Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A bout on Saturday

I shuffled around my work schedule and decided to head up to the JPPA for the Saturday evening game. I'm still not too clear on the ramifications of the point-system games they have on Saturdays, but my 25 point win from before puts me in a pretty good position right out of the gate. The real question is, how long is the race?

I tried something different and rode my bike up to Ueno - this took longer than I expected, nearly an hour, and I arrived about 30 minutes after the game began. I could have made it in 20 minutes, but I gave myself some cooldown time before I went in - the last thing most of these guys would want is a gaijin sitting next to them still radiating heat and sweat. Besides, Phil Hellmuth does it and I model my life after that guy.

As I walked in, four full tables were going, 36 entrants this week! Busy day, compared to only 14 players last week for the limit-only tournament. I took another couple minutes to visit the cramped washroom in the back and splash some cool water on my face. I didn't feel stinky.

I had been blinded down a bit but nothing major. The first hand after I sit down, I am dealt pocket queens. We're still in the limit rounds, so I raise and get two callers. An ace and a queen flop, and they must have had an ace each, since I bet to the river and they kept after me, only to muck when they saw my trip queens. Nice. If we'd been in the no-limit rounds, I probably would have busted one or both of them on my first hand. Maybe the poker gods are giving me another subtle hint about limit versus no-limit?

I didn't last very long this week, got knocked out about 24th of 36. Blinds went up pretty quickly and although everyone had similar stack sizes at our table for quite a while, when the antes kicked in I saw my M drop from a workable 9 to a scary 4 in a single "dong" from the level timer. I had to move fast, but got nothing worth playing for a couple orbits and was running out of chances. Finally I got AK of clubs and pushed, and got one caller with AT of diamonds. A King came and I doubled up, but double short stack was still pretty short. The next hand I got pocket fives, now under the gun. I considered... a 3x raise would be about 1800 chips, and I only had about 2300 at the time. Push again? Would I be more likely to get a caller if I pushed, since they may put me on a steal. I fiddled with my chips and decided on only a raise of 1200, giving me half my stack left. My fiddling was not lost on Doyle, who saw right through me and put me all-in. I called, and this time he had Big Slick. He hit and I was done.

Maybe it was a bad decision to min-raise like that, but Doyle would have called my 3.5x all-in anyhow. A worse mistake was the fiddling while trying to decide how much to bet - I broadcast that I wanted to play but had a hand I wanted to be able to get away from. I gotta watch out for that.

I sat down at the live game afterwards, but was immediately bewildered. They were playing a stud hi-lo variant, but I couldn't follow their description of the rules so I just sat out and watched to try to figure it out. Each player was dealt three cards down, discarded one, and exposed one so they had one card hidden, one exposed. Three rounds of dealing an up-card to each followed by betting (pot-limit!). Then, I believe, you had the option of discarding your fourth up-card for a replacement. Then one more down card, and bet. Then, at the very end, there was some system of palming zero, one, or two chips to determine if you wanted to play your hand, then everyone exposed their chips and if there was no showdown, the players took their bets back. I was pretty lost.

Kugatsu-san eventually took down the tournament, which was nice to see. Kugatsu is another strong, dominating player. He's a bit older than I, thin, glasses, and a somehow laid back and intense simultaneously. I've seen him raise to take down pots six times in a row at the beginning of a tournament, before someone finally played back at him. If he raises, you take it seriously - even if he's shortstacked, you fear what he can do to you.

Oddly, he complains that he rarely wins these tournaments, often getting to the bubble but not to the final tables. I have wondered how that could be, because he would scare the hell out of me if I were sitting across from him in the WSOP, but it was nice to see him take down a solid win this week.

Afterwards, we headed out to an iizakaya for a bit of late night food, drink, and conversation. Celica-san congratulated me about my win from last week, so I asked her about the point system. She explained that anyone who made 60 points during the year qualified for the WSOP (or WPT) seat tournament at the end of the year. This year's winner, awk (a very strong, regular JPPA player) apparently chose a WPT seat over the main event because he didn't want to take a full two weeks off work to attend. Pretty smart.

Second and third place also get an entry to one of the smaller buyin WSOP events. Otonn took third this year, I heard, so he's headed out to the WSOP for the $1500 NL Holdem event on July 18-19. Which kinda sucks because I'll only be in Vegas until the 14th.

Celica-san is also attending the WSOP Ladies' event, I believe, so I'll have another Japanese player to cheer for. I'd love to see her (or Saeko or Mari from Duke) bust Shannon Elizabeth's ass. They'd probably ask me later, "Who was that woman, anyhow?"

That would be sweet.

Over our late dinner it came out that the weird live game that evening was a followup to the weird live game at the Friday night Everest Cup. That night, they explained, they were playing Omaha hi-lo, but with nines wild. There was still some discussion about how to break ties in that game, by rating a hand using the 9 as wild as "impure", so that a "pure" hand would beat an identical "impure" hand. Sheesh. I'll let them work out the details - I'm not ready for a funky variant yet.

Afterwards, I rode home through deserted post-midnight Tokyo streets. The wide, well-lit streets of Ginza were empty except for late-night workers cleaning windows and doing photo shoots, and the occasional homeless person setting up camp in cardboard boxes in a handy alcove. Nightshift cops loitering in a kouban waved me down and hassled me a while about not having a light on my bike, despite my bright safety yellow sports windbreaker and the everpresent city street lighting. After they checked my foreigner registration card and confirmed that I had a proper visa and job, they grumblingly let me off with a warning. Whiteface in Tokyo - don't leave home without it.


Whaaaaa? said...

Did you sign up for the 'Stars blogger tourney.

Nine seats and a whole bunch of other stuff.

James said...

No, I haven't. Sunday 4pm EDT is like, Monday 5am here.

If it were early Sunday morning I might, but getting up that early on a work day to play a poker tourney, especially when I have been playing poorly lately, just isn't going to happen.

Hope everyone has a great time, though.