Big Stack Bully; or, The Joy of the Suckout

Saturday, February 5th, 2005, 10:23 pm

After failing to place in the first 219 SNGs I tried at Stars I’ve cashed back to back, winning once and taking second in one just now. In the first I have to say that I played magnificiently, building up my chips with almost telepathic reads and laydowns until I was able to remorselessly beat my opponents into submission. Y’know, you don’t see Mean Gene making too many poker pronoucements, but let me now say something very profound. Are you paying attention? Good. Here it is–it’s a lot more fun to play with a big stack than a short stack. And it’s much easier to win when you have a lot of chips than when you have just a few. Man, really gotta block out some time and write a poker book.

Ah, how I enjoy making vapid statements of obvious fact in an arrogant fashion. Seriously, I had fun winning the thing. I was aggressive and tricky and when we got down to three neither guy was able to get his chips all-in against me until they were nearly down to their last kopper. The lesson I took away from my towering victory was that I have to be more aggressive when I don’t have a lot of chips, as that is the way you GET a lot of chips. It may not be a mistake to play tight early on, and to keep pots small if you don’t hold the nuts, but I tend to play WAY conservative and that often leads to below-par stacks as we approach the midgame.

So when I started playing this most recent SNG aggression was my watchword. Don’t be passive, make some moves. Well, I did that brilliantly–I gave away 1/2 my stack when I bet my TPTK against a jerk who hit his flush on the turn. Nice going, Geno.

Down to T550 and the blinds at 25-50 I decided to push all-in from the BB with AJ. Three limpers folded but the jerk who crippled me called and turned over AK. Great. Great move, Geno, real sharp. And then the flop comes K-K-7 meaning I am well and truly screwed. I actually got up out of my chair to go and get a glass of lemonade when the nine of spades fell on the turn, putting 3 spades on the board. Hey, do I have a spade? I do–and it’s the ace. Do I need to tell you what came on the river? I try not to tell bad beat stories, but on occasion I can’t help myself, and to atone I must confess on those occasions when I put horrific beats on others. The four of spade built my stack up to T1200 and I was back in business.

From there my aggression-meter dropped below “MORON” and settled just below “MANIAC”. I knocked out 3 players to get into the money but the 2nd place guy, the same one I’d been tussling with all night, knocked out bachelor #3 and he took the chip lead. We went back and forth a few hands, and then I was dealt Presto in the BB. He raised it, and I decided to push all-in and maybe change the tide. This guy had proven himself a solid, aggressive player, he had my respect, and even my sympathy after my runner-runner flush. He called, and turned over the jack and deuce of hearts. Jack-deuce? I heard Elix Peters’ voice in my head, “Jack-high. You called me with Jack-high?” At the time he only had about a 9-5 chip lead, so I cannot explain what possessed him to make such a horrible call. Of course he spiked a jack on the turn and took first prize, but I couldn’t be took upset about it, since I should’ve been on the rail 30 minutes ago.

If we get so upset when we suffer bad beats, should we not feel an equivelent sense of shame and/or empathy when we put them upon others? Whether we should or shouldn’t, we don’t, and that emotional disequilibrium interests me. You rarely hear a poker player described as “jolly” or “merry”, and I don’t think even the peppiest pokerblogger could be described as “gay”. Quite a few bloggers have written about why they play and why they blog, and I’ve been thinking it over myself. Especially at the stakes I play at, it ain’t the money. Is it worth all the irritation and self-doubt? I think this will have to wait for a separate post, but more and more I realize that the reason I play poker is because I like writing about it. The writing is driving the poker, not the other way around. Which, if you read my descriptions of my orangutany plays, is a good thing. I think this may have to be explored in a separate post. For now, back to the tables.

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