Take On the OG Challenge

It was four years ago this month that Bluff magazine profiled Chadd Baker, the then-new owner of Portland Players Club, the original poker room in Portland. There had been rumors over the past year or so that Chadd was looking to move on to new opportunities (and, presumably, to spend more time with his new daughter), but yesterday he posted this on Facebook (and a link on the club’s web site):

4+ years and 4,452 Poker Tournaments.

It’s been an amazing, tough, and eye opening experience being my own boss, but I’m ready to take on a new challenge.

The Players Club was a great opportunity for me and now I’m looking to hand over the reigns to someone who has a passion for poker, and the drive to be successful.

The ideal someone is a self-starter, wants to be their own boss, and is 100% reliable. If you’re interested in a new and exciting opportunity as a small business owner, this may be your gig. Lots to sit down and talk about, so much opportunity ahead for the right person.


8+ years of Portland Poker History.

Inspired persons may send emails to PlayersClubPDX@yahoo.com
send a PM to The Players Club.

Serious inquiries will be responded to

I’ve had a fondness for PPC ever since just after Black Friday, when my first trip back there under Chadd’s management resulted in a win over an 80-entry field. He’s run a great place for low-budget players to play, with door fees of only $5 if you get there before noon, and an 11am freeroll tournament that’s been a stepping-stone and fallback for a lot of limited bankrolls. He’s put in a huge amount of work to keep the place running, and it’s still the go-to room for anyone interested in non-Hold’em games, with Big O tournaments running a couple times a day (there’s a $2K guarantee, $250 buyin Big O tournament this Saturday), HORSE and other specialty tournaments on Sundays, and innovations that none of the other clubs in town seem to be able to handle. The dealers who’ve come through the place have been some of the best: they have to be, because of the quantity of cards they deal and their hand reading for four and five-card games, plus high/low games.

A great opportunity for someone with a lot of drive and dedication to the game.

They Say the Definition of Madness Is Doing the Same Thing and Expecting a Different Result

Same club, same tournament on consecutive days. We’re down to the bubble at the final table.

On the first day, I’m doing OK. Not hugely stacked, but pretty comfortable. A discussion has been brewing about paying a double bubble, but seat 1 is against it, the pot’s too small. Then he loses a chunk and he’s one of the short stacks.

He’s on the bubble in a hand where action folds to him and he shoves all-in. The small blind re-shoves for somewhere over 20K. I’m in the big blind with about twice that. I’ve got [kx kx]. I don’t even think about throwing them away, so you?

I’m up against [ax 6x] and [ax 9x]. The board runs out a straight to the nine, and I’m down to around 20K, which doesn’t sound so bad, except blinds are 3K/6K. I end up out in fifth place and don’t even make the bubble money. If I’d folded the kings I would likely have made second or third at least.

The next day, we’re at to six players and the bubble. A small stack in the middle of the pack goes all-in, one of the chip leaders calls him, and once again, I’m in the big blind with [kx kx].  I have to think long (well, it felt like a long time) and hard about it before I make the call. I could easily be out again, since I’m covered. This time, though, the kings are good, I triple up and end up in the final chop.


pot•mon•key [‘pät-məŋ-kÄ“]. A poker player—particularly in Omaha tournaments—who consistently raises by the maximum amount as their first action.

I played three Pot Limit games yesterday, starting with a straight PLO High, then a PLO High-Low, and culminating in a mixed Hold’em/Omaha High-Low game (all at Portland Players Club) and expanded my observations on what I’m now referring to as “potmonkeys.”

No, not the Urban Dictionary definition of the term. But there are certain players in nearly every four- (and five-) card game I’ve sat in on who seem to think the proper strategy is to jam chips into the pot and hope that people will fold to them.

I know a couple of players for whom a variant of that strategy works. They pick hands and positions in Pot Limit games, bet them to the max, and consistently amass large stacks early on, re-buying so long as they have the option.

There are other players who seem to have only picked up the jamming strategy, however, and they bets against the wall (hence potmonkeys) on every hand they play. It makes them somewhat exploitable to the player who’s willing to play against the textbook.

Players overestimate the strength of their hands all the time. The odds in Hold’em are fairly well known by regular players, but people don’t seem to understand them sometimes. Having the best hand doesn’t mean you’ve got a lock on the chips. And in Omaha, odds are less known, much less understood.

