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You Decide #51 and #52

Hey folks. It's been a while since I've dusted off an ole You Decide post. You know the one. I post a hand, you tell me I'm a donkey, and we all have a laugh. This time, we'll combine You Decide hands 51 and 52, to give you TWO chances to call me a donkey. Let's get crackalackin'!

You Decide #51

This is a fun one from the Mookie last night. In fact, I wasn't going to make it a You Decide because I wasn't sure that there was much to discuss, so this may be a throwaway. Whatever the case, I know this hand got some fun responses in the chat window last night, mostly, "What did you have?" The guesses were a low pocket pair, AA and 89s, but you were all wrong.

We are at the 20/40 blind level, and I have a paltry 745, the shortest stack at the table. There are seven players, and I am sitting UTG+1 when I'm dealt AKo. UTG folds, and I think for a second before I opt to simply limp. It was clear that the bloggery table was relying on the ole Jordan is Loose read, so I wanted to change things up. I was also a shortstack, so I didn't want to get into trouble out of position with a hand that needs an Ace or King to improve. Newinnov, sitting to my immediate left, min-raises to 80 total. SoxLover calls. Fluxer, in the SB, calls. It folds to me and I limp-raise to 360 total, leving me with 385 behind. All my opponents fold.

I've already mentioned my limping logic, but once that min-raise happened and got so many callers, I could only envision crap hands playing. Once again, I didn't want to push because it would look MORE desperate. I also wanted to utilize the image that a UTG limp-raise usually brings up, namely AA. I figured that none of the players loved their hands, so the bet was enough to win it all, but if they re-raised all-in, I was going to call and hope for an AQ who figured they could take a cointoss against me if they thought I had a pocket pair below QQ. Frankly, even a QQ would be worth it, now that I had all those min raise callers, leading to a pot of 320 before I raised it up. So, what do you think? Clever play, or was I stupid for limping in the first place. This isn't how I would play it every time, but was it a legitimate and optimal play here?

You Decide #52

Same Mookie tournament, but now we are at the 50/100 level. I've chipped up to 1800, and now sit at a table with 8 other players. I'm the third shortest stack, but most players have only 2500. I am in the SB with AdJx. It folds to the button, TuscaloosaJohn, the only big stack with a whopping 4290. He raised to 300, and I opted to call. At the time, I had a good hand, but John had not been stealing that often from me, so I opted to call instead of raise back. NewinNov, in the BB, called as well.

The flop was 8d Jd 4d, giving me top pair top kicker and the nut flush draw. I checked, New checked, and John pushes all-in. It didn't take me long to call. New folds. John flips QQ, with no diamond. The turn and river are both diamonds, and I double up.

So, did I get lucky? I called preflop because of my strong hand, but didn't raise because I was out of position and John had not been stealing a lot, even with his deepstack. On the flop, I checked because I was out of position without any information. I figured that if everyone checks, I get a free card, and if someone bets, I'll have more info to determine if I should raise or fold. When John pushed, it just didn't fit. An overpair sorta made sense, but I had the NUT flush draw, in case he had the overpair. I was hoping for something more tame, like TT or even AK with the King of diamonds. Whatever the case, I won the hand, but should I have called his all-in? Should I have led out on the flop or maybe even raised preflop, given his position and my decent cards to defend from a potential button stealer?

Hammer Revisited
I also want to take a moment to reflect on my hammer trashing yesterday. I don't think it is my role to announce the death of the hammer. Hardly. The hammer is its own beast, and will outlive me, you and even its progenitor. And that beast has bite. In the Mookie last night, I saw the Hammer win at least 5 hands, including one by 23Skidoo, who was apparently sitting out for the tournament. In one of his hands when he was all-in, he held 27o, only to river trips. Well played, sir!

If anything, the Hammer's amazing resurgence last night made me reconsider my analysis of the Hammer's usefulness. A cornerstone of the Hammer philosophy is that ANY hand can win in poker, even the worst hand pre-flop. After all, 27o is not that far behind most unpaired hands. When you hit with 27o, you are also likely to get paid off, too.

So, I may have to reconsider my Hammer stance. I may still use it, but sparingly and in specific situations, thereby removing the randomizing element, but retaining some of the Hammer's benefits, when and where I need it.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:06 PM, , links to this post




Size Matters

I think I'm retiring the Hammer from my repetoire. I have long sang the praises of the hammer for a variety of reasons, but more and more, I find myself folding when I see that glorious 72o. Part of it is the feeling that the joke has gotten old. Part of it is the feeling that the major benefits that 72o offers, namely randomized bluffing and tilt-factor, are just not worth some of the drawbacks I see lately, namely the desire to time my bluffs better and the destruction of my table image. Of course, if you are striving for a donkey table image, it just might work for you, but more and more, I want players to FOLD online, and the hammer is giving them way too much incentive to call me and draw out. This isn't definite, though, just something for me to think about.

Meanwhile, I placed 4th out of 45 players for $68 profit last night in a multi-table SNG on Full Tilt. I was poised for a nice run at first until my TT fell to 99, all-in preflop. It doesn't phase me though. Fortunately, I made it to 4th without sucking out on anyone for the entire tournament. The bottom line is, I played well, I felt good about it, and I had results to match. In fact, I was in 1st place from about 40 players left until about 21 or so, thereafter staying in the top 6 spots until the blinds got really high and there was more stack fluctuation.

Now, back to the subject of getting players to fold. I copied and pasted a hand history (now, lovingly converted to a narrative, below) that illustrates the importance of bet-sizing.

I have 4525, with 200/400 blinds. There are 12 or 13 players left in the tournament, and only 6 at my table. I'm dealt A8o on the button.

For most of this tournament, I was playing tight, with random bursts of aggression. Usually, the aggression came with a rush of cards. For instance, I was dealt AJ, AQ, AA, and 99 four hands in a row at one point. So, during that mini-rush, I went from fold-fold-fold to raise-raise-raise. I mention this only to illustrate that I was NOT playing hands like A8o in this tournament. In fact, I rarely would play such a hand in any situation that did not wreak of desperation. But when it folded to me, I had to assess the situation.

The SB had 2700 and teh BB had 2435. Ultimately, I decided that I wanted the 600 in the pot. It would give me another free orbit, and I was in position to take it without much resistance. The only thing I had to worry about was one of the blinds getting a major hand, like 88-AA, or AT-AK. Even though A9 dominates me, there are ways to get A9 to fold, so that wasn't much of a concern.

The key was to figure out how much to bet. By pushing all-in, I would put the players to the test. They would be hard-pressed to call, but if they did, at least they knew that they would get to see all 5 cards for one price. I could limp, but that's just ridiculous. I want those blinds easy. So, what to do?

In this instance, I raised to 1,200. It's a weird bet, basically because if the players are going to call, they will likely just push, since my bet would leave them with about 1k behind. To make things odder, I have essentially pot-committed myself to calling if either of the players push.

All that said, they both folded. They may have just had two horrible hands. But upon reflection, I realized that the size of my bet was extremely effective.

When you get down to the desperation portion of tournaments, players like the SB and BB with barely 5x the BB may just call you with anything. Hell, KTo might take a swing, if the player is in "they were the best cards I've seen in hours" mode. While I may be ahead of KTo, I'm not ahead enough. So, I want to find a price that removes the awfukit calls. Calling an all-in here is actually EASIER for the small stacks than calling or raising my 1200 bet. The bet essentially forces them to think beyond "I'm willing to gamble." It puts the onus on them. Instead of the awfukit all-in call, the players have to affirmatively RAISE(!) or, if they choose to foolishly call and see a flop, decide whether to hold onto their pittance if they miss. In either situation, the SB or BB have to take more personal responsibility for thier bust, which creates a psychological consequence to thier action beyond what they would face for an awfukit call. If the players are smart enough to realize that I've price myself in to a call no matter what they do, they are even more likely to fold. After all, my raise looks MORE fishy to them, like I am trying to induce a raise or a call with a monster hand.

Or, I'm just reading too much into it. So, this is my question: If you are in the SB or BB's position, are you more inclined to call an all-in from the button than a bet that is more than 1/2 your stack?

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:11 PM, , links to this post




WSOP 2007

The 2007 WSOP starts in a matter of hours, this is my last ditch plea to get in on some of the action. So, this is me, officially declaring that I am looking for any and all prop bets. If you are interested in one of the following bets, for as little as $1 and as much as $20, leave a comment. Even if you can't be at the 2007 WSOP, at least playing along will be fun. I've only got two ideas currently, but I'm open to others.

1. Over/Under amount of players in the Main Event- You send me your over/under number and I'll choose to go over or under.

2. Pick'em Horserace- You choose one or more professional players and I do the same. For each bracelet won by your or my player(s), the other person pays. This will last for the entire WSOP, and could accumulate some nice dough...or none at all. We can even offer a lesser amount for each final table, such as $1 for final tabling, $5 for wins, or even $5/$20.

I am reserving my right to cap the betting and reject any offers, but I'm interested in getting some action on this thing, so hit me up with a comment or email if you are interested.

posted by Jordan @ 9:02 AM, , links to this post




Heil AlCantHang and PokerWolf!

A few months ago, I made a bet that could only be called foolish. It went something like this: I choose four bloggers who I think will place highest in the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments. Then, any taker could choose EIGHT! bloggers for their roster. Whoever had the highest placing blogger by the end of the series would win. Even money.

Yeah, not so smart. 8 > 4.

There was some logic in my decision making. I chose people who did well in blogger tournaments and also were likely to play a lot of events. Unfortunately, my roster actually sucked during the first half of the events, if they showed up at all.

So, it is without further adieu that I praise the kindness that is AlCantHang and Pokerwolf. Not only did they both school me by choosing great rosters, but they were also kind enough to let me out of this bet at the halfway mark for 1/2 the price. Since we made that deal, ironically, my team has made strides, but I'm confident that they couldn't catch up to Al and Wolf's eight player teams.

So, Al and Wolf, I commend thee. I wish that your pots, bacon-intake and newly-born infants be healthy from now until the distant future (in reference to bacon, healthy as in ample, and not healthy as in non-clogged arteries).

At least this time when I made a sucker's bet, I was doing it for fun.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 6:21 PM, , links to this post




Decimation (Vegas Trip Report Pt 8)

This is the tough part...

After returning from our evening's activities, the group strolled into the Excalibur for some late night gambling. I had already resigned myself to the fact that poker was not working at the Excal, so I was glad to join the guys for some table games.

