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Vegas WSOP Trip Report

Discussion in 'Poker Stories and Bad Beats' started by SpeakEasy, Jun 16, 2005.

  1. SpeakEasy

    SpeakEasy Well-Known Member

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    Trip Report to Las Vegas. Just the relevant poker-related fun stuff….

    Thursday, June 9th

    Arrived in Vegas around 11:30am, suitcase delayed by one flight. Therefore, I missed the 2pm Bellagio tournament. Went to the Rio at about 4pm, straight to the Pavilion and the WSOP.

    Wow! That’s a hell of a lot of poker tables. The buzz in the room is incredible. Tournaments, cash games, satellites, the works. Calls for cash games in one area, satellite seating in another. At one table is Greg Raymer, Cindy Violette, John D’Agostino, Ted Forrest and some others playing a 7-card stud cash game. A small crowd watches, probably oogling the stacks of black and other colorful chips on the table as much as the play and the players.

    I came armed and ready for the $2000 NLHE tournament on Friday, so I thought I’d ease into things with a satellite. $225 satellite for tournament chips, good for any WSOP tournament. 1000 starting chips, 10 players, blinds escalate every 15 or 20 minutes (I forget). Not much room to maneuver. I build the stack slowly, and we’re down to three with the blinds at 600-1200. With the three of us about equal stacks, we are each completely committed all-in if we play a hand. It becomes a complete luck-fest. I lose with A3o to Q7o. At least I got my money in with the best starting hand. High on the luck scale, low on the skill scale, I decide to move on to the cash games.

    I sit at the $500 to $1500 NLHE game, $5-10 blinds. Mostly experienced players in the cash games, but also a few lose, fairly wild players at my table. One kid that was probably 21 years and a day sits down and starts raising wildly. After being down a bit, one notable hand comes up where I flop top two pair in the BB (queens and eights), and he just can’t lay it down. The whole stack goes in and now I’m up about $600 for the night, accounting for the satellite. Thanks. I’m tired; after a long days of traveling and playing.

    I sign up for WSOP Event #9, and its time for bed. Phil Hellmuth signs up soon after me, and even in line he still wears the sunglasses.

    Friday, WSOP Event #9

    Friday is the $2000 NLHE event, with about 1400 entrants. I’m in seat 6, and the only notable player at my table is Buddy Williams in seat 8. Seat 5 is empty for about the first 10 minutes, which is then occupied by a noted pro who shall remain nameless for the purpose of my story.

    He’s been to the final table at the WSOP before, and he looks every bit the part of the melancholy poker hippy, straight out of the ‘60s. Headband, ratty sweatshirt, shorts, tube socks pulled up to the knees with gym shoes. Worst of all, he smells like ass. Not a constant, overbearing ass smell, but unavoidable. Occasionally, I have to turn my head away to avoid a strong breeze of ass smell. I wonder if its really him, or just the “lucky poker clothes” that haven’t been washed for eighteen years.

    After about his third hand after sitting down, Poker Hippy flops a set of tens in a raised pot on a KT8 board against what could only be AK (this other player mucked after losing). Poker Hippy doubles up, just like that. AK-guy curses, and the dealer doesn’t call the floor and assess the ten minute cursing penalty only because the poor bastard has $50 left. Now ass-smelling Poker Hippy is the instant big stack to my right and he’s not going anywhere. Fabulous.

    The table is playing very tight. I get complete junk except for one notable hand of the first level. Poker Hippy raises UTG+1, and I peek down at AA. I raise, thinking we’ll move that big stack one to the left. Alas, all fold, Poker Hippy notices me for the first time, ponders for about 2 seconds, and mucks. Am I playing that tight? I win a $150 pot. Fabulous.

    At the start of level 2, Poker Hippy pulls out an orange, and proceeds to peel it with his fist, sans tools, like a chimpanzee would peel a banana. He bites into it like an apple, and juice is running down his hand and dripping on his clothes. This is good, because it may counteract the ass smell.

    I get junk, junk, and more junk for the remainder of level 2. I make a play here and there with junk, and by the first break build up to $2900. Nothing spectacular, but respectable for my first big tournament.

    As the 15 minute break starts, nearly 1400 guys all make a rush for the 12 urinals and 6 toilet stalls in the single bathroom near the poker room. What the hell are the organizers thinking?! I set off with maybe 300 adventurous souls in search of the main casino bathrooms, which is about a 6-7 minute walk, one way.

    On this journey, I find myself walking next to Tobey Maguire. I have the urge to tell him that I have been collecting comic books since I was 15, that I have thousands of Spider-Man comics, and that my all-time favorite comic book cover is Amazing Spider-Man #252, where the black costume first appears. This is the comic book, in fact, that really got me starting collecting comics. With deference to your traditional blue and red costume, Mr. Maguire, I really like the black costume better. I realize that I’m in a small minority, but I just like the black costume. Instead, I settle for something more mundane.

    “How many hands you think we’ll miss?”

    “Hopefully, none. I’m just heading to Starbucks, not the can,” Spiderman replies.

    “Good luck.”

    “You too.”

    After all these years of collecting and reading Spiderman comics, Spiderman has just wished me good luck in poker. Surreal.

    As round 3 starts, Poker Hippy now has a large cup of soup. The soup smells great, so now we have orange and soup odors to counteract the smell of ass. I want to ask him to spill some soup on his shorts, just for good measure. I actually consider quickly adjusting my chair in a way that would ensure some soup spills on his clothes. Just as he is finishing his soup, however, our table breaks.

    I am moved to seat #4 at a table right next to the area where ESPN is filming the final table of the $1000 NLHE rebuy tournament. This area is abuzz with excitement. The main ESPN TV screen is immediately adjacent to my table, and people are crowded by the ropes to watch the action. Miami John Cernuto is in seat #1 at my table, and both he and seat #3 have what may be the biggest stacks in the tournament at this point. I’m at about $3000, and these two may have more than $10,000.

    Seat #5, to my immediately left, busts out soon after I arrive. Within 3 minutes, Spiderman appears and plops his chips at the empty seat next to me. Seat #3 nudges me, whispering: “You know who that is, right?”

    “Yeah, we’ve met.” My brush with greatness continues.

    For the next hour and a half, I get absolute crap for cards. I’ve played long enough to know when the cards are running good, when they’re running average, and when they’re running bad. This was really bad. This table is more aggressive than my first, and Miami John is raising liberally, and calling raises just as liberally.

    Its clearly a raise or fold table. Limping is openly mocked and snapped off with aggressive raises. I put in a few opening raises, just to stay in the game, with premium hands like J9s and Q8o, but with a few callers and nothing on the flop each time, I just can’t afford to put more chips in harms way.

    I’m playing weak tight, and I hate it, but I simply have no cards or openings to make a play. I haven’t shown a hand at this table because I haven’t played to a showdown. I have that bad feeling set in as my stack dwindles and others grow.

    At the second 15 minutes break, after level 4, I have $2850. Yuck. I resolve to make it through the next two levels and to the dinner break.

    More crap. The antes are now grinding my stack into dust. I raise with 44 in MP1, the best hand I’ve seen since the AA. The flop misses, I bet, get re-raised, and have to fold.

    Near the start of level 6, with 150/300 blinds and 25 ante, I am down to about 1000 and go all-in UTG with K7o. Time to get lucky or say goodbye. Tobey calls, and the BB raises. Crap. Tobey calls the raise, and shows AQ. The BB shows AK. Tobey hits the queen and busts us both. I stand up and see that the big screen says 435 players remaining, so I guess I went out in 435th. Now I can tell everyone that I did decent for my first big tournament, and got busted by Spiderman.

    Saturday, MGM Grand

    Arrive at about 11am on Saturday, and sit down at the $200 NLHE game, waiting for the $500 NLHE game. In the 200 game, it’s a therapy session for a twenty-something kid to my right who’s been playing all night, and is now crying to the table about the girlfriend who just dumped him (the mother of his only child). He’s drinking Heineken and Scotch, raising if either of his two starting cards are an ace or face card. I’m generally a nice guy, but I’m just waiting for the right moment to help him slide his stack over to me. Does that make me a bad guy? Nah. No cards, and I move after 20 minutes to the bigger game.

