Friday, January 07, 2005

The TowneHouse Tournaments
"Hey, are those lizard?" - Reed Rothchild
I was in Midtown way past midnight again for the second time in three nights slinging around chips and knocking back beers with some of the brightest legal minds in the city. Last night all the action went down at the TowneHouse. Toni hosted a series of NL tournaments. She used to work with Ugarte a few years ago and I met her for the first time when we played together at the Blue Parrot on Tuesday. She had an open spot and was kind enough to invite me. After a dismal week of bleeding my Party Poker bankroll, I was eager to play against live people. Poker is a social activity and in that aspect, I enjoying meeting new people with shared interests, even a fanatical one like poker.

The first thing I noticed were the chips. Toni's set included pink chips and purple ones too. I say purple in the loosest of terms. It was more a shade of lavender and the combination of pink and purple complimented the color scheme of the rest of the TowneHouse. I played with orange neon chips once in a casino in Miami... but that's Miami. Yep, last night was my first experience with pink chips.

There were nine of us in total for the first two tournaments. Buy in was $20 with a $180 prize pool. The top three places paid ($100-$60-$20) and third place got their entry back. Everyone got $1000 to start. Purple chips were $100, pinks were $50, and whites were $10. First three levels were 15 minutes. The next three were ten. And then they were bumped down to seven minute levels. Blinds started out at 10/20. I cracked open a Red Stripe and I was ready to go. Toni told me that the skill level of players were mixed and that there would be some beginner's playing.
The Players... Tourney #1:
Seat 1: Brian
Seat 2: Andy
Seat 3: Toni
Seat 4: Pauly
Seat 5: Aaron
Seat 6: Sung
Seat 7: Thekla
Seat 8: Kathy
Seat 9: Cliff
Level 1: On the third or fourth hand, I had 87o on the button. I limped in and I caught an interesting flop: J-7-7. There were two hearts on the flop and I never like slowplaying trips. I bet 150 and Sung called. I hoped I wasn't going to be outkicked if he had trips. The turn was a third heart and Sung fired out for 300. I called. I couldn't lay down my trips and even if he had a flush, I still had outs for a full house. The river was a rag. He checked it to me and I showed my trips. He had a a queen high flush. I lost almost half my stack on that hand. I had that sick feeling in my stomach I was going to get knocked out first so I grabbed another beer.

There was a big hand in the same orbit and I was surprised that no one was knocked out. Sung's AA held up against Thekla's KK. Her stack was seriously dented after the showdown. Sung was looking good and doubled up in the first orbit while Thekla and I had the short stacks.

Level 2: The table was a little quiet so Toni took charge and opened up a bottle of wine. She was playing a lot of music from infamous hair-bands and other great acts from the late 1980s. It gave me some weird flashbacks. Toni also had an eclectic collection of Voodoo dolls on display. I have mixed feelings about my mojo. Some days I think I must be one someone's good side because of the lucky life I've led. Other days, on those dark and somber days, I'd wonder how many people out there had a hex out on me?

Thekla bet 150 under the gun. I was on the button with the Hilton Sisters. How could I not push all in with pocket queens and a short stack? If I was going to get KO'd with the ladies, so be it. Thekla called and I prayed that she had pocket Jacks or tens. She had AK... two overcards. I got a lucky flop and survived. She was the first one knocked out and I nearly doubled up.

Level 5: I knocked out Andy's shortstack. My 77 held up against his AQ. Toni was next to get booted when her 99 lost to Kathy's pocket aces. By that point, Sung had lost the chip lead and Cliff and Kathy were the chip leaders.

Level 6: Aaron and Sung were the shortstacks. Aaron won a big hand with AJs and on the next hand Sung was out in 6th place. Aaron got knocked out a few hands later. Kathy had been winning a lot of small pots as she built up her chip lead and I avoided any pots with Cliff. I didn't want to mess with his big stack.

Level 7: It was four handed as we approached the bubble. Brian was the shortstack and within two orbits, he picked up all the blinds and amassed a decent chip count. He was nearly tied with me while Cliff's stack started dwindling. I won another coinflip situation with a pair. I raised, Cliff moved all in with AQ and I called with 55. My small pair held up and Cliff bubbled out in fourth. Kathy was the chipleader by a good sized amount.

Level 8: I won another coinflip situation when my 88 beat out Brian's AK. I had won all my 50-50 heads up bouts and I was due for a loss after beating AQ and AK... two times each. But that's how you win tournaments. You have to win all those close calls: pairs vs. overcards and overcards vs. small/middle pairs.

I was heads up against Kathy. I had a small lead on her and we played a few hands before anyone really made a move. I was the little blind with 88. I raised 2000. She moved all in and I quickly called. Kathy had AK. I knew I was due for a loss. The flop: A-x-8. I flopped a set and felt very confident that I was going to win. Cliff was dealing and made some comment like, "She's done" or something similar. Then a King fell on the turn. "Not yet," I muttered sensing my impending doom. Kathy had two pair and had four outs to win. Her chances increased ever so slightly and you know what spiked on the river... a fuckin' ace. Unreal. River'd at the TowneHouse. I was crippled and had less than 1000 left to her 8000. I looked at a small stack of pink chips and sighed. I was out on the next hand and took down second place. $60 was not too bad for a quick $40 profit.

