Poker Mutant 2011 In Review

Since my concentration on live tournaments after missing out on my home league’s Player Of the Year WSOP buy-in pool and Black Friday’s crushing of the online poker action in the US, I’ve played 169 tournaments, mostly at Portland-area poker venues.

I had a couple of goals:

  1. Make it to the WSOP. I hoped to put together enough between 1 May and mid-June to make up for missing out on the POY pool, so I could play one of the low-end WSOP events and visit with Tomer. Two early wins at the PPC right off the bat gave me some hope, but times were tight, I had to dip into my poker bankroll for personal expenses, and June slipped away before I made it up.
  2. Make it to Prague. My next goal was to make it to the EPT event in the Czech Republic that started on my 50th birthday. Prague’s supposed to be a great place to be just before Christmas, I could take Ms. Poker Mutant with me for part of the trip, we’d make a little European vacation of it, and maybe I’d get lucky. Problem was, I figured I needed about $20,000 for travel expenses, the $7,500 EPT buy-in, and some money for side events that might make the trip worthwhile, poker-wise. Kept coming up waaaaay short until a win just a couple of weeks before I needed to be on my way made it possible—if unlikely—to build the roll up. No luck, but I tried.

I’ve played an average of 21 tournaments each of the last eight months. Thirty-one of those have been games where the buy-in was $100, $120, or $150. I played three tournaments at Foxwoods. And—briefly—the $2,500 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza IV at The Venetian. I’ve made the final table in two of the seven $10,000 guarantees I’ve played at the Encore Club, placing 8th in a field of 142 back when they were monthly, and taking first in a field of 75 since they’ve gone weekly. I also took second in their 138-player Tournament of Champions back in August. Got to play 2-7 Triple Draw the other day with a guy who was a hair’s-breadth from winning a WSOP bracelet. So even though my main goals were thwarted, not a bad year for the Poker Mutant.

Breakthroughs: Post 100; Money in $10K

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

Once it was obvious I wasn’t winning the Player of the Year pool money for a WSOP buy-in this year, I decided to step up my tournament play to see if I could make it up that way. Of course, after Black Friday, that meant more live tournaments, and I got off to a great start with the freeroll I played in early May and the turbo a couple of nights later that gave me back to back first-place finishes. Needless to say, that record hasn’t been maintained through the past six weeks, but I have stayed at around a 25% cash average since the first of June. 6 cashes in 26 tournaments.

Six hours in to the Encore $10K

The last one is the most interesting (and frustrating) to me. DV and I entered Encore’s monthly $10K Guarantee with the agreement that we’d split any winnings, the same agreement we’d made before the Ace of Spades game a couple of weeks earlier.

My game got off to a great start. I was in seat 4 and picked up 8x8x on the third hand of the match as SB. I’d lost a few chips on the earlier hands but still had about 9,500. The flop was 7x6x5x and I started betting heavily. The field narrowed to me and BB who stayed in. The turn 4x gave me my straight and I really pushed but there was a flush draw on the board, as well and BB re-raised. I shoved, he called, and he missed his flush but I got 9x for an even higher straight.  He was seriously crippled by the fourth hand and I was over 19K.

The first of my big mistakes came shortly thereafter. I had 68, two clubs showed on the flop, and I got into a bidding war with seat 7 that ended up with me having about 7,000 chips in by the river, which gave me a flush. Seat 7 turned up two pair and I flipped over 68, which paired an 8x on the board but wasn’t a flush. I sucked up the loss of most of the gain I’d made just a few hands earlier and kicked myself for wearing contacts instead of my glasses.

I played AxJx and paired the Jx high card on the flop but was beat by pocket KxKx and was down to 11K.

An all-diamond flop forced me to lay down 700 chips along with JT. Likewise, I raised 800 on AQ and folded when the top cards on the flop were K7.

A2 gave me diamonds for a change and I made a set of deuces but four hearts on the board made a flush for someone and I was down to 8,000 chips.

The last hand before the first break put QxQx into my hands and I managed to practically double up by busting out a player. After buying the 7K add-on, I had 25,500.

