Monday, June 13, 2011

Dirty ol' money

As I walked away after exiting my first WSOP event this year, my initial thought was "I've seen this movie before". My exit, losing a 65/35 having outlasted 88% of the field but not the 90% needed to cash, was eerily similar to last year's start (when I lost a 70/30 to Durr even nearer the bubble). Let's hope the movie just started the same but turns out different this time.

It's much easier to get dragged down into despondency live than it is online. With the best will in the world, you get more emotionally invested live. Online it's possible to grind your way through a 200 buyin downswing in a week. Live, a 200 buyin downswing could take years. So it's important to try to take whatever positives you can. I was very happy with how I played: despite losing several big pots where I was a huge favourite I kept battling back. THe biggest worry is not how I'm running (there's no point worrying about that), but more how I'm feeling: tired and sore. My back injury is making sitting for long periods an uncomfortable experience.

I wasn't favoured with a good table draw. My starting table featured at least 7 pros (3-4 is the par for these events), and I was wedged between Josh "JJProdigy" Field and Bill Chen (author of The Math of Poker and one of my personal poker heroes). My most interesting hands were against Josh. Once I'd figured out who he was and noticed he was min opening a lot, I started three betting light every so often. Not that often, but often enough to establish a bit of history and make him wonder how come the old guy beside him seemed to only get hands when he'd opened. Initially he folded every time but I was sure that wouldn't last. Then I picked up my first hand (aces), three bet him again, and this time he peeled. He check raised me all in on a ten four two flop with eights and I held.

The chips went back the other way shortly after. He limped the small blind, I raised with eights from the big blind, he shoved for 23 bbs, and I called after some thought. Given the history, I think it's a pretty straightforward call. He had sevens, I hit a set on the river that gave him a spade flush draw, and a fourth spade fell on the river.

That table broke shortly afterwards. The rest of the day I bounced from table to table, and by the time we got to the last level of the day, I was up to 15k and on my fifth table. Blinds were escalating and I open shoves fives into ace jack. First card out was a 5 so I relaxed thinking I was home and hosed, but the other 2 flop cards, kq, gave the aj a gutter which he hit on the turn. That left me with a couple of big blinds but I won a race against Erica Schoenberg to get going again and ended with almost 12k. Shortish but workable.

My day 2 table looked handy enough apart from a German and as Asian who were looking to abuse the bubble. The Asian was opening everything from mid position which meant I wasn't getting any shoves from late position, and needed to either find a hand or shove from early position. I maintained my stack using the latter strategy until I finally picked up AK, which I duly reshoved over the Asian. He took a little while to work out he was getting 2 to 1 before calling with QTo. First card out was a ten and that was that.

The other half of Team Bro, Mark Dalimore, had showed up late on Saturday, and railed me Saturday night. We went for a quick drink in TGI Fridays and ran into Scott Gray who was in great form. Mark stayed in my room but disappeared Sunday morning to check into the Hilton. He re-appeared in the Rio after my exit and asked me what my plans were. I said I wanted to play the Megastack turbo in Caesars so he drove me there and we jumped in.

Anyone who has met Mark will know he's a larger than life character. Although we're similar in many ways, we're polar opposites in others. I'm usually the quietest person in the poker room, and he's always the loudest. So I'm sitting there "in the zone" with my ipod, he's at another table with his back to me, and I CAN STILL HEAR THE FECKER :)

We'd jumped in just before the break. As I was standing up having played no hands, I saw all of Mark's chips being pushed to another player. He assured me the exit was standard, based on what he thought he had. He popped up at my table to put a bounty on my head so we could go get a Chinese. I made some headway with queens, then lost a chunk in a threeway all in (AJs v 64o and J9o).

A lot of the American kids table talk is about the different medicinal aids they're using to maintain focus at the table. The adderall or ritalin gives them an intensity that is a little unsettling at times. The guy who ended up knocking me out (his Q8 > my A7 blind on blind) was overfocusing not just on the game but also on the antes, constantly badgering tardy posters and getting other people to make change.

Mark railed me for a while and remarked how bored I looked at the table. I think this is a problem for most of us whose main income comes from playing multiple tables online. The lack of financial pressure on me to get results here probably doesn't help either but I need to find some way to maintain mental focus as there's no point showing up if I'm not going to do my best. Ritalin is a step too far imo though. Mark suggested more down time this trip and that may be worth a try. We've already agreed to a road trip to the Grand Canyon after my son Paddy gets here.

The Chinese turned out to be a Korean. I'm not the biggest fan on Korean cuisine but at least the company was top class. We swapped stories for a few hours. One of the many things I like about Mark is that unlike most people our age he doesn't pretend he knows everything and he freely admits to being a work in progress. He gave me the low down why he's no longer wearing the Ed Hardy bling and the cross around his neck that used to be his trademark.

In Caesars, at the next table from me, some young guy hyped up on Ritalin was lolling at some old guy he'd just "owned" (his words). The old guy reacted with a diatribe that went something like "Look kid, it's not important, it's not my life, my wife or my health, it's just dirty ol' money, and I've got more of it than I could ever spend unless I was very careless".



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