PNW Poker Leaderboard — 11 June 2019

Portland’s Sam Cosby was the chip leader of the WSOP Millionaire Maker at the end of Day 2, building up a substantial chip lead on Day 3 before dinner break. though he suffered some substantial losses before the end of the day. Still, he’s in the running as the field of 8809 players has been winnowed to 34 for Day 4.

Sam’s a poker writer I met when I worked at the WSOP, and he moved to town a couple of years ago. He even came to play at one of the home game sessions with the guys I started playing poker with. Whatever he makes at this point is going to be his best recorded cash ever. Hoping to catch him on the final table broadcast!

The Big 50 is finally over, with nearly 29,000 entries (more than 17,000 actual players). And three PNW players made it into the top 50, with all three of them getting into the Leaderboard for the first time.

Christopher Fitzgerald

Timothy Askison (Corvallis) made it to 39th place in WSOP #3 $5M/$1M-1st GTD NLHE Big 50, putting him on the board at #894 with his first recorded cash. He turned around and had a min-cash in the Millionaire Maker a few days later.

West Linn-based Christopher Fitzgerald just missed the final two tables of the Big 50 when his AK went all in preflop and was chased down by A9. He took 19th place and got his first recorded cash, putting him in at #647.

Evan Johnson of Spokane Valley made it the farthest, to 12th place (#325) for one of the more spectacular PNW Poker Leaderboard debuts ever. It was Johnson’s second recorded cash; he cashed in the Colossus III two years ago.

Even Johnson

Scott Clements picked up his third bracelet in WSOP #10 Dealers Choice 6-Max and maintains his #1 spot on the Leaderboard. He turned around and made a deep run in the Millionaire Maker, as well. His bracelet win keeps the title for that tournament in the PNW, as it was won by Jeremy Harkin last year. Clements had some competition for that responsibility from Michael Ross of Eugene, who came in 3rd, popping from a respectable #437 to an even better #226.

Mike Ross

There were nearly two women at the final table of WSOP #11 NLHE 6-Max. The famous Maria Ho made it, but Boise’s Maria Mcalpin bubbled in 7th on just her fifth recorded score, climbing nearly 2000 spots on the Leaderboard to #494. Former Leaderboard Ali Imsirovic was on the final table with Ho.


Maria Mcalpin

Rep Porter maintained his hold on #8 by placing 3rd in the event I’d been hoping to play: WSOP #20 Stud. The final table there was  star-studded, featuring Porter, Valentin VornicuAnthony Zinno, and the winner, Eli Elezra.

Finally, what would a Leaderboard be without James Romero? Romero hold at #10 after entering the small buy-in WSOP #16 NLHE 6-Max and placing 36th. In the tournaments he’s usually in, that wouldn’t be a cash or enough to trigger a mention, but it had a field of 1832 players, so 36 was pretty deep.

Finaloly, let me just drop a note about the streaming coverage of the WSOP this year: IT SUCKS!

This year, the events have been parceled out between PokerGO and CBS All Access in the US, meaning you have to at least sign up for the CBS service to stream a number of the events. Not only is the CBS stream buggy, but they’re taking their sweet time with posting replays. This evening, for instance, I wanted to catch up on some of the action on WSOP #18 Omaha Hi-Lo, won by Frankie O’Dell, but more than 24 hours after the end of the event, it was still missing from the CBS menu of available events. Yeah, that’s the kind of service I want to pay extra for!

PNW Poker Leaderboard — 6 June 2019

It’s early days at the World Series of Poker, so there haven’t been a lot of big results from the Rio yet, but players have been in Las Vegas for a week at other events and series.

Over at the Wynn Summer Classic,  Spokane-based Andrew Vitale‘s first recorded cash was in the opening $550 buyin $100K GTD NLHE. He debuts at #1162 on the Leaderboard. Longtime player Scott Eskenazi (Mercer Island) came in 3rd in the same event, moving him up three spots to 76th.

Another player earning his wings this week was Roseburg’s Michael Keller, taking 2nd in the Venetian Deepstack #35 $25K GTD NLHE Bounty for a jump into #1972.

On to the Rio, another Mercer Islander, Jesse Hampton goes up 30 spots to #151 with a 5th place finish in WSOP #6 $2,500 Limit Mixed Triple Draw. He came in 3rd in last year’s $2,500 Mixed Triple Draw Lowball.

Of course, Jesse Kertland from Ellensburg took 4th in WSOP #1 $500 NLHE Casino Employees. Not his largest score: he finished 5th in last summer’s $1,500 NLHE Shootout.

Rounding out the early numbers, Kirkland resident Rick Fuller just missed the final table of the entertaining WSOP #4 $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo.

