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Triple Score

I feel energized today, and 1/3 of the reason has to do with poker!

After work yesterday, I fully intended to return to Salami for their $60 rebuy tournament. Coming off of my recent losses at the LI underground club, I felt a bit uncertain about my game. This is par for the course, really. Generally, whenever I have a loss, I'll feel it for days until I can get a win under my belt. I recognize this as a shortcoming, in a sense. After all, I also believe that you must be confident to play your optimal game. At the same time, this heightened feeling of uncertainty can sometimes help me to adjust my game, essentially what I discussed in the last post. So, as long as I am able to channel that nervous energy in the right direction, I suppose it isn't the worst thing in the world. At least it doesn't mean that I am going to tilt.

So, Salami was on the menu for yesterday evening until I got an Evite reminder from Jamie of the Wall Street Poker game. I had played there in June and lost about $100 in the cash game, but since that date had been otherwise busy when the twice weekly games arose.

This time, Jamie was running a $25 tournament, with $23 going to the prize pool and $2 going to a leaderboard challenge. By the end of the three month season, the player with the highest points wins 1/2 of the $2 pool, and the other half is put into a freeroll for players who played a set number of games, akin to the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments freeroll rules.

Fortunately, there were still spots left in the game, and since it was a mere three walking blocks from my apartment, I jumped at the opportunity. After work, I headed home, changed into some non-descript shorts and a black t-shirt (successfully breaking my dependence on my poker uniform), and headed out the door with my backpack in tow. I arrived at the game near last, and poker was underway in no time.

I wish I could say that I kicked ass in the first tournament. I did, sorta, to start off, when I won an early hand with K8o. I was UTG, but the two blinds were dead stacks from players who had yet to arrive. I figured I'd limp and see if I can get lucky. Sure enough, I limped and the button is the only player, raising to 150 from the 50 big blind. At that point, I still liked my chances, given the dead money and pot odds, so I called.

The flop was K53. I checked and my opponent, a seemingly unexperienced player, bet out 200. I flat called. The turn was a low card and I checked. My opponent bet out 300. I called. The river was another blank and my opponent bet 300 again. I flat called. He showed 66 and I took down the pot.

To the untrained eye, I played two crappy cards and then passively played the hand, asking for a suckout and certainly not maximizing my potential. To me, I found the perfect balance of getting paid off and not exposing myself too much if I was behind. Admittedly, I didn't have much information about my opponent's game or his cards. On the flop, I called with odds, hoping to flop the King or simply fold. Essentially, it was 100 into the 275 pot, and if I hit, I was confident I could win enough chips to make it worth the call. When I hit, I still had no info on his hand, but I was fairly confident that he did not have AA or KK. He may've had AK or even KQ, but the much more likely hand was any pocket pair, QQ or under. So, I was likely ahead, but I checked because I wanted more information. His bet was small, but also his demeanor was not at all confident. I called because I could afford the 200 into the now 575 pot, since my starting stack was an ample 2500. Keep in mind that I am also very confident in my abilities to come back from a 'short' stack, so I didn't mind gambling it up early.

On the turn, I checked again. I was confident that I was ahead, but I was just as confident that he would do the betting for me. He did, a weak 300, but I chose to flat call because a raise would push out a weaker hand and encourage a re-raise from a stronger hand, to which I would have to fold. Sure, that would provide more information, but it was not information I could act on AND he was pricing me into calling. Also, I did have reason to believe he didn't have a better hand. In his position, I'd think a bigger hand would bet back more, but alas, instead he was betting out a paltry 300, and that's all I had to call into the now 1075 pot. Call I did.

The river was much the same as the turn. I didn't worry if I didn't get another dime into the pot, so I checked it. I was happy to win the 1375 pot outright, and I was confident that my opponent, showing weakness (and not apparently feigning it) would bet small, if at all. He obliged with 300, and I had to call into the now 1675 pot. And hence, I seemingly played very passively with crappy cards after I got lucky on the flop, but in reality, I just let my opponent hang himself.

Still, I didn't win the first tournament, due to a huge blow taken with 88. The blinds were rising steadily, so I raised to 1400 (200/400 blinds) UTG with 88. Steven, a decent player sitting across from me, pushed all-in for about 1000. To my surprise, Mary of the IHO games, decided to raise all-in, for an additional 1500 or so on top of my 1400. It may have been even more, like 1900. I thought for a moment and put Mary on a range of AK, AQ, and overpairs. It seemed like a good time to fold, but I just couldn't get the image of AK out of my head. Mary is known as a tight player ("known as" being the important words), but she also knows me as loose and she's more likely to open her range against me, speaking from experience. I called and she showed 99. Steven showed A9. The turn was an Ace and I was very shortstacked. I later went all-in one a cointoss, and was down to 50 chips. I tripled up once, but eventually busted in the BB with 23o v. 33. Oh well.

After the game, I hung out with Jamie and a new player while they played Backgammon. Its an interesting game, but a far cry from poker. Regardless, I love games.

While perusing the apartment, I saw a DVD-ROM with all of Amazing Spiderman comics from its inception to 2006. Jamie and I began chatting, as I had a similar CD-ROM collection, and he mentioned that he had a slew of old Green Arrow comics that I could have. My eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas (according to movies...I'm Jewish). In total, I grabbed 30 comics, and have another 90 to go when I'm done with this set. That was the first part of my triple score of happiness.

I stuck around for the second game and things went a lot better. In both games I had a lot of fun, chatting with the table and being my usual sarcastic self. Everyone were good sports, thankfully, and it was a great time. It didn't hurt, though, when I began to whoop arse in game two, chipping up fairly early when I bet out preflop with AQ and only got one caller. We checked it down to the rivered Ace, I bet out 500 and he called, showing AJ.

I hit a major hand not too much later when Pauly, a smart player who is prone to tricky manuevers, raised to 200 in LP with JT. I had AJ, and having limped UTG, I opted to call. We saw a Jack-high flop with two clubs. I checked, Jamie (the third player in the hand) checked, and Pauly checked. The turn was an Ace of clubs. I bet out 400, Jamie folded, and Pauly raised to 800 total. I had two pair, and I didn't see him with the flush, so I raised back 1000 on top. He thought briefly and raised all-in. I called, and he showed JT, for flopped two pair. I turned him for the "suckout" (really, he sucked out first on the flop and I resucked before getting all our money into the pot).

I began to amass a big stack and I used it as such. One of the players, Wendy, even commented that I was willing to use my big stack. "That's what a big stack is for!" I got very lucky in a hand against Jamie, who had emerged as second chipleader. He limped UTG and I raised with 77. I think we had one other preflop caller. The flop had maybe two overcards to my 7s, and two clubs. Jamie pushed all-in. I thought for a while and called. He showed KK and I went runner runner for the flush. Incidentally, his play screamed AA or KK, but I thought it screamed it too obviously. In other words, I thought he was representing AA or KK because he really had AQ or AK and missed the flop. I was wrong. Interestingly, it was the mirror image of a hand I had with CJ recently, only that time I was Jamie and I held AA. It's interesting being on the opposite side of the same hand.

After unceremoniously sucking out on the host, I was a huge stack. I bludgeoned the rest of the table periodically, enough to keep their stacks down but not appear like I'm playing any two cards. These were smart players and if they thought I was raising with anything, they'd play back at me and I'd have to fold. However, eventually I busted the rest of the table until it was just me and Mary heads up. She began raising all-in a lot, so I folded, hoping for a better spot. I started to feel pushed around, so I began open pushing with mediocre hands. It worked too, until she called my allin when I had J4c and she had A9. The flop had a Jack, and no Ace came. For my troubles, I won $152 ($102 profit for the night), and made my spot on the leaderboard, where Mary sat comfortably on top after winning a tournament sometime in the last week or so. Winning the tournament was a huge relief fot me, and was the second third of my triple score of joy.

This morning, I scraped myself out of bed at 9am. I fortunately didn't have to wake up early today because I had a deposition at my old office, right across the street from Jamie's apartment. I was extremely nervous. Depositions are essentially like taking testimony (like what you see on TV) except instead of being on the stand in a courtroom, the parties are asking the questions in an office. It's essentially like a pre-interview. They are crucial to cases, because it'll let you know what information is out there BEFORE trial, and you get responses immediately, instead of making a document request and waiting 30 days for a response.

