Birthday Wish? Final Table!!!

10 min read

Well…here we go again. It’s been a somewhat ‘entertaining’ week, listening to the poker ‘experts’ rip me to shreds on my ‘markup’ for my investment packages…as they have ran the comment count up to over 250 on my Facebook wall, and some others, like Allen Kessler, chose to copy my post to their own wall…and pose the question, ‘Exactly how much juice is this guy charging?’ This guy? Me…the guy who I thought was friends with THAT guy.

To be fair? I have had a pretty substantial number of players come to my rescue, offering their take on the matter. What these people just can’t seem to hammer into their thick skulls? Is that there is no SET rule for selling poker investment packages. The 2+2 crowd would have you THINK there is, however. And anyone who tries to exceed their limitations, is entering into the world of Bernie Madoff and his boys. Oh yes, I have been labeled the Enron of poker!

My wife even felt compelled to finally weigh in. Which really touched me. The ‘ol Squirrel is usually quite content to stay hidden in the shadows where my poker exploits are involved. She will give me her tidbits of advice though, just away from the spotlight. Well, when she jumps into a conversation/debate you know someone has touched a nerve.

So yeah…it’s been a pretty exciting week. While all that was/is going on…I’ve been playing some poker. In four prelim events, I managed to make the dinner break in three of them. I cashed in none of them. Oh I came close…in all of them. But they all had their own little tale of disaster attached to them, and for whatever reason, I found myself back downstairs playing cash game or sit n go’s.

On Friday night…after having played and lost in the Main Flight A…I played cash game for about five hours…then ‘The Claw’ and I decided it was time to play a $500 sit n go. With a $200 last longer. I also decided, after a long, painful week…that it was time for a drink or two. Claudia joined me. Long story short? We crushed that sit n go. We got heads up…played it out for pride (she beat me) and we split up $6,400. We then headed for IHOP to cheat on our diets! It was a great way to end an otherwise shitty day, one where we both busted out of Flight A after a nightmarish experience. Personally? I flopped a set twice, and river trips another time…only to lose ALL OF THEM…and somehow I still had chips. I finally would move in with 66 and run smack dab into aces…which held.

So…that sit n go? It happened on Saturday, February 15th. That’s right…we had already turned the page on Valentine’s Day…since midnight had come and gone. So after sleeping…we returned to the scene of the crime for Take Two in the Big One to make our mark, to stake our claim to 1000’s of bones, and take home to our loved ones….a big breath of fresh air.

My first three levels I didn’t do dick. For starters, I drew one of the most difficult tables in the entire tourney. Don’t believe me? It was the first thing I saw on when trolling for updates…they specifically called attention to my table, with the likes of Nate Kogel, Mike ‘Carwash’ Schneider, a guy they call ‘Uncle Krunk’ and several internet wizardly types…and I suspect, a few members of the Markup Police. At first break I had 18k…a couple thousand below starting stack.

I won my first big hand with KK…that hand I’ve watched go down in flames more times this week (by other players, not me) than any time in the last ten years. It’s been astonishing. Well…Nate put in one of his many raises in early position….and there was a 2nd raise to 2200. I decided to not play it cute…and since I really needed to win a pot to reverse my poor momentum, I decided to play it to end it pre-flop. So I re-popped it to 5800. Nate folded, but the other guy called. Ugh. The flop came J-3-6. He leads out for 2400. I laid out 6200. He calls. Oh no. What THIS time? The turn brought a 6…which made me feel a little better. He checked this time. I bet 7500. He tanks…then looks at me, and says “Hmmm…that smells like kings!” Good read sir. He folded.

A while later…on a 4-way hand, me holding 88…the flop came 6-8-9. Two diamonds. It got real nasty….action on the flop and turn…then the guy in the small blind decided to check-raise me all in on the turn…putting me to a HUGE decision. Shit. I spent the entire day on Flight A losing with sets…and there was a lot of things out there beating me. But I had also played with this guy a bit, and I knew two things. (a) he liked to bluff. (b) he knew I was one of the only players capable of folding a set in that spot. I sat there thinking….and verbally said “I have a bad feeling you have J10 (for a straight) and I’m about to get my set crushed again” but I don’t know, maybe our dealer can pair the board for me. Wow…tough call here.” I made the call. He simply utters…”I can’t beat a set, in fact…I have no outs to win.” Talk about feeling good. There are no sweeter words to hear than “I’m drawing dead!” He didn’t even want to turn his cards over, but of course the dealer made him. He was out…and I dragged my biggest pot of a very long day.

