For the Good of the Game

I’ve been a (until recently) ceaseless promoter of poker, even though when a new episode  last night of HGTV’s My Lottery Dream Home revealed it’s latest subject, my wife said “Oh no! Not a poker player!’ I didn’t recognize the face immediately and was a bit surprised because the intro mentioned a 3rd place cash at the 47th Annual World Series of Poker (2016, the year I worked there as a reporter) and an amount of $4 million dollars.

They certainly made it sound as if it was the Main Event, but Cliff Josephy was 3rd place that year, and this wasn’t Cliff. They mentioned that the subject—Mark—lived in Philadelphia, but there are only seven players on the Hendon Mob rankings for Pennsylvania with anything that could even be rounded up to $4 million, and none of them were named Mark. In fact, the highest-ranked Mark on the list was Mark “@dipthrong” Herm, with $1.7 million in recorded live tournament winnings. And Herm did, in fact, come in 3rd in Event #21 $3,000 NLHE 6-Max, which—though a substantial amount smaller than $4 million.

Typically, the winners on MLDH came into their money through a single big lottery win, and the show’s script certainly tried to make it look that way for Mark Herm, but unless I’m missing something big time, my guess is that Herm gave the show’s staff a number that included winnings from cash games over the years.

Herm was interviewed by Sarah Herring on the PokerNews Podcast this week.

UPDATE:  Kevin @kevmath Mathers points out Herm’s PocketFives profile:

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#PNWPokerLeaderboard for January 2019

Hey! It’s been a while. I don’t know if the Leaderboard is going to continue as a regular feature, but how often do we get the chance to celebrate an outstanding achievement by such a likable personality?

Jacki Burkhart wasn’t the biggest cash winner over the past month-and-a-half on Hendon Mob, but she had to have the best ROI, because her contribution to Maria Konnikova’s #MyPokerStory competition got Jacki into a 1,000+ entry competition that included some of the best players in the world, where she placed 38th. her win vaults her fro 343rd on the Leaderboard to 161st.

The Pacific NW Leaderboard has just about 3,700 players on it at the moment, basically everyone listed as a resident of Oregon, Washington, or Idaho. who’s made more than $3,000 in (reported) lifetime earnings, not counting daily or recurring tournaments (that’s just the way things are reported). Nothing from social gaming clubs in Oregon, not even for the bigger tournaments. I’d include British Columbia and maybe Alberta, but Canadian players aren’t broken out on Hendon Mob by province.

This past month or so added a dozen new entries on the Leaderboard, with the biggest being Pasco’s Joseph Beltran Arredondo. He had one small cash in a daily event at Aria last summer, but he won the 650-player $600 entry Wynn Signature Series $250K GTD NLHE at the end of January in what looks like a 4-way deal, moving hiim to position 594.

On 3 January, Robert Dilger of Kennewick got his second cash, with 5th place at the Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza V #21 $100K GTD NLHE. There were 580 players with multiple days of entry ($340). He jumps into 2016th place on the leaderboard. The tournament was won by Unknown, Seattle’s Dylan WIlkerson took 7th.

Timothy Hagensen’s 8th place finish in a mid-month tournament at the Golden Nugget is smaller than I’d usually mention, but it intrigued me because it was listed as a $155 entry tournament with a $20K GTD and a $170K prize pool. Plus, it was part of the MOOSE Poker Tournament Series benefit, run by the Loyal Order of Moose. According to the brochure (which does not mention the rest of the events in the series) the entry fee was $350 and there was a $10K guarantee for first place. It mentioned the 2018 run had 846 players, the 2019 edition beat that by 5. The payout structure is old-school, going up in $1,000 increments between 10th and 3rd (from $4,000 to $11,000, but it’s a freezeout and there’s no deals allowed. Always interesting to know what else is going on outside the casino-run games. Tim (from Washougal) moved onto the leaderboard at 2129th.

