Look Back In Poker

Everybody’s always asking
Why do what I do
I don’t gamble ’cuz I want to win, boys
I gamble ’cuz I need to lose

This was the year I didn’t go to Vegas.

I announced last fall that I was retiring from poker at the end of 2018, then got a lot of funny looks from people when I started showing up at tournaments three weejs after I retired. It wasn’t ever supposed to be an absolute thing, but I did scale back my poker playing to spend more time with the family, specifically, my wife, who retired on January 1st. And I did.

I played 95 live tournaments in 2018, and only 53 in 2019. There was a starker comparison in the first half of each year, because in 2019 I played only 14 live tournaments between January and June, where I’d played 37 in 2018. Online, I was still fairly active, with 388 tournaments in 2018 only going down to 306 in 2019, but half of the 2019 tournaments were Jackpot Sit-and-Gos, hyper-turbo, 3-player tournaments that tend to last less than 10 minutes, so they weren’t exactly eating up the time an MTT would. 3% ROI playing mostly $7 entries but also some $2, $15, and $20 games. Never saw a jackpot higher than 5x the buy-in.

After playing 85 of the nightly Thousandaire Maker tournaments on Ignition Poker last year, I entered 16 Thousandaire Makers in 2019 (cashed 2, for a -14% ROI).

I had my second-largest career cash ($10K) in this first year of my retirement, which—at the end of November—had me as #28 on the Poker Media Power Rankings, right between two of the actual poker journalists I worked with at the World Series two years ago.

In 2018, I made two brief trips too Las Vegas—in the summer and just before New Year’s, but I didn’t leave the Northwest at all (for poker) in 2019. My first experience as a player at the World Series of Poker was in 2012, I was down for short periods at least once during the summer each year until 2018 (and for a pretty long period in 2016) even when I wasn’t playing a WSOP event); now that’s retired.

Just one third the number of tournaments at Final Table this year (13 vs. 41 in 2018), even though it was the final year of my free door fees there (part of the payment for doing their web site a couple of years back, and a real steal in no-rake Portland). I played a couple more tournaments this year at Portland Meadows (14 in 2019 vs. 11 in 2018) because of the Grand Finale series.

You might think that the second-best career cash would be my best ROI in a tournament this year, but at 1800%, that was just over half the ROI from an Ignition $4K GTD NLHE Turbo where I took 4th of 471, for ROI of 3100%. I had five other tournaments where I cashed for more than a 1000% ROI.

Wins this year included a 66-player Ignition $500 GTD PLO8 Turbo, first in a chop in a Final Table $10K GTD NLHE (83 entries), the Chinook Winds $50K GTD NLHE (technically second, but I got a skosh more money, 210 entries), and a bunch of Jackpot Sit-and-Gos.

As usual, I didn’t play much in the way of cash games, but a couple of decent sessions at Portland Meadows were enough to make that part profitable.

Goals in the new year: satellite into a $5K or $10K buyin. I’ve got my eye on the Bay 101 Shooting Star (which has satellites running this month and February) or the LAPC/WPT Main Event at the end of February, with two 50-Seat guaranteed mega satellites just before Day 1. Then, of course, there’s the WSOP Main Event.

Love to goto the Irish Poker Open in March, but there are some obstacles in the way that make it easier to try for Bay 101 or LAPC instead. PokerStars hasn’t announced that there’ll even be and EPT Prague next year, so that ship may have sailed.

Hapy New Year!

@pokermutant Twitter Account on Restriction

UPDATE: It took an entire weekend—the weekend where the Mike Postle/Stones Gambling Hall cheating scandal broke, nonetheless—but the account did come off restriction the morning of 30 September.

For some reason known only to the folks at Twitter, my @pokermutant account has been restricted since about Friday (27 September) at 8pm. No indication that it’s been hacked or that I did something untoward, though my last tweet was about the Bellagio 5 Diamond series, and I’d been discussing Galaxy Quest with Dara O’Kearney. That didn’t seem so offensive at the time, but I guess it was.

