Flipping Out

Just a few quick thoughts on the new Flipout tournaments debuting this weekend on Full Tilt.

It doesn’t make any difference to US players, since—although people are finally getting their long-held funds—we can’t play on the site at this point. But new formats  get copied elsewhere, so….

The Flipout format is a combination of an elimination shootout and a blind all-in game. Every player at the initial table is all-in every hand until one player emerges as the table winner, then those players go on to play a normal tournament format, having already made the money (or nearly made the money). It’s designed to get you through all the “tedious” early play in the tournament, where you can bust after several hours and still be a long way from the money. For players who want to get to the “action,” it probably sounds pretty good.

From the standpoint of a good tournament player, however, it’s a tradeoff. A decent tournament player makes the money 15-25% of the time. On a 9-player Flipout format round, you’re guaranteed to make the money no more than 11.11% of the time in the long run. So you hit the money between 50% and 75% of what you would normally expect.

The upside might be that because the selection of players making it through the shootout round is random, that better players will go deeper in the money, but in order to counter the reduction in ITM%, there has to be a corresponding increase in money earned. If you’re making the money only 75% as often as you do in regular tournaments, you need to have a 33% increase in profit to make the tradeoff equitable. If you make the money 50% as often, you need to make twice as much.

Asa a hypothetical, say you’re a player who always wins top place in a tournament when you cash, which is 22% of the time. If you continue to win top place in every Flipouot tournament you play, you’re only winning half as much per tournament as you did previously.

The upside may lay in volume. If you can skip most of the time you spend playing tournaments (i.e. the time before the money bubble) you might be able to play enough volume to make up for the reduction in the percentage of cashes, but winning tournament players will need to go deeper in Flipout tournaments than they do otherwise to maintain the same ROI.

End of An Era, Pt. 7

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Sat quietly for 35 hands, then open-raised to 2.4BB with JA from HJ. BTN re-raised to 8BB and I called. Flop was 479, I bet 5.2BB, BTN raised to 16BB and I called. 7 for the turn. I bet all-in with 27.4BB and BTN folded, earning me 22.2BB.

Made my big killing with AA on BTN. HJ limped in, I raised to 3.2BB. Only called was HJ. Flop hit 84Q. HJ checked and I bet 2.8BB, getting re-raised to 5.6BB, which I three-bet all-in for 70.8BB. HJ called quick and showed QK. I took in 139.8BB total. Hung around for a while after that without managing to lose it but I should have exited and banked the profit before doing anything else.

32 minutes, 67 hands. +124BB.

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Just minor losses and fewer wins for fifty hands here, then I picked up JK as UTG3. Open-raised to 2BB, got calls from BTN and the blinds. Flop was T23 and we checked all around. 2 for the turn. I opened with 3.2BB bet, only SB stayed in. 8 on the river and I had second nut flush. SB went all-in and I had to follow. Of course he had the A.

Re-bought and laid low again for forty hands. Got QQ as UTG and raised to 2.2BB. UTG1 immediately three-bet to 8.6BB and everyone dropped out until it got round to me again. I four-bet to 46.8BB and this time UTG1 just called. The flop was 4TA and I put him to the test with an all-in of 42.4BB. He folded.

Nothing else really dramatic. I did manage to draw out 19BB from a pair of jacks by weak-playing some aces. I didn’t quite manage to make my original buy-in back.

40 minutes, 158 hands. 2 buy-ins. -28BB.

Full Tilt $4,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

Had a brief dip for a couple of hands at the beginning then with 1,830 chips and QA in my hand as SB I open-raised to 50 from 10/20. BB came along. Flop was a safe 3A7, I bet 100, BB went all-in for 2,340, and I called. He had bottom pair with T3. Two 4x showed for the turn and river and I was up to 3,680.

Had a few smaller wins after that but my participation was short. I had my own T3 in the BB at 20/40, with 4800 chips. Four players limped in and I checked my option. The flop looked good: 835. SB bet 200, I called, UTG went all-in for 5,760, and I was the only caller.He had 98 for top pair but I was a slight statistical leader going into the turn. That, unfortunately, was 9. Now I needed to make the flush or a 7x for a straight. It was 6 on the river, though, and I was out.

28 minutes, 29 hands. Finished 1,179 or 1,591 players. No bounties.

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Was down over 26BB (out of 80 to start) after 23 hands and got incredibly lucky on the river. Had K6 on BTN, open-raised to 2.2BB, BB re-raised to 3.8, I called, and I hit top pair on K57. BB checked, I bet 8BB, BB re-raised to 16, and I was all-in for 48.6. BB called and showed AA. Q for the turn seemed to spell doom, but my kicker paired the 6 river card, so I was positive again, with a win of 46.6BB.

Managed to increase it to a profit of more than 52% but didn’t get out for some reason. Then I overplayed JK against QQ—which drew a set on the flop—and lost nearly 58BB.

K6 came through for me again, putting me back into positive territory briefly, but AT lost out to a pair of kings, then my flopped set of jacks hit a set of aces on the turn and I was out.

23 minutes, 81 hands. -80BB.

