The Brick

Mostly red across the board for the past couple days as I find myself falling into the bad habit of thinking people are bluffing more often than they actually are.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Downhill all the way for twenty minutes. Lots of aces in my hands (4 out of 36) but nothing connected. Biggest loss was with A8 and an eight-high open-ended straight draw on the flop. Didn’t make it, though, and I was out in 1,515th of 2,080.

Full Tilt $4,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

Started off very well here. Joined a few minutes into the game so my first hand was in the big blind (15/30) with a normally unplayable K7. There were only seven players at the table at the time. There were two limpers and I let it run. I hit middle pair with Q67 and decided to play with it a bit so I bet 45. One of the limpers folded and the other raised to 150, which I called. Another 6 on the river and I decided I needed to try to end it so I bet 120 but I got a call from the other side. The river was 2. I checked to see what he had and he bet 540. A 6x beat but I figured it was worth a look so I plopped down a third of my stack to see 45 with busted flush and open-ended straight draws. So that was a nice first hand.

Just a few hands later I picked up KQ in the cutoff. I limped in, as did the button and small blind, and there were four to the flop. 82Q didn’t have a lot of possibilities (apart from a flush draw); when action got to me I bet 90 on my queens, getting calls from the button and big blind. I made two pair with K on the turn, which was a good thing. My bet this time was 400 and I got an all-in call from the button that folded the big blind. I had it covered by 1K, and it was a bounty tournament, after all, so I called. The button had had me until the king showed up, with 8Q; now the smaller of two pairs. Got a bounty and was up to 4,800 chips at the start of hand 5.

The last hand was a whopper. I had A3 in the big blind and was heads-up pre-flop with the biggest stack at the table, with about 9K vs. my 4,900. I got two pair on a 7A3 flop. Not much more than you could ask for there, eh? The big stack bets 120, and I figure he’s got some sort of ace, but I’ve got AxKx beat. I raise him to 510 and he calls. Now things look a little diceier because the turn is K. I’ve still got most ace combinations beat, but there is a massive flush draw on the board. I check. Big stack bets out 1,140 after I check. This is the point where I should tell myself: “You still have 4,355 chips, you’ve only got 570 in the pot. Just stay in the tournament.” I call instead. Q on the turn.

I check again and the big stack shoves in, essentially doubling the pot, since the pot is just a little larger than my stack. I call. Then he turns over 33, a hand I wasn’t even thinking of and which had me walloped from the turn.

Gone in a little over half an hour. 1,725th place out of 1,770 players.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Off to a good start with a double-up via QJ giving me a higher straight on hand four. Then the Mutant Jack AJ cut me in half when AQ and I both double-paired—him on the turn and me, uselessly, on the river. Two hands later I had QA and ran into AK, and lost another 1,500 chips.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

Overplayed a TT hand. Our table had six seated at the 120/240 level and hijack raised my small blind to 650. I re-raised to 1,060 and got a call. Then a K hit on the flop and I checked, only to be met with a 720 bet. Raised all-in hoping he just had an ace. No such luck: K7 and he even double-paired on the river. My TT on the next hand didn’t do any better and I was out in 11th.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Popped up on the first hand with 99, then again with an almost identical 99 an hour into the match. Pocket JJ were the harbinger of doom for this game, though, with a Q in the hole connecting with the QA of another player. I managed to crawl up from 400 to 1,900 before pocket QQ knocked me back down to less than 150 and the door. 917 of 2,800.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

The first 20 hands were good, with my own QQ filling a king-high straight and doubling me to 4,600. Hung around there for a little bit then stupidcalled someone with a flush and lost over 3,000 chips.

Full Tilt $18,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

Over on the fourth hand with TT. There was a T on the flop but K on the river gave KK a better set. Still,

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

My penchant for pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory strikes once again. I double up to 3,300 on hand five with KK, putting me in the top position in the tournament. I stay there for about 20 minutes as eliminations become less frequent, then lose almost 1,000 in four consecutive hands just to see the flop with decent cards that just don’t pan out. I try to get fancy with 97 in the 150/300 big blind when the button raises all-in to 675 and the small blind calls. I go along for the ride and the board gives me a gutshot straight draw: K65. I shouldn’t call the 900 bet of the big blind and we both check our way through the turn (2) and river (5). Button had middle pair on the flop: A6. I’m out on the next hand with QT and an open-ended straight draw on the flop. 10th place gets me another chance at Step 1.

Full Tilt $4,500 KO Guarantee (1,500 chips)

My eighth hand K8 makes top pair on the flop and another player and I go to the mats only to have him outkick me with K9.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Made it up to 6,600 by twenty minutes in and more or less glided into the Step 2 ticket.

Encore Club (5,000 chips)

Only eleven players in the game makes my table five-handed and play is slow and methodical, with only one rebuy, yet there’s a steady bleeding of chips in the direction of just a couple of the players. I manage to take a couple of pots but I’m down a bit when we consolidate to a ten-player table. After that action heats up and I’m eliminated 9th of 11.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Corkscrewed in after just seven minutes.

Full Tilt The Ferguson (1,500 chips)

Ditto.

Full Tilt Step 2 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

Had my last chips taken by a 5x7x.

Full Tilt miniFTOPS Event #20 $125,000 Guarantee Rush (4,000 chips)

Could this have gone any worse? Sixth hand in I get AK. The flop is 4QA and I’m head-up. I bet 150 after the flop and get raised to 320, which I call. 8 shows up on the turn, so I’ve got an ace pair with a high kicker and the nut flush draw. The other player bets 860 and I idiotically go all-in for 3,600. He calls, shows QA for two pair, a 2 shows on the river and I’m down to 30 chips which are gone the next hand.

Full Tilt $18,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

Got off to an early start—although I joined the game half an hour in—with 87 in the big blind. Three limpers. The flop’s good for both straight and flush possibilities: T29 and I check to see what the mood is. Hijack—with more than 10K in his stack—bets 200 and I’m the only caller. The turn makes my flush with Q and I bet 200, getting a raise to 900. I go all-in for 1,250 total and get a call. He shows 8J for a straight but he’s beat. I pick up another 1,600 just five hands down the road.

My stack hovers around 5K for twenty minutes or so until my AQ runs into a set of sixes and I’m down to 1,500. I double up then next hand beating 4x4x by pairing the smaller part of my A5 but lose the whole thing with KA on the next hand to 53 and a set of fives and TT splitting portions of my stack.

Diamonds Are Forever

Cake Irish Open Quarter-Final Satellite (1,000 chips)

I guess I still have my heart set on going to Dublin in April. There are so few people playing on Cake that, comparatively, it’s actually harder to make it the next level of play in these contests. A lot of the Quarter-Final events (eight a day) get cancelled for lack of players, and even some of the ones that run don’t award tickets to the Semis, because there’s no guarantee. So I entered this Q-F satellite to see if I could maximize my investment.

AK about ten minutes in put me over 2,600 when I called a short-stack all-in on a 44J flop and caught A on the turn to beat jacks-up. My own pocket pair of JJ almost felted me seven hands later, when I called another all-in and he got his second ace on the flop.

I managed to work my way back up with hands like AQ and 7A and 99. A little over an hour into the game I’d made it to the 4,500 chip mark, just as the final table was consolidated. A lay-down with TA on a Broadway draw that went as far as the turn turned annoying when the other guy flashed his unpaired 9K. I went out on a T9 hand with an unfilled open-ended straight and four-flush against an ace-high caller. Got sixth place and a sub-min cash leftover prize for 100 minutes of play. ROI of -27%.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Did my usual brief submarining in this event, skimming just below the starting stack while I tested for the right opportunity and hoping that it actually showed up. Eight minutes in, I picked up JT. I was down to 1,070 after losing blinds and bets on a couple of suited QxKx hands. Action folded to me in the hijack and I min-raised to 60. The button—big stack at the table with more than 3,500 chips—raised to 150. The big blind called, as did I. I had top pair on the T36 flop and bet 300  after a check from the big blind. Button raised to 615 and I called, leaving 300 back. The blind got out of the way. I checked after a Q on the turn and the button put me all-in to call. I didn’t figure the queen made much of a difference to his hand and called. I double-paired with J on the river and the button turned over 99, behind from the flop.

A lucky AA just four hands later more than doubled me up to more than 5K when I took out two players with  JJ and QA. Three hands after that a tentative excursion with A2 made trips on the QAA flop and both other players to the flop having queens kept them on the line through the river.

I took some hits that brought me down from more than 3K fro 6,500, then started building again. An AJ Mutant Jack at the 40-minute mark netted me 4,400 and put me over 10K for the first time, but only by making me sweat for the river A to beat the pocket QQ of the all-in I called.

