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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

At last...a reason to smile!

(My final table 3-way chop tablemates. On the left Cylus Watson, and in the middle Joe Kuether. Thats me, freshly shaven and happy at last! rid of the goatee that morning...hoping to turn things around. Thats the second time I've shaved off the goatee and won the next tourney I played!)

The slump is over!


Before I get into the poker stuff, I wish to send out my heartfelt congratulations to Dan Walsh and his wife Amanda for giving birth to little Rowan Olivia last night. Dan was there for us when we lost our baby last February...and shared with me the struggles that he and Amanda have had in having children. He was very supportive at a very tough on this special day for him and his wife, I am very, very happy for them. Good job pal!

After playing, in my mind...very good poker all month, but being down almost 5 figures for the trip, I played an almost flawless Main Event against superior poker players...getting oh so close to the money, only to misplay two critical hands in late rounds and fall short of the money. It was a very crippling end to a promising start.

I spent all day Monday in my room fighting a cold. Meanwhile there was another $350 going on that I didn't know about. Due to the NAPT and Pokerstars presence, the Venetian had decided to 'add' in two more events, a $350 and a $550 tourney. So, with my buddy Joe Cutler making it down to the final 24 players in the Main Event...I decided to drag my sick ass over there to play the $550, while keeping tabs on him and lending my support.

After buying in, I was left with $180 in my wallet. Scary. I have a long history of winning when I am down to the bottom of the bucket. Granted, I am not OUT of money, it just would mean I would have to visit the ATM for the first time...and that stupid box only lets you remove $300 a stupid, so you're almost forced to do 'casino cash'...a cash advance that charges a 10% fee, which is like highway robbery.

We started with only 138 players, which I was okay with. It meant a final two tables of 'good play' if I was fortunate enough to get that far. Well as you can tell from the picture up above, I would be that fortunate. Finally! But the journey getting there was something else!!!!

I started pretty good. I ran my starting stack from 15k up to 22k relatively early. Won a lot of hands. Then from Level 4 to Level 9 I really got pretty much nothing to play, nor situations to take down pots preflop. I was beginning to lose hope as I was falling further and further behind the average, until finally, at level 10, I was sitting on 12k with the blinds at 600/1200. Needing a double up like YESTERDAY.

So when I looked down at pocket 8's, the decision was immediate. BOOM! All IN! I get an insta-call from this super tight lady down river and had a bad feeling that I was dead. Oh boy, she turned over KK...oh well, another standard ending to this trip, right? Flop...nothing, turn nothing...and as I was getting up....KAPOW! An 8 on the river! Sweeeeet! Double up to 25k. But still sitting on HALF the average.

Two orbits go down...and I lose more chips. Blinds go up again. 800/1600. Now only 22k. Then 18k. What a nightmare. Then...I pick up Ad10d in middle position. Here we go. I shove. I get called by the BB with 77. Come on dealer. I flop an ACE and a Now just gotta fade the two outer. It never comes! Nice! That gives me enough to survive another two levels of being card dead.

We go to dinner break...with 28 players remaining. And I am on life support, but hey, I'm still in. It's paying 13. I go back and a couple players comment at how I have been playing with a shortstack ALL DAY! "Yep, thats me...a shortstack ninja....waiting patiently."

And then...finally, things take off. I get AA UTG...and with 32k and the blinds 1k/2k...I raise to 5500. A guy two doors down asks me how many chips I have. "I started the hand with 31,700." He raises to 32k. I call, of course, and he turns over AQ. Perfect. The flop comes 4-7-4. Nice flop. Turn is a....QUEEN. Oh god, oh god...dont do it to me dealer. River........I see paint and flinch...but its a King. Awesome! Double up!

I get AA again a few hands later...raise...and no one calls. Bummer. the biggest hand to date, I get them AGAIN about 9 hands later. I raise UTG+1....I get ONE call, from the guy in the black trenchcoat and black fedora...a guy who had shown me a bluff two weeks ago, deep in a tourney...and making me want to clobber him. Then...this guy from Russia, who was a sick, sick, nasty player who put several horrible beats on other players during the day....raises! Nice. When it comes back to me, I decide to play it safe/smart and move all in. Good thing too, because Trenchcoat Mafia Bluffer was sitting on JJ. Russian guys says..."I'm sure you have me, but I can't fold" and calls with QQ. Here we go again. The flop produces a no Q. I would end up winning a HUGE pot...and was now well over the average with around 180k.

