Saturday, January 08, 2005

Played some cards last night! I've decided that I need to bring along a little notebook or something to scribble notes on during these tourneys - you know, key hands, that sorta thing, so as to not have to rely on my often-faulty or biased memory to tell the poker stories of the evening. Next time, I promise.

Last night we played at Ray's house, which I have affectionately dubbed "The Forest." Call my cooky, but I think it would be fun to have some way to reference each game location, especially if it becomes or already is a repeat affair. I'm dubbing Scott's games the Diamond games. Jim's games are at the Nice Table. That's all the names I can think of now, though I've got a few more to come up with. I will. Have no fear! Suggestions welcomed.

Ray and Val graciously hosted us last night at The Forest. We had 14 players total, split into 2 tables of 7. Here's what my table looked like:

1. Randy
2. Val
3. Dusty
4. Nudi
5. Shelly
6. Armando
7. Dan

My apologies to Table 2 - I didn't notice your seating arrangement. Other players included McEnima, Robeerto, Big Paddy, Ray, Brooke and Mike, and Nudi's dad. This is why I need to take notes - I also don't know the entire order of bust-outs in the game... only the final table.

Anyhoo - we all ponied up $25 for a prize pool of $350. Top 3 places would cash (200 - 125- 25). I prefer a 70%/20%/10% payout, but oh well. Second place definitely made out like a bandit here! We started with 1500 in chips - no re-buys.

A bunch of standard poker to begin. I won a few pots early, which is always great for the confidence, but is really misleading, because you don't win many chips. The field is still playing tight (new year's resolutions and all), and the blinds are itsy bitsy. After winning 4 or 5 nice hands in Round 1 (prior to the first break), and losing one relatively big hand, I ended the round -25 in chips. Thus my revelation that winning early isn't all that important.

The hand that cost me a few hundred chips (basically all of my early winnings): I had to play it out, even though I was fairly certain I'd be beat. I held 7-5 clubs in the big blind, in an unraised pot. I believe the board came 6-8 clubs (and a card I can't remember). So, I've got an open-ended straight draw, a flush draw, and the straight flush draw. All I knew was, at that moment I was showing down that hand just to say I had to chase the straight flush draw :) It was cheap at first - I fired 50 at the pot at each street, and was being called down by Val. (Overcards on board). The river came my flush, but with only 7 high I figured to be beat. I bet at it anyway, pushing to 200 (about a pot sized bet at that point), in case she was just playing her overcards. In fact, she had the queen high flush. It was a bummer to lose but at least I got to say, "I had to chase the straight flush draw!" out loud. Yay! LOL. Nice hand, Val!

Armando was getting beat up early on, being forced into the position to pay off a few losing hands to gain information on his opponents for future use. Thanks, Armando! (I was paying attention as well ;) I'll repay the favor sometime. No worries though - Armando's luck was soon to change.

Right after the first break, table 2 had lost a couple people, and we low-carded to send someone downstairs. Bye, Nudi! I was not far behind him, and table 2 dropped like flies. Table 1 - represent!

A *big* hand occurred upstairs at table 1 after I had moved (I always miss all the fun). Randy was in on the hand (on the losing end of it, unfortunately), and I think he is planning to post about it, so I won't discuss it here, other than to say, read Randy's post on the hand. Good stuff.

After the aforementioned hand, table 1 lost some people, and the two tables became one. We combined for a final table of:

1. Nudi's brother (sorry, I forget your name!)
2. Dusty
3. Ray
4. Armando
5. Nudi
6. Brooke
7. Shelly
8. Dan

Five of the eight final table contestants were from table 1 - nice job, guys!

There were some crazy mad hands at the final table. Let me just say that holding 7-2 at this final table was like holding AA. It was insane. We saw more flops where 7-2 would have turned into trips or a boat than is even imaginable. Literally - probably 10 boards like that. We all joked about it, until finally Nudi decided to play it once - and sure enough, he took it down with a full house. A full house, off 7-2 offsuit. Un-friggin-believable! I'd blame it on poor shuffling, but we were playing 2 alternating decks, and had different people shuffle every time, so that just wasn't possible. Another deck oddity - Armando at one point was dealt 10-2, two hands in a row.... from two different decks!! Weird, eh?

If I remember correctly, Dusty had come down to table 2 on the shortstack, and was first out at the final table. We played with 7 people for a while. Brooke was next to go - if I heard correctly, it was her first tourney, and she played a great game. (I was glad she was sitting to my right - put it that way! That's about as good a complement as you can get in a poker game!) Nudi's brother was out next, and we played 5-handed for over an hour. That's a long time, considering blinds were up around 600/1200, 800/1600 at that point. Lots of chip trading, lots of all-in's.

