A Tale of Two $10Ks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six hours. 19th of 84 entries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moved again after just twenty minutes.

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

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

55 players left at three hours and twenty minutes.

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

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

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

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

Ill-Timed

I keep going back to The Final Table despite the fact that the only time I’ve ever cashed there was in the Santa Bounty game last Christmas. My ITM there is truly horrible, unless you limit it to events with 50 or more players, and then my rate’s pretty much the same as it is anywhere else in town with 50 or more players. The only event I cashed in there, I made it to the final table of 131 players. These two games show a screw-up and just plain bad luck.

The Final Table $1,000 Guarantee (T7,000)

Started off with the extra T1,000 because I signed up on-time. Picked up KT UTG with a flush draw on the flop of A2A and hit my flush with 5 on the turn but it made a full house for my opponent who called with Ax5x.

Made a least flush on the flop with A3 and took down a T3,000 pot about twenty minutes into the game, then went up against KxQx with KxTx and top pair on the flop. We both drew down to four spades on the board, which kept the pot smaller since neither of us had one. I was holding T8,350 after that hand.

9T and I made a jack-high straight on the turn. I bet 650 and shoved over a re-raise to felt a player half-an-hour in. T12,150 and I got moved to a newly-opened table.

Forty minutes into the game, I called 1,600 early with JxTx. Two pair on the flop and a full house on the river and I tripled up against two all-ins. Then I lost T6,000 almost immediately as SB drawing for a flush with 35. QxTx made a full house on the turn. Three-quarters of an hour into the game and I was still sitting on T28,125, with the chip average at just T7,655.

Kicked myself a bit for folding Jx6x when I would have double-paired on the flop and hit a river boat in a hand with two players all-in.

Played JxQx and raised to 600, calling a re-raise to 1,800 pre-flop, then folding to an all-in on the 3x3x[x] flop. Down to T24,800.

Lost several thousand with Q7 against 8x9x on a flop of 6x7x8x. I had trips on the turn, but a Tx river card made his straight.

Ten minutes later, I lost more than half my stack with KxKx again, calling an all-in against pocket sixes that made a set on the flop. I went into the break with just T7,825. The add-on more than doubled me up.

I called with 74 and hit the 9x7x6x flop lightly. I bet 1,100 and got a call then hit my 4x on the turn and managed to get an all-in called to take it down with two pair. That put me back up to T27,700, with the average at T17,733.

Raised to 1,000 from UTG2 with A9. The flop was 727 and I folded to a 2,500 bet.

Two hours in on BB with Q3 and the flop was all diamonds. I called the bets down to the river to see another diamond and bet 2,300 to win without a showdown.

T33,525 at two hours and five minutes.

Raised with AT to 1,200 and got four calls. Everyone checked it to the river which turned up a king. The BB won.

I raised to 1,500 from CO with QT and got an uncomfortable Ax96 flop, then folded to a 2,500 bet.

My next BB I had AxKx and re-raised to 3,800 from 800, getting an all-in from SB, which I called. He had 9x9x, the flop was AxJx[8] and the rest of the cards didn’t matter.

Two-and-a-half hours in and I was up to T34,450. Then I lost a chunk with J5 against KxQx. I was ahead on the JxAx8x flop but running tens gave him Broadway. Ten minutes later, my stack was at T28,800 (average T26,600), there were 20 players left, with 17 re-buys and 29 add-ons.

With 45 from BB, I saw a Kx2x2x flop then called a bet of 3,200 after the five on the turn. Another 1,200 went down the hole calling 1,200 on the river six. I was out soon after with Ax9x against KxKx.

Three hours. 17th of 33 players.

This Is Not My Beautiful Full House

Encore Club $25,000 Guarantee Freezeout (12,000 chips)

My best results in tournaments have been at Encore, and I was hoping this game would give my bankroll a little boost before the summer tournament season got into high gear. But like the last Encore $25K, I was gone early.

I quickly lost 450 playing 6xTx, hitting the ten as the high card on the flop and going up against AxTx. Just fifteen minutes into the game, I called 600 with JxTx and folded to a bet and eventual all-ins on the 4x9x3x flop. Kx turn card was the one the eventual winner wanted to see, because it gave him a higher set than the 9x9x of the original bettor, but Qx on the river would have made my straight the best hand.

I stuck it out to the end with straight and flush draws on 58 but didn’t get there, and twenty minutes into the game I was already down to 9,300. I slid another 1,100 down the drain with Ax2x drawing to a wheel.

