About a week ago, I mentioned to Wendy Rubin how much I thought she should put herself into a big professional tournament. She's an excellent player and I really feel she could do well. In fact, I offered to help stake her for the next one that's coming around. Well, lo and behold, it turns out that the U.S. Poker championships at the Taj were held this weekend and it just so happens that the Ladies No-Limit Hold-em event was today (this Sunday). So I put the offer out to Wendy on Friday night to come down to A.C. with me today and get her enrolled in the tourney. She agreed after a little hand wringing. Paull Hellman happened to be down there visiting his parents this weekend and after hearing the proposition, Paul decided he would help me stake Wendy in the tourney. So Paul and I each took a quarter share of the $300+$40 buyin and we got Wendy signed into the tournament.
Amazingly, there were only 96 women who ended up enrolling in the event. I thought the number would be much higher considering the same event at Foxwoods in April drew over 300. Still, it was a decent field and Wendy was happy to play. The tourney started promptly at noon and Paul and I looked over Wendy's shoulders, protecting our investment. She did quite well through the first blind level, playing her consistent brand of tight and agressive poker. Play at the table was of very mixed quality with some absolute rank beginners in the hands along with some very confident players. Wendy happened to be flanked by two fish, one of whom put a very bad beat on our hero to put quite a dent in her stack. She had worked up from $3000 to about $6000 when she got KK in the small blind. There were a few limpers and Wendy made it $300 to go with blinds at 25/50. I thought it would be enough to take the pot but the woman to her left called. The flop was J97 with three clubs on board. Wendy had the King of clubs and was confident enough to bet out 500. The woman called and the turn was a T. Wendy again bet out 500 and the woman re-raised to 1000. Wendy was forced to call. The river brought a blank and Wendy checked to the woman who went all in with her remaining 500 or so, which Wendy was called (pot committed) only to see the woman turn over Q8 offsuit for the straight. How this woman called Wendy's first two bets was unfathomable, but the reality was that Wendy's stack was halved and she never quite made it back from there. Wendy eventually busted out in the 4th or 5th blind level after going all in with 88 only to get called with a 77 who caught a 7. Tough luck, for sure, but it happens to all. My guess is that Wendy will be back battling it out before long and I won't be surprised in the least if she wins one of these tourneys. In fact, we're already making plans to enroll her in the Foxwoods Lades event at the end of October!
On a side note, the tournament at the Taj was conducted in an absolutely awful manner. There was a $500+$30 Omaha tournament running at the same time which had 4 blind clocks displayed on the TV screens but the Ladies tournament had no blind clock at all so it was impossible to know how long you had left before the blinds went up. To make matters worse, when they did announce a blind change, not all the dealers heard it. 20 minutes after going from 25/50 to 50/100, a table was collapsed and a woman was brought into Wendy's table. When she was told blinds were 50/100, she said, "They are? We've been playing 25/50 this whole time at my table!". Evidently her dealer never changed blinds which caused a bit of an uproar. It's an obvious advantage to a table to play at lower stakes, and the players at Wendy's table were PISSED. A floorperson was called over and chastised but there wasn't much he could do about it except make sure everyone changed blinds at the same time in the future. Just awful coordination on the part of the Taj. It was almost like they thought of the Ladies tournament as a low class affair.
Paul and I in the meantime, while Wendy was playing, headed over to the 1-2 No Limit table and were able to get seats together. Wendy was even able to join us after she busted out of the tourney. We played for 5 1/2 hours which was notable for a few hands.
First, the bad news. Wendy's bad luck streak continued at the cash table and she had a major blow up which I'm sure will haunt her for weeks. Wendy had been up over $150 early on after her pocket Aces made her a big pot. Then the inevitable happened. Wendy limped in on the button with K6, a hand no one would normally play, but she felt she had to because it was a family pot and there were 9 other bets in. The flop invited disaster. It was KcTc6c. There was a dangerous club draw on board, of which Wendy had none, but she did hold two pair on an otherwise harmless looking board. The big blind started betting with a medium bet ($15 or $20 dollars) and there was one or two callers before it got to Wendy, who popped it to about $75 (the details are sketchy in my mind). This is where it got interesting. The big blind, a young Asian man who had just sat down recently and hadn't even taken his chips out of his plastic rack yet, slid the whole rack in the pot and declared all in for an additional $275 dollars! The pot was only about $120 at this point and everyone folded to Wendy. Even though she verbally put the Asian man on 66 or TT in his hand, Wendy made the call with most of the chips in her stack and was dismayed to see the man turn up 66. The 6's were officially dead to her and only a King could save her. But the third King was nowhere to be found and Wendy lost a monster pot. At this point, Wendy was clearly steaming and I had to force her to get up and walk around a bit before coming back to the table. There's nothing worse in my opinion than playing on tilt after losing a hand like that and then blowing your whole stack. Wendy still had over $100 left and she could easily make a comeback. In the next few hours, Wendy did precisely that. And while she didn't win all of her money back, she at least made sure the evening wasn't a total loss. Yes, the day proved unprofitable for her, but we hope she had fun and learned some good lessons.
