Diamonds Are Forever

Cake Irish Open Quarter-Final Satellite (1,000 chips)

I guess I still have my heart set on going to Dublin in April. There are so few people playing on Cake that, comparatively, it’s actually harder to make it the next level of play in these contests. A lot of the Quarter-Final events (eight a day) get cancelled for lack of players, and even some of the ones that run don’t award tickets to the Semis, because there’s no guarantee. So I entered this Q-F satellite to see if I could maximize my investment.

AK about ten minutes in put me over 2,600 when I called a short-stack all-in on a 44J flop and caught A on the turn to beat jacks-up. My own pocket pair of JJ almost felted me seven hands later, when I called another all-in and he got his second ace on the flop.

I managed to work my way back up with hands like AQ and 7A and 99. A little over an hour into the game I’d made it to the 4,500 chip mark, just as the final table was consolidated. A lay-down with TA on a Broadway draw that went as far as the turn turned annoying when the other guy flashed his unpaired 9K. I went out on a T9 hand with an unfilled open-ended straight and four-flush against an ace-high caller. Got sixth place and a sub-min cash leftover prize for 100 minutes of play. ROI of -27%.

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

Did my usual brief submarining in this event, skimming just below the starting stack while I tested for the right opportunity and hoping that it actually showed up. Eight minutes in, I picked up JT. I was down to 1,070 after losing blinds and bets on a couple of suited QxKx hands. Action folded to me in the hijack and I min-raised to 60. The button—big stack at the table with more than 3,500 chips—raised to 150. The big blind called, as did I. I had top pair on the T36 flop and bet 300  after a check from the big blind. Button raised to 615 and I called, leaving 300 back. The blind got out of the way. I checked after a Q on the turn and the button put me all-in to call. I didn’t figure the queen made much of a difference to his hand and called. I double-paired with J on the river and the button turned over 99, behind from the flop.

A lucky AA just four hands later more than doubled me up to more than 5K when I took out two players with  JJ and QA. Three hands after that a tentative excursion with A2 made trips on the QAA flop and both other players to the flop having queens kept them on the line through the river.

I took some hits that brought me down from more than 3K fro 6,500, then started building again. An AJ Mutant Jack at the 40-minute mark netted me 4,400 and put me over 10K for the first time, but only by making me sweat for the river A to beat the pocket QQ of the all-in I called.

Just before the first break, a relatively innocuous-looking K6 ended up in my hand in the cutoff position. Blinds were 80/160. The hijack, with called. I called, and everyone behind me limped in, too. The flop was 42K and I had top pair as well as a 2nd nut flush draw (and potential straight flush). The blinds and hijack checked and I made a small bet of 240. Button folded, small blind called, and everyone else got out of the way. The 7 hits on the turn. There’s 1,300 in the pot. I can’t make a straight flush any more but with me holding the 6. the only way he can is if he’s got A5—and if he’s got the ace and can make any flush he beats me. He can’t have a full house yet. His stack is 3,500, I’ve got him covered by almost 10K. He checks and I feign weakness with a bet of 240. He calls. Maybe he’s got a single club and he’s hoping for a fourth on the board. Maybe he thinks the same of me. The T shows on the river. There’s no chance of a full house. He has to have two clubs with an ace to beat me. He bets 650 and I raise to put him all-in. He has a flush but it’s J5 and I’m sitting just under 18K while the break is on.

The graph shows a little blip after things start back up when I take a couple of hits. A call against a 4K stack goes awry when he has pocket KK and I only have JJ in mine and four to a straight on the board. Losing another 1,500 on the next hand with AJ busts me down to 11K, but the third monster in a row—AK—almost doubles me up when I call two all-ins holding AJ and 99 then get a KQK flop that stays good through the river.

The most notable event of this match was a mechanical mistake on my part. The game had been going for about 300 hands, we were 100 minutes in (it’s Rush poker). The blinds were 200/400/50 and I was on the button with J9 and 39K in chips, 3rd at the table in stack size. UTG+3 limped, the hijack (#2 stack with 49K) raised to 1,600. I called, thinking it might be a largish pot and I might be able to take it if the cards came out in the middle ranks. The big blind (13K, the smallest at the table) called and UTG+3 (25K) was along for the ride. The flop was TQ5 which didn’t do much for my hearts but did give me an open-ended straight draw. There were two checks and the big stack bet 4K. I called, along with the blind and UTG+3 folded. Another spade dropped on the turn: 5, pairing the board, as well. The small-stacked big blind went all-in, getting a call from the big stack. I did not want to call a bet for a third of my stack here, even with 5,600 already in the pot. Potential flush on the board, full house possibilities—heck, just a 5x had me beat—but I didn’t pay close enough attention to my cursor and—honest— called instead of folding. 7 showed up on the river, the short stack had my rank but in diamonds (J9, and the big stack had my flush with a bigger card 6Q that made top pair on the board and took a profit of 32K.

