One For Mom

Mother’s Day weekend was a couple weeks back, and everyone in our family had a good time getting together Saturday at my brother’s place for his son’s birthday party, then on the day itself at my house for dinner and a viewing of 20 Feet From Stardom, which had a lot of music that my mom loved. Then, a week ago, last Wednesday morning, while I was at my folks’ house to do some work on their computer, she died.

Don’t know exactly why, yet; it really doesn’t matter and it’s not going to change anything.

I don’t think Mom understood my interest in poker. Our family never had any money to speak of so they weren’t exactly in the gambling demographic. Both my parents grew up poor during the war and then the “boom years” of the 1950s. My father made a lot of trips to Las Vegas for conferences during his years working with the union, and he’d put a few nickels in the slot machines, but never more than two dollars worth. We certainly never took a family vacation there (did they allow camping?) and back in the day, there really weren’t a lot of places outside Vegas to gamble.

My folks played a little pinochle back when they were in college, but Dad was never into card games. Mom, on the other hand, played solitaire. Anyway, I got her a couple of solitaire programs for her computer which were used almost to the day she died. Dad didn’t see the appeal, but I think it was the puzzle-solving element of the game that attracted her.

She was a quality-control chemist at a plant that made glue and resin for the wood-products industry, so she solved a lot of puzzles in her job, like how to affect hundreds of thousands of pounds of a chemical mixture to get it back into tolerance. She fitted flooring and tile pieces in homebuilding projects, and she made a huge number of quilts. But she didn’t gamble, and neither did Dad.

Not having gambling in my background, I never made it to Vegas myself until after I was in my mid-40s. Even then, it was to present at a conference preceding the NAB, not to play cards or anything else. The conference paid for my room at the Rio, but no idea how much time I’d be spending there in later years. I wasn’t even playing poker at that point.

When I did start playing, several years later, my interest in the game probably looked more like mid-life, career-dead guy desperation to Mom (if so, I’m hoping she was uncharacteristically wrong). Risking money goes against everything my folks taught my brother and I. I remember being aghast when my brother had us meet him and his (then) future wife at Harrah’s New Orleans as we watched them lose a couple hundred playing blackjack in ten minutes; my wife and I just drank free beer. It was one thing to invest in something, or put money into a business, as my brother has very successfully (and me, not so successfully), but gambling? That’s just crazy.

And it hasn’t exactly been easy. I’ve had a number of low-to-mid four-figure wins, but not regularly enough to make it possible to cover living expenses. If I do get a large cash sometime in the future, Mom’s not going to see that I haven’t been wasting my time and effort the past three years since I  got into poker seriously.

But I was at Dad’s house to keep him company the other night and played a little no-guarantee 6-Max tournament on Bovada, getting in at 15BB and taking top place. Not a big score, but I dedicate this one to Mom.

Bovada NLHE 6-Max (T1,500)

Hand 1 76 UTG 1,500 50/100
It’s hand 1 for me, but the tournament itself has been going on for a while. I muck this baby.

Hand 9 KA BTN 1,200 50/100
Pretty standard disaster/windfall hand. UTG1 bets all but a fraction of his 1,980 chips, I go all-in, there’s a king on the river and his jacks lose.

Hand 12 67 BB 2,550 75/150
One of those hands where slow-playing can work against you if you let the big blind in for free. UTG1 A5 and SB TJ limp in. The flop’s 433 and I donk bet 230 with the gut-shot straight draw. UTG1 calls with his own straight draw. I bet 500 on a turned 4 and took it down.

Hand 16 AK UTG 3,005 75/150
Open-raise to 450 and take it down.

Hand 19 A6 BTN 3,005 75/150
UTG raises to 450 with JQ and gets called by UTG1 (TT), me, and SB with T8. The flop is AJ9. SB only has 475 remaining and shoves his open-ended straight draw. UTG1 drops out, but the shove is called by UTG and myself. Q turn makes two pair for UTG and gives me the flush draw, but completes SB’s straight. UTG shoves. I have him covered by only about 500 chips, but I call, and a 7 is the card for the river, making flushes for both SB (almost a straight flush) and myself.

Hand 35 KT UTG 6,565 100/200
I opened to 600 and UTG1 shoved his last 1,325 into the pot. Everyone else folded, I called, and the board ran out a very unlucky (for him) AQ68J to give me Broadway.

Hand 40 J9 UTG 8,290 100/200
Standard 3x open for me and everyone folds.

Hand 41 4K BB 8,590 100/200
A losing hand! And quelle surprise, it’s a big blind defense! Both my cards are outclassed when SB limps in holding A5. I’m nominally ahead on the TJK flop, and I bet 200, but he calls my bet and and I go from being down 8% in equity to drawing dead on the 6 turn. I bet 400 to rep the flush, and naturally the nuts calls. He’s probably hoping I’ll try to bluff him out of it and checks to me on the river 9, but mama didn’t raise no idiot boys, even if one of them plays poker, so I just checked my top pair and took the hit.

Hand 43 A8 BTN 7,690 100/200
I don’t usually play this here unless it’s suited, but I was still in decent shape at the table, and had position when UTG raised and UTG1 called. The flop was a pretty decent QAA and we all checked it. The turn 6 was checked to me and I bet 1,000, UTG folded his J9, and UTG1 called, drawing pretty much dead. 3 on the river and I checked it through, just in case I was against a full house, but no.

Hand 44 A8 UTG1 10,190 100/200
I guess I was feeling frisky and raised this to 600, getting called by the blinds (both with better hands). The flop was 4K5, BB bet 600 with his KQ and both SB with AQ and I folded.

Hand 45 QK UTG 9,590 100/200
Not one to be daunted, I raised this and took the blinds.

Hand 47 JA SB 9,615 125/250/25
The power of aggression takes one. BTN limps in, I raise to 1,000, and he calls. The flop is 55Q and I c-bet 1,000. He goes all-in for just over 1,000 more and despite getting a good price (5.5:1), I fold. He had AJ.

Hand 48 AA BTN 7,590 125/250/25
If only I’d had this the last hand. Raise and win blinds.

Hand 50 AK UTG 8,040 125/250/25
Raise and win.

Hand 61 QT SB 8,615 125/250/25
A couple more raise and fold hands then some action. BTN called with Q8. I raised to 750, BB called with AT and BTN continued. The flop was 8JJ and everyone checked. With a turn 9 I bet 1,000 and everyone folded.

Hand 65 JJ UTG 10,165 125/250/25
Significant movement and a knockout. I raised to 750 and SB called with QK. The flop was 3JT and got checked by both of us. The turn 7 put me top set hand in peril, and I got into a raising war which had him all in and me down to a couple thousand chips if I lost. Fortunately, the river 7 made my full house and I won.

Hand 67 TA SB 18,018 150/300/30
UTG2 limped in and I raised to 900. He came along and the flop was K4J, He bet 600 (with 87!) and I called, which slowed him down. We checked through the turn K and 9 river, and my ace-high took the pot.

Hand 68 AQ BTN 19,968 150/300/30
UTG1 went all-in with just under 3,000 and I raised all-in to isolate. He showed 44, which ended up being the best hand when a four hit the flop and the last one showed up on the river. The best hand I had was the pair of fours on the board.

Hand 69 44 UTG2 17,086 150/300/30
Figured if fours were working that well on the last hand, I’d raise these, but we didn’t even get to the flop.

Hand 74 QT UTG1 17,086 150/300/30
UTG limped in and I raised to 1,000. He called, which put us heads-up to the flop. We both checked it to the Q on the turn and he went all-in for about 2,250. I called and beat his Q7.

Hand 75 6J BB 20,918 150/300/30
We’re four-handed at the table and the first two actions fold, SB limps in and the flop is QK5. Not exactly my color. 9 on the turn gives me a gut-shot draw, and I call a bet of 600, but fold on the 9 river and a bet. SB had K6 for a made pair on flop and flush at the end.

Hand 76 A4 SB 19,988 150/300/30
Still 4-handed. BTN limps in, I raise to 1,000. and we’re HU on the 892 flop. I c-bet 1,000 and he calls again. Turn 7, I’ve got nothing, and I’m drawing to a pair of aces at best. I check/fold to a 2,210 bet, which is good, because with JT he’s got a made straight and a draw to a straight flush.

Hand 89 A6 BB 18,058 200/400/40
It’s down to three of us (seven players still in the tournament and the other table has four). Seat 1 is BTN for this hand, with less than 8BB. Seat 3 has been knocking players out and has 86BB in SB. I’m down in the middle with 45BB. SB min-raises to steal with Q9 and I call with my ace. We check through to the turn and the board reads 3727 when I bet 600 and he calls. 4 on the river and we both check; the ace in the winner.

