10 AM Feb 23 2012, Red Rock Casino, 14th (17 entries)

The Red Rock Casino is the nearest one to my apartment, only about half as far away as the Strip. Not only is the quantity of the drive better, so is the quality. Instead of traveling through less and less pleasant surroundings as you approach the Strip from the west, you drive through Summerlin, one of the nicest areas in all of Las Vegas.

There are still more pluses to playing the 10 AM tournament at the Red Rock. The poker room guarantees a minimum prize pool of $1500 no matter how few players enter (assuming enough show up to hold the tournament). I've played here twice now and each time there have been about 15-20 players.

I prefer the earlier starting time, too. There's a handy little deli right next to the poker room, the tables are well spaced apart from one another, and it's in a quiet section of the casino.

Also, the Red Rock is a really nice casino to begin with.

Enough with the preliminaries. Here are rundowns of a few critical hands that were played before my second unexpectedly quick tournament exit in a row.

Once again the table was a little shorthanded at the start, with only five players for the first few hands, then seven for the rest of the time. In the first critical hand, I was in late position holding

With one limper in front of me, I put in a 5x raise to 250. Everyone folded except for the little blind and the limper, who both called. At this point in the tournament my chip stack was at about 7400, down a bit from its starting size of 8000.

The flop came

The little blind led out with an almost-pot-sized bet of 700, the limper called, then, after pausing briefly to assess the situation, I raised to 2100. The little blind folded, and the limper called.

The turn came

The limper checked, I bet 2000, and the limper once again called.

The river came

The limper pushed all his remaining chips into the middle, about 2300 or so. With a little over 3000 chips remaining, I had him covered, so I decided to call. He turned over

This hand completely devastated my chip stack. I now only had about 750 chips left, less than 10% of the starting stack.

With the benefit of hindsight, I clearly made a serious mistake only betting 2000 on the turn. If I had put the other player all-in right there he would have been making a bad mistake by calling, and probably would have folded his hand. Since instead I only bet about 1/3 of the pot, I provided him with a sweet invitation to hit his draw on the river. I did at least recognize that he was probably on some sort of drawing hand, but I didn't make the right play based on that read.

With my stack now decimated, on the very next hand, holding

I pushed all 750 chips into the middle. Only one player called, so we turned our cards over. He was holding

The flop came

Then the turn came

giving me a gutshot straight draw in addition to the eight or jack scenario. The river came

so I was still in the tournament. Not only that, I managed to gradually built my stack back up to more than 3000 chips during the next few rounds of play.

As is customary on this blog, here's the hand that finally did end my tournament. Still in the second level, I held

under the gun and raised 3.5x to 350. The button reraised to something close to my entire chip stack, so I obviously put the rest of my chips in the middle. When we turned our cards over the button showed

The button was a 54% to 46% favorite preflop. The flop was a dramatic one, fit for TV:

This nice-but-could-have-been-better flop swung the odds in my favor, 66% to 34%. The turn was a card I had been looking for on the flop, whose sole role had now been converted into acting as a blank:

At this point I am now an 80% to 20% favorite to double up and be right back in the thick of things. But alas, the 20% section of the deck hit on the river, in the form of the

Rebuys are allowed for the first hour. This hand occurred about 45 minutes into the tournament, so I could have rebought for another 7000 chips (the reason it was 8000 to begin is you can buy an extra 1000 chips for just $5 when you arrive before 10 AM), but I chose to just get up and drive across the street to get some shopping done at Costco before heading back to the apartment.

I think this made me the first player to leave the tournament for the second day in a row. Three other players had gotten knocked out ahead of me, but they all rebought and were still playing when I left.