A week and a half ago I was playing pretty piss poor poker. I knew it but couldn’t fix it. Seeing too many flops and making habitually bad post flop decisions. I needed a little course correction, but didn’t feel like re-reading the same books that got me to this point in my poker development. Then I discovered that Dan Harrington had published a third volume in his Harrington on Hold ’em series. Some of you may recall that it was after I read his first volume last year was when I qualified for the World Series. This year, more success, although not a WSOP seat…
Harrington on Hold’em Volume III is not like his previous two books. This one is set up as a book of poker problems, describing hands and asking you how you would play each betting round. Reading Harrington’s evaluation to each of these poker puzzlers gets you into the right mindset of thinking about the game thoroughly, a habit that I had fallen out of in the past year. Well, I’m pleased to say that I am coming back into form. I had played a couple of WSOP qualifiers and failed on some very tough beats, but I knew I was playing very well, only losing big chunks of my stacks on hands where I had trapped an opponent into committing their chips on steal attempts where they were big underdogs. But suckouts happen and these didn’t bother me very much. I was just happy to feel in control of some of the action at the tables again.
Since this was a very rare weekend where there was nothing going on Saturday night and Twoin had just started playing on PokerStars as well, I decided to watch him play a bit. His online game is nice and tight, with moderate aggression in the right spots, so everything up thru the $20 sit-n-go’s look like they should provide him with steady wins for some time to come. But watching a tight player doesn’t make for much entertainment and since I wasn’t having much luck with my WSOP qualifiers, I decided to change it up a bit and enter the $11 + Rebuys. I very rarely play these tourneys anymore because there’s so many players that the time commitment to play one thru to the final table makes midweek play out of the question for me (from past experience, they usually finish around 4am). But with no obligations until a noon tee time the following morning, I figured why not. 1496 players entered, and there were an assload of rebuys and add-ons, resulting in a prize pool of over $63K.
I took my seat and made an immediate rebuy. One thing to note about these tourneys- the first hour when rebuys are still available it’s often like the wild wild west with tons of all-ins. I landed at one of those tables. In that situation I like to kick back and wait for premium hands because you pretty much know you’ll get paid off when you get them so you’d like to save your ammo. So to keep myself mentally fresh for later in the tourney I tend not to pay much attention and wear myself out studying betting patterns of players during the first hour; I just play my cards. To help pass the time, I hopped onto youtube.com and started watching a one hour BoA concert. Nothing like mindless K-pop to keep your mind clear while the rest of the table slugs it out. I think I caught maybe one or two good hands during the first hour and finished with a little more than double my initial stack. I then took my add-on, closed the youtube.com window and started to pay attention. For the most part I didn’t need to take too many chances in the first 4 hours; playing my premium hands aggressively and only making steal attempts against players that showed really weak tendencies while I had hands with some potential. That got much tougher by hour 5 as the tables no longer trended towards loose or tight which made my choice of starting hands tougher. My only real advantage at that point was my table image which by that point must have seemed tight as well as dangerous as I rarely lost a hand I entered yet showed down one or two hands that I won with garbage when the board happened to hit me flush. To make a long story short(er), I made it down to the final table only having made a tiny handful of relatively inexpensive mistakes, and almost all of the all-in hands where I was a big favorite held up. To go 7 hours and being on the wrong end of a suckout only one or two times is definitely pretty lucky. I eventually got down to heads up but with the other guy having me outchipped by quite a bit. I scratched back to almost even with him when I eventually busted out on a hand where he had hit a well-disguised set on the flop, I completed a flush on the turn, and he rivered a boat. It was past 5am at that point, but I was wired as 2nd place paid over $8500. Not bad for 7 hours of “work”. 🙂
I eventually was able to fall asleep but woke up a couple hours later to go play golf with Twoin. Afterwards, Kat & R plus R & L came out to meet us in Jersey and I treated everyone to dinner at the always fantastic and always reliable Fleming’s steakhouse. It was probably the best Fleming’s meal we’ve ever had too. I started out with a bottle of champagne and for the meal we were able to order all of Fleming’s greatest hits- the world class carpaccio (one for each of us as sharing of that delicious app is something I refuse to do), the cajun prime rib, the David Bruce Petit Syrah and the sinfully rich and spicy mac and cheese. In addition Twoin introduced us to the lava cake which I had never had before. So ridiculously rich in chocolate flavor; the molten center was not like ganache, it was literally like straight melted bittersweet chocolate. A decadent end to a superb dinner and we gilded the lily by finishing it off with Inniskillin ice wine. Great meal, great friends and the sweet taste of victory (well, second place anyway). Not a bad weekend, eh?