(And yeah, I know Scott Clements won a bracelet, but I ran the numbers before the end of the Dealers Choice. It takes time to do this stuff! Next update.)

PNW Poker Leaderboard – End of May 2019

Still no results from the Wildhorse Spring Poker Round Up. I wasn’t there so I don’t care, but if anyone who cashed wants their results wrapped up in the Hendon Mob numbers to intimidate people for the summer, you’ll just have to bug the staff there. Last time I mention it unless they get posted.

Without that and with only a couple of events at the WSOP wrapped up so far (going into the first weekend), there’s only one result for me to report (because Ali Imsirovic is no longer on PNW rolls after shifting his flag to his homeland of Bosnia so his runner-up cash in the first WSOP $10K isn’t on the rolls).

So Dylan Wilkerson gets it all to himself for a 15th-place finish at the WSOPC New Orleans NLHE Main Event.Wheeeee! Should be plenty of news coming up fast since everyone’s already headed south for the summer!

Meanwhile, watch Chernobyl and count yourself very, very lucky if you didn’t live in Ukraine during or since.

Softest Field—EVER!

Heard someone say the other day that if they could only afford to play the WSOP Main Event every year then they could cash it every time because the field was so soft.

I don’t know about that. When I look at this stat from The Hendon Mob, I see the names of people who played the Main Event for twenty or thirty years straight (or more in the case of Doyle Brunson). I have to assume Phil Hellmuth has played every one since he won thirty years ago, and even he’s “only’ cashed 27% of the time. Johnny Chan has been in it since before Hellmuth (obviously). There was a 15-year period (1993–2007) where Chan had no Main Event cashes, with most of that taking place in the pre-Moneymaker era. Do you think you’re better than Johnny “Fucking” Chan, punk? Do ya?

See also my PokerNews article from a couple years back: Top Top”: Going Deep More  Than Once in the WSOP Main Event.

PNW Poker Leaderboard – May 2019

Well, as of this writing, still no results from the Wildhorse Spring Poker Round Up at Hendon Mob, though they are posted on the casino web site and I’ve got a copy of them here. They’re not going to get wrapped into the standings until (and unless) they send them in.

I want to give a shoutout to my buddy Kao Saechao, who didn’t have a score big enough to normally make this update, but who had five four-figure cashes over a couple of weeks in April between daily events and small series buyins at Wynn, Aria, and the Venetian, including a couple of wins and a couple of thirds. The total kicked him into the computer’s attention.

The big new winner was at the CardPlayer Poker Tour/bestbet Event #1 $100K GTD NLHE in Florida, where John Juntunan from Boise beat 499 other players for his first Hendon Mob cash with a win. He debuts at #798.

Coming in second of the new players on the list (#1424) was Julio Uribe, scoring his biggest recorded cash yet after traveling down to the Run It Up Reno $250K GTD NLHE Main Event from Talent, Oregon and cashing for 6th.

Christopher Lynch from Chelan, Washington made it past (among others) six-time WSOPC Ring winner Max Young to claim a Ring of his own for his first recorded cash at WSOPC Tunica Event #12 NLHE.He is #1533.

A late entry into the database adds Puyallup’s Lori Smith (#1754), the winner of the Muckleshoot Spring Classic Event #1 NLHE.

Clinton Russel from Washington rounds out the new entries on the list (#1980), with a 4th place finish at Maryland Live! for his first recorded cash, in their April Live NLHE tournament with a $482 buyin and 417 entries.

As is so often the case, Seth Davies is at the top of the list, actually moving 3 places up to #6 with his 3rd place finish at EPT Monte Carlo #2 NLHE, and smaller-ROI-but-substantial-money-figure showings in oter events in Monte Carlo, Aria, and the Seminole hard Rock Poker Showdown. You don’t often see that kind of movement at the top of the leaderboard, but cashing four $10K–$50K buyin events in a month `can get it done.

James Romero has also been on a bit of a tear, at Seminole, EPT Monte Carlo #4 NLHE French National (4th) and the Main Event (21st), and in Cyprus (6th at the Merit Poker Classic $500K GTD NLHE Warm Up) but he maintains at #10.

George Wolff nearly clinched the win for SHRPO #20 $200K GTD NLHE for his biggest recorded score in a couple of years. It moves him from #68 to #57 in the Pacific Northwest.

Bellevue’s Dien Le jumps 35 places to #113 with an 11th place finish (out of 1360 entries) in the SHRPO #17 $3M GTD NLHE. It’s his 2nd biggest recorded cash.

Calvin Lee continues to play the Asia Pacific Tour events in Korea, and he cashed in 5th in the APPT Incheon #17 NLHE High Roller to move up to #101.

