I Could Almost Smell It

Encore Club Anniversary $25K Guarantee (12,000 chips)

I re-read parts of Lee Nelson’s Kill Everyone: Advanced Strategies for No-Limit Poker Tournaments and Sit-n-Gos on Saturday afternoon before this game, and I think that—despite my falling short of the money—I played some of the best poker of my life.

I got off to a very hot start, with some semi-strong holdings that encouraged me via Kill Everyone to a lot of three-betting. I managed to take down five of the first seven hands with only one showdown. I had 7x7x and was heads-up with a player in the blinds Several over cards appeared on the board and we essentially walked it to the river, when he showed ax6x which had paired the lower card but I had him beat. Then again, I broke off one hand where I’d flop-paired kx after ax showed on the turn and another where 2x2x was up against a pair of queens showing, so I was only up to 12,925 at the end of the first orbit despite having won a majority of the hands.

I sat quetly after that rush and waited for my opportunities. acjs won a big pot for me when it made two pair on the turn and then a spade flush on the river. Fifty minutes into the game I was up to 15,625.

I was saved from a huge loss with qxqx when I pushed back on a 1,600 re-raise pre-flop with a 3,200 four-bet and was called. axkx on the flop reined me in and I showed my queens when I folded. The guy in seat 10 flipped over kxkx and said something about “thanks for the chips.”

I got it back and more almost immediately. I picked up jx8x and paired the jack on a queen-high flop. He three-barreled it and tried to push me off the hand, but my pair of jacks ended up costing him 6,000 chips.

Then I got my own comeuppance trying to get tricky with ac7c. I only hit middle pair on the flop and a flush beat me. Seventy-five minutes in: 14,600 chips.

Just before the first break, a hand had one of the players in the tank for a couple of minutes before folding as the clock ticked down to less than a minute. A couple of the players headed off to get pizza or get in line for the bathrooms. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was in CO and when I looked at my cards I had kxkx. I raised and ended up heads-up with SB. The flop was jack-high, SB bet, I raised all-in and he called, to show axax. The board gave me no solace and his aces held up, leaving me with only 925 chips (my profit from the first orbit of the button).

I was still in, although extremely short-stacked even with the 8,000 chip add-on. Early on, I doubled with axkx v kxkx when an ace hit on the flop. at 2:22 into the game, I had 17,800 chips.

qs4s gave me a moment of deliberation from BTN before tossing it. When the hand played out, I would have hit a flush and beat the single pair that took a large pot.

Blinds were up to 300/600/75 when I called a raise of 1,800 from BTN with as9s. I hit top pair on the flop and pushed after a raise to win the hand. Then I lost several thousand playing with kxtx v 9x9x which made a set on the flop. At 2:50 I was back down to 14,000.

A push with 8x8x on an ace-high all-diamond flop took down another hand, then I picked up blinds and antes at 400/800/100 with a raise and 9x9x from HJ. Up to 16,125 at 3:10, then 19,000 at 3:30.

All-in from middle position with kxtx took blinds and antes again at 1,000/2,000/300, but four hours and forty minutes into the game I was still at 18,700 chips, below the amount of the starting stack and add-on.

I pushed on a 6,000 re-raise with an all-in holding ax5x in BB and managed to suck in some more chips, then I got extremely lucky with txtx when I pushed pre-flop from BTN and doubled through SB’s 8x8x. We both made sets on the flop, but I stayed ahead. That catapulted me to nearly chip average, with 53,000 chips at 4:50.

Sliding back down, I called an all-in of 13,600 with 6x6x. He had axkx and I almost got free, but he hit Broadway on the river. At 5:10 I was back down to 41,000. There were fifty of the original 154 players left.

Another river did me bad when I called another small (11,600) all-in with kxjx. We both paired out top card on the flop, then I paired the jack on the turn. Then the river gave him another four.

Right after that, I shoved on a 9,000 raise with kxtx and after some thought, the player gave it up. With that, I managed to get back up to 40,000 by 5:25, with 44 players remaining.

I doubled again by hitting my ace with ax9x v kxjx. and fifteen minutes later was sitting on 69,800 chips, which sounds great, but with only 38 players left after the start of break 3, was only 90% of the chip average. With blinds at 3,000/6,000/500, each orbit was costing 13,500. Not a good time to go card dead, but that’s what I did. I was down to 45,500 at 6:15 and there were 29 players left, with eleven spots to go before the money.

The BB hit me at 4,000/8,000/500 and I had jd9d. Not exactly something you’d write the Internet about, but the best thing I’d seen for a while. BTN raised to 24,000 and I went all-in for a total of 36,000, knowing the best I could expect were two live cards. He had axqx, he was the favorite as I expected, but it was still only 3:2. I almost made a straight with the series of mid-level cards that flopped, but his ace took the day.

Six-and-a-half hours. -100%ROI. Finished 26th of 154 players.

They Play H.O.R.S.E, Don’t They?

Carbon Poker $200 Guarantee H.O.R.S.E Freeroll

I’ve been playing the four daily Carbon Poker freerolls whenever I can, and one of the tournaments that fits into my schedule better than others is their H.O.R.S.E. game. which is great, because I have been getting increasingly interested in other forms of poker.

The games are relatively hard to beat, because while they tend to get 2,500 to 3,000 entrants, they only pay a couple dozen spots, so you really have to battle and get lucky to get even a small piece of the $200 guarantee. I started off placing in the mid-range, but in my most recent outing, I got up to the top 10%, where I’d be getting paid if it wasn’t a freeroll.

These particular tournaments cycle through Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, 7-Card Stud, and 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo, with the game changing every six hands. Everything’s played as Limit, which makes committing to draws a bit easier, and there are eight players to the table.

I sat out a few hands of Hold’em at the opening level of 20/40, then woke up with acad in SB. Two limpers; I raised, BB and the limpers called. The flop gave me the nut full house: as6d6h with only pocket 6c6s beating me, and I opened, BB called, UTG1 called, CO raised, I reraised, BB and UTG1 dropped out, CO made the final raise to 80, and I called. The 9h turn opened a very small possibility for another hand that could beat me (and the pocket sixes), a backdoor straight flush, but it seemed unlikely something like 7h8h or 8hth would have stayed through the previous betting. This time we ran it up to 120. Ditto for betting after a 4d on the river. As it turns out, with kc6s he didn’t have better than a set, and he only had a 4% chance to beat me. Another 120 went into the pot after the river’s 4d sealed the win for me, and I took in 840 chips.