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Skimmed along at the break-even point for most of this first game after the news of Black Friday broke. Only one win or loss greater than 6BB for eighty hands. Then, in the BB, I had 26 and two limpers ahead of me. The flop gave me two pair—6K2—but it was a bit weighted for a flush. Everyone cheched to the A on the turn. Everyone checked again. River was 8. SB went all-in for 54BB with a pot of only 3BB. It seemed like a steal, but it wasn’t. When I called he had the nuts: QJ.

I still had about 4BB left but that went away on the next hand.

21 minutes, 88 hands. -80BB.

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Got down more than two-and-a-half buy-ins in this last outing on the Rush tables for who knows how long. Managed to gain a little back with TQ outdrawing flopped double-paired KA to a club flush on the river.

39 minutes, 169 hands. -39BB.

Full Tilt $2,500 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

The first thing I noticed on this tournament is that the guarantee has been dropped from its usual 10K to a quarter of that. Why am I playing it? How am I playing it? Apparently, the software updates haven’t caught up to me yet by this time Friday eventing. As for why, if the money’s just sitting there on Full Tilt, why not? It’s not like I’ll be able to get it any time soon.

I’m down to 1,365 after a few minutes, with K2 on BTN. I min-raise to 60, both blinds call. Flop is good-ish with 6K5. Both blinds check, I bet 180, BB calls. 9 for the turn, checks from both of us. 9 on the river. BB checks, I bet 300, he calls and his king kicker isn’t great but it’s better than mine: [kq]7. Down to 825.

I go all-in with 720 and KT from UTG1, A9 calls from BB, and I double up when I pair the ten on the flop. Then I take another hit down to 900 a quarter-hour in. A couple of good hands let me eke back up over 1,400 before I hit paydirt at the half-hour mark.

Blinds are 30/60. UTG1 limps in. I had AK as HJ and raise to 210. BTN and UTG1 call. Flop is ugly, with someone else’s flush draw and only an inside straight draw for me: Q2T. UTG1 checks, I go all-in for 1,167. BTN has only 875 and calls, he’s got a set: TT. My straight comes through on the turn with J. If UTG1 had the flush draw, they’d have been unhappy to see the A on the river. I take the pot and I’m up to 2,762. The EV graph in PokerTracker did not like that move.

I make another 500 with KA two hands later, then 600 with 75 a couple hands after that. That was pretty much the peak, though, and after that it was mostly downhill.

41 minutes, 124 hands. Finished 129 of 559.

And that was my last game on Full Tilt for a while.

End of An Era, Pt. 5

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Trying to get back on the ladder. Again. Once again it goes poorly. Hand twelve is black eights 88. I’m down to 1,230 at 30/60 in CO. Two players ahead of me limp in, I raise to 180, both the limpers call. The flop is T45. UTG3 bets the pot (630), HJ surrenders, I raise all-in for 1,050. UTG3 calls and, of course, he has top pair with 7T. Nothing useful comes and I’m gone.

12 minutes, 12 hands. 9th of 9 players.

Full Tilt Crestline Gate Shallow

Won 4BB my first hand with KQ but lost 8BB with KK when I laid it down after A showed on the flop and some aggressive raising from my opponent.

9 minutes, 14 hands. -19%ROI.

Full Tilt Deerline Shallow

Playing concurrently with the Crestline Gate game. Lost my entire buy-in in three minutes. Called a bet that put me all-in with KA and was up against QQ. Lost the race.

3 minutes, 5 hands. -100%ROI.

Full Tilt Dry Gulch Shallow

Picked up this game after Deerlodge and while still playing Crestline Gate. Went all-in to call SB and was followed by BTN. I was the worst of three pocket pairs: TT vs. AA vs KK. The aces held.

2 minutes, 3 hands. -100%ROI.

Full Tilt Del Monte Shallow

Began play here just after busting out of Crestline Gate. Lost 7BB a few hands in then almost got even by hand 25. Started sinking again on 30 with 44 and was out with T9 that almost made a flush or straight.

31 minutes, 36 hands. -100%ROI.

End of An Era, Pt. 4

Full Tilt Round 1 Freeroll (1,500 chips)

Another run at a freeroll. Doubled up on the second hand with TA in SB. UTG2 was all-in for 1,605. I called with 1,470. He showed QK, the flop had A in the middle, and it was over by the river.

Fifth hand grabbed me even more chips. Q3 in CO. Five of us limped in, A2K gave me second nut flush draw, I called HJ’s bet of 30, the blinds folded, and UTG1 called. 8 made my flush, UTG1 checked, HJ bet 30 again and I raised to 100. Both UTG1 and HJ came along. A scary K hit the river, making several full house possibilities, but I didn’t think either of them had it. UTG1 checked, HJ was all-in for 1,325, I went all-in (UTG1 only had 15 more than HJ), UTG1 folded. HJ had a set of kings, but that didn’t touch my flush. That popped me over 4,700.

My 33 that made twos full of threes by the river was bested by TT a few hands later, though, costing me 1,200, and on the very next hand an ill-advised all-in call with AJ burned me for nearly 3,000 chips when KK showed up for the showdown. I was down to 910 after that.

