Poker Mutant 2011 In Review

Since my concentration on live tournaments after missing out on my home league’s Player Of the Year WSOP buy-in pool and Black Friday’s crushing of the online poker action in the US, I’ve played 169 tournaments, mostly at Portland-area poker venues.

I had a couple of goals:

  1. Make it to the WSOP. I hoped to put together enough between 1 May and mid-June to make up for missing out on the POY pool, so I could play one of the low-end WSOP events and visit with Tomer. Two early wins at the PPC right off the bat gave me some hope, but times were tight, I had to dip into my poker bankroll for personal expenses, and June slipped away before I made it up.
  2. Make it to Prague. My next goal was to make it to the EPT event in the Czech Republic that started on my 50th birthday. Prague’s supposed to be a great place to be just before Christmas, I could take Ms. Poker Mutant with me for part of the trip, we’d make a little European vacation of it, and maybe I’d get lucky. Problem was, I figured I needed about $20,000 for travel expenses, the $7,500 EPT buy-in, and some money for side events that might make the trip worthwhile, poker-wise. Kept coming up waaaaay short until a win just a couple of weeks before I needed to be on my way made it possible—if unlikely—to build the roll up. No luck, but I tried.

I’ve played an average of 21 tournaments each of the last eight months. Thirty-one of those have been games where the buy-in was $100, $120, or $150. I played three tournaments at Foxwoods. And—briefly—the $2,500 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza IV at The Venetian. I’ve made the final table in two of the seven $10,000 guarantees I’ve played at the Encore Club, placing 8th in a field of 142 back when they were monthly, and taking first in a field of 75 since they’ve gone weekly. I also took second in their 138-player Tournament of Champions back in August. Got to play 2-7 Triple Draw the other day with a guy who was a hair’s-breadth from winning a WSOP bracelet. So even though my main goals were thwarted, not a bad year for the Poker Mutant.

Over and Out

The Final Table First Friday $10K Guarantee (10,000 chips)

This was the first running of Final Table’s monthly $10K and the size of the field did not disappoint. With a $100 buy-in and a 6 o’clock starting time it presented an attractive target for Portland-area players. Aside from a $10,000 pot, you were pretty much guaranteed to be seated next to some hard-core players, and N—who announced himself at some previous events as “the top earner in Portland poker”—was a couple seats to my right. M, a player I’d seen at a number of the Aces $10Ks was between us. I ran into JG—the third-place finisher at my $10K win two weeks ago who’d had some big wins last month—during the break.

The first bit of the game had me down from 11,000 (including an early-registration bonus) to just above 6,000, but I’d scraped my way back up to that by the 40-minute point. Then, with significant money in the pot, M shoved and I called with AxQx. He was triumphant pre-flop with AxKx, but a queen on the flop threw things my way and he was volubly unhappy with my double-up, exclaiming that he didn’t know how I could make the call.

If he’d hung around at the table for a while, he could have seen how. I lost a couple of large pots to N, who had the high end of one straight I made and the low end of a straight against my two pair. I failed to call down a 3,600 chip raise from the player on my left with a paired king and the board showing straight and flush possibilities with an ace on the river. He flipped over after raking in the chips and showed he had just a pair of nines.

With the 8,000 add-on, I was only holding 21,000 chips going into the round 4 after the break. I had AxJx on the big blind and was heads-up with the guy who’d bluffed me off my king when the flop ran out Jx8x9x and I raised all-in. He flipped over 9x9x and I was almost dead. The turn killed my hand and I was sent home early to watch some episodes from season 1 of Justified.

If things had gone a different way, I’d be off to Prague today. Don’t think I’m going to be able to make the last half of the Grand Sierra Pot of Gold in Reno next week. Next out-of-town target’s the WSOP Circuit at The Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles at the beginning of the year.

One hour and forty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 129th of 134 players.

The Big Play

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

Time was running out. If there was any chance of getting to EPT Prague for my 50th birthday, last weekend was pretty much make-or-break time. The second starting day kicks off at noon on December 6 (St. Nicholas’s Day); I’d have to catch a flight on the 4th to get there in time, which meant having the money and arrangements made the week after Thanksgiving at the latest. To do that, I needed to to get to an event (or series) with a potential prize large enough to cover the €5,300 ($7,125) entry fee and expenses for a nice little Yuletide vacation for Ms. Poker Mutant and myself (which only got higher as the date got closer). Not that I hadn’t been trying before.

