The Big Push

It’s been a busy couple weeks here at Mutant Poker Central, as I get ready to head down to Las Vegas to see if the minor success I’ve had in Portland can finally translate to an out-of-town venue. So far, I’ve struck out at Foxwoods, the Venetian (twice), and Pendleton, but the number of events I’ve played too small to be statistically significant.

So much to do with plans to be in Vegas for two weeks. First off, my venerable card cover—the helmet off of a figurine of Professor Frink from The Simpsons—has seen a lot of wear over the past couple of years. I’ve been hoping to find a way to get it machined in aluminum and asked a friend with a CNC machine shop about it but, as expected, he said it would cost an incredible amount of money to get it made. He did mention that there were 3D printers who did metal pieces, though (he has a plastic 3D printer) and when I looked into it, I found Shapeways.com, which will print your 3D designs in just about everything from plastic to glass to silver to a stretchy polymer. All of my 3D design software is on my old pre-Intel Mac, and at first I was a bit stymied about how I was going to develop the model but eventually I managed to pick up enough about the free, open-source 3D tool Blender to get my model done in a day. With a couple of missteps, I managed to get an order in for copies in alumina and stainless steel and hopefully they’ll arrive before I set off for Vegas (didn’t happen, but they arrived in Portland the night I left and someone special is going to ship them). If you’re from Oregon and you see the cap, say hi to the Mutant.

Then I got an offer of a free room from MH—Portland player and fellow college alum—for nearly half my stay, so that was fine. I spent an evening running an alumni tournament with him during the annual reunion weekend. Paying bills up, getting some decent summer clothes together (it’s supposed to be 108° in Vegas next week). A lot of stuff to do. Since I’m driving down (and it’s supposed to be 108° in Vegas), get the car checked out for its 50,000-mile service.

Plus, of course, there’s the last-minute drive to build up the bankroll a little bit.

Encore Club $1,800 Guarantee Freezeout (T8,000)

I wasn’t taking perfect notes on this tournament, but I hit something in the first ten minutes on a 7x7x7x3x3x board that put me up about 1,700 chips.

I played kd3d from SB at the half-hour mark and hit the bottom of the flop, but a jack and a bet of 1,500 on the turn made me fold, so I was back down to 8,800 after that hand.

UTG1 with ax2x and a min-raise got three calls but I won the hand.

At the 45-minute point, I called a 1,025 chip all-in post-flop holding qx8x on a  qxkxtx flop. He had kxtx and boated on the turn with kx. I boated on the river with qx but nobody cared.

SB with th4h and the flop was tx4xtx. I checked, then raised to 2,000 over a 600 bet. Maybe I should have just called.

T11,100 at fifty minutes.

4x4x on UTG1, I tried to get people off, but the flop was horrible.

BB holding 6h7h and I double-paired on the flop but had to gut out a raise with a flush draw on the turn until 6x on the river made my full house and my all in won the pot.

In SB with 6s8s on the next hand and I saw a flop of 5x5x6x. Bet 600 and won the pot.

CO two hands later and I got 9x9x I raised 700, BB goes all-in and gets two calls. Flop is KxQx7x and I bet 600. The other player calls but folds to another bet on the river and I knock out BB.

At the break, I have T24,350.

My first big hand after the bread was axqx. I made a full house on the flop (aces over queens) and took most of the stack of a player with axkx. Then I picked up the suited adqd on the next hand and won against two all-ins, putting me up to 39,900 at 90 minutes.

I made a flush on the turn with jd7d and took the last 3,500 from another player. Ten minutes later, I was up to 53,100.

With 7x3x UTG1, I bet on the 6x6x7x flop but folded to a raise of 2,100 from BB. Action on that hand and a couple previous took me down under 50,000.

UTG with kxjx, I called, then called a raise to 2,000 from BB. Folded to a bet on the 3x3x5x flop.

Raised to 1,300 from SV with ax2x and BB re-raised 3,300 all-in. I called the extra 2,000 and lost to axkx. By the time I was in HJ position, just before the end of the second hour of play, I was down to 44,200, but the average stack was still way down at 13,700, with 35 of 60 players left.

