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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Final Table in Baton Rouge....Who Knew????

Okay...first, Happy Mardi Gras, to those of you who embrace that silliness. When Cheryl and I started dating 12 years ago, we went to a few Mardi Gras balls together, and it was, well....like any other formal dance I attended in high school. People go to parades. Why? To see shoddily created floats, and have beads and moon pies thrown at them. I just don't get it. A lot of what I decide to partake in, entertainment-wise, I do by asking myself first: "If aliens came down from space and saw me doing this, would I be embarrassed?' 

If the answer is 'yes' I tend to avoid those activities. Some of you may tell me, 'Dude, you just don't UNDERSTAND what Mardi Gras is all about it! If you really understood, you would love it!' Okay, maybe. That being said, I was all ready to take Carley Grace to a parade today, but the weather is crappy...cold AND rainy...terrible combo, and we are all kind of sick anyway. Didn't seem to stop our new house guest, 'The Claw' who just left to go spend the day partying with her friends.

At 7pm, I may return to the scene of Sunday's session at the Golden Nugget. To play their nightly tourney, a $100 buy in. I've made a decision. The Nugget recently remodeled their poker room...and from the days of the Isle of Capri, it is a million times better. 10 tables, located in a private, quiet, area of the casino. Plenty of TV's to watch. Big tables. Good dealers. Only problem? No players are coming out? Why? I don't know. So I'm going to make an effort to start playing their more often. And anytime I go to play a tourney there, I'm posting on FB and Twitter that I'm heading there to play...and putting a self-imposed $50 bounty on myself. They are currently getting only 1 or 2 tables for their tourneys. I'm hoping they can get that up to at least 3 or 4 tables per tourney. I mean, I'm certainly not going to play thinking I'm going to get rich...that's for sure. But just playing tourneys is fun for me sometimes. 

So Sunday, I went with the intent of playing their 3pm tourney. My luck? I find out they are holding their February freeroll that day...for all the top point-getters from February's tourneys. Great. So decided to play cash. What? No game of no-limit? Shit. Guess I'll play some limit,  since I'd already secured my 'hall pass' with the wife, after performing all of my required 'chores' the day before. 

It was entertaining to say the least. I sit down and am immediately greeted by a guy claiming that now that Alabama has lost McCarron, their day's of competing for National Titles is over! Then another guy piles on that Nick Saban's best days are behind him. Followed by a third guy claiming 'everyone has figured Alabama out, and no one is afraid of them anymore.' Oh...this is going to be fun. It was funny, I literally felt my blood pressure increase as I sat there listening to these morons. I spent the next five hours beating up on them. Twice...a player asked for a set up! Yeah...a set up, in a cash game, a LIMIT GAME...after two monster heaters by me. When they finally got enough players to open a 1/3 NL table, 5 hours after I'd arrived, I had won $350 on that table...which, if you know anything about low-limits limit poker...is amazing.

Something pretty incredible happened while playing on that table. Something that, after I posted about it on my Facebook, Frank Kassela told me had a 1 in 353,000 chance of happening in hold em. Whoa. But first...it was made even more eerie by what happened just one hour before that.

I pick up QQ. I put in the raise to $8. Whole table calls. Flop comes 8-8-2. I bet. They all call, of course. The turn is a queen, boat. Bet, more callers. River is insignificant. Bet, get raised...re-raise...gets capped. The guy had the nut flush. VERY next hand...I get JJ. I raise again, obviously. The whole table (and casino I think) calls. Flop comes very similar to the flop with QQ. 6-6-3. I bet. Country of Pakistan calls. Turn...a jack. Weird. I bet...India calls, with a raise from Somalia. The maximum gets in there...I win again. The table now things I'm some kind of Svengali or something.

Flash forward an hour. I get QQ again. Raise again. Get calls from the Province of Narnia...and flop Q-Q-10. Hello! Check. All check. Damn it. Turn another card (don't recall) Bet...get just one caller. River? Who knows, who cares. Bet 8. Get called. Show quads. More eye rolls. Next hand....NEXT hand? JJ. Flop a set...with I think K-10-J. Get called many times. I turn a J....yeah, just quads....back to back...and action all the way to the river. 353,000 to 1. Crazy. 

Aside from that...it was a typical 4/8 limit game. Lots of swings. But mostly me busting players and making people leave...and lots of old guys mumble under their breath.

So I finally got to play no limit. Sat with $500. And at 3am...yes, 3 am...cashed out with $1300. It was a good session. I had fun. Met some interesting, and even nice, players. And found out the late night shift manager is a guy I  used to play with a lot, and really like. He is really making a huge effort to turn the Golden Nugget into a premier poker destination in Biloxi...which was great to hear. And he has the energy to do it. I just hope upper management over there is open to the ideas necessary to make it happen. I'd love to see the place succeed. And so I will do my part to try and help them out...playing tourneys, putting a bounty on myself, and playing as much cash as my schedule at home will allow for.

