PNW Poker Leaderboard — 18 December 2021: WSOP Main Event (and more)

NOTE: I started this a month ago! And I’m just now finishing it up. Sorry for the delay, in the meantime I’ve qualified for the WSOP Super Seniors event, been to New York City for the anniversary of my marriage to Mrs. Poker Mutant, and Hawai’i to spend a couple days with my dad—things are just that busy! Happy Holidays!

The WSOP Main Event is over and done with, with al of the PNW participants out before the final tables. I have to admit that after including Mitchell Halverson and Jesse Lonis in the 2021 WSOP Main Event Tracker because WSOP has them as Oregon players, that I was disappointed to see they were listed on the Nevada and New York leaderboards at Hendon Mob, so they aren’t included in the combined PNW leaderboard.

Even without them, there’s a lot of territory to cover.

Let’s start with Kenn Pluard from Happy Valley, Oregon, who was 25th in the field of 1,441 at the Wynn Fall Classic $1.5M GTD NLHE. That, and a career-high cash at the Main Event (338th) bounce Pluard from #978 to #584.

Maxwell Young reappears on the Leaderboard with a 12th-place finish at the Venetian Deepstack Championship Poker Series II #35 $400K GTD NLHE UltimateStack. The tournament got 1,408 entries and pushed the prize pool to $1.35M. Calgary’s Phil Wright nabbed 4th in the same event, for a career-high score and a jump on the Leaderboard from #2508 to #505.

World Series of Poker #52 NLHE Seniors

Bellevue’s Brian Orrico took 48th in the 5,404-entry tournament, going from #2725 to #1814 on the Leaderboard. The Seniors is typically one of the largest fields; previous years with only one entry day set records for the largest single-entry-day live poker tournaments. This year’s run with two entry days generated $4.8M for the prize pool. Coming in at 34th was Victoria player Rhonda Shepek, with a career best and a jump of 2500 places to #2133. Robert Sun from Anchorage came in 22nd and climbs to #1932 from #4026. Coming in at 17th was John McNaughton of Innisfall, Alberta with a biggest-ever cash and debut on the leaderboard at #1349. Every two years, Robert Davis comes out of Eagle River, Alaska to cash in the Seniors tournament—he has exactly 3 Hendon Mob entries: 2017, 2019, and this year—all in the same event. This year he hit it big, with 2nd place, far eclipsing his previous totals, and leaping from #4320 to #162 on the Leaderboard. Davis is now #7 on the Alaska state leaderboard.

Robert Davis

Red Deer, Albeta’s Jason Volk was runner-up in the Venetian #36 $150K GTD NLHE MonsterStack. It’s Volk’s largest cash (this is the season!) and he moves almost 1800 spots to #870.

Dwayne Hillock from Prince George, British Columbia came in 14th in WSOP #55 NLHE Colossus out of 9,399 entries. The prize pool was just over $3.1M. Hillock rises over 800 places to #1533.

Portland’s Rambo Halpern took 8th of 969 at the Venetian #37 $300K GTD NLHE Seniors, taking Halpern up 38 places to #385.

The Wynn $3M GTD NLHE Championship made a prize pool of $5.7M with 1,775 entries and Brett Kennedy of Sattle took 50th, climbing forty spots on the Leaderboard to #319.

It was a biggest-ever cash for John Nielsen (Sylvan Lake, Alberta) with a win in the Autumn at Aria $40K GTD NLHE. Nielsen goes up more than 600 spots to #958.

Monroe, Washington’s Roger Hammond is up 800 places to #1937 with a 7th-place finish in the Venetian #40 $150K GTD NLHE MonsterStack. 358 entries and a $347K prize pool.

World Series of Poker #58 NLHE Super Seniors

The Super Seniors event (60+) got nearly 1,900 entries this year, makng a prize pool of just under $1.7M. Sad to say, I’m qualifying for this by next summer. Three PNW players made the final two tables. Alberta’s Gary Bain got a largest-ever cash placing in 16th and jumping eighty spots to #846. From masco, Washington, Anthony Simpson took 13th for a climb from #536 to #476. And you may remember Bill Stabler of Salem having been the runner-up in the Seniors event the last time everyone got together at the Rio in 2019; he came in 4th in this tournament.

