Assume the Position

You might think that because I haven’t posted anything for nearly two months that things hadn’t been going very well. For part of the time, that might have been true–although that wasn’t a poker-related “not going well”.

The home game tournament series I play in has been on hiatus since before the WSOP, with the only event being a six-handed deepstack mixed Omaha tournament I put together (PLO, PLO8, Big O, and Courcheval, changing each level, a lot of fun). I won that.

Followed up the Carbon Poker blow-off with a deep run in a $1K 6-Max online game, then a 2nd and a 1st, for 1300% and 1800% profit, respectively. I made a small cash in a 1,000+ player field, then hit 3rd in a $1K. Because of other life things, I wasn’t playing live much (or getting much done on my WSOP database), though, which is where my bigger wins have come. Then I was in the top 4 chop of a $10K at Aces Players Club, for 1,400% profit, and took 2nd two weeks later in a 5-way chop of the same tournament for 1,200%.

Sunday, I got home from work and jumped right into the opening hands of Poker Maximus VI Event #8, a $70K guarantee. More on that below.

Had to miss the $50K reopening tournament for The Final Table in their new location. Stupid job.

But it’s back down to Las Vegas tomorrow morning for the Caesars Palace Kick-Off Classic Seniors Tournament, unless it’s got just a few people signed up by the 10am start, in which case I’ll save my energy for the noon $15K guarantee. There are a couple Maximus events in the evening if I bust one or both of the Caesars games, then there’s another $15K on Thursday.

Anyway, I was reasonably pleased with my performance in my first Maximus event, the first online tournament I’ve played for $100+ stakes since before Black Friday. I did something I’ve tried in tournaments before, using the field size and position stats to track my progress throughout the game. Sadly, they’re not part of the hand history data stream, so PokerTracker doesn’t store them, but they make an interesting accompaniment to the hand history.

Carbon Poker Poker Maximus #8 $70K NLHE

The top graph shows the number of players in the tournament (green) and my position in the tournament (blue). The red line shows the bottom of the cashing field, based on the final number of payouts (which wasn’t finalized until the end of the re-entry period).

The second graph is very similar, but shows my position in relative, rather than absolute, terms.

I entered about 15 minutes into the game, just after the beginning of the second level. My participation was 200 hands, I’m not going cover every one this time.

Hand 4 JJ CO T4,925 15/30
As you can see, there’s a huge drop from a mid-range field position very early on. UTG min-raises and action folds to me. I re-raise to 200, BB flats, and UTG re-raises to 460. I call and BB follows along. Almost 1,400 in the pot and the flop is 753. BB checks, UTG bets 697, and both BB and I call (not in that order, naturally). Pot is 3,500. The turn is A, BB checks, UTG bets half pot, and I realize that I’m beat and fold with T3,800 left. BB shoves and gets called by AA for a real cooler, since he had 77 and top set on the flop. He’s busted with the T on the river. My chip stack is still 126BB, but I drop to 293/322 on the leader board since most of the other players haven’t lost 25% of their chips yet.

Hand 7 QT UTG2 T3,768 25/50
I open for 150 and HJ flats along with BB. The flop is AAA, BB checks and I c-bet 200. HJ just calls; BB folds. 5 turn, check-check. 7 on the river and I make another stab for 418, HJ calls and shows 88. With 3,000 left, I drop to 315/327.

Hand 13 QQ CO T2,863 25/50
This is the hand where the poker gods smiled on me. UTG, the winner of Hand 4, opens to 125. HJ calls and I re-raise to 475. UTG four-bets to 950. HJ folds and I get stubborn, going all-in. Naturally, exactly one round after having aces against my jacks when I’m in CO, he has AA and calls, with 6,309 behind. The board runs out 798T to the turn, which gives me as good a chance as I can have on the river, then Q spikes and I double up to over 5,900, which puts me in the top quartile of the leader board.

Hand 19 JJ BB T5,926 50/100
Jacks again. Maybe they won’t lose this time. What am I saying? Of course they will. The CO min-raises to 200 from 62BB and I just call. 22T on the flop. I bet 300 that gets called. A turn and I try with a 400 bet, but get raised to 1,200 and call hoping for a flush. 8 river, I check-fold to a bet of 2,250. Back down to the bottom quarter, but the amount of differentiation means that’s not all that bad.

