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Friday, March 6, 2015

Some Going-Away Jabs for St. Louis PART 1

I'm home. Unpacked. Caught up on sleep. (sort of) And ready to share my mental anguish that was the last 6 days in St. Louis. Making it harder to share was the final 18 hours..which were actually pleasant. Dang St. Louis, just when I was in full-on nuclear mode and ready to unleash the hounds!


My flight to St. Louis was perfect and without incident. And the day of my flight home...everything was also going perfect, which was almost ominous. Then sure enough...as my plane was literally lifting off from Lambert Field...I check my email and find 'Your flight from Charlotte to Gulfport has been canceled.' Hells bells. And so began the day from hell. I won't share every gory detail other than to say I navigated the horror better than most by doing the opposite of everyone else, staying calm, and speaking in a pleasant voice to the agents. It seemed (for once) to be the winning formula, one that kept me from waiting in a line that 140 (I counted, because that's what us people with OCD do!) tortured souls were standing in after flights were being canceled all over the board. I found a sympathetic gate agent to help me when all I did was ask what would happen to my luggage if I decided to forgo the line and just book a ticket online.

"Why would you buy a ticket if you don't have to? That's crazy. Let me see your boarding pass from your canceled flight?" Next thing I know I had a confirmed seat three hours later, albeit to New Orleans...but hey! I wasn't sleeping in Charlotte! And I got lucky, as 'The Claw' was driving home from Jackson, MS that night. She made a detour and picked me up at NOLA International..and I was home and in bed with my girls by 2am! Without my luggage of course...got that the next day around 6pm. No big deal. Say this...for all four legs of my trips to and from I had exit rows...and surprisingly friendly flight attendants, so it wasn't a total disaster.

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A NICE FINAL 18-HOUR's IN STL

After a horrendous experience (that I'll discuss later here) in the 3pm Bounty tourney (after a ridiculous beat in the noon tourney that day) I sauntered off to my room. Along the way I was reminded of a good amount of comp dollars that I'd built up on my players card while there that needed to get burned through, so I sat and made them all vanish, enjoying some sushi at The Wok in the lobby of the casino. I was planning on playing the 7pm tourney...and trying to run my streak to five final tables (with a 1st, 3rd, 3rd and 8th) in nightly's while in St Louis. But I got to my room...was met by BJ McBrayer, who'd just experienced yet another idiotic beat of his own...and the more we sat and talked about the week, and that day, the more it just seemed like a good idea to let sleeping dogs lie...if that cliche applies. I changed into my bedtime clothes and called it a night. We sat through a 3-hour marathon of Family Feud...and then all of a sudden BJ got hungry, and was wanting to go to a place 3 blocks away that I'd heard a lot about but failed to get out to see....Joey B's.

The view from our more-than-spacious room at Lumiere Place in STL

I guess I didn't realize it had become a dealer hangout...because when we walked in it was about all I saw. It turned out to be a really nice evening..and I  discovered what everyone was raving about...telling me I simply HAD to experience 'toasted ravioli' while in St Louis. Well I did...and also enjoyed the best pulled pork sandwich I'd ever laid my teeth in to. In fact, they were SO good...that before my shuttle arrived to take me to the airport the next day, I schlepped on over there to get the same thing to go...and ate it on my way to the airport. The bartenders were great, and friendly...and I had a really nice time talking to dealers and some players before calling it a night. In addition to that...on the walk over with Chris Conrad and BJ...we got a little side-tracked, and got to see a really cool part of St. Louis...where the streets were made of brick...or maybe they call it cobblestone? There was still a ton of snow on the ground from the day before, making it a really neat, almost movie-like setting. Some people hate the cold and snow...I love it, and think it has a very nostalgic, almost romantic feel to it.

A late night journey with my roomie BJ McBrayer from some grub at Joey B's
So I said my goodbyes and headed back over to the casino. Like a moth attracted to the light...I decided I needed some kind of 'fix' before heading home. Would it be the blackjack table...where I'd had unprecedented success on this trip? Or might I find a poker table that drew me in? I walk in to the poker room and find it dead as a doornail. Three tables. One of the floor guys informed me this a 'typical Sunday night when the WSOP isn't here.' Yeah I'd heard the place was pretty dead most of the time. Two tables were full...a 1/3 and a 2/5. So those were out. Then I see a 1/2/5 PLO game with 3 players. Hmmmm.....why not!??

I buy the table max ($1000) and take a seat. As I'm sitting the old guy in the 10-seat is racking up. So it remains 3-handed. I would play TWO hands at this table...and stay for 5 minutes. On hand #1...it's raised to pot...and since I have junk, I ditch my hand. They are heads up. The flop comes 6h-7h-8h. One guy has a set of 7's. The other guy has 4h-5h. I think you see where this one is headed! Especially when the turn is a 7, giving the guy quads! Which still doesn't beat a straight flush. Oh...and NO! They didn't have a badbeat jackpot at this place for Omaha. Great. The hand left the very large man to my right...with the quad 7's, in a very sour mood. So it wasn't a surprise when on the next hand he potted it preflop. I had 4-5-K-J double suited so decided to take a look for $40.

