WSOP 2023 Trip Report Pt 2: 2.5k Freezeout, Bellagio 10/20/40 Cash, and 1K PLO

This is the second part of my trip report for my bracelet events week in my first ever WSOP in 2023. In this post, I’ll write about the $2500 NL Freezeout, the biggest bracelet event I played, as well as some cash game reconnaissance that ended up with me playing 10/20/40 at Bellagio, and a bonus bracelet event, the $1k PLO, that ended up being my best run. We also get to see “the Robbi” win a huge pot right next to Robbi herself.

For those catching up, I’ve never been a pro but I’ve been a diehard enthusiast since the boom. Life’s always gotten in the way of the WSOP but this year I scheduled a week of bracelet events and a week for the main event. This is part 2 of the bracelet week trip report.

Thanks as always for the upvotes and kind comments. After this, I’m going to go back to grinding strategy articles with a focus on THE BIG ONE in a few weeks so more tournament strategy.

2.5k Freezeout

After busting in the 6-max, I was eager to take another shot. The 2.5k freezeout didn’t start until noon, so while I tend to late register, I figured since this was my biggest bracelet event and it started late, I’ll just play it on time. So I only missed a bit of level 1.

I pick up QQ early and open from LP, SB 3-bets me, I flop top set, let him barrel flop and turn, and then I raise turn and take it down. So this one is off to a better start, but I’m quickly grabbed and moved to a new table.

After being constantly shuffled around in the 6-handed tournament, in this tournament I end up staying at this new table for a long time and get to know plenty of my opponents.

To my left is a woman who I will call, “Nice Old Lady” (NOL), she looks to be in her 50s or even 60s. My read on her is that she’s a recreational but the type that plays a lot of poker and has a reasonable strategy but is a tad softer than the pros. She and I end up chatting quite a bit in this tournament.

To my right is a guy I will call, “Russian Pro”, he had a lot of chips when I arrived and seems comfortable. I did some research and figured out that he got 2nd in 10k 6-max a few years back with a bunch of other tournament earnings, so I’m assuming he is a pro player. I also catch him after every hand writing in Apple Notes the details of the hands he just played. I wasn’t trying to snoop, I just saw it a few times.

To the left of “Nice Old Lady” is a young kid I will call “French Young Gun”, he’s wearing some badge with some poker brand on it.

To the right of Russian pro is another young looking kid who looks a bit nerdy and doesn’t say a word, I will call him “Shy Guy”.

Right next to my table I see Robbie Jade Lew herself at the table over. This ends up being relevant later in the story, but for the most part she was very quiet and was just grinding the whole time. I also see Maria Konnikova at another nearby table, and Adrian Mateos walk by who’s in the field as well.

Early at this new table I pick up KJs on the button, I open and French Young Gun 3-bets me. I don’t have a good feeling about this but KJs feels too strong to fold so I take a flop. Flop is QJT, great board for him. He bets small, I call. Board bricks out and we check it down, he ends up having KK and I was surprised he didn’t play it more aggressively.

I pick up AKo and 3bet Shy Guy MP vs EP, he flats and flop is 976cc. Much better board for him but I’m dumb and bet small anyway and fold to a x/r. Bad bet by me given our ranges especially because I had the Ace of clubs.

Shy Guy also played an interesting pot where it was checked down to the river multiway and he overbet river. I really need to study overbets as they are very popular at both tournaments and cash games at the WSOP.

Not long after, I’m in HJ and there’s an open and a flatter in front of me. I flat with pocket fives, then nice old lady 4xes the open, and everyone folds. There’s a lot of dead money in the pot, plenty of chips behind to double up with, and something about her sizing and her vibe is telling me this woman has a monster so I set mine and take a flop. Flop is K high and she snap shoves, I fold and she turns over KK for top set. While I miss my own set , I am feeling like my reads are ballpark correct and if I get lucky and hit my set there, I often double up. Though I bust if we both hit our sets.

Russian pro watches the hand then chuckles to me, “77 missed your set, huh?” Wrong exact hand but he had the right idea.

Now between losing a few hands I am under starting stack again and getting a bit short, a frequent feeling in this series.

