They Play H.O.R.S.E, Don’t They?

Carbon Poker $200 Guarantee H.O.R.S.E Freeroll

I’ve been playing the four daily Carbon Poker freerolls whenever I can, and one of the tournaments that fits into my schedule better than others is their H.O.R.S.E. game. which is great, because I have been getting increasingly interested in other forms of poker.

The games are relatively hard to beat, because while they tend to get 2,500 to 3,000 entrants, they only pay a couple dozen spots, so you really have to battle and get lucky to get even a small piece of the $200 guarantee. I started off placing in the mid-range, but in my most recent outing, I got up to the top 10%, where I’d be getting paid if it wasn’t a freeroll.

These particular tournaments cycle through Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, 7-Card Stud, and 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo, with the game changing every six hands. Everything’s played as Limit, which makes committing to draws a bit easier, and there are eight players to the table.

I sat out a few hands of Hold’em at the opening level of 20/40, then woke up with AA in SB. Two limpers; I raised, BB and the limpers called. The flop gave me the nut full house: A66 with only pocket 66 beating me, and I opened, BB called, UTG1 called, CO raised, I reraised, BB and UTG1 dropped out, CO made the final raise to 80, and I called. The 9 turn opened a very small possibility for another hand that could beat me (and the pocket sixes), a backdoor straight flush, but it seemed unlikely something like 78 or 8T would have stayed through the previous betting. This time we ran it up to 120. Ditto for betting after a 4 on the river. As it turns out, with K6 he didn’t have better than a set, and he only had a 4% chance to beat me. Another 120 went into the pot after the river’s 4 sealed the win for me, and I took in 840 chips.

I went out on a limb during the first round of Omaha Hi-Lo with 9635, hoping that if Ax2x showed up I might snag the low, but I dropped 210 in a four-way race to the river.

A couple hands later, though, an inauspicious Q48K did me some good. Pre-flop action raised the bet to 60 and five players saw the flop of JK2. BB checked to me and I bet 30, with one fold and 0ne call after me, a raise from CO, calls fromBB and me, and a call from HJ. The turn was 3 and it got checked around to CO who bet, but everyone called. The river T ruled out a low hand, which wasn’t my intention anyway, although I only had king high. Checks went around to CO again, who bet 60. BB folded but me and HJ stayed on. CO had a busted low hand with JK23T; HJ had a pair of kings like me, but with kicker problems and believe it or not, a single pair took the entire pot of nearly 1,000 chips in an Omaha game.

My next hand was [k5]2QK and I made it through betting rounds of 90, 90, and 60 to the river with nothing better than a pair of threes on the board and a five paired from my hand for the high, but because I held on, I caught the low hand and 382 chips.

The second hand of Razz won me 120 chips on the first round of betting. There was only one call after the bring-in and both other players folded after my completion with 937.

I won an actual hand the next hand. Antes were 5, bring-in was 15, Completion/Small Limit was 50, and Large Limit was 100. I was third to act, with T48, and called the bring-in after UTG1. Four of us made it to fourth street. Bring-In (BI) was showing K7, UTG1 showed 52, I added A, and UTG4 showed K3. UTG1 led off with a bet of 50 and only BI folded. On fifth street, UTG1 showed 52T, I had T48A5, and UTG4 was showing K39. I was first to act, betting 100, with a call from UTG4 and a fold from UTG1. A J for me and 3 for UTG4 slowed us both down on sixth street—my “low” went to ten—but with 6 down on seventh, I bet 100 and got called but UTG4 wasn’t even close, with two pairs in his hand and his best low a king-high.

I sat out the las two hands of the Razz round, getting high cards both times, then we were into 7-Card Stud. The first was a throw-away, but I had pocket 44 with 6 showing at 10/25/100/200. Only UTG (Q showing) and I called BI (2 showing). Fourth street gave both BI and UTG aces (A and A, respectively) but I picked up 4. One of the folded players had A showing. UTG bet, I raised, BI folded, and we went to the max for 400 chips. I’d started the hand with 2,350 chips but UTG had only 630 to begin with, and after fifth street he was all-in. My hand ran out 4464385, missing the straight and full house possibilities (as well as the four-of-a-kind). UTG had a respectable 7QQQJ6A two pair by seventh street, but he fell and I took him out.

The next hand went almost as well. A77 with me as UTG and just three of us to fourth street, with my disguised pair against a showing 4 and J. BI got K and UTG1 got Q, but I picked up 7 for a set and opened with a 100 bet. UTG1 called but BI dropped. Fifth street only gave me T and UTG1 6, when I bet 200 he folded.

I started the next hand with 3,284 chips, which must have made my head fuzzy, because I got all the way to seventh street with 79KJA28. No pair, no straight draw after sixth street, no flush after fifth, just calls of two 200 chip bets. I only lost 435 (including ante) but what was I thinking?

By the next hand, things were clear again. My cards as UTG2 were a draw-heavy 675. There were three nines and four diamonds showing among the eight players, with only one higher than a ten. Five saw fourth street (BI with 3, UTG with 4, UTG1 with T, me with 7, and CO with Q). Action folded to me and naturally, I bet 100 on my two pair. Everyone folded, except for UTG1. 6 hit me on fifth street; UTG1 got 8. I had most of the cards he needed for a straight between the 5 and 8; three of the 9xs he needed above the 8 were showing on the board; he needed runner-runner for a flush. I bet 200 and he just called. Seventh street made me a full house: 7. Meanwhile, UTG1 got another 8. He led the betting, I raised to 400, and he didn’t re-raise. The only card that could have improved my hand was the 7 but I got 3 instead. UTG checked, I bet 200 and got a call. His hand was 8AT5882, and he’d been behind at every street, although he’d done as much as he could to keep the losses to a minimum. I was fortunate he hadn’t hit Ax, Tx, or 5x on seventh street. The pot was 2005 chips.

I was on a roll with Stud. On the next hand, two of us went to showdown without any bets after fourth street. My hand was 9J9T6K8 for just a pair of nines, but the other guy went all the way with 52537KA, or a pair of fives.

Not to say that I couldn’t lose. My chip balance was up to 4,250 and I went to showdown with a player starting with just 570. He was half-in after fourth street, with 89 showing. There wasn’t any more betting until after seventh street. My hand had run out with 7KT5AT8. He was showing 8996 and I though I might be able to get away with another pair-over-pair win. He called, though, because his seventh street card improved his hand and gave him A389963. It was about here that one of the players started complaining that the site was giving me cards I couldn’t expect in live play.

So I was rather glad a couple hands later to pick up 88T. The bigmouth was BI with 3 showing and completed for 150. UTG1 (with my 8) and I called. BI got K and checked. UTG1 got 9 and checked. I made a set with 8 and bet 150. Both of the other players came along. Fifth street made things tricky. While bigmouth BI got 2, UTG1 got a showing pair with 9. I got A. Potentially, there was a bigger set out there, but I bet 300 and got calls from both players. Sixth street complicated things even more, with K for BI, and just 4 and 4 for UTG1 and me. I was last to act after two checks and just let it lie. Seventh street’s Q didn’t improve me and surprisingly, everyone checked again. When the cards came out, BI had AT3K2K7 for not much from the beginning, UTG1 had just missed flush and straight draws with QT89946, and my set of eights won a pot of 1,920. The next hand was 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo.

I won the second hand with a bet on fifth street, with a strong 2KA6A. I had almost 5,000 chips and nobody else at the table had more than 1,500.

The Hold’em round didn’t do me much good, and I folded the few hands I did play for the most part, dropping to 3,450. Meanwhile, another player with a stack the same size had been moved to the table, another had climbed up to 3,500, and a big stack with more than 9,000 was sat immediately behind me in the action. Then I picked up K9 as SB. One of the other similarly-sized stacksin CO limped in for 200, I raised to 400, and only CO called. The 689 flop gave me a troublesome top pair, but I bet 200 and CO called. Same thing only for 400 chips after the J turn card. The river K gave me two pair and I bet another 400, getting a call and seeing I was up against 8J. The pot was 3,000 chips. This sent the bigmouth into a paroxysm, claiming I’d sucked out. When I pointed out that I had top pair on the flop, one of the other dumbos chimed in to claim I hadn’t. Apparently, some people just aren’t paying attention.

