Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately. In my mental state you’re lucky to get anything from me.
This blog’s most tired and oft-repeated theme is probably my never ending struggle against the cold reality that is tournament variance. I just won’t shut up about the same old freakin’ topic. God, I have been writing this blog for three years. Will I please shut up? I’m like a broken record.
“Yayyy, I make a score.”
“Oh noes, I run bad.”
“Oh noes, I still run bad.”
“Oh noes, more running bad. This is terrrrible. What am I gonna do?”
“Yayyyy I make a score!”
No, I will not shut up. I have more in store.
I’m kind of digging this Sisyphus (no, not Syphilis) thing I’ve got going on. That’s because I really do grapple with this bullshit on a near-daily basis, same thing over and over again, and right now is no exception. Since I am an astounding 0 for my last 19 live tournaments (that’s zero for nineteen), I’m officially nearing the “do I really know how to play this game?” level of frustration for the millionth time since I went pro.
You see, in 2005, 2006 and 2007 I made the WSOP look easy. I cashed in practically everything I played and even came within an eyelash of a shipping a bracelet. (By the way, for those keeping score at home: Jason Warner is alive and well, we shook hands and briefly reminisced a couple of weeks ago). No matter how many times you tell yourself that you just ran good when you made all that money, the success has an impact on your ego. You begin to believe that you’re the man. And why not? It feels nice to think you’re the man.
But 2008 and 2009 have been entirely different stories. Turns out I’m not the man. In 2008 I mustered a single solitary WSOP cash. In 2009 I’ve really outdone myself, building on 2008’s momentum by posting exactly zero WSOP cashes thus far (and I’m afraid to say that I’m not nearly done). Oh dear.
This last trip was actually so demoralizing and annoying that it would have been cut short sometime last week if it weren’t for my good friend Jonny Y’s bachelor party, which took place this past weekend. My temperament is a tad unusual for a relatively new poker pro: I can get enough poker. I actually tire of being a punching bag. I’m just not degenerate enough I guess; losing doesn’t increase my determination, it just pisses me off. By sometime in the middle of last week my quota had been reached. “Keep truckin,” “Hey, it’s the WSOP,” “True degens don’t quit,” and “WTF else is there to do?” be damned. Fuck all of that. I’d had enough poker. And I’d definitely had enough of Las Vegas: that wondrous desert hellhole that magically turns the average American housewife into a stumbling drunk cackling cougar. I missed my wife, my puppy, my block, and my bed. I wanted life to make sense again. It was time to go. I even vowed not to try more than two consecutive Vegas weeks ever again (and I’ll likely keep that vow).
But did I go? No sir I did not. I stuck around a few more days in the desert in Jonny Y’s honor. Let me say for the record that in its own scary way the party was well worth it. Jon is a good guy and I knew that I must stay in Vegas to celebrate the end of his bachelorhood. Which is to say that I got obliterated in his honor as I stumbled aimlessly around downtown Vegas with him for a couple of days. Cheers to you buddy!
Now you might think that my (purposely vague and mostly detail-less) anecdote about Jon’s bachelor party has no relevance vis-a-vis my poker career, but you’d be wrong. In fact Jon’s festivities spawned The Worst Hand of Poker I Have Ever Played™, which I will now recount for your amusement. Now it takes a big man to admit to butchering a poker hand this badly, so when I’m through please have the common decency not to bust out laughing. My poor ego is already in a sorry state. It’s bruised like an old woebegotten asymmetrical casaba melon and can take no further prodding. Instead, please reassure me. Tell me that everyone makes mistakes. Lie through your shitstained teeth by saying that you may have done the same thing. Okay, here goes:
On Monday morning–despite sleeping away Sunday in its entirety–I was in rough shape, limping around with a tilted leer that suggested the onset of Tourette’s. I wasn’t all there just yet. I was graced with one of those hangovers that leaves its recipient in a dissociative state of semi-lucidity: your body is walking around in its own skin, but your brain is observing it shuffle around in the the world in a detached state of amusement. The brain recognized that this was not the time for the WSOP $2k event that day. Instead I drove slowly to the Rio and staggered along until I reached the single table satellites: the one form of poker that had been good to me in Vegas. I can push/fold in a coma. I registered for a $500 sit ‘n go. My brain approved. I plunked down my lammer, was handed a receipt, and my brain directed my body to its assigned table.
