The Slice

Cake Poker $25,000 Guaranteed Semi-Final, 20 Seats Guaranteed (2,000 chips)

I decided to play this tournament because it looked as if from the early stats that the overlay would be pretty good for twenty guaranteed seats. I’d intended to use this part of my Cake bankroll to make another run at the Irish Open Semi-Final but the last couple of weeks of March it didn’t look like there would be enough people playing the satellites to actually award a seat in the monthly final. So, go for the money.

My second hand I was on the BB. UTG3 opened with a min-raise to 40. Action folded to me with J4 and I called. The flop was spadey: 7K8. I bet 60, getting a call. Q hit the turn, which wasn’t helpful, but I continued with a 60 bet. UTG3 raised to 120 and I called. My flush came through with a river 6 and I made a pot-sided bet of 450. UTG3 called, showed a pair of queens with JQ and I took in a 680 chip profit.

Ten minutes later I picked up the same amount, this time from SB with A9. Three players limped in and I raised to 50. BB folded but all of the limpers called. 84A on the flop gave me top pair and I bet 200. Only UTG called this time. The turn was 2, and I checked but UTG bet 310. I called. The river card was T. I checked again and this time UTG didn’t try anything. He showed 8K. I was up to about 3,500.

My next hand on the button was QK. CO limped in for 30; I raised to 75. BB called and CO folded. Top pair on the flop again with 38Q. BB checked and I bet an amount almost the size of the pot: 175. BB raised to 448, with only 877 behind. I re-raised to 721 and BB called. It was a 6 on the turn, BB went all-in for his last 604. I called and he showed Q9. The 3 on the river paired the board and gave us both queens and threes but my king gave me the win and a total of more than 4,900 chips.

Things went to hell at the half-hour mark. Action folded around to me in CO at 25/50 holding TT. I raised to 200, was re-raised by B to 650, and both the blinds folded. I called and the flop was Q54. I checked, B bet 800, and I called, thinking B had something like AxKx and was trying to push me off. 4 on the turn and I stepped into it even further, with a 580 bet. B called. The river was A, I checked, B bet 650, and I called, only to see him flip QQ. I lost almost 2,700 chips, taking me down to 1,618.

Fortunately, I was able to recover within less than ten hands. I was in SB with AJ at 50/100. Action folded to the button who went all-in for 3,006, twice as many chips as I had and about half the stack of BB. I called, then so did BB. B had 77, BB held JJ, so I had a chance. I got my ace on the 29A flop, nothing came through for the other players, and I tripled up to 4,629.

My pattern for the next sixty hands was to maintain at about 4,500 or 5,000 chips for 15 hands, get busted down to 2,500 chips for a few hands, double up, and repeat. Not exactly where you want to be when the blinds are running 300/600/50. I finally broke out on a hand where I was CO. I raised to 2,000 holding AA. BB went all-in for 4,010 and I called, with 146 behind. BB flipped JJ. He came one 8x away from getting a straight, but the aces held up and I made it to 8,866.

Three hands later I had a pair of tens again but this tie they didn’t get shot down by queens. BB was all-in with only 137 chips. I had TT in UTG1 and min-raised to 1,200. Everyone folded and I was heads-up with the all-in. The board looked familiar—Q6445—but the BB had 7K and was out. I was pretty solidly in the top 20 by this time.

A walk on my big blind a couple hands later netted me 850 with 26 and put me over 10K just before the second break.

It took about twelve more minutes to get the final elimination. I got down as low as 8K but finished with just over 12K.

132 minutes, 138 hands. Tied for “1st” with 19 out of 86 players.

Cake Poker $25,000 Guaranteed (5,000 chips)

Fifty minutes after the end of the Semi-Final, the real match began. The first half-hour was uneventful, with my stack bumping between 5,000 and 5,500 chips.

Blinds were 25/50 and I was UTG3 with 77. Action folded to me, I raised to 125, B called, and SB raised to 413. I called and B followed along. The flop put two over cards out—JT2—and it got checked all around. The 5 on the turn didn’t change things much. SB checked again, I put out just 100 into a pot of 1,289. B and SB came along. 7 on the river gave me a set and when SB checked again I bet 500. That forced B out but got a call from SB who showed 99. I was up to 6,851.

I was the only caller on the next hand, holding JT heads-up against BB. The 8K9 flop gave me an open-ended straight draw, so I bet 200, which bought me the pot.

In UTG1 on the next hand I had an unimpressive 44. I limped in, UTG2 raised to 400, UTG3, B, and I called. The four of us saw a 824 flop. I bet 500, UTG3 was the only caller. An A turned over next, I bet 1,000 and UTG3 followed along. 9 for the river. I checked, wanting to see if he’d bet out more but he checked as well, then showed KK. That put me up over 9,800.

On my next BB, I had the Q7 “internet hand.” There were two limpers, I checked, and the flop was 59Q. I bet 200 on my top pair, UTG2 called, and HJ folded. The turn was 3 and I bet another 200 and got another call. I felt fairly secure with the river 6 and bet 101 to leave an even 9,000 behind. UTG2 raised all-in for 2,889 and I called. He only had a TJ and my queens were good enough to bring me up to 13,140.

