Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Vegas And Winning A WSOP Bracelet

What a trip to Vegas this was, I am still in aww, shock, and just can't believe what just happened and what I witnessed. Things started off normal, arrive at airport, fly to Vegas, check in at hotel, register for our World Series Of Poker Event, that would start the next day. Some of us went to Aria to play their daily 1pm tournament, and some went to Venetian to rail a couple of buddies that started playing The Venetian Deepstack $2,100 buy in tournament.

So we all meet up at 10am before The WSOP for breakfast at The Rio buffet, when I say all, I mean about 10 or 11 of us, some Orangeville Poker Tour Satellite winners, and friends. The majority of us are playing The WSOP $1,500 Event at noon except Ted Safranko who made Day 2 of The Venetian Deepstack.

We all make our way to our assigned tables and The WSOP starts for us. We meet up on breaks to give updates on our chip stacks, and it seems we are all having kind of the same run, we are up and down in chips, and by the end of Day 1, only two of us have advanced to Day 2, Kirk "Pudge" Caldwell who is sitting around 15th in chips, and myself and sitting aroung 50th in chips. We also find out that Ted has finished 5th in The Vebetian Deepstack for a $25k pay day, which makes me happy as I had a piece of his action. (my blog post on buying action)

Kirk and myself are pretty happy that we made Day 2 with good chip stacks and we are not far from the money. Day 2 starts and players start busting all over the place. Players were busting so fast that when the dealers were told to pause after this next hand so they could start hand for hand to get into the money, it was over without even starting and we were in the money as everyone cheered and clapped.

I ended up busting in 53rd for a $10.5k pay day, but Kirk who was an Orangeville Poker Tour Satellite winner was still in and made Day 3, sitting in the middle of the pack with chips. Kirk is in the money which means whatever he cashes for minus the 30% withholding taxes, 15% of that gets paid out to those that participated in the satellite that he won.

Day 3 starts for Kirk and we are all there railing him and giving him as much support as we possibly can from the rail. Before we know player after player are eliminated and Kirk is racking his chips and moving to the final table that is live streamed online with a 5min delay at wsop.com.

There is a big hand early at the final table that saw 2 players eliminated when A Q defeated J J and 10 10. Kirk's biggest hand also came pretty early when he had QQ vs KK, we all on rail were screaming for a Q and right on the flop came a Q and Kirk had eliminated the player with KK. That was the first of many big hands that played out at the final table. Kirk's biggest play I think came when he held 4 5 of diamonds and checked raised the flop with bottom pair, and the turn gave him two pair. Also another big hand was when they were three handed, and he found himself against the chip leader at the time with J 9 of hearts on a 9 high flop with two hearts, chip leader pushed all in and after Kirk thought for a bit he called and saw he was good with a pair of 9's but no heart was good to him as the chip leader held K 5 of hearts for a bigger flush draw. Kirk's hand held up and he now was the dominate chip leader. When Kirk was finally heads up, it didn't last long, and Kirk used his dominate chip stack wisely, and the final hand played out when Kirk raised with 8 8 and then got re raised, and then Kirk pushed all in and his opponent called with A Q, Kirk's hand stayed ahead and he won WSOP Event 32 and a Gold Bracelet with about 3mins left in Day 3. Congrats Kirk.

Kirk "Pudge" Caldwell is a very good friend of mine, and I have been playing poker with him ever since I started Orangeville Poker Tour, and this will be a day that I will never forget in my life, since I was there to witness this and it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Thanks for the memories Pudge.

So what's next for us, well a few of us are heading back to Vegas to play in The World Series of Poker Main Event which is a $10k buy in, hopefully I will have another amazing story to tell when I get back from this next trip.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

What To Expect When You Go Play In The WSOP?

I have been asked numerous questions over and over again about what to expect and should know when you go to play in The World Series of Poker? I have gone to Vegas every year for The WSOP since 2007, so I do have some experience on what you should do before going and while there.

The WSOP usually releases their schedule for all 55+ Events around January/February. Once you have the schedule you have to figure out when the best time for you to go is and what events you want to play during that time.

Booking Your Flight:
It is very important that you book your flight as soon as possible. From my experience the earlier you book with an airline the cheaper the flights will cost you. I remember one year that if I included a car rental with the flights through the airline it was actually cheaper.

Booking Your Hotel:
I find the best deals come from directly booking with the hotel instead of searching for package deals. If you have a players card from certain hotels you may actually get comped a few nights. The Rio is a good place to stay if you are just going for The WSOP since that is where all the events are played. (rumours have been circulating that the WSOP may be moving to Caesars Palace for years now).
Don't get me wrong you may still find a great deal by booking a package deal that includes flight and hotel, but I would get prices first directly from the airline and hotel before looking into the package deals that may not be a deal after all.

Registering For WSOP Events:
If you plan on playing in a $1000 or $1500 event or Day 1d of the Main Event, I suggest you pre register for these, as there is a very good chance that they will sell out. Yes even Day 1d of the Main Event. This is because The WSOP will stop letting players register for this day too try and event out the 4 starting days with players.
The WSOP lets you pre register up to two weeks before the start of each event by either sending a cashiers check or a wire transfer. I find it easiest to send a cashiers check, as all you have to do is go to the bank and get the check and mail it via Expresspost (you get a tracking number and they deliver to P.O. Boxes) with your registration form that you have printed out from WSOP.com I have heard from many players that it is to easy for wire transfers to get messed up. one number could be off and you have to make sure you put extra money in the transfer for any bank fees that may occur that your bank does not know about. Yes there will be an additional bank fee on the WSOP end of things that you do have to pay for when doing a wire transfer. Just send a cashiers check once pre registration opens as it seems easier and I have not had any problems pre registering this way.

