Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happy Birthday Jack Hammer

For those of you near the G-Vegas area, New Year’s Day will bring with it the one year anniversary of The Jackhammer.

I’ll be hosting a tournament that day, a $50 buy-in.  Seats are limited to 30 players due to my house simply not being very big.  And besides, I don’t deal well with crowds.  Anywho….here’s a list of people who’ve already committed to attending: (up to 25)

The Rankster
Frank the Tank
Shep (8-ball) Tiltstein
Defending Champion, The Wolverine
Stan the Can
Dr. Alan Shaw
Teddy Ballgame
Neighbor Greg
Uncle Ted
Big Pirate

A veritable who’s who in G-Vegas poker celebrities.    G-Rob will be working, but may show up to watch for a bit and do some railbird heckling.

There will be food, there will be drink, there will be fun.  I’m just letting the readers know, just in case anyone might be in the area.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

With A Little Help From My Friends

The scene is my work cubicle, sometime on the Tuesday after the Christmas holiday and the all-too-short string of vacation days I’d just exhausted.  The phone rings, and since I can recognize my own home phone number, I answer with a polite “Hello.”  Unsurprisingly, it’s the Mrs. calling to check in.  We exchange a few pleasantries and then she gets down to the reason for calling.  Mrs_All_In is over the house and is indicating that TheMark would like to host a home game this evening.

I’ll confess that my first thoughts were less than enthusiastic.  I’ve been fighting a small head cold, so I was running a bit tired.  I also figured that most of the players were still on vacation and I’d be the only working stiff not drinking and rollicking it up.  Couple that with ideas of playing in Wil’s weekly tournament and I guess you can say I didn’t jump at the chance.

But then I remembered a post from some local donkey I’d read recently.  Something about sharing and spending time with friends.  As Teddy Ballgame so frequently says, “Aw…hell.”

The game was on.


The tourney began with ten players – BadBlood, Mrs_Blood, TheRick, Wolverine, TheMark, Otis, Shep (8-ball) Tiltstein, TripleF (fuck-face-firefighter), Mrs_All_In, and G-Rob.  As has been the norm, I fronted Mrs_Blood’s buy-in and prayed I’d recoup both buy-ins somehow.  Generally I’d have to wait until the post tourney cash game.  Because I suck at tournaments.


I’ve been called a tightbox before.  There are other tight, aggressive players in our bunch, but the label has been stuck to me since before time.  As such, my tourney success has been less than optimal.  Bouncing ideas off of G-Rob for the last year has actually brought some new insights to my game.  He’ll admit to me helping him at times, and I’d certainly be remiss if I didn’t return the sentiment.  For it is true.

Each player has an A-game that is within their style.  But to be successful, you need to develop the parts of your game that don’t come naturally.  My A-game is mainly founded in solid, tight play.  G-Rob’s A-game is on the other side of my spectrum – more aggressive, more willing to take chances, perhaps looser, but still solid.

I generally hate asking for help.  I’d just assume flounder in my own inadequacies than break down and admit I needed any aid.  But if help does come of its own accord, I will absorb it and utilize it as best as I can.

So after one G-Vegas tourney a few months ago, G-Rob did let loose a valuable piece of wisdom in relation to my game.  I’m too tight when I have good position.  I know about position, I’ve even read about lessening starting hand requirements in good position.  But I’ve failed to execute.  G-Rob noticed it, and then told me about it.  You can’t ask for more help than that.  At least I can’t.


Some will say that the best part of stealing is not getting caught.  I say that the best part of stealing is getting caught, then fooling everyone into thinking that what you’ve stolen was actually yours in the first place.


Last night I raised more in position than I have in a while.  On one steal attempt I was called down on a board of 5QQ8T.  I showed down J5 offsuit and won.  Otis wondered aloud where the real BadBlood was who normally showed down quality starting cards.  He was there, but he was in a different gear.  At least for the time being.


Mrs_All_In is a fine player.  She holds her own against G-Vegas’ top players and has one Professional Blogger in the palm of her hand.  Her raises get respect.  Perhaps a bit too much respect.

During one hand, she made a 2.5xBB raise and the table folded.  She showed pocket K’s.  Later, she made the same raise and again, the table folded around.  She showed pocket Aces.

On the very next hand after her pocket Aces, I was dealt the same cards and made the same raise.

