Peace Out

I got no cards. Finished 23rd. The last hand I played, one short-stack raised ahead of me, I saw 8c9c, figured my cards were live; there was another shortstack in the big blind who would obviously call all-in and with T3100 in dead money in the pot from blinds and antes, I was getting a chance to quadruple up. I'd do it again.

Big blind flopped a flush. I had T100 left but that went to the UTG raiser, who made a pair with AJo.

Congratulations to my backers, who have once again nearly broken even! Contact me and lemme know if you want small, unmarked bills or if you'd rather let it ride. Next event is Thursday.

Made It

T7600, 800/1600/200 and about to go up. Just got moved from the big blind, so that was nice.

Time to start gambling.

My Kingdom For A Hand

Short stack at the table seems to be content to fold his way to oblivion. Unfortunately everyone else is willing to play.

I have like T7600. No cards.

UTG First Hand

Which obviously isn't the best. But I will abide.

Could Be Worse

Table 25, seat 7.

Looking over the official chip counts gives me some hope. The chipleader has 79K, less than 10% of the chips in play, so clearly nobody's running away with it yet.

I drew a decent table - the biggest stack at the table is 44K, which I can at least hurt if not cripple. Most of the table stacks are close to par and the player to my left has only 23K, which is the perfect amount. Stack two to my left has about 37K which I'm less happy about but if he calls me and loses he's well under par.

There are five stacks left shorter than mine; only one is at my table, three seats to my right. We'll see if he's willing to gamble.

The good news about the table layout is that I can wait at least a little while for a hand - I won't have to instantly call all-in with a marginal hand, anyway. I'm still committed to pushing at the blinds with any reasonable hand if I'm first-in; if I go out 28th (or 29th, I guess), them's the breaks. Hopefully the others don't see it that way.

You May Already Be

Here we go again. Here's a quick snapshot comparison of where I was last time and where I am now:

Event #1 18 players remaining 48K in chips, 2.78% of chips in play, 50% of par 3000/6000/1000 blinds and antes, M of 2.667
That one worked out okay for me, but it obviously took a fantastic amount of luck. There's some relatively good news regarding my current situation:
Event #12 29 players remaining 13.4K in chips, 1.58% of chips in play, 46% of par 800/1600/200 blinds and antes, M of 3.94
So I'm very close to where I was positioned in Event #1 given the number of players remaining. Once again, a lot will depend on the luck of the draw - particularly seating draws and button assignments. Last time I hit the jackpot - two medium-sized stacks to my left and I got the ace of spades when high-carding for the button. If I draw the big blind and have two monster stacks to my left I'm probably toast unless I get a hand in the first two orbits. The nice thing about being perpetually shortstacked is that you tend to become fairly cavalier about shoving all your chips into the middle. And yet I know I have a tight image - the only hands I showed down yesterday were KK, QQ, ATo (well, and a naked ace here and there to let people know I wasn't stealing willy-nilly, and 88 once when the small blind completed and I shoved because I wasn't taking any unnecessary risks at that point), and KJ, which was a stone bluff on which my opponent was freerolling but fortunately missed. I think I only ran four postflop bluffs all day: two in the early going which didn't work out, one pure bluff into two callers on an ace-high flop that fortunately did work out, and one that I can't remember clearly but I think I may well have been bluffing with the best hand. Oh, and I did win a race at some point, but the details escape me now. I remember having to look at the board half-a-dozen times to be sure I was good, but that's it. I was all-in and going to a showdown five times; two of those I had by far the best hand, one by far the worst (and yet somehow miraculously not behind), one a preflop coinflip, one a postflop coinflip. So my odds of having made it even this far are once again astronomically low. There were a number of bad beats at my table (set-over-set, top two pair counterfeited) and I had much worse odds of survival than those guys. Then again, I made two "good" folds that cost me dearly in the runup to the bubble. So once again, I'm damned lucky to be here. Lucky, as always, to be alive. I'm not prepared at this point to call it anything but luck - but I do seem to be here rather often, don't I?

Tune In Tomorrow

29 remaining at the end of play tonight. 27 pay. Two people get to come back tomorrow and bubble.

I surely hope it is not me. 800/1600/200, 13.4K in chips for me. I may be driving out here to take a coinflip.

The Edge Of The Cusp Of The Bubble

29 left, 27 pay. Blinds and antes 800/1600/200, I have 13-14K. I'd make a move with any reasonable hand here looking to double, but the dealer is not cooperating. He's nice, though.

Sucked out a chop with A9o vs. AKo when two pair came out on the river. I guess today I'm more Irish than usual.


Doubled up twice, with KK vs. JJ and with QQ vs. JT on a ten-high flop. About 13K in chips, 400/800/100. 35 left, 27 pay.

So my backers know, folding into the money isn't my style. I mean, insofar as I have one. I may bubble or close to it. If so, so be it.


I lost 2k in chips just before the break trying to steal with QTo. Got popped by the player on my left. I said, "I'm not going to call off my stack with this," and showed him. He showed TT.

7k or so in chips, 400/800/100. I might play one card at this point. Wish me luck.

Dumb And Lucky Beats Smart And Unfortunate

I raise with KJs and get one flat caller. Flop comes 578 with two clubs. I need the fot and hope it missed him. I move all-in.

He instacalls. I am somewhat boggled to see him also turn over KJ until I realize that it's clubs.

Turn: no club. River: no club. Me: out of luck for the next five years.


I fold AJo to a raise and reraise ahead of me. It would have been good.

I fold AQo from UTG+1 because UTG massively overbets and I'm thinking AK, QQ or JJ are the likely candidates. My fold is confirmed right when a big stack moves all-in from the button. He has KK, UTG has QQ. Phew, good fold!

Two aces come out on the flop.


10-Minute Drill

T5000 going into 200/400 50 blinds and antes, so I will shortly be playing a pot for all my chips. 75% of the field is gone so I have about half par. Only three tables pay so it's a long way to the money.

Only still alive because I made a huge bluff on an ace-high flop. I'd raised in early position with - ahem - 79s. It was the prettiest thing I'd seen in a few orbits, honest. Two callers for my raise. Both folded on the flop. If you can't do something smart, do something big and stupid.

Donkeys Always Draw, Me Edition

I raise UTG with ATo. One caller. Flop 789, two diamonds. I check. He bets enough to put me all-in. I realize I am getting two to one and call. He has JJ. Neither the turn nor the river makes me a straight, but the river ace is good enough.

T4700, 100/200/25

BLT 2.0

Second BLT of the day even better than the first. Still T2700 at the break, 100/200 blinds. I don't know numbers but I'd estimate about half the field is gone.

Players at my table are quite good. We've had a couple maniac wannabe table captains who've eventually busted themselves. Player two to my right just loves to trap and has made a healthy chunk doing it.

We've had set-over-set twice, one that came in on the turn after the money went in on the flop.

I folded my first and only pocket pair (88) to a raise and reraise. Ended up as a race between JJ and AK (AK won). My useless-but-amusing card count (Hammer, Snowman-Taterleg, and 49o, which is definitely the mode of all hands so far today) is very, very high.

I refuse to say die. I've never hit a dinner break in great shape before, so I remain cautiously optimistic.

Hell And High Water

T2700, my high-water mark. Hey, above my starting stack!

The small victories are the best.

I keep moving in on the guy in the 4 seat. Next time I do it I better have a hand, I think.

The Envelope, Please

Just saw the biggest Hollywood ever. Guy in the 3 seat, who's new to the table, might as well have been wearing a sign that said I HAVE A PAIR OF ACES AS MY TWO HOLE CARDS. He "just called" a reraise before the flop, which then came ATT. He checked and slowly called a flop bet. He faked with his chips and then checked the turn. He checked his hole cards at least six times during the hand. I would have been willing to bet $100 that he had AA. If the other guy folded I was going to say "Would you please show us your aces so we can appreciate the nuances of your performance?"

He had AA and got a T2000 bet called on the river.

He also cost us about six minutes of the level. He's still playing painfully slow.

T2100, 100/200, in the big blind next hand.

T2000 (Almost)

Worked it up the hard way, getting action and not letting myself get trapped. A few decent hands - JJ, AQo, KQo.

Guy with a big stack and almost half a rack of T25 chips just sat down two to my left. Time to set some traps.


T1000 at the first break. Slightly on tilt for a while there, especially when I folded KJo with a frequent punisher yet to act. He didn't raise this time. Flop AQT. Fair amount of action. Tripling up would have been nice.

The last hand I played: QTs on the button. A22 flop and nobody bets. Turn Q and the small blind throws out a small bet. He likes orphan pots so I pop him. He calls me fast enough that I know he has the ace and because of the board pair I know he's not worried about kicker trouble. River T which is pretty but useless. I check behind, he shows his ace, I rap the table.

I have won one pot and chopped one pot, for a net profit of T250 on pots I've been involved in. No cards, no flops. No pocket pairs at all, one biggish ace (the ATo hand I mentioned earlier), KJo twice. No suited connectors.

Ah, well. I play better with a shortstack anyway, don't I?

One Hour, -T500

No flops. I blew off 225 by making a continuation bet on a J34 board, two hearts. He called, another J fell on the turn, I checked behind. White flag. River no help; not sure I was looking for it anyway.

Missed another flop with T8s. There went T200.

Good hand here: UTG raises, but it's a min-raise. I'm UTG+1 and call with ATo. So do five other players. Flop comes ATJ with two hearts. Mixed blessing. UTG bets T400 and I raise to T1200, hoping nobody has KQ. Not the best plan but it works. UTG goes into the tank. "Will you show me if I lay it down?" he asks. He goes into the tank for so long that someone calls a clock on him. The floor inadvertently gives him an extra minute. He finally calls. The turn is a blank that can't have helped him so I put the rest of my chips in. He agonizes again but the bet is prety small and he has to call.

He turns over AT. Dammit. The only flop I've hit so far and he hit it too. But I almost got him to lay it down, which is something. I guess. I'd rather have the chips.

T1900, 25-50 blinds. No danger yet but I'm not thrilled.