I managed to briefly recover two hands later with something similar to what had gotten me started: TA. I had 1,000 even on BTN, we were still at 15/30. HJ raised all-in to 935. I went all-in. BB—who’d taken me down with the kings a minute earlier, called. We flipped the cards over, BB had kings again: KK. HJ was in bad shape with KQ. The flop showed some promise: 235. Any ace, any four, a couple more hearts…I could even still get a straight flush. The turn 7 didn’t do me any good but I got my A on the river (h/t Barry Greenstein). The pot netted me nearly 2,000 chips.

All of which I lost three hands later with AK. Blinds were 20/40. I raised to 100 from UTG1. The guy with kings was CO and re-raised to 360, getting a call from BTN. I re-raised to 1,020; CO and BTN were in. The flop looked good: AQA. At least so long as he didn’t have a Qx. I bet my last 1,900 and got a call. He had the Mutant Jack: AJ. Nearly 7K in the pot, I was a 4:1 favorite to win. 8 for the turn. J for the river. Nobody named their book for that.

18 minutes, 14 hands. Placed 4,564 of 6,983 players.

Full Tilt $1 Main Event Satellite (1,500 chips)

BAM! Out of the gate, picked up steam with a win holding K8 on BTN. Four of us to the flop after a raise to 80 from UTG. K6T and everyone checked to me. I bet 180, getting a call from only BB. 9 on turn and I bet another 700 (with only 540 behind), driving off BB and netting me 440.

K8 was mine again in CO, five hands later. Action folded to me, I raised to 100. BTN and SB called. I made top pair on the 682 flop, SB bet 200, I called, BTN folded. An 8 for the turn made a set but SB (who had me covered by thousands) bet 550. I raised all-in for 1,515 and he called, showing a weaker kicker: 85. harmless 7 on the river and I was up to 3,780.

That was my apex, though. I raised a limp by UTG1 to 200 as UTG2 at 40/80. 4 callers. Low cards on the flop: 936. UTG bet 700 and I raised to 1,500, putting him on a pair to the board, which I could beat. Three folds, then a call from UTG. 2 for the turn and UTG checked. I bet 1,960 all-in. UTG called with just 130 behind, then dropped 98. I was just about there, but then 8 showed up, giving him two pair and knocking me out.

18 minutes, 21 hands. 85th of 201 players.

End of An Era, Pt. 3

Full Tilt Satellite to the $200K Double Deuce (1,500 chips)

Two of the players at my initial table were eliminated in the third hand by the guy on my left, then a couple hands later I falled him down to the river with a pair of jacks and took over 600 chips from him when his busted straight was exposed. He got moved to a new table right after that and I was left as chip leader for a bit with 2,700 chips.

Got JA on SB at 30/60 fifteen minutes into the game and three-bet to 400 after a raise and a call to 150. There were three of us who saw the flop of JTK. I bet all-in for 2,550, getting a call from a small stack of 1,015 who then showed the straight with 9Q. Fortunately for me, Q came on the turn and the 8 river card went nowhere. That put me up to 4,800. Got moved to a new table for the next hand.

There were seven players at the new table; I was in third place behind stacks of 7,500 and 5,250, with another stack about my size and the other three running from 1,000 to 2,600. Got 77 in BB and when action folded to the SB who went all-in for 1,797 I called. He showed TJ and I was in trouble on the flop when it came out T64. Then the turn 5 game me hope and 3 rier sealed the deal for my straight. Not exactly how I would have expected to win that hand, but I’d take it. Up over 6,600.

Back in the BB at 50/100 ten minutes later and I had A9. UTG called. The big stack at the table with 13K was UTG1, who raised to 450. I called and UTG called. The flop was TK8, I bet 450, UTG went all-in for nearly 4K, UTG1 called and I gladly folded. UTG held top pair with KQ and UTG1 had crap with 7J. Who knows what he was doing.

Another ten minutes, another BB. 80/160 with K4. I’ve got about 5K, with the two larger stacks at the table of 9,700 and 8,100 on my right in SB and BTN. HJ, CO, BTN, and SB all limped and I checked to see what would come of this not-promising hand. 87K hit the flop and after SB checked I made a pot-sized bet (800) on my kings. Everyone folded to the SB, who called. 9 on the turn, check from SB, pot-sized bet (2,400, now) from me, call from SB. 9 on the river, check from SB, check from me, he shows 7J and I take in 3,840. He’s the same player I took my first pot from. Life’s different in non-cash games.

I was over 8K at the 100/200 level when I had a serious turn-around with KQ as HJ. UTG limped, I raised to 500. BTN, BB, and UTG called. The flop wasn’t auspicious: 925. Action checked to me, I bet 300, BTN folded, and the other two players called. A on the turn gave me the nut flush draw. BB checked, UTG went all-in for about 3,200, and I called. UTG had two pair with 2A. My club didn’t show and I was down to 4K.

I was down to less than 3K ten minutes later at 150/300/25, in SB with TA. UTG1 raised to 1,500, I went all-in, and he called, showing JJ. It was a nail-biter after the QJ7 flop, with his trips and my straight draw. The turn 9 gave us a chance of a chop. But pairing my ace with A for the river didn’t do me any good.

58 minutes, 67 hands.

Full Tilt Satellite to the $200K Double Deuce (1,500 chips)

One hour later. Got chopped down to 950 chips in the first fifteen hands, then managed to parlay TA into a win of 1,175 when a pair of fours didn’t believe I had an ace.