Asa Goldstein

One of the big movers (position-wise) is Seattle’s Asa Goldstein. who got 2nd in a deal that included Eric Baldwin at the Venetian May DeepStack Showdown #3 $200K GTD NLHE MonsterStack. It’s Goldstein’s biggest cash by far (out of 6 total) and he goes from #2191 to #751.

The afore-mentioned Max Young picked up his billionth WSOP Circuit Ring at WSOPC Tunica #6 PLO but he stays at #20.

Mason Barrell (from my old stomping grounds in Eugene) added just his second notch on his record with a win at SHRPO #22 $50K GTD NLHE Big Stack, but he only moves from #250 to #207 because his only other recorded cash was for 70th place in the WSOP Main Event last summer!

Even though Dylan Linde makes the list this time around, he still drops a spot, from 8th to 9th, as a result of Seth Davies’s upward move. Linde came in 7th in the SHRPO #16 $200K GTD NLHE 8-Max.

Mill Creek, Washington’s Jordan Westmorland was the only non-Australian cashing in the Crown Poker Championship NLHE High Roller Shot Clock in Melbourne. He moves up one spot to 38th.

Kindah Sakkal added her seventh cash of the year, making the final table and 8th place of the WPTDeepstacks Thunder Valley $500K GTD NLHE Main Event.

Eugene’s Johnny Rodriguez got a great return on his money in the $240 buyin, 717 entry, WPT Choctaw $100K GTD NLHE side event, getting his fifth recorded cash and his biggest recorded cash with third place.

Finally, Jay Goldstein from Kirkland gets another late listing from the Muckleshoot Spring Classic NLHE Main Event, with a 4th place finish.


This is the 50th anniversary of the World Series of Poker, possibly the last year it will be held at the Rio (though there is a Circuit event scheduled there next February) and I’ll be trying to keep up with the big cashes over the next couple of months, even though I’m not keeping a regular schedule.

My own summer plans are minimal but aspirational. I’ll be in Vegas the weekend of the Millionaire Maker to play Event #20 $1,500 Seven-Card Stud, partially because I want to play a small-field bracelet event (which, in my price range, means one of the non-NLHE events) and partially because that one minimizes the time I need off from work. Also on my schedule for the weekend are alternatives: WSOP satellites at the Rio, 8-Game Mix tournaments at Orleans and Planet Hollywood, and some other stuff (don’t forget online with!)

If you’re still looking to fill out your schedule, check out Vegas Poker Schedule.

And—if I can satellite in—the Main Event.

Maybe Wildhorse will post before the next update…

Off the Track of Being Beaten

Before Black Friday, I’d set foot in a casino exactly twice. The first time was Harrah’s New Orleans in 2004, when my wife and I got into town just as a couple of friends who were about to leave for the airport, and we met up with them while they played blackjack for what I felt was an obscene amount. Actually, since I’ve never played blackjack and even though I’ve spent that much on a tournament buyin, I still think it was an obscene amount.

The other time was the next year when I was a speaker at a National Association of Broadcasters-affiliated conference in Las Vegas. They brought me in to talk about  Adobe Director, a multimedia development tool that was already past its death throes, so I came up with this nifty presentation involving this new thing called podcasting. Something like five people showed up to an enormous hall in the Las Vegas Convention Center. It was my first time ever in Las Vegas, it was April, and the map didn’t make it look all that far from my room at the Rio All-Suite to the convention center, so I set out on foot. In a suit and tie.

That was all before I started playing poker in 2007. And it wasn’t until a trip to Ocean Shores,  Washington four years after that that I ever played poker outside of a home game or Portland card room (see “Casino Virgin”). It only took a month before I headed down to Spirit Mountain for the first time (“Freeroll to Nowhere”) for a cash session and a tournament satellite.

Then, just a couple of weeks later, I went from a little oceanside casino to one of the biggest poker rooms on the east Coast. After a business trip to Boston, I headed to Foxwoods on an overnight trip, playing cash NLHE PLO8 and Stud, along with a couple of tournaments before skedaddling home before the airports closed (“Foxwoods Before the Storm”).

The dam had broken, bigly. It took a few months, but my (still unfulfilled) ambition to go to EPT Prague and my first win in a $10K guarantee tournament became the spark for the biggest buyin tournament I’ve ever played, at the Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza Main Event that fall.

My old pal and virtual dopplegänger Charlie Levenson taking on a promotional job with the short-lived Oak Tree Casino north of La Center saw me make a few trips up there that winter..

2012 was the year I really stepped it up (or stepped in it). In mid-February I made another trip to Las Vegas, where I played four tournaments (including a triple-barrel PLO) and made a bad laydown (“Pulling the Trigger”). At the end of March, I went north to play the Tulalip Poker Pro Challenge, and met (briefly) Tyler Patterson and Jay Zemen, who were on either side of me.