I pick up AQo in MP, EP opens, I have about 40BB so I could 3bet, but it feels a little unnecessary so I just take a flop along with the BB. Flop is KQ8, it checks through. Turn is a T and BB barrels big, I’m thinking this guy just has a J and is betting his open-ender, so I call. River is a brick, he tanks for quite a bit, not sure what I do if he bets big again, but he gives up and mucks.

Nice Old Lady comments that AQ is her most hated hand. We end up chatting a bit about our lives, careers, etc. You would think this would be a distraction for me but I actually felt simultaneously very talkatative, but more on-point with my reads than at any other point in the week.

Some reporter pulls French Young Gun off the table, and he’s getting his picture taken with another young French kid. Nice Old Lady looks up the name of the brand on his badge but it’s all in French. I note that there’s a little irony that French Young Gun flew all the way from France to play at a place called Paris.

Russian pro raises and I flat with the KThh, flop is Ah6h2c, he bets and I raise my nut flush draw and he folds, so I got one semi-bluff through and stop the bleeding.

I do zone out for a bit but then notice a few hands later that Russian Pro had opened UTG and is against the BB. At showdown, he shows the J4dd that made a river flush for a pretty big pot. He immediately pulls out his phone to record a video of the board, then spins the phone over to Robbie Jade Lew , presumably for an Instagram story or something. Robbi gives a polite chuckle.

I think this is pretty funny, its a 2.5k bracelet event so opening J4 UTG is pretty ballsy, even with the suit, and funny it went on to win a huge hand. This is truly something you will only see in live poker and made the event memorable and special.

We go on a break, I notice Shy Guy playing Tears of the Kingdom on his Switch during the break.

I’m way too excited to be playing in the WSOP so after some pizza I wander around with my mind somewhere in space. I have the break timer on my phone so with a minute left I follow all the players back to the tables, until I realize I followed people back to Horseshoe and not Paris, the wrong side of the building. So I sprint like a maniac back to Paris and barely get back just in time.

The very first hand there’s a raise, a flat, then Russian pro 3-bets. Then French young gun in the SB cold 4-bets! Russian Pro laughs and says, “really? first hand after break? Ok, I’m all in”. French Young Gun almost seems to blush a bit and snap folds. It’s funny how Russian Pro seemed to have a little read on what was going on there.

I pick up K3hh in the BB, EP opens and BTN calls. I flop a flush draw, I check, EP checks, BTN bets, I decide I’m just bleeding too much so just jam my flush draw and it gets through.

Nice Old Lady flops a set and doubles up and starts to run up a stack. There’s a new guy at the table and she runs some weird bluff against him, he seems like a calling station and he vindicates that read by calling her down super light. Perhaps maybe he had a read though as her bluff was suspicious, but while she gave back some of her big stack in that hand she still has plenty of chips.

A few times in a row I get suited aces in the SB with my favorite suit to bluff with. I rejam these hands so A8s and A5s took down the blinds plus the open.

French Young Guy isn’t as lucky, he gets all in and busts, and says “good game” but you can tell he’s a bit disappointed.

Shy Guy is gone not long soon after. As he busts, I say “At least you have Tears of the Kingdom to play”. He looks confused and tries to speak back but is clearly struggling with English. Now I’m worried my comment came off as “Nice bustout, go back to ZELDA YOU NERD” when really I was trying to make small talk over a good game.

Stealing those opens with the suited ace rejams helped me not get desperate, but I’m still barely staying afloat. The problem is every single time I’m in the BB, the Russian Pro in the SB raises me. I had J7o once and he raised, I tell him “if it was suited, I’d in there with you”.

Next orbit, I look down at K2o and he raises again. I fold again, he says “offsuit again?” and I tell him “actually yes”.

I have about 26k chips which is down 9k from the starting stack, and the BB is now 2k so I have about 13BB. Folds yet again to Russian pro, he hesitates for a moment then open jams. I look down at K5s. After playing solid all day, K5s isn’t my ideal hand to call off for my tournament life. But I know that the math probably has it as a marginal call, plus he hesitated more than I’d expect him to, plus he might think I’m overfolding since I’ve surrendered my BB to him at least 3 times in a row.

So, with a smile, I say , “I gotta call you, this time I am suited” and push my chips in. He has QJo which makes sense. He can’t find his face cards and I end up doubling up with a pair of fives. Now I have about 50k chips which is 25BB, finally back over starting stack, hooray!

