My Evening with the Donkeys
Thursday, August 30, 2007
I had a weird night last night. Wifey Kim had taken the day off from work and wasn't feeling so hot. After my own long day at the office, I wanted to do nothing but relax. The night started off normal enough. I had received Heroes Season 1 DVD Disc 1 from Netflix on Wednesday with the hope of getting wifey Kim as much into the Heroes series as I was. It was hard going and I finally had to tell her to sit her ass down and watch some fine TV. Watching the first episode again was just wild. The foreshadowing is everywhere, and I got back into the wonder of it all. Wifey Kim seemed to like it too, which is good, because after re-enjoying the first episode, I resolved to "force" her to watch the whole series, whether she liked it or not.
After the first episode, we switched to one of wifey Kim's shows, during which she promptly dozed off. I turned on the computer and went to ChessHere.com, where (you or) I can play chess for free online. I highly recommend that you go sign up and then challenge HighOnPoker to a match. I suck, horribly, but I'm getting better and I love the game, even when I'm losing. For those of you unfamiliar with the site, you can either play real time chess or a slower version, where you make a move, then I have up to 3 days to sign on and move. If you play against me, I move a lot quicker than 3 days, but you can take all the time you want. I generally have 5+ games going at once.
After I whooped some kid in real time chess, I felt like a little poker. Amazingly, poker came SECOND. I've been a bit lax about my favorite passtime, mostly because online just feels like a videogame, and I've been enjoying chess and the Wii instead. But whatever the case, I felt it was time to play some pokah, so I signed on at Poker.com and looked at their SNG selection.
Poker.com is a smaller site. I got money there via a mutual transfer for FullTilt dough with Haley. In general, I highly recommend helping your fellow blogger(s) out when it comes to these transfers. Sometimes the online poker world feels like a wild jungle, with all of difficulty depositing, etc., so its nice to have allies against all the confusion and annoyance that came out of the UIGEA.
Also, I love Poker.com. First off, you have to assume they have the worst players, since I assume a large number of players are nimrods who want to play "that poker game everyone is talking about on the ESPN" and therefore typed in Poker.com in their Internet Explorer. If the potential for real donkeys isn't enough, Poker.com also has some great show functions, where you can show one card, both cards, or even rabbit hunt. While I leave Auto-Muck on, its nice for those donkeys who want to show you what they had. I've seen more voluntarily shown hands at Poker.com than any other site.
Unfortunately, Poker.com also lacks players. After checking out the SNGs, I decided that it would take too long to wait for one to fill up. So, I decided to check out the PLO tables. I sat down at one of the few $25 max games, but before I could be dealt it, I decided to move to another table. Online, I'm prone to avoid NLHE cash games, mostly because I like variety. However, playing at Poker.com instead of FullTilt was variety enough, and what I wanted for this particular game was profiability. Going along with my theory of nimrods playing at Poker.com merely because of the domain name, the real nimrod player is likely to be playing in a NLHE game, not Omaha. In fact, the Omaha players are probably much better than the average NLHE player at Poker.com, since I assume most Omaha players are either looking for something different because they have played a lot of NLHE (i..e, experienced in poker, generally), or are seeking out Omaha because they specialize in Omaha. In contrast, I'm hoping the NLHE players are just your average action junkie or TV-taught player. In larger rooms like FullTilt, this theory might not hold up as much, since there are probably a lot more specialized, experienced NLHE players, but for Poker.com, I liked the logic, and I wanted to test out my theory.
I wasn't disappointed. I played extremely well, for the most part, and left the 6-max NLHE table after doubling my $50 buy-in (.25/.50 NLHE). I tried to save some hand histories to discuss, but upon review, Poker.com actually is a lot harder to copy-paste hand histories, and only one hand survived. Still, its a great illustration of why Poker.com's show function is great.
I'm in the BB when I'm dealt the 38 Special, 38o. DrN calls in MP and the SB, Kiney, calls, and I check with my crappy cards. The flop is 245, giving me an open ended straight draw. Kiney bets out $1 into the $1.50 pot, and I opt to call, hoping to hit my hand and then get paid off by Kiney's TP or something similar. DrN calls too. The turn is a 7. Kiney bet $1.50 into the $3 pot, and at this point, I decide that its time to make a move. The flop is crap, and I'm hoping that Kiney, who in general has not impressed me with his play, will be scared of a raise. So, I bump it to $4.50. Its not a huge raise ($3, or 3x the initial bet), but my goal is to bluff him out cheap while looking like I am trying to get value for my hand. Kiney calls. The river is a Ten. Kiney checks and I bet out $10.25, which at this point is less thn the $12+ pot. He folds...and shows 37o. For a split second, I'm tempted to show my bluff, but that's what Auto-Muck is for. By him showing, I am getting a TON of information, including the fact that he is betting out on an OESD, will call reraises with marginal holdings, but will ultimately fold to repeat and/or strong bets. He's the perfect guy to milk-bluff, and by that, I mean bet small with crap cards hoping to get called, just so I can bet big next and watch him fold.
Mind you, I don't believe that you should NEVER fold. In some cases, I think it is a good strategy to control your table image. But in this case, what was he trying to do? By folding and showing, he is just giving me a roadmap on how to beat him. The only time I would do this is if I'm laying down a big pocket pair and I want to (a) put the table on alert that I can make big laydowns while staying conscious of the fact that they will TRY to get me to lay down hands more, and (b) induce the other guy to show his superior hand.
So, Poker.com was a freaking pleasure last night, as I was in control of the table the entire time with little effort. In fact, I had tagged three of the players as easy competition, either calling stations or as loose aggressive donkeys. It got to the point where I wanted to turn off the game, but I couldn't because it was just too easy. Eventually, some of the players left and I made my exit. All in all, though, it was great to get back into some online poker after a week or so hiatus, and I have a feeling that I'll be enjoying Poker.com a lot more in the near future.
This weekend looks poker bleak. My older brother is getting married on Sunday night, and in the meanwhile, I'll be hanging with my family who are in from out of town. To make matters worse, Nice Look and EBB Clubs were recently raided (according to rumor) and Salami has closed their doors as a precaution. Ridiculous. At least I still have the Wall Street Game.
Until next time, make mine poker!
TripJax Meets Wall Street
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
I got the nasty taste of -$600 out of my mouth with a light $15 win last night at the Wall Street Poker game. I always marvel at host Jamie's openness at these games. Jamie has somehow arranged a twice-weekly home game with a disparate group of individuals that seem to grow weekly through friends and friends-of-friends and friends-of-friends-of-friends. And amazingly, with all this openness, all of the players are friendly, good-natured people (at least at the table, although that Pauly does seem a bit shifty-eyed...). In fact, there came a time last night when Jamie was retelling the story of a less-than-pleasant houseguest, and I couldn't help but feel that amongst this group of friendly people, I was the resident asshole. Jamie's explanation of the former guest/asshole was that he was loud, inebriated and obnoxious, and aside from inebriation, I fit the bill to a T. Still, Jamie and his crew have exhibited the patience to deal with me, even when I find myself prattling on about some nonsense, or letting one of my snarky one-liners go before I have time to consider the target.
Case in point. Last night, the first tournament had 11 players, not including Jamie. One player who I barely met (I don't even think we were introduced, per se) named Tobey was first out of the tournament within a few hands when Pauly's KQ hit a AJT flop against Tobey's AT. Before the tournament, Jamie pointed out that Tobey hadn't RSVP'ed for the game, but that Jamie will graciously sit this one out to let Tobey play. What a guy! He throws a homegame and then politely sits out so that an unexpected, un-RSVP'ed guest can play. So, when Tobey busted, stood up and walked the hall down to where the bathroom was, I joked, "That's what you get for not RSVP'ing." I'm no Don Rickles, but the table had a chuckle, until I realized that I was essentially rubbing Tobey's loss in his face, and I these were my first full sentence to the guy. My bad, Tobey. I meant it in a sarcastic sorta way, and I didn't mean anything personal by it. But like most people who get to know me, the table more or less ignored the sheer indecency of my statement other than to agree that, yes, it might be best to save those one-liners for a guy I actually know.
Whatever. I mean no harm, and I'm glad the people at the Wall Street Game know it.
Another fun thing about the Wall Street Game, you never know who is going to show up. In this instance, the surprise (to me) was CK, a female Asian Jewish player who I had first read about through F-Train's blog and first met at SoxLover's last home game. I know that there is a six-degrees of separation-like connection between Jamie and CK, but I still didn't expect to see her at the game. The six-degrees, by the way, goes something like this: CK knows F-Train knows Dawn knows Jamie. Now, I'm not sure where the connection was made. It may've just been through the blogosphere, but whatever the case, it always seems like someone I know through other channels ends up at the Wall Street game. But enough about the abstract. Let's get to the poker.
In the first tournament, I just played poorly. Actually, when we were down to 6, I was the commanding chipleader, but I eventually gave it all back. I don't know what it was, but I was not tuned in. One player in particular, Abby, just left me baffled. Mostly, I just could not get a read on her, and she seemed to like defending her blinds against me. Since she appeared tight overall, I couldn't figure out if she was catching cards or playing against my clearly aggro style. Later, when she started raising my blinds, I was even more baffled. Also, during the course of the tournament, I made a horrible call against Wendy, a smart player who also gives me a hard time at the felt. She always seems to have a hand when she is against me, but rather than assume she has a hand again, I always assume that THIS TIME she's making a move. Last night, she raised from the blinds to 700, and I called after limping for 200 with 44. The flop was Q62, and when she bet 1000, I thought, AK or AJ, so I pushed. She called with KK and the river was a 4. Just plain bad luck on her part, and bad play on my part. I jokingly said it was all her fault for playing the hand so well, but in reality, I just made a stupid play and got lucky.