Drove out to Pendleton for the first time that April and racked up loss after loss in my longest-to-that-point series run (four days). Five tournaments, five satellites, and six cash sessions, with about $1,200 in losses (“Comebacks and Failures”).

My friend Tomer Berda was still playing poker a couple years after his WSOP bracelet win, and I went down to play in Las Vegas for two weeks that summer, for one of the most crushing periods of my poker career. I was incredibly lucky to have gotten the offer of a condo room for one week from Mark Humphreys, and Tomer picked up most of our meals. I played tournaments at the WSOPVenetian, and Golden Nugget; Played a bunch of Daily Deepstacks, that year’s WSOP Doubles shitshow with Tomer, and the $1K buyin bracelet event, where I started at the same table with Keven Stammen and Ivan Demidov, so I don’t even need to mention that things did not go well (“No Bracelet for You!”). The only profitable session I had was a single NLHE cash game. And I hit a deer driving home.

I finally made a couple of excursions to the Last Frontier in La Center in August and September, but it just didn’t take.

I finished the year out by abusing myself with another trip to Wildhorse, which didn’t go any better than the first, though it was shorter, so less costly (“Levelling Out Back East“).

And that is the progression of a nice boy who had never set foot in a casino until he was in his 40s into a poker degenerate.

PNW Poker Leaderboard for mid-March 2019

The end-of-year poker lull is over and the Pacific Northwest schedule moved into high gear with February’s PACWEST Poker Classic. Coming on its heels is the Muckleshoot Spring Classic starting the last week of March. And that overlaps the Wildhorse Spring Poker Round Up on the first weekend of April.

Results from PACWEST have just been posted to Hendon Mob, so it’s time for another edition of the Leaderboard!

The big numbers aren’t from PACWEST, but the US Poker Open high roller series. And top place would have gone to Vancouver, Washington-based Ali Imsirovic with a win in the $25K buyin Event #5, a win in the WSOPC Las Vegas #14 NLHE High Roller, and 4th in the LAPC #66 NLHE High Roller , but he’s changed his listing on Hendon Mob to his homeland of Bosnia & Herzevogina, where he is now the #1 player by a factor of about 4:1 over WPT Champion Ema Zajmovic. It was great having you on the Leaderboard, Ali!

Top spot goes instead to Bend’s Seth Davies, with three cashes at the USPO (10th in Event #3 $10K NLHE, 3rd in Event #4 $10K Short Deck, and 6th in Event #9 $50K NLHE). Davies holds steady at 9th on the Leaderboard.

More cashes outside of the state kept Coeur D’Alene-based Dylan Linde ahead of Davies in 8th. Linde took 2nd in a deal with Lance ‘Cord’ Garcia at the Los Angeles Poker Classic #59 NLHE in a field of 98, then came in 4th in last week’s WPT Thunder Valley NLHE Main Event.

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Max Young came in 18th in that same event just two weeks after taking first at the PACWEST Poker Classic #22 $250K GTD NLHE Main Event in a deal with Sam Nguyen. Max moves up to 20th from 22nd on the Leaderboard; Sam jumps nearly 500 spots to 360th! It was a Portland-heavy final table, with Craig Gray (now 60th on the Leaderboard) taking 3rd.

Meanwhile, back south in Las Vegas at the Wynn Classic $200K GTD NLHEMatt Affleck took first (there may have been a deal involved). He holds at 12th.

Steve Chanthabouasy cashed twice at the PACWEST series, in both of the big buyin events, taking 3rd in Event #16 $100K GTD NLHE 6-Max, and 2nd in Event #19 $200K GTD NLHE High Roller. He moves up 4 places to 54th.

It’s surprising that someone who’s been an integral part of the Portland poker scene like Rambo Halpern is just now getting a cash on Hendon Mob, but his debut—with the win in the PACWEST High Roller—puts him in 556th place on the Leaderboard. Carter Gill grabbed third in the same event, which maintains him at 21st.

Over in Korea, James Romero (steady at #11 on the Leaderboard) took 3rd place in the Paradise Poker KRW1.1M NLHE Main Event, then 2nd in both the KRW5M NLHE High Roller and KRW10M NLHE Super High Roller. Just for a little perspective, the last two events had 13 and 9 entries, respectively, and KRW10M is about $8,850.

Portland’s Guy Dunlap took first place in the PACWEST 6-Max event, then 6th in the High Roller, and capped off the series with 8th in the Main Event. e was already at a respectable 418th on the Leaderboard, but those three cashes pop him up to 258th.

Out of Seattle, Chad Campbell snagged a Remington trophy for LAPC #46 Limit Omaha Hi-Lo. He now sits at 384th.

