Eight Hundred Kay and Beyond

Venetian $800K Guarantee NLHE Day 1B (T15,000)

After getting busted by a geezillionaire at the Wynn, I took advantage of the only reason to come to Vegas in the summer—the huge number of tournaments each day—and headed across the street to the Venetian to late-register one of the satellites to their penultimate tournament of the summer Deepstacks Extravaganza. Yes, I know it’s Sheldon Adelson’s property. Tweet me.

I was alternate 76 for the night, and wasn’t going to get in before the level after the break, which came up not long after I made it to the desk. I had to wait for another ten minutes or so into the level, then got to work hanging on for dear life.

And it worked! I’d been disappointed that the DSE wasn’t running as many Survivor tournaments as they had the previous year—not that I would have gotten an opportunity to play them this summer, things being what they were—but I would have preferred to play them instead of a satellite. Take the cash and go home.

Two-thirds of the field of 153 was gone by the four-and-a-half hour mark (about an hour less for me since I late-regged). Coming in late, I was under average for most of the tournament, with only 20BB and the average at 33BB. Another eighty minutes and I hit the jackpot with AxAx over KxKx when I had just 12BB, with just ten players to go before the money. I got aces again just twenty minutes later but they didn’t pay a big pot.

At a quarter to one in the morning, after nearly seven hours of the tournament, we were on the bubble. 23 players were getting seats to the $1,100 event, and the 24th player was getting $98, just under half the satellite buyin. One of the players proposed that the remaining 25 players chip in $5 cash each for the bubble, which would make up the remainder of the buy-in. I did it, but the irony, of course, is that if only 10% of the seat winners made it through to the money in the $800K, the bubble boy would be making—or at least losing less—than about 20 of the seat winners. Most of the other players contributed, one of the three tables only had two contributors, ironically it was the one with multiple short stacks.

After the satellite, it was back to the Quad to sleep and struggle with the wifi, which only got worse after my first post for the trip.

The morning before the game, I met up for coffee with Toma Barber (@AfroSamuraiLV), who’d sat next to me close to the money at the Deepstacks Main Event last fall, and made it to the final table after coming back from an extreme short stack. Since I try to make maximum use of my short trips to Vegas, it’s tough to meet up with people, but it’s obviously essential to building a poker career, and Toma was a great source of info on WSOP.com (which would have been more useful if the wifi had been working, natch).

After leaving Toma, I wandered over to the Venetian and found my spot at the table closest to the main entrance to the casino. Things got off to a great start, with me winning two of the first three pots, but twenty minutes in I lost a big one when the board straighter out on the turn to crack my top two pair and I couldn’t improve. By the end of the first 40-minute level, though, I’d made up the deficit and a little bit.

Milton Waddams

I was in seat 7. Seat 5 could easily have been the inspiration for the Milton Waddams character in Office Space, if Milton was taller, weighed more, had scabby arms and unshaven jowls, a constantly twitching chin that jiggled said jowls, and had used his money to enter the WSOP Main Event for several years instead of complaining about the service on Caribbean beaches. He was one of those constant sotto vocé talkers at the table, muttering both to himself and others throughout hands and after. I say this with the full acknowledgement that he may be a great player, for all I know—I ended up losing to him, as did a number of other players—but seriously, it was almost comical. I almost hope to see him make a major event final table one of these days, just to see how ESPN or the WPT production companies could handle it.

By the first break, I was back down to T8,600 chips. Over the next hour-and-a-half, I maintained, and was down to T8,000 four hours in. Blinds were 150/300/50. Milton limped UTG, I raised to T1,500 with KJ, and action folded back around to Milton, who hemmed and hawed for about two minutes, despite having me covered by more than T20,000. I don’t know if it was an act or what, but when the flop hit KxQxQx, I certainly didn’t put him on anything that was as strong as AxKx or AxQx, so I bet the king after his check, he called with AxQx, and with no king on the turn or river, it was over.

Three hours and forty minutes. Around 370th of 526 entries.

WSOP 3pm Deepstack (T15,000)

I headed down to Harrah’s and caught the shuttle to the Rio to late-register for the $235 Deepstack. Entry numbers were down significantly for the Deepstacks, with everything behind the WSOP except for the Main Event. The Pavilion Room registration cage where there had been long lines for both satellites and the DS events two weeks earlier was only had two windows open to process tournament entries and three people in line for those. Still, top prize in the 3pm tournament was about $28,000.

My first table was all late-registrants, drunk or just exceptionally garrolous Brits, mostly. And play there was loose and alternating between slow and fast, with conversations about the World Cup, which part of London they were from (for the ones who hadn’t signed up together), and how much they’d drank the night before. It didn’t take long for us to break into the main body of tables, and I picked up a few chips at that point.