I went out on a limb during the first round of Omaha Hi-Lo with 9h6h3c5d, hoping that if ax2x showed up I might snag the low, but I dropped 210 in a four-way race to the river.

A couple hands later, though, an inauspicious qd4s8hks did me some good. Pre-flop action raised the bet to 60 and five players saw the flop of jckd2c. BB checked to me and I bet 30, with one fold and 0ne call after me, a raise from CO, calls fromBB and me, and a call from HJ. The turn was 3s and it got checked around to CO who bet, but everyone called. The river td ruled out a low hand, which wasn’t my intention anyway, although I only had king high. Checks went around to CO again, who bet 60. BB folded but me and HJ stayed on. CO had a busted low hand with jckd2c3ctd; HJ had a pair of kings like me, but with kicker problems and believe it or not, a single pair took the entire pot of nearly 1,000 chips in an Omaha game.

My next hand was [k5]2cqdkc and I made it through betting rounds of 90, 90, and 60 to the river with nothing better than a pair of threes on the board and a five paired from my hand for the high, but because I held on, I caught the low hand and 382 chips.

The second hand of Razz won me 120 chips on the first round of betting. There was only one call after the bring-in and both other players folded after my completion with 9c3d7d.

I won an actual hand the next hand. Antes were 5, bring-in was 15, Completion/Small Limit was 50, and Large Limit was 100. I was third to act, with ts4c8c, and called the bring-in after UTG1. Four of us made it to fourth street. Bring-In (BI) was showing kh7c, UTG1 showed 5d2h, I added ah, and UTG4 showed kd3h. UTG1 led off with a bet of 50 and only BI folded. On fifth street, UTG1 showed 5d2hth, I had ts4c8cah5h, and UTG4 was showing kd3h9h. I was first to act, betting 100, with a call from UTG4 and a fold from UTG1. A jh for me and 3s for UTG4 slowed us both down on sixth street—my “low” went to ten—but with 6d down on seventh, I bet 100 and got called but UTG4 wasn’t even close, with two pairs in his hand and his best low a king-high.

I sat out the las two hands of the Razz round, getting high cards both times, then we were into 7-Card Stud. The first was a throw-away, but I had pocket 4d4c with 6s showing at 10/25/100/200. Only UTG (qs showing) and I called BI (2s showing). Fourth street gave both BI and UTG aces (ah and ac, respectively) but I picked up 4h. One of the folded players had as showing. UTG bet, I raised, BI folded, and we went to the max for 400 chips. I’d started the hand with 2,350 chips but UTG had only 630 to begin with, and after fifth street he was all-in. My hand ran out 4d4c6s4h3s8c5s, missing the straight and full house possibilities (as well as the four-of-a-kind). UTG had a respectable 7dqcqsqcjs6cad two pair by seventh street, but he fell and I took him out.

The next hand went almost as well. ac7d7s with me as UTG and just three of us to fourth street, with my disguised pair against a showing 4c and jh. BI got kc and UTG1 got qd, but I picked up 7c for a set and opened with a 100 bet. UTG1 called but BI dropped. Fifth street only gave me ts and UTG1 6s, when I bet 200 he folded.

I started the next hand with 3,284 chips, which must have made my head fuzzy, because I got all the way to seventh street with 7s9hksjcac2c8c. No pair, no straight draw after sixth street, no flush after fifth, just calls of two 200 chip bets. I only lost 435 (including ante) but what was I thinking?

By the next hand, things were clear again. My cards as UTG2 were a draw-heavy 6h7c5c. There were three nines and four diamonds showing among the eight players, with only one higher than a ten. Five saw fourth street (BI with 3d, UTG with 4d, UTG1 with td, me with 7h, and CO with qc). Action folded to me and naturally, I bet 100 on my two pair. Everyone folded, except for UTG1. 6s hit me on fifth street; UTG1 got 8s. I had most of the cards he needed for a straight between the 5h and 8s; three of the 9xs he needed above the 8s were showing on the board; he needed runner-runner for a flush. I bet 200 and he just called. Seventh street made me a full house: 7d. Meanwhile, UTG1 got another 8d. He led the betting, I raised to 400, and he didn’t re-raise. The only card that could have improved my hand was the 7s but I got 3h instead. UTG checked, I bet 200 and got a call. His hand was 8dadtd5h8s8h2h, and he’d been behind at every street, although he’d done as much as he could to keep the losses to a minimum. I was fortunate he hadn’t hit ax, tx, or 5x on seventh street. The pot was 2005 chips.

I was on a roll with Stud. On the next hand, two of us went to showdown without any bets after fourth street. My hand was 9hjs9stc6skc8h for just a pair of nines, but the other guy went all the way with 5c2c5d3c7sksad, or a pair of fives.

Not to say that I couldn’t lose. My chip balance was up to 4,250 and I went to showdown with a player starting with just 570. He was half-in after fourth street, with 8s9h showing. There wasn’t any more betting until after seventh street. My hand had run out with 7skhth5hacts8c. He was showing 8s9h9c6c and I though I might be able to get away with another pair-over-pair win. He called, though, because his seventh street card improved his hand and gave him as3s8s9h9c6c3d. It was about here that one of the players started complaining that the site was giving me cards I couldn’t expect in live play.

So I was rather glad a couple hands later to pick up 8d8ctd. The bigmouth was BI with 3h showing and completed for 150. UTG1 (with my 8s) and I called. BI got ks and checked. UTG1 got 9c and checked. I made a set with 8h and bet 150. Both of the other players came along. Fifth street made things tricky. While bigmouth BI got 2s, UTG1 got a showing pair with 9s. I got ad. Potentially, there was a bigger set out there, but I bet 300 and got calls from both players. Sixth street complicated things even more, with kd for BI, and just 4d and 4s for UTG1 and me. I was last to act after two checks and just let it lie. Seventh street’s qc didn’t improve me and surprisingly, everyone checked again. When the cards came out, BI had actc3hks2skd7c for not much from the beginning, UTG1 had just missed flush and straight draws with qsts8s9c9s4d6c, and my set of eights won a pot of 1,920. The next hand was 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo.