Daniel Park from Federal Way only made it to 10th place in his event, but that was in a field of 952 at the Rio in the WSOPC Las Vegas $1M NLHE Main Event. That brings him up to 177th.

Friend of the blog Steven Roselius blasts up 80 spots to 254th with his 4th-place finish in the PACWEST High Roller, Beaverton’s Auddie Reynolds (#533) scores his best-ever cash with 2nd in a deal at the 6-Max along with Christopher Brost, whose 5th-place cash was just his second-ever. Brost moves over 1500 spots on the Leaderboard, to 1216.

George Wolff is back in action with his 5th in the PACWEST High Roller, enough to budge him out of 72nd place on the Leaderboard to 68th.

Our old adversary Steve Harper snagged the top spot in Event #1 $125K GTD NLHE, the first weekend of the PACWEST Classic. Where’s the book, Steve?

Angela Jordison made an appearance in the PACWEST Main Event, with her 6th place finish there taking her up to 130th on the Leaderboard. Gary Hale from Cloverdale, Oregon got 5th, moving over 100 spots to 475th.

At the Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza I #42 $1M GTD NLHE Main Event, Vancouver, Washington’s Christopher Hull took 14th out of nearly 800 entries (the event won by November Niner Jesse Sylvia the same week his fianceé won a tournament) and he is now at 1326rh.

Two newcomers to the Leaderboard made it through excellent finishes in the first event at PACWEST: Julie Mischkot of Salem picks up her first Hendon Mob cash for her 2nd-place finish (putting her in at #1643), and Nicky Komphouvong‘s 4th place finish (and 2 other recorded cashes) put him at #1621.

The Ante Up Poker Tour is still a thing, apparently, and Kent, Washington’s Landon Brown grabbed 3rd at Tampa’s Silks Poker Room as part of a deal in their $60K GTD NLHE Main Event. He moves from 469th to 393rd.

Kao Saechao stopped through town this past week after winning the 70-entry WPT Thunder Valley #3 NLHE ‘The Knockout’. You can read about that here. He holds on the Leaderboard at #26.

Chris Wang of Seattle has just three recorded tournament cashes, but two of them are wins: he took down last fall’s 6-Max at Chinook and he won Event #20 $50K GTD NLHE  at PACWEST. Interesting payouts; it looks as if there was some sort of six-way deal with Wang getting first place money and five other players making a deal to keep payouts under $5K each. Wang slides up to #553.

Darren Rabinowitz‘s 5th-place finish in a Wynn Classic $200K GTD NLHE doesn’t make move him at all on the Leaderboard, but that’s because he’s already #15,

Finally, Nick ‘Wonka’ Getzen is a more familiar face playing on Poker Time or cash games, but he was down at PACWEST for Event #13 $50K GTD NLHE Big Bounty, and he is listed in 2nd place in what looks like a 3-way deal.

The Retirement

Since last I wrote, I’ve played a single-table home game tournament with my original crew (took 2nd) and a cash session after that (came out ahead).

I went down to PACWEST for the first day and shot four bullets into Event #1. I made my first rebuy just over an hour in. After losing AxQx v AxKx forty minutes later, the third bullet was loaded. That lasted a bit over an hour until I got it all in with Ax8x on an 8x5x3x flop and was called by 4x4x, who hit a set on the turn. The fourth bullet lasted me through dinner and I was able to run things up a bit to more than triple the starting stack, but after about eight-and-a-half hours I was down to 15bb, shoved A8 and ran into AxKx.

Before I headed home, I blew through two buyins in the evening Main Event satellite in 20 minutes (it had started 90 minutes before I busted from the big tournament, so they were short to start).

A couple of weeks later, I played another home game (dropped two buyins) then left to late-reg the Final Table $20K NLHE First Friday. That went reasonably well, and I ended up at the final table with Kristi G, who’d asked me about getting extra chips with the rebuy at the break and I said sure. Anyway, I busted in a race in 8th, but she went on to the final chop of four or five players. Then I knocked her out of last week’s Portland Meadows $40K NLHE after we’d had a good chat about some of the characters we’d played with the previous tournament.

Now, that may sound like a lot of poker for someone who’s retired from the game, but last year between 1 January and 20 March, I played 13 live tournaments as opposed to 7 this year. So it has slowed a bit. Online’s dropped from 60 to 35. So maybe I was bluffing myself.

#PNWPokerLeaderboard for January 2019

Hey! It’s been a while. I don’t know if the Leaderboard is going to continue as a regular feature, but how often do we get the chance to celebrate an outstanding achievement by such a likable personality?

Jacki Burkhart wasn’t the biggest cash winner over the past month-and-a-half on Hendon Mob, but she had to have the best ROI, because her contribution to Maria Konnikova’s #MyPokerStory competition got Jacki into a 1,000+ entry competition that included some of the best players in the world, where she placed 38th. her win vaults her fro 343rd on the Leaderboard to 161st.