Hand 94 A3 BTN 18,578 200/400/40
Everyone gets an ace this hand. Seat 1 has been draining away, and folds to me 1,200 opener. Seat 3 calls. The flop is 826, BB checks and I bet 1,300, which he calls. We check the 9 turn and the river is a 4, which he bets for 2,660. I fold to his AJ. This would have been a winning hand for the short stack; he would have had the only pair with A2.

Hand 95 57 BB 16,038 200/400/40
I defend to a SB min-raise again and get a pretty good flop of 434, then call a c-bet of  800 with my gut-shot draw. neither the T turn or 2 river get me there and I fold to a bet of 1,660 on the river. SB had 88 this time.

Hand 102 AA UTG2 15,388 250/500/50
It’s final table time. I’m in Seat 2. Seat 1 has 40BB and sits in second position. Seat 3 has just over 9BB; Seat 4 is at 35BB, a bit more than me; the extreme short stack from my previous table is down to 3BB before the hand in Seat 5; and the big stack from our table has 77BB in seat 6. This is the hand that makes me for the tournament. UTG1 raises to 1,199 and I call. BTN folds (a pair of eights) and it’s HU to the flop of 9T7. UTG1 checked and I shoved, thinking it might look like I was trying to steal a pot because no high cards hit. Sure enough, he called, showing KK for a big old cooler. That put me in second place with 63BB and dropped him into the sub-10BB zone.

Hand 107 TT BTN 30,776 250/500/50
Seat 1 put more than a quarter of his stack in as a raise with K3 and I shoved ion him despite that the big stack was in BB and still to act pre-flop. He folded. I think having the kings cracked must have tilted him, because a couple hands later he defended deuce-four off-suit to a pre-flop raise from the big stack and went all-in for the rest with bottom pair on the flop.

Hand 111 TA SB 32,280 250/500/50
A little tangle with the big stack, in which I manage to get off relatively lightly. I call a raise to 1,500, we get to the turn with the board reading 9342 and I call another 1,000 on my straight draw, which doesn’t come. We go to showdown and he has AK for the win. Starting the next hand, I have 59BB, Seat 3 has under 5BB, Seat 4 has 47BB, and Seat 6 has 83BB.

Hand 115 JQ SB 29,080 250/500/50
The big stack made consecutive full houses against the other two players in the game, chewing out most of Seat 4’s chips and eliminating Seat 3. I raised this hand to 1,500 and Seat 4 shoved his last 11BB in with 99. He was good until a queen hit the river, then there were just two of us.

Hand 116 Q8 BTN 34,690 250/500/50
We start HU with me having almost 70BB and Seat 6 having about 126BB. That didn’t last long. Seat 6 picks up the exact same two cards that Seat 4 had when I eliminated him the previous hand. I open to 1,500, he raises to 4,600, and I call. The flop’s Q55 and he bets 9,300. I’m going nowhere with top pair here, even with the paired board. Heck, I might even shove (which I do). I guess he thinks I’m bluffing, or he just wants to get it over with, and calls another 20,740, which all goes to me.

Hand 121 QT BB 69,380 250/500/50
With 57BB left, Seat 6’s all-in shove pre-flop seemed either really weak or really strong. I opted for vulnerable and anyway, I had the Portland Nuts (or “The Butcher”, if you prefer). And I had him covered. He had K9, a queen hit the flop, and after six hands, HU was over, with me in first.

VPIP: ~29%.

Two hours and twenty minutes. 121 hands. 1st of 65 entries. 1526% ROI.

Omaha, Yo!

Cake Poker Odesa Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Max (20bb)

Just a very lucky first hand that didn’t look like much: KQJ5. I was BTN and put in 1bb as dead big blind. CO limped in, I checked, SB raised to 5bb, CO and I called. Flop was A7K and SB bet out 8bb. CO folded, I called, and the turn gave me an ace-high straight with T but put a flush draw on the board. It also ruled out a low. I had 13bb in already and SB bet enough to put me all-in to call. I gave the straight a shot, a 5 came on the river, and SB showed K6TA for two pair. I took the entire pot and left.

1 hand, 1 minute. +23bb.

Cake Poker Odesa Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Max (20bb)

Turnaround from the previous game. In BB for the first hand with AQT2. You’d think it would look good, double-suited with a setup for the low. Holding QAT2, I called a raise to 2bb along with two others and the flop was 8A8. Not looking good for a low for me. I bet 2bb to see if I could take it but only one of the three other players dropped out. 2 turn game be aces up with a queen kicker and I opened with another 2bb. Both players stayed in. The river was 9, of no help whatsoever. I checked, then folded when BTN bet 8bb. He showed an eight for a winning set, UTG showed aces up with a king kicker.

Got a straight-heavy Q9T7 next hand on SB. I limp in after two others, BB raises to 2bb, and everyone calls. AK7 puts me one card from the nut straight or a flush. I open with 4bb, BB calls, and the other two fold. The turn 3 gives me nothing and I fold to a bet that puts me all-in, which was probably a mistake.

An odd little 4525 for my third hand. I min-raise and SB comes along. I get almost nothing on the flop of Q2J but I go all-in for 6bb when SB bets 5bb. He’s got my pair with better kickers, another pair, and a flush draw: 24J7. I’m praying for a 5x that never comes. Instead, we get AQ, which makes the deuces irrelevant.

3 hands, 3 minutes. -20bb.

Cake Poker Odesa Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Max (20bb)

One hand makes the session. I’m BB on my fourth hand with T2JK. I’m heads-up with a limper. I hit two pair on the AJK flop and bet 2.5bb. HJ raises to 6.3bb and I call. I make a nut flush draw with 6 on the turn to go along with my potential full house or straight. I check, HJ puts me all-in to call and I pull the trigger. The river is J and my full house beats his 7QT8 straight.

5 hands, 4 minutes. +16.9bb.

Cake Poker Odesa Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Max (20bb)

Straight and flushes in 465T. On SB on my third hand of the session. Five players in for the price of the bb. I make top two pair with the 753 flop and open with a 1bb bet. Only the BB drops out. T for the turn gives me a higher pair of pairs and I bet half the pot, 4.5bb. HJ drops out, so only three of us are there for the river card: K. I check, UTG checks, CO bets 15bb, and only I make the all-in call. CO has 3869 and may have miscalculated his hand. He only had a pair of threes but with three cards in his hand he had a ten-high straight. Easy to do in Omaha.

I lost 12bb on the next hand, got nearly 10 back the hand after thatm then lost four more before I left.

5 minutes, 6 hands. +21.3bb.

Cake Poker Odesa Pot-Limit Omaha 6-Max (20bb)

A brief day of PLO wins came to a close with this crazy hand. I was UTG with 9Q45. Not a hand that gets into the books as the one you should play with. I limped in, HJ called, CO raised to 3.5bb, BTN called (and had already been forced with a small dead blind), the blinds and I called. Only HJ folded, and pre-flop there was 19bb in the pot. The flop cards were 63J. I had a sort of open-ended straight draw but not much else, and there was a flush draw on the board. The blinds checked and I bet out 4bb, nonetheless. CO called, but BB went all-in. I had squat so far, but I called for less. CO called, as well. BB had the nut flush, big-time with TA96. He even had three cards to a straight flush. CO was keeping BB from getting a royal flush with KAAK, and he had the best made hand at the moment, but he didn’t really connect with anything on the board. Q on the turn gave me an actual pair but didn’t do much for the hand as a whole. Then 4 for the river made me two pair and won me the main pot of 55.5bb.

6 minutes, 7 hands. +34.5bb.

Omaha, Ho

Cake Poker Darwin 6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha

I decided to change things up a bit, in part because the relatively few NLHE games on Cake are often full. So I tried out the lowest-stake PLO table, buying in for 40bb.

There were five players at the table. I was UTG and paid the bb to play, drawing a decent AJTT. I raised to 2bb and all but one player called. The flop gave me top two pair with J3A. The blinds checked, I potted to 8bb. BTN raised all-in to 8.25bb; BB was all-in for 1.5. BB flipped over 5625 and BTN showed 23K7. Inside straight and a flush draw, I was slightly favored over both. 3 fell on the turn and shifted the balance to BTN with a set, but I made a full house with J on the river and took 24.5bb. That knocked out two of the players at the table.

All the spots had filled back up a little later when I got J99K on BTN. Three players ahead of me called, I called, and only theSB sat the hand out. I made middle set on the 89J flop. Action checked to me and I bet half the pot, 2.75bb. Only one player dropped out. I got a great present with the turn J. Once again action checked to me and I half-potted for 8.25bb. Two players dropped out but CO stayed in. A fell on the river. CO checked, I potted for 33bb, CO called and showed 4QK3 for a flush that was great on the flop. I took in a total pot of 92.5bb and called it a session.

