They Say the Definition of Madness Is Doing the Same Thing and Expecting a Different Result

Same club, same tournament on consecutive days. We’re down to the bubble at the final table.

On the first day, I’m doing OK. Not hugely stacked, but pretty comfortable. A discussion has been brewing about paying a double bubble, but seat 1 is against it, the pot’s too small. Then he loses a chunk and he’s one of the short stacks.

He’s on the bubble in a hand where action folds to him and he shoves all-in. The small blind re-shoves for somewhere over 20K. I’m in the big blind with about twice that. I’ve got KxKx. I don’t even think about throwing them away, so you?

I’m up against Ax6x and Ax9x. The board runs out a straight to the nine, and I’m down to around 20K, which doesn’t sound so bad, except blinds are 3K/6K. I end up out in fifth place and don’t even make the bubble money. If I’d folded the kings I would likely have made second or third at least.

The next day, we’re at to six players and the bubble. A small stack in the middle of the pack goes all-in, one of the chip leaders calls him, and once again, I’m in the big blind with KxKx.  I have to think long (well, it felt like a long time) and hard about it before I make the call. I could easily be out again, since I’m covered. This time, though, the kings are good, I triple up and end up in the final chop.

My Own Worst Enemy

Lock Poker $750 Guarantee Deepstack Turbo (T5,000)

I can really screw things up for myself. I hadn’t played much online lately, but dropped some money into the Lock box and played a couple of games, including this one where I totally screw myself at the end. Follow along and see!

Hand 1. A7 UTG2
I open-raise from 10/20 to 65, getting calls from HJ and CO. The flop is an unsatisfactory 8TQ and I c-bet 125. Both call. 9 on the turn gives me the bottom end of an up-and-down straight draw, but any jack’s already there and there’s still the possibility of a four-flush, so I check. HJ shoves and takes the pot of 600.

Hand 2. 3K HJ (table refactor)
Fold.

Hand 3. 85 UTG3
Folded. Blinds 15/30.

Hand 4. KK UTG2
Open-raise 75; CO calls. 62K flop, check-check. Turn is 9, I bet 100 and get a call. 7 on the river, I bet 300, CO folds.

Hand 5. 84 UTG1
Fold.

Hand 6. Q4 HJ (table refactor)
Fold.

Hand 7. T4 UTG3
Fold.

Hand 8. 24 UTG2
Fold. Blinds 25/50.

Hand 9. 66 UTG1
Lower than my preferred range for 9-handed. Fold. As it ended up, two players hit two pair: jacks and queens beating jacks and nines on the river.

Hand 10. 89 UTG
Fold.

Hand 11. 64 BB
Fold to SB raise of 300. Blinds 50/100.

Hand 12. TJ SB
UTG and UTG1 limp in, I raise to 275. BB folds, UTG and UTG1 call. Flop is Q6Q. I check, UTG bets 400, UTG1 raises to 800, and I get out of the way. UTG re-raises to 1,600 and takes the pot.

Hand 13. 9T BTN
UTG1 min-raises to 200, CO min-raises to 300, and I call. BB and UTG1 call. Flop is 7JA giving me a gut-shot straight.BB and UTUG1 check to CO who bets 100 into a pot of 1,250.  I’m more than willing to call that; UTG1 comes along. 8 makes my straight but puts a potential flush out. Action checks to me and I bet about a third of the 1,550 pot. UTG1 folds but CO calls. 4 on the river doesn’t change a thing. I’m either still good or I’m beat. CO checks and I check. He has a busted higher straight with QK. I’m up to 6,305.

Hand 14. 34 CO
Fold.

Hand 15. A4 HJ
Fold. Blinds at 75/150.

Hand 16. K8 HJ (dead button)
Fold.

Hand 17. 89 UTG2
Fold.

Hand 18. Q2 UTG1
Fold.

Hand 19. 94 UTG
Fold.

Hand 20. AK BB
UTG1 calls and everyone else folds. I raise to 450; UTG1 calls. The flop is A2J, I’ve got top pair and top kicker, with nut flush draw. I check to see what he’s going to do, and he puts in 450, about half the pot. I pot it to 1,500 and he calls. Regardless, I’m feeling pretty confident. K makes me top two pair. I’ve still got my flush draw, but a different flush is possible. Only a slim chance he’s got two clubs, but it could work to my advantage. We’re roughly even in chips: I’ve got a couple hundred more than him, but we both have more than 27bb behind, with nearly the same in the pot. I raise all-in and he calls with 9J. The river is Q and my two pair holds, putting me up to T12,435  and vaulting me into the top ranks in the tournament twenty minutes in.

Hand 21. 74 UTG4
Folded.

Hand 22. Q7 UTG3
Folded. Blinds at 100/200.

Hand 23. 42 UTG1
Fold.

Hand 24. 3J UTG
Fold.

Hand 25. 57 BB
I get a walk.

Hand 26. 32 SB
Fold.

Hand 27. A6 BTN
Blinds are 125/250/20. UTG2—with 30K the only other player at the table with more than 7,000 chips—limps and I fold.

Hand 28. 35 CO
Fold.

Hand 27. AJ UTG1 (moved to new table)
I’m the biggest stack at the new table, with about 2.5K more than anyone else. I’m in seat 9, there are three stacks between 9K and 10K in seats 4, 6, and 8, a 6K stack in seat 3, and the other have less than 5K. UTG opens with a min-raise to 500 and I announce my presence at the new digs with a three-bet to 1,250. Everyone folds but UTG, he calls. The flop is 29A and he checks. I check behind. J on the river makes me very happy. UTG checks. THere’s 3K in the pot, I bet just another 1,250 and he folds.

Hand 28. A7 UTG
Fold.

Hand 29. AT BB
Blinds are 150/300/30. UTG raises to 600, BTN goes all-in for 3,220, and I fold. UTG calls with KA v. BTN’s 6T and two kings on the board make his set. He’s not the big dog on the table with 22K.

Hand 30. 89 SB
Fold.

Hand 31. QT BTN
Everyone ahead of me folds and I raise to 700. SB folds, BB shoves for 2,775. I call against 4s 3h] and he makes a pair of treys on the turn.

Hand 32. 76 CO
Fold.

Hand 33. 34 HJ
Fold.

Hand 34. 8K UTG3
Fold.

Hand 35. Q7 UTG1
Blinds at 200/400/40. Fold.

Hand 36. 4Q UTG
Fold.

Hand 37. J4 BB
Folded to 6,650 all-in from SB.

Hand 38. 8K SB
UTG min-raises to 800, which I would have called, but BTN goes all-in (second hand in a row) for 7,330. I fold and  UTG calls, with 8,343 behind. It’s HU with KK (BTN) against TT (UTG). The board rolls out QJJ7J and the kings double up.