After that I struggled along for another 100 hands, making some ground and then losing it, briefly making it over 30K again but having trouble keeping ahead of the blinds. My last hand was 140 minutes into the game. I was the short stack in the big blind at 500/1,000/125, with 25K in chips. My cards were another A2. UTG+3 min-raised, hijack called, I called, and the big blind folded. The flop was 5QJ, not particularly good for me but I put in a bet of 1,500 to test the waters and got called by both other players. Another diamond (5) on the turn told me to push but I should have taken another look at the board before I did that because I still would have had ten big blinds deep in the tournament. I bet 2,000 and was called by UTG+3, but got a raise to 12,000 from the hijack. I called, along with UTG+3. I thought I was so special when the 3 showed up on the river and went all-in for 9,335. UTG+3 got out of the way with 40K but the hijack showed his JJ for a full house and took in 42K.

34th place out of 1,219 entries. ROI of 232%. Top prize in the tournament was about 72 times what I made.

Full Tilt MiniFTOPS Event #1 (5,000 chips)

I took the profit I made from the Rush tournament and put it into the first event of the series.

Play went slowly for me for over an hour. I’d dropped almost 2,000 chips, almost steadily, until about the 90th hand. My best hand—AQ—met absolutely no resistance and got me 60 chips of blinds; nothing else I had made more than a couple hundred. I was watching pros bust out right and left; WSOP Main Event 3rd-place finisher Joseph Cheong was gone before I was.

Finally, I managed to double up by doing something stupid. I had AQ and 750 in the 1,950 pot heads-up on a flop of J35. My opponent checked, I bet 220, and he went all-in with a larger stack than mine. I called with 2,220 and crossed my fingers and Q shoed on the turn, with T on the river. He turned over JK. No flush. I was up to 6,390. I lost a bit when I was bluffed off QQ with a board holding an ace, a pair of 8s and three spades. To rub it in, the guy showed a garbage JQ. He busted out thirteen hands later, though.

I had a little lull before I started building back up, but I was nowhere near the chip average. Then my flushing problem again reared its ugly head. I called a min-raise to 400 from the button with 9A. Both the blinds were in, as well as UTG+2, who’d made the raise. The flop was 677 and UTG+2 bet 1,000. I called. I probably should have raised but I doubt that would have done anything for me except lose me more money. The blinds folded and T hit the turn. I had a gut-shot straight draw to go with my nut flush draw. He bet another 2,000 and I had to call. But it was not to be. 6 on the river. He showed JJ—even a river ace would have beaten him—and I was down to 4K.

I turned diamonds into chips with JT about ten minutes later, though. I had about 3,500 in the cutoff at 120/24/25 and called a raise to 480 from UTG+2. A call from the big blind meant there were three of us to the flop. I had a gut-shot straight draw with 48Q and decided to take a stab at it with a 500 bet when both players ahead of me checked. Only UTG+2 called. The turn was 2 and I just checked the action through to the river, which was J. UTG+2 had about 1,500 more than me and bet out nearly half his stack with 1,800. I raised all-in to 2,500, not believing he had the queen. Then he folded and I was up over 7K again.

That was brief, as I dipped down below the starting stack again before recovering to almost 9K with K6 (more diamonds!) It was an incredibly ugly hand. I called the 280 big blind (holding 5,300 behind) from UTG+2. The button raised to 840, with another 4,400. The large stack (21K) at the table in the big blind called the raise, and when I did the same there were three to a flop of 4TK. The big stack checked and I opened with 750 to see if that would protect my pair. It did, but only marginally. After the button called the big stack folded, which probably saved me on this one.

With 2 on the turn, the hand was decidedly unfriendly to my diamonds, but I put out a bet of 560 into the pot of 4,385 and got a call. The 5 hit the river. I decided to see what the button would do and checked. Check. He had QJ for an open-ended straight draw but no spade and my kings were best.

It was a decidedly un-premium diamond hand just four deals later that got me to my peak in the tournament. I had Q2 in the small blind with three limpers behind me and over 8K in chips, so I put in another 140 chips. The big blind checked and five players got to the 384 flop. I had third nut flush draw in first position to act, so I bet 420. Only the big blind and hijack called. The K gave me the second nut flush. The A was still out there potentially, so I only opened with 560. It was down to me and the hijack. T on the river. No four of a kind or full house possibilities. The only thing that could beat me was a hand with two diamonds including the ace. I made another 560 bet. The hijack raised to 2,240 and I called, figuring I had another 5K if he had the better flush. He had the A but his second card was only a J, so I was up to 13.5K.

It wasn’t for long, though. Just seven minutes later I was dealt AK in the small blind. UTG+1 raised to 777 and there were four callers, including the hijack and both us blinds.

The flop was 535. I should have taken the story of the earlier A to heart and left it alone—since I had no connection to the cards on the board—but instead I opened with a 510 bet. UTG+1 dropped out but three of us saw the 4 on the turn. A gut-shot straight draw!

I really need to pay more attention to pairs on the board.

I checked, to be sneaky. The big blind checked. Hijack bet 1,020 which only I called. I made a pair with the K on the river. I bet about 10% of the 6,903 pot. Then the hijack went all in for far more than I had. He was just bluffing, right? I called.

33 in his hand. Full house since the flop. If only I’d had 53 instead.

142 minutes of play, made it to 12,140th place in a field of 27,539 (top 45th percentile). Not a stellar showing but I outlasted more than half the field.

