Carbon Poker Super Bowl Pick-the-Winner $5,000 Freeroll
All you had to do to get an entry into this freeroll was to pick the winner of the Super Bowl, and since I know nothing about sports I figured I had a 50/50 chance of getting a ticket. The early buzz I’d heard had the Giants as the underdogs, so I picked them, figuring that the field might be smaller if more folks were choosing the likely winner. And New York won, so I got my ticket.
Amazingly enough, for a freeroll with a $1,300 first prize, the game wasn’t even half full. The four-times-daily $200 freerolls on Merge have fields of 5,000—even the HORSE tournament gets more than 2,000 every day—but this event was capped at 2,000 and only had 712 entries. Either it wasn’t advertised very well (although I saw it) or everybody picked the Patriots.
This game followed a typical trajectory for me: a zoom to the top, followed by a crashing defeat.
My first success (A on the graphic) came just five hands in, with the hand known here in Portland as “The Butcher”: T♦Q♣ (not specifically those two cards, but any QT combo). I was in CO and raised to 50 after one limper. The BB and limper came along. The 9♦4♥J♠ flop gave me the open-ended straight draw, and after a bet of 160 from the limper I just called in position. BB folded. The 8♥ turn card made my nut straight. The limper bet into it for 480 and I shoved for 1,760, which he called leaving only 30 behind. He was drawing dead, with J♣K♥ for just top pair. If he’d been suited in hearts, I would have been gone with the A♥ on the river, but instead I picked up a pot of 4,000 chips, double the starting stack. I was tournament chip leader.
Two hands later as UTG3 (B), I snagged T♣T♥. UTG 2 raised to 70, I re-raised to 220. BTN called, the blinds folded, UTG2 shoved. Both UTG2 and BTN were below the starting stack value; if I lost with my pocket pair I’d just be at starting stack again. I went all-in and BTN was all-in, showing 9♦J♥. UTG2 had two overs to my pair: A♣Q♠, and was statistically slightly favored over me (41% v 38%) with the third player involved (who had a 21% chance). The flop was mercifully low: 5♦7♠4♦. Another 7♣ broke the possibility of a backdoor diamond flush, then a 3♦ on the river solidified my knockout of both players. At 7,680 chips, I was the tournament leader on hand seven.
It only lasted a short time. On hand 15 (C) I had K♥J♣ in HJ. Action folded to me, I raised to 75, CO re-raised to 240, the blinds got out of the way, and I called. The flop was perfect: 4♥K♦J♥. I was ahead of aces. I checked to see how much he’d commit and he bet 393. I shoved way over the top for 7,710 and he called off the rest of his stack for a total of 2,210, showing that he did indeed have A♠A♥. I was 69% good. Until the A♣ on the turn, of course. Then I was drawing dead. Still, I was in the top chip stacks in the tournament, with 5,500, nearly three times the start, just ten minutes in.
I lost a little ground for a while after that setback, going as low as 3,650 chips over the next thirty-five hands. Then I got 9♥7♥ in UTG1 (D) and raised to 120. HJ called me and we were heads-up at the flop. 9♦T♣3♣ gave me middle pair and I bet 250, getting a call. 8♦ turn set me up for another straight draw and I bet 600 into the 830 pot. HJ shoved for 2,551. I really didn’t think he’d hit the board; I risked all but 1,300 chips to make the call and see his 5♥5♣. He was drawing pretty thin. The river was 6♥, which actually made my straight, unnecessary as it was. I was back in contention, although not in the uppermost chip ranks.
Another fifty hands went by before I made another jump (E). It came in a series of three hands about an hour and fifteen minutes into the game. Blinds were 100/200, I was UTG1 with 5♦7♦ and limped after a fold from UTG. HJ limped, but BTN pushed all-in for 1,880. The blinds folded. I had both the all-in and the other limper covered by about 4,000 chips. I didn’t figure the limper would enter the action after me, so I called. The limper folded and I was heads-up against J♠A♠. Isn’t the Mutant jack my hand? It appeared as if it was, because right away there was a flush draw on the board with 9♦2♦T♠; I was actually slightly ahead. K♣ for the turn gave him the Broadway draw and flipped the odds back to 65%/34% in his favor. Then I hit the second-to-the-least pair with 7♥ on the river and made another knockout.
