The RP: Survive and Advance at the World Series of Poker

WSOP Day 2As millions of Americans celebrate our nation’s birthday with parades, grill-outs and firecrackers, I will be stuck in a cavernous, over-air-conditioned, non-descript warehouse, leaning over cushioned tables with several hundred other exhausted, bleary-eyed (mostly) men.

And having the time of my life.

Yes, in a few hours, we will begin Day 2 of the World Series of Poker’s “Little One for One Drop” tournament, and I’m still in the hunt.  (Read more about the tournament and the incredible charity it supports in my Daily Beast report from last year’s event.)

Precisely, with over 14,000 chips, I’m in 529th place out of the 887 remaining players who have so far survived 10 hours through a field of more than 4400 poker-star wannabes.  (Is it fitting that I built my political career around the creation of a 529 pre-paid tuition plan in Kentucky? Naahhhh.)

I am really lucky to be here, and that’s not just some Gehrig-like humility.  A little over an hour into the event, I made the stupidest, most regrettable move that I have ever attempted in my three years of World Series events.  I was dealt an Ace-10, and the flop revealed a 10, 8 and 6.  The betting got intense, and a talky, charismatic Californian at the other end of the table with a larger stack than mine ultimately made a very large bet.  I impulsively went all-in, having the top pair on the board (10s) and the biggest kicker (an Ace).

However, with all of the betting, I should have realized that I did not have the best hand.  In retrospect, it was very possible that the Californian had flopped trips (three of a kind).  Indeed, when he called me and turned over his cards, he held an 8-6, therefore having two pairs.

I was in serious danger of leaving the tournament VERY early.  I thought I had 6 “outs” — there were 3 Aces and 3 tens left in the deck that could possibly save me.  When the turn (fourth card) revealed a 4. I had one chance left.  Finally, came the river.  Praying in vain for an Ace or a 10, instead another 4 appeared.  I got up thinking my tournament ended with a stupid mistake.

Then, the player to my right quickly informed me that I had just won.  I was now the holder of two pair — tens and fours, and my two pair was larger than the Californians.  I had doubled up through my stupid luck.

The poker miracle served also as a wake-up call. I became a lot more focused on my conservative/aggressive game (playing only the top hands and playing them with boldness) and played perhaps my best poker ever.  I was up to over 20,000 chips, and was poised to jump to 26,000 until I got rivered in an all-in against a short stack.  (He had only two cards that could save him from elimination, and one of them showed up.) Still, while the loss took me down to 14,000, I’m still very much in the game, starting today in a slightly below average stack position.

So, now it’s time for your help.  Yesterday, I wore my lucky outfit — my Cincinnati Reds Joe Morgan jersey and No Labels ball cap.  I’m wondering if I should wear it again (with different undergarments, of course!) — or if I should switch up to my Anthony Davis UK jersey or my Jeremy Lin Harvard jersey.  Please provide your counsel in the comments below.

Meanwhile, if you need to get away from Fourth of July festivities, you can follow the action here at the WSOP Web site, starting at 4PM EDT/1 PM PDT.


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