Better At the Beach #2: Butter at the Beach

The only good thing for me about Monday was that I didn’t make it to the add-on break in Event #5 $75K GTD NLHE. With the same structure as the previous day’s event but no re-entry, there was a bit of an overlay on this tournament.

I sat down between Max Young, who’d been in on a chop the day before and Ryan Stoker, so I knew I wasn’t going to be allowed to get too out of line. I managed to maintain around starting stack for a few hours, then as my stack crept under the 25bb level I picked up queens, put in a raise over a couple of limpers, and got called by one from the old(er) man at the other end of the table. Ace on the flop, I c-bet, he calls, and we check it down. He has [ax tx]. Standard, but I’ve lost 8bb and it doesn’t get any better from there. A short stack UTG goes all in and I call with [as 9s], she has deuces and hits a set on the flop. I’m down to 2.5bb and shove on the next hand w [Qx 3x]. It miraculously folds to the BB, the woman who had the deuces, and she calls with a little embarassment perhaps, with [7x 2x], again catching a deuce on the flop.

Event #6 10-Seat GTD NLHE Satellite went okay for a couple of hours, then not!

First cash of the series for me was a roller coaster with a fast start.

In the Event #7 $25K GTD NLHE Seniors I started picking up chips early, getting up to 60K from the 12K start before the first break.

The early success didn’t last, however, and I slipped down below 30K over the course of the next three levels. Then it was back upward, to 100K. By dinner break, I was back down under where I’d been at the first break.

I was over average throughout the tournament, but that didn’t mean much as we were closing in on the money. By the time we hit the bubble, the average stack was less than 10bb.

The end for came as a bit of a surprise for me. Tom, one of the regulars in Portland, had recently come to the table, and took out a player with a pair of convenient aces. On the very next hand, I was on the button with pocket jacks. A player in early position raised to 4.5bb and Tom called from his table-dominating stack. I had about 13bb and I shoved, only to find out that Tom had queens. The flop gave Tom a set and me an open-ended straight draw (the other player had sevens) but there was no relief and I busted in 32nd place for slightly less than a min-cash.

Wednesday was the Event #9 $15K GTD Omaha Hi-Lo, the only fixed-limit game on the schedule. I lasted just over six hours after a bad start and recovery, only to have two old ladies beat me up and take my chips.

I got kicked out early enough that I was able to late-register the evening’s Event #10 5-Seat GTD NLHE Satellite to Friday’s $1,075 buy-in 6-Max tournament.

Within an hour, I was up to 40K from the 7.5K starting stack, after opening up my game a little bit. I knew from all of my play in the Ignition Casino Thousandaire Makera about where I needed to be to cur the jets and glide into winning one of the vouchers, and even though I didn’t have a huge stack by the time we were down to twelve players (with six vouchers to be awarded and $300 to seventh place) I could tell that so long as I didn’t muck it up that I’d probably get there.

There was one enormous stack at the final table and all of us little remoras swimming around hoping not to be the ones who were eaten. Everyone got hats(!) even though we weren’t all in the money. Not sure what they’d have done if there had been more than 10 vouchers awarded!

All I needed was to not have any of the small stacks double up ahead of my own stack, and eventually the blinds would grind them into oblivion. When a couple of them doubled up, pushing me down the chip counts, I’d shove and take the blinds. Since I was doing that so rarely, I didn’t get a challenge. By the time the “mystery envelope” of $301 was awarded to Gail Hand for 7th place, the average stack was 2.5bb.

Dave Long and I headed down into central Lincoln City to celebrate at the Old Oregon Tavern, which was done to the hilt for Halloween, complete with ghosts that raised and lowered as the entry doors closed and opened. Plus, they had a nifty Batman 66 pinball machine. If someone wins an extra $8K this weekend, this is on my Christmas list.

I’d been hoping to play Thursday’s Event #11 $50K GTD NLHE Big Bounty, but after a couple of emergency dips into the bankroll last month, I didn’t have the cash reserves. So it was Event #12 $25K GTD Big O. At least for an hour. I lost a hand with the second nuts to Prime, then got it all in against another player with the second best set. Did. Not. Rebuy.

