Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Best Day of Poker To Date

This is the second part of my recap of my big tournament score.  It takes up right where part 1 left off, which you can find here.

At the start of level 8(100/600/1200), I was up to $47k.   Then came an interesting hand.  I limped in with pocket 6’s.  The lady on my immediate left, a regular I’ve played with a million times, shoved for about $9-$10k.  A guy called.  Another guy shoved for a lot more.  Probably around $25-$30 K.  I folded.  So did the guy who called the first shove.  The lady had Ace-King, the bigger stack had pocket 7’s.  The flop was K-6-5.  Yikes.  The Kings held up.  My set of 6’s would have been worth a huge pot.  But get this, the other guy, who called the first all-in but not the second, had pocket 5’s.  So it would have been set over set if we’d all stayed in.

Late in that level, I raised with pocket 9’s and didn’t get a call.

Started level 9 (200/800/1600) wit $44K, about an “M” of 10.  In late position, it folded to me with 8-9 clubs.  I bet $5k.  A woman (big blind) called.  The flop was K-Q-x, two clubs.  She led out with a $6K bet and I called.  A third club hit the turn.  She checked, I shoved, she tanked and folded. 

At level 10 (300/1000/2000), with about $53K, I got the dreaded pocket Kings.  It was raised to $4500 in front of me.  I three-bet to $15K and no one called.  The very next hand I had pocket 10’s and raised to $6K—no one called.

Level 11 (300/1200/2400), $60k.  I got pocket 10’s again, made a big raise, didn’t get a caller.  In the small blind, it folded to me and I limped in with 5-4 suited.  The big blind just checked.  The flop was Ace-5-4.  I checked, hoping for a check-raise, but he checked behind me.  I bet $3k on the turn, and he called.  I bet $6k on the river and he folded.

Level 12 (300/1500/3000), $70K.  Raised with Q-10 in late position, first in the pot, no callers. 

Start of level 13 (400/2000/4000), I had $67k—an “M” of around 7.  So I was getting pretty desperate. 

And then came the hand that made my tournament.  It occured soon after I stole the blinds with King-Jack offsuit.  Now having around $71K, I was in the big blind with 7-5 offsuit.  It folded to the big blind, who limped in.  The small blind just completed.  I got to see the flop for free.  Pretty unusual for this stage of a tournament.

The flop was 8-7-3.  Everyone checked.  The turn was a 5, giving me two pair but also making a straight very possible.  There were also two clubs on the board.  The lady in the small blind led out with a big bet, around $18-$20K.  Her stack was just a little bit less than mine.  Even though I knew my 2 pair wasn’t necessarily the best hand there, I went ahead and shoved.  I couldn’t imagine waiting for a better shot to pick up chips.  The button took forever to decide. He had me covered by quite a bit, so he wasn’t going to risk his tournament life by losing to me.  But he’d lose more than half his chips.

Finally he called and the lady snapped shoved for less than my bet.  She showed King-6 of clubs.  She had both the open-ended straight draw and the second nut flush draw. 

The button had 4-6 for a made straight!  What took him so long to call?  Huh?  I guess he was worried about someone having “big lick” (6-9) for a bigger straight.

It didn’t look good for me.  I was sitting right next to the dealer and softly said, “I just need a 5 or a 7.”  Now that never works right?  Except this time, it did.  Out came a beautiful 7.  Beautiful?  It was freakin’ gorgeous!

That was some nice triple up.

I started level 14 (500/3000/6000) with $225k.  No longer in shove-or-fold mode.  We were down to 19 players.  Eleven would be paid.  Top prize was $3,160.  Second place was $1,860.  Third was around $1.300.  The min cash was $230.

Then I went back to being totally card dead.  I didn’t really play a hand for awhile, I couldn’t  I didn’t even have the ability to raise with mediocre hands, it was always raised in front of me unless I had absolute crap.  Then too, as we were getting close to the money, I did start playing nitty tight.  It was going on 7-8 hours of play, and at that point, having something to show for it looks better and better.

So at level 16 (1500/5000/10000) I was down to $174K.  First in, I just shoved with pocket 9’s.  No callers.  Next hand, I raised to $30K with Ace-10 off, no callers.  Meanwhile, other players were busting out.  I got moved to balance tables and was suddenly playing with a bunch of players who were all new to me.  And we were down to 12 players.  Eleven got paid (There were over 100 players, not sure the exact count, but enough for the prize pool to be over the $10K guarantee).  We went hand-for-hand. So now is the point in this post where you either need to remember my story of the Bubble Bitch, or you can reread it here.  Because that will explain why the bubble wasn’t played and how the bubble lady reacted to that.

