Posts Tagged ‘tournament poker’

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Muckleshoot Spring Classic $300 No Limit Hold’em (Updates)

March 16, 2018

As expected, I didn’t get to sleep until super late Wednesday and then, on top of that, I woke up multiple times throughout the night, so I made the prudent decision of skipping the $200 no limit hold’em tournament yesterday and basically took the day off instead, writing my MLB win totals post and watching March Madness games.

I actually did wind up playing a decent slate of online tournaments on Global Poker:

  • $5.50 $5K GTD NLHE Rebuy
  • $33 $8K GTD NLHE 2R/1A
  • $5.50 $750 GTD PLO Rebuy
  • $55 NLHE (deep)
  • $11 $250 GTD Limit Hold’em
  • $22 NLHE 2R/1A
  • $11 $500 GTD PLO 2R/1A

*note: 2R/1A means two rebuys and one add on.

I ended cashing in 3 of my 7 events, final tabling both PLOs, finishing in 5th and 3rd. I also took 11th in the $8K GTD. I was making a decent run in the $5K rebuy but ran KK into AA for 30 bigs each.

All in all, a small little profit for the day while I was relaxing at home watching basketball.

I honestly kind of hate the Muckleshoot Classic series. It is unbelievable that in the 6+ years I’ve been playing in it they have basically made no adjustments. It is still a five day series that has five no limit hold’em events. Ugh. A little variety couldn’t possibly hurt. It’s probably asking too much to expect them to do an 8-Game tournament or a H.O.R.S.E., but not having a PLO event on the schedule in 2018 blows my mind. You’re telling me a $200 PLO with re-entries event wouldn’t be wildly popular?

Of the five events, I think the $750 Main is the only must play and the only one I actually look forward to. I basically never play the whole series and almost always skip the $500 tournament.

There is the $200 limit Omaha 8 or Better tournament, but they treat it like a bad step child they hope no one notices. It doesn’t get its own day of the series. Instead, it’s buried at 7 PM on the first night and they think it’s so prestigious it doesn’t even qualify for points in the Player of the Series competition. In other words, it’s not really part of the series.

Eh. I don’t expect them to make changes at this point. I asked for a PLO tournament a year or two ago and made a good argument but nothing changed and maybe it never will. I’m sure the no limit hold’em specialists love this series, but I’m close to the point where I may start coming out for the Main Event only.

The Leak accompanied me to the Muck today and this will probably be one of maybe three tournaments she’ll play all year. I asked my CPA if we could write her tournament buy ins off as a charitable donation earlier this week and was informed that we cannot.

Cards will be in the air in about 15 minutes. I will be posting stack updates and some hands here and there.

12:06 PM: We appear to have started with 12k in chips, but I’m not entirely sure because I have 10.5k after triple barreling TT28T with J9 and getting picked off by AQ.

12:18 PM: Woah. The Leak just messaged me saying she doubled up already. Crazy! Details to come.

Puget Sound legends Rep Porter and Lee Markholt making appearances. When I call people legends I’m usually joking but these guys are legit superstars. Rep has three WSOP bracelets, Lee has a WPT title, and both of these monsters are in the top 5 of the Washington state all-time money list.

One seat at my table remains open and I recognize two of my eight current opponents. One is a Muck regular that ranks near me on the Washington state money list and the other is someone that plays at Palace that recently hit a massive Royal Flush jackpot and is someone I want at my table in limit hold’em.

12:33 PM: The Leak tells me she had AA and let her opponent bluff of his stack. No info on board texture or his hand though.

12:40 PM: Everyone asks me why I don’t play more no limit hold’em. It’s because I hate it. The pace of the game… all the posturing… Jesus, can we just get on with it? I know there are some spots that require some real thought, but the guys that take 20+ seconds every time they have anything but a standard fold spot are just terrible humans.

1:01 PM: Forgot to mention this but I ended yesterday’s March Madness action in 31st place of 31 entries in the bracket pool I’m in. I don’t know about you but I find that level of sucking quite impressive.

1:30 PM: 9150 on first break coming back to 100/200. The Leak has a ridiculous 36k stack.

Some other notables in the field: The Riddler, Bill W, Flexx, Slimer, Sandman, Solomon Grundy, decent amount of Palace regulars.

2:10 PM: Sick hand at my table not involving me: JJ vs 22 on J6225. 😮

Probably worth mentioning this now. We spent the first 20 minutes of this level talking about Global Poker and one of my tablemates was trying to sell his conspiracy theory that Global’s software “isn’t rigged,” but that “it’s not random,” and “more bad beats happen there than anywhere else” he’s ever played.

Then this JJ vs 22 hand happened and I said, “yup, that sort of thing never happens in real life.”

2:48 PM: Super card dead for first three hours so this was a nice reprieve: I open 500 with AA and button calls. Flop T98 with three diamonds, giving me the nut flush draw with my overpair. I started the hand with about 9k and there’s basically no scenario where I’m ever getting away from it. I bet 1000 and he calls. Turn pairs the 9, I bet 2500 and he calls. Ace on river relieves any concerns of being beat (not that I thought I was) and I stuff it for 5k. He doesn’t think too long before calling with AT and giving me a full double to 18.5k. Peaking!

3:27 PM: I have about 19k and The Leak has 39k on second break and coming back to 300/600 with big blind anteing an additional 600 each hand.

3:55 PM: One limper, SB completes, and I make it 2200 with QQ and the limper calls. Flop is K82 and I let him bluff off 7k with AJ by check-calling all three streets. He didn’t think about his decisions at all and kept the bets small (2k, 2k, 3k) so it was a pretty easy call down.

4:24 PM: Ouch. My table broke and my new table probably has 5-6 guys that are better than anyone else at my last table. Bad beat.

4:46 PM: When the small blind calls and you look down at QJ suited and think, “well, I can’t not raise this” and then they jam and you’re both 25+ bigs deep. 🤢🤢🤢

5:06 PM: The Leak and I are both in the 26k-28k range heading to dinner break. Blinds will be 600/1200 when we resume in 40 minutes.

6:55 PM: Didn’t play a hand forever and then a flurry of action.

I defend Q8ss, flop top pair on a super wet boar, but only get one street of action.

I open AQ and get jammed on by a short stack with KT and bust him.