I folded the rest of my Hold’em hands and we were back to Omaha Hi-Lo. On the first hand, I went too far down the road to revenge, trying to knock out the bigmouth (who had only 612 chips v. my 5,100) only to double him up. I had JAA9, which seemed as if it might be promising, but the board ran out J7KJ8, giving his 349Q the best hand by the turn when he was all-in. Other contributions to the pot actually nearly quadded the little sucker.

The next hand got rid of him, though. It was a complicated five-way hand with four players all-in. Short stack in SB was in for just the ante of 25. UTG called the 250 BB, I called from UTG1 with 8JK7, bigmouth in BTN called, BB raised to 500, and everyone who could called. The flop was 58J, giving me top two pair. BB bet 250, UTG called, I raised, BTN called, BB and UTG called. 6 on the turn gave me an open-ended straight draw. This time, BB bet first for 500. UTG and I called, BTN raised, BB re-raised all-in for a total of 1,096. UTG called the re-raise, then I added another 500. BTN stuck in his last 149 chips and UTG called. 8 on the river gave me the second nut full house. UTG checked to me with just 379 chips left, and I bet 500, which he called. There were four pots to settle. The first was split between me and UTG. My full house won the high pot, he had the nut low with 42A5 and we each took 826. There was a very small side pot including the bigmouth who had 63AJ and had just blown the couple thousand chips he’d won on two pair and an iffy low. UTG and I split about 80 chips each from there. The first side pot had nearly 8,000 chips in it and included BB, who had a great low hand with good pre-flop possibilities: 25A3. BB and UTG quartered the low pot of 1,981 each and I took 3,982. We did the same with the 800 chip primary pot. All that work for a couple thousand chips profit, most of which went to the big stack when I folded my next hand.

A little ground was made up on the next hand. I was BB and there were four callers who saw the flop of 96J. Everyone checked through to the 4 turn and everyone checked again. T on the river gave me the nuts with a king-high straight, and I opened with a bet of 500, which was only called by one player, who showed a set of tens at showdown. He had me outchipped, so it didn’t cost him that much.

He got it back in spades on the next hand. Or, rather, he got it back in a six-high straight. I ventured out with 95A3: a decent if not perfect low hand. but the board ran A532K, counterfeiting all of my low cards. My three pair was no match for 467T, which scooped more than 6,200 chips and knocked out two players.

An all-in call of 479 pre-flop was as far as I went with the next hand, which I folded after a bet on the river. I was down to 3,269 by the end of the Razz round before I managed to pick up another pot. I was dealt AJ2, ante was 30, bring-in was 75, and limits were 300/600. Two players ahead of me called the bring-in (S1), then I completed the bet to 300. I got one caller (S8: 5), BI dropped out and the two limpers (S3: J and S5: J) called. The limpers got 5 and 5 on fourth street, I got 4, and S8 picked up 3. With the lowest hand, I opened for 300 and only S5 folded. On fifth street, S3 got 7, I picked up a pair with A, and S8 was hit with K. I figured nobody needed to know I was still short of a good low, so I bet 600. S8 folded and S2 called. Sixth street improved things a bit, putting a 9 out for S3 and 6 for me, but I checked. I was still jack-high. Our down seventh street didn’t help me any, with another pair (even if it was a low pair): 2. Fortunately, when I bet another 600, S3 folded and I took a 4,215 chip pot.

Seven hands went by in 7-Card Stud before I went any further than fourth street. I was heads-up on sixth at 40/100/400/800 with 54AK9K against J76T showing when my opening bet of 800 and visible pair of kings induced a fold.

I lost a massive pot just a couple hands later in 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo. I ran down to the river calling bets at 40/125/500/1,000 with 5QQ4756 and no better than pair until sixth street, when I was up against a visible 27KJ. I had three outs on seventh street (one of the fives was showing for S8) that could beat the likely flush, which is what S5 had. Lost 4,040 chips on that one.

Tried to make by own flush on the next hand. It ran out JA829KA and my pair of aces chopped the pot with the only other player for the low. No gain there.

Finally, the next hand, I managed to pull out of the dive. By fifth street, I was heads-up with a pair and a straight flush draw: 987T9. My opponent looked like he was headed low and straight with 245 showing. He had me outchipped and was just calling my bets; after fifth street, I had only 412 behind. When I picked up a straight with J on sixth street, I was all-in and he called, even though he only had a 5. When his cards flipped, he was showing Q32455. He needed the flush to win, but seventh street gave him T. I improved with 5 to a flush. The pot was over 7,600 chips.

Back into Hold’em at 600/1,200/60 and I had A8. I started the hand fifth in chips as UTG2 and was the first to call BB. SB raised, BB folded, and SB and I went up to the limit of 2,400, with him only having another 1,100 behind. The flop came out 837, we went to the limit with SB all-in, and he flipped over AA. J on the turn sealed my loss.

A couple of hands later with 4J as BB, I managed to outbid the only caller with a post-flop bet on a 777 board, but I was down to about 1,000 chips. Lost some chips with a weak king on the next hand, but right after that picked up another bad K8 as BTN. I was all-in for 1,617 (and my 60 ante) pre-flop with two other players fighting over a side pot as well. The board rolled out 76A3K. BB had just 97 and lost both pots to the 99 of UTG2. I tripled up with a pot of 5,631 because of the river king.

Omaha Hi-Lo at 80/800/1,600. UTG and AAT8. Three limpers and BB saw the Q77 flop. I lead out with a bet, only BB followed. Turn: J. River 2. We both checked it through and my aces were good against KK35. I’d made a bit of a comeback, up over 8,000.

I had straight and flush draw possibilities on BB with 85TJ. Four players limped in and we got a flop of 6QA. I lead into my flush and Broadway draws with a bet of 800. Nobody raised and only one player folded. The turn of 2 wasn’t helpful to my cause, as I didn’t have anything decent for a low, and I had to call a bet of 1,600 to see the river. The 5 river busted me and I folded. The winner paired queens and sixes and scooped the low hand, the loser paired queens and twos.

My last hand was 26J4 and I was all-in after the turn on wing and a prayer on the 3246K board. It was the wrong color red for me, though, with flushes winning high hands in four pots where everyone but me took something out.

3.5 hours, 103 hands. Freeroll. Finished 178th of 2717 entries.

Gold Card

Cake Poker 2d Gold Card $500 Guarantee 6-Max Freeroll (2,000 chips)

I’ve had this Gold Card player bonus for ages but never seemed to find one of the tournaments where I could use the thing. Then, the other day, I got an email notification and voila! there I was.

The event was an unlimited re-buy format, with an add-on. I had exactly one Gold Card, I wasn’t in a position to do either, so I didn’t exactly have high expectations. Then again, my opening had was UTG1 with QA and I re-raised UTG’s raise of 40 to 80 (starting blinds were 10/20). SB and UTG called, the J2T flop gave me a Broadway draw and not much else. UTG bet the pot for 260 and I called, with SB following along. K made my straight on the turn and I bet the pot—now 1,040 chips—after action was checked to me. Both of the others folded, and I was up 700 chips for the second hand.

I won another few hundred chips over the next hands, then got AQ again as UTG. I raised to 80, got a re-raise to 140 from CO, three-bet to 400 after everyone else cleared out, then got called. The flop was 526 and I bet another 400 to open, getting a call. 9 on the river was not the card I wanted to see, I checked, CO went in for 815 with just 385 behind, and I had to fold, leaving me with just a tad more than the starting stack.

I slid all the way down to 1,705 over the next hands. Then, for some reason, I called a UTG raise to 60 (at 15/30) in BTN with just 8Q. Both blinds got out of the way and we were heads-up. I made middle pair on the 5A8 flop but it didn’t look promising. UTG bet just 30 (with a stack of 5,300), though so I decided to give the impression of strength by raising to 255. He called. So much for the impression.

