ATLARGE 2005 Trip Report


I had planned to leave around noon Thursday for the drive to A.C., but events out of my control had me finally getting on I-95 around 6pm. I was also bummed that a Saturday night Basia concert (at the Borgata) that I had tix for was suddenly cancelled on Thursday morning. (I later found out that it was due to visa problems). Anyway, I got to the Taj around 9:30, and didn't feel like playing that much "serious" poker; so I jumped in a 2-4 hold'em game, and instantly thought I had somehow driven to California instead and was playing at the Commerce. Seven to eight players on every flop, even with a raise. One of the funnier hands I won was when a two-Heart flop board caught runner-runner Hearts, and the table suddenly came alive. Thankfully, I had the Ace, but the three other players had the King, the Jack, and the Nine. I hung around for about two hours, won five bucks, and crashed for the night.


Of the three tourneys, I enjoy the H.O.E. event the best. I get bored playing the same game for hours upon end, so anything to cycle the games is a good thing in my book. I wound up winning most of my early hands in hold'em. AQ vs A4 with a board of Qx4KK. AQ vs AK with a board of QxxJx. Pocket Aces actually held up once, bringing my total to T5400. I scored a monster pot in Omaha, when I raised pre-flop with Ad2d2h3c, the flop came 4d5dJd for the nut flush, and a 7h hit the turn for a low. Just the night before, 8-2 Mike had reminded me that scooping pots is how you make money in Omaha. That win, combined with a Hi/Lo Stud win of trip Aces beating trip Kings, put me at T10700 at the second break.

One thing I noticed in this (and the other two tourneys) is that I tended to get crappy cards early on in the event, but later picked up some premium hands that paid off big in the later, more expensive rounds. So even though I was silently cursing all the lousy hands I'd have to fold over and over again, it worked out to my advantage later on when I started catching the good ones in the middle rounds. So I'll never whine about a slow start again. One other cool item of note. I happened to be at Goldiefish's table, and he taught me an insane game called "Chowaha". I can't wait to give it a try at the next dealer's choice night at the 8-2 Club.

I held my own as the tourney continued, was very happy with my play, and found myself at the final two tables. The levels were 1000-2000 at this stage, so any hand I committed to would basically put me all-in. By now, it was around 4:30, and 8-2 Chris volunteered to grab me a sandwich, as I was the only 8-2'r left in the tourney. As with last year, it was an Omaha hand that did me in. In late position, I raised pre-flop with KcQcQdJc, and got at least one caller. The flop was Tc5d8c, so I had both a Straight and a Flush draw. I called the bet, and the turn brought a club Trey. I had the Flush, but it also gave someone a low. I threw in my remaining T2000, hoping to split, but my opponent turned over the Ace-Deuce of Clubs, busting me out at #16. I was sad to miss the final table, but I played well, and I did manage to last longer than my fellow 8-2'rs. Thirteen of us had contributed twenty bucks for a "Best in Show" pool. Whoever placed the best in all three tourneys combined ("best" being determined by arcane formulas courtesy of 8-2 Dave, involving advanced hypermath, logorithms, and the golden ratio) won the $260 prize, so I was at least ahead for that award.


I take a quick snooze before heading back down for ring games. 8-2 Mike cons me into joining him at a 5-10 hold'em table, and after an hour or two of play, I'm up about fifty. Then, I'm dealt the infamous 82o hand. I smoothly call the bet, and flash my cards to Mike, who has already folded. He whispers back, "You should have raised." I'm thinking he's right when the flop comes 8Q2 rainbow. Me and "Big Matt" Ivestor get into a raising war, and finally put in four bets. The turn is beautiful 8, and I keep raising until I realize that Matt isn't going to stop raising either. Hmmmmmm. Could he have pocket Queens? Nah, he would have raised preflop with Queens. He must be betting his trip Eights, so I raise again. He re-raises. Okay, now I'm scratching my head and just call. The light bulb goes off above my head, and it suddenly dawns on me that he might have Q8. The river is a brick 7, he bets, and I sheepishly call to see his Q8. Oh, that cruel fickle 8-2 hand. Now I'm down fifty, and I lose another fifty before calling it a night.


