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Dust My Poker Off

Remember that time in 2011, when I moved my blog off of blogger and onto a different server. Well, that era is over, and a lot of those posts are gone. But I still have this little corner to hang my hat.

In any event, its time to dust off the old Trip Report Index. Here we go...

I found myself at the end of the work year with some extra days off and a relatively light schedule. Having two young kids is a wrecking ball to free time, so I decided to treat myself with a day trip to the Sands for some poker. It was a Friday, and I tried to rally the troops, but when no one was able to take off of work, I did what any self-respecting degenerate would do...I went solo.

The trip to sands was an easy two hours or so. It felt long, but that may've just been the anticipation building. I had left early, around 8:30 or so, hoping to join the 11:00 am tournament, and I rolled in with a good 20 minutes to spare. I walked the floor, and found myself pulled to a random pai gow poker table. I paid $39 for the pleasure of sitting in the Asian games pit for fifteen minutes, before I ditched to buy in and play the tournament.

If you are hoping for hand histories, keep looking. You'll be lucky if I can remember one. But I did have an interesting run, nonetheless. The first table started shorthanded. I started slow, getting a feel for the competition. I was in the 7 seat, and the 10 seat was a younger guy who liked himself a little too much. I got the sense that he was the type of player to overplay a hand. That's how I ended up giving him most of my stack. First, he turned a straight against my top two. Then, short stacked, I immediately got it all in, my QQ v. his AA, preflop. To be clear, I don't knock the guy for any of his play. That's just how it goes.

Busted, I walked over to the front desk and asked for a seat at the 1/2 game. There were three names ahead of me, so I paced a bit, contemplating what my future may hold. I saw three options, only two of which were likely to occur. Option 1, I buy into the tournament again, lose, and then have the long, sad drive home to contemplate why I made the bad decision to travel to the Sands alone on a day off when I have a loving family at home. Option 2, I buy in, and cash in the tournament, aiming for a deep run to offset the two buy-ins. And Option 3, the unrealistic one; leave the casino and lick my wounds. 

I looked back up to that 1/2 list and there was no change. Granted, it had been all of three minutes, but I was already getting inpatient. I decided to rebuy, making my way across the casino to pay at the cage.

By the time I returned, there were two other players waiting to be seated. The floor took their time figuring out who was going where. When it was finally my turn, I saw that there were two seats open. One was in the back of the room; the other was...the same seat where I had busted moments ago. Let me be clear: I did not want to go back. I felt my image there was shot, and if I returned after my abysmal play, the table would read me as weak and call me down more. That would be fine in a cash game, but in a tournament, I couldn't take the same risks, so I intimated my desire for the seat in the back, and the floor obliged.

For the next four hours, I played perfect poker. By that, I mean I folded for what seemed like (and may've been) four hours because my cards were terrrrrrrrrible. It's easy to play perfect poker when the only correct play is to fold every time.

As the blinds grew and my stack slowly eroded, I felt that familiar nihilistic urge to just get it in there. I pulled myself back, and remembered to change the script, thinking, "This is the part of the tournament where I end up the short stack, only to come back and win." As silly as this sounds, I've used this trick before and it helped. I committed to that line of thinking, preserving my chips, waiting for things to turn around.

I finally made my stand with 3s3c. I don't recall the preflop action, but the flop was 2s4s6s. I found myself all in against QsQd. The turn was a blank and the river was a 5s. My opponent cheered at his flush. Then someone pointed out my straight flush. He looked deflated, as he began to mutter to his neighbors about how I only had one out. "5s and 3s, too," I helpfully added. "Any 5 would have given me a straight, so technically I could've caught the straight with any 5 and a set with any 3." My opponent didn't seem to appreciate my helpfulness. 

The tournament was paying 13 players, and we found ourselves down to the final two tables. I was finally able to up my play, stealing more frequently, but still cautiously. I built up to the biggest stack at the table for a short period, but things cooled down, and I ended up somewhere in the middle.

At 14 players, on the bubble, someone suggested that we do a save. If we all tossed in $20, the 14th player would essentially get 13th place money. We all agreed. Then 14 went out, and the negotiation shifted to chopping it 13 ways. By then, I had made friends with two older gents to my immediate right. The one furthest away was the big stack and refused to chop. He was a retiree, who played regularly in these events. He was "practicing" for the big monthly tournament and explained to me, "How can I get experience shorthanded if we chop?" I didn't disagree. My policy is simple: each person has a right to do what he or she pleases with their money, including not to chop. But I did notice some players getting angry, and I sort of enjoyed how this man's principles were enough to tilt my opponents. 

13th place lost, and then 12th bowed out. That was an interesting one. The player out 12th was the most aggressive of the players when it came to seeking a deal. He was extremely pissed at the older man, arguing every angle. Collectively, we had all agreed to pay the holdout a bit more, but he refused. Yet, as soon as the 12th player was out, the holdout agreed to a chop. Blinds had increased, but he was still the big stack. My only two guesses were that he was tired of playing or he just really wanted to mess with 12th player for pressuring him to chop the pot.

Split 11 ways, the payout was more than 10x the initial buyin. It took a long time to get paid out, but I was willing to wait. When it was done, I assumed it was 5pm or so. It was 7:30. Time flies. I made my way to the car and enjoyed the drive home, an extra chunk of cash in my pocket.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:42 PM,


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