Borgata Bound for BPO – Part 2

(Note:  this is a continuation of Borgata Bound for BPO – Part 1)


Rob Strazynski did a write up about WPT’s lead reporter, BJ Nemeth.   In it, BJ said the following:

“If any other industry with a gender-neutral product (like computers, or bicycles, or whatever) learned that 95% of their customers were men, their top priority would be to figure out how to reach more women. If you could balance the ratio from 95-to-5 to 50-50 while keeping the number of men constant, that would represent growth of 90% – enough to be considered another poker boom.”

BJ’s right — women are the next poker boom!  I think poker rooms could be the foundation to this movement. But ladies only tournaments aren’t enough to attract more women into the game.  A lot of poker rooms have female poker pros as their ambassadors — Natasha Mercier for Hard Rock Tampa, Jessica Dawley & Loni Harwood represent Seminole Hard Rock in Ft. Lauderdale, and Esther Taylor-Brady reps Parx in PA — to name a few.  These women need more visibility.  Put these pro women’s faces on more branding, don’t just slap patches on them and have them go out there and play.  That doesn’t help our cause, you’re preaching to a choir of men there.  Set them up do to interviews with media outlets where they can talk about their experiences and what can be done to bring more women to the poker tables.  Additionally, poker rooms should support female driven outlets like @pokerwomennews as one example.  These are just a few ideas to help move the needle towards attracting more women into the game.

The great news is that back at the Bar Poker Open $100,000 East Coast Championship, there’s a boom of women players.  We are definitely working our way up thru the pub poker scene.   It’s a super comfortable environment that feels like a nice, warm ocean with tons of fish to be reeled in.  Our presence is so common that it doesn’t dawn on me that I’m completely flanked by women at my table. But Kaelaine Minton, live reporter for the Borgata Poker blog, notices us and thinks we’re blog-worthy.  She snaps our picture and writes us up for the BPO blog.

Thanks Kaelaine for capturing the moment to highlight women in poker. We just had our 1st WPT female winner in Ema Zajmovic, maybe when a woman takes down the WSOP Main Event we’ll get that Moneymaker effect.


Not long after that photo opp, I get moved.  As soon as I do, I get pocket aces for the 4th and last time.  I raise another league member’s big blind (sorry Marc) and get one 1 caller on the button, the chipleader at the table.   I lead out on a dry flop and he folds.  Maybe I should’ve checked there.   Again, miss value with aces.

After the pocket aces I’m card dead and can’t find any spots.  A few levels later the antes have eaten away at my stack and I’m short with 13 big blinds.  I can feel myself getting anxious when I get back-to-back pocket pairs in early/middle position —  first with pocket 44s versus another one of my league colleagues newly arrived at my table.  He raises 3x under the gun.  I’m not crazy about calling in middle position with two maniacs on my left.  My only move is shove or fold.  I choose to fold.

The very next hand I get 88. Again the under the gun player raises to 4x.  I think why so much?  I figure he also has a middling pair like 66, 77, 99, TT or AK. I decide to shove and hope for a flip scenario. He starts to ask for a count and cuts himself off, “Can I get a count– nevermind, I call.”  UGH.  My gut told me to fold.  He had pocket tens & that was the end of my tourney life, out a few levels shy of Day 2.

What did I learn from this tournament?  My takeaways were that three out of the four times I was dealt aces I played them horribly and could’ve gotten more value. More value equals more chips and if I quantify all those hands they add up over the span of the tournament and become crucial to staying alive when I’m card dead.  I also think in these lower stake tourneys, so close to the end of the day, I need to nit it up…

I could’ve folded the 88s and waited for a better spot like blind vs. blind with the guy to my right.   He had an even shorter stack and I had bluffed him to win a pot earlier.  When I looked at the tournament clock the average wasn’t too far off from my 13 bigs and I was probably closer to making Day 2 than I realized so I could’ve held out.  The one big theme reinforced for me: patience is truly a virtue.

BAR POKER OPEN DAY 3:  My First Taste of Live Reporting

I was asked to do some live reporting for the Borgata Poker blog as a kind of “audition”.  The audition entailed shadowing Kaelaine Minton for Day 1B of the East Coast Championship and writing up as many interesting hands as possible.  I agreed to do it because what better way to combine two of my passions — writing and poker — than live reporting?

Following Kaelaine around was truly a learning experience.  It is not an easy job, believe me.  You are on your feet non-stop, running around looking at the center of tables scoping out big pots and colorful hands.  And while you’re at a table jotting down a hand you’re scanning the room for familiar faces and characters (that’s my TV production instincts coming into play).  You never stop counting chips.  And as you’re dashing to your laptop to write up a hand you’re thinking of an angle, a way to tell this hand differently than the one before.  Your. Mind. Does. Not. Stop.

