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$IF Homegame

From hanging out with the I Had Outs girls, I had an opportunity to meet SIF, the man behind the blog, Ship It Fish. SIF is one of those players who take the game very seriously. He is able to earn worthwhile money consistency, but more importantly, is a student and connoisseur of the game.

Because of these things, SIF's homegames generally have a different feel from what I am used to. Whereas I am used to playing the usual NL tournament or cash game, SIF's game has a mixed lineup, where NLHE rarely is played in its natural form. Whereas I am used to playing in low buy-in homegames at stakes I'd gladly play lit, in the SIF games, I'm playing at stakes that really matter. Ironically, for SIF and some of the other players, I suppose this second point doesn't apply, as SIF and at least one other player were playing significantly below their usual stakes. The bottom line is, at 1/1 PL and NL stakes and 4/8 Limit stakes, as far as I'm concerned, we might as well be playing in a casino, if it weren't for the odd game line-up. It sure as hell isn't a low limit goofball of a game.

All that said, its a fucking fun time. Granted, I won, but regardless, I really enjoyed the company at the table and the games we played. Playing mixed games is kinda like learning hold'em all over again. It's fresh and new, and there is so much to be learned. The rotation this week, in order, was Double Board Pot Limit Hold'em, Limit Omaha 8 or better, Stud High/Low (declare with no qualifier), No Limit Deuce to Seven Single Draw, Pot Limit Omaha, and Badugi. It's an interesting line-up, with some games that seem mightily close to wild card silly homegames, and it plays a little like that too, with a carefree attitude. But every player at that table is focused on improving their game and learning, so its an interesting balance.

I probably made my biggest pot in a hand of NL Duece-to-Seven Single Draw. I was dealt a 96432 right off the bat and felt confident that I had a strong hand. So far for the day, I had been giving a lot of action, winning the first two pots of the night and playing probably 8 of the first 10. It's really just my way of warming up, especially since I started with some decent hands. Consequently, I accumulated chips, but also solidified my image as a loose player. Ironically, my loose image is probably my biggest money maker.

So, I'm holding a 96 low and feeling very confident. Since it is single-draw AND no limit, most pots have been relatively small. Someone will raise preflop from 1 to 4 (actually a pot-sized bet, probably due to the influence of the many pot-limit games we play), and someone will call. Once the draw is done, at most you'll see a bet of $10 and then either a call or fold.

This hand, however, was different. From middle position, Chuck, a smart player who I have the upmost respect for, raises to $10. When it gets to me in one of the blinds, I think for a bit. 96 is pretty good and players have been betting without a made low, so I could very well be ahead. I decide that calling is out of the question since I'll be out of position, a crucial aspect of most draw games and especially duece-to-seven. I decide that I have to fold or raise, and since 96 is a nice starting hand, I decide to take the hand down right away by raising to $30. Chuck thinks it over, hesitates and pushes his whole stack in. Meanwhile, some other people at the table are chatting it up about some other topic and I'm sitting their sweating this large stack that was just pushed into the middle. "How much is that?" I ask, meekly. Chuck couldn't hear me over the noise, and his neighbor wasn't either. I speak up, "Can I get that counted?" Chuck is now leaning back as his neighbor starts eyeing the chips and counting them down. I'm getting annoyed as the process seems all messed up, but I'm keeping my cool and trying to figure out what to do. "I might be good here," I say, hoping to get something from Chuck. I ask him directly, "Am I good here, Chuck?" I don't get much of a response besides a nervous chuckle. "$150 or so...oh wait, $120." The chip count was in, and it would be $120 or so to call after my $30 bet was met. "I think I'm good here. Okay, (I hesitate a moment to make sure I'm not crazy and realize that I'm up well over $120) I call. And...I'm pat (which means that I'm not taking any cards)." Its certainly possible that Chuck was dealt an 8-low or something, but overall, I'm reading weakness. He thinks I'm loose and probably wants to push me off of a draw with his big bet. It's ME, also. Against another player, I'd give Chuck more credit for a hand, but I'm openly known as a loose player, and Chuck is likely taking advantage of it. I also thought back to the tell that my bro-in-law Marc saw me showing, leaning back in my chair. The more I think about it, it's a sign of weakness. It's "let me lean back and appraise the situation." It's "let me get comfortable, because this hand is making me uncomfortable." All these things told me to call, so I did. Standing pat was tricky. I figured that I would be drawing VERY slim if I drew, so I had to believe that I already had the better hand if I was going to call. Chuck stands pat also. He announces a 9-high, and when I ask for his kicker, he says 8. I show my 96 low and take the pot.

