Review: Chicago Poker Classic
I just got home from playing in the final event of the Chicago Poker Classic
. Of course, it does seem a little bit funny that this series is actually taking place in Hammond, Indiana -- not even the same state! Hammond/Gary , however, does house two riverboats with poker rooms and is only a 20-minute trip from downtown Chicago.
The Classic was held at the Horseshoe Hammond
-- a Harrah's property. I had played in two WSOP circuit events at the Horseshoe, so I was familiar with the property. I played in Events 5 and 9.
Now that I have played four tournaments here, I can say that I have been truly pleased with the way the tournaments have been run. Registration at the WSOP events was nasty -- long lines that took forever -- but registration for the Chicago Poker Classic events was quick and easy.
The Event 5 (Tuesday, March 2) buy in was $240. $10,000 was added to the event entry money. Starting chips: 10,000. Structure: fantastic
! With 45-minute levels and slowly increasing blinds and antes, this was one heck of a bargain.
I got many big hands early but had trouble getting much action on them since my table was very nitty. I was, however, keeping above the chip average for many hours and felt okay about where I was. I made it to the dinner break (tournament started at noon) but knew that I was going to need to make some moves when we returned. After bleeding off chips on promising hands that missed flops, I made a grand suckout. I had A-K in the small blind and was faced with a hand in which everyone outside the blinds folded. I decided to limp. The big blind checked. The flop was Q-10-rag. I checked. The big blind checked. The turn was a King. I bet and the big blind raised. I decided to shove and was inst-called. Much to my surprise, the big blind turns over pocket Queens! I was ready to leave the table when -- you guessed it -- I spiked a Jack on the river and doubled up. Don't feel too sorry for the guy, though, because he was all in a few hands later. I had hit a straight, and he hit the straight on the river, chopping a big pot with me.
As the event went on, my table was collapsed several times. I was moved to a table with a woman I thought I recognized. I couldn't place her at the time, but later found out that I had probably seen her on television on the Heartland Poker Tour
-- a tour that runs through the midwest. Mary Jo Belcore-Zogman
won a Heartland event in 2008. She impressed me as being a very good poker player. I got into two big hands with her. In the first, she apparently chased down a hand and hit her card on the river, putting a dent in my chips. In the second, I hit a set on the flop, checked (I knew she would bet big), then check-raised her all in on a draw heavy board. She went in the tank and decided to fold. Nice decision -- for her at least.
At my final table, I saw my stack dwindling as the blinds increased. I had been card dead for over an hour and needed to make a move. I pushed with Q-9 sooted (best hand I'd seen and before another orbit would make me an easy target for the big stacks) and was called by another shorty with A-K. Neither hand improved and I was out -- 117/444 after 9+ hours of play.
I decided to make the trip back up to Hammond for the Event #9 since I had such a good time earlier in the week. Since this was the final event, though, it was only scheduled for one day and had a different structure -- $10,000 added, 10,000 starting chips, but only 30-minute levels and more accellerated blinds and antes.
Unfortunately,this was one of those tournaments when nothing much went right. The best hands I got prior to my last hand were 10-10 and A-10 sooted. I did get lucky by hitting a gutshot on a multi-limped hand when I was in the small blind, but that was about it. Nothing but garbage hands -- fold, fold, fold. I never got much above my starting stack of 10,000, then saw my stack dwindle.
Final hand: I was on the button with K-K. Everyone folded except the big stack in late position, who raised. I pushed all in. Surprisingly, the big blind also pushed all in. The big stack went in the tank, saying he should fold -- but didn't. He called -- with Q-Q. The big blind had A-K. Unfortunately, the big stack binked a Queen on the flop and sent me and the big blind to the rail. There were 255 runners and I went out somewhere in the 100's.
So, although I didn't have much success in these tournamenst, they were fun and I played decent poker. A card or two here or there, especially in Event #5, would have sent me much deeper. Maybe next time.
All the reviews and discussion board threads I have read about the Chicago Poker Classic have been positive. The added money (and even a 2010 Porsche Cayman S in one event!) and the great structures made for excellent tournaments. Horseshoe Hammond does a great job running tournaments, from the great dealers to the complementary coffee and water table. If you ever contemplate entering a tournament there, know that it will be done the right way.