Return to Profitability?

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

I chugged along fine here for ten minutes, creeping up to 1,600 chips until my KA met a QQ on a JJJ flop. I was down to 310 chips after that and only lasted another three hands. 392nd place out of 1,198.

Cake Poker No Limit Hold’em (1,500 chips)

This was a no-guarantee game with 42 players. I had a good hand about half an hour in when I got eights full of fives on the river with Q8 to beat a flopped straight. I lost a lot of chips along with another player at the hour mark when each of us were holding jacks (J8 for him, J9 for me) and the flop rolled out 3J4. The spaded jack was first to act and went all-in for 1,605. The player between us called with another 760 behind and I re-raised to 3,210. A fourth player mucked but the second player to act called all-in, flipping over 44.

I was down to 1,655 and was lucky enough to get QQ on the  next hand so I threw it in pre-flop. I was in the big blind (125/250/20), two players ahead of me had gone in for 750 and the raiser went all-in to push the caller out. The queens were heads-up against 99 but the flop went down 74JT8 and the nines straightened out. If only one of them had been on the board instead of the 4! Out in 11th place with no money.

Cake Poker Roma Turbo 6-Max

Just had a little bit of money left in my Cake Poker account and put it into a ring game. Not only did my last hand of 77 get double-counterfeited by the Q898Q board, but the other guy had AA. – 135BB/100 hands.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Another classic example of me blowing the best position to bust out—or win a lesser prize, in this case. My first hand was a dreamy KK. I went to the flop after a re-raise and call with one other player. I got KA3 and made a doubled the pot with a bet of 555. He raised and I went all-in, getting a call. As I suspected, he had a very strong ace: QA but a pair was the best he could muster against my set and I was over 3,000 chips.

Only four hands later I was dealt QQ. A pair of cracked aces had eliminated another player, so there were two of us with stacks around the 3K level. I made a min-raise (to 40), got a call, was re-raised to 120, four-bet to 280 and got a call from the other raiser and we were heads-up. Once again I got a set on the flop: 58Q. I put out a tiny 60 chip bet into the pot of 620 to see if I could get a read and he raised to 800. He might have a flush draw or an over pair or another queen. Maybe a straight draw of some kind. I went all-in and got a call. He had a set with pocket 99. No 9 showed up so I was clear.

It was another set that cost me big. The table was down to five players. My stack was about 4,300, almost 1,500 ahead of anyone else. I was the big blind at 60/120 with a decent JT. The cutoff raised to 360 and I was the only caller. The flop looked very nice: T2T. I checked to see what he’d do and the bastard put out 780 to try to steal the thing from me! I put him all-in and he called. With AT. A 68 on the turn and river gave me four to a flush but that was how I lost 2,600 of my chips. I never managed to get back in to the top two slots for a Step 2 ticket.

Live by the kings, die by the kings. My last hand in the match was KK. We were down to four players. Everyone playing was assured of at last a Step 1 ticket. I was the small blind at 100/200. UTG raised to 400. I put another 1,000 on top of that, leaving 780 behind, hoping to indicate some ambiguity and wanting to get more than the blinds and the raise. Big blind folded and I got a call. The flop was a worrisome J8T but I went all-in. I got a call (the player was the same one I’d lost my chips to earlier) and he showed 98. I was ahead through the 6 on the turn but the Q on the river did the deed. 4th place and a Step 1 ticket.

Full Tilt Zoom Rush 6-Max

I don’t think there’s anything of note in the 111 hands I played in this cash game session. I almost recovered from a couple of 15-20BB losses. -4.5BB/100 hands.

Full Tilt Step 1 18-Player (1,500 chips)

JJ on the second hand here got me off to a good but unsustained start. I was over 2,000 almost immediately and the exact same hand ten minutes in put me past the 2,500 chip mark. I hovered around that point for about fifteen minutes, sank below 2,000 for twenty minutes, and very briefly managed to get up to 3,500 before slipping back down to starting stack territory (albeit at a somewhat higher blind level). 54 minutes, 78 hands, 11th place, no prize.

Full Tilt $10,000 Guarantee Early Antes (3,000 chips)

I’d been curious about the dynamics of these Early Ante tournaments. I didn’t find this one appreciably different from a standard tournament, the antes just aren’t large enough to make much of a difference when people are doing things like going all-in. At the early stages, the antes are slightly larger than the big blind but you’re talking less than 1% of the starting stack size with a 3K stack and blinds of 10/20/3. In the last level I played of this tournament (150/300/25) it’s no different than a regular tournament.