At the time, I was drunk off vodka, jittery off Red Bull, and high on gambling. I was not that drunk the entire trip, nor was I that drunk in the past months if not years. It was a covalescing of a weekend of debauchery. My body was exhausted from lack of sleep, my eyes were heavy from a morning sitting in the sun, my stomach was ravaged by the horrors of casino food, and as explained, the intoxicants, including gambling, had messed up my head.

We strolled up to a roulette table, and Johnny was explaining his foolproof technique for winning. I'd heard it before, with a slightly different variation, but as I listened in my stupor, it made perfect sense. Bet the minimum on the 2nd 12 and 3rd 12. This would cover roughly 66% of the numbers. The logic goes, you hit your 66% of the board, and win 1 bet, because each 12 spots pay out 2 to 1. In other words, if you bet $10 on the 2nd 12 and $10 on the 3rd, and number 34 comes up (3rd 12), you lost $10 from the 2nd 12 bet, but win $20 profit on the 3rd 12, giving you $10 profit, total. If you miss, you double your bets. If you miss again, double them again. This way, if you hit #6, and then double up to $20 on 2nd and 3rd 12, and then hit #24, you get paid $40 for the hit, and you've lost $40 total (two $10 bets and one $20), thereby breaking even. If you miss again, say if #1 comes out, then double again. Now, if you hit, you wi $80, covering the two $10 bets, the two $20 bets and the one $40 bet that missed. Even again!

It's a fool proof plan, or is it? To my addled brain it made sense. I knew the strategy already, but I heard of it as a much more simple Black or Red proposition. With the Black/Red bet, you simply choose one color and keep doubling your bets until it hits. I figured Johnny's way would have LESS variance, because you cover a greater portion of the board. However, the cash outlay was greater, double in fact, so it actually probably has GREATER variance.

And here is the ultimate problem: The strategy IS foolproof, but its not bankroll proof. In fact, you need an unlimited bankroll, so you can last through those seemingly impossible stretches when the 1st 12 hit 10 times in a row. This was my error.

At first it went well, but then we missed and I doubled. We missed again and I doubled. And again. And again. Suddenly, I have $160 or more up there (ultimately, I forget), but the cumulative effect is that I lost over $600 playing fucking roulette!! What a joke! In my brain, I just kept sayin, "Next spin and I'm back to even," but I finally had to give up. I couldn't afford to double my bets.

When I gave up, I walked away from the table. My friends were still partying on, throwing chips around and having fun. I reverted to my shell-shocked catatonic state, every few minutes opening my wallet to assess the damage. I had ruined my bankroll. I was alreayd down $200+ in table games before the debacle, but after, it was more like $900. My bankroll had shrunk due to a recent spat of losses in NYC and the need to dip in a bit to pay for my Vegas trip, and suddenly, those months of work and determination led up to a couple of $100 bills that were ostensibly from my ATM for expenses, not gambling. My bankroll was decimated within an hour because I was drunk, stupid, and gambling.

And this is my shame. I shouldn't have been playing that high. It would have been okay if I simply played $100 or even $200 spread across numbers. But I jumped in, blindly, with too much money and I suffered the consequences. I tried to find a way to console myself. Ultimately, I relied on my anti-tilt poker techniques, reminding myself that the losses were done. Now it was time for me to figure out my future, not dwell on the past. I could sulk about the loss for the rest of the trip and go home feeling like a loser, miserable about my time in Vegas, or I could accept my weakness for table games (compounded by intoxicants), accept my lapse in judgment, and resolve to never put myself in that position again. I had my hand, now how was I going to play it?

Oddly, I went back to the roulette table and bought $100 worth of single chips. It was too early (by Vegas standards) to call it a night, so I resolved to get as many free drinks as possible while playing the game as it is meant to be played, responsibly and for fun. And a nice thing happened. Although I didn't win back the $700, I won back $100, by seemingly hitting my numbers 6 or so times in a row. When I was "up" an even $100, I finally cashed out. I felt somewhat vindicated that I was able to correct myself. I know that the game is all luck, and probably one of the worst house edges in the casino, but I couldn't help but feel like someone was saying, "Ok, Jordan. Lesson learned. Now here is a little back. Consider it mercy."

A couple of times, the thought of my decimated bankroll came to me while I tried to sleep, and again the next morning, and again on the flight home. But each time, I remembered that it was an expensive lesson, but one that I needed to learn. I want to be a poker player. But I am still a gambler. I cannot give in to the gambler within me. Next time, I'm sticking with the ole reliable poker. I'll play table games only for $100 at a time, and only with friends or wifey Kim, purely for entertainment. The roulette debacle was NOT me playing for entertainment. That was me playing for easy money, but as demonstrated, the money wasn't that easy.

That ends our trip report. Some commentors thought I was building up to a big win. Nope. The exact opposite. All in all, I had a great time, even though I lost nearly a grand in table games and $51 in poker. I'm now going to have to restart my bankroll. The first step is withdrawing some money from online poker. The next is returning to the NYC underground poker scene. So, you should be getting some interesting live action posts coming up. I'm finally out from the fog of self-doubt that seemed to follow me around post-Vegas.

Until next time, make mine poker...and only poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:55 AM, , links to this post




Winning Begets Winning (Vegas Trip Report Pt 7)

Raging solo once again, I made my way to the MGM. I knew I was on a schedule, since it was almost 4pm and the crew was meeting at 7pm for dinner. I tried to move as quickly as possible, and found myself at the Luxor, which I remembered was one of the stops on the way to the MGM. I stopped a woman and asked how to get to the MGM. She pointed back from where I came, "Go through Excalibur..." The rest was just noise to me. I was walking in the wrong direction. Holy shit. So, I manned up, and started back through the Excalibur. I then realized the err of my ways and took the walkway to New York New York, bypassing their doors and walking down the escalator to another overpass leading me directly to the MGM. The sun was swelteringly hot and I was glad to be back in the air conditioned Valhalla of the MGM.

Once inside, I went to the sportsbook and cashed in Roose and my tickets to the Mets/Yankees first game. I took the dough over to the poker room and put my name on the 6-person long list for 1/2 NL. I was worried it would take too long, given my time constraints, but I resolved to grab a Bluff magazine, sit back, read and wait. In about 20 minutes I was called to the front desk and seated at Table 1, Seat 9. Across the table was the Jared Leto lookalike from the day before. He had less than $100 in front of him. He still wore his Red Cap. I tried to catch his eye to wave or say hi - I was just interested in being friendly - but from what I could gather, he didn't even want to look at me. I don't blame him either. After all, I whooped him the day before and I was going to whoop him again. I knew immediately that he saw me as a luckbox donkey and I would use that to my advantage.

In my second hand, I was dealt AA. I raised to $12, not knowing how the table was going to react to bet sizes. It folded to Red Cap, the only player I knew at the table. He raised to $25 and everyone else folded to me. I knew Red Cap was still sore from the day before. I could see it in his eyes and the way he raised back at me. I pushed all-in, confident that he was going to call the $50 or so left behind him. He did, and at showdown he mucked. My AA held up and I was already up a decent amount. He left the table.

A couple of hands later I make a successful continuation bet with AJ to take down the pot. I may have won a couple of other small pots. With this in mind, when it limped to me in the CO, I decided to play for $2 with my Q8o. I have enough money to not sweat the small blinds. The flop came down 79T, giving me an open-ended straight draw. It checked to the button, who bet all-in for $24. There was no way I was paying $24 into a pot that had maybe $10 in it so far. I resolved that I would have to fold, UNLESS at least two callers also decided to play. I made this decision before any other players acted. An older Asian gentleman, who incidentally was going to be my one trouble at the table, called. A player in MP folded. The friendly young Asian player on my right called as well. I was a bit surprised, but decided that I should follow my initial strategy. I called as well. The turn was a beautiful Jack. Not only did I have the straight, but I had the hidden second-nut straight to the Queen. It was easy to see someone having an 8 for the open-ender, but with the Queen, I had some extra strength. To my surprise, the Asian Asshole bet out $45. The friendly Asian kid called. I was surprised. The pot was now pretty big, and I decided to win it outright. Also, the Jack brought a club flush draw, and while I wasn't worried about someone playing two bare clubs, I had been traumatized by the early flushes and the pot was good enough at the moment. I waited for a moment and pushed all-in. Asian Asshole folded and the young Asian started chatting with me. "Man, I can't believe you put me in this spot." He took his time. "I think we have the same hand...Q8." This perked me up. He announced my freaking hand! I had to think quick. I acted a bit concerned, "You have the Q8? Damn!" "Haha, I'm kidding. I think we have the same hand though. I call." I flashed him my cards. "Sorry, man." He showed A8. The river bought another club, but the all-in player from the flop mucked. I doubled up nicely and was up over $300 in less than 30 minutes.

I considered walking, but when the conidtions are good, I like to stick around. After all, winning begets winning. Well, usually.

I decide to play KQ in late position to a $7 preflop raise from MP. The Asshole Asian calls in one of the blinds. The flop was King-high with two hearts. It checked to the bettor and he bet out $20. When it folded to me, the guy on my left was discussing very publicly his reads. "The bettor has TT or JJ. He's seeing if anyone hit the King." It's just plain wrong to discuss hands like this while the hand is pending, but I was on the same track of thought. 99 or TT would explain the weak preflop bet out of position and the weak feeler bet with one over on the flop. I decided to raise to see where I was at. $40 total, basically a min raise. To my surprise, Asian Asshole calls from one of the blinds. The bettor folds. The turn is a 7h, finishing the flush draw. Asshole checks and I think for a moment. I had put him on the flush draw, and his check seemed fishy, so I checked as well. The river was a blank, or maybe a Queen. He bet out $40. The bet seemed odd. "Do you have the flush? You do have the flush, don't you?" "I'm stealing the pot." I thought for a moment. "I dunno. Okay, I call." He showed J5h for the turned flush. I had the read, but I didn't follow through. Flushes were killing me on this trip.

From here, the Asian Asshole just was relentless. He wouldn't let up, seemingly playing hands merely because I was in it. The players near me were also feeling his brunt, as he caught cards. I wasn't willing to give into the "lucky donkey" attitude, and admitted to my neighbor that once this guy started winning, he just got into the zone. He was making great plays. Sure, he was loose, but that was part of his style. "Winning begets winning." It got to the point where a new player sat in the ten seat and heard me discussing the hand with the nine seat (I had moved to the eight seat after the young Asian left...I struck up a conversation with one of the few other good players at the table, Steve, a NJ guy in the 7 seat). The kid in the 10 seat sat down, heard us discussing how the Asshole Asian was screwed down, playing well. The kid posted his blind, watched one hand after folding and then moved to a new table. He had to freakin wait for his chips to come just so he could toss Asshole his $2 blinds before heading out. He was probably smarter than anyone else on my side of the table. We all knew the Asshole was becoming an unstoppable beast, but couldn't walk away.

