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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Here We Go Again....

One thing I like to do before a Main Event is get some sleep. The other thing I like to do is limit myself to one buyin, aka 'bullet.' The only way I don't mind firing twice is if I am either (a) backed for two bullets (b) running exceptionally well that week and have it to spend or (c) am playing in a field that is so large that the value dictates doing it.

None of those three elements are in play this trip. I've been playing on my own dime this event. I've been running like crap the whole time. And the turnouts have been relatively disappointing in comparison to all the other events this play has hosted. Not sure why, exactly. So with all that in mind...and with my brain overloaded from a plethora of river beats, runner runner suckouts, and way too many one and two-outers...I took Friday completely off from poker.

I joined some friends for a trip to a beautiful park just north of West Palm Beach...where you had to walk through what looked like a rain forest and a three hundred yard wooden bridge that took you over an ocean-filled lake and to the beach. We snorkled around a rock reef...seeing all kinds of fish while dodging what I found out is called 'fire rock' which is...well...bright red rock that when you touch it burns like a mofo. I was wearing flippers which kept me from stepping on it. 

While I was snorkeling, some asshole was busy stealing my $140 Under Armor glasses out of my snorkeling gear bag. That kind of took a little happiness out of the experience. But nonetheless, it was a nice day...while 109 players were playing down to 20 in the Flight A of the Main Event. I returned to my room around 7...and slept uninterrupted until 10am the next day...getting roughly 15 hours of sleep!

I showed up in a very positive frame of mind. My first table draw wasn't too tough. What happened over the next 3  hours though was perplexing and  irritating. I've been playing poker tourneys now for 10 years...and I can't ever remember getting Ax so many times in a tourney as I did yesterday. It was mind-boggling. Here were my cards that I can remember. AK? Had it five times...lost all five before winning a double up with it against A10...who thought I was squeezing from the big blind with nothing and snap called my shove. AQ...had it three times. Won once. AJ...had it four times.All losers. A10...had it 3 times...lost them all. A9...5 times...won twice. A8...3 times...lost them all. A7...twice, no winners. A6...three times. Losers. A5...4 times...losers. A3....6 times. One winner. A2...twice. No winners. AA....five times! Won 3 (2 good pots, 1 walk) Lost 2 (both big pots).  That's 46 hands  that included at least ONE ace. That is...crazy!

I was quickly in a -2500 hole from my starting stack of $20,000. But I wasn't panicking. I picked up KK and got it to win. I bluffed a couple of pots. At the first break I was sitting at my starting stack. More up and down in Levels 4-6 saw me go on break with 19k...still hovering around starting stack. It was a grind...and I was grinding my face off.

Registration was open until 12 levels...which is nuts. We ended up getting a total  of 194 in our  flight...combined with the 109 from Flight A...to give us a total  of 303 players...with first place paying $106,000 and 33rd place $2700. 

My table would break three times in two levels...which is never very fun...since you have no info on how the other tables' players are playing and how  much your raises are going to be respected. 

I ended up going on a bit of a heater. The double up with AK vs. A10 behind four other raisers of 1100 before I jammed my 14,000 was huge. Then...I'm in the BB  when the guy UTG raises...it folds to John Holley who had just rebought into  the tourney....and he shoves all in for 28k I think. It folds to me...and I say "Well...let me find some aces under hear"...and what do I look at? Two black aces! Wow. I say call...the guy on my left chuckles knowing what I just discovered and he folds. John says "Shit...if Monkey's calling my hand can't be good!" He had 10's. He was right...as he failed to do what so many others had done this week...two out me. That moved me up to 74k.

Then a while later...at 800/1600...I find AA again...UTG...and raise it to 4100. I get  one caller....then the button...a player who had about 150k when I sat down at the table but was having a murderous couple of orbits...jams it all in for 34k. I called,  the second guy folded and I was up against 88. Again...I faded the two-outer...or of course, some weird straight...and now I was right near 100k in the top ten in chip counts.

I got into another two or three big hands where I was able to win  post flop on hands where I may or may not have been good. But the bottom line? When you have a big stack in big tourneys, it  really changes the way you can play. You have leverage. I had Ylon Schwartz at my table and he was really playing well...and was tough to battle with, due mainly to his stack size. I would flop middle pair against him....or some kind of obscure draw...and while a lot of times I didn't think he had anything, it  just didn't seem worth it to keep getting deeper and deeper into the hand with him. When I get a big stack...I like to minimize my liability to about 15-20% of my stack size on any given hand.

I know that there will be a lot of times like those with the AA and small stacks jamming into you...that will present themselves late in tourneys...enough so that I don't necessarily have to get mixed up in hands where I'm guessing if I'm good or whether it justifies calling huge bets on the flop and turn to 'get there' and possibly cut into my stack in a significant fashion.

