That’s Why It’s Called the Better Hand

Lock Poker $1,500 Guaranteed Deepstack Turbo (T5,000)

Another tournament where I held the chip lead—for quite a while, in internet time—before dropping down. Still managed to grab a little profit, but not the big payout.

Hand 1. [tc 4d] UTG
Came in at the 50/100 level. Only seven-handed, but I wasn’t playing it.

Hand 2. [2d qc] BB
Button and SB limped in. The flop was [7s 4d 3c], we all checked. [6s] on the turn gave the board better straight potential than my hand, and I folded to a pot-sized bet from SB.

Hand 3. [js ks] SB
CO and BTN limped in and I just came along for the ride; BB checked to the [ts 7c 6h] flop. Everyone checked and a [7d] hit the turn. I checked here along with BB, CO made a small bet of 100 and everyone folded.

Hand 4. [3c qc] BTN
UTG2 raised to 300 and everyone folded.

Hand 5. [5h 6c] CO

Hand 6. [jh 7s] HJ

Hand 7. [jc 6c] UTG2
Blinds at 75/150. Folded. As the hand played out, I would have won against the only two players who stayed in: BB with [6s 6h] and UTG with [4c 5c] on a board of [4s jh qc 8c th].

Hand 8. [qh 7c] UTG1

Hand 9. [td jd] UTG
Limped into the pot, then BTN raised to 413. SB called and so did I. Flop dropped [8h ks ac], it was checked through to BTN and he bet half the pot, which took it down.

Hand 10. [6c 2h] BB
Down about 15% from the starting stack after one-and-a-half rounds. This gets min-raised by UTG1 and nobody contests it.

Hand 11. [6s 3s] SB
I fold.

Hand 12. [5h 9c] BTN
A walk for BB.

Hand 13. [qh as] CO
One limper ahead of me and I just call. SB calls and BB checks. Flop’s [6s 6d 3d] and the blinds check to UTG2 who min-bets 150. I call it and the blinds fold. [th] on the turn and 900 in the pot. Another min-bet from UTG2 and I call him again. The river is [7s]. He shoves. A call would leave me 500, and I fold.

Hand 14. [ks kh] HJ
Blinds are up to 100/200. I open with a raise to 400; SB is my only caller. A safe-looking [jd 6s 3h] on the flop. He checks and I check to hopefully represent an ace. The turn is [7h]and he bets 610. I counter with 1,500 and he calls. The [5s] on the river complicates things a bit but when he checks I shove for 1,800. He owns almost half the 4,000 pot, but a loss would leave him with less than 5bb. He folds.

Hand 15. [3c th] UTG2

Hand 16. [qh 2s] UTG1

Hand 17. [ts jc] UTG
I min-raise with this hand and am heads-up with the largest stack at the table as BTN. I get an open-ended straight draw on the [5s kd qc] flop and bet 750 into an 1,100 pot. BTN probably sees it as a c-bet and calls. There’s a useless (to me) [2c] on the turn, but I shoot a second barrel, for 1,000. UTG calls again. The straight comes through with a river [as]. I check to see if he’ll stick something in without any prodding, and he shoves his entire stack of nearly 6,000, with is great. I call and he’s got a good pair with a busted flush: [8c kc]. Fortunately, the right black ace came out. I pop up to nearly 12,000.

Hand 18. [8c 6h] BB
Blinds are 125/250/20. My stack is nearly double the size of anyone else at the table; three of the eight players have less than 3,000. I fold to a UTG1 min-raise.

Hand 19. [qs 2s] SB
The first of the small stacks in order (UTG1) goes all-in, the other two (HJ and CO) follow, and BTN shoves for 4,000+. I’m not getting involved with this, and neither is BB. It’s (in order) [ts ad] v [9s 9d] v [5d 5s] v [7d 7h]. I can maybe understand the short stacks with 10bb getting involved but not BTN with the sevens and 16bb. Then again, the board runs out [td 3s th 7s 2d] and a full house means the sevens are now the big stack at the table by 1,000 chips. Results-oriented!

Hand 20. [4s 3c] BTN
We’re only five-handed but I fold to an UTG min-raise.

Hand 21 [3d qc] CO
We pick up some new players to fill the holes the massacre left behind and get another stack with nearly 14,000 in BB. Everyone folds for a walk.

Hand 22. [6s 5c] HJ

Hand 23. [qc kc] UTG2
I open for 600 and everyone folds.

Hand 24. [ks kc] UTG
Just ten hands later, and kings again. I decide to do it traditional this time with a full table. HJ shoves for 4,350, with what I assume is a (probably lower) pair. Everyone folds and I unleash my kings on [6h 4h]. He’s dead by the turn of the [9h qs 7d 7c 4c] board, and I’m table leader with 16.8K.

Hand 25. [9h 3d] BB
Blinds to 150/300/30. Nobody challenges my blind and I walk.

Hand 26. [js 2s] UTG
Fold. This hand saw another questionable shove. BTN shoved over a min-raise with 4,120 and [8d 7d], which seems like a maybe, but BB called with [2h th] and less than 3bb behind. Both were in trouble when the original raiser put them all-in to call with [ad ac] and took them both out.

Hand 27. [8c 9s] BB
No SB because of the previous hand’s action and I got another walk for the antes.

Hand 28. [qh 4h] SB
I called a min-raise from HJ and was HU to the flop. The cards were [3h ah js] and I put the other stack at risk with a bet that put him all-in to win a pot half the size of what he had left (or double up). He called with [as kh], which held out, dropping me back down to 12.9K.

Hand 29. [2d 9h] BTN

Hand 30. [jd 3d] CO
Uncharacteristically, I limped in with this after everyone else folded. I shouldn’t have. SB called but BB bet 1,000 and I folded.

Hand 31. [kd 5c] HJ

Hand 32. [6d jh] UTG2
Blinds to 200/400/40. Folded.

Hand 33. [5h jd] UTG1

Hand 34. [Ks 8s] UTG
Opened with a min-raise to 800 and took the pot.

Hand 35. [Ah 3c] UTG (moved to new table)

Hand 36. [ah jh] BB
Of the nine players at the table, six were at or below the starting stack (12bb or less), one had 11,000, I had 13.2K, and the biggest was 15K. The big stack in UTG2 min-raised, SB called, and I went along. The flop was a truly horrible [3d 2c 2d] and everyone checked. There was a [4s] on the turn; everyone checked that, too. [9s] on the river. SB bet half the 2,760 pot, but I didn’t believe him and called. UTG2 dropped out. Each of us had the other end of the straight, but his [kd 5h] didn’t give his pair of deuces the better kicker and I took the pot.

Hand 37. [7d 3c] SB
I folded. UTG min-raised to 800 with 4K back, the guy who’d just lost to me shoved for 2,300 and it was [js qs] (UTG) v [4s qc] in another one of those “position” moves I don’t quite understand. The better hand won, as usual. That’s why it’s called the better hand.

Hand 38. [jc ah] BTN
Ace-jack again? It’s not suited this time. Blinds to 250/500/50. Action folds to CO with just 6.5bb, who shoves. I call, and SB calles for 25 more, which I put in. It’s me v [4c 4d] v [tc ac]. The flop pairs my ace with [8h 6h as]. The club flush isn’t coming, I’m a favorite to win and the [5c] turn and [2h] river make it so. I’m up over 23K.

Hand 30. [4s 8s] BTN
BB gets a walk.

Hand 31. [2d 3s] CO

Hand 32. [7h kc] HJ

Hand 33. [9d 5h] UTG2

Hand 34. [jc ts] UTG1
Uncharacteristically folded. but as it turned out, BB shoved over small blind’s call, SB called, and it was [4d 7d] v [2d qh], with SB doubling up with a flopped four for a pair, and I wouldn’t have won.