Paul, on the other hand, was a monster. Paul bought in for $200 and cashed out 5 1/2 hours later with $995!!! It was a sight to behold. Most of Paul's winnings were made on three hands. On the first, Paul had AQ and called a preflop raise to 15 which was called by one or two other players. The flop was Q rag rag. The initial raiser came out with 100 and Paul called, hoping his Queens stood up. He later admitted it was probably not a good call, but he was favored by God in this hand and he had a good read on the raiser. The turn was a rag and all the players checked. The river was a King (a scare card here), but all the players checked again. Paulie bought himself just enough rope to hang himself with but, amazingly, neither player could beat the AQ, which makes you think just what they had to call Paul's raise with! We'll never know since they both mucked and Paul dragged a huge pot on a scary hand. The second good hand, Paul called a small preflop raise and flopped A73. An attractive young Russian woman bet out and Paul called. The turn was a blank and again she bet and Paul called. I was curious as to what Paul had and I assumed AJ or AT. The river was another blank and the woman bet 50(!) which Paul quickly called, but not raised. Paul showed the two pair and the woman showed AQ and Paul dragged another nice one. The last memorable hand for Paul, though, was one he'll remember for a looong time. Here's how I saw it from my persepective. The guy to my left, who was up and down all night, raised preflop to 15 and Paul called along with two or three others. Flop was Q93. The guy to my left made it 15 to go again and Paul reraised to 115, driving out everyone except my friend to my left who called. The turn was a rag and the guy checks to Paul who bets 100. The guy calls. The river is an additional rag and the board is showing no straight or flush draws with Queen as the highest card. A guy at the end of the table, not involved in the hand, starts saying, "Paulie's got trip Queens. Paulie's got trip Queens.", and it sure looked that way to me too! The guy to my left checks again and Paul puts in 200! I've never seen Paul bet that much before and it confirmed to me that he probably DID have the nut set, but the guy to my left calmly picked 8 green chips from his stack and called. Paul showed the inevitable QQ and the other guy mucked, leaving the table immediately with his remaining $120 dollars. Paul had made over $450 on that pot alone and he was now just over $1000 in chips. Amazing! Nice work!!! My gut feeling is that the other guy had flopped a set of 9's and couldn't get away from it, because that's the only thing that could justify his calling. Either that, or he REALLY liked Paulie!
As for my own play, I was up $150 early on a lucky draw. I got AsAh in the small blind and the pot had been raised to about $10. I don't like playing monsters from the small blind so I limped in and the flop was KsTs7s. I had an overpair and a nut flush draw. I bet out $25 to let people know I was being serious and the guy at the end of the table raised me all in for $126 more. I thought about it for a bit and I was pretty sure I was beat but the thought of the nut flush draw somehow convinced me, stupidly, to call. I felt like an idiot, but not as bad as I thought to see him turn up K7. A Ten or a running pair could win for me. So could an Ace or any spade. I figured my odds were about 40-45% to win here but I just did the odds on Cardplayer.com and it turns out my Odds after the flop of winning were actually 51%! I was a favorite to win!!! It turns out I forgot about the possibility of a straight, too, but that's neither here nor there. In the meantime, I still had to improve my hand and avoid a K or 7. The turn was a blank but the river was a life saving Ace! I yelped and pumped my fist in victory and got very dirty looks from my opponent and his friend, who hurled "donkey" epithets in my direction. Our conversation got a bit heated up but it died down after a while and we got back to the business at hand. And then it happened, I lost all of the chips I won, and then some, on a goddawful hand. I had KdJd under the gun and I chased out limpers with a raise to $12. I got two callers. The donkey on my left who would eventually give up $400 to Paul later in the afternoon and my friend across the table whom I'd spanked with my Aces. The flop was KQ9 with a diamond and two hearts. I felt pretty good about being the top hand so I bet out $20 expecting to take the pot right there, but both players called. The turn was an 8d. Now I had the flush draw, so I bet out another $20. Both players called. Could one of them be slowplaying two pair? It didn't matter to me when the Tc came on the river. I had made an inside straight draw and the lack of flush possibilities means I had the second nuts (only the AJ would beat me). However, I wanted to see where I was at so I checked. The man to my left moved all in for $176! I know he's been playing loose all night so my first instinct for him was TT and that he had made trips. I was representing a King, so my opponents could logically put me on AK, especially considering I checked the scary river card. The trip tens just felt like the right read. But then I fell into a heap of trouble when the guy across the table called the $176! Now I thought that one of them, maybe both had the Jack. The question was, do either have AJ? That's what prevented me from calling right away. I eventually discounted the possibility because that would mean someone put in over $50 into this pot before the river with nothing but an inside straight draw. That didn't seem logical so I made the call, fully expecting to chop 3 ways. The guy to my left had KJ like me and the guy across the table showed.... AJ. I was stunned. He had tripled up and more than made up for the loss I put on him with the Aces. More than that, I dropped down to $250 from $450 and I was feeling a bit at a loss for words. In retrospect, though, I should have laid it down for one reason. I called $176 in order to have the privelege of getting my $50 back. That seems like an expensive thing to do. The best case scenario would have been for one of them to have trips and the other to have any Jack but Ace-Jack. That isn't likely, however, and I ended up spending way too much to find out I couldn't even chop after all! Cest La Vie. In the end, I battled back from the $250 to cash out at $342. Not stellar but certainly not down.
It was a fun day all around and I hope to do it again soon. In fact, I'll be there next weekend if anyone wants to come along!