1st blog of the new year…. Unfortunately I have nothing good to report. I wrapped up 2011 with a blog that featured my highlights from the year and my passion for the game. I talked about the things I wanted to accomplish this year, listed specific goals, and even made promises to work hard and win. Fueled with optimism, I was eager to get back to the table and start the year right. I was ready to play a tourney everyday and crush it just like I did in 2011. I knew I was gonna get off to a fast start.
Not so much. I went to LA and played the WSOPC at the Bike. I think I played 11 events; I came within 10 places of the money 6 of those times and did not cash once. I got 20th place in the $1080 event that paid 18, after losing AK to A8 on what was basically the stone bubble, and having the guy fist pump in my face after binking a lucky 8. I also bricked the Main Event twice. It was really hard to deal with bc I knew I was playing well and doing everything in my power (which isn’t much in poker in the short term) to win. I put myself in a position to go deep several times but the deck never cooperated with me. It was arguably the worst I have ever run in a 2 week span. Me and my friend Eli rented a car (Mustang convertible- Omar if you are reading this…) and stayed at White Brian’s condo in Venice Beach for a few days. Then we flew to Atlantic City for the Borgota Winter Open, so I could get back to winning. I knew my days of running bad were over.
Not so much. Another 11 tournaments, another 5 finishes within 10 places of the money, which included a stone bubble in the $1090 event (sound familiar?). I went out in 28th place when my KK lost to AA on the bubble while play was hand for hand, in a hand that took 7 minutes bc the third guy in the hand eventually folded QQ, with the entire tournament surrounding our table to see if they will make the money or not, add another 30-40 spectators and the fact we all had stacks, it equals one of the most tilting bustouts I have ever gone thru. I shook his hand and said good game then walked away to let the other 27 players enjoy their money in peace. The one positive thing was that none of the players celebrated when I busted and none of the spectators on the rail made any noise either, out of respect for me as a player. Usually all these mops cheer, hoot and holler when the money bubble bursts. Not this time though, so I appreciated that, but it still really stung. I kept fighting and playing well the subsequent days but was rudely met by a couple of 3 outers, a rivered straight, and half a dozen lost coin flips in a row. Oh wait, I did miss a nut flush draw in the 2k bounty tourney so that one is on me. I played day 1A of the Main Event today. A $3500 which is over 4x my average buyin, I really needed to do well…but, I got it in KK vs AA, 15 minutes into the tournament to bust. I have been beating myself up all day bc I know I should have folded. I am really hard on myself though, it is kings to aces after all so whatever. Still, it’s just demoralizing.
The Chicago area had a champions battle during the Windy City Poker Championship in mid December as one World Series of Poker champion, two World Poker Tour champions and four Heartland Poker Tour champions were in attendance.
Colorful high-stakes amateur Rick Rahim (made famous from his stint on Fox’s the Big Game) was there along with fellow Big Game Loose Cannon Nadya Magnus. Rahim flew in a soldier from the East Coast who fought in the Iraq war.
“The WCPC tournaments are unique, giving local players a chance to battle it out with the top players in the world,” said Dick Carlson, playing in his third WCPC event.
Amanda Musumeci and Jamie Kerstetter, who both cashed in the 2011 WSOP main event, were on hand as well.
The four-day event kicked off with the Ante Up Magazine-Chicago Poker Championship as Nancy Fallah returned to try to defend her title and 2009 champ Leroy “Talk Show” Carver and 2010 winner Mike Sabbia were there.
For David McDermott, co-creator of the WCPC, this tournament may be his most memorable. The savvy veteran, runner-up at the Chicago Poker Classic six-handed event in 2010, found himself facing his son, David Jr., for the Ante Up Championship. David Jr., an 18-year-old business major at Illinois State, showed he was just as talented as his dad. His aggressive style in his first live tournament proved too much for his father, winning the Ante Up Championship.
The High Roller Winner Take All Invitational for the second year drew a star-studded field, including Jerry Yang, Richard Roeper, Faraz Jaka, Chad Brown, Rahim, David Kaplan and last year’s champ Nick Brancato. Two female amateurs, Meg Bertini and Nikki Griffith, were among the field, too.
“The $1,500 winner-take-all event was a great experience, giving me the chance to play with a caliber of player I usually don’t get to experience,” said Bertini, who won her seat that afternoon in a $75 satellite. For Griffith, who lost her mother to cancer, this was a special experience knowing proceeds from this event went to cancer research.
Harrah’s Joliet could not have timed the spring 2011 opening of their World Series of Poker room any better. The Department of Justice had just shut down online poker in the US and players, like me, were left scrambling to find a place to play. For a few weeks I bounced around between The Horseshoe, Majestic Star, and Hollywood Joliet, while waiting for Harrah’s grand opening. When it did finally open its doors I was there and have been a regular ever since.
I live much closer to Joliet than Hammond, so convenience was the biggest draw to Harrah’s. Once I started playing I found many more reasons to continue. Due to its smaller size (8 tables) it is very easy for the players to get to know the staff, and vice versa. From the poker room manager, Doug Walters, down to the dealers, the number one priority has been to cater to the regular player’s needs and requests. From lowering the initial rake, to starting a weekly poker league, adding more chips to the starting stack of the tournaments, instituting tier credits for poker players (17 per hour), and most recently adding additional cash games, Harrah’s has been taking the advice of the players and changing the room accordingly since they opened their doors.
For the first few months as the room was still in its infancy, the standard games were 1-3 NL Holdem, and a nightly 3-5 NL Holdem. The 1-3 is their most popular game and most days have 2 to 3 tables running. The games play nine handed with a $100 minimum and a $300 maximum buy-in. The rake on this game is 10% with a $6 cap on a full table. If you are an early bird they reduce that rake to a $4 cap from 9am-12pm.