We would get to the bubble...and the bubble would last FOREVER! I wasnt in too much danger of not cashing...but you never knew. Chip stacks were flip-flopping like crazy. And I just really wanted to avoid a situation where I ran a big hand into another big hand and got knocked out. So I was content to just raise once in awhile and take down a round of blinds and antes.

Everyone was now talking about how amazing my run was, from shortstack to bigstack. Patience. Thats all it was. That and the magical 8 on the river! And having my good hands hold up. Not that complicated.

While this was going buddy Joe Cutler was getting deeper and deeper in the Main Event...and I was getting really excited for him. But then...while he was getting relatively low, he raised with smooth called by the BB with JJ. The flop came 10 high...and when it ended up getting all in...and Joe missed another 10 or a Q...he was out, in 14th place...good for $28,000. He was disappointed, obviously, but handled it well. I was very proud of him. He had nothing to feel bad about. Now it was my turn to 'have a day.'

This guy at our table...who it turns out was a good buddy of Joe's from New York...was the chipleader at my table when we had 17 left. 4 from the money. Then he did something that I am sure he now regrets. He started trying to open too many pots near the money bubble. At this stage of the game, every raise you put out there was significant, so when he was seemed like 75% of the time, a shorter stack was moving all in on him. If he was priced in, he would call...and lose. If not priced in, he would meekly fold. What he did was turn himself into a shortstack. And then went card dead. I felt bad for him...could feel his frustration...but honestly, it didn't need to come to that. Thats why when I get fortunate enough to go on a heater and get to double the average, I really try to put my chips on lockdown and just play top 5 to top 10 hands only. So when he moved all in with Ah10h, it was his misfortune to run into JJ. The guy with Jacks flopped a set and turned a boat. Ouch. So he became the bubble.

I'm always happy to be in the money, but never at someone's expense. I remember how I felt two weeks ago when my QQ ran into AA and I went out 37th, THE BUBBLE. How they all celebrated around me. It sucks. So bad.

Shortly after getting in the money...I would pick up AQ in early position and raise to 4k/8k. Folded around to the guy on the button...who was a very aggressive online player. He took a few moments, then shoves all in on me. Hmmm. Typically I can get away from AQ here. But a couple of thoughts were going through my head. For starters, this guy had come to the conclusion that I could be made to fold a lot of I had folded AK twice already, under circumstances where it proved to be good folds. I think he went all in not because he had me beat, but because he thought he could make me fold. In other words, he was playing good poker, based on the information that he had.

But in my mind, I thought he could have a worse ace...or a small pair, thus giving me a lot of outs with my overs. Plus...I raised 24k and left myself 80k behind. There was no difference in payouts from 10-13...and we had 12 left, so where was I going to be if I folded? Short again...and running out of time? Nope, I really think I could make a run to win this if I won this I called. His facial expression was encouraging when I called...then saw his A10. Nice! The whole table was like...."wow, nice call Monkey." And I took several minutes to make the call. My hand held up, and now I was in really good shape.

I would never be short again. We got down to 10. I would raise a shortstack with AJ. He flat called....flat called HALF HIS STACK...really strange. I flopped trip jacks. He checked, I checked. He turned a flush and straight draw and moved all in. I called. He rivererd his flush...but it paired the board. Good bye. A few hands later, the guy next to cutoff, goes all in for 140k...with blinds at 5k/10k. Weird push. I look down at AK...and with 425k...decide its an okay call to make. So I call. He has 66. I flop two pair...then turn a boat. He gets up...stomps over to an empty table..and slams his fist on it...shouting out "Dammmit! 8th place AGAIN!!!!!! SHIT!" Sorry man.

Now I was wishing it was a bounty tourney!

