My foray back into blogger tournaments hasn't gone the way I hoped. My game has been solid, but not spectacular. I've avoided the big mistakes but have also failed to take advantage of a few opportunities. In both the Run Good Challenge and last night's Turkey Day Cup hosted by Pauly, I've found myself in pretty good shape deep in the tournament.
And then it happened.
In the RCG, my AQ fell to AT. In the Turkey Day Cup, my AK lost to Joanne's A6. Not only did the latter one cripple me (I went out shortly there after when my push with A9 was called by AJ and I didn't improve), but it also virtually cost me my last longer bet with Joanne. She would go on to carry my chips into 5th place, I believe.
When you get all in with someone preflop holding a bigger ace, you're generally a 3-to-1 favorite. Maybe that's my problem. You can't exactly be a Luckbox if you're always getting your chips in when you're ahead!
And, frankly, it looks pretty ugly. Here's the preview.
Week 1 of the PokerListings Run Good Challenge v.2 was moderately successful. Despite not finishing in the money, I was happy to find myself in the final 5 and I never got all my money in behind (um... perhaps that was my problem).
Here's how it went down:More in this Poker Blog! -->
My starting table looked like this:
s1: Benjo (Everyone's favorite Frenchman)
s2: Michelle (The Cougar)
s5: Jason (The Tennessee Spaceman)
s6: Kid Dynamite
s7: The Original Luckbox
s8: Pokerati Dan
s9: The Poker Shrink
The first big hand came in Level 1, and it gave us Gigli. I'm sitting in the small blind when I look down at the most powerful hand in poker, The HAMMER. Kid Dynamite makes a standard raise to 60 from the button. Understanding the correct way to play the HAMMER, I re-raise to 200.
"I am getting abused," Kid Dynamite says before calling. He had just lost the previous hand and likely felt like he was getting pushed around.
The flop couldn't have been much better, coming down A22. Now I just had to hope Kid Dynamite was holding a big Ace. I coyly checked and KD bet 210. I wasted no time in raising to 650.
"Nice playing with you guys," KD said as he pushed all in. I quickly called and KD showed AQ. The turn and the river were inconsequential and KD was out.
"Hammer," I typed in the chat box.
"Of COURSE," Jason chimed in.
"Is that Jordan," KD asked. My fragile ego could hardly take being unrecognized. I told him my name, to which he said, "Don't know the luckbox."
"Luckbox 1, KD 0," Pauly chimed in from the rail followed by, "The Luckbox lives!" from Change100.
"Won't forget the Luckbox now," I joked.
"His swollen nuts will always recall," Pauly added. "That's for calling me Jordan, punk!" Pauly continued, "What's my name now, b****?"
As Dan from Pokerlisting finally declared from the rail, it was a standard first bust for a blogger tourney and I suppose it was fitting that it came from me. I hope Kid Dynamite can forgive me.
The next hand, I nearly busted Pokerati Dan when my AK hit a K-high flop. I lead out and got raised by Dan. The board presented a possible straight draw, so I pushed and he folded. I'm not sure what he was trying to say as the chat read, "*******."
We were in Level 3 when I got my second hammer of the afternoon. I'm really kicking myself now about how I played it. As before, I faced a raise in front of me to 150 and I again re-raised to 400. The PokerShrink called.
The flop came down A3J. I wimped out. The pot was 850 and I had 2485 in front of me. The Shrink had just 1205 behind. I suppose I could have bet half the pot and if he pushed, I fold. If he didn't have an Ace, there was no way he was staying the in hand. If he did, I would have wasted 800 chips with The Hammer. Instead, I weakly checked, as did the Shrink.
The turn was a 4, giving me a gutshot wheel draw. That was probably a bad card for me because it actually encouraged me to check, looking for the miracle 5 on the river. Again, a solid bet here may win the hand, although not as likely as a continuation bet on the flop would have. We both checked again.
The river was a 6 and I couldn't find it in me to bluff at it. If he had a pocket pair of any kind, he would likely see my river bet as exactly what it was... a desperate bluff. He showed pocket 8s and took the pot. "I'm a wimp," I declared to the table.
It wasn't long before we were at the final table which looked like this:
s5: Jason Spaceman
s6: Dan from PL
s8: Amy C
s9: Poker Shrink
I started the final table 3rd in chips. Things got ugly pretty quickly as Michelle knocked out Change100 when the Cougar's AK turned broadway against Rockets. Michelle next knocked out short-stacked Benjo when her 77 held up against T8s.