I got two callers and ended up winning a much larger pot.

Showing down J5o can do that for you.


The best part of mixing up your game is when players who can normally put you on a hand begin to have trouble.

During last Thursday’s home game, G-Rob put me on the hammer and pocket K’s on two separate occasions.  He was right both times, even though I only had to show down the hammer hand because it had sucked out on Otis’ pocket 9’s with a runner-runner straight.

Last night, G-Rob had more trouble putting me on a hand.  He was wrong every time he guessed.


Since it was nearing midnight, the final four players made a chip-equity based chop.  G-Rob was ITM, as was the Wolverine.  No surprises there.


The tandem of Blood spouses also made the money.  A rarity indeed.  Mrs_Blood got there by some tight play, and some very good short-stacked play near the end.

I got there because I got some help.  Perhaps I should ask for it more when I need it.  Pride can be a foolish thing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Influencing Young Minds

Over the pass few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some engineering co-ops who have really taken to the job and produced some really fine work.  Many come and go, never to be heard from again; but sometimes one or two of them keep in touch.

One such co-op, who’s contributed more to the project I’m working on than some fulltime folks, recently sent me an email.  He’s currently finishing his Master’s degree at the University of Southern California.  In the email, he was kind enough to wish me Happy Holidays, but it was this information that really caught my eye.

Thanks for introducing me to poker.  I went to the Commerce over thanksgiving break and made $100 on hold 'em.

For his going away present, our group bought him a hold ‘em book and some chips.

Murderer’s Row, look out.  My minions are coming for you.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Friday, December 23, 2005

People Really Do Win on MTV

Click on December 21st:

Full Tilt Poker 10K per Day Winners

Thanks Full Tilt, that is teh r0x0r!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Test Your Faith In Blood

I arrived home from work late yesterday due to a rapidly approaching code release deadline that loomed against my impending vacation days prior to the holidays.  I did manage to squeeze in an above average workout, so the blood was flowing.

I had two voicemails awaiting me from local degenerates TheMark and G-Rob.  It was Monday night and the big game was on, albeit in a new location due to continuing power outages here in G-Vegas.

I asked Mrs_Blood about her thoughts on my attendance.

“Well” she said, “you’re just going to lose.”

Oooof.  Boot to the head.

She back-peddled a bit after I thanked her for the vote of confidence, claiming that even I admitted to her that my play suffers during lengthy losing streaks.  She wasn’t concerned about the money, but rather my resulting demeanor.  I promised that no matter what happened, I’d come home without hard feelings and I’d take the family to breakfast in the morning.

We shook on the deal and I was off.


At midnight, I left the game down a buy-in.  My final hand was discouraging; I was a 65/35 favorite after the turn, but got rivered out of a $650 pot.

Still, I kept my end of the bargain.  My December drought continues, but my chin is up; propped up by the knowledge that I played well and didn’t let the results sour my attitude towards the game.


I am too stubborn to let the bad results get to me.

Bring your worst.

This is a test.  I will pass.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Forces of Evil in a Bozo Nightmare

I’m not a big fan of posts like this one.  This is an instance where I’m mainly writing for my own edification rather than attempting to provide any insight for others.  I confess to going back and reading old posts of mine at times, mainly to see where I’ve been and determine if I’ve made any progress.  This post is for the future me to read.


I hate to lose.  I mean I really hate it.  My poker play of late has been horrible as have been my results.  In the month of December, I’ve lost half my bankroll – most of it the live portion thanks to Vegas.  Introspection leads me to believe that I’m not handling things the proper way.  The joy of winning doesn’t hold a candle to the frustration of losing.  And if that’s the case, then why am I playing?

I recall the feelings that I had when I won the 180SNG on Stars.  My bankroll was a cool grand richer and I was content.  But I was only barely content.  The winnings ensured a grand holiday season for the miniBloods but other than that, I didn’t feel much else.

My own pessimism compartmentalized the win into the “didn’t get unlucky” box.  I didn’t take any credit for playing well.  Even when others mentioned how well I played, I shrugged it off as still just getting a bit lucky.  I’m very reluctant to take any credit for my play because I know how quickly things can turn around.  And they just have.

