Montreal, Medication, and Poker Machines

I’m sitting in the Montreal Airport. As I leave to see family and friends in Toronto, I’m reflecting back on the trip that was, and the trip that could have been.

The tournament was much larger than anyone anticipated. They were prepared for about 600 players to play, spread over two starting days and combining into a field on the third (if you lost your chips on the first starting day, you could try again on the second). Instead, they were filled to their capacity of 500 on both starting days, and had almost 200 alternates waiting in the wings to fill seats on Saturday after they were vacated. It was the largest ever tournament in Canada with a buy-in over $1000.

After exiting early on the first day 1, I went home and played a little online. I scored a nice little win and came 3rd in a tournament that a good friend of mine won, so I was already in the black for the trip when I sat down for my mulligan on Day 1B.

I had quite a lot of chips midway through day 1 of the WPT. I had amassed seven times the amount of chips we started with, in fact, which would have easily placed me among the leaders going into day 2. Due to the huge field, though, we were forced to play four hours more than expected. My focus broke down and I entered day 2 in the middle of the pack, instead.

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I’m not used to playing live poker. I don’t do it often, and there’s many more pieces of information to focus on. When I play on a computer, I can zone out a little. Information like chip stacks, pot size, and bet size is all readily and immediately available, and information like body language and table talk is non-existent. I’ve also played hundreds of hands against opponents that I see every day when I play online. When I play live, I usually have to start from scratch, which means watching every hand like a hawk. The less information you have, the more every piece becomes valuable.

It takes it’s toll to keep my focus for that long, especially while trying to keep myself as neutral as possible to avoid giving any of these pieces of information away to my opponents. I don’t have the endurance for it like I do for playing online, in part because it doesn’t come as naturally to me.

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I busted early on the third day of the tournament. I returned to my makeshift home and, with nothing in particular to do that day, I did what I always do on Sundays: played online poker.

I didn’t fire up a lot of tournaments, partly because the day was half over and partly because I had limited screen space with no monitor. I ended up making it to the late stages of one or two tournaments, and amassed a good chip stack in one of those. I’ll spare you the cliffhanger: around 2 am in Montreal, I won a 1700 person tournament. I cracked a book I was re-reading. I had too much energy to sleep.

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I’m writing this in retrospect now. I had much more written before but my computer has kicked the bucket. The book I was re-reading was a tour de force by my favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut’s “Breakfast of Champions.” I won’t slobber over it too much, but if you’re a fan of satire, or meta-media, read it, now. Like, right now. My blog will be here when you get back.

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Hey! No cheating. You’re not done reading it yet.

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No, seriously, fuck you. I’m not finishing this blog until next week. Hope you enjoy Breakfast of Champions in the meantime.

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