The State of Portland Poker
Last Friday night was the first big tournament to run since the sudden closure of Encore/PDX Poker Club in the middle of July, and despite my own personal disappointment at not doing better, the First Friday $20K guarantee at Final Table appears to have been eagerly anticipated by local players itching to cash big.
I’ve played three dozen $20K events at Final Table over the past four years. Over the past year, at least two of them had overlays on the guarantees, for whatever reasons. Final Table discontinued their Fifth Friday events a while back, possibly due to an even more anaemic showing at those. So maybe they weren’t quite expecting what Encore’s closure—and possibly their change to the buyin structure—would do.
Previously, the $20Ks had buyins of $100, with a rebuy of $100 if felted, and a $50 addon. Now, I personally prefer that, but there has been a push in general toward live rebuys. Friday night was the first Final Table $20K with a $60 buyin, 2 live rebuys, and a $40 addon.
None of the other $20K events I attended had topped 190 players (other events like the $100Ks at Final Table have had far more). Friday night there were 235 entries, and a total prize pool almost double the guarantee: $36,160. Whatever my preferences might be, I think the days of felted rebuys in the $20K are over.
The atmosphere was a bit chaotic. I don’t think anyone was quite expecting the turnout they got, and it seemed like there was a line of people waiting to buy in almost through the entire four levels of play before the break, and an alternate list that was seating people after break. The tables went 10-handed, which is not usually the case at Final Table (one of the advantages they had over Encore).
On 20 events I have prize pool data for (sometimes I don’t make it that long), average expenditure for each player previously was $165, or a buyin, an addon, and 15% of another buyin. On Friday, even though the prize pool was nearly $3,000 more than any of the other $20Ks I had data for, the average expenditure was only $149 but represented the value of a buyin and addon and five-sixths of another buyin.
Me? I lost what was left of my first buyin with A
I wasn’t able to make it to Portland Meadows for their Saturday $10K—a regular weekly feature at noon—but Brian Sarchi provided this image of the tournament board when I reached out to him for information. That’s $95/entry, by comparison.
All in all, not a bad turnout at either location, with prize pools of 80% and 70% over the respective guarantees for what are now the largest regularly-scheduled events on the Portland tournament poker calendar.
Much as I hate to play with live rebuys, Final Table’s move to the live rebuy system makes it more likely that they’re not going to be facing overlays in the big events, at least. I don’t think the same can be said for the morning tournaments, which have missed the guarantee all three times I played them in the past two weeks. Something’s going to have to change there, but for the big events, it looks like there’s still some healthy awards to be won.
I played Tuesday night’s $1.5K guarantee, getting knocked out A
Deal of the Week: Chinook Winds Fall Poker Classic
Full info on this fall’s series at Chinook Winds is out, with both the schedule and structure sheets now available online. It’s just under four weeks out, with the $110 buyin, $15K guarantee Senior (55+) event opening things up on Tuesday, 6 September, and the $330 buyin, $30K Big O game on Wednesday. There’s a $20K NLHE 6-Max on Friday, with the $550 buyin, $200 addon, $100K guarantee Main Event running on Saturday (Day 2 on Sunday).
Last fall’s Main Event drew in 190 entries with the same guarantee and buyin structure, making a prize pool of $120K. It appears that unlike previous years, tickets for the events are no longer offered through Chinook Winds’ online ticketing system, so you will need to be onsite to buy in (you can, however, get tickets to The Monkees a couple weeks later online!)
For anyone unfamiliar with Lincoln City, it’s about 90 miles southwest of Portland, on the Oregon coast more or less due west of Salem. There are a couple of routes to take from the metro area (about 2 hours if you stay under the speed limits), the more direct of which is down Highway 99W through Dundee and Dayton, but that can be torturous due to high traffic, particularly if you’re coming from the east side of Portland or from the north. My personal preference is to take Interstate 5 south all the way to Salem, then cut across on Highway 22 until it intersects Highway 18. It’s 15 miles longer, but can take less time. Coming south on US101, it’s about two-and-a-half hours from Astoria. If you don’t want to make the drive, there are some public transportation options, but the first thing to check would be the Chinook Winds shuttles that operate from Portland, Vancouver, and other cities in the metro area. Call the number on the schedule to make sure they’re running (you will need a Winners Circle cards from the casino).
If you’re planning to stay overnight, it’s time to book your room. The resort itself had reasonably-priced rooms when I last checked, which hasn’t been the case in the past (no view, and smoking, but reasonable). That probably won’t be the case for long. I’ve also had good luck with last-minute reservations at the Motel 6, which is about three-quarters of a mile from the casino (and you pass Pig ‘N’ Pancake on the way!)
If you’re at the beach on a Sunday before it all starts, there are satellites to the Main Event at noon for $20.
