monte carlo trip report
I haven’t really written too much in awhile. As typical with me, my standard super hot/cold on ideas/activities has kind of taken me away from writing, but I’m getting back into it again and the overdue trip report for EPT Monte Carlo seems like a good place to start.
I haven’t really been doing too much really – I played Fable 2 for 60 hours or something over 10 days or so and beat it (was better than expected). I have been productive in one area, making PokerVT videos, as I’ve made about 6 hours the past few weeks. That’s always good. I’ve been watching my standard fare on TV, as well as something new in the unique historical and gritty HBO miniseries John Adams. I initially didn’t think I could watch it being that John Adams is played by Paul Giamatti, an actor whom I have nothing against but initially had great trouble seeing him as a statesman when all I could think about was his super-unforgettably wierd role in Nip/Tuck as Merrill Bobolit. However, even though I was 100% sure these characters were played by the same actor, I found out a few eps in that they actually aren’t. Whoops. Merrill Bobolit is played by Joey Slotnick. There goes that minor surge of respect for the man I thought was Merrill for convincingly pulling off such a man of gravity and being impressively capable of such a ridiculous range of roles. Whoops again.
I’ve watched a few more movies lately, most recently Blade Runner. I wasn’t really paying attention though so I can’t really judge it either way. I’ve also been reading quite a bit lately on my kindle – mostly historical stuff about ancient civilizations and a more modern-history book called Descent into Chaos, a fairly opinionated work about Afghanistan and central Asia’s politics and dynamics. The Kindle to me is such an awesome gateway for learning more about things that you don’t know about or are at all interested by. It’s an incredible device when you think about it, a veritable library at your fingertips that is near-perfect in accessibility and design (once you get a light attachment, that is. that’s the only component that they need to add and make standard to the product).
Monte Carlo was pretty fun. The first surprise of the trip for me was how incredibly shitty Delta coach class was. I mean, ok, call me spoiled by noted super-luxury carriers JetBlue and Virgin (or hell, Southwest), but wtf, how does international Delta suck so badly? Delta’s seats are incredibly narrow with terrible legroom and the entertainment system consists of badly placed coach-bus style TVs with one huge screen in the middle that was barely watchable from my seat angles (not like I would have watched it anyway, but still). I slept pretty much the entirety of both legs of the trip so I only had to deal with the awful seats but it was still really dumb. I tried to upgrade my flight on the way back to business class but it was $5700 more to do it. lol. If I can avoid it I’ll never fly Delta again.
On arrival in France, Eric “Sheets” Haber and I took a helicopter shuttle over to Monte Carlo. This was my first time in a helicopter and it was such a cool experience. There were just four passengers in total in the chopper alongside the pilot. The views of France’s coastline and the Mediterranean in general were just amazing (and this only cost like, €150 on average each way). The helicopter rides were definitely some of the coolest parts of the trip. Some pictures from the flight:
Monte Carlo was beautiful. Although I never had an opportunity to walk around the place too much (semi-brag about going deep in the main?) the parts I got to see were incredible. Before I get into the boring poker parts too much, here are some pictures (incl bonus pic of €40 cheeseburger):
As far as the tournament goes, well, let’s just say it was probably the softest poker tournament of the year. So many people were just insanely awful it was hilarious. No number of anecdotal stories really do it justice, but for one off the top of my head – zugwat opens (I think) to say 28k, sb reraises to ~65k, BB taaaanks forever, talking about how tough his decision is, etc, and then makes it 200k. these guys are like 500k deep (not zug). zug folds, sb tank calls. flop is Kxx rainbow. sb shoves, bb SNAPS. bb flips KJ, sb fliips TT. welcome to Europe.
It’s tough to recall more than a few hands on each day of the tournament for me. On day 1, I was seated at a table with a bunch of unknowns to me except for Dan Shak and Neil Channing, whom I didn’t really know at the start but turned out to be a rather nice guy (free plug for your new site Neil : http://www.blackbeltpoker.com). I won a flip for almost all my chips with AJhh vs KQ on a kh-qh-x in like level 3 to double up to 60k and made a few correct hero calls during the rest of the session to end up at around 90k going to day 2. My table got tougher as the day went on with the addition of Jamie Rosen and sn0wman but I didn’t really tangle too much with either of them and just beat up on the weaker players.
Day 2 was a strange one filled with long streaks of folding. My first table was great – nobody known at all and stacks were pretty much ideal for me (blinds at 500-1k). There was some amazing poker here too – you know you’re in a good game when utg open 4x’s and a player reships OTB for like 25bb, and when called, btn raps the table and says “nice hand” before cards are shown down, haha. I had my first decent sweat of the day in a smallish pot when BTN opens, I flat AA in sb, and BB ships for not too much. btn folds, I call. BB has JTss. Out of nowhere an at least 6-man entourage appears, including someone with a video camera, everyone chanting in some language for a jack or ten (presumably). I have to sweat it when he makes a pair and turns an OESD but thankfully he whiffs and I’m up to like 130k.
