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.

Size Does Matter

Hearkening back to the discussion of median return on investment (mROI) from a couple months back, what tournaments should you be playing to maintain profitability?

The big determining factor is your in-the-money percentage (ITM). If you’re some sort of poker god and cash in half the tournaments you enter, you should be profitable, assuming your mROI is above 200% (i.e. you aren’t always min-cashing). When you’re in the more mortal realm of 12% to 18% ITM, however, the math gets a bit murkier.

Let’s assume you have a solid but not outrageous ITM value of 14%. You’re cashing in about one out of every seven games, not just small games but across the board including games with more than 100 players. If you’re playing in casinos where tips are taken out of the total prize pool, your mROI needs to be +600% or better in order to be profitable. If you’re playing in something like Portland’s social gaming clubs where the winning players need to tip the dealers in order to keep the scene going, your mROI needs to be +440% or better to stay ahead. As an example of the latter, if you enter a tournament with a $25 buy-in, a $10 add-on, and a $10 door fee, your payout needs to be about $350; pay $35 as a tip and subtract $45 for other costs, and the remaining $270 buys you the six tournament entries you don’t cash in. Although the overall mROI for social clubs is lower, the tip means that the prize has to be a higher multiple of the other costs (buy-in, add-on, door) for a positive average return (+677% in the example above).

A $350 payout for a $25 entry tournament is a fairly decent-sized prize, though. Depending on the prize structure, that’s more or less the top prize of a $1,000 guarantee tournament with 25 or 26 players. The median payout in a tournament that size would be less than $300; unless you got the top spot, you’d be dragging down your mROI.

This is why the Poker Mutant is focusing on larger fields, these days. Aside from a preference for the blinds structures of deep stack games, larger fields are simply the only way to maintain profitability. A tournament like the Encore Club’s $25K Guarantee earlier this month paid 12 places with a scheduled median ROI of +490% (the 9-way chop actually made the median ROI +1150%). But that required a field of 150 players.

Small-field tournaments in Portland—i.e. those with 20-30 players—pay about 45-50% for the top prize, with three or four places total paying (before any bubble agreements), and with the median payout in the range of 20-30% of the pot. The pot to basic cost ratio varies considerably depending on the tournament structure and club. An 11am $250 guarantee freeroll tournament at Portland Players Club ($5 door, $5 pre-add-on, $10 add-on) with close to 30 players can generate a pot to cost ratio of nearly 25:1 with a third of the players re-buying (I don’t include re-buys in basic costs because as I’ve explained, rebuys are the death of ROI). That means the median payout in those tournaments is approximately 625% of your basic cost. If you tip your dealer 10% of your 625% prize ($125), your ROI for the game is +285%, which sounds great, but only if your ITM is better than 26%. Of course, if you win the top prize in that tournament you’re doing better, but then if you cash in third you’d better be cashing in almost every game you play.

Games that induce a lot of re-buys, like the afternoon Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo tournaments at The Final Table ($10 door, $20 buy-in, $10 add-on), can change the math a little. It’s not uncommon for there to be nearly as many re-buys as original entries, which can juice the pot a bit. One game late last year had 28 entries, 21 re-buys, and 22 add-ons, for a $1,200 pot (30:1). That’s still not a great number, though, with the median payout at just under 16% ($190), for a potential ROI of only +222%; more money but not as high a return as the median payout in the PPC game. Again, the top end does better—+450%—but that’s just keeping your head above water for someone with an ITM of 14% (and it means you need to take first place every time you cash).

Is there a sweet spot? Is there a magic number that makes it more likely that your tournament cashes will be profitable cashes? So much of that decision rests on variables like re-buy and payout structures, but in Poker Mutant’s humble opinion—in the world of Portland poker rooms, at least—you’re more likely to be profitable in events with 75 or more entrants. Apart from the opportunity of winning a big stake if you take down the top prize, which can have a pot to cost ratio of 20:1 or 30:1, the average cash in a field of that size is large enough to maintain profitability for most above-average players. You’ll still find Poker Mutant at the tables for smaller games, but our focus is on those bigger tournaments for the time being.

