Saturday, March 16, 2019

They Paid the Bubble (Sort of)

Well, now that my 12-part car story from my December trip to Vegas has finally been completed, I can start filling you in on the rest of that trip.  Yes, I did other things than get my car fixed. And fixed. And fixed. 

Like this day, my first full day in Vegas, a Saturday.  I headed over to Aria to play in their $240 tournament (30-minute levels, 20K starting stack, and of course, the big blind ante). As this was a bit more than a week before Christmas, there wasn't a big crowd.  They ended up with 48 players.  They were paying 5, with $3,800 for first, $2,470 for second, down to $749 for fifth.  Notice that the min-cash was quite a bit more than double the buy-in, so I heartily approve. Total prize pool was $9,300.

The tournament starts a 11am, which is too early for me.  Fortunately I think the structure (and the starting stack) is good enough so I feel it's ok to register late so I can eat a decent lunch in my room first.  I got there a little before noon and they had three tables going, all full.  Eventually they got enough alternates so they could start a fourth table, which I was assigned to.  I started playing near the beginning of level 3.

I started level 4 (300/200/300) with $17,700.  In early position I limped with 8-7 of clubs and then called a raise to $800, we were heads up.  I flopped a gut shot to the straight flush, missing only the 9 of clubs.  It checked around.  The Queen of clubs on the turn gave me the flush. I bet $1,500 and he called.  The river was the 9 of hearts.  Now I had a straight and a flush, but not a straight flush.  I bet $2K and he tanked before finally calling, reluctantly.  He showed pocket 9's.  Bad river card for him. It was my first pot of the tourney.

Then came a big hand.  There was a raise to $800 and two callers.  I had Ace-King in late position and called, then two more players behind me called.  The flop was Ace-6-3, two diamonds and I had the Ace of diamonds.  Someone—not the preflop raiser—bet $1,500 I think (might have been more) and I call.  We were now heads up.  The turn was another 6 and he bet $2,500 and I called.  The river was another 3. This time he shoved.  It was around 11K and I had him covered but it would have totally crippled me to call and lose there.  I tanked.

What was I losing to?  I thought it through.  He didn't have pocket Ace's, he had just called a raise preflop, hadn't raised himself.  I thought a 6 or a 3 was unlikely.  The third diamond had never hit the board.  He mostly likely had an Ace with a smaller kicker than mine.  So I called.

My voice notes are a little unclear as to what happened next.  It sounds like I'm reporting that he said, "Good call" and just verbally said, "King-high."  But that wouldn't be right.  He was all-in and we both should have flipped over our hands as soon as I said "Call."  That might have happened, but I couldn't remember the next day.  Regardless, I took down a very nice pot, and had more than a double up.

This guy will be heard from again.  I saw him at one of the other tables not long after.  He obviously re-entered.

In the big blind with 5-3 of hearts, no one raised and the flop was Jack-4-2, rainbow.  Not sure how many players saw the flop.  It checked around.  The turn was a 7 and I called 1K, it was heads up.  The river was a 6 completing my straight.  I bet 2K and didn't get a call.

I didn't record a hand for all of level 5.  I started level 6 (600/300/600) with $33,400.  I opened with Ace-Jack, got two callers and took it down with a c-bet.

Remember that guy who doubled me up earlier?  As I said, he had re-entered and was playing at another table.  But by this hand, he was back at my table.  Honestly, I think he might have busted from the other table before he found his way back to this table, but I'm not sure.  I called $1,500 with King-Jack of  diamonds.  It was three-way, including this guy (I don't think he was the preflop raiser).  The flop was all blanks, but with one diamond. It checked around. There was a second diamond on the turn and I called 2K, it was still three-way.  A third diamond on the river gave me the second nuts and the guy who doubled me up earlier shoved over 10K.  The other guy folded and of course I called.  He had absolutely nothing, it was like 6-5 and I guess he missed his straight.  So that guy doubled me up again a second time with a bluff.  He was sort of my guardian angel.  Too bad late entry was almost over, I couldn't count on him doubling me up again.

Level 7 (800/400/800), $50,400. I called $2,300 with pocket Queens from one of the blinds.  There were a bunch of callers and thus I didn't want to make a huge three-bet.  I think five of us saw the flop.  And what a flop it was.  There were two Queens on it and I don't remember what the other card was.  The preflop raiser had just moved to our table and led out for $4,500. I just called.  On a blank turn, I checked and he only bet another $4,500.  I guess that's probably when I should have check-raised, but I didn't want him to fold so I just called.

I recall the river card was a King (there was no Ace out there).  I figured I had to try to get some chips from him and since he hadn't increased his bet on the turn, he might be all too willing to check behind if I checked.  Truth is, I'm not really sure how to play monsters, you get them so infrequently.  And I hated that I was first to act.  I opted for a bet, but I put out 12K.  For the size of the pot, that wasn't too large, but considering the last street the bet was $4,500 I guess it really was too much.  Perhaps I should have bet the same $4,500 he put out last time?  He had the 12K covered but not by that much.  Here's the thing…..he tanked for a long time.  Looking at the board, I couldn't figure out what he could have had.  There was neither a flush or a likely straight. Maybe he had a big pocket pair?  Perhaps Aces?  Not Kings.  If he had Kings, the river had given him a boat and he's not tanking, he's shoving.  Whatever, he finally folded, and I felt I'd blown an opportunity to get more chips.

