If I had a hammer…I’d knock out Pauly

Monday, March 29th, 2004, 7:56 pm

Last night I either proved that my Grublog win was no fluke, that we pokerbloggers ain’t exactly no-limit savants, or that lightning sometimes does strike twice in the same place. I finished third last night in Felicia’s first PJK event, and it was a blast. I played some fantastic poker–except for the times I got ridiculously lucky and the times I made boneheaded plays.

The game got off with bang–a big bang–when Felicia went all in on Gpoker on the first hand. Of course I figured he’d capitulate in the face of Felicia ferocity, but no, he called and turned up pocket aces to her pocket queens. Just like that the organizer and driving force behind the whole shindig was out. Felicia handled her loss far better than I would have (she didn’t burst into tears and scream for her Mommy) and she provided encouragment and play-by-play the rest of the way.

There is a big difference, I’ve now discovered, between playing with “good” players and the fishy feeding frenzy at PartyPoker. Several times I had good starting hands, raised the blinds, and won the pot right then and there. I was happy to do so–in fact, a few times that’s exactly what I wanted. Stealing blinds is a skill all good players develop, and one I don’t get much chance to work on because its virtually impossible to shake the fish from their hands. You go all in with AA and you get a couple of yutzes holding J-9 and K-10 who think think this is their chance to double up. But last night I was aggressive in late position and picked up some little pots that let me be more aggressive later on.

By “more aggressive” read “totally insane”. I had about $3500 and was cruising along when I was dealt the Hammer. The action was folded around to me and I limped in, and I mean limped. Now, I had Pauly next to me, and he was down to about $800, and I just KNEW he’d go all in. Of course he did, but I figured that it was worth the kick just to maybe double him up with the Hammer, and maybe, just maybe, even take him out.

Genius me didn’t even notice that Rick Blaine was still in, making my play really, really stupid. But before I could really beat myself up a magical flop appeared: 2-7-A. Two pair and suddenly I was a genius. Ugarte bet into me, and not wanting to give him a chance to catch another card (and hoping that he would fold so I wouldn’t crack him with such a savage beat) I went all-in. He thought about it, thought about it…and called. He had AQ, Pauly had A8, and two cards later the Hammer had once again dealt a mighty blow to poker sanity.

There was general bedlam in the chat, of course. Two Noo Yawkers taken out by The Pittsburgh Kid, showing the Big Apple boys how we do things dahntahn. I didn’t gloat because I saw clouds gathering in the distance, the Poker Gods ready to hurl some bad beats if I reveled in my win a bit too much. Winning that hand gave me about $6500 in chips, and I decided that now was the time to tighten up and see how things played out down the stretch.

For awhile I thought my table was the final table, and when we got to five I thought I had a good chance to place…until there was one of those time-distortion moments and ten of us were gathered around a newly-formed table. I was between EOS and GPoker, not the best place to be, I soon learned. There was one additional factor to deal with–EOS’s avatar was a very shapely woman, and even tho I knew EOS, in fact, WASN’T a woman shapely or otherwise still didn’t keep me from thinking that I had a hot chick on my right. And dammit if my male-chauvinist/chivalric tendencies didn’t rise to the surface from time to time. When I won a hand I felt a twinge of guilt. When I lost I found myself mouthing the words, “You BITCH!”. As the players dwindled away I tried to force myself to focus on the game and not the computer-generated characters representing us.

Focus came hard because I’d drunk two 20-ounce bottles of water and I had to answer nature’s call. A call that grew more and more insistent by the minute. I could have just stepped away and done what needed to be done, but of course I’d come back to my seat just in time to see myself auto-folding pocket aces. I hung in there until the break–when there were only 3 of us left. I excused myself a few blissful moments, and returned to the fray refreshed and ready to rumble.

I was out about 5 hands later. At one point before the break I was the chip leader, but I made 2 horrible plays almost in a row. I was dealt J-6 in the big blind and saw the flop come something like J-8-2. I bet, but not too much, say 2500. EOS put me all-in, and I had to fold. Like 2 hands later I’m dealt K-6 of clubs and the flop comes K-rag-rag. I bet about 3000…and EOS puts me all in. How the hell do I call an all-in bet with that kicker? More to the point, how do I bet it in the first place. Check, or put the guy all-in. Make HIM decide, not you.

My last hand came when I still had about $8000 in chips, enough to last a bit with the blinds $300-600. I was dealt the mighty 8-4 offsuit. The flop came 9-4-2, and this time it was EOS who made what I thought was a timid $3000 bet. There was about $5000 in the pot and I went all-in, figuring to win the whole thing. Uh, no. He called, a 9 and a Q fell, and he turned over Q9 to make the full house that crushed my fours and nines.

I was furious at myself for such a string of terrible plays. I never felt comfortable when we got 3-handed, mostly because EOS kept bashing me, and my response was to tighten up instead of bashing back. I did steal some blinds and won a few pots, but I wasn’t too pleased with how I frittered away my chips. I got bullied, and it didn’t sit well with me. Still doesn’t.

GPoker came back from a big deficit and finally won the whole thing when his K-high flush beat EOS’s Q-high. It was a blast, and I look forward to playing next week. I’m sure Pauly and Ugarte are gonna spend the next week thinking up elaborate ways to break me next Sunday night. Well, bring it on, I say. That’s why this Gene is called Mean.

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