Bill Stabler

Chris Brewer got shafted by The Bet that Limon won back in 2015 because people picked Koray Aldemir for their slate of players in the Main Event. Hopefully, his 5th-place finish in the WSOP #60 Poker Players Championship 6-Max is some consolation. There were 63 entries at $50K each. Brewer maintains at #16 on the Leaderboard.

World Series of Poker #62 PLO8 8-Max

Portland’s James Haddad made it to 12th in the field of 725, which is good for a move from #126 to #125. Dylan Wilkerson came in 8th, and stays at #13. Sterling Lopez out of Anchorage took 4th, for their biggest recorded cash and a move from #2961 to #708.

Venetian #43 $1M GTD NLHE Mini DeepStacks Championship

Nearly two thousand entries in this event pushed the prize pool to just under $1.9M. Sean Banahan from Twin Falls, Idaho made it to 24th for a career-high cash, and moves about six hundred spots to #1666. Coming in 9th was Jimmy Lee from Edmonton, which moves him two notches up to #77.

It was a largest-ever cash for Puyallup’s Jason Diaz, placing 4th out of 355 in the Aria $40K GTD NLHE. Just about triple the guarantee with 355 entries. Diaz jumps up about four thousand places on the Leaderboard to #2699.

Anchorage’s Young Ji won the Aria $30K GTD PLO8 in either a 3 or 4-way deal (186 entries, $74K prize pool). Ji is a 2015 WSOP PLO8 bracelet winner. He climbs 5 spots on the Leaderboard to #130.

Noah Bronstein was heads-up for the WSOP #64 NLHE/PLO 8-Max bracelet. There was a field of 579 entries at $5K each. Bronstein moves up nearly twenty places to #34.

Donald Kehler of Prince George, British Columbia bounced more than a thousand places to #1849 with a win (and largest-ever cash) in the $400 Rio Daily Deep Stack Series NLHE. The tournament on 3 November got 184 entries and whipped up a prize pool of over $60K.

World Series of Poker #65 NLHE Mini Main Event

From Redmond, Washington, Karimon Umarov placed 27th in the 3,821-player Mini Main freeze out, which had a prize pool of just over $3.4M. Umarov debuts on the Leaderboard with their biggest-ever result at #3601. Prasad Dobbins from Anchorage got their biggest cash and a boost from #4173 to #2256 with 20th place. And Seattle’s Matt Jewett got 6th in this event just before he jumped into the actual Main (more to come).

World Series of Poker #67 NLHE Main Event

Reminder: Just doing the big winners here. This thing’s long enough as it is, I apologize if you cashed and didn’t get on the Leaderboard round-up, if you didn’t get something like a 300% ROI or better, I can just say, “Good job!” That leads us to Rittie Chuaprasert from here in Portland, who came in 259 out of this year’s field of 6,650 entries. That’s within the top 4%, with another 11% of the field cashing but not making it into this write-up, if it’s any consolation. Chuaprasert goes from #367 to #295. Viola, Idaho’s Michael Faulkner picked up their largest cash at 124th in the Main and goes up over five hundred places to #646. Another biggest cash was for Weston Pring of Calgary, at 101st (just before Ali Imsirovic’s father Salko at 100th, who—I believe—still lives in Vancouver, Washington, but is listed in with the WSOP and Hendon Mob as a Las Vegas resident). Pring is up about a hundred and fifty places, to #347. At 90th was Fatima Nanji out of Vancouver, British Columbia. Nanji is up ninety-one places to #239, with their own biggest cash. Nanji was one of the last two women remaining at the beginning of Day 6. Adam Walton jumps sixty-five places to #102 by coming in 42nd (and another personal best cash). Matt Jewett from Shoreline, Washington came in 28th, and doubled his lifetime earnings with the single cash, climbing more than four hundred places to #135. Finally, it’s Bellevue-based Jung Woo, whose 19th-place finish was (yet another) best-ever recorded cash. It’s just the fifth cash for Woo and makes up 96% of his total winnings. Woo’s standing on the Leaderboard goes from #5358 to #247.

Fatima Nanji

Vikas Sundhi from Bellingham and Edmonton’s Alemu Makonen came in 10th and 6th, respectively in the Wynn Fall Classic $400K GTD NLHE, a 1,438-entry tournament with a prize pool of $1.4M. Sundhi got their largest-ever cash and moves up one hundred and fourteen places to #550; Makonen holds at #54.