Then again, the Q on the turn actually gave me a decent hand. UTG checked, I put out 675—about half my stack—and he called. The last card was K, putting an end to any flushes but making possible any number of better hands from standard starting ranges. I pushed after the check with my two pair, nonetheless and, UTG folded. It wasn’t a double-up but it made a big difference.

I got out of danger territory five hands later with JK as SB. I’d lost about 400 chips in the intervening hands, blinds were 25/50. UTG1 (the player I’d just taken 1,000 chips off of) called. CO called. I raised to 175, pushing out BB. UTG1 and CO called. The flop hit me hard: TAQ. I had the best straight, but I checked the flop and everyone else was cautious, as well. 2 on the turn put a backdoor flush out of my reach (which turned out to be a good thing) but opened the possibility of two flush draws making it. I opened with a bet of 288, got called by UTG1, and forced CO to fold. I wasn’t particularly happy about the 2 on the river pairing the board, but I pushed all-in with 1,827. That was more than half the stack of UTG1, but he called and showed A7. My straight was good.

Another great opportunity hit five hands after that. I was BB with 44. UTG1 raised to 100. BTN and I called. The flop was 44K. I checked it, UTG1 checked it, BTN put out a tentative bet of 50. I bet half the port for 263, UTG1 called, and BTN went away. 5 on the turn and I still had four of a kind. I checked and let UTG1 take the lead with a bet of 451. I put more than half my stack in as a raise: 2,254. He pushed for 3,927, a bit less than half my chips. I called and he showed KK. A great hand—and a winner if he could catch the last king on the river—but behind me for the moment. The last card was J, and I was up to 9,270 at just over 15 minutes into the game.

I diled for more than half an hour, ranging between 9,000 and 13,000 chips as the blind levels crept up to 200/400/40. By my next significant hand, I had just 9,003 chips at a five-handed table with one player just under 4,000 and three others ranging from 20,500 to 31,600. I was dealt QA on BTN. UTG (with 29,000 chips) called the big blind, CO (the largest stack) raised to 2,000, and I pushed all-in. SB (the smallest of the big stacks) folded, BB (the short stack) called, and UTG called. The big stack abandoned his 2,000 raise. Everyone flipped and BB showed K2, with UTG displaying 77. I was more likely than either of the others to win but I was still on the wrong side of the coin flip. The 3J2 flop put me in positive territory—at least as far as stats go—and my win was sealed with 8 on the turn. The win put me at 24,326 chips.

I didn’t have to wait as long for another bump, although it wasn’t nearly as large, either. Blinds were up to 400/800/75, I was BTN with KQ and third in chips at the table. UTG (with a couple thousand fewer chips than my 28,000) raised to 2,400. The two big stacks folded. I called, SB folded, and the short stack (with just over 5,500) called. The T99 flop didn’t exactly hit me, but I did have an inside straight draw. Everyone checked. The turn Q gave me top pair and a decent kicker (plus my draw), and when BB pushed and UTG folded, I had to call the extra 3,150. BB showed the same pair, suited but with a bad kicker: Q3. The K on the river sealed the elimination and put me up 8,725 chips.

It was about ten minutes later that I broke the 40,000 barrier. Blinds were 500/1000/100, I was BTN with QQ and just over 30,000.SB and UTG1 were under 10,000, UTG had 40,000, CO was about 35,000, and BB was lording it over the table with almost 100,000. UTG folded, the short stack in UTG1 called, CO folded, and I raised to 5,000. SB pushed for 10,180, BB and UTG1 folded, and I called, to see KA. The flop was against me, with KT4, but the turn resurrected flipped the odds with Q. Just a 9 on the river and I was up to 42,816.

Twelve hands later, the other short stack and a couple other players had come and gone. The big stack two positions to my left was sitting on 141,000 chips. Immediately to my left was a stack of 75,000. There were two of us in the 40,000-45000 range and two more between 20,000 and 25,000. Blinds were up to 600/1,200/120. I was BTN again, with A9. UTG folded and UTG1 put 4,920—about a quarter of his stack—into play, with only 720 in the pot. CO folded and I called; the blinds folded. The flop was 3Q8 and the small stack pushed with 15,816. With the big stacks out of the way, I didn’t feel bad about calling and saw he had a 9J. I was ahead, but he did have a potential straight draw as well as a backdoor flush draw. The turn, though, was 2 and the river was K, so neither possibility quite made it and I was over 65,000.

That success didn’t last long. Just two hands later I raised UTG to 5,000 with 99. Everyone got out of the way except for BB, the other short stack with 25,000 who pushed all-in. I called and was running against KA. The board ran out KJ856 and I was back below where I’d been two hands before.

Three hands in a row just six hands later put me into major contention. Blinds were 800/1,600/150. BTN had 34,000 chips, SB had 64,000, BB was the player who’d knocked me down, with 55,000. I was UTG with 34,000 (yes, I’d lost even more chips). UTG1 was over 92,000 and the big stack was CO at 138,000. I got dealt AA and just called, with UTG1, BTN, SB following along. BB checked his option. The flop was 268 and SB bet 4,450. BB folded and I pushed for a total of 31,861. Everyone folded and I took a pot of 11,600.

My next hand as BB was AK. Action folded to BTN who bet 4,050. SB folded. BTN had me out-chipped by nearly 10,000. I pushed again and he called with JQ. Nearly 92,000 in the pot and the flop was 5K6. I won it with a 2 on the turn but the river A wasn’t bad to see. I was a second at the table by a small amount.

AT came to me next as SB. The stack I’d just broken down went all-in with 12,442 chips. I went all-in rather than just calling, hoping that BB who I just barely had covered wouldn’t call. He folded and I was up against 9T. The JQA flop opened up the possibility of a chop, but no Kx appeared and I eliminated the player to put me over 106,000.

Four hands later (1,000/2,000/200) I was BB again (we were still five-handed). There hadn’t been a lot of chip movement, I was around 103,000, the big stack had 134,000, the guy between us had 87,000, and there were two stacks of 42,000 and 50,000. My cards were TT. UTG called, then action folded around to me and I raised to 10,000. UTG called. The flop was 5K3 and I raised the stakes with a 20,000 bet. UTG called again. The turn was 2. I checked, UTG bet 31,000. I was reasonably sure he didn’t have a Kx and unless he’d bet 10,000 pre-flop with 5x3x, I was reasonably sure I was ahead, so I called. The river was a Q. I checked again and UTG went all-in. There was more than 150,000 in the pot—61,000 of it was mine—I called and he flipped 56 for a bluff gone seriously wrong.

With 192,000 chips, I was the tournament leader.

I managed to hold onto the lead for about thirty hands, despite a slowly decreasing stack. Most of the other players near the top were experiencing the same phenomena. The player to my right went on a streak just as we hit the two hour mark, overtaking me by winning a 61,000 chip pot in one hand, then scoring a knockout against another similarly-sized stack that had just arrived at the table six hands later which put him over 310,000.

Blinds were 2,500/5,000/500 and we were five-handed again. I had 145,000 chips as UTG1, a new player had just moved onto my left with 45,000. The other three players had all been at the table for a while, with BTN holding 131,000, BB 115,000, and UTG still just over 300,000 (SB was dead). My hand was 7A and when the big stack folded I min-raised to 10,000. The only caller was BB. The flop was KKA, BB checked and I checked behind. 2 on the turn, BB checked, I bet 22,500, and BB re-raised to 45,000. This is where I made my mistake. Of course he had the Kx; I went all-in, he called and showed KJ. I got two pair with the river 7 but that didn’t beat a set of kings. I lost 115,000 chips and was down to about 30,500, short stack on the table now with a stack of over 230,000 ahead of the 300,000 stack.

I was UTG on the next hand with JA. Not a Mutant jack, but okay for a short-stack hand. I went all-in and got a call from the biggest stack in BB with 94. He hit top pair on the flop: 975 and it looked like it was curtains, but the turn was A and the river made me two pair with J. I was back up to 65,000.

