The Big Push

It’s been a busy couple weeks here at Mutant Poker Central, as I get ready to head down to Las Vegas to see if the minor success I’ve had in Portland can finally translate to an out-of-town venue. So far, I’ve struck out at Foxwoods, the Venetian (twice), and Pendleton, but the number of events I’ve played too small to be statistically significant.

So much to do with plans to be in Vegas for two weeks. First off, my venerable card cover—the helmet off of a figurine of Professor Frink from The Simpsons—has seen a lot of wear over the past couple of years. I’ve been hoping to find a way to get it machined in aluminum and asked a friend with a CNC machine shop about it but, as expected, he said it would cost an incredible amount of money to get it made. He did mention that there were 3D printers who did metal pieces, though (he has a plastic 3D printer) and when I looked into it, I found Shapeways.com, which will print your 3D designs in just about everything from plastic to glass to silver to a stretchy polymer. All of my 3D design software is on my old pre-Intel Mac, and at first I was a bit stymied about how I was going to develop the model but eventually I managed to pick up enough about the free, open-source 3D tool Blender to get my model done in a day. With a couple of missteps, I managed to get an order in for copies in alumina and stainless steel and hopefully they’ll arrive before I set off for Vegas (didn’t happen, but they arrived in Portland the night I left and someone special is going to ship them). If you’re from Oregon and you see the cap, say hi to the Mutant.

Then I got an offer of a free room from MH—Portland player and fellow college alum—for nearly half my stay, so that was fine. I spent an evening running an alumni tournament with him during the annual reunion weekend. Paying bills up, getting some decent summer clothes together (it’s supposed to be 108° in Vegas next week). A lot of stuff to do. Since I’m driving down (and it’s supposed to be 108° in Vegas), get the car checked out for its 50,000-mile service.

Plus, of course, there’s the last-minute drive to build up the bankroll a little bit.

Encore Club $1,800 Guarantee Freezeout (T8,000)

I wasn’t taking perfect notes on this tournament, but I hit something in the first ten minutes on a 7x7x7x3x3x board that put me up about 1,700 chips.

I played K3 from SB at the half-hour mark and hit the bottom of the flop, but a jack and a bet of 1,500 on the turn made me fold, so I was back down to 8,800 after that hand.

UTG1 with Ax2x and a min-raise got three calls but I won the hand.

At the 45-minute point, I called a 1,025 chip all-in post-flop holding Qx8x on a  QxKxTx flop. He had KxTx and boated on the turn with Kx. I boated on the river with Qx but nobody cared.

SB with T4 and the flop was Tx4xTx. I checked, then raised to 2,000 over a 600 bet. Maybe I should have just called.

T11,100 at fifty minutes.

4x4x on UTG1, I tried to get people off, but the flop was horrible.

BB holding 67 and I double-paired on the flop but had to gut out a raise with a flush draw on the turn until 6x on the river made my full house and my all in won the pot.

In SB with 68 on the next hand and I saw a flop of 5x5x6x. Bet 600 and won the pot.

CO two hands later and I got 9x9x I raised 700, BB goes all-in and gets two calls. Flop is KxQx7x and I bet 600. The other player calls but folds to another bet on the river and I knock out BB.

At the break, I have T24,350.

My first big hand after the bread was AxQx. I made a full house on the flop (aces over queens) and took most of the stack of a player with AxKx. Then I picked up the suited AQ on the next hand and won against two all-ins, putting me up to 39,900 at 90 minutes.

I made a flush on the turn with J7 and took the last 3,500 from another player. Ten minutes later, I was up to 53,100.

With 7x3x UTG1, I bet on the 6x6x7x flop but folded to a raise of 2,100 from BB. Action on that hand and a couple previous took me down under 50,000.

UTG with KxJx, I called, then called a raise to 2,000 from BB. Folded to a bet on the 3x3x5x flop.

Raised to 1,300 from SV with Ax2x and BB re-raised 3,300 all-in. I called the extra 2,000 and lost to AxKx. By the time I was in HJ position, just before the end of the second hour of play, I was down to 44,200, but the average stack was still way down at 13,700, with 35 of 60 players left.

In UTG3, called a UTG2 raise to 1,600 along with the BB but folded to a UTG2 bet on a low flop.

Just after the hour, I was down to 39,200 (average: 14545). 33 players left.

Raised with K4 to 1,800 and was heads-up to the flop of 4x5x7x. A bet of 2,200 took it down.

UTG with KT and I raised to 1,800 again, getting a flop of AxQx8x. I folded to an all-in.

On BB, I folded Ax8x to two all-ins (the largest of which was only 4,200). The other two players were Ax8x and AxQx, and the eight won with a pair, so I would have chopped up one of the players.

My count when the button came around at 140 minutes was T37,100, still more than twice the T16,000 average. Half the field was gone.

I laid low for a couple of hands, then played KT UTG3 and raised to 1,600. UTG3 went all-in and I called against 5x5x to knock out another player. I really ought to have been playing a bounty tournament.

UTG with A8 a few minutes later and I raised to 1,600, getting a call. The flop was 4x4x8x and I bet 10,000 to win.

Two-and-a-half hours into the game and I was back up to T43,200. 25 players left and the chip average was T19,200.

A raise to 2,500 from HJ with 79 took the blinds fifteen minutes later; when I was UTG2 at 2:50 (with 22 players left) I had T44,400, still 213% chip average.

UTG ten minutes later with 77 and I raised to 3,600 with blinds at 800/1,600. BB called and the flop was Qx9x6x. I went all-in after he checked and took the pot.

By the time I was BTN again five minutes later, there were only 19 players remaining, I was holding steady at T44,600.

Fifteen minutes later, I noted that I knocked out a player but couldn’t remember with what. In any case, the number remaining was down to 17, and I had reached T63,000, 223% of average.

I promptly lost over 10,000 holding 2x2x in CO with a three-bet to 5,000. UTG went all-in with 7x7x and I called, so halfway into the third hour I was back down to T49,200, this time only 143%  of the chip average with 14 players left.

Raised to 5,000 from CO with KxJx and took the blinds, but I was down to T47,200 on my next BTN with the average at 40,000 and 12 players left. 2x2x did me in again there when I called a 6,500 raise and folded to an all-in on a KxQx8x flop.

Then I lost 13,000 as CO with QxTx after I folded to an all-in over my 6,500 raise.

