Posts Tagged ‘horse’

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$175 HORSE @ Wildhorse in Pendleton Sweat Post

April 9, 2019

Wow. I’m already shellshocked. First off, this is only a $175 buy in. I’m not really sure why they would make the Omaha 8 a $230 BI and drop the cost on this one. They are in the same ballpark in my eyes.

Okay, whatever though. That’s not going to dissuade me from playing. But imagine sitting down in level one with 20k and learning that blinds are 200/400! We are starting with 50 big blinds. And they advertised double chips for all their events! What kind of shitty structure did it used to be?

Yesterday, the O8 event starting with 20k chips but blinds started at 100/200. I ended up making a deep run on my second bullet and with 40 players left – and 20 cashing – the average stack was 10 big blinds. Not like doubling the chips did much good there either.

This is going to get really dumb really quick.

My O8 event was a frustrating experience. I went two hours before I got any piece of a pot and I was down half my stack at the first break and I had only played like five hands.

I never got any momentum going and busted at the buzzer before re-entry closed, so I bought back in and sat down with 16 big blinds on my second bullet.

I immediately chipped up and was running good enough that the player on my right kept saying, “how are things going today, Mike?” and I was sitting there thinking, “uhm, well, I’m on my second bullet and we are still super far away from the money so… let’s save the run good needles for when it actually means something?”

Sure enough, I peaked around 60k, which was about double average at the time, and that was the last of any momentum for me.

Several hours later, I’m sitting on a short stack ten spots off the money and get my last 4+ bigs in with AQJ3 with a suited ace against AKJ4 and find no love.

I’ll post stack updates here and maybe some hands on the break. Betting limits are already up to 500/1000 so going to need momentum early to stay relevant in this one.

1:11 PM: Nothing like limit Hold’em to torch my stack. I defend 62hh in a multi-way pot and have to put in three bets on A43hh before calling another bet on 8 turn and bricking out. Then I get limp-raised in the next pot with AKhh in my small blind and check-call a brick flop 3-handed before check-folding turn.

Just like that, half my stack is gone… because this structure is πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

1:33 PM: Sitting on exactly 10k after three levels for half a starting stack. I would hate to give up if I bust out before registration closes but the structure is so bad I’m not sure I can justify it, even at such a low price point.

2:04 PM: Uhm. Can we play Razz all day? I’ve seen three different players limp with a face card up. Not defend their bring in. Voluntarily limp.

2:42 PM: Was down to crumbs and managed to double up a couple times.

Back up to 7600 with limit Hold’em coming up next hand! This is a superficial statement but I think LHE is the worst game to be short in when you are playing HORSE.

2:53 PM: Folds to me on button and I raise with K9 of clubs with less than 4 big blinds.

The big blind defends and I bet the flop without looking at it when he checks to me. He raises to put me all in and I call.

Board is QQT and he has Q8 so that’s not cool.

Turn is a jack!

River is a king!

Double up. Back to 9700, giving me 8 big blinds.

3:22 PM: Registration is closed and I’m still on my first bullet. Unfortunately, I’ll be coming back to 5900 with betting limits at 1500/3000.

3:49 PM: Got moved tables and found myself under the gun playing LHE with just over two big blinds. Fortunately, I picked up 44, but I got two callers and the K65 flop and one of my opponents had 77. The turn gave him a set, which is actually a good card for me, but I bricked the river.

Fun times. Next event is no limit Hold’em on Thursday.

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No Limit H.O.R.S.E. at the LAPC – Say What?

February 2, 2019

Honestly, I was skipping this event. I love HORSE. It’s my favorite game. But I don’t love no limit. I prefer limit structures, for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because I’m way better at them. Also, this tournament starts at 4 PM on a Saturday. Considering what I can make in a cash game on a weekend night (more on that later), why would I want to fire in a $350 tournament that starts late and might even last two days?

I wouldn’t. I would not want to do that.

But then I was at The Bike yesterday and someone recognized me from the LAPC and lured me into his conversation and asked me about the NL HORSE. I said something along the lines of “I’ve never played no limit for most of these games” and his friend that he was talking to (that was playing in the huge NL game on Live at The Bike) said, “yeah, that’s a good reason not to play it. I’ll take the under on 5% of the field having played a hand of no limit Razz.”

That basically translates to: don’t be such a pussy.

Okay, fine. I’ll be there.

The more I thought about it, the more excited and intrigued I got. It seemed like people would be flying out of this tournament because they’d be going all in in terrible spots or just because they are totally lost and I thought it would be a good idea to have unlimited rebuys until registration closed. Sure enough, there are unlimited rebuys.

Good. Now if I do something really stupid, I can just buy back in. I’m not going to be looking to punt my stack around and hope to get lucky, but I am willing to fire up to four bullets in this thing if I’m enjoying myself.

I also got to thinking about all the ways the big bet structure could change how the various games are played.

Let’s imagine a Razz hand. Someone opens with a 5 up and you look down at A2-3. For simplicity sake, let’s assume all cards are live. Pretend your opponent has 34-5. How big of a favorite do you think you are?

Here’s the answer:

You have the nut starting hand and you’re basically coin flipping.

Even against a rougher hand you’re not a huge favorite:

I’m not really sure how this should affect my strategy in a big bet structure, but against a large field of inexperienced and unpredictable players, I don’t think pushing small edges is going to be ideal. If someone opens and you 3-bet, they are unlikely to fold and look how big of an impact 4th street has on the equities:

Just like that, you go from a slight favorite to a sizable dog – even when your opponent catches a mediocre card like a 9. Unlike in limit, where you should usually still call here, they can bet enough to make your continuing decisions much tougher.

So the question is… when the stacks are deep, do we want to be bloating the pot on third street?

I don’t know. I think I’m going to be playing cautiously, mostly because I expect my opponents to have no clue what they are doing and that unpredictability is drastically going to increase everyone’s variance.

I feel like Hold’em, Omaha 8, and Stud Hi should come somewhat naturally to me in the big bet structure. Big pairs are going to be boss in Stud Hi.

Stud 8? No clue. I have a hard enough time trying to play that game well with a fixed betting structure. Honestly, my goal in this variant will just be to avoid losing heaps of chips. I’m just going to fold all the hands (not really)(but seriously, maybe).

I’m going to spend the next hour or so continuing to run sims in the various games to get a better grasp on my equities in certain spots.

But first, let me tell you about yesterday.

I checked in to The Bike just after 4 PM and immediately got a seat in a $40/$80 limit Hold’em game. Kiddie gloves are off. With a good amount of equity coming our way from the sell of our previous house, I don’t feel like I’m taking a shot at this level. I can play in it. I mean, shit, I haven’t even really gotten used to the swings at $20/$40 yet, but whatever.

Before I had chips, I was down $250. I played another pot in my first orbit and flopped a pair against an underpair but they turned a set… in a 3-bet kill pot.

Before I posted my first blind I was stuck $850.

Before I posted my second blind I was stuck $1400.

Before I won my first pot, I folded 44 to a raise and then watched the action go off multi-way and get 3-bet only to see this flop roll off:

That’s a pretty sick feeling when you’re stuck a rack and a half already, still looking for Pot A.

I started having flashbacks to my first $40/$80 session ever when I lost almost $2300 in less than two hours and rage quit because my body was literally shaking from tilt.

The good news was… I didn’t feel anything like that. I mean… I wasn’t thrilled about being stuck a mortgage payment in my first 15 minutes of play, but I was thinking about reloading, not bolting for the door and spending the next day walking around Disneyland by myself.

I didn’t buy more chips and I started winning a pot here and there but I was still stuck about $1500 three and a half hours into my session when momentum started to swing my way.

I picked up AA in a kill pot and it got raised in front of me. I jacked it up and the killer and raiser both called.

Flop was 992 with two spades and they both check-call a bet.

The turn is the 5 of spades and the killer leads out. The other guy folds. I’ve already established that the killer is the loosest (and probably worst) player at the table, however I did see him check-call flop in a similar spot earlier and then donk the turn with flopped trips. So I know he’s capable of having trips here (and probably flushes) with this line, but I also know he’s not be trusted. I call.

The river is a very unfortunate 4 of spades, putting four spades on the board and none in my hand, and he bets again. But I’m not folding AA in huge pots for one bet to a wild player, so I pay it off and he can only show a 53 with no spades and I drag a big one.

Then I get moved to the main game and one of my first hands I pick up AJ of clubs in a 6-way raised pot and flop the nut flush draw on a T76 board. I get three bets in on the flop and five of us see a turn that gives me the nuts. That clears the field down to three and my hand stays nutty on the river and I get one caller.

Just like that, I go from -$1500 to +$1200 in about 15 minutes!

Sick swings in this game.

I lost some dumb hands every now and then after that, but it was mostly smooth sailing for me the rest of the night.

My final score? +$5035 in 11.5 hours!

That’s good for my second best cash game session ever.

What a great start to my trip and a great first day of February, right on the heels of a +$10k month of January.

Feels good man.

Alright, it’s 2:15 PM right now, so I’m going to study up for the next hour or so and then get ready to head to Commerce.

Check back here after 4 PM for stack updates in the NL HORSE tournament and I’m sure I’ll also have some hands to write about.