I mentioned in my last post not seeing any “super OGs” so far. Well, who walks by as a late registrant but the Poker Brat himself, Phil Hellmuth. We have a seat open, will he be joining us?

Instead, Ryan Reiss comes and sit down. I say “boooo, we wanted Hellmuth, wrong Main Event champ”. Ryan gives a polite smirk but then is engrossed with his phone.

I pick up ATo in the CO, Russian pro opens, I call and flop top two. He leads again, I could call but since I raised in an earlier spot, I try the same thing, and I raise, and he folds. But he comments that I keep raising him on flops in position - I’m happy he’s a bit confused.

Now there’s about 600 left of 2000 entries with 300 paying. Russian pro raises again and I look down at QQ. I have 50k which is now about 25BB. I could get tricky but I decide to keep my life super simple and just jam. The same guy who picked off Nice Old Lady is in the SB and tanks for a bit. He seems on the looser side and is tanking so that’s a great sign. Finally, he pushes out a call and everyone else folds.

He flips over AQ of hearts. I think he’s calling a bit too light, my most common hand here is AK, but I’m happy to get the action. I have him semi-dominated. I just need to avoid an Ace or too many hearts.

I see a heart in the door card and another one behind it but the third card is a club. Always a sweat. Unfortunately this was not a fun sweat as he spikes a black Ace on the turn, leaving me a single out that I could not find.

So I’m busto, pretty sad myself because I thought my reads were on point, and I got in as a favorite for a 3x starting stack pot and 50BB which would probably have made me a favorite to cash the tournament. So I’m a little bummed out.

I walk outside to the Strip, two pretty showgirls approach me in bikinis and angel wings, one of them says “Hey papa, want a picture with us?” A pair of ladies has gotten me in enough trouble for the night so I say “no thanks” and keep walking.

I head home and go to sleep, knowing my bracelet run has come to a disappointing finish.

Cash Game Recon & Bellagio 10/20/40

I wake up the next day and get some breakfast, still a little bummed about the freezeout, Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” is playing on the hotel radio which feels appropriate.

My next mission the next day was to scope out the WSOP cash games. I was interested in what they were like because I’ve heard they’re amazing with every donk in town, but also they’re terrible with so many pros in town.

The WSOP itself has a cash game area called the “King’s Room”, however big NLH games don’t seem to run as frequently as you’d expect. They get 5/10 NLH going but only occasionally get 10/25 going. They are usually running big PLO games , nosebleed mixed games, and surprisingly even some mid-high stakes (50/100 limit) Omaha8 / Stud8.

I wouldn’t mind donking away at those but I really want to scope out the NLH cash scene.

I do walk down to Aria, biggest NLHE game they are running is 5/10 with no straddle. So I walk over to Bellagio. I ask if they’re running 10/20 and they give me a seat right away at a new table. It is 4-handed though, which I’m not thrilled about both because it’s swingier but also players willing to play 4-handed tend to be stronger. But I figure it’ll fill up.

The 10/20 game at the Bellagio has a $20 BB ante which I thought was interesting. I’m in big favor of the BB ante in cash games since I hate people guilting people about VPIP or playing nitty, I’d rather just change the game structure to incentivize action instead of shaming people.

I glance over to Bobby’s Room and who else is there but Patrik Antonius himself grinding the big mixed games.

My opponents seem very reggy, one of them admits to being an LA pro. They are all doing a $40 straddle, I apologize and say I’m willing to do a straddle once it’s full ring but short-handed is too swingy for me. They profusely assure me that I don’t have to apologize, that the straddle is optional, so big respect to them for not guilting me over it. In my home region, straddles are always “mandatory” (which is fine to me since it basically just becomes the third blind you expect) , but then you get people re-straddling then big arguments about who’s re-straddling and who’s not so it was nice to not experience that.

I bought in for $2k so with the straddle I’m at 50BB, which I’m happy about since I feel very confident at that stack depth. If I had to pick a single biggest poker misconception it’s that so many people think a big stack at cash is an advantage when in reality the short stack has a big advantage, since heads up it doesn’t matter but multiway you can put big stacks in weird spots.

