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 JJ 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 753. BB checks, UTG bets 697, and both BB and I call (not in that order, naturally). Pot is 3,500. The turn is A, 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 AA for a real cooler, since he had 77 and top set on the flop. He’s busted with the T 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 QT UTG2 T3,768 25/50
I open for 150 and HJ flats along with BB. The flop is AAA, BB checks and I c-bet 200. HJ just calls; BB folds. 5 turn, check-check. 7 on the river and I make another stab for 418, HJ calls and shows 88. With 3,000 left, I drop to 315/327.

Hand 13 QQ 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 AA and calls, with 6,309 behind. The board runs out 798T to the turn, which gives me as good a chance as I can have on the river, then Q spikes and I double up to over 5,900, which puts me in the top quartile of the leader board.

Hand 19 JJ 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. 22T on the flop. I bet 300 that gets called. A turn and I try with a 400 bet, but get raised to 1,200 and call hoping for a flush. 8 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 KA 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 JJ, 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 A5 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 TQ3 board, and I call, as he has less than 1,000 behind. 9 on the turn, and I put him all-in. He calls with AK and doubles up, but I’m still in pretty good shape.

Hand 44 TK UTG1 T6,704 75/150
I open to 450 and get flatted by UTG2 and SB. The flop looks fantastic: K9K. SB checks, I bet 800, and get called by SB. 8 on the turn and SB checks again. I bet 1,600 and he calls. 7 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: KQ. Drop back down below starting stack and into the bottom 20%. Still 26BB.

Hand 45 99 UTG T3,854 75/150
Open to 450. Action folds to SB who shoves 1,642. I call and the board runs out 65[6hjh]J, the short stack has a decent-but-not-good enough QK and his chips take me back up over starting stack.

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

Hand 51 A6 UTG3 T6,151 100/200/20
I open for 600. Everyone folds.

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

Hand 56 55 SB T6,811 100/200/20
HJ min-raises and both blinds defend. The 85K 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 TT 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 99. I’m liking the TQQ 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 QK UTG2 T11,095 150/300/30
I raise to 900 and everyone folds.

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

Hand 101 5T SB T10,858 200/400/40
Everyone folds and I call the BB. He checks and we see the 5J4 flop. That’s pretty good for me. I bet 700 and he calls. The turn is 9. 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 32. I can’t figure it out but I win a pot of 16,500.

Hand 102 JA 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 257 and we both check. K on turn, UTG1 bets 1,250 and I let it go.

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

Hand 118 AQ 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 KQJ. I jam on him, thinking he would have more than min-raised with AxKx. He folds and shows AJ (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 KA UTG T21,493 250/500/50
Raise to 1,500 and everyone folds. Easy game, no?

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

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

Hand 133 KQ CO T22,573 300/600/60
HJ bets 1,800 and I call. We see the AJ2 flop HU, he bets 2,120 and I fold despite the tempting (to me, at least) Broadway draw.

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

Hand 150 JA 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 669. He bets at it and I fold. The loss drops me down to 68th position.

Hand 151 99 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 K46 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 AJ 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 KJ 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 77 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 QJ, 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 QK 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 QK UTG1 T21,646 600/1,200/120
I open to 3,600. SB calls. The flop is 8KJ, 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 QK and we chop the pot.

Hand 187 JA 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 77 and KK; 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 A6 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 89, the flop is QQA, and I win the hand.

Hand 200 QK 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 88 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.

Back In the Frying Pan

I’ve been kind of busy lately and haven’t been playing quite as frequently over the past couple of months, but it’s the beginning of the WSOP again and while I don’t have a two-week trip of shame planned this year, I will be in Las Vegas on Wednesday this week, for a quick overnight trip to play (hopefully) an event at the Venetian (as opposed to an event at the Venetian and then three or four other bust-outs before I head home Thursday night).

I’ve played 90 tournaments this year with four or more tables, and my ITM in those games is 18%. I hadn’t had a big win for a while, but back in mid-March, I cashed well in the Aces Players Club $25K, then I was in a multi-way chop for the one of the Spirit Mountain Top of the Mountain Events in May. Despite the fact that they were exactly two months apart, I only played two other $100+ buy-in events between them because of schedule issues (like I said, I’ve been busy). The field sizes were 92 at Aces and 83 at Spirit Mountain; I feel like making the final table for two of four in that period wasn’t bad (although I’ve played three since Spirit Mountain without a cash).

20130603-143200.jpg

Vegas is already over 100 degrees, it’s not supposed to get below 80 Wednesday night. I’ll be staying at The Quad for the first time since the renovation as will my poker guru.

I’m flying in at 9am and I’ll hustle over to The Venetian, most likely to play in a Limit Omaha Hi tournament. Opinions on that from fellow players here in Portland are decidedly mixed, with a few people shuddering at the thought of limits and no lows and others expressing some interest to hear how it goes. I went on the Pokerstars mobile app this evening and ran 500 play betting units up to over 2,500 in short order by continually getting the nuts. I think that will be my strategy for the tournament.