Still, as massive chipleader, I gambled a bit too much and suddenly was even with the rest of the table. The action was very slow, mostly folding around, but when I decided to make a move, I was called by a flush draw that hit on the river, and IGHN. All the blame is on me for this loss. It was doubly hard due to the fact that I made a $20 last longer bet with CK. Fungool!
In between games, I scarfed down my Chexican dinner, Mexican food made by Chinese people, a staple of NYC delivery. I also awaited the arrival of fellow blogger, TripJax. About a month ago, Trip mentioned to me that he would be back in NYC. The last time he was here, I took him to Salami for their rebuy tournament. This time, I totally forgot he was coming, but luckily got him a spot in the Wall Street game. Once he was settled in his hotel room, he came downtown, and got there just in time for the intermission.
Trip and I headed to the rooftop deck for a smoke (me, not him), before the second tournament began. We chatted about his recent success at work. I am admittedly impressed. Trip is a very unassuming guy, but he has a lot to be proud of, and I sincerely believe that the source of all of his success (family, friends, and work-wise) is due to his affability.
After chatting and smoking, we headed back downstairs, where the second tournament was ready to get underway. I was seated to the right of CK again, with Darko to her left. This was a terrible position. But, you have to roll with the punches.
As everyone got settled in, I looked over at TripJax. I was in the 3s or so, and he was in the 7s. While all this commotion was going around him (people chatting, setting up the cards, etc.), I saw Trip's eyes darting around. He didn't look like he was searching for anything. He was just taking in the scene. He had a quiet confidence about him, emphasized by the fact that he sat there silently surrounded by all of this social chaos. I thought to myself, "Trip is going to win this. He's focused more than any other player, mostly because he just got here and doesn't know anyone." Its true that the new guy at the home game often has an advantage. I used to think it was because no one knew how he/she played, but I've come to realize that when you don't know anyone, you have no choice but to be the quiet observer for the start of a game, while you get a feel for the rules, people, relationships and general play. While everyone else was chatting, Trip sat there calm, collected, focused and observant.
I thought to myself, I have to tell Trip that I think he is going to win. But I couldn't do it at the table, so instead, I took out my phone and texted him. "I have a feeling you are going to win." Simple enough. I heard his phone beep in his man purse (don't let him call it a European Man's Carry-All...its a PURSE), but he didn't pick it up.
The game started out well. I don't remember any particularly exciting hands. I just played tighter than the first game, and then, after I gathered some chips, loosened up. I had fun, and was pushing people out of pots, which I enjoy, even when I have decent hands. Eventually, Jamie got all-in against Wendy and CK, with his AT vs. AQ vs. AJ. He flopped his Ten and it was down to four, Trip, me, Jamie and Brian. In Jamie's recent post, he mentioned that I was raising a lot on his blinds, but we were four handed, which required me to open up my range, AND I was actually getting good cards. Jamie became the shortstack, and I pushed all-in from the SB with QT. He called with K8, and I turned a Queen to take him out of the tournament. I don't recall how Brian busted, but soon enough, it was just Trip and I. It was 11pm, and I was tired. Trip had about 15k to my 10k, so we worked out an agreeable chop, $85 for me, $110 for him. For the night, that put me up $15 ($25 per tournament, $20 for the last longer in the first tournament, for $70 in, $85 out). I was glad for the win, even if it was relatively small.
I walked with Trip back to the subway. On the way, he mentioned that he checked his cell phone and saw my voicemail which showed that it predated the tourney win. He thought it was wild, but I told him about that look of focus and determination I saw. I used to say I could tell who will win a boxing match before the first punch. It was all in the demeanor and face of the boxer. The same is true for poker players, adjusted, of course, for luck.
Thanks again to Jamie for his hospitality and to Trip for coming out.
Until next time, make mine poker!
A Growing Tolerance
Saturday, August 25, 2007
I went to the Nice Look this afternoon for some 1/2 NL poker. I generally bring two $300 buy-ins with me. The way I see it, if I'm down $600, I've got to stop. My cash bankroll is sitting at around $2500. This doesn't reflect my amount of winnings, which is significantly higher. However, I have used some of my poker money in the past for other things, mostly things for wifey Kim and I, because, for me, if poker is not making a positive effect on my life beyond watching a wallet get fatter, then it isn't worth the time or money.
I hit my stop-loss today. Sometimes, its just like that. It all came down to two hands, one that was just a cooler, and one that became a cooler because I played a stupid hand. But before we get to that, let's look at some of the earlier hands.
The table was fairly passive except for this kid across the table in the 7s or 8s (we were playing shorthanded, with about 7-8 players). For all intents and purposes, this aggressive kid, who was wearing a green shirt, so we'll just go with Green Shirt, was about 2 or 3 people to my right. Where everyone else was limping, this guy was raising every other hand and then following it up with big bets. I had heard him chatting with the head of the poker room while Green was seated at the table. I had turned off my iPod and ignored the conversation around me. I was entirely focused on hearing the conversation, since I knew that it was a sincere conversation and I could get a read on the guy from his behavior. Sure enough, he was bragging about how he was at Yale, spending half of his time in NYC, where he decided to keep an apartment. He also worked from some awesome financial company (the way he told it). The head of the room was fairly interested in what Green had to say and asked for a card, since he knows some people who want some investment advice. That pretty much ended the conversation and I went back to playing poker with a lot more info on Green than I had 3 minutes before.
What have we learned from that conversation? Actually, a lot.
- Green Shirt has money. He has a good job in the financial field (for the summer) and an apartment in NYC along with presumably somewhere to live by Yale. This meant that the measly $300 on the table meant little to him, and he would be more fearless with his raising/betting. He'd also be more prone to bluffing, since the money didn't matter.
- He was a blow hard. He wasn't talking as much as bragging about his great apartment, job and Yale admission. So, he felt like he had something to prove, and he was even more likely to be aggressive with crap cards, since he wanted to look like the big man.
- He played a lot. If he knew the owner enough to be that chatty, he was at the club a lot. That meant that he knew poker on some level, and he was also either an action junkie, shark or grinder. My guess was action junkie.
Some of you out there might be thinking that I could tell he was loose aggressive by his betting patterns. After all, he was betting so freaking much, he had to be a LAG. True enough, but at this point, I was at the table for 15 minutes or so, and sometimes people just hit a string of good cards. So while it appeared that he was betting without cards, he may've been dealt monster hands a lot at that point in the game. By hearing his conversation, I had confirmation that he was likely as LAG as I thought him to be.
With that in mind, I sat tight and waited for an opportunity to take advantage of Green Shirt. In one hand Green straddles for $5, and since its him, I call in MP with Q9o, followed by two other callers. Green opts to check.
The flop came down Q86, giving me top pair, poor kicker. Still, when Green checks, I bet out $15. Action has been light at the table (from me included), so I hoped to just take down the pot. A friendly light-skinned black guy on my left calls. A nerdy looking older guy (mid-40s or later) also calls. Green folds. Lovely.
The turn was a 2. I wasn't giving up this hand so easily, so I bet out $30. The first guy folds and the nerdy older guy opts to raise to $90. I can sense that there is some BS going on. Here's what I see: a mild-mannered guy, suddenly making an uncharacteristic bet when there is nothing particularly scary on the board. I slow things down and watch him for a moment. He looks pretty angry and he's sorta staring me down. Strong means weak, people! I looked at my stack, down $100 or so before the action even started. If I call him here, he's going to push all-in on the river. How can he not? What to do? Eventually, it was his demeanor that did him in, along with his uncharacteristic play. He had seen me playing loosely and he wanted to take down a pot. I called. The river was a Ten. He pushed all in like clockwork and I called. He showed Q5 and I tabled my Q9 for the win. My read was dead-on, and the table was impressed. "I can't believe you insta-called his all-in on the river." I shoulda kept my mouth shut, but instead I answered honestly, "If I'm calling the 60, I'm calling his all-in. I made that decision before I called the $60". I didn't explain my read, though. I wanted everyone to think that I just got lucky making the right call.
Side note: A little while later, I pretty much gave $25 to the older nerd. We were in a hand where he raised preflop and I called with AQ. The flop was 227 and we checked it down. On the river, he bet out $25. I thought he was stone cold bluffing and said to him, "I think I'll play along." As soon as I said it (mumbled, really), he leaned in from across the table and said, "What's that? I didn't hear it." I felt like my statement committed me to call (I wouldn't mind your opinions on this one). Even so, I suddenly got that Spidey sense that danger was afoot. He just seemed to eager. I studied his face and he looked upset. Weak means Strong. But, fuck me, I called anyway. He had 77 for a flopped full house. I just said "nice hand" and mucked. Stupid move by me.
My goal was still to get money from Green. I got 66 in the BB and by the time it got to me, there were a few limpers and Green raised to $10. 66 is not a premium hand, but I was confident that the limpers had jack squat and I wanted to isolate Green, who by this point had taken to showing his cards here and there. All that did was confirm my suspicion that he was willing to raise with jack shit preflop (example, he raised to $10 earlier with Le Dawn, K7c). As a side note, I also noticed that when he had made hands, he'd raise to $15. Very easy tell.