Part 3 of three-part Saga from the Belle of Baton Rouge

So when I left off, I was driving through a monsoon to return for Day 2 of the MSPT $1100 Main Event up in Baton Rouge. I returned 4th overall (out of 36) in chips with 132k. Claudia also made it back, with around 70k. There were several other known faces/names in the field, including Austin Bursavich, who brought 180k and a very aggressive style, and who was seated at my table, along with the current chipleader, Erica Sumners...who bagged 232k the night before. I had pretty good position on both. Not that it really mattered. 

I will say this about Austin. He is a young kid. A likeable kid. And has amazing poker skills and instincts. He will eventually win something in this game. But there is a very good chance it's not going to happen if he never learns how to adjust to the later stages of a tourney...to switch gears as they say. I've had him at my table now in three tourneys...where he had a lot of chips in the latter stages of a tourney...and all three times, he immolated his stack by simply playing crazy. Going back, I got a lot of texts and FB posts from people warning me about Austin, and predicting fireworks between us. I knew better. I think I'm one of the players he respects enough to know that if I ever re-raise him, his chances of winning the hand are slim to none, unless he flops the world. And I think he knows, I'm not the player to get locked up in a 4 and 5 bet duel just for the sake of playing big stack chicken with another player. I think it's stupid. I'm there to win money for my family, not prove that I can make an aggressive player fold.

So my strategy with him...and this Erica, who I'd heard was majorly aggressive, was to just sit back and let them do their thing. Pick my spots. Maintain my stack, hopefully add to it a little bit, and take a decent, above-average stack to the final table if possible. Well, it did all kind of go according to that plan. 

I opened the day on the first hand, accidentally limping with AQ. I got the blinds wrong...and put out what I thought was a raise but was only a call. So when Lynn Morris of Pensacola shoved all in for about 35k (blinds I think were 1500/3000)...and Austin called him...my AQ dried up fast. I folded. Lynn had JJ. Austin had A4h. Wow. Well, I would have hit my Q on the river...beating Lynn, if it had been just us....but Austin hit a flush on the river...and eliminated Lynn. Admittedly, I felt bad for Lynn...that is NOT how you want to get knocked out of any tourney. 

On the next hand I got KJ...raised, got called, and lost post flop. Great start. It got worse. I decide to just limp with Q10s...and fortunately...don't get raised. A flop of 7-8-9 comes out....with a spade (backdoor flush draw). It's going to take a large bet to get me off that hand! Well, the small blind...one of the no-names at the table...and a guy who would kind of torment me all day, then finish 5th....just open shoves for 38k. Damn. Smells like he either has a 10...or top pair...or maybe bottom two. I made the call...and he turned over 7-8. Yep...makes sense. It holds. Shit. And now I was down to around 70k and needing something positive to happen pretty soon or I was not going to cash (12 got paid). 

Two levels of sticking and moving, finding good spots to steal blinds...and one nice check-raise all in on the eventual 2nd place finisher for a nice pot...and I was back to over 150k. I managed to hover around that count while we spent one of the longest periods of time ever on a bubble. It took us two and a half levels (50 minutes per level) before we finally got into the money. By the time we got into the money...the average stack was now just 18 big blinds. This final table was going to go quick. I think it took like 15 minutes before we lost 3 and were a final table. 

Austin would not make the money. He got nuts like he always does. I think his biggest debacle came on a hand where he raised on the button...to 25k I think, with 9-10 off. He got re-raised by the big blind, and old guy...who never raised without a big hand....to 80k total. Austin thought about it, and calls. The flop comes ten high....all diamonds. The guy in the BB...with QQ! and the queen of diamonds...leads out for 100k. Austin tanks....forever...then shoves on the guy. We ALL knew the old guy was never folding. He wasn't. He held, and Austin was crippled. Not sure what his elimination hand was...but that 9-10 hand was his real killer. There were a couple other hands that had a lot of us scratching our heads. Austin at one point early in the day had close to half a million, and never had to get crazy like he did to easily make the final table. One day, he is going to figure that out. I would assume.

Claudia got knocked out fairly early in Day 2...when she couldn't bully Q-10 into folding to her AK button raise...when a ten hit the flop and he (Ben Thomas) simply refused to fold to her barreling on all three streets. Ben would later get stung when his aces got snapped off by Michael Benson's 'El Diablo'...yeah...K10. Good 'ol K10. 


When we got to the final table they put us on dinner break. I went with 5 guys to a place near the boat there called...Shucks. The waitress understood our need to get in and out of there...and made it happen. Chantelle. She was awesome. And the food was really good. Allan Kessler ate with us...and about half way through the meal text messaged the tourney director and asked him to extend the 45 minute dinner break by about 15 minutes...which they complied with. So with me...were Kessler, Michael Kasoulis (might have botched that spelling) Michael Benson, and Robbie Williams...all really nice guys and good poker players. And Brett Allelo, who was 2nd to me when I won my one and only WSOP ring 3 years ago, and who lives in Baton Rouge and has become a good friend also joined us.

