Assume the Position

You might think that because I haven’t posted anything for nearly two months that things hadn’t been going very well. For part of the time, that might have been true–although that wasn’t a poker-related “not going well”.

The home game tournament series I play in has been on hiatus since before the WSOP, with the only event being a six-handed deepstack mixed Omaha tournament I put together (PLO, PLO8, Big O, and Courcheval, changing each level, a lot of fun). I won that.

Followed up the Carbon Poker blow-off with a deep run in a $1K 6-Max online game, then a 2nd and a 1st, for 1300% and 1800% profit, respectively. I made a small cash in a 1,000+ player field, then hit 3rd in a $1K. Because of other life things, I wasn’t playing live much (or getting much done on my WSOP database), though, which is where my bigger wins have come. Then I was in the top 4 chop of a $10K at Aces Players Club, for 1,400% profit, and took 2nd two weeks later in a 5-way chop of the same tournament for 1,200%.

Sunday, I got home from work and jumped right into the opening hands of Poker Maximus VI Event #8, a $70K guarantee. More on that below.

Had to miss the $50K reopening tournament for The Final Table in their new location. Stupid job.

But it’s back down to Las Vegas tomorrow morning for the Caesars Palace Kick-Off Classic Seniors Tournament, unless it’s got just a few people signed up by the 10am start, in which case I’ll save my energy for the noon $15K guarantee. There are a couple Maximus events in the evening if I bust one or both of the Caesars games, then there’s another $15K on Thursday.

Anyway, I was reasonably pleased with my performance in my first Maximus event, the first online tournament I’ve played for $100+ stakes since before Black Friday. I did something I’ve tried in tournaments before, using the field size and position stats to track my progress throughout the game. Sadly, they’re not part of the hand history data stream, so PokerTracker doesn’t store them, but they make an interesting accompaniment to the hand history.

Carbon Poker Poker Maximus #8 $70K NLHE

The top graph shows the number of players in the tournament (green) and my position in the tournament (blue). The red line shows the bottom of the cashing field, based on the final number of payouts (which wasn’t finalized until the end of the re-entry period).

The second graph is very similar, but shows my position in relative, rather than absolute, terms.

I entered about 15 minutes into the game, just after the beginning of the second level. My participation was 200 hands, I’m not going cover every one this time.

Hand 4 JJ CO T4,925 15/30
As you can see, there’s a huge drop from a mid-range field position very early on. UTG min-raises and action folds to me. I re-raise to 200, BB flats, and UTG re-raises to 460. I call and BB follows along. Almost 1,400 in the pot and the flop is 753. BB checks, UTG bets 697, and both BB and I call (not in that order, naturally). Pot is 3,500. The turn is A, BB checks, UTG bets half pot, and I realize that I’m beat and fold with T3,800 left. BB shoves and gets called by AA for a real cooler, since he had 77 and top set on the flop. He’s busted with the T on the river. My chip stack is still 126BB, but I drop to 293/322 on the leader board since most of the other players haven’t lost 25% of their chips yet.

Hand 7 QT UTG2 T3,768 25/50
I open for 150 and HJ flats along with BB. The flop is AAA, BB checks and I c-bet 200. HJ just calls; BB folds. 5 turn, check-check. 7 on the river and I make another stab for 418, HJ calls and shows 88. With 3,000 left, I drop to 315/327.

Hand 13 QQ CO T2,863 25/50
This is the hand where the poker gods smiled on me. UTG, the winner of Hand 4, opens to 125. HJ calls and I re-raise to 475. UTG four-bets to 950. HJ folds and I get stubborn, going all-in. Naturally, exactly one round after having aces against my jacks when I’m in CO, he has AA and calls, with 6,309 behind. The board runs out 798T to the turn, which gives me as good a chance as I can have on the river, then Q spikes and I double up to over 5,900, which puts me in the top quartile of the leader board.

Hand 19 JJ BB T5,926 50/100
Jacks again. Maybe they won’t lose this time. What am I saying? Of course they will. The CO min-raises to 200 from 62BB and I just call. 22T on the flop. I bet 300 that gets called. A turn and I try with a 400 bet, but get raised to 1,200 and call hoping for a flush. 8 river, I check-fold to a bet of 2,250. Back down to the bottom quarter, but the amount of differentiation means that’s not all that bad.

