I hemmed and hawed about actually putting this story up here, but I don't really think anything bad can come of it and if so I'll just take it down so here we go....the full details of how Tuesday went down. As I said I spent Monday playing 1/2 all day in a pretty amazing game that started with three spots, then dropped to two, and eventually got back up to four or so. I won, which was swell, although I did lose an entire rack of chips during my courtesy lap, played while the main spot was racking. I was only in that game because a floor man had the foresight to put me on the board even though I never even asked him to. In short, I got super lucky. Fast forward to Tuesday....
I rolled into Commerce around 10:25am and couldn't believe my eyes. The 1/2 was already running, but it was only 6 handed, the whale was in seat 9, and seat 1 was open! I locked the seat and went to get some bullets; when I came back the last few seats were filling, with this lady trying to figure out how to steal the one hole from me (just not gonna happen). By 10:35 we were 9 handed with a half dozen names on the board, and to be perfectly frank seat 9 was the only reason to be in the game. The other 8 players were a mixture of high stakes regs (3), 40 grinders (2) taking shots, and east coast visitors (3) who are there more and more these days since Black Friday and play (good) anywhere from 60 on up. But I had the best seat, and when the live one is as live as this one, you only need one to keep a game alive. So gamble we did, and I got to run like the very wind itself once again, dragging pot after pot after pot an getting up over three racks before seat 9 ran out of money (I'm not sure how much he dusted off, but it was at least as much as I'd won, probably more).
This is where shit started to get interesting. He told us he'd be coming back, but any declaration like that is always tenuous. We played on, taking turns lobbying. Two or so players gave up their seats, unwilling to wait and spotting greener pastures in other areas of the room. I was determined to play through as long as possible, given that I had the best seat (were it not for that I definitely would have given up...Kim even asked me, twice, what on Earth I was doing staying in game...and that's saying something). Eventually the phone calls started, and it became clear that the man of the hour was having, or perhaps simply always had, some funding issues. Negotiations took place through the table captain's phone, and it was agreed that seat 9 would return with not one but two large cashier's checks and gamble would resume, post haste.
After 2.25 hours of excruciating play (during which I think I held my own and managed to lose only a little), the man of the hour returned....and immediately demanded that we kick the game up to 2/4. We played a few hands, and the table captain tried to talk him down, then to compromise on 150/300, but he wasn't having it. He was the spot, he knew he was the spot, and he was stuck $10K or whatever and he knew he could get whatever he wanted. So a dealer was called and it looked like it all might fall apart, but only one player was really objecting and then I realized that if I didn't object they'd just convert the game straight away and I'd get to keep my seat. To boot I was on the button! So when the floor called for objections there was just one lone voice and bang, I was playing 2/4. While we changed out the quarters (they play the 1/2 with a mixture of $25 and $100 chips for some reason, I'm not really sure why) to all $100s (again, why not just use $50 chips? For the record I actually really liked the two chip four chip structure, it really keeps the game moving along at an amazing clip) I had an internal dialogue regarding piecing out my action. I could probably do it easily, as I could think of quite a few people who would take small pieces and one or two who might just whole sale take half of it. But I decided, probably irrationally, to keep all of it for myself. This was my spot, I'd found it, and I was up like $13k in the last day in a half. If I just dusted all of that off, nothing was really going to change in my life. That's the whole point of having a bankroll and playing "within" it; so long as the money you could lose doesn't change your ability to play the games you want to play, you really should just take shots pretty aggressively. I was super bad about this for close to three years of my poker career, and it's just not happening anymore. So I fired away.
To be honest I don't remember a whole lot of hands from the session. I assumed my image would be "scared money" and that people might try to run me over, but that didn't really happen, probably because my image also quickly became "tight is right no set no bet" as I kept showing up with monsters. I was playing pretty snug preflop, especially given the seat I had, but truth be told my starting hand distribution was just sort of polarized. Almost everything I got dealt was a slam dunk. I folded a few hands that I'd have probably had the nerve to play at smaller stakes, but on the whole I think I did pretty well. I missed a few river value bets, but nothing horrendous. For example, I checked back AK on an ace high board after a regular in the game called two bets cold three times on the flop and turn and the flush came in. That's gotta be OK. A few other times I probably should have fired a bet, but it was thin and I was trying to keep myself in a good mental state so I didn't have to quit the game. And it worked beautifully. I took breaks when I needed to, I did the Tommy Angelo stuff, and found myself relatively OK despite the monstrous stakes. I had some stress related physical symptoms (I got a headache, my stomach tightened up, my hands shook a little), but I managed them with great aplomb.
Eventually things got pretty frantic. It became clear that the spot was going to leave soon, and a few people quit the game, either because they got even or lost interest or went broke, and the game refused to fill probably because everyone who thought about sitting had a friend in the game who warned him we were about to break. There were only two winners in the game (myself and one other guy) and everyone was loosening up drastically trying to make a run at the last of the spot's money. Obviously this is just another form of tilt, and I was surprised to see it at this level. I played the game again today (won $3000, not interesting) and saw the exact same effect, with people calling bets (either limps or raises) with hands that just have no business being in the pot. Anyway, at 7:08pm (apparently) I tweeted that Pandora had selected Bohemian Rhapsody as the next song in my daily musical voyage. That song has a special place in my heart, and for some reason every time it comes on good things seem to happen to me (or at a minimum nothing bad happens). So we played a hand...I folded it. Then I picked up kings. The spot limped in, I raised, and all six players at the table managed to see the flop for 2 bets. I paused the music and took out my headphones, because that's what I do when I'm trying to play good....
