After a layoff of over a week I rolled in to the Oaks Club tonight feeling great mentally and physically. I spent the weekend in a house near the Russian River with my family and a few close friends. After many hours of slowly floating around the river over the weekend and a 20 minute nap on my lunch break today I was fresh and ready to go.
I got called almost immediately for a seat in the $15/$30 and by the time I'd played 10 hands I was ahead $400. Hot Damn! Sometimes this shit is easy. You get pocket kings, bet the whole way, people call you, and no body makes anything better than one pair. But over the next hour I dribbled most of it back.
Meanwhile I had my eye on the $30/$60 game the next table over. I've been a little conflicted about moving up. The whole point of Project Flying Panther is to play bigger games, but I've been doing so well at $15/$30 that part of me wants to keep pounding away at those players while I have the momentum.
After 15 minutes of hemming and hawing I racked up my 220, $5 yellow chips and traded them in for 110 $10 green chips. I dropped 9 $100 bills on the pile and I was all set to go with $2,000 in front of me.
On the second hand I got dealt QJ of diamonds. Immediately I felt the adrenaline and not the "Get some! Let's do this!" type of adrenaline either. It was the "Oh fuck, how much am I going to have to put in the pot if I lose this hand?" type. The answer to that question was $210 - I raised before the flop, got 5 callers, flopped a queen and lost to a straight on the river. Sometimes this shit ain't easy.
The last time I played $30/$60 at the Oaks was in 2009 when I was at my absolute peak as a limit hold'em player. I remember sitting down, feeling totally comfortable and smugly declaring to myself how awesome it was to be the best player in the biggest game at the Oaks. I would never have claimed to be the best player that plays at the Oaks, only that that day I looked at the 9 guys at the table and saw 9 players that I was sure were not as good as me. The stakes didn't register as much then either as I'd been playing $50/$100 6 handed against some real ball busters online - in fact sometimes it was a $50/$100 game, a $30/$60 and two $15/$30 games all going at once so one $30/$60 seemed like nothing.
Fast forward to today a few hands after my QJ hand and I looked down at AA. Boom, more adrenaline and my heart started racing. I totally expected this. It's how you feel when you move up and get a big hand. I also knew for certain that after maybe 45 minutes or an hour I'd settle in and feel comfortable. And that's exactly what happened. But for this hand I was still in the irrational fear zone.
An early position player raised to $60, I made it $90 with my AA, the big blind called and we took the flop 3 way. The board came out 9 6 4 with two hearts and one spade. After two checks, I bet and got two calls. The turn came a 7 of spades and the original raiser bet into me. A bet like that is representing some improvement on the turn or a slow played big hand
At this point the initial jolt I got when I first looked at my hand had not cleared. My body was still in fight or flight mode and when my opponent bet into me, my body dropped a shitload of chemicals into my system. On fear scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being taking a dump while reading Garfield and 10 being having a grizzly bear outside your tent when you've just rubbed a salmon all over your body, I was at about an 8. I'm not saying it makes sense to feel that way, just that part of my brain was going absolutely apeshit.
But the good news is, this has happened to me many, many times and the other part of my brain took about 1/2 of a second to come to the conclusion that my opponent was much more likely to betting a hand that could beat AK or AQ - but not AA - in the hopes that I had big cards. That part of my brain was still in control and with all the calm I could muster, I slid 12 chips in the pot. The big blind folded, the original raiser called my raise, check called the river and I took down a pot that got me back in the black.
The next two hours were super boring. I got a lot of shitty cards, won just enough small pots to stay even and tried to get a feel for my opponents. The game got a little worse as two weak players were replaced with solid ones. I decided it was time to go after one more round. Happily I beat out an unknown hand with 99 at showdown and took down QQ with QT after I turned a straight.
In the end I booked a $117 win at $15/$30 and a $468 win at $30/$60 - both small wins for the stakes, but still some nice money away from the table.. My $10,000 starting bankroll is now at $13,216.
Another mini vacation will put Project Flying Panther on hold over the holiday weekend, but I should be back in action on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday depending on how I feel.