The Pacific NW Leaderboard has just about 3,700 players on it at the moment, basically everyone listed as a resident of Oregon, Washington, or Idaho. who’s made more than $3,000 in (reported) lifetime earnings, not counting daily or recurring tournaments (that’s just the way things are reported). Nothing from social gaming clubs in Oregon, not even for the bigger tournaments. I’d include British Columbia and maybe Alberta, but Canadian players aren’t broken out on Hendon Mob by province.

This past month or so added a dozen new entries on the Leaderboard, with the biggest being Pasco’s Joseph Beltran Arredondo. He had one small cash in a daily event at Aria last summer, but he won the 650-player $600 entry Wynn Signature Series $250K GTD NLHE at the end of January in what looks like a 4-way deal, moving hiim to position 594.

On 3 January, Robert Dilger of Kennewick got his second cash, with 5th place at the Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza V #21 $100K GTD NLHE. There were 580 players with multiple days of entry ($340). He jumps into 2016th place on the leaderboard. The tournament was won by Unknown, Seattle’s Dylan WIlkerson took 7th.

Timothy Hagensen’s 8th place finish in a mid-month tournament at the Golden Nugget is smaller than I’d usually mention, but it intrigued me because it was listed as a $155 entry tournament with a $20K GTD and a $170K prize pool. Plus, it was part of the MOOSE Poker Tournament Series benefit, run by the Loyal Order of Moose. According to the brochure (which does not mention the rest of the events in the series) the entry fee was $350 and there was a $10K guarantee for first place. It mentioned the 2018 run had 846 players, the 2019 edition beat that by 5. The payout structure is old-school, going up in $1,000 increments between 10th and 3rd (from $4,000 to $11,000, but it’s a freezeout and there’s no deals allowed. Always interesting to know what else is going on outside the casino-run games. Tim (from Washougal) moved onto the leaderboard at 2129th.

Thomas Kornechuk from Auburn is the big winner overall through January, taking his biggest score by far with a win in the WSOPC Thunder Valley #11 $500K GTD NLHE Main Event. He goes all the way from 416 to 103 on the combined leaderboard. “57-year-old software engineer”? Maybe I better rethink that poker retirement thing…

James Romero’s been busy at PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas and the Aussie Millions in Melbourne this year, with four smaller cashes after a 2nd place finish in the 200-player $3,300 entry PCA #28 NLHE. With re-entries the prize pool climbed over $715K. At the levels Romero is at in the leaderboard, movement is slight, but he gains a spot (to 11th) and Matt Affleck moves down to 12th, even though he also had some results this month in the PokerStars Players Championship and at WSOPC Thunder Valley.

Lee Markholt doesn’t move on the leaderboard(still #6), despite four cashes at the PCA, including the biggest, for runner-up in PCA #35 NLHE, a $2,200 buyin event with 164 entries.

Portland’s Kao Saechao starts off the year moving up a notch to 26th with results at WSOPC Thunder Valley. He placed 5th in Event #7 $100K GTD NLHE Monster Stack (686 entries made a $226K prize pool), then just a few days later came 4th in Event #13 NLHE 8-Max (135 entries, $135K prize pool).

Likewise, Max Young climbs a spot to 22nd, with a couple smaller cashes in the Bahamas and Tunica, and a 6th-place finish in Biloxi’s Beau Rivage Million Dollar Heater $300K GTD NLHE Main Event158 entries made a $400K prize pool.

William Zaiss of Everson, Washington got his New Year off to a great start in the opening event of the WPT Gardens Poker Championship. A $175 entry with 562 entries, it nearly tripled the $50K guarantee. A 4-way deal gave Zaiss the win , moving him from 309th to 233rd on the leaderboard.

Dien Le of Bellevue moves up nearly 20 spots, to 148th, after a deep run to 26th in the 1,415-player WPT Borgata $3M GTD NLHE Main Event.

Mill Creek’s Jordan Westmorland remains at #39 on the leaderboard, despite 3rd place in Aussie Millions #3 NLHE Shot Clock Shootout. The event drew 180 entries and built a prize pool of $132K (US).

Lewiston’s Stephen Schumacher crossed one of my dream poker trips off my list, as well as picking up 4 Vietnam flags for his Hendon Mob record, at APT Ho Chi Minh City. His biggest win came for 8th place in the ₫ 35,000,000 + 3,500,000 NLHE Championship Event, with a total prize pool of ₫ 7,835,306,000 ($338K). Schumacher moves from 173rd to 164th.