As a result, I’m probably too hard on myself when I’m losing.  In fact, I pretty much manage to put myself in a realm from which there is no return.  At least not immediately.  All facets of my life are affected for the worse.  I put too much of my self-worth into my poker results and frankly, it’s hard for me to stop.  Knowing you’re doing the wrong thing is one thing, but preventing yourself from doing the wrong thing is another.

My rational side can look at the past two calendar years and see financial success.  My irrational side can look to this past trip to Vegas when I lost a huge chunk of change and see how poorly I reacted.

I tell you this, putting on a smile on any one of those days was a chore for me.  Deep down, I was pissed off.  Ultra pissed-off.  In fact, I purposely didn’t even drink that much because that would have been a very bad idea to combine the alcohol with my mood.

I regret my behavior, even if I hid my true feelings well.

In fact, I let down one of my best friends because I was too mired in self-pity.

Conventional wisdom would dictate some time off.  But I’m a junkie and can’t do that.  I can scale back the time and the stakes, but cold turkey isn’t in my vocabulary.  Time heals all wounds and this deep cut will eventually heal.  The scar tissue will be stronger than the original flesh in its place even if it’s a bit less pleasant to look at.  But all veterans of the poker battle have their scars if only to remind them that they survived.


On Sunday, I played in two $10+1 SNG’s.  I didn’t cash in either.  I managed to find solace in a place where it’s always there.  Without fail.


miniBlood and I shot some hoops in the driveway and then played some catch with a new nerf football.  Then I smoked his little butt in Madden 2004.  Granted, a 53-50 overtime win doesn’t qualify as smoked, but he’s a prodigy.  Unsurprisingly, he took the loss without so much as a passing frown.  He was just happy to play.

Lesson learned.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Tidbits v3.0

This morning my car was Ride the Lighting, Track 5.  It’s miserable here today.  I thought I moved away from this garbage weather.  Apparently not.


As with all trips to Vegas, you can never do everything you had planned for.  As these events grow, it becomes even more difficult to spend time with everyone.  I think we all feel that we missed out on doing some things and meeting some people.

To my brother in metal, AlCantHang, we shall party in style to make up for this trip’s lack of drunken-headbanging that only you and I know how to do properly.  Well, StB can join us too, he knows his shit.  Hell, even Speaker can throw down.

I missed too much time at the MGM on Friday night.  Apparently Chris Moneymaker was there and Phil Gordon too.  Glad to see Mrs. Head gave him the spanking he probably deserved.  And F-Train?  What’s up with not recognizing him?  Dude, I know you, AND I’m embarrassed for you.

Apparently, THE funniest moment of the trip was TrumpJosh making like Otis and falling down at the MGM bar.  The falling is funny in and of itself, but the fact that he managed to spill his own beer on his own face during the act makes it extra special.  Wish I was there, even though Chad and Speaker have retold the event in enough detail to make me laugh out loud when I read their recounts.

Apparently Mrs. Joe Speaker wanted a couple of tix to the gun show.  If you met Joe’s better half, then you know how disappointed I am for not being able to accommodate her.  It’s probably for the best.  Given my recent and TOTALLY inadvertent pummeling of helpless women, I’d have misfired and I’d be getting sued right now.


For the record, here’s what went down with the pregnant dealer.  I’m not 100% sure, but I believe I had just sucked out on Michael Craig at the $2/$6 Vegas Hold ‘em table at the Excalibur.  I raised my fists in jubilation, not knowing that the next dealer for the table was standing right behind me.  Bam!  I connected with her right orbital socket.  I immediately apologized, but the dealer seemed, shall we say, not too pleased.  She sat down and I gave her $2, because you know, I’m a big spender.  Anyway, I kept tipping her all I could until she at least smiled once.  It wasn’t until later that I found out she was pregnant.

I will say this.  Maudie took that steel chair shot with nary a blink.

Who’s next?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tidbits v2.0

Welcome back for another installment.  Back here in G-Vegas, winter approaches and the mini’s are finishing up the first half of the school year eagerly awaiting the holidays.  Family fun is one sure way to flush away the doldrums of a bankroll decimating vacation.  Not to mention how a good workout will too.  It felt good to get under the iron once again on Tuesday after a 5 day hiatus.


Reading Chaderama’s blog about us wandering the lost hallways of the Excalibur looking for the exit brought back memories.  I had just raised, not called, but raised away all my chips at the PLO8 game with 2nd nut low, top two pair.  The nut low and flush called me with ease.  It was at that point that TheMark said, “You need to go to bed.”  So I wandered away and luckily found Chad to share a cab ride with.  Man, was I out of it.


