Day 1 was the toughest day 1 Iíve played in my 8 year WSOP history. Generally there are some really weak players at the table and I can sit back and accumulate chips without much effort Ė some ups and downs for sure Ė but generally fairly easy.
This year there were no really weak players at the table Ė there were 3 or 4 that I could clearly see were lesser players than me Ė but they really werenít that bad.
More significantly though the luck of the cards were squarely against me all day Ė card dead mostly, big hands didnít hold up and really big hands didnít make any money because no one else had anything. But other than one bad play early on before I fully settled in, this bad luck day forced me to play some of the best poker Iíve ever played at the WSOP. I picked up small pots here and there with well timed bluffs, I avoided disaster on some hands where I could easily have gone broke, I milked extra chips from players with a few jukes on the few pots that my hands held up and I had a good read on most of the players at the table because I had the discipline to stay mentally involved watching other hands play out even as I was folding hand after hand.
But what Iím most proud of is avoiding the urge to play marginal situations out of frustration or losing my composure after tough beats - losing a big pot with my aces after my opponent hits a straight on the last card (6 to 1 shot) Ė thatís poker. Having to lay down half of the few good hands I raised preflop to a reraise when I desperately needed to win a pot Ė oh well thatís the game. Losing a desperately needed pot because the dealer made a mistake Ė it happens. I even had the presence to get up from the table a few times (not nervous about missing some hands) to clear my head during the bad streaks when I felt I might crack if I didnít walk
It was work keeping my game in shape at first. Folding hand after hand is tough work particularly because some of them I would have been able to play if I had more chips. But after a while the sense of confidence that I gained by maintaining discipline under adversity made it easier. Knowing that many other players would have gone broke in my situation (or perhaps myself in previous years) kept me going. Having the better players at the table express shock that I lost only 5000 chips to a great player on a hand that should have sent me to the rail was the high point. By the last few hours of the day I was one of the more pleasant people at the table despite having one of the shortest stacks.
The fact that we started with 30000 in chips this year (vs 10000 or 20000 in previous years) definitely was a big help. My 16000 in chips doesnít make me desperate quite yet Ė I can still play without having to take some gambles yet. Realistically though Iím not in good shape and Iíll need some hands in the first few hours of day 2. But mentally Iíve felt better than I ever have going into day 2. Iíve had more chips most years Ė many more chips some years - but always felt some pain thinking about the many mistakes I made during those better day 1ís (I should have had even more chips!). But this year I can truly only think of one mistake early on Ė well actually four mistakes on a single hand Ė and for that I feel more confident than Iíve ever felt going into day 2.
Looking forward to a turnaround on day 2,