I promptly lost 2,400 on the next hand with 9A. I had top pair on the AT7 flop but BB picked up two pair with T7.  6 on the turn gave me a flush draw but it didn’t come through.

I spent the next fifty minutes ranging a couple thousand chips on either side of the 10K mark. I was down to my lowest point just under 8,300 when I got fours on the button at 150/300: 44. UTG1 raised to 600, action folded to me and I made a big raise to 2,000. That pushed the blinds out. UTG1 went all-in for 9,862, and my all-in call was about 1K less. He turned over AK. The board was Q8Q33, and I doubled up to just over 17K. This briefly put me in the top six.

Over ten minutes I slid down to 12K, then popped back up to about 17K with an A7. I was at about 16,500 at the end of the second hour.

Just after coming back from the break, I thought I was in pretty good shape when I got KK in UTG. Blinds were 200/400/40, and I opened with a raise to 1,000. I got calls from UTG4, HJ, B, and BB. The flop was 89T and I bet 2,000 after BB checked. That got a call from UTG4, HJ folded, then B went all-in for 19,171, about 6K more than I had. BB folded, I called, UTG4 folded, and B showed 99 for a flopped set. Q showed on the turn, making Jx good for me as well as Kx but the last card was 7. Could I have raised enough to keep the nines from playing the hand? Could I have been smart enough to have folded the kings after the all-in raise? Maybe next time.

124 minutes, 117 hands. 67th place out of 159 (30 places paid).

Diamonds Are Forever

Cake Irish Open Quarter-Final Satellite (1,000 chips)

I guess I still have my heart set on going to Dublin in April. There are so few people playing on Cake that, comparatively, it’s actually harder to make it the next level of play in these contests. A lot of the Quarter-Final events (eight a day) get cancelled for lack of players, and even some of the ones that run don’t award tickets to the Semis, because there’s no guarantee. So I entered this Q-F satellite to see if I could maximize my investment.

AK about ten minutes in put me over 2,600 when I called a short-stack all-in on a 44J flop and caught A on the turn to beat jacks-up. My own pocket pair of JJ almost felted me seven hands later, when I called another all-in and he got his second ace on the flop.

I managed to work my way back up with hands like AQ and 7A and 99. A little over an hour into the game I’d made it to the 4,500 chip mark, just as the final table was consolidated. A lay-down with TA on a Broadway draw that went as far as the turn turned annoying when the other guy flashed his unpaired 9K. I went out on a T9 hand with an unfilled open-ended straight and four-flush against an ace-high caller. Got sixth place and a sub-min cash leftover prize for 100 minutes of play. ROI of -27%.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Did my usual brief submarining in this event, skimming just below the starting stack while I tested for the right opportunity and hoping that it actually showed up. Eight minutes in, I picked up JT. I was down to 1,070 after losing blinds and bets on a couple of suited QxKx hands. Action folded to me in the hijack and I min-raised to 60. The button—big stack at the table with more than 3,500 chips—raised to 150. The big blind called, as did I. I had top pair on the T36 flop and bet 300  after a check from the big blind. Button raised to 615 and I called, leaving 300 back. The blind got out of the way. I checked after a Q on the turn and the button put me all-in to call. I didn’t figure the queen made much of a difference to his hand and called. I double-paired with J on the river and the button turned over 99, behind from the flop.

A lucky AA just four hands later more than doubled me up to more than 5K when I took out two players with  JJ and QA. Three hands after that a tentative excursion with A2 made trips on the QAA flop and both other players to the flop having queens kept them on the line through the river.

I took some hits that brought me down from more than 3K fro 6,500, then started building again. An AJ Mutant Jack at the 40-minute mark netted me 4,400 and put me over 10K for the first time, but only by making me sweat for the river A to beat the pocket QQ of the all-in I called.

Just before the first break, a relatively innocuous-looking K6 ended up in my hand in the cutoff position. Blinds were 80/160. The hijack, with called. I called, and everyone behind me limped in, too. The flop was 42K and I had top pair as well as a 2nd nut flush draw (and potential straight flush). The blinds and hijack checked and I made a small bet of 240. Button folded, small blind called, and everyone else got out of the way. The 7 hits on the turn. There’s 1,300 in the pot. I can’t make a straight flush any more but with me holding the 6. the only way he can is if he’s got A5—and if he’s got the ace and can make any flush he beats me. He can’t have a full house yet. His stack is 3,500, I’ve got him covered by almost 10K. He checks and I feign weakness with a bet of 240. He calls. Maybe he’s got a single club and he’s hoping for a fourth on the board. Maybe he thinks the same of me. The T shows on the river. There’s no chance of a full house. He has to have two clubs with an ace to beat me. He bets 650 and I raise to put him all-in. He has a flush but it’s J5 and I’m sitting just under 18K while the break is on.

The graph shows a little blip after things start back up when I take a couple of hits. A call against a 4K stack goes awry when he has pocket KK and I only have JJ in mine and four to a straight on the board. Losing another 1,500 on the next hand with AJ busts me down to 11K, but the third monster in a row—AK—almost doubles me up when I call two all-ins holding AJ and 99 then get a KQK flop that stays good through the river.