8 minutes, 11 hands. +63.25bb.

Cake Poker Odesa 6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha

Went up a rung of blinds for the next game, buying in for just 20bb. Third hand I was dealt was 8KAQ and two of us limped in with the BB to see the flop. 28K gave me a decent-looking two pair without any flush or straight draws, I bet half the pot—1.8bb—and took it down, which put me slightly ahead after the first couple of hands.

Got 87KQ on SB. UTG raised to 2.3bb, I called along with BB. The rainbow flop here is almost as good for me as the one above—Q3T—although the queen and ten could fit into a straight. Everyone checks and I’m wondering if my pair of queens is good. 7 on the turn gives me two pair again, no chance for a flush on the board, and a couple of straights are possible but not made. I open with a bet of 3.5bb, the BB calls, and UTG drops out. I’m pretty sure the 4 on the river is a brick, but I check, BB checks, and he shows A988. He’s been behind since the flop. I take 13bb and I’m up over 35%.

Next hand is double-paired: K88K. I raise to 2.5bb from BTN and the blinds fold.

High-paired and connect-suited: K8K9. I raise to 2bb in CO. Blinds fold.

Three-flushed with a spread of six: 8J69. I limp from UTG, a new player in HJ checks his buy-in, BTN limps, SB raises to 2bb. BB folds, everyone else calls. The flop is flush- and stright-heavy with 978. Two pair for me with straight draws on either end. Everyone checks. The turn is 2, which gets checked around as well. J on the river makes the flush on the board. I toss a bb bet out and everyone folds. Bizarre. My profit is 6.4bb and I’m up almost 17bb for the session. I should leave but I guess I decided to try to double my investment.

Double-suited with a high connector (QK49) on the big blind. One limper and the flop is 4JQ, giving me top and bottom pair asa well as a flush draw. We both check and I make my flush on the turn with 2. I bet a bb and HJ folds.

On BTN holding a seemingly big hand with a big pair and a large suited connector. Five of us limp in to a 5TK flop. I’ve got top set right off the bat. Everyone checks around to me and I should bet this but don’t. 9 improves me to a straight. HJ bets 3.5bb and I raise to 15.5bb. Everyone between us gets out of the way. He re-raises to 2.75 and I call, leaving about 9bb behind. Q on the river doesn’t improve my hand but it doesn’t make it any worse. HJ bets to put me all-in and I call, he shows QAJ9 for the ace-high straight. We were chopping it until that last queen.

10 minutes, 11 hands. -20bb.

Cake Poker Darwin 6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha

Back down to the small stakes for a couple of games. Bought in for 40bb. Hand six here was small-paired and small gap-suited: 757A. I was UTG and limped, HJ limped, BTN min-raised, both the blinds, myself, and HJ called the raise. Got my two-pair-on-the-flop with QA5. SB bet 2bb, BB called, I raised to almost the full pot: 10bb. BTN called and both the blinds folded, making it heads-up. 2 on the river didn’t change anything for me, I went all-in for 25.25bb and got a call from BTN, who had a couple of routes to a straight draw with TKTJ. Heck, even another Tx would give him a better hand, but I was ahead 4:1. 3 on the river made me glad he hadn’t had spades. I took my 79bb pot and went home.

7 minutes, 7 hands. +39bb.

Cake Poker Darwin 6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha

A pattern starts to become visible in these sessions of minimal movement with a bit swing up or down. Down in this case. Bought in for 40bb. Nineteenth hand, I was down just 2.5bb from where I’d started. and got four to a wheel with a suited ace. I limped in from CO and four of us saw the flop. Nut flush draw  and a six-high inside straight draw with 66Q but there was a potential full house—or four-of-a-kind—on the board. BB bet 4bb, I raised to 8bb, two others got out and BB re-raised to 28bb. I called, with 8.5bb behind. Hit my flush (and pointless straight) on the turn with 3. BB bet 1bb, I went all-in (what else?) and he called to show a full house with A693.

14 minutes, 19 hands. -40bb.

Cake Poker Perth 6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo

I’ve gotten the impression that I sort of liked H/L games playing D’s bi-weekly cash game but something about playing it online just left me feeling stupid. Maybe it was because I had KAAK on my second hand here (with a 40bb buy-in) and I busted out. I was BB, BTN raised to 3.5bb, SB called, I re-raised to 14bb and got a call from BTN. Flop gave me the nut flush draw with Q37. I checked instead of raising and BTN followed along. 8 on the turn looked inoffensive. I checked, BTN bet enough to put me all-in and I called. He showed JJ88 and the 6 hit on the river. Nothing really to do with the H/L game structure, really, I just decided to concentrate on pure PLO.

1 minute, 2 hands. -40bb.

Cake Poker Darwin 6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha

Only won a couple of hands in this session, not enough to right my boat but had to get out before I got even or lost everything. Only significant hand came when I was down almost 25bb from my 40bb buy-in. Got 8437 in UTG, a hand rife with unexpected straight and flush possibilities. I limped, BTN limped, SB min-raised, and three of us called. Hit two pair on the A34 flop and called the SB’s 1bb bet along with BTN. Q came on the turn and I called another 1bb bet from the SB, though I suspect I should have been scared. BTN opted out. 2 for the river either gave him a flush or it didn’t and I called another 1bb bet. He showed a great hand: TTJA. The problem was that it wasn’t a great board for that hand and my crappy low two pair was better. I got out a couple of hands later.

14 minutes, 12 hands. -16bb.

Cake Poker Darwin 6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha

Bought in for 40bb, First hand was low-paired and half-suited: K422. I was in for the bb as CO with five players. UTG called, I checked, BTN raised to 4bb, everyone called but SB. 75K on the flop gave me top pair and a low flush draw. Everyone checked. Turn T did nothing for me, but it meant there were no straights on the board yet. BB and UTG checked but I bet 5bb. Everyone called and the pot was up to 36.5bb. Made my nearly-straight-flush with 6 on the river. BB checked, UTG bet 1BB, I just called in case there was a higher flush, BTN and BB called. UTG  had a seven-high straight, BB had a set of sixes, BTN just had a pair of kings (albeit with a better kicker than I had). Won 28bb.

988Q for hand two. I limped from UTG and was heads-up with BB. Hit a set on the flop with 938. BB bet a bb and I potted to 3.25bb. He re-raised to 12.25bb and I called. 4 turn didn’t mess things up for me. When BB went all-in for 9.5bb I called and saw his set of threes. With 3753 he had a potential nine-high straight, but I had him about 7:1. 5 maintained the status quo and I grabbed 20.25bb of profit.

I played a couple more hands and won both of them, too (though for lesser amounts) then got out and banked it.

4 minutes, 4 hands. +58.25bb.

Cake Poker Odesa 6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha

After the success of that outing, I stepped it back up to the higher-stakes tables. Kept the buy-in at the 20bb minimum and drifted along for a couple of hands as long as the flop in each case. I was down about 4bb by hand 5 when I got a three-suited four-straight: 9TJQ in HJ. I limped, CO raised to 4bb, BB three-bet to 13bb, I called, CO called. My stack only had 3bb left. My flush hit on the flop with 35A. I could be beat with a suited K or 23 in someone’s hand but it didn’t seem likely. BB checked, I tossed in my last 3bb, and BB felt he had to call to keep me honest, I guess. Then again, with a stack of 115bb, I guess he could afford to. He showed 66TT and needed two runners to win, which he didn’t get. I took in a profit of 26bb and left.

7 minutes, 5 hands. +22bb.

Cake Poker Darwin Pot-Limit Omaha

Winning was fun! It put a whole new perspective on poker. Because some of the other tables were full, I sat down at the full-sized low-rent tables for a bit. Did my usual of lying in wait through the blinds to the flop with hands I liked. I was down to 29bb from my original 40bb buy-in when I got KKT3. I called from UTG and was heads-up against the BB. The flop was 79T, BB checked and I bet 1.25bb, half the pot. BB called. J on the turn and I had a gut-shot straight draw. We both checked. J on the river and it was checked to me again. I bet 5bb, got re-raised to 20bb, then called to see BB had 9KJ3 for a full house.

Had two pair get knocked out by a five-high straight made on the flop the next hand.

14 minutes, 11 hands. -40bb.

