Sunday, October 28, 2007

Back-Alley Mugger or Garden-Variety Donkey? You Make the Call

While I'm pretty sure I'll get lots of "donkey" votes just on general principle, here's a tale from the occasional private Friday-night tourney that I've attended a few times recently.

There are five of us remaining from an initial field of 14, and we've been stuck at five for a while. There's 140,000 in chips in play, and at the moment I've narrowly snuck into the lead with perhaps 40,000.

The blinds are 1,000/2,000 with a 200 ante. I'm in the big blind. The UTG player to my left opens with a 4x raise, a little larger than the standards that have come to be accepted around the table. I also know that he's done a couple of similar opening raises from EP in the past hour with medium and small pairs, very accurately reflecting someone who doesn't want to see a flop; he's shown eights and fours on other occasions. So I figure he's on another medium pair off the get-go.

The cutoff and the big blind fold, but the small blind is the shortest stack, and he hems and haws and sighs and is genuinely displeased, but he goes ahead and shoves for an additional 7,100, for about 16,000 total. I put him on an okay ace, something like A-10 or A-J. He's an older guy who has shown a fondness for hands with aces, if a bit rockish overall. You all know the type.

I look down and find A-K. Soooted, even. So I think about, all but sure I've got the short stack dominated and pretty sure the UTG player to my left has a pair, and that guy's the one that can hurt me, since he's just behind me in chips. I know I'm going to play the hand, but how should I do it?

I've got 2,200 in the pot already. And after no more than 15 seconds to think it through, I push.

The UTG player goes into cardiac arrest as I push my chips forward. Well, not literally, but he's grimacing and groaning and gnashing his teeth and carrying on to no end. That end takes about two minutes to come, when he looks at me, gives one last sigh, and mucks his hand.

The short stack turns over A-9 suited. Way behind my A-K. And the UTG player explodes at me. Because he folded pocket nines. And he's upset with me for not just calling in and then checking it down.

What happens next? The unthinkable, of course: the short stack hits his one-out, case nine and nearly triples up, into the chip lead. Both the UTG player and the player to his left berate me for my play; the other guy, a more loose/aggro type, says that he'd never play an A-K that way.

But here's what they're missing, I believe: I cannot fold A-K suited when I'm sure it's good, but just making the call chews up almost half my stack anyway. Worse, since the short stack's push was almost as much as the original raise, the UTG player would still have the option to re-raise me, and I'd be pot-committed. Instead, I figured I'd give him that one last chance to fold and put a little dead money into the pot. Note that this is not a 'dry side pot' situation; both the UTG player and I
still had options in how we played the hand.

Anyhow, I thought I made a neat back-alley mugging play, but ended up just being called a donkey and watched the short stack hit his unlikely one-outer. So what do you think?

And for the curious, I'll finish out the rest of the tourney. Just a few minutes later, the second shortest stack hit his own one-outer to stay alive, and I followed that by doubling through against the A-9 guy who had taken my chips, my Q-Q holding up against his suited K-Q. The other guy who had hit a one-outer then knocked out the aggro player after making an unlikely re-raise push all-in against the aggro player's slighter shorter stack with K-Q, and the aggro guy (not really aggro in a manic sense, but a tough, aggressive opponent) did his own hemming and hawing despite being pot-committed to making the call, and was shocked to find himself ahead with A-7 when he did so. Of course the king flopped, and that set off an even greater tirade that got me off the hook.

Then I knocked out the guy who hit the one-outer against me after we'd taken turns stealing against him and blinding him down to almost nothing in chips. He was down to about 5,000 in chips, made a last push, and I was in the big blind and was obligated to call with any two. Since I held J-6 offsuit, that was about right. Odd departure, though. The flop came A-4-A, the turn was a six, and the river was another four, putting two pair on the board. At the sight of the second four, the guy flung his cards into the muck, grabbed the alternate deck he was shuffling, and sprayed those across the table and onto the floor as well. (We use the two-deck system to speed up play.) I think we can safely assume he had deuces or threes in the hole, though the six on the turn beat him anyway.

We played three-handed for another hour --- it was a protracted war, and we were in a virtual three-way tie throughout --- and finally the guy to my left got knocked out. Then the leader and I fought for almost another hour, with high blinds, no less, and though I sliced into his lead a bit we finally both surrendered to the fatigue and did a chop for the best of the money, him getting a little more than me. It was still a satisfying end, though.

But mugger or donkey? You tell me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Me and the BBs

I've spent a lot of time in chat sessions recently, and it got back to me that someone unknown was wondering if I post a lot on the main bulletin boards like PocketFives or 2+2. (Or NWP or FullContactPoker or others, I suppose.)

The answer is this: I think I've had two accounts on 2+2, one that I lost both the e-mail and password for at least two years ago, and another that I have right now. I think I've made a total of six posts out there in the last what... year? Year and a half?

Similarly, I have an account at PocketFives but I never post there either. I think I've made three brief posts since I've had my account there. I have made a few posts at places such as the PokerNews forums, over at KickAssPoker, maybe a couple at Wade Andrews' Hold'em Radio forum while listening to Lou and Amy's show. I may have registered for a few others just to get access to them, but can't remember posting to any.

The secret to why I post there so little? It's because I'm cheap. I'd rather try to sell my words first or post them here than give 'em away for free. I have few enough coherent thoughts at my advanced age, and I need to marshal them properly, thank you!

