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Not Too Short Circuit (AC Trip Report Pt. 3)

Its not as easy as it looks preparing a trip report like this. For one, its a bitch to remember everything. Hence, I have started taking audio notes on my cell phone of key hands and situations to add in to my posts later. I'd go the pad and paper route, but I already carry a bevvy of items on my person when I play poker, and, well, I just would feel like a tool taking notes at the table. Nope, rather just hit a button and record my nasally-Kevin-Baconesque voice.

The other hard part is reliving everything. It's sorta like watching a rerun, or even worse, getting a sense of eerie deja vu. It's like I mentally return to the scene of the crime, but I'm as exhausted as I was at the end of the trip. Is this making any sense? Ah hell, let's get back to the trip report.

Picture it, Atlantic City, 2006.

At exactly 10am, Roose woke me up. Thank god he did, too. We were supposed to wake up at 9:30am, but my cell alarm didn't go off. I guess waking up M-F at 7am can actually have its advantages.

I hit the shower, a rare but in this case necessary AC event, and prepared my poker gear. I had my traditional blue Superman t-shirt and my black dollar-sign Superman t-shirt made by Robbie Hole. The dollar-sign won out, and I donned my preferred poker pants, cargo pants with pockets for everything. Its really quite planned out. The glasses and case go in the ankle pocket. The wallet, a special one for poker, goes into the zippered side pocket. A place for everything and everything for its place.

At the game, I want no distractions and I want no discomfort. I have a hat and probably the most versatile item, a bandanna. I have my little Buddha statue card cap. I usually like to bring a bottle of water. In this instance, we were expecting to play a long tournament, so we stopped by Dunkin' Donuts for bagels, water and I picked up some munchkins. I toyed with the idea of bringing them to the table to share with my table mates, a move that would immediately set a nice if stupid table image and might give me some reads on basic temperment. The guy who takes it and thanks me is an open player. The guy who sneers at me like I'm going to poison him is looking for a fight. But alas, even I have shame, so I just took a few in a bag in case I got hungry.

The rest of my gear consisted of my hooded sweatshirt for the random periods of shivers I get while I play and my jacket, if only because it had more pockets for all of my supplioes.

Loaded up, we got to the ballroom where the tournament was to take place 45 minutes early. The place was a madhouse. A line of people were waiting on a line to get their Harrahs Rewards cards, which were necessary to enter the tournament. For some bass ackward reason, Harrahs was actually having all registering people wait in that line first, even if they already had a card. Then they'd get on the even longer line to pay and get their seat cards.

The night before, we were told that there was no cap on the entries. That day, it was clear that they'd have to cap it. There were 40 tables in the main room, and as I later found out, probably 20+ downstairs in the main poker room, each with 11 seats. I was at table 27, in seat 7, a fantastic number for two reasons: 1st, its the Hammer table, baby! 2nd, I was turning 27 that Monday (now yesterday), so I'll take the table number as a sign of luck. At table 29, two tables behind me, was Bones. He and Ruff arrived about 5 minutes before the event, smart enough to not rush into the long wait. Ruff was over at table 8, across the room. Roose must be a celebrity or something. He was at table 40, a table set in the middle of the room surrounded by bleachers and monitors. Yes, Roose was at the wouldbe TV table.

I settled into my seat and waited. and waited. and waited. The line was still going and there was an announcement at start time, 12pm, that the tournament would be starting shortly. The field would be capped, but everyone currently in line would get in as an alternate at the very least. What fools, I thought. It was hard enough waiting for the tournament to start (at least 30 minutes late, if I recall correctly). Now imagine that, but the tournament has already started and you are hoping to jump in as an alternate before the blinds were super high.

The blinds started at 25/ our table...and our table ONLY. At the end of the 45-minute level, they announced that the blinds were going up to 50/100. I was shocked at the jump and our table called the floor. Our dealer asked, "Don't the blinds go to 25/50 first?" The floor responded incredulously, "You guys were playing 25/25 for the last 45 minutes?! Well, damn. It's 25/50 to start. What are you guys doing over here?" I joked that we should just move up to 25/50 now because it was too late to change our blind structure. 50/100 it was, though. The table was fine. There was a loose jerk of a player on my left, but I paid him no mind. The rest of the table seemed fairly tight, and I believe that I took a pot or two early with some semi-bluffs or outright bluffs. It really is easy to discern when players have given up on a pot. Early on, everyone is just looking to get good cards, so a raise with KQ and a continuation bet from position after the Ace comes out on a flop will usually take down the pot if you gauge your players right. I didn't try to get too fancy, but I was limping a lot while the blinds were low. Our starting stacks were 4000, so I 25/25 blinds were negligible, and I tried to flop a monster. It didn't really happen.

