Posts Tagged ‘chips casino’

h1

August 2011 Gambling Results

August 31, 2011

Ugh. What a gross month. I topped it off with another miserable live session. In the interest of keeping my 9 month winning streak alive, I’m deciding to take tonight off, barely in the black.

I’m feeling a little depressed lately and middling gambling results aren’t helping out my mood much. Not only did I barely show a profit this month, but I had a pretty disastrous month financially as well. I moved into a new place and, long story short, my bankroll is about $1600 short right now. I took over a lease for someone and trusted them to pay the rent and deposit for me and for whatever reason, he couldn’t pay it (even though I handed him cash) and now owes me around $1500 (and another person owes me $120 for Kanye West & Jay-Z tickets). Oh, and Full Tilt still owes me $1600. Also, I blew my August budget by about $400 (the cost of moving and having no furniture). A frustrating situation under any circumstance, but exponentially more so since my month of September is built around jumping up in stakes. I requested five days off (that I normally work) this upcoming month to play juicy $8-$16 games and I’m playing a $300 No Limit tournament at Muckleshoot on September 9th. Fortunately, I have a backer… which is nice if I lose money, but kind of sucks if I win. Either way, the backing situation makes it a lot safer to play higher limits when half my bankroll is not in my possession.

I don’t know how I feel about my play this past month. I beat up the $8-$16 game both times I played it and I finally held my own at the $3-$6 level, but I couldn’t beat $4-$8 to save my life… a game I’ve been CRUSHING for two months straight. Perhaps it’s just variance, but I think my biggest leak nowadays is dealing with Run Bad, and on multiple occasions I turned somewhat bad sessions into disastrous ones. Or maybe I’m just burned out. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that I do NOT have fun playing poker when I’m losing. That’s not a good trait for someone that’s hoping to play this game for a living someday. It’s not always peaches and cream… and I know that… but still.

Perhaps I need to approach my every day game like I’m playing $8-$16 because when I was playing that higher limit, my starting requirements were much tighter and I really felt like I played mostly mistake free poker. God only knows I’m not above a $4-$8 game so there’s no reason to start playing like I am. I kind of feel like I’m falling into the same trap I’ve been stuck in before: I can play weaker hands because I’m better than these people. While the second part of that statement may be true, the first part isn’t. I think it’s time to hit the books again and get my mind right because there’s no reason I should be consistently losing at $4-$8, even for just a month.

To add to my depression, my day job has me at my wit’s end. It pays my bills, but I can’t say it’s even remotely what I want to be doing with my time. I have no interest in the food service industry, but my hourly income would be pretty hard to match elsewhere. I enjoy writing, but there’s not much money in that, especially when you barely have a foot in the door. Other than that, I have no idea what else I want to do. Except play poker… which is why this past month has been so discouraging. After two months where I brought in $4400 gambling, my bankroll was rising rapidly and I was more than a third of the way to the point where I feel I could quit my job. Now… I’m looking at this $3000 I have and realize my date with destiny is so much further away than I want it to be.

August Results (YTD in parentheses):

Overall Gambling: +$191 (+$4261.36)
Poker: +$295 (+$4418.36)
Live: +$355 (+$4543.30)
House Games: -$60 (+$298.70)
Pit: -$89 (-$55)
Sports Betting: -$10 (-$122)
Other Bets: -$5 (+$20)

$3-$6: +$41 (-$505)
$4-$8: -$903 (+$1321)
$8-$16: +$643 (+$643)
NL: $0 (+$503)

Live Tournaments: +$367 (+$1536)

