End of An Era, Pt. 5

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Trying to get back on the ladder. Again. Once again it goes poorly. Hand twelve is black eights 88. I’m down to 1,230 at 30/60 in CO. Two players ahead of me limp in, I raise to 180, both the limpers call. The flop is T45. UTG3 bets the pot (630), HJ surrenders, I raise all-in for 1,050. UTG3 calls and, of course, he has top pair with 7T. Nothing useful comes and I’m gone.

12 minutes, 12 hands. 9th of 9 players.

Full Tilt Crestline Gate Shallow

Won 4BB my first hand with KQ but lost 8BB with KK when I laid it down after A showed on the flop and some aggressive raising from my opponent.

9 minutes, 14 hands. -19%ROI.

Full Tilt Deerline Shallow

Playing concurrently with the Crestline Gate game. Lost my entire buy-in in three minutes. Called a bet that put me all-in with KA and was up against QQ. Lost the race.

3 minutes, 5 hands. -100%ROI.

Full Tilt Dry Gulch Shallow

Picked up this game after Deerlodge and while still playing Crestline Gate. Went all-in to call SB and was followed by BTN. I was the worst of three pocket pairs: TT vs. AA vs KK. The aces held.

2 minutes, 3 hands. -100%ROI.

Full Tilt Del Monte Shallow

Began play here just after busting out of Crestline Gate. Lost 7BB a few hands in then almost got even by hand 25. Started sinking again on 30 with 44 and was out with T9 that almost made a flush or straight.

31 minutes, 36 hands. -100%ROI.

The Brick

Mostly red across the board for the past couple days as I find myself falling into the bad habit of thinking people are bluffing more often than they actually are.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Downhill all the way for twenty minutes. Lots of aces in my hands (4 out of 36) but nothing connected. Biggest loss was with A8 and an eight-high open-ended straight draw on the flop. Didn’t make it, though, and I was out in 1,515th of 2,080.

Full Tilt $4,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

Started off very well here. Joined a few minutes into the game so my first hand was in the big blind (15/30) with a normally unplayable K7. There were only seven players at the table at the time. There were two limpers and I let it run. I hit middle pair with Q67 and decided to play with it a bit so I bet 45. One of the limpers folded and the other raised to 150, which I called. Another 6 on the river and I decided I needed to try to end it so I bet 120 but I got a call from the other side. The river was 2. I checked to see what he had and he bet 540. A 6x beat but I figured it was worth a look so I plopped down a third of my stack to see 45 with busted flush and open-ended straight draws. So that was a nice first hand.

Just a few hands later I picked up KQ in the cutoff. I limped in, as did the button and small blind, and there were four to the flop. 82Q didn’t have a lot of possibilities (apart from a flush draw); when action got to me I bet 90 on my queens, getting calls from the button and big blind. I made two pair with K on the turn, which was a good thing. My bet this time was 400 and I got an all-in call from the button that folded the big blind. I had it covered by 1K, and it was a bounty tournament, after all, so I called. The button had had me until the king showed up, with 8Q; now the smaller of two pairs. Got a bounty and was up to 4,800 chips at the start of hand 5.

The last hand was a whopper. I had A3 in the big blind and was heads-up pre-flop with the biggest stack at the table, with about 9K vs. my 4,900. I got two pair on a 7A3 flop. Not much more than you could ask for there, eh? The big stack bets 120, and I figure he’s got some sort of ace, but I’ve got AxKx beat. I raise him to 510 and he calls. Now things look a little diceier because the turn is K. I’ve still got most ace combinations beat, but there is a massive flush draw on the board. I check. Big stack bets out 1,140 after I check. This is the point where I should tell myself: “You still have 4,355 chips, you’ve only got 570 in the pot. Just stay in the tournament.” I call instead. Q on the turn.

I check again and the big stack shoves in, essentially doubling the pot, since the pot is just a little larger than my stack. I call. Then he turns over 33, a hand I wasn’t even thinking of and which had me walloped from the turn.

Gone in a little over half an hour. 1,725th place out of 1,770 players.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Off to a good start with a double-up via QJ giving me a higher straight on hand four. Then the Mutant Jack AJ cut me in half when AQ and I both double-paired—him on the turn and me, uselessly, on the river. Two hands later I had QA and ran into AK, and lost another 1,500 chips.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

Overplayed a TT hand. Our table had six seated at the 120/240 level and hijack raised my small blind to 650. I re-raised to 1,060 and got a call. Then a K hit on the flop and I checked, only to be met with a 720 bet. Raised all-in hoping he just had an ace. No such luck: K7 and he even double-paired on the river. My TT on the next hand didn’t do any better and I was out in 11th.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Popped up on the first hand with 99, then again with an almost identical 99 an hour into the match. Pocket JJ were the harbinger of doom for this game, though, with a Q in the hole connecting with the QA of another player. I managed to crawl up from 400 to 1,900 before pocket QQ knocked me back down to less than 150 and the door. 917 of 2,800.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

The first 20 hands were good, with my own QQ filling a king-high straight and doubling me to 4,600. Hung around there for a little bit then stupidcalled someone with a flush and lost over 3,000 chips.

Full Tilt $18,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

Over on the fourth hand with TT. There was a T on the flop but K on the river gave KK a better set. Still,

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

My penchant for pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory strikes once again. I double up to 3,300 on hand five with KK, putting me in the top position in the tournament. I stay there for about 20 minutes as eliminations become less frequent, then lose almost 1,000 in four consecutive hands just to see the flop with decent cards that just don’t pan out. I try to get fancy with 97 in the 150/300 big blind when the button raises all-in to 675 and the small blind calls. I go along for the ride and the board gives me a gutshot straight draw: K65. I shouldn’t call the 900 bet of the big blind and we both check our way through the turn (2) and river (5). Button had middle pair on the flop: A6. I’m out on the next hand with QT and an open-ended straight draw on the flop. 10th place gets me another chance at Step 1.

