Monday, June 12, 2006

Irony of Effort

You'd think the area where I extend the bulk of my effort would be the area with the most results, right?

Not fact, it always seems the opposite is true, which explains why I am single, now that I think of it, but I digress...

The deadline for entries for the Boston Comedy Festival is fast-approaching. Thursday, June 15th... hard to believe we're in the middle of June already. I wavered briefly before deciding on trying to get in again. I have not been doing much comedy and have been focussing on "preparing for the World Series of Poker" as I like to call it and "playing obsessively on-line" as my roommate likes to call it.

I decided that winning an entry to the main event was not enough, I wanted to get into one of the "smaller" events as well. So, as I dedicated myself to winning the 10,000 main event entry, I threw myself into trying to win the $2000 entry, or accumulate enough $$$ to buy in directly.

It has been disastrous. I have gotten my ass kicked regularly for the last week. Poker is strange with me. Pros go through cold spells and downward swings, but mine seems to hit very quickly, then move on, they seem to come and (hopefully) go in the blink of an eye.

The annoying thing is that I haven't learned much from these losses, other than a familiar lesson- burn out makes me a poor player.

But I digress... the funny thing is that while I have totally thrown myself into poker this week, I have reaped negative returns. Ironically, I have logged next-to-zero stage time in the last couple of months and blew the roof off The Comedy Studio in the process of making the DVD for me Boston Comedy Festival entry.

I listened to a set close to what I wanted to perform twice, practiced twice, showed up and ran with it. Admittedly, just before I got on stage, I felt totally unprepared and the audience had been sweet, but weren;t real "laughers", so I was skeptical about how well I would do. The director of the BCF was on the show with me, so I didn;t want to look like an ass, plus, this would be my only opportunity to make a tape in time for submission, so it was a one-shot-deal. I told myself if I didn't do well enough to make a really good tape, I would skip this year's festival.

I said a little prayer just before I hit the stage, some mumbling meanderings requesting that God just help me to go out there and be myself.

Being as objective as I can be, I seemed to get thje reaction of the night, kudos from the BCF director and the club owner, as well as a bunch of patrons coming up to me after the show to ask where I was playing in the near future.

It never ceases to amaze me that when I relax and just roll with it, I seem to kick ass, and when I obsess about something, my results are generally best described as craptastic. All I have to do now is print a bio-page, slap it together with a headshot and the DVD.

My friend Debbie and her brother did a sweet job making a DVD case that actually makes it look like I know what I am doing. It always blows me away when people put together something so professional looking in half an hour.

I should lay off poker for a couple of days. If I do, I will probably find myself qualifying for that early tournament.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Rule of Thumb

Now I'm not saying it's a virtual law or anything, and while I am sure there are exceptions... but as a rule, if you give yourself a nickname, you are in fact, a jackass.

I ventured down to Foxwoods last Friday to get into a live tournament (as opposed to on-line). Deep into the tourney, I was seated at a table with a guy I had not yet seen, but had heard frequently throughout the day. He was chattering non-stop, and when I asked him his name, he replied, "Ninja".

Editors note: Not "THE" Ninja, just ninja

Ninja was a player of a variety I never care to be. Decent enough, but relying heavily on annoyance as a tool against the other players. He also liked to say Sir at least twice in a sentence, generally starting and ending said sentence with "sir".

The tourney got down to 18 players from the original 115. Two tables left, and I am across from Ninja. I am one from the buttom with A4 hearts, not a great hand, but I am in good position and the guy in the big blind is short stacked. The guy on the button is short as well. The only guy I am worried about is in the small blind, he has a few more chips than I have at this point, which is about 10,000 or so.

I throw all in.

To my chagrin, the guy in the small blind calls and has AK. I got very lucky and hit A4 on the flop, winding up with a full house to my opponents three aces, doubling my chip stack in the process.

