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SIFilous Outbreak

"Well, it's Jordan raising and [I'm in position; I want to see the flop; I could use a draw; he's a loose donkey], so I'll call."

That was the table's mantra during my return to the Ship It Fish homegame yesterday. Every sentence after my bets/raises were met with, "Well, it's Jordan and [insert random other reason here], so I'll call." The fact that it was me seemed to be the first factor in analyzing a hand, and then whatever came next was a side thought. All I knows is, I left up $160 from a low of -$250 or so, so I must be doing something right.

Bradley, the host at the SIF game, likes to play an eclectic mix of poker, chosen by players as they arrive. I had gotten Matty Ebs an invite several months ago, and after that game, he was added to the email list. He was joining for this session as well, so I arrived 30 minutes late as I waited for Ebs outside the subway station. Sadly, that meant that game selection was already completed, but the line-up was good enough for my purposes.

2-7 Triple Draw (4/8 Limit)
Limit Omaha 8 or Better, aka Hi/Lo (1/1 Pot Limit)
Badugi (4/8 L)
Double-Board Hold'em (1/1 PL)
Stud 8 or Better (4/8 L)
Crazy Pineapple High Only (1/1 PL)

Sadly, my NL or PL 5-card draw was nowhere to be seen, but the games were varied enough to keep me interested.

Time is short before my vacation tomorrow, so I won't be giving you the complete play-by-play. I'm also somewhat hesitant to discuss why I won yesterday, mostly because I do not want to expose my strategy to my competition, but alas, I don't play there that often and the way I played was specifically tailored to benefit from my image. Let's back up a bit though.

I am not sure how other players use table image, but to me, it is of paramount importance when playing with cognizant players. At Bradley's game, I was constantly cited as an example of hyper-looseness, and after a while, I was getting annoyed. In one instance, a player folded to my bet on the river in a limit game of Badugi. I had a good hand, but Bradley chimed in and said that he would have made that call, "against Jordan." A part of me was seriously irked. In all of my times at SIF's game (less than 6, I think), I've won. Why, then, were people acting as though I was a donkey?!

And then I took a breath, and I relaxed. The best thing a player can do for me is announce their read on my table image. If you say, "you are playing tight" I'll use that against you by making some large bluffs. (And trust me, in some games, that is what people say about my play). If you say, "you are playing loose" or "you are getting lucky" I'll use that too. So, rather than get upset, I resolved to use that table image and ride it to the top.

The truth is, Bradley's general read on my play was right. At his game, I play an odd variety of loose poker. However, it is not as loose as it may appear.

The key rules for my loose action is as follows:

1) In early hands for the day, mix it up a bit, getting into lots of hands for as cheap as possible.
2) Play tight in Limit games, unless I'm in the BB.
3) In pot limit and NL games, play every pot preflop if its cheap enough.
4) Have fun.

That's just a quick rundown, but I'll go through each of those rules in detail.

1) In early hands for the day, mix it up a bit, getting into lots of hands for as cheap as possible. In this way, I build a reputation. Nowadays, this only means playing 2 of the first 5 hands. Thanks to my reputation, its all I need to reassure the players that I am, in fact, the same ole loose Jordan.

2) Play tight in Limit games, unless I'm in the BB. This one is a bit odd. For the most part, no one noticed that I was folding most limit hands. That is because they were so focused on when I'd call a bet from the BB and then draw 3 out of 4 cards in Badugi, or 3 out of 5 cards in Triple Draw. In fact, the act of calling a raise and then drawing 3 out of 4 cards in Badugi has been dubbed the Bajordi because it is such a blatantly amatuerish or gambling move done early and often by yours truly.

There is a good mathematical reason for this too. Preflop, as the BB, I already have $4 in the pot. If one player raises to $8 and everyone folds to me, I have to call $4 into a $14 pot (assuming the SB folded, leaving the $8 bet, $2 SB, and my $4 BB). That's not too bad odds, especially in drawing games. After the draw, I can get away from the hand, or I can check-call and get another draw for $4 into a $22 pot. By the bet following the second draw, things are different. I have a better understanding of where I am in comparison to my opponent, and the new question is not whether I can call $8 into a $30 pot, but rather, whether I'll be willing to call the bet and the next bet for $16 total, just to win this $30 pot. [I should thank Matty Ebs for helping me work out this logic. It was how I was playing for the most part, but during our trainride home, he stated it as I explained it here.]