Hand 27 KA UTG T4,176 50/100
Someone else’s turn to lose with jacks. I raise to 300. UTG3 re-raises to 800 and it folds to me. I shove 42BB, UTG3 calls with JJ, and I get two pair by the turn, doubling up and leaving UTG3 with 7.5BB. The win puts me in the top 20% of the (then) 380-player field for a brief time.

Hand 37 A5 BB T8,202 60/120
The guy who lost to my AK opens to 300 from UTG2 and I defend. He bets 280 on the TQ3 board, and I call, as he has less than 1,000 behind. 9 on the turn, and I put him all-in. He calls with AK and doubles up, but I’m still in pretty good shape.

Hand 44 TK UTG1 T6,704 75/150
I open to 450 and get flatted by UTG2 and SB. The flop looks fantastic: K9K. SB checks, I bet 800, and get called by SB. 8 on the turn and SB checks again. I bet 1,600 and he calls. 7 river, and he checks. I’m beat by a few hands, now, including JxTx or even 5x6x, but I check and I was behind from the beginning as he held the second nut trip hand: KQ. Drop back down below starting stack and into the bottom 20%. Still 26BB.

Hand 45 99 UTG T3,854 75/150
Open to 450. Action folds to SB who shoves 1,642. I call and the board runs out 65[6hjh]J, the short stack has a decent-but-not-good enough QK and his chips take me back up over starting stack.

Hand 48 AQ BTN T5,421 75/150
UTG2 opens to 525 and I raise to 1,200. He folds.

Hand 51 A6 UTG3 T6,151 100/200/20
I open for 600. Everyone folds.

Hand 54 AJ UTG T5,971 100/200/20
I open to 600. Everyone folds.

Hand 56 55 SB T6,811 100/200/20
HJ min-raises and both blinds defend. The 85K flop makes my set, I check, BB checks, and HJ stabs at it with a bet of 690. I raise him to 2,000 and they both fold.

Hand 59 TT HJ T8,421 100/200/20
UTG min-raises and I call, sort of wanting to make sure there isn’t too many over cards on the flop with tens. SB jams of almost 3,350. That gets rid of BB and UTG, and I take it head-on against 99. I’m liking the TQQ flop, bust the same guy for the second time, and add 17BB to my stack, which puts me back near the top 10%.

Hand 78 QK UTG2 T11,095 150/300/30
I raise to 900 and everyone folds.

Hand 85 AK CO T12,145 150/300/30
Open to 900 and the blinds fold.

Hand 101 5T SB T10,858 200/400/40
Everyone folds and I call the BB. He checks and we see the 5J4 flop. That’s pretty good for me. I bet 700 and he calls. The turn is 9. I check and let him bet 1,280, nearly a quarter of his stack, into my flush. I raise him all-in—I have him covered by 3,000—and he calls with 32. I can’t figure it out but I win a pot of 16,500.

Hand 102 JA BTN T19,643 250/500/50
Just antes and a big blind in the pot before action. UTG1 min-raises, I flat, and we’re HU. Flop’s 257 and we both check. K on turn, UTG1 bets 1,250 and I let it go.

Hand 115 AA UTG2 T17,243 250/500/50
I make my standard 3x raise from middle position. Nobody wants to play.

Hand 118 AQ BB T18,243 250/500/50
UTG1 min-raises with a stack slightly larger than mine. Action’s back to me and I 3-bet to 3,000. He calls and the flop’s KQJ. I jam on him, thinking he would have more than min-raised with AxKx. He folds and shows AJ (the Mutant Jack loses again!) snarkily asking if that’s the only move I have. As if I’ve been all-in in this tourney on a regular basis. I’m up in the top 20% of the field again, but it’s going to be for the last time. All (or mostly) downhill from here.

Hand 120 KA UTG T21,493 250/500/50
Raise to 1,500 and everyone folds. Easy game, no?

Hand 127 KA UTG2 T21,373 300/600/60
I’m officially a cardrack. I open to 1,800 and everyone folds.

