When It Rains It Pours


Aces Players Club 10pm Turbo (5,000 chips)

Not a big crowd but just a hideous downpour while we were mostly five-handed on two tables. I laid down twice to the same player’s all-in, with him showing total air both times. Didn’t get a chance to put him to the test before I was eliminated with 8x8x v AxAx.

90 minutes. -100% ROI. 6th of 11 players.

Only 19 winning days before EPT Prague.

Hotheads and Bronys

Encore Club $10K Guarantee (10,000 chips)

I got into the game just as the button was finishing its first trip around the ten-handed table and was seated at black table 2 seat 5, with a couple regulars I knew by sight on either side of me. There’d been some significant action already, with one player in the middle of a re-buy as I took my place. Seat 6 welcomed me to an interesting table.

It got even more interesting in short order when a player sat down in empty seat 2 and started complaining that she couldn’t get her chair closer to the table—always a problem when they’re ten-handed. She was jerky and abrasive, and seemed a bit amped-up as she demanded the table be squared up. The dealer and several of us mentioned that we were squared, with the cupholder across from the dealer right between me and seat 6. Seat 3 suggested moving the chair for the currently-empty seat 1 back from the table and she responded by saying someone could be sitting there soon. She got up from the table after the button went past and stalked off. Eventually, the floor director came back when she was there and she brought the subject up again. He just pulled the chair in seat 1 back and that settled the matter for the moment.

Things only got nuttier when a guy showed up for seat 1. From the way things had gone a little earlier, you might have expected fireworks to fly but suddenly seat 2 was cordial as hell, at least to the guy in seat 1. Seat 1 started flinging in raises and raking in chips, and nobody was in much of a mood to push back. I can’t remember at what point seat 2 went all-in but she got stomped and rebought, which didn’t seem to make her mood much better.

Some of the other players’ suspicions were tracking along with mine, and someone asked if seat 1 knew seat 2 (not that most of the people regularly playing in a $100+ buy-in game in Portland don’t know most of the other players by sight, at least) and he claimed anything but the sort, pointing down to an older player in seat 8 who’d just put in a raise and exclaiming: “But this guy, I know this guy….”

Not too long after that, seat 8 was working on his action (seat 9 and 10 were out pre-flop) when seat 1 jumped in with a raise and the dealer tried to redirect. Seats 1 and 2 got puffed up and started jabbering on about how it was up to the player to keep action from passing them by and the rest of the table weighed in that acting out of turn wasn’t proper procedure. According to Roberts’ Rules of Poker:

To retain the right to act, a player must stop the action by calling “time” (or an equivalent word). Failure to stop the action before three or more players have acted behind you may cause you to lose the right to act.

So they were wrong about the action moving on because there hadn’t been enough players acting behind seat 8 but more importantly:

Deliberately acting out of turn will not be tolerated.

If seat 1 knew seat 8 hadn’t acted, then the action was deliberate, which is a penalty offense. The second time he did it, the dealer warned him.

None of that had anything to do with me. I was doing reasonably well at the break, up a little from the starting stack. I went out and talked to JB and a guy in a brony shirt in the rain. JB was sitting right behind me on black 1 and not long after things got started a couple players at the high end of the table were knocked out and the brony guy joined us. I went long for a straight draw that I had to fold when a second ace hit the board. Brony flipped pocket aces. Two hands later on BTN, I raised all-in withb 2x2x but my stack didn’t have much in the way of power to blow anyone off. I got called by the brony who had an ace high. I got a full house but it was aces over deuces, which made two quad ace hands for the brony. Can’t argue with that kind of luck.

Two and a half hours. -100% ROI. 54th of 71 players.

Only 21 winning days before EPT Prague.

Up For the Day

Portland Players Club Noon $250 Guarantee Freeroll (2,000 chips)

The PPC is where I first played poker in a non-home game setting, and it’s where I started off my post-Black Friday concentration on live games with a couple of nice wins back in May. Since they went to their fall schedule—opening up with an 11am more-or-less-freeroll at a more convenient time than their 1pm summer start—I’ve been playing it on days when I can fit it in. It’s just so close to home.

