Sunday, June 28, 2009
Man, I am terrible at dieting. I broke my online poker diet. After busting relatively early in the nightly PLO tourney (bad play by me), I took some time away from the computer and then returned to use a $75 token I won in a token frenzy. I jumped into a 45-person SNG, and by the time I started to second-guess myself, the tourney started. A few hours later, I busted ITM in 5th place for a $186 payday, which at the very least buys me a week plus of the PLO tourney. I may have to expand my diet to include the token frenzy and these $75 45-person SNGs as a dietary supplement. A man cannot live on Omaha alone.
But this post was intended to tell you about my good fortune at the Tuna Club this weekend. After my golf lesson Sunday morning, I returned home to an empty apartment. Wifey Kim was at her friend's pool working on her tan, so I decided to fall back on the ole reliable Tuna Club for their Sunday $150 tournament. I played it a few weeks ago, when we barely got 6 players. We had arranged to reduce the buy-in, since there were few enough of us to agree to such a thing, and in the end, I chopped for essentially 2nd place. This time, though, there was a tad more players.
I arrived at 3pm. I had intended to show up fashionably late, but I just can't wait for poker and sitting around my apartment got me antsy. I headed uptown by subway, got off at a stop or two early and took a nice walk to the club. When I arrived, it was just 3pm and there were only two other players, a chick I later learned was named Dawn (not the IHO Dawn), and one guy. W was there as well, running the show, but she couldn't play because of pending plans in the early evening. After sitting down, W came around and handed each of us a 500 chip. "This is for showing up on time." Apparently, W came up with an idea to get players to arrive early. She sent out a text message stating that all players who arrive by 3pm get an extra 500 to their 3,500 stack (actually, 4,500 after you pay the $10 dealer toke option for an extra 1000). That's a sweet incentive, and I guess I was just lucky I got there on time. I don't receive the text messages because they come daily, and I just don't need a daily update on my cell phone.
About one minute later, another player arrived and asked for his 500 chip. To W's credit, she replied, "It's 3:02, buddy. You are late. No 500 chip for you."
Even with the incentive, it was at least 3:30 when the game got off, with 6 players and a bunch of dead stacks being blinded off. The buy-in was $130 + 20 (fee) + 10 (dealer toke for 1,000 extra chips). If a player busted in the first hour and a dead stack was still available, the player could re-register for the full $160 (the dealer toke is a must, value-wise). By the time the re-register period was over, we actually added a few stacks to the table after players busted, and we had 13 paying customers.
I didn't keep notes on hands, so I don't have a lot of specifics, but I do have a few. In general, this tourney exemplified the importance of being tuned into your table. When I am tuned in, everything is easier. I can see things that others probably don't and, more importantly, I can follow my reads with confidence.
The table make-up, to start, included two new players to the club, both sitting on my immediate left. The first guy to my left was a Caucasian guy, probably in his mid- to late-20s, with a clean cut appearance. He wore a baseball cap and t-shirt. He seemed a tad uncomfortable in the environment, which I hoped to use to my benefit. To his left (and two to my left) was his buddy, who seemed a bit more comfortable in the room, but still felt off. He was a semi-fat (more than chubby, less than obese) Asian guy who looked like he must be a computer programmer. He just looked sloppy. He had headphones around his neck and a ball cap on, with a slack jawed look on his face. I can't stand that look, people who act as though their jaw is too heavy to keep their maw shut. Frankly, he looked like a Mongoloid. True to his look, he played pretty tight.
In a fairly early hand, I called a small raise from an Aggro Guy along with just about everyone else at the table. I was merely playing positiong, since I was on the button with K6h. The flop came down KQJ, with two suited cards. When it checked to me, I bet out a reasonable sum, maybe 400 into the 600+ pot. I felt if I overbet here, people would assume I was merely playing position, so I wanted it to appear like a value bet. The only caller I got was the Caucasian Newbie on my immediate left. The turn was a blank and I bet out 800, trying to make it clear to the newbie that I would be willing to double my bet again if he was stupid enough to call light. He called again, and I started to become slightly concerned that I was facing a stronger King. The river was another blank and he bet out 1000 quickly. I was ready to fold my hand, but something stopped me. I ran through the hand again in my head. It just didn't feel right. I knew the kid felt like he had something to prove. If he had a monster, he would've check-raised the turn or probably given me another chance to bet at it on the river and check-raise me there. Why bet out immediately? His toss also seemed very aggressive. Strong means weak, I thought. I still took my time. I finally settled on a busted draw. It made perfect sense. Call down, hoping to hit, and then raise the river when you realize its the only way you are going to win. Remember, 1000 was no small bet, since I only started with 5,000 chips (3,500 + 1,000 toke + 500 bonus for arriving on time). I called and he showed JTo for third pair and a busted low draw. That's how I knew I was on my game.
Of course, from there, I ended up having to fold for a long time. It was all due to the Aggro Guy in the 10 seat. I have to give him a lot of respect because he was playing a beautiful game, raising preflop a ton and keeping the pressure on, regardless of his cards. Part of me tried to remind myself that he may've actually been on a hot run of cards. It was probably the only lesson I retained from Zen and the Art of Poker: At times, your opponent actually will run that good. On those occassions, don't fool yourself into thinking that he must be bluffing. Don't fight against the flow of the game. Rather, wait it out until it is your time to be ultra-aggressive. Of course, this is all paraphrased. The lesson to be learned is to not give in to the frustration of a player who is betting a lot.
Of course, I did have to put Aggro in his place, re-raising preflop a couple of times with literally nothing (56o, etc.), to which Aggro folded after his initial raise. In those instances, I was in the blind, so I just felt the need to let him know that I was not a soft spot to be attacked.
I used another lesson I recently picked up from reading. I am on the verge of completing Matusow's biography, Checkraising the Devil, and something he wrote about his infamous banter with Greg Raymer at the 2004 World Series Main Event really bothered me when I first read it. Matusow said that his problem with Raymer, initially, was that they were the two skilled players at the table, and there is an unspoken code amongst pros that you don't go after each other when there are fish around. That didn't sit right with me at the time because I don't believe in taking it easy on anyone, but once it was Aggro and I with the big stacks, I started to understand Matusow's point. I didn't have to, nor did I want to, play against him. There were much softer spots.
To my immediate right was the guy who showed up 2 minutes late. He is a Caucasiang guy with a shaved, but stubbly head and face. He wore something akin to a fedora which would look douschey on most people, but worked for him. I could tell he was closer to the usual underground poker club player, willing to gamble it up.
After my iniital surge, I was getting blinded down pretty quickly, and I was near a starting stack (or maybe even less) when I was finally dealt a strong (and my only, I think) strong pocket pair of the day, QQ. Fedora had raised preflop and I re-raised. He called. The flop was all unders and he checked. I bet big and he called. The turn was another under and he checked. I bet all-in. He called. I think he hit top pair or something. Whatever the case, my QQ was good and I took down the pot, doubling up in the process.
I continued playing tuned-in poker as we lost players. By the time we were four-handed, it was me, Aggro Guy, the Slack-Jawed Asian and Dawn, who had re-registered way late in the festivities, but made a nice comeback with some well-timed double-ups. Aggro and I were the chip leaders, and he had the heavy lead. S-J Asian asked about a deal and Aggro and I ignored him. It was not going to happen, given our stack sizes. S-J Asian was out next by Dawn and suddenly, I was the shortstack. There was about 60,000 out there, and I had maybe 15,000 - 16,000. Then Aggro said, "Wanna chop?"
I know my math. We agreed to an even chop, and I took $563 for my troubles, a $400+ profit. I have to cut out of here now, so I'll leave it at that. Thanks for reading.
Until next time, make mine poker!
You Decide #68
Friday, June 26, 2009
When it rains, it pouts. I played in the No Limit Omaha 8 or Better tourney on FullTilt on Friday night. If you think play is bad in PLO High, just wait until you see the play at NLO8. Not only are Omaha games traditionally played pot limit, but the high/low aspect of the game attracts the push monkeys like flies to doody. With that said, there is always the question of when to embrace that inner push-monkey, and that's why I need your help, with
You Decide # 68
We are in the 20/40 blind period, so its very early, and I have 2335. I'm not sure if this was a deepstack tournament, but considering that I am in 7th out of the 8 players at my table, its fair to assume it was 3000 starting stacks.
Preflop, in the small blind, I was dealt As 3s 7d 2d, basically the three best low cards, double suited. UTG+1, JoMaha (5955) limped for 40. AngelEye (2750) in the cutoff calls. I raise to 3x the BB, 120 total. Butter (2805), the big blind, raises to 1,400. JoeMaha raises to 3,000. It folds to me and I call. Butter calls too.
Was this a bad time to go all-in?
For what its worth, JoMaha had 2357 with two spades and Butter had AAJT, rainbow. The board ended up Td Kd 4s 9h Qd, rivering me the low flush (with my 72c) and the pot. But did I donk it up here with a gamble, or were conditions right to push and pray?
Until next time, make mine poker!
My hot streak continues with a nice score yesterday at the Tuna Club, but before we get into that, I have a couple of hands saved on Blogger worth discussing, so let's get to it.
Before I start, let me just state for the record that my online poker diet stands. I will do my best to only play the $26 PL Omaha High game, which runs nightly on FullTilt at 9:15 (and maybe the $75 token frenzy because I find it so juicy). But that's just a weekday restriction. On weekends, all bets are off.
I've been playing a lot of PL Omaha and Omaha variations lately, and I recently came across a fun hand as part of a $4k HORSE tournament. It is a Limit Omaha 8 or Better hand, and I think it exemplifies one of the keys to limit games, namely maximizing value (the other key is knowing when to fold).
The blinds are 30/60, so this is the first Limit Omaha H/L round and we are still very early in the game. We started with 2k in chips, and we are down to 1940. On the button, we are dealt KJT2, with the K and 2 of diamonds. It is not a great hand, with no possible low, but if the board doesn't create a low hand, the KJT can be a potential scooper.