Hand 35. [8h td] UTG
Blinds are 300/600/60. I fold!

Hand 36. [4s 7d] BB
What am I? A short stack? Fold to min-raise and call pre-flop.

Hand 37. [9s 2s] SB
BTN goes all-in. I fold. BB calls with [ad 4c] and wins with ace high. My hand would have won with a pair of deuces!

Hand 38. [2h jh] BTN
An all-in from UTG1 for 3,700 and a call from HJ. I fold, along with other prudent players.

Hand 29. [ts jh] CO
HJ goes all-in for 5,577. I fold, but SB calls and ends up HU with [qs kh] v [2c 2d]. THe deuces stand up, but my jack would have won it on the [6s 6c 9c jd as] board.

Hand 30. [kh 3h] CO
HJ is the only limper ahead of me but I decide to fold. There’s a king on the flop.

Hand 31. [td 4c] HJ

Hand 32. [2c 2d] UTG1

Hand 33. [3c qd] UTG

Hand 34. [4d 6h] BB
Blinds are up to 400/800/80. There’s a min-raise and a call. 5,000 in the pot, I’m nearly 10K over the other two in the hand, and with 6:1 pot odds I call. I get incredibly lucky with a [6s 6c kd] flop. I check it to see who will run with it. UTG1 checks, but HJ decides to put out 2,400. I call and UTG1 folds. The turn is [th]. I go all-in pre-maturely, and HJ folds. Still, I win some chips and I’m up to 28K.

Hand 35. [jh ad] SB
The other players at the table range from 5K to 16.4K, with the median about 11K. Action folds to me, BB has 11.8K and I just call. With [6c as 2s] on the flop, I check and he checks behind. The turn pairs the board with [2h], I bet 2,000 and take the pot.

Hand 36. [6c qs] BTN
With a raise UTG and 3-bet from middle position, I fold this. The original raiser goes all-in and gets a fold (and would eventually go on to win the tournament).

Hand 37. [4h 9c] CO

Hand 38. [4d tc] HJ
Folded. Blinds are 500/1,000/100.

Hand 39. [2h 8c] UTG3

Hand 40. [3h 2h] UTG2
Much as I might love deuce-three,  I wasn’t opening it for at least two-thirtieths of my stack from middle position. Folded.

Hand 41. [7h kc] UTG3

Hand 42. [9d 5h] UTG2

Hand 43. [jc ts] UTG1

Hand 44. [8h tc] UTG

Hand 45. [4s 7d] BB
Fold to UTG raise and UTG1 call.

Hand 46. [9s 2s] SB

Hand 47. [2h jh] BTN

Hand 48. [ts jh] CO

Hand 49. [kh 3h] HJ

Hand 50. [td 4c] HJ

Hand 51. [2c 2d] UTG1

Hand 52. [3d qc] UTG

Hand 53. [4d 6h] BB
UTG1 min-raised and HJ called and I was in on a lark. The flop was perfect for me: [6s 6c kd]. I checked, UTG1 checked, and HJ bet 2,400. I just called, then UTG1 bowed out. [th] on the turn. I tried to make it look desperate by going all-in but HJ was too smart to fall for it and folded. O profited over 6,500.

Hand 54. [jh ad] SB
Action folded to me as the biggest stack at the table (and near the top of the leaderboard). I just called and BB checked. I checked the [6c as 2s] flop and so did BB. After the [2h] on the turn, I bet 2.,000 and got a fold.

Hand 55. [6c qs] BTN

Hand 56. [4h 9c] CO

Hand 57. [4d tc] CO

Hand 58. [2h 8c] UTG1

Hand 59. [3h 2h] UTG2

Hand 60. [kd qs] UTG1
I opened for 2,250 and everyone folded. It put me over 30,000.

Hand 61. [9c 8c] UTG
Might have played it elsewhere; glad I didn’t. BB was very short, with only 3,365 left after paying blinds and antes. UTG2 (the eventual tournament winner) min-raised, getting a call only from BB. The flop was [7h 3s kc], so that would have been 2K down the tibes for me. BB went all-in and UTG called with [as ad]. BB just had [3h ac]. [8s] on the turn and [7d] for the river and SB was gone.

Hand 62. [3h 7s] BB
An all-in from the shortest stack left at the table (7,600) won my big blind and a limper’s thou.

Hand 63. [kc jd] SB
Normally, I’d like to see a flop with these, but an all-in bet of 12.5K from BTN put a brake on that. Fold.

Hand 64. [7s ah] BTN
Two limps and I put my kicker issues aside to call. Four players seeing the flop of [8s 4d as], BB and UTG checked, then UTG1 bet 2,000 with just under 10K behind. I had almost 29K left to call with. so I did, and the checkers folded. The turn was [3d] and didn’t change my plans. UTG1 bet what I think was supposed to be a suspicious-looking 1,000 into a pot of 9,300, and I called. [js] on the river could have made any number of things possible—all anyone needed was an ace and a higher kicker—but UTG1 put another 1,000 into the pot and I had to call it at 12:1. He only had [jd ks], and ended the hand with just 8K.

Hand 65. [4h ac] CO
Blinds were 600/1,200/120. I folded to a min-raise by tens who were eliminated by the king-queen of the tournament winner, which put his stack on par with mine.

Hand 66. [2d ah] HJ

Hand 67. [kh as] UTG2
UTG raises to 2,525 with 12.6K behind. I re-raise all-in and everyone folds. Over 43K.

Hand 68. [ac 7d] UTG1
I call on the high from the previous hand. Action folds to SB, who calls, and BB checks. The flop is [5s 8c th], BB bets half the pot and I don’t want to play any more.

Hand 69. [td tc] UTG1 (table balancing)
UTG shoves for 8.4K. I call from my stack of 41.6K and we’re HU. He has [kd ac]. The flop is bad: [5h 6s kh]. Then the turn is great: [ts] and the river is irrelevant. 52.9K.

Hand 70. [2d 6d] BB
Blinds up to 800/1,600/150. UTG2 limps, HJ shoves for just 2,995, and I have to call. So does UTG2. The flop’s out of my range: [tc 9c 5c] and I check it to UTG2 who does the same. The turn [6c] gives me some hope and I check it to UTG2 again. [qd] on the river doesn’t do me any good. I check to UTG2 again and he does the same. Three players and nobody had a spade (apparently they were all on the board), it’s my [2d 6d] v short-stack’s [ad 3d] and tournament champ’s [two-pair with [9h qh]. The other big stack at the table is pacing me.

Hand 71. [ts 3c] SB
Folded. BB shoved with sevens for 8K, got called by tourney winner who’d limped with [jd 9d], and a jack on the flop did in the short stack.

Hand 72. [qd 8d] BTN
No SB. Action folded to me and I made it 5,000 to take the blind away.

Hand 73. [tc 2d] BTN
Things were looking ugly as they got around to me. UTG went all-in for 6,630, UTG1 called with only 8K behind, and CO shoved for 27K. I’m not playing the Brunson hand under those circumstances. Then the BB (tourney winner) called with half his stack (his knockout two hands earlier had put him ahead of me, finally). UTG1 folded out to fight another day, and it was UTG’s [qc jh] v CO’s [4c 4d] v BB’s [as kd]. It was nearly settled on the flop with [js ks 5d], then [3c] for the turn. The [2s] river sealed BB as the tournament chip leader, with a 42K profit on the hand and nearly twice my healthy 51K.

