#PNWPokerCal Planner for 20 July 2016

I’m Baaaack!

I go away for a couple of months and you guys break Portland poker? I can’t leave you alone for a minute!

Seriously, though, I’m a bit sad that after talking up the Portland poker scene for weeks with fellow media, players, and others that near the end of the WSOP the biggest club in town shuts its doors almost overnight. Whatever issues there were with The Club Formerly Known as Encore, I had my two largest-ever cashes there (even though they didn’t report them to Hendon Mob), I had my first-ever cash over $1K there, and it’s where I had my first outright win in a $100+ buyin tournament.

For now, though it looks like the other clubs are operating as usual. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that they’re still there when I get home tonight.



Abe ‘Limon’ is the host of a regular 5/5 PLO game at Commerce Casino in LA, the co-host of Poker Central’s Live at the Bike show Wednesday nights, and the man behind the #PokerSesh (streamed live by Live at the Bike’s Twitch channel on Mondays). I’ve been a guest on #PokerSesh a few times over the past two years, Limon used my research skills to win a $5K prop bet during last year’s WSOP, and we grew up just a few miles (and a few years) apart in Eugene-Springfield. Finally got a chance to meet up at Angel City Brewing in LA (and get my $250) while I was on my way home from Vegas. He’s been very supportive of my writing—mostly because he hates tournament poker—and it was great to get the chance to meet up with him.

Monster Podcast

Mitchell Towner, the winner of the WSOP Monster Stack, was quoted in the official write-up giving props to “some of the podcast guys,” and elaborated in other interviews that specifically he meant whatever it is that Grant Denison and Adam Levy are calling their podcast this week. In the July 14th edition, titled “How to Run a Monster Bluff,” it is revealed that Towner was the college roommate of one of the Poker Guys. Listen to the episode to find out which (I don’t really know, they’re starting to sound so much alike to each other I can’t tell them apart).


I’m shortening the hashtag. Five extra characters available in my tweets!

This Week in Portland Poker

  • PDX Poker Club is no more. But you know that.
  • A&L Sports Pub is jumping into the triple Omaha format with a $3K guarantee Big O/PLO/PLO8 tournament on Saturday at noon. $40 entry/reentry. $30 addon. Chadd is saying something in the comments on the FB post about reenteries being able to buy a double stack for $80, not sure if that applies to original entry or not. Why make these things so obscure? BTW, I still hate FB as a means for getting info out.
  • Portland Meadows Poker Club has stepped up with a $10K guarantee tournament at noon on Saturdays ($70 entry/$40 addon) and a noon $5K ($50 buyin/$30 addon) on Sundays. Not technically special events, but new to the #PDXPokerCal.
  • The Game still has their June calendar up.
  • If you want to make the final table of next year’s WSOP Millionaire Maker, maybe you’d better start playing now at Claudia’s daily tournament.


Only a Day Away

  • The Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza finishes this weekend in Las Vegas. Thursday, Friday , and Saturday are $400 flights into a $200K guarantee with the final day on Sunday. The evening schedule is $300 and $200 (mostly bounty) tournaments.
  • Are you in the LA area? Then you still have time to get to the Hustler Casino’s Grand Slam of Poker. Thursday at 4pm and 7pm are $100 satellites for the $400 buyin $500K guarantee main event. That has two starting flights per day, Friday through Tuesday, with a final day on Wednesday.
  • Today is the start of the Wildhorse Summer Poker Rodeo in Pendleton. Five events Wednesday through Sunday. All at noon. Last year these events got about 275 players each, with prize pools ranging from $17K on Sunday (the smallest) to $80K for the $300 event on Saturday.
  • Thunder Valley outside of Sacramento kicks off the Ante Up Poker Tour World Championship tomorrow with the $155 buyin $100K Catapult tournament. Five starting flights Thursday through Saturday, with final on Sunday. The series has 20 events and multiple satellites, with the main event being a $500K guarantee $1,650 buyin the first weekend of August.
  • At LA’s Bicycle Casino next Thursday, the Legends of Poker gets under way with a 2-day $100K guarantee, $350 buyin freezeout. It runs through the end of August and culminates in a $4K buyin WPT televised event.
  • The last Sunday of the month is 31 July. At 11am there’s a $10K added $275 event at Tulalip Casino north of Seattle. At noon the same day is a $330 buyin $3K added tournament at Muckleshoot Casino, southeast of Seattle.