On at least two occassions, I pulled a BaJordan, my term for calling bets pre-draw in Badugi and then drawing three out of my four cards. In at least one hand, I won a monster pot when I held my 4 and drew an Ace, 2, and some random card that matched the 4's suit. By the third draw, I still had bricked my fourth card but still took the pot off of my two competitors. For those not in the know, in Badugi, if you have 2 cards of the same suit, only one plays, so a 4-card Badugi with a club, heart, spade, and diamond is a strong hand and is generally needed to win.

Stud H/L declare was interesting. Unlike the Stud 8 or better that is played on the Internet (and most everywhere), Stud H/L doesn't require an 8 or under hand to qualify for the low. However, after the 7th street betting, each player still in the hand takes two chips under the table and comes out with either 0, 1 or 2 in their fist. When its time to declare, each player opens their fist exposing whether they are going for the low (0 chips), high (1), or both aka pig (2). Then there is one final betting round. In one hand, I held a Queen in the whole, turned a Queen and hit another Queen on 6th Street. I was up against SIF and when he started to re-raise me on a board that looked like he was playing low, I decided to slow it down. "Am I behind your straight?" I asked myself aloud. As soon as I said it, I internally damned myself. How could I just announce that I was behind a straight! Damn! I decided to call, and when we reached showdown, he decided to go low...with a Ten low and a Flush! He thought my external monologue was a bluff and I was trying to induce action against my full house. SIF was a bit surprised to see he was ahead, but we chopped the pot, since he went low and I went high. In a later hand, I scooped by hitting 5 hearts in a row from third to 7th street. NOICE!

Double Board Hold'em is freaking crazy. Picture PL Hold'em, but with TWO FRIGGIN' BOARDS. In an early hand, I held AKd, and the flops were Ace-high and King-high. I bet and take it all down. But its a weird game, because 0n other occassions, players are willing to push with nothing on one board because they have the nuts on the other. It's a game where you split the pot between the two winners, so there is a lot of value to forcing your opponent all-in (and hoping he was playing the board you had the nuts on) or forcing your opponent to fold (when you have jack-shit on one of the boards).

I could go through the rest of the games, but those were the really odd ones. I'm beginning to realize that PLO and PLO8 (we didn't play PLO8 at the game, but we did play LO8) are not my games. Something about all that exposure in Omaha just throws off my game. That said, I like me some limit Omaha.

I had a great time, and left +$345, presumably the big winner of the game. When we were leaving, SIF asked when I was available for the next game. Shiyit, with this success, you name it, buddy.

The next day, wifey Kim and I enjoyed morning in bed...watching cartoons, of course. She had some errands to run, so I played a bit of poker online. I started with various levels of LO8, following that nebulous thing I call my poker mood. I was up about $60 on a 5/10 table, but gave it all up on my last hand, leaving +$6. In that same time, I lost $24 or so at a 3/6 LO8 table. Oh, and in case you are interested, it was the shorthanded table. Jordan likes playing lots of cards.

I took some time away from the computer, but when I came back, all the LO8 rooms were full...except for an 8/16 game with one player waiting around. I popped into that room, and realized that he was sitting with 10 BB, $160. I love shorthanded players. They are either playing scared and therefore are too tight, or playing to double-up and therefore are too loose. I don't, however, like playing hi/lo split games heads up. All too often, you split the pot and the only winner is the rake (which I believe may also be higher than in a non-hi/low split game).

That said, I saw a fish waiting to be filleted (read that last word carefully, you pervs) so I got out my knives. Usually, I'll sit at the table with my regular buy-in or higher and try to scare the fish into just handing me their money, but since it was high-low split, I figured I'd just jump in with $160, so I could tell if I was making any real progress.

In the early-goings, I wanted to see which type of fish we had. Was it the desperate loose fish or the scared tight one. So, I began raising immediately. I believe I had a relatively uncoordinated hand, but I had two cards that would qualify for a low and two high cards, so I was willing to go for another bet. He folded and I had the start of my read. On the next hand, I raised preflop and he called. On the flop, I missed entirely and there was no low, but I continuation bet and took down the pot. On the next hand, I called and when we saw the flop, he bet. I re-raised with a low draw or maybe top pair, but nothing really re-raise worthy. He folded. And hence, we had our read. As it turned out within 20 hands, and probably within 15, he was busted anyway. Easy money.

Later that day, I decided to earn my way into the Blogger Big Game. The first stop was an $8.70 18-person turbo SNG to earn a $24+2 token. In the early-goings, I was sucked out, AK v. AQ all-in preflop. He hit his Queen and left me with under 300 chips with blinds at or near 50/100, and maybe 4 players out at most. But, I fought my way back, stealing some blinds and then doubling and then tripling up. I ended up moneying in 6th for some cash but no token.

