Thursday, January 11, 2007

May we live in interesting times

I'm here in Melbourne, and have been for the past 40 hours or so. I've quite enjoyed my time so far; the Crown casino and resort is a splendid place and very well run, and what little I've seen of Melbourne so far has been pretty. The weather is great, and I intend to find a couple days I can take off and see the countryside as well as the city.

Today's poker adventures (it's about 5:30 AM here-- I started writing at 2, and I did not intend to be up this long) did not go especially well, though. I entered the "Feature Event", a $1600AU no limit hold-em tournament with a couple of twists. First, the event featured a number of pros with a $1000 "bounty" on their heads-- knock them out and receive the cash. Second, the event was to be played down to 32 people, at which point tables would be redrawn and the event would become a double shootout, meaning that four tables of eight would play down to two players, and then those eight remaining would constitute the final table. Last, the event had a "speed clock"-- players only had 20 seconds to act on their hand before it was declared dead. In a similar effort to keep the tournament fast (it was billed as a "speed tournament", I think), antes were eliminated. I hated that part, but enjoyed the fast pace of the action.

We started with 4000 chips and 25/50 blinds. I showed up 15 minutes late and discovered a tough table-- circuit pros Dan Alspach and Lee Watkinson were on my left. The table was fairly loose in the early going, so I tried to play lots of flops, but couldn't get much going. I lost a couple pots right before the break and headed into the third level with 3300.

Coming out the blinds were 75/150. A few hands into the level I picked up AQo and raised to 400. The button, a player who had been playing poorly (mostly limping into pots and folding to a raise, except one hand where he went all in for something like 2700 chips in first position at the 50/100 level), moved in for 1700 more. It folded to me and I considered I was probably going to call but did a quick check on the pot odds to be sure-- at a glance I was getting about 3:2 on my money and AQo should be in decent shape vs. a normal pushing range, and always adjusting up slightly for strange moves. As I started thinking just to be sure, I realized the speed clock wouldn't afford me that luxury, so I threw my chips in.

He tapped the table and pointed to me, indicating my hand was good. I showed my AQ and he turned over T7 of diamonds.

The flop was spread and the door card was a 7. As the dealer finished opening it, a queen was second off. The final card? A ten.

I didn't improve to beat his two pair and this knocked me down to 1100.

I doubled up once with two kings vs. two nines but never got any traction. Eventually, with 1650 chips. in a hand where the first person to act folded and another was sitting out, I looked at K6 offsuit and decided king-high was good enough to make a move at four people. I didn't think anyone except the big stack would call lightly, and even he wasn't splashing around (he'd gotten caught bluffing not long ago). I was right about all three of them, but the big blind found two nines and called me immediately, and that was that.

I took a short break and decided to play some cash games. The no-limit games here this week have been very good. Unfortunately, I wasn't my most focused at the $2/$5 game in the afternoon and only broke even, and the $5/$10 night session was a disaster. The game was very live, but I couldn't get hands, and I didn't pull the trigger on moves enough. Combined with a couple of poor plays near the end of the night, and a few flops I hit where my hand didn't hold up, I had a terrible session, finishing down about $5000AU. I left and I felt terrible.

I don't understand people who get a thrill from losing big as well as winning big. I understand the need for action, I understand playing high stakes for the rush, and because it motivates you to focus and play better. But losing big has never provided me excitement, perverse or otherwise. It just sucks. The walk back to my room was miserable. The game was so good and I could get none of it.

I'll be back, though. I feel like I can make a lot of money here if I play well. In retrospect, I played too loosely preflop (as I usually do in deep stacked full ring no limit cash games) , and I didn't make moves in enough spots where they probably would have worked. I didn't have the guts to pull the trigger, probably because I didn't bring enough money on the trip. Many times I should have raised or folded and called instead, and those losses add up.

Completely random note: I've seen a ton of the "TV pros" here, both in the poker room and (especially) at the Full Tilt mixer last night. I wasn't in a good mood then, so I didn't really try to talk to anyone, but I find that's always the case in these spots.

I have this strange thing about meeting name pros. On the one hand, I hate to feel fanboyish or come across that way, but it always seems like that's the case when you meet them-- it can't be helped, just because of who they are. I want to be able to talk to them as a fellow pro, even if I'm not on their level yet. Finding that balance is hard. I don't know what causes my shyness to kick in when I'm definitely adept when I need to be and I should be looking to establish my name in the poker world.

One more thing from these last two days before I go. There's some stuff I've been dealing with in the online world. I'm kind of burnt out on it to go into detail, but basically it involves a player I've partially staked in a series of heads-up limit hold 'em freezeouts against another player ("HIV" in the online poker world). It came out in the last couple of days that during match 3, which took place the night of the 8th, the other player got coaching from a very, very good limit hold 'em player and shorthanded / heads-up specialist ("tongni"). After tongni left, my guy won the match, and then the two attempted to schedule another match with my guy vs. HIV, where they had planned to have tongni playing on HIV's account instead, unbeknownst to us. It was a pretty clear attempt at a dirty trick, and a poorly executed one, too. We got word of it before the match went down, so nothing happened, but it was evident that the two of them along with another player had planned this out in advance. These were not small stakes-- three 100/200 limit freezeouts for $10,000 apiece-- so we're not talking practical-joke money or anything, but

It's more frustrating and disappointing than anything. For one, I've met two of the three people involved, considered at least one of them a friend, and loaned another one money based on his word as a poker player-- and he repaid it, so I assumed it was good. From a personal standpoint, that's appalling and kind of saddening. From a professional standpoint, it's low and disgusting, but at least nothing happened and now I know who to watch out for, and I'm a little wiser for it. Personally, as a poker pro, I take every advantage I can get when I'm at the table-- but only once I'm seated and within the guidelines of the rules and accepted ethical standards. I try not to even cross into gray areas-- our game's reputation is shady enough as it is and I think we have a responsibility to hold ourselves to a higher standard regarding it. So I try not to do anything that would even seem unethical, for both and professional and personal reasons-- like it or not, I have a pretty ingrained compass about these things and I would not feel comfortable or happy with myself in betraying it, even if I wasn't caught.

Besides, I don't need to cheat to win.

* * *

That's all I have for now. I'll try to post more about Australia as more happens.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, rigging a match is pretty low. Unfortunately, online poker offers a lot less security than B&M.

4:30 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home