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Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Big Iowa Wrap-up

Yeah yeah, I know...I've done it again. Left you in the lurch. Well, those of you who have me on Facebook and Twitter know the deal, as far as what became of me in the second running of the Main Event. To those who don't, and didn't....once again, I apologize. 

I've noticed a very interesting trend going on over here>>>>> yeah that poll, the one I always try to pose to you folks that centers on some kind of current happenings. Last month it was 'who do you think will win the March Madness' and Kentucky was an overwhelming choice. They won. In fact...they coasted. And now people can stop calling John Calipari a coach who can't win the big one. He did it. Find your next victim. So this month's poll centers on who you would most like to punch in the face. And sure...Nancy Grace is ALWAYS going to be at or near the top of any poll where this is the question. And she took an early lead in this one. But in the past 7 days...she has been caught, and passed, by the two-headed monster that is Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson. And I suppose this has a lot to do with the race war....errrrr...Trayvon Martin case they are spearheading right now down in Florida.

Fancy outfits...complete with yellow badges to wear around the neck...which allow them, uh...um...help? Access to stuff?

Well, now that George Zimmerman-Lopez-Waxstein-Jones has been charged with 2nd degree murder, and is sitting behind bars...my question is: Will the 'New' Black Panthers crawl back into their sheath of anonymity, waiting for the next race-baiting episode to occur? Or will they awkwardly continue to march around looking like ignorant assholes? My vote is for Option #2.

 One thing I noticed while Kai and I were in Iowa: Civil unrest was non-existent. If anything...the divides up there in corn country were more between the young and the old...and the skinny and the obese. There didn't seem to be a 'middle class' in either category. It was bizarre.

I've been living in the South now since 1993...and in those almost 20 years I have seen things that are just alarming. And a lot of what takes place now seems to be fueled by a media that is thirsting for conflict between the races. Why? Because it attracts viewers? I'm not going to delve too deep into this topic, but frankly, I really think our country is a total mess right now, in almost every form of the word. And I hate to say it...but I don't think that either Obama or Romney have the answers. 

So...poker. Yeah. I returned for Day 2, with 20 big blinds in my stack. On the third hand I raise all in over a notoriously aggressive asian kid raising behind me...with AK in my hand. Took it down. Then a couple hands later...Charles 'Woody' Moore's wife (he knocked me out the night before with A7 if you recall, nice call sir...and would eventually finish 2nd in this event) Becky limped UTG for 1000. I wake up with AA on the button. Ha! Revenge!???  I make it 2500. It folds back to her. She mumbles something about giving me a break and folding...so I show her the two aces. She had an ace. Shit. Whatever. Knowing how those two run...she would have probably flopped trips.

Our table then broke....only half a level into the day. It's been a week now, almost...so details have kind of left me. It was a pretty decent table. Kevin Saul came to our table with a shit ton of chips...and kind of exacted control over the table. About half way through the day...after doing a lot of folding all day, I decided to test my 'super nit' tight image...shoving all in behind another one of Saul's early position raises...which collected two callers. Seemed like a good time to try and take down a 12k pot...as I was now just sitting on 38k. Whoops. Bad timing. Kevin had AA. Me, I had attempted to squeeze shove with A8s. No problem...I flopped an 8 and two spades. Not even I could miss that one. Flush on the turn. Double up, plus some. 

Then after taking out another player...I hit my high-water mark of 107k when the average was 75k. (at some point Poker News erroneously reported me as having 140k) I was now starting to dream about cashing. About the time I started dreaming, Kai was getting busted at the table behind me. So now any plans I had of leaching off of Kai and the 20% save deal we had between us if I should happen to go down in flames, had also just sank to the bottom of the Missouri River. It was I who had now become the leachee. 

Blinds started going up. Stack started going down. Every time I was about to shove on another one of Kevin's raises...once with AJ, the other with 77...the guy in the 9-seat ( I was in the 1-seat) kept re-raising. Shit! And come to find out...I had a much better hand than the guy I had slapped with the nickname of 'Willie Nelson' and who I now had the entire table calling 'Willie.' Pretty sure Poker News had taken to calling him that as well. No...it was NOT Willie Nelson. I only know this because at some point...oh yeah, after doubling up through Kevin...he assumed the chiplead, and his name was up there for all to see (James Devaney, 10th place).

Oh, Kevin was doing a pretty magnificent job of doubling people up. This was my first experience (at least to my knowledge) with playing with Kevin. Some onliners know him by the name of BelowAbove. Think thats the proper spelling of his online moniker..if I'm wrong I'm certain one of you will correct me. Well, I can see where his style is going to win a lot, or at the very least, get deep a lot. He plays that Tyler Smith style of poker. Which I have gone into quite a lot of detail about in the past few years. You can throw Michael Hallen into that lot. And so...when in the throes of being card dead, I was having to observe Mike and Chad 'Lil Holdem' Bautista admonishing me for folding AK on a hand...where Doug 'Rico' Carli had shoved all in UTG+2 for 22 big blinds...and had been snap shove/all-in'd by the guy  two spots over...for about 20 big blinds.