Just before the first break, a relatively innocuous-looking K6 ended up in my hand in the cutoff position. Blinds were 80/160. The hijack, with called. I called, and everyone behind me limped in, too. The flop was 42K and I had top pair as well as a 2nd nut flush draw (and potential straight flush). The blinds and hijack checked and I made a small bet of 240. Button folded, small blind called, and everyone else got out of the way. The 7 hits on the turn. There’s 1,300 in the pot. I can’t make a straight flush any more but with me holding the 6. the only way he can is if he’s got A5—and if he’s got the ace and can make any flush he beats me. He can’t have a full house yet. His stack is 3,500, I’ve got him covered by almost 10K. He checks and I feign weakness with a bet of 240. He calls. Maybe he’s got a single club and he’s hoping for a fourth on the board. Maybe he thinks the same of me. The T shows on the river. There’s no chance of a full house. He has to have two clubs with an ace to beat me. He bets 650 and I raise to put him all-in. He has a flush but it’s J5 and I’m sitting just under 18K while the break is on.

The graph shows a little blip after things start back up when I take a couple of hits. A call against a 4K stack goes awry when he has pocket KK and I only have JJ in mine and four to a straight on the board. Losing another 1,500 on the next hand with AJ busts me down to 11K, but the third monster in a row—AK—almost doubles me up when I call two all-ins holding AJ and 99 then get a KQK flop that stays good through the river.

The most notable event of this match was a mechanical mistake on my part. The game had been going for about 300 hands, we were 100 minutes in (it’s Rush poker). The blinds were 200/400/50 and I was on the button with J9 and 39K in chips, 3rd at the table in stack size. UTG+3 limped, the hijack (#2 stack with 49K) raised to 1,600. I called, thinking it might be a largish pot and I might be able to take it if the cards came out in the middle ranks. The big blind (13K, the smallest at the table) called and UTG+3 (25K) was along for the ride. The flop was TQ5 which didn’t do much for my hearts but did give me an open-ended straight draw. There were two checks and the big stack bet 4K. I called, along with the blind and UTG+3 folded. Another spade dropped on the turn: 5, pairing the board, as well. The small-stacked big blind went all-in, getting a call from the big stack. I did not want to call a bet for a third of my stack here, even with 5,600 already in the pot. Potential flush on the board, full house possibilities—heck, just a 5x had me beat—but I didn’t pay close enough attention to my cursor and—honest— called instead of folding. 7 showed up on the river, the short stack had my rank but in diamonds (J9, and the big stack had my flush with a bigger card 6Q that made top pair on the board and took a profit of 32K.

After that I struggled along for another 100 hands, making some ground and then losing it, briefly making it over 30K again but having trouble keeping ahead of the blinds. My last hand was 140 minutes into the game. I was the short stack in the big blind at 500/1,000/125, with 25K in chips. My cards were another A2. UTG+3 min-raised, hijack called, I called, and the big blind folded. The flop was 5QJ, not particularly good for me but I put in a bet of 1,500 to test the waters and got called by both other players. Another diamond (5) on the turn told me to push but I should have taken another look at the board before I did that because I still would have had ten big blinds deep in the tournament. I bet 2,000 and was called by UTG+3, but got a raise to 12,000 from the hijack. I called, along with UTG+3. I thought I was so special when the 3 showed up on the river and went all-in for 9,335. UTG+3 got out of the way with 40K but the hijack showed his JJ for a full house and took in 42K.

34th place out of 1,219 entries. ROI of 232%. Top prize in the tournament was about 72 times what I made.

Full Tilt MiniFTOPS Event #1 (5,000 chips)

I took the profit I made from the Rush tournament and put it into the first event of the series.

Play went slowly for me for over an hour. I’d dropped almost 2,000 chips, almost steadily, until about the 90th hand. My best hand—AQ—met absolutely no resistance and got me 60 chips of blinds; nothing else I had made more than a couple hundred. I was watching pros bust out right and left; WSOP Main Event 3rd-place finisher Joseph Cheong was gone before I was.

Finally, I managed to double up by doing something stupid. I had AQ and 750 in the 1,950 pot heads-up on a flop of J35. My opponent checked, I bet 220, and he went all-in with a larger stack than mine. I called with 2,220 and crossed my fingers and Q shoed on the turn, with T on the river. He turned over JK. No flush. I was up to 6,390. I lost a bit when I was bluffed off QQ with a board holding an ace, a pair of 8s and three spades. To rub it in, the guy showed a garbage JQ. He busted out thirteen hands later, though.

I had a little lull before I started building back up, but I was nowhere near the chip average. Then my flushing problem again reared its ugly head. I called a min-raise to 400 from the button with 9A. Both the blinds were in, as well as UTG+2, who’d made the raise. The flop was 677 and UTG+2 bet 1,000. I called. I probably should have raised but I doubt that would have done anything for me except lose me more money. The blinds folded and T hit the turn. I had a gut-shot straight draw to go with my nut flush draw. He bet another 2,000 and I had to call. But it was not to be. 6 on the river. He showed JJ—even a river ace would have beaten him—and I was down to 4K.

I turned diamonds into chips with JT about ten minutes later, though. I had about 3,500 in the cutoff at 120/24/25 and called a raise to 480 from UTG+2. A call from the big blind meant there were three of us to the flop. I had a gut-shot straight draw with 48Q and decided to take a stab at it with a 500 bet when both players ahead of me checked. Only UTG+2 called. The turn was 2 and I just checked the action through to the river, which was J. UTG+2 had about 1,500 more than me and bet out nearly half his stack with 1,800. I raised all-in to 2,500, not believing he had the queen. Then he folded and I was up over 7K again.

That was brief, as I dipped down below the starting stack again before recovering to almost 9K with K6 (more diamonds!) It was an incredibly ugly hand. I called the 280 big blind (holding 5,300 behind) from UTG+2. The button raised to 840, with another 4,400. The large stack (21K) at the table in the big blind called the raise, and when I did the same there were three to a flop of 4TK. The big stack checked and I opened with 750 to see if that would protect my pair. It did, but only marginally. After the button called the big stack folded, which probably saved me on this one.

With 2 on the turn, the hand was decidedly unfriendly to my diamonds, but I put out a bet of 560 into the pot of 4,385 and got a call. The 5 hit the river. I decided to see what the button would do and checked. Check. He had QJ for an open-ended straight draw but no spade and my kings were best.

It was a decidedly un-premium diamond hand just four deals later that got me to my peak in the tournament. I had Q2 in the small blind with three limpers behind me and over 8K in chips, so I put in another 140 chips. The big blind checked and five players got to the 384 flop. I had third nut flush draw in first position to act, so I bet 420. Only the big blind and hijack called. The K gave me the second nut flush. The A was still out there potentially, so I only opened with 560. It was down to me and the hijack. T on the river. No four of a kind or full house possibilities. The only thing that could beat me was a hand with two diamonds including the ace. I made another 560 bet. The hijack raised to 2,240 and I called, figuring I had another 5K if he had the better flush. He had the A but his second card was only a J, so I was up to 13.5K.

It wasn’t for long, though. Just seven minutes later I was dealt AK in the small blind. UTG+1 raised to 777 and there were four callers, including the hijack and both us blinds.

The flop was 535. I should have taken the story of the earlier A to heart and left it alone—since I had no connection to the cards on the board—but instead I opened with a 510 bet. UTG+1 dropped out but three of us saw the 4 on the turn. A gut-shot straight draw!

I really need to pay more attention to pairs on the board.

I checked, to be sneaky. The big blind checked. Hijack bet 1,020 which only I called. I made a pair with the K on the river. I bet about 10% of the 6,903 pot. Then the hijack went all in for far more than I had. He was just bluffing, right? I called.

33 in his hand. Full house since the flop. If only I’d had 53 instead.

142 minutes of play, made it to 12,140th place in a field of 27,539 (top 45th percentile). Not a stellar showing but I outlasted more than half the field.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Doubled up at the five-minute mark withKA. Then I got only minimal return when a larger stack shoved all-in on the turn and was called by me and a start-size stack. I had KQ with the board showing QK22 for two pair; the big stack had KA for just kings and twos; the small stack had 7A for a flush draw. If there had to be a diamond, I wanted it to be the queen; I didn’t want an ace to counterfeit my queens; I could have lived with another two to chop. But the river was the 4. The small stack tripled up to 4,300 and I made a profit of 150 chips.

The Mutant Jack failed me a little while later. AJ in the small blind with 2,600 chips, #2 stack at the table. Min-raise to 80 from UTG+2, I re-raise to 200, big blind calls, and UTG+2 is in. The flop’s 4TJ. I bet 600, everyone falls into my trap and calls. T on the turn. I have two pair with top kicker. I’m all-in. Big blind calls but he’s about 1,300 short. UTG+2 folds. QK for an open-ended straight draw. River’s 9. Well, I still have 1,275. At least, I do until QA slams into AA and drops me below 300. I battle back up over 1,000 before 88 cuts me down in the 21st minute. 357th place out of 1,137 entrants.