h1

Check-Raise: My Journey From Spewy Amateur To Poker Professional – March 2011

March 31, 2011

It’s no secret that I fancy myself a poker player. I’ve been dabbling in the hobby for years now. Those of you that are familiar with my story know that I went on an insanely hot and extended run early in my poker career way back in 2005. I played my first hand of Texas Hold Em in August of 2004 and by June of 2005 I had a bankroll of $25,000. I was good, sure. I studied the game extensively, reading any book I could get my hand on and I thought about poker day and night, even when I was away from the tables. More importantly, I was absurdly lucky. I was making all sorts of mistakes when it comes to sustaining a bankroll. I’d move up two levels within the same session and happened to go on an upswing that lasted for three months through every level I tried. I wasn’t rolled for the levels I was playing, but it didn’t matter because I wasn’t losing. So when I did start to go through the inevitable downswings, I couldn’t afford them at the levels I was playing at and soon found myself struggling to get by financially. That was pretty problematic since I’d already quit my job and dropped out of the University Of Washington. Why bother going to class when I could be making $100 an hour gambling online? It was a fair question and even if my degree was within arm’s reach, what good was a college diploma going to do me if I was playing cards for a living? Needless to say, my early run of success completely blinded me as a poker player and practically ruined my life. Six years later, I’m still recovering from some of the damage I caused myself.

But poker never left me. Throughout the years, I’ve had a lot of minor successes. I’ve always been a good tournament player and every once in a while I’ll pull off a huge, life-saving cash in a big tournament. Then I’ll be rolled for a couple months until I blow it all back in cash games. This has pretty much been my poker career since my year as a moronic “pro.”

Yet, for some reason, I’ve always thought of myself as a good player… but that’s total bullshit. Whatever minor successes I may have had playing cards over the past five years has been completely negated by my alcoholism or severe leaks in my poker game. I might deposit $50 online and grind my way to a $600 bankroll, go out for drinks one night, come home plastered, wake up the next day, log on to my poker account and see my balance sitting at $0. This happened on several occassions. Why can’t they make an interlock system for computers?! I would have saved thousands over the years. With alcohol mostly out of my life for the past three years (I relapsed for about 8 months), I can no longer blame drunkenness for my inability to maintain a bankroll. I have roughly three years of sobriety since January 2008, but I’ve been a consistent loser during that time. I might have a month or two of profit here and there, but I recently purchased some online tracking software and my cash game results over the past couple years are alarming. They are terrible.

So with all this in mind, I made a vow to myself that in 2011 I would make money gambling. I don’t care how much I win, I just don’t want to be a loser anymore. I’ll save my goal to be a professional for 2013. Right now, I just want to slowly turn this ship around. So far, so good.

First off, let me make a disclaimer. For absurd reasons, gambling online in Washington is illegal. The sites I play on enforce this law. I will be making references to my “online” results frequently in my blog posts. THESE RESULTS SHOULD NOT BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY. ALL ONLINE RESULTS I POST ARE EITHER A FIGMENT OF MY IMAGINATION OR FOR PLAY CHIPS ONLINE. I INCLUDE THEM WITH MY OVERALL RESULTS BECAUSE… UHHH…. IT MAKES ME FEEL GOOD.

I have tracked my results sporatically for years now, but I’ll usually lose interest when I start to go through a rough patch or I don’t like what I’m seeing anymore. I can’t say I have a lot of big losing months saved on my computer anywhere… but most of my really good months can be easily located. This year, I decided it’s best to be honest with myself. Starting in January, I’ve tracked every single aspect of gambling that I’ve done: from “online” gambling, live cash games, local tournaments, house games to pit games, sports betting, and personal wagers. If I bet someone $5 that they can’t eat a certain jalepeno pepper, I’m logging that bet somewhere. I know EXACTLY how well I’ve done since the start of 2011 and my results are promising.

I’m currently on a four month winning stretch that started with a +$528 month in December. Here are my 2011 results:

January: +$71.91
February: +$212.68
March: +$129.16

Total: +$413.75 (+$941.75 including December)

Pretty modest numbers, but mission accomplished so far. I’m making money gambling, consistently. Even so, those results are disappointing if we do a little more number crunching. Here are some other notable facts:

*I’m up $792 in live tournaments in 2011. I’ve played 16 tournaments and cashed in 7 of them for a 44% in the money rate. Even more ridiculous, I’ve finished in the top three 6 of the 7 times I’ve cashed and I have 3 wins. I’m destroying live tournaments.

*I’m up $666.45 in online tournaments in 2011. I’ve cashed in 60 of 361 tournaments I’ve played (16.6%). My biggest cash is for $360, so I’m yet to get that huge score I’m anxiously waiting for. I’ve done well in online tournaments for the year, but I’ve had some incredibly bad luck so far. I usually have something absurd happen to me in the very late stages of big money tournaments.

