The Biggest Disaster of my Poker Career

January 29, 2018

But first, a poker tournament! It’s my favorite event: H.O.R.S.E.! Another $350 buy in so 10K stacks, 30 minute levels, and similar blind levels as everything else I’ve played so far. These are 8-handed tables again but my table starts with five of us. I recognize one of four opponents. He’s an older, respected local reg named Cyrus. I don’t know his last name so I couldn’t look up his stats but I’ve mostly seen him play tight-solid. Another player accidentally registers this tournament thinking it was no limit hold’em. The players try to give him an out but he’s ready to play even though he claims to have never played any of the Stud games (a claim we will soon discover has to be true).

Rather than list the blinds or betting limits, I’m just going to list the level when typing out hands to avoid confusion.

Notable Hands L1-L4

L1, first hand of tournament, LHE. One player limps, I have QTss in the small blind and decide to just call, an atypical line for me. Three of us see the 9s8s2 flop, I bet and get raised on the 6 turn and then check-fold when I miss everything on the river. A wonderful start to my event. It’s almost like yesterday never ended!

Punctual Pete sits down at the tail end of level one and we swap 10%, hoping one of us can find the magic touch sometime this trip.

So yeah, that guy wasn’t lying. He’s clueless in Razz. He calls raises with queens and jacks up and makes some really bizarre plays on later streets.

L2 Stud, a couple limps in front of me and I come along with KT-J looking to play pots against the noob. There is a queen dead but all my other useful cards are live. Cyrus pairs his bring in card on 4th, I catch a 3, and one of the limpers catches a second heart, but everybody checks. On 5th I pair my king, Cyrus catches a blank, and the player on my right catches a third open heart and bets. I find it hard to believe this player wouldn’t bet a four flush on 4th so I raise and get it heads up when he calls. He bricks 6th, I catch an ace and bet. He calls. I river aces up, value bet it and win showdown.

L3, Stud 8, I scoop with 2Qs-As4s4A-8, a pretty marginal starter but as I said I’m looking to play anything reasonable when the noob comes into the pot. Pretty good run out for me and no one made a low.

L3, Stud 8, crazy hand. I defend with 32-3 and immediately make two pair, but the opener pairs his queen. The noob is in with xx-5J and I decide to call on 4th even though it’s pretty suspect. The other two players brick on 5th and I catch a king (all live) and I think kings up will be good if I make it so I continue. The noob makes open fives on 6th and the other two of us catch total bricks. In fact, the other guy catches a 3 and the noob caught a 2 on 6th so I’m prepared to fold to a bet here but it checks around and… I catch the case 2! The noob leads on 7th and since my board looks like this xx-32K8-x I can’t imagine the other player will fold queens up if I raise, so I raise and only the noob calls and I scoop.

L3, LHE. Cyrus makes me rethink my image of him. I open UTG with TT and he calls on the button. Flop is 653 and he raises me. I’m not exactly sure what his range is here but I think it’s very pocket pair heavy. I don’t expect him to play hands like QJs or KQ this way and I don’t expect him to have hands like 87s here. I think I’m doing okay against his range but since I think I’m crushed or crushing most of the time, I decide to just call down and sell a hand like ace high. The board runs out 65369 and I check-call turn and river and let him own himself with 22.

L4, LHE. The noob opens UTG, I 3-bet with 88 from MP, and the small blind caps. Oh oh. We both call and my run good continues when the flop comes K86 rainbow. SB leads, noob raises, and I 3-bet, hoping SB has an AK or AA he can’t fold. But it’s QQ and he tosses it and the noob pays me off all the way.

After that hand I’m near my peak for the whole series around 27k or so.

L4, Omaha 8. Noob limps, I call 7664 from SB and three of us see the Q54 one club flop. I make a suspect lead and only the noob calls. Turn is pretty good: 3 of clubs. So I have the nut straight, a straight flush draw, and a bad low against a player that certainly might not have a low. I bet and he raises me. Well, I guess I call down now. River pairs the queen and I check-call and he shows… *are you ready for this*… T722 with no clubs. Try to digest that one. I’ve had 24 hours to think about it and I still can’t process it. And the sickest part? His ridiculous 72 low is exactly one notch better than my 76 and I’m forced to split the pot with this maniac. Yes, he’s been upgraded from mixed games noob to certified maniac.

L4, Omaha 8. My first real hiccup and it’s no surprise who my opponent is. One player limps and I limp along with Ac2cQ9. It’s three of us to the 995 two heart flop and the first limper bets. Since I have the backdoor nut low draw I just flat, hoping to keep the maniac in. He does call. Turn is an 8 and they both check-call. River is a jack and they both check-call me again. I have a bad feeling about it because I expect the loose player to show up with 87xx hands a lot and he does table J876, a hand I wouldn’t expect this guy to lay down on the flop for a raise. Oh well.

First Break: Dark Knight 23.4K, Peter 13.5K

Notable Hands L5-L7

2017 8-Game WSOP bracelet winner Ron Ware joins my table on his second bullet.

L5, Razz. Maniac opens with a 6 up and it folds to me. I defend with 53-Q. He catches a K, I catch a T and bet. He calls. He catches another K, I pair my 5, bet and he folds.

L5, Stud. I complete with J9-K. The highest up card behind me is an 8 and there are three of them! This is an obvious steal spot… with one problem: the maniac is the bring in. I’m in the spot I’ve wanted to avoid and find myself barreling with J9-K876 while he catches nothing but rags and keeps calling. Fortunately he finally finds a fold on 6th and I don’t have to torch a bet on 7th without looking.

Another superstar on his second bullet: three time WSOP bracelet winner and 2004 WSOP Player of the Year Jeff Madsen. Jeff has $5.27 million in career earnings, good enough for 117th on the all-time money list and he’s younger than me!

L6, Stud 8. A king up completes, I 3-bet A5-4, the bring in has a 3 up and caps it, and the king folds. On 4th he catches a jack and I catch an 8 and he check-calls. On 5th he catches a 2 and I catch a 7 and he check-calls again. On 6th, he makes open jacks and I pair my 4 and he bets into me. I’m tempted to raise here because I have a made low and a pair and it appears that he has either two pair or jacks with a low draw. I decide on call and he bets 7th dark. I catch a 3 to improve my low to 7543A but I can only win half so I just call and he catches perfect on 7th and makes A5-3J2J-6 to scoop me.

Unreal. Just bets dark and gets there, like nothing bad can happen on 7th street for him. I’m standing in line at Disneyland typing this but I’d be curious running an odds calculator and seeing how often we each scoop on river.

Some relatively funny Jeff Madsen notes. Bring in is 200 and level is 500/1000 and he tosses two 500s out as the bring in, making it obvious he is completing to 500, but no one – dealer included – is getting it. Dealer is trying to make it a 200 bet and it takes way too long for the situation to get corrected. A few hands later, he’s the bring in again and puts out a 500 chip without saying anything – a clear bet of 200 – and now the dealer is trying to make it 500! Finally he makes it to showdown in a Stud 8 hand and announces “aces and a 6” and his opponent thinks he is announcing “aces and sixes” and that his low is good for half and receives a mini-slow roll. At this point I feel it’s fair to ask this man, with over $5 million in lifetime cashes, if this is his first tournament.

Jeff wasn’t a very gracious loser but he definitely had an A+ sense of humor.

L7, LHE. Maniac opens, I 3-bet AQ and one of the blinds caps it, almost all in. We both call and then call his remaining chips and check down on the J9897 run out. The blind has KQ and the maniac has 33. This is a pretty critical pot and the end result makes me wonder if I played it optimally. I don’t necessarily care about eliminating players at this point, but I don’t really see how I can justify raising or betting my hand on this board texture in a dry side pot. Plus, I don’t know that this player is capable of folding 33 here anyway.

Second Break: Dark Knight 16.3K, Peter 7K

I thought that Stud 8 hand where dude bet dark and scooped me was pretty bad but Peeved Pete has a much better story to tell me on break.

Last hand of O8 Peter has A2TT with a suited ace in diamonds. Peter opens, button calls, small blind goes all in. The board runs out JT3d4dJd and Peter bets the whole way. He’s made tens full of jacks (and the nut flush) and scoops the side pot. The small blind flashes two fours and mucks his hand but since he was all in the dealer makes him show his whole hand and… he has a dangling jack for… jacks full of fours and scoops the main pot. Unreal!

Notable Hands L8-L11

L8, a Razz hand where we kind of lose our minds. Jeff Madsen completes with a queen up and I’m next with 65-J. There’s a 5 and 9 up left to act. I go into the tank and eventually call but I think I should have raised. I was getting a fold tell from the 5 and obvious disinterest from the 9, so I figured it would be heads up anyway. Wrong. The 5 up 3-bets, the 9 folds, and the bring in calls three bets with a king! Jeff apologizes to me for costing us both an extra 800. Then we both catch paint on 4th street and exit stage right.

I get two more playable Razz hands and continue to catch paint while my opponents improve. Then I get the bring in twice in a row and just like that I’m below starting stack.

L8, Stud. I open 6h2h-Jh and I get two customers, including the maniac. I brick hard on 4th, catching a black 4 and one of my opponents catches a suited card with his Qs. We all check to 7th street and my board runs out 6h2h-Jh456-2. I never catch any additional hearts and on 7th one of my opponents bets. His board was scary enough to bet and win the pot as early as 4th street and even though he’s caught some good scare cards, all he’s done is check. I decide to pay him off and he shows me queens and sevens with a board that probably developed like this: 77-Qs9sXTs-Q. How he didn’t bet this board earlier, I don’t know.

