Feat of Clay

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

By the first break in this game, I had one-sixth of the chips in play, with three tables still running. That slipped a bit, but by the time the final table was made, my portion was back up: to half of all the chips. You’d think that with an advantage like that at nine players I could pull out something better than a third-place finish, but an over-reliance on small pairs seems to be killing my end strategy. Something to correct.

Three-and-a-half hours. +225% ROI. 3rd of 24 players.

Aces Players Club $1,500 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

This could have gone so much better. I was seat 4, up about 1,000 chips in BB holding [td th] in the first level of the game. A couple of players limped, seat 9–who’d just rebought the previous hand–raised, then seat 1, who’d been hit hard, went all-in for about 1,800. Action folded to me and I shoved, getting a call (for less) from 9. Seat 9 flipped 99 and groaned when he saw my higher pair. The rebuy stack showed AK. I was in he lead with the best hand, but not favored to win, and two aces on the flop with a king on the river for the best-possible full house solidified my position. I busted out, rebought, and busted again to be the first man out.

Thirty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 34th of 34 players.

Tough Nut to Crack

Aces Players Club Noon $1,500 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

I had another engagement on Saturday evening, so I decided to take another crack at the Aces $10K, so I started off the day at their noon game, which always seems busy. Nothing spectacular happened, I didn’t rebuy, I made it to the break and added-on, but I didn’t make it far beyond there.

Ninety-five minutes. -100% ROI. 30th of 41 players.

Aces Players Club Friday $10K Guarantee (10,000 chips)

It’s not my first choice: despite the higher buy-in, the overall pots are smaller due to smaller fields. I made a couple of big mistakes. One was letting myself get bluffed off a large early pot with one player all-in and two of us calling when I was holding KxTx with the king paired and a jack draw to Broadway. There was a flush possibility on the board, an ace, and I folded to a raise to 3,600 on the turn. The winner at showdown had just Kx5x for a pair of kings. Near the end of my time in the tournament, I raised from BTN with AxQx, then folded to a bet on the king and rags flop, only to see an ace and queen on the turn and river. I still haven’t even come close to cashing in the Aces $10K.

Two hours and fifteen minutes. -100% ROI. 35th of 59 players.


In Defense Of Volatility

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

Who wouldn’t be stoked to be back for the first running of the game you won the week before? I know I was. I was eager for another win and I think I probably let my excitement run a little away with my play, because I got knocked out before the end of the 50/100 round.  The TD said he was stacking the table with previous event winners, but the place I lost most of my chips was to my immediate left in seat 9, where my hands kept getting beat by something slightly better, like double-paired Ax4x v double-paired Ax8x and an ace on the river that killed my pocket pair.

45 minutes. -100% ROI. 76th of 82 players.

Aces Players Club Saturday Freezeout (6,000 chips)

Rather than wait two hours for the 10pm game to start up at Encore (and after drinking some of manager S’s personal Scotch), I went to lick my wounds elsewhere, breaking a personal rule (again) and getting into the game halfway to the first break. It was a pretty quiet night, and the field was small, but I continued to do something wrong and was out before the break on this one, too. At least I saved myself the add-on for both games.

20 minutes. -100% ROI. 16th of 18 players.

Bubble Boy

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

I completed my post-Vegas trifecta of the clubs I regularly play with the trip to Aces last night. After my quick bust in the freezeout, I sat and chatted with JB (one of the dealers) and waited for the turbo.

There was a fair amount of aggression at our table, with a guy in seat 5 who said he mostly played cash games (I was in 1), a loose player in seat 9 with a tendency to go all-in at the drop of a raise, a decent player on my immediate left and a kid in seat 3 who was playing very tight but strong.

It took a while for me to find some equilibrium. I was down to just a couple thousand chips at one point. I called one of the LAG’s all-ins with A9 and I was ahead of his KxJx with all the low cards on the board, but a deuce on the river put a straight on the board and my potential double-up turned into a chop of the blinds. I kept building but was behind the chip average a lot of the way.

Once we consolidated to the final table, I had to step on the gas to stay ahead of the turbo blinds. I thought I’d be helped by the KKx I got UTG, and raised to 1,600 at 200/400 (about a quarter of my stack) getting several callers. Then the flop hit with 5A5x and I figured I was screwed. I made a continuation bet and got a single caller who I figured must have an ace. Then another diamond hit on the turn and I pushed. The pot was large, I had the nut flush draw, and we were still five players from the money. That got a fold and I showed the kings, which got a couple of groans from around the table. It chipped my stack up nicely.

