I put the quotes around "celebrity" this time because I wonder exactly how famous one has to be to get on the new Bravo poker show. Ben Affleck, who's about as famous as one gets these days, was on, but so was Mo Gaffney, and I have to admit I recognized her but had no idea why she was famous. When they showed her credits and "Absolutely Fabulous" was listed it hit me. She played Marshall's incredibly overbearing new American wife, and she was very funny. I guess she's on some show on the WB too, but that hardly counts. But isn't there a certain amount of name recognition required to get on the show, a "Q" rating above 25, say?
The quality of play was much better in this week's show, though that's faint praise at best. Peter Facinelli had the series' first check-raise, and Phil Gordon nearly crowed with pride as an actual poker tactic was employed. There were some smart laydowns, particularly by eventual winner Nicole Sullivan, yet another female who would be welcome at my table at any time.
Ths was not Phil's best episode, and I'm really starting to feel for the guy. I think he got the gig in part because of his appearance on the WPT's Aruba episode, where he came across as relaxed and witty and playful, and also by his escapades as a Tiltboy
. He may be all those things (and a great player), but he's so wooden on this show that you expect a red-headed bird to alight on his shoulder and start pecking at him. It's becoming a painful routine--Kevin Pollack makes some funny remark, one of the celebs says something stupid while making a terrible play, and Phil says, "That wasn't a good play, he only has a 27% of catching his flush" like the worst sort of drudge. C'mon Phil, drink a half-dozen of those cocktails they serve in the loser lounge and say that Nicole Sullivan should have worn a see-through blouse to give her a better shot at winning. I don't want the odds, I don't want to know that re-raising on the turn is a powerful play, I want to hear Phil trash-talking and berating these people. I want to hear him say that, if he were playing Allison Janney and Emily Procter in strip poker, they'd be down to their thongs in fifteen minutes. Come on, Phil, loosen up!
My own play has tightened, to good effect. Took a few days off and came back with a vengeance. Back up over $50, doubling my money in 2 weeks on PartyPoker. Last night I ended up $13, thanks to two nut-flushes (doesn't that sound like a really tasty candy bar? Snickers, Twix, Nutflushes...maybe not). I was especially proud of two hands I had where my opponents rivered the flush to beat my top pair, and only extracted an extra buck out of me. On the first I bet, was re-raised, and I decided to give him the pot. A good move, as another player called and was shown the K-9 of diamonds. Another time the third club appeared on the river and I wasn't feeling too good about my pair of jacks, so I checked, another player checked, the third bet, and when I got out of the way the bettor showed his flush. In neither case was there a huge pot, the pot odds more or less demanded I fold, but I used to toss in my chips just to make sure, and when you're losing 3-4 bucks a session calling a guy down it starts to sting.
So I'm playing better, but getting irritated with PartyPoker. I want to play some SNG's, but they have so few tables that I can't get a seat. As soon as a new table posts I click it but I have an old computer and and a 56K connection and by the time the new table pops up all the seats are taken and the first hand is even underway. I emailed Party with my disgruntlement and they told me that they are trying to speed up the loading process but that, for the time being, I should get a faster connection. Thanks a lot. The issue really isn't the speed of my modem--there just aren't enough tables. When I get locked out I look at the listing of players at the table and there are usually 15-30 players "watching". We're the losers who want to play but couldn't get a seat, and that means Party is losing a lot of revenue because people who want to give them their money can't do so. And you don't need an MBA to know that's bad business.
I'd like to play a little more no-limit, I like the action, the adrenaline. I forget who spoke these words (Doyle Brunson? Crandall Arrington?), but limit hold-em is a science, no-limit is an art. I fancy myself more the artistic type (and my chemistry grades prove I'm no scientist). I really haven't read much about no-limit poker or tournament play, so before I drop five grand for a WPT event I'll have to study a bit.
Still, I've learned enough to place second in a SNG I actually managed to land a seat in. I started off OK, winning the second pot after betting out on the flop, and then I saw a few cheap flops but nothing too interesting. My strategy has been to sit tight, see as many flops as I can while the blinds are low, and try to build my chip stack so I can get more aggressive later on.
That's my big problem with no-limit--I'm not aggressive enough. Oh, I'll steal a blind here and there, and maybe I'll slow-play a big hand and smack someone when I have the near-nuts, but in almost every no-limit game I've played I've been the guy just hanging on, trying to get in the money, not bullying the table with my big stack. And if you're just treading water in no-limit, eventually you go under when the blinds get exhorbitant.
In this game I was up against some wild players. Two guys went all-in the very first hand, and when the cards flipped up it was AKh vs. QQ. A classic confrontation, as Phil Gordon might say during a broadcast, and when an A came on the flop and another on the turn the ladies went bye-bye.
The new chip leader did a good job of clobbering us with raises and re-raises, but the guy right after him went all-in after a check-raise and showed KK vs. QQ. The boys stood up and we had a new sheriff in town.
I started making a few moves, and knocked the short-stack out when my pocket 9s made trips on the flop. He had an open-ended straight but didn't get any help. About two hands later I had AKh and made a bet big enough to put the 2 guys after me all-in. They both
freakin' called me, and showed Q-10 offsuit and K-Q offsuit. The flop showed an ace and two hearts, and I ended up making my flush on the river.
By the time we got down to three and I was in the money I had the chip lead by about 100. We three went back and forth, back and forth, and then the guy with the short stack got bludgeoned out of a pot when his 200 raise was met by an all-in re-raise by the guy in second spot. He folded, and the next hand I put him all-in with pocket jacks. He called--with pocket 10s. Sorry, Charlie, my hooks held up.
So now it was heads-up, I had 4100, the other guy had 3900. And, I have to say, I played pretty smart. I kept him off-balance, stealing a few blinds with junk, and then I had pocket kings, slow played them, and lured him into making a 600 bet after I checked the non-threatening flop. I raised him, but he made a smart read and chucked his hand. I had him about 5K to 3K, but he won two testy hands in a row at the showdown (once with ace-high) and got himself back to 4500-3500.
Then the hand that killed me. I had Q-10d, and the flop came A-Q-4 rainbow, no diamonds. I had middle pair, and I made a 300 bet. He called. The turn was a ten. I had two pair, and this time I checked. He bet 800, I re-raised him all-in, thinking he had aces and might be able to knoch him out right there, or at least scare him out and giving me an even bigger lead.
He did have aces. Pocket aces. I couldn't believe it, I hadn't even considered to possibility, but I should have. Maybe I shouldn't have gone all-in, but I got excited at the thought of actually winning and pushed it. The river was junk and I was down to about 500 chips. I had A-4 the next hand and went all-in, and he showed 9-5 offsuit. The flop came K-9-4. Got my pair and he got one higher. I got no help the rest of the way and was toast.
It really hurts to get knocked out of a tournament, even a piddly one like this. Won $15, which helped things a bit. But...pocket aces. He slow-played me to perfection, and I ended up making a big enough hand to pay them off. Well, it happens. Just wish it hadn't happened to me.