#PNWPokerCal for 28 August 2018: MOST EXCELLENT EDITION

My Time Is Coming

The Ignition Super Millions Poker Open ended Sunday and last week I popped into another small $10K GTD NLHE 6-Max, busted halfway through, then banged straight out of the nightly $3K GTD NLHE 6-Max. A couple nights later I nabbed 3rd place in a 153-entry $500 GTD NLHE Turbo Bounty, picking up 8 bounties along the way.

The Final Table $10K GTD NLHE  went bad from start to finish, and I busted my live rebuy just before the break, then dropped 100bb in 45 minutes on the shootout tables.

Saturday, I got into an Ignition $300 GTD O8 and just started sucking up chips, then blew a stack that should have gotten me to first or second and took 4th out of 36 for a small cash. Got halfway through the Sunday 6-Max ($4K), and busted a $1K NLHE Super Knockout early.

Monday…well, last week I’d promised I’d have to get over to Claudia’s (at SE 30th & Hawthorne, always the closest game to my house) for the Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo game they spread once a week, and I headed over this week to see if I could catch David Long, my semi-regular partner for trips  to Lincoln City and Pendleton, to talk about October’s Fall Coast Classic Poker Tournament at Chinook Winds. He wasn’t there, so I played the tournament myself (I might have been thinking about that anyway), got seated next to Joe Brandenburg on his first visit there, and I ended up taking first place (all those years of low-level PLO8 and Big O at the late Portland Players Club still paying off!) And with 45% going to first place even after we paid a bubble, even Steve Chanthabouasy would be happy with the percentage (though maybe not the size of the pot).

And Tuesday, the second episode of the PokerTime session I played in dropped, and I actually play a couple of hands.

This Week In Portland Poker

I haven’t seen any announcements for the big Labor Day holiday weekend, so I’ll just leave you with the Oregonian article that Josh Stellmon posted Monday to the NW Poker Facebook group, which includes some news about redevelopment plans for the Portland Meadows site.

Mackenzie via City of Portland and Oregonlive.com

Added to #PNWPokerCal This Week

  • Muckleshoot Fall Classic Satellites, Auburn 2–26 September
  • Lucky Chances $20K/1st, Colma 30 September

Muckleshoot 2018 Fall Classic

The full schedule for the Fall Classic is out, and for the first time that I can recall since starting up the #PNWPokercal, Muckleshoot is putting guarantees (instead of cash added to the prize pool) on their tournaments. A minimum of $500K in prize money is up for grabs over 7 tournaments.

Muckleshoot has spearheaded the concept of satellites for multiple events with games running the three weeks before the series on Sunday morning (10:15am) and Wednesday night (7:15pm) for $150 where a cash gets you $1,250 in tournament entries. There are three nights of $190 tournaments with $1,750 in tournament buyins in a gap between the two weekend of the series.


A 2-day Main Event (29–30 September, $750 buyin) with $150K GTD and two $100KGTD (22 & 28 September, $400 buyin) events are the tentpoles of the series, with an $80K GTD tournament leading off on 21 September ($300 buyn). Thrown into the mix are a $25K GTD LHE tournament (23 September, $200 buyin) and $15K GTD O8 (27 September, $200 buyin) for the fixed limit fans, and a finale I know a couple people will love: the $40K GTD NLHE Shootout (30 September, $300 buyin).

Ticket presales are already open.

Only a Day Away

  • Ameristar East Chicago is the host to HPT Chicagoland Main Event ($1,650 buyin) has three entry days starting Thursday.
  • Mid-States Poker Tour stops at Canterbury Park in Shakopee (just outside of Minneapolis) from Thursday through 16 September. There’s a $300K GTD $1,100 buyin Main Event with three entry days (13–15 September) with satellites running daily from 5 September.
  • The Commerce Poker Series starts Friday and runs through 16 September. The first full week features a tasty-looking $350 HORSE tournament, some Omaha Hi-Lo/Stud Hi-Lo, and a $240 buyin $200K GTD.
  • See above for info about the Muckleshoot Fall Classic Satellites.
  • Labor Day is the start of Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza III. Running through 26 September, the first week features a $100K GTD ($340 buyin) followed by the $1,100 buyin $250K GTD tournament co-sponsored by MSPT.
  • WSOPC Thunder Valley opens 6 September with a $300K GTD tournament for $400 entry. It’s a 2-day event with five flights (two on Thursday and Friday, one on Saturday). HORSE on Monday, 10 September and O8 on Tuesday! The $1,700 Main Event has $500 GTD.
  • The Aria Poker Masters starts 7 September with its smallest buyin: $10K. You can only rebuy once.
  • HPT Golden Gates kicks off in Colorado 12 September with a four-flight $400 buyin tournament. Their $1,650 Main Event begins 19 September.
  • The Gardens Poker Classic (starting 14 Septepmber) is—among other things—the third stop on the West Coast for the PokerStart Platinum Championship, where you can compete for a ticket to a $25K buyin in the Bahamas in January and $5K in expenses (also known as the cost of a banana at the Atlantis Resort). There are a few other things going on during the Classic, including a $300K TD, a $200K GTD, a $550 buyin 8-Game Mix, some HORSE, and a Progressive Bounty tournament.

