Friday, December 30, 2005

My stupidity is not important

I'm dumb, but my poker idiocy is not important.

One of the guys from my poker game (and a great guy in his own right, even if he never played poker with me) is in the hospital.

The day after Christmas, Kida had a brain aneurysm. I'm not smart enough to know what that really means, until I look it up on I will classify that under Very Serious Shit until such time has he walks into my apartment and tell me to deal him in.

Knowledge about his situation is tough to come by. I know he had emergency surgery, and a stay in ICU. There was something about a surgery-induced coma, that he is since out of. His family is privvy to visits and all the info, and the info is hard to come by. While not a religious man, I know Kida is, and I've said a prayer or three to his God and/or my God to give him some help. The latest news is that he's doing better, the surgeries (plural?) have helped, he's getting better, but he's still not well enough to leave the hospital.

Today's my off day, and hopefully he'll be well enough to have me visit him in the hospital.

And yes, I'm so cheesy that I'm bringing a deck of cards and some chips. If he wants to play, we'll play. If he can't play, maybe I'll put some aces by his bedside.

He's only one month older than I am. This isn't supposed to happen.

Kida is still in the hospital, recovering. As just one of the guys that knows him well, I'm not allowed to visit him. Actually, nobody is. The game plan for Kida is slow for the time being. He's recuperating, and they want to keep his blood pressure low. They also want to give him a CAT scan every day for two weeks to make sure that nothing else is going wrong in his brain, and he's healing up.

So they reason that if he had visitors, he'd perk up, and his increased blood pressure might hurt his healing, in his brain and elsewhere.

So I haven't been in to see him, but I have had his best friend promise me that he'll talk to me immediately when he's well enough to see people. This is the same best friend that snuck into the hospital to watch Kida get wheeled into the OR with a phalanx of medical staffers moving monitoring equipment with him.

He had a look of astonishment, and sadness about him.

At least he has emotions. At least he has hope. He's on the way up. I just have to wait until he's well enough to receive visitors.


And it never makes me sad when I'm actually playing poker, to think about Kida. I don't - I'm always so focused on the game at hand. Everyone in the game I host, we all know Kida, almost everybody has played with him. It's afterwards, when I reflect on things, that I think about the tough times that face him... then, I get sad.

How can I help? How can I make a difference?

Right now, it's waiting. It's prayer - from a man who believes that God exists, and isn't sure of much else. In the days to come, I hope to be useful and comforting.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Best Laydown We've Never Seen

The ranking season is over, and both Albert and Russ passed me. Bragging rights for them (and we like to brag!). I was getting very low, and pushed in the CO with A9o. Shawn found a suited Big Slick in his BB, and I was out in 9th. I realized that Slick has been present the last three times I've busted out of the Tustin game. I ran into it twice, and shoved it into pocket kings.

Russ won the Double Stakes tourney, with some absolutely amazing cards. He started at a soft table, and was dealt big cards. In one rotation, he was dealt pocket kings and aces twice each. During the evening, he admitted to having aces an amazing seven times.

The big hand he folded may have been the most important though.

Ten handed, Chill raised UTG, and Russ reraised substantially from the SB. Chill immediately shoved the rest of his chips into the pot. It was a huge reraise. Everything about Chill's body language screamed "big hand". I thought for sure Russ would call and we'd see the two chipleaders fight it out with big pocket pairs.

Russ agonized. And finally, after counting it out, finding out Chill had him covered by just a few chips, he folded. Pocket kings, he claimed later.

I believe him. And I also believe that Chill had aces. I'll never know for sure.

So the deck hit Russ upside the head the entire night, but it was the big fold he made that may have made all the difference.

If that's what actually happened, Russ deserves the Number One Spot.


Saturday, December 17, 2005

Everybody else rules

All the Vegas reports are outstanding. Great reads and pics all over the place! The cab ride, the Roshambo'ing, the tales of drunkeness.... all good. Oh, and the poker too. Yeah, I'm a little jealous.


I've been playing more cheapy MTT's lately, and I've been in the money more often than not. Unfortunately, I'm busting out just inside the money, a loooong way from any final tables. My most recent "success" was a big score of $2 on bodog in their $1K guaranteed freeroll. Free to enter, and I got paid in real money. The concept of "something for nothing" is more appealing to me than it should be.