So, I raise to $30 to isolate. That's my only reason for the raise. I want to face this dousche who loathes folding. Sure enough, it worked, and only Green and I saw the most ugly flop I've ever seen, AKT, with two hearts. I checked and he checked. On the turn, another Ten came out. Check, check. The river was a black 7. Check, check. He announced that he is playing the board and I showed my 6s.
I won that hand on the flop. By isolating, I knew that I'd have an advantage (a) over a single player rather than a few, and (b) against this dousche who would raise with any two suited cards. Someone said, "You would've folded if he bet, right? That was a pretty bad flop." In truth, I'm not so sure what I would've done. I really had the utmost confidence that I was ahead preflop, and he was so manic that it was hard to put him on anything, as tempting as it would be to put him on an Ace. Still, I wanted to play along. "Let's put it this way, I'm sure we can ALL agree that that was not my ideal flop."
A while later, I was dealt 94o in the BB. There were a lot of limpers (maybe 6 to the flop, including me) and we saw a JQ9 flop, with two spades. I checked my bottom pair, shitty kicker. It checked around. The turn was a 9c, making me three of a kind, but also putting a club-flush draw up there along with the flopped spade flush draw. I checked, intending to check-raise. A player bet out $8 or so. Another player bet out $60. Another player called. And then there was me. SHIT!, I thought. I could be facing a better 9, in which case, I was fucked. I could be facing a slow-played straight, in which case, fucked. I could be facing a flush draw, in which case, I wouldn't know which one and there were a lot of scare cards to be had. I folded. In the end, a player pushed on the river Ten, so it was the right play, I think. But still, it was a tough laydown.
And now, we proceed with the Shame portion of the evening. Up until this point, I was playing okay. I wasn't playing extremely well except for a few hands (the Q9o read, for instance), but at least it was passable. Then somewhere in there I decided to mix it up, and essentially my timing was horrible. Still, it was not just about timing, but about how I mixed it up. I was clearly chasing a small loss, and eventually ended up with a big one.
Here is Shame Hand #1. The table was getting back to passive. The 2/5 NL game had started up and Green had left the table along with some other aggressive players. One of the new players was a known donkey, according to one of the 2/5 players. So, I was happy to see the Donk come to the 1/2 table, and I looked forward to felting him. Of course, when it comes to Donks, one thing is usually for certain: they will make some terrible calls. So, I wonder why the hell I tried to bluff him off of his hand in this scenario.
With QTh, having folded for a while, I raised to $12 in EP/MP. Only the BB, said Donk, called. The flop was 882, and after he checked, I made a $20 continuation bet. He called. The turn was an 8, and I fired a third bullet, $40. He called. The river was a 7. He pushed all-in. I thought for a minute, feigning confusion and disappointment and then I said it, "Show me your 8." I folded. He showed the 8. Stupid me. I shouldn't have played QTh so hard.
I did get some money back from the Donk though, in this fun hand. I had J8o in the BB, and the Donk was now in the SB, due to some moving around. A bunch of players saw the flop, T82, and it checked around. The turn was another Ten, and the Donk bet out $8. I called, as did one other player. The river was a blank. Donk bet out $20, and I decided to call. I had seen him playing, and while he had the quads earlier in the night, I wasn't impressed with anything he was doing. After I called, he announced, "Good hand. I have 9-high." He held his cards out, but did not quite muck. "Are you mucking?," I asked. "I have 9-high." "Yeah, but are you mucking? You've got to show your cards. I called you." The dealer caught on and flipped his cards, 97o, for a busted OESD. I showed my J8, for middle pair. I may've seemed like a dick, and I may've actually been a bit of a dick, but I know the fucking rules, and if I'm going to make a ballsy call, I'm going to get EVERYTHING that I paid for, including the right to see his fucking cards. Notably, 9-high was not a fair description of his hand. As accurate as it was, it implied a bluff the entire way. In actuality, the turn was a semi-bluff and the river was a bluff. That minor distinction let me know that Donk was not as stupid as "9-high."
And then, the wheels fell off. I hadn't been dealt any premium hands the entire day, and finally look down to KK. An unassuming player in EP limps, Donk limps, and I raise to $12. A shortstacked player to my left calls, and it goes back around to the UTG limper, who raises to $47. I seize the opportunity and raise $100 on top. The shortstack calls all-in for less (about $45 total), and the UTG limper moves all-in. I contemplate, but quickly call. I'm thinking AK and hoping for QQ or JJ, but UTG limper has AA, and I get no help. Felted. KK v. AA. Could I have gotten away from it? Yes. Would it have been easy? Hell no. Therefore, I'll put this one in the Cooler category, but I'm still not letting myself off too easy.
Now this next one, pure horror. Here's the setup. I've rebought $300 more. That's all I had on me, and for good reason. $600 is my stop-loss. I don't think of it as one, but I only bring that amount, so its my effective stop-loss.
I'm down $300 or so, with $300 behind, and I'm dealt Q3s in MP. I decide to limp. After all, this is a limping table, and I want to flop a monster and cash in. There are literally 6 callers before the BB raises to $12 total. EVERYONE calls before me, so by the time the decision is up to me, the pot is at least $50, and I feel obliged to call because of pot odds. Sure enough, other players call after me as well, so I did get decent odds. The flop is all spades. ALL SPADES. WHOOPEE! I think. I did it. I hit my monster flop. The SB bets out $15 and the BB, who made the preflop raise, raises to $60. I opt to call, hoping to get the overcall. Instead, the SB pushes all-in and the BB calls. I now am sitting there, and I say, "Aw, come on guys. Do one of you have the Ace or King flush? A shit, I call." And sure enough, SB had K5s, for the spade flush, and the BB had AA, with an Ace of spades. By the river, another spade fell and AA won. Even though I had the 3rd nuts at the time, I'm on the fence about whether this was a cooler hand. I could have gotten away from it. I even correctly said that one of my opponents had me dead-to-rights, but I still called.
In the end, I blame myself and luck equally. I can't change luck, so I can only focus on my errors. If I was thinking more clearly, I could've analyzed the situations better. If I took my time and acted rationally, I could've listened to the part of me that thought my flush was no good. But I didn't give myself that chance.
On the other hand, when I left the game, I wasn't too upset. The idea of losing $600 still bothered me, but it was only in a curious sort of way. I wasn't actually upset. I was up over $700 on the month, so I had the money to lose. I lost all of my chips on the KK v. AA and Queen-flush v. King-flush. These things are bound to happen, so accepted the fact that they happened, and the $600 I lost as a result.
If you can't handle the swings in poker, don't play. This game is not for the feint of heart. $600 is a pretty penny, but I have come to accept it, and I will come to accept higher losses in the future. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and all that jazz. Before the $600 loss, I was amazed that I could handle $200 losses. Before that, it was $100, and before that $20. My tolerance for loss has increased, as has my winnings. And everything is right in the world.
This post was written over the course of three days, so excuse me if its a bit disjointed. It is now Monday, and I'm glad to finally be done with it. Sometimes, reliving losses in blog form can be just as painful as the actual loss.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Heads Up Challenge V
Friday, August 24, 2007
This time around, Fuel55 has taken on the role of HUC Commissioner. Our goal is to reach 32 competitors this time, enough for a nice prize pool and an interesting field. But we need your help. In the past, the HUC has topped out at 32 competitors, but the buy-in was $10. This year, the buy-in is $30, in order to increase the prize pool. With the weekly blogger tournaments (the Hoy is $26), and the bulging bankrolls of the poker blogging community, there is no reason why we can't get 32 players into this HUC event.
You seem unsure. Let me offer some practical reasons for entering the HUC:
- It'll give you a chance to meet and compete with other bloggers. The first HUC began about 2 years ago, and consisted of eight players, with TripJax taking the championship after a hard-fought battle with none other than fellow Poker Trust homie, GCox. If you've read this blog for any length of time, you might know that Trip, G and I are good pals. It was through events like the HUC that we first had an opportunity to interact. The same is true for other HUC 1 competitors like Will Wonka, the recently-returned SteelerJosh, and DNasty. So, if you are looking to get a bit deeper into the poker blogosphere, or want to rub elbows with people of similar interests, the HUC is for you.
- You'll face good competition, but not too good competition. The HUC has seen its share of strong competition before, including DoubleAs, CMitch, and Hoyazo. But they aren't all good. In fact, some of us are just aweful. I, for one, never seem to make it through the first round, and there is always an element of luck in HU games, so even if you aren't a pro, you'll stand a fighting chance against a wide range of competitors.
- You may learn a thing or two. The HU Queen, Veneno, got her first chance to really delve into the world of Heads-Up Poker through the HUC2. I, too, have learned a lot about HU poker through these matches. Even if you don't play HU often, you do hope to get HU in a major MTT one day, don't you? Okay, then. So why not play some HU in a format that is fun and friendly AND learn a thing or two that could help you out when you final table that Guarantee tournament you always dreamed of. Or you can just take 2nd place...see if I care.
- Its fun. Playing HU is always fun to me (online...live it can be tedious). But playing online against other bloggers is awesome. In past HUCs, there was a slew of smack talk, be it in the chat box during the tournament, via girlie chat even before that, or via blog posts. In fact, you can take a look at some of the past player bios here. I'm sure you'll notice that pretty much all of the bios are dripping with sarcastic comments. Cause that's how we roll, sarcastically!