Jose Mendoza took 3rd in the Venetian #44 $100K GTD NLHE MonsterStack in a six-way deal that gave the Kennewick player their biggest-ever cash. Mendoza moves nearly three hundred places on the Leaderboard, to #670. Almost six hundred entries tripled the guarantee.

Seth Davies continues to put up numbers ever edition of the Leaderboard, with a 3rd in Aria/PokerGO NLHE High Roller 30. 5 players cashed in the 30-entry tournament, with former PNWer Ali Imsirovic at the top. Davies is still #1.

Renton, Washington’s Kao Saechao picked up 2nd place in Venetian #46 $75K GTD PLO, ahead of 319 other players (the prize pool tripled the guarantee), then made the final table at 8th in WSOP #71 PLO Bounty 8-Max at 8th That event had 860 entries. (Note: Bounties are not reported as part of tjhe earnings for the tournament.) Two final tables takes Saechao from #890 to #549 on the Leaderboard.

Vincent Lam from Edmonton goes up twelve places to #300 with 45th out of 3,797 at the WSOP #68 NLHE Little One for One Drop.

It was a win for Calgary’s Doug Lee, who bested 327 entries at the Autumn at Aria $40K GTD NLHE on 10 November. It appears from the payouts that there may have been a five-way deal.Lee holds at #26 on the Leaderboard.

In a blast from the past, Esther Taylor-Brady is still on the Oregon list at both Hendon Mob and WSOP. Taylor-Brady made 5th place in a field of 372 at WSOP #69 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo. Taylor-Brady remains at #28.

World Series of Poker #70 NLHE Crazy Eights 8-Max

There were 5,252 entries in this tournament, and three players from the PNW at the final three tables. Maria McAlpin moves from #646 to #577 with a 26th-place finish. 23rd is good enough to help Adam Croffut slide up four places to #96. A newcomer to the Leaderboard are Deer Kim, whose 33rd-place is enough for #3601.

New on the Leaderboard at #813 is Matt Mayima from Seattle, who posted an impressive 2nd place in WSOP #71 PLO8 Bounty 8-Max as their first recorded live cash. The field had 860 entries. That’s a nice way to start off.

Matt Mayima

Back over at the Autumn at the Aria $40K GTD NLHE on 12 November, Burnaby, British Columbia player Alen Bakovic was 2nd in a five-way deal for their biggest score and a jump of more than nine hundred places on the Leaderboard, to #1721.

Another Canadian made the (unofficial) final table of a WSOP mixed-game event when Edmonton’s Nohad Teliani came in 9th in WSOP #72 Mixed NLHE/PLO 8-Max. Teliani gets a boost of almost two hundred places, and is now #828 on the Leaderboard. There were 856 entries in this event.

Nohad Teliani

And finally, Mans Montgomery out of Eagle, Idaho notches up four spots to #156 with a 4th-place finish in the Venetian #59 $150K GTD NLHE MonsterStack. The prize pool beat the guarantee with 204 entries.

That’s it for this long-delayed edition of the PNW Poker Leaderboard. Next edition will get us caught up. I will report that I was playing a tournament online on the way to Hawai’i that I thought would be over by the time we had to shut off our computers but even though we weren’t in the money when they shut off the on-board wi-fi, I managed to glide into a min-cash because I had enough chips. The dream is alive!

WSOP 2021: Back to the Rio

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am not a professional poker player. The last bracelet event I played at the World Series of Poker was in 2013. I’ve only ever played two (well, now three) bracelet events, and they were back when the WSOP first introduced $1,000 events. This year, I sunk even lower and entered a $600 bracelet event.

It’s been a long haul, folks, Years ago, I’d heard about folks grinding satellites, and even though I felt I was decent at playing them, I’d never had the discipline to sit down and just do it. So many tournaments in the summer (or anytime I was likely to be going to Vegas), so many variations. Never mind that I’d done reasonably well in the Ignition Casino Thousandaire Makers (only to blow the money I made on MTTs). Never mind that I had Dara O’Kearney’s Poker Satellite Strategy on my Kindle mostly unread.

did put my plan into action when I came down in 2018, but bricked out. In 2019, when I ‘retired’ from poker, I had to cancel the trip at the last minute because of work, and you know what happened to 2020. So I really wanted to take advantage of this revival year—and experience a WSOP that didn’t melt me when I walked outdoors.