One guy seemed to get lucky early on. I don't remember the hands in particular, but he doubled up and then took down a couple of other huge hands, showing sets and other great cards. He seemed friendly enough, and he wasn't getting in my way, so it was no harm to me. I was just happy to see the chips moving around the table. The only significant hand in the first two blind periods was when I decided to raise 3x the BB with K4s in middle/late position. It was really just a steal move for insignificant blinds, and I got one caller in late position. The flop was K43, and I checked, hoping to induce a bluff. My opponent checked as well. The turn was a 6, and I bet out 200. He called. The river was a blank and I bet out 400, but my opponent folded. Otherwise, the best hands I saw were KQ, A9, 66 and 33. I was happy to be card dead, though. Card dead meant I couldn't get myself into any sticky situations, K4s notwithstanding.

By the end of the 2nd level, we had a 30 minute break. The break was supposed to be 10 minutes, but the players in the regular poker room got started 20 minutes late, and this would allow everyone to play simultaneously. Our gang of four met up and headed into the food section of the ballroom. I grabbed a slice of pizza to assuage the weird empty feeling in my stomach. Prior to the tournament starting, I actually had to get up from my seat and walk around to get some air. I was nervous as hell, and had to get into a better mindstate. It really reminded me of standardized testing: a room filled with people hoping to outdo each other, all of whom are placing varied amount of pressure on themselves to succeed. In test situations, I try to listen to music before the exam while others are quizzing each other and cramming. My motto is that confidence is 90% of testing, so I tried to apply the same mental gymnastics to get to my moment of zen. By the time I got back to the table, I felt ready.

At the break, I was at 3375, having lost 625 on unsuccessul limps and blinds. I may've lost as much as 200 on a particular hand, but nothing more. Roose had already busted in the second level. He had AJo and raised preflop. He hit his Ace and bet pot or so on the flop, turn and river, eventually getting all-in before showdown. Regardless of his big bets, some guy called him down with pocket 8s and spiked an 8 on the river. He was steaming when he walked over to tell me.

Ruff and Bones, meanwhile, were chipped up pretty nicely. I think Bones had 8k+ and Ruff was "only at" 6k+. As I mentioned, I was card dead, so I wasn't complaining about my position. However, the blinds were going up to 100/200 with a 25 ante, so I was also readying myself for having to play push-or-fold poker. In fact, I remember telling Ruff that I was actually looking forward to that proposition, since at least my decisions would be easy and I'd know how this tourney was going to go in no time.

When the action restarted, I got into game mode. I still didn't get any cards over 99 (and that only once, followed by my next best hand, 66), with no AK, AQ, AJ or AT. Yep, card dead. However, I was able to make some position re-raises to win some chips. I don't really remember many details. I was in the zone, and playing good poker, and I was able to chip up to probably 13-14k at one point. The blinds advanced from 100/200/25 to 200/400/50, and then to 400/800/100. I believe by then, I was down to about 8000, as I had tightened up to the loosening action and had lost a few blinds or folded when I missed a flop. During this period of time, Bones walked over to tell me that he had busted. A long while later, Ruff also came by.

From there on out, they hung by my table, watching me beat up on my competition. Again, I don't have any specific hands, but I was basically stealing pots with position bets, and acting fearlessly throughout. The big stack who got lucky early raised from middle-late position after a limper. I saw the opportunity for dough and when I saw 99 in the hole, my best hand for the entire tournament, I decided to push. I had barely over 10x the BB, if I'm not mistaken, and my play worked. He decidedly mucked and said, "I'm not strong enough for that bet. I didn't even have a pair." He actually had two overs and was big enough to call me, but I muscled him out of the hand. In fact, I won a lot of hands before the river because of laying pressure down. I was also smart enough to fold when it was raised back at me, or check it down when I faced resistance from a tough competitor. I think I had the hammer once, but I lost chips on it, sadly, and didn't even get to show.