Full Tilt $4,500 KO Guarantee (1,500 chips)

My eighth hand K8 makes top pair on the flop and another player and I go to the mats only to have him outkick me with K9.

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Made it up to 6,600 by twenty minutes in and more or less glided into the Step 2 ticket.

Encore Club (5,000 chips)

Only eleven players in the game makes my table five-handed and play is slow and methodical, with only one rebuy, yet there’s a steady bleeding of chips in the direction of just a couple of the players. I manage to take a couple of pots but I’m down a bit when we consolidate to a ten-player table. After that action heats up and I’m eliminated 9th of 11.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Corkscrewed in after just seven minutes.

Full Tilt The Ferguson (1,500 chips)

Ditto.

Full Tilt Step 2 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

Had my last chips taken by a 5x7x.

Full Tilt miniFTOPS Event #20 $125,000 Guarantee Rush (4,000 chips)

Could this have gone any worse? Sixth hand in I get AK. The flop is 4QA and I’m head-up. I bet 150 after the flop and get raised to 320, which I call. 8 shows up on the turn, so I’ve got an ace pair with a high kicker and the nut flush draw. The other player bets 860 and I idiotically go all-in for 3,600. He calls, shows QA for two pair, a 2 shows on the river and I’m down to 30 chips which are gone the next hand.

Full Tilt $18,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

Got off to an early start—although I joined the game half an hour in—with 87 in the big blind. Three limpers. The flop’s good for both straight and flush possibilities: T29 and I check to see what the mood is. Hijack—with more than 10K in his stack—bets 200 and I’m the only caller. The turn makes my flush with Q and I bet 200, getting a raise to 900. I go all-in for 1,250 total and get a call. He shows 8J for a straight but he’s beat. I pick up another 1,600 just five hands down the road.

My stack hovers around 5K for twenty minutes or so until my AQ runs into a set of sixes and I’m down to 1,500. I double up then next hand beating 4x4x by pairing the smaller part of my A5 but lose the whole thing with KA on the next hand to 53 and a set of fives and TT splitting portions of my stack.

Diamonds Are Forever

Cake Irish Open Quarter-Final Satellite (1,000 chips)

I guess I still have my heart set on going to Dublin in April. There are so few people playing on Cake that, comparatively, it’s actually harder to make it the next level of play in these contests. A lot of the Quarter-Final events (eight a day) get cancelled for lack of players, and even some of the ones that run don’t award tickets to the Semis, because there’s no guarantee. So I entered this Q-F satellite to see if I could maximize my investment.

AK about ten minutes in put me over 2,600 when I called a short-stack all-in on a 44J flop and caught A on the turn to beat jacks-up. My own pocket pair of JJ almost felted me seven hands later, when I called another all-in and he got his second ace on the flop.

I managed to work my way back up with hands like AQ and 7A and 99. A little over an hour into the game I’d made it to the 4,500 chip mark, just as the final table was consolidated. A lay-down with TA on a Broadway draw that went as far as the turn turned annoying when the other guy flashed his unpaired 9K. I went out on a T9 hand with an unfilled open-ended straight and four-flush against an ace-high caller. Got sixth place and a sub-min cash leftover prize for 100 minutes of play. ROI of -27%.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Did my usual brief submarining in this event, skimming just below the starting stack while I tested for the right opportunity and hoping that it actually showed up. Eight minutes in, I picked up JT. I was down to 1,070 after losing blinds and bets on a couple of suited QxKx hands. Action folded to me in the hijack and I min-raised to 60. The button—big stack at the table with more than 3,500 chips—raised to 150. The big blind called, as did I. I had top pair on the T36 flop and bet 300  after a check from the big blind. Button raised to 615 and I called, leaving 300 back. The blind got out of the way. I checked after a Q on the turn and the button put me all-in to call. I didn’t figure the queen made much of a difference to his hand and called. I double-paired with J on the river and the button turned over 99, behind from the flop.

A lucky AA just four hands later more than doubled me up to more than 5K when I took out two players with  JJ and QA. Three hands after that a tentative excursion with A2 made trips on the QAA flop and both other players to the flop having queens kept them on the line through the river.

I took some hits that brought me down from more than 3K fro 6,500, then started building again. An AJ Mutant Jack at the 40-minute mark netted me 4,400 and put me over 10K for the first time, but only by making me sweat for the river A to beat the pocket QQ of the all-in I called.

Just before the first break, a relatively innocuous-looking K6 ended up in my hand in the cutoff position. Blinds were 80/160. The hijack, with called. I called, and everyone behind me limped in, too. The flop was 42K and I had top pair as well as a 2nd nut flush draw (and potential straight flush). The blinds and hijack checked and I made a small bet of 240. Button folded, small blind called, and everyone else got out of the way. The 7 hits on the turn. There’s 1,300 in the pot. I can’t make a straight flush any more but with me holding the 6. the only way he can is if he’s got A5—and if he’s got the ace and can make any flush he beats me. He can’t have a full house yet. His stack is 3,500, I’ve got him covered by almost 10K. He checks and I feign weakness with a bet of 240. He calls. Maybe he’s got a single club and he’s hoping for a fourth on the board. Maybe he thinks the same of me. The T shows on the river. There’s no chance of a full house. He has to have two clubs with an ace to beat me. He bets 650 and I raise to put him all-in. He has a flush but it’s J5 and I’m sitting just under 18K while the break is on.

The graph shows a little blip after things start back up when I take a couple of hits. A call against a 4K stack goes awry when he has pocket KK and I only have JJ in mine and four to a straight on the board. Losing another 1,500 on the next hand with AJ busts me down to 11K, but the third monster in a row—AK—almost doubles me up when I call two all-ins holding AJ and 99 then get a KQK flop that stays good through the river.

