I just tried to stare down Tom McEvoy. Not a household name, but… Tom McEvoy is a professional poker player. A good one. Considered to be one of the best at high-stakes tournaments. And I’m playing him in a high-stakes tournament, along with 19 other people. Only I don’t know it’s Tom McEvoy… I just know it’s a guy in a cowboy hat. We’re heads-up before the flop, and I look at him to watch him watch the cards get laid out. The poker books tell you to wait to look at the flop yourself later. Give yourself a few seconds to watch your opponent watch the flop. See if he gives away any information in his look. Did he hit his card and look excited? Does he look dejected? Tom looks up and sees me looking at him and gives me a little “howdy” smile. I smile back and realize I’m barking up the wrong tree.
Twenty minutes later somebody tells me that that’s Tom McEvoy. And “the books” that I mentioned earlier that tell you to watch your opponent? I own a whole bunch of ‘em. Including a bunch written by Tom McEvoy.
Whoops. I feel a bit silly.
I go on to finish in 5th in the tournament. Tom goes out 7th, so I feel a little bit of personal victory, but… I would have much rather have finished in the top 4, because those are the people that got paid ($2000 to the winner, $1000 for second, $600 for third, and $400 for fourth.) I keep finishing on the bubble. Monday night I did a $100 buy-in tournament, and… same thing… 5th place. Always the bridesmaid…
But, still… I’ve been playing well, so I say to myself “keep playing the tournaments.”
Cash games? So erratic. In the last two weeks I’ve had a couple of the most solid poker playing performances I’ve ever had, and they’ve been incredibly profitable. And then I’ve had some of the most inconsistent, impatient, and downright shitty nights that I can imagine. Nights that make me think I should be embarrassed to even claim myself a poker player but should downgrade to the dubious “card player” or the even-worse “gambler.”
Thursday was one of those nights. But first: Wednesday.
Wednesday I have off, so I try to decide what tournament to play… Different clubs offer different tournaments on different nights of the week. Different buy-in amounts, different number of starting seats, whether or not they allow rebuys or add-ons, etc. I decide to play a tournament at RRRR’s, because I won that tournament in December for a nice little $750 profit, and I want to keep playing it.
I’ve started listening to music lately while playing, and I even like to read. And I find it’s necessary to have a bottle of water, too. I’m becoming an old lady going to the beach. I might as well start bringing my own seat cushion, a pair of slippers, and a blanket for my lap. Gotta be comfortable. I gather up the ipod, a book, make sure I have layers in case it’s hot or cold. I jump in a taxi. I get water. Oh… and gum! Can’t forget gum and Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1. I call the club to have them hold a seat. I get there just in time… They start seating everybody 2 minutes after I walk in. I pay my $50 and sit down with $40 other guys.
I play for 15 minutes. Nothing spectacular. I get one decent hand, raise and everybody folds. I limp a couple of times and don’t really hit anything. I make a nice tiny little bluff on a pot… I started with 1500 chips, and I now have 1800. Nothing special, like a said, but I feel like I’m in a bit of a groove and have a bit of a read on some of the guys on my table. A couple more hands go by and I have 86spades on the button. There are like 4 limpers when it gets to me, the blinds don’t look like they’ll be raising, so I give it a shot. Not normally cards I’d play in a tournament, but 6 or 7 way and seeing the flop for the minimum… I’ll give it a shot since I have position and since I’ve picked up a few small pots.
The flop comes Ahearts, Jspades, 4spades. I’ve got a flush draw.
The little blind comes out betting. I saw him thinking about raising pre-flop but then pulling back and checking at the last second. I’m sure he has a big Ace… like AT, AJ, AQ. Probably not AK or he still woulda raised pre-flop.
So, yeah… he comes out betting 350. there’s 350 in the pot. Everybody folds to me. I call the 350.
The turn: 9spades. I hit my flush. He hesitates, and checks to me. I bet 600 into the 1050 pot.
He goes all-in. I felt like it might be a trap, and I guess it was. Or is it a bluff? Or a semi-bluff? Maybe he just has the Aspades, not two spades. He has me covered (has more chips than me). I only have 800 chips left. Which is still a lot. I realize in hindsight that I really should have just folded and tried to fight it out with a half a stack to see how I could do. But I guess I just got frustrated, so I call. I tell him I’ve got the flush already… I ask him if he does, too, or if he just has the Ace. He says he has the flush. I know I’m beat. In a tournament you have to turn the cards over (I guess to prevent collusion / mis-declaring hands / etc.). He turns over Aspades, 10spades. I’m “drawing dead.” There isn’t a card in the deck that can come on the river that would make me win the hand. Sometimes there’s like one miracle card that would make a straight flush that would let me beat somebody else in these kinds of situations. But this ain’t one of them. I get up and start walking away before the dealer even flips over the last card. (they still have to run the entire board, even if somebody is drawing dead. Hold ‘em is still a 7 card game, and a winner can’t be declared until all 7 cards are out. Minor detail.)