All hell breaks loose. I don't even remember the action, all I know is that I passed on both 2 and 4 betting because it was obvious (once from a telegraph, and once because it just was) the raises were going to go in anyway. I believe four of us made it to the turn, and somewhere along the way I realized that I was going against my own superstition and turned my music back on. Bang...
And this is where I sort of failed at hand reading. The guy who cold called preflop then raise/capped the flop almost certainly had to have a draw. And if he did manage to have something like QT or JT, he's going to take a free card here. So I think I'm supposed to donk into him, because if I check and he does bet, I'm probably behind, and obviously he might not bet. My hand is WAY under-repped at this point, all I've done is raise preflop then call a bunch of bets on the flop (I think 1/2/1...the first time I was literally waiting to raise a "safe" turn to try and protect my hand) and well...I check and am not really sure if I'll even raise and he bets. The SB calls, which seals the deal I have to put in the raise. Even if he showed me a flush my money isn't going in that badly, and there has to be a chance I still have him beat. So I raise and he three bets immediately. Great. The small blind calls and I call and....
A beautiful, pristine, wonderful, board pair. Somehow the small blind donks and I just raise right away and...they both fold. Pretty sick fold by the sb, I actually suspect he had ace four with the ace of hearts but I just don't know. He claimed to have the nut flush after the hand but that's just impossible to believe, given that he passed on two chances to raise the turn.
Anyway while all this madness was happening seat 9 had racked up his chips and decided to quit! We didn't play another hand (they converted the game to HT), and I stacked up what was a nearly ten thousand dollar pot. When all was said and done I realized I had over $42k in front of me. That's right...forty two thousand. I realize it'd probably bad form to even put this blog post up, and in the future I'll keep my exploits at the higher stakes games to a minimum, but this was just too much and as a first time I had to share it. I started the day with $9k in front of me and ended up with over twice as much as I spent on my car! I walked to the cage just stunned, completely stupefied. The cashier asked me, twice, if I was OK, if I needed a verification of the count, and I eventually just had to respond "No, everything is fine. I know I don't look it, but I'm very, very happy. With everything." I left all the money in my player's bank, drove home, and immediately called Pete because who else is going to listen to this sick brag better than him?
And that was that. Yesterday I played 40 pretty much all day (with a brief stint in the 60) and it was business as usual, with me loosing 3 racks, winning them all back, then losing 2.5 of them in the last 60 minutes. But today I got in at 10:30 and the game was running again and I simply couldn't resist. I didn't have nearly as good of a seat, but I played for 5 hours anyway, running at first like the very wind itself then getting punched in the gut over and over (AQ < 73o on A77-Q, KT < J7s on KT4, 99 < KJs on QT9, AA < QQ on 984sss-3r-Q, KQ < J5s on KJ3). The reason to be there was leaving soon, but to be honest I thought I was playing as well or better than most everyone in the game (there were two players not showing any signs of tilt, but everyone else was definitely letting it get to them). I decided to quit anyway probably an hour or so before the game broke, up as I said about $3000 (from a peak of over 12).
So here's the thing...I'm not really sure what all of this means. Like, it's one thing to take selective shots at a game like that, but to play in it regularly? I don't think I currently have the stomach for it, and I'm not sure if I ever will. I've spoken to several people who have said that playing really any higher than like 1/2 is just a very stressful and terrifying existence, and I can see why. At 1/2 you're going to be able to keep your losses pretty manageable. In fact setting a stop loss of like $7500 (three racks) would be completely reasonable. Honestly not much good every happens after you lose that much anyway. But at a game like 2/4 (which would always be threatening to kick up to 3/6) that's not really gonna work; the numbers are just going to get huge. And it's not like the games go regularly, so your results in them are going to simply dominate all your other results for the month (or quarter, or year). At the same time I've spoken to other people who say that playing super big is a good way to get really good. You learn to focus, you learn to pay attention, hand read...you basically figure out how to play your best, and then everything else feels easier when you play smaller. Lots of people have told me about such an effect when moving down, and I can see it already. The 40/80 I played yesterday was just...easier. But at the same time, I still probably made a couple of plays at game speed that after the fact I can easily say weren't correct. Anyway...
So what am I going to do moving forward? I honestly don't know. For the short term I plan to just pick my spots and be willing to sit in "the big one." Am I going to have trouble grinding hours in the 40, where I just lose and lose and lose and lose and lose? Maybe. Am I going to continue to list myself for 20/40 games? Probably. One thing is for sure, though....things aren't going to be the same. My perspective has changed dramatically, and I'm walking with a little bounce in my step. Booking a win of that magnitude, one that's singlehandedly larger than any downswing you've ever had, just does wonders for your confidence. And it makes you (re)realize that your day to day results in games that you're super duper comfortably rolled for simply don't matter. At the same time I've heard lots of stories of players booking wins like this and then just blowing themselves up, playing too high for too long without regard for game quality and the like. That's definitely not something I'm going to do. I hope :)
In closing....if you're reading this and feel that anything I've put up is inappropriate for any reasonable reason, please contact me directly via whatever method you can. I've pulled posts in the past because people I respect have advised me to, and it's possible that'll happen with this one, too. Thanks for reading.