Super active and hyperLAG opens to 4500, I flat with ATdd. I would have 3-bet jammed this on him a while ago, but I had chips all the sudden and wanted to take a flop with him. I call 7k on T52hhd and then bet 12k when the 2 pairs and gives me the nut flush draw, prepared to call a jam, but he folds.

7:26 PM: Open 4500 with AK and button calls. I c-bet T82 flop for 5k and he calls. Turn is an ace and I check-call 9k. River queen and I check-call 14k and he shows 33.

Peaking at 98k, coming back to 1200/2400. The Leak has 46k. There are seven tables left and less than 63 players. Can’t see how many cash or how many started.

7:52 PM: The Leak has busted. We are down to six tables and apparently 41 players cash. The money bubble is approaching.

Meanwhile… Virginia is in serious jeopardy of becoming the first #1 seed to lose in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Obviously, they are my champions.

8:24 PM: Down to 5 tables… four spots off the money.

It took 8.5 hours but someone is finally lighting me up for wearing a Blair Walsh jersey in a Seattle casino.

8:49 PM: Hand-for-hand, I’ll have 12 bigs after posting big blind and ante this next hand.

9:03 PM: Cashed it and then snap-doubled with 55 vs AK. Peaking at 105k.

9:20 PM: Freeroll is on. Under the gun opens and I jam 15 bigs on button when AQ and spike a queen vs AK for the full double.

197k now! 😮😮😮

9:36 PM: Four tables left.

9:48 PM: Open 21k @ 4k/8k and 8k ante with AA and someone flats in position. Flop 754 two hearts, I lead 30k (never folding), he jams, and I dodge his flush draw with AThh.

317k!

9:55 PM: Call a 5 BB jam from the big with Qc8. He shows A6ss and turns aces up but I river a four card flush with my Qc to bust him.

389k with 25 left. Average stack is 160k.

10:33 PM: Open 26k with A6cc from cutoff with big blind having 95k behind at 5k/10k. I would actually hate it if the big jams on me because he’s been playing kind of snug, so when that does happen I’m ever-so-slightly unprepared but after doing some shoddy math, I decide I have to go with it. He tables KQo and has a gut shot, flush draw, and two overs on the turn and bricks it all.

519k with 18 left.

The homie Christian is dealing and asked for a shout out and I kind of have to honor that request since he delivered that AQ > AK suck out to set this rush into motion.

A Kitsap County area player (and former softball teammate of mine) is at my table now making a deep run, something he’s done consistently over the past three Classic series. Kudos to him!

11:16 PM: Reshoved over a 10bb jam with AQ and the short stack has KK and doubles through me.

261k. Puts me close to average now with 16 left.

11:25 PM: Defend < 3bb open with A5dd and it checks around on A86hhh flop. I check-call 2.5bb on jack turn and inexplicably get a free showdown on jack river vs… AcKh!

Lost the pot but minimal damage vs his holding.

Down to 180k though.

Players busting all over the place. I think we are down to ten now, on the final table bubble.

Scratch that. 11 left.

11:52 PM: Chipped down in a blind vs blind situation but just made final table with a paltry 116k.

#Team10Bigs

Second final table of the series and third one in the last week? Seems decent for someone that doesn’t really play tournaments. And thank goodness the limit O8 tourney doesn’t count otherwise I’d be in the running for the $6k top prize for Player of the Series. 🤦🏻‍♂️😡

12:01 AM: I’m starting FT with the shortest stack and 2.5 bigs about to go through me. Will definitely be looking to get it in this next orbit.

12:08 AM: Ouch. Blinds went through me and then went up.

But… as I was typing that, I stacked off with ~3.75 bigs with A6cc and doubled through… AT! Christian is my magic dealer! Back up to 200k(10 bigs).

12:39 AM: Sick double with QQ vs AK all in pre with a K66 flop. Queen on turn! Let’s. Go. Back up to around 500k coming back to 15k/30k.

12:55 AM: MP opens to 60k, I flat AJo and we both check on KQ2 all club flop (no club in my hand). Turn is Td and he bets 85k. If he flopped a flush, god bless him but I’m not going to mess around on this board texture. I jam, he snaps. Uh oh. He rolls KJ with Jc and bricks out.

We are chip leading over a milly. Still nine players left.

My opponent mutters something about how trapped I was and I’m thinking “yeah, nice check, buddy.

1:10 AM: One player busts and then I open A9ss and a < 10bb stack jams on me and I double him up when his AQ holds.

785k.

1:10 AM: Huge double. Flat AJcc and get it in on J54hh vs 98hh and hold in 1 million pot.

1.7 million

6 left.

1:39 AM: Winner. $20k

2:15 AM: Ended up getting $20k with 5 players left. 1st was $24k so it was an easy deal for me to make. One double up for any of them would have drastically leveled the playing field so very happy to lock up the $20k.

Registered for tomorrow and planning to show up in level 3 or 4.

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2016 World Series Of Poker Trip Report – WSOP #1: $565 Casino Employee Event

July 7, 2016

Live Stream Link: WSOP Event #1 (Part 1)

I’m not going to go into details again about how disappointing my trips to the World Series Of Poker have been prior to 2016, but I can sum up by saying that I was 0-4 lifetime in WSOP events and I think 0-9 total in tournaments at the Rio, including a pretty big choke ten spots off the money in my first ever bracelet event. Every time I looked at the Rio while passing by, I just shake my head in disbelief – it was my worst casino of all-time.

My goal for 2016 was pretty simple: I just wanted to cash one gosh damn time and get the monkey off my back.

My third try in the $565 Casino Industry event that kicks off the WSOP every year got off to a pretty poor start. I chipped down quickly and soon found myself on the rail, but when the Tournament Director was doing his original announcements I discovered that we could actually re-enter if we busted in the first six levels. This was good news and as far as I can recall, this is new for Event #1. Obviously, I promptly re-entered and then the Boom Switch activated.

With my standard stack size of ten big blinds I found a double up with AQ when I turned an Ace to run down my opponent’s pocket kings. Shortly after, I ran QQ into KK all in pre and flopped a set, building my stack up to 30k. I almost found another cooler reversal after a button vs. small blind raising war resulted in my opponent getting all in pre with QQ vs my TT, when the flop came AJT, but the K on the turn gave him broadway and I bricked the river. This unfortunate run out left me just above average chip stack about 100 off the money.

