Outfoxing (Foxwoods Trip Report Pt. 3)
Thursday, July 31, 2008
When we last left our hero, he was back at the beautifully adequate Ramada Inn, trying to sleep while Roose and TwoDiamondPhillips operated heavy machinery in the room. That heavy machinery was their nostrils, apparently. Roose is well known as a snorer, an epic snorer, really. For that very reason, I always sleep with my iPod on if Roose and I are bunking up. That night, though, I needed something a lot stronger. Not only was Roose doing his best impersonation of a ban saw cutting through scrap metal, but TwoDiamond was pretending like he was a Mack truck gunning the motor. I don't know how they didn't wake themselves (or each other) up with the volume and seeming distressful snoring. All I know is that I was huddled on my bed, fetal position, wishing the trombone-playing monsters would just go away.
We woke up the next morning at 7:30am. We were all exhausted, but wanted breakfast before the 9am tournament at Foxwoods. The night before, 2d asked one of the staff about what time we should arrive to register. He was told, 8am the latest. Not good. Roose and I argued about having a full breakfast vs. getting to the game, but he won out, and we made our way to the Oh Boy Diner, just across the street from our hotel.
The breakfast was adequate, but mostly disappointing. I had an egg, cheese and bacon sandwich on an English muffin, and a biscuit on the side. I love me some biscuits. The sandwich came with home fried potatoes, which was nothing more than dice-sized potato chunks slightly browned. I finished the sandwich and half of the biscuit, but left the rest of my food on the plate. Among the side effects of poker is the complete destruction of my digestive system, so I wasn't much in the mood to eat anyway.
I paid for breakfast as a thank you to TwoDiamond for sleeping on the floor and to Roose for driving. We headed out and made our way to the casino. The poker room was active, if not overly busy, but that is to be expected in the early morning. We signed up for the tournament at about 8:30am. There was no line and only 16 people had signed up by that time. I mulled over whether TwoDiamond was busting chops with the 8am line or if some staffer was jerking his chain.
When the game started off, I was at a table of mostly caucasian males. I was in the 8s. The 10s was a square jawed dude who seemed to be taking himself too seriously. I was just trying to get comfortable and friendly. He had a look of steely coolness that hid a cauldron of insecurity. His girlfriend or wife or whatever pulled up a seat behind him. She was brunette, petite, and reminded me of wifey Kim in some ways. Wifey Kim, though, would never spend hours sitting behind me in a tournament, not because she would refuse, but because I wouldn't make her. I can't picture anything more boring than sitting behind someone watching them play when you can't see their cards and have no real interest in poker. I sure as hell couldn't see putting anyone else through that boredom, especially wifey Kim, whom I cherish and adore. But, hey, this guy was a tool anyway, so what was I to expect.
Before the tournament, Roose and I discussed our usual deal. On our last trip, we agreed that forevermore, we would swap 10% of any tourney we were in together. The only problem with this arrangement was that TwoDiamond wanted in. I don't mind swapping 10% with Roose, but 10 with Roose and 10 with TwoDiamond is a different story. First off, I'd seen Roose have a lot of success in tournament poker. In some ways, he is a more generous guy than I am, so he sees a swap as a way to get his friends in on the action. I see it as a hedging mechanism and try to work out deals that will not hurt me financially. I was willing to give up 10% of my action, but not 20%. And I was willing to give 10% to Roose specifically, but I hadn't seen TwoDiamond play casino poker in a long time (if ever) and I wasn't sure whether he was a good investment. I settled on a 5% swap with each of my cohorts, keeping the amount I give away the same, but lessening the investment on my two other horses.
Within the first hour or so, my starting stack of 5k had dwindled down to about 2k. I was playing at a table filled with a random assortment of skill sets. Some guys were obviously tight, other guys were mixing it up with lots of wacky raises, and still others were exhibiting early signs of calling station behavior. I, myself, just attempted to limp or call cheap preflop bets with marginal hands, hoping to outplay my opponents on a flop. I should have been tighter, in hindsight, but I had a lot of good drawing hands in multiway pots. Unfortunately, I couldn't hit a flop for shit, so accordingly, my stack simply dwindled away as I began to grasp the weak spots at my table.
I was able to win a series of small pots, bringing me up to 4k+ when my most exciting hand of the tournament occured. I was in the SB with J6d, with blinds of 100/200, no antes, when a certifiably loose player in MP min-raised to 400. A player in LP called, I called, and the BB called. The three of us saw the flop, Q42, with the 4 and 2 of diamonds, giving me a mediocre flush draw. I checked, as did the BB. The loose MP preflop raiser bet out 300. The LP player called, I called the small bet, and the BB called.
The turn was another 4, pairing the board but doing nothing for my bare J-high flush draw. I checked, as did the BB again. This time, the MP preflop raiser bet 400. The LP player called and I decided to make a move. Since I was in the SB calling a min-raise preflop, I could have just about anything. The paired 4 was an opportunity, so I raised to 1400 in an effort to represent the 4. The BB folded and the MP preflop raiser flat called. The LP player folded. I now had control of the hand.
I hoped for a diamond river, but instead, I got a blank. I only had about 2200 behind. I considered my options briefly. I couldn't wait too long, though, because a delay may induce a call if I chose to bluff. Well, bluff I did, announcing all-in. My opponent thought for a bit, looked miffed, and then folded Q7d face-up. He had top pair and a better flush draw. I took the opportunity to show my stonecold bluff. I felt it was proper at the time. I wanted to regain the table's respect from my early loose calls and as long as I was controlling the flow of information, I was confident I could use it to my advantage.
With a renewed stack and momentum, I felt more comfortable at the table. Nearby, I heard a player jump up and scream, "YEAH BABY!" when he hit some sorta miracle card, two tables over. I had made buddies with some of the guys at my side of the table, and said under my breath, "Geez, buddy, relax. He does realize that this isn't a televised event, right?" It was a throwaway comment to no one in particular, but the douschebag sitting across from me with his POA girlfriend behind him chimed in, "A guy's not allowed to celebrate?" I responded, muttering, "Yeah, I wonder how the other guy feels." It wasn't that big of a deal or even a confrontation, but I knew two things immediately. First, this guy was a student of televised poker and did not recognize the concept of poker ettiquete. It's one thing if he acted as though the celebrating wasn't excessive or even that while it isn't pleasant, what can you do; however, this guy acted like hootin' and hollerin' was an integral part of the game. The second thing I learned was that I wanted this mother fucker to bust before I did. He would become my nemesis, mostly because I didn't like the tone of his voice or his douschebaggy demeanor.
I had a little fun when his girlfriend got up and headed to the bathroom. Naturally, I followed her with my eyes as she rounded the table, to catch a peak at the ass, as I am wont to do when exposed to females who I deem to be even borderline attractive. Lesson for you kiddos out there, the ass is the first thing to go. If you were to show me a picture of a chick's ass only, I could tell you whether or not she had a good figure. The face is a complete variable with no correlation to ass-quality, but the rest of the body can be readily predicted just by those two rear cheeks.
After checking out her decent ass, I went back to the game. Three minutes later, the douschebag looked behind him and noticed that his chick was gone. "She went to the bathroom," I offered. "You keeping an eye on my girl?" he asked in a semi-serious, semi-joking way. I laughed. "Hell no, dude, but you might want to keep an eye on her." It was a duplicitous statement. It suggested that she was unattractive AND a philanderer, but I could always fall back as simply being helpful. I love territorial pissing.
