My First Tourney Payout – Not Much

The online casino I play poker at is loaded with tournaments. Usually I play one table affairs where the last three standing cash out. But, that’s not the only way they’re dealt.

Every day, there are open tournaments. Pluck down the entry fee and you’re in! Some are free – with a cash prize. Others are satellites, qualifying you to play in more expensive tournaments without paying any more money. When it comes to these massive tournaments, I never look above the $1 or $3 level. It’s just a way to kill time.

Tonight, I entered a $1 tournament along with 1167 others. Someone was going to go home with over $250 on a $1 bet. Most would get nothing.

The game was Hold’em, no limit. Each player gets $1,500 in chips and plays from there.

I set my computer up with the tournament table over the ‘lobby’. I positioned the screen in such a way that I could watch the countdown as players started getting knocked off.

For the first few minutes it was slow. The first out in these tournaments is usually on the first hand… and usually someone who will later say, “Bad cards don’t kill you. It’s good cards that will do you in.” My guess is, a lot of players retiring early are doing so with a pair of aces that didn’t hold.

I watched the numbers ratchet through 1,000 and then 900 and 800. I was playing well but always below the middle of the pack moneywise.

The ante rose every fifteen minutes and there’d be a spurt of players tapped out. “Conservative,” I kept saying to myself. Not losing is more important than winning.

By the time we got down to 250 players, I was looking at what the tournament paid. Yes, the winner gets paid well, but it’s like falling off a cliff after that. By the time you’re at number 10, you’re down to $10.52.

I didn’t care. I wanted to make money. How much wasn’t important.

The numbers continued down. 200, 150, 130, 120. I looked at my stack. I had enough to break 99, where the payouts started, if I just sat and folded. I wasn’t getting anything to play anyway.

110, 109, 108, 107… the numbers were moving slower. No one wanted to be the last out before getting something. 106, 105, 104, 103. It struck me that I’d have to do something stupid at this point to get blown out.

102, 101, 100, 99, EUREKA!

A text message flashed on the table. At this point, all the tables would be synchronized. We’d play hand for hand. God forbid someone would play s-l-o-w-l-y and make an extra few cents.

There were prize breaks at 81 and 61. I blew by both and had nearly $30,000 in chips. And then, it happened.

I went in with a good hand and met up with a spectacular one. I lost, all-in, to a pair of Aces.

After playing 3:15, I finished 50th!

I had outlasted 1118 others and had won… this is going to sound so stupid… I won the grand total of…. hold on, here’s the email:

PokerStars Tournament #657810, No Limit Hold’em

Super Satellite

Buy-In: $1.00

1168 players

Total Prize Pool: $1168.00

Target Tournament #624430

9 tickets to the target tournament

Tournament started – 2003/12/13 – 23:30:00 (ET)

Dear ctwxman,

You finished the tournament in 50th place.

A $2.92 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

You earned 53.02 tournament leader points in this tournament.

For information about our tournament leader board, see our web site at


Thank you for participating.

I have no clue what 53.02 tournament points gets me. You can be sure, however, it’s not as good as that $1.92 net profit! Ah, the sweet smell of filthy lucre.

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