Hopped across to the 60s Cafe & Diner up the hill from the casino where I had some non-doctor-approved lunch, and Dave and I tried out their Boozy Shakes. I cannot recommend enough the Chocolate Fudge Bourbon Delight.

Tomorrow is the 6-Max!




Better At the Beach #1: So Much Winning!

Not so much me winning, but still a lot of winning.

Dave Long` (above) and I made it to Chinook Winds Casino in Lincoln City, Oregon an hour or so ahead of Saturday’s Event #1 $150K GTD NLHE. The tournament was a re-entry, and I had to do that just before the first break. In the first hour, the player on my left had lost pretty much every pot he’d been in, and when he 3-bet me and action folded back around, I could have called, but instead I shoved with my [qd qc] and he called for less with [kx kc]. The flop was all low spades, then [qs] on the turn. Nether of us had a spade, and the only card that could give him a win was the non-spade king. Which came. I still had 35bb; we were only in level 2, but I almost immediately lost half of that and the dwindling continued through to literally the last hand of the break when I busted.

I’d expected to hit the bank to get my cash for the week before the tournament started, but the Lincoln City branch of US Bank was Monday—Friday only, and I borrowed $200 of my buddy Brad Press to re-enter because I’d maxed the ATM card already. I got back in and sat down after break. Ten minutes in, I get [ax ax] in early position and raise, getting about 5 callers. The flop was [ax 6x 5s] and I make a c-bet of about the same as pre-flop, get a call from the BB, and when [ks] hits on the river and BB shoved, I kind of though he might have [ax kx] but no, it was [6s 7s] for the open-ended straight and flush, the latter of which got there on the river. So, down to 10bb 10 minutes after the re-entry.

I doubled up against the player who’d broken my set with [ax tx] v [tx tx] but was back down to 10bb half an hour later, then out after about three hours total.

I played Event #2 10-Seat GTD NLHE Final Event Satellite, just one entry and the add-on, but didn’t make it even half-way through the field.

Day 2 of the $150K GTD got under way at 11am on Sunday, with 54 players coming back and everyone in the money.

Sunday’s Event #3 $75K GTD NLHE got off to a good start for me, but it started even better for Jacki Burkhardt, this year’s PNW Poker Golden Girl, when she got news via Twitter that she’d won a PokerStars Platinum Pass via the #mypokerstory contest run by writer/poker player Maria Konnikova (and judged by Helen Ellis, Jen ShahadeMatt Salsberg, and Melanie Weisner). Jacki’s heading off to The Bahamas in January to play in a $25K buyin tournament. Plus she cashed the $150K before she bought into the $75K.

I made the second break of the $75K with about triple the starting stack. Over two hours I paid blinds, folded raises to reraises, and laid hands down after unpleasant flops until I was under 30bb after just about five hours.

Then I picked up [ax kx], flopped a king, and managed to get three streets of action (including an all-in on the river) from [jx jx]. Two hours later, I was UTG with [8c 3c] and less than 10bb when they table balanced the BB and I was it! A middle-position player min-raised, I made the call more out of cussedness than anything else, and I picked up a gut-shot with potential back-door flush on [9x 7x 5c], so I shoved and got called by [ad 7d] and was out after the river.

More exciting poker today!

Special shoutout to Darrel Dier (a vet of the days when Deepstacks Poker Tour was here) who’s going to be returning to the tsunami zone this weekend after winning a main event at Stones Gambling Hall.

#PNWPokerCal Planner for 17 October 2018

2018 Chinook Winds Fall Coast Classic

It’s here again! The Fall Coast Classic is my last planned excursion before the Poker Mutant phase of my life is over, and I’ll be in Lincoln City from Saturday morning through to at least Day 1 of the Final Event.

The series kicks off with 2-day $150K GTD NLHE tournament: $255 entry (15K chips) with re-entry through level 6, $25 fee, $10 dealer appreciation (2K chips), and a $100 addon (10K chips). Day 1 starts at noon on Saturday, with Day 2 at 11am Sunday.