Cake Poker Odesa 6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha

Started off well with 8A35 in BB. UTG raised to 2.7bb, I was the only caller. The flop gave me top and bottom pair: 843. I bet 1bb and got a call. The 7 turn put the nut flush in my reach; I checked and got a check from UTG. A on the turn improved by two pair and I bet another 1bb. UTG called, showed ATTQ for only the aces. I earned 4.6bb.

Three hands later, 37KA as CO. Two limpers ahead of me, I called, and both blinds were in. Once again, I caught two pair on the flop of 237. Action checked to me and I bet half the pot: 2.5bb. Only HJ called. T for the turn, HJ checked, and I checked, seeing as I did have only middle two pair. The river card was J. We both checked, and HJ showed QJQ9. I profited about 6bb.

Fourteen hands in, it was 77Q3 on BTN. I called after action folded to me, SB raised to 3bb, the BB folded, and I called to go heads-up. Hit a set with the flop of 8QQ. SB checked and I raised to 3.5bb, was re-raised to 7bb, and went all-in for about 26bb. SB folded and I took in 10bb profit.

12 minutes, 14 hands. +18.3bb.

Cake Poker Odesa 6-Max Pot-Limit Omaha

Another excursion on the same table a couple of hours later. Nothing really happened for twenty hands, then I picked up a not-especially-choice 7QT4 as HJ. Still, it was double-suited, and I limped in. CO and SB limped but BB raised to 5bb. I was the only caller. The 4QQ flop made me a full house and I was more than happy when BB led out with a 6bb bet. I went all-in with 18.6bb, fully expecting BB to call from his 60bb stack, and he complied, showing an already-dead K79J. The 5 and 3 that hit the board were irrelevant, and my stack was up to 46bb, so I left.

21 minutes, 21 hands. +26bb.

A Piece of Cake

Cake Poker Rome Turbo 6-Max

Had 55 and the bottom end of four to a straight but got caught by sixes that made a set.

11 minutes, 20 hands. -30BB.

Cake Poker $2,000 Guaranteed Rebuy & Addon (1,500 chips)

This went bad quickly on the third hand when I got greedy with 68. There were four player in for 167 each pre-flop. The flop was 396 and I bet half the pot (349) after UTG checked. HJ called, but CO raised all-in to 1,183. That forced out UTG but I called and so did HJ. Amazingly enough, I had the best had of the lot; HJ held TK and CO had AQ. My sixes and flush draw were in the lead 7:3 over the other players. 4 for the turn gave me an even better lead. But the Q on the river yanked it away and dropped me down to 130 chips. That was gone in another couple hands.

I bought back in but it was only marginally better.

23 minutes, 22 hands. 2 buy-ins.

Second Hand Smoked

Cake Poker $1,000 Guaranteed Turbo 6-Max (3,000 chips)

Bought into this game 20 minutes in, with blinds already at 50/100. Got K2 on my first dealt hand and called but folded to a 450 raise from my immediate left. Next hand was KK in HJ. UTG folded, I raised to 300. Everyone folded around to BB who was all-in for 2,900. I went all-in to call and he showed 8A. The cards ran out JTJ3A and the river cracks my kings.

Good Thing There’s Bounties

Full Tilt $20,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Just five minutes in and I make top pair from the SB holding JQ on a safe-looking J32 flop after four of us have limped in. I bet out 100 as first to act, getting two callers. 6 for a turn and I bet out 300 more, again two calls. 2 is the river and I check, BB checks, UTG2 puts both of the blinds all-in to call, and I do. He’s been holding a set with 33 in the pocket from the flop.

Out 622 of 714.

Full Tilt $9,000 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

A big one that got away from me. I had quite a setback on my 12th hand, holding QT on the button at 25/50. There was a raise and a call to 175 ahead of me and I probably should have ejected, but I saw the flop of A3Q and decided to play it. UTG1 bet 250, UTG2 wisely got out, I called, and 4 appeared on the turn. Another 250 from UTG1 and myself, 5 at the river and I called his last 250 bet before he turned over 6A. That knocked me down to 735.

I’d dropped to just 435 ten hands later after some other action and JT came into my hand. UTG called the blind of 60, UTG1 raised to 120, UTG2 called, I (UTG3) decided to make a move and made my tiny shove. That got called by UTG, UTG1, and UTG2. My role in the hand was over as I watched the flop roll out 388. UTG1 went all-in and drove the other two players out, then showed AQ, so any chance of a flush I had was shot; I needed a pair. J showed up on the turn and an inoffensive 5 was the river. I bounced back to 1,830.

AT on the next hand. We’d lost a the guy who’d played the previous hand with me to re-shuffling and I was UTG1. I open-min-raised to 160, getting four callers. The flop was 379, probably making someone happy but the blinds just checked and I bet 200 to open. Only the big blind dropped out. K on the turn was interesting and I opened with another 200, inducing everyone to fold and making me an easy 1,245 profit, which put me just over 3,000.

Nothing much happened for twenty minutes. I’d drifted down to 2,250 chips when 77 came into my hand. It’s not my favorite pair of cards but I was at less than 19BB and the Andy Bloch “Tournament Checklist” is all about going all-in with the small pairs when you’re getting short-stacked. Did I listen? No, I raised to 300 and there were three callers. The flop was 322. Checks from the blinds and this was where I shipped it, for 1,950. SB called, BB raised all-in to 2,750, then SB called that. SB had A4 for a one-ended wheel draw, BB had us seriously in trouble with 52 and a set. 8 shoed for the turn, giving me a chance for a backdoor flush, and the river A completed it. I took in 7K (but significantly did not learn me lesson about shipping with small pairs, something that comes back to bite me later).

The last significant hand was my final one, forty minutes later. I still had only 6,675. Blinds were 120/240/25 and I was BB. Picked up AQ. UTG3 goes all-in for 8,374 and I call. He’s got KQ, so I’m good unless he catches diamonds or a Kx. The flop is 93J and anything else is irrelevant. Could have gone the other way but it didn’t.

98 minutes, 87 hands. 1 bounty collected. ROU: -85%. Finished 829 of 3,687 players.

Full Tilt $20,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Another one-minute wonder. Called the 120 min-raise of UTG3 from BB on the second hand, flop was 972; I bet 120, he raised to 660; I three-bet to 1,200; he called. J on the turn; I’ve got 180 chips, an inside straight draw, and an ace. Might as well. He calls with the AJ. 9 for the river. I’m sort on my flush and short on my straight and out of the game.

One minute. Two hands. 1,013th of 1,196 players.

Full Tilt $36,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

Six minutes in with most of my starting stack I get 77 again, this time in late position on the button. Two players limp in. I raise to 300, ten times the big blind. BB and UTG2 call. The flop shows up with 6QT and everyone checks. Another 6 on the turn. UTG2 opens with 340 and I call. BB has the sense to bail. Another over card on the river. K and UTG2 bets 810 to put me all-in if I call. I bail.

That whittled me down considerably. I’m at 660 13 minutes into the game when I get QQ. UTG raises the big bet three times to 120. I re-raise to 280 but should probably be all-in here. SB calls, BB is all-in for 1,245. UTG calls, SB raises all-in to 1,560. UTG calls. Three all=ins. Here’s the cards. SB 88, BB AK, UTG: JA. I was a 43% winner so far. The flop’s fine: 569. It put a lot of diamonds on the board for BB, as well as a straight possibility for SB. The 4 for the turn didn’t change anything, my win percentage was up to 57%. The 7 on the river completed the straight, though. Maybe an all-in pre-flop would have induced the eights to fold.

14 minutes, 37 hands. 683rd of 1,324.

Cake Poker Series 2011 Super Satellite (1,500 chips)

Nothing to say about this. I was stuck just below the starting stack size twenty-odd minutes in, got priced in with TA and shoved, with J9 and KQ calling—altogether we made a long straight—and the hearts won out.

24 minutes, 17 hands. 8th of 16.

Full Tilt 90-Player KO Sit & Go (3,000 chips)

No movement for twenty-five minutes here, I was in CO at 3,270 with the blinds up to 60/120 when everyone ahead of me folded. I held 98 and min-raised to 240. Button and BB called. The flop just gave me bottom pair: JA9. BB checked and I bet 180. B called, and BB was gone. The turn was 2, giving me an ugly flush draw. I checked and B bet 600. Calling left me 2,250 behind. A tantalizing A hit the river. I bet 1,000, concerned about pocket jacks making a full house. B must have thought he had it but he was far behind with JQ. That picked me up 2,300.

QQ made me the next jump a dozen minutes later. UTG3 raised to 540 at the 120/240/25 level. I was on the button and re-raised to 2,500, about half my stack. The blinds folded and UTG3 four-bet all-in to 3,540. I called with 1,740 behind and he showed JJ. The flop went my way with 6KQ, and he was out. I was at 9,450. First bounty.