That’s a two-day tournament, so hopefully it will be the only one I’m playing on this trip. There should be around 120 players, if the other similarly-priced Limit Omaha8 and Stud8 events can be counted on as a guide. Depending on if and when I bust out of that game, I’ve got a list of other games at venues around town to choose from, though the big ones are the WSOP Deepstack $235 at 3pm (today’s game had 1,235 players with $45,800 up top; according to a shot of the tournament clock, by level 7 the average stack is 30BB with 60% of the field left). The Venetian has a Survivor tournament at 4pm with a great ROI if you make the money because the entire top 10% of the field chops for a profit of more than 700%. After 6 are choices of the smaller WSOP Deepstacks at 6pm and 10pm and the last Venetian game at 7pm.

If I’m not playing the second day of the Venetian tournament on Thursday, most likely my only option will be the $70 daily event at Caesars at 9am. I don’t think anything else can be counted to be over in time to get to my 10pm flight.

Gonna touch the live wire again and see if I have a better experience than last time. See you inside where it’s air conditioned.

Home, Again


I wasn’t sure how I was going to make my return to Portland poker after my unproductive stint in Las Vegas. I thought about the Thursday night game at the Encore Club, but skipped it, then was too busy early Saturday evening to make starting time for the weekly $10K there. By the time I was free, the first break would have already begun, and there was no way I could make it across town. So the 9pm $200 Freeroll at Portland Players Club it was.

Except that when I got there the door was locked and there was a sign saying they were closed for the evening. Yikes! I was on the loose, Encore wouldn’t have a game open for an hour, I was probably too late to make the 8pm at Aces. It just left the dreaded Final Table. So I high-tailed it out Glisan.

The Final Table $400 Guarantee NLHE (T4,000)

I got to Final Table just as Level 1 was ending and took a seat at the empty second table. I had to wait a couple of minutes for the first table to be split, and were started off five-handed.

Took the first hand I played (at 50/100), from SB with AxTx. There were three players to the flop, the highest card on the board by the turn was a 9, and I bet 100 to win the poison pot, so you know where this story’s going.

Fifteen minutes into my game, I got AxJx on BTN and open-raised to 300, getting called by SB. BB went all-in for 3,000. I had him covered by 75 and went all-in, and SB came along. They flipped over KxQx (SB) and AxTx (BB). I had the best hand, but I was statistically a hair behind the KxQx. The flop put out a wheel draw of 2x3x5x , but the turn was a king, sending my hopes into a tailspin. The river brought relief with a 4x, though, and BB and I chopped up the pot, with me getting an extra 75 for my trouble.

Five minutes later, on BB with AxJx and I called 550 from UTG1 (same guy who’d been BB in the split). UTG (who’d had the money in the pot when we chopped it) came along again. The flop was 2x3x4x and I mischievously shoved to open. UTG1 called with AxQx but the board double-paired and we split the pot again.

Ten minutes later, I wasn’t so lucky. I was all-in UTG1 with AxJx after losing a hand and the same player I’d been tangling with called with KxJx He pulled out a straight on the river and I broke the No Re-buy Rule.

I stopped keeping notes after that, wondering if I’d do any better paying more overt attention to what was going on, but it didn’t help. By the break I was down to a half starting stack again, and I lost most of my add-on in a single hand, so I was riding the short stack through to the final table (I did manage to outlast the guy I’d been tangling with).

Made a couple of crucial double-ups, but I was still under T10,000 after nearly three hours of play, with blinds at 1,500/3,000/300. I shoved UTG with AQ and got a quick call from UTG1, who’d been steadily accumulating chips all evening with sometimes marginal (but lucrative) calls. Her KxTx did it again, making Broadway and putting me out of the first tournament I’d played in ten days.

Two hours and twenty minutes (late arrival). Eighth of 21 players.

Final Table NLHE Shootout

I’m not normally a shootout player, but I was roped into this one and since I’d been knocked out of the tournament twice by hands that I had beat by 3:1 or 2:1, I viewed it as an opportunity to use up some more of that great luck. I never managed to get ahead far in the game, but I ended up just a few dollars down, and managed to qualify for the high hand bonus for the evening when my pocket tens matched up with a rivered ten to make the best full house possible on the board. So, up a little for the evening because of a fluke.

Run Silent, Run Deep

Big tournaments in Portland poker over the next couple of weeks, with both Aces Players Club and The Final Table celebrating anniversaries, and a general gearing-up of the community for the upcoming summer series.

Portland Players Club WSOP Seat $5,000 Guarantee (8,000 chips)

I got off to a very hot start Friday night, sitting down a couple of hands in, picking up AxAx on my second hand, then going up against a player who sat at seat 2 a couple minutes after me. I’d picked up a premium QxQx and raised with nothing higher than a nine on the flop and we both put more money in. Another queen hit on the turn and he shoved, getting a call from me. A seven on the river made a set for his 7x7x but my set of queens held—with a river queen putting me on the high hand board—and he re-bought after his first hand. Funny story about that.

Fifty minutes into the game, and I was up to 22,400, more than three times the starting stack. Then I lost 1,900 in a couple calls with 9T and KxQx. I knocked out one of the PPC regulars with a 3x7x in SB when I caught a little of the 3x2x6x flop. G thought he was safe with his 4x4x, and he was through the 2x on the turn, but the river 7x sealed his fate and he re-bought. Ninety minutes in and I was at 25,750.

