The Main Event Comes of Age, Revisited

During the 2015 WSOP Main Event, I wrote an article for PokerNews on the trend toward younger winners at the World Series of Poker Main Event over the past decade, and provided an interactive chart of everyone since 2005. That was before 72-year-old Pierre Neuville and 61-year-old Neil Blumenfield made the final table.

Over at the 2+2 Pokercast last week, the hosts attributed a quote to Dan Harrington from 2004, saying that nobody over 40 would ever again win the Main Event. Obviously, that didn’t happen last year, but with the chip leader this year being Cliff Josephy, who’s 51, the possibility exists for Harrington’s prediction to fall.

Josephy doesn’t have the kind of lead that Joe McKeehan had in 2015, and he’s the only player 40 or older as we go into the hiatus for the November Nine. Qui Nguyen, in second place in chips, is 39, however, so there’s a possibility he might turn 40 before the final table starts back up. Not sure whether that qualifies as “over 40” by Harrington’s standards.

If it does, then the prediction is already busted. Jerry Yang was 40 when he won the Main Event in 2007. And that year, by the time the table was down to three players, the title was going to someone 40 or older no matter what, because Yang’s opponents were Tuan Lam (41, in second place) and Raymond Rahme (62, in third). If Darvin Moon had beat Joe Cada in 2009, he would have been 45, and there were two other players at the table who were over 40. Joe Hachem was 39 when he won—the year Harrington made his prediction—so maybe it wasn’t such a good call.

In the years following the boom of online poker, there was likely some effect on the ages of Main Event final tablists, but some research would need to go into determining how much of that was the result of a volume of players of younger ages entering the tournament. There have been 108 players that have reached the official final table of the Main Event from 2005 to now, 16 of them (just under 15%) were over 40. Six of the top 3 finishers from 2005 to 2015 (18%) were were 40 or older: Yang, Lam, and Rahme in 2007; Dennis Phillips in 2008; Darvin Moon in 2009, and Blumenfield in 2015.

Back before the WSOP started, I was asked on a podcast that shall go unnamed what odds I’d put on a player 40 or older winning the Main Event. I took the number of players from last year’s final table that fit the category, divided by the number of overall players, and rounded down to come up with 4:1. It got a bit of laughter from the hosts who are, I believe, both under 40, which I am definitely not. But looking back over this data, I think my off-the-cuff prediction wasn’t too far off.

The chart below has the finishing places for all of the years up to 2015. Positions for 2016 are by chip count at the start of this year’s November Nine. (Updated 2 November 2016 to show the ages of 2016 finishers!) The line with the circles is the winner (or chip leader, for 2016) and the line with the square is the runner-up. You can roll over each year to see names and positions.

#PNWPokerCal Planner for 27 July 2016

A little later post for today’s Planner than usual due to a last-minute engagement last night, but worry not, I’m not going away for a while.

Poker Portland

Despite all the gloom and doom, there is still poker being played in town. I haven’t made the rounds of all of the clubs, but I dropped in on Monday at Final Table for their 11am tournament, which has now been bumped up to a $1,500 guarantee (from $1,000). The format has changed somewhat since May, with two live rebuys ($20 for each buyin) rather than felted rebuys. I hate live rebuys, but I like 11am. What can you do? They got 31 players, 32 rebuys, and 23 addons (also $20), for a prize pool of $1,720 and $695 for 1st. Just missed the money there.

Tuesday was The Game. I got there not long after opening while the single table they had was running 1/1 NLHE, didn’t get seated until just before noon when the game switches to 1/2. A couple of players wandered in after 1pm and went on the list. No second table by the time I left before 2pm.

Earlier today I made my first trip back to Portland Meadows since I got back a week ago. Their noon $1,500 guarantee started off with just a single table, but was up to 38 entries with 10 rebuys ($30 each) by the time I busted in round 5 (no rebuy for me today). They were still under the guarantee, but only by $60 and there was still another 30 minutes left before the break for rebuys and addons. On the way there, I drove by Aces Full (site down for maintenance, it says, and the last item on their official Facebook page is from June, but there was an A-board out front and the ‘OPEN’ sign was on).

Fall Coast Poker Classic Satellites

Every Sunday noon through September 4th, there’s a 1 Seat guaranteed tournament for the Main Event of the Fall Coast Poker Classic at Chinook Winds in Lincoln City. According to Devin Sweet, who’s worked the last couple of Chinook Winds series as a tournament official, the poker room has been moved upstairs.

Photo via Devin Sweet/NW Poker Facebook group.

