Sweet Spot

The following is a message based on payout structures from the Venetian Deepstack Extravaganza series (this PDF is no longer on the Venetian web site, the link goes to the invaluable archive.org).

Everyone likes to maximize their money, and the conventional wisdom says: “More entries, more money.” But as we know from brutal experience, we don’t always win the top prize. How do you make the most of your tournament dollar? Plan for the average.

Obviously, if you don’t make the money at all, you’re a loser. But if you do make the cash, what can you expect to make, on the average? Field size has a lot to do with that.

While the money up top is always great, looking at payout structures like the Venetian’s makes clear that there’s a “sweet spot” in tournament size for anyone who cashes on a regular basis.

This chart shows the minimum, median, and maximum payout from a single full table to 200 players based on every $100 per player in the prize pool.

Number of Entrants
(min% / med% / max%)
Minimum Payouts Median Payouts Maximum Payouts
(20 / 30 / 50)
$180-$580 $230-$870 $450-$1450
(7 / 20 / 35)
$210-$413 $600-$1180 $1050-$2065
(3.8 / 7 / 32)
$228-$380 $420-$700 $1920-$3200
(2 / 4.5 / 30)
$202-$280 $455-$630 $3030-$4200
(1.6 / 2.7 / 27)
$226-$320 $381-$540 $3807-$5400

Or, graphically:


What’s being represented here? Specifically, it’s the bounds of the smallest possible cash (someone who beats 90% of the field) in red, the person who beats 100% of the field (minus themselves, of course) in purple, and the person who makes it halfway through the cash by beating 95% of the field (in green). There is, of course, variation in payout structures, but there is always a point at which the maximum prize begins to exponentially outstrip the median. In the case of the Venetian Deepstack structure, that shift happens at 60 players, when the median value goes from nearly 60% of the maximum payout to a mere quarter of the max. In the zone between 30 and 59 entries, the median payout is almost three times the minimum cash, in the next zone, it’s only double. In the last zone represented in these charts, the median cash is just 10% of the maximum, and only 160% of the min-cash.

Playing tournaments with 4 to 7 tables then becomes a quantity game, with maximum prizes from just under 900-1900% profit and median cashes of around 500-1000% profit. For players with and ITM of 20%, those size games should be good targets.

Locking It Down

Lock Poker $1,000 Guaranteed Deepstack NLHE (T5,000)

I haven’t been playing online except in spurts in recent months. Haven’t had great results overall, but I’ve been plugging away at a single buy-in level on Lock the past couple weeks. My last “big” win online was a couple years back at Full Tilt, when I came in second in a field of over 400 but today marked a relatively significant win. I apologize in advance for the length of this recap even without every hand; it’s a long way to the money.

Hand 1. [7c 4h] UTG
Blinds 10/20. Fold.

Hand 2. [7h 2d] BB
Raise and two callers ahead of me. I fold.

Hand 3. [9c th] SB
A significant hand.  There are two limpers ahead of me and I call out of position. BB checks and four of us go to a flop of [7h 7d 8s]. This is pretty decent for me. I bet 35 into a pot of 80 and get calls from UTG1 and CO. [6s] onthe turn makes my straight and I bet another 100. UTG1 calls. The river is just [3d]. There are several full house possibilities on the board (and the quad 7s possible). My opening bet is 20, a measly 5%of the pot, but that seems to make UTG1 go wild. He shoves all-in with just over a full starting stack. I call and he’s just got [9h ks], a complete bluff on the third hand. The win puts me over 10,000 chips (but I’m still in something like third place; apparently there were idiots all around). UTG1 is down to 170.

Hand 4. [7h 2d] BTN
Twice in my first four hands? It’s OK, I’ve got twice the starting stack. One raise ahead of me and I fold.

Hand 5. [9c qh] CO
A raise from UTG. I fold.

Hand 6. [8s 3s] UTG
New table. I fold.

Hand 7. [3c jc] BB
UTG2 raises to 60, SB calls, and I’ve got chips, so I call. The flop is [5d 5c 7s], it’s checked to UTG2, he raises to 60, SB calls and I fold.

Hand 8. [3c ks] SB
Raise and a call, and I fold.

Hand 9. [7s 2c] BTN
Third time in nine hands. I fold.

Hand 10. [8c 3h] CO
OK. Seven-deuce three times and eight-three twice. In ten hands. Fold.

Hand 11. [3s 6s] HJ
Blinds to 15/30. Fold.

Hand 14. [qh qc] UTG1
Raise to 60 and three calls.  Flop of [5s 7s 8s], I bet 100, one caller drops out. Turn is [tc], BB checks, I check, UTG3 bets 308, BB calls, and I fold my nice pair. Likely flush for someone other than me with [ks] on the river and I’m glad I’m out of it.

Hand 15. [ah ad] UTG
The tide of less-than-premium hands turns? I min-raise to [ah ad]. Only the blinds call. [9h 8s kc] flops, the blinds check, I make a pot-sized bet of 180 and get a call from BB. Turn is [9h], we both check. River makes me a full house with [9c]. BB bets 540 and I figure that unless he’s got the [9s] or a pair of kings I’m good and I’ve still got a regular starting stack if I’m wrong. I shove and he folds.

Hand 16. [2d ac] BB
CO limps, SB raises after losing a big pot to me, and I fold.

Hand 17. [3s 2h] SB
HJ limps again. BTN raises again. I fold, despite my penchant for the deuce-trey.

Hand 18. [8c 7s] BTN
HJ limps, CO raises (again). I fold.

Hand 19. [4c 2d] CO
Blinds to 25/50. Fold.

Hand 20. [kc 7d] HJ
UTG3 raises (again). I fold.

Hand 23. [qs as] UTG1
I open to 125, three callers, blinds fold. Flop is [qh 3s 3h]. I’m first to act and bet 500 into a pot of 575. Everyone folds.

Hand 25. [js 3s] SB
Two limps and I call out of position again. Flop’s [6h 4h 4d]. I check, BB bets, and I’m finished with this one.

Hand 26. [8h ks] BTN
Blinds to 30/60. Fold.

Hand 27. [qh kc] CO
Only seven players on the table at the moment. UTG1 raises to 210. I call and we’re HU to the [7c 3d jc] flop. He bets 255, which I call. [8d] for the turn. He puts out another 1,020 and I fold.