The other thing they’re doing is a flop rake game, it’s a time game but whoever draws the wrong card pays the time rake for everyone ($10 every half an hour). This person also does a $20 “pre-tip” which I suppose stops players from constantly chopping up $5 chips for smaller tips. I lose the first game, since it’s only 4-handed it’s $60. Then the table fills up and I lose the second one for $100. Then I don’t lose the third one but I lose the fourth one. So I run incredibly bad at this game and lose almost $300 just from the rake game.

The table was full of reg-types, however, I still think there’s enough overall weakness that it’s still beatable for a strong player with good technical and mental discipline. It’s definitely tougher than average live game with a lot of preflop 3-betting and 4-betting, tricky overbets etc. So I don’t want to make it sound like it’s a soft game. However, there were still technically questionable plays but more importantly some massive punts. If I only see a guy play 10 hands and he does something insane, it’s possible he’s actually the best player in the world and this was his one misread. But on average, if I see you jam for $5k with 22 on a KQ874 board and run into AA, I’m going to say you probably punted. And I saw more than one plays I would consider huge punts.

I make a top set with 88 with two spades on board. I check, opener bets about 300 into 400, other guy flats, I jam my 2k in. The opener calls me with just the A2s nut flush draw, other guy throws away two spades. I am 75% to win a 4.5k pot, we run it twice and he hits it the first time and I make quads the second time. He complains that we ran it twice , I’m thinking he made a slightly bad call and should be happy we chopped it.

In another hand, I get KQs in the BB, EP opens, HJ flats, BTN flats, I could squeeze but just take a flop. Flop comes AT8 not my suit. Checks to BTN who looks like the most recreational player at the table, he bets about half pot and I call with my gutshot. Turn is a T, I figure it’s a pretty good card for me to bluff at so I donk lead about 2/3 pot. He rolls his eye, shows his neighbor his hand, and folds.

I think about showing the bluff but change my mind, but he sees me start to flash my card and starts shouting he deserves to see it. This actually isn’t a rule but I don’t care that much and I figure showing a bluff might be good for the game and tilt him. He sees the bluff - then, a moment later, racks up and leaves!

Not sure if he left because of the bluff or it was a coincidence, but my plan to tilt him seemed to backfire and chased him away instead.

I win some money in that hand, but for some reason, over and over again I end up in spots where I open some ok hand preflop, flop middle pair or Ace high, bet small flop, check back turn, then face a river overbet. I just fold it every time, but I do need to spend more time understanding overbet strategies.

Even though I felt like my live reads were on fire during the freezeout, now I feel like they’re totally off. I’m mentally checked out still feeling bummed at how my bracelet event ended. I was flying back Saturday morning, so the Wednesday tournament was the last one that made sense. But I check the schedule again and see that the 1K PLO is starting, and only the final 5 advance to the third day. I figure if I’m top 5 in a bracelet event, I can change my flights and bribe someone to watch my dog for a night.

Even though I feel confident in the Bellagio 10/20 game, I didn’t put my dog in the kennel and fly to Vegas so that I could try to make rent money. I flew in cause I wanted to win a bracelet. So, I rack up, I’m stuck about $200 after 3 quick hours, basically break even other than running bad at flop rake game.

I do ask the dealer if I come back later how likely I will get a seat, he tells me probably not. That’s ok since if I bust PLO fast I can always show up early and play cash on Friday.

One final note about the Vegas cash games is that the Bravo poker app is mostly accurate so if you just download that and search Vegas rooms it’ll give you an idea of what’s running and how long the lists are.


I try to dramatically storm from Bellagio to Paris , in my head this could be my big redemption tournament. It’s right across the street but it turns out to be a maze of bridges and dead ends to get there which killed my thunder a bit. I’m thinking about Shaun Deeb 3-betting KT99, and that I’m going to try to be more aggro and less nitty in this tournament. The hotel radio has the song “Patience Gets Us Nowhere Fast” which again felt appropriate.

I register around 4pm which is 4 hours into the tournament. I’m mentally ready to go big, or go back to cash games. Starting stack is only 20k chips, first hand I get KK98 with a suited nine, HJ opens, I 3bet from the CO, he calls. Flop comes down J high with a 9 high flush draw, he checks, I pot all-in, he calls me with top pair and a smaller flush draw. The flush gets there on the turn and mine is bigger so I win.

Double up first hand! What an epic start, I’m starting to feel like I saw all the signs to play this thing and this might be my tournament.

The guy across the table from me looks super familiar. As I’ve said, I watched way too much PokerGo. I finally realized its Jungleman’s opponent in the 50k PPC, Ryan Leng, who folded to half a big bet on Jungle’s value river raise, which would have busted Jungle in third, and Jungle went on to win it. I also remember him running a pretty interesting 2-7 TD bluff where he got Eli Elezra to break a better hand.

Yes, I watch too much poker however in 2021 I had a new baby at home. I was going to play my first WSOP that year but the baby canceled the plans. So instead I binged PokerGo, and, if you’re going to watch any mixed games tournaments, Jungleman dressed as Goku playing 9-game is probably the best possible choice. It’s not many other tournaments where you see truly crazy limit hold’em or limit 2-7 TD hands either.

I get dealt J987 with a suit, I raise it up and the tournament chip leader flats me. I flop a big wrap and a flush draw, I pot, he re-pots me with top set, I call it off. I hit my wrap on the turn, chipleader doesn’t notice and literally picks up my whole stack and moves it into his own! I have to stop the hand, point out my straight, get my chips back plus the double up.

Not long after I get 7654, I raise late position, flop two pair and get it in vs a flush draw and fill up and win even more chips.

The PokerNews reporter comes and gets his name because he’s chipleader of the tournament - and I’m right behind him with a huge stack of my own! I’m top 5 in chips in the tournament! So far this is the hottest I’ve run all week by a long shot.

Another familiar face joins the table, looks super familiar, finally I figure out its Benny Glaser. He notices some of the cards are marked and wants a new setup and an investigation. Floor tells us that the dealer should check every mucked hand and if anyone marks any cards they’ll get a 2-orbit penalty and then a DQ. Benny then asks if he can be exempt since he just joined the table. Floor tells him no - I don’t think there was malicious intent here, but it would have felt very unfair for him to join a new table then freeroll us on penalty watch so I’m glad it was shot down.

In one interesting hand I raise from HJ vs Ryan Leng in the BB with AQT3. Flop is KJ4hh so I have a 13 out broadway wrap. He checks, I bet flop he calls. Turn is a third heart and he lead out super small. This is a super awkward spot for me, of course with my 13 straight outs I would love to see a river, but if he has a made flush I’m drawing stone dead. So I fold to something like a 10% pot bet, good bet by him though I think I have flushes and sets to defend with here instead. He talks about how he’s running spots in solvers upstairs during break which I was surprised to hear a pro say out loud at the table.

I asked him about the small donk bet, he said he did it for “a very specific reason”. I’m guessing given the solver talk it was probably a technical reason, but I do get paranoid I gave off a live tell so take a mental note to myself to be more careful about tells and avoid looking at the board until it’s my turn to act against these live pros.

There is a black guy at the table who’s super chatty with chipleader. He is mumbling something super quietly, I think something along the lines of he’s a former NFL coach. They are getting along well, but then chipleader is asked to help the tournament with the color up. He goes “everyone sell me their blacks, I will give you fair value for them”. Black guy goes, “why the hell are you phrasing it like that? Sell me your blacks for fair value? How about your black CHIPS! What the hell!”. Chip leader looks completely stunned for a second before the black guy busts out laughing in his face, clearly just messing with him.

At one points I raise QQT3 with a suited Queen in MP, BB 3-bets all-in for almost exactly pot, I fold, but then looking at some calculators later realizing this is a stupid fold, I’m too afraid of bigger pairs at these stack depths when I still have plenty of equity. In my defense, these WSOP events are my first PLO tournaments, I’ve only played cash games where you pretty much can just nut-peddle your way to victory and avoid coolers.

I also think I have “protect my chips” tilt which is really bad in these tournaments and an area of mental game I need to work on, exemplified even worse later in the night.

Now, for the most pivotal hand of the series and the hand I felt the luckiest on. I had AK86 with suited Ace, I limp in MP trying out this limp strategy and BB checks. Flop comes down Q73dd so I have nut flush draw. Starting stack was 20k and I now have 170k so I have a pretty big stack I ran up in my heater, but BB has me covered. I bet my nut flush draw, he re-pots me. I’m not feeling good about this at all but we still have plenty of chips behind so I figure I can peel a turn. Turn is an offsuit 5 - giving me an open-ender. He pots me all-in.