Details for the series are not yet available on the Chinook Winds web site, but you can check out the NW Poker Facebook link above for a look at the schedule. The Main Event satellites are $20 buyin with a $10 entry fee and $10 dealer appreciation fee, $20 rebuys through level 4 and a $20 addon at level 4. The buyins are for 10K chips, and according to the info on the web site, the dealer appreciation (half the cost of the buyin) only gets you 1K in chips, which seems odd, so check at the desk to make sure it’s not a typo. The addon is 20K. Each Main Event seat is $550 dollars.

Deal of the Week: Surviving the Bike

The WPT Legends of Poker starts its month-long run Thursday at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles. There are a number of interesting events on the schedule, but some items that caught my budget-conscious eye are coming up in the next couple of weeks.

Event 14 is a $240 buyin $500K guarantee with two days of play and five days of entry flights (with two flights per day). 10% of the players from each of the flights go to Day 2. Everyone who makes Day 2 gets $400. You can play more than one flight and if you qualify twice, you get $2K. You can buy directly into Day 2 for $1,750, and there are two mega satellites for Day 2 entry ($200 buyin).

The last two flights for the $500K run on 9 August at noon and 5:30pm. Day 2 is 10 August. Also on 10 August is a $365 Survivor, with a $3K payout for the top 10%. Roundtrip flight to LAX midweek is less than $300 right now, you can take a couple shots at the $500K with a backup for the Survivor (and/or a satellite for the $4K WPT Main Event  the night of the 10th) for about $1,500 plus the cost of a room.

This Week In Portland Poker

Big events are a bit leaner these days. I haven’t spotted any special events this week, but here’s a few items.

  • Friday night at 7pm at Final Table is an $8K guarantee with $40 buyin, 2 live rebuys, and a $40 addon. Next week will be the First Friday $20K, which the July schedule on the site says is $100 with a live rebuy and $50 addon. but which the home page says will be $60 with 2 live rebuys and $40 addon for the 5 August event.
  • The Portland Meadows schedule has a $10K scheduled for Saturday at noon ($70 entry/reentry and $40 addon) and a $5K noon Sunday ($50 buyin and reentry, $30 addon).

Follow @pokermutant on Twitter to get updates on late-breaking specials.

Only a Day Away

  • The Ante Up Poker Tour World Championship continues at Thunder Valley. This weekend is the Monolith (everyone’s going for names inspired by the Colossus, but this just reminds me of 2001), a $250K guarantee with a $425 buyin. There are two flights on Friday (11am and 4pm) and a morning flight on Saturday, with Day 2 on Sunday. Sunday also has a $10K Bounty tournament. Monday is a $5K HORSE event, and two satellites into next wee’s $100K Action 8, NLHE 8-Max tournament ($250 buyin) Next Wednesday is a $20K NLHE 6-Max event, then a 2-day $400 buyin Heads Up tournament on Thursday. Next Friday and Saturday are entry days for the $500K Main Event ($1,650 buyin).
  • This weekend at the WPT Legends of Poker opening is a $200K eventwith six starting flights over three days (Friday through Sunday). $240 buyin with direct buyin on Day 2 (Monday) for $1,500. Next week includes a number of single-day events, including the odd mixture of Big O/Omaha 8/Stud 8 (next Thursday, $235 entry). A week from Friday is the beginning of Event 14, mentioned in the Deal section above.
  • The Tulalip $10K added tournament and Muckleshoot $3K added game are both on Sunday.
  • The Summer SuperStack at Calgary’s Deerfoot Inn kicks off on 10 August. The first event is a C$550 buyin with three starting days.
  • 10 August is also the start of the Venetian August Weekend Extravaganza. The big event is a three entry day $80K for $250. They are partnering with the Bicycle Casino to award seats to the Mega Millions event running during the Legends of Poker.

#PNWPokerCal Planner for 20 July 2016

I’m Baaaack!

I go away for a couple of months and you guys break Portland poker? I can’t leave you alone for a minute!

Seriously, though, I’m a bit sad that after talking up the Portland poker scene for weeks with fellow media, players, and others that near the end of the WSOP the biggest club in town shuts its doors almost overnight. Whatever issues there were with The Club Formerly Known as Encore, I had my two largest-ever cashes there (even though they didn’t report them to Hendon Mob), I had my first-ever cash over $1K there, and it’s where I had my first outright win in a $100+ buyin tournament.

For now, though it looks like the other clubs are operating as usual. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that they’re still there when I get home tonight.