Take, for example, the matchup between a player holding what’s considered the best starting hand in Omaha High-Low against a horrible hand: [as ah 2s 3h] v. [qs 9h 2d 2c]. The player with aces has the nut flush draws in two of four suits, potential nut lows, draws to straights and straight flush hands, top pair, etc. The second player has only a pair of deuces, with one of his outs for a set locked up the first player’s hand. They have no flush possibilities, and a two-gapper for their only straight draw. There’s no chance of picking up a low pot. Looks like they’re a goner, doesn’t it? But in this near-worst case scenario, the second player still has a 14% chance to scoop the pot, and 20% to win the high side of a split pot. The first player scoops 80% of the time, but that’s against a hand deliberately chosen as a loser.

Would you play [th 9h 5h 4h]? Seems like a lot of hearts already in the hand. Its chances against [as ah 2s 3h] are 20% for the scoop and 37% for the high hand. It’s marginally worse against  [as ah 2s 2h], where the hand’s double-paired as well as double-suited.

Pre-flop, yes, most hands are 4:1 dogs against double-paired, double-suited aces or  [as ah 2s 3h], but particularly in early stages of the tournament where their ability to build the pot is constrained by the size of the blinds, potmonkeys can be constrained by players willing to suffer some blows to see the flop and turn the tables.

Something About Aces

Won my first tournament of the year today (well, chopped it, anyway).

It was a low-stakes freeroll, I bought the optional add-on at registration, so I’d started off with T4,000 about forty minutes into the game and blinds at 100/200. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many suited connectors and one-gappers in my life, and I played a few without getting anywhere, then managed to back into two flushes that netted me large numbers of chips. By the break, I had more than T18,000 and didn’t bother to do he add-on.

The pivotal hand for me came while we were still at two tables, with about a dozen players. A young player with a big stack was moved over and he shoved over my mid-position raise. I had [7x 7x], and thought he was shoving with [ax kx] (a common mistake, for me), but he turned over the pair: [ax ax]. He had my T26,000 covered, so I more than doubled when a straight landed on the river.

In situations like this, there’s always muttering about “two-outers”, but the reality is different. Against mid-range pair,s aces have about a 20% chance of being cracked, heads-up. With five cards to come, the simpler calculations of odds for post-flop odds are useless, and it’s much smarter to take the line that while an 80% hand is very strong, it’s still got a decent chance of losing.

First Hands

Interesting (to me, at least) starts to the last two tournaments I’ve played.

Yesterday, on my first hand, I picked up [ad 8d] and called a small raise from early position, only to see a flop of [qx 8x 8x]. I called a continuation bet on the flop, then raised on the turn and managed to eat up half a starting stack when my trips beat pocket aces. I wish I’d pushed a bit harder, after we broke to three tables, I ended up giving a bunch of chips to the same player before chipping up again then losing everything in an attempt to push someone off a pot with my flush draw.

Today, I didn’t play a hand for nearly the entire first level. Close to the start of level 2, “Little Bill” (featured at the end of this Bluff article about PPC) sat down on my right; the last time I’d seen him months before, he was shouting drunkenly at my car from across the street while I was at a stoplight. He raised UTG to 150. I had [9x 9x] and re-raised to 400. There were calls from the middle of the pack and SB. The flop was a rainbow [7x 8x 9x]. SB bet 150 into a pot with more than ten times that in it. Bill raised to 1,000. I shoved for close to 4,000. SB and “LB” called. SB had [tx 3x] for an up-and-down straight draw, but LB had the made low straight with unsuited [5x 6x]. The turn [tx] put all sorts of chopping possibilities on the board, but [3x] for the river gave Little Bill nearly 12,000 chips at the beginning of level 2. Not so little after all.

Player Hand Pre-Flop Flop
[7x 8x 9x]


Poker Mutant [9x 9x] 59% win 36% win / 2% tie 21% win / 17% tie
Little Bill [5x 6x] 16% win 41% win / 2% tie 62% win / 17% tie WINNER
SB [tx 3x] 25% win 22% win / 2% tie 6% win / 17% tie

Leveling Out Back East

Fall 2012 Wildhorse Poker Round-Up Events #1 and #2 (10,000)
Final Table $1,000 Guarantee (8,000) 

All of the bracelets to be awarded during the Fall 2012 Wildhorse Poker Round-Up.

