Libel! Slander! Calumnia!

Thursday, January 29th, 2004, 4:41 pm

Yes, we lucky few, we Band of Brothers (and Sisters) are featured on PokerSavvy.com, and if you’re reading this you should check it out and understand the cultural phenomenon that is the pokerblog. My only complaints are that the quote they pulled from my blog is about their Bad-Beat-O-Meter and how I was allegedly “confounded” by it (a slur against my reputation–my lawyers have been contacted) and that PokerGrub is “easily” the most humorous poker blogger. I take issue with that, as all I have to offer are yuks and giggles (I certainly have no meaningful poker insights to share) and while I admit (note–never “admit” anything. Use the word “state”. Your lawyers) the Grub is a funny guy it’s the word “easily” that sticks in my craw. To remedy the situation, and also to show that he’s not the only playwright out there in the pokerblogosphere, I will soon be publishing a play of my own–a revision of Hamlet, with Phil Hellmuth as the lead. I mentioned such a fantasy in a previous post and I ran with it. I know that I promised a different Phil Hellmuth post and I will bring it to completion, but when the Muse strikes one must obey.

I don’t mean to hack on PokerGrub, of course, and heartily recommend his site. I’m not at all envious that he has a play opening, not at all. As the Grub could tell you better than anyone, envy and jealousy and schadenfreude are emotions totally foreign to the writing game.

OK, what was I going to write about today? Ah, yes. I’ve not mentioned this for awhile because I didn’t want to jinx myself, but if you become a slave to superstition you’re soon wearing the same underwear day after day and eating with the same spoon and refraining from washing an all sorts of unhygenic practices. Let me explain–I’m on a totally wicked rush right now. Lady Luck has snuggled up close (probably in the disguise of our new kitten) and is treating me right. Two weeks ago I was down to $40 in my bankroll. I was absorbing bad beats like a club fighter. Things looked bleak, as I’d promised myself that if I went belly-up, that would end my career as a semi-semi-semi-pro poker player.

Two weeks later and I have over $200 in my account, and that doesn’t even include a $100 cashout I made. I feel the need to split my largesse with the wife, I think that’s good karma, but I still have over $200 to play with. $75 of that came from my switch to Empire and a bonus for referring my brother, but the rest came from my play, which has been alternately very good and very, very lucky.

I keep getting cards, keep hitting flops, keep filling out hands. What’s more, I’ve come to expect these things as normal. A few weeks ago I thought I’d never hit a flush again, and then I hit three flushes on three consecutive hands. I had a straight flush when another guy had a full house. I had quads when one player had a full house and another pocket aces. I joined a table and won 3 consecutive hands, holding AA, AK, and QQ. Four people left right after my 3rd win, and I cackled like a maniac.

I’ve also been playing $5 SNGs, and I’ve placed in my last 6 or 7, winning twice. Both times when I won I hit HUGE suckouts to stay alive. Last night I went all-in with A-Q after the flop came A-K-Q. The turn came J, the river 10. A straight, big deal, I already had 2 pair. Except that the other guy had KK. Wow. Another time I did almost the exact same thing, I held A-J and the flop came J-10-4. I went all-in, was called, and the next 2 cards were a king and a queen. I relaxed when the last card showed, fearing I was beaten by an overcard, and saw the other guy turn over JJ. He had me totally dead, but I was not to be defeated.

I thought last night my luck had run out, getting nailed on 3 consecutive hands when I had a pair of aces and a good kicker after the flop. But I won a few more hands to get up $10, played a SNG, and won. I’m so hot right now I should be wearing asbestos boxer shorts.

This will end, of course. I’ll have a losing session, I know. The fact that I’ve been waiting for two weeks has me a little antsy. Of course you go crazy when you’re on a killer losing streak–believe me, I know–but you also get a little crazy when you’re flaming hot. I keep waiting to for the other shoe to drop, and the waiting is getting to me a little bit. I’m not HOPING to lose, mind you. I’ve had my fair share of tough luck. But even though I think I’ve definitely improved my play, I’d have about $60 less in my account if I hadn’t gotten massively lucky a few times. I wonder if I haven’t overdrawn my karmic bank account, and I’ve tried to take steps to keep the poker gods on my side. When I put those massive beats on those two players I apologized and admitted I got lucky. I witnessed another beat like that during an SNG the other night and the winning player typed “YES! THERE IS A GOD!”. Poor form, that. God, one would hope, has more important things to worry about than whether you make a flush in a $5 game. Especially when I’m not in the hand.

Beyond luck, I think I see a few reasons for my improved play. Part of it is that I’ve, uh, improved my play. Like that creepy kid in those IBM Linux commericals (they give me the willies), I’m learning, I’m learning. I’m playing better, and that results in more money in my pocket.

I think playing two tables at once has also helped. I’m playing more hands, and since I think I’m better than the silvery schools of fish who populate the tables my overall EV goes up. I’m also playing tighter and smarter, because I’m not waiting two hours for a playable hand. And, oddly, I think playing two tables has helped focus my attention more on the game than the TV, the news, or whether my big cats have had enough and are going to do a hospital job on the kitten.

I think the new robustness of my bankroll has helped too. Reading about Chris Halverson’s all-too-familar struggles made me think of my own recent dark times, and the advice he receive from Iggy–don’t think about the money– is both wise and hard to pull off. When you’re one or two bad sessions from Tap City its hard not to be gunshy. Nervous play begets bad play, which begets more nervousness, which begets…you get the point.

Now that I’ve plumped out my purse, I’m not playing scared. I know that I can have a bad run and still be OK, because I’m playing low enough limits that I’ll survive it. When I cracked the $200 I thought it was time to move up to the $1/$2 tables, but I really felt uncomfortable playing at those altitudes. I was intimidated, even at these modest limits, and I wasn’t comfortable playing the tight-aggressive game I’ve been taught. I bailed and went back to my usual $.50/$1 game, and felt like that’s where I belong. Maybe someday I’ll bump up to higher limits, but not right now. I’ll let my guts decide when it’s time to play a bigger game, not my bankroll.

It’s funny, as I read the PokerSavvy article, I realized that I probably couldn’t tell you the limits most folks play at. I know Iggy has returned to the grind from the glamourous world of multi-limit tournaments, but I don’t remember if he plays $.50/$1 or more. I know Chris plays my limit, but for the other bloggers I’m not really sure. And I don’t really care too much. I find it interesting to read about folks playing bigger games, to be sure, but I wouldn’t necessarily pick one blog over another because of the dollar amounts involved. It’s the game that’s fun. The game and talking about it, talking about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Especially the good.

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