It’s hard not to get excited for the World Series of Poker (WSOP). Not only is it the game’s grandest stage, but there’s also life-changing money up for grabs in nearly every single event. I learned the hard way at my first WSOP that, despite all of the hype, fanfare, and festivity surrounding each and every day, they’re just single tournaments.
As an online player, I’m accustomed to days on which I play 15 to 20 tournaments without a single cash, let alone a win. But for some reason, at the WSOP, it’s devastating to bust one tournament. Most players won’t play anywhere close to 15 events, yet they’ll still be disappointed if they don’t win a bracelet. The reality is, most players who show up in Las Vegas are going to go home empty-handed.
I’m not trying to argue against bringing a positive attitude to Las Vegas. To the contrary, being confident in your abilities at the table is a must if you want to have any kind of success. However, in poker, performing your best and expecting to win are two very different things.
With my past WSOP experiences in mind, I entered Event #13 of the WSOP, a $1,000 No Limit Hold’em tournament, with only one goal: to play my A-game and not worry about the results. To say that I had a boring day would be a gross understatement. The most interesting aspect of my tournament was the fact that I played at three different tables in less than three hours. If it had been an online tournament, I wouldn’t have even given it a second thought; it was just one of those ones where you get no hands, play very few pots, and then bust.
The poor showing aside, I thought I played my best game with what little was given to me. My only hands over the course of three levels were A-Q once and 8-8 twice. Beyond that, I didn’t even have the chance to open any suited connectors or hands that flop well in position.
In the hand that crippled me, a young player opened under the gun to 125 at 25-50 blinds. I was sitting on 3,000 in chips at the time and looked down at black eights in middle position, so I decided to just call. It folded around to the small blind – an obvious internet player who had a short stack and had been splashing a lot – who moved all-in for 1,400 total. When the original raiser folded without much thought, I quickly called, and the jammer tabled A-J offsuit. After a Q-6-Q flop, the dealer dropped the Jh on the turn and I couldn’t recover.
The race occurred on the last hand before break and when we came back, the blinds were up to 50-100. I folded through two orbits without finding a good spot to shove and then, with 50 posted in the small blind and 1,250 in my stack, it folded to me with Kh-2h. The spot is a trivial shove, and I wasn’t going to let the WSOP or a $1,000 buy-in change my play, so I put my stack in the middle. The big blind ended up calling with Ah-Th and making a boat and that was all she wrote for me in Event #13.
I could whine and complain about how unlucky I was to be card-dead in such a big event, but that wouldn’t do me any good. It was just another tournament that came and went – such is the life of an MTT grinder. The annual WSOP is no different. My plan for the next event I play is the same: play to the best of my ability and hope to run good!