Anyone heading down to Reno for the World Poker Challenge?

Cusp

Carbon Poker $200 HORSE Freeroll (1,000 chips)

I called UTG with 93 and got a flop of JQA. BB and I checked it through the 5 turn and A river and split the pot with his 94. Won a couple more hands with just bets holding king-high. No pots of any real size happened in Hold’em, the biggest was 250 when my pocket nines won.

I won a big hand at the beginning of Omaha Hi-Lo, then got rocked back down to 600 chips. I was down to under 400 when I played 684J from UTG1 and caught the full house on the 664 flop. Q hit on the turn and I bet into it but Q on the river slowed me down a bit with four players going to showdown. I picked up a pot of 630.

Lost big with a flopped full house on the next hand when my deuces full of nines were beat on the turn by deuces full of aces, exactly the type of situation I’d been concerned about in previously. The river 5 actually gave me two beaten full houses because I had a five, as well.

I was down to 277 chips but still active with 4J23 in the BB. A player was all-in for  60 and there was a call ahead of me. The flop was 285, I bet , the other caller folded, and the all-in player flipped A65J. I had a nearly 50% chance of scooping the pot, and I did when the 6 came on the river. Not exactly a big win, though.

Razz was my downfall. I ended up mostly all-in with 64A67 but got high cards on sixth and seventh streets. A deuce would have tied me with the winner, but he had two of them.

Seventeen minutes, 33 hands. 2,476th of 2,546 entries.

The Final Table $1,000 Guarantee, +$200 First Place

Really can’t remember this one. It was the last of the +$200 for first place games I could make in the year, I re-bought but didn’t add on because I had a bunch of chips, then I busted out not long after the break.

Ninety minutes. -100% ROI. 40th of 43 players.

The Final Table Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo

Got into the PLO8 game a little late but did reasonably well, including my usual variant stack. Made it to the final table and got into a couple of hands with C, winning one big pot but eventually losing it all well before the money.

Two hours and forty minutes. -100% ROI. 9th of 27 players.

Oak Tree Casino Limit Omaha Hi-Lo

I’d had reasonable results at Foxwoods playing Omaha Hi-Lo, and I figured if I could do well there, I should be able to do okay at the new Oak Tree Casino in Woodland. I wasn’t disappointed. Sitting in the game for an hour I picked up a tidy profit and moved on to my next task for the day.

One hour. +29 big blinds.

2011/12 Puffmammy Event #13

Action was tough and I did not last long beyond the re-buy period end, but I did manage to snag one of the bounties, the only player not in the money to do so.

Ninety minutes. -67% ROI. 8th of 9 players.

Oak Tree Casino Limit Hold’em

There were seven names on the board for Omaha, but they weren’t opening up a table. Finally, I sat down at a Hold’em table and proceeded to prove to myself how much more I like tournament Hold’em over cash games.

Two hours. -33 big blinds.

Encore Club Pot Limit Omaha

Really, I shouldn’t have even been playing this tournament. My plan was to check in on the size and head to Oak Tree if it was small (which it was) or at the very least wait until the $1,000 guarantee game at 8pm. My failing for playing games I don’t get to play often took hold, though, so I signed up and ended up being the first man permanently out (after a rebuy).

 

Forty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 8th of 8 players.

Encore Club $1,000 Guarantee

Was doing pretty well then made an extremely bad call with the bottom end of four cards to eight-high straight on the board. My opponent had nines, of course, and I lost 80% of my stack. Eventually, I called an all-in with AQ and the guy I’d called said “Good luck, sir” before flipping his AxKx, then conceitedly told the rest of the table at length as I walked away that the ace-queen was the “parking lot hand.” I didn’t bother to tell him that he was—even with his dominating hand—only 7:3 against. I knew my chances.

Oak Tree Casino Limit Omaha Hi-Lo

Wandered back up to Woodland to see if I could recoup some of the day’s losses. At first, it looked like I’d just be adding to them—at one point I was down to only about 40% of my original buy-in—but I got back in the game and started pulling in pots, particularly from one player who I think thought he’d had me pegged as a fish in the beginning. I may be a fish, but some of us have small, sharp teeth.

