The Big Game Returns with PLO Edition at partypoker MILLIONS Germany
This post recounts his experience getting onto the show and what it was like playing with big-name players like Phil Hellmuth, Tony G, and Daniel Negreanu. I found it difficult playing online, as I still do, and I started playing live in the casino. Live seemed more real than on a computer, anyway. I made the trip to Las Vegas twice a year, grinding away and doing ok. I met many pros and socialized with some over lunch or at the bars. I was forced to slow down and almost stop playing due to a family business I had to commit my time to, as well as holding down a full-time job as a police officer.
The rules were, you had to come in, I think it was, in the top for three tournaments in a row Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. There were many tournaments to choose from and there were over 10, players in every tournament. As luck would have it, I succeeded at doing this. And this was even after I played half of one tournament at work, packing up the computer in the car, and finishing the tournament at home.
I was now officially in the contestant pool…along with some thousands of other qualifiers from the tournament series. Quite the long odds for only 6 spots on the show. If selected, contestants would get a K stake and play hands against five pros at a televised table. There were to follow numerous screening steps, each step of which you had to pass, while all the time selling yourself.
Then one of the longest waits of my life. I beat the odds. A local article was run in our newspaper: My wife and I were treated like royalty by Pokerstars. We were flown to Vegas, met at the airport by a limo driver holding up our names, put up in the hotel where the show was filmed, given spending money and loads of Pokerstars clothing and duffle bags.
We met many pro players in the green room while the other contestants were playing. We hung out with the hosts: Amanda Leatherman and Joe Stapleton. When it came time to film, I found out who I was playing against: All obviously very experienced and distinguished players.
Everyone wants to play with the biggest pros in the world. But that comes with the pressure of not wanting to lose money to them. Five pros, all world class poker players, all trying to get MY stack. What chance did I have? I realized at that point how hard this was going to be. I felt like every hand I played, they were going to be in the pot, trying to outplay me. I felt I was familiar with their play, somewhat, from watching them on TV and they knew nothing about me. That was my only edge.
There were over one million dollars at the table. I looked down at my K in chips and had to figure out which was which. I immediately had to answer their questions, endure the cameras and lights, AND pay attention to the game. Well above my comfort level. They say when you play poker, you win money from the players worse than you and lose to the players better than you. You should then leave and find a softer game. I was the sucker and HAD to hang on and endure grueling hands over the next 10 hours.
I tried my best to keep up with the action and tried to observe my opponents for any tells they may have been broadcasting.
Perhaps not even possible. After the friendly banter, mainly for the TV audience. Tony G began immediately giving Hellmuth the gears and berating him nonstop.
I know part of the game is sometimes intimidation to get your opponent off his game, but this was intense. I played straightforward and was blessed with some great hands early on. The poker gods were with me. I won a few pots in some straightforward ways: My nerves, however, got the better of me. I made a lot of mistakes, making some of my hands obvious. Over-betting a set on the flop, acting out of turn with a good hand, not announcing my raises.
I felt like I made a lot of rookie mistakes that allowed them to read me like a book. I misheard Hellmuth tell me how many chips he had left and I folded a good pair when overcards hit on the flop and turn. He was, I thought in the moment, trying to act weak by telling me how little of a stack he still had. Seeming as if he were trying to coax me to call, so I folded, but I was wrong.
As play went on, Hellmuth got busted by his nemesis, Tony G. Of all the players in the world, Daniel Negreanu took his place to my left. Goodbye money, is what I was thinking. During the course of play I endured many ups and downs and make a lot of mistakes I later regret. I played a very tight game as I knew they would eat me alive if I got too out of line. They could reload, I could not. The day before, I watched another contestant playing aggressively and winning for most of the show, only to lose almost K in as little as two hands.
I finally hit a much needed monster. Pocket jacks, flopping quads. I played it real cool, checking, tanking, and calling. I almost died when Hatchem pushed all-in on me on the river: I quickly called and I was up over K. I almost blew it though. I was now in the money in a serious way. I just had to hold on to it. Phil Laak was hanging around and, on a break, told me not to let Tony G suck me in.
This stuck in my mind all night and actually saved me when I had AQ and flopped a Q. Tony flopped 2 pair and rivered a boat. I called 5K on the flop and snap-called 10K on the turn. I felt pretty sure my top pair top kicker was good. On the river, Tony bombed the river, betting 35K into a 35K pot. He started to tell me how I was losing all the nice money I had just won. He was right that I had won some nice money: I knew when he said this, he was trying to talk me into calling so I folded, thanks to the little Phil Laak on my shoulder.
I sat there thinking that the money I lost in that one hand was 15K, enough for a new car, but I tried to get rid of those thoughts. If I started having those thoughts, I was only going to play more tight and scared.
I had to play out hands. I suddenly went card-dead and decided only to play premium hands and not to chase with second pair. The shift in my play was obvious to the table. Everyone started to straddle and they were trying to coax me into straddling too.
Before the show the producer told me to play my game and have fun. I could tell some of the players were ticked that I was playing like a nit. So I decided to play tight and follow suit. After it was all said and done I took home 53K. I lived my poker dream. I told Pokerstars in my interview that I wanted to win the money to retire, live in the Caribbean, and play poker full-time.
I just retired a year ago. We are back home now. I have a daily routine of studying videos, reading books, and playing in my local cardroom. And maybe once again play with the pros on TV. In I released a new poker tells training video series that uses real footage from cash games and tournaments. The training videos go into such great detail.
Free 4-Day Poker Tells Course. Learn how to read and understand some verbal poker tells with this free, 4-part poker tells course. Thanks for being on my mailing list!