Fifteen minutes before the end of the third hour saw me below the average stack for the first time since the beginning of the game, with just T28,000 (70% of average).

Then, about ten minutes later, I picked up AxAx in SB and raised to 6,500 to win a hand and opened from BTN to 7,000 with 46 to take down the blinds.  I tried the same thing UTG1 with A3 and got three calls to see a flop of 5x7x9x but folded to a BB all-in.

Just after midnight (four hours), I’d clawed up to T30,000. With 11 players remaining, that was still losing ground, though, at 69% of average.

The blinds were eating away at my stack. Without much in the way of what even I consider playable cards, I was down to 25,500 and then 19,500 after the next two passes of the button.

UTG with 8x8x I shoved and was called by both a short stack and BB. They had 6x6x and 5x5x, but a set on the flop for me pretty much guaranteed my win.

Next hand, an all-in with AxQx over a SB limp took it down.

In the course of the next round of the button, I was up to T113,000, above the average of 80,000, with six players remaining. I was the chip leader by 1,000. We did a 6-way ICM chop; my lead (0.21% of the chips) was worth an extra $5 0.14% of the pot).

Five hours. +925% ROI. Six-way ICM chop, 60 entries.

Encore Club $5,000 Guarantee (T9,000)

Fifteen minutes in, I call a raise to 250 in a 3-way pot from UTG2 and get a 9x7x2x flop. Bottom pair and bad kicker! Just my type of hand! I called 350 to see a seven on the turn, then BYN bet 600 and I folded. BTN showed 9x9x.

UTG1 with QxJx and I call 375 in a 4-way pot. I’m on safer territory with Qx6x4x and a bet of 700 takes it down.

UTG with A6 and I called 900 on a flop of Ax2x5x  but something about a bet on the turn scared me off and I folded.

8x4x on BB and I called down to the river after a flop of Kx7x5x but I didn’t get anywhere.

On CO (what? I didn’t play two hands?) I raised to 250 with AQ and got three calls. Ended up losing to 2x4x and a wheel possibility on the board that I completely missed. Thirty-five minutes in and I was down to T5,350.

I raised UTG3 with J9 and got two calls. A bet of 1,000 on the J75 flop won; I was kind of hoping all they put me on was a flush draw. That got me a few hundred back.

I saw the flop with both my blinds; by the time I was on BTN I was back down to T5,500.

Just after the first hour, I raised 450 from late position with A8 and was re-raised to 1,700 by BTN. Encore reg SH shoved from SB. I folded. I don’t remember what BTN or SH had, but I remember it didn’t beat what I would have had with two clubs on the flop and another on the turn.

I’d been moved to the same table as my poker league capo, DV, and when I limped UTG with KQ, he raised to 1,700. I shoved and he called with TxTx. I doubled up. The usual conversation about suited vs. unsuited broke out. I think I’m going to start explaining it this way:

Say you’re in a tournament and there’s going to be a chop of $100,000. You haven’t got a large stack, so you’re not going to get the bulk of the money, but you’re offered a choice of $12,000 or $15,000. Is the $12,000 just as good because there’s only a $3,000 difference? No! $15,000 is much better than $12,000, because it’s 25% more, in relative terms.

Of course, where that explanation breaks down is in the fact that poker odds are a zero-sum equation. It doesn’t matter in a chop if you’re taking money from someone (unless you really hate them), but when your hand’s odds improve in poker it is at the expense of your hand losing. If you have a 12% chance of winning a pot, you have an 88% chance of losing. That’s a ratio of 1:7.33. If your hand improves to 15%, it can only lose 85% of the time, which is a ratio of 1:5.66. That’s considerably better. The math skills of my fellow Americans dismay me.

Anyway, I was up to T8,450 at seventy-five minutes; not quite back at starting stack.

With KT I raised on a Kx5x6x flop and BB went allin for 1,700 (even shorter stacked than me). I called and he showed bottom two pair, but a king turn and a ten on the river made my house full and my stack slightly more so.

At the half-hour when I was UTG1 again, I was up to T10,100, and I bought the T6000 add-on at break.

I laid low for most of the first half-hour then flopped Broadway heads-up with QJ. I checked, then bet 2,000 on the queen turn and won.

UTG with AxAx and I raised 1,000, then called a re-raise. An ace hit the flop, my opponent bet and I raised all-in. He called with AxKx and I knocked him out.

That gave me a little momentary fred, so when I raised to 1,300 from HJ with Q6, nobody peeped.

As the button approached again early in the third hour, I’d managed to get up to T29,525, almost 40% above chip average, with 93 of 117 players remaining.

The third hour was quiet, with me picking up some small pots but no major hands. Half-an-hour in, I was up to T32,425. Then ten minutes later I tried a raise of 1,800 with 9xTx from HJ, got a call, checked the AxJx2x flop, then folded to a bet of 3,500 from BTN. Blinds were up to 600/1,200/200.

UTG with Q6, I raised to 2,500 and was raised by BB. I called and saw a QxQx7x flop. He shoved and I called for the knockout. A queen in the next hand meant another knockout, then I was moved to a new table, where I sat down with T77,000 (average 31,285). With just 63 players remaining, half the field was gone at the end of the third hour.

Didn’t do much for the first half-hour; when I was on the button after three-and-a-half hours of play,  had T73,600.

Then, as CO, I called 1,600 with Qx8x in a 5-way pot. The flop was AxTx9x and I stayed with it to the river as everyone checked it, but didn’t go anywhere and folded to a bet without even a pair.

Ten minutes later, I lost a chunk trying to draw a straight with Qx9x, but with an all-in on the turn, I folded and I was down to T53,000.

UTG with AxJx. I call 2,000. Action folds to SB, who calls. BB checks. Flop is Jx8x5x and BB bets 3,000. I raise to 15,000 and he calls. On the river, we chop the pot. T59,100.

AxAx again, this time on BTN. UTG goes all-in, HJ calls, I shove, and HJ open folds 8x8x, which would have won on the river if he’d stayed in. Another knockout.

I call a raise to 6,000 with JxKx and the flop is KxTx6x. He bets another 6,000, I raise to 13,000, then he shoves and I fold.

T65,000 at midnight, after four hours of play, but a quarter-hour later I’m down to T52,800. Then I move tables again.

In SB, I call 12,000, flop 9x8x6x and shove, getting called by QxQx and losing 22,500.

BTN a couple minutes later, all-in with KxJx over a call. SB calls with AxQx but I make a straight on the turn and double back.

