I keep going back to The Final Table despite the fact that the only time I’ve ever cashed there was in the Santa Bounty game last Christmas. My ITM there is truly horrible, unless you limit it to events with 50 or more players, and then my rate’s pretty much the same as it is anywhere else in town with 50 or more players. The only event I cashed in there, I made it to the final table of 131 players. These two games show a screw-up and just plain bad luck.

The Final Table $1,000 Guarantee (T7,000)

Started off with the extra T1,000 because I signed up on-time. Picked up KT UTG with a flush draw on the flop of A2A and hit my flush with 5 on the turn but it made a full house for my opponent who called with Ax5x.

Made a least flush on the flop with A3 and took down a T3,000 pot about twenty minutes into the game, then went up against KxQx with KxTx and top pair on the flop. We both drew down to four spades on the board, which kept the pot smaller since neither of us had one. I was holding T8,350 after that hand.

9T and I made a jack-high straight on the turn. I bet 650 and shoved over a re-raise to felt a player half-an-hour in. T12,150 and I got moved to a newly-opened table.

Forty minutes into the game, I called 1,600 early with JxTx. Two pair on the flop and a full house on the river and I tripled up against two all-ins. Then I lost T6,000 almost immediately as SB drawing for a flush with 35. QxTx made a full house on the turn. Three-quarters of an hour into the game and I was still sitting on T28,125, with the chip average at just T7,655.

Kicked myself a bit for folding Jx6x when I would have double-paired on the flop and hit a river boat in a hand with two players all-in.

Played JxQx and raised to 600, calling a re-raise to 1,800 pre-flop, then folding to an all-in on the 3x3x[x] flop. Down to T24,800.

Lost several thousand with Q7 against 8x9x on a flop of 6x7x8x. I had trips on the turn, but a Tx river card made his straight.

Ten minutes later, I lost more than half my stack with KxKx again, calling an all-in against pocket sixes that made a set on the flop. I went into the break with just T7,825. The add-on more than doubled me up.

I called with 74 and hit the 9x7x6x flop lightly. I bet 1,100 and got a call then hit my 4x on the turn and managed to get an all-in called to take it down with two pair. That put me back up to T27,700, with the average at T17,733.

Raised to 1,000 from UTG2 with A9. The flop was 727 and I folded to a 2,500 bet.

Two hours in on BB with Q3 and the flop was all diamonds. I called the bets down to the river to see another diamond and bet 2,300 to win without a showdown.

T33,525 at two hours and five minutes.

Raised with AT to 1,200 and got four calls. Everyone checked it to the river which turned up a king. The BB won.

I raised to 1,500 from CO with QT and got an uncomfortable Ax96 flop, then folded to a 2,500 bet.

My next BB I had AxKx and re-raised to 3,800 from 800, getting an all-in from SB, which I called. He had 9x9x, the flop was AxJx[8] and the rest of the cards didn’t matter.

Two-and-a-half hours in and I was up to T34,450. Then I lost a chunk with J5 against KxQx. I was ahead on the JxAx8x flop but running tens gave him Broadway. Ten minutes later, my stack was at T28,800 (average T26,600), there were 20 players left, with 17 re-buys and 29 add-ons.

With 45 from BB, I saw a Kx2x2x flop then called a bet of 3,200 after the five on the turn. Another 1,200 went down the hole calling 1,200 on the river six. I was out soon after with Ax9x against KxKx.

Three hours. 17th of 33 players.

The Waiting Game

Portland Players Club Road to Pendleton $1,500 Guarantee (7,000 chips)

Both my regular Monday night games were off this week, so I took the hint from the SMS messages I kept getting and headed over to PPC for an 11am game. I’d started my tally of live games with a couple of wins in early May at PPC, but their summer schedule wasn’t in sync with my habits and I hadn’t been in for a bit. Somehow, I managed to hit the final table with a big chip lead, and while I was probably 2:1 over the guy who made it to heads-up with me I suggested an even chop since the amount of money was only $200 total. After a re-buy, add-on, and tip, that left me more than enough to enter the evening’s guarantee tournament. On top of the prize money, PPC was adding a $200 buy-in to the Wildhorse Fall Poker Round-Up for the first-place winner and a $100

I picked up a 1,000 early-registration bonus chip then played absolutely no hands through level 1. On my first turn as BB in level 2, I was dealt 4x4x. A raise was made to 475 pre-flop with several callers and a 4x hit on the flop. I checked and by the time action got around to me again there were two all-ins, I called, and both of them were on draws. QT won the hand with a flush on the turn. I re-bought.

Small blind with my new stack and I had KxKx, a considerably better pair. I bet it on the flop heads-up and took a small pot.

Played AxQx and cautiously walked to the river against another hand who showed just Kx-high when we got there. At the end of the second level, I was holding 9,450 chips. Above the starting stack but not the sum total of chips I’d received during the tournament by a piece.

Controversy ensued when I called an all-in with JT and knocked out a player with AxKx. I gave my opinion on the relative strengths of JTs, but there was a some snorting and hooting.

My luck with flushes proved itself again when I dropped 4,000 chips on K4 with two more clubs on the flop and I didn’t get there. My stack was up to 10,925 at the 55-minute mark.

The last hand before the second break, I had Jx9x and the flop was KxTxTx. All I needed was a Qx but I got better. Thankfully, I stuck to the hand, because both the turn and river were 9x9x. I called a big raise and the guy asked me if I’d had the Tx. I said: “No, but I have the 9x.” That didn’t set well. The win and a 5,000 chip add-on gave me 22.600 with 47 of the 49 original players left.

Raised with AxJx to 625 but whiffed the 9xTx3x flop. I bet another 1,600 but two callers followed me down and with a 3x on the turn I check-folded to a bet. Then I blew more than 3,000 chips trying to play the Tx2x “Brunson” hand. I made top pair on the flop 7T9 but J on the turn killed the action for me.

Another 5x5x from CO took the blinds and the single caller ahead of me. I was at 18,100 with twenty minutes left in the second hour.

I nearly made the wheel with Ax4x on a board of Qx2x3x6x2x, but the 35 of J—one of the dealers at PPC—made his pair. My own spades shortly thereafter (48) had to fold to a re-raise of 1,600 from 400. I pushed 5,000 after a raise to 1,000 with blinds at 200/400; I did not record the hand I did not play. Even that got me only to 16,100 at the two-hour mark.

Took the blinds again with a 2,300 raise and A9, then I just about doubled by knocking out a player. I held K2 and made bottom pair on the flop. He shoved post-flop with AT. I took a little time to call and he never made a pair. It was kind of fun, because he’d been one of the whiniest about my JxTx call.

Didn’t even get to count my chips before a hand came up with JxJx. I shoved all-in from late position, the guy on my left called immediately and flipped over KxKx. What else was he going to do? That cost me 5,475, and even with the knockout, I’d only made it to 17,775 by 2:15 into the tournament.

There were 34 players left when the second break started.

Missed a Broadway draw for 4,500 and 5,000 on a miserable misguided attempt to do something with 6x2x. Half-an-hour later another 11,000 had been whittled off.

I went out in style with JT I pushed pre-flop and got called by QJ.

Three hours. -100% ROI. Placed 30th of 49.

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.