I took a big hit on the first hand of this game with a K7 in UTG position. I limped, UTG+1 limped, the cutoff raised to 100, both blinds called and we limpers went for the ride. The flop was T58 and everyone checked. The turn was 9, giving me an up or down straight draw. The small blind made a pot-sized bet of 524 and I was the only caller. The river was a useless 5, we both checked, and he turned over a 97. A king would have given me a better pair but my straight would have just been a draw.

I doubled up to 4,500 with AA twenty-five minutes in when KK had some bad timing. Forty minutes of languishing at the same level followed, with the inevitable minor ups and downs. Then with AT in my hand in the big blind at 50/100/10, five players limped in to a flop of ATJ. Possible Broadway straight, a flush draw, top pair with an extra pair for me. I checked after the small blind, the hijack position bet 690 with 2.300 more behind. The button called, the small blind folded, and I re-raised to 2,000 to give them something to think about. Hijack went all-in for 3,020 with everyone but me folding. 7,420 in the pot, he had JT, much to my relief and no jack appeared on the turn or river. I was over 9K and in the top 100 stacks.

A QA cost me 1,500 and smaller amounts of less than half that on decent, ill-timed hands, but the blinds and antes ground away at my stack until I was down to about 3,200 at the two-hour mark. There were about 320 players left out of more than 1,100 but only 108 payouts. I got 9K in UTG+2 and called (150/300/25) after action folded to me. The button raised to 1,200 and the blinds folded. He’d been fairly active, so I raised him all-in (3,309) thinking he might be trying a steal. He called, though, apparently feeling good about his 8T (he did have another 11.5K). I was ahead all the way. The next hand played out almost exactly the same way, except for the part where he had a crummy hand. I was out in 315th place of 1,139.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Typically, I don’t enter these more than once (and I’d never play multiple entries simultaneously) but my first entry into this evening’s MM! ended so heinously I had to go in again. I took a big hit on hand six with AT. I was in the big blind, heads up for a pot of just 180 chips with J29 on the flop. I bet 45, my opponent raised to 120, I called and the turn was Q. I put out 120 to test the waters—I had 1,200 behind—he raised to 420 (the “pot smoker raise”) and I called. 3 on the turn. I had nothing and folded when he went all-in. He flashed 4A after collecting his 1,260 profit. OK. I still had 900.

Three hands later. 8J. Heads-up again to the flop. 5T9. Up-and-down straight draw. Flush draw. Opponent checks to me, I raise 120 and get a call. T on the turn. Made flush, up-and-down straight flush draw. Opponent bets 180. He could have a higher flush, pocket nines or fives or ten-nine/five combos for a full house, four tens, or any number of drawing hands. I go all-in. He calls with KQ. Then the 4 shows on the river and his flush beats me.

Eight hands of humiliation wasn’t enough. I started another entry but ended up waiting nearly five minutes for the blinds to get to me to play. Cards are uncooperative and I’m down to 1,245 about thirty-five minutes into the game when I get TT. Blinds are at 80/160, UTG limps in and as UTG+1, I raise to 480. The small blind raises to 1,280 and the two stacks between us get out. I have to go all-in to call. He flips over QA but the board doesn’t cooperate with him, giving me a full house of fives over tens: 755K5. Two hands later the same player gets it all back with interest. I have KK in the big blind. Hijack goes all-in for 200. The guy I tangled with before is in the cutoff and calls, the small blind folds, and I raise to 1,000. There’s a call from the cutoff. The K32 flop gives me a set and I raise all-in. Cutoff goes all-in for less, leaving me 755 in the hole. 6 shows on the turn and 7 on the river. Cutoff has TQ for a backdoor flush and takes a pot of 4,390.

A K4 doubles me up with a flopped set of 4s a little later but spades fail me on the next had and I lose everything trying to triple up on a three-way all-in with A8 against TT and 77. The flop misses everyone and the tens win.

My first entry went out in 2,314th place. The second was 1,500th.

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

This was my “good” outing for the day. I entered rather late: nearly forty minutes in with blinds already at 60/120. My third hand, I was on the button with KT. There were two limpers ahead of me. I called and the small blind was in. The flop didn’t look good for me with 42A but everyone checked and I was the last to act, so I checked. The 8 on the turn improved my hand a bit and when the action folded around to me again I bet 320. I got one caller from a large stack to my immediate right. The 6 gave me the nut flush and when I bet 560 after a check the big stack folded.

I blew 300 entering a contest with 86 when one of the short stacks at the table was about to get knocked out. Missed the flop entirely and when the bets and raises started flying I folded. Eventually, two players fell to pocket AA held by the guy on my immediate left. I picked up about 1,200 with a 600 chip post-flop bet my next turn in the big blind holding T5 on a 7K2 board.