The most notable event of this match was a mechanical mistake on my part. The game had been going for about 300 hands, we were 100 minutes in (it’s Rush poker). The blinds were 200/400/50 and I was on the button with J9 and 39K in chips, 3rd at the table in stack size. UTG+3 limped, the hijack (#2 stack with 49K) raised to 1,600. I called, thinking it might be a largish pot and I might be able to take it if the cards came out in the middle ranks. The big blind (13K, the smallest at the table) called and UTG+3 (25K) was along for the ride. The flop was TQ5 which didn’t do much for my hearts but did give me an open-ended straight draw. There were two checks and the big stack bet 4K. I called, along with the blind and UTG+3 folded. Another spade dropped on the turn: 5, pairing the board, as well. The small-stacked big blind went all-in, getting a call from the big stack. I did not want to call a bet for a third of my stack here, even with 5,600 already in the pot. Potential flush on the board, full house possibilities—heck, just a 5x had me beat—but I didn’t pay close enough attention to my cursor and—honest— called instead of folding. 7 showed up on the river, the short stack had my rank but in diamonds (J9, and the big stack had my flush with a bigger card 6Q that made top pair on the board and took a profit of 32K.

After that I struggled along for another 100 hands, making some ground and then losing it, briefly making it over 30K again but having trouble keeping ahead of the blinds. My last hand was 140 minutes into the game. I was the short stack in the big blind at 500/1,000/125, with 25K in chips. My cards were another A2. UTG+3 min-raised, hijack called, I called, and the big blind folded. The flop was 5QJ, not particularly good for me but I put in a bet of 1,500 to test the waters and got called by both other players. Another diamond (5) on the turn told me to push but I should have taken another look at the board before I did that because I still would have had ten big blinds deep in the tournament. I bet 2,000 and was called by UTG+3, but got a raise to 12,000 from the hijack. I called, along with UTG+3. I thought I was so special when the 3 showed up on the river and went all-in for 9,335. UTG+3 got out of the way with 40K but the hijack showed his JJ for a full house and took in 42K.

34th place out of 1,219 entries. ROI of 232%. Top prize in the tournament was about 72 times what I made.

Full Tilt MiniFTOPS Event #1 (5,000 chips)

I took the profit I made from the Rush tournament and put it into the first event of the series.

Play went slowly for me for over an hour. I’d dropped almost 2,000 chips, almost steadily, until about the 90th hand. My best hand—AQ—met absolutely no resistance and got me 60 chips of blinds; nothing else I had made more than a couple hundred. I was watching pros bust out right and left; WSOP Main Event 3rd-place finisher Joseph Cheong was gone before I was.

Finally, I managed to double up by doing something stupid. I had AQ and 750 in the 1,950 pot heads-up on a flop of J35. My opponent checked, I bet 220, and he went all-in with a larger stack than mine. I called with 2,220 and crossed my fingers and Q shoed on the turn, with T on the river. He turned over JK. No flush. I was up to 6,390. I lost a bit when I was bluffed off QQ with a board holding an ace, a pair of 8s and three spades. To rub it in, the guy showed a garbage JQ. He busted out thirteen hands later, though.

I had a little lull before I started building back up, but I was nowhere near the chip average. Then my flushing problem again reared its ugly head. I called a min-raise to 400 from the button with 9A. Both the blinds were in, as well as UTG+2, who’d made the raise. The flop was 677 and UTG+2 bet 1,000. I called. I probably should have raised but I doubt that would have done anything for me except lose me more money. The blinds folded and T hit the turn. I had a gut-shot straight draw to go with my nut flush draw. He bet another 2,000 and I had to call. But it was not to be. 6 on the river. He showed JJ—even a river ace would have beaten him—and I was down to 4K.

I turned diamonds into chips with JT about ten minutes later, though. I had about 3,500 in the cutoff at 120/24/25 and called a raise to 480 from UTG+2. A call from the big blind meant there were three of us to the flop. I had a gut-shot straight draw with 48Q and decided to take a stab at it with a 500 bet when both players ahead of me checked. Only UTG+2 called. The turn was 2 and I just checked the action through to the river, which was J. UTG+2 had about 1,500 more than me and bet out nearly half his stack with 1,800. I raised all-in to 2,500, not believing he had the queen. Then he folded and I was up over 7K again.

That was brief, as I dipped down below the starting stack again before recovering to almost 9K with K6 (more diamonds!) It was an incredibly ugly hand. I called the 280 big blind (holding 5,300 behind) from UTG+2. The button raised to 840, with another 4,400. The large stack (21K) at the table in the big blind called the raise, and when I did the same there were three to a flop of 4TK. The big stack checked and I opened with 750 to see if that would protect my pair. It did, but only marginally. After the button called the big stack folded, which probably saved me on this one.

With 2 on the turn, the hand was decidedly unfriendly to my diamonds, but I put out a bet of 560 into the pot of 4,385 and got a call. The 5 hit the river. I decided to see what the button would do and checked. Check. He had QJ for an open-ended straight draw but no spade and my kings were best.

It was a decidedly un-premium diamond hand just four deals later that got me to my peak in the tournament. I had Q2 in the small blind with three limpers behind me and over 8K in chips, so I put in another 140 chips. The big blind checked and five players got to the 384 flop. I had third nut flush draw in first position to act, so I bet 420. Only the big blind and hijack called. The K gave me the second nut flush. The A was still out there potentially, so I only opened with 560. It was down to me and the hijack. T on the river. No four of a kind or full house possibilities. The only thing that could beat me was a hand with two diamonds including the ace. I made another 560 bet. The hijack raised to 2,240 and I called, figuring I had another 5K if he had the better flush. He had the A but his second card was only a J, so I was up to 13.5K.

