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The Financial Game

Last night, I joined Matty Ebs for a new home game, a 1/2 NL, $200 max buy-in game populated by white guys in their mid- to late-20s with jobs involving the financial markets. By the time I left, I was reminded of how profitable poker can be and the pure joy of spending some time slinging cards with strangers and friends.

I'm very greatful to poker and Matty Ebs. Ebs and I grew up together on Long Island. He was my younger brother Dave's friend, and when I was old enough and Matty was still young enough, I used to babysit him and his two younger brothers. Life moved on and I didn't have much occasion to see Ebs. Yet, years later, at one of Dave's social events, Matty and I started talking and the subject of poker came up. I was obsessed with poker at the time (still am), and I was amazed at hearing Matty's stories. For a while, he made his living off of poker in the casinos in New Orleans. He also dealt in some underground clubs. He clearly was successful at the game, so it was refreshing to have someone to talk poker with. From there, I helped him get into some local home games, like the SIF game, Soxlover homegame and most recently the Wall Street Game. I got him the invites because I knew that he could handle himself at the table and socially. I was also happy to help him get into these games, because incidentally he was a valuable source of post-game analysis and, more importantly, good company. What I never expected was that Ebs would get me into some homegames of his own, and so far, the results have been very positive. The first time involved the Lawyer's Game, where I won the tournament and several hundred dollars. This time, it was the Financial Game, but the results were largely the same.

After work yesterday, I headed home to change and refresh before the 8pm Financial Game start time. Wifey Kim was also home, and we caught up while we changed out of our work clothers. Wifey Kim had plans herself. Her usual America's Next Top Model viewing club (i.e., wifey Kim and a bunch of her friends), were skipping ANTM for a night of dinner and drinks to celebrate a friend's birthday. With the night to myself, I jumped at Matty's invite to the Financial Game. At first, I thought it was the Lawyer's Game, but after a few more emails, I learned that it was a 1/2 NL game with a set buy-in of $200, no more no less. My live bankroll took a hurting a few months ago, and still hadn't recovered, largely because I didn't have much opportunity to play 1/2 NL live. This would be my opportunity.

I left the house wearing my convertible pants, random t-shirt, and a black hoodie that feels 2 sizes too small. I had my iPod and my Buddha card cap with me, but I had left my sunglasses at work. I didn't let it bother me much, since I figured no one would be wearing sunglasses. I was correct in that assumption. I emptied my poker wallet of everything except $400, my two buy-ins. If I lost two buy-ins, I knew that I wouldn't be in the mental condition necessary to win back my money. In fact, I sorta felt like I had to limit myself. My confidence was busted after my -$600 loss at Nice Look and -$400 loss at Wall Street, two months prior but still ever-present in my mind, so I figured a stop-loss would be a necessity.

On the subway ride to the game, I relaxed a bit more. I converted my pants to shorts, as I relaxed listening to Ron & Fez on my iPod. Upon arrival, I bounded up the stairs, two at a time, to get to the cool, fresh air. I made my way to the game, ultimately stopping at a corner store for a bottle of water and McD's to meet Matty. We chatted a bit and then headed to the apartment. On the way, I asked Matty about the game. I didn't get much information beyond the fact that these were people in the world of finance. That told me enough; specifically, that they had money, and were likely aggressive, competitive people.

Amazingly, the apartment is in the same building as bro-in-law Marc. I contemplated calling him to join us, but I was uncertain about the amount of available seats and whether I would be there for any significant length of time. When we arrived, four other guys were already there, sitting around a long poker table set up in the moderately-sized apartment. NYC apartments are typically small, but this one was adequately sized. Even so, the layout was such that it felt like we were playing poker in a hallway. I grabbed the seat closest to the front door and joked about how it would be easy to leave after I busted. I like to start from a position of self-deprecation when it comes to playing poker. It makes it a bit easier when I win money and look like the lucky donk (see last post for the benefits of looking like a lucky donk vs. a skilled player).

Matty had taken the seat to my immediate right, and I was glad to have position on the one player I knew was an aggro mofo. I felt a bit bad about it too, and considered moving my seat, but ultimately, I stayed put because of the convenient location of the chair. I thought to myself that we should draw for seats, but I wasn't the host, nor a regular, so I kept my mouth shut. Some people don't see the importance of dealing for seats. Those people are called ignorant. Position is 9/10ths of the law (or is that possession?). If you have great position, it can make the difference between a winning and losing session. Still, my seat was good, so I wasn't going to rock the boat.

I bought in for $200, as did everyone else, and we started 7-handed, once another player arrived. We remained 7-handed until 11pm, when an 8th player arrived and I left.

To start off, I tried to limp into lots of pots with suited connectors and the like. I was interested in getting a feel for the players, many of whose names I couldn't remember. To my immediate left was the tightest player, who I believe was named Chris. Chris looked like a young, happy Tim Meadows (from SNL fame). Whenever I looked over at him, he had a big smile on. In general, if he was in a hand, he had AQ, AK, or a decent pocket pair. This was a very social game, and players were loudly joking about his tightness. I took that cue and kept clear of him whenever possible. It helped that I didn't have any good hands on the few occassions he raised preflop.