I won the second hand with a bet on fifth street, with a strong 2hkcah6has. I had almost 5,000 chips and nobody else at the table had more than 1,500.

The Hold’em round didn’t do me much good, and I folded the few hands I did play for the most part, dropping to 3,450. Meanwhile, another player with a stack the same size had been moved to the table, another had climbed up to 3,500, and a big stack with more than 9,000 was sat immediately behind me in the action. Then I picked up ks9s as SB. One of the other similarly-sized stacksin CO limped in for 200, I raised to 400, and only CO called. The 6h8h9h flop gave me a troublesome top pair, but I bet 200 and CO called. Same thing only for 400 chips after the jd turn card. The river kc gave me two pair and I bet another 400, getting a call and seeing I was up against 8djh. The pot was 3,000 chips. This sent the bigmouth into a paroxysm, claiming I’d sucked out. When I pointed out that I had top pair on the flop, one of the other dumbos chimed in to claim I hadn’t. Apparently, some people just aren’t paying attention.

I folded the rest of my Hold’em hands and we were back to Omaha Hi-Lo. On the first hand, I went too far down the road to revenge, trying to knock out the bigmouth (who had only 612 chips v. my 5,100) only to double him up. I had jhasac9h, which seemed as if it might be promising, but the board ran out jd7ckcjc8c, giving his 3c4c9sqd the best hand by the turn when he was all-in. Other contributions to the pot actually nearly quadded the little sucker.

The next hand got rid of him, though. It was a complicated five-way hand with four players all-in. Short stack in SB was in for just the ante of 25. UTG called the 250 BB, I called from UTG1 with 8hjckd7h, bigmouth in BTN called, BB raised to 500, and everyone who could called. The flop was 5h8djs, giving me top two pair. BB bet 250, UTG called, I raised, BTN called, BB and UTG called. 6d on the turn gave me an open-ended straight draw. This time, BB bet first for 500. UTG and I called, BTN raised, BB re-raised all-in for a total of 1,096. UTG called the re-raise, then I added another 500. BTN stuck in his last 149 chips and UTG called. 8c on the river gave me the second nut full house. UTG checked to me with just 379 chips left, and I bet 500, which he called. There were four pots to settle. The first was split between me and UTG. My full house won the high pot, he had the nut low with 4d2cah5s and we each took 826. There was a very small side pot including the bigmouth who had 6h3dasjh and had just blown the couple thousand chips he’d won on two pair and an iffy low. UTG and I split about 80 chips each from there. The first side pot had nearly 8,000 chips in it and included BB, who had a great low hand with good pre-flop possibilities: 2s5cac3c. BB and UTG quartered the low pot of 1,981 each and I took 3,982. We did the same with the 800 chip primary pot. All that work for a couple thousand chips profit, most of which went to the big stack when I folded my next hand.

A little ground was made up on the next hand. I was BB and there were four callers who saw the flop of 9s6djd. Everyone checked through to the 4h turn and everyone checked again. tc on the river gave me the nuts with a king-high straight, and I opened with a bet of 500, which was only called by one player, who showed a set of tens at showdown. He had me outchipped, so it didn’t cost him that much.

He got it back in spades on the next hand. Or, rather, he got it back in a six-high straight. I ventured out with 9s5dah3h: a decent if not perfect low hand. but the board ran ac5s3d2dkc, counterfeiting all of my low cards. My three pair was no match for 4d6c7std, which scooped more than 6,200 chips and knocked out two players.

An all-in call of 479 pre-flop was as far as I went with the next hand, which I folded after a bet on the river. I was down to 3,269 by the end of the Razz round before I managed to pick up another pot. I was dealt acjd2c, ante was 30, bring-in was 75, and limits were 300/600. Two players ahead of me called the bring-in (S1), then I completed the bet to 300. I got one caller (S8: 5h), BI dropped out and the two limpers (S3: js and S5: jh) called. The limpers got 5d and 5c on fourth street, I got 4s, and S8 picked up 3h. With the lowest hand, I opened for 300 and only S5 folded. On fifth street, S3 got 7d, I picked up a pair with as, and S8 was hit with kc. I figured nobody needed to know I was still short of a good low, so I bet 600. S8 folded and S2 called. Sixth street improved things a bit, putting a 9s out for S3 and 6h for me, but I checked. I was still jack-high. Our down seventh street didn’t help me any, with another pair (even if it was a low pair): 2s. Fortunately, when I bet another 600, S3 folded and I took a 4,215 chip pot.

Seven hands went by in 7-Card Stud before I went any further than fourth street. I was heads-up on sixth at 40/100/400/800 with 5h4dahkc9ckd against js7s6dtc showing when my opening bet of 800 and visible pair of kings induced a fold.

I lost a massive pot just a couple hands later in 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo. I ran down to the river calling bets at 40/125/500/1,000 with 5cqhqc4h7s5d6d and no better than pair until sixth street, when I was up against a visible 2d7dkdjh. I had three outs on seventh street (one of the fives was showing for S8) that could beat the likely flush, which is what S5 had. Lost 4,040 chips on that one.

Tried to make by own flush on the next hand. It ran out jsad8d2s9dkdah and my pair of aces chopped the pot with the only other player for the low. No gain there.

Finally, the next hand, I managed to pull out of the dive. By fifth street, I was heads-up with a pair and a straight flush draw: 9s8d7dtd9d. My opponent looked like he was headed low and straight with 2h4c5c showing. He had me outchipped and was just calling my bets; after fifth street, I had only 412 behind. When I picked up a straight with jc on sixth street, I was all-in and he called, even though he only had a 5h. When his cards flipped, he was showing qh3h2h4c5c5h. He needed the flush to win, but seventh street gave him tc. I improved with 5d to a flush. The pot was over 7,600 chips.

Back into Hold’em at 600/1,200/60 and I had as8s. I started the hand fifth in chips as UTG2 and was the first to call BB. SB raised, BB folded, and SB and I went up to the limit of 2,400, with him only having another 1,100 behind. The flop came out 8c3c7c, we went to the limit with SB all-in, and he flipped over acah. jc on the turn sealed my loss.

