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.

Pulling the Trigger

A Saturday chop at Encore sent me into a scramble to catch the tail end of the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza I, in the hopes of chipping up my couple of thousand to something bigger. Obligations at home kept me from taking off until Wednesday night, so I missed the a couple of games I would have liked to play—like the $460 Big Bounty and $350 PLO/PLO8 game on Tuesday—but I caught an afternoon flight and made it down to Las Vegas, finally getting into the hotel about 9pm, then having to wait in line for half an hour to check in.

I was far too late for the last entry stage of the 7pm $175 daily tournament by the time I dumped my stuff off in my room at the Imperial Palace, but I figured I’d wander up to see where the tournament area had been moved, in The Palazzo, then figure out what to do. It was about a fifteen or twenty-minute walk from the IP, depending on how fast you were going and how many people were on the street. I briefly considered playing the 10pm, but figured I’d rather be rested for the noon $350, so I just bought my ticket and wandered back to The Venetian to see what I could find in the way of a cash game. Nothing open but Hold’em; I put my name on the board for the 1-2 PLO (I figured it would be practice for the Triple Barrel tournament) and 1-2 Big ‘O’, since the waits for Omaha8 were exceedingly long. Then I sat. And sat. Finally, just before midnight, I was called for Big ‘O’, which I’d played in tournaments but never for more than a single hand in a dealer’s choice cash game. Just after I sat down, my name came up for PLO and I stupidly gave it up, then proceeded to bust out of the Big ‘O’ game in about ten minutes. At least I got a few hands of poker in for the day. Went back to the IP and got a few hours of sleep after that.

Venetian 2012 Deep Stack Extravaganza I Event 27 $350 No Limit Hold’em

No surprise, but all of the DSE merchandise was gone by the middle of the last week. I got my food voucher and headed early to me seat.

We started off with 12,000 chips in this tournament. The players were pretty sparse in the first minutes, and most of the early birds looked like they were older than me. The “Internet kids” weren’t there yet. Are there still Internet kids in the post-Black Friday American poker scene?

Played Q4 on my second hand and made Broadway on the turn to take in a pot of nearly 5,000 chips, then lost ground on a flush draw that knocked me below 13,000.

AxQx. Play it or not? According to PokerListings, Daniel Negreanu’s nickname for the hand was “1.4”, based on how many millions of dollars he’d lost on it. It didn’t cost me that much but it took pre-flop raises by AxKx and KxKx in close succession to get me bak as high as 10,000 chips. Just to show I hadn’t learned my lesson, I made top pair with AxQx shortly after that, but my top pair didn’t look good in the face of four to a straight on the board.

With one exception (see later) my back always seems to be toward tournament clocks, no matter where I’m playing, and this time was no exception. Time wasn’t going to be on my side either way, with me going too far out on a limb with 9x9x and a board with two overs. I was right in figuring my opponent hadn’t hit the board with two over cards to my pair, but I was wrong about his hand strength: KxKx. THat took me down to 7,000 chips.

Another misstep with A2 dropped me down to 5,000 when AxAx came calling. Lost some more with what I’m calling the “mini-Butcher” (Qx9x) against 8x8x, then called a re-raise with QxJx and found myself with just 2,650 about an hour and forty minutes in.

I raised with KxJx and found myself with a gutshot straight on the flop, hitting the queen I needed on the turn and going all-in to win a pot of 2,000 chips. That pushed me up to 3,600. Another KxJx cost me when I had to lay down or go all in after the turn with an up-and-down straight draw. Shortly before the break, I shoved with A6 and got a call from AxKx but pulled out a flush and doubled to 4,825.

After the break,the first hand I folded Tx7x on BTN—usually something I’d play from that position as long as the cost of entry wasn’t too big—then I watched my 9x6x8x roll out on the flop. Fifteen minutes after the end of break, I was all-in with AT after a 9xAx9x flop and got one call, but it only made up ground I’d been losing, putting me just under 5,000 chips.

UTG with 4x4x, I called a raise to 800 and got a flop with all diamonds. I didn’t have one and folded to a post-flop bet. My last hand was against 4x4x. My AxJx went nowhere and I was out.

Two hours and forty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 220th of 278 players. $80,481 prize pool.

Venetian 2012 Deep Stack Extravaganza I Event 28 $350 Triple Barrel Pot Limit Omaha

The Triple Barrel format gives you 4,000 in chips and two lammers worth 4,000 chips each that can be put into play at any time prior to the end of the first break. I’d first seen the Triple Barrel format on television during the 2011 WSOP Heads-Up Championship match between Jake Cody and Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Between that and the fact that I only have limited experience in PLO, I was chalking this one up to a learning experience.

My neighbor to my right took the big stack strategy, electing to start off with 12,000 chips. I stuck with my small stack, although I think he may have had a better idea of what he was doing than me. Regardless of my inexperience, I was the first person at the table to win a pot after four straight take-downs by the woman in seat nine. On her first pot, the older guy on my left says something about her scooping the pot. I think he’s making a joke, but an hour into the game several of us are talking and he says it took a while for him to realize that we weren’t playing Hi-Lo, because there weren’t any qualifying lows on the board.

I lost my first stack about forty-five minutes in, with two pair and a straight draw against a lower straight draw who called my repot raise and caught his card on the river.

Fifteen minutes into the second barrel and it was down to 2,575 as well. Then I had nut flush and open-ended straight draws on the flop and three of us went all in. I tripled up to 8,150 chips, which combined with my remaining lammer put me ahead of the starting stack, slightly.

I folded out post-flop with an up-and-down draw with lots of action developing. The 3x on the river would have made my straight and won the pot for me. I was down a bit, but hit a set of sixes and bet the pot to win a hand. I still had 7,500 and a lammer. Once again, the tournament clock was behind me.

Just about two hours in and I had two pair on the flop, but running kings on the turn and river don’t make them look so good and I have to lay my chips down, which drops me to 2,400 and a bullet. I cash in my lammer at the break and have just 8,950 chips left.

During the break, one of the guys at my table mentions that a player at the other end is WSOP bracelet-winner Eric Baldwin. And Eli Elezra‘s at the next table over.

I’m starting to run on fumes, though. I have two pair and am good to the turn, but I can’t shake the big stack next to me and he sticks through to the river to catch a better two pair, leaving me with just 4,125.

Half-an-hour after the break, my doom awaits. I try to lay a trap holding the king-high flush on the flop and check, then call a raise from the big stack on my right that put me all-in against a full house. Before I left, I got confirmation from the big stack that his ideal strategy for Triple Barrel is to cash out at the beginning. And get great cards.

Three hours and thirty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 42nd of 66 players. $19,107 prize pool.

Venetian 2012 Deep Stack Extravaganza I Event 28 $120 Nightly No Limit Hold’em

I went and had dinner, then wandered back to the IP to lick my wounds and call Ms. Poker Mutant. I avoided the Venetian cash room after my Big ‘O’ drubbing of the night before, and made it back to The Palazzo in time for the 10pm $120 tournament. Half the field of 106 was gone already in the 7pm $175 tournament after just three hours.

The vibe at the night table was very different from the afternoon games. There’d been plenty of talking and jokes at both the earlier tournaments—everyone had a pretty good laugh with the guy who told everyone he’d started the PLO game thinking it was PLO8—but the woman who sat in seat 1 at my table called over to a friend at the next table that they were playing for “Strip club money, baby!” And that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the game. She was gone in relatively short order, but a friend of hers who I shall refer to as The Ape, got sat a spot from my left, then proceeded to shove all-in with Kx2x over a couple of raises, only to bust out, buy back in, and sit down at the other table.

Meanwhile, I’d played 85 and made top pair on the flop but let a guy get to the river who was trying to bet me off. He caught his ace on the river and thirty-five minutes in I was down to 4,600 from the starting stack of 8,000.

Fifteen minutes later, I picked up QxQx on BTN and am hoping for some major action. Instead, everyone folds to me, I raise and one of the blinds comes along. Another queen shows on the flop and I make a small raise and the blind folds, gaining me only 500 chips.

A8 made middle pair and I kept betting, which eventually won me the hand and put my stack up to 6,450. A loss knocked me down to 5,125 by seventy-five minutes, then an attempt to protect my button but me down to 3,950.

At least I could see the tournament clock. The 10pm seems to be the bastard child of the Deep Stack Extravaganza, so we got a kitchen timer.

On the break, I checked around the other tournaments still running at 11:30pm. The Triple Barrel had 12 players left, there were only 29 of the 7pm players still in. And there were still 29 in from the noon $350 game.

The Ape had busted out of the game again and been moved back to the same seat he’d been in before. He actually accumulated some chips this time, but he seemed to have a beef with the guy on his left. He claimed to have a “last-longer” bet with one of his other friends in the tournament, the value of which started off at $2,000, then changed at some point to $1,000. Top prize was only about $950, and I was wishing that they’d take their strip club money and head out.

Once action was going again, middle pair and 48 worked for me, then I picked up a couple more hands, which put me in a position where I could fold a raise of 1,000 holding AQ to an all-in and still have 12,225 chips left. Then A7 making a flush on the flop after I raised to 800 pre-flop and got two calls. A 1,500 bet post-flop scared them away.

I’ve never called a clock on anyone in my life before, but The Ape got into a Phil Hellmuth-like tirade with the guy on his left, going on about how he’d promised to tell him “a story.” It went on and on, with everyone at the table seeming to be wishing they (or he) were anywhere else. The floor seemed to be very reluctant to actually put the clock in play; apparently The Ape is a regular player. A little later, when he was busted out, he just sat there for a couple minutes and the table was completely silent.

Two and a quarter hours in, I lost some ground with a suited JxTx when I missed an up-and-down straight and flush draw. I still had over 10,000 chips, but the blinds were getting large. Half and hour later, they’d chopped me down to 7,200.

I’d just gone through the blinds on table 2 when the final table was made and I got stuck just ahead of the blinds again. I had nothing playable, and was down to 5,100 chips when I was on the button again.

I was UTG and about to hit the blinds again at 800/1,600/100 when I looked down at QxQx. Naturally, I was all in, and just as naturally, not too many people were concerned about calling my stack of about 4,500 chips. Two callers: one with AxKx and the other with 4x4x. The ace hit on the flop and I was done for the day.

Three hours. -100% ROI. 8th of 24 players.

Venetian 2012 Deep Stack Extravaganza I Event 27 $560 No Limit Hold’em

I headed over to The Palazzo for breakfast Friday morning in my suit and tie, then wandered over the bridge to The Wynn to look around. Nothing but expensive shops. I tried to find an alternative route back, but the valet would have none of it, steering me back to the bridge.

Feeling a little thirsty after my excursion, I stepped into the Grand Lux Cafe to have a Diet Coke that was indeed “lux” at $3.51 for a 20 oz. bottle. As I was on my way out, one of the guys at the counter asked me where I’d gotten my shoes. I told him Portland was crawling with Nike outlets and mentioned that I’d gotten them because 2 and 3 were my favorite pair of cards, a little joke I’d thought of earlier in the morning.

I got the security guard near the dragon in the Palazzo gallery to take my picture in full regalia for the day, and when I sat down early for the $560 got to chatting with the dealer and told her my joke about playing that day because I was suited. She laughed and said that was an original one to her, which made me happy. Also, 15,000 in chips.

My first hand in the match, I had A2 UTG and folded after three clubs came on the flop. Another suited ace just a couple minutes later (A5) on the BB made the middle pair and I won with 5s and 7s and the ace kicker. Up to 18,050 less than 10 minutes in.

I lost some ground fishing for a flush with A[td,][then][played][A3 because of the joke about the shoes and caught a pair of threes and a flush draw. I re-raised post-flop by 4,000 chips and ended up beating KxJx with the pair.

Twenty minutes in, and I was up by nearly 6,000 chips.

Just past the half-hour mark, I have Ax7x and see a 7x7x9x flop. There are two raises ahead of me and I pop it to 4,000. Seat 1 goes all-in, the players between us get out, and I call. He has 6x7x, I have him covered, and my kicker holds. He’s out.

Almost immediately, my KxJx makes a straight and I take another big pot. I’m up to 47,000 chips forty minutes into the match.

With KxQx, I call a pre-flop three-bet of 2,400 and hit the up-and-down straight draw, then shove and take the pot. Then The Butcher (QxTx) hits a flush draw and I semi-bluff everyone off that pot. Eighty minutes in and I’m over 54,000 chips.

I lose several thousand trying for an inside straight draw with 89. Down to 52,450 with the chip average at 17,250 at one hour and forty-five minutes.

I’d read a section in an article on the way down about amateur players who get big stacks in large tournaments having a tendency to rein in their play for fear of losing their chip advantage. And despite the fact that I’d read that just two days prior, it’s exactly what I did here and—more importantly—in another hand in this tournament. I’ve described what happened here to a couple of people who say that my actions don’t sound like me, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away by saying they’re not what I would normally do.