Cake Poker Roma 6-Max

Played some short-handed cash game to kill some time. Killed 80¢ faster than I killed time.

Full Tilt Satellite to MiniFTOPS #2 (300 chips)

Didn’t I say something about not playing Super Turbo tournaments? Shouldn’t that go double (at least) for Omaha Hi/Lo Super Turbo satellites? I wanted to see if I could get in to the $50K Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo tournament without paying the full entry fee—not having played anywhere near as much Omaha as Hold’em—and figured this would be a chance to see how I fared.

I did well almost right off the bat. On the third hand I was on the small blind and got J64T. There were four limpers (including myself) and the big blind checked. The flop came out 7Q8 leaving me needing 9x for a queen-high straight. There were four checks and a bet of 150—half everyone’s stack— from UTG+3. I called and two other players were in, too. A T on the turn cinched it up for me. I went all-in. UTG called, having a little bit over my stack.  UTG+1 re-raised all-in, also having me covered, followed by an all-in call by UTG+3 and a call from UTG. The river was 9.

There was 1,142 in the main pot with a side pot of 66. My queen-high straight was the best hand and I got the main pot but the side pot went to UTG, with 6396 for a ten-high straight. No low hand.

I lost most of it in short order. AK5T in my hand. There’s a 4 and a 3 on the board by the turn and I’m hoping for a deuce on the river. But someone else makes it and takes both high and low pots and I’m back down to starting stack with the blinds at 20/40.

Two pair on the flop knocks me down to 17 chips but I manage to triple that up with a different two pair the next hand. It all goes away then. 81st out of 155.

Puffmammy Tournament 20 (1,500 chips)

What a mess. I was worried that if I missed the game tonight I’d fall too far behind D to realistically catch up. The good news is that he only gained two points on me. The bad news is that I could have skipped the game to see Stan Ridgway, lost four instead of two points and been three buy-ins and an add-on richer.

Two ugly points about the night. I was all in after the flop for, I think, the second time of the night. Playing against W, who’s typically pretty loose. I had AxQx and W flips Ax2x There’s an ace on the board. Everything goes fine until the river when another two shows up and I’m re-buying.

Then, just before the end of the re-buy period, I’ve got most of my stack in the pot. I can’t re-buy again but there’s an add-on available at the break coming up. I started the hand with AxTx and flopped KxQx but nothing showed on the turn and there are two large stacks all-in in front of me. If I don’t catch my card, I’m out first for the night. If I fold, I’ve got a paltry stack that I can almost double with the 500 chips. I fold and the Jx shows on the river. G wins the hand with a king-high straight and I kick myself for the rest of the night as my little chips dwindle away. No recovery this night.

Made it to see Stan, though.

February Wrapped Up

Full Tilt $12,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

The buy-in for this tournament was low, and I’m trying to get a strategy worked out for the Rush tournaments, so I entered this even though I tend to avoid the rebuy games. Three of the players at the table double-stacked themselves before the first hand began, but the size of the guarantee was good. My play wasn’t, though. Hand nine and I had KT. UTG raises to 60 and I call and we’re heads-up. The flop gives me two pair: 2K2. UTG bets 165, I pop him to 660 and he three-bets to 8K. I only have 720 left. He could have the other two kings, he could have a one of the other twos or he could have the two aces he shows when I call.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

This game doesn’t have either the lows or the highs of the previous Midnight Madness. Sure, I dip down below 1,000 chips a couple of times in the early levels, but nothing catches fire and by the time I pick up KA in the big blind at 150/300/25, I’ve dropped from 8,300 to 2,650 in twenty hands. The small blind shoves and puts me all-in to call, which I do. He’s got JQ and pairs the queen on the turn. 120 minutes and I go out in 645th place of 3,707.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

This month’s Irish Open Finals snuck up on me. I had intended to try to qualify in one of the weekly Semi-Finals earlier in the month so that I wouldn’t be playing the Semi the same day as the Final, since it looks like the ticket winners have to join after the match has begun. Anyway, this wasn’t a game that would qualify me for anything. I played for 50 minutes and briefly broke 3,000 chips, finishing 14th of 18.

Full Tilt $19,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

This could have gone well but I got overconfident with pocket TT after nearly quadrupling my stack over 20 minutes. I was in the small blind at 60/120 and UTG raised to 480. I called and was heads-up, relatively confident with a flop of 878.  I shouldn’t have been, though. I bet 1,000 and got a call. J came on the turn, giving me a flush draw and a potential straight flush. I checked and UTG bet it all, putting me all in if I called. Of course I did. Unfortunately, he had T8 for a set of eights from the flop. He had one of the tens I needed (which would give him a full house but me a better full house). The river was 7, giving him an unnecessary improvement to a full house. I was out 377th of 557.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Another game that goes nowhere but down. Out in 12th of 15 players.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Is my heart in these? 11th place of 12 players.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Something screws up on my computer at the last minute and I can’t get out of this match before it begins. Only six players sign up and there’s no semi-final ticket awarded, just cash distribution. Another pair of tens is my final hand.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Semi-Final (3,000 chips)

I tote up and enter the Semi directly. Things get off to a decent beginning and by the first break I’m up to 5,200, actually in the prize ticket zone. Not great but not under the starting stack. Another hour and I have slipped below that number, to 2,500 chips. Not where you want to be after two hours of play.

There are seven players at my table. There’s a stack of 14K to my right, three stacks between 9K and 11K, and a couple of about 5K. I’ve actually made it to the last two tables out of 45 players (Cake runs 10-player tables). There are eight tickets being awarded to the Final, which just started. Blinds are 150/300/30 and I raise to 600 with 33. One of the 5K stacks goes all-in. I call and he’s got KK. A 3 is the first card on the flop, the rest of the cards go 8J35. He’s got a king-high flush but I’ve got quad threes. My Expected Value graph goes crashing through the floor but I more than double my anemic stack. I’m still at barely above half the chip average.

My last hand in the match is a better starter but it isn’t nearly as lucky. I’m heads-up with another player after calling his 750 raise from the small blind in the same level as the above hand. I’ve got JQ on a board of K3T for a straight draw. I bet 900 after the flop and get a raise that puts me all-in. Or I can stay with the 4K I’ve got behind. I call. He’s got AK. An 8 and 7 appear but no ace or nine. Just over two hours, 15th place out of 45 players.

Cake Daily $700 Guarantee Turbo (4,000 chips)

This is almost a classic good trend for a tournament. I probed for a chance to build my stack through the first half hour, losing blinds and one small showdown. I doubled up to 5,800 with a AJ Mutant Jack, then won another 2,900 with JQ three hands later.

An hour into the match I had over 15K, after a pocket 88 made a set on the flop then a back door full house that won me almost 7K. A dozen hands more and I was over 23K. At the ninety-minute mark I was over 32K. I almost went out going all-in with 28K in chips (with blinds at 3,000/6,000/300) and QA against JJ pre-flop; luckily the river card was Q.

I wasn’t so lucky a few minutes later when I put AK up against A6. I was in the big blind at 2,000/4,000/400, there was a raise from the cutoff to 10,600, and I re-raised to 17,200, which was called. The 276 flop hit the six and he went all-in, having me covered by 20K or so. I called and lost. 123 minutes, 16th place of 174 players, ROI 90%.

It all went south on Hand 133.

Cake $1,000 Guarantee Turbo 6-Max (3,000 chips)

I managed to build well in the first hour of this match but hit a rough patch and lost three big hands that whittled my stack from 14K to 5K. Then I had the bad luck to think that my AT was the strongest hand of the two players who went to a T8K flop only to find that it was actually the guy with the other two tens in his hand. 64th of 211 players.

Paired Off

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Another tale of amazing recovery thwarted!

You can see from the graph that every major loss in the match came from me holding pocket pairs (although my hand was not just pocket pairs in each instance).

I’d had the usual mixed luck in the early levels of the game. My stack had gone down to just over 1,000 chips then back up and I was at 2,245 and in the big blind at 40/80 when I got K7. There were eight players at the table and if the only action hadn’t been a min-raise from the small blind I might not have played that combo, but I called to see the flop, figuring the small blind had an ace. I got a great flop of AT6 and the small blind bet out 160. I raised to 320 and he went all-in for a total of 890. I had it covered, with 1,275 over, so I called. He flipped over A6 for a possible full house but no ace or six showed.

