Signs and Portents

With all the "good" news this year - the mishandling of the economy, Iraq, the debates, etc. - and all the favorable superstitions (the breaking of the Sox curse, the Dow data, the incumbent rule, the Packers beating the Skins), things were really looking up for a while there. Except we forgot one thing: the Chinese Zodiac. Yes, it's the Year of the Monkey.


Up, up and away

So my bankroll keeps on climbing - the hideous beats continue, mostly from the flush fishers that haunt the online 7-card rooms, but I'm stealing a lot more from them than they are from me. Today was a pretty dandy day. I got off to a hideous start, dropping about $75, a big chunk of which went when my rolled-up kings made kings full by 5th street, only to lose to a twitchy betmonkey who caught the case ace on the river. So I took a break, went back to writing for a while, then jumped into a cheapo SNG and a stud table and proceeded to pound the crap out of both. Rolled-up trips on back-to-back hands made me a bundle. Emboldened by my wins I sat down at a $10 SNG (cheap, I know, but I'm moving up very, very slowly) and played what may have been the best poker of my life. I had good reads on everyone at the table and zigged every time zigging was appropriate. The pivotal point for me was this hand (history's broken so I'm estimating): 25-50 blinds, Hero is BB with QQ (T1510) UTG folds, UTG +1 (T1565) calls, everyone folds to the button who calls, SB folds, Hero raises to T150, UTG +1 calls, button folds. Pot: T375 Flop: Qc 7s 8s Hero checks, UTG +1 bets T100, Hero calls T100. Pot T575 Turn: 8c Hero checks, UTG +1 bets T200, Hero calls T200. Pot T975 River: Jh Hero bets T250, UTG +1 raises all-in (T1215), Hero calls (T1210) and is all-in. UTG +1 shows JJ for a full house, Jacks full of eights Hero shows QQ for a full house, Queens full of eights ...and the best part was that he had me covered by T5, leaving him with the literal chip and a chair for his turn in the upcoming blind. The fates dealt me AJ against his KT and I got to bust him out. Not necessarily incredible play on my part; it's easy when you flop top set and it turns into top full house on the turn. But from watching the guy's play, I'm convinced he would have come over the top at me on the river if he'd had A8 or AQ as well. (Or maybe even AK.) He was a maniac who'd bet at anything; he'd caught a couple of two-outers early on and had nearly a third of the chips on the table at one time. Previously he'd limped from early position, then made a huge postflop bet at an unraised pot of 872 rainbow. I was SB with K9; everyone folded to me and I said, "all you have is ace high, like A4o". Which of course I couldn't call, so I folded. He showed Ac4s. After that I was back in the game, in second place by a smidgen. I outplayed everyone just enough to stay at about par and didn't have to show down another hand until I was in the money. At that point the chipleader had us outchipped about 2.5-1 (having doubled up to knock out the bubble). I shifted into stick-and-move mode, folding the SB just enough to get the others to respect my raises. The guy in third was rapidly being blinded off and made the mistake of slowplaying his top pair long enough for my straight draw to hit. Then I was heads-up and about even with the former chipleader. We danced for quite a while; I pulled off one major steal with a checkraise on a board of A-A-rag, and he picked the wrong times to get aggressive, betting into me on flops I'd actually caught a piece of. By the time the blinds got up to T500-T1000 things were definitely trending my way. He finally moved in on me when I had A4 and the board was AK4; he turned over KT and I crossed my fingers. He didn't get a miracle and I was $40 to the good. So yay me, motherfuckers.


Beating the rake

So I obviously haven't been blogging much, not that I ever did. A combination of pre-election anxiety, work projects that are getting me down, and a newfound obsession (poker, which is fortunately both fun and profitable) have kept me from inflicting my mealy words upon my readership, which I estimate at one. Or perhaps one-half (hi Kev!) The good news is I'll probably be posting more often now. The bad news is that this may come perilously close to turning into a poker blog which will be of interest to 0% of my readership. It's a day for hideously bad beats at the tables. In a stud game, a guy with a split pair of nines against my open pair of queens (plus one down) caught runner-runner-runner spades for a backdoor flush. And I sat down at a hold-em table and got dealt pocket aces twice in a row right off the bat; got beaten both times, once by a guy who called three bets cold with QTo and hit the flop for two pair, another by a guy who called FOUR bets cold with 35o and hit trips on the flop. Other hideous beats abounded, mostly at the stud tables. Every time I had a decent hand it turned out to be second-best; flushes losing to well-concealed boats, trips falling to backdoor inside straights, aces up (with an open pair of aces) losing to a guy who called all the way to the river with nothing but a split pair of twos. Yeah, I made everybody pay through the nose for their draws, but that doesn't make losing to them any more exciting. I finally called it quits for the day when my jacks full (on 5th!) lost to a bet-capping maniac with nothing but concealed tens who caught runner-runner-runner aces to make aces full. (That last ace being the case ace, an ace (and a ten) having been folded back on third.) I don't believe in signs from above but sometimes things are just Not Going Your Way. Even with the horrendous day I'm still up over a grand since I started playing, which was a little over a month ago; trying to boost up my bankroll so I can start tackling bigger games without sweating the swings so much.