The "big stack" with 2820, BigD, raises to 60 from UTG. He gets two callers before it gets to me. I decide to call because (a) there is already 270 in the pot, (b) I can expect at least one of the blinds to call, (c) its only 60 to call, giving me roughly 5:1 odds, (d) I'm in position on the button, and (e) if the hand goes high with no low, I have a potential scooper. It's not an amazing hand, but there is enough play at these early stages where I am willing to lose 60 in order to win a lot more. Remember that in these games, there are a decent amount of implied odds, since players are willing to call down relatively light. The multi-way pot helps in this regards too.
The two blinds come along for the ride and we are 5-handed when we see the flop: Ks Tc 8c. That gives me top two-pair on a board with a flush draw. It's not ideal, but not too bad either. As of now, there are only a few hands that are ahead (not statistically, since a hand with lots of draws may be ahead). Those ahead hands are KKxx, TTxx, and 88xx. It is unlikely that someone has KK or TT, since I have both a K and a Ten; likewise, it is unlikely that someone would play an 88xx hand, but it is possible from one of the blinds. I am also very glad that there is only one low card out.
The SB, Zoe (2165) bets out 30. The BB and preflop raiser (BigD) fold. MattF (1400) waits until the 15 second timer and then calls. Lopes (1940) then raises to 60. I'm next to act, and with top two pair, I decide to call. I have a temporarily strong hand, but top two pair is no monster in LO8 with a fush draw and lots of straight draws possible. This is a limit game, so it's not like I can push out a drawing hand with a bet, so I want to control the pot size. I also want a lot of players in the hand, because if I make a full house, I want a lot of players left so that someone pays me off. I also have to be wary of someone hitting a low by the river, in which case, heads-up play will end in a chop; in other words, I need 3 players (including me) in the hand in case that low comes, so I can make some money from the odd-man out who gets neither the high nor the low. Zoe and MattF call and we see the turn:
King of Hearts. CHOO CHOO! I hit my full house, essentially locking up the hand. There is no low possible, and I only "fear" TTxx, which is highly unlikely mathematically and logically. This is where the fun really begins. Zoe bets out 60 again from the SB. MattF called. Lopes raised again. Now, here I just flat call. If I raise, I might push Zoe or MattF out (they'll have to call 120 facing two players demonstrating strength, instead of "just another 60 with great odds." By keeping them on the hook, I get another 120 in the pot in this round, rather than re-raising and potentially only getting 60 from Lopes. Plus, I really want someone to hit a nut flush or a straight and hopefully get into a raising war on the river. Yes, I know it would be silly for a player to bet hard with their flush on a paired board, but this is a Limit event, HORSE (not LO8), and the players in non-NoLimitHold'em tourneys play much worse than the equivalent non-NLHE cash game players. As it turns out, Zoe calls, but MattF folds anyway.
The river is a 3c, hopefully hitting someone's club flush draw (clubs always get there, naturally). Zoe bets 60. Lopes just calls. Now its time to raise. I bump it up to 120. Zoe re-raises to 180. Lopes now folds. I get in one last raise and Zoe calls.
At showdown, Zoe shows 9887 with two diamonds. She was ahead with bottom set on the flop, and made her lesser full house on the turn. I probably could've gotten into the raising war with her on the turn, except that would've pushed out a few extra bets from Lopes, and probably would've slowed Zoe down on the river. Instead, I was able to play the role of a calling station (from her perspective), finally waking up when the flush hit.
Could I have played this better, now that I know her cards? I don't really think so, but I'm open to suggestions.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Last night, I attended what can only be described as the bastard love child of a home game and an underground poker room. Jamie's Wall Street Game had to essentially close shop due to his girlfriend moving in (i.e., life's rake), and so the game had migrated to an underground poker room, where the rake was reduced to $5 per hour instead of the usual $5+ per half hour. It's the best rate in the city by leaps and bounds.
I had been planning on hitting up the game for a while, but Tuna Club competed for my poker attention, and since Tuna is open every night and I was already familiar with the place, I had been delaying my visit to the Wall Street Game's satellite office, but my schedule finally alligned right, and I was scheduled to make my first appearance last night.
Before the game, I left work and took a slow stroll from my office near 58th street and 3rd Avenue to my favorite Mexican restaurant in the city (and, I suppose, in the world), Baby Bo's, easily home of the best burrito in NYC. Bo's is located on 34th and 2nd, and by way of reference, every 20 city streets equals a mile, and every four or five avenues equal a mile, so the walk was roughly 1.5 miles. It was a beautiful day, though, and I wanted to get some fresh air before playing some poker.
When I arrived at Bo's, I grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered my burrito to go and a glass of sangria to keep me company. I whipped out the Michael Matusow biography with the unfortunate title, Checkraising the Devil, and settled in for my wait. Meanwhile, other people in the bar were discussing Michael Jackson's death. It was an interesting thing watching strangers bond over his death. It's amazing how, for the most part, people ignored his checkered legal history. I don't think that this is wrong either. It may've been creepy that he shared his bed with kids, but he was found not guilty, which should count for something unless your name starts with an O and ends with a J.
A quick note about the book: buy it. It's great. A full review will come when I'm done.
I left Bo's with my food in tow and walked to a corner several blocks away, where I met up with Lastman and ASG. Lastman was a reader who, probably a year ago, asked if I could help him find an underground game. He was literally the Last man I was willing to help in that way, since I became concerned that I could be outting clubs and getting them in trouble. ASG was a guy I met at my last trip to AC. I usually don't out my blog at tables, but I was having a great time yucking it up and ASG and I got along well. We got to emailing after the fact and I decided to invite him to the home game/underground game hybrid.
The three of us made our walk down the block and rang the doorbell for the apartment where the game was to take place. Nothing. Shit. I made a phone call, though, and it turned out the buzzer wasn't working. We were let in to an apartment that had a hallway and kitchen, followed by stairs to a raised room and a lower level, both fairly small and open, but with enough space for a poker table and chairs.
I sat down and scarfed down the burrito. It was so good, I'm salivating now just typing about it. I offered up the free tortilla chips and salsa to the table and they were gone in no time.
The table was already filling out, and once we arrived, there were enough players to get started. A couple of regulars from the Wall Street Game's were there, including Matty Ebs, Shawn, and a couple of the corporate guys.
The game was 1/2 NLHE and the highest buy-in was $200, although I'm not sure if that was the max allowed or just custom and practice. We paid $5 for the first hour and were off.
I didn't keep any notes on hands, but fairly early, I lost enough to rebuy another $100. In one hand in particular, I raised preflop in LP with AK and Ebs re-raised from one of the blinds. I hesitated to call because I was contemplating a re-raise, but the night was still early and I didn't want to play a huge pot with a drawing hand like AK. The flop were all 9 and under. Matty bet out and joked that he has to bet because all he had was JTo. I folded and he showed the JTo. Fungool!
I lost another pot as well, and maybe a third one while I was at it, hence the need to rebuy the extra $100. In one hand, I raised preflop and got a call from John, one of the room's dealers who was playing before the room got busy. John was one of the few unknown elements at the table, but he was a dealer and an Asian guy, and had a hip hop sorta flair, style-wise, all of which suggested that he was a gamer and would be playing looser than most. The flop was A-high and John bet out. I flat called. The turn was a blank and he bet out again. I folded. He asked, "Pocket pair?" and I answered truthfully, "Yes. Did you have the Ace?" "No." Fungool! I knew it too. On some level I could feel that he was just taking a shot at pushing me off the hand with the Ace on the flop. Besides his admission, I saw when he mucked that he had one face card and his question, "Pocket pair?" seemed to suggest he was telling the truth.
And then, something happened. I can't tell you what, but I was suddenly tuned into the game. I had played with many of the players before, and I was getting cards. It was a symphony of good fortune aided by good play, the result of which saw me leaving the night up $375 ($675 on cashout), probably the big winner at the time of my cashout.
On one hand, I had QQ and John raised preflop, $17. I re-raised him $25 more and he flat called. The flop was all unders and he bet $25+. I hesitated and then raised all-in, since he only had about $55 behind. He took his time and then folded begrudgingly. He claimed to have JJ, and asked if I had him beat. "I can't tell you that, John. I have to keep some secrets." "I was truthful earlier about the Ace hand." "Yeah, but you won that hand and I was truthful then too. I can't give you any more information. You're the only one I fear at the table." It was simultaneously serious (he was giving me the most trouble) and joking around. I even went so far as to point to ASG and added, "If this donkey asked me, I'd tell him, but not you. You're too good." Later, when I was racking up, I admitted to the QQ and John was very pleased. There was no need to please him earlier, though.
It was an interesting game, largely because of bet sizing. Preflop, limped hands or cheap raises to $6 were fairly common. There were more than a few $12, $15 and even $22 preflop bets, but more often than not, it was a cheap game preflop. Post-flop, however, there was a decent amount of action, and people were willing to make calls for sizeable sums.
This setup though, really confused me, as one player, an Asian guy who was a regular at the old Wall Street Thursday game, was just playing so badly, I went so far as to offer him advice at the table. His name is Stan, I think, but my memory when it comes to names is shit. Sorry "Stan." Not so ironically, I know a lot of people from poker but don't recall their names.
In two hands, Stan slowplayed himself to death. In the first one, there was a limped pot with lots of players and he had AT on a Ten-high board. He let it check around on the flop from early position. He may've bet the turn. I know he bet the Queen river, and John won the pot with AQ or something similar. In another hand, he was in the blinds with 38o and flopped two pair. I had J9o and had limped in late position, since there were so many limpers. The flop was actually Q83. The turn was an Ace, I think. The river was a Ten, giving me a straight. On every street but the river, Stan checked. On the river, he bet $10, got a call from Shawn, and then faced a min-raise from me. Admittedly, I was mildly worried about KT, since we all limped, and my small bet would be likely to induce a call from some weaker hands and probably a raise from KT, at which point, I can lay down the hand if need be. He called and I took down the pot. What amazed me was that by this point, Stan had already gone into his pocket a few times for more cash and even made an ATM run. I finally said something to him after he lost another pot by slowplaying: "You have to bet your hands, man." It's a friendly game, and I was just trying to offer some kind words of advice. Yes, I was tapping the glass, but in this environment, it felt right.
