Several weeks ago I left a rather abrupt post about quitting poker after I made the decision to kamikaze myself from the $2500 Venetian DSE Main event while I had an above average stack and over half the field gone. I know I said I would post some details about what happened but honestly the details are not much of a learning issue other than the fact that external influences can play a bigger part in tilting your game than you might think.
My goal has been to become a highly ranked POY player, but this last event made it clear that it is not a realistic endeavor while I am responsible for both my family and a medical practice.
Coming to this conclusion I was unable to see a purpose in poker. I am not very good at half assing thngs...typically I do or do not. Since I'm not planning anytime soon to become a professional I started to believe that any effort in poker was really a waste of my time. After a lot of thoughtful consideration I realized I have been motivated in poker only to accomplish and ignored the idea of just enjoying the game regardless of the outcome. It was an anxiety driven process.
I have decided that I do not need to keep upping the ante by challenging myself in events that last for 2,000 years, have more skillfull players and higher buy-ins. I will continue to play tournament poker, but I am opting for smaller more time controlled tournaments in addition to more life pre-play planning.
A week after I vowed to quit I found myself at the South Point Casino testing my new plan. I decided to play their 10:00am turbo $60 NLHE bounty tourney. It lasts about 4 hours and was easy to fit in my day. I crushed it completely and at one point had 40% of the chips in play. Eventually when there were just a few remaining I agreed to a chop. It was a good feeling because not only did I enjoy the game, and was able to revel in my achievement, but I was home in time to enjoy Sunday with my family.
It reminded me a bit of my old golfing days. I am a terrible golfer. Although I have a nice lengthy drive (>300 yards) it would typically be on the other fairway. There would be at least one hole where I hit it straight. A 300+ yard drive down the middle of the fairway looks good and feels good enough to make you think you can play this game well enough to come back for more. Even though I play poker much much better than I golf I had a bad enough streak in the last 2 months to knock my confidence down quite a bit. This small win got my fire going again like that monster drive down the fairway.
To make dropping all things poker even more challenging I was contacted by the guys at Quad Jacks to discuss working on some very cool and fun project ideas. Marco Valerio, the interview host, was quick to point out that I was not kidding anyone when I threatened to quit the game.
The Quad Jacks team have some impressive and progressive ideas on poker strategy and so hanging with them I got a better appreciation of their poker theories that mainly involve paying less attention to playing your cards and more attention on playing your opponents. These guys inspire me as they represent the new age poker player and already have a firm grasp that the real money is not in poker itself but the business of it.
Using their concepts I have been pushing the boundaries of my game. This past Saturday was the World Poker Blogger Tour (WPBT) where I placed 3rd succeeding at playing a much looser and more aggressive game.
The poker bloggers fascinate me, as they are a sub-culture of the poker sub-culture. A sub-sub culture? I got involved with both blogging and with bloggers by developing a friendship with the Poker Grump. The Grump, an interesting character himself, is a professional poker player that survives off low limit cash game poker. He is well educated and creates incredibly well written and informative material on his blog. Many of the blogger folk he is friends with are similar in that they are well educated individuals that produce exceptional poker fodder on their sites. I have been a reader of many of these blogs and it was quite fun to have had the opportunity to put faces to their names.
The tournament went very well for me in general. I was a chip leader for most of the day. The field was not as aggressive as I am use to and my more aggressive play worked well since many were on the tighter side of things. I also made very few mistakes.
One of my smaller mistakes was very early on when I was in a multi-way pot that was raised pre-flop by CJ the The Luck Box. I had been playing very aggressive against him and forced him to fold a number of times and he was clearly unhappy about me being involved in another pot. This time I had 3c5c out of position. I flopped and bet out on a flush draw when he re-raised me with his top pair forcing the third opponent out. It was a small risk relative to my stack, and I imagined I had good implied odds...and heck, according to the bloggers "Crubs always make it." I called and the crubs made it. Unfortunately my mistake came when I didn't take advantage of the implied odds that got me into this position. I started to fear that maybe he had a better flush draw and so my brain shifted to controlling pot size, checking and calling CJs bets. When I turned my flush over CJ, an incredible sportsman,visibly looked upset and in a very PC way stated that he didn't expect that I would call a flush draw to a re-raise. He was even nice enough to educate me that calling a re-raise with a flush draw was not a good idea! Lol. His huge turn bet crippled him and started me off with a very healthy stack.
I used my stack in a very aggressive way and was involved in 1/3 - 1/2 of the pots. I picked up some serious momentum and built a pretty big stack by level 5.
Although I didn't know it at the time my most challenging opponent at my first table was Grange95, who also writes one of my favorite poker blogs. Since I had position on him most of the time I got the best of him, and when our table broke he gave me a very nice compliment on my play which was very flattering as I hold him in high esteem.
I encountered many people who I enjoyed meeting including Dawn Summers, Poker Poison and Buddy Dank.
In addition to Grange95, the most challenging players were Bad Blood and Miami Don.
Miami Don was easily the most aggressive player and thankfully he was to my right. At one point after losing several flips to shorties I myself became short. When Miami Don raised on the button with Jack-crap off, I had 99 in the SB and was able to double up through him starting a nice run. He continued to relentlessly raise, and at one point had raised 4 times in a row with no challengers. The fifth time I shoved all in with A7 suited. Although they were good cards to shove back at him with I made a very bad decision to do so since I was in early position and some one woke up with Kings. Miami Don folded and lucky for me I hit my Ace on the flop catapulting me to chip leader. Miami Don, the well deserved winner, must have thought I was the biggest thorn in his side, as I put him all-in on multiple occasions...with garbage hands. Every time he folded.
At the final table Miami Don surpassed my lead when someone shoved into him while he had Aces. He proposed a chop, where he would take 2nd place money and the 1st place trophy and everyone agreed. I was in third place and there were 6 left. Although I really wanted to win the event I agreed to the chop since 1. I didn't want to be the lone asshole and 2. I was a newbie in this group and I knew the trophy would mean more to Miami Don than it would to me.
Overall I had a great time. The bloggers were a great group of people. They were kind, fun and exceptionally welcoming. I am excited to see them next year and participate in some of their social events a well.