Sunday, December 12, 2004

World Blogger's Poker Tour Holiday Classic Tournament

Hi and welcome to sunny Golden Valley! LOL, yes, sorry to disappoint you, but we really are home from Vegas and back in our little rural hideaway.

I wanted to stay in Vegas. I wanted to play in some Bellagio sats for the few remaining events. I wanted to play 40/80 Stud again. I wanted to hang out with the bloggers some more and play low limit poker at Excalibur (wow, I'd forgotten how much I missed that place...well, mostly the money, haha).

Instead, we are home again, and it's probably a good thing, a healthy thing. I was still recovering, and too weak to push myself any further.

Yes, it is true, I did win the World Blogger's Poker Tour Holiday Classic Tournament. I just got lucky at the right time, and was intimidating enough to put inexperienced players off their hands in the right circumstances. The structure had little to do with it, as the edge that an experienced player has in any given tourney is next to zero, especially in a small one like this. I just won the right hands in the right places.

My best pat hand all day was TT. I won with it. I had AK twice, but lost both times. I had no other premium hands. I just won the coinflip decisions, and that was that.

I never bought into the tourney, so at the end, I was kind of scratching my head, wondering if I was going to be disqualified, lol. Glenn had bought in for me, but I didn't find out until we were well underway.

As in any tournament, I played seriously. When I sit down at a table, no matter the stakes, I am a very serious player. Playing for chips only in home games, I play the exact same way as I play a 40/80 or 50/100 game. I play the same way I play a $2000 buy-in tournament. I have no other personality. If I'm going to play, I'm going to take things seriously.

I did deviate from my usual demeanor by a little banter here and there at the table. I was extremely relaxed, as I sometimes am in HE, due to my lack of passion for the game, and I also tried to talk a bit more than normal at the table. Max helped me vocalize some, too, because he is so outgoing and friendly, it is contagious. Once I overheard him helping the fledgling players a bit, I, also, took up the gauntlet and tried to give some pointers. I usually never do this at the table, so giving lessons was definitely something special for me.

Max was in the seven seat, and I was in the nine. So every player who got sandwiched between us was eliminated. Poor CJ was the first. He also had the unfortunate distinction of being the tightest. He virtually let himself get blinded off, and I tried my to give him the best advice I've ever been given regarding tournament play, and advice I pass on to other "too tight" players. I told him that you have to be willing to "die" in a tournament, in order to win. You have to put your head in that guillotine over and over again, to give yourself any chance of winning the gold. Why play so tightly that you bubble or just barely come into the money tourney after tourney, basically getting your money refunded, when you can make 100x your buy-in, in many cases these days, by putting your tournament life on the line? We all have to do it, don't learn the hard way, like me. You will have to take chances with these structures, so don't blow thousands of hours and thousands of dollars to learn it yourself, when I'm sitting here telling you that it is the truth.

The problem that these tight players have, and that I have myself, is knowing WHEN to sacrifice yourself. That is something that cannot be taught, you must gain the experience, which is why it hurts so bad to see someone else go through the lessons. I know that I can't force them to forego these expensive, time consuming lessons, but dang, I wish I could save them some grief.

Max and I were joking around so much, that I didn't even realize how well we were doing. People started saying things about us making the money, yet I never really pondered on my strategy going into the final table, like I usually do. It was definitely a different, more "fun" tournament for me, as one of the last things I would normally consider myself is to be "fun" or relaxed, lol.

I kept telling Max that if it got down to him and a blogger, he was going to have to throw the game. I told him it would look bad if he won, and he would be flamed all over the Internet. We kept joking back and forth like that, because at the final table, we were next to each other again. He said something about me just wanting to win, that is why I kept urging him to lose it. I had never even thought of it getting down to Max and me. I laughed and said that if we got HU, he was in trouble based on my superior skill alone, that he would have to worry more about losing face than throwing a tournament. I truly never thought about it getting to us until we were in the money.

I did think about it getting down to Glenn and me. That would have been weird. We have been in the final four before, but never HU. He has knocked me out of two public tourneys before, both times with the worst hand, both times making the proper call, and not treating me any differently than he would treat anyone else. It would have been cool to get him HU, then steamroll him, knowing I could get him to fold better hands, lol. Who knows, though, his track record against me is pretty good, so he might have been wearing the cowboy hat, not me!

Getting back to the tournament though, I was happy that Max and I got HU. Max is a superb player, although he wasn't playing nearly as seriously as I was, because to him, $50 might as well be a freeroll, and he was there for fun. While I should look at this the same way, I cannot, I always play seriously, it is just my nature. Sure, I might have loosened up as far as talking and joking around goes, but I was playing seriously, not making speculative calls or dangerous bluffs.

We agreed to chop the money when we were within 3 chips of each other. The blinds were 4000/8000, we were head's up, and the total number of chips on the table was only 60,000. Even inexperienced players must know this is a total crapshoot.

Naturally, I sucked out on him in the last hand. I had K7s, went all-in in the SB, and he defended his BB on the button with AJo. I hit my seven on the turn and he never improved.

Max is a fantastic guy, I don't think I could possibly compliment him too much. One post about Max just wasn't enough, I think I'm going to have to dedicate more of my journal to him.

I want to write a lot more about this tourney, and our experiences with the other bloggers in Vegas, but now is not the time. Please read Glenn's write-up, instead. I feel like I've been run over by a train. I'm not sick, just weak, so don't worry :) I just need a few days to recover. Please continue to talk bad about me online and tell everyone that I truly am a rag.

Talk to you soon!