Quick and Dirty

This is my quick and dirty run down of the poker tournament. I have just arrived home from a long week of playing poker and made the 600 mile drive home in nine hours. Sleep is calling me and I am fighting through it to deliver the news of the week’s happenings. I know I have been a slacker over the last week and have not posted on my daily schedule. Watch out because I will be catching up tonight and tomorrow.

Overall, I had a great trip and the First Annual Jefferson State Poker Stampede was a huge success. I loved meeting all the new players and reuniting with the old players. I must pass along some bad news in that the poker world has lost one of the true great low limit grinders ever “Hippy Rich”. Rich and I had often discussed what it would be like in Hell. I am sure when we all get there we are going to find a very young and very stoned “Hippy Rich” dealing the main game. I love you Rich!

Back to the fun and games of the week, I traveled on Sunday and arrived in time to play the one table satellite. These satellite tournaments were $60 with a $10 add-on that was almost mandatory due to the number of chips doubling with the add-on. The winner of the tournament received $400, second was $125 and third $75. The house taking $100 out of the satellite is a little more than I like but certainly not unheard of these days. The casino spread three of these one table tourneys with several of us playing in two of them. I did not cash in either one of the tourneys. Play was fast and loose and players were very lucky. I lost with kings on the first hand crippling myself in the first and Jacks on the first hand of the second seriously denting my stack. Both of the Satellites I played were won by Justin Pearcy and the third was won by Duke Bolen. I have known Duke and his son for 30 years and Duke has just started playing hold’em in the last couple months. He is learning the game and having fun. I love to see the new players have some success. Good Job Duke. Sunday night the casino did not get a live game started which was sad. Instead of blaming the employees I decided Monday would be different and I would take responsibility for getting the live game going.

The Monday Satellite was not much better for me with the field being a little tougher and my luck not much better. I played hard and made it down to five players and lost my chips when the turn card made my opponents three outer. I immediately turned my focus on the live game and we were able to get a short handed game of $1-2, five to go no-limit started. The game actually got up to nine handed for a short time. Elk Valley does not usually get a Monday night live game. We kept the game going until about 1:30 and several people mentioned the games do not go late anymore. The game was great and my old buddy Frank and I were up to our old tricks just like we had not missed a day in the nine years I have been gone. I will write an entire story about the Monday live game; it was that good. I even managed to book a small win!

Tuesday night was the regularly scheduled $25 buy-in bounty tournament with $5 bounties on every player. This little casino spreads five tables of tournament action on a regular basis for these small buy-in events. I would love to see the poker room work on getting two or three live games spread from the tournament. Once again I played and survived deep into the tournament making the final table and missing the cash. The added problem with that strategy is I never collected a bounty and put myself way down on the list for the live game. The game was decent on Tuesday and the players converted the game to $3-5 blind no-limit. The game went until 4AM and the players I expected to show up late never materialized. I played decent Tuesday night and booked another live game win. Considering I had $235 worth of buy-ins and no success in the tournaments so far I was glad to win in the live games. I was covering my expenses and paid for my gas to get there. I am slightly profitable even considering that I am buying into the big tournament on Wednesday for $430. I actually signed up on my credit card a few weeks ago but would need to buy the $100 add-on at the start of the tournament. By now you are probably figuring out that I am playing too much poker and not getting enough work done.

The first flight of the big tournament starts Wednesday at noon. I managed to sleep about five hours and get to the casino a little before 11AM. The first flight swells from 12 signed up early to 32 by the time the cards are in the air. One out of every three players will advance to the finals on Thursday evening. The top ten players from this flight will take the chips they have remaining into Thursday. There is much discussion about the stack size a player would like to have going to the finals. The average will be around $38,000 and anything above that would be decent. I make it to two tables and at about 18 players my AA is called by QQ on a nine high flop. A queen on the turn and I am out. Justin was a very class act about it and I have to give him props for that. Sign me up for the 6PM flight! Yes you are allowed to play in all three flights if you need to.

A short diversion into poker economics is screaming to me at the moment. Many people raised a few eye brows when I said I would play all three flights if necessary. This is a $45,000 guarantee tournament with a $5000 winner’s bracelet. I am absolutely certain this event will be under sold and create an overlay for the players. I am better than average in almost every poker tournament I play. This tournament is no exception. This tournament is a great deal and I totally encourage anyone that can afford it to play in these situations. I travelled about 600 miles to get to Crescent City and I took four days off work to make the trip. I was able to stay with my mother and keep my costs reasonable. I would spend over $200 in gas and use four vacation days which I really do not mind. My fixed costs to be at the tournament are probably the highest making my first buy-in the most expensive of all the players. While locals paid $430 I was actually paying closer $700 to play for the $45,000 and the bracelet. If I was an average player the calculation would look something like $50,000 prize pool at a cost of $435 meaning that as long as there are less than 114 players signed up it is a good deal. Using my higher cost to play it is a good deal if 71 players sign up for the tournament. I am pretty sure more than 71 players will sign up. I am also pretty confident that I am about 25% better than the average player in his tournament. Now my calculation looks like a good deal for a field of around 89 players. This is actually where I felt the tournament would draw in the 80 to 90 player range. The tournament is really about a break even deal for me based upon only being able to buy in a single time. Because I am writing and will be releasing a book soon I need to play in these events and winning would bring additional rewards to me that others may not capture. As we all know by now the first buy-in was unsuccessful. The calculation for the next buy-in is simple and straight forward. I can play the second flight for $430 dollars because I am already here and have spent all of my overhead. The second and third buy-ins become a good deal for me at 143 players. This will not happen because flights are capped at 60 players and it would be hard to imagine 101 additional players in those two flights which are very light in pre-sales. So yes it absolutely makes sense to play the additional flights if necessary. Your result in the first flight is not relevant to the calculation for the second or third flight. If it was a good deal for you to play the first flight and there are no additional costs other than the buy-in…like the need to take a day off work…the deal is the same for the next buy-in. If your bankroll has taken a hit and made it impossible to buy in multiple times I must tell you that you are under capitalized and could not afford to play in the first place. For me the ability to buy-in multiple times if necessary takes the deal from marginal to exceptional. I was actually asked by a player what the calculation would be if you are less than the average skill level. I decided that most new or weak players would be somewhere near 75% of the average skill level. Keep in mind these players are calculated into the average and bringing down the average. I ran the calculation at a 75% skill level and no overhead or lost opportunity costs. This tournament was a good deal at 86 players. Very close to my early prediction of 80 to 90 players. As far as the satellites are concerned, these are a good deal if you are going to play the tournament no matter what and you are quite a bit better than the average player in both your satellite and the main field as you are paying over 14% juice to the house on the satellite. In reality the main tournament offered about a 14% overlay for the average tournament player. This means if you got into the tournament in six satellites or less you probably made a good investment. So much for poker economics 101.