4:11 PM: Might be hard to blog this. My table is 4-handed. There are 8 players in the tournament total. πŸ˜‚

I can say I won 6 of the first 8 hands, all in Stud Hi, and two of them were pretty sizable.

Starting stacks are 12.5k but blinds are 25/50 with a 25 ante and 25 bring in with 20 minute levels.

A third table just got cards in the air. Looks like we are up to 15 entrants!

5:25 PM: Steadily building. I feel very comfortable with the format and my table draw. There are six levels before the first break so I’m just going to type up the most interesting hand I’ve played real quick.

Stud Hi, 25 ante, 75 bring in… I start with K6ss-9s and someone limps in front of me with a ten up. There’s a king and six up, but all the spades are live. I make it 300. The king and ten up call.

On 4th street, the king catches a 5 of spades and leads out for 600. Ten catches a blank and I get the four of spades. I like it. I like it a lot. The ten folds and I decide to just flat. Maybe I can raise to get it in here, but we feel too deep still.

On 5th, I catch the ace of clubs and he gets another small spade. That’s annoying. I check to him and he bets 2000, leaving himself with around 8-9k behind. I think this is a pretty silly bet when I catch an ace because… I stuff it in his face.

How much do you like a pair of kings here? Shoot, how much do you like kings up?

He tanks for a while and says “kings up no good” and mucks it.

Sims coming…

Interesting. I would have thought I’m a bigger favorite on 4th street. When I get it in on 5th, I certainly don’t think I have an equity advantage, but the ace is such a good card to bluff with. He said he had two pair, and maybe he did, but it’s worth noting that my equity on 5th jumps up to around 41% if he just has a pair of kings.

First Break: 16.9k

Coming back to 75 ante (in all the games!), 200 bring and 250/500 blinds for the flop games.

Registration is closed and I’m healthy on bullet #1! Leggo.

Second Break: 6800

I’m pretty sure I didn’t win a hand for the entirety of those four levels.

Oh wait. That’s not true. I was all in for my tourney life in Razz with 92-4J7T against a board of xx-J78J and I had bet somewhere around 2.5x the size of the pot. I have a board lock, but it’s pretty obvious he’s drawing to an 87 here and you know what? I don’t want to be called. If I make a normal sized bet and he calls, I could find myself in a really weird spot on 7th street. He doesn’t know I have a 9 buried, so that’s nice, but still… I don’t want to face any pressure or lose this pot with another card.

It’s probably a good thing I jammed because he tanked for like two minutes with his junky board facing a huge oversized bet.

Of course I got short just in time for Stud 8. It seems like I should be jamming my whole range, but it’s weird because the starting pot size is smaller in the Stud games.

I’m basically trying to survive until Hold’em unless I find a super obvious spot to get it in.

I folded K3-K under the gun with only one small card out, but it was an ace. I’m probably supposed to get it in here but I don’t know, so I fold.

Then a 5d opens and a 5h calls. I have Qh2h-Ad and I don’t know what to do, so I fold.

There are two hands of Stud 8 left after the break and then I will have the small blind in Hold’em with approximately 4-5 bigs (unless I bust or double first).

67 entrants, 35 left, 9 cash, with $6250 for 1st.

I have about 25% of the average stack so…

Let’s run it up?

8:00 PM: I make it to Hold’em and I have 4.5 bigs after posting my small blind. Someone opens to 2.5 bigs, I jam with 66 and he calls wi-

Wait. He’s tanking. Wtf? Am I really going to win this pot without running the cards? What does he have to think about here? Nothing. He has nothing to think about. It’s a snap-call.

But he folds and I double up without a showdown. Holy shit.

Very next hand he opens again and the cutoff jams for slightly more than what I have. I look down at AK of spades and with my 10 big blind stack there is nothing to think about here. I put all my chips in. Opener folds and I’m in a race against…

AA.

Goddammit.

I don’t know why, but I feel pretty good about it and then I flop a flush draw and feel like I doubled up already.

But then… I brick out? How is that even possible?

Sigh.

Flipper convinced me to make a road trip to Vegas for Super Bowl Sunday and lured me with MLB Futures betting possibilities and, I mean, I’m not capable of saying no to that, so that’s what I’m doing tomorrow.

Which means I’m done playing poker today. We are probably going to be leaving pretty early, so I’m going to take it easy and go catch The Green Book at the theater and then head back to my spot.

No idea what my poker plans are tomorrow but I’ll be back in LAPC action on Monday for the $570 Omaha 8 or Better tournament.

Bricking is so fun!

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LAPC $350 H.O.R.S.E. @ Commerce (Stack Updates)

January 31, 2019

12.5k to start with 100/200 betting limits.

Yesterday sucked. I woke up at 4 AM to catch an 8 AM flight and I was in the $350 limit Hold’em at Commerce by 1:22 PM.

I never had any momentum and I think my stack peaked around 15k (from 12.5k starting). I managed to expertly bust out on the last hand before registration closed (for the second time this series in four events) to ensure that I got minimum value out of my second bullet.

I had 13.5k with blinds at 1000/1500 when I picked up KK under the gun. I jacked it up and got callers from the button and the big blind.

The flop was a very sexy KJ4 rainbow. I bet and only the button called.

The turn was a 9 and the button called again.

I’m not sure why, but when the button called on the turn, I had a bad feeling. Maybe there was a change in the way he put his chips in the pot or in his appearance that my subconscious was picking up on. Maybe it was just a case of MUBS (Monsters Under the Bed Syndrome).

Whatever it was, it was strong enough that I was seriously considering checking when the river bricked off. I had two big bets left. If I check-called and lost I’d still be in the tournament (albeit with one big bet left), but if I bet and called with the worst hand, I’d be out. But then I thought about how ridiculous it would be if I check and called with top set and it was good or if it checked around when I desperately need chips. It’s not like there was a front door flush draw this guy could bluff with and I can’t remember if the turn badugi’d or not.

So I bet. And then I called. And then I walked my ass right out of the casino and checked into my AirBnB where I was asleep for the night by 10:30 PM – one of the 4-5 times a year I fall asleep before midnight.

Oh. Yeah. He had QT for a straight.

I was back in Washington for roughly five full days and I only played ~5.5 hours of poker on Friday night, posting a -$142 in $15/$30 at Palace.

Saturday was spent fixing up our old house so we could put it on the market by Monday and we were so wiped we just stayed in and relaxed all night.

Sunday we hiked up the Little Si trail in North Bend and our little Pomeranians continue to be hiking superstars. Who’d a thunk?

Monday and Tuesday were more relaxing days before a long trip back to L.A. and we had at least three different parties walk through our old house and by Tuesday night we received three offers! And we reached mutual acceptance on one of them!

🀯

I really thought we might have to endure two months or so with our house on the market and we sold it in less than 48 hours. I am honestly stunned. I am not a religious or spiritual person by any means, but sometimes I really do feel like we are blessed.

Then again, here I am sitting with 10k in level 3 of this HORSE tournament wondering how the hell you win a pot in one of these things.

I had a decent Stud round but I’m right back to running like crap in LHE.

I open TT and QJo cold calls next in and gets the QQ4 flop and then JTss whiffs the AQ9 one spade flop.

Momentum! One time please!

First Break: 9.7k

Second Break: 19.8k

Got over 20k and then Hold’em happened again.

I got a free flop from the big with A8 vs one limper and the small blind and we saw the A73 flop and the limper had A7. Then I lost with TT to KQ in a 3-bet pot when they turned a king. Then I had 66 vs AQ in a 4-bet pot (yes, he put a lid on it with AQ out of position) and gave up on Q98Q. Then I defended 22 on the last hand and check-folded KT8.

Good God. There are only 8 hands of Hold’em and I played half of them, losing half of my stack.

This is my best game… and I’m just hemorrhaging in it.

I was all the way down to 10k or so when I decided to call a raise on the button in O8 in a multi-way pot with AKJ7 double suited. Pretty questionable but it looks like it will go 6-ways and I have a decent high only hand.

Fortunately the flop is T83 giving me the nut flush. It checks to me and I get two callers. Turn is a queen and I am now heads up. A low gets there on the river and my opponent check-calls and somehow I am scooping this pot still (I do have an A7 for low).

Some more good news: registration is closed. I won’t have to fire two bullets today!

5:25 PM: Things have been uneventful. I just wanted to say I’m starting limit Hold’em with 19k. Let’s see if I can avoid getting tortured this time.

5:42 PM: I did it! 24.4k after 8 hands of Hold’em!

Third Break: 18.8k

Betting limits will be 1200/2400 after the break.

166 entrants. 21 cash. ~112 left. Average stack size is ~18.5k. Number of players left could be way off though.

$11.8k up top for 1st place.

BUSTED

Slow, steady drip with basically no hands of note. Just blinding and anteing out and immediately bricking any hand I did play.

I’m short in Razz. There’s a raise and call. I defend A2-K as the bring in with only two cards lower than a ten up. I’m super live.

I catch a 5 on 4th and am now heads up against two medium up cards. If I catch good on 5th, I’m raising to get all in.