Saturday through Tuesday at 6pm there are satellites for the Final Event with 10-Seats GTD. The prizes are vouchers worth $575 toward the Final Event buyin. Buyin (and rebuy) is $30 6K chips), with a $10 fee and $10 dealer appreciation (1.5K). 10K chips for the $30 addon after registration closes.

Sunday and Monday at noon are two nearly-identical events: $75K GTD NLHE for just $190 entry (10K chips), $10 fee, $10 dealer appreciation (2K), and an addon for $100 (10K). Sunday’s game allows re-entry; Monday’s is no re-entry.

Tuesday at 11am things slow down a little, with a $25K GTD NLHE Seniors. For players in the 50+ age category, the buyin is $110 (10K), $10 fee, $10 dealer appreciation (2K). Re-entry for six levels but no addon.

Wednesday at noon is $15K GTD Omaha Hi-Lo. Also a freezeout, with $140 buyin (10K),  $10 fee, $10 dealer appreciation (2K).

Wednesday and Thursday evening at 6pm are 5-Seat GTD satellites for Friday’s High Roller 6-Max tournament. Buyin is $120 (6K chips) with $10 fee and $10 dealer appreciation (1.5K chips). Reentry through level 6, with prizes being $1,075 toward an entry into the 6-Max. Presumably, the satellites will be played as 6-Max.

Thursday offers two mid-day options. At 11am is the $50K GTD NLHE Big Bounty and at 1pm it’s the $25K GTD Big O. The Big Bounty game is single re-entry, with a $625 buyin (including $200 bounty) for 25K in chips, $25 fee, and $10 dealer appreciation for another 5K in chips. The Big O tournament is unlimited rebuy with an addon: $140 buyin  (10K chips), $10 fee, and $10 dealer appreciation (5K chips). Addon after registration closes is $80 for another 10 in chips. This and Wednesday’s Omaha tournament are the two non-NLHE offerings on the schedule.

Friday noon is the largest buyin event of the series: $100K GTD NLHE 6-Max. Reentry for 6 levels, with $1,025 buyin (40K chips), $50 fee, $25 dealer appreciation (10K chips).

Friday evening at 6pm is the Final Event 20-Seat GTD Mega Satellite. $140 buyin (10K chips), $10 entry fee, $10 dealer appreciation (2K chips). payouts are vouchers for $575 against the Final Event buyin.

The final Saturday morning at 10am is a Final Event 5-Seat GTD Turbo Satellite. $50 buyin (10K), $10 fee, $10 dealer appreciation (2K). This also pays $575 vouchers.

The $200K GTD Final Event starts at noon the same day (with Day 2 on Sunday). You get 30K in chips for your $525 buyin and $50 fee, another 10K in chips for the $25 addon, and 30K for the $200 addon available after registration closes at the end of level 8. There is no reentry for this tournament!


I ran the scripts to generate the leaderboard stats yesterday morning, so this hadn’t posted yet, but:

From, 15 October 2018

Congrats to Max!

Results from the Muckleshoot Fall Poker Classic just posted and the winner of their Main Event is naturally near the top of the leaderboard new mentions this week. Santosh Singh of Seattle is extra-near because not only did he win the 2018 Fall Main Event, but Hendon Mob is just posting that he cashed in 3rd place for almost as much money in the 2018 Spring Main Event. Those are two of his three recorded cashes.

Sean Vance from Tacoma cashed twice at the Classic, taking 8th in Event #2 $100K GTD NLHE and 3rd in the Main Event (also 2 of only 3 recorded cashes). Thomas Hess of Puyallup picked up 4th in the Main Event for his 4th cash.

Dennis McLeod (Federal Way) won Event #5 $100K GTD NLHE after placing a respectable 15th in Event #1. Edmonds’ Sharlene Fowler doubled her number of cashes with 5th in Event #5 and 1 12th in Event #2. Rich Bustamente of Lake Forrest got his first cash with 3rd place in Event #2, and James PraseuthEvent #1 $80K GTD NLHE from Tukwila did the same with a win in .

