Is playing in the WSOP Main Event on your bucket list?

I can tell you that, yes, it's on mine, but I did not think I would ever get the opportunity to play unless I won the lottery. I just can't see shelling out ten grand of my own money to play. So when I won the FPN National Championship tournament, Pete asked me, do I want the cash option or the seat in the WSOP main event, it was an easy answer. Of course I'll play!

The main event is played in the convention halls at the Rio. But it is not the only tournament. WSOP had at least a dozen other tournaments going. The venue was huge, but it was also filled to the brim with thousands of people playing poker. There were over seven thousand people in the main event, so many they had to have three day one's. But that was only about 1/3 of the tables. The rest were for other tournaments. The halls had vendors selling everything from special sunglasses to lucky charms. The atmosphere, at least for me, was electric.

I got there Friday and had to stand in line to register. Amazingly the long line moved relatively quickly as people paid for various tournaments. I am still amazed that so many people are willing to plunk down ten thousand dollars to play in the main event. I opted to play my day one on Saturday so I would have several days break until day two. Day one was tough. Everyone started with Fifty thousand in chips. I don't remember a single hand where there was not a pre-flop raise. No limping allowed! Each session lasted two hours, and then there was a thirty minute break. That was barely enough time to rush out, get in line for the bathroom, the rush back. I saw my chip stack get ground down fairly quickly, then I got lucky a few hands to make it through day one with just a little more than starting stack. But it was a grind.


I was dead tired, my brain hurt, and I was depressed because my stack was not in good shape. I needed more chips. I'm glad I had those days to get my head together before day two. Day two was Tuesday. They combined the survivors of day one A and day one B. The format was the same, five sessions of two hours each with thirty minute break in between and a dinner break of ninety minutes. After another long day, I managed to build my stack to a couple hundred thousand or so by the end of the day. I was feeling much better now than after day one.


My plan then became to "survive through day three". I figured I had enough chips to ride day three, not play many hands and make it into the money. Day three combined everyone left. We played extra long to get to the bubble. I made it through, but my stack was whittled down to the nub. I figured I would be out fairly quickly on day four with the ante and blinds. But hey, I felt good because I was in the money. I would walk with a minimum of fifteen large.


Day four came oh too soon, the next day, no rest day. I get a nice bit of luck; I am seated behind the deal. So at least around the table before I am in the blinds. People are dropping out fairly quickly now. They are breaking tables as people get knocked out, and moving people. Just before I am in the blinds, the halt the action and break my table. I get move to a new table, and I can't believe my luck, behind the deal again. I get another round before I am in the blinds.


When I finally get into the blinds I look down at pocket aces. Holy cow, that's the best hand I've seen in four days of play. There is a big stack on the table raising almost every hand and sure enough, he raises pre-flop when it gets to him. Everyone drops until it gets back to me. I smooth call. The flop come an ace. I breathe deep and check the flop. He bets. I smooth call again. Blank on the turn. Check, check. Nothing on the river. Check, raise, I go all in. Big stack calls. I take it down and double up. I'm back in the game.


Turns out he had the last ace. My luck had finally hit. After a few more hands I am up to over half a million in chips. I last a bit longer, chased a nut flush that did not come. I got moved again. Then finally ran out of chips. I cashed out for just under twenty five thousand. I learned quite a bit about tournament play, had a great time, and made some money. Not too bad for my first major tournament. All from free poker. Thank you FPN, and thank you to everyone that supported me along the way.

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