PPC charges half their usual door for the early game, but if you pay the full door charge you get double the chips. Unlimited re-buys until the first break for twice the door, but you get 6,000 chips, and there’s a 2,000 add-on at break 1 for an amount equivalent to the door. It can make for some drastic play in the first hour, because an all-in with a regular starting stack can double you up to 4,000 but if you don’t catch your cards then you re-buy for 6,000 and you might be the largest stack at the table in the early stages.

I got my start in this game with a pre-flop re-raise holding K2. I paired the king on an uncoordinated flop, re-raised a bet of 300 to 1,300 and took it down.

Holding JT in UTG2, I re-raised pre-flop to 300 and got three callers. The KxQx7x board had two diamonds. Two players checked to me and I bet 1,800 to win.

J9 made another straight draw on the flop and I pushed all-in after a 1,200 bet, winning another decent pot. By about 45 minutes into the game I had 9,350 chips.

There was 3,000 in the pot and I was in the hand with 48. The 6x4x2x flop paired me and I went all-in again. Nobody called. By break 1 I had 10,700 and I got the 4,000 chip add-on.

AxJx in a hand soon after the break and I raised to 1,100 pre-flop getting one call. The flop was jack-high and an all-in won. By 1:55 into the game, progress had slowed, but I was up to 14,600.

Getting too cocky with T8 cost me big with only middle pair on the board, and twenty minutes later I was down to 6,200.

My stack had been further cut to just 3,000 when I went all-in with Kx5x. I got one caller, with Qx4x. The king paired and I doubled up.

Heads-up in BB with 2x5x with one caller and I got an open-ended straight draw on the flop. I pushed all-in and gained a little more back.

My Ax7x held up in an all-in against KxJx and I doubled again, putting me at 11,500 at break 2 with just five players left. I’d been the shortest stack at the table not long before, even shorter than the guy who’d had to go back to the office and left half-an-hour before.

In BB with Q9 I raised pre-flop, making straight and flush draws on the flop. A big bet pushed everyone out.

A risky call of an all-in of 10.500 with my current favorite hand—JxTx—knocked out AxKx and almost doubled me. Then I shoved from SB with 4x4x and took in blinds and antes.

I was re-raised to 6,000 (at 1,000/2,000), then went all-in with something I didn’t record and won. By this time I was the top stack at the table, somehow.

I took out the larger of the two remaining stacks calling an all-in. He had 4x4x and my hand was 8x8x. The other guy helpfully mentioned that he’d folded 4x4x, which really skewed the odds in my favor. I knocked out the remaining player on the next hand with Ax9x.

Three hours. +460% ROI. 1st of 13 players.

Portland Players Club Tuesday Deepstack (7,000 chips)

I hadn’t noticed that PPC was changing it’s schedule this week and came in expecting a freezeout. Got a smaller buy-in with two re-buys instead. Ah, well.

I got a 1,000 chip bonus for something-or-other, so I actually started with 8,000 like everyone else.

I raised to 150 with 58 for some reason, then got a flop of AKQ. I bet again and got callers, but folded to a bet after checking a 2x on the turn.

Won with QxQx and a 1,200 pre-flop bet. By ten minutes into the game I was up to 10,500.

My AxJx paired on the turn and I called an all-in with AxKx. His king showed up on the river and I was down to 350 chips.

Picked up 5x5x and went all-in. I was good until the river, when my pair was counterfeited by queens and nines on the board. I re-bought (I shudder at the word) for 7,000 chips.

Played Jx7x from BB and made a set on the flop. There was a bet and call of 250 ahead of me, I raised to 1,000 and took the pot.

Raised to 325 with Ax9x, getting four callers. I bet 1,500 on a gutshot straight draw on the flop, was re-raised to 3,500, then three-bet all-in by one of the two big stacks at the table. I folded, and as the cards played out I would have lost.

Forty minutes into the game I was back down to 5,400, having lost a total of nearly 10,000 chips from my two buy-ins.

Got lucky with AxAx in SB and managed to double up; I was holding 7,800 at break 1, then added on 5,000 chips.

On the first hand after the break—with blinds at 150/300— I raised to 1,000 with AxQx after a single call. I was re-raised to 4,000 by CO, then I went all-in. He called with KxJx, I caught my queen on the turn. Five minutes into round 4, I was up to 28,200.