A little while later, the table broke and I was sent to a new table, replete with several bigstacks, the biggest of which was on my immediate right. The gentleman was large and quiet. He didn't seem to want to interact with any of my shtick at first, but softened up after a while. I had about 3600 by this point, after squandering some of the chips I earned in my mega-bluff at the other table. I was the shortstack or thereabouts, and blinds were up to 200/400 with 50 antes, so I was clearly in the danger zone, looking for opportunities to double up or steal blinds. I folded for a while, bleeding chips all the while. Realizing that my dwindling stack looked unthreatening, I asked my bigstacked neighbor to swap my red 1k chips for two stacks of yellow 100 chips. He obliged and I joked about needing it for the psychological benefit of appearing intimidating when I eventually push all-in. I was semi-joking, in a way that apprises the listener that I am a goofball who may just be playing them. In my experience, it sows a bit of frustration and throws people off of their game. Am I some tool in a Superman T-shirt that is merely trying to be wacky, or am I a thoughtful player who is hiding behind the image of a tool?
I continued to fold until I realized that I was in dire trouble. Blinds were about to go up to 300/600, with a 75 ante, and I had yet to play a single hand at the new table. I considered pushing blind, but I feared that someone might see my blind raise, so instead, I looked at my cards, 78o, and decided that from MP/LP, it would have to do. I needed to accumulate chips or go home. I pushed all-in and amazingly it folded around. I joked about the psychology of my two yellow stacks as the next hand was dealt. AA. It got back to me and I pushed again, saying, "I hope the psychology works again." Two seats to my left, a guy pushed all-in as well. He had about the same amount of chips as me. Everyone else folded and I showed my AA. He had KK, and I just about doubled up while busting a player. "No need for psychology there," my bigstacked neighbor chimed in. "Guess not." I agreed.
An orbit later, I was dealt 99 in MP/LP and decided to push all-in again. This time, there was already an UTG limper, so when it folded to him, I wasn't too concerned when he took his time. He seemed really uncertain of what the right play was, which made me feel fairly confident that I was facing a horse-race at the worst. He finally begrudgingly called, saying, "I'll pay you off." He then showed QQ. I don't know what took him so long.
The turn was a 9, and no Queen came. I got lucky, busting the player and doubling up again. I was now up to 16k or so. My bigstacked neighbor, meanwhile, was watching his chips spread around the table.
I took my own chunk out of my bigstack neighbor when a player to his left min-raised to 2400 with blinds of 600/1200, 200 ante. My bigstacked neighbor called, I called and another one or two players called. At the time, I had 66, and was hoping to hit a set.
The flop was 348 with two spades. My bigstacked neighbor led the action with a bet of 3600. I don't recall our relative position at the time compared to the other players, but I am pretty sure we were both in LP and I already saw the other players check. I took my time, trying to determine the best move. There wasn't much play left with 600/1200 blinds, and I wasn't about to just try to fold to the money on a teeny stack. I had my neighbor outchipped at this point, so I decided to put him to the test. After taking my time, I announced, "all-in." All of the players folded to my neighbor. He paused for two beats and said, "Nice bet. Good hand." He mucked. And like that, I was up to 26,000. I had finally solidified myself as the biggest or 2nd biggest stack at our table, originally coming in as the shortie.
Remember the douschebag with the decent broad from the first table? Well, a little while later, he joined our table, taking the 4s. I was somewhere around the 7s. He had sunglasses on now, and his girlfriend was still hanging around like a good puppy. His stack looked large, but it was a lot of 100s. Regardless, he went back to his old style of play, making large re-raises sporadically and at times betting out with weak hands preflop.
