Saturday, June 25, 2005

Surviving the Desert

The ways to have a bad night are legion.

With soulcrushing glory, you can get your money in with best of it and sucked out by a donkey with a 3-outer.

You can "win" the reverse lottery when the euhporia of hitting your set turns into to the utter despair of wathcing all your chips slide over to the higher set.

You can pick just that moment to bluff the tight player when he turns his nuts.

You can pig-headedly refuse to lay down that beautiful premium pair.

Some of these you can control and some of these you can't. Like any player who has played for any significant amount of time, I've experienced or caused myself to experience each of them once or several times. They all suck in a little different way. Last night, I went through another one of these gems that is perhaps my least favorite: I went utterly card dead.

In a 7 hour session at the near-Chinatown club, including a 45 minute interlude for a 50 each heads-up freeze out the ever-oblidging host Bill spread for me and another player for shits and giggles (it was my first live heads-up tourney so I peevishly insisted on those stakes rather than 100 each--to my regret as I won it), I was dealt a pocket pair above 10s exactly twice. Each time they were aces, normally not much to complain about. The first time came when Bill sat down at our heads-up session to deal a few quick hands and immediately gave me black ones. My opponent in the small blind folded before I could act (nice try Bill). The second was a few hours later back at the 1-2NL where I got them on the button (yay!) and watched the action fold around to the cutoff on my right, who limped. I may not be a pro, but I'm not letting four people including two effectively random blinds into an unraised pot with aces. I didn't want to chase out all the action, but apparently my pop to 12 was a monster overbet as that's just what happened.

My hands were really dead. I was not getting suited connectors, and I was not hitting those few hands I managed to get in the pot with. The one exception proved the rule very early in the session when I snuck into a 6-way unraised pot in the small blind with A5o, flopped 234 with two diamonds. I bet out the pot and got one customer. Flush on the turn (this could have been worse I admit, at least the order of the board saved me another large bet).

I played on and on over the hours, enjoying only the plasma view of the Bombers' continuing example of how not to spend 200 million and the Red Sox's ascension to first place (I know, it's only June but I'll still take it). Also, the Rooster did pop in to say hello, but unfortunately never made it into the game.

Anyway, I managed to slow the descent, using the tight image brought on by my awful cards to steal a few pots and hang on, watching my 500 buy in softly slide down to around 400, then 300. The night wore on and the table grew more aggressive. My steal attempts suddenly got met with pops. This is something I usually like in the long run as it sets me up and encourages action into me when I eventually do make my hand. But of course, that was not happening so instead it just chipped away. I was get hammerred down, finally to about 150 when the 5-5 table also spread broke up, bringing Skippy the action junky to squeeze in at our table, four seats to my left.

I was worried about Skippy at first as he was forced to pocket a few hundred to fit under our 500 table maximum. I did manage to put this in context however as I knew the 5-5 max was 2000, so even coming over with his dregs could easily have left him over 500.

Watching Skippy gave me some relief as he bet and called in every which way that he shouldn't. The action at the table perked up. All of a sudden, 60-100 was in the pot nearly every hand pre-flop with 4-6 customers. I knew I just needed a hand, but the procession of J4's, K8's and other excrement continued. I bled down to 106 on the button when finally I got something. Not just something, my personal nuts: two thirds of the antichrist or--with a bit less melodrama--pocket sixes.

2nd UTG opened the betting for 15, with 3 callers including skippy. It was late, and I pretty much wanted to go home. Normally, what I do in that situation is I get up, bring the few chips I have in front of me, ask that they be exchanged for legal tender and go home. Some people that have bled down fail to remember that chips can still be redeemed in this manner and determine that "they might as well put in the rest of them". I usually don't, but this time, I was "going for broke". Shit, I knew I had the best hand.

I raised the pot up to 100, slamming down the only stack I had left in the middle of the table and leaving myself 6 behind (my later claim that I wanted to make sure I could get away from the hand was met with some skepticism ). Well golly be, the rest of the table, perhaps noting the force of my slam and the high frequency of pots I'd entered, folded around to Skippy. Skippy frowned, Skippy fretted and, I suspect, Skippy even thought. Skippy passed. Yes, that's right folks, he laid 'em down. I flipped over my two-thirds devil and Skippy steamed. If we can take Skippy at his word, he had two overs and "knew" he should have called me.

Sweeping up my hard won 45, I waited for the next hand in the cutoff. AQo. This hand is often trouble for me, but last night, it was a monster. 2nd UTG bet out the now standard 15, attracting 3 callers including Skippy. I went all in. OK , I know this is a little over-aggressive. But all I'm worried about is that one of the 15 "limpers" was slow playing a monster. Really, I'm only worried about 2nd UTG. If I can get past him, I know there is a very large chance that I'll get heads-up with Skippy (who already "knows" he should call me) and I'll take my chances. Unless there is AA, KK, or AK in there, I'm just not going to mind too much a caller. Any other calling hand I am probably a slight dog but not hopeless and certainly with reasonable pot odds.

Action folds around to Skippy, who jumps back in the tank. This time the outcome is different and I get my man.

The flop turned up a miserable king, but Mrs. Slick was good unimproved as Skippy paid off your narrator with AJs.

The night was still a loss--I was stuck 180--but I at least I'd survived the desert.

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