The morning after

Monday, February 23rd, 2004, 12:20 pm

Ever wake up, and you’ve been having a fantastic dream, and for just a moment the dream is still real to you…and then you realize that it’s Monday morning, you aren’t a superhero with antigravity boots, and you gotta get to work in 40 minutes? Well, I woke up this morning imagining that I’d actually won the tournament last night, and then I realized that it’d all been a dream…and then it hit me that it WASN’T a dream! I really did win last night!

And, uh, it was also Monday morning and I had to be at work in 40 minutes. So it wasn’t all dancing sugar plums.

So let’s talk about what happened last night. Like everyone else, I thought that Grubby came up with this tournament idea because he’s in deep to the shylocks and needed to come up with a few hundred to quiet them. So he spent an afternoon furiously programming and put up a site called Choice Poker (as in, “You gotta choice, Grub. You pay us the money youse owe, or we take your thumbs). That’s the only explanation I had for the site, since there was never anyone else playing there. I figured Grubby stacked the deck so he would win, Grubette would take second, and four mysterious and never-heard-from-before bloggers would also place. I didn’t mind–it would still be a good time, and I’m willing to contribute twenty bucks if it’ll preserve Grubby’s ability to turn doorknobs.

I won a quick hand to give my confidence a boost, and then what I most feared happened–my computer locked up. It does this now like once a day, but it’d been a good laptop lately and I thought I’d be OK. No such luck. Had to shut down, reboot, wait for the thing to check itself for errors…my computer is 5 1/2 years old, a robust 233Mhz, and I feared the tourney would be over by the time it rebooted. But I got back to the table and found my chip count was still above average. Maybe Phil Hellmuth’s ploy of not showing up on time has some merit…nah, if it’s Phil it’s gotta be a bad move.

My fears about a fix were strengthened by the fact that Grubby raced out to a big chip lead. After having a number of big hands and big flops (had AK and flopped top two pair, had J-5 in the big blind and had the flop come J-5-6) the cards went cold on me and I tread water for awhile. The blinds were still low enough that I didn’t feel compelled to make a move just for its own sake, and I surrendered my blinds like 3 times in a row, which got my teeth to gnashing. The one time I tried to steal my ownself I raised The Fat Guy with 9-7 and had him re-raise me big. I wasn’t going all-in with that junk so I had to bow down. Already he was throwing his Texas-sized weight around and bossing the table, a portent of things to come.

I don’t know if anyone got a hand history sent to them, but I haven’t yet, so I can’t give you much detail on individual hands. But a few stick in my mind. Well, of course the most notable hand of the night was Love&Casino cracking Up for Poker’s pocket aces with the Hammer. I mean, you want to talk about a brutal, brutal beat, there you go. Getting knocked out that way would have me putting my name on the waiting list for an AK-47.

A few of my own hands stick in my mind. I knocked someone out (I’m sorry, I’ll double check for this later) when I had pocket nines, made trips on the flop and a full house when 2 Kings appeared and my foe turned over A-9. I went all-in with KJ and a brace of jacks appeared on the flop and turn. I was dealt AK and was prepared to go to war, but there was a raise and a re-raise ahead of me and I stepped aside to let the other kids play. AQ ended up winning the pot I could’ve had (and knocked out 2 people in one stroke), but I remember hearing Howard Lederer say that you can’t win a poker tournament if you can’t learn how to fold AK, so I followed the Professor’s sage advice.

Mean Gene > Howard Lederer. Ha!

When Grubette got knocked out I was surprised, because this put a dent in my “this is fixed” theory. And when the Grub himself was liquidated in 5th place I got nervous, because this was really a tournament, the winner wasn’t preordained! I was also pleased to see that Felicia and Royal and several other fearsome heavy hitters weren’t there. But I was in 3rd chip position, but the blinds were so high that waiting for Anistropy to finally go belly up wasn’t a good idea. Especially when Sean so selfishly refused to lose–it seemed like he went all-in 3 times and came thru every time. I cursed his name, especially when he won a hand and put me in bottom chip position.

