Sunday, October 02, 2005

Is that some no-limit in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

So I headed to Trump this afternoon, after hearing that on Sunday's (as of last week), they're running single-table no-limit hold'em sit 'n goes. $50+15 buy in, with an optional one-time $3 addon going to the dealers for 200 more in chips. Top 3 places pay, 50-30-20% (so, for the mathematically challenged: $ 250, 150, 100). With the addon, you start with 1400 in chips, and the blinds increase every 10 hands.

From my recollection, the blind structure went something like:
and that's as far as we got...

Let me rewind a bit. It was a gloomy day weather-wise here in Chicagoland. The weather looked fine when I left my house around 3pm, but quickly turned stormy as I headed northeast. Unfortunately, I'd left all of the windows open at the house, and Randy got to come home from work to a blown out window screen in the master bedroom (no missing cats, thank goodness) and a soaking wet television and DirecTV box. I guess we'll be buying that second TiVo for the upstairs a bit sooner than we thought... I feared that the boat would be in motion with the choppy waters, so I made sure to drug myself well with ibuprofen and allergy medicine (the latter for my habitual sneezing, not the boat).

I was only the 2nd name on the SnG list when I arrived, so I sat down at a new $3/6 limit hold'em table while waiting for the tournament to fill up. I played for about an hour or so, dribbling away $15 or so. That's what I get for betting into 4-of-a-kind aces all the way down. (I flopped a boat with my pocket ten's and AAA on board... the new girl had the case ace).

There were 3 of us girls at this particular 3/6 table, and boy - were we three distinct types of girls. The "new" girl was - new. This was her 2nd time playing at a casino (the first was yesterday), but she plays "tons" online. From the starting hand selection she displayed, she's either exaggerating with the "tons" or just doesn't mind giving away money. She was your typical ANY ace, face, or soooted player - but she was a looker. The boys enjoyed her presence, I'm sure, with her platinum blond hair and those trendy brown low-lights and perfectly bronzed skin. I thought maybe somebody should tell her that she'd look like an alligator skin handbag by the time she's 30 if she doesn't stay out of those tanning beds, but who am I to judge? New girl was at the opposite end of the table from me, in the 3 seat. (I locked up seat number 10). Two to my right was the other source of estrogen at the table. I definitely would NOT want to be caught alone in a dark alley with her. This chick was tiny, feisty, and could undoubtedly kick my ass in a fistfight. She played with no fear whatsoever. I had an immediate sense that she was no stranger to the boys' game at the local cardrooms.

Nothing spectacular happened at 3/6. Like I said - my monster boat lost to 4oak, and my other big loss was with AK suited. I flopped a king and bet it all the way down. My primary opponent was this college-aged kid sitting across from me, who literally fell asleep several times in between hands. I couldn't tell if he was drunk, stoned, or just plain sleepy. I played him hard and fast with my Kings but unfortunately for me, he woke up with a flopped set of 5's. Tricky bastard. Go back to sleep, man!

There was one other notable person at the 3/6 table. He looked like your average 30-something poker fan, and seemed to play a straight-up game. I had no problem with him, until the opened his mouth. First, he was complaining about one of our tablemates: an elderly man who was no stranger to poker but was new to hold'em and apparently new to the limit betting structure. Due to his age, he was lacking a bit in the "manual dexterity" category, and was a bit slow in handling his chips. This doesn't bother me. The average age of the 3/6 tables at Trump can push that 75-year-old mark (or so it seems sometimes), and that's just how it is. I'll call our impatient friend Walter. I don't know why. It's the first name that came to me. So Walter starts correcting the man impatiently when he bets incorrectly. (Last I checked, there's a dealer who is quite capable of doing that, and typically in a much more polite fashion). Then, when the older man took too long to count out his chips to call a bet, Walter would sigh loudly and say, "Action is on YOU!"

Walter goes on to chatter to New Girl, telling her that he "plays here all the time" (which seemed to be a farce, as he'd probably be used to all the old people if he did). I'd never seen him before, but I'm a Trump newbie, so.... we had a dealer change, and Walter starts yapping it up with the new dealer by name (the only one he knew by name). The dealer asked, "How'd you do the other night?" Walter replied, "Ahhh, I broke even." The dealer said, "That's not bad." Walter replied, "Not at all - I got 7 hours of free entertainment! Besides, I can't win EVERY night," and then WINKED at the dealer. Yes, he winked.

Walter, you're so damn cool - teach me your secrets!

Finally, my name gets called to start up the sit-n-go. As the names were announced, I started to rack up my chips to move.

Walter says to me, "You're playing in that tournament?"

I said, "Yes..." (duh).

He said, "You know that's no-limit, right?"

I said, "Yes...."

Walter continued, "Have you ever played that before?"

I replied, "You mean, a sit-n-go? No, not here - they just started them last weekend."

He goes, "No, I mean - no limit."

I said, "Yes..."