Hand 31. [ac qc] UTG1
Back to nine players. I open to 200 and get called by UTG3 and CO.  [7d ks 3c] on the flop and a c-bet of 400 takes it down.

Hand 34. [ac 6c] BTN
UTG2 limps in and gets raised byHJ to 200. I call and both BB and UTG2 are in. I get top two on the [4h as 6s] flop. Action’s checked to me and with nearly 900 in the pot and a flush draw out there, I bet 600. BB folds, UTG2 raises me to 1,954, and HJ is out. UTG2 is about even in chips with me, although I have him covered by a bit. Everyone else is about half my size. I raise him all-in and he folds. The win puts me over 13,300, with about 6,000 between me and anyone else at the table.

Hand 46. [ah 4h] UTG2
Blinds are 40/80. UTG1 opens to 180 and I call, with both the blinds following along. [7c qs 2d] on the flop and I fold to a pot-sized bet of 720 from UTG1. Heck, I would have gone away from that flop for 80.

Hand 54. [kc 8c] HJ
Blinds are 50/100. I call a raise to 225 from UTG1. BB comes along. Catch middle pair on [8h qc 5d] flop. UTG1 overbets the pot with 1,000, I raise him to 2,000 out of cussedness. BB folds and he shoves for over 60% of my stack. So much for cussedness. I fold. Down to 10,700.

Hand 59. [6h kc] BB
UTG2, HJ and CO limp in. I check. I get a gut-shot with [5d 4s 7c] and donk-bet 250.  UTG2 raises to 725 which is called by CO. I call. The turn is a [qd]. I check, UTG2 checks, CO bets 500 into a pot of over 2,600 and we both call him. [7h] on the river goes nowhere for me. It’s checked around to CO again, he bets 900 and I get out of the way with my nothing-burger. UTG2 calls with [8d 8s] but CO had a flush draw and made a set on the river with [6d 7d]. I’m down to under 9,400.

Hand 60. [7s 2c] SB
Again. Fold. By this time, changes to the table have brought in a couple players with bigger stacks. BB on this hand has over 14,000 and there’s a stack of more than 18,500 on the other side. Even HJ had more than me, so I’m just table median.

Hand 63. [tc td] HJ
Blinds 75/150/15. Open-raise to 500. Blinds fold.

Hand 66. [8d 8c] UTG1
Open to 400. Called by HJ. Raised to 1,960 by CO. Blinds are out. HJ has only another 1,400, but an all-in loss to HJ would cut me below starting stack. I just call, rather than re-raising, which leaves me with 7,600. HJ is all-in for less. The flop isn’t good: [th ks 9s]. I check-fold to the expected shove from CO, who has [kh as]. HJ has some potential life with [3s 4s], but no more spades come (and no eights). Now I’m actually the third-smallest stack at the table of eight.

Hand 85. [tc qs] UTG
Blinds are 125/250/25. I’ve blinded off 1,500 chips waiting for a playable hand. I limp in with The Butcher and to my surprise, find myself HU with BB. Flop’s [8c qd ks], 850 in the pot, BB bets 425 with 4,800 behind and I raise him all-in. He folds. Back up to 7,100.

Hand 88. [jc th] BTN
UTG1 open-raises to 675. I call and we’re HU. The flop makes me open-ended with [4d qs kd] but we’re both playing it cautious and check. [3c] on turn. Checks again. [3s] river does nothing for me (or him, apparently), we both check, he shows [8s 8d] and wins. Down to 6,000.

Hand 91. [th jd] UTG3
Action folds to me and I raise to 600 (10% of my chips). Jack-ten can’t always lose, right? I get one call, the flop is ugly for me: [2d kh 7h] but I take a stab at it anyway with a bet of 1,000 and HJ folds. It’s just that easy. Back over 7,000 for a little while.

Hand 95[qs jh] BB
UTG raises to 600, action folds to me, and I call. [6c qh 2d] on the flop, I check it, UTG c-bets 675, I raise to 2,000 (4,400 behind, he’s got me covered by 600), he calls. Turn is [6d] and I shove. He folds, and I’m nearly back up to 10,000.

Hand 96. [7c 2c] SB
At least it’s suited. Maybe it’s some sort of divine retribution for winning that hand. I’m going to check the deviation from norm of this when I get done.

Hand 99. [td 9d] HJ
Blinds are 150/300/30. UTG opens to 600 and I call, along with BB. BB’s big stack at the table with about twice the 9K the other two of us have. [ks 4s jd] on the flop and everyone checks. [5h] on the turn and everyone checks. [qs] on the river. It’s checked to me, I bet 1,000 with my bottom-end straight and take the pot. Finally over 11,000 again.

Hand 103. [8c 7c] BB
HJ (big stack) opens to 600, BTN, SB, and I call. Flop is [th 8s 2c]. Both us blinds check, HJ bets 1,760, and I decide to fold after everyone else is out, too. Still over 10,600.

Hand 111. [as 6s] UTG
I open to 700 and get a call from BTN. BB re-raises to 1,945 with 6,300 behind. I call and have 8,300 left. BTN goes all-in for 2,566, which gets called by BB and myself. 8,100 in the pot pre-flop. The flop is [5s 6h 2d]. BB goes all-in. I call, thinking he might be trying to shove me off with ace-king. BTN has [ah 2h], BB has me over a barrel with [qc qs]. The turn is no help with [jc], but the classic [ac] on the river gives me top two pair and more than 21,000 chips, second at the table.

Hand 116. [kd kc] UTG1
Blinds 200/400/40. New table. I do the classic limp, wait for BTN to go all-in for 6,840, watch the blinds fold, then call. He catches a pair for his [th ac] on the turn, but [ks] on the river makes my set and I’m at nearly 29,000.

Hand 117. [qd ac] UTG
Min-raise to 800. A call from the only other stack with more than 20,000 at the table in SB. [6c 2s ks] flop, he checks, I c-bet 1,000, he folds.

Hand 118. [2s 2c] BB
I’ve been discarding my small pairs as a matter of habit, and even though there was just a limp, min-raise, and call ahead of me in BB, I tossed these only to see a flop off [2d tc 6h]. Never know when there might be a better set out there with deuces, though.

