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 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 v 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 and ended up at the river of a 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 with 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 shove from BTN. SB called with . A deuce hit the flop and doubled me up. Just a little bit later and with even more chips I raised 5x from early position with 15BB behind and the lady in seat 10 shoved. I called and she flipped over . My heart just about stopped as the board ran out . 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 . She shoved 50,000 and I thought about it for a little bit before I called. She had , 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 were beat by . That loss knocked me down from 216,000 to 80,000 (10BB). Doubled back up against the same guy with v . Then I knocked out a player holding with . 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 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.
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) , against . 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).
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.