Something Shiny Pulled From a Pot of Crap

As I mentioned at the end of last month’s communiqué, I was preparing to go to the Grand Sierra Resort’s Fall Pot of Gold tournament in Reno in mid-October. I had my tickets weeks in advance, worked hard to get various projects in the office out of the way, checked in to my Monday morning flight mid-afternoon on Sunday, then saw this on the 2+2 thread about the event:

GSR CancellationA subsequent post confirmed the post, and I called the GSR poker room to get my own independent verification. I canceled my room reservation and managed to get a $30 credit for my flight, but the rest of the ticket was gone. Apparently the first event—a $100K guarantee—had fallen short by some 30%, and to prevent something similar from happening on the following weekend’s $200K, they just canceled the rest of the series. When is a guarantee not a guarantee? When your airline reservations depend on it.

That put me in a foul enough mood that I went out to Encore and took fourth place for a small cash in their $1K Sunday night guarantee. Played a dozen more events over the next couple weeks without a cash, then got in the 10pm $500 guarantee at Encore (after busting out of the weekly $10K at Final Table) and chopped it two ways.

Since it’s more cost-effective to purchase airline tickets a couple weeks out, I’d already bought a flight to Vegas with a couple of Wynn Fall Classic $100K and $250K guarantee events in mind, with daily $15K Caesars Palace Poker Classic series events to back me up. I knew they wouldn’t be canceled.

Took an early Monday morning flight to get to the Wynn, made my way over to the Encore side of the complex where the big events were starting out, and picked up my ticket for the second of two flights for the $100K, then waited a couple of hours in the coffee shop.

I played one hand. Opened with A5 and got a substantial raise from the other end of the table. The flop was 294x. On that board, I’m statistically ahead of  kings and almost even with aces. Obviously, that didn’t work out, as the guy with kings went all in on the flop and I took the chance that didn’t pan out. Not a glorious start to the week.

It was a long, hot walk in the sun down to Caesars, where I got into the $15K. I made it through more than half the field but never really found a good footing and busted around 90th of 214. Jumped into the 4pm PLO game. I enjoy the various forms of Omaha (except Big O, which is an abomination), but I play more PLO8 than PLO and not much of that, so I was pleasantly surprised to make the final table—even in a field of only 36—but I only made 8th place and missed the money.

Got up the next morning and took another shot at the noon game at Caesars. More accurately, I took two shots, as it looked like the tournament might not make the guarantee at the time I first busted. By the second time I busted, it had made the guarantee. Again, I made it through about 60% of the field (though this time I had to shoot two bullets to do it).

That afternoon’s Double Stack Turbo game was already under way and it didn’t look like there were a lot of players, so I decided to skip it, got some dinner and a rest, then headed to the Venetian for the 7pm game there. Tuesday night is a $150 buy-in Green Chip ($25) Bounty tournament. I’d played a bounty game at the Venetian during my summer of ignominy in Vegas last year; I was determined to do better this time.

Our table was getting crushed by a woman a couple seats to my right who said she was a former dealer from the San Diego area. I was doing okay, but when I was up to about 40K, a quick count of her stack gave me an estimate of 90K or more. I kept plugging away, and even though I didn’t acquire a monster stack, I seemed to be able to find the pressure points on short stacks. Suddenly, it seemed, we were down to the final table, and I had two-thirds my buy-in in bounties safely in my pocket.

The woman with the early massive chip stack was the short stack by the time we got to final, and was the first to go. I started accumulating chips, getting up to second place with 175K (with the 200K chip leader on my immediate right).

175KOver the course of the final, I took four more bounties. My stack did get whacked at one point after that photo, knocking me down to 80K, but I quickly climbed back over 100K and managed to build up to 200K as we got down to four players. A couple propositions for a deal had been discussed, with the usual wrangling and posturing. The chip leader wanted $300 more than anyone else in an otherwise equal split; the old guy with the short stack said if he was in it at four players there’s be no more talk of a deal. In the end, though, the two bigger stacks got an equal amount, the old guy and the other stack got a smaller, equal amount, and since I’d just taken the chip lead, I got the hardware.

Venetian Poker Room Daily Tournament Champion

Venetian Poker Room Daily Tournament Champion

My second shot at the Wynn the next day went a lot better than the first, but not well enough. The first flight of the $250K guarantee had played until just before 10pm the night before. I was over chip average for over five hours on the second flight, then made a stupid mistake followed up by another, and was out and on my way home within a couple of hours.

You Gotta Have Hearts

Encore Club $4,000 Guarantee NLHE Freezeout (T7,000)

An early bustout from Encore’s double guarantee last night, but three odd hands.