Lost 1,300 playing 67 and a straight draw from BB against a set of tens, then won 2,300 two hands later with KJ going all-in and flopping two pair against callers with AQ and A4.

Proceeded to lose nearly 3,000 over the course of two nearly consecutive hands shortly thereafter when a Mutant Jack beat my A7, then a pair of fives became a set on the turn after I’d flopped a pair for my jack. That put me on life support, down under 1,000.

Everything went into the pot with 57 in UTG. BB with 99 called, there were no clubs on the board, my only concession was a 7 for the river.

38 minutes, 47 hands. Finished 30th of 76.

End of An Era, Pt. 2

Full Tilt .NET Onyx Cup – Round 1 (1,500 chips)

Spent some of my FTP points buying into the entry level of the Onyx Cup ladder. Given the way things went at the end of last week, I guess it’s all for the best that I didn’t get too far and get very invested in the process.

13 minutes, 15 hands. Placed 118th of 360.

Full Tilt .NET Onyx Cup – Round 1 (1,500 chips)

Five minutes after the first attempt. I’m back. This one’s more brutal than the last as pocket aces suck me down fast.

3 minutes, 4 hands. Even so I was 243rd of 360.

Full Tilt Satellite to the $200K Double Deuce (1,500 chips)

Fifth hand got me off to a quick start with K9 in the SB. I saw the flop with four others for 120 after a raise from UTG1. Got top pair with K72 and pushed all-in for 2,380. BB raised nearly his entire stack, for 4,880. CO called all-in at 1,335. BB had a flush draw with T6, CO’s kicker was better: KA. Turn 7 didn’t change anything but the K river gave me and CO kings full of sevens, and I got the bulk of the pot since CO’s contribution was smaller than mine.

Took a huge hit not long thereafter with TK in UTG. I limped in for 60, SB called, BB raised to 240. I called and SB called. Flop was JA6, BB opened with 360, I called. BB kept pushing and I kept calling until the river when for some reason I pushed all-in with nothing more than a bluff for a flush. BB had top two pair on the flop but not quite as many chips as me; I lost more than 3,200 chips and had 155 left. That was gone in two hands.

20 minutes, 21 hands.

Full Tilt $1 Main Event Satellite (1,500 chips)

If I can’t get to the WSOP through the home league POY, I thought I’d try the even more difficult path through a massive qualifier (via FTP point buy-in). Another tournament without much traction, went out with A4.

17 minutes, 18 hands.

Full Tilt Round 1 Freeroll (1,500 chips)

Wanted to build my bankroll up and I really hadn’t been taking advantage of the freerolls. Got off to a great start on the first hand with JA in CO. I raised to 600, expecting a couple of callers since it was a freeroll, and sure enough both the blinds came along. The flop was T63. BB bet 30 more and I raised all-in to 900. SB folded but BB called and showed A2. The turn was Q and river was 6; I ended up at 3,630.

The ninth hand put me over 5,000 chips but on eleven I had 99 and was beat by 68 that made a full house by the river.

18 minutes, 11 hands. Finished 4,213rd of 7,179.

End of An Era, Pt. 1

Full Tilt KO Sit & Go (3,000 chips)

Didn’t last long here at all. Got caught with a stupid call holding KQ with K on the board against pocket aces.

13 minutes, 12 hands. 75th of 90 players.

Full Tilt Mach 10 Rush

Got up as high as 125% of my buy-in but put my flush up against a full house on the fortieth hand and lost my all-in.

10 minutes, 40 hands.

Full Tilt KO Sit & Go (3,000 chips)

A lacklustre showing here, I feel. I did briefly get up as high as 8K, but was quick to lose that and get knocked back down to about 4K. My JT didn’t quite make a straight on the last hand.

46 minutes, 44 hands. 31st of 90.

Full Tilt Flash Rush

Never got ahead at all here. Three hands near the end wiped out my buy-in: QK, JK, and AJ.

6 minutes, 26 hands.

Black Friday Freeroll

Encore Club $500 Guarantee Freeroll (5,500 chips)

I don’t know if this freeroll noon-time tournament was planned ahead of the Black Friday shutdown of the big online poker sites in the US, but it seems like an auspicious time for the local card rooms to try to step into the rather large void left by PokerStars and Full Tilt. Me, I’d  have played it anyway.

The game was at least 20 minutes late getting started, and about seven tables were full when one of the staff came around to drop off an extra red 500 chip for everyone in their seats. A couple table’s worth of stragglers came in during the first hour but for the most part everyone started with the bonus.

Ducks were all over the board during the game, and in fact my first win was holding 2x2x in BB as several of us limped to the flop, which was 5x5x2x. I stepped up the pressure with my full house and everyone folded.

My second take came with 67. The flop was a Qx8x5x, and apparently my open-ended straight draw was more awe-inspiring than anything anyone else had because another raise took it.

Flopped top two pair holding AxKx and grabbed some more. Forty-five minutes into the game at the 75/150 level I was holding 8,325 chips.

Pushed with A3 and won a pot of 1,400, which I promptly lost speculating on Ax6x.

