Friday, January 20, 2006

Mr. Gunn, put it to your HEAD

WARNING, THE FOLLOWING BLOG CONTAINS PAINFULLY IN DEPTH POKER DESCRIPTIONS, IF THIS WILL CAUSE YOU TO SLIP INTO A COMA OF BOREDOM, SKIP TODAY'S BLOG.

Okay, so there is not really any weaponry pointed at my temple. I exited during the 6th round, some eight hours into the tournement, but it was not without its highlights. I wish there were a few less highlights, truthfully.

I started the tournement by thinking my "player number- 075" meant that I was at table 7, seat 5, when in fact player numbers had nothing to do with seating. As I arrived at the poker room at the last minute, I rested comfortably in seat 5 on table 7, naturally while I watched a curious looking man, an official type roaming the room with a big sign and the number 88 on it. The dealer informed me that I needed to go to some person with a sheet containing table assignments.

I did and found out, of course, that I indeed was the much sought after player 88 for the purposes of seating. This meant I was sitting at the featured table- the one they will use for the final table Sunday night. The featured table is set apart from the others, in a square filled with spotlights. You play with four cameras circling you at all times, focusing in on your face, hands, it feels like they know when you're breathing.

They wired a mic through my shirt and attached the whatever it is to my belt.

I looked across the table and there sat Joe Hachem, current WORLD champion and widely regarded as one of the best, if not the best, in the world. Right now, he is world champ, so someone has to take that away from him.

The other players mostly knew each other, except one local kid and a kid from Marlboro, Massachusetts. I actually know his brother-in-law as it turns out.

The rest of the table contained assorted pros and circuit players.

I have to say, Hachem is all he's cracked up to be and more. The guy knew every hand. He got smacked with a tough beat early, losing after calling an all in with pocket aces to a kid with AK that he sucked beautifully into raising him all in. The kid bagged a King on the river- a 21:1 shot...ouch and double ouch. He was a little upset, but he rallied, building his stack back up only to take another brutal beating as a different guy hit a gut shot for a straight on the river to beat him.

But he came back yet again, only to lose to another tough beat. Last I saw he was down to a few grand and hadn't talked to anyone in about an hour.

The amazing thing was watching him call hands.

"AQ huh?"

"Just the jack?"

"You're not in trouble, you have queens."

The last comment was one of my hands of the night. I was down to about $5,300, Hachem had to be around 18 or 20 thousand again. He raises in front me as I sit with pocket queens. He bet 700. I just want him to go away, so I make it 2,500 and he quick calls me which shocks me. To call a raise that big to go heads up with what he has to know is a pretty big pair, or AK minimum.

This can only he mean he figures to outplay me after the flop. I didn't know that until later, but now it is obvious. he had bullied me out once before, but I knew I was beat. Another time I called him all the way to the river, as he hit an unneccesary queen on the river for trips.

I sat in amazement as he flipped his cards and raised pre-flop with Q4 off suit.Granted, he was one from the button, but still, those are rags.

Okay, back to my pocket queens. Hachem calls and the flop is King, rag, rag, but I'm not happy because there's a king on board and he called so quickly. He checks, I smell a rat and check. Was he playing KQ I wonder?

I have about 2800 left in front of me at this point and another king falls on the turn (4th card). This is actually good news for me because it lowers the likelihood that he had a king in his hand.

Hachem bets 2500 into me. What the hell does he have? I somehow assume he does not have a king, but it is nerveracking now. Would he really bet into me at this point if he didn;t have it? I am short stacked and almost HAVE to call.

I took my time, I breathed deep and thought about The Simpsons. I had been practicing breathing and looking at a light off in the distance to maintain my face for the last hour.

I mumble, I think I'm dead, but I gotta call.

"You're not dead, you have queens," he says.

He had called a bet twelve times the big blind with A4 off suit, he was gambling that he could buy the pot after the flop. He needed an ace on the river to knock me out of the tournement, an ace, fortunately for me, which did not come.

I won a couple of other clutch hands, but my favorite was just after Hachem got smoked by a flopped straight. Pro Morten Jensen had called with 68 suited after a raise and a call, unbelievable. Anyway, he now was table chip leader with over 30,000. I had about 5900 at this point. He raises in front of me. I am on the bhutton and holding JJ, a scary hand, because it about 50/50 that at least one overcard will fall on the flop, the you have to guess whether or not the guy betting into you with a mountain of chips has that card, whether he already held a higher pair, or whwther he is outright bluffing. You'd better guess right, because the tournement is on the line.