Admittedly, the problem with this strategy is that I am seemingly throwing good money in with bad while playing out of position. Position, mind you, is even MORE important in draw games than Hold'em, so playing these hands are tricky propositions. However, when I did hit, I had the "It's just Jordan, so I'll call" working for me, allowing me to check-raise when the big bet ($8) was in play, making back a lot of the money I had lost with my earlier BB hands.

I should mention that I was generally tighter in the Stud 8 game than Badugi and Triple Draw because the draw was a key part of the aforementioned strategy.

3) In pot limit and NL games, play every pot preflop if its cheap enough. The games we played worked particularly well for this strategy. Specifically, PL Double-Board Hold'em was a freaking godsend. The game is played just like normal PL Hold'em, except two flops are dealt out simultaneous, as are two turns and two rivers. At showdown, the winner on each board gets 1/2 of the pot. If you have a hand that wins in both, you get the whole pot.

Double-Board Hold'em is a weird game. The strategy is definitely different, and since I was getting paid off, it made sense to play a lot of pots in this game. First off, you usually are seeing a flop for $1, or maybe $5 if someone raises pot. Then, as long as you hit one flop strong, you can essentially bet really high, hoping to push people off of the pot. If you have the nuts or near the nuts on one board, you can do this with absolute impunity. The worst-case scenario is that you split the pot, so you lose nothing. The best-case scenario is that you are called by a player playing the same board as you with a lesser hand, in which case, your Ace-high might be good to win the second board also.

Likewise, Crazy Pineapple was one of those games where I could see the flop for a cheap $1. If things looked good then, I'd start betting out, but otherwise, it was easy to fold.

PLO8 was another story, and I put that in a separate group. But I think most of my money was made in the other two PL/NL games.

There were a few hands that were the highlights of my night. I held AK8 at one point in Crazy Pineapple. At this point in the game, I was down $200+ due to some terrible PLO8 play by me. On more than one occassion, I played too passively, allowing my opponents, usually Ebs, to catch up and take the hand from me. Whatever the case, in Crazy Pineapple, I limp, get raised preflop and call along with maybe one other player. The flop came down K8X, with two hearts, giving me two-pair. I checked. Bradley, who had made the preflop raise, bet $15. Matty Ebs, the caller, called. I then raised pot, putting most, if not all, of my remaining chips into the pot. "Well, its Jordan, so...." Bradley thought for a moment and then called. Ebs, caught between us, decided to head for higher ground and folded. After the discard (in CP, you get three cards, playing the hand like Hold'em, but after the flop, you discard one and continuing playing with your two remaining cards) Bradley held A4h for a flush draw against my K8 two pair. By the river, I had doubled up and was back to a workable stack.

Another interesting hand happened later during Double-Board Hold'em. Bradley and I had been discussing whether pairs were good hands in DBHE. In general, I like suited connectors because of the many draw possibilities, but I maintained that pairs were great too because often your opponent is only focusing on one board, so a pocket pair will usually win the other board. Since its a pocket pair, you don't need to figure out which board your opponent has hit. All you need to know is that he didn't hit both. Bradley, on the other hand, was skeptical about the value of pairs. This hand summed it up for me (although, admittedly, the situation would be a lot different if I had a baby pair).

After not getting nor expecting AA all day, I was dealt AA in DBHE. I was ecstatic. Preflop, I raised pot to $5 and got a slew of callers. ("It's Jordan, so...."). The flops were Queen-high with rags and 10-high with rags. I remembered that there wasn't too much overlap, which was good for me. I think I checked it, Matty Ebs bet $15 and I called. I wanted to build the pot some more before I made my move since it was a PL game. The turns came down, a rag for the Q-high flop and a Queen for the ten-high flop. I checked and Matty Ebs bet out $35. I raised $70 on top of his $35, happy with the size of the pot. At that point, Matty went into think-mode and began working out the hand as he muttered to himself. He asked me how much I had behind, $102, for $172 if he wanted to push me all-in. I was running through the possibilities in my head to determine if I liked my situation. I started talking aloud, "Let's see...Do you have QT for two pair on the second board and top pair? Maybe QK, QJ?" I was actually concerned that he had me beat on one of the boards, and I would've been happy with a fold. He took his time, working out the hand before he folded KQ. He made the right play, a play that most players at the game would not make because, "its Jordan betting and I have top pair on both boards with second kicker", but Matty knows me better than that. I showed the AA and explained my thinking as to why pocket pairs are awesome in DBHE. I was also glad to take down the pot, added to my stack with relative ease. "It's Easy with Aces".TM (I'll see if I can get Matty's version of this hand for later. I may have gotten some bet sizing or order of bets mixed up).

Of course, I also played J5h in another hand, scooping the pot when the flop gave me a Jack on one board and two 5s on another. What was I doing playing J5h? For $1, I was speculating, and I got paid off, so I had that going for me too.

4) Have fun. Homegames are meant to have fun. The $160 profit was great, but it wouldn't have been as great if I didn't enjoy my time at the game. This almost goes without saying. The side benefit is that when you are yucking it up at the table, hopefully no one is paying too close attention to when your play changes gears.

I have to add that I think Bradley picked up a tell or two from me. Specifically, there was a hand where he was clearly staring at me trying to get information. I turned to him and started chatting him up, admitting that I had chosen not to worry about giving off tells. "I could tighten up and act all serious, but I've decided not to worry about tells in this hand." It was clearly a bit of humor mixed with a semi-reverse mind-fuck, but it didn't work as he eventually folded. That's when I realized the stupidity of my actions. By talking, I was exhibiting confidence. I made a mental note that I will pay attention to my chattiness as a tell of strength in the future.

That's it for me today. I'm off to Puerto Rico tomorrow, so don't expect anything from me for the rest of the week.

Until next time, make mine poker.

posted by Jordan @ 10:51 AM,


At 3:11 PM, Blogger Alceste said...

Kudos to you and to MattyEbs for yesterday's game. Both of you did a good job projecting an image with the cheap hands and getting paid on the big ones.

At 12:07 PM, Blogger Chuck said...

I can't speak for others, but anything I said about your "looseness" was to keep the game as happy and friendly as can be. By late in the day I picked up on your "lack of participation" in many limit games and was wary of any raises you made in those games. I don't recall any major confrontations between the two of us, but I had a good time... Everytime I went above the even point, I would lose a big hand to Matt. I was down less than $100 from poker and given the success you and "Ebs" had, I can only imagine the other three were in deeper holes.

I don't have my own blog, so I figured I would post one hand on yours (where I lost the most money). The game was PLO8. I was dealt AA36 UTG and made a pot size raise. I believe you called, SB (SIF) and BB (Ebs) called. I can't recall the intermediate action (I think I bet out the flop and you raised -- not sure who bet the turn), but the pot got large (well over $150) on a final board of J837J (or something like that). Ebs bet out $85. I went into the tank and eventually called figuring I was likely good one way or the other. You folded (with flopped bottom two I believe) and Ebs had J952 for the scoop. Any thoughts?


At 8:03 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Hey Chuck,

Lest it sound otherwise, first and foremost, the game was about having fun. That is part of the reason why I'm generally so loose at the game. The money comes second, but its nice to win.

As for that hand, you played perfectly preflop with a good AA36 hand. The flop sucked for you, and once I raised, you should have been wary. You had no low draw on a board that could easily hit a low (A2 or 24 most likely, given the action, but Matty took it with his 25), so you were playing for half the pot, and all you had was an overpair. For any Omaha games, I consider two pair the bare minimum for raising/calling after the flop. After that, you've got to fold. Really, you are only drawing to another Ace. But I always think of you as a very well rounded player, particularly with Omaha, so I'm sure you've though most of this too. It was a great time playing with you.


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