Hand 119. [8h 8s] SB
Eights, on the other hand, are a different kettle of fish. UTG moved all-in for just 3,800 which, though small, was 20% of anyone else at the table’s stack. Action folded around to me and I called. BB folded and I was HU  against [3d qd]. The board ran out [ah 2s ac 3c 5h], proving that it wasn’t just me getting lucky that day. I was still over 26,000.

Hand 127. [9d 9s] BB
Another middle pair fared poorly against the same player not long afterward. He was UTG1 and raised to 865. I called and was HU. We flopped [ts qs 5h], I checked, he bet 915, and I called. [td] on the turn and I bet 2,000. He had 5,800 remaining and shoved it in. I called, he flipped [kc kh] and the river [8s] (and my own stupidity) dropped me down to just over 18,000.

Hand 135. [8c tc] UTG
Blinds 250/500/50. I raised to 1,000 and everyone folded.

Hand 136. [9s kd] BB
Everyone folds to SB, who limps in. I check, the flop falls [7c qd tc]. He bets 725 and I call with my gut-shot draw. [ac] for the turn. He bets 1,500 and I fold, preserving my stack of 17,600.

Hand 138. [qd qh] BTN
Big hand. HJ opens for 1,325, with 10,600 behind. I raise all-in for 17,262, more than either of the blinds behind me. HJ calls with [as 9s] and doesn’t catch anything on the board: [js 7d jc 6h 7s]. The knockout puts me over 30,000.

Hand 141. [5s 5h] UTG1
Seven-handed. The fives are still out of my preferred range, but I’m more than 10,000 chips ahead of anyone at the table. I raise to 1,000, get re-raised to 2,695 by CO (12,000 behind), then think better of it and fold when action gets back to me.

Hand 143. [jc ts] UTG
Eight-handed. I raise to 1,250. UTG1 shoves for 9,205. Without any more money in the pot, I fold.

Hand 144. [ah jd] BB
HJ opens for 1,000 with 17,400 back. I just call. The flop is [3s tc 3c] and we both check. I check the [jc] turn, so does he. [8d] for the river. I bet 2,000, he calls, and I win against [as 8c]. Caution, caution.

Hand 148. [9s qs] HJ
I open for 1,250 and take the blinds.

Hand 149. [kc ad] UTG3
Open for 1,500. Everyone folds again.

Hand 157. [ts 8s] HJ
Blinds at 300/600/60. Seven-handed. I open to 1,500 and BB calls. The flop isn’t particularly good: just [5c 6d 6s]. We both check. [qs] for the turn. BB checks, I check. The river is [8c]. No flush for me, but it’s a little something. BB checks again, I bet 2,000, he calls and his [th qh] is the best. This player would eventually take second place in the tournament; he started this hand with less than 9,000 chips, so I can blame myself for that. No serious damage to me, still above 28,500.

Hand 159. [ts ad] UTG
Open to 1,450. Apparently I’ve still got some cred, even without the table lead, because everyone folds.

Hand 160. [5s 5c] BB
The player I just lost to bumps it up to 1,560, so naturally I call him with my fives (about which I already had something to say). This time, the flop falls [4s 2c as] and we both check. [3c] on the river and I check, he checks. I wait to see the river [6d] to make sure there’s no ugly flush waiting for my straight, then bet 3,000 into the 3,800 pot and he folds.

Hand 162. [kh ks] BTN
A player with twice my stack of 32,000 chips has been moved to my immediate left, which is just great, but this hand does help even things up a bit. UTG raises to 1,333, then UTG1 shoves for 15,300. Action folds to me. Aside from the big stack in SB, BB has 22,000 and UTG has about the same, but unless they’ve got aces or catch a card, I should be good. I shove to force them out and they fold. UTG1 has [ah kd], nothing shows up for him in the board, and I’m near 50,000.

Hand 173. [js kd] UTG1
Blinds were 400/800/75. I opened for 1,750, My nemesis in SB shoved 11,314 and I brazenly called, only to be dominated by [kc qd]. I was incredibly lucky when the board double-paired: [3h 2c 3s 5c 5d] and we split the pot.

Hand 178. [qh 7h] CO
Seven-handed, this was on the edge of my range. I raised to 1,700 and took the blinds.

Hand 180. [ks 7s] UTG1
I was the second limper into the pot, and we both saw the flop along with BB. [4s 4d 5h], a bet of 1,000 from BB, and a call from UTG and I was finished with the hand.

Hand 181. [ac ts] UTG
Blinds 500/1,000/100. Raised to 2,000, BB called. Flop was [9c kd 2d], we both checked. [7h] turn. Checked through. [6d] river, he smells my weakness and bets 5,200, I fold.

Hand 192. [qh kh] CO
UTG2 (the nemesis) is all-in for 11,600. Things have leveled out over the past 30 hands, and while I’ve gained 10,000 chips, the big stack on my left if BTN has lost 20,000. Still, I’ve got him covered by only about 750. SB has half my stack of 41,200, and BB has 36,700. I just call. Then BB shoves. I could fold and maintain nearly 30,000, but I call with just 3,500 behind. UTG2 has [ac as]. BB has [js jc]. The flop hits me hard: [qc 4c ks]. The [ah] turn starts to lock up at least some of the pot for UTG2, and a [3s] river triples him up, wipes out BB, and earns me a profit of 14,400, putting me around 55,700.

Hand 200. [9s js] BTN
Blinds are 600/1,200/120. CO opens for 3,600 and I call. I get a beautiful [7s 8h 6s] flop, CO bets 6,600 into a pot of about 10,000. I just call. The turn [8s] gives me the flush as well as the up-and-down straight flush draw. CO is all-in. I have to call; even with only 19,400 behind. He’s drawing thin with [qh qd] hoping for a queen or another eight. [9c] on the river and I’m at 89,000.

Hand 201. [ts ac] CO
UTG1 is all-in for 9,900. I call and we’re HU. He has [js qh], catches a [qs] on the flop and wins.

Hand 202. [kc as] HJ
I open for 4,000 and take the blinds.

