SCW June

I almost turned back. Traffic was BRUTAL. On GPS there were no fewer than 4 red flags. It took an hour and 45 minutes to get there.

For me, playing poker is more about mind-set than anything. When I am patient and interested, I usually make pretty decent reads and end up playing well.

Not that results equal playing quality...you can be at the top of your game, get someone on the verge with a 1-outer and watch them hit it.

But when I play poorly, then I typically do not enjoy it and when I have been in traffic that long...well, I know I will be frustrated, irritable, and not enjoy it.

But I went. And we ended up having 11...we were expecting 7 maybe. So that was nice.

I was at the tougher of the two tables. I had Kev to my right, Eric to his right, and to my left were Rick, Josh and Joe.

First hand was exactly what I needed...a couple limpers, I raised and it went to the flop heads up with Eric.

The flop was Q high and he came out betting. I raised him, he called. I figured he probably had A/Q and if another Queen fell, I might have folded to a min-bet. But the board stayed innocuous, he called big turn and river bets and my pocket aces held up against his...A/8? He called all that with a dry ace, no pair?

I won a couple more hands and had a nice stack when I picked up pocket queens. Again Eric and I took the flop heads up and it was pretty good for me...Jack high, I think with two babies. He called. Turn was maybe a 10 or so, river was a 7-type card...and gave him a straight. He stayed in with a 3/4 against a raise.

Oops...I did not even see the straight potential and never would have put him on that hand. He doubled through me and, a few hands later, took another chunk from me when he again rivered a straight.

I picked up a suited A/K, raised, and yet again it was Eric and I. All low on the flop, he raised, I almost folded but then called. Turn was a blank, he raised, I called. River...a King. He checked, I checked...and he rolled over A/K. Split pot.

Followed by I believe three more split pots when it was he and I heads up. Weird.

Well, I was down to about 2500 chips (we started with 5K) after he doubled through me the two times and I was in super tight mode looking for a chance to double up.

Blinds climbed, I was treading water, and with about 15 times the blinds I opened with pocket 3s, thinking I had a good chance to pick up the blinds. Instead, someone min-raised, 3 people called, and I was getting better than 8-1. I called all-in.

Flop was 6/4/2. I picked up a potential straight draw...and might need it, because after 2 checks, the third guy bets...and I get a re-raise and a call. Uh-oh...

Turn paired the board. More action. Fascinating. I figure a 5 is probably good as then only holdings containing a 6 beat me...and with this action, the ONLY one I would believe would be pocket 6s, and that would be questionable.

River is a 3 so I am pretty happy...I have a full house. Pocket 6s, pocket 4s put me out, otherwise I look good.

Jacks win the side pot and the raiser had...A/2? He was trying to push people off an all-in with that?

So I nearly quadrupled up and now I am able to play a couple speculative hands.

I get in a few more heads-up with Eric, but now I just check-call, and now his luck has turned. He hits nothing, I take a few hands.

I limp with A/2 suited, about 3 of us see a flop. I pick up the nut flush draw, he min-bets, I am getting about 12-1, I call. Turn misses, he makes same bet, I call. River, I missed, he makes same bet, I...fold? Yep, only think I can beat is a king-high bluff. He shows...a Jack high bluff. He got me.

But that is okay, I take chips from lots of people with solid play.

I notice people are tightening up.

I raise with K/4 from under the gun, why I will never know. What a junk hand. Actually, I know exactly why I raised...people were folding to raises, we were playing 4-handed, and I wanted to see what response I would get. They had folded to my last couple raises...which had been legitimate stuff like pocket 9s and A/K. Time to steal.

And Joe called. Uh-oh.

Joe is tough for me because he likes to bluff-raise the same way he makes nut raises. What I mean is, when he has a good hand, he has one size raise, but when he has the nuts AND when he bluffs he makes big, big raises...so he might have a great hand or might have nothing.

And sure enough, on the flop, he makes a big raise. I call for no apparent reason, he checks the turn, I bet, he folds.

We get down to 8 people, one table, and they start falling like flies. I lay back waiting for good hands.

By the end of the night we get down to 3 players; Phillip to my left, Kevin to my right.

The lead changes a couple times, I have the lead by about 1.5-1 over their combined stacks. Blinds are 500/1K, Phillip has about 6.5K, Kevin about 11K.

Phillip opens utg to 3K, Kevin goes all in. I have garbage, an easy fold, especially knowing Phillip is priced into calling by his raise.

And Phillip goes into the tank for a long time.

At the time I thought it was an auto-call. He has to have a pretty narrow range there...pockets, A/J or better. That looks good against almost every hand.

Except Kevin, seeing him raise and knowing he is committed, came over the top with another player...the chip leader...to act. So he HAS to have something.

