Once it was obvious I wasn’t winning the Player of the Year pool money for a WSOP buy-in this year, I decided to step up my tournament play to see if I could make it up that way. Of course, after Black Friday, that meant more live tournaments, and I got off to a great start with the freeroll I played in early May and the turbo a couple of nights later that gave me back to back first-place finishes. Needless to say, that record hasn’t been maintained through the past six weeks, but I have stayed at around a 25% cash average since the first of June. 6 cashes in 26 tournaments.
The last one is the most interesting (and frustrating) to me. DV and I entered Encore’s monthly $10K Guarantee with the agreement that we’d split any winnings, the same agreement we’d made before the Ace of Spades game a couple of weeks earlier.
My game got off to a great start. I was in seat 4 and picked up 8x8x on the third hand of the match as SB. I’d lost a few chips on the earlier hands but still had about 9,500. The flop was 7x6x5x and I started betting heavily. The field narrowed to me and BB who stayed in. The turn 4x gave me my straight and I really pushed but there was a flush draw on the board, as well and BB re-raised. I shoved, he called, and he missed his flush but I got 9x for an even higher straight. He was seriously crippled by the fourth hand and I was over 19K.
The first of my big mistakes came shortly thereafter. I had 6♣8♣, two clubs showed on the flop, and I got into a bidding war with seat 7 that ended up with me having about 7,000 chips in by the river, which gave me a flush. Seat 7 turned up two pair and I flipped over 6♣8♠, which paired an 8x on the board but wasn’t a flush. I sucked up the loss of most of the gain I’d made just a few hands earlier and kicked myself for wearing contacts instead of my glasses.
I played AxJx and paired the Jx high card on the flop but was beat by pocket KxKx and was down to 11K.
An all-diamond flop forced me to lay down 700 chips along with J♥T♠. Likewise, I raised 800 on A♣Q♣ and folded when the top cards on the flop were K♦7♦.
A♦2♦ gave me diamonds for a change and I made a set of deuces but four hearts on the board made a flush for someone and I was down to 8,000 chips.
The last hand before the first break put QxQx into my hands and I managed to practically double up by busting out a player. After buying the 7K add-on, I had 25,500.
This, of course, did not last long. I bet big with A♥T♥ on a TxQxKx flop and another player came over the top, leaving me with 17K by the end of that hand. Then a pair of 9x9x lost me 4,325 more when I called an all-in and their J♣T♣ drew to a flush on the river. At the three hour mark my stack was back down to 11,875.
AxJx (not a Mutant Jack) took down the blinds for me when I opened with a raise to 2,500. Then I called a bb of 800 and folded to an all-in.
Ax5x is usually something I dislike playing but I saw a 5xTx5x on the flop and bet erratically, which ended up making me 20K. The guy next to me said he had no idea what I had.
Then I was lucky enough to grab a pair of KxKx as BB and went all-in after a 5K raise from the CO. He called, showed AxQx and almost made a straight (though that was more difficult with two of the kings in my hand), and I was up to 40K. By break three that was 59,400.
Back in the thick of things, K♦4♦ hit two pair on the flop and ended up with two players all-in against me when another 4x showed on the river, knocking them both out. By 4 hours and 30 minutes in I had 76,500.
I called a raise to 2K with Q♣T♣ but had to fold to two all-in bets, then lost another 6600 with A♣3♣ after a flop that utterly failed to connect.
My QxTx made two pair on the flop after I bet 5K pre-flop, and I called another player’s all-in. They showed four to a straight but beat me with a royal flush on the turn. That cost me about 30K and left me with 40,000 in chips at the 3 hours and fifty minutes mark.
I raised to 6K with another A♠5♠ and was re-raised. The re-raiser showed KxKx at showdown with another player. I would have made two pair on the board but a flush came and I would have lost anyway.
Five hours into the match, I was down to 22,000 chips, only 5K above the amount I’d received as a starting stack and add-on.
I managed to steal the blinds and antes with an all-in holding A♦9♦. At least I was big enough for the people at my table not to want to tangle with me all of the time.
Fifteen minutes later I was up to 24,500, with my ill-gotten blinds and antes.
I knocked out another player by calling an all-in with KxQx. They held Kx9x and stayed behind across the board. The Mutant Jack J♣A♣ made two pair on the flop and earned me another 10K. Five hours and thirty minutes into the game, I’d made it back up to 45,500.
A Mutant Jack of hearts (A♥J♥) and a bet of 12K got a call and then took the pot for me. Then I played a dangerous 3x3x, hitting a set on the flop and won another pot. Took out a player when the Q♦J♦ paired the queen. By six-and-a-quarter hours, my stack was finally over the chip average again, with 95,000.
Raising to 15K with KxQx, another player came over the top and I laid it down, which was good because the hand went to showdown and I would have lost to the AxAx. Playing another A♣5♣ (see above), I caught the flush and took in over 50K, which put me at 131,500 by six hours and forty-five minutes.
Laid down another KxQx and 8K on a call to an all-in. Some more proffers gone wrong cut me down again to 80K in just half an hour.
Pocket 8x8x made quads for me, knocking out another player (who was holding AxJx) and getting my stack out of the doldrums. At the 8K/16K/2K level, a raise to 36K with Ax9x took down the blinds. The I used AxJx and knocked another player out. My stack was up to 220K just shy of eight hours into the tournament.
A call on my part with 3♥6♥ lost me my BB and another 11K calling an all-in. I lost an extra 10K as the SB at the 10K/20K?4K level calling to see the flop with Q♠9♠ and folding to a post-flop bet from BB after my hand missed.
Ax9x again and a 40K min-raise took down the blinds again.
I called a small all-in with J♥5♥. He flipped over 2x2x. The odds calculators say that one’s a coin flip but if he’d had anything higher than a pair of 4x4x I probably would have lost. I didn’t, though and another player was down.
My last hand was played at 20K/40K/4K. I was in seat 5 at the final table, with eight players remaining, on BB with about 200K behind. There were somewhere over 2.3 million chips in play at the table, but about half of them were in the hands of the player in seat 7. A couple players had between 300K and 400K and the rest of us were down to just three or four big blinds. UTG folded and the big stack as UTG1 opened with a raise to 600K. Action folded around to SB, who went all-in. I had a clubby Mutant Jack: A♣J♣. I was all-in. The giant stack turned over 6x6x, SB had me dominated with A♠K♣. Both the ace hands were losers, though, as the pair held up across the board. Two clubs on the board left me just short of what would have been a nut flush. I went out in seventh or eighth place; since the payout for both was the same, they didn’t count the chips to see who’d been ahead.
If my back hadn’t been to the screen, I might have made the wiser choice to lay down and let the the endgame play out. We were just short of the big money in the tournament, players were going to have to make moves just to stay ahead of the voracious blinds, and I likely could have moved up the pay scale by letting the blinds wash over me. After another 20K for the small blind, I wouldn’t have had to deal with them for a few hands and there would have been time for someone else to bust out (which happened on the next hand).
Nine-and-a-half hours. Finished 7th/8th of 141 players. +210% ROI (including buy-in, add-on, tip).
This was probably the most “interesting” game I’ve played lately, but not because of the cards. The field was small, about 20 players and I was at the middle table in seat 1. Seat 5 had a burly guy named B who everyone knew and who had amassed a big stack of chips by a couple of hours into play. S was a woman seated down at seat 7. Seat 9 was a hyperkinetic kid I’d run into earlier in the day in another tournament who I could imagine calling himself a “baller” and who kept up a steady stream of patter meant to burnish his image as a man in the know.