I waffle between 90k and 150k the next 5 hours or so. I don’t really play many big hands but make a few incorrect small decisions here and there that are fairly meaningless but allow the blinds to catch up with my stack. I get moved from my great table to one with several very big stacks and a few known players – a pokerstars pro named George Danzer (whom I play with the majority of the tournament) and Nenad Medic. At the very end of the day, I get moved to a table of all young internet kids – none I know going into the table – but someone asks “is that JCarver??” so I’m mostly forced to nit it up. I think one of them was bdybldingpkrplyr and I forget who the other two were, but I wasn’t there long before the end of the day, bagging 160K or so in chips.
Day 3 started me again with Nenad and George. Blinds were 2500-5k, giving me about 30bbs to kick off the day. My table seemed really good once more – all unknowns, nits in the correct spots, Nenad on my right (and with 10bbs), but unlike Day 2, Day 3 started out terribly. I very quickly had to r/f two or three times, then when the button shoved 8bb I called with A6o and was crushed by his AQo. Very quickly, I was down to 70k. I got moved a few times very rapidly, accumulating back to 110k or so. I end up at a table full of mostly young euro kids which is pretty good for me with 20bbs. I actually end up doubling through the biggest nit at the table, haha, AK vs QQ, getting me to like 200k.
The next crucial hand comes at the same table when I open ATs in the CO and a big fish calls in the blinds. The flop is AJ2, possibly rainbow but possibly a FD out. The guy bets out fairly large, and I call. The turn comes an 8. He checks, and I check behind. The river pairs the deuce and the guy bets out a lot, maybe 60k – near pot. A live pro friend of mine knew this player and had told me prior to the hand “when he bets postflop, he always has it” and obviously “it” beats me on this board. However, if he had “it” on the flop he’d still have it on the turn and it made no sense to me that he’d stop betting the turn with a set or 2p if he’s that type of player. I thought for awhile longer before deciding to call, and he turbo mucked. For a hero calling addict like me, Monte Carlo was a dream tournament since everyone just made the most unbelievable bluffs so often.
I got moved to a new table with about 250k or so, blinds possibly 3k-6k or maybe a little higher. This table had no real quality opposition at all – everyone is tight, straightforward, passive preflop. We get ITM here (my first 10K+ live score but my second one in april thanks to SCOOP). I run this table over for awhile, accumulating to like 400K or so before a young euro kid with a bunch of chips sits down. I don’t really want to go through the hand I played with him – it’s lengthy, and I’ve discussed it to death – but let’s just say I don’t believe him and call call call and I’m not right for a tooooon of chips (fwiw everyone I’ve talked to says I can’t fold). This puts me down to a whopping 60K at 6k-12k. Sigh incoming.
At my lowest point, I have about 45K after posting the BB and it folds to me in the SB. I ship, silently, and the BB miscounts my stack (by looking at it and not asking for a count), saying to himself “it’s like 80k?” before folding. That puts me a little over 60k. The very next hand, it folds to me OTB and I shove 57o. SB calls, BB says “I wouldn’t have called you with this trash!” and mucks 57o. lol. SB has A8 but I get there on the turn with the five ball and double to like 140k with average around 400k.
We go on dinner break, which I thought would be fairly brutal with 9bb and all but actually wasn’t that bad. I hung out with Shaun Deeb during the break, someone I haven’t spent too much time with in the past but enjoyed spending the dinner break with. We have more in common than I thought – most notably, a passion for poker. A ton of my friends just seem to passionlessly grind or just play because it’s what they’ve been doing – those of us who really seem to love the game seem fairly rare, so it was fun to hang out with a kindred spirit.
On return from the break, blinds increased to 8k-16k/1k(maybe 2k?), I found myself in a decent situation in terms of pushing possibilities. I end up breaking even for a few orbits (with 140k, stealing the blinds is like a 25% increase in stack size), before my first post-dinner break all in occurs. A tight player limps in ep and all fold to me in BB. I look down at QTo. I suppose some people could argue a shove here but I don’t think it’s going to work too often (I don’t think I have any FE). I check. Flop comes Q73 rainbow. I check, ep bets near pot, I have no choice but to shove, he snaps with KQ. turn 7 river A, chop chop! A few hands later, the loose huge stack (of 4betting-KJ fame, earlier in this post) opens to my direct right in the cutoff and I look down at A6s otb. It’s probably close between a push or fold, but with ~130K at 8k-16k vs a guy opening a ton it’s gotta be +ev. I shove and get called by KQ of the same suit, and for the first time in the life of ace-rag vs KQ, ace-rag wins. not a problem wins again.