Hand 129 8A UTG T22,333 300/600/60
Open for 1,800 and everyone folds.

Hand 133 KQ CO T22,573 300/600/60
HJ bets 1,800 and I call. We see the AJ2 flop HU, he bets 2,120 and I fold despite the tempting (to me, at least) Broadway draw.

Hand 136 JA UTG2 T20,593 300/600/60
Open to 1,800 and everyone folds.

Hand 150 JA HJ T20,053 400/800/80
I’m 55th of 166 players at this point. Not trying to do anything fancy, we’ve still got more than 50 players to go before the bubble. UTG3 raises to 1,800 and I flat. We see the flop HU, it’s 669. He bets at it and I fold. The loss drops me down to 68th position.

Hand 151 99 UTG3 T18,373 400/800/80
I continue my 3x raises with a bet of 2,400 and get called by BTN. The flop is K46 and I bet 3,000 at it only to get shoved on by a stack covering me. I fold and drop out of the cashing field, to 109th.

Hand 159 AJ CO T11,213 400/800/80
Time for the Mutant Jack to do it’s thing. I open-shove with 14BB and get called by a stack of 59BB with KJ in SB. The board runs out an unnecessary flush for me and I double back to 49th and the middle of the cash field, with 156 to go.

Hand 179 77 BB T18,846 500/1,000/100
As other players have chipped up and I’ve lost 20 hands of blinds and antes, my position in the field has dropped to 76th. We’re still almost 40 spots from the money bubble. Normally, I don;t like playing a pair as low as sevens on an almost full table, but I am BB. Action folded to one of the very short stacks at the table, CO with just 7BB. He shoves for 6,440. BTN and SB fold (they both have decent-sized stacks). I stand to lose a third of my stack if I lose, but I figure he’s in desperation mode and I might have the better hand by a margin. He has QJ, he doesn’t pair (an ace hits on the flop, so I’m glad he didn’t hit that), and I get a little bump.

Hand 183 QK HJ T25,606 600/1,200/120
I open for 3,600, with the two larger stacks at the table having folded already. CO shoves for 17,100, gets an all-in call from BTN, and another all-in from BB. BB’s the smallest stack, with just 4BB before paying for the hand. SB was the most worrisome, since he had a stack just smaller than mine, but he folded. BTN has 9BB, and CO has 14BB, two-thirds my own stack. The pot has more than 36,000 in it, I’m getting 2.7:1 on my money, but if I lose (With KQ? Nah.), I’ll be down to 4BB with 31 places to go before the money. I fold, and as you might expect, everyone beats me. CO has AJ, BTN has KK, and BB has A6. The ace on the flop gives the whole thing to CO, but four spades roll out by the river and my king was the only spade of the four hands. A win would have put me at nearly 58,000.

Hand 186 QK UTG1 T21,646 600/1,200/120
I open to 3,600. SB calls. The flop is 8KJ, SB checks, I bet 6,000, and he piles on 25,000, putting me at risk. I’m obviously not going to make the same mistake as in the previous KQ hand, so I call. He has QK and we chop the pot.

Hand 187 JA UTG T22,666 600/1,200/120
Open to 3,600. UTG2 shoves for 11,200. CO is all-in with just 4,300. I call with 11,450 behind. It’s me v 77 and KK; behind everyone, as usual. Both pairs hold up (with the kings getting a set on the flop) and I end up behind both of the other players in the hand, dropping down to 101st place, outside the cashing field with just 15 players before the money.

Hand 199 A6 HJ T6,410 750/1,500/150
The cards have not been kind. Nor have the blinds. I have, however, managed to outlast enough bust-outs over the past dozen hands that I’ve reached the money with 4BB. Action folds to me, and I shove, getting called by BB, who started the hand with 34BB. He has 89, the flop is QQA, and I win the hand.

Hand 200 QK UTG3 T14,770 750/1,500/150
UTG1 opens to 4,000 from a 25BB stack, and I shove 10BB. SB (who I’d doubled through in the previous hand) shoves 29BB, and UTG1 gets out of the way. I’m racing against 88 and I lose, going out with a min-cash.