I headed out to Pendleton for the first two events of the Fall Poker Round-Up last weekend. Drove out first thing in the morning on Friday and after three-and-a-half hours made it to the casino with plenty of time to spare before the tournament started. That was a good thing, because I’d been bought in by the folks at Portland Players Club, but the folks at the tournament window didn’t seem to know quite what to do about pre-paid entries and folks started backing up behind me while the two ladies in the office worked through it. Just a few minutes later, the line was stretching down the hall, and by the time  Event #1 began, we were already twenty minutes past noon.

The first event didn’t go well for me. I hadn’t factored in the antes kicking in as aggressively as they did; in level three when they first appear (100/200/25), they’re only 1/8 the big blind, but by level six (200/400/75) they’ve jumped to half-again as much. I rode a short stack through the second break, then busted before dinner. My last hand, I had [qs js], action folded to SB, he went all-in and I called only to be up against [ax ax]. I’m sure he was crestfallen not to get any action for his aces. My little stack made up for it a bit.

Saturday’s game went quite a bit better. For a while. I ramped up the aggression, and a combination of that, some good cards, and a different mix of players at the table, put me in the position of one of the big stacks for most of my time in the game. I’d doubled up by the first break; just two hours in (level 4) I had enough chips that I rode [as 4s] down to the river with straight and flush draws to catch a trey and knock a player out. He went off and started in about how I was a “shitty” player. I mentally composed my response for the next time that happens and I’m raking in someone’s chips: “I know, I know. It’s like a fucking curse.” That put me over 31,000 chips. I was still there and table leader with just 50 big blinds when we got to level 7 (300/600/75), which gives you an idea of the kind of jeopardy a lot of the other stacks were in. Now, if I could just avoid doing anything stupid. I figured I was 30% of the way to the average stack when we got to the money. I raised to 1,600 from middle position with [ad qc] and got a call from BB, a guy I think I had just about managed to call off his stack a little earlier with a suspiciously-large bet when I held top set on the flop. The flop fell [4c 6c tc], I continued with a bet of 2,000, he re-raised 4,000, and I called. My thinking was he definitely had a club, quite possibly [ac]. I figured that even if he had two lower clubs and a made flush, there was a possibility that my queen could be best if a higher club hit. The turn card was [qh] and it was my downfall. I checked, he shoved in over 16,000, and I managed to convince myself that he had [ac kx]. I could beat that. What I couldn’t beat was [ac 5c], which is what he actually had. Stupid call that cost me 2/3 of my stack and put me down to less than 20bb. I didn’t last to dinner that game, either.

Haven’t had much time to play in town since Pendleton this week, but I did get into one game at The Final Table. Took a chance early on with a suited connector and tripled up, then was over 55,000 on the first break (average was 11,800). Didn’t bother with the add-on. I flirted briefly with 100,000, but started bleeding chips and by the time I finally made it to the 10-handed final table I was the short stack. The first round of blinds at final left me with just about 14,000 on my big blind, at 2,000/4,000/500. A limp and a raise ahead of me, and I shoved with ace-something, which got called by the raiser. I caught my card and tripled up to about 40,000, which actually put me ahead of a couple other stacks. Players started going bust right after that, and I managed to find my way to some chips, so that when we hit the money, I had nearly 100,000 and was a distant second from the big stack at the other end. The player who had doubled me up from my short stack got the bubble payout but nobody was talking about a chop because of the size of the big stack. Then I raised early (heck, everything’s early five-handed) with [5h 7h] and got called by the big stack on BTN (who was raising or calling everything, naturally). The flop was [tx 9x 6x], and I checked it. BB shoved. I had just the door and buy-in invested in the tournament so I was making a decent profit whatever happened. I called against top pair, hit my eight, and made it to chip leader. Then we chopped.

Back out to Pendleton in the morning for the Main Event!

Five hours. Five-way chop in 39 entries. +933% ROI.

Oregon @WSOP 2012

Jake Balsiger (left), at the 2012 WSOP Main Event with Greg Merson (center) and Jesse Sylvia. Photo via Hockgepokert.

