Home, Again


I wasn’t sure how I was going to make my return to Portland poker after my unproductive stint in Las Vegas. I thought about the Thursday night game at the Encore Club, but skipped it, then was too busy early Saturday evening to make starting time for the weekly $10K there. By the time I was free, the first break would have already begun, and there was no way I could make it across town. So the 9pm $200 Freeroll at Portland Players Club it was.

Except that when I got there the door was locked and there was a sign saying they were closed for the evening. Yikes! I was on the loose, Encore wouldn’t have a game open for an hour, I was probably too late to make the 8pm at Aces. It just left the dreaded Final Table. So I high-tailed it out Glisan.

The Final Table $400 Guarantee NLHE (T4,000)

I got to Final Table just as Level 1 was ending and took a seat at the empty second table. I had to wait a couple of minutes for the first table to be split, and were started off five-handed.

Took the first hand I played (at 50/100), from SB with AxTx. There were three players to the flop, the highest card on the board by the turn was a 9, and I bet 100 to win the poison pot, so you know where this story’s going.

Fifteen minutes into my game, I got AxJx on BTN and open-raised to 300, getting called by SB. BB went all-in for 3,000. I had him covered by 75 and went all-in, and SB came along. They flipped over KxQx (SB) and AxTx (BB). I had the best hand, but I was statistically a hair behind the KxQx. The flop put out a wheel draw of 2x3x5x , but the turn was a king, sending my hopes into a tailspin. The river brought relief with a 4x, though, and BB and I chopped up the pot, with me getting an extra 75 for my trouble.

Five minutes later, on BB with AxJx and I called 550 from UTG1 (same guy who’d been BB in the split). UTG (who’d had the money in the pot when we chopped it) came along again. The flop was 2x3x4x and I mischievously shoved to open. UTG1 called with AxQx but the board double-paired and we split the pot again.

Ten minutes later, I wasn’t so lucky. I was all-in UTG1 with AxJx after losing a hand and the same player I’d been tangling with called with KxJx He pulled out a straight on the river and I broke the No Re-buy Rule.

I stopped keeping notes after that, wondering if I’d do any better paying more overt attention to what was going on, but it didn’t help. By the break I was down to a half starting stack again, and I lost most of my add-on in a single hand, so I was riding the short stack through to the final table (I did manage to outlast the guy I’d been tangling with).

Made a couple of crucial double-ups, but I was still under T10,000 after nearly three hours of play, with blinds at 1,500/3,000/300. I shoved UTG with AQ and got a quick call from UTG1, who’d been steadily accumulating chips all evening with sometimes marginal (but lucrative) calls. Her KxTx did it again, making Broadway and putting me out of the first tournament I’d played in ten days.

Two hours and twenty minutes (late arrival). Eighth of 21 players.

Final Table NLHE Shootout

I’m not normally a shootout player, but I was roped into this one and since I’d been knocked out of the tournament twice by hands that I had beat by 3:1 or 2:1, I viewed it as an opportunity to use up some more of that great luck. I never managed to get ahead far in the game, but I ended up just a few dollars down, and managed to qualify for the high hand bonus for the evening when my pocket tens matched up with a rivered ten to make the best full house possible on the board. So, up a little for the evening because of a fluke.

The Big Push

It’s been a busy couple weeks here at Mutant Poker Central, as I get ready to head down to Las Vegas to see if the minor success I’ve had in Portland can finally translate to an out-of-town venue. So far, I’ve struck out at Foxwoods, the Venetian (twice), and Pendleton, but the number of events I’ve played too small to be statistically significant.

So much to do with plans to be in Vegas for two weeks. First off, my venerable card cover—the helmet off of a figurine of Professor Frink from The Simpsons—has seen a lot of wear over the past couple of years. I’ve been hoping to find a way to get it machined in aluminum and asked a friend with a CNC machine shop about it but, as expected, he said it would cost an incredible amount of money to get it made. He did mention that there were 3D printers who did metal pieces, though (he has a plastic 3D printer) and when I looked into it, I found Shapeways.com, which will print your 3D designs in just about everything from plastic to glass to silver to a stretchy polymer. All of my 3D design software is on my old pre-Intel Mac, and at first I was a bit stymied about how I was going to develop the model but eventually I managed to pick up enough about the free, open-source 3D tool Blender to get my model done in a day. With a couple of missteps, I managed to get an order in for copies in alumina and stainless steel and hopefully they’ll arrive before I set off for Vegas (didn’t happen, but they arrived in Portland the night I left and someone special is going to ship them). If you’re from Oregon and you see the cap, say hi to the Mutant.

Then I got an offer of a free room from MH—Portland player and fellow college alum—for nearly half my stay, so that was fine. I spent an evening running an alumni tournament with him during the annual reunion weekend. Paying bills up, getting some decent summer clothes together (it’s supposed to be 108° in Vegas next week). A lot of stuff to do. Since I’m driving down (and it’s supposed to be 108° in Vegas), get the car checked out for its 50,000-mile service.

Plus, of course, there’s the last-minute drive to build up the bankroll a little bit.

Encore Club $1,800 Guarantee Freezeout (T8,000)

I wasn’t taking perfect notes on this tournament, but I hit something in the first ten minutes on a 7x7x7x3x3x board that put me up about 1,700 chips.

I played K3 from SB at the half-hour mark and hit the bottom of the flop, but a jack and a bet of 1,500 on the turn made me fold, so I was back down to 8,800 after that hand.

UTG1 with Ax2x and a min-raise got three calls but I won the hand.

At the 45-minute point, I called a 1,025 chip all-in post-flop holding Qx8x on a  QxKxTx flop. He had KxTx and boated on the turn with Kx. I boated on the river with Qx but nobody cared.

SB with T4 and the flop was Tx4xTx. I checked, then raised to 2,000 over a 600 bet. Maybe I should have just called.

T11,100 at fifty minutes.

4x4x on UTG1, I tried to get people off, but the flop was horrible.

BB holding 67 and I double-paired on the flop but had to gut out a raise with a flush draw on the turn until 6x on the river made my full house and my all in won the pot.

In SB with 68 on the next hand and I saw a flop of 5x5x6x. Bet 600 and won the pot.

CO two hands later and I got 9x9x I raised 700, BB goes all-in and gets two calls. Flop is KxQx7x and I bet 600. The other player calls but folds to another bet on the river and I knock out BB.

At the break, I have T24,350.

My first big hand after the bread was AxQx. I made a full house on the flop (aces over queens) and took most of the stack of a player with AxKx. Then I picked up the suited AQ on the next hand and won against two all-ins, putting me up to 39,900 at 90 minutes.

I made a flush on the turn with J7 and took the last 3,500 from another player. Ten minutes later, I was up to 53,100.

With 7x3x UTG1, I bet on the 6x6x7x flop but folded to a raise of 2,100 from BB. Action on that hand and a couple previous took me down under 50,000.

