Trouble on the Bubble
Saturday, May 21, 2005
"I'm in trouble on the Bubble," I joked as I sat around a table with two fellow bloggers and a couple of other players. I was the short stack out of 5 players left in a 14 person tournament. I did not know how prophetic my remark was. For tonight, I was Bubblicious. Two tournaments, both out on the bubble.
The night was not an entire loss. For at the tournament was none other than my Blogger role model (okay, maybe more like my blogger inspiration) Dr. Pauly himself. And along with Pauly, was a couple of other bloggers, including F-Train, Mas, and Joaquin. How did I end up in a mid-town apartment Saturday afternoon and evening with a bunch of strangers and an assortment of bloggers? I guess that goes back to Pauly, too. See, when I started this website, it was because I found Pauly's and some other bloggers' sites. I was more than entertained. Here was a way for an individual to share his or her (poker) experiences and reflect. So, I jumped on the bandwagon, and started my ongoing effort to build my blog by contacting some of my favorite bloggers. Pauly, a fellow NYer, is the closest thing to an Internet poker celebrity that there is. His site is widely read, and the content is top-notch. So I contacted him first and foremost. He gave me some solid tips on how to start my blog, and over time invited me to the tournament at his friend's apartment. I was flattered, for sure. But I also knew I had to take the opportunity to meet Pauly and play some poker.
I am not a shy person, but I am also not necessarily outgoing either. I mean, I can be sociable, but my crass, sarcastic humor has put off more than a few people...and that's when things are going smoothly. Entering Toni's apartment (the host of the tourney) I didn't know what to expect. Small talk is not my specialty. However, after entering the slightly ajar door (no one responded to my knock or doorbell), Pauly sighted me and called me over. He was talking to F-Train, a fellow blogger whose site I had only perused (for SurfControl reasons). Soon, Joaquin and "Poker Genius" Mas, two other bloggers, joined the group. I must say, everything was really cool. All three of the guys I mentioned, as well as Pauly's bro Derek, and Ugarte, were good people. What I mean by that is, some people are assholes. Or they put on airs. Or they have a host of other serious social defects. But not this crowd. This was a fun time crowd. Good people all around. We got along well, had some drinks, smoked a bit, and played some poker.
Now for the poker. I played fairly well. Not great, but not terribly either. I was hoping for a big win in front of my poker peers, but left down a sad $115. Let me suggest that you check out Pauly or F-Train's blogs for more details. These two players were sighted taking notes that will far surpass my drunken recall. So, I will just give a broad idea of how the games went, until I can copy and paste some better details. Hahaha! Of course, I'm joking. No copy-and-pasting for me...it's not the plagiarism that burns me. I'm just lazy.
The first $50 tournament started with 14 people. I sat to the left of Kathy, a newer player who apparently had a decent poker streak going for her. I ended up sitting behind in at EVERY table that night. Lucky for me, she was good company. Pauly was on my right. More good company. I took down the first two or three hands due to some aggressive play and lucky flops. I thereafter grinded my way into the top 9, when the tables combined. I was placed, by random, to the left of Kathy again. But this time, to my right was F-Train with so many chips the table was ready to buckle on him. Through some selective hands and aggressive play, I coasted into the top 5. Four spots paid. One player, Ken, was way short on chips. But an unfortunate (for me) double up off of F-Train got him healthy again. The other short-stack, Kathy, went all-in two times in a row, stealing Pauly's small and big blinds. I expected Pauly to call and take her out, but he must not have gotten the telepathic signals I was sending.
Suddenly I look down, and I am the short stack. I had enough for two blinds, and I was in the big blind. My cards were atrocious (I can't remember what) and faced with a large raise and a caller, I folded it down. In the small blind, I knew it was now or never. Fortunately, it was only me and the big blind, F-Train. I looked down for 56o. Yipee! I raised all-in, which was the same as calling F's big blind. Without a decision, F-Train flipped his AJo. I triumphantly announced, "I've got you dominated," and showed my 56o. After a chuckle from the table and five undesirable cards, I was out of the tourney, on the bubble.
I mulled about for a bit, trying to regain my mental composure. I sat with $20 in a cash game, dealer's choice, and gave out another $15 in donations. Omaha hi/lo, my pick, went horribly wrong, after I overvalued my low. Other games faired just as bad. When the second tournament was announced, I had $53 in cash and chips, just enough for the $50 buy-in.
I really was proud of my play mid-way through the second tournament. I called a decent pre-flop raise from Mas in the BB with 34o and missed the flop by a mile. When Mas checked to me, I made a raise that was just short of the pot. He laid down his cards, and I showed my 34o. More accurately, I threw them on the table face up, and when I realized that a couple of beer bottles blocked his view, I pushed the cards right in front of him in an act of involuntary gloating. I really just wanted to make sure he saw those damn cards. A little while later, I was faced with AA with a shorter stack. A player in front of me raised to 200 (we start with 1000), and I went all-in with 600. A player after me, Steve, called all-in with his 550, and the original bettor called as well. I had my AA, Bettor had KK, Steve had QQ. After five uneventful cards, I tripled up. Two hands later, I raised pre-flop with 27o, the hammer. Mas had limped in already. He and the blinds laid it down to my monster hand. I showed it again and announced, "The Hammer!" Grubby would've been proud. I showed another bluff to Mas (he was getting the brunt of my bluffing attacks), and loosened up my play a bit. When it was down to 5 (4 paid) I was in decent shape. I was in the top 2 or 3, but I got into some situations in which I had to call someone else's all-in after my pre-flop raise. In one instance, I had KJ, bet 600 pre-flop (higher blinds), and was raised another 250. I called to see AJ in my opponent's hand. I hit my K (two in fact), but the AJ hit the Broadway straight. I finally went out when I faced Toni. I was in the BB, with about T800, and short-stacked. The BB was 200. I had 9 10o, and all players folded to Toni, the SB, who raised to 400. I could either fold and lose 1/4 of my chips, call and likely fold anyway losing 1/2 of my chips, or go all-in. I looked at Toni for a while. If she is reading this, I'm giving away some info, but she was such a gracious host that I consider it a gift. She was bobbing her head left and right humming to the song playing on the stereo. She was doing it in such a way that it could not be missed. She wanted me to think that she had no cares in the world. But I saw through it. I saw her faking her strength. Ask Mike Caro, and he'll tell you, Weak means Strong, and Strong means Weak. She was acting Strong, so I knew she was Weak. I went all-in. She stated that she thought she had 2 overcards (she thought I had a small pocket pair), and called. She held JQ, definitely a weaker hand. But not as weak as mine. I was out in 5th place.
Some of the players were already playing a cash game, but I had only $3 on me, and I knew that any playing would be on tilt anyway. I took it as a cue to leave, and I did just that. It was a great experience. Bloggers are good people, and their friends are the same. I hope to be invited again in the future. Pauly is off to Vegas soon, but when he gets back, we are definitely going to meet up. Thank you to all at the game. Ugarte, sorry I didn't post your link, but as soon as I get your website URL, consider it done. I'm out!
posted by Jordan @ 11:16 PM,
- At 10:30 PM, said...
Hey, you're not the first man to tell me I'm a bad actress...so no hard feelings.
Glad you had a good time at the tourneys.
- At 11:28 PM, Mas said...
It was a pleasure meeting you - and no hard feelings about pushing me out of pot after pot.
You were a tough read for me all nite - and it was a lot of fun collecting chips in that second tourney only to pass them right over to you.
Actually I was intending to come over the top of you on that 24o hand - but your overbet of the pot essentially left me with only an all-in move. I just didn't have the heart to do it...
It definitely wasn't fun having those cards thrown at me after I mucked - but you got my respect.
I was thinking "we're fixin' to play a pot" - but fortunately (for me) that never happened.
Better luck next time dude. For what it's worth I thought you played really great in the second tourney. Sometimes in poker - there is no justice.
- At 11:47 PM, Derek McG said...
it was great meeting you!
- At 10:21 AM, HighOnPoker said...
Hey guys, thanks for commenting.
Toni, I have to admit, on the way into NYC from LI, I was reading Caro's Book of Poker Tells (highly recommended) to prepare, so your tell may not have been so noticeable to me otherwise. Regardless, your tell made me overcommit to bad cards, so who is laughing now?
Mas, thanks for the compliments. I'm often my own worst critic. I didn't feel like I was playing my best (I'm sure some intoxication contributed). You just got in the way of a couple of my opportune bluffs. I had a great time playing against you though. You were one of the players I was worried about near the end. No surprise, you played a great game.
Derek, the pleasure was all mine. Its a shame we didn't get to hang out more. Maybe another time soon.
If any of you are interested in playing at my home game, I'm considering throwing one. I'm not sure how I will work it, as my usual crowd is pretty low stakes ($20 tournaments, or .50/1 NLHE with a $20 buy-in). That said, I think most of the guys are willing to move up a level, so these amounts can be changed.
Once again, thank you all, especially Toni for her hospitality.
- At 12:48 PM, Dr. Pauly said...
Thanks for coming by, Jordan. It was cool to final meet you. I'll definitely play in one of your home games when I get back into town!
- At 7:29 PM, Charles Star said...
Nice meeting you too. Sorry we didn't get to talk much. I'll have the details of the cash game on a very relaxed publishing schedule at Rick's Cafe.