23 on BB the next hand didn’t look quite as like likely to win, but I got a walk and won 4,500 chips in antes and the small blind.

I was still on a stack of only 14bb. The next hand as SB, I got A8. The big stack (still with 270,000 chips) raised to 15,000 from BTN after UTG and CO folded. I pushed with just under 69,000, BB folded, and the big stack called with JT. Both of us missed the 296 flop. The 7 on the turn gave him a possible gut-shot straight draw, but mine was open-ended. Nothing came through, though, except for a board pair, with 7 for the river, and suddenly I was back up over 145,000.

A few hands later, I got AK as BB. UTG—with a stack just a little smaller than mine—opened with a min-raise (at 2,500/5,000/500)—and action folded to me. I pushed, BB folded, and I snagged another 14,500 chips.

My SB on the next hand was 57. UTG and CO called, I called, and BB let it ride. Only the largest stack sat the hand out. The flop was 258 and I was assuming middle pair 0n that board was at least a contender. I opened with a feeler of 5,000, only UTG—the short stack at the table with about 30,000—called. Q on the turn and I continued pressing with another 5,000 bet. He called again. The river gave me 7. It was as good as it was going to get with this hand and I bet the pot, for 42,500. With only 20,000 left, UTG folded and I was up to 185,000.

Getting tricky with bad cards can become a bad habit, though. My next BB was at 3,000/6,000/600 and I was dealt 25. Action folded to the big stack—now down to only 200,000—and he raised to 12,000. Like a fool, I followed along, hitting the bottom end of the 982 flop. SB bet 18,400 and I called, only to see K on the turn. We both checked. The Q on the river gave him the opening to push all-in and I had to fold, losing 31,000 on a hand that should have been thrown away.

I took another hit trying to play 2A. I four-flushed by the turn but with the lowest possible diamond flush. By two hours and fifteen minutes into the match, I was back down to 122,000.

Three of us saw the flop after a min-raise to 12,000 with me in SB holding J9. I had an inside straight draw on the 6KQ flop and opened with 12,000. One player called. K on the turn didn’t do me any good, but I opened with another 12,000 and got a fold with my bluff to win 39,000 chips.

A min-bet from BTN with K8 took down the blinds and antes on the next hand and moved me back up to 177,000 chips.

I called with a similar 8K on the next hand as CO. SB called and BB checked. The A68 board wasn’t ideal for me, but I did have a piece and position. BB (short stack at the table with 75,000 at the beginning of the hand) bet 8,000 and I re-raised to 30,400. SB folded and BB gave it up. I was over 200,000.

Four hands later, I was already back under 180,000 (with blinds at 4,000/8,000/800) when I got QK as SB. I was second in chips at the table, with the former big stack still bigger at 190,000+. There were three stacks of about 140,000 to 150,000 and one just over 50,000. UTG raised to 20,400 and action folded to me. I called; BB called. 66,000 in the pot and the flop was Q24. I pushed 158,000 chips into the middle (or, rather, pushed a button) and the others folded. I didn’t want to see any more cards on that hand.

With 223,000 chips, I was about 30,000 ahead of anyone else at the table. I wasn’t the tournament chip lead, but I was in the top ranks again, and the field had narrowed considerably from the original 564 entries. I hadn’t rebought or added on (I’d seen one player rebuy six or seven times after repeatedly going all-in on every hand). I’d managed to almost immediately come back from a devastating loss of nearly 80% of my chips, an ability I rather pride myself on (I once managed to build from 55 chips to more than 30,000 after losing 99.5% of my chips AxQx v. AxKx). But pride goeth before a fall (or a devastating chip loss) as they say.

That loss came at the 5,000/10,000/1,000 level, after about two hours and twenty-five minutes of play. I was big stack at the table, with 196,000 chips, after the guy who’d just taken a pot of 20,000 to move ahead of me had been moved for table balancing. I got 22 as BB, action folded to SB (with the second-largest stack) who went all-in and I called with just 17,680 behind. He flipped A4 and we were in a true 50%-50% coin flip for a pot worth 360,000. The flop of 633 gave me a 4:3 advantage, then the flush possibilities of a 7 turn drew us even again. He didn’t get the flush, though. He got a 5 for the river straight.

I dropped down to 11,680 after giving up my SB on the next hand with Q9, but I pushed from BTN with 3A and got two callers, which tripled me up after SB pushed BB out with an all-in bet on the turn when he made a pair of nines, only to lose to my ace pairing on the river (the three paired on the flop). Still, I had less than 4bb in a six-handed game. My last hand, I shipped with a weak king, was called by a less-weak king, and lost when his kicker paired on the flop.

147 minutes. 215 hands. 22nd of 564 entrants. infinite ROI, won 0.5% of prize pool.

No Cigar

Final Table Sunday $5,000 Guarantee (10,000 chips)

Started off the tournament with a 1,000 chip early registration bonus. I was in seat 7 at the sixth table; seat 2 had a woman who started pushing from the first hand. Within the first orbit, she’d already lost most of her stack to one player, then busted on the hand before the button got to me. After a rebuy, she made a big raise from UTG1, action folded to me, and I called with AK. The flop was Ax3x4x, she shoved even before all her new chips got to the table, I called, and she flipped QxQx against my aces. The turn and river were low and with only one rebuy, she was out.

I promptly set about sharing the wealth with my tablemates, losing over 3,000 with JxJx against 8x8x when my opponent hit a ten-high straight. I’d have had the better straight if an 8x had shown up, but the chances were restricted. 8xs were my downfall on the next hand as well, with a couple thousand following K8 v 23 down the hole on a flop of 2x2x8x. Although I’d had more than 20,000 after the knockout, I was back down to 14,350 at fifty minutes.

The slide continued with speculation on a QxTx hand and a AxKx8x7x6x board. Jx or 9x would have made me a happy man. 12,600 chips at eighty minutes. I coasted into the first break, bought the 8,000 chip add-on, and started the second segment of the tournament with 20,100 chips.

I folded KxTx after a pre-flop call of 1,100 in the SB. KxKx was the winner of the hand, so that was probably a good idea. 6x6x did manage to win me a small pot.

With the blinds at 100/200, I raised to 500 with Ax9x, getting two calles. Then BB went all-in for more than 14,000 and I folded. We all folded.

JxJx picked the wrong time to shove, i.e. when I had AxAx. I managed to double up and was back in positive territory with 35,000 chips two-and-a-half hours into the match.

By the time of my next major action, the blinds had moved up to 300/600. I raised to 2,000 with 9x9x, getting a single call and then a re-raise to 6,000. I called, and the previous caller came along. Top card on the flop was Qx but there was also another 9x. I opened all-in and since my stack was now large enough to do some serious damage, the other two folded. At the second break, I was holding 48,300 chips, about 5% of the total in play. There were 39 of the original 56 players remaining.

I moved to table 1 shortly after the break ended and took some time to get my footing, losing consecutive hands with 4x4x on the BB and KxQx on SB. At three hours and twenty minutes, I was down to 41,400.

Then I got fancy with 56. There wasn’t much on the flop apart from a lone heart, but I stayed with the hand, and another heart showed on the turn. There was a bet of 2,500 and two calls. I re-raised to 7,500 and got calls. The river gave me a king-high flush—but hardly the best king-high flush—and it was checked through. There was nothing better than two pair behind me.

On my next SB, I lived dangerously with 72. I made middle pair on a Kx-high flop and bet 2,000, hoping to scare someone away but got two callers. The turn was a 6x and I had to call another 5,000 to see the showdown but my sevens were good. In less than half an hour I’d gained over 30,000 chips, making it to 73,200.

From there, I called a 9,500 chip all-in with KJ but folded after a bet from another caller with only one spade on the flop. Running spades with the A on the river would have given me the nut flush and a major win.

The player on my left had been whining about calls—particularly my calls—ever since I’d gotten to the table. I put him all-in with 6x6x and he called with AxQx. Three Kx on the board made me a full house and took him out. Because of the previous loss, though, I was still only at 75,400 when we’d been playing for four hours.

