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Non-Hold'em for Everyone!

I don't have much of a post for you today. I continued my minimalist theory of poker last night, playing in a $5 HORSE SNG at Full Tilt with SLB, Tripjax and GCox, but went out in 6th or so. The blinds go up really fast in those HORSE games, and my big loss came after my low was counterfeited on the river in Omaha. Que sera'. At that point, SLB had already busted, and I disappeared from the room. I hope Trip and/or G were able to make some magic happen.

I also played about 30 minutes of 1/2 HORSE ring at Stars. I really enjoy their HORSE game because of the wide array of skill level amongst the players and games and the variety that is inherent to HORSE. Simply put, it's hard to get bored when the game changes every 8 or so hands. I left there up $12.10, and decided that it was enough.

I played the Mookie, but Xanthius proved to be the death of me. I made a good read early when I called his preflop min raise with him in the SB and me in the BB with Q6. The flop was 236 and I called his bets down to the river, wholly ignoring the menacing Ace river. He held 55, and I took the hand. Not much later, I had JJ and was called by Xanthius after my preflop raise. He hit his Ace, but played it in a very peculiar fashion, betting 69 on the flop and the turned Ace, so I put him on second pair or perhaps and under pair. I was wrong on both accounts. He had AT. I then went out when I played 66 fast and loose against Xanthius again. He called me preflop with K2, only to hit the JJK flop. So it was.

I signed off and was content watching the season (or is it series) finale to Deadwood. I'm more than a bit disappointed. Call me old fashioned, but I like my stories with an ending. It pissed me off when Oz did it, and it pissed me off when Deadwood did it again. Don't end a series without an ending, damnit! The same can be said for literature and shortstories. But I guess I'm just structured that way. Hmmph.

I do have one question for you all. I would really like your input, so please keep the comments coming. Aside from Hold'em (of the limit and no-limit variety), what is your favority poker game. I'll allow HORSE, but I'd prefer if you chose a specific game, like Razz or Stud H/L rather than the catch-all HORSE.

For me, it is probably Pot Limit Omaha Eight of Better. There is a lot of strategy involved, and hand/board reading is much more complicated than in Hold'em. The pot limit aspect makes selective aggression extremely important, but does not allow push-monkeys to control the table with all-in bets without first establishing a pot preflop and beyond. The high-low aspect also provides for more strategizing (and perils), and, of course, encourages action. So PLO8 is my choice, but there are a lot of other good options.

Pop me a comment. Until then, make mine poker.

Update:

In case you didn't see it over at TripJax's blog, take a look at the new DADI blog. And keep an eye out for DADI 9, coming soon!

While you are at it, if you are interested in doing something good for the world, buy into the Gavin Smith Charity Satellite for the charity event at the Boathouse. The buy-in is $25, and the winner gets to play at the bash against notables like Mr. Smith. Here's the deal. If you are not going, you get to choose the player, so anyone who is interested can play, and if you win, I'll pay you $100 for the spot. The one catch, I want you to accept this lovely offer in advance, so I don't have to worry about any issues with other bidders. Truth be told, I really just want to play live against some great players. So, you'll be donating $25 to charity, AND you have a chance to win actualy cash! Is this sleazy?! I don't mean for it to be. But if so, at least I'm being sleazy for charity.

posted by Jordan @ 11:35 AM, , links to this post




Reminiscence

I only played one SNG last night. It was a $10+1 single table on Full Tilt with SLB159 and Iakaris. I bubbled in 4th when I decided to push with my 1,500 on the button with A7o and 120/240 blinds (at least). The big blind was a loose opportunistic prick, and I was having fun whooping his ass left and right. Unfortunately, he announced, "you either have an Ace-high or a pocket pair" before calling with KJ...and hitting a straight. SLB, who was actually on poker hiatus, ended up moneying, but I was burning so bad from that loss (I don't mind the play, necessarily, although caution may have been in order as we were on the bubble), and shut down the tournament immediately. Moments before Iak went out in 5th.

This was the second time I've played with Iak away from the blogger tournaments. Playing with him and SLB has been a boon for me. It reminded me of days long gone when GCox, TripJax, DNasty13, SteelerJosh, Kipper, Wonka (the first), and whoever else was on would meet for a single table SNG. During the game, we chat back and forth, discussing hands that just passed and broad strategy. We don't collude, but we do benefit from this interaction. For me, at least, the "distraction" of chatting actually causes me to pay more attention to the game. I could literally feel myself playing better as the SNG went on. In the end, I think I may have fallen back in love with poker. I just need to keep my goals in mind, adjust some things, and maybe revert back to a single-table SNG focus, especially when I can rope in the occassional fellow blogger. If you are looking to play, you can always find me on yahoo im under HighOnPokr. Leave off the last E for +EV.

So, thank you Iak and SLB for that. And thank you poker, for reminding me that even when I love you, you'll still bubble me.

I was chatting lightly with wifey Kim yesterday, when Rosh Hashanah came up. For you non-tribe members, Rosh (with a hard o) is one of the two most holy holidays to Jews. It's also on the same weekend of the Bash. I booked my room for the Bash before I did the math, and afterword had to figure out how to swing it. I decided that I would attend Rosh dinner Friday night in LI, drop wifey Kim in NYC, and head to Philly on Saturday morning. I know this is a drinking event moreso than a poker event, but I need to play some poker on this trip. So, I don't care whats going down; sometime, somewhere, I'm playing poker, even if it is a three way tourney with TripJax and PokerWolf in our hotel room at 5am on Sunday morning (whether or not they want to play, damnit!).

I also have to figure out how I'm going to explain the trip to my large extended family. "Gee, I won't be celebrating the second night of Rosh Hashanah with you because I'm meeting a bunch of my Internet friends in Philadelphia to drink a lot of alcohol." Somehow, that doesn't cut it. The line at the office is that I am visiting a friend in Philly who is holding a charity event. Sounds like I'm a nice guy that way. But my family knows about my degeneracy, so I might just tell them I'm going to Philly to play in a poker event I was invited to through my blog. That'll make the blog and me sound legitimate without having to mention my 'Internet friends.' Man, blogging is gay!

Whatever the case, I'm hella excited for the Bash, and I'm equally excited for my as-yet unplanned November vacation. Wifey Kim will be in Miami for five days soaking up sun under the guise of attending a speech pathology conference with her gaggle of female coworkers. I'm glad she gets some time to enjoy herself, as I will be going to Vegas in May with Roose for his bachelor party. But during her time away, I may as well find something to do. Right now, it'll probably be AC. I almost want to go alone and just live the life of a grinder for a couple of days. Wake up at 2pm, play poker until 6am, go to sleep, do it again. More likely, I'll find some compadres to join in the festivities. You all, of course, are invited too. Unless I go for trip possibility numero dos, Buffalo, NY. It was my college alma matter, and there is now a US casino (used to be only a Canadian one) with a poker room! Buffalo wings, beer with the current incarnation of my fraternity, and poker? That'll be hard to pass up.

Whatever the case, I'm a rambling man, so whereever I ramble will be a-ok. Until then, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:08 PM, , links to this post




I'm A Giver


Oh, yes. Most definitely.

posted by Jordan @ 10:34 PM, , links to this post




Lunch Meat Live!!

I made my return to the Genoa Card Club in New York City last night. After a long day spent driving around NY, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island for work, I was actually looking forward to spending some relaxing time with wifey Kim and the idiot box. However, Roose kindly reminded me of the random call I made to him late last week. At the time, I was jonesing for a live game, and asked him if he's be interested in playing on Monday. He agreed. Thankfully, he also remembered. I, on the other hand, had let it slip.

I rolled up to Genoa in my sweet Chevy Malibu rental car (no Compact for me, bitch!) and found a parking spot that didn't look too dangerous. When Roose and I walked into the Club it was 7:15. The tournament start time was 7:30 and there were more staff than players (maybe 5 players, total), but we knew that by 7:45, the place would be packed.

Genoa is an interesting place. Its small, with only three tables, and while some of the players know me by face, I don't think anyone knows me by name. The staff seem to be all players who eventually went broke or decided that they might as well make their daily bread in the same way that they would be spending it later...by playing poker. They are also all courteous enough. I was sat in the 2 seat, next to an elderly woman (the only woman playing) and some guy on my right that I have totally blocked out mentally. Roose was originally at our table, but when we broke the two-table threshhold, was moved before the tournament started.

One of the odd rules at Genoa is that anyone can buy into the tournament for the first two rounds (15 minute rounds, 30 minutes total). Apparently, the rule was changed, so that any busting player can also rebuy in that period. However, if there are no seats open and there is a waiting player, the busted player must give up his seat and be placed on the alternate list. It's a terrible rule. Players who arrive on time should have priority OR it should be one buy-in per person. Instead you have people pushing all-in on the last rebuy hand, only to discover that they can't rebuy because some shmuch showed up at 8:14 for a 7:30 tournament that started at 7:45. But I digress.

My first big hand saw me in the SB with 9Ts. A player in MP/LP decided to raise from 100 to 300 and I called the 250. I had decided to play tight, but I saw an opportunity. With 9Ts, if I hit a flush, straight or two pair, I could cripple a player with a high pocket pair. As it turned out, the flop was QT9, and I checked quietly. The BB had called too, and he checked. The original bettor was the spitting image of The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy, save the wit and self-confidence. He looked like he was spooked out of his head. Out of nowhere, he bet 1000. I had about 1400 behind and pushed all-in. The BB folded. The MP/LP called. He was priced in. Before he flipped, I announced, AQ? He showed AQ. The turn and river were blanks, but from my vantage, they seemed to fill his runner runner flush. I sat down dejected, until I saw how upset he was. I squinted and saw the truth. My hand held up. Shweet!

Later, a solid player named Justin bet from 100 to 400 in EP. When it got to me in the SB, I saw two red Kings. I raised from 400 to 1400. He folded. I still liked the play. I was there to accumulate chips with minimal exposure. He was either going to fold or push back. I was ready for either.

A goofy looking bastard sat down at the table, a late edition to the festivities. He was a frat-looking white boy, with a cap on, t-shirt and jeans. He had a look of perpetual shock and bewilderment, and bushy eyebrows that constantly raised while his mouth stood agape. He also pushed all-in on his first hand and then showed his stone-cold bluff.

