Friday, March 16, 2007

No Cigar

Another night of solid play, another bubble. There isn’t enough profanity at my disposal to express my frustration.

I didn’t realize how weak my game had become until I stepped up the aggression and started playing some decent poker again. The downward spiral of my poker game went like this….

Doing very well, consistently cashing.

Loosens up starting hands, plays them aggressively

Gets burned

Keeps starting requirements loose, but plays them passively

Gets nowhere

Tightens up starting hand requirements, but still plays them passively

Sucks ass

So I decided to keep my requirements tight, but play them aggressively – like I used to, when I was winning…and my game has been SO much better. I can’t seem to avoid the bubble suckout though.

Last night I really felt strong at the beginning of the game. I was a big stack when we got to the final table when one bad hand against Bankwell (I had 1010, he had AA) cut my stack by a third. I was steaming like mad because Bankwell played me, and I really, really do not like that. Mofo. But I managed to maintain my composure and played tight aggressive to the final 4, where I was unfortunately now shortstacked (but not critical). The player to my right is mediocre…he overvalues face cards and Ace-anything. He raised from the SB, and in the BB I have pocket nines. I know that he’s raising me with anything, and with the blinds quickly escalating, I don’t have to think twice about pushing all-in. He instantly calls and my heart sinks. He must have a high pocket pair. But no, he has the monster of a hand – A 8 offsuit. He, of course, catches the Ace and I’m eliminated.

What boggled my mind was he was nowhere near pot committed with his hand. And if I’m pushing, what hands does he think he can beat? The only hands that he’s ahead of are A-rag lower than 7 and two paint cards like KQ/KJ (which I would never push with, and if he paid attention he’d know that). With any pocket pair lower than 77 it’s a coinflip, and with any pocket pair over 8s he’s an underdog. So how could A-8 be an insta-call? So confusing.

I was a bit of a baby and just pushed by chips in a big pile across the table and sat stonefaced for the rest of the game…which I had to sit through because Bankwell finished second. Which was good for the bankroll, but bad for my self-esteem.

I knew I should have been able to just shake it off – but I just felt so pissed that such a bad call gets rewarded. I know, I know – I want him to make terrible calls like that, because I’ll win more often than not. But sometimes I just want to jump across the table and strangle the donkeys.

Tomorrow night we’re going to a friend from work’s house for a poker tournament she’s organized. There will be 12 people – most of whom know how to play, but aren’t there to take it seriously…it’s exactly what I need: FUN poker.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pauly posted a great entry on balance – it’s a must read for every human trying to live a quality life.

I’m nowhere near balanced right now. Work has been incredibly stressful, and I’ve been using large quantities of Sleeman’s Clear Ale and online MTTs to escape. It’s been work, beer, sleep, poker, work, sleep, poker, work. Add in chocolate & french fries and you’ll get the full sense of my existence over the past month. Not good.

A friend came over last night and told me that he’s getting separated from his wife. They have been married a few short years and have a young daughter. The saddest thing he told me was that there would be days on end when they wouldn’t speak. They weren’t fighting, they just wouldn’t speak to each other. The silence must have been incredibly heavy. It made me want to cry.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the impact that poker has had on my life (thanks to CC’s series of Am I better because of poker articles – a series I intend to do myself). I think the biggest positive impact has been on my relationship with my husband (aka Bankwell). In addition to life, work, family – we now have a shared hobby that we talk about all the time. I can’t imagine a night where we don’t talk and laugh – nevermind days on end.

I’m pretty lucky.

Well, except for on the poker tables lately ;)

Bubbled again in Woody’s on Monday. I was on fire at the beginning of the game. I’d really pumped up my aggression (my game had turned very passive) – and was building a great stack. A few missed flops by mid-game, and then one very bad pre-flop raise (committing myself and considering the stack size of the BB) and I was down to 1,000 chips when blinds were 200/400. Bah.

But I was able to rebuild only to go out 5th when I was a small stack and went all in for 3xBB with A4 and was called by AK. Flop was AX6, turn was 4, river was 6. I didn’t even see the second 6 and thought I had sucked out – but his two pair beat mine and I’m done.

But I actually felt great about the game, because with the exception of that one clear mistake, I played well.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

my cup runneth over

Work has been pretty intense for the past two weeks, so not only has my poker playing slowed quite a bit, so has my ability to take the time to write about it.

But Saturday morning I was pumped and primed for an intense day of poker. I was ready to play…..for The Cup.