The most notable event of this match was a mechanical mistake on my part. The game had been going for about 300 hands, we were 100 minutes in (it’s Rush poker). The blinds were 200/400/50 and I was on the button with J9 and 39K in chips, 3rd at the table in stack size. UTG+3 limped, the hijack (#2 stack with 49K) raised to 1,600. I called, thinking it might be a largish pot and I might be able to take it if the cards came out in the middle ranks. The big blind (13K, the smallest at the table) called and UTG+3 (25K) was along for the ride. The flop was TQ5 which didn’t do much for my hearts but did give me an open-ended straight draw. There were two checks and the big stack bet 4K. I called, along with the blind and UTG+3 folded. Another spade dropped on the turn: 5, pairing the board, as well. The small-stacked big blind went all-in, getting a call from the big stack. I did not want to call a bet for a third of my stack here, even with 5,600 already in the pot. Potential flush on the board, full house possibilities—heck, just a 5x had me beat—but I didn’t pay close enough attention to my cursor and—honest— called instead of folding. 7 showed up on the river, the short stack had my rank but in diamonds (J9, and the big stack had my flush with a bigger card 6Q that made top pair on the board and took a profit of 32K.

After that I struggled along for another 100 hands, making some ground and then losing it, briefly making it over 30K again but having trouble keeping ahead of the blinds. My last hand was 140 minutes into the game. I was the short stack in the big blind at 500/1,000/125, with 25K in chips. My cards were another A2. UTG+3 min-raised, hijack called, I called, and the big blind folded. The flop was 5QJ, not particularly good for me but I put in a bet of 1,500 to test the waters and got called by both other players. Another diamond (5) on the turn told me to push but I should have taken another look at the board before I did that because I still would have had ten big blinds deep in the tournament. I bet 2,000 and was called by UTG+3, but got a raise to 12,000 from the hijack. I called, along with UTG+3. I thought I was so special when the 3 showed up on the river and went all-in for 9,335. UTG+3 got out of the way with 40K but the hijack showed his JJ for a full house and took in 42K.

34th place out of 1,219 entries. ROI of 232%. Top prize in the tournament was about 72 times what I made.

Full Tilt MiniFTOPS Event #1 (5,000 chips)

I took the profit I made from the Rush tournament and put it into the first event of the series.

Play went slowly for me for over an hour. I’d dropped almost 2,000 chips, almost steadily, until about the 90th hand. My best hand—AQ—met absolutely no resistance and got me 60 chips of blinds; nothing else I had made more than a couple hundred. I was watching pros bust out right and left; WSOP Main Event 3rd-place finisher Joseph Cheong was gone before I was.

Finally, I managed to double up by doing something stupid. I had AQ and 750 in the 1,950 pot heads-up on a flop of J35. My opponent checked, I bet 220, and he went all-in with a larger stack than mine. I called with 2,220 and crossed my fingers and Q shoed on the turn, with T on the river. He turned over JK. No flush. I was up to 6,390. I lost a bit when I was bluffed off QQ with a board holding an ace, a pair of 8s and three spades. To rub it in, the guy showed a garbage JQ. He busted out thirteen hands later, though.

I had a little lull before I started building back up, but I was nowhere near the chip average. Then my flushing problem again reared its ugly head. I called a min-raise to 400 from the button with 9A. Both the blinds were in, as well as UTG+2, who’d made the raise. The flop was 677 and UTG+2 bet 1,000. I called. I probably should have raised but I doubt that would have done anything for me except lose me more money. The blinds folded and T hit the turn. I had a gut-shot straight draw to go with my nut flush draw. He bet another 2,000 and I had to call. But it was not to be. 6 on the river. He showed JJ—even a river ace would have beaten him—and I was down to 4K.

I turned diamonds into chips with JT about ten minutes later, though. I had about 3,500 in the cutoff at 120/24/25 and called a raise to 480 from UTG+2. A call from the big blind meant there were three of us to the flop. I had a gut-shot straight draw with 48Q and decided to take a stab at it with a 500 bet when both players ahead of me checked. Only UTG+2 called. The turn was 2 and I just checked the action through to the river, which was J. UTG+2 had about 1,500 more than me and bet out nearly half his stack with 1,800. I raised all-in to 2,500, not believing he had the queen. Then he folded and I was up over 7K again.

That was brief, as I dipped down below the starting stack again before recovering to almost 9K with K6 (more diamonds!) It was an incredibly ugly hand. I called the 280 big blind (holding 5,300 behind) from UTG+2. The button raised to 840, with another 4,400. The large stack (21K) at the table in the big blind called the raise, and when I did the same there were three to a flop of 4TK. The big stack checked and I opened with 750 to see if that would protect my pair. It did, but only marginally. After the button called the big stack folded, which probably saved me on this one.

With 2 on the turn, the hand was decidedly unfriendly to my diamonds, but I put out a bet of 560 into the pot of 4,385 and got a call. The 5 hit the river. I decided to see what the button would do and checked. Check. He had QJ for an open-ended straight draw but no spade and my kings were best.

It was a decidedly un-premium diamond hand just four deals later that got me to my peak in the tournament. I had Q2 in the small blind with three limpers behind me and over 8K in chips, so I put in another 140 chips. The big blind checked and five players got to the 384 flop. I had third nut flush draw in first position to act, so I bet 420. Only the big blind and hijack called. The K gave me the second nut flush. The A was still out there potentially, so I only opened with 560. It was down to me and the hijack. T on the river. No four of a kind or full house possibilities. The only thing that could beat me was a hand with two diamonds including the ace. I made another 560 bet. The hijack raised to 2,240 and I called, figuring I had another 5K if he had the better flush. He had the A but his second card was only a J, so I was up to 13.5K.

It wasn’t for long, though. Just seven minutes later I was dealt AK in the small blind. UTG+1 raised to 777 and there were four callers, including the hijack and both us blinds.

The flop was 535. I should have taken the story of the earlier A to heart and left it alone—since I had no connection to the cards on the board—but instead I opened with a 510 bet. UTG+1 dropped out but three of us saw the 4 on the turn. A gut-shot straight draw!

I really need to pay more attention to pairs on the board.

