World Series of Poker 2004 — $1,000 No-Limit Hold’em With RebuysOn September 16, 2021 by Margarita Murphy
I really had high hopes for the 2004 World Series of Poker. I was already having a great year in cash games, and my World Poker Tour results were pretty good, too. There is one thing I’ve never really felt like I’ve accomplished in my career, though, and that’s having a big WSOP. By big, I’m talking about making four or five final tables. This would be the first year in which there would be a Best All-Around Player award at the WSOP, and I am a BAPA junkie. I just love those types of races, because it takes a lot more work to win one of them than it does to win just one tournament.
In order to prepare myself for the long hours and mental fatigue, I decided to skip the Bellagio events that led up to the WSOP. Instead, I spent a week in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with my girlfriend and her family. It was the calm before the storm, and I thought it was important to let my girlfriend know that during the WSOP, I’m basically unavailable, for all intents and purposes. As usual, she was extremely supportive and understood that it was my job, and that if I was to do well, I’d need to be focused on poker and nothing else.
I had mixed emotions about the way the first event went for me. There were more than 800 players and I was the chip leader with about 50 players left. I lost one humongous pot that crippled me, and I actually finished 41st! So, even though I cashed in this early event, it was a little bit discouraging. I tried to look on the bright side, though, realizing I’d played fantastic poker all day and my focus was intense — with the exception of that one hand, of course.
My next opportunity to make a score came in the $1,000 buy-in (with rebuys) no-limit hold’em event. I wrote a column a long time ago called “Party Day.” In it, I explained that once every four to six weeks, I used to throw caution to the wind and play every pot for a few hours. I did this back in my $10-$20 days, and quickly realized that if I was going to be successful playing $1,000-$2,000 and higher, it was a habit that I needed to give up. I didn’t give it up entirely, though, as I turned to rebuy events to get my fix!
It was a stress release back then, and it is a stress release for me today. Of course, playing every hand in a no-limit hold’em tournament with rebuys can get expensive in a hurry. When the rebuy period was over, I heard all kinds of rumors about myself: “Hey, did you hear about that kid who rebought something like 30 times?”
“I hear Negreanu went on complete tilt!”
“What an idiot.” (That was actually a dealer who said that.)
“What a waste of money; why wouldn’t he just give it to me?”
Well, I was determined to get the last laugh. I mean, I was just having some fun, and apparently that bothered some people. Whatever. A friend of mine later asked me if it was true. Did I actually rebuy 30 times? “Of course not! What kind of an idiot rebuys 30 times? I was in for the standard … $27,000.”
Seriously, I went a little nutty, even for me. I was making double rebuys hand after hand. I was just so unlucky! I was all in with 10-3 and some guy with 9-9 beat me. Then, I picked up K-5 and lost to Q-Q. It got worse; I got all in with 7-3 offsuit and lost to A-J. (Begin my Hellmuth impression: “I mean, A-J; I lost to A-J. How unlucky am I? Don’t these people know who I am?”)
Of course, I’m kidding. My goal during the rebuy period was to build a big stack by getting lucky. Well, I’m embarrassed to say that despite all of the rebuys, I was broke by the end of the rebuy period and had to make the maximum add-on just to stay in the tournament. “Yikes, that was kind of stupid. Oh, well, it’s time to get serious now!”
The one benefit of all of my craziness was that there was now tons of chips at my table. If I played judi online well now, I believed I’d have a good shot at earning a big stack the old-fashioned way, by actually trying to play well!
By the time the final table was set, I was the chip leader. Of course, if I happened to finish ninth, I’d still lose money for the tournament. Eighth place would make me a profit of about $7,000. Of course, none of that mattered to me very much, as I was after a bracelet and some valuable points for the Best All-Around Player award.
The final table was made up of an extremely tough field: John Juanda, Mike Matusow, Paul Phillips, Ram Vaswani, Lee Markholt, and Brian Strahl were all very competent players I knew. The players I didn’t know well were also worthy opponents. One of them was Gerard Drehobl, who seemed to have my number throughout most of the final table.
In fact, when we got down to three players, it was Juanda, myself, and the “new guy,” Drehobl. Gerard really didn’t get involved much during the final table, and even when it was down to threehanded, it felt like it was Juanda and I battling it out for every pot, jockeying for position.
I think the key hand for me was this one, which I’d like to share with you: With the blinds at $6,000-$12,000 with an ante, Juanda limped in from the small blind. I had a decent hand in the big blind, the 9hearts 8hearts, and decided that I wanted to see a flop, so I checked. The flop came Ahearts Khearts 3diamonds, giving me a flush draw. John led at the pot, betting $24,000, and I haphazardly called. I wasn’t necessarily looking to play a big pot, and since I had position on John, I thought there was a chance I could outplay him if I missed my flush.
The turn brought a 9, a good card for me. Here came Juanda again, though, betting $72,000. That was a pretty big bet at that point, and I wasn’t so sure I was getting the right price to try to hit my flush. However, the thought crossed my mind that if I was lucky enough to make my flush, I could knock John out and take on the inexperienced Drehobl heads up with the chip lead. After Juanda bet his $72,000, he was left with $99,000 for the river.
If I could hit my hand and get that last $99,000 from John, the call seemed well worth it. What finally made my decision, though, was the situation. Let’s say, for example, that it wasn’t John Juanda making this bet. Instead, let’s say I was up against two weak-tight opponents. Playing a big pot in that situation would be silly. I could probably nickel-and-dime or grind out two weak players without risking all of those chips on a draw. Since I have a lot of respect for Juanda’s play, though, the opportunity to eliminate him right then and there seemed too good to pass up, so I called.
Without seeing the river card, John announced, “Wait a minute, I’m going all in in the dark.”
“Really.” I thought, “That seems kind of strange; why would he do that?”
Well, whatever. I still needed to see the river card before I decided whether or not I was going to call if I missed.
The river was no help to me at all, the 5clubs. So, I had to decide if Juanda was crazy enough to be bluffing here. On the turn, I was trying to sell John on the idea that I was calling him with a pair of kings. If he truly believed that I had a pair of kings, I believed there was a slim chance that he might just bluff the river, trying to force me to lay down a king.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that while John can be a wild man at times, he’s not that crazy! I folded my hand, and John showed me the Qclubs. Once I saw that card, it became pretty obvious to me that he was in fact setting a trap for me and had limped in with A-Q.
I ended up catching few hands after that, and finished in third place (Drehobl went on to win). The key concept that I took away from that situation, and the one you should be focusing on, was: The right play depends on many variables, one of which is your opponent’s level of skill. The less skillful your opponent is, the fewer silly risks you should take. Conversely, the stronger your opponent, the more likely you’ll be forced to guess and take some calculated risks. It’s not easy to nickel-and-dime a great player, so if you have the opportunity to take out a great player, it’s sometimes a good idea to take a little the worst of it in order to make the rest of the tournament easier for yourself. While that’s not how it worked out for me on that day, I’m happy with the decision I made at the time; the result is irrelevant.diamonds