It wasn’t for long, though. Just seven minutes later I was dealt AK in the small blind. UTG+1 raised to 777 and there were four callers, including the hijack and both us blinds.

The flop was 535. I should have taken the story of the earlier A to heart and left it alone—since I had no connection to the cards on the board—but instead I opened with a 510 bet. UTG+1 dropped out but three of us saw the 4 on the turn. A gut-shot straight draw!

I really need to pay more attention to pairs on the board.

I checked, to be sneaky. The big blind checked. Hijack bet 1,020 which only I called. I made a pair with the K on the river. I bet about 10% of the 6,903 pot. Then the hijack went all in for far more than I had. He was just bluffing, right? I called.

33 in his hand. Full house since the flop. If only I’d had 53 instead.

142 minutes of play, made it to 12,140th place in a field of 27,539 (top 45th percentile). Not a stellar showing but I outlasted more than half the field.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Doubled up at the five-minute mark withKA. Then I got only minimal return when a larger stack shoved all-in on the turn and was called by me and a start-size stack. I had KQ with the board showing QK22 for two pair; the big stack had KA for just kings and twos; the small stack had 7A for a flush draw. If there had to be a diamond, I wanted it to be the queen; I didn’t want an ace to counterfeit my queens; I could have lived with another two to chop. But the river was the 4. The small stack tripled up to 4,300 and I made a profit of 150 chips.

The Mutant Jack failed me a little while later. AJ in the small blind with 2,600 chips, #2 stack at the table. Min-raise to 80 from UTG+2, I re-raise to 200, big blind calls, and UTG+2 is in. The flop’s 4TJ. I bet 600, everyone falls into my trap and calls. T on the turn. I have two pair with top kicker. I’m all-in. Big blind calls but he’s about 1,300 short. UTG+2 folds. QK for an open-ended straight draw. River’s 9. Well, I still have 1,275. At least, I do until QA slams into AA and drops me below 300. I battle back up over 1,000 before 88 cuts me down in the 21st minute. 357th place out of 1,137 entrants.

Cake Poker Roma 6-Max

Played some short-handed cash game to kill some time. Killed 80¢ faster than I killed time.

Full Tilt Satellite to MiniFTOPS #2 (300 chips)

Didn’t I say something about not playing Super Turbo tournaments? Shouldn’t that go double (at least) for Omaha Hi/Lo Super Turbo satellites? I wanted to see if I could get in to the $50K Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo tournament without paying the full entry fee—not having played anywhere near as much Omaha as Hold’em—and figured this would be a chance to see how I fared.

I did well almost right off the bat. On the third hand I was on the small blind and got J64T. There were four limpers (including myself) and the big blind checked. The flop came out 7Q8 leaving me needing 9x for a queen-high straight. There were four checks and a bet of 150—half everyone’s stack— from UTG+3. I called and two other players were in, too. A T on the turn cinched it up for me. I went all-in. UTG called, having a little bit over my stack.  UTG+1 re-raised all-in, also having me covered, followed by an all-in call by UTG+3 and a call from UTG. The river was 9.

There was 1,142 in the main pot with a side pot of 66. My queen-high straight was the best hand and I got the main pot but the side pot went to UTG, with 6396 for a ten-high straight. No low hand.

I lost most of it in short order. AK5T in my hand. There’s a 4 and a 3 on the board by the turn and I’m hoping for a deuce on the river. But someone else makes it and takes both high and low pots and I’m back down to starting stack with the blinds at 20/40.

Two pair on the flop knocks me down to 17 chips but I manage to triple that up with a different two pair the next hand. It all goes away then. 81st out of 155.

Puffmammy Tournament 20 (1,500 chips)

What a mess. I was worried that if I missed the game tonight I’d fall too far behind D to realistically catch up. The good news is that he only gained two points on me. The bad news is that I could have skipped the game to see Stan Ridgway, lost four instead of two points and been three buy-ins and an add-on richer.

Two ugly points about the night. I was all in after the flop for, I think, the second time of the night. Playing against W, who’s typically pretty loose. I had AxQx and W flips Ax2x There’s an ace on the board. Everything goes fine until the river when another two shows up and I’m re-buying.

Then, just before the end of the re-buy period, I’ve got most of my stack in the pot. I can’t re-buy again but there’s an add-on available at the break coming up. I started the hand with AxTx and flopped KxQx but nothing showed on the turn and there are two large stacks all-in in front of me. If I don’t catch my card, I’m out first for the night. If I fold, I’ve got a paltry stack that I can almost double with the 500 chips. I fold and the Jx shows on the river. G wins the hand with a king-high straight and I kick myself for the rest of the night as my little chips dwindle away. No recovery this night.

Made it to see Stan, though.

