API.
4. Pros are approachable
One of the amazing things I learned at the WSOP is that pros are approachable and many of them are very friendly and engaging. I talked to a number of well known pros during my time in Vegas. On the first day there I stood next to Doyle Brunson and had a good five minute discussion with him about the action at the table in front of us (other pros) and what it feels like to win a main event. Later I had the chance to speak with Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, and have a photo with Phil Laak – the Unabomber and Daniel Negranu. I saw Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Chloe Gowan, Howard Lederer, Annie Duke and Jennifer Tilly up close. I know that many other API players had similar experiences. The only pro I did not meet that I would have like to was Phil Gordon, but I stood only 6 feet away from him while he played a tournament and maybe someday I will have the opportunity to sit and chat with him a bit.
5. Patience is a virtue in poker
By nature I am a very competitive. I try to win at everything I do and sometimes that plays against me – especially in poker by clouding my judgment. At the WSOP I learned an early lesson – be patient. In the first single table satellite I played in, a $175 event, I went out second. Why? In my opinion a lack of patience. Not to belabor another bad beat story but I was on the button with JJ. Half of the table called and on the button I raised 5x the big blind. Everyone folded but one guy sitting mid table. The flop came J, 6, K. I got giddy. The player I was heads up with checked and I bet 1/3 the pot thinking if he was playing AK (note I forgot to consider he could have KK), or caught a J he would surely call or raise me – he called. I didn’t consider too much why he just called and put him on a lower pocket pair 10 or less. The turn was a 4 now with 2 spades on the board. I checked, thinking I was trapping him and he bet out ½ of the pot. Thinking he was on AK I called – still giddy. Now the river came – an Ace. He goes all in. I think about it for a minute, count the chips I am about to win in my head and call him – both of our tournament lives at stake. Not being patient I didn’t consider the texture of the board or his betting patterns – I just called. He could have had a straight, a set of kings, maybe pocket Aces, but in my cloud I didn’t think about it because I was impatient. I called and he turns over pocket Aces – I lose. It may not have been my worst call, but in retrospect I could have done a much better job of reviewing the moves in the hand, viewing the texture of the board better, and considering the situation in the context of the tournament. We were only 4 hands into it. I should have paid better attention to what he was betting and reviewing the scenarios in my head. If I did, I might have smelled a rat. If I had folded I would have still had 75% of my stack and a chance to get deeper in the tournament. My impatience cost me. Later in a cash game at the Hilton this lesson saved me $350 in a $1/$2 ring game where I had pocket 8’s. The flop was 8, 2, 2. I led the betting, making probe bets trying to get an idea of what he had, but couldn’t figure out where he was in the hand. The big difference between this hand and my WSOP appearance was that I was actually contemplating all the scenarios and not letting emotions cloud my judgment. He was the big blind and I was the button – he could have had anything. On the river my impatient self told me to go all in and put him to the test, but instead after considering it closely I checked and he made a bet of $35 into a $170 pot. I thought about it, figured out my odds, thought I might be up against a monster like quad 2’s or a boat and decided it was worth a call for the information at minimum. He turns over pocket 2’s. He had flopped a full house. My experience at the WSOP had saved me $350 of my hard earned money. The moral of the story – be patient. Take time to consider all the actions at the table, scenarios, your opponents motivations, and measure your aggression unless the situation dictates otherwise.
6. Tournament games and cash games are different
The second time I was in a cash game I was at a table with Katrina at the MGM. There were a number of API players at various tables and I started out the game with $200 at a $1/$2 table. I was holding my own and then made a couple of bad bets and was down to $140 or so. There was a player at the table with a decent stack pushing the table around a bit and I decided it was time to make a move on him. The problem is there rarely a reason to make a move like I am about to describe in a cash game. I got 7-3 and re-raised him putting myself all in pre-flop. He thought about it long and hard and called me with a K-5. Fortunately, I hit a seven and won the pot just over $300. Katrina told me she was going to spread the word on the stunt I just pulled so I decided to beat her to it. Even though I won the hand, it was a stupid bet. I was playing tournament style and not cash game style. This was a move I would make in a tournament, but should have never made in a cash game. For a good comparison of cash versus tournament take a look at an article written by Jason Kirk at http://www.blindbetpoker.com/tips/tournaments-cash-games.html and avoid my mistake.
7. Manage your bankroll
I came to Las Vegas with a good bit of cash and budget it for each day I was going to gamble. My new personal rule addition is that I will now leave a table when I am 50% up or down on the money I brought to the table to keep my luck from changing or cutting my losses. I came to this conclusion today when I went to a $1/$2 table at the Hilton with $200, won $500 over three hours, and then gave back my winnings by a series of bad decisions in under 1 hour. I left the table up $12.00 in the end. On the bright side I did hit my first Royal Flush during this session so I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I was holding the King and Queen of Spades and flopped the rest with one other player that had low straight flush and one with pocket aces (a big reason I got up to $500 in winnings). My major lesson here is to set your own personal limits and stick to them. Las Vegas can be fun, but don’t go betting what you can’t afford.
8. Don’t be afraid of Downtown Las Vegas
Downtown Las Vegas is great for low stakes games, low cost gaming, and as much fun as the Strip. I stayed at the El Cortez for a couple of nights and it was inexpensive, the room was clean, and they gave me a coupon for 2 free nights in August or September. There are a number of properties downtown to fit many tastes from high end (Golden Nugget) to cinder block walls (Ogden House Motel). A good site to get great information on staying, eating, and gaming in Las Vegas is www.cheapovegas.com.
9. Going to Las Vegas with API is a blast!!!
Need I say more?