I just don’t see how I can fold a nut flush draw and open-ender in a huge pot for a pot sized bet. I know I’m a dog, but I also know against a set it’s about exactly the right price and if he has anything worse it’s a snap-call. But I had this whole narrative in my head about how this was going to be my tournament, I left Bellagio cash to play this cause I had a feeling, I played super aggro and it paid off in the biggest heater of my series, but now all that goes away and is meaningless unless I hit a river card as a big dog. So I’m feeling a little sick but I call it off.

River is a 9 , it completes a backdoor spade draw which fortunately he doesn’t have, he just had Q7 for flopped top two and I take down a massive pot with a straight. If I’m not tournament chip leader now I’m close to it. After that I get moved tables.

After break, my new table has a guy to my right who looks and sounds European, and I will call him “Ice Cold” because he just seemed to have this super detached attitude that made him intimidating to play against. Like some guys do that stone cold poker face, but you can tell they’re trying to remain cool and hard to read, which is very different than a guy who it seems like their natural state to be emotionally indifferent.

Early, Ice Cold raises from the CO and I 3-bet with AKJx on the BTN, following through with my “play more aggro” strategy. He calls, I flop nothing on a T55 board but bet half pot anyway, he calls. I check back turn and he snap-pots river. Not sure if he was going for value against my AA or trying to bluff my AA but either way I had A high so didn’t matter.

I mentioned not seeing super OGs at this series but I listen and hear an instantly recognizable Canadian voice. Its DNegs himself! He is at the table next to me. He seems focused on his table, I don’t want to be “that guy” so I just grab a selfie with him in the background.

This tournament was absurdly tough for a 1k. DNegs, Eli Elezra, David Williams, Josh Arieh, JNandez, Dylan Weissman etc. I am realizing the bracelet events are terrible value from a financial perspective since I don’t think you’d ever see this many crushers in a regular 1k.

I again try to bluff Ice Cold off some hand and he calls me down with a Q high flush. So now my aggro play is backfiring and he has a monster stack himself.

Ice Cold himself has a crazy rollercoaster, he’s much happier to stack off with hands like QQ with a suit then I am, he wins huge pots and loses some big ones. I do realize that running up a stack is great in any tournament, but in PLO it’s especially helpful since there are so many places you want to stack off and realize equity, it’s a big advantage if they risk elimination and you don’t. So another lesson I should loosen up a bit in PLO tournaments.

The bubble comes and I nit it up. I know you’re supposed to play aggro on the bubble to take advantage of nits but given the emotional rollercoaster that was this tournament, given its my last one, given I can easily fold into the money with plenty of chips to spare, I pretty much just fold into the money. I didn’t really see any tempting hands along the way anyway.

Not long after the money, I pick up AA98ds . A truly gorgeous hand to a PLO player. Ice Cold raises, I 3-bet, SB jams, BB jams, Ice Cold Jams ,I call! 4-way all-in!

Flop is T98r, SB has the J9 and BB has the QJ. River is the 8 and I make 8’s full for a double up and double knockout! Heater is back on the menu! Ice Cold says “nice hand”, but again, not in that frustrated tone but in a totally indifferent tone like he doesn’t care at all but just wants to remain polite. I really admire that guy’s composure.

PLO win

There’s a guy at the table who constantly says that he’s a recreational, he’s ready to go home, someone send him home. He’s having a good time though. We end up in a multiway pot where I had bottom pair and an open-ender but miss. The pot is something like 80k and I try a cheeky 20k bluff. The reason I try this is because so many times I have some small value on the river and gets fold in these spots, so I try the “this is never a bluff” bluff. Stone cold asian guy across the table tanks for a long time, I later research he has a 25k PLO bracelet, he eventually calls.

Recreational guy snap folds behind him, I turn over my bluff, Asian guy turns over KK for just an overpair, recreational guy snaps his head back and screams into the air **“I am SO ****bad at this game!”

Now it’s past 1AM, and we still have another full 40 minute level. I am getting tired and just want to head to day 2. I am glad I late registered but I did wear myself out at the Bellagio.

So here’s the worst hand I played all week, I am still kicking myself. Ice Cold raises from the CO, I have AAQ4 double suited and I….just call. I have a premium hand, we’re about 50BB deep, really I should just pure raise this hand but I thought I was balancing my flatting range and maybe trapping the blinds if they squeeze but they don’t.

