Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Five Way Tie for Second
I was tired, and hungry, but found my way after work driving to the local card club for their Monday night tournament. I was an hour early, which is unusual for LA but easy to do when you avoid the freeways at rush hour, or at least know which ones to use, and recognize bottleneck patterns forming ahead of you. GPS devices and radio reports only tell you what has already happened, and when it will be clear. Experience tells you what to look for, and wisdom tells you how to avoid the pitfalls and maneuver quietly through the maze. Found a nice parking place, entered and saw a small crowd at a couple of tables, grabbed a free magazine and ordered a meal at their restaurant. Waitress just nods and says 'yes, your usual'. Okay, must have tipped better than I thought last year. Flipping through the pages another player walks by and says 'too late for reading, we will start playing soon'. I thank him and remind myself that the most interesting things in these pages are the ads for more tournaments, and the entertainment value, not for tips on how to actually play poker. You can learn what to play, how to play, when to play, who to play, where to play, in individual articles, but no article can put it all together for you. Books come closer, but even then, to understand what you have read in a dozen books is to actually play a few thousand, if not hundreds of thousands, hands of poker and then review the books and put it all together in your own head for a foundation to pick what may work in the future. How, When, Who, Where, do not all fit together all the time. It's almost like grasping at straws, even if you get them, the end result is that you still fall. You have to be a bit odd to take up a hobby like this, and that sounds almost like there is a certain pride in being odd. Well there is. Don't we all cherry pick a bit of what we like out of the environments we see everyday? That odd bit there, and this odd bit here ought to combine into a unique style, don't you think? When a few hundred folk think the same way, it lends itself to being called common sense. At least for that group of folk. This group of ten at the final table whittled down from the thirty that started is such an odd mix of characters. Two across the table from me who have only seen me play a tight game until this day. Three on my left who play well, if inexperienced. Three on my right who mostly play elsewhere and just popped in to this place tonight. And a dealer from another club also across from me. She is the one that scares me the most. We both started at table one together and watching each other play. She knows the rules, but not table etiquette. Slamming down winning cards, defining what everyone else may be doing at the table, etc. She does put the chips neatly in front of her when betting though, that is a nice move considering how many other players waste the dealers time by tossing them anywhere and then having to pick up the rolling ones from down the table, somewhere. She plays the best hands well, and the not so good ones, not so well. My kind of opponent, if scary. The guy from table three on her right has more chips than the other nine of us combined, this does not look good. We all vote that instead of paying just the top four players with the prize pool, we pay down to ten places after taking ten percent of the pool for the dealers. During the next hour, the two that thought they knew my style, get eliminated by me when I called their raise and re-raise all-in with Ace-King that held up over their Ace-Rag holdings when the case Ace hit on the flop. They didn't think I'd call a pre-flop raise and a re-raise with a drawing hand, even if it was the best drawing hand, to race against a possible pocket pair of theirs. I really didn't think that they had a pair by their reactions after they looked at their cards. A couple more short stacks went away over the next half hour and the final hand went something like this. I'm in the big blind for four thousand, chip leader, now to my left, raises to ten thousand. Woman to his left goes all in for eight thousand, a couple of folds to the small blind to my right who goes all in for six thousand. I look down and see an Ace-Ten of spades and think for about a minute. Two folk are all-in, so it would be the chip leader and me for the second side pot, or check it down and try to eliminate the other two players with what we have. I call the ten thousand and see the flop. A red Ace and two little clubs. No sweat, I check. Chip leader checks. Okay, I guess we are going to check it down. Turn comes with a ten of clubs. Great two pair. I could have bet, but check and so does he. River comes another small club and I check. He repeats his check and I show my two pair. He mucks his cards and I win the second side pot. Woman across from me shows the ace of spades for a flush for the first side pot and tries to take the main pot but the small blind shows his two little clubs for a straight flush! He didn't even know until I pointed it out to him. OMG. Instead of being eliminated, he collects all the blind and antes and whatever else was in the main pot to get back into the game. At that time the words 'Six Way Chop?' came out of my mouth and the woman across me opened her eyes wide and started to sell the idea to the rest of the table. The mighty chip leader wanted to be compensated for being the chip leader and she and I understood that he should get a little extra after dividing the cash into six neat piles by the director, she took the odd amount that did not divide by six easily and put it on one stack for the chip leader, he agreed as the rest of us agreed and was declared the winner as the rest of us chopped up the prize pool. In effect, there was a five way tie for second place. Not bad for a little three and a half hour tournament. I did not really want to play for five hours, having a job to go to the next day and all. I'm glad I played and that we chopped. Looking forward to the next tournament.