Abe ‘Limon’ is the host of a regular 5/5 PLO game at Commerce Casino in LA, the co-host of Poker Central’s Live at the Bike show Wednesday nights, and the man behind the #PokerSesh (streamed live by Live at the Bike’s Twitch channel on Mondays). I’ve been a guest on #PokerSesh a few times over the past two years, Limon used my research skills to win a $5K prop bet during last year’s WSOP, and we grew up just a few miles (and a few years) apart in Eugene-Springfield. Finally got a chance to meet up at Angel City Brewing in LA (and get my $250) while I was on my way home from Vegas. He’s been very supportive of my writing—mostly because he hates tournament poker—and it was great to get the chance to meet up with him.

Monster Podcast

Mitchell Towner, the winner of the WSOP Monster Stack, was quoted in the official write-up giving props to “some of the podcast guys,” and elaborated in other interviews that specifically he meant whatever it is that Grant Denison and Adam Levy are calling their podcast this week. In the July 14th edition, titled “How to Run a Monster Bluff,” it is revealed that Towner was the college roommate of one of the Poker Guys. Listen to the episode to find out which (I don’t really know, they’re starting to sound so much alike to each other I can’t tell them apart).


I’m shortening the hashtag. Five extra characters available in my tweets!

This Week in Portland Poker

  • PDX Poker Club is no more. But you know that.
  • A&L Sports Pub is jumping into the triple Omaha format with a $3K guarantee Big O/PLO/PLO8 tournament on Saturday at noon. $40 entry/reentry. $30 addon. Chadd is saying something in the comments on the FB post about reenteries being able to buy a double stack for $80, not sure if that applies to original entry or not. Why make these things so obscure? BTW, I still hate FB as a means for getting info out.
  • Portland Meadows Poker Club has stepped up with a $10K guarantee tournament at noon on Saturdays ($70 entry/$40 addon) and a noon $5K ($50 buyin/$30 addon) on Sundays. Not technically special events, but new to the #PDXPokerCal.
  • The Game still has their June calendar up.
  • If you want to make the final table of next year’s WSOP Millionaire Maker, maybe you’d better start playing now at Claudia’s daily tournament.


Only a Day Away

  • The Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza finishes this weekend in Las Vegas. Thursday, Friday , and Saturday are $400 flights into a $200K guarantee with the final day on Sunday. The evening schedule is $300 and $200 (mostly bounty) tournaments.
  • Are you in the LA area? Then you still have time to get to the Hustler Casino’s Grand Slam of Poker. Thursday at 4pm and 7pm are $100 satellites for the $400 buyin $500K guarantee main event. That has two starting flights per day, Friday through Tuesday, with a final day on Wednesday.
  • Today is the start of the Wildhorse Summer Poker Rodeo in Pendleton. Five events Wednesday through Sunday. All at noon. Last year these events got about 275 players each, with prize pools ranging from $17K on Sunday (the smallest) to $80K for the $300 event on Saturday.
  • Thunder Valley outside of Sacramento kicks off the Ante Up Poker Tour World Championship tomorrow with the $155 buyin $100K Catapult tournament. Five starting flights Thursday through Saturday, with final on Sunday. The series has 20 events and multiple satellites, with the main event being a $500K guarantee $1,650 buyin the first weekend of August.
  • At LA’s Bicycle Casino next Thursday, the Legends of Poker gets under way with a 2-day $100K guarantee, $350 buyin freezeout. It runs through the end of August and culminates in a $4K buyin WPT televised event.
  • The last Sunday of the month is 31 July. At 11am there’s a $10K added $275 event at Tulalip Casino north of Seattle. At noon the same day is a $330 buyin $3K added tournament at Muckleshoot Casino, southeast of Seattle.

Check out the #PNWPokerCal for more poker. It’s good to be back!

W-Day Plus 45: Game Over, Man


When last we met, I was off to cover the end of the $1,500 Stud 8 event. The final day was interesting, with some blowups at a table featuring Bryan Devonshire, Gaurav Kalro, and Michael Ross. It may be one of the first times “Angry” John Monnette was observed trying to calm down an argument.  Monnette and Kalro went on to the final table, along with Brandon Shak-Harris, who wore a polar bear suit all three days of the tournament, even on the Thunderdome stage.

The final table was where I made a monumental screw-up, writing down cards on Monnette’s third-place bustout hand in a way that when I wrote it up made it look as if he should have won. It took me more than twenty minutes to figure out the right sequence, and by then I was already in hot water for not getting an important final table elimination up on time. That wasn’t pleasant, and it was less so when I went to the Orleans after David Prociak won his bracelet to try to take my mind off of messing up and lost my buyin on the first hand when I flopped top two with [kx jx] against [kx qx] and the queen came on the turn.