By 6:15, I was still up $175, but lost a decent amount of my profit. I decided I needed to leave soon, and chose to play tight to save what profit I had left. Then I got JJ in mid to late position. When the action got to me, I made my standard raise to $15. Of course, Asian Asshole called. An early position limper called as well. This kid had re-raised me a few hands back, getting me to fold. I got the feeling that he (correctly) read me as aggressive, but willing to fold to resistance. He also probably put me on a wide range, since I was playing lots of hands, usually to limps. The flop came down T64, rainbow. It was a nice flop, so after the kid checked, I bet out $45. I was glad when the Asshole folded. I was surprised when the kid called. What do you limp in with and then check-call $45? The turn is an 8 and, amazingly, the kid bets out, $60.

If you are like me, that bet just stops you in your tracks. What the fuck could it mean? Literally at that moment, a super loud technosong started up in the adjacent bar. The bar and poker room shared a wall, but it wasn't an issue except for maybe 2 to 3 times an hour, when the music, for some reason unknown to me, increased volume 10-fold. The sound of the bass beating over and over was literally fogging my mind. I even put my hands up to the sides of my temples and shook my head while saying, "This music is fucking with my head! SHIT!" The guy to my left, a relatively new player to the table who was also pissed at Asian Asshole, said to himself "He has a set." Again, this is just plain wrong, but I'm no one's nanny, so I kept my mouth shut. I was thinking the same thing, and hearing confirmation scared me a bit more. A 44, 66 or 88 might call a raise out of position preflop. In the first two instances, it would explain the flat call of $45 after he flopped a set. Maybe the 8 scared him with phantom straight draws, so he decided to take the lead on the turn. The 88 made sense too. Preflop, its a decent call. Post-flop if he put me on two high cards, all he had to do was hope I didn't have a Ten. Then, when he turned his set, he bet out. Both were plausible scenarios. I thought it over some more. I tried to concentrate.

I had a sneaking suspicion that something wasn't right. I recalled when he re-raised me off a hand a few hands before this one. I believed that he was the type of player to make a play like that, following what history has taught him...that I will fold to resistance. I thought a bit longer and decided to check for tells. In hindsight, I'm surprised no one called for time. My neighbor left for a piss break. I looked at the kid. Shortly after his raise, I asked, "How much do you have left?" He said matter-of-factly, $35. I didn't get any info from his demeanor. I had to try again. "Okay, do you have a set? You might have a set. Damn it, I just don't know." He had stiffened up, placed his hands, clasped together, in front of his mouth. He stared straight ahead like a little robot. I was onto something. I asked the dealer, "Can I show him my cards?" When I got the okay, I laid the JJ face-up on the table. "I have a good hand here. I don't see how I could lay it down. What do you think? Do you want me to fold?" Nothing. And then I realized that he was exhibiting one of the most surefire tells out there: the lack of tells.

Here's a quick lesson. When someone bluffs, they are often so worried about giving off tells, that they go into tell lockdown mode. This involves turning into a statue. To the player, by tightening up phsyically, they are providing no information to induce a call. On the flipside, to me, if you had the goods, you wouldn't be so worried about covering up tells. You'd be more relaxed. The fact that he had shut off all tells led me to believe that he didn't have it. I was shocked that I had come to this conclusion, a full 180 from where I started, thinking I was dominated. "I'm all-in." "I call." "SHIT!" I figured he had it. Why else would he call my all-in? He saw my freaking cards. He flipped over KTs, for top pair, second kicker. The river was a blank and I took down the pot.

When he stood up, I motioned for him to come over. I told him why I called. He was a bit pissy at first, but then, after gathering his stuff, he came over and thanked me and told me "nice hand."

I left there up around $350. In total, I was down $51 from poker. I was overall doing alright, though, and I felt great about that final play. I cashed out and headed to the casino to meet up with the crew.

From there, we all headed out to a condo that was secured by Scotty. It was off the strip, and was a much-needed break from the rest of the weekend. Still, we headed over to the nearby casino, South Pointe, which had just openned up a year and a half before. We grabbed dinner and gambled some more. The party continued complete with drinks and festivities. By the time we were back at the hotel it was late. I was very drunk, mostly on Redbulls and Vodka. Before I left Vegas, though, I was going to face some Demons, and it was going to be one of the most difficult gambling realities that I every faced. But no time for that now. More on that later.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:56 PM, , links to this post




Tanned and Flushed (Vegas Trip Report Pt 6)

Having gone to sleep after 4am, I woke up at 9:30am on Saturday, intent on spending some time outside. The temperatures in Vegas were around 95 daily, and I'm a gambling fiend, so I decided that the smartest strategy was to soak up the rays before it was too hot and the crew wanted to get their gamble on. I sent a quick text message around, but most people were still snoring.

The weather was beautiful outside. I found a lone beach chair and settled in with Wizard magazine, a monthly mag about comic books. God damn, I'm a geek, but one of the joys of being married is that I don't have to impress any of the bikini-clad chicks walking by. In fact, I'm better off not impressing them, so I read my dorky magazine and glanced up every 10 minutes or so, when the five hot chicks in front of me stood up to enter/exit the pool or adjust their bathing suits. For my money, I'd rather see those broads than the desperate strippers from the night before. But who am I kidding. These chicks were probably just strippers on their morning off.

After 45 minutes, Justin texted me. He was at the pool all day on Friday and was going to join me for the Saturday morning session. By then, I was already pretty hot, and I could feel the sun biting through my suntan lotion. 15 minutes later, I got a text from Roose about breakfast in the cafe. I did my best to protect a seat for Justin, but ultimately had to give up, in favor of sustenance. I met Roose, the two Holes, and eventually college friends Big Rob and Johnny for grub. The food did its job, and we left the room to play more table games. When I was done cashing my tickets from the night before, I decided to put some more money on sports. I went with Mets to win and the Under 9.5.

When I got to the Pai Gow table, Roose and Robbie Hole were at a full table. I decided to go play some poker. I returned to the Excal poker room. What the fuck was I thinking!?

I played for probably 45 minutes and lost $300 in all of two hands, back to back.

In the first hand, I was dealt KQh in the BB. By the time it got around to me, a player had raised from the $3 blind to $10 total and had four callers. I called as well. The flop was Q44, with two diamonds. I was fairly confident that I was ahead with top pair, second kicker. I suppose AQ was a possibility, but the 4s didn't concern me. I bet out $20 and was called by a youn Asian player on my immediate right. The turn was an offsuit 6. I bet out $40 and he called. The river was a King of Diamonds, completing the flush draw. Here, I decided to keep the pressure on, and bet $80. The way I saw it, if I check, I'm screwed. He has to bet out, and then am I going to fold? No. So I might as well bet out. I'm not sure if I bet too high, though, because he pushes all-in for $35 more and I just have to call. He shows the flush with two random uncoordinated hearts. I took solace in the fact that he was a drawing donkey, and when he apologized, I told him calmly that its cool, and rebought another $100. I tried to keep myself calm.

On the next hand, I was dealt AQo in the SB. This time, htere were a bunch of limpers, so I raised from $3 to $18, hoping to thin the herd, especially since I was out of position. I got two callers. One said that I was raising on tilt. "True enough, but I have to raise on tilt with these cards!" I tried to joke and laugh about the situation. I think I make the same play on tilt or not here, so I had to at least appear like I was calm and collected. Looking back, I'm still not sure if I was. The flop was Queen-high, with two hearts. I bet out $45, a decent size compared with the pot. I got one caller. The turn was a heart. I think I bet and he pushed. I just couldn't believe that he had the flush. I called. He showed 68h, for a real donkey flush. I stood up and walked away. I told the table, "Good luck. Sometimes its just not your day." The Asian kid to my left apologized to me again. "No problem."

I met up with Roose and Robbie Hole at Pai Gow and sat in for a bit, losing another $50. I won it back at craps. I don't remember what we did next. We started to make our way over to watch the Preakness at the sports book. I through some bets in with Randy Hole, but none of our bets came in. It was a small investment and worth the excitement of having 100 people simultaneously go from quiet to yelling numbres at random. "Go 6! Go 6!"

After, I felt more composed and decided to head over to the MGM to cash my winning Mets ticket from the day before. Roose gave me his ticket and I was glad to rage solo. The crew saw how shocked I was after my $300 poker loss, and I could use some time away. After losses like that, I tend to go catatonic. My face loses all emotion and I wander like a bewildered zombie. The horse races and watching the Mets win (but hitting the Over, for $8 in profits between the two bets) helped soothe me and I was ready to get back to business.

Earlier that day, I had called Heather from the pool. I explained how busy we were and she understood, so my afternoon was fairly free. Our plan to play another tournament was thwarted, but I still had more poker left in me. Now the only question is whether MGM would continue that disastrous trend started in the Excal poker room, or whether I could rekindle that magic that won me $341 at the MGM with ease.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:20 AM, , links to this post




Losing Begets Losing (Vegas Trip Report Pt 5)

Be gentle, kind readers. I have to be honest when I do these trip reports, and that means that I have to relive those moments when I wasn't in my best form. This is one of those posts. I played horribly, and I suffered the consequences. So, you feel free to post about how my plays were bad, but I'm letting you know beforehand that I know. And, I'm also letting you know that somehow, writing about the hands opens the old wounds. Its part of the reason I was hesitant to start the trip report. I don't hide behind false stories or fake things, so re-enacting my failures is like living through them all over again. So, yes, I suck. We got that part. But be gentle. Now, prepare your special 3-D schaudenfreude glasses. Here we go.

Robbie Hole and I were still up for more poker after the Freemont Experience, so we headed to the easiest location, the Excalibur poker room. I was seated at a table with a wid variety of players, but only two notable characters. A big (wide and a little chubby) Asian man sat three or four seats to my right. He looked like a tool, and he played like one too. I had him marked as a target fairly early when he took some money off of Rob by playing J5s to a raise preflop and drawing to the river. The other guy was a slick looking Mediterranean man sitting in the 3s (I was in the 9s). He was the only other player at the table wearing sunglasses, and his big stack suggested that he was playing (or at least running) well.

I felt the fatigue setting in. We were up really late on Thursday night, I got little sleep before Vegas on Wednesday night, and it was well past 3am Vegas time (6am NY time). But poker called me and I obliged.

