I’m pretty sure I mentioned before that during my Vegas stay in December, I played in three tournaments and cashed in two. I played 8 plus hours in all three of them! Thus, I will do write ups about all three, and so I might as well do them in chronological order. This will be the write up of my only time at Binion’s this trip. Since I didn’t cash, I won’t give quite as detailed a post as I would want to do if I had made some money.
I sometimes amuse myself when, days, weeks or months (or longer) after a day in Vegas, I play back the audio recording I made of my notes the next day. Playing back the notes for this tournament was one of those times. I heard myself say over and over again that, after this experience, I was never going to play in another tournament again, that it was stupid to play in tournaments, that it was just too frustrating to play them, too inconvenient, etc, etc. Very little of my ranting (to myself, you understand) had to do with the issues I raised in this post here, although I did hear myself say, “Tournaments are not designed for diabetics.” So there were some of that, but it had more to do with playing so long and having nothing to show for it.
Let’s start with a pocket Kings hand in the fourth level. I raised just under 3X with them and got one call. There were two Queens on the flop so I had to fold to a donk shove.
A bit later, I limped/called $1100 with pocket 6’s (blinds were 200/400). The flop was Queen-Ten-6. I raised $1,800 to $4K. He called, but wouldn’t call my turn shove (didn’t have enough chips to bet anything less).
I started level 5 with $19,200, and since the starting stack is $20K that’s not good. But the last two hands of the level I came back. I limped in from the button with Ace-10 off, five ways. The flop was Ace-10-x, two spades. The guy on my right bet $1,700 and I raised to $4k and took it down.
Very next hand, in the cut-off, I called a raise to $2K with pocket 4’s. I did that because 4 people had already called the $2K. The flop was King-Queen-4 and it folded to me. I bet $7,500 and no one called.
Soon after I raised to $2K with Ace-King and a big stack made it $7K. That was not the time, I thought, to get it all in with Ace-King so I folded.
I raised with Ace-7 off, got a caller, and had to fold to his shove when the flop totally missed me.
After a couple of limpers I made a nice raise from the button with 10-9 offsuit and took it down.
I opened to $2,700 (bb was $1k, no ante) and had a couple of callers when “Nice Guy” made it $5K. Nice Guy is a player I see virtually every time I play Binion’s, and more often than not, I end up at the same table with. So a total reg, pretty much an ABC player—and also, as the name indicates, a heckuva nice guy. I couldn’t imagine him doing that with a hand that didn’t have me crushed. We all folded and sure enough, he showed us his hand—a couple of Aces.
Same level, in the big blind, no raise, I saw a flop with 4-7. Pretty good flop for me: 8-6-5. I led out for $4K and got a call. I didn’t like the 6 on the turn, but I shoved, and he folded.
After one limper, I made it $3,500 with King-Jack of clubs. A short stack shoved for $5,500, I of course called. He had Ace-rag. King on the flop, Jack on the turn and I was good.
At level 8 I had $28,500 (blinds are 100/600/1200). I raised to $4K after a limper with Ace-8 of clubs from the button. I totally whiffed on the flop, it was Jack-high, no clubs. It checked to me and I shoved. No call.
Then I got a little cuter. I limped with pocket 6’s and missed. There the flop was Queen-Queen-10. I bet $2k to try to steal it, but had one caller (one other had seen the flop). I bet $5k on the turn when I still had nothing but 6’s. He called. No betting on the river—I gave up—and he a crappy 10 to take it.
The end of level 8 meant it was time for me to get some dinner. I guess maybe that’s why I made the two moves I just described. I wouldn’t have minded so much getting eliminated there so I wouldn’t have to rush thru a really crappy dinner. But it was clear I was hanging around for awhile and that damn deli next to the poker room would be closed by the next break. I would like to actually miss a couple of hands there at the end of the level so I can race to the deli before it becomes too crowded and I can’t get my food in time. But I was stuck being the blinds. Luckily, those hands went quickly, and with just a minute or two to the break, I decided to forgo my button to get a jump on the crowd to get my dinner. See, this is what I mean about the inconvenience of dealing with my condition in regards to tournaments. Maybe that button hand was Aces and I would have doubled or tripled up? Of course, it could also have bounced me out of the tournament, sure. And actually, the fact is, we were at the point of the tournament where being in late position isn’t really that valuable. It’s sometimes better to be in early position to be the first to raise or shove when so many others are contemplating the same maneuver.
I actually missed both the button and the cut-off but I was able to get my two hot dogs ahead of the crowd and managed to consume them during the break. I honestly can’t tell you if they were the best hot dogs I ever had in my life (doubtful) or tasted like rancid moose meat (more likely). I ate them too fast to notice.
Level 9 (200/800/1600), $23K. I limped/folded pocket 7’s. Then I open shoved with King-Queen, no call. Open shoved with King-Queen again. This time a short stack called with $11,500. He had Ace-5 of spades. I caught a Queen on the flop and took it.
It had become a running gag that I seemed to be doing much of my raising when Nice Guy was the big blind. He started giving me a hard time about it, it a kidding way—counting how many times I had done it, “threatening” me with payback. One time when I had garbage he was the big blind, and I looked at him and grabbed some chips and “Let’s see, since you’re the big blind so….” But I quickly mucked before it went too far.
Level 10 (300/1000/2000), $36K. Nice Guy was the BB again I raised to $6,500 with Ace-9 off after a big stack limped in. Nice Guy and the big stack called. The flop was Ace-high, I shoved, Nice Guy folded, the big stack folded after tanking a bit, showing an Ace. The big stack said she didn’t like her kicker, but I wonder if it was really less than 9?
Then I got a much needed double up at Nice Guy’s expense. He shoved in front of me, which was pretty cool since I had two Aces. He showed Ace-King. No suck out for him. I had him covered by just a bit.