This Week in Portland Poker
At press time, I’m not aware of any special events scheduled for this week, so let’s do a little inventory.
- Portland Players Club is located at A&L Sports Bar on NE 60th & Glison, just off I84. They run mixed game dealer’s choice Omaha shootouts Wednesday and Friday afternoons, with Big O tournaments Wednesday and Friday evenings and Sunday at noon.
- Claudia’s has shootouts in the afternoons every day, with evening tournaments seven days a week.
- Aces Full has a noon tournament every day except Sunday, with shootouts in the later afternoon.
- Rialto Poolroom has nightly shootouts, and hosts the Monday Mix.
- Portland Meadows runs tournaments at noon seven days a week, with shoootouts starting in the afternoon and a 7pm tournament. The noon Saturday tournament is a $10K guarantee, with a $5K on Sunday.
- The Game specializes in shootouts, starting at 11am, and has a Sunday afternoon $800 freeroll tournament.
- Final Table has a tournament at 11am weekdays, and another at 7pm, with a different schedule on weekends. Their regular schedule now includes a $10K on Friday night, with the $20K on the First Friday. They also have an active shootout section opening at 11am.
Only a Day Away
- This weekend at the WPT Legends of Poker at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles is the start of Mega Millions XV. There are starting flights from Friday, 12 August, with two or three flights each day through 22 August. Most flights are $160 with a $100 addon. 10% of the players make the money, and 5% advance to Day 2. On weekends, there is a third flight for $550 where 10% of players advance. Players advancing to Day 2 make $1,000, and you can enter as many flights as you like. If you get more than one stack through to Day 2, you choose which stack to play and get $2,500 cash and an entry into a $1.1K event for each abandoned stack. You can also buy in directly to Day 2 for $4.3K. There are two mega-satellites that feed directly into Day 2. Last year’s Legends of Poker Mega Millions had a prize pool of $1.7M, with more than a quarter-million up top. Round-trip flights to LA that span the last few days of Mega Millions are still only about $200.
- Today is the start of the Venetian August Weekend Extravaganza, which runs through the weekend with three starting days for a $250 buyin $80K guarantee. I wasn’t able to find flights to Las Vegas at the last minute for less than $300 though.
- The Deerfoot Inn in Calgary is the setting for the Summer Super Stack, which features a C$200K guarantee Main Event (C$1.5K buyin) with entry days 19–21 August. At current exchange rates, the buyin is $1,140. A round-trip direct flight from PDX to Calgary (YCC) for the last two days of the Main is $425, and the flight’s less than two hours.
- Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are entry days for the Arizona State Poker Championship at Talking Stick Resort outside Phoenix. Buyin is $1.1K, you can still find round-trip flight to Phoenix at the last minute for about $400.
- Last-minute addition at River Rock Casino in Vancouver, BC.
Attention Tournament Players… $330 buy-in/15,000/30 minutes level August 13 Saturday. Tickets on sale now! Call us for info @ 604-247-8983
— River Rock Poker (@RiverRockPoker) August 9, 2016
- Monday is the start of the Summer Poker Series at Chumash Casino Resort. Their $100K guarantee ($325 buyin) is Saturday the 20th. Chumash is 125 northwest of Los Angeles.
- The Black Diamond Hot August Poker Classic starts a week from Thursday in Albany. See last week’s Deal.
- That same day is the start of the WPTDeepstacks Reno at Atlantis Casino Resort Spa. There are a total of 16 events, with a $250K guarantee Main Event from 26–29 August ($1.1K buyin). Roundtrip flights at the end of the series are running about $300.
- The Bay 101 Open runs 22–29 August in San Jose. Seven events, most in the $350–$550 buyin range, with the Main Event at $1.1K. The winner of the Main gets a seat into next spring’s WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star as well as the prize money. Special events include Omaha Hi-Lo and a NLHE Partners tournament. Most events are no re-entry, though you can enter each o fht eMain Event flights one time each. Tournaments start at 9am, making it tough to get a morning flight before play begins, but you can still get a flight Saturday morning at 6am that puts you in San Jose before 8am for $160 round-trip.
- If you’re looking for a late-summer trip and you’re nautically-inclined, CardPlayer Cruises is offering a 7-Night Pacific Coastal Cruise, leaving Seattle on 16 September (it’s a little bit out, but I presume you need to reserve your room earlier). The cruise stops in Astoria, San Francisco, and Victoria before returning to Seattle, and the schedule in the poker room (open only to passengers booked thtough CardPlayer Cruises) includes a $340 CardPlayer Poker Tour event and cash games. You have to call for pricing on the cruise, and CardPlayer Cruises doesn’t report their results to Hendon Mob, so there’s no way to tell how many participants there might be or how much action the cash games have, but if you want to take a gamble….