But I pair the 2 and the guy fucking knows it. He has three medium cards up now and I’m two streets behind now. Probably. I fold.

My bust hand is bizarro world. I bring it in with a jack up and three people limp.

So I get to see 4th street at no extra charge. They all catch a king or queen. Jesus. I’m in the lead. I’m not far ahead though, so maybe this is a spot to check since I have very few chips and bricking on 5th could be devastating. But I bet.

I got called in two spots.

On 5th street I improve to 86-J35 and I’m facing boards of 6J6 and 4QA. I bet and am all in and I know the 4QA is calling but I’m shocked to see the 6J6 also continue on the big bet street. Unreal.

I make an 8 on 6th by catching a 2 and the J6 improves and the A4 catches a 9. I have the best hand. I just need to dodge…

… the J6 bricks, but the A94 improves to an 85. I have an 86. I need to catch a small card and I do!

But it’s another 2, pairing me, and I’m out with about 50 players left.

Razz is impossible. Poker is hard.

I hate this spot. I’ve already been playing poker for 7 hours today and I don’t typically start cash game sessions this late. But I also don’t really have anything to do tomorrow. I’m not playing the short deck tournament at 1, even though it sounds fun. There’s a T.O.E. (2-7 Triple Draw, Omaha 8, Stud 8) tournament at 5 PM, but I’m not sure how wise it is to lock up my Friday night playing a $350 tournament when going deep would also require me to come back for a Day 2 on Saturday.

I’m on the fence about tomorrow. I’ll probably just play cash games.

For studying purposes:

There is 3200 (two small bets) in antes plus 4500 (five small bets) from the three players involved on 3rd. Two players left on 4th and one big bet on 5th makes the pot 4.5 bigs bets. I’m getting 4.5 to 1 to continue, so I need about 18% equity to call here.

Basically, if he made an 8, I’m smashed. If he has a pair, a king, or a queen, I should call. I can call profitably if he showed me a made jack but not a made ten.

Here’s how bad that 5th street is for me. If I catch a good card, let’s say a 3, I’m 42% to scoop even if he has a made 8. That’s a sick swing there.

Ah well.

I decided to sit in a $40/$80 game, looking to avoid disaster and hoping to smash their faces in. My table is so juicy I have Barry Greenstein sitting at it!

I’m not going to blog hands though. I’m going to give this game my 110% attention.

10:52 PM: This $40/$80 game I’m in is amazing. Barry moved on to the next game and I’ve seen four different players in my current lineup open-limp! That’s something you mostly stop seeing at the $20/$40 level. It’s one thing to see one player at this level do it, but four?!?!

My mind is honestly blown.

I saw one guy open-limp the button and show 88. The next hand he open-raised the cutoff and showed A4.

I don’t even know what that means. He’s playing like 70% of the hands.

I’m admittedly running pretty good. Even after managing to lose with AJ of spades heads up on an A98 two spade flop (JT turned a straight) and QJdd to 98 after a AQJ flop, I’m still up $1400.

Here’s a fun hand: I open cutoff with 77 and the small blind 3-bets.

Flop is 653 with two hearts and that’s definitely a good flop for my hand. I jack her c-bet up and she just calls.

Turn is a queen and I check-back because I have zero interest in bet-calling here and I have to see a river.

River is an ace and she checks to me again. That’s weird. I’d basically be bluffing if I bet here. She’s definitely not going to fold a better hand here. I’m pretty happy to show down for free, so that’s what I do.

She tables QQ!

Sometimes you feel like you won even when you lost.

$40/$80 Final Score: +$1235 in 5.5 hours

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WSOPc $400 HORSE @ The Bike – LET’S GET A RANG (Stack Updates)

December 5, 2018

2:41 PM: Ubering to The Bike right now with an ETA of 3:02 PM, so I’ll be just in time for a slightly late start.

Yesterday that $400 Monster Stack had a brutal $70 admin fee. 17.5% taken out is always lovely. It is the same today.

Looks like we will be starting with 15k in chips and blinds at an odd 50/75 for the flop games and 25 ante for the Stud games. Betting limits will be 75/150 in the first level and levels are 30 minutes long.

This is supposed to be a two day event and we are playing up to 20 levels today, but the structure sheet only has 14 listed levels so maybe it is really a single day tournament. 20 levels would take us to about 2 AM tonight. Not really sure what to expect as far as that goes. If we reach a final table at 11 PM, I would definitely not want to come back the next day to play it.

Of course I have to get there first.

There is unlimited re-entry through the first 12 levels and, unlike yesterday, I will be firing multiple bullets if I’m unlucky enough to bust early in a limit structure.

I will post stack updates here, for sure, and maybe the occasional notable hand, but I want to focus more on my table than on writing, so don’t expect many hands, but check back for progress updates!

3:09 PM: Everyone standing in line with me to register is at my starting table, including two ladies that have 50% of each other (as heard as they were standing in line). One of them is Carol Fuchs, an accomplished mixed games player with over $520k in lifetime tournament cashes. I’ve played HORSE with Carol before.

I actually recognize a lot of the players in this field. Other notables: Miami John Cernuto, Allen Kessler, Frankie O’Dell, and Wendy Freedman – all with over a million in tourney cashes. Plus Wayne ‘Kevin’ LaMonica, a total maniac that took 2nd in the $1500 HORSE when I finished 5th at the 2017 WSOP. Also, one of the players from the 30/60 mix just sat down in the field.

My starting table seems reg heavy, but so does the whole field really.

3:47 PM: I mention that I’m not supposed to recognize half the field when I come from out of state and Carol asks me where I’m from and I say, “Washington.”

She says, “you don’t say…” and I realize I have been trolled because…

UW vs #1 Gonzaga in Spokane at 8 PM (Pacific) tonight on ESPN. My boys are 15.5 point DAWGS so not a lot of hope here but still… a very exciting game for my alma mater tonight.

5:00 PM: Just above starting stack after four levels and coming back to betting limits of 250/500.

I won a good multi-way Stud pot and scooped a heads up pot, blind vs blind, in O8 with AQ83 on Q72J8.

That’s pretty much the extent of my excitement so far.

7:10 PM: 26.5k after 8 levels coming back to betting limits of 600/1200.

Most notable hand last four levels: Stud Hi, guy on my right completes with a 6 up and I raise with A4-4 with two clubs and all my cards live. This clears the rest of the field.

He is pretty early so I think he is more likely to have a big pair in the hole than split sixes and the fact I have an ace is a big factor here.

So when he pairs his 6 on 4th and puts a 1000 chip in the pot, I put a 500 chip in to call. Technically he can bet 1000 here because he has an open pair on 4th but he didn’t say anything and I’m guessing a single over-sized chip defers to the normal limit. The dealer gives him change and he starts to protest but quickly realizes he has no argument and we got to 5th street…

…where I catch a 4 and make trips. He still bets and while I do think I’m leading here a lot against two pair, I decide that I’m going to call down unimproved and save a couple bets when he actually does have trips.

I do brick out and he fires 5th, 6th, and on 7th he bets without even looking at his card. Eek. I never improve but I call and I’m good against KK66x.

9:21 PM: It looked like I was going to fizzle right out of this thing but the last two levels were a heat stroke for me.

57k after 12 levels. Registration will be closed after this break. We are coming back to betting limits of 1500/3000.

11 PM: 76k after 15 levels coming back to 3000/6000 betting limits.

Board says there are 30 players left. I think it said 12 cash with $9600 up top for 1st. Average stack is 48.5k.

Frankie O’dell is at my table now. It’s my first time I’ve ever played with him.

Here are some highlights:

“I’m on the Mount Rushmore of that shit.” – in reference to Omaha 8 or better.

“People don’t go five bets with me, bro.” – after he gets in a cut off vs big blind raising war holding AA33 and busts a short stack that had QQ32.

Hopefully there is more to come.

12:05 AM: There is no better feeling than the swift death. I came back from break and played the first three hands of Omaha. And lost all of them. Just like that I went from 76k to 43.5k and was suddenly below average for the first time in many levels. Maybe ever.

Then I defended in Stud 8 with 54-2 and caught an ace on 4th but my board ran out 254 while he was showing xx-6K6K on 6th.

That hand left me crippled and with three small bets left, I got it in with 75-A in Stud 8, got three callers, caught a jack on 4th and got isolated by a guy with 75-63 and he immediately drilled the 4 on 5th.

That busted me in 22nd, ten spots off the money.

It’s the best. Playing all day and busting just shy of the money. I love it.

That’s it for me tonight and since I can’t play a day 2 in the Omaha 8 tournament, I will not be winning a WSOPc ring this trip.

Most likely I will be playing cash all day tomorrow then flying back on Friday in time for the (hopefully) resurrection of the 15/30 game at Palace at 4 PM.

h1

Binions $585 H.O.R.S.E. Championship (LIVE BLOG)

June 28, 2018

Just sat down in the $585 HORSE Championship at Binions.

I punted this tournament so hard last year I decided to immediately book a flight home and ended my trip.

To illustrate how big of a punt this was, let me tell you about the structure of this event. It’s ridiculous. Starting stacks are 50k with blinds starting at 75/150 and stair-stepping every 40 minutes. That’s a starting stack of 333 big blinds… in a limit tournament… with 40 minute levels… and a soft field!

