Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Moneymaker or Not

I haven't played any golf or poker lately.  But I did read a poker (player) book.

Few days ago, my brother texted me from Knoxville asking for the last name of our club soccer coach back in the high school days.  I thought I could use Google to quickly find out.  The club season was in the autumn and the high school soccer season was in the spring.  Our club coach was also an assistant coach for Farragut High School in the spring.

I ended up on a Farragut High School sports website and at the bottom of the page it had a list of notable alumni.  The list had a few NFL players and a couple of MLB players.  And then, I saw the name, Chris Moneymaker - 2003 World Series of Poker Champion.

I was shocked.  During the past fifteen years, I always thought that Chris Moneymaker was an accountant from Nashville, Tennessee.  I checked out his Wikipedia page and it said that he attended high school in Knoxville and also graduated from the University of Tennessee...so did I!  Pretty cool stuff.  I couldn't believe that I didn't know this before.

Scrolling down the Wikipedia page, the bibliography section mentioned his book, Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player Turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker.  I opened Google Play Books and the book was available as an Ebook for $6.99.  I had a $5 credit towards any Ebook from Google and decided to use it.  

I bought the Ebook for $1.99 to see what Chris had to say about growing up in Knoxville.  I sure didn't buy the book to learn about his historic win.  We all already know how that went down.  ESPN (and now YouTube) has plenty of videos on the 2003 WSOP Main Event.

It was an easy read and I finished the book over the weekend.  Most of the book was about his 2003 title run.  But he did talk about growing up in Knoxville and attending the University of Tennessee before graduating and moving to Nashville.  The most interesting thing from the book...spoiler alert (if you plan to read it).

Chris entered and won an 18 player $40 online satellite tournament on PokerStars in early 2003.  The prize was an entry into a $600 satellite tournament that paid $8,000 to the fourth place finisher while the top three received a free entry into the 2003 WSOP Main Event plus travel expenses.

He made it to the final four out of 68 players.  Chris and his wife were struggling financially and he planned to finish exactly fourth and take the $8,000 cash.  During the final table play, his buddy Bruce was on the phone with him and offered him a deal.  Bruce said that he would give Chris $5,000 for 50% of his Main Event winnings.  Chris agreed and finished in the top three.

A week later, Bruce told Chris that he was backing out of the deal!  Chris had to scrambled and ended up selling 45% to his dad and few buddies.

Bruce had a chance to turn Moneymaker into a moneymaker but he decided not to.  His decision to back out of the agreement cost him an opportunity to pocket $1.25 million!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Road to the Final Table

I've played in nine poker tournaments during the past three years.  This post is about my tenth entry.  I almost didn't even play.  I went to get a haircut but they were too busy.  I ended up going to another place near by.  By the time I was done, the tournament had already started.  I checked on my phone and there was no traffic, so I decided to give it a shot.

There were about 200 players already in the tournament as I entered one hour late.

With blinds at 200/400 and a 50 ante, I look down at 9♣-9.  It checks to me in hijack-1.  I have 14,000 and bet 1,500.  Two callers, seat 5 and seat 7 with 50,000 chips.  I had not seen many hands so I didn't know much about the players.  One hand that I did see involved seat 7 going all-in on the turn and getting called.  The caller had trip tens but seat 7 had the nut flush.

The flop is 3-8-J and I bet 3,000.  Seat 5 folds but seat 7 calls.  The turn is a Q, he checks, and I check.  The river is a 2 and he moves all-in.  I needed some time to think through this one.  Was he on a flush draw?  Did he interpret my check on the turn as weakness?  I had seen him go all-in before and he had the nuts.  Could he be holding Q-x or J-x?  I doubt it since those hands would at least bet before the river.  With what hand would he check-call the flop, check the turn, then go all-in...9-10?  Unlikely, I'm holding two nines.  None of it was making much sense.  I could fold and still have 20 big blinds.  If I call and lose, I can rebuy.  What would you do?



A new player got moved to our table with a short stack.  Not too long after, he shoved and I called with A-5.  He had A-K but the board paired twice so we chopped.  

The blinds were 800/1600 with a 200 ante.  I was in the BB with 7-5.  There was a min bet and a lady with only 4,500 moved all-in.  It folded to me and I decided to put in 2,900 more to win 13,400.  We checked the flop.  The turn was a 7 and the river a 5.  She had K-K and was not happy to be knocked out by my pitiful hand.

Then I called an all-in by another short stack.  I had J-8 and he had 10-7.  The flop brought a 7 but an 8 arrived on the turn.  He started to get up but changed his mind when a 10 came on the river.  I lost close to 10,000.  I chipped up nicely after that but didn't have time to write down the hands.

I got moved to another table but wasn't there for long.  I did witness a massive pot between 3-3 and A-4 on a board of 2-3-x-5-x.  They broke the table shortly after.  I ended up in seat 8 at the new table.  By the second break, there were 60 players left and I had 90,000 chips.


The blinds were going up fast.  An older lady moved all-in with 40,000 chips and I looked down at A-K.  I moved all-in and everyone else folded.  She flipped over A-J.  The flop was A-K-9, the turn brought a Q, but the river was a harmless 8.  That got me up to 140,000 with 50 players remaining.

I called 6,000 with K-J after the big stack called.  The BB was also in the hand and bet 10,000 on a J-10-7 flop.  The turn was an 8 and the BB bet 20,000.  Both of us called.  The river was a K and he bet 20,000.  The big stack called and I called.  The BB showed J-10 (I think), the big stack folded, and I scooped.  This got me up to 220,000.


The bubble broke shortly after.  The blinds were skyrocketing.  I called a pre-flop bet of 36,000 with J-J.  The flop was ace high with two hearts.  I folded to a bet.

I didn't get many playable hands until we got down to 18.  The blinds were 10,000/20,000 with a 3,000 ante.  The BB called 20,000 and seat 2 moved all-in for 100,000.  I looked down at A-Q and moved all-in for 74,000.  The BB folded.  Seat 2 flipped over K-K.  The flop was A-J-10 and I had to hold my breath.  The turn and the river were bricks.

Then I got dealt A-Q again.  I called a 55,000 bet from seat 3.  The flop was J-10-9 and he checked.  I moved all-in with 120,000 and he thought about it.  He decided on a call.  He flipped over A-Q also!  We chopped.

I didn't see anything worth playing for two orbits.  Each table was down to seven players.  I looked down at K-10.  Seat 3 bet, seat 4 called, and I moved all-in.  They both called.  The flop was K-x-x, seat 3 bet, and seat 4 folded.

Seat 3 showed A-A!  I went up against the cowboys twice and outdrew them both times.  But I couldn't dodge the bullets.  After seven hours of play, I cashed for less than $200 profit but enjoyed the battles on the road to the final table.