Feat of Clay

Portland Players Club $250 Guarantee (2,000 chips)

By the first break in this game, I had one-sixth of the chips in play, with three tables still running. That slipped a bit, but by the time the final table was made, my portion was back up: to half of all the chips. You’d think that with an advantage like that at nine players I could pull out something better than a third-place finish, but an over-reliance on small pairs seems to be killing my end strategy. Something to correct.

Three-and-a-half hours. +225% ROI. 3rd of 24 players.

Aces Players Club $1,500 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

This could have gone so much better. I was seat 4, up about 1,000 chips in BB holding [td th] in the first level of the game. A couple of players limped, seat 9–who’d just rebought the previous hand–raised, then seat 1, who’d been hit hard, went all-in for about 1,800. Action folded to me and I shoved, getting a call (for less) from 9. Seat 9 flipped 99 and groaned when he saw my higher pair. The rebuy stack showed AK. I was in he lead with the best hand, but not favored to win, and two aces on the flop with a king on the river for the best-possible full house solidified my position. I busted out, rebought, and busted again to be the first man out.

Thirty-five minutes. -100% ROI. 34th of 34 players.

Four!

Aces Players Club 10pm Turbo (5,000 chips)

The night started off well. I was in seat three (BB) at the first table and was dealt Qx6x. I stayed in through the flop, hit two pair, and pushed the other players out on the turn. My second hand was A3 and I made the wheel on the flop, with several hundred in pre-flop bets in the pot. I checked, UTG2 opened for 400 and I raised to 1,000. He was the only caller. I bet another 1,500 on the turn and won. Ten minutes into the game, I was up 1,500 chips.

I won another 400 holding AxJx. The board double-paired itself by the turn as I was heads-up with another player and we were checking it down, then with an Ax on the river I made a bet of 200 and took the pot. Q4 made me another small pot when I caught the low pair on the flop and somehow made the best hand. “Pair of fours” became the catch-phrase of the night but it marked the turning point in my fortunes.

KxJx cost me 350 on one hand, then I dropped another 1,200 with JT and a board that went all diamondy. The winner hit the nut flush on the flop. Still, I had 5,975 at the half-hour.

My real turn-around hand was calling an all-in of 2,800 (about half my stack) with JT. It was a classic race with two over cards (suited, in my case) against a pair, but  when I went over the stats, I noticed something odd.

dyerware.com

Not only was the suited jack-ten combination favored over the pair of fives but it was the best suited connector hand overall against the lower pair, with an 8% relative advantage over even AK. According to the CardPlayer Poker Odds Calculator, something similar holds for 7x7x and lower, which is where the JTs combination has a better-than-even chance of winning. It didn’t in my case, however.

I went all-in on my next hand, holding KxTx and enough chips to get everyone except the guy to my immediate right to fold. He called and flipped AxAx and my initial buy-in was gone.

It was a turbo tournament, and we were already up to 200/400 by my re-buy. Raises were beginning to get even more aggressive. I called 1,600 with A6 and paired the lower card on the dryish flop, but folded to an all-in from three positions to my right. He took the pot, didn’t show, then announced it had been a “pair of fours”.

I shoved the rest of my second stack shortly thereafter holding 3x3x. Got called by a player two seats to my left, he hit his ace on the flop and I was gone. Even a pair of fours wouldn’t have helped me.

Fifty minutes. 16th of 16 players. -100%ROI.

 

Breakthroughs: Post 100; Money in $10K

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

Once it was obvious I wasn’t winning the Player of the Year pool money for a WSOP buy-in this year, I decided to step up my tournament play to see if I could make it up that way. Of course, after Black Friday, that meant more live tournaments, and I got off to a great start with the freeroll I played in early May and the turbo a couple of nights later that gave me back to back first-place finishes. Needless to say, that record hasn’t been maintained through the past six weeks, but I have stayed at around a 25% cash average since the first of June. 6 cashes in 26 tournaments.

Six hours in to the Encore $10K

The last one is the most interesting (and frustrating) to me. DV and I entered Encore’s monthly $10K Guarantee with the agreement that we’d split any winnings, the same agreement we’d made before the Ace of Spades game a couple of weeks earlier.

My game got off to a great start. I was in seat 4 and picked up 8x8x on the third hand of the match as SB. I’d lost a few chips on the earlier hands but still had about 9,500. The flop was 7x6x5x and I started betting heavily. The field narrowed to me and BB who stayed in. The turn 4x gave me my straight and I really pushed but there was a flush draw on the board, as well and BB re-raised. I shoved, he called, and he missed his flush but I got 9x for an even higher straight.  He was seriously crippled by the fourth hand and I was over 19K.

The first of my big mistakes came shortly thereafter. I had 68, two clubs showed on the flop, and I got into a bidding war with seat 7 that ended up with me having about 7,000 chips in by the river, which gave me a flush. Seat 7 turned up two pair and I flipped over 68, which paired an 8x on the board but wasn’t a flush. I sucked up the loss of most of the gain I’d made just a few hands earlier and kicked myself for wearing contacts instead of my glasses.

I played AxJx and paired the Jx high card on the flop but was beat by pocket KxKx and was down to 11K.

An all-diamond flop forced me to lay down 700 chips along with JT. Likewise, I raised 800 on AQ and folded when the top cards on the flop were K7.

A2 gave me diamonds for a change and I made a set of deuces but four hearts on the board made a flush for someone and I was down to 8,000 chips.

The last hand before the first break put QxQx into my hands and I managed to practically double up by busting out a player. After buying the 7K add-on, I had 25,500.

This, of course, did not last long. I bet big with AT on a TxQxKx flop and another player came over the top, leaving me with 17K by the end of that hand. Then a pair of 9x9x lost me 4,325 more when I called an all-in and their JT drew to a flush on the river. At the three hour mark my stack was back down to 11,875.

AxJx (not a Mutant Jack) took down the blinds for me when I opened with a raise to 2,500. Then I called a bb of 800 and folded to an all-in.

Ax5x is usually something I dislike playing but I saw a 5xTx5x on the flop and bet erratically, which ended up making me 20K. The guy next to me said he had no idea what I had.

Then I was lucky enough to grab a pair of KxKx as BB and went all-in after a 5K raise from the CO. He called, showed AxQx and almost made a straight (though that was more difficult with two of the kings in my hand), and I was up to 40K. By break three that was 59,400.

Back in the thick of things, K4 hit two pair on the flop and ended up with two players all-in against me when another 4x showed on the river, knocking them both out. By 4 hours and 30 minutes in I had 76,500.

I called a raise to 2K with QT but had to fold to two all-in bets, then lost another 6600 with A3 after a flop that utterly failed to connect.

My QxTx made two pair on the flop after I bet 5K pre-flop, and I called another player’s all-in. They showed four to a straight but beat me with a royal flush on the turn. That cost me about 30K and left me with 40,000 in chips at the 3 hours and fifty minutes mark.

I raised to 6K with another A5 and was re-raised. The re-raiser showed KxKx at showdown with another player. I would have made two pair on the board but a flush came and I would have lost anyway.

Five hours into the match, I was down to 22,000 chips, only 5K above the amount I’d received as a starting stack and add-on.

I managed to steal the blinds and antes with an all-in holding A9. At least I was big enough for the people at my table not to want to tangle with me all of the time.

Fifteen minutes later I was up to 24,500, with my ill-gotten blinds and antes.

I knocked out another player by calling an all-in with KxQx. They held Kx9x and stayed behind across the board. The Mutant Jack JA made two pair on the flop and earned me another 10K. Five hours and thirty minutes into the game, I’d made it back up to 45,500.

A Mutant Jack of hearts (AJ) and a bet of 12K got a call and then took the pot for me. Then I played a dangerous 3x3x, hitting a set on the flop and won another pot. Took out a player when the QJ paired the queen. By six-and-a-quarter hours, my stack was finally over the chip average again, with 95,000.

Raising to 15K with KxQx, another player came over the top and I laid it down, which was good because the hand went to showdown and I would have lost to the AxAx. Playing another A5 (see above), I caught the flush and took in over 50K, which put me at 131,500 by six hours and forty-five minutes.

Laid down another KxQx and 8K on a call to an all-in. Some more proffers gone wrong cut me down again to 80K in just half an hour.

Pocket 8x8x made quads for me, knocking out another player (who was holding AxJx) and getting my stack out of the doldrums. At the 8K/16K/2K level, a raise to 36K with Ax9x took down the blinds. The I used AxJx and knocked another player out. My stack was up to 220K just shy of eight hours into the tournament.

