The Big Dance with Dogger9 (Part 6)

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
Part 4--A picture is worth 105,800 chips
Part 5--In the money

Part 6--The biggest laydowns
by Bernard Lee

Day 6: Tuesday, July 12th

I woke, once again, well before my wake-up call. Only fours hours of sleep. ARGH! I tossed and turned for 30 minutes, trying to arrange the heavy curtains so as not let even the slightest ray of sunlight into the room. It was no use. I could not fall back to sleep. As I sat up in the bed, something felt different today -- a kind of unusually bad feeling. I was overcome by the thought that I would get knocked out today. To erase these feelings, I decided to get up and start my usual morning calls. I spoke with my wife and son, Noah. He told me, "Daddy, I love you. Please come home soon." I lost it. I started crying. My wife was worried about me, but I told her I'm okay. She knew that the lack of sleep was taking its toll. I told them I love them, I will be safe and will see them as soon as I can (but hopefully not too soon). Next, I spoke with Dave (my motivational coach) and he could hear in my voice the trepidation I felt ever since I awoke. "Are you okay? Is there anything wrong?" he asked. I told him how the lack of sleep might be affecting my psyche and that I couldn't go back to sleep despite my best efforts. "You've made it past over 5434 people and you need to realize how well you have played to this point," encouraged my eternally positive friend, Dave. "Concentrate on the strategy that has gotten you to this point--focus on getting through the day." Thanks, Dave. This truly helped me through a tough morning.

It was still relatively early so I decided to go out for a short run to wake myself up. As I began to run, negative thoughts continued to swim in my brain. After half a mile, I noticed a covered bus stop in the distance with a gentleman slouched on the bench. I did not think anything of it except as another obstacle to run around. As I approached the bus stop, I saw the gentleman lean over and grab a beer bottle. Suddenly, I realized he was about to throw it -- At me! "Hey," I screamed as I darted away. "Ehhh, get away from me," he bellowed, as he put down the bottle, snickering to himself. In my short look at the gentleman, I saw his glassy and dilated eyes and guessed he was either still drunk from last night or high on drugs. My heart almost skipped a beat. Strange thing, though -- instead of being angry or scared, I started laughing out loud. The whole morning I had worried about getting eliminated from the 2005 WSOP Main Event. Then, all of a sudden, my life flashed in front of my eyes. I realized that I easily could have been on my way to the hospital. Instead, I headed back to the hotel, happy to be safe (as I promised my wife) and unharmed. Heck, I'm actually very wide-awake now, due to the adrenaline rush. I jumped in the shower and felt ready for the day.

I called Max for today's low down. He explained that my 143,000 (143K) chip stack was ironically 143rd of the 185 players remaining -- 40% of the average stack. But, I still had more than 20 times the big blind, so I'm not too short stacked. I need a good break within the first few hours for me to survive. As I departed for the Rio, I kept thinking, "That was a morning to remember!"

As the dealer dealt the first hand of the day, I kissed my family pictures, hoping for a good start. In the first round, I won two blinds uncontested and one decent size pot with AK, bringing my chip stack to 179K as they raced off the 500 chips. Good start, but with 164 people left in the tournament, I held only half the average chip stack. I needed a big hand soon, but I couldn't panic. In previous tournaments, I had taken unnecessary chances earlier than I needed to, either getting caught or becoming pot committed and, ultimately, getting knocked out of the tournament. So, I kept saying to myself, "Be patient. It will come." Just as the break was ending, ESPN's Norm Chad came over to say hi. I gave him a status report and he wished me luck. Boy did I need it! Especially after having Jason Lester (5th place in the 2003 WSOP Main Event and a player I truly respected) move to my table. Thankfully, he sat down to my immediate right and at least I could try to avoid any major confrontations with him. However, all of a sudden, the big hand came. The blinds were 3K and 6K, ante 1K. After an AK vs AK chop and a decent pot where I knocked out a short stack with KK vs JJ, the hand I had hoped for arrived. I was dealt KK in mid-late position. Two people limp in front of me. With 30K already in the pot, I decided to pick up the pot right now, and raised to 50K. Everyone folded to the Big Blind, who declared, "All In!" The limpers folded and it was up to me. My heart raced as I realized that he had me covered and if I lost, I would be out of the tournament. "Well, if it's my time, it's my time. I call." As I flipped over my KK, he shook his head as he flipped over his AQ suited -- I'm about a 67 to 33 favorite. I quickly stood up with my family pictures and rubbed them for good luck. All I kept thinking was No Ace! No Ace! Here comes the flop...(no A)...turn...(no A)...river...(no A). YES!!! No Ace (Sorry I don't remember the exact cards)! I let out a huge yell! I apologized for my scream to Jason and the players to my left: a young man named Kevin McCarty and a very pleasant and friendly Australian named Joe Hachem. There was the double up I had been waiting for and now I had around 410K chips. I was right back in this thing. As I began to stack my pile of chips, I felt someone peering over my shoulder. It's Norm Chad. "Hey, nice pot." I told Norm that he needed to come by more often, as he was becoming my good luck charm.