UTG with KxJx, I called, then called a raise to 2,000 from BB. Folded to a bet on the 3x3x5x flop.

Raised to 1,300 from SV with Ax2x and BB re-raised 3,300 all-in. I called the extra 2,000 and lost to AxKx. By the time I was in HJ position, just before the end of the second hour of play, I was down to 44,200, but the average stack was still way down at 13,700, with 35 of 60 players left.

In UTG3, called a UTG2 raise to 1,600 along with the BB but folded to a UTG2 bet on a low flop.

Just after the hour, I was down to 39,200 (average: 14545). 33 players left.

Raised with K4 to 1,800 and was heads-up to the flop of 4x5x7x. A bet of 2,200 took it down.

UTG with KT and I raised to 1,800 again, getting a flop of AxQx8x. I folded to an all-in.

On BB, I folded Ax8x to two all-ins (the largest of which was only 4,200). The other two players were Ax8x and AxQx, and the eight won with a pair, so I would have chopped up one of the players.

My count when the button came around at 140 minutes was T37,100, still more than twice the T16,000 average. Half the field was gone.

I laid low for a couple of hands, then played KT UTG3 and raised to 1,600. UTG3 went all-in and I called against 5x5x to knock out another player. I really ought to have been playing a bounty tournament.

UTG with A8 a few minutes later and I raised to 1,600, getting a call. The flop was 4x4x8x and I bet 10,000 to win.

Two-and-a-half hours into the game and I was back up to T43,200. 25 players left and the chip average was T19,200.

A raise to 2,500 from HJ with 79 took the blinds fifteen minutes later; when I was UTG2 at 2:50 (with 22 players left) I had T44,400, still 213% chip average.

UTG ten minutes later with 77 and I raised to 3,600 with blinds at 800/1,600. BB called and the flop was Qx9x6x. I went all-in after he checked and took the pot.

By the time I was BTN again five minutes later, there were only 19 players remaining, I was holding steady at T44,600.

Fifteen minutes later, I noted that I knocked out a player but couldn’t remember with what. In any case, the number remaining was down to 17, and I had reached T63,000, 223% of average.

I promptly lost over 10,000 holding 2x2x in CO with a three-bet to 5,000. UTG went all-in with 7x7x and I called, so halfway into the third hour I was back down to T49,200, this time only 143%  of the chip average with 14 players left.

Raised to 5,000 from CO with KxJx and took the blinds, but I was down to T47,200 on my next BTN with the average at 40,000 and 12 players left. 2x2x did me in again there when I called a 6,500 raise and folded to an all-in on a KxQx8x flop.

Then I lost 13,000 as CO with QxTx after I folded to an all-in over my 6,500 raise.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the third hour saw me below the average stack for the first time since the beginning of the game, with just T28,000 (70% of average).

Then, about ten minutes later, I picked up AxAx in SB and raised to 6,500 to win a hand and opened from BTN to 7,000 with 46 to take down the blinds.  I tried the same thing UTG1 with A3 and got three calls to see a flop of 5x7x9x but folded to a BB all-in.

Just after midnight (four hours), I’d clawed up to T30,000. With 11 players remaining, that was still losing ground, though, at 69% of average.

The blinds were eating away at my stack. Without much in the way of what even I consider playable cards, I was down to 25,500 and then 19,500 after the next two passes of the button.

UTG with 8x8x I shoved and was called by both a short stack and BB. They had 6x6x and 5x5x, but a set on the flop for me pretty much guaranteed my win.

Next hand, an all-in with AxQx over a SB limp took it down.

In the course of the next round of the button, I was up to T113,000, above the average of 80,000, with six players remaining. I was the chip leader by 1,000. We did a 6-way ICM chop; my lead (0.21% of the chips) was worth an extra $5 0.14% of the pot).

Five hours. +925% ROI. Six-way ICM chop, 60 entries.

Encore Club $5,000 Guarantee (T9,000)

Fifteen minutes in, I call a raise to 250 in a 3-way pot from UTG2 and get a 9x7x2x flop. Bottom pair and bad kicker! Just my type of hand! I called 350 to see a seven on the turn, then BYN bet 600 and I folded. BTN showed 9x9x.

UTG1 with QxJx and I call 375 in a 4-way pot. I’m on safer territory with Qx6x4x and a bet of 700 takes it down.

UTG with A6 and I called 900 on a flop of Ax2x5x  but something about a bet on the turn scared me off and I folded.

8x4x on BB and I called down to the river after a flop of Kx7x5x but I didn’t get anywhere.

On CO (what? I didn’t play two hands?) I raised to 250 with AQ and got three calls. Ended up losing to 2x4x and a wheel possibility on the board that I completely missed. Thirty-five minutes in and I was down to T5,350.

I raised UTG3 with J9 and got two calls. A bet of 1,000 on the J75 flop won; I was kind of hoping all they put me on was a flush draw. That got me a few hundred back.

I saw the flop with both my blinds; by the time I was on BTN I was back down to T5,500.

Just after the first hour, I raised 450 from late position with A8 and was re-raised to 1,700 by BTN. Encore reg SH shoved from SB. I folded. I don’t remember what BTN or SH had, but I remember it didn’t beat what I would have had with two clubs on the flop and another on the turn.

I’d been moved to the same table as my poker league capo, DV, and when I limped UTG with KQ, he raised to 1,700. I shoved and he called with TxTx. I doubled up. The usual conversation about suited vs. unsuited broke out. I think I’m going to start explaining it this way:

Say you’re in a tournament and there’s going to be a chop of $100,000. You haven’t got a large stack, so you’re not going to get the bulk of the money, but you’re offered a choice of $12,000 or $15,000. Is the $12,000 just as good because there’s only a $3,000 difference? No! $15,000 is much better than $12,000, because it’s 25% more, in relative terms.

Of course, where that explanation breaks down is in the fact that poker odds are a zero-sum equation. It doesn’t matter in a chop if you’re taking money from someone (unless you really hate them), but when your hand’s odds improve in poker it is at the expense of your hand losing. If you have a 12% chance of winning a pot, you have an 88% chance of losing. That’s a ratio of 1:7.33. If your hand improves to 15%, it can only lose 85% of the time, which is a ratio of 1:5.66. That’s considerably better. The math skills of my fellow Americans dismay me.

Anyway, I was up to T8,450 at seventy-five minutes; not quite back at starting stack.

With KT I raised on a Kx5x6x flop and BB went allin for 1,700 (even shorter stacked than me). I called and he showed bottom two pair, but a king turn and a ten on the river made my house full and my stack slightly more so.

At the half-hour when I was UTG1 again, I was up to T10,100, and I bought the T6000 add-on at break.

I laid low for most of the first half-hour then flopped Broadway heads-up with QJ. I checked, then bet 2,000 on the queen turn and won.

