Oh, That’s Why I Play Poker

Saturday, June 26th, 2004, 2:52 pm

Last post I lamented my lack of results at the tables. I was caught in a deep variance trough that showed no signs of bottoming out. But things finally came ’round for me, as they always do, if you’re patient long enough. Patience is one of my virtues, but even I can be tested after about 2 months of inertia.

Not that I’m out of the woods, of course, because poker is one lifelong game and you’re never fully free of the forest. Still, a good result last night, even if things didn’t start out so good. Played Pot-Limit, and lost about $30 before rallying to even up. I even got up a few bucks before I lost a pot that was a soul-crusher. Had AK, raised it up, and along with three callers saw the flop come A-Q-2. Top pair, best kicker, but before I could even bet the pot was raised and then raised again. I felt compelled to call, especially since there was only 1 player left with any money in front of him and he only had $5 left. So if I called I could only lose $5 more.

Everyone is all-in, the next two cards are rags, and I turn up my AK and everyone else’s cards vanish. I can’t believe it. I just won a $50 pot, bringing me to almost even after the past hellish few days. Ah, no. For some reason the cards for the guy in front of me didn’t display, and all of a sudden his AQ appears and the chips go his way. A brutal beat thanks to technology. Ecch.

I managed to win back a few bucks, but I was still down when I decided to try another of Party’s $20 Multi SNG. I finished 8th in one, 22nd in another, and I figured my luck was bound to change. I got lousy cards the first two times, and the 2nd time I got knocked out by a guy who called my $700 all-in bet with Q-6 when I had pocket jacks and flopped a lady. So, once more into the fray.

I managed to win two small pots, but I was soon transferred to another table and found myself sitting to the left of the chip leader. Who went on a truly incredible tear. He raised the pot seven hands in a row and won every single one. Either no one called or he pushed everyone out on the flop. It was unreal, and for me uncomfortable, because I found myself mucking virtually every hand, including my blinds. No biggie, since I didn’t have much to play, and this may have actually helped me later on, because it reinforced my need to be patient.

My stack fell a few hundred below average when I was dealt AJ. I raised it, and everyone naturally ran away since I was tight as a drum. One caller, and the jack on the flop was the highest card. I bet, the other guy went all-in, and I called. He had KJ, and for the first time in these multis I had some chips.

Not that I did much with them. The guy to my left was raising nearly every pot, but on 2 occasions he surrendered the blinds to me, and I stole a few times to keep myself at the same chip level. The guy to me left crushed us, he absolutely crushed us. Not only did he boss us out of pot after pot, he knocked out like 8 other players with a combination of huge hands and killer suck-outs. Twice he knocked out players holding big pairs with AA. He rivered a queen that made his AQ best over AK. Twice he expunged shortstacks with bizarre drawing hands that filled in as the cards came down. It was something to see. The median stack was probably around $2500 and he had about $15K.

Top five places paid, and when we got down to six I was in 3rd chip position. No big honor that, since one bad call could put me out. I went all-in once with a shortstack and he wisely laid down to me, but I just couldn’t get a big hand or a big flop to get me in good shape. Then the short guys went all-in twice, and came thru with more chips than I had. The one time the guy caught his card on the river and I let out some kind of “NNNNYYYYYUUUOOOOOO!!” sound that got my cats running.

Around this time I realized that I’ll never be a top tournament player. My hands were shaking, I was swallowing about three times a second, and I was audibly praying for, “aces, c’mon, aces, even kings…”. These are what poker folks call “tells”. If your opponent breaks into tears after looking at his hole cards, they ain’t good.

I raised the pot with AJ, got called, and when the top card on the flop was a jack I went all-in and took the pot. This gave me some more room to breathe, and a few hands later the short guy got bounced by the chip master. I was in the money, a $38 profit at the minimum. Sweet.

I switched gears and became more aggressive, in part because I got some good cards, and stole the blinds the next two hands. Then I was dealt my favorite hand, pocket 10s, and raised it up. Both short-stacks went all-in, and since I’d still be alive even if I lost I called. One guy had aces, and my lucky hand wasn’t lucky enough. Still, I was now up to fourth place, and I still had more chips than the guy bringing up the rear. And then it was my turn to feel the wrath of the chip leader. I had AJ, raised all-in, and he called me with 6-9 offsuit. He flopped an open-end straight draw, but the six on the river was enough to total me. And out I went, $68 to the richer.

It was a blast. I can see me playing these multis a lot, especially in lieu of the usual 10-person gunfight SNG. Of course, if you play one and finish 6th you’ve wasted about 2 hours for nothing, but, hey, you gotta pay to play.

The good luck continues. I’m almost done working off my bonus requirements, and I’m up again today. Poker is a much easier game when you’re flopping sets and filling flushes. Sometimes you get the cards, sometimes you don’t. When you don’t you feel like how I felt the other night. When you do you feel like I do now. I have to get a little better at dealing with both adversity and success.

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One Response to “Oh, That’s Why I Play Poker”

  1. CJ Says:

    Glad the cards started falling for you. I’ve been in many a tournament rooting for those little stacks to get knocked out only to see them miraculously recover. It’s painful…

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