Well...I wont try to get too boring, the bottom line is, it became a matter of just waiting for hands to play out and the small stacks getting sucked up by the big stacks. When we were down to, the two young guys, and the Trenchcoat guy...who actually was being very nice to me all day...but who I still wasn't able to forgive for that earlier bluff show a couple weeks ago.

We asked about the trophy. Trophy? trophy. Oh come on! I guess since this wasn't a regularly scheduled Venetian Deepstack event...but an event that was added in as part of the NAPT Pokerstars was merely being treated as a random tourney. There wasn't even an indication that they would submit this to Cardplayer for POY points...which was kind of a buzzkill. But you know what? As bad as my month has been here, I was just delighted to be in a position to get back all that I lost on this trip, and even finish up ahead!

We took a bathroom break and Cylus and Joe asked me if I was open to a chop deal. I said of course I was, given the circumstances, and that I was sick, really sick in fact...and now getting really tired. And with no trophy or POY points involved, what was the big deal? 1st place was 19k, 2nd place was 12k and 3rd was 8500. 4th was 5900. Their only stipulation was that they didn't want to do a 4 way chop. That's fine, because I didn't really want to either.

So when we returned...and on the FIRST hand...The Trenchcoat moved in on the button with A6. Joe called with 77. He flops a 7...but there was a turn card that gave Trenchie a gutshot draw....never mind....quad 7's on the river. Nice! And the action was paused while they worked out a chip chop. Joe now had 789k. Cylus had 780k. And I had 509k. The chip chop came out to something like 14k, 13,800k and then me at almost 12k. Very fair. I was totally okay with that.

We all got paid out, took a few pictures for fun. And yo! Mr. Anonymous who likes to poke fun at me for posting pictures after small wins and/or chops? You can suck it pal! Yesterday was very satisfying. The field was very tough...filled with a lot of great players who had just busted out of the Main Event. I felt incredibly satisfied to have finished where I did. And the boost to my bankroll, and my confidence, was badly needed. And while I am laying here in my hotel room sick is a dog, I am still ecstatic.

So whats next? Well, Joe Cutler has managed to get himself sold to various people for the 10k Main Event at LAPC and wants to go to LA for that. I am open to going over there with him...and maybe trying to satellite into the Main there. And if I don't, no big deal. The event in Reno starts in two days...on the 25th...and right now I am leaning towards hopping on a Greyhound, which after looking at their now a pretty attractive thought...and riding it out to Reno. They now have lots of legroom, have electrical outlets, and have wi-fi on their busses. And I am in the middle of a really good book. And a nice long road trip is always good for me to do lots of deep thinking.

I'll say this...if I were laying in this bed right now...with just $180 still in my pocket, and having gone out near the bubble after playing for another 10 hours...I would be in a whole different place mentally. Its amazing how emotionally turbulent this game of poker can make your life. So where 48 hours ago I was in the deepest valley, I am now standing at...well maybe not the mountaintop..because that would be that day after winning a Main Event somewhere for around a million bucks...we'll call it the mid point of the mountain, or 'base camp'...with the peak in reach. The feeling has returned that I CAN BE successful in this game. After weeks of brutal beatdowns its normal to start questioning everything. Yep...this feels good.

Now I just need to shake this horrible chest cold.

And the way...I may be almost ready to tell the story about my house getting robbed. It's quite a story. I've been mum for weeks now, at the request of the cops. But as time goes by, and it becomes more and more clear that they arent going to do anything to assist me, I'm about fed up. But I will wait a little longer. The more I think about it though, the more pissed off I get. And trust me...when you go 3 weeks, and run like I was running before yesterday, it becomes awfully infuriating to even think about.



Stephanie said...

That's awesome Monk!! Congrats on the win, you deserve it. Hopefully a start to a great year!!

Anonymous said...

You will probably win that main event before you shake that chest cold. Several of us at work have had it, and it lingers forever. Maybe the drier air out there will help... It worked for Doc Holliday. Good luck in Reno, Lunger.

Goondingy said...

Nice job getting paid my brother! Keep doing work and I hope you are getting better! Talk at ya!