UTG with AxAx and I raised 1,000, then called a re-raise. An ace hit the flop, my opponent bet and I raised all-in. He called with AxKx and I knocked him out.

That gave me a little momentary fred, so when I raised to 1,300 from HJ with Q6, nobody peeped.

As the button approached again early in the third hour, I’d managed to get up to T29,525, almost 40% above chip average, with 93 of 117 players remaining.

The third hour was quiet, with me picking up some small pots but no major hands. Half-an-hour in, I was up to T32,425. Then ten minutes later I tried a raise of 1,800 with 9xTx from HJ, got a call, checked the AxJx2x flop, then folded to a bet of 3,500 from BTN. Blinds were up to 600/1,200/200.

UTG with Q6, I raised to 2,500 and was raised by BB. I called and saw a QxQx7x flop. He shoved and I called for the knockout. A queen in the next hand meant another knockout, then I was moved to a new table, where I sat down with T77,000 (average 31,285). With just 63 players remaining, half the field was gone at the end of the third hour.

Didn’t do much for the first half-hour; when I was on the button after three-and-a-half hours of play,  had T73,600.

Then, as CO, I called 1,600 with Qx8x in a 5-way pot. The flop was AxTx9x and I stayed with it to the river as everyone checked it, but didn’t go anywhere and folded to a bet without even a pair.

Ten minutes later, I lost a chunk trying to draw a straight with Qx9x, but with an all-in on the turn, I folded and I was down to T53,000.

UTG with AxJx. I call 2,000. Action folds to SB, who calls. BB checks. Flop is Jx8x5x and BB bets 3,000. I raise to 15,000 and he calls. On the river, we chop the pot. T59,100.

AxAx again, this time on BTN. UTG goes all-in, HJ calls, I shove, and HJ open folds 8x8x, which would have won on the river if he’d stayed in. Another knockout.

I call a raise to 6,000 with JxKx and the flop is KxTx6x. He bets another 6,000, I raise to 13,000, then he shoves and I fold.

T65,000 at midnight, after four hours of play, but a quarter-hour later I’m down to T52,800. Then I move tables again.

In SB, I call 12,000, flop 9x8x6x and shove, getting called by QxQx and losing 22,500.

BTN a couple minutes later, all-in with KxJx over a call. SB calls with AxQx but I make a straight on the turn and double back.

In UTG3, I’ve got 36,900, with the chip average at 56,314. 35 players left, blinds 2,000/4,000/500.

UTG2 with A2, I raise 9,000. BB goes all-in for 1,600 more and I call. He has 9x8x, the board is Ax9x3x3x2x, and I knock out another. T52,500.

BB with Q5 and SB calls. Two clubs on the flop and a five on the river and I manage to knock him off. I pop up to T95,500, back above the 61,593 average, with 32 players remaining.

Blinds up to 3,000/6,000/500 and I called an all-in with JxTx He had QxTx but the jack made all the difference to fill in the holes of a straight.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. UTH with AxTx and I raised to 13,000 but had to fold to an all-in from UTG1. BB with 4x4x and I folded to  an all-in of more than 40,000, though I would have preferred to see the flop.

At the end of the fourth hour, I raised from CO with KxJx and made a straight. Then UTG2 with K8, I called an all-in from SB, then folded to a large all-in to see them flip over 7x7x and TxTx and a flop full of diamonds.

Still, I’d climbed to T143,50, more than twice the average stack, by the time blinds got to 4,000/8,000/500.

I called 18,000 with Q6 but folded after missing the flop. A couple more hands like that and on HJ, I was down to T111,000, with 24 players left and a chip average of just under 90,000.

I raised UTG to 16,000 with KxTx and won, but was still slipping due to the antes.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like dark checks? Not that I ever do them. UTG1 and I raised to 18,000. BB called and the flop was ten-high. He’d checked dark and I shoved, which I might have done even without the ten.

Another ten-high flop fifteen minutes later matched my KxTx in a five-way call of 12,000 to the flop. I opened with a bet of 20,000—just a third of the pot—and won.

In SB with 45, I got involved in a 3-way hand to the JxTx5x flop and folded to a UTG bet of 20,000.

1:45am. Nearing the end of five hours of play we consolidate to two tables. Blinds are 8,000/16,000/2,000 and the chip average is 109,500, for an M of just over 3, well in the Red Zone. Even at 162,000, I’m in the Red Zone, with an of 4.5.

I tread water for fifteen minutes, as two players fall by the wayside, then open-raise from CO with Ax7x to 36,000 and take the blinds and antes.

Another middling ace in HJ, A8 and I made the same raise. This time SB called with Qx9x, but I won the hand and was up to T245,500 with just 12 players left ten minutes into hour six.

Another all-in from a short stack and I called with AxQx to knock out Qx8x just before the half-hour, then I raised Ax8x to 40,000 from SB and missed the flop, folding to an all-in. Eleven players, chip average 179,181, and I had T280,000.

About 2:47am we set the final table. I didn’t have much to work with, and with the blinds as high as they were, I lost 100,000 chips just to blinds and antes in half-an-hour.

Then at the end of the top of the hour, BTN just calls ahead of me in SB, I call, and BB shoves. Oddly, I didn’t record what I had, but note that I was up against QxQx and made a flush on the river.

My last note from the game is that I had T343,000 with the chip average at 394,200, which meant five players were left. People were getting tired, and while I could easily have gone on, with everyone more or less evenly-stacked, we decided to take our money and run.

Seven hours and fifteen minutes. +1,690% ROI. Five-way even chop, 117 entries.

I could go on, like with a story about how I walked into a PLO8 game 45 minutes late while my car was getting serviced and managed to win it without buying the add-on; or the last two $10K games I played before I headed out to the WSOP, but the road between Reno and Las Vegas awaits and it’s way past the time I could be getting on the road here.

 

Hard and Fast

Encore Club $10,000 Guarantee (T10,000)

I got to the club a little late, but still in the first round of the button at position 5. Didn’t play a hand until the button passed again and then boy, did I play a hand.

From CO, I called a raise to 200 from UTG with JT that only two players didn’t call. The flop came out AKQ. Action checked to UTG and he bet 1,000. The players between us folded and I announced I was moving my entire stack in. Without too much hesitation, BTN called, and everyone, including UTG folded. BTN turned over Q9 and we were off to a very short race, as another diamond hit the turn and I was drawing dead. A black king came on the river and UTG was lamenting laying down his KxQx.

I wasn’t completely out, I still had T200. The blinds were up to 50/100 by now, and I waited around for either a good hand or the right moment. No hand came, and figuring that at the very least, if I shoved UTG and got lucky, I’d maximize the gain from all the potential callers. I had 67, so it wasn’t the worst hand to try something with. I got a couple calls, then the player who’d folded KxQx (who’d jst had to re-buy) raised to 800, squelching potential further action. We were heads-up to the flop, he had KxAx. The flop stayed low, pairing me on the flop and giving me a straight by the river.

