As I explained in the post here, my plans for tournament play on this past trip went askew even before I arrived in town. But the unexpected Stratstack tournament gave me a viable tournament to play on Saturday, and I had a pretty good run, if you overlook the fact that I didn’t cash.
Once I realized that Aria wasn’t a viable option for a weekend tournament, I did come up with another plan, before I found out about the Stratstack. I decided I would play the Aria 1PM, $125 tourney on Monday, when they returned to their regular schedule. Keep in mind, when I visit Vegas these days, it is not a vacation. I generally only play poker on the weekends and in the evenings. During the weekdays, I work. So I’d be taking a day off from work (real work, that is, for PokerAtlas and/or Ante Up, not what the famous TBC means by “work.”). Fortunately, I make my own hours, so I could do it.
I suppose the Stratstack might have scratched my tournament itch and made me reconsider playing Aria on Monday. But since that session at the Strat remained the best poker session I had since I got to town by the time Monday rolled around, I decided to go ahead with the original plan and take the afternoon off and play in the tournament. A nice tournament cash could turn things around for me in a hurry, if I could only get some cards to play.
I didn’t make a note of the payouts or prize pool for some reason (that’s kind of a giveaway that I didn’t cash in this, isn’t it?). Fortunately I was able to find the details on Herndon Mob. According to that, there were 105 runners and a prize pool of a bit more $10K. They paid 13, with the bottom four spots getting the min-cash of $194. So yeah, I wasn’t thrilled about that. The final result of the tournament showed the top three getting $2,434, $2,180, and $1,995, and fourth taking $866. Obviously a deal was made among the top 3 by chip count as there’s no way the top 3 spots were that close in the original pay scale.
The tournament starts with a $10K stack and blinds at 25/50. The very first hand I was the small blind with pocket deuces. It was three-way and I bet $150 on a low flop, had one call. Didn’t bet again and my deuces held. Unfortunately, the fact that I won the first hand was not an indicator that I wasn’t still card dead.
In fact, I got to the third level (100/200) barely playing a hand, with slightly under the starting stack. But I had a few hands in that level. Limped in from the button with pocket 5’s, four ways. The flop missed me, but it folded to me, so I bet $500 and took it.
Ace-6 of diamonds in middle position, I raised to $500. It was 4-ways. There was a 6 on the flop, no diamonds, I c-bet $1,500 and took it.
I raised to $500 with Ace-Queen and it was heads up. I bet $800 on a blank flop and he called. Caught an Ace on the turn and bet $1,200, this time he folded.
Level 4 (25/100/200) it folded to me on the button. I made it $500 with pocket 5’s. Only the small blind called. The flop was 10-9-2. He checked, I bet $800 and he shoved. I folded, and he showed a set of 10’s.
Under the gun I raised to $550 with Queen-Jack of hearts. Two players called and then someone shoved. The shove was over half my stack, so I insta-folded. The nice looking blonde girl called the shove, she showed Ace-Jack. The shover had pocket 8’s. An Ace on the flop gave the pot to the girl. I would have had nothing.
By level 5 (25/200/400) I was down to about $6K and pretty close to desperate. I raised to $1,100 with Ace-Jack of clubs. A guy with a similar stack to mine shoved and it folded back to me. Sigh. I figured if I folded I still had one move left (a shove with enough chips to get some respect) and that I didn’t really want to make my last stand with Ace-Jack. I folded.
A smaller stack than I had shoved in front of me when I had Ace-10. I was thinking then that I should have called with Ace-Jack. But I reasoned that open-shoving a smaller stack likely meant a much wider range than shoving over a raise with a bigger stack had. So I shoved myself. He had Ace-5 of diamonds. I caught a 10 and busted him, and got my stack up to $8,175.
I opened to $1,100 with 9-7 of clubs and didn’t get a call. But raising the same with pocket 4’s and then pocket 8’s didn’t work; both times I had to fold to shoves.
In the big blind with 9-7 of diamonds and no raise, it was heads up (not with the small blind, it was a limper). I flopped a gut-shot and there was no bet. The turn gave me a flush draw too and I called $1,100. I caught the flush on the river and shoved. He called with only a pair. Nice pot.
Level 6 (50/300/600), $12K. I had pocket 7’s in the big blind. Under the gun raised to $1,900 and the cute blonde called. So I called. The flop was 7-6-2. I checked. The preflop raiser shoved. The lady tanked and then folded. I called. He had pocket 8’s. My set held. He had a slightly smaller stack than I had. Got me up to $22K.
Pocket Jacks, raised to $1,700. Only the lady called. The flop was Queen high, I c-bet $2,500 and took it.
Then pocket Queens, raised to $1,700 again. Same lady calls. This time the flop was Ace-high. I bet $2,500 but now the lady made it $6K. I let it go.
Didn’t note a hand in level 7. Level 8 (100/600/1200) $17K, We got down to 4 tables and my table broke. Called a shove from a stack less than mine with Ace-King,. He had Ace-10 and I caught a King on the river. Brought me up to $22K.
Last hand of the level, I look down at the dreaded pocket Kings. I raised to $3,600 and had two callers. The flop was Queen-high, two hearts. I shoved. First guy folded, the next guy called with Queen-7 of clubs. The Kings held.
Level 9 (200/800/1600), $44K. Raised to $5K after one limper with pocket Jacks. One caller. I folded to a big donk bet on a King-high flop.
Level 10 (300/1000/2000) $31,500. In early position, I shoved with Ace-Jack of clubs, no call.
It folded to me in the small blind with pocket 9’s. I shoved and took it down.
Under the gun, I shoved with pocket Kings, no call.
I reached level 11 (400/1500/3000) with $33,900. We got down to two tables….18 players in fact. Just five away from the money. But I was definitely still in shove-or-fold mode. When I had a chance to open a pot with King-Jack off in late position, I shoved. Unfortunately, a big stack called with pocket Queens. I did catch a Jack, and even had a straight draw on the turn. But I needed him to catch his set of Queens to give me the straight and it didn’t happen. I was done.
I had played 6 hours and felt oddly good. Ordinarily, playing that long in a tournament and getting nothing back frustrates me. Not this time. It seemed like the best poker session I’d had all trip. I thought I played pretty well, and actually got some cards to play. And it was definitely the most fun session I’d had, poker wise. Are tournaments more fun than cash games? Maybe. It depends. This one was fun. Just getting more than one hand to play every hour may have helped. You know, the second best session I had was the Stratstack. As I said, maybe I’m a tournament player after all. Just wish they wouldn’t make it so hard for me to play them.
I was actually encouraged after the tournament. I made a decision right then that my next two nights, I’d play the Aria 7PM tournament instead of cash games. I couldn’t take any more time off work but they have the same tournament at 7PM. They get small turnouts, so smaller prize pools, but still, I thought that would be the most productive use of remaining two days in Vegas.
But in the end, I didn’t follow through. I caught another bad break….I took ill. All during the Aria tournament, I had this occasional dry cough. I didn’t think it was a cold, I chalked it up to “Vegas throat.” By the next day though, it seemed more like a cold. I kept coughing—not a lot mind you, but enough to be annoying. And I knew that it was possible I’d start coughing a lot any time.
So, I didn’t want to get locked into a tournament. I didn’t feel that bad, and I didn’t have any other obvious symptoms like sneezing or runny nose, so I felt I’d be ok to play cash knowing I could stop any time if I got worse. With a tournament, I’d be stuck. Also, if I did have a coughing spell, easy to take a break away from the table in a cash game. In a tournament, not so much.
So it was just another instance of my bad luck that I didn’t get any more tournament poker in on this trip.