Monday, February 11, 2008

Reversal of Fortune

Brrrrrrrr. Nothing like a minus 3 degree wind chill to get your work week started off right here in New York City. As usual for a Monday morning, I've got a ton to get to as much poker was played this weekend, but first, this:

Don't forget. The game is 6-max no-limit holdem, the buyin is $26, the time is 10pm ET and the place as usual is full tilt. And the password as always is "hammer". I've been thinking about soliciting a new banner for the Hoy, one that includes all of the above information so I don't really have to list it all out like that every week, and in particular one that doesn't have the (albeit hot) girlfriend of a cheating asshole on it, so if anyone with any skillz out there is feeling like creating some gratuitous artwork, I won't object. But seriously, come on out tonight at 10pm ET for the latest MATH tournament and have some fun in starting off the week in blogger tournaments with a bang.

So, let's follow the story of my tilt throughout the weekend. If you recall, I ended last week on a pretty deep spike of tilt. I was running horribly, suffering an inordinate amount of really recockulous beats and losses, and nothing had been going right, comparatively speaking. This led greatly into Friday night's FTOPS #5 tournament in 6-max limit holdem, where those of you who railbirded will note that I put on a clinic in trash talking to a table full of incredible donkeys who would not fold even Ace-high to three bets from me after the flop was out. Thanks to a cold which developed into full bloom during the day on Friday, I was already megatilted before ever even sitting down to that tournament, and when I saw how god awful the players were playing, I was seriously unable to control myself. I got no cards of course, and having to watch a table full of complete donkeys receive AA and KK three times apiece in the under two hours I played was really hard to deal with in the state I was in. Still, I perservered and early in the second hour I had the second-largest stack at my table thanks to some well-timed bluffs and a top pair or two on the flop. Nonetheless, eventually the unmitigating calling stationness of the donkeys at my table wore me away, and I finally got called down through the river for a large pot by a guy holding the veritable monster of K7 on an AKxxx board. The guy just could not accept that I held an Ace (or a higher King) and was willing to put his entire stack on the line for it. This was how the entire table played, and eventually thanks to my usual card death I got caught by it and went home right around the middle of the pack just short of two hours in. It sucked and like I said I was megatilted all through the night, but at least I think my chat was entertaining for a bunch of you sitting on the rail, so all was not lost on the night.

On Saturday I ended up qualifying late in the morning while the kids were out at a ballet with Hammer Wife for the FTOPS #6 $535 shorthanded PLO event, which took me two satellites and just over $200 to play my way in to. Although I did finish just one place short of the money in the first sat and won outright the second, to be honest it did little to assuage my growing tilt. I did manage to play the PLO event well, however, with minimal trash talking in the chat despite the players at my table regularly calling preflop raises with gorgeous PLO hands like KQ72 3-suits, 9984 rainbow and A256 as if we were playing the high-low version of the game. I managed to chip up on a couple of nice hands, once on a rivered boat against a donkey who had trouble laying down top pair (yes I did say just one pair) and a couple of times on straights with non-flush boards, and by two hours in I was in the top third of the remaining players with just over half the field already gone. But there it all dissipated in a flash, when my flop push got called by a player with just top pair 8s (yes you read that right) plus the ass end of an open-ender. I guess he told himself he had 10 outs, either way not nearly enough to justify calling allin with a nice-sized stack if you know what you're doing in this game, but that is the key conditional clause that I was missing out on. After the turn I was ahead with just three outs to beat me, and booom the river brought one of those three delicious outs and IGH. It royally sucked, but I can't say I was surprised given the way I have been running of late. So I closed up and got ready to head out to Tao for my brother and his fiancee's birthday dinner -- yes the same Tao as the one in the Venetian in Las Vegas. The shit, as always at Tao, was incredible and a great time was had by all.

And this brings me to Sunday. For starters, I took a page out of my own notebook and made the big step of wearing a brand new shirt as I started my poker play early in the afternoon. I wish I could put a finger on exactly what it was, but for whatever reason, the fog just seemed lifted for me. I ran a $110 turbo sitngo along with a 6-max and a full ring $55 turbo, and I found myself winning a few races and even a 40-60 shot on my way to winning the $110 outright for a sweet $495. I also won the shorthanded $55 and cashed in 2nd place in the other. A nice beginning. Then my kids came back from their friend's, and I logged off for a bit before signing back in shortly before the start of FTOPS #9, the $322 buyin nlh tournament hosted by Erick Lindgren. At that point I ran three more $55 turbos, in addition to trying my hand at another $110 turbo given my luck earlier in the day. The result? Another outright win in the $110 for another $495, and three more cashes (a first, a second and a third) in the $55s, bringing my total results to 7 cashes out of 7 sngs on the day overall. Again I managed to avoid most of the bad luck that had been plaguing me of late in my poker play, and even two suckouts on 60-40 hands once ITM in two of the $55 sngs didn't do much to faze me. With the new shirt and some solid success on the day, it all just felt different, like I might be freeing up from the tilt and the running bad that I had been experiencing. I went into FTOPS #9 feeling truly optimistic and light-hearted for the first time in a couple of weeks.