The flop gives me the nut flush draw and the backdoor nut flush draw. He checks and….I check. Just a choke on my part here. At the time, I was thinking I just have one pair, and if the flush arrives I’ll have a sneaky trap hand, so no reason to stack off against a set. Which I suppose has some merit, but really, I think I should just always be potting this board. It was especially dumb against a guy I tried and failed to bluff all night.

Turn gives me the other nut flush draw, he leads for about 2/3 pot and I just call. I’m less confident that this call was a mistake given only one card to come, but again with a double nut flush draw, probably can just raise.

On the river I brick out, there’s four to a straight with all low cards. He checks, I check. He shows KK so I win the pot with Aces. Now, given how this guy played all night, there’s no way he’s folding to a 3-bet preflop with KK. And once I start building that pot, he might fold KK as an overpair on the flop but he might go with it as well. So it’s very possible I missed a massive amount of value in this hand.

It’s easy to say “oh, I won the hand, be happy with that” but you have to get value where you can in these tournaments, it’s “extra lives” if you chip up. So I really regret how I played this hand.

I think the simple explanation is that I wanted to make Day 2. We were already in the money, so there was no reason to care about making Day 2. In fact, busting end of Day 1 is a bit better than busting beginning of Day 2 since I could make sure I could lock up a cash game seat. But I think psychologically I wanted to say “Hey, I made a WSOP Day 2” so I made some mental game errors playing too passively at the very end of Day 1.

Also, playing until 2AM has given me respect for how much of a grinder guys like DNegs are, it was tiring, and we had a noon restart.

I make a similar mental game error a bit later. A new guy joins the table, he’s an Indian guy but is convince he recognizes me. It folds to us in the blinds and he goes “it’s the end of the night let’s just check it down”. Everyone at the table yells angrily at him saying it’s collusion. I end up flopping nothing and check and he checks. On the turn, I pick up a straight draw with my baby cards. I probably should bet it but I know this guy is going to give me a free cards so I check and he checks. River I brick out and I check something like 8 high, he checks and wins with like T high.

In retrospect, this guy literally told me he was passive and scared going into the night, I had a high equity hand and a perfect opportunity to steal a pot and I passed it up.

So it’s the very last hand of the night and I get 8865 with three clubs. Mad at myself for being too passive so I raise BTN and BB defends. Flop is 732 all clubs. So I flop an eight high flush, BB checks and I check back. Turn is the 4 of clubs. He checks, I check my hand a few times to make sure I have a straight flush, and that there’s no bigger straight flush I could get coolered by. I have it, I bet, he folds.

I turn over my hand, I had the nut seven card straight flush . This was my last hand of the night and perfectly captured the crazy heater of a day I had.

1K PLO - Day 2

Unfortunately I fall hard for the “it’s the WSOP” mentality and my mind is racing INCREDIBLY FAST. 2100 entries and I’m in the final 100, Day 2 with DNegs and Josh Arieh and Dylan Weissman and JNandez and Eli Elezra! I already finished in the top 5%, one more heater and I’m final tabling this thing! I have 30BB which is an average stack and plenty to play with.

The end result is that I don’t sleep at all. Tournament ends around 2AM, I go back to my hotel, lay in bed with the lights off, and tell myself that as long as my eyes are closed and I’m in bed in the dark, I will get some rest. But my mind is spinning way too fast to get a wink of sleep.

I went to bed at 2:30AM, feel like I was lying there for 15 minutes with my mind racing loud and fast, and I look over and it’s 7:30AM and the sun is peeking in from the curtains. I finally close all the blinds and manage to fall asleep for about an hour. I also had placed a wake up call to my hotel which they never actually make, but it doesn’t matter since I’m wide awake again around 8:30AM, grateful that I got at least a small nap.

I head back to the Paris, I see Main Event Champ Espen Jorstad walk by, I’m hoping that’s an auspicious sign of my own championship run. I walk over to Horseshoe but can’t find my table - it’s in a different room!

This is the fancy room, when you see the WSOP on TV, this room looks like that that. Primetime! All the main event champs are hung up around the wall. DNegs buzzes by so I know I’m in the right place.

