Saturday's weather reminded me a lot of my college Spanish textbook--"Sol y Viento"--where the beautiful Mexican sun was interrupted by loud gusts of wind. I even resorted to playing with headphones, because a super windy day on the top level of a high-rise up made me feel like Dorothy before she wound up somewhere over the rainbow!
Toward the end of my session, my Internet--that's been perfect for the last few months--began to lag. Luckily, I ended the session before it cut out entirely. But with no Internet or phone line at midnight, I thought it likely that my Sunday session was going to consist more of making chicken soup and wrapping Christmas presents than of my usual 200+ games.
Lo and behold, when I woke up on Sunday morning the sol had beaten the viento in their heads-up battle, and the Internet was back to perfect!
Since I'd been experiencing a bit of a downswing since my Hot $55 score, I decided to mostly stick to the lower variance formats that I play, so after putting up American Author's "I'm a Believer," I decided to load:
-180-Mans ($3.50 Rebuy, $8 Turbo, $11 Progressive Knock Out, $15 Turbo, and $35 Turbo)
-45-Mans ($15 Turbo, $7 Turbo)
-27-Mans ($15, $7)
-Women's Sunday ($55, and a lot of the satellites for it as well)
-Sunday Storm (This week it had a $1 Million Guarantee!)
-Sunday Million (My shot of the week that I always buy in to by using my FPPs in the VIP store.)
Soon, I was grinding to "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire and sipping on my delicious morning cup of Mexican coffee. Apparently, the brew smelled so amazing that my cat that Mr. Ed wanted to get his morning caffeine fix as well. He jumped up onto my desk and knocked over my Christmas tree, which hurled tiny ornaments in all directions--like glittering snowflakes in a blizzard. I spilled coffee on my white sweatpants and simultaneously had my worst hotkey missclick of the day:
If I'd gotten called for my 100+ big blind shove and spiked a ten, perhaps there would have been a little pot of catnip under the tree this year for Mr. Ed; instead, he'll be lucky if I omit a little lump of coal from his stocking!
About an hour and a half in, my first final tables (in MTTSNGs) appeared, with their pretty spotlights. I love the fact that final tables look different, not only because it more easily alerts me to the fact that it's a final table, but also because I think it increases others' desire to make it there. In a 45-man, seven spots are paid, but often, players over-tighten on the final table bubble even though ninth place doesn't pay.
Then, an interesting hand surfaced in the Sunday Million. We were about 25 hands in, and I had yet to play a single one! Villain looked loose-aggressive after a limited sample.
While this was very far from a dream flop, I prefered c-betting with the plan of folding to a raise because I don't like giving up the lead by check/calling, and check/folding has me often folding the best hand.
The turn was aptly named in this hand because it's a very interesting twist of a card. On the surface (and especially with the convenience of watching it on a boom replayer), it might look a bit like a Hood Flat (a call when the player clearly doesn't have the odds to continue but opts to anyway). Certainly, there are a lot of cards I would have check/folded there; a non-heart eight would be one of them. If the player bet significantly more than the sub half-pot bet, I would have folded as well. But there, I think I had the equity I needed in the hand to continue.
In one of those amazing moments of poker glory, the river brought in the nuts for me. This was a prime example of a time to overbet shove. If he was bluffing, he was unlikely to call a smaller bet or bluff-raise me on that board. The important thing is to get the maximum value when he does actually have it, and almost assuredly get a call from Ah, the less likely 7h, and Kh. In fact, he had both the Ah and 7h, and it was one of the deepest-stacked straight flush over straight flush hands that I've ever played.
Despite my luck in that hand, my second biggest MTT of the day, the Women's $55 Sunday, wasn't off to a great start.
Since I write every month for PokerStars Women, I've been asked a few times if I am a bounty in this tournament, and was once actually a bounty in it, I think some players might be under the misimpression that I do have a bounty. Because of that, I often take exploitive lines in this tournament.
I didn't expect my opponent to have too many TX hands in her range after calling the three-bet preflop. However, I liked checking the turn to make worse hands think they're likely good or let them bluff. Mainly this includes kings, queens, jacks; though likely, if my opponent held kings, we would have gotten it in pre-flop. In case the player has a straight draw or gutshot, it is a lot easier for her to bluff if I check the turn instead of bluff-raising my bet. Also, full houses are certainly possible (as is the ten my opponent actually showed down with).
Unfortunately, the glory of my early straight flush in the Sunday Million fizzled out like a glass of champagne left out on New Year's Eve. I busted before reaching the money, which was true of the other few MTTs I played as well. In one sense, it is disheartening when I bust my last MTT of the day, and I know that it will not be a day when I top my biggest online score. But in another sense, it motivates me to work harder at not missing spots at the bottom of my range in my lower-variance games.
Fortunately, on the MTTSNG front, things were beginning to look a lot like Christmas with a lot of final tables popping up. After winning this hand in a $35 180-man, I headed to the final table as one of the biggest stacks.
Unfortunately, I lost AK to A7 to go out in fifth, which seemed to be the most recurring story of the day. Well, except for Mr. Ed jumping on my desk over and over! He didn't leave me in peace until I finished my session!
When I load my last tournament of a session, I look at the balance in my cashier. Without having looked at it since before my session began, I always have a decent estimate of where I stand for the day in terms of profit. But I look to try to shift my focus from the figure I need to be up for the day to just finishing with more than I have in there at that moment. Thinking of yourself as "even" can be a very positive morale booster to close out the session strong.
But for the realists out there, Santa would have reported that I was down about $700 at that point, excluding the equity I had in my remaining tournaments.
Soon, I won a 180-man, and my last few tournaments were all final tables. Considering that I made a lot of 180-man final tables, odds-makers would have expected me to have a much more profitable day than I did. In total, I played around 220 tournaments and was up a bit over tree-fiddy ($350).
Of course, it wasn't the Christmas miracle I hoped for, but it also didn't amount to just viento caliente.
I finished my session just in time to enjoy the lingering puesta del sol.
As I stared at the glorious plumes of hot pink, I reflected on my best year as a poker pro yet and how I have so much to be grateful for. Then I started dreaming about my Anatomy column for 2014, when I hope to have a "Somewhere over the Rainbow" post down the yellow brick road!