In UTG3, called a UTG2 raise to 1,600 along with the BB but folded to a UTG2 bet on a low flop.

Just after the hour, I was down to 39,200 (average: 14545). 33 players left.

Raised with ks4s to 1,800 and was heads-up to the flop of 4x5x7x. A bet of 2,200 took it down.

UTG with khth and I raised to 1,800 again, getting a flop of axqx8x. I folded to an all-in.

On BB, I folded ax8x to two all-ins (the largest of which was only 4,200). The other two players were ax8x and axqx, and the eight won with a pair, so I would have chopped up one of the players.

My count when the button came around at 140 minutes was T37,100, still more than twice the T16,000 average. Half the field was gone.

I laid low for a couple of hands, then played kdtd UTG3 and raised to 1,600. UTG3 went all-in and I called against 5x5x to knock out another player. I really ought to have been playing a bounty tournament.

UTG with ah8h a few minutes later and I raised to 1,600, getting a call. The flop was 4x4x8x and I bet 10,000 to win.

Two-and-a-half hours into the game and I was back up to T43,200. 25 players left and the chip average was T19,200.

A raise to 2,500 from HJ with 7h9h took the blinds fifteen minutes later; when I was UTG2 at 2:50 (with 22 players left) I had T44,400, still 213% chip average.

UTG ten minutes later with 7s7d and I raised to 3,600 with blinds at 800/1,600. BB called and the flop was qx9x6x. I went all-in after he checked and took the pot.

By the time I was BTN again five minutes later, there were only 19 players remaining, I was holding steady at T44,600.

Fifteen minutes later, I noted that I knocked out a player but couldn’t remember with what. In any case, the number remaining was down to 17, and I had reached T63,000, 223% of average.

I promptly lost over 10,000 holding 2x2x in CO with a three-bet to 5,000. UTG went all-in with 7x7x and I called, so halfway into the third hour I was back down to T49,200, this time only 143%  of the chip average with 14 players left.

Raised to 5,000 from CO with kxjx and took the blinds, but I was down to T47,200 on my next BTN with the average at 40,000 and 12 players left. 2x2x did me in again there when I called a 6,500 raise and folded to an all-in on a kxqx8x flop.

Then I lost 13,000 as CO with qxtx after I folded to an all-in over my 6,500 raise.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the third hour saw me below the average stack for the first time since the beginning of the game, with just T28,000 (70% of average).

Then, about ten minutes later, I picked up axax in SB and raised to 6,500 to win a hand and opened from BTN to 7,000 with 4h6h to take down the blinds.  I tried the same thing UTG1 with ad3d and got three calls to see a flop of 5x7x9x but folded to a BB all-in.

Just after midnight (four hours), I’d clawed up to T30,000. With 11 players remaining, that was still losing ground, though, at 69% of average.

The blinds were eating away at my stack. Without much in the way of what even I consider playable cards, I was down to 25,500 and then 19,500 after the next two passes of the button.

UTG with 8x8x I shoved and was called by both a short stack and BB. They had 6x6x and 5x5x, but a set on the flop for me pretty much guaranteed my win.

Next hand, an all-in with axqx over a SB limp took it down.

In the course of the next round of the button, I was up to T113,000, above the average of 80,000, with six players remaining. I was the chip leader by 1,000. We did a 6-way ICM chop; my lead (0.21% of the chips) was worth an extra $5 0.14% of the pot).

Five hours. +925% ROI. Six-way ICM chop, 60 entries.

Encore Club $5,000 Guarantee (T9,000)

Fifteen minutes in, I call a raise to 250 in a 3-way pot from UTG2 and get a 9x7x2x flop. Bottom pair and bad kicker! Just my type of hand! I called 350 to see a seven on the turn, then BYN bet 600 and I folded. BTN showed 9x9x.

UTG1 with qxjx and I call 375 in a 4-way pot. I’m on safer territory with qx6x4x and a bet of 700 takes it down.

UTG with ad6d and I called 900 on a flop of ax2x5x  but something about a bet on the turn scared me off and I folded.

8x4x on BB and I called down to the river after a flop of kx7x5x but I didn’t get anywhere.