I was in HJ with 7x9x at the 50/100 level and was just about to throw it away when I dropped one of the black chips in after a couple of other limpers. BTN raised to 400, BB called, and everyone else dropped out but me.

The flop was three hearts, including 68. We checked it around, and a low non-heart hit the turn. BB fired out 1,100, which got called by myself and BTN. 5x on the river completed my straight, and I called an all-in from BB, who showed AxAx, neither of which was a heart. Fortunately for him, I’d already lost a pot.

A little bit later, I opened to 400 with KQ. Needless to say, the flop was KQT. What can you do? I played it down to the river calling bets and lost to the flopped straight and royal flush redraw of J9x. Way behind there.

My last hand hurt. Normally, 10-handed, I wouldn’t look twice at a low pair, but the cost was still only 200. 6x6x and I was in middle position. The flop was once again three hearts, including 6. He jammed about 5K into the pot all-in, I called for a little less, and he flipped over kings. I don’t remember if he had K, but even if he did, I was in reasonably good shape. That is, until a king showed on the turn. Then I was in sucky shape.

20130410 Encore $4K

Thirty minutes (came in near the end of round 1). 126th of 140 entries.

Bubble Trouble

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

I hadn’t had a chance to play the Encore $10K for more than a month and I was eager to get back to where I’d made my biggest-ever cash.

I got in a little late and ran into a couple of aggressive players to my right who were stomping on pots, even at 50/100, which lost me a few hundred the first couple of hands. On the fourth hand I played, I made a small raise UTG with 7x7x from early position and hit middle set. I made a continuation bet, got a couple callers, and true to form, the guy in BB raised to 2,000. I snapped all-in. Everyone folded around to him and he sat and faux thought about it for a while, then folded and I took my chips.

I wasn’t taking notes of my hands, but the first big jump in my stack came 45 minutes into the game with a knockout of seat 1 that put me up to T23,000. I took another player out ten minutes later, and was over T30,000.

Had a couple of setbacks after that. Played AxKx and totally missed the flop, folded, then watched the hand contested by AxJx and AxTx, neither of which made a pair. Preflop-folded one of those SB hands for a call of 150 that would have turned into a very deceptive full house with a lot of chips in contention. Then, when I did call down a hand, I had the weaker ace and was down to T27,000.

Got an add-on at the break and QxQx for the first hand, which won and put me over T40,000. Than a call of an all-in took me down to T32,000, but that wasn’t the bottom, because I fell to T24,400 before I began a recovery.

One of the pot-stompers mentioned above had been showing a number of bluffs (although he hadn’t been showing good hands). I had AQx when three clubs hit the flop and I followed him all the way down to the river as he poured chips into the pot. I had him slightly out-chipped, and when that last club showed up I forced him all-in to call, which he did. He looked pretty disgusted with me. I was up over T58,000.

By three-and-a-half hours in, I was up to T75,000 after another knockout. Fifteen minutes later, with just over half the field of 96 gone, I had an even T84000; more than twice the chip average and a little more than half what I figured the average chip stack would be at the 12-player payout level.

A big knockout right around midnight (five hours in) put me at T135,000, more than 60 big blinds. I was moved to a new table, with a player on my left who was sitting on an increasingly short stack. I made change twice for him for T5,000 chips, then he managed to triple up to around T20,000 after catching two nines on the board with Ax9x against two aces with better kickers. Shortly after that, he doubled up and then some with KxKx in BB. I was BTN the hand after that, action folded to me, and I put out a raise with A9 to T13,000, which he kicked up with an all-in for over T30,000 more from SB. I thought about it for a little bit and called, but he had KxKx a second hand in a row, which actually doubled him up past my chip count, once I’d paid him off. At the third break, I was down to T85,000, below chip average with nine players between me and the money.

A table change when we consolidated to two and another hour and I’d managed to recover a bit. Six hours and twenty minutes into the game, I had T123,000—about T20,000 more than average. 20 big blinds.

I was moved to the other table to balance, and had the tournament chip leader on my left. I made another mistake, simply calling an UTG raise to T17,000 from BB with AxKx. He exploited my T15,000 donk bet on the QxQx9x flop and shoved. I didn’t want to go out before the money; I had to lay it down. If I was going to play it, I should have shoved pre-flop.

I’d had the 4,000/8,000/1,000 blinds sweep through me at the other table before I moved in front of the blinds at the new table, so I was down to T58,000. We were down to 14 players, there had been an ongoing discussion about paying a double bubble, but the big stack was refusing. Then he lost more than half of his stack on a semi-bluff just as I picked up 6x6x in middle position. I probably should have re-proposed the double bubble before I shoved. I was called by SB with 9x9x and he caught a nine on the flop. Unless I’d had AxAx, I would have been a goner even with kings. I could hear the bubble discussion re-opening as I walked away from the table.