Thomas Kornechuk from Auburn is the big winner overall through January, taking his biggest score by far with a win in the WSOPC Thunder Valley #11 $500K GTD NLHE Main Event. He goes all the way from 416 to 103 on the combined leaderboard. “57-year-old software engineer”? Maybe I better rethink that poker retirement thing…

James Romero’s been busy at PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas and the Aussie Millions in Melbourne this year, with four smaller cashes after a 2nd place finish in the 200-player $3,300 entry PCA #28 NLHE. With re-entries the prize pool climbed over $715K. At the levels Romero is at in the leaderboard, movement is slight, but he gains a spot (to 11th) and Matt Affleck moves down to 12th, even though he also had some results this month in the PokerStars Players Championship and at WSOPC Thunder Valley.

Lee Markholt doesn’t move on the leaderboard(still #6), despite four cashes at the PCA, including the biggest, for runner-up in PCA #35 NLHE, a $2,200 buyin event with 164 entries.

Portland’s Kao Saechao starts off the year moving up a notch to 26th with results at WSOPC Thunder Valley. He placed 5th in Event #7 $100K GTD NLHE Monster Stack (686 entries made a $226K prize pool), then just a few days later came 4th in Event #13 NLHE 8-Max (135 entries, $135K prize pool).

Likewise, Max Young climbs a spot to 22nd, with a couple smaller cashes in the Bahamas and Tunica, and a 6th-place finish in Biloxi’s Beau Rivage Million Dollar Heater $300K GTD NLHE Main Event158 entries made a $400K prize pool.

William Zaiss of Everson, Washington got his New Year off to a great start in the opening event of the WPT Gardens Poker Championship. A $175 entry with 562 entries, it nearly tripled the $50K guarantee. A 4-way deal gave Zaiss the win , moving him from 309th to 233rd on the leaderboard.

Dien Le of Bellevue moves up nearly 20 spots, to 148th, after a deep run to 26th in the 1,415-player WPT Borgata $3M GTD NLHE Main Event.

Mill Creek’s Jordan Westmorland remains at #39 on the leaderboard, despite 3rd place in Aussie Millions #3 NLHE Shot Clock Shootout. The event drew 180 entries and built a prize pool of $132K (US).

Lewiston’s Stephen Schumacher crossed one of my dream poker trips off my list, as well as picking up 4 Vietnam flags for his Hendon Mob record, at APT Ho Chi Minh City. His biggest win came for 8th place in the ₫ 35,000,000 + 3,500,000 NLHE Championship Event, with a total prize pool of ₫ 7,835,306,000 ($338K). Schumacher moves from 173rd to 164th.

We’ll wrap up this edition with everyone’s fave, Angela Jordison, who got caught playing with only two cards and moves up seven spots to 142nd for her 28th place finish in the WSOPC Choctaw $1M GTD NLH Main Event.

That’s all for this edition of the Leaderboard. Hope to see some of you in a couple of weeks at the PACWEST Poker Classic in Lincoln City (where it was snowing today).  Retirement’s going well! Apart from the half-min-cash at Portland Meadows a couple weeks ago, I played my old home game Friday night and took second after a couple of bad beats kept me from winning, then made a little in the cash game that followed.  As always, this is the Poker Mutant (#1047 on the Leaderboard) signing off.

They Pay Too Many Places…

By the time the Portland Meadows $40K GTD NLHE tournament rolled around in mid-January, I hadn’t played a single hand of poker for three weeks as a part of my retirement deal. A few people joked about me falling off the wagon, but my arrangement with my newly-retired wife was to not play on a regular basis. As I told people who asked: “I’m retired. I’m not dead.”

I got to Meadows fifteen minutes before the game began, only to find out immediate seating had already sold out half an hour earlier. I was alternate 43 in a rom with 200 seats for the tournament (we were playing 10-handed). Fortunately, the tournament was a freezeout.

Meadows had a very successful $30K GTD in December that went to $84K in the prize pool, so there wasn’t any concern about not making the guarantee, despite the lsat entry day of the Main Event of the Tulalip Pow Wow being held north of Seattle on the same day. Perhaps expecting a big turnout, the starting stack had been reduced from 25K to 20K.

