Saturday, August 13, 2011

At The World Series of Poker: The Rest Of The Story

Lady GaGaImage by ama_lia via FlickrAt The World Series of Poker: The Rest Of The Story

I thought I would share some interesting notes and observations from the WSOP.

1. How players were selected for the featured tables.
I am not sure what was done the first few days, but everything was random for the Day 5 and Day 6 seats. At the end of the day, each table would high card for the button and the floorman would deal out table assignments for the next day.

It may be that when someone got knocked out at one of these featured tables, the floor would pick a poker celebrity or a big stack to move to the feature table. I was never selected--which was fine by me.

2. Women poker players.
It was funny how many women wore tops that revealed cleavage. It was even funnier when one of these ladies would wear sunglasses--like any guy at the table was checking out the color of their eyes.

Frankly, women poker players should have a big edge at the WSOP since they are such a rarity at the main event. I believe only 5%. But I guess they don't fully understand the mind of poker males. A friend of mine told me to start a school for women poker players.

3. Behind the scenes with ESPN.
It is interesting what happens at the WSOP to accommodate TV. When two or more players are all-in, the dealer stops dealing and he shouts "all-in at table number ..." One of the ESPN staff quickly decides if he wants this all-in recorded.

If not, the dealer continues the hand. If he does, the ESPN guy calls one of the camera crews to come to the table. The crew includes guys with a mike and two cameras.

After the crew is ready, the ESPN guy taps the dealer on the shoulder to deal the flop. The flop is done and the cameras focus on any player reaction. When ready, the ESPN guy gives the okay to the dealer for the turn, etc.

ESPN does a super job to make sure the crew arrives quickly so it does not slow the game down. Although, the reality is that there is more drama when the cards are dealt so deliberately.

4. ESPN and me.
I may appear on the Day 6 showing of the Main Event. Since I did not curse or go nuts when that Ace on the turn knocked me out, it is a long shot.

5. Mega satellite into the Main Event.
I went to Vegas with enough money to enter the three $550 mega satellites--one on each day. Frankly, I had a feeling that I was going to win a seat and get to the final table.

Day 1: I was very unlucky and got knocked out of the first satellite.
Day 2: I was very unlucky and got knocked out of the second satellite.
Day 3: This was my last shot at winning a seat. When we went to the first break, I was very unlucky and as a result, I only had enough chips to cover the small blind and 2 antes.

The first hand after the break, I was UTG+3. I was dealt 8-6 offsuit and folded. The flop was 8-8-6! Damn! I thought I blew my one chance.

The second hand UTG+2, I was dealt J-5 offsuit and went all-in. Enough to cover the small blind. I won when a 5 hit the flop and the other two players had Ace high.

After this hand, I got hot. It was incredible! "Never give up, never surrender!"

6. I was in Vegas for 14 Days!
I have never been in Vegas that long before. After the three days of satellite play, I played the next day in the WSOP Main Event. After I survived that day, I had to wait 3 days to play again.
And there was a wait after Day 2, and a day off after another day of play.

I made about three trips to a nearby laundromat. I went to see the Rat Pack at the Rio (don't waste your time). And, I went to a forgettable movie at the Palms.

Since I am very superstitious, I ate the same things every day. I am not going to have another Western omelette at the Rio or Ultimate Salad at TGIF again! Oh, well not until next year :-0

7. The competition in the Main Event.
Frankly, there was a very wide range of poker talent. The table composition was the most important factor in my performance.

The first days I was fortunate in that the competition at my tables were typical; meaning, the styles were consistent with what I've experienced in the Bay Area.

A lot of the players in the early days, though, seem to implode by Day 3 or Day 4. Perhaps it was the pressure. Perhaps it was the level of the competition, as the later days had a higher percentage of strong players.

Frankly, I felt the pressure the first two hours on Day 5, and frankly, all of Day 6.

8. What surprised me the most.
I was most surprised by the fact that the pros and internet kids were so bad at reading hands. It got to be so bad, I was laughing inside.

On Day 6, players who had to make a big decision would sometimes take one minute or more contemplating what to do. And after all that time, these players would make the wrong decision. It was funny, until...

My opponent made a terrible decision after studying my 3 bet pre-flop for a long time. He went all-in with A-T, thinking, I guess, that I would fold. But, I held pocket Kings and I was committed to the pot with almost 33% of my chips invested.

9. Can you win at the WSOP?
Yes. I believe anyone can win a WSOP bracelet. The thing is that most players continue to play in their comfort zone--without experimenting in order to get better. Get out of your comfort zone. Learn how the poker pros play. Learn how the internet kids play. Try these styles, and how to play against them.

Admittedly, I was not ready for the internet poker players who liked to 3 bet pre-flop with a wide range of hands. It took me until the dinner break to figure out how to play against them.

You can win it all. And, if you fail like me, you can still walk away with over $100,000.

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Anonymous said...

So how do you play against the light 3 bet crowd?

Congrats too!

Mitchell Cogert said...

Great question!

