Professional Poker Player, TJ Cloutier, on the Foxwoods World Poker Tour Event...
In my last blog, I handed out kudos to some young players who got great results in the WPT's championship event at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods. (And I promised to tell you how I busted myself out of it). This time I'm handing out kudos to Mike Ward, the tournament director, and his staff. They did a helluva job!
The Foxwoods structure was absolutely great. They gave you $30K in chips to start with an hour and a half rounds. To make it fair for all the players, they stretched it out over a period of time. There were two "first" days, and after that we only played five levels a day, so we were finishing at 8:30 at night. That was good for the older guys because everybody could get plenty of rest. This schedule was carried out for the first three days of the tournament (actually, four days because there were two "first" days). Then on the fourth day, we played five levels again and got the action down to 19 players
The levels were well designed, with added increments that you never see in these big tournaments. We went from 200/400 to 300/600 to 400/800 to 1000/2000 instead of the usually 600/1200. And as the blinds rose slowly, so did the antes. We had a 100-ante for two levels, then a 150-ante for two levels, a 200-ante for two levels, a 300-ante for two levels and so on. When the blinds became really high, the structure remained smooth so that instead of going right to 6K/12K, we had a 5K/10K level. This structure gave us plenty of play. With 575 players, there were 17-point-something million in chips in play, so you had the chance to get a hold of a big stack of chips. The further you went in the tournament, the more play you got for your money so that you weren't in jeopardy all the time. I wish they'd had this structure in last year's World Series of Poker.
Now that I've passed out all these accolades to the poker staff, let me say that the casino itself is not catering to poker players the way it used to. Some of us players who are rather well-known used to be able to use a special key and go up on the 8th floor to the concierge lounge, where we could enjoy a nice food spread and drinks and just relax. My wife Joy really enjoyed the fireplace and the big TV up there, too. But the casino took that away from the poker room this year. Now they have it reserved strictly for the high rollers in the pit.
There are a couple of rules that some of the Indian casinos have that other casinos don't have, and their dealers are thoroughly trained to carry out the protocol. Sometimes, they might take some of the rules a bit too far, however. For example, on the third or fourth hand dealt in the tournament, the flop came 5-5-3. On the very next hand dealt, the flop came 3-3-5. I wasn't playing the hand, but I made a statement something like, "Well, the same cards are coming out on the flop except in reverse." And the dealer warned me, "Sir, you can't talk about a flop while the hand is in action." I almost fell out of my chair. I thought that was taking the rules way too far. I wasn't talking about the play of the hand, just making an observation about the flop. That night I happened to mention it to Mike because I thought it was funny. "Well," he said, "we teach them to watch everything, but that was carrying it a little too far."
The tournament staff bent over backwards to please us, and the floor people were very consistent with their rulings and decisions. Overall, I had a very nice experience at Foxwoods. The only thing wrong with it was that I played one hand badly. Here's how that came about.
Remember from my last blog that I was at the table when Nick Schulman's 10-7 play happened, the hand in which he called an all-in raise on the flop with a flush draw (he had the 10-7 of diamonds) and made his hand on the turn. Nick plays a lot of hands, so I'd been going over the top of him for three days and figured he was getting pretty tired of it. To tell you the straight truth, when I went over the top of him with pocket jacks in the small blind, and then he came back over the top of me with pocket aces, I put him on A-K for sure.
What I did or didn't put him on doesn't really matter, though. The lesson I want you to get out of this story is that it doesn't matter what you think in that kind of spot, there's no reason to risk the whole tournament on that hand. I only had two jacks, and I don't think I've ever put in the fourth raise with two jacks in my whole life. But I did this time. Nick hit an ace on the turn to make trips, and give me a four-flush with my jack/clubs. Then, to make me a little bit madder at myself, I made a flush on the river and thought I'd won the hand. I hadn't noticed one little detail: the 8/clubs also paired the board making a full house for Nick. So here I'd made a backdoor flush and lost the pot anyway. But still, that's not important to the point of this story.
The point is that I had no excuse for being in that pot in the first place. I played a hand I didn't need to play, a concept I've been preaching against for years, telling people not to do that. Just goes to show that nobody is infallible. There was a nice purse up for grabs in this event, $1,704,986, but I made a schoolboy mistake and paid for it, that's all. I wound up taking home $72,955 for 12th place.
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