Two hours. +37 big blinds.

Carbon Poker $200 HORSE Freeroll

Things started off on the wrong foot when Carbon’s client didn’t respond to my click for a call fromUTG with 5Q and sat me out. I would have made top and bottom pair on the flop and beaten the ace-high that won the hand. Made it up a bit on the next hand by hitting Broadway from TJ, then lost my winnings when my two pair was beat by a better two pair.

A river 5 gave a full house to a player in the second hand of Omaha Hi-Lo, knocking me down below half the starting stack. I pulled back a little on the next hand with 23TA, making two pair with the ace and deuce for a chop of the high hand and taking all of the low because I had the trey.

My “garbage hand” 3297 not only gave me the low on the next hand but it made a ten-high straight, beating the eight-high of my opponent. I won parts of the next several pots and by the time we hit Razz, I was back up over 1,200 chips. I won one pot in Razz, but I’d crashed back to 680 chips by the time Stud began.

A set of threes (with one hidden) pushed me back into contention for a bit, but a full house in Stud Hi-Lo brought me down.

Thirty minutes, 40 hands. 1,802nd of 2,955 entries.

Down to the Wire

The end of the year approaches and Poker Mutant got in a batch of games the past couple of days. Not exactly good games….

Carbon Poker $200 Freeroll (1,000 chips)

Skated around the starting stack for a dozen hands, then grabbed a few hundred chips only to lose several hundred with the second pair. Got all-in three-way pre-flop with KT against 8K and QA. A 7J8 flop made most of my straight draw but meant I wanted it kept low. T for the turn put me in the lead but made the upper straight draw very bad. The river was Q and knocked me out.

Twelve minutes, 22 hands. 3,207th of 4,216 players.

Carbon Poker $200 HORSE Freeroll (1,000 chips)

Got off to a good start here in Hold’em in the third hand with KT against my nemesis (see above) QA. Made a king-high straight on the turn and  collected 350 chips. A few hands later my opponent hit bottom two pair on the flop, I had top pair and made another on the turn. That pot turned into over 1,000 chips.

My chip advantage had melted away by the time the first four hands of Omaha8 were over, though, and by the time we started Razz I was down to 525.

I won small amounts in three hands there but started Stud with only 380 chips and limits at 100/200. There was a completion (A showing)  and a call (K) ahead of me, I had J8 down and 8 showing. Two of the other jacks were showing. J called after me, and four of us made it to fourth street. Showing there was J6, A2, K6, and 82 for me. The ace bet 100, the king called, I raised to 200, the other jack called, then the ace raised to 300. The king folded, I put in my last 70 chips, and the other jack called. The ace picked up 2 on fifth street, I got 3, and the jack got 7. The ace’s bet of 200 blew off the jack and we were heads up for the main pot. The final showdown was my J88232A against T4A2297 and my two pair was good for a pot of 1,415 chips.

A few hands later I was all-in with two pair on sixth street, up against a better two pair and an ace-high straight that got there on seventh street.

Twenty-three minutes, 39 hands. 2,277th of 2,911 players.

The Final Table $1,000 Guarantee, +$200 First Place (6,000 chips)

Re-buys are just so seductively attractive. I know I shouldn’t do them. Yet here I was at another Final Table tournament, re-buying and adding on even though it would likely be unprofitable unless I won third place or better.

 Two hours and forty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 21st of 45 entries.

The Final Table Omaha 8 (5,000 chips)

Bought into this after I’d busted out of the $1K and chipped up nicely enough before the break with a couple of sneaky straights that I didn’t bother to add on. That was probably just as well, since I busted halfway through the first level after the break.

Thirty minutes. -100% ROI. 26th of 28 entries.

The Final Table $1,000 Guarantee No Rebuy (6,000 chips)

Got all-in in the first round with the worst of three hands. I wasn’t the only KO. Took me longer to drive there than I played, and I was driving fast. The less said the better.