Hand 74. [ad 3s] HJ
Some table balancing moved people around but I ended up with the chip leader, in more or less the same relative position. There were eight at the table, with three in the 10K range, one about 23K and two more around 35K. I folded this hand. Three players went to the river, one was knocked out with sixes and the tournament leader lost a chunk with a set of queens against a [6h 8h] flush.

Hand 75. [8h 6c] UTG1
Blinds to 1,000/2,000/200. I have 25bb. Despite the success of a suited [8x 6x] on the previous hand, I folded this to a 5,200 raise from UTG.

Hand 76. [3c ad] UTG
Really? Again? Fold.

Hand 77. [qc 2c] BB

Hand 78. [as 8s] SB
Big stack min-raises. I call. BB shoves for 9,200, and we both call. [tc 7h 2c] on the flop does nothing for me; big stack and I both check. [9h] turn, check-check. [6s] for the river makes me a straight, I miss it and fail to bet; I’m probably lucky because I don’t know if I would have noticed if the big stack had bet. He rolls [3d 3c], the short stack has [kc jd] and I take a pot that puts me up to 68K.

Hand 79. [3h qs] BTN
We’ve picked up a third large stack at the table who’s got something between my stack and the tournament winner’s 77.5K. Three other players with 30-40K, one with 19K, ann one with just a BB. I fold this.

Hand 80. [7d qd] BTN
Blinds to 1,250/2,500/500. I have 27bb. Fold. We lose the small stack on this hand, and tournament winner’s stack drops below mine.

Hand 81. [3h 6s] CO

Hand 82. [5d td] HJ

Hand 83. [qh4c] UTG1

Hand 84. [9h 2s] UTG

Hand 85. [8h js] BB
Fold to an all-in from SB.

Hand 86. [7s jd] SB

Hand 87. [js 4d] BTN
Could this run of cards have any less suck? Fold.

Hand 88. [9s 4s] CO

Hand 89. [th 8d] HJ
Blinds to 1,500/3,000/300. I have 21bb. Fold.

Hand 90. [td 8c] UTG1
Deja vu. Fold.

Hand 91. [7c 8d] UTG

Hand 92. [jh 6h] BB
Tourney winner limps in, SB comes along and I check. The flop is nothing I want to see: [kd ah 3s]. I check, tourney winner makes a min-bet and takes the pot.

Hand 93. [td 4c] SB
Fold. Two stacks in the mid-20K range go up against each other with [ac tc] against [ad 7c]. Neither pairs up and my four would have won it.

Hand 94. [5c 9c] BB
Yay! The action on the table’s resulted in me being moved into the big blind on another table with the current chip leader. The new makeup has the chip leader with 114K, two stacks in the mid-50s (including me), two in the low 40s, two at 30K and one with 23K. Chip leader raises min-plus from UTG2 and everyone folds.

Hand 95. [7d 9d] SB
Another min-raise from chip leader, and I fold these out of position.

Hand 96. [7s 7d] BTN
How cool is it to get sevens on my seventy-seventh hand? Cool enough to call a 12.5K raise from UTG2. We’re heads-up, the flop is [4s ac jh], he bets 18K and I fold. I’m down to 38K. Not cool.

Hand 97. [2s 3h] CO
Fold. SB tries to raise chip leader’s BB and gets faced with an all-in.

Hand 98. [5c 8h] HJ
Blinds to 2,000/4,000/400. I have 9bb. Fold. CO goes all-in with [ac 9s] and gets called by chip leader in SB with [kh qh] to make a double-up.

Hand 99. [jc 4h] UTG3

Hand 100. [qh 7h] UTG2

Hand 101. [qc 5d] UTG1

Hand 102. [qd 3s] UTG

Hand 103. [2c ks] BB
CO raises to 12,000 and wins the pot.

Hand 104. [5c 8h] SB
Big stack (UTG1) raises just enough to leave themselves with exactly 100,000. CO calls, I fold. Flop is [4s td 5d] and UTG1 bets 16K to win.

Hand 105. [js ah] BTN
Blinds are 2,500/5,000/500. I have just under 6bb. I go all-on over an 11K raise by the big stack. I’m heads-up to the flop against [9s 9c]. The flop is [jd ks 7c], putting me in the lead. [jc] on the turn solidifies my chance for a double-up and a chance at the big money. But I’m two-outed with [9d] on the river.

VPIP for this game: 23%. Five pairs. I saw 20 flops and won ten of them.

Ninety minutes, 105 hands. 16th of 169 entries. +92% ROI. (Top prize was +3200%)


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

The night started off well. I was in seat three (BB) at the first table and was dealt [qx 6x]. I stayed in through the flop, hit two pair, and pushed the other players out on the turn. My second hand was [ad 3d] and I made the wheel on the flop, with several hundred in pre-flop bets in the pot. I checked, UTG2 opened for 400 and I raised to 1,000. He was the only caller. I bet another 1,500 on the turn and won. Ten minutes into the game, I was up 1,500 chips.

I won another 400 holding [ax jx]. The board double-paired itself by the turn as I was heads-up with another player and we were checking it down, then with an [ax] on the river I made a bet of 200 and took the pot. [qh 4h] made me another small pot when I caught the low pair on the flop and somehow made the best hand. “Pair of fours” became the catch-phrase of the night but it marked the turning point in my fortunes.

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

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

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

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

It was a turbo tournament, and we were already up to 200/400 by my re-buy. Raises were beginning to get even more aggressive. I called 1,600 with [as 6s] and paired the lower card on the dryish flop, but folded to an all-in from three positions to my right. He took the pot, didn’t show, then announced it had been a “pair of fours”.

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

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


Foxwoods Before the Storm

On a business trip to Boston and I had a day to kill before Hurricane Irene hit New England. So I decided to head down to Foxwoods in Connecticut, which is running deep stack tournaments at 6pm every night. The WPT Poker Room at Foxwoods is advertised as the largest poker room on the East Coast, so I figured it could be a bit of an eye-opener for me, having played poker in a small tribal casino as my first casino experience just a few weeks back and the only other casino I’d been in being Spirit Mountain.

I got to Foxwoods with some time to kill before the tournament and went downstairs to where the cash action is. Lots and lots of cash action. There was a short wait for a seat at a $1/$2 No Limit Hold’em  table; I got my WPT Poker Room card and some chips.

The games at Foxwoods were definitely not as soft as Spirit Mountain. I managed to lose my first stack with a made straight on the flop hoping that nobody had already made the bigger straight draw. Got it all back when I doubled my stack holding [5x 5x] with [kx kx] on the board and the big stack thought I was completely bluffing. Then I managed to lose the whole thing, with my last hand being [as 7s]. The board gave me a pair of aces and wheel draw but [kx 2x] actually made the wheel. I went to get a late lunch.

When I was ready to face the music again, I happened into the start of a $1/$2 Pot LImit Omaha Hi-Lo game and signed up. This session went incredibly well. A three-card run in one hand turned into a straight that won me a double-up, and I caught another couple big hands, nearly quadrupling my buy-in. I actually threw down a hand with both Broadway and wheel draws after a turn bet from across the table that would have cost me about two-thirds of the profit (above the buy-in and the two stacks I’d lost in Hold’em) because I figured I needed to slow down for a second. As it turned out, the wheel came through and I probably could have added another couple stacks because I would have scooped the pot and both the other players were nearly all-in.

Success is fleeting, however. The tournament, a $15,000 guarantee with about 140 players didn’t last very long for me. I could only console myself with the fact that I wasn’t the first person out of the game. It was off to my hotel to get some sleep after that.

