Mobbed Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20130911 Caesars Palace Kick-Off Classic Seniors

Maximum stack for Poker Mutant during the Caesars Seniors tournament

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

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

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

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

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

20130925-142750.jpg

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

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

The Barber


Encore Club $3,000 Guarantee Monthly Champions Freeroll (7,000 chips)

After it was all over, I told the manager at the Encore that it was a good thing I’d spent some time establishing my table image as a complete fish earlier in the week, with two noon games where I busted out in the first round. Then again, it was a victory in another noon game that got me into the “Freeroll.”

Now—particularly considering the way things turned out—I’m not complaining, but the Champions event (open to winners of the six daily events through a calendar month) does have a $20 door fee. Six games a day, thirty days a month, minus duplicate winners and people who don’t make the event, and you might get around 150 players. (Last Saturday it was 138.) That puts the take in door fees within a couple hundred dollars of the freeroll guarantee, which sort of means the players are funding at least half of it themselves, given that a bunch of degenerate poker players are likely to be putting out a $10 door on a Saturday night anyway.

Encore August Champions TournamentI got a good start in the first few levels with a full house holding a low pocket pair and managed to pick up about 1,600 chips before AxJx let me down as I was drawing for Broadway against an older gent. I needed a Qx but got a Jx on the river and bet my two pair, but that made Broadway for his AxQx and I was down to about 6,000. I held the line through level 3 and managed to double up just before the first break.

That’s pretty much where I stayed through the next three levels as the blinds leapfrogged from 200/400 to 300/600 to 400/800. At the second break (when I took the photo above) I still had only 13,000 chips even though I’d bought 5,000 in add-on chips. I’d gone from 30bb to 13bb and was at only two-thirds of the average stack.

Another two levels passed without any movement on my part, which was bad, because the blinds took a big jump between level 7 (500/1,000) and level 8 (1,000/2,000). I managed to hold out to level 9 (1,500/3,000) with only four big blinds left then shoved with KxJx twice and managed to take the blinds. Pushed again with JxTx on a dry board with Tx as the top card and bets on the table and the take took me up to 35,000 before the third break. I was still a couple thousand chips below average (with 47 players left), and was about to start a level with just eight big blinds, but it was better than my position at the previous break.

The fourth session is sort of a blur for me. It would probably be a lot better if I could remember what happened. All I know for sure is that I sent DV an email during the fourth break just after midnight saying: 2 very good hands in last rounds up to 225000. No idea what those hands were or how they played out, but I did somehow manage to sextuple my stack over the hour. Don’t ask the centipede how he keeps all those feet coördinated.

An hour later and we consolidated to the final table. Incredibly, I was the chip leader, with 510,000, just ahead of the guy to my right who had just under 500,000. Between us we held over half the chips in play (about 1.8 million). He rather quickly set to knocking out other players, and in short order he’d added another 800,000 or so onto his stack by removing five players. I was holding relatively steady at (relatively being the operative word when the blinds are 30,000/60,000).

My only real mistake of the tournament came, I think, in proposing a deal to award the prize money based on current chip standings. The big stack was obviously a good player. I had more than twice what the next player had, and she had half again as much as the fourth player. There was no doubt the big stack was going to hold out for the first prize money. Nobody but me liked the idea of awarding by chip rank, and I probably should have just played it out and seen how the 90,000 chips/orbit affected the small stacks rather than accept the ICM deal for second through fourth, which effectively took $210 from me (assuming I would have kept second place) and gave it to two other players. Nothing’s certain in poker, though.

It may not look like much, but there are sixteen black chips stacked in front of me below adding up to 400,000, with five pink 10,000 chips on the side. If my picture is going to keep showing up online, I’m going to need to do something about my hair.

Seven hours. Second of 138 players. +714% ROI (including entry fee, add-on, and dealer tip; I probably should have counted the diet sodas and something called a Titanic I ordered when I got to the final table, but I didn’t).

 Second Place