I finally got a seat just over two-and-a-half hours into the tournament. Blinds were 250/500 with a big blind ante, and it was near the end of the level; not exactly where I want to be putting $300 ($285 plus $15 for the door fee) down for a game. True to form, I lost 3K on the first hand (I opened with AxQx), and within the first half hour nearing a break, I was down to 7600, with the big blind about to go up to 800.

Over the next hour, I managed to claw my way over the starting stack. They were still seating alternates ninety minutes after I got in—more than four hours into the tournament.

At the five hour mark (I’d only been playing for about half of that), I had 27500, but that was only about 18bb. I languished between 10–15bb for another 90 minutes before I got a crucial double, shoving J9 from UTG1, getting called by KxJx and catching a 9. By 6:30, the board said there were 90 players remaining (from 314 entries, game started at noon).

My notes say the board was updated from 90 to 80 players remaining (we were still 10-handed) between 6:34 and 6:38. 45 players were getting paid.

Another 15 players were taken off the board by the time we got back from break at 6:59. I paid blinds early in the level, and was down to 11bb. Action was moving fast, and we didn’t have a full table, I paid another set of blinds by 7:16 and was down to 37K with the big blind at 4000. 56 players on the board. Got aces on the button, action folded to me, I shoved and nobody called. Down to 55.

Blinds went to 3000/6000 at 7:25. The board said there were 50 players left. We went hand-for-hand 10 minutes later. I had 32K.

A couple minutes later, the in the money announcement was made. On the next hand, the player in the big blind was all in for half of the big blind, lost the hand, and the dealer handed him a seat card to get his payout, as he’d been instructed.

That’s when things got weird.

The floor made an announcement that shocked me to the core. They’d somehow missed a table and were going to reset the count to 54.

Now, I once saw a tournament at Planet Hollwood blow through the bubble with people who left the room before the floor staff realized they were close to payouts, but that was a tournament with hundreds of players. We were down to literally six tables. Sure, you can’t count them on one hand, but how do you lose track of whether you’re at five or six or seven tables? Portland Meadows isn’t the Commerce Casino. It has a couple dozen tables in a room you can walk from end-to-end in less than fifteen seconds. And they had to have lost track of the count somewhere in the hour leading up to the bubble without anyone ever noticing. Cash game tables had started up, and an evening tournament had started at 7pm, but you’d think the tournament with the $90K prize pool might take a little precedence.

As a short stack, I’d laid down a couple of hands I’d have shoved in that last hour (which is why I’d been watching the count) and I assume there were a number of other players in my short stack situation that were doing the same thing. Now I was in a situation where I literally couldn’t do that because nobody had just walked the room double-checking the tables.

Anyway, I called a shove around 8pm from the BB with 7x8x against Jx9x and hit a 7 on the turn. We were down to 51 players again. I had 58K with big blind at 8000. Ten minutes later we went hand-for-hand a second time. And after about 20 minutes I was in the big blind with half my stack in the middle and K5 when Jason Adams limped inn from SB with a big stack and called my shove with Qx6xOut on the bubble when he turns a queen and I split 45th place with a bustee from another table.

Anyway, the title of this post (if you’ve stayed this long) is a variation of something you (well, I) hear all the time, including at Meadows the other day. A player glances up at the payouts and mutters to the tale: “They pay too many places.” The implication, of course, is that the top prize is too small and that all those little payouts at the bottom are eating into their profit. Like they’re a lock on the win.

I’ve actually studied payout structures a bit over the years, though, and I can tell you that the payouts for a bunch of players on the bottom end doesn’t really have that much of an effect.

