2024 Chinook Winds PacWest Poker Classic, Testing My Limits

The morning was uneventful, just resting up from five days of playing poker, a little sightseeing, and a big steak dinner the night before. Made a few calls, caught up on the news a little bit (it hadn’t gotten any better) and generally relaxed until noon when I headed over to Chinook Winds.

Event #15 $15,000 Guaranteed Limit Omaha Hi-Lo

I won the first hand of O8, drawing out on the river against Joe Brandenburg. Before the game had even started, Bobby Quiring, a friend of Brad “First Friend of the Blog” Press, who I had met when we all played a HORSE tournament at Aria last summer (where Bobby won and Brad took 5th). Maybe it was too soon after the Big O tournament for me to play this, but I got shorter and shorter after I hit set under set. I had less than a quarter of a starting stack 90 minutes in, My tiny stack lasted for another couple of hours, then I busted the first hand back from the second break.

While I was out of the tournament room, I’d noticed there was a Thursday night steak and crab special at the Seafood Grill where I’d had breakfast with my father the other day, and told Brad I’d reciprocate his generous steak dinner from last night, then went to play some cash.

$2-$5 NL Hold’em

Cash isn’t my normal game and these aren’t my usual stakes, but the $1-$2 game was full up and I wanted to be able to keep an eye on the tournament status and upcoming (in a couple of hours) dinner break while I waited. I played pretty tight for an hour or so without catching much, then picked up black kings a d three-bet the very active and very loud player on my immediate right, who’d been wearing some astounding track suits the previous days. He called my bet along with a couple of others, the flop was very red and ace-high with two Broadway cards and a third on the turn, after which it got heads-up. The loud guy flipped over king-ten at showdown for Broadway.

I lost some more pots, until I hit middle set on a KQ9 flop. The player two to my right pushed all-in, covering my stack. I probably didn’t take he time to consider the jack-ten possibility, but I called and he flipped over a set of nines. I guess he hadn’t thought of jack-ten either

Brad busted out about six hours in and decided he had enough time to take me up on dinner before heading home. I grabbed my chips and cashed them out quickly with bit of a profit, and we walked over to the Seafood Grill, which wasn’t exactly full, but they were short-staffed enough we had to wait for about ten minutes to get seated because one guy was taking all of the orders and bartending. Food itself came about fifty minutes after we walked in the door. But it was tasty.

Well, Well, Well— January 2023

I didn’t play much poker to start off the fourth year of my poker retirement, but it was reasonably successful, probably because of that.

Last Frontier Casino $10K Guarantee Limit Hold’em

I was both intrigued and a little worried when I saw poker room manager Chris Canter post the notice for this one last month. Washington State’s poker room regulations only allowed limit for a number of years, and it was Last Frontier’s bread-and-butter, so I was expecting some serious LHE crushers to show up for this, but I went anyway.

Never played much of it myself, except in HORSE and other mixed game rotations, and it’s definitely not my strongest game in HORSE (like every other HORSE player, my strongest game is Razz).

I got off to a fast start, despite the presence at the table of some long-time players who were re-bonding after not seeing each other at the tables for a while. They included Kevin Erickson, who was the runner-up for an LHE bracelet at the 2021 WSOP. Fortunately, he was balanced to another table after a short while. I was leading the table for a time.

Three hours in and I was still above the pack—sometimes considerably so. In the fourth hour, my stack hit more than double the tournament average, though I’d dropped down to about one-and-a-half average after that. Ran into a former co-worker of my late brother-in-law, who I’d met at the tables in the past.

The stack managed to stay healthy as we approached the money with just three tables. As I noted on Twitter, the 12th-place prize was less than the buyin+entry.

When we consolidated to two tables, I ended up next to Korey Payne, who said hello, but I knocked him out dirty A7 > AK not long after the money bubble broke.