I flop the nuts...3-6-7...which is nice, but which most of us know rarely ever holds up in Omaha. There were also two rather precarious clubs out there...of which I had none. The big guy pots immediately. I just call..preferring to see the turn card before doing anything I can't get myself out of. The third player (still stacking his chips!) folds. The turn is harmless (not a club) and when Gigantasaurus Rex pots again, I re-potted it...only to have him put me all in, while saying "If I can't win this hand, I'm quitting poker!" Yeah he had AA67 with two clubs. So he had, indeed, a lot of outs. And if St. Louis was going to be it's typical self, he would hit one of them on the river. But shockingly, he didn't. I couldn't believe it. And after he claimed to be "out of here" after that hand...I did the same, not about to sit and play heads up. So for those scoring at home...that's a $1000 profit in 5 minutes, or $200 per minute. Not bad. Thank you and good night, St. Louis!!!!

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I know I know...there is a large contingency of you out there who are dying to see the rip job I'm about to lay on certain players. It's coming. But first, here's a real head scratcher. Can someone...anyone...tell me how SO many GOOD players made it deep in the Main Event....but not ONE of them managed to make the final table? Nothing but locals. It defies poker logic. And just gives anyone who prides themselves as a 'good poker player' more reasons to stay as far away from the St. Louis poker area. You almost have to come away from it thinking there is some form of witch craft at work for such an anomaly to occur.

I'm not sure how I managed to fade so many of these fools the first four days I was in St. Louis. It boggles my mind. Because with each payout...or each winning cash session...I knew in the pit of my stomach that disaster (and normalcy for that place) had to be looming just around the corner in whatever I chose to participate in next.

There is this 'thing' about poker that serves as a bit of a security blanket. You pick your friends very carefully when you choose the poker lifestyle. For me? I like to surround myself with those who don't like to gather in strange  places and play Open Face Poker at all hours. Or talk about poker until they are blue in the face. Or roll around with backpacks in the same change of clothes for days on end, while smelling like the ounce of pot they've been smoking all week. I also like to associate with people who basically share my philosophy of how poker is played. Now sure, I get that there are times in every game where we might play a hand slightly different. And that's to be expected. But I don't want to hear about how 'he ripped 45 big blinds with 10-4 off suit in an attempted 5-bet re-re-re-steal, and got caught by the original raiser with KK calling, but sucking out with two pair.' Not only am I sick of hearing the expression 'ripped' which for those of you not 'in the know' is another, hipper (apparently) way of saying 'moved all in.' But I'm even more sick of hearing and seeing the ways in which poker is under attack by those who have made the decision to bastardize what once was a grand game, played by those who play a very patient, plodding, strategic brand of poker.

Nope, these guys are the equivalent of tightrope walkers...who see poker as a place they can go to test the limits, to seek out their 'rush' against those mortals who are playing the game as prescribed by the innovators of the game. Because anyone with the ability to use the millions of hands they've played in the last 10 years can tell you, whenever ALL FIVE CARDS come out on that board...anything can happen. And it almost always seems that the 'anything' I speak of is an epic disaster.

And nowhere on the Planet Poker is this more on display than in the area code of 314 and its surrounding area. Now, as most of you know...I am not one to sit here in my blog and document individual hand play. Why? Because it's boring. Unless you are a big fan of Jonathan Little and his style of writing, in which case...I'm not for you, and I don't even know what the hell you are doing over here.

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The Lead Up to Sunday's Final Shit Storm

There is no doubt that my ultimate punch in the face, kick in the groin, and taser to the face came in Sunday's final event...the $250 Black Bounty Chip event...in which the participants primarily played as though they'd been given $1000 each by some stranger in the parking lot and told in a very stern voice to NOT COME BACK with any of this $1000 remaining in your pocket! That or they all had a money tree in their back yard...which, as a poker player...you have to admit, would be awesome!

In reading over my notes...I just can't see how any individual hand is going to shock and amaze. Its like the way any good joke or story goes, where the person telling it, noticing that the crowd isn't as blown away as they'd hoped or expected them to be is left delivering that famous disclaimer "I guess you had to be there."

One hand to start off this parade of pain:

Blinds at 100/200. Guy limps with K10off. Fair enough. Another overly aggressive, late-position raiser, makes it 550. I'm in the big blind with Qc10c and call. This guy calls also. The flop comes Kc-Jh-5c. Pretty damn good flop for me...and as I usually do in spots like this, I check with the intent to raise. K-10 guy bets 1500. The original raiser calls...with who-knows-what? And since I had just 6200 in my stack...it seems the correct play is to push all in with my 17 outs. I do. K10 guy doesn't even hesitate to call. And not shockingly he holds. Busto. (oh and no! He did not have a big stack...he only had me covered by about 800)

Here I was in the event after busting out of the main. I get priced in to a raise of 900 at 150/300 in the BB with 5c7c and 5 callers. I was sitting with about 14k in my stack. The flop comes K-6-8 with two clubs. Another pretty damn good flop. It checks to the raiser who makes it 2300. The old guy who for years I've been calling George Seiffert, (for you youngsters, Seiffert was the one time coach of the 49'ers) and who I know plays crazy hands in weird positions, makes it 5000...and now I know my hopes to play this hand without being all in just became a pipe dream. And there is no way I am ever folding this hand, especially in a $365 event. Ever. I shove all in for my 14k. The original raiser was gone in a heartbeat. And Seiffert moans...then calls and tells me I'm way ahead but hopes he can 'shit out' on me. Well...shit out he did. Turns out...I didn't even need to hit. He was sitting there with 2c3c. The only outs he had were a two and a three...and hope that I not hit one of 17 outs. Both of those things happened, him pulling a 3 on the river...to eliminate me. 

This will conclude PART 1 of this Blog...for two reasons, (a) my blogs tend to get a little long and I don't want to lose ya and (b) I need to drive to the Pensacola tag office to finally get my tag/title  for my new car that I've had now for over two months.

Monk

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