PNW Poker Leaderboard 07 June 2018

It’s been a great start to the summer season in Las Vegas for mixed-game players from the Pacific Northwest, not the least of which was Jeremy Harkin’s take-down early this morning of the bracelet for World Series of Poker Event #12: $1,500 Dealer’s Choice 6-Handed, closing it out against two-time bracelet winner Frankie O’Dell, with an active rail of Portland-area players supporting him (including Liz Brandenburg, who live-streamed the end on Facebook). For the uninitiated, the Dealer’s Choice tournament has 20 possible games to select. I owe Jeremy a lot of thanks for offering me cheap digs in Vegas two summers ago, when I really needed a break so that I could take the WSOP reporting job.

New players on the leaderboard this edition include Chad Campbell of Seattle whose first recorded Hendon Mob cash is a 2nd-place finish in the $1,600 buyin Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza III $250K GTD PLO MonsterStack. That’s a pretty nice way to start off the record.

Tukwila’s Tamir Hasan took 1st at the Grand Poker Series #12 Mixed PLO8/O8/Big O for what is only his second recorded cash; he min-cashed in an O8 tournament at the WSOP in 2016.

WSOP #9 $10,000 Omaha Hi-Lo was a hunting ground for established PNW players. There were 4 PNW players in the top 15 of the 169-entry  tournament. Dylan Linde (Couer D’Alene) and Talon White (Sheridan) took 15th and 14th, respectively (it’s Linde’s 44th WSOP cash and White’s first). Steve Chanthabouasy took 12th (his 14th WSOP cash). Adam Coats made it all the way to 3rd (WSOP cash number 11), doubling his lifetime recorded earnings.

In non-mixed game news, it wouldn’t be a leaderboard report without a six-figure cash from Almedin Imsirovic, taking 2nd in the $26K buyin Aria High Roller 82Matt Affleck grabbed first place in the Venetian DSE3 #28 $500K GTD.

Back on the wild side, Jesse Hampton of Mercer Island came in 3rd in WSOP #8 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball.

Here’s Worm’s group victory shot. I wish I’d been there for you, man! Maybe I can just Photoshop my way in…

#PNWPokerCal Planner for 4 January 2017

Happy Poker New Year from Las Vegas! I’m down here in a city with its own bagpiper blowing to announce the coming of…whatever.

I missed all of the New Year’s Eve shenanigans here (though I was at a party in Beaverton with an upside-down Christmas tree), catching an emptyish 8am flight on the 1st so I could take a shot at a $100K guarantee event at the Venetian. The first couple of levels were fantastic, and I almost tripled my stack. It was slower going after that, though I was still in good shape, knocking out three players from a table that included WSOP bracelet-holders Allyn Shulman and her husband Barry Shulman, who own CardPlayer Magazine, A little brush with poker media dynasty, that. Allyn started at the table, Barry showed up several levels in as tables were consolidating, then Allyn busted and I ran QxQx into Barry’s KxKx and was severely crippled before I went out two hands later after I limped AxJx got called by 2x2x in the big blind, and jammed into him on a KxJx2x flop. That was it for me in the $100K.

If you look closely, you’ll see Kao Saechao in the standings with a decent stack. Day 2 starts with 74 and pays 54. It’ll all be over by the time you read this.

Played a little PLO, went back to the room and got into a WSOP.com $20K where I did well for a while but was hobbled by the fact I hadn’t realized it was a rebuy and addon (it pays to look at the structure before you buy in at the last minute!) then was playing catchup and was crippled (again) when I called a 15bb late-position all-in from the big blind with AQ and QT hit a ten right on the flop. That left me in the small blind with 1bb behind. I managed to quadruple up with a flush on the next hand but ran into quad queens just five hands later.

Monday morning I took a shuttle to the Orleans (free from the spot under the Linq) and waited around for a table to open up. For the unacquainted, the casino is full of very old people. I mean, even older than me. And it’s the place to go for Limit Omaha games. They had several tables of O8 at 4-8 and 8-16 (both with kills) running on a Monday morning. Admittedly, it was the Monday after a holiday, but there were 16 cash game tables running, more than anywhere except Bellagio at that time of day. Even as I write this at 2am on Tuesday, Aria has 19 tables, Bellagio has 16, and the Orleans has 12. The Venetian has 9. The wait, though, was long enough that I considered getting off the list to just play the noon O8 tournament, but I late-regged that instead and made it partway through.

There was one amusing hand in the first hour or so, where I was dealt AAAA, which is about as bad a hand as you can get in any version of Omaha, but I limped in just to see what would happen. I had another hand where I bluffed that I had a flush with the nut low draw on the turn (with 2s counterfeited by the flop) and not only made my low against an all-in player but bet another player off and took the high with a paired 4. Lost a big pot when my own low was counterfeited on the river and it was down from there.