Three hands later, T9 came into my hand in the cutoff, at 50/100. Hijack raised to 275 and I called. The button called and the blinds folded. Full house on the flop: 99T. Hijack checked and I led out with a tentative-looking 150. Button went all-in for 1,900, so he could have the other two tens. Hijack raised enough to put me all-in if I called, which I most certainly did. There was just about 9,000 in the pot. The button was on a complete bluff with 32. The hijack had a legitimate—but superfluous—diamond flush draw with A5. He got his K on the river but I got the chips.

I hit a plateau at that point, not gaining or losing more than 1,000 chips at a time for nearly fifty minutes. I had decent hands but wasn’t able to capitalize on them at all. Then I picked up KK at the 120/240/25 level in UTG+1. I raised to 600 after UTG folded, got an all-in re-raise to 1,830 from UTG+2, and called after everyone folded. He had AQ, I was in relatively good shape. At least until the ATJ on the flop. Then I was hoping for another queen to show up but instead he got the A. No problem. Just a little setback.

My next hand was another pocket pair: JJ. I was on the big blind because a player had been removed for table balancing. UTG+2 with a short stack went all-in for 1,990 and got a call from the cutoff. I four-bet to 4,200 with 2,185 behind and then the cutoff went all-in for a total of 6,130. I made a rash decision and called, with 255 left. The short stack only had 99 but cutoff had AA. The board didn’t match anyone, and the aces took it.

That was Hand 126, by the way.

After the ante and the small blind on the next hand, I had 110 chips. The best thing that could be said about my T3 hand was that it was suited. The cutoff raised to 440. I went all-in, expecting elimination. Big blind called.

The flop was 8T2. Not only did I have top pair, I had a flush draw! 6 came around the turn, then a T dropped into the river slot. I had top set, at least. Cutoff revealed AJ, big blind came up with 3Q. I was suddenly back up to 865 chips.

I let 42 and my 25 chip ante go on the next hand. I knew that with barely more than 3BB I had to take a stab soon, though and on the next hand I got a sort of anemic ace that I might ignore under most circumstances: A8. UTG+2 was shorter than me and went all-in to 370. I went all-in for 815. Everyone else folded and left it to the small stacks. He flipped over 55, but the board gave me A on the flop, then added 8 and A on the turn and river for a full house. That put me up to 1,770.

K6 turned up a little later, after I’d let the antes eat at me for a bit and I was in the big blind again. The button raised all-in after all action had folded to him. He had both of us in the blinds covered and I got the impression that he was trying to steal. I didn’t have the best of hands but I figured he didn’t, either, and I needed to move up. The small blind folded but I called. He had K8. OK, so maybe my instincts weren’t perfect.

The flop was a scary 549. But 2Q came on the turn and river, giving me my flush and 3,535 chips. That’s why The Grid rates K6s as Playable and K8o as No Go in a 9-player game.

Another half-hour wrestling around the 4,000-5,000 range ensued, with blinds and antes wearing my stack back down to about 3,500 when I got TQ as UTG+1. Blinds were 250/500/50, so I only had a limited amount of time left and if I lost another 750 to the blinds in a couple more hands I’d be in pretty bad shape. I raised to 1,000 after UTG folded. The only caller was the button, with a stack about three time the size of mine. I got a 34T flop and pushed my top pair all-in for 2,485. The button called and showed middle pair: 54. We both made a full house, with 33 on the turn and river, but I had the better of the two and was over 8,100 chips, where I’d been 90 minutes earlier.

A couple of small wins put me up to 10,000, then another unlikely off-suit combo got me a big bump. Blinds were 300/600/75. UTG+1 raised to 1,200 and action folded to my AT. I called and everyone else folded, so it was heads-up. The flop was 725. It seemed unlikely that he’d raised with even 46s, so when he bet out 2,600 I made another gamble and went all-in for 8,620. He called and showed 9A. If I could avoid a suck-out, I’d be in great shape. Nothing came, another player was gone, and I took a pot of 20,935 (I’d have had 140 left if I’d lost).

My peak was 27,900 after picking up nearly 6K with  85 in the big blind (400/800/100) and making middle pair on the flop. Then came the plunge.

I was on the button with 88. Usually, I try to play these cautiously, per The Grid. But for some reason, when UTG+2 went all-in with 9,323 chips I called, and we were heads-up. The flop made me look like a genius: 8JJ. I saw the hearts first and though it was over before I realized I had a full house. Then a 7 on the turn. Still good for me. Then 7, giving him a full house with a back door. Hey, I still had 18K, right?

Of course, at 500/1,000/125, 18K isn’t so much and ten minutes later I was down to less than14K when I got 66. Not in my usual wheelhouse, as they say, but about the best I’d seen for a while (although the K7 I’d had five hands earlier was better according to The Grid). There was a limper in UPG+2, the flop was 57T,  and I made a pot-sized bet of 3,625 which got a call. The turn was 3. I checked and there was bet of 5,000 from the other player, who had another 24K. It seemed like an attempt to buy the pot to me. I raised all-in and he called, showing two over cards—QJ—but nothing made. Nothing until the Q on the river, anyway.

That put me out in 185th place of 3,115 players. ROI of 98% after 173 minutes.

Return to Profitability?

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

I chugged along fine here for ten minutes, creeping up to 1,600 chips until my KA met a QQ on a JJJ flop. I was down to 310 chips after that and only lasted another three hands. 392nd place out of 1,198.

Cake Poker No Limit Hold’em (1,500 chips)

This was a no-guarantee game with 42 players. I had a good hand about half an hour in when I got eights full of fives on the river with Q8 to beat a flopped straight. I lost a lot of chips along with another player at the hour mark when each of us were holding jacks (J8 for him, J9 for me) and the flop rolled out 3J4. The spaded jack was first to act and went all-in for 1,605. The player between us called with another 760 behind and I re-raised to 3,210. A fourth player mucked but the second player to act called all-in, flipping over 44.

I was down to 1,655 and was lucky enough to get QQ on the  next hand so I threw it in pre-flop. I was in the big blind (125/250/20), two players ahead of me had gone in for 750 and the raiser went all-in to push the caller out. The queens were heads-up against 99 but the flop went down 74JT8 and the nines straightened out. If only one of them had been on the board instead of the 4! Out in 11th place with no money.

Cake Poker Roma Turbo 6-Max

Just had a little bit of money left in my Cake Poker account and put it into a ring game. Not only did my last hand of 77 get double-counterfeited by the Q898Q board, but the other guy had AA. – 135BB/100 hands.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Another classic example of me blowing the best position to bust out—or win a lesser prize, in this case. My first hand was a dreamy KK. I went to the flop after a re-raise and call with one other player. I got KA3 and made a doubled the pot with a bet of 555. He raised and I went all-in, getting a call. As I suspected, he had a very strong ace: QA but a pair was the best he could muster against my set and I was over 3,000 chips.

Only four hands later I was dealt QQ. A pair of cracked aces had eliminated another player, so there were two of us with stacks around the 3K level. I made a min-raise (to 40), got a call, was re-raised to 120, four-bet to 280 and got a call from the other raiser and we were heads-up. Once again I got a set on the flop: 58Q. I put out a tiny 60 chip bet into the pot of 620 to see if I could get a read and he raised to 800. He might have a flush draw or an over pair or another queen. Maybe a straight draw of some kind. I went all-in and got a call. He had a set with pocket 99. No 9 showed up so I was clear.

It was another set that cost me big. The table was down to five players. My stack was about 4,300, almost 1,500 ahead of anyone else. I was the big blind at 60/120 with a decent JT. The cutoff raised to 360 and I was the only caller. The flop looked very nice: T2T. I checked to see what he’d do and the bastard put out 780 to try to steal the thing from me! I put him all-in and he called. With AT. A 68 on the turn and river gave me four to a flush but that was how I lost 2,600 of my chips. I never managed to get back in to the top two slots for a Step 2 ticket.

Live by the kings, die by the kings. My last hand in the match was KK. We were down to four players. Everyone playing was assured of at last a Step 1 ticket. I was the small blind at 100/200. UTG raised to 400. I put another 1,000 on top of that, leaving 780 behind, hoping to indicate some ambiguity and wanting to get more than the blinds and the raise. Big blind folded and I got a call. The flop was a worrisome J8T but I went all-in. I got a call (the player was the same one I’d lost my chips to earlier) and he showed 98. I was ahead through the 6 on the turn but the Q on the river did the deed. 4th place and a Step 1 ticket.

Full Tilt Zoom Rush 6-Max

I don’t think there’s anything of note in the 111 hands I played in this cash game session. I almost recovered from a couple of 15-20BB losses. -4.5BB/100 hands.

Full Tilt Step 1 18-Player (1,500 chips)

JJ on the second hand here got me off to a good but unsustained start. I was over 2,000 almost immediately and the exact same hand ten minutes in put me past the 2,500 chip mark. I hovered around that point for about fifteen minutes, sank below 2,000 for twenty minutes, and very briefly managed to get up to 3,500 before slipping back down to starting stack territory (albeit at a somewhat higher blind level). 54 minutes, 78 hands, 11th place, no prize.