Also got to catch up a bit with a different Kory, one of the regulars from my Portland Players Club days, who’d won the $25K GTD NLHE at Last Frontier a couple of weeks before. He took over the chip lead at the final table as the guy who came to the final with a bu=ig stack managed to blast it away, first to me, then to Kory. We started whittling away at the shorter stacks. I picked off 6th with the Robbie Jade Lew hand (J4o) when I had over 300K on the 15K big blind and just had to call 10K for his all-in.

When we hit three players, Kory had the lead by a good bit, and the other player and I were swapping 2nd and 3rd. Then I pulled in a chunk of chips, and non-Kory proposed an even chop, which I was rather surprised Kory—with more than twice his stack and half again mine—agreed to. I agreed, naturally, and #3 and I went to the payout desk. Kory went into the field of cash players and did some consulting with a friend, coming back to tell me his friend had suggested he should have held out for an ICM deal. Personally, I think that would have been a better option, rather than readily agreeing to the even chop immediately, but I just ran the numbers through Icmizer, to show him the difference.

Beaverton Quarantine NLHE Bounty

For some reason, my long-time home game never went online during the worst of the pandemic (I first got the inkling it was going to be bad when one of the guys in the group who works in virology at OHSU backed out of a game we had scheduled in March 2020). But Kate, one of the folks I met through that group, invited me last year to a far-flung Friday night game that had gotten together via PokerStars Lite Home Games and Zoom. They typically play two or three $20-$25 games—usually NLHE or PLO8—get enough players for one or two tables, and Matt handles the money. All very friendly. I don’t usually get into the Zoom conference because of where I’m playing from, and I usually miss the first game, but this night I caught the Bounty tournament, busted just short of the money, and didn’t pick up a single bounty.

The Game $10K Guarantee Big O and 1/2 NLHE

I misremembered the start time of this tournament. I was running a little late, I thought, until I turned into the parking lot of The Game and it was almost empty. I should have turned around and skipped it. When I went in, there was a single cash table running and I learned I was two hours early. I thought I’d read for a couple hours, but the urge to play got the best of me and I grabbed one of the empty cash game seats. I hovered around my buy-in for an hour or so, then got it in bad with AK < KT on a KTx flop and the two pair held. Players on the button could call some games, as well, so there were some of the inevitable bomb pots, and 5-2-2, which is a double-board Big O game that’s popular with degenerates.

Speaking of which, the Big O tournament lasted less time than I waited for it to start (at least for me), because I kept insisting on risking things with just low draws. I could have just lit that money on fire (see below).

Beaverton Quarantine Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo Bounty

The second game in the last BQ poker night for the month was somewhat successful, I took 2nd place (out of 6, plus a rebuy) and two half-bounties (split-pot knockouts).

Snowman Num-Num

For years, a piece of They Might Be Giants 20th anniversary swag was my go-to hoodie for playing poker. It featured a piece of art from their first EP: a cartoon snowman warming their mitts over a fire of burning money. It just somehow seemed appropriate.

Poker Mutant goes to the 2012 Pendleton Poker Round-Up Main Event.

I was wearing it the night I won a seat to the Pendleton Poker Round-Up Main Event at Players Club (and my wife had an unrelated heart attack the next morning). I was wearing it when I had my largest-ever cash, at Chinook Winds, placing 3rd out of a 462-entry field (how is that five years ago?).

But given tat TMBG has been around forever now, the 20th-anniversary hoodie is itself two decades long in the tooth, with the black faded and the screen printing cracked and the seam on the hood torn several inches. They hadn’t ever revived the design for a hoodie.

Until this winter, when they announced a red version. Which I promptly ordered two of. I didn’t need a daily-use poker hoodie any longer, but I do walk a couple miles to work and back, and I can always use a couple extras during the winter (I did get a very nice PokerStars hoodie when I was on the Poker In the Ears podcast a couple years ago).

The package arrived quickly and when I got home I opened it immediately, only to have that familiar sausage-squeezed-into-casing feeling when I slid the first of the new hoodies on. Had I put on (more) weight? Was XL the new XXL? No, the invoices and packaging said XXL, but the tag on the hoodie itself said XL.

So that seems like a big screw-up, probably on the part of the clothing/silkscreen contractor, and probably something that wasn’t particular to my order, which was confirmed when I contacted the seller to swap them out.

So, if you play against me anytime this month, it’s the old, ratty hoodie you’ll be seeing.

As for where February takes me, I’m planning to hit Portland Meadows for The Biggest of Os tournament the first weekend. Then, I noticed that Ignition Casino is running satellites to the Irish Poker Open, which hearkens back to a goal from a dozen years ago, when I started this blog. So, I hope to be doing a few of those. And at the end of the month, it’s back to Lincoln City for the PacWest Poker Classic at Chinook Winds. Probably not a lot of other live poker. I’m retired!

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 [ad jc] 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 [9d 8s] and getting called by [ad qh]. Down to 30bb, he shoved hands 5, 6, and 7.

On hand 8, he open-shoved from the button and I called with [ts kc], exposing his [qs 8h]. 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 [7d 5h]. The original raiser called with [ts qd] 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 [4s qs] 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 [9c 8c] 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 [9c kd] against my [jh ks] 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 [as 7c] and 4bb in the BB, a big stack shoved [2h 4h], 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 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 [ks th 8s] 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.

Poker Time: 3 SETS for WSOP Finalist Jacki Burkhart! (Part 1—UPDATED)

Poker Mutant makes an appearance on PokerTime over the next few weeks, playing with all the fan faves: TerminatorWonkaDestroyer of WorldsDigital Dan, plus my former Vegas housemate Jeff Mitseff, double WSOPC Ringbearer Jeff Dobrin, and non-Jeff WSOP Ladies tournament final tableist Jackie Burkhart.

This wasn’t as exciting a session for me as it was for Jackie or Mitseff, but I promise my VPIP goes up in the next one. It can’t go down!


Technically, it could go down, but I had a VPIP of just over 4% for that session (maybe 8% if I played the hand that was edited out, I can’t remember what it was), putting extra money into the pot just one hand out of 24.

I was on the button the first hand (where Jackie gets felted by Dobie) with [9s 5s]. My hands, in succession are:

  1. button [9s 5s]
  2. cutoff [qd 2c]
  3. hijack [8h 5s]
  4. UTG2 [6h 5s]
  5. UTG1 [kh 5d] the hand where Jacki has a set of aces and loses on the river
  6. UTG [9c 2d]
  7. BB [qh jh] I call Terminator’s raise ([5s 5c]) to 30 along with Digital Dan ([ah js]), and fold to a bet from Dan on the ace-high flop
  8. SB [kd 5c]
  9. button [td 5s]
  10. cutoff [td 5c]
  11. hijack [8h 5c]
  12. UTG2 [9c 4d]
  13. UTG1 [ts 3h]
  14. UTG [7d 5d]
  15. BB [th 4d]
  16. SB [5s 2s]
  17. button [7s 4s]
  18. cutoff [9d 5d]
  19. hijack [tc 7d]
  20. UTG2 [8c 3c]
  21. UTG1 hand edited out
  22. UTG [5s 3c]
  23. BB [qs 9c]
  24. SB [5c 4s]
  25. button [7s 6h]

#PNWPokerCal Planner for 4 January 2017

Happy Poker New Year from Las Vegas! I’m down here in a city with its own bagpiper blowing to announce the coming of…whatever.

I missed all of the New Year’s Eve shenanigans here (though I was at a party in Beaverton with an upside-down Christmas tree), catching an emptyish 8am flight on the 1st so I could take a shot at a $100K guarantee event at the Venetian. The first couple of levels were fantastic, and I almost tripled my stack. It was slower going after that, though I was still in good shape, knocking out three players from a table that included WSOP bracelet-holders Allyn Shulman and her husband Barry Shulman, who own CardPlayer Magazine, A little brush with poker media dynasty, that. Allyn started at the table, Barry showed up several levels in as tables were consolidating, then Allyn busted and I ran [qx qx] into Barry’s [kx kx] and was severely crippled before I went out two hands later after I limped [ax jx] got called by [2x 2x] in the big blind, and jammed into him on a [kx jx 2x] flop. That was it for me in the $100K.

If you look closely, you’ll see Kao Saechao in the standings with a decent stack. Day 2 starts with 74 and pays 54. It’ll all be over by the time you read this.

Played a little PLO, went back to the room and got into a WSOP.com $20K where I did well for a while but was hobbled by the fact I hadn’t realized it was a rebuy and addon (it pays to look at the structure before you buy in at the last minute!) then was playing catchup and was crippled (again) when I called a 15bb late-position all-in from the big blind with [ah qs] and [qd tc] hit a ten right on the flop. That left me in the small blind with 1bb behind. I managed to quadruple up with a flush on the next hand but ran into quad queens just five hands later.

Monday morning I took a shuttle to the Orleans (free from the spot under the Linq) and waited around for a table to open up. For the unacquainted, the casino is full of very old people. I mean, even older than me. And it’s the place to go for Limit Omaha games. They had several tables of O8 at 4-8 and 8-16 (both with kills) running on a Monday morning. Admittedly, it was the Monday after a holiday, but there were 16 cash game tables running, more than anywhere except Bellagio at that time of day. Even as I write this at 2am on Tuesday, Aria has 19 tables, Bellagio has 16, and the Orleans has 12. The Venetian has 9. The wait, though, was long enough that I considered getting off the list to just play the noon O8 tournament, but I late-regged that instead and made it partway through.

There was one amusing hand in the first hour or so, where I was dealt [ac ad ah as], which is about as bad a hand as you can get in any version of Omaha, but I limped in just to see what would happen. I had another hand where I bluffed that I had a flush with the nut low draw on the turn (with 2s counterfeited by the flop) and not only made my low against an all-in player but bet another player off and took the high with a paired 4. Lost a big pot when my own low was counterfeited on the river and it was down from there.

Played a smaller WSOP.com tournament and made the money, though it was only about enough to cover lunches for the days I’m here.

Tuesday was the $300 bounty tournament at the Venetian. It got 139 entries but I only made it through the first three levels, losing small amounts on a couple hands (including laying down [kc kh] on an ace-high board with two diamonds to a bet of half my remaining chips to a guy who showed the [6d 2d] he’d called my pre-flop raise with). awadI raised [kh jh] in a hand and was called by Hani Awad, whose WSOP bracelet win I covered this summer. Awad ended up calling my bluff on a queen-high board with [7x 9x] and middle pair (the seven), but he’d already knocked out several players and had probably close to five times my stack. He took me out a couple hands later when I shoved [ax qx] pre-flop, he called with [9x tx] from the big blind, and he made two pair by the turn. Not my finest hour. The final numbers for the tournament were $20,850 in the main prize pool, with an extra $13,900 in bounties, and $5,842 scheduled to go to first place. I talked briefly to Awad after he busted me, and he showed me he was wearing his bracelet, so some people at least don’t just toss them in a box or hock them on eBay.

I’d been planning to play the 7pm tournament (a $200 bounty) but decided to force myself to play some cash game. I herded back to the Orleans, sitting in the back seat of the shuttle with some tweaker gal who had “something something HELL” as her tramp stamp complaining about how long her free ride to was taking, had some surf and turf for brunchinner (a single meal for the day), then got on some lists.

A $1/$3 NLHE game opened up relatively fast, and I sat down in seat 5. I was under the gun and raised the first hand I was dealt—[th 8h]—then was reraised by seat 7 to $30. Two players called, and I put in the extra $20. The flop was [7c 6h 5c], I’ve got an open-ended straight draw for the ten, a backdoor flush draw, so I check it, then seat 7 shoves for more than my remaining stack of $170. The other callers fold, and it’s up to me. I called, the dealer put out a [6s] on the turn and [8s] on the river. I can only assume the guy shoved with [ax kx] because my two pair ended up taking the pot. From there on it was a mostly upward trajectory for ninety minutes, then I checkout out to go call my wife for the evening before deciding whether to play the $75 PLO tournament at 7.