When I packed up to leave a 10pm, I felt like a dickhead. I had brought two new players, and I was leaving early? Well, I wasn't worried about ASG or Lastman. They were doing fine. I had, however, decided prior to the game that I was leaving at 10pm, whether up or down. I really just don't feel the need to play long sessions on weeknights. Perhaps it is the call of the comf0rt of home. I guess it is that moreso than anything else. I need a long time to unwind after poker, too. Whatever the case, I packed up at 10 with my profit intact, and took a long walk to the 14th Street subway.
I plan to return to the game next week for the Thursday home/underground hybrid. I may even return on Sunday, if something is running that interests me more than Tuna Club's $150 tourney.
It's nice to be on a roll. Now I just have to keep rolling.
Until next time, make mine poker!
You Decide #67
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Well, I guess it is some success.
Last night, I played the 9:15 $26 PL Omaha MTT on Full Tilt and successfully made the money before busting right after the bubble broke. It was nice to cash instead of bubble, especially since I did not whole heartedly tighten up at bubble time. That said, I was the short stack from about 50 players left until about 30 players were left with 27 paying, at which point I was able to pick up some chips lifting me to 20 at my peak, and 23rd or so before this fateful hand occurred.
What I am really curious about is whether I need to slow down my betting in these late stages, near or immediately after the bubble. Did I play this hand correctly or would I have been better off being more conservative when its time to climb that money ladder? I think the money started increasing when we reached 24 players. 27-25th only paid out a little more than $10 above the buy-in.
You Decide #67
The blinds are 600/1200, and there are 27 players left, teh bubble having burst no more than three hands before this altercation. I have 14,612, good for around 23 or 24, I think. The shortest stack at our table has 7,202 and there are two stacks with less than 1k less than me, but everyone else has me covered.
I am in the cutoff (one spot to the right of the button) and am dealt Ah As 8d 4h. A player in middle position, RedDelicious (almost 34k in chips), limps for 1,200. It folds to me and I pot it for 5,400, over 1/3 of my stack. Everyone else folds and RedDelicious calls.
The flop is Th 9c 3h, giving me the nut flush draw and my lonely pair of Aces. Overall though, heads-up, I thought this was a good flop. RedDelicious checked and I pushed all-in. He called with Ad Ks Qs 9s, in other words, middle pair of 9s. The turn was a Jack of spades and the river was a King of diamonds, earning him the turned straight and my stack.
Let's just lay this out there. I got my money in good, and many people say that if you have Aces in PLO High, you should raise big preflop. But do those things matter as much when you are playing a draw-heavy game like tournament PL Omaha Hi (where the play is even looser) and you are climbing the money ladder.
On a related note, Astin played the same tourney and cashed. He was in good shape when I busted, so I hope he ended with a nice score.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I've set myself on an online poker diet. It's quite simple. When I can, I will play Full Tilt's nightly Pot Limit Omaha Hi tournament ($26) at 9:15 EST. I've been playing it randomly these last few weeks and I love it. Omaha is just so much more interesting than NLHE, particularly online. There is just so much going on, and the class of player is much lower than NLHE.
Make no doubt about it, I still love NLHE, but when I play it online it can be a bit tedious. Omaha, on the other hand, is practically unheard of in my live poker circles, so it has to be online.
The reason for the diet is three-fold: First, I want a real goal, something to drive me to focus more and play better. The tourney has a guaranteed prize pool of $5,000, so it's worth enough to be well worth the effort. Second, I want a reason to not jump into a bajillion tourneys, one after another. With the diet, I will do my best to play this one tourney and only this one tourney. That will hopefully make me pay even more attention and play my best, since I only get one game per night. Finally, the third reason is the fact that I have been bubbling or near-bubbling all sorts of Omaha tourneys a lot lately, and I need to figure out what the reason is. Admittedly, some times I just push too hard with a hand, but particularly around the bubble, I am playing well. I don't want to tighten up at the bubble because I want to play for 1st, not the lowest money spot, but I also should not be bubbling as often as I have.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
No, that title is not a euphemism for a high-class call girl.
I made my return to Tuna Club this weekend. Wifey Kim's friend from Georgia was on LI for the weekend, so she decided to head out there Saturday afternoon. I toyed with the idea of AC until I realized that I had a golf lesson Sunday morning. But live poker must be had, so that left me with Tuna Club.
The night started off mundane enough. For the longest time, I've kept to 1/2 NLHE, mostly because I've always played under-bankrolled and I figured the biggest fish would play 1/2 and the starting stacks at most casinos are damn close (in AC, the max buy-in at 1/2 is 300; for 2/5, it's 500).
Unfortunately, the best live game available to me on tap is the 2/5 game at Tuna Club. So, that simply means that I have to play 2/5 or not at all. And not at all was not going to happen.
I decided to arrive fashionably late, 6:40 or so. The 2/5 game always happens, unlike the 1/2 game; it's just a matter of time. I saw that the bad beat jackpot qualifying hands were reduced from 6:15-9pm, so I just figured that by 6:40, the game would be going, but probably not full.
Nope. Crickets. It was just me, the card room staff and one other dude. Well, it is what it is, so I got comfortable and waited it out.
The game started off 6-handed, maybe 7-handed. Whatever the case, I definitely felt out of my element. The stack sizes weren't too different, but the different blind structure changes everything about the game. At 1/2 NLHE, players raise to $12 preflop, usually as the standard preflop raise. At any given table, it varies. In some crazy acion tables, it's $15 or as high as $20, and in some of the nittier tables, it can be as low as $7. But the point is, I am used to those numbers. I sorta already know what some of them mean, with out any additional information. At 2/5, though, raises feel more...mathematical. Most bets are increments of $5, so preflop, a raise to $15 just appears to me as three units. $25 is five units. Maybe it's just me, but it just feels different. I don't think of $12 at 1/2 as six units. It's $12, a standard raise. At 2/5 though, my brain just processes things differently, especially preflop.
Here's a fine example, and the first hand for which I took notes. I held Q2h on the button and we were still shorthanded, maybe 7 people. I definitely felt out of my element at the 2/5 table, but I didn't want it to show. I should mention that I arrived on the earlier side (albeit, not early) for a reason. I had a feeling that the game would play tighter, earlier, and that would suit me better. I didn't want to play big pots, or so I thought.
As it turned out, my guess was sorta right. The game definitely felt more like a 1/2 game, but not because of the lack of big action, but rather because of the lack of big stacks. With $300 in front of me, I felt like I was buying in light. To my amazement, only one other player bought in for $300. The rest bought in for $200, except for some old guy people were calling Doc, who sat down and was immediately handed a rack with well over $5,000. (Side note, Doc is not actually a doctor. In fact, he seems to have some sorta job with the po-po, aka the fuzz. Oh the irony). Yeah, so Doc sits with at least $5,000. At the time, I was sitting in the 8seat, but I took the 5seat as soon as I noticed that Doc was sitting in the 2seat; it was the closest seat available on his left.
So, where were we. Ah yes. So there are maybe 7 players and I'm on the button with Q2h. There are at least two limpers when it gets to me and I start seeing the bets as units. Since there are at least four bets out there (there may've been three limpers, for 5 bets), I'm getting great odds on a 1 unit ($5) call (1:4). Any two will do at that rate in position, so I call. Admittedly, I think part of me wanted to prove to myself that I could call light in position in this higher-stakes game. See what I mean about having the different stakes throw off my game?
We see a flop and its 234 with two clubs. Everyone checks to me and I figure, 5 units are out there, I can bet a measely 2 units ($10) and probably take down this pot, since everyone is so disinterested. I bet $10 and this guy on my left (pretty clean-cut, may've had an Aussie accent; didn't talk much) calls. Everyone else folds. The turn is another heart, and suddenly I have a flush draw. It checks to me so I bet $20 this time, 4 units into the 9 unit pot. Surely, he'll fold to the continued pressure. But he calls. The river is a blank. Fuck. He checks, and I have to check. He shows 93h, for a weaker flush draw but a better pair. Lemon! I made so many mistakes in this hand, there are too many to count. I should've folded preflop, raised higher on the flop or checked, bet the river, etc., etc. and so forth.
So, pretty quickly, I lost $35, which is a small sum, but still set my mind in a defensive mode.
I finally had my chance of retribution when I was dealt 99 on the button. We were still shorthanded, but maybe picked up one more player since the last hand I mentioned. It limped to me and I decided to raise $20, since there were a bunch of limpers. To me, $20 was a sizeable raise, but it meant little to these seasoned 2/5 players. I got 4 callers, including the guy from the last hand, who was in the BB. The flop was 358, all unders. It checked to me and I bet $60. The BB called and everyone else folded. He only had another $30 or so behind after his call. The turn was a 4. He checked and I pushed all-in. Since he only had $30, I figured his call was a no-brainer. He called. The river was a blank. He showed the straight with 67o. I lost the hand. So much for retribution.
The thing that boggled me at the time was the fact that he was willing to call $15 more, out of position, with 67o and players left to act behind him. It wasn't as though 3 players already called my raise and he decided to come along for the ride. This really sent my mind racing, but I didn't let it harm my play. Rather, I used it to my advantage. There is always a learning curve, and it took this hand to learn, with confidence, that players would be calling and making plays pretty light. That should be no real revelation. After all, the NYC underground poker attracts a lot of action junkies; who else would be willing to locate an underground club and risk robbery or raid (and loss of bankroll and/or life) for the chance to play 2/5 NLHE.
