Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Inner Donkey

Just another day on Delilah's farm as Joni and Rick get Gus (or is it Guts?) ready for the Halloween Party.

Note for non-poker players: LAG is an acronym for loose aggressive players who play lots of hands and like to throw raises into the pot. Donkey LAGs are the loosest of the LAGs, often referred to as 'maniacs'.

Easy Eddie smiled today, and it made me cry.

Woodstied, ChessSafari and Metalmania walked into a bar. And the bartender said, “OK, who brought the maniac?” I know it’s an old joke. But sometimes I wonder if I need to get in touch with my ‘Inner Donkey LAG’.

On Saturday morning Easy Eddie (a/k/a Woodstied) and I played in a $25 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament on the Suquamish Indian Reservation in northwest Washington. I offered Eddie a $50 ‘last longer bonus’ and put $100 bounty on my own head. “Play tight,” I said. “And don’t bluff off your chips.” I was confident that the $150 incentive would encourage him to be patient. It can be distracting when two players go to a tournament together and one busts out early. My intention was minimize that possibility.

29 players entered the tournament Technically it was a re-buy event, but they allowed everyone to purchase their $5 one-time re-buy and $5 add-on at the beginning. So it played like a $35 freeze-out tournament. There were 15-minute rounds with 25/50 initial blinds and 3,000 starting chips. Five places were paid with a top prize of $380.

Midway through the second round the first player busted out. “Seat Open. Table 2, Seat 8”, I heard the dealer proclaim. The number rang a bell. As I looked up, Eddie headed for the rail. “I thought you were going to play tight,” I remarked. “I did,” he said. “I was down to my last 450 chips and got pocket queens. So I moved all-in and was called by a guy who made trips on the flop.”

“Well OK,” I responded. “But how did you get down to 450 chips to begin with? I’ve played my blinds twice and still have 2,800. Oh, never mind. Tough break. We can discuss it later if you want.”

The bottom line is that we both won the same prize: zero. I hung around waiting for a big hand while getting blinded down to about 1,100 chips. Toward the end of the fifth round I decided to make a move. Either I had to get lucky soon or go home. A short stack with about 500 chips (200/400 blinds) pushed with pocket tens. I was on the button with AQ of spades. Everyone folded to me so I re-raised all-in to isolate the raiser. The big blind called with AK. What I thought would be a coin flip was now a 3 to 1 losing proposition.

The flop was J-9-8 with one spade. It gave me a few additional outs but took away my live queen. There was not much hope since two of my potential straight cards were in my opponent’s hand. My chances of survival were now 9 to 1 against. The turn was a 3 of spades, improving my chances to 24% with one card to come. The river brought another nine sending me to the rail in 12th place.

After that, Eddie and I played in a $4/$8 ring game for about an hour. He grabbed seat 5 and I sat next to the dealer in seat 9. Easy Eddie wanted to get his money’s worth and did so by raising with virtually any two cards pre-flop and pushing his hands hard to the river. He picked up a couple of nice pots early as people folded to his apparent strength. They soon caught on and pushed back, but Eddie refused to change gears. So I tried to stay out of the hands he was in.

At one point I made Broadway on the river with AK and won a monster pot. Six players had called my pre-flop raise. I had the odds to chase the whole way and got paid off. A few hands later I was dealt pocket kings in early position. I raised and Eddie made a cold call from the button. The two blinds assessed their odds as sufficient to remain in the hand. I assumed that one of them was holding an ace.

The flop came A-K-4 hitting my set and encouraging an ace to play on. Small blind (who I know to be a rock) bet. I raised and Eddie re-raised. The rock and I called. The turn was a six putting two clubs and two diamonds on the board, with $68 in the pot.

Now things got hairy. The rock checked, I bet, Eddie made it $16 to go, the rock called, and I re-raised to $24. Eyebrows lifted around the table. Most of the players in the game had seen me before and generally respected my play. All they knew about Eddie, however, was that he came with me. I could sense them wondering whether this could be a whipsaw ploy by two friends to drive everyone out of the hand. This is a known and universally despised tactic commonly found in Internet cash games.

My thoughts flashed back to the movie Sting and then quickly to the brawl scene in Rounders. In all honesty, making a graceful exit was more important to me than accumulating chips. “Maybe Eddie has aces!” I thought to myself. That would be poetic justice (and a lucky break) about now. Eddie and the rock called, sweetening the pot to $140.

The river was the six of diamonds completing my full boat. It also gave the rock an apparent flush as he led out with a bet. I raised and Eddie re-raised. The rock folded (mumbling under his breath that his non-nut flush was probably toast). I re-raised again and Eddie folded, allowing me to take down the pot.

I rarely show my cards when I’m not required to do so. But this was one time I found it absolutely necessary. I said “nice lay down” and flipped over my two kings. The table breathed a collective sigh of relief…me included. “I knew you had it,” Eddie said glibly.

On the next hand I was dealt pocket nines. Taking a deep breath I calmly whispered, “raise”. Eddie, now in the small blind, called. I’m not even sure he looked at his hand. Rock called for one bet from the big blind. The flop was J-6-4 rainbow. The blinds checked. I bet $4 and they both called. The turn was an eight. All three of us checked. There was no way I was going to get into another raising war with Easy Eddie. The river brought a deuce. Eddie checked, Rock bet and I called. Eddie raised and Rock called. Sensing defeat at the hands of one or more jacks, I folded.

Eddie turned over 4-3 offsuit (!). He had hung around with bottom pair on the flop. Rock showed A-6 to win the pot. “Dammit Eddie, you pushed me off the best hand,” I said. “You know how I play,” was his response. “Nice hand,” I said to winner. Everyone at the table smiled. Eddie smiled too. It was the first time I had seen him smile since he got off the plane two nights earlier. My anger melted away and a few tears came to my eyes.

“Chris, please bring me three racks,” I shouted to the floor. I racked my chips and we headed home. Together we made a small profit for the day. And we each made a new friend.

Later that night I checked the PSO Forums to find that Eddie had posted the following message (Edited slightly for form at Ed’s request. The content remains unchanged.):

“Yes I did arrive safely. Frank has been wonderful. He has seen that any need I may have has been met. On meeting me at the airport he took me to the hotel, which he had pre-reserved for me. Once there he gave me pocket money so that I would have anything I needed. He has been really super in this and I have cried at times because I feel so wonderful about what he is doing for me.

Tomorrow we get on Amtrak to go all the way back to Albany NY to have Thanksgiving dinner at a retreat he likes to go to there. I am really looking forward to it.

Today we played in a live tournament on the outskirts of Seattle. I went out rather quickly when my large pocket pair was beaten by someone who tripped on the flop. We then got into a four/eight ring game. I dropped a hundred Frank gave me to play with. He got it all back plus forty dollars more. So we had a great time rather cheaply.

I think we may be going to Turning Stone or Foxwoods while in New York. It is great to be around Frank as he is so much fun to be around, in general, and you can learn so much just talking to him. And yes, Frank, I know you are going to be reading this. LOL.

But for real he has treated me quite royally ever since I have been near him. I am looking forward to playing poker with him online on the train to learn more. He is encouraging me to take Hazy’s course. I know it is good and I am looking forward to improving my play.

If you want to follow the adventure, it is going to be on Frank’s blog: http://www.twchesssafari.blogspot.com .
It will be updated all this week when we can get Internet access.

Keep in touch now. It is nice to hear from family and friends. And here at school I am with my family and friends.

Ed (Woodstied on PSO)”

Easy Eddie cried today. And it made me smile.

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