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Monday, November 19, 2012

Finishing Strong in Vegas...I Think (and Hope)!!!

Here we go. It's Monday. I just slept about 5 hrs. One hour on, one hour off...back and forth like that all night. Not sure what the hell happened, but for some damn reason, after about two or three years without a flare up...my herniated disk in my lower back aggravated my sciatic nerve late in Day One of the the Main Event here yesterday...sending a jolt down my leg. And my back is all screwed up now, and kept waking me up all night. Well...that combined with the constant creaking of the floor above me, as this hotel is incredibly NOT soundproofed in any way.

It's been awhile since my back acted up like this. On a trip to Reno a few years back, it got so bad I was actually sent to the floor once, where I crawled over to an empty table to sort of hide from everyone (laying on the floor UNDER the table)....as I waited for the pain to subside. It's a very helpless feeling when it's raging like it does...you're left to just wait for it to quit radiating pain from your back to your legs.

I wish I knew a 'legitimate' massage therapist in Vegas who would come to my room before we return today at 2pm of the Main...and could properly adjust me or whatever they do. I've known some magical hands that have left me feeling awesome...one set of them belong to a gal up in my Mom's hometown of Snoqualmie, Washington...who, if I were rich, I would fly down here right NOW!

Before I get into poker...I had a FRIGGIN AWESOME WEEKEND of football! That I am still sky high over! Last weekend, as you recall, I was getting my stack demolished by Jabba the Her (whom many of you have seen the picture of, after texting or emailing me requesting to see the picture) late in the $1650 Main Event at the Palms in the Heartland Poker Tour. Upon departing that room of doom and gloom, I had to endure the pain of my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide getting derailed on their path to the National Title game by the Texas A&M Aggies and their wunderkind freshman QB, Johnny Manziel, who people are now mentioning as the Heisman favorite. Why? Because a series of things transpired this weekend to make that a possibility.

In the nightly tourney this past week, when I finished 5th...a guy came to my table, having been moved there from a broken table. Before getting settled in he decided to get a massage. He decided to take off all his jewelry, which include a big, clunky ring...that after wriggling loose from his hand...had it fly off and hit me in the side of the head. He politely apologized, then told me it was his class ring. Where from? I asked? You won't believe it...and I can't MAKE this up! Texas A&M!!! No fucking way!

When 'Bama lost, I had to console Squirrel, just as I did last year when we lost that heart-breaker at home to LSU 9-6...to seemingly end our title hopes.  "Sweetie, we aren't dead yet. We only dropped to #4...and Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame all have tough games left that they could lose. If two of those three lose, we are probably in control of our own destiny! So cheer up!"  Well....'Bama started the day by predictably blasting Western Carolina...the annual 'tune up' game before the big rivalry game with Auburn, which hopefully this year will serve as nothing but a 'tune up' game for Georgia in the SEC Championship. Because now that game has taken on what the NCAA has hoped those conference championship games would be...a virtual playoff game to decide who will play for the National Title. 

Kansas State, apparently unsure of how to deal with the responsibility of being #1 went down to Baylor...and got trounced. Behind from the start, they never could engineer any kind of a real comeback...and fell from #1 all the way to #7 with the loss, and probably ended the Heisman campaign of the previous favorite, Collin Klein. Then, an hour or so later...it was Oregon's turn to bite the dust...falling to the Stanford Cardinal (also probably ending the Heisman chances of Kenjon Barner), who became the first team all season to shut down the Duck's vaunted offense. When the game-winning field goal split the uprights...and both #1 and #2 teams had lost...I was two players away from locking up a Main Event seat in the fourth and final (after busting all three Megas on Friday, at $300 a pop) mega satellite...and sitting on a very 'safe' stack of over 100k (with the average at around 65k). I would end up putting an end to that Mega...calling the all in by the girl who was all decked out in Ed Hardy gear from hat to toe...and tanking on every hand, with J8...getting the BB to call...and checking it down...me hitting trip 8's. The guy seated next to her told me the next day (in the Main, as he was at my table) that she started crying under her big huge shaded glasses. Great. Well, at least she got $784 for bubbling.

