The Curse Has Been Broken

Since Begs’ historic run to the final table of the WSOP in 2009, no member of the New Castle Poker Tour has cashed in a WSOP event. Without an exact count, there have been at least 25 of us who have attempted the tough mudder known as The Main Event. There have been campaigns that have gone as far as day 3 and day 4, but the brass ring of cashing has always been out of reach, and the Final Table, that might as well be on Mars.

So, when Dr. B suggested playing a couple of earlier events in the Series instead of The Main Event, wheels were set in motion. He declared the week beginning June 28th as Dr. B Week, with plans to play in tournaments on June 29th and July 1st. Upon reviewing my calendar, the July 1st date did not work for me, but the idea of playing two events resonated. Event #55, the DraftKings 50/50 No-Limit Hold’em seemed like the perfect vehicle for me.

Reviewing my own history at The Main Event, my first experience, or should I say, inexperience, was in 2010 when I free rolled my way in after winning my seat via the Fallen Heroes of the Intrepid event. I was having drinks with Begs before dinner after my post flop all in shove with pocket aces on a 3-6-9 board was called by the guy with the set of 3s.

I did not enter the tournament in 2011, but treated myself to a 50th birthday present in 2012. I made it to the final minutes of Day 2, when Jason Somerville, who had a wedding cake’s worth of chips, called my preflop small stack shove. I had AK, he had A2, and he of course caught the 2. He was sheepish about the result, but I was gone.

In 2013, I was chugging along on Day 2, when in the day’s final minutes looked down to find KK in my hand. That turned into a King high flush on the turn. I shoved, got called by Max The Italian Pirate Pescatori who had the A high flush from the flop. I still had a chance to catch the straight flush on the river, but the result was, Ciao David.

In 2014, I made it to Day 3, but with an impossibly short stack. Our own Mark Taylor was at the same table and was able to lend moral support as my self-immolation took place. I scratched and kicked and punched my way through a few levels, but in the end, did not have the stuffing.

With the exception of the 2010 outlier, I have made it into the top 25-33% range each of the other years. Thus, with the payout structure of the 50-50 event, it seemed inevitable that I would not walk away empty handed. 50% of the field gets paid: the top 25% to 50% gets $1000, and from 10% to 25% gets $1500. The top 10% receive their share per the usual payout structure.

I ended up finishing 255 in the field of 1123, handily breaking the 25% barrier. Small stack preflop shove with A3 suited when down to about 6 big blinds (200 ante, 400-800 blinds), called by a big stack with jacks, no A, only one more club. But the curse has been broken. Sure it’s not The Main Event, sure I only got my buy in back, but let me repeat, THE CURSE HAS BEEN BROKEN, THE CURSE HAS BEEN BROKEN, THE CURSE BEEN BROKEN. I have fifteen new friends, and they’re all named Benjamin. Come one, come all, NCPT is going to start crushing it.

Win or lose, there are always some great experiences that come out of participating in the WSOP. Primarily, it is getting to know the fellow NCPT members much better. Surviving a fraternity hazing is probably a better metaphor than any military combat, since life and limb are not at risk, just ritual humiliation and brain cells. Sometimes, you get memories that will last a lifetime. I’m talking about the Darvin Moon  autographing your packet of Jack Links Jerky kind of memories. I know there is a picture of that somewhere. If/when I find it, I’ll post it.

Yesterday’s tournament added another great memory. Some of you followed me yesterday on Twitter. Some of you railed me via text message. It was all very helpful. After I was moved to my second table, I tweeted that one guy looked like Larry Hagman at the end of the run of Dallas, and three guys looked like the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons. I don’t watch much poker on tv. I might know a handful of top pros without being prompted. Larry Hagman turned out to be Elliot “Comrade” Zaydman, with a little over $438k in career winnings. He kept tussling with Brian Brubaker, one of the non-Comic Book Guys at the table. Brian has about 650K in career winnings. This confrontation made it to the WSOP Newsfeed:

Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 12.55.01 PM

So, I’m sitting at this table. There’s minimal conversation at my end, and for me one of the pleasures of playing poker is meeting the people around the table. Dr. B and I have the following text interchange (B in gray, me in blue):


Obligingly, Dr. B sends the following picture:


In order to stimulate a little conversation, I read Dr. B’s text out loud to my adjoining table mates to see if any of them have noticed these players. The guys two and three seats to my right start cracking up. It turns out the guy two to my right, who had taken his place there about five minutes prior, is Jim McManus. The guy next to him is mock-irate  (I think mock, but maybe not) as to why he is not mentioned. This guy is the Ur-Comic-Book-Guy. I say, “Well, maybe it’s because you haven’t written a book.” This sends the duo into further paroxysms. Comic Book Guy says, “I’ve co-authored the two all time best selling poker books. I’m Todd Brunson.” At which point, I ask if I can take their picture for Dr. B. The result is priceless:


From that point on, there was a lot of great table talk. But, what goes on in Vegas stays in Vegas. You had to be there. I immensely enjoyed meeting Jim McManus, and hope to see him around the felt in the future. This world needs more staunch Democrat poker players.

