Sunday, October 15, 2017

Long Day's Tourney Into Night (Part 4)

This is the fourth and final chapter.  You can find part 3 here, part 2 here and part 1 here.

We pick up with the start of day 2....

I made it to the Venetian with plenty of time to spare.  The player on my immediate left, with a big stack, was an older gentleman.  And he was not at all an aggro—he was clearly not about to use his big stack to bully the table.  That was a break for me, to be sure.  He played rather nitty, but that didn't prevent him from busting out of the tournament before cashing.

The blinds for level 16 were 500/2K/4K and I had $126,500 chips.  Early on, from the button, I opened to $9K with Queen-10 off and didn't get a call.

After a limp, I raised to $11K with Ace-Queen off.  One call, the flop was Queen-Queen-x and I bet $20K and took the pot.

I opened to $11K with King-Jack off and got a call.  The flop was King-high, I bet $18K and took it.

Level 17 (500/2500/5000), $145K.  First hand of the level I was the big blind with King-10 off.  The big stack made it $11K and it folded to me.  I called.  The flop was Queen-9-x so I had a gut-shot, but after I checked, he bet big and I had to fold.

I opened to $11K with King-Jack and didn't get a call.

I opened to $11K with Ace-Queen and got three callers.  King-Queen-x flop, two spades and I checked.  A guy shoved and the rest of us folded.  The guy who shoved showed his cards—he had the nut flush draw.

It folded to me in the small blind with pocket 8's.  I put $15K on top of my blind and the big blind folded.

I think it was towards the end of level 17 that we got down to the bubble and had to go hand-for-hand, which of course is excruciating.  With 55 players left, of course there was no way everyone was going to agree to pay the bubble.  You can't get 55 people to agree that water is wet.  The way they did it was different then I've seen before.  Yes, it was one hand at a time, but what they did was instruct the dealers to stop the action at any table whenever there was an all-in and a call.  Then they had every other table finish their action before completing the action at the table where the player was all-in and at risk of busting.  I guess that makes sense, but it made the hand-for-hand go even slower.

Level 18 (1K/3K/6K), $118K.  Still hand-for-hand as the level began.  It took a long time, but finally the bubble did indeed break and we were all in the money.  We were all good for a $257profit (assuming you only bought one entry). 

Carol opened to $15K.  I shoved with pocket Jacks and took the pot.

Later I had pocket Queens.  A shorter stack shoved, I re-shoved.  No others came along.  The shorter stack had Ace-Jack and a Queen on the flop ended the suspense.

That got me to the first break of the day, time to eat lunch.  With 10-minutes to eat, my meal consisted of three energy bars. 

Level 19 (1K/4K/8K) $192K.  With Ace-King, I opened to $21K.  A short stack tanked, said, "OK, I gotta gamble," and shoved for $60K.  This guy had moved to the table after the table chip leader busted out and was on my immediate left.  He knew Carol, they were gently ribbing each other the entire time.   He was kind of a joker, and as soon as he announced "all-in" he stood up and shouted, "Seat open!" It was pretty funny.  Even though his "I gotta gamble" could be a misdirect and he could have Aces, I figured I had to call for only $40K more. But I was surprised when Carol called before it got to me after tanking for a long time.   Hmm...

Having played with her enough that I felt pretty sure she didn't have Aces or Kings. She would have likely shoved with those, seeing as how I was behind her and had raised first. I had never seen her slow play, and I recalled a comment she had made earlier about not slow playing   And I knew she figured I had a pretty good hand.  She had made comments about how I always had the goods whenever I had to show my cards.  And there was one thing I absolutely knew she didn't have—Ace-King.

Why did I know she didn't have Ace-King?  Because I had heard her comment probably half a dozen times when other people had played AK strongly, saying things like "Ace-King isn't god," "I don't know why everyone loves Ace-King, it's not that great a hand."  Or, let me say this.  If she did have Ace-King, she wouldn't call my shove.  So I shoved.

Back to Carol, she took forever to decide after getting a count of my chips (in the neighborhood of $190K).  She counted her chips and then counted how much she'd have left if she called and lost.  Finally she said, "I can't believe I'm doing this....I said I'd never do this...I don't believe in doing this....but there's too many chips already in there.  I have to call."  And she showed Ace-King!

Well the short stack was deliriously happy when Carol and I both turned over Ace-King as he turned over pocket 10's.  Carol and I were blocking each other, and his 10's were looking pretty good there, it wasn't just a race.  And by the way, when Carol called his bet, and when I shoved, both times he stood up again and shouted "Seat open!" This confused the tournament director a bit.

Carol said to me, "I can't believe you did that, Ace-King isn't that good."  Ahem....I thought my situation made more sense than hers did, but what do I know?

The board bricked out, Carol and I took back our bets (she had asked the dealer to bring in the $60K bets that made up the main pot) and the short stack had a triple up.  Get this:  As the short stack was stacking his chips, the player next to him said he folded the other two 10's.  He had no outs.  Lucky for him, he didn't need any.

I was down to about $100K and back in desperation mode.