Clubs did well by me a little bit later, as well. I was in UTG+2 with 9K with blinds at 250/500/50. I called, as did UTG+3. The giant stack in the big blind checked. The flop was J7K and my 1,000 bet folded the other two players. The next hand I was dealt QA. I raised to 1,000 and the player to my left went all-in for 3,747 with only 2,200 in the pot. I had him covered by just over 1,000 and I called; he flipped AK. The board gave him a king on the river but with J56TK that was actually the last card he wanted to see, because it made my Broadway straight. I took a bounty and nearly 5K in profit to put me over 9,750.

A T9 combo just a couple of hands later in the big blind went up against a couple of limpers. I had nothing on the 65Q flop and both I and the other players checked it through. The T on the turn was interesting, although it could have been a real pain as I found out. I checked again but the first player after me bet 1,199 with 8,122 behind. There was a call from the button and I raised to 3,000. The original raiser folded but the button went all-in to call. 8J, so I wasn’t looking for another spade. The K on the river was wonderfully safe for my pair of tens and I got another bounty.

I pushed as high as 20K but had some setbacks and was down to about 12K by the end of my first hour in the game. 88 came to me on the button in the 800/1,600/200 level. There was an all-in raise of just under 10K, an all-in call for about 2,500, and a call from me with the blinds folding. The flop was a less-than-pleasing K59 but an 8 on the turn made it all good, even with A on the river. I took the 26K pot and two more bounties. Shortly after that—in the 1,000/2,000/250 level—the Mutant Jack appeared in its AJ avatar. I raised to 4,000 as UTG+1. UTG+2 re-raised all-in to 11,280, about half my stack. Everyone else folded and I called. We were interleaved, he turned over KQ. I got a A on the flop and nothing else mattered except the bounty and the 27K pot, which put my total up to 43.5K.

Those were the last of the good days though. I played forty more hands in the match and lost money on all but two of them to antes (from 250 to 600 per hand), blinds (3,000/6,000 by my last hand), or contests (just eight hands). My next-to-last hand I started with less than 10K (after losing 5,600 on the big blind with 74) and 9A. Not usually a hand I push with, but I was down to less than two big blinds. UTG, sitting on far from the largest stack at the table with 60K, raised to 15K. Action folded to my paltry stack of 9,300 (with 2,500 already in for the small blind) and I went all-in. It was a race against 66 but I caught my A on the turn.

I was out on the next hand, though, calling an all-in from a 92K stack with a better ace kicker than my 9.

Five bounties and a small cash for an ROI of 271%. 95th out of 1,774 entries.

Mutiny of the Bounty

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

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

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

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

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

Full Tilt Step 0 Super Turbo (300 chips)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Landing On Step 3

Full Tilt Step 2 (1,500 chips)

Playing with the ticket I won earlier, I don’t manage to get ahead in the first fifty hands. A 3BB raise with JA early on just gets me the blinds; I pick up 150 with a 57 in the big blind when a couple of players limp in and the flop of 869 gives me a straight; AA in the small blind gets me 240. But when I push a smaller stack’s all-in with an all-in of my own holding AQ, he turns over TT and neither of my over cards connect. I manage to double up and get back as high as 1,150 before my 9A all-in is called and out-kicked by TA and I’m back at the foot of the steps.

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

I like this little bounty tournament althoughI’m at a loss as to why. I’d have to check to see if I’ve picked up any bounties, and I know I haven’s cashed in it. It’s cheap and it’s there if I’m not playing Midnight Madness (or if I’ve busted out). I came into this edition late, with blinds already at 50/100, lost 333 on my first contested hand, and the rest of it only fourteen hands in when my KT got clobbered by QQ that would have had me beat even if my straight draw had come through.

Full Tilt Step 1 (1,500 chips)

I caught a very lucky KK just four hands in. UTG limped in for 30 and I raised from UTG+1 to 120. UTG+2 called, then everyone but UTG folded. The flop was 29T and UTG opened with 405. I shoved all-in, +2 folded like a good boy and UTG called for slightly less than I had. My kings beat his tens—although he was one card from a straight by the river—and I eliminated a player.