Ignoring the rule it takes a stronger hand to call than it does to raise, I put him on the same range. So now Phillip is in a tough spot.

We now know he had pocket 4s. His hand is an underdog against half the hands Kev could have and at best a coin flip against anything except some random A/3 or A/2...which do not fit Kev's move.

But if he folds, he has maybe 2 circuits left, about 5 or 6 hands.

He called, Kev had Queens, and it was heads up.

Kev is very tough for me heads up. He plays different every time, so it is hard to tell where I am. I had the lead, so I wanted to get into it when I had an above average hand and other than that play small pots.

I let him have a couple where I had nothing, he let me have a couple, so I think he was playing a similar strategy.

Then I picked up I think Jacks and he had something...and by the river, I got a straight and took a commanding lead.

Ended up winning for the third time in four months...a pretty good run I think.

And best of all...even when my early chip lead became short stack to a couple river straights, I was having fun. So it is all good.


Softball blast...once more with feeling

What with getting married, then getting shafted by work regarding my duties and schedule, and getting older and more injured, I had pretty much retired from softball.

But I stayed in touch with the team and they needed someone to fill in for a game. So off I went.

I had not picked up a bat or glove in a couple years, though I throw the ball for bella pretty regularly so figure at least I can throw if needed.

We score a couple in the top of the first, and in the bottom half there is one play at first, an easy 6-3 putout.

I come up with 2 outs in the top of the second. I am a bit nervous about batting. I am still sensitive about my shoulder, it is still weak, and frankly, I am still exhausted from a 52 mile bike ride followed by mowing the lawn the next night so my legs are shot.

The smart player will take a pitch and, as in the old days, go the other way with a little flop shot into short right.

I took a pretty solid swing, but drive it too far into right, right at the right field. I am out.

The bottom of the second is long as they score a bunch. I get little action, but easily handle both throws that come my way.

It is the fourth inning before I come up again and again I drive the ball too hard, flying out to right center. I am not feeling too good about that...I should be keeping the ball on the ground and the fact that I am not shows the rust on my game. And it is hurting the team, because nobody else is hitting either and we are digging a hole.

We are down 8-3 when it starts to turn. They have scored a couple runs, have a big inning going, and a ball is hit sharply to short. I go to first, the throw is low and hits about 8' in front of me, coming like a rocket. I throw one foot back to find the bag as I sprawl like a hockey goal-tender to get in front of it. If it gets by me they are going to score a couple more runs.

Somehow I scoop it clean and my foot, in its flailing behind me, finds the bag to end the inning.

I think that really picked up the spirits of the team. We were on the verge of a melt-down, and if that play is not made, giving up a possible out might finish us. Instead, we have new life.

My next at-bat I look and see they are shading left and right, leaving a big gap in center. So with 2 outs, I go back up the middle for a clean double, driving in a run that actually, after being down 5, pulled us into a tie. It was a beautiful piece of hitting if I do say so myself.

They pick up another run.

We come back to tie it again, and then with 2 outs, I come up one more time and have a runner in scoring position. I know there is not much time left in the game, pick my pitch, drive it to my sweet spot in right and bring home the runner to take our first lead since the first inning. The next batter is out, and they come up for their last at-bat.

With one out, they have runners on first and second and their best hitter on deck.

the batter hits a slow roller to third, she steps on the bag and throws it across the infield. I stretch as far as I can, the throw beats the runner by a quarter step, the stretch looks spectacular, and we win the game on a double play.

Wow, that was about as exciting as C-league softball can get. 3 ties, 2 lead changes, a thrilling and semi-spectacular double play...

I feel really well about my own play. Although I made outs the first couple times, I quickly regained my comfort and confidence at the plate. I made every play in the field, including two very difficult ones that mattered.

I feel like I really helped the team, like, though I was not THE difference, I was A difference and if a less able player was in my spot, we lose by 4 or 5 runs.

It is not often I gush about my own performance in softball, but this time...I think I deserve it.


Wildwood 5/29/10

Any discussion of my all-time favorite golf courses has to start with Wildwood.

It has a bit of everything...trees, water, distance, sand...it is a very challenging course, but not so tough that weak players cannot still have a good time.

Last weekend, I played a best-ball tournament with co-workers, and I looked like someone who A)had not golfed in over a year, B) was coming off shoulder problems and C) is a very poor best-ball player because I like to play every shot.

Coincidentally, I had not golfed in over a year, was fighting shoulder issues and despise best ball...I want to play my ball, get myself into and out of trouble, and see where I am at, not where my team is.

But this time I would be playing Wildwood with soft-ball teammates so I was looking forward to it.

