Biggity-Bet Yo'self Before You Wreck Yo'self
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
In my most recent trip to the Wall Street Game, well over a week now, or so it feels, I got into a delicate conversation with some of the other players about soft-playing. Specifically, the person, a regular poker player, was discussing how they like to check down hands with friends when playing in casinos. I was appauled. I come from the school of cut throat poker. Once you sit at the table, I make it my goal, in fact, my sole goal (not to be confused with Soul Glow, picture inset) to take your money. If you are a foe, I want your money. If you are a friend, I want your money. If you are my dying grandmother trying to earn enough money for your medication, I want your money, bitch!
At times, I've come across tables where a couple of obvious friends check down hands. This blows my mind. In my head, I'm screaming collusion. I know that in reality, there is little harm in checking down a hand with a friend once it is heads-up. Or, at least, on first glance there is little effect by such an act. (A latent effect will be discussed in a moment). However, the act just looks suspicious, and whenever I have seen it, I made a mental note to watch certain players extra carefully, and if necessary move tables.
From an outsiders perspective, softplaying a friend suggests that there may be greater collusion taking place. It is highly unlikely, given that pre-planned collusion would likely involve players acting like they did not know each other, as opposed to a very public check down. Still, watching two players flaunt their relationship at the very least lets me know that they are not gunning for each other, something that is highly relevant in certain multi-way pots.
But here is the part I do not understand: What is the benefit of checking it down? The knee jerk answer is that there is less risk AND, ironically, your friends money means less to you than other people's money, since presumably there will be some guilt or other negative association attached to taking your friend's cash. However, by checking it down, players are giving up control of a hand, something that I recently rallied against when I questioned checking in the dark. I have seen on more than one occassion a player check it down with a friend, even though one of them (or both) have monster hands. Why would you let your friend see free cards, potentially taking money out of your pocket? Please, someone answer that. It leaves me baffled.
Your softplay isn't harmless either. The most obvious latent effect is that it can reduce the amount of chips on a table. Case in point, I once saw two guys check it down when one had AA and the other had a pocket pair and hit a set. This blew my mind and infuriated me because had the players been playing poker instead of circle jerk, one of them would have probably busted and either rebought or (preferably) left the table crying as some new jabroni sat down with a fresh stack of chips. Now, granted, the softplayers couldn't give two shits about what I want, but by the same token, I am sitting in a public poker room to play poker, dipshits, not to watch you two chat while sipping your slow gin fizz.
So, please, I beg you, help me understand why people softplay their friends? I know the usual answer is, "I don't want to win my friends money; I want to win everybody else's money." But aside from that self-serving (and self-boobytrapping) argument, what have you got. Give me one logical way that checking it down with a friend is a smart play, in the context of poker. Because at the table, my friend is not my friend; he is my opponent. Afterwards, he can be my friend and I'll pay for dinner (with his money) and gas, but at the table, its pure business.
Until next time, make mine poker!
An Addendum: I tended to flip flop in this post between the terms, "softplay" and "checking it down." There is a significant difference, so for the sake of argument, let's assume within the context of this post, all references refer to the check-down issue.
Lessons Learned (AC Trip Report)
Monday, October 27, 2008
So, in my last trip report, RiverRun mentioned that I had a blogging tell and he could guess from the first line whether or not I had won. Well, now the rest of you can figure it out by the third line of the post. -$205. Great. Let's get to it, then, big boppers.
The plan was like all of Dave Roose and my AC plans. We'd meet, this time down by my apartment where he worked, complain during NYC rush hour traffic, tell a cop to fuck off for refusing us entry into the Holland Tunnel merely because we were in the wrong lane and changed to the right lane in the last minute, ate some god aweful fast food, and eventually arrived in AC, giddy for some poker.
We were staying in the Showboat, the official Atlantic City casino-hotel of High on Poker. Once we entered, though, something seemed amiss. The parking lot was not full, we were placed in the newly renovated tower, and the casino was not swamped with hordes of unwashed masses. I turned to Roose as we headed to our room, I asked Roose if he noticed what I noticed. I surmised, "I know its the end of the summer season, but did you expect this much of a dropoff?" Roose responded, "Dude, the economy is in the shitter." And so it was, and so, AC seemed empty.
After getting settled in, we made our way to the poker room. It was about 10pm or so, and we asked about the 11pm tournament. Sadly, it is now extinct, having been removed from Showboat's schedule probably 6 months or more ago. Still, Roose and I had our dreams, even if they were summarily dashed.
"Put me on the list for 1/2, the interest list for 1/2 PLO, and the 2/5 NLHE list." I decided to get on every list except for the 2/4 limit, mostly because I wanted to play badly, but not that badly. 2/4 limit hold'em is the second ring of hell. I'll play limit poker, but unless the goal is to get shitfaced drunk, 2/4 limit is just too low.
Of course, Roose suggested we play 2/4 limit just for drinks, and I considered the possibility, but I was a man on a mission. So, we bullshitted around until two new tables opened up and we were called for a new table. Oddly, though, as we were looking for our new table, we stumbled upon an ongoing table seeking two players and we were forced into that game. Between you and me, dear readers, I'd rather play at a new table, since everyone starts on equal footing. However, there was a decent amount of money on the table at the ongoing game, and I didn't have much choice anyway, so I settled in to the 10s as Roose took the 1s.
There are posts when I shower you with my golden play, what I like to call my golden shower posts. But this is not one of those posts. This is a post when I splatter you with my shitty play, and hence, we can call this a scat post, for those so inclined.
My first 'error' may not have been an error at all. I would love to hear what you all have to say, since this one cost me a lot of frijoles.
I was on the button with T4c. I hadn't been in many hands, although I probably was there for about 1 or 2 orbits. I was starting to get a feel for the table, but there was really only one guy worth noting, a Puerto Rican guy in the 6s or 7s who was clearly high on something not poker. He was twitchy, couldn't stop prattling on, and was playing like a man trying to lose his money. There were a few limpers and he pushed all-in. At this point, he was a fairly short stack and was playing any two cards. I want to say that he bet $12 or something similar. Whatever the case, when it got to me, he had a caller or two already and I had position. I knew he was soft as ice cream, so I called with my crap cards.
The flop came down 678 with two clubs. That meant I had a double-bellybuster straight draw and a flush draw. That's a decent amount of outs, but I checked, expecting the Puerto Rican to shake things up. When it checked to him, he pushed all-in for 26$ or so. I called, since the pot odds were great, given the preflop callers, and I had tons of outs. I could have pushed and isolated, but I thought I could win a nice pot if I hit, but was sure to lose if I did not. A player in the 3s or 4s called as well. He was a very serious kid, probably in his early 20s, wearing a New York hat and sweatshirt, with a gay, scruffy goatee. I had watched him and he was playing fairly tight for the table.
The turn came down with a 5, giving me the weak end of the straight. Any player with a 9 would be ahead of me. The kid pushed all-in for $221 more. I thought for a while. In the end, I called. The river was dealt, I missed my flush and I announced my straight. "How high?" the kid asked. I showed and announced, 8 high. He tabled his ace and his 9. "Nice hand," I responded, before adding, "but you didn't have to slow roll me." It had gotten under my skin, but I tried to keep my cool. I questioned whether it was my error in the hand. I suppose it must be. Once he pushed, I tried to consider my crap straight. I figured that I had a redraw to the flush if he did, in fact, have a better straight. I also thought he may've hit two pair (on the flop or turn) and I could have still been ahead. I even considered the possibility that this kid was trying to isolate against a terrible player who was already all-in. His push led me to believe that he didn't have a monster, otherwise he would raise less. Ironically, after the slowroll comment he said, "I pushed all-in. What did you think I had?" I didn't respond, even though I thought, "Mother fucker!" Still, his statement told me one thing: it was his M.O. to push all-in with monster hands. Not that I ever got into another hand with the douscherocket.
I rebought another $200, getting my stack up to $250 so I could play some reasonable poker.
Now, if that last hand was bad, this one is TERRIBLE. I have no excuse for this hand, especially since I ignored Jordan's Number One Rule of Poker, "If you know you are behind, fold." Allow me to explain.
I hadn't been getting great cards, so when I saw AQd in the BB, I raised it up, getting two callers. The flop was a harmless 8-high, so I bet out and got one caller, a mid-20s mole-ish looking guy, two seats to my right, who I had tagged as a general idiot. He knew the basics of the game, but had very little nuance and gave off a definite vibe when he didn't have cards (he seemed prone to selective bluffing).
The turn comes, bringing me a Queen and I think, Joy of joys, my flop bluff just lucked me into a nice hand. So, I bet out again. Preflop, I had raised to $12 and on the flop, I bet $25, so I decided to keep the bet low with a $30 bet. I figured that my hand just hit in an unexpected way, so I wanted to keep my opponent in the hand. He called. The river was a blank. I bet $45. He thought for a while and raised $55 on top. And I foolishly called. He showed 88.