February Wrapped Up

Full Tilt $12,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

The buy-in for this tournament was low, and I’m trying to get a strategy worked out for the Rush tournaments, so I entered this even though I tend to avoid the rebuy games. Three of the players at the table double-stacked themselves before the first hand began, but the size of the guarantee was good. My play wasn’t, though. Hand nine and I had KT. UTG raises to 60 and I call and we’re heads-up. The flop gives me two pair: 2K2. UTG bets 165, I pop him to 660 and he three-bets to 8K. I only have 720 left. He could have the other two kings, he could have a one of the other twos or he could have the two aces he shows when I call.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

This game doesn’t have either the lows or the highs of the previous Midnight Madness. Sure, I dip down below 1,000 chips a couple of times in the early levels, but nothing catches fire and by the time I pick up KA in the big blind at 150/300/25, I’ve dropped from 8,300 to 2,650 in twenty hands. The small blind shoves and puts me all-in to call, which I do. He’s got JQ and pairs the queen on the turn. 120 minutes and I go out in 645th place of 3,707.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

This month’s Irish Open Finals snuck up on me. I had intended to try to qualify in one of the weekly Semi-Finals earlier in the month so that I wouldn’t be playing the Semi the same day as the Final, since it looks like the ticket winners have to join after the match has begun. Anyway, this wasn’t a game that would qualify me for anything. I played for 50 minutes and briefly broke 3,000 chips, finishing 14th of 18.

Full Tilt $19,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

This could have gone well but I got overconfident with pocket TT after nearly quadrupling my stack over 20 minutes. I was in the small blind at 60/120 and UTG raised to 480. I called and was heads-up, relatively confident with a flop of 878.  I shouldn’t have been, though. I bet 1,000 and got a call. J came on the turn, giving me a flush draw and a potential straight flush. I checked and UTG bet it all, putting me all in if I called. Of course I did. Unfortunately, he had T8 for a set of eights from the flop. He had one of the tens I needed (which would give him a full house but me a better full house). The river was 7, giving him an unnecessary improvement to a full house. I was out 377th of 557.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Another game that goes nowhere but down. Out in 12th of 15 players.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Is my heart in these? 11th place of 12 players.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Something screws up on my computer at the last minute and I can’t get out of this match before it begins. Only six players sign up and there’s no semi-final ticket awarded, just cash distribution. Another pair of tens is my final hand.

Cake Irish Open 2011 Semi-Final (3,000 chips)

I tote up and enter the Semi directly. Things get off to a decent beginning and by the first break I’m up to 5,200, actually in the prize ticket zone. Not great but not under the starting stack. Another hour and I have slipped below that number, to 2,500 chips. Not where you want to be after two hours of play.

There are seven players at my table. There’s a stack of 14K to my right, three stacks between 9K and 11K, and a couple of about 5K. I’ve actually made it to the last two tables out of 45 players (Cake runs 10-player tables). There are eight tickets being awarded to the Final, which just started. Blinds are 150/300/30 and I raise to 600 with 33. One of the 5K stacks goes all-in. I call and he’s got KK. A 3 is the first card on the flop, the rest of the cards go 8J35. He’s got a king-high flush but I’ve got quad threes. My Expected Value graph goes crashing through the floor but I more than double my anemic stack. I’m still at barely above half the chip average.

My last hand in the match is a better starter but it isn’t nearly as lucky. I’m heads-up with another player after calling his 750 raise from the small blind in the same level as the above hand. I’ve got JQ on a board of K3T for a straight draw. I bet 900 after the flop and get a raise that puts me all-in. Or I can stay with the 4K I’ve got behind. I call. He’s got AK. An 8 and 7 appear but no ace or nine. Just over two hours, 15th place out of 45 players.

Cake Daily $700 Guarantee Turbo (4,000 chips)

This is almost a classic good trend for a tournament. I probed for a chance to build my stack through the first half hour, losing blinds and one small showdown. I doubled up to 5,800 with a AJ Mutant Jack, then won another 2,900 with JQ three hands later.

An hour into the match I had over 15K, after a pocket 88 made a set on the flop then a back door full house that won me almost 7K. A dozen hands more and I was over 23K. At the ninety-minute mark I was over 32K. I almost went out going all-in with 28K in chips (with blinds at 3,000/6,000/300) and QA against JJ pre-flop; luckily the river card was Q.

I wasn’t so lucky a few minutes later when I put AK up against A6. I was in the big blind at 2,000/4,000/400, there was a raise from the cutoff to 10,600, and I re-raised to 17,200, which was called. The 276 flop hit the six and he went all-in, having me covered by 20K or so. I called and lost. 123 minutes, 16th place of 174 players, ROI 90%.

It all went south on Hand 133.

Cake $1,000 Guarantee Turbo 6-Max (3,000 chips)

I managed to build well in the first hour of this match but hit a rough patch and lost three big hands that whittled my stack from 14K to 5K. Then I had the bad luck to think that my AT was the strongest hand of the two players who went to a T8K flop only to find that it was actually the guy with the other two tens in his hand. 64th of 211 players.

Short Tournaments

Nothing elaborate, just a couple of short tournaments since the last post.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Came into the Rush game I’ve played before ten minutes late but near the beginning of the second level (15/30). No problem there. Didn’t lose any huge hands until the end but never managed to crack 2K.

