Cigars Cards and Mile Markers

Monday, May 16, 2011

a church gig and cards.........all in a day's work.


well, the week started off not too shabby yesterday, no doubt.   after having a show saturday night with copeland i had the luxury of getting up at 7am to go play a church gig.   my brain doesn't and hasn't ever functioned well in the early AM.........especially on 4.5 hours of sleep, but i am not in a position to turn down many gigs these days.   so up i got, showered, made some extremely strong coffee (100% kona is soooooooooooooooo good), cooked a fried egg sanchwhich and headed out the door to hurst........still half asleep.  after church i managed to get in a 2 hour nap and then the day got really good.....

the tourney started at 4pm and with more coffee and a cigar in hand i sat down and quickly started studying my opponents.   some i had played with in this room before, but most i hadn't.  it's always a wide range of people that can sit down at a table and play cards together, but it's usually pretty clear in the first 30 minutes who really knows how to play and who is there just to try and see EVERY SINGLE FLOP with any two cards.  the latter folks usually rack up a lot of chips early with seemingly crazy hole cards and then take huge chunks out of others stacks........but that's usually because people try and get sneaky with hands like KK and QQ (which i witnessed yesterday when KK limped in and let 6 others limp in......including 2/7 suited who flopped 2 pair).  don't get cute with high pairs in the'll bite you in the ass later in the hand.  that's almost 100% guaranteed.  my table included one woman in her late 50's, another man who was older as well, but most were my age and down.   only 2 guys at my starting table really knew the game.  the rest were there to play "no fold em hold em".........and that they did.  

$110 buy in for 7K in chips.   they didn't change the blind structure, but they did extend the blind times by an extra 5 minutes, so that should help with the patience factor (mine at least).   i know the guys in this room try and play every single hand they can in the first 4-6 levels before the blinds get pricey, so i know i need to take advantage of that loose style of play.   so i play tight for the first portion of the tourney.   i tried raising in early position with hands like KQs and AJs.  i was hoping to stage an image of playing solid hands so that later i could get away with bluffing when people's tourney life was on the line.   this however didn't work as every time i raised (only 2-3 times actually) i got called by a minimum of 5 people........then i bricked the flop.....badly.  so much for that idea eh?  plan two was to go back to playing tight.  

we were still at 2 tables and i think my table had all 10 still seated at it when i woke up with two beautiful black ladies in the small blind: the queen of spades AND clubs.   the lady at my table raised to 600 (75/150 level) and had two callers.  i didn't want to see those two callers because now it means i have to jam the hell out of this pot right now......pre flop.   as soon as she raised i eyed her stack and it seemed she had 3025 left to play behind her, so after the two callers put their dead money in the middle i raised it to 3025.   which tells her and the rest of the table i'm not folding at all.  if i lose the hand i will still have about 3-4K left to play with which is more than enough at this blind level.....which is mostly the reason i decided to get aggressive with this hand.   simply stated: i can't be knocked out of the tourney.....which means i can't lose.  she can be knocked out however so i basically made her make a decision for her tourney life.  i'm praying for her to get it all in and flip over JJ or 1010 and of course if she turns over KK or AA then that's poker and i have to get lucky, but again, i can't be knocked out so there's really no stress on me at all. 

once i reraised to 3025 it certainly got the entire tables attention and the lady's face didn't flinch at all.........................ooops, was the first thing that went through my head.  i'm beat.  she has AA, no doubt about it at all.  i'm 100% sure of it now, but of course i can't not call her last 600.  every one folds to her and she throws her last 600 in and i call.   just like i knew she turns over AA and i flip over my ladies.   one thing i do have going for me is she has AhAd, so i can still get lucky with some sort of sick flush or Q high straight.   then it gets worse.......  my friend cody looks at me to tell me he folded a Q.   so now i've lost an out. there's ONE and only ONE beautiful queen in the deck left and i really really need that woman to hit the flop to put my mind at ease........................the dealer burns a card and deals 3 cards face down, then flips them over.......the card in the window was the help for me, but as the poker gods would smile down upon me yesterday the second card was the CASE queen.   i flopped top set and left my opponent with only 2 outs............which she bricked. thankfully.    i'm the big stack at the table now with over 11K.  i make a quick count of my stack once i rake it in and considering i now have over 70 big blinds, it's time to sit and be patient.  that an mr. 2/7 suited is really mixing it up with literally any two cards, so i know his time is limited and no way he's cashing today.   i just don't see it.

then i go card dead for a long while and lose 25% of my stack.   then i raised in late position with 6/6 and had the big blind shove.  it's only 1.1K more while i know i must be behind i can't see folding here.  so i call.......and he flips over 7/7.   oooops again.    this time i'm not so lucky to hit a set and my opponent doubles up.   then i really go card dead.   i had worked that original stack of 11K up to 15K + and now i'm back down to about 8K with the blinds at 400/800.    this is NOT good for me.....except that most in this room have no clue how to play their hands according to their stack sizes.   it just never occurs to them to ever put pressure on other stacks with medium to strong hands.......which is a very good thing for me.   i for one hope they NEVER learn because right now their ignorance is lining my pockets with hundred dollar bills.   so the next hour was basic survival mode. then i get moved to the other table for about 15 minutes.   not much to comment about there as i won 2 hands by checking it down from the big blind, shoved once to steal the blinds and then we got down to the final 9.  which meant i moved back to my original table.