I suppose I should have kept notes on what turned out to be the biggest win of my poker career so far, but I’m back in the mode of not being obsessive about it (plus my iPhone was low on charge). And after the whirl of the past couple of days, I’m not sure how much or how accurate my recollections of the event are.

I started off the night at red table 2 in seat 7; we were ten-handed, as usual in Encore’s $10K games (the same table was used for the final). My stack made its usual ups and downs, the first thing I can remember of any significance was when I’d managed to chip up to about 35,000 and a player in seat 1 pushed all-in from BB for the third or fourth time after raises in front of her. I stood to lose about a quarter of my stack calling her with K6 and she flipped over 9x9x, but got knocked out.

The older guy to my immediate left reacted with indignity with the usual cant about how it was a stupid call. I didn’t point him to my calculator. In a nine-handed game, a pair of nines is the best hand 17% of the time. K6s is good 13%. My “relative par” rating—comparing each hand’s win/tie percentage to that of a pair of aces—for K6s is 19.19%; it’s 26.87% for nines (for nine-handed play).

Before I knew that the player I’d knocked out was related to my neighbor, I tried to explain why I’d called: that she’d made the same move several times from the blinds, that I had her stack covered substantially, etc. but he actually flipped his hand at me and said something like “Stop talking. Phffft, phfft, phfft.” I had a hard time suppressing outright laughter at the performance.

My own feeling is that I had at least a 33% chance of taking out a player without losing more than a quarter of my stack. Not good odds in a cash game, but tournaments aren’t cash games. I think people forget that sometimes. Every player knocked out gets you closer to the money in a tournament. UPDATE: Essentially, this is the same situation described in this Card Player hand matchup between Pius Heinz and Phil Collins at the WSOP Main Event final table earlier this month, right down to the pocket nines, with the difference being that the player with the draw—Collins—was the one at risk. Maybe Mr. PhfftPhfft would like to take his point up with Collins.

I don’t remember exactly where the tipping point in the game came. Unlike some other games, I never seemed to be significantly stacked higher than anyone else; but somehow as the night progressed people kept leaving and we eventually ended up at the final table with more or less even distribution of chips. Play was exceedingly friendly, although one of the players to my right said almost nothing throughout the night.

Then, once we got to the final table, something kicked in. I think I play my best short-handed (naturally it helps if I’ve started to pick up chips). Action got down to me and the quiet guy, with us trading blinds back and forth without flops for quite a while until he was all-in with two high over cards (KxQx if I remember correctly) against my 2x2x. A pair of sixes hit the board but I wasn’t counterfeited and there was no chop.

I thought there might be trouble when quiet guy dropped a $20 on the table and asked where he got paid. He took the payout and headed for the door, leaving the volunteer dealers grumbling. I spread the love, gave something to the security guard for walking me to my car, and headed home to figure out how to try to capitalize on the win.

And the one time I forget to take a picture of the tournament screen…here’s one from earlier in the night that Encore posted on their Facebook page.

Eight-and-a-half hours. +568% ROI (including entry, door, add-on, tips). 1st of 75 players.

Poker Mutant Goes to Vegas

Probably a longer write-up in the next couple of days, but early this morning I took first place in Encore’s $10K Guarantee tournament, a belated first step in my “plan” to be playing at EPT Prague on my 50th birthday in just over two weeks. $4,275, my biggest win ever by far.

To get to Prague, I needed a number of wins of that size (more or less in the ballpark of the maximum you can win on a regular basis in Portland) or I needed to get to a tournament series where I could enter several large events in the hope of hitting one. The wins didn’t come regularly (or large) enough to make the first option work, and with less than two weeks–including Thanksgiving–between now and the big day, there are a limited number of events with large enough prize pools that I could enter.

So most of the winnings are going into a buy-in at The Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza’s $2,500 final event, which meant buying an early ticket to Vegas after I cleared the plan with B, and hoping the flight’s not delayed too long. At the airport right now.

Only 15 winning days before EPT Prague.

