Encore Club $40K Guarantee NLHE (T12,000)
T31,000 on first break from T12,000 starting stack, plus the T8,000 add-on
I didn’t even know about this tournament until four days before it happened. I was idly checking the Encore web site and, boo, there it was on the screen. They’ve just discontinued their email notifications and gone to SMS, but I hadn’t seen a message about it. Went down the next day to buy my ticket, played the noon game and was the first player out, played their special $8K that night and busted less than half-way through the field when my short-stacked QxQx UTG shove ran into BB AxAx, then bubbled their 10pm $500 guarantee, which had a prize pool over $2,000 from all the players who’d busted the $8K.
The $40K didn’t get off to an auspicious start. I picked up KxKx in middle position and three-barreled on a queen-high board, with two callers, only to have an ace pop up on the river and lose to AxTx. The very next hand, though, I raised 6♦8♦ UTG1, and called a re-raise to get a gut-shot straight straight flush draw, making a flush on the turn and a straight on the river to crack AxAx. After that quick reversal, things started going my way. One woman tried to bluff my AxJx off a Jx7x2x flop when another deuce showed up on the turn, and the kid next to her ran into similar problems with his bluffs. The reg on my right, who I’d played with in the Deepstacks Main Event last fall kept getting to showdown with second best hands against me (and everyone else). Ninety minutes in, I was feeling frisky enough to raise 2x2x UTG, got two callers, and flop a set for a big pot that put me up to T30,000.
Then things ground to a halt. Coming back from the break after two hours, I had T39K. I folded for three hours, getting down to about T20K, getting a couple walks, then, just after long-time reader BP moved to the table, I got AxAx in BB. The Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” was playing on the club speakers, and I sang out loud with David Byrne to “this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around” as I three-bet all-in. It must have looked suspicious—or maybe it was because my stack was less than half the chip average and his hand was strong—but the original raiser called with AxKx and I was up to T60,000 and back in the game. I jammed with AxKx from the SB on the next hand over BP’s raise. He had me well-covered, and I’d just watched Big Slick lose to me the hand before, but he laid it down.
In another ninety minutes, I’d tripled that up to T180K, in good shape for making it to the money, at least. And it kept going up steadily as players busted before the money, hitting T230K by the seventh hour (although that was only about 20BB). Despite having discussed the perils of AxKx with me at the break after we hit the money, BP went out for a min-cash in 14th in consecutive hands against the same player, ending with AxKx v JxJx. I nursed my short stack to the final table, then doubled up with QxQx to T300K, about chip average.
A deal was made for the final nine, with everyone guaranteed $4,500 (staying under the tax reporting guidelines), and an extra $3K+ going to be played out for first. Stacks were getting short; with 3.25M in play, the average stack was only 18BB deep at 10K/20K/3K. Two players bit the dust, then there was a massive hand that knocked me out, with three players all-in after the flop covered by the chip leader’s J♥9♥. The short stack had AxAx, I had Q♦J♦ and another player had AxKx, the flop was queen-high with two hearts, and a heart on the river sealed all our fates. The final four remade the deal to distribute the extra money that was to go to first, which apparently still kept them under the reporting limit.
Not my biggest cash in terms of ROI, but it sneaks in as the biggest gross cash of my poker tournament career so far, and just edges out my $10K first-place finish for profit. Deep runs in two big (for Portland) events in two weeks!
Had to take my tournament screen photo before the money bubble broke because my phone was running out of juice.
Eight hours and forty minutes. 5th of 174 entries. 1150% ROI.