- You'll have something to blog about. Let's face it, there comes a time in every bloggers existence in which we face the existential crisis: what should I write about? The answer is easy. HUC! I, personally, got a lot of material out of the HUC tournaments. Part of it is just a byproduct of the interaction with other bloggers. But also, I refined some of my favorite strategies through HUC play, and got to spend time critically thinking about poker as a result. The HUC also lends itself to some less-strategic posts. Whatever the case is, you'll always have something to write about when you are playing the HUC.
- It'll get you readers. This one, I was almost going to skip, but since we really want to hit the 32 players mark, I'm throwing it out there. We all want to dance around the issue of hits. Lord knows I've dragged myself through the mud before with similar topics. But realistically speaking, you want readers to see your blog. By participating in the HUC, I can guarantee that you will get about 31 new readers immediately, those being your competition. Its less about getting hits for the sake of getting hits, and more about getting involved with other bloggers. I, personally, met a bunch of new blogs/bloggers through the HUCs. Its just natural. You sign up, people see your name in the brackets, and they click the link to see who this PokerHumper or whatever is.
Number of Players: 32 (first pay, first served)
Entry Fee: $30 (paid in advance to Fuel55 at FullTilt or Stars)
Places Paid: 4 (1st thru 4th will be paid $432, $288, $144 and $96, respectively)
Structure: Preliminary rounds will be best of 3 and Final 4 will be best of 5
Organization: Players will have 5 days per round to organize and complete their match - the winner will give me the match results
Suggested games:Poker Stars HU SNGs with NO blind increases - this is only a suggestion, and individual matches can determine their own HU SNG and stakes, provided that it is NLHE.
Once you pay please email Fuel55 your full name, blog, user name on Stars and Tilt so that he can compile a player database. His email is fuel55 at veltheer dot com.
Hit n' Runs
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Work has been pretty stressful lately. I've got a lot lined up for today, all of which needs to be finished by the late afternoon, but I'm confident I will ultimately get it done. Regardless, I am now a week in to this recent hyper-stressful work run and my evenings have suffered as a result. When I leave work, I want nothing more than to just shut down my mind, act like a zombie for a couple of hours, only to ressurect myself the next day to do it all over again.
With that in mind, I left the office yesterday after changing into some comfortable clothes and headed to the Nice Look poker room, where I was to meet Dave Ruff and his friend Bridge. When I got to the hood, I decided to grab some food, and gave the local burger joint, Brgr, a try.
Brgr sorely disappointed, and in my estimation, is likely the reason I ended up leaving the poker room when I did. The burger, ordered medium rare, came out rare. I like myself a little blood, though, so I didn't complain. Nor did I complain about the fact that the burger looked like a sloppy mess. The chocolate shake was also disappointing. Rather than having a chocolate taste, it tasted too heavily of chocolate syrup. Now, to the non-chocolate-shake connoisseurs, it might not seem like a difference at all. However, chocolate syrup (as opposed to chocolate ice cream) generally has a sharper, almost berry-like taste in large quantities. In this case, that's all I tasted.
Overall, it was just poor execution, but I had poker on my mind, so I wolfed down the burger and drank down the shake and headed to the game. When I arrived, I was seated at a 1/2 table by the front of the room. I looked around for Ruff and Bridge and found them at a 1/2 table in the back of the place. One seat was open at their table, so I grabbed it.
Before I sat down though, I had to get my chips. While I was doing that, I noticed the tournament schedule. LJ left me a comment earlier this week about the $500 tournament on Wednesdays. I'm not sure if she was kidding, misinformed or made a typo, but in actuality, there was a $50+10 freezeout tournament scheduled for yesterday at 7:30pm. That's right in my wheelhouse, so when I sat down, I jokingly said to the table, "I've got to win $60 in thirty minutes." By then, it was 7pm, so I was actually being semi-serious. If I could win $60 in that time, I could freeroll the tournament, and Jordan likes his freerolls, even if he has to earn it.
I was in the 10 seat, and Bridge and Ruff were in the 5s and 6s, respectively. It was easy to chat with them, but we kept it light, preferring to focus on the action and (in my estimation, at least) attempting not to look like we knew each other too well. Once again, its not about collussion. I won't collude. But it IS about avoiding the appearance of collussion. In law, the Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit conduct that creates the appearance of dishonesty or the appearance of a conflict of interest. The rule is designed to hold lawyers to a level where accusations cannot even be made (whether or not people follow it is another story). But generally, that's how I live my life. I don't just want to be on the straight and narrow. I also want to make sure that there is no reason to think otherwise.
The table was, well, boring. The 1s was an old crumudgeon who seemed to be a rock. The 2s was a guy I later learned was a professor at a local college. He looked bookish, in his mid- to late- 40s, and also gave off an air of tightness.
Next to him was a Jean-Robert Bellande wannabe. He was probably the only interesting player at the table, but it was clear that his confidence heavily outweighed his skill. At this limp-folding table, I was baffled by his preflop raise to $20 in EP/MP. For all his efforts, I think he won $5 in blinds and a limp. No matter what 2 cards he had, it was a stupid play. If he had AA, he wanted action. If he had a vulnerable pair, he didn't want to limit his action to dominating hands (the only people who would call $20 would have him beat). If he had crap cards, a $20 raise in that position to steal the blinds is just moronic. But as I said, he was the only interesting player at the table, and that was why.
Next to him was a portly Indian kid in a bright pink polo shirt. Now, I'll wear the occassional pink shirt to work, but these hyper-pink polos are just ghey. He was a very weak player, to boot. That would put us at the 5s, Bridge, and 6s, Ruff. I know they can both play, so they were my only real concerns, after I got used to 7s, 8s, and 9s.
What was so scary about 7s, 8s, and 9s? Well, frankly, they were young Asian guys. I don't mean to be "racist", but when it comes to poker, you need to be able to generalize in order to figure out some basic reads to start off a game. You should then always refine that read as the game progresses. So, for instance, if I see an old man wearing an old work shirt, I can assume he is a pensioner and will likely be playing tight. If I see a young kid with sunglasses and an iPod, I can assume he's there to play lots of hands. Neither guess may be accurate, but they are still a good starting point based on my experience. So, going back to the three Asian youths, I assumed, from my experience, that they would be calculating and likely aggressive. After a while, though, I realized that they were patient as opposed to aggressive (although still very calculating). Fortunately, I had position on them also, and they were folding a lot, so when I got into a hand, they were usually out already.
So, after folding a couple of hands, I was dealt QQ in the BB. There were 4 or so limpers and the SB completed. I opted to raise $15 on top, to appear like I was stealing the pot and also to narrow my competition down to one player. The second goal worked, and it was me and one other guy seeing the Jack-high flop. I decided to bet $30 to keep the appearance that I was just trying to take down the pot with big bets (compared to the action I saw at the table, because frankly, $30 into a roughly $40 pot is not big), but my opponent folded. The dealer joked about how I was on my way to the $60, and just then, a floor person came around selling the seating cards necessary to get into the tournament. I manned up and paid the $60, although part of me felt like sticking around at this weak table. Ultimately, I decided that the table was TOO weak, and getting action was going to be too difficult, so the tournament would be a nice fun interlude. Even better, some of the weaker players (pink-shirted Asian, the professor) bought $60 seating cards immediately before me, so I knew that the weakest of the players would be in the tournament (and, therefore, leaving this table). Ruff and Bridge decided to stick around in the cash game, likely because of their nicely growing stacks.
Still, it wasn't 7:30 yet, so I stayed put, trying to win my $60. The table was unbearably tight, so I opted to straddle to $5 when I was UTG. The old crumudgeon in the 1s called and one of the blinds called. I opted to raise $20 on top ($25 total), when I looked down at A6o. It wasn't a great hand, but if you aren't going to try to make a move when you are straddling, then straddling is just a way to throw away money. Let's put it this way: Would you blind raise out of position to start a hand, with everyone knowing that you are blind raising? My answer is No, because there is no benefit. You are throwing the money into the pot without any info, and your opponent gets a lot of info, since he knows you likely have nothing, based on pure odds. However, I WOULD make the same deal if I got to act last. THAT is the benefit of a straddle, and all too often, I see people forget that, once they look down at their two marginal cards. I don't mean to say you ALWAYS raise in this spot, because sometimes, the preflop action will indicate that no one is going to fold, and your hand is really bad. But in this case, the two limpers might fold to $20, and even if they didn't, I had a surprisingly good hand for a random hand.
To my surprise, only the crumudgeon called. The flop was 652, so I flopped TPTK. I decided to bet out $40, which was just an aweful play. He pushed all-in for $93 more and I folded. He could've been bullshitting me, if he thought I was raising with air because of the "BS" preflop raise from the straddle, essentially a continuation bluff, but I tried to read him and he just looked disinterested. His disinterest told me that he was relaxed and happy with his hand, and I couldn't get the thought of 77 or 88 out of my head. It certainly matched his play. Folding can be a small mistake, but calling can be a huge one, so I opted to fold, and found myself down slightly over $100.
At this point, the table knew I was the loose aggressive guy at the table. I was mildly annoyed at losing, but I didn't let it bother me, since I knew that I could win it all back on one hand.