I had been watching one particular Asian player who seemed to be playing a large percentage of hands with fairly light holdings. He was raising a lot, as well.
In EP, he raised preflop to $15, and when it folded to me in the BB, I decided to follow some of the table's lead and called very loosely with 56o. The flop was pretty nice, 763 with two clubs. I checked and he put out a standard bet of $20. The chance was pretty high that he was playing two high cards, so I decided to call with my middle pair, shitty kicker. The turn was another 6, giving me trips. I checked again and he bet out $35, utterly typical. I raised to $85 ($50 more). He agonized and then called. The river was a blank. I pushed all-in for $126. I should note here that I had rebought an extra $100 after the last hand I posted. My stack had dwindled to about $150 and I had gained some confidence after watching some of the loose action at the table.
My opponent took a long time before finally calling. He even asked, "Will you show me if I fold?" I hesitated. I didn't want to give away any information, but being utterly silent is not how I roll: "Fold first and then we'll see." People usually tell the truth out of instinct, so I figured that by asking for the fold, he would assume that I was, in fact, weak. I was also hoping that my losing image (from the two earlier hands and a hand or two where I called preflop and folded on the flop) would earn me a call. It worked. He finally called and then said "Good hand" as he mucked his cards to my three 6s.
This hand did a lot for my confidence, and the large river bet for value was the highlight. The rest was ballsy, perhaps marginal, and potentially just plain lucky in the face of inadvisable play.
I was finally dealt AA when I was on the button. The table had filled out some, including an Asian player two seats to my right who seemed really familiar. I had the distinct impression that he was a loose player, but I couldn't place where I first met him. I'll add that he reminded me of the Chipmunk guy I called a C-sucker at Turning Stone, but only by appearance, not demeanor. Another white dude sat on my immediate right, and while I don't have a particular reason to say this (at least none that I recall), I got the sense that he was willing to splash around a bit.
So, the Asian guy from the 56o hand (we'll just refer to him as Crazian) straddled for $10. It was clear that he was going to bring the action and that he was chasing his losses. There were two or three callers by the time it got to me, so I raised to $40, hoping to get maybe one caller. I got two, the only other Early Guy (a Caucasian guy, clean cut looking, about 28 with a slightly lazy eye that kept distracting me), and the white dude on my immediate right, who was wearing a Striped shirt.
The flop were all unders, obviously, J82, with two diamonds. It checked to me and I didn't want to tempt fate, so I bet $120. The Early Guy folded. I got the sense that he was playing a bit more conservatively than most. Stripey on my right, though, called.
The turn is a diamond 8, making two flush draws on the J828 board. Stripey checked to me and I pushed all-in. I had probably $200 or so behind, so it was a natural bet size, but felt like a lot. This is really where I finally bit the bullet and realized that if I was going to thrive at this table, I had to be willing to go broke. Small bets would not garner the folds I wanted.
In this case, he finally did fold and I mucked. A call there would've been ok, but I didn't want to be facing a flush draw if I could take down the already sizeable pot.
Winning that pot made me a bigger stack with about $600 in front of me. Around this time, the table had filled up and another table was starting. I prefer shorthanded play, so when W, one of the hosts of the game, asked if anyone wanted to switch to the shorthanded table to get it going, I quietly volunteered (she was playing and sitting on my immediate left). "You can't go, Jordan. You are up too much." Man, hearing that was like daggers in my ears. First, I wanted to move. Second, I didn't want her to point out my success. It wasn't a jinx that concerned me; I was more concerned with the perception that I was up a lot, although I don't know why that bothered me at the time. I think I wanted to maintain my loser image from earlier in the evening. I was only up $200 or so, after all. It wasn't like I was up 10 buy-ins. I wasn't even up one buy-in.
Well, thank god W wouldn't let me move. I folded a while until I was dealt QQ. There were 5 limpers at least and I was in late position, so I decided to raise to $30, and got two callers, the Early Guy and the Asian guy who reminded me of the Chipmunk. His name, I later learned, was G. I had definitely met him before. We saw a flop, ATx with two diamonds. Early Guy checks and G bet $40. I figured he must've had an Ace, so I folded. Early Guy called and I was super glad, since surely one of these guys had an Ace. By showdown, G showed 99 and took down the pot. Shit. At least I gained a lesson on the looseness of the table (and G generally).
I then lost a pot with AJh. I was on the button and raised to $15, getting the Crazian as the sole caller. The flop was all low cards with two hearts. It come 68T with two hearts. Check-check. Turn is another 8. He bets and I call. The river is another blank. He bet again and I folded. No big deal here. I figured he might be playing light and I had the draw, so I made the turn call. But the weird part was that after the hand, he asked me, "AJ?" Damn. I hate when players can call my hand. I used my usual deflective answer. "You had AJ?" as though I didn't understand him and thought he was announcing his hand. "No, did you have AJ?" I responded coyly, "That's one of the possible hands I could've had." The next hand was being dealt and I added after a pause, "So did you have my AJ beat?" He nodded with a downturned mouth, "Yeah." "Good thing I folded, then."
The insincerity in that conversation is absurd. I didn't want him to know his read was right, but I also wanted to use his statements to get more info. So I was asking him outright if my hand was good, but under the pretense that I never had the AJ in the first place. And frankly, he could've been lying to me too, although I do think that he had AJ beat.
I make my first truly good play a little while later when I was deal AKc in the SB. Preflop, someone raised it to $20, and by the time it got to me, there were a good number of callers, so I decided just to call to see what the flop brings. It didn't bring much, T86 with two diamonds, which in hindsight was a rather popular flop. It checked around and we saw a turn, another 6. It checked to a late position player who bet out $25 and got one caller before action got to me. I thought for a moment and replayed the hand. I eventually raise to $100 total. It just felt like the right time for a check-raise bluff. The board looked harmless, and I was hoping that (a) since I rarely re-raised, people would be willing to assume I had a hand, (b) my position (SB) lent itself to the fear that I was slowplaying a six or flopped two pair and a turned fullhouse, (c) the size of the bet looked like I wanted a call, and (d) momentum was going my way, which is also scary. It worked, and I took down the pot after everyone folded. Sweet.
The very next hand, I was dealt AQd on the button. There were a bunch of limpers, 7-8 in total, including the blinds, so I raised to $40, hoping to narrow the field. As you can see, my preflop raises got bigger and bigger as the night wore on, because I came to realize that 3x the BB meant jackshit to this crowd. Even with a raise to $40, I got 3 callers, the Crazian, the Early Guy and G. No surprises there. The flop was a beautiful Q86, rainbow, bringing me top pair, top kicker. It checked to me and I bet $150, which was about pot. Crazian folded and Early decided to call for less (about $125). I saw he had less than $150 preflop, hence the size of my bet. I wanted to push out the other players and make it difficult for him. I wouldn't mind if he folded since the pot was big enough already, but I didn't want to bet an amount that would leave me open to a scary bet from my calling opponent on the turn. G folded and we saw a turn and river which ended up being unimportant. I showed my AQd and took down the hand.
I think this, incidentally, is when G asked me if he knew me from somewhere. I thought he looked familiar when he walked in, but after playing poker geography (home games, AC rooms, underground NYC clubs) we couldn't figure out the connection. He definitely was familiar though, and I knew we had met before because the G name felt familiar.
I decided to push my luck and raised to $15 in LP with KTd. Crazian, Early Guy and one other player called. The flop was JT3, rainbow. It checked to me and I bet $40. The Early Guy was the only caller. The turn was a blank and we check-checked. The river was another blank and he bet $60. I thought for a while before deciding what to do. Paying attention is not usually my strong suit, but when I really try, it can pay dividends. I remembered the hand earlier when I folded QQ on the Ace-high board and G and Early took it to the river. Early actually bet that river and G called with his 99, winning the pot. I remember saying to G, "Good call," at the time, and I really meant it. It was a helluva call. Thinking back to that, I realized that Early was willing to bluff the river, particularly if his draw didn't hit. I thought for a moment more and something told me that he didn't have my 2nd-best pair beat. I called and was right. He had Q9o for a busted open-ended straight draw.
Not much later, I ended up racking up. I could tell that some people wanted me and my big stack to stick around rather than have me leave and rathole my winnings, but I had set a firm exit time at 10pm. That was for a few reasons, but the best reason was that if a poker room is going to be robbed or raided, it would happen late night, when there is a lot of cash to be had. I wanted to leave before then. I also had golf early the next morning and I wanted to have some time to unwind before I hit the sack.
I racked up with $992, a $592 profit for the session. Most importantly, I gained a new confidence in that 2/5 game. I learned a lot about how the players acted, and as G.I. Joe once taught me, Knowing is Half the Battle (cue chorus: G.I. Joe!).
I'll be playing at another underground club on Thursday. It should be nice to see some new digs.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Idiocy is everywhere, including in the legal world. Fairly regularly, I have to appear at conferences for my cases and hash out ridiculous document requests with my adversaries. Conferences sound fancy, but they are anything but. In reality, a court conference in New York usually involves entering a cattle-call of a room, filled with attorneys yelling out their case names in the desperate hope that their adversaries are all present. The call time for today's (and most) conference was 9:30 am, but I don't think all of my adversaries were there until 10:30, the earliest. This was still quite an accomplishment; in some courthouses, I have seen people show up at 11:30 or later without any consequences. In some ways, it makes sense to show up late. You don't have the hastle or time-suck of waiting for your adversaries and, as already mentioned, there are no consequences. But I like to think of myself as a professional, so if call time is 9:30, I'm there five minutes early.
At these conferences, once you find your adversaries, the first step is to try to work out whatever issues you may have. You do this on a form that essentially becomes the conference order, i.e., a document signed by the judge that proclaims what needs to be done and by what timeline. Sometimes, we can work out most of the details ourselves. For instance, in this case, I had demanded some documents in early June, so I put in the order that the defendants would have to answer in 30 days. They had no problem with that, so we were done and done.