Bet out 1,200 on Q9 then folded after the flop left me disconnected. UTG with J7 and I min-raised, then called an all-in of 2,675 and lost.

Blew away another 16,000 in two consecutive hands with ace-high calling all-ins, then pushed with just about 5,000 left and JxJx. Got called by AxAx who connected in a big way with quads on the flop, getting him on the high hand board for the night.

Two hours. -100% ROI. 14th of 21 players.

Portland Players Club $200 Guarantee Freeroll (2,000 chips)

The structure for this game is similar to the early freeroll: you can start with a double-sized stack for a price, the re-buys are three times the regular starting stack, etc.

Nothing notable happened in this game, except for the last hand. I was the third player all-in, with KQ. The first all-in had a smaller stack, the second was larger. First all-in shoed JxJx, so I had two overs, but second all-in had AxAx, and just like half-an-hour earlier, I was knocked out by quad aces, when an even higher high hand came out on the flop.

20 minutes. -100% ROI. 9th of 10 players.

Only 34 winning days before EPT Prague.

I Could Almost Smell It

Encore Club Anniversary $25K Guarantee (12,000 chips)

I re-read parts of Lee Nelson’s Kill Everyone: Advanced Strategies for No-Limit Poker Tournaments and Sit-n-Gos on Saturday afternoon before this game, and I think that—despite my falling short of the money—I played some of the best poker of my life.

I got off to a very hot start, with some semi-strong holdings that encouraged me via Kill Everyone to a lot of three-betting. I managed to take down five of the first seven hands with only one showdown. I had 7x7x and was heads-up with a player in the blinds Several over cards appeared on the board and we essentially walked it to the river, when he showed Ax6x which had paired the lower card but I had him beat. Then again, I broke off one hand where I’d flop-paired Kx after Ax showed on the turn and another where 2x2x was up against a pair of queens showing, so I was only up to 12,925 at the end of the first orbit despite having won a majority of the hands.

I sat quetly after that rush and waited for my opportunities. AJ won a big pot for me when it made two pair on the turn and then a spade flush on the river. Fifty minutes into the game I was up to 15,625.

I was saved from a huge loss with QxQx when I pushed back on a 1,600 re-raise pre-flop with a 3,200 four-bet and was called. AxKx on the flop reined me in and I showed my queens when I folded. The guy in seat 10 flipped over KxKx and said something about “thanks for the chips.”

I got it back and more almost immediately. I picked up Jx8x and paired the jack on a queen-high flop. He three-barreled it and tried to push me off the hand, but my pair of jacks ended up costing him 6,000 chips.

Then I got my own comeuppance trying to get tricky with A7. I only hit middle pair on the flop and a flush beat me. Seventy-five minutes in: 14,600 chips.

Just before the first break, a hand had one of the players in the tank for a couple of minutes before folding as the clock ticked down to less than a minute. A couple of the players headed off to get pizza or get in line for the bathrooms. I wasn’t expecting much, but I was in CO and when I looked at my cards I had KxKx. I raised and ended up heads-up with SB. The flop was jack-high, SB bet, I raised all-in and he called, to show AxAx. The board gave me no solace and his aces held up, leaving me with only 925 chips (my profit from the first orbit of the button).

I was still in, although extremely short-stacked even with the 8,000 chip add-on. Early on, I doubled with AxKx v KxKx when an ace hit on the flop. at 2:22 into the game, I had 17,800 chips.

Q4 gave me a moment of deliberation from BTN before tossing it. When the hand played out, I would have hit a flush and beat the single pair that took a large pot.

Blinds were up to 300/600/75 when I called a raise of 1,800 from BTN with A9. I hit top pair on the flop and pushed after a raise to win the hand. Then I lost several thousand playing with KxTx v 9x9x which made a set on the flop. At 2:50 I was back down to 14,000.

A push with 8x8x on an ace-high all-diamond flop took down another hand, then I picked up blinds and antes at 400/800/100 with a raise and 9x9x from HJ. Up to 16,125 at 3:10, then 19,000 at 3:30.

All-in from middle position with KxTx took blinds and antes again at 1,000/2,000/300, but four hours and forty minutes into the game I was still at 18,700 chips, below the amount of the starting stack and add-on.