Full Tilt $10,000 Guarantee Early Antes (3,000 chips)

I’d been curious about the dynamics of these Early Ante tournaments. I didn’t find this one appreciably different from a standard tournament, the antes just aren’t large enough to make much of a difference when people are doing things like going all-in. At the early stages, the antes are slightly larger than the big blind but you’re talking less than 1% of the starting stack size with a 3K stack and blinds of 10/20/3. In the last level I played of this tournament (150/300/25) it’s no different than a regular tournament.

I took a big hit on the first hand of this game with a K7 in UTG position. I limped, UTG+1 limped, the cutoff raised to 100, both blinds called and we limpers went for the ride. The flop was T58 and everyone checked. The turn was 9, giving me an up or down straight draw. The small blind made a pot-sized bet of 524 and I was the only caller. The river was a useless 5, we both checked, and he turned over a 97. A king would have given me a better pair but my straight would have just been a draw.

I doubled up to 4,500 with AA twenty-five minutes in when KK had some bad timing. Forty minutes of languishing at the same level followed, with the inevitable minor ups and downs. Then with AT in my hand in the big blind at 50/100/10, five players limped in to a flop of ATJ. Possible Broadway straight, a flush draw, top pair with an extra pair for me. I checked after the small blind, the hijack position bet 690 with 2.300 more behind. The button called, the small blind folded, and I re-raised to 2,000 to give them something to think about. Hijack went all-in for 3,020 with everyone but me folding. 7,420 in the pot, he had JT, much to my relief and no jack appeared on the turn or river. I was over 9K and in the top 100 stacks.

A QA cost me 1,500 and smaller amounts of less than half that on decent, ill-timed hands, but the blinds and antes ground away at my stack until I was down to about 3,200 at the two-hour mark. There were about 320 players left out of more than 1,100 but only 108 payouts. I got 9K in UTG+2 and called (150/300/25) after action folded to me. The button raised to 1,200 and the blinds folded. He’d been fairly active, so I raised him all-in (3,309) thinking he might be trying a steal. He called, though, apparently feeling good about his 8T (he did have another 11.5K). I was ahead all the way. The next hand played out almost exactly the same way, except for the part where he had a crummy hand. I was out in 315th place of 1,139.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Typically, I don’t enter these more than once (and I’d never play multiple entries simultaneously) but my first entry into this evening’s MM! ended so heinously I had to go in again. I took a big hit on hand six with AT. I was in the big blind, heads up for a pot of just 180 chips with J29 on the flop. I bet 45, my opponent raised to 120, I called and the turn was Q. I put out 120 to test the waters—I had 1,200 behind—he raised to 420 (the “pot smoker raise”) and I called. 3 on the turn. I had nothing and folded when he went all-in. He flashed 4A after collecting his 1,260 profit. OK. I still had 900.

Three hands later. 8J. Heads-up again to the flop. 5T9. Up-and-down straight draw. Flush draw. Opponent checks to me, I raise 120 and get a call. T on the turn. Made flush, up-and-down straight flush draw. Opponent bets 180. He could have a higher flush, pocket nines or fives or ten-nine/five combos for a full house, four tens, or any number of drawing hands. I go all-in. He calls with KQ. Then the 4 shows on the river and his flush beats me.

Eight hands of humiliation wasn’t enough. I started another entry but ended up waiting nearly five minutes for the blinds to get to me to play. Cards are uncooperative and I’m down to 1,245 about thirty-five minutes into the game when I get TT. Blinds are at 80/160, UTG limps in and as UTG+1, I raise to 480. The small blind raises to 1,280 and the two stacks between us get out. I have to go all-in to call. He flips over QA but the board doesn’t cooperate with him, giving me a full house of fives over tens: 755K5. Two hands later the same player gets it all back with interest. I have KK in the big blind. Hijack goes all-in for 200. The guy I tangled with before is in the cutoff and calls, the small blind folds, and I raise to 1,000. There’s a call from the cutoff. The K32 flop gives me a set and I raise all-in. Cutoff goes all-in for less, leaving me 755 in the hole. 6 shows on the turn and 7 on the river. Cutoff has TQ for a backdoor flush and takes a pot of 4,390.

A K4 doubles me up with a flopped set of 4s a little later but spades fail me on the next had and I lose everything trying to triple up on a three-way all-in with A8 against TT and 77. The flop misses everyone and the tens win.

My first entry went out in 2,314th place. The second was 1,500th.

Full Tilt $4,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

This was my “good” outing for the day. I entered rather late: nearly forty minutes in with blinds already at 60/120. My third hand, I was on the button with KT. There were two limpers ahead of me. I called and the small blind was in. The flop didn’t look good for me with 42A but everyone checked and I was the last to act, so I checked. The 8 on the turn improved my hand a bit and when the action folded around to me again I bet 320. I got one caller from a large stack to my immediate right. The 6 gave me the nut flush and when I bet 560 after a check the big stack folded.

I blew 300 entering a contest with 86 when one of the short stacks at the table was about to get knocked out. Missed the flop entirely and when the bets and raises started flying I folded. Eventually, two players fell to pocket AA held by the guy on my immediate left. I picked up about 1,200 with a 600 chip post-flop bet my next turn in the big blind holding T5 on a 7K2 board.

Clubs did well by me a little bit later, as well. I was in UTG+2 with 9K with blinds at 250/500/50. I called, as did UTG+3. The giant stack in the big blind checked. The flop was J7K and my 1,000 bet folded the other two players. The next hand I was dealt QA. I raised to 1,000 and the player to my left went all-in for 3,747 with only 2,200 in the pot. I had him covered by just over 1,000 and I called; he flipped AK. The board gave him a king on the river but with J56TK that was actually the last card he wanted to see, because it made my Broadway straight. I took a bounty and nearly 5K in profit to put me over 9,750.

A T9 combo just a couple of hands later in the big blind went up against a couple of limpers. I had nothing on the 65Q flop and both I and the other players checked it through. The T on the turn was interesting, although it could have been a real pain as I found out. I checked again but the first player after me bet 1,199 with 8,122 behind. There was a call from the button and I raised to 3,000. The original raiser folded but the button went all-in to call. 8J, so I wasn’t looking for another spade. The K on the river was wonderfully safe for my pair of tens and I got another bounty.

I pushed as high as 20K but had some setbacks and was down to about 12K by the end of my first hour in the game. 88 came to me on the button in the 800/1,600/200 level. There was an all-in raise of just under 10K, an all-in call for about 2,500, and a call from me with the blinds folding. The flop was a less-than-pleasing K59 but an 8 on the turn made it all good, even with A on the river. I took the 26K pot and two more bounties. Shortly after that—in the 1,000/2,000/250 level—the Mutant Jack appeared in its AJ avatar. I raised to 4,000 as UTG+1. UTG+2 re-raised all-in to 11,280, about half my stack. Everyone else folded and I called. We were interleaved, he turned over KQ. I got a A on the flop and nothing else mattered except the bounty and the 27K pot, which put my total up to 43.5K.

Those were the last of the good days though. I played forty more hands in the match and lost money on all but two of them to antes (from 250 to 600 per hand), blinds (3,000/6,000 by my last hand), or contests (just eight hands). My next-to-last hand I started with less than 10K (after losing 5,600 on the big blind with 74) and 9A. Not usually a hand I push with, but I was down to less than two big blinds. UTG, sitting on far from the largest stack at the table with 60K, raised to 15K. Action folded to my paltry stack of 9,300 (with 2,500 already in for the small blind) and I went all-in. It was a race against 66 but I caught my A on the turn.

I was out on the next hand, though, calling an all-in from a 92K stack with a better ace kicker than my 9.

Five bounties and a small cash for an ROI of 271%. 95th out of 1,774 entries.

Mutiny of the Bounty

Full Tilt $2,500 Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Nothing to see here. There were almost 3,700 entrants at the time I busted out. I took an early hit with a A6 that didn’t pan out. An 87 paired the eight on the flop to put me back over the starting stack. I more than doubled up with TT, beating a pair of nines to make it to nearly 4,000 chips twenty minutes into the game. Twenty minutes later, a different suited ace combination (A8) flushed through on the turn to beat a pair of kings.