*I’ve made $474.14 in rakeback in 2011. Rakeback is a feature offered on some poker sites. Every pot you play gets raked and Full Tilt Poker offers 27% rakeback, so once a week, I get a depost into my account for rakeback.

*Between tournaments, rakeback, and live cash games (~+$179), I’ve made about $2110… yet I’m showing a mere $400 profit for the year.

The conclusion: When it comes to online cash games, I AM THE WORST PLAYER ALIVE. To be specific, I’m down roughly $1500 playing cash games online and I’ve spent most of March trying to figure out what exactly I’m doing wrong. I started reading my fixed limit books again and I tried to focus on playing one limit only: $0.50-$1… and I had success. I showed an $83.85 profit at that limit for the month of March. Unfortunately, I didn’t start this plan until the 4th of the month and I’d already done severe damage to my bankroll by then. I also strayed away from my plan later in the month. For instance, tonight I decided to play one table of $2-$4 and got unlucky on back-to-back hands in my first orbit. A crushing start to a game I shouldn’t even be playing. Of course, I tilted after that and blew 100 big bets of my current limit before I swallowed my pride and left the table. In 40 minutes, I lost more money in one session of $2-$4 than I made all month grinding it out at $0.50-$1. It’s these kinds of scenarios that have kept me from sustained success: poor bankroll decisions, playing too many tables, steaming/tilting when I get unlucky, chasing losses, and running absurdly poorly when I do take a chance. Even though I was more restrained in March than I’ve ever been–78% of the hands I played were at the $0.50-$1 fixed limit level–I still managed to show a big loss in online cash games. In the 22% of hands I played outside my preferred limit I lost $663. Talk about a painful lesson in bankroll management… but at least I’m making sure I see it… and I proved I could make a profit if I stick to my guns and play the limits I should be playing.

A third of the way through 2011, I feel decent about my chances to be a successful poker player. I’ve shown a tremendous flair for winning tournaments, both online and live, and revisiting some poker literature really helped my live cash game out this month. I had a rough patch the past couple days that turned a great month into a merely good one, but I see good things ahead in that respect. I still feel like I’m swimming upstream, fighting my inability to win playing cash games online. Despite all the success I’ve had, my profit margin is small and I can blame it entirely on getting destroyed in online cash games… but it’s a leak I’m working and my big goal for April 2011 is to a show a profit in the online games. If I can turn that around for good, my modest profits will start to turn into substantial ones and I’ll be well on my way to achieving my 2013 goal.

Other notes:

*I’m up $13.70 in house games… playing for change with my dad, my brother and his friend.

*I’m stuck $25 in the pit (all from BlackJack) year-to-date. I avoid The Pit like The Plague, but Chips Casino in Bremerton offers a $5 and $10 Match Play on Wednesdays and turns a few hands of BlackJack into highly profitable bets. Unfortunately, I fall for the trick and keep playing after using my coupons. Stupid.

*I lost $122 on the NCAA tournament this year. RAPED.

h1

3/14/09 – Bremerton Lanes AM Poker Tournament

March 14, 2010

Wow. I haven’t been this annoyed in a live tournament for a while. I made note of all the pots I played. I’ll let the hands do the talking:

blinds 25-50, UTG raises to 200, one player calls, I look down at QQ. I sometimes like to play QQ conservatively preflop, but I sensed a bit of weakness here and decided to make it 875 to go. The UTG raiser called and the other player folded and we saw a Q54, two spade flop HU. He checks to me. Its hard to make money on this kind of board given his hand range (AK, AQ, small pair). I could give a free card here and see if he can catch up a bit on the turn, but I decide to bet 625 and hope he has AQ or TT and gives me a little action. If he has a set, the money will get in eventually no matter what I do. He folds though and I thought about how I could have played this flop differently for quite a while… Oh well, +1125 on the first hand of the tournament is just fine.

blinds 25-50, several people limp, and the button makes it 250 to go. I have 77 in the small blind and decide to call since I expect most of the limpers to come with me making it worth it to try and flop a set. They all do call and the flop comes 954. Not too bad of a flop for me, but I’m out of position against several players including one I suspect has an overpair, so I just check. One of the limpers bets 200 and the preflop raiser makes it 600 to go. I fold.

