Mobbed Up

The Caesars Palace Kick-Off Classic Seniors tournament was a small affair, just 43 entries, but it had a decent prize pool because of the $350 entry fee.

I flew down to Las Vegas on the morning of September 11 (whee!) after working until midnight Monday. Got a couple hours of sleep at home before I headed to the airport, then another 45 minutes or so on the plane. I did the $50 upgrade to first class so I could take advantage of the leg room and wider seat. Got in a cab from McCarran International to Caesars, and checked in on the number of registrants at the poker room cashier.

I’d made some calculations about what the payouts would be at various numbers of players, because some of the events had been rather small–@CLVPoker had been tweeting that they’d been having to add money to the prize pools for the series–and I figured that if there were just a handful of entries I’d just wait for the noon $130 $15K guarantee tournament. Even with only 13 players registered ahead of me at ten minutes before start, I figured the median payout would be worthwhile, and there were more than two hours for late registration and re-entry.

I picked up some chips with axax on my third hand in the big blind. Forty-five minutes into the game, I’d lost ground, but still had 20,000 (100BB) of my original 25,000. The tournament had 38 entries by that time, although 4 had already fallen by the wayside.

My original seat had me placed next to a “New Yawk” guy with one of those personalities that you either love or that rubs you the wrong way. He was quite effusive when he was picking up chips, but a guy at the far end of the table with a Mexican flag on his ball cap who’d lost several big hands then cracked New Yawk’s aces with a flopped set of threes and doubled up. On his next BB, there were a couple of limps and when the dealer asked him about his option, New Yawk contemptuously threw his blind chips in the middle to check, which wasn’t particularly impressive considering that we were at 100/200, with the smallest chips in play being 50s.

Then I made one of the stupid mistakes that seem to be my hallmark in Vegas tournaments. I picked up the Mutant Jack hand and intended to 3x raise to 900 but my mouth started to say “thousand” instead of “hundred.” I didn’t quite finish the word, but a ruling from the floor made it stand so a big chunk of my chips were in. I got called and hit the nut flush draw, then shoved to try to get a fold, but got called and ended up losing half my stack. Fortunately, I managed to recover fairly quickly, and 100 minutes into the game (and aces again as big blind) and I was back over starting stack.

At the first break, there were 34 or 42 entries remaining and the chip average was just under 31,000. I had only 25,800, but that was still 43BB, so things were going fine, so far as I was concerned.

Just after the break I knocked out a player with axkx v qxjx and essentially doubled to more than 50,000. Registration closed shortly thereafter, at the aforementioned 43 players and a prize pool of $12,513.

The next hour was very quiet for me. I wasn’t picking up any hands. There was a very aggressive Asian woman in the spot where the Mexican guy had been seated earlier (he was still playing at another table, New Yawk had eventually succumbed). Nothing much was coming my way for cards but we were down to about 25 players and I had 49BB. The Asian lady in seat 10 had 80BB and was the chip leader. It seemed like most everyone knew either each other or the dealers reasonably well, so I felt a little odd-man-out, but it didn’t bother me.

A friend messaged me to ask what the table was like; this was my reply: They’re old people. They play like old people mostly. Like I am these days.

A little bit later, I raised with axjx and ended up at the river of a 8x4x6x4xtx board and three-barreled it to take down the pot, putting me up around 58,000, only to have a KarmaBite™ cut me in half by breaking my txtx with 4x4x hitting a straight.

Five hours in and I was down under the starting stack, with just 21,000 chips and not even 11BB. My all-in lucky catch was with an ax2x shove from BTN. SB called with axtx. A deuce hit the flop and doubled me up. Just a little bit later and with even more chips I raised kxkx 5x from early position with 15BB behind and the lady in seat 10 shoved. I called and she flipped over 5x2x. My heart just about stopped as the board ran out 6x5x3x3x3x. That put me up over 90,000, nearing twice the chip average. Seat ten went on a quick rampage and knocked out a player with a similar-sized stack, going back up to 120,000 or so.

16 players left five-and-a-half hours in. 101,000 chips and 34BB for me. 5 more were out in the next half-hour and I’d climbed to 120,000 (30BB). Then 150,000 just before dinner break. We were at the final table just before break and there was some talk about not taking the break but I, for one, was ready and we still had four or five players to go before the money bubble (only five places paid).

Ran across the street to The Quad (my go-to home in Vegas) on dinner break to check into my room and dump my bag. Sat for a little bit, called my wife, then got back to work.

The big hand of the night was against the woman who’d doubled me up earlier. I had A8s and called a 4x raise of 24,000 from BB, then bet 25,000 on a rainbow flop of 7x9xtx. She shoved 50,000 and I thought about it for a little bit before I called. She had kxqx, so I was extremely fortunate that the high end of my straight draw didn’t come through. Neither of us paired. She seemed a little shocked that I called, but she was out in 9th place and I had over 20% of the chips in play.

Most of that went away in just a few minutes when my qxqx were beat by kxjx. That loss knocked me down from 216,000 to 80,000 (10BB). Doubled back up against the same guy with txtx v axtx. Then I knocked out a player holding axtx with kx9x. Twenty minutes after losing my big stack, I was back up to 200,000 (20BB by then) and we were at six players. There, we made a deal to pay sixth place $500, with each of the top 5 contributing $100. Picked up axax in SB this time and knocked out #6. One of the guys had to borrow $100 until payouts to pay off the bubble boy (are there bubble boys in a Seniors tournament?). I was the chip leader with well over 300,000.

20130911 Caesars Palace Kick-Off Classic Seniors

Maximum stack for Poker Mutant during the Caesars Seniors tournament

 I knocked out a player and we were down to 4. Then I lost a fairly large amount of stacks to another player with (I hate to admit it) axjx, against axqx. That evened out the stacks quite a bit. A player from Arkansas who’d been chip leader before I took over and who seemed to have a fair amount of respect from everyone involved (more on that in a second) agreed to a 4-way even chop and we stopped a little more than nine hours in, with each of us getting $2,700 ($2,800 payout minus the $100 we’d paid to the bubble).

It was nice to finally have some vindication with a decent cash in Vegas. Yes, it was fewer than 50 entries, the buy-in was only $350, it was a Seniors tournament, and it wasn’t even my biggest cash, but it got me my entry into the Hendon Mob database.

It was an anxious week before the entry showed up and, of course, it had its own pluses and minuses. I knew when we chopped that the actual dollar values weren’t going to be recorded there. Caesars doesn’t facilitate chops, the tournament director randomly assigned places to the four of us, we got the payouts we were randomly assigned, and we just had to trust that the guys getting paid more weren’t going to walk away from the cage and out the hallway into the main casino before they shared their portion of the chop. The perverse part of that was the guy from Arkansas and I got the bottom two rungs of the payouts, despite having had more chips than the other two. So my Hendon Mob winnings so far are about half my actual winnings. The plus of the listing is that once I could look up my table mates, I could see that the guy from Arkansas was the 2004 WSOP Seniors tournament gold bracelet winner. So that was kind of interesting.

My BLUFF Power Rank is currently 74,550. Watch out 74,549!

I played a tournament that evening at the Venetian, tried a Turbo game on Carbon, then went to the Wynn’s noon game the next day where I only got through a third of the field of 24 before I busted. I did have an enlightening walk behind the Strip hotels past the under-construction Linq project with several thousand dollars in my pocket on my way to the bank, feeling a little leery as I walked past this property (which riders on the Linq should have a great view of).


FOR RENT: “Clean”, 1 BR, walking distance to Strip hotels

 Mostly played on Carbon for the week after I got home. Made it to 146th of 879 in a $175K Poker Maximus tournament for a min-cash but didn’t hit in anything else but a regular PLO8 game for just a few dollars. made it to 5th place in a $10K at Final Table, then 4-tabled Poker Maximus tournaments on the final Sunday, getting in late to the $250K and making it to the top third of the field, getting knocked out of the $40K and $50K, then making it within 20 places of the money in the $75K (162/967, top 17%). Hosted a small PLO/PLO8/Big O/Courcheval mixed tournament in the Catsino and was close to a win but had my big lead HU disappear. It’s going to be a couple of quiet weeks busy with work stuff, but I’m hoping to make a trip to Reno for the Fall Pot of Gold after that.

Assume the Position

You might think that because I haven’t posted anything for nearly two months that things hadn’t been going very well. For part of the time, that might have been true–although that wasn’t a poker-related “not going well”.

The home game tournament series I play in has been on hiatus since before the WSOP, with the only event being a six-handed deepstack mixed Omaha tournament I put together (PLO, PLO8, Big O, and Courcheval, changing each level, a lot of fun). I won that.

Followed up the Carbon Poker blow-off with a deep run in a $1K 6-Max online game, then a 2nd and a 1st, for 1300% and 1800% profit, respectively. I made a small cash in a 1,000+ player field, then hit 3rd in a $1K. Because of other life things, I wasn’t playing live much (or getting much done on my WSOP database), though, which is where my bigger wins have come. Then I was in the top 4 chop of a $10K at Aces Players Club, for 1,400% profit, and took 2nd two weeks later in a 5-way chop of the same tournament for 1,200%.

Sunday, I got home from work and jumped right into the opening hands of Poker Maximus VI Event #8, a $70K guarantee. More on that below.

Had to miss the $50K reopening tournament for The Final Table in their new location. Stupid job.

But it’s back down to Las Vegas tomorrow morning for the Caesars Palace Kick-Off Classic Seniors Tournament, unless it’s got just a few people signed up by the 10am start, in which case I’ll save my energy for the noon $15K guarantee. There are a couple Maximus events in the evening if I bust one or both of the Caesars games, then there’s another $15K on Thursday.

Anyway, I was reasonably pleased with my performance in my first Maximus event, the first online tournament I’ve played for $100+ stakes since before Black Friday. I did something I’ve tried in tournaments before, using the field size and position stats to track my progress throughout the game. Sadly, they’re not part of the hand history data stream, so PokerTracker doesn’t store them, but they make an interesting accompaniment to the hand history.

Carbon Poker Poker Maximus #8 $70K NLHE

The top graph shows the number of players in the tournament (green) and my position in the tournament (blue). The red line shows the bottom of the cashing field, based on the final number of payouts (which wasn’t finalized until the end of the re-entry period).

The second graph is very similar, but shows my position in relative, rather than absolute, terms.

I entered about 15 minutes into the game, just after the beginning of the second level. My participation was 200 hands, I’m not going cover every one this time.

Hand 4 jsjc CO T4,925 15/30
As you can see, there’s a huge drop from a mid-range field position very early on. UTG min-raises and action folds to me. I re-raise to 200, BB flats, and UTG re-raises to 460. I call and BB follows along. Almost 1,400 in the pot and the flop is 7d5c3d. BB checks, UTG bets 697, and both BB and I call (not in that order, naturally). Pot is 3,500. The turn is ac, BB checks, UTG bets half pot, and I realize that I’m beat and fold with T3,800 left. BB shoves and gets called by adah for a real cooler, since he had 7h7d and top set on the flop. He’s busted with the td on the river. My chip stack is still 126BB, but I drop to 293/322 on the leader board since most of the other players haven’t lost 25% of their chips yet.

Hand 7 qdtd UTG2 T3,768 25/50
I open for 150 and HJ flats along with BB. The flop is ahacas, BB checks and I c-bet 200. HJ just calls; BB folds. 5c turn, check-check. 7h on the river and I make another stab for 418, HJ calls and shows 8h8c. With 3,000 left, I drop to 315/327.

Hand 13 qhqs CO T2,863 25/50
This is the hand where the poker gods smiled on me. UTG, the winner of Hand 4, opens to 125. HJ calls and I re-raise to 475. UTG four-bets to 950. HJ folds and I get stubborn, going all-in. Naturally, exactly one round after having aces against my jacks when I’m in CO, he has ahac and calls, with 6,309 behind. The board runs out 7c9s8htc to the turn, which gives me as good a chance as I can have on the river, then qd spikes and I double up to over 5,900, which puts me in the top quartile of the leader board.

Hand 19 jcjs BB T5,926 50/100
Jacks again. Maybe they won’t lose this time. What am I saying? Of course they will. The CO min-raises to 200 from 62BB and I just call. 2h2ctc on the flop. I bet 300 that gets called. ac turn and I try with a 400 bet, but get raised to 1,200 and call hoping for a flush. 8h river, I check-fold to a bet of 2,250. Back down to the bottom quarter, but the amount of differentiation means that’s not all that bad.

Hand 27 kdad UTG T4,176 50/100
Someone else’s turn to lose with jacks. I raise to 300. UTG3 re-raises to 800 and it folds to me. I shove 42BB, UTG3 calls with jsjc, and I get two pair by the turn, doubling up and leaving UTG3 with 7.5BB. The win puts me in the top 20% of the (then) 380-player field for a brief time.

Hand 37 ah5c BB T8,202 60/120
The guy who lost to my AK opens to 300 from UTG2 and I defend. He bets 280 on the tcqd3s board, and I call, as he has less than 1,000 behind. 9s on the turn, and I put him all-in. He calls with askc and doubles up, but I’m still in pretty good shape.

Hand 44 tsks UTG1 T6,704 75/150
I open to 450 and get flatted by UTG2 and SB. The flop looks fantastic: kc9hkh. SB checks, I bet 800, and get called by SB. 8d on the turn and SB checks again. I bet 1,600 and he calls. 7h river, and he checks. I’m beat by a few hands, now, including jxtx or even 5x6x, but I check and I was behind from the beginning as he held the second nut trip hand: ksqh. Drop back down below starting stack and into the bottom 20%. Still 26BB.

Hand 45 9d9s UTG T3,854 75/150
Open to 450. Action folds to SB who shoves 1,642. I call and the board runs out 6s5d[6hjh]jc, the short stack has a decent-but-not-good enough qsks and his chips take me back up over starting stack.

Hand 48 asqh BTN T5,421 75/150
UTG2 opens to 525 and I raise to 1,200. He folds.

Hand 51 ad6d UTG3 T6,151 100/200/20
I open for 600. Everyone folds.

Hand 54 ahjc UTG T5,971 100/200/20
I open to 600. Everyone folds.

Hand 56 5h5c SB T6,811 100/200/20
HJ min-raises and both blinds defend. The 8h5sks flop makes my set, I check, BB checks, and HJ stabs at it with a bet of 690. I raise him to 2,000 and they both fold.

Hand 59 tdth HJ T8,421 100/200/20
UTG min-raises and I call, sort of wanting to make sure there isn’t too many over cards on the flop with tens. SB jams of almost 3,350. That gets rid of BB and UTG, and I take it head-on against 9d9s. I’m liking the tsqhqd flop, bust the same guy for the second time, and add 17BB to my stack, which puts me back near the top 10%.

Hand 78 qdkc UTG2 T11,095 150/300/30
I raise to 900 and everyone folds.

Hand 85 adkd CO T12,145 150/300/30
Open to 900 and the blinds fold.

Hand 101 5dtd SB T10,858 200/400/40
Everyone folds and I call the BB. He checks and we see the 5sjd4d flop. That’s pretty good for me. I bet 700 and he calls. The turn is 9d. I check and let him bet 1,280, nearly a quarter of his stack, into my flush. I raise him all-in—I have him covered by 3,000—and he calls with 3c2d. I can’t figure it out but I win a pot of 16,500.

Hand 102 jcad BTN T19,643 250/500/50
Just antes and a big blind in the pot before action. UTG1 min-raises, I flat, and we’re HU. Flop’s 2d5c7h and we both check. ks on turn, UTG1 bets 1,250 and I let it go.

Hand 115 adah UTG2 T17,243 250/500/50
I make my standard 3x raise from middle position. Nobody wants to play.

Hand 118 ahqs BB T18,243 250/500/50
UTG1 min-raises with a stack slightly larger than mine. Action’s back to me and I 3-bet to 3,000. He calls and the flop’s ksqhjd. I jam on him, thinking he would have more than min-raised with axkx. He folds and shows acjc (the Mutant Jack loses again!) snarkily asking if that’s the only move I have. As if I’ve been all-in in this tourney on a regular basis. I’m up in the top 20% of the field again, but it’s going to be for the last time. All (or mostly) downhill from here.

Hand 120 kdas UTG T21,493 250/500/50
Raise to 1,500 and everyone folds. Easy game, no?

Hand 127 khac UTG2 T21,373 300/600/60
I’m officially a cardrack. I open to 1,800 and everyone folds.

Hand 129 8sas UTG T22,333 300/600/60
Open for 1,800 and everyone folds.

Hand 133 kcqh CO T22,573 300/600/60
HJ bets 1,800 and I call. We see the ahjs2d flop HU, he bets 2,120 and I fold despite the tempting (to me, at least) Broadway draw.

Hand 136 jcah UTG2 T20,593 300/600/60
Open to 1,800 and everyone folds.

Hand 150 jsac HJ T20,053 400/800/80
I’m 55th of 166 players at this point. Not trying to do anything fancy, we’ve still got more than 50 players to go before the bubble. UTG3 raises to 1,800 and I flat. We see the flop HU, it’s 6h6c9h. He bets at it and I fold. The loss drops me down to 68th position.

Hand 151 9d9h UTG3 T18,373 400/800/80
I continue my 3x raises with a bet of 2,400 and get called by BTN. The flop is kc4d6d and I bet 3,000 at it only to get shoved on by a stack covering me. I fold and drop out of the cashing field, to 109th.

Hand 159 asjs CO T11,213 400/800/80
Time for the Mutant Jack to do it’s thing. I open-shove with 14BB and get called by a stack of 59BB with khjh in SB. The board runs out an unnecessary flush for me and I double back to 49th and the middle of the cash field, with 156 to go.

Hand 179 7s7d BB T18,846 500/1,000/100
As other players have chipped up and I’ve lost 20 hands of blinds and antes, my position in the field has dropped to 76th. We’re still almost 40 spots from the money bubble. Normally, I don;t like playing a pair as low as sevens on an almost full table, but I am BB. Action folded to one of the very short stacks at the table, CO with just 7BB. He shoves for 6,440. BTN and SB fold (they both have decent-sized stacks). I stand to lose a third of my stack if I lose, but I figure he’s in desperation mode and I might have the better hand by a margin. He has qsjd, he doesn’t pair (an ace hits on the flop, so I’m glad he didn’t hit that), and I get a little bump.

Hand 183 qhks HJ T25,606 600/1,200/120
I open for 3,600, with the two larger stacks at the table having folded already. CO shoves for 17,100, gets an all-in call from BTN, and another all-in from BB. BB’s the smallest stack, with just 4BB before paying for the hand. SB was the most worrisome, since he had a stack just smaller than mine, but he folded. BTN has 9BB, and CO has 14BB, two-thirds my own stack. The pot has more than 36,000 in it, I’m getting 2.7:1 on my money, but if I lose (With KQ? Nah.), I’ll be down to 4BB with 31 places to go before the money. I fold, and as you might expect, everyone beats me. CO has AJ, BTN has KK, and BB has A6. The ace on the flop gives the whole thing to CO, but four spades roll out by the river and my king was the only spade of the four hands. A win would have put me at nearly 58,000.

Hand 186 qdkd UTG1 T21,646 600/1,200/120
I open to 3,600. SB calls. The flop is 8cksjs, SB checks, I bet 6,000, and he piles on 25,000, putting me at risk. I’m obviously not going to make the same mistake as in the previous KQ hand, so I call. He has qhkh and we chop the pot.

Hand 187 jcas UTG T22,666 600/1,200/120
Open to 3,600. UTG2 shoves for 11,200. CO is all-in with just 4,300. I call with 11,450 behind. It’s me v 7h7s and khkd; behind everyone, as usual. Both pairs hold up (with the kings getting a set on the flop) and I end up behind both of the other players in the hand, dropping down to 101st place, outside the cashing field with just 15 players before the money.

Hand 199 as6s HJ T6,410 750/1,500/150
The cards have not been kind. Nor have the blinds. I have, however, managed to outlast enough bust-outs over the past dozen hands that I’ve reached the money with 4BB. Action folds to me, and I shove, getting called by BB, who started the hand with 34BB. He has 8c9d, the flop is qsqhah, and I win the hand.

Hand 200 qhkh UTG3 T14,770 750/1,500/150
UTG1 opens to 4,000 from a 25BB stack, and I shove 10BB. SB (who I’d doubled through in the previous hand) shoves 29BB, and UTG1 gets out of the way. I’m racing against 8d8s and I lose, going out with a min-cash.

VPIP for this tournament: 17.2%. I won 48% of the hands where I saw the flop, went to showdown with 61% of the hands where I saw the flop, and won 64% of the hands when I went to showdown.

Four hours. 200 hands. 92nd of 710 entries. +82.6% profit.