I stayed up over 3,000 as chip leader with some small induced folds, then had 87 on the button with five players left and blinds at 50/100. I’d slipped to second place, the big stack was in the small blind. UTG called, I called, and the small blind called for four players to the flop, which was T9Q. After checks from the blinds, UTG made a pot-sized bet and I doubled it. Straight flush here I come! The blinds dropped out and UTG went all-in for an amount that would leave me with only about 1,400. Naturally, I called. I got a straight with a 6 on the turn. The A still didn’t give me a flush but I was up to 5,300+. My own KT knocked another player out a little later when I flushed to beat not only his 66 which tripped up in the flop but a straight on the board: 73654.

I tried letting the two remaining players battle it out but they were taking so long the blinds ate away 1,500 of my 9,000 chips and I figured I’d better make my presence known when I could. I had about 6,600 in the small blind at 80/160, the big blind had 4,200 and the button had 2,700. I was dealt KA, the button made a min raise, I re-raised to 640, big blind folded, button called. The flop was a rather ugly 6KQ but I raised all-in and got a call. I had the better made hand but with QA it was far from over. Fortunately, diamonds are my best friend and the rest of the cards were 64. No flush, no more queens. Just a Step 2 ticket for me and guy in the big blind.

Full Tilt Step 2 (1,500 chips)

An early JJ pops me up to 2,000 but I nearly get felted 34 hands in when I get over-confident and call an all-in with AJ. The all-in turns out to be AK and I drop to 530 chips. It doesn’t help that the other ticket winner from the previous game is in this one and is either an ardent admirer or has a novel method of making me a target by appearing to be a sycophant, praising every win and warning people getting into hands with me that they’re going to be sorry. I manage to double up twice in the next eight hands, with a K5 that pairs the top card on the flop and then 88 in my pocket, each of which sets off a barrage of admiration and my own attempts to deflect.

I lose another big pot to the same player as before with an out-kicked king (he’s got KA this time) and have to build my way back up from the sub-1K region again. We’re down to five players, I have 1,160 in the big blind at 100/200 and I’m dealt AQ. The guy who’s been beating me is first to act with a call. My fanboy’s on the button with 1,925 and raises to 900. The small blind folds and I shove all-in. UTG raises all-in—he’s the largest stack by far with 5,875—and the button preserves his remaining 1,025 with a fold. When the cards flip UTG has TT but he’s in a bit worse shape when the flop shows Q89. Another Q on the turn closes just means he has fewer chances for a straight, but the 8 on the river makes my full house instead. I move from fifth place to second, with 3,320 chips. Another 88 gets me 600 more chips.

Then I spend twenty-five hands waiting for a good opportunity as my stack shrinks from 3,800 to 1,700. I have to make a move at 120/240 and get very lucky with an all-in from the small blind holding 2A. By the turn I have a six-high straight and the A9 of my nemesis is busted. (My fan is gone by this time, thankfully). After my double-up, nemesis and I are relatively even at around 3K while the chip leader is at 7K.

I’m able to push a little better with a larger stack and—frankly—a better run of cards. I creep slowly up through the 4,000s and into the 5K range while meanwhile my nemesis doubles through the chip leader. Now we’re even at about 5,250 while the former chip leader is just above 2,500.

I manage to bump up to more than 7K with 87 in the big blind at 200/400 with a rivered nine-high straight. The two other players are now at about 3K. The non-nemesis opponent goes all-in from the button when I have AQ and I go all-in. He’s got just 2A, the Q shows on the turn, and the match is over after seventy minutes including sixteen just three-handed (there are two winners, so there was no heads-up play).

Full Tilt Step 3 (1,500 chips)

This game looked rather grim. I’d made it to Step 3 before only to crash and burn. Sixty hands and thirty-five minutes in, with blinds at 50/100 and only five players left and I was under the starting stack. Then a KJ in the big blind met up with a QAT flop and I pushed everyone away from 1,850 chips with an all-in for my straight. On the small blind the next hand my JQ double-paired on the river of a AKJ9Q board. A little scary but the all-in forced another fold for a profit of 1,350.

Three hands later I had the same combo in slightly different suits: JQ. I was the first to act and limped in for 120; I was heads-up against the big blind. The flop was a pretty safe 6Q2. Big blind bet 180 and I called. The 9 didn’t look scary to me and I matched the bet of 400. I figured a KT could have me beat on when J showed on the river, but I matched the 1,570 all-in bet and when he showed 96 it was mine.

I maintained top position three-handed at about 7K, hoping my two opponents with 3,500 each would weaken each other, to no avail for ten minutes. Then I matched a 480 raise from the small blind while I was in the big blind holding T8. The 383 flop gave me two pair but I should have been more leery of the 480 post-flop bet. I raised all-in and was called by A3. An A on the turn just made it worse and I was reduced to 3,700. A couple of hands later my all-in call with JQ failed to improve and was beat by 66, putting me out with another chance at Step 3.