I pushed on a 6,000 re-raise with an all-in holding Ax5x in BB and managed to suck in some more chips, then I got extremely lucky with TxTx when I pushed pre-flop from BTN and doubled through SB’s 8x8x. We both made sets on the flop, but I stayed ahead. That catapulted me to nearly chip average, with 53,000 chips at 4:50.

Sliding back down, I called an all-in of 13,600 with 6x6x. He had AxKx and I almost got free, but he hit Broadway on the river. At 5:10 I was back down to 41,000. There were fifty of the original 154 players left.

Another river did me bad when I called another small (11,600) all-in with KxJx. We both paired out top card on the flop, then I paired the jack on the turn. Then the river gave him another four.

Right after that, I shoved on a 9,000 raise with KxTx and after some thought, the player gave it up. With that, I managed to get back up to 40,000 by 5:25, with 44 players remaining.

I doubled again by hitting my ace with Ax9x v KxJx. and fifteen minutes later was sitting on 69,800 chips, which sounds great, but with only 38 players left after the start of break 3, was only 90% of the chip average. With blinds at 3,000/6,000/500, each orbit was costing 13,500. Not a good time to go card dead, but that’s what I did. I was down to 45,500 at 6:15 and there were 29 players left, with eleven spots to go before the money.

The BB hit me at 4,000/8,000/500 and I had J9. Not exactly something you’d write the Internet about, but the best thing I’d seen for a while. BTN raised to 24,000 and I went all-in for a total of 36,000, knowing the best I could expect were two live cards. He had AxQx, he was the favorite as I expected, but it was still only 3:2. I almost made a straight with the series of mid-level cards that flopped, but his ace took the day.

Six-and-a-half hours. -100%ROI. Finished 26th of 154 players.

No Cigar

Final Table Sunday $5,000 Guarantee (10,000 chips)

Started off the tournament with a 1,000 chip early registration bonus. I was in seat 7 at the sixth table; seat 2 had a woman who started pushing from the first hand. Within the first orbit, she’d already lost most of her stack to one player, then busted on the hand before the button got to me. After a rebuy, she made a big raise from UTG1, action folded to me, and I called with AK. The flop was Ax3x4x, she shoved even before all her new chips got to the table, I called, and she flipped QxQx against my aces. The turn and river were low and with only one rebuy, she was out.

I promptly set about sharing the wealth with my tablemates, losing over 3,000 with JxJx against 8x8x when my opponent hit a ten-high straight. I’d have had the better straight if an 8x had shown up, but the chances were restricted. 8xs were my downfall on the next hand as well, with a couple thousand following K8 v 23 down the hole on a flop of 2x2x8x. Although I’d had more than 20,000 after the knockout, I was back down to 14,350 at fifty minutes.

The slide continued with speculation on a QxTx hand and a AxKx8x7x6x board. Jx or 9x would have made me a happy man. 12,600 chips at eighty minutes. I coasted into the first break, bought the 8,000 chip add-on, and started the second segment of the tournament with 20,100 chips.

I folded KxTx after a pre-flop call of 1,100 in the SB. KxKx was the winner of the hand, so that was probably a good idea. 6x6x did manage to win me a small pot.

With the blinds at 100/200, I raised to 500 with Ax9x, getting two calles. Then BB went all-in for more than 14,000 and I folded. We all folded.

JxJx picked the wrong time to shove, i.e. when I had AxAx. I managed to double up and was back in positive territory with 35,000 chips two-and-a-half hours into the match.

By the time of my next major action, the blinds had moved up to 300/600. I raised to 2,000 with 9x9x, getting a single call and then a re-raise to 6,000. I called, and the previous caller came along. Top card on the flop was Qx but there was also another 9x. I opened all-in and since my stack was now large enough to do some serious damage, the other two folded. At the second break, I was holding 48,300 chips, about 5% of the total in play. There were 39 of the original 56 players remaining.

I moved to table 1 shortly after the break ended and took some time to get my footing, losing consecutive hands with 4x4x on the BB and KxQx on SB. At three hours and twenty minutes, I was down to 41,400.