Back out to Foxwoods for the morning turbo. Took a bit of a hit after an OK start, but made it to the second table out of 50 entrants. Picked up [ax kx] in the big blind. After a big raise from a mid-position player and an all-in from button, if I got lucky, I might triple my stack. The raiser was largest stack, both were bigger than me. I called all-in, and the big stack called. The big stack also had [ax kx], the button held [ax ax] which held up, taking me out in 15th. First place paid $917.

The morning bounty tournament was still in the first level, so I bought in there. I plugged along with about the starting stack as the average chip level went up, then took a hit that put a mark on my stack. By the time the blinds were up to 500/1000/150 I was down to about 7bb. I shoved with [ac qc] and got called by someone who could afford the chips to race with [tx tx] (who I’d knocked out of the turbo game earlier). I placed 14th of 42. The prize pool was $5,149, with $1,803 going to first and just six players paid.

I’d lasted long enough that the early afternoon turbo was beyond it’s buy-in, so I got lunch and some goodies for friends back home, dragged things back to the car, then stepped downstairs to the cash games again.

I haven’t ever played much 7-Card Stud. My advice is, do not make your first live experience against a bunch of geezers at someplace like Foxwoods in a Fixed Limit $1/$5 game. I made a couple of blunders that marked me as a neophyte in the first couple of hands. Seriously, people were laughing. I managed to get a little bit of respect (and some chips) back with a sneaky move and a flush, but mostly the stack went down and down. The slower speed of the game did kill some time, though. I killed some more watching people play Sic Bo.

Finally, the $20,000 guarantee tournament. Our table started out laughably short-handed with just four players despite being set up for ten. People started to filter in as time went on. I pulled an iron out of the fire on one hand when a short-stacked player who had announced she was “on tilt” and I both seemed to have paired a [kx] on the flop. Hers was presumably better than my [kx tx] until the river when I called her all-in as the [tx] hit. My turn came later, when [ax jx] and an [ax] on the board ran into a set of [3x] with two of them on the board after the turn. That knocked me down to about a quarter of the starting stack and I was out relatively soon, in 98th place of 140. The prize pool was more than $27,000, with fourteen places paid and more than $7,700 to first place.

Back to Portland.

Breakthroughs: Post 100; Money in $10K

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

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

Six hours in to the Encore $10K

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

My game got off to a great start. I was in seat 4 and picked up [8x 8x] on the third hand of the match as SB. I’d lost a few chips on the earlier hands but still had about 9,500. The flop was [7x 6x 5x] and I started betting heavily. The field narrowed to me and BB who stayed in. The turn [4x] gave me my straight and I really pushed but there was a flush draw on the board, as well and BB re-raised. I shoved, he called, and he missed his flush but I got [9x] for an even higher straight.  He was seriously crippled by the fourth hand and I was over 19K.

The first of my big mistakes came shortly thereafter. I had [6c 8c], two clubs showed on the flop, and I got into a bidding war with seat 7 that ended up with me having about 7,000 chips in by the river, which gave me a flush. Seat 7 turned up two pair and I flipped over [6c 8s], which paired an [8x] on the board but wasn’t a flush. I sucked up the loss of most of the gain I’d made just a few hands earlier and kicked myself for wearing contacts instead of my glasses.

I played [ax jx] and paired the [jx] high card on the flop but was beat by pocket [kx kx] and was down to 11K.

An all-diamond flop forced me to lay down 700 chips along with [jh ts]. Likewise, I raised 800 on [ac qc] and folded when the top cards on the flop were [kd 7d].

[ad 2d] gave me diamonds for a change and I made a set of deuces but four hearts on the board made a flush for someone and I was down to 8,000 chips.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I called a raise to 2K with [qc tc] but had to fold to two all-in bets, then lost another 6600 with [ac 3c] after a flop that utterly failed to connect.

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

I raised to 6K with another [as 5s] and was re-raised. The re-raiser showed [kx kx] at showdown with another player. I would have made two pair on the board but a flush came and I would have lost anyway.

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

I managed to steal the blinds and antes with an all-in holding [ad 9d]. At least I was big enough for the people at my table not to want to tangle with me all of the time.

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

I knocked out another player by calling an all-in with [kx qx]. They held [kx 9x] and stayed behind across the board. The Mutant Jack [jc ac] made two pair on the flop and earned me another 10K. Five hours and thirty minutes into the game, I’d made it back up to 45,500.

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

Raising to 15K with [kx qx], another player came over the top and I laid it down, which was good because the hand went to showdown and I would have lost to the [ax ax]. Playing another [ac 5c] (see above), I caught the flush and took in over 50K, which put me at 131,500 by six hours and forty-five minutes.

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

Pocket [8x 8x] made quads for me, knocking out another player (who was holding [ax jx]) and getting my stack out of the doldrums. At the 8K/16K/2K level, a raise to 36K with [ax 9x] took down the blinds. The I used [ax jx] and knocked another player out. My stack was up to 220K just shy of eight hours into the tournament.

A call on my part with [3h 6h] lost me my BB and another 11K calling an all-in. I lost an extra 10K as the SB at the 10K/20K?4K level calling to see the flop with [qs 9s] and folding to a post-flop bet from BB after my hand missed.

[ax 9x] again and a 40K min-raise took down the blinds again.

I called a small all-in with [jh 5h]. He flipped over [2x 2x]. The odds calculators say that one’s a coin flip but if he’d had anything higher than a pair of [4x 4x] I probably would have lost. I didn’t, though and another player was down.

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

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

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

The Poker Mutant at the Final Table


Aces Players Club Turbo (5,000 chips, 1 re-buy)

I didn’t keep notes on this tournament, although I really should have.

Started off at table 2. This being a late-night turbo game, there were multiple all-ins from the beginning. I tried to stay out of it for the most part but got tangled up in a hand with (if I remember correctly) a good pair after losing several raises and ended up re-buying.

I moved to newly-constituted table 4 immediately upon buying back in, sitting in seat 9. There were a couple of young what-seemed-to-be-foreign-students in 6 and 7. Then a dapper guy with a lot of chips was moved into 8 and my cards hit a cold spell. Fortunately for me, he was moved again within a few minutes. Seat 6 was on a bit of a tear, but not a good one for him as he ended up felted not long after 8 was moved away. He re-bought but before he could play a hand the tournament director informed him that he’d already re-bought and the late-night turbo (in the interests of shutting down before dawn) doesn’t allow more than one.So a dead stack was placed next to his friend, who seemed very unsure of himself. It was just then that I caught a great run of cards, the blinds started reaching the dead stack, then the unsure foreign guy, then me, and within four hands unsure foreign guy’s stack (which he’d just replenished with a re-buy) was in front of me, along with a lot of chips from elsewhere on the table. We hit the break, played a few more hands, and then the table broke and I moved to table 1 seat 9.

This table is sort of like a blur at this point. I had one of the bigger stacks at the table and just slowly grew things. Mr. Loud was seated in 6, across from me again, yammering on about how I was going to double up his chip stack. He almost seemed to lick his lips when I went to showdown holding [3s 4s] on a flush draw with a player from the other end of the table for about 5K. He and a loud guy who’s a regular seated in 4 were harassing seat 1, who was partially blind. When seat 4 asked him what he thought he was doing at one point, he mentioned he had a hard time seeing, got a quick apology, then the harassment continued. He was busted not long after and left with a sarcastic “Thanks for making the evening fun.” The pair focused their attention on me at one point, when Mr. Loud called me “son” and I said that I was probably a good bit older than he was. Loud, Jr. started in about how Loud had seen way more hands than I ever had (probably true). The bravado was pretty ludicrous considering that my stack was several times larger.It’s not the quantity of the hands that counts.