I made it as high as 29,400 before the first break, but I called an all-in on a flop of A4 with 25 against 4x4x and failed to catch another diamond, so I only had 21,900 before the T8,000 add-on.

I kept up my occasional calls with low suited gaps but lost 1,500 calling pre-flop as BB with 36 and another 600 as SB with 26.

About three hours in, I doubled up with a set of sixes against one of the larger stacks, putting me at 52,935, with the chip average at about 22,000.

8x8x held up against an all-in from a very short stack holding Ax9x, making up for losses to blinds and antes; I was at 52,000 even after the chip-up on the next break. There were 93 of 132 entries remaining after three-and-a-half hours, with 50 re-buys and 104 add-ons.

Half-an-hour later, with blinds up at 400/800/100, the number of players had dropped to 78. The average stack was 29,333: 36BB or (since we were 10-handed) an M-ratio of just 13, already in Dan Harrington’s “yellow zone” where small suited connectors and pairs lose value. I was sitting on 63,900 ten minutes after the top of the hour, when the average was 30,506.

I raised with the heart version of the Mutant Jack and took down the blinds and antes without a fight, then finally knocked out G with QxJx when I made two pair.

At the next break, four-and-a-half hours in, I had 86,600 (34,149 average) with 67 players left. Just 49 to go before the money.

I lost a big chunk of ground calling an all-in with JQ against KxJx. The board nearly gave me both a flush and a straight, but the better hand held out. Five-and-a-quarter hours in to the game, I was at 66,500, with the average creeping up under me to 40,140.

Then I hit the high hand board again when KxKx made quads (with an ace kicker), knocking out another player and putting me up to 97,000.

79 took in a lot of chips , hitting two pair on the flop and a full house on the turn. When the clock struck midnight after six hours of play, I had 142,300, not quite three times the 52,000 average, with 40 players left.

The spade Mutant Jack (AJ) failed me against 9x9x, and I lost 30,000 chips about twenty minutes later, then I shoved over two raises with TxTx to take the pot and managed to pull myself back up to 124,500 (average 65,700) just before the middle of the seventh hour. Blinds were 2,000/4,000/500; there were 35 players left.

Just after the half-hour, I lost calling an all-in with QxQx against 9x9x when the nine showed on the flop, taking me down 26,600.

Just ten minutes later, nines almost did me in again when I had AxQx. She made a set on the turn but a Tx on the river made me Broadway and I knocked out another player.

Playing KT from SB, I lost 8,500 to see the flop. Everyone checked the turn but I couldn’t pay the 8,000 to see if there was a jack on the river and the board was too clubby for me.

The next break was at the end of seven hours of play, and I had 139,000. We were down to three tables (exactly 27 players), with the average stack at 84,740 and blinds going up to 3,000/6,000/500 (14BB, M-ratio of 6; mine was a paltry ten). With those kinds of numbers, the winnowing was taking place pretty fast. The money bubble was burst in just twenty minutes.

The Poker Mutant deep in thought, wondering how he can get back on an even keel.

I hadn’t found any opportunities to build up, however, and my stack had slipped to 110,500, with the chip average finally overtaking me to 127,111.

I blew 31,000 with Q8 going up against Ax8x and ten minutes after making the money I was down to just 75,500. I shoved with KxJx and won the blinds and a call, then went all-in again with KQ half-an-hour later, just before the blinds went up to 8,000/16,000/2.000.

There were 13 players left. My table had six players—so the blinds were coming around rather quickly—and there were a couple of very big stacks, including the guy I’d knocked out with quad queens back on his first hand. I had 87,500.

Half-an hour later, I was still alive as the final table was made. Three of the players were original players at my starting table. I was the second-shortest stack at the table. I shoved with roughly a quarter of my stack in the pot as BB on the first hand—I didn’t record what with—and was beat.

The first-place winner was the guy I took out with quad queens on his first hand.

Eight hours and forty-five minutes. +193% ROI. 9th of 132 entries.

Aces Players Club 2nd Anniversary $20,000 Guarantee Freezeout (20,000 chips)

This was the big-money game of the weekend. Running at full capacity and with people buying in after bustouts, there was no way the prize pool for this event wasn’t going to swell far beyond the guarantee (the PPC event prize pool was twice the guarantee itself). I bought the 8,000 chip preliminary add-on, so like most players, I was starting with 28,000 chips.

I laid low for the first fifteen minutes, picking up 7x7x as UTG1. I lost about 1,000 when a player with an ace made a pair on the turn and I bowed out.

6T gave me the inclination to raise, and I sort of liked the Qx9x8x flop, but Ax and 2x on the turn and river left me cold and QxTx won the hand.

Lost some more with King Salmon (K7) when I paired my seven on the flop but the turn brought in a flush possibility for my opponent and I folded.

Called 800 from SB with KxJx but folded to a raise to 5,000.

Forty minutes in and I hadn’t won anything and was down to 23,475.

On the last hand before the first break, I called a pre-flop raise to 1,200 with Q9 and caught an open-ended straight flush on the flop of TJ5x. I brazenly shoved after a 5x on the turn and everyone folded.

With the 8,000 extra add-on, I started the next session with 42,200, up a little over 6,000 from what I’d bought in for.

With AxKx in the SB and a KxTxTx flop, I folded with 7,500 in the pot to a 40,000+ all-in bet. Another player called and the winner was AxTx over 7xTx.

