$13,800 poker tournament win

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Top 20 places of $100,000 guarantee event – @SandsPokerRoom

I won $13,800 at the final table of the August 2015 Sands Bethlehem $100,000 guaranteed prize pool poker tournament. 

Last night, I made it through a field of 813 total entries in a No Limit Hold ‘Em poker tournament to reach the final table at which I agreed to a multi-way chop — a fair split of the upper half of prize pool money distributed among the last remaining players — which awarded me $13,800.

The top five players who remained following a short period of play received slightly more than the others. We then concluded the tournament when five players remained to collect and split the upper portion of the prize pool effectively having a five-way tie for first place although official paperwork/signed forms said otherwise because casino staff cannot alter the original payout/placing structure.

Receipt from free tournament entry through top 50 hours promotion
Receipt from free tournament entry through top 50 hours promotion

I originally entered the tournament through a Sands Bethlehem promotion which awarded me and 49 other players who logged the most hours in poker cash game play from August 1st-10th a free entry to the tournament valued at $250 – the standard price for the entry of this event. Since I regularly play cash games at Sands, I won a free entry. I would have preferred to transfer the tournament ticket to another player who would compensate me for the ticket, but as per the rules of the casino I was unable to transfer the ticket.

After I discovered I was unable to transfer the ticket, I considered not playing in the event because I would very likely be able to make more than $250 playing cash games instead of playing in the tournament for several hours and possibly busting – making no money. After all, my focus and expertise is playing in cash games. Although I have watched some videos about tournament play and listened to some podcasts about tournament play, my focus is on cash game play. I played in fewer than five online tournaments — all free entries — and never played in a casino-hosted poker tournament.

Instead of staying home, I decided to play in the event mainly for the experience of a live poker tournament having a possibility of making some money. Even if I were to bust, I would learn something that would likely help me in a future tournament I may play in through a similar promotion.

Early on, I maintained a decently-sized stack of chips and progressed to day two of the tournament with 120,000 chips (a medium-sized stack compared to the field) – far from being a chip leader, but absolutely in the hunt for winning a minimum amount of money.

Day two began and I, about four hours in, experienced some downswings which crippled my chip stack. I mounted a comeback from a low chip stack — anticipating cashing out for about $700 — to a sizable stack which allowed me to comfortably reach what eventually became the final table. I maintained confidence, picked spots carefully, took intelligent risks, and experienced some fortune among the misfortune using my skills from cash games and slight tournament knowledge to experience success.

Chips counts, table placements going into day two - second half of alphabet
Chips counts, table placements going into day two – second half of alphabet – @SandsPokerRoom

I never imagined winning $13,800 [in one day] playing poker, but am obviously quite happy that what started as a hobby during a holiday break in 2013 buying in for a mere $5 in online cash games with $0.02 and $0.05 blind levels.

A large deal of thanks, although I are due to people who have assisted in my development as a poker player:

Thanks to my friend Steve for sparking my interest in poker, reviewing my online sessions, talking about strategy, and offering a good deal of support.

Thanks to Mohegan Sun Pocono players AJ, Tyler B, Eric, Leo, Justus and other regulars who have offered inspiration and helped me improve my game.

Thanks to Mohegan Sun Pocono and Sands Bethlehem staff including dealers, cage workers, and poker floor supervisors.

Thanks to Evan Jarvis of Gripsed.com whose YouTube videos — including tournament review videos I ‘crammed’ before day two of the tournament — have been extremely helpful. His extremely accessible free content provides excellent information for beginning, intermediate, and advanced poker players alike.

Thanks to James ‘SplitSuit’ Sweeney from ThePokerBank whose YouTube videos offer high quality, in-depth content.

Thanks to online content producers from the Gambling With An Edge podcast (Richard Munchkin, Bob Dancer, past host Michael Shackleford) ; Thinking Poker Podcast (Andrew Brokos, Nate Meyvis); and Crush Live Poker podcast (Bart Hanson) who all offer high-quality content.

Thanks to commentators of the excellent, unique Live At the Bike! video series which streams casino cash games.

Thanks to video producers and forum posters on Grinderschool.com including Joe ‘TheDefiniteArticle’ Towse whom I hired as a coach in late 2014 to primarily improve my lower stakes online play. Although Joe targeted his coaching toward my online play, I used information from our private sessions to help me succeed in casino play. Grinderschool videos were extremely helpful in improving my play.

Thanks are also due to others not mentioned here– non-poker players and poker players alike — including supporters who follow me on social media accounts, friends, and family members. The support is very much appreciated.

$13,800 deposit with some blurted information
$13,800 deposit with some blurted information

I do not plan on going wild with an extra $13,800 added to my worth; I won’t be making extravagant purchases, taking an inordinate amount of time off from poker, or changing much about my standard of living. I shall, for the moment, continue to play with my standard $2/$5 cash game buyin and only gradually increase the buyin even though I can now afford to play for higher amounts following my tournament win. The money has been added to a casino-based account and will be reinvested into poker.

The lifestyle of a poker player can obviously be rewarding, but often does not come easy because of the incomplete information/uncertainty and stress associated with poker. I’ve dedicated a significant amount of time away from the tables to improving my poker game so that I can experience better results. I plan to continue working hard both on and off the poker tables. There’s still much to learn and I am only in month eight of playing full-time. Although luck is part of the game, the skill component is very large and often underestimated – study and discipline in both the mental and technical areas of poker are important.

2015 has been a great year for me. Every month has been a winning month allowing me to expand my poker bankroll and account for standard life expenses in my monthly budget. The future looks bright.

Enjoy this short video clip produced by Kenny Luck recorded in February of 2015 in which I talk about playing poker: