Boredom can be a sadist.
It shoves a poorly-manicured thumbnail in your navel and twists. It drags you by your nose into dark corners where ne'er-do-wells skulk and rodents feed on trash. Perhaps more dangerous, it hangs you from a mountain summit and says, "So, you wanna play, huh? Well, then let's play."
Limit Hold'em has been boring me recently. I usually play $3/$6 limit on Empire. The variance has been a little high recently. That was of little concern to me. Variance is variance. I was getting a little tired, though, of playing perfect poker and losing. And, of course, even the most disciplined among us tend to tilt a little when the bad run runs too long. When that happens, I'll be the first to admit, I'm not playing perfect poker.
I was on the verge of something we all do from time to time. I was about to take a break. I was going to try to wrap my head around the game without playing it. Bobby Baldwin's chapter in Super System was about to get some serious work. I like to call myself a a limit player who dabbles in no-limit tourneys. If I was going to talk like that, I needed to back it up.
I see Limit Hold'em as a beer drinker's game. It's a steady game, well-paced, with little room for disaster unless you choose otherwise. Sure, it's possible to have a few too many and wake up wicked hungover. But there's little doubt, you made the choice to do that, and the hangover usually isn't that bad.
No-limit, as we all know, is for people who like to ride the lightning. It's a shot-drinker's game. If you choose to have one drink and wait for the nuts, you're going to be okay. But if you're really committed to playing the game, you've got to be willing to be hungover for three days. You've got to be willing to go broke.
As a semi-professional drinker, I know both games pretty well. I've suffered the victories. I've suffered the hangovers. I've made some decent money and I've almost gone broke a couple of times.
Simply put, those are the devils I know. And, frankly, I've been a little bored.
A bored poker player can be as dangerous as a bored drinker. When one gets bored, he starts to experiment. That brings us to Otis' latest experiment in chasing the high.
Two-hundred dollar buy-in Pot Limit.
After a recent final table finish in Empire's $25,000 guarantee Sunday night tourney, my bankroll was such that I could afford to lose $200. On a bored evening, I recently sat down at the $200 PL and decided to play.
I won $350 in a 45 minute session.
I stood up, and rightly, went out for a drink or ten. I ruminated over the possibilities for most of the evening. It seemed way too easy. I had hit and run the table for a sizable chunk of cash. There was a part of me that thought I had just found a poker utopia. Like anyone who buys a lottery ticket, I had visions of grandeur. The 45 minute session had just crowned me king of the poker world.
Of course, when I was thinking, I was drinking. I was no king. I was a guy sitting at a bar and trying to negotiate with the bartender. The Bait Shack had recently increased its draft price by 50%. I argued that since I had been drinking there since they opened, I should be grandfathered. I should get every third beer free. They didn't see things my way.
The next day, I sat back down and lost every bit if my winnings in two hands. Most of it left my stack when a guy called $150 against my king-high spade flush with AJo. He held the ace of spades and the fourth spade came on the river.
I considered myself no worse for the wear. It was an experiment in riding the lightning. I survived and vowed to return to $3/$6 limit as soon as I stopped cursing.
Had it not been for Pauly asking me to write a little something for his blog-zine, I might never have ventured back into the world of $200 PL. But since he asked, and I was writing, I thought I'd sit and play a little more. I entered a $20+$2 multi and sat at a $200 PL table.
It became a four-hour session. I wrote the piece (hopefully to be featured in an upcoming edition of Truckin') and played steady poker.
When I stood up, I had placed 9th in the tourney. What's more, my $200 buy-in had turned into $733.
So, here I sit, 12 hours after a very nice winning session. It was not a hit and run. It was steady poker, played well. I remember laying down top two pair to a $90 bet when there was a possible straight on the board and two to a flush as well. I had my head wrapped around the game and didn't feel like I was riding the lightning. I felt confident and sober.
Still, as the title of this post suggests, I know I'm walking a fine line. While my bankroll could stand a slight correction, I don't know that I'm qualified or wealthy enough to play at that level.
More interesting, however...what is Otis going to do?