5xQx on my BB, there are several callers, including SB, but I’m more than prepared to give my blind up and keep looking for spots to build. The flop, however, changes my plans: QxJx6x. SB opens with a bet of 250 and I push my remaining 575 into the pot and turn my cards. He says “You’ve got me out-kicked” and flips 2xQx. A 9x on the turn makes it look like we’re going to chop things, then the river coughs up a deuce and the game comes to a quick, dirty end.

Run Silent, Run Deep

Big tournaments in Portland poker over the next couple of weeks, with both Aces Players Club and The Final Table celebrating anniversaries, and a general gearing-up of the community for the upcoming summer series.

Portland Players Club WSOP Seat $5,000 Guarantee (8,000 chips)

I got off to a very hot start Friday night, sitting down a couple of hands in, picking up AxAx on my second hand, then going up against a player who sat at seat 2 a couple minutes after me. I’d picked up a premium QxQx and raised with nothing higher than a nine on the flop and we both put more money in. Another queen hit on the turn and he shoved, getting a call from me. A seven on the river made a set for his 7x7x but my set of queens held—with a river queen putting me on the high hand board—and he re-bought after his first hand. Funny story about that.

Fifty minutes into the game, and I was up to 22,400, more than three times the starting stack. Then I lost 1,900 in a couple calls with 9T and KxQx. I knocked out one of the PPC regulars with a 3x7x in SB when I caught a little of the 3x2x6x flop. G thought he was safe with his 4x4x, and he was through the 2x on the turn, but the river 7x sealed his fate and he re-bought. Ninety minutes in and I was at 25,750.

I made it as high as 29,400 before the first break, but I called an all-in on a flop of A4 with 25 against 4x4x and failed to catch another diamond, so I only had 21,900 before the T8,000 add-on.

I kept up my occasional calls with low suited gaps but lost 1,500 calling pre-flop as BB with 36 and another 600 as SB with 26.

About three hours in, I doubled up with a set of sixes against one of the larger stacks, putting me at 52,935, with the chip average at about 22,000.

8x8x held up against an all-in from a very short stack holding Ax9x, making up for losses to blinds and antes; I was at 52,000 even after the chip-up on the next break. There were 93 of 132 entries remaining after three-and-a-half hours, with 50 re-buys and 104 add-ons.

Half-an-hour later, with blinds up at 400/800/100, the number of players had dropped to 78. The average stack was 29,333: 36BB or (since we were 10-handed) an M-ratio of just 13, already in Dan Harrington’s “yellow zone” where small suited connectors and pairs lose value. I was sitting on 63,900 ten minutes after the top of the hour, when the average was 30,506.

I raised with the heart version of the Mutant Jack and took down the blinds and antes without a fight, then finally knocked out G with QxJx when I made two pair.

At the next break, four-and-a-half hours in, I had 86,600 (34,149 average) with 67 players left. Just 49 to go before the money.

I lost a big chunk of ground calling an all-in with JQ against KxJx. The board nearly gave me both a flush and a straight, but the better hand held out. Five-and-a-quarter hours in to the game, I was at 66,500, with the average creeping up under me to 40,140.

Then I hit the high hand board again when KxKx made quads (with an ace kicker), knocking out another player and putting me up to 97,000.

79 took in a lot of chips , hitting two pair on the flop and a full house on the turn. When the clock struck midnight after six hours of play, I had 142,300, not quite three times the 52,000 average, with 40 players left.

The spade Mutant Jack (AJ) failed me against 9x9x, and I lost 30,000 chips about twenty minutes later, then I shoved over two raises with TxTx to take the pot and managed to pull myself back up to 124,500 (average 65,700) just before the middle of the seventh hour. Blinds were 2,000/4,000/500; there were 35 players left.

Just after the half-hour, I lost calling an all-in with QxQx against 9x9x when the nine showed on the flop, taking me down 26,600.

Just ten minutes later, nines almost did me in again when I had AxQx. She made a set on the turn but a Tx on the river made me Broadway and I knocked out another player.

Playing KT from SB, I lost 8,500 to see the flop. Everyone checked the turn but I couldn’t pay the 8,000 to see if there was a jack on the river and the board was too clubby for me.

The next break was at the end of seven hours of play, and I had 139,000. We were down to three tables (exactly 27 players), with the average stack at 84,740 and blinds going up to 3,000/6,000/500 (14BB, M-ratio of 6; mine was a paltry ten). With those kinds of numbers, the winnowing was taking place pretty fast. The money bubble was burst in just twenty minutes.

The Poker Mutant deep in thought, wondering how he can get back on an even keel.

I hadn’t found any opportunities to build up, however, and my stack had slipped to 110,500, with the chip average finally overtaking me to 127,111.

I blew 31,000 with Q8 going up against Ax8x and ten minutes after making the money I was down to just 75,500. I shoved with KxJx and won the blinds and a call, then went all-in again with KQ half-an-hour later, just before the blinds went up to 8,000/16,000/2.000.

There were 13 players left. My table had six players—so the blinds were coming around rather quickly—and there were a couple of very big stacks, including the guy I’d knocked out with quad queens back on his first hand. I had 87,500.

Half-an hour later, I was still alive as the final table was made. Three of the players were original players at my starting table. I was the second-shortest stack at the table. I shoved with roughly a quarter of my stack in the pot as BB on the first hand—I didn’t record what with—and was beat.

The first-place winner was the guy I took out with quad queens on his first hand.

Eight hours and forty-five minutes. +193% ROI. 9th of 132 entries.

Aces Players Club 2nd Anniversary $20,000 Guarantee Freezeout (20,000 chips)

This was the big-money game of the weekend. Running at full capacity and with people buying in after bustouts, there was no way the prize pool for this event wasn’t going to swell far beyond the guarantee (the PPC event prize pool was twice the guarantee itself). I bought the 8,000 chip preliminary add-on, so like most players, I was starting with 28,000 chips.

I laid low for the first fifteen minutes, picking up 7x7x as UTG1. I lost about 1,000 when a player with an ace made a pair on the turn and I bowed out.

6T gave me the inclination to raise, and I sort of liked the Qx9x8x flop, but Ax and 2x on the turn and river left me cold and QxTx won the hand.

Lost some more with King Salmon (K7) when I paired my seven on the flop but the turn brought in a flush possibility for my opponent and I folded.

Called 800 from SB with KxJx but folded to a raise to 5,000.

Forty minutes in and I hadn’t won anything and was down to 23,475.

On the last hand before the first break, I called a pre-flop raise to 1,200 with Q9 and caught an open-ended straight flush on the flop of TJ5x. I brazenly shoved after a 5x on the turn and everyone folded.

With the 8,000 extra add-on, I started the next session with 42,200, up a little over 6,000 from what I’d bought in for.

