Poker In the Time of COVID

“Poker Game on the Moon“ by Jim Algar

It was five months ago today that I played my last hand of live poker, the longest gap in my live play since I started playing home games with a group of guys my cousin’s husband introduced me to back in 2007. And that last live session was with what remains of the same group, which has been whittled down considerably from the days when we regularly needed two tables. Maybe I drove them away…

It’s not that live poker hasn’t come back to Portland, albeit in a somewhat reduced fashion. Both of the largest poker rooms in the city and state—Final Table and Portland Meadows—are open, and a number of the smaller rooms have games running. I haven’t partaken myself, as I’ve been on the deck for helping out some folks with medical issues and can’t really afford an accidental exposure because of my love for poker.

Without any live tournaments, the Pacific Northwest Poker Leaderboard has been dead. I’d been hoping to have something to report after the WSOP.com online replacement for the World Series of Poker’s 50th anniversary (yes, you read that right, last year was the 50th WSOP but this would have been the 50th anniversary), but the last event was over a week ago and they’re apparently not adding them to the database.

So, all I have left is me.

I’ve  played a wider variety of online the past five months than I had in a long time. I started off on my tried and true Ignition Casino. I didn’t have a lot of cash left there but the first NLHE Jackpot Sit-n-Go I played after lockdown went well, and I got another one that day, but meanwhile dropped five times my winnings in a $25K GTD, a PLO Turbo, and a 6-Max Turbo. I finished out march with a few small Jackpots.

Portland Meadows—which had just reopened before Oregon locked down—had a deal with the Bitcoin-only Nitrogen Sports (home of The Poker Guys). I bought some Bitcoin and transferred it to Nitrogen to play a few of the Meadows-branded events, busting out mid-field in the first couple. Then I started playing their micro stakes PLO cash games and did fantastic, with one of them putting me up 850bb in about 20 minutes. Of course, I promptly booked a session with a loss of 700bb. Then another for nearly 1500bb. Thankfully, those were both smaller stakes than the win, but still.

Meanwhile, Kheang Tang convinced me to play part of the America’s Cardroom High Five series. I played a $30K GTD PLO8, $40K GTD NLHE, and a $1K GTD Stud8 without even getting into the top half of the field.

The cash games for me on Nitrogen were still going well, but the tournaments were a complete bust. Back on ACR. I min-cashed a $20K PLO8 after being in the top 5 for a good section of the tournament. April ended with me still cashless in tournaments at Nitrogen and a couple of losing PLO sessions in a row depleted my balance there. I made the final table of a 45-player PLO tournament at ACR, but a rebuy made me just break-even.

I got back over to Ignition on May Day, intending to focus on 6-Max and satellites. It didn’t go so well. Booked a couple of profits at 2¢ PLO cash, but it was just losses in satellites, PLO Turbo tournaments, and 6-Max for over a week before I cashed in even a $2 Jackpot SnG. Three weeks and more than 20 tournaments in, I finally picked up an MTT cash with 60/851 in a $30K GTD. Not much, but something.

Meanwhile, I was also plugging away on ACR. Apart from a satellite ticket and a negligible profit in a $500 GTD 6-Max, that was going nowhere.

Near the end of the month, I psigned up with Big Dog Poker through Jeremy Harkin, so I could try my hand at Big O during a weekend series they were running. Tried my hand at four tournaments and a few cash games and let’s just say I’m not as good at the game as I used to be back in the Portland Players Club days. And that was never that good.

My ACR play petered off in early June along with the rest of the money in my account. I did get to play one last Stud cash session, which is something Ignition doesn’t have.

Over on Ignition, I had a run of 0.1/0.25 PLO cash sessions that gave me hope, with profits in 10 out of 15, but other than that: nada. I played almost nothing the last third of the month, between my last session on Big Dog and my last on ACR. After July 1, it was Ignition and only Ignition.

Not that that was going all that well.

I had a couple min-cashes (142/1095 in a $10K GTD and 23/155 in a 6-Max Turbo) but many more bustos, mostly sticking to 6-Max, and PLO/PLO8. Then things started to turn around after the middle of the month. 11/175 in the nightly $44 buyin 6-Max. A satellite ticket to their summer series $10K GTD O8 (where I got 14/145). Another min in a $3K GTD Turbo, and 2/176 in the 6Max, with only two busts in-between (and one of those was a $250K GTD I’d satellited into).

I busted a couple of tournaments, cashed 6/215 in a $5K PLO8, busted a couple more and won a satellite into a $35K GTD 6-Max (busted), had a couple more bust days, then played two tournaments simultaneously (which I rarely do because I am old and slow), making the final tables of both.

A min-cash with rebuy meant a small loss in my first-ever NLHE Ante Up tournament (do not late-reg one of these things when you get just 12bb to start).

I noticed the last couple of Thursdays there are multiple 6-Max tournaments to lay during the series. I was considering playing all three the other day, but two of them start before I’m off of work. I wanted to sit in the living room so I could chat with my wife, so I ended up just playing the $215 buy-in because of the size of my laptop screen (if I’d been in the office, I would have used the big computer). This led to a major screw-up.

I got into a confrontation early in the game and lost a third of my chips, then drifted down further to 1/3 of the starting stack. It seems like I was down there for a long time, but looking at the hand history, it seems like I managed to recover back to a starting stack by the end of the first hour.

Nearing the end of the re-entry period, the player came in on my right with 75bb and proceeded to shove over nearly every raise made by another player. He shoved the second hand he was dealt at the table. He shoved the third hand with AJ and went down to 60bb when he doubled up a pair of tens. He 6x 3-bet the next hand. Hand 4, he doubled up another player shoving 98 and getting called by AQ. Down to 30bb, he shoved hands 5, 6, and 7.

On hand 8, he open-shoved from the button and I called with TK, exposing his Q8. He doubled me up that time, and I was up to 40bb. He was down to 12.

This did not stop the insanity, however. The next hand there was an UTG min-raise from a 35bb, and the maniac shoved with 75. The original raiser called with TQ and the maniac doubled back to 40bb.

He took a hand off, but did it again, then just limped into my BB (and won a small pot), shoved over a 4bb raise, stayed out of a hand where I doubled up to 66bb, and at least slowed down a bit.

Which may have been why I took my eye off the ball at the wrong time. Blinds were up to 600/1200/120. There were only four players at the table at the moment, with a little over 100 left and about half of us getting paid. I was well-situated with almost 75bb which put me in the top 10 at the time. The maniac was at 40bb. I had 4Q in the BB, which I might call a small raise with but I had no real intention of playing. The button (22bb) min-raised, and the maniac in SB shoved and—not seeing the all-in—I called. Button folded and I was up against 98 Racing, but a nine and a club on the flop turned into a club couch by the river and nw the maniac had almost 100K and I was well out of the top 10.

My last hand against the maniac was just 5 hands later when he open-shoved SB with 9K against my JK and again hit a nine on the flop.

I did a re-entry but lost a race on my first hand and was down to 1.5bb. Quadrupled up on my second hand. My last hand, I had A7 and 4bb in the BB, a big stack shoved 24, and I called. He got a full house.