I stayed pretty quiet through the next half-hour; at the ninety minute mark I hadn’t won any more but I was still holding at 40,300. The final stats were in for the game: 153 entries, 148 players still in, 253 add-ons (both pre-game and at break), and a total pot of $43,250.

I knocked out a player playing with 36. I hit bottom pair and a flush draw on the flop and called his all-in of 9,000. He showed KxQx for a higher pair but my flush card came on the turn.

Ten minutes later, I had 8x8x on BTN and raised, getting re-raised by BB. I called and we saw a flop of Qx7x2x. I put him on AxKx, which was a big mistake, and I shoved to give the impression I’d hit a set, but he had KxKx and I was out 41,200 chips, leaving me with just 13,500. This was the mistake that probably kept me out of the money in this tournament.

Fifteen minutes later, that had dwindled to 6,900. I went into cornered wolverine mode (again), shoving with JT from CO and winning the blinds. 8,100 chips.

Payouts went up on the board. 22 places were getting money, with the top five prizes initially set at $12,555, $8,330, $4,995, $3,330, and $2,080. Things were getting serious.

I was all-in on two consecutive hands. FIrst with KQ. I was called by QxJx and doubled up. Then I shoved AxJx over two calls and won with no showdown. People started complaining, but I’d managed to build back up to the starting stack, at least. Average stack was nearly 39,000 chips, though.

On the first hand after the next break, I had KxKx in BB and shoved over several calls to take the pot. 21,300 chips with 130 players left.

I picked up a couple of hands with 9Ts and KJo, then the blinds went to 1,000/2,000/200. With only 27,800 (120 players left), I had a critical M-ratio of less than 6. That’s the “red zone.”

All-in again as UTG1 with AxQx. At least I was picking up some decent shoving hands. 28,400 chips after going through the blinds.

Three hours into the game, the blinds jumped to 1,200/2,400/300. Another round of blinds and antes and I was down to 22,600 (M-ratio: 3.5). Just 101 players left.

Shoved again with Ax9x and took the blinds. The next time they passed through I was down to 23,000.

I finally picked up a significant number of chips in an all-in battle against a shorter stack with KJ against his QxJx. Three-and-a-half hours in, I had 46,500 (average stack: 60,523).

83 players left ten minutes later.

8x8x failed me again, this time from SB when I called a 15,000 chip all-in against Kx9x. The nine hit on the flop. I’d picked up some other chips along the way, though, so I was actually sitting on 26,500.

Just short of four hours in, half the field was gone. Only 72 players remained, with blinds going up to 2,000/4,000/500.

I rode out the blinds again and was down to 36,500 (average 72,628), still securely in the red zone. At the four hour mark, I shoved over a call as UTG2 with JxTx and took the pot again. The pot was enough to put me up to 50,000 (65 left, average 78,215).

I shoved as BB over the SB call as my last act at my starting table before I was moved. I got there with 57,500 chips, only 69% of the average stack, and with blinds at 3,000/6,000/500; an M-ratio of 4.2.

My first act at my new seat was on BTN and I shoved with J9. The 13,500 chips in the pot from blinds and antes was substantial in comparison with my stack.

Just a couple minutes later, I made an actual bet of 17,000 with AxQx and induced folds. I’d worked my way up to 65,500 (50 players left, average stack: 101,680).

The next break began just after I’d gone through the blinds. I had 55,500—barely more than half the average stack—and blinds were going to be starting up at 4,000/8,000/1,000, leaving me with an M-ratio of just 2.6. Again. 49 players left.

The big stack at our table was dominating from the other end. I went all-in over a raise from him with KxQx and I still had enough chips to get him to fold. That popped me up to 87,000 (average 105,916) briefly.

I raised to 20K with A9 UTG. BB called. The flop was king-high, there were no spades, and I folded to an all-in.

Another round of blinds took me down to 51,000.

The big stack wasn’t liking my shoves any more than the other table had. I was all-in again against his raise and he folded, saying he had KxQx. I (probably mistakenly) flipped over my KxQx.

43 players left as we approached the five-hour mark. I had 68,000 chips left and needed a double-up badly.

I was playing so tight I folded QT UTG.

My final hand was against the big stack. He finally called my all-in (this time with KxJx) and he had 6x6x, which held up. I think he probably would have called even if I hadn’t showed on the previous hand.

The call with the eights against the kings was significant. I never made it back up to the chip average after that point, although I managed to stay in play for another three hours plus.

Five hours and fifteen minutes. 38th of 153 players.

Busted!

Tulalip Poker Pro Challenge (15,000 chips)

Where to begin to tell this short tale of woe?

The money I made in the chop from the $5K at Aces last week pretty much covered my buy-in for the Poker Pro Challenge. For a $70 investment in that tournament, plus another $100 or so in expenses—plus a lot of time in the car over the weekend—I was going to be able to play in a game with a prize pool of several hundred thousand dollars, and a top prize of $100,000 or more.

The event had two starting days—Friday and Saturday—with an unspecified number of people coming back for day 2, on Sunday, April Fool’s Day. I had something I needed to be in Portland for on Saturday, so I decided to drive up Thursday night, play the first starting day, then drive home and back up if I made it to day 2. Big if. A friend put me up for the night in Redmond, only an hour away from the casino, so I’d be as rested as I could get going into the game.