I took a chance on 6's in the hole at one point, going all in with about 2 big blinds left in my stack. Got called by 2 overcards, and won the race. (Whew!) I've seen a lot of 6's in the pocket lately. Twice last night.

Armando had the joy of tripling up right around this time. I don't recall all of the specifics - he went all in with 2 overcards, had a caller, and the blinds folded. All I know is, I was dealing, and after the turn he needed a 9 to make his straight. I'm pausing to watch the board and prepare to turn over the river, and Armando is chanting, "come on, nine!" and.... 9 of clubs. What is it about dealing someone a life-saving hand like that that feels good, even when you know you just gave them a contending chip stack insteada knocking them out? It was fun to watch (I wasn't in the hand).

My undoing came by way of a loose call, soon after we got down to 3 players. I called on the button a K6 clubs. What was I thinking?? Flop totally missed me, and I checked it down to the river with Nudi, who ended up to be holding 9-5 offsuit and spiked a pair of 5's somewhere in there. That call cost about half my chip stack. Had I thrown the hand away, as I had been so good about all night (avoiding the marginal hands), who knows - I might have changed my fate. But, I might not have. I'm disappointed in myself for making that call though.

My notorious final table hand was against Nudi. I held pocket Queens and raised it up 2x BB - 2,400. Nudi calls. Fop comes 6-7-8 rainbow. Alrighty - either my overpair is good, or I'm getting busted by a straight. Here we go! I raise it up 2 more big bets, 2,400 (leaving me with about a big blind and a half). Nudi thinks about it, and folds. I had him on middle pair. I showed my queens, thinking it would make him feel better for making the laydown, when all it did was dig in the dagger; Nudi folded pocket Kings, thinking I had the straight. Sorry, Don! I *so* didn't mean it!! It's all good though - that was like Nudi's golden ticket. He caught cards like a madman after that hand.

I have to say that Nudi's laydown of those Kings shows a trait that SO many poker players don't have, and one that many aspire to have: the ability to lay down a good hand when you think you're beat. How many times have I called off bets, throwing away my chips even when I thought I was beat, for no good reason? You just fall in love with your hand sometimes, and you either miss chances to read the board and see what your opponent might have, or you just play it to showdown in denial. "No way he's got the Ace! No way!" and then, you lose. Nudi is new to the game - this was his second tournament, if I remember correctly, and I couldn't be more impressed. He has picked up on very subtle nuances of the game that most people don't notice - many of which I myself didn't notice until I read a few books on poker. It was a gutsy laydown, putting those kings down. I myself couldn't have done it. Kudos to Nudi.

Here's a tip, Nudi, if you ever read this. The only thing that might have given you information that would have tipped you off that your kings were good is that I raised up the pot pre-flop. If I was holding something like 4-5 or 9-10 (the 2 hands that would have given me the straight on the flop), I probably would have just checked or called from the blinds to see a cheap flop. Now - I could have been holding pocket Aces, too, which would warrant a pre-flop raise like that, so your laydown was still a wise move. It blows my mind actually - it was a great play on your part. There's your free poker tip from the day! Do with it what you will :)

And remember... it's not who wins the battle - it's who wins the war.

The hand that took me out is a great example of how Nudi's cards just dominated everybody after that QQ-KK incident. I went all in with AQ; Nudi called - he had AK. How's that for total domination? Bye bye to me!

Guess who won this particular war? None other than Nudi. Congratulations!!!

The final table ranking went:
1. Nudi *
2. Armando *
3. Shelly *
4. Ray
5. Dan
6. Mike
7. Brooke
8. Dusty

* Money finish

(I might have Dan and Ray flip-flopped in the list... my memory is failing me. I need to take notes!! And to think, I wasn't even drinking). All in all, a good night. I played for free at least.

I also must shout-out to Armando, who is officially "one of us." His wife Kathie bought him Caro's book of poker tells for Christmas (that girl is a keeper!), and I'm not sure which other strategy books he's reading, but it's definitely something! I just love playing cards with people who appreciate the game, the strategies involved, and enjoy studying poker and improving their game. It's just downright FUN. Here's to you, Armando - welcome to the game :)

Next big game is the Diamond game, next Saturday. There are typically 25-30 people at that one - ALWAYS a night I look forward to.


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