Twenty Kay

Final Table $20K Guarantee NLHE (T10,000)

I’ve had some success in Final Table’s $10K tournaments over the past year, but in fourteen outings, I’d never been able to crack one of their bigger events until last night. They run a $20K the first Friday of the month. In months like May, with a fifth Friday, they run another, so you get the nice benefit of big tournaments for low buy-ins in consecutive weeks, this year just in time for the summer Vegas poker blowout.

The game didn’t get off to an auspicious start, with the tournament software crashing just after the start of the second 25-minute level. The staff apparently hadn’t saved the game file, so even though things started off on time at 6pm, the tedious task of going through and figuring out who was where took over 20 minutes; we were just lucky that the crash didn’t happen further into the tournament after a bunch of rebuys, or after the break when add-ons were in play.

My game started off decently but then I took a big hit and was down to 60% of the starting stack. The turning point for me was a lucky river Qx when I was all-in pre-flop with queens against kings. Lost most of my add-on after the break, but then floated pocket nines on a flop with two kings and made a full house on the turn, which got me all-in against trip kings.

I kept on hitting sets through the night. Four hours in, just after the second break, a player who’d shown two pocket pairs of aces and a pair of kings ended up all-in against me with QxJx against my flopped set of tens, a hand that pushed me up to 110,000. Five minutes later, I didn’t make much money but won a hand with flopped quad nines.

I yo-yoed down to 70,000, up to 90,000, and back down to 60,000. Then luck struck again and I was all-in pre-flop with 9x9x against KxJx. The flop was AxQxJx and I was shoving my chips forward until I saw the dealer pushing the pot and the other player’s chips toward me, because I’d hit a flush. That put me back over 100,000.

A button raise while we were six-handed at four tables was a gift. I raised from HJ with AxKx and got a call from BB. The flop was A86 and I shoved, despite not having a spade. BB dialoged and tried to get me to answer questions, before finally calling after several minutes with AxQx, also without a spade. For most of his stack. I couldn’t complain.

An hour later, seven-and-a-half hours into the game, action folds to short-stacked SB, who shoves with Ax6x. I have AxKx and call and knock him out, putting me up to 240,000. We hit the money bubble about ten minutes later.

The tournament chip leader was on my immediate right at two tables, and he was raising liberally. Eventually, I shoved on him with QxQx and he called with AxKx. First card in the window was an ace, but the queen followed right behind and the rest of the board was low, doubling me up to the point where I had about a fifth of the 3.1M chips in play when we got to the 10-handed final table.

A couple deals were floated, but there were holdouts for each one. Typically, because of IRS reporting rules, the prize pool gets chopped up so the players make less than $5K each, under the reporting trigger point, but not tonight.

I was up to 900K at six-handed. The last point where an even chop of the money was less than $5K was at 4-handed, but the fourth player went out without a deal.

I shoved KxQx from SB and got called by the short stack in BB with AxKx, then had to play the shortie myself, though to be true, nobody was particularly deep-stacked at 25,000/50,000/5,000 and only 60BB between the three of us. I still had about 10BB.

My last hand was Tx4x in BB. The big stack limped in from the SB and I should have shoved, knowing that I couldn’t do any worse than third place and that he was likely pretty light, but I neglected to do it and thought I might be good with a ten-high un-coordinated flop. He checked and I shoved, but got Brunsoned when his Tx2x had flopped two pair. Like I said, I couldn’t do any worse than third at that point.

Only about half the payout I would have liked. With other events putting a brake on my earnings the past month, my summer Vegas bankroll isn’t where it needs to be, but I’m still hoping to catch the end of the WSOP.

Ten hours and thirty minutes. 3rd of 156 entries. 1563% ROI.

Run Silent, Run Deep

Big tournaments in Portland poker over the next couple of weeks, with both Aces Players Club and The Final Table celebrating anniversaries, and a general gearing-up of the community for the upcoming summer series.

Portland Players Club WSOP Seat $5,000 Guarantee (8,000 chips)

I got off to a very hot start Friday night, sitting down a couple of hands in, picking up AxAx on my second hand, then going up against a player who sat at seat 2 a couple minutes after me. I’d picked up a premium QxQx and raised with nothing higher than a nine on the flop and we both put more money in. Another queen hit on the turn and he shoved, getting a call from me. A seven on the river made a set for his 7x7x but my set of queens held—with a river queen putting me on the high hand board—and he re-bought after his first hand. Funny story about that.

Fifty minutes into the game, and I was up to 22,400, more than three times the starting stack. Then I lost 1,900 in a couple calls with 9T and KxQx. I knocked out one of the PPC regulars with a 3x7x in SB when I caught a little of the 3x2x6x flop. G thought he was safe with his 4x4x, and he was through the 2x on the turn, but the river 7x sealed his fate and he re-bought. Ninety minutes in and I was at 25,750.

I made it as high as 29,400 before the first break, but I called an all-in on a flop of A4 with 25 against 4x4x and failed to catch another diamond, so I only had 21,900 before the T8,000 add-on.

I kept up my occasional calls with low suited gaps but lost 1,500 calling pre-flop as BB with 36 and another 600 as SB with 26.

About three hours in, I doubled up with a set of sixes against one of the larger stacks, putting me at 52,935, with the chip average at about 22,000.

8x8x held up against an all-in from a very short stack holding Ax9x, making up for losses to blinds and antes; I was at 52,000 even after the chip-up on the next break. There were 93 of 132 entries remaining after three-and-a-half hours, with 50 re-buys and 104 add-ons.

Half-an-hour later, with blinds up at 400/800/100, the number of players had dropped to 78. The average stack was 29,333: 36BB or (since we were 10-handed) an M-ratio of just 13, already in Dan Harrington’s “yellow zone” where small suited connectors and pairs lose value. I was sitting on 63,900 ten minutes after the top of the hour, when the average was 30,506.

I raised with the heart version of the Mutant Jack and took down the blinds and antes without a fight, then finally knocked out G with QxJx when I made two pair.

At the next break, four-and-a-half hours in, I had 86,600 (34,149 average) with 67 players left. Just 49 to go before the money.