My cards were crap, so I folded away for a while. The tourney was coming near, but I was okay with leaving the cash game down. In fact, I joked to Ruff, "Forget about freerolling the tournament. I'm going to have to win the tournament to break even from this game."
Finally, in EP/MP, I was dealt 44. I opted to call along with the 6 or so players to see the flop, 432. Sweet! I checked and then immediately regretted it. That is, immediately regretted it until the Professor bet out $10. Bridge called and when it got to me, I thought for a minute and raised to $35 total. The Professor called, and I think Bridge folded. I prayed that the Professor didn't have A5. It was definitely a possibility in a limping game like this, since a smart player will adjust by limping with marginal cards with the hope to hit a monster if he thinks he'll get action when he hits. When the turn was a King, I decided to quit fucking around. I bet out $50, and he quickly called. This is when I realized I had him on the hook. In both instances, he called very fast. He was not thinking about his decision, so I needed to keep him on this quick-action stint to control him. The river was a 3, giving me a full house, 4s full of 3s. I pushed all-in quickly and he called. The speed was key. I didn't want him to think of the full house, in case he had his straight. I just wanted him to thiink about the donkey across the table trying to push him off of a hand with ridiculous overbets.
I showed my cards and he mucked. Just then, the announcement was made. Tournament players had to cash out from cash games and take their seats in the tournament. I racked up, cashed out up $83, and then made my way to my table, located in a smoking room I never knew existed.
But before that, I bumped into Wendy and Cheryl, two players I know from the Wall Street Poker game. We chatted for a bit before an old friend from law school, Dan K., came over to also say hello. I hadn't seen him in years, since my home game dried up, so we chatted for a bit before I headed to the cashier to get my moneys.
Once paid, I took my tournament seat (9s), and was pleased to find the professor in the 2s and the pink-polo Indian in the 8s. The tournament starts with 500 chips, 20 minute levels, and 5/10 blinds. The second level is 10/20 blinds, but after that, I have no idea. Why? Because I busted in the second level.
Overall, my play was so/so. I folded for a bit, limped in a couple of hands and then folded, and maybe stole a blind once we got to 10/20. I don't remember the exact hand, but I called a preflop bet in one hand and then had to fold on the flop. Ultimately, I was down to 225, in the BB with Q6o. There were two limpers in MP and pink polo called in the SB. Since I had barely 10x the BB and this was clearly going to be a quick tourney, one way or another, I decided to push. After all, there was no indication that one of the limpers had a monster, and I wanted the 80 chip pot.
My push was called by one player, who had literally just sat down. He was an alternate, since the 7-table tourney sold out, so he still had his full 500. Still, to call an all-in on the first hand must require great cards. Nope. KJh. I had two live ones, but neither hit. I didn't really care, since I was freerolling, and I was happy to play a hand rather than sit around nursing a short stack. I also didn't feel terribly comfortable, and the burger and shake were starting to rebel in my stomach. Admittedly, it was a gamble to push when I did, but I saw the entire tournament as a freeroll gamble, so I'm more or less happy with my play.
When the river was dealt, I stood up and yelled, "YEAH!" This was all part of a joke and the table looked at me when I was continued, "YEAH!!...i've got nothing." They all cracked up and I wished them all good luck. It was one of my favorite exits, lighthearted and fun. My other favorite is the ole, "This game is stupid!"
I went over to Ruff and Bridge, who both sported nicely sized stacks. They appeared to be up several hundred dollars each. I, meanwhile, still had $23 profit. We chatted for a bit about the hand where I straddled, and he agreed that it was a good fold. I still don't like the flop bet though. I'm only getting called by a better hand and I can't call any raises. Bad all around. I considered sitting, but there were no seats open. I joked to Ruff that I may have to leave because I had to drop a duece really bad. I also seriously considered leaving because I felt satiated.
Its weird feeling satiated with poker. Even though I was there for only an hour, I felt like I got some good gamblin' done. I also recognized that I wasn't playing patiently, and I didn't want to hurt my bankroll or pride by playing poorly. If I left immediately, I could lock in my measely $23 profit, but it was better than nothing.
I found Dan. K, at the same table as Wendy in the tournament. We chatted for a bit and he asked about my home game. I told him it was done, but I found some others. I told him I could get him in if he was interested, and he agreed. He then told me to call him about it. At that point, the urge to hit the bathroom was just too strong. My stomach was taking a beating from the undercooked burger, and I knew I had to get out of there quick. I wished him luck and entered the mens room. The stall was in use, so I went to the urinal to distract myself. Nothing came and I headed for the door. The guy drying his hands off gave me a dirty look for not washing up, but I didn't give a shit. Brother needed a REAL bathroom, and I wasn't going to mock wash up for this fucker.
I said a quick goodbye to Bridge and Ruff and then left. I turned the corner and found a nearby Starbucks, usually the best choice for a quick bathroom break in the city. About 50% of them are filthy, but the other 50 are clean, and no one gives you shit for, well, taking a shit without paying for a drink. I made straight for the bathroom, which was clean enough. Prior to entering hte place, I considered grabbing a cab and waiting for home, but I knew it was desperate times. Once done, I washed up and headed to the counter for an iced tea. Even though I could've freerolled the bathroom, I thought of this as Starbuck's toke for having such plentiful bathrooms scattered throughout the city. I grabbed the subway home and waited for my wifey.
Excuse the duece talk, but when I was on my way home, I was trying to figure out how to explain my sudden departure. I thought it false to just say I had enough poker. I did have enough, but I also had other things distracting me, namely my bowels. But hey, if you can't be honest on your blog, where can you be?
Until next time, make mine Charmin!
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Over the last few months, I've periodically received random emails from friends both close (in time, relationship and distance) and far, all asking me to Link them up on the website Linked In. At first, the request came from an illustrious blogger, and I asked him what it was all about, since I was not used to his real life name. When he told me it was a networking site, I decided to play along and set up my account. I did not, however, do anything with it. I just left it mostly blank with my one connection (to that blogger) and left it alone.
A week or two later, a completely unrelated friend sent me a request to Link on the Linked In website. Well, shit, I already set the account, and if my friend wants to link up on some random website, who am I to argue. So, I clicked the necessary hyperlinks and soon I had two friends linked up.
A few days later, another friend contacted me to link up on Linked In, and I ended up with three links. At this point, I got a bit curious. All three of these people were from different social circles. Not only did they not know each other, but they were all from different walks of life. So, I took a look, read through a close friend's Linked In profile and decided it was worth filling in my personal information. After all, who knows what could happen? If I get linked through to the right person, there might be some benefit to all this random social linking.
I should mention, I never had a My Space page. While I had a Friendster account (I still get update emails when my "Friendster Friends" change their profiles!), I barely used it. I haven't even loaded up FaceBook or any of the other 100s of networking sites, and I don't intend to do so in the future.
Since that third Linked In request, I received another 6 or so requests, all from random friends and colleagues I've met over my 27 years on this planet. And truth be told, it started to get annoying. Each time I got one, I had two choices: ignore it and slight the person who invited me, or dance like a monkey for the organ grinder. I chose to dance, mostly because the minor annoyance takes all of 1 minute per link and I don't have anything personally against any of these friends inviting me.
But still, as I was opening my email at home, I saw another Linked In invite, and I couldn't help but to groan to wifey Kim. "What is up with this Linked In shit? I mean, is everyone and their sister on this thing?"
"I've been getting requests, too!" wifey Kim responded, also apparently baffled at the popularity and purpose of the website.
"What's the point of it?" I asked, as much to the Gods as to wifey Kim.
"I don't know. People just invited me so I joined."
"Wait. Maybe we should be linked in. I mean, you ARE my wife!"
"I'll send you an invite."
And so, we became linked. But the question still remains, What is the point of these networking sites? Its not as though an employer or potential client is going to go to Linked In and search through 6 degrees of people to find lil ole me when he is looking to hire a new attorney. Its not as though I want to meet up with old forgotten friends and acquaintences.
Admittedly, I'm not the best at keeping in touch. I'm just so focused on the here and now that if you were yesterday, I am not desperately seeking you out. That is not to suggest that I don't have close relationships with people. I merely mean that when those relationships dissolve or become estranged over time, I'm accepting of the changing cast that is life. If I like you and you are accessible, I'll keep in touch with you. If I don't like you, I don't give a shit about keeping in touch. If I like you but you are moving to Timbuktu, I'll keep in touch via email or whatever, but unless we are close, I am not going to worry about you while you are so far away. I'll gladly meet up when you get back though.
So, what the hell is the point of Linked In or any of these sites? Maybe the real question is what is in it for me, a guy in a set job who does not care to reconnect with past acquaintences unless I am doing the effort (as opposed to unexpected invites on Linked In that result in zero actual interaction with long lost acquaintences).
Are we truly just lambs to slaughter? Do we just move like herded sheep? I guess so. After all, I went out of my way to link in with my wife, even as we discussed the stupidity of the damn site.
Any opinions? I'm baffled.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Ever since last season of America's Next Top Model, wifey Kim has made it a habit to visit her friend uptown once a week. Even after the season ended, the girls still found an excuse to meet up weekly, and me, being the loving and supporting husband I am (read: degenerate gambler) have encouraged such weekly plans, while I go about my business earning money the old fashioned way, through playing a stupid game!
These last few months, Tuesday was wifey Kim's weekly plan day, so I found myself heading over to the Wall Street Poker game or the occasional Salami tournament.
