Mobbed Up

The Caesars Palace Kick-Off Classic Seniors tournament was a small affair, just 43 entries, but it had a decent prize pool because of the $350 entry fee.

I flew down to Las Vegas on the morning of September 11 (whee!) after working until midnight Monday. Got a couple hours of sleep at home before I headed to the airport, then another 45 minutes or so on the plane. I did the $50 upgrade to first class so I could take advantage of the leg room and wider seat. Got in a cab from McCarran International to Caesars, and checked in on the number of registrants at the poker room cashier.

I’d made some calculations about what the payouts would be at various numbers of players, because some of the events had been rather small–@CLVPoker had been tweeting that they’d been having to add money to the prize pools for the series–and I figured that if there were just a handful of entries I’d just wait for the noon $130 $15K guarantee tournament. Even with only 13 players registered ahead of me at ten minutes before start, I figured the median payout would be worthwhile, and there were more than two hours for late registration and re-entry.

I picked up some chips with AxAx on my third hand in the big blind. Forty-five minutes into the game, I’d lost ground, but still had 20,000 (100BB) of my original 25,000. The tournament had 38 entries by that time, although 4 had already fallen by the wayside.

My original seat had me placed next to a “New Yawk” guy with one of those personalities that you either love or that rubs you the wrong way. He was quite effusive when he was picking up chips, but a guy at the far end of the table with a Mexican flag on his ball cap who’d lost several big hands then cracked New Yawk’s aces with a flopped set of threes and doubled up. On his next BB, there were a couple of limps and when the dealer asked him about his option, New Yawk contemptuously threw his blind chips in the middle to check, which wasn’t particularly impressive considering that we were at 100/200, with the smallest chips in play being 50s.

Then I made one of the stupid mistakes that seem to be my hallmark in Vegas tournaments. I picked up the Mutant Jack hand and intended to 3x raise to 900 but my mouth started to say “thousand” instead of “hundred.” I didn’t quite finish the word, but a ruling from the floor made it stand so a big chunk of my chips were in. I got called and hit the nut flush draw, then shoved to try to get a fold, but got called and ended up losing half my stack. Fortunately, I managed to recover fairly quickly, and 100 minutes into the game (and aces again as big blind) and I was back over starting stack.

At the first break, there were 34 or 42 entries remaining and the chip average was just under 31,000. I had only 25,800, but that was still 43BB, so things were going fine, so far as I was concerned.

Just after the break I knocked out a player with AxKx v QxJx and essentially doubled to more than 50,000. Registration closed shortly thereafter, at the aforementioned 43 players and a prize pool of $12,513.

The next hour was very quiet for me. I wasn’t picking up any hands. There was a very aggressive Asian woman in the spot where the Mexican guy had been seated earlier (he was still playing at another table, New Yawk had eventually succumbed). Nothing much was coming my way for cards but we were down to about 25 players and I had 49BB. The Asian lady in seat 10 had 80BB and was the chip leader. It seemed like most everyone knew either each other or the dealers reasonably well, so I felt a little odd-man-out, but it didn’t bother me.

A friend messaged me to ask what the table was like; this was my reply: They’re old people. They play like old people mostly. Like I am these days.

A little bit later, I raised with AxJx and ended up at the river of a 8x4x6x4xTx board and three-barreled it to take down the pot, putting me up around 58,000, only to have a KarmaBite™ cut me in half by breaking my TxTx with 4x4x hitting a straight.

Five hours in and I was down under the starting stack, with just 21,000 chips and not even 11BB. My all-in lucky catch was with an Ax2x shove from BTN. SB called with AxTx. A deuce hit the flop and doubled me up. Just a little bit later and with even more chips I raised KxKx 5x from early position with 15BB behind and the lady in seat 10 shoved. I called and she flipped over 5x2x. My heart just about stopped as the board ran out 6x5x3x3x3x. That put me up over 90,000, nearing twice the chip average. Seat ten went on a quick rampage and knocked out a player with a similar-sized stack, going back up to 120,000 or so.

16 players left five-and-a-half hours in. 101,000 chips and 34BB for me. 5 more were out in the next half-hour and I’d climbed to 120,000 (30BB). Then 150,000 just before dinner break. We were at the final table just before break and there was some talk about not taking the break but I, for one, was ready and we still had four or five players to go before the money bubble (only five places paid).

