I remember the night my future wife finally came around to my way of thinking. After nine months of aborted courtship, fantastically stupid college promiscuity, and an unfortunate period of facial hair growth, I'd given up on the concept that she may someday be my bride. I'd given up to the point that I'd started drinking Jagermeister from the bottom of the bottle and hanging out at The Blue Note more than my apartment.
Then, one night, we found each other at The Note and inexplicably she kissed me.
Through a fog of surprise, waning Jagermeister intoxication, and painful dance music, I remember thinking, "Now all you have to do is not screw this up."
Last night as the WPBT tourney worked its way down to 50 players, I remember thinking much the same thing.
Like I always do, I'd started playing before the tournament. Just to refamiliarize myself with the interface, I played a $20 SNG. After suffering a rather ugly beat on the second hand of the tournment, I never again rose above my starting stack of chips. What makes it all the more odd is that by some masseuse's stroke of fate, I found myself heads-up with about 500 chips to my opponent's 12K+. The circumstances of my unexplained rise to the money notwithstanding, the deficit I had to make up seemed overhwelming. So, imagine my surprise when I started playing some amazing heads-up play (by my standards) and found myself with a 3-1 chip lead.
That would be a pretty amazing story, I think, if I hadn't fucked it up and ended up losing the heads up match (I think it went on for half an hour).
Nonetheless, I left the little SNG thinking, "I'm playing well."
I rarely will admit that to myself, even if it's true. But, frankly, I was playing a good game last night.
Ever since my second WPBT win, I've not gone into a sanctioned event with my A-game. The online tournies have fallen at times when I was rather distracted and the live Holiday Classic...well, you already know that story.
But last night, I felt my game. Anyone who plays poker just knows it. The have their game on.
I looked around to see that my brother, Dr. Jeff, had bought in, as had a non-blogging buddy who said while he was not a blogger, he was more than a reader.
"I'm a commenter," he typed in chat.
It was like a Mt. Otis garage game with more than 150 people.
As the tournament started, I started feeling a deep sense for when my hands were good and when they weren't. I know that's how I should feel all the time. But, frankly, I haven't been feeling my game recently. Last night, I was.
On one particular hand, I raised either 2x or 3x the BB UTG with AK. I got a caller and when the flop came down KJ8, I bet out about the size of the pot. My opponent raised all in.
I called for time and thought. He might've called my raise with KJ, but I made him for a better player than that. He was in middle position and I don't know many decent players who would call an UTG raise in middle position with KJ. I thought for a moment he might have jacks, but I figured he would've re-raised pre-flop if he did. That left me with the only possible hand he could hold that would beat me: pocket eights.
As the seconds ticked away on my time clock, I checked my chips and discovered if I lost the hand, I'd be left with only 900 chips. I don't like playing from behind if I don't have to. I could lay down the TPTK and still have a decent playable stack. At the same time, I wasn't playing to sneak into the money. I wanted to win.
Pocket eights...did he have it? If he had pocket eights and put me on an king, I thought, he just would've cold-called my bet, let me bet into him on the turn, then pushed all in. Maybe not. Maybe if he had the eights he put me on exactly on AK and wanted all my chips right there.
After working through the scenarios in my head, I realized I just couldn't lay the hand down. If he had the eights, he had the eights. I called, he showed AJ for second pair, and never improved.
From the rail, he asked, "What took you so long?"
The answer: See above.
And so I felt good. The players were falling off like drunk birds on a wire and I honestly thought I had a shot.
So, imagine my surprise when I tripped and fell into a big pile of stupid.
Two hands, two mistakes
We inched nearer and nearer the money and I'd been getting cold-decked. The greatest danger in getting cold-decked is that when a marginal hand appears, it looks like the nuts.
KT is not the nuts. It's the balls. And they are old man balls.
I justified it my head as a blind steal.
Yeah, from middle position.
I don't even want to think about this hand, but in the interest of full disclosure, I raised 3x the BB from MP with KT. Middle position? I'm a loser.
Sure enough, I got a caller in the cutoff. The flop missed me, but I bet out anyway and he called. After that, I had to give up. I still thought I had a shot a the final table if I got away from the hand right there. I checked-folded to a bet on the turn and called that my one mistake for the tournament.
Although I haven't seen the inside of a strip club in ages, I'll admit right now in front of everybody, I've spent my share of time in the dens of -EV. And, frankly, one of my favorite things to do is just listen to a non-dancing stripper talk and tell her story, no matter how made-up and depressing.
So, yeah, I listen to strippers.
When the recent flame-war began over Stripper By Night's assertion that The Hammer was for losers, I did my best to stay out of it. Sounded to me like the Stripper was either trying to pick a fight or stating the blatantly obvious to her own peril. No need to get in the middle of that.
That's because we all know The Hammer, while powerful, is certainly the worst starting hand in hold'em and shouldn't be used indiscriminately. And by indiscriminately, I mean, in the waning moments of a a tournament where one is playing well.
Now, to be fair, I played The Hammer three times in last night's WPBT. The first two times, I won with it (although forgot to show it the second time).
The third time was a few hands after I played KT in middle position.
Why, oh why, did I have to find The Hammer under the gun? Why, oh why, did I feel obligated to play it?
Under The Hammer rules, I couldn't limp in with it, so I raised it up and, after the KT debacle I shouldn't be surprised that I got re-raised. The raise was pretty small but good sense (yeah, right) kicked in and I folded.
Maybe I should've listened to the stripper.
There. I said it. Flame away. I deserve it.
I got moved fairly quickly after that and with T2500 in chips, found KQ in spades on my big blind. The button made what appeared to be a blind steal. The SB called all-in and with barely enough chips to last two more rounds, I decided my odds were good enough to make the call.
The button turned up 44 and the SB turned up KJ. I felt good about my hand, but ended up in third place when the SB made a straight on the turn (the same card that gave me a pair of queens) and the button made a set on the river.
And that was it. I busted out in 34th place and almost 12 hours later, I still hate myself.
My commenting buddy ended up making the final table and finishing sixth place (nice job, Ted). I sweated him and the rest of the table until the final dramatic finish.
Mrs. Otis walked in just as the final hand played out, so I shut down the poker machine shortly after that and headed toward bed, wondering why I cared so much.
It wasn't the time investment. It certainly wasn't the cheap buy-in. And really, it wasn't the pride lost in not finishing better in the WPBT.
It was that I made mistakes. It would've been easier if I had lost set over set like BadBlood did. It would've been easier if, like Iggy, my opponent had sucked out a set with AT to beat an over pair. It would've been easier if, like Dr. Jeff, I'd made the right move at a pot and gotten beat on the river. It would've been easier if, like CJ, I'd played a vulnerable hand but put the exact right read on my opponent and lost anyway, A5 vs. A2.
Nope. I didn't get unlucky. I didn't get sucked out on.
Simply, I played a good game for two hours then threw it all away in two stupid, stupid hands.
Poker is a a lot like that needy girl you dated in college. You can do everything perfectly for months and months, but the girl and the cards have no memory. The girl asks, "What have you done for me lately?" And so do the cards.
Me? I wined and dined the cards, then in a vulnerable moment, went out and slept with their sister.
It's worse than a four-hour erection.
I'm going to seek medical help immediately.