Twenty-Two

Puffmammy Season 2010/11 Tournament 22 (1,700 chips)

Only seven players at the Catsino, and with just two regular events left in the season before the Main Event, D’s 39 point lead for the Player of the Year may be insurmountable. I was the first player to need to rebuy; my only consolation was that D only gained a point on me because he was the third player to be busted out, just ten minutes after I was knocked out second. I doubled up through him with a suckout on a heads-up Ax6x vs. AxTx battle then lost the chips soon to B. I guess that was consolation, too.

Tomer starts Day 2 of EPT Berlin tomorrow in about 50th place out of 350. I have less pleasant plans.

The Nines

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

I ended up entering this tournament twice. There were a total of 435 entries from 295 players. Looking at the payouts, it’s sort of sobering to see how the multi-entry format makes it possible to make it into the money but still be behind at the end. One ninth of the forty-five players who got payouts were anywhere from a couple cents to an entire buyin underwater.

My first entry came to a screeching halt fairly early with KA. I’d fallen to just over 1,000 chips and got some good cards in UTG+3, raising to 125, but got a call from the small blind. The flop was uncoöperative with 3T7 and I tried to push it with a 300 bet but got an all-in from the SB, who still had an inferior hand with their 89 but was in good shape with a larger stack. I called (obviously, or I wouldn’t know their cards) and a 6 made their straight on the turn.

I had a little better luck with the second entry (I don’t make them simultaneously) but it was AK that did me in after a bit longer session. I was in the small blind, UTG+3 limped in, I raised to 600 and it was down to me and the UTG+3 when he called. 4TT on the flop. I made the desperate move of going all-in and he called me—with more than 20K and 8T in his hand, who wouldn’t? I was out—twice!—first in 142nd place and then in 86th. 28 minutes total.

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

15 minutes. 140th place out of 264 entries.

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

7 minutes. 152nd place out of 223 entries. Not an improvement.

Full Tilt miniFTOPS Event #44 6-Max KO $350,000 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

Play started off slow for me in this game: at least, it felt slow compared to the Rush games. But I really do like the 6-Max format, and the fact that this had knockout bounties and a large purse made it very attractive to me, despite the rather ugly history of my previous miniFTOPS outing.

I’d only lost a hundred or so chips to blinds when I picked up my first win ten minutes into the game with KJ. There was 140 in the pot and a flop of K3K which three players checked around. Another 3 on the turn and I popped out 40 for a bet, getting one call from a player who’d already lost a couple thousand chips. The 9 meant nothing to my full house, so I matched the pot and got a callI don’t know why—from the other player, holding A7.

The same guy got into it with me on the next hand. I had A2 and I was heads-up after raising to 90 pre-flop. The flop was J77, and I bet 75 after a check from the other player. 3 on the turn and we both checked. I got a pair with the river A. He bet 105 and I just called. He could have had another 7x or an Ax with a higher kicker—it wouldn’t have been hard—but no, just T2. It baffled me but I took the chips. He was moved to another table shortly thereafter.

Twenty minutes into the match we were playing five-handed and, I got Q8 in the UTG+1/hijack seat. Sort of an iffy hand—not high enough to make a killer pair, tent ends of a straight—but it’s in The Grid for six-handed play. Blinds were 15/30, UTG folded, and I raised to 75. Small blind called and the flop made the hand iffy no longer: [1h]26. I bet 120 after SB checked, then he called. 8 on the turn and he led out with 180, which I re-raised to 360, getting a call. 4 on the river. He checked and I made a 300 chip bet hoping that seemed weak enough to lure him in. He called and showed 77. I was up over 6,400.

My first bounty came with a player who’d lost all but 600 of his chips half-an-hour in, most in a 3-way battle with him having AxTx double-paired against a guy who was playing a suited queen and drew to a flush (not me). I was in the small blind with 99. UTG and the small stack on the button limped in. I raised to 120, which was met by both the limpers. 386 was the flop and I figured I’d keep the gas on, fairly certain that the small stack was going all-in. UTG dropped out; the button raised all-in for 490. I called and he flipped over 77, which wasn’t good news for him. J and Q on the turn and river. Pushed me up to just about 7K.