The last hand before break 1, I had Ax6x again. The flop was Tx5x8x and there were several of us in the pot, with me leading out for 500. The turn was 9x and I was almost there, leading out with another 500. Finally, the 7x showed on the river and I bet 2,500 (keeping in mind that Jx could beat me), getting a call from the woman sitting to my left. We flipped our cards and the dealer called her as the winner, pushing out the 5x and 7x for two pair. The chips got pushed over to her and she started stacking before I got it together to ask what she’d won with, and I pointed out that my 6 should have been good for the straight. A couple of players backed me up and they and the dealer tried to reconstruct the pot, so I ended up with about 7K, which gave me 9,400 going into the break. I opted out of the add-on.

Once the action got going again, I had a couple of good hands. AxKx again and I raised 2,500 in a pot of 1,000 to pick that off. Confident play of AT managed to take down a pot of 8,000. By the end of the fourth level I had 18,900 chips.

Picked up AxTx again and raised 2500 on a queen-high flop with middle pair. Took in 6,600.

There’d been a discussion at the table about how KxQx was a losing hand. Another player and I went to war with me holding KxQx and Qx on the flop. I won a pot of more than 20K, then pointed out to the guys who’d been the biggest detractors that I’d just used their least-favorite hand to win the biggest pot at the table so far. Even though we had a different dealer than the previous hour, he managed to nearly screw this up for me, as well by forgetting to count the chips I’d put all-in after matching the raise until I prompted him.

ESPN poker commentator Norman Chad‘s least-favorite hand is AxQx, and indeed, it promptly lost me about 8K of my big win. Still, with seven-and-a-half minutes to go in level 6 (400/800) I had 26,000 chips.

Lost 12K on a flush draw with KQ but still somehow managed to finish the level and get to the second break with 22,800 chips.

After the break, we started up at 500/1,000. Promptly lost 6,500 with JxJx after an Ax showed on the flop. Took the blinds down with a 2,500 raise holding AxKx. Same raise on the next hand took the blinds but with AxAx I was really hoping for some action.

Won another hand with A3 with two more clubs on the flop and a raise. Wasn’t exactly making any headway, though because I still had only 22,000.

Tried to see the flop with 57 but just lost 2K at the 1K/2K level.

I opened with an all-in holding A5. Slightly larger stack called with 6x6x, then flopped a set. No diamonds for me.

About 190 minutes of play. Didn’t count the hands. Out about 30th of 75 players. More than $1,100 in the prize pool by the time re-buys and add-ons were made.

The Rock

Full Tilt Onyx Cup Turbo Super Satellite (1,500 chips)

There were only two entrants to this game when I ran across it and it had a guaranteed ticket to the Onyx Satellite, so it was awfully attractive. It only allowed registration for the first two levels, by the twentieth hand a total of seven players had joined, although a couple were already gone by that point.

I malingered near the starting stack size for over thirty hands, briefly holding the lead when 1,700 chips could hold the lead, but down to 1,295 at the twenty-minute mark. There were five players at the table with the chip leader (BB) at 3,185 and blinds were 30/60. I held 78 in CO and limped. SB limped, BB raised to 240, and I decided to call, as did SB. I got middle pair on the 5J7 flop. BB bet 360, I called, SB called. Turn was J. Both the players ahead of me checked and I bet 200, hoping nobody had a Jx. Both called. River was 2. Everyone checked. SB had a busted flush draw and two pair with 23; BB just had the pair on the board and AT. My better two pair won the pot of 2,400 and made me chip leader with 2,895.

The chip lead had shifted to the player on my left nine hands later at 40/80. CO limped, I raised to 200 with TJ, SB and CO called. J47 made me top pair on the flop, and I bet 350 after checks from SB and CO. CO was the only caller. The turn was K and both of us checked. A 7 for the river induced a bet of 800 from CO but I wasn’t convinced and made the call. He showed four to a straight with 65. I took the pot and he was left with just 325 chips. I had 3,695, just 130 chips behind the lead.

The two smallest stacks were both eliminated just three hands later by a pair of queens held by the third-ranked player. The field was close, ranging from only 3,000 to 3,700 for the three of us. Shortly after that, the same player took out the player who’d had the chip lead the longest, with a set of nines. We went into heads-up at 50/100 with stack of 3,295 (me) and 7,205.

The first hand of heads-up couldn’t have gone better for me. I was BB, holding 24 and he just called, so I didn’t toss the hand, which was great because the flop was 563, giving me a straight. I bet the pot—200—and he followed along. T hit the turn and I doubled the pot again: 600. Once again he came along. The 7 on the river extended my straight and I went all-in for 2,395. He called and showed 97. If a 4x or an 8x had hit the board, I would have been in deep trouble (or chopped the pot, at best) but instead I took the chip lead with 6,590 vs. 3,910.

I only managed to hold onto the lead for about eight hands, though. I had the button and A9 when we both put in 400 and went to the flop, which was AJ6. He bet a modest 100 and I raised all-in, which was what he was hoping for. He called with 2,660 and flipped over QA. He evene paired his kicker on the turn with Q, and then the tables were turned: 4,380 vs. 6,120.

I lost another 1,700 a bit later chasing a flush with Q7. The board was 2J3J and I’d opened after the turn with 1,000, but  he went all-in and I just couldn’t pull the trigger to hope for a diamond. That brought me down to just over 3,000.