All that preparation, for 20 minutes of play. I go out SECOND of all 40 players. It’s kinda the poker player walk of shame. Now I want to play some more. I try to distract myself by luring a friend out for a drink. I text her “come and meet me and there are 3 amstels in it for you.” No response.
I start walking towards PPPP.
Just then I get a text from Eamonn. “Food?”
“Sure” I text back.
I start walking towards Union Square. He calls… I miss his call, and call him right back. I say “where are you?” and he says “Walking towards Union Square.”
I say “I see you.”
He’s 30 feet in front of me.
We go and get a drink and a bite to eat, although I don’t really eat much because in my preparation to go to the tournament, I ate some food. Sometimes those things take 4 hours, and you really don’t want to eat during a tournament. So I’m not really hungry.
He has to be at work early the next day, so he leaves me at a little before 11 PM. I go home.
I decide to check out the tournament situation online at Paradise Poker. I log on, and see that there’s a $150 buy-in tournament starting in three minutes, and there are 33 people in it. I say “what the hell… I’ll do a 40 person tournament right now.”
Well… over the next 5 minutes, 63 more people register. I’m now in a 96 person tournament where the winner is getting $6000. Whoops. I mean… I’m ready for it, but… this could take quite a long time if I do well, and it ain’t easy beating that many players EVER.
But… here we go. I play for a while. It doesn’t seem like much happens, but an hour goes by, I’ve doubled up, 40 players have dropped out, and I have a slightly above average chip stack. Then… the same thing happens the next hour. I don’t feel like much happens, but… Somehow there are 32 players left, I’m like 12th, and I’m feeling OK. It gets down to two tables, and suddenly I go on a little run. I’m like 4th in chips… And I stay there for a while. I go down to 7th out of 15, but then I climb back up. When we go to the 10 person final table I’m 4th. I play well… get a couple of good hands. I’m chip leader with 7 people left! I make a bad call, lose some chips. Another player gets knocked out… I’m 2nd. Another player gone… Still in 2nd. I’m in first for just a minute again. Then I have a decision hand. I have AJclubs. Under The Gun is a short stack, and he goes all-in for 7000 chips. I’m in first with 44,000. I know he’s going all-in with any Ace… I’m sure my AJ is beating him. But I’ve got 4 players behind me, including the 2nd and 3rd place players. And… I’m reminded of a specific paragraph in one of the Tom McEvoy / TJ Cloutier tournament books: beware of “bunching.” TJ believes that if there aren’t that many good hands on the table before the button, then there’s a higher probability of there being a premium hand in the blinds. Normally I would raise all-in to try to isolate, but… what if I run into a monster hand and lose all my chips?
I decide to just call.
Sure enough, the button folds, and the little blind goes all-in for 35,000 chips. Now… that’s the kind of bet that’s rarely a bluff, because he only betting into a side-pot. No matter what his cards are going to be seen, and the only reason he would go all-in is because he’s pretty damn positive he has better cards than I do.
Sure enough… Under the Gun shows A10diamonds, and little blind shows KK. A good fold, for sure.
The flop: 7clubs, Kclubs, 9 clubs. If I had called, I would have flopped the nut fucking flush. Of course, the little blind flopped a set of Kings, so he has a killer draw for a full house. But the turns a blank, and the rivers a blank. His trip Kings beat the other guy’s Ace high, and a player is eliminated. I would have been a monster, but… I made the right move, but now I’m in second place.
I play for another 20 minutes… the guy that just won that hand eventually knocks out the other big chip stack (the third place guy), and I knock out the short stack… it’s head’s up, but he has me like 80,000 to 35,000. two hands later I get AK, I make a small raise which he calls. The flop comes 6A6. I bet, he raised, I re-raise all-in. sure enough… he has J6. his trip 6’s beat my pair of A’s, and I come in second place. Which pays out $2650. For a tidy $2500 profit for a bit under 4 hours work.
I’m smile… I feel like it all happened for a reason. I busted out early of the other tournament. Michelle didn’t text me back, but Eamonn did text out of the blue, but then has to go home early. So I find myself at the computer, and the next thing you know I have my biggest tournament win ever.
Nice nice NICE.
But remember… I told you the story about Wednesday, JUST so that I could tell you the story about Thursday.
Which isn’t really much of a story. I play for 7 hours at BBBB on Thursday night and lose $750. Then I go home and start playing online. I start playing $8/$16 limit and then $10/$20 limit and then $20/$40 limit. I play all morning. I get BAD BEAT after BAD BEAT. I keep flopping sets and losing to gut shots and four-flushes. I keep flopping the nut flush draw and not hitting it and watching some guy with top pair and a shitty kicker take it down. I get CRUSHED.
I play all day Friday… for 12 hours. I don’t sleep. At all. I just play. And I lose… you guessed it… $1800.
I won $2516 total on Wednesday. Thursday into Friday I lose $2585.
All that hard work… 19 hours of poker. A big second place finish. And it all adds up to negative 69 bucks.