Now this may open up a lot of debate among you poker junkies. There are those of you who simply refuse to fold AK. That no matter what...if you have the person shoving covered, you HAVE TO call there. Well, in my case...I had just experienced a glorious AK moment only two hands prior...where a guy had raised (a guy who was raising a LOT) into my BB with me holding AKh. I shoved all in on the guy...who snap called with 99. I flopped an ace and went runner runner ace, king for the boat. Which put him on life tilt. Had things been a bit different on this hand...that same guy (with the 99) found 88 in the big blind. Had neither one of those two behind me woke up with a hand (which turned out to be QQ and 77) I would have raised on the button with AK...and had tilt-boy shove on me...to which I would NOT have probably ever folded, given the circumstances, and position, etc...and would have completely whiffed on the AK.

Well, none of that happened, because I was allowing myself to (in my opinion) play good tournament poker. Doug wasn't shoving with garbage, this I knew. He had been experiencing a pretty painful two orbits, and I could easily see him shoving there with anything from 10's to Q's to even AK...my hand. But when the second guy quickly shoved also? How live can AK be there? Certainly I HAVE to hit one of my six (maybe) outs. Not very good odds. AK felt like a pretty easy fold there(sittin on 35 BB's). But watching the banter on my Facebook, I had 3 'for' my move and '3' against...and then just a handful of innocent bystanders trying to get a good view of the carnage. As long as the verbiage stays clean, and the personal attacks are kept to a minimum, it never bothers me to read that stuff. I always find it pretty interesting to see how my fellow players think on stuff like those 'big moments' when you have to either fold or pull the trigger.

Well, I was accused of playing too much like a nit, of folding my way to another 'min cash' which...sorry to say it, after how my trip in Iowa had been going...I wasn't all that averse to. Sneaking out of Council Bluffs with $3k or more would be considered a positive. Now obviously, if I had made that call...that probably would not have happened, because I would have been crippled down to about 15 bb's, which would have perished as I went horrendously card dead all the way down to the bubble. 

I could go on and on about the theory of tournament poker when you get to that stage of the tourney. We all have our thoughts and opinions. But in conclusion, I find that in order to be in contention to win...you have to be present. One guy who wasn't present? Kevin Saul. Why? Well...in what I would consider to be one of the most bizarre and unnecessary plays I have ever seen late in a poker tourney (with the exception of my horrendous play at the Main Event Final Table in Hammond/Chicago two years ago vs. William Reynolds) ...he decides to pull a move that I can only conclude was motivated by a narcissistic desire to exact complete domination over the table at the most crucial time of the tourney.

A pretty active player raised in early position. It folded to Stephen Ma on the button. Steve is a damn good player, Asian kid...and he came to our table with a lot of chips, and essentially put them on lock down. Which is about how I play a heavy stack late in a tourney. I try to survive to the final table...where the money is good, then pick spots or wait on hands. So when Ma three-bet raises there, you might want to put him on a good hand. Just maybe. So what does Kevin Saul do? In the big blind? He...ahem...get ready....he FUCKING SHIPS IT. Yeah. Which prompts an immediate fold from the first guy. Now...I suppose this might work a lot, especially at this stage in the tourney...and guys are going to fold a lot of big hands....all the way up to, I'm thinking, queens. But the one hand that ISN'T getting folded? Yeah...aces. Which is what Stephen was holding, vs. Kevin's KQ. Not even a sweat, as the dealer put an ace on the flop and no help for Saul. He sent 250k the other way...then just went down the tubes from there. He did make the money...but just barely, 28th, for a min cash.

We finally got into the money when a guy literally allowed himself to get blinded down to where he was all in while in the big blind. Two players ended up getting whacked on the hand..and we were at 28. We got it to 27 and it was time to redraw. On my first hand, I got AJd and shoved all in under the gun...getting a call from the big blind with A10...and just like that, had a much needed double up...to just over 60k. Now, I could see all my patience possibly paying off.

A guy we call Premo came to our table...and on his first hand raised UTG (with A4 it turned out)...and like an idiot, I simply smooth called the 14k raise holding AQ...when the proper move would have been to move in. Pej and I know each other pretty well, and admittedly he would have folded to me...but I let a flop of 2-4-8 hit, and folded to his 20k bet. Damn. Not that I think it might have changed what happened on the 'OUT' hand I'm about to tell you about.

We got down to 22 players...and were one away from moving up another $700 in the money. At this point...I was just focusing on surviving, picking up a few more pay spots along the way...and hoping to catch fire when we got down to two tables. Which...sorry to say, is how I have final tabled a LOT of my big scores. Say what you want...but it's proven to be a pretty good recipe for success. So at 3k/6k....Casey Cavannaugh, who had been chipleader for a good portion of the tourney and would finish 3rd in this event...limps in UTG. This was the first time I'd had him at my table all tourney...so I had no idea what he was capable of in that spot, but what he was doing was being cagey and sneaky...a good strategy with 400+k in chips and a handful of shortstacks (including me) at the table. 

Well, I looked down at JJ...which was the best hand I had looked at in hours. And right away with two other limpers behind him...and 48k in my stack...had me thinking about either taking down a pot of 30k or so and being back to a respectable amount...or possibly doubling up to well over 100k and being right back in this thing. I shoved all in. Casey very nonchalantly called and as the other two folded told me "well, I have two kings." You have WHAT!??? Oh shit! Damn...and I meekly turned over my once powerful jacks...which had shrunk up to virtual deuces now. I got no help from the dealer...and just sat there, bummed, not totally devastated by any stretch..since after that A8s hand I was more or less free-rolling anyway...but saddened that my 'magical journey' had ended. 

But what was even MORE of a bad beat...was getting handed the card for 22nd place...and just 15 seconds later watching 21st being handed to the twerpy little dork who had annoyed everyone by dragging his 'lucky chair' (no it wasn't a chair he had brought from home...shut up!) from one table to the next...and coming up behind me asking if I just busted. Yes...squeaky-voiced troll who just got paid $700 more than me, I did. Son of a bitch!

I collected my $3745. I left my tip. Then I just stood there, in the cash room, where they make you walk to so you can cash your 'check' they issue you after cashing. What to do? Where to go? Damn...its over. Screw it...might as well play some cash game. Good decision for a change. In for $300...and eventually, after finally getting bored, and watching the table turn into one of those nightmares waiting to happen...you know the kind...when you get just the right mix of players and it goes from a nice little 1/3 table into a maniacal 5/10 game...and your profits over the past few hours are gone with one or two bad beats. Yeah...my work here was done. I cashed out for a nice little $498 profit...and Iowa was a wrap. My $740 20% gift was paid to Kai...which served to heal some of his cash game wounds. The only thing undone is how to handle what to give to my backer for this trip. 

Its a touchy subject...first, because this is a guy I really like and respect, and second, because I would love to have future backing opportunities with him. Its kind of screwy though...because I called him with the 'good news' on Friday night...telling him that the last of our remaining $3500 in staking funds went into the $250 then $70 rebuy mega...which I won...and left us with a grand total of $10 in our account. So for this final mega on Sunday...that $250 deal with 15 players...I hit the ATM for that buy in. So hypothetically, it was done on my dime. But realistically, and I think...more to the fair side of things, I wouldn't have probably been in position to do that if I hadn't had all the previous shots afforded by him...a lot of you might have a LOT of different opinions on this matter...and I guess none of them really matter, do they?

I tried to call him two days ago to discuss it with him...but got his voice mail. And I see that he called me back today...but I was in the throes of another one of my marathon sleep sessions, which have been out of control since I got home. Granted, I am still battling this ridiculous cold that I picked up in Iowa. I got on some antibiotics finally, yesterday...and hopefully they are going to do the trick. I literally woke up today at 4:30pm! What the hell!??? In the past three nights, I have had some of the most epic dreams of all time. Last night's was, I'm positive, a film everyone would go see. But what happens? You wake up, and you start losing all of the important details. But this one last night, an action thriller, had me kidnapped at gunpoint by a deranged sociopath...held captive in his gross trailer. He was into some kind of conspiracy against the government. No one knew where I was. I was allowed in and out...but monitored such that anything I did to try to contact someone was immediately noticed. When I would return to the trailer he would check my pockets for anything unusual. Blah blah blah...it was a weird, yet exciting damn dream!

So what have I decided to do about throwing my Iowa backer a bone? I'm not sure...but giving him at least a dime seems pretty fair. I mean, yeah...that will mean I came home a loser overall...but it sure could have been a lot worse. And I did manage to scrape together another 12.5 points towards the Freeroll Points...and now, sitting with 42.5 going into New Orleans...I am just one event win...or a couple of final tables away from returning to the National Freeroll this summer. Striking distance!!!! And god forbid I win something for an amount that involves 5 numbers in it...with Carley Grace getting here in the next two weeks and the nest egg slowly dwindling away...the timing couldn't possibly be better.

So, oh yeah...what's up with Carley Grace? Well...everything is tracking for a normal delivery. Momma Squirrel has been making regular trips to the Baby Doctor...all signs are great. Due date is the 26th. My baby pool has sold 41 spots (out of a possible 216) and we have a split of those insisting an early delivery is coming to those even more insistent that a late delivery is on order for Squirrel. Well, she just worked her final shift at the Beau last night (for about three months) and I'm pretty sure she is ready to get that wiggling beast out of her. Last night...as we laid on the bed, I watched as Carley was moving all over the place. It's a trip, for sure. Can't lie...kept thinking about that scene in 'Alien'...you know the one!

I know I promised you guys a bunch of hilarious pictures from Iowa. I haven't forgotten that. But this entry just got way too long, agreed? I will follow up with a follow up. Cool? If you haven't checked out KAI'S ENTRY from Council Bluffs...I suggest you do, it was hilarious.

MONKEY

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