To his left was Peter, who kinda looks like the main character from the videogame Hitman. He was friendly enough, although relatively quiet compared to the rest of the room. He was also a pretty loose caller, and I used that to my advantage when I could. Interestingly, he seemed fairly wary of me, and I didn't play any significant pots with him, although I did win a few pots by getting him to call preflop and sometimes flop bets, only to fold to turn bets.

To his left was the host. Amazingly, I don't recall his name. He looked like a fairly typical post-frat guy. He sported a shirt that said in bold letters, "SAVE DARFUR." I took it as an ironic joke, but it may have been sincere. The guy has a charming smile and a hot girlfriend (who later came home, showered and walked around the apartment a bit, while I nonchalantly tried my best not to appear as though I was checking her out...what with me being a guest and all). His play was a bit erratic. He liked to call preflop a lot, and overall was an action player. I made a lot of my money from him, but lost a few hands as well to his suckouts. It was clear that he was the card sharp (or shark, if you prefer) of the game, and probably the driving force behind the game's existence. Usually, that's a good sign of an action junkie. I focused on him for most of the game, paying close attention to his plays until I was confident I could profit from him consistently.

To his left were Frick and Frack, two guys who may have been twin brothers, for all I could tell. Then both had very serious looks, with a strong brow and a hooked nose. They also were both relatively tight, although they were "outted" as tight less so than Tim Meadows. When they were in a hand, I was looking to flop a monster with suited connectors, or else I was folding. I don't think I saw a river against them either, beyond maybe one or two check-down hands.

After them was Matty and then me.

I didn't take notes at the game for fear of outting myself. I don't want all of my opponents to know about my blog. Some people think I should tell everyone to help readership. Readership can suck a dick for all I care, as long as I can write the truth. If any of these guys are reading this, I should probably add that I had a great time meeting everyone, and if I insult your play or allude to your hot girlfriend, leave it up to literary license. I'm sure you are all really good players and I didn't even check out your girlfriend as she exited the shower. I swear.

I do remember a few hands, without much detail. I had 99 in one hand and flopped top set. I bet preflop to get a call from Hitman and the Host. I bet the flop and got Hitman to fold, but the Host pushed all-in for $50+ more. I called, and he showed an open-ended straight draw with his QTo, which he hit on the river. By then, I was already up over $100, so I was friendly as I pushed him my chips.

I had 67h once against Frack (not Frick). He raised in LP, Matty called and I called. The flop was Q73. It checked around. The turn was a six, and I bet out. Frack called. By the river, I think he folded. The point was, even when I was loose preflop, I generally waited until I was in good situations before putting more money into the pot. That was the key to making most of my money against the Host. See a flop for cheap, then bet out if I hit, double the bet on the turn, and he'd eventually fold. In fact, I think I bluffed only once last night, in another hand against Ebs and Frack, after it was clear that no one hit the flop.

Ebs was my other donator for the night. It seemed like he was constantly betting into me, especially after I built the pot with a preflop raise. He's an aggressive player, and I essentially used my position and his loose requirements to my advantage. Like the Host, Matty often called my flop bets or preflop bets, only to fold to later continuation bets.

At around 10pm, I figured I should announce my expected time of exit, 11pm. I told the table as a courtesy that I had to leave at 11. I didn't really have any reason, beyond my desire to relax at home before bed. Sometimes, I feel like the wet blanket leaving "early", but poker is a game of money, and I don't let anyone dictate how I spend my money. Often, I get the same feeling at the Wall Street Game. I'll opt to skip the post-tourney cash game because I just want to be at home relaxing. I guess it is a bit of agoraphobia.

About 8 minutes before 11, the 8th player arrived. I saw this as a good opportunity to cash out, and did so, with a profit of $270. I expected more, but I wasn't complaining. With my payout in hand, I thanked the host (and "tipped" him with the $4 extra I had won, $274 total), shook everyones' hands, and headed outside. The air was cool and crisp. I found a subway and began my ride home.

When I got home, wifey Kim was already sleeping on the couch. I helped her to bed, and lied with her for a minute. I wanted to go to sleep, but my body was still flowing with adrenaline from poker. I got up to watch some mindless television (South Park premiere, which was kick-ass, followed by Kid Nation because I'm a tool), and eventually returned to bed. Thoughts and fears about work went through my head, but I did my best to ignore them. After all, there is no reason to waste a good night's sleep because of what might or might not happen the next day.

The Financial Game plays every Wednesday, and I definitely plan on returning sooner or later. My first go-to place will remain the Wall Street Game, mostly because of the convenience, low buy-ins and fun company, but its nice to have another outlet.

Next weekend, I'll be in AC with Dave Roose. Today, the BossMan asked me to check out a possible case in Atlantic City, so I might be heading there tomorrow or on Monday. No complaints from me. I just can't get enough.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:22 AM,


At 2:19 PM, Blogger Drizztdj said...

I wish I had a poker playing friend, versus friends who view poker as "boring" unless wild cards are involved.

Playing online really sucked compared to playing in Key West.

At 5:01 PM, Blogger loona said...

Drizz - time to pack your bags and move East! You'd be a welcome addition to the Wall Street and I Had Out games.

Glad to hear you ended up in the black Jordan - I know the WS cash game has been a harsh mistress to you. Matty Ebs was at the last WS game I played - fun to be at a poker table with him again.

See you at the next tourney!


At 11:32 AM, Blogger ckbluffer said...

Which one was Matty Ebs?


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