Quite a few people bitched that the blinds went up way too fast, and I concur. I didn’t even realize how high they were until I had about $3500 and was feeling pretty comfortable until I realized the blinds were like 800-1200 and I was in deep trouble unless I either got some cards or started stealing. And since I didn’t get the former, I did the latter. Three or four times I managed to grab pots without showing my substandard hands, and this kept me afloat until I did catch a hand. I think I knocked Sean out, I don’t remember how the hand went, though. That gave me a lot of confidence (and chips) because my attitude in SNGs too often is just try to hang on and see if I can get in the money or heads-up, and that ain’t the way to play. The best way to reduce the number of players is take them out yourself, and I resolved to stay aggressive and, as Evelyn Ng advised us, “make moves”.

Mean Gene > Gus Hansen. Double ha!

The biggest move I made came when I was heads up with TFG. Just about everyone was rooting for Scott, which makes sense, as he is THE Fat Guy and I am merely A fat guy. I was dealt the Hammer, and felt karmically kompelled to play it. I raised and I think was re-raised. I had to call, both from my sense of honor and because I was pretty much committed chipwise. A ragged flop, and I made a big bet. I don’t even remember if I went all-in, I was so focused on projecting foldwaves to Texas. It worked, I got the pot, but I didn’t have the show cards feature to prove my move. I typed that I’d had the Hammer but regretted it instantly, since it reeked of showboating and bad manners. It broke my concentration for a few hands, but I was still up a few thousand when we played the final hand. I was dealt pocket 10s in the small blind and thought about slow-playing them–for about a nanosecond. I raised, and when TFG re-raised I girded my loins and went all-in. When he called I felt pretty good about my 10s–and then a king and a jack appeared on the flop and it was my stomach flopping around. I couldn’t see TFG’s cards, and when the river appeared I waited to see him turn over KQ and the table tilt as all the chips slid his way. Instead a note popped up saying the tournament was over, and. indeed, it was.

I did the dance of joy, pumped my fists, frightened my cats, who probably thought I was having a seizure. The kitten ran upstais, doubtless to warn my wife that the big guy had finally lost it and it was time to lock him up in the garage. I wanted to talk to SOMEONE, but Choice shut the whole thing down and there was no one to commisserate with. I woke up the wife with the news, and called my brother, who’d been watching the whole thing. He didn’t know what cards we held on the final hand, and until I heard from Scott I didn’t know that he’d held A-6. Hard to toss away an ace heads-up, especially with the blinds as onerous as they were.

Afterwards I had a tasty beer (Great Lakes Brewery in Cleveland make some primo suds) and enjoyed the adrenaline crash. I didn’t feel too keyed up during the game, but afterwards I was buzzing pretty good. I can’t imagine what it’s like to play in the WSOP, where you have to endure that pressure for 12 hours a day for 4 (and this year, 7) days in a row. It must frazzle the nerves something fierce, even for an old poker warhorse. But I liked the action, liked the buzz. Looking forward to March 10th, especially because as the winner I get an automatic entry into next WPBT event. Actually, is it WBT or WPBT. Need an official ruling on this. Anyway, as Mike Sexton would say, poker players love a freeroll, so I’ll be there on the 10th–no doubt facing a field of bloggers bent on vengeance.

Victory is sweet. Gave Grubby my address so the chips and other goodies can be mailed to me. Unless this was a scam all along and his crack team of burglers are this moment looting my homestead. The chips are way cool, gonna get a regular home game started and we needed a good chip set, and the ones I’m getting look cool.

Thanks to all for the congratulations. Of course I wasn’t upset that most were rooting for Scott–actually, I was so focused on the game I didn’t read much of the chat. And I promise to update my links today or tonight! Been meaning to do that for awhile but have been just too lazy. Gotta keep up with the burgeoning poker blogosphere.

The cash will help my Presidential campaign immensely. While I still trail Bush and Kerry and Edwards in fundraising, I do have more money at this point than Ralph Nader. I can probably afford at least one network TV ad now, but only on the WB. I’d probably be better off passing out handbills in front of the Greyhound station.

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