With AxKx in the SB and a KxTxTx flop, I folded with 7,500 in the pot to a 40,000+ all-in bet. Another player called and the winner was AxTx over 7xTx.

I stayed pretty quiet through the next half-hour; at the ninety minute mark I hadn’t won any more but I was still holding at 40,300. The final stats were in for the game: 153 entries, 148 players still in, 253 add-ons (both pre-game and at break), and a total pot of $43,250.

I knocked out a player playing with 36. I hit bottom pair and a flush draw on the flop and called his all-in of 9,000. He showed KxQx for a higher pair but my flush card came on the turn.

Ten minutes later, I had 8x8x on BTN and raised, getting re-raised by BB. I called and we saw a flop of Qx7x2x. I put him on AxKx, which was a big mistake, and I shoved to give the impression I’d hit a set, but he had KxKx and I was out 41,200 chips, leaving me with just 13,500. This was the mistake that probably kept me out of the money in this tournament.

Fifteen minutes later, that had dwindled to 6,900. I went into cornered wolverine mode (again), shoving with JT from CO and winning the blinds. 8,100 chips.

Payouts went up on the board. 22 places were getting money, with the top five prizes initially set at $12,555, $8,330, $4,995, $3,330, and $2,080. Things were getting serious.

I was all-in on two consecutive hands. FIrst with KQ. I was called by QxJx and doubled up. Then I shoved AxJx over two calls and won with no showdown. People started complaining, but I’d managed to build back up to the starting stack, at least. Average stack was nearly 39,000 chips, though.

On the first hand after the next break, I had KxKx in BB and shoved over several calls to take the pot. 21,300 chips with 130 players left.

I picked up a couple of hands with 9Ts and KJo, then the blinds went to 1,000/2,000/200. With only 27,800 (120 players left), I had a critical M-ratio of less than 6. That’s the “red zone.”

All-in again as UTG1 with AxQx. At least I was picking up some decent shoving hands. 28,400 chips after going through the blinds.

Three hours into the game, the blinds jumped to 1,200/2,400/300. Another round of blinds and antes and I was down to 22,600 (M-ratio: 3.5). Just 101 players left.

Shoved again with Ax9x and took the blinds. The next time they passed through I was down to 23,000.

I finally picked up a significant number of chips in an all-in battle against a shorter stack with KJ against his QxJx. Three-and-a-half hours in, I had 46,500 (average stack: 60,523).

83 players left ten minutes later.

8x8x failed me again, this time from SB when I called a 15,000 chip all-in against Kx9x. The nine hit on the flop. I’d picked up some other chips along the way, though, so I was actually sitting on 26,500.

Just short of four hours in, half the field was gone. Only 72 players remained, with blinds going up to 2,000/4,000/500.

I rode out the blinds again and was down to 36,500 (average 72,628), still securely in the red zone. At the four hour mark, I shoved over a call as UTG2 with JxTx and took the pot again. The pot was enough to put me up to 50,000 (65 left, average 78,215).

I shoved as BB over the SB call as my last act at my starting table before I was moved. I got there with 57,500 chips, only 69% of the average stack, and with blinds at 3,000/6,000/500; an M-ratio of 4.2.

My first act at my new seat was on BTN and I shoved with J9. The 13,500 chips in the pot from blinds and antes was substantial in comparison with my stack.

Just a couple minutes later, I made an actual bet of 17,000 with AxQx and induced folds. I’d worked my way up to 65,500 (50 players left, average stack: 101,680).

The next break began just after I’d gone through the blinds. I had 55,500—barely more than half the average stack—and blinds were going to be starting up at 4,000/8,000/1,000, leaving me with an M-ratio of just 2.6. Again. 49 players left.

The big stack at our table was dominating from the other end. I went all-in over a raise from him with KxQx and I still had enough chips to get him to fold. That popped me up to 87,000 (average 105,916) briefly.

I raised to 20K with A9 UTG. BB called. The flop was king-high, there were no spades, and I folded to an all-in.

Another round of blinds took me down to 51,000.

The big stack wasn’t liking my shoves any more than the other table had. I was all-in again against his raise and he folded, saying he had KxQx. I (probably mistakenly) flipped over my KxQx.

43 players left as we approached the five-hour mark. I had 68,000 chips left and needed a double-up badly.

I was playing so tight I folded QT UTG.

My final hand was against the big stack. He finally called my all-in (this time with KxJx) and he had 6x6x, which held up. I think he probably would have called even if I hadn’t showed on the previous hand.

The call with the eights against the kings was significant. I never made it back up to the chip average after that point, although I managed to stay in play for another three hours plus.

Five hours and fifteen minutes. 38th of 153 players.

This Is Not My Beautiful Full House

Encore Club $25,000 Guarantee Freezeout (12,000 chips)

My best results in tournaments have been at Encore, and I was hoping this game would give my bankroll a little boost before the summer tournament season got into high gear. But like the last Encore $25K, I was gone early.

I quickly lost 450 playing 6xTx, hitting the ten as the high card on the flop and going up against AxTx. Just fifteen minutes into the game, I called 600 with JxTx and folded to a bet and eventual all-ins on the 4x9x3x flop. Kx turn card was the one the eventual winner wanted to see, because it gave him a higher set than the 9x9x of the original bettor, but Qx on the river would have made my straight the best hand.

I stuck it out to the end with straight and flush draws on 58 but didn’t get there, and twenty minutes into the game I was already down to 9,300. I slid another 1,100 down the drain with Ax2x drawing to a wheel.

Ax2x on BTN lost me chips again when I two pairs came on the board but my opponent made a full house with a full house. Half an hour and I was nearly 5,000 chips.

Finally, I won a pot with KT, hitting two diamonds and a ten-high flop, with another diamond on the turn, gaining about 2,000 chips.

I bided my time and lost the ground I’d regained with a missed nut flush draw and A9. Then I busted a short(er) stack with 8x8x against AxQx, turned around and lost 1,200 on the next hand calling with Jx9x. I hit middle pair but folded to a post-flop bet. Even with the knockout I only had 8,725 chips just before the first hour ended.

Right on the hour mark, I was BB and picked up KxKx. There was a raise and several calls ahead of me but I wanted to get value and just called. Unfortunately, while the flop gave me top set, it was entirely diamonds. A player at the other end of the table bet 1,000, SB called, and I shoved with about 7,500 left, hoping that I might scare off a weak flush or flush draw, or that I could catch a board pairing to make my full house. The original post-flop bettor folded but SB called with A9, the last two cards didn’t pair the board, and I was out on the hour.

One hour. Alternates were still being seated.

The Final Table $1,000 Guarantee (7,000 chips)

I took the poison pot on the first hand with 5x7x, making two pair by the turn. I bet 200 and got two calls. Two queens rolled out on the turn and river, counterfeiting my fives, but my two pair was still the best and I won.