And promptly it all fell apart. Amazingly I was dealt AK on my very first hand in FTOPS #9. I raised preflop, got reraised by the button which I called, and then saw a raggy flop hit the board. I checked, the button bet out for the size of the pot, and I laid it down, not wanting to lose any more against a preflop reraiser with just AK unimproved. And then incredibly, on hand #3 of the FTOPS, I look down to find AA. I haven't seen AA this early in a big tournament is as long as I can remember, perhaps my entire life, and my heart was racing at the thought of a nice chip-up early for a change. I raised preflop, got called by two players, and again saw a raggy flop hit the board. This time I bet out, and got flat called in just one spot. The turn brought a Ten, and I opted for the checkraise on the raggy board, this time raising about 2.5x my opponent's turn bet. He smooth called my checkraise -- not a good sign at all for me holding just one pair -- and when he led out for the rest of his chips on the river even after my preflop raise, my flop bet and my turn checkraise, I knew my Aces had been cracked. I laid them down (my opponent showed TT for the turned set btw, thank you full tilt), but after those two hands out of the first three dealt to me, I was down to a lovely 745 chips from the starting stacks of 3000. What a suckdickitty beginning, and yet for some reason I was not tilted. The fog had indeed been lifted. I took it in stride -- bitching to no end in the girly chat to the guys who still listen to me on a nightly basis even through all the shit I chat while running bad, thanks guys -- but I decided to keep trying to turn things around and at least to maintain my mindset as there was lots of other good poker to be played on the night, and especially given what a strongly positive day it had already been for me at the online tables.

I waited patiently for another 20 minutes or so, and then about 30 minutes in I pushed allin for my last 750 chips or so against a preflop early position limper with my QJs. I got two callers (yuck) but I managed to flush on the river to triple up, back to 2245 in chips and at least with some room to make some moves. Unfortunately, the first move I made near the end of Hour 1 was back down to 1500 chips on a flop bluff gone wrong. I had raised preflop in late position with KJs, and the flop came all raggy against my two opponents in the small and big blind who had called my preflop raise. I bet out the size of the pot, unfortunately more than a quarter of my still short stack, and when the big blind check-raised me allin, I had to lay it down. Dammit.

Early in Hour 2, I called an early position preflop raise with KQs, and saw a flop of KKQ. Yahtzee! The utg player bet out with a c-bet, which I smooth called, not wanting to chase away the guy given my huge flop, and hoping he was on exactly AK which woulda been so sweet. When he checked the turn, I checked behind him (because I'm a man). I figured if he was willing to bet the flop, he might be willing to bet the river. Instead he checked the river, so I pushed in my last 900 chips or so, and he quickly called, flipping up AQ. This got me up to over 3000 chips for the first time literally since the very first hand of the tournament, and I was feeling good just to be back to where I started, though I could not help but wonder about what could have been if I had only not had those Aces cracked on the third hand of the night.

