Monday, July 28, 2008

Off the Radar and Basement Silliness

I'll be off the radar here for a few days -- back later in the week. But a short tale of when donkeys -don't- suck out. And this one worked well for me.

In preparation for a stressful next week, I took a few hours early on Sunday to go to a small private tournament that I had learned about up in McHenry, a half hour north. All three private games I attend are up in the McHenry area, and they all generally draw from the same large group of players.

This one would turn out to be a smallish gathering, as the tourney was a $50 buy-in with re-buys and add-ons. 2,000 chips per, except the add-on after three levels was for 3,000.

I did a re-buy early, then won a nice pot to jump over 6,000, then hit one of those hellish stretches where nothing goes right. Had several pairs that never caught a set, got run down twice on the river, once after getting all in way ahead --- you know the drill. The most frustrating part was that we had 14 players, seven each at two tables, and at my table the three guys to my right had lots of chips and collectively weren't much for players. One guy was brand new and totally out of his league even at that level, and after six buy-ins he good-naturedly gave it up. The other two accumulated big stacks basically by getting run over by the deck early on. One of them was over 20,000 by our first break, and he'd be around at the end.

I was in for four re-buys and my add-on after the third level and had barely 7,000 in chips, so things weren't looking well. Still, I'm a halfway decent grinder and had hope.

After the break, my cards ran a little better, and I first doubled through one of the two loose cannons to my right, then picked off a short-stacked player who was probably the best player in the room. That's the way it goes some days. I held tough around 16,000 in chips as we consolidated to one table of ten, with three getting paid. I figured there was still a healthy grind to go, and as I was in fifth or sixth at the time I figured I'd need a break to make the money.

Darned if collisions didn't occur right and left. Soon enough there were four players left, me among them. I'd been between 12,000 and 18,000 the entire time, blinds had only just reached 400/800, and we managed to get rid of six players in less than two 25-minute levels.

With four left I'd have taken my chances against the other three any day, given equal stacks. The leader was the host, a nice middle-aged men who plays a steady but predictable game. He had about 60,000. In second place was the player who'd accumulated the early stack, an aggressive player who lived for the draw and tried continually to bet people out of pots. He was on my left by this point so that was a bit tough. He was all over the place in chips but generally had 45,000 or so.

I and the fourth player, a very nice older man who I've become friends with (but an incorrigible calling station and a cash-game ATM), each had about 15,000 in chips. I proposed a $150 save between the two of us, to which he readily agreed, since third was $500 and fourth was the same as 14th -- bumkus. I had also added in the proviso that if both of us should somehow survive into the money, the save was off.

Not long after we resumed play, he doubled up, so I figured I'd be the one getting the $150. Meanwhile, however, the two deep stacks kept pounding at each other. The host won most of the hands because he was getting hit by the deck, and there was a hand when both of them got it all in with K-10 on a K-Q-10 flop. Interesting stuff. The host had diamonds, a third was in the flop and the ace of diamonds came on the turn, but a baby club on the river mean no freeroll win for the host and no backdoor cash spot for me. I figured the wild player would recognize the risk he'd just taken and back it off, since I was whittled down to about 10,000 with no good hands in sight.

And then he blew up, and put me in the money. Well-covered by the host but still with about 35,000 in chips, he managed to get them all in just a few hands later, with nothing but a draw to the nut flush after the turn. One of his overs was live, so he was looking at about 11 outs (I'd tossed one of the suit), but with me on the ropes he had no business pushing a draw so hard against the host, who had re-raised himself and showed no signs of going away. The draw-pusher's three-bet put him all in, and the host quickly called and opened top pair and a K kicker. It was way good at the moment and when the river blanked I suddenly had third-place money with my meager remaining chips.

The aggro player looked at his busted flush draw, then at me, and said, "That was really terrible bankroll management, wasn't it?"

And I had to look at him and nod, and affirm it to him: "Yeah, I'm afraid it was."

He didn't hang around long, and I couldn't blame him for that. He'd run well all day but had been unable to take his foot off the gas when it most mattered. And for once, the profit in the mistake went to me.

I'd like to tell you I then went on a run to take the thing down, but that didn't happen. I made a stand with K-9 suited from the big blind after the small blind (calling station) limped in to me, as he was wont to do. This time he had slow-played pocket tens, and they held up; I was out in third. The last two chopped soon after, for like $1,180 and $900.