I caught one of the mid-sized stacks trying to pull something three hands later. I limped for 240 in after UTG called, CO called and SB as in. The flop was 63T and everyone checked. J hit on the turn. SB bet 480, BB and UTG folded, I called and CO was out. The river was 4 and SB checked. Worried about a flush, I checked too, but SB had 8J, so I had the best of it and was just short of 11,000.

Just eight hands later I was UTG2 at 200/400/50. I open-raised to 800 with QT and the only caller was SB. Got a pair in the T6J flop. SB bet 1,200 and I called. A turn 9 gave me second pair and a straight draw. SB bet another 1,600 and I called again. I made trips on the river with T and when SB checked I shoved all-in. Amazingly enough, he called with 44. That put me over 18K and made a second bounty.

The end was fast and violent just five hands later. I was UTG with 17,790, holding 77. Blinds were at 250/500/50 and I opened with a raise to 1,250. A slightly smaller stack in UTG1 was the only caller, so that was good. The flop was a promising 528 and I bet another 1,250 but I probably should have gone bigger. UTG1 called. The A on the turn pretty much shut things down as far as I was concerned. Flush draw and an ace on board? I checked and then folded after UTG1 bet 6,150. That took me down 2,550.

Next hand, I was in the big blind with just 24. There was a raise and call to 1,000 and I decided to see if my low cards would hit anything, with pot odds of 6.3:1. The flop was T6T, when the initial raiser bet 3,650 I got out of there pronto.

Still, I had 14,190 in the small blind. Suited connectors: 98. That looked good. The only player into the pot ahead of me was UTG1, who’d min-raised to 1,000. I called. The flop gave me a dangerous pair: 8AA. I bet 750 and got called by UTG1. The A showed on the turn and I had a full house. Did he have the other ace? I bet 1,000 and he smooth-called. 3 on the turn didn’t change anything. He needed the fourth ace or a pocket pair better than eight to beat me. He bet 7,500, I called, and of course he had AJ. I was down under 4,000.

The last hand for me was at 300/600/75.  I had KQ in UTG1 and went all-in for 4,815. What’s Andy Bloch say? Fewer than 10 big blinds? Check. Open-raise with KxQx? Check. UTG2 called, everyone else dropped out and I was up agains the Mutant Jack: AJ. The board was tantalizing with 2T898 but I didn’t make the straight or the flush and I was someone else’s bounty.

66 minutes, 77 hands. 2 bounties, no prize, ROI of -70%.

Cake Poker Internazionale 6-Max (20BB)

66 on the third hand in CO. Open-raised to 3BB, called by SB. Flop was 8Q8 and we both checked to the turn 7. SB bet 4BB and I called. 7 river card counterfeited my pair and I was playing the board. Another 4BB bet from the SB and I folded.

88 a little later in HJ and UTG raised to 3BB. I re-raised to 7BB and everyone folded. I was still stuck 6BB.

Down to 7.5BB fifteen minutes in and picked up A6 in the CO. UTG raised to 2BB, I called and B did as well. Flopped well with A86, HJ and I checked, B put out a bet of 7BB. That was the end of it for HJ but I called all-in for less than the bet. He flipped 98 and the race was on. No diamonds on the turn or river—Q5—and my two pair held up. Just down by 2BB now.

I was on the BB with 78. Min-raise from HJ and a call from CO. I went along and got bottom pair in the Q7J flop. I opened with a bet of 2BB, HJ raised to 5BB and I called for some reason. A on the turn and it didn’t take the 3BB bet from HJ to get me out of there. Back down to 12BB.

In HJ with K4. Min-raised with a call from CO and re-raise to 6BB from B. I’m the only caller. The flop is 56T. I check and B shoves his entire stack of 185BB into the ring. I call for some reason and he shows QQ. T makes the turn and my hopes for a backdoor flush are gone. The river J ends this session.

Full Tilt $9,000 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

Started off with a bang eight minutes into the game with KJ on the button. UTG1 limped in and HJ min-raised to 80. I re-raised to 140, getting calls from SB, UTG1, and HJ. The flop was 55A, SB checked, UTG1 bet 400. There was a fold from HJ and I re-raised to 800. SB folded, UTG1 re-raised to 1,675, and I made a dangerous call that left me with 80 chips. He had a set with 57. The 4 on the turn looked grim, then a safe 8 made the river and I doubled up plus I got a bounty.

A similar hand on the button ten minutes later got me into trouble. Three limps were ahead of me with KT. I raised to 250, which got a call from SB and a re-raise to 450 from BB. UTG3 called, I called, SB called. The flop was AQ7. SB checked and BB bet 1,410 all-in. UTG3 fled the scene, I called, and SB folded. BB was way ahead and had me dominated with with AT but a Jx could put me on top. Didn’t happen, though, and I lost 1,860 chips.

The blinds were 30/60 a little later, I was still around 2,500 chips and got 97 in UTG2. UTG raised to 120, I called, and BB was in. The flop of JTQ gave me flush and open-ended straight draws. BB checked, UTG went all-in for 1,205, I called rather than go over the top, because BB had me by 1K. BB folded anyway and I was heads-up against two pair: TQ. K for the turn gave me my straight but opened up the flush for him. The river was 6 and I took another bounty, as well as 1,475 chips, which put me up to 3,995.

Speculating on some unsuited ace hands cost me over the next quarter-hour, so I was down to 3,115 when I got KK as UTG. I min-raised to 160, getting four callers. The flop was 965. SB opened with a 240 bet that got BB to fold. I raised to 1,500, enough to put SB almost all-in but not necessarily scary for the others. They both folded, though, then SB pushed for 1,680. I paid the extra 180 and he showed a gutshot straight and an ace: A7. He got his ace on the turn with A but that gave me four to a flush, which came in the shape of a 9. Up to 5,435 and another bounty.

On the 60/120 big blind with A9. B raises all-in to 683. SB calls. I call. The flop gives me top two pair: A92. Right now I’m beating AxKx. SB checks and I go all-in for 5,142. SB folds, B has QA, and the rest of the hand is irrelevant. I have almost 7,200 chips and another bounty.

Took a big hit on the big blind again at 100/200. Q9 in my hand; not one of my favorites. Action folded to the button, who raised to 700. I called and we were heads-up. The flop looked pretty good—7J7—and I opened with 750. B went all-in for 2,670 and I called. An 8 showed on the turn but the queen-high straight was going to be harder and pointless with TT in B’s hand. The last card missed me: 5 and I was down to about 4K again.

I made a couple of attempts over the next ten minutes but nothing panned out. Finally, I got 44 in UTG3. Action folded to me, I followed Bloch’s instruction on what to do when you’re under 15 blinds and open-raised all-in with the low pair. Everyone but the BB folded. He showed TT. The board ran out 82343 and I came an Ax or a 6x away from a straight, but I was bounty-bait. The other part of the goal on Bloch’s “Tournament Checklist” is to win with that move.

105 minutes, 100 hands. 3,831 players and I made 939th. Four bounties and ROI -39%.

Full Tilt $20,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Just nine hands and nothing of note here. I was down about 300 from a KQ play. My last hand was 88. I raised all-in after a single limp at 30/60 for 1,230. The button isolated me by going all-in for more than 4K., showing KK. By the turn I had a little bit of hope with 6JT9 showing but a queen would give a straight to the kings. Instead, he got trips with a river K.

Four minutes. 1,385 players, finished in 617th.

Full Tilt 90-Player Sit & Go (3,000 chips)

Surprised I lasted as long as I did in this game. I was steadily downhill and under the starting stack for forty minutes until a Mutant Jack rescued me. Got AJ in the big blind at 60/120 holding 1,845 chips. UTG called and everyone else folded. I raised to 725. He three-bet to 1,330 and I shoved for 1,845, getting a call. Naturally, he was pleased, he had AA and I looked like a goner. The 455 flop gave me some life, though. I hung in suspended animation through the 8 turn, then T came on the river and I doubled up, leaving UTG with a little more than 3BB.

Got my own comeuppance in short order four hands later when I had KK as HJ. Blinds were up to 80/160 and UTG min-raised. I re-raised to 995. UTG and I were heads-up after some folds, and he went all-in for 3,010. I called with 985 behind and he showed TT. The first card out was T, with 37 making another nice flush draw for me, but it was JJ on the last two streets and I wasn’t the one with a full house.