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

Doubled up at the five-minute mark withKA. Then I got only minimal return when a larger stack shoved all-in on the turn and was called by me and a start-size stack. I had KQ with the board showing QK22 for two pair; the big stack had KA for just kings and twos; the small stack had 7A for a flush draw. If there had to be a diamond, I wanted it to be the queen; I didn’t want an ace to counterfeit my queens; I could have lived with another two to chop. But the river was the 4. The small stack tripled up to 4,300 and I made a profit of 150 chips.

The Mutant Jack failed me a little while later. AJ in the small blind with 2,600 chips, #2 stack at the table. Min-raise to 80 from UTG+2, I re-raise to 200, big blind calls, and UTG+2 is in. The flop’s 4TJ. I bet 600, everyone falls into my trap and calls. T on the turn. I have two pair with top kicker. I’m all-in. Big blind calls but he’s about 1,300 short. UTG+2 folds. QK for an open-ended straight draw. River’s 9. Well, I still have 1,275. At least, I do until QA slams into AA and drops me below 300. I battle back up over 1,000 before 88 cuts me down in the 21st minute. 357th place out of 1,137 entrants.

Cake Poker Roma 6-Max

Played some short-handed cash game to kill some time. Killed 80¢ faster than I killed time.

Full Tilt Satellite to MiniFTOPS #2 (300 chips)

Didn’t I say something about not playing Super Turbo tournaments? Shouldn’t that go double (at least) for Omaha Hi/Lo Super Turbo satellites? I wanted to see if I could get in to the $50K Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo tournament without paying the full entry fee—not having played anywhere near as much Omaha as Hold’em—and figured this would be a chance to see how I fared.

I did well almost right off the bat. On the third hand I was on the small blind and got J64T. There were four limpers (including myself) and the big blind checked. The flop came out 7Q8 leaving me needing 9x for a queen-high straight. There were four checks and a bet of 150—half everyone’s stack— from UTG+3. I called and two other players were in, too. A T on the turn cinched it up for me. I went all-in. UTG called, having a little bit over my stack.  UTG+1 re-raised all-in, also having me covered, followed by an all-in call by UTG+3 and a call from UTG. The river was 9.

There was 1,142 in the main pot with a side pot of 66. My queen-high straight was the best hand and I got the main pot but the side pot went to UTG, with 6396 for a ten-high straight. No low hand.

I lost most of it in short order. AK5T in my hand. There’s a 4 and a 3 on the board by the turn and I’m hoping for a deuce on the river. But someone else makes it and takes both high and low pots and I’m back down to starting stack with the blinds at 20/40.

Two pair on the flop knocks me down to 17 chips but I manage to triple that up with a different two pair the next hand. It all goes away then. 81st out of 155.

Puffmammy Tournament 20 (1,500 chips)

What a mess. I was worried that if I missed the game tonight I’d fall too far behind D to realistically catch up. The good news is that he only gained two points on me. The bad news is that I could have skipped the game to see Stan Ridgway, lost four instead of two points and been three buy-ins and an add-on richer.

Two ugly points about the night. I was all in after the flop for, I think, the second time of the night. Playing against W, who’s typically pretty loose. I had AxQx and W flips Ax2x There’s an ace on the board. Everything goes fine until the river when another two shows up and I’m re-buying.

Then, just before the end of the re-buy period, I’ve got most of my stack in the pot. I can’t re-buy again but there’s an add-on available at the break coming up. I started the hand with AxTx and flopped KxQx but nothing showed on the turn and there are two large stacks all-in in front of me. If I don’t catch my card, I’m out first for the night. If I fold, I’ve got a paltry stack that I can almost double with the 500 chips. I fold and the Jx shows on the river. G wins the hand with a king-high straight and I kick myself for the rest of the night as my little chips dwindle away. No recovery this night.

Made it to see Stan, though.

Queen of Spades Kills the Action

D’s Game

Played at the dealer’s choice cash game again, but without the saving coup at the end. My worst beat of the night came on a 7-card stud variation I can’t remember the name of that had wild queens. I got two queens down and a king up, I’d been pushing the pot incrementally, and got another queen up on the last card. Then the queen of spades came as an up card, which killed the hand and broke my quad kings.

Full Tilt $15,000 KO Guarantee 6-Max (3,000 chips)

This game started off with a great overlay of only about 175 players but it was clearly going to meet its guarantee by the time I was eliminated. I’d won nothing larger than 100 chips, waiting for my spot for almost half an hour and dropping about 400 chips when I got 5A in my hand on the button at the 20/40 level. There was a limp and a min-raise, which I called. The blinds dropped out and the limper called.

The flop gave me a straight: 432. The raiser bet 120, I re-raised to 300, and the limper folded. There was a three-bet to 720 and I raised all-in to 2,550. He called and showed his flush draw: AT. The turn J was safe but 9 on the river put me out and gave him my bounty.

Full Tilt Step 1 Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

Kind of rocky for the first twenty minutes: meaning I was flirting with the 1,500-chip starting position most of the time. A couple good hands bumped me up to 2K for a few minutes but then a nut flush draw bottomed out and I lost 500.

