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Poker Nightmare

I had a terror dream last night. I don't know what triggered it, probably my resurgent poker habit mixed with a very busy work week. All I know is that I woke up this morning in a freakin' panic.

In my dream, I was in my office at work. I had a lull in my day, so I decided to play some poker on FullTilt. While playing, my boss came into the room. I tried to minimize the poker client, but whenever I did, my turn would come up and the FullTilt window would pop up on the screen (why does the word "screen" look so odd...)

My boss entered my office, the FT window popped up, and I was busted. I remember turning beet red in my dream and coming up with an explanation, which actually isn't that bad, if not for the fact that it was being used to defend gambling on the job. I told the boss, "I'm just taking a mental break, a couple of minutes. It helps me focus and I am getting everything done that needs to be done."

Sure, even that excuse would have me thrown out on my ass, but at least I still had my wits about me in dream land.

When I woke up, wifey Kim was getting up and I still had more than an hour of sleepy time. Still, it was hard to go back to sleep after a nightmare like that.

* * *
I played one game of online poker last night, a 45-person, $75 SNG. I figured with my recent $535 score, I could stand to take a shot. In reality, I wasn't even sure I was in the mood to play, but the SNG had 44 people in it and seemed to be calling my name. Alas, I played poorly and barely paid attention, busting somewhere in the 30s. I decided after that to just skip poker for the night and concentrate on something, anything, else.

I saw the movie Choke recently. It's based on a book by Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club. Fight Club is one of my favorite movies AND books, and I have since read all of Palahniuk's books. I'm no book critic, but from what I can tell, his books have gotten progressively worse, not unlike my second favorite author, Irving Welsh, the author of Trainspotting (and surprisingly many other great books, probably more quality books than Palahniuk...I recommend Acid House and Maribou Stork Nightmares.) It's been a while since I read Choke, and I can't remember if the movie changed the plot at all, other than the obvious truncating, but overall it was a decent flick. It really did feel like Fight Club's younger, less cool brother, but frankly, that's exactly what it is.

I also bought the Wii game, Call of Duty: World at War. This is the first WWII game I've ever played, and appartently WWII games have become their very own genre. Wii has a lack of decent games, sadly, so when I heard CoD:WaW was good and was a first person shooter, I had to buy it. There is little more enjoyable than shooting another human being in a videogame. I'm not talking about shooting aliens or mutants or zombies. I'm talking other people! It's probably an unimportant distinction to most people, whether the graphics you are shooting represent a monster or a Nazi, but frankly, there is just something more...satisfying...about killing a Nazi. I wish I could explain it better than that, but I can't. And is it wrong that I find it even more satisfying to shoot a cop, like in the GTA games. I don't really want to shoot cops. Hardly. But it's just the perverseness of the act that I think I find appealing. Come to think of it, most of the books I like, including the books by the two aforementioned authors, are about fucked up people doing fucked up things. I guess I just gravitate toward depravity for entertainment. Better to be a tourist in that world than a resident.

I'm playing 1/2 NLHE at the Wall Street Game tonight, where there are 10 seats and 21 people RSVP'ed to attend. 23Skidoo will be there, so that's an extra bonus. The plan right now is to have dinner with wifey Kim and then head over. Let's hope I can find a seat.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:04 AM, , links to this post




Jordan Responds to a Comment

From Anonymous:

I hate players like you who make stupid raises to 8 dollars when people limp. Dont u realize people limp with big hands, hoping idiots like u raise. Ur effectivley turning ur hand into a bluff. Well played.

Wow, folks. For those just joining us, the comment was left in response to my recent trip report, and seemingly about this specific hand:

On the button, I was dealt AJ in a hand with an assload of limpers. I decided to raise to $8, a harmless raise meant mostly to build a pot when I'm in position. AJ is not a premium holding, but an AQ or AK would've likely raised preflop, so I felt confident with position. There were a slew of callers and we had a decent pot going when the flop came down JJ2. NOICE! Three or so players checked and I reached my hand out with $10 in chips, about to bet. That's when people started calling over to me, informing me that two seats to my right, there was still a player left to act. It was the guy with the White Hurley Hat, a mid 20s Caucasian who was joking with the big stack that he, Hurley, was just gifting his stack. As I mentioned earlier, his joking was a thin veil for his frustration, since he couldn't seem to get any momentum going over the several hours we played. He usually railed, unsuccessfully, against the big stack, but I guess it was my turn. I pretended, with a heaping dose of absurdity, that I was merely stretching. When he completed his bet, $20, I opted just to call. I figured I was ahead, but who knew? My only concern was 22, which was possible. But otherwise, I'm more or less a lock to win, so no need to push him out of the pot if he's betting out of position. Everyone else folded. The turn was a blank and Hurley Hat bet $30. I called. The river was another blank and he bet $50. I took my time, trying to make sure I didn't miss anything. He may've gotten lucky and turned or rivered a full house, but otherwise, I was probably good. I chose to flat call and he showed 99. I showed my hand and he looked disgusted. Enjoy your LEMON!

I was going to respond to Anonymous in the comments, but this one was too good to bury.

According to Anonymous, it is a bad play to raise 4x the BB from the button with AJ in a cash game when there are a lot of limpers because, "Dont u realize people limp with big hands, hoping idiots like u raise." Where to start. First, one of the very reason to raise is that people with big hands might be limping. If I don't raise, then I have no idea what my opponents have. By raising, I get some indication. Often, a big hand will re-raise here (particularly in EP, in LP they were likely to bet out once they saw all of the limpers). Weak hands will often fold, and marginal hands will call since the number is reasonable. Limping, on the other hand, leaves me without any information.

What if the flop comes down A83 with two spades. Well, without raising preflop, I don't know if a player is sitting on AQ. I also didn't do anything to deter the A8, A3 or even the BB with 83 from calling. And how about that flush draw out there with 6 players in the hand. Wouldn't it be comforting if you cut down the amount of players by half or ever 2/3? Without betting preflop, I have allowed more players to be in the hand and no idea what anyone has, so I'm acting essentially blind. On the other hand, if I raise preflop, AQ and AK may re-raise, other premium hands will re-raise, weak hands are eliminated, and the callers are usually marginal. I have much more information and I'm in position!

Now, on the flip side, the other reason to raise is to build a pot. Why fight over a $12 pot between 6 people when I can raise, reduce the number of callers to a few and fight over a $24 pot, hypothetically, between 3 people with position and decent cards AND an indication that my opponents do not have monsters since they didn't re-raise me. It's not like I was playing junk or that I had indications that my opponents were strong when I raised to $8. I didn't even mind if everyone called because relative to the table, at that moment, I felt that my odds of winning the hand were better than average. Way better than average, thanks to position and the lack of preflop raisers. So, I want to build a pot without spending a lot of my own money. An extra $6 per person adds up without pushing out a lot of the dominated or vulnerable weaker holdings (think KJ, AT, lower pocket pairs, etc.). And the best part is, if I miss the flop, I can just check or fold since I get to see everyone act before me.

Anonymous adds: "Ur effectivley turning ur hand into a bluff." Now, clearly the author is a 12 year old girl, based on the text shorthand, so she can't be blamed for not understanding what a bluff is. I was not BLUFFING preflop. I was building a pot, gathering information, and doing it for cheap from a power position. There was nothing bluff-ish about it. Just because I don't have the nuts when I bet, it doesn't make it a bluff. It could, in some weird way, be considered a semi-bluff, since I didn't have any hand yet, but preflop, I'm not sure semi-bluffs exist (BTW, a semi-bluff is when you bluff with outs). I really can't say why Anon thinks its a bluff in this situation. You'd have to ask her. Middle school gets out at 3pm, so that's where you'll find her.

Had I followed Anon's formula, I would've checked and saw the great JJ2 flop (to match my AJ) in a pot against 6 players with $12 in the pot. Instead of a guy betting out $20 with 99, he would've bet less. Then on every future street, he would've continued to bet less than the $30 and $50 he bet. I would have won less money following Anon's formula. It's not all about results, as I explained the strategic reasoning above, but it still it useful to see Anon's formula in action.

Here's the bottom line. Anonymous' poor analysis demonstrates one of the easiest pitfalls in poker: formulaic thinking. In her head, when she isn't thinking about how cute Joey Fatone is or playing with her Trapper Keeper, there is only one way to play the hand, checking to see the flop. That's not a bad strategy by any stretch of the imagination. It's conservative. It just isn't the ONLY strategy. Since I didn't fit her formula, she assumes I'm a moron. Ridiculous. There are many paths to success in poker and if you get stuck in a formulaic way of playing, you are going to miss some shortcuts and more profitable trails. Formulaic thinkers are the ones screaming about how their opponent could possibly make that call or bet preflop with that hand...and they are usually screaming them from the rail, because they assumed that their opponent was (and should) play their exact same formula.