More pocket pairs: JJ on the big blind. Button—big stack at the table—raised to 150 and I re-raised to 325. The flop was T67. I bet out 400 and got a call. 8 on the turn improved my hand to a straight draw, which I checked just for fun, provoking an 800 bet. Who wouldn’t call that? The river 3 didn’t make any difference, but I was a little concerned he might have a 9x. I checked and he did, too, but his A6 wasn’t going anywhere and I was the big stack at the table for the next hand, with over 7,600 chips.

The Mutant Jack showed up to propel me over 10K about 45 minutes in. I was in the cutoff position with JA at 30/60. Two players to my left had more chips than I did (both had been brought in from other tables). UTG raised to 180, hijack called, I called, small blind called. 780 in the pot when the 4QA flop showed. UTG bet 780, so I was guessing he had an Ax. I called (Did he have a Kx? Was he already double-paired?). T for the turn. He bet again: 420. I figured: “What the heck, it’s the Mutant Jack.” 7 river. A whole lot of potential double-paired kicker combos out there; he might not need to have anything better than the J. He bet another 600, I gulped and paid the price, but all he had was A2. I only had 10,017, so I didn’t stay above the line for more than a hand.

AT was my last hand before the first break, and I picked up about 500 chips with it, which got me back over the line by 50. I popped off a note to Tomer, who had just arrived in Austria for EPT Snowfest. At the break, the chip average was 6,900, there were 10,900 players (registration was still open), and I was in 1,188th place. Tomer wrote back that he was watching my table while he ate dinner. Yikes!

A quarter-hour after the break, I’d only won one hand—and that was just the blinds. I was down to about 9K when I picked up 7Q on the button. Everything I said about 8Q above goes double for this pair of cards, and it won’t even make the straight. But it is on The Grid for six players, so long as you don’t put too much faith in it. The blinds were 50/100 and hijack raised to 214. I called and the big blind came along. Both stacks were a good bit smaller than me. The flop was a semi-promising TJ4. BB checked, HJ bet 345, I called and BB folded. A K showed on the turn and HJ bet another 645. I had a straight and flush draw but nothing else. I called. 7 on the river, a bet of 1,245 from HJ. I folded and consoled myself with having an 80% win rate at showdown, but I was down to 7,900 chips.

I continued a steady, slow bleed of chips after that, at one point folding five hands in a row after putting out blinds or bets. I was down to 6,000 before I managed to turn things around with JJ that turned into trips on the flop. My real breakthrough came halfway through the second hour when I made the first of two big mistakes.

I was on the button with about 7,200 chips. Both the blinds (which were 80/160) had about 3,500. UTG and cutoff were both over 10K, and hijack had a few hundred more than I did. Both the big stacks stayed out of this hand, but HJ bet 324. With 99 in my hand, I raised to 560. Short-stacked big blind went all-in for 3,561. HJ folded but I thought BB was pushing with a strong ace. Calling would cost me half my stack if I lost but I did it, feeling very stupid when he flipped over QQ. The 653 flop was bleak, but the turn and river were 99 for some major suckage. Another bounty and I was up to 11K. I managed to get over 12K, but within 20 minutes I was back below the 8K mark.

Someone else’s nines didn’t fare so well against me just before second break. Blinds were 120/240/25 and I was on the button again, only with AA. UTG—with only about 2,500 chips—raised to 555. I re-raised to 1,080, the blinds got out of the way, and UTG called. The flop was K52, he checked, and I bet 480, fairly sure he was committed to going all-in. He did and I called. 99, but no miracle for him on the turn and river, just 24. That netted me 3K and put me back near 12K. I was falling further behind the leaders, though, with all of this up-and-down motion.

My last bounty came through no action of my own, shortly after the second break. I was big blind with A7, so I was playing, no matter what. Action folded all the way around to the small blind, who had only about 2,200. He went all-in and I called, with more than 9K behind. He flipped K3, the board ran out Q99A8, and I scooped his chips.