The LAG guy kept up his all-in raises and there were a couple of times I was tempted to call, but I held off and slowly the field dwindled down to five. There was talk of paying the bubble but the cash player wasn’t familiar with the concept and while everyone else was for it, it never got unanimous assent.

I saw a flop with Kx7x from the BB. The cards were 8x6x5x and after a raise from the cash guy—and everyone else folding—I was all-in with my open-ended straight draw. I had about 16,000 chips left (at one point I’d been up to 30,000) and got called. He had top pair and it held through to the river. The dealer congratulated me on my $60 win and I pointed out that I was the bubble, for which he abjectly apologized. It was sort of funny and I didn’t mind. The bubble payment would have just brought my median cash ROI down.

Two hours. -100% ROI. 5th of 18 players.

Short, Fast, And Out of Control

Aces Players Club Wednesday Freezeout (6,000 chips)

I didn’t manage to get to the game until level three had already started, and I was out 700 chips from blinds. Not an auspicious beginning, but nowhere near as bad as when I pulled AxKx v AxAx in the hand of the player on my immediate left. A little later, just short of the break and chance to add-on, AxKx proved to be my downfall again, when he called my all-in push on an un-coordinated king-high board with KxTx.

Fifteen minutes. -100% ROI. 22nd of 31 players.



Now that my attempt to get to Prague for my birthday is over (unless someone decides to donate $20,000 to the effort in the next few days, which seems unlikely) I’m looking at where to concentrate my efforts. With that in mind, these are some stats from my attempts in $10K guarantee tournaments at the Encore Club.

DateDoor FeeBuy-InAdd-OnTotal CostEntrantsPlacePrize Money

* Monthly event prior to October schedule change.    † Weekly event after October schedule change.    ‡ Discount from usual monthly door fee for frequent player card.

That’s two cashes in five attempts. On the other hand, I haven’t managed to cash once in the Aces $10K in 13 tries.


Aces Players Club $10K Guarantee (10,000 chips)

Got into in from late position with KxQx on a JxTx7x flop. Pre-flop there are three of us in for 625 each. Post-flop, SB leads out with a bet of 1,400, gets a call, and I re-raise to 3,400 with the open-ended straight draw. SB pushes all-in for less than I have left, seat nine goes all-in with enough to cover me, and I call. It’s my draw against two sets: SB has JxJx, the other caller has TxTx. I’m actually in better shape to win it all than the tens (it’s 27%/69%/4%, but no ace or nine shows, the jacks triple up, and the tens take the rest of my chips. At least I saved myself the cost of an add-on tonight.

Fifty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 59th of 61 players.

Only 17 winning days before EPT Prague.

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.


Aces Players Club $10K Guarantee ($10,000 chips)

Seated at table 1, seat 1. Picked up on the first hand and raised, getting several callers. Had a couple of over cards on the KxQ4x flop and bet again, narrowing the competition down to two. The rest of the board put out a king-high straight sans a jack and we all sat tight. I flipped over my pair, both the others had low aces.

The very next hand was AxAx. I called an all-in by seat 2 by the turn, with three clubs on the board. He had K6x with the six paired on the flop, but no club hit the river and I was up to 20,000.

I got streaks of the same ranks of cards in short order. I raised with 78 and made two pair on the flop to win a small pot.

On the next hand, I got 78 and had the top end of the straight on the board by the turn. I pushed hard, and was all-in against seat 9 who also flipped 7x8x for a chop.

The third time I got Kx9x in a row, I played it and hit top pair on the flop but got beat by a set of twos. Still, at 45 minutes I had 18,000 chips.

The last hand before the first break proved to be my undoing (again). I had AxJx in late position, raised to 750 with several callers, then hit an ace on the flop. Seat 3 and I bet into each other with a pause as a queen showed on the turn. I should have gotten away, but tried to push him off with a large bet on the river. He called and showed AxKx and I was knocked down to 8,500. The same player took me out not long after with another AxKx against my A8.

80 minutes. -100% ROI. 49th of 55 players.

Aces Players Club Shootout (50 BB)

Got into it early (after waiting more than ten minutes for A couple players to come back from a pre-game break in the bar) and lost 35 BB in a hand with Qx[9z] v QxQx with the case queen as the high on the flop.

I managed to double up with two pair, then my own pocket queens ran into a set of eights and I was gone.

20 minutes. -100% ROI.

Only 25 winning days before EPT Prague.


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.