We’ll wrap up this edition with everyone’s fave, Angela Jordison, who got caught playing with only two cards and moves up seven spots to 142nd for her 28th place finish in the WSOPC Choctaw $1M GTD NLH Main Event.

That’s all for this edition of the Leaderboard. Hope to see some of you in a couple of weeks at the PACWEST Poker Classic in Lincoln City (where it was snowing today).  Retirement’s going well! Apart from the half-min-cash at Portland Meadows a couple weeks ago, I played my old home game Friday night and took second after a couple of bad beats kept me from winning, then made a little in the cash game that followed.  As always, this is the Poker Mutant (#1047 on the Leaderboard) signing off.

They Pay Too Many Places…

By the time the Portland Meadows $40K GTD NLHE tournament rolled around in mid-January, I hadn’t played a single hand of poker for three weeks as a part of my retirement deal. A few people joked about me falling off the wagon, but my arrangement with my newly-retired wife was to not play on a regular basis. As I told people who asked: “I’m retired. I’m not dead.”

I got to Meadows fifteen minutes before the game began, only to find out immediate seating had already sold out half an hour earlier. I was alternate 43 in a rom with 200 seats for the tournament (we were playing 10-handed). Fortunately, the tournament was a freezeout.

Meadows had a very successful $30K GTD in December that went to $84K in the prize pool, so there wasn’t any concern about not making the guarantee, despite the lsat entry day of the Main Event of the Tulalip Pow Wow being held north of Seattle on the same day. Perhaps expecting a big turnout, the starting stack had been reduced from 25K to 20K.

I finally got a seat just over two-and-a-half hours into the tournament. Blinds were 250/500 with a big blind ante, and it was near the end of the level; not exactly where I want to be putting $300 ($285 plus $15 for the door fee) down for a game. True to form, I lost 3K on the first hand (I opened with AxQx), and within the first half hour nearing a break, I was down to 7600, with the big blind about to go up to 800.

Over the next hour, I managed to claw my way over the starting stack. They were still seating alternates ninety minutes after I got in—more than four hours into the tournament.

At the five hour mark (I’d only been playing for about half of that), I had 27500, but that was only about 18bb. I languished between 10–15bb for another 90 minutes before I got a crucial double, shoving J9 from UTG1, getting called by KxJx and catching a 9. By 6:30, the board said there were 90 players remaining (from 314 entries, game started at noon).

My notes say the board was updated from 90 to 80 players remaining (we were still 10-handed) between 6:34 and 6:38. 45 players were getting paid.

Another 15 players were taken off the board by the time we got back from break at 6:59. I paid blinds early in the level, and was down to 11bb. Action was moving fast, and we didn’t have a full table, I paid another set of blinds by 7:16 and was down to 37K with the big blind at 4000. 56 players on the board. Got aces on the button, action folded to me, I shoved and nobody called. Down to 55.

Blinds went to 3000/6000 at 7:25. The board said there were 50 players left. We went hand-for-hand 10 minutes later. I had 32K.

A couple minutes later, the in the money announcement was made. On the next hand, the player in the big blind was all in for half of the big blind, lost the hand, and the dealer handed him a seat card to get his payout, as he’d been instructed.

That’s when things got weird.

The floor made an announcement that shocked me to the core. They’d somehow missed a table and were going to reset the count to 54.

Now, I once saw a tournament at Planet Hollwood blow through the bubble with people who left the room before the floor staff realized they were close to payouts, but that was a tournament with hundreds of players. We were down to literally six tables. Sure, you can’t count them on one hand, but how do you lose track of whether you’re at five or six or seven tables? Portland Meadows isn’t the Commerce Casino. It has a couple dozen tables in a room you can walk from end-to-end in less than fifteen seconds. And they had to have lost track of the count somewhere in the hour leading up to the bubble without anyone ever noticing. Cash game tables had started up, and an evening tournament had started at 7pm, but you’d think the tournament with the $90K prize pool might take a little precedence.

As a short stack, I’d laid down a couple of hands I’d have shoved in that last hour (which is why I’d been watching the count) and I assume there were a number of other players in my short stack situation that were doing the same thing. Now I was in a situation where I literally couldn’t do that because nobody had just walked the room double-checking the tables.

Anyway, I called a shove around 8pm from the BB with 7x8x against Jx9x and hit a 7 on the turn. We were down to 51 players again. I had 58K with big blind at 8000. Ten minutes later we went hand-for-hand a second time. And after about 20 minutes I was in the big blind with half my stack in the middle and K5 when Jason Adams limped inn from SB with a big stack and called my shove with Qx6xOut on the bubble when he turns a queen and I split 45th place with a bustee from another table.