Ax2x on BTN lost me chips again when I two pairs came on the board but my opponent made a full house with a full house. Half an hour and I was nearly 5,000 chips.

Finally, I won a pot with KT, hitting two diamonds and a ten-high flop, with another diamond on the turn, gaining about 2,000 chips.

I bided my time and lost the ground I’d regained with a missed nut flush draw and A9. Then I busted a short(er) stack with 8x8x against AxQx, turned around and lost 1,200 on the next hand calling with Jx9x. I hit middle pair but folded to a post-flop bet. Even with the knockout I only had 8,725 chips just before the first hour ended.

Right on the hour mark, I was BB and picked up KxKx. There was a raise and several calls ahead of me but I wanted to get value and just called. Unfortunately, while the flop gave me top set, it was entirely diamonds. A player at the other end of the table bet 1,000, SB called, and I shoved with about 7,500 left, hoping that I might scare off a weak flush or flush draw, or that I could catch a board pairing to make my full house. The original post-flop bettor folded but SB called with A9, the last two cards didn’t pair the board, and I was out on the hour.

One hour. Alternates were still being seated.

The Final Table $1,000 Guarantee (7,000 chips)

I took the poison pot on the first hand with 5x7x, making two pair by the turn. I bet 200 and got two calls. Two queens rolled out on the turn and river, counterfeiting my fives, but my two pair was still the best and I won.

Called 250 pre-flop with J8 and called the re-raise to 450 but with a 9x8x6x flop I folded to the next bet.

A 3x4x in the BB made it to the flop and paired the four. Suited cards started to show up and by the river I had a baby flush with the trey. A small bet seemed to be enough for everyone else, because I won. All that, and a dozen minutes into the game I was up a grand total of 300 chips.

Then I got KxJx and blew 1,150 drawing for a queen to make Broadway, putting me down 900 from the starting stack twenty minutes in.

With 5x5x in SB, I called a 150 bet post-flop but folded after the turn when there were four overs. I got a little of it back with KxJx, betting at a Jx2x2x flop. I was sliding, though, with 6,050 at the half-hour mark, and 5,650 five minutes later.

With J2, I called a pre-flop raise to 250 along with three others. The flop was Ax3xAx and I bet at it, bluffing everyone off the hand.

Called a 250 raise with 36 and got an open-ended straight draw with a flop of Kx4x5x. Went out on a limb calling a post-flop re-raise of 1,750 but was rewarded with a 2x on the turn. I shoved and was called by Kx8x, which finally put me over the starting stack again, with 13,750 at 50 minutes into the game.

Taking notes on that hand, I didn’t notice action come around to me on the next as BTN and I was flustered enough by the two all-ins ahead of me that when I looked at AxKx I folded it rather than get into what looked to be a bloody battle. I figured it was likely a couple of players had aces, I would have been putting most of my stack (if not all) at risk, so I thought not. I should have throughout it through, better, though. As it was, none of the players had premium hands, none of them had anything higher than a king, and it was a pair of kings in the hand of the guy I’d just doubled up against that took the pot. I’d had all three stacks covered. My ace kicker would have taken out three players. Another instance of failing to pull the trigger.

I called 1,100 with Qx9x but folded it to a post-flop bet, then put in another 825 on K3 to call a raise and had to fold to 2 all-in pre-flop bets.

Raised to 600 from BTN with A3 and got called by the blinds to see a 8x7xQx flop. A bet of 700 won the pot and put me at 12,700 just past the one-hour mark. Then I lost just about everything with 8T when my eight paired the top card on the board and I fell to a set of fives. I was done in when AxTx called my all-in with AxJx.

One hour and twelve minutes. 21st of 27 entries.

Fooling Around In Omaha

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By break 2, I’d hit 140,000.

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

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

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

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

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

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

N Took My Chips

No, the Poker Mutant hasn’t gone into hibernation, although with a trip to the doctor and the snow and the vagaries of the work schedule, I haven’t had as much time to devote to updating the blog as I’d promised myself I would. There’s a half-finished article in my bag on the mathematics behind teams of players entering tournaments that I need to get done.

The day before my last post, I beat the rest of the field in my home league game, picking up some valuable points toward the Player of the Year prize of a WSOP buy-in. More importantly, since I’m still in second place and the season is drawing to an end, I knocked out KB—the current POY leader—before any of the other players, maximizing the value of the points I earned.