When the money bubble approached, I was where I always seem to be in these situations: sitting on a ten big blind stack. As I’ve noted in previous blog posts, one of the biggest changes I’ve made in my game in the past year or so, is recognizing that hands that are +EV to push in typical small stack situations need to be reconsidered on the bubble and this adjustment has not only increased my rate of cashing, it has also helped me ladder up deeper in tournaments. I managed to nit my way into my first WSOP cash, but as fast as I patted myself on the back for cashing, I just as quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be much of an accomplishment until I actually made a profit – which, with two bullets fired, still required me to outlast 25% of the remaining field.

And then I kept on luck boxing my way into a playable stack. Being in the money, my ICM considerations weren’t really factoring in and I found myself jamming my remaining 6 bigs with the QJ offsuit from UTG1. It folded around to the big blind who had slightly more chips than I did and he went into the tank for quite some time before finding a call with A9 – which is a pretty trivial call IMO. Anyways, after a standard shove followed by a standard call, I found myself on the bad side of a 40/60 match-up that turned into a 20/80 after we saw the T86 all heart flop, with him holding a heart and me not – or as my favorite poker player and Run It Up ringleader Jason Somerville would say: “Fuck City.” I bricked the turn, dropping my winning chances down to 15% and boom, Q of clubs on the river for a double up. Wow.

Immediately following this hand, I looked down at the AJ offsuit from under the gun. I now had about around 13 or 14 big blinds and found myself in a pretty awkward spot. I feel like raise-folding with my stack size is pretty spewy and plenty exploitable and I strongly considered just open-folding, but after some consideration, I determined that was too weak and decided to open-jam. In hind sight, I think it’s pretty close, but I’m leaning towards thinking it’s a fold. I’m not exactly desperate with 14 bigs and I’m sure I can find some better spots to get my stack in. While I’m going to win the blinds and antes quite frequently, when I do get called, I don’t think I ever have the best hand and from first position, I have to get that jam through the whole table. Anyways, I did run into a monster as someone called with pocket kings, but I wind up making a one card flush on the river with the jack of spades. Unreal! At this point, my stack is significantly above average at 76k and I’ve reached the point where I’ve actually made money on my first WSOP cash! I can now feel good about achieving my goal!

Not too long after my AJ miracle, I open to 9k at 2000/4000 with QQ and it folds around to the player I doubled through and he winds up jamming his 35k stack in and there’s nothing to think about here with two queens, but I did have a feeling he was having a blow up. He was, showing the A8 offsuit after I snap called. Unfortunately, the board ran out 94288 and he steamed his way to a significant double up through me. Still, I could hardly complain as I felt like I was freerolling this tournament many times over by now.

After that speed bump, I started to rush again, doubling up with AJ against AT and then finding JJ vs TT to bust a player. By the end of Day 1, I bagged up a slightly below average 117k with 23 players left. TEN BIG BLINDS.

For Day 2, the tournament moved into the Amazon to the Thunder Dome for the final three tables. I was well prepared on how I was going to play my ten big blind stack, but it all became moot when I found myself all in with QQ vs KK 15 minutes into the new day. Honestly, at that moment, I was sure it was over. I felt like I had used up all the run good I could possibly have. I had already been all in for my tournament life with less than 45% equity four times and doubled up on all four hands. This is just what happens to me deep into major tournaments: I get coolered or unlucky and find myself hitting the rail, feeling disappointed and wondering when I’m finally going to have a breakthrough. I couldn’t possibly pull of another miracle… and when the board read 3236 after four cards, I was already mentally busted from the tournament, but then the dealer brought a Q on the river and all I could say was “wow” in total disbelief. No. Fucking. Way. And that was it. I just said “wow” and shook my head. No celebration. Not even a smile. I’ve been on the other side of that devastating loss plenty of times. There’s no skill in spiking a two outer on the river when all the chips are in preflop, just as there is no skill involved in coolering someone’s pocket queens with pocket kings. It’s just variance – and in this tournament, variance happened to be looking very fondly on me. I’m just never going to rub that in my opponent’s face by celebrating after sucking out in brutal fashion in an extremely critical spot. I guess it happens in sports all the time, but something about doing it at the poker table feels really tacky to me.

However, after that hand, I really started to think that I just might be destined to win this bracelet. I can’t ever remember getting so lucky that many times in a single poker tournament, particularly in the deep stages. I wasn’t just winning flips, I was winning when I was CRUSHED.

With two tables left, I won a huge flip with TT vs AK and found myself sitting around 350k, which had me primed for a final table visit. I played a rare flop in a relatively large pot with KK where I c-bet the flop, checked back in position when the turn brought a 4-card straight in the 789TJ range and then decided to fold when my opponent led out on the ace river. It’s a hand that I’d love to know what he had, but I just couldn’t come up with many hands that I could beat on the river and even some of his bluffing range was good (the smaller two pair hands might think they had to bluff to win a showdown). That hand brought me down to 200k, but with 12 left, I won another flip with 44 vs KQ and not too long after that I found myself holding the chip lead at the final table of a World Series Of Poker bracelet event. Is this real life? I mean, I’ve always felt like I could eventually contend for bracelets but I just never expected it to happen this soon, even though I have started to final table some bigger events recently. What a totally surreal experience.

The official final table bubble lasted an incredibly brutal two hours. Two full levels passed without losing the next player, with everyone playing tight and trying to ladder up and the short stacks doubling up every time there was an all in confrontation. During this time, I lost a big flip and some other smaller pots and found myself with less than half the chips I had at my peak by the time the bubble bursted and we all moved center stage in the Thunder Dome to play for the bracelet and $75,000 up top.