Speculating with 67 cost me after my flush draw caught 7x on the river. I called a heads-up bet of 2,000 and thought I’d won from the comment by the player on my right but he was slow-rolling me with K7. My stack was down to 68,400 at break 2 with 21 players left.

Once action started up again it was downhill to the end. I lost more than 10,000 chips with A6 and didn’t hit anything. A pair of Qxs took the hand.

I hit top pair with Ax8x from the BB and bet 5,000 against SB for a win, but was down to 46,600 at 4:50 into the game.

Pushing with 8x8x from BB, I was nearly felted in a three-way all-in against KxQx and QxJx. KxQx double-paired on the flop and did not look back. I lost 42,200 chips but managed to double up on the next hand with AQ when I hit Ax on the flop. Fifteen minutes later I’d managed to move back up from the basement to an even 34,000.

The last hand of the match for me was a shove with a premuium pair: TxTx. Unfortunately, the guy to my left was more premium: JxJx. Didn’t quite make the final table.

Five hours and twenty minutes. -100% ROI. Placed 13th of 56.

Not So Much Card Dead As Card Comatose

Aces Players Club Back-to-School Special (12,000 chips)

DV and I both played this game, in which the house added $1,000 to the pot for first prize just to make it extra juicy. I ended up at table 1, seat 8, and spent the afternoon next to R, the gent who beat me out of a first-place finish in a freezeout a few months back. DV ended up out in the hinterlands.

My first move of any sort was as BB with Ax9x. By the turn, there were two kings on the board and when a bet of 400 opened, I folded.

On SB with 89, I caught top pair on the flop with my nine. The K on the turn, two clubs on the flop and a bet of 400 from the same guy (seat 1) as the hand before and I folded.

Shortly thereafter, I picked up AK and raised to 350, getting four callers. The king paired on a pretty dry flop, I bet 1,000 and took the pot. Twenty-five minutes into the game, I was 625 chips ahead of starting stack.

Three players were in for 350 when I picked up AxAx as BB. I raised pre-flop to 2,000 and only one stayed in. The flop was jack-high, I bet another 2,000 and my opponent folded. R told me he folded jacks to my raise. That put me up to 15,225 by the 35 minute mark.

Called 225 with KJ and whiffed the board, then folded to a river bet, then blew another 300 playing Ax2x (althought that wasn’t my worst play in this tournament with that hand). I lost about 1,000 chips over twenty minutes.

Dumped another 750 chips raising to 350 with AxTx. I had a wheel draw on the turn but missed. Just after an hour of play I was back down to 13,400.

Set-mining with 6x6x as SB is dangerous work! Don’t call 600 pre-flop with it. It isn’t worth it. 8x8x as BTN, on the other hand, proved profitable when I re-raised to 1,100, made my set on the flop, then won with a 2,200 opening bet post-flop. Twenty minutes after the hour I was up to 13,975.

With AQ I raised to 2,000 pre-flop, getting two callers. There were two spades on the jack-high flop and I opened for 1,300. I was min-raised, then action came to a halt when the player to my right went all-in for more than 14,000. I thought about it briefly and laid down my hand; everyone else did so as well. The winner showed JxJx for top set and took in a big pot. I, on the other hand, was down to 10,400 at the beginning of the first break, so I almost doubled my stack by buying the 8,000 chip add-on.

Set-mining with 7x7x is dangerous work (see above). 1,500 chips worth of dangerous. Speculating with K6 is 500 dangerous. From 20,000 chips (12,000 starting stack plus 8,000 add-on) at the two hour mark, I was down to 16,300.

Things looked up a bit when I called 1,200 holding A6 and the flop was all clubs. Heads-up after the flop, I bet 1,200 after my opponent checked and took the pot. At two-and-a-half hours I held 17,400 chips.

R remarked that I wasn’t holding onto many hands, which is when I coined the title for this post. Then I lost 2,400 with JxTx, which is usually a good performer for me.

Last hand of the game was a highly speculative A2. The flop made me straight possibilities: Q4x3.  The only other player in the hand was pushing hard, and I pushed back, eventually going all-in. Then the turn improved me to a flush draw: 9. Then I connected to my flush with 4 on the river. Unfortunately, what the other guy was connecting to with that card was a more powerful full house because he had QxQx in his pocket. R said he thought I was getting frustrated. I don’t know. I didn’t feel frustrated, I just thought I had an opportunity with that hand to do something before my stack got so small from blind attrition that I’d always get called. If my opponent had a pair instead of a set, he might not have called the all-in.

DV lasted a couple hours longer than I did. I swung back by the club to see if there was anything I could get him about an hour after the last I’d heard from him, but he was out by then. R was there but wasn’t in the tournament any more.

Three hours. Placed seventy-first of 93 entries. Fourteen places paid, with $15,000 in the prize pool.


98 Tournaments

Played three tournaments yesterday(ish), which brings my total since 1 May to 98, including both live and online games.

Aces Players Club $10K Guarantee (10,000 chips)

I haven’t cashed in this tournament over six attempts. But at least I usually make it to the add-on break so that I can donate another $50 to the prize pool. Not last night. I picked up KxKx as BB and hit a set on the flop. I was so busy hoping for the board to pair on the river that when a mid-position player who’d been calling my raises shoved, I snap-called and was easily beat by the Broadway straight I missed seeing. I just said “Not tonight” when the dealer asked me if I wanted to rebuy, but what I was thinking on my way out the door was “Not after a stupid call like that.”

Twenty minutes. Didn’t even bother to check the entries or my position but I think I was first out among about 45 players although some likely showed up after I was KOd. -100% ROI.

Encore Club $3,000 Guarantee (10,000 chips)

I thought of variations on the theme of what I should have said as I drove across town to the Encore. I still had enough in my pocket for a buy-in in their Friday night 8pm freezeout, and I even managed to get a spot in their parking lot.

Sometime about three months ago I stopped keeping notes on my live games. It seemed distracting, I wasn’t always finding time to post the results here (I’ve got several games from June and July I never got around to), and I felt I wasn’t able to concentrate on my game as much. On the other hand, I was cashing more often while I was keeping notes, so I decided to do it again for this game. Did it make a difference?

Early on I lost 1,300 chips with QJ. I needed a 9x for a queen-high straight but folded on the turn bet and the other two players still in the hand chopped my contribution, as they were both holding AxTx and made a pair of tens.

Hit a pair of queens with Qx9x and took a small pot, then tossed JxTx post-flop which would have made a jack-high straight on the turn. By 15 minutes into the game I was down to 8,600 chips.

J7 lost me 250 when I folded after an unpromising flop. I pushed 1,200 into the pot holding 9x9x in position after a limper who called but Ax on the flop and a bet from the limper made me throw it and he showed his Ax. Down to 7,575 at 33 minutes.

Called a raise to 425 with Qx8 but tossed it after another ungood flop. Three-quarters of an hour in, I was down to 6,950.

Finally, my flushing strategy worked with T8. I hit on the turn and pulled in enough to bring me back up over starting level, to 11,825.

Overbet AxTx and lost 1,200 when I didn’t connect by the river heads-up and my opponent bet another 1,200. At the first break I was holding just over the starting stack: 10,125 chips; just a little below average with only one player out.

I went card-dead for quite a while and slipped slowly to 9,100 after the return to play, then shoved from BB with JxJx (the strong hand of the night) and was called by AxQx (which was consistently losing last night). The woman who called me had me covered by only about 600 chips and the loss was crippling. On the other hand, I was up to 17,800 by the two-hour mark.

I called an all-in with A8 and was outmatched by A9 but the board gave me a low straight and I knocked out a player, taking me up to 23,200 at 2:15 into the game. By break two that had increased to 25,800.

With the blinds at 400/800/100 after the chip-up, I raised to 2,000 with QxJx from UTG and managed to take the blinds down. With K5, I raised from BTN to 2,400. There weren’t any hearts on the flop and BB won the pot hitting jacks over nines right off the bat.

