Las Vegas, NV
Some of you might be surprised when I tell you that I did not play a single of hand of poker since I arrived in Las Vegas just before Memorial Day weekend to cover the World Series of Poker. In fact, I played more hands of Pai Gow poker than Texas Hold'em or even PLO. In that short span of time, I've spent substantially more time proposition gambling on random things such as number of Main Event runners, end of day numbers, Lime Tossing behind the Rio with Otis, and how a malcontent chain-smoking Frenchman would answer obscure yet sexual perverse questions.
Bottom line... I was simply too busy with work to play cards.
Media tournaments are always crapshoots with accelerated blinds. It's sort of like working in a restaurant and getting a staff meal... except it's served in ten minutes and you have to gobble up your gruel before it's time to go back to work.
I'm gonna be honest, aside from my first ever media event in 2005 (an epic day when it used to be called the Celebrity/Media tournament I busted Shannon Elizabeth when I cracked her Aces with set of Jacks... on the river), I did not enjoy the other media tournaments. I even skipped last year's completely (mainly due to some serious back problems after a car wreck a few weeks before) because I knew it was going to be a blah time. Sadly, in 2006 and 2007, after working seven straight weeks at the Rio, I always got stuck sitting at a table with so-called media that I had never even seen or had met before. In short, it wasn't fun and more like a waste of time playing a pushfest with strangers on your rare day off.
When I heard that the 2009 media event was going to be a part of the Dream Team Poker format, I certainly perked up. I was fortunate enough to play in the last installment of DTP at Caesar's Palace. I went the deepest on Team Tao of Pokerati (with Michalski and Shaniac) but more importantly, I had some of the most fun I had had playing in a poker tournament in a very long time. Probably the last time I had that much fun inside a casino was at the Aussie Millions in 2008 when I played a private and drunken 1/2 NL game with Gavin Smith, Paul Wasicka, and Matt Savage at the Crown Casino.
Photo courtesy of Caco from PokerPt.com
Not only does Dream Team add a nice spin to the event, it's downright... fun. I couldn't wait to put a team together and joined forces with my girlfriend, Change100, and my buddy MeanGene. Team Tao of Poker. MeanGene was especially excited and couldn't wait to see the team jerseys. He tagged along with me to pick up the jerseys and quickly tore into the plastic package. I had not seen him that happy since we went to the Rhino last year. Dream Team Poker has that effect on people.
Seriously, anyone who has played will tell you that Dream Team Poker puts the fun back into poker. 160 or players showed up to play in the Brasilia Room, as I checked out everyone's jerseys and team names. Some were better than others, but without a doubt my favorite team name was Joe Balls. We had a heads-up overall bet against the gang at PokerStars Blog. Otis and the Brits (Howard & Bartley) had jerseys that read EAM POKERSTARS BLO. I knew they were doomed.
I wandered into the room and sat down at the first table since I knew the dealer. I figured that was a good sign and even sat in Seat 1. The rest of the players slowly trickled in.
Nolan Dalla asked for a moment of silence for a few of our fellow media reps who had passed away in years past including this year... Lee Munzer, Justin Shronk, Andy Glazer, and Byron Ligget to name a few.
Starting Table:Garry Gates busted out on the first hand and got the booby prize... an upside down trophy. He was all in with 10-4 against Seth Palansky's A-2. As Bryan Devonshire explained, "You guys obviously play poker on the internet."
Seat 1: Your Hero
Seat 2: Paul from Joe Balls
Seat 3: Tassie Devil from PokerNetwork
Seat 4: Katkin from Le Grand Fromage
Seat 5: Chops from Team Lacey
Seat 6: Parvis from Team Bluff
Seat 7: Elaine from Team Wicked Chops Poker
Seat 8: ?
Seat 9: John from Poker Road Nation
Seat 10: Jess from Team Presto
My table was much tighter. No one busted out and it took a while before one of us was all in. Parvis opened for a standard raise and I shoved with two black tens. Katkin was kinda short and he also shoved from the big blind (with two red tens). Parvis tanked and called with Big Slick. 10-10 vs. 10-10 vs. A-K. I faded the overs and I almost doubled up through Parvis. A few hands later, I was moved to the front of the room to a table that featured Seth Palansky, Sean from Bluff Australia, and Felipe from PokerNews Portugual.