Making Day 2 in this one seems like a layup. I lasted five hours. It was unbelievable. I obviously didn’t run good, but I’m also sure it was the worst I played the whole summer and I felt like it was a huge wasted opportunity.

Granted, I could have re-entered in Day 1B, but I was so mad at myself I was just… done. Plus, I was really disappointed with the turn out. I can’t remember exactly how many showed up for Day 1A last year but it was definitely less than the 50 players that are already here for Day 1A today.

Not sure if I’ll be posting hands regularly or not, but I will at least post stack updates here on the breaks.

My buddies Tormund and Flipper (formerly known as The Atom) are carrying a 50k stack to Day 2 of the Tag Team event in the WSOP. That puts them in the top 75 stacks of 250ish remaining players. I believe I saw that 150 or so players cash. They got it in with 99 vs JJ late last night and managed to find a 9 on the turn to survive. I’ll update their progress throughout the day. I believe cards were in the air five minutes ago.

The Leak also fired the $1k Ladies Event at the WSOP this morning and I’ll post updates on her status as well. Starting stacks were 5k in that one.

Leggo.

1:17 PM: Wow. I do not have good news.

The Leak is out.

Flipper and Tormund are out.

Yikes.

I have 52.4k on the first break. Nothing really notable the first few levels.

3:13 PM: Okay, Mariners game is over (Sweep!) so I can update a bit more frequently.

Here’s a funky stud hand I’m not sure about.

A 7h up raises, I reraise with split aces, and the bring in calls with a 4 up (what?).

I catch a blank on 4th, the bring in catches a king, and the 7h catches a 3h. I still lead and I’m surprised when the bring in raises. The 7h calls it cold and I call, but I’m kind of baffled at this point.

On 5th I make aces and nines (hidden), but the bring pairs open kings and the 7h3h catches the Kh. The kings lead and the three flush raises. I think I’m supposed to exit here. When the bring in raised on 4th, I thought he paired a king (or he has rolled up fours?) and the three flush is saying he doesn’t care about any of that. But then I start thinking about hands that he might raise on 5th that I’m still beating, like a pair with a four flush, plus he has the Kh showing making it less likely the other player has three kings. All my outs are live, so I call it cold. The kings call also.

Everybody bricks on 6th and we all put in one bet.

On 7th, I don’t improve and the three flush board still bets and I feel like he can never be bluffing at this point, so I fold and he gets check-raised by the kings and loses to kings full of fours. The three flush shows rolled up 7s and I’m pretty sure I messed this hand up on 5th and should have stuck with my first instinct.

In LHE, I 3-bet KK and my opponent donks into me on the Q93 flop. I decide to flat and raise the turn, but the turn card pairs the queen and I decide to call down. He ends up showing me 99! Unlucky but somehow managed to matrix my way to minimum damage.

I bounced back by playing an Omaha 8 hand questionably. Okay I played it bad. I opened AJ93 badugi, got 3-bet, and then called down on a 887QT runout (don’t worry, I donked the river at least). Everyone has been playing O8 really wild at my table so there’s some chance my low draw was good for half and my gut shot is ultimately what made me call and… BINK!

Then I won multiple Razz pots.

Currently sitting on 58k after six levels.

3:45 PM: I saw Sandman talking to the floor man and thought he was signing up to play, but then he disappeared.

I coaxed Flipper into late regging this thing and he got here only to find out that they are taking alternates! So that explains what happened to Sandman.

There were like 40 people here for Day 1A last year, a super disappointing turnout, so it’s been pretty shocking to see 88 players come out to play Day 1A this year. I imagine the field will be similar for Day 1B tomorrow, for about roughly 180 players and a prize pool approaching $100k.

My table appears to be really loose, aggressive, and bad. Reminds me of how I played last year. A bunch of dudes trying to bully what they think is a soft field.

4 PM: Stud 8, 8 up opens, I 3-bet 9A-A, a small up card calls and the bring in calls also.

I catch a 7 on 4th, one of the lows bricks, the other catches an offsuit 8, and the 8 catches a 9. Pretty good street for me. I bet and everybody calls.

On 5th, the 89 makes open 9s, I catch a jack, and the two low boards are bricky, so when the 9s lead out, raising to get heads up even though he likely has two pair makes sense to me. I raise, the two others fold, and he calls.

I plan to check back on 6th unimproved but I make open aces instead and value bet through 7th and get paid off to scoop my biggest pot of the tournament.

The Leak is in action in the Daily Deep Stack at the Rio. I’ll update her progress there.

Flipper got a refund and is across the street playing cash at the Golden Nugget.

5:45 PM: Wonderful. 60 minute dinner break with zero desire to take a break after getting torched in LHE.

Blinds 500/1000, someone opens, I 3-bet QQ from cutoff, button 4-bets, we both call. Flop is T32. We both check-call.

Turn pairs the 2. We both check-call.

River ace. We both check and the button still bets. Kind of weird unless he had AA the whole time or was trying to punt. Other player folds so I’m definitely calling.

He shows me AJ offsuit.

What.

Very next hand I lose a big pot with AKdd vs KK.

Peaked at like 75k and suddenly I have 54.5k.

What a joke.

7:12 PM: The brutality continued after dinner and I bottomed out at 36k before winning a couple Razz pots. I’m back up over 41k now.

Sandman finally gets a seat… in round 10… at 1200/2400 limits… at my table.

He has more chips than me.

7:20 PM: Sandman just won a very big Stud pot. He has way more chips than me. Wth.

7:22 PM: Split kings < buried tens. 33k.

Sigh.

7:49 PM: Open A2-3 in Stud 8, some goon with TT-9 3-bets, we get another caller, so I just call. The 9 catches a 3 and the other guy bricks, so I bet when I pick up a 4 and only the TT-93 calls.

On 5th I catch a 7 and the freeroll is on. He calls.

I make 7s on 6th and he pairs his 3 and decides it’s a good time to get 3.5 big bets in for the rest of his stack even though he’s 0% to scoop the pot.

I don’t catch an ace, seven or five and his tens and threes are good for half.

Thanks for trying though.

Just got stubborn with Sandman in Stud 8 holding 66-5K9K-A when he has xx-A943-x showing. He gave up on 6th when I made open kings and let me show down for free because… I was scooping!

46k

8:17 PM: The Leak is making a serious run in the Rio Daily Deep Stack. She has 265k with blinds at 3000/6000 and 181 left. I think she said 150 or so cash. The Riddler is also still in the Daily and he apparently has a big stack too.

UPDATE: The Leak has cashed the Daily Deep Stack. She will have a Hendonmob profile! Congrats babe!

8:40 PM: Busted a player in Razz and now I’m back over 50k.

Sandman just doubled up… to 11k.

8:50 PM: Groan. Huge 3-way Razz pot:

Sandman: xx-2K28-x

Me: 52-7Q98-Q

Third Player: xx-644T-x

Bets go in on every street with Sandman all in on 5th. Third player turns over A28 for the scoop. I had a slight lead on 6th in a 40k pot and now I have 30k on break.

9:08 PM: Peaking! I have 33-K in a 4-way pot and spike a 3 on 4th. I check, the last player with a jack up bets and I check-raise, a player with 8c6c 3-bets, and the jack folds. Feels like a flush draw to me, so my plan is to call and…

Bet when he bricks on 5th. He calls.

I make open kings on 6th (a full house) and he has 8c6cJJ showing… and calls… and then calls again on 7th.

I now have 86k. Game on.

9:59 PM: The Leak just ran QQ into AA… flopped a set… and lost to a rivered set. She has 70k now which is probably ten bigs or so.

10:46 PM: Last hand of Razz and middle position raises with a king up. Some people are startled but no one says anything.

Me: 86-5797-T

Him: xx-KQ39-x

Sick thing is I don’t have him board locked but he’s probably been drawing dead since he clearly thinks he’s playing Stud. He put in multiple small bets on 3rd and 4th and big bets on 5th and 6th before seeming to realize his mistake.

A very nice gift.

I lost a couple big Stud pots after that so I still only have 97k.

11:10 PM: I have 92k with 37 players left. 119k is current average stack. Three more levels tonight and I need to make a late push because if I bust this I’m not sure I can do another 14 hour day of HORSE.

The Leak has ran her 70k stack back up to 250k. There are 69 left in the Daily Deep Stack and I believe The Riddler is also one of those players.

Correction: The Riddler out in 61st place.

11:37 PM: Look at The Leak go!

Meanwhile I’m peaking at 117K. Creeping up on an average stack!

11:50 PM: Fun LHE hand I wasn’t involved in. Button opens, small blind 3-bets, button calls.

Flop is A83 with two clubs. Small blind bets and button calls.

Turn is 2 of clubs. Small blind check-calls.

River blank. They both check. Small blind shows KcJ. Button immediately expresses disbelief, flashes J9 of SPADES, and says “you all saw that, right?” like the small blind was the one on a pure torch. Button left himself with 1.25 big bets, which may have won him the pot if he put it in on the river.

I am above average at 170k now. Two more levels!