The first hand I played was KQo. There were a bunch of limpers and I raised $15 on top of the 1/3 blinds because I was in position. Among the callers was Sunglasses Guy, who had limped from UTG. A drunk girl and one other player called too.

The flop was K67, rainbow, and I had a good hand with top pair, second kicker. When it checked to me, I thought I made the smart play of betting $50. I suppose it actually was a smart play, because immediately afterward, Sunglasses pushed all-in for over $300. I had my starting stack of $200 minus the preflop raise and postflop bet, so when it folded to me, I had to think the hand through. Writing it now, it seems like an easy fold, but at the time, the all-in push meant one of two things: (a) he had a monster hand, or (b) he was bluffing because he sensed weakness.

I took a decent amount of time in this hand. I didn't want to let an opportunity go by, in case he was trying to play me. I tried to get some information out of him. "Well, you don't have KK. I know that." I paused. "Hmm...I have a good hand. I want to call you. Let me think." I paused. "You have 66. Or 77. You hit your set. Damn." I let that sit for a minute. "I'm going to fold. I'm folding AK, buddy. Nice hand." Of course, that was a lie. I had KQ, but it was close enough to the truth. After I folded he showed his hand, 66. The table was impressed by my fold, but I thought it was pretty obvious. After all, what do you limp-call with preflop UTG, other than a small pair, hoping to hit a set. Once he hit it, the check-raise was obvious. I'm just happy I wasn't stupid enough to call.

I had 75o in the SB a few hands later and limped along with 5 or 6 people. The flop was 754, rainbow, so I took the opportunity to bet out with top two pair, hoping I could get some action from an overpair. I bet $15 and got two callers, the red-shirted Asian Guy and one of two chicks playing like, well, chicks. The turn was a Jack of spade, creating a spade flush draw. I figured I was still good. Asian Guy liked playing draws, so I had put him on an 6, for an open-ended straight draw. I was praying that there was no 8 or 3. When it didn't come, I decided to bet big and try to take down the hand. I put out $45. The chick folded, but Asian Guy called. The river was an ugly 8. I ignored my fear of the straight draw, since he was willing to call $45 with one hand to come. I still recognized the possibility, but by now, I only had less than $70 behind, so I figured that I was not going to give the hand away because of that improbable scare card. I pushed all-in, my only real move. I could've checked, but any monkey in his situation would've raised me and I would have to call, so at least by raising, I might scare him off and be able to hide my hand. I dunno. At the time the push felt right. He called and showed 96s. He flopped the open-ended straight draw and turned the flush draw. I tried to price him out, but he was just too willing to pay. Did I fuck myself or did fate fuck me? Either way, I was fucked.

I got screwed again a little while later. No, that's not right. I'm not going to belly ache. But I did suffer a tough defeat. A shortstacked player decided to raise to $7 from MP. Asian Guy raised to $14. I had AKo, and decided to raise it again to $45. Neither of their bets scared me, especially the Asian Guy's raise, since I knew his requirements were VERY loose, even to a raise. The first bettor raised all-in, another $12 or so on top. Asian Guy called, and I called as well. The flop was Jack-high with two hearts. Check-check. The turn was another heart. Asian Guy pushes all-in. I fold. The river was a fourth heart, but I didn't have any hearts anyway. The All-in Player showed AQo, and the Asian Guy showed KQh. I had them both dominated, but the Asian Guy hit his flush and I lost the $150+ pot.

Losing begets losing. The last hand was just a shame, but this one I did to myself. With 37s, I was in one of the blinds. It limped around and I checked. The flop was KK7. I was hopeful that I was actually ahead, and I figured that if I weren't I'd know right away. I bet out $20 and only got one caller, Sunglasses Guy. The turn was an 8 or a ten or something. I didn't want to give up on the hand yet, in case he was playing a middle pair. I figured I should fire a second bullet and bet out $35. He called. The river was a blank. I checked. He bet $50. I thought for a moment and folded. He showed K7o, for the flopped boat. I lied once again and said I laid down a King with a crappy kicker. He was impressed by the fold. At least I have that moral or is it immoral victory of getting away with a lie.

Clearly, this was not working. I racked up and left the table. I think I lost about $200-300 in that session, but I don't recall the numbers now specifically. Losing begets losing, and once I began losing due to things somewhat outside of my control (the rivered straight and the AK v AQ v KQ), I essentially just gave up on playing my A-game and suffered the consequences. It wouldn't be the end of my brutal poker losses either, but that will have to wait for another post.

After playing, Hole and I went up to the room. We played some Rummy 500 and tried to relax. We eventually went to sleep at around 5am. I had resolved to wake up early the next day. It was going to be a long Saturday.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:22 PM, , links to this post




Poker-Free Intermission (Vegas Trip Report Pt 4)

Part 4 already and we aren't even done with Friday.

Once I realized that I was ditched at the MGM poker room, I took the opportunity to roam back to the hotel slowly. I hit the beautiful Nevada sun and took a minute to enjoy what little sunshine I'd see. I resolved then and there to wake up early on Saturday to get some time in the sun. I may be a pasty sonuvabitch, but I'd be damned if I came home to NY from Las Vegas even pastier.

Once inside I got the plan via text message. We were all heading to Freemont Street, and in the meanwhile some of the guys were heading to get some grub from the buffet. I had enough of the buffet action and joined Robbie and Randy Hole for some food at the cafe in Excalibur. I hadn't eaten since breakfast and it was fairly late by the time we ate dinner. I like me some food, but somehow poker can supplant that urge. If I'm hungry, I get up to eat...unless I'm playing poker.
Dinner was what dinner always is in these places. Perfectly adequate. We then went to play some tables, while I kept an eye on my Mets/Yankees bets. The Mets were ahead, but it looked like there was no way they were going to hit the 8.5 over, 3 to 2 in the bottom of the 7th. Meanwhile, we kept the drinks coming. We first attempted some Pai Gow Poker, but the table was shut down while a guy was getting a big payout. He had $9 on the bonus and was dealt 5 Aces, for 1,000 to 1 odds (for players unfamiliar with Pai Gow, there is one wild card that can be played to make a straight, flush or otherwise is just considered an Ace).

So off we went to Carribean Stud. What a waste of dough these things are. That said, I won back all of my table losses when I hit a full house for a $175 payout. I think I had maybe $15 on the table in bets, so I took the dough and joined the rest of the group, now hanging at the bar.

Somewhere before this, I had won part of my Mets/Yanks wagers. The Mets were able to win, but fell short of the 8.5 run over. That left me with a $18 win on my Mets to Win wager, but $30 in losses on my Over and Mets/Over parlay wagers. My ticket was for MGM, so I resolved to return there the next day. Meanwhile, I went over to the sportsbook to lay another wager. This time, I focused on the upcoming playoff game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Phoenix Suns. The Spurs were leading the series 3-1, so I decided to go with the team with momentum, placing two bets, for the Spurs to win and a Spurs/Over 200.5 parlay.

Roose had wanted to see more of Vegas, so me, Roose, Robbie Hole, Randy Hole and Scotty caught a cab downtown. Scotty peppered the driver with all sorts of questions regarding the bachelor party scene in Vegas. The driver seemed only slightly creeped out.

Upon arrival, we made our way down the street. Randy was underwhelmed by the Freemont Street Experience, a video screen that makes up a sorta roof over the entire block. Of course, at the time, there was no video playing, so its not much of a surprise that he was underwhelmed. We walked a bit until Robbie Hole stopped at an Oxygen Bar kiosk. If you've never seen one, its basically like a bar where you order scented Oxygen. You put on a tube under your nose and breathe away. I must admit that I was a bit shocked that Robbie chose to pay for air. I was enjoying the air for free and hoped to get more air comped back at the hotel for a late night breathing session! But while he settled in, I went to the Binion's poker room to check out the scene.

I had been to Binions once before. The carpet looked newer and the place was fairly clean, but there is an undeniable dirtiness to the whole thing. The poker room was buzzing, but the only NL game was an uncapped 1/2 game. Uncapped! Ridiculous. I'm not playing 1/2 NL with a guy buying in for $1000. I scoped out the tournament situation, but the only thing interesting was at 2pm on Saturday, and I knew I'd be doing something else by then.

I met up with some of the guys at the Binions bar. To my surprise, a few minutes later, Jack Roose (Dave's dad) and Kousin Kenny showed up. We had a couple of drinks and watched as the bucking bronco machine was ridden by a succession of cowboy-looking dudes. It was nothing like the picture of the bucking bronco posted by the entrance. At least that pic involved a hot broad in short shorts and a cropped top. Somehow, the cowboy dudes were a lot less interesting. I looked over at a monitor and saw that the Spurs won, and the score was well over 210, for a nice $50+ win. At least my sports bets were coming in.

When we left Binions, we bumped into Ilan the G-Lan and Justin. They had apparently also made their way down. Both were already drinking big beers in a football shaped plastic container. Roose got one too as we waited for the official Freemont Street Experience to begin. Meanwhile, a guy was setting up for a street performance. He was going to do 25 vocal signing impressions in 18 minutes. His assistant announced, "If you are a fan of Dean Martin, come get our new Dean Martin covers CD for just $10." Randy mumbled under his breath, "If you are a Dean Martin fan, wouldn't you just buy a Dean Martin CD?" Checkmate!

The Experience was...well, experienced. It was very uneventful. The visuals were interesting, but the show needs some sort of overarching theme or story. Instead its just a bunch of fucked up visuals.

Jumping ahead...

A couple of us wanted to head back to the hotel. We split up, with the club hoppers catching a limo. Jack, Kousin Kenny, Robbie Hole, me and maybe one other person, headed back to the hotel. It was late, after 3am easily, but I decided to play some more poker. To keep it easy, I chose to stay in Excalibur. That was my first mistake.

More to come, starting off with my late night poker session at the Excal. Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:37 PM, , links to this post




Poker Oasis (Vegas Trip Report Pt 3)

I have to say, I'm really happily surprised by some of the comments left to the last posts. These things often feel like a fool's errand, so when I get positive feedback, it really re-energizes my effort. Without further adieu:

After the tournament, Roose was looking to see a bit more of Vegas. Patiently, he waited for me along with his college friends Johnny and Big Rob, and Roose Home Game regulars Robbie Hole and Scotty.

Ironically, once I was done with my orbit, $50+ up from the session, but still down overall in poker and table games, Scotty and Robbie Hole mentioned that they wanted to make a pitstop in their respective rooms. I had worn my off-white hoody to the poker game to protect myself from the casino cold air, and so I chose to join them. It was definitely too hot to be traveling in long sleeves.

