"Eighty percent of success is showing up." - Woody AllenIf only it were that easy. I had a bad feeling about the tournament. Why? Because I was in the middle of a horrible nightmare. What's worse? Getting no cards and losing or getting good cards and losing? OK. We're on the same friggin' page here. Let's continue. Ever since I arrived in Vegas, I have never seen so many pairs. Pocket pairs. High ones. The Jerkoffs. The Hiltons. The Dudes. (My nicknames for pocket J-Q-K). And this ain't online poker I'm moaning about (I'm convinced the sites are programmed to give out a higher percentage of better hands than in "real life") and I'm talking about Las Fuckin' Vegas. I was playing live games daily and saw a ridiculous amount of top tier playing hands... so much that I've been able to play much tighter and muck those marginal hands which got me in a slew of trouble. It's easy to fold an A-small when you know a pocket pair is coming soon. I eagerly kissed the illustrious K-Jo good bye especially when I knew the Hilton Sisters are right around the corner. I haven't played KJo in weeks. And that Varkoyni hand... Q-10? See ya! Have fun in Brooklyn with all the other babushkas.
So in Vegas I got hot cards. Sizzling. I had burn marks on my fingers from all the hot cards I got, just like a crackhead developed after firing up too many late afternoon hits off the crackpipe. Ensuing, was a desperate series of beat downs.... like when those baton swinging, water spraying, juiced-up Chicago cops beat up all those hippies en masse at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. It was bloody chaos. Outdrawn. Badbeated. River'd. Smacked down like a redheaded child at a family picnic. Monsters losing to drunken field mice. You get the gist.
And this past weekend on the tables at Party Poker were no better. Al Can't Hang witnessed the carnage, as did many of you.
Exhibit 1a: Sun, 11:17am EST... 4-4 losing to 3-4o. Party Fish called my preflop raise in LP and my reraised me on the flop 2-4-7 after I made my set. When he caught the straight on the river, he wrote in the chat. "Sorry, I thought you were bluffing?"With a distasteful shake of my head, I kept plodding though the online waters and saw great hand after hand being taken down. It spooked me for sure, and was part of the reason I walked into Ferrari's not feeling so good about my game. But like Woody Allen said...
The NL Tournament PlayersThere were four guys named Mike at the game. But I was most happiest that Swish showed up! He moved to DC recently and made the drive just to play and see everyone. That was way cool. The games have lacked a certain... je ne sais quois... since Swish moved. Anyway, everyone got $100 in chips to equal their buy-in. Top 4 places paid: 50%, 25%, 15%, and 10%. $500 to the winner. I was looking to make my money back... at least.
Seat 1: Pauly
Seat 2: Austin aka College Boy
Seat 3: Coach
Seat 4: Ugarte
Seat 5: Rick Blaine
Seat 6: Mike 1.0
Seat 7: James
Seat 8: Swish
Seat 9: Mike 2.0
Seat 10: Ferrari
Level 1: The blinds are 25c and 50c. On the button I limped in with Q-6s. Only Swish and the blinds saw the flop. I gave everyone a free card when it was checked to me. On the turn I bet $5, both blinds folded, and Swish called. I went all-in on the river when he checked to me. I had nothing, but Swish didn't have anything either. That was the worst hand I played all night. The first big hand involved College Boy and James. With Kc-Jc-7c-7h on the board, College Boy bet $15 and James reraised him all-in. After a few moments of thinking about it, College Boy called and he showed his K-Jo and James had Ac-x. I don't recall the river, but James lost the showdown and had less than $10 remaining. It was an amazing call by College Boy. In the face of a possible flush, he made the correct call and doubled up. He was the chip leader after the first level and I was up $9.
Level 2: Blinds 50c and $1. Ferrari was heads up with Swish and bluffed at a pot when he had A-3o. The board: 4-8-Q-9-7. Swish had at least a pair of 9s and laid down his hand at the river despite calling a $25 bet on the turn. That was not like Swish. He's the type of guy that goes all the way to the river... and ends up a winner. He should have called. It would have made a difference later on. College Boy had a chance to knock out the two short stacks... Swish and James. With AKs he went all-in after the flop with an A-3-6. With two sidepots he looked strong. Big Slick vs 5-7s and 3-4o... College Boy lost both, when a miracle 4 hit the river to give James a straight and Swish two pair. Talk about two bad beats on one hand. Ouch. The small stack doubled up against the big stack, and College Boy lost the chip lead to Ferrari. I was down $2.