Played a smaller WSOP.com tournament and made the money, though it was only about enough to cover lunches for the days I’m here.

Tuesday was the $300 bounty tournament at the Venetian. It got 139 entries but I only made it through the first three levels, losing small amounts on a couple hands (including laying down KK on an ace-high board with two diamonds to a bet of half my remaining chips to a guy who showed the 62 he’d called my pre-flop raise with). awadI raised KJ in a hand and was called by Hani Awad, whose WSOP bracelet win I covered this summer. Awad ended up calling my bluff on a queen-high board with 7x9x and middle pair (the seven), but he’d already knocked out several players and had probably close to five times my stack. He took me out a couple hands later when I shoved AxQx pre-flop, he called with 9xTx from the big blind, and he made two pair by the turn. Not my finest hour. The final numbers for the tournament were $20,850 in the main prize pool, with an extra $13,900 in bounties, and $5,842 scheduled to go to first place. I talked briefly to Awad after he busted me, and he showed me he was wearing his bracelet, so some people at least don’t just toss them in a box or hock them on eBay.

I’d been planning to play the 7pm tournament (a $200 bounty) but decided to force myself to play some cash game. I herded back to the Orleans, sitting in the back seat of the shuttle with some tweaker gal who had “something something HELL” as her tramp stamp complaining about how long her free ride to was taking, had some surf and turf for brunchinner (a single meal for the day), then got on some lists.

A $1/$3 NLHE game opened up relatively fast, and I sat down in seat 5. I was under the gun and raised the first hand I was dealt—T8—then was reraised by seat 7 to $30. Two players called, and I put in the extra $20. The flop was 765, I’ve got an open-ended straight draw for the ten, a backdoor flush draw, so I check it, then seat 7 shoves for more than my remaining stack of $170. The other callers fold, and it’s up to me. I called, the dealer put out a 6 on the turn and 8 on the river. I can only assume the guy shoved with AxKx because my two pair ended up taking the pot. From there on it was a mostly upward trajectory for ninety minutes, then I checkout out to go call my wife for the evening before deciding whether to play the $75 PLO tournament at 7.

I got into the game late, just as the last level before the break was starting. There were only two tables and I had to wait as an alternate for a couple of minutes while a player who busted just as I was registering kept up a steady stream of complaints about having to go on the alternate list. A spot opened up for him by the time I got to my seat.

I lasted all of ten minutes. I picked up a hand with a pair of aces, raised, was reraised from the other end of the table, made a 4-bet (we weren’t particularly deep at this point, less than 40bb) and he went all in with pocket kings which made a set on the turn. Back to the cash games, after having evened up the day before the tournament.

It took about 40 minutes in the $4/$8 O8 game for me to make up the tournament buyin and a little more. Got on the shuttle bus, had an interesting conversation with a cigar distributor from LA who mentioned he comes up to Portland several times a year, and decided to see what the cash games at the poker room in the Flamingo were like.

The only time I’d played at the Flamingo before was in a late-night turbo tournament. The first thing I noticed after I sat down was that the place was a hotbox. I just about pulled up stakes and left after the first orbit, and had just determined I couldn’t stand it any longer when they finally turned the A/C on. Other than that, things went well and I booked a third winning cash session for the day, picking up another $50 in an hour before I told myself that I had to get to my room to get some sleep before a very early morning shuttle to the airport. No sleep before I wrote this for you folks, of course.



Portland Meadows ran the first Survivor-style tournament in Portland (that I’m aware of) on New Year’s Eve. I wasn’t able to make it myself because of other pre-Vegas commitments, but  it seems to have been well-received. It’s a bit difficult to make comparisons between this and similar tournament that don’t have add-ons, but thirteen players made as much as 1200% ROI on their buy-in (less if they did the addon or re-entry) in just over six hours, with a friend who made it through texting me the chop came at 6:09pm. Everyone got plenty of time to go out to celebrate the end of the year with their newfound cash.

If it had been a straight 10% payout for 10% of the players (with no add-on) that would have been $1,000 for a $100 buyin (assuming 130 players and a $13,000 prize pool). If the prize had been set at $1,000, there would have been 17 players paid $1,000 (13% of the field) with an 18th player getting $380. With standard payout structures, 10% of the prize pool is usually between 3rd and 4th place money in a field of 130.


Nothing new to report. No unexpected closures (a couple of early closings for New Year’s Eve). The Game should be re-opening tomorrow. Rialto’s been open, Aces Full ran a game on Monday for the holiday, and hopefully (I haven’t seen an announcement yet) Final Table will be running a $20K this weekend.


Monday. tournament director Matt Savage asked the question that many in the poker Twitterverse had been wondering about for over a week: “Where is @limonpoker”? The best-known personality on Live at the Bike has been a constant presence on Twitter for years, but mentioned during a pre-Christmas #PokerSesh that some Trump supporters had ganged up to get the account suspended because of his rather outspoken anti-Trump posts (of which there were many).

