Fascinating - I was just so calm until a few minutes ago as we had breakfast and finished watching an on-demand movie we fell asleep to last night. But as soon as it was time to shower and get ready to head over to the Rio the adrenaline started coursing through my body. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. Do the top players with so called "ice in their veins" feel nothing or do they have the same energy and use it for focus? I think it must be harder for the recreational players like me that only play a big tournament like this once a year. Even though this is the biggest many of the professional players are playing other big tournaments regularly.
I really wanted to write up some of the hands from Thursday on my day off yesterday but couldn't find the energy. But I just finally figured realized the pattern - I hate writing normally but when I feel this nervous energy ALL I WANT TO DO IS WRITE. I guess its because I want to preserve the feeling like a picture. After all the last place I want to be in the middle of July each year is in the middle of a desert. Jody laughs when I suggest that "maybe we won't go this year - if we're going to enjoy a summer break it should be at the beach". And I know when we're planning for it that I'll love it when I get here but I can never really remember why. When I read my writings from previous years I get a general sense of it so I'm glad I captured it but now I realize that the writing is only a vague grainy picture - when I'm in the middle of it as I am right now the feelings are just so vivid and I can't imagine why I wouldn't think I want to do this every year.
I guess the energy is thrill seeking. When you think about how exciting it might be to go deep - and sharing the excitement and terror with friends and family that might fly out to experience it and then recognize that many times during the day you'll be facing decisions that can bring that fantasy one step closer or slam the door shut - it's that sweet terror which creates the adrenaline. When I went all-in with AceKing - which was a pretty standard play at the time - I knew that there was say a 50% chance the reraiser would just fold right then and I would pick up about 5k in chips but if he did call he would likely have a hand like he did (a medium pair - his reraise was a bit too small to be Aces or Kings) that we would in essence be flipping a coin for the pot - which is why it was the right decision (75% chance of winning the pot - 50% of the time he folds and 25% of the time I win when he calls- and I was starting to get a little low in chips) and as much as I hate gambling and would rather build up my stack without putting my tournament life at risk I knew it was the correct play And when my hands tossed in the chips and he called I felt that in less than 30 seconds it might be all over and when the Ace came on the flop and the turn and river were safe and I was suddenly back with a good size stack of 28k and I yelled out to Jody at the rail that we had doubled up and then it hit me - how did I come to lose my composure by yelling out to Jody rather than play the stoic ice in the water veins character playing perfect poker? I knew I was still somewhat tired from not being able to sleep the night before but I guess I was more on edge than I thought. And I started to apologize to my opponent for celebrating his loss but he was already involved in the next hand and wouldn't you know it he had completely lost his composure for losing the coin flip and had all his chips in the middle for no good reason on the very next hand and he was gone before I could talk to him. Amazing - he was the fourth guy bounced from our table all but one of them had lost on a stupid play because they cracked under pressure and just wanted to either end it right there or double up with a weak hand to make the pain disappear. I pride myself on mostly being able to maintain my composure when I get a run of bad luck or am sitting with a short stack resisting the urge to get involved in a marginal situation. In fact I'll even walk away from the table for a few hands if I recognize that dangerous feeling. I guess I still have to work on dealing with WINNING a big pot.
Other than the double up my luck was mostly bad yesterday - I didn't connect with any flops - and when I finally hit a flop BIG (AQ5 on the flop when I had raised on the button with A5) my opponent in the big blind had the bigger two pair AQ - a very unlikely situation. And in two other pots my opponents caught up on the river (on one of them with only 1 of 5 cards that could have helped him and one of them with only 1 of 2 cards) - the first one lost me 8K in the first round which put me at a disadvantage for most of the afternoon. I don't think I have time to discuss the key hands in detail. What I can say is that I was a bit schizophrenic. In my first years playing the tournament I had very little experience playing no-limit since most non-tournament games in the casinos were fixed limit - where you can only bet fixed amounts and therefore no single hand can hurt you very much. In those first years at the world series I played very conservatively because I didn't have much experience playing hands out. Now most of the games in the casinos are no limit and everyone has more experience and I found myself playing hands (correctly so) that I might not have played in past years. And in one of them in particular I was facing a big bet on the river of 7k (with 22k left in my stack after I had already committed 5k to the pot about 20 minutes after I had doubled up with the AceKing) and I figured out that there was probably a 2 out of 3 chance that my opponent was bluffing based on the play of the hand and the size of his bet but there was also say a chance that he was "bluffing with the best hand" thinking that I had a pair of aces and that he could drive me off my hand with a big bet even though he only had a pair of kings or maybe a pair of aces with a very weak kicker (I had a pair of queens) - but still I thought it was more likely still that he had missed his flush - but even though I played the pot that in previous years I might not have played because my experience gave me the confidence to gent involved because I had an edge in the hand - I couldn-t find the courage to make the "hero call" that could have vaulted me to 40k because quite frankly I was not ready to be knocked back down to 15k and there was that part of me that thought that even I was pretty confident he was bluffing in his mind because he thought I had the Ace he might actually have the better hand than my pair of queens. In a live cash game I make the call all day long because I only need to be right less than 1 in 3 times for it to be a correct gamble (getting paid 17.5k - 10k in the pot plus his 7.5 k bet with a 7.5 k wager) but the pressure of the tournament and the fear of emotionally handling getting knocked back to 15k (I admit it) kept me from making the hero call. In retrospect I think it's the right play because I live to see a less marginal situation but I'm still not sure.
Well its time to go. I actually got a great night of sleep last night and had a good run this morning and am feeling much better than I felt on Thursday. I am not very low in chips yet and I actually have more chips than I had after day 1 last year when I ended up with over 70k on day two. Writing this has helped me calm my nerves and although I realize that I'm not yet at the top of my game because I haven't played a lot of tournaments this year I feel like I'm getting closer to it as the play of the hands on Thursday is quickly jogging my poker memory to life.