Black Friday Freeroll

Encore Club $500 Guarantee Freeroll (5,500 chips)

I don’t know if this freeroll noon-time tournament was planned ahead of the Black Friday shutdown of the big online poker sites in the US, but it seems like an auspicious time for the local card rooms to try to step into the rather large void left by PokerStars and Full Tilt. Me, I’d  have played it anyway.

The game was at least 20 minutes late getting started, and about seven tables were full when one of the staff came around to drop off an extra red 500 chip for everyone in their seats. A couple table’s worth of stragglers came in during the first hour but for the most part everyone started with the bonus.

Ducks were all over the board during the game, and in fact my first win was holding 2?2? in BB as several of us limped to the flop, which was 5?5?2?. I stepped up the pressure with my full house and everyone folded.

My second take came with 67. The flop was a Q?8?5?, and apparently my open-ended straight draw was more awe-inspiring than anything anyone else had because another raise took it.

Flopped top two pair holding A?K? and grabbed some more. Forty-five minutes into the game at the 75/150 level I was holding 8,325 chips.

Pushed with A3 and won a pot of 1,400, which I promptly lost speculating on A?6?.

The last hand before break 1, I had A?6? again. The flop was T?5?8? and there were several of us in the pot, with me leading out for 500. The turn was 9? and I was almost there, leading out with another 500. Finally, the 7? showed on the river and I bet 2,500 (keeping in mind that J? could beat me), getting a call from the woman sitting to my left. We flipped our cards and the dealer called her as the winner, pushing out the 5? and 7? for two pair. The chips got pushed over to her and she started stacking before I got it together to ask what she’d won with, and I pointed out that my 6 should have been good for the straight. A couple of players backed me up and they and the dealer tried to reconstruct the pot, so I ended up with about 7K, which gave me 9,400 going into the break. I opted out of the add-on.

Once the action got going again, I had a couple of good hands. A?K? again and I raised 2,500 in a pot of 1,000 to pick that off. Confident play of AT managed to take down a pot of 8,000. By the end of the fourth level I had 18,900 chips.

Picked up A?T? again and raised 2500 on a queen-high flop with middle pair. Took in 6,600.

There’d been a discussion at the table about how K?Q? was a losing hand. Another player and I went to war with me holding K?Q? and Q? on the flop. I won a pot of more than 20K, then pointed out to the guys who’d been the biggest detractors that I’d just used their least-favorite hand to win the biggest pot at the table so far. Even though we had a different dealer than the previous hour, he managed to nearly screw this up for me, as well by forgetting to count the chips I’d put all-in after matching the raise until I prompted him.

ESPN poker commentator Norman Chad‘s least-favorite hand is A?Q?, and indeed, it promptly lost me about 8K of my big win. Still, with seven-and-a-half minutes to go in level 6 (400/800) I had 26,000 chips.

Lost 12K on a flush draw with KQ but still somehow managed to finish the level and get to the second break with 22,800 chips.

After the break, we started up at 500/1,000. Promptly lost 6,500 with J?J? after an A? showed on the flop. Took the blinds down with a 2,500 raise holding A?K?. Same raise on the next hand took the blinds but with A?A? I was really hoping for some action.

Won another hand with A3 with two more clubs on the flop and a raise. Wasn’t exactly making any headway, though because I still had only 22,000.

Tried to see the flop with 57 but just lost 2K at the 1K/2K level.

I opened with an all-in holding A5. Slightly larger stack called with 6?6?, then flopped a set. No diamonds for me.

About 190 minutes of play. Didn’t count the hands. Out about 30th of 75 players. More than $1,100 in the prize pool by the time re-buys and add-ons were made.