VPIP for this tournament: 17.2%. I won 48% of the hands where I saw the flop, went to showdown with 61% of the hands where I saw the flop, and won 64% of the hands when I went to showdown.

Four hours. 200 hands. 92nd of 710 entries. +82.6% profit.

Poker Mutant 2011 In Review

Since my concentration on live tournaments after missing out on my home league’s Player Of the Year WSOP buy-in pool and Black Friday’s crushing of the online poker action in the US, I’ve played 169 tournaments, mostly at Portland-area poker venues.

I had a couple of goals:

  1. Make it to the WSOP. I hoped to put together enough between 1 May and mid-June to make up for missing out on the POY pool, so I could play one of the low-end WSOP events and visit with Tomer. Two early wins at the PPC right off the bat gave me some hope, but times were tight, I had to dip into my poker bankroll for personal expenses, and June slipped away before I made it up.
  2. Make it to Prague. My next goal was to make it to the EPT event in the Czech Republic that started on my 50th birthday. Prague’s supposed to be a great place to be just before Christmas, I could take Ms. Poker Mutant with me for part of the trip, we’d make a little European vacation of it, and maybe I’d get lucky. Problem was, I figured I needed about $20,000 for travel expenses, the $7,500 EPT buy-in, and some money for side events that might make the trip worthwhile, poker-wise. Kept coming up waaaaay short until a win just a couple of weeks before I needed to be on my way made it possible—if unlikely—to build the roll up. No luck, but I tried.

I’ve played an average of 21 tournaments each of the last eight months. Thirty-one of those have been games where the buy-in was $100, $120, or $150. I played three tournaments at Foxwoods. And—briefly—the $2,500 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza IV at The Venetian. I’ve made the final table in two of the seven $10,000 guarantees I’ve played at the Encore Club, placing 8th in a field of 142 back when they were monthly, and taking first in a field of 75 since they’ve gone weekly. I also took second in their 138-player Tournament of Champions back in August. Got to play 2-7 Triple Draw the other day with a guy who was a hair’s-breadth from winning a WSOP bracelet. So even though my main goals were thwarted, not a bad year for the Poker Mutant.

Breakthroughs: Post 100; Money in $10K

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

Once it was obvious I wasn’t winning the Player of the Year pool money for a WSOP buy-in this year, I decided to step up my tournament play to see if I could make it up that way. Of course, after Black Friday, that meant more live tournaments, and I got off to a great start with the freeroll I played in early May and the turbo a couple of nights later that gave me back to back first-place finishes. Needless to say, that record hasn’t been maintained through the past six weeks, but I have stayed at around a 25% cash average since the first of June. 6 cashes in 26 tournaments.

Six hours in to the Encore $10K

The last one is the most interesting (and frustrating) to me. DV and I entered Encore’s monthly $10K Guarantee with the agreement that we’d split any winnings, the same agreement we’d made before the Ace of Spades game a couple of weeks earlier.

My game got off to a great start. I was in seat 4 and picked up 8x8x on the third hand of the match as SB. I’d lost a few chips on the earlier hands but still had about 9,500. The flop was 7x6x5x and I started betting heavily. The field narrowed to me and BB who stayed in. The turn 4x gave me my straight and I really pushed but there was a flush draw on the board, as well and BB re-raised. I shoved, he called, and he missed his flush but I got 9x for an even higher straight.  He was seriously crippled by the fourth hand and I was over 19K.

The first of my big mistakes came shortly thereafter. I had 68, two clubs showed on the flop, and I got into a bidding war with seat 7 that ended up with me having about 7,000 chips in by the river, which gave me a flush. Seat 7 turned up two pair and I flipped over 68, which paired an 8x on the board but wasn’t a flush. I sucked up the loss of most of the gain I’d made just a few hands earlier and kicked myself for wearing contacts instead of my glasses.

I played AxJx and paired the Jx high card on the flop but was beat by pocket KxKx and was down to 11K.

An all-diamond flop forced me to lay down 700 chips along with JT. Likewise, I raised 800 on AQ and folded when the top cards on the flop were K7.

A2 gave me diamonds for a change and I made a set of deuces but four hearts on the board made a flush for someone and I was down to 8,000 chips.