Without a $24+2 token, I wasn't planning on playing a Tier 2 token race for a $69+6 token. But, I was up so much for the day thanks to my lil LO8 fish, so I decided to buy in directly. I was used to the two-table $24+2 Tier II token tournaments, but when I looked at the SNG lists, that wasn't available. Maybe FT got rid of it. Whatever the case, I decided to play a single table tournament for $24+2 (cash!) that would pay out 2 tokens and $66 to third place. While I waited for it to fill up, WeakPlayer IM'ed me wishing me luck. He was in the same tournament. "This is going to take forever to fill up." I told him. "I'm trying to get more bloggers to play," he responded. "Hell no! I'd rather play against bad players." And I meant it too.

By the time it started, it was me, Weak (on my immediate right) and jecilmd, along with 6 strangers. Weak made a great isolation play early on against a player who had pushed 2x in a row, clearly trying to just pick up the blinds. Weak's AT took out his opponent's KQ, and I became emboldened. One player, Dougie, was "playing his rush" as he put it, and seemed to be making lots of BS moves. So, when there were 5 or so limpers, including me with 89h, and he decided to raise big, I thought he was just stealing the considerable pot. I decided to put him to the test, pushing all-in for a goodly amount more. To my surprise, he called with AQd and I looked like a fool. I still don't know about my play. On one hand, as long as I'm not against a high pocket-pair, I have a good chance of taking it down OR going to a "coin toss" with two live cards. On the other, I have 89h! When the flop came down AKQ, I knew I was fucked. When the turn came down Ten, I thought to myself, "JACK JACK JACK!" When the river came out as a Jack and we chopped, well, Weak said it best in the room's chat box, "bwahahahaha!"

When we were down to 4, it was me, Dougie, Weak and jecil. Eventually, I knocked out jecil who was shortstack for a long time. I then busted Weak in 3rd and won my token.

But I didn't play the Blogger Big Game. I wanted to, I swear, but after a day separate from wifey Kim, we were on the coach enjoying each others' company when I noticed it was 5 minutes till game time. There were only 12 players registered, so I couldn't even sign up and sit out for a bit. Next time, though. I swear.

That's enough for today. It was a $500+ weekend. My live winnings so vastly outnumber my online winnings (which at one point was NEGATIVE for the year this weekend, but is not at about $150, not including bonuses) that it is almost silly. I know a bunch of you are heading to Vegas this week, so have fun. I'll be at Harrah's in AC playing in a WSOP Circuit event. Wish me luck.

Until then, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 7:12 PM,


At 2:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First of all, I've long had the opinion that poker is poker as online is to live. Maybe some players need to specialize to do well, but it's the same game, so that shouldn't be the case.

On the topic of specialization, there's nothing wrong with being a student and connoisseur of just NL Hold 'em, as far as I'm concerned.

It seems like the players that bash those just interested in NL Hold 'em usually aren't very good at that game.

I'd get eaten alive in a mixed game. I'm not sure I'll ever be proficient in many games -- my personality is to engorge my mind with one thing. That will always be a fault of mine to an extent (as far as I can see right now) because I haven't spent much time studying games other than Hold 'em.

There's no reason to be a snob concerning the topic of mixed games, though.

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Dawn Summers said...

Wow, that game is basically an ATM for you, isn't it! Good job!

Now, I think the least you can do for us singlehandedly being responsible for this reliable cash stream is to blogroll I had outs.



At 3:09 PM, Anonymous MattyEbs said...

I noticed you neglected to mention the hand where you rivered a straight and went pig against trips and a 7 low...that was a key hand and may have been a bigger pot then the 2-7 although that was a courageous read. Great time as always at the mix games and the best of luck in the WSOP I'd go to cheer u on if I didn't have finals...fuck it I'd play if I didn't have finals...represent man you definately have the talent hopefully you'll also have the requisite luck.

Beware of the aquarium there are more fish then sharks

At 4:59 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

DP, sorry if I came off as a mixed game snob, but I don't knock any specialists. After all, I'm a PL 5-Card Draw Specialist! But really, what did I say that invited a Mixed Game snob comment. Whatever the case, I still think that it is good to play games other than NLHE because the other games will allow you to practice other NLHE-applied skills and, frankly, its fun. But whatever. Play NLHE all you like.

Second, DP, you are CRAZY if you think live poker = online poker. First off, reads are entirely different. Second, I, personally, am better able to pay attention live. Third, online, players play differently because their is no face-to-face embarassment. I'll stop the list there, but if you really think they are the same, then you haven't played poker live enough.

Dawn, its an oversight that I will correct immediately. IHO is one of my favorites, after all.