Third Break: Dark Knight 6700, Peter 7k

I start L9 with 6 bigs.

Stud 8, I go with AQ-5 two spades. The maniac is in and one other opponent:

Me: AQ-5KAx-9

Maniac: xx-3KTx-dead

V2: has four low cards and four diamonds on 6th and catches an offsuit ace for the low.

I’m up to 8400.

I see Peter walking around shaking his head in disbelief. He’s out.

L10, LHE. UTG is all in for 1800 @ 600/1200, four players call, I call with KTcc in the small blind and the big comes along. The flop is 886 with one club and I check-call the maniac and three live players see the turn. These are precious chips but this pot is massive. Good news: I spike a ten, lead out, both live players fold and I hold against the all in’s A3 and find myself with over 20k again.

I split an O8 pot with Jeff Madsen where we both limped along from late position. I have 6532dd on A63d9d6 for a full house and the second nut low but Jeff has the 8542 for half.

L10, brutal O8 hand. UTG limps and I raise in LP with AQ52, suited ace. Flop comes 665 rainbow and UTG check-raises me. I call. Turn is a queen and I resist the urge to raise. River is a 7 and again I resist the urge. I felt like this player had a 6 and I didn’t see much profit in raising. He did have a 6 – an A642 to be exact and I got quartered.

L11, Razz. I start this hand with enough to raise third and bet every street until I was all in on 7th. Here’s how the boards developed:

Me: J3-6928-3

Villain: xx-7992-x

I thought this hand was over on 5th. It looked like I probably had a 96 made and he was still drawing… to a 97! I guess once he makes the 97 on 6th he’s never folding but I only pretended to look at my card on 7th and I had over 90% of my stack in already. There were about 35 left at this point and I was super frustrated with myself for torching my stack starting a Razz hand with a jack. I think it’s fine and I should have gotten it through on 5th, but I also could just have easily folded and not even play the pot. Instead, I was busted and too annoyed to play cash games, so I called it a night.

The next day my plan was to play $400 max buy PLO with $1/$2 blinds until the T.O.E. tournament at 5 PM. That got off to a great start. I 3-bet AKK3 double suited to $65 and two players called. Flop was Q42 rainbow and that was good enough for me to commit. I got it all in against KQJJ and found a way to get stacked when he turned a queen.

I did get some back when I got all in three ways on 763 rainbow vs 54xx and a wrap and rivered a boat, but I still finished the session at -$272.

I did a $100 last longer bet for the T.O.E. with Peter, Jesus, and Mr. Sandman. I didn’t take notes for this, but I busted far from the money. Jesus won the last longer and the entire tournament for over $7K and a Remington trophy. Congrats man!

I was already having a miserable trip, but it was about to get worse. These guys were telling me that I absolutely need to be playing in the $40/$80. The argument is that it makes no sense to play $30/$60 against mostly competent players and not play $40/$80 against idiots. I don’t disagree with that logic and I really want to play but I’m also a bankroll nit and I can’t pretend like I’m properly rolled for $40/$80 as a full time player.

But I can take a shot! I decided to sit down with $4k and gave myself a stop-loss of $2000 – and then I hit that mark (and then some) in less than two hours. I was pretty devastated. I don’t do stop-losses but I also never take shots. It just seems terrible to lose a couple racks and give up. It happens all the time at my normal stakes. But I stuck to my plan and quit after I was down $2000, a decision made easier because I was steaming out of my mind. I won the first pot I played and that was the last significant pot I won. And then when I was already down about $1500 the dealer said one of my cards was exposed (and not one person was looking at anything besides their phones) and made me turn in an ace. I got KJ of clubs instead and lost a decent pot I would have won with the ace that nobody saw. Super annoying. I didn’t even know what my “exposed” card was when I was protesting, it just seemed stupid to replace a card that only the dealer saw and, of course, it cost me a pot when I needed one badly.

Instead, I ended up cashing out with my third biggest single session loss of all-time, a solid exclamation point to an already ugly trip. I didn’t feel like playing the next day and went to Disneyland instead.

Final LAPC trip stats:

Tournaments: -$2200 (0-6)

Cash Games: -$1834

Overall: -$4034

And this is what my January graph looks like now:

Note: I’m down $4700 for January, which would be my all-time worst month if it ended after my trip. Not sure why the graph tails off well past -$6k. It’s bad, but not quite that bad! (Edit: I just realized why it looks that way. I was in a pending $15/$30 session for $2000).

I took 2nd in the PLO-Medium tournament in the Grizzly Games on Global Poker last night for +$634 and that’s not included in the above graph. And perhaps I had worse months when I was still drinking, but as far as I’m concerned my poker career didn’t start until I quit drinking.

One comment

  1. so brutal. some day you’ll look back at this as a tiny blip on the graph though.

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