I checked, to be sneaky. The big blind checked. Hijack bet 1,020 which only I called. I made a pair with the K on the river. I bet about 10% of the 6,903 pot. Then the hijack went all in for far more than I had. He was just bluffing, right? I called.

33 in his hand. Full house since the flop. If only I’d had 53 instead.

142 minutes of play, made it to 12,140th place in a field of 27,539 (top 45th percentile). Not a stellar showing but I outlasted more than half the field.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Doubled up at the five-minute mark withKA. Then I got only minimal return when a larger stack shoved all-in on the turn and was called by me and a start-size stack. I had KQ with the board showing QK22 for two pair; the big stack had KA for just kings and twos; the small stack had 7A for a flush draw. If there had to be a diamond, I wanted it to be the queen; I didn’t want an ace to counterfeit my queens; I could have lived with another two to chop. But the river was the 4. The small stack tripled up to 4,300 and I made a profit of 150 chips.

The Mutant Jack failed me a little while later. AJ in the small blind with 2,600 chips, #2 stack at the table. Min-raise to 80 from UTG+2, I re-raise to 200, big blind calls, and UTG+2 is in. The flop’s 4TJ. I bet 600, everyone falls into my trap and calls. T on the turn. I have two pair with top kicker. I’m all-in. Big blind calls but he’s about 1,300 short. UTG+2 folds. QK for an open-ended straight draw. River’s 9. Well, I still have 1,275. At least, I do until QA slams into AA and drops me below 300. I battle back up over 1,000 before 88 cuts me down in the 21st minute. 357th place out of 1,137 entrants.

Cake Poker Roma 6-Max

Played some short-handed cash game to kill some time. Killed 80¢ faster than I killed time.

Full Tilt Satellite to MiniFTOPS #2 (300 chips)

Didn’t I say something about not playing Super Turbo tournaments? Shouldn’t that go double (at least) for Omaha Hi/Lo Super Turbo satellites? I wanted to see if I could get in to the $50K Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo tournament without paying the full entry fee—not having played anywhere near as much Omaha as Hold’em—and figured this would be a chance to see how I fared.

I did well almost right off the bat. On the third hand I was on the small blind and got J64T. There were four limpers (including myself) and the big blind checked. The flop came out 7Q8 leaving me needing 9x for a queen-high straight. There were four checks and a bet of 150—half everyone’s stack— from UTG+3. I called and two other players were in, too. A T on the turn cinched it up for me. I went all-in. UTG called, having a little bit over my stack.  UTG+1 re-raised all-in, also having me covered, followed by an all-in call by UTG+3 and a call from UTG. The river was 9.

There was 1,142 in the main pot with a side pot of 66. My queen-high straight was the best hand and I got the main pot but the side pot went to UTG, with 6396 for a ten-high straight. No low hand.

I lost most of it in short order. AK5T in my hand. There’s a 4 and a 3 on the board by the turn and I’m hoping for a deuce on the river. But someone else makes it and takes both high and low pots and I’m back down to starting stack with the blinds at 20/40.

Two pair on the flop knocks me down to 17 chips but I manage to triple that up with a different two pair the next hand. It all goes away then. 81st out of 155.

Puffmammy Tournament 20 (1,500 chips)

What a mess. I was worried that if I missed the game tonight I’d fall too far behind D to realistically catch up. The good news is that he only gained two points on me. The bad news is that I could have skipped the game to see Stan Ridgway, lost four instead of two points and been three buy-ins and an add-on richer.

Two ugly points about the night. I was all in after the flop for, I think, the second time of the night. Playing against W, who’s typically pretty loose. I had AxQx and W flips Ax2x There’s an ace on the board. Everything goes fine until the river when another two shows up and I’m re-buying.

Then, just before the end of the re-buy period, I’ve got most of my stack in the pot. I can’t re-buy again but there’s an add-on available at the break coming up. I started the hand with AxTx and flopped KxQx but nothing showed on the turn and there are two large stacks all-in in front of me. If I don’t catch my card, I’m out first for the night. If I fold, I’ve got a paltry stack that I can almost double with the 500 chips. I fold and the Jx shows on the river. G wins the hand with a king-high straight and I kick myself for the rest of the night as my little chips dwindle away. No recovery this night.

Made it to see Stan, though.

Wherefore Art Thou, EV?

Full Tilt Step 3 18-Player

If I didn’t know I was doing it—and it was happening to someone I didn’t like—it would be almost funny.

Wins with 88 and QQ had doubled me up fifteen minutes into the game, putting me well into the lead at my table. Then an attempt to close the action when I made top pair on a 744 board by pushing the smaller stack all-in to call backfired when he called with a far-behind KA but paired on the turn. Down to 650 chips.

But because I’m good, I managed to battle back up over 3K (including 1,100 won with AJ flushing) as other players were eliminated. I’d even made it to the edge of the Step 3 ticket barrier, going in and out as stacks changed on both tables. I lost a little on one call that I backed off of but I was still over 2,600 when I got JA on the big blind at 60/120. UTG went all-in and everyone else folded. I didn’t need to call. He had 1K less than I did. I could get the chips on a less-dodgy hand. But I called and he flipped over QA. I got two pair but the board was AK3JT and he got the straight.

Fine. I was down to 1,256. Ten big blinds. I went all-in from the small blind with 1,076 and KJ. The button called with 99. The board was 7A43T, leaving me short  a queen for the straight and a diamond for the higher flush.

Out in 11th place with no ticket.

Saw The Jim-Jams last night. My puffmammy nemesis D is playing the Encore Club‘s $5K Tournament of Champions Freeroll tonight because he won a tournament there last month. I wish him luck but hope to crush home come our next game (which is going to make me miss Stan Ridgway‘s show next week).

Queen of Spades Kills the Action

D’s Game

Played at the dealer’s choice cash game again, but without the saving coup at the end. My worst beat of the night came on a 7-card stud variation I can’t remember the name of that had wild queens. I got two queens down and a king up, I’d been pushing the pot incrementally, and got another queen up on the last card. Then the queen of spades came as an up card, which killed the hand and broke my quad kings.