I picked up my rewards card and ticket Thursday afternoon, so all I had to do when I got to the venue at a quarter to ten Friday morning was grab some breakfast to make sure my stomach was settled and wait for the action. I came ready to take notes, but when I sat down at table 16 (seat 4) the player on my right (a Seattle local named Jay) informed me that not only were cell phones disallowed at the table (which I knew from the brochure I picked up) but all electronic devices were verboten unless you stood away from the table. I had a few minutes to stash my iPad and filed my note-taking plans away.

The table was fairly friendly, it seemed like most everyone there knew each other, leaving me the odd man out as the real amateur. Shortly after action got started, a woman sat in seat 2 and I quickly came to realize that it was Karina Jett (perhaps from the people referring to her as Karina). She and Jay had a discussion about where he might stay in Las Vegas for the WSOP, and she seemed to know the guy on my left well, too. He turned out to be Seattle-area pro Tyler Patterson.

From Tyler’s semi-surreptitious Tweeting from the table (I got a laugh when I suggested that with his bowed head he could claim to be the Tim Tebow of poker in order to cover his texting) I later pieced together that in seat 10 was another Seattle-area player named Scott Eskenazi and that after the first hour or so pro Adam Schoenfeld got to the table (because he thought the event began at noon rather than 11am).

Even with these folks at the table, I did well almost from the beginning. I won the first two small pots I entered, lost a few hundred when I laid down a pair of nines to a bet after an ace and king hit the flop, but from there on out consistently built up. I won my first big showdown against seat 1 when a pair of fours turned into a set on the flop, made a couple of flushes, scared my heads-up opponent off of one pot with a raise, took a four-way showdown down with nothing more than a paired king (with a nine kicker) and nearing the end of the third round and the first break was up to close to 20,000 chips.

I limped in early with 35, called a raise and my five made middle pair on a flop with the high card a T. The turn put a low heart on the board, I think it was 4. Tyler was pushing hard with a bet of 2,500 and I read it as an attempt to shake me loose from a flush draw. The river card made the flush and Tyler pushed all-in. I asked for a count and thought it through for a second but I think I called even before the count was complete. I felt he was trying to push the amateur player (moi) off the flush. If I was right, I was going to essentially double up. If I was wrong and he had any other flush (the 4 was on the board), I was felted. I was wrong. He flipped over AK. There was a moment where they thought I might not be completely covered but we were dead even in chips, and I shook a couple hands, wished people luck, and headed to the parking lot for a wet, windy drive home.

There were 168 players signed for day 1A up by the time I busted out, with another hour or so before the end of registration and possible re-entry. I know at least one other player busted before me. Saturday should be busy.

UPDATE: 31 March 2012, 8:15. At least I was in good company. According to their tweets, Tyler busted out just a few levels later and Matt Affleck were both out yesterday, as well. Big-time tournament director Matt Savage was playing (and busted), along with Michael Mizrachi and Allen Kessler.

UPDATE: 31 March 2012, 10:30. Neglected to mention that Ms. Jett was talking up a regular $120 Tuesday night HORSE tournament at MGM Grand in Las Vegas that sounded like a lot of fun.

Plays Well With Others

Aces Players Club Noon $1,500 Guarantee

Finally sat down for lunch with MH, who I’d met at Aces originally last spring, passing around comparisons of the blind structure progressions of the big summer tournament series in Las Vegas. I hadn’t meant to play anything today, but since I’d won a game last night, his talk of playing the noon game at Aces was appealing.

I was in BB right off the bat at table 1, but started going on a tear. A player MH had been telling me had an 85% cash rate was in seat 1 and I called a big raise from him pre-flop with 46. The flop gave me four to a straight on the top, and a 5x on the turn gave me the bottom end. He’d tried to shake me off with a bet on the flop but I raised him all-in after I hit the straight and he folded with a bit of a speech about how I was a tight player (apparently, he doesn’t read the blog) and he didn’t think I’d have the six. I probably should have mucked it, but I showed my hand, then he mumbled something about how he was going to get my chips first. He got moved to another table not long after I took some more chips off him.

I busted several players before the break with mostly less-than-stellar hands, except for QxQx where I called against two all-in stacks who both flipped over AxTx. My pair held and not long before the break I was over 27,000 chips.

With about five minutes to go before the add-on, though, I picked up AxJx and got involved in a hand with two smaller all-ins, the smallest of which was QxQx and the (much) larger with AxKx. After the bloodbath was over, I was down to only 5,000.

The second set of rounds did me remarkably well, however, and I chipped back up speedily. The guy from seat 1 got moved back to the same position, MH got stuck in-between us, and another player I knew well was seated on the far end. I survived a couple table consolidations, down past two tables, then got caught out with KxJx on a straight draw by a slightly larger stack calling my all-in.

Two hours and forty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 15th of 39 players.

What Has It Got In Its Pocketses?