This was enough to scare the table, and he accumulated chips with all-ins after all-ins. He did this at least twice with a flush draw. He also raised preflop like it was going out of style, one time showing J8o. In one instance, he bluffed all-in and then mucked. He claimed he was on the flush draw again, but I saw the mucked card, and it was an offsuit 4. He probably had LESS than a flush draw. All these things told me one thing: I was going to make money off of this guy.

I was dealt A9 in the BB, and it folded to the Tool. He bet from 100 to 450, and after the elderly lady called in the SB, I called as well. The flop was Q93 with two diamonds, and the lady checked. I reached for my chips and realized that Tool had me (and everyone else) covered. Fuck him. "I'm all-in." I mirrored his all-in movement, separating my stacks and moving them around my cards on both sides. He pretended to think for a while and then folded. The lady folded too. "I learned it from watching you, kid." Someone else asked, "You had the flush draw?" I didn't respond. I was focused on the Tool. "I had a Three, but I couldn't call," he told me. "I had you beat," I responded. "I know," he said, looking smug. I love it when people say stupid shit like that. "I knew, too," I grinned wide. I knew it was a matter of time before I got more of his stack.

Unfortunately, a few hands later, the lady beat me to it. Tool bets preflop, and she raises. At that point, I folded my 66, mostly because of the lady. I would've called him in no time. She had bet out 1500 on top, a sizeable sum. He asked her how much she had left, and she said 3k or so. He announced, "I'll put you all-in," throwing six purples into the pot. She called. That's when I looked at his stack. I chimed in, "She has you covered, buddy." He was annoyed, "No, I threw in three purples for her 3,000." "Purples are worth 500. You are all-in...with 22!" By then he flipped his cards. She had 88 and rivered her full house. I was glad I had the hand read correctly. I would've re-raised him in an instant, but I knew better once the lady came in.

The blinds get high quick at Genoa, and my tight play caused me to start hemmoraging due to antes and blinds. When I was down to 2800 with 200/400 blinds, I announced that I was pretty much all-in or folding. I then got 23s on the button. I would've pushed here, but there were 4 limpers, and I didn't think I could push them all off. Instead, I call, immediately getting a reaction from a hotshot that was not in the hand. "It's the one exception to the rule." The flop came down, K22. A player UTG pushed all-in. It folded to me and I called all-in, after saying, "Do you have the K or the 2?" After I called, some other guy said, "You have the two." I realized it was my question that gave me away. I will remember that for next time. Whatever the case, UTG had slowplayed AA into oblivion.

The blinds being as high as they were, I needed to make moves, especially once we hit 400/800/75. I had about 5k. I bet 2400 on the button with T2o. I had won two pots under similar conditions earlier, and since it was folded to me, I just needed to get around the two blinds. The SB moved all-in. He was a quiet guy, and he was also the chipleader. I knew I was behind, put on a show, and folded. One guy said, "You must've had nothing, since you were pot-committed." He was right, but I still threw this at him, "Pot odds didn't make a difference. I had him read. He had TT or higher. I was on a two-outter. I had to fold." In truth, I DID put him on TT or higher. It was all in his demeanor. But fuck, folding was tough.

I went out the next hand. I had 67s and knew that if I was called by AQ or the like, at least I still had two live cards (as opposed to pushing with A2, in which case, AT or higher is going to call you and you will be crushed. Well, 99 called, and I was crushed. I went out 7th out of 27.

When I got home, I wanted to play in the Hoy. However, I wanted to spend some time with wifey Kim even more. That was it for my live poker trip. I felt like I played well. I made moves when necessary. I killed myself with the ill-timed T20 bluff, but in that spot, I still think it was a valid play. I don't even mind my laydown, although I am interested in people's opinoins. Whatever the case, I love Genoa, and I'm already anxious for the next time. Until then, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:38 PM, , links to this post




Plan Roose's Bachelor Party

Hey all. I was hanging in Casa del High when I got a call from prodigal poker player Dave Roose. As it goes, Roose is getting married sometime in the next year (wifey Kim is in charge of making sure I go, since I have no ability to remember such dates). Even more importantly, Roose is planning his bachelor party, in none other than Las Vegas! His question to me was where should we stay. I, frankly, have no idea. I've only been to Vegas once, and I stayed in the Flamingo. It wasn't a bad hotel, but it didn't amaze either. The poker room was a bit weak, but at least the crowd was youthful.

So, I ask you: Where should we stay, where should we go, and what should we do at Roose's bachelor party?

I anxiously await your response.

posted by Jordan @ 4:07 PM, , links to this post




Why I'm Not Crushing It

I received a comment from Raveen, a player whose stats, comments, and blog tell me that he is someone to be respected. The comment had some great things to say, and I'll repost them here for your pleasure:

You know jordan you seem to know the exact things on how to play limit poker profitably and it surprises me that your not crushing the limit games. I started at limit as well until i got bored of them. Seems like you know exactly what to do and have the necessary facets to do it but are just missing a little something....keep working im sure you will get there


First off, I love praise, so heap it on, buddy. Second, I'd like to address why I'm not crushing it at the tables. I do believe that I have a lot of what it takes to be a quality player. I'm naturally intelligent, with an IQ of 149 after I last checked. I understand games and gaming, and have performed well on logic puzzle-type tests, enjoy any sort of video or board game, and enjoy mental puzzles. I'm also competitive, although the usual route of competition, i.e. sports, have never been my strong point. At the core, I think I understand human nature and actions as well, but I have no reference point for that statement. Essentially, I honestly think I have some of the elements necessary to truly excel at the game. Here is why I'm not:

1. Sobriety. I have to admit that I spend an awefully large amount of my time playing poker while I am less than sober. Poker is a fun game, and I play it both compulsively and impulsively. This causes me to play less-than-optimally often enough to mess with my game and roll. In truth, I think this is one of my biggest leaks, and I will do my best to address it in the coming weeks and months.

2. Bankroll Size. I think that if I had a larger bankroll, these minor successes would be major ones. I'm up $1200 for the year so far (down from a high of $2400), but with a larger bankroll, those stakes would be higher and I confidentally believe that my results would be, for the most part, similar percentage wise, and larger $-wise.

3. Luck. I play well and I boost the roll, but then I go through a month or two of horrible beats or card dead bad luck. It happens to all of us. However, this is a loooooooooong term game, so in the short term it CAN happen to someone more than others. I'm not saying that I'm the most unlucky guy in the world. I will, however, say that in my short career, I've had at least two episodes where I could not win for a couple of months. That has been enough to keep me down, to a certain extent. My play may have also deteriorated during those tough times. I won't blame luck solely, and I point to 1 and 2, and 4 for that matter, for all those who say that I shouldn't blame luck. I don't blame luck, but I do acknowledge its presence.

4. Concentration. The bottom line is this: if you aren't giving 100% concentration to the game you are playing and someone else is, that someone else will have a step up on you. Plain and simple. I try to play with the TV off, my iPod on, and nothing to distract me. I try. But I don't always succeed.

So, that is why I am not kicking more ass. I'm sure my game could also use some refinement, but more than a few of you can attest that when I'm playing my A-game, I can do some serious damage. Unfortunately, the A stands for Apathy (because I believe in the environment, that joke was 100% recycled from a statement I made in the recent Mookie event; remember to recycle!).

Thanks for the kind words, Raveen. I still have confidence in myself and my abilities. Now I just have to fix a couple of holes and keep plugging away. Until then, make mine poker.

posted by Jordan @ 5:08 PM, , links to this post




Limit Eye for the No Limit Guy

Hey, girlfriend! I was just watching Logo when I thought I'd bring some advice to all you testosterone fueled men out there. Ok, um, enough of that.

I was lying in bed last night trying to go to sleep at a reasonable hour, but inevitably failing due to the many thoughts swirling around my head. I was down $140 or so on the night, due to a loss of $150+ at PLO8 on Royal Vegas. I was failing to hit anything, and when I tried to defend my strong hands, like top set or (actually this part is just plain stupid) top two pair, I would get called by players with draws, and they hit, hit hit. The error was on my part, mostly because two pair isn't worth defending. But I entered a 180 person SNG at Stars ($20+2) and a 2/4 Limit table at Royal Vegas in order to turn things around.

The 180 didn't go well. I was not playing my best (two-tabling is a handicap for me), and eventually got all-in with AKc v. KK. By that point, the $76 that I brought to the 2/4 Limit table had dwindled to $32 or so, after my turned straight lost to a higher rivered straight by a guy betting the whole way with Ace-high, 9 kicker. That and a couple of other discouraging hands really had me in the doldrums. I told SLB that it was my last orbit when I ended up winning a hand at the 2/4, and then another, and then got AA and won a huge pot. Five hands later, I was dealt AA again and got great value. Rejuvenated, I took some of my reclaimed profit and waited for the Mookie to start. I didn't play too well either there, but I did take an early lead, dropped due to a tough hand, and then lost it all to Smokkee who had a strong stack of over 3k at the time, compared to my 1500. I held 96o in the SB when it folded to me. I popped it from 100 to 300 and Smokkee asked if I wanted to go bust this hand. I didn't respond. He called. The flop was Ah9x6h, so I was in great shape. Smokkee asked if I hit the flop and then told me to push all-in. Frankly, his banter and the pretty flop told me I was ahead. Instead of pushing 1200 into the 600 pot, I decided to bet 600. This would keep hopefully induce an all-in re-raise from an Ace, and possibly even an all-in bluff, since my pot bet looked weak, given my stack. Smokkee obliged and re-raised me all-in. I called, and he showed 9h7h, for middle pair, flush draw...and then turned the 7.

Whatever!

So, I was lying in bed stewing over all of this, when I thought back about a conversation I had with SLB while I was playing Limit and was losing and frustrated. SLB remarked, "Limit sucks." It's a statement that I agree with, generally, but my response at that moment was, "Limit is poker, and I am a poker player." I know, it is a bit pious, but what I meant was that to me, it is important to master all of the games.

Upon more bed-induced thoughts, I determined that many a no limit player would benefit from spending some time in the limit trenches. How, do you ask? That's just what I was getting to. Since I love lists (as do we all), I will list the three things a No Limit player can learn from playing Limit Hold'em.