In UTG3, I’ve got 36,900, with the chip average at 56,314. 35 players left, blinds 2,000/4,000/500.

UTG2 with A2, I raise 9,000. BB goes all-in for 1,600 more and I call. He has 9x8x, the board is Ax9x3x3x2x, and I knock out another. T52,500.

BB with Q5 and SB calls. Two clubs on the flop and a five on the river and I manage to knock him off. I pop up to T95,500, back above the 61,593 average, with 32 players remaining.

Blinds up to 3,000/6,000/500 and I called an all-in with JxTx He had QxTx but the jack made all the difference to fill in the holes of a straight.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing. UTH with AxTx and I raised to 13,000 but had to fold to an all-in from UTG1. BB with 4x4x and I folded to  an all-in of more than 40,000, though I would have preferred to see the flop.

At the end of the fourth hour, I raised from CO with KxJx and made a straight. Then UTG2 with K8, I called an all-in from SB, then folded to a large all-in to see them flip over 7x7x and TxTx and a flop full of diamonds.

Still, I’d climbed to T143,50, more than twice the average stack, by the time blinds got to 4,000/8,000/500.

I called 18,000 with Q6 but folded after missing the flop. A couple more hands like that and on HJ, I was down to T111,000, with 24 players left and a chip average of just under 90,000.

I raised UTG to 16,000 with KxTx and won, but was still slipping due to the antes.

Have I ever mentioned how much I like dark checks? Not that I ever do them. UTG1 and I raised to 18,000. BB called and the flop was ten-high. He’d checked dark and I shoved, which I might have done even without the ten.

Another ten-high flop fifteen minutes later matched my KxTx in a five-way call of 12,000 to the flop. I opened with a bet of 20,000—just a third of the pot—and won.

In SB with 45, I got involved in a 3-way hand to the JxTx5x flop and folded to a UTG bet of 20,000.

1:45am. Nearing the end of five hours of play we consolidate to two tables. Blinds are 8,000/16,000/2,000 and the chip average is 109,500, for an M of just over 3, well in the Red Zone. Even at 162,000, I’m in the Red Zone, with an of 4.5.

I tread water for fifteen minutes, as two players fall by the wayside, then open-raise from CO with Ax7x to 36,000 and take the blinds and antes.

Another middling ace in HJ, A8 and I made the same raise. This time SB called with Qx9x, but I won the hand and was up to T245,500 with just 12 players left ten minutes into hour six.

Another all-in from a short stack and I called with AxQx to knock out Qx8x just before the half-hour, then I raised Ax8x to 40,000 from SB and missed the flop, folding to an all-in. Eleven players, chip average 179,181, and I had T280,000.

About 2:47am we set the final table. I didn’t have much to work with, and with the blinds as high as they were, I lost 100,000 chips just to blinds and antes in half-an-hour.

Then at the end of the top of the hour, BTN just calls ahead of me in SB, I call, and BB shoves. Oddly, I didn’t record what I had, but note that I was up against QxQx and made a flush on the river.

My last note from the game is that I had T343,000 with the chip average at 394,200, which meant five players were left. People were getting tired, and while I could easily have gone on, with everyone more or less evenly-stacked, we decided to take our money and run.

Seven hours and fifteen minutes. +1,690% ROI. Five-way even chop, 117 entries.

I could go on, like with a story about how I walked into a PLO8 game 45 minutes late while my car was getting serviced and managed to win it without buying the add-on; or the last two $10K games I played before I headed out to the WSOP, but the road between Reno and Las Vegas awaits and it’s way past the time I could be getting on the road here.

 

A Tale of Two $10Ks

The Final Table Third Friday $10,000 Guarantee (T10,000 + T1,000 early registration bonus)

Got a copy of Gus Hansen’s Every Hand Revealed, his (almost) hand-by-hand account of winning an Aussie Millions tournament. Whatever you might think about Hansen’s style of play (and despite the fact that things may have changed a lot since he wrote the book) it’s a very interesting read and incredibly thoughtful and I don’t think I could possibly recreate hands as well even if I was using his tape recorder transcription method. Sorry. Also picked up Arnold Snyder’s The Poker Tournament Formula (volumes 1 and 2) and I’m hoping to pick out nuggets of useful info from there.

Met up at the Eastside Ringside before the 10K with BP, a Mutant Poker reader (I guess there are a couple) who recognized me at a Friday Encore game a couple weeks back. Had a great time talking poker, had a drink or two (which I almost never do before a game), and then headed down the street.

I started off in BB and folded a couple hands, then raised to 125 on BTN with Ax8x, calling a re-raise to 325. The turn was Q-high and I bet out for 700 but folded to a re-raise.

UTG with 2x2x and I was drawing the low end of a straight on the flop, but BB flopped the nuts. and half an hour in I was down to T8,200.

Called 350 with Qx9x but folded to an all-in war that ended up with KxKx drawing a set against AxAx. T7,500 now.

UTG again with 8T and I check-called a 300 raise. Flop of Ax4x5x and I was out of there. Forty-five minutes in: T7,050.

QxTx as CO and I called a big pre-flop raise but folded to an all-in after a flop of JxTx8x and a bet on the Ax turn.

Fifty minutes in and I’d lost more than half my starting chips: T5,250.

In BB with AK, I raised to 2,000 and was re-raised all-in. I called against AT and doubled up to almost where I’d begun: T10,650.

Back on BTN, I raised to 400 and got one call. The flop was Qx7x2x and I bet 1,000 to take the pot. Back over starting: T11,275.

Raised UTG with JxTx to 500 getting two calls half-an-hour later. The flop was a beautiful KxQx9x and it was checked around. The turn was a non-threatening Ax, it was checked to me and there was a bet of 3,000. I shoved over the top and was called by AxKx. My straight held.

Tx4x in BB  ten minutes later and I see the flop of QxTx4x. A guy who’s been going all-in throughout the game bets into it and I re-raise. As I expect, he shoves and I call because I’m pretty sure he’s not holding The Butcher, and my two pair knocks him out. He doesn’t show.

Next hand in SB with 8x2x I call to see 4x2x2x on the flop and check. BB bets out 600, UTG calls, and I raise to 2,000 getting both of them to fold. I show the hand.

A couple minutes later it’s my turn to fold 9x8x after calling 800 pre-flop. The board is QxJx8x but my bottom pair and low-end gut-shot isn’t good enough to call the 2,000 bet.