Next thing I know we are being instructed on how to position our hole cards and avoid blocking the overhead cameras for the live stream and my buddy Vince is posting links to the stream on my Facebook post and I can feel the panic start to creep in. I’ve had stage fright issues my whole life – I never gave a speech in class without feeling like I’d rather die and my rap “career” never blossomed because I simply could not perform in front of people. I even had anxiety when I was recording most of the time, despite the fact that my writing ability was honestly ELITE. I have also battled confidence issues that I rather recently realize stem from being wrongfully cut from an all star baseball roster when I was in my early teens. I was always one of the best players on my teams growing up and never had a problem performing on a baseball diamond until that moment, but from then on, I felt an almost unbearable pressure when a ball was hit my way or I was standing at the plate to hit. I choked countless times and performed FAR below my level of ability all the way through high school baseball. I suspect almost no one that knows me even realized how much this affected me and it seems to have carried on with me as an adult in many ways. It’s kind of baffling to me how no one that coached me recognized my problem or knew how to correct it. Anyways, as if the pressure of being center stage, knowing I was being filmed wasn’t enough, when I saw Vince post that streaming link for all my friends to follow, well, I could feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety come over me. I told him to take the link down. If I made a huge mistake, I really didn’t want it to be on full display for all my friends to see. Now, I’m not going to suggest that I have resolved my confidence problems entirely, but somewhere along the way, I realized that I was at a WSOP final table and pretty much no one I know personally can say they’ve done the same thing and I realized that no matter what happened, I had to be proud of my accomplishment and likely, so would everyone else. While I got absurdly lucky in this tournament, I know for a fact that I belong at that table and that it won’t be the last time I get there either. With all this in mind, I was able to find my comfort zone and be at peace with the situation. It’s tough for me to admit some of that, but I’ve never been one to hold back in my writing.

At the official FT, we weren’t allowed to use phones at the table, so I mostly stopped posting updates on Facebook that I can easily reiterate here, but I know there were three massive all in confrontations in a short period and when all the dust cleared, I was the player that ultimately suffered the most. Two short stacks got lucky on back to back hands and instead of laddering up two spots, I found myself doubling up one of them when my AQ lost a race to 66 and put me back in short stack territory. I managed to ladder up a couple spots anyway and then I doubled with 77 vs 22 and busted a player in a blind vs blind confrontation when I picked up 44 vs 33. With 5 players left, while sitting on the shortest stack, my most critical hand came up and I wasn’t even in it. One of the big stacks raised under the gun and it folded to the chip leader in the big blind, who defended. After a flop check and call, they got it all in on the turn with the board reading TdJd8d9x and the big blind holding a straight flush and the other player holding a king high flush (and not drawing dead!). Absolutely sick. So with 5 left, the player in second position and a massive stack, winds up busting, and I ladder up with my very short stack. It was quite the coup.

With four players left, I realized I had to pee. I had to pee BAD. There was about an hour until the next break and I asked the TD if we could take an impromptu break so I could go and he refused my request. The next 45 minutes or so have to be some of the most agonizing moments of my entire life. Can you imagine playing on a WSOP final table, with four players left, and pay jumps approaching tens of thousands of dollars, and having to pee worse than you ever have? I had a short stack and it’s not like the bathrooms were nearby. I really couldn’t afford to miss any hands. If you ever happen to watch the live stream, you’ll notice that with about four players left, I am basically never in my seat when I’m not in a hand. I’m walking around the table in total agony. Needless to say, there is no way I could have been on my A-game while this was happening and it honestly baffles me that the WSOP staff would force me to suffer under such conditions. It’s the Casino Industry event – we all work for a living and are likely playing for life-changing money. It’s inexcusable IMO. I doubt they would make Daniel Negreanu jump around the Thunder Dome holding his crotch like an idiot. Well, I outlasted another player during this and managed to make it to the break, but I imagine I made some mistakes in the duration and it’s kind of hard for me to forgive them of the offense. I even asked the remaining players if it was okay and they agreed. Ugh.

I didn’t last long after the break, eventually shoving my short stack in with J8 offsuit on the button. I think I had like 4-6 big blinds, but having that sized stack playing 3-handed is MUCH different than having it at a full table. I could have maybe waited another orbit, but I was close to having no fold equity and it’s critical to have enough chips that you can win the pot without a showdown. The big blind woke up with the K9 and called and I was not able to produce another miracle.

I finished 3rd for just over $32,000. It was an incredible experience and despite my early discomforts, it was a total blast playing on the final table. And just like that, I crossed off most of my major goals for 2016 and the Rio went from being my all-time worst casino to being my all-time BEST.

I initially meant to post a whole trip report, but this was much longer than I anticipated, so I’ll post the rest later. I will also add some pictures and the live stream link when I get a chance.

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Wildhorse Fall Round Up 2015 Results

November 24, 2015

First off, I have to say that I’m quite pleased with my performance at the Fall Round Up last week. It was my first undeniably successful trip to Pendleton. Even taking expenses and time off work into consideration, I still managed to turn a hefty profit. I have previously cashed in the Main Event twice, cashed some other tournaments, and done okay in the cash games, but whatever meager profits I’ve managed to accumulate would always be wiped out by expenses. I’ve never experienced that 5-6 hour drive home with anything but bitter disappointment in my head. I think my first trip to Pendleton I lost my entire bankroll… To Cherish Andrews… who’s now a well known enough pro to get invited to Poker Night In America. On a separate trip, I had the worst 4/8 session of my career by a large margin. So booking a solid win was a nice change of pace and Wildhorse went from possibly being my worst all-time casino to becoming my second most profitable location in 2015.

In a nutshell, I did extremely well in the tournaments even though my end results weren’t exactly amazing. I showed up 45 minutes late to the Omaha 8 event after driving for 5 hours straight and I didn’t bust out of that tournament until there were three people left and I had a $5764 score in the books before I had even unpacked my car. So I was able to immediately cross two things off my goal list by setting a new career high for a tournament score and by making a Round Up final table. Clearly, a great start to my trip.

Still, this Omaha tournament was a testament to how influential variance can be in tournament poker. There was a moment with two tables left, when we were already in the money, where I got scooped by an unlucky river card and I felt like my final table chances were all but finished. And then I went on a Joe McKeehan-like heater and entered the final table with the undeniable chip lead. It was a testament to the concept of never getting discouraged because good things can always happen. I stayed hot at the final table, knocking out multiple players and by the time we were down to three, myself and the other big stack had 80% of the chips in play. It looked like a guaranteed payday of $7000+ and a chance to play Steve Stencil, #2 on the Round Up’s all-time winner’s list, heads up for my first bracelet and a shot at a $10K score. And then variance struck again: I opened on the button with AK62 and the small stack raised me and we got four bets in preflop before getting the rest of it in on the K76 rainbow flop. I had two pair with the nut low draw; he had AQJT for… nothing. No pair, no flush draw, no low draw, NOTHING! Obviously he was committing himself preflop, so he had to go with it, but it’s hard to imagine a hand I could have more crushed than his… and then a 9 hit the turn for a sweat… and then the Jack on the river gave him the nut straight with no low on board for the scoop and the full double up. I never recovered from that hand and busted third while that kid went on to win the tournament. As they say, that’s poker.