I lost a big chunk of ground calling an all-in with JQ against KxJx. The board nearly gave me both a flush and a straight, but the better hand held out. Five-and-a-quarter hours in to the game, I was at 66,500, with the average creeping up under me to 40,140.

Then I hit the high hand board again when KxKx made quads (with an ace kicker), knocking out another player and putting me up to 97,000.

79 took in a lot of chips , hitting two pair on the flop and a full house on the turn. When the clock struck midnight after six hours of play, I had 142,300, not quite three times the 52,000 average, with 40 players left.

The spade Mutant Jack (AJ) failed me against 9x9x, and I lost 30,000 chips about twenty minutes later, then I shoved over two raises with TxTx to take the pot and managed to pull myself back up to 124,500 (average 65,700) just before the middle of the seventh hour. Blinds were 2,000/4,000/500; there were 35 players left.

Just after the half-hour, I lost calling an all-in with QxQx against 9x9x when the nine showed on the flop, taking me down 26,600.

Just ten minutes later, nines almost did me in again when I had AxQx. She made a set on the turn but a Tx on the river made me Broadway and I knocked out another player.

Playing KT from SB, I lost 8,500 to see the flop. Everyone checked the turn but I couldn’t pay the 8,000 to see if there was a jack on the river and the board was too clubby for me.

The next break was at the end of seven hours of play, and I had 139,000. We were down to three tables (exactly 27 players), with the average stack at 84,740 and blinds going up to 3,000/6,000/500 (14BB, M-ratio of 6; mine was a paltry ten). With those kinds of numbers, the winnowing was taking place pretty fast. The money bubble was burst in just twenty minutes.

The Poker Mutant deep in thought, wondering how he can get back on an even keel.

I hadn’t found any opportunities to build up, however, and my stack had slipped to 110,500, with the chip average finally overtaking me to 127,111.

I blew 31,000 with Q8 going up against Ax8x and ten minutes after making the money I was down to just 75,500. I shoved with KxJx and won the blinds and a call, then went all-in again with KQ half-an-hour later, just before the blinds went up to 8,000/16,000/2.000.

There were 13 players left. My table had six players—so the blinds were coming around rather quickly—and there were a couple of very big stacks, including the guy I’d knocked out with quad queens back on his first hand. I had 87,500.

Half-an hour later, I was still alive as the final table was made. Three of the players were original players at my starting table. I was the second-shortest stack at the table. I shoved with roughly a quarter of my stack in the pot as BB on the first hand—I didn’t record what with—and was beat.

The first-place winner was the guy I took out with quad queens on his first hand.

Eight hours and forty-five minutes. +193% ROI. 9th of 132 entries.

Aces Players Club 2nd Anniversary $20,000 Guarantee Freezeout (20,000 chips)

This was the big-money game of the weekend. Running at full capacity and with people buying in after bustouts, there was no way the prize pool for this event wasn’t going to swell far beyond the guarantee (the PPC event prize pool was twice the guarantee itself). I bought the 8,000 chip preliminary add-on, so like most players, I was starting with 28,000 chips.

I laid low for the first fifteen minutes, picking up 7x7x as UTG1. I lost about 1,000 when a player with an ace made a pair on the turn and I bowed out.

6T gave me the inclination to raise, and I sort of liked the Qx9x8x flop, but Ax and 2x on the turn and river left me cold and QxTx won the hand.

Lost some more with King Salmon (K7) when I paired my seven on the flop but the turn brought in a flush possibility for my opponent and I folded.

Called 800 from SB with KxJx but folded to a raise to 5,000.

Forty minutes in and I hadn’t won anything and was down to 23,475.

On the last hand before the first break, I called a pre-flop raise to 1,200 with Q9 and caught an open-ended straight flush on the flop of TJ5x. I brazenly shoved after a 5x on the turn and everyone folded.

With the 8,000 extra add-on, I started the next session with 42,200, up a little over 6,000 from what I’d bought in for.

With AxKx in the SB and a KxTxTx flop, I folded with 7,500 in the pot to a 40,000+ all-in bet. Another player called and the winner was AxTx over 7xTx.

I stayed pretty quiet through the next half-hour; at the ninety minute mark I hadn’t won any more but I was still holding at 40,300. The final stats were in for the game: 153 entries, 148 players still in, 253 add-ons (both pre-game and at break), and a total pot of $43,250.

I knocked out a player playing with 36. I hit bottom pair and a flush draw on the flop and called his all-in of 9,000. He showed KxQx for a higher pair but my flush card came on the turn.

Ten minutes later, I had 8x8x on BTN and raised, getting re-raised by BB. I called and we saw a flop of Qx7x2x. I put him on AxKx, which was a big mistake, and I shoved to give the impression I’d hit a set, but he had KxKx and I was out 41,200 chips, leaving me with just 13,500. This was the mistake that probably kept me out of the money in this tournament.

Fifteen minutes later, that had dwindled to 6,900. I went into cornered wolverine mode (again), shoving with JT from CO and winning the blinds. 8,100 chips.

Payouts went up on the board. 22 places were getting money, with the top five prizes initially set at $12,555, $8,330, $4,995, $3,330, and $2,080. Things were getting serious.

I was all-in on two consecutive hands. FIrst with KQ. I was called by QxJx and doubled up. Then I shoved AxJx over two calls and won with no showdown. People started complaining, but I’d managed to build back up to the starting stack, at least. Average stack was nearly 39,000 chips, though.

On the first hand after the next break, I had KxKx in BB and shoved over several calls to take the pot. 21,300 chips with 130 players left.

I picked up a couple of hands with 9Ts and KJo, then the blinds went to 1,000/2,000/200. With only 27,800 (120 players left), I had a critical M-ratio of less than 6. That’s the “red zone.”

All-in again as UTG1 with AxQx. At least I was picking up some decent shoving hands. 28,400 chips after going through the blinds.

Three hours into the game, the blinds jumped to 1,200/2,400/300. Another round of blinds and antes and I was down to 22,600 (M-ratio: 3.5). Just 101 players left.

Shoved again with Ax9x and took the blinds. The next time they passed through I was down to 23,000.