blinds 50-100, I raise in EP with AK to 250. One person calls me, next guy goes all-in for 900 and the SB shoves for 1825. Folds back to me. Folding seems wise.. but if I call and lose, I’ll have 2500 left which is plenty of chips to play with at this level, so I decide to gamble and try to build a big stack. They show QQ and JJ and I spike a King on the flop to build my stack up to 7700.

blinds 75-150, one tight-passive player limps UTG, folds to me OTB with 9s7s and I make it 425 to go. Small blind calls and the limper folds and we see a K83 flop HU. He checks to me and I check out his stack size. He has about 1300 left. Since I missed the flop completely, I decide to make a feeler bet of 350 and if he calls or raises, my following decisions will be easy. He folds though and I’m up over 8000 in chips.

blinds 75-150, a solid player UTG makes it 500 to go. I look down at QQ. I get a stack count from my opponent and he’s got about 3000 left, so I decide calling is best here. Someone floats behind me and we got 3-way action to a J93 flop. UTG shoves the rest of his stack in and I go in the tank. He just bet 3275 into a pot that has about 1700 in it. Before the flop, he asked me if I had Kings jokingly and then when I just called he said “wooo.. you scared me there.” I think he’s a pretty solid player and my instincts were strongly saying to fold here. I counted down my stack and I’d have over 4000 left if I call and lose. I felt a lot of strength from him and that he had a pretty good idea of what I had, plus his comments before the flop kind of indicated strength too. That being said, it seems like an easy fold in retrospect, but I decided to call just in case my read was wrong and because my stack would still be in solid shape if I lost. He showed Kings and wins the pot. Some people might think this is bad luck or a cooler, but I honestly think I should have and could have folded the hand. This is simply poor play on my part.

blinds 75-150 and I open to 450 with AK. One loose, bad player calls me OTB and we see a JJ2 flop HU. I decide to check the flop and see what he does, expecting him to check a large percentage of the time. He does check and the turn card comes with an ugly T. I decide to check again since a lot of hands he could have might call me now and I’m technically still drawing and I think he’ll check if I still have him beat. River is a 5 and I have no reason to bet for value or try to bluff him off the best hand here. I check and hope my hand is good. It’s not… he has A5 and scoops the pot. I was mad at myself after this one.

blinds 100-200 and here comes the most obnoxious hand I’ve been a participant of in a while. Two loose, bad players limp in and I look down at TT OTB. I decide to make a hefty raise to 1100 and I’m pretty shocked when both blinds call as well as both of the limpers. I’m really hoping for a ten on the flop or a board with undercards and I get my wish when it comes 985. The SB only has 100 left and puts it in. The BB makes it 1500 to go and appears all in. One of the limpers (my opponent from the last hand) puts in his remaining 2000, but looks weak. Back to me… I could fold here, but I really don’t feel like I’m beat at all, so I call. Then I’m annoyed when I discover the BB still has chips left when he puts in another 500 to call. He has another 500 behind and the extra 1000 was hiding in his palm. Thanks, man. Don’t worry, your stack size doesn’t affect anyone else’s decisions, you idiot. The turn comes a brutal 7 and the SB puts in his last 500. I call and we flip over our hands: K7 in the SB, QJ in the BB, and…. 96 from the limper. Are you kidding me? Calls a 5.5xBB raise preflop, puts in 2000 on the flop and spikes his fucking hand? Jesus. I do have an open-ended straight draw, but I come up short on the river and 96 scoops a 8500 pot and I get 1000 back. Now I’m pissed and down to 3100 chips when I should have a monster stack.

blinds raise to 200-400 and I fold my BB and SB and I’m down to 2500.

blinds 200-400 and folds to me OTB. I’d probably push with anything here, but A8 is like the nuts for me, so I shove and scoop the blinds.

blinds 200-400, two weaker players limp in and I look down at Ad5d with 3100. I push it all in since I need to pick up chips and expect to win the pot uncontested a large percentage of the time as long as no one behind me wakes up with a hand. Everyone behind me folds but the second limper surprisingly calls and shows me a gross-looking KJos. The way the tournament has gone so far, I’m 95% sure I’m going to lose the pot, but the flop comes favorable enough showing 843, keeping me in the lead, but the turn peels off a jack and I brick the river and get sent home.