Here's the problem. The entire hand after the flop, my Spidey Sense was tingling like mad. Something about his behavior seemed off. He was suddenly calling down instead of raising. He didn't have the guarded look I saw him take on in other hands when he did not have the goods. I felt in my very toes that this fucker had flopped a set, but I kept blindly betting into him. And when he re-raised on the river, I justified the call thinking that there was a lot of money in the pot. That's just plain stupid. At the very least, I should have folded the river raise. The writing was on the motherfucking wall. But sometimes, our brains and hearts tell us fold and our hands and mouth move to call. And that's how I lost another $100+.
I kept my cool throughout, reminding myself that these were my errors and I could at the very least learn from them. I was down $350+ at my low point, but thereafter, got my play in check and started to inch my way back to a reasonable stack.
Now, when I first sat down, the guy on my immediate right was one of those guys who like to talk poker at the table. He was also one of those guys who clearly knew jack shit, because he was giving up all sorts of information describing past hands he'd played and what he thought of the rest of the table. He eventually ended up on a shortstack and pushed in a couple of hands preflop. He showed his cards at least once and the hands were less than spectacular, even though he was able to win by the river or via a fold when he pushed. I had finally got AKd, though, when he decided to open-push for $48. I figured I was good for a cointoss, if not in better shape, so I called and everyone else folded. He showed JT, and flopped JT. I turned a King, but it wasn't enough to beat 2 pair, losing me another $49.
By then, though, I had inched my way back to about $350 in chips (down $250). I continued along this way, winning chips in small increments until I was down only $105. It was about 2am and Roose and I planned to play the 11am tourney. We were also both starving, so we racked up and left. By then, the table complexion changed a lot. The drunken Puerto Rican was gone for a long time. The kid with the scruffy goatee was gone for a while. The newer players were having fun, as were we. It was a very fun, friendly vibe and I was getting great reads on my opponents, especially Mole Man, who had lost a lot of his big stack in multiple hands against me. I must've looked like I was kicking ass, with $500 in front of me, seemingly accumulated effortlessly, but anyone there long enough knew the true story.
Roose and I decided to head upstairs, where we got room service and eventually passed out.
Before we leave Friday, I would like to mention one decent hand, albeit in brief. I held QQ and raised preflop, getting two callers, Roose and one other tool. The flop was K99 and I bet out. Roose called, as did the other guy. The turn was a blank and I checked. Roose bet out. The other guy folded. I thought for a moment and folded. I know Roose and he had to have a King or a Nine. Later, he admitted that he had AK. So, at least on one occassion, I was able to fold when I knew I was behind. I guess that's something.
The next day, I woke up a good 30 minutes before our alarm clock and decided to break tradition by actually showering. When Roose and I go to AC, we practically make it a point of pride to be degenerates. That means that showering is not only optional, but frankly frowned upon. In fact, since it was merely an over night trip, Roose took exception to the fact that I brought a change of clothing beyond a clean pair of boxers and socks.
We headed downstairs to Canal Street, the only take-out/fast-food-like eating option at the Showboat. Roose got an egg sandwich, whereas I avoided anything hot from the terrible eatery by opting for a bagel. Roose's egg looked like a yellow hockey puck and from the look on his face, tasted even worse. My bagel was decent, but the food sitting in my stomach from 2am room service kept me from eating any more than a half.
We got to the poker room and signed up for the tourney. I took my seat and absent-mindedly read one of the random free poker magazines. I should probably hold up a mirror before I say this, but what the hell...poker media is pure garbage. Every time I read one of these mags, I think that it's the same fucking articles every time. The reality is, there is only so many ways to write up tournament results or whatnot, but some of these "writers" are obvious hacks who wrote their article in a span of 15 minutes while taking a shit.
Once the tournament began, I began accumulating information on my table mates. I don't remember details, other than a Phil Hellmuth Junior sitting across from me, with big headphones and sunglasses. I thought he looked like a tool, and then I considered that I was wearing a Superman t-shirt, iPod, sunglasses, etc. I probably looked just as toolish, but whereas I was going to the clueless man-boy, he was going for the know-everything hotshot. The rest of my table was friendly, and after a while, we had a going joke. Every all-in resulted in a suckout. This happened a half-dozen times until I had my turn.
I had chipped my way up nicely to about 15,000, up from 10,000, mostly through well-timed plays. I was focusing on position and reading players, and it had been paying off. My biggest early pot came from a hand in which I had KK. I hadn't gotten many good cards, so I knew I had to make them count.
The blinds were already 200/400 (starts at 50/100). I had been betting 3x the BB as my standard openning raise. I was probably up to 12000 or so, thanks to some steals. But now, with my first premium hand, I was faced with the tricky proposition of narrowing the field of opponents without scaring off all of the players. I decided to stick with my standard raise of 1200. However, Phil Jr. was in the SB and was staring me down. I already had a basic read on him based on his appearance (first), then his body language, and finally, what I had seen over the last two levels. A player like Phil Jr. is clearly paying attention, so I tried to throw down some reverse tells. I threw the $1200 onto the table in an atypical fashion for me, forecful as though I were making a point to convey strength. Based on my read, Phil Jr. had at least a rudimentary understanding of reading players, and I hoped he would take the bait, thinking my uncharacteristic show of strength was a bullshit attempt to steal the blinds. It helped that I had established myself as a player who stole blinds and didn't normally act so forceful when he bet. I wanted to appear like I was acting out of character.
Sure enough, Phil is the only caller and we see a King-high flop with two spades. Boom! Top set, not like I needed it. I considered betting, but I could almost guarantee he didn't have a King, in which case he is folding unless he hit an unprobable two-pair or under-set. In either case, if I check it, he bets. If Phil Jr. had shit, he would probably bet no matter what. He had just suffered a bad beat, losing with AT against a shorty's all-in preflop push with A5, so Phil Jr.'s stack was only about 5000-6000 at the beginning of the hand, and I figured he couldn't resist the juiced pot. I checked. He bet 2k. I thought for a moment and looked at the board as though I couldn't believe that he hit his King. I exasperatingly asked how much he had left. It was about 2200 more. I finally pushed all-in, acting as though I didn't want to, but felt priced in. He folded.
On one hand, I could've flat called the flop, but I figured with pot-odds, I want him all-in immediately, and if he has any possible draw, he may feel obliged to call. If I flat call and a scare card comes out or he misses his draw on the turn, it's very likely he goes into check-fold mode. Alas, he probably had jackshit.
From there, I was up to 16,000 to 18,000 or so. And that would be my peak. It wasn't my fault though. No sir.
I get AA in LP and decide to raise my usual 3x the BB. I think blinds were up to 300/600. A shortstack had already limped, so I expected to get his money. To my surprise, the guy on my immediate left pushed all-in after me, and when it folded to me, I happily called, showing my AA. He showed AQs. When the flop came down, I announced, "There are two of your spades." When the river came down, I announced, "And there is the other one." I wasn't per se upset with the situation. Hardly. If anything, I was thankful that I had chipped up enough. After this, I was down to 10k or maybe slightly less.
And I even joked about it. We were all joking and it was a fun time. In one hand, I stupidly raised the minimum to 800 (200/400 round) with 25h, UTG. I felt like switching things up. I got a few callers and stupidly bet the 44Q flop. I only got one caller, the BB. We checked the turn. I bet the river. He called. I looked foolish.
But while we were joking about all of the suckouts after the AA v. AQ confrontation, someone mentioned my 25h in jest. I jumped at the opportunity, announcing, "It wasn't my fault this guy doesn't know how to fold" pointing to the guy on my right. A guy two seats to my left chimed in, "And I had the 4 too, but I had to fold to your bet." So, I added, "See? If this guy knew well enough to raise preflop, I wouldn't have even gotten into that situation. So you both screwed up. Am I the only person here who knows how to play poker?" The dealer chuckled as did the other players. If you can't win, you may as well be having fun while you lose.
So, down to under 10k, I struggled to get anything going. I was card dead and just folded for three or so orbits until I found that my stack was 7200 and the blinds were 400/800. I had just paid my blinds when the table broke.
At my new table, there were a variety of shortstacks and medium stacks. I was moved 2 seats from the BB, so I knew I had to make some magic happen. I folded my first two hands and then was in the BB, 6400 behind and 800 in as my BB. It folded to the SB and after he called (with a similar chip stack to me), I pushed all-in. He had to fold, bringing me up to 8k. The very next hand, when it folded to me in the SB, I tried again with J8o. The BB called, showed QQ, flopped a set, and rivered Quads. The worse part is that the guy was the same guy who avoided busting out when his AQs beat my AA. So, if I win that hand, this guy is gone and can't bust me.
Wah wah wah! The truth was, I was pleased with my play. I lost due to bad luck. The 25h hand was a debacle, but aside from that, I was choosing my spots and playing well. The last push wasn't the best, but I think it justifiable, if not optimal.
After I busted, I met up with Roose, who was playing 1/2. He had busted from the tourney before me and was still pissed as some Crazian player from his tournament.
Seeing me, he was more than happy to pack up his chips. We headed to the cage where he cashed out, and then made our way to the White House Sub Shop for our traditional Leaving AC Italian Heroes. For the first time ever, we didn't have to wait in line. Yeah for the crappy economy! We ate in the car and returned home.
It wasn't the most successful trip, but I made a decent recovery from -$350 the first night to -$105. The tournament was a loss due to luck moreso than anything. Losing money sucks, but it doesn't mean anything in the long term.