With Queen-10 of diamonds, first in, I raised to $35,000.  Only the lady who was not yet, but was soon to become, the Bubble Bitch, called.  On a 9-6-6 board (no diamonds), she led out with a big bet.  Since I had bupkis, it was an easy fold.

And soon thereafter she gave all her chips to the new chip leader, put us all in the money, and made the least gracious exit from a tournament that I can recall, as noted in that prior post.  Worst case scenario, I was going home with $230.

When the bubble broke, I probably was in the bottom third of the stacks, but not the short-stack.  But I just wasn’t getting a lot of cards to play, or any situations that I could exploit.

Meanwhile, the chip-leader, the guy who busted the bubble, was getting a lot attention and comments.  Part of it was due to the scene the bubble had made losing to him.  Part of it was do to this kid being so young.  He really didn’t look even 21.  He was wearing a wrist-band to prove it so he wouldn’t keep getting carded.  He was from England.  He was in Vegas to celebrate his 21st birthday.  In fact, he turned 21 after he arrived in Vegas a few days before .  Of course, in England you can not only play poker online easily, but you can also play in casinos at 18.  So he was a skilled player, despite his youth.  Let’s call him “Leeds.”

As I indicated, we couldn’t stop talking about the lady who busted. We kept going back to it.  And remember, the TD wouldn’t tell us who it was who had refused to pay the bubble.  She had accused Leeds of being that guy, something of course he refused to cop to. And then when Leeds was telling us that he was playing poker in England at 18, and online, one of the other players said, “So, do they not pay the bubble in England.”  Everyone, including Leeds, just cracked up.

Someone asked Leeds if he usually plays more against humans or computers.  He pointed out that when he plays on the computer, there’s always humans that are actually playing.

Level 17 (2000/6000/12000), I had $116K.  That was because of the blinds, antes and the money I lost raising to $35k pre and folding to the Bubble Bitch.    But I had a big score when I took out two short stacks with Ace-King.  I don’t recall who shoved first, but three of us were all in and I had the biggest stack, so I couldn’t get knocked out.  I was facing pocket Queens and pocket 9’s.  Two awesome Kings hit the flop.  Nothing else hit that mattered. 

That gave me $215K at the start of level 18 (2000/8000/16000).  Alas, my notes here don’t quite make sense.  They say I was down to $93k when this hand happened and I don’t have any notes on losing any big hands.  I know we were down to about 6-7 players at this point, but assuming I never played a hand, I’d be losing $38K per orbit.  It would take me over 3 orbits to lose all that without playing a hand.  I have to assume I lost some chips in a hand along the way that I didn’t write down.  Probably too busy talking to Mickey.

Anyway, a guy raised to $55K and I shoved with Ace-Jack.  It was $93K more for him to call and he tanked.  Finally, he called and tabled Ace-7.  The flop was Jack high, all hearts.  We both had a single heart, but I had the Ace.  It didn’t come into play and my Jack held up.  Later that level I shoved with Ace-9, first in, and didn’t get a call.

I just wrote a few more hands without a lot of detail.  By now we were down to 5 or 4 of us. I was never the smallest stack at the table but I was never more than one or two away from the smallest stack.  I shoved with 10/9, no caller.

I don’t have a lot of experience at the very end of the tournament, when there’s just 3,4,5 players left and you’re almost always a blind.  I tried to stay aggressive and shove/bet with almost anything that wasn’t pure crap.  I think we all did.  Leeds, the big stack, had taken a few hits and although he never lost his place as the leader, had a much smaller lead against us than he had a few levels earlier. I was on his left. This might have been when we were down to the final four.  Leeds, Liz, another guy and me.  I have to say that the nice thing was that everyone at the final table was incredibly friendly and very chatty.  We were having a great time and would always congratulate whoever took down a pot, even if it was only a bet that claimed the blinds and antes.  Liz was an especially charming, delightful woman.  And a good player.  She was on my immediately left and when given the opportunity, I shoved in the small blind against her time and time again.  I wasn’t going crazy there tho.  I always had hands that were semi-decent for the situation.  A few times I did indeed give her a walk and made a big deal out of letting her know I was doing that so she didn’t get the idea I was gonna shove every single time against her.

With just the four of us, it folded to Leeds who completed from the small blind and I just checked my King-9.  The flop was King-2-2.  He bet out and I shoved.  He folded.

I was the short stack when we had gotten down to four.  Until this next hand. Again, it folded to Leeds in the small blind.  This time, his stack diminished a bit, he shoved in front of me.  I snap-called with Ace-King. He had Ace-3, and missed the board.  That was a nice double up and a big loss for him.  I was now in third place in chips, and not all that behind Liz.

I don’t remember who the new short stack busted out to, but it wasn’t me.  But by the time it happened, my steals from the small blind had been successful enough to put me about even with Liz, or so I thought.  And that’s when Liz said, “You know, ordinarily I would talk about making a deal, but I don’t think he’d want to with his stack.”  She meant Leeds.

But Leeds said no, he’d be willing to talk numbers.  For one thing, it was after 1AM (we’d started at 2PM—11 hours of poker!).  For another thing, his big lead over everyone had diminished.  He had us both covered, but he didn’t have the two of us combined covered.  Either one of us could double up against him and cripple him.  And if either one of us had knocked the other out, we’d have been the chip leader.

I was guaranteed at least $1,300 or so and that sounded pretty good to me.  I was tired and also hungry.  All I’d eaten since around Noon was a couple of hot dogs I’d shoved down during the break.  I knew I was close to making a mistake due to hunger and/or fatigue.  We may have all felt that way.  Even Leeds, who was just barely 21 years old. 

We discussed a number of scenarios. I suggested a chip-chop (which I now had experience with from this tournament here)  and we had the TD come over and run some numbers, after we counted our stacks.  I don’t remember the numbers, but Leeds was well in the lead and Liz and I were very close, but I was a little surprised that I actually had a very small amount of chips more than Liz.

The chip-chop numbers were such that Liz and I would both get over $1,800 ($1,870 for me).  I think Leeds take was something $2,400.  Leeds asked for a little more. But it was very little more.  When we factored in his little bit more, I was still getting $1855 or so and Liz a little less.  I said that I’d be happy splitting second place with Liz evenly since we were so close, and we all agreed and shook hands and celebrated.  My final number $1,847, definitely the most I’d have won in a poker tournament, by far.  Also the most I’d ever won in any poker session.

We all got paid, and the TD at Binion’s who has seen me many, many times was curious about the blog, which he had heard Mickey go on and on about.  I gave him a card and also told him what his colleague knew, that I also work for AVP and Ante Up.  He said he used to be a regular reader of the AVP forums but stopped reading because of all the negativity surrounding a certain blogger who used to blog at that site.  I told him all that is gone and he should give it another try.  I also warned him that he’d recognize some of his Binion’s colleagues in my blog posts if he checked it out—albeit with phony names.  He said he was sure he’d be able to figure them out based on their behavior.  I laughed and said, “Yes that…and perhaps some physical descriptions.”

I also gave my card to Liz.  She was such a nice lady and I hope she’s checked out the blog and hasn’t been too shocked by it.  I did promise her I would eventually be posting about this tournament.  And now, finally, I have.  

It was after 1:30AM when I finally left Binion’s and headed back to my room.  Exhausted, happy, and with a nicely stuffed wallet.


  1. Hi I never post but read all the time. My mother's maiden name is Leeds, with her side actually coming to the US on the Mayflower. I fly a Leeds United soccer flag at my house too. Great reference and great write-up!

    1. Thanks, Anony!

      I knew I could eventually post something that would get you to comment! :)

  2. That's awesome Rob... :) Congratulations! Now you have to keep in mind that 7 5 filling up anytime that you suffer a bad beat. Hitting that 4-outer against a made straight was worth $1847 to you... ;) Also keep in mind that Queen-Ten is the "evil hand" (Coach Trademarked). It looks pretty (kind of, I guess), but be very, very careful with it... I got knocked out of two Sahara tournaments in the same night with it, thus the "evil hand" nick... And yeah, definitely let the notes slide when you're playing for so much. I usually remember the big hands so well (tourney or cash) that I can jot down notes when I'm away from the table. Don't let us loyal readers cost you $$$... ;)

    1. Thanks, Coach. For some reason, I NEVER remember all the suckouts I've been on the good end of when I get sucked out on. I wonder why that is? :)

      Sooner or later, they're ALL evil hands!

  3. Very gracious on the split with Liz. A bit of class goes a long way.

    Personally, I'm amazed you could understand anyone from Leeds. I have enough problems with Yorkshiremen and I'm from the UK :)

    Quick one for anon. Hold onto that Leeds flag, the way things are going for them currently, they may not be around too long !

    1. Lol, thanks Ben. Fortunately, Leeds was a lad of few words, and I was able to understand the few he spoke. I mean, it wasn't like watching the movie, "The Full Monty," which I should have watched at home with subtitles, as I only understand less than a third of the dialog.

  4. Grump's Notes Version: I won $1847 in a poker tournament at Binion's.

    1. That's not a blog post Grump. It's a tweet.