Table 2, Seat 8

Buying in early keeps giving me low-number table draws. This is less protection from table-breakage than you'd think; as the day progresses the TDs tend to consolidate the action more towards the center of the room because it makes it easier to build a buffer zone between the railbirds and players. But with the slower structure and bigger starting stacks there should be fewer early bustouts so I'm hoping for a long residence at Table 2.

Looking to try out some new tricks I've picked up by observation of the early stages regarding preflop aggression. Hopefully for once I'll have something resembling par by the dinner break.

Hold It Between Your Legs

So I want a BLT before the tourney. The sports bar here does not serve BLTs and I want to sit quietly somewhere and eat instead of parking outside the deli on the main floor.

No BLTs, but they do have a club sandwich. So I have just ordered a club sandwich, hold the mayo, hold the turkey.

Yes, I'm THAT GUY. I swore I would never be THAT GUY. THAT GUY annoys the crap out of me.

Then I decide, what the hell, so long as I'm being THAT GUY I'm getting the fruit cup instead of fries and I'm going to insist on my fruit cup containing no melon. If you're going to be THAT GUY you might as well commit.

Monday Mundane

Took the day off from Commerce to pick up the wife at the airport and spent the rest of the day crashed out on the couch, sharing stories from our time apart. Hers were funnier than mine, as usual. I suspect the cats of being happier to see her than you'd think appropriate, considering I'm the one that feeds them even when she is at home. But I'm inappropriately happy to see her myself so it's hard to hold a grudge. Saturday was good to me. I played three $120 one-table satellites, going out early in one and making a heads-up chop in two. The cash and lammers I walked with are getting me a substantial discount on today's $1K NLHE event, which is good as I think my money gets a little deader every time the buy-in goes up. There is more play in the more expensive tourneys, though - T2500 to start with the same blind structure and the levels are sixty minutes rather than forty. For anyone who wants a miniscule piece of my action in these larger events, I'm willing to sell 2.5% pieces rather than 5%; I realize it's a lot easier to take a flier for $50ish than a little over $100. Past performance is obviously not an indication of future results and so far I have failed my backers utterly (well, one event was a break-even proposition). The list of events I'm planning to play, etc. can be found here. I will probably skip the limit hold'em tourney as I'm not sure I could re-gear my head for it right now anyway and the way things are going the NL ones are looking better anyway; I'll probably play one more $1500 tourney and if I get very frisky one of the $2500 tourneys. Very, very frisky. Wish me luck; if I strike gold in even one of the tourneys I'm playing from now until the end of the LAPC, you'll have one more live-blogger reporting from the floor of the Main Event. Though I gotta be careful about that - a few days back I got an email out of the blue from a reader who'd been at the tables with me. I'm no longer incognito, and that is not so neat-o.


What I Didn't Say Was

"One of these times when you do that I'm going to have a hand." - what the guy in the small blind said the third consecutive time he completed and I moved in from the big blind
One of these times I'm going to have a hand, sir.


Commerce Enterprises

The JunkGrabber got her money in at 3:1 with one card to come and lost. If she wins there I fully expect to see her at the final table. As it is she went home, while I stuck around to play a satellite.

Buyins today are $120, players playing for a thousand in lammers and eighty bucks in cash. My stack dwindled to start, as I missed flops and folded.

There was an older, aggressive gentleman in the 10 seat who would almost always raise to punish limpers, which got me to make the mistake of limping in middle position with KK. He almost raised again but not this time. I swore a little inside.

Then the flop came KT8. He checked, I checked, the guy behind me bet 100, he checkraised to 300, I moved in for 300 more. Guy to my left folds, 10 seat calls. I flip my kings with a flourish and he groans, rolling over KT. No ten on the turn and he's drawing dead.

From there on I start stealing to stay even, chipping up a little in the process. With 100/200 blinds I button-raise with 55, expecting to take the blinds. But the BB flat calls.

Flop comes A24 rainbow. He checks. I decide to test my theories about the value of position, throwing out a half-pot bet. He folds QQ face up. Theory looking pretty okay now. I do not show my bluff.

I lose a quarter of my chips when I raise from the SB with A5o and get popped all-in by the big. I show him my ace as I fold it. He shows me AK. The next hand the blinds go to 200/400. I have 1400.

Shortstack time. I move in every time I can, keeping my stack between 1400 and 2000. I have a tough decision when I'm the BB with 77 and there's an all-in raise and call behind me. Both have me covered. I finally fold. Al-in raiser has AK, caller has QQ. Phew! I nearly fall out of my chair when the flop comes with a 7 until I realize there's also a queen out there.

Back down to 1400 and in shortstack mode still. Other players get Broomcornered into weighted coinflips and lose. By the time we're threehanded, I move all-in with abandon; nobody wants to take a $1000 coinflip with me. The SB gifts me some chips by constantly completing the blind and then folding to my all-ins.

Then I get Q7s in the small blind. Hey, a hand that actually matches remotely well with a random hand! I shove and get called. Big blind has Ac3c. I flop a queen, turn a queen, but he has four to the flush. No club on the river and suddenly I'm the chip leader, 4k/3k/3k. The next hand the guy to my left is out and I'm behind 4k/6k. I know I could ask for an even chop here since it's pretty close to a coinflip at this point but since the chip counts are so dead-on I agree to a 60/40, which at least gives me a discount on future events.

Back to play more.


Busting Draws

Apparently my mobile blogging apparatus has seized up once again. So some (very brief) action updates will appear out of the ether some time in the next 24 hours, probably. I'll save you the time: I busted. No exact player count but by eyeballing the room I estimate I went out in 115th place (669 players). Not a terrible showing considering how short I got. I blow off chips in the early going by raising to protect pocket pairs - JJ once and QQ once. Two callers each time. AKx flop each time. Once I fold to a bet, the other I'm in the blind and nearly make a continuation bet but I catch something from the button. I fold. He value-bets his bigger ace to the river and gets paid off by the caller in middle position. I make most of the chips back back flopping a set on a bee-yootiful T72 rainbow board (I'd called a preflop raise from the big blind with 77, as had 3 other people). I checked the flop looking for action but nobody bet. Shit. The turn put an ace out there and I know it hit somebody. But I think the preflop raiser is playing cautiously enough to smell a rat, and I've already stupidly given one free card. So I bet about 2/3 of the pot. Preflop raiser calls me. River is another ten and I know I'm good. How much to value bet with a lock hand against a player that probably has to pay me off is one of my weaknesses. I ran through my options (overbet, suspiciously small steal bet, plain ol' value bet) and decided not to get too fancy. I put 400 in chips into the 700 chip pot and get a crying call. Sweet. I lose more chips as the levels go up. Some by callling when position and odds dictate, some by laying down reasonable opening hands like ATo when a tight player moves all-in. I flop a pair and a couple of backdoor draws when I call an EP raiser's bet on the button with 56s, and both backdoor draws turn into real draws on the turn, giving me close to twenty outs against the preflop raiser's top pair or overpair (which I absolutely know is what he's got) - but I know he's not laying it down whatever I do so I call and hope. Never a good plan, I know, but I think the value of the runner-runner draws is substantial with position there. Except when they don't come in. Which they don't. By the first break I'm running low. When I get back I start opening any pot I can; nobody wants to play with me, which is just fine. Unfortunately that's the time the table breaks. I play my cards for a few hands while I evaluate the table, then steal a few blinds. I get my M up to 7 (T2200, 100-200 blinds), get 66 on the button and raise to T600, shortstack in the small blind moves in for 400 more. For T400 to win a T1800 pot I have odds to call even an overpair. I'm up against ATo. I lose. I sigh and resolve to begin rebuilding my stack. Somehow I do it. By the dinner break I chip up to T5200 (200/400/50). A9o takes down KJo on an all-blank board and doubles me up; AQo in the small blind against a limper and a raiser lets me push and get some fold equity. ("I didn't want to see a flop," I tell the table. "Jacks?" someone asks. I nod, stacking the chips. Yes sir, the jack of aces and the jack of queens.) I steal-raise with Ad7d from middle position and get a flat caller in the big blind. Flop comes queen high with two diamonds. He checks. I interpret it as weakness. Also, I don't care - I need the chips in the pot and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to get them. I've come to realize that my real choice at this point in the tourney is whether or not I can afford to lose the pot, and if not, I'm moving in with anything approaching a reasonable chance to win. At dinner I have a BLT at the deli. It's surprisingly good. The tomatoes don't suck. The bacon is crispy. The lettuce is not limp and appears to have been washed at least once on its trip from the ground to my plastic plate. The toast is toasty. When I get back from the dinner break things start happening rather quickly. The blind hits me before I can catch a reasonable hand so I lose a few chips. Then with not much time left in the level I raise to T1500 in relatively early position with AJo. The button moves all-in. Fuck. We are pretty much dead-even in chips. I ask for a count. I'll have almost nothing if I call and lose, a chip and a chair. Am I really about to call off my stack with AJo? I'm in the tank. I look at the pot. T1500 from me. T1100 in blinds and antes. T4500 from the raise. So it's T3000 for me to call to win T7100. I guess I am calling off my stack with AJo after all. If he has aces that's how it is. I'm a big dog to AK and AQ as well but those aren't the only hands he could have, and even if he showed KK, QQ or JJ by accident it'd still be a borderline call. And I need the pot. I silently push my chips in. "Good call," he says, flipping up A4o. It's early to celebrate but I pat myself on the back for making the right call. When the flop comes AJ9 I get pretty comfortable. Turn J makes me feel even better. Case ace doesn't come out on the river and suddenly I'm over 10K in chips. Then a very bad thing happens: I get dealt a slow-motion coinflip. It happens like this: Q7o in the big blind. One limper, small blind completes. I check. Flop comes Qd 4d Js. Small blind checks. With no raise preflop I'm pretty sure top pair is good here so I bet T1000. I'm doing my usual stonefaced routine and expect to see the pot shipped to me. I'm about a half-second away from mucking my cards and raking in the pot when I realize that while the limper has folded, the small blind has called me. Curious. Pot is now T3500. Small blind has about T5000 behind. I don't understand what's happening here; if I'm beat I expect him to be raising. With a decent draw I expect him to be raising. The flat call might make sense if he has a set but the board is just scary enough that if he's any good he could be trapping himself. I decide he's got either a jack or a draw. Turn comes 3c. Again with the check from the small blind. I look at the pot. I look what he's got. I start considering possibilities. I rule out Kd Td because with the open-ended straight flush draw even the tightest, weakest player left in the tourney jams the flop. I don't know the exact odds but I know I'm enough of a favorite over any draw that I can wreck the odds if I want to. If he has a jack and he thinks it's good I want a call. I don't think he's just calling me on that flop with top pair and if he has a set he's going to win some money. "All-in," I say. I don't even bother to push my chips in. Three seconds later I know he doesn't have a set because he hasn't called yet. He's got to call T5000 to win T8500. I've priced him out. I start sending telepathic messages: Your jack is good. Your draw is no good. I realize I don't care whether or not he calls because I know I have him beat. If he folds I get the pot; if he calls it's a bad call. He agonizes. I start daydreaming. Suddenly he says "I call." I'm a little surprised, but okay. I flip up my queen. He flips up Ad2d. I nod and shrug and steel myself for a flush card. River comes a red five... of hearts. I exhale in relief at having dodged the flush but then look at the board again and realize that A-2-3-4-5 is, in fact, a straight. I match his stacks, my face reddening. I know I'm heating up but I'm staying calm. I made the right play, he made a bad call (if only barely), I'm still in the tourney. Barely. While he was taking forever the blinds went up to 300/600/75; I have a little under T2000 after posting the small blind. I fold the rags I get in the small blind to a short-stack's all-in raise and start looking around the table. And then I do something I've never done before: For the next orbit I look at my cards only for show. Seriously. I didn't care what they were. Honestly. I eye all the stacks at the table and pick out the four that I could still cripple and decide to attack their blinds no matter what I'm holding. If the table folds to me I'm shoving at their stacks and that's it. If I actually pick up a decent hand I'm going after anyone's blind but those four, if I have a chance, I'm taking them. I get three of them, shoving with 96o, J3o, Ace-mystery card (I never looked at the second one). No callers. Suddenly I have T6200 and an M of 4 - still critical but a decent comeback. If I can double up once I'm back in this thing. A few hands later I'm no longer in this thing. A short stack pushes for what looks like only T1700; the small blind, who outdrew me to take most of my stack not so long before, reraises all-in. I look down and find AdQd. I ask what the shortstack has, drawing the ire of some of the other players since the small blind obviously has me covered. For some reason I felt compelled to know the numbers. The pot's laying me not quite two to one. I don't think much of the small blind's play. The isolation raise is weird to me since if he had a really big hand he could just call here. I start running through the hands he could have. A medium pair, maybe 88-JJ. A big ace. But there are two big aces smaller than mine and only one that's bigger. Even a chop has a lot of value for me if he happens to have AQ. I'm not afraid of aces or kings. If I call and win I have T15K or so, and that's what finally pushes me off the cliff. I'm still in shortstack mode if I fold and sooner rather than later someone's going to pick me off, possibly when I'm a huge dog. At 15K I can start stealing - I've seen enough of this table to know it's doable, since I did it with almost nothing. At 15K I have a shot. So that's how I called off all my chips with AQ vs. AK. Yeah. He didn't want to see a flop with AK, which makes sense. Preflop raiser had 22. Flop came ace high. I turned a flush draw and a gutshot but didn't get there (river queen would have made broadway for AK), rapped the table, got up and walked away. And that, my friends, is poker.