The final table of the 2012 Main Event is over and despite coming close, Jake Balsiger didn’t manage to get out of last place three-handed long enough to shrink that ever-narrowing gap between eligibility to play in Las Vegas casinos and Joe Cada’s current standing as the youngest winner of the big title. One of the talking points about Balsiger was that—although he graduated from high school and attends college in Phoenix, Arizona—he’s a native of Portland.

Naturally, that got me wondering about how the rest of the state’s contingent of poker players did during this year’s WSOP. I turned once again to the dueling WSOP databases of wsopdb.com and the QuadJacks WSOP database (and, of course, the official WSOP site) for some unpaid, self-entertaining research. (An aside, this would be a lot faster if I could get access to the databases themselves instead of having to collate and cross-check incomplete data from multiple front-end sources, but my efforts seem to get lost in the noise.) Bear in mind that all of the results I’m working with are my best effort, not absolute reality; the databases have omissions and errors, but I’ve done my best to correct invalid information I’ve run across. Due to the limitations of the data collected by the WSOP itself, I’ve focused only on Oregon and haven’t included the Clark County portion of the Portland metro area. Sorry, Vancouverites, if you want stats from across the Columbia, you’re going to have to crank them yourself (or pay me).

What Did We Play?

By my count, there were 303 individuals from Oregon who entered WSOP ring events this year. We entered every bracelet event except for:

  • #7 ($1,500 Seven-Card Stud)
  • #10 ($5,000 Seven-Card Stud)
  • #17 (Pot-Limit Hold’em)
  • #22 (2-7 Triple Draw Lowball)
  • #32 ($10,000 H.O.R.S.E.)
  • #34 ($5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha / Six-Handed)
  • #37 ($2,500 Eight-Game Mix)
  • #39 ($10,000 Pot-Limit Omaha)
  • #42 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven-Card Stud Hi-Low 8 or Better)
  • #45 ($50,000 The Poker Players Championship)
  • #55 ($1,000,000 The Big One for One Drop — No-Limit Hold’em)
  • #60 ($10,000 2-7 Draw Lowball)

That’s 49 of the 61 bracelet events, which includes #1 ($560 Casino Employees No-Limit Hold’em) getting 3 Oregon entries. Apparently, Oregon players don’t much care for 2-7 Lowball games (though I played a brief game of Triple Draw at Encore one evening with JB and SG and had a good time although I bubbled) or million-dollar buy-ins.

The event that drew the largest number of Oregonians was #29 ($1,000 Seniors No-Limit Hold’em Championship), with 53 entries in a field of 4,128 (1.28%). Yet that wasn’t the highest participation rate. The seniors event this year was enormous—the largest single starting day for a tournament in poker history—and even half-century worth of aging Oregonians didn’t quite match the percentages who came for #43 ($1,500 No-Limit Hold’em) which got 37 entries and #44 ($1,000 No-Limit Hold’em) which got 40, for 1.34% and 1.36% of the field, respectively.

Oregon poker players stepped up to 1.5% of the field in #51 ($1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold-em Championship). 14 of 936 entries was outmatched only by the seven players who jumped into #35 (Mixed Hold’em, Limit/No-Limit) to pump the O up to 1.78% of the field. Sadly, only 12 of the entrants were actually women, with a couple of serious WSOP players adding the Ladies event to their list of 10+ entries. I was there during the tournament and when the subject of guys playing the event came up—as it did a number of times—not a single person elicited any sympathy for the idea of men playing in the women’s tournament. I’m not naming names, but you know who you are, Cody and Steve. So the number of actual Oregon women in the Ladies event was only 12.8%.

The lowest rate of participation (that wasn’t 0%) was 0.21% for the single Oregon player who entered #57 (No-Limit Hold’em / Six Handed). Median participation rate in events with Oregon entries (where half the events are higher and half are lower) was 0.78%. Main Event participation was 41 of 6,598 entries: 0.62%.

217 of the Oregon players played just a single WSOP bracelet event. Ten played only the Main Event. Most of the single-entries were in regular $1,000 buy-in events or the similarly-priced Seniors and Ladies events (the 3 entrants to the Casino Employees event only needed to pay $560) but a number of singletons (60) chose to punch a little higher into the $1,500 bracket (including H.O.R.S.E. and NLHE 6-Max games), and a handful of others went up to $2,500 or $3,000 for their big shots.