I finally picked up a significant number of chips in an all-in battle against a shorter stack with KJ against his QxJx. Three-and-a-half hours in, I had 46,500 (average stack: 60,523).

83 players left ten minutes later.

8x8x failed me again, this time from SB when I called a 15,000 chip all-in against Kx9x. The nine hit on the flop. I’d picked up some other chips along the way, though, so I was actually sitting on 26,500.

Just short of four hours in, half the field was gone. Only 72 players remained, with blinds going up to 2,000/4,000/500.

I rode out the blinds again and was down to 36,500 (average 72,628), still securely in the red zone. At the four hour mark, I shoved over a call as UTG2 with JxTx and took the pot again. The pot was enough to put me up to 50,000 (65 left, average 78,215).

I shoved as BB over the SB call as my last act at my starting table before I was moved. I got there with 57,500 chips, only 69% of the average stack, and with blinds at 3,000/6,000/500; an M-ratio of 4.2.

My first act at my new seat was on BTN and I shoved with J9. The 13,500 chips in the pot from blinds and antes was substantial in comparison with my stack.

Just a couple minutes later, I made an actual bet of 17,000 with AxQx and induced folds. I’d worked my way up to 65,500 (50 players left, average stack: 101,680).

The next break began just after I’d gone through the blinds. I had 55,500—barely more than half the average stack—and blinds were going to be starting up at 4,000/8,000/1,000, leaving me with an M-ratio of just 2.6. Again. 49 players left.

The big stack at our table was dominating from the other end. I went all-in over a raise from him with KxQx and I still had enough chips to get him to fold. That popped me up to 87,000 (average 105,916) briefly.

I raised to 20K with A9 UTG. BB called. The flop was king-high, there were no spades, and I folded to an all-in.

Another round of blinds took me down to 51,000.

The big stack wasn’t liking my shoves any more than the other table had. I was all-in again against his raise and he folded, saying he had KxQx. I (probably mistakenly) flipped over my KxQx.

43 players left as we approached the five-hour mark. I had 68,000 chips left and needed a double-up badly.

I was playing so tight I folded QT UTG.

My final hand was against the big stack. He finally called my all-in (this time with KxJx) and he had 6x6x, which held up. I think he probably would have called even if I hadn’t showed on the previous hand.

The call with the eights against the kings was significant. I never made it back up to the chip average after that point, although I managed to stay in play for another three hours plus.

Five hours and fifteen minutes. 38th of 153 players.

Comebacks and Failures

Wildhorse Spring 2012 Poker Round Up 2012 Event #2 No Limit Hold’em (10,000 chips)

It took me a little bit to figure out where my table was Saturday, after blowing out of one satellite early and then getting $100 out of a 3-way chop in a second. I was on one of the tables up on the stage at one end of the main tournament room, once again well out of sight lines to any tournament clocks.

In the first twenty minutes, I was dealt 9x9x UTG twice and raised only to encounter horrible flops and laid them down to post-flop action. Between that and other hands I entered—with reasonably playable cards—I was down 800 chips.

By forty-five minutes in, I’d managed to win a hand with AT and then lose some with the same hand. Then I lost more getting tricky with K3 and was down to 8,350.

If you get 7x7x on BB, what do you get for the flop when you call a raise? AxJx9x. No. Down to 7,900 on the hour.

Thought I might make a little back with Q9 and two queens on the flop. Unfortunately, a jack on the board was the only other hight card, so I lost to QxTx instead of chopping.

I saw a flop of 5x42 with K5 and called an all-in who just had Tx4x. He binked a ten on the turn and I was down to just 3,000 chips just eighty minutes into the game.

Immediately, I went into cornered wolverine mode and when I managed to connect to a flop on the next hand, I shoved and made it up to 3,700. I had some regrets folding Qx9x and seeing the flop put out JxTx8x a couple minutes later, but after losing the hand earlier, I was a little shy of what I’m calling “the mini-Butcher.”

Just before the first break, I was dealt QxQx on BB and shoved over a raise ahead of me. The raiser called and showed a suited ace, but lost the pot and I was left a little more breathing space with 6,700 chips.

One of the players from my table in Event #1 was seated on my immediate right at this table, and he was in bad shape. He shoved about fifteen minutes into the second session, and I called him with AxKx. His KxQx made a king-high straight on the flop, putting me in bad shape, but I caught a two-outer with a queen on the turn to make Broadway and zoom up to the stratospheric level of 8,250 chips.

Ten minutes later, I was back over the starting stack. About that time, another player from our table busted and another player mentioned that he was Tam Nguyen, the all-time money winner at the Wildhorse Poker Round-Up.

Two big pre-glop pots brewed up something good for me. I played KJ and made two pair against Ax[kx[][who][just][paired][the][king,][then][hit][an][ace][on][the][flop][with][my][own][AxKx calling an all-in of 4,700 with another caller. Forty-five minutes after the break, I was up to 22,500 and over the chip average.

I raised three calls at 150/30/25 to 1,200 with 8x8x on BTN, got a call, then bet again on the flop and took it down. Then I lost some chips but missed a bullet when the river of a hand where I had QT and a flush draw slowed down the action and revealed my opponent had a king-high flush. I was still over 20,000.

As we were getting to fours hours in, I min-raised with KxKx and a short-stacked player shoved. I called him and beat his 9x9x, putting me up to 24,800. Then I blew 6,000 and change calling with A8 after three diamonds showed on the flop. No more heats ever came. At 250 minutes, I was sitting on 21,575.

Then, when QxJx never went anywhere with a flop of AxKxJx, I was broken right back down below starting stack, to 9,975. Back to wolverine mode.

I waited until I picked up TxTx about 280 minutes in. There were pre-flop raises to 2,500 and I shoved, getting called by AxQx. That doubled me up to 20,650. Set-mining was getting costly, and I lost 2,400 in two hands calling wit 3x3x and 6x6x. Then I made the mistake of calling a 3,000 bet from BB with J8.

My own experience with over cards against TxTx fared about as well as my earlier opponents’ did. A short stack across the table shoved and I thought he had a low pair. I was right in that my QJ were both overs, but nothing came through for me and I was down to just 2,500 at the five hour mark. That was an M (or CSI, if you prefer) of 0.8.

