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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Palm Beach Wrap Up

Hopes of a birthday that would resonate for years failed to materialize. And there really wasn't any major nightmare hand or 'orbit from hell' to blame it on. I was happy to clear the first hurdle...making the money, as we started the day with 123 players...and about two levels in got down to 72 players. When we were 5 from the money, I had a great chance to go way about an average stack...but when a short stack jammed in 12 bb's with J10, and I looked down at KK...a hand I'd seen getting destroyed all week, I kind of cringed, knowing I had to call, but doing it with little to no confidence at all. Of course, I was happy to see that he wasn't holding a rag ace. Didn't matter...he would go runner runner to make a straight...and I was crippled, leaving me with that all-to-familiar feeling of having to sweat out making the money. Is there anything more annoying?

But we got into the money finally. A while later I had a very huge hand, that almost propelled me to a deep run...deeper than the 38th place I would eventually finish in. I had just come from a broken a new table that featured Nate Kogel...who I'd played with a good portion of the first day with, and gotten to know well, but who no longer had the mountain of chips he had the  last time I'd seen him...and a number of aggressive players. Then,  over in the 9 seat, Mr. Land Yacht himself. And...shocking to no one...he was eating. I was in the 2-seat, so didn't have a real great angle for shooting pictures or video of the life-tilting behemoth. But lucky for me, the tourney's eventual 3rd place finisher did...sitting in the 6-seat...and taking some epic photos and videos that he text messaged to me during the action, as well as a few other players seated around him. At one point there were 4 people laughing at the same hard that they were wiping tears from their eyes. Will I share the video with you? Duh! You know I will. Don't be silly.

So, Mr. Super Aggro young kid raises UTG+1. The guy on the button, a good player I've played against a lot, three bets him from 5500 to 20,100. I look down at 10-10 in the BB. A really, really tough spot to be in. Had I shipped, the first guy would have folded, and the button raiser would have called (with AK). The only way I wasn't getting doubled up (plus some) was if I had folded. This is always a very tough spot...with 10's, J's or Q's. And at the time I wasn't close to desperate, so folding was still a viable option. I decide to flat. The original raiser (not sure wtf he was thinking) calls as well (with 9-6 off) and we see a flop of 9-10-J. I didn't see anyone having I felt like checking was the correct play. The original raiser (OR) makes it 35k. Wow. Button folds his AK...and I shoved 46k...11k more for him to call, and he knew he was doomed, but had to call. I held, and suddenly was in great shape, and getting pretty excited.

There is something really cool about playing a Main Event when you get down to 4 tables. You start to realize that all your patience has paid off. You start to understand that if you can just catch a few hands, and manage them correctly, that you are in striking distance of some life-changing money. And when the blinds are as high as they's real easy to go from 10 BB's to chipleader...happens all the time. I never get nervous...not after ten years of doing this. And I won't lie...after the 350+ comment thread that blew up my Facebook wall all week concerning my staking packages as it relates to my mark up? And all the goobers who had decided to make my business their business? A lot of my motivation to keep getting deeper and deeper was to send out a little 'eff you' to those people, while putting a big stinking grin on the face of all my investors' faces.

It was time for a break. The players left the area, and I lingered behind, gathering a few of my things, when the tournament director came over...and blurts out, "What the hell!!?? Where did this pile of bones come from!???" I just started howling. You know where they came from! You got it! 'Ol Cal and his Magical Land Yacht had moored along side the pier that was also known as table 25, seat 9...and wolfed down a whole bird, leaving the carnage under the table for someone to clean up. Pig. And yeah, of course I snuck over there and snapped a picture before they could clean up the  last remnants of that poor bird.

One sad bird dies,  so that one man can find happiness for 30 minutes of his miserable life. Rest in peace....chicken!

So...action resumed. Cutting to the chase, I had a hand that if I had a chance to play over again, I would have likely done so. I raised in early position with 7-7 and called by Richard Kirsch, who would end up 3rd, and the SB...a very aggressive player. The flop comes A-Q-5. Lousy ass flop. SB checks...and I checked, regrettably. Had I led out, I think I would have taken the pot down. Kirsch checks. But I'd basically surrendered position by not betting the flop. The turn was like a 4 or something, and maybe if I shipped, they'd have both folded, but I still had a manageable stack and didn't want to get caught in a semi-bluff for my tourney. So after the SB checked, I checked as well...which opened the door for Kirsch to fire in a big bet and take the pot down. 

As I went card dead, and couldn't find any good spots to steal blinds...I started to dwindle down rather quickly. Blinds were getting real high...and I needed to make something happen pretty soon if I wasn't going to be getting a 'real' hand.

That moment arrived when the  action folded around to me on the button and I looked down at a pretty good hand, KJ. I shoved all in with my 8 BB's, actually not even feeling like  I was stealing, with a 'call' not being the worst thing that could happen, maybe. Well,  I got a call, from the BB...who held QQ. Oh shit...and whoops! At least I had one over, right? Well, I  missed it...and was out. 38th. For $3652. I left the odd money, $  the dealers and left with $3500...profiting a grand total of $150 after the two buys-ins were deducted. Marvelous! But my investors all got 1.2% per share of what I they all got about 1/4th of their investments back. For me? Well, it was a losing trip, I got deep in a lot of the prelims but bricked all of them. I at least had some success in the sit n go's...winning three out of five, one a big one in the $500 with $200 last longer...and somewhat decent results in the cash game.

I retreated to the cash game, where I played 2/5 while waiting on Claudia, who was still in the Main...and who I was really hoping would make the Final Table. I was getting killed in 2/5. I was having a hard time believing what I was watching. Some of the people at this table? I had no idea where they were finding the money to play the game. 
What the!??? Lil John plays Poker? Yeahhhhhhhh!!!

And the WAY they were playing the game? I was literally pulling my hair out. After only 2 or 3 hours I was already in for FIVE buy ins of $500. I was on the verge of killing this smart ass in the five seat. Oh he was a real piece of work, and I was the person responsible for filling up his three chip racks, when he made his best play of the night and decided to get the hell out of that place. There were about 8-10 hands he beat me in where I was left incredulous...but the one that left the biggest mark, and his reaction afterwards...that led me to want to play dodgeball with his head....was where I had raised to 25 with four calls, and he (who had straddled for 10) decides to price in the whole table with a raise to 40. The flop comes J-3-2. Rainbow. He leads out 60. Now...there is very little chance in that spot, after raising like he did, that he isn't going to be there whether he hit the flop or had anything at all.

But I was going to find out just where he was...and where I  was with top/top. So I make it 150 to go. All the others fold. And dipshit tanks...forever...and like a guy in his first year of poker, is attempting to 'size me up' and get a read, making all the typical newbie facial expressions...I know most of you KNOW this guy. You're like...'come on asshole, do something!' Right? So Johnny Poker decides to smooth call my bet. And guess what comes on the turn? By the way, I left 200 behind my that should have been enough to tell him when he made his stupid call on the flop...that I was likely not folding to anything on the turn or  river. But...that's probably Poker 102...and he hadn't graduated to that level yet.

Did you guess the turn? No? Well, duh...because I haven't told you what Phil Ivey, Jr. had in his hand. Now I will. He had 88. The turn? An eight. And now...he was the most brilliant poker player on the he checked to me, and let me shove all in. I got up. Walked to the bathroom....pissed...yes I washed my hands....and took a little walk outside. That was AFTER the verbal maelstrom I unleashed on him. It only got worse over the next two hours. The table was actually enjoying it...and the couple times the dealer tried to curtail it, a few of them asked the floor to let us go on...because it was the most entertainment they'd had in weeks. See, I don't get loud, and use curse words, and try to look tough. I prefer to be witty, use big words I don't think idiots understand, make incriminating insults that I don't think they will get, either. It's fun that way...because only half the table catches what you're saying. And plus, it makes me look so much smarter when they respond with 7th-grader level comebacks. 

Look at this punk. And yes! He's one of those assholes who, every time he raises, the glasses go on! We love that guy don't we???

This kid though? He finally pushed my last untapped button...and I don't even know what he said...but it was enough to get me to follow him out the door and attempt to beat his ass in the parking lot. Well, I was intercepted by someone from the poker room, a floor guy, who'd heard the whole thing go down. And interestingly enough...and this is rare in my poker life, the guy actually had my back. Told the kid he was way out of line, had said things that anyone in my shoes would likely find reason enough to beat his ass over, and that he needed to leave and not come back. That was some satisfaction. Then he told me to have a good rest of the night. Hmmm. Okay, thanks.

So I did. I went back in and started kicking ass. Oh, I lost one more buy in first...and so, in for 6 buy ins....$3000....I mounted my big comeback. And as I looked up at the tournament clock...which, despite the fact they were playing upstairs, they kept a clock downstairs for us to see, I saw that their were only 15 players left, and Claudia was still one of them. Nice!

I look down at 77. There is a raise. And a a pretty tight player. This is my chance to win a big pot. I call. Everyone calls. 75 6 players! $450 in the middle preflop. And here comes the dream flop! 7-3-3. NO effing way! Bet. Raise. Call. Oh this is like heaven! I just flat. Another call. Hundreds more in the middle. A three on the turn. Ugh. No wait. No...I'm still okay. But holy shit...what if another 3 hits the river? That would  be the worst beat of all time! By this time I figure I have GOT to be up against some BIG overpairs...and am just holding my breath that I can avoid one of them hitting the river. The turn. More some raising. It gets all in from FOUR of us. And I am just praying for something under an 8 on the river....just not a three. The river is a jack. Oh holy shit. Please....NOOOO!!!! The cards are turned over. KK. 10-10. And QQ. Hell yes! My sevens hold. And I win the biggest pot I've ever ten years of playing poker, in a cash game. Close to $1900 in that pot. 

But before I was even close to done stacking my chips? I get a text from Claudia. Guy raised...with Q10h. She re-raised on the button with KK. He calls. Flops a set of kings. Guy, who would eventually win the whole tournament...check raises her all in with a flush draw...and gets there. She was out. 15th. One damn busted flush draw away from being in the top three in chips and almost certainly making the final table. Oh no...

It really took the shine off that cash hand. For sure. She came down, I gave her my keys, and let her take my car back to the hotel. I stayed and played cash, getting close to even before calling it a night.

Claudia and I decided to play the last ring event...a $365 turbo, the next day. I  lasted two hands. She followed me out about 5 minutes later. It was brutal. We stayed and played cash all day, as they were running a promotion, where the high hand every 15 minutes won $500. I never, not once, in 8 hours won one. She managed to win once. We left about 10pm...went to the hotel, packed up, checked out, stopped and got four movies, and hit the road. I ended up driving the whole way....12 hours...and when I got home, basically slept for two days! I was drained. But I was so happy to be home, and see my baby, and Squirrel. It had been a long, frustrating trip. But at least I had a good roomie, a good road trip partner, and she made a little money on the trip. And my investors got a little something back. Which....incidentally, I decided to double as a gesture of my appreciation, after my final table finish this weekend up in Baton Rouge at the Belle of Baton Rouge...which I'll talk about in my next post.


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