Picked up KK after 15 minutes of play (at 30/60) and raised to 180 from the cutoff after everyone ahead of me folded. Big blind called. The flop was 69J and he put me all-in. I called and was ahead of his A6 until the A turned over. No king on the river for me and I was out 344th of 1,210.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

This was downhill from the first hand. I literally did not win a single pot, losing the last hand holding T6 on a glop of 3KA to a pair of jacks that wasn’t made until the river.

Cake Poker Irish Open Quarter-Final Freezeout (2,000 chips)

Another bad start here. There were three tables when I began and we were five-handed on my first hand as I was in the big blind with 23. The cutoff raised to 70 after a fold from UTG. The small blind came along and a I didn’t throw my hand away as I should have. The flop was 655. Action checked to the cutoff and he bet 125. The small blind folded but I decided to chase the straight and called.

The 4 was the turn. I had my straight. I had four to a flush—I even had two outs for a straight flush—I bet the pot for 460 and got a call. Then the 5 landed on the river. I checked, my opponent bet 380, and I paid him off to see his TT make a full house after pulling a 9% chance out of his pocket.

I maintained at around 900 chips for about ten minutes until I pulled JJ. There were six players at the table and I was back in the big blind (still at the 10/20 level). The cutoff, button, and small blind limped in and when I raised to 100 everyone called.

The flop was T63, pretty safe for my jacks. I bet 790 all-in after the small blind checked and the button was the only caller, flipping over T9. And, of course, the 9 was the next card to flip, with a useless Q on the river, and I was the second player eliminated from a pretty small field.

Cut Off

The last couple of days have been a mixture of frustration and a feeling that maybe I’m breaking through a couple of barriers.

I didn’t play much on Wednesday. A $1K guarantee on Cake that didn’t last long, a bounty tournament where I fell out short of the money after making it to chip leader (but where I mitigated somewhat with a couple of bounties), and a shot at an Irish Open Quarter-Final Satellite that went bust.

Then, Thursday, I was atypically playing two tournaments simultaneously: another Irish Open QFS and a $1K guarantee. Personally, I like to concentrate on how the hands play out—even if I’ve folded—so that I can see what the other players are doing, and having two or more games running is too distracting.

I was managing to hold my own, though. The satellite had been running for 45 minutes and I’d been nearly busted out but worked my way back into the thick of things. We were 19 hands into the guarantee and I was about double my starting stack. Then Cake froze up. I left the client open for more than an hour, tested connectivity from another computer (in case it was my internal network, but I had no problems with Full Tilt or PokerStars). Even the web site was unavailable for a while. Once things got back up and running, my two games were gone, but there were a couple of small tournament awards in my cashier history and it looked like my buy-ins had been refunded. No announcement of what they’d done to resolve the technical glitch in Curaçao.

I switched over to Full Tilt for a bit and entered a Super Satellite to the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Main Event, which had a qualifier playing last night. I didn’t do any better than 13th of 32. Going directly to a satellite was even worse: 15th of 18. Then again, I realized after I’d started playing that I’ve got a pretty big commitment the weekend after the tournament and in the very unlikely event I was to win a seat, I was going to be flaking out on something important just to play poker. And you wouldn’t ever want to do that.

I lasted about an hour in The Ferguson, but was somewhat distracted because I was—for the second time in a day— playing dual tournaments. Half an hour in I entered a $10K guarantee Rush tournament. The last couple of times I’d played the tournaments I’d seemed to have gotten a feel for how to play it, not using PokerTracker or my own tools. For a while, both games were running relatively well, but I ended up all-in in The Ferguson with A2 on a board of 342 only to run into a flopped straight with 56 (which also surprised the original all-in who had 33). No backdoor aces on the board for me, but 1,001st (of 2,159) place let me concentrate on the Rush game with a bit larger buy-in.

The game progressed more or less on a steady build. There was one big chunk taken out about hand 170 when my TA made top pair but pocket kings took the day (the third player in the hand, with AT was surprised , as well, but I wasn’t all-in). A graph of my chip total shows a couple of sharp notches in the line at hands 260 and 280 as well but in both cases I recovered to nearly my previous position within a few hands. KA tripled me up at one point against QK when two players called my all-in and a K was the first card on the flop. Another time I caught A2A on the flop to trip up my TA against KK, which doubled my chip stack.

A min raise at 300/600/75 from a player in the UTG+2 position in hand 325 prompted me to call from the big blind with K2 after everyone else had folded. The flop of 278 gave me at least a pair, and as he’d had several stacks of equal or greater size following him when he raised (with 21K to my 17K) it seemed unlikely that he’d have gone with anything in that range. I bet another 1,200 and he called. A 3 turned and I checked to see what he’d do, still thinking he was probably unconnected to any of it. He bet 2,400, I called, and the river rolled out K. No flushes or straights possible. Nothing that could make a full house. I had the top pair and bottom pair. He didn’t seem aggressive enough to have been holding kings himself or a pocket pair that matched the board. I checked to see what he’d do and he went all-in. I called and won 34K when he showed JQ.