Called 250 pre-flop with J8 and called the re-raise to 450 but with a 9x8x6x flop I folded to the next bet.

A 3x4x in the BB made it to the flop and paired the four. Suited cards started to show up and by the river I had a baby flush with the trey. A small bet seemed to be enough for everyone else, because I won. All that, and a dozen minutes into the game I was up a grand total of 300 chips.

Then I got KxJx and blew 1,150 drawing for a queen to make Broadway, putting me down 900 from the starting stack twenty minutes in.

With 5x5x in SB, I called a 150 bet post-flop but folded after the turn when there were four overs. I got a little of it back with KxJx, betting at a Jx2x2x flop. I was sliding, though, with 6,050 at the half-hour mark, and 5,650 five minutes later.

With J2, I called a pre-flop raise to 250 along with three others. The flop was Ax3xAx and I bet at it, bluffing everyone off the hand.

Called a 250 raise with 36 and got an open-ended straight draw with a flop of Kx4x5x. Went out on a limb calling a post-flop re-raise of 1,750 but was rewarded with a 2x on the turn. I shoved and was called by Kx8x, which finally put me over the starting stack again, with 13,750 at 50 minutes into the game.

Taking notes on that hand, I didn’t notice action come around to me on the next as BTN and I was flustered enough by the two all-ins ahead of me that when I looked at AxKx I folded it rather than get into what looked to be a bloody battle. I figured it was likely a couple of players had aces, I would have been putting most of my stack (if not all) at risk, so I thought not. I should have throughout it through, better, though. As it was, none of the players had premium hands, none of them had anything higher than a king, and it was a pair of kings in the hand of the guy I’d just doubled up against that took the pot. I’d had all three stacks covered. My ace kicker would have taken out three players. Another instance of failing to pull the trigger.

I called 1,100 with Qx9x but folded it to a post-flop bet, then put in another 825 on K3 to call a raise and had to fold to 2 all-in pre-flop bets.

Raised to 600 from BTN with A3 and got called by the blinds to see a 8x7xQx flop. A bet of 700 won the pot and put me at 12,700 just past the one-hour mark. Then I lost just about everything with 8T when my eight paired the top card on the board and I fell to a set of fives. I was done in when AxTx called my all-in with AxJx.

One hour and twelve minutes. 21st of 27 entries.

Fooling Around In Omaha

Portland Players Club Player of the Month High Hand Jackpot (7,000 chips)

I made four-of-a-kind with a hand in March at PPC, which got me an extra 1,000 bonus for this game. With the 3,000 pre-add-on, I was starting with 11,000 chips.

Picked up a free note-taking tool for my iPhone called MomentDiary which I came to like quite a lot during this tournament. The plan was to try it out at the Poker Pro Challenge but their ban on electronic devices kept me from using it. The great thing about it for poker notation is that it timestamps each entry. Haven’t found a way to batch delete a bunch of notes yet, though; I made more than 75 notes in tournaments on April Fool’s Day.

Won the first hand with Jx8x, hitting a straight on the flop. One of the other players said it was the “poison pot” and maybe it was (as you’ll see).

Almost immediately after that, I picked up KxKx but was smart enough to lay it down early on a board that was turning into a straight that left me just out of the mix. The winner made quad tens by the river, although it didn’t actually go to showdown.

I more than made up for that fold playing 45 and hitting a 7-high straight on the flop. I called and pushed on seat 9 and took several thousand chips from him at showdown when all he had was AxAx.

My next hand was 4x4x on BTN and I would have bet it but CO discarding accidentally flipped a four over and I just folded instead of hoping the case card would show on the flop to make me a set. That saved me a couple hundred at least; the board was far too high to make a pair of fours happy.

Fifteen minutes into the game, I was up about 4,000 chips. I raised to 225 with 63, then called a 600 re-raise. After getting an inside straight draw on the flop I bet another 1,000 but had to fold to an all-in bet down the line.

Another 4x4x, this time on BB. SB raised to 700 pre-flop and I saw it with two other callers. The flop was 7x7x3x and I bet 1,000 after SB checked. People were guessing my hand and nobody was even close. When one guy guessed that I had a pair of eights, I said that I “had eight.”

Twenty minutes had passed since my last chip count and I was still at 15,125.

I raised to 300 with JxTx and made my straight on the river to pick up some more chips to put me at 16,775.

Lost a little ground with QxTx after raising to 425 and seeing the board run out 5x57x5x9x. Had to fold to a bet.

The Butcher QT messed me over for another 800 when I couldn’t get a king on the board to make Broadway.

Holding JT, I re-raised from 1,200 to 2,500 after a 9JQ flop but had to fold to an all-in. The winner showed AxA and the original raiser had non heart KxKx. At only about 19% chance to win, my fold was the right thing to do (I was well ahead of the kings) but I sure would have liked to see the rest of the board.

I was knocked back to 12,350, but managed to make a bunch on the last hand before the break with JxTx and another flopped straight (queen-high). By the time the counting was over, I was up to 17,350.

Starting back up after the break, I saw the flop as BB with 7x3x and had an inside straight  draw again. I bet 700 and everyone folded.

I folded myself after calling 300 with A7 and seeing an all-spade flop.

About twenty minutes into the second segment of the tournament I was holding 21,800, including the 5,000 add-on from the break.

I put out another 1,100 on Ax8x then folded along with several others after a short stack shoved for another 6,000. He showed 6T after he raked in his chips.

Another JxTx on BTN and I called a raise to 900 along with BB. I had top two pair on a flop with two diamonds. He bet 1,500 and I shoved to take the pot down.

Raised to 800 with JxTx just a couple minutes later as HJ and had to fold to all-in from CO, then called 1,400 with KxTx and hit top two pair on the flop. I bet 2,500 and got my opponent to fold. He showed AxQx.

My stack was up to 22,650. I was heavily invested in jack-ten combinations in this game and made two pair on the turn just a couple minutes later on a board with a potential Broadway straight on it. Pushing all-in on a 6,000 post-turn bet cost me over 16,000 when the other guy had the straight and I failed to hit a full house on the river. Down to 6,425.

Ten minutes later I pushed all-in with JxTx again after pairing the top card on the flop, ran into AxAx and didn’t improve.

Two hours and fifteen minutes. -100% ROI. 28th of 41 entries.

Portland Players Club Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo (10,000 chips)

I don’t get to play nearly enough Omaha tournaments, and I’m a real sucker for the split-pot game. It’s definitely my preferred game over high-only. I’ve had some success with it in live limit cash games and had made the final table in a couple tournaments, but never managed to cash before this game. All I can say is it’s hard to take notes on.

Got a 1,000 chip bonus for this game for whatever reason, so I was starting with 11,000 on the table.

About ten minutes in, I played AxJx8x5x and made a Broadway straight on the turn with a heart flush draw on the board. A third heart came on the river, there was no low, and I ended up splitting the high with another player holding Broadway. No gain and a little loss from blinds; I was at 10,925 at fifteen minutes.