In Monday’s #PokerSesh (for the uninitiated, his weekly freeform call-in show), Limon mentioned that he’s not going to bother returning to Twitter (sad!) or any other social media, and offered up his back catalog to anyone who want to select segments and post them on YouTube and promote them to try to make money. Crowdsourcing his promotional efforts, in other words. Not insignificantly, for someone to get access to the videos in order to watch them and pull out segments, they’d have to at least temporarily subscribe to Live at the Bike at $20/month…not really PNW news, but Limon’s an Oregon kid….

Deal of the Week: Bay 101 Shooting Star Satellites

The WPT is coming back to Bay 101 for the popular Shooting Star bounty championship in early March, and it’s preceded by a week of daily mega satellites. $275 Satellites have been running since December, but the big ones start 18 February, with daily $550 satellites running 25 February through 1 March and $1,050 sattys for three days starting 2 March.

Bay 101 publishes the payout structures for their satellites, and you can see from the payouts on the $275 events that unless they get 48 players, no seat is awarded (with the money getting paid out on a standard curve), and with 48–79 entries, only one $7,500 seat is awarded, so the odds aren’t exactly good enough to travel to the Bay Area if what you want is a seat. But the $550 and $1,050 buyins are a good buy if you want to get into the Main Event (which begins on 6 March).

This Week In Portland Poker

The big game this weekend should be the First Friday $20K at Final Table.

Only a Day Away

The poker world is ramping back up after the holidays!

  • The Venetian New Year’s Extravaganza runs through Sunday. The last big event starts today with the first of four $250 entry flights to a $150 Guarantee. Evening games are a mixture of bounty, rebuy, and turbo tournaments.  You can get updates on current tournaments at their blog.
  • I missed it somehow, but the WPT California Swing Kickoff has a 2-day $100K Guarantee with a $250 buyin that starts today. Two flights tomorrow, with Day 2 on Friday. Saturday is a one-day $400 entry $100K guarantee, and Sunday there’s a WPT Rolling Thunder satellite with $400 entry that has 20 $3,500 Rolling Thunder Main Event seats guaranteed. I’d probably have gone there this weekend instead of Vegas if I hadn’t missed it on the schedule.
  • Another one that snuck past me is the Hustler Casino Poker Players Tournament (could they get any more generic?), which starts a $400 buyin $500,000 Guarantee today, with two flights each day through Sunday and Day 2 on Monday. I don’t know how that got by me. Progressively fewer people make it to Day 2 on each starting day (10% today, 9% Thursday, and 8% after that). Next week is a $250K Guarantee for a $250 entry, with 15% in the money.
  • Eugene’s Full House Poker has a Heads Up-Championship coming up, on 7 & 8 January. It’s a bracket-style elimination competition where you can buy 1 or more spots on the bottom bracket, at reduced rates. Seating is limited, so contact them for details and availability.
  • The Heartland Poker Tour East Chicago series starts 12 January with a $300 buyin $100K Guaranteed tournament. There are three entry days, with Day 2 on 15 January. The first of three Main Event flights in on 19 January. It’s still possible to get flight/room packages at the hosting casino for either tournament for less than $600 total. Last year’s opening $100K had a prize pool of $298K, and the $1,650 Main Event prize pool was over $900K, with a top prize of $211K.
  • Commerce Casino‘s LA Poker Classic  begins a seven-week run on 13 January.  There are a total of 60 events, with eleven of them having guarantees of $100K or more, plus the $10K buyin WPT Championship that caps the series. Structures have been posted for about half of the events so far. Of particular note for Portland players is the $570 entry Big O tournament on Groundhog Day (2 February).
  • The 2-week Tulalip Poker Pow Wow starts 14 January with a $10K Guarantee, then a week including O8, HORSE, and PLO, before the $50K Guarantee and $100K Guarantee events on succeeding weeks.
  • The $40K Guarantee Stones Gambling Hall Chip Amplifier is 15 January outside of Sacramento. Buyin in level 1 is $120 for 10K in chips, but the price and the number of chips go up for each level, with the last one being level 6 where $550 gets you 60K in chips.
  • It’s back to Thunder Valley on the 17th, with Poker Night in America.As they’ve done before, they’re running satellites to the $5,000 buyin televised cash game (filmed 28/29 January), as well as a slate of 12 tournaments that features two $250K Guarantees (the first for a $450 buyin and the second for $1,100). In-between, there’s 6-Max, HORSE, and lots of satellites to the second of the $250Ks.

Remember to keep an eye on the #PNWPokerCal Twitter hashtag and the PNW Poker Calendar for upcoming events!

W-Day Plus 33: Independence Day


Lest anyone think that this blog is going to turn into another guy complaining about his bad beats at the tournament table and life, let me just stipulate that I do have some winning sessions, and that as much as many of my old colleagues from my professional (not poker) career express bewilderment at how I ended up in my current circumstances, there are a lot of people worse off than myself, a middle-aged guy who’s had to go a thousand miles away from wife and home to take a job that’s populated mostly by people who could be my children (and who have more experience as live reporters and better poker resumes than me, in most cases, though perhaps not the same world-weary perspective on, well, everything).