Hand 209. [qc tc] CO
UTG min-raises to 3,200 (76K behind), HJ calls (54K), and I call (76K). Flop [ts 5h 6s]. UTG checks, HJ bets 3,200, I raise to 10,000. They both fold and I’m over 92,000.

Hand 210. [as td] HJ
I open to 4,000 and BB calls. I’ve got him out-chipped by about 17K. The flop is [8c jh 2c], he checks to me, I check back. Turn is [9h]. Checked again. [5c] on the river, we both check, and his [4h 4s] take the pot of 10,000. This player would go on to win the tournament.

Hand 211. [qd kd] UTG2
UTG1 opens to 3,200, I call, then HJ shoves for 29,800. Action folds around to me and I call against [kc qc]. We’re chopping by the turn card.

Hand 217. [ah 9d] CO
We’re eight-handed and I’m in late position, so I play a hand I might not normally go with and raise to 4,000. The short stack at the table in SB shoves for his remaining 15,500 and I’m the only caller. Up against [ad qd]. I nearly get a straight with [th 6s 7c jc td] but I get cut down to 72,600.

Hand 222. [th ah] BB
Blinds are 800/1,600/150 and we’re seven-handed. Action folds to the SB, who flat-calls. I raise him to 5,000, he three-bets to 10,000, and I shove right into his [ks kh]. Not the smartest move in the world. I have him covered by about 25,000, but that’s not a lot at this level. The tables turn in my favor with a [8c 6d ac] flop, the [ts] turn and [3s] river don’t help him and I’m over 118,000.

Hand 223. [qd ac] SB
Six-handed. HJ (eventual tournament winner) raises to 4,000. I call. We see [9h 7h 2h] HU. I bet 5,000 and he calls. [7s] turn. I check when I probably should have bet a chunk into the 21,200 pot, and he checks. [4c] river. We both check again, he shows [jh qc] and I win. 130,000 chips.

Hand 229. [jc th] SB
Blinds 1,000/2,000/200. Five-handed. UTG limps in, I call, BB shoves for 31,400. UTG folds and I call with nearly 96,000 behind. He has [ac jh] and we both hit top pair on the flop of [3h js 9c]. Nothing saves me, and I lose the hand.

Hand 230. [jd kd] BTN
UTG raises to 5,000 with a slightly larger stack than mine. I shove. Everyone folds. Now I’m the big stack again.

Hand 231. [jd qc] CO
I open to 5,000. Everyone folds.

Hand 232. [ac kd] UTG
Raise to 6,000. Both blinds call. The flop is [3h ts 6c] and everyone checks. [4s] for the turn, SB checks, BB bets 11,500, and I fold.

Hand 237. [tc th] HJ
Blinds 1,250/2,500/250. Back at a full table. Action folds to me, I shove and everyone folds, putting me back over 100,000, which isn’t so much any more.

Hand 246. [ts 7s] HJ
We’ve lost a couple of players and I’ve blinded down to 98,000. I open-raise to 6,000. CO calls. The flop is [6d 4s 9d]. I make a small c-bet of 2,500 and get a call. The [ac] on the turn slows both of us down. The river is [3s]. We both check and were going for ten-high gut-shot straight draws; his [tc 8c] has me out-kicked. Back down under 90,000.

Hand 255. [kh kd] UTG
Blinds 1,500/3,000/300. Seven at the table. The hand that put me into the top five for the end of the tournament. I min-raise to 6,000. UTG1 calls. Everyone else folds. The flop is [jd td 4s]. I bet 12,000, UTG1 (who has me covered) raises to 24,000. I could be beat here, but…I shove for a total of 77,400. UTG1 calls with the flush draw: [6d 8d], but the next two cards are both spades and I double up.

Hand 264. [8s 8c] SB
Five-handed. BTN raises to 9,000. I shove for just under what he has in his stack. Everyone folds.

Hand 266. [js td] CO
I raise to 10,000. Everyone folds.

Hand 271. [7s ts] CO
Yes, this hand burned me just half-an-hour before, but I open to 7,500 and take the blinds.

Hand 276. [ad 8h] CO
These regular CO raises are going to get some push-back one of these days. Raise to 9,000. Take the blinds.

Hand 280. [9s ac] BTN
Blinds 2,000/4,000/400. Down to four. Raise to 9,000, take the blinds.

Hand 281. [jh jc] UTG
Raise to 9,000. BTN calls. SB re-raises to 34,000 with 125,000 behind. BB folds. Smart move here would be to fold and preserve my 175,000 behind, which would still leave me in third and just a few thousand behind second, but I shove, BTN folds, and SB calls with [qc qh]. His win leaves me with just 24,000 and probably makes the tournament for him.

Hand 282. [7d 2s] BB
You’ve got to be kidding.

Hand 286. [9d th] BB
Only 4bb left. BTN raises to 8,000, SB raises to 22,400, and I’m all-in for 15,938. BTN calls and they check it down. [ah 8h] v [jc qs], with SB pairing his queen on the river.

VPIP for this tournament: 22.30%. I had combinations of seven-deuce (suited and unsuited) eight times: 2.8% of my hands. Standard distribution is 0.6% so that’s more than four times as frequently as average. It was the hand I had more often than any other. Then again, I had kings three times, and that’s twice as often as average (plus, they all held up). Went to the flop more than 17% of the time and earned chips almost half the time I saw the flop. Went to showdown about half the time I saw the flop and earned chips more than half the time I showed down.

A look at the online stats for the top two finishers revealed some interesting comparisons. The second-place finisher has a truly remarkable ITM of nearly 52% over more than 270 games, while the winner has a still-respectable 23% (on 500 games). The winner is far more profitable, however, with an average profit of nearly +90% versus the runner-up’s +23% ROI. Even though the winner only makes it to the money half as often as the runner-up, it looks like he cashes for eight times as much on average: +395% on each cash versus +45%.

Four-and-a-half hours, 286 hands. 4th of 152 entries. +1,144% ROI (first paid +3,180%).

That’s Why It’s Called the Better Hand

Lock Poker $1,500 Guaranteed Deepstack Turbo (T5,000)

Another tournament where I held the chip lead—for quite a while, in internet time—before dropping down. Still managed to grab a little profit, but not the big payout.

Hand 1. [tc 4d] UTG
Came in at the 50/100 level. Only seven-handed, but I wasn’t playing it.