I made my plans as soon as the schedule was announced, centering the trip around three bracelet events: #24 $600 PLO 8-Max#27 $1500 HORSE, and #28 $1000 PLO 8-Max. Plus the usual $180 mega satellites and the daily $580 mega satellite. I figured either this WSOP would be one of the easiest (with so many players choosing not to or unable to travel to the US) or really hard (with the people who were dedicated to making it to the WSOP being concentrated with pros).

Up at 4am to catch the first flight to Vegas today. Disregard the enticing $250 offers from the airline to give up my seat for a later flight—we’re on a schedule, man!

Plane lands around 8:30. Now, spite months of mental preparation for this trip, I made  a very essential error: fucking Columbus Day (I’m using that instead of Indigenous Peoples’ Day because this is a comment about how the day screwed me over). I wasn’t planning to travel with a huge wad of money, just enough to get me through the first day or so, but Friday was a bitch and Saturday I had stuff to do around the house, I old just pick up my cash from the bank on Monday, right? Did I remember that banks were going o be closed on Monday? No. And even the cheap-ass PLO game was more than an ATM puts out.

So, when I get to Las Vegas, I need to get to a branch of my bank, of which there are a number in town, one just a couple miles from the airport. It even opens at 9. I get there a quarter hour before it opens and it’s a cubbyhole inside the student union at UNLV. I just hope it has money.

Branch opens up, the very nice branch assistant tells me my specific ask is no problem, until they get to the part where they give me the money and they tell me that there’s some weird thing about the way the business account I have had for my sole proprietorship for more than a quarter of a century is set up in their system and I’m somehow not the “owner” of the account. Fie on you, Christopher Columbus! Anyway, it’s resolved by me transferring the amount I need to my linked personal account and taking it out of there. I was reminded that when I had some a paycheck—from Caesar’s Entertainment, one of the largest employers here—to my account a few years ago, one of the branches in a grocery store couldn’t take my deposit without the branch manager being there, which they were not. It was not, dear reader, a large sum of money.

So that’s all before 10am.

The Rio at 9:30 this morning was quiet. Hardly any line for the registration cage. Mid-week mornings are good. I was bought in an hour before the event and kicked around. It was surprising to see what’s operating next what’s not. There were a fe people sitting at the tables inside Starbucks, but the lights were off and I didn’t see anyone behind the counter. That’s fine, I don’t drink coffee except socially.

So, how’d my first bracelet event in eight years go? Not so great. I was in a steady drift down for most of my time in the tournament, with a couple of players—one at the far end of the table and one just to my left—picking off chips. I looked at their stacks a couple of times before anyone had been knocked off the table and was a bit puzzled at where they’d all come from, I’d lost a lot but not that many, and it seemed like other people had more than me, too. I shrank down to less than a fifth of the 30k starting stack over the first four levels, then suddenly caught some fire in Level 5.

Our little corner of the Brasilia room didn’t see any water service for a couple hours. I was damned if I was paying for some other drink. I wanted my 10oz/$1 water. Maybe the lack of hydration was messing with my game.

My stack got up to almost where it had started three-and-a-half hours before before I potted with a rainbow AA44, got called by two players, then shoved on a KQx flop where I ought to have known I was beat. Both players shoved, one with an open-ended draw and the other with a set of kings and the wrap made a king-high straight.

So naturally, instead of looking for something t eat or drink (all I’d had since the night before was airplane biscotti, which was pretty good), I went back to the reg cage to get into the $580 mega. Now the lines were a bit longer, it took about 40 minutes to get my ticket, even though the line—full of anxious PLO re-entries—didn’t reach the main hall. It’s almost enough to make me go sign up with Fastrac, which I was discussing with a couple of the folks in line behind me, only to have someone who’d just signed up have some serious frustrations with the machine outside registration.

So I got to the mega almost 90 minutes in, with 10k of chips and 400/800/800 blinds. Just the way I like to burn $580. This went a to better, even though there were a couple of large stacks. I was one of the later entries but there were only 24 by the end of registration, which was going to yield two payouts of $5k in lammer chips and one of $2k.

I was playing tight (12bb!) then less than half an hour in I had to call with AK and the guy who’d been opening a bit too much a little sheepishly turned over Q2 after raising 10x. The the big stack on my right raised a hand and I caught trip 9s on a flop with T9 which knocked him out. So I had a quarter of the chips as we went into a break and consolidated to a table of 9.