1. Hand Selection- In No Limit Hold'em, you can make that QdTd into a winner if you have position, balls, and a table that knows how to fold. Even with all of those things, you might be screwed in a Limit game. Above anything, Limit hold'em reinforces that hand selection is a key element of the game, and tighter hand selection is generally right.

2. One Long Session- In No Limit Hold'em, it's easy to get wrapped up in short term results. In Limit Hold'em, I've found that even though I am down to $32, I can still work it back up over $100 when the cards hit. It's all about the fact that those cards WILL hit. You will get dealt Aces eventually, so you want to be there to get paid off. It might not even be the exact session you are in, but it will occur. If you are still in the game (i.e., not broke), then you can capitalize and make back those hours of losses with a handful of well played hands.

3. Reading Players by Type- In any poker game, reading your players is useful. In Limit, it is simplified, because you see more showdowns and the decision making throughout a hand is generally limited. You don't have to read what an all-in means. All you need to know is that when you re-raise player X on the flop and he re-raises you back, he has it; if he calls, he's drawing or has middle pair; and if he folds, he's bluffing. Reading players becomes much simpler and its easier to take advantage of this information.

If you are a NL player and despise Limit, then skip it. No one is going to force you. But it isn't just NLHE poker that I love. It's the gamesmanship of poker, and that includes playing games like PLO8, Limit, Stud, and even Razz. I just like games, and that's all poker is, in its many forms.

That's it for me today. I hope you all have a lovely evening. I'll be at a VPP Freeroll at Mansion Poker along with an Online Poker Tour freeroll at Mansion as well. Maybe I'll pull my patented "all-in on every hand until I'm busted or a dominating stack" technique. If so, look out freerollers. Until then, make mine poker.

posted by Jordan @ 12:57 PM, , links to this post




Goal Tending

I had another hot night yesterday. I'm the type of player who needs some direction. That is why PSO and VPP bonuses attract me so much. I have a goal (reach the bonus), so I play accordingly, choosing games that will get me there the fastest. I suppose it is the same mentality that makes me love videogames (which I've stopped playing about a year ago after, can you believe it, carpal tunnel problems) and school, with the immediate gratification of grades (it helps when you are able to coast along).

After I finished my most recent VPP bonus at Mansion Poker (easy bonus, pain-in-the-ass site) and the 45 SNG Challenge (just out of the money!), I was wandering the poker waters without a tangible goal. I'd play some of the new HORSE on Stars, then some Chinese Poker at Nine.com, but there would be times when I didn't know what to play. I have money spread on probably at least a half-dozen sites (FullTilt, Party, Stars, Mansion, Poker.com, Nine.com, and More!), and I find myself wondering just what I want to play. After a recent event, I have found a new goal. Unfortunatley, it is one that I am loathe to follow.

I received some money from Royal Vegas because of referrals. It is not through an affiliate deal, but rather through people who had signed up for RV (generally through PSO or VPP) and used HighOnPoker as the person who first told them about the site. RV then bestowed upon me $50 per referral, which I had to play through to withdraw. The first two that I received were months (if not a year) ago. I busted quickly because of the mentality that it was free money. When I found out that I got two new bonuses, I went back to my old ways, starting with an impulsive $50 heads-up match that I destroyed. I decided to dedicate my time there to HU SNGs, which I will be getting to later, but once I reached over $100, I tried to withdraw the whole amount. I knew that RV wouldn't let me remove the original $100 they gave me for the recent referrals, but I figured the remainder would go through. To my surprise, I received an email rejecting my entire withdrawal! The reason: I had $200 to play through, not $100. Apparently, RV's memory is long, so they are counting all four of my referrals, even though the first two were long gone (both in time and in $$).

What's a man to do? Earn it, I suppose. So, you'll be seeing me at RV here and there, playing cash games and earning my way to my $200. As soon as I break $200 (we'll get to that later also), I will withdraw the extra off of the top, so that I never lose back withdrawable profit.

With this in mind, I decided to see if RV had any non-Hold'em games going. To my surprise, they had two PLO8 tables going, but they were both 1/2 blinds, higher than I am used to. With nothing to lose (literally), I bought in for $100. I then went on a tear.

Part of the fun with PLO8 is the fact that there is so many ways to win. You can win the high, the low, or scoop. You can play draws hard, or play made hands hard, and both are correct!

For the uninitiated, I'll explain my general strategy. I play any hand that has three cards from the wheel (A2345), because the real goal in PLO8 is to scoop high and low, and the wheel (being the nut low and a straight) is usually the way to do it. I also play any hand that is dominated by paint (AKQJ, and sometimes T). In both instances (wheel- and paint-heavy hands), I want an Ace. If its a royal flush-heavy hand, I want all four cards to be within the royal flush range, or I want an Ace, two other royal straight cards and a low card, so I can potentially scoop. Remember that if the paint-heavy hand hits, there may not be a low, so its a scoopable hand in and of itself. I always avoid the middle cards (7-T or even 6-J), and I loathe playing hands with three of a suit (unless it is a paint- or wheel-heavy hand). I also dislike two pair, because you can only hit so much (a set, and maybe a full house). AA in a hand helps, but its a hand you have to be ready to drop post-flop. KK might as well be crap. So, to review:

A258 rainbow - Playable, because you have a lot of the low covered, along with the three wheel cards. I'd try to limp in. If it's double suited or the Ace is suited (remember, the rank of your flush matters a lot in Omaha), then I might go in for a raise. But in general, you want players in the hand, so your hand pays off if it hits. Also beware A2 lows, since anyone else with an A2 is probably playing, so splitting the low (i.e., only 1/4 of the pot) is often financially irresponsible.

Ax6x8c9c- Fold! Unless you are in a blind, you don't want this hand. Your low will be beaten by a 56 low, so just move on.

KK66- Fold! Okay, I'll allow a limp, but only to see if you make your set on a non-threatening board. But never to a raise. If it's double-suited, then I'd encourage a limp, but still only a limp.

KQJT- Bet out! Get rid of those low draws. If you are suited or double-suited even better. Ideally, you want to hit your straight, but two pair is often okay with a hand like this, too.

AA22- Raise it up! You could potentially scoop with nut highs and lows, or even just hit one, and know you are in good shape.

A234- Wheel-heavy?! Bump it up! Then play your low draw fast and strong if it comes. After all, the rest of the players will be fearing you.

[Note: I realize two things after writing these samples. The first is that most of my samples include an Ace. That is because Aces are very important in PLO8. Some say that if your hand doesn't hold an Ace, you should fold. I won't go that far though, since I'll gladly play KQJT or 2345 or even KKQJ suited. Second, I may play some PLO8 and simul-blog, so I can go over my hand selection, since I am having so much fun analyzing the playability of hands.]

The great thing about the game, at RV at least, is that a lot of players don't give you credit for the nuts. I rivered an inside straight draw (2-6) and made a second nut low in one hand after the rivered 5. I had called middle-sized bets on the flop and turn, but when I hit the river and it checked to me, I potted it, for $105. And he called me! I assumed he had the nut-low, but no dice. Long story short, I ran rampant over the table, and after 20 minutes, turned my $100 into $270!

After that, I decided to see what else RV has to offer. That's when I found Pot Limit Seven Card Stud. It's a helluva game, since Stud is traditionally limit. The huge difference is the ability to protect your hands, as opposed to Stud, generally, when you start with QQX, but never improve, whereas your opponent with 662 calls you down only to river a 2 and take the hand. But don't take any advice from me. After 40 minutes, I lost $65. It was an interesting game, but a bit too much for me.

HU at RV has always been good to me. The blinds go up based on the amount of hands played, so I'm able to manipulate the game more. I decided to try that out as well, and while I was at it, I also started a new spreadsheet. My goal is to play 50 HU matches and determine how profitable I am. Last night I played 3 games for $20+1.50. I won the first two, and had some difficulty in the third. I was down to 35 chips, but was able to get back up to the lead! Unfortunately, a suckout took my stack, and I decided to stop for the night. I think my general rule of thumb will be to play HU until I lose one game, and then stop.

So, my goals are to finish 50 HU matches, and to clear my RV bonus. It's going to be slow goings, but at least I have a goal. Last night, I ended up over $200. It's all I can ask for. I'm not saying I'm on a heater, but I've been playing well and I have been winning cointosses. Wish me luck, because I sense I'll be back at the juicy 1/2 PLO8 soon enough. Until then, make mine poker.

posted by Jordan @ 10:31 AM, , links to this post




Hut Hoy!

Clap it up, everyone! I finally got my just-desserts.

I've been playing in the weekly blogger tourneys off-and-on for months. It occurred to me yesterday that it might be time to do a new list of the weekly tournaments, but I'll just direct you to THIS POST, which gives you most, if not all, of the pertinent details. Just note that the time for the WWDN Not (Thursdays) has been changed from 11:30pm EDT to 10:30 to accomodate East Coasters.

Last night was Mondays at the Hoy, a tournament hosted by the hammer-player himself, Hoyazo. Hoy has become a well-deserved force in the blogosphere because of his impressive MTT success and his ability to explain his play with precision and copious amounts of illustrative screen shots. I've always been impressed with what he is able to do, and I would strive to be more like him as regarding post content, but realistically, we all are what we are. Whatever the case, he's got the HoP seal of approval.

Before playing the Hoy, I enjoyed some of the ole' Leak, playing Chinese Poker at Nine.com. I actually reloaded there after I withdrew most of my funds and busted the rest on that silly Asian card game, but I reloaded up to $20 just to play some more. I lost it all last night. The game is more Pai Gow Poker than Hold'em, so you are predominantly relying on luck and cards to carry you through. I had neither.

I joined SLB159 for some $25 max NL at Stars and won a couple of bucks there. It was then that I saw the clock (9:50 pm) and decided to enter the Hoy. One of the things that makes the Hoy stand out is the higher buy-in. Realistically, $20+2 is about the right amount for the blogging crew, but a history of $10+1 events has made $10+1 the norm. It also helps budding players with small bankrolls join the fray. The Donkeys Always Draw Invitational tournaments, for instance, will likely remain $10+1. But it's refreshing to play in a tournament where the stakes matter a little more and the payout matters a whole lot.