How Much Money Can I or Should I Bring?
How much money you should bring, really depends on what you will be doing while you are not playing in WSOP Events. Are you going to other casinos to play some other poker tournaments, or are you going to play cash games all night, or are you going to relax at the pool and drink all day? When it comes to customs you are aloud to bring $10k in cash before having to claim anything on the customs form. Don't worry if you want to bring more then $10k it is still ok, they are not going to take it from you. Being Canadian If you are going bring more then $10k in cash, make sure you find Canadian Customs first before you go to American Customs and let them know and get the proper form to fill out for the American Customs, so there shouldn't be any hassle from them. I do not see why you would need to bring that much cash with you but if you think you need more then $10k, then I would just wire transfer the money to The Rio or Casino of your choice. You should be able to get all the info you need to do this from the casino.

Is There Any Other Good Structured Poker Tournaments?
The simple answers is yes plenty. The Venetian usually runs their Deepstack Extravaganza Events, Caesars Palace runs Mega Stack Events, Binions has their Annual Poker Classic, Golden Nugget has The Grand Series, and Aria has a great structured Daily's at 1pm and 7pm. Also The Rio has Deepstack Events, Mega and Single Table Satellites running around the clock.

What About Food?
Harrahs Casinos used to have a Buffet of the World card you could purchase for $34.99 which gave you access to all their buffets in each of their casinos for 24 hours, but after browsing their web page it does not look like they offer this anymore. I don't find the buffets over priced considering it is all you can eat and they are in Vegas, you also get a $10 food voucher for each WSOP Event you enter. If you want fast food, the prices are pretty close to what we pay at home. I have ate of the steak restaurant at the Luxor, and it was high priced, but well worth it, the food was to die for and the service was amazing, they definitely catered to you.

I Have Pre Registered, Now What?
Once you arrive in Vegas and are checked into your hotel, go to The RIO, you will see signs to point you in the right direction for The WSOP. Go to Will Call and they will have everything you need for your event, including a players card if you don't already have one, your $10 food voucher, and your table and seat number for your event. After you get all this make your way to the Pavilion and Amazon Rooms and find your table for your event, then just take it all in. You will be in awe of how many poker tables are there, check out the final table area, find the closest bathrooms, and just get familiar with the area so you don't feel to lost when it comes time for your event.

I think that just about covers everything coming from a Canadian. I can assure you that going to the WSOP and playing one of their events will be one hell of an experience for you, whether or not you are playing The Main Event. If you are going, have a blast and good luck at the tables and maybe you will be one of the few that brings home a bracelet.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Phil Ivey vs Full Tilt Poker

The World Series of Poker had just started, and the excitement was in the air, but it didn't take long before headlines were made, due to "Black Friday" that happened on Friday April 15, 2011.

The $25k buy in Heads Up WSOP Event got 128 players, but to everyones surprise there was no Phil Ivey in the field. Phil is considered one of the best poker players in the world, and his fans along with his peers were wondering where he was.

As the 1st round of was being played out, it got around that Phil was boycotting The WSOP and suing Full Tilt Poker. This was posted on his facebook page, so there was speculation that this was a fake posting. Finally as the night went on PhilIvey.com was updated with the following,

"For many years, I have been proud to call myself a poker player. This great sport has taken me to places I only imagined going and I have been blessed with much success. It is therefore with deep regret that I believe I am compelled to release the following statement.

I am deeply disappointed and embarrassed that Full Tilt players have not been paid money they are owed. I am equally embarrassed that as a result many players cannot compete in tournaments and have suffered economic harm. I am not playing in the World Series of Poker as I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot. I am doing everything I can to seek a solution to the problem as quickly as possible.

My name and reputation have been dragged through the mud, through the inactivity and indecision of others and on behalf of all poker players I refuse to remain silent any longer. I have electronically filed a lawsuit against Tiltware related to the unsettled player accounts. As I am sure the public can imagine, this was not an easy decision for me.

I wholeheartedly refuse to accept non-action as to repayment of players funds and I am angered that people who have supported me throughout my career have been treated so poorly.

I sincerely hope this statement will ignite those capable of resolving the problems into immediate action and would like to clarify that until a solution is reached that cements the security of all players, both US and International, I will, as I have for the last six weeks, dedicate the entirety of my time and efforts to finding a solution for those who have been wronged by the painfully slow process of repayment."

Now last night Full Tilt Poker responded with,

“Contrary to his sanctimonious public statements, Phil Ivey’s meritless lawsuit is about helping just one player – himself. In an effort to further enrich himself at the expense of others, Mr. Ivey appears to have timed his lawsuit to thwart pending deals with several parties that would put money back in players’ pockets. In fact, Mr. Ivey has been invited -- and has declined -- to take actions that could assist the company in these efforts, including paying back a large sum of money he owes the site. Tiltware doubts Mr. Ivey’s frivolous and self-serving lawsuit will ever get to court. But if it does, the company looks forward to presenting facts demonstrating that Mr. Ivey is putting his own narrow financial interests ahead of the players he professes to help.”

As this years World Series Of Poker plays out it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I should also note that John Juanda a sponsored pro with Full Tilt Poker was verbally threatened during a break in the action of the $25k Heads Up Event, and security was called to deal with the situation.

I really do not know what to think about all this. Everyone Praised Phil Ivey for being the only pro to take a stand, but really, is Ivey suing Full Tilt Poker really going to speed up the process of the U.S. players getting their money? I tend to lean towards no and may in fact make things worse.

Take what you want out of both statements, but either way you look at it, This years WSOP is bound to be filled with rumours, excitement, and bad beats. Feel free to discuss your thoughts in the comment section of this blog post.

You may also want to check out Andrew Robl's Blog about this same topic