The odd thing is that Roose and I didn't even really play that much. I think after losing the tournament, we both felt that any more poker would be loss-chasing poker, aka losing poker. I suppose some self-control should be celebrated.
This weekend, I am heading upstate to Syracuse to hang with some of wifey Kim's friends. Man, wifey Kim is the best. I really don't say that enough here. Whatever the case, these are the same people who attended the Anti-Semitic Wedding and Anti-Semitic Monopoly game, minus the antisemites. I expected a weekend doing whatever wifey Kim and her friends wanted to do, so imagine my surprise when she asked me, "Do you want to play a tournament this weekend?" I was like, "Huh?" until she explained that while she and her friends were hanging out Saturday, her friend's boyfriend and I would be heading to Turning Stone Casino for a $90 Tournament. SHWEET!
Poker, poker everywhere.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Via Dawn Summer's Claireified:
Make no mistake, my friends, this isn’t an election between big government candidates and small government candidates. It’s the different between big government candidates for the poor and middle class or big government candidates for the rich and big business.
Until next time, make mine poker!
...is Like Poker
Friday, October 24, 2008
I was listening to Howard Stern recently when sidekick Artie Lange likened choosing a movie (as an actor) to poker. The line, if I remember correctly, was (paraphrased): "Choosing what movie to do is like poker. At some point, you just have to go all-in and hope for the best."
Wrong, Artie. Wrong! Poker is not about going all-in and hoping for the best. It's about going all-in when you know you are the best or going all-in when you think you can get your opponent to fold. It is not about pushing money into the middle and then crossing your fingers for good luck.
That got me thinking. People love throwing around analogies, and poker is a good reference for a lot of life's trials and tribulations. Even so, the non-poker players seem to have a bass ackwards view of poker. For you, my adoring public, I have searched the Interwebs and have found these bastardized views of poker analogies:
Here's a fun one: "sEx Is LiKe pOkEr.......iT's fUn wHeN u pLaY aLl nItE" First off, whoeever wrote that shit needs to get their shift-lock key fixed. And night is spelled night, not nite. Second, poker is most certainly not like sex, at least not in the way suggested. Case in point. One time, I had sex all night. It was fun. One time, I played poker all night. I lost 1/2 of my bankroll. That is not fun. Everyone knows that sex is not like poker. It's like pizza. Even when pizza is bad, it's good. Unfortunately, when poker is bad, it's just bad...most of the time. Also, I never got herpes from poker.
Here's one that fits squarely in the land of overgeneralization: Life is like poker! Nothing is the way it seems. Sorry, Wooka Kim, but some things in life are what they seem. For instance, the beautiful woman with the large hands and the Adam's apple hanging out at the 33rd St and Lexington Ave McDonald's at 4:30 am is exactly what she seems, a tranny hooker. So, there you go. The tranny hooker is something, thereby destroying your absolutist terms. You've been served! Tranny style!
Here's a legal one that's pure BS: Pleading (to a crime) is like poker with the only persons showing their cards a few at a time being the police or DA. Um...no. Not even remotely. First off, at what game does your opponent show you cards a few at a time? I think this jabroni is thinking about the flop, turn and river, but that's from the disinterested dealer, whereas the DA/police are more akin to your opponent. Now, if this dingleberry wrote, "Pleading is like poker because you must make a decision with imperfect information that may end up in anal rape," I would've allowed it. But this showing cards thing? Pure BS.
In my short amount of research, I found literally dozens of "Life is like poker..." analogies, but leave it to real poker media to fuck this one up: "Life is like poker. It’s a numbers game. Play your numbers and someday your ship will come in." Where to start. I suppose that the author is referring to the fact that if you play enough tournaments, eventually you will win one. Not so in life. Just check out Woffles. Sure, in poker he has won something here or there, satisfying the poker part of that analogy. But in life? Dude can wait forever and I doubt his ship will come in, unless by "ship" the author meant "pine box" or perhaps "new WoW armor". Sorry, Bluff, but you are a tad off on this one.
Poker as an anaology is fine and dandy. There is a lot to work off of, from the idea of incomplete information, tough decisions, chance playing an element even in the face of skill, etc. But jebus, people, when we allow these douschebags to compare anything to poker, well, you see what bullshit it produces.
This post is a lot like poker, after all. It's on the computer but would be a lot more fun if it were in person. Also, this post is like poker because it has the letters "p" and "o" in it. Also, this post is like poker because by now, you have figured out that this will not end well yet you still can't get yourself to fold.
Until next time, make mine like poker!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
For every post you see, there are three or four sitting, half-finished, never to see the light of day. Consider it my gift to you all, because most of it is pure crapola. A while ago, I made it a point of pride to post daily. Now, I make it a point of pride to not post daily. It isn't that I don't want to give you the content you oh so crave; rather, I am just not willing to give you the crap that has been spewing forth from me lately.
I'm back in the throws of poker, once again fucking around in the world of online play. My latest love has been the Matrix SNGs, especially after I found my sea legs and figured out the key to winning. Of course, shortly after that revelation, I decided, in an intoxicated state, no less, to play a $33 Matrix SNG, and completely whiffed for $0, my first time losing a Matrix SNG without any payoff. But lest I just leave my knowledge hidden from the world, I will share this brief insight into Matrix SNGs:
For the uninitiated, Matrix SNGs are essentially a one-fee buy-in to four simultaneous single table tournaments, each with the same players. You get some money back for placing ITM in the individual tournaments, and an additional payout if you get the most Matrix Points. Matrix points are awarded for outlasting players in the tournaments (1 pt), busting players (2 pts), or winning the tournament outright (2 pts).
At first, I didn't fully understand why these tournaments would be worthwhile. It seemed to me that the max you could win was actually fairly small. In a best case scenario, you sweep the tournaments and get a nice payout, but all the more likely, you money in two or so and get a piece of the Matrix money. Hence, I realized that the proper strategy was probably to be uber aggressive in the early stages. If you can knock out a few players, you will automatically jump to the top of the Matrix Points board, and once there, solid play can lock up a Matrix payout while usually securing one or two payouts for placing int hte money in the individual SNGs.
With this knowledge, I decided that there was no way I could lose the $33 Matrix SNG outright. Surely, I would place 2nd in at least one of the tourneys, netting myself half of my buy-in back. But, naturally, I proved myself wrong, shaming myself and my family.
Of course, it didn't hurt that I won $145 earlier in the evening playing .50/1 NLHE heads-up.
The beast of poker is once again sitting on my chest, crushing the flow of air. So, I decided to get it off of me by waging battle with the beast at our usual dueling grounds, Atlantic City. Roose and I are heading down for an overnight trip this Friday. It'll probably consist of late night poker on Friday, followed by an early Showboat tournament on Saturday. We'll probably head back to NYC Saturday afternoon, so it'll be a relatively quick trip, but one I am excited for.
I also volunteered to help out a blogger who is throwing a big time fund raising event in New York City for a charity. I don't want to give his name or details, since he has not outted it on his blog, but the net result is that I may be acting as a dealer in a charity tournament where big name pros will be playing. I am not a star fucker, mostly because of an altercation I had with professional wrestler Raven years ago on Spring Break in Cancun. He told me he would call after our night together. Boo hoo hoo! Or, actually, I saw him with some other wrestler on line for a club and I mentioned that I was a fan. He pointed to the other guy, a lower card guy with the name of Hugh Morris (I kid you not) and said, "Really?? Are you a fan of Hugh Morris?" in a confrontational tone. I replied, "Yeah," and he just gave me a Fuck Off look. Cocksucker. Of course, there was one occassion before that that stuck with me also. I was with my extended family in Puerto Rico, walking along a strip of stores, when we saw NBA stars Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning. They were with one other tall black guy. While the rest of my party were sucking Ewing's ass (we are from NY, yo), my sports-obsessed cousin asked the unknown tall black guy if he played basketball and got a rude response. As we walked away, my cousin said, "That other guy was an asshole, and he was a nobody." I thought to myself, shit, I don't play for the NBA....does that make me a nobody? So, I started a blog. Er, or I realized that being famous is not necessary to be considered "someone." Also, famous people have an equal or higher incidence of assholery than the common folk, so I'd rather they remain unscathed in my head, instead of meeting them and being disappointed. It's why I avoided Woffles at last year's December poker blogger trip.
Now, all that said, there is something about the big name poker pros that really intrigues me, so playing the role of dealer is really exciting to me. I don't expect to learn much from their play, given that it is a charity event, and I don't expect much conversation with the pros, but even to be in their presence will be a humbling experience.
So, Friday is AC poker. November I'll be dealing to pros. And in December? AC and Vegas. Life is good.
Until next time, make mine poker!
A Public Service Announcement to All Poker Bloggers
Friday, October 17, 2008
Look, I don't want to talk out of turn here, but if someone by the name of Good Girl (with some extra O's in the word Good), leaves you a comment, I highly recommend that you erase it. Good Girl is just using the comment as a backdoor way to get our readers to her (likely actually "his") affiliate link.
So, she isn't a Good Girl at all. More of a Bad Girl, really. And while Bad Girls are often good to have around, this one is the type of Bad Girl who gives you the clap, and I'm not talking about a standing ovation.
Bullshit Linkage Police
RakeBrain.com threw a $1000 freeroll limited to four tables full of bloggers, and I was lucky enough to be one of the select few. The game started at 7pm EST, considerably earlier than I usually play, but I love free money, so after getting home and settling in, I finally fired up the computer at about 7:05 and got started amassing a massive stack.
An interesting thing happened during the game. Within no time, I had doubled up. I then continued to accumulate chips like it was nobody's business. Most of the hands saw me against an all-in player. I also had my fair share of suckouts. However, the large stack I had accumulated early allowed me to play more speculative hands and in most instances, the all-in calls were easily less than a half (and probably aside from two occassions out of 6 or so, less than 1/3) of my stack.
So, by the final table, I had been chip leader for a while. I was finally at a table with LeTune from RakeBrain, who had a $100 bounty on him. I wanted that bounty and had been jokingly complaining about LeTune being placed at other tables for the majority of the tournament. Once we were at the final table, I announced, LeTune, I've been busting players like mad trying to get at you. And, well, I did. Here is the hand.
With over 10k in chips, I was the big stack, with Mookie and LJ nipping at my heels. I was playing very LAGgy until I got to the final table, at which point I had slowed down a tad. Now, this is all from memory and the screen capture, so I apologize if I get something generally wrong. My thought-process, however, is completely accurate.
StatikKing limped and I decided to call with KQo. Or, perhaps he bet small or I bet small, because to my joy, LeTune, sitting in the CO, pushed all-in for 1860. Since this was a pot-limit game, he couldn't have pushed without Statik or I preflop raising, so this is where the hand is a tad fuzzy. Regardless, after LeTune's push, it folded around to StatikKing, who called. I knew before Statik acted that I wanted to push all-in to isolate. I figured that as the big stack, Statik would be hard pressed to call unless he limped with a monster, something I found doubtful. Even if he called, though, I might have two overs and I'd take the chance that I could bust him on a cointoss. More importantly, I didn't want Statik to take out LeTune. I'd rather double up LeTune with my bigstack (and survive with chips to spare) then flat call, check it down, and let Statik take the $100 bounty. So, I pushed, knowing full well that I was most likely not ahead. I just didn't expect to see LeTune's AA.
Well, a flopped Q and a turned Q put me ahead and won me $100. It may be a donkey play to call an AA's all-in with KQo, but that's just the end of the story. It's the build-up that is important.
Sadly, by the time we were on the bubble, all of our stacks were fairly even and I had taken a slight dip. I eventually lost on the bubble against LJ, who won the event. I think I may've been somewhat complacent, since I knew I had $100 locked up, but then again, I still don't mind my play.
In an Omaha Hi round, I held AAXX and raised preflop. LJ and one other player called. The flop was King-high with two low cards and two spades. It checked to me and I bet pot. LJ pushed all-in and when it folded to me, I took my time, actually requesting Time. I couldn't imagine why LJ would push in this scenario. The only thing I really feared was KK for a flopped top set. More likely, though, my spider sense was telling me she was on the flush draw. She had me covered and I wasn't sure if I wanted to take the chance that she would draw out on me, but I ultimately called for my last 5k or so. Why? I guess it was because I had $100 locked up and I wanted a chance to amass a stack that would help me take first. Instead, she showes her naked flush draw (she may've had top pair, too, but I was ahead when I called), turned her flush, and earned herself a stack that she used to take down the tourney.
Bubbling kinda sucked, but $100 free money made it a little better.
Thanks to RakeBrain for this promotion. Thanks to LeTune for letting me crack his Aces. Thanks for everyone else who played for making it a fun game.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Jordan Loses Money Part 2
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Ah, shit. Let's just get this beyotch over with.
I went to the Wall Street Game last night at about 9pm to play in the .50/1 NLHE cash game that followed the $2k WSOP super satellite tournament. I chose to skip the satellite because I cannot garauntee that I can make a $2k event, but I love me some pokah, so when I found out there was a seat open for the cash game, I jumped at it.
I've said it before and it's becoming more and more of a mantra for me: Losing begets losing. It's the flipsize of the much sunnier mantra, Winning begets winning, but after my $200 loss for charity, the Losing mantra was more present.
As we sat down, there were a few overlapping players from the charity game. Paul in the Hamily was there, as was Wendy. I asked if I were the big loser of the charity game and found out that Darko found a way to lose more than me. That guy can't let me win anything. I talked about the game and about my inability to reign in my speculative play. Part of me felt that I was giving up too much information to the table, for a reason that actually is sub-part A to the Losing mantra. It reads.
- Losing Mantra; "Losing Begets Losing"
- Sub Part-A; Discussing losses encourages other players to play back at you more, thereby creating further losses.
- Winning Mantra; "Winning Begets Winning"
- Sub Part-A; Winning often causes one's opponents to think that the winner is "lucky". "Lucky" players are perceived by the average player as more dangerous than skilled players, and therefore, when perceived as "lucky" players will be more inclined to believe your bets and fold to you accordingly...resulting in more wins.
The first buy-in was lost within the first few orbits. I had decided to use my perceived loser status to my advantage by playing tight. Since I expected more players to play back at me, I figured I could utilize the Losing Mantra, Sub Part-A to my advantage.
So, with AA, I raised to $5 nonchalantly from UTG. I expected at least one caller and got two, Michael, who incidentally was also at the charity game, and a player who would become insignificant by showdown.
The flop was Q and two low cards, with two hearts. I think I bet out $8, trying to keep my opponents in the hand. I figured that my hand was still ahead at the time and I wanted to build a pot. Let me add that in cash games, the goal is to maximize big hands, whereas in tournaments, the goal is usually to protect big hands, so in a tournament, I'd bet significantly higher.
I think both players called and we saw the turn, Ace of hearts. The good news was that I had top set; the bad news is that the Ace of hearts completed a flush draw. I think I checked, hoping to look weak. Michael bet $10 and when it folded to me, I raised to $30. He pushed all-in and I thought it out for a bit. There was a chance he hit his flush, but I also thought that AQ or QQ were possibilities. I mulled it over for a minute or so and ultimately decided to call, knowing full well that I had redraws to a full house if necessary. Frankly, though, I didn't think I would need it. Yeah. I was wrong. He had 67h or something similar for a flush, and I missed the river.
The table seemed pretty rocked by it, but I just took it in stride. In fact, I found everyone's sympathy to be more annoying than the loss. Several hands later, Wendy out of nowhere brought up the hand again, in a friendly manner, by saying, "That AA hand was a cooler." Frankly, I disagree. I could've gotten away from it. But, even worse, I had thought I had put the fucking hand behind me, so when she brought it up again, I found myself fairly aggitated.
Ironically, the truth probably was that on some subconscious level, the table was picking up on my frustration. After all, I had talked about my losses from the night before just minutes before that hand. Everyone was being kind, and while I thought I was putting on a, "That's Poker!" attitude, I probably was also sending out some, "Fuckin' A" vibes, even if I was only vocalizing the former.
It was a good while later when I lost my second buy-in. Since the AA hand, I had loosened up, one of the central reasons for the Losing Mantra. I wasn't getting involved in too many pots post-flop because I couldn't hit shit, but I called more than my share of preflop raises with speculative crap. Finally, I was dealt KK UTG or UTG+1 and decided to really fuck myself.
I limped. Yep. Limped. I figured that there was a lot of raising at the table, so I'd be better off check-raising out of position to build a big pot against one player. The logic was fairly sound, given the frequency of preflop raises and the fact that players were calling preflop raises and usually folding to re-raises. But...well, I should've raised, plain and simple...because about 8 players saw the flop for cheap.
And it was all low cards this time, with two diamonds. I believe it may've been 456. I can't remember the full sequencing of the action, but either I may've checked. Alceste bet out $10, or so, got called by a few players, and then I raised to $30, leaving myself only $30 or so behind. Or, maybe it was that I bet out and got a lot of callers and then check-raised the turn. I can't really remember much other than getting all-in with Alceste. When he showed his 78o, for the flopped straight, I knew that I had fucked myself on this one. In fact, I announced it to the table along with my hand, which had already hit the muck, stood up and said my farewells.
Boo hoo hoo. Jordan lost at poker.
Fuck it, I say. Losing is part of the game, and while it may burn at times, I just did my best to see past it. Losses happen. I'm stil up for the year, albeit a fraction of my goal, and I'm still well up over my lifetime. If I can't take losing a couple of hundo on back to back nights, I should play lower stakes or not at all.
Losing begets losing. I think that much is true. But it is not an absolute. My goal, now, is to turn it around. To win.
Next weekend, I'll be heading to AC Friday night with Dave Roose. My last trip to AC was a rousing success, so I hope that I can use that win to beget more wins.
Anyone else have any general sayings or thoughts they'd like to throw around about the phenomenom of losing begetting losing and winning begetting winning? I'm not the only one who has suffered this phenomoenom, so don't be shy.
Until next time, make mine poker!
But What About the Children?!?!?!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Last night, I made my way over to Brooklyn (thankfully, just one subway stop into Brooklyn) to play some 1/2 NLHE for charity. The game was arranged by Pervy Pauly of the Wall Street Game, also known as Ham Hands Pauly (or Paul-in-the-Hamily), due to Pauly's ability to hide his hole cards beneath his behemoth-sized hands.