Even the Mutant Jack two hands in a row couldn’t stop the relentless chipping away of my stack. I had JA on the button at 60/120, raised to 300 and he folded. Same exact cards on the next hand, he raises to 360 and I go all-in, then he folds. All told, I profit just 480 chips off the diamond Mutant Jacks. and I lose that profit a couple hands later with TA.

Less than two minutes after the Mutant Jacks appeared, I’m down to 1,850, on the button with QA. I open-raise to 420 and get a call. The flop is 5TK. I have an inside straight draw, a backdoor second-nut flush draw, an over card, even the potential for a royal flush. I go all-in after a check from the big stack, and he shows K3 after he calls. There’s 3,820 in the pot and I’d still be at a 7:4 disadvantage if I win. Of course, I don’t, an 8 shows on the turn and he even double-pairs on the river with 3.

Seven players. Finished second. 33 minutes, 79 hands, ROI -81%.

The Onyx Cup slips away for another year….

Good Thing There’s Bounties

Full Tilt $20,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Just five minutes in and I make top pair from the SB holding JQ on a safe-looking J32 flop after four of us have limped in. I bet out 100 as first to act, getting two callers. 6 for a turn and I bet out 300 more, again two calls. 2 is the river and I check, BB checks, UTG2 puts both of the blinds all-in to call, and I do. He’s been holding a set with 33 in the pocket from the flop.

Out 622 of 714.

Full Tilt $9,000 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

A big one that got away from me. I had quite a setback on my 12th hand, holding QT on the button at 25/50. There was a raise and a call to 175 ahead of me and I probably should have ejected, but I saw the flop of A3Q and decided to play it. UTG1 bet 250, UTG2 wisely got out, I called, and 4 appeared on the turn. Another 250 from UTG1 and myself, 5 at the river and I called his last 250 bet before he turned over 6A. That knocked me down to 735.

I’d dropped to just 435 ten hands later after some other action and JT came into my hand. UTG called the blind of 60, UTG1 raised to 120, UTG2 called, I (UTG3) decided to make a move and made my tiny shove. That got called by UTG, UTG1, and UTG2. My role in the hand was over as I watched the flop roll out 388. UTG1 went all-in and drove the other two players out, then showed AQ, so any chance of a flush I had was shot; I needed a pair. J showed up on the turn and an inoffensive 5 was the river. I bounced back to 1,830.

AT on the next hand. We’d lost a the guy who’d played the previous hand with me to re-shuffling and I was UTG1. I open-min-raised to 160, getting four callers. The flop was 379, probably making someone happy but the blinds just checked and I bet 200 to open. Only the big blind dropped out. K on the turn was interesting and I opened with another 200, inducing everyone to fold and making me an easy 1,245 profit, which put me just over 3,000.

Nothing much happened for twenty minutes. I’d drifted down to 2,250 chips when 77 came into my hand. It’s not my favorite pair of cards but I was at less than 19BB and the Andy Bloch “Tournament Checklist” is all about going all-in with the small pairs when you’re getting short-stacked. Did I listen? No, I raised to 300 and there were three callers. The flop was 322. Checks from the blinds and this was where I shipped it, for 1,950. SB called, BB raised all-in to 2,750, then SB called that. SB had A4 for a one-ended wheel draw, BB had us seriously in trouble with 52 and a set. 8 shoed for the turn, giving me a chance for a backdoor flush, and the river A completed it. I took in 7K (but significantly did not learn me lesson about shipping with small pairs, something that comes back to bite me later).

The last significant hand was my final one, forty minutes later. I still had only 6,675. Blinds were 120/240/25 and I was BB. Picked up AQ. UTG3 goes all-in for 8,374 and I call. He’s got KQ, so I’m good unless he catches diamonds or a Kx. The flop is 93J and anything else is irrelevant. Could have gone the other way but it didn’t.

98 minutes, 87 hands. 1 bounty collected. ROU: -85%. Finished 829 of 3,687 players.

Full Tilt $20,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Another one-minute wonder. Called the 120 min-raise of UTG3 from BB on the second hand, flop was 972; I bet 120, he raised to 660; I three-bet to 1,200; he called. J on the turn; I’ve got 180 chips, an inside straight draw, and an ace. Might as well. He calls with the AJ. 9 for the river. I’m sort on my flush and short on my straight and out of the game.

One minute. Two hands. 1,013th of 1,196 players.

Full Tilt $36,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

Six minutes in with most of my starting stack I get 77 again, this time in late position on the button. Two players limp in. I raise to 300, ten times the big blind. BB and UTG2 call. The flop shows up with 6QT and everyone checks. Another 6 on the turn. UTG2 opens with 340 and I call. BB has the sense to bail. Another over card on the river. K and UTG2 bets 810 to put me all-in if I call. I bail.

That whittled me down considerably. I’m at 660 13 minutes into the game when I get QQ. UTG raises the big bet three times to 120. I re-raise to 280 but should probably be all-in here. SB calls, BB is all-in for 1,245. UTG calls, SB raises all-in to 1,560. UTG calls. Three all=ins. Here’s the cards. SB 88, BB AK, UTG: JA. I was a 43% winner so far. The flop’s fine: 569. It put a lot of diamonds on the board for BB, as well as a straight possibility for SB. The 4 for the turn didn’t change anything, my win percentage was up to 57%. The 7 on the river completed the straight, though. Maybe an all-in pre-flop would have induced the eights to fold.