I couldn’t have gone out on a better hand, although it would have been better not to go out. It was 400/800/100 on hand 354. I got AA on the button. UTG+1 made the call and I min-raised to 1,600 (I should really have pushed harder). The blinds dropped out and UTG+1 called, putting us heads-up. The flop was 7Q2, there was 5,300 in the pot, I had 27K against his 43K. He checked; I bet 2,500. He raised to 5,555, I went all-in, he called. He shows QJ for the lower pair. 58,808 in the pot and the turn card’s 5. He needs one of the jacks or another queen. And that’s what shows up on the river: Q. I go out of the tournament in 41st (of 1,062) with an ROI of 170% (he makes it to 16th).

Another $1K guarantee at Cake rounds out this account. No steady climb this. An hour into the tournament I was back at “GO” (i.e. 1,500 chips) but then things took off an in about 20 hands I was over 12K and racing down to the cash. Some laydown I made to avoid getting knocked out before the bubble took me down but a couple of helpful ace hands pushed me back up. A set of threes beat pocket fours to put me back in long enough to take 11th and an ROI of 176%.

The Hand 130 Curse Again

Man, do I feel stupid.

Yesterday’s Irish Open Semi-Final got off to a decent start. With direct buy-ins, forty players were in the competition, and the prize pool had seven tickets to the final (which was set to begin two hours after the start of the semi-final).

A4 was the hand of the day. I made my first two wins with 4A and 4A before a TQ popped me up to more than twice the 3K starting stack. Then I took my first hit from an A4 that turned into a 5-high straight flush.

I had a dry card spell for a while and slipped back down to near the starting stack until things kicked into gear just before the break at the end of the first hour, with blinds at 50/100. I had a sketchy J8 but called a raise of 200 from UTG+1. The big blind called and there were three of us to a JT3 flop. Action checked to me in the cutoff seat and I bet 300 with both other players calling. 7 showed up on the turn, giving me top pair and a gut-shot straight draw. I put out another 300. The big blind called but UTG+1 gave up.

The 8 hit on the river. I had two pair but there was a potential flush on the board. I had 2,800 chips, covering the stack in the big blind by about 900. He went all-in and I called, and I was glad a 9 hadn’t showed because he had KQ for an open-end straight draw. That was all he had, though so my two pair cleaned him out.

Ten minutes later, after the break, I got the Mutant Jack: AJ. Blinds were at 75/150 and I raised to 300 from UTG+1, leaving 7,500 behind. The button, with about 6.150, re-raised to 1,050 and both the blinds folded, leaving me heads-up. I called. The flop was a somewhat worrying J99 and I checked. The button put out nearly half his stack as a bet and I raised him all-in, seeing it as an attempt to push me off. He called and showed TT, giving me a one-better two pair. The 7 on the turn was very unwelcome, whaat with 12.5K in the pot, but the river Q meant I was up to more than 14K, or 11.6% of the chips in play in the tournament. More on that later.

Another bluff attempt gave me my next bump in another ten minutes. I was dealt A7 in the small blind, at the 100/200 level. The only caller was UTG and when action got to me I raised to 400. The big blind folded, but UTG called and I was rewarded with a flop of 64J. I wanted to try to get as many chips out of this as I could and checked. So did UTG. The 3 showed on the turn, which gave straight possibilities to anyone playing some low hands. I tapped the gas with a bet of 400, which was called. The flop was a somewhat unwelcome 5, which made it possible that my ace-high flush could be beaten by someone holding 23 for a 6-high straight flush, but that’s pretty unlikely (although I saw a straight flush the other day). Since I had the 7 he couldn’t be straight flushing the other direction. I put out 1,000, figuring that he’d fold. Much to my surprise, he raised to 4,800. He either had the straight flush or a good fifth heart or a lot of bluff. I knew I had the best regular flush and took the chance he hadn’t bet out 400 on 23. I raised all-in (I probably should have just called, he had  me covered by several thousand) and he folded.

Eventually I was up to nearly 20K in chips with just under 1/6 of the chips in the tournament. I was the chip leader (and I’d been the chip leader for a period earlier, as well). I should have been satisfied. With seven tickets to the final, the average stack at the end of play would have about 17K. All I had to do was make safe bets to stay in the mid-teens—or in all likelihood, just fold—for the rest of the tournament. But what time was it?

It was hand 130, or close enough. On hand 120, I picked up KA. Great hand, much of the time but did I really need the chips? There were only seven at the table at 125/250/20. I was in the hijack seat and UTG+1 raised to 625. Me with my big, manly AK raised to 1,000. Everyone but the original raiser folded. A Q6A flops and he, impressed by my magnificence checks, as do I. An 8 turns up, he checks and I bet 1,000, which is called. A 2 shows on the river and he pretends to have a flush, betting 2,775. I call. Not only does he have a flush but at best I would have been splitting the pot because he’s got AK.

Bad, sure but recoverable. I still have nearly 15K in chips. I’m still in the top three in the tournament. Five minutes later we’re still in the same level. I’m holding KQ in UTG+1 and raise to 500. The hijack (with 6K in chips) and big blind (8K) both call. The flop falls 72K and I bet 500 when it’s my turn. Hijack raises to 2,000 and the big blind folds. The hijack only has 3,333 behind and I raise him all-in. Lucky him, because he’s holding KA. No queen shows up to save me and I’m down to 8.5K and in seventh place on the leaderboard, which means unless I can climb back up I’m probably out of the running for a finals ticket. That was hand 129.