On the side ot the familiar names, Dylan Wilkerson went across the Pacific for WPT Vietnam and the Asian Poker Tour where he racked up four cashes over a couple of weeks, including 7th in the WPT Vietnam Event #10 â‚« 44,000,000 NLHE High Roller (the Vietnamese dong is about 23,000:1 against the US dollar, so the buyin was just under $1,900); 2nd in the Asian Poker Tour â‚« 100,000,000 + 7,500,000 NLHE Super High Roller, and a win in the Asian Poker Tour Event #7 â‚« 50,000,000 + 4,000,000 NLHE High Roller.

Lynnwood’s Josh Sepulveda won Event #2 at Muckleshoot for his largest-ever cash. Casey Ring (Salem) came in 6th in the Muckleshoot Main Event. Jake Dahl picked up 2nd in Event #5. Adam Coats had four cashes in the six-event series: 11th in Event #2; 2nd in Event #4 $15K GTD PLO; 18th in Event #5; and 4th in Event #7 NLHE Shootout.

Chad Wassmuth went down to Las Vegas for the Wynn Fall Classic $150K GTD NLHE and picked up 5th place.

And to wrap this edition of the leaderboard up, Ronald Lemco took 2nd place in the Muckleshoot Event #1.

My Time Is Coming

From an in-the-money standpoint, my week went pretty well! I only played nine tournaments but I cashed twice. Unfortunately, they were both on the small end of my buyins.

I got to the Monday night freezeout at Final Table and got out with time enough to head over to Portland Meadows for their evening game, which went a lot better until the point where we were at 2 tables and a shorter stack with [jx 4x] shoved, and I called with [ad 7d], only to get cut down to 3bb when he made a pair.

The Friday night $10K GTD at Final table didn’t go well, either, with me making a couple of bad and frustrated calls when I knew I all I was beating was a total bluff.

Saturday night, I fired up an Ignition Casino $7 NLHE Jackpot Sit-N-Go and caught a $35 5x payout (the bottom level pays just 2x the buyin). I put that away quickly, then jumped into a $500 GTD PLO Turbo where I took 19/82 but no cash. The next night, practicing up for the limit Omaha game at Chinook, I late-regged an O8 game, and by the time the first break came around in about 15 hands, I had gone from 5K to 26K and the chip lead. I stayed at or near the lead for most of the rest of the tournament, then had a couple hands go wrong at the final table, ending up 6/57 for a small cash. A late entry after our Sunday dinner guests left went bad when I called with [qx tx] from the big blind, got to the turn with an open-ended straight draw and half my chips in the pot, then chickened out facing an all in on the river. The rabbit cam showed an [ax] on the river that would have given me Broadway. I really should turn that feature off. The other two Ignition tournametns I played that night didn’t go anywhere.

Saving up the good play (or the luck) for Chinook!

Her Time Is Coming

I wold be incredibly remiss if I neglected to mention that poker superstar Jacki Burkhart submitted a story for the #mypokerstory PokerStars Platinum Pass competition curated by author Maria Konnikova. She’s one of six finalists for one of the $30K Platinum Pass packages ($25K buyin to a high roller tournament at the Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure and $5K in expenses).