Hand 27 KA UTG T4,176 50/100
Someone else’s turn to lose with jacks. I raise to 300. UTG3 re-raises to 800 and it folds to me. I shove 42BB, UTG3 calls with JJ, and I get two pair by the turn, doubling up and leaving UTG3 with 7.5BB. The win puts me in the top 20% of the (then) 380-player field for a brief time.

Hand 37 A5 BB T8,202 60/120
The guy who lost to my AK opens to 300 from UTG2 and I defend. He bets 280 on the TQ3 board, and I call, as he has less than 1,000 behind. 9 on the turn, and I put him all-in. He calls with AK and doubles up, but I’m still in pretty good shape.

Hand 44 TK UTG1 T6,704 75/150
I open to 450 and get flatted by UTG2 and SB. The flop looks fantastic: K9K. SB checks, I bet 800, and get called by SB. 8 on the turn and SB checks again. I bet 1,600 and he calls. 7 river, and he checks. I’m beat by a few hands, now, including JxTx or even 5x6x, but I check and I was behind from the beginning as he held the second nut trip hand: KQ. Drop back down below starting stack and into the bottom 20%. Still 26BB.

Hand 45 99 UTG T3,854 75/150
Open to 450. Action folds to SB who shoves 1,642. I call and the board runs out 65[6hjh]J, the short stack has a decent-but-not-good enough QK and his chips take me back up over starting stack.

Hand 48 AQ BTN T5,421 75/150
UTG2 opens to 525 and I raise to 1,200. He folds.

Hand 51 A6 UTG3 T6,151 100/200/20
I open for 600. Everyone folds.

Hand 54 AJ UTG T5,971 100/200/20
I open to 600. Everyone folds.

Hand 56 55 SB T6,811 100/200/20
HJ min-raises and both blinds defend. The 85K flop makes my set, I check, BB checks, and HJ stabs at it with a bet of 690. I raise him to 2,000 and they both fold.

Hand 59 TT HJ T8,421 100/200/20
UTG min-raises and I call, sort of wanting to make sure there isn’t too many over cards on the flop with tens. SB jams of almost 3,350. That gets rid of BB and UTG, and I take it head-on against 99. I’m liking the TQQ flop, bust the same guy for the second time, and add 17BB to my stack, which puts me back near the top 10%.

Hand 78 QK UTG2 T11,095 150/300/30
I raise to 900 and everyone folds.

Hand 85 AK CO T12,145 150/300/30
Open to 900 and the blinds fold.

Hand 101 5T SB T10,858 200/400/40
Everyone folds and I call the BB. He checks and we see the 5J4 flop. That’s pretty good for me. I bet 700 and he calls. The turn is 9. I check and let him bet 1,280, nearly a quarter of his stack, into my flush. I raise him all-in—I have him covered by 3,000—and he calls with 32. I can’t figure it out but I win a pot of 16,500.

Hand 102 JA BTN T19,643 250/500/50
Just antes and a big blind in the pot before action. UTG1 min-raises, I flat, and we’re HU. Flop’s 257 and we both check. K on turn, UTG1 bets 1,250 and I let it go.

Hand 115 AA UTG2 T17,243 250/500/50
I make my standard 3x raise from middle position. Nobody wants to play.

Hand 118 AQ BB T18,243 250/500/50
UTG1 min-raises with a stack slightly larger than mine. Action’s back to me and I 3-bet to 3,000. He calls and the flop’s KQJ. I jam on him, thinking he would have more than min-raised with AxKx. He folds and shows AJ (the Mutant Jack loses again!) snarkily asking if that’s the only move I have. As if I’ve been all-in in this tourney on a regular basis. I’m up in the top 20% of the field again, but it’s going to be for the last time. All (or mostly) downhill from here.

Hand 120 KA UTG T21,493 250/500/50
Raise to 1,500 and everyone folds. Easy game, no?

Hand 127 KA UTG2 T21,373 300/600/60
I’m officially a cardrack. I open to 1,800 and everyone folds.

Hand 129 8A UTG T22,333 300/600/60
Open for 1,800 and everyone folds.

