Bad Day at the Office

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008, 4:47 pm

Yeah, I jinxed myself.

Yesterday was bad. It took Rob Hollink 242 hands to win the $10K Limit Hold-Em bracelet yesterday and I recorded every single one of them (with a couple of exceptions where I was backed up and Matt took over). The good part about Limit is that there’s no confusion about bet sizes. They are, as you might expect, limited. There’s a set amount you bet, a set amount you can raise, a set amount of raises you can make. That’s nice. What’s not nice is that with no decisions about how much to bet, those bets happen a lot faster. You don’t have to gauge the pot size and tailor your wagers to the situation–you just grab the right number of chips and move them forward. And so we had rapid-fire action for the better part of eight hours, and me typing away as fast as possible to record it all and not get in the weeds. When they’re hiring reporters next year PokerNews should look for court stenographers instead of poker bloggers. They’ve got the flying fingers.

If you’ll allow the conceit, there are some similarities to live-blogging poker tournaments and working in a restaurant kitchen. In both, you are constantly seeking economy of motion. With time at such a premium, finding ways to save a single keystroke, a single click of the mouse button, can make a huge difference. Saying "The Kh turned" instead of "The Kh fell on the turn" can save your prosciutto when there’s a bet, raise, and reraise and the tournament director doesn’t give you the action.

Which happened a lot yesterday. Instead of announcing the action like this–"Rob raises…and Jerrod makes the call…the flop comes Ace of Spades, Queen of Diamonds, Six of Diamonds…Jerrod bets and Rob folds. Jerrod takes the pot." we got this–"There’s a bet…and the flop is the Queen-Six of diamonds and the Ace of spades…we have a bet, a raise…and that’ll take it".

When your head’s down over the computer andyou’re typing frantically the latter description doesn’t cut it. Especially with raises and reraises coming fast and furious it was extremely difficult to keep up. The final table was broadcast on ESPN360 and so we could follow along with their camera feed on the big plasma screens above the table, but you couldn’t always count on it. They’d cut away to interviews in the Amazon Room while play was going on, or they’d just miss stuff. One of the players at the final table was online superstar Brock Parker. Parker has a shaved head and a beard that looks like a hedgerow. Twice the graphics on the broadcast misidentified him, once as Rob Hollink, once as Jerrod Ankenman. Since the TD wasn’t always identifying players by name I wasn’t sure who won the one pot until I saw him stacking chips. And then the cards for the flop would come up so sloooowly that you’d think they were using some Gutenberg-era graphical program with movable type. There were times where I’d written my entire post before they had the turn or river cards displayed.  Yeesh.

Brock Parker. Fairly easy name to type. Jerrod Ankenman? Not so much, especially the last name. Cy Jassinowsky? Uh-uh. J.C. Tran? Those damned periods. My brain wanted to spell Tommy "Hand" instead of Tommy "Hang", Rob "Holling" instead of "Hollink". The PokerNews software doesn’t help with hand-for-hand updates, as you have to scroll down the past to get to the text box, you have to click a button to get the little card graphics to pop up, and click a check-box before you’re able to publish the post. Those little clicks add up, especially when you do them 250 times.

I had a feeling Hollink was going to win. On Day 1 of the event I took a stroll through the field and saw him playing…and I couldn’t remember his last name. I knew the face, knew he was one of the best players in Europe, knew he won a big EPT event, but I couldn’t come up with his last name. Some Googling put that right and I entered him in the chip counts. The first tally we got showed him way, way down, yet when the tournament ended he had all the chips. Tournament poker.

When we took our dinner break I wasn’t hungry, so I walked up to Rub BBQ and had a pint. As I walked away from the Amazon Room there was a hot, leggy blonde sitting on one of the small leather couches in the hallway. "Yikes," I said, then pressed on. When I returned a half-hour later she was still there, sitting  with her legs crossed, as if waiting for someone. As I passed by I looked her way, she looked at me, and her smile was so instantaneous I thought I heard an audible "click". I smiled back and kept on walking.

"Psst!" I heard someone behind me say. Then, "Sssssst! Ssssssssssssssssst!" I knew it was her, and I knew she was trying to get my attention. Was she a hooker? Almost certainly, and judging by the way she looked she was probably in considerable demand. Yet here she was, perhaps waiting for a client to be bounced from a satellite, trying to drum up additional business. I admired her industry almost as much as her silky blonde hair and richly tanned legs. But I kept on walking. Like her, I was on the clock.

We wrapped up around 11:30, I took some pictures (which I can’t be bothered to upload right now) and we headed home. I was hungry, having eaten yet another chicken-salad wrap around 4pm and nothing else, so we decided to change and head up to South Point. I’d get a bite, have a beer, play some poker.

Mistake.

What followed was the worst gambling loss of my life. I should’ve known things weren’t gonna go my way when every restaurant in the casino save the pricey steakhouse was closed. It was only a quarter to one. Their 24-hour cafe was undergoing a top-to-bottom cleaning (they had some kind of rotary gizmo on a scissor lift scrubbing the chandeliers) and it was closed. I was hungry. I wandered the entire joint looking for something to introduce to my stomach. I ended up settling for a Twix bar from the gift shop. They had these gruesome tuna sandwiches in plastic boxes, but I’ve eaten too much stuff like that of late. I ate the Twix and washed it down with a Sam Adams while I played some video poker. I lost $25 and headed to the poker room.

Where disaster awaited. I’d just gotten off from covering 8 hours of limit poker. One word that did not appear in any of my updates was "limp". These guys never, ever limped. When they came into a pot, they came in raising. And I decided that’s how I was going to play. Aggressive. Build pots. Win some money.

I won’t bore you with the details, but I somehow lost $200 in three hours playing $3-6 limit. I didn’t play like a maniac, I didn’t tilt off my money, I didn’t get drunk. When I had the goods, no one had anything. When I had a big pair, it got ironed out in some expensive way. When I tried to bully with my middle pair, someone came along and runner-runnered me. It was just one of those nights where NOTHING went right. And that’s even with me winning back-to-back pots with Aces then the Hammer.

The big winner at the table got up and left, then another guy with a ton of chips left, and Matt and I were playing four-handed with a friendly guy in an Inter Milan jersey and a middle-aged woman. They killed us. The worst hand came when Matt and I were both dealt pocket Queens. He limped, I raised, the other two called, he reraised and I raised again. They both came along for the ride, the flop came rags and Matt and I raised each other, with the lady calling 2 bets. The turn was a King, the river God knows, and when all was said and done we both turned over the ladies and she had…K-2. She won a monster pot and sent Matt on a one-way trip to Tilt Town.

Me, I was actually having a good time, despite the losses. I had a day off coming, I was another day closer to going home, and the beer tasted good. But even my good spirits ebbed as I bought in for another $40 and saw it evaporate. You like to win the odd pot when you’re playing poker, especially four-handed. Eventually Matt left to play Pai Gow and the table broke. I cashed out my literal handful of chips and staggered away.

It was 4am but I was wide awake. Matt sat at his table with a purpose and I said he could find me at the bar. I fed my ticket into the machine and sipped a beer. I watched the coverage of the Celtics victory and watched my money drip, drip, drip away. Matt returned, to say that he’d gone on a hot streak at Pai Gow and won back over $100 of what he’d lost. Well, if it could happen to him, maybe it could happen to me…

Nope. Not that night. The planets aligned to screw me over. But tomorrow (today) is another day. Go out somewhere, get something to eat, maybe play a little poker. The cards and the chips will come my way. I hope.

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One Response to “Bad Day at the Office”

  1. Short-Stacked Shamus Says:

    A hundred hands into our final table between Hourani and Galfond, my brain short-circuited and I was coming out with Houdini, Gandolf, Hourang, Golfland, etc.

    At least it was PLO — longer time per hand allowed time to correct.

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