Six hours and ten minutes. 14th of 96 players. Top prize was scheduled for +2850% of buyin+addon+door.

Home, Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final Table NLHE Shootout

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

The Big Push

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T11,100 at fifty minutes.

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

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

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

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

At the break, I have T24,350.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Blast From the Past

Encore Club $1,500 Guarantee (T6,000 + T500 bonus)

First hand I called 175 with Kx3x and hit the bottom of the QxTx3x flop. I put another 400 out for the Jx turn but folded to a bet of 1,100 and probably missed a straight. At least I didn’t take the poison pot.

UTG with KJ and I raised to 125, getting four calls. Opened with  300 on the KxJx4x flop and took the hand.

Picked up AJ in SB and called a raise to 375 from CO with 3-way action. The flop was QT6 and got checked around. A on the turn and I bet 600, CO and BTN stayed in. I bet 1,000 with 4 on the river and took it down, but with the loss on the first hand I was only up to T8,350.

I raised to 150 with K8 stringing along several others, hitting top and bottom pair on the KQ8x flop (it was a couple of very spadey hands). Nobody wanted to play when I bet.

I entered the hand with a negligible 75 and checked three streets with two aces and three cards to a flush on the board with me having nothing stronger than a 5x on the river. Somehow, nobody else wanted it more than me. My bet on the river took the pot!

Kx9x and middle pair on a flop of Tx9x5x won. Forty minutes in and I was up to T9,600.

Called 700 pre flop with Qx8x and got a KxQx7x flop to pair, but folded to an all-in bet on the Ax turn. The hand went to showdown; a Qx on the river would have given me the winning set.

T8,375 at 50 minutes.

Won a nice pot with JxTx but lost a bigger pot of a couple thousand shortly thereafter with Jx9x. I made top pair on the nine-high flop but a river Tx gave my opponent two pair.

Made a small raise with KxKx and was ready for fireworks after the AxKx6x flop, but everyone folded when I bet the turn.

The loss with the jack had cut a chunk out of my stack, leaving me with just T6,650 at 75 minutes. 30 of 34 players were left.

I raised UTG with QxTx and got two calls to the QxJx8x flop. The BB went all-in and I called, the third player opted out, and BB showed his own QxTx. We ended up chopping.

Called 1,175 with JxTx with 3 other players to the flop. It was 5xQx5x and got checked around. A Qx on the turn was also checked. The Tx river card twitched my nerves and I shoved all-in for the first time in the game, taking down the hand.

Last hand before the break, I had K8 and raised to 800 from CO. Two players called, the flop was Qx7x5x, and I folded to a SB bet. I went into the break with T8,635, nearly 2,000 below average, and got the T4,000 add-on.

Once the break was over, I went on a sort of mini-roll, taking three pots in a row without a showdown. UTG2 with Ax8x and an eight-high flop got me the first. UTG1 with a AxKx took the second when I bet on the river ace. QxQx UTG I raised pre-flop and got a couple callers, SB checked dark and I went all-in on the ten-high flop. Gotta love those dark checks.

In ten minutes, I’d picked up over 11,000 chips, putting me above average (14,923) and over 20,000.

Had a bit of a setback a couple minutes later with 4x4x on BTN. I hit my hoped-for set on the turn, and re-raised over a raise of 3,000 from CO, but his KxKx made their own set on the river and I was cut back down to 13,200.

I laid low for about 15 minutes, then saw 72 through to the flop in BB at 400/800. I bet 1,200 on the 9x7x3x flop but folded to a 3,300 raise.

On BTN with 10,400. Another premium hand: 83. Average stack was 15,520.

Another 20 minutes and I was all-in with Ax7x  in BB to take the pot. Then I laid down an Ax5x to two all-ins ahead of me that would have won against 8x8x. I’ve been tossing a lot more weak aces than I used to. Can’t say the results have been bad.

Two-and-a-half hours in and I was holding T12,200, with the average at 16,689 and 23 players left of the original 34.

Called a 1,200 bet holding 8x3x from SB and got a flop of AxTxTx. Not much there. It got checked through, the turn was 8x and I bet 2,500 getting a single call. The river ace counterfeited anything I might have had and I folded.

My all-in with [kq] crushed an [ak] with a queen on the river and just about eliminated the other player, then I got AxKx, AxQx, and QxKx again in three consecutive hands, doing some severe damage around the table, building my stack up to T30,000, and helping to bring the number of players down to 18.

At the three-hour mark, we were down to 15 players. I had T28,000, a little above the 25,866 average.