Bricked four tournaments the next day; five if you count the Bovada game I took a couple bounties in without making the money (still a loss). Made a little playing low-stakes cash online.

The next day was Saturday, the first of the starting days of the Main Event. I saw a lot of NW players over the three days, including a lot of Portland Meadows’ Brian Sarchi.

Somehow the schedule I’d been working 2pm or 3pm starts through 2am, seemed to leave more time in the day than the 11am (and now noon) starting times for the Main. And, of course, the fields just got bigger and more draining, with 764 players on 1A ballooning to 4,240 on 1C. The live reporting staff did not grow, however, so we were increasingly spread out over multiple rooms trying to track players and put up content. Despite being pretty drained each day, I fit in a couple of small tournaments on Bovada, getting into the top half of a PLO game and a NLHE Super Turbo, but missing the money on both.

On my day off between 1C and 2C, I did some stuff around the house, then played the WSOP Media Tournament, where fellow reporter Molly Mossey made a better two pair to take most of my chips, then an old lady from Vegas and some dude teamed up to take the last of my chips when I shoved [ax kx] and they had [ax 7x] and [ax jx], both making the low pair. 36th of 100.


Then went to Orleans for the evening, hoping to catch an O8 game. While I was waiting for a seat, I played the 1/3 NLHE, got queens on the first hand, and raised to $20 over a couple of limpers. Two players called, there was a flop of something like [7x 6x 2x] and I bet $50. Two callers again. I’d bought in for $200. One of them had more than that but the other was a little shorter than me. They check to me on the turn and I put in the rest of my chips, and the shorter stack calls with [7x 8x], with a pair, and whacks the eight on the river, leaving me with $17 as I got called over to the O8 game.

That was also a shitshow, as the guy on my right raised every single pot. It wasn’t to his advantage; in the time I was there he made three or four extended trips to the cash machine for fresh hundreds, but the money he was blowing off was not going to me, and the high variance of the bloated pots eventually caught me. He actually got the last of my chips, but he was still down several hundred dollars. Went back to the house, played a $1.25K guarantee on and took fifth place out of 180 for a small amount of redemption.

My last days on the WSOP Live Reporting crew were kind of a letdown. There were more than 3,200 players coming back for Day 2C, with the bulk of them starting the day in Paviliion, the biggest of the rooms, where the cash games are staged through most of the series. More than 350 tables. Part of challenge of live reporting is knowing where people are. With about ten people covering the day, that’s 35 tables each to start the day, and if you’ve ever played an event the size of the Main, you probably know how quickly players get moved around.

Small clubs that use applications like The Tournament Director can find players when they move, but most large tournaments is a little less rooted in the 21st century. The floor staff doesn’t keep track of where players go, they just randomly assign seats with cards. It’s a flexible system that works fine for keeping the game going—the mechanics of the game don’t rely on who is where—but if you have a need to keep track of a chip leader or famous pro in a sea of ball caps and hoodies, you’re SOL. So live reporting teams need to track the players by being at the tables as they break and looking at the seat cards as they move (or asking the players).

Spread out over multiple rooms, though, the Main Event sends players throughout the complex, and they don’t get their seat assignments until they get to the new room, so if a table (or usually 2 or 3 tables) is moving from, say, Pavilion to Amazon, they get walked through the back halls or the main corridor, to a door where they get their seat cards. Which means someone has to follow them from one to another, and hopefully catch each and every one of them as they get their seats. That’s all I did on Day 2C. Didn’t write a word, I think, because the pace of table breaks meant I never really would have had time to get to the other side of the room to my computer to write something up: I would have missed a table breaking or been interrupted so that the hand would have been old news by the time I finished it. I did put in about seven miles of walking, more than twice what I did on usual reporting days, according to my iPhone.

Day 3, I spent the day doing chip counts. Nothing but chip counts. Then on Day 4, I was back on breaking table duty. The duty was a little different, there were only about 750 players to start, everyone was in the Brasilia Room, but the number of notables on each table was concentrated.

Most everyone else uses handwritten notes to track players, but as a multimedia producer and computer programmer, much of my time over the past several decades has been asset tracking, so I went with a little more high-tech approach and used Google Sheets. I could track and update players, switching off between my iPad and iPhone as I needed to charge up. If I saw anything interesting, I just flagged down Will Shillibier or Valerie Cross, who were working the breaking side of the room.