I managed to build back up to about 1,800 but the blinds were getting big and I was down to 1,240 at 200/400/50 when I tried to make 8K work for me. UTG raised all-in to 800, UTG1 and SB called, and I re-raised all-in. UTG1 called with more than 11.5K left, SB called holding another 27.5K. The board was Q6797 with the big stacks checking it down to the river. Nobody had much of anything 9A for BB, AT for UTG, but SB had a TQ and the queen pair was good enough to take it.

63 minutes, 57 hands, one bounty. 32nd place of 90 players. ROI -85%.

The Nines

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

I ended up entering this tournament twice. There were a total of 435 entries from 295 players. Looking at the payouts, it’s sort of sobering to see how the multi-entry format makes it possible to make it into the money but still be behind at the end. One ninth of the forty-five players who got payouts were anywhere from a couple cents to an entire buyin underwater.

My first entry came to a screeching halt fairly early with KA. I’d fallen to just over 1,000 chips and got some good cards in UTG+3, raising to 125, but got a call from the small blind. The flop was uncoöperative with 3T7 and I tried to push it with a 300 bet but got an all-in from the SB, who still had an inferior hand with their 89 but was in good shape with a larger stack. I called (obviously, or I wouldn’t know their cards) and a 6 made their straight on the turn.

I had a little better luck with the second entry (I don’t make them simultaneously) but it was AK that did me in after a bit longer session. I was in the small blind, UTG+3 limped in, I raised to 600 and it was down to me and the UTG+3 when he called. 4TT on the flop. I made the desperate move of going all-in and he called me—with more than 20K and 8T in his hand, who wouldn’t? I was out—twice!—first in 142nd place and then in 86th. 28 minutes total.

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

15 minutes. 140th place out of 264 entries.

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

7 minutes. 152nd place out of 223 entries. Not an improvement.

Full Tilt miniFTOPS Event #44 6-Max KO $350,000 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

Play started off slow for me in this game: at least, it felt slow compared to the Rush games. But I really do like the 6-Max format, and the fact that this had knockout bounties and a large purse made it very attractive to me, despite the rather ugly history of my previous miniFTOPS outing.

I’d only lost a hundred or so chips to blinds when I picked up my first win ten minutes into the game with KJ. There was 140 in the pot and a flop of K3K which three players checked around. Another 3 on the turn and I popped out 40 for a bet, getting one call from a player who’d already lost a couple thousand chips. The 9 meant nothing to my full house, so I matched the pot and got a callI don’t know why—from the other player, holding A7.

The same guy got into it with me on the next hand. I had A2 and I was heads-up after raising to 90 pre-flop. The flop was J77, and I bet 75 after a check from the other player. 3 on the turn and we both checked. I got a pair with the river A. He bet 105 and I just called. He could have had another 7x or an Ax with a higher kicker—it wouldn’t have been hard—but no, just T2. It baffled me but I took the chips. He was moved to another table shortly thereafter.

Twenty minutes into the match we were playing five-handed and, I got Q8 in the UTG+1/hijack seat. Sort of an iffy hand—not high enough to make a killer pair, tent ends of a straight—but it’s in The Grid for six-handed play. Blinds were 15/30, UTG folded, and I raised to 75. Small blind called and the flop made the hand iffy no longer: [1h]26. I bet 120 after SB checked, then he called. 8 on the turn and he led out with 180, which I re-raised to 360, getting a call. 4 on the river. He checked and I made a 300 chip bet hoping that seemed weak enough to lure him in. He called and showed 77. I was up over 6,400.

My first bounty came with a player who’d lost all but 600 of his chips half-an-hour in, most in a 3-way battle with him having AxTx double-paired against a guy who was playing a suited queen and drew to a flush (not me). I was in the small blind with 99. UTG and the small stack on the button limped in. I raised to 120, which was met by both the limpers. 386 was the flop and I figured I’d keep the gas on, fairly certain that the small stack was going all-in. UTG dropped out; the button raised all-in for 490. I called and he flipped over 77, which wasn’t good news for him. J and Q on the turn and river. Pushed me up to just about 7K.

More pocket pairs: JJ on the big blind. Button—big stack at the table—raised to 150 and I re-raised to 325. The flop was T67. I bet out 400 and got a call. 8 on the turn improved my hand to a straight draw, which I checked just for fun, provoking an 800 bet. Who wouldn’t call that? The river 3 didn’t make any difference, but I was a little concerned he might have a 9x. I checked and he did, too, but his A6 wasn’t going anywhere and I was the big stack at the table for the next hand, with over 7,600 chips.

The Mutant Jack showed up to propel me over 10K about 45 minutes in. I was in the cutoff position with JA at 30/60. Two players to my left had more chips than I did (both had been brought in from other tables). UTG raised to 180, hijack called, I called, small blind called. 780 in the pot when the 4QA flop showed. UTG bet 780, so I was guessing he had an Ax. I called (Did he have a Kx? Was he already double-paired?). T for the turn. He bet again: 420. I figured: “What the heck, it’s the Mutant Jack.” 7 river. A whole lot of potential double-paired kicker combos out there; he might not need to have anything better than the J. He bet another 600, I gulped and paid the price, but all he had was A2. I only had 10,017, so I didn’t stay above the line for more than a hand.

AT was my last hand before the first break, and I picked up about 500 chips with it, which got me back over the line by 50. I popped off a note to Tomer, who had just arrived in Austria for EPT Snowfest. At the break, the chip average was 6,900, there were 10,900 players (registration was still open), and I was in 1,188th place. Tomer wrote back that he was watching my table while he ate dinner. Yikes!

A quarter-hour after the break, I’d only won one hand—and that was just the blinds. I was down to about 9K when I picked up 7Q on the button. Everything I said about 8Q above goes double for this pair of cards, and it won’t even make the straight. But it is on The Grid for six players, so long as you don’t put too much faith in it. The blinds were 50/100 and hijack raised to 214. I called and the big blind came along. Both stacks were a good bit smaller than me. The flop was a semi-promising TJ4. BB checked, HJ bet 345, I called and BB folded. A K showed on the turn and HJ bet another 645. I had a straight and flush draw but nothing else. I called. 7 on the river, a bet of 1,245 from HJ. I folded and consoled myself with having an 80% win rate at showdown, but I was down to 7,900 chips.

I continued a steady, slow bleed of chips after that, at one point folding five hands in a row after putting out blinds or bets. I was down to 6,000 before I managed to turn things around with JJ that turned into trips on the flop. My real breakthrough came halfway through the second hour when I made the first of two big mistakes.

I was on the button with about 7,200 chips. Both the blinds (which were 80/160) had about 3,500. UTG and cutoff were both over 10K, and hijack had a few hundred more than I did. Both the big stacks stayed out of this hand, but HJ bet 324. With 99 in my hand, I raised to 560. Short-stacked big blind went all-in for 3,561. HJ folded but I thought BB was pushing with a strong ace. Calling would cost me half my stack if I lost but I did it, feeling very stupid when he flipped over QQ. The 653 flop was bleak, but the turn and river were 99 for some major suckage. Another bounty and I was up to 11K. I managed to get over 12K, but within 20 minutes I was back below the 8K mark.

Someone else’s nines didn’t fare so well against me just before second break. Blinds were 120/240/25 and I was on the button again, only with AA. UTG—with only about 2,500 chips—raised to 555. I re-raised to 1,080, the blinds got out of the way, and UTG called. The flop was K52, he checked, and I bet 480, fairly sure he was committed to going all-in. He did and I called. 99, but no miracle for him on the turn and river, just 24. That netted me 3K and put me back near 12K. I was falling further behind the leaders, though, with all of this up-and-down motion.

My last bounty came through no action of my own, shortly after the second break. I was big blind with A7, so I was playing, no matter what. Action folded all the way around to the small blind, who had only about 2,200. He went all-in and I called, with more than 9K behind. He flipped K3, the board ran out Q99A8, and I scooped his chips.

Another series of decent cards that didn’t connect followed that, and I’d slipped down to 9,200 twenty minutes after the second break. Blinds were 170/340/25, and I was on the big blind holding 43, which I would normally just toss. Hijack min-raised to 680, everyone else folded, and I thought I’d get fancy and play my low cards to see if they’d connect. We were almost evenly matched, with me having about 400 more chips. The flop was 223! I had a pair! I bet 1,680 (the pot) and got a re-raise for 8,090. I could have stopped there and saved my 6,800 chips but I called and he rolled over 44. If only my hand had been 2x3x. KJ on the turn and river. On my next and last hand I was one card away from a flush and a straight that would have ended in a split pot but my J8 was beat by a 5J that paired the first card on the flop.

140 minutes, 4 bounties, -38% ROI. Finished 6,311 out of 17,102 players.