On BTN with AxKx just after the hour and I was all-in over CO’s all-in with AxTx. The flop put a ten out and my heart sank, but there was a jack-high straight on the board by the river, and we chopped it.

Next CO and I raised 4,000 with 67 to take the blinds. T32,000 at the second break.

Coming into the third session, I made two knockouts in a row raising to 4,500 with J9. One caller and we see a queen-high flop with a jack on it. He goes all-in and I call his Kx8x. He misses both the turn and river. Next, I called an all-in with Ax8x against Tx9x and won. My next hand I had Qx9x and tossed it pre-flop with a raise of 15,000 out there, but it would have won the way the cards played out.

UTG with Q9 and I raised to 4,500, got a caller, then BB went all-in for 20,500. I folded, SB called, and BB’s 7x7x took the day. It would have taken a bigger chunk of my day, too. Trying to play more defensively these days; I might not have laid that down a month ago.

Three hours and thirty minutes in, T55,000, with the average at 35,275 and ten players left. We got to the final table five minutes later and I was placed in seat 1 on BTN.

My second hand, I raised to 8,000 with AxQx over an UTG2 call and took the blinds and the call.

When BB got around to me, I called a CO raise of 6,500 with 63 and shoved all-in on the Kx6x3x flop to win. I showed. Encore regular SH was sitting to my right, and on the next hand the flop is Jx6x3x and he goes to showdown with 6x3x against AxJx but the turn and river are both fours and he’s counterfeited.

The button’s dead and both blinds are short-stacked when I’m CO and action folds to me. I min-raise with Kx4x and get called by BB. The flop is KxQxTx and I put him all-in. Apparently, he thinks I’m just pushing him around. He calls and becomes the next player knocked out.

Got a little frisky in BB on the four-hour mark and called a raise to 11,000 with just 89. The flop was all hearts but I didn’t have it in me to call the all-in of 50,000 to see if my nine would be good.

With Qx5x on my next BB, I called 6,500 against a big stack at the table and see a flop of Qx5x7x. Did he raise with the computer hand? I would, but not likely. Maybe he’s got a pair of queens. He bets 5,000 and I raise to 12,000, then he shoves all-in. I call and he flips AxAx against my two pair, which fills up with a five on the turn. The river’s a blank and I’ve got another knockout.

On the next hand, I knock out the BB when I call from SB with Ax9x against his Ax7x.

Four hours and fifteen minutes into the match and I have T153,000. Average is 97,000.

Fifteen minutes later, I’ve lost some ground: 20,000 with KxQx and another 40,000 in a race with Ax9x versus 7x7x. By 4:35 in the game, I’m back down to T82,000, well under average.

I called with Qx7x from SB and missed the flop, but bet 10,000 and got a call. Had to give up on the turn.

Gained a little ground back with 5x5x and a raise to 18,000 from BTN, but my stack had dropped to T75,000 at 4:40.

In SB with 5x7x, I called and the flop ran out a wonderful 4x6x8x. I checked, BTN bet 12,000, I raised to 25,000 and he called, which won me a very large pot. Almost immediately, however, I lost 60,000 on a hand where I held KxJx. Still, I was holding T142,000 nearing the end of the fifth hour.

With blinds at 4,000/8,000, I did my duty with KxQx and raised over a call to 25,000 to win the call and blinds, and hit the five-hour mark with exactly 150,000.

From here on out, notes get hard to take when things are short-handed. Suffice it to say that the final outcome was with me placing second after about five-and-a-half hours, for a nice cash in the newly-increased noontime guarantee game at Encore.

And as often happens when I cash, I forgot to take the damn photo.

Five-and-a-half hours. +646% ROI. 2nd of 29 players.

Hard and Fast

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

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

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

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

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

My Kingdom For a Nine of Clubs

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

Had a very nice time talking poker with reader BP on Thursday, then he headed over to the Encore $1,800 game that night. I’m bearing down on the big games with 50+ players in preparation for the WSOP starting up this weekend, so I waited to head over until Friday’s $5,000 guarantee.

I was seated in seat 7 at the first red table, with JL—one of the recognizably better regulars at Encore—two seats to my right. I came in fresh off reading Gus Hansen’s Every Hand Revealed and most of Arnold Snyder’s The Poker Tournament Formula 2, so I was ready to work hard.

UTG2 with K2, I raised over a UTG call to 125. UTG called and we saw a flop of AxJx9x. I continued with a bet of 200, which UTG called. After that, we both checked through a 7x on the turn and 8x on the river. He must have been worried about a ten, because his 78 was good and he didn’t bet it.