IMG_2882Live reporting hours are long. If an event starts at 3pm on a Day 1, there’s no dinner break, you work 10 hour-long levels with an hours of 15-minute breaks every 2 levels, so it wraps up about 2am. But as a reporter, you need to write an intro for the day as well as finish up any hands and write a recap at the end of the day, and someone needs to write the intro for the next afternoon, so you get there an hour early don’t usually leave the building until 2:30 or 3am. A 2pm restart for Day 2 or Day 3 means you get to the Rio by 1pm or 1:30 at the latest, and with the dinner break, play goes through to 2am again, and again with the recap. So figure 13 to 14 hours at least two days in a row. a little less on the third day if someone wins on schedule, but I’ve had one event where the last two players at the end of Day 3 agreed to play an extra level to finish things off, and then with the Mixed Omaha we had three full days plus the extra hour in Day 4. I’m on salary, but I figure with the number of days I’m working, if I was getting paid overtime, I’m still well ahead of what I have been doing to pay the bills, but it’s not what I was making ten years ago as a programmer or twenty-five years ago in the printing industry.

If the only people who want to hire me any more are poker people, I’ll take it. I’ve made a lot of friends in the world of poker and I’ve got enough of an ego left (did I ever mention that I was once in the Oregonian’s list of the 200 “Most Interesting People in Portland”?) that I get a kick out of someone mentioning they read the blog. Got an invite to a party yesterday at the house where a bunch of the Oregon dealers are staying out in Summerlin (see photos above).

Refreshed from Jello-O shots and America beer, I returned to the house and fired up a 0.25/0.50 PLO8 table. Played 35 minutes and made almost 200 big blinds. Then jumped into 3/6 Stud 8, jumped out after 20 minutes up 6 big bets. Made 18 big blinds profit in a 5-Max NLHE game, then went to bed.

Two more weeks here in Vegas. Tomorrow I jump into the middle of the $1,500 Stud 8 tournament.


W-Day Plus 32: No Player


I’m thinking about putting a pin on the “NO PLAYER” button I found the other day so I can wear it just to alert people of my status. Of course, most of the time, I’d wear it with the They Might Be Giants snowman that has been my go-to gear for playing poker the past few years (though the hoodie pre-dates my poker playing).

I got to the Rio yesterday a bit early. We were supposed to be setting up on one of the feature tables, but the only setup going on was for the $50K Players Championship, on Feature Table 3. Andrew Lichtenberger and Craig Blight were still up on the main feature table, so I sat down in the stands for the first time ever. Sort of odd that I hadn’t yet, though I had tripped and gone down face-first a couple of weeks ago walking around on the outside of the main stage (there’s luminescent tape on the edges of a platform that runs from the table to the back of the stage area but that doesn’t work if the lights aren’t on).


Live reporting going on. The real action at the WSOP.

Day 4 of the $1.500 PLO8/O8/Big O tournament did not last long. We had five players coming back, one of them got knocked out in the second hand, then the two chip leaders got into a hand close to the end of the first hour that ended up with Gavin Smith out in fourth place and Allan Le with more than 80% of the chips in play. It was all over before we were out of the level.

So, I’d skipped a couple of things I had been thinking about playing on my day off because of the extra day, went back to the house, played a little bit of PLO8 on WSOP.com (and lost), then got myself ready for another Survivor tournament at the Venetian.

I thought things might be kind of interesting while I was in line at the cage waiting to get my ticket when I heard one guy trying to explain to another why it didn’t matter how many players were in the tournament, it didn’t affect the size of the payout. But even he seemed to be getting it wrong somehow.

Unfortunately, I was the fish in this case. We were only in the second level of play—100/200—when I raised to 5,100 in early positoon by grabbing a 5K chip instead of a 500 chip. Then a guy who appeared to be a regular shoved for more than my stack from the big blind after everyone else folded to my obvious mistake. I weighed my options. I had AxJx. I’d misclicked and put half my stack in, with the blinds going up, I’d be down to about 15BB on the next hand or so if I folded. I figured I was probably about 30%, I was going to have to call off another 5K to get 15K back, so I took the plunge and lost to his JxJx. That was humiliating. BTW, does anyone know if Kristi Gazes is still playing tournaments? I could have sworn that the woman sitting in the 4 seat on the table was Gazes, but I don’t see a Hendon Mob cash for her for years.

I wasn’t prepared to reenter but I did. I walked into a table where there had been some sort of heated discussion involving an older, maybe Italian, guy wearing a hat and dark sunglasses (which seemed not to be helping his view of the action) and the guy on my right at the new table. Don

‘t know what it was about, but there was a stench of acrimony hanging over the action for a while. The old guy then lost a pot that took him down to about 3K, and when he shoved over a raise from me and a call by the Lebanese/New Zealand guy on my left, I re-shoved my KxQx. The guy on my left folded what he said was AxQx and the Italian guy showed KxJx. King on the flop and an ace on the turn which got the guy on my left exclaiming about how he shouldn’t have laid down his hand. I thought that maybe my luck might be turning around.

