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We Hoes GIve Head(s Up Competition)

Sometimes I get swept up in a random blog post idea or I can't get around to describing in adequate detail a recent score, be it online or live. But I'd be remiss if I did not give a little bit of love to one of my favorite homegames in all of Brooklyn, the I Had Outs game.

The IHO girls decided to throw another tournament and through the mind-bending abilities of KJ and by virtue of the impressionable mind that is Dawn, the tournament was set up for in a heads-up format. Sixteen players would tussle to determine who would be the IHO HU Champion!

I'll be the first to admit that playing with Dawn brings out the ham in me. We like to share a bit of back and forth banter, so it should surprise no one that I was in rare form upon arriving at her apartment. Brackets had already been set and I was to go against Karol, the less prolific writer at the IHO blog, in Round 1. The smack talk started before she arrived.

Talking smack in poker, particularly around friends, is a dangerous thing. I genuinely enjoy busting chops, and hopefully if you have been around me long enough, you'll come to understand that my ball-busting is merely my way of communicating love. And it was with this in mind that I dropped a shitload of love on Karol.

"Karol decided to no-show at her own tournament when she saw she was against me in the first round."

"I was going to sit out the first two rounds to give Karol a chance of winning."

"I'm going all-in in the first five hands. Karol needs an equalizer."

Speaking of equalizers, Dawn had mine in the fridge, a several-months-old 40 of Bud Light I had purchased the last time I was at an IHO game (which was probably around aught seven). I don't know why, but I've developed a habit of drinking 40s at the IHO games. I think it started because I wanted cheap beer. It continued because, shit, I like 40s. Whatever the case, I slowly nursed it on the balconey as we got ready for Round 1!

The real problem with smack talk comes when the poker actually begins. Once you build up enough bullshitting steam, the ride can only end in two places: (1) vindication, in which case your opponent will see your earlier showboating as a dick move, or (2) failure, in which case everyone will have a good laugh at your misfortune but take it in stride while you lose money and pride. And really, this is the problem with friendly smack talk. Either I feel guilty for winning or I lose. Neither are ideal...

But then again, perhaps some of my smack talk helps me win. Lord knows it seemed to work at the IHO game. It wasn't as though Karol did anything that I can directly relate to the smack, but the smack does set a mood that can be exploited.

If you read Dawn's post at IHO, you'll see this description of Karol and my match:

Our resident heads up specialist busted to Jordan in the first round. She wants me to add that she was ahead all but one time when the chips hit the middle. Jordan wants me to add "waaa."

Well, I don't know what Karol was smoking (but it was good). Regardless, I saw the game slightly differently.

The first hand was a doozie. I wake up with KJo and I believe Karol bet out preflop from the button. I called. The flop was Jack-high and I checked. I think she checked as well. The turn was a blank and I bet out. She called. The river was a blank and I bet out big. She called again. I showed my KJ and she mucked her TT. I can't blame her for the hand, since she was really only worried about me having one of the three Jacks in the deck and all that smack talk makes it such that people want to look you up. But that really set the tone for the game.

I had Karol on the ropes for a while when I finally got her all-in preflop. I help 88 to her K5o. She turned the King and doubled up, shortening my lead from 4000/1000 to 3000/2000, approximately.

I continued my aggressive attack until I saw that Karol was down to less than 1000 with blinds of 50/100. It was then that I chose to make a play, pushing all-in on her 100 blind, hoping she would fold to hold on to her other 700 or 800. She didn't and called with my 78o vs. her Kx, with the x being some card under a 9. I think it may've been K5 again. Whatever the case, poker wins and so does Karol and she was once again within striking distance.

I had opened up a little lead of about 1000 chips (i.e., ~3000 to 2000) when we had the final hand of the game. I had 56 and Karol had AJ. I believe I bet preflop and she called. The flop was 34X. I saw an opportunity and bet. She pushed all-in and I considered the pot odds. I liked what I saw and called. I turned a 5, putting me in the lead with a baby pair and then rivered a 2 for my straight. Lemon for Karol! Lemonaid for me!

I'd like to write about how I then took the tournament by storm, but since the fiction department at HoP is closed for renovation, I'll just give you the straight dope. I played Viet next, and he whooped my ass. I still maintain that HU NLHE requires a decent amount of luck in every match-up (over the long term, skill wins out). Viet seemed to be catching good, but more importantly, I wasn't catching shit and had to fold to Viet's re-raises. I have to give him a lot of credit, too. He played like a champ and when I eventually lost, after barely winning a hand, I simply asked him one favor: to corroborate my story that I let him win to get into the juicy cash game. The good man that he is, Viet complied, not that anyone believed us.

I mulled around outside with Ari for a bit before finally returning indoors for a NLHE cash game already in progress. I sat between Red, aka Everett and his friend. I mostly stayed out of hands, getting a feel for the table. The action was Cracktastic, as is the way with the IHO Crackhouse game. I folded best hands a couple of times to preflop action between two raising players, but overall, I was happy I kept out of the way.

Eventually, the HU tournament was down to the final 4 and the other busted players decided to jump into the cash game. We were too many, so it split into one table after I suggested a NLHE table and a Mixed Game Dealer's Choice table. I, naturally, went with the Mixed Games.

The NLHE players vastly outnumbered the mixed game players, so Dawn, Alceste, KJ and I started our quiet little game at the kiddie table. I had first pick and went with 2-7 Triple Draw, mostly because drawing makes me giggle. Dawn shot dagger eyes at me before announcing that 2-7 Triple Draw is now renamed Give Alceste All of Your Money. I didn't know the rules of this new variation and consequently kept most of my money, while taking a little off of my fellow mixed game donks. After my 2 oribits were done, it was Alceste's turn to pick and he made a dick move by choosing A-5 Triple Draw.

I believe I've gone over this before, but here is a fun primer on the different Triple Draw variations. 2-7 and A-5 denote a lot. In 2-7 Triple Draw, the best possible hand is 23457, aka, duece to seven. It is a lowball game (you are trying to get the worst hand) where straights and flushes count against you. So, 23456 is a terrible hand. Aces are also considered high and only high, so A2346 is also a terrible hand (although don't tell KJ). A-5 Triple Draw is also a lowball game, but the rules are slightly different. The nuts is A2345, aka ace to five. Straights and flushes don't matter. If they did matter, it would be called A-6 Triple Draw (which indicates that the best possible hand is A2346). Aces are low in A-6 Triple Draw. If Aces were not low, the game would be 2-6 Triple Draw.

Confusing? Just remember that the numbers before the words "Triple Draw" denote the nuts. If Ace isn't included, then Ace is high. If the cards are close enough to make a straight (i.e., A-5 or 2-6), then straights and flushes do not matter in the game. There you go. Enjoy!

Before that tangent I was poo-pooing Alceste for choosing a very tiny variation from his usual cash cow. For my dollar, I like to choose a very different game from one mixed game to the next, but since I love drawing, I went with the flow. I think I ended that session about even.

KJ was up next and decided to "invent" a game, NLHE Lowball. You are essentially playing Hold'em with the hope to get the worst possible hand. The biggest problem is that you could all play the board and it was impossible to tell where you were at unless you started off with 23o. As a result, there was very little action and we quickly finished the two orbits and agreed never to speak of it again.

Dawn was up next. She was still pouting about all of the Triple Draws and Made Up Games, so she went with her cash cow, Stud 8. Unfortunately, her cash cow had hoof & mouth disease and succinctly beat her into submission. I did my part, too.

In the first hand, I held JJ/5, with the J's nicely hidden. Dawn had an Ace. We both saw 4th street along with KJ. I hit my Jack and Dawn paired an Ace. With Aces showing, she decided to raise the big bet amount, $2. Time for another explanatory break.

In limit Stud games at stakes of 1/2, the players can only bet $1 during the first two rounds of betting (3rd and 4th street). Thereafter, the bet raises to $2. HOWEVER, if a player pairs their two exposed cards on 4th street, they can opt to raise the big bet amount. We were supposed to be playing 2/4 limit, but due to slip ups, we accidentally played the first hand 1/2. In other words, I could've won twice the pot if one of the four of us paid attention. (NOTE: I have since heard from Chuck, a learned gentlemen, that the big bet can only be made in Stud Hi, so technically, we were wrong to allow Dawn to raise to $2 on the 4th Street. Thanks, Chuck.)

With my set of Jacks perfectly hidden, I called Dawn's bet. It looked nuts, but that was the point. I didn't want anyone to really think that I was acting logically. The turn was a low card for me and I raised Dawn's bet again, saying, "I'm going low, so we are chopping anyway." On 6th street, Dawn slowed down, so I bet out and she called. On the river, I was dealt the case Jack for quads. It checked to me, I bet, Dawn called, and I scooped the pot. Booya!

I can't recall any other amazing hands. However, I continued to chip up during the next four orbits of Stud8 (after Dawn's 2 orbits, the new player, Taiwan, chose Stud8 again. UGH!!). I announced to the table that I was leaving at 7:30pm to get home in time for the Big Game, but didn't leave until 8pm. I was up $97 playing cash games, for a $57 profit on the day after the $40 HU tournament loss.

The subways were slow and I got home at 8:59. I got my computer on at 9:01 and didn't even have the heart to check out the tournament I so narrowly missed.

Overall, it was a great time. Dawn was a gracious host, Karol was a kind competitor (she was nice enough to let me whoop some ass!), and I left with more money than I came with.

Next up, I have Mixed Game Madness at the Wall Street Game on Thursday. I'm once again on a Mixed Game kick, so I couldn't be happier.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:15 PM,


At 12:32 PM, Anonymous Chuck said...

Hey HoP,

I have not read your blog in quite awhile, so I thought I would just be a nit.

First, the really nitty: In your first hand of heads up, your hand goes from AJ to KJ -- not that it really effects the play.

Second, less nitty, rules thing: In Stud8, the betting should not be bumped on fourth street when someone pairs the board. That rule is (generally) only in limit Stud high.

Be good.


At 1:02 PM, Blogger HighOnPoker said...

When you're right, you're right, Chuck. Unfortunately, due to the slumping economy, I had to fire most of my editing staff and hire migrant workers to fill their positions.

The hand was KJ. I originally remembered it as AJ, but when I checked my notes, it was KJ. I changed it in one spot but not the other. Thanks to your comment, I fixed it.

I didn't know about the stud thing, but I'll take your word for it. I guess I eked out another $1 from it. BOOYA! I made a Note at that part of the post to mark my error.

Thanks for the help.

At 3:05 PM, Blogger KJ said...

KJ was up next and decided to "invent" a game, NLHE Lowball. ...and agreed never to speak of it again.

I am working on some details to make this game playable. So, yeah, you will hear from it again. (2009 WSOP???)

Good job with the recap. There are a lot of lessons to be learned in your post. (especially by me)

Excellent post's title!


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