12:06 AM: The Leak busts in 43rd when her QQ runs into KK.

Nice run baby!! Congrats!

12:16 AM: I just took the sickest, sickest SICKEST Razz beat ever.

Someone opens, middle position calls with a QUEEN up, I call A7-3

On 4th I catch a 5, the opener catches a ten, and the queen catches a 2. I bet, they both call.

On 5th I catch a king, the ten catches good and the queen catches a 6. The ten leads and we both call.

On 6th the ten catches bad, I catch a 6, and the queen catches a ten… AND BETS.

I cant fucking believe my good fortune. I raise the other guy out and this dip shit calls.

On 7th, I don’t improve but I have a 76 so I bet it and HE RAISES ME.

THIS CAN’T BE FUCKING REAL. It can’t be.

I call. He shows a 65.

HOLY FUCK.

I have 85k after losing this 238k pot.

UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE.

I am literally BOILING right now.

How is this my summer?

12:41 AM: And after playing at the same table for 13+ hours I get moved to balance with 30 minutes left so I don’t even get a chance to double through the jackass that got me.

12:56 AM: I’m out. What a day. Lose a 240k pot for a top 5 stack in the most ridiculous fashion ever in the second to last level of the night and then bust with 15 minutes left in the day.

Good night.

h1

WSOP $1500 H.O.R.S.E.: Let’s Repeat!

June 6, 2018

Not much time to write before the event starts. Tormund ended up taking 142nd in the Colossus for a smallish cash and I played 15/30 O8 cash at Orleans with The Atom for a bit before running out of steam early and booking a +$18.

Just registered the $1500 HORSE with The Joker. I took 5th in this one last year so hoping this is the event to activate some run good for me.

Pacific Northwesterner Adam Coates is still alive in the $10k O8 event. There are six players left. He’s second in chips. First place is over $400k. Holy. Shit. I can’t even comprehend the level of that sweat. PNW has come up just short twice already but I have a feeling about this one. There’s a mega short stack, but Adam is gonna have to go through superstars Eli Elezra and Paul Volpe to pull this off. Good luck!

The Joker just took this seat to the right of a Poker Hall of Famer… Barbara Enright. Eh. Could be worse. No one else at my table with tournament starting in 4 minutes.

I might post some hands and I’ll definitely post stack updates on breaks but my focus is going to be on… focusing.

Let’s go.

First Break: 6225

My starting table is amazing, so that’s a frustrating start. No strong players and multiple weaklings.

This first break was mostly a battle against my blood sugar. I had to change the batteries in my PDM for my Omnipod, I had to change my pod, and I had to change my Dexcom sensor.

Then I ate.

For some reason I forgot how to properly change my batteries so my whole PDM resets and doesn’t do bolus calculations for like three hours. And often, when I change my pod my first few boluses seem to have little affect.

So when it was time to configure my sensor with my current blood sugar, I was over 400. It wouldn’t even calibrate.

My last check was 478, but my check before that was 477 so it seems to finally be leveling out and hopefully going down from there.

Needless to say, I haven’t been in my comfort zone.

The Atom has over 16k at first break. Joker is at 5800.

2:26 PM: The biggest punter at my table is felted and I have less chips than I started with. No justice.

2:49 PM: I just brought it in with a 5 up in Razz. Pretty cool.

From The Joker, in regards to Barbara Enright, Poker Hall of Famer:

Lhe Ep raise Barbara defends. Flop q64ss she donks. He flats. Turn 3c she bets again and calls the raise. River 7c she check calls he has AQ she rolls 37hh 🀣

Just a pure torch from a “legend” of the game. A prime example of why you shouldn’t worry about name players until you actually see how they play.

3:43 PM: Just met Chris “DeathDonkey” Vitch and he told me he reads my blog which kind of blew my mind although it probably shouldn’t – we both post semi-regularly in the Limit Hold’em forums on Two Plus Two.

13,675 after four levels.

Adam Coats still alive with four left in the $10k O8. I tried to snap a pic but the quality was garbage.

6:17 PM: Adam doing work:

There are still four players remaining. They have really been battling it out.

I’m sitting on 19.8k on dinner break, which should be well above average. The worst players at my table have busted but it’s still pretty good.

My most notable hands:

Before the first break, I played a weird stud hand where I opened with K8-T because there were three jacks up behind me and nothing else to worry about.

The first jack up calls me and we both brick on 4th street and he calls again.

I make a pair of kings on 5th and I’m jolted into shock when my opponent raises with his board showing xx-J67 rainbow with two jacks dead. So bewildering. He doesn’t have jacks and if he called with a draw, it hasn’t developed. So he’s saying he has 76-J67 or… 77-J67? Bizarre he would call with either of those hands with two jacks dead. I guess 98-J76 makes some sense.

Either way, never folding here. I call and make open kings on 6th and it’s probably optimistic to think I can check-raise this card, but that’s what I try to do and it checks through.

I don’t fill up on 7th, but I do bet for value and get paid off. My hand is good.

Dang. I had another good hand but I’ve been sitting here for 20+ minutes trying to jog my memory and it hasn’t happened yet… so PUBLISH.

8:00 PM: Adam just busted the $10k O8 in 3rd place for $181k. What a sick run. The PNW continues to represent!

9:11 PM: Sitting on over 40k coming back to 300/600 blinds.

One fun hand: I open with split aces in Stud high and only the bring-in calls.

I catch an offsuit six and he catches paint and he calls my bet.

On 5th I catch an offsuit three and he catches a king and I decide that if I was on a steal here I would give up, so I go ahead and check-raise. He calls.

He calls on 6th and 7th also and I end up making aces and nines to win a big one.

Tormund is making a deep run in the $250 Deep Stack and is currently in the money with a pretty decent stack.

The Atom and The Joker are out of the HORSE event.

Two more levels tonight and I’m in great shape to advance.

9:42 PM: Registration is closed with 731 entrants. 328 are left and 110 cash. $202k up top.

And Phil Ivey just entered right before this level started.

11:21 PM: Well, I made it to Day 2 for the first time this series, but what a disastrous last two levels. I am bagging 23.3k.

Here are some of the worst hands from these two levels:

I open in o8 and call a 3-bet with AK32 double suited. Flop is Q73 with two of my ace high suit. I check-raise and he calls. Not much that can go wrong here, right?

Turn is a 2. Oh wait. Yeah. That can happen. I decide to keep on betting because I do have two pair and the nut flush draw and that could be a counterfeit card for him also. He calls.

River was a 9 and at this point I don’t know if I’m bluffing or value betting so I check and call when he bets and I have to chop with a naked A4. Ugh.

Stud Hi, there’s a limp, I raise with K9-Q all diamonds and two players call.

I spike a king on 4th and they both call again.

On 5th street I get raised by a board showing three spades. I strongly consider folding but I still have a three flush and a pair, so there are 6th street cards I can continue on and he may not have a flush yet. I call.

I make open kings on 6th and I’m somewhat surprised to see it go check-check.

I brick the river and still check and this time he bets. I call because I’m confused now.

He shows an ace high flush and a pair of aces. He said he had aces on 3rd and a flush draw on 5th and got there on 7th. Kind of a strange line with AA-8, but pretty crafty.

The hand that broke my spirit:

Folds to me in Stud 8 and I’m in a good spot to steal with 8J-8. Only the bring-in defends.

I catch a 4 and he catches a queen and calls my bet.

On 5th street I catch a queen and he catches a jack and decides to lead out. I think he thinks I’m going low and I’m quite confident I have the best hand – especially since I have a queen and a jack and it would be weird for him to defend with either of those cards in the hole. I raise. I expect him to fold here. He doesn’t.

On 6th I catch a blank and he makes open sixes and bets out. I’m so perplexed I end up calling him down even though I don’t improve and he does have three sixes.

Holy shit. I can’t really wrap my mind around this hand. I get his thinking on 5th but seems like it should be a fold when I’m blocking multiple outs. I dunno… but it stung.

Finally, there’s a button open in o8 and I 3-bet AJT2 double suited. He calls.

Flop is A98 with two spades. Not great. Not terrible. I bet and he raises. Now it’s really not great. My low draw is already counterfeit and I do have a straight draw but only three of my outs are scoopers. I do have a flush draw but it’s only ten high and the ace on the flop is the non-spade so he has the nut flush here a lot. I call because it seems like the right thing to do.

Turn is a 5 and I check-call again. Maybe another small card gets me half also?

River is a ten and I’m pretty happy when it goes check-check and he turns his hand over and I don’t see a low. Looks like a scoop for me! Uh, nope. He has AQJx with a busted nut flush draw… but his QJ is the mortal nut for high and he doesn’t even know he has it. I get scooped.

So yeah, pretty brutal last couple levels.

We restart at noon tomorrow with blinds at 500/1000 so not the end of the world but not what I was thinking would happen when I was sitting on 50k three hours ago.

I played a decent amount with Andrey Zaichenko ($3 million in lifetime cashes) and… what a piece of work. I didn’t know who he was until I saw him write his name on his bag, but he was messing around on his iPad the whole time, not paying attention to anything, constantly being asked to ante, putting his antes right in front of him so the dealers couldn’t reach it, and not folding his upcards. I thought he was a dick before I knew who he was and I still think he’s a dick.