Hand 39. 3K BTN
Fold. I drop below T10,000.

Hand 40. 54 CO
Fold.

Hand 41. T7 HJ
Fold.

Hand 42. K9 UTG1 (7-handed due to table balancing)
Blinds are 250/500/50. UTG, with the largest stack at the table (18K), min-raises to 1,000, I fold, BB calls. They raise after the 533 flop, with BB at risk with JA against UTG’s 66. A J hits on the river, doubling BB.

Hand 43. K4 UTG
Fold.

Hand 44. T9 BB
UTG is all-in for just 1,202 but nobody else calls. When he opens up, he has 3J. He’s lucky with the 434 flop; the 6 turn gives me a few more outs, but I make one of my pairs with 9 on the river and knock him out.

Hand 45. 89 SB
Fold.

Hand 46. TJ BTN
No SB, since the player was knocked out the hand before. CO raises to 1,050 and I call, BB comes along. CO’s smaller than me by 1,500, BB has a 5,000 chip advantage. THe flop is 779, making me a gut-shot straight draw, but I fold to a bet of 1,750 from CO.

Hand 47. 24 CO
Blinds are 300/600/60. Fold.

Hand 48. 72 HJ
Fold.

Hand 49. 2Q UTG2
Fold.

Hand 50. TT UTG1
I raise to 2,000 and everyone folds.

Hand 51. 2Q UTG
Fold.

Hand 52. 4J BB
Fold to a min-raise and call.

Hand 53. 4T SB
Blinds are 400/800/75. Fold.

Hand 54. 9T BTN
UTG min-raises and I call the 1,600. Both blinds come along. The flop is 684 and I’ve got another gut-shot straight draw. UTG (the tournament leader with 40K) bets 1,875 into the pot of 7,000 and I bail along with everyone else.

Hand 55. 2Q CO
Fold.

Hand 56. 78 HJ
Fold.

Hand 57. T3 UTG3
Fold.

Hand 58. K5 UTG2
Fold.

Hand 59. Q7 UTG1
Blinds are 500/1,000/100. I open with a min-raise to 2,000 and everyone folds.

Hand 60. 8A UTG
Fold.

Hand 61. 57 BB
BTN opens with a min-raise from a stack of 24K and I fold my big blind, leaving me just 9,275.

Hand 62. KA SB
The hand I’ve been waiting for. Action folds around to BTN (with 15.25K), who shoves. I’m behind and at rise, but go all-in to call. BB (with a stack smaller than mine) folds. BTN shows JJ.  The flop is good to me: Q2A. Top pair and top kicker with a flush draw, leaving the jacks drawing very thin. An 8 on the turn seals the deal, and I’m over T20,000.

Hand 63. 35 BTN
Fold.

Hand 64. K9 CO
Hearts again. The big blind has a third of his chips in the pot already. Action folds around to HJ, the player I beat with jacks two hands earlier. He raises to 3,000, leaving less than that behind. I call, BTN and SB fold, then BB goes all-in for just another 50 chips. Both HJ and I call. The flop is 75K. I only have naked kings, but when HJ pushes his last chips in the pot to make it a total of 13.25K, the pot odds of calling another 2,800 are too good. He has just A5; BB has A2. I’m the heavy favorite. Nothing happens to change that by the river, both players are eliminated, and I’m over T30,000 and second in chips at the table.

Hand 65. 4Q UTG2
Blinds are now 600/1,200/120. Fold.

Hand 66. 2T UTG1
Fold.

Hand 67. 85 UTG
Fold.

Hand 68. JJ BB
Action folded all the way to SB, who tried to steal my big blind and ante with a raise to 2,400. We were relatively evenly-matched in chips, with me about 3K ahead. I re-raised him to 5,000 and he called. There was almost 11K in the pot with a flop of 75K. We both checked. 9 on the turn. So many possibilities for jacks to go wrong. He bet 7,300 and I called. A 7 on the turn and he shoved the last 14.6K of his stack in the middle. I wasn’t buying that he had a seven, and I was pretty certain he though I’d missed the board, which was essentially true. I called and he showed 2A for a pure bluff. Now I was on top of the leader board, with 57.5K.

I’d figured out that with 15 places paying, at T5,000 and 131 entries, the chip average at the time we hit the money bubble was going to be 43.7K. All I needed to do was maintain, stay around that number, and I was going to be make it into the cash. We wstill had a way to go, with about 40 players left, but I had almost 9% of the chips in play. Blinds were moving up fairly aggressively, however, so I wouldn’t be able to just glide.

Hand 69. 75 SB
Fold.

Hand 70. KK BTN
Where else do you want this hand? Big blind? Could I not play it just so there was no chance of losing chips? HJ went all-in with a raise of more than 10x: 13,015, about 23% f my stack. I was an overwhelming favorite against all but one card combination. I re-raised all-in over the top; the blinds had less than 2,000 between them. BB pushed in the last 345 in a desperation move and turned over 47. HJ had TT. Naturally, the flop was 42T and the entire 29K pot went to HJ. But hey, I still had almost exactly the average I’d figured for the bubble.

Hand 71. K7 CO
This got folded.

Hand 72. JT BTN
Only one other stack at the table had me out-chipped and that was by less than 1K. Everyone left was fairly healthy, however, with between 19K and 33.5K. The big stack was in SB. A low-20s stack in UTG1 min-plus-raised to 2,555 and I called. SB three-bet to 5,995. UTG1 folded, but I called to see a flop of 7TA. Both of us checked to see a 6 on the turn. SB bet 2,400 and I called, hoping for another ten or club. What I got was a 6, however. SB bet 3,600 and I paid him off, to see KK. Now I was down to 31.5K, but I could thank the ace on the flop that I wasn’t worse off.

Hand 73. J9 CO
Fold.

Hand 74. KJ HJ
Tangled again with the big stack. I opened to 4,000, big stack CO three-bet to 9,995, and BTN went all-in for 2,766. I called the three-bet, then we saw a flop of 493. CO bet 7,075 and I folded. It was QQ against 35 and the pocket pair held. Now I was down to just 21K.

Hand 75. 88 UTG1
We picked up a couple of new players—with roughly the same stack as I had—between me and the big stack (now 76.5K). I raised with my eights to 4,000 and was re-raised all-in. I sort of felt I was beat when it came my turn to call, and boy was I ever right: KK. I was behind and out chipped. K on the turn sealed my fate and I was busted from the tournament in 26th place, 11 places short of the money.

VPIP for the session was 25%. Six pairs in the hole. I won eleven hands, including six showdowns.