But then work interrupted. Something back home att the job was messed up. It was probably my fault, and I’m getting calls from the client who I don’t usually talk to, what with me being a worker grunt and not the face of the enterprise. I faltered and raised QJ, then called an all-in from a player at the other end of the table, who had enough to halve my stack, which was more than everyone else, but not especially deep.

The highlight of the evening was probably when I called with KxQx against an all-in from a two-time bracelet winner (someone I should have recognized, but it’s been a few years since it was my job to know these guys) and cracked his Ax hand. That wasn’t long before he shoved a small stack with tens TT, got called by T9 and the board ran out 48444 for a chopped pot, which must just have been crushing, even to a pro.

We got down to 4 players, on the bubble and K, the player on my left and I were tied at about 37k, less than 10bb. I was getting the best of it, because the other old man at the table, P, gave me a couple walks and K wasn’t getting that, so he got a little shorter than me. T, the player with the most chips, proposed a chop, with him taking the full $5K, and P and myself passing a lammer chip each to K. Who am I to turn down a deal that pus me in the red for the day (not counting other expenses.

Everyone agreed to the deal, we went through the process to get out lammers, and that’s how I got my first-ever payout at the WSOP, though it’s not technically money. All for of us waved to the payout room together, T got his chips first, went up to the window, but even though I had to wait in line for a little to get my paperwork and payout, was still at the window. Both and I hung around to make sure got his other chip (I’d flipped him one right after I got them), and paid off his part in casino chips for some reason. Everyone satisfied (except for the part where I blew $3500 in equity) we headed our separate ways. I got checked in, got some fluids, and had a nice pork-fried rice.

Poker In the Time of COVID

“Poker Game on the Moon“ by Jim Algar

It was five months ago today that I played my last hand of live poker, the longest gap in my live play since I started playing home games with a group of guys my cousin’s husband introduced me to back in 2007. And that last live session was with what remains of the same group, which has been whittled down considerably from the days when we regularly needed two tables. Maybe I drove them away…

It’s not that live poker hasn’t come back to Portland, albeit in a somewhat reduced fashion. Both of the largest poker rooms in the city and state—Final Table and Portland Meadows—are open, and a number of the smaller rooms have games running. I haven’t partaken myself, as I’ve been on the deck for helping out some folks with medical issues and can’t really afford an accidental exposure because of my love for poker.

Without any live tournaments, the Pacific Northwest Poker Leaderboard has been dead. I’d been hoping to have something to report after the WSOP.com online replacement for the World Series of Poker’s 50th anniversary (yes, you read that right, last year was the 50th WSOP but this would have been the 50th anniversary), but the last event was over a week ago and they’re apparently not adding them to the database.

So, all I have left is me.

I’ve  played a wider variety of online the past five months than I had in a long time. I started off on my tried and true Ignition Casino. I didn’t have a lot of cash left there but the first NLHE Jackpot Sit-n-Go I played after lockdown went well, and I got another one that day, but meanwhile dropped five times my winnings in a $25K GTD, a PLO Turbo, and a 6-Max Turbo. I finished out march with a few small Jackpots.

Portland Meadows—which had just reopened before Oregon locked down—had a deal with the Bitcoin-only Nitrogen Sports (home of The Poker Guys). I bought some Bitcoin and transferred it to Nitrogen to play a few of the Meadows-branded events, busting out mid-field in the first couple. Then I started playing their micro stakes PLO cash games and did fantastic, with one of them putting me up 850bb in about 20 minutes. Of course, I promptly booked a session with a loss of 700bb. Then another for nearly 1500bb. Thankfully, those were both smaller stakes than the win, but still.

Meanwhile, Kheang Tang convinced me to play part of the America’s Cardroom High Five series. I played a $30K GTD PLO8, $40K GTD NLHE, and a $1K GTD Stud8 without even getting into the top half of the field.

The cash games for me on Nitrogen were still going well, but the tournaments were a complete bust. Back on ACR. I min-cashed a $20K PLO8 after being in the top 5 for a good section of the tournament. April ended with me still cashless in tournaments at Nitrogen and a couple of losing PLO sessions in a row depleted my balance there. I made the final table of a 45-player PLO tournament at ACR, but a rebuy made me just break-even.

