Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Apotheosis of 10-8 Suited

By Pauly
New York City

I have spent a lengthy amount of time away from the tables in 2008. I only played poker six times in January. That reversed in February, when I played almost every day except during an foggy four-day bender in Amsterdam. Since March began, I only played poker about seven or eight times.

Poker consumes almost every aspect of my life that I swiftly push it away whenever I get an opportunity. I shove poker so far out of the picture that I forget it exists and immerse myself back into the rest of the world. I used to be a man of many pursuits but over the last few years, there has been a lack of balance heavily weighted towards poker, gambling, and Las Vegas. That might be a dream for some people, but at times it's been a waking nightmare.

Most of my inactivity in 2008 was due to personal traveling in Australia, New Zealand, Holland, and Florida. I wouldn't have it any other way. The benefits of traveling far outweigh being chained to a laptop playing online poker like a hopeless zombie. Ironically, all I did in Denmark was play online poker and watch ski jumping on Danish TV, mainly because Muslim youths were rioting in the streets and everything was so dark and depressing in the Scandinavian winter that all I wanted to do was stay warm indoors, smother myself in insobriety, and play online poker while listening to indie-rock bands like Vampire Weekend that my buddy the Joker dubbed "here today and gone tomorrow."

Most of my 2008 has been spent outdoors instead of feeding my addiction to the intertubes. I skipped winter when I was in Oz and New Zealand and basked in the warmth of an extra month of summer.

Jumping back and forth between long periods of inactivity, I have to play poker by pure instinct, since I've been unable to get a consistent rhythm going at the tables when I coming off a lull. I always play a better session if I played at least ten days in the previous two weeks. When I'm coming off an extended break, it takes me a few sessions to get used to playing a winning game. Patience and disciplined, yet aggressive and unpredictable.

I'm looking forward to April because I will be in New York City for four straight weeks. It's been rare to let 10 days go by before I have to get on another airplane. I'm very excited because I found a place to write for three plus weeks and will complete as much of my script as possible. April will be a month of self-improvement. The goal is to work out in the mornings, write all day, and play online poker at night. Since I'll be in the same place for four weeks in a row, I'll be on a steady schedule, which means I might even give some of the BBT3 events a shot.

Most of my adult life, I avoided working in the 9-5 lifestyle, which is part of the reason I followed the calling to a writer because I didn't want to be forced to wear a tie and sit in a cubicle and take shit from a incompetent boss, and pretend to sing Happy Birthday to co-workers who I don't like and would rather throw through a wall than share a sliver of melted ice cream cake with them.

I worked diligently honing my skills as a writer so I could avoid the rat race and run rampant through life on my terms. I finally achieved my goal and I've been living a hectic and amazing life traveling the world and jumping time zones. However, the hardest part is the constant struggle to maintain relationships with everyone else, which includes family and friends that I have known for almost two decades.

I have an active weekday social life (let along weekends) and it's been hard to force myself to play in Saturday with Dr. Pauly, let alone find time to play on weeknights. It seems like the two times I can play happen to either be 3am or 3pm! That is such an odd time. I've been spending almost every week in 2008 in a different city. Mondays or Tuesdays have been travel days for me, and Wednesdays and Thursdays have been going out nights catching up with friends in those cities, which throws everything out of whack.

Ah, but for a couple of weeks, I'll have a stable life if only for a brief moment before it's time to hit the road again and migrate to the Left Coast before it's time to move to Las Vegas for my fourth straight World Series of Poker.

* * * * *

On Monday night, I endured the worst session that I had in 2008. I dropped $600 on Poker Stars playing 10/20 Limit. It the bigger picture it's not that bad. I guess I was due for a negative session. The important thing is if I can follow it up with a winning session and wipe out my losses by the end of the week.

I had a losing 2007 on PokerStars after getting my ass reamed at the 10/20 tables. I vowed that I would only play cash games on Full Tilt. Well, I started losing on FT and winning on PokerStars. Go figure. I played a lot of 1/2 NL, 2/4 NL, and 2/4 PLO for a modest profit on PokerStars and barely touched Full Tilt aside to play 8/16 Limit whenever there was a good game going.

Last week, I was at my brother's apartment in the mid-afternoon. I watched TV and discovered that there are two episodes of The O.C. on back-to-back. I had three interesting hands at a 1/2 NL table on PokerStars inside of 17 minutes as images of a scantily clad Rachel Bilson filled the screen.

Very loose player raised to $7. I called with 10s-8s on the cutoff along with the button and the big blind. Four way action. The flop was Ac-10d-10h. Action was checked to me and I bet $25. The original raiser check-raised me to $80. I was the only caller. The turn was the 8d. My opponent moved all in and I instantly called. The river was the 2c. My full house held up. My opponent actually had a decent hand that time and showed Ah-Kc.

I made a bad read pre-flop and was behind. I caught a sweet flop and an even better turn card as I felted one player.

Four minutes later, I found As-Ac. Sometimes you go hours, even days, and if you play a lot of live poker you can go weeks without seeing pocket Aces. However, there are times when you see your hole cards and you get that sick and queasy feeling in your stomach, sort of like acid reflux, and you start sweating because you know that you're either going to get zero action with your Aces or the contrary, you will get beaucoup action and have them snapped off from some Scandi kid who isn't even old enough to drive.

My table was very loose with a lot of re-raising pre-flop. I decided to limp in early position. One player raised to $10 and I called. The flop was Qh-Js-3h. I checked. My opponent under-bet the pot. I re-raised to $36. He called. The turn was the 9d. I fired out $90. My opponent moved all in for $218. I should have been able to dump Aces there with a possible straight on the board. He could have had anything from two-pair to a set. Then again, the way my table had been playing, he could of had K-Q and only top pair and a gutshot. If I had played the same hand in a live session, I would have tanked for a lot longer and studied my opponent. Online games only give you a short time bank.

I made a hastily decision and called. I was wrong. My opponent held 10s-8s. He called my check-raise on the flop with a gutshot and got there on the turn. I doubled him up and a $527 pot was pushed his way.

"Nice catch, you Norwegian cocksmoker!" I shouted as loud as I could.

I totally misplayed that hand. If I raised pre-flop, he might have folded. And if he did call pre-flop, he should have been able to get away from that flop after I came out betting the pot.

I knew it was going to happen. Win a small pot with Aces or lose a big one.

About ten minutes later, I limped in late position with 4s-2s. The player who had doubled up against me raised from the button. The big blind called along with myself. Three players. The flop was Ks-Js-3s. The big blind checked. I bet the pot which was $30. One player called and the big blind folded. The turn was the 5h. I bet $85 or roughly the pot. My opponent raised to $170. That screamed that he had the As. I would have slowplayed the hand if I flopped the nuts or even a Queen high flush. And I most likely would have put on the pressure if I had the Ace of spades and nothing else. I hoped that my read was right.

With one second left on the clock, I called off the rest of my stack for about $70. The river was the 5c. My baby flush held up. He mucked his hand but I found out that he had As-Ac. Ouch.

Moral of the story? 10-8 suited is a monster hand blessed by the always fickle online poker gods. As always, the wretchedness of Aces ruined what could have been an almost perfect session.

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

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