Portland Players Club $250 Freeroll

I’ve been through a recent drought of pocket pairs, but the skies broke yesterday and rained them down on me to both good and bad effect. I started the day off at PPC and was sat at table 2, seat 4, a couple places to the right of DL. I struggled for a bit, then busted and re-bought, while DL began to amass a goodly stack of chips, over 20,000 by the first break. Seat 2 had a player I’d been up against once before who seemed to have been having some recent success at PPC; seat 9 was a tight player who kept exclaiming over the hands he’d laid down when he saw what people were raising (and winning) with.

The re-buy and add-on gave me a little breathing room, and then the cards started coming. I took a couple big chunks out of DL‘s stack, almost knocked out seat 2, and was stealing a lot of chips off the table. DL then lost the last of his pink 1,000 chips to me in a pot that had over 30,000 chips in it.

A PPC regular who can’t seem to hold his legs still—except for when he’s heads-up waiting for the cards to drop—was moved in-between DL and myself and started pushing all-in on my raises. We eventually got to a hand where I had 97 and hit my flush on the turn. The board paired on the river making a couple of likely full houses, though, and I raised big. He folded his J8 face up and said he couldn’t call. I flipped over my lower flush and he seemed to tilt a bit. I picked off his chips shortly thereafter.

One hundred minutes in, I was sitting pretty on over 50,000 chips, more than a fifth of the chips in play, with about 14 players left. Seat 8 went all-in after a raise from my AxAx, naturally I called, he flipped over KxKx and then hit a king on the flop. A much bigger axe hit my stack because of a stupid call on my part with KJ. The tight player in seat 9 shoved with 15,000 chips and I called. He showed aces. A club on the river would have made me a flush and probably unleashed a torrent of invective, but it was a bad risk on my part and I could have held onto the chip lead if I’d given it some more thought.

It was downhill after that, with my stack back in the average territory. Don’t even remember the hand I went out on.

Three hours. -100% ROI. 10th of 29 players.

2011/12 Puffmammy Poker Tour Event #16

This game got off to a very wacky start, not just for me. WA was dealing the first hand to me UTG and it was AxAx. Naturally, I raised. A couple folks came along, including DV. I eventually walked DV alone down to the river for close to half his stack. An ace hit the board, he had two pair, but my set crushed him.

On WA‘s next deal, he gave me aces again. Again, I got some significant chippage out of it. Not, however, anything close to the kind of windfall KB made. He felted both DV and WA in record time, and proceeded to begin the building of a chip wall.

Meanwhile, I picked up queens, I picked up nines, then queens again. KB busted three of the four players who re-bought; I busted the other. Then he took out four permanently while I took out two. I made one incredibly lucky boneheaded move with T8 and shoved all-in when I thought there were two clubs on the board. When I was called and we flipped for the showdown, people were scratching their heads since I didn’t have a pair and one of the “clubs” was a spade. Fortunately, I got running clubs on the turn and river to make the flush.

For most of the match, it looked like KB had an insurmountable chip lead. But even though he’d performed most of the knockouts, I’d been doing a lot of damage to players that set them up for those knockouts. When we got to heads-up play three hours into the game, it wasn’t as lop-sided as it might have looked half an hour earlier. With 25,000 chips in play and blinds still at 150/300/25, it looked like we might be in for a long night of it.

As always, luck and stupid mistakes are everything in poker. Early on, I picked up another pair of queens and was prepared to raise the heck out of the pot post-flop if it didn’t have anything scary. It was far from scary, it was: QxQx7x. Then KB decided to push me around and went all-in. I called and flipped my quads over. It wasn’t enough to knock him out, but he was hurting. I played it very cautious, dropping a lot of chips back into his hands against his all-ins. One call I did make with KxTx, he showed QxJx. I made two pair but a nine on the river made his straight. Eventually, though, another queen took him down.

Three hours and fifteen minutes. +343% ROI. First of 8 players.

Aces Players Club Shootout

I went by Aces intending to play the 10pm game but half-an-hour past starting time I was the first person to show up for it. That isn’t the Aces I remember. There was a final table finishing up for what must have been the six o’clock game. No tables for the eight (unless that was the eight’s final), and a single shootout table. Against my better judgment, I got into the shootout. Had a J2 early on and raised with it, got a couple calls, had a gut-shot straight draw and folded to a big raise from he other end of the table. Then the straight came through and the guy who’d raised took it in with another jack. My last hand, I had 7x7x and the flop was Qx6x5x I raised big, got re-raised, and went all-in. He showed JxJx and I was out.

Twenty minutes. -50bb.

Loss Weekend(s)

Looks like I’ve got some serious catching up to do. Here, first of all, but really at the tables.

The Final Table Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo

Another one of those PLO8 experiences where you get a wad of chips early on only to lose them, re-buy (resolution broken again), make it to the add-on break, then bust out half-way through the first round after the break.

Eighty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 26th of 28 entries.

Carbon Poker $200 Guarantee HORSE Freeroll

In the interests of getting this update done, not going to bother with a hand-by-hand for this brief game.

Thirteen minutes, 15 hands. 2,566th of 2,798 entries.

The Final Table $1,000 Guarantee

Didn’t rebuy. First player permanently out.

Sixty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 39th of 39 players.

The Final Table Big “O” 5-Card Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo

I hadn’t played Big “O” as a tournament before this, but I’d been intrigued by it and my early exit from the $1K Guarantee gave me the chance to give Final Table’s alternate Friday early afternoon game a try. I did reasonably well, I think, except for the part about not making any money.

Two-and-a-half hours. -100% ROI. 16th of 34 entries.

The Final Table $10,000 Guarantee

It’s the game I was waiting for. Didn’t make it as far as the second break.

Three hours. -100% ROI. 107th of 144 players.

Portland Players Club $200 Guarantee Freeroll

Wandered over to PPC after I got booted from the $10K. Came in a few minutes late but started to pick up chips and made it to the bubble. Dropped my median ROI by a bit.

 Two hours. +0% ROI. 5th of 24 entries.

Portland Players Club $250 Guarantee

It was the first anniversary of the new regime at PPC and CB had a bunch of prizes added to each of the day’s tournaments. The early game had a month’s pass added to first place; I only made it about half-way through the field.

Two hours and fifty minutes. -100% ROI. 21st of 44 entries.

Portland Players Club No Limit Hold’em

Slid over to the well-in-progress second tournament of the day. I did not last long.

Ten minutes. -100% ROI. 9th of 9 players.

2011/12 Puffmammy Poker Tour Event #14

Couldn’t play the later PPC events on their anniversary because of the home league game. Busted out twenty minutes into the tournament after I was out-kicked by WA. Re-bought (resolution doesn’t apply to the home game), then busted the next two players myself within an hour. Several reversals of fortune happened: I ended up in second place to JT, the first of the players I busted out. The two payouts went to two of the three players who re-bought. Median ROI dropping like a rock.

Three and a half hours. +62% ROI. 2nd of 7 players.

Oak Tree Casino 2-10 Spread Limit Hold’em

After the home game, I headed up to Woodland to see if I could get into some Omaha but there wasn’t anything going. Played spread limit for the first time.

Two hours. +8 big blinds.

Aces Players Club $1,500 Guarantee

I’d really like to play the noon game at Aces more often but it’s just gotten so large that I can’t make obligations in the early evening if I go deep. Not that I did here, but I don’t plan to go home early.

One hour and fifty minutes. -100% ROI. 30th of 44 players.

Encore Club $10,000 Guarantee

This was my first big game at Encore for the new year and I managed to hold on through round 12. I avoided a nasty encounter on the last hand before the second break that would have busted me; my hand was strong but wouldn’t have won. By the fifth hour, I was up to more than 125,000 chips; more than half-again the chip average at that point. Then in the middle of the hour I lost all but 16,000 of it in a hand I can’t recall at this time but likely one of those scenarios where I probably shoved incorrectly. I was out less than two minutes later.

Five hours and fifteen minutes. -100% ROI. 24th of 112 players.

D’s Dealer’s Choice

This is usually a money hole for me,  but surprisingly I came out on top for a change. A couple good hands of Omaha made my day.

Four hours. +50 big blinds.

Oak Tree Casino Limit Omaha 8

In my constant search for Omaha action, I drove up for one of the morning tournaments. I have to say, the lack of info screens, low number of chips, and the small size of the field doesn’t really make it worthwhile for me.

Two hours. -100% ROI. 10th of 28 players.

Portland Players Club $200 Freeroll

Nothing like a late-night game at PPC. I mean that quite literally. It can be sort of crazy when people who bust out can re-buy and immediately have more chips than your stack after you busted them.

Two hours. -100% ROI. 11th of 23 players.

Encore Club $1,000 Guarantee

Another game that ended for me half-way through the round after the add-on. Got my double-stamp for the day, though.

Eighty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 27th of 32 entries.

Encore Club $5,000 Guarantee

Didn’t even make it to the add-on in this game.

One hour. -100% ROI. 112th of 117 entries.

Oak Tree Casino 3-6 Hold’em

I had an hour after the $5K before another tournament started. I figured Oak Tree might have some Omaha running on a Friday night and I headed up there instead of waiting. Big mistake. I’d forgotten about their grand opening celebration, they were giving $500 away each hour in a drawing, and every table was packed. Every waiting list was packed—except for 15-30 HE, and even that had a waiting list—there was only one Omaha table, and I was about #15 on the list. As it was, I could have made it back to Encore before anything opened up. I went in on a table, made a little bit, lost a little bit, then players started drifting away after the last drawing of the night and it broke.

One hour. -10 big blinds.

Oak Tree Casino 2-10 Spread Hold’em

I took a seat at this table despite my best judgment.

One hour. -130 big blinds.

Encore Club $10,000 Guarantee

If you’ve made it down this far you know that it’s been a little while since I posted a win. More importantly, it’s been a while since I posted a substantial win. Surprisingly, my In The Money (ITM) percentage hasn’t faltered much; although there are a lot of games listed in this one post, they were played over a period of three weeks and represent a fairly small number compared to the total number of tournaments in my database. But I can’t live forever on past winnings. So I resolved to play this past week’s $10K at the Encore very tight at the beginning.

It didn’t help much. Before the first break, I was down to just over 20% of the starting stack. I did manage to chip back up to 7,500 by the break, then did the add-on, but it was rough, as the most premium hand I’d gotten was TxTx. Then, in round 6 on my big blind, I looked down at QxQx and decided to go for it. UTG raised, there were a couple of calls, and I shoved with about 10,000 chips. Everyone folded but UTG, he flipped KxKx, they held, and I was out.

Three hours and forty minutes. -100% ROI. 58th of 80 players.