A few years back when the World Series of Poker extended the number of payouts in the Main Event from just over 10% of the field to 15%, there was great gnashing of teeth. What most people didn’t stop to calculate, though, was that even though 50% more people were getting payouts, the $15,000 each of those players got was one-and-a-half times the players’ contribution to the prize pool (1.5 x 5% = 7.5%) so with a little extra out for fees, around 8%. If you were going to get $8 million for first place, in other words, you were only going to get about $7.35 million. Poor baby.

Another piece I did for the 2015 WSOP was on the effect of the $10 million first-place guarantee. A chart I did for “Satisfaction Guarantee” showed how the jumps in payouts for the WSOP have been all over the place over the years (see the chart from that article above), until adjustments were made to the formula used to determine payouts. For the past couple of years there’s been an online payout calculator that you could use to determine what the prizes would be, based on the number of players in each event.

With all that in mind, people aren’t completely incorrect. The top prize in the Meadows $40K GTD was significantly smaller than it would have been in many other venues for a field of a similar size and prize pool. But it’s not because of the number of payouts.

Time for a big chart. Join me at the bottom.

This chart shows payouts from five different payout structures—two with 45 payouts and two with 54 (plus a 48-payout structure!)—in order from top (smallest) to bottom (1st). If you look at the bottom line, keep in mind that the brown lines represent payouts in the mid-January Meadows tournament (which paid 45 places). You might notice that the $17,100 payout is significantly smaller than the other four numbers, al of which are on the bigger side of the $20,000 mark, ranging from $20,005 to $21,691. How is there a discrepency of $3,000 or more in payouts? It’s less than 3% of the prize pool but it’s a 15% or greater reduction in the size of first place.

Now, in the old days, a tournament of 314 entries would probably have paid only 36 spots, rounding up to 4 full tables from 10% of the field. By my old friend the 2013 Venetian Deepstack 9/10 Handed Payout Structure, top prize would have paid 24%, or $21,480, more than $4,400 above the actual $17,100 scheduled first prize. The none $490 payouts to places 37 to 45 amounted to almost exactly that amount, but that value wasn’t all taken from the top spot.

How do I know? Because the Venetian payouts for 45 players (orange lines on the chart) has a top prize of 23.5%, which is $21,035, still almost $4,000 more than the Meadows prize. And the payouts for 37th through 45th are 0.54%: $485, just a fin under the same payouts at Meadows. With almost identical amounts paid to the fifth table, first place at the Venetian was still a lot more.

Personally, I think the counting mishap the other day could have been handled better by admitting a mistake and adjusting the payout table to pay 54 places. “But Mutant,” you cry, “that’s taking so much money from me, the winner of this here tournament!” Not so fast bucko.

The next column on the Venetian payout chart is for 54 places (red lines). Top prize is 23% ($20,595). with minimum payouts at $385 for the sixth table (46th to 54th) and $420 for the fifth table (37th to 45th).

For additional comparison, I’ve included two forms of payouts using the WSOP calculator. A tournament with 314 entries would pay 48 places (rounded up from 15% of the field, shown in green). I also show the payouts for 54 places (blue lines).

Pretty much every payout schedule except for Meadows has one thing in common: players at the final table are each paid a different amount, then there are three clusters of three payouts for 10th through 12th, 13th through 15th, and 16th through 18th. Then each full table is paid the same amount. For some reason, the payouts at Meadows increase in increments of three from position 30 on up to the final table. But that’s not really the problem, either.

The true culprit is at the final table. Between 9th and 8th, the payouts go from 2.2% to 3%, an increase of 36% where the other structures go up about 25%, The next jump at Meadows is to 4%, a relative increase of 33%. Again, it’s more than any of the other structures. And like compound interest, these bigger relative pay jumps have their effects that can be seen on the chart between payouts for 5th and 9th. The brown line represents a significantly larger payout than the others. More than a thousand dollars more than any other payout for 6th place ($4,475). By the final payouts, the more elegant exponential curves of the standard payouts have left the Meadows payout in the dust.

So the next time that guy sits down next to you at the table to grouse about all his money going to the min-cashers, you’ll be prepared to bore him to tilt with facts, figures, charts, and graphs.

