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Tournament Death

In order to complete my turnaround, which involved questioning almost every aspect of my game and life, I carved out three final session this past weekend. I felt responsible, even, having picked my hours and opponents carefully, just when I could be lounging around after weeks of strong play and hard work. Instead of a cumulative high, savings back in the bank, and more wise and obnoxious commentary from your humble servant, I crashed out, far below my monthly nut. I pat myself on the back about this month of reapplication, overall, but this stumble is a reminder that everything falling apart is never far around the corner.

A curious aspect of this mid-nosedive was that it centered around shortstacked games and tournament players. To kick the weekend off I played at stakes I generally avoid on Fridays, the super action, small capped game at the Village. Other games were available, but being tired, I thought some simple preflop spots – rote poker – would be low stress.

Not so fast. The problem, naturally, is that one has to turn over the winner at showdown in these games. It’s a shockingly simple truth, and it makes the games good in a way, because everyone’s ranges are all wrong for the situation.  However, if I have any significant edge in the game, it’s the percentage of correct decisions I will make versus the field.  This type of game removes my main edge, in exchange for simplicity. Advantage, Smurfs.

Smarting from this questionable evening, where I lose somewhate pointlessly, I end up wanting at least another night at really busting the curse of the past few months and really finishing on a high. With an unusually big tournament running at one of my regular spots, I decide to use my day off to risk the long lists and down time at a different casino.

Part of my turnaround has been to play ever closer to optimal poker. All month I used my perceived range and their perceived range, and except for the mistakes and a few outliers, it worked like a charm: Advantage, Persuadeo. Since you always bring to the game whatever you have most lately focused on, I ended bringing this tough cash game strategy to a roomful of tournament players.  Who wins in that battle?

Back to Ad Out, apparently. Since I protect my bluffs with occasional value, not the other way around, and tournament players never fold, I was pantsed over and over, getting floated and called down. By the time I was adjusting, it was just to save money. Making great reads that I was beat and giving up… after I had invested significant portions of my stack. Terrific.

In one hand, I folded top pair to an inexplicable raise for information with a lower pair drawing to two outs. I genuinely did think about ripping it in, but everything about his line in a cash game screamed exactly tens or jacks.  What kind of player just monkey raises to find out where he’s at, laying an impossible price? I folded and got to see his hand, as he had gone nuts in the sidepot. He put me on “big cards,” as they moronically say. Ah, that’s who: our freezeout fortune friends.

Tournaments are, in fact, fun. Doing fairly well in the Colossus last year, I hate to admit it, was a kind of highlight, even though I ultimately let myself down with some poor planning. For this weekend’s tourney bender, I was surprised at how big the field was and how generous the payouts were. Investing a bullet and playing for hours, days at the time, with the possible reward of most of a year’s salary is tempting.  I’ve always said no. The slippery slope of investing into one, and then another, and then… I’m too free for that.

jokerHowever, playing with these guys, even in their own format, is not a bad idea. They are maniacs.  They called three bets out of position with A2s and worse.  They floated to make hands, not bluff.  When they binked top pair or second pair, they would not let go on principle. Their VPIP was off the charts.

By the time I realized where I had gone wrong, the only adjustment left was to leave: my stop loss (I’m very serious about these things) was reached. In the old days I would just bluff catch and let these guys pay me off. I’d sit back and laugh with Gargamel while we stacked chips and issued the obligatory “good game” coupon, redeemable next time they busted and needed to blow off some steam.

Oh the days of making hands… and not understanding poker well enough to know how lucky I had been… nor how patient I could be.

On to a new, short month, with much on my mind.


Reader’s notes:

  1. For those who are worried I am not going to get to the Libations to Variance, your fear is real, but not for the right reasons. I have been experimenting with my very first intended, the Bdonk, and am beginning to get there. I’m infusing the liquor of his heritage with the coffee beans he needed to keep from falling asleep at the table (not that it worked).  I was fighting not making his rum cocktail not fruity, and spent some time going down the wrong, sparkling, path; but who am I to give in to the goofiness of that player’s signature, new, and delicious drink? However, I have a real problem for a former aspiring bar owner and cocktail desginer: I am suffering from severe health issues associated with years of ambitious drinking.  I have been dodging the stuff poorly for months, and at last decided a few days ago that I am giving up alcohol entirely for this month, a kind of fast that yielded marvelous results the first time I did. Stay tuned for drinks; after all, it’s summer when you want a ridiculous cocktail the most.  For now, to you creative drinkers I suggest you work with the varieties of Manhattans, a fine draught for the days of short sun, dark thoughts, and smokey variance. Serve them very cold and make your own candied cherries for garnish; if you can buy it at most grocery stores, it’s not your friend at the bar
  2. Special thanks to ChipXtractor for coming up big for Vegas.
  3. In case I did not make it clear enough, the Blog Roll series will continue intermittently; this or other posts does not mean it is over- not even close.

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