Full Tilt $15,000 KO Guarantee 6-Max (3,000 chips)

This game started off with a great overlay of only about 175 players but it was clearly going to meet its guarantee by the time I was eliminated. I’d won nothing larger than 100 chips, waiting for my spot for almost half an hour and dropping about 400 chips when I got 5A in my hand on the button at the 20/40 level. There was a limp and a min-raise, which I called. The blinds dropped out and the limper called.

The flop gave me a straight: 432. The raiser bet 120, I re-raised to 300, and the limper folded. There was a three-bet to 720 and I raised all-in to 2,550. He called and showed his flush draw: AT. The turn J was safe but 9 on the river put me out and gave him my bounty.

Full Tilt Step 1 Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

Kind of rocky for the first twenty minutes: meaning I was flirting with the 1,500-chip starting position most of the time. A couple good hands bumped me up to 2K for a few minutes but then a nut flush draw bottomed out and I lost 500.

Then I caught a batch of good hands, starting with TT and a double-up. We were already down to six players and two of us went to the flop after a raise to 300 (at 50/100). The flop was an unpromising QK3, but I called the bet of 700 with most of my stack to be rewarded with T on the turn. I checked again and was put all-in to call. He turned over KA, the river was a 5 and I was up to 2,820. I picked up the blinds on the next two hands with raises holding aces, got a straight on the river with 9T, and extracted a little bit more with 4A.

Ten minutes more and KK made me another 1,800 chips, even without the help of K on the river. That put me up at 5,400 and I managed not to blow it, going out in second place—which was enough to win a Step 2 ticket.

Full Tilt Step 2 Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

I built up to a nearly 2:1 lead over the other stacks by the 40-minute mark with four players eliminated, and over 45% of the chips in play in my stack. We were competing for two Step 3 tickets. Did I get one? No. I risked nearly 2K on a JQ and got knocked down to a minimal lead, then slowly slipped into third place, which is where I went out, earning another Step 2 ticket.

Full Tilt Step 2 Sit & Go 18-Players (1,500 chips)

Made it to almost 6K in chips before the tables consolidated but won just a single hand after that point, going out in sixth place, and getting yet another chance for Step 2.

Aces Players Club $1K Guarantee (5,000 chips)

Took a couple of early hits that nearly chopped my stack in half by the 40-minute mark, but shortly before the first break I caught a double-up with a flush through Señor Frog, a player two seats to my right who had a sparkly amphibian statuette for a card protector who was sucking down chips like they were flies. Didn’t quite make it to the second break, though, when I had QxQx. The flop was 7x9xTx, there was a (shorter-than-me) stack all-in, an all-in by the Frog, and even though I was virtually certain that the Frog had pocket 9x9x, I went all-in to call. Hey! I was right! The initial all-in had AxKx and the Frog ate our chips.

Aces Players Club (5,000 chips)

I hate to even admit this but this blog does not lie. The late-night table was exceedingly wild, with two all-ins and rebuys within the first six hands. I’m playing cautiously, I think. I’ve still got most of my stack left twenty minutes in when I get to the flop with KT in my hand and two hearts on the flop. The lady across the table goes all-in. I call—which means I’m all-in—and another player follows. The lady flips JJx. The other caller flips KT. I look back down at my cards and what I see is KT. Not good. The jacks win. I decide my eyes need some rest but instead I play some poker.

Full Tilt $10,000 Rush Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Everything’s peachy until the last hand. Bleed some chips looking for a good hand, win a chunk of chips, repeat. It doesn’t work when my A9 runs into 88, though. Four players go to the flop: me, in the big blind, and three limpers. I make top pair on the 289 board, make a pot-sized raise that gets one call, and a player on the button raises to 450, which I call. Then the player who’d called my bet goes all-in for more than either of the other two of us in the hand. Mr. raise-to-450 gets out of the way and I stupidcall. Trips end my tournament.

Full Tilt $18,000 Rush Guarantee Rebuy (1,500 chips)

I’m above the starting stack for less than 20% of this tournament. My last hand is AA. The flop is AJ7. 98 calls my 628 all-in pre-flop, just from a starting stack. The turn of 6 and river T make his straight and my trip aces are no good.

Full Tilt On Demand (1,500 chips)

More textbook tournament stack building ruined by stupidcalling. Forty minutes in, I’d quadrupled my stack. I got J8, min-raised at the 40/80 level, got a call from the small blind, a raise from the big blind, and calls all around. The flop is J8T. Top pair and an open-ended straight draw. I raise 500, small blind folds and big blind calls. The river’s just 2 but Q shows on the river. I have a chance to bail when a 1,400 chip bet is raised but I go all-in with my Q-high straight. It’s called immediately by KA. Wouldn’t you?

Mutant Jacks Rule…For a While

Puffmammy Tournament 19 (1,500 chips)

This seemed to be going okay at first. My goal for the night was to bust out later than D, who took the POY lead away from me last event but was only a point ahead. He was seated two seats to my left at the second—six-handed—table at the beginning of the event. I was holding my own until the player between us wiped out the first of six (out of thirteen total) players she’d eliminate before she won first place. After that, the dynamics changed a lot, and I got over-extended on one particular straight draw that she bluffed me out of on the turn. I was close to dead after that and since it was after the end of re-buys I went out ignominiously in twelfth place. D made it to the money and extended his lead to twelve points. That means no skipping out to attend Stan Ridgway’s concert at Mississippi Studios on March 7th if I want to maintain a chance to win by the series’s end in May.

Full Tilt Step 1 18-Player (1,500 chips)

This tournament didn’t work as an attempt to clear the taste of my earlier loss at the live game from my mouth by getting back on the Steps. I won a hand with JT, lost twice as much with QA, then played JQ on the tenth hand from UTG and got a Q32 flop. There was only 120 in the pot and the small blind bet out 120, I re-raised to 300, he three-bet to 480 and I called. A T hit on on the turn and he went all-in. I stupidcalled and he flipped over Q3 for two pair and a flush draw. The A nailed the coffin shut.