Only a Day Away

  • Bicycle Casino‘s Big Poker Oktober has one more $500K GTD event remaining on the schedule.
  • Canterbury Park Casino‘s Fall Poker Classic runs through 21 October outside Minneapolis.
  • WSOPC Chicago (actually northwest Indiana) is on, featuring a $1M GTD Main Event overlapping the first weekend of the Chinook Winds series.
  • Stones Gambling Hall Fall Classic runs to 21 October. The Main Event starts Thursday and is $500 for entry and $150K GTD.
  • The Bay 101 Fall Poker Classic Main Event ($1,100 buyin) has entry days on 20 & 21 October.
  • The Venetian October Extravaganza started Monday. There are a couple $100K events and a $150K, plus a couple Progressive Bounty tournaments.
  • The folks at Calgary’s Cash Casino Wild West Shoot Out need to get their web act together. The image they posted of their flyer is too small to read and isn’t linked to a larger version but PokerAtlas has it. It starts today and runs to the 28th.
  • Run It Up Reno has one of the more eclectic schedules with PLO KO, NLHE 6-Max, NORSE, 6-max HORSE(!) and a lot more, mostly for $125–$250 price points. I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun. Starts Friday.
  • The Chinook Winds Fall Coast Poker Classic is Saturday! I’m so excited!
  • Muckleshoot Casino has a Big Bounty tournament ($200 buyin) on Sunday at 10:15am. Next Sunday is their $300 Deepstack.
  • The Liz Flynt Fall Poker Classic at Hustler Casino in LA starts Sunday. It features a $15K GTD Big O tournament on 24 October and a $375 buyin $500K GTD NLHE tournament starting 27 October with Day 2 on 2 November.
  • One of the smaller but nicer venues is WSOPC Lake Tahoe (or so I’ve heard). That kicks off 25 October, with the $1,700 buyin Main Event starting 2 November.
  • Up at Tulalip Casino, their Last Sunday of the Month tournament has $5K added, with a $345 buyin (including dealer appreciation).
  • The Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza IV  runs from 29 October through 25 November (Thanksgiving is the 22nd this year). The big event of the series is the $1,600 buyin $400K GTD Main Event starting 16 November.
  • 1 November is the start of the Wildhorse Fall Poker Round Up. This year’s High Roller is regrettably front-loaded, with the only super satellite on the opening night—Thursday (and no satellite the night before). $40K in added monies.
  • The HPT Championships are at Ameristar East Chicago starting 1 November. The Main Event buyin for this annual event goes up to $2,500.
  • If you’d rather be close to the ski slopes, Mid-States Poker Tour Colorado starts 1 November, as well, opening with a $150K GTD tournament and finishing with $300K GTD for a $1,100 buyin.
  • The Commerce Casino LA Poker Open starts 2 November. It features 18 events over 17 days, with a $500K GTD Main Event.
  • Just west of Edmonton, Alberta, River CreeKing of the Felt Deepstack Championship resort hosts the  starting 3 November, with seven events including PLO, NLHE/PLO/Crazy Pineapple/Limit Omaha Mix, and 2 “Limited” Holdem events! Their C$1,100 Main Event gets you 125,000 chips!

#PNWPokerCal Planner for 7 October 2018

My Time Is Coming

“Coming” or “up”…we’re going to find out in three months.

Dropped into The Game last week for their advertised PLO evening and found out the game had gotten going a little early, and everyone (well, five of them) had agreed on a mix rotation of PLO and Big O. Personally, I’d come for the PLO because I don’t get to play much of it live in person whereas I can go to Portland Meadows pretty much any night if I want to play Big O (and I haven’t been there much for that) but I’d driven through evening traffic for 45 minutes to get there and figured I’d sit down for a bit. Lost a little in the first hands (Big O), gained it back with extra in the PLO round, then lost my buyin and a rebuy in quick succession during the next Big O round. It took me less time than the drive to get there. Probably not doing that again.

The turnout for Friday’s $10K at Final Table was light but they made the guarantee. The small field meant I got sort of close to the money, but I went out with a full third of the field left.

Saturday, I busted four online tournaments at Ignition Casino, including one $11 buyin $10K GTD where I was 5th in chips with 400 of the 992 entries remaining but got my queens cracked by jacks for a double-up of a short stack, thengot the short end of three more spots where I was ahead to double up three more players, ending up with me busting in 211th place, thirty spots short of the money.

Muckleshoot Fall Poker Classic Main Event clock via TableCaptain software from

I bought a piece of Jason Marshall Brown‘s attempt at the Muckleshoot Fall Poker Classic Main Event last weekend, and he pulled through like a trooper, cashing for the minimum, but cashing nonetheless.  The payout structure for that event was exceptionally slow to rise at the bottom.

Tuesday,  I wandered back over to Final Table for their $1500 GTD, which missed the guarantee by a single buyin. I got to the final table (new chairs!) as one of the short stacks, but managed to hold on until there were just three of us left, doubled up through Saigon Vic by shoving deuces and flopping a set, then negotiated a chop with Vic and Benson that gave me better than 2nd place money.

New final table chairs at The Final Table Poker Club.