By the final table, when I just moved to seat 7, I had about 60K in chips. Seat 6 was a guy from Alaska who’d been the big stack when he was next to me at table 3, where he’d started a long discussion/argument when one of the guys he’d knocked out refused to shake his hand. Most of the table (loudly) endorsed the non-shaking position. By the final table, Alaska was on the ropes and a bit down from his cheerful demeanor a couple of hours earlier. He was out in ninth place not long after the table voted to pay all nine. I picked a couple of prime spots and kept building. The turning point was probably a hand in which Mr. Loud (now seated in 9) was involved. He’d doubled up a couple of times, the blinds were 5K/10K, I had about 90K, I think, and was on the BB. My hand was [ah 6h], there was a raise from down the table to 20K, I called, Loud called, and the flop was something like [4x 7x 8x], rainbow suits. I believe it got checked around to Loud, who went all-in for 28K. The guy from down the table folded, but I had enough chips to make the call and leave me with 40K or so. He flipped something like [jx tx], a [qx] hit the turn, then [2x] for the river and my ace-high took the pot, much to the consternation of Loud and his railers, not to mention the folder, who I overheard telling one of his friends that he’d have hit a hand if he could have called the raise. Over my shoulder, I heard cries of “He wasn’t supposed to call me!” but with 60K in the pot pre-flop, I wasn’t letting go of the ace or the straight draw.

I was sitting on a stack of 195,000 by the time we got to three-handed play: 78% of the chips in play. Not quite the disparity I’d had in my last tournament, but then there were only 35 players in this game. I honestly don’t remember the last hand. I think it might have been [kx qx]. I called UTG’s all-in from SB, BB called, with exactly the same number of chips in his stack as UTG, and when the cards were out I’d knocked both of them out so they split the pot and I took home first place again.

I wish I knew what I was doing right.

261% ROI on the evening, above entry fee, buy-ins, dealer tip and (ugh) Diet Pepsi.

A Piece of Cake

Cake Poker Rome Turbo 6-Max

Had [5c 5h] and the bottom end of four to a straight but got caught by sixes that made a set.

11 minutes, 20 hands. -30BB.

Cake Poker $2,000 Guaranteed Rebuy & Addon (1,500 chips)

This went bad quickly on the third hand when I got greedy with [6c 8c]. There were four player in for 167 each pre-flop. The flop was [3c 9c 6h] and I bet half the pot (349) after UTG checked. HJ called, but CO raised all-in to 1,183. That forced out UTG but I called and so did HJ. Amazingly enough, I had the best had of the lot; HJ held [ts kc] and CO had [ad qh]. My sixes and flush draw were in the lead 7:3 over the other players. [4h] for the turn gave me an even better lead. But the [qs] on the river yanked it away and dropped me down to 130 chips. That was gone in another couple hands.

I bought back in but it was only marginally better.

23 minutes, 22 hands. 2 buy-ins.

End of An Era, Pt. 5

Full Tilt Step 1 Turbo (1,500 chips)

Trying to get back on the ladder. Again. Once again it goes poorly. Hand twelve is black eights [8c 8s]. I’m down to 1,230 at 30/60 in CO. Two players ahead of me limp in, I raise to 180, both the limpers call. The flop is [tc 4d 5h]. UTG3 bets the pot (630), HJ surrenders, I raise all-in for 1,050. UTG3 calls and, of course, he has top pair with [7h td]. Nothing useful comes and I’m gone.

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

Full Tilt Crestline Gate Shallow

Won 4BB my first hand with [kh qs] but lost 8BB with [ks kd] when I laid it down after [as] showed on the flop and some aggressive raising from my opponent.

9 minutes, 14 hands. -19%ROI.

Full Tilt Deerline Shallow

Playing concurrently with the Crestline Gate game. Lost my entire buy-in in three minutes. Called a bet that put me all-in with [ks ac] and was up against [qs qd]. Lost the race.

3 minutes, 5 hands. -100%ROI.

Full Tilt Dry Gulch Shallow

Picked up this game after Deerlodge and while still playing Crestline Gate. Went all-in to call SB and was followed by BTN. I was the worst of three pocket pairs: [th td] vs. [ah ac] vs [kh kc]. The aces held.

2 minutes, 3 hands. -100%ROI.

Full Tilt Del Monte Shallow

Began play here just after busting out of Crestline Gate. Lost 7BB a few hands in then almost got even by hand 25. Started sinking again on 30 with [4c 4d] and was out with [th 9c] that almost made a flush or straight.

31 minutes, 36 hands. -100%ROI.

Second Hand Smoked

Cake Poker $1,000 Guaranteed Turbo 6-Max (3,000 chips)

Bought into this game 20 minutes in, with blinds already at 50/100. Got [ks 2s] on my first dealt hand and called but folded to a 450 raise from my immediate left. Next hand was [kh kc] in HJ. UTG folded, I raised to 300. Everyone folded around to BB who was all-in for 2,900. I went all-in to call and he showed [8c ah]. The cards ran out [jh ts jd 3h ac] and the river cracks my kings.

Essen Gee

Continuing on with the Andy Bloch “Tournament Checklist” Challenge at Full Tilt Academy.

Full Tilt 45-Player Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

Technically, this isn’t a turbo tournament, but the levels are only six minutes long, so you’re going to be seeing the blinds go up almost every time they come around. Watch your back.

I was on my second small blind (at 20/40) when I got [ac qs]. Two players called and I raised to 120, getting calls from everyone but the big blind. The flop was [ah tc as] and everyone checked. The [jd] on the turn gave a potential straight in addition to a possible full house, so I bet the pot: 400. Everyone folded.

Raised to 125 with [kd qc] a few hands later (with the blinds up to 25/50) and the only caller was the big blind who had a stack of about 3,000, twice my size. The flop was [ah 2s 2c] and I bet 100 after a check from the BB. He called and [6s] showed up. We checked it down past the river [4c] and he showed the same pair I had, with [7c qd] but not a very good kicker.

After that it was mostly downhill. Last hand was a decent [ah qs], a raise to 240 that got called by both blinds, and [ac js] drawing two pair by the flop. Out in 31st after 29 minutes and 30 hands.

Full Tilt 45-Player Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

Got a Mutant Jack ([ah jh]) on hand seven sitting on the small blind. Everyone folded to the button, who limped in, and I raised to 180, bringing it down to just me and the button. The flop was [5c td as]. I put in 400 for a bet and was raised to 800, then I shoved and was called by [ad th], who had me covered. Things looked bleak with the [7d] on the turn but [jc] popped up on the river for a suck-out. Up to almost 2,800 chips.

Limped in from the cutoff with [7c 9c] a little while later, then called an all-in to 445 from BB. Button called, as well, so the pot had 1,400 in it pre-flop. [kc 6s 3c] gave me a flush draw and I went all-in to push out the button. He dutifully folded and the all-in players cards went over: [5h 8h]. The turn and river were [th 6d] so I never made as much as a pair but I was still ahead and up to more than 3,300 chips.

That quickly bled away with “premium” hands. I drew [qs ad] in SB at 30/60 and raised to 210 with two limpers. BB and UTG+1 called, then the button three-bet all-in to 955. Everyone called so there was 3,820 in the pot. The flop was [7d ts ks]. I checked and BB went all-in for 1,815. UTG+1 called but I decided not to wait for the [qx] and folded. It didn’t show up, BB took a pot of 7,500 with [js kd]. Down 955 chips on that one.

