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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Surviving Day One in Chicago

I know. I haven't blogged in a few days. I have no good excuse for you. I left you hanging with tales of a victory in the nightly. that two days of losing have followed, I am...of course, fixated on THAT. But yeah...I guess I should be more pleased that I managed to rollercoaster my bankroll back to even for a few days with the nightly win/chop.

Bottom line, there were 150 players. 18 got paid. Made the Final Table...lost 4 players...structure blew up in a bad way...where the average stack was about 7 big blinds and we all had between 120-160k. No one was safe. They were adding a Main Event seat for the winner (value=$3125) and since three of us already had a seat, we decided to have one of us sign for first, take the cash...and just divide the whole prize pool 6 ways. So we all got what amounted to 2nd place money....$2250 each. I have gotten increasingly ambivilent about chopping, especially nightly tournaments...but this one was a no-brainer.

What was that? Monday? Tuesday? I don't remember. The next two days pretty much sucked, I know that. Thursday was Mega Sattellite day...and I was really hoping to win at least one mega, and hopefully two. I won zero. In the 3rd 11pm...and with 5 to go til the seat, I ran AQ into A10...why I thought I would win that I have no idea. Boom goes the Monkey.

To the guy who sent in the comment claiming that I was only 55% to win the hand in the Sunday Million with KK vs. AQ...I would like to know where you went to school so I can make sure my kids never get within 100 miles of that campus.

I played the $1100 Heads Up Championship on Tuesday. That was fun. Yes...that is dripping sarcasm. My first match was against an older gentleman. He was nice. I won 80% of the hands. Then when I had him down 5 to 1...he would double up. Back and forth this went...until we were down to only 5 remaining tables in the room (out of 120'ish). I was starting to think I would never put him away...and then finally, I did.

My next match was against a guy named Larkin. Supposedly Larkin means something in Norwegian that has to do with some kind of bird. This guy was one of the winners of the 'high card' event down in the cash room. was obvious. Raising preflop was a waste of time. Added to the frustration of playing heads up against an obvious limit player who requires seeing all 5 cards no matter what...was the fact he looked like the teacher on Southpark who sports Mr. Hand as his #1 companion. As you may have predicted, he defeated me. Just when I thought I had him set up...with middle pair and an open ended straight draw, I got him to bite...only to watch him hit a set on the river that failed to complete my straight. OUT! Dammit!

By now you are probably wondering what in the hell the video up above has to do with today's blog. Am I correct? I'll be right back...I've decided if I do NOT eat something RIGHT now I am going to die. I have 90 minutes til go-time.

Okay, I'm back. I'd like to thank McDonalds for putting some kind of funky chemical in their food that made my Southwest Chicken salad somehow survive in my hotel room's refrigerator without changing in consistency in any way. I find that pleasing, but incredibly eerie.

Congratulations are in order, from what I understand...for my father-in-law Sonny Johnston. He has been playing more and more poker. Occasionally he comes to visit me and the Squirrel and stays with us at our house. I've heard from a few dealers that he is a pretty okay player. Well, one of you posted a comment here that you chopped a tourney with him in Tunica recently. Cool! So...congratulations Sonny...keep it up!

Chicago's transportation infrastructure is a joke. Apparantly, one of the Chicago cab companies bought all the other companies a few years ago...creating a monopoly. This is what I was given as an excuse when I asked why I sat at Horseshoe waiting an hour and a half for a friggin cab back to my hotel, which is 4.1 miles from the casino. Have you ever been to a casino where there isnt a steady stream of cabs? either. I give you....Horseshoe Hammond.

So, I just woke up a few minutes ago. I turn on the TV...and playing in front of me is dude from the Man vs. Wild a Degree antiperspirant commercial. Its all about Survival. And he has these clowns decked out in friggin meat ponchos. Brilliant. I immediately thought of Kai Landry. This idea is straight from the mind of that little maniac.

Pain...that is what I experiencing right, in mid bite of my salad, I just took a gigantic chunk of flesh out of my upper lip...holy shit. Nice hole...that willl give my tongue something to annoyingly toy with all day today.

Meat Ponchos. Yes. Clever. And very good as comparative analogies go when comparing it to getting through Day 1 yesterday in the Main Event here in Chicago. The nice folks here who run things in Chicago, once again did their promotion where they high-card tables in the cash room during the month leading up to their tournament, handing out entries in the Heads Up Championship as well as the Main Event. Its amazing how deep these guys reach into their own pockets to juice their prize pools. The result is that it creates a wild card environment for us full-timers. You need to figure out who those freerollers are and figure it out pretty quick, or it WILL come back to bite you on the ass...kind of like these wolves who are chasing the guys in the meat ponchos. MEAT PONCHOS...freaking hilarious!

First things first. I owe $20 to two seperate guys. Stupid me put the over/under for entries at 632 in the Main Event. Pffft. Nice one Monkey. Only 304 showed up...which is still pretty respectable, and has generated a 1st place prize of $226,000...which I will be more than happy to smuggle home with me on Wednesday, on my flight...since I will NOT be winning the BMW...dammit. And they beat last year's turnout by something like their event is improving. But yeah, I was way I gotta pay those guys today.

Don (my roomie on this trip) and I arrived on time. My first table was super annoying. On the 'other side' of the table I had three super aggressive young punks...two who were wearing those faggy glasses that seem to be popular now. I hate them. One of them thought he was the second coming of 'The Situation'...with his stupid white glasses and faux hawk that I'm pretty sure went out of style about 4 years ago. The other guy spent the first hour of the tourney getting a $2 a minute massage and practicing tough guy looks whenever he would three-bet someone. Yeah...I was hating this table. It was iPad time. I found a good movie to watch...and then fired up a game of 'Words with Friends' which is just like Scrabble and appears to be very popular...since getting into a game against some random opponent is a breeze.

Yeah...I would again like to thank Apple for making my life so much better. My wife spent the first three hours trying to 'pep talk' me into not losing my mind at the table. Hell, I was fine. Its not like these twerpy clowns put me on tilt. They don't. I have the ability to just sit there and internally despise people without it affecting my game, or without me starting to target people.

Then, seated on my right...was a guy who, wow how do I explain this guy? He was about 5'2"...had a squeaky voice like an elf...and you could tell he was constantly trying to be acknowledged. Early in the action my AQ with an ace on the flop had to be folded to his huge river bet when every possible draw was completed on the river. When I folded an ace face up and he showed me one 8...I had that little urge to see how many strikes I could roll if I signed up for a game of midget-bowling.

I wont bore you with hand play. I would be moved twice on the day, which I hate because it affects the continuity of play in a Main Event. You really want to draw a late breaking table so you can dig in...prepare for the grind...and study your opponents, so you can use that to your advantage.

I just didn't get that lucky, so I had to quick-study everyone and do what I could. I did okay. There is a certain strategy that I have been employing in Main Events...and I think it might be responsible for the amount of cashes and Final Tables I have made in Mains in the past year.

The thing about Mains is in just about all of them now you get 1 hour levels and an assload of chips. The players are kind of hodgepodge from everywhere. You see a lot of 5/10 cash game players and higher...guys who can't be bothered to play in the $300-$500 tourneys...but who see that quarter of a million prize for first and are drawn in. You also see a lot of the online grinders who play all the high buyin events online. Those two groups are very easy to pick out. The cash game guys are always trying to dominate the table and chip up early. The online guys are always anxious to make all kinds of 'plays' and instill fear into the table...making everyone know who the 'real player' at the table is.

I don't begrudge either of these groups or dislike their strategy. I just happen to know that it isn't very effective. Do I sometimes wish I could come in with their style of play and sit there ramming and jamming and putting in 4 and 5 bets with shit like 4-8 suited and 4-6 offsuit? thanks. Its just not necessary to over-inflating pots in level 3 to the point that you have no way to back yourself out of the hand by the time the turn card arrives and you have bluffed about 75% of your stack into the pot going to the river.

It was absolutely comical to watch 'cash game-fag glasses-macho-massage guy' build his stack to over 60k and lose the ENTIRE stack on one hand...when we were at 150/300.

About 45 minutes before it happened...and while watching him on the preceeding three hands, I said to the munchkin sitting next to me....

"this guy is going to completely blow that stack up...and very soon. In fact, I don't even see him making the dinner break."

"No way...not him. No way he will blow up his stack. Maybe that guy in the two seat, but not him."

Monkey the Greek strikes again. Cue the blowup. Seat 8 busted. Taking his place was Indian (dot on head kind) guy arriving with 80k. He was in on the chop with me the other night and is a pretty solid player...even though he looks like an ostrich...which is the only thing I can seem to focus on when he's at my table. Its bizarre.

Ostrich shows up and gets hit with the deck. Our little table dominators start to get pissed off that there is a new table captain. So when the dummy raises with Q6h...our new Indian fellow re-raises...and raises quite a lot...with AA. Retardo calls. Flops nothing, turns nothing...and after having pumped 75% of his stack into the pot by the river...blasts his final 37,000 chips all in, only to be called...muttering those words we all love to hear from our opponent, when they don't even turn over their cards, and just whimper...."you got it man, nice call." See ya later, pal!

Ridiculous. I saw that shit all day yesterday. Do these guys have any clue that they are playing for a quarter of a million dollars? It would appear not.

Well, I have decided to use a very methodical approach to playing these Main Events...instead of putting myself and my stack at risk every hand. Its pretty simple...with deep stacks and long can easily sit there and play nothing but top ten hands only. I use patience as my weapon. I don't get involved with bad hands in bad position. And as my game has improved to the point that I am very effective at putting my opponent on their hand, I can often times beat them post flop just by figuring out where they are.

As long as I stay at or around 20 BB's I never feel like I am out of it. I don't care if the stacks around me are growing to Mt Everest-like stature, I know that those guys are just as likely to see them toppled as quick as they grew them. But let someone run into me with their whole stack of 25BB's holding JJ because they are afraid to play flops and let me wake up with AA...and I grow my stack without having to do much work. And then I can sit there watching another movie on NetFlix...or playing another game with someone, or just listening to music...patiently waiting on another player to make a stupid mistake, and being the beneficiary.

These structures just allow you to play a game where patience is the key component. I just make the decision not to get into a battle of ego and pride like a lot of these guys do. They think once they have made that first or second raise, that they can never back out of it. The whole point of no return style of play is just wreckless and unnecessary.

I have to get ready to go now...Don is pacing the room in that nervous way of his. He has 22k heading back...and I have a little over 39k. The blinds are 500/1000 and we have 172 of the original 304 players remaining. 36 will get paid...and I doubt we will even be in the money by the end of today. But I just want to be there at the end of today. I want to end this trip on a big positive note.

Hope you all have a great weekend.



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