By then everyone who had gotten knocked out had another glass or wine or two. The second game was a little more chatty and lively. Cliff graduated from wine to Jack Daniels on the rocks. He was ready to play. My notes got a little sketchy at this point.
The Players... Tourney #2
Seat 1: Brian
Seat 2: Andy
Seat 3: Toni
Seat 4: Aaron
Seat 5: Kathy
Seat 6: Cliff
Seat 7: Sung
Seat 8: Thekla
Seat 9: Pauly
Level 1: On the first hand Sung raised with AK. Toni called in late position. The flop had a King and Sung checked and Toni moved all in with 99. She lost and doubled up Sung on the first hand. There weren't going to be any rebuys... but an exception was made since she lost to Sung... and from then on, rebuys were good, but only in the first level.

Level 3: Cliff's JT loses to Toni's QJ. He's out first. I won a couple of hands with AT and AJs. Toni had switched the music to the Boogie Nights soundtrack. I approved right away.

"So, Pauly, what's your favorite line from Boogie Nights?" Toni asked.

"Don't come on my skates!" I quickly answered. But there are so many classic lines from that flick like, "Do you want me to use the Italian accent?"

Level 5: Thekla and Kathy were bounced. I had 1500 and knocked out Brian when my K10s beat out his K5. Andy and Toni had decent sized stacks.

Level 6: Andy A7s outflopped Sung's 66 and he was eliminated. Just like that there were four of us and I had a small chip lead over the rest of the table. I started bullying everyone around and I got caught with my pants around my ankles on one crucial hand. I had 56o. The flop: K-Q-6. I knew Toni didn't have the King and I figured she had the Queen when she bet. I came over the top and made it 1000 and I pushed out a stack of purple chips. She thought for a second and said, "I don't believe you. $1000 is too much." She counted her chips and called. I knew I was fucked and lost a big pot on one of my only bluffs of the night. Gotta give her credit for sniffing that one out.

Level 7: The bleeding continued. I was beaten up by Aaron and help build up his stack. He had been playing tentative most of the night and patiently waited for good hands. My K4s lost to his AQ and I lost a coinflip when my KJ couldn't beat his 66. The next hand I was knocked out by Toni. I bubbled out in fourth place and blew a chip lead once again in a tournament. Some things never change.

Level 8: Aaron's AA held up against Andy's 87 by help on the river. The flop was: 8-7-Q and Andy moved all in. Aaron called and the queen paired on the river to give him a bigger two pair. Andy came in third and it was heads up between Aaron and Toni. I liked Toni's chances because she was playing more aggressive.

Level 9: It was a fold-a-thon between the two. It looked like they must have been getting awful cards. Toni won when her Q7 beat out Aaron's J7. She won with the benefit of the rebuy technicality... but played solid after that awful first hand. Aaron played great for someone who played in his first (well, second...) tournament.

OK, so I was a bubble boy which is normally what happens to me. At least I didn't get blinded down. I played aggressive when it got four handed and didn't hit any flops. A couple of folks left and we had a third tournament with six of us. Another $20 entry fee and the winner got $100 and second place... $20.
The Players... Tourney #3:
Seat 1: Kathy
Seat 2: Andy
Seat 3: Toni
Seat 4: Cliff
Seat 5: Thekla
Seat 6: Pauly
At this point, my notes are thin thanks to the Red Stripe. I can't recall too many hands, but I was picking up a lot of small pots and being overly aggressive. Toni was out first then Andy followed. Thekla lost a big pot with QQ to Toni's AK. Thekla was knocked out a few hands later. I felt bad about one hand in particular. It was late and Thekla was tired. With nothing but a draw she folded on the turn because she thought that was the river and the last card. I had bottom pair (if I was lucky). She had just 100 left and didn't want to lose it. After rabbit hunting for the last card... should would have hit a straight on the turn to win a big pot. But it was too late and her cards were mucked. She made an honest mistake and I don't like winning on an error such as that one.

Afterwards she jokingly said, "I don't like you sitting next to me."

I took that as a sincere compliment. I laughed and told her, "You have no idea. I've been behaving tonight, too."

It really could have been worse. I could have been tormenting her all night and unleashed maniac Pauly. Yeah, I sat on her left twice and also knocked her out of the first tournament. I hope she doesn't hate me now!

Anyway, I ended up heads up with Cliff who was seriously shortstacked. I won the last one and took down $100 more. Not a bad night for me. Two money cashes and a bubble finish due to another incident where I blew a chip lead. I ended up $100 for the night.
The Money Winners...
Tourney #1: Kathy, Pauly, Brian
Tourney #2: Toni, Aaron, Andy
Tourney #3: Pauly, Cliff
I have to say that Toni ran her tournament better than some casinos I have played in. There was maybe one misdeal all night and that's near flawless considering everyone was drinking. I've been lucky as far as home games in NYC. Everyone I have met has been pretty cool. I play a lot and I've come across some pretty fucked up assholes out there in card rooms and casinos all over America. It's refreshing to be able to sit at a table with strangers for a few hours and feel comfortable. Hopefully, there will be more write ups of future events at the TowneHouse.

The streets were freakishly empty as I walked up along Park Ave. to Grand Central Station past a half a dozen homless people trying to sleep on benches. I handed out a few $1 dollar bills to the freezing street people that were awake, to share some of the wealth and improve my poker karma.

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