Last night, there were 20 players. First place paid $200. I started out fairly loose. With 20 players and 9-seat tables, we were spread across three tables and my table, if memory serves correct, have 6 players. I also had caught some early cards, and was able to play position well. 6-person tables have a lot more in common with 9-person tables than they do with heads-up or three-way games. A good rule of thumb is to play the game like you are at a full table and the first three players folded ahead. In this way, UTG actually is MP, and you can make slightly more plays. But don't fool yourself, because MP is no CO or Button, so you still have to play conservatively.

I have had problems in the past in blogger tournaments, mostly because of my impulse to make plays and bluffs. I did the opposite, raising almost too much when I had hands. 22 hands into the tournament, and I had already won 7, most without a showdown. I could tell that I was not making friends at the table, so I decided to play into it, making wiseass comments and acerbic statements wherever I could. I guess Buckhoya must have gotten annoyed (moreso by my play, I am sure, which was erratic), because he offered a last-longer bet a hand after I dropped from 2200 to 1500. I had the hammer in that hand and my opponent would not let go of his cards, so I had to fold on the river after bluffing pre and post-flop. Buck probably sensed weakness, so he asked, "high, last longer bet for $10?" It was a hand later when I noticed. I looked at his 980 stack and typed, "with you?" I couldn't believe that he would be brazen enough to make a last longer bet when I had him outchipped. Before I could let him recant, I answered my own question, "done." I was not certain if the bet was officially made, but as far as I was concerned, there was an offer and an acceptance. Buck didn't respond, so I kept quiet about it, and went about playing some poker.

I dipped down to 1200, and Buck dipped to 650 or so. I tightened up, but just a tad, knowing that I could still utilize the short-handed format. This was one of the longest tournaments I have played, given the amount of players, and maybe one player (slb159) went out in the first hour. Wifey Kim was tired and decided to hit the sack. Like the good husband I am, I joined her to bed and we chatted for a bit. I thought about the game running in the other room and my dwindling stack. I also thought that it was a crappy move sitting out (at this point at or near 2k) when Buckhoya was likely trying to survive. However, family (and wifey Kim, especially) comes first, so I took my time.

When I strolled back to the living room, I was down to about 1750. Buck had about 1500, but in a short period of time, I was at 1600 to his 1800. I was one of the shortstacks at the table with 50/100 blinds, at least, but played smart. I stole where I could with less-than-optimal, but still respectable, hands. It was all about position. I believe I may've pushed on a hand on a stone cold bluff, sensing weakness, but that may just be a hazy imagined memory. I do recall that I was surprised when I checked the table lobby and found that Buck (who was at another table) had busted in 14th. Mentally, I thought I was freerolling. It was only now that I just realized that it was a $22 buyin and not $11. Whatever the case, I loosened up a bit and started getting into the groove. I also had a great time playing with Jules from Loving (& Loathing) Poker. I give her a lot of credit as a player, and I was fortunate to steal a couple of her position raises, but otherwise keep the hell out of her way.

I'm probably at my best when the blinds get high and the stacks are short. This is where I tend to get ultra-aggressive, largely because of the Rule of Ten. As a result, I began to chip up. From 2nd or 3rd shortest stack, I made my way into the middle of the pack. We were 1 hr and 45 minutes into the tournament and down to 7 or 8 players (from 20!). The players were all fairly evenly matched, both in chips and skills, due, I'm sure, to the fact that the same players show up week in/week out. Overall, though, the quality of player is impressive.

As more people dropped out, I found myself moving toward the chiplead. When we were down to 5, I was the leader, but 23skidoo was on my immediate right and was constantly nipping at my heels. I did my best to knock him down whenever I could, since I saw that he was going to be some of my hardest competition. Jecil (I'm not even going to try to remember all of the letters in that screenname) and TrophyHubby were the shorter stacks, located on my immediate left. I raised preflop with A6 only to have Trophy push all-in with TT or thereabouts. I called, since he was shortstacked, and dropped from 10k to about 6.5k, with a slight chip lead over skidoo. The very next hand, it is folded to me and I raise with J8o. This time Jecil decides to push, and rather than fold, I called him too. I believe he had about 2k in chips, and a loss would not cripple me. He had AQo and I turned an 8 to knock him out.

To the untrained eye, it looked as though I sucked out. Well, I did. But it isn't as simple as that. I was willing to gamble it up because I felt fairly confident that Jecil did not have a pocket pair. I was chipleader, and could afford a weighted cointoss in this situation. I took my chance, and it paid off. After that hand, I was back to the chipleader, on the bubble.

I believe I next took a chunk from skidoo. Trophy was running on empty though and took fourth. Skidoo was next, and it was me v. LifesAGrind heads up. By this time, it was well past midnight, and my memory was in the crapper. I had a decent chip lead and was able to bully myself into a position of dominance. I believe that Grind may've worked back some and sucked out on one hand (or not??) but eventually, I took the Hoy and the $200 first place prize ($178 profit!). It was a much needed win, and a boost to my bankroll.

Now, I am aimless at the tables. I really need to move onto my next bonus, DreamPoker through PSO. I don't have high expectations for the room, but the 6k in PSO points will afford me at least a $50 gift certificate to Absolute Poker, and maybe even a $100 gift certificate to Party, if I can muster up another 1k in PSO points via referrals. In the meanwhile, I find myself wandering the poker realm trying to decide just what to do. I guess for the time being, I can't go wrong with the blogger tourneys. Until then, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:19 AM, , links to this post




HU Strategy: Blinds by Hand v. Blinds by Time

I've been playing a slew of HU poker and have had some great success. Sunday was particularly great. I had started the day playing HORSE on Stars (1/2 Limit), but hit a period of dead cards and missed draws to find myself down $35 or so. I had won that amount twice-over the day before, but I just didn't feel like the HORSE was working for me, so I decided to change it up.

Heads-up SNGs are a great thing if you are looking for a quick game with a beginning and an end. That was exactly what I was looking for, so I decided to fire up Royal Vegas, where I received some bonus dollars that I had to clear to withdraw. I have kept Royal solely for the HU SNGs, since I don't feel like taking the effort to actually grind out the raked hands required to withdraw, but I knew I could withdraw any profit. With this in mind, I put it all on the line with a $50 HU SNG. It was a quick win, due to my expert play (I only joke a minor fraction). I was able to get my opponent to push all-in with middle pair to my top pair, and when I called, I knew I was good.

I then withdrew my funds (I attempted to withdraw it all), and since Royal will take 2 days just to reject the original bonus withdrawal, found myself with no money to play HU. With that in mind, I moved over to Poker.com, where I have had some mixed HU SNG success in the past. One of the great things about Poker.com is that they actually have some traffic in their HU Omaha (Hi and Hi/Lo) tournaments. My general strategy was to peruse the rooms and find one with a player already waiting. Then I'd join, win and leave. In total, I won five or six of these SNGs in a row before losing one. Part of what made it interesting was that I would enter whichever tournament had another player waiting. So, I played two $10, one $5, and two $20 (one of which, I lost).

Across the board, I realized something. Both Poker.com and Royal Vegas raise the blinds after a certain amount of hands (it may have been 10 hands on Royal, 8 on Poker.com). Other sites, including PokerStars and (I believe) Full Tilt raise the blinds based on time. The difference between the two may seem minor, but in fact, it is a huge difference, especially if you are a student to the game, and are willing to use any edge available.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the Inverse Theory of Aggression in Heads-Up games. The basic concept (created by yours truly) held that you should be your most aggressive when you are even stacks. As you start to take the lead or start to become shortstacked, you should tighten up. As you near the end-game when one player is on the felt, you should return to ultra-aggressive poker.

Interestingly, if you are playing a HU tournament with timed blinds, I would hold true to the Inverse Theory of Aggression. However, if you are playing a tournament in which the blinds raise based on the amount of hands played, some adjustment is necessary.

In the early stages, when blinds are low, you can fold a lot easier. Some actually believe that folding is a very aggressive play, and I'm inclined to agree. By folding your small blind with less-than-optimal hands, you do three things: (a) you control the pace of the game INCLUDING the blinds, (b) you move the game along to when the blinds matter and stealing is more important, and (c) you build an image that you are weak and encourage your opponent to play loose at you in the later rounds.

Controlling the pace is actually quite useful. It allows you to set the rhythm of the game, since your opponent will be reacting to your constant folds. Your folds are not dependent on your opponent, because in the SB you have no information on your opponents cards/action, and in the BB, your opponent's raising range can be anything in a HU tournament, from a pocket pair to JTo to Ax to even 34s. Meanwhile, your opponent will be eying your play and mentally preparing to act accordingly when the action heats up. More importantly, whereas he is paying attention to your play, you are forcing the game to move forward and are keeping an eye on the amount of hands until the next blind. You are entirely in control of the game (save the luck of the cards), and you will be ready when the blinds move from the innocuous to the deadly.

Moving the blinds are important, because in the early-goings, a general raise could be a minimum bet to about 3-4x the BB. You might be able to convince your opponent to call a siginficant raise preflop (think 10x the BB, which might actually matter when you compare the early BB to the starting stacks), but more likely than not, he will fold unless he is holding good cards. In later rounds, a minimum bet/call is enough to build a substantial (and steal-worthy!) pot. As a result, those first rounds are little more than a warm-up. It's a chance to get to know your competitor, and for him to get to know you.

If you start folding with K5 in the SB, T8o, etc. your opponent will gain nothing. When he is in the SB, you, however, will see him complete, raise, or maybe even fold once he sees what you are doing. If you see him complete, then you don't get much in the way of information immediately, but you will once you see the flop. If he raises, then you can get a feel for how often your opponent raises. He may be dealt pocket pairs for six out of the first eight hands, but its a lot more likely that he is a betting fool, and you will make him pay for that later. Finally, if he folds his small blind, beware. He is a smart player, and he sees that you are tightening up. He knows he can dump some small blinds without fear, either because he, too, realizes that the blinds are low, or, more likely, he feels that he gets your SB so he can fold his SB if he doesn't like what he sees without incurring a net loss.

Perhaps I am making this too complicated. The point is, when you push the game forward, you can get yourself to a point where the blinds matter. Then you can start betting like a madman, exploiting your tight image (image actually DOES matter in online HU play, as opposed to some online ring games where players come and go or play while watching TV) and your read on your opponent. This is when your opponent starts to make plays with middle-pairs, trying to regain his fleeting dominance from earlier, cheaper rounds. In the meanwhile, you push your edges and push your decent hands even harder.