It doesn't work that way, honey. Now go have some choco milk and watch some Disney channel.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:43 PM, , links to this post




HEADS UP!

It looks like I satellited into an FTOPS event.

I was in the mood to play some poker, as per usual, and decided to check out the various sites for a decent HU tournament. I didn't find any scheduled events, but FT had a 64-person SNG for a seat in the HU event at the FTOPs. I don't normally play in FTOP events, but I like tourney dollars and more importantly, I was in the mood for a HU game. Since it was essentially a freeroll (it costs Full Tilt Points, which I don't have any use for otherwise), I decided that I could just have fun with it. Only 1st place paid, so I wasn't taking it too seriously.

HU tourneys are a double-edged sword. I tend to dispose of my opponents quickly, so there can be some serious lag time between rounds. But that works both ways. On one hand, it's annoying because I'm ready to go. On the other, I can do other things, like multitable two consecutive token SNGs (won a token and took the cash in the other one) and bust out of a small Limit Satellite MTT that I thought was NLHE when I signed up. Suddenly a heads up window pops up, I do my thing and I'm back to chilling.

Whatever the case, I really just cut through my competition like butter. I was in the zone, making all the right plays. I sucked out once when it was significant, but otherwise overwhelmed my opponents with betting. I had a definite strategy going that I don't want to go into depth about right now, but the results were highly successful.

When I finished off the guy in the semi-finals, the other match was still going. Since I'd be facing the winner for the seat, aka T$535, with nothing going to second place, I decided to do my homework. I watched the two players and I saw something remarkable. The player with the larger stack was employing...THE EXACT SAME STRATEGY AS I HAD EMPLOYED IN EVERY MATCH THUS FAR. I've seen the phenomenom before, where I could read a particular player at an online table because their thinking or strategy mirrors my own. It's probably nothing more than sheer coincidence and pattern recognition, but I had this guy pegged. When he finally won, I thought it'd be somewhat tricky playing him heads up, since I was able to run over my other opponents whereas the new guy showed more aggression. But I knew what he was doing, so I adjusted my style and actually trounced the guy. My biggest moment of fear, though, happened here:

I had taken a lead to 60,000 to 36,000, and was dealt JJ in the SB. The blinds were 600/1200. I had noticed that my opponent and I both used a min-bet from the SB strategy. Basically, any time I had a semi-decent hand in the SB (and really, semi-decent is being kind), I'd min raise. In my earlier matches it was very effective to build pots when I'm in position or otherwise take down pots preflop uncontested. I saw my opponent, SeoulSurvivor (we'll call him "SS" for short), doing this in his semi-final match, so fairly early in our heads up match, I began re-raising his min-bets, only to see him fold. I think he caught on to what I was doing, because when I began min-raising from the SB, he'd often come over the top, employing once again the SAME STRATEGY AS I WAS, this time, just one level higher. So, with a premium hand, I min-bet to 2,400, only to be raised to 7,200. Awesome! I basically shoved over the top, happy to take 7,200 from my opponent, 20% of his stack. I figured him for crappy cards because, after all, he didn't need much to re-raise me in this spot.

He called time and I crossed my fingers, only to have him finally call. This was even better than a fold, because it was doubtful he was ahead with AA-QQ, and I had a decent chip lead, so I was okay with a cointoss against AQ or KQ if need be. As it turned out, he had 55, so I was in great shape. The flop was 678, the turn was a 4, and the river was a negligible 2. My opponent caught lucky, turning a straight to beat my overpair. While I never expected to win the tourney, this crushed me for an instance, as though it were some higher power saying, "Not tonight, Jordan." But I still had 24,000 left, so I decided rather than sulk, to get right back on the horse. I shook off any disappointment and accepted the reality of the game. Thank god I had the bigger stack.