69 players entered between 2 and 5 bracelet events. Only 8 held the middle ground between 6 and 10 events. Ten Oregonians played between 11 and 19 WSOP bracelet events in 2012.

How Did We Do?

Sad to say, the facts of poker are such that only a small number of players make the money and even fewer make a profit. The good news is, 59 of the 303 Oregon players I found in the databases cashed at least once during the WSOP this year. That’s 19.5%. Those players accounted for 81 cashes out of a total 627 entries, meaning that the ITM rate of the group was 12.9%. That’s relatively in line with the 13.2% average ITM I calculated for 2011 WSOP final tableists back before this year’s events began (and it’s better than a random distribution of 10% payout structures).

24 of the single-entry players cashed. At 11.1% that’s lower than the state contingent as a whole, but the good thing is that each of those players has a positive ROI—even if it’s small in some cases—for their ride on the WSOP wheel. Because the grim truth is—as I pointed out in the June analysis—many of the pros who buy in to multiple events have a negative return on their WSOP investment even when they cash. The 2011 final table sample group had a 41% negative cash flow rate among players who entered 10 or more tournaments and cashed at least once. For Oregon players in 2012, 39 of the 59 cashing players had a profit at the end of the series (33% had negative ROI), but if you remove the two dozen single-entry players, the numbers are 15 profitable players among 35 players who cashed. 57% of that group showed a loss for the series. Looking at just the players with 10 or more entries: 4 profits in 11 cashing players (64% losing).

Is There An Upside?

One Oregon player got a real bang for his thousand bucks this year. A player from Bonanza—near Klamath Falls—entered #59 ($1,000 No-Limit Hold’em) just before the beginning of the Main Event and made it to 6th place in a field of 4,620 for a payday of $120,748. Five other single-entry players made profits between $5,000 and $16,000. The others were all profits of $3,500 or less.

Only one of the 22 cashing players with 2 to 8 entries made more than $10,000 in profit. Alexander Beck of Happy Valley cashed twice in six events—including nearly $33,000 for a 372nd-place finish in the Main Event—ending the series with more than $21,500 in profit. 49 of the players with 2 to 8 entries didn’t cash. 12 of the 22 cashing players lost between $76 and $20,000.

Two Oregonians with 9 or more entries were the bright lights of the hard-core poker players this year.

Greg Hobson took first in #49 (Ante-Only No-Limit Hold’em), winning the bracelet and $256,691 (and, combined with former Portlander Jeffrey Dobrin’s WSOP Circuit ring win back in January, making the city a powerhouse of ante-only, for whatever that’s worth). It was Hobson’s only cash in ten entries. Hobson’s entry illustrates one of the issues with tracking information on poker players, the official WSOP entry list for the event says he’s from Portland, which is also what’s on all of his other entry forms for both 2011 and 2012, but the official final report says Alaska.

Jamie Robbins, also from Oregon?, was the most visible player from the state, making it to the last three tables of the Main Event, and busting in 19th place for $294,601. Robbins’s entry sheets say Portland, a 2009 interview with Card Player says San Diego, and ESPN’s coverage of Robbins’s madman bluff of Stephen Gee has him living in Lake Tahoe. Ironically (from an Oregon connection standpoint), Jake Balsiger was the player who knocked him out. He’s a power player who finished 11th at the Main Event in 2009. A $6,142 cash in #36 ($3,000 Pot-Limit Omaha) is logged to Portland, the Main Event cash is logged to Lake Tahoe, California.

Robbins and Hobson are the only Oregon players who played more than one event with six-figure profits. 15 players entered 9 or more events. All but one of them (a player with 13 entries) cashed at least once. Only four other players from the group were profitable, however, by amounts of $497, $3,851, $26,294, and $26,552. The other players with nine or more entries who cashed (and the one who didn’t) ended the series with losses between around $1,500 and $38,500.

What’s It All Mean?

Beats me. Even with 19.5% of the players cashing, the average profit for Oregon players at the WSOP this year was a meagre $3,177. Most players who entered more than one event and cashed still lost money. Poker is a harsh mistress, maybe?

