Poker: It Really Helps To Be Lucky… And I Was!

My Aces held and at the end of the first hand I had three times the chips of any other player!

No tease here. Straight to the conclusion. I won last night’s 7:00 PM poker tournament at the Venetian. it took until 1:00 AM, but I outlasted around 70 others.

If you’ve watched poker on television (and what a sad little life that exposes) you’ve seen the type of tournament I played. The big difference is money. At the World Series of Poker there are thousands of entrants at $10,000 apiece. My entry fee was around 1% of that.

The exact amount I won is unimportant (and won’t be divulged here). It was enough to keep my interest.

As the headline says,”it really helps to be lucky.” I was. There were two hands which were pivotal to my win.

venetian-poker-room.jpgThe tournament is played at tables of ten. As players are busted the tables thin until the poker manager shuts one down and redistributes the players bringing everyone back to ten.

At the end ‘final table’ has ten players which shrinks as they get tapped out. In this tournament the final nine players got paid on a sliding scale. I won nearly ten times what the ninth finisher got.

I got very lucky, very early.

On the first hand I had ‘the button&#185.’ One player called the blinds, another made a bet which I then raised substantially. The first player in called and the original player declared “all-in.”

OK–let’s step back a second. This is the first hand. We haven’t seen any of the common cards. All we know is what’s in our own hand. Going all-in means this player is putting all his chips on the line. He’s risking the entire tournament in the first thirty seconds!

I called. The original small caller called.

No flop and there were three players all-in. Two would soon walk.

We turned over our cards. The player who went all-in first had Queens. The other had an Ace and Eight suited (what was he thinking?). I had two Aces.

My Aces held and at the end of the first hand I had three times the chips of any other player!

We continued to play an hour and a half until the first break. I checked my chips and had a few thousand less than I did after the first hand. That first hand allowed me to be very cautious. It also scared other players from picking a fight because I had enough chips to end their night. I probably wasn’t the chip leader but I was up there.

For the next few hours I played well. My stack grew and I stayed at or near the lead.

Flash forward a few hours. With around 20 players left I was dealt a pair of Kings. I made a substantial bet which was answered by an all-in from the only player at my table with more chips. I called and he turned over two Aces.

Yes, Aces beat Kings… except there were five common cards to come. The flop was dealt and there was another King! Now I had a ‘set.’ It held and I won a monster hand crippling my biggest opponent.

The odds were against me. The most likely scenario was my being busted out by the guy with Aces. I got lucky.

By the time we got to the final nine I was in either eighth or ninth place. It’s tough to say. You can ask for a count of an opponents chips while you’re in a hand, but mostly you just eyeball them and guess.

I continued to play ‘tight aggressive’ and it worked. Slowly I ate away at the other stacks. I also watched as other players battled it out. One-by-one they went away.

At the very end it was me an another player–he a high school athletic director from Muncie, Indiana. My stack was around three times his.

I asked if he wanted to make a deal for the pot?

The poker manager awarded us both second place money then divided what was left (the extra that would go for first) proportionally by chip stack. He got a little more than second place money. I won a little less than first. It was a good deal for both of us.

We played around six hours. Yes, I was very lucky. There is always some luck in a long tournament. I also played really well. That gave me the ability to be there to get lucky!

I’ll probably play cards again today, but I really don’t have to. My goal was to face major league pitching and do well. I did.

&#185 – The button player moves last which is a strategic advantage. The button itself moves after each hand.

Stuff About Poker I Will Never Understand… Never

Tonight, after work, I decided to play a little poker. With Helaine’s help we’ve crawled back to even. Tonight, I added to that.

A quick recap. On August 12, I deposited $250 at We’d play until the money ran out. After a few weeks we were down around $150. It wasn’t going to last all that long.

My game tonight was a 2 table, 18 player tournament. Entry fee $5.50 ($5 into the pot, 50&#162 for pokerstars). Someone was going home with $36. Three others would win lesser amounts.

I played nearly 30 hands before going in the first time. After a few small wins, I drew one player all in to get fairly flush with chips, and then spent the rest of the game being cautious and protective. My finish was second, good for $27.

The winner was nearly out long before the final four. His miraculous save came by winning a lucky hand, filling in a straight with a 5 after he had gone ‘all in.’

As he and I played head-to-head for the top spot, a player who had been in the game started typing on the chat screen. He was ranking my opponent because he had won lucky. Truthfully, he was cruel and abusive.

But why? Because he was beaten in a $5.50 game? Where is the perspective in this man’s life?

Can the $5.50 really matter that much? And, even if you do lose to someone you consider an inferior player, over the long run, you’ll get your money back.

I want lucky players at the table, because their early luck only encourages them to chase for winnings, and hopefully, I’ll end up with some of their cash. When I play in these little tournaments, I assume that there are 3 or 4 players who have no idea what they’re doing… maybe they’ve seen poker on ESPN… and are getting educated.

But why was this busted player going after the chip leader?

In a brick and mortar casino, a manager would already be talking to him, letting him know that one more outburst would get him tossed (and they really will do that). Maybe it’s the perceived anonymity of the Internet… or he’s just an ass.

Actually, that’s more likely.