Friday, October 22, 2004

Mother of God, is this the end of Rico?

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PokerStars Tournament #2868250, No Limit Hold'em
Buy-In: $20.00/$2.00
133 players
Total Prize Pool: $2660.00
Tournament started - 2004/10/21 - 21:00:00 (ET)

Dear ricoM,

You finished the tournament in 8th place. A $69.16 award has been credited to your Real Money account.

Congratulations!

Thank you for participating.

***

Well, yes. Given that my experience could charitably be described as “virginal”, it was a fun, interesting – even profitable - tourney for me that clearly illustrated the difference of play you’ll find between “real money” and freeroll tournaments. As someone noted in Iggy’s comments section, it was refreshing not be in a situation where you had high pocket pairs only to be bad beaten by someone who decided to go all-in with an unsuited 3 7 combo pre-flop because he “had a feeling.”

I accomplished all four of the goals I had set to myself before the tourney’s start, “have fun,” “don’t play hands you know you shouldn’t,” “don’t embarrass yourself,” and “make back your entry fee.” Well, maybe not #3 at times, but #1 made up for it.

Not much to say about my hands, which were generally unmemorable except for one river flush that brought in a pretty little pot and a full house I pulled at the turn late in the game. Unfortunately, I ended up splitting what should have been a sizeable pot for me with “AustinKearns” aka “Fast Eddie”, who I had dreaded playing against based on Iggy’s description of his behavior, but who turned out to be a relatively quiet and polite player, at least for this tournament. Smart, too. It was interesting watching him make his moves against pots, usually pulling them in with an unchallenged large bet. “Austin” would eventually get knocked right after me, in 7th place, getting beaten as I remember with a pair of Jacks against KK… I may have that wrong, it was close to midnight by then, I was out of the action, and I was failing after too many marathon nights cheering on the Sox.

Other impressions? The game flowed continuously between tight and loose action. Wasn’t unusual for a large bet – or often just a call – in any position to take the pot pre-flop. I took an unusual number of unchallenged pots when in the BB, with not even the small blind calling, again something I’ve seldom seen in freeroll play. On the other hand, when someone felt that they had a strong hand, the bet was often all-in… again from any position, especially after the second hour, where antes and blinds were increasing and stacks were shrinking. Most of the show-downs were between high pairs, A 10 suited, and so on. Got into the spirit of that myself, and saved my increasingly shorter stack with pocket pairs several times over the near-three-hours I was in the game. Very, very little slow play at the tables I was at.

Didn’t get the opportunity to play against Iggy (who was apparently going under the appropriate screen name of “Guinness”, nor, I think, Wil Wheaton. Much speculation during the game about where/who our Wil was, with the popular vote going to “Thehammer72”, although various players with spacey names such as “Spock” and "Spaceman” were closely questioned.

If “Thehammer” was Wil, he had an early night, getting knocked out in 80th position. Iggy had left the scene even earlier, finishing in 88th... both victims of the "maldito rio", according to the Iggster.

Me? For the first time since I started playing tournament poker I was blinded out, ultimately having my remaining $546 eaten by a $600 big blind $598 eaten by a $1200 big blind where all I held was an unsuited 10 7. Unsurprisingly, I lost, and that was it for lil’ Rico.

Mother of God, is this the end?” as my avatar would have said. Obviously should have moved earlier, but I hesitated too long, and the blind she came and sucked away all my money.

In retrospect, I think I have to start learning how to change gears in late game play. When I’m playing my strong, tight game it’s not unusual for me to survive to late in the game – but it’s also not unusual for me to end up in the finals with the short stack on the table. At that level, large blinds, players with stacks in the $20,000+ figures, and loose play, my waiting game often doesn’t work. That and I also suspect I’ve swung the pendulum too far and my play is now often too conservative for too many hands. If I’ve seen the flop, a large bet from an opponent will too often drive me out unless I’m certain I have the nuts.

I guess. On the other hand, I finished 8th, right? 124 other players didn't. I had enough scary situations, especially in the 2nd hour, where I went all in, and either my pocket pairs held or I matched the board… so I’m not that conservative.

Luck and skill. Skill and luck. The game’s a combination of both. That’s why I love no-limit Texas Hold `Em.

Thank you, Iggy! Looking forward to the next one.

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