I continue to run horribly in this tournament. I’m hoping that my luck can turn in the next couple weeks before I have to take a 3 month hiatus to finish my degree at The University Of Washington. I don’t want to take my break while I’m still in the red in a tournament I should be beating. Ugh.

h1

Bremerton Lanes Daily 11:00 AM Poker Tournament

January 26, 2010

It’s well known that poker room managers like to start their business day with a fast-paced, short stack no limit texas hold em tournament in the hopes that it gets customers in the door that will later provide the (much more profitable) rake in the live games. It’s a reasonable concept because these tournaments attract players and any degenerate gambler with the adequate funds is going to stick around to play live. However, these turbo tournaments are the bane of any self-respecting poker player that’s worth a damn because the blinds often go up rapidly, the starting stacks aren’t deep, and the cost of playing doubles each round. This usually makes it a race against the blinds and it’s not unusual to find yourself making the final table with the chip lead and still feeling like you need to make a move before the blinds swallow your stack. This rapid structure greatly reduces the skill factor involved and the money bubble often consists of a bunch of desperation all-in moves and cashes are mostly determined by whoever luck is shining upon that day.

That’s not to say there’s NO skill involved. I think it’s correct to gamble early on in these tournaments, while the blinds are still small, and hope to build a big enough stack to weather the huge blinds that are in the near future. If you’re only playing top hands early on, you’re going to find yourself short stacked in no time unless you run into some favorable situations with those hands.

It’s also important to know your opponents, their tendencies, and whether or not they are adjusting their play properly to the structure. For instance, at a full table, with the blinds at 300-600, a good, smart player with 4800 opens on the button to 1100. You are in the small blind with 1800 behind, holding AT. In my opinion, this is a great situation for your hand and a clear shove. You’re getting called 100% of the time, but that’s okay since you assume the smart player knows he has to pick up dead money to keep his stack afloat and is capable of raising a wide range of hands in this spot, so your AT figures to be ahead of the majority of his range.

In contrast, let’s say the blinds are the same, your opponent’s stack and raise sizes are the same, only this time he’s a known nit raising from early position. You’re still in the small blind with the same stack and hand as before and everybody folds to you. This is a very different situation even though it’s nearly identical. Against this opponent, especially considering his poor position, your AT doesn’t match up nearly as well against his range. You should almost never expect to be ahead in this spot because he’s usually going to have a big pair or a hand that has you dominated. A nit simply isn’t going to mix it up or risk a hefty percentage of his stack on a blind steal. There is a small chance he could be holding a hand like 88 or KQ in that spot, and you probably wanna ship it against those hands, but I’d estimate those medium pairs and KQ represent the very bottom of his range and you can find a better spot to get your money in. So yeah, there is still skill involved and adjusting your play to your circumstances and opponents can increase your win rate… but ultimately, if you make the top 5-6 spots, the blinds are going to be so big you’re going to be shoving with almost any hand you get involved in… which means, you gotta hit the board better than your opponents in the end game; there’s no outplaying them after the flop.

Anyways, enough with the lessons and on to the Bremerton Lanes tournament. I’ve lived on the east side of Bremerton for the past three years, so I’ve been playing in the absolutely terrible tournaments at All-Star Lanes and Chips Casino. Chips was the closest to my house, but it’s also host to the worst tournament I’ve ever played in. The blinds always double, the levels are super fast, the fields are small, and the starting stacks are mediocre at best. The luck factor is in full affect at Chips. On top of all that, they almost never had enough people stay for a live game after. I hated playing there, but it was the most convenient tournament for me to play in and I did relatively decent in it. On the plus side, Chips is the only casino that doesn’t charge a tournament fee and the blinds do start extremely small at 10-20… but an hour later, when you’re at the 800-1600 level, it’s pretty irrelevant.

I moved to West Bremerton a couple months ago and finally made my way into Bremerton Lanes today. I figured it would be just like every other local tournament, which explains why I wasn’t in a rush to play in it. My first surprise was the quality of the chips you play with. They were clay, heavy, and dope… like in the bigger live tournaments I’ve played in; not like the cheap plastic chips that All-Star and Chips use. Not a big deal, but impressive nonetheless.

