I’m suffering from a lack of blogger’s motivation right now, so I’m gonna keep this one short.
Loyal readers may remember the days when I used to moan and groan about how impossibly bad I used to run at Borgata. Well that guy’s back! The last few weeks were déjà vu all over again. I’ve stumbled out of the gate in 2009 with poor performances in both Biloxi and AC. I’ve spent most of January 2009 living out of a suitcase, switching from one hotel room to another while steadily depleting my bankroll. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?! Meh. It’s not the first bad month I’ve had and it won’t be the last. But a juicy score of some kind sure would hit the spot right about now.
I came close to throwing my first bona fide live action poker shitfit during the only main event in which I cashed, the $1,000 buy in Event. The tournament started on Saturday, January 17th–the day before Championship Sunday, when fooball’s AFC and NFC Championship Games are contested. Championship Sunday is a big day in my world–the final day of real NFL football until the following September (the Super Bowl is Amateur Night). It is a day that I relish spending with friends on a couch somewhere. I entered the $1,000 event without securing a Saturday night hotel room, knowing that I’d either bust out then drive home for Championship Sunday or make the money on Saturday and enjoy a big AC payday on Sunday whilst missing Championship Sunday. Fair tradeoff.
Once the tournament kicked off, I built a big stack and cruised through most of the long first day, but managed to lose most of it in the early morning hours of Championship Sunday as the bubble approached. I was forced into the role of cockroaching short stack, just looking to sneak into the money. The Borgata’s Day 1’s typically last until there are 27 players left or 2:00 am, whichever comes first. But in this particular tournament, the witching hour of 2:00 was fast approaching, and we were still a long way from the bubble. Before I knew it, I had cockroached my way to 2:15 am. I was among the shortest stacks in the room and we were four players from the money. Then the tournament directors announced that play had concluded for the night. What?!
I was enraged by this development. The prospect of somehow finding a hotel room, returning the following day, then busting on the bubble and missing the football games loomed large. My blood was boiling, and I threw a mini-tantrum, bitching at everyone within earshot and kicking an empty chair over. I sought out the floor manager to protest, but it was the end of the dealers’ shift and nothing could be done. I was shit out of luck and would have to comb the area for a hotel room, incur that expense, then return the next day with my mini-stack. Fuck my life! The Borgata undoubtedly runs tournaments better than pretty much anyone, but this situation seriously pissed me off. I ended up scrapping my way into the money for a mincash, but I did miss most of the NFL action. So it goes.
It wasn’t all doom ‘n gloom down in dirty Jerz. There were some positives to take away from the 2009 Borgata Winter Open, to wit:
-Per usual, I did fairly well in sit ‘n go’s, which limited the hemorrhaging.
-Partially due to the fact that I’ve now achieved the status of reluctant fixture on the East Coast circuit but mostly due to the impressive inroads made by Poker Players International, I made a slew of new friends on this trip. Truthfully, “friends” is probably a misnomer. The tournament poker circuit is a hyper-competitive environment filled with hyper-competitive people who are obsessed with their craft. Poker (laced with base insecurities) permeates every conversation between pros. Nothing else is ever discussed. It’s a pretty bizarre environment. Everyone in the room knows your lifetime tournament earnings, but not a soul in the room has a clue what your wife or kids’ names are. And no tournament pro thinks anyone else can play a lick; everyone else thinks you’re an absolute donkey and wonders aloud from across the room about how you’ve managed to win half a million dollars. In that atmosphere, making friends (in the true sense of the word) is a daunting challenge, because the guy who just bought you a beer is ultimately chasing the same dream that you are. So I’ll just say that I met a bunch of people who didn’t suck (and with whom I wouldn’t mind spending more time) on this trip and leave it at that.
-I had what can only be described as a conjugal visit when Janeen came down for one night during the second week of the meet. We had a nice dinner at an old timey AC restaurant I hadn’t tried before, Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern. It’s a quality, cheap red sauce Italian joint. Very reminiscent of our home ‘hood of Carroll Gardens. We stayed at a (non-casino) hotel called the Chelsea, which is part of a recently refurbished high rise near the Tropicana. Suprisingly swanky accommodations. After about ten straight days of playing, talking, sleeping and eating poker, it was a breath of fresh air to see my girl and get the hell out of the casino.
-On route 30 in Absecon, ten minutes from Borgata, I discovered DC and Philly’s answer to In ‘N Out Burger. It’s called Five Guys Burger and Fries, and it’s a chain that serves food that is remarkably similar to the hallowed In ‘N Out. Fresh salted meat patties and french fries that are cut up on the premises. Also great toppings for the burgers like sauteed mushrooms, green peppers and A-1 sauce. I’ll be back!
-I am functionally retarded when it comes to computers, so I am thrilled to announce that after a long struggle, last night I finally completed my new office setup (thanks to my folks for the X-Mas present and to Christian, Joe and others for helping my dumb ass set everything up). It features a new machine with two big high-resolution monitors and the new version of Pokertracker. I’m now officially out of excuses for not making money playing online.
Yes, that is Freeman McNeil taking a handoff from Richard Todd.
Since I haven’t really discussed any specific hands in this blog for a long time, I’ll close by describing one from the Borgata Main Event:
Day 2 of the tournament. I have around 90,000 chips, which is slightly above average. Seated to my direct right is an older guy with about 80,000 who is playing like his hair is on fire. He’s a very bad player with no concept of position or hand values relative thereto. He’s getting involved in a lot of hands and his demise is inevitable; it’s only a question of when and to whom will he be dumping his chips. He’s openlimping a lot (also openraising a lot), and on some of those occasions I have naturally raised to isolate, which has led to a couple of conversations between us. In short, he’s not liking the pressure I’m putting on him. The blinds are 500-1000.
I am in third position with AJo. The player under the gun folds and Hair On Fire raises to 3000. I’ve seen him show down all sorts of crap on the hands he’s raised, so I repop it to 10,000. I’m happy when it’s folded all the way back to him. He calls. Big pot brewing. There’s around 22,000 in there.
The flop comes Qs-9h-5h. I have no hearts. HOF thinks briefly before moving all in for 70,000. Yes, 70,000 into a 22,000 pot against a guy who covers him. Back in the day I’d have folded my hand very quickly, but in the past few years I’ve learned to make big calls in situations like these, where the betting only makes sense as a draw. Could I pull the trigger here?
My first instinct was “heart draw, call!” But then I began to think it over, and I decided that this player wasn’t quite good enough to know to checkraise for value with all of his made hands (like AQ) in this spot. Also, older bad players can have AhKh in their range in this situation since they never 4-bet preflop with AK. I also felt that a scared pocket pair that didn’t connect like 10-10 was part of a bad player’s formula. After talking to HOF for about 20 seconds in an effort to elicit information, I decided that made hands and combo draws that crush me (QhJh? AhKh?) were too prevalent and folded. As soon as my cards hit the muck, HOF flipped over Ah4h and smiled. What a muppet.
That’s all for now. Next stop: Connecticut Injun Country.