Monday, July 26, 2010

Heartland Poker Tour at Majestic Star

No cigar for Mr. Wegas.

I left home Thursday about noon, and came back Sunday evening. This trip was fun. I played a lot of poker, killed the cash game, but no luck in tournament. It's all my fault. I was not patient enough. I played for three hours but not many hands. Tournament had four groups of 100 players and each group played eight levels, down to about 35 players that will continue playing Sunday. Final six will play Monday for prizes. Forty places are paid and first place gets $144,000. Friday morning in group A I noticed the last year champion Bob Whalen from Cudahy, WI. I went to say hello, and told him "don't make a habit of winning this." Bob smiled saying "I'm trying."

I decided to buy in $1,350 for Friday evening group B. We started with 15,000 chips, and after a few good starting hands (pocket sevens, AK ..) I had to fold to a bigger raise on the flop, I was down to 11,000. Than came a good gambling hand and I decided to cal pre-flop re-raise. I was sure he had pocket aces, and decided to gamble with my "aces cracker". Flop was No hearts, but I called his 1,000 bet. On the turn came and I raised his bet to 3,000. He called fast, and I knew he is not folding on the river. The river was and I made a bet 6,000. I don't know what scared him (board paired) and he folded. I had 18,000 felt that my game is coming back.

Well, not that fast. For next 90 minutes I didn't win one pot, and lost some chips chasing the flush. After the break I had 14,000. First player busted out and we got a new player with a big stack. I picked up Blinds were 300/600 and the new player made it 1,200 UTG. Min raise ... what is it? Small pair or a bad ace ...? Everyone folded so I decide to gamble and pushed all in. He was thinking forewer and when I made impatient move he said "call" and fliped Board was ten high, and I had enough strength to say "good luck guys".

Phil Hellmuth may question my pre-flop all in move, but I don't play like Phil. Phil doesn't play like I do, and Phil has eleven bracelets.

While I was playing tournament three of my poker friends arrived from Madison, Ted, Sven, Dan W. They played some satellites, and the cash game. That night I stayed in the cash game till 5am. After midnight game was wild with some local guys. We were raising $25 pre flop with 92, and played any two cards. To illustrate the game, here is the last hand of the night. I had and called $20 pre flop raise. Three of us saw the flop Small blind checked. The BB made it $50, and both of us called. On the turn came and all three of us went all in. SB had and BB had and the river card was .

Saturday and Sunday I did good in the cash game. Sven made it deep in the tournament, and when I left he was in the last 44 players. Later I found on the web site that he finished 24th. Click for the results

WSOP 2010 Madison mystery connection solved

‘I just won 400 grand and I'm angry'
or "Who is Benjamin Statz"

When you've just been handed a check for $396,000 -- you could have had a duffel bag full of cash, but you opted for the check -- and yet you still need to blow off steam, who are you going to call?

"There's not a lot of people you can phone and say, ‘I just won 400 grand and I'm angry,'" Ben Statz was saying last week. "So I called Annie."

That would be Annie Duke, the poker legend, and not only does she understand the vagaries of the game, she was partly responsible for Statz, a 1995 Madison East High School graduate, playing in the 2010 World Series of Poker (WSOP) in the first place.

"Annie understood," Statz said. "She made me feel better. She said, ‘You made all kinds of great plays. Don't beat yourself up over one bad play.'"

Statz's anger quickly faded as the reality of what he accomplished in a magical week of playing poker in Las Vegas sank in.

Statz, 32, went out of the tournament on July 17, placing 16th out of the 7,319 players who paid $10,000 to play in the WSOP Main Event. It was Statz's first Main Event, and a remarkable performance for someone who got hooked on the game a decade ago but hasn't played many tournaments lately.

It was all the sweeter for the presence of his parents, DuWayne Statz and Kris Knight of Madison, who flew to Vegas once Ben had survived deep into the tournament.

Also in attendance was Ben's girlfriend, Katy Lederer, who was introduced to Ben by her sister -- Annie Duke. This is a story with some interesting twists.

Statz, who today lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., was an excellent student at East, and at UW-Madison as well, where he earned degrees both in economics and molecular biology.

He eventually landed with a Philadelphia-based securities trading firm called Susquehanna. Part of the company culture involves poker -- the idea that the game can provide lessons in risk management and reading opponents.

Statz, who had been introduced to the game at UW-Madison by a friend, Cero Zuccarello, began playing more seriously. He played online and at casinos in Atlantic City. When Statz spent some time in Susquehanna's Ireland office, he won a charity tournament in Dublin.

It was online through a mutual friend that he first met Annie Duke, and they made an arrangement where Duke would give Statz lessons in return for a percentage of his winnings.

When Statz returned from Ireland -- today he and two partners have their own trading firm, with Ben based in New York -- Duke introduced him to her sister, Katy Lederer, and eventually Ben and Katy started dating.

Annie and Katy's brother, Howard Lederer, hosts a charity poker tournament in Las Vegas prior to the WSOP, and this year, Katy suggested they attend and that Ben enter the WSOP Main Event.

Statz hadn't been playing much poker, but a second place in an Internet tournament whetted his appetite and he took the $10,000 plunge.

As the Main Event at the Rio Casino progressed, Statz found himself slowly rising to the top tier of chip holders each day. He didn't do anything spectacular, but he didn't make many mistakes. His college friend, Zuccarello -- who lives in Madison and is a seasoned tournament player himself -- helped by providing information on the other players at the tables where Statz was seated.

"The mental drain can get to you," Statz said of the long week of intense card play. "But I'm used to not sleeping very much."