But other times, you get nitpicking adversaries that either are too stupid or otherwise are trying to play games, and therefore ask for the most ridiculous things. That happened today. It's a minor thing, at best, but it was still insane.
The defendants had requested two things in one of their prior demands (a written document mailed to one's adversary requesting, usually, documents relevant to the case). The demands were: (1) a list of all medical care providers and (2) authorizations for the providers. This is standard, very standard. Whenever there is an injury, of course the other side would be entitled to authorizations and information about the medical care providers, so that they could obtain medical records and assess the situation. Me, being a great guy, got the defendants the response almost immediately. Fortunately, the great majority of my cases are very good cases, and this case in particular should be a walk in the park, so I do everything very quickly to move the case along. (For a reminder on why plaintiffs want to move cases quickly and why defendants benefit from intentionally delaying litigation, check out THIS POST).
So, we are sitting in the court room, haggling over this and that, when my adversary finally makes a request. "You didn't fully answer our demand." "What? What didn't I answer?" This came as a surprise to me, but I was open to the idea that perhaps I missed something. "We asked for a list of doctors. You didn't provide that." "I gave you the authorizations for all doctors. It's right behind my response, attached. Look," I took the response from her hands and turned the page, "right here and here." "Well, how do I know that those are all of the doctors. I need a list." I turned back to the front page, "See, right here, it says, 'Attached are authorizations for all medical care providers.'" The woman didn't get it, or more likely, she was just being a piggish jerk, "But we asked for a list. Why didn't you answer the demand. I need a list." I finally turned around (we were sitting in rows of seats and she was behind me when she first started this line of conversation).
"Are you serious?" She stared at me blankly. I continued. "Are you really asking me to go through the two authorizations and write it out as a list. This isn't something you could somehow work out at your office, you know, looking at the authorizations and copying the information into a list? You really want me to do that. You wanted the authorizations and a list, but the authorizations are a list."
"Fine! We'll ask the clerk." When you hit a stalemate, you ask the judge's law clerk, and they do some rough justice. If they know what they are doing, great, but a lot of the times, they decide by the seat of their pants....and that is why I had to return to my office to write a list of the two doctors my client saw. What fucking idiocy.
Of course, the adversary also had the gall to either lie to me or the clerk. The adversary wanted to push back some deposition dates. Depositions are basically sessions where the opposing party gets to ask questions of your witness in front of a court reporter. It is, in my estimation, the biggest and most important part of discovery because you get answers immediately, without the filter of opposing counsel, and most facts are in people's heads, not on paper. I had set the dates for September, in order to allow us all to enjoy a vacation-heavy August. She wanted it pushed to October. For the record, I knew almost instinctively that this was all her attempt to drag the litigation out (check out that previously-linked post for her reasons to delay litigation).
"Why can't you do it in September?" I asked.
"We are really busy that month. Our calendar is nuts. We don't have anyone available."
First off, she knows now, in June, that her calendar in September is full for the entire month! Bullshit! But, okay, maybe things are a bit nuts for her. Regardless, I insisted that we bring the issue to the clerk. We haggled over other issues and finally saw the clerk.
I, being the gentleman that I am, let the adversary explain the situation, since it was she who was seeking a change. Her story was different, though: "We would like depositions moved to October." The clerk asked, "Why October? Why can't you do it in September?" This is when the adversary's story changed, "We need his employment records before his deposition. They are very important to our defense." I thought, "WHAT?! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR BUSY CALENDAR, YOU LYING SCUMBAG!" Instead, though, I said this: "No problem. We'll get you the employment authorization within 7 days (it was already in the order that I would provide it in 30). My quick thinking worked. The adversary's weak excuse was negated by my "kindness." I guess it pays to think on your toes.
After conferences like that, I am always amazed at the way defense counsel acts (for the record, I am sure they think the same things about me...they just happen to be wrong). This bitch wants to give me shit because she is too stupid to create a list from two authorizations. Then she lies to either me or the clerk in a pathetic effort to drag out litigation. I can guarantee you dollars-to-donuts that she will delay the deposition beyond September anyway. But she still has to play those stupid games.
My career attracts a lot of assholes, but it attracts douschebag morons just as much.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Lord knows why I haven't been posting. I guess I've just been too busy with other things, poker included.
This weekend was like a poker binge. I spent some time Friday night and Saturday losing a couple of Omaha and Omaha 8 tourneys, after making it deep. I pretty much bubbled the three or four long events I played, so it was frustrating to say the least. More often than not, I got my money in good, but against players who had decent draws that eventually hit. It's lemony, and I spent some time thinking about where I went wrong; the only conclusion I could come with (at least in reference to the hands that busted me near the bubble) was that I could perhaps tighten up as we near the money, but that just isn't my style. I suppose I'd rather bubble trying to double up to a sizeable stack that would make a deep run possible, rather than playing survival poker and making the lowest money spot. It's definitely something I need to mull over, though, because there are few things in poker as disheartening as going deep in a large field tourney only to end up with $0 and a wasted day.
On that note, I spent my Saturday night going deep into a live tournament at Dawn's apartment and then bubbling for $0. I had amassed a big stack very early, at one point holding just about every rebuy in my stack (there were 7 rebuys at my table at that point and I had a stack 8x the size of the starting stack). Luck helped. I flopped Broadway with AK and had Paul-in-the-Hamily push all-in on the QJT flop with his QT. Once again, though, I have to take some credit. My raise preflop did not scare him off, probably because it's me raising preflop. People underestimate the benefit of a loose image in situations like that. I then literally got lucky in a hand where I called an all-in with QQ against K-Roll's KK (K-Roll = Karol, the other half of the I Had Outs crew). The hand was a doozie.
I limped in EP with QQ and blinds of 100/200, expecting to re-raise. RonLad (K-Roll's brother, who plays a loose game) raised to 600 and then K-Roll raised to 1200. I re-raised to 3000, RonLad called all-in, and K-Roll pushed for another 5k or so more. I was the big stack and had her covered by probably 3k or more, but I didn't want to take such a big hit. I was trying to figure out whether she saw an opportunity to make a play against two loose players or if she actually had the goods. The re-re-raise told me she had it, but when we were trying to figure out how much I had to call, she said, "Wait, he raised to $3,000?" I guess she thought Ron had raised when he called my push, meaning that she thought I was not a factor. To cripple K-Roll would mean that I would be the collosal chip leader, and after trying to get a tell from her, I decided that I had to take the chance that she was making a play against two loosey gooseys. I even asked K-Roll if she had Aces, because it is surprising how often people will tell you the truth. In the end, I made the call. Of course, I was wrong. RonLad had 88, but K-Roll had the goods, KK. The turn, though, was a Queen, and I amassed a huge stack. FYI, these last two hands are out of order. I busted Ron and K-Roll before Pauly pushed into me.
Well, all those chips didn't mean squat because even though I was in good shape at the final table, things just fell apart. I was re-raised a bunch of times where I had to lay down hands. I also had a tremendous amount of trouble playing against one guy, a Scrabble player who played poker in the oddest way. It honestly felt like a Scrabble player playing poker, because he seemed so analytical and clueless at the same time.
I had one funny run that is worth noting. Karol pushed all-in with only 450 or so, UTG, with blinds probably at 200/400. I raised to 1450, pushing out a couple of players, who groaned. I had J9 and she had Q9. I was willing to make this play because if I isolated, I was getting good pot odds, and frankly, I was also willing to double up K-Roll if need be. She won, then amassed about 1800 in chips, before busting to me. So, in the end, I invested 450 to keep K-Roll in the tourney and then "cash out" on my investment 1800 when I busted her, not a bad return on my investment.
In the end, the blinds caught up with me and I think I ended up all-in with an Ace against KQ. The KQ hit and I was busted. It was mildly disheartening, but I did my best to not let it bother me. I want to learn from my losses, but not dwell on them.
I returned to the Tuna Club on Sunday, since wifey Kim was in PA for a bridal shower. Thank god wifey Kim has so many friends. It gives me time for poker and keeps us a social unit.
I arrived at the club at 3pm for the 3pm tourney...and there was only one other player there. It was maddening. I HATE IT when games don't go off. You end up sitting around like a douschebag with nothing better to do. By 4pm, YES, ONE HOUR LATER, there were only 5 players willing to play the tourney. I finally got up and announced: "OK, guys. I'm out of here. I wait an hour and then I leave. That's it. Either we play something or I'm out." Finally, people gave in and we started a 6-handed $100+20 tourney (the juice on such a short-handed game makes me ill to think of it), with one of the dealers in the game.
It was a fun game, too. There was the usual sloppy guy who was out soon enough. The dealer/player busted next. But it was a long form tourney with 20 min blinds but a very slow structure, so it was a good while before our next bustout. The four players were me, a guy who I will only call The Dentist, a Chick, and a Friendly Guy. I'd played with the Dentist a handful of times from back in the day Genoa Poker Club days (aka Salami Club), and he was a good, conservative player. I had seen the chick around, and quite frankly, she was probably the person I was most concerned with at the table, mostly because she carried herself well, as though she knew what she were doing. We had some heated words back and forth after one hand. In the hand, it was just me and Friendly, and I made two light calls with K4h. I was in the BB and he was in the SB. The flop was AKJ and we both checked. The turn was another Ace and he bet out. I called, figuring that he did not have the Ace. If he did, he would've raised preflop (4-handed) or on the flop. Friendly was, well, friendly, but by his own account, he wasn't the most adept player. He was better than he let on, which I think he later admitted was a calculated act, but he was not playing fancy. If he had that ace, he would've bet it. The river was a Ten, and when he bet, I called again, taking down the pot. The Chick chimed in, "How are you calling there?" I figured we were being friendly, so I said, "It wasn't that hard. I knew he didn't have the Ace." She was snooty. "How about the Queen?" "There was no chance he had the Queen either." She didn't like my confidence. "Oh, you knew that he didn't have an Ace or a Queen. It's that easy, huh? You just knew it." I sighed and then did my best to set her straight, "Look, we can discuss this later, but the bottom line is, I had a read and I went with it, and I was correct. If I were wrong, we'd be having another conversation, but I was correct. That's what we do...we make reads." Fucking imbecile.