This is not to pick on Portland Meadows or any other venue about their payout tables; it’s an article that’s been on my back burner for a long, long time. But if anyone wants advice on how to set up a payout table like the WSOP’s…

You’re Asking Me

You’re asking me, “will it be alright?”
Because I’ve been around, I have the insight
And I was there the first time so I must know what it’s like
If you’re asking me, don’t take my advice
—Ray Davies, “You’re Asking Me”, Working Mans Café

It’s hard and time-consuming to keep up with everything going on in the tournament poker world, even just the stuff close to home here in the Pacific Northwest. Not everyone is good about putting up info in a timely fashion (as I write this less than two weeks before the Tulalip Pow Wow, the schedule for that series still isn’t up on the Tulalip Casino web site). It’s incredibly easy to overlook or miss things that are going on. But here’s a collection of hopefully-useful links and Twitter feeds to keep you busy not that I’ve hung up the calendar.


The Poker Mutant is retired from poker as of today.

No poker today. No poker tomorrow.

I’ll still make the ocassional game, but for now I’m out of the game on a regular basis. I’m going to post some links over the next couple of days for people to reference for the info I used to collect.

Thanks to all of the folks who have offered encouragement and support over the years, particularly my little gang Poker Team 1Daryl VogelBrad Press, and Steve Myers. Many thanks to my cousin-by-marriage Kelly Buechler for introducing me to my first home in 2007. Best wishes to my former programming colleague Tomer Berda for advice and a couple of great experiences at the feet of a poker master. Thanks to Mark Humphrey for offering me the good room in his Las Vegas condo on my longest shot at playing in las Vegas back in 2012 and Jeremy Harkin for a god deal when I needed one for someplace to stay in Vegas when I worked the WSOP. Sean Gentry and Darin Stout for some damn good photos of me at the table. Rebecca Hanington and Devin Sweet for they-know-what. Ben May and Brian Sarchi and the late John Ogai and everyone else who operates or has operated a poker room in Portland. Chadd Baker for Portland Players Club. My travel and intellectual partner David LongJoe Brandenburg, Elizabeth Tedder, Jacqi Burkhart, and the always-entertaining Angela JordisonCat MartinHeath Bloodgood, and the rest of the staff at Final Table for helping with the website project. Everyone I didn’t have time to list before I hit Update.

R-Day Minus 2

The Poker Mutant will be retiring (mostly) from poker on 1 January. This is the latest installment in his thrilling countdown to the End of Times.

After I got to the hotel last night, I spent some time figuring out what my plans for Sunday were going to be.  Aside from the 1pm and 7pm tournaments at the Venetian, I didn’t know of anything else more than just something to play in town my last day.

First off, I fired up to see  what was on their schedule. Right off the bat I noticed there was a $100K GTD at 3pm for a $320 buyin, and a $50K NLHE 6-Max at 6pm. Both of them had satellites, an important point for the $50K, because the buyin was $1K. So my initial plan was to maybe play some cash, come back to the hotel  early in the afternoon for the online tournaments, and get up at 4am for my flight.

Before I went to sleep, I payed a small tournament and some low stakes cash.

Best laid plans.

The first part went fine. Breakfast, unexpected morning drinking, a handy cab for a ride to the Orleans, and relatively short waiting to get onto a 1/3 table, then an opening 15 minutes later in 4/8 Omaha Hi-Lo. I came out after a couple of hours with about enough to cover my cab ride over, though not the Lyft back. Got set up for the 10-Seat GTD NLHE Satellite for the $100K. Got in for two buyins but didn’t want to do a third, so I relaxed until the actual $100K GTD started.

This one was a little painful, I laid down what would have been the winning hand in an early all-in when I would have tripled up, then busted out on a hand where we got all in on a run turn after I’d made a flush against a set, only to have him get a full house on the river. I don’t know if these things have  seemed more painful because I’d rather be going out on an up note but they are really pissing me off in a way they usually don’t.

