Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bricks without straw

What's the first rule about heater? Don't talk about heater.

I've cashed (one first, one second and two thirds) in the last four CPMG tournaments I've played for a tidy 600% ROI. How have I done it? I've played well and have gotten absofuckinglutely lucky in a handful of crucial spots, including several occasions when opponents folded big, dominating hands preflop to raises or re-raises.

I'm especially pleased with the win Friday night, a smaller, 15-runner tournament at River Pete's. Victory was achieved largely without cards. I had pocket 9s twice, folding them preflop early and doubling up a shortstack with them late. I stole the blinds and one limped bet with pocket kings late. That's it. There were no sets, no flushes and one straight made with a looooose call with an open-ender on the flop against the short-stacked Meats' pocket aces. Pressure poker ruled the day.

Can this heater be sustained? One can only hope. Positive results breed confidence and foster an approach that keeps most off the demons at bay. But luck will turn. It always does. Facing it with equanimity is the key.

What I find sustaining is the knowledge that I have so much more to learn. The lessons are just easier to take and more clear when you are winning.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Gambling fool

I like to think that I don't have much gamble in me. After last December's Vegas trip, I was poised to write about making some way-out-of-my-comfort-zone bets on the Browns-Jets game, including doubling the action at halftime, but others beat me to the punch with similar and no doubt, better written stories about their Browns-Jets betting experiences. (Cliff Notes: I couldn't watch the wackiness at end of the game and instead wandered aimlessly around downtown like a half-dazed desert rat. The action made me nauseous. I felt no joy cashing my winning tickets, only relief.)

Which is a segue into an interesting hand Saturday night at Dave W's in a typically loooooose $1/1 NLHE game. My original $80 stack fluctuated over the course of several hours, up $50 and then down around $20. That's when I reloaded for another $40, caught a few hands and ran it back into positive territory.

Seven-handed, I was dealt As-Ks one off the button. An EP player raised to $6 and got four callers to the flop of 3s-5s-Jx. The SB checked, Theo in the BB raised $33 all-in, followed by two folds and a quick call from your Hero, who couldn't wait to get it heads-up with Theo knowing with unbending certainty he also was on a flush draw. (You have to know Theo.) That's when the BB screwed everything up. He check-raised all-in, putting $124 on top.

I had him covered, although not by much. I tanked. What's he have? A set? A big pair? I had played with this guy long enough to know that two pair was out of the question on that flop. Same with a drawing hand. Fuck. It's a set or a big pair. Intuition said big pair. And freakin' Theo has some of my outs. What's a donkey to do?

My brain, addled by old age, bad living and the season's first pressing of Great Lakes Brewery Christmas Ale (wicked good), ciphered that my pot odds were roughly 2-1 ... maybe. That's when the little voices in my head began their own independent discussion:

"You can gamble and either have a pretty good night or a somewhat shitty one at the tables."


(Neither one of those inner voices are very articulate. Consider the source.)

So I gambled. BB flipped over queens. Theo a couple of spades. The turn brought the ace of diamonds and the river the ace of clubs. Ship it.

Maybe there's a little more gamble in me than I thought. Or maybe I had too many Christmas Ales.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

American pride

Anyone kvetching about how 63 million people screwed up by voting for Obama should take a moment and realize what this election means to the world, both symbolically and for purposes of realpolitik.

The American Dream does not belong solely to Americans. It belongs to hundreds of millions of people around the world who dare hope for a brighter future. Tuesday’s election did much to restore the world’s faith in the meaning of that dream.

"No matter how they cast their ballots, all America can be proud of the history that was made yesterday," President Bush said today in the Rose Garden.

I believe Bush meant what he said. He is not an evil man. Neither is Barack Obama. He needs to be given a chance. If you don’t like the job he does over the next four years, vote him out of office. But for now, he deserves at least a measure of begrudging respect and the benefit of the doubt.

The world needs a strong, capable leader. I think we've found one.