Sunday, July 08, 2007

It's all relative

So you're four-handed in a home tournament. After the lightning-fast blinds have reduced your once-powerful stack to an M of 3, the blinds go up again, and you now have enough for exactly the big blind and the small blind.
You have 10-6 os and the two big stacks at the table call.
You check and the flop misses you like you, the father of twins, miss sleeping in past 6 a.m.
(Yes, you have twins now. Congratulations! Man, these poker scenarios can get crazy sometimes, eh?)
And so what did I do when the big stacks checked?
What would you do?
• • •
I am not tired in the tired sense.
I am not exhausted.
I am, in fact, wrung out.
I feel the way Westley (played expertly by Cary Elwes, who would later give one of the worst horror movie overacting jobs of all time in "Saw") must have felt after Prince Humperdinck turned the life sucker up to 11.
I ran almost six miles today, and while it felt good, I've realized now that I am far from out of shape. That's a different feeling. I simply am just wrung out. Jayden, for instance, today dogpiled me and laughed and jumped around and probably could have done that for five hours.
I, on the other hand, could not.
It's not just the lack of sleep, although I'm sure that's part of it. It's a complete change in my lifestyle.
I am now getting up at 6 a.m., and even when Jayden was around, I would laugh at 6 a.m. Now I do not laugh. I cringe, I cry and I cower, but I do not laugh. Then I get up.
Part of me does like the fact that it's 9:45 a.m. and I've already accomplished a lot, such as giving a twin a bottle, running, playing with Jayden, changing a diaper, showering, changing a diaper and giving a twin a bottle.
Part of me does not like this fact.
The hard thing about parenting is you know this is not something you work through, like a bad streak in poker. This is every day, baby, even on the weekends.
Pray for me.
That's why these poker tournaments are So.Much.Fun.
I've become friends with a fellow Boot Camp for New Dads instructor, and in the last year he's invited me to his group poker tournaments. So I've gotten to know a lot of the players too. They're a great bunch. Plus they can all kinda play.
So when he invited me to this next game, I said no, unless I could bring the twins.
Bring 'em, he said.
We got a sitter for Jayden and Kate and I carted the girls off. I have to admit, I felt funny bringing two little babies to an adult BBQ, but they were a hit. It was like Show-and-Tell.
We had some steak, some good conversation and I sent Kate home for a couple hours with some worn-out (and a bit overstimulated) girls.
Then we played some poker
• • •
My only complaint about the poker is the fact that the blinds are 12 minutes. Now I understand why. These people are here to have fun, not win a WSOP bracelet, and generally playing one game with 60-minute blinds isn't much fun because they aren't serious poker players.
If they have a bad game, meaning if they "don't catch cards" the first time, there's always another game.
Fortunately, I flopped two pair with K,Q and then dealt myself A-A. I got two callers on my sizable raise (you'd better raise a lot with these people or else you'll get as many callers as a 2-4 limit casino game) and they folded to my bet on the turn, so I had a decent enough stack heading into the final table.
And this brings me to my point.
It's a simple strategy point, and probably one you turbo token players are familiar with.
I check/folded that hand up above when a blank on the turn hit, leaving me just enough for the small blind.
And why did I do that?
A tiny, tiny stack was two places down.
My relative M was pretty good.
In the past I have paid too much attention to my M without considering the other stack sizes at the table. I began to pay attention stack sizes and figuring out my relative Ms once I began playing these live, fast-paced tournaments with my new friends.
A relative M is how many blind postings you can survive compared to the other short stacks at the table.
You aren't going to have a lot of monster Ms when the blinds are so big, so fast and the players are decent but not that great. Generally what happens is one luckbox usually swallows most of the chips, leaving everyone else gasping for air when the blinds hit 100/200, as they do 48 minutes into live play. You won't even make it around the table once before the blinds raise, in other words.
My goal in these things is to win first, but it's to make the money second. Last night, as one luckbox began munching most of the chips, I knew it would be tough to win. But I also knew I could make the money.
So after that A-A, I played, maybe, three hands. I got nothing worth playing, and I was fine with my chip stack. I did get K,Q in early position at the final table, but I pitched it, rightly. I got a walk in the big blind once, and my only "move" was jamming on the small blind with K,10, but it was folded to me and K,10 is favored against a random hand, so it really was a good play. He folded.
So I didn't jam with my hand, given that it would have only been a bit more to call for the two huge stacks, and the tiny stack, instead of me, would have taken third, a significant jump in the prize money.
As it stood, I got 10,7 suited in the small blind, and it held against the big stack. Later my A,7 lost to a K on the river, but I got third when the tiny stack went in and lost too.
Relative Ms, I believe, are more important than your actual M when you're in a fast-paced tournament. If you can survive at least two more rounds than at least two other players, make sure you're hand is a good one before you shove.
It's a weak way to play poker. But it also is a winning one.

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