A player with 9x9x went all-in with 14,000 and I called with KxKx, which held up. A little more than three hours into the game, I was up to 33,800. I promptly slammed down again calling an all-in from a 5,000 chip short stack with JxTx. They tripled up.

Clubs failed me again with A5 on BB. There weren’t any black cards on the board by the turn when another player bet out and I folded, losing 1,600 chips. Twenty minutes after being at neatly 34K I was down to 24,600. Another twenty minutes had me cut down to 20,600, just under the average stack.

Two kings on the board by the turn forced me to fold Ax8x and forfeit 1,600 more chips. The slide continued, down to 18,800 at the third break.

Four hours into the game and it was an even 14,000. I took the blinds and antes with K[tyd] but a pre-flop all-in with QxTx got called by a big stack with AxJx. I had an up-and-down straight draw from the flop, but nothing else materialized and I was gone.

Five hours. Finished eleventh of 44 entries. Six places paid, with $4,400 in the prize pool.

Carbon Poker $150 Guaranteed Pot Limit HO (2,000 chips)

What better to cleanse the palate of five hours of play, only to bust out short of the money, than some mixed-game online action? I joined the game with only four other players at one of two tables, playing Pot Limit Hold’em. I lost a couple of early pots, laid down a KJ after missing the flop that would have cleaned up on the fifth hand, then finally turned A8 into enough to get me back up over starting stack on hand 8.

The very next hand, I paired my ace in A7 on the flop to win a small pot, then lost a little back. We lost a player on hand 10, then the tables consolidated on hand 14. The sixteenth hand was the beginning of our switch to Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo.

Hand 21 was a turning point. I picked up K932. Seemingly not a particularly good hand, but with low possibilities if there’s an ace on the board. I raised to 90 (from 15/30) UTG, was re-raised by UTG3 to 315, and called after BTN called. The 7JK flop gave me a heart draw and top pair; I bet the pot: 990. UTG3 went all-in and I was all-in to call. He had 7AKA for two pair as it stood; we were 40/60 with me on the short end. But I made the flush on the 5 turn and his only hope was to catch7, 7, or K on the river. I went from 2,295 to 4,920 and a more than 1,000 chip lead.

I didn’t win anything through the next round of PLHE, actually managing to lose the 1,000 margin I’d had. By the start of hand 40 I was down to 3,285. That hand, I got 34A7 in SB and called the 60 chips of the big blind. The QT3 flop gave me a gut-shot Broadway draw; I had a backdoor nut flush. I checked it and BB checked. K on the turn gave me the nuts: Broadway. I checked, BB bet 225, I pot-raised to 1,425 and he called. A pointless 7 showed on the river. I checked, BB tossed in his remaining 515 chips and I called. He just had kings and threes. He was KOd, I was up to 5,945.

Hitting trip nines on the next hand (the last of that round of Omaha) put me over 6,000 chips. AQ on hand 47 dragged in another nearly 4,000 chips. At nearly 8,500 chips, my nearest competitor was 2K below me. I lost a bit on a few hands, but a split high pot (22KK on the board and two of us with aces) on hand 54 (PLHE) got me up to 8,088.

My nearest competitor and I went head-to-head in hand 56 (PLO8) with me taking the low and earning a couple hundred in early bets and calls.

The next hand, I picked up 66KA in HJ at 75/150. Action folded to me, I raised to 450 and got called by BTN and SB. The flop of 952 missed me completely and got checked all around. 2 on the turn didn’t do me any good, either, but when SB checked to me I bet 750 and both the others folded. I was up to 9,288 and I was invincible with a nearly 3,000 chip lead.

I lost 825 speculating with one of those unrecommended hand that I nevertheless enjoy in PLO8: 9T78. SO good if you manage to hit a bunch of mid-range cards on the flop for a straight, not so good when it’s 55J and someone bets 1,330. I folded and watched nothing that would have improved my hand show up.

I speculated with a couple of more hands, dropping down to just over 6,000 chips by hand 63. Then I picked up 52A7 and everything went to hell. A player starting with just under 5,000 raised to 425 from UTG1, and I re-raised to 850 for some reason. SB folded, BB called, then UTG1 raised to 3,475. My hand wasn’t strong—even if a low came along I could be easily counterfeited— but I called anyway. The KK8 on the flop gave me nothing, but I still called an all-in bet of 1,450. My opponent flipped over AA64 for a pretty good two pair. The K on the turn sealed my fate. With no possibility of a low and a full house in his hand, I was drawing dead for a pot of 10,775 chips. I started the first hand of a round of PLHE with just 1,101.

My last hand (at 100/200), I potted pre-flop from UTG to 700 with JT. BTN re-raised to 1,200, then BB pushed to 4,400. I called with my remaining 401 chips and BTN folded. BB flipped over KA. He had over cards and both my suits, but I still had about a 35% chance. That dwindled to 22% when we both paired on the T9A flop. Neither the turn or river cards improved my lot, and my implosion was complete. Top to bottom in five hands.

67 minutes. 67 hands. Finished seventh of 10 players. Three places paid; $190 prize pool.


First of July

Aces Player’s Club $10K Guarantee (10,000 chips)

My club card was full, so I didn’t have to pay the door this evening. Got sat down at Table 4 Seat 2, so I had the first SB.

Got off to a decent beginning playing KJ against one of the players on the far end. Hit two clubs on the flop and made a flush on the turn; was just a card away from a royal flush. Up to 11,800 chips by 0:15.

Seat 4 tried to represent a strong hand on my first BB when I was holding 9x9x. Top card on the flop was Tx and I kept playing back, calling several thousand in raises by the river. He couldn’t beat my pair and I was up to 15,725 by 0:25.

Called a raise to 525 with AT, then folded after a re-raise and all-in behind me. The re-raiser had JxJx and the all-in was holding KxKx. A river Kx just sealed that one; my hand never improved.

Holding A5, I called a raise of 500, then folded after an all-club flop was raised.

At 45 minutes I was still holding 14,000.

A late arrival to the table in Seat 1 was talking about a couple of wins he’s made a few weeks back and it turned out he was the giant stack at the Encore’s $10K who took me out with sixes. Apparently he’d also won the Aces $10K the night before that.

Playing QxTx I got a straight draw on the flop but had to push and bluff the Beast inSeat 1 and another player off the flop.

My 89 made top two pair on a flop but a 7x on the turn made the straight for another player’s JxTx and I lost several thousand hoping for a full house.

A Mutant Jack AJ made a straight on the turn, angering some of my fellow players.

By the first break (at one hour) I was at 9,500, having recouped slightly after the big loss. The 5K add-on took me up to 14,500.

Folded 1,000 with QxJx and a straight draw on the turn after getting priced out, then lost another 800 with AxTx when the board had a lot of full house possibilities but not for me.

As BB with Kx7x, I called a raise to 1,000 from the Beast, hit middle pair on the board, then raised 600 and got him to fold. He was knocked out by someone else shortly after that.

Gambled on 78 on a KxKx7x board and was beat on the river by a flush.

Went all-in with a bunch of limps ahead of me holding 5x5x. Only caller on the final bet of 5,700 had Ax7x. Bombs fell all between his cards but my pair held up and I was up to 13,80 by 1:55 in the game.

Called a raise of 1,200 with JxTx and had to bail after the flop.

Went heads-up as SB v BB with a low pair on the board but BB made trip kings and I lost about 4,800.

Laid down KxTx on a flop with QxQx. Would have made a straight and won by the end of the board.

At 2:15, I was down to only 5,600 chips and got AxKx on the BB. I went all-in, a bigger stack called, and a smaller stack was in, too. The big stack had 8x8x, the small stack had just 4x5x but the board ran low, putting another 8x on the flop for the big stack and a straight to the 8x for the small stack.

160 minutes. Finished 48th of 70 players. -100%ROI (including buy-in and add-on).

Desperate Attempt Or Canny Move?

Aces Players Club $10K Guarantee Satellite (3,000 chips)

I was just planning to buy in at full price but I got there early and there was a game about to start, so I joined up. I could have saved my money.