Roose, annoyed by the wait, decided to head over to the NYNY roller coaster with his college friends. For all his waiting, we ended up going in different directions anyway, and after dropping off our stuff, Scotty, Robbie and I headed to New York New York.

The walk was beautiful. It was a hot 94 degrees, and the dry desert air was already giving me itchy eyes and a killer thirst, but the sun was out and it was a welcomed change from the constant indoor excitement of the casino. We made our way to New York New York and headed to the rollercoaster. Robbie Hole and Scotty went up ahead. I opted to skip the ride. Truth be told, I'm not much of a thrill seeker, at least when it comes to rollercoasters. Rather than pay for something I wouldn't enjoy, I waited for them by the entrance. It was in an arcade area, so I changed $5 into quarters and played some TimeCop3. When I was done, I headed over to the rollercoaster entrance and everyone was waiting, sans Robbie Hole. "Did he have to wait for the next ride?" I asked. "No, he wanted to go on it again." Shit, go figure.

Once he was done, we walked around some more. New York New York's sports book did not impress and it didn't have a poker room. The Mets/Yankees game was starting at 1pm Vegas time (if memory serves) and we were nearing our deadline. On our way over to the MGM, we stopped at a random food place in New York New York. Roose ordered the Italian hero. He may be a member of the Tribe of Israel, but Roose could easily pass for Italian, from his looks, to his clothes to his meal choices. I've never seen someone eat Italian heros so damn consistently.

As Roose and one other person ate (I was still satiated from the buffet), the group discussed the environment at New York New York. Truth be told, it wasn't very New York at all. It felt more like a Disney pavilion in Epcott Center. The faux lake and stream were very un-New York, and the low faux building didn't help much either. It felt more like an old time Italian village, but perhaps they were going for old New York. Whatever the case, the floors were all wrong. To really make the ambience feel like NY, the casino needed to do away with the blue marble-like wavy patterns for the walkways and replace them with faux sidewalk cement and roadway asphalt complete with dividing yellow line. But alas, it was what it was, and we made our way to the MGM after a round of roulette (and another $100 loss).

MGM was fantastic. When you walk in the entrance, you can immediately sense that MGM has it going on. The place was dark but vibrant. The mood was just right. We headed to the poker room and the casino. I believe that someone recommended both the poker and sportsbook at MGM (Don, possibly?), and I was impressed. The room was open to the rest of the casino, but also semi-private enough that you weren't surrounded by the ding of slot machines. One wall to the poker room was shared on the other side by a club-type bar. Meanwhile, the sportsbook was steps away, and dozens of TVs lined the wall with all of the action set out. Roose and I went up to the counter and I purchased a couple of bets. $20 was placed on the Mets. $20 was placed on the over 8.5 runs. $10 was placed on the Mets to win AND the over, as a parlay. As the guys sat around, I headed to the poker room. Big Rob joined me, as did Roose. Roose and I opted for 1/2 NL, but Rob went for some limit poker. Roose was short on cash so I gave him $200. In about 20 minutes, I saw that he was gone. He apparently suffered two difficult hands against players who slowplayed AK.

Meanwhile, I settled in to an interested table. There were only a few players with significantly large stacks. There were two females on my left who were chummy with each other. Across the table was a tough-looking broad-shouldered bald guy wearing a fisherman's hat and sporting a weird looking beard. It was cut sort of a la souvarov. He had a decent amount of chips, but something about his demeanor immediately told me that he was a good target. Sitting to his left one or two seats over was a younger guy, in his mid twenties with a red cap on. He looked familiar, almost like a young, skinnier Jared Leto, and his demeanor told me that he knew how to play. Something also told me that he was no pro. In fact, he was in that nice little area where he knew enough to play in a way that I could read fairly easily. I felt good already.

I set up shop, placing my $200 max buy-in and sporting my sunglasses. I took out my card cap, my old red and gold buddha statue and set him up on the temple of chips I was building. My goal was to build Buddha a glorious monument, and I prepared myself for the endeavor.

The fun started when I got JTo in my BB. By the time it got to me, there were several limpers. The "good player" in the Red Cap raised to $10. By the time it got to me, there was at least one other caller, if not two, so I called the extra $8. When the action got to the big guy with the a la Souvarov beard, he raised to $20. Clearly, that's a stupid bet unless you have a drawing hand. Then, maybe it makes sense if you want to keep people in the pot while building the pot. But really, this play made no sense here, and everyone called. There must have been five players to the flop, Tc9c3x. I had top pair with a decent kicker. Since I was first to act, I glanced around the table. No one seemed like they were itching to bet, so I bet out $60 to get a feel for the table. That was not a large bet compared to the pot, but it seemed to get respect from the table as it folded around to me. Easy money.

The next significant hand I played was 88. I was in position on the button, probably just two hands after the JTo hand. When it was limped to me, I raised to $12. I got 4 callers, and resolved to play the hand carefully with that many players in the hand. The flop was 257 with two hearts. I almost couldn't ask for a better result. With over $48 in the pot, I bet out $40 when it checked to me. To my surprise, the player on my immediate right, a young kid with a desperate-looking shortstack, called. The turn was an 8d, giving me top set, with flush and straight draws on the board. He checked, I looked at his stack, and I bet $70, putting him all-in. He thought for a while, and I decided to show him one of my 8s. He folded after thinking a bit longer. Easy money.

I eventually saw Rockets for the first time in Vegas. There were four limpers by the time the action got to me. I raised to $15 to thin the herd. By then, I realized that the table was desensitized to $12 preflop bets, especially with Souvarov donating so much money. He had dwindled from probably $450+ to about than $100. I was ecstatic when Souvarov decided to raise to $30 total. First off, he would scare away the rest of the players by making the raise-reraise a more imposing $28 call, rather than the mere $13 I priced. Second, if it was just him and me, I knew I could take his whole stack. Sure enough, everyone folded, and I sat there for a moment feigning desperation. I finally re-raised $20 on top. He had about $70 left and I like to give short stacks the illusion that if they push, I'll fold. A $50 push on top of my seemingly desperate $20 re-raise would be tempting to a guy in his position. Like a lamb to slaughter he obliged and raised all-in. "I call" We flipped our cards, AA v. A9c. By the turn he had an open-ended straight draw, but by the river, I was stacking his chips. Easy money.

I began playing lots of hands because of my deep stack and the passive table. I'll play a lot of hands for $2 preflop, and they seemed to let me. In one hand, I played 74d in LP for a limp. The flop was Q84, giving me bottom pair with a shitty kicker. When it checked around, I got the feeling that I was good. The turn was another 8 which reassured me even more. I bet out $10 and got one caller. The river was another 4, and it also filled a flush draw on the board. I bet out $15 and got called once again. At showdown, I tabled my hand and he mucked. I just assumed he had the 4 also, but in hindsight, he may have had a baby pocket pair or severely misplayed top pair on the flop. Whatever the case (say it with me now), easy money.

This is the time when you can really control the table. Everyone was seeing me as a lucky player, something that can be more scary than a skilled player. The Asian woman on my left said, "You keep getting cards." "Well, actually that was 47d." "Your cards keep hitting." "Um, I hit bottom pair." "But you made full house on river." At this point I stopped arguing, but I was thinking, Yeah lady, because you people are letting me get there.

A few hands later, I played K3d for a limp. The flop was AdQdx, so I had the nut flush draw. I bet out $12 and only Red Cap called. It looked like he was controlling the table before I arrived, and he was getting really annoyed by seemingly effortless success. The turn was an offsuit Jack, so I had an inside straight draw as well. When he checked to me, I decided to check as well. The river was a King. Now, Red Cap decided to bet out $25. I thought for a moment and opted to call. Knowing that he was a knowledgeable player, he probably was making a move, since I looked weak by checking the turn. I figured that if he had the Ace he'd bet out a long time ago. He was likely also flush drawing, or in the alternative, his the Queen but was cautious that he was playing into an Ace. $25 was affordable so I made the call and showed my King. I think he mucked. Easy money.

From there, I just tightened up. I stopped getting great cards, and I thought that the 47 and K3 hands had ruined my credibility at the table. Ruined is a harsh word, though, since it was well worth ruining for some more pots. Roose called and asked me where I was. "I'm in the poker room. Where are you?" "I'm in the Sportsbook. I'll be right over." "Wait, you are at MGM, right?" I asked. I had no reason to think otherwise, as Robbie Hole and Johnny were watching the games from the sportsbook. "No, I'm at Excal." SONUVABITCH! They ditched me. To tell you the truth, I was glad. I wasn't ready to leave when they left, and I could use some time to rage solo.

I cashed out, up $341 for the session and up overall for the weekend. But truth be told, I wouldn't be up for all that much longer. Nope, not much longer at all.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:31 PM, , links to this post




Adjusting for Conditions (Vegas Trip Report Pt 2)

The next morning, Roose and I were up extra early. Like the smell of Folgers in your cup, the phermonal scent of gambling in a nearby casino always coaxing me up. I lay in bed for a few minutes trying to remember where I was and what I was doing. Once I got my bearings, I called Roose and coordinated. A quick shower later and we were heading downstairs for the buffet and poker tournament.

Excalibur's buffet isn't bad. The price is right, around $10 in the morning and around $15 for lunch. Like any buffet, it had the usual shortcomings that come with mass-produced food. But the selection was bountiful, and for a quick meal, it sufficed. We still had some food comps left over from check-in, so Roose, me and the two Holes ate for $2 total. This time, the meal was on Randy.

By the time we were leaving, most of the crew had joined us for breakfast. We moved en masse to the poker room to sign up for the 11am tournament. The buy-in was a ridiculous $25+10. That fee constitutes a whopping 40% of the buy-in, but I didn't wince. I was on vacation and my friends wanted to play. $35 was a drop in the bucket, so even if it was a turbo crapshoot, it wouldn't hurt much to lose.

As stated, the format was insane. Each player started with 300 chips, with blinds starting at 5/10. Blinds increased every 15 minutes and doubled. 10/25, 25/50, 50/100, 100/200 and so on. The tournament itself had 70 players, more than the usual 40. According to the floor, with 40 players the tournament lasted a mere 2 hours, so at least we wouldn't be waiting around all day if someone went deep. Top prize was usually around $500, but with 70 players, it was probably closer to $700 or higher.

Adjusting to the game is always a crucial part of winning poker. Whether it be a fast tourney structure or loose players, a solid fully-rounded player will be able to adjust his game to any condition to find an edge. I had decided, due to the structure, that I would be loose very early on. I'd rather bust early than get blinded out in the middle.

