Haley's Poker Blog

No bad beats, but still a poker blog... hence the anguish.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part III

The cooler. Ever notice how when you run into the wrong cards at the wrong moments, it happens over and over and over again?

Call it what you will, but any time I've tried to play poker during my vacation, it's been a disaster. Total winnings: $0, including both online and live appearances.

Nothing hurt worse than Thursday's return venture to the $50+5 donkfest at the Lake of the Torches casino. I wish I could come up with a more polite term for the proceedings, but the blinds structure almost dictates that idiotic play must ensue. Here's how the tournament progresses, with each level 20 minutes long:

Level Blinds Antes

1 25/50 --
2 50/100 --
3 100/200 --
4 200/400 --
5 200/400 100
6 300/600 200
7 500/1,000 300
8 1,000/2,000 400
9 2,000/4,000 500
10 4,000/8,000 600
...

With only 4,000 in chips to start and only 40 players max, it seldom goes beyond Level 10 or 11. But have you ever seen a more donkified structure? Look at the relation between the blinds and antes in Levels 6 and 7. That's just sick. What I quickly realized was that there was so many chips in the pot before the flop relative to the size of the stacks, due to the excessive antes, that the push-steal was the most viable play past Level 6 or so. (Not that there was a lot of real poker play before that.)

Anyhow, I found aces on the very first hand, and made a jump from my 4,000 start up to about 5,200. From there, though, I won only one small pot the rest of the entire first hour, and was down to about 2,600 when I finally won a race to double through. We'd condensed down to three tables by then, and at the new table my cards went even more dead, and after being forced out of one hand when I missed a flop by a mile, I was soon back down to about 2,600 and on the ropes.

I've long since learned that stealing is about timing, position and table image, and with the blinds at 200/400 and it folded around to me in the cutoff, I tried... with 8-6 soooted. Unfortunately, the older guy to my left (a quiet, weak/tight player), found pocket tens, and was dismayed when I cracked them, flopping the OESD and completing it with a rivered nine.

That just kept me alive, though I won a race soon after to make it down to the final two tables. It was an interesting table --- besides the old weak/tight dude, it had two kids (best friends) so young, both seated to his left, that they needed to wear orange "UNDER" wrist bands to signify that they were old enough to gamble but not yet old enough to drink. Yes, they were aggressive, and yes, one of them admitted to playing a lot on UB. And they stole in position constantly, and both accumulated healthy stacks as we moved into two-table play.

To their left was a woman using a flashy gold-medallion, "WSOP" card protector, like the type you can buy in the souvenir shop at the Rio. She was quite happy to tell her friends and other people that she'd played in the WSOP women's event, and I quite politely didn't bother to point out that based on the play I've seen in that event --- up to and including the final table --- merely playing in it didn't mean a damn thing outside of the personal willingness to drop a thousand. And the table also had my favorite tool from the week prior, who this time I found out was named Chris and who had already been tossed out of the Watersmeet, MI casino for similar toolish behavior.

Chris was in fine form, too, wearing his sunglasses and assuming his Jesus pose, and absolutely insistent that he did not have to say "Raise" before tossing an oversized chip into the pot. (He also admitted that he didn't want to speak because he didn't want to give away anything in his voice. Good lord.) When he continued to harp on his imagined right to raise without saying so, despite the dealers' and floor's insistence that he do so, I couldn't help but goad him on, saying, "You're quite wrong, but I respect your right to not know the rules."

It actually shut him up for about ten minutes. But then an idiot in the seat next to him, too inexperienced to know that you don't commingle chips bet on previous rounds with chips you are planning to wager, caused Tool Chris to go on a verbal rampage, with both players almost tossed from the tourney. Then the tool went on an extended "woe is me" monologue to no one in particular about how the casino had it in for him.

An enjoyable chap. And it made the end of this day's run for me that much worse.

I doubled through at my table again, reaching some 15,000 in chips, then gave about 8,000 to the first of the two kids. Under the gun and having just been clipped for a chunk of his stack himself, he raised. A very short stack across the way pushed for just 600 more. I was in the small blind and found pocket tens, so I pushed, too. I figured that the kid had shown lots of aggression already, whereas I'd been sitting back, and maybe he'd go away and leave me heads-up.

No such luck. He called, with K-J suited. *sigh* The shorty had A-7, and I was way ahead on the all-small flop but couldn't dodge the jack on the turn. I managed to steal one pot moments later, but when we reached the final table I was still one of the shortest stacks, with about 10,000 in chips. By the way, only the top four spots paid, for $1,000, $500, $300 and $200. One of the last players to exit was the kid's young friend, and another was the woman from the WSOP Ladies Event.

With the 1,000/2,000 (500) blinds in place and me in the big blind for the first hand at the final table, I was in deep trouble. Weak-tight from Mosinee was still to my left and was a big stack, with another one a few seats to my right. A terrible calling station was also still in the running, the type of player who thought nothing about calling a player's all-in from the big blind with J-6, and who could absolutely not release a hand where he'd made a pair. How these players advance in tourneys is beyond me, but there he was.

Anyhow, I flopped a garbage top pair of sevens from the big blind and it held up, and I then got my money in with A-K against A-Q and it held up again, and before I knew it I was at 33,000 and narrowly in the lead. Given that about this time the blinds moved to 2,000/4,000 with 500 antes, and there were only 120,000 in chips in play, it tells you just how volatile each hand was. On the next lap, the calling station was on the button when I had the big blind, and he limped and the small blind completed. I peeked, saw 5-5, and pushed... and to my amazement, the calling station went away.

I got clipped by one of the short stacks who drew out on me to double through, and then I abused a couple of the players to build up again. The weak/tight guy wouldn't bet post-flop unless he had a made hand or a draw, and I swiped his big blind both times I had a chance, once before the flop and once after. Soon he wasn't one of the big stacks any longer. Meanwhile, the last of the two kids showed he knew a lot about aggression but not so much about pot odds. He was in the big blind and posted and anted his 4,000 plus 500, the tight-weak guy had the small blind plus ante for 2,500, and the rest of the eight of that were left anted 500 each. So, 10,000 in the pot to start with.

It is, amazingly, folded all the way around to me on the button. I find A-2, not even suited. "How much do you have," I ask the kid.

He counts. "3,700."

"Okay," I say, then add "Raise," to the dealer. I glance at the small blind, who has about 16,000 total. "Let's make it 10,000."

The small blind grimaces and mucks. The kid, though, looks pained, and he hems and haws and finally mucks as well, not willing to call his last 3,700 into a 13,700 pot. Thank you for not recognizing an 'any two' spot! And the kid goes out on the next hand anyhow.

But wouldn't you know it, the tool Chris is still in the running, having doubled through the calling station earlier. Problem was, he'd tried to steal from the calling station with 9-7 suited, for only about 6,000 more. The calling station had K-8 suited, well within his range. Fortunately for this Chris, a seven flopped and the pair held up. You'd think he'd be happy. No, instead he berated the player for making the call, as he berated two other players for bluffing at dry side pots in bustout situations. It shows again that there are two basic types of poker idiots: those that don't know how to play and those who are willing to tell those bad players how to improve in a hurry.

But as I had to get out of another pot, the tool Chris doubled through again to move into the chip lead, over 40,000. I'm still at around 29,000 at this point, and seven players remain.

When this happened. With 10,000 in the pot pre-flop, I'm dealt A-K on the cutoff. It's folded to me again. I could open for 10,000 or so or I could push what I have, and I decide to push to keep the short stacks from limping in to the proceedings with marginal cards. The weak/tight button dutifully goes away, as does the shortish small blind. And the tool? He calls, and turns over pocket aces. Nasty cooler. And sure enough, I am out in seventh, three spots from the money.

Why there? Why in that spot? In retrospect it doesn't matter whether I make a standard raise or push, since he would have re-raised there and I would have been obligated to make the call. He did admit that he didn't want to play for all his chips in that situation, but with aces, you don't have the choice. That pre-bubble reticence is what I had been counting on and taking advantage of to move up the board, but it all went to hell in one ugly spot. I'll take that pot pre-flop the vast majority of times in most instances.

It's just a case of horrendous timing, and it came at the hands of the one player I really didn't want to see win, because he was such an obnoxious dickhead.

But that's poker. When it runs bad, it runs real bad.

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