Blinds were climbing, I picked up 9x9x in early position and three-bet with about half my stack after an all-in from seat 9. Action folded to B who moved all-in with more than enough to cover me. When it got back around to me I called and B triumphantly flipped over JxJx. Unfortunately for him, a 9x came on the flop and I doubled up with my set, carving a big chunk out of B’s stack. “You weren’t supposed to call me!” he bellowed. “Not with nines!” His friend S joined in the affirmation that it was a donk call. I half-jokingly mentioned that I was pot-committed and they proceeded to tell me I shouldn’t throw around terms I didn’t understand. Just to defuse the situation, I said that I’d meant it jokingly, but since when does having half your stack exposed not make you pot-committed? Then they started in on how far behind I was. I said I wasn’t that far behind, and they didn’t like that answer at all, claiming that I was a 4:1 dog.
Of course, that’s the truth if you look at the numbers in an absolute sense. At the time he went all-in, B didn’t know what I had. I didn’t know what he had when I called. He could have been trying to bluff me off and take my raise with a drawing hand. If I’d had KxKx, I would have made the same bet, but he didn’t know that. Where the conventional wisdom is wrong, though is that in terms of relative strength, with three players in the hand (as we were) JxJx loses 39% of the time. 9x9x loses 45% of the time. The relative differential between the two is quite small.
At the next break the hyperkinetic kid came up to me to offer words of advice about how B & S were big-shot players and I shouldn’t get them riled up disputing odds and poker terminology. That was sort of irritating.
B didn’t have a lot of chips left after that hand and was out before the final table. S and the HKK were there, with S seated next to me in seat 6 and HKK down at 3. I wasn’t keeping notes on this game but blinds were rising up and I picked up 7x7x in middle position. I made a large raise after a not-particularly-great flop, putting me heads-up with HKK who called and then bet in the dark. A 7x came on the turn and I went all-in. HKK called and lost to my set. I mentioned in passing that the bet in the dark schtick wasn’t necessarily a great idea and he went ballistic, saying I shouldn’t be telling him what to do. When I pointed out that he’d been “offering” me advice earlier it just seemed to irritate him further but I just didn’t really care.
4 hours. Finished 5th of 21 players. -9% ROI (including buy-in, add-on, tip).
I’ve gotten increasingly lax about taking notes on my live games, which is really too bad because this tournament represented the biggest single cash I’ve ever had (though only in absolute terms, not in profit or ROI). I’d gone down in flames in the $10K just a couple days before and my profit for the month had taken a beating; I’d lost seven straight tournaments (as well as a satellite and a shootout buy-in). After being up half a grand after the two early May wins, I was back where I’d started.
Somehow, though, the evening went reasonably well. I was down below starting stack at one point early on but managed to keep climbing and made it to the final table with more than 40K in chips. There was a prize pool of $1,740, with 5 places paying. A rather hyperactive young guy was jumping up and down in his seat whining for a chop but the old guy at the table, R, wouldn’t have any of it. The kid’s friends started in as the match dragged on and it seemed to just made R dig his heels in even more.
I hacked down a couple of the last players and as we moved into three-handed play in the fourth hour I had more than half the chips in play, with 105,000. The kid was on the light side, still agitating for a chop. I tried to let them hack at each other as much as possible—the blinds were getting to the point where they had to take some sort of action—and eventually R took the kid out.
He proposed a chop at that point—at least I think he did it was a bit difficult to tell—but I was feeling confident I could whittle away at him. I should have taken count of my chips better, though, because were were more evenly-matched than I realized. Eventually, we got to a situation where he called a re-raise all-in and I called with KxJx, only to have him flip AxQx. We both paired on the board, but his was better than mine and I was knocked down to about 35K, about a 1:5 disadvantage. I managed to crawl back up to 80K, but it was tough going with blinds at 5K/10K and I eventually gave busted out in second place about the same time the 10PM Turbo tournament was ending.
4.5 hours. Finished 2nd of 29 players. +275% ROI (including buy-in, door, tip).