I immediately thought of Squirrel, who is at home with Carley in North Alabama visiting all her family. I've been getting pictures and videos all weekend, Carley is almost fully crawling now...it's so cute watching her scoot across the new wooden floors in Cheryl's mom's house. We Skyped and/or Facetime'd on our iPads a couple times the past couple days...and it just makes me so happy to see her little face. She shes me and starts grinning. I can't describe that feeling in my heart when that happens. I can't WAIT to get home to see her! However, after being here for 12 days, and having mixed success...I would really, really like to have to cancel tonight's flight that I booked for just after midnight...which would get me back into Biloxi at about 10am tomorrow morning.

On Friday night...after losing 3 Mega's...and winning a SNG...before losing $500 in the 2/5 game...starting hot (running $500 up to $800 quickly), then losing three monster hands to knock me down to a mere $45 (refusing to reload out of principle and spite, and maybe, just, stupidity or stubbornness), I ran that $45 up to $425...then lost all of it on a hand with KK...having raised to $25 behind 6 callers....getting called by 4....flopping K-5-7...leading INTO the flop for $85...hoping to sell them on thinking I missed, getting two believers...who called. On the turn...a 3 hit the board. I bet $120 this time. I get raised all in by the guy next to me. Huh? Looked at the board...the only hand beating me is 4-6...would this guy really call $25 preflop with 46? Or $85 on the flop? I guess so if he was open ended, huh? After watching this guy play for awhile, I thought the chances were more likely that he was making a move. Well, I was half right. He actually had 6-8 in his hand...which left him STILL being open ended on the turn. I called his all in...and prayed for the board to pair. Instead, the dealer gave him a 4 on the river...completing the straight...and sending me off into the night for a nice (not SO nice) walk back to my hotel.

Before I did all that, I bought a guy's Main Event seat for $2000. A discount of $500. He knew he couldn't play...and needed to get rid of it. So he offered it to me for $2000. I knew I was playing, one way or the other...so I took the deal. Glad I did now...because after I won the Mega on Saturday night...it just meant a nice little $2500 addition to me and my backers' bankroll. Which was badly needed after four buy ins on the Megas...at $300 a pop. 

Side note:  Check out the message board exchange with a guy named Rakewell...who, to his credit, at least took credit for his comment, choosing not to hide behind the veil of the 'anonymous' tag...as he accused me (basically) for being a 'tax cheat' after mentioning the avoidance of a tax form in the chop I had in the bounty tourney a couple days ago. I checked out his profile and discovered he writes a poker blog. Ironically, on one of his recent posts, he talks about a new, unfamiliar poker term he has been hearing lately...something called a 'touch bet.' He had to seek out clarification, so he turned to David 'The Maven' Chicotsky...who, as irony would have it, served as my dinner date last night on our dinner break, along with Annie LePage and a poker player known as CajunDragon. It was purely by accident, as Annie and I have been friends for years...and she invited me to join her at Grand Lux. Both guys were very pleasant, and it was a dinner consisting of poker players, who thankfully didn't dominate the entire dining experience with talk of poker hands. Instead we mainly talked about nutrition and dieting. 

When we returned from dinner break...Annie would have her table break...and arrive at my table! I wasn't happy about this. Because I know how Annie plays. And we both had about the same chip stack at the break...me with $34k and her with about the same. I just hate having good friends at my table in a tourney where we are playing for a substantial amount of money...because I hate the thought of busting a good friend. And hate the idea of getting busted by THEM. It's just an awkward thing.