The Italian guy re-entered and pulled his own seat card, so he came right back to the table, where he picked up aces twice and started building a big stack. Then, thankfully, our table broke. Things went relatively well there, I picked up some pots, though I was contending with some sicko Euros on my right who were showing down 7x4x and 9x2x for bottom pair to win a couple hands. Took some chips off the Italian guy, who ended up at the table after a break and promptly picked off a player with a pair of kings. He had to lay a hand down to me after I shoved on him with top two for a pot of about 15,000, and said he would get the chips later. I reminded him that I’d been the one to bust him earlier, and he said (from his admittedly larger stack) “Where are all your chips, then?” I guess I could have replied that he didn’t have all that many when I busted him.

Then things started to slide a bit, though not so much for me as the Italian guy, who lost his entire stack to the sicko who’d called down with 9x2x. His aces this time were better than what the Italian guy had, and that put him up to about 120K at a time when I had maybe 18K left.

More than half the field was gone already four hours in, but I was on about 12BB. I picked up 9x9x in the big blind, there was a raise, an all in from the guy on my right. I shoved, the original raiser thought about it and folded, and the guy on my right flipped over queens. Then the card in the door was a nine, he looked kind of sick, and the guy who folded was patting himself on the back for folding AxKx because there was an ace on the flop as well.

Lost a couple pots, blinds went up, and I was back down to 15BB when another one of the European players opened for about 3X and I shoved KxQx from the button. He dithered about calling with KxJx before he did it, but he did, and everything ran smooth for me until the river, which was the jack. 100 players gone out of 135, 21 spots from the money, and while a double up there would not have assured me of making the money, it would have given me a fighting chance. Very disappointing.


Prostitute or Notstitute?

I’m walking from the Venetian Poker Room to the Palazzo parking garage.

In the mall between the buildings, I notice a young woman ahead of me in a short skirt with a large tattoo on her thigh. I turn my attention back to my phone.

Never been to the Monte Carlo, so I’m looking at Google Maps, and as I pass the young woman, she alters her course to come talk to me and asks what I’m doing, offers up that she’s been playing blackjack, etc.

I am under no illusions as to my appearance. I am fat. I’m dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, with an unbuttoned short-sleeve shirt over the t-shirt. I’m easily old enough to be the woman’s father. I don’t look like I have money (and I don’t).

Schlubbing along in a hotel that’s way out of my price range.

This young woman is…

a) …a prostitute.

b) …just another Vegas victim looking for a fatherly figure with whom to commiserate.

c) …it’s Vegas, baby.

After that, I headed over to the Monte Carlo. PokerNews celeb/broadcaster Remko Rinkema hosts a 4/8 Mix game there on a semi-regular basis that I’d been hoping to make it to, and after blasting off two buyins at the Venetian, it seemed like a perfect time.

I got there during a round of Razzdugi and promptly scooped two pots. DIdn’t do as well in 2-7 Single Draw, but Std 8 and PLO8 were good. I wasn’t close to recouping my Survivor buyins or anything of the sort, but I picked up a little bit of a profit.

Then the vultures swooped in and we got a couple new players Someone who shall remain nameless made up a PLO game with three river cards that lasted all of one hand, but that hand was exceedingly costly to me. And one of the new guys was whining about the $80 cap and wanted to play every game no limit, even the stud games. Flipping for rollz just isn’t my thing, plus I got no rollz to flip, so I slunk off into the early morning to lick my wounds.

BTW, you may have heard about the parking fees instituted at the MGM-brand casinos on the Strip starting this month. Here’s what your $20 buys along with 3 hours of parking at the Monte Carlo:

That’s the inside half of the elevator door half-way open. Don’t worry, you can slip out through the open section before it goes back to whatever mechanical hell if comes from.

W-Day Plus 31: Extended Play

I’m not sure I need to add anything to that, but here it goes.

We started Day 3 with 27 players. Seven-handed, that meant three full tables and one with six. The first hour was a little insane, as we lost six players, had a table redraw to three tables, lost two more players almost immediately as the first level ended (one of whom was Dan Saltmarsh, the last Portland-area player).

My reporting partner for Days 2 and 3, Valerie Cross (a live stream commentator for Stones Gambling Hall, and waaay back in the background on the left in the photo above) took a bit of flack for the lack of updates in the next level as we tried to catch up. Things slowed down a little bit: during levels 22 and 23 we only lost four players. Kate Hoang from Federal Way, Washington was the last PNW player in the field, and when she busted in 15th, we redrew again to two tables, moved to the outside feature tables (where the photo above is from) and Valerie and I had to each cover a table on opposite sides of the main feature table, which means watching and taking notes on hands while trying to write up what’s already happened.

