Sunday, January 16, 2005

Last night's Diamond game at Scott's house - what a disappointment. Usually, I leave a tournament feeling one of a few things: happy with my play, unhappy with my play, happy with the play in general (cards, people, etc), or frustrated with the play in general. I've never left a game feeling as disappointedly sad as I did last night.

I felt really good heading to the game. Just prior to leaving, I had gleefully wasted some time on Party Poker, chatting with SirFWALGMan and trying to cheaply burn off my raked hand requirement for my come-back bonus (the cheap part wasn't working - I ended up down $20, but that's what I get for being a socialite and playing cards to kill time, for "fun"). Having had my fun, I jumped into the shower and got ready to head out to the game. I chose my Toronto Maple Leafs, Tie Domi jersey for the night's action, and was even having a good hair day. What more could a girl want? I sang to the radio all the way to the game (about a half hour drive), and stopped at Walgreens to pick up a little notepad, pen, and caffeinated beverages for my evening's poker journey.

Scott holds his game every 6 weeks, and I suppose this was the inaugural event of 2005. Buy-in was $50. The game: no limit Texas hold'em, with 15 minute blinds and antes in later rounds. Last night saw the biggest head-count yet: 31 players, divided amongst 4 tables. Top 5 places were paying - all I remember was that 1st was $600 and 2nd was $250. I was thinking, "C'mon, momma needs to pay the house insurance for the year!"

I've had pretty good success at the Diamond game. I'd won a first place there 3 times last year (though one was a chop with Randy, as the two of us made it to heads-up, and it seemed kinda silly to play it out against each other. So we played one hand, face up, to determine the "winner," and I won. He had about a 2-to-1 chip lead on me though, so really it didn't feel like a true win for me). I think there were 9 tournaments in 2004? Something like that. Definitely a profitable game for me. It's one that I always look forward to, because the field is never less than 20 people, and most of the regulars are very good card players, which up's the challenge, which I enjoy. Scott runs a very organized game too, which is nice, and his wife Ann gets two thumbs up for great snacks! (I wish she'd play more!) And SOMEBODY brings peanut butter cookies with Reeses Pieces that are to DIE for. I still don't know who makes 'em but they are awesome.

Anyhooo, back to last night. The game started, and ironically I ended up at a table with 2 of the people I brought in to the game, from my circle of friends: Big Paddy and Dusty. They were both immediately to my right. Kinda funny. We had a cool cat named Dave that totally reminded me of Randall from the movie Clerks (one of my faves), then a few regulars from the Diamond game - Cathy and her husband Andrew, Candice (fresh from a bankroll-damaging Vegas trip, ouch!) , and Mr. Dick.

Shuffle up and deal! My first level hands in the pocket were just amazing. I've never in my life seen so many near-consecutive monster hands pre-flop. It felt like a good sign, but the one thing I had about starting out quick outta the gates like that, is you get a false sense of security. Here I am, dragging down pot after pot, feeling like a Winner with a capital W, but the pots are small, because the blinds are so low, and people are still playing tight and folding pretty easily. Also, with the hands I was showing down, I think I was losing myself some future action, as some people were folding to me a bit more easily later on than they should have. It didn't even occur to me at the time to try and exploit that a bit and bluff a little. Damn. Noted for next time.

The second hand gave me Hook-Hook in the pocket (Jacks). I was happy about that - raised it up a little, and Candice calls. From what I know about Candice from previous encounters, she's aggressive when holding any piece of the board. Flop comes 2 hearts (of which I am holding none). Grrr! I bet 50 all the way down, with her calling me. I figure her for a piece of it. Rags, my JJ is an overpair. River comes a heart, and I pause to ponder. Someone says, "look at all those hearts!" and out of the corner of my eye I see Candice lean forward as if to inspect more closely, and she says, "Oh, there are 3 hearts there?" It was a bit dramatic, and I thought to myself, that just did not seem authentic. She wants me to think she didn't notice the hearts. I check, and she bets out 300. Now - if anybody remembers back to one of my first blog posts, where I had a girl acting a tell straight out of the Bible of Tells, and I ignored the tell, not believing that it could possibly be THAT easy to spot - you'd better sit down. What did I do, having spotted this tell and having a gut feeling that it was accurate? I called her bet anyway. I could say I was paying for information, but it was way too expensive to call for that reason. My Jacks lost to her Ace-rag flush; she was calling me down all the way with Ace high and the flush draw. Nice. That sucked.

One of these days I'm going to believe the tells I pick up on... grrr....

The very next hand sees QJ offsuit in my hand. Online that's usually a throwaway hand for me (the blackjack hands, be gone!) but at this game, I have to play a few more starting hands, due to the nature of the players in general. So, I saw a cheap flop with it. Flop brings me top pair Jacks, and I bet out 100. Called by Cathy's husband. Turn is a rag - I bet, he calls. River comes a Queen, for two pair. Same bet, he calls. I flip up my 2 pair, and see I was up against an unfulfilled AK. Cha-ching! Erased the flooosh loss from the previous hand, just like that. Happy day!

The end of round 1 (at the end of the first hour) saw me even in chips. I played a lot of pots, having seen a lot of nice pocket cards, but to my dismay my pre-flop monsters were getting decimated on the board by flushes and straights. It was kind of nasty. I was still in good spirits though, satisfied with my chip count, considering.

Somewhere in the beginning of round 2, I took over as dealer, and my notetaking was severely hampered. It's actually pretty darned hard to take notes while playing cards. I'll have to work up some sort of system of abbreviations or something so I can take them in shorthand. My run of great cards dried up, and I was folding like a maniac through several orbits (love that word!) Then came my un-doing.

I look down to see Kings in the hole. (giggle). I'm on the button. Several limpers ahead of me. Blinds are at 100/200. I raise it to 400, as the table had tightened up considerably and people were folding left and right. (I had pocket Aces a few hands prior, with blinds at 75/150, raised it to a mere 300 and got no action - what a waste of Aces). I got 2 callers: the big blind (Dick), and Big Paddy. Flop comes AA5 rainbow. Potentially dangerous flop but I like where I'm at - let's see what everybody else does. Dick bets out 500. What I know about Dick: he bets proportionately with the strength of his hand, and is pretty straight-up in his action - bets when he has something, checks when he doesn't. I'm prepared to call his bet, figuring him for a 5. Then Big Paddy re-raises all in for 1600. What I know about Paddy: very solid player, and when he shows down a hand, it's typically the nuts. The other thing about Paddy: of all of the hands I recall playing with him, I can't remember EVER seeing him re-raise. This struck the fear of God in me. Damn it, Paddy has the Ace! Damn damn damn! With 2 cards left to come, was I prepared to call his bets all the way down, figuring I'm beat? My stack wasn't deep enough to do that. I thought quite a bit on this hand, but after a bet and a re-raise ahead of me, with 2 people who had called my pre-flop raise, and Paddy's known betting patterns, I honestly thought Paddy had me beat. I thought he had an Ace. I laid down the kings. Dick folded, and Paddy showed his hand, as did Dick. Again - are you sitting down?

Paddy had pocket Queens. Dick had pocket Jacks.

My kings were good. The kings I folded were good.

I was furious. So mad in fact that Randy's ears perked up to me talking to myself to ask if I'd been knocked out. No, just pissed. I did my best to contain Shell-muth, but I was steaming inside. Mad mad mad.

Was it a bad laydown? After replaying the hand again and again in my head, based on the betting patterns I saw, and the old saying "it's not who wins the battle - it's who wins the war," it was the safe play. Of course, in retrospect, I should have called (knowing now I'd have won). I've just been working so hard to avoid calling off all my chips when I think I'm beat, and trying not to fall in love with hands. I concluded that it wasn't a bad laydown - albeit a bit of a "safe" laydown. If I were in the same position again, I'm not sure what I would do. I think that hand could have gone either way.

The lesson I think that I need to take out of that hand is to continue to go with my gut. It wasn't completely correct in that case - I had put Paddy on a strong hand, which was accurate, but I miscalculated his strength. I also have to be a bit more willing to take chances.

The degree to which I was steaming had me a little on tilt, and this is where I did the most damage to my chip stack. The next hand saw me holding A6 of spades, and I played it in late position. After I limped in, it was raised ahead of me, and I called. I wanted a flush SO bad. Flop comes A-rag-rag with one spade. It's bet ahead of me, I call. (What am I doing, chasing a runner runner flush with a pair of Aces and a weak kicker? Tilting, that's what). Turn - no spade. Bet into me, I call. River - no spade. Bet into me, I fold. (Another mistake - I went that far, I should have at least played it out to see if my Aces would hold up). I was just so angry about the kings.

That play ended, and I realized immediately the damage I'd done. I was down to 6BB, and blinds were about to go up. Ouch. Focus focus focus. I did some deep breaths and tried to calm myself, simultaneously trying not to scold myself for the A6 hand. Forget about it, it's done, start over in this moment. Let it go. I was able to re-focus, and watched a few orbits of blinds go by, and when the blinds went up, I had 2BB left. Time to pick the all-in spot and hope to double up or better.

Big blind saw me with K4 clubs in hand, with 4 callers ahead of me. It was as good a hand as any, and if I won, I'd quadruple up. Here we go, all in, a raise of one big bet. Everybody called. Best I ended up with was a pair of 4's; 2 other people were all in - Cathy, and Paddy. Paddy ended up taking down the pot, knocking out Cathy and I, and that was it.

Two people from my table ended up in the money - Paddy took a nice 2nd place (I'm glad to see that my chips went to a worthy cause!), and Andrew placed 5th, if I remember correctly. 1st and 3rd were strangers to me, and I think 4th was a Diamond-game regular, Derek. Nice job guys!

All in all, a disappointing game for me. I went out 17th/31. Randy went out shortly after me, and we found ourselves upstairs sitting with Scott and Ed (having also been knocked out), lamenting our losses with the shuffle-deal sound of PokerStars echoing through the air. (Ed was playing). There was a $1/$2 cash game scheduled for after the tourney, but I only had another $30 on me, and that's just not enough to sit down to a no limit 1/2 game with (at least not with these maniac!). I reluctantly went home, sad sad sad.

The good news is - Scott just called to let me know he's holding a little re-buy tourney tomorrow afternoon, in honor of the day off for Martin Luther King Jr day. I'm in! :)


  1. April said...
    "We had a cool cat named Dave that totally reminded me of Randall from the movie Clerks"

    So he was into hermaphroditic porn?? ;)

    Very nice write-up. I totally identify with the making the safe play, but needing to take more chances thing. I think that's kinda the quintessential dilema of tournament poker though.
    Shelly said...
    Thanks, April! I'm playing with Randall again tomorrow - I'll investigate on the porn. LOL! We're actually going to watch Clerks during the game tomorrow - ahhhh heaven!

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