Then I got fancy with 56. There wasn’t much on the flop apart from a lone heart, but I stayed with the hand, and another heart showed on the turn. There was a bet of 2,500 and two calls. I re-raised to 7,500 and got calls. The river gave me a king-high flush—but hardly the best king-high flush—and it was checked through. There was nothing better than two pair behind me.

On my next SB, I lived dangerously with 72. I made middle pair on a Kx-high flop and bet 2,000, hoping to scare someone away but got two callers. The turn was a 6x and I had to call another 5,000 to see the showdown but my sevens were good. In less than half an hour I’d gained over 30,000 chips, making it to 73,200.

From there, I called a 9,500 chip all-in with KJ but folded after a bet from another caller with only one spade on the flop. Running spades with the A on the river would have given me the nut flush and a major win.

The player on my left had been whining about calls—particularly my calls—ever since I’d gotten to the table. I put him all-in with 6x6x and he called with AxQx. Three Kx on the board made me a full house and took him out. Because of the previous loss, though, I was still only at 75,400 when we’d been playing for four hours.

Speculating with 67 cost me after my flush draw caught 7x on the river. I called a heads-up bet of 2,000 and thought I’d won from the comment by the player on my right but he was slow-rolling me with K7. My stack was down to 68,400 at break 2 with 21 players left.

Once action started up again it was downhill to the end. I lost more than 10,000 chips with A6 and didn’t hit anything. A pair of Qxs took the hand.

I hit top pair with Ax8x from the BB and bet 5,000 against SB for a win, but was down to 46,600 at 4:50 into the game.

Pushing with 8x8x from BB, I was nearly felted in a three-way all-in against KxQx and QxJx. KxQx double-paired on the flop and did not look back. I lost 42,200 chips but managed to double up on the next hand with AQ when I hit Ax on the flop. Fifteen minutes later I’d managed to move back up from the basement to an even 34,000.

The last hand of the match for me was a shove with a premuium pair: TxTx. Unfortunately, the guy to my left was more premium: JxJx. Didn’t quite make the final table.

Five hours and twenty minutes. -100% ROI. Placed 13th of 56.


Aces Players Club 10pm Turbo (5,000 chips)

The night started off well. I was in seat three (BB) at the first table and was dealt Qx6x. I stayed in through the flop, hit two pair, and pushed the other players out on the turn. My second hand was A3 and I made the wheel on the flop, with several hundred in pre-flop bets in the pot. I checked, UTG2 opened for 400 and I raised to 1,000. He was the only caller. I bet another 1,500 on the turn and won. Ten minutes into the game, I was up 1,500 chips.

I won another 400 holding AxJx. The board double-paired itself by the turn as I was heads-up with another player and we were checking it down, then with an Ax on the river I made a bet of 200 and took the pot. Q4 made me another small pot when I caught the low pair on the flop and somehow made the best hand. “Pair of fours” became the catch-phrase of the night but it marked the turning point in my fortunes.

KxJx cost me 350 on one hand, then I dropped another 1,200 with JT and a board that went all diamondy. The winner hit the nut flush on the flop. Still, I had 5,975 at the half-hour.

My real turn-around hand was calling an all-in of 2,800 (about half my stack) with JT. It was a classic race with two over cards (suited, in my case) against a pair, but  when I went over the stats, I noticed something odd.


Not only was the suited jack-ten combination favored over the pair of fives but it was the best suited connector hand overall against the lower pair, with an 8% relative advantage over even AK. According to the CardPlayer Poker Odds Calculator, something similar holds for 7x7x and lower, which is where the JTs combination has a better-than-even chance of winning. It didn’t in my case, however.

I went all-in on my next hand, holding KxTx and enough chips to get everyone except the guy to my immediate right to fold. He called and flipped AxAx and my initial buy-in was gone.

It was a turbo tournament, and we were already up to 200/400 by my re-buy. Raises were beginning to get even more aggressive. I called 1,600 with A6 and paired the lower card on the dryish flop, but folded to an all-in from three positions to my right. He took the pot, didn’t show, then announced it had been a “pair of fours”.

I shoved the rest of my second stack shortly thereafter holding 3x3x. Got called by a player two seats to my left, he hit his ace on the flop and I was gone. Even a pair of fours wouldn’t have helped me.

Fifty minutes. 16th of 16 players. -100%ROI.