14 minutes, 37 hands. 683rd of 1,324.

Cake Poker Series 2011 Super Satellite (1,500 chips)

Nothing to say about this. I was stuck just below the starting stack size twenty-odd minutes in, got priced in with TA and shoved, with J9 and KQ calling—altogether we made a long straight—and the hearts won out.

24 minutes, 17 hands. 8th of 16.

Full Tilt 90-Player KO Sit & Go (3,000 chips)

No movement for twenty-five minutes here, I was in CO at 3,270 with the blinds up to 60/120 when everyone ahead of me folded. I held 98 and min-raised to 240. Button and BB called. The flop just gave me bottom pair: JA9. BB checked and I bet 180. B called, and BB was gone. The turn was 2, giving me an ugly flush draw. I checked and B bet 600. Calling left me 2,250 behind. A tantalizing A hit the river. I bet 1,000, concerned about pocket jacks making a full house. B must have thought he had it but he was far behind with JQ. That picked me up 2,300.

QQ made me the next jump a dozen minutes later. UTG3 raised to 540 at the 120/240/25 level. I was on the button and re-raised to 2,500, about half my stack. The blinds folded and UTG3 four-bet all-in to 3,540. I called with 1,740 behind and he showed JJ. The flop went my way with 6KQ, and he was out. I was at 9,450. First bounty.

I caught one of the mid-sized stacks trying to pull something three hands later. I limped for 240 in after UTG called, CO called and SB as in. The flop was 63T and everyone checked. J hit on the turn. SB bet 480, BB and UTG folded, I called and CO was out. The river was 4 and SB checked. Worried about a flush, I checked too, but SB had 8J, so I had the best of it and was just short of 11,000.

Just eight hands later I was UTG2 at 200/400/50. I open-raised to 800 with QT and the only caller was SB. Got a pair in the T6J flop. SB bet 1,200 and I called. A turn 9 gave me second pair and a straight draw. SB bet another 1,600 and I called again. I made trips on the river with T and when SB checked I shoved all-in. Amazingly enough, he called with 44. That put me over 18K and made a second bounty.

The end was fast and violent just five hands later. I was UTG with 17,790, holding 77. Blinds were at 250/500/50 and I opened with a raise to 1,250. A slightly smaller stack in UTG1 was the only caller, so that was good. The flop was a promising 528 and I bet another 1,250 but I probably should have gone bigger. UTG1 called. The A on the turn pretty much shut things down as far as I was concerned. Flush draw and an ace on board? I checked and then folded after UTG1 bet 6,150. That took me down 2,550.

Next hand, I was in the big blind with just 24. There was a raise and call to 1,000 and I decided to see if my low cards would hit anything, with pot odds of 6.3:1. The flop was T6T, when the initial raiser bet 3,650 I got out of there pronto.

Still, I had 14,190 in the small blind. Suited connectors: 98. That looked good. The only player into the pot ahead of me was UTG1, who’d min-raised to 1,000. I called. The flop gave me a dangerous pair: 8AA. I bet 750 and got called by UTG1. The A showed on the turn and I had a full house. Did he have the other ace? I bet 1,000 and he smooth-called. 3 on the turn didn’t change anything. He needed the fourth ace or a pocket pair better than eight to beat me. He bet 7,500, I called, and of course he had AJ. I was down under 4,000.

The last hand for me was at 300/600/75.  I had KQ in UTG1 and went all-in for 4,815. What’s Andy Bloch say? Fewer than 10 big blinds? Check. Open-raise with KxQx? Check. UTG2 called, everyone else dropped out and I was up agains the Mutant Jack: AJ. The board was tantalizing with 2T898 but I didn’t make the straight or the flush and I was someone else’s bounty.

66 minutes, 77 hands. 2 bounties, no prize, ROI of -70%.

Cake Poker Internazionale 6-Max (20BB)

66 on the third hand in CO. Open-raised to 3BB, called by SB. Flop was 8Q8 and we both checked to the turn 7. SB bet 4BB and I called. 7 river card counterfeited my pair and I was playing the board. Another 4BB bet from the SB and I folded.

88 a little later in HJ and UTG raised to 3BB. I re-raised to 7BB and everyone folded. I was still stuck 6BB.

Down to 7.5BB fifteen minutes in and picked up A6 in the CO. UTG raised to 2BB, I called and B did as well. Flopped well with A86, HJ and I checked, B put out a bet of 7BB. That was the end of it for HJ but I called all-in for less than the bet. He flipped 98 and the race was on. No diamonds on the turn or river—Q5—and my two pair held up. Just down by 2BB now.

I was on the BB with 78. Min-raise from HJ and a call from CO. I went along and got bottom pair in the Q7J flop. I opened with a bet of 2BB, HJ raised to 5BB and I called for some reason. A on the turn and it didn’t take the 3BB bet from HJ to get me out of there. Back down to 12BB.

In HJ with K4. Min-raised with a call from CO and re-raise to 6BB from B. I’m the only caller. The flop is 56T. I check and B shoves his entire stack of 185BB into the ring. I call for some reason and he shows QQ. T makes the turn and my hopes for a backdoor flush are gone. The river J ends this session.

