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05/25/2005: "somewhere a clock is ticking"

yes, yes, i have returned!

in all actuality, i came back on Friday night after busting out of the $500 + $50 tournament. for the record, i was able to play in two tournaments, the $300 + $30 and the $500 + $50 tournament. so you ask, why didn't you play in the $200 + $20 tournament on Wednesday morning? hold your damn horses, we'll get to that....

more after the jump!

first off: DO NOT ever fly without reservations. you can compound this error by paying cash. why you ask? b/c on both legs of my trip i was "selected", meaning i had the TSA's long arm shoved up my arse, just in case this white, protestant, 35 year old male might be planning something nefarious. how many of those Sept. 11th terrorists were from the U.S. again? fugging morons. yeah, i feel safer - nice system, Homeland Security.

anyway, SWA was their usual no-frills but perfectly adequate airline. i arrived at Harrah's at 9:30AM on Wednesday. foolishly, i assumed that since the tournament started at Noon, getting there early in the AM would allow me to register and then get set-up in my hotel. amateur mistake. the $200 + $20 event sold out Tuesday night by 9PM. it even sold out of all 200 alternate spaces, for a grand total of 800-something players. this would be the norm for the next 3 events.

at least i wasn't the only moron there on Wednesday. no, the whole tournament director staff was there and these guys make the umpa-lumpas look focused. since the $200 + $20 event sold out, the horde of people who missed playing were scrambling around trying to figure out when the $300 + $30 registration would start. being somewhat in the know, i knew 4PM was the go hour, so i figured i should arrive about 2PM to stand in line for my number. score one for Brently. i actually arrived at 1:30PM, thinking i could collect a number and be on my way until like 3:30PM, when we would all come back, reassemble and then pay our buy-in. HA! again, amateur mistake. no, in the wisdom of the tournament director, we were to all stand in line until we bought-in, meaning i stood in line from 1:30PM to 4:45PM. i was #72. there were over 800 people in line. go through the wisdom with me here: as Harrah's New Orleans you have roughly 900 poker players assembled, most with fat wads of cash in their pockets, many whom are gambling degenerates; instead of allowing these people to roam about your casino and ply your craps, blackjack, pai gow, and roulette tables with their loose money, you instead choose to make them STAND IN LINE FOR 5 HOURS, where you, as a casino, earn NOTHING from them. it does not take an Ivy League educated MBA to see that is a very poor business decision. i tip my hat to Ken Lambert, Jr. - Harrah's Director of Tournament Poker. kudos to you, sir!

anyway, now registered for Thursday's event, i hang out and play in some single-table tournaments (STTs), in an attempt to earn some tournament entry chips (TECs). they are spreading $35, $65, and $105 tables and filling them as fast as people can sit down. makes sense - you have a bunch of pent-up gambling addicts streaming in from regsitering, looking for action. again, kudos to you, Ken Lambert, Jr. - Harrah's Director of Tournament Poker; thanks for the wait! anyway, i play a couple of STTs for various amounts; the going wisdom is get down to two players and make a deal, with the chip leader taking the lion's share. i end up earning 5 gleaming TECs, worth $500 and costing me roughly $150. not bad. almost earned my next buy-in for the $500 + $50 tournament on Friday. downside to all this gambling? i shut the tournament room down at 5AM, when we literally ran out of enough players to spread tables. i also drank easily $150 worth of Tanqueray Ten - i was hammered. but i was having a good time and at least the dealers at my table made some tips (b/c i damnwell made sure of it.)

so it is 5AM on Thursday morning. i am off across the street to the W for some sleep. cue up 10AM when i awake in a puddle of sweat: New Orleans is as humid, if not more than Houston. yuk. oh yeah, i am hungover. my head feels like a throbbing puddle of gristle. i eat 4 advil and pray. i also order up some scrambled eggs, dry toast, OJ, and coffee. thank god for room service. eat and SSS then it is across to Harrah's for the noon start of the $300 + 30 tournament. 847 entrants, over 200 of which are alternates. ouch. thankfully the levels are 45 minutes and you start with T1500 in chips. i am already liking the set-up. the dealers are marginal, varying from old hand pros to neophytes. most players at the tables are accomodating and i think we only had to have the floor called once. i play pretty conservative, not catching many cards, making a few steals, but mostly just hanging around the T1500 chip start level. by level 3, with blinds at $50/$100 we are finally moved into the main tournament room (i started in the poker room, which was set-up as a satellite room until tables reduced down.) the main tournament room is really a banquet room, where they have setup roughly 35 tables with 11 players each. yeah, 11 players. so by level 3 there are roughly 385 players left! yeah, people have been playing fast and loose. at this point i think i have sucked out once on a guy (making the straight with my A K when he put me all in on a J 10 X board, i figured i had plenty of outs, plus i had him covered) and happened to make some plays, so i am roughly #2 in chips at our table with T4000. i then make a huge error and instead of pushing, or at least playing, i wait levels 3, 4 and almost all of 5 before probably playing more than 10 hands. amateur mistake, again. too, too tight in retrospect. we head into level 6 with $100/$200 blinds and $25 antes; the real game begins. i push some, give up some chips, and eventually get caught putting 1/3rd my stack in with a 4xBB bet on KJ suited. one caller to my left goes all in. i have him covered (barely) and i am pretty sure he is stealing; well shiet, i am too, so now what? i call, he flips A8o and i never improve. a few hands later color me broke and i am out in the mid-90s. craptacular. btw, it doesn't start paying $400 and change until place 72. pure genius.

since i drank with the fishes on Wednesday night, Thursday night i make no illusions about playing any STTs. it is back to the W for some trazodone, dinner and sleep. i am lucky that one of the Houston crew (about 15 guys from Northside have also made the trip to New Orleans; it's like Rounders with Mike in the Tropicana) had registered me for Friday's $500 + $50 event, so no lines for me. believe it or not, supra-genius Ken Lambert, Jr. - Harrah's Director of Tournament Poker had made a change for Thursday's registration: they hand out numbered chits with staggard times to come stand in line and sign up. the mistake? they allow each chit holder to register up to 3 people, as long as you have their IDs. so by the time the 600th or so person gets in line, they are sold out. genius. anyway, i count myself lucky, take my entry ticket with me and head to the hotel. oh boy sleep, that's where i'm a viking.

falling asleep by about 10PM means that i am of course awake at 4AM. nice. and yes, trazodone sucks ass. wassup with my doctor denying me Ambien? moron. so by Noon i have had breakfast, read all the daily news that fits, SSS, and perused Harrington on Hold 'em. again, starting the day's tournament i will be in the poker room. it is cold, loud, and generally not as comfortable as the main tournament room. yea! that morning i have mentally decided i will be more agressive, i will try to play fearless (even though i am fearful b/c i am doubting i am staying for Saturday's $1000 + $60 event) and i will make an strong effort to watch the table and the players, to keep my head in the game, and to focus on my movements, making all my actions the same each and every time. well, i can report, some of this worked...but only some.

ready, set go! 846 entrants and we start with T1500 and 50 minutes rounds. right off the bat i am catching cards as i see AK, KK, QQ, along with various other small pairs. i put the smackdown on a few players, all but crippling them for some other vulture to take out. by round 3 our table has seen roughly 6 players crash and burn. that's alot i guess b/c i heard other tables talking about they hadn't lost a single player yet! one proud moment during these early rounds is when i bust the guy in the one seat, a man in his late 40s, well dressed, sporting a Rolex and has the look of an semi-experienced gambler. he mentions he played in the WSOP Lake Tahoe event as well as at Tunica and seemed to be an honest guy. since i was in the 5 seat, i sat for 3 rounds directly across from him. i am pretty sure i picked up the following: when betting on the come, with strong but unmade hands like AK, AQ, etc, he bet with his right hand; when betting with a pocket pair, he used his left hand. a hand came up where i had AK and he bet out pre-flop with a good 3xBB bet, using his right hand. when the ace hits the flop, he bets the pot and i raise him all-in, thinking at worst we are splitting, at best he has AQ. he calls, flips A10s and i double up. i was happy with that result and felt good about my read. this hand made me chip leader at the table. the guy to my right, amiable kid in his mid-20s from North Carolina, told me he had "chip envy." felt good to be the king. during round 4 we move to the main tournament room and again the cards just stall. to compound problems, they fill our 3 empty seats with new players, two of which whose stacks are past my T5000 mark. trying to get a read on these guys and continue playing, i just don't see many hands to the flop. again, amateur mistake. i was playing to survive and if you do that, you will always lose. always. as if on cue, immediately after the dinner break, with the blinds at $200/$400 and $50 antes, i get my money in with the worst of it, A8s versus AQo, the board showing an A. i lose and i am crippled. i hang on for a few more hands before bowing out in the low 200s (last update to the board was 221, so while 21 people could have gone broke in that 15 or so minutes, i am guessing not.)

i call my wife, hit the airport, get raped by the TSA, drink 4 (yes, FOUR) Crown & Diets during the 40 minute flight to Houston, taxi it home where i can honestly say i was very happy to see my family. while i was semi-happy with my first ever large scale tournament experience, i was also sad that i didn't play error free poker and often i made mistakes that showed my level of skill (read: amateur.)

so what? what's the denouement to all this? give us the post-mortem.

well, first off, i have come to a few conclusions:

1) playing tournaments where the blinds increase every 10 to 15 minutes is not too valuable when you move to playing 40 minute or longer rounds. i had no practical experience, i felt timid at times and unsure of how hard to push and was out of my depth, purely b/c i didn't have anything to base my decisions on. i need to make a conscious decision: if i am going to continue playing the online plus Sunday Northside tournaments (b/c i do enjoy them), then i need to understand i am not going to be ready to travel and play real events. BUT - if my plan for the remainder of '05 is to honestly start playing big WSOP and WPT events, then i need to focus on getting real experience for that. while what i play now does do a good job of teaching counting outs, learning odds, reading players, etc, the blind structure is just not advantageous to what i played in New Orleans.

2) when i play $11+Rebuy tournaments online or $100 MTTs here in Houston, i am not playing in the same league as $500 buy-in tournaments and certainly not $1000 buy-ins. my bankroll and the fear of losing that much made me play scared. let me be clear, i am not saying i shouldn't play $1000 buy-in tournaments, what i am saying is that i need to mentally adjust to doing that. when i planned this trip, i planned on playing the $200 + $20 and the $300 + $30 events. that was it - $550 total, plus maybe some little SnGs. so by playing into the $500 + $50, i felt out of my depth, which is sad, since my wife could give a shiet about what i play in. she expected me to play in the $1000 + $60 tourney on Saturday. since i got into poker as a non-gambler, putting up that kinda dough is new for me. i need to adjust to that and i think i can. i am willing to "gamble" on poker b/c, while there is luck, there is a ton of skill involved and to me it is a far more scholastic enterprise than playing craps, roulette, or even blackjack. it is that facet that appeals to me.

well, i am tired and i want to do something other than sit in front of this computer. i am sure in the following days i will have more revelations about this experience. meanwhile, it is Memorial Day weekend, so besides being my wedding anniversary, we are packed to the gills at the shop. should make for a busy weekend. plus all my kennel help is off, starting Friday. wee!

oh yeah, one last comment: if i have the opportunity, i probably will always stay in the W Hotel: they kick ass, sea bass. and yes, the W blows House of Blues hotels out of the water.


Replies: 1 Comment

First of all, happy anniversary!

Second of all, I am in awe of the balls it took just to sign up for a tourney like that.

Third of all, I dig that may not mean much, but you are still my poker hero!!!!!

Welcome back

brokensword said @ 05/26/2005 10:41 AM CST

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