The last hand before the first break put QxQx into my hands and I managed to practically double up by busting out a player. After buying the 7K add-on, I had 25,500.

This, of course, did not last long. I bet big with AT on a TxQxKx flop and another player came over the top, leaving me with 17K by the end of that hand. Then a pair of 9x9x lost me 4,325 more when I called an all-in and their JT drew to a flush on the river. At the three hour mark my stack was back down to 11,875.

AxJx (not a Mutant Jack) took down the blinds for me when I opened with a raise to 2,500. Then I called a bb of 800 and folded to an all-in.

Ax5x is usually something I dislike playing but I saw a 5xTx5x on the flop and bet erratically, which ended up making me 20K. The guy next to me said he had no idea what I had.

Then I was lucky enough to grab a pair of KxKx as BB and went all-in after a 5K raise from the CO. He called, showed AxQx and almost made a straight (though that was more difficult with two of the kings in my hand), and I was up to 40K. By break three that was 59,400.

Back in the thick of things, K4 hit two pair on the flop and ended up with two players all-in against me when another 4x showed on the river, knocking them both out. By 4 hours and 30 minutes in I had 76,500.

I called a raise to 2K with QT but had to fold to two all-in bets, then lost another 6600 with A3 after a flop that utterly failed to connect.

My QxTx made two pair on the flop after I bet 5K pre-flop, and I called another player’s all-in. They showed four to a straight but beat me with a royal flush on the turn. That cost me about 30K and left me with 40,000 in chips at the 3 hours and fifty minutes mark.

I raised to 6K with another A5 and was re-raised. The re-raiser showed KxKx at showdown with another player. I would have made two pair on the board but a flush came and I would have lost anyway.

Five hours into the match, I was down to 22,000 chips, only 5K above the amount I’d received as a starting stack and add-on.

I managed to steal the blinds and antes with an all-in holding A9. At least I was big enough for the people at my table not to want to tangle with me all of the time.

Fifteen minutes later I was up to 24,500, with my ill-gotten blinds and antes.

I knocked out another player by calling an all-in with KxQx. They held Kx9x and stayed behind across the board. The Mutant Jack JA made two pair on the flop and earned me another 10K. Five hours and thirty minutes into the game, I’d made it back up to 45,500.

A Mutant Jack of hearts (AJ) and a bet of 12K got a call and then took the pot for me. Then I played a dangerous 3x3x, hitting a set on the flop and won another pot. Took out a player when the QJ paired the queen. By six-and-a-quarter hours, my stack was finally over the chip average again, with 95,000.

Raising to 15K with KxQx, another player came over the top and I laid it down, which was good because the hand went to showdown and I would have lost to the AxAx. Playing another A5 (see above), I caught the flush and took in over 50K, which put me at 131,500 by six hours and forty-five minutes.

Laid down another KxQx and 8K on a call to an all-in. Some more proffers gone wrong cut me down again to 80K in just half an hour.

Pocket 8x8x made quads for me, knocking out another player (who was holding AxJx) and getting my stack out of the doldrums. At the 8K/16K/2K level, a raise to 36K with Ax9x took down the blinds. The I used AxJx and knocked another player out. My stack was up to 220K just shy of eight hours into the tournament.

A call on my part with 36 lost me my BB and another 11K calling an all-in. I lost an extra 10K as the SB at the 10K/20K?4K level calling to see the flop with Q9 and folding to a post-flop bet from BB after my hand missed.

Ax9x again and a 40K min-raise took down the blinds again.

I called a small all-in with J5. He flipped over 2x2x. The odds calculators say that one’s a coin flip but if he’d had anything higher than a pair of 4x4x I probably would have lost. I didn’t, though and another player was down.

My last hand was played at 20K/40K/4K. I was in seat 5 at the final table, with eight players remaining, on BB with about 200K behind. There were somewhere over 2.3 million chips in play at the table, but about half of them were in the hands of the player in seat 7. A couple players had between 300K and 400K and the rest of us were down to just three or four big blinds. UTG folded and the big stack as UTG1 opened with a raise to 600K. Action folded around to SB, who went all-in. I had a clubby Mutant Jack: AJ. I was all-in. The giant stack turned over 6x6x, SB had me dominated with AK. Both the ace hands were losers, though, as the pair held up across the board. Two clubs on the board left me just short of what would have been a nut flush. I went out in seventh or eighth place; since the payout for both was the same, they didn’t count the chips to see who’d been ahead.

If my back hadn’t been to the screen, I might have made the wiser choice to lay down and let the the endgame play out. We were just short of the big money in the tournament, players were going to have to make moves just to stay ahead of the voracious blinds, and I likely could have moved up the pay scale by letting the blinds wash over me. After another 20K for the small blind, I wouldn’t have had to deal with them for a few hands and there would have been time for someone else to bust out (which happened on the next hand).

Nine-and-a-half hours. Finished 7th/8th of 141 players. +210% ROI (including buy-in, add-on, tip).

The Poker Mutant at the Final Table

End of An Era, Pt. 7

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Sat quietly for 35 hands, then open-raised to 2.4BB with JA from HJ. BTN re-raised to 8BB and I called. Flop was 479, I bet 5.2BB, BTN raised to 16BB and I called. 7 for the turn. I bet all-in with 27.4BB and BTN folded, earning me 22.2BB.

Made my big killing with AA on BTN. HJ limped in, I raised to 3.2BB. Only called was HJ. Flop hit 84Q. HJ checked and I bet 2.8BB, getting re-raised to 5.6BB, which I three-bet all-in for 70.8BB. HJ called quick and showed QK. I took in 139.8BB total. Hung around for a while after that without managing to lose it but I should have exited and banked the profit before doing anything else.

32 minutes, 67 hands. +124BB.

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Just minor losses and fewer wins for fifty hands here, then I picked up JK as UTG3. Open-raised to 2BB, got calls from BTN and the blinds. Flop was T23 and we checked all around. 2 for the turn. I opened with 3.2BB bet, only SB stayed in. 8 on the river and I had second nut flush. SB went all-in and I had to follow. Of course he had the A.

Re-bought and laid low again for forty hands. Got QQ as UTG and raised to 2.2BB. UTG1 immediately three-bet to 8.6BB and everyone dropped out until it got round to me again. I four-bet to 46.8BB and this time UTG1 just called. The flop was 4TA and I put him to the test with an all-in of 42.4BB. He folded.

Nothing else really dramatic. I did manage to draw out 19BB from a pair of jacks by weak-playing some aces. I didn’t quite manage to make my original buy-in back.

40 minutes, 158 hands. 2 buy-ins. -28BB.

Full Tilt $4,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

Had a brief dip for a couple of hands at the beginning then with 1,830 chips and QA in my hand as SB I open-raised to 50 from 10/20. BB came along. Flop was a safe 3A7, I bet 100, BB went all-in for 2,340, and I called. He had bottom pair with T3. Two 4x showed for the turn and river and I was up to 3,680.

Had a few smaller wins after that but my participation was short. I had my own T3 in the BB at 20/40, with 4800 chips. Four players limped in and I checked my option. The flop looked good: 835. SB bet 200, I called, UTG went all-in for 5,760, and I was the only caller.He had 98 for top pair but I was a slight statistical leader going into the turn. That, unfortunately, was 9. Now I needed to make the flush or a 7x for a straight. It was 6 on the river, though, and I was out.

28 minutes, 29 hands. Finished 1,179 or 1,591 players. No bounties.

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Was down over 26BB (out of 80 to start) after 23 hands and got incredibly lucky on the river. Had K6 on BTN, open-raised to 2.2BB, BB re-raised to 3.8, I called, and I hit top pair on K57. BB checked, I bet 8BB, BB re-raised to 16, and I was all-in for 48.6. BB called and showed AA. Q for the turn seemed to spell doom, but my kicker paired the 6 river card, so I was positive again, with a win of 46.6BB.

Managed to increase it to a profit of more than 52% but didn’t get out for some reason. Then I overplayed JK against QQ—which drew a set on the flop—and lost nearly 58BB.

K6 came through for me again, putting me back into positive territory briefly, but AT lost out to a pair of kings, then my flopped set of jacks hit a set of aces on the turn and I was out.

23 minutes, 81 hands. -80BB.

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Skimmed along at the break-even point for most of this first game after the news of Black Friday broke. Only one win or loss greater than 6BB for eighty hands. Then, in the BB, I had 26 and two limpers ahead of me. The flop gave me two pair—6K2—but it was a bit weighted for a flush. Everyone cheched to the A on the turn. Everyone checked again. River was 8. SB went all-in for 54BB with a pot of only 3BB. It seemed like a steal, but it wasn’t. When I called he had the nuts: QJ.

I still had about 4BB left but that went away on the next hand.

21 minutes, 88 hands. -80BB.

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Got down more than two-and-a-half buy-ins in this last outing on the Rush tables for who knows how long. Managed to gain a little back with TQ outdrawing flopped double-paired KA to a club flush on the river.

39 minutes, 169 hands. -39BB.

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

The first thing I noticed on this tournament is that the guarantee has been dropped from its usual 10K to a quarter of that. Why am I playing it? How am I playing it? Apparently, the software updates haven’t caught up to me yet by this time Friday eventing. As for why, if the money’s just sitting there on Full Tilt, why not? It’s not like I’ll be able to get it any time soon.

I’m down to 1,365 after a few minutes, with K2 on BTN. I min-raise to 60, both blinds call. Flop is good-ish with 6K5. Both blinds check, I bet 180, BB calls. 9 for the turn, checks from both of us. 9 on the river. BB checks, I bet 300, he calls and his king kicker isn’t great but it’s better than mine: [kq]7. Down to 825.

I go all-in with 720 and KT from UTG1, A9 calls from BB, and I double up when I pair the ten on the flop. Then I take another hit down to 900 a quarter-hour in. A couple of good hands let me eke back up over 1,400 before I hit paydirt at the half-hour mark.

Blinds are 30/60. UTG1 limps in. I had AK as HJ and raise to 210. BTN and UTG1 call. Flop is ugly, with someone else’s flush draw and only an inside straight draw for me: Q2T. UTG1 checks, I go all-in for 1,167. BTN has only 875 and calls, he’s got a set: TT. My straight comes through on the turn with J. If UTG1 had the flush draw, they’d have been unhappy to see the A on the river. I take the pot and I’m up to 2,762. The EV graph in PokerTracker did not like that move.

I make another 500 with KA two hands later, then 600 with 75 a couple hands after that. That was pretty much the peak, though, and after that it was mostly downhill.

41 minutes, 124 hands. Finished 129 of 559.

And that was my last game on Full Tilt for a while.

The Midwest

Cake Poker Daily $800 PLO/8 Guaranteed (3,000 chips)

Tried this for a lark. First online cash play since Friday.

My first hand was TJ6Q as UTG in ten players at 10/20. I raised to 45 and there were three callers. Flop was JJ7 making me a set, and I half-potted to 105. One call. 3 on the turn, I bet the pot (420) and got a call. 2 for the river, we both checked, my set was the high hand and the other guy got a low. Most of the money in the pot belonged to us, so we only made a 60 chip profit.

Got 5J46 on the big blind. UTG raised to 70 and got three calls. SB re-raised to 440. I called and everyone already in the hand stayed in, so there were six players to the see the A87 flop. I had a low straight draw, when SB went all-in for 2,540 I called. UTG went all-in for less than the bet, UTG1 called, there was a fold, and BTN was all-in for another 10 chips. I called and UTG1 called. Turn was J, which didn’t do much of anything for me, but UTG1 raised his last 70 chips and I called with mine (he’d been the low I split the pot in the last hand). BTN showed AK65 for a pair of aces and one of my straight draws. SB had 3AJT for aces and jacks and an inside straight draw to the Jx. Things were looking grim for any real hand for me. UTG, with 3QKQ had to hope for a Tx to make Broadway to win. UTG2 had 9QTK to fill in the gap between the nut straight. The river was 4. Amazingly enough, I had a low hand with A4567 and took back my 70 chips from the last round of betting. BTN had the same low, and we split the rest of the low pots, with me taking a total of 3,905.

The fourth hand, I picked up QA53. I raised to 70 from BTN, SB re-raised to 120, UTG2 three-bet 460. Both SB and I called. 82T on the flop gave me the nut flush draw. I potted it to 1410, SB called for less, UTG2 went all-in for more than 5,500 and I called all-in. SB had J76A for not much of anything, UTG2 showed 48A2 for two pair. The turn and river were unclubbed: QK, turning SB’s not much into Broadway. He got the main pot of 5,130; the two-pair took 4,210 (a good bit less than he’d started the hand with, but then I got nothing).

5 minutes, 4 hands. First player of thirty permanently out because I refuse to rebuy.

Black Friday Freeroll

Encore Club $500 Guarantee Freeroll (5,500 chips)

I don’t know if this freeroll noon-time tournament was planned ahead of the Black Friday shutdown of the big online poker sites in the US, but it seems like an auspicious time for the local card rooms to try to step into the rather large void left by PokerStars and Full Tilt. Me, I’d  have played it anyway.

The game was at least 20 minutes late getting started, and about seven tables were full when one of the staff came around to drop off an extra red 500 chip for everyone in their seats. A couple table’s worth of stragglers came in during the first hour but for the most part everyone started with the bonus.

Ducks were all over the board during the game, and in fact my first win was holding 2x2x in BB as several of us limped to the flop, which was 5x5x2x. I stepped up the pressure with my full house and everyone folded.

My second take came with 67. The flop was a Qx8x5x, and apparently my open-ended straight draw was more awe-inspiring than anything anyone else had because another raise took it.

Flopped top two pair holding AxKx and grabbed some more. Forty-five minutes into the game at the 75/150 level I was holding 8,325 chips.

Pushed with A3 and won a pot of 1,400, which I promptly lost speculating on Ax6x.

The last hand before break 1, I had Ax6x again. The flop was Tx5x8x and there were several of us in the pot, with me leading out for 500. The turn was 9x and I was almost there, leading out with another 500. Finally, the 7x showed on the river and I bet 2,500 (keeping in mind that Jx could beat me), getting a call from the woman sitting to my left. We flipped our cards and the dealer called her as the winner, pushing out the 5x and 7x for two pair. The chips got pushed over to her and she started stacking before I got it together to ask what she’d won with, and I pointed out that my 6 should have been good for the straight. A couple of players backed me up and they and the dealer tried to reconstruct the pot, so I ended up with about 7K, which gave me 9,400 going into the break. I opted out of the add-on.

Once the action got going again, I had a couple of good hands. AxKx again and I raised 2,500 in a pot of 1,000 to pick that off. Confident play of AT managed to take down a pot of 8,000. By the end of the fourth level I had 18,900 chips.

Picked up AxTx again and raised 2500 on a queen-high flop with middle pair. Took in 6,600.

There’d been a discussion at the table about how KxQx was a losing hand. Another player and I went to war with me holding KxQx and Qx on the flop. I won a pot of more than 20K, then pointed out to the guys who’d been the biggest detractors that I’d just used their least-favorite hand to win the biggest pot at the table so far. Even though we had a different dealer than the previous hour, he managed to nearly screw this up for me, as well by forgetting to count the chips I’d put all-in after matching the raise until I prompted him.

ESPN poker commentator Norman Chad‘s least-favorite hand is AxQx, and indeed, it promptly lost me about 8K of my big win. Still, with seven-and-a-half minutes to go in level 6 (400/800) I had 26,000 chips.

Lost 12K on a flush draw with KQ but still somehow managed to finish the level and get to the second break with 22,800 chips.

After the break, we started up at 500/1,000. Promptly lost 6,500 with JxJx after an Ax showed on the flop. Took the blinds down with a 2,500 raise holding AxKx. Same raise on the next hand took the blinds but with AxAx I was really hoping for some action.

Won another hand with A3 with two more clubs on the flop and a raise. Wasn’t exactly making any headway, though because I still had only 22,000.

Tried to see the flop with 57 but just lost 2K at the 1K/2K level.

I opened with an all-in holding A5. Slightly larger stack called with 6x6x, then flopped a set. No diamonds for me.

About 190 minutes of play. Didn’t count the hands. Out about 30th of 75 players. More than $1,100 in the prize pool by the time re-buys and add-ons were made.