I can’t exactly remember what the starting stacks were (I’ll note it tomorrow), but they were a good size in relation to the first level of blinds. It seemed like the first round lasted forever. I’m pretty sure they were using 15 minute rounds, which is about 20-40% more play each level than the other local tournaments. Give Bremerton Lanes a huge point.

The blinds doubled after the initial 25-50 level, which is standard, but I was SHOCKED when they announced a 75-150 level after 50-100. Holy shit! The starting stack size is solid, the levels are longer, AND they stagger the blind levels? From 100-200 to 200-400 to… 300-600?! Are you kidding me? Don’t they have a live game to start? I was in heaven.

Unfortunately, despite playing what I thought was perfect poker, I busted out in about 13th place. My key hands throughout the tournament:

Key Hand #1 – blinds are 25-50 in the first round and I still roughly have my starting stack. I’m in the small blind with Q9o. 4-5 people limp into the pot and I complete in the small blind. The big blind makes a stupid raise to 150, a move that clearly isn’t going to knock anybody out of the pot. I don’t know what he had, but the only hands you’d wanna make a play like that with are big suited cards or a small pair with the intention of creating a large pot and hoping to flop huge and get paid off. Hands like AK, AQ, AA-TT need to be raised a hefty amount in order to weed out the garbage and see who really wants to play. Anyways, everyone obviously calls the raise and even though my hand isn’t good, the odds I’m getting are ridiculous and I’m not going to get involved unless I hit the board in a big way or the betting is super weak. The flop comes QQJ. Gin! Most people would check in this spot first to act, but what are they trying to accomplish? Are you checking to see how heavy the action gets before it gets back to you? No matter how heavy it gets, are you really going to fold your trips? If you check and call a reasonable sized bet, even your most unobservant opponents are going to be wary of you holding a queen and, unless they have you beat, you’re going to need to bet the hand yourself on the turn if you want any more money going in the pot. You could always check-raise the flop and that’s not a bad play. There’s definitely some cards you don’t wanna see roll off on the turn (aces, eights, kings, and tens aren’t great cards for you). However, this usually has the effect of ending the pot immediately and your hand is strong enough to take a little action. Since I like to build the pot when I got a big hand, I decided to lead into everyone for 300. Not exactly a hand-defining bet and just funky enough that it’s going to be hard for anyone to put me on a queen leading out into everyone. Unfortunately, I only get one customer and we see a 9 on the turn. Perfect card. If I had kicker problems, I don’t anymore and the only hand that can beat me is QJ. Also, if dude was drawing with KT, he just made the nut straight and I’m probably going to stack him. I decide to check it to further confuse him in case he’s holding a J and if he does have KT, we’re going to get it all in here anyways. He checks behind me. Lame. River is a blank and I decide 700 is a pretty good bet amount for a J to pay off. He quickly calls and I scoop against his AJ. In retrospect, knowing this player very well, I could have bet more on the river and probably gotten called. I’ve seen him make some ridiculously bad calls in the past. Regardless, I’m off to a nice start and raked in a very nice sized pot.

Key Hand #2 – blinds are 50-100. I still have a very good stack and have picked up a couple small pots since my last key hand. The player UTG raises to 300 and everybody folds to my big blind. I look down at AcKc. This is kind of a tough spot in my opinion. Since we have pretty deep stacks, a re-raise isn’t exactly automatic. If I re-pop him and he ships it, I’m going to be sick. I really don’t want to get it in with a drawing hand this early in the tournament when I’ve built myself a nice stack and I’m completely confident in outmaneuvering my opponents post-flop. I opted to just call and see what developed. My hand strength was certainly disguised, another advantage to just calling. The flop comes K63 rainbow. I check and he bets 450. Unless he has AA or flopped a set, I’m in great shape. Since an ace helps me, he’s almost surely drawing to two outs or some kind of running miracle. I decide to throw him some rope and just call. The turn card is a J, putting two hearts on the board. I probably should have bet here since a flush draw is now present and he could check and hit a miracle straight, but I decided to check because I was curious to see what he would do. He bet 500. A pretty weak bet after the flop action. I decided it was time to take the pot down. I raised to 1600, enough to let him know I was priced in if he decided to ship it… and that’s immediately what he did. I knew I was up against three jacks before he even flipped them over. Time to rebuild.