Palansky had the biggest stack at the table and was among the chipleaders. I won a small pot from him with pocket Aces. I through out such an overbet that I was praying that he'd call with junk... but he folded. That would be the only time I had a monster hand the rest of the tournament. Aside from the A-A and 10-10,I would not be dealt a pocket pair higher than 9-9 for the rest of the tournament. Yet, somehow, I built a stack to advance to the final table.
I built my stack courtesy of a tilted Portuguese photographer from PokerNews who I have worked with many times in the past. Felipe is a great guy and solid player, but can be a hot head sometimes if you can send him on uber-tilt. Felipe sometimes plays like a crazy Scandi and opens pots with junk hands. He tried the old Scandi min-raise from UTG. I found Ad-3d from the small blind and shoved.
The result? The dreaded Eurotank. That was a term that Marty Derbyshire come up with while we covered European Poker Tour events. The Eurotank is when a Eurodonk overthinks a hand for several minutes before he folds in very undramatic fashion.
Felipe headed into the Eurotank and I knew he was going to fold. All I wanted to do was make sure I tilted him along the way. He tried to talk and talk and even tried to get me to show him one card but the dealer wouldn't let him. He finally folded and I showed the 3d and tossed my other card towards the muck. Felipe has quick hands and snatched up the card before the dealer would scramble it into the rest of the cards. Felipe tabled Ad and muttered something in Portuguese.
"Did I just tilt you?" I asked.
"Motherfucker! I should have called," he said.
I was setting him up and luckily found my spot less than one orbit later. I found A-K in early position and limped because I knew that Felipe would shove behind me with a shortish stack. Sure enough, he moved all in and I couldn't wait for action to come around to me before I insta-called. I flipped over Big Slick and he muttered more curse words in Portuguese before he tabled K-Q. My hand held up and Felipe hit the rail. One tilted Portuguese photographer down.
I was over 12K at that point. Change100 was already out in 152nd but MeanGene was still alive going into the first break. MeanGene busted around 48th place. Somehow, I managed to be among the final 27 players and we re-drew for seats. Dennis Phillips was among the final 27 players and he was kind enough to buy pizza and beer for everyone who had busted early. There was no pizza left at that point and all I wanted to do was make the final table to give my team Tao of Poker a shot at the overall title. I also wanted to make the final table because after all, all the money went to charity... the Nevada Cancer Institute.
I found myself moved to the same table as the lovely Lacey Jones. She sat in Seat 2 across from me and it seemed like most of the cameras were focused on our table. She had about the same stack as me when we got involved in a monster of a hand. I looked down and saw 4-4. That was the best hand I had seen in a hour after my stack started to slip. Since 4-4 is the favorite hand of my buddy Professional Keno Player Neil Fontenot, I decided to shove all in from the cutoff. Lacey woke up with A-K and called. We both tabled our hands, and emcee Alex Outhred called out the action as a wall of media and spectators and everyone's busted teammates gathered around the table.
The dealer exposed the door card... the Ace of hearts and Lacey jumped up in the air. She didn't see the dealer fan out the rest of the flop... Ah-4c-7d. I flopped a set and maintained the lead as everyone surrounding the table went bonkers. The turn was the 7d which gave Lacey a few outs. I faded them when the 2h fell on the river. I doubled up to almost 25K.
A few hands later, I got involved in a decisive pot with two short stacks. I opened with Kc-Jc. The small stack to my right from Team Overfed and Underwashed shoved. One of the Aussies from Poker Network also shoved. I called.
Aussie: K-9Um, yeah with three Kings out, I was not looking good and ready to double up the guy to my left. I started to cut down chips from my stack before the dealer fanned out the flop. There was an Ace out there and I figured that I was toast. I didn't see the turn card... a ten... but I heard Alex Outhred say, "Dr. Pauly just picked up a couple of outs."
Overfed & Underwashed: A-K
I looked up and saw that I was drawing to gutshot. Any queen would do.
I begged the dealer, "How about the Queen of hearts? Queen of spades? How about the Queen of diamonds. Diamonds are nice. Queen of diamonds."