Seventy-five minutes, 75 hands. 26th of 131 players.

Last Hand

My last hand of the 2012 WSOP (maybe my last hand of any WSOP) went pretty much the way of the rest of my time here in Las Vegas the past couple weeks.

I was in the third level of the 2pm Deepstack tournament. They’ve been huge, but today’s was particularly large; we’re near the Main Event, the final table of the One Million for One Drop benefit was playing out, and there weren’t any smaller buy-in bracelet events starting today, just a $10,000 6-Handed NLHE event and a $3,000 PLO8, both of which sound like a lot of fun but which are a little out of the range of most players. So the field in the Deepstack was 1,711 today, with a prize pool of $333,645, 198 places paid, and a top prizer on the schedule of $61,796 (I was on a table with a guy the other night who said he was in a 16-way chop at the end of one of them last weekend, with each player taking home over $10,000 on a $235 investment). Overflow from the Derepstack led to tables being set up in hallways a few hundred feet from the tournament area, practically up at the registration area of the Rio.

I’ve been up and a little down in the tournament. Currently, I was down to between 10,000 and 11,000 chips, with blinds at just 100/200, so I have 50 big blinds. Our table has just four of its original players remaining (including myself). There are three New York/New Jersey guys in seats 1, 3, and 4. There’s a woman in seat 2. All are what I think of as “older” but they’re probably only ten or fifteen years older than me. All of them seem to be pretty competent and have won good-sized pots. The guy in seat 1 just won an enormous pot that took out three players a few minutes earlier. I’m in seat 6.

Seat 5 is a South American guy who sat down for his first hand, made a raise UTG, then folded it after four all-ins, which is what led to the three open seats. Seats 7 and 9 are occupied by a couple of younger European guys who showed up after the all-ins. Seat 7 has proven aggresive and already managed to lose some chips to Seat 1 after winning a pot or two.

Anyway, the button is on me, and I pick up KK. The blinds are on the Euroguys (I saw the funniest Euroguy at the Venetian the other day: he had sort of shaved-side head with a peroxide mop thing on top, and a white ski jacket with a neck that made him look like he was wearing a brace or some sort of medieval gorget). Seat 1 raises to 450 and gets 2 callers, I don’t remember who, exactly. I re-raise to 2,100 with my kings. The blinds are out. Seat 1 three-bets to 4,500 and the other callers go away.

I’m pretty certain at this point that I’m up against aces. It’s going to cost me just less than half my stack to see if I can hit a set on the flop and make life difficult for him. There’s 7,800 in the pot, I need to call 2,400. 3.25:1. I can recover from 6,500.

The flop puts out three spades, none of them the ace, none of them face cards. Seat 1 goes all-in and, having just taken out three players plus other winnings, he’s got me well-covered. There’s now 16,700 in the pot. 2.5:1 to call.

If he’s got aces—and I’m pretty sure he does—there’s a 50% chance that he doesn’t have A. If he doesn’t, I’m still behind, but have a lot of outs to make my flush; even A would be dead to him unless the board paired. If he does have A, then I’m drawing incredibly thin, hoping for K or K and no more spades.

Is he bluffing me? Or is he sucking me in?

Sucking in, as it turned out. He had me beat before the fourth (and fifth) spade turned over on the board. No straight flush, unfortunately.

My Kingdom For a Nine of Clubs

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

Had a very nice time talking poker with reader BP on Thursday, then he headed over to the Encore $1,800 game that night. I’m bearing down on the big games with 50+ players in preparation for the WSOP starting up this weekend, so I waited to head over until Friday’s $5,000 guarantee.

I was seated in seat 7 at the first red table, with JL—one of the recognizably better regulars at Encore—two seats to my right. I came in fresh off reading Gus Hansen’s Every Hand Revealed and most of Arnold Snyder’s The Poker Tournament Formula 2, so I was ready to work hard.

UTG2 with K2, I raised over a UTG call to 125. UTG called and we saw a flop of AxJx9x. I continued with a bet of 200, which UTG called. After that, we both checked through a 7x on the turn and 8x on the river. He must have been worried about a ten, because his 78 was good and he didn’t bet it.

I called with Q8 as CO to see a  flop of Qx6x4x. UTG2 bet 200 and I raised to 500, getting a call. We both checked to the river and my pair held up against his missed straight draw.

UTG3 holding 69. The flop was AxTx8x and it was checked around with four players still in. With a 9x on the turn, I bet 275, which was called around. I folded to a 550 bet on the river 8x.

Half an hour in, down to T8,875 and I’d already missed two opportunities to make two pair on the flop, with Q6 and 48.

Called a 300 raise with Q8 from BB to see a flop of A7T but folded to a 550 bet from BTN. Down to T8,325.

The first hand that turned things around at the table for me was 46 as CO. I limped to see the flop with several others and saw 2x5xTx, calling a 250 bet with one other to get to the 3x on the turn. HJ bet 500 and I reraised to 1,500, then UTG2 shipped it and I called with the nuts. HJ bailed and UTG2 turned over 2 pair. Ax on the river didn’t help him, and I doubled up to T17,800.

Just a few minutes after that, disaster struck with A7. I open-raised to 275, getting three calls to the Ax7x8x flop. With a little over 1,000 in the pot, I bet 1,000, hoping to shake off some people but only one dropped out. Qx on the turn and I bet 2,500, getting a call from the first player and an all-in from the other end of the table for 2,900 more. I called that, then the player who’d called me first shoved over the top for almost 8,000. By this time, there’s nearly 25,000 in the pot, and I call the extra 5,000. The original all-in has AxKx, the second all-in has beaten my two pair with AxQx, and a useless card on the river drops me down to somewhere over 6,000 chips.

I look down at KQ on my next hand and try something, by open-shoving from early position while the blinds are still just 50/100. It seems like a steam bet, what with only 150 in the pot, and amazingly enough, two players call, including one who’s just sat down into the BTN and the short-stacked BB. Two of us are all-in and the flop has a king on it, along with a ten. Tens on the turn and river give me the full house and before I have a chance to count up after my loss, I’m dragging in a big pile of chips.

A couple minutes later on BB and I three-bet an UTG 800 raise to 2,200. He lays down AxJx and I show him my AxAx. Another KxQx on the BTN and I drag another pot with a raise.

In the same round with 8x8x in HJ, I raise to 800 over three limpets, when the guy in CO who just folded AxJx to me shoves for 5,275. I call and he has 7x7x, which don’t get any better. He has to re-buy.

Seventy minutes into the game, the chip average is 11,739 and I’m sitting on T29,775.