I decided to leave the room and headed back to the Venetian for Event #17 $30K NLHE. Kao Saechao  was still in Day 2 of the $260K GTD. I got into the tournament late (precisely at 4:20, I noted to the table, most of whom were older than me and nobody admitted to understanding) with the hope that I could repeat the early success of my late buyin from yesterday, but it was not happening. I was out by 6pm.

So it was to the 1/2/5 PLO cash game for me. For about an hour. And that’s how my poker time in Las Vegasis is going to come to and end. Bang and whimper.

R-Day Minus 3

The Poker Mutant will be retiring (mostly) from poker on 1 January. This is the latest installment in his thrilling countdown to the End of Times.

It’s official, I will not be winning a total of $100K between mid-September and the end of the year, so the poker retirement is final.

My last chance, after a couple of great weeks at home, was to shoot for the Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza Event #14 $260K GTD NLHE, literally the last major tournament of the year in my league. $400 buyin, 30K in chips, 30-minute levels…I could manage that.

I caught the 6am Spirit Airlines flight to Las Vegas this morning, having paid extra for their Big Front Seat. What they don’t tell you at Spirit—and I get the feeling that there are a lot of things they don’t tell you at Spirit—is that the chairs are so flimsy that when the person who didn’t pay for extra legroom moves their legs and their knees hit the back of your seat, that it’s like having a donkey kick you in the lower back. Anyway, it was a great $3 can of Diet Coke.

Rode the city bus from the airport to the South Strip Transit Center. Even though the public areas of Vegas are pretty white, I was the only non-African-American on the city bus leaving the airport at 8:15am on a chilly Saturday., and there were a dozen passengers and a driver.

Caught the Deuce up the Boulevard to the Venetian and bought my ticket for the tournament, which was set to start just after noon, then headed over to the Fashion Show to see if I could scare up a cheaper breakfast than I could get at The Venetian. I could not. In fact, after I decided against a heavy plate of pancakes or a burger, I picked an Asian Chicken Salad that was not the worst I’ve ever had. The one I had at an Irish bar in Spokane was worse.

Picked up some Diet Coke at CVS, then trudged back across three skybridges and through the Palazzo to get back to the poker room.


Along the way, I spotted this rad slot machine! The first board game I really remember having was based on Thunderball, and while I’m really not a slot fan, I had to sit down and plug a couple dollars in this baby. Two spins at the max credits and I was up to $8.50. I probably should have declared myself a winner in Vegas at that point, because it was the last money I won today.

By the end of the first level of play, I was already up 8500 chips, after hitting a gutshot to the nut straight with [8c9c]. Another attempt to get clever really cost me when 68 flopped me the nuts, but someone with a similar idea had that and a flush draw to back it up, which he turned. That cost me all but 8K.

I managed to double up before the first break, then lost my chance to double again when I called a raise wth 9x9x, had the short stack in my left shove and the original raiser shove in for more. He had AxQx, the short stack had 8s, and the board ran out 2x3x4x8x9x. Then I let my aces get cracked by nines and lost more than I needed to (like half my small stack). And on my next button, I shoved Qx9x from the button and a new player in the big blind had AxKx and it was over.

i really didn’t want to reenter, but back to the cage I went with another $400. I was 178 on the alternate list, and they were calling 110 or so.

Sixty-five minutes later and I was in again, with another 30K in chips and blinds just about to go up to 500/1000 with a 1000 big blind ante. Won the last hand just before break 2, so I was up by about 4K.

Bullet 2 only lasted about 90 minutes. Eventually, I jammed KxQx into a short-stack raise, he had aces, I was short ago a Andy went out.

Bullet 3 (no wait this late in the game!) seemed like it was going to be the one. Early on, I raised with queens and got a couple of calls, then the board ran out three treys. An early positio caller jammed a little more than the starting stack and I called with my full house. He had fours, and I doubled up.

