A Boy Named Stu
About a year ago, I responded to a post on pokerpoker.ca advertising a small buy-in home tourney in Vanier. I showed up to find a small apartment and about 5 or 6 younger guys who seemed for the most part to know each other but, not really know much about poker. I played the tournament and started running over the table. Of the group, there was only one player who seemed to know what he was doing and he seemed to be taking things quite seriously. Surprisingly, this player was the youngest of the bunch and not so surprisingly, we ended up as the final two.

I played the head's up battle with him even more loosely and aggressively than I had played before. This kid was so damn tight I just figured I could buy every pot from him. As is usually the case when you underestimate an opponent, I got caught speeding a number of times and ended up placing 2nd.

I later convinced the boys to play a small cash game and cleaned them out whithin a few hands (how I miss the old days when there were still soft little home games that you could go and plunder).

I never forgot that kid. I was really impressed with his apparent dedication to the game at such a young age. A few months went by and then I started seeing him again at the odd home game. We never really had a chance to play together at any of these events but I was aware of his presence and knew that he was on his way to becoming a fine player.

Approximately six months ago, I learned that that self-same kid (whom I now knew was named Stuart and known as "Skippy" or "Stu" to his friends) had started dealing at one of the local casino-style poker venues in the city. It was a place that I did not frequent as much and 3 months went by before I started playing there more regularly and had the pleasure of having him deal for me. By this point we had gotten to know each other's reputation a bit better through our various posts on pokerpoker.ca. Just like the game of poker itself, Stu took his new job very seriously and was energetic about promoting his new workplace and dedicated to becoming the best dealer he could. I admire that.

Apparently, our boy Stu never forgot that little tournament in Vanier and he was itching for another chance to play me head's up. So, last week I agreed to play a best of five series with him for 20$ a game.

I don't consider myself a great head's up player. I've done alright online with the little 10$ SnGs but the competitiuon there is really weak. So, I had no expectations out of my head's up battle with Skippy. The only thing I knew for certain was that if I lost (especially if I lost badly) I would never hear the end of it. So, even though the money was small, the stakes were pretty high for me.

Things got off to a bad start as history repeated itself in the first game and I got caught speeding pretty badly putting him ahead 1-0 (why can't I learn my lessons the first time!). In the second game I ended up all in with KJ vs. KT on a king high board and the Skippster spiked a ten on the river to take a commanding lead. At that point, the venue where we were playing needed the table to run a cash game and Stu had work to do as a dealer so we promised to continue our match at a later date.

That later date came yesterday and we sat down last night to finish the match. I have to say that I spent some time re-evaluating my strategy over the last week and I was much more prepared for these games than I had been for the first two. This is mainly because I feel Stu had an edge over me at the beginning since he has been watching me play as a dealer and has had the opportunity to read my blog and many elaborate posts on pokerpoker that describe the way I play. With the first two games under my belt I had enough information to make a bit of a game plan. I know he is reading this right now, so I won't divulge what that plan was since we'll more than likely play again.

Our first match of last night (which was the third in the series) ended when I flopped a set of 4s vs. Skippy's 2 pair. He raised preflop with KQ, I called with pocket 4s. The flop came K-4-x I lead out. He raised, I called. The turn came a Q. I checked. He put 95% of his stack in the middle. I pushed. He called. It's now 2-1 Skippy.

In the next match, I called with 8-10 offsuit and the board came 10-6-10. By the end of that hand I put skip all-in minus 10 chips. He just called, leaving him room to make a hollywood style come back (which was my intent). Sadly, this is Ottawa, not Tinseltown and the game went to me, making it a tie at 2-2.

The final game ended when I flopped a set of Queens and got Stu to commit the majority of his stack after he hit second pair on the river. So, after winning three consecutive games, the match went to me.

This match served as good practice for the upcoming "Annual Head's Up Championship" here in Ottawa. I was happy with my play throughout and I have no doubts that Stu and I will play another one of these real soon.

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