Here’s a sample of the spreadsheet from Day 4. The tournament started off with players in the Tan, Orange, and Purple sections of the room, breaking in that order. I went through the sections trying to get descriptions of the players we were tracking, then I color coded and sorted as players moved. Some of the players in the sample started moved from Orange but everyone here is in Purple (too dark to read black type on, I just used a blue). I could add in players that were added to tracking like Moraes (usually because they had acquired a lot of chips), and players where I missed their seat change went to red with a ‘0’ table number until I found them. My plan was to make the Sheet public for my fellow live reporters, but I never really got the chance to explain it to anyone in time to make it useful, so you, dear reader, are the recipient of my knowledge. Not that it’s all that complicated.


The kerfuffle of the night came at dinner break when PokerNews’ Marty Derbyshire came up to me—while I was looking through eliminations on the Results page for people who would no longer be at tables when I got to them and talking to my wife on the phone—to tell me that we had screwed up the chip leader. I duly reported his observation to our group chat and things hit fans.

IMG_2908For the break posts, live reporters get chip counts as close to the break as possible. Sometimes big hands can make large swings in chips, sometimes action at the table makes it tough to count. That’s info that goes into the live reporting post that’s supposed to be live as soon as the break starts. According to what Marty told me later, Donnie Peters asked the dealer (we can’t touch the chips) break down a player’s stack after break had started, revealing some obscured large-denomination chips. Anyway, I was glad I knew where the guy was sitting when the head of the live reporting team came over to look for himself.

The last two levels after dinner were pretty anticlimactic for me. The pace of table breaks slowed to about one every fifteen minutes as the number of players dropped below 300. Three tables were moved to the feature tables, I tried to get in a hand near the end of the night, featuring a 60bb shove from the big blind into a pot of less than 8bb from brief chip leader Michael Botwin, but it was ruled too insubstantial to be posted. Best I could do with my iPad’s virtual keyboard, which makes entering in cards rather difficult. So I shook some hands, said goodbye to players and co-workers, picked up my check, and left the building while most everyone else was left to cover the last three days of action before the November Nine.

IMG_2914I have a couple of things to wrap up before I leave Las Vegas to see if there’s still poker being played in Portland so I decided to take one last shot at the big time before I left and entered a satellite tournament for the $5K buyin $2M guarantee at the Venetian this weekend. There were 6 seats guaranteed, and at first it looked a little sparse, because there weren’t even 60 players.

The first couple of levels were pretty harsh. I went from 12,000 chips down to 3,375 (I know exactly because there were three 1K chips, three 100s, and three 25s). I had Doug Lee on my left (Lee took 2nd place in last year’s $2M at the Venetian, for $330K). David Levi, who I’ve covered in a number of events over the past several weeks kept coming over and talking to a couple of players at my table—he’s waved hello to me at the WSOP a number of times—but I don’t think he recognized me at without my reporter’s lanyard and in something other than a black shirt. In any case, I knew I was in some deep company.

I recognized Lee but didn’t remember his name or exactly where I knew him from. When I asked him, he wouldn’t tell me, though he said he did remember the card cap and that we’d played together before. He also kept bringing up a hand with [9x 8x] that wasn’t from last night. I did shove and win with [9c tc] against a pair of eights, but the nine-eight doesn’t sound like me. I’ll remember him next time.

I started to come back when I flopped top set with [jx jx] against [qx qx] and doubled up. Then i got aces and raised, and everyone folded when I really wanted a call (I think).

I got it in bad with [kx qx] against [ax kx] and hit the queen on the flop to double up, then took out a shorter stack with [tx tx] v. [8x 8x]. Four hours in, I’d climbed up to 30K, and we had 34 players left, with 11 seats for the $5K and a cash prize of $1,068 for 12th.

We got down to two tables (see seat card above) and I had a guy on my left with about 200K. He announced after a couple of hands that he was “Done,” and he could, indeed, have just blinded off, without there being any way for him to lose out on his seat. I was up to about 70K myself by this time, and in second place on the table, although not really in the position where I could completely sit back.

I picked up [ac kd] in late position. I had 18BB, the big stack was still gone, there were three players to act behind me, and only one of them had a stack my size. I shoved. The button, a man, let’s just say, older than myself, hems and haws about what a position I’ve put him in, and then finally calls with [qs qx]. Fine. I can’t avoid that. The flop has a king on it, but by the river there’s a four-flush on the board and I don’t have that ace. We’re three spots from the money and I’ve got a big blind and an ante left.

I somehow manage to sextuple up on my first hand with [qx 9x]. I get an ace on the next hand and win that, too. Suddenly, I’m not even the short stack any more and we’re in hand for hand.

The big stack comes back, plays some more hands, talks with Doug Lee, then heads out again. We lose another player. I get [kc qc] and shove, I get called by [ax kx], and this time I can’t get lucky.

