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Expensive Tuna

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!

posted by Jordan @ 11:49 PM,


At 1:01 PM, Blogger BLAARGH! said...

Nice write-up as always HOP. Funny description of G. He plays in a home game I play in - the folks over there nicknamed him "triples". (I think he miraculously hit trips on a bunch of hands in a row and called them triples and the name stuck). Def very LAG player, which is great until he starts getting lucky :) I'm fairly certain he was introduced to tuna via Viet, if that helps jog your memory at all.
Nice score btw, congrats.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger 1Queens Up1 said...

Thats so funny how similar we are in our approach to NL cash games. I have a bankroll for 2/5 but I stick around 1/2 for the comfortability.

When I first sit I buy-in for 150 or 200 because why should I put an entire buy-in on the line when I want to figure out the table first. I never buy in for less than 100 because its just enough if I get lucky early or I want to pay to get a little info. I usually get go down about $50 before I complete my stack to $300, slip on the headphones, get a seat change to the left of any lags and go.

With regards to the betting my standard raise is $12. If I find I get 5-6 callers with a $12 raise I start raising to $15. I think the only time I raise more than $15 as the initial raiser is if I find a premium hand in the SB/BB if there a bunch of limpers and it limps around to me. I usually raise to 20 or 25 in this case depending on limper size. Its just funny that I dont think of bets in 1/2 as units or multiple of BBs at all either. I really dont think you can because a $6 to $10 raise will get called by the entire table at most 1/2 tables.

I love giving the people at my tables names also. like the LAGGY BlueJay guy, or the gay Straight Flush Guy, or my personal fav the Boston Bills fan (thick Boston accent but a die-hard Bills fan!)
Early Guy clearly should have been Lazy-Eye.

See ya when I get back Jordan, hope the tables are good to ya!


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