Hand 2. [2d qc] BB
Button and SB limped in. The flop was [7s 4d 3c], we all checked. [6s] on the turn gave the board better straight potential than my hand, and I folded to a pot-sized bet from SB.

Hand 3. [js ks] SB
CO and BTN limped in and I just came along for the ride; BB checked to the [ts 7c 6h] flop. Everyone checked and a [7d] hit the turn. I checked here along with BB, CO made a small bet of 100 and everyone folded.

Hand 4. [3c qc] BTN
UTG2 raised to 300 and everyone folded.

Hand 5. [5h 6c] CO

Hand 6. [jh 7s] HJ

Hand 7. [jc 6c] UTG2
Blinds at 75/150. Folded. As the hand played out, I would have won against the only two players who stayed in: BB with [6s 6h] and UTG with [4c 5c] on a board of [4s jh qc 8c th].

Hand 8. [qh 7c] UTG1

Hand 9. [td jd] UTG
Limped into the pot, then BTN raised to 413. SB called and so did I. Flop dropped [8h ks ac], it was checked through to BTN and he bet half the pot, which took it down.

Hand 10. [6c 2h] BB
Down about 15% from the starting stack after one-and-a-half rounds. This gets min-raised by UTG1 and nobody contests it.

Hand 11. [6s 3s] SB
I fold.

Hand 12. [5h 9c] BTN
A walk for BB.

Hand 13. [qh as] CO
One limper ahead of me and I just call. SB calls and BB checks. Flop’s [6s 6d 3d] and the blinds check to UTG2 who min-bets 150. I call it and the blinds fold. [th] on the turn and 900 in the pot. Another min-bet from UTG2 and I call him again. The river is [7s]. He shoves. A call would leave me 500, and I fold.

Hand 14. [ks kh] HJ
Blinds are up to 100/200. I open with a raise to 400; SB is my only caller. A safe-looking [jd 6s 3h] on the flop. He checks and I check to hopefully represent an ace. The turn is [7h]and he bets 610. I counter with 1,500 and he calls. The [5s] on the river complicates things a bit but when he checks I shove for 1,800. He owns almost half the 4,000 pot, but a loss would leave him with less than 5bb. He folds.

Hand 15. [3c th] UTG2

Hand 16. [qh 2s] UTG1

Hand 17. [ts jc] UTG
I min-raise with this hand and am heads-up with the largest stack at the table as BTN. I get an open-ended straight draw on the [5s kd qc] flop and bet 750 into an 1,100 pot. BTN probably sees it as a c-bet and calls. There’s a useless (to me) [2c] on the turn, but I shoot a second barrel, for 1,000. UTG calls again. The straight comes through with a river [as]. I check to see if he’ll stick something in without any prodding, and he shoves his entire stack of nearly 6,000, with is great. I call and he’s got a good pair with a busted flush: [8c kc]. Fortunately, the right black ace came out. I pop up to nearly 12,000.

Hand 18. [8c 6h] BB
Blinds are 125/250/20. My stack is nearly double the size of anyone else at the table; three of the eight players have less than 3,000. I fold to a UTG1 min-raise.

Hand 19. [qs 2s] SB
The first of the small stacks in order (UTG1) goes all-in, the other two (HJ and CO) follow, and BTN shoves for 4,000+. I’m not getting involved with this, and neither is BB. It’s (in order) [ts ad] v [9s 9d] v [5d 5s] v [7d 7h]. I can maybe understand the short stacks with 10bb getting involved but not BTN with the sevens and 16bb. Then again, the board runs out [td 3s th 7s 2d] and a full house means the sevens are now the big stack at the table by 1,000 chips. Results-oriented!

Hand 20. [4s 3c] BTN
We’re only five-handed but I fold to an UTG min-raise.

Hand 21 [3d qc] CO
We pick up some new players to fill the holes the massacre left behind and get another stack with nearly 14,000 in BB. Everyone folds for a walk.

Hand 22. [6s 5c] HJ

Hand 23. [qc kc] UTG2
I open for 600 and everyone folds.

Hand 24. [ks kc] UTG
Just ten hands later, and kings again. I decide to do it traditional this time with a full table. HJ shoves for 4,350, with what I assume is a (probably lower) pair. Everyone folds and I unleash my kings on [6h 4h]. He’s dead by the turn of the [9h qs 7d 7c 4c] board, and I’m table leader with 16.8K.

Hand 25. [9h 3d] BB
Blinds to 150/300/30. Nobody challenges my blind and I walk.

Hand 26. [js 2s] UTG
Fold. This hand saw another questionable shove. BTN shoved over a min-raise with 4,120 and [8d 7d], which seems like a maybe, but BB called with [2h th] and less than 3bb behind. Both were in trouble when the original raiser put them all-in to call with [ad ac] and took them both out.

Hand 27. [8c 9s] BB
No SB because of the previous hand’s action and I got another walk for the antes.

Hand 28. [qh 4h] SB
I called a min-raise from HJ and was HU to the flop. The cards were [3h ah js] and I put the other stack at risk with a bet that put him all-in to win a pot half the size of what he had left (or double up). He called with [as kh], which held out, dropping me back down to 12.9K.

Hand 29. [2d 9h] BTN

Hand 30. [jd 3d] CO
Uncharacteristically, I limped in with this after everyone else folded. I shouldn’t have. SB called but BB bet 1,000 and I folded.

Hand 31. [kd 5c] HJ

Hand 32. [6d jh] UTG2
Blinds to 200/400/40. Folded.

Hand 33. [5h jd] UTG1

Hand 34. [Ks 8s] UTG
Opened with a min-raise to 800 and took the pot.

Hand 35. [Ah 3c] UTG (moved to new table)

Hand 36. [ah jh] BB
Of the nine players at the table, six were at or below the starting stack (12bb or less), one had 11,000, I had 13.2K, and the biggest was 15K. The big stack in UTG2 min-raised, SB called, and I went along. The flop was a truly horrible [3d 2c 2d] and everyone checked. There was a [4s] on the turn; everyone checked that, too. [9s] on the river. SB bet half the 2,760 pot, but I didn’t believe him and called. UTG2 dropped out. Each of us had the other end of the straight, but his [kd 5h] didn’t give his pair of deuces the better kicker and I took the pot.