I pointed to where the river card would fall. He quickly burned, then slowly dropped the Queen of diamonds on the river. The room exploded and I jumped out of my chair. I nailed a Broadway gutshot to bust both players which whipped everyone up in a frenzy. That sort of jubilation is absent from most poker tournaments and it felt cool to be a part of that exhilarating moment.
Check out this photo by Rob Gracie. You have to click to enlarge it to see the reaction on the faces of the people watching the action... especially Lacey's reaction.
I turned around and saw AlCantHang standing over my shoulder. He was in a very similar spot in 2005 when I needed a two outer to bust Shannon Elizabeth from the media tournament. Unreal.
I was up to 33K and got moved again when there were two tables left. I busted Diana from Joe Balls in a very ugly fashion. Action folded to us in the the blinds. I shoved with 7d-5d. She called with... 10-7. Yikes. The flop was 6-4-3. Sweet Jesus, I run lucky. I kicked Diana in the junk and she was out. Roland de Wolfe happened to be sweating the table and saw that ugly hand.
"Doctor, you lucky bastard," said Roland.
Lacey Jones bubbled off the final table of ten in 11th place (as Julio busted in 10th before we were consolidated to one table). Lacey won a Chaka beef jerky bobblehead doll and Diana D got to spank her as part of her bounty.
The Final Table:Since Lacey finished in 11th and LJ had made the final table, they locked up first place in the team category. Everyone who made the final table won prize money (that would end up being directly donated to the Nevada Cancer Institute). I achieved my goal. Dream Team Poker awarded three silver cups to the Top 3 finishers and they handed out Gold cups to Team Lacey. LJ proudly displayed her winner's trophy in front of her stack.
Seat 1: Amanda from LuckBox
Seat 2: Jeremy Firth
Seat 3: Diana D.
Seat 4: Rizzo
Seat 5: LJ from Team Lacey
Seat 6: Your Hero
Seat 7: Matt from Image Masters
Seat 8: Brandon (Harrah's intern)
Seat 9: Jerome (aka some French guy)
Diana D busted out in 9th place followed by Matt the photographer in 8th. The last standing Harrah's intern, Brandon, busted in 7th followed by Jeremy Firth who had to leave. The media tournament was already one hour longer than scheduled and blinds levels were accelerated. Firth headed out in 6th while the lucky Frenchman Jerome hit the rail in 5th. I was super short with four to go, but LJ got involved in a monsterpotten with Rizzo and she was out.
Heck, I was short with three to go and was more than happy with my results even though I was super super short. I shoved with 9-4 and Amanda tanked for a few seconds. I tweet'd my hand... 9-4 offsuit. And that tweet popped up on the big screen behind the final table, since Dream Team Poker had their Twitter page displayed for everyone. If Amanda turned around she would have seen what I had! She didn't have to and called with Ace-rag. She was ahead until a nine spiked on the river and I doubled up. I didn't last too much longer. I got it all in with Q-7 versus Amanda's J-10. Alex Outhred said, "Since your up against Team Luckbox with the best hand, you're toast." He shook my head and we both knew what was coming. My fate. The bitter end. I busted out in third place and couldn't have been happier. Especially because Commissioner Pollack tweet'd my elimination!
Amanda finished in second place and Rizzo took it down. Congrats, bro. Third place for me? I'll take it and the cool silver loving cup. I'm more than thrilled that the money was donated to a worthy cause.
Alex Outhred presenting a third place trophy
Photo by BJ Nemeth
Team Lacey won overall with Conch Chowders in second place. Tao of Poker tied with Team Mutt for third overall.
I sincerely hope that they keep the Dream Team Poker format for future WSOP media events. It's not only fun, but it really creates a positive and happy environment for otherwise suicidal and grumpy media personnel.
Thanks to the gang at Dream Team Poker for hosting the best media event that I ever played in. And kudos to Alex Outhred for an awesome performance rocking the mic.
If you don't know, there's a real Dream Team Poker event going on this Sunday at the Rio. It cost $1,500 per team. Visit the Dream Team Poker website for more information.
Michalski and I will be reprising team Tao of Pokerati for this event. Since Shaniac is still going strong in the Main Event, we're going to have a special third team member. Stay tuned for that announcement.
Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at www.taopoker.com. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.