I got back over to Ignition on May Day, intending to focus on 6-Max and satellites. It didn’t go so well. Booked a couple of profits at 2¢ PLO cash, but it was just losses in satellites, PLO Turbo tournaments, and 6-Max for over a week before I cashed in even a $2 Jackpot SnG. Three weeks and more than 20 tournaments in, I finally picked up an MTT cash with 60/851 in a $30K GTD. Not much, but something.

Meanwhile, I was also plugging away on ACR. Apart from a satellite ticket and a negligible profit in a $500 GTD 6-Max, that was going nowhere.

Near the end of the month, I psigned up with Big Dog Poker through Jeremy Harkin, so I could try my hand at Big O during a weekend series they were running. Tried my hand at four tournaments and a few cash games and let’s just say I’m not as good at the game as I used to be back in the Portland Players Club days. And that was never that good.

My ACR play petered off in early June along with the rest of the money in my account. I did get to play one last Stud cash session, which is something Ignition doesn’t have.

Over on Ignition, I had a run of 0.1/0.25 PLO cash sessions that gave me hope, with profits in 10 out of 15, but other than that: nada. I played almost nothing the last third of the month, between my last session on Big Dog and my last on ACR. After July 1, it was Ignition and only Ignition.

Not that that was going all that well.

I had a couple min-cashes (142/1095 in a $10K GTD and 23/155 in a 6-Max Turbo) but many more bustos, mostly sticking to 6-Max, and PLO/PLO8. Then things started to turn around after the middle of the month. 11/175 in the nightly $44 buyin 6-Max. A satellite ticket to their summer series $10K GTD O8 (where I got 14/145). Another min in a $3K GTD Turbo, and 2/176 in the 6Max, with only two busts in-between (and one of those was a $250K GTD I’d satellited into).

I busted a couple of tournaments, cashed 6/215 in a $5K PLO8, busted a couple more and won a satellite into a $35K GTD 6-Max (busted), had a couple more bust days, then played two tournaments simultaneously (which I rarely do because I am old and slow), making the final tables of both.

A min-cash with rebuy meant a small loss in my first-ever NLHE Ante Up tournament (do not late-reg one of these things when you get just 12bb to start).

I noticed the last couple of Thursdays there are multiple 6-Max tournaments to lay during the series. I was considering playing all three the other day, but two of them start before I’m off of work. I wanted to sit in the living room so I could chat with my wife, so I ended up just playing the $215 buy-in because of the size of my laptop screen (if I’d been in the office, I would have used the big computer). This led to a major screw-up.

I got into a confrontation early in the game and lost a third of my chips, then drifted down further to 1/3 of the starting stack. It seems like I was down there for a long time, but looking at the hand history, it seems like I managed to recover back to a starting stack by the end of the first hour.

Nearing the end of the re-entry period, the player came in on my right with 75bb and proceeded to shove over nearly every raise made by another player. He shoved the second hand he was dealt at the table. He shoved the third hand with AJ and went down to 60bb when he doubled up a pair of tens. He 6x 3-bet the next hand. Hand 4, he doubled up another player shoving 98 and getting called by AQ. Down to 30bb, he shoved hands 5, 6, and 7.

On hand 8, he open-shoved from the button and I called with TK, exposing his Q8. He doubled me up that time, and I was up to 40bb. He was down to 12.

This did not stop the insanity, however. The next hand there was an UTG min-raise from a 35bb, and the maniac shoved with 75. The original raiser called with TQ and the maniac doubled back to 40bb.

He took a hand off, but did it again, then just limped into my BB (and won a small pot), shoved over a 4bb raise, stayed out of a hand where I doubled up to 66bb, and at least slowed down a bit.

Which may have been why I took my eye off the ball at the wrong time. Blinds were up to 600/1200/120. There were only four players at the table at the moment, with a little over 100 left and about half of us getting paid. I was well-situated with almost 75bb which put me in the top 10 at the time. The maniac was at 40bb. I had 4Q in the BB, which I might call a small raise with but I had no real intention of playing. The button (22bb) min-raised, and the maniac in SB shoved and—not seeing the all-in—I called. Button folded and I was up against 98 Racing, but a nine and a club on the flop turned into a club couch by the river and nw the maniac had almost 100K and I was well out of the top 10.