I was mostly quiet after that, staying between 4,000 and 5,000 chips until just after the first hour of play, when a far weaker A3 combo lost out to A9 that got four clubs on the board. All-in against a larger stack with three clubs on the flop? What was I thinking? Out in 794th place.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Very quiet for the first quarter-hour. I get a couple walks for 15 chips apiece but give it away. A couple of small opening raises go bye-bye when the flop fails to cooperate. Then I get 66 in the small blind (at 20/40) with action folded around to me and only seven seated at the table. I min-raise and get a call from the big blind. The board has three over cards—including a king and queen—to my pair and the big blind keeps firing off small bets but I take the 480 in the pot when he has a pair of twos. The next hand I eliminate a player and make a profit of 1,460 when the bottom end of my AQ pairs on the flop. QA on the very next hand only makes me 40. Then it’s quiet until about the 50-minute mark when I have AK. I min-raise to 200 from UTG+2 (with eight players), getting calls from both blinds. The flop is A49, the blinds check and I open with 600. Small blind raises to 1,200, big folds, and I three-bet all-in. Big mistake. Small blind not only has me covered but he’s got 9A. two more clubs show on the board, and if that king had been a club it would have been real nice, but I’m out in 1,703rd place out of 2,016. Pathetic showing.

Full Tilt Step 0 Super Turbo (300 chips)

When I said I would never play another Super Turbo so long as I lived, I should have specified that only idiots play Super Turbos. I am an idiot. Five hands. I’m in my first big blind (there’s 10% of my starting stack right there). I’ve got a wretched J4 but lo and behold the flop is Q23. I know that if I can double up or just grab some chips in this early stage I’ll be a lot better off when the blinds go up on the next hand. I bet the pot to open (90), get re-raised by UTG+1 (the only other player in except for the small blind) and the small blind folds. I shove and UTG+1—who’s already taken out one of the players at the table so he has the bog stack— calls, showing K9. Finished 82 of 99.

Full Tilt $2,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

I’ve taken a run at this low buy-in event a few times in the past without any luck. Bustouts in just four and six hands, half an hour at the best. Last night things clicked—at least for a while.

I was below the starting stack for most of the first ten minutes then managed to avoid having a pair of sevens suck out with a flush on my pair of queens and picked up 900 chips.

My first big win was pushing all-in with A3. Action had folded around to the button, who raised to 480 at the 80/160 level. Small blind folded. I had the button covered by 900 chips (out of 3,200) and my all-in was called. Up against KQ and an A came on the flop. Things were a little worrisome with a turned J but the river was safe and I got my first bounty. I picked up another 960 on the next hand with Q9 that made it to a king-high straight on the turn.

I made a move about 25 minutes later holding QA on the button at 80/160/25. Two players ahead of me were in for 480 and I called, with the big blind following along. The flop was 4AJ. The big blind checked, the next player (UTG+3) bet 755 and the hijack called. I went all-in for 3,875. All thee following players had me covered by 500 to 9,000 chips but everyone folded and I picked up 3,270 to put me over 7,500.

An hour-and-a-half into the game and I’d lost several hands, dropping down to 4,500 with blinds at 200/400/50. My hand on the button was a somewhat less-than-sterling KT. UTG+1 limped, UTG+2 raised to 800, hijack called, I called, as did the blinds, and UTG+1 matched the raise, so the pot held 5,250 prior to the flop. The flop was 957. Nobody had put in 800 with 68, apparently, because everyone checked to the turn, which was 8. UTG+2 bet 1,200 with the hijack calling and I took a stab at it with my four-card straight, raising all-in for 3,655. Everyone folded and I built up to 11,300.

I got knocked down to 5,300 with another KT combo. It was suited (KT) but slightly behind the JK at the end of a board that didn’t connect with either of us.

The same player gave most of the chips back on the next hand. Five players went to the flop, limping in at the 300/600/75 level. My hand was K5 and the flop was A42. UTG+2 bet 1,200, UTG+2 raised to 2,400, and once again on the button I re-raised all-in to 4,620. The blinds and UTG+2 folded, UTG+3 called, showing 9A, and the turn dropped a 3, completing the straight and putting me over 14,000.

The humdinger hand of the night was my second bounty. I had about 13,700 chips in UTG+1 and was dealt QA. We were still at 300/600/75; I raised to 1,200. UTG+3 went all-in for 11,460. Everyone folded to me and I called with him flipping over TT. Things were just about over with a Q5Q flop but 6Q on the river sealed the deal for a 13,000 profit.

I was the big stack at the table for the moment but lost my next five entries into the pot, losing between 1,000 and 4,000 each try until I was down to 8,400. Blinds were nipping at everyone’s heels, at 600/1,200/150. KK fell into my hand in UTG+1. I raised to 3,000. The huge stack with 90K re-raised to 12,600. The button three-bet all-in to 28,297. Action folded to me and I called all-in for 8,259. The big stack called the three-bet. Big stack had KA, the other all-in (the same player I’d traded chips with above) had JJ. The board ran out TQ673 and I took just about 28K of the 68K pot. Two hands later I lost everything to the big stack, going out with a small cash in 207th place out of 3,401 entries after 150 minutes.

Full Tilt Super Satellite to FTOPS Event #44 (1,500 chips)

Sunday was the last day of the FTOPS tournaments, and early in the morning fresh off the KO tournament above I took a shot at a super satellite to the next-to-last event, a 6-max bounty tournament. The field grew to 61 entries by the end of registration, with five entries to the satellite, worth $55 each and two smaller cash awards.

Twenty minutes in I got my first break with KK in the cutoff. UTG picked up a ten on the flop to match their T8 for top pair and went all-in and I picked up the KO and 830 chips. I wiped out another small stack of 720 shortly after with QA vs. AT. AA against TT shortly thereafter made another bounty and put me over 4,000 chips. I took out two players (one with only 25 chips in the big blind) holding 88 when the board showed QKQ8Q.

Forty minutes in, I’d been knocked down to only about 2,500 chips again, losing 600-900 chips on hands like A6s and A9o. Kings served me well again when I doubled up through the big stack at the table to 7,700. Another bounty  and 1,495 came my way with TT a few hands after that. I got a couple thousand more holding K6 when the board gave me a 9-high straight on the river and nobody contested my 1,000-chip bet into a pot of 3,270.

A key mistake came when the field was down to about ten players. The cutoff raised from 200/400/50 all-in to 4,105 and I was the only caller, holding QK and 6,200 chips behind. The all-in showed KA and he got aces full of kings by the end of the hand.

Still, I was in the top five, on track to get a ticket to the satellite until I called another all-in by the same player five minutes later. My 66 against his QQ. Out in 7th place with an award about 1.5 times the buy-in and seven bounties, bringing the ROI to 169%.

The Landing On Step 3

Full Tilt Step 2 (1,500 chips)

Playing with the ticket I won earlier, I don’t manage to get ahead in the first fifty hands. A 3BB raise with JA early on just gets me the blinds; I pick up 150 with a 57 in the big blind when a couple of players limp in and the flop of 869 gives me a straight; AA in the small blind gets me 240. But when I push a smaller stack’s all-in with an all-in of my own holding AQ, he turns over TT and neither of my over cards connect. I manage to double up and get back as high as 1,150 before my 9A all-in is called and out-kicked by TA and I’m back at the foot of the steps.

Full Tilt $2,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

I like this little bounty tournament althoughI’m at a loss as to why. I’d have to check to see if I’ve picked up any bounties, and I know I haven’s cashed in it. It’s cheap and it’s there if I’m not playing Midnight Madness (or if I’ve busted out). I came into this edition late, with blinds already at 50/100, lost 333 on my first contested hand, and the rest of it only fourteen hands in when my KT got clobbered by QQ that would have had me beat even if my straight draw had come through.

Full Tilt Step 1 (1,500 chips)

I caught a very lucky KK just four hands in. UTG limped in for 30 and I raised from UTG+1 to 120. UTG+2 called, then everyone but UTG folded. The flop was 29T and UTG opened with 405. I shoved all-in, +2 folded like a good boy and UTG called for slightly less than I had. My kings beat his tens—although he was one card from a straight by the river—and I eliminated a player.

I stayed up over 3,000 as chip leader with some small induced folds, then had 87 on the button with five players left and blinds at 50/100. I’d slipped to second place, the big stack was in the small blind. UTG called, I called, and the small blind called for four players to the flop, which was T9Q. After checks from the blinds, UTG made a pot-sized bet and I doubled it. Straight flush here I come! The blinds dropped out and UTG went all-in for an amount that would leave me with only about 1,400. Naturally, I called. I got a straight with a 6 on the turn. The A still didn’t give me a flush but I was up to 5,300+. My own KT knocked another player out a little later when I flushed to beat not only his 66 which tripped up in the flop but a straight on the board: 73654.

I tried letting the two remaining players battle it out but they were taking so long the blinds ate away 1,500 of my 9,000 chips and I figured I’d better make my presence known when I could. I had about 6,600 in the small blind at 80/160, the big blind had 4,200 and the button had 2,700. I was dealt KA, the button made a min raise, I re-raised to 640, big blind folded, button called. The flop was a rather ugly 6KQ but I raised all-in and got a call. I had the better made hand but with QA it was far from over. Fortunately, diamonds are my best friend and the rest of the cards were 64. No flush, no more queens. Just a Step 2 ticket for me and guy in the big blind.