Ebs, I hear ya. I can't help but feel like the competition will be better, even though it may be worse since the WSOP name and lowest level of their buy-in may bring out all the wishful TV-poker fans.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger slb159 said...

Thx for the comment Jordan. Yes, I have heard many times that PLO8 is a great way to clear bonuses and I can play that somewhat, but limit HE is out of the question for me. I'll try my best.

Good luck.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger DP said...

My guess is your attention span plays a major role, as you mentioned. In addition, it seems you are very good at creating an image in live games.

As I said, there is no reason a player shouldn't do just as well playing online poker compared to live poker. There are just different exploits.

How often do you hear about a player describing that they are better at playing online. (And that they have equal experience in both live and online play.) I don't think I hear that often. Therefore, you could assume that skill doesn't dictate the results of online poker, or that players who experience a lot better results playing live rely on the image created by their physical presence too much, and thus lack ability or knowledge relating to poker concepts which is magnified in online play.

At 6:15 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

"you could assume that skill doesn't dictate the results of online poker, or that players who experience a lot better results playing live rely on the image created by their physical presence too much, and thus lack ability or knowledge relating to poker concepts which is magnified in online play."

Dude, you COULD assume those things, but they aren't the only things you could assume. How about live players can read players better. Or, exactly what I said, which is that your competition play differntly online, or that some players have difficulty focusing as much online.

DP, you may be comparing online with a fun home game, which may be a bit closer (but still worlds apart). But casino play (or illegal cardroom play) is different from online play. I'll post about it in the future, but if you read my past posts about my shortcomings (attention span, too long sessions online, chasing losses, and being inebriated), they all do not apply the same way live. The attention span thing is different because I don't have the Internet to search and a TV on. Playing longer live actually improves my play as opposed to online. Its not as easy to chase losses live because I have to buy in with REAL money and its not like I can jump from table to table. And live, I'm more conscious of my surroundings and less likely to get lit, since the game matters more to me.

You can get theoretical all you want about the core of the game being the same. But would you say that talking to a person face to face is the same as sending an IM? If not, then that is one HUGE difference between online and live right there.

I don't mean to be hard on you, and I don't knock you for testing my statement, but the more I think of it, the more I'm sure that I am correct. Live does not equal online. Perhaps after you get some more casino experience, you'll see what I'm talking about a bit more, but I have a feeling you already know what I'm talking about and were just making a theoretical statement.

Oh, and there are definitely players who are better online than live. In fact, live players will often mock them when they play live since it's easy to spot the "internet pro."

At 6:36 PM, Blogger DP said...

Yeah, I've played a lot of live poker when I was at college and a lot of live poker in illegal card rooms in Manhattan, and with my friends in small home games. A decent amount of my live play has been $2-$5 $500 max NL in illegal card rooms and Foxwoods. I think image is still very important at medium stakes like $2-$5, but it is less important than in the $1-$2 NL game.

"Oh, and there are definitely players who are better online than live. In fact, live players will often mock them when they play live since it's easy to spot the 'internet pro.'"

My point is, I hardly ever see an "online player" saying they are better at playing online compared to live. They will often say they play online solely because it's more convenient and they are able to make more money (more hands per hour). The label "online player" is general, and usually means that the player just plays a lot more online poker, often due to the location in which they live. To me, it has nothing to do with ability, although I'm sure generalizations can be made about players that fit that label.

I'm trying to understand the specific reasons why so many players lose playing online, but are able to profit in live games.

At 6:44 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Well, look no further. I've laid it out for you. It's because live poker involves different more involved tells and image building, and has less distractions.

At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah. I don't have problems concentrating while playing online, however.

At 8:30 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Come on, DP. You might not have a problem, but it is undeniable that you cannot start surfing the net while at a casino. Likewise, you cannot turn on the TV. Instead, its just you and the table, so naturally, from my experience, I am more engaged live. I'm looking for patterns and tells and otherwise just chatting with the people at the table and thereby picking up information when I'm not even trying to. So, you may not have a problem concentrating, but I can't see how you could deny that there are more opportunities for distractions at home.

At 8:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, alcohol can be a distraction during live play.

I have no problems focusing during online play. I only play one table, and I'll close any instant messaging programs if I'm really serious.

The nice thing about playing online is that I'm able to listen to music and not lose any information.

At 10:32 AM, Blogger Alceste said...

Agreed with Jordan on this one (although I am the opposite - a winning online player and a losing live game player). While it's the same skills involved, it is much easier to find a game online that's suited to one's strengths and weaknesses (whether it be lower buy-in tournaments or cash games where the play is less crazy than small NL 1/2 games at NYC clubs or AC casinos).


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