Another series of decent cards that didn’t connect followed that, and I’d slipped down to 9,200 twenty minutes after the second break. Blinds were 170/340/25, and I was on the big blind holding 43, which I would normally just toss. Hijack min-raised to 680, everyone else folded, and I thought I’d get fancy and play my low cards to see if they’d connect. We were almost evenly matched, with me having about 400 more chips. The flop was 223! I had a pair! I bet 1,680 (the pot) and got a re-raise for 8,090. I could have stopped there and saved my 6,800 chips but I called and he rolled over 44. If only my hand had been 2x3x. KJ on the turn and river. On my next and last hand I was one card away from a flush and a straight that would have ended in a split pot but my J8 was beat by a 5J that paired the first card on the flop.

140 minutes, 4 bounties, -38% ROI. Finished 6,311 out of 17,102 players.

It’s a busy week in the non-poker sphere but I’m watching Tomer’s progress at Snowfest today; tonight I’ll be trying to get my quest for the puffmammy POY back on track, and this weekend is one of our double-point quarterly events.

Copenhagen

Tomer Berda at EPT Copenhagen, Day 1B. Photo ©PokerNews.com

Tomer Berda at EPT Copenhagen, Day 1B. Photo ©PokerNews.com

Tomer’s made it into Day 2 of EPT Copenhagen after a rough start that dropped him from a bit over the starting stack of 30,000 chips to less than 10,000. He recovered, but he’ll be going into a new day down 700 from where he began, in 189th place out of 262 players left, with the average stack at 51,400 and blinds beginning at 500/1,000/100.

Update: As of the first count of Day 2, Tomer had chipped up to 74K.

Update 2: During other events I’ve tried to do a little bit of research about the table draws on Day 2 and beyond, but hadn’t been able to find tables. Just ran across the Day 2 draws for Copenhagen now, quite a bit late.

Table 26

  1. Martin Hansen (Denmark). About $50K in tournament winnings, all in the past couple of years. Fourth place in an EPT London side event; 102nd in the EPT London Main Event. 81,000 chips to start.
  2. Michael La Masse (USA). No records. 17,700 chips.
  3. Daniel Lundgren (Sweden). $21K for 4th place in the Malmo Open last August. 67,000 chips.
  4. Jon Spinks (UK). $35K in winnings. Two fifth place finishes for $15K each: a side event at EPT San Remo and UKIPT Brighton. 30,600 chips.
  5. Tomer Berda (Israel). 29,300 chips.
  6. Mike Erst (Ukraine). No records. 32,300 chips. Busted out in this report.
  7. Afshin Alikhani (Norway). No records. 58,900 chips.
  8. Daniel Pettersen (Norway). A 12th place finish for $6,600 in Prague in August. 102,400 chips.
  9. Giacomo Maisto (Italy). $31K in winnings since August in EPT Main Events at Vilamoura (53rd place) and Vienna (20th). 56,800 chips.
  10. Kristian Moller (Denmark). No records. 62,400 chips.

Update 3: According to the latest chip count, Tomer’s been busted. Then again, so is just-back-from-retirement WSOP Main Event winner and Copenhagen hometown fave Peter Eastgate.

Too Busy

No post yesterday does not mean that there was no poker played. This is what I’ve done since the last post.

Got into a 3FPP Hyper-Turbo Steps Special for an NAPT ticket. You only start off with 500 chips. Second hand in I get KK and call an all in. Two more callers makes it me versus: 9A, 7A, and 99. The board rolls out T2Q J 5 and I’m gone.

$15K 6-max guarantee on Full Tilt and I’m cruising along with a couple hundred above the starting stack of 3K. I’ve got TJ and paired the board with the jack. There’s a Q on the flop. I pushed the first bet and called 500 on the turn which was just a 7. There’s 1,500 in the pot when the K shows on the river and my 120 bet is met with a raise to 1,860. I could call it but fold and the guy shows his 89 for nothing better than a busted nine-high gut-shot straight. Grrrrr. I lose another 1,000 to see the flop with a pair of sevens a little later but the fold’s a good one. I make it back on the next hand but three hands later I push too hard with JQ and I’m down to 5 chips. I manage to make it up to 45 before elimination.

