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    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Poker In The Back

    I know that you, my loyal readers, are wondering how things have been lately pokerwise. Dweeze, you ask, how the cards treating you?

    Pretty good, thanks, and is that a new hairdo? It looks nice.

    Anyway, played in my first live tourney last week. It was the freeroll at the American Legion, and Greenman, Tanman, Matt, and I entered as something to do before the midnight showing of X3. Ja and Josh, other regulars from our weekly game, showed up as well.

    I was a little nervous as I sat down. For one thing, they didn’t identify the chips when they handed them to me. I wasn’t sure what was what amount. For another, I wasn’t sure what it would be like to play face to face against strangers.

    The chip thing solved itself immediately. I got an ace when cards were dealt to see who would deal, resulting in me being the first person to deal. Because I wasn’t in the blinds right away, I could see how others were using their chips and figure out the denominations that way.

    The second thing was fine, too. I guess I’ve played enough games online against complete strangers to get a quick comfort level. The big difference, of course, is that you can watch and read other people’s reactions. But the basics of play were exactly the same, and I was fine.

    There was another area where playing online helped. Because it was a freeroll, with $3 rebuys for the first hour, there were a lot of people pushing, going all in with low pairs or draws on the theory that they could always buy back in. This was similar to what happens in online tourneys, where people push all in with little because it didn’t cost them anything to enter the tourney. What I learned online, to sit back and bide my time, mucking a lot of playable hands yet playing the hands I chose to play aggressively, helped a lot here. In that first hour I only entered three hands when I wasn’t in the blinds and I won all three, taking down another player (who quickly bought back in) each time. Not only did I not have to rebuy, I came out of the first hour with a nice stack of chips.

    I continued to build on that stack for awhile until that table got broken up. (After the first hour, as people got busted and the number of people remaining in the tourney shrunk, people were reassigned to other tables so that there were always at least 6-7 people at a table.) At that point I got sent to a table where Greenman and Ja were sitting. I wasn’t the big stack, but I was in okay position. It stayed that way for awhile, but I then hit a streak where I wasn’t able to consistently build on the stack. I ended up calling a couple of all ins that I lost, though I have no regrets about the calls. One time I called a A-10 with A-J and the 10 hit. Another time I had Q-Q and lost to someone who hit their A. So it wasn’t bad calls on my part, just poker. Still, I remained in the game as the number of people dropping out grew.

    Our weekly game represented itself well, too. Eighty people started the tourney, six from our game. All six made the final twenty-five. Four of us, including me, made the top ten. And three of us, including me, made the final table. Unfortunately for me, I went out eighth and the tourney only paid six spots. I was on the lower end of the chip count when the final table started, and I couldn’t catch anything. My all in hand was Js, and I was close to doubling up, when the chip leader, the only person to call me, hit her A on the river. The bad thing was, not only was it a river loss, but she was one of the people I had knocked out during the rebuy period. But again, that’s poker. The other two members of the weekly game to reach the final table, Tanman and Greenman, finished fifth and second respectively.

    There’s tourneys at the Legion every Tuesday and Thursday, and I may go again tonight. It’s a pay tourney, $10 with no rebuys, but they pay more places. So we’ll see.

    Another poker story, from playing last night. I don’t believe in bad beats – any cards can come up at any time, no matter the odds against it happening – so any beat is possible. But I do believe in hard beats, and I saw an incredibly hard one last night.

    It was at a 10,000 chip 18 person sit and go. These pay four places. It was down to five people left, and the play got very tight because no one wanted to miss the bubble. The chip leader had about 10,000 in chips, second was about 8,000, third about 7,000, I had around 1,500, and the short stack had 500. Blinds were at 250/500, and the short stack was about to hit the big blind. The big stack was small blind, second place the big blind. The big stack called, second stack raised, big stack called.

    The flop comes down 8s-Ks-Qh. Big stack acts first, bets about 1,000. Second stack calls. Turn comes down Qd. Big stack checks, second stack bets 2,000, big stack calls. Right now there is about 8,000 in the pot. Turn comes down Js. That makes a flush draw and a straight draw on the board. Big stack checks, second stack goes all in, big stack calls. Second stack shows Q-J, for a full house queens over jacks. Big stack shows a K-Q, for a full house queens over kings, knocking the second stack out and putting the rest of us in the money.

    Think about that. There you are, thinking you have the best hand (at least from the turn forward), then making your boat only to discover that you never had the best hand, you were behind from the start, and the person with more chips than you not only had a bigger boat, but they had it a card earlier. That’s a hard beat.

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