I finished 19th in the H.O.R.S.E. tournament the next day, but only 16 players cashed. While bubbling may sound brutal, I never really had any momentum in this tournament – it was a grind the whole way as I was somehow able to take a stack that was never above average and almost crack the money. My starting table in this tournament was amazing and full of terrible play, but I was never able to take advantage of it.

After taking a day off tournaments for a successful session in the $10/$20 Omaha 8 game, my first NLHE tournament of the series looked to be a thing of destiny. I was running absurdly hot. Every break I had more than twice as many chips as the last break. At dinner, with about 55 people left, I likely had the tournament chip lead. My buddy Vince was telling me how he had one big pair the whole tournament. I had already had Aces four times and I had KK-TT maybe 8 times total and they were all holding up. My big pot to that point, I had flatted the second big stack at the table with AA on the button and we got to see a K97 with two spades flop heads up. He made a strong bet into me and I decided this wasn’t the kind of board I wanted to let him barrel into, so I raised him on the flop and he jammed it on me. It gave me pause because he had a ton of chips, but since my hand was so disguised and the player was aggressive, I didn’t think about it too long before sticking my stack in there. Fortunately, he had AK and my hand held and I turned my above average stack into a monster stack.

And then I did something stupid. A new player had arrived at the table, two to my left, and he was already giving me problems. I had already lost three small pots to him and we had built up a history of him playing aggressively and me giving up routinely. So when he made a small raise from early position and it folded around to me in the big blind, I decided to take the attractive pot odds and see a flop with the K6o. The flop came all clubs and I had the K of clubs and I decided to continue taking a passive line against this overly aggressive opponent and planned to throw him some rope if I turned a king high flush… which I did. I check-called a decent sized bet on the turn and I made it look like I was strongly considering folding because a) I wanted him to keep betting and b) if he did happen to have the Ac I didn’t want him to think he could get maximum value from me. Unfortunately, when I checked the river, he jammed on me for more than a pot-sized bet of 36K. It’s a great move. It polarizes his range into either a) I have the nuts or b) I am bluffing – and given our brief history so far, my image of him was that he was totally capable of shoving the river with air to try to get me to fold a flush. Even though the river shove was for more than half of my remaining stack, I didn’t give it a ton of thought on the river because when you try to manipulate an opponent into doing something and then they do it, you probably shouldn’t second guess yourself. Unfortunately, in this case, he did have the ace of clubs. Although I think my postflop line is fine and that, against this villain, I will win a monster pot on the river picking off his bluff a good portion of the time, I’m having a hard time forgiving myself for defending the hand in the first place. I have K6 offsuit, out of position, against a good LAG with a big stack. Is this really a spot where I want to put my big stack at risk? Playing the guessing game against a good player? It’s one seemingly small error that lead to a huge loss.

A few hands later, I called an 11 big blind shove with AQ and lost a race to 66 and suddenly I had a below average stack. Just like that. My momentum never picked up again and eventually I jammed a small pair into Aces and somehow didn’t even make the money of a tournament I had the chip lead in at dinner. Gross. However, any time you can learn from your mistakes is a chance to improve and get better and next time I have a huge stack in the late stages of a tournament, I’ll remember to be a bit wiser about the spots I pick to get involved in.

I made the dinner break of both the $330 NLHE event and the Main Event, but never really got the ball rolling in either tournament. I just kept grinding in both events waiting for something good to happen and the rush never arrived.

I wrapped up my series by dominating the Last Chance Turbo event until I lost a huge chunk of chips 10 off the money with AQ to KK against an opponent that was showing a very wide jamming range. I did manage to quadruple up when I was down to less than two blinds and found a way to get another cash for the series, ultimately finishing in 16th place.

All in all, I cashed 2 of 6 events, made a final table, secured my biggest cash ever, made the dinner break in every tournament I played, and felt really good about my play overall. Having made deep cashes in the last two Muckleshoot Classic series and now making a Round Up final table, I feel like it’s only a matter of time before I really arrive with a huge win.

Now if I could just figure out how to beat that 8/16 game again!

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Wildhorse Casino: Poker Training

April 30, 2012

“It’s humbling, isn’t it?”

That’s what one of the regulars at my local casino said to me upon my return from the Spring Round Up at the Wildhorse Casino in Pendleton, Oregon. I’d be lying if I said she wasn’t right. This was my third trip to Pendleton and my third time coming home a loser. It doesn’t feel good and it proves I still have a long way to go as a poker player. I often get asked when I’m going to Vegas or if I’ll play the Main Event and my answer is: Let me conquer Pendleton first.

It’s not like I’m completely out of my league; there are plenty of pros that go for the series, but there are also plenty of fish and tons of money to be made in the live games. Plus, even pros are prone to making mistakes and everybody has leaks…you just have to find them and figure out how to exploit them.

My biggest problem is the kinds and sizes of the games they spread. When it comes to limit hold em–my area of expertise–the only limit they spread regularly is $4-$8, which is the exact same game I play every day back home. Whoopty doo, Basil! The most popular game at Wildhorse is the $2-$5 no limit hold em game. While I fancy myself a solid no limit player, my experience in live cash games is limited and $2-$5 plays way above my current bankroll. I’ve felt like I’ve held my own in this game, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m often the least experienced player at the table and have felt out of my comfort zone at times. I’m confident I can beat the game, but I can’t play it to my full ability because I’m absolutely not willing to lose a chunky portion of my bankroll playing in it. I take pride in the fact that I protect my bankroll and don’t take risky gambles with it. I am now gambling for a living–comfortably–while more accomplished players are broke, working day jobs, and advising me to take shots. “Why aren’t you playing the no limit game?” “Why are you selling your action?” Because I don’t ever want to work again in my life… that’s why.

All that said I did play 21 hours in the $2-$5 game and only lost $115 overall… But I did have the displeasure of running KK into AA for a $1200+ pot and I did turn a couple solid wins into losing sessions, which I feel reflects my inexperience as a no limit player more than a run of bad luck. The biggest thing I noticed was that I had a much tougher time the better the other players in the game were. When I was at a table of weak tight or inexperienced players, I could run over the table with little worry of anyone challenging my alpha male status or putting serious pressure on me… But I think the tougher players could sense my inexperience and continually put me in spots where I had to make difficult decisions. I wish they had a smaller no limit game that I could play in, but I suppose I just have to hope I have a bigger bankroll to work with on my next visit or maybe I will have someone back me in the cash games.

