What controls your balls? What mechanism makes your manhood change? After watching all of Mathew Barney’s 8 hour “Cremaster Cycle” in one sitting I cannot help but ask, “What controls your balls?”

And I don’t mean the physical testicles (which are in fact controlled by a pelvic muscle called the cremaster which Matthew “Mr. Bjork” Barney did in fact make an eight hour movie cycle about .) I mean the part of you which is brave, which is a risk-taker – that which separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls. What controls your balls?

This is a particularly appropriate question for a poker player as every time you enter a pot, you are putting your chips at risk. Do you do this compulsively to combat boredom – do you just have to get involved every ten hands or so? Do you do this totally according to your starting hands to win money in showdowns – like a mathematical investment? Do you want to show a certain player who is boss –prove you are the better player/person? Why do you do what you do at the poker table– what controls your balls?

While the answer is different for everyone, let’s take a look at the May 25th Party Poker 300K weekly and specifically a player named somethingGood.

Whoever somethingGood is, they are undoubtedly making money playing on Party Poker. Of the final 100 players in the May 25 Party Poker 300K, they were easily the best player. Any spectator could have seen that. But if somethingGood is so good, why didn’t they win or even make it to the Final Table? To answer that, let’s take a look at what controls their balls.

Domain

A classic quality of masculinity is domain – what I touch becomes mine (and what I pee on at least smells enough like me to be mine.) All too often, players fail to make their specific bets a part of their specific domain.

Do you know why the “standard raise” is 3 times the big blind? It’s because that is the raise that Wild Bill Hickok made most often. But it wasn’t “standard” to the game of poker when Wild Bill was making it back in the nineteenth century: it was a standard of his game, a part of his domain. Great players employ their own specific style of poker and a great way to do that is to have your own standard pre-flop raise. SomethingGood did this almost to perfection on Sunday.

Hand 7087698393 is just one of the dozens of hands that were folded pre-flop to somethingGood after one of his signature opening bets. Those bets changed depending on blind level but remained consistent in that they always ended in 700 and were always just a shade over 2 times the big blind. This not only announces his specific presence in every pot without overbetting (a particularly difficult feat to accomplish online) but also disguises the strength of his hand (a difficult feat at any poker table.)

As it becomes crucial for players to steal blinds late in tournaments and especially in the late stages of a big tournament with a small buy-in, those blinds can become easier to take (a lot of players get very tight in the final stages of a tournament as the differences in prize money become more pronounced.) By sticking with his standard raise, somethingGood dares other players who have suddenly become very aware of the money at stake to make a play at him – a very effective small buy-in tournament poker strategy.

Domination, or, “When You’ve Got It, Take It”

One of the most common mistakes that beginning tournament players make is overvaluing the trap. From which cards are worthy of trapping with to the value of trapping as a strategy, the trap hurts the trapper more often than not.

Hand 7087682995 is a good example of the value of not-trapping (or in our terms, balls controlled by domination.) After somethingGood had won three or four pots out of the previous eight pre-flop with the same raise to 39,700 (blinds were at 8,000/16,000) the table was set for him to make a play. Following yet another raise to 39,700, Bignuts90210 raised somethingGood to 120K. I can understand Bignuts here – he sees an aggressive player betting the same amount hand after hand and decides to push with his KJ. SomethingGood goes back over the top putting Bignuts90210 all-in – Bignuts is priced in at that point and has to call. SomethingGood has a pair of Queens, they hold up and he is at 520K.

Now if somethingGood had just limped in pre-flop with his Queens or smooth called BigNuts’s re-raise, he very easily could have missed out on taking all of BigNuts’s chips. Instead, somethingGood used the momentum created by his specific standard raise to maximize the value of his pocket Queens by coaxing a big raise from a mediocre hand (K-J) late in the tournament.

It’s a natural progression, from general domain to specific domination – somethingGood’s cremaster is doing good!

And Then it Gets Personal:

Of course, there is a reason why somethingGood did not make the Final Table – two of them as a matter of fact (no not those – well, actually, yes those.) After being the big stack or close to it at about 800K for most of the final 100 players, a new player showed up at the table. DrawnOut and his 1.6 million were moved to table #1 after the field was whittled down to 12 (putting 6 players on each table.)

First hand after the new arrival, DrawnOut bullies a small stack out of a pot with an all-in re-raise. You know that somethingGood is not having that.

Next hand, somethingGood issues his signature raise to 49,700 (blinds are 10K/20K) from first position on DrawnOut’s big blind. This worries me a little because I have come to admire somethingGood’s play and this seems a rather flimsy bet against the big stack in the big blind. And while this may be somethingGood’s domain, DrawnOut does not seem likely to oblige.

DrawnOut calls the bet then checks the flop. SomethingGood bets out 140K, DrawnOut goes over the top and somethingGood has to fold having lost a quarter of his stack. This perturbs somethingGood who feels his domain slipping away – and the cremaster gets desperate.

Next hand, table folds around to DrawnOut who is the small blind. DrawnOut raises to 60K, somethingGood goes all-in with a suited QJ, DrawnOut calls with pocket Jacks and poof! somethingGood has disappeared.

It has long been prophesied that what creates you will eventually destroy you. So it was for somethingGood – that first urge towards domain first provided him with the balls to go for domination then undid him when DrawnOut (who ended up winning the whole thing) appeared. All in all, good for a 12th place finish and $2800 on a $215 buy-in – not half bad.

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