Thursday, December 4, 2008

To Turning Stone with John Blowers

My Monday trip to Turning Stone was a disaster. Slowly the poker drained me of $331 and I actually quit an hour and a half before leaving the casino. I think that is a first for me.

The pleasure of the day was redeemed however by companionship.

I rode up and back with author John Blowers

turning that boring and repetitive Thruway trek (been there ...done that.... for 38 years) into the most satisfying portion of the day.

John is lively, positive, and having a whirlwind life around the popularity of his novel and the plans for an upcoming movie and a sequel. Suddenly, he finds himself in the Texas hold Em inner circle. He has written his second article for Poker Pro magazine and has a seat at the Best Damn Poker Game along side Phil Helmuth and Annie Duke. Some of his interaction with these stars can be read in his latest Poker Pro article. This is the second article of four.

Lively and good humored, John makes an ideal traveling companion. He is having a fine time with all of the traveling and book promotion, enjoying the adventure, and yet not totally absorbed. Our stories and conversation touched on other interests as well, including his seat on the local school board.

One funny story intersected both worlds.

Attendance at school board meetings had dwindled over a few months and finally when the board looked out to see what community members might want to air concerns they saw jus one woman in the audience.

"We are happy to see you here this evening. Could you step up to the mike and tell us your concerns?"

"Well, actually," she replied, " I am just here because I am hoping at the end of the meeting to get Mr. Blowers signature on his poker novel."

It is amazing to John how much the novel has become the driving force in his schedule. But he has both the energy to keep up with all of it and pursue each thread as well as the clear solid self sense not to let it affect his down to earth attitude.

So it was a great time traveling up to Turning Stone and he also managed to keep me awake traveling home again.

And the poker was fine too, just expensive.

We both started with the $52 tournament. I rarely play, but thought it might be fun if I ended up playing John across the table, although that was not to happen. He plays in the local games at Greg's. Being tournament competitors might be a new experience.

I stayed alive. but did not have much opportunity to gather in chips. The game payed six. John was pushed out in 38th position. I managed to hold out until 16th, but with very little opportunity to capture a lead.

At the break, I was below average chips and I talked to John about what to do. He said that he thought I had just two rounds to make my move. I knew it was easy advice to take because I would be seen at my table as playing tight.

My first move was to go all in after a habitually loose player bet half his stack. I just had K-J but he believed I had more or he had nothing much, so he folded. My second move I had a pair of aces on the flop with a high kicker. I bet and again everyone folded. With the high blinds and the antes, in those two wins I had doubled up and gotten to an average chip size.

I don't remember what pushed me out. It really was a third move to get some power and not very dramatic.

I played 2-4 the rest of the day and John played no limit. He was delighted with his table and I was also delighted with mine. His started out tight, but then began to give great action, some of it from players who were bullying loose. In John's words It got "juicy".

My table was simply a no preflop raise collection of call stations, and included a woman brand new to the game. In spite of feeling quite comfortable with the competition, I just seemed to get drained with runs of bad cards. At one point I tossed an extra dollar on a small blind 2-7. By the turn I had a seven high straight. The button to my right had been betting each time and I put him on a lower straight. He had generally continued to bet any strength, so I checked my turn and it went to him. He checked giving another player a free card. The free card was another 7 and the other player held an eight for a winning hand.

John seemed to do well at his juicey table.
To get a view of the best contrast to our luck it might be good to compare two hands in which we held pocket aces.

My aces were held in middle position at this 2-4 table where it was extremely rare for there to be a preflop raise, where there were virtually no preflop reraises, and where I had played tight for an hour and a half.

A guy acting before me with pocket jacks raised. So I reraised my aces. Most folded after me, but one fellow with A-4 called those very rare shows of strength.
A four came on the flop with other rags. Jacks guy stayed. So did A-4. I bet into these two on the flop and again on the turn, but of course, A-4 caught yet another 4 on the river and bet into me when I checked my one pair and he beat me.
Imagine, staying with that hand against a tight table image guy like me who clearly rarely raised, but in this hand had reraised. Imagine calling him with two cards that ought to have been dumped at the get go.

In contrast, at the juicey no limit table, John held pocket aces against this young kid who habitually bet from $15 to $40 on every preflop.
The kid bet $30.
The flop was no ace, but king-X-X. Another player thought a good while. He has been a sensible player. Then he bet half his stack, $130 after which John pushed in his accumulated $500 with his characteristic smile. It wasn't a tell. He smiles and laughs, banters, and jokes throughout all his games (and most of his life.)

Both players called, so three of them are all=in and two turn over their cards, but John keeps his hidden.

Serious guy shows his set of kings. Loose kid has nothing I can remember. John has two outs.

The turn is one of them, a dark ace. Had it been the other dark ace, the river would have given the loose kid a spade flush. However, John gets to turn over his trip aces and that is enough to collect a huge pot.

Great drama. Greg would have loved it.

The reason I see all of this is by 11 PM I am busted and tired and just watching the no limit play. True to the character in his book, John is slow to leave. He likes this table and would have stayed until 4 AM, but I drag him out when players change and the table gets to be a conservative limp-limp table. I feel bad not to be able to keep up. I am almost tempted to try the no limit myself. But I know that I can't play this game yet. I need to watch a long while first and have a solid bankroll to be brave in the face of a bully.

Besides I have an early doctor's appointment the next day, and know that it will be 3:30 before I see my pillow. And then I have Greg's game for a good bit of Wednesday, so I need my 5 hours sleep.

Not only is my luck with pocket aces play very different from John's, but my energy also is in direct contrast. I am used to finding my pillow at about 9:30 each night. Also, I am a low roller. When we talk Vegas, John talks of comped rooms at the Venetian while I talk about the steak special at Ellis Island.

When we car pooled I left my 1999 Saturn and rode up in John's Caddy.
"Hmmmm." I remarked. " I don't know if going to a poker game in a caddy will ruin my "low roller" reputation or not.

Well, it sure was a trip to remember.

As a PS here is a nice article on publishing. Maybe I need to think beyond the Blogs.

1 comment:

Chuck_Monk said...

Sorry I couldn't make any of the games. I'm on pokerstars doing terrible. Bought in for 3K was up to 7-8k down to 500 now. Back to 2-4limit. I might get on the money games if they are any faster. These tables are slow. I play 2-3 at once. Thats how I go down fast. I am eligble to retire this month and ther's talk of an incentive. Have to see, ctbd