A bigger loss came two hands later with [ac tc]. Our table was down to six players at 40/80 and I three-bet a UTG raise of 320 to 640. BB called with just 60 behind and UTG went all-in for 1,362. I called; BB went all-in. I was pretty much screwed from the flop, the board was [6c 6d jd] and  UTG had [jc js] for a full house. Down to less than 1,000.

My final hand was shortly thereafter. I called the BB and a limper from the SB for 80 with [8h th] and saw a flop of [jh 6s ts]. I checked to the BB who bet 240. UTG called and I went all-in for 831 with my middle pair. Both of the others called. BB bet 80 after a [3h] turn (which gave me a flush draw) and got an all-in call from UTG. BB was holding [tc ad], UTG had top pair with [jc kh]. [2d] on the river didn’t change anything. UTG took the 4,161 chips and I was out in 17th place. 35 minutes of play, 31 hands.

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

Got [jx tx] twice in a row (sixth and seventh hands), profiting especially nicely from the second.

FBlinds were 20/40 and I was the cutoff on the first outing. UTG limped in and I raised to 100. UTG called and we were heads-up. Flop was [ks jc 9c], UTG checked and I bet 160 which he called. [6d] on the turn, which we both checked. The river was [8d], we checked again, he showed [as ts] and my jacks took it.

There was a call from UTG+2 on the next hand and I raised to 140. Button and UTG+2 called. The [6c jd 5c] flop gave me another pair of jacks and I bet 400 into the 480 pot when UTG+2 checked. Button came along for the ride and UTG+2 folded. [2c] on the turn gave me a flush draw in addition to the highest pair on the board. I bet another 400 and the button went all-in, covering me by more than 300. I called and he flipped [8s 8d]. [ah] on the river left me in front and I took in a pot of 5,700.

My own pocket pair—[qd qs]—cost me almost 1,500 ten minutes later. I raised three times the blind to 240 from UTG, getting calls from cutoff and SB. The flop was [9s 9c ks] and I bet 400 after SB checked. Cutoff checked and SB folded. [tc] on the turn gave me a potential straight. We both checked. The river [2c] made a potential flush; the king was troubling, but I bet another 800 in the hope that he had an ace of some sort. Nope. He called and showed [jh kd]. I still had over 4K, though.

It took me about 15 minutes to find a spot to pick it back up. In UTG again with a speculative [9h td], I min-raised to 240. SB re-raised to 480 with only about 1,700 behind, and I called, putting us heads-up. The flop was [ad 3h 9d], not particularly good for me. SB checked it and I checked behind. The turn was [9s] and when SB bet 840 I put him all-in with my trips. I’m not sure what he was thinking when he called with [qh jh], I guess he must have thought I was bluffing, but that was a bounty for me and put me up over 6,600 chips.

It was nearly half-an-hour before I had another big hand, by which time blinds and small losses had whittled my stack down to about 5,200. There were a couple of very short-stacked players at the table in the blinds (200/400/50), flanked by two 20K+ stacks, one of which was just to my right. One of the big stacks opened to 850 and I re-raised all-in with [ad 9d] and 5,135 chips. There were folds around to BB, who went all-in with 1,740. The big stack folded and BB showed a [ks ah] big blind special. The flop was a grim [qs jc 5s], but [9h] on the turn and the river [6h] saved my bacon and gave me another bounty, along with a total of 8,300 chips.

The table was down to six players ten minutes later with me in SB at 300/600/75. UTG limped in. I had BB and UTG covered (although barely in the latter’s case) and went all-in with [ac td] after everyone ahead of me folded. Only UTG called, showing [ah 6d]. The [4c qh 5h jh qd] board didn’t hit either one of us and I was up to about 12,600, earning my third bounty.

The end was only three hands later at another table with eight players. Blinds were up to 400/800/100, so I only had 15BB despite my double-up. I was in the BB with three stacks bigger than mine at the table, including one of more than 32K. UTG+1 opened with an all-in of 16,764. Everything folded to me and I called with [ac td], the same hand that had just doubled me up. It wasn’t going to be as effective against [ad qd]. I was knocked out in 16th, a little short of the money. 86 hands, 78 minutes, 3 bounties, no prize money, -55%ROI.

Full Tilt Turbo $3.5K Guarantee (2,000 chips)

Just three significant hands in this tournament for me: one good and two bad. I got [as ac] in UTG+1 early on and min-raised to 80 to see what kind of action I could get. CO re-raised to 300 and I three-bet to 960 after the blinds folded. CO went all-in and I called with 300 behind. He flipped over [kh ks] and I crossed my fingers and hoped against a repeat of the nasty surprise of Monday night’s live game. My aces filled up with a [5s td ad 9h tc] and I was up to nearly double the starting stack five minutes in.

The Mutant Jack failed to come through for me at the twenty-minute mark. I made a 3x raise to 180 from UTG+2 with [jc ac] getting a call from only SB. The flop only gave me middle pair—[qc 7d jh]—but I bet another 300 after a check from SB. He re-raised to 960 and I should have ejected but I pushed all-in and he called, with me having him covered by about 1,000. His [kd qd] was in front, and it stayed there with [2d 2c] on the turn and river. The next hand I threw a [kx 2x] and saw a board that would have made that best two pair, with [8x 8x] winning a pot of 2,200.

My last hand was [qs th]. I limped in from UTG+1 for 80. BB raised to 240 and I called. [2d 9h kh] on the flop gave me a gut-shot straight draw. We both checked. [3h] made a flush draw on the river. BB checked, I bet 520—leaving me with 155—and BB was all-in. I called. With [ah kc] he had top pair and beat me on a flush. I needed a jack but the river was [2s].

Out in 594th place of 684 players. 23 minutes, 31 hands.

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

Short and sweet. [ah kh] on the fourth hand. Raised to 75 from UTG and got three callers. Flo was [4d 7s as] and I bet 300 after a check from BB; only caller was UTG+1 who had doubled up on the first hand. [jc] on the turn and I bet 900, getting raised to 1,800. Went all-in and the lucky UTG+1 shoed he was really lucky, with [ac js] when he called. Just a [5h] on the river and I was out in 85th after less than five minutes.

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

The first fifty minutes of this tournament went rather poorly. I won only a few small pots and was down to 1,165 chips when I got a Mutant Jack in UTG at 150/300/25. I raised all-in with [js as]; the button re-raised to 3,300; SB went all-in for 5,625 and got a call from the button. SB had [4h 5s], button held [kd td], and the cards on the board were [7c 8s 9c 3c 8h]. My ace kicker was good for almost 4K of the 13K pot and I was semi-alive.

My next hand was [jc ks] on the big blind. UTG+1 limped in, SB raised to 600, and I pushed all-in for 3,920 getting both the other players to fold. I was over 5K.

Two hands later it was [7s 7c] on the button. Blinds were 200/400/50. Cutoff raised to 1,000 and I pushed all-in again for 4,695. SB called with more than 20K behind and everyone else folded. He had [kc ac] but the board was free of clubs, aces, and kings: [qs 5d td 6d 9s]. The entire pot of 11,090 was mine.

Eighty minutes in I got [ks kd] on the big blind (300/600/75). The table was six-handed. HJ raised all-in to 6,035. Action folded around to me and I called with 3,700 behind. The kings held up, I picked up a bounty, and I was over 16,500. [tc jc] on the next hand won me another 1,900 chips.

I picked up blinds and antes worth almost 2,400 with a raise to 2,500 and [kd td] shortly thereafter, then dropped over 4K speculating with [ad 9s].