This simply does not work in timed-blind HU SNGs. Instead of 10 hands of 10/20, you face several minutes or so of that level. In any minute, heads up, you will play countless hands, especially if your strategy is to fold your SB at the slightest provocation. As a result, your folding gets you nowhere but shortstacked. There, you are better off playing your real game from the get-go, establishing dominance (or subservience) as you work your opponent into a rhythm that you hope to exploit in the later, higher-blind rounds.

I suppose it also serves to mention that HU SNGs where both players have 1000 starting chips (for example) is not a game of stealing 10/20 blinds or even 60 pots. It's a game of $100-200 blind steals or earned pots. The rest is merely posturing, establishing dominance, and setting patterns.

I hope this is somewhat coherent. I never outline these things. I just let it out. Whatever the case, I'm now aching to go home and play HU poker. Maybe I'll start my own HU challenge and play 50 or so. We shall see. Until then, make mine poker.

posted by Jordan @ 3:33 PM, , links to this post




Reviews: K-Fed on a Mansion-Sized Plane

I have a trio of reviews for you, spanning from poker to the absurd. Let's get right to it with a review of Mansion Poker, the site that brings you speed poker on Fox Sports Net (I think it's on FSN, but with all of the terrible poker shows around, who can be sure).

Mansion Poker

What Mansion Poker lacks in traffic, it makes up for in its infuriating cashout process. Yes, there is little redeeming about this crappy site. If you are lucky, you can find one or two tables that are not NL ring games. IF you are lucky. Most likely, your only choice will be what stakes of NL ring game you'll be playing for the evening.

The SNGs are always available, if you have 45 minutes to wait for a 6 person SNG to fill up. If that doesn't work, you can enter one of their scheduled tournaments. They run one every hour (or every four hours at certain times which I am sure coincide with Great Britain's overnight hours), but the field may look suspiciously like an SNG, and you may have a much longer wait if you actually care what stakes you play.

Depositing is easy. Withdrawing, not so much. Mansion is one of the few sites that require picture ID before you can withdraw funds. Assholes. If they need a picture ID, why not get it when I'm depositing the funds! At least let me know that it is required. Instead, when I'm fed up with the site, I find out that I have to wait several weeks between my procrastination and the mail in order to get my money. Shame on you, Mansion! Shame indeed.

Oh, and Speed Poker at the Poker Dome can suck my balls. I know two of the blogger bretheren have made it onto the show, and congratulations to her. Of course, if given the opportunity, I would be right there as well. But the show is just plain silly. Part of the fun of poker is the fact that each decision matters, and there is so much information available. 15 seconds is not enough to watch the players think, act, read other players. It's like playing football with only two downs. Mansion, get the fuck out of here!

Snakes on a Plane

It wasn't all crap this weekend. I was happy to have finally convinced someone (anyone!) to see Snakes on a Plane! Bro in law Marc had enough of a sense of humor to join me yesterday afternoon. Here's the best advice I can give: See it in a movie theatre as soon as possible! It's the type of movie where you want to be in a crowded theatre (hence the urgency) because the rowdiness of the audience will just add to the show. It is the first time I was actually glad that some inconsiderate pricks would not shut up one row behind me. Their commentary was mostly crappy attempts to sound witty, but there was someone else to scream OH! when a snake found its intended target. On that note, these were the horniest snakes ever!

K-Fed on the Teen Choice Awards

Finally, K-Fed! I was very disappointed a mere week or two ago when I realized I missed the Miss Teen USA competition, so there was no chance in hell I was missing the Teen Choice Awards. A funny thing about those awards. At the end, before the credits, there is a big disclaimer. Wifey Kim insisted on pausing the DVR. Basically, it states that the finalists are chosen by ballot, and then Fox and some company called Teenosaurus Rox chooses the winner. Very pathetic. It's also probably why the guests who attended were invariably the winners in their categories.

But that's not what I wanted to discuss. Here it is: K-Fed didn't suck! In fact, he was pretty good. He worked the stage, was smart enough to have dancers showcased (that weren't him) so you didn't focus too much on Mr. Spears, and his rap had a definite beat to it. He's no Dr. Dre, and not even an Eminem, but he's no Vanilla Ice either. So, I'm going to go out on a limb and say this: Good luck to you, Mr. Fed. May you continue to not suck into the foreseeable future.

Now, onto some pokery goodness. Fuck the 45 SNG Challenge. That's a bit harsh, but I did end up placing 5th (top 4 spots pay). In the end, though, I had a great time. Thank you, Drewspop.

Poker is back on track. I had a couple of nice evenings, Friday and Saturday, but ended up down $1.75 on Sunday. I look forward to some of the Blogger events this week. I have some thoughts on HU play that I might get to later in the week (or day), but for now, have a great Monday. And in the meanwhile, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:37 AM, , links to this post




You Decide #41

This is a hand that occurred a couple of weeks ago. I was perusing my "Drafts" on Blogger and came across it. When I type a hand history, I usually cut and paste the hand history into Blogger first and then come back the next day to turn it into something readable. I don't knock anyone who posts a bare hand history, but for my tastes, something a bit more narrative is always preferrable. Since I don't remember this hand and I sure as hell have not reviewed it yet, I'm going to be reading this thing as I go. Let's see where we end up.

It's an $11+1 tournament, in the 2nd level (15/30), so it's probably a 45-person Turbo SNG. I'm sitting on 1455, so it looks like I've been folding for the first level. Butchy has 1380. I'm on the button with 6d8d. I can already tell that this is going to be fun!

Butchy in MP limps. Cinch in the CO calls. I call. The blinds call as well. Five to the flop.

The flop is As 6c 8s. Now, right away, we are dealing with the good and the bad. The good is that any strong Ace will think that he is in good position with TP good kicker. The bad is the flush draw out there. The great thing is that both suggest one thing: bet big. You can push out the draws and keep the Ace in the hand this way. It checks to me, and since I'm in position, any bet will appear like a steal. I bet 200 into a 150 pot. Butchy calls, but the rest fold.

The turn is a Qh. Overall, this is an awesome card. The only thing it helps is AQ, but most players would have raised preflop with AQ. It certainly doesn't help the flush draw. It's checked to me, and right here, I'd suggest a bet of 550 at least, which is the size of the pot. With only 1224 left though, I actually push all-in. It's not a bad move. Checking is out of the question. Any pot-sized bet will commit me. I can get the maximum value by looking weak and tempting the Ace to call with top pair, while scaring away the draw. The pot is 550, so if I win it straight out, its still a nice profit for an early hand.

Now, here is when things get interesting. I guess I didn't push all-in. Instead, I Hoy (all-in except for 1 chips, so you can chat). Then I start goading butchy. My exact quotes are, "bring it" and "come on butchy." Sure enough, he calls...with Qs9s. The river is a Td, and he misses his flush. I take down 2850 with two pair.

Not much to say about this hand. The goading was a bit ballsy. Perhaps someone has a different opinion. I'm sure I'm going to hear someone say something about how stupid it is to play gap suited cards in the early stages of an MTT, but the position mattered a lot, along with the copious limpers and the potential to fold easily if I miss. Chew on it, give it a little taste, and then tell me what you think.

Oh, and I'm glad I won the hand. I generally put real F' ups as my You Decide, so maybe this will convince some of you detractors that I'm not a complete donkey.

posted by Jordan @ 12:02 PM, , links to this post




$40 Socks

Summer in NYC can be a real bitch. When its 80 degrees outside, its 95 on the subway platforms. Being the clever guy that I am, I came up with a way around waiting for a subway in 95 degree heat while wearing my lawyer-wear. The answer came in the quick change. I go to work in sandals and shorts, usually wearing my dress shirt like I'm some reject from an Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue. By all appearances, I look like a shlub, maybe a messenger, student or mailroom worker. But I'm comfortable.

The thing is, I can be forgetful at times. I left my work shoes in the office last night, and packed work pants and a belt so that I can make the quick change once I hit the office. It isn't that anyone would have a problem with my civies (i.e., civilian clothes). It's just that I have to look the role for my clients, and it doesn't help to look the role for my superiors either.

So, imagine my surprise when I look into my bag and realize that I forgot dress socks. This isn't the first time this has happened. Last time, I had yesteday's worn socks still in my bag, and pulled the ole' inside-out used-socks manuever to hide my sockless shame. This time, however, I was out of luck...sorta. Fortunately, there is a Gap across the street, and off I went in search of cheap dress socks.

The socks at the Gap (in NY, anyway) cost $4. I grabbed one pair and made my way to the counter, when a thought occurred to me. I needed Emergency Socks for any future forgetfulness. Once I reached the sock rack, I couldn't help but notice the "3 for $10" stickers. Done and done. I made my way back to the counter with my three pairs of black socks, but to my dismay, a woman was already there, not 5 minutes after the store openned with enough clothing to keep her 12 member family warm for the winter and back again. As I waited, I noticed a polo shirt, bright aqua blue with yellow stripes. Damn, that'd look good on me. I grabbed it on impulse.

When I got to the register, the discontent employee rang me up: $40. That's some fucking expensive socks.

I can afford it though, after last nights successful play. I started the evening with my 13th (out of 15) 45-person SNG, for the 45 SNG Challenge II. While I have created these Challenges, I rarely money. It works like this: several bloggers, in this case 20, put up a prize pool ($25/pp) and then play 15 45-person SNGs at their own pace over a month. This cycle of the 45SNGC has been ran by Drewspop, and he's doing a great job. Sowbug was nice enough to set up a program so all we have to do is email him the tournament number. When we money, we forward the automatic email received from PokerStars. The results are then displayed at THIS WEBPAGE. If you've gone to that last link, you may've seen HighOnPoker listed in second place (ok, actually third once its update to include Drewspop's recent 2nd place finish).

As I was saying, I played the 13th last night, a $6.50 turbo, and was doing well. I was facing the usual suckouts, including a very early round play when I got my opposition all-in with KT and a TQx board against my pocket Ks. I was ecstatic at first, but the Jack turn and Ace river made it a chop. Even so, I avoided tilt, played well, but went out in 22nd on some hand that I just can't recall. While I was playing the turbo, though, I could feel that it was unlikely that I would money. I think at that point I was down to 500 or so in an early round (I did, eventually, come back before my demise). I decided to enter my 14th tournament, a $10+1 regular 45-person SNG.