Although I wasn't relishing an entire day of playing Hold'em, I sat down vowing to do better than last year's abysmal outing. We started with T3000, and for the first three rounds, I got nothing but dreck. I had T2875 at the first break, and the exact same amount by the second break. By break three, I had been blinded down to T2400. If I didn't catch a hand soon, it didn't look promising. I finally went all-in with QJs, and got one caller with pocket Tens. A Queen flopped, and the Tens got no help, so that got me to T7600. With over 200 players, it was hard to see who busted out when the clapping was heard. I would try to see if any 8-2'r was standing with the applause, but sometimes I couldn't tell. I think by the third break, three club members had been eliminated. Because of the large number of entrants, a good finish in this tourney would weight extremely heavily in the "Best in Show" prize pool. So I needed to hang on as long as possible. My table is the first to break, and I think I get moved two times. I'm finally seated at table number one.


I'm the big blind, and look down to see JT suited in Clubs. UTG calls, and the little blind calls. The flop comes a lovely Ad Kc Qh, giving me Broadway. I decide to slowplay my monster, and bet T2000. UTG goes all-in! Yes!!! LB folds, I call, and turn over my Straight. UTG turns over my worst nightmare -- pocket Aces. Holy crap! I start screaming "No Pair! No Pair!" to the dealer, and he flips over my second worst nightmare -- the case Ace!! Quad Aces. IGHN. But WAIT!!! Matt Matros, who is sitting in seat 8, notices that the turn was the Ace of Clubs. Believe it or not, I actually have ONE out card. If the Queen of Clubs falls on the river, I have a Royal, and news of this suck-resuck hand will be echoing through the ARG distros for years to come! The dealer burns and turns. Alas! No Club Queen. IRGHN. I bust out just about at the halfway point, at position #103. I later compute the odds of my opponent beating my Straight after the flop. Turns out I am a 2-1 favorite to win, so I am happy with my all-in bet, and would have done the same thing even if I had known he had Aces.


Well, we were down to the last tourney, and so far, the 8-2 Club was a no-show at any final table. The streak was in serious jeopardy, as there has always been at least one 8-2 member making the final table in at least one of the three tourneys. I like Stud, because of the additional information you get from other player's up cards. I also wanted to place high enough in this tourney to assure my lock for the annual "8-2 Best in Show" pool. The first round was a bizarre one, where Aces and Kings would get beaten by rivered trips, and trips would lose to runner-runner flushes. It got to the point where I really didn't want to get starting cards of a high pair, as the chances of them holding up were apparently extremely slim. 8-2 Dave took some substantial hits from major suckouts, as 8-2 Cary and myself just shook our heads in disbelief, silently glad it wasn't happening to us. By the end of Round One, I had increased my starting stack of T3000 to an "impressive" T3200.

Shortly after the break, I got moved to another table -- this time, against two other 8-2 members: Graham and Ron. I won the first hand, but then hit an incredible dry spell. Things were looking bleak chipwise, when I looked down and saw (98)7. Not seeing any Sixes or Tens, I decided to call 8-2 Graham, who had completed the bring-in bet with a Jack showing. I catch a Five, and Graham fires off a bet. I decide to pay for one more card, and lo! it is the magical Six, completing my straight. However, Graham has caught another Jack. He bets, and I raise, expecting him to just call; but he raises! Now I figure he must either have Jacks-Up, or worse yet, trip Jacks. Either way, I've got him beat at present, so I raise it again. Now he's thinking. And thinking. And thinking some more. Finally he calls. I catch an Ace, and he catches a spot card. Since I don't know what card he needs to make his boat, I have no way of telling if sixth street helped him or not. He checks, I bet, and he simply calls. Now I'm sure that sixth street didn't help him. I don't even bother looking at my down card, and bet when he checks to me. Mister Cool, that's me. Sort of like Bond, James Bond. I'm not just Cool, I'm Suffe-cool! When he pauses, I know he didn't make his hand. He thinks for a while longer, and finally calls, revealing his trip Jacks. I turn over my cards, showing my Straight on the first five cards, and then seeing that a river Ten gave me an even higher Straight for added effect. Shazam. More tourney chips for me, and I took them from a possible contender for the "Best in Show" pool. Afterwards, I computed the percentage chance Graham had to make either a boat or quads. Assuming his other two non-Jack cards were all "live", he had a 311/861 = 36.1% chance of beating me. I actually thought his odds of making his hand would be higher. Thrilled with my victory, I take a huge hunk of chips from 8-2 Ron on the very next hand, when he makes an A-J Flush on fifth street, but I make an A-Q Flush on sixth street. I'm on fire, and wind up with T7900 by the end of Round Two.

