2017 World Series of Poker (mercifully?) coming to a close

The temperatures have dipped down to a cool, comfortable 105 degrees and everyone seems very pleased based on their small talk. Such is life in the Las Vegas summer, where making the best of a bad situation is the only way to survive.

In terms of poker success, where I left you Sunday was actually a high-water mark as the temperature isn’t the only thing that’s dipped since then. Tournaments have not been going according to plan and the only notable occurrence was sitting next to 2004 world champion Greg Raymer for the second time in two years.

Last summer, I played a WSOP Omaha event the day I arrived and Raymer was on my immediate left. He’s very chatty at the table and likes to tell stories. We had an uncharacteristically stacked starting table for such a huge field with Eli Elezra and Darryl Fish also at the table. Omaha isn’t my best game, so I was just there for the enjoyment factor. I busted in level four when I overplayed aces.

This week, I played a tournament over at Planet Hollywood. There were unlimited re-entries so after busting out twice, I decided to take a third shot. The structure was good enough and the prize pool big enough that I thought it was worth another attempt. I walked to my new assigned table and was again to Raymer’s right. He was just as talkative, discussing everything from his terrible memory to unreliable witness testimony in court cases.

I wasn’t there long enough to hear much else because for the second time that day, I moved all-in pre-flop only to be quickly called by aces.

“Good luck in the next one,” Raymer said as I headed toward the exit.

I would gladly take that luck because it hasn’t been with me much. My play has been alright but not my best. There are some situations I would like to have executed differently, but the biggest hands I’ve played have all been fairly straight forward. The ones I’m mathematically supposed to win, I haven’t won. The ones I’m mathematically supposed to lose, I haven’t won. So that’s a bad combination.

It can be a lonely feeling when the cards seem to laugh at you. Walking out of the Pavilion room at the Rio on Tuesday, I saw one guy sitting amongst a collection of empty chairs in front of the glowing WSOP sign. It seemed an indicative image of how a lot of players can feel from time to time when not much is going well at the table.

I’ve still had a good time and I’ve met plenty of new faces who all come over and say hey if they see me later on, checking on my chip stack, recanting a hand we played. I think I have one new admirer, an older woman from Florida who folded a hand to me the other night.

“Just keep smiling at me, sweetie,” she said while tossing her hand into the muck. “I might be old, but I’m still a woman.”

So, if nothing else, maybe I can leave Vegas with a phone number.

Kauai’s Alex Soza has certainly run much better than I have and he made a deep run in the WSOP Monster Stack event. Out of 6,716 players, Soza finished in 166th place, cashing for $6,200. He was ultimately knocked out by T.J. Cloutier, whom I wrote about Sunday and was at my first table, as well.

Soza flopped a pair and a straight draw, but was unable to catch up to Cloutier’s pocket kings. Cloutier was later knocked out in 78th place, but a number of big names were still in the event late Tuesday as the field dwindled. Former Main Event final table member Scott Montgomery held the chip lead and 2015 Main Event champion Joe McKeehen had a top-10 stack.

So some people are leaving Vegas ahead of the game. I have another two days to turn things around before returning to Kauai, but, as always, it’s been a good time and I’m already looking forward to 2018.

•••

David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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