Full Tilt Step 2 (1,500 chips)

An early JJ pops me up to 2,000 but I nearly get felted 34 hands in when I get over-confident and call an all-in with AJ. The all-in turns out to be AK and I drop to 530 chips. It doesn’t help that the other ticket winner from the previous game is in this one and is either an ardent admirer or has a novel method of making me a target by appearing to be a sycophant, praising every win and warning people getting into hands with me that they’re going to be sorry. I manage to double up twice in the next eight hands, with a K5 that pairs the top card on the flop and then 88 in my pocket, each of which sets off a barrage of admiration and my own attempts to deflect.

I lose another big pot to the same player as before with an out-kicked king (he’s got KA this time) and have to build my way back up from the sub-1K region again. We’re down to five players, I have 1,160 in the big blind at 100/200 and I’m dealt AQ. The guy who’s been beating me is first to act with a call. My fanboy’s on the button with 1,925 and raises to 900. The small blind folds and I shove all-in. UTG raises all-in—he’s the largest stack by far with 5,875—and the button preserves his remaining 1,025 with a fold. When the cards flip UTG has TT but he’s in a bit worse shape when the flop shows Q89. Another Q on the turn closes just means he has fewer chances for a straight, but the 8 on the river makes my full house instead. I move from fifth place to second, with 3,320 chips. Another 88 gets me 600 more chips.

Then I spend twenty-five hands waiting for a good opportunity as my stack shrinks from 3,800 to 1,700. I have to make a move at 120/240 and get very lucky with an all-in from the small blind holding 2A. By the turn I have a six-high straight and the A9 of my nemesis is busted. (My fan is gone by this time, thankfully). After my double-up, nemesis and I are relatively even at around 3K while the chip leader is at 7K.

I’m able to push a little better with a larger stack and—frankly—a better run of cards. I creep slowly up through the 4,000s and into the 5K range while meanwhile my nemesis doubles through the chip leader. Now we’re even at about 5,250 while the former chip leader is just above 2,500.

I manage to bump up to more than 7K with 87 in the big blind at 200/400 with a rivered nine-high straight. The two other players are now at about 3K. The non-nemesis opponent goes all-in from the button when I have AQ and I go all-in. He’s got just 2A, the Q shows on the turn, and the match is over after seventy minutes including sixteen just three-handed (there are two winners, so there was no heads-up play).

Full Tilt Step 3 (1,500 chips)

This game looked rather grim. I’d made it to Step 3 before only to crash and burn. Sixty hands and thirty-five minutes in, with blinds at 50/100 and only five players left and I was under the starting stack. Then a KJ in the big blind met up with a QAT flop and I pushed everyone away from 1,850 chips with an all-in for my straight. On the small blind the next hand my JQ double-paired on the river of a AKJ9Q board. A little scary but the all-in forced another fold for a profit of 1,350.

Three hands later I had the same combo in slightly different suits: JQ. I was the first to act and limped in for 120; I was heads-up against the big blind. The flop was a pretty safe 6Q2. Big blind bet 180 and I called. The 9 didn’t look scary to me and I matched the bet of 400. I figured a KT could have me beat on when J showed on the river, but I matched the 1,570 all-in bet and when he showed 96 it was mine.

I maintained top position three-handed at about 7K, hoping my two opponents with 3,500 each would weaken each other, to no avail for ten minutes. Then I matched a 480 raise from the small blind while I was in the big blind holding T8. The 383 flop gave me two pair but I should have been more leery of the 480 post-flop bet. I raised all-in and was called by A3. An A on the turn just made it worse and I was reduced to 3,700. A couple of hands later my all-in call with JQ failed to improve and was beat by 66, putting me out with another chance at Step 3.

Full Tilt Step 3 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

I re-raised a 3BB raise with AA ten minutes into this two-table match, inducing a three-bet all-in that I called. I was up against QQ and another ace showed on the flop, putting me in an early lead. I kept the lead as the table shrank through elimination and balancing to six players, then ran my TA into JA and lost 1,200 chips. A freak river 7 paired my A7 to wipe out a JA and put me over 5K. Then another four-flush struck when I stupidly contested the big stack’s big blind and I dropped from third place and a sure Step 4 ticket to sixth and Step 3 again.

Put a Spade In It

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Trying to get back on the track. Aces in the first three hands and I win only the very first (AK) and that’s just 30 chips. Another ace with a lower kicker pairs. I have to back off 66 when triple paint shows on the flop, and AQ loses out to a pair of sevens.

Full Tilt Step 1 Super Turbo (300 chips)

I will never enter another Super Turbo so long as I live. You might as well just roll dice.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Lost 600 on the first hand when an ace showed up late, doubled up from 395 only because a guy with 3K stayed in for absolutely nothing against my AJ all-in, then lost the whole thing with KK when 8A paired up.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Entered into the tournament twice and neither went anywhere. Got knocked out the final time by a Mutant Jack that paired over my eights.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Played pretty conservatively for twenty minutes until I got A5 at 60/120 when we were down to six players. I raised to 240 from the cutoff and got a call from the big blind. The flop was 348 and I bet another 240 after a check. He raised all-in and I called for everything I had. His 78 gave him a pair and the K K after the flop didn’t improve me any.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Another conservative game until the last hand. I got QQ and raised from the big blind of 30 to 210 in the hijack seat. The button re-raised all-in for 1,410 and UTG+2 went all-in to 2,385. Either one put me in and with QQ I took the plunge for 1,493. I saw KK and KK. Neither would improve but they didn’t need to. A pair of nines and a pair of aces on the board with an errant 6 and it was over.

Cake $1,000 Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Reasonably good going for fifteen minutes until I was dealt JQ in the small blind at 25/50. UTG+1 raised to 100, UTG+3 called, and both the blinds went along for the ride. I got top pair with TQ5 and bet 150. UTG+1 called but UTG+3 raised to 1,000. I wasn’t about to let him get away with that. But I should have. I called and the 9 on the turn gave me an up-or-down straight draw. I put in my last 280 and he went all-in to call, 40 short of my stack. The 3 didn’t connect with anything and when the cards turned over he had a a pair of queens, too, but with K instead of an ace for the kicker. I managed to quad up on my next hand but somehow that’s not so satisfying when you’re doing it with only 40 chips.

Aces Players Club (5,000 chips)

I’d managed to almost recover from some early losses with a 67 that turned into an 8-high straight on the flop. On another hand I double-pair A3 and push all-in to drive off an A5 that only connects on the top. Then I got JJ and raised to 250 with the blinds at 50/100. Several players came along and the flop was somewhat disturbing, with a Q. Everyone checked through that and the K on the turn. J on the river gave me trips but at the far end of the table a player bet 1,000. I came over the top for 2,500 and everyone but him dropped out and he called. It wasn’t until he turned over his 57 that I realized there was another spade on the flop. A little while later I had A9 and bet hard but the big stack two places to my left got three spades (including 9) on the flop to flush out his K5, which I saw after I tried to bluff him off. I had a small chance with runner-runner 9s or aces or any combination thereof to make a full house, but it didn’t happen and I was out in less than an hour.

That’s nine losses in a row. I think the streak is off.

I Never Flush

Full Tilt Midnight Madness (1,500 chips)

Three hands in and there are four after the flop with 390 chips in the pot. I have 8A, there’s 2QJ on the board and I’m first to act in the small blind. I bet 200, there’s a fold and two calls. The turn’s 4 and I push out another 200. UTG+1 calls and UTG+3 goes all-in for 1,180. Everyone calls. The last card’s 8 and UTG+3 with QT loses to UTG’s straight made with T9 (as do I).