I just get routed to a page telling me to confirm my phone number, saying it’ll send me a text message, but I tried that so many times while I was playing the Friday night Final Table $10K GTD NLHE that eventually Twitter said I was restricted from doing that, too, even though I never got a message. Tried changing my passsword, which means I’m going to have to update it on the numerous devices where I use it, but I’m still restricted. Not the greatest timing for a reason I’m going to sit on until I can tweet again.

2019 Chinook Winds Fall Coast Poker Classic — Day 5

My plan to do daily updates about the events here took an early hit, but in a good way, as the five of you reading the blog already know.

Sunday (seems like so far away at this point) started off well. There was a 10-Seat GTD Main Event Satellite at 1pm (no 11am game because of the restart for the $125K from Saturday).

There was a decent turnout for the satellite, which was good for the series after the overlays in the three events Saturday). I did reasonably well and picked up a voucher.

That wrapped up in almost exactly four hours, with 18 of the 80 entries getting seats.

The satellite ended just as the $50K GTD tournament was starting. There had been a nearly $20K overlay on Saturday, and I was sort of expecting that Sunday might be more of a bath for Chinook, but by the time registration closed, they’d just met the guarantee.

I busted in the second level, if I remember correctly—things are already getting a bit hazy—and rebought. 99 < AK, even though I’d had pocket aces twice in an orbit. So I needed to make 18th place to break even on the event. It took nearly six hours of play for me to get any traction; I flopped a set of kings against king-queen to double up, which put me over average for the first time.

I cockroached along for three more hours, getting progressively shorter as we approached the bubble. There was a long period there where it seemed like every all-in won, so the other short stacks just slipped down the ladder a little more. A couple of gross situations where king-jack shoved and was called by the table leader with king-queen, with a jack on the flop. Then he had another chunk taken out on the next hand (maybe not as gross as the guy in the $125K who lost with aces twice in short succession to break his big stack).

I finally got back over chip average with queens over jacks at the eight-hour mark, with four players to go before the money. We had a redraw at three tables just a few minutes before the bubble broke, which went by so fast that I completely missed the announcement and had to verify that we were in the money with Matt Moring, who was running the day’s show.

The rest of the event is kind of a blur. Maybe it was the fact I’d been playing more or less constantly for 14 hours, maybe it was the Long Island Iced Tea I allowed myself when we were down to two tables and someone else was buying. I do know that I got incredibly lucky. More than once.

We made the final table just after 3am, but it took almost an hour to get from 9 to 7 players. We were down to 5 when I lost a bit of ground calling a short stack who shoved seven-eight with my pair of sevens. The river was both an eight and made him a flush, but I survived.

Incredibly enough, chopping was never really brought up as we continued on into the early hours. We lost three players in the half-hour between 4:30am and 5am, so it was just me and Olympia’s John Gribben. That was when I proposed a chop.

I’m reasonably confident in my heads-up ranges and strategies, but at 5am,who knows? There were 3.3M chips in play between us, but the blinds were still only 20K/40K, so we had over 80bb between us, so it could have gone on for quite a while and I was really looking forward to playing the 6-Max. Which started in just six hours.

It says Event 2 but this was really Event 5

So John and I chopped. After we’d agreed, I asked for the champion photo, since I was pretty sure I had a slight chip lead. John said he wanted it, because he’d never had one. I hadn’t either, but Matt said he’d take one of both of us, and when John said he wanted to hold seven-deuce as his winning hand, I figured he might not mind if I did the old antenna trick. So congrats to the both of us!

I got back to the motel about 5:30, didn’t manage to get to sleep until after 6. Then daybreak hit and I needed something to drink at 7, and couldn’t get back to sleep despite trying. So it was off to the 6-Max (after a trip to the bank, thank you Chinook Winds for taking debit cards for buyins) where I was a little light-headed from both adrenaline and lack of sleep, but had a very good time as people ribbed me about talking so much about the night before. Or early morning.

The 6-Max was going well and I made it down to about 40th place, then played one of those small blind hands because of an ace and a couple of limps that you would have thrown away in any other position. I was about 40bb deep with Nick “Wonka” Getzen on my left, with ace-three and I called behind the limpers. Nick checked and the flop was something like ace-X-five. Nick and I got involved through to the river with a jack and queen coming and—not believing he had an ace at that point—I shoved. He seemed to really consider folding, and I knew I was in real trouble when he was musing about whether I could have somehow caught an ace-jack. He did eventually call with the ace-five, and I went to the showers.