A call on my part with 36 lost me my BB and another 11K calling an all-in. I lost an extra 10K as the SB at the 10K/20K?4K level calling to see the flop with Q9 and folding to a post-flop bet from BB after my hand missed.

Ax9x again and a 40K min-raise took down the blinds again.

I called a small all-in with J5. He flipped over 2x2x. The odds calculators say that one’s a coin flip but if he’d had anything higher than a pair of 4x4x I probably would have lost. I didn’t, though and another player was down.

My last hand was played at 20K/40K/4K. I was in seat 5 at the final table, with eight players remaining, on BB with about 200K behind. There were somewhere over 2.3 million chips in play at the table, but about half of them were in the hands of the player in seat 7. A couple players had between 300K and 400K and the rest of us were down to just three or four big blinds. UTG folded and the big stack as UTG1 opened with a raise to 600K. Action folded around to SB, who went all-in. I had a clubby Mutant Jack: AJ. I was all-in. The giant stack turned over 6x6x, SB had me dominated with AK. Both the ace hands were losers, though, as the pair held up across the board. Two clubs on the board left me just short of what would have been a nut flush. I went out in seventh or eighth place; since the payout for both was the same, they didn’t count the chips to see who’d been ahead.

If my back hadn’t been to the screen, I might have made the wiser choice to lay down and let the the endgame play out. We were just short of the big money in the tournament, players were going to have to make moves just to stay ahead of the voracious blinds, and I likely could have moved up the pay scale by letting the blinds wash over me. After another 20K for the small blind, I wouldn’t have had to deal with them for a few hands and there would have been time for someone else to bust out (which happened on the next hand).

Nine-and-a-half hours. Finished 7th/8th of 141 players. +210% ROI (including buy-in, add-on, tip).

The Poker Mutant at the Final Table

I’d Like to Thank the Academy

Full Tilt 90-Player Turbo KO Sit & Go (3,000 chips)

D and I were talking after the last tournament about playing on Full Tilt and he mentioned that he’s been working on some of their Academy challenges, and that doing so sort of puts you out of your comfort zone, which could be good or bad, depending on how it goes. He wanted the little hat that apparently goes on your badge at the table, too. I went to the Full Tilt Academy and looked for a Challenge for myself, finding “Tournament Checklist” by Andy Bloch.

Basically, the Challenge is to:

  1. With a stack of 50 or more big blinds, call a raise and see a flop with no-gap or one-gap suited connectors smaller than 10 or a suited ace with a kicker of 8 or less. Do it twice.
  2. With a stack of 25 to 50 big blinds, fold the same set of cards to a raise twice.
  3. With a stack of 15 to 25 times the big blind, re-raise all-in (and win) with suited Ax8x or less, pocket pair 8x8x or less, or KxJx, KxQx (suited or unsuited).
  4. With a stack of 15 big blinds or less, open raise all-in and win with the same set of cards.
  5. Cash in a normal tournament and a turbo tournament within 48 hours.

All of the tasks have to be completed in real money games of 45 or more players; they can’t be Rush, On-Demand, or Multi-Entry tournaments (which makes it a bit hard as Full Tilt keeps adding those options to every tournament).

Anyway, I made my first stab at the Challenge in a 90-player game last night.

My first chance came eight hands in. I had 2,910 chips—73BB—on the button with 5A. But nobody raised! Just three limpers ahead of me. I suppose I could have raised to see if I could provoke a re-raise that I could call before the flop. 68A and action folded all the way around to me. I bet 80 and got one call. Q on the turn game me a flush draw so I bet 200 after it was checked to me and took the pot.

Picked up 99 three hands later and raised to 190 (leaving an even 3,000 behind) after one player limped in for 50. Got calls from hijack, cutoff, and the limper in UTG+2. Flop of 47K. Limper checked and I bet 200. HJ called and the others folded. 1,235 in the pot and a Q on the river. Limper was down to about 2,100; I had 2,800. I checked and he followed to see the K on the river. I bet another 200 and he must have been hoping his pair was good with 79. I can only with the case nine had shown up because I think he would have been all-in.