Tormund is making a really deep run in the $250 Daily Deep Stack. There are 40 players left out of 1050 and $36k for first place. I’m grabbing some food with The Atom and going to sweat him a bit but I’m not looking to stay here much later.

Restart at noon!

1:25 AM: Tormund still in with 14 left. They are flying out of this thing. Looks like I’m gonna see it through.

1:46 AM: Tormund heading to the final table, let’s go!

2:40 AM: Tormund busts in 8th when he reshoves AK vs AQ and the blind wakes up with TT and holds to bust them both.

Sleep time.

DAY TWO

11:59AM: Only player whose name I know at my starting table is Tony Ma and most of his success was over 15 years ago. I am slightly below average and somehow have the most chips at my table. Pretty crazy coincidence. Still lots of play for these games though. 205 remain. 95 spots until the money.

Leggo.

12:06 PM: Rep Porter, Kate Hoang, Tommy Hang, Ian Johns, Scott Clements are some of the players still in with Washington roots.

12:15 PM: Early scoop! I make a flush in a 3-way Stud 8 pot with Tony Ma showing xx-26A7 on his board and somehow pays me off without a low.

39k

12:24 PM: Yikes. Running good. I open QQ under the gun, next player calls and big blind defends.

Flop AJ8, big blind donks, I peel, cold caller raises, and we both call. My plan is to fold unimproved.

Turn is a ten, the second best card in the deck for me as it gives me eight additional outs. I check-call and we are heads up.

River is a beautiful 9. I lead and my opponent reluctantly calls with AJ.

I c-bet a set of 9s in a 3-bet pot after that and got a fold.

51.1k

12:35 PM: Ugh. Scooped with AQJ3 by A552 on a Q98(rainbow)75 runout. He called turn for over half his stack and catches his only scoop card. What. Just brutal.

41.1k

12:50 PM: Phil Hellmuth is two tables behind me and I just heard someone there call him an “idiot player.”

Sigh. Someone just 3-bet me all in in Razz with 62-6 and gets a triple up. Why?

36.5k

What a volatile start.

1:18 PM: Start with a three flush in Stud Hi and get 3-bet by an ace up. I immediately improve to a four flush but this guy’s board on 5th is xx-AAA. Come on.

33.7k

1:31 PM: Ughggggg. Just got scooped in a massive 4-way pot in Stud 8 when I have 32-45 on 4th and only one ace dead. Got back-to-back bricks and had to pay three big bets to see 7th. So sick.

18k

1:47 PM: 10 bigs starting the flop games. Need a lot of love here. 40 spots off the money atm.

2:04 PM: What an absolutely painful start. The thrill of immediately chipping up to 50k only to have it disappear just as fast.

That Stud 8 pot is going to be one I remember forever. If I can find an ace or six I scoop that monster and I’d be sitting with like 70k right now. I have some thoughts about 7th street on that one I might extrapolate on later. I think there’s some chance I can win half of that pot.

Anyways, I’m sitting on 11k at the first break and I’ll be coming back to a big blind of 1500 with like six hands of o8 left.

We are still about 40 spots off the money and it’s definitely looking grim but I’m not dead yet!

2:31 PM: Heading to the ante games with two big bets. GL all in!

2:54 PM: Super cold in Razz (although I did get the 88-8 one time) and I’m all the way down to 4400 after antes and a 6 up opens so I raise my first playable hand and we get it all in. I start with 26-7 and he has A3-6.

Fortunately his final board is A3-6QQ8-J.

Unfortunately my final board is 26-7K5K-2.

There are roughly 130 players left when I bust – 20 spots off the money – and for the second time in three years I turn a 50k+ stack on Day 2 of HORSE into a non-cash.

My frustration level right now is so high I was in an Uber back to my timeshare before I even considered what I wanted to do next.

I’m going to cool off and possibly nap for a few hours and go from there. I probably won’t play again today as I have some stuff to catch up on anyway. I’ll put in a power cash session somewhere tomorrow and my next event will be the WSOP $1500 8-Game Mix on Saturday.

h1

2017 WSOP Trip Report – Part Two (the good stuff)

July 5, 2017

This is the second part of my 2017 World Series Of Poker trip report. In Part One I talked about the six non-WSOP events I played and the few cash game sessions I put in. This post will be all about the 2017 WSOP.

Those of you that are friends with me on Facebook know that I like to post sweat threads for most of the bigger events that I play in and I post a decent amount of critical hands on there. Not only does it make it more fun for anyone following, but it also gives me a great reference point for when I type up these blog posts. However, there are times when I’m not posting because I really need to focus so I’ll do my best to recall what I can.

My first WSOP event of the year was the $1500 Omaha 8 or Better, which was the only event I played in the 2016 WSOP that I didn’t go deep in. I’m looking at my sweat thread right now and I actually didn’t post a single hand in it and I honestly can’t think of any specific hands that really stand out. Starting stacks were 7500 and it looks like I peaked on Day One at around 18K at the end of the 200/400 level. There was a key blind versus blind hand at the start of the 250/500 level where I lost a bundle. My comment on Facebook says: “flopped the world and then counterfeit, counterfeit to get scooped.” If I remember correctly, I had an A23X hand where I went three bets with the small blind preflop and then I flopped the nut flush draw with three nut low draws and I paired on the turn and river, to give me two pair and a live card low, while my opponent made a wheel. I continued to lose chips, getting as low as 4300 before finding a double up just before the end of Day 1. I bagged 10,100 with blinds starting at 600/1200 on Day 2, putting me at 220th of 254 remaining, and only 136 players cashing – happy to still be alive, but not looking like a favorite to cash.

I did get to play with Jason Mercier for the first time on Day 1, but it was for a very short time. However, it was still notable, because he was sitting on my left and the player to his left was playing 30/60 limit hold em on Ignition while playing in this tournament and Jason keep peeking over at his iPad and making comments about the action. After watching this happen for quite some time, I finally said: “I wonder if anyone on that table would believe you if you said you were colluding with Jason Mercier right now.” Obviously, not a serious accusation on my part.

I led off Day 2 by getting scooped in my first confrontation, which left me with 4.5 big blinds, but I tripled up on my all in and an hour into Day 2 I had 32,000 in chips and over 15 big blinds. This gave me a relatively comfortable stack that I nursed over the next couple hours, but by the time the money bubble approached, I was back in the danger zone, with 4.5 bigs on the stone bubble. Daniel Weinman bet me $20 that I couldn’t remember the names of everyone at our table after the bubble burst, so when we all made the money, I happily collected from him also. I did triple up again, but my run finally came to an end when I called a raise with Ad4dQ3, saw the Qd5d3 flop, and eventually got all in on the turn, which was a 7. Obviously that was a very good flop for my hand, as it is really difficult to scoop me while I should have plenty of scooping potential. However, my opponent had a pretty miraculous A277, and a brick river gave him the knockout and I had to settle for 105th place and $2315.

Next up in the WSOP for me was the $565 No Limit Hold Em Colossus. Just like in 2016, I waited until the last flight to play this event. You only start with 5000 in chips, so it tends to play pretty fast. If you lose with a big hand early, you are likely to be out or crippled – there just isn’t much room for error or big folds. The first notable pot I played, I open with 33 from late position to 150 at the 25/50 level and only one of the blinds defends. The flop is AA3, with two diamonds, and she check-calls a bet of 150. The turn is a 9d and she check-calls 400. River is a 6 and she checks to me again. On the turn, I had determined that she was pretty strong, likely holding an ace or a flush, so I decided to go for full value by jamming 3600 into a 1500 pot. I guess it was a bad move because she tanked for a long time and finally folded 75dd face up. The early stages of this tournament are filled with recreational players so I just don’t expect people to fold hands that strong very often at all. On the other side of the coin, a lot of those recreational players might have taken time off work and flown down to Vegas just to play the Colossus and probably don’t want to bust during the first level… so maybe I misread the situation. Either way, a pretty sick fold that felt like a big missed opportunity for me – she’s probably calling 1000 100% of the time.

After four levels, I had built my starting stack up to 13.5K and I had it up to 18K during level five before losing with AA to J7 (!) and falling back down to 12.5K. By the 500/1000/100 level with the money bubble in sight, I was sitting on a 27K stack and playing poker with Cate Hall for the first time. I won’t go as far as to call Cate unlikable, but in this sample size of one encounter, she’s been one of the least friendly famous pros I’ve played with. She stared daggers at her opponents, had big headphones on, and I don’t think she said a word to anyone, except to ask for a chip count. In fact, I three bet jammed on her once with AK suited and had my chips in perfect stacks of 20 and totally visible, as easy to count as possible, and she still asked me how much I started the hand with. I had to resist the urge to burst out laughing at how comical that was. I’m not saying that everyone that has had success and becomes recognizable has to be an ambassador for the game and always be approachable and friendly, but I do think it’s a better table presence than being stone-faced and quiet all day. Shrug.

We reached hand-for-hand play around 11:30 PM, needing to lose one or two players to make the money. At this point, there were roughly 55 tables running, so each table had to deal one hand and then stand up and wait for all the other tables to finish. With that many tables, it seems like the bubble would burst on the first hand most of the time. I’m not sure how many hands were actually dealt because there was a lot of sitting around and waiting going on, but amazingly, no one busted for 45 minutes. Considering the circumstances, it was the sickest bubble I’ve ever seen. Shortly after the bubble burst, I jammed about 12 bigs from the button with QJ and it folded to Cate in the big blind, who tanked for a while before finding the call with A4 and doubling up through me. I got my remaining five bigs in shortly after and lost that confrontation, busting in 309th place and cashing the Colossus for the second straight year.

Next up was the $1500 H.O.R.S.E., an event that I really felt like I had something to prove in. I made it to Day 2 of it last year with over 50K in chips and managed not to cash after running a five street bluff and whiffing 20+ outs against a pair of 7s that called every street. Ultimately, I busted seven spots away from the money. In my initial post of my sweat thread on Facebook, I had this to say: “Not all tournaments are created equal: I want this one more than the others.” I had a really good starting table in this event, with zero notable players, three different players I had history with and none of them were strong. I felt like it was a pretty fortunate situation, especially when I glanced at the table behind me and saw at least four bracelet winners sitting together: Greg Raymer (1), Anthony Zinno (1), Vanessa Selbst (3) and Ian Johns (3). LOL! I chipped up steadily over the first four levels, with a stack of 11K at the first break and 17k by the second break. Unfortunately, tables were breaking the wrong way and my easy table broke and I got placed with 2015 WSOP Player Of The Year Mike Gorodinsky and another elite pro in Connor Drinan. I had just under 20k at the dinner break and I was mostly flat for the last five levels of the night before going on a little rush before the end of the day and bagging 30,800.

Day 2 started with 175 players and 111 of us would cash. I started Day 2 with 60% of the chips I started it with last year and I got a good taste of how bad I punted when I cruised to the money with ease this year. I’m not suggesting I played that big pot poorly and I would probably take the same line again, but it’s pretty clear that pot was the reason I didn’t cash last year. I was a little below average when the money bubble burst, but I had 62K after scooping a well known pro in a hand I thought was a little weird. I defended my big blind heads up with Q532 and check-called a bet on an A65 flop. I turned a Q and decided to lead out and my opponent called. The river was another A and since I expected my opponent to have one most of the time when he opened-raised from middle position, I checked and planned to call, hoping to get half. He did bet and I was pretty shocked when he turned over a naked 43 low and I got the scoop. I lost a big pot in limit hold em when the button opened and I three bet KK from the small blind and Don Zewin four bet from the big blind. The three of us saw an Ace high flop and, having no history with Zewin, I just check-called it down and he showed me TT, which turned a set. Having played with Zewin now and watching him play on the live stream of a later final table, I would have at least folded the river because he’s actually a pretty huge nit.

I ended up busting Mike Gorodinksy in this tournament, which is pretty notable because I had seen him go all in around 15 times (no exaggeration) and stay alive already. In fact, I had already joked with him that I was going to get all in for the first time of the whole tournament and end up busting before him. Alas, we got it in preflop when I had AJ92 and he had AT53 and I was in terrible shape after the flop came T62, but the board ran out a miraculous J-6 and I finally got rid of the toughest opponent at my table. I had 60k after that hand and then I played a huge Razz pot that really got my adrenaline pumping. The player on my left was playing super aggressive and seemed to have no method to his madness – just pure unrestrained aggression. I completed on third street and the player to my left reraised and we were heads up. I wasn’t planning to make a lot of folds against this player but he caught perfect on 4th, 5th, and 6th, while I caught bad, but not terrible cards. On the end I had a 9 low and he had a 456 showing on 5th street! Obviously, any number of those cards could have paired him and this player was very likely to run a big bluff, so after being in the tank for several minutes on 7th, I finally looked directly at him and said “I can only beat a bluff” and as soon as I said that he gulped. I actually laughed out loud after seeing that because the timing was so perfect I had to wonder if it was intentional, but at that point folding was out of the question and I put the call in and won a massive pot that put me just under 100K as we headed to dinner break with 47 left.

After dinner, the heater was officially on. I had 268k by the next break. We had a redraw at 27 left and there was nothing but wizards at my table… and then the last seat was filled by Wayne LaMonica. The first hand we played was Razz and LaMonica was first to act after the bring in and, at a table full of world beaters acting behind him, he completed from first position with the worst up card (a 10)! Naturally, moments later, someone busted at another table and LaMonica was moved to balance and the reactions from my table were hysterical. Basically everyone made some sort of audible groan while Max Pescatori actually asked the TD “are you sure that’s right” and A.J. Kelsall to my right mumbled “this can’t be real.” I ended up bagging 243k which put me in the top half of the remaining 18 players advancing to Day 3.

On Day 3, I went into hyper focus mode and didn’t post any updates at all on Facebook, but I can recall a couple of key pots I played leading up to the final table. The first one was against Esther Taylor when I defended a JJ97 against her open. I check-called the T82 flop and then check-called when the 2 paired on the turn. I don’t think she has a full house very often and I expected to scoop with a Q, J, or 9 river. The river was a perfect J and I lead out. I don’t know how great my river lead is since I expect her to bet all her A2 hands, especially the ones that are full, but I hate missing value on the river by trying to check-raise, especially when accumulating chips is so important, as it is in tournaments. Another key pot was against Max Pescatori. I can’t remember if I defended my big blind against an UTG open or if we were heads up in the blinds, but I do know I had a disguised AJ2X holding and I rivered a jack high flush on a double paired board and bet for value and got paid off.

By the time the final table was set, I was second in chips with 720k and only LaManiac (sorry, too easy) had more than I did. I had now cashed 6 of my last 8 WSOP events and was making my second final table appearance in 12 lifetime tournaments. Not bad! And it was particularly satisfying to final table the H.O.R.S.E., as it’s more of a testament to being an all around good player.

The final table was absolutely loaded: Max Pescatori is a four-time bracelet winner; David “Bakes” Baker and Brandon Shack-Harris are both multiple bracelet winners; David Singer won his second bracelet in this event; E-Tay is well-known high stakes cash game regular with over $800K in lifetime tournament winnings; and Kyle Loman and A.J. Kelsall appear to known quantities with rising status. I’d say that Kevin LaMonica and myself were the only total unknowns at the final table.

LaMonica was playing very crazy at the final table, doing things like straddling in limit hold em and completing dark first to act in the stud games, regardless of what his up card was. My wife made a comment on Facebook during this stage of the tournament saying that “one player is dumping chips to everybody but Mac (me).” Indeed, he had doubled up multiple short stacks in very precarious spots, but I did appreciate the fact that all of my formidable opponents were always at risk any time they entered a pot. However, it is safe to say that David Singer probably wouldn’t have won a bracelet in this event without a strong assist from LaMonica. I felt pretty unfortunate that I never really benefited from having such a loose, reckless player at the table.

Brandon Shack-Harris and E-Tay got their small stacks in a couple of times with safe results before eventually busting in 9th and 8th places, respectively.

With 7 players left, I found myself holding a four flush on 4th street in Stud high against Max who had an obvious pair of kings. I raised Max on 4th, planning to go with this hand and Wayne LaMonica came along also, and Max called. LaMonica paired the 10 he caught on 4th and checked to Max who lead out again. I had just under three big bets left and wasn’t planning to fold and I honestly didn’t think I’d lose LaMonica by raising – he’s the last player I’d expect to fold open tens – so I raised it up to get all in, LaMonica did fold (!), and Max put me all in. I didn’t have to sweat long as my next card gave me a flush and I more than doubled up.

Kyle Loman and “Bakes” busted in 7th and 6th shortly after and I headed to dinner break with 826K, which put me in third of the remaining five players. Max and A.J. were both coming back to less than 12 big blinds, so I really liked my chances of finishing in at least 3rd.

Unfortunately, I doubled Max up almost immediately after the dinner break when I opened with 76-3 two spades in Stud 8 and he defended with a 3 up. On 4th street, he caught a 4 and I caught the king of spades, which was a bad, but not terrible card. He’s never folding on 4th, so betting my hand doesn’t make any sense, so I checked it over and he bet. I’m no Stud 8 expert, so I really don’t know if folding or calling is correct here. It just seems like there are too many good 5th street cards for me to give up, so I made the call. Obviously I would fold if I bricked 5th, but I caught a ten of spades. Even though Max caught a 6 and could be freerolling me at that point, I had to make the call as Max was all in. Max had two pair and a three low at that point, so I was actually in a pretty decent spot to bust him; he bricked on 6th and I caught an Ace for some split potential but the 9d on 7th totally bricked me and Max got a full double.

I ended up opening another Stud 8 hand that I had to fold on 3rd (correctly) after the action got too hot behind me and finally I opened the 88-5, LaMonica called, and David Singer reraised from the bring in, I called and Lamonica folded (weird). Singer caught a 7 on 4th and I caught the 9 of clubs, giving me a three flush. I checked and Singer bet… It seemed like I had the best hand for high and I only had about 1.5 small bets left so I just went with it. Unfortunately, Singer had buried aces and I was in bad shape. I caught running deuces on 5th and 6th to take the lead, as Singer caught low and a brick, but he made two pair on 7th, and I would need to fill up to stay alive. I didn’t and I busted in 5th for around $45,000.

