My YogaHub Journey Day 2 – Part IV
Part 4: I can’t believe I made it to Day 2!
After all the intensity of Day 1, I was fortunate to get even ONE hour of good sleep! I vowed not to consume any energy drinks on Day 2 and would stick to drinking only bottled water – out of my YogaHub non-toxic polycarbonate water bottle, of course. The excitement of being in the money and actually making it to Day 2 was all the natural high I needed.
I prepared myself for the day ahead by going through some yoga stretches, and then I grabbed a quick breakfast and headed off to the Rio. Before finding my table, I spent a few minutes just taking in the surreal moment of my still being here for Day 2. When I finally sat down, I looked across the table and noticed another poker pro, Charles “Chip” Jett.
They’re throwing pros at me!
Chip has a reputation of being relentless when it comes to playing tournament poker, and his skill makes him one of the most highly respected players in the game. However, I noticed that Chip was the short stack at our table (meaning he had a low amount of chips), so I wasn’t too concerned about him – although I was still star-struck enough to ask for and get a photo with him before play started. The chip leaders were on my right, and they were my main threat in keeping me from advancing to the final nine.
We resumed playing and, as the blinds started to increase at a rapid pace, players were eliminated quickly. Fortunately for me, I had a favorable chip stack, so being short stack wasn’t a concern. My luck was holding out because I had some favorable hands to play with and saw my chip stack increase until I was second behind the chip leader – and with only 27 players to go! I couldn’t believe it! I, Derek Kadota, an unknown amateur, was playing poker with some of the BEST in the world – and I was second in chips? The minute we took a break, I sent text messages to my friends in Los Angeles to update them on my unbelievable luck (and talent, of course). Their main message to me was, “STICK TO THE PLAN!” And that’s what I did.
As I changed tables yet again (three tables to go, 27 players left), I found myself sitting at the most difficult table in the tournament. All the chip leaders were at the table, along with a well-known and fiercely competitive poker pro named Erik Seidel.
Now, Erik currently has eight WSOP bracelets (the record is 11) and he was going for his ninth in this tournament. I was torn – while I really wanted to see Erik get his ninth bracelet, I also wanted to win my own darn bracelet! Since Erik was short stacked at my table, I didn’t think I had to be too concerned about him, but I also knew that I didn’t want to be the one to give my chips to Erik – or to anyone else at the table. So I played tight and conservative, and noticed that everyone else took the same approach, knowing that there was a strong possibility we could be the final nine players on Day 3. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself, though, so I also took a friendly approach by talking to other players, letting them know I was from Hawaii, how great this tournament was, etc. After some small chit- chat, I noticed that the other two tables of players had dwindled down and we were now down to 18 players, with nine left to the final table!!!!
At this point, I was in HEAVEN! I could not believe this was happening to me. Any poker-loving guy my age would love to have even a glimpse of what it’s like to be in this position. And here I was, actually living it – and with a golden opportunity to shine on TV with the pros. But first I had to get myself focused for the next round so, during the break, out came my trusty YogaHub strap.
As play resumed at my table, I managed to win the first two hands that were dealt to me. When my friends back in Los Angeles found out about this online, they quickly text messaged me to let me know that I was second in chips again, with only 11 players to go. Two left until the final table! Okay, I had NEVER been in this position in my life and I must say it was GREAT to know that I was so close to making the final table of nine.
Now, here’s where the bubble burst and the “rookie” experience took over…
Several hands later, I was in the BIGGEST pot in the tournament ($100,000 to be exact) – and I lost. It crippled my chip stack from second to tenth, with still 11 players left in the field. I admit I was rattled and furious with myself for letting that happen to me and my chip stack. I took it personally and, unfortunately, couldn’t get over it and focus instead on the game at hand. I was in real need of some moral support. There were many onlookers observing the players behind the ropes, and I searched aimlessly for someone I could confide in, someone who could give me a little “push” of confidence to go forward. I simply felt lost and was not able to regain control and concentrate on what was at stake. As soon as my friends back home found out online, they text messaged me, “HANG IN THERE, STICK TO THE PLAN!”
However, all their words of encouragement fell on my now deaf ears. I felt like I was in a battlefield with soldiers and a bomb had just hit me – I literally went into shock. I didn’t know where or who to turn to, although I tried to focus on the game that I was playing, Omaha High Low.
The Final Hand…
I lost. I was out of the tournament. After all the excitement, I was almost reduced to tears – I felt defeated. Still, I held my head up high and received congratulations from the remaining ten players, who were generous with their praise. They all knew it was my first time at the WSOP and were impressed that I had made it this far in a field of 720 players.
Once I’d given myself a bit of time to get over my loss, it sank in that I, a first-time player, was the 11th place finisher with a total cash haul of over $12,000…awesome didn’t even begin to cover how it felt!
The Victory Lap!
As soon as I was eliminated, the tournament director called the casino cashier to say I was on my way to cash in my money. As the cashier was laying the money out in front of me (which, by the way, has been the MOST money I’ve ever walked away with from Vegas) I asked him for a photo.
When I got back to my hotel room, I fanned all the money out on the bed and took another photo of the cash and all my YogaHub apparel.
Driving home back to Los Angeles was another problem, because my body was literally exhausted from playing 22 hours of poker in two days. But I made it back home with no problem – and thoroughly enjoyed basking in the glow of being congratulated and cheered by my friends and YogaHub colleagues.
As I look back at my historic Vegas trip, I realize that maybe it was better I didn’t make the final table, because I have now gained MORE experience about what it takes to get far in the World Series of Poker tournament. Anyway, there’s always next year and, in the meantime – MENTALLY and PHYSICALLY – I need to prepare myself.
Being born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, I knew I would never have had this amazing opportunity if I hadn’t moved to the mainland. Leaving Hawaii and moving to Los Angeles was the biggest decision I’d ever made, but I was determined to get a taste of what life could be like off the “rock.” Reflecting on this now, I realize that maybe that move, rather than playing at the WSOP, was the ultimate gamble I’d taken in my life – and I’ve come out a winner!