Saturday evening, I meet up with Leon (Sailor Moe) and we enter a $100 buy-in, 10k GTD tournament at Planet Hollywood that is a part of their PHamous Series. 

As I go up to the counter to register for my tournament, I get a big surprise.  They are having a charity tournament in their upstairs poker area, where I’m playing at and the line next to mine is the line for the charity tournament.  Dennis Phillips walks up to enter the charity tourney, sees me and says “Hey, I know you.  How are you doing?”, as I’ve run into him at multiple tournaments in St. Louis that I’ve played in, and shakes hands with me.  We talk for a couple minutes, wish each other good luck and head off to our given tournament.  I recognized a number of the players in the charity tourney, as Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, Maria Ho, Jamie Gold and Montel Williams were playing. 

When I get to my table, table 61, seat 10, I see that this is going to get real interesting, real quick, as Leon’s in seat 2.  299 entrants and I have to have Sailor two seats to my left.  Not an ideal draw, but I’m going to have fun stealing his blind. 

We start with a 10k stack and 30 min levels in a very slow structure.  In the first two levels, I get a number of small pairs and since we’re deep, I’m absolutely setmining with them.  Unfortunately, I’m missing every single one of them.  I also pick up AK and AQ and have to fold those to large turn bets.  I’m now down to 6k chips and need to start doing something or I’m going to be way too short, way too quick.  Fortunately for me, I am able to hit a full house with 66 on a JJ6 flop right before the first break and get my stack up to 16k. 

I keep the streak going during the second two hour session, as I hit a few hands, steal a few blinds and get my stack up to 30400 and am in great shape compared to the average stack.  One hand that was notable was a big blind special.  I get 5 limps in front of me, so when I look down at 69o, I’m definitely not raising and see a free flop.  The flop is 9 high, so when the SB checks, I fire out a value bet.  Everyone folds, I take down the pot and give an evil grin to Leon.  At break, I told him why I did that and I think he wanted to throw me over the 2nd floor railing, “You played what?!”… lol.  

The third session is where the attrition starts to hit and the number of players left in the field is dropping rapidly.  As we hit 80 players left, I’m sitting just above the average stack, with 30 players getting ITM.

The third break hits at 1:30am and I’m hanging in with 31600 chips, which is just below an average stack.  There are 68 players left and even with 31k, I’m only sitting on an M of 5, so I need to be looking to pick up chips.

I’m stealing just enough blinds to try and keep my stack where it is, but can’t find a hand to save myself.  Every time that I get chips in the fourth two hour session is a steal, mostly with junk.  On the other hand, Leon is just stacking and stacking chips, as he hit a few hands against the lesser players that paid him off.

At break, I make a desperately needed Starbucks run, as I’m really short and we’re now down to the money bubble at almost 4am.  I’m doing my best short-stack ninja impersonation, as I’ve been under 4BB for almost two hours now… but I’ve still got a chair.  There are 34 left and I’m sitting 32nd.  I’m totally card dead, but find two spots to open-shove and take down the pot when everyone else folds.

I now get a spot where I would have shoved if it had folded to me, but there was an open in front of me, so I mucked A3.  It’s a good thing that I did, as two players behind me, including the shortest stack left, shove.  When the opener calls, we now have a 3-way all-in and take one player out.  About the same time, another table loses one, so we’re down to 32 and start the long hand-by-hand process. 

I’m trying to play smart, avoid the big stacks and pick on the medium stack to my left that if they double me, they’ll be in trouble of being the bubble.  This goes on for 2 orbits and unfortunately, I don’t even get a hand to shove nor be HU against someone on the right side of the table.  There are now two of the 4 tables that get all-ins.  One at my table and a 3-way on another table.  These knock out two players, so we’re now ITM!  We now redraw seats and I stay at table 61, but move to the 3 seat.  Leon gets moved to table 51 and runs into an old friend (Dr. Tricia), as he knows one of the players at his new table.

Since I’m short, I’m now looking for anything with equity to shove and I find it by open-shoving Q9s and get two callers.  The board runs out KQJTx, so I’ve got the idiot end of the straight and have to figure that someone has an ace and I’m out in 30th, but not so fast… my low end straight holds for a triple up! 

Two hands later, I get involved in another one and since I’m still short, I shove over a loose open limper with KTo.  The opener tanks for a minute or so and decides to call me with 22.  I get a king on the flop and double up again to get me near 100k chips.  It sounds like a bunch of chips, but it’s really not. 

When we get to two tables left, we redraw seats again and I’m off to table 51, seat 5.  I’m right back to where I was at in the beginning as Leon is in seat 7 and Dr. Tricia’s in seat 10.  I’m back to being card dead, but with the pay jumps starting to happen more often, I’m gladly letting the other players knock each other out.

Finally, at 6:30am, we get to the final table.  With the blinds now being huge, my 100k is still a short stack, so I’m looking for spots to get them in.  I can’t catch a break and finally get them in with 8 players left and when the board crushes me (knew I was behind already but had to go), I go out in 8th place for $623. It looks like the Hendon Mob is tracking this tourney, so this will get me an entry when their database updates.

The final table goes for almost another two hours, when the remaining players decide to do a chop.  Leon’s the shortest stack left in, but he gladly agrees to get $2k, almost double what his current position would pay.  Congrats!

My original plan was to play the Aria Classic bounty tournament at 1pm on Sunday.  Well, I decide when I get back to my hotel room at 9:30am, yes, I said 9:30am when the tourney started at 7pm, that I would take a two hour powernap and see what I feel like.  If I feel ok, I’ll go to Aria and play it and if not, I’ll wait and play the 7pm daily tournament.  Well, I felt fine when I got my wakeup call, so decided to go play it after a mandatory quad venti vanilla macchiato. 

246 players show up and I start out at table 41 seat 7 and immediately notice seat 1, as its Susie Isaacs (owner of two WSOP bracelets).  I start with 12k chips, but this is a much faster structure due to less of the lower levels.  In the first two hour session, I build my stack up to 15050.

I miss out on a big opportunity in the second session as I open-raise to 1k at 200/400 with black 5’s and have the table shorty shove on me with A8o.  With it only costing me an extra 1900 chips to call, I’ll gladly take a race for a $100 bounty.  Unfortunately for me, he flops an 8 and it holds for a double-up.   Not a good sign for me when I start off by losing a flip for a bounty.  There are now 180 players left, with 27 cashing and $11271 on top.

Just before my table breaks, I take another hit.  I have an open in front of me by the loosest player at the table and look down at QQ.  This opp has already shoved 4x and had to show total junk on one of them (sucked out), so I’m more than happy to 3-bet to isolate him, as I know it won’t be hard to get his chips into the pot.  Unfortunately, things don’t go as planned, as I get 4-bet by the player to my immediate left.  This player has only been in a few pots and has shown an ace each time… so what does the flop bring, Axx.  My plan before I saw the flop was to c-bet any non-ace flop.  Well, since I’m most likely behind, I check and when the opp bombs the flop, I have to let my QQ go.

I’m now off to tale 33 seat 2 with 150 left in the tournament.  At this new table, I end up going card dead, which is not good because the blinds are rising very quickly.  I get nothing the first two orbits and am now down to 12k in chips (a starting stack). 

With 90 players left, I’m able to steal two sets of blinds and get my stack up to 17k, which is still short as the blinds are now up to 600/1200/200.  This level is another where I’m card dead, but unfortunately, I can’t pick up chips stealing either, as three of the others are the table are in shove mode too.  I’m now down to 13200 as the blinds go up to 800/1600/200.

With 70 players left, my table breaks again and I’m off to table 31 seat 1.  I now have seat 10 open-shove (I’ve got him covered by 300 chips somehow) and I look down at 99.  I’M ALL IN!  The rest of the table folds and I see that I’m in another race for a $100 bounty as the opp flips over AQ.  Well, the race doesn’t last long, as the flop has a K, the turn is a J and the river is a 10. UGH!  Two flips for $100 bounties and twice I’ve been ahead and got flipped.  I’m all in the next hand with JTs and get crushed when the opp flops trip A’s, so I’m out in 68th place.

With the four tournaments that I played, I’m very happy with my play in them, as there were only two situations that when I went back thru them, that I probably should have played differently.  Playing against some of the best in the world, my worst finish was still a top 30%, with a win and another final table that will get me a Hendon Mob flag.  So, while it could have been better, it could have been a ton worse.   The quad aces on a video poker machine and mini-progressive on a penny slot with some freeplay didn’t hurt either.

The next tournament series that I will play in will be the HPT at Ameristar at the beginning of August.  I’m looking at playing the bounty tournament, a main event satellite and possibly another event.