This, of course, did not last long. I bet big with AT on a TxQxKx flop and another player came over the top, leaving me with 17K by the end of that hand. Then a pair of 9x9x lost me 4,325 more when I called an all-in and their JT drew to a flush on the river. At the three hour mark my stack was back down to 11,875.

AxJx (not a Mutant Jack) took down the blinds for me when I opened with a raise to 2,500. Then I called a bb of 800 and folded to an all-in.

Ax5x is usually something I dislike playing but I saw a 5xTx5x on the flop and bet erratically, which ended up making me 20K. The guy next to me said he had no idea what I had.

Then I was lucky enough to grab a pair of KxKx as BB and went all-in after a 5K raise from the CO. He called, showed AxQx and almost made a straight (though that was more difficult with two of the kings in my hand), and I was up to 40K. By break three that was 59,400.

Back in the thick of things, K4 hit two pair on the flop and ended up with two players all-in against me when another 4x showed on the river, knocking them both out. By 4 hours and 30 minutes in I had 76,500.

I called a raise to 2K with QT but had to fold to two all-in bets, then lost another 6600 with A3 after a flop that utterly failed to connect.

My QxTx made two pair on the flop after I bet 5K pre-flop, and I called another player’s all-in. They showed four to a straight but beat me with a royal flush on the turn. That cost me about 30K and left me with 40,000 in chips at the 3 hours and fifty minutes mark.

I raised to 6K with another A5 and was re-raised. The re-raiser showed KxKx at showdown with another player. I would have made two pair on the board but a flush came and I would have lost anyway.

Five hours into the match, I was down to 22,000 chips, only 5K above the amount I’d received as a starting stack and add-on.

I managed to steal the blinds and antes with an all-in holding A9. At least I was big enough for the people at my table not to want to tangle with me all of the time.

Fifteen minutes later I was up to 24,500, with my ill-gotten blinds and antes.

I knocked out another player by calling an all-in with KxQx. They held Kx9x and stayed behind across the board. The Mutant Jack JA made two pair on the flop and earned me another 10K. Five hours and thirty minutes into the game, I’d made it back up to 45,500.

A Mutant Jack of hearts (AJ) and a bet of 12K got a call and then took the pot for me. Then I played a dangerous 3x3x, hitting a set on the flop and won another pot. Took out a player when the QJ paired the queen. By six-and-a-quarter hours, my stack was finally over the chip average again, with 95,000.

Raising to 15K with KxQx, another player came over the top and I laid it down, which was good because the hand went to showdown and I would have lost to the AxAx. Playing another A5 (see above), I caught the flush and took in over 50K, which put me at 131,500 by six hours and forty-five minutes.

Laid down another KxQx and 8K on a call to an all-in. Some more proffers gone wrong cut me down again to 80K in just half an hour.

Pocket 8x8x made quads for me, knocking out another player (who was holding AxJx) and getting my stack out of the doldrums. At the 8K/16K/2K level, a raise to 36K with Ax9x took down the blinds. The I used AxJx and knocked another player out. My stack was up to 220K just shy of eight hours into the tournament.

A call on my part with 36 lost me my BB and another 11K calling an all-in. I lost an extra 10K as the SB at the 10K/20K?4K level calling to see the flop with Q9 and folding to a post-flop bet from BB after my hand missed.

Ax9x again and a 40K min-raise took down the blinds again.

I called a small all-in with J5. He flipped over 2x2x. The odds calculators say that one’s a coin flip but if he’d had anything higher than a pair of 4x4x I probably would have lost. I didn’t, though and another player was down.

My last hand was played at 20K/40K/4K. I was in seat 5 at the final table, with eight players remaining, on BB with about 200K behind. There were somewhere over 2.3 million chips in play at the table, but about half of them were in the hands of the player in seat 7. A couple players had between 300K and 400K and the rest of us were down to just three or four big blinds. UTG folded and the big stack as UTG1 opened with a raise to 600K. Action folded around to SB, who went all-in. I had a clubby Mutant Jack: AJ. I was all-in. The giant stack turned over 6x6x, SB had me dominated with AK. Both the ace hands were losers, though, as the pair held up across the board. Two clubs on the board left me just short of what would have been a nut flush. I went out in seventh or eighth place; since the payout for both was the same, they didn’t count the chips to see who’d been ahead.