Another 6-max, this time with $8K guarantee. It was actually doing quite well with a QK giving me an ace-high straight on hand 5 and netting a couple thousand chips. Another five hands and J9 turned into a full house, putting me at nearly three times the starting stack. Pairs of tens and queens had me over 11K half an hour into play and in the top 20 chip stacks. Ten minutes later, I was over 13K with KA. I took my hits with the blinds and lost a couple of hands with decent cards but was over 10K when I called a cutoff bet of 566 with 98 from the small blind (100/200, with only five seated at the table and the button calling). Three of us to the flop and I got a straight right away, with T67. First to act, I bet 1,500. Cutoff had me covered by about 4K and called, with the button folding. 7 shows on the turn; I’ve got a flush draw in addition to my straight and I bet 1,600 but I should really have pushed. The cutoff calls. Then 7 shows on the river. I check and my heart sinks when the cutoff bets 4K. I call, he’s got the T for a full house, and I’m down to 2,360, which goes all-in on the next hand with AQ and loses.

The midnight game yesterday morning had 2,200 players and $4,400 in guarantees. I was in the big blind for 40 chips (out of 2,000 to start) on hand 7. The hijack—who was up 1,200 chips—bet 80 after action folded to him. The cutoff folded. The button raised to 160 and the small blind three-bet to 240. I called with my TT. Hijack called. Button went all-in for 1,790. Ten things got real crazy when the small blind called. I called, leaving 260 behind. Hijack got out, probably wondering what the hell was going on. The flop was 748 which meant nothing to me. The small blind put out a bet large enough to get me al-in to call. In for 1,790, in for another 260  I always say. The turn was the T. After a 3 showed on the river, I saw that I was up against QQ (button) and AA (big blind]. I tripled up but a couple of subsequent losses brought be down to 687 a dozen hands later. An hour into the tournament, I’d managed to built back up to 7K. Blinds were at 350/700/85 and a stack half my size made an all-in move. I had AJ and called but the cutoff—with a stack twice my size went in for enough to put me all-in. I called and was fine against the smaller stack’s A3 but seriously in trouble with the big stack’s JJ. Nothing bigger than a nine showed on the board and I was out 50 places short of the money.

The first of my attempts at yesterday’s Irish Open quarter-finals had a slow start but a third of the way in a pair of sevens miscalculated against my AJ. The turn and river put three nines on the board giving him a full house, but the J on the flop gave me a better one and I doubled up from the starting stack of 2K. A6 in my hand earned another 2.5K with a flush just past the first hour of play. Then a pocket pair of sevens worked in my favor with a 7 on the flop and I was up to 8K and the chip lead shortly thereafter.

There were enough players in the tournament that there were three tickets to the semi-finals as well as cash prizes for the next four spots. I managed to stay in contention for the tickets until a little past the 90-minute mark (125/250/20) when I raised to 625 with TT from the hijack position and was met with an all-in for a little less than I had from the big blind. I should have been thinking “position maintenance” but called instead to see AQ, leaving me with 350 behind. An A  on the turn mostly sealed my fate.

I say “mostly” because I’m never one to say give up and die at the poker table. I doubled up with JK four hands later and did it again three hands after that with JQ (where were these cards when I needed them before?) Eight hands after my lowest point of 290 chips I had increased that by more than 1,100% to 3,645 and I was in contention for fourth place out of seven remaining players (the top three stacks were between 10.6K and 16.4K).

I played fairly tight from here on out, never managing to get above 5K but never falling below 3K. I took out one player with a small number of ships, another player fell victim to the blinds, and the last of the other small stacks tried to make a move with Q4 and was beat by king high. My own move came with an A8 that I tried to rep a flush to a big stack with on a 52K 4 7 board, but since he had 2K and four times more chips than I had, that didn’t work too well. I got my buy-in and another $8.50.

Mutant Catsino

The Catsino was up and operating last night for the 17th regular game of our home league, although turnout was light. It was not operating well for myself or K, the POY leaders going into the night. I bled chips left and right, having to rebuy fairly early (only once, though). K rebought a bit later. I only made it to round 7 when I went up against W, who was short on chips, thinking he was trying to make a move. I only had A6o but thought I had him. I was right, too, until his A4o caught a 4 on the river and I was down to just a few hundred chips. He took those soon enough. K went out in the next round. I’m still point leader but I do mean point leader because it’s only by one. D’s almost caught up to me (although he had me tied a couple months back and I managed to pull away again) and he’s moved back ahead of Kent.