When we started 4-handed, I was the shortstack, along with the Dentist, who doubled up a couple of times, leaving me in the dust. That's when I announced that I was a Short Stack Specialist. This is one of my favorite gimmicks. People just don't know how to respond. It's obviously tongue-in-cheek, and at first is taken as such, but the truth is, I actually am pretty good on a short stack. Calling oneself a SSS probably also gets a few more folds.
Using my SSS gimmick, I pretty much pushed about 5-6 times at opportune spots, without getting called once. Long story short, it was no time before I was the chip leader, with Friendly close behind. The Dentist was slowly being blinded out, as he tried to push a few times, eventually losing to Friendly. The Chick was starting to bleed chips and my relentless aggression was obviously getting to her. She also eventually fell to Friendly, which left Friendly with a good 3:1 advantage in chips when we got heads up.
It took no time to discuss making a deal, since it was a winner-takes-all tourney. He suggested $200-$400, and I countered that I wanted at least $100 profit. Since the buyin was $100+20+ a $10 toke for extra chips, that meant I wanted $230. He agreed and then admitted that he was initially just setting numbers for 1st and 2nd place, and he had expected us to play it out. At that point, I realized that I probably made a bad deal and started to haggle. "Well, to be frank, I gave myself a pretty bad deal..." I was going to continue on, but Friendly did the friendly thing and offered, "I'll take care of the tip." "Deal!" Without having to tip, my $230 win was really closer to $250. And yes, it sucks tipping when the dealers get an automatic $10 toke, but when someone else is paying the tip, it's a lot easier to accept it.
I guess that's another lesson learned. I should've taken more time with the chop discussion. Of course, after 2 days of bubbling, I think I just really wanted to put a win under my belt, but I probably left some equity on the table.
If all goes well, I'll be back at Tuna Club on Wednesday for the 5/10 LO8 cash game. I may skip it though, since this is one helluva week. Meanwhile, online poker doesn't really register. My interest is very low...but don't be too surprised if you see me online tonight anyway.
Until next time, make mine poker!
HoP in Print
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The title of Chapter 3 of Michael Matusow's new autobiography, Check-Raising the Devil (whose title is a bit too close to the horrid Swimming with the Devilfish):
Hmm...I'll just consider it an unintentional homage, rather than outright trademark infringement.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Funtime Poker (AC Trip Report)
Monday, June 08, 2009
8:10 AM on a Saturday. That's when Alceste was supposed to pick me up for our trip down to AC. That's right, folks. I woke up BEFORE 8 am on a Saturday. Aside from maybe golf, I don't see myself waking up that early for any reason other than poker. That's for sure.
So, I'm still cleaning the crust from my eyes when Alceste pulled up. I piled into the car, wearing my High on Poker t-shirt, a white hoodie, my green cargo pants with a dozen zipped up pockets, and my backpack, stuffed with random assorted crap. I swear, I travel like a hobo or a boy scout, always prepared.
We took the drive over to pick up Dawn Summers and when she finally came out to join us, he boyfriend was in tow. Since Dawn recently bought a Beamer, let's just call the boyfriend Beamer too, since it matches nicely with his real name and I'm not sure if his name is public. Beamer, as it turns out, was a very affable guy and I wholly approve.
The drive down to AC wasn't too bad, and we arrived in 2.5 hours or so. Our first stop was the Official Atlantic City Casino/Hotel of HighOnPoker, the Showboat. It was about 11:10am when I go to the poker cashier cage and bought my way into the 11am tournament for $125. Alceste also bought into the tourney, but Dawn went for cash and Beamer decided to search out some blackjack (shiver).
The tourney started off well enough. There were maybe 5 or 6 people already sitting and the other seats were all dead stacks at my table. After a hand or two, I was dealt KK and decided to simply call the 300 raise from an EP player. I got the sense that while I was away, people were stealing the dead stacks' blinds like mad, so I hoped to conceal the strength of my hand and maybe let the raiser catch a pair. Now, normally, I raise with KK here. I'm not stupid. But the stacks were 15,000 and the blinds were 50/100, so I felt like changing things up.
The flop came down Q8x. I figured I was good, so when my opponent bet out (300 again, I think), I decided to just flat call. There wasn't much that could hurt me, as there wasn't even a flush draw out there. The turn was another Queen, and this got me very nervous. My opponent bet 500 or so, so I decided just to flat call. He might have KQ, AQ, hell, QJ, so I didn't need to lose too much on this hand. If I raise, he has the option of re-raising me big, and I don't want to give him that chance.
The river was another Queen. Ah. I can't tell you 100% why, but for some reason, I knew that he didn't have the case Queen at this point. Ok, maybe I figured, odds-wise, that it was unlikely, but it felt like more than that. My opponent bet out 1,000, and I barely hesitated before raising to 5,000. I figured if he had the Queen, he'd push, so when he called, I knew I was good. I showed my KK for QQQKK, and he showed his counterfeited 88, for QQQ88. In case you missed it, he flopped a set of 8s and turned a full house, so that river was tragic for him. I had 4 outs and I didn't even know it.
I still was only up a small amount, though, and I ended up giving it back to a calling station that I did not realize was a calling station when I decided to try to push him off of a hand. That sucked, but lesson learned. Amazingly, though, I was the only one who learned the lesson, as I then watched three other players try to push him off of hands, including one that he won with 22 and all overcards on the board.
Our table broke when I was still at about 12,500, but blinds were escalating and everything went to shit at the 400/800 blind level. I was in the SB with my 12,500 or so and called the extra 400, holding 67o. There were three late position limpers. The flop was 58J, giving me an open-ended straight draw. It checked around. The turn was a 9, giving me my straight. I bet out and faced a raise from late position. I had already seen the guy raise another players' bet and I didn't think that he would play the only hands I feared from LP (QT and T7, the only two better straights). I called and when the river Ace came out, I pushed for a modest sum. He called and showed QTo and I was out.
I put my name on the 1/2 NLHE list (3rd on the list) and found a spot at an empty blackjack table, where I took out a magazine and killed some time. I was called for a 1/2 game about 15 minutes later.
I sat down around the 7 seat. About that same time, a guy in the 3 seat was moving to the 4 seat. Whenever I sit at a new table, I look at stack sizes first, then at the players themselves to get a feel for (a) how their day is going thus far, and (b) whether it looks like they have a clue. I want to sit on the left of the bigger stacks/better players. I also want to avoid being to the right of the looser players, since it can significantly limit one's ability to know when it is safe to act. So, when the 3 seat, who we will call Marty Gras, in honor of the Mardis Grah beads he was wearing (they give them out free at the New Orleans-themed Showboat entrance), moved a seat over, I decided to change my seat as well. I changed mostly because the guy on my immediate left looked like a loose cannon, a squat, bald, angry/goofy looking (that's one helluva combination), Hispanic guy in his mid-30s. To his left was a chick and a rock-ish looking older gentleman. When I moved, I had Marty Gras on my immediate left, which wasn't necessarily ideal. But at least I had better position on the hispanic gent, who had a decent stack, and the players near me didn't particularly conern me.
Marty had been waiting for a seat when I was waiting, so I had saw him earlier and he appeared to be a rather fun-time type guy. From our conversations at the table, that seemed accurate, too. We buddied up pretty quickly. He was all about having a good time. He wore sunglasses, but clearly wasn't taking the game too seriously. According to him, he was just killing time waiting for a free mp3 player drawing. He asked, "What's an mp3 player anyway? I'll probably just give it to my nephew." He was also allegedly up several grand from table games.
To my right was a woman in her 40s or so, who seemed all business, but after a while, she got into the fun, too. I will admit, I was a bit bored at the table, so I started the gimmicks, meant largely to loosen up a table. I started with the classic min-raise toughguy. Basically, I announce "RAISE" like I'm a tough guy and then violently through $4 into the pot. It is truly remarkable how often I win those pots, particularly after getting many preflop calls and some flop calls; I guess people just get thrown off their game by the antics. But they all laugh, too, and that's key.
Yesterday (Monday), I received an email from one of the players who joined the table in the 1 seat about a half-hour to an hour after I sat down, who we will call ASG. He arrived just as I started the min-raise toughguy routine. This is what he had to say about the table:
"I can honestly say it was an enjoyable time playing with you on Saturday. Too many of the 'pros' don't realize you can both keep people at the table and not notice your skill just by not being so serious all the time. Most of the casual players are just looking for a good time and some free drinks (myself included) so being a little sociable goes a long way. It was even memorable enough that I remembered to check out your blog. Some good reads in there."
Thanks, ASG! He really hit on the point of the antics. It's to enjoy my time at the table, and hopefully make it a fun experience for everyone. After all, you can't call your opponents out as slowrolling cocksuckers every time you play, or you'd be miserable.
Amazingly, though, the min-raise toughguy gimmick had an unexpected result. It basically caught on like wildfire, and soon three or so other players were stealing my gimmick, raising preflop to $4 and/or continuation betting $2 or $4. In fact, it sorta ruined the table for a while, because it dried up the action. So, it wasn't a 100% success, but it was fun nonetheless. Eventually, things loosened up again, mainly when I raised an actual amount larger than $5 and got some joking flack from the min-raise toughguy disciples. But whatever the case, the mood was set, and aside from the angry squat Hispanic across the table from me (who I would catch at times glancing at me with the mixed look of, "WTF, man!" and "Nobody loves Eeyore.") , it was a real funtime table.