If It's Thursday It Must Be $540 NLHE

Read most of Phil Gordon's Little Green Book last night. He brings up a point I'd actually realized in the first tourney - when you're moved to a new table, one of the best ways to evaluate unknown players is not just by the size of their stack but the composition of it. Someone who's in possession of a large number of ante chips has at least been active and is probably aggressive; players with few ante chips are likely to be playing tighter. When facing a raise from someone who has a big stack and very few ante chips I am likely to tighten up my range considerably. Send mojo to me c/o JoeSpeaker, who's playing today's tourney as well. If we can get two bloggers to the final table, there will be fireworks aplenty. Hey, Speaker, there's a tag-team event on 2/14. Yeah, it's Valentine's Day. I say we partner up and take a crack at it.


A Tale Of Two Tourneys

Night and day. During the first tourney I was so nervous I couldn't sleep or eat much. I ate a substantial portion of a taco on the dinner break, a little bit of soup the next day, and that was it. Friday night, while the Murderer's Row crew was celebrating my win, gambooling it up until 5AM (and presumably hatching a plan to bilk me out of my winnings), I was hunched over the toilet throwing up the meager contents of my poor, abused stomach. Just ask me what I'd been drinking all day. Yeah. Blue Gatorade. If you gotta hurl it can at least be entertaining. It looked like I had such a powerful urge to clean the toilet that I was expectorating Ty-D-Bowl from the depths of my intestines. That was while my stored-up supply of Gatorade held up. Then it was just caustic gases that were suspiciously similar in composition to the atmosphere of Mercury. I had Olympic-caliber pain for a couple of hours before I finally dropped off to sleep. Victory isn't always pretty, folks. My wife? Laughing her ass off. And why not? She gets half of what I win and her stomach is just fine. Last night was a piece of cake by comparison. Not in terms of quality of play or the beats I took - it was a much tougher field and I took (and also gave) much worse beats. But I couldn't have been more relaxed. I didn't have to force myself to eat lunch before start time. When the dinner break came I had an appetite. By a little after midnight some (not enough, unfortunately) of the players at my table were grousing about the lateness of the hour. They wanted to go home. I'm sure I looked tired, but if the tourney directors had said we were playing until 6AM I wouldn't have got out of my chair until 5:59. If they're tired I have an edge. If I have an edge I want to play. I used to hate tournaments. Funny how one little win can change that. When I sat down yesterday I realized that I was far from seeing the tourney as a grim obligation, something I'd said I was going to try and couldn't back down from. Confidence. No fear of the inevitable suckouts. I was playing with five hundred random gamblers and sharks and I was looking forward to it. I'm learning a lot every hour I spend at the table. A little scary that I'm learning as much as I am, which suggests that I didn't really know much to begin with. The hours I spent at table one were a crash course in how to play (and how not to play) a big stack. I had one for a while but couldn't really deliver any knockouts. I won some decent pots and made some good reads, occasionally predicted the action in my head based solely on stack sizes and temperaments. But my big stack just wasn't growing. But Johannes, the player on my right who ran over the table, had some very interesting tendencies. He'd open-raise as much as any big stack could. But he was hyper-aggressive in position preflop as well. At all the tables I'd been at before, big-stack raises got a modicum of respect from the other big stacks. Not Johannes. His interest - and I think this is a key concept of big-stack play that I haven't seen discussed anywhere before - his interest in the pot is directly proportional to the number of chips in it. Instead of simply sitting back and waiting for opportunites to target the medium stacks and the proven weak-tight short stacks (one short stack at our table announced that he was folding aces under the gun when we were on the bubble), he went to war with the big stacks. If they raised ahead of him, he reraised. If anyone limped, he raised. He put them to the test at least three times out of every five that they entered the pot ahead of him. This made his big stack even bigger. Combine that with his good fortune - he showed down a good hand nearly every time he was called - and he crushed everyone at the table. True, it was a miracle that nobody ever had a hand when he popped the bet, but it takes luck to win as well as skill. Looking forward to tomorrow's $540 event, in which I'll be hoping to see JoeSpeaker at the final table. Preferably with a much smaller stack than mine.


Some hands from last night: Solid player in the six seat (I'm in the nine) raises from MP to about 4x the big blind. I have him covered. I look down and find AKo. Fold equity is my co-pilot. I raise huge, big enough to set him all-in, a little more than a pot-sized raise. He goes into the tank and talks himself out of calling, saying "you wouldn't set me all-in unless you could beat ace-king." I table my cards, figuring the tilt odds are worth showing my hand. Later I get him to lay down AQ when I'm holding AJ. With huge action in front of me I lay down 88, the best hand I've seen in a while. Two players are all-in against the monster stack on my right, a hyper-aggressive guy named Johannes who's also been a card rack. He takes long enough to make a decision that I think I have the best hand but I have to lay it down. Turns out he has 99; all-in players have 44 and AJ. River 8 would have quadrupled me up to about 160K, close to 10% of the chips in play with 35 players remaining. Good fold but it's hard not to be results-oriented. Later Johannes would again push me off 88 with a huge preflop reraise; that time I would have been good against his 44 and the first raiser's overcards. I think someone should write a book just on playing small pairs near the bubble. I get a free look with Q7o in the BB when Johannes, the tough player on my right, just completes the SB. (This is the only time he would limp from the SB the whole night - twice he gave me a walk, every other time he raised, doubling me up once when I found ATo and pushed it into his QJs and made broadway.) Flop came 972 with two hearts. He checked, I bet about 3/4 of the pot (about a sixth of my chips at the time), he reraised enough to commit me. I spent at least two minutes in the tank. Maybe more. There are a lot of hands I can beat that he'd tap me with here, I think. I finally give it up when I realize I have no idea what the limp from the SB means coming from him. He doesn't show his cards so I still don't know. Good bet. In addition to bludgeoning everybody with his stack, Johannes was a card rack - he picked up TT at least six (!) times and at least that many better pairs, plus some big aces, baby pairs he could afford to play, etc. He played the best power poker I've ever seen in person. Overall the field was much smaller and much tougher. The time I spent at table one was easily the most intense few hours of my limited tournament experience - lots of players who knew how to play a big stack well. The way the stacks were distributed I rarely had a chance to be first-in - usually it was only when another big stack was in the blinds. I had to lay down KTs to a huge reraise once; I'm trying very hard to remember the microdetails of that hand because I think I gave off a tell. It's not that hard to pick up a hand that can beat KTs, but something about the bet told me it was a bullying, I-read-you-like-a-book-and-know-you're-not-that-strong bet. I'd only put about a seventh of my chips into the pot with my raise and I figured there were plenty of resteal hands that could still have me beat so I let it go. Today's an off day - have to drive across town to pick up a special fish-flavored prescription for one of the cats, because schlepping to Westwood is +EV when the alternative is trying to corral an unhappy, 16-pound furball and squirt not one but two syringes of liquid medicine down its throat. Also Colleen needs to recharge. I'll be back later with some macro thoughts, comparing the two tourneys and sharing what (little) I've learned from my big tourney run.