This week, however, wifey Kim's plans changed, and Tuesday became Wednesday. This didn't really change much on my end. There was no Wall Street game going, so I figured that I would probably just head over to Salami or skip it altogether, given the stress at work, and just go home for the night. But thankfully, I received this email today from my childhood friend and fellow poker fiend, Dave Ruff:
Yo… whats up?
What u doing tomorrow night? (wed)
Bridge and I were thinking about heading over to “nice look” after work? U interested? Have u heard if they have been having good, full games recently?And that, folks, says it all. I haven't played with Ruff in months, and I need to log more hours in the profitable NL tables at Nice Look.
Interestingly, going to a club with a compadre makes it a much more fun experience. Its not even as though we chat and we certainly don't work together when we play. Its just the comfort in knowing that someone else in this room of loners and cut throats is a friend, even if he doesn't want to hear your bad beat story.
I'll be there at 7pm. And for you NYC players/readers/lurkers, I'll be the guy check-raising you.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Monday, August 20, 2007
I really like the NYC bloggers I meet. So far, that illustrious crew includes (in order of meeting), Dr. Pauly, the Rooster, F-Train, Derek, SoxLover, Dawn, Karol, ShipItFish, Hoyazo and LJ. I may be leaving out a few, but take no offense. There are just too many damn NYC bloggers around, and if I were to list everyone I've met through the IHO girls alone, I'd be here all night.
I've written before about how oddly comfortable it is to meet one of these fellow bloggers in person. Since we immediately share an interest in poker and writing (and for NYC bloggers, a common locale), conversation is easy. Since we likely read each others' writings, we already know a bit about who that person is inside of their heads. But the greatest thing is that I actually LIKE these people. For the most part, they are open, friendly, good-natured, fun-loving folks, and I consider them the #1 benefit I've gotten from this humbly awesome blog.
On Sunday, I went to New Jersey to play some poker at Soxlover's apartment. It was a dealer's choice format, and it seemed like there was an unspoken goal to hit as many different types of poker possible, including (in order of least to most cards per player), NL Holdem, Double Board PL Holdem, Crazy Pineapple, LO8, PLO8, PLO, Badugi, PL Five Card Draw, NL Kansas City Lowball (essentially, Five Card Draw where you are trying to get the WORST hand), Limit 2-7 Triple Draw, Stud Hi, Stud 8 or Better (i.e., Hi/Lo) and Razz. The players were (from me, clockwise) me, Sox, Mrs. Sox, Mary, Alceste, CK, and F-Train.
Ostensibly, the game was really just a front to premiere the newest SoxLover in the family, lil Baby Sox, a freaking adorable 14 wk old angel. You might not know it from reading here, but I actually like children including babies. This is likely helped by the fact that I don't own any. But I like to be a goofy sonuvabitch, and kids are generally really responsive to that and my impossibly round baby-shaped (but oversized) cranium. Whatever the case, I really enjoyed meeting the little tyke, and I'm proud to say that her birth effectively lowered the percentage of members of the Sox family I've seen naked to 33%!
Really, I want to write about poker, but part of me can't get off of the baby thing. I've known the Soxes for probably going on 2 years. That's a very loose estimate. In reality, I've only hung out with them a dozen times or so, including our trip to the Bash at the Boathouse last September. But I consider them my friends, and it was really special to be able to see the way they acted around their baby. They both literally glowed with pride. That is, when they weren't calling me fat or a donkey...
So, let's talk poker. I have two fun hands for today, one which is a Kansas City Lowball hand, and the other is a traditional NLHE hand with some fun elements. If Sox is reading this, he is going to wince at this first hand because it involved him and ended with his tilting.
Primer for you non Kansas City Lowball players. KCL looks a lot like 5-Card Draw. You get 5-cards, but your goal is to get the worst possible hand. Aces are considered High only, straights and flushes count, so the best hand is a non-flush 23457. You get one draw. Generally, a good hand at a full table (in my mind), is a 9-high, or so. In 2-7 Triple Draw (essentially KCL with three draws), your requirements get a lot higher because of all the chances to draw, but in Kansas City Lowball, its a one-shot deal. From playing 2-7 TD, I've learned that strategically, if you are sitting on a Jack-high hand and the other guy draws one card on his last draw, it is mathematically correct to stand pat (i.e., not draw). While a J-high hand may not be strong, the logic is that the drawer has a high chance of pulling an Ace, King, Queen, or pairing one of their four unpaired cards (assume 4 Aces, Kings, and Queens, three of each of the unpaired cards, for 24 bad cards in the deck for the drawing player out of less than 42 cards).
With this in mind, and my knowledge of SoxLover's playing style, I was in the BB with a Jack-high hand. The full hand was something akin to 2349J, so I planned to draw the Jack and hope for a 9-high hand. To my surprise, Sox bet out preflop a pretty penny. I don't remember the exact amount, but I remember that it was very high, and when it folded to F-Train in the SB, he folded as well. At this point, I was ready to fold if F called, because I know him to be a smart player. Sox is a smart player as well, but he's also very aggressive, and his bet seemed fishy. I knew he was semi-steaming from some other beats, and the home game generally had a loose feel, so I felt confident with my draw to a 9. I called and drew one. Sox stood pat. To replace my Jack, I got...another Jack! Crap! I checked. Sox pushed all-in, for $35 or so. I was up about $60, so I called. He had Queen high and I won.
He was rightly pissed after the hand. Don't get me wrong, I like my play. But from his perspective, calling him with a Jack-high must've looked like suicide. Realistically, though, if he saw me draw one and he was the preflop bettor, it made sense for him to stand pat and try to scare me. Once I checked to him after the draw, it made NO SENSE for him to push all-in. The pot may've been near 15 or so, but it didn't warrant his all-in push. If he had a hand worthy of standing pat, why would he bet so big. It was obviously an attempt to get me to fold. So, I had to decide if he was full-on bluffing, and when you do the math, the answer is obvious: Yes. Of course he was bluffing. Name me another hand combination where his play makes sense. If he has the nuts, maybe he is faking the bluff and overbetting for value, but how could he expect that to work when I checked so meekly after drawing one. If he had a marginal hand, like a Ten-high, why would he push. He'll only get called by a better hand. It had to be a bluff.
Make no doubt about it, that hand was made easier by the fact that SoxLover is a smart, rational player. That's what allowed me to read into his actions and paint the picture of what was really going on. If he was an idiot or a donk, he might've had anything, and folding would've been the smart choice. But he isn't an idiot.
Onto the next hand. I planned to leave Sox's place 15 minutes before the scheduled end time for the game because the trains ran on the hour, but it had begun raining, so I revoked my "last orbit" announcement after I secured a ride to the train station. I should've left earlier.
I was up about $25 when this NLHE hand happened (blinds of .50/.50). I was UTG and straddled to $1. It folded to CK, a degenerate poker player mentioned often at F-Train's blog. She was hella-loose, which can make for a fun game. In fact, I probably played the most hands against her, since we are both fairly loose.
In this hand, she opted to call from the SB, as did F-Train. I looked down at my hole cards to discover AJc, a good hand for a straddle with only the blinds on the hook. Around this time, F-Train announced that he was going to call my raise no matter what, since he knew I was just using the straddle for this purpose. I opted to raise to $7 total, an unheard-of raise preflop so far the game. To my surprise, CK called, but F-Train folded.
The flop was J56. CK checked, and I checked, hoping to get more action on the turn. The turn was a 2, and CK bet out $15. I saw her make odd bluff raises (specifically worth $15) after floating in hands, only to muck when called on the river, so I didn't worry too much about her hand. The 2 was also a club, giving me a nut-club flush draw. There was a possibility she got lucky and hit a set, but ultimately, I figured that I could rely on my backup draw. I raised, she pushed, I hestiated and then called. She had 34o, for the flopped OESD and the turned straight. I missed a club on the river and lost. From up $25 to -$50, and I wasn't even supposed to be there that late.
I steamed quietly for a bit. I ran CK's baffling play through my head (calling out of position with low unsuited connectors for $6 into a $3 pot), but ultimately just accepted that she had gambled and got lucky. I didn't rebuy back in since we were leaving within the next ten minutes, so instead I moped around until it was time to go.
Poker is a fun game, and there will be times that you will lose. That's nothing new, and I have come to accept it. -$50 on the day, but I had such a great time in NJ with the random crew that it was worth every penny.
Until next time, make mine poker!
A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That
Friday, August 17, 2007
I've found my new favorite online tournament. It's the $22 HU Tournament on PokerStars, and last night I defeated three players to win around $37 for my troubles. But even better, TripJax took 2nd place and won over $500. Nice job, Trip!
Its been an interesting week for me. I've now cashed in a Razz MTT, HU MTT, HORSE SNG, and I think some sorta NLHE MTT, although for the life of me, I'm blanking now. Its been a while since I've played such a wide variety of games, but I've repeatedly found that playing a little bit of this and a little bit of that keeps the game much more interesting.
But let's talk a little more about this HU MTT, because after playing it last night, I can confidently say that it was one of the most fun tournaments I've ever played.