I wasn't seeing much of anything. I attempted one blind steal with K8 from the SB but Amy C read me right and pushed all in. I was suddenly down to my starting stack and in last place of the 7 players remaining.
After getting blinded down to 1135, I found the Hilton sisters on the button. Pauly obliged with an early position raise to 450 and he was virtually priced in to call my all-in raise. He did, and his A3s never improved. I doubled up.
Pauly's luck only got worse as his AQ went down to Dan's A4 with a 4 on the flop. Crippled from there, it was only a few hands before Amy's AK knocked out Pauly's AJ when a K on the flop sealed it.
Michelle tried her best from there to thin the field even further, but she doubled up Jason with her 89s vs. Jason's AA and then she doubled up the Shrink when his KQ turned Broadway against her A2.
A few hands later, Dan would bust Jason when his AK held up against QJ. We were down to 5 players and one away from the bubble. My cards were cold, but I was still alive, sitting fifth in chips with just 1895 and blinds at 125/250/25.
That's when I looked down at Big Slick. The Shrink raised to 750 in front of me and I had an easy decision. I pushed, he called, and he flipped his own Big Slick. After the predictable chop, I was back up just over 2K in chips.
The very next hand, I get AQ. This time, it was Michelle who raised to 750. I quickly pushed all in and when she hesitated with her call, I knew there was an excellant chance I had her dominated. She called, seemingly reluctantly, and flipped over AT.
I liked my chances... except that I play much better from behind. When the T came on the flop, I knew it was likely over. A Jack on the flop gave me a straight draw so I asked the dealer for a King. It never came, and I was out.
It was a disappointing end to the afternoon, but I don't think I was outplayed anywhere. I got lucky early with the Hammer, then I misplayed the Hammer and then I found myself in a cold streak of cards. Had my AQ held up at the end, I would have been up to 4566 and within just a round of blinds of the chip leader.
That's poker, right?
(FYI: I'm working on getting comments up again, please stand by.)<-- Hide More
This just in from the Up for Poker Midwest Bureau (aka, my brother Dr. Jeff).
This is a new one as far as I can tell. How to make poker legal? Flash the deck at all the players just before you deal and it makes it a skill game. Or something like that.
"Wichita entrepreneur Shawn Riley thinks he's found the profitable sweet spot between free bar poker and the real thing, played for money, that is both legal and unregulated...The difference between Kandu and poker is the "flash," a two- or three-second glimpse of the shuffled deck that each player gets as the dealer fans every card in the deck face up across the table before the cut and deal. After the cut the bottom card in the deck is also exposed."
Full article in Kansas City Star.
So Up For Poker has languished a bit over the past two months. I wish I had a good excuse, but I don't. Otis, G-Rob and I have all been busy for various reasons, but it's not like we've been significantly more busy than in the past.
The good news is that I've got a great excuse to write again. Matthew from over at PokerListings has invited me to participate in the Run Good Challenge v.2. It's a series of four events with a total prize pool of $5500. If you don't remember, Change100 took down the top prize last time.
This time around, I'm going to be up against some formidable foes including the defending champ and her stoner boyfriend, Dr. Pauly, as well as Chops from WCP, and Michalski from Pokerati among others. I'm kinda hoping this turns into a televised event, because I'll also be competing against poker pro Liz Lieu and Bluff cover girl Christina Lindsey (I encourage you to click through the last two links).
I guess I should start practicing again... don't want to embarrass myself against this lineup! If any of the other participants have an idea for a prop bet... you know where to find me!
The poker room of the Fiesta Casino in the Ramada Herradura just outside of San Jose, Costa Rica is a six or seven table area that is just big enough to fit the players, a couple of aimless cocktail waitresses, and Humberto Brenes.
When the men get massages, they do it with their shirts off and buxom, camel-toed therapists kneading away elbow-deep at their fat-backs. Out of simplicity and in the face of a 540-1 colones to dollar exchange rate, the poker games are played with dollar-value chips. Against all better judgment, the first seat I took in the room was at a 5/10 half No-Limit Hold'em and half Pot-Limit Omaha game.More in this Poker Blog! -->
There is no excuse for a person with $2,000 in his pocket to sit down in this game. The game was populated with locals, two of which were Scandinavian transplants with a fluent grasp on the Spanish language and an apparent intimate knowledge of everyone in the room. There is no excuse for a guy who spends more time playing Razz than Hold'em or Omaha to sit in a game in which most pots were $300 pre-flop and any play after the flop would result in his stack being in the middle. I discovered, however, there was one excuse.
It was the only game in the room.