Encore Club (5,000 chips)

My initial outing here went well for the first hour. I got AJ about thirty-five minutes into the game and pushed hard on a player on the other end of the table who I figured had flopped kings and tens. I just had a gutshot straight draw on the flop but another ace on the turn scared him off when I raised, putting me up about 3,000 from the starting stack, overall. He wasn’t happy when I showed my hand, and shortly thereafter he had to re-buy.

I took the same player out on the last hand before the break with another Mutant Jack: AJ.

The second hour didn’t go so well, however. I only got a couple of good hands; everyone folded on a raise with AKo, and then a big blind special of AK met an extremely ugly flop and I folded. I can’t even remember my last hand, but it came not too long before the end of the second hour, at the final table. Seventh place out of eighteen, three positions short of the money.

Mutiny of the Bounty

Full Tilt $2,500 Guarantee (1,500 chips)

Nothing to see here. There were almost 3,700 entrants at the time I busted out. I took an early hit with a A6 that didn’t pan out. An 87 paired the eight on the flop to put me back over the starting stack. I more than doubled up with TT, beating a pair of nines to make it to nearly 4,000 chips twenty minutes into the game. Twenty minutes later, a different suited ace combination (A8) flushed through on the turn to beat a pair of kings.

I was mostly quiet after that, staying between 4,000 and 5,000 chips until just after the first hour of play, when a far weaker A3 combo lost out to A9 that got four clubs on the board. All-in against a larger stack with three clubs on the flop? What was I thinking? Out in 794th place.

Full Tilt Midnight Madness! (1,500 chips)

Very quiet for the first quarter-hour. I get a couple walks for 15 chips apiece but give it away. A couple of small opening raises go bye-bye when the flop fails to cooperate. Then I get 66 in the small blind (at 20/40) with action folded around to me and only seven seated at the table. I min-raise and get a call from the big blind. The board has three over cards—including a king and queen—to my pair and the big blind keeps firing off small bets but I take the 480 in the pot when he has a pair of twos. The next hand I eliminate a player and make a profit of 1,460 when the bottom end of my AQ pairs on the flop. QA on the very next hand only makes me 40. Then it’s quiet until about the 50-minute mark when I have AK. I min-raise to 200 from UTG+2 (with eight players), getting calls from both blinds. The flop is A49, the blinds check and I open with 600. Small blind raises to 1,200, big folds, and I three-bet all-in. Big mistake. Small blind not only has me covered but he’s got 9A. two more clubs show on the board, and if that king had been a club it would have been real nice, but I’m out in 1,703rd place out of 2,016. Pathetic showing.

Full Tilt Step 0 Super Turbo (300 chips)

When I said I would never play another Super Turbo so long as I lived, I should have specified that only idiots play Super Turbos. I am an idiot. Five hands. I’m in my first big blind (there’s 10% of my starting stack right there). I’ve got a wretched J4 but lo and behold the flop is Q23. I know that if I can double up or just grab some chips in this early stage I’ll be a lot better off when the blinds go up on the next hand. I bet the pot to open (90), get re-raised by UTG+1 (the only other player in except for the small blind) and the small blind folds. I shove and UTG+1—who’s already taken out one of the players at the table so he has the bog stack— calls, showing K9. Finished 82 of 99.

Full Tilt $2,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

I’ve taken a run at this low buy-in event a few times in the past without any luck. Bustouts in just four and six hands, half an hour at the best. Last night things clicked—at least for a while.

I was below the starting stack for most of the first ten minutes then managed to avoid having a pair of sevens suck out with a flush on my pair of queens and picked up 900 chips.

My first big win was pushing all-in with A3. Action had folded around to the button, who raised to 480 at the 80/160 level. Small blind folded. I had the button covered by 900 chips (out of 3,200) and my all-in was called. Up against KQ and an A came on the flop. Things were a little worrisome with a turned J but the river was safe and I got my first bounty. I picked up another 960 on the next hand with Q9 that made it to a king-high straight on the turn.

I made a move about 25 minutes later holding QA on the button at 80/160/25. Two players ahead of me were in for 480 and I called, with the big blind following along. The flop was 4AJ. The big blind checked, the next player (UTG+3) bet 755 and the hijack called. I went all-in for 3,875. All thee following players had me covered by 500 to 9,000 chips but everyone folded and I picked up 3,270 to put me over 7,500.

An hour-and-a-half into the game and I’d lost several hands, dropping down to 4,500 with blinds at 200/400/50. My hand on the button was a somewhat less-than-sterling KT. UTG+1 limped, UTG+2 raised to 800, hijack called, I called, as did the blinds, and UTG+1 matched the raise, so the pot held 5,250 prior to the flop. The flop was 957. Nobody had put in 800 with 68, apparently, because everyone checked to the turn, which was 8. UTG+2 bet 1,200 with the hijack calling and I took a stab at it with my four-card straight, raising all-in for 3,655. Everyone folded and I built up to 11,300.

I got knocked down to 5,300 with another KT combo. It was suited (KT) but slightly behind the JK at the end of a board that didn’t connect with either of us.

The same player gave most of the chips back on the next hand. Five players went to the flop, limping in at the 300/600/75 level. My hand was K5 and the flop was A42. UTG+2 bet 1,200, UTG+2 raised to 2,400, and once again on the button I re-raised all-in to 4,620. The blinds and UTG+2 folded, UTG+3 called, showing 9A, and the turn dropped a 3, completing the straight and putting me over 14,000.

The humdinger hand of the night was my second bounty. I had about 13,700 chips in UTG+1 and was dealt QA. We were still at 300/600/75; I raised to 1,200. UTG+3 went all-in for 11,460. Everyone folded to me and I called with him flipping over TT. Things were just about over with a Q5Q flop but 6Q on the river sealed the deal for a 13,000 profit.

