Monday, June 05, 2006

For Crying Out Loud

He cracked my Aces!Is there a more formulaic, rigidly-defined category of storytelling than the bad beat story? The simplest sort of tragedy, that. The hero, a person of decent values and good standing with whom any feeling creature must readily sympathize, lives a life based on sound reasoning and prudence only to meet with undeserved misfortune perpetrated by some chaos-loving villain whose triumph can only be understood to confirm the absence of morality as a determining factor in the ordering of the universe.

In other words, the donkey sucked out.

I suppose one could argue there exist degrees of badness. The victor of the hand could have demonstrated extraordinarily poor judgment of the I’ll-just-use-this-cigarette-lighter-and-see-if-there-be- anything-in-this-here-gas-can variety. Or the stakes could be particularly vast, thereby intensifying the depth of the hero’s fall. Or the brutality could occur at a decisive juncture deep in a tournament, mere hands away from the money, or the big money, or the big big big money.

Still, the song remains the same. A loud, shrill whine to which no one particularly relishes listening.

I thought of this truth today after busting out of yet another WSOP freeroll. This one (on Party) offered 50 spots in a weekend satellite that itself yields a handsome 24 spots this summer (14 in the main event and 10 more in a $2K prelim). The freeroll was capped at 3500 entrants, and after nearly three hours I found myself clinging to life with my usual short-stack and only 150 of us remaining. I had just under 40,000 chips (about half the average stack), having battled a dozen orbits or more with no cards and one of the chip leaders playing very aggressively to my left. The blinds were up to 1500/3000 with 75 for the ante.

Finally from middle position I get dealt pocket rockets. The player to my right (UTG+2) limps in and I raise 3x to 9000. As I’d hoped, a fellow in late position decides to reraise me, strangely putting in 15000 which was about 80% of his entire stack. The table folds around to the limper who surprisingly goes all-in with his remaining 39000 (he has me covered by 5000 or so). I make an easy call, as does the late position reraiser.

What do I face with my aces? The late position reraiser has pocket nines, a reasonable holding here. The limper-raiser to my right? K5s.

Who do you think won?

The flop was a headachy 8c 9c 2s, giving the late position player a set. Still, I was way ahead of King Rag and stood to end the hand with 60k or so if things stayed where they were. But the turn brought the 7d and the river the 6d, giving the villain a straight and about 100,000 chips to donate to others somewhere down the road.

So the story (always) goes. I suppose by crying out loud this way I'm hopin’ to pick up and/or provide a crumb of that ol’ Aristotelian katharsis in the telling. In any event, all apologies.

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