The guy who’d doubled up against me and I went into a sort of war just before the dinner break. He shoved, and I called with Ax5x, making two pair against his 6x6x, then I called his all-in with just T7. He showed AxKx, but not only did I pair the seven, but I made a straight by the river, which cut him back considerably.

The glow from a third comeback wasn’t to last long, though. At least, not much longer than the dinner break. About ten minutes into the session, I shipped with AxQx over a 5,000 raise by a player who’d been playing a lot of suited connectors, much to the detriment of other stacks at the table. This time, he had KxKx. I hit a Qx, but never improved beyond that and was out.

Six hours and fifteen minutes. ~180th of 478 entries. $95,732 pot.

Wildhorse Spring 2012 Poker Round Up 2012 Event #3 No Limit Hold’em Shootout (10,000 chips)

I sat down at the table Sunday and tournament director K from The Final table was the dealer. While it’s always nice to see a familiar face, I have to point out that my track record in tournaments at TFT is not good. For whatever reason, my performance at other venues is far better. Not that I actually believe the dealers have anything to do with it, but if you were the kind of person who did take omens and portents seriously….

Once again, I tok the poison pot. In fact, I took the first two hands with ease. I lost some chips to post-flop bets, but I was holding my own ahead of the starting stack a quarter hour in when a woman who’d been at one of my tables in Event 1 was eliminated on a very loose all-in shove. I was sorry to see all her chips go across the table. To someone else.

I picked up a pot with JxJx, even with an ace on the flop, lost 500 with the Mutant Jack against AxQx with nothing on the board higher than a ten. Then I pushed with 8x8x from late position nd won heads-up against the SB with J96x on the flop. Half an hour in, I was at 10,450.

My first big mistake was calling a 3,000 post-flop raise with a Broadway draw needing a ten. Just after the first hour, I was down to 6,325.

I raised UTG with TxTx and got shoved on by a slightly larger stack in BTN. I called him and he flipped TxTx. Nobody flushed and we chopped the 300 chips in blinds.

I didn’t even bother to record what my last hand was. All I know is that it was before the break.

Eighty minutes. 228 entries.

Tomorrow’s the Limit Omaha Hi-Lo tournament. I hope I do better than I’ve been doing in cash games. In one this afternoon, I was down to 10% of my buy-in, then managed to get up to 160% in almost no time. I should have pushed back and taken my profit, but I almost felt like I owed it to stay in a while longer because I’d hardly been there for twenty minutes. I need to put those types of feelings aside, because I ended up felted after another near-bust, recovery, and bust. Like I told the players at the tournament, I’m a master of the short-stack comeback, but that’s not exactly something you want to have to be good at.

Pulling the Trigger

A Saturday chop at Encore sent me into a scramble to catch the tail end of the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza I, in the hopes of chipping up my couple of thousand to something bigger. Obligations at home kept me from taking off until Wednesday night, so I missed the a couple of games I would have liked to play—like the $460 Big Bounty and $350 PLO/PLO8 game on Tuesday—but I caught an afternoon flight and made it down to Las Vegas, finally getting into the hotel about 9pm, then having to wait in line for half an hour to check in.

I was far too late for the last entry stage of the 7pm $175 daily tournament by the time I dumped my stuff off in my room at the Imperial Palace, but I figured I’d wander up to see where the tournament area had been moved, in The Palazzo, then figure out what to do. It was about a fifteen or twenty-minute walk from the IP, depending on how fast you were going and how many people were on the street. I briefly considered playing the 10pm, but figured I’d rather be rested for the noon $350, so I just bought my ticket and wandered back to The Venetian to see what I could find in the way of a cash game. Nothing open but Hold’em; I put my name on the board for the 1-2 PLO (I figured it would be practice for the Triple Barrel tournament) and 1-2 Big ‘O’, since the waits for Omaha8 were exceedingly long. Then I sat. And sat. Finally, just before midnight, I was called for Big ‘O’, which I’d played in tournaments but never for more than a single hand in a dealer’s choice cash game. Just after I sat down, my name came up for PLO and I stupidly gave it up, then proceeded to bust out of the Big ‘O’ game in about ten minutes. At least I got a few hands of poker in for the day. Went back to the IP and got a few hours of sleep after that.

Venetian 2012 Deep Stack Extravaganza I Event 27 $350 No Limit Hold’em

No surprise, but all of the DSE merchandise was gone by the middle of the last week. I got my food voucher and headed early to me seat.

We started off with 12,000 chips in this tournament. The players were pretty sparse in the first minutes, and most of the early birds looked like they were older than me. The “Internet kids” weren’t there yet. Are there still Internet kids in the post-Black Friday American poker scene?

Played Q4 on my second hand and made Broadway on the turn to take in a pot of nearly 5,000 chips, then lost ground on a flush draw that knocked me below 13,000.

AxQx. Play it or not? According to PokerListings, Daniel Negreanu’s nickname for the hand was “1.4”, based on how many millions of dollars he’d lost on it. It didn’t cost me that much but it took pre-flop raises by AxKx and KxKx in close succession to get me bak as high as 10,000 chips. Just to show I hadn’t learned my lesson, I made top pair with AxQx shortly after that, but my top pair didn’t look good in the face of four to a straight on the board.

With one exception (see later) my back always seems to be toward tournament clocks, no matter where I’m playing, and this time was no exception. Time wasn’t going to be on my side either way, with me going too far out on a limb with 9x9x and a board with two overs. I was right in figuring my opponent hadn’t hit the board with two over cards to my pair, but I was wrong about his hand strength: KxKx. THat took me down to 7,000 chips.

Another misstep with A2 dropped me down to 5,000 when AxAx came calling. Lost some more with what I’m calling the “mini-Butcher” (Qx9x) against 8x8x, then called a re-raise with QxJx and found myself with just 2,650 about an hour and forty minutes in.