Encore Club $500 Guarantee

Hung around the club this time for the next game.  Don’t remember much about it. Maybe I’m going to start keeping notes again.

Two hours and ten minutes. -100% ROI. 16th of 27 players.

Encore Club Midnight Madness

Not a big field. Not much money. Not a very good showing. At least I didn’t re-buy.

Twenty-one minutes. -100% ROI. 6th of 7 players.

So, a couple weeks of garbage in there cleaned out. On the definite up side, though, a shout out to reader DS who came up to me between games at the Encore on Saturday and said hello after she’d spent a little time to figure out just who the Poker Mutant is (it’s not that difficult now that I’ve grown my beard back). When someone with more success than you have takes the time to say hello, you really can’t complain.

Speaking of which, this next week I get to host a visit from a WSOP bracelet winner and someone who was in the top dozen of the Bluff 2010 Player of the Year list (they’re the same person).

Friday the 13th

Aces Players Club $1,500 Guarantee

Did well getting a double-up just before the break, but lost a few hands and went out on my big blind with unsuited 7x5x in a desperation move.

Two hours. -100% ROI. 30th of 44 players.

Oak Tree Casino 4-8 Hold’em

Most of my session here was down and up. Got cut to 40% of my buy in a couple of times, made it up to 140% once and over 120% another time. After the 10-20 table behind me closed, a guy acting like a retarded cowboy showed up along with a couple of others. I dropped out of a pot heads-up against him on a ace-high flop where I had bottom two. Another ace showed on the turn, he bet and I folded, then he rolled over a couple of middle-rank hearts to rub it in. That should have given me a clue later when I had a 96 flush draw on the flop. There were three players in (including the retarded cowboy), a kill pot was active, and by the time we got to the river, I was down to about 20% of my buy-in. The pot was huge, there were a pair of threes on the board, I didn’t even have a pair, the third player was all-in on the turn, and the cowboy bet. In retrospect, with that much in the pot, I guess I should have called even if it almost felted me, but I had nothing and folded. The cowboy had 2x5x and the all-in player had 85, winning the whole thing with an eight high flush draw that I would have bested if the third club had come through. It wasn’t actually Friday the 13th any more by the time that hand went down, but it sure felt like it.

Two hours. -25 big blinds.

Santa’s On His Way

The Final Table $5,000 Guarantee — $500 Santa Bounty (7,000 chips)

‘Twas the night before Christmas Eve
And all through Portland
There was not a poker game
With a guarantee of ten grand…

Encore’s doors would be shut Christmas Eve, so they weren’t running their $10K game this week. Aces replaced their Friday night $10K with a $50 buy-in with $500 added for first place. Final Table’s Friday night game was the same buy-in, but with a $5,000 guarantee; instead of $500 for first, they had five $100 bounties on selected players. I had to go for the Final Table guarantee, not so much because I thought there wouldn’t be $5,000 in the pot at Aces, but because I figured the field size would be larger because of the guarantee. I don’t know if I was wrong, but in any case, they were already open to ten tables when I signed up, and the eventual field size was more than 130.

I started off the game at the same table I’d played for one of the FT morning $1K Guarantees, with the aggressive M immediately on my right and even more aggressive N two spots to his right. As often is the case M built up a good-sized stack by going over the top from position, but as is almost as often the case when I’ve played with either of them, they both busted out and rebought before the first break and they were gone before the second.

I got chopped down in the middle of the first segment, then managed to double up to just over starting stack before break one. By break two, I was at 40K, more than twice the chip average.

The third segment was tough. I took a couple of tumbles, doubling up all-ins and getting knocked down to 10,000 chips. A table change brought me into the company of a real peach of a player who seemed to pick one target at each table he was at to denigrate. It didn’t bother me so much—although I did have to check myself a couple of times from making snarky comments—but the woman who was his next target after me was pretty upset. He seemed to get ruder as I stacked back up to 40,000 and picked up one of the $100 bounties. Average at third break was 31,400.

Moved into overdrive in the fourth segment and knocked out another player in a race , putting me up to 140,000 (of a total of 1,600,000) chips with 25 players left. Six-and-a-half hours after we started, we were in the money (17th got a bubble payment of $100). AN hour later we made the final table with ten players.

I’d made a big misstep not long before the final table. I was in the SB with A on my left. I had KxTx and raised to 16,000 at 4,000/8,000/500 after action folded to me. She called and the flop came Ax7xAx. I checked and she bet at it, the board eventually had Ax7xAx7x9x and there was 50,000 of my chips in the pot. I didn’t think she had the ace and thought I might have the best kicker but….

Blinds were eating through the stacks at the final table. A number of people were pressuring the big stack to make a chop; I gave him my advice to fight to the end. I was down to 51,000 chips with blinds at 10,000/20,000/3,000. Definitely the short stack at the table at that point. I picked up KxTx again and shoved from UTG+2 and almost got away with it. Action folded to BB, who thought about it for a long time, then called me with 5x7x. She had a 33% of winning and managed to hit it, pulling out a nine-high straight.

A little birdie tells me that it went on for a little longer after I left, then they chopped it for what would have been just over $1,000 each.

Forgot to take a picture!

Eight hours. +143% ROI. 10th of 131 players.