That brutal, masochistic thing they call the World Series of Poker is once again up and running. From start to finish, WSOP is six weeks of poker, more tournaments than anyone can handle and enough cash game action to drive people insane.
Yes, I am going to play again. This will be my ninth year at Las Vegas. Starting from 2004 I have played WSOP every year, only missing it 2008.
This year I won't be playing much. I will focus on three tournaments: $50,000 Players Championship, $10,000 PLO, and the Main Event. They are all scheduled nicely at the end of the Series.
During the years I have visited Vegas I have collected some good memories. And some bad ones. Here are few of the latter:
--It was 2006, I had busted from the WSOP Main Event, and I was about to fly back home. Thanks to two small cashes from tournaments and some winning from the cash games, this was the first time I was about to leave Vegas as a winner. I had around $40,000 in my money bag (read: fanny pack), which was a bit more than the amount I had when I came to town.
It was late at night, I had an early morning flight, and we were hanging in Bellagio with bunch of Finnish players. With nothing to do I decided to play some Pai Gow. "No harm done if I gamble small to kill some time," I thought.
Four hours later, I was broke. I did have some small change to buy a sandwich from the airport and I managed to pay the cab driver. But that was about it.
--From around 2005 to 2007 I thought it was okay to play both tournaments and cash games while in Vegas. The moment I busted from one tourney I just went straight to play cash games until I couldn't stay awake longer. Then I slept around 4 hours and did the same again.
At some point of the Series I was so sleep deprived that I had to go to my car to sleep during tournament breaks. Sleeping in a car when it is 45 degrees Celcius outside is not a very pleasurable experience. And neither is waking up when you feel like you havent slept for a year.
Needless to say I didn't do very well in my tournaments nor my cash games. Anyone could have told me that trying to play poker for 20 hours per day for more than a month is neither a good idea nor very healthy. I managed to figure it out myself in three years.
--This one happened in 2004. I was playing a $5,000 Stud event. I didn't have many chips left when the dinner break came, but I was still in there with a chance if I'd double up once or twice.
During the dinner break I wasn't hungry, so I went to play some slots. I played for an hour and half (I think the dinner break was 90 minutes), lost around $2,000 and came back. The game had already started when I arrived but my seat was not open -- there was some dude sitting in it.
I walked to the table and looked at the dude and the other players. They looked at me and one of them said: "It wasn't a dinner break. It was just a normal break. Your stack got blinded away." I probably went all red from my face. It didn't really help that one of the players staring me from the table was one of my poker idols, Doyle Brunson. I couldn't think of anything to say, so I just blurted, "Shit happens," and walked away.
Ville Wahlbeck is a member of Team PokerStars Pro