The very next hand I was on the big blind (500/1,000/125) with a massive [3d 2s]. The button raised to 2,000, SB folded, and I called, not expecting much. I hit the bottom end of the [5h 2c 7s] flop and opened all-in for 12,275. SB had 49K but folded and I gained a bit more than 3K. On the small blind I had [ts 9s] (with the blinds having gone up to 600/1,200/150). Action folded to me and I raised to 2,400. BB called and the flop was [qs as 3c]. I pushed again for 14,975, this time covering the BB, who folded. That pushed my total over 20K.

My next turn on the big blind was with [td ks]. Two players limped in and I checked to the flop. [qs jd 3c] gave me an open-ended straight draw, I bet 3,000, and the others folded.

Seven hands went by and we were in our first hand at the final table. I was down to 15K, blinds were 1,000/2,000/250 and I was on the big blind with [qd ks]. HJ called, CO raised to 8,000, and I re-raised to 14,925 all-in. HJ got out of the way and CO called with 40K behind. And [kh kc]. I got a [qs] on the river but it was too little, too late. I was a goner.

I took the smallest payout for ninth place. 97 minutes, 101 hands, only one bounty due to my poor showing in the first hour. ROI of 85%. In that first hour, I managed to fold a [3s 4s] in the small blind to a raise to fulfill one of the two sub-tasks for the 25-50BB section of the “Tournament Checklist” challenge. If I’d been able to cash in a regular-speed tournament within 48 hours of this one, I would have finished the fifth task, but that didn’t happen.

Full Tilt 45-Player Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

[ad jd] Mutant Jack knocked me down under 900 on the fourth hand in a three-way battle for a 4K pot that had two of us all-in. The cards on the board missed everyone. The smallest stack took over 3K with [qh qs] and I got the 870 side pot, beating out the largest stack’s [qd kc].

[kd kc] a little later doubled me up to just about 2,500 but I ran into [ah as] with [jd qc] just three hands after that, making two pair on the turn and going all-in but with [ad] showing on the river to make a set.

19 minutes, 20 hands. Finished 28th.

Full Tilt 45-Player Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

The fourth hand was even worse in this game. I held [td ts] in the big blind, with a limper in UTG and a min-raise to 60 from UTG+1. I raised to 200 after action folded to me, UTG got out of the way and UTG+1 and I went to the flop. It was a safe-ish [8c 4c 2d] and I bet another 200. UTG+1 raised with all but 30 of his chips to 1,045, and I called, which left me with only 195. [4d] came with the turn and I raised to put him all-in, making the pot just under 2,600 chips. He held [ac 3d] for a straight draw, but he only had seven outs. Naturally, the river was [as], making his better pair.

[ks ac] on my next hand allowed me to triple up my 165 over a [ad 4c] and another hand that was pushed out by a post-flop raise from the weak ace. There were two aces on the board by the river; presumably the folder didn’t like the one that showed on the flop.

It took about five minutes of play but I managed to get back over the starting stack with [ad 9h]. We were at 25/50 and I open-raised all-in from UTG+1 with 715 chips. The guy who’d taken most of my stack earlier had done well since and was over 5K. He called from CO and we were heads-up with him holding [8s ks]. The flop could hardly have been better for me: [ac 6d 9s]. A turned [kd] gave him a slim opportunity for a set but cut off any backdoor flush, and the river [4s] didn’t do anything.

I drifted down below 1,000 over the next nine hands until limps by UTG and SB let me play [7s 8h] from BB. The flop set me up for a double-gutter straight draw: [5c js 9h]. I was good with either a [6x] or [tx]. I bet 120 after SB checked the flop, getting a re-raise to 240 from UTG. SB folded; I called. The [tc] turn gave me the higher straight. There was 720 in the pot, I had 645 and it went all-in, getting a call. UTG had [jh 3h] and was drawing dead before the river [9c] showed. Suddenly, I was the third-largest stack at the table, with 2,010.

That was to be extremely short-lived, however. As anyone knows, playing the blinds can get you into trouble. [qc 6d] on the small blind when you’ve got 25BB? Two players limped in for 80, I called, BB said all was good and the flop was an enticing [8c qs 3d]. I bet 200, action folded to HJ and he raised to 920 with 380 behind. I still had 1,730 and could have kept it but I put him all-in, he called, and then he showed [tc qh]. [td] on the turn sealed my fate and I was back down into the hole, with 290. This time I wasn’t able to recover and I went out in 30th place four hands later.

34 minutes, 32 hands.

Full Tilt 45-Player Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

I seriously can’t figure out what I was thinking on this hand. I had [ad js] on the eighth hand, the board ran out [4s 4c 3c 9c jc] and I was all-in with a slightly-smaller stack before the river, which is the first time I had anything. The other player had a set on the flop, with [4d 5d]. 8 minutes, 11 hands, 35th place.

Full Tilt 45-Player Sit & Go (1,500 chips)

Lost 440 early on chasing a flush with [9c qc] from UTG then picked up 1,000 on the next hand with more clubs. The [9c ac] didn’t flush but the lower card paired on the turn to beat [8s 8c] held by SB. Lost the whole thing with a [as js] Mutant Jack that missed Broadway and lost to a set (and a bigger hand) [ah kc] and a [9d ks qh kh jd] board.

19 minutes, 17 hands, 35th place again.

Diamonds Are Forever

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

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

[ad kh] about ten minutes in put me over 2,600 when I called a short-stack all-in on a [4d 4c jd] flop and caught [ah] on the turn to beat jacks-up. My own pocket pair of [jd jh] almost felted me seven hands later, when I called another all-in and he got his second ace on the flop.

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

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

Did my usual brief submarining in this event, skimming just below the starting stack while I tested for the right opportunity and hoping that it actually showed up. Eight minutes in, I picked up [jc th]. I was down to 1,070 after losing blinds and bets on a couple of suited [qx kx] hands. Action folded to me in the hijack and I min-raised to 60. The button—big stack at the table with more than 3,500 chips—raised to 150. The big blind called, as did I. I had top pair on the [ts 3h 6d] flop and bet 300  after a check from the big blind. Button raised to 615 and I called, leaving 300 back. The blind got out of the way. I checked after a [qc] on the turn and the button put me all-in to call. I didn’t figure the queen made much of a difference to his hand and called. I double-paired with [jd] on the river and the button turned over [9h 9d], behind from the flop.

A lucky [ah ad] just four hands later more than doubled me up to more than 5K when I took out two players with  [jd js] and [qs ac]. Three hands after that a tentative excursion with [ad 2d] made trips on the [qs ac ah] flop and both other players to the flop having queens kept them on the line through the river.

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

Just before the first break, a relatively innocuous-looking [kc 6c] ended up in my hand in the cutoff position. Blinds were 80/160. The hijack, with called. I called, and everyone behind me limped in, too. The flop was [4c 2c ks] and I had top pair as well as a 2nd nut flush draw (and potential straight flush). The blinds and hijack checked and I made a small bet of 240. Button folded, small blind called, and everyone else got out of the way. The [7c] hits on the turn. There’s 1,300 in the pot. I can’t make a straight flush any more but with me holding the [6c]. the only way he can is if he’s got [ac 5c]—and if he’s got the ace and can make any flush he beats me. He can’t have a full house yet. His stack is 3,500, I’ve got him covered by almost 10K. He checks and I feign weakness with a bet of 240. He calls. Maybe he’s got a single club and he’s hoping for a fourth on the board. Maybe he thinks the same of me. The [ts] shows on the river. There’s no chance of a full house. He has to have two clubs with an ace to beat me. He bets 650 and I raise to put him all-in. He has a flush but it’s [jc 5c] and I’m sitting just under 18K while the break is on.