Net return on investment for those who had a piece of me: minus 15 cents. Give or take.

I went out with A9o vs. QQ. In retrospect I should have folded instead of shoved - folding higher could have given me more all-around player points, which are pretty valuable to me. Plus, you know, I stacked off with A9o.

Those with action, contact me and let me know if you'd like your share price back (I'll spot you the fifteen cents!) or you wanna let it ride.

In The Money

But severely short-stacked.

Time to start bringing knives to gunfights.


Just as nervewracking the second time around.

Maybe a little under par, doubled up with ATo vs. QJs. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

About 40K chips, 1500-3000 blinds, 500 antes.

Thanks for the virtual sweating.

Last Break Of The Night

T33K or so, about par. 500/1000 blinds, 300 antes.

No cards for a while but stealing very, very carefully. Probably 15 off the bubble or so.


I Crack Aces

Guy was really short, I had KQo in the SB, pot was laying me a good price so I called. He rolls aces.

K high flop. River K. Luckboxes represent.

On break. 27.5K, blinds about to be 500/1000/100

Hello, Rush

About 23K, running over the table. Catching cards like mad. Had aces in big blind when short stack pushed from the SB.

Doubled Up

..with KJo vs. Qto, all-in battle of the blinds. He flopped two pair. I turned a straight. Lucksack me.

Almost 13K, 300/600/75

Alive, If Not Kicking

Just under T5K at the dinner break. I got bad-beated out of another 3K by a rivered three-outer, though I still made a little on the hand. Made a bad call with AQo when I should have just shoved and got outplayed after the flop, which cost me 800 in chips. Then I tried to steal in the cutoff with Q9s. Button woke up with aces but had so few chips left I would have had to call even if he showed 'em to me.

Made some chips back by reraising with ATo when I realized I had enough chips to cripple the preflop raiser.

Overall I think I'm playing better this tourney - more willing to tap people when I have them covered and I think they're weak.

Anyway. Short but don't count me out. Blinds 200-400, antes 50. My M is 5. Time to commit some acts of thievery.

Breaker Breaker

T3000 at the first break. Blinds are 75-150 when we come back so I'm not desperate until the antes come in two levels from now.

New table so I have zero read on the players. Pot-size raise with A9s on the button with one limper did take down the pot, so that's good. But there are two deepish stacks to my left. A few short stacks at the table. Wish me luck.

Chipping Up

Up at T3200 from my rebuy. Three limpers, I find KK in the BB and pop it to 500 (50-100 blinds). 10 seat reraises all-in for 500 more. Everyone folds, I instacall. I feel pretty good when I flop a king, but he does have a gutshot with A9s. Turn is a queen and I feel a little better with the ten seat drawing dead.

Just dodged a major bullet. I call a raise from LP in the cutoff with JJ. Two (!) callers behind. Preflop raiser moves all-in for T1550 (pot was about 1300) on a flop of QQ7. I go in the tank. I think I have him beat but with two players left to act, one of whom has me covered... I lay it down. Loose player on my left (who outdrew me before my rebuy) finally calls and shows TT. Preflop raiser has AcKc - he's behind but a favorite. Club comes on the turn and I pat myself on the back. I know it was a suicidal call, but at least I read it right - I had the best hand (but wasn't a favorite). Though pot odds say I should call there with no-one left to act, and I probably would have.

Rebuy Rebuy

Lost a few chips missing flops, made one bad turn call.

In the SB I open-limped with A5o. BB raised with what I understood to be junk but I knew he'd gamble if I caught a piece. Plus it was just a baby raise - to T150 with 25-50 blinds.

Flop came 653, two clubs. I checked, he bet 300, I shoved for T1000 more. He said "I don't have anything" and called, showing 48o. Eleven outs twice, ouch.

Turn 5 and I'm feeling a little better. River 2 and I'm feeling less good.

I rebought. It's a good table. Wish me luck.

Colleen Says Hello


Structure for today's event seems decent (better than the $330, anyway) so I bought in. It's only one optional rebuy and no add-on.

Anyone have any thoughts on whether nor not to follow suit if most people take the rebuy right away? I'm thinking it's probably right to do so but then I won't likely be in chip trouble for the first two levels anyway and I've got bad-beat insurance if I get it all in preflop at 4.5-to-1 and lose.

if I don't take the rebuy early and still chip up, what insane number of chips do I need to not take the rebuy before the first break?

Me: LA Cokehead Slimeball

BestPokerBlogs.com guy: rocket scientist and all-around class act.

Danke Schoen, Dahling

Like the title says, thanks to all those who advised in comments on the post below. The consensus seemed to be a solid "it depends", which is exactly what you should get when you ask questions about poker. My current plan is to drive out there and go by feel. I want to look at the structure and see how much play there is to a single-buy stack, how long the rebuy is available, whether or not there's an add-on, etc. If it's just one rebuy/no add-on I'll probably do it - I'm willing to play in a $1000 tourney, so why should this be any different? My reasoning goes something like this: 1. I'm not going to be the best player in the field but I know I'm not the worst either. I probably have a small skill overlay. 2. If I decide to start with a single-buy stack and don't have to rebuy, that's another overlay. 3. There's a tiny longshot overlay granted by the Best All-Around Player prize - if I can just cash in a few more events I likely have a shot at it. I'd be more comfortable if I'd sold a little more of my action. I might beg off at the last minute and return action on this event to those who've bought a piece, maybe play some satellites instead. Regardless I know where I'm headed today. Time to suit up.

Yr Correspondent Begs Someone To Begin Talking Sense Into Him

I'm all psyched to jump back into the NL tourney waters tomorrow, right? I went out hunting a new iPod - went for a Nano with a lanyard, on the grounds that it'll be much harder to lose it unless my head comes off my neck, at which point a missing Nano is well and truly the least of my fucking worries. Nano is black. Shiny. Industrial-looking rubber skin, which bulks up the form factor a bit but also looks as if it could survive at least a few trips around a racquetball court or through a meat grinder. I sort of wish I'd dropped the change on a 60GB full-stop iPod, but I have a tendency to walk around with enough junk in my pockets as it is. I toyed with the idea of not putting any actual music on it, just wearing it around for show and seeing if people would talk past me. Then I thought about asking Blood and Al for some death metal compilations, which I could blast at ear-shredding volume and practice my visual observation and lipreading skills. I finally decided the hell with it and just pruned about 60% of the tracks that were on my old iPod. Charged it, synced it, dressed it for war. I have decided to name it Colleen. Colleen and I are ready to go back to the frontlines. So I'm glancing over the Poker Pages tourney listing for tomorrow and see:

Tue, Jan 24 at 3:30 PM Event #6 - No Limit Hold'em $500+$40 Rebuy 1 Optional
Rebuy? I don't remember seeing anything about a rebuy. Then again I don't remember a whole lot of things from late Friday/ early Saturday. I check the Commerce website, and yup, there it is. So. Advice is needed. Is there any value in playing a single-rebuy tourney if you plan not to rebuy when knocked out? I tend to shy away from rebuys, add-ons, and anything that might require me to be a man and take one in the junk, and hence have no experience in them. I'm looking vaguely in Speaker's direction but I'm sure a lot of you Stars players are light-years ahead of me. So come on, people. We have the technology. Help an overly cautious brother out. Or push him off the curb. It's all in your hands.


The $20,000 Call

Heads-up lasted eight hands. I couldn't tell you what my cards were for most of them; mostly I missed flops and folded, missed flops and bluffed twice and took it down. The style of play changed dramatically once it got down to heads-up. I was playing very passively, but not necessarily because I was afraid of being reraised with a marginal hand (though, granted, that was part of it). I wanted to see flops. I'd been in crapshoot mode for the last six hours of play and I wanted to play poker - and so did he. I knew if I started raising he'd be playing back at me and we'd be getting our chips in on weighted coinflips. I'd been running on position, aggression and luck forever, and I was starved for what's at the heart of poker for me - information. Not just "how good is my hand against x number of random hands once you factor in fold equity and temperament," but three beautiful cards face up on the board. I wanted to have a hand I could actually play. Eight hands in I get one. I limp on the button with J8o and he checks. The flop comes T84 with two diamonds. He checks. I have second pair on a moderately connected board. No free cards, no fear. I have a hand and I'm betting it. I cut a stack of 5K chips away from my pile and push it into the pot. "Hundred" is all I can get out. He thinks for a little while. But not too long. "Let's make it three hundred," he says. Tank time. What makes the most sense? What's the story here? I've taken as many cheap cards as I can get heads-up so he has to think if I'm on a draw I'm going to check behind. Think it through. People do the things they do for a reason. People don't do the things they don't do for a reason. Would he checkraise me here with top pair? I don't think so. Top pair is strong but too vulnerable and he gets no information if I check behind. It's too hard for him to get away from top pair if a scare card falls on the turn and I raise him. I decide top pair is out because he's too good a player not to bet it. So no ten. If I'm wrong I'm wrong but I've made my decision. What can he slowplay here? Two pair, maybe. If he has a set he's going to win and that's how it is. But I think with either of those he'd wait for the turn and hope no draws came in, then checkraise me all-in. Maybe he has an eight. He could have an eight. I'd make that play with an eight. But if he does odds are my eight is better. K8 or A8 he's probably raising me before the flop, gentleman's game be damned. If I put him on an eight I have to call. Bluffs. I've showed bluffs to him and he could want payback. But I think he knows I'm likely to be betting a real hand here and he's seen me make tough calls before. My head starts to hurt a little. Look at the board again. Concentrate. T84, two diamonds. I've ruled out top pair. He could semi-bluff here with a lot of hands, though. J9. 79. Any two diamonds. I don't think he has top pair. I'm ruling it out. If I'm wrong I'm wrong. I can beat almost anything else. I look at the stacks. He's put half his chips into the pot. A light goes off in my head. He's committed. I'm not. If I just fold here and let him take the pot I'm still chipleader, by about 200K. But I don't want to fold for the simple reason that I think my hand is good. If I reraise him what he has left, the pot's laying him 3:1 - if he's semi-bluffing he's got odds to call with his draw. He can't lay it down. I can't lay it down either, yet. But if I'm right and he's on the semi-bluff I know his chips are going in on the turn no matter what. If I call his bet now and fold on the turn we're about even in chips. I can get away from the hand and he can't. "Call," I say. He nods, like I've told him something. Which I have. The turn is a black six. He pushes all-in. I know it's coming. If he has 79 I'm drawing dead. If he's caught a two-to-five-outer, them's the breaks - I still have outs against a lot of those anyway. The dealer counts down the bet. If I call and lose I still have chips left, though he'll have me outchipped about three to one. But I've come back from worse than that. I'm not afraid of losing the hand. If I call and win I'm the champion and I've made an extra $20K. Twenty thousand dollars riding on one hand and one read. What fucking planet am I on, anyway? I start doing some math. The six is likely to help only one of the possible draws I've given him, barring the kicker-pairing possibility. If he's on any other draw I'm still good. The pot's laying me three-to-one. I thought I was good on the flop. If I thought that then the odds are I'm still good here. He's pushing no matter what hits the turn. "All right, I call." "Good call," he says, flipping up ace-trey of diamonds. We shake hands again and I wish him good luck. Eleven outs. He's one in four to cripple me. I'll take those odds. River's a blank. The river is a blank. It's over. I just made a twenty-thousand-dollar call with second pair. Unbelievably unreal. So unreal that I have no idea what to do with myself. Change100 hugs me hard enough to stress-fracture a couple of ribs. What the fuck do I do now? I wander back over to the table. Everybody's looking at me. Why is everybody looking at me? Did I do something? The director's saying something over the PA. It sounds like the wah-wah speak from the Charlie Brown cartoons. I'm gobsmacked. I turn around, my eyes falling on... ... my wife. My wife is at home, what is she doing here? I'm double-gobsmacked. I look again. No, definitely her. She drove out to the casino. She's been sweating me from a safe distance for a couple of hours, not wanting to spook me. I can't fucking believe she's there. I love her. I know she loves me. And I know one more thing: I know her well enough to know that she didn't drive all this way unless she believed I was going to win. She believed. I know a lot of you bloggers married well. Above our station, we like to say. I hope you all won't take offense when I say this: I flat-out won that race. I was lucky long before I won this thing. Lucky at cards and love; nobody gets that. But then, this. So I guess there's hope for everyone.