Full Tilt $9,000 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

Started off with a bang eight minutes into the game with KJ on the button. UTG1 limped in and HJ min-raised to 80. I re-raised to 140, getting calls from SB, UTG1, and HJ. The flop was 55A, SB checked, UTG1 bet 400. There was a fold from HJ and I re-raised to 800. SB folded, UTG1 re-raised to 1,675, and I made a dangerous call that left me with 80 chips. He had a set with 57. The 4 on the turn looked grim, then a safe 8 made the river and I doubled up plus I got a bounty.

A similar hand on the button ten minutes later got me into trouble. Three limps were ahead of me with KT. I raised to 250, which got a call from SB and a re-raise to 450 from BB. UTG3 called, I called, SB called. The flop was AQ7. SB checked and BB bet 1,410 all-in. UTG3 fled the scene, I called, and SB folded. BB was way ahead and had me dominated with with AT but a Jx could put me on top. Didn’t happen, though, and I lost 1,860 chips.

The blinds were 30/60 a little later, I was still around 2,500 chips and got 97 in UTG2. UTG raised to 120, I called, and BB was in. The flop of JTQ gave me flush and open-ended straight draws. BB checked, UTG went all-in for 1,205, I called rather than go over the top, because BB had me by 1K. BB folded anyway and I was heads-up against two pair: TQ. K for the turn gave me my straight but opened up the flush for him. The river was 6 and I took another bounty, as well as 1,475 chips, which put me up to 3,995.

Speculating on some unsuited ace hands cost me over the next quarter-hour, so I was down to 3,115 when I got KK as UTG. I min-raised to 160, getting four callers. The flop was 965. SB opened with a 240 bet that got BB to fold. I raised to 1,500, enough to put SB almost all-in but not necessarily scary for the others. They both folded, though, then SB pushed for 1,680. I paid the extra 180 and he showed a gutshot straight and an ace: A7. He got his ace on the turn with A but that gave me four to a flush, which came in the shape of a 9. Up to 5,435 and another bounty.

On the 60/120 big blind with A9. B raises all-in to 683. SB calls. I call. The flop gives me top two pair: A92. Right now I’m beating AxKx. SB checks and I go all-in for 5,142. SB folds, B has QA, and the rest of the hand is irrelevant. I have almost 7,200 chips and another bounty.

Took a big hit on the big blind again at 100/200. Q9 in my hand; not one of my favorites. Action folded to the button, who raised to 700. I called and we were heads-up. The flop looked pretty good—7J7—and I opened with 750. B went all-in for 2,670 and I called. An 8 showed on the turn but the queen-high straight was going to be harder and pointless with TT in B’s hand. The last card missed me: 5 and I was down to about 4K again.

I made a couple of attempts over the next ten minutes but nothing panned out. Finally, I got 44 in UTG3. Action folded to me, I followed Bloch’s instruction on what to do when you’re under 15 blinds and open-raised all-in with the low pair. Everyone but the BB folded. He showed TT. The board ran out 82343 and I came an Ax or a 6x away from a straight, but I was bounty-bait. The other part of the goal on Bloch’s “Tournament Checklist” is to win with that move.

105 minutes, 100 hands. 3,831 players and I made 939th. Four bounties and ROI -39%.

Full Tilt $20,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Just nine hands and nothing of note here. I was down about 300 from a KQ play. My last hand was 88. I raised all-in after a single limp at 30/60 for 1,230. The button isolated me by going all-in for more than 4K., showing KK. By the turn I had a little bit of hope with 6JT9 showing but a queen would give a straight to the kings. Instead, he got trips with a river K.

Four minutes. 1,385 players, finished in 617th.

Full Tilt 90-Player Sit & Go (3,000 chips)

Surprised I lasted as long as I did in this game. I was steadily downhill and under the starting stack for forty minutes until a Mutant Jack rescued me. Got AJ in the big blind at 60/120 holding 1,845 chips. UTG called and everyone else folded. I raised to 725. He three-bet to 1,330 and I shoved for 1,845, getting a call. Naturally, he was pleased, he had AA and I looked like a goner. The 455 flop gave me some life, though. I hung in suspended animation through the 8 turn, then T came on the river and I doubled up, leaving UTG with a little more than 3BB.

Got my own comeuppance in short order four hands later when I had KK as HJ. Blinds were up to 80/160 and UTG min-raised. I re-raised to 995. UTG and I were heads-up after some folds, and he went all-in for 3,010. I called with 985 behind and he showed TT. The first card out was T, with 37 making another nice flush draw for me, but it was JJ on the last two streets and I wasn’t the one with a full house.

I managed to build back up to about 1,800 but the blinds were getting big and I was down to 1,240 at 200/400/50 when I tried to make 8K work for me. UTG raised all-in to 800, UTG1 and SB called, and I re-raised all-in. UTG1 called with more than 11.5K left, SB called holding another 27.5K. The board was Q6797 with the big stacks checking it down to the river. Nobody had much of anything 9A for BB, AT for UTG, but SB had a TQ and the queen pair was good enough to take it.

63 minutes, 57 hands, one bounty. 32nd place of 90 players. ROI -85%.