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Nice Rack at Nice Look

I'll do a lot for poker. It's one of the only things, quite frankly THE only thing, that I can do all day and night without feeling the need for sleep or food. It's actually an interesting phenomenon. Similarly, I'll jump through hoops for poker, moreso than I would for just about anything (but not anyone) else.

With that in mind, I planned my return to the NiceLook club early last week when I found out that wifey Kim would be attending Roose's fiance's bachelorette party. Wifey Kim's friend was also in town, so she was out of commission for the night. Logically, this would put me at the club. But sometimes other things get in the way.

As it turned out, my good buddy Adler was having a "housewarming" party at his new apartment in mid-town. His guest list included a slew of people from high school, many of whom I really wanted to see. The party start time was 9pm, so I did some mental math and decided to go play some pokah at 4pm and play until 9pm. Ads lived nearby, so I planned to head there by foot.

All was set up...until wifey Kim realized that we were going to be away next weekend in Buffalo. That was also her mother's birthday weekend, so we had to do a little schedule juggling. As a result, we ended up heading into Brooklyn Saturday afternoon to meet wifey Kim's family for a birthday lunch. Without too much details, the lunch took its time. By the time we got to the subway heading back, I'd be lucky to get to the club by 4:30. I also was planning on meeting Matty Ebs, and from what I could recall, I thought he needed me to get into the club. So imagine my surprise when I got this text from Matt, "I will be there at 4:15. I'll wait for you outside."

Shit. Well, the subway was slow. I mean s-l-o-w slow. By the time I got home, it was already 4:45, and I wasn't even ready to head to the club. Fortunately, Ebs is a crafty mofo. I called him and he was already inside, check-raising douschebags with the best of them.

I shed my clothes and packed my bag for poker and Adler's party. Everything was packed up in 15 minutes, but I decided not to rush out of the door. I could feel the nerves and anticipation built up inside of me. All that waiting for poker did a number on me, so I had to take a moment to find some inner peace. When I felt ready, I kissed wifey Kim goodbye, reminded her to wish me good luck, and then headed to the subway.

This time, everything fell into place. The train arrived shortly after me, and it was running local instead of the usual express, so I'd be dropped off right in front of the club. I turned on my iPod and squeezed by a Midwestern family blocking the sweet corner spot where the conductor's enclosed booth stands next to the door leading to the next train car. In NYC subways, there is a hierarchy of standing spots. This was one of the best, with room enough to be comfortable and stable things to lean against. I popped in my earphones and listened to some DogHouse, a local radio show that also puts out a podcast. As I took the train ride, I stood there chuckling to myself as the Midwestern family peaked over at me wondering what was so funny. Once we pulled into my stop, I grabbed my backpack and hit the door.

I was sporting my black dollar-sign Superman shirt, a clean pair of jeans, and an off-white zipped-down hooded sweatshirt. I went to the cage and bought my $300 in chips (the max for 1/2 NL) while I added my name to the list. I found Ebs after passing him by three times and calling his cellphone as I stood two feet away. His table was playing loose, nothing new for a NYC club, so after checking in, I let him get back to his game and focus.

It wasn't long before I was called for my table. I sat down in the 6 seat, with a skinny Joe Piscopo wannabe (think SNL days, not his silly political career days) on my left. His name was Bob, and everyone seemed to know him. The table was full of 20-something Asian guys, and for the most part, they all seemed smart and sharp. There was a grumpy looking big broad older gentleman in the 10s, and a couple of half-Mediterranean-looking dudes who came a little while later. In the 8s was a young kid who looked like the stereotypical young gun. He had his wits about him and on at least two occasions, I had to seriously consider calling his huge flop continuation bets with less-than-optimal cards because he was exhibiting classic bluff tells. In both instances, he raised preflop, got buckets of callers (including me with 44 and AJ) and then bet out post-flop at least $75-100. He then would turn into a statue, staring at the board and not doing nothing else. Rule of thumb: when someone is bluffing, their natural inclination is to physically tighten up, so that they do not give off any tells that could get their opponent to call. Ironically, this very change in demeanor is a sign that they are uncomfortable with their hand, and in most instances SHOULD induce you to call. The kid had raised earlier with such hands as 79s, so he probably WAS bluffing in those particular cases. However, he also was fairly deepstacked, and since I was struggling to stay above $250, I didn't have much leverage to push him off of his weak hands and I wasn't willing to go broke with an under pair on a XXY board (when I had 44, the flop was 668), or two overcards on a ragged flop (my AJ hand). So, I had a read, but I couldn't act on it, and I don't particularly mind my folds. After all, a bad fold is a small error; a bad call can be a huge error.