The game in and of itself was fun, helped in large part by the easy-going group, a mix of Wall Street regulars like Darko and Wendy, familiar faces like Bacini Mary, and a couple of other people I had played poker with in the past at the WSG.
The game had a half-hour time charge of $5. For those uninitiated, a time charge takes the place of rake in a lot of underground rooms and in some of the legal poker rooms around the country. Instead of taking money from each pot, every thirty or sixty minutes the players pay time to the house. The obvious problem, from a player's standpoint, is that, as with any rake, your win rate has to exceed the rake to make a profit. It's just another hurdle to jump. Normally, in a home game, I would refuse rake unless I'm getting a lot for my money (free food and drink). For Pauly and charity, though, it was an absolute pleasure.
Still, I could've gone without losing my $200 buy-in.
The game started out well enough. I was able to take down some considerable pots early without a showdown. I did, however, talk myself out of a good pot when I started jabbering away to Michael when we were heads-up in a hand. I held AA and wanted some action, so when I bet big on the 234, two diamond flop and he hesitated, I thought I could possibly talk him into calling. As soon as I started, though, I could see that he gave up. I made the stupid error of letting him ask me a question: Do you have a pair? I could've lied, but as I've said here before, most people have a natural inclination to answer truthfully when faced with a direct question. So, I admitted that I had a pair, hoping to look like I was bullshitting. I don't know if he saw through it or if the bet was just too much for him to call with A4 (the hand he claimed to have), but when he folded, I basically dodged other questions, while implying that I had 77.
Still, I was up probably $100 or so after a while. Sadly, it wasn't meant to be. In one hand, I faced Dave, a player who I thought was reserved, but turned out to be rather looser than I first expected. In the particular hand, I called a raise from him with 9Td preflop. By then, I had seen him make plays with crap cards and I figured if he did have a hand, a drawing hand like 9Td could be very profitable if it hit. The flop came down Ten high and I decieded to call his bet. The turn was a blank, but I chose to just call his bet again. I wasn't sure if he had a higher pocket pair or if he had jack squat, and I figured that as long as he was making the bets, I didn't have to. He checked the Ace river, so I checked as well. He showed A2d and announced, "I sucked out on you." I mucked and said, "Yes you did. Nice hand."
For what its worth, I kept my frustration to myself. Truth be told, it wasn't that bad, and it was a friendly group, so I could make my snarky comments to ease the burn a bit. My favorite of the night was when David quipped after playing bad cards, "It's not me playing, it's the Scotch." I chimed in, "Then quit drinking, because the Scotch is much better at poker than you are." Laughs all around, which is always my goal. I joke about the tension to defuse it.
Admittedly, one of my bigger problems was playing speculative hands to raises, particularly after I was sporting a nice stack. I eventually gave most of my profit away on bluffs and bad calls, eventually down to about $100, when I doubled up against Max, a guy on my immediate right who was having a hard trouble gaining traction at the table. The hand played itself. I held KQh, called his preflop raise with a few other players, flopped top two, and let him bet into me until he was committed to call my river all-in, where I hit another King for the nut full house. He called and showed KJs, and I was back to healthy.
That is, I was back to even for a bit, but I once again continued my shitty calls and ill-timed bluffs, one against Darko when he turned three Aces along with his King kicker. No chance I was betting him out of the pot. Nice pot, Darko.
My final hand, though, was a doozy. I had 109$ left and Dave raised from early position to $12. I had seen him raising with speculative hands, so I wanted to try my first preflop re-raise. Max called the $12 raise and when the action got to me, I looked down to see 2h7d, the Hammer. I figured now was as good as ever and raised to $34, basically leaving myself three green $25 chips behind. I planned on pushing the flop if all went well. Dave called, Max folded and we saw an all heart flop, T74. When Dave checked, I decided to make my play, pushing all-in. To my amazement, he called and we agreed to table our hands. I showed the hammer, he showed KK. Lemon! At least he didn't have a heart, so my heart flush draw was still good. Two cards later, though, and all was lost. The pot was pushed his way and I tucked my tail between my legs and left.
It was probably not even 10pm at that point, but once again I felt that urge to leave the poker. I don't want to call it boredom. It isn't boredom. It's something else. I think largely, it was the feeling that my image was shot, the game was going to be called at 11, and I didn't think I had it in me to win back enough of my stack within the time limit. Losing begets losing, and I've tried my best lately to walk away when I am down, lest I make matters worse.
I paid an extra $10 to the charity for the hour I would miss. It was the least I could do for the host and the dedicated dealer, who was actually the inspiration behind the charity game. For the record, the charity was Juvenile Diabetes, and the dealer was not a juvenile, just someone who had become active in the charity. Next week, I hope we can have a game for Adult Diabetes and we can play poker against a bunch of kids. At least I'll have a chance of winning...if not in poker, than in a fist fight after the game.
Poker is also up for tonight. I'll be heading to the Wall Street Game for some .50/1 NLHE at around 9pm. Before that is a satellite tourney at the WSG. Jamie has set up a satellite system to get into a one-table tournament for a $2000 WSOP seat and travel expenses. The only problem for me is that I cannot commit to a $2k event, particularly since it has to be a 2k event, and not just any event under 2k. The 1.5k events are generally more plentiful and easier to schedule. Regardless, I commend Jamie for yet another creative home game idea, and I'm more than happy to take chips from the post-tourney players, still reeling from being busted.
Until next time, make mine poker!
You Decide #62 Revisited
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I received some comments on You Decide #62 and thought I should take a moment to give my complete analysis. I will start with a quick reminder of the hand:
We are in the 6-handed NLHE MTT on FT with ~4500 with blinds of 60/120. After an aggressive player, Jewel, who has me well-covered, raised preflop to 360 from the CO, I called with A2d from the BB. The flop was 2c 3d 4d, so I checked, allowing Jewel to bet 555 before I check-pushed all-in. After requesting time, Jewel eventually called with A2o, I turned the flush and doubled up.
I think the preflop play should be addressed first, particularly since RecessRampage and Hoy seemed to think it was a poor call.
After focusing on super-tight play in satelllites for a while, I had found my starting hand requirements had shifted across the board to tight hand selection. I think for any player, tight hand selection is an important way to start and develop ones game. For some players, it is even their individual optimal strategy. But I don't think this readily applies to me. My play is generally aggressive and I had decided to play more hands under the right condition to maximize my stack early in events. The result is that I find myself shortstacked a lot more often in early stages. However, I am a self-proclaimed short stack specialist, which merely means I can manage a short stack well and can accumulate chips with appropriately timed aggression, even when my stack is not formidable.
All that said, I recently re-opened my starting hand requirements in MTTs, adding a lot more speculative hands into the mix. To do this effectively, one needs to be able to play solid post-flop poker AND be able to choose your opponents carefully. These things came together in this hand.
Remember, I labeled Jewel as an aggressive player. I don't have specific hands to provide, but I saw her raise with junk (T8d, if memory serves correct) earlier in the tournament. In a 6-handed game, that's not terribly surprisingly. Players seem to think that 6-handed games require an excessive level of aggression. Whatever the case, her open raise from the CO did not completely scare me. In the brief period of time, I went through the usual decision tree, following each branch of possibility to its logical conclusion.
First things first. I could affort 240 (the amount I had to call) and fold happily to a shitty flop. Now, the tree. In one scenario, he has jack shit. I'm out of position, but I can bet a ragged flop and probably take down the hand, even if he has a better Ace, provided that he doesn't hit. In another scenario, he has a great hand or hits the flop. I will probably still bet at a ragged flop or even an Ace-high flop, but if I get re-popped, I can fold. The key, once again, is the fact that I can afford to make this play. If I do bet a flop, it'll likely be in the 480-540 range. So, added with the 240 call, we are talking a net loss of about 780.
On the flipside, if I hit my Ace, bet, and he folds, it's easy money. More importantly, with her aggro stance, I can probably pull some money from him if I hit big...which is essentially what happened.
Let me make this clear: during the hand, I did not go through this logic aloud or even in my head. The quick though was, "I can fold if I have to, or I can win big if I hit. I can even take down this hand with shit if it sets itself up right."
So, on paper, calling a raise out of position with A2d is a terrible play. But when you are in the throws of battle, absorbing and working through all of the information available, it suddenly became a very real option. Call and see what happens. You can afford the ticket; now, take a ride.
Once the flop came down, I had to work out another decision tree. If I bet out and she doesn't have anything, I win the hand outright. Not bad. BUT, if she has a hand or even just has a set of cajones, she may raise me, at which point, I very well may be facing a tough situation. A flush draw is nice, but my opponent could very well have a pocket pair, and I don't want to have to rely on just my flush draw when facing a considerable re-raise. This basically told me that I did not want to bet out in this situation. Most losing hand folds, and a winning hand or a clever player can take the pot away by making a painfully large raise, given my stack size and the inflated pot.
So, I check. I want to see what he will do, since that will hopefully give me more information about his holdings. I have a monster draw and even my bottom pair might be good, since my check could embolden a player with KQ or KJ to bet the flop. If he bets small enough, I can call and see another card. If he checks, I'll see a free card and hopefully know if I make my flush before the hand gets any more expensive. Yet, he bets 555, which is an awkward number, so I immediately begin reconsidering his range.