Well, something eerie happened, and I am not sure if it was my fault or not! Before we left, I said, "I really hope that lady is the first one knocked out...so I can have all that leg and elbow room!" She was in the 10-seat, me the 9-seat...and you know how I am about my space at the table! Well...literally, on the first hand back...8 seat raises with AQ, and she shoves in the SB with A10d. She lost. And was out. The other guys were like...'Monkey...how crazy is THAT!??' I knowwwww right? I felt kind of bad, actually!

Well...what happened next was equally eerie. All four guys that I had eaten dinner with? All went out in order...one after the other. Until it was just me. Did I mention? I  was sitting there card dead as fuck! Getting nothing to play back with, nothing to raise in position with...just nothing. But luckily, I brought enough to the final table to at least weather a 5 or 6 orbit storm. Well, as I've done in other tourneys in my life...instead of getting it in bad out of desperation, there is always money to be made by just sitting there and letting people knock each other out. And that's what I did.

Once we got to 9...I think the payout was $2300....so I had at least covered my two buy ins of $1100 each. It didn't take long and we were down to 6...which I think was $8500. Then we lost another one...and I still had NOT played a SINGLE hand at the final table. Not one! Well, finally, I got a hand...in the SB...and shoved into the chip leader...the guy Shawn who would end up winning,  and who was probably the 2nd worst player at the table. He snap called my shove with A4...and I doubled up to an amount that kept me around long enough to watch another player leave! Now four left...and since I'd not had AA or KK all day, I figured they were either coming soon, or it just wasn't meant to be my day.

The one who was getting all the good cards was the knucklehead in the 1-seat who would eventually win. And though I think he was pretty crappy, he must have had SOME kind of ability, since him and the 2nd place guy played heads up for 3.5 hours. It's pretty hard to play that long if you totally suck. But his play early just made him easy to dislike. 

The guy on my right, in the 8-seat...opened with KK. Shawn in the 1 seat re-raises. It folds back to the 8-seat...and after a minor tanking...he shoves all in....for a LOT...I mean...a TON..and had the kid covered. He calls off. With AQ off. Jeezuz. That's horrendous. But you know he hit an ace on the turn to double up to a massive stack.  And then, he did what most of us players loathe. The 'ol clap of the hands...followed by 'Yes! Ship it!!!!"

On another hand...with the blinds at 6k/12k...he opens for 80k! With what turned out to be aces. Lucky for him he got a call from a guy with K10...who was unlucky enough to flop a king-high board and go broke. More money for monkey. And more ordering by the 1-seat to 'SHIP IT!!!!"

So...at four-handed....and needing to start taking control of the table if I was going to get any deeper, the button raised with me in the BB with A4. He was a pretty decent player, and was one to raise a lot on the button, so I felt like A4 might have been the best hand...or at the very least....not that far behind. I was wrong. I shoved all in, and he called with AQ. Ooops. I picked up some really decent chop outs on the flop and turn...but nothing materialized, and I was out 4th...for a shade under $11,000. 

I felt no sadness or bitterness. I was pretty proud of my ability to get that deep with very little to play with. Patience had really paid off. And I was playing for 100%, so that was nice too. To reward my backers from the S. Florida trip, who I hadn't gotten around to refunding yet (though it had only been about a week since I got home) I sent them all an email telling them I had decided to double their return due to my good run in Baton Rouge. Why? Hell I don't know...just felt like it! And they all sure appreciated it. I have paid all of them out...as of three days ago. EVERYONE is paid out...all my pools, all my Super Bowl Squares winners. I owe NOBODY! Even paid off my homeowners insurance on my house in Pensacola (which STILL sits unrented and is causing me to lose my mind!) for the entire year...which I've never done before in ten years. I love that feeling of liberation that comes with paying off everything you owe! Now...if I could just get the people, and there are a LOT OF THEM....who owe me money....for various things, to get that feeling...and shoot me a payment...it would really be a good day/week/month/year!!!!

I was happy to get out of Baton Rouge with a final table finish. I honestly never, ever expected to do well up there. So it was obviously a huge shocker...and a much needed boost to my rep, my confidence, and my bankroll. All good things. And now, I am a little more excited about packing up a suitcase and going to play somewhere else again soon. Maybe St Louis? Yes, I hate that city, and the players are horrendous....but there is a WSOP event up there...at Lumiere Casino, that is not owned by Caesar's...and another event just down the street...so maybe it's not such a bad idea to trek up there. I also just put about $2000 into repairs and maintenance into my 4-Runner....getting it into peak, road-tripping shape! And with Carley in daycare and loving it...it's a good time to be out winning some money...and trying to get our down payment for a house and move out of this damn rental. I figure I need about 40-50k cash to plunk down on a house of about 200k. Not too bad. Very do-able. Let's see if the Poker Gods agree!

COMING UP NEXT: The 'inside story' about Chan Pelton, the PBKC player disqualified for removing chips from play.

MONKEY

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Congrats, Monkey! Always enjoy seeing you do well.

sincerely,

s.i.