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The Lawyers' Game

It's been a tough week at work, as may be obvious if you caught my now-deleted rant about OverAggression in the Worklplace. The pinnacle of frustration came on Thursday, while I dealt with obnoxious defendants, judges, and a coworker.

After getting my ass handed to me by a judge on Thursday, I slowly made my way back to my nearby apartment. I needed a pitstop to clear my mind and grab some necessities for the post-work poker game I was to attend, and while I walked, I realized that I was in no shape to play. I was a physical, mental and emotional wreck, stressed out of my head and anxious for the comfort of wifey Kim and a lazy Thursday on the couch. I pulled out my cellphone and called Matty Ebs.

Ebs had let me know a week before that he was going to a homegame that was full of lawyers. I had gotten Ebs into the SIF and SoxLover games, mostly because I know that he is a good player but more importantly, good company. No BS, no drama, just a good time and poker.

When Ebs got me the invite, I was ecstatic. I have a great track record against strangers in home games, and I was also looking for more live games. But Thursday kicked my ass, and I feared that poker would be a fool's errand. I called him up to see if I could back out. He was a bit concerned about numbers, and since I had committed to going in advance, I told him I would follow through. He had a good point: "Let poker cheer you up."

With this is mind, I stayed late at work, since going home and then to the game would be useless. I saw the place empty out and at 7 (with the game starting at 8) I just couldn't wait anymore. I headed out, with full knowledge that I would have ample time to kill before meeitng Matt.

I arrived in the East Village near NYU at about 7:15. I went in search of some food, and ended up at the shithole that is McDonalds. You'd be hardpressed to convince anyone that McD's is a smart choice for food, but I was looking for something quick and comforting, and McD's was the only easy choice available. I also tend to eat, drink and smoke in self-destructive ways when I'm playing poker. Call it the synergy of vices.

After my calorie-packed but generally satisfying meal, I headed outside. It was still only 7:30 and when I called Ebs ten to twenty minutes later, he was still making his way to the subway uptown.

I walked a short distance to the subway where I expected him to exit, and found a front stoop to make my waiting station. There, I sat down in my civilian clothes, a white undershirt, grey hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and brown worn-in shoes, with my peacoat, black snow hat, and gloves on. I hunched over as I listened to my iPod and tried to let the day's anxieties wash away. Gydyon, in a recent comment to an eariler post, had it dead on: "I was going to recommend you take a few minutes to clear your head -- I've tried a full day of the phones and the court and then the poker and it NEVER goes well unless I close my eyes or distract myself for about 30-60 minutes first."

Sitting there in the freezing cold, watching people go about their daily lives, I must have looked like one of the many hobos around the city. I enjoyed this quiet anonymity and reflected on my job. Then I turned my attention to the task at hand, emptying my brain and resetting.

I received a call from Matty Ebs, and we met up with his cousin Jason. We arrived at the Lawyers' Game at 8:15pm. The game had not yet kicked off, but within minutes we were picking for seats and getting chips. It was to be a $30 rebuy + add-on tournament, 13 players spread over two tables. Matty Ebs and I were at different tables, and I sat down to a table of complete strangers, always an interesting thing at someone else's home game.

To my immediate left was a guy I later learned to be Lee. He reminded me of Mikey Aps in a subtle way. He did not have the same Hellmuthian personality, necessarily, but he was aggressive and there was something undeniably similar in appearance between the two, however remote. To his left was a guy whose name I never really knew. At one point, though, I realized that he looked like Neil Patrick Harris, aka Doogie Howser, and while I was tempted, I kept this information to myself. Doogie's recent trip out of the closet might make my statement seem rude. He was a smart player, and I resolved to be careful when playing against him. To his left was Jen (I believe that was her name), the only girl at the game. She seemed tight, and that proved to be true. To her left was Ed, a darker-skinned Mediteranean looking guy with slightly graying black hair and glasses. He was quiet, but also played a lot of hands, usually fairly passively. To his left, and my immediate right, was a player I believe was named Fred. He seemed to be the donkey of the table, mostly playing tight, but also seemingly playing weak and at times, reckless. He lost his first buy-in re-raising all-in with KTs in position preflop. He was raising into Aces.

I started off quiet, trying to hide my identity, I suppose, but also trying to feel out the table. I knew nothing except for the general thought that this game was populated by lawyers. Ebs also told me that I should expect tight play from my opponents. In both counts, we were right and wrong. There were lawyers, but other players at the table seemed to have a more blue-collar background. This, in and of itself, means nothing, but it does imply certain styles of play from the competition. The game also started tight, but after the first two rounds, it loosened up considerably.

We are now a couple of days out from the game, so my recollection of hands is a bit murky. I folded for a while, and finally was dealt AKo. I raised from 10 to 30 and got three or four callers at the 6-person table. The flop was all diamonds, and I had the nut flush draw (Ace of diamonds). Fred, acting before me, bet 25, a clear underbet. I called, as did Ed. The turn was another diamond, and I hit my nut flush. Fred bet out again, this time for 100, and I called. I didn't want to make it too obvious that I had the Ace of diamonds. Ed folded, and we were two to the river. I don't know what it was, but I believe that Fred checked to me. At this point, I made a bet of 200, hoping to extract a little more value from him. He called and I took down the pot.