Ran across the street to The Quad (my go-to home in Vegas) on dinner break to check into my room and dump my bag. Sat for a little bit, called my wife, then got back to work.

The big hand of the night was against the woman who’d doubled me up earlier. I had A8s and called a 4x raise of 24,000 from BB, then bet 25,000 on a rainbow flop of 7x9xTx. She shoved 50,000 and I thought about it for a little bit before I called. She had KxQx, so I was extremely fortunate that the high end of my straight draw didn’t come through. Neither of us paired. She seemed a little shocked that I called, but she was out in 9th place and I had over 20% of the chips in play.

Most of that went away in just a few minutes when my QxQx were beat by KxJx. That loss knocked me down from 216,000 to 80,000 (10BB). Doubled back up against the same guy with TxTx v AxTx. Then I knocked out a player holding AxTx with Kx9x. Twenty minutes after losing my big stack, I was back up to 200,000 (20BB by then) and we were at six players. There, we made a deal to pay sixth place $500, with each of the top 5 contributing $100. Picked up AxAx in SB this time and knocked out #6. One of the guys had to borrow $100 until payouts to pay off the bubble boy (are there bubble boys in a Seniors tournament?). I was the chip leader with well over 300,000.

20130911 Caesars Palace Kick-Off Classic Seniors

Maximum stack for Poker Mutant during the Caesars Seniors tournament

 I knocked out a player and we were down to 4. Then I lost a fairly large amount of stacks to another player with (I hate to admit it) AxJx, against AxQx. That evened out the stacks quite a bit. A player from Arkansas who’d been chip leader before I took over and who seemed to have a fair amount of respect from everyone involved (more on that in a second) agreed to a 4-way even chop and we stopped a little more than nine hours in, with each of us getting $2,700 ($2,800 payout minus the $100 we’d paid to the bubble).

It was nice to finally have some vindication with a decent cash in Vegas. Yes, it was fewer than 50 entries, the buy-in was only $350, it was a Seniors tournament, and it wasn’t even my biggest cash, but it got me my entry into the Hendon Mob database.

It was an anxious week before the entry showed up and, of course, it had its own pluses and minuses. I knew when we chopped that the actual dollar values weren’t going to be recorded there. Caesars doesn’t facilitate chops, the tournament director randomly assigned places to the four of us, we got the payouts we were randomly assigned, and we just had to trust that the guys getting paid more weren’t going to walk away from the cage and out the hallway into the main casino before they shared their portion of the chop. The perverse part of that was the guy from Arkansas and I got the bottom two rungs of the payouts, despite having had more chips than the other two. So my Hendon Mob winnings so far are about half my actual winnings. The plus of the listing is that once I could look up my table mates, I could see that the guy from Arkansas was the 2004 WSOP Seniors tournament gold bracelet winner. So that was kind of interesting.

My BLUFF Power Rank is currently 74,550. Watch out 74,549!

I played a tournament that evening at the Venetian, tried a Turbo game on Carbon, then went to the Wynn’s noon game the next day where I only got through a third of the field of 24 before I busted. I did have an enlightening walk behind the Strip hotels past the under-construction Linq project with several thousand dollars in my pocket on my way to the bank, feeling a little leery as I walked past this property (which riders on the Linq should have a great view of).


FOR RENT: “Clean”, 1 BR, walking distance to Strip hotels

 Mostly played on Carbon for the week after I got home. Made it to 146th of 879 in a $175K Poker Maximus tournament for a min-cash but didn’t hit in anything else but a regular PLO8 game for just a few dollars. made it to 5th place in a $10K at Final Table, then 4-tabled Poker Maximus tournaments on the final Sunday, getting in late to the $250K and making it to the top third of the field, getting knocked out of the $40K and $50K, then making it within 20 places of the money in the $75K (162/967, top 17%). Hosted a small PLO/PLO8/Big O/Courcheval mixed tournament in the Catsino and was close to a win but had my big lead HU disappear. It’s going to be a couple of quiet weeks busy with work stuff, but I’m hoping to make a trip to Reno for the Fall Pot of Gold after that.

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!