Monday, December 31, 2007

Delivering a New Year's Morning Headache

Wait, it's New Year's Eve here, and I'm writing a New Year's Day tale? Ahh, the joys of international online poker. It's the $900 Guaranteed ($10+1 w/ rebuy) donkfest on the Merge Network, said tourney which I took down the day previous. (And still finished loser on the day, after taking a couple of high-dollar shots.)

So I'm back in the thing on a whim, and the player to my left, a UK chap, is wishing everyone a Happy New Year as it just turned to 2008 in England. And in the first five minutes, he gets stacked by a bad player and makes his rebuy and tries again. Meanwhile I chip up a couple of hundred.

A few hands later, I find the marvelous 7-2 off in UTG +1. Blinds are 10-20. UTG limps. I say, "What the hell," and make it 90 to go. UK chap on my left smooth-calls, and we pick up two more callers on the way around.

Flop comes 2-2-7, with two spades. UTG checks, I check... it's checked around. Rats.

Turn comes the ace of spades, putting the possible flush on the board. UTG checks again so I make a post-oak bet of 20 to see who's interested. UK chap on my left makes it 100, and it's folded back around to me. Spade flush, I hope?

I min-reraise to 180, and sure enough, he pushes. He shows K-10 of spades, which is totally dead to my HammerBoat. A 'ffs' curse appears in the chat window and he is gone.

That poor guy's New Year just got off to one ugly start, poker-wise. I'm guessing his hangover's already started.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Poker Weekender

Excepting token appearances at Bodog and Stars the last week, the only hours I've spent pursuing the online game recently have been over at Merge, chasing points in their darned Santa's Sack promotion; I've already secured my $50 checkmark and am moving toward better prizes... an iPod is next in my sights. Here's weird: Buying an iPod would be way down on my list of things to do, but trying to win one has me entertained and incentivized. Darned competitive nature, anyway.

And of course, it means sneaking in a few tournaments and sit-'n'-goes late at night or as time allows. I had been worried I'd grind down my bankroll on the site by chasing points for the promotion, which would've been counterproductive to the whole process, but back-to-back good showings in MTTs on Friday and Saturday nights boosted me enough to where that's no longer likely to be an issue.

After grinding out a second place in the Friday night $32.50-entry, $2.5K tourney, I followed that up by taking a shot at the $10+1 rebuy donkament early Saturday eve. It was more on a whim, since I rarely play rebuys, but I was already in two SNGs and was killing some time before heading out to a live game.

I never made the game, and did one of those donkament sins that I've pulled my hair out when I've seen it pulled off by others. Yes --- this is a confession.

With the SNGs complete, I was still alive in the rebuy, but needed to get ready in the next few minutes if I was going to go play live. There was also a good snowstorm here so I was still a bit undecided that way, too; it was blowing and drifting quite a bit, with about five inches of fresh stuff on the ground.

I decided... to let the poker gods decide. Next time I found a halfway decent starting hand and caught a bit of a flop, I check-raised to get myself all in. I sucked out and won. Hrmmm. Then I doubled through again, playing A-J all in preflop absolutely for the hell of it and cracking the chip leader's pocket queens. (What he called me shall not be repeated here. I deserved it, too.) But all of a sudden, despite more or less trying trying to depart, I was the chip leader. I still wasn't totally sure I wanted to stay, and I then gave a chunk right back to the player I deposed, who then taunted me into saying he knew I'd do so.

Heck, it was miserable outside. "Game on," I chatted back, or something similar. Three hours later I took the thing down, and as I said, I rarely play rebuys. I'm not sure what kismet was working there, but I was certainly intended --- and yes, that's phrased correctly --- to play that online tourney and not play live instead.

* * * * * * * * * *

As for the Secret Santa SNGs on the site, which I've also been playing, those have been interesting as well. Merge (Carbon and ran a Turkey Day promotion last month which focused solely on SNGs, but this month the SNGs have been incorporated into the larger Santa promotion. In November, all SNG's featured half-priced juice, with players accumulating points toward leaderboard spots, but I did not have the time to chase the top 100 spots on the site and move on.