Not So Much Card Dead As Card Comatose

Aces Players Club Back-to-School Special (12,000 chips)

DV and I both played this game, in which the house added $1,000 to the pot for first prize just to make it extra juicy. I ended up at table 1, seat 8, and spent the afternoon next to R, the gent who beat me out of a first-place finish in a freezeout a few months back. DV ended up out in the hinterlands.

My first move of any sort was as BB with Ax9x. By the turn, there were two kings on the board and when a bet of 400 opened, I folded.

On SB with 89, I caught top pair on the flop with my nine. The K on the turn, two clubs on the flop and a bet of 400 from the same guy (seat 1) as the hand before and I folded.

Shortly thereafter, I picked up AK and raised to 350, getting four callers. The king paired on a pretty dry flop, I bet 1,000 and took the pot. Twenty-five minutes into the game, I was 625 chips ahead of starting stack.

Three players were in for 350 when I picked up AxAx as BB. I raised pre-flop to 2,000 and only one stayed in. The flop was jack-high, I bet another 2,000 and my opponent folded. R told me he folded jacks to my raise. That put me up to 15,225 by the 35 minute mark.

Called 225 with KJ and whiffed the board, then folded to a river bet, then blew another 300 playing Ax2x (althought that wasn’t my worst play in this tournament with that hand). I lost about 1,000 chips over twenty minutes.

Dumped another 750 chips raising to 350 with AxTx. I had a wheel draw on the turn but missed. Just after an hour of play I was back down to 13,400.

Set-mining with 6x6x as SB is dangerous work! Don’t call 600 pre-flop with it. It isn’t worth it. 8x8x as BTN, on the other hand, proved profitable when I re-raised to 1,100, made my set on the flop, then won with a 2,200 opening bet post-flop. Twenty minutes after the hour I was up to 13,975.

With AQ I raised to 2,000 pre-flop, getting two callers. There were two spades on the jack-high flop and I opened for 1,300. I was min-raised, then action came to a halt when the player to my right went all-in for more than 14,000. I thought about it briefly and laid down my hand; everyone else did so as well. The winner showed JxJx for top set and took in a big pot. I, on the other hand, was down to 10,400 at the beginning of the first break, so I almost doubled my stack by buying the 8,000 chip add-on.

Set-mining with 7x7x is dangerous work (see above). 1,500 chips worth of dangerous. Speculating with K6 is 500 dangerous. From 20,000 chips (12,000 starting stack plus 8,000 add-on) at the two hour mark, I was down to 16,300.

Things looked up a bit when I called 1,200 holding A6 and the flop was all clubs. Heads-up after the flop, I bet 1,200 after my opponent checked and took the pot. At two-and-a-half hours I held 17,400 chips.

R remarked that I wasn’t holding onto many hands, which is when I coined the title for this post. Then I lost 2,400 with JxTx, which is usually a good performer for me.

Last hand of the game was a highly speculative A2. The flop made me straight possibilities: Q4x3.  The only other player in the hand was pushing hard, and I pushed back, eventually going all-in. Then the turn improved me to a flush draw: 9. Then I connected to my flush with 4 on the river. Unfortunately, what the other guy was connecting to with that card was a more powerful full house because he had QxQx in his pocket. R said he thought I was getting frustrated. I don’t know. I didn’t feel frustrated, I just thought I had an opportunity with that hand to do something before my stack got so small from blind attrition that I’d always get called. If my opponent had a pair instead of a set, he might not have called the all-in.

DV lasted a couple hours longer than I did. I swung back by the club to see if there was anything I could get him about an hour after the last I’d heard from him, but he was out by then. R was there but wasn’t in the tournament any more.

Three hours. Placed seventy-first of 93 entries. Fourteen places paid, with $15,000 in the prize pool.


Foxwoods Before the Storm

On a business trip to Boston and I had a day to kill before Hurricane Irene hit New England. So I decided to head down to Foxwoods in Connecticut, which is running deep stack tournaments at 6pm every night. The WPT Poker Room at Foxwoods is advertised as the largest poker room on the East Coast, so I figured it could be a bit of an eye-opener for me, having played poker in a small tribal casino as my first casino experience just a few weeks back and the only other casino I’d been in being Spirit Mountain.

I got to Foxwoods with some time to kill before the tournament and went downstairs to where the cash action is. Lots and lots of cash action. There was a short wait for a seat at a $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em  table; I got my WPT Poker Room card and some chips.

The games at Foxwoods were definitely not as soft as Spirit Mountain. I managed to lose my first stack with a made straight on the flop hoping that nobody had already made the bigger straight draw. Got it all back when I doubled my stack holding 5x5x with KxKx on the board and the big stack thought I was completely bluffing. Then I managed to lose the whole thing, with my last hand being A7. The board gave me a pair of aces and wheel draw but Kx2x actually made the wheel. I went to get a late lunch.

When I was ready to face the music again, I happened into the start of a $1/$2 Pot LImit Omaha Hi-Lo game and signed up. This session went incredibly well. A three-card run in one hand turned into a straight that won me a double-up, and I caught another couple big hands, nearly quadrupling my buy-in. I actually threw down a hand with both Broadway and wheel draws after a turn bet from across the table that would have cost me about two-thirds of the profit (above the buy-in and the two stacks I’d lost in Hold’em) because I figured I needed to slow down for a second. As it turned out, the wheel came through and I probably could have added another couple stacks because I would have scooped the pot and both the other players were nearly all-in.

Success is fleeting, however. The tournament, a $15,000 guarantee with about 140 players didn’t last very long for me. I could only console myself with the fact that I wasn’t the first person out of the game. It was off to my hotel to get some sleep after that.

Back out to Foxwoods for the morning turbo. Took a bit of a hit after an OK start, but made it to the second table out of 50 entrants. Picked up AxKx in the big blind. After a big raise from a mid-position player and an all-in from button, if I got lucky, I might triple my stack. The raiser was largest stack, both were bigger than me. I called all-in, and the big stack called. The big stack also had AxKx, the button held AxAx which held up, taking me out in 15th. First place paid $917.

The morning bounty tournament was still in the first level, so I bought in there. I plugged along with about the starting stack as the average chip level went up, then took a hit that put a mark on my stack. By the time the blinds were up to 500/1000/150 I was down to about 7bb. I shoved with AQ and got called by someone who could afford the chips to race with TxTx (who I’d knocked out of the turbo game earlier). I placed 14th of 42. The prize pool was $5,149, with $1,803 going to first and just six players paid.

I’d lasted long enough that the early afternoon turbo was beyond it’s buy-in, so I got lunch and some goodies for friends back home, dragged things back to the car, then stepped downstairs to the cash games again.

I haven’t ever played much 7-Card Stud. My advice is, do not make your first live experience against a bunch of geezers at someplace like Foxwoods in a Fixed Limit $1/$5 game. I made a couple of blunders that marked me as a neophyte in the first couple of hands. Seriously, people were laughing. I managed to get a little bit of respect (and some chips) back with a sneaky move and a flush, but mostly the stack went down and down. The slower speed of the game did kill some time, though. I killed some more watching people play Sic Bo.

Finally, the $20,000 guarantee tournament. Our table started out laughably short-handed with just four players despite being set up for ten. People started to filter in as time went on. I pulled an iron out of the fire on one hand when a short-stacked player who had announced she was “on tilt” and I both seemed to have paired a Kx on the flop. Hers was presumably better than my KxTx until the river when I called her all-in as the Tx hit. My turn came later, when AxJx and an Ax on the board ran into a set of 3x with two of them on the board after the turn. That knocked me down to about a quarter of the starting stack and I was out relatively soon, in 98th place of 140. The prize pool was more than $27,000, with fourteen places paid and more than $7,700 to first place.

Back to Portland.

The Big Play

Ace of Spades $10K Guarantee Satellite (1,000 chips)

I’d already bought in for the game but DV hadn’t arrived yet and I decided to play for his seat since they were trying to round up a couple of players for the last satellite. I didn’t keep track of the cards, but I took a chunk of the stack from the woman opposite me early on, then another couple of medium-sized chunks from around the table before. As the match dragged on past the big game’s starting time, the staff was anxious to get the tournament under way and they jumped the blinds up, which led to the quick elimination of several players, with most of the chips going to two guys at the other end of the table. Eventually, they got into a hand and I was heads-up with a significant chip disadvantage. We got moved to another table since the one we were at was needed for the $10K. I managed to get even or a little bit ahead in heads-up by some good cards and some bluffing, then the tournament was starting and since both the other player and I were already bought-in we just chopped the prize money. DV had to pay his own way in to the big game.