That’s  the point where Jackie’s tweet catches the action. Fu-Bang Huang has his back tot he cameras in the foreground. He’d been a chip leader earlier in the day but hit a bad patch after going to two tables. Allan Le is in the red hoodie. The guy in the suit standing behind me is one of the tournament directors actually standing on the Thunderdome floor, where they were streaming something: I really have no idea what it was, we were just that busy. Poker, or some such. Oh, yeah, Andrew Lichtenberger was there, so it must have been the $3K NLHE. I know that because the rail for Keith Ferrera on our event would yell out: “Chewie! Acknowledge us!” from time to time.

The first three players to bust from the feature tables were all on Valerie’s side, which put more of the work on her because those hands have to be written up. By dinner break (about 9pm due to the table redraws and a couple of other things that paused the clock), we were down to five players per table. Then I lost a couple (including the Day 2 chip leader John (@angryjmonnett) Monnette. Down to eight and we consolidated into the unofficial final table in the level after dinner.

Only three hours to go and eight players left though, meant there was no way we were wrapping up by the end of the tenth level. We sort of knew that when 27 came back for Day 3, but even with all of the eliminations at the start, and hoping against hope that there’d be some carnage in the middle that would get me to my day off on Sunday, that wasn’t going to happen. We ended the night with five players led by the OG Gavin Smith. Got back to the place about 4am, now I’m awake and about to head back to the Rio.

Poker Mutant, out!

W-Day Plus 30: Mixed

The Main Event starts a week from today.

More storms and flash flooding in the Las Vegas area overnight but I saw absolutely nothing but a little standing water when I came out of the Rio this morning at 2:30am.

My day was essentially all working the PLO8/O8/Big O event, which went from 207 down to 27, hitting the money four hours into the day. The new 15% payout structure meant 101 of the original 668 players got paid, but the payouts from 101st to 28th were $2,243 at the bottom to $5,639 for 28th (which was the beginning of another payout tier), which is still only about a 275% ROI for twenty hours of play. Watching these folks grind out relatively small returns is making me wonder why the heck I’ve been playing tournaments.

My colleague for the day and I were set up for Day 2 in the Pavilion Room, with all of the cash games and the Deepstacks, and instead of our usual digs at the back corner of whatever tournament area we’re covering, the table we had to use was right near one of the main entrances to the room, so we were the target for anyone with questions, as well as a dumping ground for used glasses and other debris.

I got to the room and started putting out the seat cards we use to (try to) track players, and noticed that though the tournament had been played with only seven players at the table on Day 1 that there were eight chairs at the table. Mentioned it to the TD and they had someone get the extra chairs out, but it threw a wrench in my player ID plans since we were rushed a bit at the start of play.

Despite a decent stack going into the day, my host busted early in the money, and the next-to-last Portland-area player went out shortly before the end of the day. One still remains!

Keeping track of players is one of the primary job functions, and it’s a bit daunting, even in a smaller field. We lost track of several of the Day 1 chip leaders because we didn’t get useful descriptions of everyone before they moved in some of the early-day busts and table balancing. Then, as the end of the day approached, there were several players neither of us had any idea who they were; names that just popped out of nowhere (to us) that were still in the counts but hadn’t been in a reported hand by name.

With four tables left for Day 3, I sort of wonder if we might not be in for either a long day or even a Day 4.

Anyway, that’s my day.

W-Day Plus 29: Short


Flying into the blasted heath. West of Vegas in the mountains the trees just stop. WTF is up with that?

Not much to say for this update because I did almost nothing since the last post except for report and sleep.

It was Day 1 of the Mixed Omaha event yesterday. Lots of Portland-area and Oregon players, including my host and one of the players renting a room in the house. There are still five Oregon players in the 207 coming back for Day 2 (including my host), which is a decent percentage considering the relative population of the state. None are in the top 40, but three are above the median chip count of 20K (John Monnette has nearly 87K for the chip lead).

Yesterday was all about finding people and hands to write about. It seemed like most of the big hands were in Big O; you have to wonder how long it’s going to be before it gets its own event.

I got to the Rio when it was sunny an hot. Not too long after I got there, I got an emergency announcement on my phone warning about flash floods. So when I walked out of the building at 2:30am, it was wet. No standing water on my way home, though the wipers seemed to be surprised to be put to use.

Just about time to head back. Got a shower, shaved (so wierd), and now I’m ready for Day 2.

Shout out to John F, who was waiting for a gate-checked bag as I was deplaning yesterday morning and somehow recognized me despite the lack of facial hair. Had a nice chat about poker and comedy on the way to the baggage area.

W-Day Plus 1: Memories


No exhaustive post today. I’m not exhausted, either, after getting my first good night’s rest since leaving Portland.

Didn’t do much in the early part of the day. I had been scheduled to cover the first day of the Colossus, but due to a couple of live reporters wanting to play the Casino Employees event, that went on my ticket, so I had about 36 hours until my next event, the afternoon flight of the second day of entries.