A couple of hands later with 4hjh as BB, I managed to outbid the only caller with a post-flop bet on a 7s7d7c board, but I was down to about 1,000 chips. Lost some chips with a weak king on the next hand, but right after that picked up another bad kd8h as BTN. I was all-in for 1,617 (and my 60 ante) pre-flop with two other players fighting over a side pot as well. The board rolled out 7s6sah3dkc. BB had just 9h7c and lost both pots to the 9s9c of UTG2. I tripled up with a pot of 5,631 because of the river king.

Omaha Hi-Lo at 80/800/1,600. UTG and ahastc8c. Three limpers and BB saw the qc7s7d flop. I lead out with a bet, only BB followed. Turn: jd. River 2d. We both checked it through and my aces were good against kckd3h5s. I’d made a bit of a comeback, up over 8,000.

I had straight and flush draw possibilities on BB with 8s5ctdjc. Four players limped in and we got a flop of 6dqcac. I lead into my flush and Broadway draws with a bet of 800. Nobody raised and only one player folded. The turn of 2h wasn’t helpful to my cause, as I didn’t have anything decent for a low, and I had to call a bet of 1,600 to see the river. The 5s river busted me and I folded. The winner paired queens and sixes and scooped the low hand, the loser paired queens and twos.

My last hand was 2h6hjh4h and I was all-in after the turn on wing and a prayer on the 3s2d4d6dkc board. It was the wrong color red for me, though, with flushes winning high hands in four pots where everyone but me took something out.

3.5 hours, 103 hands. Freeroll. Finished 178th of 2717 entries.

The Cost of Inattentiveness

It’s bad enough to lose a hand when you’re not paying close enough attention, but losing one because the sealer is joshing with the table about sports is really galling.

I was in seat two for a noon tournament yesterday and we were still on the first round of the button. I limped in with 9h7h and the flop made me top pair, but it also had three cards to a mid-level straight. The turn brought another 9d, making me top set, but adding a flush draw to the board. There were five or six players still in the hand, I was next-to-last to act after a raise, and called, but before the final player could act, the dealer–who’d been chatting away the whole time–flipped the river 8x, which paired the board, making me a full house. The player to my left spoke up, frustrated, the card was shuffled back into the deck as it should have been, he raised, I re-raised when it got back to me, and by the time the new river came out there were only three of us in the hand. The new river made the flush without pairing the board or either of the kickers in my hand or the guy on my left, who would have chopped it with me if the dealer had been paying attention.

A few hands later, when the same player was all-in, he flipped his hand over when he was called and the dealer began to pull them into the muck until the player protested and the board was run out. The calling player’s hand had already touched the muck, the dealer pulled the cards out and asked the player if they were his, then ran out the board, and the all-in player ended up re-buying, but I think I might have waited for a different table and a different dealer.

Gold Card

Cake Poker 2d Gold Card $500 Guarantee 6-Max Freeroll (2,000 chips)

I’ve had this Gold Card player bonus for ages but never seemed to find one of the tournaments where I could use the thing. Then, the other day, I got an email notification and voila! there I was.

The event was an unlimited re-buy format, with an add-on. I had exactly one Gold Card, I wasn’t in a position to do either, so I didn’t exactly have high expectations. Then again, my opening had was UTG1 with qdas and I re-raised UTG’s raise of 40 to 80 (starting blinds were 10/20). SB and UTG called, the jd2hts flop gave me a Broadway draw and not much else. UTG bet the pot for 260 and I called, with SB following along. kh made my straight on the turn and I bet the pot—now 1,040 chips—after action was checked to me. Both of the others folded, and I was up 700 chips for the second hand.

I won another few hundred chips over the next hands, then got ahqs again as UTG. I raised to 80, got a re-raise to 140 from CO, three-bet to 400 after everyone else cleared out, then got called. The flop was 5c2h6d and I bet another 400 to open, getting a call. 9c on the river was not the card I wanted to see, I checked, CO went in for 815 with just 385 behind, and I had to fold, leaving me with just a tad more than the starting stack.

I slid all the way down to 1,705 over the next hands. Then, for some reason, I called a UTG raise to 60 (at 15/30) in BTN with just 8sqd. Both blinds got out of the way and we were heads-up. I made middle pair on the 5hac8h flop but it didn’t look promising. UTG bet just 30 (with a stack of 5,300), though so I decided to give the impression of strength by raising to 255. He called. So much for the impression.

Then again, the qc on the turn actually gave me a decent hand. UTG checked, I put out 675—about half my stack—and he called. The last card was kd, putting an end to any flushes but making possible any number of better hands from standard starting ranges. I pushed after the check with my two pair, nonetheless and, UTG folded. It wasn’t a double-up but it made a big difference.

I got out of danger territory five hands later with jhks as SB. I’d lost about 400 chips in the intervening hands, blinds were 25/50. UTG1 (the player I’d just taken 1,000 chips off of) called. CO called. I raised to 175, pushing out BB. UTG1 and CO called. The flop hit me hard: thadqh. I had the best straight, but I checked the flop and everyone else was cautious, as well. 2d on the turn put a backdoor flush out of my reach (which turned out to be a good thing) but opened the possibility of two flush draws making it. I opened with a bet of 288, got called by UTG1, and forced CO to fold. I wasn’t particularly happy about the 2s on the river pairing the board, but I pushed all-in with 1,827. That was more than half the stack of UTG1, but he called and showed ah7s. My straight was good.

Another great opportunity hit five hands after that. I was BB with 4h4d. UTG1 raised to 100. BTN and I called. The flop was 4c4skh. I checked it, UTG1 checked it, BTN put out a tentative bet of 50. I bet half the port for 263, UTG1 called, and BTN went away. 5h on the turn and I still had four of a kind. I checked and let UTG1 take the lead with a bet of 451. I put more than half my stack in as a raise: 2,254. He pushed for 3,927, a bit less than half my chips. I called and he showed kskd. A great hand—and a winner if he could catch the last king on the river—but behind me for the moment. The last card was jc, and I was up to 9,270 at just over 15 minutes into the game.

