Published on June 9th, 2004, 4:08 am EST

I can't say enough about my experience at the WSOP, It was incredible. A week before the main event I played my last $50.00 single table satellite to get in to the Super Satellite. At this time my bankroll was $120.00... I proceeded to win and advanced to the Super. I played the Super that evening with no re-buys and won my seat in to the Main Event. With only $70.00 left in my pocket, I drove home to Arizona. I played in the local Casino Arizona tournament the following Tuesday evening. I won that event too! Hey Three in a row, I was thinking, and a new bankroll!! I thought to myself there is no reason I cant win the 2004 WSOP!!!

I started out in the busiest seat in the house, right on the rail by the escalators. People clamoring for a position to watch the excitement unfold. There was plenty of excitement in the room on this particular Saturday, my heart was racing, and the butterflies were dancing in my stomache as the 2004 WSOP was about to begin. Cards in the air.... Took it really easy the first day, paying close attention to all the players and the moves they made. Finished solid with $43,275. Sunday was a day off for me and it was nice to have that break, we had just played 12-13 hours the day before.

Monday has arrived and I was excited to get back in to the action. My seat was located right under all of the previous champions ( a quiet seat this time); I looked at the wall of champions and I told myself that one day I will be on that wall. I built my stack up to $60,000 early, but then took a few bad beats and was down to $33,000 when I picked up QQ in early position. I raised to about $6000, and received one caller. The board came down 3d 6d 8s. I was first to act and fired off $8000 in chips in hopes of taking the pot down right now. I got called. Now I am nervous, what could this guy have. The turn came with a 2c I fired all of my chips in the pot, the first time I was all in... Now I only had about $4000.00 left and the guy had quite a bit of chips in front of him. Well, he mucked Qd9d face up on the table. I was shocked for a measly $4000. Why didnt he call to try and bust me? I didnt get it, I felt that I was given new life and I wasn't going to put myself that low again.

I proceeded to play some great poker and built my stack to $224,000 by the end on Monday evening. I think I was placed in the top 25 at that point.

Ok, on to the big day. This was a great day of poker, I just wish I could have stayed focused on what I came there to do. So far I had not made any big mistakes, but they were coming. Within the first hour of day 4 I busted two people, and then moved to a new table. I was then moved again to a table on the rail. I played a weak hand from the small blind with 5 limpers in the pot, nailed a full house and broke another player; I had over 450,000 in chips at that time. There was approximately 230 people left at that time. People were playing scared, they wanted to just make the money at position 225, and claim their $10,000. I took advantage of this and started to raise every hand I had. No one would call me for 3 rounds until they were in the money. Once everyone was in the money things seemed to loosen up quite a bit and players were getting busted left and right.

Sometime around 630pm I was moved to a table with Eduard Scharf, I was in seat 1 and he was in seat 7. This is where some fun began. I knew he was quite a player but I knew that I was too. Around 7:00pm I took over the chip lead, I had just beat Eduard on a huge hand and that gave me over $710,000 in chips. I really had no idea how I stood over the rest of the field. I should have just sat back and relaxed a little and not tried to force good things to happen, good things had been happening all day long. The beginning of the end was near. After the dinner break I came back feeling very good, my cell phone was ringing off the hook with support of friends and family. I settled in to my seat and began playing again, my first mistake was about to happen. I picked up JJ in early position and made a medium raise to around $20,000. Eduard on the button re raised me to about $60,000. No one else was left in the hand and I called the raise. Now a little bit about Eduard's raise on the button. He played the button well, he always made a standard button raise when I was there for the past two hours or so, which was about to pay off in a big way. There is no way this guy always has a hand on the button is what I thought to myself. Whoops!!! The flop came little, something like 6c 2d 8s, which I thought was great for JJ early. So I checked, Eduard fired out about $60,000-$80,000, now I thought that was a little steep, and put him right on a steal. So I eyeballed his chips and counted about $180,000. Mistake # 1 - Ask for a count!!! I didnt do that, he actually had $100k behind and I didnt see it, So I could handle $180,000 hit, but $280,000 would be demoralizing. Mistake # 2. I said "all in" after he bet. What was I thinking.... Plain and simple I wasnt!! Eduard called and showed two red ACES, I thought wow, he played the button well, then the count, to what I thought was $180,000 turned in to $280,000. I was flat out stunned. He played it perfectly too and I got careless. What a blow to my stack, now I am down to $400,000 in chips and still ahead of average, but I didnt care. I just blew a huge lead and gave some chips to a dangerous player. After that I couldnt win a hand or get a flop. I ended that night with $343,000 in chips, right in the middle of the pack.

Now it is 3:30 am, and I cant sleep, I usually wake up at 6am to go to work and I knew that I wasnt going to be able to sleep, I could not shake the feeling of that hand, over and over again I thought about those two huge mistakes. I finally nodded off and woke up at 9:00am. I was heading in to day # 5 and I felt horrible, I was hungry, tired and had a very bad head ache. I tried to wake up and I took 4 advil to break the head ache I had. When I arrived to my table I still didnt feel 100%, it showed in my play. I saw a previous article that said I hit a wall, a mental block, I was not the same. They were right. I had avoided any coin flip hands through out the whole tournament and I was playing so well up until that hand with Eduard. He had just played it so well and that is all that I could think about. I need to shake that and focus on what was ahead of me. I still had $343,000 in chips, I wasn't out of it by any means. Cards in the air on Wednesday and I lasted only one hour in to the day. There was a guy at the table that was pushing in like mad, almost every hand. Well I had raised with A 10 and again he pushes in. Now I know A 10 is garbage to an all in raise, but I just couldnt put this guy on a hand. I should avoid this coin flip crap and wait for another play. I called, that was mistake # 3. He shows 2s 2c, so I have two overs, I missed them both and he takes $143,000 from me. I lost another few hands for small amounts and was left with $133,000. I knew that now the "pusher" was big blind and I was the button, and before the cards even came outI knew that if I picked up a hand and raised that he was pushing all in. I just knew it. I picked up 5 5 on the button and raised, sure enough this guy pushes in, so I call immediately with no hesitation, that was mistake # 4. Do I want to get involved on another coin flip hand? I should have thought more about it and not risked my whole tournament on one hand, I had avoided this for 5 days, why go for broke now? That was a huge mistake. Although he showed AcQh and I had him killed with 5 5, the flop was not good to me again and the second coin flip I went in with was also a loser. He floped a Q and I was out of the WSOP just like that. So for 4 days I was god with the cards and within 6 hours after I held a commanding chip lead in the biggest poker event in history, I was out in 77th place and truly dissapointed in myself. I probably could have finished much higher without playing a single hand after I got the chip lead. I guess I needed to manage my stack better and take some extra time, like I had been doing all along. I think the key had was the AA versus JJ and that loss really took the wind out of my sails, I got out of my game, became tired and really wasnt the same person.

I was almost relieved when I got busted, although severely dissapointed. I was able to take my last $50.00 and roll it in to $25,000 and make history. I will continue to play in Arizona, Las Vegas and California in my quest to become a poker legend. Daniel "deuce" Bigelow will be seen again soon.


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