Odd, though. I had not much going on all day, but just found a way to hang around. The truth about poker is that one's profit in the game always comes from the mistakes of others. It's unusual, though, to see it demonstrated so clearly.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Poker Poker No Poker

The lack of posts by me during the latter part of my WSOP stay was probably expected. I was so saturated by working in the poker scene, I didn't play much of it, especially later in my stay. After bouncing out of the two WSOP events I tried, I couldn't justify doing any more lammer chases, since there wasn't much left on the schedule that I could reasonably expect to play.

The cash-game lineup in the Amazon Room started at $20/40 limit and went up from there, and the stuff up front in the Rio's poker room was basically shit poker. I couldn't find a game in my price range that seemed inviting.

I played only two live tournaments over my last three weeks on the scene, running fairly deep in each but failing to cash in both. One was when I went over to Caesars to grab a couple of photos of the WSOP Advanced Academy stuff, then went downstairs on a whim to the poker room and discovered I had three minuted left to enter that day's deep-stack series event. So I did and I played well for six hours, but took a double bad beat to depart. I also played one of the $340-buyin events at the Rio that kicked off at 7pm eah evening during the series, and I ran deep in that one as well, but ended up getting my chips in on a big draw that never got home. That was the extent of my live poker in the latter part of my WSOP stay. Burnout, no?

I did fire up the occasional turbo on Stars when I had an hour or two away from work and couldn't sleep. I ran well in those, at least, enough so that I can consider entering one or two of the WCOOP events or maybe a couple of Sunday Millions when those roll around. It's an option now.

I played the PokerNews freeroll but went out fairly fast in that. It was officially the off day at the WSOP, but just due to a lot of FUBAR-ish things happening, I ended up working a real long day. Work comes first. I wasn't in much of a mood to play poker that night, and as a result I wasn't there long.

It's only now, back in Illinois, that I'm even starting to have the itch to play again. I had toyed with the thought of stopping at Council Bluffs to play but events precluded that from happening, and by yesterday all I could do was focus on the road and finish the drive. More on that drive, by the way, next post. It was only about 53 hours overall but it played out as three full days of my life, and I'll be a day or two recovering and getting my body clock squared away. That would tend to explain the 3:30am posts, too....

The Long Road Home

Due to the vagaries of working the overnight shift at the WSOP, and a doctor's appointment on Friday I couldn't get out of, my stay at the WSOP ended a few hours earlier than many of my co-workers. It was just after noon on Monday, just as the field started being trimmed from 27 to nine, that I departed.

I was melancholy, a bit depressed, more because of the anticlimactic nature of the proceedings than anything else. I'd picked up on it about Day 4 or so, as the teardown process began and the poker trappings were stripped away, that we'd done all this work and wouldn't know who the winner was anyhow. By the end I'd reached the point of not caring much anyway; the last two players I gave a hoot about were Alex Outhred and Matt Lessinger, and they both went out during Day 6 play.

I don't see much of a need at present for me to return in November to help cover the final table, so this was it for me. I spent a lot of that morning packing at the Gold Coast. I can tolerate it, even if living in a casino hotel for seven weeks does get a bit trying. Sure, I was a whole lot lonely at the end, because working the overnights meant a lot less interaction with my co-workers. But griping about this as if it were the world's worst gig? Nah. No thanks to that. Things could be a lot worse, and I'll skip the ten-penny drama. Lots of people don't even the chance to dream about doing the things I've done, and it has nothing to with skill sets. It's more just about the hands that life deals you. I'm not an overly religious person in the strict sense, but I believe that God or whoever deals out life's challenges in accordance to what each person can handle. It's not that each person does handle those challenges, but that they can.

Life goes on, at that.

So I bailed out of Vegas, a bit past noon, for the surprisingly enjoyable desert drive that waited. It's a bit blah over to Mesquite, but from there the short bit of I-15 that's in Arizona is a truly beautiful drive up the Virgin River gorge. Southern Utah is nice, too, meaning the St. George and Cedar City areas. Wouldn't mind doing the tourist thing in this region some day. Odd thing: except for when I was in the gorge itself, the Vegas radio station my car was somehow tuned to when I started it up was doing live coverage of the WSOP from the Amazon Room, so I was still following it. I couldn't quite turn it off, and only when the signal went away did I spin the dial.

The drive turns desolate further north, especially where I-70 begins and turns east toward Colorado. It's an immediate climb up into the Fishkill National Forest, which is a bit of a misnomer in that there ain't no trees. Lots of hilly grades, nesas and steep curves, though, and then it's a drop back down into that isolated Utah valley where a Richfield and Salina and a dozen other hamlets sit, sheltered from the rest of the world. No stopping here for me this night, though.