If my back hadn’t been to the screen, I might have made the wiser choice to lay down and let the the endgame play out. We were just short of the big money in the tournament, players were going to have to make moves just to stay ahead of the voracious blinds, and I likely could have moved up the pay scale by letting the blinds wash over me. After another 20K for the small blind, I wouldn’t have had to deal with them for a few hands and there would have been time for someone else to bust out (which happened on the next hand).

Nine-and-a-half hours. Finished 7th/8th of 141 players. +210% ROI (including buy-in, add-on, tip).

The Poker Mutant at the Final Table

Zero-Outer

Puffmammy 2010/11 Main Event (6,000 chips, 1 Re-Buy, 1 Add-On)

There was only a faint chance that I could make up the 42-point deficit in the league standings to retake the Player of the Year lead with this final game of the series and three things had to happen:

  1. At least eighteen players needed to show up to create a point spread wide enough to make it possible for me to catch DV.
  2. DV needed to go out before anyone else (with eighteen players) or very early (with more).
  3. I needed to take first place to pick up the extra bonus points awarded.

A few other scenarios were possible but incredibly unlikely. If we’d had 20 players, either first or second would have put me back on top if DV busted first; we would have needed 24 for me to do it with a third-place win.

As it was, although it looked like there were going to be 18 players a few hours before the event, a last-minute cancellation meant that the POY pot was out of reach. The unlikeliest of the three was DV going out early, because he hadn’t gone out first in any event all year, and had only gone out in second or third positions about one out of seven games. Naturally, last night was the night he re-bought first and busted out first.

As to item three, I got an early chip lead at the table, but then called an all-in from WA and my 8x8x were no good against his TxTx. It only busted me down to a little above the starting stack, which was better than some, but it presaged a series of bad calls and cards that ended up with me calling an all-in from KN (with I can’t remember what), that left me with a single 25 chip.

I sadly re-bought up to 3K and ran into difficulty once again, with KB sitting on a big stack of chips directly to my left. I’d lost a 1K chip almost immediately playing a suited gap card against a raise from T, but KB snapped things off with an all-in that I had to fold to.

The end snuck up on me. I had 67 on BB and got a couple of diamonds on the flop, then went all-in. KB called me and I hit the ace-high flush on the turn and thought I’d won, but another Ax made KB’s full house, which came crashing down around my ears and I was out for the night in eleventh place, even falling into third-place for the season behind KN, who took second in the Main Event behind KB who was moving up strongly as fourth.

Twenty-Three

Puffmammy Tournament 23 (1,700 chips)

Only one more regular game between last night’s game and the Main Event and I lost another point to D, putting me a nigh-insurmountable forty points behind on the leader board, so it looks like he’s a lock for the WSOP entry fee.

I was a little encouraged early on, when he had to rebuy in literally the first couple of hands after being busted out by K. There was an incredible amount of action early on compared to our usual game, it seemed.

I managed to build up a good stack of chips, twice with sets of fours—including chasing down to the river for my third to make a full house— but took a major hit when I pushed with KxKx and V on my right called with AxAx. Never recovered after that.

Two hours of play. Finished a meagre sixth out of seven.

Twenty-Two

Puffmammy Season 2010/11 Tournament 22 (1,700 chips)

Only seven players at the Catsino, and with just two regular events left in the season before the Main Event, D’s 39 point lead for the Player of the Year may be insurmountable. I was the first player to need to rebuy; my only consolation was that D only gained a point on me because he was the third player to be busted out, just ten minutes after I was knocked out second. I doubled up through him with a suckout on a heads-up Ax6x vs. AxTx battle then lost the chips soon to B. I guess that was consolation, too.

Tomer starts Day 2 of EPT Berlin tomorrow in about 50th place out of 350. I have less pleasant plans.