The graph shows a little blip after things start back up when I take a couple of hits. A call against a 4K stack goes awry when he has pocket [kh ks] and I only have [jc jh] in mine and four to a straight on the board. Losing another 1,500 on the next hand with [ad js] busts me down to 11K, but the third monster in a row—[ac kh]—almost doubles me up when I call two all-ins holding [as js] and [9h 9s] then get a [ks qc kc] flop that stays good through the river.

The most notable event of this match was a mechanical mistake on my part. The game had been going for about 300 hands, we were 100 minutes in (it’s Rush poker). The blinds were 200/400/50 and I was on the button with [jh 9h] and 39K in chips, 3rd at the table in stack size. UTG+3 limped, the hijack (#2 stack with 49K) raised to 1,600. I called, thinking it might be a largish pot and I might be able to take it if the cards came out in the middle ranks. The big blind (13K, the smallest at the table) called and UTG+3 (25K) was along for the ride. The flop was [ts qs 5c] which didn’t do much for my hearts but did give me an open-ended straight draw. There were two checks and the big stack bet 4K. I called, along with the blind and UTG+3 folded. Another spade dropped on the turn: [5s], pairing the board, as well. The small-stacked big blind went all-in, getting a call from the big stack. I did not want to call a bet for a third of my stack here, even with 5,600 already in the pot. Potential flush on the board, full house possibilities—heck, just a [5x] had me beat—but I didn’t pay close enough attention to my cursor and—honest— called instead of folding. [7s] showed up on the river, the short stack had my rank but in diamonds ([jd 9d], and the big stack had my flush with a bigger card [6h qh] that made top pair on the board and took a profit of 32K.

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, I managed to double up by doing something stupid. I had [ac qd] and 750 in the 1,950 pot heads-up on a flop of [js 3d 5s]. My opponent checked, I bet 220, and he went all-in with a larger stack than mine. I called with 2,220 and crossed my fingers and [qc] shoed on the turn, with [ts] on the river. He turned over [jh kh]. No flush. I was up to 6,390. I lost a bit when I was bluffed off [qc qd] with a board holding an ace, a pair of 8s and three spades. To rub it in, the guy showed a garbage [jh qs]. He busted out thirteen hands later, though.

I had a little lull before I started building back up, but I was nowhere near the chip average. Then my flushing problem again reared its ugly head. I called a min-raise to 400 from the button with [9d ad]. Both the blinds were in, as well as UTG+2, who’d made the raise. The flop was [6d 7d 7s] and UTG+2 bet 1,000. I called. I probably should have raised but I doubt that would have done anything for me except lose me more money. The blinds folded and [tc] hit the turn. I had a gut-shot straight draw to go with my nut flush draw. He bet another 2,000 and I had to call. But it was not to be. [6s] on the river. He showed [js jd]—even a river ace would have beaten him—and I was down to 4K.

I turned diamonds into chips with [jd td] about ten minutes later, though. I had about 3,500 in the cutoff at 120/24/25 and called a raise to 480 from UTG+2. A call from the big blind meant there were three of us to the flop. I had a gut-shot straight draw with [4c 8d qs] and decided to take a stab at it with a 500 bet when both players ahead of me checked. Only UTG+2 called. The turn was [2s] and I just checked the action through to the river, which was [jh]. UTG+2 had about 1,500 more than me and bet out nearly half his stack with 1,800. I raised all-in to 2,500, not believing he had the queen. Then he folded and I was up over 7K again.

That was brief, as I dipped down below the starting stack again before recovering to almost 9K with [kd 6d] (more diamonds!) It was an incredibly ugly hand. I called the 280 big blind (holding 5,300 behind) from UTG+2. The button raised to 840, with another 4,400. The large stack (21K) at the table in the big blind called the raise, and when I did the same there were three to a flop of [4d ts ks]. The big stack checked and I opened with 750 to see if that would protect my pair. It did, but only marginally. After the button called the big stack folded, which probably saved me on this one.

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

It was a decidedly un-premium diamond hand just four deals later that got me to my peak in the tournament. I had [qd 2d] in the small blind with three limpers behind me and over 8K in chips, so I put in another 140 chips. The big blind checked and five players got to the [3d 8d 4c] flop. I had third nut flush draw in first position to act, so I bet 420. Only the big blind and hijack called. The [kd] gave me the second nut flush. The [ad] was still out there potentially, so I only opened with 560. It was down to me and the hijack. [th] on the river. No four of a kind or full house possibilities. The only thing that could beat me was a hand with two diamonds including the ace. I made another 560 bet. The hijack raised to 2,240 and I called, figuring I had another 5K if he had the better flush. He had the [ad] but his second card was only a [jh], so I was up to 13.5K.

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

The flop was [5d 3d 5s]. I should have taken the story of the earlier [ad] to heart and left it alone—since I had no connection to the cards on the board—but instead I opened with a 510 bet. UTG+1 dropped out but three of us saw the [4s] on the turn. A gut-shot straight draw!

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

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

[3h 3c] in his hand. Full house since the flop. If only I’d had [5c 3s] instead.

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

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

Doubled up at the five-minute mark with[kh ah]. Then I got only minimal return when a larger stack shoved all-in on the turn and was called by me and a start-size stack. I had [kc qs] with the board showing [qc kd 2d 2s] for two pair; the big stack had [ks as] for just kings and twos; the small stack had [7d ad] for a flush draw. If there had to be a diamond, I wanted it to be the queen; I didn’t want an ace to counterfeit my queens; I could have lived with another two to chop. But the river was the [4d]. The small stack tripled up to 4,300 and I made a profit of 150 chips.

The Mutant Jack failed me a little while later. [ac jc] in the small blind with 2,600 chips, #2 stack at the table. Min-raise to 80 from UTG+2, I re-raise to 200, big blind calls, and UTG+2 is in. The flop’s [4s td jd]. I bet 600, everyone falls into my trap and calls. [tc] on the turn. I have two pair with top kicker. I’m all-in. Big blind calls but he’s about 1,300 short. UTG+2 folds. [qd kh] for an open-ended straight draw. River’s [9h]. Well, I still have 1,275. At least, I do until [qs ad] slams into [ah as] and drops me below 300. I battle back up over 1,000 before [8c 8d] cuts me down in the 21st minute. 357th place out of 1,137 entrants.

Cake Poker Roma 6-Max

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

Full Tilt Satellite to MiniFTOPS #2 (300 chips)

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

I did well almost right off the bat. On the third hand I was on the small blind and got [jc 6c 4c ts]. There were four limpers (including myself) and the big blind checked. The flop came out [7s qs 8c] leaving me needing [9x] for a queen-high straight. There were four checks and a bet of 150—half everyone’s stack— from UTG+3. I called and two other players were in, too. A [tc] on the turn cinched it up for me. I went all-in. UTG called, having a little bit over my stack.  UTG+1 re-raised all-in, also having me covered, followed by an all-in call by UTG+3 and a call from UTG. The river was [9h].

There was 1,142 in the main pot with a side pot of 66. My queen-high straight was the best hand and I got the main pot but the side pot went to UTG, with [6d 3d 9s 6s] for a ten-high straight. No low hand.

I lost most of it in short order. [ah kh 5d tc] in my hand. There’s a [4h] and a [3d] on the board by the turn and I’m hoping for a deuce on the river. But someone else makes it and takes both high and low pots and I’m back down to starting stack with the blinds at 20/40.

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

Puffmammy Tournament 20 (1,500 chips)

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

Two ugly points about the night. I was all in after the flop for, I think, the second time of the night. Playing against W, who’s typically pretty loose. I had [ax qx] and W flips [ax 2x] There’s an ace on the board. Everything goes fine until the river when another two shows up and I’m re-buying.

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

Made it to see Stan, though.