Mood: crushed out
Come and hear my tale of Poker woes…A tragical saga of a cardplayer who truly blows.
If I play Hold’em for the next million years, I’ll never have the run of awful luck I experienced in the 24 hours from midnight-to-midnight on the 15th of November. The beatdowns took place, on-line and in brick and mortar Casinos, limit and no-limit, ring games and tournaments.
Disaster #1 – The On-Line Evisceration
I was scheduled to fly out of Norfolk to San Diego, via Southwest Air. As I waited for midnight to get my on-line boarding pass (which I have since found out you can now get your boarding pass 24 hours before departure). That gave me a chance to play the $20+2 Limit Tournament on Ultimatebet.com. It was in this tournament 6 months ago where I had made my biggest killing to date -- a $300 dollar prize for finishing third out of over 200 entrants. I haven’t cashed in since in four tries. But I felt good about my chances tonight.
From the outset, I could see this was going to be a very loose and aggressive game with lots of raising and capped pots. Early on (Blinds at 10-20), my Ace on the flop (while holding AT-Unsuited) was good enough to get me a big pot to put me at just under 2000 chips (at Ultimatebet, most tournaments start you at 1500 chips). Then I have the button and I receive a beautiful pair of Cowboys (Pocket Kings). The pre-flop betting gets capped – four players are still in. The flop comes QT6 Rainbow. The Big Blind bets and I raise. The guy to the left of me puts in the dreaded re-raise. He has raised just about everything at that point; but I also noted he had the goods as well. Another player reraises and the flop betting is capped. The turn reveals a Rag. The Big Blind checks and I just call still thinking my kings are good. To my dismay, the player to my left raises. I have already put in 200 chips and have received no improvement to my pair of Kings. I had the sickly suspicion that there this guy either had two pair or a Set. Both players call before it gets to me. I deliberate. Despite my overpair, I think I’m beat so I execute what I believe is a good and timely fold. Yeah, right. Another ten hits the board. Big Blind bets and the madman raiser who forced me out with his raise on the turn simply folds (must have been on a straight draw). The other player calls and the Big Blind wins a big 650-chip pot with a Queen-up 2-pair. Of course, my Kings were good and that pot would have set me up quite well for the long run. I would definitely not fold Top Pair again without at least a showdown.
Unfortunately, I would not get another big pocket pair, or a Big Slick, or even a decent suited connector. I proceeded to lose every hand I played. Going all in with KQ-Unsuited, I saw my advesary’s J9 pair a Jack at the flop, grap a 9 at the turn, and get a boat with another J at the River. I finish 111th out of 120. That sucks.
As I fitfully fall asleep on the couch, I rationalize things can’t get much worse when I make it to San Diego later this morning. Wanna bet?
Disaster #2 – The Tournament of Rags
My flight to San Diego is uneventful. I make it to Viejas Casino at about 4:45PM. Viejas is sentimental favorite of mine, as it is the first casino I ever played Hold’em (That in itself is a story for a later blog).
I am playing some $3-$6 Limit at a table that was both tight and shorthanded. I had won a few small pots, but overall was down $4 when I left the table to enter the Viejas $20+7 No-Limit Tournament. I am excited as this is my first Brick-and-Mortar tournament for cash.
I join my table at the scheduled 7:00 PM start. I am given 3000 in chips. However, blinds start at a relatively steep 25-50. I’m not getting much of anything and am more or less a folding station. Finally, I’m the Big Blind when I get AJ-Unsuited. AJ is not my favorite hand in the world; but it looks like Rockets compared to the trash I have been getting. Three players are in the pot, one of them a woman about my age. On the flop, things look promising when J72 Rainbow flops. I bet 300 and both players call. A King hits on the turn and now I a little worried. I check; the lady bets 300 which forces out the other player. Slightly pot-committed, I call the bet – though I don’t feel good about it. A rag comes out on the River. I check again and she puts in 600. Had I been on-line and been able to see everyone’s chip count, I would probably have folded. But, I make the long wailing call and lose to her trey of 7s.
After folding yet another 6-gapped unsuited dreck, I realized that my chip count was down to 1350 chips. I had not won a single pot and I was on the verge of being the short stack. To my credit, I had not executed a single rebuy yet, though some of my table-mates were on their fourth rebuy.
A few hands later, I was whittled down to my last 400 in chips. I went all-in with A2. To my surprise, an Ace and 2 hit on the flop. The two players who called my all in were content to simply check it down to the river. To everyone’s amazement, all three of us had A2 and we split the pot. That was bad for me, but I was still alive.