Full Tilt $2,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

I win exactly one hand during my four minutes in this match and it does not come with a knockout bounty.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Ten minutes in and I get JK as UTG+1. I raise to 120 (4xBB) and get a re-raise to 405 from a stack with twice my chips in the hijack. I call. The flop is 52A and I check, then he bets 625. I call and the turn’s 7. I’ve got nine possible draws to an ace-high flush, just like I did in Midnight madness. I bet 120 with 865 behind and he raises all-in. I call. The river is T. He’s got KA and I’m out.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo 6-Max (1,500 chips)

I did a little better here than in my last attempt. I managed to get up to 4K, then was busted back to 1.5K, with a last-minute double-up before I busted out in third place. No step up but I didn’t lose any ground.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

A slightly longer run into the $10K than the one above but nothing to be proud of. I got beat down on a couple of hands where TA and KT failed to connect, then managed to pull off a triple up. I was in the big blind at 20/40 when I picked up AA. UTG raised to 155, action folded to the button, who called, the small blind folded and I raised to 640. Both of the others came along and the pot had over 1,900. After the flop of Q67 I went all-in for 1,270. UTG called. The button went all-in for 2,525 and UTG gave up. There was 5,750 in the pot, the button flipped over Q8 and with T on the turn and 4 on the river it was mine. I managed to blow it with another ten combo—TK—just seven hands later when trip sixes beat my pair of kings and straight draw, taking 4,630 off of me. I lasted about 20 minutes after that but never made it back over 1,200 chips.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo 18 Players (1,500 chips)

I had a couple near-fatal setbacks in this tournament, but in the 18-player Sit & Gos Steps the top four spots all step up. I’d been up over 3K, then back down to just over 2K when I played 9A from the small blind. There were four to the flop, which was an intriguing 7T2. I made a pot-sized bet of 800 after the flop and the button raised all-in to 1,240. After my call, the turn made my nut flush with 3. Then the whole thing fell apart with a 2 on the river and a TT in my opponent’s hand. I managed to build up to 5K by the end of the tournament, about 75 minutes after the first hand.

Full Tilt Rush Flash

It had been a while since I sat down at a ring game and even longer since I hit the Rush tables. I played for about half an hour, losing my entire first stake on the second hand with pocket 9s against pocket kings. I bought back in and rebuilt, eventually coming out ahead with a BB/100 hands of 11.

Cake $1,000 Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Stupid moves on my part knocked me out here in 106th place out of 161 players. Another ATo I shouldn’t have played, and an obvious pair of kings on the board that beat my pocket 9s, even without another king in my opponent’s hand.

Full Tilt Rush Mach 10

A quarter hour at a slightly higher stake, I managed to pull out of a trough and make it into profitability before the end with a ten combination but only because my cards were higher than the other player who followed the trip sevens on the board. BB/100 of 3.5.

Full Tilt Rush Mach 10

This 77-minute excursion managed to eradicate the gains of the earlier sessions. After the seventh minute, I was never in the black. A QK made it to four spades by the turn but no flush. TJ paired the ten on the flop for both myself and the guy holding QT. KA paired but couldn’t beat trip fives. BB/100 of -15.5.

Full Tilt Step 2 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Turbo it was. Thirty minutes from start to finish—even with only nine people—is pretty fast. I got knocked down to 1K fairly quickly but managed to double up after a dozen minutes with an all-in move and KA that matched the king on the turn. Another lucky AK only ten hands later breathed some more life into my stack. I ended up going out in third place with a K9 that failed to connect with anything. Didn’t lose ground but no step up.

Puffmammy Tournament 18 (1,500 chips)

Lost a couple of early pots that hindered my play in the first rounds. Managed to build things back up but had a huge chip stack on my right for most of my night. I was in decent shape going into the break but just didn’t get the right cards at the right time as I was trying to outlast D. Didn’t work. Lost the POY point lead for the first time since mid-October, going out 6th of 8. Only down by a point, though, since D went out on the bubble (4th).

Cake $1,000 Guarantee – Bounty (3,000 chips)

Took two bounties in a three-way ace-off three-quarters of an hour into the match. I had AQ on the button at 75/150. UTG+3 goes all in for 1,959. Cutoff is all-in for 1,123. I’ve got 4,560 and call, the blinds fold. The cards go over 9A for UTG+3 and A7 for the cutoff. The board delivers K5Q A T and I’m up to almost 8K. I lose most of that running pocket queens into pocket aces a few minutes later, build back up to more than 5K, then end up with less than 2 big blinds when my AQ is beat by A4. Someone takes my bounty on the next hand when I go out 37th of 96.

Full Tilt Step 2 (1,500 chips)

Nine players in another Steps outing, hoping to get far enough during FTOPS to play a game. JJ in the big blind puts me over 2,500 chips and into first position a dozen minutes in when the chip leader and I play chicken with our pocket pairs. It’s a scary board for me with 49AQ5 but I would have assumed it was even more so for his 77. I mostly rest and slide (with a couple of wins) down to 1,950 when I get AT in the big blind. There are seven players left, the hijack raises to 300, and the button foes all-in for 1,385. I call and so does the hijack. A tantalizing 247 shows on the flop, I check, and hijack raises to put me all-in. There’s nearly 5K in the pot; I’ve got nine outs to the nut flush; I call and each of my opponents turn over a pair of queens. Their hands aren’t going to improve. Mine doesn’t with a J on the turn, but the river is 6. At 40 minutes in I’m back in first place (top two win Step 3 tickets).

I take a flier on KT a few hands later and lose 1,000 so I decide I’d better cool it. Ten minutes later we’re down to five players and I get A5 on the button. I’m down to 3,830 chips, the blinds are 80/160. I call after two folds and the small blind is in. Three to the flop of 343. Once again, very tantalizing. Everyone checks for another card, the 2 which makes my straight and gives me a flush draw. Not to mention a straight flush draw. The big blind bets 160 when it’s his time and I raise the 640 chip pot to 1,600. Big blind goes all-in and there’s 4,860 in the pot when the Q shows on the river. He’s got J3 for trip threes but no 2, 3, 4, or jack shows to save him from fifth place.

I clamp down hard on myself. With 6,100 chips, I have twice what any of the other three players do. I do push an AT hard on a 2879 turn to push two players off and pick up 1,200 but mostly I let the rest of the players fight amongst themselves. The final hand I get 55 in the small blind and follow the short stack all-in for about 2K. I have enough behind that I’m still the chip leader if I lose. He has AK but the flop is 45Q. Even A on the turn doesn’t help him.

I guess I do flush once in a while.

Cashing

Somehow I missed two whole days, but in the meantime I managed to cash for small amounts several times.

Things didn’t start off well, however, with a $3K guarantee Cake R&A game on Wednesday evening. My biggest pot ever was in a $5 re-buy (in which I did not re-buy) but generally I try to avoid both re-buying and playing in re-buy tournaments. I never managed to get my poker legs, re-bought twice, but even the add-on couldn’t save me.

I entered a $1K turbo tournament at the 75/150 level with 1,500 chips, gained a little ground, then managed to double up with KK. Then I almost lost it all and things were looking grim with less than 1,000 chips at 200/400/40 until I managed to arrest the tailspin and get up over 8K, then settle down to about 5K at 400/800/75. By the 600/1200/120 level I’d been whittled down to 2K when my AJ ran into AQ on my all-in and I went out in 21st place of 181, with 81% ROI.

A $1K turbo 6-max put me out on hand 23 when I called the all-in of a KJ with AK. Naturally, the jack paired on the turn.

A bounty tournament with a $1K guarantee was the last game on Cake in this series. The only bounty I saw was the one I generated, though. Blinds were 75/150 and UTG+1 had limped in. I raised to 550 from UTG+2 with AQ. Action folded back around to UTG+1, who went all-in for 3,875, more than my 2,617. I called and was just a little behind his 55. Two spades hit the board but the pair held up and I was out.

Late Thursday night I moved over to Full Tilt and played the $36K Rush Guarantee which was about 20 minutes in. It’s both re-buy and multi-entry but I didn’t do either and was felted after about half an hour when my KJ came one card short of drawing to a king-high straight to beat a pair of kings.

Last night it was back to Midnight Madness. It was a slow and steady climb without any real setbacks from the starting stack of 1,500. I think the one real mistake I made was my final hand, calling a larger all-in with JT which had served me well earlier in the tournament. With 15K and blinds at only 250/500/50, I could have given up the $1K bet I’d made, then made a deeper run than 560th and better ROI than 23%.

Despite not having had the best of luck playing simultaneous tables in the past, for most of Midnight Madness I was also participating in a $5K guarantee KO game, with a $0.50 bounty for each player. I don’t know if I was less inclined to take fliers of dodgy hands because I had two games going or if I was just playing well or lucky, but I hit the money here as well. This game was a bit less even than Midnight Madness. I did take in six bounties but at one point I lost more than 6K in the space of five hands with AK and AK (picking up 9,400 with AJ over AQ did sort of make up for that). I lost half a 23K stack with QT when my queen paired on the board but so did that of a player with AQ. I managed to get up to 36K by the time the blinds were 500/1,000/125, then lost a chunk when my AT paired the top card on a T58 flop but lost to pocket QQ. Nothing connected after that and it was AJ running into KA that put me out with four hearts on the board—62A Q 2—and a flush for the better hand. 226th place and my bounties was good for an ROI of 184%.

Tomorrow morning is the weekly Irish Open semi-final qualifier. Only about twenty people registered so far and at least three tickets to the monthly final, which is in the early afternoon and will have more than thirty folks chasing a single $7K prize package plus about $3,850 in cash for second through fourth place.