Then I caught a batch of good hands, starting with TT and a double-up. We were already down to six players and two of us went to the flop after a raise to 300 (at 50/100). The flop was an unpromising QK3, but I called the bet of 700 with most of my stack to be rewarded with T on the turn. I checked again and was put all-in to call. He turned over KA, the river was a 5 and I was up to 2,820. I picked up the blinds on the next two hands with raises holding aces, got a straight on the river with 9T, and extracted a little bit more with 4A.

Ten minutes more and KK made me another 1,800 chips, even without the help of K on the river. That put me up at 5,400 and I managed not to blow it, going out in second place—which was enough to win a Step 2 ticket.

Full Tilt Step 2 Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

I built up to a nearly 2:1 lead over the other stacks by the 40-minute mark with four players eliminated, and over 45% of the chips in play in my stack. We were competing for two Step 3 tickets. Did I get one? No. I risked nearly 2K on a JQ and got knocked down to a minimal lead, then slowly slipped into third place, which is where I went out, earning another Step 2 ticket.

Full Tilt Step 2 Sit & Go 18-Players (1,500 chips)

Made it to almost 6K in chips before the tables consolidated but won just a single hand after that point, going out in sixth place, and getting yet another chance for Step 2.

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

Took a couple of early hits that nearly chopped my stack in half by the 40-minute mark, but shortly before the first break I caught a double-up with a flush through Señor Frog, a player two seats to my right who had a sparkly amphibian statuette for a card protector who was sucking down chips like they were flies. Didn’t quite make it to the second break, though, when I had QxQx. The flop was 7x9xTx, there was a (shorter-than-me) stack all-in, an all-in by the Frog, and even though I was virtually certain that the Frog had pocket 9x9x, I went all-in to call. Hey! I was right! The initial all-in had AxKx and the Frog ate our chips.

Aces Players Club (5,000 chips)

I hate to even admit this but this blog does not lie. The late-night table was exceedingly wild, with two all-ins and rebuys within the first six hands. I’m playing cautiously, I think. I’ve still got most of my stack left twenty minutes in when I get to the flop with KT in my hand and two hearts on the flop. The lady across the table goes all-in. I call—which means I’m all-in—and another player follows. The lady flips JJx. The other caller flips KT. I look back down at my cards and what I see is KT. Not good. The jacks win. I decide my eyes need some rest but instead I play some poker.

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

Everything’s peachy until the last hand. Bleed some chips looking for a good hand, win a chunk of chips, repeat. It doesn’t work when my A9 runs into 88, though. Four players go to the flop: me, in the big blind, and three limpers. I make top pair on the 289 board, make a pot-sized raise that gets one call, and a player on the button raises to 450, which I call. Then the player who’d called my bet goes all-in for more than either of the other two of us in the hand. Mr. raise-to-450 gets out of the way and I stupidcall. Trips end my tournament.

Full Tilt $18,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

I’m above the starting stack for less than 20% of this tournament. My last hand is AA. The flop is AJ7. 98 calls my 628 all-in pre-flop, just from a starting stack. The turn of 6 and river T make his straight and my trip aces are no good.

Full Tilt On Demand (1,500 chips)

More textbook tournament stack building ruined by stupidcalling. Forty minutes in, I’d quadrupled my stack. I got J8, min-raised at the 40/80 level, got a call from the small blind, a raise from the big blind, and calls all around. The flop is J8T. Top pair and an open-ended straight draw. I raise 500, small blind folds and big blind calls. The river’s just 2 but Q shows on the river. I have a chance to bail when a 1,400 chip bet is raised but I go all-in with my Q-high straight. It’s called immediately by KA. Wouldn’t you?

February Wrapped Up

Full Tilt $12,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

The buy-in for this tournament was low, and I’m trying to get a strategy worked out for the Rush tournaments, so I entered this even though I tend to avoid the rebuy games. Three of the players at the table double-stacked themselves before the first hand began, but the size of the guarantee was good. My play wasn’t, though. Hand nine and I had KT. UTG raises to 60 and I call and we’re heads-up. The flop gives me two pair: 2K2. UTG bets 165, I pop him to 660 and he three-bets to 8K. I only have 720 left. He could have the other two kings, he could have a one of the other twos or he could have the two aces he shows when I call.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

This game doesn’t have either the lows or the highs of the previous Midnight Madness. Sure, I dip down below 1,000 chips a couple of times in the early levels, but nothing catches fire and by the time I pick up KA in the big blind at 150/300/25, I’ve dropped from 8,300 to 2,650 in twenty hands. The small blind shoves and puts me all-in to call, which I do. He’s got JQ and pairs the queen on the turn. 120 minutes and I go out in 645th place of 3,707.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

This month’s Irish Open Finals snuck up on me. I had intended to try to qualify in one of the weekly Semi-Finals earlier in the month so that I wouldn’t be playing the Semi the same day as the Final, since it looks like the ticket winners have to join after the match has begun. Anyway, this wasn’t a game that would qualify me for anything. I played for 50 minutes and briefly broke 3,000 chips, finishing 14th of 18.