This month the twist is that, at random, a given SNG will open up with a special table design for the 'Secret Santa' promotion, and pay out double the listed prize money. Playing in one and winning one are both tasks in the Santa's Sack scavenger hunt as well, so it definitely draws the traffic. Problem is, they don't show up all that often. Had they been at the same ratio as what the site was offering, juice-wise, for the Turkey Day promotion, I'd have expected a Secret Santa table once every 20 or 30 tries. It seems like it's more like one in every 50 or 60, based on anecdotal evidence. I've found one, to date; I won it, though, which was cool. It was a $10+1 SNG, and when all of a sudden the players discovered they were playing for $20+2 money, it became the weaktightiest SNG you ever did see. Who knows... maybe three or four of the players rarely ventured into the land of $22 SNGs, and therefore squeezed it down here. In any event, no one wanted to do any more than limp in early or attack pots post-flop with anything less than a monster. Therefore, I volunteered to do just that, and swiped enough early pots to coast into the money and take down the eventual $100 win.

Then I had a solid run in the normal $22 SNGs. Good weekend. Along with the MTT fun, a real good weekend.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Sleighing Away at Merge

I noticed another half-correct story over at PokerListings recently, detailing how Carbon Poker has a nice 'scavanger hunt' holiday giveaway spanning the month of December. It's half correct because the (actually now) folks are doing one too, and for all I know PokerNordica is doing one as well. PokerNordica is another skin on the Merge network, run by the same folks... and no, I haven't checked if more than the two skins noted above are involved.

As I've mentioned before, I've always been fond of the network, for numerous reasons. They also seem to be running special promotions on a monthly basis, of late; these are participatory in nature, meaning that because I'm spending so much time working elsewhere I don't have a snowball's chance in hell of earning the higher prizes, though I can still have fun with it. At the outermost possible extreme, I might get to the iPod level, though a $50 cash reward is much more likely.

Still, I'd have to pick up the pace --- I'm barely a sixth of the way to the iPod and the month's a third over. Perhaps I'll have some time at the holidays to make a late run at it; perhaps not. Still, it's a unique promotion with a bit of seasonal fun attached, and there's little harm in trying.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Second Loser

If the actual bubble in the HPT sat I tried would be 'first loser,' then I finished a second loser. 80 runners, 16 $2,700 seats, and I went out in 18th. In other words... poop.

I was fortunate to stay in it earlier, and never could get to any point where I had an above-average chip stack. At the end it became a total crapshoot due to wild blinds and antes, and when we were at 20 players, I would have finally had enough chips to coast if only my A-J sooted held up against an even shorter player's 8-7, also sooted. My luck, good 'til then, ran out. Flop came 8-7-3. Mind that I had an M of about 3 before the hand, to give you an idea of the situation.

The last few chips went away soon after, when, all but blinded out, I had to play any two from the small blind and had 9-5, and the big blind turned over... 9-4. A four flopped, and bye-bye me. No chance for better odds in the few intervening hands, either, as people made pre-flop stabs and I caught rags.

As I promised, I gave it a hell of a fight. I played very tight for the most part, pushed the couple of big hands I found hard, and got myself into a position where I could have won a seat. Early on I had a few chances to put a hurt on people with a friendly flop and never connected. It just didn't happen. One hand shy, y'know?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

And... Off!

But not to the fun in Lost Wages, sadly. While I would love to be there, it just couldn't work right now. Falstaff's declaration that I'm wussing out aside (lol), it's just been a pretty rough, busy work stretch in recent weeks. It's been a dawn-to-dusk ride for quite a few days lately, not that those are exactly the hours I keep....

What I am going to do, in lieu of the long trip, is take a short one. I'm heading over to Majestic Star in Gary, IN tomorrow and will try to satellite in to this weekend's Heartland Poker Tour championship event. I'll know several players there and I also picked up a SooperSekrit backer for a chunk of my buy-in. (Many thanks, SS! I hope to your reward your faith in me!) 20% of tomorrow's entrants move on to the $2,700 ME, so it's a good combination of a buy-in I/we can still manage and a structure that may work okay for me. One thing's for sure: you never know unless you try, anyway.

I'll drop a note in when I return. If it's good news I'll move on to the main. If not, I'll have given it a damn good run and say I tried my best.