But not for long, my next all-in was for naught. I decided to pony up another $20 for a 2500-chip rebuy. With pocket 5s, and the blinds at 200-400, I bet 500 at the flop. Though I was overcarded, the two players still in folded and I finally won my first outright pot.
Shortly after that, the turning point of my tournament was the hand I did not play. With K9-Suited at the Big Blind, the Lady with the set limped in and a bearded dude with a pretty big chip stack raised it to 1400. My rule of thumb with K9-Suited is to not call a raise 3-times the Big Blind. Had he bet 1200, I would have called it. But I fold and cringe when the flop comes QJT to give me a straight. The lady ended up winning hen she got a 9 at the river to give her a smaller straight. I think I could have made a killing on that hand. But here I was at the first intermission and I had a modest 2800 chips. The chip leader was at over 20000 chips so I was way behind. I purchased my final buy-in option for another 5000 chips (now I have 7800 chips).
After the break, the blinds are up to 300-600. At last a hand of merit, Pocket Jacks! I raise to 1800. The bearded dude who raised me out of my straight earlier calls and older guy with the ponytail directly to my right goes All-In for 4200 [This guy must have re-buyed at least 6 times and he was still short-stacked]. The flop did nothing for me; In fact a King flopped up. I bet 1200 and the bearded dude called. Another overcard, an Ace comes up on the turn. I come out with another 1200 and this is enough to make the bearded dude fold. On the All-In showdown, Buy-in Guy shows K5 (He went All-in with that – No wonder he has to rebuy every fuckin’ minute) and wins the Main Pot. I’m down to 4600 chips. I don’t get a whiff of a playable hand and the blinds chew me down to 3700 chips before they break up the table.
Though people are dropping like flies and the field has dropped from 150 to about 90 players, I am still mortally wounded in chip count. At the new table, the heavy raising all around me forces my horrid hands to invariably fold. With the blinds now at 400-800, I get something like 82 at the Big Blind and J3 while Small Blind. I was priced out of both flops and was left with a single 2500 chip. I was literally the Chip and a Chair Guy.
At the cut-off seat (the one to the left of the Button), I get another Pre-Flop pair of Jacks. I say, “Raise to 1500.” The Dealer laughs and says, “You only got 2500.” I reply semi-truthfully, I haven’t been in a hand so long, I forgot how to play.” I chuck in my last chip. Another player calls with A6. I’m still ahead through the turn; but I know how this is going to turn out. On the River, the Ace comes up and ends my tournament right then and there. Some tournament. Sixty-seven bucks squandered and very little to show for it. I won one meager pot, split another, and won peanuts in a side pot. I don’t care how good a poker player you are, if you don’t get cards, you don’t get chips. And in a No-Limit tournament, you hit a point where the chips have more clout than the cards.
Disaster #3 – Ring Around the Collar
After my poor showing at the tournament, I still felt fresh at 10:00 PM (1:00 AM) even though I had gotten about 2 hours of sleep in the past 48 hours. I bought $140 in chips and made my way to the $3-$6 table for some Limit Action. I did quite well the week prior at the Tropicana in Atlantic City and felt that my disciplined play would keep me out of trouble. But there’s one thing about these West Coast Limit games. They raise like madman. Atlantic City poker players are mice; San Diego players are jackals. And then there’s another thing about the Left Coast. They play Kill pots – Win two pots in a row and the blinds and betting rounds double. Well to make this long story short, these pots all had lots of players and lots of raising. I recall making it heads-up on the River on one hand with Pocket 7s and folding when an Ace hit and he bet out. After raking in the chips, he muttered to the player next to him, “Wow, I can’t believe my pair of 2s held out.” That made me sick. Then on a Kill Pot, my A5-Suited looked good when I 234 got the Baby Wheel. I announced, “I got a straight.” Then my heart sank when some old dude growled, “Bigger straight!” as he showed his 56. That was a huge pot.
My chips sank from $140, to $80, to $60, and now I was down to $24. I have never, ever busted out of Limit poker. But I was on the verge now. On a Kill Pot I got Qc9h. The flop is 9sKh8h. I got a pair of nines and a running flush. I bet out, got raised, then re-raised. Now I’m down to $6 in chips. On the Turn, a 5h comes up and now I go all-in with my last bit of chips. On the River, I‘m heads up when the 2h comes up. I’ve got a flush. But I really wanted a 9. The other player shows his Ace of Hearts – Nut Flush for him – Big-time bust out for me.
I drove down I-8E late in the evening lamenting my awful 24 hours of poker. As I sped down the mountains, I wondered for the first time if this Poker thing is really worth the time and effort.