Full Tilt $19,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

This could have gone well but I got overconfident with pocket TT after nearly quadrupling my stack over 20 minutes. I was in the small blind at 60/120 and UTG raised to 480. I called and was heads-up, relatively confident with a flop of 878.  I shouldn’t have been, though. I bet 1,000 and got a call. J came on the turn, giving me a flush draw and a potential straight flush. I checked and UTG bet it all, putting me all in if I called. Of course I did. Unfortunately, he had T8 for a set of eights from the flop. He had one of the tens I needed (which would give him a full house but me a better full house). The river was 7, giving him an unnecessary improvement to a full house. I was out 377th of 557.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Another game that goes nowhere but down. Out in 12th of 15 players.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Is my heart in these? 11th place of 12 players.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Something screws up on my computer at the last minute and I can’t get out of this match before it begins. Only six players sign up and there’s no semi-final ticket awarded, just cash distribution. Another pair of tens is my final hand.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Semi-Final (3,000 chips)

I tote up and enter the Semi directly. Things get off to a decent beginning and by the first break I’m up to 5,200, actually in the prize ticket zone. Not great but not under the starting stack. Another hour and I have slipped below that number, to 2,500 chips. Not where you want to be after two hours of play.

There are seven players at my table. There’s a stack of 14K to my right, three stacks between 9K and 11K, and a couple of about 5K. I’ve actually made it to the last two tables out of 45 players (Cake runs 10-player tables). There are eight tickets being awarded to the Final, which just started. Blinds are 150/300/30 and I raise to 600 with 33. One of the 5K stacks goes all-in. I call and he’s got KK. A 3 is the first card on the flop, the rest of the cards go 8J35. He’s got a king-high flush but I’ve got quad threes. My Expected Value graph goes crashing through the floor but I more than double my anemic stack. I’m still at barely above half the chip average.

My last hand in the match is a better starter but it isn’t nearly as lucky. I’m heads-up with another player after calling his 750 raise from the small blind in the same level as the above hand. I’ve got JQ on a board of K3T for a straight draw. I bet 900 after the flop and get a raise that puts me all-in. Or I can stay with the 4K I’ve got behind. I call. He’s got AK. An 8 and 7 appear but no ace or nine. Just over two hours, 15th place out of 45 players.

Cake Daily $700 Guarantee Turbo (4,000 chips)

This is almost a classic good trend for a tournament. I probed for a chance to build my stack through the first half hour, losing blinds and one small showdown. I doubled up to 5,800 with a AJ Mutant Jack, then won another 2,900 with JQ three hands later.

An hour into the match I had over 15K, after a pocket 88 made a set on the flop then a back door full house that won me almost 7K. A dozen hands more and I was over 23K. At the ninety-minute mark I was over 32K. I almost went out going all-in with 28K in chips (with blinds at 3,000/6,000/300) and QA against JJ pre-flop; luckily the river card was Q.

I wasn’t so lucky a few minutes later when I put AK up against A6. I was in the big blind at 2,000/4,000/400, there was a raise from the cutoff to 10,600, and I re-raised to 17,200, which was called. The 276 flop hit the six and he went all-in, having me covered by 20K or so. I called and lost. 123 minutes, 16th place of 174 players, ROI 90%.

It all went south on Hand 133.

Cake $1,000 Guarantee Turbo 6-Max (3,000 chips)

I managed to build well in the first hour of this match but hit a rough patch and lost three big hands that whittled my stack from 14K to 5K. Then I had the bad luck to think that my AT was the strongest hand of the two players who went to a T8K flop only to find that it was actually the guy with the other two tens in his hand. 64th of 211 players.

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.

Put a Spade In It

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Trying to get back on the track. Aces in the first three hands and I win only the very first (AK) and that’s just 30 chips. Another ace with a lower kicker pairs. I have to back off 66 when triple paint shows on the flop, and AQ loses out to a pair of sevens.

Full Tilt Step 1 Super Turbo (300 chips)

I will never enter another Super Turbo so long as I live. You might as well just roll dice.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Lost 600 on the first hand when an ace showed up late, doubled up from 395 only because a guy with 3K stayed in for absolutely nothing against my AJ all-in, then lost the whole thing with KK when 8A paired up.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Entered into the tournament twice and neither went anywhere. Got knocked out the final time by a Mutant Jack that paired over my eights.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Played pretty conservatively for twenty minutes until I got A5 at 60/120 when we were down to six players. I raised to 240 from the cutoff and got a call from the big blind. The flop was 348 and I bet another 240 after a check. He raised all-in and I called for everything I had. His 78 gave him a pair and the K K after the flop didn’t improve me any.

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

Another conservative game until the last hand. I got QQ and raised from the big blind of 30 to 210 in the hijack seat. The button re-raised all-in for 1,410 and UTG+2 went all-in to 2,385. Either one put me in and with QQ I took the plunge for 1,493. I saw KK and KK. Neither would improve but they didn’t need to. A pair of nines and a pair of aces on the board with an errant 6 and it was over.

