Monday, September 24, 2007

Lizard Tails

By Pauly
Key West, FL

"Don't bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality." - Bob Marley
Rusty. I was a little rusty. I had not played a substantial amount of poker since I fled Las Vegas after the WSOP. I had not played a single live session since then. I'm fortunate that I didn't lose any money over the rest of the summer. Usually I experience a downswing at the online tables after the WSOP.

This year, it was different. Overall, I steadily won. I hit and run during a dozen or so online sessions in August. I had one amazing day and one atrocious day. I took a few shots at 30/60 limit again and broke even.

I never had a session last more than an hour until I arrived in Amsterdam. I played a decent amount in the apartment since both of my roommates were playing a ton of online poker. Oh, by the way, congrats to old roomie, Johnny Mushrooms. He made the final table and took third in one of the WCOOPs at PokerStars.

Anyway, I played a couple of hours a day in Amsterdam. It felt good to grind it out at the limit tables and fire up a PLO table or two to have some fun. I discovered the proper balance of playing poker for enjoyment and playing for money. The tedious and boring grind of ABC poker at the limit tables were offset by the fast-paced action at the PLO tables. More often than not, my winnings at the limit tables covered the big swings at the PLO tables.

I had the opportunity to play everyday since I got back from Europe. Like most things in life, you have to constantly work and practice at your particular craft if you expect to improve over the long run. It doesn't matter if it's poker, writing, or relationships. You constantly have to work at those aspects.

My schedule for the remainder of 2007 is still hectic, but I'm going to make an effort to play more poker between now and Christmas. I have only one more big tournament reporting assignment (the PokerNews Cup in Melbourne in October) and I'm looking forward to concentrating on writing, my side projects, and playing poker.

Here are some random online poker and miscellaneous incidents that occurred over the last few days.

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20 Sept @ 4:14pm, New York...

My broker called to wish me a happy birthday while I was playing 1/2 PLO on PokerStars. My big stack had taken a hit when my straight flush draw missed against a guy who flopped two pair and another who turned a straight. Then the phone rang. A Colorado number. It was one of the rollover lines from my broker's office in Boulder. I guess he finally got bored of hacey-sacking with spun out hippie chicks and put down the three-foot bong to extend birthday greetings to me.

He had been ducking my phone calls over the last three weeks. Our investments were losing money and I wanted to give him shit over that. He knew that's why I had called and purposely avoided me. My overall investing goals were for the long hall, but sometimes it just feels better to be an asshole on a power trip. Besides, he has the easy life in Colorado and I'd like to think he actually gets work done in between ski trips and his yoga classes.

I guess that I'd rather have a hippie broker than an immoral and unscrupulous eel of a suit. I had only gotten birthday wishes from my mother, brother, and girlfriend. In that regard, it was a nice gesture, but it was the cheapest trick in the old playbook. We used to call that faux-sentiment. I did it all the time during my stints in the trenches on Wall Street. Pretend that you actually care about your client, when you are just buttering them up before you extract their life saving and convince them to buy some dog shit stock that your analysts are telling you to force-feed down your clients' throats. Then you call them up three weeks later with another hot lead. Churn and burn. That's how I used to make my money before I became a chip counting doofus.

I pretend to like the players at my table whenever I'm playing live. I'm lying. I'm acting. I'm pseudo-laughing at their poorly delivered jokes. I appear fascinated by their banal stories. I seem sympathetic to their personal problems.

"Yeah, my dog had worms too once. We had to put him down. I was eight, and that was the first time I shot a gun."

In reality, I'm trying to make them like me. They might fold on the river instead of calling me down. They might fold to my raises. They might let me steal pots.

Sometimes it's hard not to be the table captain and go off at the atrocious plays you see people make. Then I recall that old saying.

Don't tap the glass.

Was that a Bob Dylan lyric or an old Buddhist saying?

In short, the bigger the fish at the tables, the nicer I am to them. I want them staying in the game. I shower them with more encouragement inside of an orbit than their parents have given them in their entire lifetime. I want them to piss away the profits that they picked up from the other bitter souls at the table.

Nothing is more satisfying then tilting someone already on tilt. For example, at Red Rock Casino before the WSOP began, I got seated at an interesting table. One guy in Seat 3 got his Kings viscously cracked in an ugly pot from an uberfish with donkeylike tendencies that played J-6 and ended up rivering trips. That guy flew into a rage and unleashed a Hellmuthian tirade. I snickered underneath my breath and felt sorry for the guy for about fifteen seconds. Then I came to my senses and made both the fish and the tilty guy as my marks.

Some players have such low self-esteem that they can't let the hand go. Identify them and attack. Instead, of shaking off that hand and getting ready for the next one, the angry guy lost focus and instead of playing his game... he just wanted to get his money back from the fish. He started playing differently and deviated away from his style. The result was that he lost more chips to the fish trying to enact a personal vendetta.

That's when I swooped in and blindsided the tilty guy. I won a few pots from said fish with junk hands. The guy grew more angry because I got paid with his money as he slid deeper into tilt. When I woke up with a hand and he decided that I was bluffing and he promptly paid me off which forced him to dig into his pocket for another humiliating rebuy. Most pros don't think twice about rebuying. It's part of the game. But for angry, tilty people with self-esteem issues, they are playing into your hands. Say hello to the ATM sitting in Seat 3 and don't leave until he leaves.

* * * * *

23 Sept @ 5:12am, Miami, FL...

I sat at the dinning room table in my friend Jerry's house. He and his family were still alseep as I logged onto PokerStars to play PLO. Jerry's cats scurried around looking for attention. I spotted a tiny lizard and pointed it out to the cat. With one swift move, the cat pounced and tore the lizard's tail off. The lizard limped off and ran towards the wall. The chase ensued with the cat trapping the lizard in the corner.

I looked down at my feet and say a tiny piece of tail flopping around. It was trippy. I went to pick it up when another cat came over and swallowed it whole. Cats eating lizard tails. Just another Sunday morning in Miami.

1/2 PLO. I got dealt Ad-Qs-Qc-10d on the button. I called a raise from middle position. Five players in the pot. The flop was Kd-8d-4s. The big blind bet out about half the size of the pot. The original raiser, put out a pot-sized raise. I called with a nut flush draw as did one other player. Three players left. The turn was the Qh. The big blind checked. The original raiser bet the pot. I potted with a set of Queens and the nut flush draw. The big blind called and was all in. The other player called. The river was the 4c. It was checked to me. I bet about 1/3 of the pot with a full house and he called. Big blind showed a busted Jack-high diamond flush draw. The original raiser had Aces up with a baby flush draw. I took down the biggest PLO pot since my return to the States.

I looked down and the cat finished last bit of the lizard. Figure out your own metaphor.

* * * * *

23 Sept @ 8:08pm, Key West, FL...

I joined AlCantHang for a week long of various alcohol-soaked liver-eroding activities down in Key West. At 8:08pm on a Sunday evening, I walked into an Irish bar with AlCantHang. Eight hours later, I had visited two strip clubs and was stuck $420. You can read about some of the misadventures over at Tao of Pauly and stay tuned for another installment of Existentialist Conversations with Strippers, Vol. III.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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