The HORSE You Rode In On

Thursday, March 10th, 2005, 1:10 pm

There’s actually a bar in Baltimore’s Fells Point called The Horse You Rode In On. Had a good time there once. Actually, my friend Rico picked up a FANTABULOUS blonde that night, while I was picked on for wearing a plaid shirt (I know, how DARE I?). So maybe it wasn’t that great a night after all. Not the bar’s fault.

Looking forward to the WPBT HORSE event Sunday night. Need to pick up some points, move up in the standings. Not that there’s much hope of that, as I still don’t think I know the rules of Eight or Better. A question–if you play the Hammer in Razz, are you still allowed to crow and grandstand? I would think not.

Just some random ramblings today. My blog traffic has plateaued lately, and I’ve been trying to think up ways to kick up my readership. Well, what better way than by pandering to the most base instincts of the Internet masses? So I’m in the middle of writing a ludicrous 3,000 or so word thing about the nature of feminine beauty. And sex. And poker. Sex and poker. Poker and sex. There, that alone should get me about 100 hits a day from Google. I think I’ll post it Monday, I should be done by then and be able to double-check it to ensure I don’t libel anyone. Its going to be total nonsense, trust me.

I was impressed that I worked on it for like an hour yesterday and not once did the name “Isabelle Mercier” appear. The therapy IS working. But…do I really want it to work…?

Of course I watched the WPT last night and saw Doyle Brunson serve notice that poker is not yet soley the preserve of math geeks and twentysomethings. Sadly, Lee Watkinson played out the same script he did the previous week–absolutely brilliant play until it got to heads up. And then one bad hand that turned the tide for good. His call against Pete…Pete…sorry Pete, I’ve forgotten your last name at the moment (Nelson?) was incredible. Q-6 against J-6 and the sixes making 2nd pair, and he calls the all-in. First class.

It seems that the way to beat Watkinson is to get heads up against him. Easier said than done, I suppose. But Lee lost to Brunson, to Eli Elezra, and inexplicably to Ted Lawson for the WSOP Pot-Limit Omaha title. Lawson of course is the gentleman who thought he had a straight during one all-in hand, forgetting that he could only use 2 of his hole cards. Perhaps a understandable mistake under such pressure…but watch the rest of the show and I’ll let you decide how forgivable it was. Pretty tough to win after giving away a ton of chips on a hand you would’ve mucked in a heartbet, but Lawson pulled it off. Somehow. Sometimes the cards just won’t let you lose, no matter how hard you try.

Nice to see Joe Awada, one of the stars of the 2004 WSOP coverage, on the tube again. Though we didn’t see him for long, and in fact the hand he went out on was rather remarkable. Watkinson flopped trip nines but with 3 hearts on the board he checked. The turn paired a seven on the flop, and a deuce on the river gave Awada a lower full house. Watkinson bet, and the chatty Awada said something I don’t recall and went all-in. The crowd went nuts, cheering and making all sorts of noise, and probably missed Watkinson leaping up to flip over his nines. Awada looked like he’d been hit in the face with a frying pan, and walked away from the table even as the crowd still cheered his play.

Paul Phillipscommented on his blog that he was concerned he’d look like a fool during the broadcast, but it turned out his fears were unfounded. After Brunson doubled up and they were stacking chips, Phillips came out of the crowd to show Watkinson a copy of one of Brunson’s books, to, you know, give him some tips on how to beat Texas Dolly. Watkinson smiled at it, Mike and Vince seemed to think it was funny, and the show went on.

One thing the WPT is doing this year that they should change right away are the promos for the next week’s show. You see Brunson sitting at the table, and a voice imitating him says, “Son, when I was your age I was brash too”, and then a voice supposed to be Nelson (is it Nelson?) says, “When you were my age, these cards were made out of stone”. First of all, this is a stupid idea, putting words into players’ mouths. Second, the things they have people say are stupid and/or banal. This needs to stop. In next weeks show we hear Daniel Negreanu “saying”, “Hmm…why did he put his sunglasses on…he must have a full house”, and then Phil Ivey says, “What’s this guy hiding…”, and then we hear Josh Arieh say, “Wow, Shana looks really hot in that red dress!”. I’m sure Arieh just LOVED that. Beyond that fact that Mrs. Arieh might not be amused, her husband was pilloried for his at-times boorish behavior during his run at the 2004 WSOP, and I’m betting he uses his WPT appearance to try to rehabilitate his image a bit. That promo isn’t going to help him.