Level 20 (1K/5K/10K), $80K. Once the bubble broke, players started busted out fairly rapidly.  I watched the clock and saw that number of players kept dropping.  I made it past the first pay jump and was guaranteed $650.  Somewhere along the line I made another pay jump and was guaranteed $717.  So I had managed to earn more than double my buy-in back!  That's what I wanted but that should have been the min-cash—not my possible reward for outlasting 18 players and making two pay jumps.

Meanwhile, just by posting blinds and antes, I was down to $50K, way past desperation time.  I really didn't get any hands to play for a long time.  By now my stack was so low it I would definitely shove with any Ace.  And I was about to post the big blind, they moved me to balance tables.  There were 32 players left and it was still quite a ways from the next pay jump.

I was the big blind at the new table and I had garbage and folded after one of the players made a standard raise.  But in the small blind, I had Ace-6 and figured this was it.  The same player made the same raise, there was a call, and I shoved.  Both of the other players called. 

Since they weren't all-in we didn't show our hands. I didn't see any 6's on the board which I figured is what I needed (I assumed one of them had a bigger Ace than mine).  There was no betting until a Jack hit the river and one of them bet, the other guy folded.  He had Ace-Jack and my tournament was ended. I played pretty close to 15 hours of poker over the two days and cashed for $717.

As I was driving back to my room, I had mixed emotions, and a lot of them were negative.  I was actually kind of mad that I had played so long, done so well, and received so little.  All because of the ridiculous pay scales they use.  I don't blame the Venetian, pretty much every poker room does the same thing, they make the min-cash too small, pay the top three finishers (relatively) too much.  It really gives me an incentive to never play another tournament.  And this is how I felt after cashing and making a $377 profit!  Imagine how I would have felt if I had bubbled?  Actually maybe not so bad because I know you can't get a decent payout if you don't cash.  But playing 15 hours of poker, over two days, being totally wiped out by it, outlasting 442 players, (out of 474), getting my ass there at eleven freaking o'clock in the morning for day 2—well I just felt like I should have gotten a better reward.

I will say this.  It definitely made me rethink playing multiple day tournaments.  I just don't see myself doing that again.  I mean seriously, I don't think I'm playing another two or more day tournament where there is no payout on day 1.  I just won't do it.  Well, I suppose if a main event seat were to magically fall into my hands, I'd play that, but otherwise, I don't think so.

That meant I decided right then and there that I wouldn't be playing in a very similar multiple day tournament the Venetian was running that weekend. Before arriving in Vegas, I was definitely leaning towards playing in it. It was a $250 tournament with day 1 flights on Friday and Saturday.  Day 2 Sunday.  But after my experience, I just wasn't interested in playing that much poker for so little reward.  Sure, I could always finish in the top 3, but that is such a long shot.  So I played a different tournament on Saturday, and that very happy story will be told in the near future.

On the other hand, I was very happy about the way things went, other than the payout.  I played against 474 players and finished 32nd.  That's damn impressive.  Remember, it had been a long time since I'd cashed in a tournament and I was beginning to have my doubts that I was any good at them.  But this result seems to suggest that I'm a decent tournament player after all.

Sure I got some luck.  I mean, until I wrote this up, I didn't even realize how many sets I hit.  I hope I haven't hit my lifetime supply by now.  And I got some luck in specific hands when I needed to.  But that's always the case when you run deep in a tournament. You have to win the flips.

But what was also nice that this was not some turbo I had cashed in.  This was a huge deepstack with a really great structure.  That makes it tougher to do well in.  I recall a few years ago when all the pros were saying how much they like the Monster Stack at the WSOP.  It attracts many recreational players who like the huge starting stack.  But the pros know that the big starting stack gives them a huge edge over the rec players—the longer the tournament structure plays out, the bigger the advantage for the pros over the amateurs.  Almost anyone can get lucky and do well in a $60 tournament that starts with 15-minute levels and $6K chips. This tournament was designed to favor the better players.

So. in the end, I really have to be happy with the result, and I'm proud of my play. And it did do wonders for confidence.  Just wish it had had a bigger income on my bankroll for the time invested.


  1. Glad you did so well - I think more people are attracted to the big money up top than a flatter structure so I disagree with your criticism or more accurately we have very different personal preferences.

    1. Thanks, Dan.

      Interesting. Of all the times I've whined about this, you're the first person to come back and say you disagree with me and prefer the top-heavy payouts.

      Even the President of PokerAtlas, who has a WSOP bracelet and was a long time poker pro, agrees with me.

      Agree to disagree.

    2. I'd think you might enjoy some of those survivor tournaments and they might suit your game?

    3. I played a few Survivor tournaments when the Venetian ran them regularly and they were ok (never cashed). I just don't think you have to go that can pay the min-cashers what they "deserve", still give the top 3 the most money, without making everyone equal.

  2. Great stuff Rob and great write up. Can’t wait to hear about the other more lucrative one!

    1. Thanks, Paul, glad you liked it.

      Yeah, I just need to find the time to write it up.

  3. Maybe if you got paid to blog "by the word" it would easy to angst of not getting the higher payouts?

    1. Well, since I don't get paid anything for all the work I put into this blog, anything would be nice.