First, position and table image is important. In position, I will call. Out of position, I will move all-in even if it is totally overbetting the pot. Or fold. My table image is not of a young online player, so when I play back or call, it gets more respect.

Second, I want to know these guys betting patterns when they are called on the flop. If the lite 3-bettor gives up after their c-bet is called on the flop, I can take down the pot when he checks the turn.

If the guy is one who can fire away on every street with nothing, I will need a pair or draw on the flop to call him down. If he checks the river, I will take a deep breath and make a thin value bet.

Overall, these guys are the toughest to play against but they provide a great source for adding lots of chips, once you know their betting patterns. It often means I have to be patient in early stages in order to deteine their betting patterns.

I Joe this helps!

Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing your WSOP experience with us. Very interesting and instructive. Any quick tips on reading hands? Or maybe that's material for another book. I have yet to find a book that extensively deals with that subject.

Mitchell Cogert said...

Here are two tips:

1. Watch players hands and how they make a bet. A player often changes how they put chips in a pot when they are weak to get you to fold.
Example: a player slides his chips into the pot with a draw or monster on the flop and turn. And, on the river, he flips the chip into the pot. That means something--and it most likely means he is bluffing. If he had the monster, he would place chips into the pot the same way.
2. The speed of a bet
Example: Players on a draw will quickly call a flop bet. If he has something else, he will spend time to react to your bet. Or a flush card hits the river, and the lead bettor bets without thinking what to do. This usually means he does not have the flush.
Watch and record the WSOP coverage and focus on reading hands using these two tips. If needed go back and watch the hand again to see if these two tips come into play. You will spot them more and more.
Example: episode 4: negreanu vs blonde haired guy and Daniel calling down his river bluff when he changed how he placed his last bet into the pot.
Oh--don't make these mistakes in your game.
I hope this helps!

Dave said...

With reference to the comfort zone...

I play online... and I'm very much aware of the limitations of my level of thinking about the game... so, how do you make the transitions from abc player to a-to-z player, from mostly focusing on your cards to having the ability to know what you opponent thinks he knows about your hand etc?

Obviously I get flashes of it, when you "just know" how your opponent will respond if you act in a certain way.... but it's just not a conscious controllable experience at the moment.

I'd like to transition to a point where I felt like I understood the workings of the game rather than predominantly working from imperfect memory of the pattern book of plays (totally excellent as yours is).

I think what I am getting at is that I'd like to evolve as a player rather than feeling like I am going along at the same level. What processes/thoughts help you make the quantum leap in understanding?
What enabled you Mitchell to be able to isolate all those strategies into a usable framework? How did you go about thinking it through so deeply and clearly? How does one break out of the mental comfort zone of playing automatically according to whatever stuff you've learned and remembered to the point where you are actually conscious enough to initiate new plays and ideas? Do you get what I mean?

... do I get what I mean? ;-)

Online Roulette said...

The World Series of Poker plans to stage a card tournament next year at levels never reached before by even the world's biggest high rollers.

Mitchell Cogert said...

I totally get what you mean.
Here are some suggestions:
1. Every time you enter a tournament work on one facet of your game.
Example: Focus on the cards shown by the players and find one or two who overplay their hands, that is, they raise with hands that are not strong. Next time, one of these gy raise, three bet him.
2. Get out of your comfort zone
Example, when you enter a hand, don't ever call. Raise or fold. Another example: promise to use th squeeze play at least once in your next event.
3. Improve your hand reading ability by using Negreanu's exercise of raising every hand pre flop in a small limit holdem game and then seeing how players react to you, and how you can figure out how or if you can beat them on the different streets.

Overall, you may lose chips and money doing these things but it will improve your game when you find something that works and doesn't work, and you get a better sense of how players think and how they think about you.

Stop thinking about just the cards you need--that is what most players do and they may as well as be playing bingo. Experiment with your game and how to play the players more than their carew Take more risk and you will learn
more and improve.

Oh yeah, watch Ben Lamb play on the WSOP coverage. It is an excellent learning experience to seem how he gets chips by playing his opponents.

I hope this helps.

Dave (again!) said...

Thank you that's great advice, I'll put it into action and see how I get on...

You should think about moving to a subscription model -- I'd pay a *reasonable* :-) fee a month to get more regular trainings and advice from you..... I appreciate you have offline businesses to run, it's just that you are the most succinct poker trainer out there that I have come across...

Thanks again!

Mitchell Cogert said...

Dave, thanks.

I am learning just like you and working on my game all of the time.

Most players sit down at a poker table and play poker doing the same things over and over.

I try to sit down at a poker table and work on improving one skill each time. It is difficult to stick to it and not fall into a routine, after all, poker is fun.

Anyway, I won't be doing a paid subscription model.

Oh, one more suggestion, when you are not in a hand, and the hand is done, think about what could have been played differently so the losing player may have ended up winning the hand. It may add a new move or two into your arsensal.

Best of luck,

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Thanks for these ideas on how to win a poker tournament. Many would be happy to read this.

What's Your Poker IQ?