Level 3: Blinds $1-$2. I won a pot with KK and I bet out strong on the flop with two hearts. No time for fancy slow plays at that table. Then the first person to be KO'd was Swish. He was heads up with College Boy. The flop: 6J3. When an Ace fell on the turn, Swish went all-in. College Boy called. Swish held AQs and College Boy had K-J again! The river: J. Swish was KOd. I told him afterwards that since he was shortstacked he should have went all-in preflop, not to say that College Boy wouldn't have called him anyway, but it's what I would have done. College Boy said he would have folded.
Heads Up with Coach
I had AJs. With one limp-bet in front of me, I reraised in LP to make it $30. Coach, sitting on the button, went all-in. I didn't have to even look at him. He played one hand all night besides his blinds. His reputation for being a rock solid player was enough to convince me that I should fold and get outta his way. I paused for a few moments to see if I could put him on a hand. I had been getting great at "putting players on hands", something that I improved upon while in Vegas. I'm nowhere near the status of the great Hellmuthian Master of looking into people's souls. However, all night I had been reading the table correctly. I made Coach for KK, possibly Aces. I dunno if he would go all-in with Big Slick or QQ's and lower in a three way pot... unless he reraised to get out the first limper and the blinds. I wasn't about to overthink the situation. Coach has my respect and I showed him my cards while I folded. And in a rare move he flipped over his AKs. A stellar all-in bet from Coach. He got the blinds to fold and my $30. It goes to show that good players lay down good hands to tight players all the time. Probably a few others would have called Coach and he's lucky that decision came down to me. Otherwise he would have been KO'd in 9th place.
It Was Nice While It Lasted
9:13pm EST... the world shook. Actually I just got bounced from the tourney. Heads up with Ferrari and I made a crucial error. I overestimated my hand reading ability and made Ferrari for a wrong hand. If I was looking at the board clearly, instead of trying to play the player... I would have not gotten KO'd at that point. Again, if Swish had called Ferrari an hour earlier, I might have been able to avoid the confrontation. I had A6o. I raised on the button. Everyone folded except Ferrari who called. The flop: 9h-A-5h. I have top pair. Ferrari bet $5. I raised to $10. That was my mistake. I put Ferrari for A-x. Small ace. I was concerned about kicker problems. I should have put him all-in on the flop. Why? If he did have a small ace, he would probably folded. If I was completely wrong and he had a medium pair or on a flush draw (which the board should have told me) then I should be making him pay to catch cards. I fucked up and only bet $10 which he called. I only bet $10 because I thought there was a chance that Ferrari was playing A9 or A5 and I was slowplayed by two pair. It's not the first time Ferrari had done that. I overanalyzed the situation and I should have just made the normal call... something the over aggressive Pauly normally would have done. Anyone else, I would have ran right over them. "All-in!" and the hand would have been over. I punked out and it cost me the tournament.
When a heart fell on the turn, Ferrari checked. I bet $25 and Ferrari reraised me. I was doomed. I called and ended up going all-in. Of course an Ace on the river was not good enough, although I held the Ace of hearts and a nut flush draw... so I had a few outs and was not drawing completely dead. Ferrari had Kh-8h. He caught his flush on the turn and I gave it to him cheaply for just $10. So many decisions... All these maybes and what ifs. Bottom line... I fucked up. Ferrari admitted he would have folded to a bigger raise on the flop. Alas, I was bounced in 9th place. Ferrari was the chip leader.
For more detailed analysis of the remainder of the game, you'll have to visit Ugarte's Poker Grovel. I left for a few minutes to get some fresh air and when I returned both Rick Blaine and Coach were bounced. We started a side game in the Loser's Lounge.
Congrats to the winner: James. He rallied back from next to nothing to beat Ugarte headsup. And good job to Ugarte, who pulled in a second place finish. And yeah, I was impressed with the exploits of College Boy, who was a good sport the entire night, allowing everyone to let his moniker stick. Well College Boy schooled most of us.
The Final Tally:Congrats again to the winners and thanks to Ferrari for organizing the event.
1. $500 James
2. $250 Ugarte
3. $150 College Boy
4. $100 Ferrari
5. Mike 2.0
6. Mike 1.0
8. Rick Blaine
Late Night Poker: The Losers Lounge
Marie showed up to join the side game which was played on Ferrari's coffee table and on his couch. It reminded me of the home games I played back in my college days in Atlanta... at Jerry and Schanzer's apartment. That was when we would have two games going on at once... with upwards of 14 people playing at the dining room table and on the coffee table. The sorortiy girls who lived across the hall were hooked. They played every night with us, yep... every night in the summer of 1994 that we played poker. And yeah Schanzer had a three legged cat to amuse us in between hands. Those were the days, and I might get around to writing up some great stories from games that happened a decade ago this upcoming summer. Good times for sure.