Obviously this was an amazing finish for me. It was my biggest tournament cash ever and my second final table in my last eight WSOP events. I’m really proud of myself, but in retrospect, I wish I would have played tighter in Stud 8. Fact of the matter is, I felt lost in a lot of the pots I played and the pay jumps were immense. Max Pescatori ended up busting less than ten minutes after I did and he made an extra $18,000 – that’s pretty huge. I would have felt a lot better losing my stack in Hold Em or Omaha because I would know I was making the right plays. In Stud 8, I’m not sure if I made mistakes or if I just got unlucky. Either way, it’s a clear area to focus on leading up to next year’s Series.

I got to play with a lot of notable pros in this event and all the people I final tabled with in this event were class acts with good senses of humor. Wayne LaMonica was an amazing presence and a game-changer at the table. Some of what I have said here may seem disparaging, but he took on a table full of players that were undoubtedly all better than him and played with absolutely no fear. He ended up going heads up with David Singer for the bracelet and had Singer almost all the way to the felt before Singer made an epic comeback to capture his second bracelet. Esther Taylor, Kyle Loman, and Max Pescatori were all really cool and E-Tay actually invited Dina and I to hang out, but we were unable to ever make it happen, which is pretty damn disappointing, as mingling with the elite players of poker is definitely something I’m interested in doing. I also got approached by Daniel Negreanu during one of the breaks in this event and we actually had a real conversation about the difficulties of balancing a relationship during the WSOP. I have to say it was pretty wild being treated as a peer by arguably the most famous poker player in the world.

My next WSOP event was the $1500 8-Game. I have to admit a hit a wall during this event. I had played 41 hours of H.O.R.S.E. over the previous four days and by about the sixth level of this tournament I could feel the exhaustion overpowering me. I felt like I got a pretty good starting table in this event, but I wasn’t really able to take advantage of the situation. I had a really loose player on my direct left that basically played every pot and played hyper aggressive. He was playing totally reckless and putting bad beats on everyone. I only beat him in one pot, when I flopped a set of sixes in limit Hold Em and he gave me max action. The rest of the time, I just lost every single pot to him, while he sprayed my chips around the table to everyone else.

I was down to 4k in the fourth level when I flatted a raise in no limit Hold Em with AJ of diamonds. I got my stack in after a flop of J64 in which my opponent flopped the nut flush draw with AK of clubs. He missed and I scored a full double up. I had a little over 12k after four levels and I didn’t really gain any momentum either way over the next four hours, but managed to peak at 16.5k heading into the last two levels of play for the night. At this point there were 160 or so players left and 70 of us would cash, but I was sitting on a below average stack.

As a limit specialist, it’s in my best interest to avoid big clashes in the big bet games (no limit Hold Em and pot limit Omaha) but I found myself in exactly that kind of spot when it folded to me on the button in PLO and I had the AJ97 double suited. This is a standard open, but my problem was that I knew the guy on my left was going to three bet pretty much every time – it’s what he’d been doing all day long no matter what game we were playing. So if I opened this hand, I knew that he was going to pot it and at that point he’d have half his stack in and we were going to have to play for the whole thing because there was no way I’m ever folding. And that’s what happened. He had AK53 and we both made club flushes, but his was the nuts and I went from having a decent stack to having a short stack. I didn’t find any good spots in the ante games to get all in, but I picked up pocket tens in no limit Hold Em and got my last ten bigs in, but David “ODB” Baker called me from the big blind with A8 and I couldn’t beat it at showdown. So I busted in 132nd at 1:15 AM after 10 hours of play and felt like I’d never been that tired in my life. I had been grinding mix game tournaments 10 hours a day for five straight days and my brain was ready for a break!

I ended up taking the next day off, but the following day I was playing what would be my last event of the 2017 World Series of Poker: the $1500 Limit Hold Em. No doubt about it, limit Hold Em is my strongest game and I suspect that I have more recent experience in this variant than 95% of the field. I got off to a rough start, dipping down to 5500 quickly, but I had an epic third level and emerged as the early chip lead of the tournament. In level three alone, I flopped three sets AND quads once and made it to showdown in every single hand. I also had an incredibly sick hand that I didn’t win. I had AK in a 5-way pot that was capped preflop where I got a QTxJT run out versus JJ. By the end of the level I had just over 19k despite losing that 8500 pot!

I was up to 24.5k after six levels and was getting to play with Barry Greenstein for the first time. I had gone through a dry spell and had only shown down one hand since Barry sat down (pocket aces), so I was pretty surprised when he called my UTG raise next to act at a 9-handed table and ended up showing me A5 of clubs to beat my AQ. That’s like a 0% play in my game, especially at a tight table, so it really makes you wonder. Barry was super cool though – funny and very friendly. Our table was pretty tough, so I appreciated it when it was breaking and he looked at me and said “pretty much any table out there has to be better than this one.”

My first significant pot at my new table is one of the most interesting LHE hand I’ve ever played. I got a free look with 98 from the big blind after four players limped and the small blind completed. The flop was T63 rainbow and one of the limpers bet, followed by calls from two more limpers, the small blind, and myself. The turn card was a J of spades, putting two spades on board. This time it checked around to the button and he fired in a bet. The small blind folded and I decided that the button’s range was too wide not to exploit. It’s unlikely he flopped top pair or better after flatting on the flop and it’s hard to imagine what hands he calls the flop with that have a jack in it, so I raised and the rest of the field folded. He called and the river was an ace. I continued my story and fired another bluff and he went into the tank for many minutes. In fact, I’ve never seen someone think so long in a limit format. And then he called… with Q9 of spades. Yes. Queen high. So sick! It seemed pretty genius until he said he put me on the 54 of spades, which makes it sound like he called because he thought of one hand he could beat. I peaked around 30k, but wound up bagging 14.4k after my 99 got beat in a big pot by AT. That put me 106th of 132 remaining players heading to Day 2 with 93 of us cashing. Maybe I’ll bag a big stack one of these days and not have to sweat the bubble? Not this year!

I started Day 2 off ice cold. In the first 75 minutes I only played two pots both of which I defended a raise from my big blind. I did score a double up when I got a T64QT run out with QT versus AQ, but that just got me back to where I started the day. Finally after over an hour of folding everything, someone in front of me raised and I played to get it in with AQ. He had AK, but I flopped top two pair and scored the double up. By the end of the first break, nearing the money bubble, I had built my stack up to a respectable 47.8K.

That was good enough to get my fourth WSOP cash of the summer, but I went right back into ice cold mode. By the time we had played four hour long levels, I had only entered a pot outside of the blinds five times – that’s just over one hand an hour! I dwindled all the way back down to 15k before doubling up with the K9 versus 77 and getting back up to 46k and immediately lost with AK to JJ and fell right back down to 15k.

I finally found some momentum by tripling up and then peaking at 70k after I opened with AQ and rivered Broadway against Alex Luneau. The rush I’d been waiting all day for was immediately extinguished, however, when the button tried to steal the blinds with 87o and I woke up with AA and lost a number of bets to his flopped two pair. I did end up busting Luneau to chip up a little bit one last time, but the same player that cracked my aces opened from middle position with A7o and I played to get it in with 88 and he made trips to bust me in 45th place for $3500.

I suppose I was happy to make a deep run despite having very little to work with on Day 2 and I should have busted with that AQ versus AK most of the time, so it’s hard to complain, but losing with those aces after being so card dead all day when I had finally caught some real momentum stung. If I had won that pot, I would have been a top 15 stack with less than 50 players left and had a real chance at making another final table run. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and the guy that crippled and then busted me went on to a 4th place finish.

So that was my 2017 World Series of Poker. After this event, I was in 27th place on WSOP Player of the Year leaderboard, which kind of blew my mind. I really wonder what I could have accomplished if I kept plugging along, but I busted my last event on the 13th and I didn’t fly out of Vegas until the 21st and in between I just played the downtown tournaments I talked about in Part One.

I can’t help but feel like this was another wasted opportunity and a little bit of poor planning on my part. My wife made a deal with me that I could stay for the whole Series if I made a final table – and then I did that. But what I should have done is flown home after busting the Limit Hold Em event, take a week off to relax and study, and then flown back in time for the $1500 NLHE Monster Stack and a number of tournaments I was interested in to follow. But instead, I burned myself out in the downtown events and I was ready to come home and any chance I had of being relevant in the Player of the Year race evaporated.

Still, it was another great Series for me, as I cashed for the seventh time in my last ten WSOP events and made a final table for the second consecutive year in what has been a pretty limited schedule. Next year – barring the addition of a newborn or the latest stages of a pregnancy – I will be staying for the whole Series and playing my biggest schedule yet, possibly including my first Main Event. I’m planning to drive myself down and I might fly back if there is a big gap in between events I want to play, but otherwise I will be in Vegas all six weeks. I owe it to myself to really see what I can do over a full schedule and I think that I have proven that I am capable of playing for bracelets, so that’s my new goal: I want to win a bracelet.