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!

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.

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.

#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…

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 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 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 3

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.

It’s official, I will not be winning a total of $100K between mid-September and the end of the year, so the poker retirement is final.

My last chance, after a couple of great weeks at home, was to shoot for the Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza Event #14 $260K GTD NLHE, literally the last major tournament of the year in my league. $400 buyin, 30K in chips, 30-minute levels…I could manage that.

I caught the 6am Spirit Airlines flight to Las Vegas this morning, having paid extra for their Big Front Seat. What they don’t tell you at Spirit—and I get the feeling that there are a lot of things they don’t tell you at Spirit—is that the chairs are so flimsy that when the person who didn’t pay for extra legroom moves their legs and their knees hit the back of your seat, that it’s like having a donkey kick you in the lower back. Anyway, it was a great $3 can of Diet Coke.

Rode the city bus from the airport to the South Strip Transit Center. Even though the public areas of Vegas are pretty white, I was the only non-African-American on the city bus leaving the airport at 8:15am on a chilly Saturday., and there were a dozen passengers and a driver.

Caught the Deuce up the Boulevard to the Venetian and bought my ticket for the tournament, which was set to start just after noon, then headed over to the Fashion Show to see if I could scare up a cheaper breakfast than I could get at The Venetian. I could not. In fact, after I decided against a heavy plate of pancakes or a burger, I picked an Asian Chicken Salad that was not the worst I’ve ever had. The one I had at an Irish bar in Spokane was worse.

Picked up some Diet Coke at CVS, then trudged back across three skybridges and through the Palazzo to get back to the poker room.


Along the way, I spotted this rad slot machine! The first board game I really remember having was based on Thunderball, and while I’m really not a slot fan, I had to sit down and plug a couple dollars in this baby. Two spins at the max credits and I was up to $8.50. I probably should have declared myself a winner in Vegas at that point, because it was the last money I won today.

By the end of the first level of play, I was already up 8500 chips, after hitting a gutshot to the nut straight with [8c9c]. Another attempt to get clever really cost me when 68 flopped me the nuts, but someone with a similar idea had that and a flush draw to back it up, which he turned. That cost me all but 8K.

I managed to double up before the first break, then lost my chance to double again when I called a raise wth 9x9x, had the short stack in my left shove and the original raiser shove in for more. He had AxQx, the short stack had 8s, and the board ran out 2x3x4x8x9x. Then I let my aces get cracked by nines and lost more than I needed to (like half my small stack). And on my next button, I shoved Qx9x from the button and a new player in the big blind had AxKx and it was over.

i really didn’t want to reenter, but back to the cage I went with another $400. I was 178 on the alternate list, and they were calling 110 or so.

Sixty-five minutes later and I was in again, with another 30K in chips and blinds just about to go up to 500/1000 with a 1000 big blind ante. Won the last hand just before break 2, so I was up by about 4K.

Bullet 2 only lasted about 90 minutes. Eventually, I jammed KxQx into a short-stack raise, he had aces, I was short ago a Andy went out.

Bullet 3 (no wait this late in the game!) seemed like it was going to be the one. Early on, I raised with queens and got a couple of calls, then the board ran out three treys. An early positio caller jammed a little more than the starting stack and I called with my full house. He had fours, and I doubled up.

That same player doubled up against an aggressive player on the dealer’s left. I was on the button the next hand and the aggro guy was on the big blind. We had roughly similar stacks, like 40bb. I raised QJ and he shoved after thinking a bit. I thought he might be steaming about the double up from the previous hand, but no, he had AxKx, which I found out when I called him. He had something to really steam about when a jack hit the river and I also doubled up through him.

Our table broke not long after and I did extremely well at the new table. By the last break of the day, I had more than 250K, which Would have been better than a median stack at the end of the day. Unfortunately…

A short stack new to the table raised all in and I called wth A8. He had QT, so naturally, he won the hand. #PortlandNuts

That and blinds took me down below 200K. Then, in one of those hand that seem like setups, just as the tournament clock was stopped at18 minutes to Gomez before bagging, with nine hand left to go, I was in the button.

The player who had doubled up through me raised. I had jacks. Some poker common sense would say to just fold my way to Day 2, with a decent if not stellar stack, and get into the money. The bad poker brain says: “JACKS!”

I shoved. None of the players left to act had as many chips a shot I did. Apart from a huge stack who had more than a million chips afternoon one of the most bizarre hands I’ve seen, and a player on my right, I had been the chip leader before the double up. But nontheless, I shoved.

then the small blind shoved for more chips than the original raised. Not as many as me, but enough. The original raiser said something about not wanting to lose wit I had his hand, but he called. Small blind had queens. Original raiser had kings. Yuck.

At least, that was what I thought until the flop, which was all spades but with a jack. None of the pairs had a spade. Then a queen hit the turn. And another queen on the river. The guy with kings was eliminated. I was chopped down to 70K, less than 10bb.

Next hand, action folds to me, I shove KQ and the small blind has aces. So that’s how my quest for poker glory comes to its end, eight hands short of Day 2.

Good luck to Portland’s Kao Saechao, who’s still in the hunt.

R-Day Minus 5

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.

We were at the final table of the Final Table $1K GTD NLHE Bounty last night at midnight, and at the time I didn’t know if I was going to be coming out a slight loser (after taking a couple of bounties) or if I was going to make it into the money.