I was the big stack at the table for the moment but lost my next five entries into the pot, losing between 1,000 and 4,000 each try until I was down to 8,400. Blinds were nipping at everyone’s heels, at 600/1,200/150. KK fell into my hand in UTG+1. I raised to 3,000. The huge stack with 90K re-raised to 12,600. The button three-bet all-in to 28,297. Action folded to me and I called all-in for 8,259. The big stack called the three-bet. Big stack had KA, the other all-in (the same player I’d traded chips with above) had JJ. The board ran out TQ673 and I took just about 28K of the 68K pot. Two hands later I lost everything to the big stack, going out with a small cash in 207th place out of 3,401 entries after 150 minutes.

Full Tilt Super Satellite to FTOPS Event #44 (1,500 chips)

Sunday was the last day of the FTOPS tournaments, and early in the morning fresh off the KO tournament above I took a shot at a super satellite to the next-to-last event, a 6-max bounty tournament. The field grew to 61 entries by the end of registration, with five entries to the satellite, worth $55 each and two smaller cash awards.

Twenty minutes in I got my first break with KK in the cutoff. UTG picked up a ten on the flop to match their T8 for top pair and went all-in and I picked up the KO and 830 chips. I wiped out another small stack of 720 shortly after with QA vs. AT. AA against TT shortly thereafter made another bounty and put me over 4,000 chips. I took out two players (one with only 25 chips in the big blind) holding 88 when the board showed QKQ8Q.

Forty minutes in, I’d been knocked down to only about 2,500 chips again, losing 600-900 chips on hands like A6s and A9o. Kings served me well again when I doubled up through the big stack at the table to 7,700. Another bounty  and 1,495 came my way with TT a few hands after that. I got a couple thousand more holding K6 when the board gave me a 9-high straight on the river and nobody contested my 1,000-chip bet into a pot of 3,270.

A key mistake came when the field was down to about ten players. The cutoff raised from 200/400/50 all-in to 4,105 and I was the only caller, holding QK and 6,200 chips behind. The all-in showed KA and he got aces full of kings by the end of the hand.

Still, I was in the top five, on track to get a ticket to the satellite until I called another all-in by the same player five minutes later. My 66 against his QQ. Out in 7th place with an award about 1.5 times the buy-in and seven bounties, bringing the ROI to 169%.

Chopped to the Felt

Full Tilt Step 3 Turbo

This was a match made in hell, or maybe it was limbo.

One of the players was taken out in the first few hands, doubling up the guy two seats behind me, but I got QQ on hand 9, pushing off another player with a 500 chip bet after the 646 flop and picking up a profit of 375 to put me in second.

Six hands later I get QQ. UTG min-raises to 120 and I make the same move I did with queens pre-flop before with a re-raise to 300. Everyone gets out of the way and UTG goes all-in. He’s got me covered but I call and he flips over QQ. The flop’s a rainbow, there’s no chance of a flush, and we make a big 45 chips each from the blinds.

I have to fold a couple of suited ace hands, including a Mutant Jack AJ when the flops don’t look good, and fifteen minutes in I’m down to seventh place with only 1,170 chips.

The blinds go through me, and have increased to 60/120 by the twenty-minute mark. I’m down to 8.5BB, there are still eight players, and I decide to play a marginal A6, after throwing away A6o the previous hand and eight hands earlier. I raise to 300 from UTG+1 and get a call from the big blind. The flop couldn’t be much better: K66. The big blind checks and I go all-in, getting a call. He’s got 6A, so we chop the small blind’s money and get 30 each.

The blinds are closing in on the next hand. I have 9A and raise to 300. The cutoff (the smallest stack) and big blind call. The flop is KTT and I try to bluff it with another all-in and the small stack calls. He’s got KQ. My nine pairs with 9 on the turn but the J river card gives him a straight and me nothing but 60 chips which disappear in the big blind on the next hand.

I won three showdowns in of 35 hands, had queens twice and three of a kind on the flop, but two of my three wins were essentially negated by draws. No ticket for this game. back to the bottom.

The Landing On Step 3

Full Tilt Step 2 (1,500 chips)

Playing with the ticket I won earlier, I don’t manage to get ahead in the first fifty hands. A 3BB raise with JA early on just gets me the blinds; I pick up 150 with a 57 in the big blind when a couple of players limp in and the flop of 869 gives me a straight; AA in the small blind gets me 240. But when I push a smaller stack’s all-in with an all-in of my own holding AQ, he turns over TT and neither of my over cards connect. I manage to double up and get back as high as 1,150 before my 9A all-in is called and out-kicked by TA and I’m back at the foot of the steps.

Full Tilt $2,500 KO Guarantee (2,000 chips)

I like this little bounty tournament althoughI’m at a loss as to why. I’d have to check to see if I’ve picked up any bounties, and I know I haven’s cashed in it. It’s cheap and it’s there if I’m not playing Midnight Madness (or if I’ve busted out). I came into this edition late, with blinds already at 50/100, lost 333 on my first contested hand, and the rest of it only fourteen hands in when my KT got clobbered by QQ that would have had me beat even if my straight draw had come through.

Full Tilt Step 1 (1,500 chips)

I caught a very lucky KK just four hands in. UTG limped in for 30 and I raised from UTG+1 to 120. UTG+2 called, then everyone but UTG folded. The flop was 29T and UTG opened with 405. I shoved all-in, +2 folded like a good boy and UTG called for slightly less than I had. My kings beat his tens—although he was one card from a straight by the river—and I eliminated a player.

I stayed up over 3,000 as chip leader with some small induced folds, then had 87 on the button with five players left and blinds at 50/100. I’d slipped to second place, the big stack was in the small blind. UTG called, I called, and the small blind called for four players to the flop, which was T9Q. After checks from the blinds, UTG made a pot-sized bet and I doubled it. Straight flush here I come! The blinds dropped out and UTG went all-in for an amount that would leave me with only about 1,400. Naturally, I called. I got a straight with a 6 on the turn. The A still didn’t give me a flush but I was up to 5,300+. My own KT knocked another player out a little later when I flushed to beat not only his 66 which tripped up in the flop but a straight on the board: 73654.