Five minutes. -100% ROI. Somewhere in the twenties, but they were still signing up players.

Encore Club 2-7 Triple Draw (5,000 chips)

I headed to Encore intending to (try to) get the bitter taste of defeat out of my mouth by getting in their $1K guarantee game, but manager S inveigled me into the Tuesday mixed game which was supposed to have started at 7 but was waiting for someone else to sign up forty-five minutes later. I’m a sucker, I admit it. With six players there was no chance of making a decent ROI, but how often do you get the chance to play 2-7 in Portland?

I sat down to the table with S, J—a player I’d mentioned in my write-up of the $10K I won at Encore, and L, both of latter of whom appeared to be at least semi-pros. There were a couple of other guys at at the table as well. Things got off to a bit of a rocky start with the guy on my immediate left who seemed to be getting increasingly upset over trivial matters and ended up storming off to demand his money back after just a few minutes.

I did reasonably well in the early stages of the game and managed to outlast two of the players , but bubbled after just about two hours. L had built up a big stack and even through I managed to decent qualifying hands while she was drawing against me, she managed to get there and eventually busted me. I sat and talked to J as they played it out about playing the WSOP Circuit at The Bike in LA next month and the advantages of the Venetian Deep Stack I vs. the LAPC in early February. We’ll have to see how things go, if I get lucky maybe his comments will be relevant. (J eventually won).

Two hours. -100% ROI. Third of five players.

Encore Club $500 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

This was another one of those games where you sort of want to snark at the people giving you poker “advice” that the need to give such advice is a result of a deep sexual insecurity. I drew out on the player to my immediate right twice in quick succession. A hyperactive guy on the far end of the table was predicting doom and gloom on my head. L (see above) was seated at the same table and we were pretty friendly, I thought. She was picking up chips (including some from me). Eventually I shoved with 48 on a double-spaded board and a pair of fours with a player ahead of me all-in for considerably less. L called from position and opened up with A6. I was good until the river when my second pair (8) gave L a straight. SH—a regular Encore player—on my left started muttering about how people were “flush-happy”. I pointed out that I had a pair on the flop and straight draw potential—even a back-door straight flush—but that didn’t make him happy and there was general carping all around. Ah, well. I re-bought and continued on.

I had to suppress my laughter when, on the last hand before the break, SH shoved everything in from the button and L called him from the BB with a much larger stack. Even if she hadn’t flipped over AxAx, the fact that SH put his stack at risk for the blinds with Ax4x after complaining about my flush draw call was ludicrous. A4o is at best a 3:2 hand against any two cards between 5x and Kx. It’s a 1:2 dog against any pair other than treys or deuces.

85 minutes. -100% ROI. 29th of 34 players.

Hot and Heavy

The Final Table $1,000 Guarantee, +$200 for 1st (6,000 chips)

A very appealing tournament, with the house adding $200 to first place. How can you not afford to play it?

I came in hot a few hands into the game with 4x9x making a straight and taking a couple thousand off of one of the players at the other end of the table. Then I lost it all on the next hand hitting top pair on a Qx6x4x board when I ran into QxQx. I re-bought just as JB sat down on my right in the #1 seat.

As more players arrived, I was moved to an expansion table and settled into my normal rhythm of ups and downs. I had about twice the average stack of 8,000 at the first break, then added on for another 5,000. Post-break, post re-buys, I was slipping and down to around 12,500 when I picked up TxTx as BB and pushed over the top of a large pre-flop raise by SB. It was a race between my tens and his AxJx and he caught it on the river to knock me out.

Three hours and twenty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 24th of 38 players.

D’s Dealer’s Choice

Probably the less said about tonight the better. I did introduce a couple of new games to the mix:

  • Juarez. Double-flop, double-turn, single-river Pot Limit Omaha 8OB.
  • Double-Barreled Shotgun. Limit 5-Card Draw with betting rounds after the third, fourth, and fifth cards are dealt, after the draw, and after each player-selected card is exposed.

That last comes out of Poker: The Nation’s Most Fascinating Card Game, published in 1950 by The United States Playing Card Company of Cincinnati.