I’m headed to Pendleton for the Wildhorse Fall Poker Round-Up this weekend and next, after winning a seat to the Main Event there at the wonderful Portland Players Club. Let the cards fall where they may….

Poker Mutant goes to the 2012 Pendleton Poker Round-Up Main Event.

Home, Again

I wasn’t sure how I was going to make my return to Portland poker after my unproductive stint in Las Vegas. I thought about the Thursday night game at the Encore Club, but skipped it, then was too busy early Saturday evening to make starting time for the weekly $10K there. By the time I was free, the first break would have already begun, and there was no way I could make it across town. So the 9pm $200 Freeroll at Portland Players Club it was.

Except that when I got there the door was locked and there was a sign saying they were closed for the evening. Yikes! I was on the loose, Encore wouldn’t have a game open for an hour, I was probably too late to make the 8pm at Aces. It just left the dreaded Final Table. So I high-tailed it out Glisan.

The Final Table $400 Guarantee NLHE (T4,000)

I got to Final Table just as Level 1 was ending and took a seat at the empty second table. I had to wait a couple of minutes for the first table to be split, and were started off five-handed.

Took the first hand I played (at 50/100), from SB with [ax tx]. There were three players to the flop, the highest card on the board by the turn was a 9, and I bet 100 to win the poison pot, so you know where this story’s going.

Fifteen minutes into my game, I got [ax jx] on BTN and open-raised to 300, getting called by SB. BB went all-in for 3,000. I had him covered by 75 and went all-in, and SB came along. They flipped over [kx qx] (SB) and [ax tx] (BB). I had the best hand, but I was statistically a hair behind the [kx qx]. The flop put out a wheel draw of [2x 3x 5x] , but the turn was a king, sending my hopes into a tailspin. The river brought relief with a [4x], though, and BB and I chopped up the pot, with me getting an extra 75 for my trouble.

Five minutes later, on BB with [ax jx] and I called 550 from UTG1 (same guy who’d been BB in the split). UTG (who’d had the money in the pot when we chopped it) came along again. The flop was [2x 3x 4x] and I mischievously shoved to open. UTG1 called with [ax qx] but the board double-paired and we split the pot again.

Ten minutes later, I wasn’t so lucky. I was all-in UTG1 with [ax jx] after losing a hand and the same player I’d been tangling with called with [kx jx] He pulled out a straight on the river and I broke the No Re-buy Rule.

I stopped keeping notes after that, wondering if I’d do any better paying more overt attention to what was going on, but it didn’t help. By the break I was down to a half starting stack again, and I lost most of my add-on in a single hand, so I was riding the short stack through to the final table (I did manage to outlast the guy I’d been tangling with).

Made a couple of crucial double-ups, but I was still under T10,000 after nearly three hours of play, with blinds at 1,500/3,000/300. I shoved UTG with [ah qh] and got a quick call from UTG1, who’d been steadily accumulating chips all evening with sometimes marginal (but lucrative) calls. Her [kx tx] did it again, making Broadway and putting me out of the first tournament I’d played in ten days.

Two hours and twenty minutes (late arrival). Eighth of 21 players.

Final Table NLHE Shootout

I’m not normally a shootout player, but I was roped into this one and since I’d been knocked out of the tournament twice by hands that I had beat by 3:1 or 2:1, I viewed it as an opportunity to use up some more of that great luck. I never managed to get ahead far in the game, but I ended up just a few dollars down, and managed to qualify for the high hand bonus for the evening when my pocket tens matched up with a rivered ten to make the best full house possible on the board. So, up a little for the evening because of a fluke.

No Bracelet For You!

43rd World Series of Poker Event #44 (T3,000)

I picked up my ticket for Event #44 the night before the three-day game, getting assigned to seat 9 on table 56, in the Brasilia Room. Here’s my starting table, according to wsopdb.com:

John Falon – Lone Tree, CO, US – 56 / 1
Michael Lehner – ITHACA, MI, US – 56 / 2
Andrew Klivan – NEW YORK, NY, US – 56 / 3
Adam Geyer – AUSTIN, TX, US – 56 / 4
Corina Lupascu – BUCHAREST, , RO – 56 / 5
Ivan Demidov – MOSCOW, RU – 56 / 6
James Purdom – Horn Lake, MS, US – 56 / 7
Keven Stammen – CELINA, OH, US – 56 / 8
Poker Mutant – Portland, OR, US – 56 / 9
Cory Parent – RICHMOND, BC, CA – 56 / 10