One hour and forty-five minute into the game and I’m up to a healthy T30,575, more than 40% above the chip average. Five minutes later, I’m buying the add-on of T8,000 chips. There are 84 entries, with 18 re-buys. The break sees 69 add-ons and the pot’s $13,650, with 13 places paying. 77 players left at the break.

After the break, I get to work, raising and taking the blinds and antes with Ax8x, then taking a pot atay from several callers with a post-flop raise with QxJx on a jack-high flop that put me up to T41,625.

In SB with 34 I called a raise to 1,700 from BB. The Qx2x5x gave me an open-ended straight draw and I bet 2,000 into it. BB tossed his cards and said he had AxJx. According to the odds calculators, if that was the case, we were almost exactly 50%-50%.

I re-raised to 7,000 over a 2,400 raise with 8x8x and a small stack shoved for 6,950 more. Was my pair good? Was it a desperate move to steal 10,000 chips? It was going to cost me about 3.5:1 to find out. I called, was up against queens and lost.

Pretty quickly I was back on track with TxTx. I raised over two calls to 4,000 and took the pot. One of the guys muttered he’d folded jacks. I was down to T32,000 but near chip average.

Then in my BB I picked up 6x6 and laid in wait to see a flop of 6x4x2x. I’ve learned my lesson about being shy with flopped sets. I pulled the trigger and didn’t worry about the possibility that someone might have come along with 3x5x, I bet 2,000 and got a call, then bet 7,000 after the Tx turn card and cracked some aces. I was back up to T43,400 at the end of three hours.

UTG fifteen minutes later with KxKx. I keep losing with kings, often by simply walking away from the board after a horrible flop. I raised to 2,700, getting three calls and a rather ominous QxJxTx flop. What premium hand isn’t beating me here? AxKx has the straight and my only hope against it is some sort of backdoor full house (or another ace to chop). QxQx JxJx, or TxTx has a set already and I need that ace or backdoor full house again. Any multitude of two pair hands in there that are playable by someone in a $10K tournament. Even 8x9x has me beat. So naturally when the player on my right goes all-in for more than 30,000 chips, I call. He has The Butcher, for two pair, but a miraculous 9x shows on the turn and I knock him out with the straight.

Two hundred minutes into the game I’m up to T71,875. The chip average is T27,081. Twenty minutes later, there are 55 players left and the chip average is just over T30,000.

I raise with QT over two calls, the flop is KT8. I try to get another spade but I’m lucky and don’t, losing to ATx.

Coming up on the end of the fourth hour of play as SB with 2x2x and I call an all-in of 4,700. He has QxTx and hits two pair on the flop. I start the next hour down to T50,600 with the chip average at T33,000.

With AxAx in CO I raise to 8,000 and get a call. The flop is 9x6x4x and I’m all-in over a raise, getting a call from JxJx for a win.

In UTG1, I call 4,600 with 9T. The flop is 7x9xJx and UTG bets 10,000 (a pattern his big stack will repeat throughout the rest of the night) and I have to fold my middle pair and gunshot. Still, I’m back up to T72800.

I open from the CO with 23 and take the blinds and antes.

UTG1 again. I call 3,600 with Q9 and fold to UTG’s 10,000 bet after the Kx8x5x bet.

In my SB, I raise to 11,000 with JQ. BB calls and the flop is KxJx9x This time it’s me who throws the 10,000 continuation and the guy to my left folds.

Raised 7,000 with QxJx and called an all-in who showed AxKx. I stayed behind as my chips raced to the other end of the table.

Hitting midnight after five hours of play, I was a little over the chip average, with T54,500.

The Butcher came through, with QxTx beating a nominally better hand on a 8xTx8x flop and bringing in 20,000.

Raised 10,000 a couple minutes later with 6x6x and lost to an all-in. Back down to T54000 by five hours and thirty minutes, with 28 players left.

I shoved with KxKx  from BTN sort of hoping to double up if someone thought it was a position play but just won the blinds and antes. Even so, by the time the I’d made it through the blinds, I was down to T50,300, more than 10,000 below average.

Just twenty minutes later, that had dwindled to half the average, at T34,700, with only 22 players left. Just nine before the money bubble.

As we approached the end of the sixth hour, I shoved with Ax9x over two calls and managed to win a pot that put me up to T40,600. Then, on my BB with TxTx I shoved over three calls and took another one down. Right after that I raised UTG with JxTx and won again. In twenty minutes I doubled my stack to T71,000 without a showdown. I was still below the T76,666 average.

As quick as it came, though, it went away. I picked up KxQx mid-position and raised to 10,000 from the 4,000 big blind. I got two callers, including the big stack on my immediate right. The flop was Kx9x2x and I bet into it, hoping that nobody had AxKx. Both of them came along. The Qx on the turn put me all-in, the first call was from the a smaller stack, the second was from the mega-stack, who’d snuck in there with JxTx to make the straight. The small stack had QxTx. No king or queen for me on the river and I was out short of the money. BP went on to a 4-way chop at 5:30! Congrats!

Six hours. 19th of 84 entries.

Encore Club $10,000 Guarantee (T10,000)

This was one of those up-and-down rides.

I folded my first two hands from seat 10, then raised over a couple of limpers to 125 with a nice little J9, getting several calls. The flop was a perfect Tx8x7x and I bet 300. Seat 2 raised me to 600, the players between us folded, and I three-bet 2,300. He called and the turn put out Jx. I go all-in with the rest of my full stack, he calls with JxTx, and my straight holds through the river. I’ve got him covered by a quarter because he was SB in the first hand.

I lost a little ground raising UTG1 with Q3 against UTG’s AxJx. and was down to T18,925 at fifteen minutes in. Missed an opportunity by folding Tx3x in SB when I didn’t call the 25 extra and the flop was Tx7x3x.

Raised to 225 with KxQx in CO, go two calls, then got a flop of 2x3x4x. It was checked around. With a 5x on the turn, I folded to a bet.

Half an hour in and my excursions had cut me down to T17750.

Raised from UTG1 to 225 with 46 and got one call. Bet 500 after the 8x7x4x flop and took it down.

A couple hands later I called 350 in a 3-way hand with Q5 in BB but had to fold after whiffing the flop.

SB on the next hand with KJ and three limpers. I raised to 55o and won. A couple hands later as CO I raised to 250 with Ax3x but folded to a bet of 800 on a king-high flop.