When I took my seat I looked around at the cast of unfamiliar faces, then proposed a $200 last longer. My offer was accepted by six or seven of my opponents, including a short, portly, swarthy fellow with an accent of indeterminate origin that I imagined was Middle Eastern. He looked like a larger, happier, stupider Freddy Deeb.
We started to play. Although he was pretending to read the latest issue of Bluff Magazine between hands, Bizarro Deeb was in a capital mood. He was well rested and was doing things I was incapable of in my stupor: things like smiling, having fun, and sharing stories that I couldn’t quite hear about things that I couldn’t quite bring myself to care about. He was also playing nearly every hand, and within the first five minutes he took down two large pots, both of which were raised preflop, one with Q-4 suited (rivered flush) and one with 4-3 suited (flopped bottom two pair). He busted one guy on the latter hand and was sitting on 4200 chips.
Now I was in the cutoff and Bizarro Deeb limped under the gun for 50. The player two seats to his left called. My hands peeled my cards up and my weary eyes took a gander: a blurry ace of clubs accompanied by a red jack, the jack of hearts.
The action was folded to me and I observed my fingers grab 325 chips and fire them in. It folded back to Bizarro Deeb and he flipped in the 275 as the other limper folded. The dealer burned and turned: ace of spades, king of hearts, ten of hearts. Bizarro Deeb checked. My brain considered this flop and determined that I would likely vomit if B.D. checkraised me here (and probably would vomit in the near future even if he didn’t), so it instructed my hand to tap the table, which it then did.
The turn was the five of hearts. B.D. checked again. My brain now deduced that my fingers were clutching the best hand along with the better draw, so it instructed my hand to put some money into the pot. I stuck 400 chips in.
Then Bizarro Deeb did something odd. He looked at me, smiled broadly and said “you win buddy,” then began to toss his hole cards forward. But just as he was about to complete the act of folding, his expression changed to a look of surprise, and he grabbed desperately at his airborne cards at if they were a set of house keys headed down an elevator shaft. He fumbled a bit but managed to recover them without turning them over, then stammered “I call! I call!” as he reached for four black chips.
I sat there feeling impassively half-retarded as the table erupted in a cacophonous medley of differing opinion over whether Bizarro Deeb had just done something illegal. The dealer had no opinion of his own on the matter and raised his hand to call the floor. As he did so, my brain instructed me that since I had far the best hand, I should welcome the presence of 400 more B.D. chips. I thusly settled the debate by announcing:
“Whatever! Let him call. Deal the river please.”
Everyone duly shut up and the dealer placed the 400 chips in the center and followed my instructions, burning and neatly delivering the ace of hearts. The final board was: As, Kh, 10h, 5h, Ah. I had trips. No wait, I had the second nut flush. Okay.
So now it was Bizarro Deeb’s turn to act. He looked at me, smiled a beneficent smile, then turned over one of his cards: queen of hearts. He fixed me with another charitable look then he said “I’m all in.”
A millisecond later I heard my voice say “I call.”
Two nanoseconds after that, my brain pieced together what my eyes had just finishing viewing. Then my right hand fired my cards into the muck face down.
An even louder, more cacophonous medley of confusion erupted around me. Everyone was screaming bloody murder. I stood up, looked at no one and walked out of the room. I proceeded to the hallway, fished my cell phone out of my pocket and punched in 1-800-JETBLUE. I was on the redeye home a few hours later.
While seeing Janeen and Ruthie (she bounded out of doggie day care and into my arms! swoooon) has been an elixir, I continue to get pooped on otherwise. My two-day trip to Atlantic City for a couple of tournaments featured two difficult drives on the Garden State Parkway in teeming rain, more of the same at the tables, and a flat tire in the Borgata surface lot.
Either this period will break me or I am going to bust out in a big, big way. Which will it be? Wheeeeeeee…..