Up With People!
Things are continuing to look up on the poker front. Not UP UP UP, but certainly trending higher, if only one step at a time. I'm feeling solid in my game and it really boils down to one major thing: concentration. I'm focusing so much better in all aspects when I sit down now, a modicum of discipline I've lacked too often in the past. I've also slowed down. I have tended in the past to get caught up in the adrenaline, acting without running down all the potentialities of a hand. Lately, I'm taking much more time--not Tifffany Williamson time--but enough to grasp an individual situation better.
It has long been a trademark of my game that once in a hand, I'll play it pretty fast, especially online. And it gets me into trouble. Sure, we want to be tight-aggressive, but every situation may not call for that type of play. There are times you want to back off because you have a monster and want to milk every last chip you can. Times when you smell a trap and want to slow down, getting the sense you're second best. And even times when you have to forgo that continuation bet because of the texture of the whiffed flop. The result has been varied and better play, which also keeps you less readable (if in fact online players are paying attention and the jury's still out on that one).
Anyway, I've had a satisfying number of cashes the past week in MTTs. I'm still bombing out short of the big money, but it's certanly an improvement over coming up empty. Last night, I made my first cash (in the second attempt) in the 20-table tourneys on Stars. I finished just inside the money, in 17th, and very shortly went out when my AK got out-flopped by AQ. I had raised the blinds and one limper from the button and only the limper called. Qxx flop and he checked. This was, uh, one of those times I DID follow through with the continuation bet and was promptly raised. Worst part was, the continuation bet, while 3/4 the pot, was 70% of my stack. Hamstrung my own damn self. Dope.
But okay, my bad. Otherwise, I thought I'd played perfectly. I'm not gonna fire up an Adam Friedman-esque self-flaggelation (and seriously, I couldn't have possibly been more embarassed for the man). Chad was on hand for most of the second hour of the tourney which we spent laying in wait for the Extreme Donkey on my right. Oh man. Chad coined the term, "bi-polar chip stack," which was both funny and appropriate.
I had doubled up early--first level--with KK against JJ. Then I took out two approximately 1K stacks in a single hand at Level 3. It was raised 3x before it got to me and I called with JJ. A short-stack pushed over the top for 750 more and initial raiser pushed for an extra 300. I am faced with a tough decision here. I'm getting nearly 2-1 on my call, but JJ is so vulnerable here, especially with the potential that all the overcards will be in play. But I do think I have the best hand. There's a wider range these guys could be playing and perhaps partially counterfeiting each other. After a long wait, I call and see them flip TT and 88.
I get moved early in the second hour and the first hand there, I get a glimpse of what Satan hath wrought on my right. On a flop of AAx, he bets out (as he did EVERY TIME he was in a pot and first to act after the flop). He gets one caller and then pushes on the rag turn. Other guy folds and he SHOWS his 33. Oh, I know I'm gonna like this guy. That instinct is verified when he calls an all-in (for 2K!) with As2s. He's up against KK, but he spikes the ace on the river and begins to apologize profusely. KK can't help getting in some parting shots when Our Hero explains his play thusly (more or less),
"You have to give out some bad beats to win these tournaments. It's the nature of online poker. I knew I was taking a risk, but you have to play that way if you want to win."
A quick check of the pokerdb shows no MTT cashes for our sage and I can't imagine why.
Now he's got a nice stack about the same size as mine and he's raising pre-flop 3 of every 5 hands when he can get into the pot first. Once I get QQ and re-raise him, which he calls. My queens are an over-pair to the flop and he check-folds to my bet. I fleece him for another 800 chips in the same manner a while later with TT and he drops another 1500 to another player with QQ (which is what happens when you call pre-flop raises with T7o). So now he's down to 1500 chips (bipolar) and I'm sad. I perk up when he goes on a huge rush, lucking into a chop aganst AA when a straight hits the board, flopping a boat with 66 and busting someone and raising 4 of every 5 hands to get the escalating blinds and antes. He's up in the 10K range now as I, card-dead, fall to about half that. But I know, you know and the American people know that all I need is one. I get it at Level 7.
I get Rockets in the SB. It's wonderfully folded to our friend on the button who...get this...raises! I simply call and the BB drops. I'm not sure I need any help to get paid off here, but the point becomes totally moot when the flop comes AA7 with two hearts. I immediately begin touching myself inappropriately, pausing just long enough to check-call his 600 bet. A jack (not of hearts) hits the turn and I check again. He bets 2200. I love this guy. I'd like to keep him as a pet. Since I have but 3600 left, I go ahead and push there. Miraculously, he folds.
An orbit later, I have ATo in the BB and he open-raises, you know, just to change things up. Flop comes KQx, all diamonds. Min. bet and I call, my ten being of the diamond variety. Another diamond on the turn and he ups his bet. I call. Another diamond on the river and HE UPS HIS BET. I call. He shows...uh...32 of spades. And his once mighty stack is down to 1200. I darn near got it all (and, honestly, I probably coulda if I was a little less passive in that last hand or pulled a stop and go on the turn/river with AA).
So, to sum up, horrible player luckboxes into twice building a big stack, both times gives it to me.
We were down to 3 tables by the second break and I folded/stole into the money before AK boned me for the second night in a row. I deserve partial blame, coulda made a feeler bet and been able to fold with 6K or so remaining. Not healthy, but still breathing. Live and learn.
When you're in shuffle mode and the perfect song comes on at the perfect time, can we call that "serendiPody?"
Thank you. I'll be here all week. If Rich Hall were dead, he'd be turning in his grave.
Mr. Rini, in his continuing role as Kick-Ass provider of Vegas Fun and Frolic, has organized a trio of satellites on Full Tilt (fastest growing online poker room) for the equally kick-assed named, Six Gun Shootout in the Desert (how come we can't find a suitable nickname for the LA Home Game?) for WPBT attendees. Head over to his neck of the woods for all the details.
Despite roughly 5 hours of poker the last couple nights, I have managed to squeeze out better thatn 3,000 words in my NaNoWriMo quest, slightly below the pace I'll need to set. That's okay, beginning is always the hardest part for me and I'm trying to set up later conflicts without being too overt, which has caused me to pore over the words and phrases a little too closely. Hopefully, some flow is around a nearby corner.
I know Human Head, Bobby Bracelet and Otis are tilting at similar windmills. We might even be "writing buddies," which is just about the coolest thing one can be. Anyone else out there?