Sadly, I spent most of my time down about $100-150 from my $300 stack, but eventually went on a late tear, peaking at probably only $150 or so up, and ending at $55 profit at cash (-$70 total, because of the $125 tournament loss). Meanwhile, Alceste was continuing the tradition that whenever I play a Showboat tourney with friends, one of us inevitably makes the money. He made it to the top 5 spots, ITM, and then did a five-way chop. At the time, he was the bigstack with all of 10.5 BB, so it was a no-brainer chop. He took down close to a grand for his efforts.
It was already 3pm or so when Alceste finished his tourney and I was feeling hungry. The only thing I had to eat was an egg sandwich at 8am. Normally, I eat very regularly. Eating is one of my hobbies. I even do it at least 3x a day. But when I play poker, skipping a meal or waiting to eat is no issue. So, I was definitely hungry at 3pm, but I should've been fucking starving.
Dawn got up from her cash game as well, and the three of us went to Showboat's House of Blues restaurant, where B joined us halfway through our meal. He had actually been at the very other end of the Boardwalk, at the Tropicana, before returning to join us. The food was decent, but not great. The blackened chicken sandwich I ordered lacked flavor; the fries were fries. Alceste's catfish nuggets looked good, but the mac & cheese also lacked flavor. Dawn did not seem too impressed by her buffalo chicken fingers, but they tasted ok to me. And yes, I have no shame when it comes to eating off of other peoples' plates.
After our meal, we decided to change scenery, and headed over to Harrahs, a hotel away from the main Boardwalk stretch. Upon arrival, we headed to the poker room, where Alceste and I were seated at the same 1/2 NLHE table. We each bought in for $300 at the cage before returning to the table and realizing that maybe two or three other people at the table of 9 had stacks over $150. There were a couple of players who bought in for $60, the minimum, and would just reload every time they went busto. That's not a bad table to be at if you don't mind $60 swings and you like to gamble, but it isn't ideal, either, since potential wins are capped and you don't have the opportunity for more complex play/decision-making. Frankly, we should've both requested a table change, but since our table was already not full, it would take a while before the casino would let us move and the competition seemed butter-soft.
I lost my first hand with QQ. Preflop, I raised to $12, I think, and got one or two callers. For the record, after this hand, I did not get any other two-digit preflop calls besides on debacle of a hand we'll discuss in a minute. Any other time, if I bet $10 or more, everyone folded. It was really a shitty table, in hindsight (hell, I knew it at the time, too...my bad). The flop was J65. I don't remember the exact betting pattern, but I ended up doubling up a player with 66 (for a flopped set). I remember when he raised me, I thought that this was the kind of chump to make that play with TPTK. I was right, probably, but this time, he actually had a set, so I was down $150 or so pretty quickly.
I fought my way back with small pots, all the time chatting with the table and having fun. It was just one of those days. I was trying to enjoy myself and succeeding. My neighbor to the left was a tough-looking guy in his late 20s/early 30s. He wasn't big, but carried himself in a manner that let you know that he wasn't one to fuck with. We became buddies quickly and chatted for most of the game.
I was recovering from my early losses nicely when an Asian gentleman wearing a black sportscoat over a black t-shirt sat down next to Alceste. Rumor had it from my side of the table that he was a dealer from Borgata. Alceste raised from EP to $7 and I raised to $21 with my TT. The Asian guy called from the BB and everyone else folded. The flop was T64 or something similar. Now, Asian guy was one of those short buy-in guys, and he only had less than $50 left behind him, so when he checked to me, I checked as well. I was hoping he'd hit an Ace and think he was good, or would otherwise just bluff the turn, because obviously, if I checked in that situation, I must have missed my two over cards. The turn was a 9 and he pushed. I practically insta-called. At showdown, though, he showed his 78o for the Ten-high straight. If I bet him off of the hand on the flop, I'd be counting his money. As it were, he caught his 4 outter and I paid him off. LEMON!
About 2 hands later, he left our table and went to the table right behind us. Some of the players were calling it a dick move (to take my money and run), but it didn't bother me. These things never do, since I accept that people can do whatever they want with their money, even if the money was formerly mine. BUT, this was another funtime table, with a lot of lighthearted smack talk, so I got up with a stack of chips, walked to the Asian's new table, and sat in the seat immediately to his left and stared him down. He looked at me, kinda guiltily as I stared him down for about .5 seconds before laughing and telling him good luck; I then returned to my table. I was just busting chops and having a good time. After all, if you are not winning, you have to do whatever you can to enjoy yourself.
Paul-in-the-Hamily was also at Harrahs, coincidentally, and he joined us for our last hour or so at the table after Alceste spotted him and I called him over with a "Pauly! KA-KAW!" It's the signal. Paul's addition just made for more funtimes at the table, as I treaded water.
With that in mind, the drinking began in earnest around 8:30, since we had agreed to a 10pm exit time. By 10pm, I was down $144 at Harrahs, which really equals my initial loss of QQ v. 66. Amazing how in the end, it all can really come down to one significant hand.
The ride home was easy. The company made for a good time as we chatted about all sorts of random shit. I got home a little after 1am, satisfied by the poker, even if my pocket was $214 lighter.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Through Riggstad, I found a great post by Loretta8 which quite astutely explains some of the issues with the BBT payouts. Go read Loretta's post for the details, but he makes some general comments about how unfortunate it is that people do not actually play in the WSOP after winning a seat, instead deciding to keep the cash. Now, I'll tell you right now, I am one of those people, and frankly, that will be the focus of this post. But let me quickly summarize some of Loretta's points first.
The first point is simply that if people do not play the WSOP using the seats won from FullTilt via the BBT, then FullTilt is not getting the intended benefit of the free prizes. Presumably, FT is willing to make such generous offers because they hope to have the winners wear FT gear (as a FT ad) when playing in the WSOP. I don't think this is the sole benefit to FT, since they also get an ass-ton of linkage from blogs, but it's a good point Loretta makes.
Loretta then goes on to explain that it is not necessarily the bloggers' fault, either, since FT did little to help him get to the WSOP when he won his seat via a prior BBT. He had difficulty making the withdrawal and FT pretty much shortchanged him $2,000 (it's more complicated than that, but this is just background). FT also didn't advertise or promote the BBT, which would've been mutually beneficial to blogs in general, the BBT and FT by gaining more players, more rake, more visibility, and more players who are playing to actually get into the WSOP.
But this last one is all mine. If FullTilt wanted to create a series of tournaments for bloggers that would be played to send a blogger or bloggers to the WSOP, they should have done that. Instead, they (reasonably) relied upon the already-established weekly blogger tourneys. That was their mistake, although not an obvious mistake at the time. Here is why:
I play the blogger tourneys, whether they are under the BBT or not. So if I plan on playing in blogger tourneys nearly weekly and then someone says, "Hey weekly tournament, here is some extra stuff," I am not going to suddenly stop playing because of free stuff. It doesn't work that way. On the other hand, if Full Tilt decided to make their own series of tourneys with the express intention that the winner(s) will go to the WSOP, I would choose not to play because I knew I couldn't play in the WSOP.
Let me put it this way: When I first won a TOC seat, I was very glad. When I won another and then a third one, suddenly, I was in contention to actually earn a WSOP $2k package via the BBT. Was I then supposed to stop playing because I knew I couldn't go? I never intended, when I signed up for my first BBT tourney, to go after the WSOP seats. That's why I had played so few tourneys. I was leaving it up to the players who could go. But when it was in my grasp, was I supposed to turn away $2,000? Of course not!
On a side note, there is another simple solution to FT's woes: pay a reduced amount if the money is not used for the WSOP. I don't know how this could be done (perhaps pay out the seat in cash at the WSOP in person to the winners, and if the person no-shows, send them 75 or even 50% into their FT account), but it could be done. And I wouldn't mind it either. That would be FT's perogative, as long as they announce it in advance.
My basic point is this: You can't lead a thirsty horse to water and then force him not to drink.
Of course, FT hasn't really made any statements on the issue, and frankly, they probably don't care. More likely, the BBT is ending because it takes a lot of work for a few people and there isn't any discernible benefit to anyone but the bloggers. I don't have a problem with FT or the BBT, and I certainly don't have any problems with the main organizer of the BBT, AlCantHang. Quite the opposite, I thank them all for their generosity.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Showing Hands From Different Angles
Thursday, June 04, 2009
It seems like the audience is split when it comes to whether it ever makes sense to show hands, but from the answers, two potential dividing lines seem to be the cause for the rift. The first is whether a player is an online poker player or a live player; the second is the style of a person's play or perhaps it is better worded as their overall theory on poker.
The first dividing line, the online vs. live divide, makes perfect sense. I come from a live poker background, from playing cards as kids to setting up homegames to eventually making trips to underground NYC clubs and AC (next trip, this Saturday). Online poker came into play after my home game had been running for a while, so my heart is in live poker. After all, I've repeatedly called online poker the methadone of my live poker heroin habit.
For an online player, showing cards makes a lot less sense than to a live player. This overlaps a lot with the next dividing line, so I will try to limit this analysis to the differences between online and live play, as opposed to the different playing styles between online and live play. For an online player, there is a lot less information available. There is some information and some online poker players may argue that there is a lot of information, but its of a different sort. In online play it makes little sense to show your cards because you can never be sure what the effect will be. Are the other players even paying attention? Are they six-tabling, such that when you think they saw your exposed cards and will play accordingly, the reality is that they missed the exposed cards entirely?