So, let's get to business. I tried to get a feel from the table, joining in lightly on conversations such as the difference between a hooker and a housewife. I dropped one of my favorite quotes (paraphrased) which I've dropped on this site at least once. Frank Sinatra once said that he didn't pay the girls for sex, he paid them to leave when they were done. Love that Sinatra.

I made friendly and limped when I could. I love the theory of loose preflop and tight postflop, but its often easier said than done. I had to fold a bunch of times after missing flops, but I felt fine with the tempo of the table. I was down about $60 or so when I bet $20 cold with 27o. When four earlier limpers folded around to me, I offered to show my cards. Piscopo in particular seemed to want to see, as he was yucking it up about how I actually raised a hand. I offered to show for a dollar, but he didn't agree. I finally said, "Fuck it," and flipped the cards up. The table let out a few laughs and Piscopo said, "That was worth more than a dollar." I couldn't figure out if he was knocking me for showing, so I shot back, "For me or for you?" "For you." I still don't know what the fuck he was getting at, but I laid in some doubt by stating, "Now you know, the next time I raise to $20 I have 72o." Let that marinate.

Let's jump ahead. I only played 72o one more time. I raised to $20. Notably, this was a long while after my first go at it, and there was enough action that I didn't expect anyone to think back about that particular last 72o hand. The kid raises on top to $50 total. It folds to me and I consider what to do, but realistically, I'm folding. I'm sorta damning myself because I set myself up for the reraise. I, of course, was thinking about the other 72o hand, but once I folded, the kid showed KK, and I realized that the past 72o hand had nothing to do with this one. Sometimes, I think people place too much emphasis on the import of showing your cards. It will confuse people just as much as it educates them, and sometimes moreso. If you control what cards they see, you can often control perception of your play, and to me, that is as useful as giving off no information at all. But, admittedly, it doesn't work for everyone and it didn't particularly help me or hurt me in the two hands I just discussed.

Speaking of confusing people, I seized upon an opportunity to try out some more poker theories during the game. I had been thinking about odd bet sizes ever since my last trip to AC. I never gave a full trip report for that one, mostly because I couldn't get anything going at the tables and, while I try to be 100% open here, I couldn't seem to get much going with the virtual fountain pen either. Whatever the case, on that trip, I was playing a table and goofing around. I have gotten in the habit of raising from to $4, a min raise at 1/2, mostly because it is such an obviously harmless bet. I'll basically do it at random for hands I'd otherwise just limp with. Whatever the case, some people in AC thought it was odd/funny, so I decided to change things up some more. I bet $19 once and someone commented about it being a weird number. "It's prime baby! I'm only betting prime numbers from here out!" I stuck with it too, betting 17 or 11 or 23, depending on the situation. Each time, I'd add, "It's Prime Time baby!"

I wasn't about to bust out the Prime Time theatrics in a NYC underground club, but I did decide to bet odd amounts. I wanted to see how people reacted, and for the most part, I was very happy with the results. This was a table where a minimum preflop raise was $10, but more often $12, 15 or 20. I was betting $9, $13, $8, etc. As a result, I found I was getting calls preflop, but people were more apt to fold post flop. I've been trying to figure it all out, and the best I can come up with is that the bets really confuse people. When someone bets $12, you can assume that they have a good hand, but likely not a great hand. It's a standard bet. When they bet $15, they are trying to thin the herd a bit, but still want callers, so they often have a very strong hand, like TT through AA. When they bet $20 or more, they are definitely thinning the field, so they have more vulnerable but strong hands, like 66-JJ, AK, AQ, and down (looser standards are in play because we are in a NYC underground club). Of course, these are gross generalizations, but the point is, most players can comfortably make gross generalizations (whether they are accurate or not) with these types of bets. What does a $9 bet preflop mean, though? How about $13? To me, they only indicate one thing: whatever this fucker is doing, he's fucking weird about it.

So, for example, I had already raised $9 and $13 at some point, and with A9c in LP I raise to $8, a seemingly innocuous but unusual bet for the table. The flop came down with all low cards, and after it checked to me, I nonchalantly bet $25 into the $30+ pot. Everyone folded. In and of itself, this was not a surprising turn of events. They probably all just missed the flop. But in general, people were not folding to tame continuation bets at this table.

It doesn't always work though. I bet $13 preflop with AJs in LP. I was called by the big broad older gentleman (older, but not old), and we saw a flop of J65 with two diamonds. He checked and I bet $26, announcing that it was twice $13, since an old lady who sat with us for all of one hand felt like announcing preflop that 13 is a dangerous number. The turn was an offsuit Ten and out of nowhere, my opponent bet $100. I looked at his stack. He had about $165 behind. I had him covered, but not by much. I thought it over for a moment. He could have the TT. That would make sense, allowing him to call preflop and on the J-high flop with only one over facing a continuation bet. I let that mull over, and ultimately, I decided that he either had TT or JT. I placed my Jack face-up and folded. The bottom line was that if I was going to call, I should be pushing all-in. I wasn't going broke on TPTK, so I had to fold.

Later, he admitted that he had 66. He also said that he was trying to look weak. I offered to give him some pointers on that area once I was ready to leave. After all, I didn't want to give him advice and then screw myself. In hindsight, though, I never did give him that advice. No harm done.

I've gone over a few of the bigger hands of my session. There really only remains one more hand, the epitome of how to be profitable at a NYC underground poker room. I was dealt AA, my only AA, when I had about 270$ in front of me. When I had hit $200 earlier in the evening, I reloaded $100 on top, so I was into the game for $400 and down $130. I was playing a tighter game, aside from limping when possible, and had been dealt few pocket pairs or high Aces. The one exception was a QQ hand, where a doofus raised to $15 in early position, I reraised to $45, and he called. The flop was King high and I bet out $75 hoping he didn't hit the one overcard. He folded quickly. Aside from that, I had 44 about 6 times, hitting a set only once and getting nothing for it.

So, the table has thinned out a bit, after some players left. We had maybe 7 players, including some new Asians (to replace the old ones, apparently) with shorter stacks and less experience. There were also to swarthy-looking Meditteranean gentlemen and the older guy, along with one of the better of the earlier Asian players who lost all of his profit and thensome when his bottom set ran into top set against the older guy. I'm finally dealt AA and raise it from MP to $20 flat. I get four or so callers, surprisingly, by the time it gets to the least experienced Asian player, who bought in for $100 and now had about $140. I was praying that someone would raise me so I could come over the top, and he obliged, bumping it to $20 total. He was two seats to my right, and to my surprise, the player to my immediate right, a friendly Mediterranean (which to me, means something either Greek, Italian, Turkish or Middle Eastern, by ethnicity mostly, as he was not Old World) raises all-in. He has about $200 or less, mostly because he, too, is of the buy-in short school of thought. Either that or he sucked, because he kept reaching for his wallet after busting 4 or so times. I decide that its now or never and push all-in on top. Most players fold, but the other Mediterranean, who was definitely Americanized but still had the darker skin and hair, thinks it over. I didn't want a call, actually, but I decided to start chatting him up anyway. "It's only $250. You have that covered." He thought for a while. I kept talking. He eventually folded. It folded around to the inexperienced Asian and he folded.

We didn't have to, but we flipped our cards up, mostly because it was a friendly table. AA v. AK. I was in great shape, and even though the K flopped, nothing else happened, and I pretty much doubled up with all the other money in the pot. The other Mediterranean who folded said he had AK too. Well, when I was chatting him up, I was actually willing to induce a call or not. I wasn't sure where I was at against him (aside from knowing that I was surely ahead), but alas, it didn't work out and he got away from it. Frankly, a raise, re-raise, re-re-raise all-in, followed by me re-re-re-raise all-in should've been enough alone to induce the fold.

I played a bit more, but ultimately got up at 9pm when the new dealer asked to collect time. I was up $117 on the day, which was great considering that I was down about $150 or so at my worst.

I should add one thing. This place has a female dealer that is out of this world. I'm not one for silicone, but if these were fake funbags, then they were fucking works of art. They were almost too perfect to be natural (and large) and yet, too natural-looking to be fake. Of course, she wore a shirt with open buttons exposing her plentiful cleavage, and as I sat in the 6s, I couldn't help but want the 8s and 4s (the corner seats) to place their bet as far from her as possible. Reach, baby, reach! I can honestly state that I did not tip her once because I did not win a significant hand during her down (I don't tip if I only win blinds). I can also honestly say that I don't remember much of that half hour, aside from tipping my head at the 1s and allowing my eyes to wander behind my blacked-out sunglasses right into that valley of heaven. I kid you not when I say it was like I was fucking hypnotized. In fact, she was the new dealer at 9pm and for a moment, I considered staying for another down.

I'm heading to Buffalo on Wednesday of this week so wifey Kim can attend a speech-hearing convention. Wifey Kim and I went to school at the University at Buffalo (in fact, I met her there), so it seemed like a great opportunity to reminisce. Don't expect much posting from Wednesday to Sunday, but if I bring the ole trusty laptop with me, you may get some here and there. I plan on spending at least one day (Friday) at the local poker clubs, which sadly did not exist when I went to school there. Wish me luck and have a great week.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 7:22 PM,


At 1:57 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

Gotta camera on your phone...hook a brotha up with pictures next time. I love how nice rack can have more than one meaning with poker...

At 2:13 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

You know, on hindsight, I'm kicking myself in the ass for not taking a photo on my camera. I have to get back there on a Saturday and hope she is dressing accordingly.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Mattyebs said...

I'm sure that's her standard uniform. Another tricky preflop game I made in AC...the last couple of 1-2 games I've played in have just been silly with an average preflop raise of 20. In the game I said I was supersticious of the number 8 and limped with any hand from aa to 34 offsuit and would often cold call out of position after 5 other callers these other $20 raises but here's the thing if they made it 8 I often folded,not because my cards were any better or worse but because I wanted to subconsciously encourage the weaker bets...I even made it so when people made it 8 I had to reraise out of superstion to 15 or...making a reraise smaller than the average raise. Anyway it worked great and allowed me to see virtuall any flop for less than 10 with big stacks averaging over 1000. Just another psychological warfare game to add to your repotoire...ended up for the session at the club...but spent my winnings four times over in the two nights that followed...Definately up for playing again sometime soon...Keep me in the Loop.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Ebs, you have to admit though, those things were a work of art! God or man-made? What do you think?

At 12:20 PM, Blogger Mattyebs said...

I'm going with man made and I'll telly you why...she was a little too proud. God given talent like that is usually a little more humble due to those junior high years of being pummeled by a fusillade of comments by prepubescent boys and sketchy older men...but I could be wrong I'll be sure to inquire next time I see her

At 3:37 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Good point, Ebs. Definitely fake.


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