The North Coast continues to be shrouded in snow and cold, but the Poker Jones is on a small but welcome heater.
Saturday began, however, on a frigid note. I lost an $80-plus pot in a $25NL game after flopping a set of queens. (Villain #1 had pocket kings, Villain #2 had (BAH) K-J. We got all the money in on a flop of A-Q-x. Fifth street brought the redonkulous case king.)
I then dumped a chunk at $100NL by playing A-K like an asswipe when my opponent did everything but type into chat announcing he'd made a set on an ace-high flop. I topped off my stack and got some of it back, but not enough for stop self-loathing completely. I thought my NL game had progressed to the point where I know how to lay down TPTK. Apparently not.
There was still a $40 tournament to be played at TK's Saturday evening. Snow squalls and slick roads might have stymied a lesser degenerate, but I leaned on my years of experience as an Iditarod musher and made it through. There was poker to be played. The weather did limit attendance to just 23 players.
You wouldn't think I was playing poker during the first 90 minutes. Living up to myweak-tight
reputation, I folded all but a few hands -- winning none -- through the first three levels. (The preceding reference is supposed to be a joke. Gary seems to be on a mad rush, using his table image to befuddle and amaze.)
I huddled with my lead sled dog and we decided it was time to switch gears and play the poker. (We did have a back-up plan: A cash game was threatening to finally begin.)
My night started when I got to see a flop with 5d-7d from the BB. The flop came 10-7-x with two diamonds. A new guy bet, I came over the top and he folded K-10 face-up. I showed him the 5-7. I called the same guy's preflop raise not long after with Jc-10c. The flop came 10-high, he led weakly and I again came over the top. He mucked and I showed him the 10. I won another small pot or two and got my 5K starting stack up to around 7,500T at the break.
Relying on my less-than-stellar memory, I can't seem to recall much of anything happening the first half-hour after the break until I was dealt my biggest starting hand for the entire tournament -- pocket 10s. With blinds at 300/600 and sitting on around 6,500T, I pushed and another new guy called off half his stack with pocket 4s. The 10s held up and I finally had chips to work with.
From that point on, I busted two short stacks with Q-10 and A-Q and then bluffed my way into the money. I won several healthy pots with post-flop aggression and managed to work my way into a minor chip lead as we neared the bubble. (Four spots paid.) At the bubble and even after it burst, I sat back and watched as players eliminated each other. My cards were crap and I let them do the dirty worki.
But it meant a 3-1 disadvantage by the time I got heads-up with Sada. I had not played with her previously, but I liked what I saw. She had mounted a comeback from a short stack at the final table with tons of aggression (but thankfully conceded a big pot to me earlier on a scary board that I missed with A-6.)
She had frustrated several players by pushing every hand she opened with. It looked like sound strategy to me, given her stack size. Three-handed, she eliminated Data with K-10 vs. his A-J to get us HU.
And how was I feeling? Tired. I'd been battling a minor but annoying migraine most of the night and wanted the tournament to end. The chip disadvantage did not bother me. (The blinds were 1,500/3,000 and I had around 30K). I believed, rightly or wrongly, that I had an edge skill-wise. But 5 1/2 hours of play in TK's overly warm basement and my the incessant throbbing inside my skull had left me drained.
We parried for around a dozen hands, seeing only a couple of flops. I lost a big chunk on a failed bluff post-flop and found myself down around 20K. I got to see a flop the next hand with Big Lick suited. The board came 6-6-8. We both checked the flop and the turn brought a jack. Sada led for 10K and I pushed. She called with J-something and I doubled up.
A warrior would have played on, using his newfound momentum. A wimp would offer a deal. I'm a wimp. We split the $670 left in the prize pool and 670 all-important POY points.
I was happy to have finally cashed after having gone 0-for-2007 in four or five previous Group tournaments. But, in the light of day, I'm feeling a little squeamish about having made a deal. My SNG experience has made me comfortable (and dare I say confident) with my heads-up play.
But what's done is done. I received a premium given my stack size and soon after the puppies and I sledded off into the cold, snowy night, a little warmer for our efforts.