After I got back to my hotel, I downloaded Positively Fifth Street. If you have not read it, here’s the link to order it: Positively Fifth Street: Murderers, Cheetahs and Binion’s World Series of Poker. Any book with the word totentanz in the first chapter is alright with me. I’m only a couple of chapters into it, and look forward to seeing the Christine Vachon produced, John Ridley scripted movie when it is made.

I’m looking forward to more memories being made over the next couple of days with the impending arrival of the Taylor brothers and Dr. B. Join us, sure it’s a 113 degrees, but it’s a dry heat.

PS: In looking over the results from yesterday, I noticed fellow Pingry alumni Mike Brody finished 11 spots ahead of me. I hope to catch up with him over the next few days.

First Game Invite and Term Sheet- September 18th.

First some membership news.  We lost my friend Jay as a member, not a shock as he only came 6 times.  Sadly,  Mr. Baines decided not to re-up as well.  In a nutshell, not a big fan of tournament formats and doesn’t want to travel far to be sent home early.  I am sure we will see both as a guest from time to time.

Replacing Jay and Steven, will be none other than regular guest Jay “Whoa or Wow” Wolin, and cash game guru Steven Silverman.  Welcome to the Jungle boys.

The temporary schedule is now sacrosanct and is the following:

First game will be 9/18 and it will be our standard multi-table sit and go.  Buy in will be $300, with one rebuy allowed over first two blind levels.  Members will need to bring at least $820 for this first game – $300 for buy in, and $520 for membership fees.  Shotgun start time 730 at Trump.  I will be responsible for first snack.

Rest of schedule will remain as follows:

10/16, 11/6, 12/4, 1/8, 1/29, 2/26, 3/19, 4/9, 4/30, 5/21, 6/11 with TPC on or about 6/25.  Snow day will be 5/14.

League Term Sheet below, please read and reply with your acceptance of terms and whether you will not be attending first game.   The Term Sheet spells a lot out, but also leaves a few things still under my control to be determined as I am still working on some details.  You will need to trust me.

Here are the important new issues:

Membership Fees – $200 membership, plus $40 additional per game charge.   Each member required to prepay first 8 games, or $320, for a total of $320.

League Game Structure:

Four Games of Multi-Table Sit and Go – $300 buy in, one rebuy allowed over first two blind levels.  Assuming 27 players, will pay out top 5, with top 10 receiving points.

Four Games of Single Table Sit and Go – $300 buy in, one rebuy allowed over first three blind levels.  Top three at each table will receive prizes and points.

Four Games of Cash Tournament –  $300 buy, $1/2 blinds, $600 total add-ons/rebuys allowed.  Top 10 most profitable will receive points.

Points available are approximately the same for each format; only their distribution varies.  Top 10 point holders on the Year will play in TPC for Grand Prize, which will have terms of acceptance similar to past years.

New Castle Poker Tour 2015 Term Sheet

League Size:    Limited to 28 members.

Membership Privileges:  Only members can qualify for year-end TPC and can share in the winnings of the League Champs. In addition, all members have first right of refusal for monthly tournaments for a period of up to one week prior to a schedule game.

Membership Fee:  $200 membership fee plus $320 pre-pay of Contribution to year end pot to be applied to first eight tournaments.

League Structure:  Twelve games divided as follows:

Four Games of Multi-Table Sit and Go (“Multi-Table”)– $300 buy in, one rebuy allowed over first two blind levels.  Assuming 27 players, will pay out top 5, with top 10 receiving points.

Four Games of Single Table Sit and Go (“Single Table”)- $300 buy in, one rebuy allowed over first three blind levels.  Top three at each table will receive prizes and points.

Four Games of Cash Tournament (“Cash”) –  $300 buy, $1/2 blinds, $600 total add-ons/rebuys allowed.  Top 10 most profitable will receive points.

Points in each game will be awarded as follows:

Multi-Table Points – Members finishing in 1st-through 10th place will be receiving points in the following manner:  13 points to 1st place, then 10 to 2nd, followed by 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.  Each place point will be  multiplied by the square root of number of players at the tournament –so tournaments with more players have more points available.

Single Table Points: Top three will be receiving points as follows, 14th to 1st, followed by 11 to 2nd and 9 to third. Each place point will be multiplied by the square root of number of players at each table.

Cash Points: Members finishing in 1st-through 10th place will be receiving points in the following manner:  11 points to 1st place, then 10 to 2nd, followed by 9, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.  Each place point will be  multiplied by the square root of number of players at the tournament

Non-members finishing in a point slot will take the point slot away from a member.