On CO (what? I didn’t play two hands?) I raised to 250 with adqd and got three calls. Ended up losing to 2x4x and a wheel possibility on the board that I completely missed. Thirty-five minutes in and I was down to T5,350.

I raised UTG3 with jc9c and got two calls. A bet of 1,000 on the js7c5c flop won; I was kind of hoping all they put me on was a flush draw. That got me a few hundred back.

I saw the flop with both my blinds; by the time I was on BTN I was back down to T5,500.

Just after the first hour, I raised 450 from late position with ac8c and was re-raised to 1,700 by BTN. Encore reg SH shoved from SB. I folded. I don’t remember what BTN or SH had, but I remember it didn’t beat what I would have had with two clubs on the flop and another on the turn.

I’d been moved to the same table as my poker league capo, DV, and when I limped UTG with kdqd, he raised to 1,700. I shoved and he called with txtx. I doubled up. The usual conversation about suited vs. unsuited broke out. I think I’m going to start explaining it this way:

Say you’re in a tournament and there’s going to be a chop of $100,000. You haven’t got a large stack, so you’re not going to get the bulk of the money, but you’re offered a choice of $12,000 or $15,000. Is the $12,000 just as good because there’s only a $3,000 difference? No! $15,000 is much better than $12,000, because it’s 25% more, in relative terms.

Of course, where that explanation breaks down is in the fact that poker odds are a zero-sum equation. It doesn’t matter in a chop if you’re taking money from someone (unless you really hate them), but when your hand’s odds improve in poker it is at the expense of your hand losing. If you have a 12% chance of winning a pot, you have an 88% chance of losing. That’s a ratio of 1:7.33. If your hand improves to 15%, it can only lose 85% of the time, which is a ratio of 1:5.66. That’s considerably better. The math skills of my fellow Americans dismay me.

Anyway, I was up to T8,450 at seventy-five minutes; not quite back at starting stack.

With kctc I raised on a kx5x6x flop and BB went allin for 1,700 (even shorter stacked than me). I called and he showed bottom two pair, but a king turn and a ten on the river made my house full and my stack slightly more so.

At the half-hour when I was UTG1 again, I was up to T10,100, and I bought the T6000 add-on at break.

I laid low for most of the first half-hour then flopped Broadway heads-up with qcjc. I checked, then bet 2,000 on the queen turn and won.

UTG with axax and I raised 1,000, then called a re-raise. An ace hit the flop, my opponent bet and I raised all-in. He called with axkx and I knocked him out.

That gave me a little momentary fred, so when I raised to 1,300 from HJ with qc6c, nobody peeped.

As the button approached again early in the third hour, I’d managed to get up to T29,525, almost 40% above chip average, with 93 of 117 players remaining.

The third hour was quiet, with me picking up some small pots but no major hands. Half-an-hour in, I was up to T32,425. Then ten minutes later I tried a raise of 1,800 with 9xtx from HJ, got a call, checked the axjx2x flop, then folded to a bet of 3,500 from BTN. Blinds were up to 600/1,200/200.

UTG with qh6h, I raised to 2,500 and was raised by BB. I called and saw a qxqx7x flop. He shoved and I called for the knockout. A queen in the next hand meant another knockout, then I was moved to a new table, where I sat down with T77,000 (average 31,285). With just 63 players remaining, half the field was gone at the end of the third hour.

Didn’t do much for the first half-hour; when I was on the button after three-and-a-half hours of play,  had T73,600.

Then, as CO, I called 1,600 with qx8x in a 5-way pot. The flop was axtx9x and I stayed with it to the river as everyone checked it, but didn’t go anywhere and folded to a bet without even a pair.

Ten minutes later, I lost a chunk trying to draw a straight with qx9x, but with an all-in on the turn, I folded and I was down to T53,000.

UTG with axjx. I call 2,000. Action folds to SB, who calls. BB checks. Flop is jx8x5x and BB bets 3,000. I raise to 15,000 and he calls. On the river, we chop the pot. T59,100.

axax again, this time on BTN. UTG goes all-in, HJ calls, I shove, and HJ open folds 8x8x, which would have won on the river if he’d stayed in. Another knockout.