It’s kind of agonizing to be one card away from getting a chance to play the $5K. No spade on the river of that race with the queens and I’d have been off drinking a beer with the 200K guy with no need to play a hand. Even if the guy hadn’t had queens and folded, I could have made it with the extra round of chips I would have taken in.

Anyway, came home. Played a couple of tournaments on Took third place in a bounty tournament and seven bounties that took a little of the sting off. I think I can hold my own against these guys (yes, that’s the leap of fantasy every wanna-be poker player makes).

Props to both Josh Cahlik and Mickey Doft, who were invaluable sources of info on how to do the right things on the days I worked with them. And to Live Reporting head honcho Rob Kirschen for giving me the chance.

W-Day Plus 43: In the Money


Just a note of good luck to the Oregon players left in the field of 800 for Day 4 of the Main Event. Kao Saechao (above) is in the top half of the field with 410K, everyone left is in the money (1,011 places paid). Nick Davies and Sean McMahon are also still in. I ran across Kao as I was checking counts on notables and big stacks (the British guy whose chips are still stacked on the left is in the top 20, and William Tonking, a November Niner from two years ago is standing on the right).

It’s my last day of work here at the series unless something changes. More on that tomorrow, I think.

W-Day Plus 35: Obligatory Post


My view at the dinner break. Covered Event #60: $1,500 Stud 8 from 2pm to 2am, as we went from 128 players to 14. Only three of the Day 1 Top 10 are still in the tournament; the current chip leader, David Prociak, started yesterday in 104th position. Poker is like that.

Came back to the house, played PLO8 and dropped another 200bb. Got it all in bad once and got it all in good once, in the end it didn’t matter. Poker is like that, too.

Slept. Got up. Now it’s time to go back.

W-Day Plus 34: Brick

Another day off before the big push to the Main Event Saturday. I’ve got a couple of days on the $1,500 Stud 8 coming up, a day off, then all three starting days of the Main on my schedule so far.

Got up and played online for a while yesterday. Some NLHE 6-Max, picked up 80bb (I’m going to start using small ‘bb’ for blinds and ‘BB’ for big bets since that’s how we’re doing it at the WSOP), then rapidly lost 100bb in PLO8. dropped down stakes, regained a little ground in NLHE and PLO8, then bricked three tournaments on and Bovada. Went out shopping for some supplies. Either the food in the WSOP employee lounge is incredibly healthy, or the combination of being up on my feet for much of our thirteen-hour days and being away from my wife’s cooking seems to have dropped some weight off of me, because I had to go out and buy a new belt. It was smaller than the last belt, which is a change.

I’ve been wanting to spend some time playing 4-8 O8 at the Orleans, where I’ve done relatively well, but not enough times to say that it’s a good base line. Funds are limited at the moment after bricking the Survivor tournament the other night, though, and when I got there, I had to make a decision about playing the PLO tournament that was nearing the end of the second level or waiting for a seat in O8. There were only 36 players in the tournament at the time, so no alternate list, and like a moth to the flame, I entered that.

Things got off to a good start. I picked up a set of nines on the first flop and busted a player out when I improved to nines over fives and he had fives over nines. Had aces on my second hand and repotted preflop, then made two pair with queens and threes to knock another hand. So I was up to 30K from 12.5K almost immediately.

It only lasted until just before the break, though. I had top two pair and a jack-high flush draw on an [8c 5x 2c] board, and I potted a raise to 6K which put me nearly all in, then the only player at the table with more chips than me thought for a long time and went all in with a wheel draw, I called, and he got there. I hate rebuy tournaments.


But when I finally did what I went there for, I ran hot. And this time, when I was well up for the night, I just left like I ought to do.

Remko’s 4/8 dumpster fire was running again, and some of the other live reporters were going to Gold Coast for bowling again, but despite it being only about 11pm I was feeling a little tired. And I was wearing sandals. I didn’t want to go out to buy socks just to bowl, so I went to the store on my way home to look for one of the legendary $32 bottles of 12-year Glenfiddich (the tags have been on the shelf for weeks but Smith’s has not had them in stock at any of the stores I’ve been to), I stopped at Pop’s on Decatur for a BBQ sandwich and some onion rings (so much for that smaller belt). Went to a package store and compared the price on their bottle of Glenfiddich (with sales tax, comparable to what I’d pay at home), then went back to the house to eat my sandwich, and play a midnight tournament while trying not to fall asleep. Brick #14. And I suck at bowling.