The short answer to his range is this: No matter what, I have my flush draw and probably my inside straight draw. If he has a monster, I still have a good chance of winning the pot. If he jas crap, then he'll probably fold and I'll win the now-sizeable pot without needing my flush. Probably most importantly, if he has marginal holdings that beat me (A4, 77), I may get him to fold by pushing. Essentially, the pot got big enough, at around 1200, to make it worth risking my 4k stack.
And so, I did. The fact that Jewel called me with A2o just goes to show you that, (a) my read about her preflop range was right, and (b) you cannot expect your opponents to make good plays. Her call was terrible. She wasn't ahead of anything but an outright bluff or a flush draw. Perhaps that's what she expected. But from my vantage, calling an all-in check-raise with bottom pair is a losing play 9 times out of 10.
Once again, most of these decisions are made on the fly. I consider possibilities and as long as most paths seem safe and survivable and some paths seem very profitable, I'll make the play. The rest is up to luck and my opponents.
Until next time, make mine poker!
You Decide #62
Saturday, October 11, 2008
I'm holed up in my apartment, shades drawn, windows shut, strapped down to play some online poker. Wifey Kim is out brunching and shopping with her mother and I've isolated myself from the outside world with nothing but a laptop and a bottle of diet peach Snapple, sitting in my pajamas as the day ticks by playing online poker.
It reminds me of why I love and hate online poker. The love is for the fact that it is poker, instantly accessible. I love this game more than I know how to express. The hate is its solitary existence. At a live table, I feel that I am part of the human experience. In an online room, I am entirely alone.
Yet here I am, the love of the game once again supplanting the loath of the online game. And one thing that online poker consistently gives me is hands. Lots and lots of hands.
Speaking of hands, I had the pleasure of chopping a small MTT at Stars and outright won a 176 person $10 MTT at FullTilt for $435. In both cases, I played well, from my own vantage, particularly given the fact that the premium hands were few and far between. I like to think that good results in the face of bad starting hands is a sign of skill-based success, but it may just be an association I made up for my own sanity.
I did, however, have a little bit of luck in the FT tournament, hitting a 2 outter when we were down to three. To be fair to myself, I had JJ and the chipleader had AA, which is hard to get away from three-handed. Once that suckout occurred, I had the guy slightly covered. A few hands later, I had 55 preflop and the shorty got all-in preflop against me and the former big-stack. On the 5T3, all club flop, I called an open-push from the former chipleader who showed AT with the Ace of clubs. The original shortstack showed AJo. No one hit anything and I took down the tournament.
It should be no surprise to anyone who reads here frequently enough, but the FT MTT win came in a 6-max game, easily my specialty. I just have a better grasp on when I can make moves in a shorthanded game. It probably plays to my naturally aggressive play. Whatever the case, I had an interesting hand in the middle of the tournament that ended well, but may not have been played optimally.
I'm asking you to take out your commentor's hat and even your over-critical-of-Jordan hat and really let loose on this one. Was this expertly played, was I lucky, or was this a no-brainer?
You Decide #62
We are in the 6-handed NLHE MTT on FT with five players at the table. I am in the BB with 4480 in chips. I have the third lowest stack, with two guys at about 9k, one guy nipping at my heels and a third guy in the SB with 1213. The blinds are 60/120.
UTG folds. Jewel, with about 9k, is UTG+1, which is actually the cutoff thanks to the shorthanded table. He raises to 360. It folds to me, and since Jewel has proved herself to be a bit over-aggressive, I decide to call with A2d. I want to see the flop and decide what to do from there.
The flop is 2c 3d 4d, giving me bottom pair, top kicker, a nut flush draw, an inside straight draw, and an inside straight flush draw. I check and Jewel bets 555. It is a suspicious bet. I decide to push all-in for 4120. Jewel requests time and then finally calls, showing A2o. The turn is a diamond and I take down the pot, doubling up.
My push was an attempt to win the hand outright from a player who may've been scared by the coordinated flop and/or who may've had two overcards and nothing else. Perhaps I was also representing a flopped baby set. Whatever the case, after I pushed, I second-guessed the intelligence of the play.
I won't go deeper into analysis here, but disregarding the results, was a check-raise push the optimal play? Inquiring minds would like to know.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Ben Folds Blind
Friday, October 10, 2008
Thinking about poker, my mind flashed back to the last time I played, a 1/2 NLHE cash game at the Borgata where I made 825$ over about 9 hours. I remembered one player specifically, a crazy Asian player who was pushing all-in like mad. But what really stuck in my head was the blind check.
What the hell is up with checking in the blind? If anyone can offer a good reason for this play, I'm all ears. As nearest as I can tell, there is only one advantage: your in-position opponent gets no information from your action after the flop. Unfortunately, this "advantage" is negated by numerous other factors.
I'm all for odd plays, but only when they make sense. Checking blind never makes sense. That's right. NEVER. Allow me to elaborate.
Let's say you hit your hand. Well, dousche, you auto-checked, so while your opponent does not know that you hit your hand, it does not necessarily mean that he will do the betting for you. If your opponent checks too, then what? First off, you might be giving him a free card to hit a draw (or even a dreaded 2-outter or whatnot). Second, if he checks and you bet out on the next card, it is not as though your clever blind check convinced your opponent that you actually missed the flop, at which point he'll suddenly call your turn bet. Quite the opposite. Betting on the turn after a blind flop check is the same freaking thing as betting on the flop EXCEPT you lose one of your bullets.
You have AQo in the BB at a live 1/2 NLHE table. Aggro donk in LP raises to $15 and you call because he is an aggro donk and you'll be heads up. Using your clever, fancy play, you check in the dark. You figure that if you hit, you can check-raise him, and if you miss, then you are done with the hand anyway. Either way, you are negating the power of the aggro donk's position by refusing to give him post-flop info.
The flop comes down AcQc3d. You've hit top two pair, but there are a couple of draws out there. But since you got fancy, the action checks to the aggro donk...and he checks as well.
The turn is a Tc. Now what, asshole? Exactly.
If you hadn't blind-checked, you could've bet the flop. If he had nothing, he'd probably fold and you'd win the pot. Congratulations! It might not be a huge pot, but it's yours.
If he has the flush draw, he may just call on the flop. So, you are still screwed when the turn comes out...but you have more information that before. His flat call on the flop reads like a flush draw and you can act accordingly, checking the turn and evaluating his hand based on how he bets.
If he has the straight draw (KJ) or even an underpair (JJ, TT), he will likely fold to your flop bet, provided you were not stupid enough to check blind. So, you win the hand outright, once again. Kudos.
Now, for the alternative. If he has no cards and you checked blind, then he will check the flop as well, since it is scary with an Ace and from the preflop call, it is likely you are playing an Ace. When the turn comes, if you are bold enough to bet the made-flush board, the aggro donk will likely fold...netting you the same amount of money as if you had just bet out in the first place. THERE IS NO ADVANTAGE TO THIS STRATEGY WHEN YOUR OPPONENT HAS MISSED COMPLETELY, UNLESS HE ALWAYS BETS WHEN ITS CHECKED TO HIM, EVEN WHEN ITS CHECKED IN THE DARK.
If he has the flush draw and you check in the dark on the flop, he will probably check as well or may even bet preflop. Whatever the case, when the turn comes around and he hits, he will win the hand. And since you didn't see him flat-call on the flop, you might think that this aggro donk is playing a strong club and still hasn't hit his flush. SO, BY CHECKING BLIND, YOU ARE ACTING WITH LESS INFORMATION WHEN SCARE CARDS HIT, AND YOU STAND TO LOSE MORE MONEY.
If he has the underpairs or the straight draw, then the free card you gave him may have given him an unlikely monster hand, like an inside straight draw with KJ or a set with an underpair like TT. Those hands would've surely folded to a bet on the flop, but once the turn comes, it is more likely that your opponent will hold onto these hands, even in the face of the three flush cards, especially if he has the Kc, for instance. BY CHECKING BLIND, YOU LOSE AN ASS-LOAD MORE MONEY BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO INFO AND HAVE ALLOWED UNEXPECTED HANDS TO HIT, WHICH MAY BLINDSIDE YOU.
In my mind, checking in the blind is essentially giving up all control over a hand. There is no value in avoiding giving information. In fact, I advocate giving information at the poker table, provided that you are aware of and in control of the information provided. I don't give a fuck if my opponent knows that I bet out strong on a coordinated flop, because I WANT HIM TO KNOW. If he knows and I know that he knows, I can control what he is thinking and what he will do.
Poker is largely about controlling the flow of information, but damning the flow is not the answer. You only have so many possible plays in a given hand. Bet, raise, check, fold, with varying amounts. You get four shots to do it, preflop, flop, turn and river, with multiple shots on each street depending on the action (raises, re-raises). By checking blind, you are taking away one of your options. You are lessening your arsenal. You are handicapping yourself.
If you don't know how to play poker, then blind check away. It couldn't be worse that what you'd do if you actually retained some modicum of control over the results. But if you know what you are doing, quit the bullshit. Blind checks offer no value.
Until next time, make mine poker!
I continue on my online poker diet, reducing my play mostly due to disinterest and the creeping feeling that it is all for naught when I get the urge to play. I still play online, several times a week, but the fervor with which I play and the regularity and session length has significantly lessened.
As my play reduces, so does my blog posting, due in large part to the fact that it is hard to develop thoughts on poker without, well, actual poker. Alas, it is what it is, and while my live play has been meager, I have two trips to poker destinations coming up in December and I'm sure more poker will be had before then.
Reading postings around the blogosphere, it seems I am not alone in this lull of poker excitement. It's the natural order of things and I am not the least surprised. Like many things in life, it is easy to fall into a hobby or social group due to the allure that the hobby/group has, and then just as easily fall out of interest with the hobby/group as familiarity breeds contempt. It may be the frustration of never winning that elusive tournament or the doldrums of chasing the dragon without success. It may be a direct feud with other group members or the group as a whole or a bitter resentment built up over time.
This is just the normal order of things, and I don't begrudge anyone who has actually fallen out of poker or poker blogging. Both are revolving doors, and it makes no sense to stick around after the fun has left.
Of course, that ain't me, though. While at times poker feels too much like work, I'm in it for life. Even when I am less excited by it, I know that time will pass and I'll be back to the love in no time.
Think of it like a porno tape. Remember before pornos were available on the net for free, how you'd have a stash of tapes or magazines hidden away. After a while, seeing the same "actors", camera shots, and even pop shots, can get to be a tad...well, boring. More played out than anything. So, a particular tape may fall out of favor for a few weeks or a few months or even a year. But after that memory fades a bit, that old tape gets put back into circulation, and it's fresh again.
Yes, poker is like an old porn tape to me. When it gets tedious, I may shelf it for a bit, but I know that it's only a matter of time before I want to check up on that great scene with Heather Hunter in a shower, or, you know, whatever.
On a related note, during this brief hiatus from serious poker play, I have been thinking about how poker is a lot of work. The game is constantly changing, and more importantly, taking a break will probably cause one's game to revert. This is not the type of pursuit where you make a mistake, lose a hand, and never make that mistake again. Poker learning is done through repetition, and certain fundamentals can drop off if you take some time off.
That is my major concern with my current hiatus. I should be playing live once per week at least. Sadly, with work commitments and games scheduled as per the hosts' schedules instead of mine, I haven't played a weekday homegame in what feels like months. Since online poker sucks donkey balls, that means that since my recent AC trip, I've played no live poker, and I wonder how much that has affected my game.
I'll find out a little bit on Thursday of next week. I will be attending the Wall Street Game's OE game, half Stud Hi/Lo and half Omaha Hi/Lo. At the same time, I'll be participating in a freeroll on FullTilt set up by RakeBrain.com, so I'll be literally two-tabling. Maybe the combo isn't the best way to keep my NLHE game in-tune, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
Poker is a shit ton of work, if you are doing it right. It's also a pleasure. The key, to me for now, at least, is to enjoy it as often as I can and let the work come naturally. The love is still alive, and that's really all that should matter.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Two Fine Blogs
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
While my online play is probably at an all-time low (not low enough to avoid a series of bubbles on Sunday night), I have been seeking out new reading material in the blogoverse to keep my needs satisfied. My most recent favorite two-some come from a live-poker-playing 1/2 NL pro in Vegas and a well-known, name-brand pro.
The first, the 1/2 NLHE pro in Vegas, is none other than Poker Grump, aka Rakewell. I highly recommend Grump for you fans of HoP. He plays nearly daily at the local casinos in Vegas, amazingly sticking to 1/2 NLHE almost exclusively. The amazing part is that he apparently pays the bills with that lowest of NL games. I can appreciate the Grump for dozens of reasons, but what I really love is his detailed accounts of his daily play, whether he focuses on individual hands or the characters at the table or the venue. It's really like reading a travelogue of Vegas low-limit poker, and Grump has a way of telling a story that sucks me in.
I can also appreciate his dedication to 1/2 NLHE. It's my game of choice, mostly because of a thin bankroll, but it also has the advantage of attracting the most incompetent players but paying off fairly well. I could personally move to 2/5 NLHE, but whenever I think to do it, I choose instead to "start the day" playing 1/2 NLHE and usually without fail, I'll stick to the 1/2 NLHE. The action is usually good, the money is good, and the play is terrible.
The second new blog to my reading roster is the blog of Daniel Negreanu. I have to admit, I admire Negreanu for a variety of reasons, not the least of which are his results and his ability to make and follow reads. Like Grump's blog, I can go through a littany of reasons why Danny's blog is great, but I'll stick to a few.
First, it is interesting to read about a pro's travels on the tourney circuit. It's a bit of vicarious living and Danny gives enough info that you can really understand what it is like to be traveling all over the globe to play poker with a band of likeminded gamblers.
Second, Danny does a great job of going over key hands in tournaments. The key here, though, is that Danny is not a Harringbot. Most of the plays he discusses are crazy, even to a loose mofo like me. A perfect example is from a recent hand he posted where he played a speculating 67 and ended up calling a bet on the river on an otherwise scary board with a mere pair of 6s. Here is the actual quote:
"A tight player raised under the gun to 300 and the aggressive player called in the next seat. I called form the big blind with 6-7. The flop came 8-5-3 rainbow and I checked. The aggressive player bet 600 and we saw the turn heads up. Turn was an Ace, and I check called 1100. The river was a 6 and I checked. Again, the aggressive player bet 2800 and something did not seem right. The bet was too big, he was unlikely to call a raise from the tight player with Ax making it difficult to put him on two pair, and I didn't think he'd bet a pair of 99 or 10-10, especially not that much. He was going to have to show me a set, or I was convinced he had a hand like K-Q. I called... he showed K-Q. I played my hand like such an obvious draw so I figured he was certainly capable of firing the three barrel bluff. "
The bottom line is, most of the readers of this blog simply fold preflop to a tight EP raiser, especially if the tournament was costing them thousands of dollars to enter. And yet, when you read through his analysis, you realize that Danny could probably call with any two cards there and as long as he is able to make the right decisions post-flop, the seemingly-loose preflop call is correct.
Now, if I post that scenario, I'd bet dollars to donuts that I'd get comments about playing the hand poorly. And probably before I read Negreanu's analysis, I would even agree. To call preflop, out of position against a tight preflop raiser with speculative cards and then to call three bullets with an open-ended straight draw that results in a mere pair of 6s takes cajones. For you online poker aficionados, the play is probably utter crap. But when you read Danny's analysis and consider that he was (and is) capable of getting a read on the table, his opponent and the situation as it unfolds, suddenly, Danny's play makes perfect sense.
Reading something like Danny's hand analysis just makes my brain explode in all sorts of directions. I'm excited to get back to playing, I'm encouraged to trust my reads (even though I am no Danny N.), and I'm re-invigorated that the game is not just about folding to the fucking money. It's about taking control of your fate by intellect, observation and more than a pinch of cunning.
So, there you go. Poker Grump and Danny N., two blogs that remind me why I love poker.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Here's the thing. I don't just do Vacation Trip Reports. When I went to California, for instance, I didn't write about the flight into San Fran, or the experience traveling to San Diego. I did, however, write about my stop at the Bay 101 Poker Room because, my dear readers, I know what you crave. But this is not a travel blog, so I am hesitant to go into a long trip report on the Bash.
Let me make this clear, though. I despise the type of posts that refer to insider jokes or references or bullet point highlights that make no sense to anyone not there. There were probably 30 or less bloggers in Phoenixville, PA last weekend for AlCantHang's Bash at the Boathouse, but since I have millions...and millions...of readers, I just won't sully this pristine site with lines like, "Who put the nutmeg in my hot sauce?" and just leave it at that.
So, I walk a delicate line of weighing down this blog with a story about getting drunk all day long in a random bar, in a random town, in a random state (any meaning of the word 'state' will work there), or ignoring the event altogether. The solution, let's focus on the poker and gambling.
I had caught a ride to the Bash with Alceste. We had met on his side of the river, i.e. New Jersey, and directly headed to the randomest little Philly suburb I'd ever visited (the only one, in fact). Mary and Dawn had already checked into the Flea Bag Hotel and had booked our room, so we met everyone out at a Korean restaurant with a HUGE banquet hall in the back of an otherwise non-descript restaurant.
It was probably 9:15pm, and the tourney was supposed to start at 8, but from what I could tell, we had missed less than an hour of play. Alceste and I each bought in for $60 (no idea how the structure worked, but I think it was a single $20 buy-in and two add-ons or something), and we took our seats at different tables. I sat at a table that seemed to be filled with locals, with the exception of BadBlood, a few seats to my right, and Buddy Dank, a few seats to his right. I started off tight, trying to get a feel for the table and the players. To Buddy's right was a black guy that looked just like Keenan Thompson from SNL. I'm not talking stunt-double here, either. I'm talking full-on doppleganger, complete with evil goatee. He even had a lot of Keenan's hangdog expressions. He played tight and seemed upset the entire time by the craziness at the table, even though he kept a generally pleasant demeanor.