It didn't hurt when my first or second hand was AQo. I raised to 30 or 40 and got one or two callers. The flop was Q high and I bet out 100. The other player, an Indian gentleman, folded. I showed my Queen. I wanted to show the table that I had the goods, lest I start to get the image of a stealer. I needed my aggression to induce folds, and this seemed like the best way to strat on the right foot.

A couple of hands later, I was dealt A9d. I opted to limp in EP, as did Robbie Hole in MP and one or two callers, including the female button. We see a Jd8dX flop. It's a good nut flush draw for me, but I was hoping to see the turn for free or cheap. I checked and Robbie bet out. The female button, a middle-age broad, called, and I called as well. The turn was another 8, offsuit. I checked once again, as did Robbie. This time it was the button's turn to bet out, and she did, putting about $100 into the pot. I called, mostly because of the fast structure. I was willing to gamble it up early as a strategy to protect myself from the ridiculously escalating blinds. Robbie folded and it was just me and the chick in the hand. The river was an 8d. I wasn't worried about quads, but I was distinctly worried about a fullhouse. If she had a Jack or even pocket 22, my flush was beat. I checked and she checked behind. I showed my flush and she showed K9, a complete bluff. I took down the pot and was building a monster stack.

A little while later I limped with ATo. The flop was ATX and I checked to allow the Indian guy to push all-in. He was fairly short and playing aggressively, so I was confident he would put his last pittance in for me. I called and he showed T8. I took down the hand easily and busted him.

All this while, I was also betting and continuation betting the flop, taking down chips and hands left and right. Someone by me said that I was playing very aggressively, raising almost every pot. That's the type of info I need to know. It lets me know that I need to build my legitimacy back up. I explained as though I was an insecure donk, "I don't know what else to do when I get great cards. I've gotten AK three times already and Jacks a couple of times too." I was lying.

As soon as that conversation was done, I was dealt...AK. Scotty was at my table, along with Robbie Hole and college friend Big Rob. It had a lot to do with the fact that they expected 4 tables, so when we picked seats, we only had four possible tables to end up at. Ilan, Randy and Roose were at the other tables.

I know Scotty and his game very well. From when he first started, he's made leaps and bounds. At this point in the tournament, I had about 850 and he had 750 or so. I was in LP and he raised before me. I decided to raise all-in back, hoping that he had a weaker Ace. I had a lot of reason to believe it. Although Scotty is a better player than he once was, I knew his game so well that I could imagine AT-AQ in his hand. It certainly was what it felt like at the time. I also knew that I could bust him. At the very least, I get him to fold his hand and I win the raised pot outright. By now, the blinds were getting significant, 25/50 with 300 starting stacks. He called and we flipped our cards up, my AK v. his AQ. The flop had a Queen, and by the end of the hand, I was down to 100. I was okay with it though. If someone was going to suck out on me, I'd rather it be a friend than some stranger.

In the next hand, I pushed my 100 with QJo. By the time it got to me, there were 4 limpers and I was in LP/MP. All-in-all, I could sextuple up by the time it got to the flop. At first, the T94 flop was decent, but when the straight didn't come in, I eventually lost the hand. I walked away and decided to play some cash.

I don't think I adequately described the Excal poker room yet. First off, the game selection sucks. Its all 2/4 Limit, 2-6 Spread Limit, 1/3 NL with a $200 max buy-in, or 2/4 NL with a $400 max buy-in. I opted for the 1/3, mostly because I was budgeting myself. You would think that 1/3 would play a lot like 1/2. In some ways it does, but in other ways that extra dollar just shakes things up. Bets to $15 are called a lot easier, for instance. Frankly, there is also something intangible. Picture driving someone else's car. Even though the steering wheel works like a steering wheel and the seat is a seat, it just feels different. Its just not the same.

Whatever the case, I played fairly well in the cash game, but saw my stack dwindle. I hit two pair with AT and check-raised Robbie Hole, who came to join me after 10-15 minutes. He was smart enough to fold. Not long after, I raised with QQ and one player calls. The flop had an Ace. I bet $20 and he raises to $40. I folded quickly. I knew I was beat. He showed A8s. "Nice hand." I always encourage them to show.

Everyone had busted from the tournament, and Roose was anxious to explore more casinos. I was about 4 hands from the BB, and when he insisted I leave, I told him he can either wait the three free hands I have coming or he can go without me. I didn't want to feel rushed. I generally never leave a table until after I've played the UTG hand. The way I see it, the blinds are a covercharge to see a whole orbit for free. If I had three more free hands coming, I was going to take them. After all, I might get KK or AA just for waiting out a few hands with no monetary exposure.

With one hand left, I was dealt A6h. I was slightly down, but nothing too bad. I called the $3, and a frat-guy, cocky player raised to $13 from LP. I called along with two other players. The flop was Ace high, and it checked around. For what its worth, I noticed that there wasn't much slowplaying in Vegas. I think it was largely because at the lower levels, players are not sophisticated enough to know when they should and shouldn't use it. So, when the turn came Jack, I was mildly concerned about being out-kicked, but I decieded to stop worrying. I bet out somewhere in the $20 range. Only the frat-guy called. The river was a blank and I bet out $30. This time frat guy folded and showed me his KJ. I don't know why he folded, because it gave me a lot of info. Unfortunately, I wouldn't get to use that info. I cashed out and left the table around $60 up. I'm glad I made Roose wait.

The next stop was a walking tour of nearby hotels, and a stop for poker in what would become my poker oasis for the trip. But that will have to come later. Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:10 AM, , links to this post




Arrival in Mecca (Vegas Trip Report Pt. 1)

And thus begins the seemingly insurmountable task of retelling a weekend clouded by sleep deprevation, alcohol and just about any other vice available in Sin City.

The night before I flew out to Vegas for Dave Roose's bachelor party, I barely slept. I had packed and re-packed my bags three times to account for various contingencies like a nice meal, club attire, and hotter than expected weather (expected by me, and not expected by meteorologists or the lovely people in Vegas). Then I lay in bed and did my best to squeeze out 4 hours of sleep before I had to wake up and hit the road. Or more accurately, the trains.

When I got up, I threw on my pre-arranged outfit and headed out the door with a backpack and a medium-sized rolling suitcase busting at the seams. Like my poker ritual, I am very conscious of what I wear and bring into a plane. In a last-minute move, I had switched from jeans to my convertible grey cargo pants. I usually reserve the grey pants for poker, but the need to go from cool (NY) to warm weather attire (NV) required the obvious change. I also brought my hoody in case of a cold flight, and enough magazines and books to keep me entertained in case of a non-working TV or an inordinately long flight delay.

The flight was leaving early in the morning, and I arrived at the airport via the subway and a separate airport train system before 8am. Roose and Justin were already there, and we waited for G-Lan to arrive. Of course, we had our first prop bet, but Roose won out when G-Lan arrived sooner rather than later. Incidentally, betting the over on a wait is my favorite type of prop bet; even when you lose, it feels like a win because you get to leave earlier than expected.

Once inside the airport, we entered the security lines. I took the left-most line while the rest of the crew took the middle line. We then promptly had our second prop bet with me beating Roose to the metal detector by barely a foot. Even already!

The flight was mostly uneventful. Roose and I had seats in the front and settled in for some half-assed sleep attempts (about 40 minutes of sleep total over two attempts) and bad movies (Eragon).

Upon arrival, we called Scotty and Robbie Hole. They were on an earlier flight, having flown first class due to some miles (or maybe just generosity) from Scotty. Scotty, unlike the majority of the crew, is in his 40s, with kids and a wife. He owns a good business, and got invited to the Roose Home Game about two years ago through J.R., one of Roose's friends and Scotty's employee/co-worker. Over those 2 years, Scotty has become an integral part of the group, largely because of his fun-time mentality. His generosity is unparalleled, and I don't think anyone there could thank him enough for everything he did for us this trip. But we'll get to that later.

Scotty and Robbie Hole were in the airport getting their luggage, so they waited as we made our way down. Roose's eyes sparkled like a kid on Christmas at the sight of slot machines in the most mundane of places, an airport. We grabbed our bags (mine came off first for another prop bet win) and headed out for a cab.

We were staying in the Excalibur using High On Poker's modified Atlantic City Hotel Reservation System. As you may recall, the ACHRS requires the traveler to book the (i) cheapest (ii) casino hotel (iii) on the boardwalk. The logic is that the casino/hotels (a casino is a must) are all the same as long as they are on the boardwalk where access to one equals easy access to them all. Therefore, the only thing truly different is price, and hence the cheapest casino hotel on the boardwalk suffices. With little personal knowledge of Vegas, and a group with varied means, I decided to find the (i) cheapest (ii) casino hotel (iii) in a populated area of the Strip (iv) that was not a certified shithole. In that regard, Excalibur won out.

The truth is, Excal looks like something out of Disneyland. And I'm not talking about the Haunted Mansion either. I'm talking about a freakin' cheesy Princess castle of sorts, with blue- and pink-topped towers. The interior was not much better. The rooms were drab and brown. Our toilet had a weak flush that required a good 20 seconds of flushing. But, the rooms had beds and we paid off housekeeping to keep us well-supplied with towels without any of the other stuff. I have a general policy that I don't need someone to make my bed on a daily basis, and frankly, with the amount of cash around, I didn't need anyone coming into my room without me. My roommate, Scott, had the most cash of all, and he shared my sentiment. Sadly, the room lacked a safe.

Once we were settled in, the group was pretty hungry. We opted for the buffet, using the comps provided free with the room. Four people ate for under $3, and when this crew rolls into a buffet, we make sure we get our $3 worth.

After lunch, we met up with the rest of the crew. Randy Hole flew in the same flight as Roose's father Jack, his uncle Kenny and Roose's college friend Johnny. College friend Big Rob came in from Albany, NY as well. In total, there were 11 of us, a good amount for a cross-country, relatively expensive trip.

The gambling started off with table games. Fucking table games. Second only to Bayne as the bane of my existence. It started off well enough. Unlike AC, Vegas has a plethora of well priced (read: cheap) tables, including $10 PaiGow (AC is usually $20), $5 blackjack (AC is $10), and my favorite, $5 craps (AC is $10). This can be attractive to someone like myself, who recognizes the -EV nature of the games, but still is attracted to the lack of control inherent in these games of chance. Unfortunately, its easy to start with $5 bets and end with $25 or higher bets anyway, and while I don't remember what the initial culprit was, I didn't exactly bust the house.

Text messages were going to be the prefered form of communication for the trip. For one, you can communicate over the noisey dings and rings of the ever present slot machines. For two, you didn't have to argue with anyone who first wanted to do this or that. You simply typed, "Meeting at the bar at 7:30 and going for dinner." If people didn't show up, that was their right. But with this group, I strolled down at 7:15 and everyone was already there drinking away.

We had a very loose itinerary set up by yours truly. The goal was to at least have some pre-planned things so people could rage solo and return to the group at a given place/time. That went out the window pretty quickly due to the realities of our free-flowing Vegas experience, but at least the first night's dinner worked out. As a group, we headed in three cabs to Ellis Island, a shitty little casino about a block off the Strip by the Flamingo. I had eaten there twice on my first trip to Vegas, and it was an experience. I was hoping this group would warm to it also, being a group who largely consisted of people who were happy to find a bargain (more money left for booze, gambling and women).

Upon entering Ellis Island, I had second thoughts. My memory of the place didn't exactly include exquisite decor, but arriving there with a group made the place seem that much more desperate. We walked over to the restaurant and put in our name for a table. We were given a number and told that it would be 30 minutes. With not much else to do, we did what we always did, played table games. I settled in for some $5 blackjack, which turned into $10 blackjack and eventually $40 blackjack when our table was called. Overall, I lost $90, ironic since I insisted we head to Ellis Island for the $4.95 steak special.

By the time we sat at our table, everyone was happy on booze and gamblin'. The menus were dinky and people wondered where the steak special was listed. It wasn't. While Ellis Island has a great steak special it is not listed anywhere on the menu. Instead, its listed on the freaking table games. Right there next to the Insurance Bar is some red text, "$4.95 10 oz. Sirloin Special." Nine out of eleven of us ordered the steak. The other two ordered burgers, which ironically cost more than the steak.

Eating at Ellis Island was a lot like eating at Chucky Cheese at a birthday party. As soon as the orders were placed, half of the degenerate table got up to return to the table games. The returned just before soup/salad, which came with the $4.95 steak. I went with the salad (Ranch dressing) instead of gastrointestinally gambling on the soup, chili.

By the time the meal arrived, everyone was shocked. For under $5, the steak came with potato, vegetable and the aforementioned soup or salad. Ellis Island's micro-brewed beers only costed $1 each, so the place is a boon for any traveler looking to get fed and drunk on the cheap. Even better, everyone was amazed by how good the steak was, especially given the price. As the check was brought over, Scotty kindly took it from the waitress and announced that the meal was on him. We all put up a weak fight, but Scotty insisted. He would have done it regardless of the price, but it didn't hurt that the bill was $88 for eleven people.

$4.95 Ellis Island Steak

Following our meal, we hung around Ellis Island enough to lose the rest of whatever we had not cashed in. We then decided to see some more of the city and headed by foot over to the Bellagio. Once there, I checked out the poker room. The room was semi-private, by the casino floor but seperated by a very low wall (think bench) with periodic pillars. The room seemed dead and Bobby's Room was empty. The cheapest NL game was $2/5. I decided that it was just not worth it to play. I had yet to warm up and I'm more of a $1/2 player for the time being. The rest of the crew got antsy and we decided to head back to the Excalibur. Before leaving I took a lap of the poker room looking for Linda from PokerWorks. No dice, so we hit the road.

Already things are getting hazey. Upon our return to Excal, I grabbed a PokerPages and checked the listings for decent tournaments. We couldn't decide on one until Roose decided to play the extremely cheap, extremely turbo tournament at Excal at 11am the next morning. Poker is poker, and while the fee was insane on the $25+10 game, I saw it more as a gamble than as skilled poker, and I was willing to spend $35 without a blink of the eye. Meanwhile, I settled in for some $1/2 NL.

I finally sat down in Excalibur's shitty poker room at about 1am. It was actually 4am NY time, and I was up since about 6am, so fatigue was definitely setting in. It only became more apparent as my play was slightly lackluster. I lost a decent pot when a seemingly drunk, fat, bearded yokel with a sleaveless shirt and a near-exposed gut raised $50 on a river card that made a straight. I had the slightly higher straight thanks to a hole card and called his bet, only to discover that the yokel had rivered a flush. I didn't even consider the possibility. I looked over to Roose and said quite plainly, "I didn't see the flush. If I'm not playing better in 9 minutes (the 1:45 mark), I'm calling it a night.

Roose was eventually stacked by a player who appeared conservative but called down all of Dave's top pair top kicker bets with a mid-pair, rivering an inside straight. I decided that he was my target and won back all of my losses when I held AA. I don't recall the hand in much detail, but my notes tell me that I bet $12, $20, $30 and $30 at each card even though my AA didn't improve. I was trying to keep that one guy in the hand, and sure enough, when we reached the river, I was ahead and took down a nicely fattened pot.

I only took notes for two more pots before I ended my session. The first one was just odd. I limped with J6s in the CO because there were a bunch of limpers and this was the type of table that would pay you off if you hit a weird combination. The flop was 654 and when it checked to me, I bet $12 expecting to maybe get one caller with a 7 or 3 going for the open-ended straight draw. To my surprise, I got 4 callers. Obviously, when the 4 turn came, I checked when the action got to me. There was only one person acting behind me, a middle-aged women that looked half-perplexed and half-tilted. She may have also been half-drunk. She thought for a moment and checked. The river was an Ace, and I knew I was done with this hand. When it checked to me, I checked as well. The woman on the button paused for a moment. She was going to bet, but last minute checked. At showdown, I won the hand. I don't know what those other players were doing in there, but my hand was nothing to write home about either. If the woman bet from the button, she would've taken the pot easily.

The last hand of the session was classic Jordan-Robbie Hole nonsense. When Robbie and I are at a table, we are usually pretty aggressive against each other, regardless of the conditions. In this case, I raised with JJ from late position and he was my only caller. I was happy with the Ten-high flop. I bet out and he called. I don't remember much in the way of specifics, but what I didn't know at the time was that Robbie had TT, for a flopped set. By the river, he had pulled a couple of more small-ish bets from me. When he showed his cards, I was hardly perturbed. If someone was going to take my chips, I'm glad it was one of our own. The fact that I didn't lose more in that situation made me happy too.

We left the poker room at 3:30 or later in the morning. It was 6:30 in New York. I was up for over 24 hours straight, but that is no big feat in Vegas. We played some more table games and eventually decided that sleep had to happen sooner or later. On our way up, Scotty said that he wanted to get some air. I didn't see him until many hours later when he stumbled into the room. By then, I was already asleep, dreaming of more poker to come. I was down $168 in poker and several hundred in table games, but there was a cheap ass tournament in the morning, and I planned on leaving the Excal for some more interesting poker destinations. So far, my play had been sub-par, but I knew I'd get my sea legs. Table games, however, were just a black hole of dough, and by the end of the trip, I'd realize how much of a black hole they are.

Part 2 will hopefully come a bit quicker than this one. Until then, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:34 PM, , links to this post




Gone Vegas



posted by Jordan @ 11:52 PM, , links to this post




Vegas Prelude

Sometimes I think that the attitude that Woffles has that makes him so entertaining to read will also be his biggest obstacle in getting to a place where his game is solid and secure from bankroll tilting. If you can't look at your own game and improve upon yourself, then are you are destined to continue the same cycle of building a bankroll and losing a bankroll? You all know about my trials and tribulations on the virtual felt, but one thing is for certain, at least to me. Where my online game lacks, it does so because of my inability to focus, do largely to that feeling that I'm playing a videogame and the readily available distractions, including intoxicants. I don't have many illusions about my online game, but I've also come to accept certain shortcomings in an effort to focus on what has been, to me, the more successful endeavor, live play.

Live play, baby! In 26 hours, I'll be touching down in Vegas ready to check-raise a bunch of tourist douschebags. The fact that I'm a tourist douschebag isn't lost on me, but at least I write about poker, thereby actively engaging in analysis and the game. It is one of the great benefits of poker blogging. With each post, you or I are hopefully actively thinkiing about the game, considering plays, reads, everything to figure out how we can improve. It's the next generation of the communities that built up in places like the undergrond Mayfare club in NYC, where players like Action Dan and Howard Ledered played some poker and then hit the bar for drinks and critical poker talk. Poker is very much a game of one, an individual against himself, but it always helps to have a second person to bounce ideas off of. I'm fortuante to have this blog and readers, because some of the analysis of yesterday's post were very helpful. In the "real world," I'm lucky to have guys like Dave Roose and Matty Ebs, compadres who I can trust to tell me what I'm doing wrong, what I'm doing right and how I can improve in particular areas. I've sat at tables with 9 enemies, and it makes for a helluva game, but I'd rather have 8 enemies and a friend, if for no other reason than to have someone to discuss the game with after the fact.

Ah, I'm rambling. I'm just so freakin' excited for Vegas that I can't think of anything else, really. I'll go through the work day and prepare everything that needs to be done this week, but as soon as I can, I'm hitting the street, packing my bags, and waiting ever so anxiously for my flight early tomorrow morning. Thank god, I'm flying in with Roose on Jet Blue. Even with all of Jet Blue's crappy press lately, they still have some fine customer service, airline seats and TVs. I was planning to bring a slew of items on the plane, but with the TV, I can make due with one book and an iPod. Oh, and maybe a deck of cards, in case Roose wants to play some Chinese Poker (and yes, I can't help but capitalize Chinese Poker).

This will be my 2nd trip to Vegas, and I can already tell that I am going to gorge myself on gambling once I arrive. I'm ostensibly running the social aspect of the trip, complete with a loose itinerary. Very loose itinerary. Once I sent it out, I got a half-dozen emails with other suggestions, and I reverted to my fallback position: we meet up, we get $4.95 steak dinners at Ellis Island and we discuss our plans as a group. Fortunately, I'm NOT in charge of the entertainment. That, I left for someone else. It's solely my job to enjoy the performance.

Vegas vegas vegas. Wish me luck, people. I'll be back on Monday with a Trip Report, or at least as much of a trip report as I can remember.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:29 AM, , links to this post




Poker 201 by Jordan

If you've finished Poker 101 by Jordan, hosted over at the Waffle House, you've already learned that the only relevant thing to hand analysis is (a) the cards held by the players, and (b) the incessant rant of a petulant child. Congratulations! You've all passed Poker 101, so it is with great excitement that I invite you to Poker 201, where you will learn that poker is more than just the cards and the rants, and actually includes betting, chipstacks, and odds.