A player who’d joined the table twenty hands earlier with under 1,500 chips had been hanging on despite the 100/200 blinds by going all-in. I hadn’t felt able to call, even when I’d raised pre-flop. Just after beating the Mutant Jack, I was SB with J♦T♦ and finally called his all-in of 930. Another limper who was the only stack larger than me at the table called. The flop was Q♣T♠9♥ giving me the open-ended straight draw and second pair. UTG2 and I both checked to the 9♠ turn and 6♣ river. UTG2 missed the flush with A♠8♠ and the best hand was the short stack’s Q♦K♣. I’d come to regret not having called to see if I could have knocked that stack out earlier.
The next hand proved lucrative, however. On BTN with 6♥A♥ and just over 8,000 chips, I limped in after the big stack (10,500+ in UTG1) and BB. I made middle pair on the 7♦4♦6♣ flop and after it was checked around to me, I shoved. He called with the nut flush draw Ax3x but two spades showed up on the turn and river, so I doubled up to over 16,770 and was back in the top stacks in the tournament. Two pair with The Butcher on the next hand knocked out another player put me up to 19,000 chips, then I picked another 500 off the guy who’d doubled me up, leaving him with just over 2,000 chips. My attempt to take him out a few hands later would double him up when K♥J♥ missed against his 8♦8♠.
I managed to climb (with ups and downs of 2,000 to 3,000 chips) to 22,600 before I hit a big snag (F). Both the stacks I’d doubled up above had managed to climb up to 11,000+ chips. The first-mentioned (who’d joined the table with 1,500 chips) shoved from UTG1 and I called him from UTG2. A short stack in CO called all-in, and it was A♣K♦ (short stack) v 8♦8♥ (doubled-up stack) v Q♥J♣ (me). The board almost ran out a straight with 3♣6♠7♣4♠2♠ that would have been topped with one of the eights. That loss just about cut me in half, and put the former short stack over 25,000.
I got back into the top thirty spots about 15 hands later with A♣J♥ on the button (G). Blinds were 250/500/50 and HJ shoved for 9,500 after all action folded to him. The stack I’d doubled up between us folded, SB had about 3,500 chips and BB had 15,500. I shoved and they both folded; HJ showed J♦J♠ and I was on the wrong end of a 70%/30% showdown. The A♥ showed up on the flop, though, and my opponent was down to hoping for that last jack to show up, which it didn’t. So I popped back up to where I’d been eight minutes before. A strong bet after I made second-nut flush not long after put me within spitting distance of 30,000 chips (H). That lasted all of two hands (I). I had A♣Q♠ in UTG2 at 300/600/75. UTG folded. UTG1 was the short stack that had climbed back from under 1,000 to 25,000 now. He limped in and I raised to 2,000, which he was the only player to call. The flop was 9♥2♥6♣, I had position on him and he went all-in. I’d suspected him of shoving light on a lot of his road to recovery, so I followed along for all but 3,000 of my chips. Then he flipped over 9♠T♠ and I had just a 22% chance of not being crippled. The 9♦ showed on the turn and I was doomed. He had 52,000 chips and the tournament lead. I didn’t last long after that (J), ending up seventy places out of the money after going all-in with T♥K♠. Q♣A♥ won that hand.
The tournament went on for another three hours. Both the small stack who’d risen to 50,000 and the player I’d knocked down to 2,000 with a double-up made the final table.
Two hours, 183 hands. 98th of 712 players.
Encore Club $10,000 Guarantee
I’ve really got to try to come up with some better way of recording what’s going on in live games. I don’t know if it was the lesson taught to me by the loss of the lead in the noon online game or what, but I somehow managed to once again make it to the end of a $10K at Encore. What I do remember is that one player—who looked sort of like a drunk Nathan Lane—kept shoving over my raises and that eventually, once we were at the point where the payouts were over $1,000, I called him with Qx8x. He showed Ax4x but I hit the queen on the flop and sucked a couple hundred thousand in chips into my stack (the picture below is about 250,000).
He had a friend with him who kept trying to help stack his chips for him and who he kept kicking. I was tempted to ask that only players and staff be seated at the table, but I held my tongue. Around 3:30am, everyone was still within a range of a 200,000 chips, the blinds were 8,000/16,000/3,000 and a chop for a little over $2,400 each was proposed and accepted. And once again, I forgot to take a picture of the screen.