A Twitter thread started by Donnie Peters got me thinking about my first World Series of Poker experience. I replied with a tweet in the thread but there is more of the story to tell.
It seems like a lifetime away, but I once played poker for a living. I made good money between home games and online poker. In 2005, I decided to take a shot at the World Series of Poker. It would be my first live poker tournament.
I lived in suburban Atlanta at the time. I booked a flight and took advantage of a Total Rewards offer for Rio. That was back when Rio was still near its prime. It was nice to have the hotel room at the venue.
I chose $1,000 Seven Card Stud 8 or Better
My home game played Omaha split variants. The $1,000 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo event stood out to me. It was the only open WSOP tournament in 2005 with a buy-in below $1,500. I knew the game well and figured many people that entered it would not. This was an understatement. I believe that field was incredibly weak, with maybe half of it was dead money.
Two players at my table had never played stud. Another had never played hi/lo games. There were several other weak players at it. The only person at my table that fully understood the game was Alan Boston. He was to my right. He provided the table entertainment for hours.
I was probably chip leader at some point
I ran over the table, knocking most of the players out, including Boston. When it broke, I found my next table was just as soft. It did not take long at my next table for a poker media member to ask my name and tell me that he thought I was the chip leader. When day one ended, I was around fifth.
There were no apps or easy ways to determine chip counts in that era. You had to go by what the media people told you until the day ended.
I had a hard time sleeping that night. There were dreams of winning the bracelet. I was in a good position to do so but I needed some luck.
Day two begins with tougher tables
We redrew table for day two. The field was noticeably tougher. I drew a table with Paul Darden and Brad Daugherty. Barry Greenstein and Huck Seed were others that passed through. The skill level ran up while I went a bit card dead. I was able to tread water long enough to make the money.
The goal of the tournament director was to play down to a final table. It was tiring. It did not help that most of the dealers had never dealt stud before.
Tournament paused to find dealers that knew stud
When the tournament got down to four tables, we had to pause the tournament due to significant dealer mistakes. The tournament director went into other tournaments and cash games to find dealers that had dealt stud before. That took 30 to 60 minutes. This was pushed hard by Men “The Master” Nguyen, though you could not have found a player that disagreed. The dealer quality was pitiful for such an important part of the tournament.
The new dealers did great. I managed to make it down to the last two tables. I fought for my tournament life.
I got all in and drew out a low to stay alive. A few hands later, there was a massive four-way pot. I got all in early and missed the low but made two pair aces up. Paul Darden made trips and knocked me out in 14th place. There were 595 entries. Here are the results from the event.
It was over, but I did not dwell on what could have been. I was excited about winning $4,875 in a poker tournament. I survived most of day two with some serious competition.
I was paid in chips and told to go to the main Rio cage for a check, as that was my requested form of payment. It was a simple process.
Celebrated at Rio casino
I decided to celebrate with a few drinks at the craps table. I ran into another player from the tournament that made the final table and was done for the day. He wanted to play blackjack, so we went to Rio high limit to do that.
I cleaned up in there for enough to request another check. I never saw that player again and I do not believe, like me, that he ever cashed another WSOP event again.
Mostly retired from poker these days
I entered three other WSOP tournaments in future years. I busted all of them, though I won a last longer in one. I have a few smaller cashes in Binion’s Classic events, including a second place in Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. Hendon Mob has my lifetime live tournament winnings at $8,985.
I guess you could say that I have retired from poker. I lost interest in long live events. I may play a smaller one this year or in the future. I could not be more over online poker after its failure in Nevada. However, I understand that many others still find poker fun, and even profitable.
If you plan on participating in this year’s World Series of Poker or any other tournament, I hope you have a great time. It will not ever be perfect. However, I think the companies that spread these events do a magnificent job. It is a major task to put together and there will never be enough great people to run it all at the same time. Have patience, be courteous to the employees and players, and most importantly, have fun.