I tried letting the two remaining players battle it out but they were taking so long the blinds ate away 1,500 of my 9,000 chips and I figured I’d better make my presence known when I could. I had about 6,600 in the small blind at 80/160, the big blind had 4,200 and the button had 2,700. I was dealt KA, the button made a min raise, I re-raised to 640, big blind folded, button called. The flop was a rather ugly 6KQ but I raised all-in and got a call. I had the better made hand but with QA it was far from over. Fortunately, diamonds are my best friend and the rest of the cards were 64. No flush, no more queens. Just a Step 2 ticket for me and guy in the big blind.

Full Tilt Step 2 (1,500 chips)

An early JJ pops me up to 2,000 but I nearly get felted 34 hands in when I get over-confident and call an all-in with AJ. The all-in turns out to be AK and I drop to 530 chips. It doesn’t help that the other ticket winner from the previous game is in this one and is either an ardent admirer or has a novel method of making me a target by appearing to be a sycophant, praising every win and warning people getting into hands with me that they’re going to be sorry. I manage to double up twice in the next eight hands, with a K5 that pairs the top card on the flop and then 88 in my pocket, each of which sets off a barrage of admiration and my own attempts to deflect.

I lose another big pot to the same player as before with an out-kicked king (he’s got KA this time) and have to build my way back up from the sub-1K region again. We’re down to five players, I have 1,160 in the big blind at 100/200 and I’m dealt AQ. The guy who’s been beating me is first to act with a call. My fanboy’s on the button with 1,925 and raises to 900. The small blind folds and I shove all-in. UTG raises all-in—he’s the largest stack by far with 5,875—and the button preserves his remaining 1,025 with a fold. When the cards flip UTG has TT but he’s in a bit worse shape when the flop shows Q89. Another Q on the turn closes just means he has fewer chances for a straight, but the 8 on the river makes my full house instead. I move from fifth place to second, with 3,320 chips. Another 88 gets me 600 more chips.

Then I spend twenty-five hands waiting for a good opportunity as my stack shrinks from 3,800 to 1,700. I have to make a move at 120/240 and get very lucky with an all-in from the small blind holding 2A. By the turn I have a six-high straight and the A9 of my nemesis is busted. (My fan is gone by this time, thankfully). After my double-up, nemesis and I are relatively even at around 3K while the chip leader is at 7K.

I’m able to push a little better with a larger stack and—frankly—a better run of cards. I creep slowly up through the 4,000s and into the 5K range while meanwhile my nemesis doubles through the chip leader. Now we’re even at about 5,250 while the former chip leader is just above 2,500.

I manage to bump up to more than 7K with 87 in the big blind at 200/400 with a rivered nine-high straight. The two other players are now at about 3K. The non-nemesis opponent goes all-in from the button when I have AQ and I go all-in. He’s got just 2A, the Q shows on the turn, and the match is over after seventy minutes including sixteen just three-handed (there are two winners, so there was no heads-up play).

Full Tilt Step 3 (1,500 chips)

This game looked rather grim. I’d made it to Step 3 before only to crash and burn. Sixty hands and thirty-five minutes in, with blinds at 50/100 and only five players left and I was under the starting stack. Then a KJ in the big blind met up with a QAT flop and I pushed everyone away from 1,850 chips with an all-in for my straight. On the small blind the next hand my JQ double-paired on the river of a AKJ9Q board. A little scary but the all-in forced another fold for a profit of 1,350.

Three hands later I had the same combo in slightly different suits: JQ. I was the first to act and limped in for 120; I was heads-up against the big blind. The flop was a pretty safe 6Q2. Big blind bet 180 and I called. The 9 didn’t look scary to me and I matched the bet of 400. I figured a KT could have me beat on when J showed on the river, but I matched the 1,570 all-in bet and when he showed 96 it was mine.

I maintained top position three-handed at about 7K, hoping my two opponents with 3,500 each would weaken each other, to no avail for ten minutes. Then I matched a 480 raise from the small blind while I was in the big blind holding T8. The 383 flop gave me two pair but I should have been more leery of the 480 post-flop bet. I raised all-in and was called by A3. An A on the turn just made it worse and I was reduced to 3,700. A couple of hands later my all-in call with JQ failed to improve and was beat by 66, putting me out with another chance at Step 3.

Full Tilt Step 3 Turbo 18-Player (1,500 chips)

I re-raised a 3BB raise with AA ten minutes into this two-table match, inducing a three-bet all-in that I called. I was up against QQ and another ace showed on the flop, putting me in an early lead. I kept the lead as the table shrank through elimination and balancing to six players, then ran my TA into JA and lost 1,200 chips. A freak river 7 paired my A7 to wipe out a JA and put me over 5K. Then another four-flush struck when I stupidly contested the big stack’s big blind and I dropped from third place and a sure Step 4 ticket to sixth and Step 3 again.

We All Fall Down

Full Tilt Step 3 18-Player (1,500 chips)

Never got a really good hand and nothing else connected. My only pair in forty minutes of play was 33 and the best suited hand I had was T8 which won me a big 120 chips. I only took two pots larger than 200 chips, when I opened with double the big blind holding KT and the small blind followed holding QJ then the flop dropped A7K and we both checked it down to the river, where my kings took it. I managed to push another player off a flop of 62Q holding 6A for 350 chips.

The end came trying to make a position play. The final table was just a couple hands in, and I was dealt AT on the button, holding 930 chips with blinds at 60/120. UTG limped in, action folded to me and I limped, the small blind came along, and the big blind raised to 240. UTG called and I shoved. Small blind dropped out, big blind called with 3.5K behind, and UTG folded. I was up against AK. Neither of us connected but I was out on the bubble and off the Steps ladder.