I could go through details, but let's get to the chase. I moneyed in 2nd in my 14th attempt. I was giddy, mostly because I was playing like gangbusters, whooping ass left and right. At the final table, I had 45k four-handed, with more chips than all of my competitors combined. I think the only questionable play I made was early, when I called an all-in with TT against a fairly even stack when he pushed after a raise. I read his overzealous bet as weaker than TT and I was right. He had AKo. My TT held up, and while it was a dangerous move for an SNG (and even moreso because of the 45 SNGC) there is some great validity to busting early or going home in these things. Heads-up didn't last long. I was ahead 2:1 against my opponent, but he won two cointosses that would give him the win. Still, a $86 profit isn't bad.

The Mookie was fun too. I actually busted in 8th or 7th, just out of the money to a hand that may or may not be classified as a bad beat. I'd like your opinions on that question. I held KK and raised from 800 to 2400. I was making that same raise left-and-right. This time, Xanthius, the huge chipleader, called in the SB, so I had position. The flop was QQ2. It was checked to me and I bet out 3600. He reraised me back. I pushed all-in. He called...with Q2. So, the money went in when he was ahead, but was it a bad beat, since I was dominating preflop? I'm guessing the answer is no, but I will say that it was a suckout on the flop. I suppose in the end, it was my fault. Laying down KK would not be easy, and I don't think I'd do it more than 1 in 100 times in this situation, but it would have been the right move (results-wise). Eh, what can you do?

So, I had a profit last night, and I may money in the 45 SNGC. Thank fucking god.

Tonight I'll be in New Jersey visiting wifey Kim's friends and their new baby. Yes, they are the first of the crowd. Fortunately, wifey Kim and I are not having kids for another 15 years (and that number NEVER gets lower, even as years pass). Until then, we'll just be watching my parents' cat, Ernie, and thanking the lord (and Mama High) for Ernie's newly trimmed claws. Ah! I guess waking up in the middle of the night to dancing paws on your face is better than waking up to that feeling of 1000 papercuts. Love those cats!

posted by Jordan @ 9:44 AM, , links to this post




In Hiding

Do I have to post?

Yes, yes you do.

Why? Can't I just skip a day? I don't have anything good to say.

I don't give a shit. You have a blog, you are a blogger, now fucking blog.

No need to get so snippy. But I don't want to blog about my bad players and badder beats.

Do you have anything else to blog about?

Not really...

Then get to it!

Fine, but I'm not sending anyone any dollars.

I just want to hide my head. In an attempt to stave off the fear of poker following my big loss two nights ago, I switched to some 50 max PLO8 yesterday with SLB159. SLB was able to win $3 before he realized that we were actually in a No Limit Omaha 8 or better room. Duggle stopped by and stuck with his blog name by claiming that he would never play No Limit Omaha because he is a purist. Maybe my sensitivity level is a bit higher than usual, but when I hear someone say that they are a purist, I can't help but catch a whiff of high-horsing. After all, if he is a purist, then what does that make me? That's right, a dirty, tainted degenerate. Oh wait, my bad. He was right.

I figured NLO8 would actually be good. After all, I imagined the unexperienced would play there. I immediately figured out a tell/read that worked across the board. If a player bet huge, they had it. I then called a redonkulously high bet into a x333x board with KKxx in my hand, only to come across a slow-playing 3xxx. Yep, down $20, I got the fuck out.

I decided to call it a night until Veneno convinced me to stick around. The one light spot in my game lately has been at HU and I easily convinced V to get a 4-person HU SNG going at Tilt. SLB and Duggle joined. Unfortunately, my girlie yahoo chat wasn't working and V gave the signal to enter the SNG when I had yet to get over the correct window. Consequently, the three other bloggers player a 4p without me. I decided to try one on my own.

The light is still there. My HU play is tight, and I dominated the action. I was up 1400-600 when I bet preflop with AdJs, knowing full well that my opponent was getting desperate. The flop was 6cJcQx, and I bet pot. He pushed all-in and I confidentally called. He held Jh7c, and I was way ahead...until the turn and river were clubs and he doubled-up off of me on a runner-runner flush. $1 down, $1 to go.

So be it! I started to fight my way back, now with a shorter stack and the pressure on. I was down to 300 at one point, but was up to 700 when I held TT. Cold, I raised all-in, knowing that my opponent was dumb as rocks. He called with AT, and hit his Ace on the flop.

I cursed the game of poker. I shut down my computer. And I sat there bewildered.

Bad beats happen. It's just been tough. All day its been tough. I keep replaying the stupid NLO8 hand (it was the first thing I thought of when I went to bed and the first thing I thought of when I awoke). I've been snippy with wifey Kim, and I'm not keen about my parents dropping off the devil cat later today. They want to go to dinner (on their dime), and while I should be 100% for it, instead I just want to be left alone. Wifey Kim is going to watch Project Runway at her friend's place, so its just me, Ernie (the cat), and poker, once my parents are gone.

I am really beginning to understand why this poker-centric life is not what its cracked up to be. I will overcome, though. The passion of poker rages through my veins. There are no two ways about that. So, do me a favor; say a little prayer for me. I'm pleading directly to the poker gods (and Jehovah, Jesus, Adonai, Buddha, the Dali Lama, Vishnu and Allah, just to be safe), "I've made my penance. Now, free me from these shackles of bad luck."

So, um, that's my post. And if you don't like it, I'll play you heads up for $1000!

posted by Jordan @ 6:12 PM, , links to this post




Moby Dicked


Hmmm....where to start? Last night was my biggest losing night ever. (Breathe, Jordan, breathe!). What happened? I'll tell you what.

My first $100 was lost due to a bit of overzealousness. I won't fully recount the hand, but let's put it this way: You will not successfully push someone off of their hand if they flop a full house. Instead, you will lose your entire stack. It wasn't like I was stone-cold bluffing. I had an A9 on the AQQ flop, but clearly that wasn't enough. I just couldn't help myself though.

Let's ignore the $10+1 SNG or the $20+2 MTT, both of which were failures. I had some momentum in the SNG before my life was cut short (was it a suckout? I can't remember.). The real centerpiece to this story is the $130 I lost playing 3/6 Limit.

First, let me just acknowledge that $130 is not a big loss in 3/6. It's just a tad over 20 BB, which can be expected. The terror came in the form of a player names Sasa. He is the Moby Dick to my Captain Ahab. Mansion Poker (via VegasPokerPro.com) was my Pequod.

Sasa's Moby Dick designation is correct on at least two levels. First, Sasa was a fish of MONSTRUOUS proportions. I quickly realized that he called anything down, and waited for a check to bet and steal the pot. He made this "clever" play with such premium hands as JTo when he failed to hit the board. Seeing as how he was doing this in three out of four hands, I decided that I was going to loosen up against Sasa and do my best to isolate.

Unfortunately, my plan worked. I got Sasa heads up, and he repeatedly outdrew me. In one particular hand that left me gasping for air, I held K9d and raised preflop. Sasa called. The flop was AJ9, and I decided to bet. To my expectations, Sasa called. I have to admit, though, I feared that he had caught me with a Jack or Ace. I'd played with him enough though, so on the turn, I bet again. Sasa called. The river was a Ten, and I was staring at the face of several over-cards. Even so, Sasa could have been calling with anything. I was willing to call one bet, but I didn't want to give him a chance to raise me, so I checked to him. Like clockwork, he bet out. I called. He showed KTo. The fucker three-outted me on the river. Worse, I had him read correctly the entire way.

Lest you think that this is merely a bad beat post, I really want to go a bit deeper than that. Bad beats happen, so I'm accepting of them. What I found most difficult is the balancing act between accepting that it is not your night and taking advantage of a good situation. What is a man to do? I could just walk away, but then when luck turns, the fishy Sasa would be served to other, more patient players. I could continue to push forward, but admittedly, I was feeling fatigued and I didn't want to play anymore.

Unlike Ahab, I accepted my fate. Sasa had taken my leg, but I was not going to continue this fight, lest he destroy my ship and send me to the depths of the sea. I closed Mansion Poker and joined wifey Kim on the couch. Throughout the night, I looked longingly at the computer, but thought to myself that it was over. I would not win enough of my money back to make it worthwhile. Tomorrow is a new day.

Today, that "new day" I just mentioned, well, I woke up with the number stuck in my head. The number of my big loss. I went back to bed and when I awoke, the number was still there.

For the year, I am now up probably $700 if that. Mere months ago, that number was more like $2400. I've been patrolling the blogosphere, and I realize that I am not the only one on a downswing. In fact, just last year, I had the same thing happen. There was a period of probably two months where I lost my profits for the year. By year end, I was able to turn things around and reach my goal of $1200 in profit for the year.

Earlier this year, I adjusted my $1800 goal, but I'm reverting back. Perhaps this is just how things are. I want to rise above it, but I can't rise above the realities of poker. You will lose. You will lose in streaks at times. The only thing I can do is to keep improving on my game. Yesterday is gone.

But you better believe that I will be searching for Sasa tonight. This isn't over Moby, not by a longshot.

posted by Jordan @ 8:34 AM, , links to this post




EW Bitch Slaps Doyle Brunson

In a shocking sign that Poker is not as Mainstream as we all thought, Entertainment Weekly, in their August 18th issue had this to say about the upcoming poker-themed movie, "Lucky You":

"For [Eric, the Incredible Hulk] Bana, who shot Lucky You before taking on the lead role in Steven Spielberg's Munich, the struggle was not conjuring his characters emotions but rather sustaining his interest in the endless hours spent at the poker table. '[Director] Curtis [Hanson] was so intent on each detail being right, and it meant thousands of hours playing the same hand over and over, says the actor, sho spent months under the tuteladge of poker legends like Dale Brunson." (bold added).
I mean, come on EW! It's one thing if you spell Matusow wrong, but this is Doyle "Texas Dolly" Brunson. A simple internet search would've sufficed as fact-checking here.

I'll let it slip this time, EW, but only because you've proved that poker is still not mainstream enough. Oh, and Bana, this movie better not suck as bad as the Hulk, or I'm holding you responsible, buddy.

posted by Jordan @ 10:05 PM, , links to this post




The Leak: Chinese Poker


This is the third installment of the leak, and I'm quickly learning why my bankroll takes random drops. This time we are focusing on the black-hole of money known as Chinese Poker. Chalk this up as another innovation of the Chinese, along with iron, noodles and firecrackers. Love them firecrackers!