I was on BTN with A5 and called a raise to 450 just past the two hour mark. SB went all in for 6,500, getting two callers. None of them had much more than the starting stack, but I folded, only to watch a straight to the six roll out on the flop. A pair won the hand; I could have potentially knocked out three players.

At the break, I had 48,775 chips. A few late comers put the number of entries up to 222, with a prize pool of $107,115 and a top prize of $25,709 with 27 paid.

I took down to hands in a row with spade flush draws and raises post-flop and was back over 50,000 fifteen minutes after the break was over.

My biggest mistake came at the three hour mark. The player who’d won the hand where I folded the straight was later pointed out to me as Randy Dorfman. I had 6x6x and got to the flop of 5x6x7x. I was pleased, but we checked it around to the A turn, which put two diamonds on the board. A player to my right raised, I re-raised to 7,000, then Dorfman shoved all-in for another 20,000 chips. The initial raiser went all-in for less, and in the face of a flush draw or a made straight, I folded, even though if I’d lost, I still would have had more than the average stack. Dorfman flipped over 5x5x for the lesser set and the other player shoed a couple of diamonds, but no diamond on the river meant Dorfman took the pot. It was a good bet, but the old Poker Mutant would never have folded that set.

I called a small all-in ten minutes later with KT, got two other callers, and hit trip kings by the river to make up some ground. 61,000 chips with the average at 21,000.

I stuck to another pair of sixes (66) that made a club flush on the turn. It wasn’t a great flush, but it was good enough to put me over 65,000.

Lost 5,000 with 6T and middle pair on the flop, but still had nearly three times the average stack of 22,000.

About an hour after he picked off my winning sixes, Dorfman got chopped down trying to get fancy with the player on my left, who I believe was this guy, making someone other than me the table chip leader for the first time in a couple of hours. Dorfman busted out almost immediately to another player on my end of the table.

With two large rival chip stacks on left, I didn’t have quite the free reign I’d had before. I lost 14,000 on a flush draw that cut me down to 50,000 before the second break. We had 102 players to go before the money.

I got very lucky in SB with J8 about four hours and forty-five minutes in. The flop hits 868. I check, a guy after me bets 1,800, and I shove way over his stack. He thinks for a bit then calls with 6x9x and just a couple of outs. I win and have about 90,000 chips.

I called an all-in by the player who knocked out Dorfman with Qx9x and a gutshot straight to the king. The hole in the straight fills in on the river, but the J also completes a flush for my opponent and he doubles.

My suited Ax2x loses in a flush draw next when KxQx makes a set. I’m down to 57,000.

The stack I doubled up is now larger than me. I have the bottom end of a four-card straight on the board and push, but he has the top end and knocks me out in 119th place.

Five hours and fifteen minutes. -100% ROI. 119th of 222 players.

I had another day before I was scheduled to return to Portland, but I decided to husband the last bit of my winnings from the Encore game and headed back to the IP, got my reservation bumped up a day, then hightailed it to the airport and home to start building up for the next attempt. If I can manage it, I want to hit The Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles for Winnin’ o’ the Green series mid-month, possibly with a trip to the WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Rincon north of San Diego.

A Day of Poker That Will Live in Infamy

The Road to Prague came to an abrupt end in Vegas a couple of weeks back, so instead of testing the waters at Day 1B of the European Poker Tour in the Czech Republic, I played a lot of poker here in town.

D’s Dealer’s Choice

Hadn’t been out to D’s place for a couple of sessions, but action was already started with me only a few minutes late. Jumped right in and did surprisingly well, particularly off a game of ‘Big O’ five-card Omaha. I was up over two buy-ins in profit then it was an evil downhill slope where I lost my profit, my buy-in, and two more buy-ins before I managed to recover a little.

Four-and-a-half hours. -140% ROI.

Deuces Players Club $122 Win the Button Guarantee

I hadn’t been into Deuces since the inaugural tournament back in July. It was pretty quiet just after midnight when I got there after leaving D’s, with four people sitting around one table playing spades when I was expecting to walk into the last minutes of the first round of their 11:22pm Win the Button tournament (which I’d been interested in trying out). There hadn’t been enough players to start the tournament—and even with me they still had to wait for another—so I hung out a little bit to see if it would get off the ground. After about ten minutes GG walked through the door and we got down to business.

I hadn’t played a Win the Button tournament before, but there’s certainly an extra dimension of strategy involved, even in folding. The winner of the hand gets the dealer button moved in front of them for the next hand, and while some versions of the game rotate the blinds and just give the button player last action, at Deuces the blinds are fixed to the button as in a regular game, so consecutive wins by the same player really punish the positions to his immediate left, especially once the blinds get up there.

