Overall I have no problem of the concept of Charity Poker. However, it seems that the hosts often only have their profit in mind and not what's best for the players. If half of the prize pool is going to go to the charity, well, I guess that's fine since I knew up front that some of the money was gong to charity. But, when the hosting organization advertises a guaranteed first place prize of $XXX then has too low of a turnout to justify that prize, well, that's when I start to have a problem with it.
It must have been over a year ago now that I contacted the American Legion a block from my house about their upcoming Charity Tournament. I talked at length with the organizer about different aspects of the tournament including buyin, structure, etc. I wasn't interested in playing the first event but did show up to see how good the players were.
Since then they have had several other tournaments that I was unable to play due to conflicts with my own home game or with my kids' schedules. When I saw that they were having another tournament this past weekend I was excited to be able to play.
I was one of the first to sign up so I had no idea how many players there would be. When I came back for the start I found out that the attendance was much lower than then expected 40-50. There were only 26 entrants. At the time I didn't bother to do that math to figure out what kind of prize pool that would be since it was a rebuy and I had no way of knowing how many rebuys and/or add ons there would be.
We started playing and I was shocked at the play. So many pots were limped or minimum raised with 5-7 callers. I folded quite a bit until I picked up AQ in early position. I raised and got, OMGWTF!, 5 callers. I c-bet the flop and one guy stuck around. I had whiffed and had to give up the pot when he bet the river.
The next hand I played was AJh UTG. I had decided that I was going to shove the flop no matter what hit as I was getting seriously short on chips having spewed with the AQ that missed and folding for several rounds. The flop missed me but I shoved and got two callers. I ended up rivering broadway and tripled up.
Two hands later in the SB I couldn't justify folding J9o with about 18 other players in the hand. I flopped the nut straight with two clubs on the board. I checked and the next player bet out and all the rest called his bet. Well there was definitely enough in the pot to make me happy so I raised the pot. I get one caller who asked, "Do you have the straight?" The woman on my right mumbled something like, "Well what do you think she has?" with heavy sarcasm. LOL! He had called me with x9 and was drawing to a chopped pot which he missed. Rebuy!
I was in pretty good shape after those two hands when I got moved to another table. I don't recall playing any hands on that table before the break. I agonized over whether to buy the add on or not since I was in the top 5 or 6 chip wise without the add on. In the end I decided to add on. Had I realized that they were taking about 50% of the prize pool for the charity and had guaranteed $800 to 1st and were only going to pay $100 to 2nd and $50 to 3rd I wouldn't have bothered to add on as I would be playing to only break even for 2nd.
I was the BB first hand back from the break. The cutoff or button was a short stack with only 2BB left. He limped into the pot. I looked down at ATc and I said I'll put you all in. My AT>Q4.
I was UTG with AK and raised it 3x which is obviously something these people HAD NEVER SEEN BEFORE. Fortunately I had enough chips to be able to do that; by now most of the stacks were pretty short compared to the blinds. The guy behind me goes all in for a decent amount. I chat him up a bit to find out how much he likes his hand and decide to call. AK>JJ when I spike a K on the turn. Now I'm in really good shape.
I don't recall any other hands until the final table.
I pick up AQd utg and raise 3x. This guy with 1 chip left chucks his chip in and I get two callers behind. The flop comes out and totally misses me but I fire a bet. One fold and the next guy goes into the tank. He looks and me, "I really want to see what she's got. Oh, wait, he's all in so she's got to show." He folded. I looked at him and said I wasn't worried about him (the all in guy), he's only got one chip in there. I wanted those chips (pointing at the side pot)." The all in guy had A5 and spiked a 5 on the river. Oh well, it was only one of my chips.
The SS with now 4 chips sticks them all in from UTG and I'm in the BB with 88 and told him I was calling regardless (the BB was more than 4 chips) but now I was really glad to have to call. My 88 > his two random over cards.
I lose another smallish pot when I put a short stack all in with AT and his KJ spikes a J on the river. I'm still in good shape though.
I've been pretty active when I pick up TT utg. The table is still relatively full and I decide that I'm better off folding here than pushing my luck. Short stack on my left goes all in and is called by a woman with a lot of chips. AK v AT and a T hits the flop. Boy was I sick that I folded that hand.
First through third get $ while fourth gets a free buyin into the next event. We're down to the bubble and the top 3 are pretty even. I think I took the bubble boy out but I don't recall how. At this point I had figured out that I was pretty much screwed. Unless I won it I was at best going to break even and maybe end up down the addon.
Now this is where things got really fugly.
I guess the TD figured if they had to buy all these chips they were going to use them by gawd. He took the blinds from 600/1200 to 1500/3000 because he thought he should color up at the break and that was the only level that made sense to him. I just don't get it. Why on earth would anybody in their right mind think A) you have to color up at every break or B) going from 600/1200 to 1500/3000 would make sense in any scenario? This had degenerated into a crap shoot.
We were about even or close enough to even in chips and the blinds had become enormous that I was shoving any decent hand. I finally shoved A4h into AT. IGHN. I got 3rd.
I stuck around to watch it play out. The swings from one hand to the next were ridiculous. At one point you though Player A was bound to win as Player B and next to no chips left but Player B would suck out two hands in a row and was now the overwhelming chip leader. It was almost all in every hand until the other woman at the final table finally took it down.
To summarize: these players were horrible. Truly horrible. They would limp into just about every pot. The would min raise and min bet ALL THE TIME. The would call your flop bet with bottom pair and hit their kicker on the turn. I was truly shocked at how loose and passive the game was.
I limped into a pot with 55 UTG+1 and a couple more limped behind. The flop come out Q85. Yes, I was delighted. It was checked around and another Q hit on the turn. Now I was really happy but worried that anybody with a Q could have boated or might boat the river. I ended up called a smallish river bet only to lose to Q8. I'm so glad I didn't play that hand aggressively because I could have easily gone broke there had I shoved the flop. I'm happy to have lost the minimum on that hand.
At one point this one guy, Mr. Q8 from the previous hand, said to a friend of his, "Why do I even bother to play a pot with her?" referring to me when I shoved the J high flop with KK. I have to admit I probably played more aggressively than I normally do giving up on the concept of value betting in favor of value shoving when I had a hand because I sure as heck didn't want these people drawing out on me with their crap hands when the blinds were so high.
All in all, I was happy with the way I played. I probably could have been a little more patient and moved up a spot, maybe even taken it down but I'm still pleased with my play and finish. I doubt I will play another one of these. If only they would quit promising such a big first place prize forcing themselves to give out next to nothing for 2nd and 3rd places.
It turns out that a neighbor of mine - that I hadn't previously met - was the bubble boy. He and I discussed this event, the structure, etc., while we watched the final hands play out. He agreed that they needed to change the structure and prize payouts or they were going to lose customers. I'm not sure if the law mandates how much of the prize pool they keep for the charity but it seems to me that it is definitely not in the players' interest to play this event as it is currently structured.
I'm not sure that the TD would be interested in my input. Several times one of the helpers would say to him, "You don't need to explain anything. That's the way it is." and comments to that effect even when I was only asking what was going to happen next. I was told that she may have been his wife, but in any case they were rather defensive and I doubt they would be very receptive to suggestions for improving the tournament. Given the low turnout this time I think that they could easily make a few simple changes that might encourage more people to play.