The killer hand for me was about an hour-and-a-half after I got to the Rio. I had T18K at 200/400 and JxJx. UTG put in a small raise and I 3-bet to T2,500. Original raiser calls. The flop is 9x6x4x, no flush draws. I shove, and the original raiser calls with A7. It looks good until the river ace, and I’m down to T3K. Within twenty minutes, he’d given most of his chips away on a gut-shot straight draw. I managed to double up once, but was out just a few minutes later.

Two hours. 550th of 736 entries.

WSOP 6pm Deepstack (T10,000)

Since it was bang-on 6pm, I walked back over to the cage and got into the secondary WSOP daily. It didn’t last long. I was down to about T5K forty-five minutes in, raised to T300 with KxQx UTG and got calls from UTG1 and BB to a QxTx5x flop. I opened to T800 after a BB check, got a call, then BB raises to T2,200, I jam, UTG1 re-shoves for a starting stack, BB open-folds Qx4x, and UTG1 turns over 89. A Tx hits the turn to make me top two pair, but the river Jx reduces my 80% equity at the time I went all-in to 0%.

Forty-five minutes. Around 120th of 137 entries.

Orleans NLHE Bounty (T10,000)

BP had been urging me to get over to the Orleans for their bounty tournament. $100 buyin including $25 bounties. I managed to get over there from the Rio just before the break.

I cracked kings twice in this tournament. The first time, I raised to T900 UTG with QT and called a reraise to T3,800 with just T4K behind. The flop has two spades, I shove, the guy flips KxKx, and I catch a spade. Unfortunately, after that, I was soon down to T5,100 after losing a couple of hands and then blinding off for an hour. I shipped for just over 10BB with 8x8x in late position and an older gent with a large stack and KxKx called from the BB, only to lose to my turned set. On the very next hand, I shipped again, and the guy who’d had the kings called with his own 8x8x, but he just doubled me up another time, and I was at T24.5K.

About three hours into the tournament, I took my first bounty with queens against jacks, then grabbed another at the final table before I became a bounty myself.

Six hours. 6th of 94 entries. 2 bounties. +254% ROI.

Caesars Palace 9am NLHE (T3,000)

Got a couple hours of sleep, then got up at 6:30 and started another poker day. Had a pancake, egg, and bacon breakfast at the Hash House a Go Go in the Quad, thought about buying direct into the final entry day of the $800K, then decide to manage my bankroll a little better and not.

So I walked across the street to Caesars Palace new space for their poker room (not really a “room” any more) and bought into the fast-structured morning game there.

Less than ten minutes into the tournament, I open with KT, flop middle pair, Broadway, and straight draws, and can’t make any of them on my draws, which costs a bunch of chips, and then I bust. Violating my Prime Directive, I rebuy. Half an hour later, the same guy I lost to with the clubs has lost some chips. I pick up AA and 3-bet an early-position raise, my (short-time) nemesis goes all, in, the original raiser folds, and I call against A2, which flushes out on the turn. I’m out in short order after losing most of my chips. This time I don’t rebuy.

Forty minutes. 16th of 23 entries.

WSOP 3pm Deepstack (T15,000)

Despite the fact that I almost always stay at The Quad (what can you say about a hotel that picks a name that evokes student housing?), until this trip, I’d never actually played in their poker room. Not that, from most of the times I’ve walked past, that there’s been much going on in their poker room. But there were no cash games started up at Caesars Palace yet, the wifi in my room wouldn’t let me get on to WSOP.com, and Bravo Poker Live said there was a single table of 1-1 NLHE happening downstairs.

Not my finest hour (or whatever) of poker playing. I bought in for $200, but the play was crazy. There were a couple of seemingly-drunk Europeans passing money back and forth before they were giving it away to a couple of hit-and-run artists. It was nutty enough that one guy sat down with a couple of racks, then stood up after folding one hand. I got myself caught in the crossfire a couple of times, lost almost everything, climbed back a way, then got out while the getting was good. As BP wrote me: If u can’t beat a $1-$1 game at the Quad u should just quit.

I walked next-door to Harrah’s to catch the shuttle to the Rio for the afternoon Deepstack. It was Day 3 of the Main Event, the buzz was all about Phil Ivey having the chip lead at the start of the day, but the buzz was pretty quiet, because there number of people actually at the Rio was dropping like players in the Main Event. The cage in the Pavilion Room was completely closed, without even a sign directing people to the main registration cage out the door and down the hall. I got signed up and headed to my table, which was a good bit less rowdy than the night before.

I roller-coastered for a few hours, more than doubling my stack after one-hundred-and-fifty minutes, then sliding back under chip average as we neared the second break. The fast structure meant the chip average after break was just 20BB (M=7.25). I had an just over 5. Even with the reduced number of players (659) top prize was still about $25K. Then I busted the first hand after the break.

Four hours and thirty-five minutes. Around 310th of 659 entries.

Orleans Limit Omaha 8/B Bounty (T10,000) | 4-8 Omaha 8/B H/K

Grabbed a cab over to the Orleans to once again get under the wire for the Omaha Hi-Lo bounty tournament ($80 buyin, $10 bounty). Didn’t go anywhere, didn’t get any bounties.