Ten dry days went by before I made another hit, this time in the morning free roll at Portland Players Club. There were six of us at the final table, and one player had about a third of the chips in play when a deal was made to give her a big chunk of the prize pool and split the rest. Not a lot of money but some profit.

I hadn’t played the Aces Players Club $5,000 guarantees on Fridays or Saturdays at noon before, but the results-oriented opinion is that I like them a lot. I was doing reasonably well by break two. The structure allows two re-buys, which can be purchased at any time in the first levels and stacked on top of each other, so it’s possible to enter the game with 30,000 in chips, akin to a Triple Barrel PLO game but where you have to pay for extra stacks. I just bought in once, but I was up to 38,100 at the second break, with the chip average several thousand lower than that.

I caught an incredible break about 45 minutes into the fourth hour after raising with KQ from middle position when a player in BB pushed all-in. I called and was heads-up  against AxAx and practical elimination, but another ace on the turn made Broadway for me and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as disgusted a look on a player’s face. It pushed my up to 89,500 chips (total chips in play after the add-on was 1.78 million).

I started knocking out players with things like A8 pairing the eight as the high card on an all-diamond flop. At the end of four hours there were only 30 of the original 70 or so entries and I was over 100,000 chips. Twelve places we’re scheduled to be paid.

A huge knockout half an hour in pushed me over 200,000 chips, and another at the five-hour mark meant 260,000. By break three we were only four from the money (two, once a decision to pay two bubbles was agreed on).

I lost a 60k chunk calling an all-in with AT on a 6x8x4x flop when Ax8x made it, but then knocked out two players at once with TxTx (which had been working well for me all game). I called two all-ins, they had KxQx and KxJx and none of the cards on the board were above a jack. I was sitting on a stack of 430,000 chips, about 23% of the chips in the game with 10 players left.

The final table bubble took a while to play out. After we consolidated, I lost a couple of calls for all-ins but made my way back both times until we were down to five players. After doubling another player up for over 100,000, I still had the chip lead, but agreed to an even chop so I could get to the $10K at Encore. I think the stack below is about 600,000 chips. The full stacks are ten-high, the yellow are 25,000, the gray are 10,000, the red are 5,000 and the pink are 1,000.

Over at Encore, I got into the game shortly before the end of the second level (I hate coming in late). I’d forgotten that the levels are longer and that I could have bought in for another hour, or I might have played out the Aces game to the end. Something to consider but I still hate coming in late.

I got off to a good start right off the bat, pushing up over 16,000 in short order, then got cut down by N (who told me the other day he thought he played like a pro—although I thought at first he said “fool”—then again he spent part of another game one day trying to convince people I was Howard Lederer’s cousin) who rivered a flush against my paired AxKx. With  4,900 left, I managed to chip up a little bit until I hit two pair playing 86 and N hit a straight with 79 on the river. No re-buys!

Plays Well With Others

Aces Players Club Noon $1,500 Guarantee

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pulling the Trigger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another Round

Carbon Poker Super Bowl Pick-the-Winner $5,000 Freeroll

All you had to do to get an entry into this freeroll was to pick the winner of the Super Bowl, and since I know nothing about sports I figured I had a 50/50 chance of getting a ticket. The early buzz I’d heard had the Giants as the underdogs, so I picked them, figuring that the field might be smaller if more folks were choosing the likely winner. And New York won, so I got my ticket.

Amazingly enough, for a freeroll with a $1,300 first prize, the game wasn’t even half full. The four-times-daily $200 freerolls on Merge have fields of 5,000—even the HORSE tournament gets more than 2,000 every day—but this event was capped at 2,000 and only had 712 entries. Either it wasn’t advertised very well (although I saw it) or everybody picked the Patriots.

This game followed a typical trajectory for me: a zoom to the top, followed by a crashing defeat.

My first success (A on the graphic) came just five hands in, with the hand known here in Portland as “The Butcher”: TQ (not specifically those two cards, but any QT combo). I was in CO and raised to 50 after one limper. The BB and limper came along. The 94J flop gave me the open-ended straight draw, and after a bet of 160 from the limper I just called in position. BB folded. The 8 turn card made my nut straight. The limper bet into it for 480 and I shoved for 1,760, which he called leaving only 30 behind. He was drawing dead, with JK for just top pair. If he’d been suited in hearts, I would have been gone with the A on the river, but instead I picked up a pot of 4,000 chips, double the starting stack. I was tournament chip leader.

Two hands later as UTG3 (B), I snagged TT. UTG 2 raised to 70, I re-raised to 220. BTN called, the blinds folded, UTG2 shoved. Both UTG2 and BTN were below the starting stack value; if I lost with my pocket pair I’d just be at starting stack again. I went all-in and BTN was all-in, showing 9J. UTG2 had two overs to my pair: AQ, and was statistically slightly favored over me (41% v 38%) with the third player involved (who had a 21% chance). The flop was mercifully low: 574. Another 7 broke the possibility of a backdoor diamond flush, then a 3 on the river solidified my knockout of both players. At 7,680 chips, I was the tournament leader on hand seven.

It only lasted a short time. On hand 15 (C) I had KJ in HJ. Action folded to me, I raised to 75, CO re-raised to 240, the blinds got out of the way, and I called. The flop was perfect: 4KJ. I was ahead of aces. I checked to see how much he’d commit and he bet 393. I shoved way over the top for 7,710 and he called off the rest of his stack for a total of 2,210, showing that he did indeed have AA. I was 69% good. Until the A on the turn, of course. Then I was drawing dead. Still, I was in the top chip stacks in the tournament, with 5,500, nearly three times the start, just ten minutes in.

I lost a little ground for a while after that setback, going as low as 3,650 chips over the next thirty-five hands. Then I got 97 in UTG1 (D) and raised to 120. HJ called me and we were heads-up at the flop. 9T3 gave me middle pair and I bet 250, getting a call. 8 turn set me up for another straight draw and I bet 600 into the 830 pot. HJ shoved for 2,551. I really didn’t think he’d hit the board; I risked all but 1,300 chips to make the call and see his 55. He was drawing pretty thin. The river was 6, which actually made my straight, unnecessary as it was. I was back in contention, although not in the uppermost chip ranks.

Another fifty hands went by before I made another jump (E). It came in a series of three hands about an hour and fifteen minutes into the game. Blinds were 100/200, I was UTG1 with 57 and limped after a fold from UTG. HJ limped, but BTN pushed all-in for 1,880. The blinds folded. I had both the all-in and the other limper covered by about 4,000 chips. I didn’t figure the limper would enter the action after me, so I called. The limper folded and I was heads-up against JA. Isn’t the Mutant jack my hand? It appeared as if it was, because right away there was a flush draw on the board with 92T; I was actually slightly ahead. K for the turn gave him the Broadway draw and flipped the odds back to 65%/34% in his favor. Then I hit the second-to-the-least pair with 7 on the river and made another knockout.

A player who’d joined the table twenty hands earlier with under 1,500 chips had been hanging on despite the 100/200 blinds by going all-in. I hadn’t felt able to call, even when I’d raised pre-flop. Just after beating the Mutant Jack, I was SB with JT and finally called his all-in of 930. Another limper who was the only stack larger than me at the table called. The flop was QT9 giving me the open-ended straight draw and second pair. UTG2 and I both checked to the 9 turn and 6 river. UTG2 missed the flush with A8 and the best hand was the short stack’s QK. I’d come to regret not having called to see if I could have knocked that stack out earlier.

The next hand proved lucrative, however. On BTN with 6A and just over 8,000 chips, I limped in after the big stack (10,500+ in UTG1) and BB. I made middle pair on the 746 flop and after it was checked around to me, I shoved. He called with the nut flush draw Ax3x but two spades showed up on the turn and river, so I doubled up to over 16,770 and was back in the top stacks in the tournament. Two pair with The Butcher on the next hand knocked out another player put me up to 19,000 chips, then I picked another 500 off the guy who’d doubled me up, leaving him with just over 2,000 chips. My attempt to take him out a few hands later would double him up when KJ missed against his 88.

I managed to climb (with ups and downs of 2,000 to 3,000 chips) to 22,600 before I hit a big snag (F). Both the stacks I’d doubled up above had managed to climb up to 11,000+ chips. The first-mentioned (who’d joined the table with 1,500 chips) shoved from UTG1 and I called him from UTG2. A short stack in CO called all-in, and it was AK (short stack) v 88 (doubled-up stack) v QJ (me). The board almost ran out a straight with 36742 that would have been topped with one of the eights. That loss just about cut me in half, and put the former short stack over 25,000.

