Poker regular season recap, mid-summer 2019 though mid-winter 2020

February 11, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 11, 2020

Another six months, another World Tavern Poker season in the books.

This stretch was gratifying for a few reasons. I collected 11 tournament victories, which made for my second-best season ever. (I managed to take down 16 wins between September 2016 and February 2017.)

Even better, I found myself competing for a pair of tavern season points championships, both at venues where I serve as tournament directors. My Wednesday night race ended in something of a rout was fairly secure — I led by 495 points in the final reckoning — but the Sunday night race was determined in the final two games.

Here’s how the tavern season points championship is determined. Every player who finishes in the top 20 of a tournament gets a certain number of points based on her or his place and the number of players in the event. Over the course of a season, a player’s best 15 scores from games at that venue are averaged.

(How are game scores assigned? Briefly: First place gets 10,000 points, second place gets 9,500, third 9,000 and so on through 20th place; this is what I think of as the “base score.” Then the number of players is multiplied by a certain number — 100 for the winner, 75 for those placing second through eighth and 50 for everyone else — and added to the base score.)

The final night of the regular season was Sunday, Jan. 26. (World Tavern Poker weeks run from Monday through Sunday.) Going into the last two games, I sat in first place with 9,483 points, while Tony was 246 points behind me in second place at 9,237.

In the early game that evening, my rival came in third, earning 10,275 points, far ahead of the 5,350 I got for my lousy 12th-place finish. When I put the results into the website, Tony passed me to take the top spot in the rankings by 12 points.

That meant the title probably would — and did! — come down to the last game. I was hugely relieved when Tony went out in seventh place, garnering (as it later emerged) 8,550 points. With a strong finish, I could clinch the title.

That wasn’t what happened. On the very next hand after Tony lost the last of his chips, I was dealt pocket queens. I went all in preflop and was called in two spots by players with aces — they may both have had ace-king off-suit. Of course, an ace hit the board, and I washed out in sixth place.

That was enough to get me 8,050 points, which knocked out a low score and bumped my average up to 9,603. Tony, meanwhile, finished just behind me with 9,598 points — a real squeaker.

That left me with a pair of tavern season points championships, which equaled my take in the previous seven years since I began playing in early 2013.

I hoped, going into the two-week run of tavern championship events that began in late January, that I’d be able to collect some additional hardware.

To be continued…

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