OK, flashback aside, it was fun to get a cash game going. Rick sat on the floor. Marie sat on the edge of the coffee table and Swish opened up the window to get some fresh air into the apartment. And that led to some comic relief. Ferrari has two cats and one of them, Shadow, was attracted to the ledge of the window. Despite plenty of pleas to the "tournament table" about the curious cat, Ferrari insisted that the cats were fine and not to worry about a wide open window. Ferrari lives on the 19th floor, but he was bogged down in the middle of a hand... so we were all still concerned for the cat's safety. Swish blurted out, "This is like a Disney flick... That Darn Cat!" To which, Coach could not stop laughing. He was brought to tears over the obscure Disney reference, and Swish showed us why he's missed at the games ever week. And in some morbid way, we all agreed that it would have been kinda cool to see a cat fall 19 stories. Not necessarily Ferrari's cat. That would have been fucked up. But not on our watch, so Swish closed the window and the cat drama ceased.
The Players in the Losers LoungeI lost a few hands early, but won a monster headsup with Rick playing hold'em. He raised preflop and I called with 5-5. More pocket pairs. Guess what I flopped? A set! Whooooo-hoooooo!! Rick kept jamming the pot on ever bet. Why? He had the Dudes! Pocket Kings. And was shocked to know that they got cracked by a set. Ouch. Sorry, Reeeeeeeeeee-k! I won a big Omaha hand on the river when my I caught a set for my pocket pair (6-6-10-2) and there was no qualifying low.
Seat 1. Coach
Seat 2. Swish
Seat 3. Rick
Seat 4. Marie
Seat 5. Pauly
When Ferrari was bounced he joined the mix. I got QQ in LP. I raised and Ferrari reraised. I called. The flop: A-8-Q. The Hiltons held up. I decided to slow play. He bet and I just called. Ferrari never would have put me on QQ. On the turn we capped out the betting. Of course, Swish was still in the hand... on a draw of some sorts. After putting almost all my chips in, I started to wonder if Ferrari had AA. That was the only hand that could burn me. No flushes, straights, or full house potentials... so I had to think Ferrai had made his A-x two pair on the flop and he was slow playing. I guessed A-Q. Alas, at showdown, Swish had nothing and Ferrari had A-8. He had two pair and I took down a huge pot.
The Blind Hammer?
I also played a hand completely blind against Swish, all the way to the river, calling his every bet. The board read: A-Q-A-8-5 and I called him all the way down, without looking at my hand because I knew he had nothing. And what did he have? The Hammer!!! Wow... and I had 9-3 to take down the pot with 9 high!!
When the tourney was over, we moved the game to the kitchen table. College Boy and James joined the mix. Ugarte sipped Jack Daniels and watched the Kings-Mavericks game.
The Hand of the Night
Anaconda. I was almost dealt a Royal Straight Flush... K-Q-J-10... and the Ace of hearts eluding me. I ended up with four jacks. I had two and Marie passed me two. Unless someone had a straight flush, I had the nuts. And in Anaconda at Ferrari's unless you have the nuts (Wheel for the low or a four of a kind for a high or better)... you're ging to lose a lot of cash playing Anaconda. I could have sponsored an entire village of those sick kids in Africa that Sally Struthers cries about, for a whole year on my Anaconda losses. Barry Greenstien, I am not. OK, the game is four way, with Rick and Marie battling for the low and Swish and I slugging it out for the high. By the way Rick and I were betting hard and fast, you had to suspect we both had the nut high/nut low. One every instance, Rick bet, I raised and he reraised and I cap it out... and poor Marie and Swish were caught up in the middle.
The hands:Swish thought his full house Qs over 9s would be better than my Jacks over Kings. And for a second I misread Marie's hand. She was showing 2-3-4-5... all hearts! But I knew College Boy folded the Ace of hearts so only the 6 of hearts would give Marie the nut high with a straight flush. Alas, at showdown, I had four jacks and Rick had a better low. It was a monster pot. $210+ and Rick and I were super excited to stack up our chips. I like splitting monster pots with Rick better than going heads up with him. That pot alone put me up $60.
The Final Side Game Tally:Another wild night at Ferrari's. Thanks again to Signor for setting up the event.
College Boy +38