I owe Katie big time.

Katie and I hadn’t hung out for a while, so we decided to try a new free NL Hold’em tourney circuit.  There are several of these in the Washington area now, all focused in bars.  On a good night they play two tournaments with 15 minute levels starting at 25-50 with 2,600 in chips.  So it’s pretty deep stacked for the first hour.

Katie and I arrived last Saturday at the spot, and frankly it looked closed.  It was a closed restaurant with a side stairway suspiciously open.  We went upstairs and ran into: 1) a guy mopping the floor, though the place still smelled like spilled beer, 2) a 30-ish bartender who wasn’t really awake or thrilled about serving us drinks, 3) a DJ, and 4) a couple of poker tables and some guys milling around.

#4 turned out to be an event producer that’s got a partnership with the bar to occupy this space 5 or 6 nights a week.  The awful DJ was his problem as well.

We played a goofy no stakes game because the 10 of us around the table were such degenerate gamblers.  I would say that all but 2 of them (plus Katie and I) were really just instinctual players.  As a result their mood wildly affected how they played because they had no math to fall back on.  Katie and I were real wild cards since they all played together several nights a week and knew each others styles, but we were mysteries.  We made that worse by playing pretty tight and showing down almost nothing.

I got whittled away when I called raises that never hit (a bad habit of mine) until I saw a flop with Ace-diamonds-four-clubs.  Five of us saw the flop of Queen clubs-Three diamonds-Five diamonds.  The pot sat at 500 and someone bet out 100 and we all called.  The pot is now 1,000 and my stack is about 900. 

On the turn comes the four of diamonds.  I’m first to act and notice the whole table recoil and several players pick up their cards to fold.  I quickly go all-in with what should be a pretty ballsy bluff.  Quickly at first, and slowly at the last, each player folds their hand and I rake a sizable pot.

I continue amassing chips until I get into a hand with Katie where I’m holding Ace-Five.  She goes all in and I call her and hit my wheel runner-runner, putting her out.  This has become a bad habit, and I’ve put her out of several tournaments now, one on the bubble, and I’m sure she’s keeping track.

We finally get heads up and I take the chip lead.  My opponent hasn’t slept in 36 hours after driving straight back from AC after the midnight tourney at the Taj, and clearly hasn’t played much heads up.  I come out of my shell and just start raising everything on the button until I have him outchipped 3 to 2.  I then proceed to bluff off all of my chips with crap hands and come in second, which wins me a 128MB MP3 player that I give to Sarah.

I played only half a skilled heads up game, and I hope to not repeat that poor performance next time.