Key hand #3 – Not able to find any good situations for a while, I’m in the big blind for 200 and about 1900 behind. Everybody folds to the button, who pops it to 600. The small blind folds and I look down to find two aces. I think just long enough to make sure he’s not folding anything that isn’t pure garbage and ship it in. He immediately calls with A6 and I scoop. A nice, well-timed and needed double up.

Key hand #4 – It’s funny how you can precisely remember every hand you lose when you were a favorite, but some of the hands you win when YOU were behind are a little more fuzzy. That’s what happened here. I can’t remember the blind levels or my raise size, but I do know that I opened with KQ and one of the smaller stacks shoved on me. I did some quick math, decided I had an easy call, and he flips over AQ. Whoops. One of a mere five hands where I’m not getting the right odds to call. I spiked a K anyways and my stack kept rising.

Key hand #5 – I’m somewhere around 7000 in chips and the blinds are 300-600. Someone limps in front of me and I look down at AsKs. I check out the limper’s stack size to see what kind of raise I need to make. He has 1400 behind and I decide on making it 2500 to go, enough to put him all in, and let everyone else know I’m serious about my hand. The small blind ships it for 4800 and the limper folds and I quickly call. He tables AQ and scoops the pot. Brutal. The same beat I put on the other guy in my last key hand, but this time, the pot was MUCH bigger, so it definitely stung and was probably the difference in me not making the money.

Key hand #6 – blinds are still 300-600. It folds to the small blind, the same guy that limped for 600 with a 2000 stack and folded to the raises in the last key hand. He completes to 600 and I look down at A5. I decide that my hand has him beat and his stack size says I should just put him all-in if he wants to play. I’m surprised when calls and ecstatic when he shows K5. See ya later, buddy.

Key hand #7 – After a run of cold cards and no favorable stealing situations, my stack has dwindled quite a bit. I’m down to about 5500 and the blinds are 400-800. A pretty tight player raises to 2000 UTG. It folds to me and I have 99. I go into the tank. Ultimately, I decide to fold since the raiser is kind of nitty and even if I’m a favorite, I’m probably only looking at a 52-48 edge. The small blind calls and the hand plays out very bizarrely. They both check the flop and turn and after the board reads 23756 on the river, the small blind bets 800, gets called, and shows QQ. I pat myself on the back for folding, although I clearly would’ve held up against the initial raiser.

Key hand #8 – The blinds both pass through me without picking up a pot and I’m down to 3800. Blinds are still 400-800 and I feel like my stack is in critical condition. The player that beat my AK with AQ makes it 2000 to go and it folds to me, holding AT. My cards are weaker than they were in the last hand, which I folded, but the situation here is a bit different. I’ve seen enough action from the raiser to know he’s willing to splash around and my stack is starting to dictate my play more than my starting hand. I’d prefer to have first-in vigorish, but my AT was gonna have to do. I shoved it and he had an automatic call with almost any two cards. He shows KJ and the board comes J938K and it’s “GG Mac” in 13th place.

Regardless, because of the amazing structure of this daily event, I can’t think of any other time I’ve busted out of a tournament, lost my buy-in, and walked out of the poker room ecstatic.

Bremerton Lanes has it figured out. They offer an amazing tournament in which the skill factor can heavily outweigh the luck factor and SHOCKER: they attract a bigger field than both All-Star and Chips. Despite the buy-in being steeper than either of those tournaments, they had three full tables and several alternates, and a full live game was fired up before the first tournament table even broke. Basically, slowing up the tournament and providing more play attracted a bigger field and more bodies that could potentially stick around for live play and feed the rake. Go figure. Instead of hustling their customers through a tournament so the casino can take a rake, Bremerton Lanes offers a medium stacked, well-structured event and still managed to get a live game going before any of these other casinos usually do.

I can’t wait to play in the tournament again and I’ll be posting my experiences as they come and tracking my results on the site. Hopefully I can make a big score in it early, so I have the roll to support playing in it on a daily basis.

All-Star Lanes and Chips Casino, it’s time to take some notes.