My next hand was A9o, limping due to the tight table conditions. The flop was A65, and Jen bet small from early position. I called, fearing that I was outkicked. I also thought two-pair was a possibility, but the betting was so weak that I was willing to draw out. The turn wasn't too exciting, and she bet small again. I called. The river brought a possible flush and she checked. I wondered if she hit it and checked as well. She had A6o for two-pair. Live and learn.

Lee began to loosen up, betting a lot and at times being forced to show down crap cards. Everyone folded to my preflop bets of 3x the BB when I held QQ and JJ back to back. That mildly sucked. I picked up on Lee's play and as blinds raised, made some clever moves against him. In one hand, it folded to me in the SB and I called. Lee, in the BB, raises 3x the BB, and for whatever reason, I didn't believe him. I defended by calling. The flop missed me completely, so I checked. He bet out less than the pot, and I raised him 3x his bet. By then, no one had check-raised, so I suppose it also carried extra weight at the table. He folded and I took the pot with air.

At the end of the rebuy period, I found myself with a stack very close to my starting stack. I had originally bought in and immediately rebought ($60) for 1000 chips total, and had less than 1500. I decided to take the $30 add-on for an additional 1000 in chips. After the 10 minute break, we were back down to business.

I don't remember many hands, but I do remember how I busted Doogie, the first player to bust out at our table. In a very early hand, I raised from the button and Doogie folded the Hammer (27o) face up. I couldn't help myself and joked, "How could you fold that monster? I'd raise with that hand." So here I was, well over 40 minutes later, and I've been dealt the Hammer. Time to show them how we do. I immediately raise from 100 to 400 in the CO, after Ed limped. Doogie pushed all-in for 575 and Jen and Ed folded. I had to call, simple pot odds. He had KJc, and the first card on the flop was an inevitable 7. He didn't catch up, and I busted him with the hammer. Jen was clearly paying attention. When she saw my hand, she said rather surprised, "Wow. You said you play that hand." "Every time," I told her.

After a while, we combined tables. I had been playing more aggressively when I had good cards or position, and when we combined at 9 people left, I was in the top half of the field. Fred was placed on my immediate left (but not for long), followed by Ebs. Ebs' cousin Jason, a friendly, sarcastic and somewhat (pleasantly) vulgar individual was on my right. Lee was across the table from me and continued to attack the table, raising 3 times per orbit.

In the first hand at the final table, I am dealt TT UTG+1. I had about 5-6k and Jason, UTG, pushes for 2500 or so. I fold, hoping to find a better spot. I feared all the players yet to act. I bet it would have been a coin toss after all, but I also guess that I don't need cointosses like that. Everyone folded after me as well.

Fred was the first out at the final table. Lee looked like the HUGE stack for a while, but must have lost a couple of pots, because by the time him and I tangled, I actually had him covered. I must have had 7k and had been folding more than I enjoy (but not more than I needed to at this more-full table). I finally had 99 on the button and Lee raised from 200 to 1000 from MP. I decided to re-raise him, confident that he was probably making a move with air or unpaired cards. It folded to him and he re-raised all-in.

It was a few minutes before this hand that I realized the time. Time has no meaning for me when I am playing, so the fact that it was 11:15 was a shock. We still had 8 or so players at the table, so I expected to be there for a long while. I still saw Lee as a big stack, but realized that he and I were a lot closer than I thought. He had pushed earlier in the evening with AKo, and even before that, I saw his general loose preflop action, so I thought that I could be in great shape, or at worst, in a coin toss. I didn't even seriously consider overpairs, mostly because of the frequency of his preflop raises. I called, with the thought that in the worst case scenario, I go home at a reasonable hour.

He tabled QQ and I showed my 99. I was sort of resigned to losing the hand, but seeing the QQ was still fairly upsetting. I dealt the flop, and missed it entirely. I dealt the turn quickly, hoping to make this hand go away, and then saw the 9. The river was a blank and I hit my 2-outter. After we did the math, we realized I had him outchipped, and Lee was shown the door. I, meanwhile, was the huge stack.

Side thought: I remember thinking at the time that I would be pretty easily getting into the money. I also thought that I didn't deserve to win the tournament. Sure, 2-outters happen, but have they ever made you feel unworthy of a win? In the end, I put that aside. Top prize was over $600, so I had to focus at the task at hand.

I tightened up, glad to have my lead. When we got down to 5, it was me, Ebs, Jen, a guy whose name I never quite got, and Jason. Jen had been holding on despserately for a while, with a small stack that would double up when necessary, but never give her any breathing room. Jason was fairly short as well.