Hole 1

This is rated the toughest hole, and for good reason. You tee off a cliff. The right side of the fairway is guarded by trees the entire way and by a water hole if you hit short and right. The left side is also guarded by trees so you pretty much have to get past the big tree guarding the corner of the dogleg on the right but not past the fairway so you can blast your second shot on this long 5.

That is exactly what I did. My tee shot was magnificent, landing left-center of the fairway and leaving me a clear second. I used my trusty 7 wood and hit straight but a bit short, landing about 100 yards off the green. No problem.

Now, normally here I like to bump and run, but in this case the creek guarding the front of the elevated green says that is a terrible idea. So I used my Gap wedge, a club I have never felt comfortable with.

Sure enough, I pulled it badly, ending up a little past the pin but in some trees left of the green. Then I chipped over the green. Then I chipped over the green again. Finally I got on the green and 2-putted for a snowman. Ugly start. Ironically, my short game is what betrayed me. Normally I scuffle trying to get close, then pitch and putt to manageable scores.

Hole 2

This one is tough. I used to have a solid 150 yard 8 iron, so I would tee short and take my 8 up that steep hill. Now, however, I cannot range my clubs, so I just blasted my driver and it was a beauty, landing me about 40 yards short of the green. A sand wdge left me about 8' from the pin. I then 2-putted for par.

Hole 3

A short 3 from a cliff, I thought I had hit it great. The ball skied, straight and true...and short. I landed about 4 feet off the green. But a nice bump and run, a 4 foot putt and I had back to back pars.

Hole 4

I absolutely crushed my drive, landing about 3 yards short of the 200 yard marker. Then my 7W landed pin high just right of the green. I then managed to chip almost over the green. A decent lag putt and a third consecutive par...2 of which should have been birdies.

Hole 5

This hole has always given me trouble. The trees to the right mean even a fade is trouble, and the sand guarding the elevated green means my beloved bump and run is no good here. I often chip onto the hill behind the green, get scared of coming into the sand...I can run up a big score quickly.

This time I crush my drive and have a nice short chip. I get over the sand onto the green in regulation, then proceed to 3-putt for a bogey. Not bad...but already I have about 4 strokes more than I should.

Hole 6

This short 3 demands accuracy. Any shot hit right or long is gone in the weeds, and there is not much room...plus the trees in front mean you have to sky your ball to get over them. I went pretty far left, just scraping the edge of the green, as close to being off as you could be. It was a tough green, but I 2-putted for another par. I was rolling!

Hole 7

My drives had been very good all day. Long and straight, little to no bend to the right. So for the first time, I decided to aim for the middle of the fairway trying to cut the corner without cutting it on this long 5, dogleg right with water and trees on the right and bifurcating the dogleg.

And promptly hit a slice like I used to do so consistently. If it had not hit a tree, it was turning so hard it might have gone boomerang on me and hit me in the back of the head.

Laying three off the tee, I then boomed a drive to the center of the fairway, hit a decent 7-wood, bump and run, 2-putt. Had I not lost the first one, would have had another par. Instead I took a 7.

Hole 8

Again my 8-iron was well short of where I thought it should be. But a good chip, a one-putt, and I had yet another par. I was playing well.

Hole 9

For a second time I sliced badly. I thought it was in play, though...there is a lot of room out there. Could not find it, dropped, pitched, then again after I shanked it, chipped back from beyond the green, 2 putt, a semi-legit7.

Totaled it up...a surprising 43. I felt like it should be more because I bookended big numbers, and 2 of my last 3 holes were big numbers. But the middle was awesome!

The back...ugh. What happened?

Hole 10

A beautiful drive yet again. Then, from just outside 100, I pulled my 9 iron right, then managed to take another 3 shots. A six.

Hole 11

I have never figured out this hole. There is no good landing place for the drive. I actually hit my driver poorly...I overswung but instead of slicing, it went about 50 yards left of where I aimed and short. It played well, though...dead center fairway at the 100 yard marker.

I then took my Gap wedge...an 85 yard club....and, facing a steep uphill to the green....OVERSHOT the green and lost the ball out of bounds. Drop, pitch, putt twice...another 6. Still no huge numbers...but definitely worse than the front.

Hole 12

This one has a very narrow fairway. If you go left, you are on a sidehill with the ball beneath your feet and it means the green is blind. If you go right you are in the creek. I crushed my drive long and straight. Then I topped my pitch, advancing maybe ten yards...then again went over the green, losing the ball. Bump and run, 2 putt, a 7.

Hole 13

Perhaps the easiest hole on the course. I pull my 5 iron left, pitch, 2 putt. A bogey looks good right now.

Hole 14

Earlier I had mentioned I am usually good for pulling my drive way left about once a round. On this hole,