I diled for more than half an hour, ranging between 9,000 and 13,000 chips as the blind levels crept up to 200/400/40. By my next significant hand, I had just 9,003 chips at a five-handed table with one player just under 4,000 and three others ranging from 20,500 to 31,600. I was dealt qhah on BTN. UTG (with 29,000 chips) called the big blind, CO (the largest stack) raised to 2,000, and I pushed all-in. SB (the smallest of the big stacks) folded, BB (the short stack) called, and UTG called. The big stack abandoned his 2,000 raise. Everyone flipped and BB showed kd2s, with UTG displaying 7s7d. I was more likely than either of the others to win but I was still on the wrong side of the coin flip. The 3hjh2c flop put me in positive territory—at least as far as stats go—and my win was sealed with 8h on the turn. The win put me at 24,326 chips.

I didn’t have to wait as long for another bump, although it wasn’t nearly as large, either. Blinds were up to 400/800/75, I was BTN with kdqd and third in chips at the table. UTG (with a couple thousand fewer chips than my 28,000) raised to 2,400. The two big stacks folded. I called, SB folded, and the short stack (with just over 5,500) called. The ts9h9c flop didn’t exactly hit me, but I did have an inside straight draw. Everyone checked. The turn qs gave me top pair and a decent kicker (plus my draw), and when BB pushed and UTG folded, I had to call the extra 3,150. BB showed the same pair, suited but with a bad kicker: qc3c. The ks on the river sealed the elimination and put me up 8,725 chips.

It was about ten minutes later that I broke the 40,000 barrier. Blinds were 500/1000/100, I was BTN with qsqc and just over 30,000.SB and UTG1 were under 10,000, UTG had 40,000, CO was about 35,000, and BB was lording it over the table with almost 100,000. UTG folded, the short stack in UTG1 called, CO folded, and I raised to 5,000. SB pushed for 10,180, BB and UTG1 folded, and I called, to see khad. The flop was against me, with ksts4h, but the turn resurrected flipped the odds with qd. Just a 9h on the river and I was up to 42,816.

Twelve hands later, the other short stack and a couple other players had come and gone. The big stack two positions to my left was sitting on 141,000 chips. Immediately to my left was a stack of 75,000. There were two of us in the 40,000-45000 range and two more between 20,000 and 25,000. Blinds were up to 600/1,200/120. I was BTN again, with ah9h. UTG folded and UTG1 put 4,920—about a quarter of his stack—into play, with only 720 in the pot. CO folded and I called; the blinds folded. The flop was 3hqs8s and the small stack pushed with 15,816. With the big stacks out of the way, I didn’t feel bad about calling and saw he had a 9sjd. I was ahead, but he did have a potential straight draw as well as a backdoor flush draw. The turn, though, was 2c and the river was ks, so neither possibility quite made it and I was over 65,000.

That success didn’t last long. Just two hands later I raised UTG to 5,000 with 9s9c. Everyone got out of the way except for BB, the other short stack with 25,000 who pushed all-in. I called and was running against kcah. The board ran out kdjs8d5h6d and I was back below where I’d been two hands before.

Three hands in a row just six hands later put me into major contention. Blinds were 800/1,600/150. BTN had 34,000 chips, SB had 64,000, BB was the player who’d knocked me down, with 55,000. I was UTG with 34,000 (yes, I’d lost even more chips). UTG1 was over 92,000 and the big stack was CO at 138,000. I got dealt acad and just called, with UTG1, BTN, SB following along. BB checked his option. The flop was 2s6d8h and SB bet 4,450. BB folded and I pushed for a total of 31,861. Everyone folded and I took a pot of 11,600.

My next hand as BB was ackh. Action folded to BTN who bet 4,050. SB folded. BTN had me out-chipped by nearly 10,000. I pushed again and he called with jhqd. Nearly 92,000 in the pot and the flop was 5sks6c. I won it with a 2h on the turn but the river ad wasn’t bad to see. I was a second at the table by a small amount.

astd came to me next as SB. The stack I’d just broken down went all-in with 12,442 chips. I went all-in rather than just calling, hoping that BB who I just barely had covered wouldn’t call. He folded and I was up against 9dth. The jsqhad flop opened up the possibility of a chop, but no kx appeared and I eliminated the player to put me over 106,000.

Four hands later (1,000/2,000/200) I was BB again (we were still five-handed). There hadn’t been a lot of chip movement, I was around 103,000, the big stack had 134,000, the guy between us had 87,000, and there were two stacks of 42,000 and 50,000. My cards were tstd. UTG called, then action folded around to me and I raised to 10,000. UTG called. The flop was 5hkh3d and I raised the stakes with a 20,000 bet. UTG called again. The turn was 2s. I checked, UTG bet 31,000. I was reasonably sure he didn’t have a kx and unless he’d bet 10,000 pre-flop with 5x3x, I was reasonably sure I was ahead, so I called. The river was a qs. I checked again and UTG went all-in. There was more than 150,000 in the pot—61,000 of it was mine—I called and he flipped 5c6c for a bluff gone seriously wrong.

With 192,000 chips, I was the tournament leader.

I managed to hold onto the lead for about thirty hands, despite a slowly decreasing stack. Most of the other players near the top were experiencing the same phenomena. The player to my right went on a streak just as we hit the two hour mark, overtaking me by winning a 61,000 chip pot in one hand, then scoring a knockout against another similarly-sized stack that had just arrived at the table six hands later which put him over 310,000.

Blinds were 2,500/5,000/500 and we were five-handed again. I had 145,000 chips as UTG1, a new player had just moved onto my left with 45,000. The other three players had all been at the table for a while, with BTN holding 131,000, BB 115,000, and UTG still just over 300,000 (SB was dead). My hand was 7dad and when the big stack folded I min-raised to 10,000. The only caller was BB. The flop was kdkcah, BB checked and I checked behind. 2h on the turn, BB checked, I bet 22,500, and BB re-raised to 45,000. This is where I made my mistake. Of course he had the kx; I went all-in, he called and showed ksjc. I got two pair with the river 7c but that didn’t beat a set of kings. I lost 115,000 chips and was down to about 30,500, short stack on the table now with a stack of over 230,000 ahead of the 300,000 stack.