With about 300K now (and being very happy about this), one hand later it folds to me once more in the cutoff and I look down at 22. With under 20bb, this is a clear shove, so I do. The tight SB calls (ugh), but flips over AK (sweet). The board comes JTx, giving me a nice sweat, but bricks off and I double again to ~650k. The VERY next hand it folds to me in the HJ and I look down at AK. I open to 40k and a different tight player behind me shoves for ~300k. I obviously snap and he has AT. The board bricks out and all of a sudden I have 8 stacks 40 high and then some worth about a million in chips. I will confess to giddiness at this point, haha, I’ve never had such a sick heater live before.
The rest of the day (all two levels of it) was fairly quiet. My table toughened with the addition of more good young players (willcutyou and another), but then I got moved to a new table with nobody known to me but Annette, and she was on my direct left. She has about 500k or so when I got there and I was somewhat worried she’d be a nuisance but she pretty much stayed out of my way (and I nitted it up expecting this anyway, so, no problems here). I lost a little bit to her a few times – once making a rather large laydown BVB correctly – and ended the day with 885k, blinds going to 12k-24k (I think). I met PokerVT pro Spacegravy, too, late on Day 3 – in fact, seat 1 was gravy, seat 2 myself, seat 3 Annette, haha.
Day 4 was pretty standard and I would probably characterize it as boring if not for the looming specter of money ahead keeping emotions electric. 31 players remained at the start of the day. My first table seemed like one of the better ones of the 4 remaining (I love the switch to 8 handed tables on day 3, by the way. such a small but crucial difference). After some minor television stuff (very European – we had to make faces and do theatrics) we were off. I played a bunch of standard hands that I don’t even remember to go from 885K to 1.1M or so when the first tough decision of the day came up.
George Danzer open shoves having just lost most of his stack from HJ 6 handed. I look down at 77 otb. George has shoved 206K, SB has ~600K, BB is Spacegravy with 1.1M. My options are to shove or call, and I really didn’t give it enough thought at the time but felt that the SB was not going to shove here too light (and if he did, I’d just call) and that I could fold to a shove from Spacegravy. In thinking about it at length, shoving is the superior play, but I don’t really hate my plan due to a bunch of other factors I don’t really want to talk about in public. I flatcalled, and before I put the chips in the middle the SB shoved. Gravy folds.
Now, in thinking about how to describe this man’s behavior to others, only one video clip comes to mind:
This is basically what was done to me. This guy was so psyched to show his hand – he was goading me into the pot (”you wanna be a champion? call!”), doing a ton of super super strong live tells, etc. The more I watched this display the lower the chances of him having AK were. The INSTA shove (on a payout bubble), plus all these RIDIC strong live things made me think that he had AK ~5% of the time. I thought about it for a very long time before mucking. George had T8o and the villain did have AK. Sigh. I probably wouldn’t think about it at all if villain had TT or something and I folded correctly but the fact that villain DID happen to have AK AND the fact the board bricked out obviously left a bitter results oriented taste in my mouth for a few minutes (but thankfully we went on break right after, heh). Winning that would have put me as one of the chip leaders with 1.8M or so, but instead I was down to 800k.
With the elimination of George we break down to the final 3 tables. I don’t do much but fold for awhile, breaking even around 700-900k. Blinds rise to 20k-40k, making avg stack worth about 30bb and giving me about 20BB. With 19 left, cutoff opens to 100k, I ship 700k with AQo, and he snaps and shows ATo. There’s about 1.5M in the pot (worth about 400K usd in equity). That makes this the biggest pot I’ve ever played in my life in terms of equity. The cameras surround the table and some authority tells the dealer to deal. The left handed dealer spreads the three card flop facedown, collects them, lifts them up in his left palm, and as he spreads them right to left I see the T doorcard in the shadow of his palm, probably before anyone else. The flop gives me a backdoor fd and sd but the turn is a beautiful-for-him black 5 closing all those opportunities. I brick out, head to collect my money, and I’m back in the hotel room 15 minutes later. I felt absolutely nothing after losing – slight disappointment, at most – which I’m proud of. 15 minutes after that, I was ready to kill Saturday tournaments online (didn’t bc of the terrible internet, but still, haha).
I obviously got really lucky to go as deep as I did and was happy with my run as well as the state of both my tournament game and my live game heading into the WSOP. It would have been nice to win, of course, but all you can do is consistently make the right decisions – which I feel I did for the duration of the tournament. I had a lot of fun in MC and hopefully I’ll have more live success in the cruclal upcoming months.