6 months ago, I played in my first RC Cup – a team based tournament created by a bunch of poker enthusiasts (i.e. poker nerds, like myself) where you compete in 4 different events for points, which combined with your teammates points give a total team score to determine the winning team – and watched our team barely squeak into second last place. But this time was different. Our team was different, and we were ready.

4 events, 4 disciplines. We were all playing Limit HE, NLHE, and Heads-up NLHE, and in the non-holdem round half the team would play Omaha while the other would play Stud.

There was more than money on the line, there was pride.

We bonded as a team over Friday night practices (which contained a lot more alcohol than was necessary). We talked Omaha and Stud strategy. We got cheesy T-shirts made.

We were ready.

AJ arrived at our place at 9:30 Saturday morning – the BusDriver was not far behind him, and we piled into BD’s van for the hour-long commute to the venue. A stop at Timmy’s was in order and we picked up 4 coffees. Roll-up-the-rim is in full effect, and I win a donut. Aha! Karma is on my side already.

We meet the other half of the team there, and the Hill (our team) is decked out in said cheesy T-shirts. I quick trip to the ladies and I, too, am awash with team pride in my white & blue jersey.

Bankwell in our team uniform.

We buy-in for the high-hand jackpots while other degenerates play $5 flipaments., and before too long, the Stud/Omaha round is starting up.

I was on the Stud half of the team, and proceed to implement my strategy of folding unless I have a monster. Well folks, there were no monsters to be found in my hand. Not a buried pair, not a 3-flush, not even a buried Ace. I was card-dead. But, I was out for points (the higher I finished, the more points I got), so I just waited, and waited, and waited.

Our Stud table must have been the rockiest rocks in Bedrock, because we were one of the last two tables going (out of 8 total, 4 Stud, 4 Omaha), and all my teammates had already ended their games. There were still 5 players at my table…and I was the shortstack. Easy, the other woman on our team, sat next to me and I told her I hadn’t seen a pair all game, not buried, not split…nothing. The poker gods must have heard me bitching, because the next hand I’m dealt, I’m showing an Ace with buried 4s. Not the best hand, but with the size of my stack, it’s now or never kids.

I get it all in pre-flop against a buried pair of Kings. Damn.

But wait – I get a 4 on 4th street to more than triple up. Sweet jebus, I’m still alive.

The game continues, and I’m all-in again with several opponents who check it down – I end up with a flush against nothing better and my stack is no longer pathetic. Through circumstances I can’t even explain, I end up heads-up in a game I’ve never played live before (other than team practices).

Stud: Heads-up. My opponent is in the pimp hat

It’s hard to explain what it was like to play that heads-up match – my whole team was behind me, other players were surrounding the table. There were cheers and groans as every hand was played. It was such a “now” moment. Ultimately I was defeated to take second. But it still felt like a miracle.

My Limit match kind of sucked when I got rivered twice early on to lose over half my stack. I did, however, double up with pocket Aces when two Aces came on the board. Huzzah! But it still wasn’t enough to keep me alive for much longer, and I went out in the middle of the pack.

My No-Limit game was horrendous when I made a terrible move with AK when an Ace flopped and my opponent flopped trips. Crikey. I went out first at my table. Unfortunately, 3 of my teammates had already busted first on their tables too – so the three of us, glaringly obvious in our blue & white shirts, had to pass the time while the games wore on. We corralled another bustee to play Euchre with us – playing poker after such embarrassing bustouts would have been much too painful.

My heads-up match was a breeze – I played against a weak-tight player who folded to any sign of aggression. I made quads for the second time of the day – this time to a board of K6K K Q. My opponent held pocket sixes, but didn’t look at his cards until the turn (he was trying to get tricky by playing blind – I don’t know why). He thought he was trapping me, but when I raised him on the river, he got worried that I had a queen, so he only called my raise instead of going all-in. Had he looked at his cards, all our money would have been in on the flop. It didn’t matter though, because I grinded him down until he had no choice but to go all-in with K-high, and my A-high held up.

My team actually won 6 out of 8 heads up matches….but we couldn’t pull out a win. We lost 1st place by 4 points. If our NL round hadn’t been so terrible, we would have won the event. Ouch.

But all-in-all – it was an amazing time. To play with so many people who love poker was just incredible.

The next Royal Cup is in August….and I can’t wait.

Our team picture - as taken by the most inebriated person at the event: