If you're not one of those people who believe there is a certain balance to the world, I'm not sure how you wake up in the morning. Without the "even-Steven," yin and yang, Julia Roberts and Lyle Lovett nature of balance, I don't think I could bear to breathe. After all, it's the "what come around goes around" mantra that lets us all believe that eventually karma will turn our way and that prick who laughs everytime he sucks out on us will eventually lose while holding quad aces.
Of course, this the only way I can explain (and, yea verily, accept) the fact that my one-time rush at the large buy-in tournament tables has slid to a grinding and blue-balling halt that has served to turn me into an introspective and often grumpy individual. After six for eight money finishes in tournament with buy-in of more than $150 (including two final table appearances), I have fallen into a hole that I'm fairly sure I dug.
Rule number one: When you're running well, don't talk about it. If you do, you've invited the fates to kick you squarely in the boys.
Outed on Empire
It was during this backslide, a tumultuous and nasty run of poor concentration and carelessness, that I found myself in a little $75+$7 on Empire. I justified the entry because it appeared the overlay for the $10K guarantee was going to be susbstantial.
Within the first ten minutes, yessir, within the first level I had dropped from my initial T1000 starting stack to a mere T20. How does that happen? Well, Otis catches a queen high raggedy rainbow flop with AQ in the small blind. A queen on the turn ain't the nuts, but it feels like it. Of course, my opponent holds a pocket pair and flopped a set on the turn to beat me with a boat.
On the verge of giving up for the rest of April, I managed to build my T20 up to T100. And then the T100 up to T400. And then up to T1000. By the end of level two, I was back up to my starting stack. By the second break I was sitting at T5000.
It was about this time that I enjoyed a moment bloggers like Dr. Pauly and BadBlood have written about. A reader (hey, Poker Diver) who knows Otis lore from this blog and PokerStars blogs, popped in to wish me luck.
In the end, the luck moved around the table the wrong way. Once we reached the money, I felt like I had a decent shot at the final table. Sadly, I got all-in preflop with my pocket kings and my opponent flopped a queen to match the two in his hand.
Seventeenth place paid a rocking $100, handing me an $18 profit for my time. In short, the only thing I got out of it was a good chip/chair story.
I tossed the laptop in a full laundry basket and fell alseep to restless dreams about my wife going homicidal and lawless. Seems like every time I have these dreams, I find myself running from the law in some way.
I think I have a guilty conscience.
The Country Club Game
It was 11:30am Saturday morning and I was speeding down a two-lane highway south of my little burg. A bar singer from my original hometown belted out of the CD player with the words "No one's gonna stop to pick up a stranger, and the stranger that you look, the faster they drive by." I had the window down, even though it was too chilly for such a thing. I ate Nutter-Butters, pounded Diet Mountain Dew, and checked my face in the rearview mirror.
I was on my way to a $250 buy-in NL Hold'em tournament at a local country club. When I pulled into the parking lot, there was a brand new black Corvette with the license plate "FLOPASET" and a H2Hummer with the license plate "THENUTZ."
I pulled out an envelope that contined another envelope that countained yet another envelope, inside which was my entire cash bankroll. Exactly why I'd chosen to bring the whole thing, I don't know. There was a part of me that believed I was about to enter the land of milk and honey, where rich boys play for real cash and Otis could finance his summer plans.
I pulled a few hundred bucks out of the inner envelope, packed the three envelopes together, then hid them all in a fourth envelope inside Emilio, my SDV-SUV. I stepped out, and, almost as an after thought grabbed a pair of cheap sunglasses to go along with my three card protectors, smaller roll of cash, Certs mini-mints, and two Diet Mountain Dews.
I will admit, as I walked up to the nice-appointed Country Club clubhouse, I had a brief vision of the movie "Rounders" where Mike and Worm fleece the rich boys with the help of that good looking, curly-headed girl. The thoughts disappeared though as I climbed the stairs to the second floor.
A couple dozen people milled around the room. I recognized a few from earlier games at The Mark, BadBlood's, or in the nearby town of Easley. There were other folks who looked familiar, but I couldn't place them.
Chafing dishes lined the walls and would eventually be filled with appetizers. A guy dressed like a butler came around taking drink orders. Giant windows opened up the view of the first tee at the golf course. I stood and watched as one hacker battled the wind and splashed into the water hazard on his first tee-shot. Serves the screwball right for hitting from the back tees on a windy day.
It took a while to figure out how many players we actually had. It was just enough time for me to lose my nerves, then get them back, then lose them again. I passed the time talking to Rank, a regular at BadBlood's who regularly-- and calmly-- sucks out on me. Rank had just come back from Vegas and had nice things to say about the new MGM poker room. That's where I'm staying in June, so I promised to check it out.
Ultimately, the tournament director accounced we had 31 people putting up $250 a piece. He would be paying four places.
False impressions of my own creation
There's a guy who used to work at my old job. The guy was one of those people who never shut up. One time, I tried to out-talk him. I cut him off in mid-sentence. Rather than stopping the word he was on, he hung on it. "Chicken finnnnnnnnnnnnn" he sputtered, the air slipping from his lungs while I talked. Amazingly, he held the word until I finished talking and continued his setence as if I had said nothing at all.
The guy who got sat immediately to my left in the Country Club game could've been Mr. Talker's brother. He sounded like him, looked quite a bit like him, and had facial impressions like him. The only thing was, although I had immediately pegged him as a dolt because he looked like Mr. Talker, he wasn't an idiot. Within the first 30-minute level, he had liberated one player's entire stack holding pocket aces that made a boat on the turn (incidentally, his opponent had such a marginal hand, I thought it might've been a case of chip dumping. Being new to the game, though, I kept my mouth shut).