Level 12 (400/1500/3000), $65K. After the big stack limped in, I raised to $11K with 10-9 of diamonds. Limper called. Flop came Jack-7-x, both the Jack and the 7 were diamonds. I bet $20k. Big stack tanked forever and then folded.
Then came an instructive point of rules with this next hand. I had Ace-4 of diamonds in the big blind and it folded to the small blind. He raised to $7K. I figured he was just stealing and I had an ace. So I grabbed some chips and announced “raise.” I was trying to figure out how much to raise to. I had picked up three white chips, which were $5K each, but I really wasn’t sure what to bet. But as soon as I said, “raise” the player shouted, “all in.” Fine, except I hadn’t finished my action yet.
The dealer pointed this out to him and he said, “He has three $5K chips in his hand, that’s a raise to $18K. He has to put them in the pot.” The dealer said no, I hadn’t done anything except announce raise. The floor was called who said, as anticipated, that I was only obligated to put in the min raise. Well, this guy had a very similar stack to mine and I wasn’t about to risk it all on Ace-4. I made the min raise to $11K and then put on a show of how I was thinking about whether to call his shove. I even asked for a count to make it look good. But I never intended to call of course. I saved myself some chips with the guy jumping the gun like that but I honestly can’t say what I would have bet if he had kept quiet. Considering that he literally couldn’t wait to shove, I assume that he had a really big hand.
That took us to the next break for what I guess you could call “The Chinese Fire Drill.” I should explain that for the big Saturday tournament, Binion’s has a separate tournament area a bit away from the actual poker room. When I initially started playing in this tournament, there was an actual room they held the tournament in, which is right on the other side of the deli. It was actually a great room for the tournament, so naturally the management at Binion’s decided to take it away from the poker dept and use it for something else, against the objections of the poker people.
First they had an Elvis exhibit in there. Then it was used for storage. Recently, they turned into a (very) small showroom and they have a hypnotist act in there. I’m not sure if this act was running when I was there last, but it was running this night and the room is right next to the tournament area. Apparently the hypnotist act is so loud (and the guy is so vulgar) that they can’t really use the tournament area once the show starts—too loud, too distracting. So on this break, when they are down to just a couple of tables, they move everyone into the actual poker room to finish the tournament.
For this break, players are told they not allowed to leave the table early (although I don’t know how they can actually stop anyone from doing that) and then, when all the tables are finished with the last hand, everyone takes their chips and follows their dealer to their new seating assignments inside the poker room. It’s a pit of a pain to be sure and a nice waste of about 10 minutes getting everyone situated in their new seats. Really shows you how casino management treats poker.
By this time, we were down to three tables and just one player away from two tables (9-handed). There were 90 or so players, the prize pool was over $11K and first place was around $3,500. You had to get fourth place to just barely get $1K. The min-cash was around $250, so not even double your $160 buy-in, which I maintain should be a requirement of a prize pool for a tourney this size. They were paying 12.
And it was also the prize pool distribution that I heard myself complaining about playing back my notes. It was like, “And even if I had cashed, I wouldn’t have gotten enough money to make it worth it.” Of course, not getting any money back made it a whole lot worse.
After the break, it took us just one hand to get down to 2 tables. So there was a redraw of course. Now this was really annoying. After all that we went through to get situated in our new seats because of the new location, we all had to move again after just one hand. Frustrating!
The climate in the poker room was vastly different than the tournament area. The former was very much on the cold side, especially since I was sitting near the door to the outside, and every time someone came in, we’d feel the cold air. The poker room itself was very warm, almost stiflingly hot. It was maybe the only time on this whole trip I was ever too warm.
There was another issue with room. Every now and then, we would all notice a very distinctive scent permeating the area. Either there was a skunk loose in the poker room, or someone was smoking marijuana. It was a really strong odor—very unpleasant. Presumably one of the players in a cash game was taking frequent marijuana breaks and was coming back wreaking of it. Ugh.
So down to 18, the rest of my tournament was pure torture. I would have expected more people to bust out sooner. But this took forever. We had moved to the poker room for level 13 and late in level 16 we still had 15 players—three from the money. Meanwhile, I had gone completely card dead. I tried shoving and stealing as best I could, but I just couldn’t keep up with the blinds.
During this period, I raised or shoved with hands like Jack-9 off, Ace-9 off, King-Queen suited, King-Jack off, King-9 of clubs, Ace-3 off, and Queen-Jack off. Never did I get a call, so I never had the double up I needed. All the money I was getting with these hands were not enough to keep up with the blinds and antes.
I started level 16 with $41K, where the blinds were 1500/5000/10000. So I was beyond desperate. I kept stealing blinds and antes, but not enough to even keep that stack. Three away from the money, it was not looking good for me to hold on and cash. I had been playing over 8 hours. I’m pretty sure that any similar tournament I have ever played I would have been in the money by then.
I was under-the-gun and I had 10-9 offsuit. Knowing that being the big blind next hand meant I would pretty much have to shove with whatever two cards I had, I figured 10-9 was more than good enough to open shove. Sadly for me, the big blind had Ace-Queen and called with his big stack. I caught a 9 on the flop, but then an Ace hit the turn and I was out.
It was 10:20PM, I had been playing since 2PM and was extremely frustrated leaving empty-handed. I would have been slightly less frustrated taking home the $350 min cash. I really couldn’t believe that I was there so late and didn’t get a penny, the last few levels had been painful to play, the lack of players busting was excruciating.
And thus the vow to never play in tournament again. Of course, I’ve already given it away that I didn’t keep my vow very long. Not sure if it will be my next post or not but I will tell you about the next tournament, one with a better ending, soon.