I was UTG on the next hand with jsad. Not a Mutant jack, but okay for a short-stack hand. I went all-in and got a call from the biggest stack in BB with 9s4s. He hit top pair on the flop: 9h7s5c and it looked like it was curtains, but the turn was ac and the river made me two pair with jc. I was back up to 65,000.

2h3h on BB the next hand didn’t look quite as like likely to win, but I got a walk and won 4,500 chips in antes and the small blind.

I was still on a stack of only 14bb. The next hand as SB, I got ac8d. The big stack (still with 270,000 chips) raised to 15,000 from BTN after UTG and CO folded. I pushed with just under 69,000, BB folded, and the big stack called with jcts. Both of us missed the 2c9c6d flop. The 7h on the turn gave him a possible gut-shot straight draw, but mine was open-ended. Nothing came through, though, except for a board pair, with 7d for the river, and suddenly I was back up over 145,000.

A few hands later, I got askc as BB. UTG—with a stack just a little smaller than mine—opened with a min-raise (at 2,500/5,000/500)—and action folded to me. I pushed, BB folded, and I snagged another 14,500 chips.

My SB on the next hand was 5c7c. UTG and CO called, I called, and BB let it ride. Only the largest stack sat the hand out. The flop was 2h5d8s and I was assuming middle pair 0n that board was at least a contender. I opened with a feeler of 5,000, only UTG—the short stack at the table with about 30,000—called. qc on the turn and I continued pressing with another 5,000 bet. He called again. The river gave me 7d. It was as good as it was going to get with this hand and I bet the pot, for 42,500. With only 20,000 left, UTG folded and I was up to 185,000.

Getting tricky with bad cards can become a bad habit, though. My next BB was at 3,000/6,000/600 and I was dealt 2h5c. Action folded to the big stack—now down to only 200,000—and he raised to 12,000. Like a fool, I followed along, hitting the bottom end of the 9h8h2c flop. SB bet 18,400 and I called, only to see ks on the turn. We both checked. The qh on the river gave him the opening to push all-in and I had to fold, losing 31,000 on a hand that should have been thrown away.

I took another hit trying to play 2das. I four-flushed by the turn but with the lowest possible diamond flush. By two hours and fifteen minutes into the match, I was back down to 122,000.

Three of us saw the flop after a min-raise to 12,000 with me in SB holding js9h. I had an inside straight draw on the 6hkcqs flop and opened with 12,000. One player called. kd on the turn didn’t do me any good, but I opened with another 12,000 and got a fold with my bluff to win 39,000 chips.

A min-bet from BTN with ks8s took down the blinds and antes on the next hand and moved me back up to 177,000 chips.

I called with a similar 8ckd on the next hand as CO. SB called and BB checked. The ad6h8s board wasn’t ideal for me, but I did have a piece and position. BB (short stack at the table with 75,000 at the beginning of the hand) bet 8,000 and I re-raised to 30,400. SB folded and BB gave it up. I was over 200,000.

Four hands later, I was already back under 180,000 (with blinds at 4,000/8,000/800) when I got qdkc as SB. I was second in chips at the table, with the former big stack still bigger at 190,000+. There were three stacks of about 140,000 to 150,000 and one just over 50,000. UTG raised to 20,400 and action folded to me. I called; BB called. 66,000 in the pot and the flop was qh2d4c. I pushed 158,000 chips into the middle (or, rather, pushed a button) and the others folded. I didn’t want to see any more cards on that hand.

With 223,000 chips, I was about 30,000 ahead of anyone else at the table. I wasn’t the tournament chip lead, but I was in the top ranks again, and the field had narrowed considerably from the original 564 entries. I hadn’t rebought or added on (I’d seen one player rebuy six or seven times after repeatedly going all-in on every hand). I’d managed to almost immediately come back from a devastating loss of nearly 80% of my chips, an ability I rather pride myself on (I once managed to build from 55 chips to more than 30,000 after losing 99.5% of my chips axqx v. axkx). But pride goeth before a fall (or a devastating chip loss) as they say.

That loss came at the 5,000/10,000/1,000 level, after about two hours and twenty-five minutes of play. I was big stack at the table, with 196,000 chips, after the guy who’d just taken a pot of 20,000 to move ahead of me had been moved for table balancing. I got 2h2c as BB, action folded to SB (with the second-largest stack) who went all-in and I called with just 17,680 behind. He flipped ac4c and we were in a true 50%-50% coin flip for a pot worth 360,000. The flop of 6h3c3d gave me a 4:3 advantage, then the flush possibilities of a 7c turn drew us even again. He didn’t get the flush, though. He got a 5d for the river straight.

I dropped down to 11,680 after giving up my SB on the next hand with qd9c, but I pushed from BTN with 3cad and got two callers, which tripled me up after SB pushed BB out with an all-in bet on the turn when he made a pair of nines, only to lose to my ace pairing on the river (the three paired on the flop). Still, I had less than 4bb in a six-handed game. My last hand, I shipped with a weak king, was called by a less-weak king, and lost when his kicker paired on the flop.

147 minutes. 215 hands. 22nd of 564 entrants. infinite ROI, won 0.5% of prize pool.

Return of the Mutant Jack

Encore Club $10K Guarantee (10,000 chips)

The club email announced this as the last of the monthly $10Ks. Once you got there you found out it was because they’re changing up their schedule after the summer and running it every week. We’ll have to see if the prize pools stay the same size; this one ran to $23,500, with a top prize of $5,675.

I got to the game halfway through the first hour, with the blinds already in the second (50/100) level, although the dead stack I bought into didn’t seem affected. Supposedly, I got one of the last two seats of the night, back in the “Batcave” among the employee bikes and personal items.

My first play was a rather tricky kd2d, calling 350 pre-flop.  I made bottom pair on the non-diamond flop and folded to a bet of 700. Following ah7h to four hearts on the turn, I folded again to an 800 bet.

More speculation with kcqs cost me 500 to see the flop along with four others, three of whom folded along with me to a 400 post-flop bet. as6h (was I getting frustrated?) and 200 more chips were gone once there was a 525 bet after the flop. My stack was down to 8,050 at one hour into the game.