Cake $1,000 Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Reasonably good going for fifteen minutes until I was dealt JQ in the small blind at 25/50. UTG+1 raised to 100, UTG+3 called, and both the blinds went along for the ride. I got top pair with TQ5 and bet 150. UTG+1 called but UTG+3 raised to 1,000. I wasn’t about to let him get away with that. But I should have. I called and the 9 on the turn gave me an up-or-down straight draw. I put in my last 280 and he went all-in to call, 40 short of my stack. The 3 didn’t connect with anything and when the cards turned over he had a a pair of queens, too, but with K instead of an ace for the kicker. I managed to quad up on my next hand but somehow that’s not so satisfying when you’re doing it with only 40 chips.

Aces Players Club (5,000 chips)

I’d managed to almost recover from some early losses with a 67 that turned into an 8-high straight on the flop. On another hand I double-pair A3 and push all-in to drive off an A5 that only connects on the top. Then I got JJ and raised to 250 with the blinds at 50/100. Several players came along and the flop was somewhat disturbing, with a Q. Everyone checked through that and the K on the turn. J on the river gave me trips but at the far end of the table a player bet 1,000. I came over the top for 2,500 and everyone but him dropped out and he called. It wasn’t until he turned over his 57 that I realized there was another spade on the flop. A little while later I had A9 and bet hard but the big stack two places to my left got three spades (including 9) on the flop to flush out his K5, which I saw after I tried to bluff him off. I had a small chance with runner-runner 9s or aces or any combination thereof to make a full house, but it didn’t happen and I was out in less than an hour.

That’s nine losses in a row. I think the streak is off.

Short Tournaments

Nothing elaborate, just a couple of short tournaments since the last post.

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

Came into the Rush game I’ve played before ten minutes late but near the beginning of the second level (15/30). No problem there. Didn’t lose any huge hands until the end but never managed to crack 2K.

Picked up KK after 15 minutes of play (at 30/60) and raised to 180 from the cutoff after everyone ahead of me folded. Big blind called. The flop was 69J and he put me all-in. I called and was ahead of his A6 until the A turned over. No king on the river for me and I was out 344th of 1,210.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

This was downhill from the first hand. I literally did not win a single pot, losing the last hand holding T6 on a glop of 3KA to a pair of jacks that wasn’t made until the river.

Cake Poker Irish Open Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Another bad start here. There were three tables when I began and we were five-handed on my first hand as I was in the big blind with 23. The cutoff raised to 70 after a fold from UTG. The small blind came along and a I didn’t throw my hand away as I should have. The flop was 655. Action checked to the cutoff and he bet 125. The small blind folded but I decided to chase the straight and called.

The 4 was the turn. I had my straight. I had four to a flush—I even had two outs for a straight flush—I bet the pot for 460 and got a call. Then the 5 landed on the river. I checked, my opponent bet 380, and I paid him off to see his TT make a full house after pulling a 9% chance out of his pocket.

I maintained at around 900 chips for about ten minutes until I pulled JJ. There were six players at the table and I was back in the big blind (still at the 10/20 level). The cutoff, button, and small blind limped in and when I raised to 100 everyone called.

The flop was T63, pretty safe for my jacks. I bet 790 all-in after the small blind checked and the button was the only caller, flipping over T9. And, of course, the 9 was the next card to flip, with a useless Q on the river, and I was the second player eliminated from a pretty small field.

Cut Off

The last couple of days have been a mixture of frustration and a feeling that maybe I’m breaking through a couple of barriers.

I didn’t play much on Wednesday. A $1K guarantee on Cake that didn’t last long, a bounty tournament where I fell out short of the money after making it to chip leader (but where I mitigated somewhat with a couple of bounties), and a shot at an Irish Open Quarter-Final Satellite that went bust.

Then, Thursday, I was atypically playing two tournaments simultaneously: another Irish Open QFS and a $1K guarantee. Personally, I like to concentrate on how the hands play out—even if I’ve folded—so that I can see what the other players are doing, and having two or more games running is too distracting.

I was managing to hold my own, though. The satellite had been running for 45 minutes and I’d been nearly busted out but worked my way back into the thick of things. We were 19 hands into the guarantee and I was about double my starting stack. Then Cake froze up. I left the client open for more than an hour, tested connectivity from another computer (in case it was my internal network, but I had no problems with Full Tilt or PokerStars). Even the web site was unavailable for a while. Once things got back up and running, my two games were gone, but there were a couple of small tournament awards in my cashier history and it looked like my buy-ins had been refunded. No announcement of what they’d done to resolve the technical glitch in Curaçao.

I switched over to Full Tilt for a bit and entered a Super Satellite to the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event, which had a qualifier playing last night. I didn’t do any better than 13th of 32. Going directly to a satellite was even worse: 15th of 18. Then again, I realized after I’d started playing that I’ve got a pretty big commitment the weekend after the tournament and in the very unlikely event I was to win a seat, I was going to be flaking out on something important just to play poker. And you wouldn’t ever want to do that.

I lasted about an hour in The Ferguson, but was somewhat distracted because I was—for the second time in a day— playing dual tournaments. Half an hour in I entered a $10K guarantee Rush tournament. The last couple of times I’d played the tournaments I’d seemed to have gotten a feel for how to play it, not using PokerTracker or my own tools. For a while, both games were running relatively well, but I ended up all-in in The Ferguson with A2 on a board of 342 only to run into a flopped straight with 56 (which also surprised the original all-in who had 33). No backdoor aces on the board for me, but 1,001st (of 2,159) place let me concentrate on the Rush game with a bit larger buy-in.