The flop comes AJ5. I flopped a set. Jensen had shown he was willing to play rags, so I am praying he has an ace so I can bleed some much needed cash out of him. He bets out 600, a sucker bet. He raised to 700 before the flop, now he leads with a weak continuation bet of 600. This guy has been unafraid to overbet and call with crap the whole night, "why so squeamish now," I wondered. I just call, I think he might be slow-playing me himself (which is what I'm doing), but I still don't want to risk losing him, I have been getting crappy cards and I need to suck every penny out of this guy that I can.

The turn comes and it is a rag, nothing scary there. He checks, feigning weakness. This guy has either bet or folded all night, this is definitely fishy. I check. I can't imagine losing this pot right now. Unless he has pocket aces, which I can't believe he has, he can't beat me. Even if he hits an ace, it will give him trips, but it will give me a ful house.

On the river comes a 5- full house. he bets out 1200 into me. At this point the only hand he can hold that can beat me is pocket aces, and I am as certain as I can be that he doesn't have them.

My real goal now is to bet as much as I can and have it be worht it for him to call me. I need every chip I can get. I reflected on an earlier mistake, where I bluffed after the flop from the smal blind, got a call and hit a gut shot straight out of blind luck. I milked the guy n 4th street, but I was too greedy and threw all in on the river for about 3800, slightly more than the pot. I wanted it to look like I was trying to buy it, but it would have hurt him too much to call and lose, so he folded. I probably could have bet somewhere between 1000 and 1500 and gotten a few chips out of him. I recall Dan Harrington talking about the importance of value bets. Bets you make hoping the person will call because you are very sure you have them beat. I thought forever about it for effect and raised it to 3000. Jensen made the call. He had Aces and jacks and had been slow-playing me the whole way. The best part was the look of shock on his face when I flipped the full house over. After that hand, the guy next to me starting chatting me up, asking me where I was from. I'll tell you, it was a good feeling.

I hit my peak of about 13 grand at that point and could just never get untracked again. I hit a couple of hands here and there, but I never saw aces and couldn't capitalize when I did get hands, everyone dropped.

My tournement ended when I was firced to go all in with J 10, a fairly weak hand, but I was positioned perfectly. The guy in the small blind was convinced I was only playing big hands and had dropped almost every time I had raised. The Big Blind was short stacked himself and I knew he would fold unless he had a solid hand.

Well, he didn't fold, instead, he flipped over the bad news- pocket aces. I flopped 89 to give me eight outs and an open-ended straight possibility, but couldn;t catch the card I needed on the turn or the river.

Over all, it was a pretty good experience. I was impressed at my patience. I folded almost every hand for nearly two full hours, not winning a hand until the cusp of the second break. Had I been playing undisciplined poker, I would have been in serious trouble, but I still had about 8300 in chips.

Looking back, I can see a few mistakes I made, mostly at the tail end when I'm not sure I could have made things turn out any different. The stacks around me got too big and my cards continued to be mediocre. I can point to one hand that I should have either folded or just throw all in before the flop, but by and large, I played very well under the spotlight.

Hey, I faced down a bluff from the reigning world champion and called when my tournement was on the line. I manipulated another, a guy that made a final table at the World series of Poker.

Geez, I wish I finished better, but given the cards I was staring at most of the day, I proved I can play. I mean, I don't know what every single other player at the table is holding like Hachem does, but I can play.

All in all, I played okay, but I will only be better next time, if there is a next time.

It's been a while since I've checked in to see what God has in mind for me.

3 Comments:

Blogger Dot Dwyer said...

Way to go ! You did it !!! So, what were you wearing ? Just wondering with all those cameras. Honestly, I didn't understand most of it, but it was well written.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Korte said...

I wore a black shirt that I bought at Calvin Klein...I must say, I probably looked pretty good in my losing effort. I just wanna see that hand with the full house against Morten Jensen on video, lol.

5:26 AM  
Blogger Otto said...

Got any threes?...... "Go Fish". You beat Moneymaker. You da man!

11:30 PM  

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