Blinds were 150/300/25 (level 4) when I got my first premium hand—or at least jxjx—in CO position. I re-raised pre-flop to 2,000 and pushed all-in after the flop, inducing a fold from the one caller. That put me back up just over the starting stack, with 10,500 chips at ninety minutes (or an hour after I’d arrived).

I didn’t even have to think about tossing kx3x pre-flop on the last hand before the first break, but it would have made Broadway and taken down a nice pot if I hadn’t. With the 7,000 chip add-on, I started round 2 with 16,825.

Had to give up 1,600 on axtx after seeing the flop. Likewise, jh2h was a loser of 1,200 when the flop showed no heart (although I did make bottom pair). Another axtx on BTN paired my ax on the flop, with qx and kx showing up by the turn. I bet hard and fast and got a fold before the river to take the hand. Still, at 2:30 into the game I was down to 14,975.

Suited JT has become a sort of favorite lately, and in the last hand before the Batcave table broke, I won a decent pot from S—the manager of the Encore—with jctc.

My first win at the new table was one step down: 9hth. I’d made a straight by the turn and hit the flush on the river. With a couple of wins I’d doubled up to 30,100 before the third hour of the game.

Payed an unsuited jxtx and hit top pair on the flop, with a bet taking the pot. Then I hit a set on a flop with 3x3x in my hand and pushed to take it down, bringing me up to 36,500 by 3:15.

There was a post-flop bet of 3,500 ahead of me with adqx on BTN. I had top pair and pushed all-in. BB called with kdqd, hitting the flush by the river. One more diamond…. That cut me in half, to 17,275.

I was saved by the Mutant Jack. I called a smaller stack’s all-in with adjd and was up against axtx, getting a knockout and a chip infusion. Then a couple of big rounds of betting with the guy who’d hit the flush against me led to my jdtd making Broadway. In twenty minutes I’d made up my ground and then some, with 48,225 chips.

Blinds were up to 600/1,200/200. and I speculated 6,000 to see the flop with ks8s. I missed entirely. Two of the other callers went all-in and it was 6x6x v. axjx, with the pair winning with a six-high straight.

At break 2 there were 77 of the original 141 players left.

I lost big drawing to s ten-high spade straight flush from the bottom end and was down to 20,500 at 4:05.

Called with adtd in UTG (at 800/1,600/200) with three more in the hand behind me. I bet just 2,000 after pairing the ax on the flop and took the pot. Then I lost 4,800 in SB to see the flop with kxqx.

Seriously short-stacked, I called a larger all-in from BTN with ac4c hoping to have my ax live, at least.  Instead, I was up against axqx. I managed to get a 4x on the flop, though, and doubled up.

I had the asqx on the next hand and re-raised all-in from CO. The original raiser had a slightly smaller stack than me. He called and flipped axkx. There were four black cards on the deck by the turn and I held my breath for a minute but only three of them were spades. That cut me down to 2,000 chips.

Back to ax4x. All-in with four limps ahead of me, got called by txtx and I was out.

Four-and-a-half hours. -100% ROI. 61st of 141 players.

The Waiting Game

Portland Players Club Road to Pendleton $1,500 Guarantee (7,000 chips)

Both my regular Monday night games were off this week, so I took the hint from the SMS messages I kept getting and headed over to PPC for an 11am game. I’d started my tally of live games with a couple of wins in early May at PPC, but their summer schedule wasn’t in sync with my habits and I hadn’t been in for a bit. Somehow, I managed to hit the final table with a big chip lead, and while I was probably 2:1 over the guy who made it to heads-up with me I suggested an even chop since the amount of money was only $200 total. After a re-buy, add-on, and tip, that left me more than enough to enter the evening’s guarantee tournament. On top of the prize money, PPC was adding a $200 buy-in to the Wildhorse Fall Poker Round-Up for the first-place winner and a $100

I picked up a 1,000 early-registration bonus chip then played absolutely no hands through level 1. On my first turn as BB in level 2, I was dealt 4x4x. A raise was made to 475 pre-flop with several callers and a 4x hit on the flop. I checked and by the time action got around to me again there were two all-ins, I called, and both of them were on draws. qhth won the hand with a flush on the turn. I re-bought.

Small blind with my new stack and I had kxkx, a considerably better pair. I bet it on the flop heads-up and took a small pot.

Played axqx and cautiously walked to the river against another hand who showed just kx-high when we got there. At the end of the second level, I was holding 9,450 chips. Above the starting stack but not the sum total of chips I’d received during the tournament by a piece.

Controversy ensued when I called an all-in with jhth and knocked out a player with axkx. I gave my opinion on the relative strengths of JTs, but there was a some snorting and hooting.

My luck with flushes proved itself again when I dropped 4,000 chips on kc4c with two more clubs on the flop and I didn’t get there. My stack was up to 10,925 at the 55-minute mark.

The last hand before the second break, I had jx9x and the flop was kxtxtx. All I needed was a qx but I got better. Thankfully, I stuck to the hand, because both the turn and river were 9x9x. I called a big raise and the guy asked me if I’d had the tx. I said: “No, but I have the 9x.” That didn’t set well. The win and a 5,000 chip add-on gave me 22.600 with 47 of the 49 original players left.

Raised with axjx to 625 but whiffed the 9xtx3x flop. I bet another 1,600 but two callers followed me down and with a 3x on the turn I check-folded to a bet. Then I blew more than 3,000 chips trying to play the tx2x “Brunson” hand. I made top pair on the flop 7sts9c but jc on the turn killed the action for me.

Another 5x5x from CO took the blinds and the single caller ahead of me. I was at 18,100 with twenty minutes left in the second hour.

I nearly made the wheel with ax4x on a board of qx2x3x6x2x, but the 3s5s of J—one of the dealers at PPC—made his pair. My own spades shortly thereafter (4s8s) had to fold to a re-raise of 1,600 from 400. I pushed 5,000 after a raise to 1,000 with blinds at 200/400; I did not record the hand I did not play. Even that got me only to 16,100 at the two-hour mark.

Took the blinds again with a 2,300 raise and ad9d, then I just about doubled by knocking out a player. I held kh2h and made bottom pair on the flop. He shoved post-flop with ahth. I took a little time to call and he never made a pair. It was kind of fun, because he’d been one of the whiniest about my jxtx call.

