-Barry Greenstein, High Stakes Poker
I manage to sleep in, still less distraught about the loss than I thought I would be. I'm wary, and experienced enough to know that tilt sometimes manifests itself in weird ways. I'm not quite at my move-down level and ponder what I want to do, deciding that eschewing the cash games in favor of seeking out a likely tournament seems like the way to go.
After a quick online search, I find that the Venetian runs a $300 buy-in every Saturday at noon, I decide that's about right for my speed and it's about an hour from now, so I head off, hoping to grab some food on the way. When I get there I see that the poker room is under construction, and the sign directs me to the Palazzo. I head that way, and when all is said and done it takes me about 45 minutes to find the poker tables, arrayed out with no barrier whatsoever to the nonstop electronic jingling of the slots. I sign up for the tournament and they tell me that it's actually $500 because it's the first Saturday of the month. I shrug. $500 it is then, hardly a huge loss for the stakes I'm playing.
And so I play, and play relatively well, though I'm card-dead and in the relatively unenviable spot of having stubborn aggressive players on my right and stubborn passive players on my left. It's a great spot if you can catch a hand, because you can either 3bet the aggro players and they'll show resistance, or you can value-bet the passive players to the same result, but my hand is an endless sea of trash and I'm down to about 13k from my initial 15k stack. The levels progress up very quickly, and just after the first break my stack has dwindled down to about 9k, with blinds at 200-400. I catch 8
on the button, and for once it's folded to the cutoff, who raises to 1100. I 3bet to 2400, and then from out of nowhere the SB cold 4bet shoves. I have him covered by a negligible amount, barely a big blind, and he's a pretty good, aggressive player who has to know that I'm 3betting light here and thus is shoving a pretty wide range. I eventually call, and it's a race against his AKo. An ace in the door seals my fate and I'm down to 450 chips. I do manage to triple up, double up, and steal several rounds of blinds, bringing me back off life support and around the 12bb mark, but am unable to make any significant progress beyond there and eventually shove A2 into the buzzsaw of 88, busting and heading back to the hotel.
It should be noted that Superfluous Man was at another table in the tournament and had a huge chipstack when I busted, so hopefully it went well for him.
There I take a bit of a nap, but not feeling quite satisfied, I decide that I'm bringing $1k to the Bellagio and that that's my last 5-10 bullet before moving down, that under no circumstances will I put any more money onto that table. I get a seat almost immediately, and the table is a tough, interesting mix of players. There's usually at least one fish at the table and the rest of us are doing minimal splashing.
Then an incredibly well-built dude, like, seriously NFL-buff, joined the table, and the dynamic changed. He was a weird cat, as far as the poker was concerned at least. A fish on balance for sure, but an experienced and sometimes-dangerous one that played with his emotions more than his head and had absolutely zero theoretical understanding. But at the same time, he was pretty savvy at choosing good spots to bluff himself, and not bad at applying pressure. He was also totally unfazed by the stakes, and talked at great length about the 25-50NL home games he played back home, even almost-seemingly-seriously talking about hopping into the game going on in Bobby's room, where they were playing 800-1600 in something like a 15-game mix, a lineup that included David Benyamine, Jen Harman, and (I think) Eli Elizera. He was spouting such nonsense as "Those pros wouldn't have any idea to do with an amateur, they hate playing against amateurs, they can't handle someone being aggressive without a reason" and other such typical fish bull**** (yeah, I'm sure Jen Harman has real trouble handling aggression...) It's an interesting mix.
He's running hot, too, catching way more than his fair share of great starting hands and flopping two pair so often that it becomes a running joke on our side of the table. He's catching such a deluge of great hands, in fact, that it's catalyzing bizarre mistakes. In one hand, he raised from late position (he was generally very aggressive, and stole a ton) and I defended the BB with A
. The flop came A
, and I check-called a $50 bet. The turn came the T
, finishing the flush draw, and it goes check check. The river comes, the K
, I decide I'm good and lead out for $80. He looks impossibly pained, motions to fold, hesitates, whines a bit, and folds, saying "I rivered two pair, too" before flashing a suited K5. Whaaaaa? But he put me on the flush, and so he folded.
I was still unable to thrive much, treading water mostly, and was sitting at around $800 when I finally catch a break, K
on the button. He raises from MP, I 3bet to $110, and he calls. The flop comes T
, he checks, I bet $110, and he calls. The turn gives me no reason to slow down, the Q
, and I make it $220. He check-raises all in, and I instacall. He tables A
and I fade his river outs to drag the pot for the very welcome double-up.
In a final, bizarre hand, he limps from MP and I raise my button with 7
, catching a weakness tell on him so huge I can't believe I didn't notice it sooner. The flop hits me pretty well, 7
, and he check-calls a standard-sized bet on the flop. The turn is a bricky J, and he leads out for $150. I've still got the weakness tell, and decide he's likely running a bizarre bluff, calling. The river makes such considerations less meaningful, as it is the 5
filling my gutshot. He bets again, $320, and I pretend to think about it for a few seconds before announcing I'm all in. He snapcalls and shows 3
for the chop. Oh well.
With one more fairly-standard spot where I call a 3-bet in a 4 way pot and have to fold, I'm down below the $1500 mark for my stack and I decide to call it a day. With the tournament loss that makes me a little down for the day, but still feeling good. I amble back to the hotel and fall asleep to the Olympics, almost immediately.
Day Total: -$55 (-$500 tournament, +$445 cash)
Trip Total: -$4729