UTG1 with KT I raise to 750. UTG2 calls and BTN shoves. I fold, but UTG2 (who was just busted with sevens ten minutes earlier) calls with AxKx and gets two pair on the turn.

In CO with [an][enticing][KQ, I raise to 1,100 and get a caller, but fold to an all-in bet on the J78 flop.

I’ve lost some ground halfway through the second hour, but with T27,325 I’m still more than twice the average stack when we get to the first break.

I get the T6,000 add-on. By the time break ends, there are 110 entries, 38 re-buys, and 96 add-ons, for a pot of $9,800 and a first prize of $2,820, with fourteen places paying.

UTG1 with 56, I raise to 800 and get one call. The flop is 6x4x3x and UTG3 bets 1,600, but I raise to 3,200 and he folds. T25,725.

On BB with 3x5x I check through with several others to see the flop roll out Kx3x4x. I bet 1,000 and get raised to 2,500, which I call. Another Kx on the turn makes things look very unpromising and after I check my opponent bets and I fold.

Cautiously called a 1,025 raise from JL holding A9. The flop was Tx5x5x and U folded to the first bet.

In CO with KxJx I raised to 1,100 over a single limp. HJ called and we saw a flop of QxJx6x. I bet 2,000 for the win.

At the two-hour mark, I was still down from my peak, but had T33,550. Average was still at T19,670 with 97 players left.

Ten minutes into the hour, I picked up 77 UTG1. UTG called the 400 blind and I raised to 1,800. SB, who was the second-largest stack at the table next to me, three-bet to 3,800 and BB and UTG got out of the way. I called, and the flop was 68T. SB checked to me. There was a better than 50% chance he didn’t have a club in his hand; I knew where at least four of them were already. Four of the remaining clubs were smaller than mine. So there were only five cards I was concerned about: 9, J, Q, K, and A. Even if he had one of those cards in his hand, unless he was paired, he was still behind me. He was behind me even if he had a pair of aces and one of them wasn’t a club. So I shoved with my made pair, my straight, flush, and straight flush draws. He showed AQ. I was a 54%/46% favorite. With J on the turn, though, I was down to needing the 9 to keep from losing, but the river was K. The hit was for nearly 30,000 chips.

Down at T3,400 with blinds at 300/600/75. Ten minutes after my big loss, I went all-in from BB with JT, getting a call from the short-stacked BB who just had me covered. He turned over AxAx. I paired my ten on the flop and had two diamonds on the board by the turn, but the river was no help and I was out.

Two hours and fifteen minutes. 90th of 110 players.

Best wishes to my home league host DV, who’s playing in Monday’s World Series of Poker Event #2, a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em tournament, for his second shot at WSOP glory. According to a Tweet from poker stats nut Kevin Mathers, there’s going to be a system in place at this year’s WSOP that lets people track chip counts at the breaks from home, so you can follow your friends.

 

A Tale of Two $10Ks

The Final Table Third Friday $10,000 Guarantee (T10,000 + T1,000 early registration bonus)

Got a copy of Gus Hansen’s Every Hand Revealed, his (almost) hand-by-hand account of winning an Aussie Millions tournament. Whatever you might think about Hansen’s style of play (and despite the fact that things may have changed a lot since he wrote the book) it’s a very interesting read and incredibly thoughtful and I don’t think I could possibly recreate hands as well even if I was using his tape recorder transcription method. Sorry. Also picked up Arnold Snyder’s The Poker Tournament Formula (volumes 1 and 2) and I’m hoping to pick out nuggets of useful info from there.

Met up at the Eastside Ringside before the 10K with BP, a Mutant Poker reader (I guess there are a couple) who recognized me at a Friday Encore game a couple weeks back. Had a great time talking poker, had a drink or two (which I almost never do before a game), and then headed down the street.

I started off in BB and folded a couple hands, then raised to 125 on BTN with Ax8x, calling a re-raise to 325. The turn was Q-high and I bet out for 700 but folded to a re-raise.

UTG with 2x2x and I was drawing the low end of a straight on the flop, but BB flopped the nuts. and half an hour in I was down to T8,200.

Called 350 with Qx9x but folded to an all-in war that ended up with KxKx drawing a set against AxAx. T7,500 now.

UTG again with 8T and I check-called a 300 raise. Flop of Ax4x5x and I was out of there. Forty-five minutes in: T7,050.

QxTx as CO and I called a big pre-flop raise but folded to an all-in after a flop of JxTx8x and a bet on the Ax turn.

Fifty minutes in and I’d lost more than half my starting chips: T5,250.

In BB with AK, I raised to 2,000 and was re-raised all-in. I called against AT and doubled up to almost where I’d begun: T10,650.

Back on BTN, I raised to 400 and got one call. The flop was Qx7x2x and I bet 1,000 to take the pot. Back over starting: T11,275.

Raised UTG with JxTx to 500 getting two calls half-an-hour later. The flop was a beautiful KxQx9x and it was checked around. The turn was a non-threatening Ax, it was checked to me and there was a bet of 3,000. I shoved over the top and was called by AxKx. My straight held.

Tx4x in BB  ten minutes later and I see the flop of QxTx4x. A guy who’s been going all-in throughout the game bets into it and I re-raise. As I expect, he shoves and I call because I’m pretty sure he’s not holding The Butcher, and my two pair knocks him out. He doesn’t show.

Next hand in SB with 8x2x I call to see 4x2x2x on the flop and check. BB bets out 600, UTG calls, and I raise to 2,000 getting both of them to fold. I show the hand.

A couple minutes later it’s my turn to fold 9x8x after calling 800 pre-flop. The board is QxJx8x but my bottom pair and low-end gut-shot isn’t good enough to call the 2,000 bet.

One hour and forty-five minute into the game and I’m up to a healthy T30,575, more than 40% above the chip average. Five minutes later, I’m buying the add-on of T8,000 chips. There are 84 entries, with 18 re-buys. The break sees 69 add-ons and the pot’s $13,650, with 13 places paying. 77 players left at the break.

After the break, I get to work, raising and taking the blinds and antes with Ax8x, then taking a pot atay from several callers with a post-flop raise with QxJx on a jack-high flop that put me up to T41,625.

In SB with 34 I called a raise to 1,700 from BB. The Qx2x5x gave me an open-ended straight draw and I bet 2,000 into it. BB tossed his cards and said he had AxJx. According to the odds calculators, if that was the case, we were almost exactly 50%-50%.

I re-raised to 7,000 over a 2,400 raise with 8x8x and a small stack shoved for 6,950 more. Was my pair good? Was it a desperate move to steal 10,000 chips? It was going to cost me about 3.5:1 to find out. I called, was up against queens and lost.