I ran into Toma Barber at the break before the end of entries. I met Toma here at Chinook Winds six years ago before the casino decided it could do a better job than the Deepstacks Poker Tour. He was sitting next to me as a short stack on Day 1 of the first $1K+ buyin tournament I cashed (though it was a min-cash). Toma went on to take sixth.

I asked if he was in the 6-Max and he said he was waiting for the freezeout in the evening, so in a flush of cash and haze of fatigue, I bought him in. As before he made it deeper than me, though not quite to the money. My fifth-ever stacking adventure!

That was it for me on Monday. I got a nice dinner at the casino steakhouse overlooking the beach and headed for some sleep.

Tuesday was back to more losing. I had a great breakfast with Toma at 60’s Cafe & Diner  then went back to my room before walking down the beach back to the casino. I went up to the cash area and got into the 2/4 O8 game. I sat next to the dealer in seat 1, but then the guy in seat 2 moved away from me and I started to wonder if it was the fact that it had been pretty warm out on the beach. I stayed for 90 minutes to donate a hundy, then had to catch a ride back to the hotel to shower and change because there wasn’t enough time before the HORSE tournament to walk. Not the plan but you need to adapt.

Fresh once again, I set my sights to HORSE, but fizzled out on a hand where I had a pretty good draws but the guy on my left had even better draws and a better hand in the end. Disappointing to bust before the payouts were even posted when I’d skipped the Senors tournament in the morning.

After that, it was time for another shot at a High Roller satellite. Once again it missed the number of players needed to justify the 4-Seat guarantee. Made it about halfway through but nowhere near the vouchers.

Does that catch us up? Plan for the day is my dad’s arriving in town this morning. 1pm is the Omaha Hi-Lo tournament. 5pm is another High Roller satellite (which I hope to not be in).

2019 Chinook Winds Fall Coast Poker Classic — Day 1

And we’re back! At least for a week.

I’ve rarely had the confluence of having time and money to do a full schedule at a series. For most of the time I was playing poker intensely, I was always on the edge of being broke (well, really,was broke), playing little daily tournaments, building up some money, then blowing it on a shot at something that rarely paid off. Or getting my car servied. Bankroll management is more difficult when your life and poker bankrolls (such as they are) are intertwined.

For instance, a year-and-a-half ago, when I had my largest-ever cash here at Chinook Winds, I used a big chunk of it to pay off my property taxes, paid income taxes on another big chunk, then had to replace a water heater that decided to go out the next week. Stuff starts adding up.

This series, though, I had vacation time from work available, ready cash from (among other things) buying a piece of Molly Mossey’s action at EPT Barcelona and chopping a $10K at Final Table back in July.

So I’ve been anticipating this series maybe a little too much. The last week at the office, I could feel my mind drifting (more than usual) as I counted down the hours. Anyway, I headed out to Lincoln City first thing Saturday morning for the 11am start of Event #1 $125K GTD NLHE, a $290 buyin with a $100 addon and rebuys through the sixth 40-minute level.

Busted my first bullet about 10 minutes into the second level when I got into a raising way with a pair of tens against an aggressive player a couple of seats on my right after a low flop. We both had an over pair to the board all the way to the river, and his was jacks.

Attendance was a bit light, there was concern that the guarantee might be quite short, but it turned out the $125K wasn’t the real problem for the first day.

A re-entry went a bit better, and I went to the dinner break with an above-average stack, in part due to knocking out First Friend of the Blog Brad Press. That didn’t last that long, however, and I played most of the rest of that tournament in the 10bb zone. Jacks were my bane for the night; I shoved with a pair myself and got called by ace-king, which hit on the flop.

Contrary to expectations, the tournament hit the money on the first day, just short of the scheduled end of play, at 45 players. They broke the bubble, then drew to determine the number of hands before bagging near the end of the 4K/8K level.

The place where the overlay was really a concern was in the 5pm $50K GTD NLHE. I registered this one only about 40 minutes before the second break (with registration open through the 30-minute break). There were only about 100 entries, in a $220 buyin tournament that had a $100 addon. You can do the math.