Suckouts

Puffmammy 2010/11 Quarterly Tournament 3

The race for the POY title has entered it’s make-or break period. After D’s win earlier in the week, he had a 33-point lead on me, which was 14% of his total points. There were only five events left in the season, with two of them being a quarterly and the Main Event final, both of which award double points. I haven’t made particularly good showings in them in the past, for some reason, and there was a lot of concern on my part that D would extend his lead past a point where I had any chance to catch up. N was still in the running, as well, only a point behind me after the last game.

The field was larger than we’d had in a while, which meant that even more points were going to be awarded to the top spots. Our table was dominated much of the evening by B, who’s only played with us a few times but who has a good cashing rate. He knocked out K early on and quickly put his doubled stack to work pushing people around. I got a taste of it with Ax9x. B was in the hand with myself and his wife No. The flop had A, but there were two other hearts, as well. The pot was good-sized on the turn with another Ax when I called No’s large bet, but B raised all-in and I couldn’t continue. No went all-in and showed the flush, B had just two pair, but the case Ax came on the river and I would have scooped it all if I’d stayed in (although quad aces would not have been the high hand for the night, there was a Jx-high straight flush on the other table in the first five minutes.

I won one hand that I shouldn’t have shortly after T, one of the new players from the other table, was moved next to me after a couple of knockouts. I pushed with 8x8x on a TxTx9x board and we were all-in before the river. T had me crushed with QxQx and I was going to be out relatively early since we were past the re-buy period. But another 8x came with the river and I sucked a big chunk of his chips away, leaving him to be preyed on by No a bit later.

I pulled down a bunch of chips from B with an Ax6x flush that he apparently didn’t think I had. At one point on the final table I was chip leader.

D was seated to my right as we got short-handed. He was getting a little antsy with a short stack and when I had TxTx he was all-in with a suited one-gapper. I was safe through the flop and turn and actually thought I’d won the hand at first but a 6x on the river made a straight for him and he sprang back to life instead of letting me gain on him gracefully.

I doubled up B, as well, and then I was the short stack going into the end game. My last hand was a club short of a flush, with D taking me out in third place. I fell another five points behind, but my usual showing at the quarterlies would have gained him another dozen or more points, so it could have been a lot worse.

Hansen, He’s So Hot Right Now

Talking with D a few months back, he mentioned that he and K—the only other person with a chance to win the POY title in our home series this year—had been talking together about how I’d improved, and compared my playing style to Gus Hansen. Personally, I was thinking  of myself as more of an old, fat Phil Laak, but I saw this paragraph in a report today and had to send it to them to see if perhaps it’s what they were thinking about subconciously:

Hansen’s profits over the past week have brought his 2011 earnings to a massive $4 million. However, the Danish poker pro is no stranger to fast starts. In both 2009 and 2010 Hansen opened with multi-million dollar wins in the first few months of the year, only to finish the respective calendar year in the hole.

Funding Third Place

Puffmammy Tournament 21 (1,500 chips)

Another grisly night as my three-month POY lead slips further into history. I had one premium pair the entire night, AxAx that I was in great position to call a series of three-bets leading to an all-in by G, to my immediate left. I had him covered, I had the best cards possible, and he was groaning when he saw what his KxKx was up against. Needless to say, another Kx showed on the flop and I was short-stacked. The other notable hand of the night I was holding KJ and that paired a Kx on the flop. Two other players (on a six-player table) had the other kings, one with a low kicker that gave him two pair on the flop, but 9x9x  on the turn counterfeited the lower pair and the pot went to the hand holding AxKx.

Two rebuys and an add-on only got me as far as 10th place out of 12. Third prize for the night equalled my contributions to the pot. D took first place and extended his POY lead substantially with a number of points for this one event equal to twice the points I’ve picked up in the past five events.

The Nines

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

I ended up entering this tournament twice. There were a total of 435 entries from 295 players. Looking at the payouts, it’s sort of sobering to see how the multi-entry format makes it possible to make it into the money but still be behind at the end. One ninth of the forty-five players who got payouts were anywhere from a couple cents to an entire buyin underwater.

My first entry came to a screeching halt fairly early with KA. I’d fallen to just over 1,000 chips and got some good cards in UTG+3, raising to 125, but got a call from the small blind. The flop was uncoöperative with 3T7 and I tried to push it with a 300 bet but got an all-in from the SB, who still had an inferior hand with their 89 but was in good shape with a larger stack. I called (obviously, or I wouldn’t know their cards) and a 6 made their straight on the turn.

I had a little better luck with the second entry (I don’t make them simultaneously) but it was AK that did me in after a bit longer session. I was in the small blind, UTG+3 limped in, I raised to 600 and it was down to me and the UTG+3 when he called. 4TT on the flop. I made the desperate move of going all-in and he called me—with more than 20K and 8T in his hand, who wouldn’t? I was out—twice!—first in 142nd place and then in 86th. 28 minutes total.

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

15 minutes. 140th place out of 264 entries.

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

7 minutes. 152nd place out of 223 entries. Not an improvement.

Full Tilt miniFTOPS Event #44 6-Max KO $350,000 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

Play started off slow for me in this game: at least, it felt slow compared to the Rush games. But I really do like the 6-Max format, and the fact that this had knockout bounties and a large purse made it very attractive to me, despite the rather ugly history of my previous miniFTOPS outing.

I’d only lost a hundred or so chips to blinds when I picked up my first win ten minutes into the game with KJ. There was 140 in the pot and a flop of K3K which three players checked around. Another 3 on the turn and I popped out 40 for a bet, getting one call from a player who’d already lost a couple thousand chips. The 9 meant nothing to my full house, so I matched the pot and got a callI don’t know why—from the other player, holding A7.

The same guy got into it with me on the next hand. I had A2 and I was heads-up after raising to 90 pre-flop. The flop was J77, and I bet 75 after a check from the other player. 3 on the turn and we both checked. I got a pair with the river A. He bet 105 and I just called. He could have had another 7x or an Ax with a higher kicker—it wouldn’t have been hard—but no, just T2. It baffled me but I took the chips. He was moved to another table shortly thereafter.

Twenty minutes into the match we were playing five-handed and, I got Q8 in the UTG+1/hijack seat. Sort of an iffy hand—not high enough to make a killer pair, tent ends of a straight—but it’s in The Grid for six-handed play. Blinds were 15/30, UTG folded, and I raised to 75. Small blind called and the flop made the hand iffy no longer: [1h]26. I bet 120 after SB checked, then he called. 8 on the turn and he led out with 180, which I re-raised to 360, getting a call. 4 on the river. He checked and I made a 300 chip bet hoping that seemed weak enough to lure him in. He called and showed 77. I was up over 6,400.

My first bounty came with a player who’d lost all but 600 of his chips half-an-hour in, most in a 3-way battle with him having AxTx double-paired against a guy who was playing a suited queen and drew to a flush (not me). I was in the small blind with 99. UTG and the small stack on the button limped in. I raised to 120, which was met by both the limpers. 386 was the flop and I figured I’d keep the gas on, fairly certain that the small stack was going all-in. UTG dropped out; the button raised all-in for 490. I called and he flipped over 77, which wasn’t good news for him. J and Q on the turn and river. Pushed me up to just about 7K.

More pocket pairs: JJ on the big blind. Button—big stack at the table—raised to 150 and I re-raised to 325. The flop was T67. I bet out 400 and got a call. 8 on the turn improved my hand to a straight draw, which I checked just for fun, provoking an 800 bet. Who wouldn’t call that? The river 3 didn’t make any difference, but I was a little concerned he might have a 9x. I checked and he did, too, but his A6 wasn’t going anywhere and I was the big stack at the table for the next hand, with over 7,600 chips.

The Mutant Jack showed up to propel me over 10K about 45 minutes in. I was in the cutoff position with JA at 30/60. Two players to my left had more chips than I did (both had been brought in from other tables). UTG raised to 180, hijack called, I called, small blind called. 780 in the pot when the 4QA flop showed. UTG bet 780, so I was guessing he had an Ax. I called (Did he have a Kx? Was he already double-paired?). T for the turn. He bet again: 420. I figured: “What the heck, it’s the Mutant Jack.” 7 river. A whole lot of potential double-paired kicker combos out there; he might not need to have anything better than the J. He bet another 600, I gulped and paid the price, but all he had was A2. I only had 10,017, so I didn’t stay above the line for more than a hand.

