Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Home Game Freeroll

These last few weeks of poker profitability has prompted me do a lot of talking at work about playing poker, both online and in home games. Slightly intrigued, my co-workers who were familiar with the game wanted to test the waters by playing in a tournament, but really didn't want to do it for money. You'll have to understand that my co-workers and I are all engineers who by their very nature are extremely cheap. Let me give you a few examples.

One guy who doesn't want to pay the extra few dollars a month for local trash pickup in his neighborhood brings his trash to work and dumps it in the dumpster here every few days. Another guy refuses to get cable tv because the few channels he can receive over the air are enough. Going out to lunch is like pulling teeth; trying to pick an affordable place that gives you enough food for only a few bucks gets tiring.

Anyway, given that I'd feel bad playing these guys for money anyway, I decided that I'd both play in and setup for them a freeroll tournament. We ended up having eight players, only me having played for money before. Some had played on the computer against computer opponents, but nobody had played online with live players. In order to make the tournament flow and not take all day, I made the blinds go up every 30 minutes. Everyone started with T100 and the blinds began at 1/2.

Leave it to my co-workers to play a practical joke on me though. First a bit of background. For the last two years in January several people would get together at my house for what we call the annual "Madden Bowl." It's basically a round robin tournament where we play the latest year's Madden NFL football game on my Nintendo game cube. Two years ago, I made it to the finals, but got soundly squashed by a buddy who was using the Green Bay Packers and Ahman Green to run roughshod through my defense at will. Prior to the finals though, it was a pretty easy challenge beating my co-workers at the game. So for this year's game, I really didn't practice too much because I wanted to keep a pretty level playing field. Little did I know that two of my co-workers spent the ENTIRE year practicing on their X-box/PlayStation2 without telling me. Basically it was a major sand-bagging job pulled off at my expense. I got supremely toasted at this year's Madden bowl and had to hear about it on a daily basis for weeks.

So before this poker tournament began, I told them that there would be no sand-bagging this time. I wasn't going to pull any punches at this tournament as I had nothing to win and everything to lose. That didn't deter my two buddies from scheming something though. Collusion? No. Turns out the first hand of the tournament, four people went all-in. I was initially flabbergasted. Did they understand the game? Did they realize that three players were now out of the game? Yes, they understood, it was just a joke that they pulled on me. They realized that they wouldn't be able to sand-bag me like they did with Madden, but they had to do something.

Anyway, once the tournament started for real, I sat back and watched the newbies play. It was a loose game and many people were paying to see the flop. Since I could see a flop cheaply for a while, I did. But I didn't get really any cards to play. After the first round and a half, I hadn't won a single hand and was whittled down to T55. At the 2/4 level, I'm dealt A2 off and decide to see a flop. There are about four callers and the flop comes 3,4,5. Well, time to go all in. However, much to my chagrin, I get two callers. Now I'm a bit scared, especially when the turn shows a 6. Now whoever is holding just a 7 is going to take me out of the game. Great. Luckily though, nobody has a 7 and I triple up. Now I've got some ammo to play with.

The first casualty of the tournament is a buddy named Bobby who's holding JJ. He's betting big and actually manages to put two other people all in. Unfortunatley, the board shows 6,7,8,K,9 and the two other people have 5's. Ouch, bad beat on the river.

I managed to win a few more big pots with an A,2 that flopped two-pair, and an A,A that held up. I get to be the chip leader pretty quickly with these wins and it's not too long after that I end up winning. As I told my wife before I left for the event, I was sure that I'd win since there was no money involved.

Overall it was fun and the other players admitted to having a really good time. They'd be willing to do it again in a few months which is fine with me too. Also, I get to be the one doing the trash talking for the next few weeks as revenge for the Madden Bowl debacle. So I got that going for me...

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