they put me in seat 10 which is to the immediate right of the dealer.  i HATE seats 1 and 10.  it blocks off at a minimum of 2 seats from my immediate viewing and it makes it really awkward to turn and stare down the opponent to my immediate right.   oh well, can't control everything at the poker table, so i make the best of it. so again, i'm playing really tight because i basically have little to no chips left in relation to the size of the blinds.  at one point i was down to about 10K in chips with the blinds at 800/1600.   not good at all.  if i don't find a hand to double up with in the next orbit around the table i'm screwed and i can forget cashing today.   not to mention we've lost two players, so we're down to 7.  which means the blinds are hitting me quicker which is killing my stack.   twice i shoved with something like AJ or A9.  it worked and i stole the blinds, which buys me an orbit.   then the poker gods smiled upon me again and the timing was PERFECT.   i'm in the big blind and i looked down at AhKs.   all i can think right now is someone PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE raise or shove.   anybody.    and so they did.........the cutoff shoved his last 14K +/- in and it folded to me, so i snap called off my last 10.6K and flipped over my cards.   i CAN NOT tell you how delighted i was to see my opponents KcJs.   then the flop was a miracle flop for me.   A/10/3.......all spades.   so not only do i have top pair/top kicker, but i have the nut flush draw.   my opponent is dead to runner runner JJ or a Q for a straight and of course the Q can't be a spade.  then he bricks the turn (leaving him with 3 outs) and again on the river, so i double up.  now i'm sitting on almost 25K, but i'm not out of the hot water yet.   25K at 800/1600 is still a bit to short stacked for my comfort level.  time to tighten up some more and look for a pot to get my stack in.  

most that are left at the table are very short stacked right now as well, save for one or two guys who are sitting around 40K. i made it my goal to put pressure on those short stacks and steal their chips OR find a spot to double through the big stacks.   the bad thing is that the two large stacks of 40K are good players, so i gotta be careful when i get in a hand with them.   the last thing i wanna do is get wiped out by a big stack and have some short stack barely sneak into the money with barely any chips left.   so i folded.........a lot.  for at least a few more orbits and then i woke up with 6/6 in late position.  so instead of raising (which would have required at least 15-20% of my stack), which i most likely should have done i instead decided to limp and see a flop.  

BOOOOOOOM!!!!!   the flop was 3/9/6 rainbow.  what to do.....what to do?   the big blind leads out and bet 5K into a pot of 8K (1K/2K level).   now depending on what the next guy does will seriously affect what i do.  if he flat calls the 5K i have to jam the pot and get heads up with someone OR get it all in right now.   instead the next guy folded, so i decided not to jam it and i flat called....the guy on the button folded.   heads up......PERFECT.  this is just what i wanted.   the turn is the 4clubs which now puts a flush draw out there and a straight, if in fact the BB is holding 5/2 or 5/7, but i don't see him having a straight.  why?  cuz it means he bet a gut shot and that's just not plausible.  of course now i know i have to jam this pot........especially if he leads out and bets again.  the pot is 18K and he leads out for 10K.......i pause to reflect (aka pretend i have no idea what to do) and i then i shipped it all to the middle.   there's no better spot for me right now to get it all in.  if he calls i double up (hopefully) and if he folds i'm ok with that too.   once i'm all in and he doesn't snap call i know immediately he does not have 2/5, 5/7.   he might have 9/9, but i just don't see it because 1) he didn't raise pre flop and 2) i don't think he'd wait this long to call with top set.    he eventually calls my all in and flips over 9/5 off suit.   well, he's got outs, but only 8.  any 2 or 7 give him a straight and send me packing.   i don't like his call at all.  it's one of those calls that reeks of "i have a hand, but i'm gonna be stubborn and call off a lot of my chips and hope to get lucky because even i know i'm beat because you just came over the top and shoved on me".   thank goodness the poker gods were with me once more and the river was a most beautiful Kh.   whew!  now i'm sitting at over 50K.   time to cruise into the money while trying to pick up small pots here and there.  

i floated between about 55K and 45K for a good while and eventually we busted the money bubble and were down to 4 people.   next out gets $112, but the blinds are getting large.....they're now at 1500/3K.   i didn't come here today to make $2.   that won't even cover my bloody gas today.    the youngest kid and worst player at the table wants to chop immediately.........we all ignore him.  i know i'm better than him, but the other two guys left aren't gonna be easy to beat......especially the guy to my immediate right.   his name is ruben and he clearly knows how to play cards well (i.e.- please God don't let me get tangled up in big pot with ruben).   i get on a small card rush and raise about 4 hands in a row from whatever position i'm in and take all 4 hands down pre flop.  that's a lot of extra chips right now that i can really use.   i'm up just over 60K now.   finally ruben calls the other good players all in with 9/9.  the other guy flips over A/9 and all i can think is NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ace.   3rd place cash is $250. 

so now we're down to 3.   time to knock out the youngin'.   there were several hands where i limped in the small blind against the young kid's big blind.   he checked it every single time and didn't raise.  this is good.  out playing him post flop is a no brainer because he's really playing scared, but what i'm really hoping for is to wake up with a great hand, limp and have him shove.   i set it all up with him hours ago on one of the breaks.   he had lost a huge pot to a player earlier in the tourney because he/young kid called off a ton of chips on a draw.    turns out his opponent had complete trash and the young kids K high was actually good.    so i basically told him that at some point he's gonna have to take control of the hand and get it all in and apply pressure to his opponents.  lucky for me he listened. 

ruben folds his position on the button and i look down and see the holy grail of cards when you're 3 handed......................two absolutely gorgeous bloody ACES.   that's right..........two of 'em.  after i sneak a peak at my cards i pretend to look at my chips by facing my head downwards.  when i do this the kid makes the mistake of taking his eyes off me and i stare over at him.   i don't know what he has but his face gives off the CLEAR tell that he likes what he just looked at.   he's got 15K behind his posted 3K big blind, so i know 100% he's about to put it all in if i limp.  so i decided to let him do the work and i limp.   right on cue he shoves all in and i call and flip over my AA before he can get his chips in the middle of the table.    mind you, it's not a bad shove on his part.  i would have done the same.  so the kid fails to hit anything, bricks the whole board and is out. so now it's ruben and i.  i have 79K +/- and he has 62K +/-.   i don't like that at this blind level.   it's too close without much room to work with and i'm up against one of the better players that played in this tourney.   so i ask to stop the clock so ruben and i can discuss a deal. 

i'd already been thinking about a chop at heads up for at least an hour now.   like i said, i was absolutely determined to take down 1st place cash today.   2nd was $528 and 1st was $1078.   i suggested two things:  1) we split the money even at $803 each and play for the ticket (free buy in to a $650 tourney NEXT may 2012 which gives you a chance to win a seat into the WSOP main event.  winning that $650 tourney is worth about $12K, just not in cash).    ruben makes it very clear that he wants the ticket.  he doesn't care about 1st place cash and he doesn't want to chop the money and then keep playing for the ticket.   he wants the ticket and that's all he really cares about.   so i give it to him and in exchange he takes 2nd place prize money and i take down 1st place prize money.   i got 11 more of these $110 tourneys to worry about winning a ticket, so for now hand me that cash.  i got a trip to london to take later this year people and todays earnings won't even cover the bloody plane ticket. 

i tip the dealer $40 (yes, i'm cheap, but i'm also quite broke right now) and i clear $928 in profit for the tourney (making $232 an hour ain't so bad for a sunday eh?).     i really can't explain how good the last 3-4 weeks have been for me playing cards, but i hope this is a telling of things to come for me.  i've busted my butt learning this game over the last 5 years and actually no limit hold em, or "no fold em hold em" as i like to call it, is my LEAST favorite poker game.   i like horse, plo, stud, omaha 8, stud 8 and razz.   i find those games much more intriguing and much more stimulating to this old brain of mine.  

how i so wish i could play the $45 re buy on tuesday night again as i've cashed in that tourney 3 out of 3 times i've played it.   unfortunately i can't as i have a gig with copeland and the gang. mind you, i do love playing with those fellas, but it looks like this tuesday night tourney is gonna be my bread and butter for awhile.........i at least hope so.   clearly i can't always cash in it, but even if i bust out of the next 3 i'm still way ahead.  THE most important thing is that i've found a game i can beat with consistency.  i just have to hope none of the players catch onto my game and how i play OR get better.   even if they do it won't be for a long time.  they play too casual.   they have day jobs with regular pay checks, so it really doesn't matter if they lose $45-$100 every tuesday night.   BUT it matters a lot to me to cash in 1st or 2nd or chop that tuesday night tourney.    it makes a very big difference to me financially right now.   so the looser they play the better.   keep bleeding chips fellas because they essentially turn into hundred dollar bills in my pocket.  

i was out of there at 8pm and headed to the pub to celebrate.   my friend fish (aka jon hunt) joined me at the pub to hang for a bit.   small plug for his band "the thieving birds":  go see them soon. they are excellent. 

no more cards for me this week though.  i have 6 gigs the next 6 nights:  3 with copeland and 3 with ted russell kamp, but more on that was about cards.  although right now it's beginning to be about food.  i'm starving and all i've had since i got up at noon was coffee.   time to grab a snack and then head over to casa del nace tonight around 7pm and hang with my cigar buddies...................who like to talk about cards.   

what to eat...............what to eat...........................

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