Mother’s Day weekend was a couple weeks back, and everyone in our family had a good time getting together Saturday at my brother’s place for his son’s birthday party, then on the day itself at my house for dinner and a viewing of 20 Feet From Stardom, which had a lot of music that my mom loved. Then, a week ago, last Wednesday morning, while I was at my folks’ house to do some work on their computer, she died.
Don’t know exactly why, yet; it really doesn’t matter and it’s not going to change anything.
I don’t think Mom understood my interest in poker. Our family never had any money to speak of so they weren’t exactly in the gambling demographic. Both my parents grew up poor during the war and then the “boom years” of the 1950s. My father made a lot of trips to Las Vegas for conferences during his years working with the union, and he’d put a few nickels in the slot machines, but never more than two dollars worth. We certainly never took a family vacation there (did they allow camping?) and back in the day, there really weren’t a lot of places outside Vegas to gamble.
My folks played a little pinochle back when they were in college, but Dad was never into card games. Mom, on the other hand, played solitaire. Anyway, I got her a couple of solitaire programs for her computer which were used almost to the day she died. Dad didn’t see the appeal, but I think it was the puzzle-solving element of the game that attracted her.
She was a quality-control chemist at a plant that made glue and resin for the wood-products industry, so she solved a lot of puzzles in her job, like how to affect hundreds of thousands of pounds of a chemical mixture to get it back into tolerance. She fitted flooring and tile pieces in homebuilding projects, and she made a huge number of quilts. But she didn’t gamble, and neither did Dad.
Not having gambling in my background, I never made it to Vegas myself until after I was in my mid-40s. Even then, it was to present at a conference preceding the NAB, not to play cards or anything else. The conference paid for my room at the Rio, but no idea how much time I’d be spending there in later years. I wasn’t even playing poker at that point.
When I did start playing, several years later, my interest in the game probably looked more like mid-life, career-dead guy desperation to Mom (if so, I’m hoping she was uncharacteristically wrong). Risking money goes against everything my folks taught my brother and I. I remember being aghast when my brother had us meet him and his (then) future wife at Harrah’s New Orleans as we watched them lose a couple hundred playing blackjack in ten minutes; my wife and I just drank free beer. It was one thing to invest in something, or put money into a business, as my brother has very successfully (and me, not so successfully), but gambling? That’s just crazy.
And it hasn’t exactly been easy. I’ve had a number of low-to-mid four-figure wins, but not regularly enough to make it possible to cover living expenses. If I do get a large cash sometime in the future, Mom’s not going to see that I haven’t been wasting my time and effort the past three years since I got into poker seriously.
But I was at Dad’s house to keep him company the other night and played a little no-guarantee 6-Max tournament on Bovada, getting in at 15BB and taking top place. Not a big score, but I dedicate this one to Mom.
Bovada NLHE 6-Max (T1,500)
Hand 1 7
It’s hand 1 for me, but the tournament itself has been going on for a while. I muck this baby.
Hand 9 K
Pretty standard disaster/windfall hand. UTG1 bets all but a fraction of his 1,980 chips, I go all-in, there’s a king on the river and his jacks lose.
Hand 12 6
One of those hands where slow-playing can work against you if you let the big blind in for free. UTG1 A
Hand 16 A
Open-raise to 450 and take it down.
Hand 19 A
UTG raises to 450 with J
Hand 35 K
I opened to 600 and UTG1 shoved his last 1,325 into the pot. Everyone else folded, I called, and the board ran out a very unlucky (for him) A
Hand 40 J
Standard 3x open for me and everyone folds.
Hand 41 4
A losing hand! And quelle surprise, it’s a big blind defense! Both my cards are outclassed when SB limps in holding A
Hand 43 A
I don’t usually play this here unless it’s suited, but I was still in decent shape at the table, and had position when UTG raised and UTG1 called. The flop was a pretty decent Q
Hand 44 A
I guess I was feeling frisky and raised this to 600, getting called by the blinds (both with better hands). The flop was 4
Hand 45 Q
Not one to be daunted, I raised this and took the blinds.
Hand 47 J
The power of aggression takes one. BTN limps in, I raise to 1,000, and he calls. The flop is 5
Hand 48 A
If only I’d had this the last hand. Raise and win blinds.
Hand 50 A
Raise and win.
Hand 61 Q
A couple more raise and fold hands then some action. BTN called with Q
Hand 65 J
Significant movement and a knockout. I raised to 750 and SB called with Q
Hand 67 T
UTG2 limped in and I raised to 900. He came along and the flop was K
Hand 68 A
UTG1 went all-in with just under 3,000 and I raised all-in to isolate. He showed 4
Hand 69 4
Figured if fours were working that well on the last hand, I’d raise these, but we didn’t even get to the flop.
Hand 74 Q
UTG limped in and I raised to 1,000. He called, which put us heads-up to the flop. We both checked it to the Q
Hand 75 6
We’re four-handed at the table and the first two actions fold, SB limps in and the flop is Q
Hand 76 A
Still 4-handed. BTN limps in, I raise to 1,000. and we’re HU on the 8
Hand 89 A
It’s down to three of us (seven players still in the tournament and the other table has four). Seat 1 is BTN for this hand, with less than 8BB. Seat 3 has been knocking players out and has 86BB in SB. I’m down in the middle with 45BB. SB min-raises to steal with Q
Hand 94 A
Everyone gets an ace this hand. Seat 1 has been draining away, and folds to me 1,200 opener. Seat 3 calls. The flop is 8
Hand 95 5
I defend to a SB min-raise again and get a pretty good flop of 4
Hand 102 A
It’s final table time. I’m in Seat 2. Seat 1 has 40BB and sits in second position. Seat 3 has just over 9BB; Seat 4 is at 35BB, a bit more than me; the extreme short stack from my previous table is down to 3BB before the hand in Seat 5; and the big stack from our table has 77BB in seat 6. This is the hand that makes me for the tournament. UTG1 raises to 1,199 and I call. BTN folds (a pair of eights) and it’s HU to the flop of 9
Hand 107 T
Seat 1 put more than a quarter of his stack in as a raise with K
Hand 111 T
A little tangle with the big stack, in which I manage to get off relatively lightly. I call a raise to 1,500, we get to the turn with the board reading 9
Hand 115 J
The big stack made consecutive full houses against the other two players in the game, chewing out most of Seat 4’s chips and eliminating Seat 3. I raised this hand to 1,500 and Seat 4 shoved his last 11BB in with 9
Hand 116 Q
We start HU with me having almost 70BB and Seat 6 having about 126BB. That didn’t last long. Seat 6 picks up the exact same two cards that Seat 4 had when I eliminated him the previous hand. I open to 1,500, he raises to 4,600, and I call. The flop’s Q
Hand 121 Q
With 57BB left, Seat 6’s all-in shove pre-flop seemed either really weak or really strong. I opted for vulnerable and anyway, I had the Portland Nuts (or “The Butcher”, if you prefer). And I had him covered. He had K
Two hours and twenty minutes. 121 hands. 1st of 65 entries. 1526% ROI.