Pretty quickly I was back on track with TxTx. I raised over two calls to 4,000 and took the pot. One of the guys muttered he’d folded jacks. I was down to T32,000 but near chip average.

Then in my BB I picked up 6x6 and laid in wait to see a flop of 6x4x2x. I’ve learned my lesson about being shy with flopped sets. I pulled the trigger and didn’t worry about the possibility that someone might have come along with 3x5x, I bet 2,000 and got a call, then bet 7,000 after the Tx turn card and cracked some aces. I was back up to T43,400 at the end of three hours.

UTG fifteen minutes later with KxKx. I keep losing with kings, often by simply walking away from the board after a horrible flop. I raised to 2,700, getting three calls and a rather ominous QxJxTx flop. What premium hand isn’t beating me here? AxKx has the straight and my only hope against it is some sort of backdoor full house (or another ace to chop). QxQx JxJx, or TxTx has a set already and I need that ace or backdoor full house again. Any multitude of two pair hands in there that are playable by someone in a $10K tournament. Even 8x9x has me beat. So naturally when the player on my right goes all-in for more than 30,000 chips, I call. He has The Butcher, for two pair, but a miraculous 9x shows on the turn and I knock him out with the straight.

Two hundred minutes into the game I’m up to T71,875. The chip average is T27,081. Twenty minutes later, there are 55 players left and the chip average is just over T30,000.

I raise with QT over two calls, the flop is KT8. I try to get another spade but I’m lucky and don’t, losing to ATx.

Coming up on the end of the fourth hour of play as SB with 2x2x and I call an all-in of 4,700. He has QxTx and hits two pair on the flop. I start the next hour down to T50,600 with the chip average at T33,000.

With AxAx in CO I raise to 8,000 and get a call. The flop is 9x6x4x and I’m all-in over a raise, getting a call from JxJx for a win.

In UTG1, I call 4,600 with 9T. The flop is 7x9xJx and UTG bets 10,000 (a pattern his big stack will repeat throughout the rest of the night) and I have to fold my middle pair and gunshot. Still, I’m back up to T72800.

I open from the CO with 23 and take the blinds and antes.

UTG1 again. I call 3,600 with Q9 and fold to UTG’s 10,000 bet after the Kx8x5x bet.

In my SB, I raise to 11,000 with JQ. BB calls and the flop is KxJx9x This time it’s me who throws the 10,000 continuation and the guy to my left folds.

Raised 7,000 with QxJx and called an all-in who showed AxKx. I stayed behind as my chips raced to the other end of the table.

Hitting midnight after five hours of play, I was a little over the chip average, with T54,500.

The Butcher came through, with QxTx beating a nominally better hand on a 8xTx8x flop and bringing in 20,000.

Raised 10,000 a couple minutes later with 6x6x and lost to an all-in. Back down to T54000 by five hours and thirty minutes, with 28 players left.

I shoved with KxKx  from BTN sort of hoping to double up if someone thought it was a position play but just won the blinds and antes. Even so, by the time the I’d made it through the blinds, I was down to T50,300, more than 10,000 below average.

Just twenty minutes later, that had dwindled to half the average, at T34,700, with only 22 players left. Just nine before the money bubble.

As we approached the end of the sixth hour, I shoved with Ax9x over two calls and managed to win a pot that put me up to T40,600. Then, on my BB with TxTx I shoved over three calls and took another one down. Right after that I raised UTG with JxTx and won again. In twenty minutes I doubled my stack to T71,000 without a showdown. I was still below the T76,666 average.

As quick as it came, though, it went away. I picked up KxQx mid-position and raised to 10,000 from the 4,000 big blind. I got two callers, including the big stack on my immediate right. The flop was Kx9x2x and I bet into it, hoping that nobody had AxKx. Both of them came along. The Qx on the turn put me all-in, the first call was from the a smaller stack, the second was from the mega-stack, who’d snuck in there with JxTx to make the straight. The small stack had QxTx. No king or queen for me on the river and I was out short of the money. BP went on to a 4-way chop at 5:30! Congrats!

Six hours. 19th of 84 entries.

Encore Club $10,000 Guarantee (T10,000)

This was one of those up-and-down rides.

I folded my first two hands from seat 10, then raised over a couple of limpers to 125 with a nice little J9, getting several calls. The flop was a perfect Tx8x7x and I bet 300. Seat 2 raised me to 600, the players between us folded, and I three-bet 2,300. He called and the turn put out Jx. I go all-in with the rest of my full stack, he calls with JxTx, and my straight holds through the river. I’ve got him covered by a quarter because he was SB in the first hand.

I lost a little ground raising UTG1 with Q3 against UTG’s AxJx. and was down to T18,925 at fifteen minutes in. Missed an opportunity by folding Tx3x in SB when I didn’t call the 25 extra and the flop was Tx7x3x.

Raised to 225 with KxQx in CO, go two calls, then got a flop of 2x3x4x. It was checked around. With a 5x on the turn, I folded to a bet.

Half an hour in and my excursions had cut me down to T17750.

Raised from UTG1 to 225 with 46 and got one call. Bet 500 after the 8x7x4x flop and took it down.

A couple hands later I called 350 in a 3-way hand with Q5 in BB but had to fold after whiffing the flop.

SB on the next hand with KJ and three limpers. I raised to 55o and won. A couple hands later as CO I raised to 250 with Ax3x but folded to a bet of 800 on a king-high flop.

In the twenty minutes leading into the end of the first hour, I went from T17,775 to 17,575.

At the stroke of the hour, I played 84, and made a straight to the eight by the river, but the guy I’d busted on my first hand had a straight to the 9 and knocked me almost back to the starting stack. T10,875.

Not one to sit around dejected, I had a wheel draw with 2x3x, but missed on the river and had to fold to a bet, losing 800 chips in the encounter.

Opened to 575 with 89 and got two calls. The flop was T63, which got checked around. Another Tx on the turn and I folded to a bet. Right color but too diamondy for me.

Limped in with T6x on BTN and saw a Tx7x2x flop. SB opened with a 1,000 bet, mid-position called, and I re-raised to 3,000 to take the pot. Much speculation about my hand. I feel pretty proud of that play and a couple of others in this game.

CO with AQ and three-bet from 1,200 to 3,000. SB called and the flop hit as 8x7x8x. I folded to a bet of 4,000. That cut me down to T9,300 eighty minutes into the game.

Raised UTG2 with JxTx to 750 and got 2 calls. A shove on the jack-high flop and I won my way back up to T10,950.

On BTN with J9 again and I raised to 600 to see a flop heads-up: Kx4x5x. We checked to the turn, he bet 700, I folded, and he flipped KxTx. No need.