In the twenty minutes leading into the end of the first hour, I went from T17,775 to 17,575.

At the stroke of the hour, I played 84, and made a straight to the eight by the river, but the guy I’d busted on my first hand had a straight to the 9 and knocked me almost back to the starting stack. T10,875.

Not one to sit around dejected, I had a wheel draw with 2x3x, but missed on the river and had to fold to a bet, losing 800 chips in the encounter.

Opened to 575 with 89 and got two calls. The flop was T63, which got checked around. Another Tx on the turn and I folded to a bet. Right color but too diamondy for me.

Limped in with T6x on BTN and saw a Tx7x2x flop. SB opened with a 1,000 bet, mid-position called, and I re-raised to 3,000 to take the pot. Much speculation about my hand. I feel pretty proud of that play and a couple of others in this game.

CO with AQ and three-bet from 1,200 to 3,000. SB called and the flop hit as 8x7x8x. I folded to a bet of 4,000. That cut me down to T9,300 eighty minutes into the game.

Raised UTG2 with JxTx to 750 and got 2 calls. A shove on the jack-high flop and I won my way back up to T10,950.

On BTN with J9 again and I raised to 600 to see a flop heads-up: Kx4x5x. We checked to the turn, he bet 700, I folded, and he flipped KxTx. No need.

In HJ, called an 800 raise in a three-way hand with 34. Flop was Ax5xTx and I bet 1,200 with my gut-shot straight draw. I won.

At the first break I had T12,550, the average was T15,833 before the T7,000 add-ons.

At the end of the second hour of play, I called 400 UTG1 with KT. The blinds came along and the flop was ten-high. SB bet 500, I raised to 1,500 and took it.

Called 1,100 from BB with KQ (variations of that hand kept cropping up the night after it put me out of the Friday game), but had to fold after I didn’t connect.

Next hand it was Q6 as SB and I bought the barest of fingernails on a Jx8x6x flop. I bet 800 and got two calls then folded to a turn bet. Jx5x made the best hand by catching the low end of a nine-high straight on the river.

Raised with K9 and got a call. The flop was Ax9x6x and I bet 1,000. My opponent must not have had an ace!

Called 1,200 with four others in the hand before me holding JT to see a flop of AQJx. Everyone checked. 5 on the turn didn’t make my straight but I (and nobody else) could call the 3,000 to see the river so I don’t know if it or the flush would have come in. Still, I was up to T24,000.

Raised to 1,300 with Kx6x and got called by a shorter stack. The flop was KxTx9x and we checked to the Kx turn. I raised to 7,000. He hemmed and hawed and dawdled then shoved for 1,800 more. I figured he had to have the better kicker and called for what was less than 10% of the pot. He turned over KxTx for the nuts. I felt kind of annoyed about the way he’d slow-rolled the nuts. Was it all about getting me to call the other 1,800?

I was back down to T12,900 two and three-quarters of an hour in. Naturally, I got moved to a new table into the BB just a couple hands after paying the last time.

Fortunately, in SB I picked up JxJx and shoved over three limpets to take a hand that put me up to T15,900.

Had to fold a call of 2,700 with A8 when an all-in came after me.

Pulled another fast one with AT when I raised to 2,700, got two calls, and saw a flop of 7xJx7x. My shove won.

Moved again after just twenty minutes.

UTG with QT and I called a raise of 2,500 to of heads-up to a flop of A5J. My opponent bet 5,000 and I raised all-in. At least I had the ten of spades! He folded.

Up to T28,000 but below the T35,836 average.

55 players left at three hours and twenty minutes.

I went all-in over two limps with AxQx but got called by a smaller stack holding J9. He double-paired by the river and chopped me in almost in half. Down to T19225.

When they chipped up the 25 pieces, the average stack with 45 players left was T43,800. I had just T16,625.

Second hand after the break on BTN with JxTx my all-in was called by KxJx and I was out.

Three hours and fifty minutes. 44th of 99 players.

Ill-Timed

I keep going back to The Final Table despite the fact that the only time I’ve ever cashed there was in the Santa Bounty game last Christmas. My ITM there is truly horrible, unless you limit it to events with 50 or more players, and then my rate’s pretty much the same as it is anywhere else in town with 50 or more players. The only event I cashed in there, I made it to the final table of 131 players. These two games show a screw-up and just plain bad luck.

The Final Table $1,000 Guarantee (T7,000)

Started off with the extra T1,000 because I signed up on-time. Picked up KT UTG with a flush draw on the flop of A2A and hit my flush with 5 on the turn but it made a full house for my opponent who called with Ax5x.

Made a least flush on the flop with A3 and took down a T3,000 pot about twenty minutes into the game, then went up against KxQx with KxTx and top pair on the flop. We both drew down to four spades on the board, which kept the pot smaller since neither of us had one. I was holding T8,350 after that hand.

9T and I made a jack-high straight on the turn. I bet 650 and shoved over a re-raise to felt a player half-an-hour in. T12,150 and I got moved to a newly-opened table.

Forty minutes into the game, I called 1,600 early with JxTx. Two pair on the flop and a full house on the river and I tripled up against two all-ins. Then I lost T6,000 almost immediately as SB drawing for a flush with 35. QxTx made a full house on the turn. Three-quarters of an hour into the game and I was still sitting on T28,125, with the chip average at just T7,655.

Kicked myself a bit for folding Jx6x when I would have double-paired on the flop and hit a river boat in a hand with two players all-in.

Played JxQx and raised to 600, calling a re-raise to 1,800 pre-flop, then folding to an all-in on the 3x3x[x] flop. Down to T24,800.

Lost several thousand with Q7 against 8x9x on a flop of 6x7x8x. I had trips on the turn, but a Tx river card made his straight.

Ten minutes later, I lost more than half my stack with KxKx again, calling an all-in against pocket sixes that made a set on the flop. I went into the break with just T7,825. The add-on more than doubled me up.

I called with 74 and hit the 9x7x6x flop lightly. I bet 1,100 and got a call then hit my 4x on the turn and managed to get an all-in called to take it down with two pair. That put me back up to T27,700, with the average at T17,733.

Raised to 1,000 from UTG2 with A9. The flop was 727 and I folded to a 2,500 bet.

Two hours in on BB with Q3 and the flop was all diamonds. I called the bets down to the river to see another diamond and bet 2,300 to win without a showdown.