Despite getting almost no sleep, I’m completely zoned in. research my table on Hendon, looks like all pros or hardcore recs with most guys having 1M+ in winnings. One guy at the table I will call Grizzled Pro is talking about private games with another pros whos face frequently comes up on the tourney circuit.

They were talking about swings of $50k+ in private cash games. I’m amazed my mind was racing all night about this bracelet event while they just went and played cash games that were so big, the tournament itself is mostly meaningless unless you straight up win it. I’m also feeling better about losing $200 to Bellagio rake and not $50k in a private game.

Despite my focus I’m still feeling nervous so I don’t get out of line with any hands and get blinded down. I have about 25BB when I pick up 9865ds in EP. I raise, and Grizzled Pro 3-bets me from BTN. I could just jam this hand, I think to myself, but I decide I want to see the flop with it so I put about 1/3 my remaining stack in the middle and call.

Flop comes down AT7 with two spades, I have no spade. I check and double check my hand and confirm I have a big wrap. Not only do I have 13 outs to a straight, I also have re-draws to two 17-out wraps and even the legendary 20-out wrap if a 4 spikes on the turn. I only have one pot-sized bet left so don’t see how I can fold. I feel like this guy probably has top set, but I’m still priced in against top set and even ahead of top two pair. If he does have something like KK or just top pair, I’m ahead but benefit a lot from a fold so I just lead out for pot.

He snap calls and says “I assume you have a wrap?” Given the action I’m sure it was a likely hand but I probably really made it obvious by checking and re-checking my hand. He does have top set.

The turn comes an Eight. I made the Six to Nine straight, and I’m 80% to double up! Is this the start of the day 2 heater? Is this my tournament to win? The first Eight was a dream card, but the second Eight on the river was a dream-killing card because he filled up and made Aces full of Eights. I’m busto.

In a way it was a nice hand to bust on because I don’t think it could have ever played any differently than it did. I can’t fold a massive wrap for pot, he can’t fold top set. He also had me covered by quite a bit so even if I had chipped up I’m probably still busto.

Still, it’s hard not to look back at me playing double suited Aces too passively at the end of day 1 and wonder- if I get full value there am I left with 1 BB instead of busting? Because we all know 1BB is all you need to win a poker tournament.

I’m less concerned with torturing myself for mistakes and instead I’m going to take it as a lesson in improving my mental game before the main event. I definitely think I have mental game leaks around playing too tight after I run it up, playing way too tight close to tournament breaks or end of days, and not having a good routine to calm my mind and get enough sleep between tournament days. So those are areas I’ll look to improve upon. I think one night of missing sleep would have been ok due to adrenaline, but across multiple days it will certainly wreck me.

I go cash out and this time they don’t ask for a tip. Dnegs was right ahead of me leaving, and Josh Arieh was right behind me in the cash out line. I ask if he’s going to play 10k limit, he says yes though looks like he’s wondering why this rando is talking to him. Well, maybe I was good luck because he won the 10k limit.

This year, I decided not to play PLO anymore at my local room because I wanted to focus more on improving at one game. I always enjoyed PLO, but I only played it at the WSOP because each tournament made the most sense given my schedule. And then it turns out it’s the only events I cash, and now I have a 100% ITM rate at live PLO tournaments since this was my first time playing any. Granted, I attribute that almost entire to running much better at PLO than I did at NLHE, but still, it’s hard to go 2 for 2 ITM at PLO tournaments and not want to try another one.

On the downside for the trip, I’m stuck about 2k in tournaments, 300 in cash, plus hotels, flights, and dog boarding. On the plus side, I had a 50% ITM rate. I made a Day 2 and was maybe a flip away from laddering up to a profitable week. I played against some objectively top pros and held my own. I ran some bluffs that worked, some bluffs that failed, I sucked out on, and got sucked out on, I got lucky in some huge pots, and got unlucky in some huge pots. I got to rub shoulders with pretty much everyone who’s anyone in poker, enjoyed a lot funny moments you’ll only experience at a live game, and got to realize a dream of at least playing in this damn tournament series after decades of wanting to get out there and give it a shot.

The good news is, the shot isn’t fully over. Got one more left on the schedule, and it’ll be the biggest buyin tournament I’ve ever played. The 10k World Championship. So stay tuned for that trip report!

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