That same player doubled up against an aggressive player on the dealer’s left. I was on the button the next hand and the aggro guy was on the big blind. We had roughly similar stacks, like 40bb. I raised QJ and he shoved after thinking a bit. I thought he might be steaming about the double up from the previous hand, but no, he had AxKx, which I found out when I called him. He had something to really steam about when a jack hit the river and I also doubled up through him.

Our table broke not long after and I did extremely well at the new table. By the last break of the day, I had more than 250K, which Would have been better than a median stack at the end of the day. Unfortunately…

A short stack new to the table raised all in and I called wth A8. He had QT, so naturally, he won the hand. #PortlandNuts

That and blinds took me down below 200K. Then, in one of those hand that seem like setups, just as the tournament clock was stopped at18 minutes to Gomez before bagging, with nine hand left to go, I was in the button.

The player who had doubled up through me raised. I had jacks. Some poker common sense would say to just fold my way to Day 2, with a decent if not stellar stack, and get into the money. The bad poker brain says: “JACKS!”

I shoved. None of the players left to act had as many chips a shot I did. Apart from a huge stack who had more than a million chips afternoon one of the most bizarre hands I’ve seen, and a player on my right, I had been the chip leader before the double up. But nontheless, I shoved.

then the small blind shoved for more chips than the original raised. Not as many as me, but enough. The original raiser said something about not wanting to lose wit I had his hand, but he called. Small blind had queens. Original raiser had kings. Yuck.

At least, that was what I thought until the flop, which was all spades but with a jack. None of the pairs had a spade. Then a queen hit the turn. And another queen on the river. The guy with kings was eliminated. I was chopped down to 70K, less than 10bb.

Next hand, action folds to me, I shove KQ and the small blind has aces. So that’s how my quest for poker glory comes to its end, eight hands short of Day 2.

Good luck to Portland’s Kao Saechao, who’s still in the hunt.

R-Day Minus 4: My Time Is Coming

The Poker Mutant will be retiring (mostly) from poker on 1 January. This is the latest installment in his thrilling countdown to the End of Times.

No poker played today, but by the time the five or six people who see this read it, I’ll probably be in Las Vegas for the last big tournament of the year in the western United States: the Venetian Deepstacks Extravaganza V Event #14 $260K GTD NLHE.

Saturday is the third entry day for the $400 buyin event, there have been more than 600 entries so far, so it should go well over the guarantee.

That said, with just over $92K to go before my goal of $100K before the end of the year, I’d need to win a tournament with close to a $500K prize pool this weekend, which would mean another 800 or so entries on Saturday. It could happen.

Either way, my time is coming.

Hoping to see Kao Saechao and Steve Roselius down in Las Vegas! Happy birthday to Molly Anne Mossey and good luck to Jackie BurkhartKevin Mathers, and all the lucky folks heading to the Bahamas for the world’s largest $25K buyin at the PokerStars Players Championship! Safe driving to Carlos Welch.

R-Day Minus 5

The Poker Mutant will be retiring (mostly) from poker on 1 January. This is the latest installment in his thrilling countdown to the End of Times.

We were at the final table of the Final Table $1K GTD NLHE Bounty last night at midnight, and at the time I didn’t know if I was going to be coming out a slight loser (after taking a couple of bounties) or if I was going to make it into the money.

I’d gotten to the club early in the fourth level and done well enough to be above average when we got to the break and the add-on. I was one of the top three stacks at the table when a big hand developed that included one of the other big stacks—who’d doubled up another player with a rather loose call in an effort to pick up a bounty—a short stack went all in, I was planning to call with my AxTx, but the other player shoved his not-insignificant pile of chips and I folded. An ace on the flop would have given me the win and at least two bounties, as well as crippling or eliminating the big stack. Sign.

Got to the final table as one of the short stacks (as usual) and waited things out, shoved a few times without getting called, eventually getting through the bubble and down to four players, losing an ace-king v. queens race to get knocked out in fourth. Three bounties.

Played a brief—I mean 2-minute—Zone cash session.

$92,052 to go before 1 January.