We got down to 51 players...and were on the last hand of the night...when the current chipleader...Zo Karim...who had gloated that he should just be raising with anything since he was running so good, and he had! He'd gone from 12 big blinds about 30 minutes before I got to his table to over 400k...beating AQ with QQ...beating AK with QQ...and a few others I can't recall. But he was dropping players like flies. So here we go on the last hand of the night and me sitting at 108k preflop. He raises (at 1200/2400) to 5000. I'm on the button and flat his raise with AQ...not wanting to do anything crazy...and just wanting, really...to see if I can nail a flop against him. 

Well, I do. The flop comes A-5-Q. Rainbow. He leads out for 5000. I raise him 15,000. He quickly calls. Hmmm. That uneasy feeling sets in. The turn is a 7. He checks. I bet 22k. He calls again. Now I'm getting nervous. The river is a king. He sits there staring at me for quite awhile then bets a very peculiar 17k. I knew something smelled bad but I couldn't bring myself to fold. I thought there was a chance he was just making a play where he thought he had become bullet proof in his mind. And if I folded and he showed me some bullshit hand I was going to never forgive myself. I called up the 17k. He turns over J-10 offsuit. He rivered the gutterball. And instead of bagging up 180k in chips...being in the top ten in chips...and likely cruising to the money today....I was stuck on 65k...or roughly 21 big blinds heading back for day 2....and 18 spots away from the money.

That was  NOT how I wanted to end my night. At all. I wonder what he'd have done had he missed that river card? Whatever. It is what it is. We go back to 1500/3000 and I've researched the players on my Day 2 draw...and it in no way resembles the tough tables I had yesterday...at one time I had a table with Lefty Diaz, Chris Conrad and TK Miles all present. That was like a blast from the past. All friends, but admittedly a table where NO ONE was going to give me a break.

Earlier I had a table with my buddy BJ McBrayer...who would lose on the river when he patiently sat blinding down before shipping with 66...getting called by two face cards...and getting rivered by a straight. 'Smiling Don' from St Louis was also at my table...and on a play where Chris Dombrowski, who has quickly become one of my most annoying opponents...as he's been clearly watching Tom Dwan play WAY too much....he of the 4 finger slow robotic checks, and the slow blinking...long staring with the cold emotionless eyes in between the action on each and every street....well, Durr-squared decides to 'make a move'...as he 3-bet the utg raiser (holding 66) only to run into Donnie 4-betting (with AA) behind him. The action folded to the utg raiser...who also folded. Then 'Dombo Durr' decides to get cute and jam all in for 43k. Donnie had about 38k and snap called him. 

I was confident Don was going to double up and put Dombrowski on the brink of elimination. I was wrong. The board ran out K-10-7-9-8....giving him a straight and sending Donnie downstairs to the cash room I suspect. Really an awful awful beat. In fact, I saw AA lose quite a bit yesterday...I lost with it twice...once for 6600 of my chips in Level 4 to a guy with KJh...and another to a guy with J10...who made two pair on the river. 

All told it was a very, very, long 12-hour day of poker. While I am happy to have emerged from the herd with chips...I sure would like to be going back with 180k instead  of 65k. But hey! I play some of my best poker when I've got my back to the wall. I took a melatonin when I got back to my room and managed for a second night in a row to get a good night of sleep.

Just got done Facetiming with Squirrel and Carley...who are in Pensacola at her best friend's house for  the weekend. They spent the day at the pool yesterday and are going out on the boat today. The same boat Squirrel lost her engagement ring on 5 years ago. Well, having replaced her ring this past Christmas...I reminded her to take that thing off before going out today!!!! I don't think I needed to remind her! Carley is now able to say the words (sort of) "I love you, Daddy" and there is nothing that puts me in a better mood or makes me smile harder than hearing that come out of her mouth...with a big 'ol smile on her face. 

For no other reasons than wanting to bring home a big payday for Squirrel and Carley and also wanting to kind of re-establish myself in the poker community as a player who is successful...I just want to have a good day today. If not 1st place, just making the final table...I just really really want to NOT encounter something like I've been encountering down here all week, and frankly, most of the summer. Playing deep only to get derailed by some horrific beat. If I lose...let me lose fair and square to a hand that either had me beat...or was just as good. Those are the kind of situations where I can stand up...say "Nice hand sir" and "Good luck to all of you" and leave knowing I did everything I could to win but that it just wasn't my day.

I just want....for once this year....for it TO BE my day!!!!

Here we go!!!!!!

MONKEY

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