Friday, February 04, 2005

Playing through the pain: My first WPBT tournament

The tale I am about to tell actually starts back on Monday. As my regular readers may recall I had jury duty that morning, woke up feeling not-so-well, and ended up having an “incident” in the jury room at the court house.

On Tuesday afternoon it was settled, I was not going to play in the WPBT tournament. Financially it just wasn’t going to work. Between my back injury and my hours being cut back at work, I just didn’t have the extra money to deposit at Poker Stars. I posted on my blog that I wouldn’t be able to play but that I would be cheering from the rails. I was a little disappointed but I was also relieved. The thought of playing in a tournament with people who actually knew what they were doing was a little scary. See, I play micro-any-two- cards-can-win-limit-poker where raises mean nothing and bluffing is almost impossible. The kind of game the bloggers play I have only seen on TV and read about in books or on blogs. I have no real experience with that level of play so I was comfortable with the role of observer for the evening. Fortunately for me, people actually read my blog and one reader wasn’t about to let me off the hook that easily.

After reading the comment Pauly left after my Tuesday afternoon post I wasn’t sure what to think. Tao of Poker is one of my favorite poker blogs. I really enjoy Pauly’s writing and I think it's great that he isn’t afraid to give honest feedback regarding the quality of some of the newer blogs on the internet, however, his offer to back me in the tournament made me question his sanity. I finally decided that, insane or not, this was an offer I couldn’t refuse. I was going to play in my first WPBT tournament and that knowledge found its way into my dreams while I slept that night.

With the exception of the continued pain in my abdomen, Wednesday was just like any other work day. I did my job, made a few people smile (they don’t know me well enough to know better), and went home to prepare for the tournament. Preparation consisted of reviewing a chart of starting hands vs. position and reading some new posts on my favorite blogs. About ten minutes before the tournament started something bad happened. I took a breath and felt a sharp pain in my left side, like someone was stabbing me with an ice pick (not that I know what it feels like to be stabbed with an ice pick). I took another breath and felt the same thing. As a matter of fact, every time I inhaled my abdomen went into a painful spasm. That’s when the conversation started in my head:

“Why won’t this go away? Maybe I just need to wait a few minutes………Okay,
it’s not getting any better. I think it’s actually getting worse, maybe I
should unregister from the tournament…..No, I’ll be okay in a few minutes….Oops,
the tournament is starting so I can’t unregister now. Crap, why won’t this
pain stop!”

The pain continued as the tournament started. I checked out my table to see if I recognized any names. Turns out Badblood and Up4Poker were the only names I recognized at my table but it was enough to worry me. Somehow I had to play my best game and survive this damn pain. I ended up folding almost all my hands in the first two levels. I couldn’t focus on the game and probably let a couple of good hands get away. It was what I had to do to keep from really screwing up but I wasn’t happy to be doing it.

Finally I got JJ and, like the couple other hands I attempted to play, I raised pre-flop. Badblood called and we saw the flop. No help for me but I threw out a bet anyway. The turn was a J. I made another bet and Badblood raised me all in. I called but at that point I think I was hoping he had me beat. The pain had started to subside but it hadn’t gone away completely and I was afraid it would come back. I ended up winning my first hand of the night.

A few minutes later I was almost pain free but I still wasn’t sure that continuing to play was the right move. But, I guess if I am going to die I might as well be playing poker at the time. And play poker I did! Actually I continued to fold a lot. Even with the pain almost gone, my brain wasn’t functioning properly but I managed to take down a pot on level five with AKo (I outkicked the other caller). That was really the best hand I saw for quite a while. I was getting all sorts of crap and my math disability makes it difficult to bluff my way through a steal attempt. Eventually I was moved to a table with SirFWALGMan and Drizztdj but I continued to be dealt crap.

Level six came and I was moved to my last table for the evening. Somewhere around that time Pauly informed me that he was out and it was all up to me. No pressure there! ;0) I had about 1200 in chips when JJ came through for me again and I cracked QQ when the third J came on the river. I was up to 2670 but I knew it wasn’t enough to get me to the final table but I went back to getting crap hands. I did manage to steal a couple pots in level seven but the antes were eating up my stack fast. I needed a big pot and I needed it soon.

Level eight would prove to be the best and the worst level of the game for me. Early on I had KK. There were three of us in the pot and two of us were all in. I was up against QQ and 55. Flop came 2s9h7s and I was wishing I had the hammer. The turn and river were 3’s and I won 5285. I was still in shock five hands later when I got AJs. It ended up another 3-way pot with two of us all in. KK and AQ against my AJ (did anyone have luck with AJ?) and I wasn’t feeling so confident about my hand. The flop showed an A but the damn river showed a Q and my tournament was over.

I didn’t make the money but I finished in 36th place. I was not totally unhappy with my play considering the health issues and now that I know what to expect in the next one.

A big thanks to Iggy for arranging the tournament and Pauly for making it possible for me to play.

The unforeseen cicumstances that prevented me from posting this yesterday was the medication I started for the pain in my abdomen. Nothing serious, I just need to take some drugs for a few days.

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