I did head over to a computer shop here in town to get some RAM for my trusty MacBook. I’d intended to upgrade the memory for a while. It’s one of the late 2008 aluminum-body models that came with 2GB of RAM, which was perfectly fine a couple of years ago, when I started to do some 3D modeling in Cinema 4D for a Civil War battlefield visitor’s center, but the newer operation system upgrades have made it grind to a halt just opening Safari. A very nice young tech named Jessica at Century 23 here in Vegas had the 4GB modules I needed in stock and popped them in for me in just a few minutes.

Went back to the house, rested for a while, then headed out to the Venetian for the 7pm bounty tournament (Deepstack Extravaganza #14). I chipped up quickly, knocked out an angry old man who was like a tall version of Portland’s Sleepy Don, took another bounty from a kid with a Muckleshoot cap, then lost a race against a female player from Portland, and doubled up another player when I called his all-in with AT on a QxTx6x board. He showed KxKx, I got an ace on the turn, then the jack on the river took a big chunk of my chips. My final downfall was when I shoved K9 from the button and QxJx called all in with a shorter stack from the small blind. I had him covered by 600 chips at 800/1.6K/200, he caught a jack on the flop and stayed ahead. I went out the next hand.

Thought I might try my hand at the 1/2 Big O game. There was a seat open and I was able to sit without waiting. I won a little hand that put me ahead after twenty minutes of folding and paying blinds, making top and bottom pair on the flop, then top two pair on the turn and a full house on the river. Then:

Of course, the guy who was driving the action on the flop lost everything, too. Big O is The Devil’s Game.

Headed home after managing to turn a partial loss into a total loss. Slept like a baby in the A/C. Off to cover the second day of the Colossus today!

W-Day Minus 4: Let There Be Light

I stopped overnight on my way south to Las Vegas at a Motel 6 in South Sacramento. My wife’s rule of thumb is that if there’s a directional modifier attached to the name of the town or city, there’s probably something wrong. Bend v. North Bend (it may work even if the cities aren’t near each other), St. Louis v. East St. Louis, Sacramento v. South Sacramento. That’s not to say that the non-direction place names are necessarily good, just that the directional makes the city less savory.

I got to the motel about 8pm on a Friday night, and half the driveway was coned off. There were two guys in uniform at the entrance to the motel driveway, and on closer examination, they both had handguns strapped to their waists. The good news was, they weren’t police responding to some sort of horrible crime. The not-so-good news is, they were armed security hired by the motel, presumably because they feel there’s some sort of need for armed security. I checked in, went to my room, hauled all the computer equipment into the room (which was the plan, anyway) and hit the air conditioning. All I know is, when I go to Lincoln City, there’s no armed guards at the Motel 6.

Sacramento’s about halfway to Vegas on my route through Bakersfield. In the morning I hauled my stuff back out to the car, chatted up the morning duty guard (I did actually work a stint as a guard myself a couple of years ago), and got back on the road.

On the way south I listened to a mix I put together a few years back, specifically targeted to keep me awake while I was driving, then switched over to the PokerNews Podcast, where I caught Chris Sigman of Vancouver calling in to Donnie Peters and Rich Ryan with an idea for generating some more heat at the November (or whatever it is this year) Nine.

Once I rounded Bakersfield and got to Interstate 15 toward Las Vegas, my trusty Ford Escort was overtaken by a steady stream of Porches, BMWs, Mercedes, and other luxury and semi-luxury sedans, most of which seemed to have been just driven off the lot that day without any type of license plate. I was doing anywhere between over the speed limit and way over the speed limit myself. Had to laugh at the absurdity of a distance sign with LAS VEGAS and SALT LAKE CITY stacked above each other. Then, after rounding a bend coming down out of the mountains, I found myself drawn to the collector of the Ivanpah solar farm, which I assumed at first was simply reflecting heat at the position from which I’d first seen it. As I drove down the incline and around the plant, however, it felt as if the bright light was following me, and I realized that it reflected sunlight in all directions. It was hot, and I started to wonder how long it would be before I burst into flame like an ant under a microscope.

I’m renting a room from an incredibly gracious host in Las Vegas, whose new house in town just closed last week. He and his folks just got into town in the morning with furniture and spent the whole day setting up beds, and even though it wasn’t really ready for room tenantry, he allowed me to come on in. Which is a good thing, because there are literally no rooms left in town for Memorial Day weekend.

Got my big computer set up (I’m travelling with a large contingent: my iPhone, four tablets of various types, two laptops (Windows and MacOS), and my main workstation, though I left one of the big screens at home. Wifi was already set up in the house. First things first. Played a tournament on WSOP.com for the first time in a year while my host and his folks went out to buy a few items and get some dinner and busted 30/82 after refusing to rebuy or add on. Then headed over to the Orleans for a little 4/8 Omaha Hi-Lo and made enough in fifty minutes to buy a nice little late-night steak dinner. Best hand included A2 to make the nut-nut kill pot.