Walter then said, "Oh really? (in disbelief). How long have you been playing?"

I grabbed my Gatorade and said, "A while..." as I walked away.

Alrighty. Walter - right then - had pissed me off. Not actual pissed-off-ed-ness, but he flipped that little switch inside of me that to an outsider might appear to be feminism. I'm not really a feminist - I will gladly cook dinner and clean the kitchen if you promise I don't have to do smelly things like take the garbage out. But when it comes to career or brain related things, don't you dare tell me that a woman can't do as well as a man. I'm not saying ALL women can do ALL things as well or better than men can - just as not ALL men can do ALL things as well as a woman. But when it comes to brains, I think some can - and do. I know I have ranted on this tangent here before, [and in pre-post reading I've just deleted a ranty paragraph on the topic!] but - I'll just leave it as, there are some girls that kick much ass in typically male-oriented activities. That is fact. Ignoring that fact and its implications can be hazardous to your chip stack when there's a smart girl in the game and the game is poker. I still have a lot to learn and much to improve on, but if you play me like I'm a "dumb girl," I *will* beat you. Maybe even out of sheer force of will.

So... Walter ignited the girl-war in me. I made my way over to the table for the sit n go and checked in. I was unhappy to draw the 2 seat. I don't like being on the far ends. It's too hard to see the board. I was, as expected, the only girl in the tournament. Ten players. My opponents:

1s - 30-something black guy - very chatty, cool to play with. Your typical gambler.
2s - me!
3s - nondescript
4s - 30-something white guy - good player. I'd seen him before at the cash games.
5s - 30-something hispanic guy - maybe he was late 20's. VERY good player. I'd played with him several times before.
6s - 30-something white guy with a cocky air to him - probably played football in his youth.
7s - 50-something white guy who smelled fishy from the get-go
8s - 20-something WPT wannabe, complete with baseball capped pulled down to the eyebrows, wraparound sunglasses, arms folded across the chest, and an icy stare for everyone at the table
9s - 30-something cocky white guy - just re-read my description from the 6 seat
10s - can't remember

Table analysis - we've got 2 people who automatically get cross-hairs in my sights thanks to Walter (those being the 6 and 9 seats). We've got a couple people I plan to avoid without holding the goods in the 4 and 5 seats - though I thought I might be able to steal some blinds from them, since they knew me as a solid player and were smart enough to be observant of that. We had one obvious fish, 2 unknowns who seemed to be casual players, and the WPT kid who I had no respect for in my mind, though forced myself to watch his play before categorizing him as a Gus Hansen wannabe. (He could be pulling the Poker Geek trick, after all - knowing that many people will dismiss him as a TV-quality poker player with the hyped up outfit). Most of those WPT types seem to want to be Gus. I love Gus. I don't play like him but he sure is a hottie. It's the bald head. He might be the only player I crush on more than Phil Gordon (who's Little Green Book is on its way to my grubby little paws, thanks to an preorder that I forgot about. W00t!)

The game started out just as wild as your typical online $10 sit n go - people overbetting pots and overplaying hands. I took note of who was involved in most of the hands early: the fishy 7s, our egomaniacs in the 6 and 9 seats, and the gambler to my right. There were quite a few all-in's but no bust outs. The 3, 4, and 5 seats were playing the same game I was: quietly folding and watching carefully. I noticed that WPT kid was also folding. I couldn't tell if he was watching carefully, since his eyes were so craftily hidden from my view. He continued to sit statue-like and zap everybody with ice-beams from his eyes.

Late in the first round, I found myself with Cowboys in the hole. The table was sustaining preflop raises of 200 at this point (with the big blind at 30, representing a raise of almost 7x the big blind). In early position, though, I didn't want to scare out the field, so I raised to 150 (still sizable, I thought, at 5xBB). The 6 seat goes, "Psshhhh!" and tosses his chips into the pot with a roll of his eyes. (??? What was that for, buddy?) The nine seat also called, and peered down at me in an attempt to see into my soul. The flop came down undercards, Queen high. I bet out half the pot. The 6s folded in disgust (he sure did want to beat me), and the 9 seat called. The turn came an Ace, but it didn't worry me (much). My opponent's body language just didn't seem to say "ace." I bet out. He min-raised me. I re-raised all in.

The 9 seat (I shall call him Fabio. He didn't look like Fabio, but had long-ish hair, and probably thought in his own mind that his prowess rivaled that of Fabio)....Fabio folded. He shook his head and glared at me and goes, "You can have your ace..."

YUP! I sure can. By the way, I had your Queen beat before the Ace fell, but I'll take your money all the same! I mucked and gladly took his chips.

All of a sudden, I felt really good. I had been a little bit hesitant while waiting for the SnG to start, thinking to myself, "It's been at least a couple months since I've even PLAYED any no-limit poker.. Maybe I should skip the SnG and stick to limit..." After shaking off the butterflies and syncing my brain back with my old NL game, I was in it, and I wasn't the least bit intimidated. I could have been - but I didn't succumb to it, and that made me feel even better.