As you can recall, at Poker 101, we discussed a hand where I played 88 against Woffle's AQh, and while he flopped an Ace, I "bluffed" until I rivered an 8 to bust him. With that information alone, you could probably write a long rant about terrible play, but here at Poker 201, we believe that the most important part of hand analysis is looking at all aspects of a hand to determine how one can improve the results if faced with the same situation. Let's revisit the hand and look at the decisions made throughout and the many aspects of the game that we chose to ignore in the more basic Poker 101 class.

Let's start with everything that happened before the hole cards were dealt. The table was a good one, with a fun selection of players, including everyone's favorite trainwreck, Woffle. At this point in the tournament, through stellar play, Woffle was down to 2585 in chips. I was up to 3860. At the very moment, without any cards, this information does not seem terribly relevant. Lord knows we don't touch on it at Poker 101, mostly because we don't want to confuse the novice players with complicated issues like errors in past hands can lead to disadvantageous situations in future hands.

Once the cards are dealt, I receive 88 two seats from the button. Asbentmindedly, I raised pot, from 40 to 140. I only get one caller, the Woffle, with AQh. So far, I don't think anyone misplayed the hand.

The flop is Ac7d6d. Woffles, conscious of the fact that he hit top pair second kicker, decides to check, so he can refocus on attempting to fellate himself. Either this was a slowplay, or he thought he was behind. With a 300 pot, it seems logical for a player with 88 to raise pot. There is only one overcard on the board, and while the Ace is scary, Woffle's check or slowplay signals weakness. Betting pot does a few things. It potentially protects my hand against suckouts from straight or flush draws, potentially gets a weak Ace or a higher pocket pair to fold fearing that I hit the Ace with a good kicker (remember, I raised preflop), and gives me more info about what my tilty little opponent has. Should I have checked? Potentially. But then I'd be giving up control of the hand. If we are dancing, I'm leading and Woffle is wearing a chiffon gown.

Woffle chooses to call. This is his second mistake. Even if he was willing to check the flop, once I bet, he has to raise or fold. Calling gives him no information, and for all he knows, I have AK or even 89d. But, he checks and gives up control of the hand. Let's assume he is slowplaying, because if not, then he is just throwing money away without thinking the hand through.

The turn is a 9h. This is a great card for me, in a sense. I would prefer the 5h, but the 9 gives me some nice draws along with 3rd pair. I can't put Woffle on the 9 because it wouldn't make sense with the rest of the hand. I may be able to put him on a weak Ace, but a flush draw is also a good possibility. He may be slowplaying me with a monster, like 66 or 77, but why would he be so passive. At the very least, if he has the Ace or a set of 7s or 6s, I have an additional 8 outs for the straight, a total of 10 outs when added two the two 8s still in the deck. If he has the flush draw, I'm ahead anyway. If he has a 7 or 6 and thinks I'm a donkey, then that works as well.

So, what does the big bad Ace Queen do when the turn brings a scary straight card? He checks. Why? Either he is slowplaying a board with a flush and straight draw, or he is scared of me. I'll let Woffles decide. Whatever the case, this tells me that he is either slowplaying or scared. At this point, we have both put 440 into the pot. He is down to 2145, and I am down to 3420. I decide to bet pot, 900, because I want to win the hand outright. The bet is almost 1/2 of Woffle's stack, so from my vantage point, its placing enough pressure. Pushing will look weaker and might get a call from a weak Ace. However, (get your cameras ready) I may have messed up. Truthfully, I'm not sure. My bet amount is enough that Woffles only has two options, fold or push. I basically priced myself in to a call if he pushes. That said, I'm not 100% sure this isn't the best play. As I said, an all-in would probably appear like a bluff steal and would be called easier from a player like Woffle (or so I thought, when I had him read as a player who thought through the entirety of a hand). A check leaves me vulnerable to a flush draw, something I really saw as a possibility, given his check-call behavior. At least by betting, I may get winning hands to fold (weak Aces) and get drawing hands to fold before they draw out on me. This is where I think I may have misplayed the hand, but what comes next is purely academic...for Poker 201 thinkers.

I raise pot, 900, and Woffle finally succeeds in fellating himself, looks up at the screen, wipes off his chin, and pushes all-in. At least that is my assumption. His time practically ran out before he acted (although the night of, he berated me for taking time for the call). I did call after some consideration, and Woffle flips over his top pair, second kicker. I river an 8, and Woffle type-shouts that I'm a donkey who hit a 2-outter.

This is the advanced portion of the class, and I've instructed Woffles particularly to take notes, because his revisionist history just doesn't fly here. I had 10 outs, first off. Not 2. Whenever Woffles posts that the other guy 2 outs or 1 out, its safe to say that he means 1 or 2 outs out of many. Since I hit my set, I had two outs, 8 and 8. Perhaps if the river was a Ten, I'd only have four outs, the four tens, and if the river was a 5, I'd only have the four 5s as outs. But alas, it doesn't work that way. I had 10 outs TOTAL. That's the only amount that matters.

For you Poker 101 folks, you may be thinking, 10 outs is not a lot. Well, you are right. In fact, I had only a 22.73% chance of winning the hand once I called the all-in. But it is crucial to review the information available at the time of the decision AND the pot odds involved.

The informtaion I had was that Woffle was check-calling the entire way and now was pushing. That led me to believe that he was likely not on a flush draw, although I still considered it a remote possibility. He likely had an Ace and maybe even two-pair, A9. That would match his weak check-call strategy. But that would also put me at a disadvantage. Surely, calling his all-in when I think I am probably behind (let's go with 70% sure I'm behind, or even 80%) is a stupid call. But the plain answer is, no. The pot was 3945 after his push, and I had to call 1245. The pot odds, therefore, was more than 3:1. This alone is not fantastic. It would require me getting about 32% odds on my hand. But then I noticed stack sizes. If I call, I have almost 1300 left. Now, 1300 is not a gold mine, but we are at 20/40 stakes, and if I lose, I have confidence that I have the time to win back my money. At the time, I didn't have specific odds. All I could see was 1200 to win almost 4000, and this, along with the amount of chips I'd have left, was enough to encourage me to call. After all, worst case scenario, I have 10 outs. Best case, he is flush drawing and I'm at least 65% to win.

As you may know by now, my call led to a rivered 8, translated to Wofflese as a 2-outter (out of 10 outs possible). Whatever the case, I can reflect back at the hand and see that I made a few questionable moves. That last call was not as priced-in as I originally thought, but I was correct about the fact that I had Woffles covered (in the table chat, he claimed I had him covered by 20, so take what Woffles' word for what its worth). The 900 pot bet was also sort of questionable, but I'm at a loss as to how to react better there. A check would've worked in hindsight. I hit my river or I get out of the hand. I suppose that was my major flaw, firing the second bullet. That, folks, is the core of Poker 201, learning from your mistakes.

Now its time for some after-class extra-help. Woffles needs it desperately. Instead of claiming that I sucked out on you with a 2 outter, Woffles, why don't you analyze the hand and figure out how YOU caused yourself to go busto. First, the flop call is okay. You want to see a flop for cheap. But once you hit your top pair with a straight and flush draw out there, you have to bet out to find out where you are. Instead, you check-call. If you bet or check-raise, you win the hand, plain and simple. On the turn, you check again, knowing that the straight may've came in and the flush draw is still out there. If you really think you are ahead, you have to cut it off now. If you bet the turn, I fold. Instead, you "trap" me and then push, giving me many reasons to call.

Granted, I took your chips all the way to 35th place, but that's about 9 spots higher than the 44th spot I put you in. Also, I didn't spend 20 minutes trash talking after I busted. I'll give a preview to Poker 301, Ettiquette. When I ultimately busted, I was all-in with 99 preflop against K9. The flop was KKx. After the hand, I said, "nh", "gl" and "i'm out!" I wasn't pissed at the guy who called me with K9. I accepted that I can't control other players. You can only control yourself. In that instance, the part I needed to fix happened before the hand, when I lost other hands to make me shorter stacked than the K9 hand. But really, the other part was that I wanted to watch Heroes and I had already won by tilting Woffles.

Because of Woffle's revisionist history (what was that he said about the Holocaust not happening?) I'll keep the original hand history below. I don't want you to think that we are all self-deluding douschebags.

Until next time, class is out!

Full Tilt Poker Game #2426947320: Mondays at the Hoy (17511696), Table 1 - 20/40 - No Limit Hold'em - 22:17:30 ET - 2007/05/14
Seat 1: BuddyDank (3,040)
Seat 2: IslandBum1 (2,625)
Seat 3: HighOnPoker (3,860)
Seat 4: smokkee (6,165)
Seat 5: Mattazuma (2,620)
Seat 7: sellthekids (3,105)
Seat 8: SirFWALGMan (2,585)
Seat 9: NewinNov (2,670)
sellthekids posts the small blind of 20
SirFWALGMan posts the big blind of 40
The button is in seat #5
*** HOLE CARDS ***
Dealt to HighOnPoker [8s 8c]
NewinNov folds
BuddyDank folds
IslandBum1 folds
HighOnPoker raises to 140
smokkee folds
Mattazuma folds
sellthekids folds
SirFWALGMan calls 100
*** FLOP *** [Ac 7d 6d]
SirFWALGMan checks
HighOnPoker bets 300
SirFWALGMan calls 300
smokkee: but, when her bday does come around, it lasts like two freakin weeks
*** TURN *** [Ac 7d 6d] [9h]
SirFWALGMan checks
HighOnPoker bets 900
SirFWALGMan has 15 seconds left to act
SirFWALGMan raises to 2,145, and is all in
HighOnPoker has 15 seconds left to act
HighOnPoker calls 1,245
SirFWALGMan shows [Qh Ah]
HighOnPoker shows [8s 8c]
*** RIVER *** [Ac 7d 6d 9h] [8d]
SirFWALGMan shows a pair of Aces
HighOnPoker shows three of a kind, Eights
HighOnPoker wins the pot (5,190) with three of a kind, Eights
HighOnPoker: booya
SirFWALGMan stands up
*** SUMMARY ***
Total pot 5,190 | Rake 0
Board: [Ac 7d 6d 9h 8d]
Seat 1: BuddyDank didn't bet (folded)
Seat 2: IslandBum1 didn't bet (folded)
Seat 3: HighOnPoker showed [8s 8c] and won (5,190) with three of a kind, Eights
Seat 4: smokkee didn't bet (folded)
Seat 5: Mattazuma (button) didn't bet (folded)
Seat 7: sellthekids (small blind) folded before the Flop
Seat 8: SirFWALGMan (big blind) showed [Qh Ah] and lost with a pair of Aces
Seat 9: NewinNov didn't bet (folded)

posted by Jordan @ 10:20 PM, , links to this post