My 5x6x7x8x wrap completed an eight-high straight in a huge pot with two larger stacks all in over me. I took the high by myself, the main and side pot lows got quartered, and there was five minutes of bickering over what amounted to a 300 chip second side pot. At the half-hour mark, I was holding 22,350.

I called a raise to 1,100 pre-flop with Q75A, paired the five on the flop and called a bet of 1,025, then folded in the face of another 4-way all-in. Quad eights took the whole shebang.

I lost a big hand I didn’t manage to record, and was cut in half to 11,575 near the end of the first hour of play.

Then came the hand that changed everything. AK25 looked pretty good on the T73 flop and by the time 4 and 9 were also on the board, I had the nut flush for the high hand and a part of the low. With several players all-in (as usual) my stack jumped up to 50,325.

Even with the big stack, I added on for another 5,000 chips, one of the best decisions I made in this game, as you’ll see.

Just after the break, a Qx6x in my hand made me 5,000 when I improved a full house on a QxQx2x2x6x board. I lost a little ground on a straight draw, but was still at 58,100 one hundred minutes in.

The two largest stacks in the tournament were me and another player at my table, and we got into it with both tables five-handed. He pushed hard with a straight and full house draw but I hit quad nines and knocked him out, putting my stack up to 108,400 and more than a third of the chips in play.

Knocked out another player with Ax2x4x5x by making two pair for the high and scooping the low, then took a hand from PPC regular T with 5x5xAxKx, putting me up to 118,400.

By break 2, I’d hit 140,000.

A big pot with 2x2xJxQx made a set to grab the high and put me up to 160,500 as we approached three-hours of play. Then things got grim.

In less than ten minutes, I missed two draws for a Broadway straight and a flush that cost me a total of 22,500. Then I made a set of queens on a flop and called an all-in from B, who had KxQx and two pair. Another Kx on the turn made full houses for both of us but I was on the losing side of that one and was back down to  98,500 as we actually hit three hours.

Ten minutes later I was still bleeding chips and down to 74,500. I managed to take one hand and bet people off my flush, then lost with two pair against a full house and didn’t hit my low. I hit the same straight as a another player and chopped a pot that would have been nice to take in toto, then flopped another straight and was all-in but was outdrawn by a flush that took all but 6,000 of my chips. It was just twenty-five minutes since I’d had 58% of the chips in play and I was down to one big blind. If I had skipped buying the add-on at the first break, I’d probably have busted out already—at best I would have only had 1,000 chips.

The next ten minutes were a blur. I caught some amazing cards, including a couple of high pairs and and managed to double up at least three times. In eight minutes, I was back up to 84,000 chips, then I knocked out B short of the money and hit the last break with 102,000.

Not long after the break was over, we managed to get it down to heads-up. I was back on top with about a 40,000 chip advantage but we chopped the top two positions evenly and called the game at four hours.

Four hours. +272% ROI. Chopped 2 ways with 15 entries.

N Took My Chips

No, the Poker Mutant hasn’t gone into hibernation, although with a trip to the doctor and the snow and the vagaries of the work schedule, I haven’t had as much time to devote to updating the blog as I’d promised myself I would. There’s a half-finished article in my bag on the mathematics behind teams of players entering tournaments that I need to get done.

The day before my last post, I beat the rest of the field in my home league game, picking up some valuable points toward the Player of the Year prize of a WSOP buy-in. More importantly, since I’m still in second place and the season is drawing to an end, I knocked out KB—the current POY leader—before any of the other players, maximizing the value of the points I earned.

Ten dry days went by before I made another hit, this time in the morning free roll at Portland Players Club. There were six of us at the final table, and one player had about a third of the chips in play when a deal was made to give her a big chunk of the prize pool and split the rest. Not a lot of money but some profit.

I hadn’t played the Aces Players Club $5,000 guarantees on Fridays or Saturdays at noon before, but the results-oriented opinion is that I like them a lot. I was doing reasonably well by break two. The structure allows two re-buys, which can be purchased at any time in the first levels and stacked on top of each other, so it’s possible to enter the game with 30,000 in chips, akin to a Triple Barrel PLO game but where you have to pay for extra stacks. I just bought in once, but I was up to 38,100 at the second break, with the chip average several thousand lower than that.

I caught an incredible break about 45 minutes into the fourth hour after raising with KQ from middle position when a player in BB pushed all-in. I called and was heads-up  against AxAx and practical elimination, but another ace on the turn made Broadway for me and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as disgusted a look on a player’s face. It pushed my up to 89,500 chips (total chips in play after the add-on was 1.78 million).

I started knocking out players with things like A8 pairing the eight as the high card on an all-diamond flop. At the end of four hours there were only 30 of the original 70 or so entries and I was over 100,000 chips. Twelve places we’re scheduled to be paid.

A huge knockout half an hour in pushed me over 200,000 chips, and another at the five-hour mark meant 260,000. By break three we were only four from the money (two, once a decision to pay two bubbles was agreed on).

I lost a 60k chunk calling an all-in with AT on a 6x8x4x flop when Ax8x made it, but then knocked out two players at once with TxTx (which had been working well for me all game). I called two all-ins, they had KxQx and KxJx and none of the cards on the board were above a jack. I was sitting on a stack of 430,000 chips, about 23% of the chips in the game with 10 players left.

The final table bubble took a while to play out. After we consolidated, I lost a couple of calls for all-ins but made my way back both times until we were down to five players. After doubling another player up for over 100,000, I still had the chip lead, but agreed to an even chop so I could get to the $10K at Encore. I think the stack below is about 600,000 chips. The full stacks are ten-high, the yellow are 25,000, the gray are 10,000, the red are 5,000 and the pink are 1,000.

Over at Encore, I got into the game shortly before the end of the second level (I hate coming in late). I’d forgotten that the levels are longer and that I could have bought in for another hour, or I might have played out the Aces game to the end. Something to consider but I still hate coming in late.

I got off to a good start right off the bat, pushing up over 16,000 in short order, then got cut down by N (who told me the other day he thought he played like a pro—although I thought at first he said “fool”—then again he spent part of another game one day trying to convince people I was Howard Lederer’s cousin) who rivered a flush against my paired AxKx. With  4,900 left, I managed to chip up a little bit until I hit two pair playing 86 and N hit a straight with 79 on the river. No re-buys!

Take the Hint

Portland Players Club $250 Guarantee

My first hand was a decent KJ and I bet it strong pre-flop, only to have the cards show up midd-of-the-road and black. I kept betting and one other player followed along, but I gave up after the turn put a spade draw on the board and there was nothing for my diamonds to stick to.