Full Tilt Step 3 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

I re-raised a 3BB raise with AA ten minutes into this two-table match, inducing a three-bet all-in that I called. I was up against QQ and another ace showed on the flop, putting me in an early lead. I kept the lead as the table shrank through elimination and balancing to six players, then ran my TA into JA and lost 1,200 chips. A freak river 7 paired my A7 to wipe out a JA and put me over 5K. Then another four-flush struck when I stupidly contested the big stack’s big blind and I dropped from third place and a sure Step 4 ticket to sixth and Step 3 again.

The Nines

How could I have forgotten? During the $5K guarantee KO game I was dealt 99 in the small blind (15/30). I was the second-largest chip stack at the table, with about 4,500. Four of the six others were between 570 and 1,900. Short-stacked UTG went all-in for 570, the button called (leaving 1,070 behind), and I called. The flop was 6K9. Pocket kings had me beat, but I wasn’t too worried.  I thought I’d see how far the button was willing to go on his own, and checked. The button checked and the turn card was 6. Now pocket 6s also had me but I went all-in for almost 4K. I guess the button didn’t think I had much. He called. Then the 9 showed up on the river. When the cards went over, the small stack had KT for a higher two pair than the TA of the bigger stack, but neither beat my two pairs of nines. Two bounties and 3,880 chips.

Cashing

Somehow I missed two whole days, but in the meantime I managed to cash for small amounts several times.

Things didn’t start off well, however, with a $3K guarantee Cake R&A game on Wednesday evening. My biggest pot ever was in a $5 re-buy (in which I did not re-buy) but generally I try to avoid both re-buying and playing in re-buy tournaments. I never managed to get my poker legs, re-bought twice, but even the add-on couldn’t save me.

I entered a $1K turbo tournament at the 75/150 level with 1,500 chips, gained a little ground, then managed to double up with KK. Then I almost lost it all and things were looking grim with less than 1,000 chips at 200/400/40 until I managed to arrest the tailspin and get up over 8K, then settle down to about 5K at 400/800/75. By the 600/1200/120 level I’d been whittled down to 2K when my AJ ran into AQ on my all-in and I went out in 21st place of 181, with 81% ROI.

A $1K turbo 6-max put me out on hand 23 when I called the all-in of a KJ with AK. Naturally, the jack paired on the turn.

A bounty tournament with a $1K guarantee was the last game on Cake in this series. The only bounty I saw was the one I generated, though. Blinds were 75/150 and UTG+1 had limped in. I raised to 550 from UTG+2 with AQ. Action folded back around to UTG+1, who went all-in for 3,875, more than my 2,617. I called and was just a little behind his 55. Two spades hit the board but the pair held up and I was out.

Late Thursday night I moved over to Full Tilt and played the $36K Rush Guarantee which was about 20 minutes in. It’s both re-buy and multi-entry but I didn’t do either and was felted after about half an hour when my KJ came one card short of drawing to a king-high straight to beat a pair of kings.

Last night it was back to Midnight Madness. It was a slow and steady climb without any real setbacks from the starting stack of 1,500. I think the one real mistake I made was my final hand, calling a larger all-in with JT which had served me well earlier in the tournament. With 15K and blinds at only 250/500/50, I could have given up the $1K bet I’d made, then made a deeper run than 560th and better ROI than 23%.

Despite not having had the best of luck playing simultaneous tables in the past, for most of Midnight Madness I was also participating in a $5K guarantee KO game, with a $0.50 bounty for each player. I don’t know if I was less inclined to take fliers of dodgy hands because I had two games going or if I was just playing well or lucky, but I hit the money here as well. This game was a bit less even than Midnight Madness. I did take in six bounties but at one point I lost more than 6K in the space of five hands with AK and AK (picking up 9,400 with AJ over AQ did sort of make up for that). I lost half a 23K stack with QT when my queen paired on the board but so did that of a player with AQ. I managed to get up to 36K by the time the blinds were 500/1,000/125, then lost a chunk when my AT paired the top card on a T58 flop but lost to pocket QQ. Nothing connected after that and it was AJ running into KA that put me out with four hearts on the board—62A Q 2—and a flush for the better hand. 226th place and my bounties was good for an ROI of 184%.

Tomorrow morning is the weekly Irish Open semi-final qualifier. Only about twenty people registered so far and at least three tickets to the monthly final, which is in the early afternoon and will have more than thirty folks chasing a single $7K prize package plus about $3,850 in cash for second through fourth place.