Was I a fan of the Imperial Palace poker room?  No.  Let me count the ways.  First, $1/$2 blind NL hold ‘em with only a $100 buy-in is bogus.  50xBB is not the way to go.  Secondly, I had busted out and put $100 cash on the table to re-buy, and was dealt in a hand which I eventually won.  So I had cash and chips on the table.  During a subsequent hand when I wanted to go all-in, a different dealer said cash didn’t play.  The whole table erupted in protest on my behalf.  I had 1 red $5 chip left and that’s all I could bet to protect my pocket K’s on the turn.  The player I was playing against would have folded to a $105 bet, but of course had to call since the bet was only $5 more.  He had A8.  Since nobody had to remove any dead bodies, you at least know an Ace didn’t hit the river.


Prop betting, hi-low split style is much more fun.  Wil and I would not only bet on the color of the Excalibur wheel spin, but also on the ending digit (either 0 or 5).  Frequently we’d push, sometimes there was a scoop, and other times somebody would get quartered when a neutral color hit and the number portion of the bet would pay off.


Next time you see him, you’ll have to ask TheMark how he got banned from the IP poker room.  Being flat out wasted may or may not have contributed.


In the credit where credit is due department, I officially give JoeSpeaker some props for adjusting his play to the unadulterated aggression displayed by TheMark.  Joe had been pushed off the first pot he was in with Mark and then slow-played a set of Queens to perfection, getting most of, if not all, his cash back.  Well played, sir.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tidbits v1.0

I’ve decided against a chronological order of events for the trip report.  Instead I’ll be writing 3 to 4 random events during the weekend as they pop into my head each morning.

Aside:  Number of times I’ve said “This fuckin’ place” since I’ve been back to work:  8


The defining poker hand for the trip happened after the WPBT event at the Imperial Palace.  I was way down and decided to mix it up by raising UTG to $12 with 4,5 of spades.  I got 4 callers which was no surprise.  How about this for a flop though: A44.  I immediately think I’ll be doubling up against any A out there, so I lead out for $20 and get 1 caller.  The turn brings another A.  Check, bet, fold.  Thoughts of Hatebreed come to mind.  Cast down…..defeated….never to rise.


The WPBT tourney gave me the opportunity to meet some of the fine ladies in the blogger universe:  Jaxia, Joanne, Jen Leo, and Tanya.  It’s quite nice to put a face to the name and I look forward to seeing you all again.  Bonus points to Jaxia for asking to feel the gunz.  Bonus points to Tanya for showing us her tattoo.


In the category of Bang for the Buck (no, not strippers or hookers), I played in the Aladdin noon tourney on Friday for $110 smackers.  I played two hands.  AQ ran into a set of Kings and then I lost a race with AT to 88 – Ace on the flop, 8 on the river.


Friday’s dinner at the Nine was a true highlight.  You have to admire a girl who knows a good steak when she sees one.  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since April hails from Texas.  Pretty much after every bite, we each looked at each other with a knowing stare that this was some damn fine steak.  I could seriously eat that stuff every night of the week.  Can’t afford it, but I could eat it.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Best for Last

It was difficult for me to choose where to start my trip report.  A majority of my weekend was spent losing money.  As much as I know and understand that losing is a part of the game, I still hate it.  I still let it affect my demeanor, and the last thing that a bunch of my friends want to see is a broody Blood.  I try to pack away the disappointment into a small container and throw it out with the other garbage that accumulates in my head, but I’ll admit that at times it’s very difficult to do.

I didn’t tilt, but I didn’t play particularly well either.

Timing is everything in life.  And in poker.  For this trip, the timing was perfectly bad.  I’d been running well the last few months; in fact, I was at all-time bankroll highs prior to my trip.  I knew a bad stretch was coming, but was hoping I could extend my run of good play and good cards for just a few more days.  To quote Anthrax’s I’m the Man:  “Not!”


But rather than lament the bad, I’ll focus on the good.  For there was good, and for my last remaining hours in Vegas playing poker, it was great.