Anyway, the title of this post (if you’ve stayed this long) is a variation of something you (well, I) hear all the time, including at Meadows the other day. A player glances up at the payouts and mutters to the tale: “They pay too many places.” The implication, of course, is that the top prize is too small and that all those little payouts at the bottom are eating into their profit. Like they’re a lock on the win.

I’ve actually studied payout structures a bit over the years, though, and I can tell you that the payouts for a bunch of players on the bottom end doesn’t really have that much of an effect.

A few years back when the World Series of Poker extended the number of payouts in the Main Event from just over 10% of the field to 15%, there was great gnashing of teeth. What most people didn’t stop to calculate, though, was that even though 50% more people were getting payouts, the $15,000 each of those players got was one-and-a-half times the players’ contribution to the prize pool (1.5 x 5% = 7.5%) so with a little extra out for fees, around 8%. If you were going to get $8 million for first place, in other words, you were only going to get about $7.35 million. Poor baby.

Another piece I did for the 2015 WSOP was on the effect of the $10 million first-place guarantee. A chart I did for “Satisfaction Guarantee” showed how the jumps in payouts for the WSOP have been all over the place over the years (see the chart from that article above), until adjustments were made to the formula used to determine payouts. For the past couple of years there’s been an online payout calculator that you could use to determine what the prizes would be, based on the number of players in each event.

With all that in mind, people aren’t completely incorrect. The top prize in the Meadows $40K GTD was significantly smaller than it would have been in many other venues for a field of a similar size and prize pool. But it’s not because of the number of payouts.

Time for a big chart. Join me at the bottom.

This chart shows payouts from five different payout structures—two with 45 payouts and two with 54 (plus a 48-payout structure!)—in order from top (smallest) to bottom (1st). If you look at the bottom line, keep in mind that the brown lines represent payouts in the mid-January Meadows tournament (which paid 45 places). You might notice that the $17,100 payout is significantly smaller than the other four numbers, al of which are on the bigger side of the $20,000 mark, ranging from $20,005 to $21,691. How is there a discrepency of $3,000 or more in payouts? It’s less than 3% of the prize pool but it’s a 15% or greater reduction in the size of first place.

Now, in the old days, a tournament of 314 entries would probably have paid only 36 spots, rounding up to 4 full tables from 10% of the field. By my old friend the 2013 Venetian Deepstack 9/10 Handed Payout Structure, top prize would have paid 24%, or $21,480, more than $4,400 above the actual $17,100 scheduled first prize. The none $490 payouts to places 37 to 45 amounted to almost exactly that amount, but that value wasn’t all taken from the top spot.

How do I know? Because the Venetian payouts for 45 players (orange lines on the chart) has a top prize of 23.5%, which is $21,035, still almost $4,000 more than the Meadows prize. And the payouts for 37th through 45th are 0.54%: $485, just a fin under the same payouts at Meadows. With almost identical amounts paid to the fifth table, first place at the Venetian was still a lot more.

Personally, I think the counting mishap the other day could have been handled better by admitting a mistake and adjusting the payout table to pay 54 places. “But Mutant,” you cry, “that’s taking so much money from me, the winner of this here tournament!” Not so fast bucko.

The next column on the Venetian payout chart is for 54 places (red lines). Top prize is 23% ($20,595). with minimum payouts at $385 for the sixth table (46th to 54th) and $420 for the fifth table (37th to 45th).

For additional comparison, I’ve included two forms of payouts using the WSOP calculator. A tournament with 314 entries would pay 48 places (rounded up from 15% of the field, shown in green). I also show the payouts for 54 places (blue lines).

Pretty much every payout schedule except for Meadows has one thing in common: players at the final table are each paid a different amount, then there are three clusters of three payouts for 10th through 12th, 13th through 15th, and 16th through 18th. Then each full table is paid the same amount. For some reason, the payouts at Meadows increase in increments of three from position 30 on up to the final table. But that’s not really the problem, either.

The true culprit is at the final table. Between 9th and 8th, the payouts go from 2.2% to 3%, an increase of 36% where the other structures go up about 25%, The next jump at Meadows is to 4%, a relative increase of 33%. Again, it’s more than any of the other structures. And like compound interest, these bigger relative pay jumps have their effects that can be seen on the chart between payouts for 5th and 9th. The brown line represents a significantly larger payout than the others. More than a thousand dollars more than any other payout for 6th place ($4,475). By the final payouts, the more elegant exponential curves of the standard payouts have left the Meadows payout in the dust.

So the next time that guy sits down next to you at the table to grouse about all his money going to the min-cashers, you’ll be prepared to bore him to tilt with facts, figures, charts, and graphs.

This is not to pick on Portland Meadows or any other venue about their payout tables; it’s an article that’s been on my back burner for a long, long time. But if anyone wants advice on how to set up a payout table like the WSOP’s…