Hand 37. [7d 3c] SB
I folded. UTG min-raised to 800 with 4K back, the guy who’d just lost to me shoved for 2,300 and it was [js qs] (UTG) v [4s qc] in another one of those “position” moves I don’t quite understand. The better hand won, as usual. That’s why it’s called the better hand.

Hand 38. [jc ah] BTN
Ace-jack again? It’s not suited this time. Blinds to 250/500/50. Action folds to CO with just 6.5bb, who shoves. I call, and SB calles for 25 more, which I put in. It’s me v [4c 4d] v [tc ac]. The flop pairs my ace with [8h 6h as]. The club flush isn’t coming, I’m a favorite to win and the [5c] turn and [2h] river make it so. I’m up over 23K.

Hand 30. [4s 8s] BTN
BB gets a walk.

Hand 31. [2d 3s] CO

Hand 32. [7h kc] HJ

Hand 33. [9d 5h] UTG2

Hand 34. [jc ts] UTG1
Uncharacteristically folded. but as it turned out, BB shoved over small blind’s call, SB called, and it was [4d 7d] v [2d qh], with SB doubling up with a flopped four for a pair, and I wouldn’t have won.

Hand 35. [8h td] UTG
Blinds are 300/600/60. I fold!

Hand 36. [4s 7d] BB
What am I? A short stack? Fold to min-raise and call pre-flop.

Hand 37. [9s 2s] SB
BTN goes all-in. I fold. BB calls with [ad 4c] and wins with ace high. My hand would have won with a pair of deuces!

Hand 38. [2h jh] BTN
An all-in from UTG1 for 3,700 and a call from HJ. I fold, along with other prudent players.

Hand 29. [ts jh] CO
HJ goes all-in for 5,577. I fold, but SB calls and ends up HU with [qs kh] v [2c 2d]. THe deuces stand up, but my jack would have won it on the [6s 6c 9c jd as] board.

Hand 30. [kh 3h] CO
HJ is the only limper ahead of me but I decide to fold. There’s a king on the flop.

Hand 31. [td 4c] HJ

Hand 32. [2c 2d] UTG1

Hand 33. [3c qd] UTG

Hand 34. [4d 6h] BB
Blinds are up to 400/800/80. There’s a min-raise and a call. 5,000 in the pot, I’m nearly 10K over the other two in the hand, and with 6:1 pot odds I call. I get incredibly lucky with a [6s 6c kd] flop. I check it to see who will run with it. UTG1 checks, but HJ decides to put out 2,400. I call and UTG1 folds. The turn is [th]. I go all-in pre-maturely, and HJ folds. Still, I win some chips and I’m up to 28K.

Hand 35. [jh ad] SB
The other players at the table range from 5K to 16.4K, with the median about 11K. Action folds to me, BB has 11.8K and I just call. With [6c as 2s] on the flop, I check and he checks behind. The turn pairs the board with [2h], I bet 2,000 and take the pot.

Hand 36. [6c qs] BTN
With a raise UTG and 3-bet from middle position, I fold this. The original raiser goes all-in and gets a fold (and would eventually go on to win the tournament).

Hand 37. [4h 9c] CO

Hand 38. [4d tc] HJ
Folded. Blinds are 500/1,000/100.

Hand 39. [2h 8c] UTG3

Hand 40. [3h 2h] UTG2
Much as I might love deuce-three,  I wasn’t opening it for at least two-thirtieths of my stack from middle position. Folded.

Hand 41. [7h kc] UTG3

Hand 42. [9d 5h] UTG2

Hand 43. [jc ts] UTG1

Hand 44. [8h tc] UTG

Hand 45. [4s 7d] BB
Fold to UTG raise and UTG1 call.

Hand 46. [9s 2s] SB

Hand 47. [2h jh] BTN

Hand 48. [ts jh] CO

Hand 49. [kh 3h] HJ

Hand 50. [td 4c] HJ

Hand 51. [2c 2d] UTG1

Hand 52. [3d qc] UTG

Hand 53. [4d 6h] BB
UTG1 min-raised and HJ called and I was in on a lark. The flop was perfect for me: [6s 6c kd]. I checked, UTG1 checked, and HJ bet 2,400. I just called, then UTG1 bowed out. [th] on the turn. I tried to make it look desperate by going all-in but HJ was too smart to fall for it and folded. O profited over 6,500.

Hand 54. [jh ad] SB
Action folded to me as the biggest stack at the table (and near the top of the leaderboard). I just called and BB checked. I checked the [6c as 2s] flop and so did BB. After the [2h] on the turn, I bet 2.,000 and got a fold.

Hand 55. [6c qs] BTN

Hand 56. [4h 9c] CO

Hand 57. [4d tc] CO

Hand 58. [2h 8c] UTG1

Hand 59. [3h 2h] UTG2

Hand 60. [kd qs] UTG1
I opened for 2,250 and everyone folded. It put me over 30,000.

Hand 61. [9c 8c] UTG
Might have played it elsewhere; glad I didn’t. BB was very short, with only 3,365 left after paying blinds and antes. UTG2 (the eventual tournament winner) min-raised, getting a call only from BB. The flop was [7h 3s kc], so that would have been 2K down the tibes for me. BB went all-in and UTG called with [as ad]. BB just had [3h ac]. [8s] on the turn and [7d] for the river and SB was gone.

Hand 62. [3h 7s] BB
An all-in from the shortest stack left at the table (7,600) won my big blind and a limper’s thou.

Hand 63. [kc jd] SB
Normally, I’d like to see a flop with these, but an all-in bet of 12.5K from BTN put a brake on that. Fold.

Hand 64. [7s ah] BTN
Two limps and I put my kicker issues aside to call. Four players seeing the flop of [8s 4d as], BB and UTG checked, then UTG1 bet 2,000 with just under 10K behind. I had almost 29K left to call with. so I did, and the checkers folded. The turn was [3d] and didn’t change my plans. UTG1 bet what I think was supposed to be a suspicious-looking 1,000 into a pot of 9,300, and I called. [js] on the river could have made any number of things possible—all anyone needed was an ace and a higher kicker—but UTG1 put another 1,000 into the pot and I had to call it at 12:1. He only had [jd ks], and ended the hand with just 8K.

