Poker Pro T.J. Cloutier Reports from the 2008 WSOP
The official Day 3 of The Big One is starting as I write this blog, and believe me, there's nobody on earth who'd rather be in it than me! But here I sit at home in Dallas playing a sit 'n go on my computer. I'm resting up from playing so much during the WSOP, and getting blanked for the first time since 1982. That took some pep out of my step, which was already painful because my knees need another round of those rooster shots I told you about in a recent blog. The thing that saved me an awful lot of hurt and stress was the scooter the Rio provided for me during the Series. Somebody suggested I get in a scooter race with Doyle, but as bad as I've been running at poker, I wasn't sure that was such a good idea.
During the first two hours of play, I was dealt pocket aces with one opponent sitting behind me. The board came 10-7-5. I bet $2K on the flop and he called. On fourth street I bet $5K and again he called. A red light started flashing in my mind and I said to myself, "I'm done with this pot right now." The jack of clubs slid off the deck on the river, making a flush possible, though at no point did I think he was on a flush draw. He moved on the final card and I folded. He showed me two 7s in the hole.
That pushed me down to about $10K right off the bat. Then I chipped away and chipped away, and built my stack back up to about $17K. That's when I picked up aces again, but with a different result: I doubled up through a very nice female opponent. That put me in pretty good shape with $34K and change. We went to dinner ... and then the story changed.
I had the 10-9 of clubs on the button against a man who'd been playing every single pot. He brought it in and I put a little pop on him from the button. He called. The flop came with the 7-6 of clubs and the 4 of hearts. That gave me two overcards and the straight-flush draw. That's a lot of outs. Unfortunately, I didn't know that I was up against trip 4s at the time. I made a good bet on the flop, he raised a little bit, and I just put him all in for his case $27K. I didn't make a straight or a flush, so there I was sitting with a little stack of around $6K.
And things went downhill from there. I was switched to another table, and moved in with an A-10 ... which would've been an okay hand if I hadn't been up against pocket aces! I'd been feeling pretty good about things at dinner, and less than two hours later I was on the sidelines wondering what the hell happened! But you see, I did something that I always tell people not to do in tournaments. I played a draw. Two overs and a straight draw and a flush draw looked like such a huge hand, but it ain't necessarily so in tournament play. I tell all my students, "Don't play those draw hands, because you still don't have anything. And if you lose, you're out of the tournament." I killed myself doing something that I don't usually do. "You set an example for your students," a friend told me. "Not a good example, but one that exemplifies your philosophy!" Yes, I showed them I was right - big deal!
As today's play begins at the Rio, Phil Hellmuth has $475K and Johnny Chan has plenty of chips; they're both still in the running. And Alan Cunningham is right up there too with $386K and change. Alex Outhred is also there; he and I teach alongside each other in the World Poker Tour boot camps.
James McManus, the author of Positively Fifth Street and one of the finalists who played at the final table with me and Chris Ferguson in the 2000 WSOP, is in ninth place as the third official day begins. Jim is a much better player today than he was back then. He has a lot of experience behind him now, and he plays a good game. So if he catches some cards, he'll be right in the thick of it. Hoyt Corkins has a decent amount of chips, and so does Mike Matusow with $438K.
Of course I think that Phil has the best chance of all of them to win it. He always seems to hang on and do real well in the main event. Cunningham and Corkins have an exceptionally good shot at getting there, too. Naturally, I'd like to see a well-known pro win it this year, so I'm pulling for all these guys.
Watching from the bleachers, this is TJ signing off from Texas to the world.
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