The rest of Hour 2 was uneventful, but early in Hour 3 I was lucky enough to flop a set of 8s, and when I bet out around 2/3 of the pot (because I'm a man) on the flop, my heads-up opponent raised me essentially a pot-committing amount for us both. I moved in the rest of my chips and he quick-called with 99, an overpair to the raggy board, and my set of 8s held up to bring me up to just over 6600 chips and my high point of the tournament to that point in time. Unfortunately the rest of Hour 3 saw a recurring theme throughout this tournament, which was that most of the times I raised with a holding not strong enough to call a reraise with, I got reraised. That happened several times throughout the balance of the third hour, with the result being that I entered Hour 4 desperate, holding around 5000 chips with the tournament average to that point sitting just over 9000 chips. Knowing I would have to be highly aggressive in order to survive another 500 players even to make the money positions which started with 738 players remaining, I ended up getting very lucky in pushing allin preflop and not getting called one time when I had 33, another time with A4o, another with A9o, and two more times still with KQo. Each one of those pushes during Hour 4 got through the entire table uncontested somehow, even when I did them from utg which I didn't want to do but was not willing to let any playable, pushable hand go to waste when I needed to be aggressive to avoid blinding out. I got very lucky not to run into any callers there. I also recorded my second big suckout of the tournament near the end of the fourth hour, when I pushed allin from late position against an early position limper with my KTo. It was a questionable move, but I read weakness from the ep limper who had not shown himself to be the type to limp strong there, and I was right as he ended up folding preflop. But where I fucked up was the big blind, who insta-pushed himself with pocket Aces, and it looked like my night would be ending early. But then the flop came down with a King and a Ten, and I avoided the board pair to jump up to over 15k in chips, then my highest point in the tournament, which I was thrilled about. Yes I had had pocket Aces cracked for 80% of my stack just three hands into this thing, so cracking someone's else Aces was in a way par for the course in this thing, but I still consider myself very lucky to have been able to chip up a bit during Hour 4 and to survive to the fourth break, just 8 players away from ITM, with me sitting in 375th place out of 746 players remaining (a whopping 5,637 players had started this event at 6pm ET). And I also made my biggest laydown of the entire tournament nearing the end of this hour, when I laid down pocket Queens to not one but two allins from larger stacks ahead of me. It turned out to be KK and AA pushing and I would have been eliminated, so good laydown by me in a key spot of the single best starting hand I saw in my last four hours of play on the night.

The money bubble broke just 8 minutes into Hour 5, with me sitting in 376th place out of 730 remaining. Just cashing one of these tournaments is not something I am proud about in itself, but recording my first FTOPS cash of any time in the last three of these tournament series, and in particular navigating through 5000 donkeys on my way to my largest cash tournament payout in a couple of months after running so poorly for the past two weeks felt big, bigger than it might otherwise have. I didn't get any more good cards in Hour 5, and when I found myself about 35 minutes later with a short stack and sitting on 97o in the big blind, but against a guy I had observed stealing from the button with the exact same 2.5x steal-raise about ten times in the past 90 minutes or so, I decided I knew he was stealing and I would just go for the allin resteal, raising his 2500-chip bet to my full 13,500-chip stack, representing just more than half of his tournament-average stack of around 27,000. But rather than admitting he had been caught stealing, instead he literally called off half his stack with QJo. While I puzzled over this inexplicably bad play, I hit a 7 on flop to give me the lead on the flop, but before I could celebrate he made a Queen on the turn and IGH in 496th place overall out of 5637 runners. What can I say. I got fucked by a guy making a horrible play in the end, I got unlucky, I got lucky, and I came out five hundy+ richer. And I outlasted over 5100 donkeys doing it too, and most of all, I had a blast playing again for the first time in a while. So I can't complain too much I guess. But what an awful dumbo play to go out on. People, if you take nothing else from this entire post, just admit you got caught stealing when you obviously get caught and are holding a hand that is quite likely dominated and almost surely behind. The dumbest thing you can ever do late in a huge tournament like this is just make an awfukkit call in that spot. Please, this is *real* money we're playing for here -- the winner of FTOPS #9 was slated to get over $291,000, so how do you just throw away half of your nice-sized stack by calling the allin push with Queen-Jack? Just terrible.

In the end, for the first time in the history of the FTOPS, the ftp pro hosting the event -- in this case, Erick Lindgren -- actually took down the entire tournament, winning the 291k and change and making a nice story to boot. How do you not love that shit? And meanwhile, our own Chad ended up busting out in 35th place at around 1:45am ET out of those same 5637 donkeys in FTOPS #9 for a some nice little pocket cash in the amount of $4904 and change. Wow way to go Chad!! Chad made some amazing plays in that tournament, got a little lucky, but made a lot of great luck for himself with lots of steals, resteals, and a couple of huge calls including one with J9s against two allins ahead of him with a short stack. I am still trying to figure that one out, but he ended up hitting a Jack against TT and 88 to help power him to another extra few hours of play and an extra few grand as well in the process. Again congratulations to Chad who played an amazingly patient and skilled game and made his own luck wherever he could along the way. It's always an eye-opener to rail players who are better than I at poker tournaments and see what they do differently than what I do, and last night saw a few key such spots where I hopefully learned something to incorporate into my own game going forward.