T33,525 at two hours and five minutes.

Raised with AT to 1,200 and got four calls. Everyone checked it to the river which turned up a king. The BB won.

I raised to 1,500 from CO with QT and got an uncomfortable Ax96 flop, then folded to a 2,500 bet.

My next BB I had AxKx and re-raised to 3,800 from 800, getting an all-in from SB, which I called. He had 9x9x, the flop was AxJx[8] and the rest of the cards didn’t matter.

Two-and-a-half hours in and I was up to T34,450. Then I lost a chunk with J5 against KxQx. I was ahead on the JxAx8x flop but running tens gave him Broadway. Ten minutes later, my stack was at T28,800 (average T26,600), there were 20 players left, with 17 re-buys and 29 add-ons.

With 45 from BB, I saw a Kx2x2x flop then called a bet of 3,200 after the five on the turn. Another 1,200 went down the hole calling 1,200 on the river six. I was out soon after with Ax9x against KxKx.

Three hours. 17th of 33 players.

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.

Fooling Around In Omaha

Portland Players Club Player of the Month High Hand Jackpot (7,000 chips)

I made four-of-a-kind with a hand in March at PPC, which got me an extra 1,000 bonus for this game. With the 3,000 pre-add-on, I was starting with 11,000 chips.

Picked up a free note-taking tool for my iPhone called MomentDiary which I came to like quite a lot during this tournament. The plan was to try it out at the Poker Pro Challenge but their ban on electronic devices kept me from using it. The great thing about it for poker notation is that it timestamps each entry. Haven’t found a way to batch delete a bunch of notes yet, though; I made more than 75 notes in tournaments on April Fool’s Day.

Won the first hand with Jx8x, hitting a straight on the flop. One of the other players said it was the “poison pot” and maybe it was (as you’ll see).

Almost immediately after that, I picked up KxKx but was smart enough to lay it down early on a board that was turning into a straight that left me just out of the mix. The winner made quad tens by the river, although it didn’t actually go to showdown.

I more than made up for that fold playing 45 and hitting a 7-high straight on the flop. I called and pushed on seat 9 and took several thousand chips from him at showdown when all he had was AxAx.

My next hand was 4x4x on BTN and I would have bet it but CO discarding accidentally flipped a four over and I just folded instead of hoping the case card would show on the flop to make me a set. That saved me a couple hundred at least; the board was far too high to make a pair of fours happy.

Fifteen minutes into the game, I was up about 4,000 chips. I raised to 225 with 63, then called a 600 re-raise. After getting an inside straight draw on the flop I bet another 1,000 but had to fold to an all-in bet down the line.

Another 4x4x, this time on BB. SB raised to 700 pre-flop and I saw it with two other callers. The flop was 7x7x3x and I bet 1,000 after SB checked. People were guessing my hand and nobody was even close. When one guy guessed that I had a pair of eights, I said that I “had eight.”

Twenty minutes had passed since my last chip count and I was still at 15,125.

I raised to 300 with JxTx and made my straight on the river to pick up some more chips to put me at 16,775.

Lost a little ground with QxTx after raising to 425 and seeing the board run out 5x57x5x9x. Had to fold to a bet.

The Butcher QT messed me over for another 800 when I couldn’t get a king on the board to make Broadway.

Holding JT, I re-raised from 1,200 to 2,500 after a 9JQ flop but had to fold to an all-in. The winner showed AxA and the original raiser had non heart KxKx. At only about 19% chance to win, my fold was the right thing to do (I was well ahead of the kings) but I sure would have liked to see the rest of the board.

I was knocked back to 12,350, but managed to make a bunch on the last hand before the break with JxTx and another flopped straight (queen-high). By the time the counting was over, I was up to 17,350.

Starting back up after the break, I saw the flop as BB with 7x3x and had an inside straight  draw again. I bet 700 and everyone folded.

I folded myself after calling 300 with A7 and seeing an all-spade flop.

About twenty minutes into the second segment of the tournament I was holding 21,800, including the 5,000 add-on from the break.

I put out another 1,100 on Ax8x then folded along with several others after a short stack shoved for another 6,000. He showed 6T after he raked in his chips.

Another JxTx on BTN and I called a raise to 900 along with BB. I had top two pair on a flop with two diamonds. He bet 1,500 and I shoved to take the pot down.

Raised to 800 with JxTx just a couple minutes later as HJ and had to fold to all-in from CO, then called 1,400 with KxTx and hit top two pair on the flop. I bet 2,500 and got my opponent to fold. He showed AxQx.

My stack was up to 22,650. I was heavily invested in jack-ten combinations in this game and made two pair on the turn just a couple minutes later on a board with a potential Broadway straight on it. Pushing all-in on a 6,000 post-turn bet cost me over 16,000 when the other guy had the straight and I failed to hit a full house on the river. Down to 6,425.

Ten minutes later I pushed all-in with JxTx again after pairing the top card on the flop, ran into AxAx and didn’t improve.

Two hours and fifteen minutes. -100% ROI. 28th of 41 entries.

Portland Players Club Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo (10,000 chips)

I don’t get to play nearly enough Omaha tournaments, and I’m a real sucker for the split-pot game. It’s definitely my preferred game over high-only. I’ve had some success with it in live limit cash games and had made the final table in a couple tournaments, but never managed to cash before this game. All I can say is it’s hard to take notes on.

Got a 1,000 chip bonus for this game for whatever reason, so I was starting with 11,000 on the table.

About ten minutes in, I played AxJx8x5x and made a Broadway straight on the turn with a heart flush draw on the board. A third heart came on the river, there was no low, and I ended up splitting the high with another player holding Broadway. No gain and a little loss from blinds; I was at 10,925 at fifteen minutes.

My 5x6x7x8x wrap completed an eight-high straight in a huge pot with two larger stacks all in over me. I took the high by myself, the main and side pot lows got quartered, and there was five minutes of bickering over what amounted to a 300 chip second side pot. At the half-hour mark, I was holding 22,350.

I called a raise to 1,100 pre-flop with Q75A, paired the five on the flop and called a bet of 1,025, then folded in the face of another 4-way all-in. Quad eights took the whole shebang.

I lost a big hand I didn’t manage to record, and was cut in half to 11,575 near the end of the first hour of play.

Then came the hand that changed everything. AK25 looked pretty good on the T73 flop and by the time 4 and 9 were also on the board, I had the nut flush for the high hand and a part of the low. With several players all-in (as usual) my stack jumped up to 50,325.

