A report From Florida’s biggest poker tournament.


Event One of the WPT at the Hollywood Hard Rock. 1,600 entrants, the biggest  field to date in Florida. $350 buy-in, 20K stacks. 4 Day One Events, 1 Day Two,Day Three if you’re lucky. Total prize pool: $480,000. 144 spots cash.

The short story:  Made the final table.

The longer version.I played Day One A, and ran into some extremely ugly hands i.e. my boat lost to quads, then soon the card that gave me a flush paired the board delivering a boat to someone else.  Also, I felt unfocused, which is unusual for me. I’ve never bought into a second Day One, but these bad outcomes, combined with me playing a less than optimal game led me to  buy in for the next day.  This was a high value game and I couldn’t miss it.

Floor person, Troy, indulges me by holding chips going in to Day Two

I reviewed my bad plays from Day One, vowed to correct the leaks within my power, and tried again.  I was super card dead for three levels, at one point having 5 8 in both blinds and the button all in a row. I was patient.   I steadily chipped up, lost a few big pots but remained tiltless and ended Day One with  slightly above the average 70K stack.

Day Two was a roller coaster. I played at lots of different tables vs. many of the best players in Florida. I adapted to every table as necessary. Then, as happens in riveting games, I looked around at 2 a.m. and noticed that not only were there very few tables left, but a rail forming.  The late evening turned into an atmosphere of both a boxing match and a golf tournament.   Various sweaters went nuts (mine included) when their player took a big one…then, during major pots, you could hear a pin drop. Sometimes it seemed like no one was breathing, then it was chaos.   At 3 a.m. the game was stopped with a 2 p.m restart the next day, Monday.  The top stack had 3,690,000 and the bottom had 800,000.  I had 1,490,000 so was in the middle, 11th of the 18 left. I hoped I could sleep.

When I arrived at the following afternoon, I was surprised that there were spectators.  The game was a take no prisoners one from the first hand. Big stacks were shoving pre flop and bigger ones calling, frequently lite IMO. At one point 56, AQ and TT were all in.  It was an intense super-charged fight fueled by a steep payout structure. I felt there would be at least a 4 way chop.

After playing 22 hours of what I thought was pretty good poker, I made a terrible fold that cost me a much bigger payout. The right move would have been a three bet shove, yet I folded. I suspect my opponent had the same hand as I did, but with two kings on the flop, it would have been a difficult call for him, and I had him covered.  Poker is an unforgiving game. I see it like  race car driving in several ways; always looking for an open spot to speed through; but also, take your eye off the road or make one miscalculation, and you’re dead.  During the entire game, I sucked out twice, once when I cracked aces, and once when I was out-kicked and hit my kicker.  More importantly, my good hands held up and as always, many pots ended without a showdown. I’d say not getting unlucky is the best luck one can hope for.

It was super-fun to final table at the biggest turnout game so far in Florida.  If you want to back me in some bigger games, I’m listening.