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Three Salamis Short of a Sandwich

After receiving an email from Matty Ebs late yesterday, I started getting the urge for some live action. After my recent Vegas trip, my live poker bankroll was unceremoniously depleted to dangerously low levels. Ebs was heading to the Extra Big Bet club for their juicy 1/2 NL game, but until I could pull some money from my online poker accounts, I didn't feel comfortable for the 1/2 game yet. I like to go to a club with at least 2x the max buy-in. That $600 at the club's 1/2 NL game, and I would have to leave directly from work without my meager cash bankroll in hand. So I had to skip EBB club, but I couldn't get another option out of my head, the Salami Club's daily NL tournament.

I headed over to the club straight from work, glad that I had my sunglasses and iPod. I would be without my usual poker items, like my card caps or baseball cap, but I had resolved to get over the dependence on material things (not quite lucky charms, as much as comfort blankets), as long as I had the essentials. For me, sunglasses are crucial. I read someone who recently knocked the Internet players who show up for live poker with their sunglasses because it makes them look cool. That writer is and was woefully misinformed. The reality is that I use my glasses to hide where I'm looking. For the entirety of the evening, it proved highly useful.

The tournament structure recently changed from a $60 re-register tournament to a $60 buy-in, $40 unlimited rebuys for three levels, $40 add-on tournament. I'm glad to say that I never had to rebuy and by the add-on, I was the table chipleader with over 8.5k (starting stacks of 2.5k), so I decided to skip the add-on also. Normally, I always take the add-on, but I clearly didn't need it in this group.

My game is perfectly tuned for the Salami tournament. The players are loose-aggressive gamblers. Not just loose. Not just loose-aggressive. Loose-aggressive GAMBLERS! For instance, two players in Hijack and Cutoff seats, got all-in after a 567 flop with two spades. They each held 34. Ostensibly, pushing all-in with the straight isn't bad here. But what the hell were they doing playing 34o in the first place.

Frankly, I dominated the tournament, but went out on the bubble when the blinds were uber-high and I suffered a series of bad luck hands. But first, lets talk about my domination.

There were two hands that particularly exemplified how I was able to adjust perfectly to the game at hand. In one, I held AQo in one of the blinds when a player in MP, Al, made a large raise. When it folded to me, I decided to call. Al is a smart player, dangerous even, but he also plays these things too loose. Hell, he was one of the 34o players. Even though his raise was significant compared to our limited stacks, I figured that I could get paid off if I hit. I was slightly worried about facing a strong hand, but I was willing to see the flop against a player with such a wide range. The flop came down KQ4. I checked. He bet big. I pushed all-in. He thought for a moment and called...with QJ. Normally, I don't check raise all-in with middle pair, top kicker, but at Salami, middle pair is gold!

In the second hand that exemplified my shear domination, I was in the SB with A8o. It folded to the button, a dorky guy who irks me for no particular reason. I always get the feeling that he just doesn't get the game. He raised, and I didn't fear him at all. Something just felt like he was stealing. The BB called as well. The flop came down with three low cards. I don't remember what they were. It checked around. The turn was an Ace. I now had top pair, but a weak kicker. I checked and to my surprise, the BB bet out. The dork on the button folded. I flat called. On the river, I bet out small and the BB folded. I knew he didn't have the Ace, but I was hoping to get a tad more money. Once again, I played slow, expecting that the table would give me money when I had decent hands. I also made a few choice big raises at times and got paid off, but I don't recall any of those specifics. Whatever the case, it was like the table was throwing money at me.

When we got to the final table, I was the chipleader, with only two or so players near me in chips. Unfortunately, it was one of those days. I knocked out 10th and 9th, but then we got stuck. I went card dead at the wrong time and was bleeding antes and blinds. I was still the chipleader or close thereto, though, but no shortstacks were losing their many all-ins. It was taking forever, but I played a smart, tight game and soon we were down to the money bubble. The remaining players were me, Al to my left, an Arabic looking kid who couldn't lose an all-in no matter how bad his cards were (his JT beat AK and QJ; his Q3 beat KT, and so on). To my immediate right was a kid who was clearly out of his league. He was still wet behind the ears, and I figured he or the Arab would go out next. Nope. Everyone seemed to double up or steal enough, and we were at four nearly even stacks, even though I still held the advantage. Al was on the shortstack in the BB when I got my first decent hand of the final table, 77. It folded to me. Blinds were 1000/2000 with 500 antes, so the pot was already big. I raised all-in, expecting Al to fold. Nope. He called, with TT. On the turn, I hit my 7. On the river, he hit his Ten. With Al as the shortstack and me as the bigstack, that brought us all to about even stacks. A few hands later, I am dealt QJ in the BB. The SB pushes all-in preflop, and I realize that he's scared as shit. I had stolen his SB a couple of times when he merely called, and I got the feeling that he was fed up and looking to do his own stealing. QJ seemed good enough at the time, so I called. He flipped over J3...and flopped a 3. When we did the math, I was down to less than 3k in chips, with 1500/3000, 600 antes at the time. I was all-in in the SB in the next hand with 44. Al had A9, flopped the 9 and rivered the Ace.

It was tough going from top to the bottom, but I was actually pretty okay with it. I knew I played well, and I merely got unlucky toward the end. The 77 v. TT hand was unlucky because he happened to have such a superior and dominating hand, but that I can somewhat blame on myself. The QJ v. J3, however, was just bad luck, plain and simple. I couldn't fault myself, and that was the one that took me out of the game, essentially.

Interestingly, I've moneyed or bubbled in 7 of my last 8 attempts in this tournament. Among that 7, there were only 2 bubble finishes. So, its definitely my own little fishing pond. In fact, I plan on returning weekly to build my bankroll. I already can't wait for next week.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:00 AM,


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