In HJ, called an 800 raise in a three-way hand with 34. Flop was Ax5xTx and I bet 1,200 with my gut-shot straight draw. I won.

At the first break I had T12,550, the average was T15,833 before the T7,000 add-ons.

At the end of the second hour of play, I called 400 UTG1 with KT. The blinds came along and the flop was ten-high. SB bet 500, I raised to 1,500 and took it.

Called 1,100 from BB with KQ (variations of that hand kept cropping up the night after it put me out of the Friday game), but had to fold after I didn’t connect.

Next hand it was Q6 as SB and I bought the barest of fingernails on a Jx8x6x flop. I bet 800 and got two calls then folded to a turn bet. Jx5x made the best hand by catching the low end of a nine-high straight on the river.

Raised with K9 and got a call. The flop was Ax9x6x and I bet 1,000. My opponent must not have had an ace!

Called 1,200 with four others in the hand before me holding JT to see a flop of AQJx. Everyone checked. 5 on the turn didn’t make my straight but I (and nobody else) could call the 3,000 to see the river so I don’t know if it or the flush would have come in. Still, I was up to T24,000.

Raised to 1,300 with Kx6x and got called by a shorter stack. The flop was KxTx9x and we checked to the Kx turn. I raised to 7,000. He hemmed and hawed and dawdled then shoved for 1,800 more. I figured he had to have the better kicker and called for what was less than 10% of the pot. He turned over KxTx for the nuts. I felt kind of annoyed about the way he’d slow-rolled the nuts. Was it all about getting me to call the other 1,800?

I was back down to T12,900 two and three-quarters of an hour in. Naturally, I got moved to a new table into the BB just a couple hands after paying the last time.

Fortunately, in SB I picked up JxJx and shoved over three limpets to take a hand that put me up to T15,900.

Had to fold a call of 2,700 with A8 when an all-in came after me.

Pulled another fast one with AT when I raised to 2,700, got two calls, and saw a flop of 7xJx7x. My shove won.

Moved again after just twenty minutes.

UTG with QT and I called a raise of 2,500 to of heads-up to a flop of A5J. My opponent bet 5,000 and I raised all-in. At least I had the ten of spades! He folded.

Up to T28,000 but below the T35,836 average.

55 players left at three hours and twenty minutes.

I went all-in over two limps with AxQx but got called by a smaller stack holding J9. He double-paired by the river and chopped me in almost in half. Down to T19225.

When they chipped up the 25 pieces, the average stack with 45 players left was T43,800. I had just T16,625.

Second hand after the break on BTN with JxTx my all-in was called by KxJx and I was out.

Three hours and fifty minutes. 44th of 99 players.

Comebacks and Failures

Wildhorse Spring 2012 Poker Round Up 2012 Event #2 No Limit Hold’em (10,000 chips)

It took me a little bit to figure out where my table was Saturday, after blowing out of one satellite early and then getting $100 out of a 3-way chop in a second. I was on one of the tables up on the stage at one end of the main tournament room, once again well out of sight lines to any tournament clocks.

In the first twenty minutes, I was dealt 9x9x UTG twice and raised only to encounter horrible flops and laid them down to post-flop action. Between that and other hands I entered—with reasonably playable cards—I was down 800 chips.

By forty-five minutes in, I’d managed to win a hand with AT and then lose some with the same hand. Then I lost more getting tricky with K3 and was down to 8,350.

If you get 7x7x on BB, what do you get for the flop when you call a raise? AxJx9x. No. Down to 7,900 on the hour.

Thought I might make a little back with Q9 and two queens on the flop. Unfortunately, a jack on the board was the only other hight card, so I lost to QxTx instead of chopping.

I saw a flop of 5x42 with K5 and called an all-in who just had Tx4x. He binked a ten on the turn and I was down to just 3,000 chips just eighty minutes into the game.

Immediately, I went into cornered wolverine mode and when I managed to connect to a flop on the next hand, I shoved and made it up to 3,700. I had some regrets folding Qx9x and seeing the flop put out JxTx8x a couple minutes later, but after losing the hand earlier, I was a little shy of what I’m calling “the mini-Butcher.”

Just before the first break, I was dealt QxQx on BB and shoved over a raise ahead of me. The raiser called and showed a suited ace, but lost the pot and I was left a little more breathing space with 6,700 chips.

One of the players from my table in Event #1 was seated on my immediate right at this table, and he was in bad shape. He shoved about fifteen minutes into the second session, and I called him with AxKx. His KxQx made a king-high straight on the flop, putting me in bad shape, but I caught a two-outer with a queen on the turn to make Broadway and zoom up to the stratospheric level of 8,250 chips.

Ten minutes later, I was back over the starting stack. About that time, another player from our table busted and another player mentioned that he was Tam Nguyen, the all-time money winner at the Wildhorse Poker Round-Up.

Two big pre-glop pots brewed up something good for me. I played KJ and made two pair against Ax[kx[][who][just][paired][the][king,][then][hit][an][ace][on][the][flop][with][my][own][AxKx calling an all-in of 4,700 with another caller. Forty-five minutes after the break, I was up to 22,500 and over the chip average.

I raised three calls at 150/30/25 to 1,200 with 8x8x on BTN, got a call, then bet again on the flop and took it down. Then I lost some chips but missed a bullet when the river of a hand where I had QT and a flush draw slowed down the action and revealed my opponent had a king-high flush. I was still over 20,000.

As we were getting to fours hours in, I min-raised with KxKx and a short-stacked player shoved. I called him and beat his 9x9x, putting me up to 24,800. Then I blew 6,000 and change calling with A8 after three diamonds showed on the flop. No more heats ever came. At 250 minutes, I was sitting on 21,575.

Then, when QxJx never went anywhere with a flop of AxKxJx, I was broken right back down below starting stack, to 9,975. Back to wolverine mode.

I waited until I picked up TxTx about 280 minutes in. There were pre-flop raises to 2,500 and I shoved, getting called by AxQx. That doubled me up to 20,650. Set-mining was getting costly, and I lost 2,400 in two hands calling wit 3x3x and 6x6x. Then I made the mistake of calling a 3,000 bet from BB with J8.

My own experience with over cards against TxTx fared about as well as my earlier opponents’ did. A short stack across the table shoved and I thought he had a low pair. I was right in that my QJ were both overs, but nothing came through for me and I was down to just 2,500 at the five hour mark. That was an M (or CSI, if you prefer) of 0.8.

The guy who’d doubled up against me and I went into a sort of war just before the dinner break. He shoved, and I called with Ax5x, making two pair against his 6x6x, then I called his all-in with just T7. He showed AxKx, but not only did I pair the seven, but I made a straight by the river, which cut him back considerably.