One of my worst calls of the day…one that I thought might end up costing me the tourney….was on the first hand after dinner break. I went to dinner break with 52k…which was far ahead of the average of 36k. So here we go. There is an all in from a short stack for 7500. Then this rather aggressive Asian guy wearing a Men The Master logo on his track jacket, goes all in as well…for 13,900. I look down at 99 on the button. Shit. Its roughly a quarter of my stack to call, with the chance to knock out two players. Or…if I can beat the one guy while losing to the shorter stack…I still almost break even on the call. Hmmm….damn. And I don’t know, officially if this was a good call or a bad call. I even asked 4 or 5 of my trusted poker friends. They all made an argument for both sides of the coin. I called.

I was up against A8 and….ugh…ACES! Yuck. But I did manage to turn a straight draw AND a flush draw…before bonking the river. That set me back a lot. And then I went card dead. Oh no…not this song and dance, again! I blinded down to 25k and was really starting to get nervous.

Then I get 88 again, under the gun. I raise to 2500 at 500/1000. I get four callers. Yikes! The flop comes 7-8-9. I can think of better flops. But also worse ones. I check. The guy behind me checks. And Nate (predictably) bets the flop for us. He puts out 4200. It comes back to me, and I raise to 10,200. Then the guy after me makes it 24,000. Nate folds. What the fuck? Whatever…I’m not folding. I kind of think maybe he has A10…or maybe a set of sevens. Wrong. He has freaking KK. Wow! He decided to play it sneaky preflop…and kind of had it blow up in his face. The dealer puts out the remaining two cards after we both got it all in…and I see three diamonds out there and his King of diamonds catches my eye. All I’m watching for is a diamond…and when a diamond hits the river, I thought I’d lost. Until I noticed that the turn card was a nine…and the rest of the table was laughing at me. Again!

Earlier…when a guy had tried to bluff me, and I made what I felt was a hero call…I saw his cards…and thought he’d turned a straight, and reacted emotionally…only to realize he was merely open-ended and had missed on the river. Whooops! So same deal on the 8’s…I’d won with a boat…and scooped an enormous pot to get my stack back to a healthy number…something like 90k!

Another big hand would happen towards the end of the night…when I raised UTG with JJ…got called again by four people…and flopped 7-8-10…with two spades. Not a bad flop. I lead out on the flop….one fold, two folds, and this guy shoves all in. Shit. Folds back to me. I can’t fold to this guy…it’s another 25k…which had I lost would have set me back to about 30k. But whatever. I put him on a flush draw. Nope. Pocket nines. Gross. He turns a six….shit! At least I still have outs….I need a nine or a spade….and on the river…SPADE!!!

I responded with my biggest emotional reaction in a poker tourney in a LONG time. Then I regathered myself…or tried to. I was no over 100k. I won a few more decent pots…and when it came time to bag up…had 128,000 chips…sitting 33rd out of the remaining 123 players. We head back at noon (45 minutes from now) to get started on Day 2…with 72 people getting paid. But that has no bearing for me. It’s final table or bust!

Joining me….my roommate. The Claw! She had a day a lot like mine, except she was up big early…topping the 100k mark early in the day….only to encounter a train wreck level that decimated her stack and left her with only 25k. But she rebounded well…and at the end of the night bagged up 118k. So we are both heading back healthy, and optimistic.

I haven’t asked for anything for my birthday in probably 20 years. But today? On my 47th birthday? Yeah! I would like to ask the Poker Gods to PLEASE let my superior hands hold up! Please….allow my one, maybe two bluffs to NOT get called! And for the love of god…can I be allowed to suck out once or twice myself, if necessary? That’s all I ask! I need this, I want this….to re-establish myself as a poker player who knows what the hell he’s doing. And to give these members of the ‘MarkUp Mafia’ something to suck on!!!!



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