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."


Blogger Easycure said...

I cannot believe you dropped the hammer like that, TWICWE

Great job, man. You're a great write (Speakeresque, almost) but you're a better player. It's a pleasure having known you. Have fun winning (more).

1/22/2006 06:58:00 AM  
Blogger April said...

The mice bit is classic. *crush*

1/22/2006 09:21:00 AM  
Blogger Shelly said...

Congrats :) Love the hammer story, and the mouse? Classic!

1/22/2006 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger iamhoff said...

Bwah hah hah hah! Love the deadpan mouse bit. Congrats on your play. Next time, get a black, rubberized protector for the mouse, to go along with the new iPod!

1/22/2006 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger helixx said...

use the mice with a bell next time. they won't go awol as often.

dude, that writeup was awesome, the hammer play was awesome and you, sir, in general, also display a high amount of awesome. keep rockin the free world.

good to meet you in vegas. i can say i knew you when...

oh and i am posting more again, but i still like your comment after my blog link. ell oh ell.

1/22/2006 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger StudioGlyphic said...

Great write-up. And nice hammer play, too. They were talking about it last night, eh? Should have told them to visit pokergrub.com.

I can't believe that dumbass with 44. That would probably put me on tilt.

1/22/2006 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Jaxia said...

Awesome write-up! I won't steal your mouse, but I might steal the line ;)

1/22/2006 05:57:00 PM  

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