Of course, my attempts to climb back up only submerge me further. The Mutant Jack fails me at one point to the tune of several thousands chips, dropping me below the starting stack. I manage to claw my way back into relevance with a QA and 96 (which I wouldn’t usually play except I was in the big blind.

My last big hand came down to me in the small blind with A7 and the big blind with AJ. The board was 54K K 8 and it was the jack that decided the outcome. After that it was just a couple more hands before I was out in tenth place with the smallest of the cash prizes.

As it was, we didn’t finish before the beginning of the Final. My elimination came tw0-and-a-half hours into the tournament and anyone who got a ticket to the final would have had to enter after that point. Nobody from our semi-final seems to have won either of the two packages awarded in the final.

The chart below shows my chip count throughout the 179 hands I played. The green line is the projection of my chips if I’d done nothing but fold after reaching the my peak, which would have been about 13,750 at hand 180. At the time I was eliminated—with just two more eliminations to go before the tournament was over—only three of the ten players had more than 14,000 chips.

Chip count chart for Irish Open Semi-Final 30 January 2011

Chip count chart for Irish Open Semi-Final 30 January 2011. Red line shows actual chips; green line shows projected chip stack based on folding only.

After W put me out with the A4 last week at the Catsino, I ran across this report from the Aussie Millions $250,000 buy-in event‘s final table:

[Sam] Trickett was responsible for much of the mayhem during this stretch, eliminating four of the six players who fell during the bustout bonanza. He took 3.2 million into heads-up play against the 1 million of David Benyamine and the 700,000 of Erik Seidel. It wasn’t long before he scored a fifth elimination at the final table. Trickett moved all in with the board showing AT8A and Benyamine made the call. Their cards:

Trickett: A4
Benyamine: A6

River: 4!

Cashing

Somehow I missed two whole days, but in the meantime I managed to cash for small amounts several times.

Things didn’t start off well, however, with a $3K guarantee Cake R&A game on Wednesday evening. My biggest pot ever was in a $5 re-buy (in which I did not re-buy) but generally I try to avoid both re-buying and playing in re-buy tournaments. I never managed to get my poker legs, re-bought twice, but even the add-on couldn’t save me.

I entered a $1K turbo tournament at the 75/150 level with 1,500 chips, gained a little ground, then managed to double up with KK. Then I almost lost it all and things were looking grim with less than 1,000 chips at 200/400/40 until I managed to arrest the tailspin and get up over 8K, then settle down to about 5K at 400/800/75. By the 600/1200/120 level I’d been whittled down to 2K when my AJ ran into AQ on my all-in and I went out in 21st place of 181, with 81% ROI.

A $1K turbo 6-max put me out on hand 23 when I called the all-in of a KJ with AK. Naturally, the jack paired on the turn.

A bounty tournament with a $1K guarantee was the last game on Cake in this series. The only bounty I saw was the one I generated, though. Blinds were 75/150 and UTG+1 had limped in. I raised to 550 from UTG+2 with AQ. Action folded back around to UTG+1, who went all-in for 3,875, more than my 2,617. I called and was just a little behind his 55. Two spades hit the board but the pair held up and I was out.

Late Thursday night I moved over to Full Tilt and played the $36K Rush Guarantee which was about 20 minutes in. It’s both re-buy and multi-entry but I didn’t do either and was felted after about half an hour when my KJ came one card short of drawing to a king-high straight to beat a pair of kings.

Last night it was back to Midnight Madness. It was a slow and steady climb without any real setbacks from the starting stack of 1,500. I think the one real mistake I made was my final hand, calling a larger all-in with JT which had served me well earlier in the tournament. With 15K and blinds at only 250/500/50, I could have given up the $1K bet I’d made, then made a deeper run than 560th and better ROI than 23%.

Despite not having had the best of luck playing simultaneous tables in the past, for most of Midnight Madness I was also participating in a $5K guarantee KO game, with a $0.50 bounty for each player. I don’t know if I was less inclined to take fliers of dodgy hands because I had two games going or if I was just playing well or lucky, but I hit the money here as well. This game was a bit less even than Midnight Madness. I did take in six bounties but at one point I lost more than 6K in the space of five hands with AK and AK (picking up 9,400 with AJ over AQ did sort of make up for that). I lost half a 23K stack with QT when my queen paired on the board but so did that of a player with AQ. I managed to get up to 36K by the time the blinds were 500/1,000/125, then lost a chunk when my AT paired the top card on a T58 flop but lost to pocket QQ. Nothing connected after that and it was AJ running into KA that put me out with four hearts on the board—62A Q 2—and a flush for the better hand. 226th place and my bounties was good for an ROI of 184%.

Tomorrow morning is the weekly Irish Open semi-final qualifier. Only about twenty people registered so far and at least three tickets to the monthly final, which is in the early afternoon and will have more than thirty folks chasing a single $7K prize package plus about $3,850 in cash for second through fourth place.

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.

Shangri-La

Ireland may just have to wait for a while. Another disappointing episode of “Darrel at the Quarter Finals” today, terminated with an ugly loss while I was holding AsKs and followed by action at the cash games trying to get an extra 50¢ for another buy-in that just didn’t go right (aces up busted by a pocket pair of tens that tripped up).

We’ll see how the home league quarterly game goes this weekend; maybe it’ll be time for another try after that.