In the first hour and a half, I played few memorable hands. Pocket jacks on the button got two callers but looked ugly after an ace came on the flop. AQ in the small blind flopped two-pair and had a bettor behind me with a weak ace. Ready for the check-raise, the board paired on the turn and put a possible flush out there on the turn. I won the hand, but didn't maximize my profits on it.
At the first break I was just barely above my T2000 starting stack.
During the break, I got into a conversation with a guy who noticed my WPBT Holiday Classic T-shirt.
"What's that" he asked.
I did my best to explain the concept of online poker writing, yada yada, "Have you ever heard of poker blogs?"
That's when a guy dressed in all black behind me said, "I had a blogger write about me before. I was in Nassau at the WPT event and sat next to Daniel Negreanu all day."
I cut him off, "That was me."
Oddly enough, a local player here played at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and I had blogged about him earlier this year. When he gave me his name (and oddly, an approximation of his net worth), I figured out who he was. His name is one synonymous with a chain of car dealerships here.
I wandered around the room during the break. I'd already been pegged as "That writer guy" and several poeple stopped to ask me when my next article is coming out (incidentally, the anwer is next month in CardPlayer).
A few of the guys stroked my ego for a while, either peppering me with questions about my travels or complimenting me on the restraint I showed when I flopped the two-pair with he AQ. I knew it was all bullshit. These guys are poker players and they don't give a damn about me. They want my money.
Then one guy stopped the conversation and looked at me.
"Has anyone ever told you that you look like Tom Green?" he asked, as if it was the most serious question in the world.
I looked at him and tried to figure out of he was needling me or not. I explained that, no, I'd never been told I looked like Tom Green, that he was the first to ever bring up such a possibility. I said I considered myself more a "Josh Charles" or, if I'm lucky, "Wil Wheaton" type of character. I'm the average white boy. And I'm not Canadian.
Given, in the past month, I've let some scrub brush grow out on my face in what will likely be a failed experiment in testosterone fiddling. Perhaps that's what led the guy to liken me to the Canadian shock comic.
I tried not to think about it, but it stuck in my head as I went back for the second 90 minutes of play.
Again, there was nothing particularly remarkable about my play except for my lack of it. I rarely got involved, dutifully folding any ace that didn't have paint attached to it, shunning suited connectors, and playing very careful with just about any hand I saw. It was no way to win a tournament, but I was there more for a $250 lesson in table performance.
Over the course of the next four hours, I never rose above T3000 in chips. I established such a tight image that no one would play with me. I even ran a successful semi-bluff against a guy who laid down top pair.
By the time we had made it down to 12 players, I was desperately shortstacked. I hated myself for playing such a weak game and not picking up more chips. I finally pushed in with pocket nines and, true to form, nobody called. The blinds sustained me long enough to lay down the best hand (for the third time in one day) and make it to the final table.
I am not a Rank amateur
I called G-Rob in the break before the final table. When I told him the blinds were at 150/300 and I had less than 900 in chips, he laughed.
"Well, you can at least hope to draw the button and survive for...ten more hands."
I agreed. That would be my strategy: get lucky.
When I returned to the tournament area, I drew a seat in the middle of the very nice table (race track along the outer edge green speed cloth in the middle, etc). True to form, BadBlood's regular, Rank, drew the button, putting me directly in the big blind.
I paid no attention to my cards as the entire table folded around to Rank on the button. He simply called. The small blind, perhaps thinking I would push all in for my remaining 525 chips (+300 BB), folded. I took a look at my cards and didn't hate them. I held K8o. I decided I wouldn't push ...yet.
The flop came down KQx. Without a second thought, I announced, "I'm all in."
The table laughed at me. Apparently, I was a bit to forceful when I made my announcement. One guy said, "I believe you, man."
Rank thought for a few seconds, long enough for me to know I was ahead. How far ahead, I couldn't tell. I figured him for a Q in his hand to be thinking so long. if he were to call it would be 525 into a 1275 pot. Not quite 2.5:1 odds.
Finally, Rank announced, "I'll call."
"I have the king," I said, flipping over the sure winner, the hand that would surely give me enough chips to double up once more and play for the money.
Quietly, Rank turned over 9T.
I was thankful for the call. He was drawing dead to runner-runner or a jack (I suspect he had to know that...).
Rank, dealing from the button, picked up the cards, burned one, and peeled a jack from the deck, filling in his gutshot, and maintaiing his reputation as the Suck Out King.
I could only muster, "That's appropriate."
I stood from the table and decided it was time to quit playing for the day. I bypassed a rocking $500 max-buy-in NL game and headed for the house.
When I got home, my wife, kid, and a goodly portion of the house were covered in puke. The family had gone down to a little festival called Artisphere and the kid had gotten sick. Now everything was drenched in vomit and I was home from a poker tournament where I had busted out short of the money.
Just fine, I thought.
After the kid stopped puking (which he later resumed, by the way), I suggested to the wife we rent a movie and eat a big mess of shrimp in front of the TV.
I popped up to Hollywood Video, grabbed "Ocean's 12", and stood in line.
A guy and his two son's walked up and Dad gave me the look I've seen many times. It's a look that is almost always follwed by, "Hey, I know you. You're on the TV."
I gave him a friendly nod and "howyadoin'."
He looked at me again, closer this time. And then, I kid you not, he said, "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Tom Green?"