My table had been pretty decent all day...until Sam Stein and David Williams arrived...then the entire texture of the table changed...and forced me to have to completely change my style...especially considering David was now in the 5-seat...me in the four seat. I know how he plays...which meant instead of opening now with hands in the top 15-25 range with a raise...I would now limp with those hands instead (being prepared to call a reasonable raise)...and instead of raising 3x with decent hands in decent position, I would now raise 2.5x...knowing there was a likely chance he would either be snap calling or even re-popping me...and I wanted to be sure to keep the bet size manageable, so I could get the action to the flop. Having guys like Sam Stein and David at the table, along with two other 'pests' in the 7 and 9 seat...who had been running like gods all day, and were hell bent on exacting their dominance on the table...raising about 85% of the time between the two of them...made for a very, very mentally draining day.

I love playing Main Events...because the players are usually GOOD. It makes all your decisions critical. But at the same time...you KNOW that these guys are paying attention to your game, too. I never had to move tables all day...so that continuity that you develop when being with the same players all day...is very beneficial to your long-term existence. I employ my strategy that some admonish...wherein I show a LOT of hands along the way. Why? Because it makes it a LOT easier for me to throw in a sizable 3-bet or even 4-bet re-raise to take down big pots preflop...which I managed to pull off about 3 or 4 times last night. Sometimes with hands no better than AQ. Of course, it also hurt me a little, when raising with KK a couple times and getting no action. But to be perfectly honest...I love the image that I am able to build...that of a supposed 'super nit'...where I am able to take down a lot of pots (some very good in size) without having to see a flop. Not that I am afraid to play after the flop...I'm not, it's just that...tourneys are so much easier to get knocked out of when those five community cards come into play.

I would hit a couple of monster flops...with Sam Stein and the other two pests...hoping to get clean double ups. I never did. These guys were good, to their credit, and wouldn't fall for it. Oh, I would get the occasional c-bet out of them...which I would either flat (sending up the red flag) or re-raise, if the board was a little problematic, and called for a little pressure to be applied. Which usually resulted in them folding. Another thing about playing with good players...they know how to get away from hands, where bad players just don't. But those bad players will also stick around with a shitty hand and watch it turn to gold on the river...and fuck you up. So it kind of goes both ways. David Williams would end up busting, when he shoved 15 BB's in early position with 99 and ran smack into the BB's pocket Kings...which held. Sam, who got short after a 3-orbit attempt at running his stack up...but failed miserably...sat quietly for about 3 or 4 orbits before deciding to start jamming on the button and cutoff over and over in hopes of just surviving. Finally, Annie woke up in the BB with AJd and called. He had K5 off and couldn't hit either of his live cards. He was done. 

In Level 9 (we played 10 levels on Day 1) I had a great hour. On one hand...'the pest' in seat 9...who with his porn stache kind of resembles Eric 'Basebaldy' Baldwin a little bit...and to his credit, plays similarly...raised to 2500. Two callers behind me...and I flatted with 66 in the SB. 10k in the pot...well, a little more than that. A flop of 4-5-K comes out. I kind of like it. I check. He checks. The other two check. This tells me right away that I'm good. The turn is a 7...making me open-ended now. But there are also two hearts. Ugh. I bet out 6200. Porn Stache Pest calls, the other two fold. The river was a seemingly harmless card...the 10 of clubs. I decide to either limit my losses and check call, or just check-check it and hope I'm good. I can't find a good reason to bet the river...knowing that if he raises I can't really call. So I check. He bets 7500...and something about his bet tells me its a weak attempt at scaring me off the pot...which is now around 35k. So I'm getting 5 to 1 to call his bet...and with what I think might be (and probably is) the best hand. I count my chips, count the pot...stare at him for awhile...then make the call. He taps his cards in a respectful manner, tells me good call and mucks his cards. 

