Grand Daddy Of Them All--5 million chip buy-in report

I have been playing on this site since September of 2018 and by escalating through tournaments had managed to accumulate just over 22 million chips, and was ranked somewhere in the low 1100s, so I decided it was time to up my game.

I played a couple of 1 million chip tournaments and failed to make the money, so I was falling in the rankings and decided to go for the big one, the 5 million chip buy-in Grand Daddy Of Them All tournament at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon.

I never really got going, having taken a beating when I raised with A T suited and was called in the SB by a player who had A6 and made 2 pairs on the flop. I ended up losing half my stack, and just managed to squeak onto the final table with a few thousand chips, where I shoved with KQo from early position and was promptly called by two hands with AQ and KQ, so my Q was useless and her consort could not pull it out either. So that was that. No prize money for me and now I am down to 15 million chips in my account and on a rapid slide down the rankings to something like 1400 or 1500.

I did not feel that I was out of my depth in this game, even though nearly all the players were in the top 500 or better, including several ranked less than 100, so that was encouraging.

I happened to notice that the same tournament was repeated at 9:30 pm, and thought, what the dickens, and decided to throw in another 5 million, as there is really no point in playing for play money and then deciding to hoard my chips for fear of losing them all. So now I was down to just 10 million in the kitty, and my RP ranking sliding even lower.

However, this time I got off to a good start. Another player in early position raised preflop from early position and I reraised from the blinds with AKo. The flop came A K 9 and the other player shoved. What could he have, and could I fold top two pairs? Well, I called and he turned over AQ, so that was OK.

That gave me the tournament lead until just one minute before the 1 hour break and I was playing very, very tight, determined not to fritter away chips chasing moonbeams. After the break I slid down to 4th or 5th, but held position fairly well and got back to second place by the time the final table came.

With 5 players left and only money for three, there was a grim, grim struggle in which no one could get the upper hand, and this seemed to go on for ever, which was very, very nerve wracking playing at high blinds where the slightest error could mean doom.

And then there were four. I was the chip leader and the second stack, who was ranked #50 shoved, as he had done a number of times early in the tournament, never being called. I suspected that he had A + crap, and I was looking down at KK. Could I fold that? I suppose I could have done, but I didn’t and he paired his ace and I was down to about 3000 chips. I shoved with Q8, got two callers, and made a full house. The next hand I shoved again with KQ and everyone folded and I was back in the game. My tormenter had a huge stack, but the other three stacks were roughly equal and it was time for the second hourly break.

One of the other stacks took a beating from the big stack and then limped to my BB where I had 99, so I shoved and he was forced to call or face being blinded out and I knocked him out. Unbelievable, I was in the money and had won back the lost chips. Long story short, I finished in second placed and took my chip hoard up to close to 36 million, and moved up to 729 in the rankings–the first time I had cracked the top 1000.

I think I shall have to retire now, as this is not good for my heart, and I am 98 years old, according to my profile.

Of course, I am forgetting that it is only play money.

If there is a moral, it is that the important thing is to learn the tactics to win tournaments at the lower levels, then hopefully when you step up to higher stakes, you will have eliminated some of the flaws from your game and be able to compete with the big boys–the play money pros.


Congratulations, both on your performance and your attitude.

I don’t care much about chips or rankings, but I must admit that it was satisfying to break into the top 1,000. If nothing else, it’s a sure sign that you’re doing something right.

Well played Mekon!


While I am down around 1700th on the site rankings right now, I’ve had a similar trajectory over a similar amount of time. I’ve been more cautious, playing with the lower stakes league games for longer. I’ve had my share of frustration, but I am slowly building a bankroll to rival yours.

I think my approach to bankroll management is the reason it’s grown steadily over time, and if I went to the level you’re exploring now, I’d be risking too much and probably set myself so far back that it’d be demoralizing to contemplate staging a comeback. I don’t think I could handle 1M buy-in until I get about 100M in the bank. I’m at 12.4M now, and playing at 100K stakes, and it feels about right for me.

As soon as I can beat my own tendency to go on tilt, I could have the chops to hang with you, but that’s still a work in progress. But I think I’m close. Every time I think I’ve figured this game out and can win reliably, though, I end up going through a slide.

Last night, I took 1st in the Badonk’s Foals Sunday night MTT, and my experience was very similar to what you described in your game. My first attempt at this level, I made final table, but was eliminated 5th, the bubble boy, and the next three games I busted early: 25th, 21st, and 14th due to good hands smashed by better.

But last night was different. My luck was with me at the critical juncture of the game when I was in the middle of the pack, and I picked a moment and went for it, shoving open due to the stack to blinds ratio putting me at that point, getting a call, and winning the hand. After that, I had a stack under me that I could play with, and for the most part I just held to a very tight strategy, holding my chips, folding more of the hands than are toward the bottom end of my range usually, and playing with the top end of my range from position, and the approach paid off. I made final table, but still needed 4 to leave before my exit if I could see chips. I was about in the middle and never really felt like a sure thing, and the blinds kept increasing to where every hand was critical. My luck held out, with the blinds winning for me more often than not, and I found that despite the sky high blinds I wasn’t really bleeding as time went by. But the small stacks were hanging on very stubbornly, and it took an age for them to finally bleed out. I managed to get heads up with the chip leader, and came from a 5-6:1 underdog stack disadvantage to win, thanks to incredibly hot cards late in the game, aggressive raising, lots of shoves, and an uncanny knack to avoid disaster, including a willingness to drop a hand when the board betrayed my high hole cards. The tables turned when I was dealt AA, limping in to hope my opponent would think I was weaker, and he raised me, I re-raised, I think we went back and forth 4-5 times until I was all in, and he flipped up AKs, and I took the hand, finally getting the big stack, just slightly, but won the next few as well, eventually winning on 66, getting my opponent all-in preflop, and then flopped a set to end all doubt. Duplicating a run like that every time doesn’t really feel feasible, but it is great to have finally earned chips and scored my first MTT win at this level.

