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The Clouds Have Parted

During a particularly exciting hand - it doesn't matter if I'm bluffing or holding the nuts - I'll get a rush of adrenaline. I usually notice it first when it reaches my heart. My heartbeat speeds up, and I can feel it beating through my chest. My hands seize up next, going from limber to shakey and stilted. When playing online, it makes it hard to type. When its live, I fumble my chips. Sometimes, if I'm in good company, I'll point out my shakey hands. After all, the heart beating and the shakey hands are just part of the feeling I'm talking about. It's the sheer feeling of elation that is the real centerpiece to this adrenlaine rush. All aches and pains seize to exist. I feel a rush of joy coming over me that I can only give into. After all, this is why I play, to get High on Poker.

The majority of that last sentence was written Friday night. I was dabbling online after wifey Kim fell asleep, and got involved in a typical NLHE hand where I held strong cards. My opponent called, and that adrenaline rush completed. I opened blogger and typed away quickly, trying to capture the feelings inside. I questioned posting it, now that my mother is reading my blog (hey mom!) and it tends to support the contention that poker is an addicting vice. But this is the reality of the game, at least as it pertains to me. I love that rush of adrenaline. It's why I named my blog High on Poker. So turning a blind eye to the intoxicating effect of poker is just disingenuous.

Things have been moving nicely for ole Jordan. I settled a case this morning for a decent sum, considering the potential problems with the case. I completed a great deal of the work that was keeping me occupied these last few weeks. And I had some success at poker.

Ah, poker. How I love thee. Last night, I was in the mood to play, but I wasn't in the right mindset. I had two parties yesteday, first wifey Kim's friends engagement party, and then wifey Kim's family-friend's Bar Mitzvah. Wifey Kim and I were all over LI, skipping the second half of the engagement party and the first half of the Bar Mitzvah. Amazingly, though, we got home before 8:30pm, and went about our evening killing time. After a while, I felt the poker bug, but didn't see anything that particularly interested me. Recently, my online bankroll took a dip. I was down to about $50 on Poker.com, Stars, and FullTilt ($50 on each site), due to usual variance at Poker.com and a withdrawal at FT. I rarely play at Stars, so that account is always like a last ditch poker fund. Whatever the case, I couldn't justify a $20 tournament and $10 tournaments didn't fit my mood. Amazingly, I checked out my FT account and realized I had four tokens, three $75 tokens and one $26 token. I had started collecting them in anticipation for the Hoys and the Big Games, but I always seem to miss the Big Game, resulting in my stockpiling of $75 tokens. I usually earn them through the 9:45 pm Token Frenzies on FT, a $14+1 buy-in tournament awarding $75 tokens. I can generally win a token about 2/3 times, which is a great return. And usually, its mindless poker, literally folding until I get a monster, then jamming. Win two or three significant hands and you can fold into the money.

When I won $3000 in a tournament, it was due to a $75 token I earned in a Frenzy. A couple of nights ago, before the last Big Game (that I missed for personal reasons), I asked Fluxer if he was playing the Big Game. He told me he had already used his token in a single table SNG. For whatever reason, this conversation stuck with me, so at about 9:30 last night, I signed up for a single table $75 SNG. It looked like it would take a while to fill up, so I also signed up for the $75-buy-in turbo single table tournament and the $26 Tier II token SNG. I also signed up for a cheapy $5 PLO tournament at Poker.com.

While I waited, I went about my business. Every few minutes, I'd check back to see if any of the tournaments were near full. On my last try, a window popped up, showing that the original $75 SNG was about to start. I considered multi-tabling, but ultimately opted to keep it single table, since $75 was a decent buy-in and I wanted to play my best. If I wasn't in the right mindframe, I would get myself to the right mindframe by sheer force of will.

I started off playing in my living room. Wifey Kim was in the bedroom watching a show I had already seen, so I turned up some Howard Stern on Sirius Radio and focused on the game. Or, at least I tried. On more than one occasion (and yes, I checked the last post for spelling), I caught myself distracted. In those instances, I muted the TV, or closed the browser window and recommitted myself to the game. I decided to play my game, instead of a tight strategy. I was far from manic, choosing to be selectively aggressive, and began chipping up relatively early.

All of this was predicated on my read of the table. In the early-goings, the table was very tight and a 3x or 4x BB raise was enough to take down the pot. This is very different from most single table tournaments (aka SNGs), where there are at least two or three terribly loose players, maybe another two super tight players, and the rest falling somewhere in between. I surmised that the $75 tournament was tighter for a few reasons: 1st, the stakes were higher, as were the payouts, so some players were probably playing for third. 2nd, the players were less likely to play these stakes, since they presumably got in through a $75 token. 3rd, the players are good players, having already proved themselves by earning their way into the tournament.

After a while, the tighter players seemed to revert back to a more expected style of play. Things loosened up and I began to see patterns in players' behavior. I learned that the guy on my immediate right liked to take stabs at my blinds, heads-up, and consequently punished him for his efforts. I discovered that the player three seats to my left was playing a slew of hands aggressively, so I reraised him when the time was right. I continued to plug along, building up my stack. I finally got a short stack all-in, my AQ vs. his TT, and spiked an Ace before turning a Queen to knock him out. He got mean in the chat, calling me a phucking fish. I ignored him. If he thinks a big stack shouldn't be willing to take on a shortstack for a cointoss, I wasn't going to educate him. I didn't feel the need to prove my skill or intelligence, and, in fact, I wanted to hide those two things from the other players.

When we got down to the bubble, I was in second place. The loosey goosey on my right was the chip leader by a decent margin. I just continued to play calmly. By then, I had joined wifey Kim in the bedroom, and focused on the game while she watched the end of her show. The bubble burst and I was still in 2nd place. The big stack and I took turns abusing the third place stack until he succumbed and we were heads up. I had about $3.5k. He had about 10k. And I won it. I simply played smart, focused poker. I fought back to about 4.5k to 9k, and then doubled through my opponent, leaving me with the big stack. Not too much longer, I got all-in with TT vs. AQ. This time, the TT held up, and I won $300+ for my efforts.

These Tier III token SNGs, as they are called, are just awesome. I love the fact that I won $300+ with $14 by winning an easy Token Frenzy and then beating 8 players in an SNG. I may look into using my other two $75 tokens later this week.

Winning felt great. My FT bankroll is healthy again. I may still withdraw $150 or so, since I don't trust online poker all that much, and I don't count a win on my spreadsheet until its cash in hand. In other words, after winning $300 yesterday, my spreadsheet didn't change. If I withdraw $150 of it, I'll add a $150 online poker win to my spreadsheet, since that is money I'll actually have in hand. Realistically, though, I don't need the cash, so I might as well leave it online.

I'm probably skipping the MATH tonight and the Mookie this week. The 10pm start time, double-stacks, and larger fields make the tourneys a good four hour affair, and I don't think I can spare the sleep. But don't hold me to it if you see me in one of the tourneys.

Until next time, make mine poker!

***** This post sponsored by the fine folks at the GNUF poker room. *****
*** Check out GNUF's World's Greatest Dice Roll!***

posted by Jordan @ 6:36 PM,

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