Check out the #PNWPokerCal for more poker. It’s good to be back!

W-Day Plus 45: Game Over, Man


When last we met, I was off to cover the end of the $1,500 Stud 8 event. The final day was interesting, with some blowups at a table featuring Bryan Devonshire, Gaurav Kalro, and Michael Ross. It may be one of the first times “Angry” John Monnette was observed trying to calm down an argument.  Monnette and Kalro went on to the final table, along with Brandon Shak-Harris, who wore a polar bear suit all three days of the tournament, even on the Thunderdome stage.

The final table was where I made a monumental screw-up, writing down cards on Monnette’s third-place bustout hand in a way that when I wrote it up made it look as if he should have won. It took me more than twenty minutes to figure out the right sequence, and by then I was already in hot water for not getting an important final table elimination up on time. That wasn’t pleasant, and it was less so when I went to the Orleans after David Prociak won his bracelet to try to take my mind off of messing up and lost my buyin on the first hand when I flopped top two with kxjx against kxqx and the queen came on the turn.

Bricked four WSOP.com tournaments the next day; five if you count the Bovada game I took a couple bounties in without making the money (still a loss). Made a little playing low-stakes cash online.

The next day was Saturday, the first of the starting days of the Main Event. I saw a lot of NW players over the three days, including a lot of Portland Meadows’ Brian Sarchi.

Somehow the schedule I’d been working 2pm or 3pm starts through 2am, seemed to leave more time in the day than the 11am (and now noon) starting times for the Main. And, of course, the fields just got bigger and more draining, with 764 players on 1A ballooning to 4,240 on 1C. The live reporting staff did not grow, however, so we were increasingly spread out over multiple rooms trying to track players and put up content. Despite being pretty drained each day, I fit in a couple of small tournaments on Bovada, getting into the top half of a PLO game and a NLHE Super Turbo, but missing the money on both.

On my day off between 1C and 2C, I did some stuff around the house, then played the WSOP Media Tournament, where fellow reporter Molly Mossey made a better two pair to take most of my chips, then an old lady from Vegas and some dude teamed up to take the last of my chips when I shoved axkx and they had ax7x and axjx, both making the low pair. 36th of 100.


Then went to Orleans for the evening, hoping to catch an O8 game. While I was waiting for a seat, I played the 1/3 NLHE, got queens on the first hand, and raised to $20 over a couple of limpers. Two players called, there was a flop of something like 7x6x2x and I bet $50. Two callers again. I’d bought in for $200. One of them had more than that but the other was a little shorter than me. They check to me on the turn and I put in the rest of my chips, and the shorter stack calls with 7x8x, with a pair, and whacks the eight on the river, leaving me with $17 as I got called over to the O8 game.

That was also a shitshow, as the guy on my right raised every single pot. It wasn’t to his advantage; in the time I was there he made three or four extended trips to the cash machine for fresh hundreds, but the money he was blowing off was not going to me, and the high variance of the bloated pots eventually caught me. He actually got the last of my chips, but he was still down several hundred dollars. Went back to the house, played a $1.25K guarantee on WSOP.com and took fifth place out of 180 for a small amount of redemption.

My last days on the WSOP Live Reporting crew were kind of a letdown. There were more than 3,200 players coming back for Day 2C, with the bulk of them starting the day in Paviliion, the biggest of the rooms, where the cash games are staged through most of the series. More than 350 tables. Part of challenge of live reporting is knowing where people are. With about ten people covering the day, that’s 35 tables each to start the day, and if you’ve ever played an event the size of the Main, you probably know how quickly players get moved around.

Small clubs that use applications like The Tournament Director can find players when they move, but most large tournaments is a little less rooted in the 21st century. The floor staff doesn’t keep track of where players go, they just randomly assign seats with cards. It’s a flexible system that works fine for keeping the game going—the mechanics of the game don’t rely on who is where—but if you have a need to keep track of a chip leader or famous pro in a sea of ball caps and hoodies, you’re SOL. So live reporting teams need to track the players by being at the tables as they break and looking at the seat cards as they move (or asking the players).