There were about 26,000 chips on the table that I had to stack, they are all over the place, but the dealer has already dealt the next hand and the action is to me. I look down and see QJ suited. Not a great hand again, but I am late position, so I call. I hadn't heard it, but apparently
Ninja had raised. I mention that I didn't hear the raise called, but Ninja holds me to my call, which is now 3,100.

"Sir...sir, you have to call sir, sir..."

Okay, so I throw in the chips.

Long story short, the lesson I learned is to pay attention to the cards and leave the chips all over the table if you have to.

Ninja, look, I can't call him Ninja anymore. This guy was a shlub of epic proportions. He was much more of a Stanley or a Hermie than a Ninja. I could picture him being robbed of enough lunch money in middle school to erase the national deficit.

Anyway, Stanley/Ninja explodes when I raise him on the river. He gets out of his chair and starts yelling, "you trying to steal the pot? NO ONE steals a pot on me, here's your 6 grand!" and he knocks his stack of chips over, shoving them into the pot.

Okay, I know what you're thinking, the man is unstable, I mean the man is obviously putting on a show to bait me into calling. The funny thing is, I knew this, it was obvious. The way he bet before the flop indicated he had AK, meaning he now had a full house.

Then it happened, as my friend Beau says, I was "seduced by the chips". I saw all those chips, added them in my head and realized I would be the trounament chip leader if I won the pot, ignoring the fact I already knew in my pot, primarily that I was not going to win the pot because I did not have the best hand.

Like a bonehead, I called and lost all my chips, to no one's amazement, not even my own.

Ninja/Stanley: "Sir...sir, I have the nuts (best possible hand) sir, sir... Stevie WONDER could have seen THAT comin'."

Okay, so the guy was an imbicile, but he was right. That's the thing with No Limit Hold "Em tournaments; there's no down time, no time is a good time to slip out of focus. One hand played wrong, and you're done.

To my credit, I took it like a gentleman, even though my opponent jumped around like a rotund monkey on crack. I played in the afternoon tournament and came up short of the money, but I have to say, I executed perfectly... meaning I made no mistakes. I was bounced from the tournament late in the action when I ran into pocket aces, and that's a hazard of the game. There's just nothing you can do about it but tip your cap and move on.

Ot I guess you could yell "Sir... sir... I'm a jackass, sir sir?"

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Foxwoods, den of thieves

So I make my return to Foxwoods, (or "F**kwoods" as I always liked to call it) tomorrow morning. I really need to get some experience playing live tournaments prior to htting the WSOP in late July. Sure, I have played a zilion hands and seen just about every scenario imaginable online, but live poker is just, well... different.

I need to see if I can pull the trigger when I need to, even if I am looking at two cards that add up to jack-squat.

Of course, my one live tournament experience was a rich one, sitting at the televised table 3 seats down from reigning world champion Joe Hachem, amongst several other pros and sharks. I wish I had had a few more playable hands, but the experience was a good one, and I would do a few things differently given the opportunity.

Namely, I would ask for the timekeeper every time Hachem dragged a hand out. He had this shtick when someone caught a hand on him and he knew he had to fold. He would take like 5 minutes to fold and sigh, grind his teeth, and shake his head in disbelief. Apparently, it was real important to him that everyone at the table realize he had been done wrong by the poker gods and really had been dealt a bad break, no pun intended. He wanted it known that he was playing big hands, but he played a zillion hands, so he obviously wasn;t just playing big hands.

Anyway, the lesson there is that I am going to stick up for myself regardless of who is at the table. No single player should be able to hold an entire table hostage regardless of who he is. The guy was taking valuable opportunities for hands away from the rest of us, and that is b.s... period.

Anyway, I am looking forward to a live tourney tomorrow and am riding down to Satan's workshop with fellow local comic Marc Basch.

We should have some good experience to share. He has played in the small tourneys there many times, so can probably give me a good heads-up on them. On the contrary, I have qualified for a couple of pro tourneys, namely the WSOP, which he, (and every other card player in the country) would like to get in on, so I can send across a few tips on qualifying.

All in all, it should be interesting, to say the least.

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