The game progressed more or less on a steady build. There was one big chunk taken out about hand 170 when my TA made top pair but pocket kings took the day (the third player in the hand, with AT was surprised , as well, but I wasn’t all-in). A graph of my chip total shows a couple of sharp notches in the line at hands 260 and 280 as well but in both cases I recovered to nearly my previous position within a few hands. KA tripled me up at one point against QK when two players called my all-in and a K was the first card on the flop. Another time I caught A2A on the flop to trip up my TA against KK, which doubled my chip stack.

A min raise at 300/600/75 from a player in the UTG+2 position in hand 325 prompted me to call from the big blind with K2 after everyone else had folded. The flop of 278 gave me at least a pair, and as he’d had several stacks of equal or greater size following him when he raised (with 21K to my 17K) it seemed unlikely that he’d have gone with anything in that range. I bet another 1,200 and he called. A 3 turned and I checked to see what he’d do, still thinking he was probably unconnected to any of it. He bet 2,400, I called, and the river rolled out K. No flushes or straights possible. Nothing that could make a full house. I had the top pair and bottom pair. He didn’t seem aggressive enough to have been holding kings himself or a pocket pair that matched the board. I checked to see what he’d do and he went all-in. I called and won 34K when he showed JQ.

I couldn’t have gone out on a better hand, although it would have been better not to go out. It was 400/800/100 on hand 354. I got AA on the button. UTG+1 made the call and I min-raised to 1,600 (I should really have pushed harder). The blinds dropped out and UTG+1 called, putting us heads-up. The flop was 7Q2, there was 5,300 in the pot, I had 27K against his 43K. He checked; I bet 2,500. He raised to 5,555, I went all-in, he called. He shows QJ for the lower pair. 58,808 in the pot and the turn card’s 5. He needs one of the jacks or another queen. And that’s what shows up on the river: Q. I go out of the tournament in 41st (of 1,062) with an ROI of 170% (he makes it to 16th).

Another $1K guarantee at Cake rounds out this account. No steady climb this. An hour into the tournament I was back at “GO” (i.e. 1,500 chips) but then things took off an in about 20 hands I was over 12K and racing down to the cash. Some laydown I made to avoid getting knocked out before the bubble took me down but a couple of helpful ace hands pushed me back up. A set of threes beat pocket fours to put me back in long enough to take 11th and an ROI of 176%.

Use the Force

Played a $1K guarantee on Cake. The overlay on their guarantee tournaments is usually decent; in the case of this particular tournament the buy-ins only paid 79% of the guarantee.

I made it up to 7K and first place in the tournament (from a starting stack of 3K) in about 20 hands, taking out two players with a QA and more than doubling up.

After getting knocked down a couple thousand I got too cautious. A K8 came my way. Play was nine-handed, I was UTG+3 and the blinds were 125/250/25.  UTG called. UTG+1 went all-in for 1,360. UTG+2 folded. I had 6,670 chips, enough to cover all but two of the players by a couple thousand chips. K8s wins or ties 16.49% of hands at nine players, it’s in the top 15% of hands, and I typically play it in this type of situation. I folded.

Both blinds folded and the UTG caller matched the raise. It was A7 for the UTG and TT for the all-in. The board ran 3K5 9 4 and the pocket pair won more than 3K that could have gone to my kings.

It was another couple of spades—4A—that gave me pause in the wrong spot after I’d managed to make it up over 8K (at 150/300/30). Maybe it was because it was another A4. Nine-handed, A4s is actually a marginally better hand pre-flop than ATo.

The big blind put that player all-in. UTG+3 called (with 4,200 behind) as did I, from the button (8,100 left). The small blind raised to 1,676. He was one of the two larger stacks at the table and had another 8,700. UTG+3 re-raised all-in to 4,464. I folded and the big stack called. It was AJ for the big stack against a 66. An A showed on the flop, but a 4 came on the turn. Another 10K not to me.

I managed to get up to 16K with a set of queens against a pair of kings, but was knocked out the next hand in 30th place in a battle of pocket pairs. Minimum cash.

The Hand 130 Curse Again

Man, do I feel stupid.

Yesterday’s Irish Open Semi-Final got off to a decent start. With direct buy-ins, forty players were in the competition, and the prize pool had seven tickets to the final (which was set to begin two hours after the start of the semi-final).

A4 was the hand of the day. I made my first two wins with 4A and 4A before a TQ popped me up to more than twice the 3K starting stack. Then I took my first hit from an A4 that turned into a 5-high straight flush.

I had a dry card spell for a while and slipped back down to near the starting stack until things kicked into gear just before the break at the end of the first hour, with blinds at 50/100. I had a sketchy J8 but called a raise of 200 from UTG+1. The big blind called and there were three of us to a JT3 flop. Action checked to me in the cutoff seat and I bet 300 with both other players calling. 7 showed up on the turn, giving me top pair and a gut-shot straight draw. I put out another 300. The big blind called but UTG+1 gave up.