I really liked playing at that table, and not just because I won a hunk of chips from both Graham and Ron. We had the funnest (is funnest a word?) table in the room. Poor TrayRacer was getting hit with a huge disproportionate number of bring-in cards. It got so bad, he started actually putting out his bring-in money before the cards were even dealt. And sure enough, he'd be the bring-in! Then, other players started announcing that they would be the bring-in player by advance posting their chips, and shazam! they would be right! We were actually having more fun calling out the bring-in's than with the actual playing of the hands. It was one of the highlights of my week.

At Round Three, I get moved to yet another table. This one has 8-2 Mike at it, and not only does he have a goodly amount of chips, he is also an excellent Stud player who has placed in the money upon numerous occasions. Plus, if he finishes high enough compared to me, he could sneak in a "Best in Show" win himself. So I really don't want to go head-to-head with him unless absolutely necessary. At this level, we're playing 300-600, and I start with three Hearts and call. When a player pairs her Nine and bets, I call as I caught a fourth Heart. Again, I like Stud because I have seen that Hearts are very live, so I am willing to draw out on her. I brick on Fifth Street, but catch my Flush on Sixth Street and raise her back. She just calls, so I figure her for two pair. I bet the river without looking, she calls, and mucks when I show the Flush. Another sizeable pot won, and angry scowls from 8-2 Mike as my chip lead increases. Shortly after, I'm dealt (AA)K, but another Ace is showing. I raise, and get one caller. I catch the case Ace for trips, followed by a Queen and then another King. With me showing KAQK, my opponent finally tosses away her hand in disgust, and I show my Aces Full of Kings for dramatic effect. My trough is overflowing.


8-2 Mike finally busts out when his pocket Tens don't improve, and with 8-2 Graham also out, I'm now a lock for the "Best in Show" pool. $260 bonus for Cactus Kev, baby!! Okay, play continues and we're finally down to two tables. I'm doing extremely well, and then I make the one major mistake of my entire tourney play that week. It probably cost me my shot at winning in the top three places. I'm dealt (J9)J and raise when an Eight completes the bring-in. Fourth street doesn't seem to help either of us, so I bet and he calls. My opponent pairs his Eight, and I catch another brick. This time he bets, and I call. I brick again on Sixth Street, but he checks this time, so I do as well. That should have been my clue that all he had was Eights, but alas, my brain must have taken a bathroom break. Well, I catch a Nine on the river, giving me Jacks Up. My opponent bets. Great. What could he have, I wonder? All his up cards are lower than an Eight. Could he have started with Queen or higher in the hole, and paired up on the river like me? If so, his two pair would beat mine, and it would cost me another T3000. Well, I think and think and think some more. I really don't know what to do. I should have looked at all the money in the pot and just called, but I was also trying to play smart poker, which says to fold if you think you're beat. "Save yourself that 3000," I kept hearing my brain say. "He's got Queens-Up or Kings-Up, so fold already!" Reluctantly, I toss my hand into the muck. Half my stack is now gone. I later ask him if my Jacks-Up would have won, and he says yes. He made two smaller pair on the river. Oh well, live and learn. Shake it off and move on.