I called with Q8 as CO to see a  flop of Qx6x4x. UTG2 bet 200 and I raised to 500, getting a call. We both checked to the river and my pair held up against his missed straight draw.

UTG3 holding 69. The flop was AxTx8x and it was checked around with four players still in. With a 9x on the turn, I bet 275, which was called around. I folded to a 550 bet on the river 8x.

Half an hour in, down to T8,875 and I’d already missed two opportunities to make two pair on the flop, with Q6 and 48.

Called a 300 raise with Q8 from BB to see a flop of A7T but folded to a 550 bet from BTN. Down to T8,325.

The first hand that turned things around at the table for me was 46 as CO. I limped to see the flop with several others and saw 2x5xTx, calling a 250 bet with one other to get to the 3x on the turn. HJ bet 500 and I reraised to 1,500, then UTG2 shipped it and I called with the nuts. HJ bailed and UTG2 turned over 2 pair. Ax on the river didn’t help him, and I doubled up to T17,800.

Just a few minutes after that, disaster struck with A7. I open-raised to 275, getting three calls to the Ax7x8x flop. With a little over 1,000 in the pot, I bet 1,000, hoping to shake off some people but only one dropped out. Qx on the turn and I bet 2,500, getting a call from the first player and an all-in from the other end of the table for 2,900 more. I called that, then the player who’d called me first shoved over the top for almost 8,000. By this time, there’s nearly 25,000 in the pot, and I call the extra 5,000. The original all-in has AxKx, the second all-in has beaten my two pair with AxQx, and a useless card on the river drops me down to somewhere over 6,000 chips.

I look down at KQ on my next hand and try something, by open-shoving from early position while the blinds are still just 50/100. It seems like a steam bet, what with only 150 in the pot, and amazingly enough, two players call, including one who’s just sat down into the BTN and the short-stacked BB. Two of us are all-in and the flop has a king on it, along with a ten. Tens on the turn and river give me the full house and before I have a chance to count up after my loss, I’m dragging in a big pile of chips.

A couple minutes later on BB and I three-bet an UTG 800 raise to 2,200. He lays down AxJx and I show him my AxAx. Another KxQx on the BTN and I drag another pot with a raise.

In the same round with 8x8x in HJ, I raise to 800 over three limpets, when the guy in CO who just folded AxJx to me shoves for 5,275. I call and he has 7x7x, which don’t get any better. He has to re-buy.

Seventy minutes into the game, the chip average is 11,739 and I’m sitting on T29,775.

UTG1 with KT I raise to 750. UTG2 calls and BTN shoves. I fold, but UTG2 (who was just busted with sevens ten minutes earlier) calls with AxKx and gets two pair on the turn.

In CO with [an][enticing][KQ, I raise to 1,100 and get a caller, but fold to an all-in bet on the J78 flop.

I’ve lost some ground halfway through the second hour, but with T27,325 I’m still more than twice the average stack when we get to the first break.

I get the T6,000 add-on. By the time break ends, there are 110 entries, 38 re-buys, and 96 add-ons, for a pot of $9,800 and a first prize of $2,820, with fourteen places paying.

UTG1 with 56, I raise to 800 and get one call. The flop is 6x4x3x and UTG3 bets 1,600, but I raise to 3,200 and he folds. T25,725.

On BB with 3x5x I check through with several others to see the flop roll out Kx3x4x. I bet 1,000 and get raised to 2,500, which I call. Another Kx on the turn makes things look very unpromising and after I check my opponent bets and I fold.

Cautiously called a 1,025 raise from JL holding A9. The flop was Tx5x5x and U folded to the first bet.

In CO with KxJx I raised to 1,100 over a single limp. HJ called and we saw a flop of QxJx6x. I bet 2,000 for the win.

At the two-hour mark, I was still down from my peak, but had T33,550. Average was still at T19,670 with 97 players left.

Ten minutes into the hour, I picked up 77 UTG1. UTG called the 400 blind and I raised to 1,800. SB, who was the second-largest stack at the table next to me, three-bet to 3,800 and BB and UTG got out of the way. I called, and the flop was 68T. SB checked to me. There was a better than 50% chance he didn’t have a club in his hand; I knew where at least four of them were already. Four of the remaining clubs were smaller than mine. So there were only five cards I was concerned about: 9, J, Q, K, and A. Even if he had one of those cards in his hand, unless he was paired, he was still behind me. He was behind me even if he had a pair of aces and one of them wasn’t a club. So I shoved with my made pair, my straight, flush, and straight flush draws. He showed AQ. I was a 54%/46% favorite. With J on the turn, though, I was down to needing the 9 to keep from losing, but the river was K. The hit was for nearly 30,000 chips.

