Monday, January 26, 2009

Follow-up visit

As indicated in my previous post, not running so goot. It was actually a relief to figure out (fool myself?) that it has primarily been variance kicking my ass in MTTs.

Despite the poor results, I have not lost my enthusiasm. I am continuing to shoot in the belief that shots will start to drop eventually. Perhaps my 13th-place finish (295 runners) in a PLO8 tournament last night will provide me with some positive momentum.

I came home a bit ago from a follow-up visit to the orthopedic surgeon. It was a follow-up only in technicial sense. The first visit two weeks ago was with a doctor who told me he didn't do knee replacements and that I'd have to come back and see a doctor who does.

"I don't know why they scheduled you with me," he said with a shrug. I managed to bite my tongue for once.

But he had relatively good news. He thought I'd only need a partial replacement, which comes with considerably shorter recovery time. Today's visit explains why the first doctor doesn't do knee replacements.

The real doctor determined I need a brand new knee, which I'll be receiving at the end of February. He told me that that, after the surgery, I'll have the left knee of a 60-year-old man.

"A healthy 60-year-old man," he quickly added. That news did not do much for my 49-year-old peace of mind.

As for why my knee should be in such wretched shape, the doctor guessed that it was cumulative, a collection of knicks and scratches that has torn the cartilage to shreds. My knee wasn't made for that many trips up and down the basketball court, that many pass patterns, that many hours on that baseball field, or that many golf swings. Sumbitch just wore out and it's time to get a new one.

The doctor had that air of confidence you like to see in physicians, airline pilots and hookers. He assured me that I'll eventually be pain free after surgery and weeks of rehab. He saw now reason why I won't be able to walk long distances, play golf or participate in other low-impact activities.

And the 2 1/2 months that I'm expected to be out of commission, largely sitting at home on my ass, should provide plenty of opportunities to have variance kick me in the junk while playing online. As for now, I'm looking forward to that as well.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And the beats go on

Hours of study, intense post-regression analysis and post-hypnotic suggestion has led to this conclusion about my MTT play the last several weeks: I run bad.

Stupid bad.

Fugly bad.

I've managed just a handful of cashes and one final table over this time period and, with the exception of one brain-dead night, I've not played that badly. But the deck won't stop bitch slapping me with the kind of standard, fucked-up beats that make you question your sanity.

When shooters miss, they keep firing away in the belief that the shots will finally start to drop. That's me, kids. Any day now. Any day.

Monday, January 19, 2009


My national nightmare ended around 1 o'clock this morning when I found myself cashing in a $2.20 triple draw tournament on Stars. My small stack disappeared a few hands later, leaving me with a $2.82 profit.

That miniscule cash did, howeer, end a streak of 21 online tournaments where I failed to make the money. The most miserable example came in the $32K Guaranteed Sunday on Tilt.

With 600-plus players remaining, my 12K stack was well above average when I found pocket aces in the small blind. A player in MP made one of those odd-amount raises, prompting me to reraise an equally odd amount. Heads-up, the flop came 10-9-6, which looked pretty damn good for aces. Or did it?

I made a pot-sized bet of around 2,300 and my opponent put another 5K on top. Sumbitch. Does he have 10s? That's what it felt like. It certainly made sense.

Having made that solid read, I pushed all-in hoping he had jacks, queens or kings. I quickly discovered how smart and how stupid I was in one fell swoop. Of course he had pocket 10s. And, of course, I had blown a chance to cash in a tournament with decent-sized payouts.

There was a time when I would become a super nit when I knew conservative play would likely lead to a cash. That doesn't happen anymore. The bottom payouts are meaningless to me now. In search of a stack that will carry me to the final table, I've stayed aggressive, and there were four or five times during the streak where I busted within sight of the money. I want a stack that will carry me to the final table. But that's not going to happen either if I can't trust my strong reads and lay down hands, even aces, when I believe that I'm behind.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Small steps

We had reached a strange but potentially deciding moment in what had been for me a strange tournament. Turbo Tom and I were heads-up Friday night in a $40 tournament at Diverjoules, the last men standing from a field of 18 players.

Turbo pushed his last 38K on a turn card that, at first blush, I believed did not help him. Something told me nothing on the board had connected with his hand. Unfortunately, nothing on the board was good for my A-6 suited either. If I call and lose, my sizable chip lead will be gone. I pondered. Could my ace-high be actually be good? I reviewed the preceding action and gave Turbo a long, hard look. The answer arrived. My ace was ahead. I called and Turbo sheepishly flipped over 10-7. My ace high held up and the tournament was over. Turbo, a good sport and good guy, grumbled and wondered how I could have made that call. Knowing what I think I knew, how could I not?

By all rights, I should not have reached that point in the proceedings. I don’t question my good fortune in life, but I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly lucky poker player. You would not have known that Friday night.

After a poor start, I doubled up when my 5-10 suited cracked limped kings in a blind vs. blind battle with Monsignor. I then doubled up at the final table with Jd-9d vs. Colin’s A-J with a flopped flush. Three-handed and in the money, I got a huge double-up when I my pushed Qh-8h outran Turbo’s big slick on the river.

My luckboxery created the expected pissing and moaning from players and audience alike, but I didn’t care. Shit happens in poker and, on this frigid winter night, good shit happened to me. I’ll take it.

When I trudged out to my car afterward, the temperature having dipped below zero, I felt pretty warm inside. I’ve spent the last month or so working, with limited success on my tournament game. I’ve played nearly 90 tournaments online since the first of the year as I try to make the incremental improvements needed to finally break through.

I’ve sustained an insignificant monetary loss thus far, but I believe I have gained some knowledge. Situations seem clearer. The read against Turbo was half situation, half body language, but it was a read and not some half-cocked guess. The process worked well.

The difficulty in this self-improvement effort has been determining what I don’t know. Ultimately, it really comes down to decision making. Better players make better decisions. Their mental checklist in determining how they play a hand contains more items – more information to consider – than the rest of us. I need to study and work harder to expand my checklist. When that happens, I can only hope that the monetary rewards will follow.