We're down to two tables of five each, and playing hand to hand. The antes are now huge, and I'm quickly running out of chips. Finally, two players bust out ahead of me, and I find myself at the final table, in the money! The 8-2 Club final table streak continues!!! The other 8-2'rs decide to hang around to see me through to the bitter end. I appreciated it, guys! I am the shortest stack at the table, but want to do the best I can. I move up in rank when Mordacai gets knocked out, but am still the short stack. I'm waiting to commit my chips on a worthy hand, but I'm catching hands like (83)6 and (T3)7. The antes are T500, and I'm down to my final T1000. I have two hands left in me. But no!! The timer goes off, and the antes bump up to T1000. Great. I'm forced to go all-in on my blind. I announce I'm all-in, put my bust-out 8-2 poker chip token in the pot, and don't even look at my down cards as I stand up, ready to exit. My up card is a 7 of Spades, but my neighbor also has a 7 showing, so that doesn't bode well. An Ace gives the obligatory "complete" steal attempt, but TrayRacer raises with a King showing. The Ace decides to fold, and I get to see what type of hand I'm up against. Well, I find out where the three Wise Men went after delivering their gifts to the baby Jesus, because Peter turns over trip Kings. Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi. Talk about putting the dagger into my chest. Well, I turn over my mystery hole cards, and find a Three and a Ten -- but they are both Spades. Hmmmmmmmm. Three Spades is good. I vainly try to remember how many Spades have been mucked, but I haven't a clue. Fourth street is brick for Pete, brick for me. Fifth street is brick for Pete, Spade for me! Hmmmmmmmm!! This is interesting. Of course, if Pete pairs up, it's over. Sixth street is bricks for both. The down cards come. Pete turns his over first. Brick. All he has is trip Kings. I pause for dramatic effect. I put the voodoo monkey dust on my final down card, and turn it over quickly. Two of Spades!!! Boo-ya!!!! Still alive, baby! Chip and a chair!! My T1000 just turned into T7000. Riding the rush, I ante my T1000 and look down to see pocket Nines. Again, Peter raises with a Five, and I go all-in. Nines for me, (5J)5 for him. Hey, Presto is no g00t for Stud hands, Pete! Let's deal the rest of 'em. Queen for me, brick for him. Brick for me, Jack for him, giving him Jacks-Up. I need help. Lo! another Queen for me, and brick for him! The river helps neither of us, and I nearly triple up to T19000! Cheers from the home team sweating me out! High fives around the table! That's why I like playing with ARG'rs. They are competitive, but friendly, even at the final table. You would never see this in a non-ARG tourney. With ARG events, everyone is there to have a fun time, and if you wind up winning, that's just iceing on the cake. And it's looking like I might pull an "oscar", just like in yesterday's NLHE tourney.

Well, the rush is doomed to not last, and I get all excited when I see (QJ)T. A King completes, I raise, he re-raises, and I'm forced to go all-in. As expected, I'm up against a pair of Kings. At least it's not three of 'em this time! The top end of my Straight is in trouble, with him holding two of my Kings. We both brick on fourth and fifth street, but I catch a Nine on sixth street. An Eight or King on the river will make me another "comeback kid" story. Can the magic possibly continue?? I turn my down card over. It's a Six. Game over, man. Game over. What a wild, wild ride. I get my $158.40 prize money, and head over to the Bombay for some road-food with my last food comp. Lastly, my tradition has always been that upon leaving the Taj, I take twenty bucks and place single one dollar bets for my close friends' numbers at the roulette table. Unlucky 13 turns out to be lucky this time, and my guitar-playin' buddy Scott winds up $35 richer this year.


So all in all, I had another great ATLARGE weekend, and may have to try to catch my first BARGE this year. TrayRacer told me that SIGGRAPH is either right before (or right after) BARGE this year, so the timing certainly works out. We'll see if it all pans out. Props again to Goldie for another smashing ATLARGE. Love the commemorative poker chip, dude! We're gonna try for at least eighteen 8-2 attendees next year, so watch out. Rumor has it the club shirt color will be forest green in 2006, but maybe we'll make it pink in honor of the Pink Game :)