Even with the big stack, I added on for another 5,000 chips, one of the best decisions I made in this game, as you’ll see.

Just after the break, a Qx6x in my hand made me 5,000 when I improved a full house on a QxQx2x2x6x board. I lost a little ground on a straight draw, but was still at 58,100 one hundred minutes in.

The two largest stacks in the tournament were me and another player at my table, and we got into it with both tables five-handed. He pushed hard with a straight and full house draw but I hit quad nines and knocked him out, putting my stack up to 108,400 and more than a third of the chips in play.

Knocked out another player with Ax2x4x5x by making two pair for the high and scooping the low, then took a hand from PPC regular T with 5x5xAxKx, putting me up to 118,400.

By break 2, I’d hit 140,000.

A big pot with 2x2xJxQx made a set to grab the high and put me up to 160,500 as we approached three-hours of play. Then things got grim.

In less than ten minutes, I missed two draws for a Broadway straight and a flush that cost me a total of 22,500. Then I made a set of queens on a flop and called an all-in from B, who had KxQx and two pair. Another Kx on the turn made full houses for both of us but I was on the losing side of that one and was back down to  98,500 as we actually hit three hours.

Ten minutes later I was still bleeding chips and down to 74,500. I managed to take one hand and bet people off my flush, then lost with two pair against a full house and didn’t hit my low. I hit the same straight as a another player and chopped a pot that would have been nice to take in toto, then flopped another straight and was all-in but was outdrawn by a flush that took all but 6,000 of my chips. It was just twenty-five minutes since I’d had 58% of the chips in play and I was down to one big blind. If I had skipped buying the add-on at the first break, I’d probably have busted out already—at best I would have only had 1,000 chips.

The next ten minutes were a blur. I caught some amazing cards, including a couple of high pairs and and managed to double up at least three times. In eight minutes, I was back up to 84,000 chips, then I knocked out B short of the money and hit the last break with 102,000.

Not long after the break was over, we managed to get it down to heads-up. I was back on top with about a 40,000 chip advantage but we chopped the top two positions evenly and called the game at four hours.

Four hours. +272% ROI. Chopped 2 ways with 15 entries.

Off Week

Encore Club $5,000 Guaranteed Friday Special Event

While I was parking, I ran into DM from my cash in the August Tournament of Champions and the most recent $25K Guarantee. We exchanged pleasantries but he didn’t seem to remember my propensity for calling, which proved to my advantage early on when he was sat down on the far end of the same table I was seated on.

I’d made a few chips on my first hand at the table (I’d missed the first couple of hands), then called DM down through bets that increased to 1,900 each by the turn with my 47 flush draw. I got the heart I needed on the river and called his all-in, killing his two pair and forcing him to rebuy. I could hear him muttering for a while.

Another flush draw with 9T cost me all I’d gained and then some, dropping me to 8,650, a few hundred below starting stack.

On my SB at 100/200, though, I was looking at AxAx and six calls ahead of me. I raised to 1,000, got re-raised to 2,500, four-bet to 5,000 (with just 3,800 behind) and got called. The Kx5xKx flop was scary, but I pushed the rest in and got called by Ax6x to double back up to 17,650.

9x9x and I re-raised after the 3x3x5x flop from 1,100 to 2,200, but laid down to am all-in of 5,600. He showed QxQx.

It was a pocket pairs kind of night for me (although they didn’t mostly pan out). I paid 1,000 with 5x5x to see a flop of 2xKxQx, then lost another 1,400 fishing for a set with 3x3x when the board went 7xQx7xQx. Nothing I could do with that.

Before the add-on at the break I was still at 17,525.

I lost less than I might have with K4 on a 7x4x7x4xKx board when someone else’s pocket 7x7x came a’calling. I don’t know why they didn’t make their bet bigger, I’m fairly certain I might have gone all-in with a full house, but as it was I still had 16,775 in chips.

Q7 made top pair on the flop and won for me, then I finally made 3x3x work for me when I raised to 1,500 before a 9x9xQx flop. WIth three clubs by the turn, a bet of 2,500 won the hand for me and I was up to 21,300.

I don’t remember if I called or shoved with JxJx, but I lost a race against AxKx and got knocked down to 3,000. I won a race of my own with the Mutant Jack AJ against 6x6x to put me back up to 8,400, but with just a little over 10bb I shoved with QT and got called by AxKx, which knocked me out finally.

Two hours and thirty minutes. -100% ROI. 69th of 98 players.

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.

Another Round

Carbon Poker Super Bowl Pick-the-Winner $5,000 Freeroll

All you had to do to get an entry into this freeroll was to pick the winner of the Super Bowl, and since I know nothing about sports I figured I had a 50/50 chance of getting a ticket. The early buzz I’d heard had the Giants as the underdogs, so I picked them, figuring that the field might be smaller if more folks were choosing the likely winner. And New York won, so I got my ticket.

Amazingly enough, for a freeroll with a $1,300 first prize, the game wasn’t even half full. The four-times-daily $200 freerolls on Merge have fields of 5,000—even the HORSE tournament gets more than 2,000 every day—but this event was capped at 2,000 and only had 712 entries. Either it wasn’t advertised very well (although I saw it) or everybody picked the Patriots.

This game followed a typical trajectory for me: a zoom to the top, followed by a crashing defeat.

My first success (A on the graphic) came just five hands in, with the hand known here in Portland as “The Butcher”: TQ (not specifically those two cards, but any QT combo). I was in CO and raised to 50 after one limper. The BB and limper came along. The 94J flop gave me the open-ended straight draw, and after a bet of 160 from the limper I just called in position. BB folded. The 8 turn card made my nut straight. The limper bet into it for 480 and I shoved for 1,760, which he called leaving only 30 behind. He was drawing dead, with JK for just top pair. If he’d been suited in hearts, I would have been gone with the A on the river, but instead I picked up a pot of 4,000 chips, double the starting stack. I was tournament chip leader.

Two hands later as UTG3 (B), I snagged TT. UTG 2 raised to 70, I re-raised to 220. BTN called, the blinds folded, UTG2 shoved. Both UTG2 and BTN were below the starting stack value; if I lost with my pocket pair I’d just be at starting stack again. I went all-in and BTN was all-in, showing 9J. UTG2 had two overs to my pair: AQ, and was statistically slightly favored over me (41% v 38%) with the third player involved (who had a 21% chance). The flop was mercifully low: 574. Another 7 broke the possibility of a backdoor diamond flush, then a 3 on the river solidified my knockout of both players. At 7,680 chips, I was the tournament leader on hand seven.