One hour and forty minutes. 62nd of 87 entries.

I wasn’t done playing Omaha. I got on the list for 4-8 with a half-kill, got sat down with a couple hundred dollars in chips, and proceeded to double the size of my chip stack over the course of ninety minutes. Then I headed back to the Quad after grabbing a late dinner at T.G.I. Fridays.

Flamingo 12:30am NLHE (T5,000)

It was my last night in town and I was restless. I wasn’t going to be able to play anything major on Friday before I had to go to the airport at 6pm, and looking at Poker Atlas it seemed that, if I wanted a tournament, there was only line place to go. And it was next door.

I have to admit, this is one time when a desire to play poker may have overwhelmed common sense. The details in Poker Atlas weren’t up to date or complete. It listed 20 minute blind levels. They were 15. It didn’t mention that the blinds doubled each level. I should have been suspicious when the guy at the front desk couldn’t tell me how many alternates (the room was full of cash tables), but I forked over my buyin, then I looked at the structure and realized that we were in level 5, which meant blinds were already 200/400 and I wasn’t the first person on the list.

I was all-in almost every hand throughout the game. People started complaining, or commenting, on my preference to enter the hand for maximum value, but as long as I was in the 10BB zone—and the aggressive structure sort of guaranteed that for a long while—that was my main move. I won my showdowns.

We got down to the money in level 10 (T8K/T16K). With 33 entries in the tournament, there were just over 10BB between the five of us. I’d been in the chip lead after knocking all but a couple of blinds out from the former chip lead, but he came back and had been mopping up while I’d been relatively card dead. At 4-handed, I got 8x8x in the BB, the chip lead limped, I shoved, and he called with 6x9x, catching a nine to put me out.

This was one of the rare instances I didn’t leave a tip. The final dealer was the guy who’d been at the desk and didn’t know how many alternates there were when I was asking (and apparently couldn’t be bothered to find out). I hung around the table for several minutes while the floor manager was at the front desk, dealing with a line of people looking to get into cash games, and I asked the dealer if he’d already let the floor man know I needed to be paid. The dealer told me he’d be over as soon as he got done helping customers. I said, somewhat snottily: “What? Am I not a customer?” and the dealer just sort of looked at me with a fat grin. The floor man came over a minute or two later and hinted broadly about tips, with an envelope marked “STAFF” on top of the payout envelopes, but I just took my money and walked to the door.

Seventy-five minutes. 4th of 33 entries. +178% ROI.

Orleans 8-16 Omaha 8/B H/K | ROSE (T10,000)

Another couple hours of sleep. Some more wrestling with the Quad wifi to try to get a work project handled, email answered, etc., mostly unsuccessfully. Then I packed things up, checked out and went back to the sweet, sweet Orleans, the source of most of my success this trip.

Let’s just say that I’m not all that comfortable playing 8-16. Or, to be more accurate, I had never sat down in a cash game for stakes higher than 5-10, and certainly not in a kill pot game higher than 5-10. But there were a couple of hours until the noon ROSE (Razz, Omaha 8/B, Seven-Card Stud, Seven-Card Stud 8/B) tournament started, and things had gone fairly well the night before, so…

…so I lost my buy-in in an hour, more than erasing the 4-8 gain from the night before. I went and got some breakfast, sat back down, and made at least enough money so that I came out $25 ahead for cash games at the Orleans (there’s still the Quad to deal with).

I got off to a good start in the ROSE game, coming in just before break, in Stud 8/B, which is one of my better games, I think (or maybe it’s just one of everyone else’s worst games). I chopped the first hand I played, then had rolled-up nines with a nine showing, and the case nine showing for another player. I picked up an ace on fourth street, then got another on seventh and bet my full house into the inferior full house of a player on my left. It started off quite well. Hit some rocky patches, though, and eventually got it in an Omaha 8/B round well before the money with a good hand and a great draw that never got there.

Three hours. 18th of 45 players.

And that’s it for my 2014 Vegas summer. For the first time in 4 years, no WSOP event. No visit with my bracelet-winning buddy (who didn’t even fly to Vegas this summer). Some small cashes, but the biggest win was the satellite seat. Over the two trips, I played sixteen live tournaments and cashed four (including the satty). Didn’t make back my expenses, but if the queens had held at Planet Hollywood and I’d made 7th or better instead of 16th or I’d managed to even min-cash in the Venetian $800K, that would have been another story.

The big event at Wildhorse is coming up this weekend. If I can swing it, I’d like to make a trip down to California in mid-August for the end of Hustler Casino’s Grand Slam of Poker, the start of the Legends of Poker at The Bike, and the Ante Up World Championship at Thunder Valley. Then, of course, the Bay 101 Open‘s just a couple weeks later and in a day’s drive of Portland….

Hope everyone has a productive and profitable season.

—Poker Mutant