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Monday, March 13, 2006

Loving Full Tilt, Hating March, and Drinking Too Much
Bit of a rambling post today, please bear with me. There is Actual Poker Content toward the end.

Without getting off on too much of a tangent or sounding too much like Tom Cruise, I will say that I am ambivalent about psychoanalysis. One the one hand, I think a lot of it is BS, on the other hand, it seems to help some people. I mention this because I think I have a mild form of season affective disorder, but I really hate that term. First, I don't like giving a clinical name to the basic human frailty of being bummed out by lack of sunlight. Second, I think it is more a personality trait than a disorder. Finally, I hate the damn cutesy acronym. But everyone knows what I mean by "seasonal affective disorder," so there it is.

Anyhooo, every winter I go through a few bouts of depression. They usually happen in January or February, and I thought I'd escaped relatively unscathed this year. But looking at my post from last week I can see that it was starting. I'd been getting pretty down about some aspects of my job the week before that. Then this week I just felt totally drained, and it's been overcast and muddy lately. My bad mood culminated this Saturday morning with a fight with Mrs. Cheap Thrills that was all my fault. The fight made me more depressed, then I added alcohol to the equation, and my Sunday has been exactly like the one Johnny Cash sings about in "Sunday Morning Coming Down."

I mention all this not because I want to bare my soul -- on the contrary, I am embarassed about the whole thing, and in general I have always intended this to be a poker blog and not a diary. I mention it because in my Saturday night stupor I played some interesting poker.

I think I posted once, way back in late 2004, that for a while I had a big sticky note at the top of my monitor that said "No Drinking + Poker," by which I meant no playing online poker while drunk. At the home games and the casino I have no problem playing reasonably well while under the influence, but in front of the computer my attention just wanders. I started playing online in April 2003, and for the whole first year or so I had a cycle where I'd grind out a few hundred playing at .50/$1, playing for an hour or so every night, then once every month or so I would come home from an evening of drinking and being merry, and foolishly decide to play some poker. Often I'd step it up in limits, and usually I would lose a good portion of the bankroll I'd built up. So after a while I developed the "No Drinking + Online Poker" rule.

But the rule always struck me as overly strict. After all, poker and booze go so well together! ;-) There must be some way to enjoy a bit of online poker after an evening at the bars or wherever, without being a total idiot about it. So I started allowing myself to play microlimits -- but it was too hard to resist the urge to step it up and play for "real" money. And then it hit me: tournaments. They have a built-in loss limit.

I've blogged before that I don't generally care for tournament poker. Mainly, tournament chips just don't seem like real money to me, so tournament poker doesn't feel like real poker. I just don't get the same feeling of excitement about each hand. Also, I don't generally like the idea of playing for a long time just to get to a final table with other better-than-average players, when I can sit down at countless cash games where I know I have an edge. And I hate busting out!

But I like to take my shots now and then. And since I don't let myself play online cash games when I've been drinking, I often play tournaments a bit tipsy. Last night I was downright sloshed.

All my money these days is at Paradise and Full Tilt. I love that Full Tilt has Razz, and I love that they have H.O.R.S.E. tourneys. So I played in a 7-Card Stud Hi-Lo sit-n-go at Paradise, and took third. Then I played in a NL Hold'em tournament at Paradise and went out on my first hand. I have AKs and make a 4x big bet raise, a guy shoves all-in at me, I call, he has KK, I feel like an idiot but I think I'd do it again. Perhaps I have taken this article too much to heart.

Then I popped over to Full Tilt for the "main event" of my all-nighter: a $10 H.O.R.S.E. tourney. I really love Stud and Razz, so I feel like I have more of an edge in these things than I do in hold'em events. However, I am an omatard. Omaha was a regular staple at my home game in Providence, and I was a consistent loser at it. So in the H.O.R.S.E. tourneys I just play super-tight in the Omaha rounds. B insists that I need to work on this.

I ended up finishing 10th out of 111, for a whopping $12 profit. But the fun part was that Layne Flack was at my table for much of the tourney. Andy Bloch was also in the tournament, and while I was never at his table, I finished ahead of him :-)

I got out to an early lead and was the chip leader at one point. I have a screen shot of that but I'll spare you. I will, however, share a screen shot of virtual Layne Flack on my virtual left:

In the hand pictured, Layne hit a set of 4s on the turn. Doh!

Drunk as I was, I found it incredibly amusing that I was seated next to Layne Flack who, before he got on the wagon, was known for playing even better drunk than he did sober. In the tourney he was very loose and aggressive and it worked well for him. I think I actually learned a bit.

The painful thing was this tourney started at 3am, and I didn't get to bed until after 6. I can't be doing stuff like that to myself! Damn winter.

OK, hope I didn't come off in this post as too much of a depressed drunken fish. I was that for much of this weekend, but usually I am not, I swear!

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