First hand I was SB, with Kx7x. About five players limped in, I dropped another 25 to call, BB checked and the flop made me two pair with (I think) Kx7xTx. I checked (probably a mistake) and that went around, with 9x on the turn. I opened with 400 and UTG went all-in. I called and she flipped Jx8x. It was not to be the first jack-high straight that caused me trouble this evening.

2 minutes, 1 hand. Finished 9th of 9. -100% ROI.

Aces Players Club $10K Guarantee (10,000 chips)

Had a hard couple of early rounds with every move I’d make just not connecting with the cards. Mucho folding involved. By the middle of round three, I was down to half the starting stack when I played QxTx. By the turn, I had Broadway, there wasn’t a flush in sight, and I was all-in. A caller doubled me up to about starting.

Played 57 aggressively with two clubs on the flop and ended up with 3,300 in the pot before I shut it down. Two other players stayed in and the winner connected for a pair of jacks with AJ, so I’m rather glad there wasn’t a club on the turn.

Just after the break I got 6x6x in CO and managed to steal the blinds, which put me up to just about even (15,000 chips, including the starting stack and 5K add-on).

The bottom card of my AxTx hit top pair on the flop and I managed to pick off another 2K, but I lost 3,400 on AxQx when I folded to a bigger stack’s all-in on the Ax4x5x flop. He showed Ax5x in a showdown with another player.

Finally managed to get some significant upward movement by calling a smaller stack’s all-in with JxTx. He flipped over 9x9x and we went all the way to the river before Tx turned up. That put me up to 19K.

Then, of course, I picked up A9x and raised. The flop was 944x and a big stack at the other end of the table raised 5K. I had to call to see if I could pick up more clubs or better yet a 9x. What I got was a 6x. He raised again and I had to fold. That left me with about 12,500 chips as we went into the second break.

Blinds started at 500/1,000/25 after the break and action was moving pretty fast, both with people waiting to make their moves and with three players not even back at the table as action started. I was on my second time as SB when I got 9xTx and called to see the flop. The flop was low and made me top pair with Tx8x6x, so I was all-in. My stack wasn’t enough to scare anyone off, though, and BB called me with QxJx. I made two pair on the turn, but that made his straight, and the river failed to float my boat.

4 hours. Finished about 40th of 80. -100% ROI (-140% buy-in, including add-on and door fee).

The Big Play

Ace of Spades $10K Guarantee Satellite (1,000 chips)

I’d already bought in for the game but DV hadn’t arrived yet and I decided to play for his seat since they were trying to round up a couple of players for the last satellite. I didn’t keep track of the cards, but I took a chunk of the stack from the woman opposite me early on, then another couple of medium-sized chunks from around the table before. As the match dragged on past the big game’s starting time, the staff was anxious to get the tournament under way and they jumped the blinds up, which led to the quick elimination of several players, with most of the chips going to two guys at the other end of the table. Eventually, they got into a hand and I was heads-up with a significant chip disadvantage. We got moved to another table since the one we were at was needed for the $10K. I managed to get even or a little bit ahead in heads-up by some good cards and some bluffing, then the tournament was starting and since both the other player and I were already bought-in we just chopped the prize money. DV had to pay his own way in to the big game.

6 players, tied for first. +200% ROI.

Ace of Spades $10K Guarantee (7,000 chips)

Right off the bat there was an announced “dealer appreciation fee” of 10% of the buy-in, which  got you an additional 2K in chips. It’s pretty hard to ignore a nearly 30% increase in the stack size for that price, but I felt it was a bit sleazy to not make it known up-front. I hope it’s not something that spreads to other venues.

I sat in seat 1 of table 2 the entire game.

I caught AxAx on my third hand and steadily increased my opening bets against seat 4 in SB. Checked on the river and SB bet 1K. I raised to 2K (we were still at 25/50 for blinds) and he called but the aces held and I was up to about 13K.

Pressing hard with AK won another several hundred shortly thereafter.

Had Kx5x on the BB and caught top pair on the flop. The board straightened out with Kx8x7x6x by the turn, and I hung on. 5x hit the river and I ended up takig down the pot from what was probably a stronger king.

Player 79 and hit second pair on a flop with an Ax. I made a good-sized raise and everyone went away.

Lost about 1K after raising with A7, but I was up to 17K at the 90-minute mark.

Playing QxQx with an Ax on the flop cost me about 3K. I made up for it playing QxTx in a hand with five players in for 800 pre-flop. The first cards were KxJx8x and I bet out 1,500, which got folds from everyone.

Lost a big hand with AKx when my straight and flush draws didn’t make it and a full house did.

At two hours into the game I was down a bit, to 15,650, but made it to 22K by the second break.

I’d played 7x7x and stayed in with a board of 3xAx6x3x. When 7x hit the river, a short stack in seat 8 went all-in and I called him, with my full house being best hand.

DV wasn’t doing so well, down to about 10bb. After this, no players were allowed to rebuy, I did the add-on for 50% of the buy-in and 7K in chips (not nearly as good a deal as the “dealer appreciation”).

Open-raised to 1,500 with AxQx and took the blinds on one hand, then lost 3,500 calling an open-raise by seat 4 (who had speedily recovered from our initial meeting) with KxJx when the flop went nowhere. KxJx lost me another K shortly thereafter, and perhaps I should have noticed a pattern here.

Blinds were up to 300/600, I raised to 1,500 with AxJ and got three calls. Everyone checked to the river and nobody got anything. Nobody else even had an ace.

Ax7x again cost me 1,500 after I opened and nothing hit on the flop.

My last hand was KxJx. A new player had been moved into seat 2 and taken out two from our table in a short span. I raised after getting top pair with a Kx on the flop, he went all-in, I called and he showed AxKx, which held through the river.

DV actually laster a while longer than I did, but was still out well before the money.

4 hours. Placed around 50th in a field of 79. -100% ROI (-180% buy-in including door, dealer appreciation, and add-on).

Aces Players Club 1 Re-Buy (7,000 chips)

Took in 800 early on pairing my nine with 9xTx on the flop. Ditto with AxJx and jacks. Forty minutes in I was up to about 9,300.

4x5x in the BB raised and checked down to the river won me 1K when my paired 4x was the best hand. By the first break I had crept up to 10,400.

A lucky pull with 8T on BB made me over 5K when I hit a pair of tens with a straight draw on the board as well. that severely hurt the player three seats to my right, but he came back with an all-in against my raise with 8x8x. I called, he showed AxJx, another 8x came on the turn, and he never paired but the rest of the board made him a jack-high straight and he took back several thousand.

Only about 10,800 at the 160-minute mark.

I played KxQx strong but two seats to my left the big stack at the table went all-in after the flop JxTx8x and I didn’t pull the trigger, losing over 6K. Busted out on the next hand when I called an all-in from the guy who’d busted my eights, and he showed AxQx against my AxJx. Both of us paired our non-ace cards, but that wasn’t good for me.

2.25 hours. Placed 16th or 17th in a field of 23. -100% ROI (-120% buy-in including door).


Aces Players Club Turbo (5,000 chips, 1 re-buy)

I didn’t keep notes on this tournament, although I really should have.

Started off at table 2. This being a late-night turbo game, there were multiple all-ins from the beginning. I tried to stay out of it for the most part but got tangled up in a hand with (if I remember correctly) a good pair after losing several raises and ended up re-buying.

I moved to newly-constituted table 4 immediately upon buying back in, sitting in seat 9. There were a couple of young what-seemed-to-be-foreign-students in 6 and 7. Then a dapper guy with a lot of chips was moved into 8 and my cards hit a cold spell. Fortunately for me, he was moved again within a few minutes. Seat 6 was on a bit of a tear, but not a good one for him as he ended up felted not long after 8 was moved away. He re-bought but before he could play a hand the tournament director informed him that he’d already re-bought and the late-night turbo (in the interests of shutting down before dawn) doesn’t allow more than one.So a dead stack was placed next to his friend, who seemed very unsure of himself. It was just then that I caught a great run of cards, the blinds started reaching the dead stack, then the unsure foreign guy, then me, and within four hands unsure foreign guy’s stack (which he’d just replenished with a re-buy) was in front of me, along with a lot of chips from elsewhere on the table. We hit the break, played a few more hands, and then the table broke and I moved to table 1 seat 9.