I'm Your Host, Monty Hall

When we got down to three-handed the shortstack wanted to talk deal. I was all for it. If we'd done a deal for chip equity -20K at that point I'd have been guaranteed about 60K. I was co-chip leader with about 700K in chips, but third place was 28K and I wasn't relishing the idea of a 32K bad beat. Considering where I'd started the day I understood full well that anything could happen. I didn't think I was the worst player at the table but the shortstack definitely had a lot more experience, great reading skills and good instincts for when to gamble. But my co-chip leader was having none of it, rejecting the idea as "too confusing". "Let's play a little more," he said, a decision that ultimately cost him at least 32K. The shortstack doubled through him once, I stole his blinds, and a few hands later I button-raised to 100K with 33. He shoved all-in for a little less than 200K more. I had him well-covered and thought it through. Big unpaired cards twice as likely as an overpair, meaning the math weighs closer to a race than a huge dog situation. I have plenty of chips left if I call and lose. He's only still alive because he made a move with a dominated hand and got lucky. I pushed out the stacks and said, "All right, I call," four words that did very well for me that night. He had KQs and missed and he was out. People were eliminated from the final table so fast that it was hard to adjust, to accept what was happening. I looked over my shoulder at change100 and made a "what the fuck is going on?" shrug. I was ready to talk deal. Even though it arguably cost me money, I gotta say this: If you ever find yourself in that situation, make a damn deal. Yeah, I was in the chiplead, but your final opponent in a huge MTT almost has to be a dangerous player in one way or another, and absolutely anything can happen. The chiplead can change in one hand and if you didn't make a deal on the previous hand you could cost yourself a lot of money that way, too. We played one hand heads-up because the dealer had already put the cards in the air and then called over one of the directors to stop the clock and talk details. I have never been in this situation before, obviously. Fortunately I'd let the director know previously that this was my first big tourney. At the final table she'd announced that a deal was only allowed when we got down to fourhanded and that she'd only allow a deal if it was fair to all parties. I suggested the same deal that had been on the table before - chip equity after we took 20K off the top. My opponent agreed. I asked the director, "Is this a good deal?" and she said yes. "Okay," we said, and she went off to run the numbers. A few minutes later she came back with an adjusted payout sheet - 80K for me, 73K for him, 20K for first place. We shook hands. I've been in Hollywood for a few years but I've never made eighty grand by shaking hands before. I gotta say it feels pretty good.


Well, That Was Fun

I went out on the first hand after the break. KQT5 double-suited. I raised UTG and lost to AJ27 on a board of 48666.

One for two is an okay record, isn't it?

I'll Be In This Thing For At Least Ten More Minutes

...because that's how long the break is. I'm committed in the upcoming big blind even if I'm dealt quads, I think. Wish me luckbox-caliber suckout capabilities.

I Guess It Is Scott Fischman After All

He shaved.

Scotch Fishboy, we hardly knew ye.

Life Support

Got badly outflopped and then badly outplayed in a battle of the blinds. I flopped a monster draw when I called the small blind's raise with A23J, the ace suited in clubs. Flop A89 two clubs. He bets, I raise, he calls. Turn 9, he checks, I bet, he raises, I swear and call. River is another ace, he bets, I crying-call, he shows A789 for like eighteen full houses. If this was Chinese Omaha I'd be out already.

Twice I've been raised off a draw to the nuts. Once was a good laydown, the other was bad; both came in. If I'd gambled I'd have the biggest stack at the table by far.

Ah, well. The guy to my left was lower than I am now (T425, 75-150) and now he's making change. I remain cautiously optimistic. All I have to do is quadruple up a few times and I'm right back in it.

Me: A Moron

There's this thing called a wrap draw. Gives you a lot more outs than you think you have. At least if you notice you have it. Gah.


Boy, it's easr to fold in this game.

Chipped up slightly from T2500 start when I turned a wheel at beginning of the second level. Otherwise I haven't seen much action. A straight was good on a scary board, that's about it.

There is possibly a member of the Crew in the one seat. He is neither Dutch Boyd nor Scott Fischman but sort of looks like a cross between the two. I have chosen to call him Scotch Fishboy.

Blinds are 50-100, we're about halfway through the level. Plenty of room until we get to 300/600, I think.

O8, T3, S4

Little over half an hour until the O8 tourney starts. I wanna play hands with an ace and a deuce, right?

Probably a smaller field in this one, I'm guessing. I might be dead money. If I get really lucky, anyone have any advice on shorthanded O8? I'm used to playing at a full table.

I got here in record time - twenty minutes or so. Early enough that I felt I had time to sit and play some limit. It's absolutely surreal to me that I can now sit 20/40 just to kill time.

Anyway. The 20/40 table was full (I saw one guy who was here when I left 12 hours ago) and the must-move broke as soon as I sat down, so I took an open seat at 9/18 and got crushed. I jammed a lot of flops where I was pretty sure I was a favorite, like with overcards and a flush draw, and value-raised in position multiway with straight draws, etc. ABC poker. Unfortunately my turns and rivers were strictly grade Z. -30BB. Pretty awesome hourly rate for a 90-minute session.

The 20/40 game I played last night was amazing. It's like Party 2/4. One guy called me heads-up out of position on the flop with nothing but 5HTK (that's five high top kicker, dontcha know), no pair, no draw on an AT9 flop. I'd raised on the button preflop with KQs. He hit a 5 on the turn and called another bet. I checked behind on the river. I had no cards all night; my one big pair was cracked by a runner-runner boat, though I got a little of my money back by trapping 5HTK guy for an extra bet on the turn (runner-runner lady was all-in). Somehow I still made a little money in that game.

All right. Tourney warm-up time. I'll try to update at breaks assuming I actually make it to one. Planning to take tomorrow as a decompression day - get a new iPod, nap with the cats, hug my wife a few times - so I'll try to put up the final bits of the NL tourney report then. There's not much left to tell, though the final hand has some jazz to it.

An aside: last Sunday, this blog had seven hits. Seven. Around 1500 a day for the last couple. I'm amazed at the number of people actually reading what I have to say. I'll try to keep it interesting, but I'll also say this: there are a shitload of bloggers out there who deserve your traffic too. Some of them are in the blogroll on the right. It's Sunday and you've got time to spare - pick one you've never read before and start combing through the archives. There's gold in them thar hills.

I'm Not The Man I Thought I Was

[still selling action in the post below, the formatting of which I have made substantially less nasty.] Up until today I've been convinced that I was always going to be a far better journalist (in the faintest sense) than a poker player. I tend to remember the important and/or funny stuff, and I get as much stupid thrill from what I believe to be a nifty turn of phrase as I do from stealing a big pot. But as I'm trying to pull together a comprehensive tourney report I'm afraid that there really isn't any there there. I played poker for twelve hours on the first day and didn't play a lot of hands. On the second day there was almost no postflop play at all until it got down to heads-up, which was over in eight hands. So rather than offer a recitation of facts, many of which are sure to be garbled in my addled brain anyway, I offer a set of fragments - things that I remember because they seemed important enough to remember at the time, or that I learned pretty much on the spot. I've pretty much discussed most of the notable hands from early on in the tourney (i.e. before the bubble). As far as the final two tables go, there weren't many (though I'll detail the heart-stopping moments here). Things pretty much went like this: I saw an opportunity to steal from late position and had a reasonable hand. I raised enough to be pretty much committed, making it clear to the blinds that they were playing for all of my chips if not theirs. Lather, rinse, repeat. I can't even say that I was incredibly lucky once it got down to the money. I made one suckout when dominated, with AQ vs. AK - and he took a long time to call my all-in. Other than that I never got all the money in when I was behind. All of this despite the fact that on the second day of play I held exactly none of the following hands: AA, KK, QQ, JJ, TT. I had AK once and 99 once. AK was up against JT and I won. I folded 99 at a pressure point for the second time in the tourney - can somebody please explain how to play those medium pairs? I slept late that day or something. Once I reraised all-in from the big blind with ATo; later on I folded it in a similar situation and can't explain why, except maybe that the first time I was doing it against the chip leader and thought he was more likely to be able to get away from his hand - thanks to my steals I had just enough chips to hurt him. Maybe I had a subconscious read. I did a lot of things because they seemed like a good idea at the time. As far as the second day of play goes, here are the hands of the tournament for me: 1. First hand. I push all-in from the button with KQo when it's folded around to me. (I drew the ace of spades when we were high-carding for the button - that card may be more responsible than anything else for my finish.) SB goes into the tank. I do my usual stone-faced routine. He tries faking with his chips; I concentrate on remembering whether I'm currently inhaling or exhaling. He finally folds. After he's knocked out I tell him what I had; he says he had ATo and it makes a lot of sense to me. 2. AK vs. AQ. My tourney is on life-support, though I can't even remember now if he had me covered or vice-versa. Doesn't matter. I needed a Q-high flop and got it. 3. I have the Hammer UTG+1. We're 9-handed. I haven't played a hand in forever. SB goes into the tank and finally folds. BB folds. I show. Table laughs. SB steams. Mission accomplished, as the table now clearly cannot decide if I am a tight-wad or a maniac. Also, blinds and antes are good. 4. Final table. The player on my right has been tight (quite a change from the previous night, when he was drunk off his ass and drew two 20-minute f-bomb penalties) and always bet big preflop, but his stack was dwindling - he just wasn't playing enough hands and I got the impression he was more interested in folding his way higher. He raised preflop but it was slightly less than his usual overbet. I was in the cutoff, looked down and saw AJ s0000ted. I had enough chips to get him to lay it down, I thought, and besides, AJ couldn't steer me wrong, could it? I shoved. He took forever and I thought he was going to fold - and when he didn't I was almost sure I was beat, probably by AQ. Nope. KJ s000ted. I almost jumped out of my chair when an ace fell on the turn but then realized, fuck me, four spades. He has spades. I improved and yet he's better off than he was on the flop. River: not a spade. He was crippled then, though he managed to triple up a while later ... 5. ... on this pivotal hand that I didn't play. Here's the action: Player three to my right raises to 30K. Asian player two to my right reraises for 55K more. Player on my right calls all-in for about 60K; when the original raiser calls that puts 50K into a side pot. Flop comes A25 and the player three to my right moves all-in for 80K or so. This becomes probably the most-discussed (and most disgusting) move of the tournament. Asian player curses, fingers his chips, looks at the pot, and finally folds KK face-up. Original raiser triumphantly spikes 44 and gets the side pot. Player on my right turns up AJ, for a near-lock on the main pot. And the turn... the turn is a K. If the original player doesn't shove on the flop, I have a monster chip-stack in the hands of a pretty adept player two to my right. Instead I have all three of the stacks on my right well-covered. I'm even lucky when I'm not playing. 6. The Hammer play. The Hammer play should get its own post. The Hammer play was borne of such a tangled web of rock-paper-scissors thought that it probably deserves its own damn webpage. People at Commerce were actually talking about the Hammer play today in the cash games. The Hammer play is a play in two acts - it was some kind of voodoo reverse-psych-out trap borne of insanity, whim and necessity. Act One: Four-handed. It's folded to me in the small blind and I look down at 23o. 23o is not a particularly good hand. What's more, the chip leader is the big blind, meaning that he can actually afford to take a flop with me and he'll have position. But I want the blinds and antes. I need them. I only have to push one player off a hand. I raise to 60K, about a sixth of my chips. BB goes into the tank. BB is a good player; I have pushed him off hands before with a reraise but generally been considerate of his blind. He has to think I'm strong here. He reraises 200K more. I only have 300K behind. I don't think he's that strong but once I count down my stack I realize he has to call me with any two cards if I come over the top. I Hollywood for a minute and then say, "Can you beat three high?" while flipping over my cards. Everyone laughs and he graciously shows me the three of hearts, but not his other card. But I don't need to see his other card. I can see it in my head. There's only two hands with a three he can pop me with there, and after reflecting I figure if he was going to play pocket treys he'd have pushed. He has ace-three. Probably suited but heads-up there's no way to be sure. Still. The hand lightens the mood of the table a bit, and my subconscious files away some information. Act Two: Blinds and antes have gone up, so my standard preflop raise has grown to 100K. It's folded to me in the small blind and I see a deuce and a seven. Unsuited. I prepare to make the ballsiest, stupidest move of my nascent poker career. "Raise," I say, pushing out a stack of the orangeish 5K chips. I've made the rookie mistake of not adding a small blind call to my raise, though, and so I'm giving the big blind a bit of a discount. He thinks about it for a while and then calls. The flop comes A64 rainbow. If I check, he will bet. If I check-raise he's committed and I'm all-in with seven high, no pair no draw. I need the money out there. I have enough to push him off a piece so long as he doesn't have an ace. ... But he doesn't have an ace, does he? Last time when he showed me the trey he most likely had an ace. He didn't re-pop me this time. But is he changing it up? Does he think I'm changing it up and am coming with a real hand this time? He doesn't have an ace. Neither do I but I know he doesn't have one and he needs one to call me here. I shove. He thinks about it for not-quite-long-enough and folds. I wait until I know the pot's coming my way and flip up my cards. Paramedics are summoned to care for my swooning railbirds. After the tourney he says I must have had a read on him or something. He says he had 36s for second pair. But second pair is only good when you're willing to put your chips behind it. 7. Two races: I raise preflop with 44 and 33 on different hands. Once I'm up against AK, once against KQ. I win both races. Two coinflips that earn me at least fifty grand. I still can't really comprehend that so I'm just putting it out there. One more post to come detailing my thoughts on the final deal, threehanded play, and the final hand of the tourney. For now I leave you with a microstory I like to call: The Line I Didn't Get To Use I eventually decided to go with the catnip mouse as a card protector. For two reasons. One of which you get now, the other you get later. The one you get now is that the catnip mice are small, light, distinctive, and above all cheap. We have a million of 'em and I brought like eight of the little bastards with me. Good thing, too, as people kept stealing them. I assume it was some tiny psychological edge ploy that someone was pulling, trying to set me off balance - "Oh, heavens, where is my card protector?" Obviously whoever was doing it (and it happened multiple times - I lost many more mice than iPods) was under the impression that I attached a mystical significance to the mice and would be distressed at their loss. But the only reason I use a card protector in the first place is to get people to think that I attach a mystical significance to them. It's just a tiny fucking paperweight to me. What's more, can you imagine being the guy who kept filching them? Time after time I'd get back to the table, look around confused for a second - and then shrug and pull another fucking fake mouse out of my pocket. My pockets were a clown car of catnip mice. (And yes, I did just write that fucking sentence, and you did just read it.) I did finally run out of mice when we were down to four or five-handed, but at that point I wasn't worrying about Grand Theft Cat Toy. Still, the mice vex me. Not by their absence but by the lack of attention otherwise paid them. See, I did have one other compelling reason to go with the cat toy as card protector. I spent the whole tournament waiting for someone to look down, get curious, and just ask me, "Why a mouse?" And then I, in the best deadpan of which I am capable (and I love to deadpan), would fix them with a stare and gravely say: "Well, I'm an online player."


Now We're Just Haggling Over The Price

So here's the deal. I would like to play a number of LA Poker Classic events (though probably not the main event, unless lightning strikes me about six more times). In order to finance this (big score notwithstanding, tourney variance is obviously high) I'm willing to sell some action. Just how much I sell will be up to you.

I liked JoeSpeaker's model for the sale of his action in the upcoming LAPC event. (For the record, I got in early enough to get a piece of him.) So here's what I propose: 10% of the buy-in gets you a 5% share. For a $540 buyin event, shares are thus $54 each, $106 for the $1060, and $158 for the $1580.

Fine print details:

1. I will sell up to 25% of my action in the $540 buy-in events, and up to 50% in any of the $1000 or higher events. I have to know who you are to sell to you. (If you have a poker blog, rest assured I probably do.)

2. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I will play in any $540 event in which I've sold at least 15% of my action, and in any $1000+ event in which I've sold at least 30% of my action. Refunds for unplayed events will be dealt with swiftly and mercilessly.

3. I've decided to skip the $2500 events unless I get on a monster run, because $250-something is a lot of money to ask someone for if they're gonna get 5% of nothing.

4. Shares are first-come, first-serve, and I'd like to keep it to one per event per backer until 24 hours prior to the event. I like to know I am loved and adored by many. If for some insane reason you want to buy more of one share of me in a particular event, please say so, and I'll contact you after the deadline passes and see if you're still interested, or if another coconut has fallen on your head and restored you to sensibility.

5. If you've transferred funds for an event I can't play, I will contact you promptly and ask if you'd like a refund or, if available, a share in another event instead. Or a massage. I give okay massages.

5. Monies must be transferred to my FTP or Party accounts 12 hours before the event begins (with possible exceptions granted for LA-area players, who can't possibly hide from me for long). An exemption for this will be granted for tomorrow's O8 event - for that I just gotta know it's there by, say, the time I leave the house.

6. I will make every effort to update with my progress in events, technology permitting. At the least I'll send instant messages through unofficial channels. If I can give you some added entertainment value for your backing, I will.

I recognize that this is probably a fairly grand experiment for pokerbloggerdom, and that prospective backers will be placing a great deal of faith in not only my meager skills but also my integrity. All I have to say about that is that every cat I've ever owned is either alive and healthy or died of natural causes.

Also, I gotta say this: I wouldn't be here today with even one win under my belt if not for the poker-blogging community. So this is a two-way street. If you have detected any obvious flaws in my brilliant plan, like you think I'm trying to sell too damn many events at once or something, speak the hell up. It was suggestions from bloggers that got me here and I'd be foolish not to lend an ear now.

