Thursday, April 23, 2009

I took a day off to play poker, why not?

Question: What is the Magnolia State Poker Tournament?

Answer #1: It's a poker tournament that just started at the Horseshoe Casino in Tunica.

Answer #2: It's the reason I decided to take a vacation day from work to go play (I finished 5th, going out on a cooler).

The tournament is listed in Card Player magazine here, and Bluff magazine here, and on the Horseshoe's own web site here.

I put on one of my new poker tee shirts for the occasion:

There were 107 other donkeys players besides me who showed up to play. The buyin was $230 for T6000 chips and for $10 more, you could do what was called a dealer appreciation and get T2000 more. Guess what? Everyone appreciated the dealers. The blinds started at 25/50 and moved up slowly and the levels were 40 minutes long -- excellent!

We had a 10 minute break every two hours. At the first break, my stack had fizzled down to ~T6000. That was the bad news, but the good news is that the blinds were still low and I had plenty of time to recover. I lost a good bit when I raised before the flop with A Q, and saw this flop: 10-6-3. It looks harmless enough, so I made a CB and got promptly raised. How dare they raise me. Don't they know I'm the MOJO? I guess not.

It always amazes me how many players get knocked out in the early stages. They give you a zillion chips, make the blinds teeny, and players still find ways. During the first two hours ~20 players were eliminated. (I'm guessing based on the fact that they broke two tables to use those players as fill-ins in other tables where people were busted.) EDIT: I thought of this after I posted: There were extra seats for late arrivals during Level 1, so some of these were the seats that weren't filled.

I don't remember any great hands for the next several levels, except this one. With the blinds 150/300, I had A 9 in the hijack position. It was folded to me, and I fired 900. Only the button called. the flop was awful: K J 9. I bet 1900 and the villain quickly called, uh oh. The turn was the K and I bet 4000. The other guy took forever, asked how much I had left (T1900) before folding. I guess he was on some kind of a draw, but I'm still not sure. I was one of the players who tried to bust out early, but they wouldn't accommodate me, hah.

During the second two hours, I was able to chip back up to around average. Actually that was my story-line all day -- I never really had a good chip stack. Part of it was I never had A-A or K-K or even Q-Q. I never had a set. I won good-sized pots with big slick twice, once at the final table which I'll recount later.

When we got down to two tables, players tightened up and I went on a rampage. I had A-5 off, moved all in and everyone folded. I had 7 7 and moved in again. My stack was so low that there was no point making a normal raise as I would be pot committed. Again, everybody folded. A player made a raise, was called and it was my turn. I moved in yet again, this time with A K. Both of them folded. This was at the point where the blinds and antes were very significant, so I really chipped up from a short stack, to an above average stack.

Everyone folded to me on the button, and I saw A J and raised yet again (not all in, I had chips enough to play normally by now). Again I picked up the blinds and antes. Finally the guy behind me was getting short stacked. It folded to me in the SB, and I raised again, this time with A-5 off. The guy said in a low voice, "I haven't looked at my cards," and moved all in. He only had around 19,000, and I had already bet 10,000, so calling was a no-brainer. Sure enough, he was telling the truth -- he surely hadn't looked -- and turned over 10-3 off. The flop came with not one, but two aces, and he was history. Would you make a give-up play like he did? I guess at that point he had nothing to lose, but his real problem was he was playing too tightly and let his stack get so low that it wasn't really functional.

At the final table, again at the beginning players were playing too tight as they settled in. Again, I chipped up by taking advantage.

Players loosened up and chips started flying, and players started dropping. When there were six of us left, I came in for a raise of 2.5 times the big blind (I think it was 20,000), and the short stack moved all in (I believe for 39,000). It wasn't that much more and I had A K, so I called, of course. The other guy turned over 6 6, and wasn't happy when the flop came with an ace.

At this point, there were five, and everyone had a pretty good-sized stack, so two of the guys suggested a five-way chop which would give us each around $3300, not bad. There was one guy who refused. I'm not sure why, he was lucky to still be in the tournament. Early at the final table, the board had A-x-x-x with one card to come, but three hearts on the board. The other guy put him all in with J10 for a flush. The guy who called had A K! A heart on the river saved him as he now had a higher flush.

We played for a while and I picked up these cards in the big blind: A 10. The blinds were 4000/8000 with a 1000 ante. It folded to me in the SB,and I raised to 24,000. The BB (who was the guy who wouldn't chop) raised to 54,000. It cost me 30,000 to try to win the giant pot that was developing. I could have folded, but I called, sue me.

The flop was amazing: A-10-x rainbow! I checked and the other guy moved all in! I called and he turned over A-A, yuck, and this knocked me out. To me, his all in was a terrible blunder. He had almost an impregnable hand, why run me out? He can't know I have two pair. He could check, he could bet a little bit, but all in? Anyway, it worked and I was out of there.

I collected my winnings, and cashed out (they pay you in casino chips). I took this photo of the shot clock on my way out:

The shot below was taken during our (tournament) dinner break. The poker room is in the far back. The people you see playing poker in the foreground are in satellites:

Bluesville is Horseshoe's theater where they have shows. Some are good, some not so much. It's a nice photo -- go ahead, click on it.

They'll let anybody come play in these tournaments.


  1. "Part of it was I never had A-A or K-K or even Q-Q. I never had a set...and I raised again, this time with A-5 off...The flop came with not one, but two aces, and he was history."

    So at least you had trip Aces, that's something too :-)


  2. Congrats Memphis on your showing. Great result. I need to get a shirt like that!!!

  3. Congrats on the cash!

    (Sorry the crubs did not get there on your last hand . . .)

  4. You take such nice casino photos. Do the security people ever give you a rough time?

  5. Thanks everybody. I had my eye on the $7,300, but a cash is a cash.

    @Crash: I've never had a problem (he knocks on wood). Outside, I don't think they care. Inside, I try and be discrete -- (1) I never use a flash, (2) I take my camera out, grab my shot and move on.

    Remember the trouble the Grump had? I think that was a case of security people who hadn't been trained and had no clue what they were doing -- then things snowballed. I'm in the friendlier South, and I don't expect any trouble, or at worst, a warning. (Again, knock on wood.)