    Play at the $500 NL (2-5 blinds) game is fairly standard, not much bluffing, and I am down a few hundred in seat 1 playing uninspired poker with mediocre starting cards for a couple of hours. The action heats up when a small, quiet man arrives in seat 9 and starts raising and re-raising. He’s far too well dressed for the lunch hour at the MGM, and everyone senses that the action is going to pick up.

    My runs starts with a hand while I’m in the BB. I’ve been adding to keep my stack at or near $500, just in case I actually catch some cards or see an opening to be the bully. I have named the player in Seat 7 ‘The Big Jell-O’ because he has the unfortunate tell of trembling when he has a big hand. He’s a big-boned, blubbery sort of guy who is apparently a regular, because the dealers all know him. On one prior hand, he started trembling as he raised PF and got a call from the BB. The flop was JT6, the BB led out, and as The Big Jell-O raised his trembling turned into a quivering, full-body jiggle. He might as well have shouted, “I have a Monster here!!” BB folded and he turned over pocket kings. What a horribly unfortunate tell for him.

    Back to my hand in the BB. The Big Jell-O raised pre-flop to $25 and he’s shaking, so he’s got something. I peek down at :Ah :Ad. Sweet. How can we get all the money in the pot? I raise to $75. The Big Jell-O quickly raises to $150. I pause, think, think, sending out brain waves of “ace-king, ace-king.” I’m quietly praying he has KK and not AA. I finally raise to $300. He is now a shambling, jiggling mess as he somehow manages to shove his stack forward, bulldozer-style. Neatly stacked chips crash into a pile. I saw that he had me covered by about $30 or so, so we don’t have to re-assemble the wreckage and count it out until after the hand is over.

    I call. He turns over kings, I turn over the goods, and he yelps something that’s not any language. My aces hold up.

    This hand starts my card rush. My spoils are still in an unstacked pile as I get :As :Qs in the SB on the next hand. I raise after four limpers, and all call, including the BB. Flop comes two spades. I lead out with about a third of the pot, one raise, two callers, and I call. Fourth card is a spade, with no straight-flush draw. I check, and manage to milk some more out of one player, winning at the show-down.

    I win three or four more hands in the next two orbits, then get to limp in with :6c :4s in the BB with 4 other players. Flop comes :4h :4d :6h. I lead for $15, which shouldn’t raise any eyebrows. A young baby-face guy raises to $75. The wildish, well-dressed man calls. I just call.

    The turn is :Qh -- “Excellent!” (in the voice of Monty Burns) I bet $75, baby-face raises all-in for about $225 total, small quiet guy raises to $450! Most likely one has the flush, one has a four, and I can tell no one has pocket 44 or 66 by their betting. My only hesitation is that Well-Dressed Man limped with a high pocket pair, and might beat me with a lucky card on the river. I raise $300 more, and he goes away. When I turn up the sneaky full house, there’s groans all around the table, and I rake another healthy pot.

    Things cool down for me after that, and I’m done when my wife and other family arrive for dinner around 4:30, up nearly $1000. MGM has a very nice room, and I will definitely play there again. The bar right next door plays thumping-loud music, which doesn’t bother me but seems to irritate some of the players.
     
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  2. SpeakEasy

    SpeakEasy Well-Known Member

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    Sunday, Bellagio

    I arrive about 1:15pm for the 2pm $500 buy-in NLHE tournament. The Bellagio has upgraded and expended the poker room, and its very nice. There’s a main floor, four tables on an upper level high-stakes area enclosed by frosted glass, and the large ultra-plush single-table high-stakes room. They have pictures of high-rollers and WPT winners on the walls, which adds a very unique touch. This may very well be the center of the poker universe, now that the WSOP has all but abandoned the downtown Horseshoe.

    My tournament starts in seat 5 at a 10-handed table with players ranging from seasoned to fairly inexperienced, and a couple of stodgy old regulars. The old guys let everyone know they play here a lot by calling out to the staff and talking loudly about how they faired yesterday. We start with $2000 and 25/25 blinds, going up every 40 minutes. Overall, everyone is friendly, and play is tight from the start. I ease into tight mode, either raising or folding pre-flop. I slowly build my stack with hands that end before the showdown.