My last hand against the maniac was just 5 hands later when he open-shoved SB with 9K against my JK and again hit a nine on the flop.

I did a re-entry but lost a race on my first hand and was down to 1.5bb. Quadrupled up on my second hand. My last hand, I had A7 and 4bb in the BB, a big stack shoved 24, and I called. He got a full house.

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!

R-Day Minus 2

The Poker Mutant will be retiring (mostly) from poker on 1 January. This is the latest installment in his thrilling countdown to the End of Times.

After I got to the hotel last night, I spent some time figuring out what my plans for Sunday were going to be.  Aside from the 1pm and 7pm tournaments at the Venetian, I didn’t know of anything else more than just something to play in town my last day.

First off, I fired up WSOP.com to see  what was on their schedule. Right off the bat I noticed there was a $100K GTD at 3pm for a $320 buyin, and a $50K NLHE 6-Max at 6pm. Both of them had satellites, an important point for the $50K, because the buyin was $1K. So my initial plan was to maybe play some cash, come back to the hotel  early in the afternoon for the online tournaments, and get up at 4am for my flight.

Before I went to sleep, I payed a small tournament and some low stakes cash.

Best laid plans.

The first part went fine. Breakfast, unexpected morning drinking, a handy cab for a ride to the Orleans, and relatively short waiting to get onto a 1/3 table, then an opening 15 minutes later in 4/8 Omaha Hi-Lo. I came out after a couple of hours with about enough to cover my cab ride over, though not the Lyft back. Got set up for the WSOP.com 10-Seat GTD NLHE Satellite for the $100K. Got in for two buyins but didn’t want to do a third, so I relaxed until the actual $100K GTD started.

This one was a little painful, I laid down what would have been the winning hand in an early all-in when I would have tripled up, then busted out on a hand where we got all in on a run turn after I’d made a flush against a set, only to have him get a full house on the river. I don’t know if these things have  seemed more painful because I’d rather be going out on an up note but they are really pissing me off in a way they usually don’t.

I decided to leave the room and headed back to the Venetian for Event #17 $30K NLHE. Kao Saechao  was still in Day 2 of the $260K GTD. I got into the tournament late (precisely at 4:20, I noted to the table, most of whom were older than me and nobody admitted to understanding) with the hope that I could repeat the early success of my late buyin from yesterday, but it was not happening. I was out by 6pm.

So it was to the 1/2/5 PLO cash game for me. For about an hour. And that’s how my poker time in Las Vegasis is going to come to and end. Bang and whimper.

R-Day Minus 7

The Poker Mutant will be retiring (mostly) from poker on 1 January. This is the latest installment in his thrilling countdown to the End of Times.

Three Ignition Casino Jackpot Sit-and-Gos. The first two were 5x payouts. Lost all three.

Last game for Christmas was the $500 PLO8 Turbo. Did not make the money, after a promising start.

R-Day Minus 13

The Poker Mutant will be retiring (mostly) from poker on 1 January. This is the latest installment in his thrilling countdown to the End of Times.

Headed out to the Portland Meadows $4K GTD. Turnout was, uh, good,with more than $11K in the prize pool after all the entries and addons had been tallied. Kind of sparse down there at the bottom if you were in for several buyins (see Why Not Rebuy?) Oh, yeah, I rebought, but just once—I’m more or less out of this poker thing in two weeks! Lost on a nut flush draw on the first buyin, then got lucky on the second and beat queens with jacks when I his a set on the turn and knocked out a newplayer who’d been all in twice on his first orbit at the table with 50bb and squeezed (with the queens) to my button 3-bet. I went out after the break by shoving into top pair’s large c-bet on a KT8 board with the open-ended Broadway draw. A shorter stack behind me shoved with the nut flush and got there, taking most of my stack, the rest went to top pair.

Played about 40 minutes of tournament-subsidized $1/$2 Big O and busted two buyins. I’m going to have to talk to Jeremy Harkin about my last hand.

R-Day Minus 23

The Poker Mutant will be retiring (mostly) from poker on 1 January. This is the latest installment in his thrilling countdown to the End of Times.