Hand 133 KQ CO T22,573 300/600/60
HJ bets 1,800 and I call. We see the AJ2 flop HU, he bets 2,120 and I fold despite the tempting (to me, at least) Broadway draw.

Hand 136 JA UTG2 T20,593 300/600/60
Open to 1,800 and everyone folds.

Hand 150 JA HJ T20,053 400/800/80
I’m 55th of 166 players at this point. Not trying to do anything fancy, we’ve still got more than 50 players to go before the bubble. UTG3 raises to 1,800 and I flat. We see the flop HU, it’s 669. He bets at it and I fold. The loss drops me down to 68th position.

Hand 151 99 UTG3 T18,373 400/800/80
I continue my 3x raises with a bet of 2,400 and get called by BTN. The flop is K46 and I bet 3,000 at it only to get shoved on by a stack covering me. I fold and drop out of the cashing field, to 109th.

Hand 159 AJ CO T11,213 400/800/80
Time for the Mutant Jack to do it’s thing. I open-shove with 14BB and get called by a stack of 59BB with KJ in SB. The board runs out an unnecessary flush for me and I double back to 49th and the middle of the cash field, with 156 to go.

Hand 179 77 BB T18,846 500/1,000/100
As other players have chipped up and I’ve lost 20 hands of blinds and antes, my position in the field has dropped to 76th. We’re still almost 40 spots from the money bubble. Normally, I don;t like playing a pair as low as sevens on an almost full table, but I am BB. Action folded to one of the very short stacks at the table, CO with just 7BB. He shoves for 6,440. BTN and SB fold (they both have decent-sized stacks). I stand to lose a third of my stack if I lose, but I figure he’s in desperation mode and I might have the better hand by a margin. He has QJ, he doesn’t pair (an ace hits on the flop, so I’m glad he didn’t hit that), and I get a little bump.

Hand 183 QK HJ T25,606 600/1,200/120
I open for 3,600, with the two larger stacks at the table having folded already. CO shoves for 17,100, gets an all-in call from BTN, and another all-in from BB. BB’s the smallest stack, with just 4BB before paying for the hand. SB was the most worrisome, since he had a stack just smaller than mine, but he folded. BTN has 9BB, and CO has 14BB, two-thirds my own stack. The pot has more than 36,000 in it, I’m getting 2.7:1 on my money, but if I lose (With KQ? Nah.), I’ll be down to 4BB with 31 places to go before the money. I fold, and as you might expect, everyone beats me. CO has AJ, BTN has KK, and BB has A6. The ace on the flop gives the whole thing to CO, but four spades roll out by the river and my king was the only spade of the four hands. A win would have put me at nearly 58,000.

Hand 186 QK UTG1 T21,646 600/1,200/120
I open to 3,600. SB calls. The flop is 8KJ, SB checks, I bet 6,000, and he piles on 25,000, putting me at risk. I’m obviously not going to make the same mistake as in the previous KQ hand, so I call. He has QK and we chop the pot.

Hand 187 JA UTG T22,666 600/1,200/120
Open to 3,600. UTG2 shoves for 11,200. CO is all-in with just 4,300. I call with 11,450 behind. It’s me v 77 and KK; behind everyone, as usual. Both pairs hold up (with the kings getting a set on the flop) and I end up behind both of the other players in the hand, dropping down to 101st place, outside the cashing field with just 15 players before the money.

Hand 199 A6 HJ T6,410 750/1,500/150
The cards have not been kind. Nor have the blinds. I have, however, managed to outlast enough bust-outs over the past dozen hands that I’ve reached the money with 4BB. Action folds to me, and I shove, getting called by BB, who started the hand with 34BB. He has 89, the flop is QQA, and I win the hand.

Hand 200 QK UTG3 T14,770 750/1,500/150
UTG1 opens to 4,000 from a 25BB stack, and I shove 10BB. SB (who I’d doubled through in the previous hand) shoves 29BB, and UTG1 gets out of the way. I’m racing against 88 and I lose, going out with a min-cash.

VPIP for this tournament: 17.2%. I won 48% of the hands where I saw the flop, went to showdown with 61% of the hands where I saw the flop, and won 64% of the hands when I went to showdown.

Four hours. 200 hands. 92nd of 710 entries. +82.6% profit.