Late that night I went back to proofread my blog entries and found a few mistakes (on one hand I somehow arrived at a full house by the river when it was actually 2 pair), but Kaelaine had said it happens.  You’re flying by the seat of your pants and brain.  It’s old news, but for what it’s worth you can find all of my write-ups from the BPO Day 1B here.

Michael-Tuttle me taking notes in BG.jpg
That’s me, head cut off (background & right) over Mike Tuttle’s shoulder (center), scribbling down a hand
The live reporting trial run was exhilarating insanity.  I walked away from the experience thinking I don’t know which intensity I loved more — sitting down as a player or running around reporting the sick action and finding colorful ways to describe it — but I would love to do it again.

BAR POKER OPEN DAY 4:  There’s Great News & Bad News

This is the last day, Day 2 of the $100,000 East Coast Championship.  The great news is my league was represented by 4 out of the 8 players at the final table.  Insane!  The bad news is that while the field was losing players for that final table, I was losing more at $1/2.

Hand #1: Saying Sorry Doesn’t Cut It

The hand starts off with a bunch of limpers.  I’m in the cutoff with A2cc, I join the limpfest.  The guy on the button has heaps, he over limps, too.  There’s $10 in the pot.
F: 3c-5c-Kx

Checks around to Heaps who bets close to pot, it folds back around to me and I call.

T: 4s

I check/raise all in to $120 after Heaps bets $35. He thinks about it for a while and then calls.

R: 4x

Heaps flips his hand over and mutters, “I’m sorry.”  I kinda hear his apology, but it’s muffled by the premature and victorious, “YES!” erupting in my head.   So it takes me a second to realize why he’s apologizing.  My eyes adjust to make out his cards flipped over on the other side of the table — K4dd.  His runner-runner full house beats my straight, and I sit there a little incredulous.

Post Assessment:   I go back and forth about limping with this hand.  I had recently been studying Christian Soto’s strategies about that pain threshold, but at $1/2 I’m not sure that’s applicable.  If I raise big preflop with A2cc, I don’t think Heaps calls then the hand plays out predictably and I probably win a small pot.  I don’t think limping was a mistake if I don’t consider the results.  Again, open to outside feedback because my results oriented self is saying, “this hand really doesn’t constitute a cooler after all.  You let him get there.  It was crappy preflop play combined with a little bit of crappy run out…because you always find that balance of stupidity and unluckiness.”  Well, at least I’m balanced somewhere…

Hand #2: A Hot Mess of a Hand

I’m in seat 10 under the gun with AKo.  As I raise to $10, our favorite guy Heaps from Hand #1 (in Seat 1) is literally just coming back from a siesta.  Because he’s on the other side of the dealer he does not see my raise, and as he’s sitting down he absent-mindedly tosses in his post (what you pay when you miss the blinds and don’t want to wait for the big blind to come around to play), which triggers a limp-fest behind him.  I spot what’s happening and point out my raise to the dealer and call the floor over (talk about a tell, #CoverBlown).  The floor wants me to retract my raise.  “Why?!  I was first to act,” I say a little defensively (#MoreCoverBlown).  After some discussion, the floor sides with me and rules that my raise stands since the action was on me.  Now Seat 1, figuring that all those limpers behind were likely still gonna call, calls.  As the action circles around I do my best to dissuade folks barking, “don’t do it!” to no avail.  I succeed in talking 1 guy into folding.  Great.  So it’s 4 to a flop, the pot is $40.

F: A-K-4

I bet $35, Heaps in Seat 1 calls, everyone else folds. Pot: $110

T: 4

I have this sinking feeling about the 4 (that 4 again!), regardless I lead out for $80, he snap shoves, I snap call.  He has A4 and I lose again.  I got up, took a walk to breathe away the pain (thanks Tommy Angelo).  When he snap shoves, do you think you can fold?  Again, my results oriented mind thinks, “you fool, you should’ve folded.”

Yeah, I suffered some serious cash game coolers but lived to blog about it.  Overall, the BPO experience was an amazing one!  I really love the camaraderie you get, it’s like no other poker tourney I’ve played.  It’s like a team sport environment where the players on the bench (or rail) are rooting you on cheering loudly.  As far as my game, I played reasonably well, almost made it to the end of Day 1A of the East Coast Championship, and found another passion in live reporting.  I learned again that you never stop learning and will continue to study up on cash games.  My biggest lesson for me and one that I cover up with comedy in all of my posts — I need to become better at losing.  Hey, I do it so you can laugh at my pain (not really, but let’s go with that).  And the biggest win and best news  — the 2017 Bar Poker Open East Coast Champion was one of our league members, Mirbek Orozaliev aka “Iron Mike”(seated left, next to Ebony Kenney at the top of my blog).  Congrats Mirbek on taking it down!!


3 thoughts on “Borgata Bound for BPO – Part 2

  1. It’s amazing how you remember hands the way you do. I’m so impressed. Just another thing I need to do to step up my game. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

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