Monday, May 10, 2004


One time I read in a book that every serious poker player crosses a line that they had previously not crossed. It is just a line where the crippling beats become so overwhelming that they curl up in fetal position and wish for a void to open underneath them and take them away from it. It has nothing to do with playing badly, being too tight, too loose, having bad reads. It doesn't even have to do with being outdrawn, as much as just a run that is so horrific that a breaking point is bound to come.

When I read that a couple of years ago, I took it seriously. I knew that it could and would happen. So when I wrote my last story, I was describing that experience. It doesn't mean I am not going to play poker again. It doesn't mean I feel that I've been outdrawn just one too many times. It doesn't mean a thing, other than I experienced what I'd remembered reading about, and I lived through it, and I'm still here to move forward.

A switch in gears and moving forward is exactly what I did!

I had previously planned to use some lammers from Vegas to buy into the 5k Stud event. After last week's debacle, I realized that I could spend far too much money on satellites while riding out the variance. I nixed that idea. For whatever reason, I'm not even slightly interested in playing that event now! I can't understand why, but it is just no longer there. Not to say that I don't love Stud, or don't want to play in a 5k Stud event some time in the future. I just don't think I'm ready for it now. I'm not talented enough, and I don't want to spend that kind of money. Period.

So what did I do instead? Why, naturally I decided to embrace another dying game! That is what Felicia is all about! If lowball wasn't a draw game, I'd be all over that one, too! LOL :)

Anyway, after I got home, I wanted something totally different. Sklansky's Razz book had been collecting dust on my bookshelf for the last year, so I decided to finally take it down and read it. I definitely had to make sure that no cardroom in the world spread Razz before deciding to learn it (haha), but once I was clear on that, I dove right in.

To my surprise, I loved Razz right off the bat. Jeez, what is wrong with me? Oh, I forgot, I'm a STUD player. Duh!

For those of you who have chosen not to embrace dead games, I'll just let you know that Razz is exactly like Seven Card Stud, except played solely for low. Straights and flushes do not count against you. You can still have a good low even with two pair. You just take whatever five lowest cards you have, and presto, that is your low. It can be a wheel (A-5), it can be an eight low, a jack low, whatever. There is no qualifier. Just whatever your lowest five cards are, regardless of suit.

Simple, eh? Oh, yeah, baby, and I'm all about simple!

Sklansky's book really opened my eyes into some of the intricate plays made in Razz. Like most of the serious poker community, I'd always assumed Razz was very, very straightforward and unimaginative. I didn't think there were more than one or two "plays" you could put on someone. Muwahaha, Sklansky taught this old dog some new tricks.

I was so intrigued that I read the book twice, including doing all of the hand exercises, and the quizzes. I read part of it to Glenn, who has played a little Razz here and there on Planet, but never got hooked like me. Before digging into Razz, I had only played in home HORSE tourneys, so I had no real experience.

I was so excited about Razz, that I proposed to Glenn that we drive up to Vegas on Friday so I could play in a sat or two for the Razz tourney on Saturday. I had no intention of buying into the Razz event. If I won my way in, great, if not, we could head home. I know there is quite a bit of short term luck in these one table sats, so I wasn't planning on winning. If it happened, it happened. I wouldn't cry either way, and I know Glenn is always chomping at the bit to play some more NLHE cash games at Binion's.

I figured this might be my only chance to play live Razz, as I have read the rumors that the series might be cancelling the event after this year :(

Glenn said maybe I should play a Razz tourney online first. He wasn't opposed to the idea of Vegas, but he wanted to make sure I liked Razz enough in real play, versus just reading and studying. I had no idea anyone had Razz tourneys online! Sure enough, Planet has a couple of them per week. Bonus!

Today was the Razz tourney, and it was spectacular. The players were the worst in the world. They were the type of player who would keep calling no matter what their board showed. They just called, called, called. Rarely ever did they raise or fold. Perfect! I don't know how to equate their play in terms of other games, but the closest I can come to it, is to say that suppose in Stud, a player can't even beat your board. Maybe you have three aces showing on board, and bet on the river. He calls. Not a raise, not a bluff, but a call, with absolutely no way to win. Yeah, that is how most of these players played.

Anyway, I didn't win. I didn't even cash. I was the chip lead throughout most of the tourney, but the structure at Planet speeds up so much at the end that it only takes a couple of river beats to go from hero to zero. Results are of no consequence to me, given this type of structure. What it did prove to me was that I love this game, and I think I can excel at it.

No, I don't think I will outplay the WCP at Binion's, lol. What I do think, however, is that I'll have a great time, again, which is what poker is all about, for me, anyway!