Friday, March 25, 2005

Rivers Run

I was not quite in the right frame of mind last night as I entered the $20/$2 MTT on Stars, along with 750 of my closest friends and one mortal enemy: The River. The previous evening's beats had me seeing monsters under the bed, suckouts in my dreams, my broke ass thumbing rides back to Loserville (though, Loserville is lovely this time of year). And it didn't take long for the trepidation to affect my play.

Second hand of the tourney, I get pocket Cowboys in the BB. Several points of limpage and I bump it up to a hundred. I get one caller. Good news: I flop a set (does anyone call this hand "The Klan?" Can I get a Van Patten ruling on this?). Bad news: Flop is all hearts. I chuck 200 into the pot and, after a time, villain calls. Okay, I'm ahead. I KNOW I'm ahead. Then again, I've been ahead several times recently, only to get waxed late. That is no excuse for what I do next.

Turn is a rag and I check. I CHECK? I have the best hand. My best read is that I'm up against the case king or he's holding a single high heart. And I check?!?!?!? Here. Take a free card. Draw out on me.

Except he's an idiot and bets. A fair amount. Well, that unclogged my retard artery and blood began flowing to my brain again. I raised all-in. He called and showed QJo, the queen being of the hearts variety.

Here we go. As is its wont, Stars likes to throw down a dramatic card on the river. Only this time, it wasn't detrimental to moi. It was...the case king.

Double up.

Better than that, the monkey left my back, the weight left my shoulders, the burden left my soul, the cliches ran out. And I stopped playing like a timid nincompoop.

I doubled up again in the first hour, raising with Presto! and getting two callers. The flop came AA5 with two diamonds. Oh, this is not going to end well for somebody. I bet half the pot, hoping to bring the flush draw along for a ride. One caller. Rag turn and I make the same sized bet, giving him ample pot odds to call. He does. The river brings what I'd hoped for. Diamonds are forever. They're also no good here. He's all-in and I get paid off.

Thus ends any semblance of excitement or interest for the next 90 minutes. I win a few small pots. Folks are still calling my pre-flop raises, but folding on my flop bets. I'm easing along with a big stack and waiting for another chance to show down a monster. Doesn't really happen.

Still, in the third hour, I'm looking solid. Top 30 in chips, above average stack and a good feel for the table. It's tough to steal mostly because it's tough to be first in the pot. I drop about 20% of my stack when Big Slick misses the flop. My attempt at taking it anyway is raised and I'm forced to fold.

And we're on the bubble. My stack has been eaten up a little, so I'm gonna hold out until assured of cashing, then switch back to aggressive mode.

Ah, the best laid plans...

We are down to 64 players, one from the money, and I get Cowboys in the BB. I push all-in against 3 limpers. I get a call from a guy I cover by T2000. That's the good news. The other good news is he has 66. Naturally, he makes his set on The River.

So rigged.

That's a joke, of course, but the number of two-outers I've seen in the last two days (not just in hands involving me) has been inordinately high. Just bleeping brutal.

I ease into the money, holding only pocket change. I can post one more round of blinds. Stars has the benevolence to give me a pocket pair when the BB comes along. Not so benevolent that it could be higher than 3s. It's not exactly payback when I spike a 3 on The River to triple up and stay alive, since my stack is still T20K below where it woulda been had I not got sucked out on 3 hands earlier, but I accept this small token of improbability.

I still have to push with any semblance of a hand and I do so an orbit later with Mr. October. My fours run into The Hiltons and the two-outer well is momentarily dry, putting me out in 52nd. A small profit and some tourney points. I'm gonna need a big finish in the next few days to close the gap to the top 100. I might have to play more than one tourney at a time. I'm also gonna take Wednesday off from work for a final push and to get good and drunk before the WPBT event.


An open letter to Landon Donovan.


Don't do it.

You are a world class talent. Perhaps the best this country has ever produced. But you will never be a world class player unless you consistently face a high level of competition. MLS is not that level. You have been too good for the league for three years.

You've only been back in Germany for three months. I know your previous tenure there was nightmarish. I know Leverkusen is a dreary industrial town with dreary unfriendly Germans (of course, you're from freakin' Redlands, which isn't exactly a mecca of California sun and surf). I know you're not yet getting the playing time you desire.

Nobody said it was gonna be easy. And giving up this early will lend credibility to the rap against you: that you lack the dedication to make yourself the best player possible. That you prefer comfort over sacrifice, even at the expense of your development.

I hope this story has no legs. I hope you re-consider. It's a joy to watch you play the game. But if you're just going to coast, if you're just going to stagnate, I'll get bored with your game soon enough. And everyone involved with US Soccer will be poorer. Including you.



Happy Easter, everybody. I may have some weekend content, particularly if my Blood Alcohol Level--like Our Lord and Savior--rises again.


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