The glow from a third comeback wasn’t to last long, though. At least, not much longer than the dinner break. About ten minutes into the session, I shipped with AxQx over a 5,000 raise by a player who’d been playing a lot of suited connectors, much to the detriment of other stacks at the table. This time, he had KxKx. I hit a Qx, but never improved beyond that and was out.

Six hours and fifteen minutes. ~180th of 478 entries. $95,732 pot.

Wildhorse Spring 2012 Poker Round Up 2012 Event #3 No Limit Hold’em Shootout (10,000 chips)

I sat down at the table Sunday and tournament director K from The Final table was the dealer. While it’s always nice to see a familiar face, I have to point out that my track record in tournaments at TFT is not good. For whatever reason, my performance at other venues is far better. Not that I actually believe the dealers have anything to do with it, but if you were the kind of person who did take omens and portents seriously….

Once again, I tok the poison pot. In fact, I took the first two hands with ease. I lost some chips to post-flop bets, but I was holding my own ahead of the starting stack a quarter hour in when a woman who’d been at one of my tables in Event 1 was eliminated on a very loose all-in shove. I was sorry to see all her chips go across the table. To someone else.

I picked up a pot with JxJx, even with an ace on the flop, lost 500 with the Mutant Jack against AxQx with nothing on the board higher than a ten. Then I pushed with 8x8x from late position nd won heads-up against the SB with J96x on the flop. Half an hour in, I was at 10,450.

My first big mistake was calling a 3,000 post-flop raise with a Broadway draw needing a ten. Just after the first hour, I was down to 6,325.

I raised UTG with TxTx and got shoved on by a slightly larger stack in BTN. I called him and he flipped TxTx. Nobody flushed and we chopped the 300 chips in blinds.

I didn’t even bother to record what my last hand was. All I know is that it was before the break.

Eighty minutes. 228 entries.

Tomorrow’s the Limit Omaha Hi-Lo tournament. I hope I do better than I’ve been doing in cash games. In one this afternoon, I was down to 10% of my buy-in, then managed to get up to 160% in almost no time. I should have pushed back and taken my profit, but I almost felt like I owed it to stay in a while longer because I’d hardly been there for twenty minutes. I need to put those types of feelings aside, because I ended up felted after another near-bust, recovery, and bust. Like I told the players at the tournament, I’m a master of the short-stack comeback, but that’s not exactly something you want to have to be good at.

Fooling Around In Omaha

Portland Players Club Player of the Month High Hand Jackpot (7,000 chips)

I made four-of-a-kind with a hand in March at PPC, which got me an extra 1,000 bonus for this game. With the 3,000 pre-add-on, I was starting with 11,000 chips.

Picked up a free note-taking tool for my iPhone called MomentDiary which I came to like quite a lot during this tournament. The plan was to try it out at the Poker Pro Challenge but their ban on electronic devices kept me from using it. The great thing about it for poker notation is that it timestamps each entry. Haven’t found a way to batch delete a bunch of notes yet, though; I made more than 75 notes in tournaments on April Fool’s Day.

Won the first hand with Jx8x, hitting a straight on the flop. One of the other players said it was the “poison pot” and maybe it was (as you’ll see).

Almost immediately after that, I picked up KxKx but was smart enough to lay it down early on a board that was turning into a straight that left me just out of the mix. The winner made quad tens by the river, although it didn’t actually go to showdown.

I more than made up for that fold playing 45 and hitting a 7-high straight on the flop. I called and pushed on seat 9 and took several thousand chips from him at showdown when all he had was AxAx.

My next hand was 4x4x on BTN and I would have bet it but CO discarding accidentally flipped a four over and I just folded instead of hoping the case card would show on the flop to make me a set. That saved me a couple hundred at least; the board was far too high to make a pair of fours happy.

Fifteen minutes into the game, I was up about 4,000 chips. I raised to 225 with 63, then called a 600 re-raise. After getting an inside straight draw on the flop I bet another 1,000 but had to fold to an all-in bet down the line.

Another 4x4x, this time on BB. SB raised to 700 pre-flop and I saw it with two other callers. The flop was 7x7x3x and I bet 1,000 after SB checked. People were guessing my hand and nobody was even close. When one guy guessed that I had a pair of eights, I said that I “had eight.”

Twenty minutes had passed since my last chip count and I was still at 15,125.

I raised to 300 with JxTx and made my straight on the river to pick up some more chips to put me at 16,775.

Lost a little ground with QxTx after raising to 425 and seeing the board run out 5x57x5x9x. Had to fold to a bet.

The Butcher QT messed me over for another 800 when I couldn’t get a king on the board to make Broadway.

Holding JT, I re-raised from 1,200 to 2,500 after a 9JQ flop but had to fold to an all-in. The winner showed AxA and the original raiser had non heart KxKx. At only about 19% chance to win, my fold was the right thing to do (I was well ahead of the kings) but I sure would have liked to see the rest of the board.

I was knocked back to 12,350, but managed to make a bunch on the last hand before the break with JxTx and another flopped straight (queen-high). By the time the counting was over, I was up to 17,350.

Starting back up after the break, I saw the flop as BB with 7x3x and had an inside straight  draw again. I bet 700 and everyone folded.

I folded myself after calling 300 with A7 and seeing an all-spade flop.

About twenty minutes into the second segment of the tournament I was holding 21,800, including the 5,000 add-on from the break.

I put out another 1,100 on Ax8x then folded along with several others after a short stack shoved for another 6,000. He showed 6T after he raked in his chips.

Another JxTx on BTN and I called a raise to 900 along with BB. I had top two pair on a flop with two diamonds. He bet 1,500 and I shoved to take the pot down.

Raised to 800 with JxTx just a couple minutes later as HJ and had to fold to all-in from CO, then called 1,400 with KxTx and hit top two pair on the flop. I bet 2,500 and got my opponent to fold. He showed AxQx.

My stack was up to 22,650. I was heavily invested in jack-ten combinations in this game and made two pair on the turn just a couple minutes later on a board with a potential Broadway straight on it. Pushing all-in on a 6,000 post-turn bet cost me over 16,000 when the other guy had the straight and I failed to hit a full house on the river. Down to 6,425.

Ten minutes later I pushed all-in with JxTx again after pairing the top card on the flop, ran into AxAx and didn’t improve.

Two hours and fifteen minutes. -100% ROI. 28th of 41 entries.

Portland Players Club Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo (10,000 chips)

I don’t get to play nearly enough Omaha tournaments, and I’m a real sucker for the split-pot game. It’s definitely my preferred game over high-only. I’ve had some success with it in live limit cash games and had made the final table in a couple tournaments, but never managed to cash before this game. All I can say is it’s hard to take notes on.