This week it’s the $20K at Final Table for me (it did not work out well), then evaluating what to do for the two weeks before the start of the Chinook Winds Fall Coast Classic. I’m planning to be there for the entire run, then out to Pendleton for the opening weekend of the Wildhorse Fall Poker Rodeo (who thought having the only satellite to the opening weekend High Roller on Thursday was a good idea?). After taking the week off from work for Chinook, I’m not likely to be spending any weekdays in Pendleton.

If I’m feeling frisky after Chinook, the Main Event of the WSOPC Lake Tahoe is the same weekend as the Wildhorse High Roller. There are a couple of other Ring events that weekend and they’ve  got a satellite Friday night for the last flight of the Main.

WPTDeepstacks Thunder Valley, Lucky Chances Gold Rush, WSOPC Planet Hollywood…all on the potential list. Might take a stab at WPT Five Diamond for a side event.

And EPT Prague is still calling to me for my birthday.

The Coming Storm

Here are previews and links to all of the schedules I cold snag for the next three months.




Way over on Cyprus at the Merit Gangsters Poker Open, James Romero took 7th of 74 in the $10K buyin High Rolle, as the only American in the money.

Ridgefield’s Carl Oman came close to besting his career high in last fall’s High Roller in Pendleton by making it to the final table of the 496-entry HPT Colorado, finishing in 9th place.

And close behind Carl was a name that first appeared on the Leaderboard last week, as Jeff Baxter from Oakland, Oregon took 11th place, for just his second recorded tournament cash.

Abbreviated results from the Muckleshoot Fall Poker Classic are online.

Only a Day Away

  • The Wynn Fall Classic runs through 14 October and features a $500K GTD Main Event, plus two $150K GTD side events, along with a Survivor, PLO, and Seniors event.
  • Bicycle Casino‘s Big Poker Oktober is back with two more $500K GTD events remaining on the schedule.
  • Canterbury Park Casino‘s Fall Poker Classic has more than 20 events through 21 October outside Minneapolis.
  • WPTDeepstacks San Diego finishes next weekend at Oceans 11 Casino in Oceanside, and has a $200K GTD Main Event starting 11 October.
  • WSOPC Chicago (actually northwest Indiana) is on, featuring a $1M GTD Main Event overlapping the first weekend of the Chinook Winds series.
  • Stones Gambling Hall (outside Sacramento) brings back its own Fall Classic with a total of $250K GTD between 12—21 October. They open with a Win the Button tournament (that’d be killer with big blind antes). The Main Event (starting 18 October) is $500 for entry and $150K GTD.
  • The Bay 101 Fall Poker Classic gets going mid-month, running about a week. It has a 2-day Main Event ($1,100 buyin) with entry days on 20 & 21 October.
  • The Venetian October Extravaganza is a little aperitif before the last major series of the year there. There are a couple $100K events and a $150K, plus a couple Progressive Bounty tournaments.
  • The folks at Calgary’s Cash Casino Wild West Shoot Out, need to get their web act together. The image they posted of their flyer is too small to read and isn’t linked to a larger version but PokerAtlas has it.
  • Run It Up Reno has one of the more eclectic schedules with PLO KO, NLHE 6-Max, NORSE, 6-max HORSE(!) and a lot more, mostly for $125—$250 price points. I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun.
  • The Chinook Winds Fall Coast Poker Classic is less than two weeks away. More than $750K in guarantees, with an opening $150K GTD tournament, $650 buyin $50K Big Bounty tournament, $100K GTD 6-Max, and $200K GTD Main Event. I’ll see you there.

Retirement Planning

“Games should be played for entertainment only
and are not intended for investment purposes.”
—Ancient Chinese Proverb

I made what small splash I did in the poker media world almost five years ago, with a couple of articles, a blog post here (“In the Money”) that turned into my first article for PokerNews (condensed as “The Tough Road for a Poker Tournament Pro”). When that hit the internet, DEADSPIN contacted me about reprinting the original blog post (with the clickbait title “Why You’ll Never make a Living Playing Live Poker Tournaments”).