The next flop, on the other hand, came out KxJxJx, which would have been great with my first hand but was considerably less so with my Kx6x. I stayed through to the turn 3x when the betting got very heavy, only to watch Kx drop on the river to give me the nuts if I’d stayed in. The winner had 3x3x in her hand and had made her smaller house on the turn; the loser had QxTx and missed a straight that would have lost anyway.

Still, TxTx looked pretty good for my third hand, and I bet it, going heads-up and all-in after the AxTxJx flop. My opponent showed AxJx for top two, then we both made full houses on the river with another Ax. Lucky me. I re-bought as I was moved to another table, despite comments that perhaps I should listen to the poker gods and call it off for the day.

I really should have. I struggled for a while, then chipped up after the break a bit, then lost a big chunk to DL and was down to just 1,500 with blinds at 200/400. I managed to build back up to several thousand before the table broke, and grab a couple of sets of blinds (shoving with 79, for instance) once I got there. Kicked myself on one hand when I was on the verge of shoving with 24. I didn’t, I know I would have gotten called by the much bigger stacks that chose to get involved, and I would have hit a winning flush on the river. ATC. Instead, I went all-in with AxQx a few hands later and was called by AxKx in the big blind. Got a king and a couple of tens on the board, but no jack.

Two hours. -100% ROI. 18th of 32 players.

My Other Home

Portland Players Club Deepstack

A couple of late cancellations for the home league left three of us itching for some poker, so we headed over to PPC for the Deepstack tournament I never get to play. DV, KB, and I got seated one at each of the three tables.

I continued the tight(ish) play I’d determined to hold to on the weekend. The cards weren’t particularly helpful. The first hand I played was JxTx; I raised to 150 UTG and got a couple of callers. Qx9x on the flop gave me an up-and-down straight draw, but two clubs on the board made the flush possible. BB bet 350 and I was the only caller. An A on the turn made two straight draws possible, one of which might have come through with the river 3. BB bet out 1,200 and I had nothing, so I laid it down. Even though I had a relatively quiet first level, I was down by nearly 1,000 at the end.

On BTN with Jx9x , I called with two limpers ahead of me and the blinds in the hand. The flop was a rainbow Jx5x6x and SB bet 150. There were three calls and I used my position to pop it to 600. Everyone folded.

On SB at 50/100 with KxQx for the second hand in a row (the first flop hadn’t contained a card higher than 5x), I raised to 300 and got three calls. The flop gave me top two and everyone checked to me. I bet 1,200 and took it without argument.

J, at the end of the table had amassed the beginnings of a truly massive stack and was playing lots of hands. I picked up 5x5x and we were heads-up for 150 chips each. The board got progressively worse for me, not quite giving me a straight but with four over cards; J ratcheted the bet up by 50 each street, so at showdown when he declared my Tx was good, even he was surprised when his 4x6x won with the paired 6x on the board. With my other pots, I was up a few hundred by the end of the second level.

I didn’t play any significant hands during the third level, but my stack dropped 700 chips from blinds and min-calls.

Decided to play KxTx UTG and min-raised at 150/300. The flop gave me a Broadway draw but the board was pregnant with flush possibilities. I called the final 400 knowing my king-high was beat by aces.

Managed to semi-bluff three players off a Jx8x7x flop from the BB holding Qx9x. Then a couple of hands later I was dealt AK as BTN and raised, getting 2 callers. The flop was Ax7x2x and I bet to win the pot.

Called off 1,200 pre-flop with JT. The flop was low and diamondy; I tossed my hand at the first sign of a bet. By the end of level 4, though, I was back up over the starting stack, finally.

Entered the fray with J8 at 200/400 and by the turn I had a flush with the potential for a straight flush. I called an all-in from a player whose stack was just about my size and the flush held against his two pair.

Raised 1,400 from CO with AxKx but missed the flop and folded to a bet. With the near-double-up, I was up to 16,475 chip at the end of level 5, but there were a couple monster stacks at the table.

I automatically folded 8x3x from SB. Two players went hammer-and-tongs pre-flop, I would have made two pair on the flop, and I could have taken the entire pot with a full house on the turn. A pair of nines won. But who’s going to call off 15% of their stack pre-flop with 83o?

We were at 400/800. I had Ax8x in BB and I had a single caller. The flop fell around the eight for an up-and-down straight draw. I let him bet 1,000 and called. We both checked the turn, then the river put down an Ax. I bet 1,000 and took the pot.

Got into a bidding war that cost me over 7,000 chips with my T6 flush against a 9x5x full house. That knocked me down to 10,600 by the second break.

Played K6 from UTG1 and was heads-up against BB. The flop was Kx9xTx, he checked, I bet 1,000. We both checked the Tx on the flop. The Kx on the river gave me the nuts and I raised to 3,000 after he bet 1,000, inducing a fold.

Raised to 1,800 with Ax9x from CO. BTN re-raised to 3,000 and I called. The flop was nine-high and I shoved. BTN called and flipped AxQx. The turn was Qx and I lost another 7,100.

I was down to just 2,500 chips on the last hand before blinds went to 500/1000. I was UTG and looked down at 4x4x. I announced my all-in with a not-very-scary stack and waited for the end. Two callers flicked specks of chips off their giant stacks, then the other two fours hit on the flop. and I more than tripled up.

JxTx cost me another 1,000 off that stack from BB when I called a min-raise.

Shoved with AxQx and missed everything. I outlasted DV and KB by an hour or so.

Three hours and ten minutes. -100% ROI. 15th of 24 players.

Portland Players Club $200 Guarantee

I was knocked out of the Deepstack just before the first break in the nightly freeroll so I popped over to one of the two tables running there. My first hand was T9 and I made a queen-high straight, knocking out one of the players and putting me up to 9,800 (from 4,000 starting stack with the pre-add-on) as we headed into the break.

I called two all-ins—the largest of which was 4,000 chips—with J9. I was in bad shape; the larger of the two stacks had JT and the smaller stack had one of each of our low cards with the hand that had just made me a lot of chips: 9T. A jack on the flop and two clubs put me behind both of them, with only a 7% chance of a win (I actually had a better chance to chop). The small stack went away; the winning player was out in the next hand.

One of the regulars I’ve gotten to know, DL, was sitting on my left. He called my AxJ all-in with JxJx and it looked like I was done but I drew to a diamond flush. He was on a self-imposed vow of silence at the table or I expect some choice words would have been heard.

Playing 92 on BB, I made the flush on the turn and won another hand. Then I lostg 8,000 chips with Q9 going all-in after a queen-high flop that was called by a smaller stack holding 7x7x with a set made on the board.

Shoved again with Q9 and DL called me once again. Once again, he got the short end of the stick, when my queen paired to beat his KJ. He even had my suit.

I was out on the next hand with 5x5x from BTN. I shoved my remaining little stack (small even after the double-up) and BB called me with 8x8x. No suckout on that hand. DL was out the next hand himself; I gave him a ride home.

Forty minutes. -100% ROI. 11th of 25 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.