Got a 1,000 chip bonus for this game for whatever reason, so I was starting with 11,000 on the table.

About ten minutes in, I played AxJx8x5x and made a Broadway straight on the turn with a heart flush draw on the board. A third heart came on the river, there was no low, and I ended up splitting the high with another player holding Broadway. No gain and a little loss from blinds; I was at 10,925 at fifteen minutes.

My 5x6x7x8x wrap completed an eight-high straight in a huge pot with two larger stacks all in over me. I took the high by myself, the main and side pot lows got quartered, and there was five minutes of bickering over what amounted to a 300 chip second side pot. At the half-hour mark, I was holding 22,350.

I called a raise to 1,100 pre-flop with Q75A, paired the five on the flop and called a bet of 1,025, then folded in the face of another 4-way all-in. Quad eights took the whole shebang.

I lost a big hand I didn’t manage to record, and was cut in half to 11,575 near the end of the first hour of play.

Then came the hand that changed everything. AK25 looked pretty good on the T73 flop and by the time 4 and 9 were also on the board, I had the nut flush for the high hand and a part of the low. With several players all-in (as usual) my stack jumped up to 50,325.

Even with the big stack, I added on for another 5,000 chips, one of the best decisions I made in this game, as you’ll see.

Just after the break, a Qx6x in my hand made me 5,000 when I improved a full house on a QxQx2x2x6x board. I lost a little ground on a straight draw, but was still at 58,100 one hundred minutes in.

The two largest stacks in the tournament were me and another player at my table, and we got into it with both tables five-handed. He pushed hard with a straight and full house draw but I hit quad nines and knocked him out, putting my stack up to 108,400 and more than a third of the chips in play.

Knocked out another player with Ax2x4x5x by making two pair for the high and scooping the low, then took a hand from PPC regular T with 5x5xAxKx, putting me up to 118,400.

By break 2, I’d hit 140,000.

A big pot with 2x2xJxQx made a set to grab the high and put me up to 160,500 as we approached three-hours of play. Then things got grim.

In less than ten minutes, I missed two draws for a Broadway straight and a flush that cost me a total of 22,500. Then I made a set of queens on a flop and called an all-in from B, who had KxQx and two pair. Another Kx on the turn made full houses for both of us but I was on the losing side of that one and was back down to  98,500 as we actually hit three hours.

Ten minutes later I was still bleeding chips and down to 74,500. I managed to take one hand and bet people off my flush, then lost with two pair against a full house and didn’t hit my low. I hit the same straight as a another player and chopped a pot that would have been nice to take in toto, then flopped another straight and was all-in but was outdrawn by a flush that took all but 6,000 of my chips. It was just twenty-five minutes since I’d had 58% of the chips in play and I was down to one big blind. If I had skipped buying the add-on at the first break, I’d probably have busted out already—at best I would have only had 1,000 chips.

The next ten minutes were a blur. I caught some amazing cards, including a couple of high pairs and and managed to double up at least three times. In eight minutes, I was back up to 84,000 chips, then I knocked out B short of the money and hit the last break with 102,000.

Not long after the break was over, we managed to get it down to heads-up. I was back on top with about a 40,000 chip advantage but we chopped the top two positions evenly and called the game at four hours.

Four hours. +272% ROI. Chopped 2 ways with 15 entries.

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.

He’s a Caller!

Encore Club $250 Freeroll

Wandered down for the freeroll since I’d already paid the door fee when I picked up my ticket for the $25K game. Don’t remember where I went wrong.

Two hours and thirty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 24th of 65 players.

Encore Club Freezeout

The 2pm freezeout game was already forty minutes in when I busted out of the freeroll, but I got into it anyway and managed to get through most of the fild. I was the short stack as it got short-handed and I called with two overs on my last hand. As usual, if I’d waited, I might have made more money, because the next player out was right behind me.

Three hours. +112% ROI. 4th of 24 players.

Encore Club $25,000 Guarantee

It was really a rogue’s gallery at my table. I’d taken a break to go home and grab something to eat after the 2pm game, so I missed the first couple of hands. DV from my home game was improbably seated at the same table. DTwho’d been at my first $10K final table–was a couple seats on my left. Regular winner JL was on my immediate right. The guy who’d taken first in the Tournament of Champions where I came in second, DM, was sitting on DV‘s right. And directly across the table from me in seat 1 was Angry Old Tattooed Guy, who’d been sooo much fun to play with at Final Table’s Santa Bounty game.

Things got off to a phenomenal start within the first orbit. I’d won a couple of small pots already when I picked up QxQx. I raised from late-middle position, DT re-raised and I eventually called an all-in. He just had 9x9x and my queens held through the river, breaking him down to practically nothing (he’d picked up a pot or two himself). Meanwhile, I had more than doubled my starting stack. DT kept repeating “You got my number” for a couple of minutes. After he eventually busted out, he kept coming back to check on his chips, which was both funny and a little distracting.

I wasn’t able to make much traction with the big stack, though. I got decent if not premium hands, but every pot I entered with a call or raise, got picked off, mostly by DM, either with a large-re-raise or a large bet after a flop that he seemed to have a good feel hadn’t connected. He seemed particularly adept at that. My stack dwindled back down to starting stack and below before the break.

Finally, I decided to call him on it. I bet large with AxQx pre-flop and we went to the river before he pushed all-in. I hadn’t connected but I called and he put his cards on the table face-down. He was busted to less than 4,000 chips. AOTG picked this point in the game to go ballistic, berating DM for trying to bluff me, hoarsely yelling “You know he’s a caller!” across the table. I should have kept my mouth shut, but I could hardly resist the urge to (as PPC reg DL puts it “tap the fish tank”) and explained that DM had been picking off raises all through the game and that I’d figured it was time to test him. AOTG would have none of it (surprise!) and just talked over me. I could swear I heard JL on my right doing something like “la-la-la” with his headphones on.

Not too long after that, I pushed over 50,000 chips (about two times the average) by bluffing the heck out of 2x2x on a 9xAx9x flop.

My final hand was a doozy. I had AT and re-raised pre-flop to 10,000. A player on my left with a larger stack went all-in and got a call from a slightly smaller stack on my right. There was something like 120,000 chips in the middle, it was going to cost me 40,000 and the tournament to call, so I did. Both of the other players flipped over KxKx. I was actually in better shape than if I was up against just one pair of kings or even two different pocket pairs. A 1 in 3 chance to win it all. It just didn’t happen.

My name is Poker Mutant. I’m a caller.

Three hours and twenty minutes. -100% ROI. 107th of 150 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.