Here is how Chinese Poker works:

Each player (maximum of four) is given thirteen cards. You then arrange the cards into three poker hands. The first (back hand) and second (middle) hand consist of five cards. The third hand (front hand) is three cards only. You cannot have a flush or straight in the three-card hand. The best you can have is three of a kind. The first hand must be your highest hand, followed by the second and third.

When all players are done setting their hands, they reveal and players get one unit for each hand they beat. So, if it is heads-up, and I have a fullhouse, three-of-a-kind, and Ace-high, and you have a flush, a straight, and a pair of twos, then you win one unit (I win one for the fullhouse, you win one for the straight, and you win a second one for the twos). If you are playing with more than two players, you compare each players hand to each other players hands. So, if player A beats two out of three of player B's hands, and loses two out of three to player C's hands, and player B gets whalloped on all three hands against C, A would win 2 units from B but pay 2 to C (0 units total), player C would win 3 units from B and 2 from A (+5 units), and player B would pay 2 to A and 3 to C (-5 units). Units are decided at buy-in ($1, for example).

There are two set of rules for Chinese Poker: East and West. In West, the player that wins a majority of the hands win an extra unit. In East, there are bonus units for particular hands. These include Straight Flushes (5 for the back, 10 for the middle), four-of-a-kind (4 for the back, 8 for the middle), Fullhouse in the middle (2), and three-of-a-kind in the front (3). If your opponent has the same bonus hand, but it is lower than yours, you win double.

In West or East, there are also "Clean Sweep Hands" that are above and beyond the usual hands. In order of strongest to weakest (with explanations and units earned in paranthesis), they are: the Dragon (one of each rank; 13), 13 Colors (all cards are black or red; 13), 12 Colors (3), 6-Pair (3), 3 Straights (3) and 3 Flushes (3).

So, there it is in short form. They have the game at Nine.com, where I am grinding out the last 400 out of 2200 points needed to earn my $150 deposit bonus. Should you play the game? I do, but only when I know I am donking around. I've gotten better at setting hands, and there is some strategy once you see how your opponents set theirs (some go for the high front hand, while others utterly ignore it and just place the leftovers there, for instance), but it still is a game that seems to grossly depend on luck.

If you care to give Chinese Poker a try, check out Nine.com (it may be elsewhere). But I'd suggest signing up via VegasPokerPro.com. I did, and I already received my 750 VPP Points (which I used, together with other points, for a $100 iTunes Gift Certificate). It only requires 500 points, I believe, so my suggestion is to deposit the minimum and then immediately deposit addition dough as you desire. This way, when you are done with the VPP bonus, you will also finish (or be near finishing) the Nine.com cash bonus. Good luck, and play safely.

posted by Jordan @ 9:25 AM, , links to this post




Doing Time

I played the Mookie last nice and utterly embarassed myself. I can't help but think of SirFWALGman as a loose madman at the table. It's far from the truth. I had a nice stack when I eventually called his all-in with top pair shitty kicker. As soon as I lost, I closed the window, transfered the $11 last longer bet to SteelerJosh and shut off my computer. At least I can hide from my shame.

But, man, I love that Mookie.

Before I get to my post-in-full, for any of you players/bloggers who are in the market for a headphone/microphone headset, there is one on sale now at Woot.com for $20, $5 shipping. For the uninitiated, Woot is a great site that offers one product for sale each day, usually at a deep discount. Even though I am not looking for anything in particular, I check it daily just to see whats for sale. It's usually tech related, except for the occassional golf club or bag-o-crap. Why would you need this? You don't. But on occassions, some folks like to voice chat on the girlie chat thing during a tournament. I haven't done it in a while, but it is light-years better than typing into a chat box between hands. Instead, just play your game and chat away.

Now, its time for some random poker pontifications. I actually wrote this about a week ago, but didn't post it for some unknown reason. Enjoy:

The Circuit podcast has been a boon for me, intellectually. It has provided me with some great material that has made its way into this here blog. For the most part, I just hear something and its like a light goes off in my head. As per usual, my interests usually lie in considering some of the unconventional aspects of the game, and this post is no exception.

In a recent episode of The Circuit, one of the hosts commented on an idea from Barry Greenstein. According to the host, Greenstein stated that the optimal way to play online poker was to have sessions of about one and one-half to two hours at the longest.

There is a lot of logic behind this idea. After a while, attention does drop off. One can only look at a series of pixels for so long before the desire to get up and walk around kicks in. Or maybe it is more that desire to check your email, IMs, or what's on the television. Even without these distractions, fatigue sets in. Concentration drops off and suddenly you are no longer actively playing poker. You are on auto-pilot and playing worse than when you were actively engaged in the game.

Of course, for long form tournaments (my utterly made-up name for large field MTTs), you will need to play for more than an hour and a half. That would be the exception. Otherwise, I'm sure I would do myself well to walk away after a bit. In fact, I sort of do this now. I'm sure bloggers like Slb, GCox and Trip will attest to my usual style of playing a tournament and then "taking five" when I'm out. I need a bit of a brain reboot; some time away to make sure that I am still sharp and ready to go, as opposed to still in the zombie-poker mode and ready to continue.

What I find particularly interesting is that the opposite is true for live games. The longer I sit at a live game, the better I play. I always assumed that there was more going on. More to watch, more to learn, more to keep me plugged into the action. I'm sure that is part of the reason why I get better as time passes. Reads are more crucial, so the longer I am at the table, the longer I am able to gather those reads. I also feel the rhythm of the action a lot better as time passes when I play live (that rhythm again). Perhaps the lack of distractions (yes, even in a casino) is a factor as well. All said, I'm not sure why my game improves the longer I play live. These reasons aside, there must be something else.

Another conundrum. Play online for short sessions. Play live for long sessions. But it's all poker. Thoughts?

posted by Jordan @ 1:04 PM, , links to this post




A Very Roose AC (AC Trip Report Pt 4)

We are going to try something a little different today at High On Poker. My main man Roose, brother from a different mother, partner in crime, and life of the party, has bestowed us with a trip report of his own. So I'll let him do the heavy lifting today. Here goes nothing:

AC Trip ala Roose

After the Showboat buffet, which I believe to be the better of the boardwalk buffets, we each headed our own separate ways to "empty" ourselves which most buffets do to you time after time. Said goodbye to the 'rents and headed to the poker room for the 10 pm tournament, which as you know I chopped first in. Just keep this in mind, this was my first big tournament win, and certainly not my last. Some highlights, as soon as I sat down, I immediately scoped out the players that I wanted to keep an eye on and the ones that I knew were weak. Jordan to my right in the #9 seat and me in the #1 seat, I see this guy to my left who looked about mid 40s, like he's been playing a while and knew what he was doing. Lo and behold, he raised in position, re-raised when he saw weakness and folded when he knew he was beat. He was a good player. BHAM, my number one victim to take out. Unfortunately he was the one to take Jordan out early, and I vowed to take him out for revenge. I know this is not the way to play, but sometimes, you gotta represent your friends at the table. I believe I was the dealer, first to act folded went around with 1 other person calling, with AKs in my hand and position, I knew I was strong. With blinds only being 100-200 I knew people would call if I minimum raised them, so I rasied to 800. Good player to my right re-raises me thinking I'm #1 weak, or #2 playing position. Big blind folds, and the caller folds, heads up, exactly where I wanted him to be. Flop is 4-A-K, he immediately raises to 1000, I knew at that point I had him, just whether or not to just smooth call or re-raise. I smooth call the 1000 and the turn is a 10. I immediately put him on AT and with no flush draws out there, I was hoping he had AT. The two famous words that I love to hear "All In" was shouted and I call, with the blank on the river Mr. Good Player is out of the tournament. I go over to the cash table where Jordan is and tell him of my vengeful takedown, and knew my job was done and I can now continue playing tight until I reach the final table. At one point, this old man, who caught KK 3 times and QQ twice took a huge chunk out of my stack and I was down to maybe 300 chips or so. I get moved over to a smaller table where the old man was sitting to my right and I even told him before we started at that table that I would get my chips back. With 3 double ups against him, I got my chips back and more. the table was flabbergasted. When I reached the final table, I played tight again, only raising in position and folding most hands trying to climb the ranks by watching others go out. For the most part that plan worked, I ended up taking 2 of them out myself and with only 5 positions paying out, I had to sit back a little. When I kenw I was in the money, I loosened up a little, raising with mediocre hands and at that point I was big stack, so I was playing it well, some of them even commented on it and I loved every minute of it. Eventually there was 3 of us left, this one girl was playing tighter than a virgin hooker (Jordan comment: I would've also excepted "tighter than a frog's ass"). I had A5c, I raised, she went all in, I called and she flipped over AJ. Basically, I caught the straight on the river and she was pissed. Hey man, that's poker :-). Finally, my best game at hand, heads up, this russian guy knew I wasn't playing around, with him the chip leader by about 50,000, we both knew it would be over in a few hands. So he announces those beautiful words... "do you want to chop?" I almost jumped up from my chair and kissed him. With Randy and Robby Hole behind me cheering me on, they were as excited as I was, and at that point, we all knew it was going to be a good weekend...