AQ cost me a couple hundred a few hands later but the very next hand I picked up the Mutant Jack: AJ on the button. UTG limped for 80 and I called. Small blind raised to 320, BB and UTG called, then I re-raised to 640. Everyone called and there was 2,560 (32BB) in the pot preflop. 499 gave me a nut flush draw. Everyone checked to me and I went all-in for 3,075. I had SB covered; BB had 3,455; UTG was big stack at the table with 8,350.

I had 5,415 on the BB at 60/120 (45BB) a little later with the “computer hand” of 7Q. Not exactly something I’d play nine-handed but there was only one caller with a little larger stack than me. The flop was K76 and I bet 180 on my middle pair, getting a call. 3 on the turn, I checked and the other guy bet 120, which I called. My seven tripped up with 7 on the river and I bet 600, getting paid off by the JK.

My premium 9A and KQ hands both cost me more than 1K each shortly thereafter, however, the first after I laid it down in the face of nothing connecting and a large post-flop bet, and the second on the turn after a third club appeared on the turn and my opponent went all-in. Those cut me down from over 6,600 to just under 4,300.

And that’s where I was when my second chance for completing an Academy task came, with A3 on the BB of 160. I had just over 25 big blinds. UTG raised to 560 and action folded all the way to me. I was supposed to fold to a raise here, per task 2 but I’d miscalculated the division and though I was below 25 blinds and was supposed to try to re-raise and win. I got the first part of it right, anyway. He had only 55 chips behind but 88 in his hand. No diamonds on the board, just one Tx short of Broadway.

37 minutes, 31 hands. No tasks completed. No KOs. 46th place.

The Nines

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

I ended up entering this tournament twice. There were a total of 435 entries from 295 players. Looking at the payouts, it’s sort of sobering to see how the multi-entry format makes it possible to make it into the money but still be behind at the end. One ninth of the forty-five players who got payouts were anywhere from a couple cents to an entire buyin underwater.

My first entry came to a screeching halt fairly early with KA. I’d fallen to just over 1,000 chips and got some good cards in UTG+3, raising to 125, but got a call from the small blind. The flop was uncoöperative with 3T7 and I tried to push it with a 300 bet but got an all-in from the SB, who still had an inferior hand with their 89 but was in good shape with a larger stack. I called (obviously, or I wouldn’t know their cards) and a 6 made their straight on the turn.

I had a little better luck with the second entry (I don’t make them simultaneously) but it was AK that did me in after a bit longer session. I was in the small blind, UTG+3 limped in, I raised to 600 and it was down to me and the UTG+3 when he called. 4TT on the flop. I made the desperate move of going all-in and he called me—with more than 20K and 8T in his hand, who wouldn’t? I was out—twice!—first in 142nd place and then in 86th. 28 minutes total.

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

15 minutes. 140th place out of 264 entries.

Full Tilt Multi-Rush On Demand (1,500 chips)

7 minutes. 152nd place out of 223 entries. Not an improvement.

Full Tilt miniFTOPS Event #44 6-Max KO $350,000 Guarantee (5,000 chips)

Play started off slow for me in this game: at least, it felt slow compared to the Rush games. But I really do like the 6-Max format, and the fact that this had knockout bounties and a large purse made it very attractive to me, despite the rather ugly history of my previous miniFTOPS outing.

I’d only lost a hundred or so chips to blinds when I picked up my first win ten minutes into the game with KJ. There was 140 in the pot and a flop of K3K which three players checked around. Another 3 on the turn and I popped out 40 for a bet, getting one call from a player who’d already lost a couple thousand chips. The 9 meant nothing to my full house, so I matched the pot and got a callI don’t know why—from the other player, holding A7.

The same guy got into it with me on the next hand. I had A2 and I was heads-up after raising to 90 pre-flop. The flop was J77, and I bet 75 after a check from the other player. 3 on the turn and we both checked. I got a pair with the river A. He bet 105 and I just called. He could have had another 7x or an Ax with a higher kicker—it wouldn’t have been hard—but no, just T2. It baffled me but I took the chips. He was moved to another table shortly thereafter.

Twenty minutes into the match we were playing five-handed and, I got Q8 in the UTG+1/hijack seat. Sort of an iffy hand—not high enough to make a killer pair, tent ends of a straight—but it’s in The Grid for six-handed play. Blinds were 15/30, UTG folded, and I raised to 75. Small blind called and the flop made the hand iffy no longer: [1h]26. I bet 120 after SB checked, then he called. 8 on the turn and he led out with 180, which I re-raised to 360, getting a call. 4 on the river. He checked and I made a 300 chip bet hoping that seemed weak enough to lure him in. He called and showed 77. I was up over 6,400.

My first bounty came with a player who’d lost all but 600 of his chips half-an-hour in, most in a 3-way battle with him having AxTx double-paired against a guy who was playing a suited queen and drew to a flush (not me). I was in the small blind with 99. UTG and the small stack on the button limped in. I raised to 120, which was met by both the limpers. 386 was the flop and I figured I’d keep the gas on, fairly certain that the small stack was going all-in. UTG dropped out; the button raised all-in for 490. I called and he flipped over 77, which wasn’t good news for him. J and Q on the turn and river. Pushed me up to just about 7K.

More pocket pairs: JJ on the big blind. Button—big stack at the table—raised to 150 and I re-raised to 325. The flop was T67. I bet out 400 and got a call. 8 on the turn improved my hand to a straight draw, which I checked just for fun, provoking an 800 bet. Who wouldn’t call that? The river 3 didn’t make any difference, but I was a little concerned he might have a 9x. I checked and he did, too, but his A6 wasn’t going anywhere and I was the big stack at the table for the next hand, with over 7,600 chips.

The Mutant Jack showed up to propel me over 10K about 45 minutes in. I was in the cutoff position with JA at 30/60. Two players to my left had more chips than I did (both had been brought in from other tables). UTG raised to 180, hijack called, I called, small blind called. 780 in the pot when the 4QA flop showed. UTG bet 780, so I was guessing he had an Ax. I called (Did he have a Kx? Was he already double-paired?). T for the turn. He bet again: 420. I figured: “What the heck, it’s the Mutant Jack.” 7 river. A whole lot of potential double-paired kicker combos out there; he might not need to have anything better than the J. He bet another 600, I gulped and paid the price, but all he had was A2. I only had 10,017, so I didn’t stay above the line for more than a hand.

AT was my last hand before the first break, and I picked up about 500 chips with it, which got me back over the line by 50. I popped off a note to Tomer, who had just arrived in Austria for EPT Snowfest. At the break, the chip average was 6,900, there were 10,900 players (registration was still open), and I was in 1,188th place. Tomer wrote back that he was watching my table while he ate dinner. Yikes!

A quarter-hour after the break, I’d only won one hand—and that was just the blinds. I was down to about 9K when I picked up 7Q on the button. Everything I said about 8Q above goes double for this pair of cards, and it won’t even make the straight. But it is on The Grid for six players, so long as you don’t put too much faith in it. The blinds were 50/100 and hijack raised to 214. I called and the big blind came along. Both stacks were a good bit smaller than me. The flop was a semi-promising TJ4. BB checked, HJ bet 345, I called and BB folded. A K showed on the turn and HJ bet another 645. I had a straight and flush draw but nothing else. I called. 7 on the river, a bet of 1,245 from HJ. I folded and consoled myself with having an 80% win rate at showdown, but I was down to 7,900 chips.

I continued a steady, slow bleed of chips after that, at one point folding five hands in a row after putting out blinds or bets. I was down to 6,000 before I managed to turn things around with JJ that turned into trips on the flop. My real breakthrough came halfway through the second hour when I made the first of two big mistakes.

I was on the button with about 7,200 chips. Both the blinds (which were 80/160) had about 3,500. UTG and cutoff were both over 10K, and hijack had a few hundred more than I did. Both the big stacks stayed out of this hand, but HJ bet 324. With 99 in my hand, I raised to 560. Short-stacked big blind went all-in for 3,561. HJ folded but I thought BB was pushing with a strong ace. Calling would cost me half my stack if I lost but I did it, feeling very stupid when he flipped over QQ. The 653 flop was bleak, but the turn and river were 99 for some major suckage. Another bounty and I was up to 11K. I managed to get over 12K, but within 20 minutes I was back below the 8K mark.

Someone else’s nines didn’t fare so well against me just before second break. Blinds were 120/240/25 and I was on the button again, only with AA. UTG—with only about 2,500 chips—raised to 555. I re-raised to 1,080, the blinds got out of the way, and UTG called. The flop was K52, he checked, and I bet 480, fairly sure he was committed to going all-in. He did and I called. 99, but no miracle for him on the turn and river, just 24. That netted me 3K and put me back near 12K. I was falling further behind the leaders, though, with all of this up-and-down motion.

My last bounty came through no action of my own, shortly after the second break. I was big blind with A7, so I was playing, no matter what. Action folded all the way around to the small blind, who had only about 2,200. He went all-in and I called, with more than 9K behind. He flipped K3, the board ran out Q99A8, and I scooped his chips.

Another series of decent cards that didn’t connect followed that, and I’d slipped down to 9,200 twenty minutes after the second break. Blinds were 170/340/25, and I was on the big blind holding 43, which I would normally just toss. Hijack min-raised to 680, everyone else folded, and I thought I’d get fancy and play my low cards to see if they’d connect. We were almost evenly matched, with me having about 400 more chips. The flop was 223! I had a pair! I bet 1,680 (the pot) and got a re-raise for 8,090. I could have stopped there and saved my 6,800 chips but I called and he rolled over 44. If only my hand had been 2x3x. KJ on the turn and river. On my next and last hand I was one card away from a flush and a straight that would have ended in a split pot but my J8 was beat by a 5J that paired the first card on the flop.

140 minutes, 4 bounties, -38% ROI. Finished 6,311 out of 17,102 players.

It’s a busy week in the non-poker sphere but I’m watching Tomer’s progress at Snowfest today; tonight I’ll be trying to get my quest for the puffmammy POY back on track, and this weekend is one of our double-point quarterly events.

The Hand 130 Curse Again

Man, do I feel stupid.

Yesterday’s Irish Open Semi-Final got off to a decent start. With direct buy-ins, forty players were in the competition, and the prize pool had seven tickets to the final (which was set to begin two hours after the start of the semi-final).

A4 was the hand of the day. I made my first two wins with 4A and 4A before a TQ popped me up to more than twice the 3K starting stack. Then I took my first hit from an A4 that turned into a 5-high straight flush.

I had a dry card spell for a while and slipped back down to near the starting stack until things kicked into gear just before the break at the end of the first hour, with blinds at 50/100. I had a sketchy J8 but called a raise of 200 from UTG+1. The big blind called and there were three of us to a JT3 flop. Action checked to me in the cutoff seat and I bet 300 with both other players calling. 7 showed up on the turn, giving me top pair and a gut-shot straight draw. I put out another 300. The big blind called but UTG+1 gave up.

The 8 hit on the river. I had two pair but there was a potential flush on the board. I had 2,800 chips, covering the stack in the big blind by about 900. He went all-in and I called, and I was glad a 9 hadn’t showed because he had KQ for an open-end straight draw. That was all he had, though so my two pair cleaned him out.

Ten minutes later, after the break, I got the Mutant Jack: AJ. Blinds were at 75/150 and I raised to 300 from UTG+1, leaving 7,500 behind. The button, with about 6.150, re-raised to 1,050 and both the blinds folded, leaving me heads-up. I called. The flop was a somewhat worrying J99 and I checked. The button put out nearly half his stack as a bet and I raised him all-in, seeing it as an attempt to push me off. He called and showed TT, giving me a one-better two pair. The 7 on the turn was very unwelcome, whaat with 12.5K in the pot, but the river Q meant I was up to more than 14K, or 11.6% of the chips in play in the tournament. More on that later.

Another bluff attempt gave me my next bump in another ten minutes. I was dealt A7 in the small blind, at the 100/200 level. The only caller was UTG and when action got to me I raised to 400. The big blind folded, but UTG called and I was rewarded with a flop of 64J. I wanted to try to get as many chips out of this as I could and checked. So did UTG. The 3 showed on the turn, which gave straight possibilities to anyone playing some low hands. I tapped the gas with a bet of 400, which was called. The flop was a somewhat unwelcome 5, which made it possible that my ace-high flush could be beaten by someone holding 23 for a 6-high straight flush, but that’s pretty unlikely (although I saw a straight flush the other day). Since I had the 7 he couldn’t be straight flushing the other direction. I put out 1,000, figuring that he’d fold. Much to my surprise, he raised to 4,800. He either had the straight flush or a good fifth heart or a lot of bluff. I knew I had the best regular flush and took the chance he hadn’t bet out 400 on 23. I raised all-in (I probably should have just called, he had  me covered by several thousand) and he folded.

Eventually I was up to nearly 20K in chips with just under 1/6 of the chips in the tournament. I was the chip leader (and I’d been the chip leader for a period earlier, as well). I should have been satisfied. With seven tickets to the final, the average stack at the end of play would have about 17K. All I had to do was make safe bets to stay in the mid-teens—or in all likelihood, just fold—for the rest of the tournament. But what time was it?

It was hand 130, or close enough. On hand 120, I picked up KA. Great hand, much of the time but did I really need the chips? There were only seven at the table at 125/250/20. I was in the hijack seat and UTG+1 raised to 625. Me with my big, manly AK raised to 1,000. Everyone but the original raiser folded. A Q6A flops and he, impressed by my magnificence checks, as do I. An 8 turns up, he checks and I bet 1,000, which is called. A 2 shows on the river and he pretends to have a flush, betting 2,775. I call. Not only does he have a flush but at best I would have been splitting the pot because he’s got AK.

Bad, sure but recoverable. I still have nearly 15K in chips. I’m still in the top three in the tournament. Five minutes later we’re still in the same level. I’m holding KQ in UTG+1 and raise to 500. The hijack (with 6K in chips) and big blind (8K) both call. The flop falls 72K and I bet 500 when it’s my turn. Hijack raises to 2,000 and the big blind folds. The hijack only has 3,333 behind and I raise him all-in. Lucky him, because he’s holding KA. No queen shows up to save me and I’m down to 8.5K and in seventh place on the leaderboard, which means unless I can climb back up I’m probably out of the running for a finals ticket. That was hand 129.

Of course, my attempts to climb back up only submerge me further. The Mutant Jack fails me at one point to the tune of several thousands chips, dropping me below the starting stack. I manage to claw my way back into relevance with a QA and 96 (which I wouldn’t usually play except I was in the big blind.

My last big hand came down to me in the small blind with A7 and the big blind with AJ. The board was 54K K 8 and it was the jack that decided the outcome. After that it was just a couple more hands before I was out in tenth place with the smallest of the cash prizes.

As it was, we didn’t finish before the beginning of the Final. My elimination came tw0-and-a-half hours into the tournament and anyone who got a ticket to the final would have had to enter after that point. Nobody from our semi-final seems to have won either of the two packages awarded in the final.

The chart below shows my chip count throughout the 179 hands I played. The green line is the projection of my chips if I’d done nothing but fold after reaching the my peak, which would have been about 13,750 at hand 180. At the time I was eliminated—with just two more eliminations to go before the tournament was over—only three of the ten players had more than 14,000 chips.

Chip count chart for Irish Open Semi-Final 30 January 2011

Chip count chart for Irish Open Semi-Final 30 January 2011. Red line shows actual chips; green line shows projected chip stack based on folding only.

After W put me out with the A4 last week at the Catsino, I ran across this report from the Aussie Millions $250,000 buy-in event‘s final table:

[Sam] Trickett was responsible for much of the mayhem during this stretch, eliminating four of the six players who fell during the bustout bonanza. He took 3.2 million into heads-up play against the 1 million of David Benyamine and the 700,000 of Erik Seidel. It wasn’t long before he scored a fifth elimination at the final table. Trickett moved all in with the board showing AT8A and Benyamine made the call. Their cards:

Trickett: A4
Benyamine: A6

River: 4!

Dialing In?

Full Tilt Midnight Madness tournament results

I’ve played Full Tilt’s Midnight Madness eight times now, mostly in the week since Christmas, with a deep run last Saturday night. Since that win, I’ve been trying to fine-tune a new strategy based on the results of my pre-flop calculator testing.

I see a few possibilities from the results above:

  1. I don’t have enough data points to accurately gauge the results of the new strategy.
  2. I’m too distracted by looking up hands on the new tables I’m using to pay attention to the rest of the action and play as well as I had been.
  3. I’m delivering consistent results but I need to get a better feel for the new strategy and improve it.
  4. The new strategy sucks compared to the old strategy.