The biggest reason I had a losing trip was my first session of $4-$8 limit hold em I played. I was playing in the game with my buddy Vince and somehow we convinced the table to agree to an automatic straddle, which means that whoever was first to act after the blinds had to raise to $8 without looking at their hand… Or in the case of a kill pot, raise to $16 blind. Needless to say, it was a highly volatile game with lots of action and we were playing short-handed most of the night, which can dramatically increase short term variance. Well, I went three and a half hours in this game without winning a single pot. Unlike the no limit games where I can admit I may have been outmatched, these players sucked and were just getting continually lucky all night long while I was running incredibly bad. I saw a dude put in 4 bets on an all broadway flop with nothing but a back door flush draw and take the pot down with running sevens. It was sick. Everyone was playing so bad and I couldn’t get ANY of it! What it amounted to was the worst $4-$8 session of my life…or at least since I’ve been sober. Maybe I should have called it a night after four or five racks, but when you see everyone at the table playing so poorly, it’s tough to let them keep it. Luck has to even out in the long run, right? Well, it didn’t that night and I lost over nine racks. The good news is I made six and a half of those racks back in the $4-$8 games the rest of he trip… But damn, that loss stung and it put me in a pretty poor state of mind to start my trip.

The good news is that I cashed in two of the six tournaments I played and had a winning series for my backers. Unfortunately, I bubbled the final table in one of the events and neither of my cashes were too meaningful. I felt like I was playing good, deep stack tournament poker in four of the six tournaments I played. I played the limit hold em event on my own tab and on absolutely zero sleep. It was a bad idea. I suppose the lesson there is: just because you can’t sleep doesn’t mean you should go gamble. I’ve come to find out that one of the bigger leaks in my poker game is restlessness and playing when I’m tired or grumpy can be detrimental to my win rate. While I’m able to overcome these mental handicaps at times (when I’m running good), there are times when I’m clearly off my A game and losing more money than I need to be (when I’m bad).

I’m looking forward to the Fall Round Up and having my first winning trip to Pendleton. Hopefully my bankroll will be in even better shape and I’ll have much more no limit cash game experience by then. Also, I’m going to open up my action to more people and sell it at premium, so there’s less pressure on myself and my few backers to perform well. At times, especially deep in tournaments, I’m hesitant to make what I feel is the right play, because doing so and being wrong might cost me my tournament. But I have a pretty good feel for this game and going with my gut is usually correct and people invest in me because they trust my abilities. Next trip, it’s time to stop trying to cash and bring home a big prize. I got you guys.

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Freddie’s Club In Fife $110 Deep Stack Tournament: Play-By-Play

January 16, 2012

Yesterday, I decided to take notes during the deep stack tournament @ Freddie’s Club in Fife so I could talk about some of the critical hands on my blog. I didn’t jot down every hand I played, but this is a pretty thorough play-by-play from my tournament game yesterday:

During the first blind level (25-50) I only played two hands. In one hand, I called a raise to 250 with 87o on the button. Might sound illogical, but my hand was slightly irrelevant and not nearly as important as my position or my current super nitty image. The flop comes down T8x and the preflop raiser bets out 600. I decide to float for one street and re-evaluate all my options on the turn. It’s a brick for me and dude bets out a strong 1600. Okay, Kumar, I believe you. Muck. He shows me JJ like he knows what I’m up to and doesn’t want me fucking with him all day. Same dude opens for 250 again and I call with 44, several people come in behind me and I check-fold to a bet behind me after missing the flop.

For nearly a half hour those are the only two pots I’m involved in, so at the 50-100 level, I can’t stand it any longer and with two limpers in front of me holding Q7o on the button I make it 600 to go expecting a bunch of folds. Everyone obliges.

Blinds are 100-200 and I have KTo in my BB and 4-5 players see a AQJcc flop. I check and watch as one of the players disappointingly bets 200, one other calls, and everyone else mucks. I tank for a bit thinking of the best way to play the hand. 200 was way less than I was hoping someone would bet, so it’s time to start getting more money in the pot. The board is kind of coordinated. I definitely don’t want to see another club roll off and a K or T could be an action killer for me. I make it 1175 to go. The initial bettor calls and the other dude folds. T on the turn. Fuck! I consider making a substantial bet since a flush draw is the only thing I’m expecting to call me now, but I reconsider and settle on a slightly less than pot-sized 2500 bet. He calls again. The river is a complete brick, like the 6s or something. It looks to me like this dude was drawing and missed and should have a pretty good idea of where I’m at. I decide to throw him for a loop with a 1000 bet into a nearly 8000 pot. It’d be tough to muck an ace or any pair+flush draw that missed for that price and I don’t think he’s calling a big bet here. Slim chance, but he might also mistake my weak beat for a missed draw and raise me. He just calls and I show him the flopped nut straight.

My buddy Kumar has been in a lot of pots lately and just took a bad one with top two pair and lost to a flush on the river. He was crippled for a second and made a slight comeback but still appears to be steaming. With blinds at 150-300 it folds to him in the cutoff and he makes it 800 to go. Folds to me and I look down at AA in the BB and take my time thinking of the best way to get Kumar to stack off to me. He has about 6000 total chips. The fact that he showed me that JJ earlier makes me think he thinks I’m capable of making moves. I took that as a way of him saying “I’m not fucking around, bro; don’t mess with me.” Sorry, Kumar, wish denied. Knowing that my opponent is still on T and thinks that I’m capable of making moves, I study him for a while and really ponder whether or not I want to raise him. It’s tempting to smooth call his raise and let him hang himself after the flop, but I’m feeling like he’s even more suicidal than that right now. I want his whole stack. I finally settle on a raise to 2800, which is large enough to make it look like I could be re-stealing and still be able to get away from it. Shockingly, Kumar merely calls and takes a flop with me for almost half his stack size. The board comes out J43 and I check it to him hoping he’ll think I’m giving up on my re-steal play. He shoves and I quickly call. He shows Js9s and whiffs his 5-outer. Good day and thank you.