"Let's just take it easy," a local named Alex said in English. "In eight hours we'll be playing 25/50 with $25,000 in front of us."
It seemed like hubris, but the way the game was going, the guy could've been right. Three or four of the players at the table were fairly good. Everyone else was dreadful and bordering on clueless. I, admittedly, was underfunded. It only took me two hours of seeing no hand past the flop to realize this. I catch on as quick as most husbands my age.
I turned to an American pro you know, but whose name I've forgotten how to spell and said, "Take this seat. I'm wasting it." He took the seat and didn't say, "Yeah, you are."
I took my chips to the cage where the cashier paid me in $50 bills. It wasn't dinner time yet.
It's hard being in a poker country and not being able to find a game I'm properly-funded to play. Sure, I could've sat there and played nut-only poker, but that is just about as boring as not playing at all. For the two hours I sat, I felt like a guy in the G-Vegas underground named Whitey. He plays in all the games, folds 99% of his hands, and only plays the nuts on the river. Someone once asked, "Whitey, do you enjoy playing poker?" He answered with one word.
"No," he said, and then probably folded.
I took a walk, went back to my room, and then realized I was hungry. Room service seemed like a cop-out, so I went out in search of food. There are three restaurants in this hotel. Nearly every one was empty. I went to the sushi place last. It was barren and didn't have a visible bar.
"Buenos noches, senor!" said the guy at the door.
"Just looking around," I said. Not that it mattered.
I finally wandered back to the Fiesta bar and ordered an Imperial. The Texas game was on and they were losing. Two elderly Americans sat at the other end of the bar drinking Jim Beam on the rocks. Another American, one who had announced in the elevator earlier in the day that he had gas, showed up for a second. As he walked away from the bar, he told the bartender to give me another Imperial.
"For earlier in the elevator," he said, and then walked away.
As the bartender sat my second beer on the bar, I wandered over to the poker room and saw another game getting set up.
"Dos-Cinco," the dealer said.
I laid $500 in front of the two-seat and went to retrieve my beer.
This all looks like a set-up for a story in which I won several thousand dollars, got jumped on my way back to my room, and have a black eye to show for it. That's actually what I was thinking about as I ran my $500 up to $900 in about 30 minutes. I hit a gutty, played two pair to perfection on a flushed board, and called down a bluff with third pair. The players weren't very good and I saw myself winning a ton of money and then getting killed for it.
That's not what happened, nor what this story is about.
In fact, I sat for about five hours in total. I realized half the people at the table were playing with a percent of each other. I also realized that, even if they were soft-playing each other, most of them were bad enough that it didn't matter. If I hadn't missed fourteen outs in one hand and had my kings cracked all-in against a flush draw, I probably would've hit my $2,000 goal for the night. Instead, I finished with a one dollar profit. I saved the chip to remind me of the time I won one dollar.
In fact, this story is about what happened a couple hours into my session. In a scene that smacked of Vito Corleone walking down the street and picking up some oranges, Humberto Brenes walked into the room with two sons in tow. The room got quiet for just one moment, and then half of the people stood up to kiss his ring. Or something like that.
It was hard to say how many of the people in the room respected Brenes or all he has meant to poker in this country. He is, by far, the best known Tico in the poker world and his emergence into the small poker room made it clear that everyone knew that. It was something between Norm walking into Cheers and Doyle Brunson walking into the low-limit section at Bellagio. Everyone knew him, everyone wanted him to know they knew him, and everybody played their part. Still I couldn't figure out if he was Don Corleone or Doyle to the Costa Rican poker players. I don't suppose it matters. The effect is largely the same.
In an odd coincidence, Brenes took the very seat I had abandoned earlier. He alternated between playing pots and stepping to an adjacent table to watch his sons play. I could only think, for better or worse, I am not Humberto Brenes, Godfather of Costa Rican poker.
Sometime after midnight (although I thought it was just after 11pm), I went to the cage to cash out my initial buy-in (she gave me $100 bills this time). As I stood in line, I saw a cross between bingo, the lottery, and roulette. That is to say, it was a typical roulette felt, but instead of a wheel, there was a giant spherical bird cage full of numbered balls. After spinning the thing for five minutes, the dealer let one ball fall out (black ten) and paid it off. I couldn't decide it it was more, less, or just as random as a ball on a wheel.
And again, I'm not sure it mattered.
That was all less than 24 hours ago. In about an hour, I'll venture back into the fray. If all I've been told is true about the level of play here, I should make money in the short time I have to play. And if not, for a final time, I'm not sure it matters.<-- Hide More