I got into the game late, just as the last level before the break was starting. There were only two tables and I had to wait as an alternate for a couple of minutes while a player who busted just as I was registering kept up a steady stream of complaints about having to go on the alternate list. A spot opened up for him by the time I got to my seat.

I lasted all of ten minutes. I picked up a hand with a pair of aces, raised, was reraised from the other end of the table, made a 4-bet (we weren’t particularly deep at this point, less than 40bb) and he went all in with pocket kings which made a set on the turn. Back to the cash games, after having evened up the day before the tournament.

It took about 40 minutes in the $4/$8 O8 game for me to make up the tournament buyin and a little more. Got on the shuttle bus, had an interesting conversation with a cigar distributor from LA who mentioned he comes up to Portland several times a year, and decided to see what the cash games at the poker room in the Flamingo were like.

The only time I’d played at the Flamingo before was in a late-night turbo tournament. The first thing I noticed after I sat down was that the place was a hotbox. I just about pulled up stakes and left after the first orbit, and had just determined I couldn’t stand it any longer when they finally turned the A/C on. Other than that, things went well and I booked a third winning cash session for the day, picking up another $50 in an hour before I told myself that I had to get to my room to get some sleep before a very early morning shuttle to the airport. No sleep before I wrote this for you folks, of course.



Portland Meadows ran the first Survivor-style tournament in Portland (that I’m aware of) on New Year’s Eve. I wasn’t able to make it myself because of other pre-Vegas commitments, but  it seems to have been well-received. It’s a bit difficult to make comparisons between this and similar tournament that don’t have add-ons, but thirteen players made as much as 1200% ROI on their buy-in (less if they did the addon or re-entry) in just over six hours, with a friend who made it through texting me the chop came at 6:09pm. Everyone got plenty of time to go out to celebrate the end of the year with their newfound cash.

If it had been a straight 10% payout for 10% of the players (with no add-on) that would have been $1,000 for a $100 buyin (assuming 130 players and a $13,000 prize pool). If the prize had been set at $1,000, there would have been 17 players paid $1,000 (13% of the field) with an 18th player getting $380. With standard payout structures, 10% of the prize pool is usually between 3rd and 4th place money in a field of 130.


Nothing new to report. No unexpected closures (a couple of early closings for New Year’s Eve). The Game should be re-opening tomorrow. Rialto’s been open, Aces Full ran a game on Monday for the holiday, and hopefully (I haven’t seen an announcement yet) Final Table will be running a $20K this weekend.


Monday. tournament director Matt Savage asked the question that many in the poker Twitterverse had been wondering about for over a week: “Where is @limonpoker”? The best-known personality on Live at the Bike has been a constant presence on Twitter for years, but mentioned during a pre-Christmas #PokerSesh that some Trump supporters had ganged up to get the account suspended because of his rather outspoken anti-Trump posts (of which there were many).

In Monday’s #PokerSesh (for the uninitiated, his weekly freeform call-in show), Limon mentioned that he’s not going to bother returning to Twitter (sad!) or any other social media, and offered up his back catalog to anyone who want to select segments and post them on YouTube and promote them to try to make money. Crowdsourcing his promotional efforts, in other words. Not insignificantly, for someone to get access to the videos in order to watch them and pull out segments, they’d have to at least temporarily subscribe to Live at the Bike at $20/month…not really PNW news, but Limon’s an Oregon kid….

Deal of the Week: Bay 101 Shooting Star Satellites

The WPT is coming back to Bay 101 for the popular Shooting Star bounty championship in early March, and it’s preceded by a week of daily mega satellites. $275 Satellites have been running since December, but the big ones start 18 February, with daily $550 satellites running 25 February through 1 March and $1,050 sattys for three days starting 2 March.

Bay 101 publishes the payout structures for their satellites, and you can see from the payouts on the $275 events that unless they get 48 players, no seat is awarded (with the money getting paid out on a standard curve), and with 48—79 entries, only one $7,500 seat is awarded, so the odds aren’t exactly good enough to travel to the Bay Area if what you want is a seat. But the $550 and $1,050 buyins are a good buy if you want to get into the Main Event (which begins on 6 March).