Brad Press, center

This was a hard game for me. Aside from the fact I came in shorter than I like (but the overlay looked so juicy!), I had the longest period of total card-deadness I can remember in quite a long time (Brad has said something to the effect he’s never seen someone get so many pairs of aces in a game.) But it’s a statistical possibility (something I wrote about for PokerNews a few years back), and just something you have to swallow. Jammed king-queen with about 8bb left, and the big blind woke up with ace-queen.

Running at 8pm most of the nights through the week is a $230 buyin satellite for Friday’s High Roller ($2,500 buyin). Again, a late entry didn’t exactly help. I made it down to two tables (sort of, they miscounted the number of players on three tables and consolidated, then had one guy wandering around until someone busted).

So, a long day with nothing—or rather less than nothing—to show for it. Tournament poker at its finest!

Today’s schedule includes a 10-Seat GTD tournament for the Main Event next weekend at 1pm (the first event started at 11 this morning, GL Steve Myers!) I plan to play that then jump into the $50K GTD that’s due to start at 5pm (that should be interesting if yesterday’s is any indication). Then there’s another High Roller satellite at 8 (which I hope to be too busy to play). And I hear there’s cash games!

Following Molly — EPT Barcelona Day 3


I worked briefly with Molly Anne Mossey during my stint as a poker reporter at the Word Series of Poker back in 2016, and following her career arc—mostly via Twitter, but every now and then in a news article with Jacki Burkhart—since then, I was impressed enough to consider something I have only done three times in the past: buying action. So I sent a couple of quick messages and shipped her enough to cover the 5% she was offering on her part of the EPT Barcelona Main Event.

I’ve had pretty good luck with my stakes in the past. Years ago, I bought a friend into a game at Encore Club just after he’d been laid off because I could sympathize. That didn’t pay off, but the next time he was selling action, I took a 10% piece of a Muckleshoot main event and got a min-return out of it. Then I had a bit of Jacki’s Poker Night in America cash game winnings, which made my overall action profit about even.

It was all dwarfed by buying 5% (with markup) of Molly’s €5,300  ($5,875) EPT buyin. But by 1pm our time today, it had panned out. Molly had a tough start on Day 1B, but she had a couple of doubles—including one just before the end of the day—that put her back over starting stack. So I’m stoked! There are 191 players left from the field of 1,988, Molly’s already made a couple of pay jumps, and despite a rough last level of Day 2, she’s bank on chip average going into Day 3.

Here’s her table draw for the start of the day, in case you would like to follow along with Molly today (watch live on YouTube or Twitch):

51Timur MargolinIsrael72,00012
Margolin has nearly $2M in tournament earnings on Hendon Mob, and is the holder of a WSOP bracelet from 2018 in a $2,500 NLHE tournament. He has another from the 2018 WSOPE Monster Stack, and took 2nd in the WSOP International Circuit Main Event in 2017.
52Stefan FabianRomania810,000135
About $250K in lifetime earnings. Fabian’s biggest success was in 2016 at the Master Classics of Poker, where he took 5th place. He placed 14th in the 2016 EPT Prague Main Event.
53Dengdong HuangChina220,00037
Only $25K in reported live earnings, Huang has already had two small cashes at EPT Barcelona (and one last year).
54Jussi HakkanenFinland143,00024
Hakkanen has $39K in reported live earnings, including three from the current EPT Barcelona. His biggest live cash so far was in the €2,200 High Roller a couple of days ago.
55Gaelle BaumannFrance386,00064
Famous for being one of two women who almost made the final table of the WSOP Main Event in 2012, Baumann has $1.1M in tournament earnings. She’s has a long record of cashes in four and five figures since then, but nothing on the same scale.
56Molly MosseyUnited States309,00052
$98K in tournament earnings, with the biggest one being the first: a 3rd place at MSPT Iowa in 2012. Her most recent was a min-cash in the WSOP Main Event this summer.
57Benjamin SaadaFrance151,00025
Saada has just under $200K on Hendon Mob, including a 3rd place in a €1,100 side event at EPT Barcelona last year. He had a deep run at the 2012 EPT Deauville (32nd).
58Ramandeep Singh GujralIndia173,00029
Most of Gujral’s $117K in reported earnings was from a win at this year’s PCA, in a $1,100 side event. He has cashes dating back to 2007, mostly in India and Macau.