I raised with KxJx and found myself with a gutshot straight on the flop, hitting the queen I needed on the turn and going all-in to win a pot of 2,000 chips. That pushed me up to 3,600. Another KxJx cost me when I had to lay down or go all in after the turn with an up-and-down straight draw. Shortly before the break, I shoved with A6 and got a call from AxKx but pulled out a flush and doubled to 4,825.

After the break,the first hand I folded Tx7x on BTN—usually something I’d play from that position as long as the cost of entry wasn’t too big—then I watched my 9x6x8x roll out on the flop. Fifteen minutes after the end of break, I was all-in with AT after a 9xAx9x flop and got one call, but it only made up ground I’d been losing, putting me just under 5,000 chips.

UTG with 4x4x, I called a raise to 800 and got a flop with all diamonds. I didn’t have one and folded to a post-flop bet. My last hand was against 4x4x. My AxJx went nowhere and I was out.

Two hours and forty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 220th of 278 players. $80,481 prize pool.

Venetian 2012 Deep Stack Extravaganza I Event 28 $350 Triple Barrel Pot Limit Omaha

The Triple Barrel format gives you 4,000 in chips and two lammers worth 4,000 chips each that can be put into play at any time prior to the end of the first break. I’d first seen the Triple Barrel format on television during the 2011 WSOP Heads-Up Championship match between Jake Cody and Yevgeniy Timoshenko. Between that and the fact that I only have limited experience in PLO, I was chalking this one up to a learning experience.

My neighbor to my right took the big stack strategy, electing to start off with 12,000 chips. I stuck with my small stack, although I think he may have had a better idea of what he was doing than me. Regardless of my inexperience, I was the first person at the table to win a pot after four straight take-downs by the woman in seat nine. On her first pot, the older guy on my left says something about her scooping the pot. I think he’s making a joke, but an hour into the game several of us are talking and he says it took a while for him to realize that we weren’t playing Hi-Lo, because there weren’t any qualifying lows on the board.

I lost my first stack about forty-five minutes in, with two pair and a straight draw against a lower straight draw who called my repot raise and caught his card on the river.

Fifteen minutes into the second barrel and it was down to 2,575 as well. Then I had nut flush and open-ended straight draws on the flop and three of us went all in. I tripled up to 8,150 chips, which combined with my remaining lammer put me ahead of the starting stack, slightly.

I folded out post-flop with an up-and-down draw with lots of action developing. The 3x on the river would have made my straight and won the pot for me. I was down a bit, but hit a set of sixes and bet the pot to win a hand. I still had 7,500 and a lammer. Once again, the tournament clock was behind me.

Just about two hours in and I had two pair on the flop, but running kings on the turn and river don’t make them look so good and I have to lay my chips down, which drops me to 2,400 and a bullet. I cash in my lammer at the break and have just 8,950 chips left.

During the break, one of the guys at my table mentions that a player at the other end is WSOP bracelet-winner Eric Baldwin. And Eli Elezra‘s at the next table over.

I’m starting to run on fumes, though. I have two pair and am good to the turn, but I can’t shake the big stack next to me and he sticks through to the river to catch a better two pair, leaving me with just 4,125.

Half-an-hour after the break, my doom awaits. I try to lay a trap holding the king-high flush on the flop and check, then call a raise from the big stack on my right that put me all-in against a full house. Before I left, I got confirmation from the big stack that his ideal strategy for Triple Barrel is to cash out at the beginning. And get great cards.

Three hours and thirty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 42nd of 66 players. $19,107 prize pool.

Venetian 2012 Deep Stack Extravaganza I Event 28 $120 Nightly No Limit Hold’em

I went and had dinner, then wandered back to the IP to lick my wounds and call Ms. Poker Mutant. I avoided the Venetian cash room after my Big ‘O’ drubbing of the night before, and made it back to The Palazzo in time for the 10pm $120 tournament. Half the field of 106 was gone already in the 7pm $175 tournament after just three hours.

The vibe at the night table was very different from the afternoon games. There’d been plenty of talking and jokes at both the earlier tournaments—everyone had a pretty good laugh with the guy who told everyone he’d started the PLO game thinking it was PLO8—but the woman who sat in seat 1 at my table called over to a friend at the next table that they were playing for “Strip club money, baby!” And that pretty much set the tone for the rest of the game. She was gone in relatively short order, but a friend of hers who I shall refer to as The Ape, got sat a spot from my left, then proceeded to shove all-in with Kx2x over a couple of raises, only to bust out, buy back in, and sit down at the other table.

Meanwhile, I’d played 85 and made top pair on the flop but let a guy get to the river who was trying to bet me off. He caught his ace on the river and thirty-five minutes in I was down to 4,600 from the starting stack of 8,000.

Fifteen minutes later, I picked up QxQx on BTN and am hoping for some major action. Instead, everyone folds to me, I raise and one of the blinds comes along. Another queen shows on the flop and I make a small raise and the blind folds, gaining me only 500 chips.

A8 made middle pair and I kept betting, which eventually won me the hand and put my stack up to 6,450. A loss knocked me down to 5,125 by seventy-five minutes, then an attempt to protect my button but me down to 3,950.

At least I could see the tournament clock. The 10pm seems to be the bastard child of the Deep Stack Extravaganza, so we got a kitchen timer.

On the break, I checked around the other tournaments still running at 11:30pm. The Triple Barrel had 12 players left, there were only 29 of the 7pm players still in. And there were still 29 in from the noon $350 game.

The Ape had busted out of the game again and been moved back to the same seat he’d been in before. He actually accumulated some chips this time, but he seemed to have a beef with the guy on his left. He claimed to have a “last-longer” bet with one of his other friends in the tournament, the value of which started off at $2,000, then changed at some point to $1,000. Top prize was only about $950, and I was wishing that they’d take their strip club money and head out.

Once action was going again, middle pair and 48 worked for me, then I picked up a couple more hands, which put me in a position where I could fold a raise of 1,000 holding AQ to an all-in and still have 12,225 chips left. Then A7 making a flush on the flop after I raised to 800 pre-flop and got two calls. A 1,500 bet post-flop scared them away.