Between Salina and the Colorado border is the truly desolate stretch of the drive, with the famed pioneer outpost of Green River the only real civilization for nigh on 200 miles. Most of the drive is just an up-and-down winding through badlands, interspersed with occasional scenic views -- Devil's Canyon, Ghost Rock, etc. --- and roads to other natural attractions. Badlands, all of it. I remembered to have a gallon jug of water in the back of the car and thought about how cushy I had it, zipping along, compared to how it was 150 years ago. Not much for radio stations out there in the wilderness, but hey, you can't have everything.

Civilization picks up not long after one crosses into Colorado, even if the scenery is much the same. I believe it's at Fruita, maybe 20 miles in, that I-70 meets the Colorado River, and the freeway follows it for much of the ensuing drive east. It's only another ten minutes or so from Fruita to Grand Junction, though, and it was late and I picked the first half-decent place that offered wireless internet. I'd been up most of the overnight and then done a nine-hour drive through the desert, and I was beat.

You know, it wasn't a bad day after all. The next one would be worse.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Long Night's Journey into Day

With the WSOP Main Event winding its way into the money earlier this evening, I've finally been able to breathe, following the last couple of weeks of very serious work. Most of said work was behind the scenes, where you won't see it, but that's fine -- things needed to be done to make other things run as smoothly as possible. At times the WSOP turns into a battle for survival, and when you begin to emerge from it all, it's a very sweet feeling indeed.

I'll be heading in for one more longish shift within the hour, then can look forward to a day or two of decreasing time constraints as I pick my moment to leave. I could stay to the bitter end -- to when the final table's lineup is determined -- but I probably won't. I don't enjoy the circus crush that takes place as the field narrows down to nothing, even if I am part of that circus itself.

The job demands of the last two weeks pretty much left no time for anything else, though I do have plenty of stories to tell. After an 0-6 start on prop bets I'm now up to 3-6, which is still cellar-dwelling but no longer shameful. There are poker stories, media stories, stories on the WSOP and the Rio and on life itself.

But it all has to wait, just a little bit longer.

In the meantime, root on the little dwarf -- errm, that be Iggy -- as he attempts to run deep into the money. I could not help but laugh as I saw the frequent visits from bloggers and media types throughout his three days to date. Other players at his table simply must have wondered who he was, to draw all the attention from folks with badges. Funny stuff. I've got at least three friends left in the field to root for, so we'll see how they do on Day 4.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Schwamped! But a Bit of Bodog Pimpage to Tide You Over

Yeah, yeah, best laid plans....

There are lots and lots of lots of stories, but my work comes first, and personal tales second. As I often joke with my co-workers, my official title at the WSOP is "Glue." Some stretches are busier than others, and the occasional few hours of downtime are, for me, oh so necessary and enjoyed, and I often go days at a stretch where the laptop is literally on at my bedside, waiting for me to wake up and go at it again.

That said, I truly enjoy the WSOP, too. Sure, it can be a bit of grind, and sure, nothing ever goes quite exactly perfect, but that's work, that's life. Two more weeks of fun 'n' franticness left to go, and with the winding down of the preliminary schedule, we've now entered silly season. That's when all kinds of crazy events and parties and the mainstream media circus all occurs, in the days immediately preceding and surrounding the Main Event.

Speaking of the Main Event, I was pleased to see that Bodog tried to help $Smokkee, aka Ray, get into the Main Event. (I'm also rooting for the l'il dwarf, of course, and he can't dodge me on Day 2, since I have the seat assignments before they even go public.) Looks like I'll be sitting this one out, thanks to my oh-for-two in smaller events, though playing in a WSOP event of any type was always one of my poker goals, and that at least I have now accomplished. I have others, but those will have to wait for the future.

Bodog has also introduced the beta software for its new resizeable tables, and I will be returning to the site with much greater frequency in about to and a half weeks. I have played very little online poker of late, due, of course, to the time demands of working the WSOP, and I'm frankly really looking forward to resizeable tables on the site. Laptop users should really enjoy the convenience of this. I'm also one of those goofballs who isn't just satisfied to play on one site at a time; I often have tw or three different sites (and games) running at once. This change should dramatically improve the positioning of all the games I might be playing at any given time upon my laptops' screens.

There's also a new Bodog blogger event/series coming up, but with temporary apologies to all, I haven't had a chance to explore it fully yet. I'm sure I'll be there as time allows; save me a seat, kids.

It's been a good busy series. July and August will mean a bit of downtime and recovery for me -- as for so many of those who have gathered here in Vegas. I will be online much more beginning July 18th, excepting the stretch from August 18-25, when I will disappear utterly for about eight days, heading on down to the Ozarks for a bit of R&R. And one rule for me for those eight days: NO COMPUTER! :-)