6 players, tied for first. +200% ROI.

Ace of Spades $10K Guarantee (7,000 chips)

Right off the bat there was an announced “dealer appreciation fee” of 10% of the buy-in, which  got you an additional 2K in chips. It’s pretty hard to ignore a nearly 30% increase in the stack size for that price, but I felt it was a bit sleazy to not make it known up-front. I hope it’s not something that spreads to other venues.

I sat in seat 1 of table 2 the entire game.

I caught AxAx on my third hand and steadily increased my opening bets against seat 4 in SB. Checked on the river and SB bet 1K. I raised to 2K (we were still at 25/50 for blinds) and he called but the aces held and I was up to about 13K.

Pressing hard with AK won another several hundred shortly thereafter.

Had Kx5x on the BB and caught top pair on the flop. The board straightened out with Kx8x7x6x by the turn, and I hung on. 5x hit the river and I ended up takig down the pot from what was probably a stronger king.

Player 79 and hit second pair on a flop with an Ax. I made a good-sized raise and everyone went away.

Lost about 1K after raising with A7, but I was up to 17K at the 90-minute mark.

Playing QxQx with an Ax on the flop cost me about 3K. I made up for it playing QxTx in a hand with five players in for 800 pre-flop. The first cards were KxJx8x and I bet out 1,500, which got folds from everyone.

Lost a big hand with AKx when my straight and flush draws didn’t make it and a full house did.

At two hours into the game I was down a bit, to 15,650, but made it to 22K by the second break.

I’d played 7x7x and stayed in with a board of 3xAx6x3x. When 7x hit the river, a short stack in seat 8 went all-in and I called him, with my full house being best hand.

DV wasn’t doing so well, down to about 10bb. After this, no players were allowed to rebuy, I did the add-on for 50% of the buy-in and 7K in chips (not nearly as good a deal as the “dealer appreciation”).

Open-raised to 1,500 with AxQx and took the blinds on one hand, then lost 3,500 calling an open-raise by seat 4 (who had speedily recovered from our initial meeting) with KxJx when the flop went nowhere. KxJx lost me another K shortly thereafter, and perhaps I should have noticed a pattern here.

Blinds were up to 300/600, I raised to 1,500 with AxJ and got three calls. Everyone checked to the river and nobody got anything. Nobody else even had an ace.

Ax7x again cost me 1,500 after I opened and nothing hit on the flop.

My last hand was KxJx. A new player had been moved into seat 2 and taken out two from our table in a short span. I raised after getting top pair with a Kx on the flop, he went all-in, I called and he showed AxKx, which held through the river.

DV actually laster a while longer than I did, but was still out well before the money.

4 hours. Placed around 50th in a field of 79. -100% ROI (-180% buy-in including door, dealer appreciation, and add-on).

Aces Players Club 1 Re-Buy (7,000 chips)

Took in 800 early on pairing my nine with 9xTx on the flop. Ditto with AxJx and jacks. Forty minutes in I was up to about 9,300.

4x5x in the BB raised and checked down to the river won me 1K when my paired 4x was the best hand. By the first break I had crept up to 10,400.

A lucky pull with 8T on BB made me over 5K when I hit a pair of tens with a straight draw on the board as well. that severely hurt the player three seats to my right, but he came back with an all-in against my raise with 8x8x. I called, he showed AxJx, another 8x came on the turn, and he never paired but the rest of the board made him a jack-high straight and he took back several thousand.

Only about 10,800 at the 160-minute mark.

I played KxQx strong but two seats to my left the big stack at the table went all-in after the flop JxTx8x and I didn’t pull the trigger, losing over 6K. Busted out on the next hand when I called an all-in from the guy who’d busted my eights, and he showed AxQx against my AxJx. Both of us paired our non-ace cards, but that wasn’t good for me.

2.25 hours. Placed 16th or 17th in a field of 23. -100% ROI (-120% buy-in including door).

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.