I had taken depositions before, but not many for my current employer. Luckily, this was a crap case (value wise, not liability wise) so my boss let me have at it. In my first deposition in this case, however, I felt like I did a piss poor job. More accurately, the defendant produced an employee with no relevant knowledge, but I still felt uncertain about my questions and the way I handled myself. Today, however, was a different story.

For you non-lawyers, just imagine an aspect of your job that is somewhat new, crucial to your career, and can only be done once. No do-overs, no mulligans. I had to get the information or we were going to have a damn hard time winning this case. And amazingly, after 5 minutes, it just felt so natural. I'm a natural talker and I'm good with logic, so asking questions is kinda easy, given my skill set. Its more than just using a script. You have to listen to the answer and change your questions accordingly. You also want to avoid going in order because its too easy for deponents to have a pre-set story, coached by counsel. If you can ask things out of order, it can throw them off, and you'll get more sincere responses. This is what I did, and after the initial questions, I didn't even need my notes. When I ran into some roadblocks, I was able to change course and use the negative responses in my favor. By the end, it was clear that defense counsel was rethinking her case and wondering if maybe there was more to it than she originally estimated. This is the part of the job I love. Thinking on your toes, getting your hands dirty, getting to the heart of a matter. I'm a big fan of simplifying, so if I can turn a broad case into one simple topic, hopefully one that is obviously in our favor, that's what I'll do. I did that today.

I practically skipped back to the office, thanks to this third part of my triple score. Now I've got to get back to my daily life, but at least I'm doing it with a smile. It's been a while since I've had one of those.

Until next time, make mine poker!

*****This post sponsored by the fine folks at the GNUF poker room. *****

posted by Jordan @ 12:28 PM,


At 3:24 PM, Blogger Chipper said...

Nothing brings back the old confidence like doing well in your poker games. I believe that when we kick ourselves for not being able to win every time we go out there we simply have to realize that it's impossible to win every time. Some nights you just won't win the coin flips or simply get outdrawn. All the skill in the world can't prevent that. Perhaps that is why poker will never be considered a pure skill game in the government's eyes.

At 4:11 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

Still not sure about the K8 hand...but that is the beauty of poker...each hand is different for each person and there are so many outcomes that are the often heard "depends."

My two cents though...that whole scenario just seemed unjordanlike to me. You call utg hoping to get those free blinds, but calling basically guarantees you have to earn them with flop play with a very vulnerable hand or possibly even fold to a hefty raise. As it turned out, you put 150 into the pot by calling the raise, but you could have done that by raising yourself and better controlling the hand.

I don't know...just a weird hand from start to finish, but always difficult to ascertain a hand and situation and feel for the table when not actually there seeing it play out live.

Nice score...always a good thing to walk away from a night of poker with a profit...

At 4:33 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Trip, I've been using the K8 play a lot actually. Its less about the starting hand and more about calling players down with top pair out of position, as opposed to betting out. I guess an additional aspect that I missed is that it gets the other player to slow down, since I'm generally so loose and suddenly I'm just check-calling. Most players see this as a slowplay trap, so I get to the river for cheaper than usual with a marginal but potentially-winning hand. I love the play. Preflop, though, I admit I was fishing.

At 7:11 PM, Blogger DP said...

Jordan, you're specifically talking about controlling the pot size with a relatively marginal holding that you still think is probably the best hand.

You can often get more value by keeping the pot size small because by checking you induce a bluff from a player with a hand that would not call a bet but might make a raise that forces you to fold the best hand if you had bet.

Well played, particularly because of the dead blinds -- there is equity in that situation, even with a hand like K8o, if you're able to play well post-flop, which is what you did.

At 7:18 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

DP, you explained it a lot better than I did. Thanks.

At 8:17 PM, Blogger KajaPoker said...

I think it's a dangerous play that worked out. At what point do you give up on the hand? Do you release if he puts in a bigger bet? Do you release if he checks the turn but bets the river? Anyway, glad to see the stars are aligning for you. Good thing come in threes.

I got a lot of great remarks about the banner you made and gave you the credit every time. So thanks again for doing that.

And do you mind bringing back the full post on the RSS feed? Right after my rant about the short feeds you go and make the change. Come on, man! You can still put the sponsored links at the end of your feeds.

At 9:54 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

Done, Kaja. It was a temporary situation, and I was planning on returning the full feed.


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