I tangled in a hand with Ebs. I had A6o in the BB and was loosening up. I raised on the button after it folded to me, from 400 to 1200. Ebs called and Jen folded. The flop was TJK. Ebs checked to me, or perhaps made a small raise, and I made a significant raise (or pushed all-in...I don't recall which). I was using my big stack to my advantage. Ebs hemmed and hawed. At this point, I was chatting a lot more than earlier, yucking it up at the table and making fun of all sorts of things. I believe I asked Ebs if he even hit the flop, maybe insinuating that it must be a scary flop for him, and he replied that he hit the board, but he wasn't sure if he was ahead. He continued, "I should have pushed preflop. I was probably ahead preflop and behind now." I replied, "Well, I don't know about that," implying that I had a strong hand throughout. He eventually folded. We ran the cards and his AJo would've turned another Jack. I'm glad I pushed him out when I did.

I took out Jen with J7h against her Ax, when I was committed from the BB. We were down to 4 and someone suggested a deal to save 4th place. I looked at my stack, a commanding lead, and asked if there was any benefit to me. They all agreed there was none. "Sorry, guys. I don't mean to be a prick, but I have no reason to agree. I'm not going out 4th and if I do, I don't deserve any money." They laughed at the second part of that logic sequence.

I took out Ebs next, with my K-high beating his Ace-high, all in preflop. I hit my K. Down to 3, I offered a deal. I'd take $500 and they can work out the rest. This was a full $120 less than 1st place money, but I was tired, the blinds were high enough to make it a gamble, but not high enough to make it a very short game. The two other players couldn't agree, mostly because Jason was so short. We decided to play it out.

I lost about 4 hands to Jason, all in which he was all-in (by my raises or his), and all of which saw me as a slight underdog, with either two overs to a pocket pair, or two unpaired cards with a lower high-card. I lost them all. I don't mind my strategy much, although by the end, I was dismayed to see Jason take the lead. In the end, if I win one of those semi-coin tosses, he is out for good, and I have a commanding lead for 1st. We played a little more and I took some chips from Jason and the Other Guy, until Jason and I were about even. Third place got $240, so I thought now would be a good time to suggest a deal. I asked the Other Guy if he'd take $300, a full $60 more than third. He said he would. He had work the next day and was tired. I turned to Jason, "Would you split the rest with me evenly? $465 a piece?" He agreed. We were done. I chopped 1st/2nd with Jason, for a net profit of $375. I thanked the host for having me. It was one of the smoothest homegames I had played, but I suppose winning helped my impression of it all.

On the elevator down, I peeled off $60 and handed it to Ebs. "This is to cover your losses", I told him. "Thanks for getting me into the game." I saw it as a sorta finders' fee. Ironically, I probably would've been better off accepting the save for fourth place, but if one of those other guys bubbled, then I suppose I wouldn't have shared any of my profit, so it was probably still a +EV decision to reject the save.

When we hit the lobby, Ebs told me that he thought the game lent itself to my style. "I got a lot more chatty at that second table," I told him. "Yeah, you play better when you are talking." I don't know if it is the talking or the fact that I talk most when I've got chips to work with, but it is definitely something worth reflecting upon. I am a chatter at the table, and if nothing else, it probably keeps me relaxed. When I tighten up verbally, I may also be showing MORE tells, ironically because by quieting down, my play becomes more stoic and particular tells may be more discernible. When I'm constantly joking around, I suppose I'm more manic and any tell is probably buried under layers of nonsense. Likewise, talking can control a table. It can shame a maniac into slowing down, or induce a rock into loosening up. It can instill fear, or instill complacency. Whatever the case, I have a lot more to work through on this subject.

Freaking awesome. I started the day shitty and ended it high on poker. When I got home, it was 1:30am. I was too amped to sleep, riding high on poker-induced adrenaline. I watched the Office and took some migraine medication.

Wifey Kim had fallen asleep on the couch, and as I woke her to go to bed, I told her that I won more than $300. In her half-dreaming state, she mumbled, "great. can i have some money?" "You can take whatever you want from my wallet tomorrow morning." That was my real world wallet. My poker wallet had grown thicker, but its still not time to harvest. The next morning, I found my wallet intact. I guess she really was still half-sleeping.

I'm a lucky man. As shitty as work can be, I still love my job, I love my poker, and I love my wife. Thanks for reading.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:31 PM,


At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I must have looked like one of the many hobos around the city."

Man, the hobos in NY have ipods now, eh?!

Hey, excellent write-up man. Felt like I was there. Methinks WifeyKim and ChickJax are probably a lot of alike.

I need a refill on my migraine medication.

At 6:08 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Actually, I had my hood up, my peacoat collar popped and my snowcap on. To anyone looking, they probably wouldn't even notice the iPod. This was in my original lost post, but I forgot to include it here.

At 4:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"great. can i have some money?"

Hahaha women. Great write up, thoroughly enjoyed it.

At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

nice job!

At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, great post. I really couldn't close that one down. I had to see it to the end. Lolawife is also similar to Kim... well done on the cash.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger NewinNov said...

Love, love, love. You're high on life. Great job.


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