Early last night, I perused the Full Tilt tournament listings, but was dismayed by the usual slate. I was considering entering the $26 Omaha Hi Deep Stack tournament, but I hate Omaha Hi, and I didn't have any tokens. Notably, if I had a token, I may've played, even though I hate Omaha Hi. That's because I consider myself a Poker Player, and any form of Poker will do. I've said it before and I'll say it again: You can pretty much put "poker" on the end of anything, and I'd be game. Omaha Hi Poker? Okay. 2-7 Triple Draw Poker? I'll try it out. Anal Rape Poker? Start dealing and teach me as we go...
Still, I wasn't excited about any of FT's tournaments, so I fired up Stars, where I recently did a $100 fund swap with IHO regular, Alceste. As I looked through their copious list of tournaments, wittling them down by type (i.e., Cash, instead of Satellites) and the amount of people playing. It was almost 9pm, and I didn't feel like playing a 1000 person tournament. In fact, 200 or less was the goal. One tournament showed 45 players at the time (eventually 160+), and when I looked at the type of tournament (which, oddly enough, was the last thing on my check list), I saw it was a HU tournament. That sounded fun. After all, I'd know pretty quickly if I was busted or not from the game, and it was a nice change of pace. I love HU play, mostly because its just you and your opponent, with little else to focus on. So, I signed up and changed my status on Yahoo Messenger (highonpokr, no E) to "9:15 $22 HU MTT on Stars". I figured I could drum up some interest from other bloggers and make it a bit more interesting. I also sent out some specific invites to people I was chatting with, and soon, TripJax, Fluxer, Soxlover and I were signed up and chatting.
In the first round, I was put up against a player named IBetIWin. He lost that bet. As soon as the window had popped up, I turned on Area 33 on Sirius Radio and enbiggened the Stars window to fill the whole screen. My goal was to have no distractions, even though I occasionally switched back to that chat room to update my compadres. Soxlover and TripJax both got byes for the first round, but Fluxer and I shamed our competition with our natural aggression and clever HU play.
After that, we had to wait for the rest of the first round to complete. This took at least 20 minutes longer than my match, during which I lightly chatted and watched some television. Normally, such a wait would kill my poker buzz. However, I was in a weird half-mood to play, so this allowed me time to relax with the knowledge that there was going to be another match popping up practically at random.
Eventually, the first round ended and we all go into our second matches. Trip and Sox were done relatively quickly, both winning, and then Fluxer lost and make a quick exit from the chat. By then, Mr. Goss, a reader, had joined us and was sharing in the chat. I finished my match, and we had all made it to the proverbial bubble, 64 players left, 32 spots paid.
While we waited 30 minutes for the lollygaggers to finish their Round 2 matches, Sox suggested a deal where we'd split our winnings three-ways. The deal would be nullified if we got HU against each other. Ultimately, though, Trip and I turned down the offer. For me, it was my confidence in my own skills coupled with the disappointment I would have if I won the tourney for $1000 and had to give away $666.
Ironically, Sox was the next player to go, once we started Round 3. Meanwhile, I was struggling, down to 700 at my worst (from a starting stack of 1500). This didn't actually bother me much, as I have extensive HU experience online and knew what to do. In this case, I simply used my inverse theory of aggression (also located here) and tightened up. I was able to double up to 1300 at one point, and from there, I amped up the aggression until my opponent was choking on his own failure.
ITM, I felt good, and went about watching some more TV while I awaited my next round. I wish I had more details, and I may revisit this later, but ultimately, I lost that round. Still, I had money in my pocket and it felt good to money in a random MTT. It was already fairly late, so I shut down the comp and wished TripJax the best.
Variety is a key to my poker experience. When I read or hear about an otherwise good player doing poorly, I also try to advise them to change up their game. If they are used to NLHE, try some Omaha. If they like LHE, try NLHE. Whatever is your usual thing, change it up. Its so easy to fall into auto-mode, where you act without thinking because you've played your game of choice so much. This might work for some people, but for most of us, its met with "bad luck" which is really just apathetic, thoughtless play that prevents effectiveness. By switching your game, you force yourself to think about your actions.
To a different extent, I change up my game pretty much daily. It keeps things interesting. Hence, Razz earlier this week and HU last night. For anyone looking to re-invigorate their game, changing their type of poker is highly recommended.
Oh, and while we are talking about HU poker, I also HIGHLY recommend you join the Heads Up Challenge 5.
Until next time, make mine poker!
I crashed and burned in the Mookie on Wednesday night, but I luckily saved a few hands, all of which were between me and BoofDiggity (Boof, if you have a blog, lemme know). I've never played with Boof before (that I can remember), but he appeared very aggressive, and this eventually led to my downfall.
It started off normal enough, with Boof raising preflop and picking up my blinds on two occasions. In both cases, I merely didn't have the cards, but I took it as a sign that Boof was playing aggressive poker. My suspicions were confirmed with this hand (which, incidentally, set up my demise):
Boof was in the BB (20/40 blinds) with 3240, up 240 from his original 3k stack, mostly from aggressive play. He hadn't made a showdown yet. I had 3385, from much the same technique, and opted to raise from the cutoff after it folded to me. I had J9c, but the lack of action and that fun drawing gap hand led me to bet out to 120. IslandBum with 3355 on the button, and Boof in the BB called.
The flop was an utterly useless Q87, rainbow. However, when Boof led out with a 200 bet into the 380 pot, I opted to call. On one hand, I was floating, hoping to see what he would do on the turn to discern whether he was bullshitting or not. On the other hand, I was also hoping for that Ten. Truthfully, drawing to an inside straight is stupid. However, if I hit it, I was confident that it would be well hidden, and the deep stacks allowed me to gamble for a mere 200. IslandBum called as well.
The turn was an Ace. If I shouldn't have been in the hand after the flop, I DEFINITELY shouldn't be in the hand after that turn. Boof bet out 200 again, and while that looked suspicious, I had to fold because of IslandBum behind me. To my delight, IB raised to 600 and Boof folded after waiting for the 15-second warning.
In my head, I figured that Boof was bullshitting the entire hand. The 200 flop bet was probably a probe, and then when everyone was passive, the turn 200 was just a weak 2nd bullet. So, I had mentally established that Boof wanted to win every hand he was in. His over-aggression was going to pay me off, or so I hoped.
If there was a theme to these hands, its that I was perhaps playing too many speculative hands against an overaggressive player. In the grand scheme of things, I didn't even really know if Boof was being overly aggressive. In Tao of Poker, the author explained that even though someone may seem overaggressive, it does not mean that they are overaggressive. Sometimes, luck is merely in their favor and they are getting great cards. It is all too easy to assume, "He's just trying to run over the table," and go to battle with sub-optimal cards. That said, I continued on with the assumption that Boof was being overly aggressive.
Still at the 20/40 level, Boof (2700) limped UTG. I (3845) called on the button with 97d, another speculative hand. I was happy to get in a hand with position on Boof, now that I was formulating a read. The two blinds joined as well for the K29 flop with two clubs. The blinds checked and Boof bet out 160, the size of the pot. It felt like just another bet from the overaggressive Boof, so I called with my middle pair, hoping to get more info on the turn.
The turn was another King. Immediately, this put me at ease. It was suddenly less likely he had a King. This was supported by his weak 160 bet. Recalling his hand against IslandBum, I reasoned that Boof didn't increase the size of his bet from flop to turn because he was weak. Still, I didn't want to chase him off if he was bluffing into me, so I flat called. The river was an 8. Boof bet out 400 after waiting for the 15-second warning. To me, these were signs that he was bluffing. I thought that maybe he missed his flush. Ultimately, I decided to just call once again. After all, if he was beat with the mere 9, he was going to fold to a raise. If he was ahead of the 9, he was not going to fold, from what I saw. At showdown, he had K9o, for a full house.
I wasn't too unhappy with the outcome of that hand. My read of Boof, overly aggressive and trying to win every pot he was in, actually stopped me from making a fatal error, i.e., raising. Still, that marginal hand I played was all my fault. Still, I was around even for the tournament and I was getting a feel for the table. As I've said, I don't mind losing chips early, especially if I can use the knowledge to my advantage later
And then I die a sad death.
Here's the fun action. We are up to 25/50 blinds, and Boof (3660) raising UTG+1 to 150. It folds to me and my KK in the SB. I have over 3000 chips. I decide to raise to 500. Only Boof calls. Sweet.
The flop was T99. I wanted to make sure I kept Boof on the line. I knew he liked to bet out, so I checked and tried to get him to bluff in position. I only feared the 9 (he couldn't have Aces based on the preflop action), and the 9 didn't concern me much. He obliged by betting 500. I called.
The turn was a Queen. There were no flush draws. I checked. Boof bet out 1000. I min-raised to 2000. Boof raised to 2660 total and was all-in. I called. He showed QQ for a full house. I lose.
It was a humbling experience, but there was no doubt we were getting all-in KK v. QQ. If it happened preflop, on the flop, or on the turn made no real difference. I had already decided that I could take Boof and had to take Boof to establish dominance over the table. In the end, he got a little lucky on the turn, but I don't begrudge luck. It was a fun back-and-forth with Boof, and it reminded me of what the Red Lion told me at the Nice Look Club:
"There's a reason why lions and tigers don't fight in the wild. No matter who wins, they both end up seriously injured."
I'm not sure if Boof ended up injured, but I guess I tussled with the wrong lion. GG, sir. In the end, I should not have jumped to the over-aggro conclusion. In the K9 v. 97 hand, he WAS loose preflop (calling UTG+1), but he had cards when he bet out. Looking back, that meant he probably hit something in the hand against IslandBum, where he folded to the reraise late. I was able to effectively adjust to his style, allowing him to hang himself in the KK v. QQ hand, but ultimately, it didn't work out.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Rocking with my Salami Out
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I received this comment tonight:
I've pretty much known that Dawn from I Had Outs was made at the Salami game. I remember a while ago her telling a story about someone at the club asking her about her site. However, I though HoP was able to remain below the radar. In hindsight, I guess this was bound to happen. After all, I'm linked up with the IHO girls, so its perfectly logical that someone would find me through her link or use our common codename for the club, aka Salami, to do a Google Search. That said, now that I know that Salami players are reading this blog, I'm a tad nervous. After all, I've just wrote about how I like the fact that most of my competition doesn't read this blog, and therefore does not know some of my plays. Now, it seems like I've been exposed.
Ironically, even though people seem to know of HoP, they haven't connected me to HoP yet. That's freaking hysterical when you think about the fact that I have a god damn uniform, practically, when I play at Salami. I mean, look for the guy with the Buddha statue and you've found HoP.
I suppose it isn't terribly surprising though. I don't go to Salami often. Heck, I've only been there 8 times this whole half-year. Also, I'm not prone to giving out my name, mostly because there never seems to be an opportunity for me to say, "Hello, I'm Jordan. Nice to meet you fellow underground poker player," without looking like a tool. I suppose my anti-social personality doesn't help.
Oh well. Nothing will change. If I'm outed, so be it. Maybe my raises will even start to get some respect. Lord knows I'll keep talking about the fishy action at Salami.
Until next time, make mine poker!
If you've been following along, I held an inner debate with myself last night about whether I should go to Salami to play in their tournament. I eventually decided to go to the club, but when I arrived, it was a very different scene than I expected. The place was packed, and they were in the process of starting a second 5/5 NL table. Notably, 5/5 NL plays like 10/20 NL at Salami Club. That's why I only go there for the $60, $40 rebuy/add-on tournaments. Salami, being a small club, only has three tables. If you do that math, that only left one table for the tournament.
I hung out watching some of the 5/5 action, hoping that it wasn't as aggressive as previous days. I saw a preflop raise to $50 which killed off any remnant of hope. As I stood against the wall watching all the commotion, I finally decided to make my exit. If the tournament did occur, it'd be a small affair, a mere afterthought to the real action around the room. I didn't feel like being a second-class citizen, and I didn't feel like the mood was right. So, I retreated to the subway and back to my apartment.
In the comments to my last post, LJ said that I should've went to the Nice Look Club (aka Good Look, aka Good Luck). The thought had occurred to me, but I resolved to call it a night considering my last post and the bad vibes from Salami. Even so, Nice Look is now my undisputed favorite underground card room, and the next time I'm going to a card room after work, it will definitely be Nice Look.
Once home, I settled in and finished this Sunday's episode of The 4400. Amazingly, The 4400 was a precursor to the phenomenom that is Heroes. I LOVE HEROES. I mean, as a self-professed comic book geek, I really appreciate the mature look at the idea of superpowers, and I literally geek out as soon as I see a character enter a room on that damn show. The 4400, however, came out probably 2 years before and has a lot of the same concepts. It, too, is about people who develop super powers, but the show has a much weirder backstory. Rather than evolution, the initial 4,400 people who developed powers got it after they were abducted by the future over 60+ years and then returned to Earth unaged in 2004 or something. The people don't remember anything between being abducted and returning to Earth, so the time displacement and superpower storylines make for an interesting mix. It still falls short of Heroes, though, due to the quality of writing and acting. Still, I'm a big fan.
So, after watching the end of the episode, I fired up the comp to see what was happening. I even looked at Stars and Bodog, where I have no money, to see what tournaments would be available if my money was spread out. Side note: I recently got an email from Bodog about a blogger tournament. It's $10 buy-in, with about $125 of bonus money thrown in by Bodog. I don't mean to sound ingrateful, but that's really not a compelling tournament, and certainly not much thanks or impetus for bloggers to post about Bodog. But alas, post I am. And on that note, if anyone is interested in doing a $50 or $100 swap onto Bodog, Poker.com or PokerStars in exchange of money at Full Tilt or PayPal, send me an email at highonpokr AT yahoo. I want to spread the money around a bit to focus on some different tourneys.
After shutting down Stars and Bodog, I logged onto Full Tilt in time to sign up for the 8:15 Razz MTT. It was a $24+2 (i.e., Token) buy-in, and 2k Guarantee. Within the first hour, I was in first place out of 81 players left. I remained in the top 5 until we were near the money bubble (16 places paid), when I lost a couple of hands due to good starting cards and bad cards on late streets. This is really the heart of Razz tournament poker. Luck plays a larger role because you are so dependent on later cards. Even if you had A2/3 to start against a player showing an 8, you may have to lay down your hand by fifth street if you get two bricks and he gets a 6 and 7. Luck of the draw. The bubble broke and I made it ITM. However, I eventually went out in 12th for only $41 after a couple more hands didn't come through. It was disappointing not going deeper, but I was still happy about my performance. So close, yet so far.
During that tournament, I began chatting with GCox. We decided to play a $5 HORSE SNG. The buy-in is cheaper than I'd usually play, but since I was two-tabling with Razz, I didn't want to invest too much. I played fairly standard poker in the HORSE SNG. Before I knew it we were down to 5 players, with G and I still in the running. No joke, 5 minutes later, the HORSE window pops up (I had the Razz MTT filling the screen and the HORSE SNG in the corner), and its just me, G and one other guy. ITM without even noticing. Ultimately, it was G and me heads-up, but he got the better of me. GG, G. It reminded me of old days.
Wifey Kim came home shortly before I busted in the Razz MTT. Once that was done, I shut down the comp and spent some time with her. After she fell asleep, I watched some Big Brother. If anyone else watches this show, lemme know. All I can say is that it may seem like just another reality show, but its just so much more involved. I mean, any show that has nightly three hour live feeds on Showtime is on another level. Raw feeds, btw, are the shit. Back in the day, the Real World on MTV was actually REAL. The people lived actual lives, had jobs, and were not attention-starved whores and man-sluts. In fact, you actually got to see how they acted. Now, you get a bunch of attention-starved models in a house alternatively making out and fighting, while they work at a cushy 'job' set up by MTV. The worst part is you don't even see anything anymore. Instead, you see a person yell down a hallway "THAT WAS SO RUDE!" and then cut to an interview of the person saying, "I can't believe Robert would bring that girl back to the house. I went in there and told them to
Ah, now I'm just rambling.
Until next time, make mine poker!
An Internal Dilemna
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
This morning, I was definitely in the mood. As I got dressed, groggy from the night before when I ironically got MORE sleep than usual, I grabbed my supplies from their usual spot and loaded up my bag. Poker wallet, check! Baseball cap, check! iPod, check! I even opted for the Moose roach clip/card cap that Katitude gave me at Okie Vegas, instead of my usual mini Buddha statues.
I figured it was Tuesday, and since my dinner plans with el Jefe and Dutchie were canceled for the second week in a row, I should take the opportunity to visit my friends and donators at the Salami Club, where I've won 50% of my tournaments, and bubbled in 50% of the tournaments I lost. The idea of playing was exciting. After all, I don't get to play live often, and I truly love this game.
But then something happened. Work.
I've spent the last 2.5 hours researching possible insurance claims in a case we are going to bring in Federal Court in New Jersey. I've never tried a case in NJ Federal Court, never drafted a federal complaint in any state, and never had an insurance claim case like this. Understand, there is a wide variety of insurance-related litigation, but my involvement has been mostly when insurance companies are covering the defense costs and any verdicts. This, however, was a suit against a life insurance company, and it was and is all new to me.
After 2.5 hours of research, its hard to find ones bearings. Its sort of like searching through the woods for a particular tree. You may start the voyage with a mental image of that tree in your head, but while you are looking at all of the other trees and following all these possible paths and streams and other markers, that image fades away, until you suddenly find a whole slew of trees that look a whole lot like that tree you were looking for, but you just aren't sure, since that mental image has faded.
That's me. Lost in the trees.
That's not to say that I'm lost. I have a good handle on the situation, and I expect it all to be a lot easier tomorrow when I come in with a fresh head and all these cut-down trees on my desk. But still, it put me in a bit of a funk, and I just don't know if Salami is such a good idea anymore.
Make no doubt about it, Jordan is a hermit. Or a would-be hermit, more accurately. I find a definite comfort in my home, and in the past this has caused me to avoid socializing with friends or even running errangs. Its 10% lazy and 90% content in my life, but its 100% problematic at times. Part of me just wants to go home tonight, skip the tournament and relax. Maybe I'll finish the episode of The 4400 on my DVR or finish the last episode of Rescue Me from the Netflix DVD of season 3. Maybe I'll play the Monkey Tourney on Stars or play a bunch of games at Full Tilt. But whatever I'm doing, it ain't live poker, and that's what concerns me.
Am I being smart by not playing when I'm not in the mood, or am I limiting my possibility of profit by not playing at all? I can tell you now that I'm still not sure what I'm going to do. My one concern with playing is that I don't want to get antsy during the tournament and donk it up.
Ah, who the fuck are we kidding. I gotta go now so I can make the game. But only ONE buy-in...and maybe the add-on.
Until next time, make mine poker!