    During the second level, seat 9 busts out, and Michael “The Grinder, I’m a Machine” Mizrachi plops down in his place. Everyone instantly recognizes him. The guy in seat 3 has apparently met him before, and acts like he’s The Grinder’s life-long buddy. Its painful to watch a 50 year-old man kiss the ass of a 25 year-old uber-successful player.

    Mizrachi is immediately the center of attention, raising PF and entering a lot of pots. He’s betting aggressively, and many yielding to his aggression. He plays with a lot of ego, and clearly likes to run the table. The way he counts chips and bets just screams confidence. Its an interesting contrast to everyone I’ve played with so far in Vegas, and he’s clearly the most bold player I’ve ever seen in person. On one particular hand, Mizrachi raises pre-flop, a stodgy old-guy in seat 1 calls, and Mizrachi leads the betting on every street with the old guy calling the flop and turn. On the river, Mizrachi bets enough to put the old guy all-in, and he folds. Mizrachi flips T7o into the middle, which has connected with absolutely nothing on the board. Someone comments about “firing all three barrels,” and its even more clear that Mizrachi is playing at a level a few notches above this table. I was convinced he had the goods.

    After the first 15 minute break, during level 4, Mizrachi pulls a trick on a newbie to my left. Newbie goes all-in on a smallish stack, and everyone folds around to Mizrachi in the BB. Mizrachi collects a stack of chips in his left hand, and in one single motion stomps the chips in the pot with his left hand, yelling “Call!” while flipping his cards with his right hand under the chips (as they are moving forward) and into the muck. In this single motion, he has actually folded, while trying to trick the newbie that he has called. Newbie falls for it and flips over pocket eights. Mizrachi pauses and looks around the table, then raises his hands in the air showing no cards, waiting for everyone to notice this trick. Laughter ensues.

    He’s clearly just goofing around, not trying to shoot any angles, yet at the same time I can tell that a few eyebrows are raised at the table. A few orbits later he tries the same trick against me.

    I’m 99% certain he folded, but its such a quick motion that I want to make sure. I ask “You have cards?” I would hate to muck and he actually does have cards.

    He laughs and pulls the chips back. “Nah.”

    After he tries this trick for a third time, several players at the table, and the dealer, are clearly getting annoyed at his shenanigans. He’s a bold, brash player, and now he’s starting to show his age. Unfortunately, no matter how many millions he’s made at poker thus far, this is exactly how an immature player would act at the table. This might be funny in a home game, and this $500 buy-in tourney may be chump-change to him, but he’s no longer funny to the table.

    My first interesting hand happens during level 4, with the blinds at 100-200 and my stack at around 6000. I’ve been folding a lot, so when its folded around to me with :As :7c on the button, I raise to 600. SB joined just before the break. He has been talking a lot with Mizrachi, and has the full Young Asian Hipster look going. Shades are mirrored, expensive shirt, gold necklaces, rings, spikey hair, the works. He asks how much I’ve got left. I raise my arm and let him figure it out, without counting for him or saying a word. He eyeballs my stack and raises to 1200. I’ve got the vibe that he was just trying to put a scare in me and steal back, so I call. He’s been liberally calling and raising, and has me covered by maybe 500.

    The flop comes :Qs :8s :3s. SB quickly shoves his stack in. My first thought is fold, it mostly missed me, and I was on a steal anyway. As I’m pondering, SB leans forward to look around the dealer, and is checking me out. I glance over, and he’s staring. He leans in closer, and is now invading the dealer’s personal space. The dealer leans back to get out of his way, probably fearing Spike might try to plant a wet one on him.

    At this point I’m thinking that he’s overtly trying to stare me out of the hand, and I’m sensing weakness. Now I’m actually running through the math. 9 outs to the nut flush. Three aces are probably good outs. If he hasn’t even paired, three 7s may also be good outs, and I would already have the best hand with ace high. I may have as many as 14 outs, which would put me over 50% to improve to a better, or nut, hand by the river.

    After I run through this, he still staring, hovering over the dealer. Doesn’t he know that I’ve read Caro’s book, too? Strong means weak. I call.

    He slumps back in his chair and says the two words I love to hear, “Good call.” He turns over :10s :7d. Wow, its even better than I thought -- he’s dead to three tens. Two non-spade blanks on the turn and river, and I’m the new table captain. I feel like telling him not to be so obvious next time, but he’ll just have to figure that out himself.

    I continue to play tight and aggressive, only folding, open raising or re-raising. This works well, and by the second 15 break I’m at $12,975 and we are down to 17 players.

    Soon are down to 12 players and I’m about average with around $14,000. The blinds are 500-1000, 50 ante. The older guy who was previously kissing Mizrachi’s ass raises UTG to $3100. I have :Kc :Qc in the SB, and call another $2600, mainly because we’re short handed and I’m guessing I probably have the best hand or overcards.

    The flop comes :Qd :7d :2d. I consider the range of hands that he might have -- any pocket pair, AK down to maybe A8, and possibly some lower hands like JTs. I estimate that I’m only beat here by AQ, KK, AA or a lucky flush or set, and I’m way ahead of many other hands he might have. I go all-in. He calls, and I immediately think that I’m cooked. He flips -- :6c :6s, no diamond! I double up, he’s crippled. What a strange call, and so close to the money. My best guess is that he thought I was moving in with AK.

    Soon we are down to the final table of 9, with 8 places paid. We make a save for 9th place, who will get $800. I am in 2nd or 3rd in chips, depending on stack fluctuations from hand-to-hand.

    When the blinds hit 800-1600/100 ante, with 8 players left, someone starts talk of a deal. The guy in 1st has about $46,000 in chips, and he’s solid, not making any mistakes. I have $22,100 in chips, and am in 2nd or 3rd place. Even so, a meaningful open raise of $4,000 approaches 20% of my stack. One mistake hand and its nearly all-in or fold for me. For most of the table, its already all-in or fold. We won’t see post-flop play until we loose 3 or 4 players.

    The prize pool is just over $40,000 total, after the $800 paid to 9th. The prizes are roughly:
    1st -- $15,000
    2nd -- $10,000
    3rd -- $5300
    4th -- $2800.
    The proposed deal is just to chop the pot 8 even ways, with the justification being that luck will decide the final 4 or 3 players and we are all so close in chips. The guy in 1st place voices his objection, so the deal changes to $6000 for him, and the other 7 players chop the remainder evenly, which would be just under $5000 per player. I give this deal the thumbs up, knowing that I may be giving up a few hundred dollars of equity based on my current chip count in exchange for a guaranteed payment that’s nearly 3rd place money..

    One old guy objects to the deal and holds out, because he’s convinced that he has nearly $40,000 in chips, too. He has huge stacks of black $100s, whereas I and several others have lots of pink $500s and some yellow $1000s. We can all see that he is miscounting his $100s, and actually has about half of what he believes he has. After some heated discussion about the size of his stack, its resolved by this exchange:

    “If you have over $40,000 in chips, I’ll pay you $1000 cash right now!” says the guy to my left.

    “OK, smart guy, I take that bet!” replies the old fart. “Count my stack!”

    Its counted out at around $18,000. This abruptly ends the discussion, and we have a deal. It’s a wonder this old fart lasted so long in the tournament.

    I have to wait for about an hour to get paid, and all awards are paid in chips. Final payout is $4,845 After I receive my chips, I have to take a break and admire them for a moment, being a chip collector. I wonder if I am the first person at the Bellagio to take pictures of chips in the sports book.

    As I’m leaving the poker room, the exclusive single-table private room is now populated by Jennifer Harman, Phil Ivey, David Benyamine, David Oppenheim and Eli Elezra. How in the world do these predators play with each other and make money? Maybe they’re waiting for a big fish to arrive… or maybe one of them is the big fish…

    I report the results to my wife, who is eating dinner with other family. Later, after I’ve turned chips into cash (I was somewhat tempted to keep the chips for the collection), we convene out by the dancing waters for one show, then head to Noodles for my late dinner.

    I’m definitely playing at the Bellagio next time. Pictures to follow.
     
    #2
  3. VARoadstter

    VARoadstter Now just a loudmouth
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    SpeakEasy,

    Fantastic trip report man. I was hanging on every word.