Hand 65. [4h ac] CO
Blinds were 600/1,200/120. I folded to a min-raise by tens who were eliminated by the king-queen of the tournament winner, which put his stack on par with mine.

Hand 66. [2d ah] HJ

Hand 67. [kh as] UTG2
UTG raises to 2,525 with 12.6K behind. I re-raise all-in and everyone folds. Over 43K.

Hand 68. [ac 7d] UTG1
I call on the high from the previous hand. Action folds to SB, who calls, and BB checks. The flop is [5s 8c th], BB bets half the pot and I don’t want to play any more.

Hand 69. [td tc] UTG1 (table balancing)
UTG shoves for 8.4K. I call from my stack of 41.6K and we’re HU. He has [kd ac]. The flop is bad: [5h 6s kh]. Then the turn is great: [ts] and the river is irrelevant. 52.9K.

Hand 70. [2d 6d] BB
Blinds up to 800/1,600/150. UTG2 limps, HJ shoves for just 2,995, and I have to call. So does UTG2. The flop’s out of my range: [tc 9c 5c] and I check it to UTG2 who does the same. The turn [6c] gives me some hope and I check it to UTG2 again. [qd] on the river doesn’t do me any good. I check to UTG2 again and he does the same. Three players and nobody had a spade (apparently they were all on the board), it’s my [2d 6d] v short-stack’s [ad 3d] and tournament champ’s [two-pair with [9h qh]. The other big stack at the table is pacing me.

Hand 71. [ts 3c] SB
Folded. BB shoved with sevens for 8K, got called by tourney winner who’d limped with [jd 9d], and a jack on the flop did in the short stack.

Hand 72. [qd 8d] BTN
No SB. Action folded to me and I made it 5,000 to take the blind away.

Hand 73. [tc 2d] BTN
Things were looking ugly as they got around to me. UTG went all-in for 6,630, UTG1 called with only 8K behind, and CO shoved for 27K. I’m not playing the Brunson hand under those circumstances. Then the BB (tourney winner) called with half his stack (his knockout two hands earlier had put him ahead of me, finally). UTG1 folded out to fight another day, and it was UTG’s [qc jh] v CO’s [4c 4d] v BB’s [as kd]. It was nearly settled on the flop with [js ks 5d], then [3c] for the turn. The [2s] river sealed BB as the tournament chip leader, with a 42K profit on the hand and nearly twice my healthy 51K.

Hand 74. [ad 3s] HJ
Some table balancing moved people around but I ended up with the chip leader, in more or less the same relative position. There were eight at the table, with three in the 10K range, one about 23K and two more around 35K. I folded this hand. Three players went to the river, one was knocked out with sixes and the tournament leader lost a chunk with a set of queens against a [6h 8h] flush.

Hand 75. [8h 6c] UTG1
Blinds to 1,000/2,000/200. I have 25bb. Despite the success of a suited [8x 6x] on the previous hand, I folded this to a 5,200 raise from UTG.

Hand 76. [3c ad] UTG
Really? Again? Fold.

Hand 77. [qc 2c] BB

Hand 78. [as 8s] SB
Big stack min-raises. I call. BB shoves for 9,200, and we both call. [tc 7h 2c] on the flop does nothing for me; big stack and I both check. [9h] turn, check-check. [6s] for the river makes me a straight, I miss it and fail to bet; I’m probably lucky because I don’t know if I would have noticed if the big stack had bet. He rolls [3d 3c], the short stack has [kc jd] and I take a pot that puts me up to 68K.

Hand 79. [3h qs] BTN
We’ve picked up a third large stack at the table who’s got something between my stack and the tournament winner’s 77.5K. Three other players with 30-40K, one with 19K, ann one with just a BB. I fold this.

Hand 80. [7d qd] BTN
Blinds to 1,250/2,500/500. I have 27bb. Fold. We lose the small stack on this hand, and tournament winner’s stack drops below mine.

Hand 81. [3h 6s] CO

Hand 82. [5d td] HJ

Hand 83. [qh4c] UTG1

Hand 84. [9h 2s] UTG

Hand 85. [8h js] BB
Fold to an all-in from SB.

Hand 86. [7s jd] SB

Hand 87. [js 4d] BTN
Could this run of cards have any less suck? Fold.

Hand 88. [9s 4s] CO

Hand 89. [th 8d] HJ
Blinds to 1,500/3,000/300. I have 21bb. Fold.

Hand 90. [td 8c] UTG1
Deja vu. Fold.

Hand 91. [7c 8d] UTG

Hand 92. [jh 6h] BB
Tourney winner limps in, SB comes along and I check. The flop is nothing I want to see: [kd ah 3s]. I check, tourney winner makes a min-bet and takes the pot.

Hand 93. [td 4c] SB
Fold. Two stacks in the mid-20K range go up against each other with [ac tc] against [ad 7c]. Neither pairs up and my four would have won it.

Hand 94. [5c 9c] BB
Yay! The action on the table’s resulted in me being moved into the big blind on another table with the current chip leader. The new makeup has the chip leader with 114K, two stacks in the mid-50s (including me), two in the low 40s, two at 30K and one with 23K. Chip leader raises min-plus from UTG2 and everyone folds.

Hand 95. [7d 9d] SB
Another min-raise from chip leader, and I fold these out of position.

Hand 96. [7s 7d] BTN
How cool is it to get sevens on my seventy-seventh hand? Cool enough to call a 12.5K raise from UTG2. We’re heads-up, the flop is [4s ac jh], he bets 18K and I fold. I’m down to 38K. Not cool.

Hand 97. [2s 3h] CO
Fold. SB tries to raise chip leader’s BB and gets faced with an all-in.

Hand 98. [5c 8h] HJ
Blinds to 2,000/4,000/400. I have 9bb. Fold. CO goes all-in with [ac 9s] and gets called by chip leader in SB with [kh qh] to make a double-up.

Hand 99. [jc 4h] UTG3

Hand 100. [qh 7h] UTG2

Hand 101. [qc 5d] UTG1

Hand 102. [qd 3s] UTG

Hand 103. [2c ks] BB
CO raises to 12,000 and wins the pot.

