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After a December filled with holiday parties and unpacking boxes La and I were ready to get out of the house and back in action. We had a few options, but an invitation from Jennifer Newell (@WriterJen) to do an interview, and the Bicycle casino (@bicyclecasino) hosting their first ever WSOPC (@wsop) made it an easy decision to take a trip to LaLa land. We didn’t really know what to expect from the Bike or the interview, happily both turned out to be amazing experiences.

Writer Jen and a couple guys that wanted their picture taken w La:

Picture by Eric Butler of Image Masters photography

We were familiar with the beautiful L.A. weather and the crazy poker action, but this was our first time taking the Bike for a spin. The main tournament area had around 60 tables and there was an overflow area on the other side of the casino with another 30 or so. The cash games took up a section in the middle of the casino with a football sized field group of tables. One busy weekend evening they had both tourney sides filled with a full cash section and extra cash tables in the hallways! The L.A. poker scene is a beautiful thing.

I didn’t have much time to play the cash games, but they did have consistent 5-5 and 5-10 NL games going. The one session of 5-5 I did play went well, flopping sets and top two against the table maniacs will tend to make poker feel easy. Unfortunately there was no PLO action going when I was around. The floor was very accommodating about putting up a PLO list, but the game never went. I am still a little perplexed why the L.A. Poker market hasn’t embraced an action game like PLO and I hope someday they will learn to love the degeneracy of four card.

PLO anybody?

There wasn’t much PLO, but there was plenty of good tourney action to keep us occupied. I had solid table draws in most of my events, but often didn’t make correct adjustments to the loose Cali action and got frustrated. An odd color scheme for the tournament chips (500s were yellow and 1ks were red) caused me to make a few careless and annoying mistakes as well. My brain has 1k chips equated with yellow and I over-bet or misread an opponents bet on multiple occasions because of this hard wiring, causing some costly errors.

I did finally manage to get myself dialed in for the six max event. I felt like I played well early, making proper adjustments to the players and their tendencies and not making strange oversized bets. A bad bubble table draw really crippled my momentum late in the event though. When there were 19 left I had to play 4 handed with 2 strong players and 1 straightforward player for over two hours!

During bubble play we went hand for hand and the blinds were frozen at 800/1600/200. This frozen structure allowed the short stacks to hold on way too long and left me stuck between a rock and two hard places. I will be the first to admit my shorthanded NL game has a long way to go, and playing this table reinforced that. They applied constant pressure pre flop and had a much deeper understanding of post flop shorthanded NL than I do. I was happy to survive until the bubble popped and we redrew, but I was not unscathed. When the bubble popped we went from 800/1600 to the tail end of 1500/3k! My stack shriveled to less than 10 bbs and I finished the day 8 of 10 remaining.

The two sickos I played with 4 handed for 2hrs. In this shot playing HU for the ring…

Picture by Marie-Lizzette Acoba for the Bicycle casino

I’m not very happy with my day 2 performance. I was surviving and picking my spots, but I missed some obvious open shoves against people I perceived as having wider calling ranges and some good 3 bet jam spots that would have better utilized the image I had built. I ended up busting in 6th for a small cash. Usually busting a day two would be the end of the day, but our new friend Marie-Lizzette (@MarieLizette) invited me to do some guest commentary on Live at the Bike.

Day 2 of the six max.

Picture by Eric Butler of Image Masters photography

For those unfamiliar with the show, Live at the Bike (@LiveAtTheBike) is a poker webcast run out of the Bicycle casino. They have these cool poker tables that scan RFID chips inserted inside special decks of cards when they are placed over sensors in the table. These sensors read the RFID chips and broadcast a hole card feed back to the booth. This feed, in conjunction with multiple cameras, and live commentary is used to produce a streaming webcast of the final tables on a half hour tape delay. They have a regular cast of commentators, of which I got a chance to work with the one and only Alex Outhred (@AlexPokerGuy). Alex is good peoples, I met him briefly earlier in the day, but my first chance to hang out with him was on the show. He made being on the show fun and easy, it felt like we were sitting in a living room sweating an event on TV.

Behind the scenes of Live at the Bike with Marie-Lizzete, Owais Ahmed, and Alex Outhred

Picture is in focus, photographer was a lil blurry.

Live at the Bike was one of my favorite parts of the trip. The pokernetcast.com setup is a perfect stage for the wsopc final tables and I hope they continue to work together. Getting to meet all the great people that work there and be a part of both sides of the six max tournament production was a special experience. While I was busy in the command center of Live at the Bike, La was grinding the noon ring event and getting ready to make her first appearance on Live at the Bike.

La’s first appearance on Live at the Bike.

Picture by Eric Butler of Image Masters photography

As soon as La bagged up for Day 2 with 18 left I knew she was going to make a deep run. She has a habit of one-upping me, and since I got 6th in the last event I was expecting a 5th place or better finish. She did not disappoint. She wasn’t satisfied with 5th though. She went ahead and shipped her 3rd ring! With this win she becomes the first lady ever to win 3 rings and she did it in 12 months. I’m blessed to have such an amazing companion to travel, compete, and share my life with. I’m so proud of her and all the hard work she has put in.

My baby re-raises me! Again!

Picture by Eric Butler of Image Masters photography

I wasn’t able to watch any of the broadcast as the wifi at the Bike was bogged down with 100s of poker players and couldn’t support the stream, but I was able to sweat most of the ft live. More importantly though, all our family and friends across the country got to enjoy the feed as La wrote herself into WSOPC history with her 3rd open field win. Luckily we both will get a chance to watch the ft later. All the WSOPC final tables will be archived and posted after the event at: http://www.pokernetcast.com/poker-videos/all-tournaments/

Sweating with Alex Outhred

Picture by Marie-Lizzette Acoba for the Bicycle casino

Oh and there are some sick hands in the archive! La played one hand, destine to be a YouTube classic, where she over-bet shoves a river with 7 high, gets called, and is GOOD in a 1.2 million chip pot! Live misclicks are a hell of a thing. I can’t wait to see my six max final table either. I know it won’t be pretty for me, but hopefully I can make it into a good learning tool for my game. After my turn in the booth I hung around to sweat the HU match and the new guest announcer Owais Ahmed (@OERockets). The HU match was on a very high level and the commentary complimented it perfectly. It was a great learning opportunity and I’m glad I will get to see it again.

As many of you know, after a nice score we always like to go out and celebrate with a winner dinner. Since a big reason we came to Cali was to meet with Jennifer Newell, it seemed appropriate that she should be a part of our LA winner dinner. We met up at a nice sushi place down by the beach and did a winner dinner interview! We had an excellent meal and a wonderful time with Jen. We are looking forward to her story, which should be up at Epic poker sometime in the near future.

After the interview we headed back to the Bike to say our goodbyes. We planned to leave the LA event early and go home for a couple days of rest before our next series, and even after the win we stuck with our plan. A couple days at home with the family is worth more to us than main event equity and staying well rested is part of the secret of our continued success. We finished the trip off with an in-and-out burger picnic on the beach. It was a perfect ending to our fairy-tale trip to LaLa land.

Picnic on the beach.