Pace of Play Guidelines –Unless doing hosting responsibilities, if not in your seat at time of play, hand will be folded.   At all times, players should be cognizant of the pace of play, and to keep the game going.  Penalties can be imposed on any player for not abiding by Pace of Play Guidelines.

TPC Qualification:  Top 10 point holders from regular season will qualify for TPC.  If there is a two-way tie for 10th place, TPC will be expanded to 11.  More than a two place tie will be determined by a coin toss.  If a member cannot make TPC, next place finisher in league qualifies for TPC.

Tournament of Champions Format (TPC):  For those who qualify for TPC, their regular season point totals will be converted to chips and our TPC Champion will be that tournament winner.  Points will be converted into chip totals in a manner determined by Commissioner, and will reflect regular seat point total rankings. Chips may be added for Kills, Average Finish, and Profitability, but those will be determined by Commissioner over course of the year.

TPC Champ – Should receive ten thousand dollars, which they must use to buy into a tournament at casino of their choosing. Anything they win in that tournament will be shared with league membership as follows: 30% of the first $200 thousand dollars in prize money and 20% percent on incremental prize amounts above $200 thousand dollars will be shared with the League.  Any amounts received by League will be split equally among league members not inclusive of Champ.   This award should be used in approximately one year from receipt or will be returned to League at request of Commissioner.

Additional League Prizes- Any prize to be awarded other than to TPC champ will be determined over the course of the year by Commissioner.

Members can receive multiple awards and all terms of each award are additive; but no one member can receive more than the TPC Award.  If Awards are used towards higher buy-in tournaments (i.e. Member provides own money towards tournament), the league membership percentage cut will be adjusted appropriately.

Cancelled Games – games that are canceled due to weather or force majeure will be re-scheduled on a best efforts basis by league commissioners.  Re-schedule games require the presence of 14 members to qualify as a normal league game.

League Commissioner has the ability to change all terms and modify rules continued herein for the betterment of the League, and has the right of fining or dismissing members for behavior not favorable to promoting an enjoyable playing atmosphere.

By joining the league, you agree to all terms and conditions stated herewith, and you also agree that all League matters or conflicts to be adjudicated by league commissioner.

2014 WSOP

From: Michael Levine
Subject: RE: WSOP Day 2 Summary

Gregg and RFG took their turns yesterday. Unfortunately Gregg, started out ok, but was able to join the rest of us at Noodles in the Bellagio for dinner. RFG did a good job surviving the day, making new friends along the way and rattling the cages of the competition. Here is his color:

Made it out of day 1 with 53k after a fairly wild ride, as low as 20k couple of times and peak was 68k, good table but couldn’t complete some key hands, should have been more :). Dweight Pilgram made the mistake of saying to me, an hour into joining our table on my immediate left and jawing a lot back and forth a bunch, that he’s a "world class player" and was going to "break me down"…I said "Son, we’ll see who breaks who down", and he got sent home after I put the lad on serious tilt :). Doing the lord’s work here, right?? :))

Day 2 starts off with MT and Perlmutter at the same table, Ben sitting at a table with former fellow 2009 final table member Kevin Schafel (whom MT bought 4% of his action, long story) and Paul on his own somewhere. MT has over 60k in chips, Ben over 40k, with Paul and Dave floating around 20k and 10k respectively. Big day boys, hope you survive and thrive.

Paul noticed Begs and league got a shout out on ESPN blog. Check out below.

Michael Levine
Sent from Samsung tablet.

Gregg Hamerschlag and I Do Something Nice

For the last several years, Gregg Hamerschlag has donated a large tv as the grand prize for UJA’s Sports Talk Texas Hold Em after party. Each year the tv seems to get bigger.  This year it was a whopping 60″ Sharp.  In addition to being the long term co-chair of the event, I was this year’s winner.

Last year’s winner, Ben Blumberg, set a wonderful precedent of donating it to one of UJA’s donor agencies, a shelter in Brooklyn that had been wiped out by Superstorm Sandy.  Although we don’t have a tv quite as large as this one, we do have a couple of really nice flat screen tv’s in the house already, so there was no question in my mind that I would follow Ben’s lead. I suggested the Pleasantville Cottage School to UJA’s Nora Shapiro, and she was able to arrange it. It took a while for all of our schedules to synch, but we finally were able to bring it last week. It is going in their rec room, which really needed a big tv. Someone issued a press release and the Chappaqua Daily Voice picked it up.  Click here to see the article.

Originally founded as an orphanage for Jewish children, Pleasantville Cottage School has evolved into a residential treatment program for mostly inner city kids coping with a range of issues from emotional and physical abuse to drugs.  It’s hard to argue with their motto: Every Child Deserves to Grow Up Hopeful.


NCPT14 – Ode to Karaoke Master Perlmutter – April 10th Update and “Mona Jeff”

From: Michael Levine <mlevine92>
Subject: RE: NCPT14 – Ode to Karaoke Master Perlmutter – April 10th Update and “Mona Jeff”

Date: April 2, 2014 at 1:01:37 PM EDT

Neither the Taylors nor Mr. Baines will be joining us next week. Anyone else can’t make it, please let me know. Filling our ranks will Mr. Dave Sapery for the first time this season and JasonWolin again. Could use a couple of more players, so if you want to invite someone not on my normal guest list, give me a heads up.

Next game will be our 10th game of the season, so all of you members who have come at least 8 times, will need to add another $60 to year end pot. Once again, this is the last game to use the rebuy mulligan, and the following players have not used theirs as of yet– JBen, MBen, Kobi, Jay, KidCatcher, Begs, Plank, William, Zahler and Medway. I wonder what songs Mr. Perlmutter has in store for you.

Not to be outshone by Mr. Perlmutter website, JZ posted the picture below to Facebook over the weekend under the header “Mona Jeff”. Many of us saw it and found quite amusing, so I thought I share with group. One of Jeff’s friends described it perfectly – “It’s like Dr. Evil and Mona Lisa had a baby.”

Michael Levine

NCPT14 – Ode to Karaoke Master Perlmutter – April 10th Invite

From: Michael Levine [mailto:mlevine92]
Sent: Thursday, March 27, 2014 05:13 PM
Subject: NCPT14 – Ode to Karaoke Master Perlmutter – April 10th Invite

One of the best things about setting up this league has been getting to know and become friends with people I might not have otherwise. One such person for me is our fan favorite and Karaoke Master David Perlmutter. Dave’s sense of humor is advanced and contagious, and he one of the nicest and most charitable guys I have had the pleasure to meet (which maybe doesn’t say a lot of about the people I know). So I figured, since this is the last game to use your karaoke mulligan, why not name this game in Dave’s honor. Another reason to do this, as evidenced by his one-a-day selfie website (, Dave might be insane and I think it is best we all try to keep on his good side.

Next game is April 10th 7:30pm start time with Mr. Goldbaum on snack duty. Please let me know if you cannot make it. Also think, Trump will be back to normal dress code rules, so watch the jeans.

The following players have not used their rebuy mulligan – JBen, MBen, Kobi, Jay, KidCatcher, Begs, Plank, William, Zahler and Medway. Last game to use so guessing this game could be a wild one with a record amount of entrants.

Though I thoroughly enjoyed Dave’s selection of music, can’t say he did the greatest job enforcing the Karaoke rules. But I think that is more a flaw in the rebuy rules. Speaking from experience, the last thing one wants to do, after being beat and shelling out more dough, is to serenade a bunch of assholes in song. So for next year, I think we switch it around. If a person gets knocked out and wants to rebuy, the player who just took their chips will be the one to serenade the group. I think John Rawls would like that approach better (sorry for the Rawls reference, but I have to use my liberal arts education somehow).

Michael Levine

NCPT14 – March 20th Game – Results

From: Michael Levine <mlevine92>
Subject: RE: NCPT14 – March 20th Game – Results

Date: March 21, 2014 at 10:19:11 AM EDT

Could be a new sheriff in town. Jeff Another-berg took first place and after I update website, guessing he just catapulted to the top of the league standings. William, who had planned to seranade us to rappers delight, actually avoided a rebuy and took second. Mr. Kadlec took third for the second time in a row, with RFG and guest Dan Schorr rounding out field.

Congratulations to top finishers and thanks to Rob Another-berg for snack. Below is some color on the night from Jeff and will update website as soon as I can.

Brief color – table was playing pretty tight. We went through almost 2 blind levels to get from 9 down to 8. After being at the table for a while, Jason (in short stacked 6th place) tried to propose a deal that 6th place would get their money back. That was shot down very quickly. RFG had a large stack that got whittled away after folding various weak aces to the persistent all in shoves around the table. When we were down to 4, blinds at 3k-6k, Kadlec was the big blind with only 8k total, RFG shoved with QJ, Kadlec actually folded (leaving himself with 2k), and I woke up with QQ. RFG was a bit disgusted that Kadlec wasn’t even in the pot and then saw that he was dominated. Kadlec busted out next hand and William and I were heads up. Not sure if William had played a hand since there were 2 tables. I had a bit of a chip lead but he took some from me. When he had the chip lead 100k to 80k, he pushed with 8-8 and I called with A-6. The flop came A-6-rag and that crippled William. The very next hand I get dealt QQ again and the chips are all in. William turns over A-8 or something close and and ace hits the flop and he chips up to 40k. I think it was over on the next hand as my K5 held up against his Jack or Queen high.