To his right was Eeyore. You've all played with an Eeyore or two in your days. This one was an older gentleman, in fact, by appearance, the oldest in the room. He had a slight frame, grey hair, and glasses. He seemed like a cleaned-up backwoods guy, no facial hair but a lumberjack's shirt tucked into his slacks. The entire time at the table he was complaining about one thing or another. He also consistently bitched about Bad Blood who was drunk and having a great time. This guy couldn't understand why Blood would play the Hammer, as though it wasn't painfully obvious to anyone with a sense of humor. Sad sacks like this can suck the fun out of the game. A man can only take so much, "Nobody folds to Eeyore." and "Nobody doesn't catch against big cards from Eeyore." and "Nobody loves Eeyore." at the table. After a while, you just want to take him by his stupid tacked-on tail, punch the shit out of his stuffing filled body, piss on his broken corpse and say, "THERE! THERE! NOW YOU HAVE A REASON TO COMPLAIN! FUCK YOU IN YOUR FUCKING ASS, YOU FUCKING FUCK!!!!" Yeah. He annoyed me.
Besides that, there was a cute girl sitting to Blood's left, two seats to my right. She was probably the best looking broad in the joint, so I immediately assumed she knew jack-shit about poker. She wasn't a 10 in normal parlance, probably closer to a 7.5 or 8, but she had what Jordan likes in a woman: all her teeth and petite enough to know I could take her in a fight. Of course, this old dog is married, so her presence at the table, after being noted, was largely academic. I'm like a hunter on a photo expedition, look, but don't touch. (If I were Satan I would continue, Touch, but don't taste. Taste, but don't swallow! And while you are jumping from one foot to the next, what is God doing? He's laughing his fucking ass off!)
I'm a fan of man, Kevin, so I started tight, watching the play. I wasn't happy about shelling out $60 on a $20 tourney I was late for, so I wanted to figure out if this was a pushfest or a tight rebuy game before I started rebuying like mad. At other tables, I heard, "REBUY!" seemingly every other hand, but my table was kinda quiet, thanks in large part to Eeyore and Keenan.
When I heard the announcement that there was only 15 minutes left to rebuy, I made a silent pact with myself to begin pushing like mad. I was down to probably half of my starting stack, so from EP, I pushed with K6o. It folded around while I acted all super strong in an absurd manner. One guy hesitated and I said my popular dick-phrase, "Just fold and nobody gets hurt." The action ended with BadBlood in the big blind, who had said "I'm calling you with any Ace" about .5 seconds after I pushed. As he considered what to do, he exposed one card, the Ace of Spades. Realizing that I was surely behind, I did what any self-respecting cutter would do and goaded him into calling. "I believe you are committed, sir. Verbal declaration!" He called and showed AKo. I was dominated, so I decided to ham it up more by acting all calm when I said, "Show me a Six." The first card out was a Six of Spades. The table gasped and the rest were blanks, netting me a sweet double-up. Ironically, I pushed the next two hands, but got no action.
I rebought somewhere in there before the K6o hand, so I was in the game for $80 when I bought the add-on. Truth be told, I hate charity events, because I can't help but think that if I were to cash, I'd be disappointed that my hard work was for only a fraction of the usual payoff. Sorry, charities, but I am biased against you. Most donations are spent on infrastructure, which means that the money is not going to clothes kids in Cambodia; it's actually going to the Team Building Retreat that the staffers take to New Orleans during Mardi Gras. If not that, it is going to the colored paper clips that the receptionist thinks look cute or getting the second urinal fixed. I'm not saying that was the case with this event. Hardly. But I am biased to these things.
So, with that in mind, after the rebuy period ended, I tried to bust out as soon as possible. At least that's my story.
The actual hand went like this. Keenan, who was harumphing with the best of them as he limp-folded repeatedly to raises, decided to open-push from early position for 7000. BadBlood, sitting on a mighty stack, called. I decided to over-push for 12,000 with my AKo. I figured Keenan had a top hand because he had been playing so cautiously, and that Blood with his big stack would call. As long as I could beat Blood, I could win the 10k sidepot and only lose 2k on the hand, so it seemed like a great move at the time. We all showed our cards. I had AKo, Blood had 88, and Keenan had AQ. Sure enough, a Queen flops and I get no help, thus losing the pot and busting out as the first bustee after the bubble.
Oh, well, I thought. I strolled around the room and hung out with RecessRampage who had arrived late and chosen not to play. I started a prop bet with one of the locals, Millerd. He's a white dude, about my age, and a helluva loud mouth, something I can appreciate. In fact, his poker style reminds me a lot of myself, if I were turned up to 11. I'm sure it was grating on some of the other players during the cash game, but I found it amusing. Recess, Millerd and I each chose three horses in the tournament. I chose BadBlood, Falstaff, and some random kid with a big stack sitting at Falstaff's table. In the end, my two horses, Staff and the kid, lasted the longest, but I never collected on my bet.
After a while, we got a cash game going, with a starting line-up that included me, Recess, Millerd, Astin, Dawn, Vinnay, and some other assorted locals and bloggers. Vinnay completely spanked me in the early goings when I flopped an improbable two pair (with K6 on an AK6 board), only for him to spike two pair on the river with A3o. The way the hand progressed, I was worried that he had spiked a better two pair on the flop, and instead I gave him an opportunity to hit in on the river. A few hands later, we got all-in on a baby flop with my QQ vs. his KK. Sonuva! I was felted, so I rebought another $100 buy-in at the .50/1 NLHE game.
I saved one hand from the game, a real doozy between me and Astin. I straddled for $2, and Millerd, to my immediate left, re-straddled for $4. Everyone folded around to Astin, in LP (CO or button), who opted to raise to $12. It folded to me and I couldn't just hand the money to Astin, who I felt was likely playing position. By now, I had looked at my cards, T6s. It's hardly a strong hand, but it had some potential and if I were to hit, any hit would be well hidden. I called and then Millerd called as well. Knowing his game, he could have any two cards.
The flop was K9x. I think the x was a 7, giving me an inside straight draw. I checked, expecting that someone would bet and I would fold. My expectations, though, were presently surprised when both players checked. Nothing gave me the sense that they were playing coy either. None of us were too happy with that flop.
The turn was a Queen. I opted for a $15 bet. I was telling a story: Guy straddles and calls a raise, which means he has a marginal hand or better, since he is out of position. Maybe he has ATC, since it is me. He hits the flop, probably the King, but decides to check out of position so he can get some action from the other players. When they check the flop, he makes a small-ish value bet to get more money in the pot.
That's the story I was telling, hopefully. I figured it would be aided by the fact that both players seemed to give up on the flop. If neither had the King, for top pair, then they would probably both fold the fishy-looking turn bet.
Well, it worked on Millerd, who had probably mentally checked out of the hand on the flop, but Astin took his time, finally opting to call. I may have goaded him on a bit too, acting strong, since I was weak. It's a classic move, but I sometimes do it openly with people who have been watching me or know my reputation. I'll act strong whether I have it or not.
I'll let you in on a little secret, too. RecessRampage was the MVP of this hand and he wasn't even in the action. There was a lot of loose table talk and Recess, sitting to the left of Astin, was opinion about how I might have JT. The more he said it, the more Astin seemed convinced. At first I thought my story was pure shite, but when JT came into play, my strong act seemed more plausible. Loose player calls with JT after he straddles...makes sense. Checks the inside straight draw on the flop...sure. Bets a small-ish amount when he hits his miracle staight...everything checks out. It looked like Astin was considering a re-raise, which would naturally force me to fold, but Recess' chat seemed to slow him down, and he eventually called with a look on his face that told me he was not happy with the uncertainty of the situation.
Once Astin called, we saw the river, another King. If nothing else, it offered furthere assurance that Astin didn't have a King. I had pretty much felt that way anyway, so I considered my options. I couldn't possibly just check, because I couldn't win the hand at showdown, so I had to decide how much to bet to signal that I had a strong hand without sticking too much of my neck out there in case Astin was mentally sharpening his axe to cut me down to size. For all I know, he flopped a set, slowplayed the flop, was scared of a straight on the turn and was now licking his chops at his rivered full house. I bet $35, an amount that signals strength without putting too much on the line. If I were to bet more, it may look like I want him to fold. If I bet too small, he might think it's worth a call because I had a loose range. I guess I hit the sweetspot though, because he eventually folded and I showed my cards. I mean, I had to, right? It not only rubs a little salt in the wound (nothing personal), but it also advertises to my audience that I'm playing ATC.
The rest of the game was pretty quiet for me. In the end, I left -$10 in the cash game, not bad since I was -$100 at one point. Amazingly, not long after my play, Millerd played almost the exact bluff against Astin, succeeding as well. And, naturally, he showed as well, because showboating players like Millerd and I don't know any better.
At 2am, Alceste was getting fatigued so we hit the road and returned to our flea bag hotel. The rest of the trip consisted of a lot of drinking and spending time with people who share common interests and values. Suffice it to say that I feel a genuine kinship with this group that I sometimes forget when I'm back in NY. With a trip to LV in December coming up, though, I'm looking forward to more shenanigans.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
I bet $25 at Bodog on John McCain winning the presidency. This way, if he wins, I at least have one reason to rejoice. Plus at +225, it's a helluva bargain. Nobody knows fucking up elections like the Democrats.