I decided to take $5,000 to Atlantic City to enter the에볼루션Event at the brand new Borate. I registered the morning of the tournament, and I was delighted to see an abundance of amateur players in line with me to sign up. “Good,” I thought to myself, “This line-up won’t be so dense with professionals. Maybe I’ll have a chance.”
It looked good when I sat down at my table. There were only 4 players there ahead of me. Two of the players, sitting side by side at seats 7 and 8, were adorned in internet poker website T-shirts, implying that they won their seats online. The player in seat 4 was also unknown to me. TJ Cloutier was sitting at my table, but he was two to my right, so at least I had position on him. Thus I was feeling that I would have a chance to fair well at this table.
But then the nightmare began. A who’s who of professional poker rounded out the competitors. We were ten handed and the seating went as follows. I was in seat 1. Seat 2 was Mark Seif, a prior WPT final table player. Also a very aggressive no limit player. He’s had a great year this year, with four tournament victories. He’s ranked in the top ten overall Card Player rankings this year, and is currently ranked second in no-limit hold-em Next to him in seat 3 was Tony Cousineau, another solid competitor. Seat 4 was not known to me. Seat 5 was Warren Karp, a Cardplayer columnist, who has finished previously in the Card Player top 20. Seat 6 was Chris Bjorn a long time tournament veteran with numerous high-profile tournament finishes. Seat 9 was Phil Ivey, who seems to be a regular finisher on the WPT and he has won $769,000 this year in tournaments. Next to him was TJ, last year’s Player of the Year, and poker author. Finally in seat ten was Mickey Appelman, who won the tournament that I took 5th place in at the WSOP. With 5 players to go, he was in last place with less than 5% of the chips in play in his stack, surprising everybody with a come from nowhere win.
With the line-up before us, other casino en ligne francaisplayers came around and laughed at our unfortunate seat assignments, as today promised to be a challenging day. I looked forward to a chance to play against a high level of competition. I was familiar with every pro at the table, and I liked my chances to compete effectively against this line-up, through I was far from a favorite. I also relished the idea of watching the big names of poker play through the early stages of a tournament. Many of you have seen these players play now on TV, or read accounts of final table play. However final table play is so vastly different than early round play, particularly when we have 10,000 worth of chips and the blinds are 25-50. Thus I thought I should share some of the plays that these heavy hitters make in the early rounds, to give my readers a chance to see the tricks of the trade that these guys employ to get to the late stages of a tournament.
The early going had some very large pots in the very first rounds, despite the relatively small blinds. On the second hand I limped in under the gun with pocket 5’s. Everyone folded to Mickey Appelman who raised it to 500. I decided to call with my small pair, hoping to catch a set and double through. The flop came Q-10-8. Mickey checked. Now I had to think. Based on his play, I had to consider that he had an A-K, and he was concerned that I had hit that flop. I couldn’t imagine that he would give me a free card, if he had a pair. Thus I thought I had the best hand at the moment. If he would have bet, I would have folded. However I also had to consider the possibility of a big hand, with a trap. Thus I decided to take a free card. The turn brought a six. He checked again. This time I felt confident that I was up against an A-K, so I bet 1200. To my surprise he called. I had played about 4 hours against Mickey at the WSOP final table. He raised, but rarely bet out after the flop, if he missed. He regularly raised before the flop and checked it down. His call concerned me, so I planned to stop betting right there, if he checked the river. That is, until the river gave me a 5, for a set. He checked and I bet 2000. This time he folded. This was a good start, lifting me over 11,500 in chips.
I didn’t get many playable hands after that hand for quite some time. Mark Seif and Phil Ivey were battling with regularity. Phil was nearly crippled, when Mark Seif called a raise with an 8-10 suited, and made a flush on the river. Phil was down to about 4000. Mark went on a rampage. He took pocket 4’s into one of the amateurs who held pocket Aces. The amateur in seat 8 bet about 300 before the flop. Mark flopped a four, and they got all of their chips in after the flop, and the man with the Aces was gone. In fact the other two amateurs were also quickly busted out as well.
Mark was the dominating player at the table in the early going, and he was on my left. I kept telling him that I wasn’t even going to mess with him. I surrendered all of my hands to him, when we were heads-up in the blind. I convinced him that I was playing passively against him, but I secretly pushed some marginal hands into him after some of the flops we took together. He generally laid them down. On one hand I raised from mid position with A-7 suited, which is a hand, I hate to get calls with. Mark called, as did two other players. The flop came Q-x-x, and I bet out about 1000. Mark folded what he said was an A-10. I collected a decent sized pot when an Ace came on the turn. I could see the disgust on Marks’ face, as I pulled the pot in.