Statz's father arrived in Vegas on July 16 and his mother the following morning, when the field had been trimmed to 27. They got to see the media swirl and excitement that happens when the WSOP is down to three tables.

Statz went out shortly after losing a big chunk of his chips in a hand he dropped to the veteran player Adam Levy. It was his play of that hand that haunted Statz later. Duke told him to forget it, and he has, pretty much.

Back in New York and back at work, Statz said he still regards poker more as a hobby than anything, although we may see him in a few more tournaments, and certainly another WSOP.

"It was so much fun hanging out," he said, and, in the end, the 400 grand wasn't bad either.

Contact Doug Moe at 608-252-6446 or His column appears Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.  Click for original story.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bad play pays off for Mr. Wegas

Quote: Edvard G. Robionson in The Cincinnati Kid as Lancey Howard:  "Gets down to what it's all about, doesn't it? Making the wrong move at the right time." Clcik for video

It's Friday about midnight. Previous post described the action we had at the table. I was in for $500, and I had over $1,000 in front of me when the hand of the night happened.

The "wrong move" is my middle name.

We had two new players at the big blind and the dealer's button. I was in small blind and even my  looked good I didn't want to raise. It was limped pot pre flop with only $10. Under the gun was the player who was lucky most of the night. He hit a few river cards and had about $1400. The fifth player was always complicated Baraboo Bob.

I flopped two pair, but decided to check. Big blind checked and UTG made a $5 bet called by Bob and the dealer.  I decided to wait for more money in the pot before raising, and also I didn't want to be pot committed and surprised by a flush card. I just called the bet, and BB folded.

The turn card couldn't help anyone, so I checked hoping someone will make a "move".  I didn't have to wait long. UTG made a $100 bet. I'm showing here his pair of nines, but we never saw his hand. Later he said he had pocket nines. Bob also claimed one nine, so the turn card was one outer. I thought Bob is fishing here when he called $100, so he was no danger for me. I was confused with $100 bet into $30 pot. I know the player, and usually he overbets the pot with his flush or straight draw. I saw him doing that many times. The best hand I could put him on was

Than boom ... the new player on my right said all in for $320.  OK something is wrong here. It was limped pot and now there is $550.  I newer saw him before, and I had to put him on a set.  I had only $7 in the pot.  I looked at my stack. I had over $1000 and if I lose here $320 I'll have $700, still $200 plus from my buy in.  There was something in the air and I decided to call.  I was sure UTG player will cal and I hope to get some chips from him.  I know many more conservative players would fold here, but not Mr. Wegas. Then another boom .... UTG said "I raise $320 more."  Wait a moment ... min-raise (even it's $320), what is that?  Bob folded.  For two minutes I was thinking why he didn't push all in.  What does that raise mean?  Why am I still in this hand. Why didn't I go home with my profit? I hate this game, ... I'm all in.

He called. Total pot was $2500. When the case ace hit the river I didn't realise what happened. He screamed, and slamed his cards in the muck, took the rest of his chips and walked away repeating "two pair ..."  We didn't see his hand. He said he had par of nines. He was so loud and I had to reply with "And you want to crack my two pair with pair of nines?"  Player on the button had the same hand so we split the main pot. I took over $1900.

Yes, I admit I got lucky but ....  Let me tel you something. I am convinced that he missed his draw, and made up pocket nines.  Also this was not ordinary game. We were playing for hours big pots with any two card, so my two pair had to be good. 

Quote Edvard G. Robionson in The Cincinnati Kid as Lancey Howard:
Gets down to what it's all about, doesn't it? Making the wrong move at the right time.

My name is Mr. Wegas, and I am "the wrong move" addict.

Fish Fry at Ho-Chunk

Friday night after work normal people go home, have a fish fry and a few beers with their friends. I'm not that normal, and usually I spend my Friday night frying a different kind of fish at the Ho-Chunk casino poker room.

Yesterday I arrived from work about 5pm, and Baraboo Bob called me to join his table. The table was packed with action players, and chips were flying around since noon.  I lost my initial buy-in $300 fast when my all in on the turn with was beaten by the “lucky guy” and his . Board was . Re-buy $200.

A few minutes later “lucky guy” went all in on the turn with against Roger and his set of sixes. On the board we had . River card was a heart, and the pot was close to $1200.

I had two interesting hands with Baraboo Bob. In the first hand Bob raised pre-flop with  and I called with on the button. On the flop Bob made a $50 bet, and folded to my all in for about $170. I showed my deuce.

Little later on the button I had , so I raised $10. Bob made it $50. The flop gave us a rainbow . Bob check-raised me $100. I looked at him and the flop for a minute and said all in. Bob showed and smiled when he saw my nines. Nice try buddy. This started my comeback.

It's always funny when you hit a big flop and someone can't let go their pair. I called $10 pre flop raise with . Flop hit me, and the only question was if the raiser had pocket queens. He made a  $10 bet and  I raised to $40. He hesitated and called and I knew that the pot is mine. Than funny card came and he checked. What now? I didn't want to scare the customer so I bet only $15 and he again just called. The river card was  he checked, and called my $50 bet with his .  I got $250 pot and the money clip with Ho-Chunk logo for quads.

After a few hands the same player raised again $10 pre flop. I looked at I and raised to $40. Rodger, who was not lucky tonight, but played bad as usual went all in for $172, and the raiser called with $150. I said "let's gamble" and called. Original raiser showed . The board was seven high, rainbow. Pot was about $500. Rodger mucked his hand and walked away.

For the best hand of the night check the next post "Bad play pays off for Mr. Wegas"