It’s a busy week in the non-poker sphere but I’m watching Tomer’s progress at Snowfest today; tonight I’ll be trying to get my quest for the puffmammy POY back on track, and this weekend is one of our double-point quarterly events.

Queen of Spades Kills the Action

D’s Game

Played at the dealer’s choice cash game again, but without the saving coup at the end. My worst beat of the night came on a 7-card stud variation I can’t remember the name of that had wild queens. I got two queens down and a king up, I’d been pushing the pot incrementally, and got another queen up on the last card. Then the queen of spades came as an up card, which killed the hand and broke my quad kings.

Full Tilt $15,000 KO Guarantee 6-Max (3,000 chips)

This game started off with a great overlay of only about 175 players but it was clearly going to meet its guarantee by the time I was eliminated. I’d won nothing larger than 100 chips, waiting for my spot for almost half an hour and dropping about 400 chips when I got 5A in my hand on the button at the 20/40 level. There was a limp and a min-raise, which I called. The blinds dropped out and the limper called.

The flop gave me a straight: 432. The raiser bet 120, I re-raised to 300, and the limper folded. There was a three-bet to 720 and I raised all-in to 2,550. He called and showed his flush draw: AT. The turn J was safe but 9 on the river put me out and gave him my bounty.

Full Tilt Step 1 Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

Kind of rocky for the first twenty minutes: meaning I was flirting with the 1,500-chip starting position most of the time. A couple good hands bumped me up to 2K for a few minutes but then a nut flush draw bottomed out and I lost 500.

Then I caught a batch of good hands, starting with TT and a double-up. We were already down to six players and two of us went to the flop after a raise to 300 (at 50/100). The flop was an unpromising QK3, but I called the bet of 700 with most of my stack to be rewarded with T on the turn. I checked again and was put all-in to call. He turned over KA, the river was a 5 and I was up to 2,820. I picked up the blinds on the next two hands with raises holding aces, got a straight on the river with 9T, and extracted a little bit more with 4A.

Ten minutes more and KK made me another 1,800 chips, even without the help of K on the river. That put me up at 5,400 and I managed not to blow it, going out in second place—which was enough to win a Step 2 ticket.

Full Tilt Step 2 Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

I built up to a nearly 2:1 lead over the other stacks by the 40-minute mark with four players eliminated, and over 45% of the chips in play in my stack. We were competing for two Step 3 tickets. Did I get one? No. I risked nearly 2K on a JQ and got knocked down to a minimal lead, then slowly slipped into third place, which is where I went out, earning another Step 2 ticket.

Full Tilt Step 2 Sit & Go 18-Players (1,500 chips)

Made it to almost 6K in chips before the tables consolidated but won just a single hand after that point, going out in sixth place, and getting yet another chance for Step 2.

Aces Players Club $1K Guarantee (5,000 chips)

Took a couple of early hits that nearly chopped my stack in half by the 40-minute mark, but shortly before the first break I caught a double-up with a flush through Señor Frog, a player two seats to my right who had a sparkly amphibian statuette for a card protector who was sucking down chips like they were flies. Didn’t quite make it to the second break, though, when I had QxQx. The flop was 7x9xTx, there was a (shorter-than-me) stack all-in, an all-in by the Frog, and even though I was virtually certain that the Frog had pocket 9x9x, I went all-in to call. Hey! I was right! The initial all-in had AxKx and the Frog ate our chips.

Aces Players Club (5,000 chips)

I hate to even admit this but this blog does not lie. The late-night table was exceedingly wild, with two all-ins and rebuys within the first six hands. I’m playing cautiously, I think. I’ve still got most of my stack left twenty minutes in when I get to the flop with KT in my hand and two hearts on the flop. The lady across the table goes all-in. I call—which means I’m all-in—and another player follows. The lady flips JJx. The other caller flips KT. I look back down at my cards and what I see is KT. Not good. The jacks win. I decide my eyes need some rest but instead I play some poker.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Everything’s peachy until the last hand. Bleed some chips looking for a good hand, win a chunk of chips, repeat. It doesn’t work when my A9 runs into 88, though. Four players go to the flop: me, in the big blind, and three limpers. I make top pair on the 289 board, make a pot-sized raise that gets one call, and a player on the button raises to 450, which I call. Then the player who’d called my bet goes all-in for more than either of the other two of us in the hand. Mr. raise-to-450 gets out of the way and I stupidcall. Trips end my tournament.

Full Tilt $18,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

I’m above the starting stack for less than 20% of this tournament. My last hand is AA. The flop is AJ7. 98 calls my 628 all-in pre-flop, just from a starting stack. The turn of 6 and river T make his straight and my trip aces are no good.

Full Tilt On Demand (1,500 chips)

More textbook tournament stack building ruined by stupidcalling. Forty minutes in, I’d quadrupled my stack. I got J8, min-raised at the 40/80 level, got a call from the small blind, a raise from the big blind, and calls all around. The flop is J8T. Top pair and an open-ended straight draw. I raise 500, small blind folds and big blind calls. The river’s just 2 but Q shows on the river. I have a chance to bail when a 1,400 chip bet is raised but I go all-in with my Q-high straight. It’s called immediately by KA. Wouldn’t you?

February Wrapped Up

Full Tilt $12,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

The buy-in for this tournament was low, and I’m trying to get a strategy worked out for the Rush tournaments, so I entered this even though I tend to avoid the rebuy games. Three of the players at the table double-stacked themselves before the first hand began, but the size of the guarantee was good. My play wasn’t, though. Hand nine and I had KT. UTG raises to 60 and I call and we’re heads-up. The flop gives me two pair: 2K2. UTG bets 165, I pop him to 660 and he three-bets to 8K. I only have 720 left. He could have the other two kings, he could have a one of the other twos or he could have the two aces he shows when I call.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

This game doesn’t have either the lows or the highs of the previous Midnight Madness. Sure, I dip down below 1,000 chips a couple of times in the early levels, but nothing catches fire and by the time I pick up KA in the big blind at 150/300/25, I’ve dropped from 8,300 to 2,650 in twenty hands. The small blind shoves and puts me all-in to call, which I do. He’s got JQ and pairs the queen on the turn. 120 minutes and I go out in 645th place of 3,707.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

This month’s Irish Open Finals snuck up on me. I had intended to try to qualify in one of the weekly Semi-Finals earlier in the month so that I wouldn’t be playing the Semi the same day as the Final, since it looks like the ticket winners have to join after the match has begun. Anyway, this wasn’t a game that would qualify me for anything. I played for 50 minutes and briefly broke 3,000 chips, finishing 14th of 18.

Full Tilt $19,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

This could have gone well but I got overconfident with pocket TT after nearly quadrupling my stack over 20 minutes. I was in the small blind at 60/120 and UTG raised to 480. I called and was heads-up, relatively confident with a flop of 878.  I shouldn’t have been, though. I bet 1,000 and got a call. J came on the turn, giving me a flush draw and a potential straight flush. I checked and UTG bet it all, putting me all in if I called. Of course I did. Unfortunately, he had T8 for a set of eights from the flop. He had one of the tens I needed (which would give him a full house but me a better full house). The river was 7, giving him an unnecessary improvement to a full house. I was out 377th of 557.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Another game that goes nowhere but down. Out in 12th of 15 players.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Is my heart in these? 11th place of 12 players.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Something screws up on my computer at the last minute and I can’t get out of this match before it begins. Only six players sign up and there’s no semi-final ticket awarded, just cash distribution. Another pair of tens is my final hand.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Semi-Final (3,000 chips)

I tote up and enter the Semi directly. Things get off to a decent beginning and by the first break I’m up to 5,200, actually in the prize ticket zone. Not great but not under the starting stack. Another hour and I have slipped below that number, to 2,500 chips. Not where you want to be after two hours of play.

There are seven players at my table. There’s a stack of 14K to my right, three stacks between 9K and 11K, and a couple of about 5K. I’ve actually made it to the last two tables out of 45 players (Cake runs 10-player tables). There are eight tickets being awarded to the Final, which just started. Blinds are 150/300/30 and I raise to 600 with 33. One of the 5K stacks goes all-in. I call and he’s got KK. A 3 is the first card on the flop, the rest of the cards go 8J35. He’s got a king-high flush but I’ve got quad threes. My Expected Value graph goes crashing through the floor but I more than double my anemic stack. I’m still at barely above half the chip average.

My last hand in the match is a better starter but it isn’t nearly as lucky. I’m heads-up with another player after calling his 750 raise from the small blind in the same level as the above hand. I’ve got JQ on a board of K3T for a straight draw. I bet 900 after the flop and get a raise that puts me all-in. Or I can stay with the 4K I’ve got behind. I call. He’s got AK. An 8 and 7 appear but no ace or nine. Just over two hours, 15th place out of 45 players.