The 8 hit on the river. I had two pair but there was a potential flush on the board. I had 2,800 chips, covering the stack in the big blind by about 900. He went all-in and I called, and I was glad a 9 hadn’t showed because he had KQ for an open-end straight draw. That was all he had, though so my two pair cleaned him out.

Ten minutes later, after the break, I got the Mutant Jack: AJ. Blinds were at 75/150 and I raised to 300 from UTG+1, leaving 7,500 behind. The button, with about 6.150, re-raised to 1,050 and both the blinds folded, leaving me heads-up. I called. The flop was a somewhat worrying J99 and I checked. The button put out nearly half his stack as a bet and I raised him all-in, seeing it as an attempt to push me off. He called and showed TT, giving me a one-better two pair. The 7 on the turn was very unwelcome, whaat with 12.5K in the pot, but the river Q meant I was up to more than 14K, or 11.6% of the chips in play in the tournament. More on that later.

Another bluff attempt gave me my next bump in another ten minutes. I was dealt A7 in the small blind, at the 100/200 level. The only caller was UTG and when action got to me I raised to 400. The big blind folded, but UTG called and I was rewarded with a flop of 64J. I wanted to try to get as many chips out of this as I could and checked. So did UTG. The 3 showed on the turn, which gave straight possibilities to anyone playing some low hands. I tapped the gas with a bet of 400, which was called. The flop was a somewhat unwelcome 5, which made it possible that my ace-high flush could be beaten by someone holding 23 for a 6-high straight flush, but that’s pretty unlikely (although I saw a straight flush the other day). Since I had the 7 he couldn’t be straight flushing the other direction. I put out 1,000, figuring that he’d fold. Much to my surprise, he raised to 4,800. He either had the straight flush or a good fifth heart or a lot of bluff. I knew I had the best regular flush and took the chance he hadn’t bet out 400 on 23. I raised all-in (I probably should have just called, he had  me covered by several thousand) and he folded.

Eventually I was up to nearly 20K in chips with just under 1/6 of the chips in the tournament. I was the chip leader (and I’d been the chip leader for a period earlier, as well). I should have been satisfied. With seven tickets to the final, the average stack at the end of play would have about 17K. All I had to do was make safe bets to stay in the mid-teens—or in all likelihood, just fold—for the rest of the tournament. But what time was it?

It was hand 130, or close enough. On hand 120, I picked up KA. Great hand, much of the time but did I really need the chips? There were only seven at the table at 125/250/20. I was in the hijack seat and UTG+1 raised to 625. Me with my big, manly AK raised to 1,000. Everyone but the original raiser folded. A Q6A flops and he, impressed by my magnificence checks, as do I. An 8 turns up, he checks and I bet 1,000, which is called. A 2 shows on the river and he pretends to have a flush, betting 2,775. I call. Not only does he have a flush but at best I would have been splitting the pot because he’s got AK.

Bad, sure but recoverable. I still have nearly 15K in chips. I’m still in the top three in the tournament. Five minutes later we’re still in the same level. I’m holding KQ in UTG+1 and raise to 500. The hijack (with 6K in chips) and big blind (8K) both call. The flop falls 72K and I bet 500 when it’s my turn. Hijack raises to 2,000 and the big blind folds. The hijack only has 3,333 behind and I raise him all-in. Lucky him, because he’s holding KA. No queen shows up to save me and I’m down to 8.5K and in seventh place on the leaderboard, which means unless I can climb back up I’m probably out of the running for a finals ticket. That was hand 129.

Of course, my attempts to climb back up only submerge me further. The Mutant Jack fails me at one point to the tune of several thousands chips, dropping me below the starting stack. I manage to claw my way back into relevance with a QA and 96 (which I wouldn’t usually play except I was in the big blind.

My last big hand came down to me in the small blind with A7 and the big blind with AJ. The board was 54K K 8 and it was the jack that decided the outcome. After that it was just a couple more hands before I was out in tenth place with the smallest of the cash prizes.

As it was, we didn’t finish before the beginning of the Final. My elimination came tw0-and-a-half hours into the tournament and anyone who got a ticket to the final would have had to enter after that point. Nobody from our semi-final seems to have won either of the two packages awarded in the final.

The chart below shows my chip count throughout the 179 hands I played. The green line is the projection of my chips if I’d done nothing but fold after reaching the my peak, which would have been about 13,750 at hand 180. At the time I was eliminated—with just two more eliminations to go before the tournament was over—only three of the ten players had more than 14,000 chips.

Chip count chart for Irish Open Semi-Final 30 January 2011

Chip count chart for Irish Open Semi-Final 30 January 2011. Red line shows actual chips; green line shows projected chip stack based on folding only.

After W put me out with the A4 last week at the Catsino, I ran across this report from the Aussie Millions $250,000 buy-in event‘s final table:

[Sam] Trickett was responsible for much of the mayhem during this stretch, eliminating four of the six players who fell during the bustout bonanza. He took 3.2 million into heads-up play against the 1 million of David Benyamine and the 700,000 of Erik Seidel. It wasn’t long before he scored a fifth elimination at the final table. Trickett moved all in with the board showing AT8A and Benyamine made the call. Their cards:

Trickett: A4
Benyamine: A6

River: 4!

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.