Now with Jordan explaining the craps, the poker, the strippers, and Ilan placing 4th out of 113, we were all riding high. After a weekend like that, who could complain? As everyone left, including Jordan, it was me, Robby Hole and Randy Hole left deciding whether or not to go to the Borgata poker room to play a sit 'n go before we headed out, which I have never been to before and was pretty anxious about getting to. After about 20 seconds or so, we decided it was time to move out and headed to the Borgata. I never liked the Borgata as a whole, the table games were all $25 + and the people seemed a little too snobbish. But let me tell you, I have NEVER seen a poker room like this. I kenw it was going to be big, but damn!! I now believe in love at first site, the colors, the feel, the atmosphere, the space, the layout, I almost creamed my pants right there. Anyway, we all decide to check out the tournament situation, and with the lowest Sit N Go being $60+15, my name was on that list faster than you can say double fudge packer with dressing on the side. (Jordan comment: Knowing Roose, the dressing is Creamy Italian). At that point, Randy announced he was hungry, so they pointed him downstairs to the food court. Robby and I head over to get a poker card and lock in our seat. Randy was nowhere to be found, looks like he was going to miss the tournament while waiting for the big 30 min. burger, gotta suck. Of course, before the tournement started, I do my scoping of the table, wasn't much at all. Except for the "talker" who was trying to get everyone to have a good time, being a talker can have its ups and downs and you'll see why in a second. Naturally, Robby sits to my right and the talker to my left. I feel like there was a clown to the left of me and I was stuck in the middle :-). The cards are dealt out and the tournament on the way, my hands still shaking with excitement, it was a great table, and mostly because of that "talker." I can tell he was a decent player, a little too aggressive for my taste, but a good player. I could also tell because the dealer knew him by first name, so that was a green light. This is why I love talkers at a table, it would be his turn, before he looked at his cards he would be gabbing and laughing, lift up the cards, whammo! silence, and what do you know, a raise. I couldn't have read him better if he actually showed me his cards. I don't know if other people saw this or not, but I don't know how they couldn't. I know Rob and I saw it right away, we even spoke about it. When Robby got out, I knew it was destiny all over again and when it was The Talker and I heads up, I knew it was over for good. Except for the fact that he kept out rivering me, I would've had him about 30 min. earlier that it went. For example, I was big stack, and I'm the button. He goes all in, I call. He flips up 7-4 off suit and I have A-J off or something of the like. Cards come out with Ace on the flop and a 7 high straight on the river for him. He kept doubling up, and at one point he had more chips than I did. I knew I needed to slow down just a little bit. I get pocket 7s, go all in and he calls with A3, win the pot and cripple him. At that point, we both agreed to flip the cards up with both of us all in pre-flop. I couldn't take this emotional roller coaster anymore, might as well make it an All In Luckfest, because that's exactly what it was. He STILL kept doubling up and at one point again, he was almost past me. Until I had J7 and he had A5, flop comes out x-x-A, I knew I was in trouble. The turn is a J, and I'm still alive and well. The river is.......... J!!! and I scream out "FINALLY!!!!!" We hug and say good game, and call it a day or should I say weekend.

It was a great weekend as always in AC, if I win or lose it doesn't really matter. I'm there with good friends and good times. But it doesn't hurt when you win, you have that extra little smile driving back 3 hrs to NY.

Until next time... ROOSE OUT!!

posted by Jordan @ 12:59 PM, , links to this post




Entertainment (AC Trip Report Pr. 3)

As per usual, every hour, my memories of the weekend fade. After Ilan's win, we were all ecstatic. We were all famished and exhausted from the lack of sleep and food, and I found solace in the $1.50 Kit Kat I had purchased before our Saturday gambling party. Seizing the opportunity, I also made my way up to the new room after picking up my bag from the concierge. Randy was already napping. Roose and Robbie Hole got their Zzzzzzzzs in a few minutes before. I sat on one of the beds in the empty room (we had 2 rooms now) and flipped through the channels. My gambling urge was satiated and I was exhausted, but sleep seemed unrealistic at the time. Nonetheless, once transfixed on the X-Games, it was only a matter of time before my eyes shut.

It wasn't an hour later when I heard someone speaking at the top of their voice not 15 feet from me. Whatever was happening, Roose had decided to make a phone call to an apparently deaf person with total disregard for those sleeping. As my eyes openned, I saw Ilan and Robbie Hole were also in the room. Frankly, this was clearly no time for sleep. I was up and alert in 15 seconds. After some discussion on what to do about food (we had dinner reservations in an hour or two but were all hungry) we decided the hold off for dinner. Lord knows what we did until then. I have no recollection whatsoever.

Before dinner, we discovered that our group was going to be a lot smaller than expected. From 13 people sharing 2 rooms, we were reduced to 7. Three guests had canceled and three had arranged to get driven back home at 5 am. Dinner was also shorter, as the three who planned to leave at 5am (Scotty, JR and JR's cousin/driver Juan) were still en route. Instead, Roose, the Holes, Justin, Ilan, Ilan's brother Ari, Ari's friend Brian, and I went to Rifici's.

I almost am hesitant to tell you about Rafici's. It's kind of a family tradition to go there every Christmas Eve. We had decided on it for the bachelor party out of necessity. All of the larger restaurants on the Boardwalk were booked by the time we attempted reservations. Fortunately, Rifici's was amazing. An Asian Robert Goulet sang the classics (and my request, "I Get a Kick Out of You" by Cole Porter) while we drank and ate plentifully. The great thing about Rifici's is that it is not a hotel establishment. It's a neighborhood restauarant in nearby Absecon, NJ with a large interior and a huge menu. We started with some calamari, meatball and bell pepper dish, followed by soup or salad for the table (I went with the Caesar) and entrees (Veal with egglant and mozzarella). Fantastic across the board.

When we returned to the casino, I don't even think we went up to the room. Instead, we went to the craps table. There, Roose, Robbie, Randy Hole and I scattered ourselves along the rail. Randy, who had never played before, was near me. I suggest that this was a good thing. I know what's happening at the table, and unlike Roose and Robbie, my method starts fairly conservative. I bet the minimum Pass and back it up until I've won a couple of bucks. Then I reinvest those bucks on numbers, all the hards (just a dollar) and an occassional field bet. The key, though, is to only put profits on the table.

In 20 minutes we were all walking away from the craps table, up a combined $1200. A black guy on my right was rolling up a storm. Randy crapped out relatively quickly (welcome to craps, baby!) and I went on my own long roll or three. After me, an old lady who looked constantly surprised and scared started to roll like their was no tomorrow. After her, we all knew that we had been on a good roll and it was time to join the crew.

Of course, the order of these events could be all jumbled in my head. Another version of the story would have us play craps before dinner. In fact, after dinned I remember scurrying to the cage for more singles and the bathroom for more...well, relief. When Robbie Hole and I returned to the room, the late arrivals were there along with the rest of the crew. Everyone was sitting around and I figured out quickly that there was another peach-scented presence somewhere nearby. In fact, the strippers were already in the bathroom preparing for the show.

On the car ride home from the restaurant, we had some trouble finding parking. During the drive, Robbie Hole and I decided to get a prop bet going. We'd both choose three names, and if the strippers had any of our chosen names, the winner got paid. I went with Maya, Angel and some other random name. I think I went with a darkhorse Stacey on a hunch. Other names that I considered included Summer, Amber, Dawn, and Cindy. I don't fully recall Hole's choices, but whatever the case, we both lost. I was close though. One was, in fact, a Summer.

The ladies were surprisingly attractive. One had a Paris Hilton with boobs thing going on. The other was a standard pin-up blonde chick, but better quality than your average stripper. Their performances left a bit to be desired by my account, but overall they got the audience into the show. I did hear a few sarcastic grumbles about the girls blatant desire for cash, but that was to be expected.

I've said it before, strippers don't do much for me, moreso than not. After a while, it seemed like they were going through a routine, the exact routine that two other girls went through at my bachelor party a year prior. I was watching the clock and anticipating more gambling. When they ultimately decided to get going (no extras for this class act), I was on my way to the poker room in no time with Robbie Hole in tow.

I should probably mention that on Friday night, Hole gave me the second shirt that he and I designed. I will probably take a picture and post it, but its essentially a superman logo in green with two vertical lines through the "S". So, its' a dollar sign Superman shirt. If you've been reading for a while, you know that the tradition red, yellow and blue Superman shirt was a standard poker uniform for me. It causes people to discount me as a player and I'll often get decent action as a result (sometime, like in the Friday tournament, I forget to account for image). The new shirt is my pride and joy, a one-of-a-kind shirt that is actually creative but also preserves the image of an immature person...which of course I am not...

Anyway, at the poker room, Hole and I went our separate ways. My table was fairly tight and solid. I hate when that happens. I considered moving tables, but I stuck it out once I saw that I could get a feel for the players. I also found the fish.

In one particular hand, I had AJ in MP and raised from 2 to 12. I got one or two callers, and a J-high flop. A player in early position bet out 20 and I considered for a moment before re-raising to 70. I really enjoy the big bets, especially when they have a purpose. The board had two clubs and I wanted to push off any drawing hands. To my surprise, he considered it for a while before calling. The turn was an offsuit Ace. I made my straight. It was checked to me and I bet out $100. I figured to bust the guy or get him off of his hand. I didn't mind winning the pot then and there. He took some more time but folded with a look of disgust in his face. "I'll show you for $1." He tossed me a chip and I tabled my AJ. "I had J6, two pair on the flop." "Tough hand, man." Inside, I smelled bullshit, but it was covered by the scent of money. His $1 went to the dealer along with another from me. Oh, and I planned to show anyway. The $1 just made it fun.

That hand put me ahead $50 or so. Over some more time, I dipped to $20 profit. When the floor came over to change decks, I saw it was time to move on. I was exhausted, it was late, and a break was in order.

When I left the room, I found the rest of the guys by a bar and the surrounding table games. Scotty was playing high-stakes craps, and was kind enough to toss some chips to Robbie Hole and Roose. They both won several hundred before paying Scotty back. Meanwhile, I won and lost $100 playing blackjack at the makeshift table by the bar, and lost $50 playing Roullete. The Holes and I hit up the Pai Gow where I got more Pai Gow than ever before (for you non-pai gow players, that meant that I was constantly dealt crappy hands). However, after some time, I ended up $8.50. I had enough of those silly table games.

We headed upstairs for some refreshments, and the rest of the crew was already there. After some drinks, I discovered that a group was heading to the club. It wasn't really in the cards for me. It was 5am, I was worn out, and I didn't even have any clothes that would fit their dress code. I stayed behind with Robbie Hole and Justin. Before everyone left, I had a chat with Scotty. He offered once again to buy a piece of me in a tournament. We agreed that I would look for a 300-500$ event and he would pay half the buy-in for a 50% stake. He wisely offered the same deal to Roose. I can't wait.

As I hit the sack, I contemplated playing a sit-n-go at the new Borgata Room on Sunday morning. I decided against it. Sunday morning gambling usually is just desperation. Instead, I was going to join Justin for an earlier exit to NYC. I was tired, my stomach was churning, my head ached, and I just felt generally abused, but I had another fantastic time in AC. I was looking forward to getting back to wifey Kim, but in my head I was already planning the next trip.

AC in November, anyone?

posted by Jordan @ 12:14 PM, , links to this post