Down at T3,400 with blinds at 300/600/75. Ten minutes after my big loss, I went all-in from BB with JT, getting a call from the short-stacked BB who just had me covered. He turned over AxAx. I paired my ten on the flop and had two diamonds on the board by the turn, but the river was no help and I was out.

Two hours and fifteen minutes. 90th of 110 players.

Best wishes to my home league host DV, who’s playing in Monday’s World Series of Poker Event #2, a $1,500 No Limit Hold’em tournament, for his second shot at WSOP glory. According to a Tweet from poker stats nut Kevin Mathers, there’s going to be a system in place at this year’s WSOP that lets people track chip counts at the breaks from home, so you can follow your friends.


A Tale of Two $10Ks

The Final Table Third Friday $10,000 Guarantee (T10,000 + T1,000 early registration bonus)

Got a copy of Gus Hansen’s Every Hand Revealed, his (almost) hand-by-hand account of winning an Aussie Millions tournament. Whatever you might think about Hansen’s style of play (and despite the fact that things may have changed a lot since he wrote the book) it’s a very interesting read and incredibly thoughtful and I don’t think I could possibly recreate hands as well even if I was using his tape recorder transcription method. Sorry. Also picked up Arnold Snyder’s The Poker Tournament Formula (volumes 1 and 2) and I’m hoping to pick out nuggets of useful info from there.

Met up at the Eastside Ringside before the 10K with BP, a Mutant Poker reader (I guess there are a couple) who recognized me at a Friday Encore game a couple weeks back. Had a great time talking poker, had a drink or two (which I almost never do before a game), and then headed down the street.

I started off in BB and folded a couple hands, then raised to 125 on BTN with Ax8x, calling a re-raise to 325. The turn was Q-high and I bet out for 700 but folded to a re-raise.

UTG with 2x2x and I was drawing the low end of a straight on the flop, but BB flopped the nuts. and half an hour in I was down to T8,200.

Called 350 with Qx9x but folded to an all-in war that ended up with KxKx drawing a set against AxAx. T7,500 now.

UTG again with 8T and I check-called a 300 raise. Flop of Ax4x5x and I was out of there. Forty-five minutes in: T7,050.

QxTx as CO and I called a big pre-flop raise but folded to an all-in after a flop of JxTx8x and a bet on the Ax turn.

Fifty minutes in and I’d lost more than half my starting chips: T5,250.

In BB with AK, I raised to 2,000 and was re-raised all-in. I called against AT and doubled up to almost where I’d begun: T10,650.

Back on BTN, I raised to 400 and got one call. The flop was Qx7x2x and I bet 1,000 to take the pot. Back over starting: T11,275.

Raised UTG with JxTx to 500 getting two calls half-an-hour later. The flop was a beautiful KxQx9x and it was checked around. The turn was a non-threatening Ax, it was checked to me and there was a bet of 3,000. I shoved over the top and was called by AxKx. My straight held.

Tx4x in BB  ten minutes later and I see the flop of QxTx4x. A guy who’s been going all-in throughout the game bets into it and I re-raise. As I expect, he shoves and I call because I’m pretty sure he’s not holding The Butcher, and my two pair knocks him out. He doesn’t show.

Next hand in SB with 8x2x I call to see 4x2x2x on the flop and check. BB bets out 600, UTG calls, and I raise to 2,000 getting both of them to fold. I show the hand.

A couple minutes later it’s my turn to fold 9x8x after calling 800 pre-flop. The board is QxJx8x but my bottom pair and low-end gut-shot isn’t good enough to call the 2,000 bet.

One hour and forty-five minute into the game and I’m up to a healthy T30,575, more than 40% above the chip average. Five minutes later, I’m buying the add-on of T8,000 chips. There are 84 entries, with 18 re-buys. The break sees 69 add-ons and the pot’s $13,650, with 13 places paying. 77 players left at the break.

After the break, I get to work, raising and taking the blinds and antes with Ax8x, then taking a pot atay from several callers with a post-flop raise with QxJx on a jack-high flop that put me up to T41,625.

In SB with 34 I called a raise to 1,700 from BB. The Qx2x5x gave me an open-ended straight draw and I bet 2,000 into it. BB tossed his cards and said he had AxJx. According to the odds calculators, if that was the case, we were almost exactly 50%-50%.

I re-raised to 7,000 over a 2,400 raise with 8x8x and a small stack shoved for 6,950 more. Was my pair good? Was it a desperate move to steal 10,000 chips? It was going to cost me about 3.5:1 to find out. I called, was up against queens and lost.

Pretty quickly I was back on track with TxTx. I raised over two calls to 4,000 and took the pot. One of the guys muttered he’d folded jacks. I was down to T32,000 but near chip average.