Hand 104. [5c 8h] SB
Big stack (UTG1) raises just enough to leave themselves with exactly 100,000. CO calls, I fold. Flop is [4s td 5d] and UTG1 bets 16K to win.

Hand 105. [js ah] BTN
Blinds are 2,500/5,000/500. I have just under 6bb. I go all-on over an 11K raise by the big stack. I’m heads-up to the flop against [9s 9c]. The flop is [jd ks 7c], putting me in the lead. [jc] on the turn solidifies my chance for a double-up and a chance at the big money. But I’m two-outed with [9d] on the river.

VPIP for this game: 23%. Five pairs. I saw 20 flops and won ten of them.

Ninety minutes, 105 hands. 16th of 169 entries. +92% ROI. (Top prize was +3200%)

No Progress Is Bad Progress

Nothing to report here from las Vegas yet, unless you’d like a stream of stories of loss, and if you’re reading the Poker Mutant, hopefully you’re not reading me for that!

So far, my first WSOP Deepstack event was my best showing. I’ve played a couple of other of the 2pm Deepstacks and a 10pm Deepstack, one of the nightly 7pm games at the Palazzo, and Limit Omaha Hi-Lo and NLHE at the Golden Nugget. Oh, and WSOP Event #44. Then, last night while I was waiting for my Doubles partner to bust out of a tournament at the Palazzo, I got a little ahead in a NLHE game, got the call that my seat opened in an Omaha Hi-Lo table, and got to play all of two hands before he called and we headed out to dinner at Krung Siam.

NP wrote me Monday and mentioned that a friend of his made the money in the bracelet event I played, and while I was looking for his name, I ran across another Oregon player, so as a quick little stats project, I looked up other Oregon cashes and entries.

There were 40 entrants who listed Oregon for their home when they signed up. That represented 1.36% of the 2,949 players entered in the tournament. I found 9 players from Oregon who made the money in the results this morning (none of the 40 made it to Day 3). Nearly a quarter of the Oregon entrants—22.5%—made the money. That’s 3% of the cashing field of 297, which may not sound like much, but then Oregon’s population isn’t that big, just 1.2% of the US population, and this is the World Series of Poker.

By comparison, Nevada, where lots of poker pros hang out, had 205 entries (7% of entries) for just 0.9% of the population if the US. There were 24 cashes from Nevada; 8% of the cashing field. There were no players from Nevada in the final 16 going into Day 3.

Not So Much Card Dead As Card Comatose

Aces Players Club Back-to-School Special (12,000 chips)

DV and I both played this game, in which the house added $1,000 to the pot for first prize just to make it extra juicy. I ended up at table 1, seat 8, and spent the afternoon next to R, the gent who beat me out of a first-place finish in a freezeout a few months back. DV ended up out in the hinterlands.

My first move of any sort was as BB with [ax 9x]. By the turn, there were two kings on the board and when a bet of 400 opened, I folded.

On SB with [8d 9d], I caught top pair on the flop with my nine. The [kc] on the turn, two clubs on the flop and a bet of 400 from the same guy (seat 1) as the hand before and I folded.

Shortly thereafter, I picked up [as ks] and raised to 350, getting four callers. The king paired on a pretty dry flop, I bet 1,000 and took the pot. Twenty-five minutes into the game, I was 625 chips ahead of starting stack.

Three players were in for 350 when I picked up [ax ax] as BB. I raised pre-flop to 2,000 and only one stayed in. The flop was jack-high, I bet another 2,000 and my opponent folded. R told me he folded jacks to my raise. That put me up to 15,225 by the 35 minute mark.

Called 225 with [kd jd] and whiffed the board, then folded to a river bet, then blew another 300 playing [ax 2x] (althought that wasn’t my worst play in this tournament with that hand). I lost about 1,000 chips over twenty minutes.

Dumped another 750 chips raising to 350 with [ax tx]. I had a wheel draw on the turn but missed. Just after an hour of play I was back down to 13,400.

Set-mining with [6x 6x] as SB is dangerous work! Don’t call 600 pre-flop with it. It isn’t worth it. [8x 8x] as BTN, on the other hand, proved profitable when I re-raised to 1,100, made my set on the flop, then won with a 2,200 opening bet post-flop. Twenty minutes after the hour I was up to 13,975.

With [as qc] I raised to 2,000 pre-flop, getting two callers. There were two spades on the jack-high flop and I opened for 1,300. I was min-raised, then action came to a halt when the player to my right went all-in for more than 14,000. I thought about it briefly and laid down my hand; everyone else did so as well. The winner showed [jx jx] for top set and took in a big pot. I, on the other hand, was down to 10,400 at the beginning of the first break, so I almost doubled my stack by buying the 8,000 chip add-on.

Set-mining with [7x 7x] is dangerous work (see above). 1,500 chips worth of dangerous. Speculating with [kc 6c] is 500 dangerous. From 20,000 chips (12,000 starting stack plus 8,000 add-on) at the two hour mark, I was down to 16,300.

Things looked up a bit when I called 1,200 holding [ac 6c] and the flop was all clubs. Heads-up after the flop, I bet 1,200 after my opponent checked and took the pot. At two-and-a-half hours I held 17,400 chips.

R remarked that I wasn’t holding onto many hands, which is when I coined the title for this post. Then I lost 2,400 with [jx tx], which is usually a good performer for me.

Last hand of the game was a highly speculative [as 2c]. The flop made me straight possibilities: [qc 4x 3c].  The only other player in the hand was pushing hard, and I pushed back, eventually going all-in. Then the turn improved me to a flush draw: [9c]. Then I connected to my flush with [4c] on the river. Unfortunately, what the other guy was connecting to with that card was a more powerful full house because he had [qx qx] in his pocket. R said he thought I was getting frustrated. I don’t know. I didn’t feel frustrated, I just thought I had an opportunity with that hand to do something before my stack got so small from blind attrition that I’d always get called. If my opponent had a pair instead of a set, he might not have called the all-in.

DV lasted a couple hours longer than I did. I swung back by the club to see if there was anything I could get him about an hour after the last I’d heard from him, but he was out by then. R was there but wasn’t in the tournament any more.

Three hours. Placed seventy-first of 93 entries. Fourteen places paid, with $15,000 in the prize pool.