THAT RIGHT THERE? Is one of the rare moments in poker were I truly enjoy the game. And it really only seems to occur in big events. Good player...making good play...getting called, and tipping his hat to you. Your 'hero call' is good...and you win a big, meaningful pot. I love those moments. Its like the same feeling you get when...and this happened yesterday too...you make a fold that (it turns out) might have saved your tournament. The pest in 9 raised in early position. The guy in the 1-seat, a well-known player who I've played with a lot (and who seldom re-raises without a top 5 hand) re-raised him. I looked down at 88 in the SB. I'd been card dead for quite awhile...but trying to ignore that, I made what I was certain was a good fold. The other guy called. Flop comes K-10-4. It goes check-check. I immediately put the second raiser on KK. Only reason for him to check there. The turn is an eight! Oh no! But oh wait! Did I just get saved with my fold? I think so. Now the first guy bets. And just gets called. The river I can't recall...but the 1st guy bets again...and now the 1-seat raises. Which brings a fold by the first guy. I blurt out....

"Please show me pocket Kings!!! I laid down 8's and just want to feel great about the fold!" And he looks at me, smiles, and shows me pocket kings!!! Yes!!!! Those are the great hands you remember...the ones that didn't felt you or decimate your stack!

It was a very long, arduous day. I got to about 80k in Level 9...but Level 10, the last level of the night was wrought with frustration and a couple of big losses...which had me down to about 48k...but I picked up a couple decent pots before the night ended to close out the first day with 63k in my stack...which was right at the average. We come back to blinds of 800/1600...so I am really in great shape. Day 1a started with 113 players and got down to 33. We started with 148 and played down to 43. SO 77 come back today...with 27 getting paid. I have no idea what we are playing for...since they never did post the payouts. Which is weird for the Venetian. They are usually really good about posting the payouts early. But, then again...its not that big of a deal. I have a fairly good idea what we are playing for. And as far as I'm concerned...the only thing worth shooting for is the Final Table...so that is the obvious game plan for today. Play well all day, make the final table, miss my 'just after midnight' flight...renew my hotel room for one more day...and go win a nice chunk of change that will make my backers smile, and allow me to go home...spend the holidays with my family, not play ANY poker...and have a nice relaxing time playing 'Daddy' to my rapidly growing daughter.

Just laying here watching the news...and saw the highlights of the AMA awards last night. See that Justin Beiber won 3 big awards...and they showed him in the audience, hugging his mom after his last win...then bringing her up on stage with him. She was taken aback, and looked awkward or overwhelmed. That was my favorite moment of the day so far. I know its popular for people to hate on Justin Beiber..and I admit, I'm not a huge fan of his music...but I really like the kid. I saw his movie, can't remember what it was called, and just think he is a really good kid. He clearly loves and respects his mom, and the hell she endured in raising him...and think its awesome that he hasn't forgotten all that she did for him. His mom is also kind of a hottie. I just love to see a kid with all that fame and money at such an early age hasn't been ruined by it. YET! 

Well, I think that's it for today. Hopefully my next entry will be a POSITIVE one. A really, really POSITIVE one!!! And if not? Well, that's poker. Pretty used to it. And I will still be a winner, because I will get to go home to my gorgeous wife, my amazing daughter, my awesome dogs...and have my sister and her boys coming down from Wisconsin for Thanksgiving...so no matter what, it's going to be a great week, one way or the other!!!

MONKEY


2 comments:

sevencard2003 said...

cant believe u didnt know Grump has a blog, he posts on mine all the time, and also claims +EV VP advantage players wouldnt have any reason to want to avoid long waits having jackpots lock up and w2 forms, but another couple of blog posters set him straight, i still am not sure if he sees the light. hes even had his blog longer than mine, but not near the readership of course

Derek Pasquarella said...

Haha I love those spots that come up like when you had 88. The whole time you are sitting there debating with yourself if you would go broke with a XX against what you think is exactly the nuts (KK in this case). I always end up feeling like I lie to myself, even if I get that rare opportunity to prove to myself he actually has the nuts.

This makes me wish I had played that WSOP circuit in Lake Tahoe, craving some live tournament action...