If you ever go back and read my very first post on this blog, you’ll see that I discovered poker blogging through two outstanding people and their own respectively outstanding blogs.  Iggy had placed some text ads on Wil Wheaton’s site and through that one simple action, my poker playing career was forever altered.


On Friday night, I stopped by the MGM poker room prior to dinner and saw two familiar faces at a $1/$2 NL table.  Wil was playing poker with Paul Phillips.  I’m not sure the rest of the table knew with whom they were playing, but I sure did.

Wil was out of a hand at the time I arrived, so I tapped him on the shoulder and introduced myself.  He seemed genuinely interested to meet me and we spoke for a bit – his personality pretty much just like I imagined it would be.  I waited for Paul to finish the hand he was in and did the same.  Paul gave a sly look towards me, most likely wondering who this jackhole was bothering him at the tables.  When I mentioned my online moniker, a spark of recognition lit his face and we exchanged a few pleasantries.  Not one to linger and be a bother, I thanked each of them for their time and made my way to dinner.

I thought that would be all the interaction I’d have with the more famous bloggers for the weekend and was more than happy to have been given the opportunity to say hello.


The highlight of my weekend was a $2/$6 spread limit table at the Excalibur.  They opened the table just for us and it had a lineup of players that made the game the most enjoyable time I’ve ever had in Vegas.

Here are some of the players that sat down for a night of Vegas Hold’em, wheel spin prop betting, and dealer tokes that had every dealer eyeing our table with envy.  (Except for that pregnant dealer who I mistakenly clocked in the eye.  Apparently she never heard of the Maudie/steel chair incident.)

Wil Wheaton
Michael Craig – author of The Professor, The Banker and The Suicide King


I’ll write more in depth about that game and most everything else; but for now, I’ll just say thanks to everyone I saw again or met for the first time on this latest trip.  I’m worn, my bankroll’s torn, but yet again, it was another great experience.

Coming up:  Hi/lo split Excalibur prop betting, getting on “Wheaton’s list,” working out with Joaquin, WPBT tourney recap, lowest of the low, STEAK!, pre-tourney speeches, and mmmmmmm…..Jaxia ;)

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


There is the life you lead.  And there is the life you think you want to lead.

A trip to Vegas allows you to live the life you think you want to lead.  A glimpse into the non-stop, a toe into the pool of excess, a taste of forbidden treats – it’s all there.  Of course you can’t stay there for long.  Running your own personal engine to its redline can be hazardous.  But for short bursts, a pedal to the metal attitude works in the City of Sin.

The alternate reality of the coming weekend draws near.  For those of us living the lives of family man, breadwinner, and responsible adult, this weekend affords us the opportunity to disregard the chains for a few days.  We can stretch our inner selves that have been caged by the mundane, exposing the suppressed sides of our personalities with few repercussions.

And it will be healthy.

For when it is all over, it will be all over.  The pressure that had built will be gone – released into the desert air in a festival of friends and good times.  We will return to the routine, but with an appreciation for it rather than a distaste.


See you all soon.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


I’ve played the last live poker until Vegas in two days.  I did go to the G-Vegas Big Game last night, but didn’t see much in the way of cards.  I toiled for a bit and finished down less than a buy-in.  There was mega-cash flowing at the table, I believe one guy was up over $1k.  Based on what I saw, I’m not too displeased with the way I played, but the results were disappointing.

Here is an interesting hand where I feel I made good reads and that I played it correctly.

I’m in the SB and the blinds are $2/$5.  UTG raises to $15 and gets 2 callers.  Based on the table, I’m confident the BB will most likely call as well, perhaps fold, but certainly not re-raise.  So I call.  Indeed, the BB calls too and we’ve got a $75 pre-flop pot.

I’m holding 5d7d, by the way.  Sorry I forgot to say so.

The flop is 4d, 8d, Qh – giving me the flush draw and gutshot straight draw.  By all accounts, that’s 12 outs or so I think.  I check, the BB checks and the UTG raiser bets $30.  The two previous pre-flop callers also call.

Now my spidey-sense is going off.  I muck.  I have to believe here that at least one other person is on the flush draw and my baby draw will come up short.  The BB also mucks and we’ve got a $165 pot.

The turn is the 6h, which would have given me the nuts.  But it also produced a second flush draw, so getting outdrawn was a distinct possibility.  Were I still in the hand, I’d have had to go all-in.  But the problem was that I don’t think I could have made the flush draws fold.  I was first to act and UTG was most certainly calling me.  At this stage of the evening, UTG had a bigger stack and calling my all-in wouldn’t have been difficult.  Then once he called, he’s making the pot size more attractive for the other two callers who are obviously on draws.

The river was a third diamond and G-Rob won the pot with AdTd and the nut flush.  UTG showed pocket K’s.

In retrospect, I really like the laydown based on the number of players in the pot, my inability to create fold equity and the fact that the number of my actual outs was quite less than I originally anticipated.

I also liked that fact that I only saw 1 flop in Pinizzle.  I am a tight box in that game.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Five, Four, Three

I’m having some problems.

Containing myself that is.  That’s ‘cause I’m huge.  But not that huge, because I was still owned at arm-wrestling this weekend.  Granted, TheMark and TheRick both outweigh me by 40 or so pounds, but that’s no excuse.

The real problem is that I’m getting excited and that means I’ll be playing less-than-optimal poker.  I was excited Friday night.  CJ and The Big Pirate Wes were in town, and when you add in G-Rob, TheMark, TheRick, TeamScottSmith, Shep Tiltstein, and The Wolverine, you get G-Vegas at its best.  Personally I was at my worst.  I should know better than to play poker when the hostess is serving shots of SoCo on a tray for me to consume.  This has now happened twice.  First time – Mrs. Otis was the guilty party.  Second time, it was Mrs_All_In, aka Pokerbtch, aka popsicle girl, aka the One Who Tilts Otis.  And both times I’ve suffered my worst cash losses of the year.

The cash bankroll suffered a bit, but it was a blast.  –EV all the way.


Let me add fire to the brewing blogger controversy.  No, not that one.  The one between me and PokerGeek.  On his blog, he simply states, and I quote:

Me > You.

Let me delineate instances where that is correct, for it is not a global truism.

  1. Wielding a lightsaber.

  2. Ability to be knocked down by a small gust of wind.

  3. Using the “Clone/Stamp” Tool.

  4. Convincing others to back him in low-limit blogger tourneys.

  5. Passing out after 3 fluid ounces of alcohol.

And last, but not least, I give him props for his Schwarzenegger impressions.  But that is all.  Any other situation, the equation above should be re-written thusly:

e^(PI * i) * tan(PI)== PokerGeek

Friday, December 02, 2005


With less than a week to go, I’m noticing a few things.  And I like ‘em.

The smack talk is beginning.  Any time we can bring an element of professional wrestling to the world of poker is fine by me.  Here’s what I’m seeing:

Pokergeek – Soooooooooooo jealous of the G-Vegas home game.  Quite frankly, who isn’t?  Granted, his superior photoshop skills are unequaled but big deal, I can bench geek with one hand.  I put him on a buck-twenty-five.

Chilly – He’s going out of his way to dis G-Vegas’ king of the coiffure.  Sadly, I’m sure I cannot bench Chilly with one hand.  Maybe two, but I’d need handles.  He too is quite jealous of the G-Vegas homegame.  Go ask Marty about the pre-Bradoween game, then hide your bankroll.

Shep Tiltstein – Yeah, I know he doesn’t like the name Tiltstein, but he’s gone and dissed me anyway in the UpForPoker comments section.  Then he goes and decides to recruit other G-Vegas-ites for the CJ challenge.  Shep’s way too solid for me to confront physically, so it will be psychological warfare.

CJ – A G-Vegas vet by the grandfather clause, CJ’s issued his 3-way challenge.  Go see UpForPoker for details.  I’ve managed quite a coup by snagging St. Ignatious and Squint from Pokerstage.  I’ll take my chances.  Ig, ya better show up.

Whatcha gonna do, when the power of Blood-a-mania runs WILD on you!!!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005


So I won this tournament, which frankly surprised the hell out of me. It all started out when I signed up for a freeroll based out of the TalkingPoker forum.  What was funny is that prior to the freeroll, I was playing a $100NL table and on two different occasions, I got pestered for the password to the tourney.  The prize pool was for $100 and top prize was $30.  I didn’t give out the password as I was instructed not to, but it was funny to hear the excuses people gave as to why they came to me to get the password rather than the official channel.  Peeps be desperate.