Not everyone was there at the start of action. If I remember correctly, both seats on each side of me were open to begin with, while the far end of the table was more or less full. Notice any names that stand out? Let me just point out seat 6, the runner-up in the 2008 WSOP Main Event (to Peter Eastgate) with nearly seven million dollars in lifetime tournament earnings. Seat 4 was no slouch, himself, with more than $1.5 million and at least four WSOP final tables. The guy who’d sit down late on my right had a bracelet. So, some good company to begin with.

I began the match in my usual manner, losing ground with [ax 7x] and [ax qx] in the first ten minutes. Even T250 lost makes a difference with stacks of T3,000, but the blinds were only 25/25 in the first hour, so still 110 big blinds! Those 11am free rolls with T4,000 and the same blinds to start at Portland Players Club teach you something.

I won my first small pot with [ax jx] after hitting the top pair on the flop from UTG1, then as BB with [6c 7c] I folded a gutshot. On SB with [kx 7x] and middle pair on the flop, folded to a bet after [ax] on the turn. Twenty minutes in, on BTN and T2,575. Wheee!

My UTG  just before the half-hour was a crucial hand. [ax ax] and I min-raised to 50. Lupascu re-raised me to 150. I three-bet to 450 and she four-bet to 900. I shoved, she flipped [kx kx] and my aces held. She actually had fewer chips than I did, and I performed the first knockout from the table. Easy to win with aces.

On BTN six minutes later with [kd jd] and there were four to the flop after a raise to 50. I made top two, bet 125, and won.

UTG on the next round with [jd jx], I raised to 75. BB called. The flop was queen-high with two hearts. Another heart on the turn. I called a bet of 250 on the river and beat ace high. 45 minutes in to the tournament and I had T5,625, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s closing in on twice starting stack.

SB [6s 7s] and I called 75 in a three-way hand. The flop had two spades, I bet 150 and took it down. T5,775 on CO.

Lost my first showdown with [ks 2s] as CO. I flopped straight and flush draws and raised to 175, then called 350. The turn was a blank and [tx] on the river made a full house for [jx tx]. I ended the first hour as HJ with T5,375.

UTG2 and [ax jx]. Blinds were 25/50. I raised to 125, BB re-raised to 400. short-stacked UTG called, I called, and the flop was [qs 8s 8x]. UTG bet 700 and BB and I folded.

UTG and I was down to T4650. Picking up [7c 2c] wasn’t going to do me any good.

[ah td] in CO and I called a raise to 100 in a 5-way hand. The flop was [th 9d 6h]. I bet 300, BB raised to 700. UTG went all-in and I folded. [kx tx] won with top pair v [8h 9h]. I was free-falling and hit HJ with T4,075.

Just before the end of the second hour, I screwed up playing [3x 4x] and dropped to T3,600. Then, just before the break on BTN, I called a SB raise to 425 with [ax jx] and whiffed the fold, leaving me with just T3,125.

Coming back, with [tx tx] in HJ, I called 450, then folded on a king-high flop and all-in.

Called 100 with [kx tx] to see the flop with two other players and bet 235 on a [ax tx 5x] flop. We both checked the [qx] turn. The river was [2x], BB bet 400 and I called; he had me beat from the get-go with [ax 2x].

Down to T1,925 UTG after two and three-quarters hours.

Put my last small-denomination chips into the pot as BTN playing [qd 5d] hoping to catch something, but was down to T1,500 as CO.

I shoved over a raise of 260 with [kx jx] from HJ and took a pot, finally, getting to T1,900 UTG4, but it was only a few minutes into the third hour when I got involved in a  3-way shovefest with [2x 2x] against [7x 7x] and [ax ax] and was knocked out.



Among all the other anniversaries over the past couple of weeks was another, close to home. While the blog anniversary was January 1, yesterday marked one year since I won first place in my first large-ish tournament, a PPC promotional freeroll with about 80 players. Another good placement a couple days later–and Black Friday a few weeks earlier–gave me the impetus to play more live poker.