Spread out over multiple rooms, though, the Main Event sends players throughout the complex, and they don’t get their seat assignments until they get to the new room, so if a table (or usually 2 or 3 tables) is moving from, say, Pavilion to Amazon, they get walked through the back halls or the main corridor, to a door where they get their seat cards. Which means someone has to follow them from one to another, and hopefully catch each and every one of them as they get their seats. That’s all I did on Day 2C. Didn’t write a word, I think, because the pace of table breaks meant I never really would have had time to get to the other side of the room to my computer to write something up: I would have missed a table breaking or been interrupted so that the hand would have been old news by the time I finished it. I did put in about seven miles of walking, more than twice what I did on usual reporting days, according to my iPhone.

Day 3, I spent the day doing chip counts. Nothing but chip counts. Then on Day 4, I was back on breaking table duty. The duty was a little different, there were only about 750 players to start, everyone was in the Brasilia Room, but the number of notables on each table was concentrated.

Most everyone else uses handwritten notes to track players, but as a multimedia producer and computer programmer, much of my time over the past several decades has been asset tracking, so I went with a little more high-tech approach and used Google Sheets. I could track and update players, switching off between my iPad and iPhone as I needed to charge up. If I saw anything interesting, I just flagged down Will Shillibier or Valerie Cross, who were working the breaking side of the room.

Here’s a sample of the spreadsheet from Day 4. The tournament started off with players in the Tan, Orange, and Purple sections of the room, breaking in that order. I went through the sections trying to get descriptions of the players we were tracking, then I color coded and sorted as players moved. Some of the players in the sample started moved from Orange but everyone here is in Purple (too dark to read black type on, I just used a blue). I could add in players that were added to tracking like Moraes (usually because they had acquired a lot of chips), and players where I missed their seat change went to red with a ‘0’ table number until I found them. My plan was to make the Sheet public for my fellow live reporters, but I never really got the chance to explain it to anyone in time to make it useful, so you, dear reader, are the recipient of my knowledge. Not that it’s all that complicated.


The kerfuffle of the night came at dinner break when PokerNews’ Marty Derbyshire came up to me—while I was looking through eliminations on the Results page for people who would no longer be at tables when I got to them and talking to my wife on the phone—to tell me that we had screwed up the chip leader. I duly reported his observation to our group chat and things hit fans.

IMG_2908For the break posts, live reporters get chip counts as close to the break as possible. Sometimes big hands can make large swings in chips, sometimes action at the table makes it tough to count. That’s info that goes into the live reporting post that’s supposed to be live as soon as the break starts. According to what Marty told me later, Donnie Peters asked the dealer (we can’t touch the chips) break down a player’s stack after break had started, revealing some obscured large-denomination chips. Anyway, I was glad I knew where the guy was sitting when the head of the live reporting team came over to look for himself.

The last two levels after dinner were pretty anticlimactic for me. The pace of table breaks slowed to about one every fifteen minutes as the number of players dropped below 300. Three tables were moved to the feature tables, I tried to get in a hand near the end of the night, featuring a 60bb shove from the big blind into a pot of less than 8bb from brief chip leader Michael Botwin, but it was ruled too insubstantial to be posted. Best I could do with my iPad’s virtual keyboard, which makes entering in cards rather difficult. So I shook some hands, said goodbye to players and co-workers, picked up my check, and left the building while most everyone else was left to cover the last three days of action before the November Nine.

IMG_2914I have a couple of things to wrap up before I leave Las Vegas to see if there’s still poker being played in Portland so I decided to take one last shot at the big time before I left and entered a satellite tournament for the $5K buyin $2M guarantee at the Venetian this weekend. There were 6 seats guaranteed, and at first it looked a little sparse, because there weren’t even 60 players.

The first couple of levels were pretty harsh. I went from 12,000 chips down to 3,375 (I know exactly because there were three 1K chips, three 100s, and three 25s). I had Doug Lee on my left (Lee took 2nd place in last year’s $2M at the Venetian, for $330K). David Levi, who I’ve covered in a number of events over the past several weeks kept coming over and talking to a couple of players at my table—he’s waved hello to me at the WSOP a number of times—but I don’t think he recognized me at without my reporter’s lanyard and in something other than a black shirt. In any case, I knew I was in some deep company.