I did not play poker during the WPT, both because I was writing and because I was punishing myself for what happened the night before. As poorly as an SNG can be played, is how I played one the other night. After nearly doubling up early on I committed every poker faux pas there is. If we learn best from our mistakes, then I should be awarded a goddam Ph.D after this one.

Down to four-handed I was in a short but still comfortable chip position. One guy was on life support, the other two had me by about 2.5-1. I had my opponents pretty well pegged. The one guy was a calling station so passive he might have been hooked up to a Quaalude drip. He doubled up twice by flopping monsters, and then he disconnected his FOLD and RAISE buttons. How’s this for a Hellmuthian laydown–there was one guy who lost a race and was down to $70 in chips. He had to pay the $25 small blind, and after it was folded around to him he went all-in. Mr. Passive, sitting in the BB, only had to put in $20 more to call. He had over $6K. He folded. Let me repeat that, HE FOLDED. I typed, “Dude, I’d call that if I was dealt a deuce and a Taco Bell coupon”. No response.

The other guy was aggressive with his chips, re-raising every bet I made. Since I didn’t have big hands nor many chips, I knew that all I had to tighten up, wait for a big hand, bet, then come over the top. This guy too liked to call big bets, so pretty much all I had to do was hang in there, get a hand, and double up.

Why I failed to do this puzzles me. One of the cardinal rules of poker is that you should never bluff a terrible player, because the terrible player isn’t good enough to respect the move. I played a hand with Mr. Passive with AJ, the flop came K-Q-6 with 2 spades. He checked, I bet, he called. Another spade came on the turn. I had the ace of spades, so I made a nice chewy bet hoping to take it right there. Nope, he called. The next card was a 9. He checked. Now, ace high might be good. Despite his somnambulent play I figured he probably didn’t have a king or queen. There are flush and straight draws and overcards on the board. I decided that I couldn’t just leave all that money out there and let A-6 take the pot. I bet like $500. He called…with 9-10. He’d been drawing to the inside straight, hit 3rd pair on the river, and called me down. “Nice call” I seethed politely and resolved to play tight and smart.

Which I didn’t do. I gave away about 1/2 my remaining stack to the other guy by betting out, getting re-raised, and folding. I forgot the “Mean” in “Mean Gene”. The shortstack guy doubled up, then doubled up again when a flop came A-A-3 and Mr. Passive called with K-3. That wasn’t good with the shortstack holding an ace.

So now I’m in danger of bubbling. I win a few tiny pots, then go out when I flop top pair, make a big bet, and get that bet called by the now-shortstacked Mr. Passive and put all-in by the former low guy. Well, crap. I would’ve had $600 left, I was obviously outkicked at best, but I called. And Mr. Passive folded. Turns out I’d been check-raised by a set and was drawing dead. Here’s what galled me–had I folded, I think Mr. Passive might have called. And I would’ve been in the money. D-U-M.

An absolutely ghastly display on my part. Like watching the Cleveland Browns try to play football. I took a few deep breaths, chalked it up to a trough in my biorhythms, and forgot about it. Until now, of course.

OK, that’s all for now. Oh, like everyone else I did my “South Park” character, and then forgot to save the damn thing as a JPEG. So I couldn’t get it to work on my computer at home and I don’t have the programgs to convert it here at work. Totally computer illiterate, am I.

My buddies are hitting Vegas even as I type. Bastards. Well, I’m sure I’ll have more fun playing pickup volleyball tonight than they could have in boring old Sin City. And I’ll be drinking beer afterwards! The party never ends for Mean Gene!

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