The $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Millionaire Maker at the 2014 World Series of Poker was the best WSOP experience of my career.
The event came not long after I had cashed in the Employees Event so I felt really confident.
I made Day 2 and busted just a few places short of the money, but learned so much.
RunItOnce Coach and WSOP bracelet holder Craig McCorkell - who finished an astounding 13th in the $10,000 Main Event this year for $441,940 - kindly agreed to give my hands the once over.
Here are his thoughts.
Craig McCorkell: “My approach to the early stages of these WSOP 1500s is fairly basic. We are handcuffed by the format - 10-handed pre-ante No-Limit Texas Hold'em.
"There aren’t many chips to win by taking a pot down pre-flop and 10-handed increases the likelihood someone has a strong hand.
"I try and limp a fair amount and play a lot of post-flop poker with players whose ranges you may then be able to exploit.
"If you aren’t comfortable doing that, grab a book or flick on an iPad movie and play the top 10% of hands for the first three hours.”
Blinds: 25/50. Early Position opens. Cut-off calls and I call KJdd from the button. Small Blind also calls. Flop K82 rainbow, I bet 250 when checked to and SB calls. Turn Qh, we go check/check. River 5c. I bet 400 and he folds.
CM: You have to bet the turn for around 500. Depending on his tendencies, and your perceived image, we can decide about river value. As played I would make the river bet a little bigger.
Blinds: 25/50. EP opens and I call in Middle Position with TT. Late Position calls. Flop 832 with two hearts. EP bets 225, I call and LP folds. Turn 7d. EP bets 525 and I call. River Kd. EP bets 875 and I tank call. He mucks pocket sixes.
CM: Nice call.
Blinds: 25/50. I open AJhh UTG+1 and a guy to my left calls, as does the Button. Flop J95cc and I bet 225 - both call. Turn 7h. I bet 525 and just one caller IP. River Jd. I bet 1.1k. He makes it 3.3k and I call. He has nines for the full house (I instantly knew I should have check-called the river).
CM: I think bet/call river is the worst of the options available. I don’t mind bet/fold or check/call depending on his tendencies.
Blinds: 50/100. I bet 225 UTG with AQ. Button calls, SB squeezes and I fold. (Tight … but don’t like playing OOP).
CM: What’s his stack size? And the Button's? What are your reads on small blind? We can go either way here and I’m fine with fold vs. a lot of opponents.
Note: Craig makes a very important point here. When taking notes on your live hands for review later on, it’s vital to take note of your opponent’s stack sizes and their tendencies. It’s not good enough to just record the basic facts of the hand, which I did during this tournament.
Blinds: 50/100. Jackie Glazier opens to 200 from Early Position and I 3-bet with AJo in the next seat to 450. She calls. I bet 450 on an ace-high flop and she folds.
CM: The 3-bet sizing should be a little bigger. Otherwise nice hand.
Blinds: 50/100. I open QJhh in the cut-off. The button 3-bets and I fold.
CM: Stack sizes? Reads? I don’t fold this vs. anyone really. We have a hand with great playability post-flop.
Hands #7 & 8
Blinds: 75/150. I open with K9dd in Middle Position for 300 and fold to a 3-bet.
CM: This is too loose if you're still 10-handed.
I open K2o in the Cut-off and the Big Blind defends. I continuation-bet the flop and he folds.
CM: Once again I think this is too loose of an open.
Blinds: 100/200. EP limps and I raise to 600 with aces. Guy flats behind and limper calls. Flop is K74ss and I bet 900. Two callers. The turn is 3s. I move all in for 1,200 and both call. The river bricks and I triple up.
CM: Nicely played hand.
Blinds: 100/200. I open KJo and get four callers. Flop Q73r everyone checks. The turn is the Tc. BB bets 900 and I raise to 2100 (two people behind me). All fold.
CM: I quite like this raise. It puts him in a tough spot with a lot of his hands. What were your river plans on bricks?
Note: Here is another important point. Craig asks what my plans were should the river brick. The point he is making is to plan ahead. Don’t just raise the turn because you have equity and your opponent’s range is weak. Have a plan for the river. I didn’t have a plan for the river, and this means it wasn’t a well thought out hand.