Also, if you are willing to accept that less information is available in online play, the incremental information given to your opponents by exposing your cards can be a lot more damaging. After all, if all they know is that your name is HighOnPoker (indicating loose play or an action junkie) and that your icon is a white, fluffy dog (indicating, potentially, an ironic sense of humor given the name or a softer image if you were to assume that the person loves fluffy little dogs) then showing that you are willing to call with 75o to defend your BB is a lot of incremental information. It can essentially verify that nebulous image (created by name and avatar, as well as play where cards were not exposed) of looseness that can be exploited later by your opponents. As Blinders correctly pointed out in his comment, if I show that I am willing to play the hammer, even if I adjust accordingly, at some point I will play the hammer again, and some players may be ready for it. (Note: I play and show the hammer for many reasons that are really irrelevant to this discussion, but the point by Blinders was well-made).
Also, there are a lot more hands in online play, so changing gears is a different situation. In a live game, over an hour, we may see 30 hands or so, whereas in an online game, we can potentially see twice as many. Plus, with players changing at a much faster rate online, one's image is constantly being reset as new players sit.
Consider this. In a live game, if you donk up an early hand and then show for tilt value, you are are also advertising that you are one loose mofo, meaning that when you play your AA later, you are more likely to get paid off. That might happen 3 hours from now, because once your opponent gets an image in his head, its hard to shake. Your LAG image may continue for a loooong while, even though you hadn't reached another showdown in a while. In contrast, at an online game, players cycle through a lot quicker and table image is a lot less certain. By acting a certain way in a live game, I can get my cards to have greater meaning in the eyes of my opponents (for instance, acting like a goofball). Online, that is a lot harder, since self-expression is limited to chat (which can be ignored or overseen) or play (which can be expensive).
The other dividing line, style of play, is somewhat related to online vs. live because those games favor different styles. Online poker may favor a more mathematical approach to the game, in which case showing your hands has little benefit and a lot of pitfalls. On the flipside, live poker, with additional information available (to give and receive) means that a player could play the players a lot easier, rather than the math or the cards. For instance, calling a raise with 47d in LP is a bad play mathematically in most circumstances, but if you know that the raiser is pissed at you for being a LAG donkey and he'll pay you off big time if you hit, then calling may be a proper play, live. All that information matters.
So, it comes down to strategy. A "feel" player (although, it's less about feel and more about reading your opponents and manipulating their mindset) may benefit from showing his cards. A "math" player will not.
There are 1,000,000 paths to success in poker. In some, showing cards is a cardinal sin; in others, it's a smart strategy. And I suppose that's all there is to it.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Show and Tells
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Hi folks. Mr. May here, bringing you more May-ey goodness.
Today's post is merely a reiteration of what I believe to be one of the most common misconceptions about live poker: showing your cards is always a mistake. As I have said before, this seemingly standard belief is just plain wrong. But before I explain why it is wrong, let me drop a quote in here that I found via Poker Grump, taken from Tommy Angelo from Elements of Poker, p. 100:
"When you fold face up, the message that is sent to the table, whether you intend it or not, and whether you realize it or not, is this: "Dear table full of people. It is very important to me what you think of me. It is so important that I am willing to give you the most generous gift of information I can--I will show you my cards--just so you know that 1) my decisions were justified, and also that 2) I am unlucky. I know it will cost me money to reveal my cards and feelings to you. But that's okay. That's how much I value your opinion of me."
If you always fold face down without ever showing even one card to anyone, the message that is sent, and received, whether you intend it or not, and whether you realize it or not, is this: "I don't care what you think about how I play. I don't even care what I think about how I play. Oh, and by the way, I am impervious to everything."
This is the usual explanation, with some additional psychological analysis, of why you should never show your cards. The argument, summarized, is simply that by showing cards, you are providing free information that can be exploited by your opponents later, and to a lesser extent, you are also demonstrating a level of insecurity. And I call Bullshit!
Look, folks, let's start by saying that there are no universal truths in poker strategy. So right off the bat, I cannot agree with the command that All Showing is Bad! Why? Because it is not always bad. In fact, if used correctly, showing your cards can often be good.
Angelo's quote suggests that showing cards can only be used to validate one's play ("See? My raise was good because I had a good hand!") or to seek sympathy for bad luck ("Aw, look at what I had and I still didn't win!"). In those situations, I would wholeheartedly agree with Angelo: showing your cards is not recommended and will only hurt you in the long run. In fact, I also agree with Angelo's overall proposition that you do not want to show weakness at the table by seeking out the approval or sympathy of those around you. That is why I am loathe to discuss bad luck or bad runs at a poker table. Those statements merely wet the appetites of the sharks and cause more losses.
BUT there are other times to show cards. This, once again, falls back to the issue of controlling the flow of information. When you show your cards, you are releasing information to your opponents, but you have COMPLETE CONTROL over the information you release. For some players, releasing no information is ideal. I have no problem with that strategy. But for some players, there is a serious benefit to releasing information if it can help set up an image or later plays.
For instance, if you make an odd sized bet and then show the hammer (72o) after you win the pot, there will be a conscious or subconscious connection drawn in the minds of your opponents that the particular-sized bet indicates a weak hand. So, when you get KK an orbit later, you can bet the same odd amount as you did with the hammer and likely get the action you crave. The flow of information (and keeping track of the information available to your opponents) can be a useful tool.
In other instances, showing your cards could get opponents to loosen up (if you show bad cards) or tighten up (if you show good ones). If either of those scenarios are beneficial to you, then go ahead and show your cards. Naturally, you have to be aware of the flow of information and see how your opponents react, but if you can really understand the flow of information and its effects, then showing your cards could help control an entire table.
Of course, there is also the tilt-factor. For instance, in one hand a long while ago, I pushed all-in with a straight flush draw, 43s in my hand and As2sXc on the board. I got one caller, and after I missed the turn and river, my opponent mucked after his friend said, "Well, he must have something to have pushed." After the muck, I won the hand with the worst possible hand. So, I showed. I already won the pot, but I wanted to get value from the tilt-factor. I simultaneously knew that the other players not in the hand now knew that I was willing to push on a draw and play 34s preflop. So, I adjusted my play tighter against most of the table, hoping to get paid from players who thought I was unnecessarily loose; I also tried to play more hands with the mucker, hoping to benefit from his tilt.
If you can think of other good reasons to show your cards, feel free to add them in the comments.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Monday, June 01, 2009
Yesterday, the last two tourneys in the BBT4 were held, a $5.50 Brit Bloggerment in the afternoon and a $75 Big Game in the evening. I had signed up for both at least 24 hours in advance. After all, I had a leaderboard to win.
If you've been following along, I was in 1st place for the BBT4 May leaderboard as of last Tuesday. I took that spot by placing 2nd in the Skillz Stud game to 1QueensUp1, who took 1st. At the time, I was trying to accumulate points in a desperate big to catch up to qrs1, who was holding the top spot. Just 24 hours later, though, 1QueensUp1 went back-to-back, winning the Mookie and leapfrogging over me to the top of the leaderboard.
SONUVABITCH!, I thought at the time. I figured my own 3 wins in May (4 total) was a heady accomplishment, but now 1QueensUp1 had to show me up with a back-to-back win. But once I accepted the situation, I knew I only had two last shots at points, both on Sunday.
From Thursday until Sunday, the BBT4 had been pressing on my mind. I knew the pressure would be on because suddenly a $5, 40 person tourney had $2,000 implication. That thought loomed large. I knew I couldn't actually take time of for work to play at the WSOP, but the $2,000 would go a long way toward giving me the necessary bankroll boost to play a bit higher (and a bit more comfortably) live.
And so, Sunday came around, and I spent the better portion of the morning finding anything possible to keep me busy so that I wouldn't overthink the poker. The day before, I decided to play two tourneys to keep in fighting shape, but I went out of both due to suckouts that reinforced the harshest reality of them all: even if I played perfectly Sunday, I might still lose. So, Sunday, I decided to simply keep away from the poker until game time.
I'll cut to the chase. I placed 3rd in the Brit game, out of 48 or so players. I was also the shortstack from about the 12 player mark forward, but managed to skate by, initially by choosing my spots carefully, and later (when were were down to 5 or so) by hitting my hands when I had so few chips that my opponents had no choice but to call my all-ins with any two cards. I managed to make it to 3rd before my luck wore out. If memory serves correct, that loss was due to a suckout, but frankly, he was so stacked compared to me that it was a non-issue. It wasn't his fault that he got lucky or I got unlucky.
When we were down to 5 players, someone on the rail mentioned that I had successfully overtook 1QueensUp1 for the May leaderboard. I had no clue if the railbird was correct because the points process mystified me. But it was basically irrelevant anyway. It wasn't so much that I needed to beat 1QU1 in the Brit game; I needed to get as much of a lead as possible to protect me from the chance that he or one of my other pursuers would hit it big in the Big Game later that night. The Big Game's buy-in was 15x the Brit game, so it was worth a lot more points on the leaderboard.
After busting from the Brit game, I went back to doing anything BUT poker. I watched The Girlfriend Experience, a movie by Steven Soderbergh starring pornstar Sasha Grey. It lacked nudity, which was a definite minus, but the film making itself was superb and Grey put forth her best dressed acting role yet.
As the Big Game approached, I also made dinner, turkey meatballs with spinach and parmesian in a pink sauce over tricolor bowtie pasta. Anything but think about the game.
So when the Big Game finally came around, I was ready and willing to do my best. Fortunately, I didn't have to.
All in all, I made it through more than half of the field (I think), but more importantly, all of the players who could possibly take my May crown were out before me. As they dropped out, I gained a sense of relief, which was finally accented when someone said to me in the FullTilt chatbox that I had already locked up May. There weren't sufficient points for my nearest competitor still in the tourney to catch up. I busted not long after and called it a night.
It feels good to win something as prestigious (in our circles) as the May Leaderboard. To be honest, I never won any leaderboard, likely because my play is so sporadic (both time-wise and quality-wise). The cash is nice, but the pride is even better.
Final thought. None of this would've been possible without the One-Man-Party, AlCantHang. So, thanks, Al. And thanks to everyone else for being not quite as good as me in blogger tournaments for one month. It's a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.
Until next time, make me Mr. May!