Blinds are still at 150-300, a couple people limp in and a tight player to my right makes it 1300 to go. I look down at TT on the button. My opponent has 5200 left behind. I just got a bunch of chips and I’m not looking to put them at risk in a coin flip (or worse) situation. I decide to flat the raise and see what happens after the flop. I’m not exactly set-mining here, but I don’t think my opponent is folding to a re-raise, so I wanna see what the flop brings before I decide how much I like my hand. Plus, someone behind me could wake up with a monster. I just call and only one limper sticks around. The flop comes down T44. Somebody’s running good all the sudden! First action checks and my dude ships it all-in for 5200. I call hoping the lady can stick around, but she mucks. Dude turns over AK and is basically drawing dead. AK high? Uh, nh.

Very next hand, almost identical situation: I have 99 and the lady from the previous hand makes it 1000 to go with blinds at 150-300. Again, I feel like she’s going with her hand if I re-raise preflop, so I decide to flat. One player calls behind me and we see a KQJ flop 3-ways. She bets I muck and I forget what the end result was.

Blinds are still 150-300 and I open to 1150 with TT. Homie from the hand where I flopped the nut straight shoves it all-in for 4500. Folds back to me. Dude has been playing pretty snug, but this is a pretty simple call, all things considered. He shows AJ and outflops me on a QJ8 board. A blank hits the turn, but I spike a 9 on the river to make a straight and knock out my third opponent of the level. I’m now up to over $32K in chips and feeling really good about my chances.

My table breaks and I’m moved to a new one with a bunch of new faces. Ugh. Blinds are 200-400, 4 people limp in, and someone pops it to 2600, it folds to me in the BB and I look down at 99. The raiser has about 9000 behind and I go into the tank wondering what the right play is. Being new to the table, the only data I have is that this guy decided to make a large preflop raise after four people limped into the pot. I know I’d be tempted to make the same play regardless of my cards and that thought is definitely crossing my mind. I obviously can’t call in this spot, out of position, and see a flop, so it’s either re-raise or fold. If I re-raise and he actually has a hand, I’m going to be pot-committed against his shove and I’m really not looking to play a 25K pot with 99 at this stage of the tournament. Since I have no idea how to play the hand or any real read on my opponent, I decide to just muck it. Everyone else quickly folds and because I was making him sweat it out so bad, dude makes a comment about how it’s the first hand he’s played in half an hour.

With blinds at 300-600 I open to 1600 UTG with QQ. Some chick calls me in position and so does the big blind. The board comes down J94 rainbow and it checks to me. I start eying their stacks, but I’m kind of annoyed because the lady has her chips all mixed together and I have no idea how much she’s really working with. I look at the dealer and say “WTF?” with my hands, which she takes as a check and and tries to check behind me. LOL. No, honey, back it up. How many fucking chips do you have? She has about 5K left and the BB has about the same. I’m obviously down to play for stacks and bet 3500 which is basically the same thing as announcing “I’m all-in.” They both muck. She doesn’t fix her stack and the dealer doesn’t ask her to. Wow.

With blinds at 400-800, I open to 2200 with 55. My supposedly tight friend that hasn’t played a hand in half an hour calls from the BB. The flop comes down T98cc and he checks to me. That’s a terrible flop for me, but my hand still might be good; however, the last thing I want to do is bet and get raised by a draw. I check behind. Turn card is a Queen. Okay, I’m done with it. He checks to me again. I still might have the best hand, but it’s incredibly weak and I’m just trying to get to showdown as cheaply as possible at this point. River is a small club and he checks to me again. If my hand is good here, there’s no need to put any more money in the pot. I check behind and he shows AJ and tells me I have really good discipline and complains that the third club on the river probably cost him some action. LOL, okay buddy.

Very next hand, I open to 2200 with AhJh and it folds all the way around to the BB who ships it for about a billion more. Easy muck, but I’m starting to get annoyed. Since I switched tables, I’ve watched as every pot gets opened in front of me and it folds around the vast majority of the time. But since I sat down at the table, I’ve opened the pot seven times and have been called or raised EVERY time. People complain about not getting action when they have AA or KK, but stealing the blinds is critical in the middle stages of tournaments and I’ve been contested in every pot I’ve played. It’s starting to eat at me.

I have Tc6c in the SB and complete after two limpers. BB checks his option and we see a J74cc flop 4-ways. With 3200 in the pot, I lead out for 1300. It folds to Mr. Discipline and he makes it 2800 to go. I don’t really know what to make of that raise, but my Spidey senses are telling me he’s not very strong. Almost like he put in a small raise to take control of the pot and see how I reacted to it, but he’s not giving off a lot of strength. Now that I’m away from the table, it seems like he was taking advantage of my weak lead and that a 3-bet on my part probably would’ve taken the pot down. I decided to just call since I was getting profitable drawing odds, but it was a play that kind of telegraphed what I had. I brick the turn and he fires 3500. My confidence has been taking a blow and I feel kind of readable in this spot, so I decide to just let it go. He asks if I had a club draw. Fuck you.

Don, an old man taxi driver that used to play around Bremerton, opens to 2600 UTG+1 with blinds @ 400-800 and has about 10K behind. I look down at 99 two spots to his left. I know Don well enough to know that he’s not opening light in this spot and that he’s never folding to a re-raise. In fact, with his stack size, I’d expect him to open-shove with the hands I’m actually slightly ahead of. Easy fold. Some lady behind me ships it for 9500 and Don calls and his JJ holds against her 77. Knowing is half the battle.

Blinds are still 400-800 when someone in MP makes a min-raise to 1600. Don calls on the button and the small blind calls, so I come along for the ride getting 7 to 1 on a call with J9o. The flop comes J83hh and having great relative position, I check and get to see what everyone does after the preflop aggressor acts. He checks and Don says “let them see another one,” which reliably translates to “I have absolutely nothing right now.” The turn pairs the Jack and it checks to me again. For some dumb reason, I check instead of firing out a bet. The preflop raiser obviously missed the flop and if he was slowplaying a big hand, a second jack showing up is not going to be a welcome sight. Don clearly has nothing behind him, so missing this value bet is a pretty big mistake. I don’t think anyone has anything, but I can’t make anymore money if I don’t put any chips in the pot. I bet 3K when a 5 shows up on the river and everyone quickly mucks. Ugh. Poorly played, Dark Knight!