One last thing -- while all this was going on, I noticed earlier in the evening that full tilt seems to have finally gotten off its collective ass about running satellites to the FTOPS Main Event coming up next Sunday afternoon. I had been bitching about the site's unwillingness to run very many of these sats at all, and finally yesterday I noticed an 8:45pm ET $109 sat into the FTOPS ME, as well as a 10:45pm ET sat of the same buyin. What's more, full tilt is very smartly running a few supersats to play into those $109 satellites every night a couple of hours before the actual satellites go off, making a real opportunity for most of us out there to make a run in one night at the Main Event. So I sat down to the 8:30pm ET $26 super sat with some other bloggers in a race to finish in the top 18 or so out of 78 runners to win a seat into the $109 sat at 10:45pm ET on Sunday night while FTOPS #9 was still running, and I managed to win that seat fairly easily, nabbing the outright chip lead just before the bubble broke and basically coasting from there on a few nice hands and nice plays along the way.

Only Chad and I played in the actual FTOPS ME satellite on the night, which paid Main Event seats to the top 10 finishers plus $150 cash to 11th place with 55 total runners. My first big news from this tournament was when I found KK utg and accidentally minraised instead of my usual 3x raise in this spot, about halfway through the field and with me sitting on a nice stack near the top of the leaderboard already. Full tilt "pro" JJ Liu pushed allin on the button for the massive overraise, and although I pondered AA for about 1.5 seconds I knew I was going to call regardless. She flipped up pocket Queens, and my Kings held up to shoot me up to the top few spots on the leaderboard, and more than that, to award me a $100 bounty in the process for busting a pro. Now of course I will have another of those fatty "I busted a donkey!" t-shirts to go along with the other four I already own but never wear, but better than that was the $100 pad to my bankroll after what had already been a very profitable day for me at the tables.

Then, to top it all off, after survivng donking off half my big stack to Chad with around 20 players remaining, there was this:

So I am now officially in to the FTOPS Main Event next Sunday afternoon, which is all good, and I won my way in in only my third satellite attempt, with me having spent a grand total of $29 the first time in a $20 rebuy satellite that I bubbled in 2nd place in (winning back $13 cash for my efforts), plus one $26 satellite for a total expenditure prior to Sunday night of $54. Then on Sunday I did the dream of running $26 into $109 and then $109 into a $535 seat, all within the span of maybe four hours of play. And I had fun doing it, which again is far and away the most important thing given the way I had been running previously.

Overall Sunday was one of my best, most profitable, and most importantly, most fun nights of poker in a long, long time. Hopefully this can help turn things around for me heading into Monday night's MATH tournament as well as FTOPS #10 $1060 buyin nlh 6max tournament, the closest thing I will have played to my cash in last year's WSOP since that tournament at the WSOP. I don't know offhand of any other bloggers in this thing, but I'm hoping someone gets off their ass and joins me tonight, maybe through the turbo satellite tonight at 6:30pm ET that they run the night of all of the FTOPS events. And I definitely plan to keep my eyes on those FTOPS ME satellites running it looks like at least twice nightly (8:45 and 10:45pm ET), as I think those things are a great opportunity for someone like me to pad my roll with $535 a pop if played well and with a little luck along the way.

Turning things around when on a bad streak as a regular poker player is a feeling that cannot really be put into words. This weekend I got to experience it and it's like a big, dark cloud has been removed, like a huge weight has been lifted from off my back. And as far as I'm concerned, it couldn't have come at a better time.

See you tonight for Mondays at the Hoy on full tilt!

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Blogger Eric a.k.a. Bone Daddy said...

I hit you up with the the "Horse Bet", Mookie buy in prop; maybe its the touch of good luck you will need to finally take that bitch down.

12:16 AM  
Blogger Ignatious said...

congrats on the cash. hope it's the first of a few to come.

12:41 AM  
Blogger $mokkee said...

QJo huh?? at least you got thru 5000 fonkeys. GL tonight!

1:09 AM  
Blogger jusdealem said...

Best of luck in the ME!

2:24 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

I saw that KT hand...good to see that at least a few breaks do happen. Nice job last night, and good luck in the ME.

4:08 AM  
Blogger Riggstad said...

Awesome Hoy! That is a good run, and a great weekend. Well done!

5:31 AM  
Blogger AllanDuke said...

-3 degrees here in Chicago too. Our Polar Bear Swim on Saturday was pretty F'ing awesome.

Good job with that satellite by the way. I love the grind, but hate the tourny grind (too many coin flips)

2:59 PM  

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