I’ve never called a clock on anyone in my life before, but The Ape got into a Phil Hellmuth-like tirade with the guy on his left, going on about how he’d promised to tell him “a story.” It went on and on, with everyone at the table seeming to be wishing they (or he) were anywhere else. The floor seemed to be very reluctant to actually put the clock in play; apparently The Ape is a regular player. A little later, when he was busted out, he just sat there for a couple minutes and the table was completely silent.

Two and a quarter hours in, I lost some ground with a suited JxTx when I missed an up-and-down straight and flush draw. I still had over 10,000 chips, but the blinds were getting large. Half and hour later, they’d chopped me down to 7,200.

I’d just gone through the blinds on table 2 when the final table was made and I got stuck just ahead of the blinds again. I had nothing playable, and was down to 5,100 chips when I was on the button again.

I was UTG and about to hit the blinds again at 800/1,600/100 when I looked down at QxQx. Naturally, I was all in, and just as naturally, not too many people were concerned about calling my stack of about 4,500 chips. Two callers: one with AxKx and the other with 4x4x. The ace hit on the flop and I was done for the day.

Three hours. -100% ROI. 8th of 24 players.

Venetian 2012 Deep Stack Extravaganza I Event 27 $560 No Limit Hold’em

I headed over to The Palazzo for breakfast Friday morning in my suit and tie, then wandered over the bridge to The Wynn to look around. Nothing but expensive shops. I tried to find an alternative route back, but the valet would have none of it, steering me back to the bridge.

Feeling a little thirsty after my excursion, I stepped into the Grand Lux Cafe to have a Diet Coke that was indeed “lux” at $3.51 for a 20 oz. bottle. As I was on my way out, one of the guys at the counter asked me where I’d gotten my shoes. I told him Portland was crawling with Nike outlets and mentioned that I’d gotten them because 2 and 3 were my favorite pair of cards, a little joke I’d thought of earlier in the morning.

I got the security guard near the dragon in the Palazzo gallery to take my picture in full regalia for the day, and when I sat down early for the $560 got to chatting with the dealer and told her my joke about playing that day because I was suited. She laughed and said that was an original one to her, which made me happy. Also, 15,000 in chips.

My first hand in the match, I had A2 UTG and folded after three clubs came on the flop. Another suited ace just a couple minutes later (A5) on the BB made the middle pair and I won with 5s and 7s and the ace kicker. Up to 18,050 less than 10 minutes in.

I lost some ground fishing for a flush with A[td,][then][played][A3 because of the joke about the shoes and caught a pair of threes and a flush draw. I re-raised post-flop by 4,000 chips and ended up beating KxJx with the pair.

Twenty minutes in, and I was up by nearly 6,000 chips.

Just past the half-hour mark, I have Ax7x and see a 7x7x9x flop. There are two raises ahead of me and I pop it to 4,000. Seat 1 goes all-in, the players between us get out, and I call. He has 6x7x, I have him covered, and my kicker holds. He’s out.

Almost immediately, my KxJx makes a straight and I take another big pot. I’m up to 47,000 chips forty minutes into the match.

With KxQx, I call a pre-flop three-bet of 2,400 and hit the up-and-down straight draw, then shove and take the pot. Then The Butcher (QxTx) hits a flush draw and I semi-bluff everyone off that pot. Eighty minutes in and I’m over 54,000 chips.

I lose several thousand trying for an inside straight draw with 89. Down to 52,450 with the chip average at 17,250 at one hour and forty-five minutes.

I’d read a section in an article on the way down about amateur players who get big stacks in large tournaments having a tendency to rein in their play for fear of losing their chip advantage. And despite the fact that I’d read that just two days prior, it’s exactly what I did here and—more importantly—in another hand in this tournament. I’ve described what happened here to a couple of people who say that my actions don’t sound like me, and I don’t think I’m giving too much away by saying they’re not what I would normally do.

I was on BTN with A5 and called a raise to 450 just past the two hour mark. SB went all in for 6,500, getting two callers. None of them had much more than the starting stack, but I folded, only to watch a straight to the six roll out on the flop. A pair won the hand; I could have potentially knocked out three players.

At the break, I had 48,775 chips. A few late comers put the number of entries up to 222, with a prize pool of $107,115 and a top prize of $25,709 with 27 paid.

I took down to hands in a row with spade flush draws and raises post-flop and was back over 50,000 fifteen minutes after the break was over.

My biggest mistake came at the three hour mark. The player who’d won the hand where I folded the straight was later pointed out to me as Randy Dorfman. I had 6x6x and got to the flop of 5x6x7x. I was pleased, but we checked it around to the A turn, which put two diamonds on the board. A player to my right raised, I re-raised to 7,000, then Dorfman shoved all-in for another 20,000 chips. The initial raiser went all-in for less, and in the face of a flush draw or a made straight, I folded, even though if I’d lost, I still would have had more than the average stack. Dorfman flipped over 5x5x for the lesser set and the other player shoed a couple of diamonds, but no diamond on the river meant Dorfman took the pot. It was a good bet, but the old Poker Mutant would never have folded that set.

I called a small all-in ten minutes later with KT, got two other callers, and hit trip kings by the river to make up some ground. 61,000 chips with the average at 21,000.

I stuck to another pair of sixes (66) that made a club flush on the turn. It wasn’t a great flush, but it was good enough to put me over 65,000.

Lost 5,000 with 6T and middle pair on the flop, but still had nearly three times the average stack of 22,000.

About an hour after he picked off my winning sixes, Dorfman got chopped down trying to get fancy with the player on my left, who I believe was this guy, making someone other than me the table chip leader for the first time in a couple of hours. Dorfman busted out almost immediately to another player on my end of the table.

With two large rival chip stacks on left, I didn’t have quite the free reign I’d had before. I lost 14,000 on a flush draw that cut me down to 50,000 before the second break. We had 102 players to go before the money.

I got very lucky in SB with J8 about four hours and forty-five minutes in. The flop hits 868. I check, a guy after me bets 1,800, and I shove way over his stack. He thinks for a bit then calls with 6x9x and just a couple of outs. I win and have about 90,000 chips.

I called an all-in by the player who knocked out Dorfman with Qx9x and a gutshot straight to the king. The hole in the straight fills in on the river, but the J also completes a flush for my opponent and he doubles.