This table is sort of like a blur at this point. I had one of the bigger stacks at the table and just slowly grew things. Mr. Loud was seated in 6, across from me again, yammering on about how I was going to double up his chip stack. He almost seemed to lick his lips when I went to showdown holding 34 on a flush draw with a player from the other end of the table for about 5K. He and a loud guy who’s a regular seated in 4 were harassing seat 1, who was partially blind. When seat 4 asked him what he thought he was doing at one point, he mentioned he had a hard time seeing, got a quick apology, then the harassment continued. He was busted not long after and left with a sarcastic “Thanks for making the evening fun.” The pair focused their attention on me at one point, when Mr. Loud called me “son” and I said that I was probably a good bit older than he was. Loud, Jr. started in about how Loud had seen way more hands than I ever had (probably true). The bravado was pretty ludicrous considering that my stack was several times larger.It’s not the quantity of the hands that counts.

By the final table, when I just moved to seat 7, I had about 60K in chips. Seat 6 was a guy from Alaska who’d been the big stack when he was next to me at table 3, where he’d started a long discussion/argument when one of the guys he’d knocked out refused to shake his hand. Most of the table (loudly) endorsed the non-shaking position. By the final table, Alaska was on the ropes and a bit down from his cheerful demeanor a couple of hours earlier. He was out in ninth place not long after the table voted to pay all nine. I picked a couple of prime spots and kept building. The turning point was probably a hand in which Mr. Loud (now seated in 9) was involved. He’d doubled up a couple of times, the blinds were 5K/10K, I had about 90K, I think, and was on the BB. My hand was A6, there was a raise from down the table to 20K, I called, Loud called, and the flop was something like 4x7x8x, rainbow suits. I believe it got checked around to Loud, who went all-in for 28K. The guy from down the table folded, but I had enough chips to make the call and leave me with 40K or so. He flipped something like JxTx, a Qx hit the turn, then 2x for the river and my ace-high took the pot, much to the consternation of Loud and his railers, not to mention the folder, who I overheard telling one of his friends that he’d have hit a hand if he could have called the raise. Over my shoulder, I heard cries of “He wasn’t supposed to call me!” but with 60K in the pot pre-flop, I wasn’t letting go of the ace or the straight draw.

I was sitting on a stack of 195,000 by the time we got to three-handed play: 78% of the chips in play. Not quite the disparity I’d had in my last tournament, but then there were only 35 players in this game. I honestly don’t remember the last hand. I think it might have been KxQx. I called UTG’s all-in from SB, BB called, with exactly the same number of chips in his stack as UTG, and when the cards were out I’d knocked both of them out so they split the pot and I took home first place again.

I wish I knew what I was doing right.

261% ROI on the evening, above entry fee, buy-ins, dealer tip and (ugh) Diet Pepsi.


Portland Players Club $1,000 Guarantee Freeroll (4,000 chips)

I hadn’t been in PPC since the middle of last May, preferring the comfier chairs of Aces, but a Facebook invite from their new owner and the potential for nearly-free money lured me in. The format allowed for re-buys during the first hour and an add-on, all for 4K in chips. About 70 players started.

I caught a big break early on in a four-way all-in holding JxJx. Two players had drawing hands but the guy in seat 1 had AxAx. The board had other ideas, however, and drew out to a jack-high straight, giving me a pot of about 17K. By the time of the first break I was at 19K.

Playing JQ and the board turned up some more diamonds. A king-high flush gave me another win that put me up to 30K. At the 140-minute mark, I was up to 40K.

I thought I’d lost a big stack with QxQx when an all-in matched the cards in his hand for two pair, but a pair of twos on the board gave me a second pair, as the dealer pointed out. He got a good tip later. That hand put me up to 75K and I was starting to dominate the table. I took a look around during the second break and I’m pretty sure I had the biggest stack in the room.

An hour after I was at 40K I hit the 100K mark. We’d started with eight tables; by the time it was consolidated to two I had 101K.

The blinds were getting up there and several of my hands failed to connect, with me just letting my raises go rather than trying bluffs, but at the four-hour mark I was down to 89K and there were a couple of other stacks at my table that were close to or possibly even larger. I lost another 6K to the woman on my left when I tried to play bottom pair on the flop from K5.

At the third break, I was down to 83K, but still one of the larger stacks. Not dominating any longer. The first hand after the break, though, I picked up AxKx and managed to bust out two smaller stacks, boosting me up to 110K.

Got into it with the big stack on my left with 53 that double-paired on the turn. The woman on my left was all-in, I had called and had 30K in the pot and was ahead of her 8x8x until she made a set on the river and took it down. Even so, with some more wins I was sitting on 170K when we redrew seats for the final table four hours and forty-five minutes into the match.

The woman who’d doubled up through me earlier had been seated directly on my right for the final table and had a healthy stack. She went all-in with about 70K and I called her with JxJx. She flipped over 9x9x, I made a set on the flop and I was up to 247K.

I caught another player all-in with 9x9x while I was holding TxTx, then took out the second-largest stack at the table when he shoved with AxKx and I had AxAx in the big blind. Incredibly good luck.

By the fourth break I had about 475K in chips. The blinds were 4,000/8,000, we were down to three players, and I was raising every hand I could with opening bets of 25K, which was over half the stack sizes of either of the the other two players. Barring a double-up, they had only a few hands each left before they were blinded out, and they proposed a chop that left me first place with them splitting second and third. I had no problems with that.

After paying the door fee, an add-on, and a tip for the dealer (plus a couple of Diet Cokes) my ROI was +450%.

Portland Players Club Shootout

Since I’d already paid my door fee for the day, I figured I’d go back over to PPC for the last tournament, but while their 7pm game was going strong, I was only the second person signed up for the 9pm turbo when I got there at 8:45. It wasn’t promising and I waited around for one of the shootouts to start, playing Tonk with the owner and a couple of the dealers.

Supposedly, you buy into the shootouts for 25-50BB but it seemed as if some of the players re-loaded above the top level after the game had been going for a while. Just sayin’. I bought in for 30BB. The game was set to play for 90 minutes.

Took a massive hit on my first hand holding 2x2x in the BB. Hit a set on the flop, got into a bidding war with a 50BB stack at the end of the table and he beat me holding 6x6x when his set made it on the river. I lost about two-thirds of my stack right there.

Not too long afterward, though, I played 79, went all-in after making middle pair with the nine, made a set on the turn, and got back up to 20BB.

Another suited gapper (68) made two pair for me but another player’s pocket QxQx tripped on the flop and cut me back down to less than 8BB.

I slow-played JxTx on a flop of JxJxTx and managed to get two callers for a triple-up on my full house.

Another JxTx doubled me up against a two-paired AxKx and KxKx when I hit a Broadway straight.

My hand of the night was JxJx but it beat me when someone else played it against my AxQx. I lost 20BB but was still had over 25BB in my stack after the previous windfalls. Lost another 5BB on A8 when I missed the flop completely and utterly.

Three spades on the flop and KKx in my hand meant I was all-in against a big stack. He called, the A hit on the turn and I was way ahead for the night, with a half hour to go on the timer I had nearly 90BB, triple my buy-in. I should probably have just sat on it, paid my blinds, and waited for the buzzer.

I was sort of intending to do that, and dumped AxKx with two all-ins ahead of me. Pocket 8x8x took it down, but there was a Kx on the flop and I could have made more. That’s probably what got me antsy.

I called a 30BB all-in holding QxQx, they showed AxKx, pulled an ace, and I was still ahead of where I’d begun but not as much.

Time ended soon after. I’d paid my door fee earlier, after a tip to the dealer and a Diet Coke I had +85% ROI.

Overall for the day: +262% ROI.