Back In the Frying Pan

I’ve been kind of busy lately and haven’t been playing quite as frequently over the past couple of months, but it’s the beginning of the WSOP again and while I don’t have a two-week trip of shame planned this year, I will be in Las Vegas on Wednesday this week, for a quick overnight trip to play (hopefully) an event at the Venetian (as opposed to an event at the Venetian and then three or four other bust-outs before I head home Thursday night).

I’ve played 90 tournaments this year with four or more tables, and my ITM in those games is 18%. I hadn’t had a big win for a while, but back in mid-March, I cashed well in the Aces Players Club $25K, then I was in a multi-way chop for the one of the Spirit Mountain Top of the Mountain Events in May. Despite the fact that they were exactly two months apart, I only played two other $100+ buy-in events between them because of schedule issues (like I said, I’ve been busy). The field sizes were 92 at Aces and 83 at Spirit Mountain; I feel like making the final table for two of four in that period wasn’t bad (although I’ve played three since Spirit Mountain without a cash).

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Vegas is already over 100 degrees, it’s not supposed to get below 80 Wednesday night. I’ll be staying at The Quad for the first time since the renovation as will my poker guru.

I’m flying in at 9am and I’ll hustle over to The Venetian, most likely to play in a Limit Omaha Hi tournament. Opinions on that from fellow players here in Portland are decidedly mixed, with a few people shuddering at the thought of limits and no lows and others expressing some interest to hear how it goes. I went on the Pokerstars mobile app this evening and ran 500 play betting units up to over 2,500 in short order by continually getting the nuts. I think that will be my strategy for the tournament.

That’s a two-day tournament, so hopefully it will be the only one I’m playing on this trip. There should be around 120 players, if the other similarly-priced Limit Omaha8 and Stud8 events can be counted on as a guide. Depending on if and when I bust out of that game, I’ve got a list of other games at venues around town to choose from, though the big ones are the WSOP Deepstack $235 at 3pm (today’s game had 1,235 players with $45,800 up top; according to a shot of the tournament clock, by level 7 the average stack is 30BB with 60% of the field left). The Venetian has a Survivor tournament at 4pm with a great ROI if you make the money because the entire top 10% of the field chops for a profit of more than 700%. After 6 are choices of the smaller WSOP Deepstacks at 6pm and 10pm and the last Venetian game at 7pm.

If I’m not playing the second day of the Venetian tournament on Thursday, most likely my only option will be the $70 daily event at Caesars at 9am. I don’t think anything else can be counted to be over in time to get to my 10pm flight.

Gonna touch the live wire again and see if I have a better experience than last time. See you inside where it’s air conditioned.

Grasping For the Ring

2011 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza IV Main Event (15,000 chips)

First off, if I’d had my druthers, I wouldn’t have plowed the money from my first-place finish at the Encore Club on Saturday into a single event. I’d been keeping track of tournament series throughout the summer with the plan to get somewhere where I could play five or more tournaments—probably in the $300-$500 range—over a period of days. Events in Reno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles—stuff I could get to cheaply and easily—I had them all plotted into my calendar at one point or another through September and October (a good share of my winnings from the Encore’s Tournament of Champions went into tournaments at Foxwoods when I was there in August). Big Poker Oktober at the Bike, the Pot of Gold at the Grand Sierra, Pendleton’s Fall Poker Round-Up, the Commerce Casino’s LA Poker Open—they were done as last weekend approached. The last flight of the WSOP Circuit Main Event at Lake Tahoe started at the same time the Encore’s $10K Guarantee began, so I wasn’t making that. With the cancellation of the Ho, Ho, Hold’em series at the Bike , by the time I won the event at 4am Sunday, I was down to just a couple of opportunities: I could pay an exorbitant amount of money to get a last-minute flight down to Vegas and try my hand at the Venetian’s DSE Main Event for $2,500, or I could wait until the 28th (after our family’s holiday dinner) and try my hand at the Bellagio’s Five Diamond World Poker Classic, where I still didn’t get that many buy-ins for my money (at $500 and $1,000 each) and where if I did manage to win enough for Prague, I’d be really scrambling to get the arrangements together before I’d need to leave on December 4th. The best-laid plans, etc.

So less than four hours after I walk out of the Encore with my winnings, I’m loading my computer bag with a change of clothes and other stuff through the TSA x-ray machine on my way to Vegas. I haven’t slept for over 24 hours. At the gate, I get called up and asked to take one of the exit row seats so they can put some family members together and I think that’ll be great because I’ll be able to stretch my legs out a little bit. I can, but I still only get manage about 15 minutes of nap time on the plane. Usually I can fall asleep before we take off.

I make it to the Venetian almost exactly at noon, get signed up for my Grazie card and then count out my $100s for the tournament entry, plus a $10 dealer bonus of 5,000 chips. Goodbye $2,510!

Table 78 is far outside the poker room, on the edge of the sports betting area. It’s Sunday afternoon in football season and the crowd noise is pretty overwhelming. I’m okay, but it seems to be bothering several of the players, including the woman seated to my immediate right (who I believe was Brazilian player Alessandra Dos Santos). It does make hearing verbalizations difficult for both players and dealers, and with some of each speaking with accents, there were several instances where dealers misheard bet and raise amounts and had to be corrected by neighbors of the acting player.

My stack went up and down at 78. A couple of times I was knocked down as far as 15,000, but I managed to battle back up over the total starting stack of 20,000. Play didn’t seem that different from card rooms back in Portland. The players certainly acted the same. I haven’t been able to place the name of a player across the table who I sort of recognized, but his frustrated manner of tossing his cards was quite familiar.

My stack was down a bit after the first break (at two hours) when I was moved to a table in the 50s, further away from the sports bet. The first thing I noticed was that there were a couple of large stacks on the other end of  the table. Chips at 78 had been fairly-evenly distributed  and there hadn’t been any bust-outs in the time I was there, although the board showed a number of them that must have been spread across about 30 tables in the tournament. The second thing was that the guy directly opposite my spot at the table was wearing a Nike Portland State t-shirt. And then there was a guy between us sitting on a short stack who bore an amazing resemblance to Phil Laak.

Play at this table was harder than at 78, mostly due to the influence of the large stacks. For every chip I won, I blew off two or three. One of the players—Thong Tran (who started the final table today number 6 in chips)—managed to put the screws to me at just the right times when I was a little over-extended. Meanwhile, I chatted with the guy in the PSU shirt—who said he currently lived in Vegas—about Portland. The Laak-alike—who said his name was Bob—said he’d never been to Oregon. I don’t know, he looked like Laak, he acted like Laak, but Vegas is a town full of impersonators and I know Laak’s been to Oregon. I was tempted to tell him about the high desert of the eastern part of the state, the skiiing in the mountains, the scenic north coast, and the amazing sand dunes on the central coast, but somehow conversation between us and the dealer turned to “It’s a Wonderful Life” (which the PSU guy had never seen) and “Bob”, the dealer, and I discussed whether Mr. Potter was just a misunderstood member of the 1% and excavated favorite lines. “Bob” got a laugh out of my ability to come up with “No more we live like pigs!”, Martini’s line as George is moving him and his family to their new home.

Then, on a hand when I picked up AxQx and raised, “Bob” went all-in. Action folded to me, I called hoping for jacks or lower but I was heads-up against AxKx, which cost me half my stack and put me under 10,000 for the first time. With the blind levels at 150/300/25, I was under 30 big blinds and going down fast. It was a great gig while it lasted.

Instead of staying through Wednesday (when my return flight home was scheduled) and playing the daily tournaments, I rebooked to come back early Monday, dumped the second and third nights of my booking at the Imperial Palace ($20/night in combination with my flight through Alaska Airlines) and upgraded to first class after sitting on hard-ass poker chairs for so long. I couldn’t have won enough to make it to Prague, and that was the point of the trip.

I looked up the names of the 57 players who made it through to Day 2 (22% of the field, and less than half of them would make the money) and spotted Gavin Smith in third place, 2011 WSOP Main Event fifth-place finisher (and DV’s nemesis) Phil Collins, and Lauren Kling, among others. Probably plenty of other names to recognize among the other couple hundred who got booted in the first day. Only a couple of the names I looked up didn’t have entries in the Hendon Mob Poker Database.

Five hours. -100% ROI. 180th of 265 players.

Poker Mutant Goes to Vegas

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

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

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

Only 15 winning days before EPT Prague.