The Big Dance with Dogger9 (Part 3)
Note: One of the greatest PokerStars stories to come from the World Series of Poker was that of Bernard "Dogger9" Lee, a Frequent Player Point qualifier who caught everybody's eye as the real deal. Lee has agreed to chronicle his journey for the Official PokerStars Blog. His trip report will be published here over the next several days. Enjoy.
Part 1--Before the Storm
Part 2--Goal Keeping
Part 3--Shuffle up and deal
by Bernard Lee
Day 1: Thursday, July 7th
I was fortunate to have a day off. I firmly believe that Mark (my work colleague) and I had drawn the best day as we could soak in the sights and sounds of the WSOP Main Event on Thursday and then rest on Saturday. I slept in, went for a quick run, had lunch with my college roommate DooJin Kim and his girlfriend and then went over to the Rio to check out the action. Before you even entered, you could hear the omni-present shuffling of chips resonating throughout the room. As I waded through the crowd, I bumped into several people that I knew from Foxwoods. As I continued to nudge by people, I noticed out of the corner of my eye the word "Boston" -- a nametag read "Boston Herald". I introduced myself and we exchanged pleasantries about Beantown. I told him my name and that I was starting tomorrow. He said that he would keep an eye out for me. I told him, "Well, we'll see what happens. It was nice to meet you. I hope you enjoy the WSOP." He was a nice guy and it was cool to see someone from back home amongst this sea of unknown people. I asked one of the floormen named Guppy (a really nice guy from San Jose) how far they were playing that day. I learned that they would play down to 650 players no matter how long it took. He believed it would take at least 7 levels and possibly longer to reach the 650 goal by the end of the night. That meant ending the night around 1-2am and after an 11am start. Whew! Quite a long day. So, I decided to go back to the hotel and make it an early night.
Day 2: Friday, July 8th
I woke up at 9:00am, excited as a kid on Christmas morning. I had played in other large tournaments before including their Main Events -- Mid-America Classic, World Poker Finals, Trump Classic, WSOP Circuit Tournament in Atlantic City (where I had my only cash of my career -- 22nd out of 650 which cashed $1570), New England Poker Classic. But, these were nothing like what I saw now, with the sheer numbers of participants and the unbelievable numbers of spectators. Mark and I grabbed a quick breakfast, but I really couldn't eat much because of my nervousness. After forcing down some scrambled eggs, toast and a glass of orange juice, we decided to head over to the Rio. Arriving around 10:00am, I decided to stroll around to review my notes in my notebook. I had read numerous books over the past several months including books by McEvoy, Harrington and Brunson and I had taken copious notes. At about 10:45am, I went to my table and sat down. It seemed to be a very nice table draw, as I recognized no famous professionals at my table. I initiated my opening routine that I started at the New England Poker Classic (NEPC) in March 2005. I cleaned my sunglasses, put out my lucky medallion from Foxwoods (last year, I won my first two satellites using it as my card cover and I've used it ever since) and most importantly, took out of my wallet the pictures of my family. Back then at the NEPC, it was only my son and wife, but now I added another picture to the family -- my baby girl. My rationale of using the pictures was no matter how bad the beat is or how stressful the wait is for someone to fold or call -- how bad can my life be if I have my family smiling at me! My photos have worked so well that before every round, I kiss the pictures in a special routine: kiss my son, then my daughter on the front picture, then open up my pictures and kiss a different picture of my son, then kiss another picture of my daughter, then finally kiss a picture of my wife. (My wife says it almost resembles Nomar Garciaparra and his glove routine at the plate.) I did this before every round, every day! It makes me feel that I am close to my family even though I'm far away.
The day started with announcements and the singing of the national anthem -- made me feel like it truly was a great sporting event. This all happened right next to my table. It really made me feel that the WSOP Main Event had started. Around 11:30am, those famous words were spoken, "Shuffle up and deal!" We are told that we will play 7 full rounds and 20 minutes into level 8. UGH! We won't finish until around 2 am. With these daunting pieces of news, I had to focus on my chip goal for today, which was 30,000, as that would be the average chip stack for any player who would get out of the day. My dream chip stack would be about 60,000. I've noticed on PokerStars that if you have double the average stack, you are often in an excellent position.
I couldn't have asked for a better start. In the first round, I began with JJ, 55 (folded to a large re-raise), AKs, KQs, and AQs, winning 4 of the 5 hands and jumping up to 12,500 in chips. This start really calmed me down. I was pleased to have gotten off to such a fortunate start. The next two rounds were fairly uneventful, as we had a very tight table, and very few flops were seen. I picked up several pots along the way and built my chip stack nicely. I did notice, however, that the gentleman to my right was a very solid player. I knew I had to avoid confrontations with him. I found out later that he was a pro named Hilbert Shirey, who owns 3 WSOP bracelets. He was a nice guy and it was a pleasure to play with him.
One memorable hand happened in the 4th round. Blinds were $100-200, ante was $25. I had TT in mid-late position and raised to $700. The person to my left raised me back for $1800 total and with a healthy chip stack ($25K), I called. We were to see a rare flop. AT2 rainbow. I bet $5K because if he had an Ace, he might think I'm overbetting the pot to steal it and push all in or at least call. I was almost 100% positive he did not have AA. He called the bet. Turn 2. I pushed all in for my remaining 19K. He thought about it for a long time and mucked AK (just what I thought). He only had 10K left and he said that he almost called. Too bad! Later in Round 6, I had 2 hands within 15 minutes that really helped continue my upward trend. TT again and flopped another set and beat KQ (good amount of chips as he called my pre-flop raise). Also, JTs in BB and flopped KJJ and bet accordingly to take about 10K. Then, my last significant hand occurred late in Round 7. I limped in with 66 in mid position. Flop 542. I bet 1500. Early position re-raise to 5000. This player had over valued hands previously so I put him on 2 high cards or he had paired one of the flop cards, probably the 5. Nevertheless, I think my 6's are good. With a healthy chip stack, I decided to call. Turn 8. He checks, I check. River 8. Check. Check. He flipped over 95 (top pair) and my 66's take the hand. As the clock beeps down, I begin to count my large chip stack. After 15 hours of play at 2:45am, I finished the round with WOW! -- 67,150! What a start. I couldn't have asked for anything more. Well, First or Short-Term Goal -- CHECK!
Even more good news, my buddy, Mark Hanna, had made it through Day 2 with exactly 20,000 in his first major tournament. Congratulations Mark! You deserve it. We were both on Cloud Nine. Since we had the next day off, we both indulged in a celebratory drink, laughing and telling each other stories about our hands. After an hour of reliving the excitement, we went back to our rooms. Before I went to sleep, I decided to call my family and share the good news. My wife was happy for me and glad that I was enjoying myself, but not really understanding the impressive size of my chip stack. My daughter cooed to me over the phone and my son once again asked me to come home soon. No better way to go to sleep. A great start to the WSOP Main Event and a loving chat with my family! Life couldn't be better! Good Night!