Then in my BB I picked up 6x6 and laid in wait to see a flop of 6x4x2x. I’ve learned my lesson about being shy with flopped sets. I pulled the trigger and didn’t worry about the possibility that someone might have come along with 3x5x, I bet 2,000 and got a call, then bet 7,000 after the Tx turn card and cracked some aces. I was back up to T43,400 at the end of three hours.

UTG fifteen minutes later with KxKx. I keep losing with kings, often by simply walking away from the board after a horrible flop. I raised to 2,700, getting three calls and a rather ominous QxJxTx flop. What premium hand isn’t beating me here? AxKx has the straight and my only hope against it is some sort of backdoor full house (or another ace to chop). QxQx JxJx, or TxTx has a set already and I need that ace or backdoor full house again. Any multitude of two pair hands in there that are playable by someone in a $10K tournament. Even 8x9x has me beat. So naturally when the player on my right goes all-in for more than 30,000 chips, I call. He has The Butcher, for two pair, but a miraculous 9x shows on the turn and I knock him out with the straight.

Two hundred minutes into the game I’m up to T71,875. The chip average is T27,081. Twenty minutes later, there are 55 players left and the chip average is just over T30,000.

I raise with QT over two calls, the flop is KT8. I try to get another spade but I’m lucky and don’t, losing to ATx.

Coming up on the end of the fourth hour of play as SB with 2x2x and I call an all-in of 4,700. He has QxTx and hits two pair on the flop. I start the next hour down to T50,600 with the chip average at T33,000.

With AxAx in CO I raise to 8,000 and get a call. The flop is 9x6x4x and I’m all-in over a raise, getting a call from JxJx for a win.

In UTG1, I call 4,600 with 9T. The flop is 7x9xJx and UTG bets 10,000 (a pattern his big stack will repeat throughout the rest of the night) and I have to fold my middle pair and gunshot. Still, I’m back up to T72800.

I open from the CO with 23 and take the blinds and antes.

UTG1 again. I call 3,600 with Q9 and fold to UTG’s 10,000 bet after the Kx8x5x bet.

In my SB, I raise to 11,000 with JQ. BB calls and the flop is KxJx9x This time it’s me who throws the 10,000 continuation and the guy to my left folds.

Raised 7,000 with QxJx and called an all-in who showed AxKx. I stayed behind as my chips raced to the other end of the table.

Hitting midnight after five hours of play, I was a little over the chip average, with T54,500.

The Butcher came through, with QxTx beating a nominally better hand on a 8xTx8x flop and bringing in 20,000.

Raised 10,000 a couple minutes later with 6x6x and lost to an all-in. Back down to T54000 by five hours and thirty minutes, with 28 players left.

I shoved with KxKx  from BTN sort of hoping to double up if someone thought it was a position play but just won the blinds and antes. Even so, by the time the I’d made it through the blinds, I was down to T50,300, more than 10,000 below average.

Just twenty minutes later, that had dwindled to half the average, at T34,700, with only 22 players left. Just nine before the money bubble.

As we approached the end of the sixth hour, I shoved with Ax9x over two calls and managed to win a pot that put me up to T40,600. Then, on my BB with TxTx I shoved over three calls and took another one down. Right after that I raised UTG with JxTx and won again. In twenty minutes I doubled my stack to T71,000 without a showdown. I was still below the T76,666 average.

As quick as it came, though, it went away. I picked up KxQx mid-position and raised to 10,000 from the 4,000 big blind. I got two callers, including the big stack on my immediate right. The flop was Kx9x2x and I bet into it, hoping that nobody had AxKx. Both of them came along. The Qx on the turn put me all-in, the first call was from the a smaller stack, the second was from the mega-stack, who’d snuck in there with JxTx to make the straight. The small stack had QxTx. No king or queen for me on the river and I was out short of the money. BP went on to a 4-way chop at 5:30! Congrats!

Six hours. 19th of 84 entries.

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

This was one of those up-and-down rides.

I folded my first two hands from seat 10, then raised over a couple of limpers to 125 with a nice little J9, getting several calls. The flop was a perfect Tx8x7x and I bet 300. Seat 2 raised me to 600, the players between us folded, and I three-bet 2,300. He called and the turn put out Jx. I go all-in with the rest of my full stack, he calls with JxTx, and my straight holds through the river. I’ve got him covered by a quarter because he was SB in the first hand.

I lost a little ground raising UTG1 with Q3 against UTG’s AxJx. and was down to T18,925 at fifteen minutes in. Missed an opportunity by folding Tx3x in SB when I didn’t call the 25 extra and the flop was Tx7x3x.