I was out of the first flight and signed up for the second flight at 6PM on Wednesday. The tournament players received a free t-shirt and a food voucher for the prime rib buffet on Wednesday night. The buffet started at 4 PM and I was considering going to the buffet with my two tickets that I had for buying in twice. My mother and my niece arrived at the casino and I was able to give them my food vouchers. I also gave my niece one of the shirts. I sat down and helped start the live game around 3:40 and knew then I was not going to eat before the 6PM flight. I cashed in the live game just not enough to cover my $430 buy-in number two. I cashed out about twenty minutes before the tournament to get my head on straight. The game was good and I was up $300 but I had bigger fish to fry.

The 6PM flight actually climbed to 39 players making for 13 transfer spots. I felt these 39 players were just a little softer than the morning 32. I was put to the test early. Layers buying the add-on before the tournament starts have a total of $12,500 in chips and that was the case with just a few exceptions. In the first twenty minute round with blinds at $25-25, I got involved in the following hand, on my big blind the 13th hand of the flight I was dealt Q9 suited and a player opened for $75 and was called by three players and I decided to join the fun. A rather loose call but the stacks are deep and I could flop perfect. You know QQQ or 999 or possible a JT8 rainbow. Not sure who would give me action on those hands. The pot is $375 and the flop is Q75. I know that is not lightening in a bottle. I check and mister pre-flop raiser makes a $300 bet. Everyone folds to me and I call. I am hoping for no over card, maybe a 6, 8 or 9 on the turn. I catch another Q on the turn and check it hoping my foe will check along. I want to keep this pot relatively small as my hand has gone from weak to strong and dangerous. Of course he bets $1500 here and it feels like he wants me to fold so I disappoint him and call after a five second pause. I want a 9 on the river in the worst way. The 3 on the river makes no flush possible and only the 64 straight which I could have but I see no way to put it in his range as the pre-flop early position raiser. I check and he moves all-in and has me covered. How did I get involved in a big pot with Q9? I spend about 30 seconds thinking and get my next buy-in together. Fully prepared to see AQ I send my chips to the middle. When he turns his AK over I see the ace and the paint and am truly glad to see a K where I expect to see a Q. He had some balls. I doubled up and felt like I was going to be a contender in this flight. I spend the next four hours struggling through one of the toughest sessions of my life. Losing with or mucking Jacks five times and losing with Kings three times. I had an exceptionally bad run of luck. My $60,000 chip stack was fractured down under $20,000 and we are playing two tables of seven and I am looking to plunge and double up. My table is active and they are supposed to be trying to survive into the final. I guess they missed the memo. Before I can make a move the tournament is halted and my measly $12,000 in chips is less than anyone in the first flight had. I am glad to see a player with $12,500 and a player with $10,500. The chip leader is at $87,000. The conversation turns to whether I should forfeit and enter again Thursday morning to try to build a bigger stack for the final. The main consideration for me was my lack of rest and the thought of playing an additional six hours of poker before we start the final Thursday at 7PM. I also know that I am one of the best short stack players on the planet earth and if it can be done I am the one that can bring it all the way back. I decide that it will be $12,000 for me at the final.

The Thursday noon flight three has many players from out of town showing up and grows from eight pre-registered to 30 and another ten players will be moving to the finals. A total of 33 players will be moving to the finals at 7PM. I notice only two players that have played all three flights. Humboldt County has sent up a strong group of players. All 33 players moving on to the finals are given a meal ticket for the New Years Eve Grand Buffet. A little bit after 4PM I go to eat and just rest. I did not see the end of flight three but feel good about my assessment of the players after four hours of watching them.

The final at 7PM kicks off only three minutes late. The 33 handed field spread across four tables. I need to get down to three tables and slow the blinds down. I am happy when I find the blinds at $300-500 and my $12,000 will get some play. A players busts out on the first hand and we are four tables of eight players. An hour later with blinds $1000-$2000 we are at three tables and players are starting to fall. I am short stacked all night.

After five hours we come back from break with 13 players and the top ten making the money. My good friends Gene asks me about giving the bottom three players $500 each. I say to go for it. The field agrees and they give me $500. Now I need to make it to the top ten to make any additional money. I am card dead and finally send my last $21,000 from the small blind for a showdown of the blinds. 64 against 97 and I do not get lucky. I am out at 12th place.

The tournament was well run and I heard many compliments. Elk Valley Casino welcome to the poker map. You have become one of my annual stops. I look forward to a bigger and better tournament next year. Players were treated exceptionally well and the players gave the staff a round of applause just before the start of the finals. Well done everyone.

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