I know I’m crossing my fingers! 5% of 9th place would just about buy a seat at EPT Prague, which has been my goal since 2011. 6th place would be more than I’ve ever won in a poker tournament. 3rd place would be more than I’ve got in reported earnings on Hendon Mob. I would have no problem being shown up on that scale!

PNW Poker Leaderboard — 20 August 2019

Just a smattering of content this past couple of weeks, but it’s from all across the country! Not a huge amount of movement, though. (picture above from livingwithagolden.com)

Appearing for the first time on the leaderboard at #1556 is Duc Dinh of Oregon, who got to an impressive 13th place in a field of 1,800 for his first Hendon Mob recorded cash, at Talking Stick Resort’s Arizona State Championship NLHE.

Auburn’s Thomas Kornechuk qualified for the WSOP $1M GTD Global Casino Championship NLHE by winning the WSOPC Thunder Valley NLHE Main Event back in January. He came in 18th in the 129-entry field. He rises 3 places to #102.

Darren Rabinowitz was in Florida for the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open #21 $1M GTD NLHE. He placed 13th of 385, and holds at #15 on the Leaderboard.

And it’s another big-buyin-big-win for James Romero, getting 2nd place in a deal with Stephen Song at the SHRPO #27 $500K GTD NLHE. He remains #10 after taking in his share of the 117-entry tournament.

PNW Poker Leaderboard — 07 August 2019

Not a lot of poker action over the past couple of weeks, but a conversation during last weekend’s Portland Meadows $40K GTD NLHE prompted me to take a look at the Hendon Mob Oregon, USA All-Time Money List, and I am insanely happy to announce that Annie “Hasn’t Actually Lived Here For Over a Decade” Duke is no longer the top player on the list.

That honor belongs—and will likely remain with for a long time—to Seth Davies, whose 8th-place finish in the WSOP #90 NLHE High Roller pushed him into the top slot by about the amount of his  profit in the $50K buyin event. He should retain that position for a while, considering how active he is in high roller events. The next player likely to surpass Duke is the Oregon #3 player, James Romero, but he’s still about $700K back. He hasn’t been as active in high roller events (at least not cashing in them), so it could be a little while. His WSOP bio lists his residence as Las Vegas, unlike Davies, who claims Bend on Hendon Mob and WSOP.

Fourth place is held by Esther Taylor, who hasn’t been here since at least 2011. Her Hendon Mob profile list residence in Pennsylvania but born in Portland.

Climbing on her spot are Max Young and Carter Gill. Young has been out on the circuit; all of Gill’s cashes this year were in events at Chinook Winds and Wildhorse, and he was at my table on Saturday at Portland Meadows.

So the future for the actual Oregon players—the ones who might bring some of their winnings back to the state to play—taking over the top spots on the leaderboard is looking brisht.

We’ve seen some late results come in from months-old events the past few episodes, this time there’s a result that looks like it might be because of a change of residence. Jason Cohen is from somewhere in Washington, his bio doesn’t specify, but back in April, he took 2nd place in the Card Player Poker Tour NLHE Quantum with 728 entries, at Ocean’s Eleven Casino outside San Diego. It’s his second recorded cash, and he bumps up to #858 on the PNW Poler Leaderboard.

Dylan Wilkerson also picked up a 2nd place in the 442-entry WSOPC Cherokee #4 $100K GTD NLHE. He’s staying at #11 on the Leaderboard.

PNW Poker Leaderboard — 23 July 2019

Only four results make the cut this edition, as outlying series in Vegas don’t tend to report as promptly as the WSOP. Plus, there were a few events that wound up after the WSOP Main Event.

Chad Wassmuth was one of two PNW players at the final table of the Wynn Summer Classic $100K GTD NLHE tournament held on 8 July. He took 3rd place; enough to edge him up from #43 to #42 on the Leaderboard. The winner of that same event was Maxwell Young (still #20). There were 455 entries in the tournament, and the prize pool was more than double the guarantee.