I crawled my way back from there, eventually getting damn close to even, 41,000 for me against SS's 55,000. That, in and of itself, is a decent comeback. Blinds were up to 1k/2k and I was in the SB with A5o when the following hand happened. As per usual, I was in the SB, so I min-raised. By now, he had tempered a bit, going into a defensive stance. I didn't expect him to raise back at me unless he had solid cards. I was correct, too. He just flat called.

The flop was AAK, rainbow. Nice! SS checked and I bet half of the pot, 4,000. This was also part of my (and SS's old) strategy. I constantly bet half-pot on the flop when I min-raised preflop. It's hard to tell if it is a value bet or a continuation bet, and since more often than not, the opponent has missed the flop, I was able to win many pots with the half-pot bet on the flop. It also, incidentally, works well to train your opponents to fold to the min bet preflop, since they know that deceptive half-pot bet is coming on the flop. SS called the 4,000. I became concerned that he might be slowplaying me here, but I didn't let that fear overwhelm me just yet.

The turn was a 2c, making a club flush draw that was not particularly scary. My opponent checked, so I bet another half-pot, or 8,000. He waited until the 15 second warning and called, upping my suspicion that he might be feigning uncertainty or weakness.

The river was an offsuit 6 and my opponent checked to me again. Since the pot was already 32,000 and I only had about 25,000 left, I thought it best to check. If he had a better Ace, I didn't want to go busto from the tourney. If he didn't have a better Ace, he would likely fold to my all-in bet. At showdown, he had KJo, and I took down the pot.

My constant half-pot continuation bet definitely helped keep my opponent on the hook. It was impossible for him to tell if I flopped a monster or was just continuously bluffing. By the same token, the bet sizes were small enough to warrant a call with a decent range of dominated or inferior hands.

After that hand, we had a few more back and forths, but my opponent took the lead again and was up 58k to my 38k. That's when it was my turn to get lucky. I was in the SB with blinds of 1,500/3,000 and AQd. I kept to my strategy and min-raised to 6,000. My opponent called. The flop was 976, rainbow, with one diamond. My opponent checks and I just shit the bed, pushing all-in for 31,577. I didn't put him on a pocket pair and I hoped the board missed him entirely. I didn't like the idea of waitng for more cards if my opponent missed, since the pot was already 12,000 which was almost 1/3 of my starting stack for the hand. As it were, he had J9 for top pair. The turn was a 5 and the river was a...Queen. For a split second, I thought about how lucky I was. Then I realized that I was just on the other side of the coin; my opponent had his suckout earlier in the game when I was giving the death blow. Thank god for boomerang kharma.

In the final hand, I held about 72k to his 24k. I was in the BB this time with blinds of 2k/4k, so my opponent was desperately short. I had already began the all-in deluge, since he was showing a proclivity to fold. All I really needed was two live cards to push, really, since I have enough to lose and he was giving up so many blinds. At 2k and 4k a pop, that adds up quickly when your stack reaches the 30s and then 20s. He finally had enough when he pushed for just over 24k and I snap called with A9o. He showed Q5o and I took down the game.

I may make a separate post about the HU strategy I employed and outlined briefly here. Its not something entirely new; I think I heard about the min-raise from the SB strategy from elsewhere. But it was effective. It didn't hurt that I've been playing a lot of HU matches lately. Unlike some other games, the HU matches online allow a lot or intuitive play. In an MTT or SNG, it can be hard to get a grasp of the table's feel if you aren't paying the utmost attention. Heads up, I can get a feel for my opponent better since he is in every hand and he is the only thing to watch. Since I'm also in every hand, I have to pay attention.

I've already unregistered from the tournament. I could really use the T$, even though a $500 HU tournament online is very tempting. Eh, what can you do?

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:24 PM, , links to this post




How to Loosen a Table with Two Easy Gimmicks (AC Trip Report Pt 2)

When we last let off, I busted in the $125 2pm tournament at the Showboat, during the 300/600 level, approximately 70 minutes after the event began. Meanwhile, bro-in-law Marc was whooping ass at a cash game table and I was sitting down to a separate 1/2 NLHE table.

I was dressed in my usual $uperman logo t-shirt, more out of lack of thought than anything. It was rumored that Albert Einstein wore the same outfit every day because it was one less thing to think about. Well, I'm largely from that school. I looked through my wardrobe the morning of my poker sojourn and just couldn't think of what else to wear. I went with the $uperman shirt, a hooded sweatshirt and gray convertible cargo pants because it was easy and I knew I'd be comfortable.