A few of the regulars at my home poker game are abuzz over the ranking systems we've been trying out. We had a few people propose them, and ran with four slightly different ones, all on a ten-week trial. The tenth tourney is this Sunday, and we're doing it Double Stakes. Albert is the top dog in all of the rankings, except the one he proposed. I'm first in that one. Bragging rights is all that's at stakes here, but apparently we like to brag.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Follow the money

I played in the $5 rebuy $10K guaranteed on UB last night. Unlike most rebuys, my table was very tight - we had maybe half a dozen rebuys in the allowed hour. Really. And one guy was ticked off at this. He was watching a buddy of his playing at easily the loosest table in the tourney. Almost every hand had more than 2 all-ins preflop. Sometimes five players, all-in before the flop, with such confrontations as A3-hearts vs 33 vs K7o vs QJo.

The all-in-leader was ChiliKing. I'm pretty sure he was into the tourney for $100, five at a time. He was probably going to have to finish 9th to break even.

By the end of the rebuy phase, that table had five of the top 12 players on the chipleader toteboard. Half the table. ChiliKing was sitting on a decent stack of 9K after the add-on. The top 5/12 had 17K+.

Just like last time, I could get any momentum going, and ended the rebuy phase with 4K, after the addon. At least I was only into the tourney for $15.50... well, $10.50 plus some points.

Just for kicks, I reviewed the standing of that table (top 80 paid). The shorties finished between 443rd and 482nd. The chipleaders finished 474th, 279th, 214th, 119th, and 10th (for just over $100).

I was also keeping an eye on Poker Ho, who is often found playing big money tourneys. He was 3rd overall at the end of the rebuy phase. He ended up 117th.

I ran into a few strong hands about a half hour before the bubble, and got busted in 133rd.

And ChiliKing finished in 6th, more than tripling his money. I think I may have found a new UB tourney whiz to watch.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Quick update

The recap:

Two Sundays ago, I donked it up horribly, rebuying three times, then finishing dead last, busting out to Shawn. He called a 2/3 the pot bet with an openeder, and I called his all-in with TPTK to see his turned straight. Always nice to get your money in drawing dead with one card to come.

My cashgame play has been odd. I've been into the game for multiple buy-ins, but I ended up the night within a buy-in profit/loss. Up $8, down $5. *shrug* I seem to be doing well enough. Though I need to remember to bet into Albert on the river. He's proving to be the toughest to trap, and the least likely to bet a very strong but not nut hand when he thinks I'm up to something fishy. He flops trip tens with ATo, I turn the nut full house with my kings, and we go check-check on the river. Nice no-bet.

Last Sunday was a different story, and it was a nice one. Attendance was down a little due to college exams out there, with 8 players buying in to the first tourney. I made a timely doubleup against Albert when my J7o and his 76o flopped straights from the blinds on a scary board, T-9-8, two diamonds. I made the last raise, he agonized, then called. From there, I didn't go overboard trying to bully the table, especially with Austin's distaste for folding before the flop.

The tourney was effectively won when we were three-handed, and I raised Austin's BB with pocket fives. Nice flop: Q-9-5, two hearts. Doubleas & GCox agree: sets are a goldmine! I did not want to see a large heart hit the board, so I bet roughly the pot. And Austin checkraised me! I took some time to think before I called. The turn helped nobody, a black 3. He checked, leading me to believe he had a very strong draw, like KT-hearts or something. I bet another sizeable amount, and he checkraised me again! It wasn't much more for me to go all-in, and Austin tabled his two pair, Q5o. I had Austin covered by $600 in chips. Poor Albert was sitting there (now in the money) with almost $5K, and I have the rest of it, $42K or so. It wasn't long after that I found KQo, got all-in preflop with Al's ATo, and rivered a flush to finish it.

It wasn't even 11 yet, so we decided to play again, this time a $10 freezeout with 6 players. Second place got their buy-in back, top guy got $50. I won that one too, after plenty of back and forth with Skipper heads-up.

