Seminole Hard Rock Casino

Mind over matter

I am currently at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino playing its multiple rebuy tournament, referred to in the media as “Groundhog Day.” Phil played a similar tournament here last year, and came home very enthused. He loved the structure, the multimillion dollar guarantee and the incredible turnout. (This year entries totaled 1,796, the largest field size in World Poker Tour History!)

Jennifer TillyIt is immensely satisfying, (if not expensive) to immediately rebuy right after you bust out. This tournament has a relatively low buy-in of 3,500, so three bullets are approximately the same as one 10K entry. Also there are three day ones, so if you bust late in the day, the next morning it’s just like starting over.

There are several things to take into consideration when playing one of these tournaments. Number one, the multi-entry format contributes to a kind of carnival-like atmosphere. A friend of mine busted on his very first hand! The question of the day is not, “How many chips do you have?” but rather, “How many bullets are you in for?”

The first day I was in for three. The first one, admittedly, I did not play very well. I lost half my stack through inattentiveness, and then shipped it with pocket 8’s on a 9 high board.

Bullet 2: In the first 10 minutes I picked up 7K, then looked down at pocket Kings in late position. I raised, someone flatted, and then the big blind (who had a huge stack) squeezed. Joyfully I re-popped, praying for further action. I wasn’t crazy about what came next. The big blind pulled his jacket over his mouth (which seems to be a new move the kids have picked up) and pushed all in. The thought crossed my mind that he had Aces, but I figured I couldn’t be that unlucky. I was.

Bullet 3: Again, I make a late position raise with Jack, Queen, a button call, big blind along for the ride. Flop: Jack, Jack, nine, two hearts. Nice! Everybody checks to me. I busy myself making the perfect amount that will look like a “continuation bet.” Call, call.  Hmmm… Maybe…pocket pair, and some kind of draw?

Turn, a black 4. Check, check. A little worried, I bet big this time! I’ll lose the pair, but I don’t want the draw to get there. The button calls. The big blind raises, effectively putting me all in. Yuck! Now I know he has a Jack. But maybe he has a boat? I rule out pocket nines, because he probably would have reraised, preflop. It seemed like he was priced in. Most likely a jack with a worse kicker. If he had a boat on that draw heavy board, wouldn’t he want the draw to get there? I call. He has Jack, nine. Flopped it.

I quit for the day. When you are the unluckiest girl in Florida, it’s time to take a break. I get my hair blow-dried in the spa, and go for a walk in the sunshine around the beautiful grounds of the Hard Rock Hotel. Phil and I have a nice cocktail at the Center bar, and then meet his mother and her friends for a lovely dinner at the Council Oaks Steakhouse. That night, we watch a goofy movie on MTV about two guys trying to join a cheerleading squad.

The next morning, I have an epiphany. The entire day before, secure in the knowledge that there were multiple bullets, I really was not playing optimally. I was checking my Twitter, doing email, listening to music and sending out Instagrams.

I read somewhere once people who multi-task, lose the ability to do any one thing with maximum effectiveness. That was certainly true in my case. While I was searching for the right filter for my photos, I was missing the nuances of the game.

A lot of pots won in a tournament have nothing to do with cards. A poker game is all about energy and people. Noticing who raises too often, who is in a competition with another player, who is afraid to bust, who thinks they’re unlucky, who is angry about people “stealing” his blind…

These are all things you can exploit, and these are things you can miss if you use the poker table as your desk. On day 2…my fourth bullet, I was determined to stop the bleeding, and ended the day toward the top of the leaderboard, with more than three times the chip average.

Often when I am stuck, I literally say to myself as I play: “Focus, Tilly, focus!”  It seems to work. Sometimes there really is such a thing as “Mind over Matter.”

May 2014