My suited Ax2x loses in a flush draw next when KxQx makes a set. I’m down to 57,000.

The stack I doubled up is now larger than me. I have the bottom end of a four-card straight on the board and push, but he has the top end and knocks me out in 119th place.

Five hours and fifteen minutes. -100% ROI. 119th of 222 players.

I had another day before I was scheduled to return to Portland, but I decided to husband the last bit of my winnings from the Encore game and headed back to the IP, got my reservation bumped up a day, then hightailed it to the airport and home to start building up for the next attempt. If I can manage it, I want to hit The Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles for Winnin’ o’ the Green series mid-month, possibly with a trip to the WSOP Circuit at Harrah’s Rincon north of San Diego.

He’s a Caller!

Encore Club $250 Freeroll

Wandered down for the freeroll since I’d already paid the door fee when I picked up my ticket for the $25K game. Don’t remember where I went wrong.

Two hours and thirty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 24th of 65 players.

Encore Club Freezeout

The 2pm freezeout game was already forty minutes in when I busted out of the freeroll, but I got into it anyway and managed to get through most of the fild. I was the short stack as it got short-handed and I called with two overs on my last hand. As usual, if I’d waited, I might have made more money, because the next player out was right behind me.

Three hours. +112% ROI. 4th of 24 players.

Encore Club $25,000 Guarantee

It was really a rogue’s gallery at my table. I’d taken a break to go home and grab something to eat after the 2pm game, so I missed the first couple of hands. DV from my home game was improbably seated at the same table. DTwho’d been at my first $10K final table–was a couple seats on my left. Regular winner JL was on my immediate right. The guy who’d taken first in the Tournament of Champions where I came in second, DM, was sitting on DV‘s right. And directly across the table from me in seat 1 was Angry Old Tattooed Guy, who’d been sooo much fun to play with at Final Table’s Santa Bounty game.

Things got off to a phenomenal start within the first orbit. I’d won a couple of small pots already when I picked up QxQx. I raised from late-middle position, DT re-raised and I eventually called an all-in. He just had 9x9x and my queens held through the river, breaking him down to practically nothing (he’d picked up a pot or two himself). Meanwhile, I had more than doubled my starting stack. DT kept repeating “You got my number” for a couple of minutes. After he eventually busted out, he kept coming back to check on his chips, which was both funny and a little distracting.

I wasn’t able to make much traction with the big stack, though. I got decent if not premium hands, but every pot I entered with a call or raise, got picked off, mostly by DM, either with a large-re-raise or a large bet after a flop that he seemed to have a good feel hadn’t connected. He seemed particularly adept at that. My stack dwindled back down to starting stack and below before the break.

Finally, I decided to call him on it. I bet large with AxQx pre-flop and we went to the river before he pushed all-in. I hadn’t connected but I called and he put his cards on the table face-down. He was busted to less than 4,000 chips. AOTG picked this point in the game to go ballistic, berating DM for trying to bluff me, hoarsely yelling “You know he’s a caller!” across the table. I should have kept my mouth shut, but I could hardly resist the urge to (as PPC reg DL puts it “tap the fish tank”) and explained that DM had been picking off raises all through the game and that I’d figured it was time to test him. AOTG would have none of it (surprise!) and just talked over me. I could swear I heard JL on my right doing something like “la-la-la” with his headphones on.

Not too long after that, I pushed over 50,000 chips (about two times the average) by bluffing the heck out of 2x2x on a 9xAx9x flop.

My final hand was a doozy. I had AT and re-raised pre-flop to 10,000. A player on my left with a larger stack went all-in and got a call from a slightly smaller stack on my right. There was something like 120,000 chips in the middle, it was going to cost me 40,000 and the tournament to call, so I did. Both of the other players flipped over KxKx. I was actually in better shape than if I was up against just one pair of kings or even two different pocket pairs. A 1 in 3 chance to win it all. It just didn’t happen.

My name is Poker Mutant. I’m a caller.

Three hours and twenty minutes. -100% ROI. 107th of 150 players.

What Has It Got In Its Pocketses?

Portland Players Club $250 Freeroll

I’ve been through a recent drought of pocket pairs, but the skies broke yesterday and rained them down on me to both good and bad effect. I started the day off at PPC and was sat at table 2, seat 4, a couple places to the right of DL. I struggled for a bit, then busted and re-bought, while DL began to amass a goodly stack of chips, over 20,000 by the first break. Seat 2 had a player I’d been up against once before who seemed to have been having some recent success at PPC; seat 9 was a tight player who kept exclaiming over the hands he’d laid down when he saw what people were raising (and winning) with.

The re-buy and add-on gave me a little breathing room, and then the cards started coming. I took a couple big chunks out of DL‘s stack, almost knocked out seat 2, and was stealing a lot of chips off the table. DL then lost the last of his pink 1,000 chips to me in a pot that had over 30,000 chips in it.

A PPC regular who can’t seem to hold his legs still—except for when he’s heads-up waiting for the cards to drop—was moved in-between DL and myself and started pushing all-in on my raises. We eventually got to a hand where I had 97 and hit my flush on the turn. The board paired on the river making a couple of likely full houses, though, and I raised big. He folded his J8 face up and said he couldn’t call. I flipped over my lower flush and he seemed to tilt a bit. I picked off his chips shortly thereafter.

One hundred minutes in, I was sitting pretty on over 50,000 chips, more than a fifth of the chips in play, with about 14 players left. Seat 8 went all-in after a raise from my AxAx, naturally I called, he flipped over KxKx and then hit a king on the flop. A much bigger axe hit my stack because of a stupid call on my part with KJ. The tight player in seat 9 shoved with 15,000 chips and I called. He showed aces. A club on the river would have made me a flush and probably unleashed a torrent of invective, but it was a bad risk on my part and I could have held onto the chip lead if I’d given it some more thought.

It was downhill after that, with my stack back in the average territory. Don’t even remember the hand I went out on.

Three hours. -100% ROI. 10th of 29 players.