Raised to 225 with KxQx in CO, go two calls, then got a flop of 2x3x4x. It was checked around. With a 5x on the turn, I folded to a bet.

Half an hour in and my excursions had cut me down to T17750.

Raised from UTG1 to 225 with 46 and got one call. Bet 500 after the 8x7x4x flop and took it down.

A couple hands later I called 350 in a 3-way hand with Q5 in BB but had to fold after whiffing the flop.

SB on the next hand with KJ and three limpers. I raised to 55o and won. A couple hands later as CO I raised to 250 with Ax3x but folded to a bet of 800 on a king-high flop.

In the twenty minutes leading into the end of the first hour, I went from T17,775 to 17,575.

At the stroke of the hour, I played 84, and made a straight to the eight by the river, but the guy I’d busted on my first hand had a straight to the 9 and knocked me almost back to the starting stack. T10,875.

Not one to sit around dejected, I had a wheel draw with 2x3x, but missed on the river and had to fold to a bet, losing 800 chips in the encounter.

Opened to 575 with 89 and got two calls. The flop was T63, which got checked around. Another Tx on the turn and I folded to a bet. Right color but too diamondy for me.

Limped in with T6x on BTN and saw a Tx7x2x flop. SB opened with a 1,000 bet, mid-position called, and I re-raised to 3,000 to take the pot. Much speculation about my hand. I feel pretty proud of that play and a couple of others in this game.

CO with AQ and three-bet from 1,200 to 3,000. SB called and the flop hit as 8x7x8x. I folded to a bet of 4,000. That cut me down to T9,300 eighty minutes into the game.

Raised UTG2 with JxTx to 750 and got 2 calls. A shove on the jack-high flop and I won my way back up to T10,950.

On BTN with J9 again and I raised to 600 to see a flop heads-up: Kx4x5x. We checked to the turn, he bet 700, I folded, and he flipped KxTx. No need.

In HJ, called an 800 raise in a three-way hand with 34. Flop was Ax5xTx and I bet 1,200 with my gut-shot straight draw. I won.

At the first break I had T12,550, the average was T15,833 before the T7,000 add-ons.

At the end of the second hour of play, I called 400 UTG1 with KT. The blinds came along and the flop was ten-high. SB bet 500, I raised to 1,500 and took it.

Called 1,100 from BB with KQ (variations of that hand kept cropping up the night after it put me out of the Friday game), but had to fold after I didn’t connect.

Next hand it was Q6 as SB and I bought the barest of fingernails on a Jx8x6x flop. I bet 800 and got two calls then folded to a turn bet. Jx5x made the best hand by catching the low end of a nine-high straight on the river.

Raised with K9 and got a call. The flop was Ax9x6x and I bet 1,000. My opponent must not have had an ace!

Called 1,200 with four others in the hand before me holding JT to see a flop of AQJx. Everyone checked. 5 on the turn didn’t make my straight but I (and nobody else) could call the 3,000 to see the river so I don’t know if it or the flush would have come in. Still, I was up to T24,000.

Raised to 1,300 with Kx6x and got called by a shorter stack. The flop was KxTx9x and we checked to the Kx turn. I raised to 7,000. He hemmed and hawed and dawdled then shoved for 1,800 more. I figured he had to have the better kicker and called for what was less than 10% of the pot. He turned over KxTx for the nuts. I felt kind of annoyed about the way he’d slow-rolled the nuts. Was it all about getting me to call the other 1,800?

I was back down to T12,900 two and three-quarters of an hour in. Naturally, I got moved to a new table into the BB just a couple hands after paying the last time.

Fortunately, in SB I picked up JxJx and shoved over three limpets to take a hand that put me up to T15,900.

Had to fold a call of 2,700 with A8 when an all-in came after me.

Pulled another fast one with AT when I raised to 2,700, got two calls, and saw a flop of 7xJx7x. My shove won.

Moved again after just twenty minutes.

UTG with QT and I called a raise of 2,500 to of heads-up to a flop of A5J. My opponent bet 5,000 and I raised all-in. At least I had the ten of spades! He folded.

Up to T28,000 but below the T35,836 average.

55 players left at three hours and twenty minutes.

I went all-in over two limps with AxQx but got called by a smaller stack holding J9. He double-paired by the river and chopped me in almost in half. Down to T19225.

When they chipped up the 25 pieces, the average stack with 45 players left was T43,800. I had just T16,625.

Second hand after the break on BTN with JxTx my all-in was called by KxJx and I was out.

Three hours and fifty minutes. 44th of 99 players.

This Is Not My Beautiful Full House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One hour. Alternates were still being seated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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