This was a fun hand: AQo in the SB, with two limpers. For some reason, I decided not to pop it, and called. Russ in the BB, pushed all-in, and started counting out his chips. It was a fairly large overbet, but he was probably playing the situation more than his cards. He seemed fairly sure he wasn't going to get called. So I called, and his A6o didn't improve. I'll have to remember that next time Russ is on my left with a short-medium stack of chips.

Online has been an adventure. I've coughed up some cash, five bucks at a time, in UB's $5 rebuy feeder tourney for their $300+20 WSOP satellite. 29th out of 125 and 14th out of 121, with the top 5 getting seats each time, and the top 10-11 getting into the money. In the 14th place finish, I was on the leaderboard at the second hour break, third out of 35 or so. Getting my kings cracked by A2o hurt. Trip two's, no less.

I played some $.5/$1 limit Omaha/8 and finished up a whole buck. It was my first attempt at moving up a level. It was nice to see I didn't donk my way around too badly. The table seemed just a bit more likely to raise preflop, and just a bit less likely to stick around with subpar draws. The level of play isn't a huge improvement. Time will tell if I can be profitable at this level. I sure hope so.

I monied in a $5 turbo MTT, 22nd out of 370 or so. $13 is better than nothing. I also had a fun 2nd place in a 30-person $5 sng.

My bankroll is holding steady, but I am enjoying taking shots at a few tourneys.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Donkey-est (donkiest?) Call Ever

Here's an interesting hand for you. But first, a little background.

It's a $5, 10-person SnG on UB. GCox is lounging comfortably at my table, folding the trash and trouncing people with his premium holdings. It's six- or seven-handed at this point, and we've had the current BB yap about his poker knowledge. In short, he's the table expert. At a $5 table, oh yeah.

The table had been playing fairly passively, and I limp on the button with K3-clubs after two limpers, figuring I'll bet if it's checked to me on the flop. The BB Know-It-All pot-raises. He's done this at least three times now, each and every time it was his BB and it was limped around.

Clearly, he's playing the situation and his opponents now, and not his cards.

I call his raise, and see a flop that misses me entirely: 7-5-5, two spades. Predictably, the BB KIA pushes his stack in, almost a pot-sized bet. Insta-shove. This simply looks like an extension of his preflop move. "You're weak, I'm strong, you fold now."

I call.

No pair. No draw. King high. I truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that my hand has a strong chance of being best. That I'm about to call a huge bluff.

Know-It-All shows A8-spades. Nut draw semibluff. I have him covered by 2K with the BB at 60 (or I probably would've folded).

He saves his explosion for a split second, when that red three turns and the river bricks. EXPLODES in his righteous fury over the abomination that is Donkey Poker and the injustice that is Ultimate Bet. I have never been so berated.

Or amused. I just made the worst call I can ever remember making. With two cards to come, I'm 12% to win the hand.

I made a read, and stuck with it. It turned out to be horribly, horribly wrong. So often, the Donkey is screwing me. Now, I am the Donkey.

As a parting shot, I reminded him that I WANT people to call my all-ins with no pair, no draw. That he should be thanking me for such a bad call when it mattered most. I hope I came off as philosophical and not assholish.

A year ago, I would've never considered a call there. Because I was scared. Scared of being wrong. Scared of looking like a Poker Idiot in front of people (GCox among them).

So I did. I looked like a dunce. A Luckbox Without Equal. This is new to me, like I'm trying on a shirt I'm not sure I like.

But the ending was fun. NOBODY attempted to bluff me for the rest of the tourney. Well, maybe GCox threw some in there when we were headsup, but while shorthanded, I was given a very wide berth. I had the chiplead, and nobody wanted to test me to see what I'd call with next. They check, I bet, I take the pot. Good times.

I started heads-up with GCox having about a 2-1 chip advantage over me. There was some hand in there that put me comfortably in the lead (after many small skirmishes).

I raised on the button with the Hammer. The true, offsuit Hammer (I had folded a Suited Hammer face up earlier in the tourney). GCox pushed. I was getting just about the proper odds to call with any two, and called. The flop had a two, the turn and river didn't help G's unpaired hand, and it was over.

The Donkey had won. With the Hammer.

Long live Donkey Poker!!