2011/12 Puffmammy Poker Tour Event #16

This game got off to a very wacky start, not just for me. WA was dealing the first hand to me UTG and it was AxAx. Naturally, I raised. A couple folks came along, including DV. I eventually walked DV alone down to the river for close to half his stack. An ace hit the board, he had two pair, but my set crushed him.

On WA‘s next deal, he gave me aces again. Again, I got some significant chippage out of it. Not, however, anything close to the kind of windfall KB made. He felted both DV and WA in record time, and proceeded to begin the building of a chip wall.

Meanwhile, I picked up queens, I picked up nines, then queens again. KB busted three of the four players who re-bought; I busted the other. Then he took out four permanently while I took out two. I made one incredibly lucky boneheaded move with T8 and shoved all-in when I thought there were two clubs on the board. When I was called and we flipped for the showdown, people were scratching their heads since I didn’t have a pair and one of the “clubs” was a spade. Fortunately, I got running clubs on the turn and river to make the flush.

For most of the match, it looked like KB had an insurmountable chip lead. But even though he’d performed most of the knockouts, I’d been doing a lot of damage to players that set them up for those knockouts. When we got to heads-up play three hours into the game, it wasn’t as lop-sided as it might have looked half an hour earlier. With 25,000 chips in play and blinds still at 150/300/25, it looked like we might be in for a long night of it.

As always, luck and stupid mistakes are everything in poker. Early on, I picked up another pair of queens and was prepared to raise the heck out of the pot post-flop if it didn’t have anything scary. It was far from scary, it was: QxQx7x. Then KB decided to push me around and went all-in. I called and flipped my quads over. It wasn’t enough to knock him out, but he was hurting. I played it very cautious, dropping a lot of chips back into his hands against his all-ins. One call I did make with KxTx, he showed QxJx. I made two pair but a nine on the river made his straight. Eventually, though, another queen took him down.

Three hours and fifteen minutes. +343% ROI. First of 8 players.

Aces Players Club Shootout

I went by Aces intending to play the 10pm game but half-an-hour past starting time I was the first person to show up for it. That isn’t the Aces I remember. There was a final table finishing up for what must have been the six o’clock game. No tables for the eight (unless that was the eight’s final), and a single shootout table. Against my better judgment, I got into the shootout. Had a J2 early on and raised with it, got a couple calls, had a gut-shot straight draw and folded to a big raise from he other end of the table. Then the straight came through and the guy who’d raised took it in with another jack. My last hand, I had 7x7x and the flop was Qx6x5x I raised big, got re-raised, and went all-in. He showed JxJx and I was out.

Twenty minutes. -50bb.

Bad Day at Black Chip

Encore Club $400 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

My Monday night home tournament got cancelled, so I took the opportunity to spend the evening at Encore, excited for a chance to finally play the PLO game at 7pm. I had some time to wait, though, and I thought I’d be dropping into the 4pm guarantee close to the end of the first level only to find out that I was just the second person to sign up. Within a few more minutes, some more players had been corralled and we got underway, with the guy on my right announcing that his plan was to take everyone out before the break.

I apparently was doing my level best to help him out, because I busted and during the second level (although not to him). With another two hours to go before the PLO game, I rebought. That got me to the break—barely—but even with the add-on I was out by 6pm. I went around the corner to get some Thai food.

90 minutes. -100% ROI. 10th of 11 players.

Encore Club Pot Limit Omaha $200 Added Freeroll (5,000 chips)

There’s something about the volatility of a four-card hand that is incredibly attractive to me about PLO but which seems to being out the crazy in some other players. I don’t think they play any crazier than I do, but they certainly act crazier, and the volume of the club Monday night certainly seemed higher than even the nights when every table is filled for the Main Events. I busted out here when my queen-high straight was beaten by a king-high, then rebought and managed to make it (barely) to the final table. My big regret here was getting shoved another king-high straight to a potential flush, I would have chopped a large pot. Instead, I ended up starting the 1,000/2,000 round after the second break with all of 9,000 chips (in the big blind, no less) or about 3% of the chips on the final table. Amazingly enough, I wasn’t the shortest stack, but I didn’t last long.

Two hours and thirty minutes. -100% ROI. 8th of 34 players.

Encore Club Shootout (30 big blinds)

I was actually out the door but the night was (relatively) early and I went back inside when I realized the 10pm game was just a few minutes off. Then I noticed a Shootout table in the back that wasn’t full and bought in. Missed opportunities was the name of the game here. I reluctantly tossed a 72 from SB pre-flop only to see three hearts roll out on the flop. The action was furious between three players, with a pot of at least 40bb built up, and a straight won. On another hand a Tx8x I considered after a period of card coma would have made a winning full house on the river in a large pot.

My stack had been down as far as 23bb at one point but I’d chipped up to about 40bb just before the end of time when I got AxKx and raised. A three-way all-in ensued, with the small stack’s pair of queens improving to a set to take down the main pot. My ace paired, beating the largest stack’s pocket kings, awarding me the 1bb side pot, which I gave to the dealer as a tip.

50 minutes. -97% ROI (not including tip).

Encore Club $500 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

Broke my rule about not buying in past the first level again (heck, I’d already broken my “no rebuys” rule—twice—earlier in the day). All I remember here is that my better ace was beaten by the ace of spades and four spades on the board for a flush just before the end of rebuy/add-on break. The table tried to rope me into a rebuy but I called it quits for the night.

30 minutes. -100% ROI. 21st of 24 players.

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.

Suborbital

Encore Club Noon $700 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

Traffic held me up on the way to the game, so I not only didn’t get the free soda but I missed out on the extra 500 chip. I got to seat 6 at the first table just in time for my big blind. The game was another blow-out for me, with my buy-in and re-buy gone before a full orbit had been made. One hand I had QxJx with a board of Qx2x2x. I re-raised a 1,500 raise to 3,000, we went all-in and of course he showed KxKx, even getting the case Kx on the river (another player mentioned he’d folded one). Seriously, what was I thinking?

Gotta get all the run-bad out of my system before the $3,000 Champions Freeroll this weekend. Not feeling very champion-y right now.

10 minutes. -100% ROI (including buy-in, re-buy, and door fee).

Roots

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.