It was with great joy that I saw him get tangled up with the guy in the 5s, a chap who had been fairly quiet for most of the day. The 5s was an elderly gent, wearing a baseball cap and a red and white flannel shirt with slacks. He was alert and pleasant enough, and kinda disappeared into the background. In EP, Douschebag made a small preflop raise, only to be re-raised by the 5s. Douschey took his time before calling, and they saw a flop, TXX, with two hearts. Douschey announces, "All in" and the 5s called pretty quick. Then they flipped the cards. Douschey had T7d, and had no business raising preflop and calling the re-raise preflop in the first place. The 5s had AKh. His preflop play made sense, but his call for a good amount of chips this late in the game with a draw and two overs is somewhat borderline. This story has a happy end, though, as the turn was another Heart and the 5s busted Douschey. Douschey looked crestfallen, which isn't that surprising, considering that we were down to 12 players with 10 paying. He just stared at the board as though he couldn't believe it. Internally, I danced a jig. He got up and his girlfriend followed suit. Sorry to the people who have their chicks sweat them, but I don't get it. Can you imagine playing a tournament for hours only to lose just out of the money? Now, imagine watching your loved one play for hours while you are bored as shit, only to have him bust just out of the money. Double disappointment.
By now, blinds were up to 1000/2000, with something like a 400 ante. My stack hadn't built much and my opponents had been busting each other out, leaving me one of the shortstacks. We were hand-for-hand until finally the bubble burst and we picked new seats for the final table. I was in the money, but was probably the shortest or second shortest stack at the time.
At the final table, I took the 10s. Another shortie took the 1s. He was in the 10s at my other table and over the hours of play, we built up a rapport. He both wished each other luck.
The button was a few seats to my right. Blinds went up to 2000/4000, so I knew I had to make some magic happen with my 30k or less stack. I folded my blinds to aggression. Finally, I was on the button and it folded to me. I decided to push with any two. I looked at my cards, 25o, and announced "All in." My buddy who was now in the 1s announced, "I guess I call." The BB folded. I leaned over the table and said, "I'm in trouble." He replied, "I only have a pocket pair." I replied, "I have two unders." I was right. His 99 beat my 25o. Whoops! And then, we went on a break. I had less than the SB left in my stack.
While the result of the 25o hand was a disappointment, I still feel that it was an intelligent move. I needed the blinds and antes to pay for another orbit and all I had to worry about was that one of the two players still in the hand had a pocket pair. Even AK is not too far ahead of 25o. I thought through the hand to make sure I didn't just fuck up, and resolved to chalk it up as a good play, bad result. Perhaps good play, bad timing is just as accurate, but there was no reason for me to know the timing was bad until after the action was complete.
After the break, I pushed all-in on my first hand, AKo. I lost to the BB, who had 57o and flopped a straight. I took 10th place and $285, for a modest profit. But cashing is almost more important than the money involved. I have a great track record in these types of tournaments. Still, I am not completely blind to the fact that if it wasn't for a timely suckout in the middle of the event, my 99 v. QQ, I wouldn't have cashed at all. Humbling stuff, this poker.
I wasn't too unhappy to be out because I felt I accomplished something. Also, Roose and TwoDiamond were ready to go, so I paid them their 5% each and we hit the road. We grabbed Subway again and started in on a traffic-filled rainy drive home. Several hours into the traffic and rain, Roose got frustrated by the slow movement and pulled over. "WHO IS DRIVING!? I'M DONE!" I'm stepped up and took over for the rest of the way.
Nearing NYC, Roose was extra impatient. I don't blame him. The only thing worse than waiting to get home on a Sunday evening after gambling is waiting to drop someone else off before you get to go home on a Sunday evening. "You can just drive direct to Bayside. It'll save us 30 minutes." "Yeah, but then I'd have to take the train and subway home and that'll take me an extra hour." "Come on. Just head back to Bayside." Roose was insistent. I had to clue him in. "Next time you plan on not dropping me off at home, you may not want to give me control of the wheel." And sure enough, I drove myself right to my apartment in no time.
A successful trip to Foxwoods. It ain't no AC for a variety of reasons, the main reason being that it is just too limiting. Not enough tournaments, variety or convenience. But it'd do in a pinch.
I have plans to write about my big win at the Wall Street Poker game tomorrow. Lucky you! But...
Until next time, make mine poker!
posted by Jordan @ 9:37 AM,