    Perhaps you would like to slum it up with the rest of us tonight in the Chiptalk tourney on PokerStars? You can be table captain by default! :happy:
     
    #3
  4. Wylecoyo

    Wylecoyo Super Moderator
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    Fantastic report with all the details anyone could hope for. Great job. :wink:
     
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  5. SpaceMonkey

    SpaceMonkey Well-Known Member

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    Fantastic report!

    I'm a bit confused by Mizrachi's "trick". Aren't verbal bets binding? Or does it not matter as his hand was in the muck right before he says "call"?
     
    #5
  6. Fins

    Fins Well-Known Member

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    Great read!

    Congrats on the Bellagio finish... still laughing at the old man ITM who thought he had twice as many chips... also still wondering about Mr. BO at the WSOP... headband & tube socks didn't do it for me... any more hints?

    I too was confused by Mizrachi's shenanigans... I read the first one as he called chips and immediately mucked than realized he was just trying to get the guy to table the winning hand without paying for it, I think?? Doesn't seem like that great of a trick and definitely looks like a form of anglin' not in the hand of course but by getting reads.

    Thanks for the report.
     
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  7. SpaceMonkey

    SpaceMonkey Well-Known Member

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    He's already in. He posted in the tourney #7 thread right before you. :)
     
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  8. montyburnz

    montyburnz Well-Known Member

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    Superb report! Excellent detail and story. Had me hanging on to every word!
     
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  9. R Deckard

    R Deckard Well-Known Member

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    Fabulous trip report: entertaining, informative, detailed. How do you remember so much to write it down later? Or are you keeping notes while you play?
     
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  10. vanquish

    vanquish Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely hilarious report man. Thanks for the read. Ahhh, poker hippie. Good stuff.
     
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  11. pager23

    pager23 Well-Known Member

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    Ya, I can barely remember hands in a SNG once it's finished. How can you remember these details so clearly?

    And give us some more hints about Poker Hippie. I'm at a loss for who this is.

    Awesome report!
     
    #11
  12. rudemood12

    rudemood12 Well-Known Member

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    headband and tube socks? my guess is mickey appleman.
     
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  13. SpeakEasy

    SpeakEasy Well-Known Member

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    To avoid embarrassing this player, I can neither confirm nor deny your most excellent guess.
     
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  14. SpeakEasy

    SpeakEasy Well-Known Member

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    Chips are in the left hand, cards in the right hand. As he lifts up the chips to move them in with his left hand, he quickly flips the cards with his right hand underneath the chips as the chips are moving forward. The cards scoot into the muck while the chips are still in the air and before they have actually been bet. Then, after the cards hit the muck, the chips come pounding down with the loud "Call!"

    Its all one very quick, fluid motion, and he has actually folded. The cards hit the muck before the chips return to the felt. If you're not watching very closely, you will miss the cards scooting into the muck and only see and hear the loud call with chips pounding forward.

    He's doing this to goof around, and my guess is that this does not happen in what he considers "serious" tournaments. He's a good-natured guy, and he is an excellent friendly bully.
     
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  15. SpeakEasy

    SpeakEasy Well-Known Member

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    I see everything, ma' man. I wrote down only my chip counts at the breaks.
     
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  16. ahopen78

    ahopen78 Banned

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    i thought it was this guy:


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  17. imthatguy

    imthatguy Lifetimer/Former Mod
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    Congrats there man, looks like it was a great trip. Someday we'll have to tangle at the tables. Only another year or two before I think I'm ready! :wink:
     
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  18. chipper57AA

    chipper57AA Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Love reading reports like this. Keep em coming!

    I would have guessed the Hippie you were refering to was Phil Helmuth, that wouldn't be beneath his style to show up that way.

    As for Toby McGuire - fun times! Knocked out by Spidey. You should have asked him for a walk-on part in his next movie in favor of you donating your chips to him.
    :wink:
     
    #18
  19. SpeakEasy

    SpeakEasy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    NLHE cash table
    And now what you've all been waiting for -- chip pictures...

    The Bellagio payout
    [​IMG]

    Some seriously grubby chips
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    #19
  20. tomb1

    tomb1 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Atlanta again
    Oh don't worry. You can clean them up when you get these souvenir chips home, right?!? :)
     
    #20

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