Straight from Vegas – Poker and More by Kunal Patni

I have been here in Vegas for about a week now and it’s been quite a bit of a roller coaster ride for me. The trip didn’t start all that well for me as I missed my connecting flight at Los Angeles and had to wait at the LA airport for a few hours. Blame Emirates for the shoddy service there. They didn’t check in my bags all the way to Vegas. As soon as I reached the RIO here, I checked in and went to check out the WSOP area. I had heard and knew that WSOP was big, but nothing could prepare me for it. It is massive. I went at about 11 pm at night and there were still at least 2000 people playing tournaments and cash games. They have about 100 cash game tables going on at any point of time if not more and simultaneously, running 2-3 big tournaments and lots and lots of Sit and Gos. Even if someone suddenly feels like playing poker at 4 am in the morning, they will get enough action. Trust me it is that huge. I fell in love with Vegas immediately. They have like 4-5 massive halls where they conduct the tournaments and it’s quite amazing. To give you an idea, their daily deep stack tournaments at 3 pm get in excess of 1200 people every day and right after the Colossus they got 2100 people for this side event.

For first timers to Vegas for WSOP, they have to stay at the RIO. It is just way too convenient and there is enough action here and one doesn’t need to go the other hotels. I also realized a couple of things quickly here at RIO. They make most of their money during WSOP and everything is bloody expensive. The hotels in Vegas don’t provide any drinking water in the rooms and if you buy it from the gift shop, it costs you 4.5 dollars for a 1-liter bottle. A few days later I went shopping to Walmart and got 36 bottles for 4.5 dollars. So that would give you an idea about the markup. I have traveled across the globe and this is the first hotel where they don’t provide you with adapters/converters. Once again I had to make a trip to the gift shop downstairs and shell out a few dollars for a converter.

Vegas is a place where your budget can go totally haywire if you are not disciplined, more so during WSOP. There are so many tournaments happening here at the RIO and other places that you are spoilt for choices. Add to that the lure of Blackjack, Roulette etc and you know what I am talking about. Thankfully I don’t gamble (well not that much) and hence it’s ok. I was so excited the first morning to play a bracelet event that I registered for a shootout tourney thinking that it was a knockout tourney. LOL! When I sat down to play, I asked the dealer how much is the bounty for every knockout and she told me “sugar this is a shootout tournament and there is no bounty. Is this your first trip to WSOP?” I sheepishly nodded my head. She said “welcome to WSOP, it can be quite overwhelming and people make these mistakes honey. You aren’t the first one” I blushed red, mainly because of my faux pas and not because of the endearing terms she used while talking to me. I am used to that. Ha ha ha.

In terms of gameplay, the first 3-4 days weren’t great for me. I lost in the first 4 sessions of cash and didn’t make it in the money in any of the bracelet or the side events. I ran deep in a couple of them though. After that, things have been better, the last 4 sessions have been positive for me in cash and I came in 26th out of 1205 people in the 565 dollar event at Planet Hollywood. The bracelet events haven’t been great for me. I was really looking forward to the Monster Stack which took place today and lasted all but 57 minutes in that. That is one of my earliest exits in a big tournament. Busted my aces on an A24 Flop. All in on the flop. Villain had A3 suited and hit the 5 on the river. It was heart breaking. However, we need to get over such heartbreaks pretty quickly and move onto the next tournament. Thankfully I took it well in my stride.

I have had deep runs in practically all the side events that I have played till now, making it top 20% of the field in nearly all of them, but the cash still eludes me in those. Also, had a very nice run in the $1500 bracelet event. I was amongst the chip leaders after level 6. Had a stack of 40k plus (starting stack been 7500)? And then Ace-King happened to me. I lost 3 really big pots with AK. Once to 99, once to 55 and once to A10. They were 20K, 16K and 14K pots respectively. I ended up being in the top 20% of the field once again but no money. This was my deepest run in a bracelet event till now. I have been losing the important flips this trip and hopefully that will change soon. Today again at the 400 dollar event at Planet Hollywood, I was amongst the chip leads and then lost a huge pot AK < JJ and then another huge one JJ < A8. Really hoping that some of these hands go in my favor in the coming days and the results would be quite different.

Some big events coming up in the next couple of weeks and I am really looking forward to the main events at Venetian, Planet Hollywood, the one drop event and, of course, the main event of WSOP.

I haven’t managed to sight any of the big poker names till now. The only one being Jamie Gold (the winner of 2006 main event). Played with him on the same table for a long time at the Planet Hollywood event where I came in 26th. It was fun. Played 3 hands against him and I got the better of him in all the three hands. He then looked at my “Team Spades” tag and said “they teach you well in India”. That was a huge compliment coming from him.

Will blog more as the trip progresses. Looking forward to all the other Indian pros who are joining soon. It should be a blast after that. Thanks to all of you who have been railing me constantly from back home. It’s a great feeling to see such kind of love and support. Here’s hoping I give you guys more to cheer about in the next few days.


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