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 32: No Player


I’m thinking about putting a pin on the “NO PLAYER” button I found the other day so I can wear it just to alert people of my status. Of course, most of the time, I’d wear it with the They Might Be Giants snowman that has been my go-to gear for playing poker the past few years (though the hoodie pre-dates my poker playing).

I got to the Rio yesterday a bit early. We were supposed to be setting up on one of the feature tables, but the only setup going on was for the $50K Players Championship, on Feature Table 3. Andrew Lichtenberger and Craig Blight were still up on the main feature table, so I sat down in the stands for the first time ever. Sort of odd that I hadn’t yet, though I had tripped and gone down face-first a couple of weeks ago walking around on the outside of the main stage (there’s luminescent tape on the edges of a platform that runs from the table to the back of the stage area but that doesn’t work if the lights aren’t on).


Live reporting going on. The real action at the WSOP.

Day 4 of the $1.500 PLO8/O8/Big O tournament did not last long. We had five players coming back, one of them got knocked out in the second hand, then the two chip leaders got into a hand close to the end of the first hour that ended up with Gavin Smith out in fourth place and Allan Le with more than 80% of the chips in play. It was all over before we were out of the level.

So, I’d skipped a couple of things I had been thinking about playing on my day off because of the extra day, went back to the house, played a little bit of PLO8 on (and lost), then got myself ready for another Survivor tournament at the Venetian.

I thought things might be kind of interesting while I was in line at the cage waiting to get my ticket when I heard one guy trying to explain to another why it didn’t matter how many players were in the tournament, it didn’t affect the size of the payout. But even he seemed to be getting it wrong somehow.

Unfortunately, I was the fish in this case. We were only in the second level of play—100/200—when I raised to 5,100 in early positoon by grabbing a 5K chip instead of a 500 chip. Then a guy who appeared to be a regular shoved for more than my stack from the big blind after everyone else folded to my obvious mistake. I weighed my options. I had [ax jx]. I’d misclicked and put half my stack in, with the blinds going up, I’d be down to about 15BB on the next hand or so if I folded. I figured I was probably about 30%, I was going to have to call off another 5K to get 15K back, so I took the plunge and lost to his [jx jx]. That was humiliating. BTW, does anyone know if Kristi Gazes is still playing tournaments? I could have sworn that the woman sitting in the 4 seat on the table was Gazes, but I don’t see a Hendon Mob cash for her for years.

I wasn’t prepared to reenter but I did. I walked into a table where there had been some sort of heated discussion involving an older, maybe Italian, guy wearing a hat and dark sunglasses (which seemed not to be helping his view of the action) and the guy on my right at the new table. Don

‘t know what it was about, but there was a stench of acrimony hanging over the action for a while. The old guy then lost a pot that took him down to about 3K, and when he shoved over a raise from me and a call by the Lebanese/New Zealand guy on my left, I re-shoved my [kx qx]. The guy on my left folded what he said was [ax qx] and the Italian guy showed [kx jx]. King on the flop and an ace on the turn which got the guy on my left exclaiming about how he shouldn’t have laid down his hand. I thought that maybe my luck might be turning around.

The Italian guy re-entered and pulled his own seat card, so he came right back to the table, where he picked up aces twice and started building a big stack. Then, thankfully, our table broke. Things went relatively well there, I picked up some pots, though I was contending with some sicko Euros on my right who were showing down [7x 4x] and [9x 2x] for bottom pair to win a couple hands. Took some chips off the Italian guy, who ended up at the table after a break and promptly picked off a player with a pair of kings. He had to lay a hand down to me after I shoved on him with top two for a pot of about 15,000, and said he would get the chips later. I reminded him that I’d been the one to bust him earlier, and he said (from his admittedly larger stack) “Where are all your chips, then?” I guess I could have replied that he didn’t have all that many when I busted him.

Then things started to slide a bit, though not so much for me as the Italian guy, who lost his entire stack to the sicko who’d called down with [9x 2x]. His aces this time were better than what the Italian guy had, and that put him up to about 120K at a time when I had maybe 18K left.

More than half the field was gone already four hours in, but I was on about 12BB. I picked up [9x 9x] in the big blind, there was a raise, an all in from the guy on my right. I shoved, the original raiser thought about it and folded, and the guy on my right flipped over queens. Then the card in the door was a nine, he looked kind of sick, and the guy who folded was patting himself on the back for folding [ax kx] because there was an ace on the flop as well.

Lost a couple pots, blinds went up, and I was back down to 15BB when another one of the European players opened for about 3X and I shoved [kx qx] from the button. He dithered about calling with [kx jx] before he did it, but he did, and everything ran smooth for me until the river, which was the jack. 100 players gone out of 135, 21 spots from the money, and while a double up there would not have assured me of making the money, it would have given me a fighting chance. Very disappointing.