Blinds are still @ 400-800 and I open UTG to 2000 with AsTs, a questionable play in retrospect. I don’t hate a limp here and my preflop raises weren’t getting any respect, so opening in terrible position with such a weak hand seems a little spewy. I’m really just hoping to take the blinds down and I’m in horrible steal position, so what value does my hand really have? Some poker theorists hate the open-limp, but I think this is a good spot for one. If you disagree, we can debate it later, but I think the play has plenty of merit. Anyways, I raise it up and a somewhat loose player calls me in position. The flop comes down J63 and I fire out 3500. He shoves all-in, I muck, and he shows me a set of sixes. NH sir.

My frustration level is quickly rising and my stack has dwindled down to about 22K, or the tournament average. It folds around to me in the SB and with blinds at 600-1200, I put the BB all-in for his remaining 5K or so. He mucks. Oh, I had KJ.

I open-raise in middle position with AT and everyone folds. I let the table know how grateful I am that they finally let me take a pot down uncontested and ask if they can continue to be so courteous in the future. No one seems amused.

HAND OF THE TOURNAMENT: With the blinds at 600-1200, the player UTG makes it 4K to go. It folds around to me and I look down at AK in the BB and have about 22K left behind. Seems like an easy play, but I’m sensing strength from my UTG friend and he definitely hasn’t been splashing around. I realize I’ve been put to the test for my entire stack. I consider calling and seeing a flop first, but if I miss the flop I’m basically handing him the pot when I might have the best hand and, more importantly, when I DO spike, I might not double up. Fuck it, time to gamble. I ship it and he quickly calls and shows QQ and we’re off to the races. It’s a quick one though as I immediately spike an ace on the flop and hold up through the river. Doubled up to 45K+ and right back in this thing!

A few hands later, UTG makes it 4400 to go and I look down at KK on the button. He has 7K or so left behind, so I’m expecting him to stack off with most of his range. No need to be coy, I’m all-in. He calls and whiffs his 3-outer with AK. We’re up to over 50K now and have a big stack. I think there are two tables left at this point.

Blinds must be 1000-2000 now cause I make it 5500 to go with AT this hand. A really loose, obnoxious Asian kid calls me from the BB. He’s been taking a lot of flops, limping in a lot, and generally acting a pest. He hasn’t stopped running his mouth since he sat down at our table. The flop comes down KQ7. He plays with his chips and does a ton of acting before finally checking it over to me an hour later. That kind of shit is usually a tell for a weak hand, and I contemplate a bet, but the kid has been playing so recklessly that I decide to keep the pot small and give myself a chance to improve on the turn. I check behind and he instantly fires 3K in the dark. LOL! I’m probably raising that bet no matter what, but it becomes a lot easier to pull the trigger when I make the nut straight on the turn. After doing some Hollywooding of my own, I settle on a raise to 15K. It’s a pretty hefty raise, but if this kid wants to fuck around, I want it to be as costly as possible. Plus, a larger raise size might make it seem like I’m bluffing and just want to take the pot down right now. He tanks for a while, finally flashes me a 7, and then tries to riddle me with questions. I don’t give up anything and just stare the punk down. I ain’t answering shit, bruh.

Folds to me in the cutoff and for the third orbit in a row, I open on a tight player’s big blind. Blinds are 1500-3000 and I’ve made it 7500 to go with AQ. I have my headphones on, but my music isn’t playing and I can hear everything. The Loudmouth Asian Kid is telling the big blind how I’ve been raising his BB every orbit and how I’m just going to keep pounding him until he makes a stand… and there’s still three players left to act in the hand! I have been picking on dude a little, but I have AQ this hand so it’s not like I’m on a pure steal attempt here. The button folds, but the SB ships it for 32K more. The BB makes a very painful looking laydown (says later it was QQ) and it folds back to me. Normally, I wouldn’t think much about calling with AQ here and it would be an easy fold, but everyone heard what the Loudmouth said and I can’t help but wonder if his comments encouraged this guy to grow some balls and ship it all-in on me. I really go into the tank contemplating it and I’m looking at the small blind and he just doesn’t look that strong to me. Even if he’s on a pure bluff, I’m only a 60/40 favorite and losing this pot would be devastating. The only hands he could have where a fold from me is a clear mistake is when he has a weak ace. I decide to pass and wait for a better spot, but I rip into the Asian kid, basically telling him to shut the fuck up when he’s not in a hand and that he probably cost his buddy in the big blind the pot–if he really had QQ, that is.

I stopped writing notes at this point because as we were getting closer to the final table, I didn’t have much free time since we were playing short-handed and it was crucial to pay attention to the action. However, I can remember a few hands.

Loudmouth open raises in EP and I look down at AK. I ship it on him. He does his usual acting before finally mucking and telling me he’ll gamble with me eventually.

A short while later, he opens again and I have AK again. I know dude is just trying to pick up some blinds and I’m ready to play for stacks against his range. No need to see flops. Come and get it. Nope, he mucks again. So much for gambling with me.

Finally, he open-pushes for like 12K with blinds at 1500-3000 and I have JJ in the BB and stack him when his A2 misses. Stackety, stack stack, don’t come back. Seriously though… good riddance, douchebag.

After stacking my annoying friend, I now have around 105K in chips and am headed to the final table. We immediately make a deal so that everyone gets $125 back and at least makes a little money. I’m not involved in any big pots as four people get eliminated and the chip leader proposes a deal: we chop six ways, but everyone gives him an extra $20. Since 6th only pays about $280, the chop nets me an extra $600 guaranteed and even though I’d usually rather play it out, my stack size has dwindled to about 75K and I’m not really in any position to negotiate. I swallow my pride and take the pay day for a +$760ish score.

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Good Online Poker Tournament Week

February 6, 2010

Just started trying to build up an online bankroll again a couple weeks ago and I’ve had a pretty good start. This past week I had these finishes:

-4th of 85 in NL Hold Em Tournament for 8 Buy-In profit
-2nd of 180 in NL Hold Em Tournament for 32BI profit.
-457th of 6230 in NL Hold Em Tournament for 2BI profit. I think this is only worth noting because it’s the equivalent of cashing in a WSOP main event sized field.
-4th of 88 in NL Omaha Hi-Lo Split Tournament for 9BI profit.
-6th of 360 in Pot Limit Omaha Tournament for 14BI profit.

I consider that a pretty great week… four final tables in fields of at least 85 entrants, 3 top 5 finishes, and cashes in three different forms of poker. Your boy’s got skills.