AT was my last hand before the first break, and I picked up about 500 chips with it, which got me back over the line by 50. I popped off a note to Tomer, who had just arrived in Austria for EPT Snowfest. At the break, the chip average was 6,900, there were 10,900 players (registration was still open), and I was in 1,188th place. Tomer wrote back that he was watching my table while he ate dinner. Yikes!

A quarter-hour after the break, I’d only won one hand—and that was just the blinds. I was down to about 9K when I picked up 7Q on the button. Everything I said about 8Q above goes double for this pair of cards, and it won’t even make the straight. But it is on The Grid for six players, so long as you don’t put too much faith in it. The blinds were 50/100 and hijack raised to 214. I called and the big blind came along. Both stacks were a good bit smaller than me. The flop was a semi-promising TJ4. BB checked, HJ bet 345, I called and BB folded. A K showed on the turn and HJ bet another 645. I had a straight and flush draw but nothing else. I called. 7 on the river, a bet of 1,245 from HJ. I folded and consoled myself with having an 80% win rate at showdown, but I was down to 7,900 chips.

I continued a steady, slow bleed of chips after that, at one point folding five hands in a row after putting out blinds or bets. I was down to 6,000 before I managed to turn things around with JJ that turned into trips on the flop. My real breakthrough came halfway through the second hour when I made the first of two big mistakes.

I was on the button with about 7,200 chips. Both the blinds (which were 80/160) had about 3,500. UTG and cutoff were both over 10K, and hijack had a few hundred more than I did. Both the big stacks stayed out of this hand, but HJ bet 324. With 99 in my hand, I raised to 560. Short-stacked big blind went all-in for 3,561. HJ folded but I thought BB was pushing with a strong ace. Calling would cost me half my stack if I lost but I did it, feeling very stupid when he flipped over QQ. The 653 flop was bleak, but the turn and river were 99 for some major suckage. Another bounty and I was up to 11K. I managed to get over 12K, but within 20 minutes I was back below the 8K mark.

Someone else’s nines didn’t fare so well against me just before second break. Blinds were 120/240/25 and I was on the button again, only with AA. UTG—with only about 2,500 chips—raised to 555. I re-raised to 1,080, the blinds got out of the way, and UTG called. The flop was K52, he checked, and I bet 480, fairly sure he was committed to going all-in. He did and I called. 99, but no miracle for him on the turn and river, just 24. That netted me 3K and put me back near 12K. I was falling further behind the leaders, though, with all of this up-and-down motion.

My last bounty came through no action of my own, shortly after the second break. I was big blind with A7, so I was playing, no matter what. Action folded all the way around to the small blind, who had only about 2,200. He went all-in and I called, with more than 9K behind. He flipped K3, the board ran out Q99A8, and I scooped his chips.

Another series of decent cards that didn’t connect followed that, and I’d slipped down to 9,200 twenty minutes after the second break. Blinds were 170/340/25, and I was on the big blind holding 43, which I would normally just toss. Hijack min-raised to 680, everyone else folded, and I thought I’d get fancy and play my low cards to see if they’d connect. We were almost evenly matched, with me having about 400 more chips. The flop was 223! I had a pair! I bet 1,680 (the pot) and got a re-raise for 8,090. I could have stopped there and saved my 6,800 chips but I called and he rolled over 44. If only my hand had been 2x3x. KJ on the turn and river. On my next and last hand I was one card away from a flush and a straight that would have ended in a split pot but my J8 was beat by a 5J that paired the first card on the flop.

140 minutes, 4 bounties, -38% ROI. Finished 6,311 out of 17,102 players.

It’s a busy week in the non-poker sphere but I’m watching Tomer’s progress at Snowfest today; tonight I’ll be trying to get my quest for the puffmammy POY back on track, and this weekend is one of our double-point quarterly events.

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.