I got back into the top thirty spots about 15 hands later with AJ on the button (G). Blinds were 250/500/50 and HJ shoved for 9,500 after all action folded to him. The stack I’d doubled up between us folded, SB had about 3,500 chips and BB had 15,500. I shoved and they both folded; HJ showed JJ and I was on the wrong end of a 70%/30%  showdown. The A showed up on the flop, though, and my opponent was down to hoping for that last jack to show up, which it didn’t. So I popped back up to where I’d been eight minutes before. A strong bet after I made second-nut flush not long after put me within spitting distance of 30,000 chips (H). That lasted all of two hands (I). I had AQ in UTG2 at 300/600/75. UTG folded. UTG1 was the short stack that had climbed back from under 1,000 to 25,000 now. He limped in and I raised to 2,000, which he was the only player to call. The flop was 926, I had position on him and he went all-in. I’d suspected him of shoving light on a lot of his road to recovery, so I followed along for all but 3,000 of my chips. Then he flipped over 9T and I had just a 22% chance of not being crippled. The 9 showed on the turn and I was doomed. He had 52,000 chips and the tournament lead. I didn’t last long after that (J), ending up seventy places out of the money after going all-in with TK. QA won that hand.

The tournament went on for another three hours. Both the small stack who’d risen to 50,000 and the player I’d knocked down to 2,000 with a double-up made the final table.

Two hours, 183 hands. 98th of 712 players.

Encore Club $10,000 Guarantee

I’ve really got to try to come up with some better way of recording what’s going on in live games. I don’t know if it was the lesson taught to me by the loss of the lead in the noon online game or what, but I somehow managed to once again make it to the end of a $10K at Encore. What I do remember is that one player—who looked sort of like a drunk Nathan Lane—kept shoving over my raises and that eventually, once we were at the point where the payouts were over $1,000, I called him with Qx8x. He showed Ax4x but I hit the queen on the flop and sucked a couple hundred thousand in chips into my stack (the picture below is about 250,000).

He had a friend with him who kept trying to help stack his chips for him and who he kept kicking. I was tempted to ask that only players and staff be seated at the table, but I held my tongue. Around 3:30am, everyone was still within a range of a 200,000 chips, the blinds were 8,000/16,000/3,000 and a chop for a little over $2,400 each was proposed and accepted. And once again, I forgot to take a picture of the screen.

It’s off to The Palazzo for a couple days of the 2012 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza I for me. I’ll be posting Twitter updates @pokermutant.

Here’s the official screen capture of the end of the tournament.

Eight-and-a-half hours. +465% ROI. Four-way chop with 69 entries.

Take the Hint

Portland Players Club $250 Guarantee

My first hand was a decent KJ and I bet it strong pre-flop, only to have the cards show up midd-of-the-road and black. I kept betting and one other player followed along, but I gave up after the turn put a spade draw on the board and there was nothing for my diamonds to stick to.

The next flop, on the other hand, came out KxJxJx, which would have been great with my first hand but was considerably less so with my Kx6x. I stayed through to the turn 3x when the betting got very heavy, only to watch Kx drop on the river to give me the nuts if I’d stayed in. The winner had 3x3x in her hand and had made her smaller house on the turn; the loser had QxTx and missed a straight that would have lost anyway.

Still, TxTx looked pretty good for my third hand, and I bet it, going heads-up and all-in after the AxTxJx flop. My opponent showed AxJx for top two, then we both made full houses on the river with another Ax. Lucky me. I re-bought as I was moved to another table, despite comments that perhaps I should listen to the poker gods and call it off for the day.

I really should have. I struggled for a while, then chipped up after the break a bit, then lost a big chunk to DL and was down to just 1,500 with blinds at 200/400. I managed to build back up to several thousand before the table broke, and grab a couple of sets of blinds (shoving with 79, for instance) once I got there. Kicked myself on one hand when I was on the verge of shoving with 24. I didn’t, I know I would have gotten called by the much bigger stacks that chose to get involved, and I would have hit a winning flush on the river. ATC. Instead, I went all-in with AxQx a few hands later and was called by AxKx in the big blind. Got a king and a couple of tens on the board, but no jack.

Two hours. -100% ROI. 18th of 32 players.

What Has It Got In Its Pocketses?

Portland Players Club $250 Freeroll

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

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

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

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

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

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

2011/12 Puffmammy Poker Tour Event #16

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aces Players Club Shootout

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

Twenty minutes. -50bb.