We were talking before the game began about the WSOP schedule, because the agreement is that the POY goes to play in one of the $1K events at this year’s series. Apparently it was released yesterday afternoon, so now we need to finalize the league schedule and final date. The first of the possible events is 4 June.

After I got the Catsino operation put away, I entered the 11PM Irish Open quarter-final. These late contests are a little harder because there aren’t as many entrants—particularly on Cake Poker—so they either get cancelled or there’s only one ticket.

I suffered an early setback when my K2 was out-kicked on a juicy 8K877 board by K9. I worked my way back up to the starting stack and then to 2,400 within about 10 minutes.

By the 75-minute mark—about 130 hands in—I’d made it to 10,000 chips, playing very conservatively. We were already down to four players and I was the chip leader, with the other three at 7,300, 4,100, and 600, and blinds at 75/150. Despite my best efforts and a couple of premium hands (particularly so for short-handed play) I lost a couple of pots and slipped to second place. Then one of the smaller stacks took a big chunk out of the top man and I was back on the throne. The same player shortly eliminated the other short stack and had about as many chips as I did.

I managed to keep myself over about 7K through the 90-minute mark (hand 170), although I was back in second place. I was on the button when I picked up KK and raised to 1,000 (with blinds at 100/200). The small blind (with the smallest stack) folded and I got a call from the big blind. The flop was JKQ and the big blind was first to act with a bet of 1,000. An AT or even T9 had me, but I re-raised to 4,000 and got a call. The turn card was 6. The big blind’s bet of 400 was pretty inconsequential compared to the 10,100 in the pot already, so I called. The 6 on the river put me in mind of the hand that beat my straight in the $8K game, but I’m the one with the full house this time. My last 1,865 go in and he folds.

I’m up to 12.565 chips, with the other players at 5,545 and 3,590. Five hands later and I’ve eliminated the small stack and I’m sitting on 17K. The remaining player and I are swapping blinds and making test bets. No time to be complacent; there’s almost nothing in the prize pool beyond the ticket for the first-place finisher.

I suffer a setback with A5 when it runs into 66. I call his all-in, hoping to take him out after 25 hands of heads-up, but all I get is a pair of nines on and a busted wheel draw on the board, so now he’s the chip leader by almost 2K.

At one point he has a lead of nearly 3,000 but a lucky river draw of a queen gives me queens and twos to beat his pair of sixes on hand 218, bringing me back within 1K of his stack. I’m back in the lead (by 130 chips) on hand 223, then he’s on top the next hand. Hand 229 drops JJ on me, with the button. I call the big blind and he pushes to 11,040. That’s got me covered by 120, less than a small blind. When I call he flips over 88. A J is the first card on the flop, and while there’s three hearts and a KA, too, it’s all mine. 21,880.

The next hand puts him all-in for the ante and small blind. I mate a T and he does a 2 but that’s the end of it. The semi-final is Sunday morning, followed by the Final (for those who make it).

Tomer reports that he busted out of Day 1 of EPT Deauxville earlier today.

Min Cash

A busy day (for me) at the virtual tables yesterday.

I started off in a morning turbo game that had over $34K in guarantees. I took a big hit on hand 7 laying down QQ after an ace and a king showed on the flop and turn respectively and a doubled-up stack bet big. I only lasted five more hands.

Didn’t do much better in the $5K guarantee I entered next after calling a short-stack’s all-in with QK halved me. It was a coin toss but I never recovered.

Entered a couple of freerolls without getting very far; ditto with a couple more EPT Steps Special tournaments. The last of those was extra-short. With 200 of 1,000 chips in pre-flop and QQ in my hand, I bet 300 on a flop of 796 and the only caller goes all-in. I call and he’s got TA and a 28% chance of winning, which he does when 8 shows up on the turn giving him a straight. An 8 on the river rubs it in just a little more.

I went 71 minutes into another $6K guarantee but only made it about halfway through the field of 2,100.

My singular win of the day was in a $9.5K guarantee. I made it to 71st place for an ROI of 136%. So that was nice. It’s three cashes in tournaments between 1,100 and 2,500 players in three weeks. Not big money but not big buy-ins, either.