Blinds: 100/200. I limp in the SB with Q2o and BB checks. Flop AQ5 c/c. Turn 8c. I bet 200 and he calls. River 7. I bet 300, he calls and mucks.
CM: Nice thin value bet and I like the limp pre vs. some opponents.
Blinds: 100/200 Ante 25. I open A9 in the CO and fold to button 3-bet.
CM: Seems like a good hand to 4-bet. I assume we have a tight image. Again, hard to know for sure without his stack size and any relevant reads.
Note: I did have a tight image and so it would have been a good spot to 4-bet.
Blinds: 100/200 Ante 25. Limped pot 7-ways I check QJcc in the BB. Flop QT3. I bet 400 and get three callers. Turn 3. I bet 800, geezer moves all in for 8,000 and I fold.
CM: I like the flop lead although sizing seems small. Don’t really like the turn lead. If we're going to bet I would use bigger sizing. As played, fold to all in.
Blinds: 100/200 Ante 25. Guy moves all-in for 3,750 from EP and I call with 88. He has AQ and flops an ace. (I was also in EP and should have folded).
CM: This is on the borderline of your calling range but sounds like a fold. Reads on your opponent are very important here and this is where live poker is so good. You can make exploitative adjustments to your calling range here based on so many factors.
Note: Craig talks about the importance of using your live reads in this spot. This is an area of my game that I have to improve. I am still looking at my hand and stack size and making a decision, without first evaluating the range of hands my opponent is likely to be moving all-in with based on his history.
Blinds: 150/300 Ante 25. I open AQcc UTG+1 and get called in two spots. Flop K72cc. I bet 800, call and then all-in for 9k. I fold. He had AKdd.
CM: Very unfortunate that he just moved all in here but I’m sure we still have to call. Is the king a club? Even against a reasonably strong range (that still includes some worse flush draws) we still have good equity given our pot odds.
Note: This is an area of my game that is non-existent. I rarely use math in these sorts of spots. Instead I tend to go with my gut read in a situation. Obviously, if the math is obvious, then I play that way but in the borderline spots my math is weak.
Blinds: 150/300 Ante 25. EP opens, busy player 3-bets from Middle Position and I cold four-bet jam for 6,200 from the Button with AQ and take it.
CM: Nice hand.
Blinds: 150/300 Ante 25. The same player opens and I call JJ in position. Flop J65r. He bets, I call. Turn 3 c/c. River 9. I bet 2,500 and he folds.
CM: Sounds like we should be 3-betting pre-flop with a hand this strong and our stack size vs. this opponent. As played we HAVE to bet at least a small size on the turn.
Blinds: 200/400 Ante 50. Stack Size: 11.6k. Folds to me in the SB and I have JTcc. The BB has 10bb so I go all in and he folds.
CM: Good play.
Blinds: 200/400 Ante 50. I open 76o from the Button. Both blinds peel and I give up on a super high/connected board.
CM: Sounds like too loose an open vs. anything but extremely tight blinds.
Blinds: 200/400 Ante 50. A tight lady with a 7k stack opens from the Cut-off for 900. I make it 2,100 from the Button with KTo and she folds.
CM: I’m not sure I would be attacking 18bb opens from potentially tight opponents with KTo, but this worked so nice hand. I don’t hate it, just wouldn’t be something I would do here, mostly because if she goes all in we’re going to have to fold away a decent amount of equity.
Blinds: 300/600 Ante 75. Stack Size: 11,025. I open the CO with ATo. Big Blind 3-bets to 5k. I fold.
CM: This hand is fine.
Blinds: 300/600 Ante 75. I open the CO with A2ds and BB calls. JJ4dd c/c. Turn Td. I bet 1.2k and he check-raises to 5k. I fold.
CM: I don’t really understand or like the turn bet as it doesn’t really achieve much. He’s basically never folding better than this, and we keep in all his worse diamond hands on the river that he may pay off a bet with. He also may bluff these cards.
I finished Day 1 with 10,100 chips.
Blinds: 500/1000 Ante 100. I open AJhh and get called by the big stack at the table who has position on me. The flop is K56hh and I check-raise jam; he calls with KQ and I brick to bust just shy of the money.
CM: Finely played bustout hand. I don’t mind your line or just betting small on the flop and jamming turn.