I recognized Lee but didn’t remember his name or exactly where I knew him from. When I asked him, he wouldn’t tell me, though he said he did remember the card cap and that we’d played together before. He also kept bringing up a hand with 9x8x that wasn’t from last night. I did shove and win with 9ctc against a pair of eights, but the nine-eight doesn’t sound like me. I’ll remember him next time.

I started to come back when I flopped top set with jxjx against qxqx and doubled up. Then i got aces and raised, and everyone folded when I really wanted a call (I think).

I got it in bad with kxqx against axkx and hit the queen on the flop to double up, then took out a shorter stack with txtx v. 8x8x. Four hours in, I’d climbed up to 30K, and we had 34 players left, with 11 seats for the $5K and a cash prize of $1,068 for 12th.

We got down to two tables (see seat card above) and I had a guy on my left with about 200K. He announced after a couple of hands that he was “Done,” and he could, indeed, have just blinded off, without there being any way for him to lose out on his seat. I was up to about 70K myself by this time, and in second place on the table, although not really in the position where I could completely sit back.

I picked up ackd in late position. I had 18BB, the big stack was still gone, there were three players to act behind me, and only one of them had a stack my size. I shoved. The button, a man, let’s just say, older than myself, hems and haws about what a position I’ve put him in, and then finally calls with qsqx. Fine. I can’t avoid that. The flop has a king on it, but by the river there’s a four-flush on the board and I don’t have that ace. We’re three spots from the money and I’ve got a big blind and an ante left.

I somehow manage to sextuple up on my first hand with qx9x. I get an ace on the next hand and win that, too. Suddenly, I’m not even the short stack any more and we’re in hand for hand.

The big stack comes back, plays some more hand, talks with Doug Lee, then heads out again. We lose another player. I get kcqc and shove, I get called by axkx, and this time I can’t get lucky.

It’s kind of agonizing to be one card away from getting a chance to play the $5K. No spade on the river of that race with the queens and I’d have been off drinking a beer with the 200K guy with no need to play a hand. Even if the guy hadn’t had queens and folded, I could have made it with the extra round of chips I would have taken in.

Anyway, came home. Played a couple of tournaments on WSOP.com. Took third place in a bounty tournament and seven bounties that took a little of the sting off. I think I can hold my own against these guys (yes, that’s the leap of fantasy every wanna-be poker player makes).

Props to both Josh Cahlik and Mickey Doft, who were invaluable sources of info on how to do the right things on the days I worked with them. And to Live Reporting head honcho Rob Kirschen for giving me the chance.

W-Day Plus 43: In the Money


Just a note of good luck to the Oregon players left in the field of 800 for Day 4 of the Main Event. Kao Saechao (above) is in the top half of the field with 410K, everyone left is in the money (1,011 places paid). Nick Davies and Sean McMahon are also still in. I ran across Kao as I was checking counts on notables and big stacks (the British guy whose chips are still stacked on the left is in the top 20, and William Tonking, a November Niner from two years ago is standing on the right).

It’s my last day of work here at the series unless something changes. More on that tomorrow, I think.

W-Day Plus 35: Obligatory Post


My view at the dinner break. Covered Event #60: $1,500 Stud 8 from 2pm to 2am, as we went from 128 players to 14. Only three of the Day 1 Top 10 are still in the tournament; the current chip leader, David Prociak, started yesterday in 104th position. Poker is like that.

Came back to the house, played PLO8 and dropped another 200bb. Got it all in bad once and got it all in good once, in the end it didn’t matter. Poker is like that, too.

Slept. Got up. Now it’s time to go back.

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 28: Determination

I was determined that after a five-day hiatus between the previous two posts, I would get back to daily updates. As it’s now been two weeks, you can see how well that’s gone.

Like so many other dreams in Las Vegas, that one’s been broken. It’s bad, because it not only means that I’ve broken the chain of daily info, but that I have to leave out material in order to keep this post at a manageable length, if I remember  them at all, that is.

We’re now just over a week to the start of the Main Event, which is #68 on the calendar this year. The day I started this post, two events got under way: Events #41 and #42, the $1.5K NLHE Monster Stack and the $3K NLHE Shootout. I’m getting back to it as Event #53, the PLO/O8/Big O is a couple hours off. Determination, eh?

The day after my last post was the beginning of Event #26, the $1,500 Omaha 8 tournament. One of my concerns about taking this job was my ability to remember faces and attach them to names. Much better with remembering trivia, numbers, and dates than people I’ve met. It’s not an age thing, just one of those little quirks I’ve had to live with all my life. But apparently faces and names of poker players that I don’t talk to for the most part are more like trivia than the faces and names of poker players, dealers, or anyone else in daily life that I do talk to, so over the course of two HORSE tournaments I’d picked up a certain amount of familiarity with the people who play limit tournaments at the WSOP. Benny Glaser won the $1,500 a couple of days before winning the $10K version of the same game.

Benny Glaser and his mates just after he won his first bracelet of the year.

Benny Glaser and his mates just after he won his first bracelet of the year.

IMG_2848I played five Bovada tournaments on Sunday—Father’s Day—after the O8 tournament and min-cashed in just one—my only positive poker experience since the Survivor at the Venetian a couple of days after I got here. Played the Orleans HORSE tournament and only made it about three hours in.

Had the next day off, as well, and bricked three Bovada tournaments, then got halfway through the Orleans O8 tournament. Then the next day it was back to reporting, this time on Event #36, a $2.5K O8/Stud 8.

Three-and-a-half weeks' worth of notes on WSOP events, more or less.

Three-and-a-half weeks’ worth of notes on WSOP events, more or less.

Let me just note: keeping track of actions and cards in limit split-pot games is not an easy task. For one thing, there are a lot more cards exposed in stud and Omaha games to start with. Sometimes it’s difficult for players to see what’s out there, and as live reporters, we’re supposed to be as unobtrusive as possible, so despite the occasional stink-eye from players who think we’re crowding them, we really are trying to give them room. And it’s just not all that clear sometimes where the chips are going, who got the high, who got a low, if there’s a quarter, etc. I do my best for someone with crappy handwriting.

Keeping track of moving players isn’t any easier.


With image enhancement, I’m almost visible in the Thunderdome, with Aditya Prasetyo next to the dealer, Fabrice Soulier in the white cap, and champion Hani Awad on the right.

The night Hani Awad won the bracelet he’s been heads up for in 2015, I headed over to the Orleans to play some poker myself since we wrapped up around 11:30pm instead of my usual 2:20am. All the O8 tables were full—it was the day of the first flight of the Monster Stack—but after about 5 minutes, I got a seat at a 1/3 NLHE game. Called a raise to $8 with kxjx, with me, the original raiser, and the blinds into the pot, flop kxjxtx, small blind bets $25, original raiser calls, and I put $80 in only to have the original raiser put me all in and suck out with kxqx on the turn. I wasn’t about to go to the cash machine for more,

IMG_2853Played 0.5/1 PLO8 on for a total of about 20 minutes and blew 100bb and went to the Golden Nugget to try out the PLO8/O8/Big O format that I’ll be covering starting today (assuming I get this post up on time). Had a couple of good hands, but busted out after about four-and-a-half hours.

harperI had been scheduled to report on the $10K Stud 8 tournament, but the Monster Stack grew to monstrous size. We had three people covering a Day 1B field of 4,507, which meant about 1,500 players—or 150 10-handed tables—apiece, and even with much simpler hands to write down, it was still a little bit of nightmare just trying to find and update people. I wrote an early post about Portland’s Steven Harper, who turned out to be the Day 2 chip leader. I’ve been kind of out of touch except with my particular events, but I did manage to plug the PDX players a little:

I was also the first reporter (I think) to notice Arizona economics professor Mitchell Towner, the guy who won the thing. But I wasn’t there by then. I headed home to Portland for a couple of days. Now it’s back to work in half an hour. I promise not to take so long on the next one.

W-Day Plus 14: Damn You, Martin Harris!


No waiting at registration at 2am.

I had another title and theme picked out for this post the other day, but it’s completely escaped me.

If this trip has done anything, it has given me even more respect for the abilities and stamina of Martin @hardboiledpoker Harris, and the work he’s done on his “Hard-Boiled Poker” blog. I also might hate him a little bit now, for making live reporting look like a task a mere mortal might be able to take on and still have a life.

I’ve been reading Martin’s work for several years, including his accounts of live reporting from stops in the US, Europe, and Latin America, as well as essays on politics and poker, plus articles on PokerNews. When I first considered branching out from this blog, Martin—by then an editor at PN—was the person I reached out to, and he’s been my editor there ever since. Oh, and he also teaches a course on poker and popular culture and has a farm with horses. After I’d applied for this job, and while I was waiting to hear back about whether I’d be hired, I read through Martin’s daily accounts of covering the 2008 WSOP, back when he was new to the game.

Since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that people like Martin are either just much better at this than I am, or that they have some sort of fucking time machine they’re not telling me about.

After the first HORSE tournament (and no, I don’t think changing the rotation order to HEROES is going to make it any easier for inattentive players to know which game they’re on, just look at the placards), I resolved to make sure I got a post in, no matter what the turnarounds were.

The first day of the $3K HORSE wasn’t anywhere near the car crash of the $1.5K. I was on with a different partner this time, another newbie to live reporting, but one who had some experience as a dealer at the WSOP, and we both had a couple of events under our belts, so we had a better feel for things.

The $3K was a smaller field, as well, though that meant even more concentration of big names to cover, and one issue we found ourselves with was a too-expansive list of stacks to track. Chino Rheem, Jason Somerville, Justin Bonomo (runner up in the $1.5K HORSE), Hellmuth, Ho, David Chiu, Robert Mizrachi just off his Stud bracelet, etc. No dinner break on Day 1 and we wrapped up around 2:30am. Monday. There was a lot of non-poker emotion around, as it was Sunday afternoon that Ryan Laplante talked about the Orlando shooting—which had happened early Sunday morning—at his bracelet ceremony.


I got to the house, finally got to sleep as light was starting to seep from behind the blackout curtains on my window, then woke up at 9:30am. Wrote up the report for the start of Day 2 and posted it, tried to catch up a little on the world outside and what was going on in the rest of the WSOP, but before I knew it, it was time to head back to the Rio for the 2pm start of HORSE.

The Millionaire Maker had been running over the weekend, and there were a number of Portland poker faces I ran across in the halls. Wayne Keller rolled up to me to say hi, and later on I ran across Darin Stout and Jim Rostel  (among others), who were there to rail Danny Elmore, who came in 18th out of nearly 7,200 entries. Elmore busted late on Day 3, but by now everyone knows that another Portland-are player, Lisa Meredith, went on to Day 4 to win half a million dollars after mostly playing $20 tournaments at Claudia’s, a mile from my house. Day 2 of the HORSE tournament wrapped up about 2am again, with two tables of eight players each coming back for Day 3.

Back up at 9:30 or so. Write the Day 3 intro (our guidelines say they’re supposed to be written the night before, but so far that hasn’t happened for me), then into the fray. We had two tables in an otherwise empty quarter of the Amazon Room to start with. The reporting desk was on the far side of the section, a “problem” Martin would sneer at. Then two minutes before the tournament was to start, the floorperson told players to put their chips back in their bags and ran them all the way across the room. My fellow reporter and I had to grab our computers and hurry to catch up, because we were fairly certain one of the players was going to bust on one of the first hands, since he came back for the day with just a single big bet.

Little did we know that there would be such a flurry of action as we had, with seven players busting in the course of ninety minutes, which meant a move to a secondary feature table, which was next to the “Thunderdome” where the final table of the Millionaire Maker was taking place. Fortunately, the placement of the media table was a little more protected than on the other secondary table (tertiary table?), which had been an issue on the $1.5K HORSE.

The chip leader through most of late Day 2 and up until almost dinner break on Day 3 was Jared Talarico, who I described in my Day 3 intro as having put on a “master class in relaxed aggression” (which was edited out) due to his being continually massaged for most of three days, blew up just before dinner break on the final table, losing a huge pot to Marco Johnson. In a series of about three hands, Talarico went from having more than half of the 6M chips in play to less than a 1M. There was no masseuse after the dinner break.

Johnson won the bracelet about midnight. I got home, watched the latest Game of Thrones, and slept until 10:30 (it was Wednesday, by now). I had planned to play the 11am 6-Max tournament at Planet Hollywood, but I was going to be late. Played it anyway and busted in Level 6, when I played 6x6x and the board ran out qxjx5xqx6x, natch, my caller had the qxjx and the better full house before I even made mine. Thought about playing the afternoon Big O game, but went back to the house, helped chop stuff up for tostadas, ate too much, had a couple of drinks, and went to bed earlier than I normally do even when I’m not reporting late into the night.

Damn you, Martin Harris!