The next week’s Wynn Summer Classic $100K GTD NLHE was won by Seattle’s Cheang Yoo, in a three-way deal. There were fewer entries in this event (343) but the prize pool was still more than $160K. Yoo moves up nearly 200 places on the Leaderboard to #378.

Rami Mornel

Finally, Rami Mornel of Redmond gains 370 spots to reach #248  after placing 7th in WSOP #89 NLHE, the last bracelet event of the season, with 608 players ponying up $5K each to play 30-minute levels. WPT commentator Tony Dunst took 2nd place, Jordan Cristos came in 4th, and it was Phil Hellmuth‘s last close call of the year, as he busted just after Mornel.

And hey, breaking the rules for just a minute here, the Poker Mutant three-way-chopped the $10K at Final Table last Friday for not nearly enough to get onto the Leaderboard even if it was tracked by Hendon Mob, but it’s more than enough to make me feel a little better about flying to LA for rake-free WPT satellites at The Bike in a couple weeks and/or to make my reservations for the week in Lincoln City for the upcoming Chinook Winds Fall Coast Poker Classic!

And, oh, this.

Heads Up!

Ignition Casino $7 NLHE Jackpot Sit & Go

This the Ignition version of the three-person winner-takes-all Sit & Go with a variable payout. 2x the buyin for most of the games, 5x for about 25% of the games, with payouts much higher for a very few games. Never got more than the 5x payout on anything, but I’ve been profitable in them. Cashed 50/114, which wouldn’t be enough to profit if they were all just 2x payouts but about 16% ROI.

Structures are very fast and some of the players are decent—I was in one the other day where none of us hit the wall before we were all down to 5bb—but most of the players still limp into every hand long past the point where they should just be shoving.

I was heads-up this morning on hand 8 in a $35 payout after losing some chips in the first couple hands (starting stack 500, down to 330) and the other player had just swallowed up the third player. (he had 1170, with blinds at 20/40.

J4 He called, flop was Q5T and I folded to his bet on the turn.

38 Folded my small blind.

24. Folded to his bet on A7T flop.

3A Shoved after he limped in. He folded.

3Q This hand got checked down to the river with a 954TA board. He had 3Q. I’m still down at 270 against his 1230.

J2 I fold small blind.

25. Really, any hand without a deuce or trey in it would be nice. He limps, flop is 73J and I fold to a bet. 210 left.

42 Uhhh, guys? Fold small blind.

J2 This looks familiar. He calls, the board gets checked down KA74Q and at showdown he has 36, so jack-high takes the cake. A win!

99 I shove on the first hand of 30/60 and he calls with 7A. Board runs out clean and I double to 460.

QT He limps, I shove, and he folds.

2K Shove. Up to 580.

8J He limps, I check and we check through the flop to a board of 38A5. I bet my second pair for 180 and he folds.

4Q I fold my small blind. This is the 21st hand of the tournament.

6T He calls and I check. 629 flop and I check-call his bet of 60. Q turn and I check-fold to another min-bet. Down to 490.

6J Fold the small blind.

K7 He folds.

87 I fold.

9A He folds.

26 Not back to this, please. Fold.

92 He limps in and the flop is 432. I do have a pair, so I jam the last 400 in, he calls with JA and the board is safe for me. I hate to double on that hand, but there you go. I’m in the lead with 920.

46 Blinds to 40/80. I fold my small blind.

88 I shove, he calls all in with 65 and the board runs out 4TK9Q. back down to 260 aka 3.25bb.

49 Fold.

QT He limps, I shove and he calls with 23. I double to 440.

AA I still only have 4.5bb. I shove, and he calls with A5. Reasonable, and this time the spade flush runs out for me. Up to 880.

QA He limps, I shove. He calls with 5Q. I’m 70% to win the pot and the game, but the board runs out 86226. I make two pair with an ace, but he has the crucial eight for the better two pair. Down to 260.

68 I shove, he calls with 5Q, and I spike an eight on the river to double to 520.

4A Old pattern. He limps, I shove, he calls wih K5 (59%/41%) and the board is T463 no don’t do it! 2. Couldn’t even give me a spade on the river to make the flush instead of the straight.