Prostitute or Notstitute?

I’m walking from the Venetian Poker Room to the Palazzo parking garage.

In the mall between the buildings, I notice a young woman ahead of me in a short skirt with a large tattoo on her thigh. I turn my attention back to my phone.

Never been to the Monte Carlo, so I’m looking at Google Maps, and as I pass the young woman, she alters her course to come talk to me and asks what I’m doing, offers up that she’s been playing blackjack, etc.

I am under no illusions as to my appearance. I am fat. I’m dressed in a t-shirt and shorts, with an unbuttoned short-sleeve shirt over the t-shirt. I’m easily old enough to be the woman’s father. I don’t look like I have money (and I don’t).

Schlubbing along in a hotel that’s way out of my price range.

This young woman is…

a) …a prostitute.

b) …just another Vegas victim looking for a fatherly figure with whom to commiserate.

c) …it’s Vegas, baby.

After that, I headed over to the Monte Carlo. PokerNews celeb/broadcaster Remko Rinkema hosts a 4/8 Mix game there on a semi-regular basis that I’d been hoping to make it to, and after blasting off two buyins at the Venetian, it seemed like a perfect time.

I got there during a round of Razzdugi and promptly scooped two pots. DIdn’t do as well in 2-7 Single Draw, but Std 8 and PLO8 were good. I wasn’t close to recouping my Survivor buyins or anything of the sort, but I picked up a little bit of a profit.

Then the vultures swooped in and we got a couple new players Someone who shall remain nameless made up a PLO game with three river cards that lasted all of one hand, but that hand was exceedingly costly to me. And one of the new guys was whining about the $80 cap and wanted to play every game no limit, even the stud games. Flipping for rollz just isn’t my thing, plus I got no rollz to flip, so I slunk off into the early morning to lick my wounds.

BTW, you may have heard about the parking fees instituted at the MGM-brand casinos on the Strip starting this month. Here’s what your $20 buys along with 3 hours of parking at the Monte Carlo:

That’s the inside half of the elevator door half-way open. Don’t worry, you can slip out through the open section before it goes back to whatever mechanical hell if comes from.

W-Day Plus 31: Extended Play

I’m not sure I need to add anything to that, but here it goes.

We started Day 3 with 27 players. Seven-handed, that meant three full tables and one with six. The first hour was a little insane, as we lost six players, had a table redraw to three tables, lost two more players almost immediately as the first level ended (one of whom was Dan Saltmarsh, the last Portland-area player).

My reporting partner for Days 2 and 3, Valerie Cross (a live stream commentator for Stones Gambling Hall, and waaay back in the background on the left in the photo above) took a bit of flack for the lack of updates in the next level as we tried to catch up. Things slowed down a little bit: during levels 22 and 23 we only lost four players. Kate Hoang from Federal Way, Washington was the last PNW player in the field, and when she busted in 15th, we redrew again to two tables, moved to the outside feature tables (where the photo above is from) and Valerie and I had to each cover a table on opposite sides of the main feature table, which means watching and taking notes on hands while trying to write up what’s already happened.

That’s  the point where Jackie’s tweet catches the action. Fu-Bang Huang has his back tot he cameras in the foreground. He’d been a chip leader earlier in the day but hit a bad patch after going to two tables. Allan Le is in the red hoodie. The guy in the suit standing behind me is one of the tournament directors actually standing on the Thunderdome floor, where they were streaming something: I really have no idea what it was, we were just that busy. Poker, or some such. Oh, yeah, Andrew Lichtenberger was there, so it must have been the $3K NLHE. I know that because the rail for Keith Ferrera on our event would yell out: “Chewie! Acknowledge us!” from time to time.

The first three players to bust from the feature tables were all on Valerie’s side, which put more of the work on her because those hands have to be written up. By dinner break (about 9pm due to the table redraws and a couple of other things that paused the clock), we were down to five players per table. Then I lost a couple (including the Day 2 chip leader John (@angryjmonnett) Monnette. Down to eight and we consolidated into the unofficial final table in the level after dinner.

Only three hours to go and eight players left though, meant there was no way we were wrapping up by the end of the tenth level. We sort of knew that when 27 came back for Day 3, but even with all of the eliminations at the start, and hoping against hope that there’d be some carnage in the middle that would get me to my day off on Sunday, that wasn’t going to happen. We ended the night with five players led by the OG Gavin Smith. Got back to the place about 4am, now I’m awake and about to head back to the Rio.

Poker Mutant, out!