I hadn't finished stacking my chips when the next hand was dealt, and it was (the dreaded) pocket Kings.  Someone had raised to $2,300 so I three-bet to 6K.  The raiser called and we were heads up.  The flop was 8-7-7, I bet $3,500 and took it down.

We were down to 19 players, the table broke and I moved.  Soon thereafter, we reached level 8 (1K/500/1K) and I had $68,700.  I only noted one hand from that level, it was a raise with Ace-Jack and it was heads up.  Ace flop so I bet and took it.

Level 9 (1,200/600/1,200) $65,500. And then we were down to 14 players and I was moved to balance.  I took down some limpers' money with a raise from the button with King-Queen suited.  And I three-bet from the small blind with Ace-King and took that down.

By level 10 (1,500/1,000/1,500) we were down to 12 players and I had $67,500.   I botched playing pocket Jacks.  From the small blind I just called 3K from a fairly tight player with a big stack. On a Queen high flop I called another 3K.  Then I folded to a big turn bet.

But we were down to 10 players, so I made the final table.

I opened to 4K with King-Queen and got a call.  The flop was King-high and I bet    6k and he called.  I bet 10K on a blank turn and took it.

I was just treading water.  Level 11 (2k/1k/2k) $64,500.  We were down to 9 players.  But I couldn't find a hand to play that whole level.

So we reached level 12 (3,000/1,500/3,000) but we were now down to 6 players, one from the money.  I had $37,500 was desperate.  And so began the inevitable discussion of whether or not to pay the bubble.  Since I was the short stack, that seemed like a good idea to me.  Now for the past level or two, the guy on my left, a really good, friendly guy, had been battling me for the short stack position.  And he was joking about how they should all just agree to give him the first place money.  This guy was actually a blackjack dealer at Wynn.  He was having a good time and we all were laughing at his boasts that he was gonna win even when he had the shortest stack.  But he managed to chip up enough to pass me while I was card dead at the end.

Anyway, more seriously he suggested paying the bubble.  Nobody objected, but they couldn't agree on how to do it or how much to pay.  It was generally agreed that everyone would just kick in some cash and give the cash to the bubble boy.  But how much?  The chip leader suggested $30 each.  Well the trouble with that is, that only comes to $180 and the buy-in was $240.  So it wasn't even break even.  Plus, since $30 of that $180 was the bubble's own money, it was really a $90 loss, not a $60 loss.  OK, the chip leader said he'd make it $40 but no more.  That would give the bubble $240, the buy-in….but it still wouldn't be all his money back.  Again, $40 of the $240 would be the bubble's own money so he'd still be losing $40 on the deal.  I tried to point that out, but didn't want to be too aggressive about it since by this point it was very likely I was arguing on my own behalf, I was the most likely to be the bubble. I was hoping we could make it $50 each, that way the bubble would get his money back and have 10 bucks left over for a slice a pizza or something.  But no, that was too much.

So we settled for $40 each.  So I was going to get paid something, but all I was assured of was a $40 loss at worst. 

Back to poker.  I got pocket 10's and shoved.  No one called.  I was kind of hoping to run into someone with Ace-King or Ace-Queen.  I wouldn't have minded a race right there. But I just got the blinds.

Then, UTG+1, I got Ace-King and of course I put it all in. This time I did get called—by a guy with pocket Queens.  The board was all low cards and after the turn I had a gut-shot to a wheel.  Instead a paint card came out.  It wasn't a King.  Nope, it was a Queen. And I was done.

They gave me the envelope with the cash in it.  So, $240, a net loss of $40.  I dunno, I just feel when you pay the bubble you should pay him enough so he hasn't actually lost any money.  But it was better than losing everything


  1. Imagine not getting anything and being the bubble boy after playing 6+ hours. This is one circumstance where you could say that you cashed in a tournament but not really.

  2. WSOP used to pay less than buy ins long time ago. I am wondering it is considered "cashed" for "cashed x times in WSOP..."

    1. I dunno, but my assumption is that yes, it would count. But I wonder if they would deduct the actual loss from a person's lifetime winnings?

  3. I had the same experience in a tournament at Aria. It was a $140 tournament and when 6-handed the table decided to pay the bubble and agreed on $20 each. So I bought in for $140 and wound up with a net loss of $40. I had only played about 5 hours at the time, so it's better than walking away empty handed I guess.

    Didn't stay in my pocket long though. Left there and went across the street to Planet Hollywood and dumped a buy in on a Q-10-x board with Q-10 against Q-Q.

    1. Ugh, sorry about the PH hand. Yeah, I wish they would always figure out that if you're gonna pay the bubble, do it right and make him/her whole.