All was going well in the freeroll.  I doubled up and was second in chips at my table by just a bit.  Disaster came in the form of AA when I re-raised an EP raiser who simply flat called.  The flop was 8-high and the EP raiser pushed.  I called and he flipped up KK.  Rather than getting my money in as a 4:1 favorite, it was now 9:1.  No matter, a K came on the turn and I was gone.  Damn tournaments.  The previous night, I got eliminated with KK vs AK, so I was none too happy about how volatile tourney play could get.

At about 10:00pm G-Rob convinced me to play in a $20 180 person MTT on Stars.  Since Tilt was down again, I said WTF and signed up.

These lower buy-in tournaments certainly play like freerolls early on.  There are your maniacs and push-monkeys who will either quadruple up by the first level or get eliminated.  It makes it tough to try to accumulate chips by actually playing poker in the early levels.

As was common, I found myself below average with 2/3rds of the field gone.  With an average stack of around 5000, I was at 2100.  One maniac at my table was a luck box that only CJ could aspire to.  He called every bet and hit for the first two hours.  However, in the span of 3 hands, I doubled up against him with QQ and did it again with AA.  From short-stacked to 8th, I now had a chance to play poker.

When the tourney was nearing the money, I made a few laydowns of trouble hands that turned out to be key.  I folded AJo in the SB to an UTG raiser.  He showed KK.  I’d have gone broke there on a J-high flop, which was equally as likely as doubling up on an A-high flop.  Still, I was out of position and way behind to most raising hands from his position.  On another occasion, I layed down KQ from the button to a raise and a call.  The hand was never shown and even though the board was a favorable TJQx, I could have easily been way behind to AQ or AK.

Throughout the later stages, I remained pretty tight.  In fact, with 8 players left, my stats still read at only 10% flops seen from outside the blinds.  I picked up a few pots here and there and won a few races.

Part of the reason for my success was the following favorable results.  I was in 3-races and won all of them.  I did not suckout on anybody, nor did anyone suck out on me.  Two of the three races, I had my opponent out chipped so my tournament life was not at stake.  In the other race, I pushed with an OESFD against pocket K’s and with two chances to hit my 15-outs connected on the turn.

With four players left, it seemed it would only be a battle for second.  One player had about 150k and the 3 others had about 40k.  I asked for a 4 way chop, but was turned down.  What a mistake on the chipleader’s part….

My move of the night came with 4 players left.  I was on SB with 99 and the chipleader on the button made a nice raise.  As we all know, that raise could have meant anything.  More than likely it was a steal.  It was at that time that I decided this time investment was either paying 1st or 4th.  So I pushed.  He paused, hit the time bank, and then folded.  I vaulted to 2nd in chips.

One of the other players seemed very content to finish 4th.  In fact, he did.  He was all-in or fold, but didn’t take any chances on the button ever.  After he was gone and there were three players left, the stack sizes were all very near the 90k mark.

I thought about propsing a chop.  Then I said to myself, forget about it.  I was there to win, and with G-Rob and Otis sweating me, I had a little bit to prove given their online tourney successes.

I became chip leader by a very slight margin and found pocket 9’s on the button.  I raised a standard amount and the former chip leader called from the BB.  The flop was Q73.  The BB pushed.

At this point, I felt he was bluffing.  Why?  I’m not 100% sure.  I think our brains are wired to notice differences in our surroundings rather than the details of our surroundings.  Ever been driving down a long highway for what seems like ages, almost hypnotized by the unchanging scenery?  It only takes a small change, perhaps in our peripheral vision, to shake us out of the trance.  All during the final table, the chip leader never put so many of his chips at risk.  Something was up and my subconscious caught it.

I called and he flipped over ATo.  Like I mentioned before, I didn’t get sucked out on and all of a sudden I have a 2:1 chip lead for the headsup battle.

My opponent lost several pots early to me and then basically folded his way into an un-winnable situation.  It was 2:15 am and I was wired, psyched, and ecstatic at my win.

This was my biggest tourney win to date, surpassing my $800 cash in February.  I’m still not super excited about my tournament game, but this was certainly a positive indicator.  I may try to play some more of these in the time before Vegas, but I’ll have to start them sooner in the evening.  This morning at work was hellish.

Slight Interruption

Thanks to Otis and G-Rob for some late night sweating. No, not man love, just some 180 person MTT lovin'. Biggest tourney win ever for the Blood: