Sunday, July 17, 2011

you got to take a little dirt to keep what you love.

Well you got your reasons
And you got your lies
And you got your manipulations
They cut me down to size.

Friday, July 8, 2011

suffocating.

the first day of play was not a good one.  i ended up at a table with mostly people who had some sort of clue what they were doing.  there were a few softer spots, and i was probably still one of the best players at the table, but it was just hard to get anything going.  i was out of position against the tougher players, and couldn't make hands against the weaker ones.  a situation that kept arising was when i would open a pot and get 3bet from a player in position, and a 4b bluff by me would commit way too much of my stack to be profitable.  as a result, i wasn't really opening a lot of pots and would have to tighten up, which hurt me because i wasn't going to get in a lot of good spots with the fish.

it also didn't help that the two fish at the table were

a) an old guy who played like 5 hands and didn't pay off anything unless he had a big hand.
b) a loose calling guy who seemed to hit every single hand he played...and still managed to only end with around double starting stack.  terrible.

the first day was also marred by the fact that i wasn't playing my absolute best.  that's what disappoints me the most, that i didn't bring my best game even after trying to prepare myself.  there is such a thing as getting too caught up in the moment, and forgetting the fundamentals, and remembering to stick to the game plan.  i was playing a bit too fancy in some spots and it ended up costing me.  though i'm still in the hunt, and the mistakes i made weren't fatal, every opportunity i have to make the best play needs to be taken if i'm to have any shot at this.

i won't go into specific hands because there's nothing that's too interesting.  during the day though, i could feel the heaviness of the moment.  there's something about playing at a table where you're not in control, you become more anxious and start forcing the issue when you need to always let the game come to you.  it's almost like being a sort of poker martial artist, using your opponents aggression and attacks against them, by adapting and creating.  i was trying to force the issue at times, and really i should be calmer, and be thinking more objectively about each situation.  it's been difficult.

day 2a is on monday.  i have around half average with 60% or so of the field remaining, hopefully i'll fare better.  i haven't made a day 3 in five years.

Monday, July 4, 2011

landed.

july 2006

my parents did not approve of my poker playing.  so my sister obliged and took me to the airport.  she might have been convinced to do so because of monetary gifts that came her way when i won my seat in an online qualifier a few days before.

"thanks, see ya later," i said as i got out of the car.

"win lots of money, bitch." she retorted.

this was my third time going to las vegas as a 21+ year old, but this time, it was with a different purpose.  in a sense, a poker tournament is essentially a glorified lottery where skill slightly alters the probability of getting your ticket picked.  win or lose, a singular event has no real significance in terms of distinguishing anything real in terms of accomplishment, except in the monetary prize that comes at the end of the journey.

the view of the vegas skyline is unlike any other city, especially at night.  instantaneously anyone can tell this is vegas, a strange city where pleasure is equated to gaudy buildings, such as an egyptian pyramid, a mock set of buildings that look like new york, a minature eiffel tower, and more.  where huge monstrous buildings are contained on mostly contained on one street, also known as "the strip".

there's plenty to think about overlooking the view while the plane is landing.  how you're going to prepare yourself for the things that await you in las vegas.  for some it's the vices the city has to offer that aren't readily available in their home towns, for others, it's the shows and entertainment (who can resist a good celine outing or a cirque show), and yet for still others, it's the conferences and conventions where their business takes them.

for me, it was something different entirely, the anticipation was preparing my mind, my body, and yes, even my soul and heart for the event that i would be playing.  this was the one shot do not miss your chance to blow that eminem was talking about.  it was time to make it count.  this was going to be a new experience for me, and i wanted to soak it all in as much as i could, and i guess subconsciously, gain from it in a way that was not merely monetary.

"hey, you a poker player?" a guy around 30 or so, asked me from the seat next to me.  i had been reading up on harrington on hold em on the plane.

"yeah."  it always felt strange kind of saying that, somehow identifying oneself as a poker player seemed very arbitrary.

"you know of any good games in vegas?  i'm gonna be playing there with a couple buddies of mine."

"actually, i'm just going down this time to play in the main event at the series."

"oh is that going on right now?  man, that's exciting.  so you're going to be playing with all those famous people huh?  are they any good?"

i laughed off some of his more sillier newbish questions.  talking to strangers sometimes is exhausting.  we chatted for a bit about the upcoming tournament and vegas, until the plane touched down.

"well, i hope you do well man, i'll be looking for you on tv!"

i thought how silly that comment was.  does he know that thousands of players play now every year, and the chances of my appearing were slim?  i let more of my ruder comments evaporate in my mind.

i shut down the various things i had been thinking about in my mind, my job, my relationships, my life post college.  for some reason, all those thoughts slip from my memory except for this one conversation with this random stranger, where the conversation wasn't anything remotely memorable.  i suppose there was something about sharing the experience of anticipation and excitement stuck with me.


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i've decided to go back to vegas this year.  although yes, i've said i retired, the main event is something that really just happens once a year, and i don't think i'd be violating any retirement clauses by playing in this event.  it's like saying to a retired basketball player who's playing a game of pick up, "wait you're playing basketball?  but you're retired!"

it's really kind of just an event that has a different character all on its own.  sure, the dramatics are somewhat artificial and overdone, but there is a quality to it that i can't exactly describe.

that's why i'm going back this time.  i still feel like i left something on the table, and i'm going back in order to retrieve it.  it's not pride, or money, or anything of that nature.  i've realized that a poker player's legacy only really goes so far, and that nowadays, a full career in gambling can sometimes span less than a decade.  it's to document and see how the experience is, now 5 years removed from when i first went.  it's almost a reunion of sorts.  hum, maybe i'll go just as often as i attend college reunions.

for me, it's an examination of the state of poker, not only as a community, and how it coexists with our culture, but for my own feelings and thoughts towards it.  i pray that i may be able to extract something useful out of the next week in vegas.