I call a raise to 6,000 with jxkx and the flop is kxtx6x. He bets another 6,000, I raise to 13,000, then he shoves and I fold.

T65,000 at midnight, after four hours of play, but a quarter-hour later I’m down to T52,800. Then I move tables again.

In SB, I call 12,000, flop 9x8x6x and shove, getting called by qxqx and losing 22,500.

BTN a couple minutes later, all-in with kxjx over a call. SB calls with axqx but I make a straight on the turn and double back.

In UTG3, I’ve got 36,900, with the chip average at 56,314. 35 players left, blinds 2,000/4,000/500.

UTG2 with ah2h, I raise 9,000. BB goes all-in for 1,600 more and I call. He has 9x8x, the board is ax9x3x3x2x, and I knock out another. T52,500.

BB with qc5c and SB calls. Two clubs on the flop and a five on the river and I manage to knock him off. I pop up to T95,500, back above the 61,593 average, with 32 players remaining.

Blinds up to 3,000/6,000/500 and I called an all-in with jxtx He had qxtx but the jack made all the difference to fill in the holes of a straight.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. UTH with axtx and I raised to 13,000 but had to fold to an all-in from UTG1. BB with 4x4x and I folded to  an all-in of more than 40,000, though I would have preferred to see the flop.

At the end of the fourth hour, I raised from CO with kxjx and made a straight. Then UTG2 with kd8d, I called an all-in from SB, then folded to a large all-in to see them flip over 7x7x and txtx and a flop full of diamonds.

Still, I’d climbed to T143,50, more than twice the average stack, by the time blinds got to 4,000/8,000/500.

I called 18,000 with qs6s but folded after missing the flop. A couple more hands like that and on HJ, I was down to T111,000, with 24 players left and a chip average of just under 90,000.

I raised UTG to 16,000 with kxtx and won, but was still slipping due to the antes.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like dark checks? Not that I ever do them. UTG1 and I raised to 18,000. BB called and the flop was ten-high. He’d checked dark and I shoved, which I might have done even without the ten.

Another ten-high flop fifteen minutes later matched my kxtx in a five-way call of 12,000 to the flop. I opened with a bet of 20,000—just a third of the pot—and won.

In SB with 4c5c, I got involved in a 3-way hand to the jxtx5x flop and folded to a UTG bet of 20,000.

1:45am. Nearing the end of five hours of play we consolidate to two tables. Blinds are 8,000/16,000/2,000 and the chip average is 109,500, for an M of just over 3, well in the Red Zone. Even at 162,000, I’m in the Red Zone, with an of 4.5.

I tread water for fifteen minutes, as two players fall by the wayside, then open-raise from CO with ax7x to 36,000 and take the blinds and antes.

Another middling ace in HJ, as8s and I made the same raise. This time SB called with qx9x, but I won the hand and was up to T245,500 with just 12 players left ten minutes into hour six.

Another all-in from a short stack and I called with axqx to knock out qx8x just before the half-hour, then I raised ax8x to 40,000 from SB and missed the flop, folding to an all-in. Eleven players, chip average 179,181, and I had T280,000.

About 2:47am we set the final table. I didn’t have much to work with, and with the blinds as high as they were, I lost 100,000 chips just to blinds and antes in half-an-hour.

Then at the end of the top of the hour, BTN just calls ahead of me in SB, I call, and BB shoves. Oddly, I didn’t record what I had, but note that I was up against qxqx and made a flush on the river.

My last note from the game is that I had T343,000 with the chip average at 394,200, which meant five players were left. People were getting tired, and while I could easily have gone on, with everyone more or less evenly-stacked, we decided to take our money and run.

Seven hours and fifteen minutes. +1,690% ROI. Five-way even chop, 117 entries.

I could go on, like with a story about how I walked into a PLO8 game 45 minutes late while my car was getting serviced and managed to win it without buying the add-on; or the last two $10K games I played before I headed out to the WSOP, but the road between Reno and Las Vegas awaits and it’s way past the time I could be getting on the road here.