We were right before dinner break, and when we'd return, we'd be playing 600/1200 with a 200 ante, so I decided that I was not going to wait an hour alone to play with such a small stack. Ruff and Bones had left, and Roose was long gone. In MP/LP, I had T6o. A mild-mannered older gentleman to my immediate right min-raised. I pushed all-in. It folded around to him and he grumbled before folding. The hand was so quick, we had time for one more. As the cards were dealt, the announcement was made that this was the last hand before the break, which would be extended from 1 hour to 90 minutes. I looked down to AKo, so I knew what to do. To my pleasure, the gentleman on my right min raised again. "Sorry," I said, as I pushed in my stack. It folded around to him and he hemmed and hawed again. He finally decided to call, and showed...AA! AA! "What's the wait for, man? You busting my chops?!" I joked as though I was angry, but everyone could see the smile on my face. I ran into the wrong hand, plain and simple. His timing and the hand before it made it an impeccable play by him. I wasn't going to get upset...until after the hand. I had him covered by 1100 chips and it was time for the 90 minute break.

90 minutes of waiting around solo, just to play 1100 chips with blinds of 600/1200 with 200 antes. WTF! I joked that I wasn't even going to come back, but I knew that I had to play my stack. Chip and a chair and all that jazz. I wandered around the casino in a dazed state. I called my compadres, but the only one with service was Randy. He was back at the hotel hanging around in the room. He offered to pick me up when I needed a ride. I considered taking the Harrahs-Showboat shuttle back, and ask Randy to drive me back to Harrahs for what would likely be one hand, but by the time I came up with this plan, it was too late. I grabbed an issue of Bluff from the poker room and went back to the ballroom. I turned on my iPod, grabbed a hotdog and a seat in the food section, and brooded. I was calm about my fate, but it still sucked. The worst part was waiting alone. I saw another table where a motley crew were chatting. They were probably all strangers who happened to strike up a conversation. I was all alone, hood up, music on, reading the terrible writing that passes for poker news.

The time crept, but eventually, I made my way back to my table. Some guys joked (with me) about how they thought I wasn't going to come back. I told them it was like I wasn't really here anyway. I was three off of the BB, so I decided to push or fold for the first hand, and then push with the second hand, no matter what. When the cards were dealt, I had received 77. Good enough. I pushed, but only got one caller, who isolated me with a raise. He had AT. The flop was T87, and I hit my set. By the river, we were all cheering for my comeback. I had amassed over 5k from that single pot. In two more hands, though, I was busted. I was in the BB with K5h with only one limper, so I pushed. He had AJ and called. We both missed the board, and he won.

I got up and shook some hands. I went out around 178th or so out of 840+ people. I beat 75% of the field, which was a small consolation. Rather than call Randy, I hopped in the shuttle to the Showboat. As I sat there, I began to realize how lonely an existence poker can be. Even with everyone at the table, by the end of the night, you are all alone. I let that moment of sadness wash over me, as I accepted the fact that being a professional poker player would probably break my soul.

The trip back was smooth, and when I returned to our room, Randy and Roose were hanging around. We played some Rummy 500 while we waited for room service to bring us our dinner. I split the nachos and a cheese burger with Roose. The food did a lot of good for the ole constitution.

It was still "early", and I was feeling the need for some more action. I eventually convinced Roose to go for another round of cash games. He had just finished a 5 hour session while I played the WSOP, but the action and light mood in the poker room at Showboat tempted him to return.

I sat at a 1/2 table with a Jamie Gold lookalike that was goofing around at the table and yucking it up with bad play, even if he thought he was good. Across from me were two guys who were barely 21. They played loose-aggressive, but also liked to talk between hands. As I listened to them, they basically announced how they played. I loved having them so close. On the other side of the table, a really tight tough guy was playing a sharp game. Next to him was a black guy who would later freak out. I loved it. A table of tilters, talkers, and tighties. I knew where I stood with everyone.

Coming up...more on that cash game table, and coersion leading to success.

posted by Jordan @ 8:31 PM,


At 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jordan, you're too prolific for me. Perhaps you should write the trip reports and then delay the roll-out.

At 2:38 PM, Blogger MrGoss said...

Good stuff J.

Good stuff.


At 10:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just playing the event is a great accomplishment. Its too bad you couldn't see a little more action in the form of *real* hands, but you should be very proud of yourself for outlasting 75% of the field.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I can take a shot at the upcoming Circuit Event in late January in Iowa, but I've got some hasty bankroll work to do before that happens.

Great job.

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The delay with AA bugs me...more so live than online. Good gaming though sir. I had no idea you had to wait around like that for 1100 in chips. Brutal.

At 8:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's me, TripJax, as biggypix...


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