Fabio can thank Walter for that.

It ends up that both the 6 seat and Fabio were a bit chauvinistic. They weren't too keen on being outplayed by a girl. Fabio started laying hands down to me after seeing me show down a couple big hands, so I was able to abuse that a bit and steal a couple pots off of him. The 6 seat (he doesn't deserve a name) was a bit tilty and donked off his chipstack when he let his ego make his decisions for him. Most of those donked-off chips shipped my way.

The WPT kid ended up being a not-so-bad player. He was too tight for his own good, though was ballsy enough to risk 3 all-in's in a row to steal the sizable blinds late in the tournament. Had he played a little more aggressively early on, he might not have been so short-stacked. His luck eventually ran out.

The fish caught some monster good times when he found himself all in with 2 other all-in's. His pocket Kings held up against 44 and AK. I had gotten out of the hand, folding 77. I'd have had to call most of my chipstack (save a couple hundred chips) against 3 all-in's in front of me. I didn't think my odds of hitting the set justified a call, since there was no way I was the preflop favorite. I folded the hand preflop to all that action, and silently mourned when a seven hit the flop. The fish's KK held up, and he had a gigantic chip lead at that point. I'll skip the foreshadowing and just share with you a comment that the 5 seat said to me after the tournament: "After I saw him win that huge pot, I thought to myself - if anybody can blow a chip lead like that, it's him!" The fish had placed 4th in an earlier SnG that day, and ironically enough finished 4th in ours as well.

I had the satisfaction of knocking out Fabio. It was another classic case of "bluff off all your chips because there's no way that girl knows how to play." Even if that were true, isn't there still some chance that I'd get lucky? Or is that restricted to boys too?

Man - what year is it? It absolutely floors me that there are men in this modern-day world that are so naive to think that it's a man's world. It's ANYONE'S world. This world belongs to any human being that puts forth the effort and skills to achieve success. (That's not meant to discriminate against other life forms - just that I haven't seen any aliens lately). I don't care if you're a boy or a girl, black, white, red, yellow, blue (OK - no blue - I dislike the Smurfs)... I mean, COME ON, PEOPLE! It's the year two thousand freaking five for shit's sake. Color - ethnicity - gender - religion - political allegiance - what difference does it make! Honestly, I see two kinds of people in this world: good people, and bad people. That's it.

Who the hell gave me the soapbox tonight? Shit. This is supposed to be a poker story.

So... to make an already ridiculously tangential story a little bit shorter...

The 3 people in the money were me and the two other players I'd tagged as "good" - the 4 seat and the 5 seat. It came down to me and the 5 seat (who was one lucky S-o-B tonight, winning 8 consecutive all-in's - 7 of which he was a complete underdog - to amass his massive chip stack after losing down to the felt in round 2). In the first hand of heads-up play, I pushed all in with my Ace high (I was significantly outchipped). He called and I won. In the next hand, he put me all in. I had J4 of diamonds. I probably should have waited for a better hand, but decided to try and get lucky - hoping I had 2 live cards. He had pocket 6's, and despite flopping a four, I did not improve any further.

I finished the tournament in second place, very relieved and honestly pretty damn proud of myself. I played well and didn't let the bullies bully me.

I decided to head home after the tournament. I was feeling good, and I knew Randy would be home from work by the time I got home. There's nothing quite as nice as having a confidence-boosting afternoon in the poker room, followed by some kick-back time with the love of my life :)

And so concludes another day at Trump...


  1. Maudie said...
    Score one for the sista-hood! 8^)I'm like you in that I am dismayed we still have to climb that creaky equality soapbox, but as long as there are congenital idiots still being bred, that soapbox will still be needed, I fear.
    DuggleBogey said...
    Soapbox? It sounds to me like you girls take advantage of the donk-tards that underestimate you. Why would you want to change minds that are made of concrete?

    Good work Shel!
    April said...
    Nice job Shelly! I got Phil's new book last week and I must say that I am really enjoying it.
    Bill said...
    We just let you gals win once in a while so we can fleece you later. Yeah, thats it. You better not play in that SNG again cause you got your free pass.

    Otherwise, losing to a girl would make us question our reason for being, and our "size".
    jremotigue said...
    Damn good job girl!

    You shoulda said goodbye to Walter on the way out!
    JohnnyHarp said...
    Great post, man have you come along way in storytelling Shelly, I was hooked from the get!

    Keep em coming.
    Shelly said...
    Hey Donkey - I did, actually. As I walked past, he said, "How did it go?" I shook my head and frowned and said, "Not so good.... (dramatic pause to build up the "knowing" look on his face).... I finished second." His jaw literally started to drop before he caught himself and closed his mouth, but he couldn't stammer anything intelligent in his state of surprise. :)

    Donkey - Thanks!

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