Love reading the forums. But posting... nah. Just too much clutter, for the most part.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Absolute-ly Exhausted

It's been a very, very long recent stretch of days. More to follow, I'm sure.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bloggery things...

I played the WCBLCOOPBLOOP or whatever. (Thanks as always to Stars for hosting.) Went out just before the second break after having it up to about 30,000 at one point. Played the Brit Bloggerment, too, and went out on a beat that kept me from a run at the money, with aces cracked on a river five-outer when the button tried to steal with 4-6, flopped a four, and fell in love with it.

Meh. Maybe next time. I hear the call of Guinness. Not Iggy, the beer.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

How Can Something Good Be So Bad?

I've been on a stretch where I keep fucking things up --- work, life, poker, everything. If there's an odd typo or some fact in a story that I can somehow forget to double-check, it's gonna be the one that gets through, or I'll check into multiple, conflicting sources and go with the one that's wrong, even though it looks right. Bah. Just bah.

Even in poker, I should be happy with taking down a third in a nice big tournament, for one of my best finishes ever. But the ending was painful. Sitting in a confortable second place with three remaining --- the chips for the three of us roughly in a 3:2:1 ratio, I get it all in against the leader with K-K vs. J-J, and watch as the board delivers runner-runner spades on the turn and river for a four-flush that knocks me out in third. Bad beats are a part of poker, but that was my most expensive bad beat ever, and therefore worth the mention just this once.

If I'm going to get crushered like that, I'd almost rather it be early on when it doesn't involve good possible winnings cruelly disappearing into the ether. So there's a poser, for you all to ponder: Given that beats are going to occur, would you rather suffer them early in a tourney, or late?

I'm reminded, after some pondering before posting this, of the passage in McManus's Positively Fifth Street where he describes the night after losing with A-Q vs. Hasan Habib's A-4 and getting knocked out of the 2006 WSOP Main Event in fifth, for a quarter million shekels or somesuch. Sleep for an hour, cry for an hour, and do it all night long, as McManus recounted. I remember, too, when I played so miserably on the PokerDome and went back to my room at Caesar's, with rather fewer tears, I guess, but I still had a restless, solitary night, thinking about things that might have been and were unlikely to ever be again. My complimentary bottle of bubbly went untasted as well, returning home with me many days later. (It tasted good later, though.)

And I'm a poker nobody. Think of how it feels for the big boys, or the ones that get eight- or nine-tenths of the way to pulling a Moneymaker and end up with nothing for their dreams. There's a thousand of those stories out there, and they never get heard. It hurts to get close, it really does. Just as it hurts to work hard and fuck things up, too. Karma's for dreamers, it seems.

And my Badgers and Packers sucked this weekend, too. Bah, humbug. Just bah. Just shoot me please, and let this miserable stretch of days be over. Right now, when the chips are down, I cannot do anything right. If I wasn't trying I wouldn't care, but when I am trying, it's just frustration after frustration.

I'll Try to Make It

Online Poker

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Ever Have One of Those Stretches Where Everything Breaks Down?

Poker content somewhere in here... promise!

Wheee, what a fun couple of months it's been... talk about in one pocket and out the other. The litany of repairs needed in the last two months or so includes:

Car (twice), including complete new brakes
Air conditioner

The television went a few days ago and was perhaps the most irritating, since it's less than a year old. Granted, it was a cheap junkbox from WalFart, but my last cheap junkbox from Best Buy --- paid for winnings from a small poker tourney, incidentally --- lasted nine years.

So, since I had a couple of off days, I used them to flee to northern Wisconsin to buy a nice, slightly-used TV from my sister and her husband. I stayed there a couple of days, sneaking in one round of beautiful fall-day golf (two birdies!) and a trip over to Lac du Flambeau for what was supposed to be their weekly $55 freezeout. On the way back from the golf at St. Germain (which is absolutely one of the most incredible, inexpensive, "municipal" golf courses one can play), I see a couple of wild turkeys on the side of the road. I am probably the only blogger who has ever hit a wild turkey while driving, as a few years ago one flew right out of the woods a hundred miles further south... and right into my windshield. Yes, dear readers, I have indeed biffed a wild turkey.

I've also hit three deer with cars, too; two were just little bumps but I once totaled a small Capri after hitting a six-point buck north of Stevens Point. I almost hit a deer up in Northern Wisconsin on this trip, as well. In October, the bucks are thinking about does and not much else, the does are thinking about the bucks, and between the two, the roads are hazardous.

But back to the casino and my hoped-for poker fun.

Bad beat #1: Unannounced, the casino decided to cancel the week's tourney to set up the room in advance for part of their festivities for some MMA fighter the casino is sponsoring and promoting. Meh. At least the prime beef at the buffet was good.

Bad beat #2: I get talked into dropping $100 at the $1/2 table, and the two obvious fish at my table go busto before I can access their funds, and they're replaced by a well-known semi-pro from the area and (immediately to my left), a maniac. The maniac goes busto but not before helping me go busto on my own short buy-in in the process. Just one of those nights, I guess.

On the evening I drive back down with the new TV, I arrive back in Illinois just in time to join a local private-game tourney. I hang around for a while but lose a race mid-tourney once the blinds force the action. Then I drop another $40 in the after-tourney cash game. Definitely not a good stretch for poker. The TV was so heavy, too, it actually cut into the leather of the back seats of my car. But it's a nice replacement TV, and the car is old and in the process of being driven into the ground anyway, so that's not an issue.

And I didn't hit that deer, after all. So the rest I can live with.