I’d gotten to the club early in the fourth level and done well enough to be above average when we got to the break and the add-on. I was one of the top three stacks at the table when a big hand developed that included one of the other big stacks—who’d doubled up another player with a rather loose call in an effort to pick up a bounty—a short stack went all in, I was planning to call with my AxTx, but the other player shoved his not-insignificant pile of chips and I folded. An ace on the flop would have given me the win and at least two bounties, as well as crippling or eliminating the big stack. Sign.

Got to the final table as one of the short stacks (as usual) and waited things out, shoved a few times without getting called, eventually getting through the bubble and down to four players, losing an ace-king v. queens race to get knocked out in fourth. Three bounties.

Played a brief—I mean 2-minute—Zone cash session.

$92,052 to go before 1 January.

R-Day Minus 10

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.

That was an…interesting…night.

Friday night at publication time, I was still in the Final Table $10K GTD NLHE.

I left the house a few minutes behind schedule, and got further delayed because I live a couple of blocks from Peacock Lane, a four-block stretch of a SE Portland street that has a Christmas light display every year. So I was a few minutes late once I drove out Division to the clup.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a number of people smoking outside the doors shortly after the 7pm start time. Typically, anyone that’s there at the time is in or waiting in line. As I walked toward the door, Rick James was heading the other direction, and told me: “They’re shut down. Game’s cancelled.” I knew enough to not listen to his bullshit, though I did think that perhaps there was some sort of power outage that wasn’t immediately obvious to me—high winds had knocked out the power a few days earlier. A locksmith’s van pulled up at the curb, a guy jumped out and started pulling tools out of the back. I assumed he was there for the auto parts shop next door.

When I got in,  I could see that the tournament hadn’t started yet, and as I walked up to the counter, I saw  a Multnomah County Sheriff’s Deputy kneeling downbehind it at one end. Ron C. was there, and when I asked him what was up, he said the deputies were seizing  all of the cash, as a part of some sort of judgment against one of the club owners, but nothing to do with the operation of the club itself.

This, on the face of it, seems incredibly wrong, as money paid into the prize pool in Portland’s social clubs explicitly does not belong to the club. It can’t be distributed to the club, even in part, according to the ordinances. That’s why there’s no rake. That’s why there are no multi-day events.

There were at least three  more deputies in the office (and the locksmith) and they left carrying a small brown bag about ten miinutes to eight. TD Kat Mullins had repeated an announcement I’d missed about the pan to start at 8pm, and, for the most part, that’s what happened. Meanwhile, I caught up with Kao Saechao, who was back on his home territory after a very successful year, and said hello to Liz Brandenburg, who was also capturing some of the flavor of the evening.

I’m not going to bother recounting how the tournament went except to say it was my usual path to the final table. I got pretty short at one point, got lucky a couple of times, made it to the final table as one of the shortest stacks, and somehow ended up in the top three. This time a player named Lee was the big stack. It was already well after 5am, and when I proposed the same deal that had been offered to me last week—with the big stack taking just under 1st place money and the other two chopping the remainder—both lee and the other player were ready to go and I’m sure the remaining staff was glad to get out of there after a long and stressful night.

Played a NLHE Jackpot Sit-and-Go in the afternoon and bused in third. Tried my hand at a 1-Seat GTD NLHE Satellite for Sunday’s $100K and was chip leader through most of the game, got down to HU with a 2:1 advantage and had a hand with top pair on the flop against bottom pair on the flop and he rivered a second pair, flipping the stacks. I never recovered and busted second.

#PNWPokerCal Planner for 20 December 2018


It’s another WPT Bellagio Five Diamond title for the Pacific Northwest as Coeur D’Alene-based Dylan Linde took the title with a cash that nearly doubled his already-impressive earnings.

Bend’s Seth Davies struck big at Bellagio, too, with a 3rd place in the 47-entry Event #2 $25K NLHEand a win four days later in Event #28 $25K NLHE (50 entries).

Over at the VenetianScott Clements won Event #15 $150K GTD NLHE, with 576 entries.

And last, but not least, Lake Oswego’s Max Brown got 4th in the Run It Up Stones $100K GTD NLHE Main Event, at Stones Gambling Hall outside Sacramento.

One Month Three Weeks One Hundred 98 Kay The Twelve Days of $95K

I did manage to get a win at Final Table last Friday, so my target is a wee bit closer, but the opportunities are pretty slim at this point. Picked up another little cash online at Ignition Casino Sunday night; missed in PLO8 Monday at Claudia’s and busted not even close to the money at the huge $4K at Portland Meadows on Wednesday.

I’m heading down to Las Vegas on the 29th for the Venetian $260K GTD NLHE, last bit game of the year.

Only a Day Away

  • The last event (ever) on my calendar is the Venetian Deepstacks Extravaganza V. Which starts today. There’s a $100K GTD the first weekend, and a $260K GTD Monster Stack just before the New Year’s ($400 buyin).
  • This Sunday is the Muckleshoot Casino NLHE Deepstack ($300 buyin), with the $3K Added NLHE 5th Sunday ($400) coming up on the 30th. Both start at 10:15am.
  • The Tulalip Casino $10K Added NLHE is $220 for entry (with $10 dealer add-on) on Sunday, 30 December, at 11am. They still don’t have the schedule for next month’s Pow Wow on their poker room page. I hate casino web sites.