My plan for this evening is to replay the entire tournament and analyze every hand. There were a few things I did differently that I want to understand more and learn from.

Congratulations on your win, Mekon!

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Yes, your win in the Foals reflects a very similar pattern to my second place in the Grand Daddy tournament. Congratulations on your victory.I liked your play of the AA on the final table, that is definitely a time to feign weakness preflop and let your opponent get a sniff of fear.

To be able to control your play you need to get a good start, or at least double up at some point, so that you have the luxury of not being forced to play, except when you pick your spot and state your terms for letting other players play the flop. If they are scared that you will eliminate them, they will be less profligate with calling with trash cards or trying on large bluffs.

On the other hand, in the early rounds with low blinds, it is hard to win large pots, so it is just a lot of jockeying for position and trying to at least maintain parity with the starting stack. In the lower range tournaments no one will ever fold any pocket pair, AK, AQ, AJ, and maybe AT preflop, but in the higher range tournaments no one wants to risk their whole tournament on a drawing hand or a pair that has a one in seven chance of improving at the flop.

If you are small stacked, you will not be able to play draws, so will have to depend on shoving. But shoving will mostly win you only small pots, because careful players will only call when you are (probably) beaten, so you need to bluff often enough to disguise your monsters.

You need to have a very tight range for calling other people’s raises. You do not want to be calling off 10% of your stack with something like QJ suited, only to have to fold when the flop comes low and opponent leads out of the blinds with a hand that may or may not be ahead of you.

The only hand that is always a call is AA. Even here I had second thoughts about calling, and as it happened I was almost knocked out on the bubble. I believe losing this pot cost me an additional 20 million chips, as I would most likely have won the tournament had it gone my way.

Even calling a shove by the second stack on the bubble with KK and the tournament lead may have been an error, given the relative stacks.

What would YOU do here? Answers on a postcard, please.

In another hand late in the tournament, I lost when playing TT from the BB against the small blind who had JJ. The margins of success and failure are that close.

You need to use the power of the shove. The player who won the Grand Daddy is ranked #50 on the site, and used frequent shoves and overbets on the flop to make it clear to opponents that they would have to put their whole tournament at risk if they called him. This tactic would not work for long in the lower buy-ins, as opponents would call with anything and sooner or later would take this whole stack. In fact he was never called as far as I know until I called him with my KK on the bubble.

So you need some luck, but you need to have the correct tournament strategy to take advantage of the luck, which means evaluating every single raise, limp, bet, or call. In the lower entry tournaments think how often you will see players with massive chip leads losing their stacks before the first hour break, when all they need to do is sit tight and let other players make the mistakes.

Actually, that is increasingly part of my tournament philosophy, to play as few hands as possible to reduce the likelihood of errors, and to allow opponents to have as many hands as possible to self destruct. Even the best looking hands can kill your tournament chances, especially if they are hands that can be dominated. For example you have K T and the flop comes T high. A nice result for your limp, yes, but not if the opponent has A T, and not if he has a draw. The turn gives you a K and you have two pairs. Nice hand, but your opponent who has QJ will and a flush draw will also be salivating at the chance to take all your chips and has 15 outs on the river.

With 12 million chips, I think you could play 8 tournaments with a 250,000 chip buy-in, and still have 10 million left if you never make the money. The standard of play is better than in the 100,000K tournaments, so favors skillful play more and you will see less bad beats, and will improve your play more by studying better opponents. Getting down to 10 million, I would then have a single shot at a 1 million chip buy-in to try to win it all back, and if that fails, then back to 100,000 and you still have enough to play 90 tournaments.

It was only a few months ago, possibly in March this year, that I was down to less than a million chips, but came back by winning a 250,000 tournament to hit 5 million, 10 million, 20 million, and now over 30 million on the rocky road to play money riches.

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Rankings don’t mean that much, but they mean something. The question is what.

Although there are nominally over a million players on the site, it is fair to assume that the vast majority, probably about a million players, are not currently active. To reach the top 1000, I would estimate that you need around 25 milliion chips, but as you ascend the table more and more chips are needed to improve on the placement, as the top players have massive amounts of chips running into the billions.

I saw a ring game heads-up pot played today on the Toplists page where the pot was over 1 billion chips, and AK hit two Aces on the flop to demolish QQ. Sounds like like 5K Sit’n’Go fisticuffs doesn’t it?

I doubt whether I will live long enough to ever win a billion chips playing tournaments.

Still, I got my 2500 bonus chips today, so that is a relief!

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