Didn’t even get to count my chips before a hand came up with jxjx. I shoved all-in from late position, the guy on my left called immediately and flipped over kxkx. What else was he going to do? That cost me 5,475, and even with the knockout, I’d only made it to 17,775 by 2:15 into the tournament.

There were 34 players left when the second break started.

Missed a Broadway draw for 4,500 and 5,000 on a miserable misguided attempt to do something with 6x2x. Half-an-hour later another 11,000 had been whittled off.

I went out in style with jctc I pushed pre-flop and got called by qsjs.

Three hours. -100% ROI. Placed 30th of 49.

No Cigar

Final Table Sunday $5,000 Guarantee (10,000 chips)

Started off the tournament with a 1,000 chip early registration bonus. I was in seat 7 at the sixth table; seat 2 had a woman who started pushing from the first hand. Within the first orbit, she’d already lost most of her stack to one player, then busted on the hand before the button got to me. After a rebuy, she made a big raise from UTG1, action folded to me, and I called with adkd. The flop was ax3x4x, she shoved even before all her new chips got to the table, I called, and she flipped qxqx against my aces. The turn and river were low and with only one rebuy, she was out.

I promptly set about sharing the wealth with my tablemates, losing over 3,000 with jxjx against 8x8x when my opponent hit a ten-high straight. I’d have had the better straight if an 8x had shown up, but the chances were restricted. 8xs were my downfall on the next hand as well, with a couple thousand following ks8s v 2s3s down the hole on a flop of 2x2x8x. Although I’d had more than 20,000 after the knockout, I was back down to 14,350 at fifty minutes.

The slide continued with speculation on a qxtx hand and a axkx8x7x6x board. jx or 9x would have made me a happy man. 12,600 chips at eighty minutes. I coasted into the first break, bought the 8,000 chip add-on, and started the second segment of the tournament with 20,100 chips.

I folded kxtx after a pre-flop call of 1,100 in the SB. kxkx was the winner of the hand, so that was probably a good idea. 6x6x did manage to win me a small pot.

With the blinds at 100/200, I raised to 500 with ax9x, getting two calles. Then BB went all-in for more than 14,000 and I folded. We all folded.

jxjx picked the wrong time to shove, i.e. when I had axax. I managed to double up and was back in positive territory with 35,000 chips two-and-a-half hours into the match.

By the time of my next major action, the blinds had moved up to 300/600. I raised to 2,000 with 9x9x, getting a single call and then a re-raise to 6,000. I called, and the previous caller came along. Top card on the flop was qx but there was also another 9x. I opened all-in and since my stack was now large enough to do some serious damage, the other two folded. At the second break, I was holding 48,300 chips, about 5% of the total in play. There were 39 of the original 56 players remaining.

I moved to table 1 shortly after the break ended and took some time to get my footing, losing consecutive hands with 4x4x on the BB and kxqx on SB. At three hours and twenty minutes, I was down to 41,400.

Then I got fancy with 5h6h. There wasn’t much on the flop apart from a lone heart, but I stayed with the hand, and another heart showed on the turn. There was a bet of 2,500 and two calls. I re-raised to 7,500 and got calls. The river gave me a king-high flush—but hardly the best king-high flush—and it was checked through. There was nothing better than two pair behind me.

On my next SB, I lived dangerously with 7d2d. I made middle pair on a kx-high flop and bet 2,000, hoping to scare someone away but got two callers. The turn was a 6x and I had to call another 5,000 to see the showdown but my sevens were good. In less than half an hour I’d gained over 30,000 chips, making it to 73,200.

From there, I called a 9,500 chip all-in with KsJs but folded after a bet from another caller with only one spade on the flop. Running spades with the as on the river would have given me the nut flush and a major win.

The player on my left had been whining about calls—particularly my calls—ever since I’d gotten to the table. I put him all-in with 6x6x and he called with axqx. Three kx on the board made me a full house and took him out. Because of the previous loss, though, I was still only at 75,400 when we’d been playing for four hours.

Speculating with 6s7s cost me after my flush draw caught 7x on the river. I called a heads-up bet of 2,000 and thought I’d won from the comment by the player on my right but he was slow-rolling me with kc7c. My stack was down to 68,400 at break 2 with 21 players left.

Once action started up again it was downhill to the end. I lost more than 10,000 chips with ad6d and didn’t hit anything. A pair of qxs took the hand.

I hit top pair with ax8x from the BB and bet 5,000 against SB for a win, but was down to 46,600 at 4:50 into the game.

Pushing with 8x8x from BB, I was nearly felted in a three-way all-in against kxqx and qxjx. kxqx double-paired on the flop and did not look back. I lost 42,200 chips but managed to double up on the next hand with adqd when I hit ax on the flop. Fifteen minutes later I’d managed to move back up from the basement to an even 34,000.

The last hand of the match for me was a shove with a premuium pair: txtx. Unfortunately, the guy to my left was more premium: jxjx. Didn’t quite make the final table.

Five hours and twenty minutes. -100% ROI. Placed 13th of 56.

Tournament of Loser

Encore Club $3,000 Tournament of Champions (8,000 chips)

Walked into Encore about 8pm thinking I’d be buying into a game running alternately to the monthly TOC. Apparently, if you show up on the first Saturday and they’ve still got space, you can freeroll for the $20 entry fee. I had a full players card and got on for just $10. The August TOC was my last big win; it’s been a couple of lean months.

Blinds were already 75/150, and the first hour was unpromising. I had to lay down kxkx from BB after an ax showed up on the flop when. I managed to pick off a bunch of raises and calls with 8x8x and an all-in and even luckboxed into a flush holding a 5d. But the 5,000 chip add-on at the break got me just back to the starting stack.

Managed to double up after our table broke, then lost a good chunk in a split pot holding txtx v axkx and axjx when the shortest stack matched their jx on the flop. Shortly after, the no-longer-shortest stack took me out. I’d raised with ksjc, the board was kx7x4x and I went all-in. NLSS called, flipped kh7h, the last kx came on the turn, and without a jx at the river I was out.

Two hours. -100% ROI. Placed 71st of 130.