It only lasted a short time. On hand 15 (C) I had KJ in HJ. Action folded to me, I raised to 75, CO re-raised to 240, the blinds got out of the way, and I called. The flop was perfect: 4KJ. I was ahead of aces. I checked to see how much he’d commit and he bet 393. I shoved way over the top for 7,710 and he called off the rest of his stack for a total of 2,210, showing that he did indeed have AA. I was 69% good. Until the A on the turn, of course. Then I was drawing dead. Still, I was in the top chip stacks in the tournament, with 5,500, nearly three times the start, just ten minutes in.

I lost a little ground for a while after that setback, going as low as 3,650 chips over the next thirty-five hands. Then I got 97 in UTG1 (D) and raised to 120. HJ called me and we were heads-up at the flop. 9T3 gave me middle pair and I bet 250, getting a call. 8 turn set me up for another straight draw and I bet 600 into the 830 pot. HJ shoved for 2,551. I really didn’t think he’d hit the board; I risked all but 1,300 chips to make the call and see his 55. He was drawing pretty thin. The river was 6, which actually made my straight, unnecessary as it was. I was back in contention, although not in the uppermost chip ranks.

Another fifty hands went by before I made another jump (E). It came in a series of three hands about an hour and fifteen minutes into the game. Blinds were 100/200, I was UTG1 with 57 and limped after a fold from UTG. HJ limped, but BTN pushed all-in for 1,880. The blinds folded. I had both the all-in and the other limper covered by about 4,000 chips. I didn’t figure the limper would enter the action after me, so I called. The limper folded and I was heads-up against JA. Isn’t the Mutant jack my hand? It appeared as if it was, because right away there was a flush draw on the board with 92T; I was actually slightly ahead. K for the turn gave him the Broadway draw and flipped the odds back to 65%/34% in his favor. Then I hit the second-to-the-least pair with 7 on the river and made another knockout.

A player who’d joined the table twenty hands earlier with under 1,500 chips had been hanging on despite the 100/200 blinds by going all-in. I hadn’t felt able to call, even when I’d raised pre-flop. Just after beating the Mutant Jack, I was SB with JT and finally called his all-in of 930. Another limper who was the only stack larger than me at the table called. The flop was QT9 giving me the open-ended straight draw and second pair. UTG2 and I both checked to the 9 turn and 6 river. UTG2 missed the flush with A8 and the best hand was the short stack’s QK. I’d come to regret not having called to see if I could have knocked that stack out earlier.

The next hand proved lucrative, however. On BTN with 6A and just over 8,000 chips, I limped in after the big stack (10,500+ in UTG1) and BB. I made middle pair on the 746 flop and after it was checked around to me, I shoved. He called with the nut flush draw Ax3x but two spades showed up on the turn and river, so I doubled up to over 16,770 and was back in the top stacks in the tournament. Two pair with The Butcher on the next hand knocked out another player put me up to 19,000 chips, then I picked another 500 off the guy who’d doubled me up, leaving him with just over 2,000 chips. My attempt to take him out a few hands later would double him up when KJ missed against his 88.

I managed to climb (with ups and downs of 2,000 to 3,000 chips) to 22,600 before I hit a big snag (F). Both the stacks I’d doubled up above had managed to climb up to 11,000+ chips. The first-mentioned (who’d joined the table with 1,500 chips) shoved from UTG1 and I called him from UTG2. A short stack in CO called all-in, and it was AK (short stack) v 88 (doubled-up stack) v QJ (me). The board almost ran out a straight with 36742 that would have been topped with one of the eights. That loss just about cut me in half, and put the former short stack over 25,000.

I got back into the top thirty spots about 15 hands later with AJ on the button (G). Blinds were 250/500/50 and HJ shoved for 9,500 after all action folded to him. The stack I’d doubled up between us folded, SB had about 3,500 chips and BB had 15,500. I shoved and they both folded; HJ showed JJ and I was on the wrong end of a 70%/30%  showdown. The A showed up on the flop, though, and my opponent was down to hoping for that last jack to show up, which it didn’t. So I popped back up to where I’d been eight minutes before. A strong bet after I made second-nut flush not long after put me within spitting distance of 30,000 chips (H). That lasted all of two hands (I). I had AQ in UTG2 at 300/600/75. UTG folded. UTG1 was the short stack that had climbed back from under 1,000 to 25,000 now. He limped in and I raised to 2,000, which he was the only player to call. The flop was 926, I had position on him and he went all-in. I’d suspected him of shoving light on a lot of his road to recovery, so I followed along for all but 3,000 of my chips. Then he flipped over 9T and I had just a 22% chance of not being crippled. The 9 showed on the turn and I was doomed. He had 52,000 chips and the tournament lead. I didn’t last long after that (J), ending up seventy places out of the money after going all-in with TK. QA won that hand.

The tournament went on for another three hours. Both the small stack who’d risen to 50,000 and the player I’d knocked down to 2,000 with a double-up made the final table.

Two hours, 183 hands. 98th of 712 players.

Encore Club $10,000 Guarantee

I’ve really got to try to come up with some better way of recording what’s going on in live games. I don’t know if it was the lesson taught to me by the loss of the lead in the noon online game or what, but I somehow managed to once again make it to the end of a $10K at Encore. What I do remember is that one player—who looked sort of like a drunk Nathan Lane—kept shoving over my raises and that eventually, once we were at the point where the payouts were over $1,000, I called him with Qx8x. He showed Ax4x but I hit the queen on the flop and sucked a couple hundred thousand in chips into my stack (the picture below is about 250,000).

He had a friend with him who kept trying to help stack his chips for him and who he kept kicking. I was tempted to ask that only players and staff be seated at the table, but I held my tongue. Around 3:30am, everyone was still within a range of a 200,000 chips, the blinds were 8,000/16,000/3,000 and a chop for a little over $2,400 each was proposed and accepted. And once again, I forgot to take a picture of the screen.

It’s off to The Palazzo for a couple days of the 2012 Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza I for me. I’ll be posting Twitter updates @pokermutant.

Here’s the official screen capture of the end of the tournament.

Eight-and-a-half hours. +465% ROI. Four-way chop with 69 entries.