Delik James' Chronicles

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Bubble Trouble

Ah, the dreaded bubble; my arch nemesis.

I had a good relationship with bubbles for the majority of my life - blowing and popping them off pets and younger siblings was always a joy. Then there's bubble-wrap, a great way to fill useless minutes of the day, who could resist? Presently, however - I hate bubbles. This is primarily due to the anxiety and regret they fill me with after a sub-par showing at a tourney. What could be more painful than working hard, making great reads, solid lay downs and pulling a little luck out of your ass just when you need it - only to bust out as the first place loser. Ouch.

Sometimes it's necessary to focus my late tournament play primarily on missing the bubble - and rightfully so! Poker is all about decision-making, and when the bubble is lerking, those decisions must be even more thought out.

I've folded pocked Aces just one time in my life and it was because of bad positioning and a mean bubble threat. Here's how it went down...

Late into a tourney, with 10 people left (only the final table of nine getting paid), I was dealt pocket Aces in early position. I opened with a raise (3 times the blind) that I hoped would isolate one or two players so I could build my stack with their chips just before the final table. Well, I isolated two players alright...most folded, but one player (let's call Player A) re-raised and the button (let's call Player B) pushed all in.

Not good news for me; Player B had me covered and from where I was sitting Player A looked like he did too - by atleast a few chips. Now, normally I would call without too much concern, after all - I am sure I have the best hand currently. But with only my initial raise committed - I had to bet my life on these two tiny aces. Not only could I suffer a bad beat, but I would be the bubble boy if they didn't hold out.

"Pick your battles," I thought to myself.

After much thought and brain cramping consideration - I threw my cards to the muck.

Player A turned over AK suited; Player B (Or should I say Mr. Gretzky) turned over pocket nines. At first I wanted to physically harm myself - every second thought that could go through my mind - did! Obviously, with pocket A's, I would be a huge favorite!

The flop were rags for the most part, except for the fact that a couple of deuces had paired the board immediately...I felt my stomach flip. The turn - oh glorious turn... a nine. I'll never forget that it was the nine of hearts because I felt the love emanating from the felt. Mr. Gretzky hit a full boat! (The river was another rag.) Player B busted out with his AK...on the bubble.

As I said, there wasn't too much of a difference in chips between him and I. The real difference was in our awareness of the dreaded bubble and how willing and confident we were to put everything on the line in the face of it.

Kudos to Mr. Gretzky, with a much higher chip count and great positioning, he could risk the large re-raise to buy the pot, or in this particular case, bust his opponents bubble.


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