I'd like to play the following events:

1/22 #4 $540 Omaha8 (122O8)

1/24 #6 $540 NLHE (124NLHE)

1/26 #8 $540 NLHE (126NLHE)

1/30 #12 $1060 NLHE (130NLHE)

2/3 #16 $1060 LHE (23LHE)

2/8 #21 $$1580 NLHE (28NLHE)

2/12 #25 $540 NLHE shootout (212NLHE)

2/13 #26 $540 NLHE (213NLHE)

If you're interested, drop me a line via email, which is troublecat, then the at sign, then mac dot com.

A Very Good Place To Start

I sat down with 48K in chips (of 1.7M in play), drew the ace of spades for the button, got dealt KQo on the very first hand, shoved all-in when it was folded to me, and woke up a few hours later with a statue of a guy on a horse. Not sure how that got there. I kid, I kid. But it's still hard to know exactly what happened. The early stages of the tournament were glacial, with actual poker being played. Last night was a frenetic bloodbath. I can remember a few details of how I got to the final table, and I'll spit those out presently, but ultimately it seemed like the opening of Saving Private Me: the ramp came down, people started dropping like flies, and I mostly survived by keeping my head down and making mad dashes for cover whenever the opportunity presented itself. I think there's something that happens to the brain under such circumstances. There's an incredible amount of processsing going on, a lot of data points to consider, and so a lot of detail gets evaluated and factored in without actually being remembered. I knew exactly where everyone's chip stacks were at all times - every. single. hand. - but I couldn't tell you now who was a shortstack when someone made what move. The action was moving fast and I couldn't use my phone to take notes at the table so my recollection of events may be a little faulty. I'll begin with as accurate a recap of the action as I can recall, which will probably take a day or so to put together. Watch this space. Also I might go out to Commerce and play in a couple of satellites. I dunno. Somebody told me the tourneys at Commerce are really soft. Also I have a message for someone, on a subject about which I have so far remained mute. To whichever fucktard it was who stole my iPod when we were down to six tables or so (and yes, this happened the first night of play - it was unattended for about three minutes, in a bag strapped across the back of my chair in a roped-off area, in direct view of a security guard): Congratulations. You lifted a three-year-old iPod that's on its last legs anyway. You won't like the music that's on it right now. It didn't put me on tilt, it didn't get me to take my eyes off the prize. I didn't waste a second of my time thinking about it when I was playing. I don't know who you are and I don't care, and here's why: I know I beat you. Now I have an excuse to buy a new one. Black. Shiny. In a badass rubberized bulletproof skin. The kind that says I'm not scared money. Which, it turns out, I'm not.

But How Was The Play, Mrs. Lincoln?

So, pretty good day. I'm sure there's what some might call an "increased level of chatter" in a certain blogging community. I don't know a damn thing about that. Where I come from there are so many deer that the "deer in the headlights" metaphor takes on extra levels of possibility, in the way certain cultures have meticulously differentiated sundry brands of snow, dirt or whaleshit. It's all in the intonation, emphasis and facial expression, to the end that there be an understanding reached between speaker and listener as to exactly what sort of headlight-deer is the subject here. My friends, though we may not share a common language, I hope you understand me when I say that I have the look of a deer that's about to be in pretty sorry shape, liable to end its time on earth as a physics experiment, a cracked windshield, and a furlong of bloody road. Details to come.


Fight Night

Thanks again for the truly massive outpouring of support. I know y'all are rooting for me. Geez, no pressure. I fully expect to be either doubled up or out within the first two orbits, so don't get too excited (and don't rush to the casino on my account, as it could be over for me by 7:05). I'm in total crapshoot mode until I double through, and even then I'll have an M of only 5. Wampler did give me some good advice about finding the right spot and maybe getting a money jump, but the money jump I'm looking for is in the neighborhood of $110K. And a wee bit of bad news: Sidekick data services seem to be experiencing an outage, so no liveblogging will be possible until I get a little 'G' icon on my phone. I'll still stack and send some email posts if I can. Was trying to work out MMS moblogging but that seems to have gone in the crapper too. Still, if this is the only bad beat I take today, I can live with that. If nothing else Glyphic will probably be around to give secondhand updates to folks hanging around on IRC or Full Tilt. Out the door. After lunch I shaved for the second time in two days and consequently cut myself like eighteen times. So fuck it. I have blood in the game now.

Some Encouraging Words

glyphic: I'll probably miss the start tonight. So don't do anything stupid until I get there. me: Dude, I have to be doing stupid things the second I sit down. me: I no have time for smart. glyphic: well try to suckout continuously.

Battle Hymn Of The Shortstacked

Many thanks to all the well-wishers and hangers-on who vibed me through the wee hours last night. Er, today. Whatever. The time off has given me the opportunity to construct a battle plan. My plan is to push my chips into the middle and win. That's about it. Well, I have a theme song. I'll get to that. I have 48K in chips, 3K-6K blinds, 1K antes, for an M of 2.666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666 whooo, sorry, got a little punchy there. There should be a 7 on the end of that, technically speaking. I read Harrington's bit on Red Zone play this morning and realized two things: 1. A lot is going to depend on the first orbit, and hence my cards and seat draw, neither of which I have any control over whatsoever. 2. I am more than willing to take my chances if it gives me a shot at winning. Banzai! I have a little tidbit of a song to hum to remind me of what I need to know, a mnemonic of sorts. It's also ripped from a damn fine song all its own. Here it is, with all due apologies to D. McManus, and don't be shy about singing along if you know the tune:

I'm not going to get too down-to-the-felt-al Like those other shortstacked weak-tight kinds 'cause I'm a member of the poker literati I only know I need your blinds Harrington I know any two cards will do Harrington My M is two
All for now. I'm going to go eat some Thai food and try to remember what it was that got me interested in poker in the first place. I suspect it might have been that it looked like fun, which it definitely is.

Final 18

I have about half par - 48K chips, 3K/6K blinds, 1K antes.

Play resumes 7PM tomorrow. Be there or be square.

I'm going to go fall into something resembling a coma.

Three Tables

44K in chips, 2000/4000 blinds. I sucked out with AQ vs AK or else I'd be out already. Otherwise still card dead.

Rush is coming. I can feel it.

Two Things

1. I am next to THE MUSTACHE.

2. Just dropped the Hammer UTG+1.

Still Alive

23K. All-in twice in a row with KQo, one a reraise. No fear.

60 or so left. 45 pay.


Still card dead but my image is letting me steal enough to stay afloat. I did make one blunder, folding 99 in the SB to the aggressive button's raise. He's very willing to gamble and we're about even in chips. But I didn't want to see a flop with the nines out of position, and the chip counts just weren't right for a push.

Also, I am a pussy. Discuss.

(Note: I am reading comments - they get emailed to me eventually. Thanks for the love.)

A Suckout Artist Is Me

I open in the cutoff for 2500 with K8o because I haven't played a hand in forever. I need the blinds and antes. The big blind shoves. The pot is 6300 and it is 2500 more for me to call. I have about 4000 left. I sigh and call.

She tables 77. The small blind, who'd taken forever to muck, says he also folded 77. K high flop and now I have T16000 (400-800, 100 antes).


Dear Mom

Send cards. Love, me.

T7500, 200-400 blinds with a 50 ante. So. Card. Dead.

The Dinner Game

...is one I'm going to lose. Only 7.5 hours of play left in the day!

T8000 (100-200 blinds, 25 ante), thanks to the big blind slowplaying his flopped two pair and letting me river a flush from the small blind, then paying me off when I checkraised his ass. Otherwise card dead but my stack is big enough I can scare anyone off with a raise... if I don't abuse it. So any time I'm first in with a reasonable hand I'm popping it, which is keeping me ahead of the blinds.

My Second All-In

I have 88 in the BB with about 1800 chips left. Overplaying gamb00ler on my right makes it 275. I could jam here but I want to take a flop with this guy. Flop comes 977 rainbow. I check, he checks. Turn is a 6. I bet 500, he raises 1500, which happens to be exactly what I have left.


I think for about 15 seconds. I think I'm good. I can't let him bully me. I call.

He says "I just have an 8." "I have two," I shoot back. He rolls over J8 and misses his seven-outer on the river,

I have no idea where my car is. Pair of fresh britches to Commerce, stat!

Table is pretty wild. We've had seven or eight bustouts already. Two to my right is a solid player who's also been a cardrack. On his right is a latecomer, a major gamb00ler. If I have cards I'll get paid.

Some action:

Third hand, I get KK UTG+1. I raise to T75. No callers (boo!).

I dwindle down to T1200 by missing cheap flops with 44 and 55, which is easy to do. Then I flop the nut flush from the small blind in a battle of the blinds. River spade kills my action but I get a few hundred out of it.

KK in the small blind. I raise one limper to T200 (less than the usual opening raise at this table, which is often 10x the big blind); the lady in the big blind calls. K85 flop rainbow. I make a continuation bet and she calls. I bet bigger on the turn amd she calls again. On the river I realize I have the nuts and cleverly push my last T600 in. She folds. Whoops.

at the break now. T4900, up from T1500 to start.

Table 3, Seat 5, Cards 0

Ten minutes from cards in the air, theoretically. But the line for signups is still a couple hundred deep. Here's how big this little $300 buyin tourney is: the line at the VALET is out to the street.

I recognize one guy here from an eventually-to-be-blogged monster session at the MGM. I truly hope he's indicative of the type of player here because he was terrible and eminently tiltable.

More to come at the first break. I hope.

Say What You Will About The Commerce Sports Bar

...but they have damn fine napkins. They really wick away moisture. I'm thinking of stealing a stack of them to keep my clammy hands dry during the first few orbits.


MoBlogs are go!

Breakfast Of Bubblers

Woke up today and wolfed down a bowl of Puffins, a Trader Joe's brand that occupies the midpoint on the Cap'n Crunch - Corn Pops continuum, though with nowhere near the sugar content and hence nowhere near the joy. At least the roof of my mouth isn't bleeding.

One early stroke of luck: the optician called yesterday to let me know my new shades are in. They're polarized, polycarbonate, and will probably outlive me. But at least I have a slick pair of new glasses to throw on the first time I play the Hammer.



It occurs to me that I need a new card protector. Looking around I can see a few viable options:

a) a catnip mouse b) a nine-volt battery c) a small container of sesame seeds
Your vote may count. Unless it's trumped by my wife.

The Eve Of 'Struction

T-minus 19 hours and change until my first big live tourney. I'm surprised at how anxious that makes me feel, but hopefully my time on Murderer's Row has served me well. Note to self: pack extra underwear (but leave it in the car). I decided to enter the Full Tilt $16K Guaranteed tonight as a little warmup tourney. I played very few hands and watched chips ping-pong around the table. The guy to my left called a river all-in (which was 5x the size of the pot) for more than a third of his chips on a board of T2TT4. The all-in bettor had A4o and it was good. Donkey, I pin the tail on you! A few orbits later I got KK in the small blind. Big-blind donkey had rollercoasted around to where we were dead-even in chips and was clearly on whatever form of tilt happens to people who don't actually know how to play poker to begin with. The button player was very aggressive in position, but this time he limped. I raised the pot to T200. Donk-blind insta-pushed, button folded, I insta-called. Donkey: KQs. Flop Q high. Turn Q. Sometimes 6-to-1 won't even buy you a cup of coffee. Watch this space tomorrow - I may live-blog the tourney via email if I have enough time after throwing up during breaks. Then again I may be too embarrassed. Like if I'm out before the first break. Then maybe I'll just live-blog the sandwich I'll be eating to replace the lunch I threw up before the tourney started. Don't let glyphic sucker you into taking any bets on the type of sandwich. He's got a dead read on me.


New hard drive doesn't work. Now my DVD drive doesn't work either. I have a curious relationship with technology - I'm very fortunate with it so long as I'm not pressing my luck. I can drive a car into the ground like you wouldn't believe.The old Fonzie whack-on-the-side-of-the-machine serves me well. I have a dynamite surround-sound system at home and so long as I don't try to optimize a damn thing it sounds fantastic. (Ok, home video is one aspect of technology with which I'm very comfortable - my system is a tangled web of component video cables, switchers and optical audio jacks, and operating my remotes requires a bachelor's in electrical engineering - but this just shows that I'm an excellent operator of technology.) But change a tire? I can do it, but it'll take me ten times as long as anyone else. Change the oil? Ditto, and ten times messier to boot. Installing a new hard drive? Not a chance. I cracked open the case again and realized why the DVD drive wasn't working - I'd disconnected the power supply. Whoops. After reconnecting that I was faced with another dilemma; I had no spare connector with which to power the new hard drive. So it's off for another trip to the technology store! ...except now my garage door opener doesn't work, so I'm trapped here until such time as a replacement can be found. It's a conspiracy, I tell ya. Good thing Full Tilt Poker just released their Mac client, because I have a feeling that's all I'm going to have a chance to play today.



I have too much information. When I got a new PC a year or so ago I was under the impression that 80GB was going to be enough hard drive space. Then I started dabbling in video editing and DVD authoring, decided I needed a couple hundred CDs' worth of MP3s on more than one drive (just in case), and somewhere along the way I picked up a statistically insignificant but still sizeable chunk of Party hand histories. So the last few weeks I've been dumping things to what's ostensibly my backup drive and wondering how I'm going to get enough stuff off my (otherwise lovely high-toned SerialATA) main drive. As usual, I went after the mosquito with the sledgehammer. Last week I ordered a 250GB external LaCie for media storage. Then this weekend I saw a 300GB (UltraATA, but still) internal drive at Best Buy for about $125. So I bit. Over half a terabyte in new storage this week for well under $300, which is a pretty good trade in terms of BB for information. Except that I, like a dolt, forgot that I don't actually have a spare IDE port on my motherboard. So my once-schmancy Intel motherboard, which is all full of itself and is quite capable of managing the mother of all RAID arrays, sadly lacks a piece of twenty-year-old technology that would make my modern life that much easier. I discover this, naturally, after I've cracked the case open and unpackaged the hard drive. The PC gods give me lemons, I set about trying to make lemonade. The drive bay setup on this case is pretty sweet, mostly because smarter guys than me would be using it for a proper RAID array. Getting the drive firmly seated in the tower is no problem. I poke around for a while and realize that, ok, I DO have one IDE port, but it's currently occupied by - d'oh! - the DVD drive. No problem, I think, I'll just make that the master and slave the hard drive, which I think is a brilliant plan until I notice that the laws of physics and EIDE specs have spectacularly failed me - the placement of the drives and the requisite cables being configured in such a way as to preclude any such possible kludging. Well, fuck me, I know how to throw money at a problem. $50 later I've got a spare IDE controller PCI card taking up an otherwise useful expansion slot. Everything's hooked up again and ready to go. I think. The problem is I can't quite bring myself to turn the damned thing back on. Until now. You all will excuse me; I have a date with destiny.


Privacy Is Dead

So, apparently you can buy just about anyone's cell-phone records online for peanuts. I just want you all to know that thanks to Rini I have most of your cell-phone numbers. I can trace this Dial-A-Shot thing back to its source and take all appropriate measures.


Dial M For Murderousness

The first rule of Murderer's Row is, you don't talk about Murderer's Row. The second rule of Murderer's Row is, there are no fucking rules about Murderer's Row. I hadn't played any significant poker since halfway through my Vegas trip, which had me eagerly anticipating the return of hdouble's home game. Since the game as a whole is essentially uncrackable, I look to show up every time as tabula rasa. I measure victories by inches while losses come by the foot. If I'm not on megatilt by the end of the tourney it's a pretty good night. Last night was a pretty good night despite my lackluster tourney showing. I choose to blame the cards. I know, I know, it's a poor craftsman who blames his tools, etc. But when the Hammer is the only tool you've got to work with you've gotta expect some ugly results. Here's an inclusive list of playable hands I was dealt during the tourney: ATo, 6-handed at the starting table. I raise UTG and get one caller. A continuation bet on a Q-high flop takes it down. AKs, 6-handed at the starting table. I raise UTG and get the blinds. T9s at the final table. I am BB and call ephro's MP psych-out raise of some odd number. Flop gives me a 9 against one overcard. I donkishly check-call my way to victory. 44 at the final table, in the last orbit before nearly everyone's in crapshoot mode. I limp, four players see a flop. Flop comes Q62 and it's checked around. Turn is not a 4. I fold to the Junkgrabber's big-stack position bet. That's it. No other pairs. No other unpaired broadway cards. No baby suited connectors. Not one naked ace at the final table. And then The Hand: 27o UTG at the final table. I raise to 3xBB (T450). CoCo shoves all-in from the button for T200-something more. fhwrdh goes into the tank from the BB and I curse my luck. If there's anyone I don't want thinking about a call here it's that fucking guy. The pot is just big enough and our stacks are just close enough (about T2100 each) that if he calls I can't push him off whatever he's holding and if he pushes I won't have odds to call. I mentally project the image of me sticking a shrimp fork through his cards and cheerily toasting them over a fire. When that doesn't work I resign myself to getting out of the way and start thinking about the best way to muck my cards. I settle on an exaggerated "accidental" face-up muck when he says he's going to fold. Except then he doesn't fold. The motherfucker milks it. He is trying to get a tell. He still thinks his hand is good - but he's not sure. Folks, I gotta tell you, I am not a standout player, but there are two things you never want to give me at a poker table - free cards and hope. I redouble my psychic efforts. He says he's going to fold again. There's a stillness in the air. He folds. I put the extra chips into the pot and spike my cards with the kind of triumphant flourish I usually reserve for the NUTS! CoCo goes wild and flips up 66. fwhrdh lets out a strangled cry and retrieves his cards, turning up 88. CoCo is pointing at me and screaming, "I caught you! I caught you!" Ungrateful bastard doesn't realize it's my damn table image that's just saved him from getting all his money in with pair-under-pair. The flop comes 853. Moments later, LAPD is dispatched to investigate reports of a wild animal, possibly a baboon or gorilla, on a rampage in an otherwise quiet Westwood apartment complex. JoeSpeaker has graciously agreed to deal CoCo's fate. I'm looking for a seven, running deuces or running clubs. The turn is an offsuit four, neatly cutting my number of outs from three-point-whatever to an even two - a seven now gives CoCo a straight. "Well, a six..." says Speaker, offhandedly. He's right. I need a six. CoCo has two of them. You know how this ends. Three-time Cover Boy for Bad Beat Magazine, anyone? Unfortunately that's all the luck I had left. I pretty much Broomcorned my way to the bubble just praying for a hand I could play. With the Geekette nursing a short stack one to my left and change100's monster stack two to my left I needed good cards and they weren't coming. I was a solid third place when we were down to the bubble but two short-stack double-ups later I was in just-about-any-two mode. Just-about-any-two for me requires either connected cards or ten-high, unfortunately, and I couldn't even manage that. I folded Q7o in the big blind to fhwrdh's I-tap-you raise; I contemplated for a full minute and just had to lay it down, even though 15% of my chips were already out there. He graciously showed me his aces. An orbit later he pushed again and I had to call with 95s; he had JTo and the ten on the turn sealed my fate. I took a walk. Congrats to change100 for her inevitable win. One of these days, you're not gonna have 30% of the chips in play after three or four orbits, girly. Though it'll probably be the same day Channel 666 is reporting unseasonably low temperatures. Kudos are also due to High Plains Drifter, who made the trip up from the OC and nearly pulled off a miracle comeback in his heads-up match with change100. Welcome to Murderer's Row, bitch. My stint as bubble boy had an unwelcome but positive side effect. When I bubble I start playing like a donkey. When I play like a donkey I start making money. In the post-tourney cash game I turned into the Energizer Donkey - a frighteningly easy thing to do when you're playing Vegas Hold'Em. I made one agonizing all-in river call with second pair against Katkin's busted-flush bluff, which emboldened me enough to later call ephro's river bluff on a KK99x board - he was showing an eight, I was showing a ten. My down card was a queen. Ship it, baby! That's all the crowing I can possibly allow myself for now. Hope to see many of you all at the LA Poker Classic in the coming weeks. I think I might play the kiddie-pool $300 NL tourney, because if nothing else it's an investment in reminding myself why I don't waste money on tourneys. Thanks to my quick and decisive action, I have a piece of Speaker in the $500 NL tourney, which I consider an investment in actually making money. Wish good luck to him and better skills to me.