Over the next couple of years I did a number of articles with data visualizations here at Mutant Poker, and at PokerNews (see the Articles page for the external links). Payout structures, chip graphs, performance simulators, all sorts of good stuff.

I started pouring myself into poker at a time when I’d burned through the small 401K I’d built up when I had a real job trying to keep afloat as a freelance programmer. After the 2000 tech crash, my income dropped drastically, by about $50K a year (and that was a pretty important $50K), so by 2016 when I got the summer gig working for the WSOP, I figure I was down about half a million in income, part of which would have funded my encroaching decrepitude. Poker for me, has been both a welcome diversion from thinking about where I went wrong, and—as it turned out—a small source of income that held out faint promise of recouping some of the retirement money I didn’t have. Better than the lottery, anyway.

The end of 2018 marks the end of my 10th full year of playing poker in this phase of my life (as opposed to the nickle-ante five-card-draw games I played in my 20s) and I’ve got one more chart to drop before the year is out.

It’s probably going to be the last one I do, because—like everyone else—I’m retiring from poker at the end of the year. No, I’m not going into crypto, but my wife is finally retiring after a quarter-century at a stressful job, and apart from the occasional home game with the guys I started out with (thanks, Kelly!), I’m going to step back to spend more time with her. Meanwhile, I’m going to play as much poker as I possibly can. So here goes.

Leading the Leaderboard

If you’ve been following my posts over the past year or so, you have probably seen the PNW Poker Leaderboard feature. The leaderboard database has about 3600 players from Oregon, Washington, and Idaho—the “Devil’s Triangle”, if you will—of poker in the USA.

The chart below represents every single one of those players. Not specific players, but each player with $3K or more of recorded lifetime earnings on The Hendon Mob is there, organized by earnings and state.

The data here is sort of a callback the article I mention above, because you’ll see the distribution of earnings looks a lot like a poker tournament’s payouts (or capitalism!): there are a lot of people with a little money and there is a slice at the top with an absurd amount of money. Between them is a smaller, stratified group doing better than the masses, but nowhere near the folks at the top.

The numbers are drawn from the amounts on the various states’ leaderboards at The Hendon Mob, which don’t include recorded dailies or recurring tournaments, or (obviously) untracked tournaments. My own measly page, for instance, shows about $26.5K in earnings but $2K of that isn’t counted on the Oregon leaderboard because it was in a Venetian regular-schedule tournament. But all-told, over the seven-and-a-half years since Black Friday when I seriously started playing live outside my home game, I’ve cashed for over $160K; most of that’s been in local tournaments, however, which are untracked outside of the computers at The Players Club, Final Table, Encore, and Portland Meadows. There’s a lot of churn in that number—apart from this year the poker’s been marginally profitable at best, with buyins matching cashes pretty closely.

Still, while I’m no Ali Imsirovic, my modest record (coming mostly from 3rd place at the PACWest Poker Classic this spring) puts me in the upper third of all of the players in the Northwest.

One metric I used in my articles on professionally playing live poker tournaments was making a decent annual income, which means a decent annual profit. I used $60K/year as a benchmark. My $16K/year average in tournament cashes doesn’t even come close, even if all of it had been profit. And this is the point at which I point out that fewer than 15% of the players in my records have $60K in lifetime earnings. Not annual, and not profit.

Based on my previous estimates, the average long-term player would need to make $300K/year playing tournaments to turn a $60K/year profit (that’s an optimistic calculation). Fewer than 90 players out of 3600 Have made $300K in their lives. And those $300K earning years add up pretty fast if you’re planning to stay in the game for a long time. The bottom end of the top 1% starts at $750K.

So that’s the story. I started the original by quoting Bryan Devonshire saying that poker pros need to mix in cash games with their tournament play in order to stay profitable. I’m just going to reiterate that. Again. Enjoy!

Each box represents a player from the US Pacific Northwest tracked on The Hendon Mob, with $3K or more in live tournament earnings. Colors indicate the total amount of tournament winnings, according to the individual state’s leaderboard (which does not include daily events). Shades indicate the number of players from each state /within the range of recorded tournament winnings.




$1 million +
















Oregon: 757
Washington: 1376
Idaho: 237