Played three Ignition Casino NLHE Sit-n-Gos after I got back from the Final Table game Saturday night. All of them standard 2x payouts. I won the first two (one after just 8 hands), then lost the third. After that I got into the $400 GTD PLO8 I played the other night. It has a generous payout structure—at least in terms of the number of payouts. With 27 players paid, the entire third table was getting as little as a third of the buyin. I made it to 20th for a small loss on the game,

Played three more in the afternoon, missed on all of them. Had the chip lead in one by about 3:2, lost a race, and went out a couple hands later.

Finished off the day with an online $500 GTD Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. Managed to recover once after I was down to less than 2 big bets, but couldn’t get to the money. Out 22nd of 60 entries, with 12 places paying.

R-Day Minus 24

The Poker Mutant will be retiring (mostly) from poker on 1 January. This is the latest installment in his thrilling countdown to the End of Times.

Before I went to bed last night, jumped into the Ignition Casino $400 GTD PLO and played it for about 45 minuted—actually getting up to 2nd place in the 60-player field after a big hand—and only realized it was actually PLO8 after I’d busted out. At least I wasn’t the guy I played with at the Venetian a few years back who bought into a $400 tournament only to do the same sort of thing (“I was kind of wondering why none of the hands had a low…”). It might be embarrassing if I mentioned it to anyone.

This was how the second hand of that tournament went. I had won the first hand, and was up to 6000 chips from a starting stack of 5000. Late entry, blinds were 125/250. 8 players at the table, I was hijack, with T887. I was the first caller. The dealer (6450 chips, TT53) limped in with me, then the small blind (12,197 chips) raised to 1450 with AA93. I called, then the dealer called.

Now, according to the CardPlayer Omaha Odds Calculator, with the player in there with aces my chance of winning the hand doesn’t change from a heads-up match against the pair of tens, but he’s the dog in the three-way fight. Flip the Hi/Lo switch and things stay pretty much the same.

Anyway, the flop is great for me: 822. I shoot up to 57% equity. The small blind pots his aces, I’m all in to call with my full house, and the dealer—who has nearly a full starting stack—shoves with a weak flush draw (beat by the nut flush draw of the aces) and a bad low draw. The aces called.

The turn 3 counterfeited the lows of both players, then the 9 river shipped me the pot, so I more than tripled to 18375. Nice start, but I made a bad call another 40 hands down the line.

Got a 5x NLHE Jackpot Sit-n-Go, and managed to get out front after a bad start, but ended up going out third.

After doing stuff around the house (mostly sitting), I headed out to the Final Table $2K GTD NLHE. Our table had a drunk guy from “down the valley” who said he’d won a tournament earlier in the day. I stacked him twice in the same level, once when he 3-bet Q4 and I 4-bet QxQx and he called. I don’t remember what he had when I called his shove with almost an entire rebuy stack, but I won that, too. I was up to 45K early on, then doubled up an annoying player I’ve mentioned before when I had aces under the gun and just limped in expecting a raise from someone at the tableNaturally, when I c-bet and the annoying guy raised for most of his stack on a king-high board, I had to put him all in and he had Kx6x for two pair.

Doubled up once when I got down to about 10bb and we were at two tables, lost a chunk to the player I doubled through with an open-ended straight draw where he had top pair and a deuce kicker, then just never managed to put it together.

R-Day Minus 29

The Poker Mutant will be retiring (mostly) from poker on 1 January. This is the latest installment in his thrilling countdown to the End of Times.

A downswing that started—well, months ago—continued tonight at Claudia’s PLO8 tournament. I went because I wanted to see if my travel partner David Long was there (he was, and regrettably, I was the player who busted him off the final table). I won this the last time I played it, but tonight I had to rebuy two hands in, after entering late. It was a little like a reunion of Portland Players Club regs, with Noah and Paul, and others at the two tables.

I didn’t quite make the money, going out in 6th place after losing two multi-way hands in a row with aces in my hand. Gotta love PLO8. (They were running a Short Deck PLO cash game tonight on PokerGO’s Poker After Dark, if you want real degeneracy.)

The aforementioned downswing is not helping my plans to get myself out of poker jail by the end of the year. No four-figure cash since July, 20 straight losses in the Thousandaire Maker; it’s enough to put you off poker if you hadn’t already promised your wife you wouldn’t spend every night online or at a poker room.

If you’ve been a fan of the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star, you know it wasn’t held the past couple of years as Bay 101 built a new facility. It’s coming back this March, though, and you can win seats to the $5200 Main Event starting in less than two weeks! What a great Christmas present for yourself!