This Week In Portland Poker

The big game this weekend should be the First Friday $20K at Final Table.

Only a Day Away

The poker world is ramping back up after the holidays!

  • The Venetian New Year’s Extravaganza runs through Sunday. The last big event starts today with the first of four $250 entry flights to a $150 Guarantee. Evening games are a mixture of bounty, rebuy, and turbo tournaments.  You can get updates on current tournaments at their blog.
  • I missed it somehow, but the WPT California Swing Kickoff has a 2-day $100K Guarantee with a $250 buyin that starts today. Two flights tomorrow, with Day 2 on Friday. Saturday is a one-day $400 entry $100K guarantee, and Sunday there’s a WPT Rolling Thunder satellite with $400 entry that has 20 $3,500 Rolling Thunder Main Event seats guaranteed. I’d probably have gone there this weekend instead of Vegas if I hadn’t missed it on the schedule.
  • Another one that snuck past me is the Hustler Casino Poker Players Tournament (could they get any more generic?), which starts a $400 buyin $500,000 Guarantee today, with two flights each day through Sunday and Day 2 on Monday. I don’t know how that got by me. Progressively fewer people make it to Day 2 on each starting day (10% today, 9% Thursday, and 8% after that). Next week is a $250K Guarantee for a $250 entry, with 15% in the money.
  • Eugene’s Full House Poker has a Heads Up-Championship coming up, on 7 & 8 January. It’s a bracket-style elimination competition where you can buy 1 or more spots on the bottom bracket, at reduced rates. Seating is limited, so contact them for details and availability.
  • The Heartland Poker Tour East Chicago series starts 12 January with a $300 buyin $100K Guaranteed tournament. There are three entry days, with Day 2 on 15 January. The first of three Main Event flights in on 19 January. It’s still possible to get flight/room packages at the hosting casino for either tournament for less than $600 total. Last year’s opening $100K had a prize pool of $298K, and the $1,650 Main Event prize pool was over $900K, with a top prize of $211K.
  • Commerce Casino‘s LA Poker Classic  begins a seven-week run on 13 January.  There are a total of 60 events, with eleven of them having guarantees of $100K or more, plus the $10K buyin WPT Championship that caps the series. Structures have been posted for about half of the events so far. Of particular note for Portland players is the $570 entry Big O tournament on Groundhog Day (2 February).
  • The 2-week Tulalip Poker Pow Wow starts 14 January with a $10K Guarantee, then a week including O8, HORSE, and PLO, before the $50K Guarantee and $100K Guarantee events on succeeding weeks.
  • The $40K Guarantee Stones Gambling Hall Chip Amplifier is 15 January outside of Sacramento. Buyin in level 1 is $120 for 10K in chips, but the price and the number of chips go up for each level, with the last one being level 6 where $550 gets you 60K in chips.
  • It’s back to Thunder Valley on the 17th, with Poker Night in America.As they’ve done before, they’re running satellites to the $5,000 buyin televised cash game (filmed 28/29 January), as well as a slate of 12 tournaments that features two $250K Guarantees (the first for a $450 buyin and the second for $1,100). In-between, there’s 6-Max, HORSE, and lots of satellites to the second of the $250Ks.

Remember to keep an eye on the #PNWPokerCal Twitter hashtag and the PNW Poker Calendar for upcoming events!

W-Day Plus 33: Independence Day


Lest anyone think that this blog is going to turn into another guy complaining about his bad beats at the tournament table and life, let me just stipulate that I do have some winning sessions, and that as much as many of my old colleagues from my professional (not poker) career express bewilderment at how I ended up in my current circumstances, there are a lot of people worse off than myself, a middle-aged guy who’s had to go a thousand miles away from wife and home to take a job that’s populated mostly by people who could be my children (and who have more experience as live reporters and better poker resumes than me, in most cases, though perhaps not the same world-weary perspective on, well, everything).