Cake Daily $700 Guarantee Turbo (4,000 chips)

This is almost a classic good trend for a tournament. I probed for a chance to build my stack through the first half hour, losing blinds and one small showdown. I doubled up to 5,800 with a AJ Mutant Jack, then won another 2,900 with JQ three hands later.

An hour into the match I had over 15K, after a pocket 88 made a set on the flop then a back door full house that won me almost 7K. A dozen hands more and I was over 23K. At the ninety-minute mark I was over 32K. I almost went out going all-in with 28K in chips (with blinds at 3,000/6,000/300) and QA against JJ pre-flop; luckily the river card was Q.

I wasn’t so lucky a few minutes later when I put AK up against A6. I was in the big blind at 2,000/4,000/400, there was a raise from the cutoff to 10,600, and I re-raised to 17,200, which was called. The 276 flop hit the six and he went all-in, having me covered by 20K or so. I called and lost. 123 minutes, 16th place of 174 players, ROI 90%.

It all went south on Hand 133.

Cake $1,000 Guarantee Turbo 6-Max (3,000 chips)

I managed to build well in the first hour of this match but hit a rough patch and lost three big hands that whittled my stack from 14K to 5K. Then I had the bad luck to think that my AT was the strongest hand of the two players who went to a T8K flop only to find that it was actually the guy with the other two tens in his hand. 64th of 211 players.

Mutiny of the Bounty

Full Tilt $2,500 Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Nothing to see here. There were almost 3,700 entrants at the time I busted out. I took an early hit with a A6 that didn’t pan out. An 87 paired the eight on the flop to put me back over the starting stack. I more than doubled up with TT, beating a pair of nines to make it to nearly 4,000 chips twenty minutes into the game. Twenty minutes later, a different suited ace combination (A8) flushed through on the turn to beat a pair of kings.

I was mostly quiet after that, staying between 4,000 and 5,000 chips until just after the first hour of play, when a far weaker A3 combo lost out to A9 that got four clubs on the board. All-in against a larger stack with three clubs on the flop? What was I thinking? Out in 794th place.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Very quiet for the first quarter-hour. I get a couple walks for 15 chips apiece but give it away. A couple of small opening raises go bye-bye when the flop fails to cooperate. Then I get 66 in the small blind (at 20/40) with action folded around to me and only seven seated at the table. I min-raise and get a call from the big blind. The board has three over cards—including a king and queen—to my pair and the big blind keeps firing off small bets but I take the 480 in the pot when he has a pair of twos. The next hand I eliminate a player and make a profit of 1,460 when the bottom end of my AQ pairs on the flop. QA on the very next hand only makes me 40. Then it’s quiet until about the 50-minute mark when I have AK. I min-raise to 200 from UTG+2 (with eight players), getting calls from both blinds. The flop is A49, the blinds check and I open with 600. Small blind raises to 1,200, big folds, and I three-bet all-in. Big mistake. Small blind not only has me covered but he’s got 9A. two more clubs show on the board, and if that king had been a club it would have been real nice, but I’m out in 1,703rd place out of 2,016. Pathetic showing.

Full Tilt Step 0 Super Turbo (300 chips)

When I said I would never play another Super Turbo so long as I lived, I should have specified that only idiots play Super Turbos. I am an idiot. Five hands. I’m in my first big blind (there’s 10% of my starting stack right there). I’ve got a wretched J4 but lo and behold the flop is Q23. I know that if I can double up or just grab some chips in this early stage I’ll be a lot better off when the blinds go up on the next hand. I bet the pot to open (90), get re-raised by UTG+1 (the only other player in except for the small blind) and the small blind folds. I shove and UTG+1—who’s already taken out one of the players at the table so he has the bog stack— calls, showing K9. Finished 82 of 99.

Full Tilt $2,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

I’ve taken a run at this low buy-in event a few times in the past without any luck. Bustouts in just four and six hands, half an hour at the best. Last night things clicked—at least for a while.

I was below the starting stack for most of the first ten minutes then managed to avoid having a pair of sevens suck out with a flush on my pair of queens and picked up 900 chips.

My first big win was pushing all-in with A3. Action had folded around to the button, who raised to 480 at the 80/160 level. Small blind folded. I had the button covered by 900 chips (out of 3,200) and my all-in was called. Up against KQ and an A came on the flop. Things were a little worrisome with a turned J but the river was safe and I got my first bounty. I picked up another 960 on the next hand with Q9 that made it to a king-high straight on the turn.

I made a move about 25 minutes later holding QA on the button at 80/160/25. Two players ahead of me were in for 480 and I called, with the big blind following along. The flop was 4AJ. The big blind checked, the next player (UTG+3) bet 755 and the hijack called. I went all-in for 3,875. All thee following players had me covered by 500 to 9,000 chips but everyone folded and I picked up 3,270 to put me over 7,500.

An hour-and-a-half into the game and I’d lost several hands, dropping down to 4,500 with blinds at 200/400/50. My hand on the button was a somewhat less-than-sterling KT. UTG+1 limped, UTG+2 raised to 800, hijack called, I called, as did the blinds, and UTG+1 matched the raise, so the pot held 5,250 prior to the flop. The flop was 957. Nobody had put in 800 with 68, apparently, because everyone checked to the turn, which was 8. UTG+2 bet 1,200 with the hijack calling and I took a stab at it with my four-card straight, raising all-in for 3,655. Everyone folded and I built up to 11,300.

I got knocked down to 5,300 with another KT combo. It was suited (KT) but slightly behind the JK at the end of a board that didn’t connect with either of us.

The same player gave most of the chips back on the next hand. Five players went to the flop, limping in at the 300/600/75 level. My hand was K5 and the flop was A42. UTG+2 bet 1,200, UTG+2 raised to 2,400, and once again on the button I re-raised all-in to 4,620. The blinds and UTG+2 folded, UTG+3 called, showing 9A, and the turn dropped a 3, completing the straight and putting me over 14,000.

The humdinger hand of the night was my second bounty. I had about 13,700 chips in UTG+1 and was dealt QA. We were still at 300/600/75; I raised to 1,200. UTG+3 went all-in for 11,460. Everyone folded to me and I called with him flipping over TT. Things were just about over with a Q5Q flop but 6Q on the river sealed the deal for a 13,000 profit.

I was the big stack at the table for the moment but lost my next five entries into the pot, losing between 1,000 and 4,000 each try until I was down to 8,400. Blinds were nipping at everyone’s heels, at 600/1,200/150. KK fell into my hand in UTG+1. I raised to 3,000. The huge stack with 90K re-raised to 12,600. The button three-bet all-in to 28,297. Action folded to me and I called all-in for 8,259. The big stack called the three-bet. Big stack had KA, the other all-in (the same player I’d traded chips with above) had JJ. The board ran out TQ673 and I took just about 28K of the 68K pot. Two hands later I lost everything to the big stack, going out with a small cash in 207th place out of 3,401 entries after 150 minutes.

Full Tilt Super Satellite to FTOPS Event #44 (1,500 chips)

Sunday was the last day of the FTOPS tournaments, and early in the morning fresh off the KO tournament above I took a shot at a super satellite to the next-to-last event, a 6-max bounty tournament. The field grew to 61 entries by the end of registration, with five entries to the satellite, worth $55 each and two smaller cash awards.

Twenty minutes in I got my first break with KK in the cutoff. UTG picked up a ten on the flop to match their T8 for top pair and went all-in and I picked up the KO and 830 chips. I wiped out another small stack of 720 shortly after with QA vs. AT. AA against TT shortly thereafter made another bounty and put me over 4,000 chips. I took out two players (one with only 25 chips in the big blind) holding 88 when the board showed QKQ8Q.

Forty minutes in, I’d been knocked down to only about 2,500 chips again, losing 600-900 chips on hands like A6s and A9o. Kings served me well again when I doubled up through the big stack at the table to 7,700. Another bounty  and 1,495 came my way with TT a few hands after that. I got a couple thousand more holding K6 when the board gave me a 9-high straight on the river and nobody contested my 1,000-chip bet into a pot of 3,270.

A key mistake came when the field was down to about ten players. The cutoff raised from 200/400/50 all-in to 4,105 and I was the only caller, holding QK and 6,200 chips behind. The all-in showed KA and he got aces full of kings by the end of the hand.

Still, I was in the top five, on track to get a ticket to the satellite until I called another all-in by the same player five minutes later. My 66 against his QQ. Out in 7th place with an award about 1.5 times the buy-in and seven bounties, bringing the ROI to 169%.