Early in the game I was on the BB with 72 and called a 5x raise pre-flop to pair the deuce. Another deuce hit on the turn and I kept calling. A 7x on the river made my full house but I wasn’t abel to get any more money out of them. I flipped over the hand and was the object of much derision for the rest of the game, with some mentions that I should read the copies of Super System in the lounge area. I sort of had to laugh. I eventually ended up re-buying and doing an add-on, but several other re-buys worth of chips at the other end of the table seemed to be taking the day by the time I was out.

90 minutes. -100% ROI. Placed 4th of 5.

Encore Club Noon $1,000 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

Worked for a while on my birthday morning, then headed off to the Encore. This is one of those times when I really wish I was keeping better track of my play, but it was my birthday and I was playing mostly for fun. I’d been knocked down a bit and thought I was going to double up with KxKx against an ace-high hand, but the board put out four spades and with his A he knocked me out. I got my re-buy stack (first in the tournament) and a newly-sat player on my right pushed on the next hand. I called him with TxTx and he flipped 9x9x. My barely-higher pair held and I was up to 10,000.

That sank to about 7,400 by the first break. I picked up the 3,000 chip add-on, along with another 21 of the remaining 28 remaining players. Not long after the break ended, I got another pair handed to me and pushed up to 17,100 with JxJx against 9x9x.

With no action ahead of me, I raised from from BTN with QxTx and got an all-in from BB. I called and he showed 5x9x. I made an unnecessary set of tens. On my last hand before the break I ended up all-in with AxAx against Ax9x and hit a full house by the river. That put me up to and even 30,000 chips at the second break, with 15 players left and a little more than 10% of the chips in play.

That’s where I stopped recording regularly. Three hours into the game, I was at 68,000, then back down to 60,000 (with the chip average under 32,000) when we made the final table. At the four-hour mark I had 131,000 chip, and was over 50% of the chips in play by the time we got to 3-way play. Every hand I was getting had some sort of ace in it, and I was putting the two other stacks at risk continuously. They were talking about how they were playing for second and third at that point, I was prepared to make a deal of some sort, then I shoved with 2x2xthe hand I’d won with in the $10K—and the larger of the two stacks decided he’d had enough and called. I don’t remember what he had, but he had enough chips that when he hit a better hand by the river, his stack was larger than mine. That caused me problems on the next hand when I shoved with 3x3x and got called again, because then I was out, with less than half the money I could have won from some smarter play.

Four-and-a-half hours. +134% ROI (including tip). Placed 3rd of 34.

Encore Club 10pm $500 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

Aside from the re-buy, I broke my other cardinal rule and had a drink (on the house, courtesy of S) while was playing. Hell, it was my birthday, I had two drinks. Busted out shortly after the first break.

 Eighty minutes. -100% ROI. 17th of 23 players.

Deuces Players Club $122 Win the Button Guarantee

Wandered back across the river to Deuces and made it possible for the Win the Button game to get going. PO—who used to run mixed games elsewhere—was behind the desk and it was good to see him again. My second run at this game went considerably better. By the time it was down to just GG and myself, I had him at a bit of a disadvantage, and this time there wasn’t much joking about my need to brush up on Brunson, especially with me winning the button 80% of the time and a small blind representing 3% of the chips in play.

I was magnanimous. It was late, the 2:22 game was due to start in fifteen minutes, and there wasn’t that much money at stake. We chopped evenly.

Two hours. +53% ROI. 1st of 6 players.

Deuces Players Club $222 Guarantee Last Call Freeroll

I thought this game was going to go a lot differently. Not long after we got going, a player sat in seat 9 and started blowing through buy-ins. He was all-in on his first hand and it seemed like his only move was all-in. Inevitably, he’d get called and while he did win a couple showdowns, it wasn’t because he had the best hand to start. Or even a good hand. Anyway, some large stacks got made at our table because of it. I picked up quite a few and was doing well until after the final table was made, then tangled a couple of times with other big stacks and got cut down.

Deuces has been trying to run a 24-hour operation, but later in the day after I was there the web site changed to say they were only going to be open late-night from 11pm to 7am. I wish them (and everyone else in the Portland poker scene) luck with that.

One hundred ten minutes. -100% ROI. 9th of 15 players.