IMG_2882Live reporting hours are long. If an event starts at 3pm on a Day 1, there’s no dinner break, you work 10 hour-long levels with an hours of 15-minute breaks every 2 levels, so it wraps up about 2am. But as a reporter, you need to write an intro for the day as well as finish up any hands and write a recap at the end of the day, and someone needs to write the intro for the next afternoon, so you get there an hour early don’t usually leave the building until 2:30 or 3am. A 2pm restart for Day 2 or Day 3 means you get to the Rio by 1pm or 1:30 at the latest, and with the dinner break, play goes through to 2am again, and again with the recap. So figure 13 to 14 hours at least two days in a row. a little less on the third day if someone wins on schedule, but I’ve had one event where the last two players at the end of Day 3 agreed to play an extra level to finish things off, and then with the Mixed Omaha we had three full days plus the extra hour in Day 4. I’m on salary, but I figure with the number of days I’m working, if I was getting paid overtime, I’m still well ahead of what I have been doing to pay the bills, but it’s not what I was making ten years ago as a programmer or twenty-five years ago in the printing industry.

If the only people who want to hire me any more are poker people, I’ll take it. I’ve made a lot of friends in the world of poker and I’ve got enough of an ego left (did I ever mention that I was once in the Oregonian’s list of the 200 “Most Interesting People in Portland”?) that I get a kick out of someone mentioning they read the blog. Got an invite to a party yesterday at the house where a bunch of the Oregon dealers are staying out in Summerlin (see photos above).

Refreshed from Jello-O shots and America beer, I returned to the house and fired up a 0.25/0.50 PLO8 table. Played 35 minutes and made almost 200 big blinds. Then jumped into 3/6 Stud 8, jumped out after 20 minutes up 6 big bets. Made 18 big blinds profit in a 5-Max NLHE game, then went to bed.

Two more weeks here in Vegas. Tomorrow I jump into the middle of the $1,500 Stud 8 tournament.


W-Day Plus 1: Memories


No exhaustive post today. I’m not exhausted, either, after getting my first good night’s rest since leaving Portland.

Didn’t do much in the early part of the day. I had been scheduled to cover the first day of the Colossus, but due to a couple of live reporters wanting to play the Casino Employees event, that went on my ticket, so I had about 36 hours until my next event, the afternoon flight of the second day of entries.

I did head over to a computer shop here in town to get some RAM for my trusty MacBook. I’d intended to upgrade the memory for a while. It’s one of the late 2008 aluminum-body models that came with 2GB of RAM, which was perfectly fine a couple of years ago, when I started to do some 3D modeling in Cinema 4D for a Civil War battlefield visitor’s center, but the newer operation system upgrades have made it grind to a halt just opening Safari. A very nice young tech named Jessica at Century 23 here in Vegas had the 4GB modules I needed in stock and popped them in for me in just a few minutes.

Went back to the house, rested for a while, then headed out to the Venetian for the 7pm bounty tournament (Deepstack Extravaganza #14). I chipped up quickly, knocked out an angry old man who was like a tall version of Portland’s Sleepy Don, took another bounty from a kid with a Muckleshoot cap, then lost a race against a female player from Portland, and doubled up another player when I called his all-in with [ah th] on a [qx tx 6x] board. He showed [kx kx], I got an ace on the turn, then the jack on the river took a big chunk of my chips. My final downfall was when I shoved [kc 9s] from the button and [qx jx] called all in with a shorter stack from the small blind. I had him covered by 600 chips at 800/1.6K/200, he caught a jack on the flop and stayed ahead. I went out the next hand.

Thought I might try my hand at the 1/2 Big O game. There was a seat open and I was able to sit without waiting. I won a little hand that put me ahead after twenty minutes of folding and paying blinds, making top and bottom pair on the flop, then top two pair on the turn and a full house on the river. Then:

Of course, the guy who was driving the action on the flop lost everything, too. Big O is The Devil’s Game.

Headed home after managing to turn a partial loss into a total loss. Slept like a baby in the A/C. Off to cover the second day of the Colossus today!