Luckily, a bit more luck visited me. Shortly after Norm left, I ran into another big hand against a gentleman who was fairly short stacked, but I would still love the chips. My AcJc was up against his KJ. This time I thought, No King! No King! Here comes the flop Kc Q 8c. ARGH! King! But then I realize that I still had 15 outs (9 clubs, 3 Aces and 3 Tens) -- I'm still about a 55 to 45 favorite. As I rubbed my family pictures, the turn brought an unhelpful 4d, which brought me to about a 35 to 65 underdog. The river...2c! YES!!! Now that was a hand made for ESPN! That is a classic back and forth hand that I don't wish on anyone. Once again, I turned around and who do I see -- Norm! I rubbed his jacket sleeve for luck and this became a ritual for the rest of the tournament. This hand allowed me to go into the last round before dinner break with 486K in chips and only 102 of us players remaining in the contest. During the break, a gentleman approached me asking if I had moment. He was a reporter from the Boston Globe and wanted to get a quick interview for tomorrow's newspaper. He informed me that I was the sole remaining player from Massachusetts and that a story featuring me would run in tomorrow's paper. Now this was becoming unreal.

Entering the next round (blinds were 5K and 10K, ante 1K), I felt great. I had gotten the hands I hoped for -- now I just needed to survive. And, survival truly was the key descriptor for this round -- my most memorable of the tournament-- not for any big wins, but for two huge laydowns that kept me alive. The first hand was against Kevin. I was in early position and I picked up KK again! I raised about 35K. Now, it is important to note that Kevin had watched me play solid hands all afternoon and knew I would not raise in early position with nothing. He raised me, but, as my instinct told me, raised an unusual amount, just 60K more. Why only 60K? If he wanted me gone, a larger bet such as an all-in bet was a lot more threatening than 60K. He seemed very calm -- almost too calm. The rest of the players folded to me. I kept thinking, "What a weird bet. He seems so calm and relaxed." He really wants me to call. He must have a really good hand, maybe even a great hand! Does he have Aces? I thought about it for another minute and looked down at my KK. Could I really lay this down pre-flop? Maybe I'm over thinking this? If I double up here, I will have close to a million in chips and be in a great position. But, I kept thinking, what a weird bet amount. I looked down one more time, let out a deep sigh, and decided to follow my gut feeling and do the unthinkable -- lay down my KK! I showed Kevin my hand and told him, "I know you have Aces, so I'm going to lay this down." His protruding eyes told me I was right! As he picked up his jaw off the table, he flipped over his Aces. I jumped out of my seat thankful that I had made the best laydown of my life. As I returned to my seat, Norm showed up again. I replayed the hand for him and proceed to rub his "lucky" jacket sleeve again. Jason and Joe both told Norm, "It is the best laydown I have ever seen in a tournament." I'm not sure about that, but I thanked them for their kind acknowledgement. Also, thank you Kevin for showing me that I was right -- it gave me a ton of confidence in my play for the rest of the day and allowed me sleep that night. As for the other laydown, it seems almost anti-climactic after the last one, but in short, I raised 35K in mid position with QQ. Kevin called me and then Joe re-raised 125K more. After everyone folded, I quickly folded my QQ and Kevin folded his 33 and Joe showed his KK. 2 for 2! Not a significant money-making round, but still the most memorable round of the tournament for sure.

The rest of the night was fairly uneventful. I played very few hands and ended with 377K in chips with only 58 players left. I want to thank Jason Lester for his conversation and kind words. It was truly an honor to play next to him for most of the day. He deserved better when an unbelievable hand crippled him, leading to his eventual elimination from the tournament -- KK vs K8 and the flop came 882. Kevin never recovered from the KK laydown, as he kept staring at my chips thinking that they should have been his and was eliminated shortly thereafter. Thanks also to my work colleague, Todd Mirasola, for flying in to watch me tonight. I had been alone out here in the desert for the last few days and it definitely helped to see a friendly face in the crowd. Finally, Joe and I got to know each other pretty well as we talked about our families and background throughout the day. He was a very solid player as we played a few hands back and forth against one another, but ultimately, we both survived Day 6. We congratulated and wished each other the best for the rest of the tournament. As I was bagging up my chips, a gentleman named Matt inquired about my availability tomorrow morning before the continuation of the tournament at noon. "Bernard? Hi, I'm Matt from ESPN. Do you have some time tomorrow morning to do an interview?" Who me? I was wondering if Matt might have the wrong guy. He assured me that it was indeed me he wanted to interview. After I agreed to meet with him at 11am, I kept thinking how increasingly surreal this whole week was becoming. I headed back to the Rio to get some well-deserved sleep.