I sat at the table in the 6 seat to the immediate left of a guy in his late 50s with a mostly bald, bristly head of gray hairs and an old school European vibe, albeit dressed in non-descript clothing. He had a huge stack, easily $700 if not $900 or more, so I was glad to be on his immediate left.

To my right was a black guy, probably in his early 30s, dressed in a rather conservative powder blue turtle neck. He appeared tall and well composed, with well groomed hair and some facial hair that was also in shape.

To his immediate left was a soccer-mom-looking woman, perhaps a bit longer in the tooth as demonstrated by her short, boy-cut hair. She wore an AC heather-gray sweatshirt, which reminded me of wifey Kim's amazingly true fashion statement: Heather Gray is not flattering on anyone. The woman seemed mid-western, but was actually from Virginia.

To her left was an Asian guy with long, black, Farrah Fawcett-like hair in a cream zip up fleece sweater.

To his left, in the 10 seat, was a white guy in his mid to late 20s wearing a Duke sweatshirt. He had dark hair and a dark goatee/chin scruff to match.

The dealer came next, obviously, and then in the 1 seat or perhaps 2 seat, a newer player sat down (shortly after me), a blue-collar, white guy, probably in his mid to late-30s. He was a bit thick rather than pudgy, wore a blue sweatshirt and looked a tad dim-witted.

To his left was an essential blank at the table, a guy who I don't recall in the least. Somewhere around the 3 seat was another pudgy white dude wearing a black t-shirt and a button-down dark shirt over it. He had a pair of sunglasses hanging from the neck of his t-shirt, and scruffy facial hair, even though his hair was combed. He was alternatively the image of a tough guy and a goofball, leaning mostly toward goofball.

To his left was a slew of interchangeable players followed by another white guy in his mid-20s who was joking copiously with my big stacked neighbor to my right about how he was gifting chips to the big stack. He was wearing a white baseball cap with a hurley logo in black stylized script with other markings. I like his kind of jovial attitude, especially since it was merely a thin shell covering his actual frustration at some losses that predated my introduction to the table. To his left was the big stack and then we were back to me, in the 6s.

I bought in for $300, having realized from my last failed experiment that buying in light just doesn't work for me. I took my seat, pulled out my green and white Buddha statue. I left my sunglasses in its case, hoping to appear like a non-threat until I felt it necessary to take them out and change modes. As it turned out, I never took out my sunglasses.

I was fairly quiet to start out, getting a feel for the table. Most of my hints were coming from the complaining guy two seats to my right with the White Hat. I finally decided to play a hand when I was dealt 66 in the SB.

The Duke guy limped in early position and a few mid position players limped as well. The SB big stack amazingly folded, so I figured I was good for a $11 bet with my 66. The Duke guy called, but the others folded and we saw a flop, KK5. I figured my pocket pair was good, so I bet $15 into the ~$30 pot. Duke called. The turn was another King and I opted for a check. I wanted to see what my opponent would do since I wasn't getting sufficient information from betting into him. He bet $35 and I thought for a moment. His bet screamed pocket pair, since the turn put three of a kind Kings on the board, giving any pocket pair (or naked 5) a full house. If he had a pocket pair, which one did he have? The only ones I was worried about were 77 or higher, and since he didn't bet from EP preflop, I doubted he was on any of those hands. A truly conservative player might limp with 77 or even 88, although that is doubtful. Even so, I didn't get that vibe from a younger guy like Duke. I figured he couldn't have a bigger pocket pair, so my only other fear was the case King. That would suck, but it wasn't likely. I opted for a call and we saw the river, a blank. It went check check and he showed 33. I took down the pot and started off the game with a decent $50 score.

Of course, I gave all of my profit back a short while later with 88. I was in early position and there was a raise to $10 from the Friendly, Dim-Witted, Blue Collar Guy ("FDWBCG") in the 1 or 2 seat. FDWBCG riased earlier in the game to $12 with AA and had a couple of hands where he opened for $10 only to fold post-flop, so when it folded to me, I assumed he was weak with two overs and I raised to $30, hoping to scare him away. In hindsight, it was probably too low, but I don't think I could justify raising more with only 88. Regardless, the Asian Farrah Fawcett Guy had limped in early position and now pushed all-in for his tiny $42 stack. He had been fairly quiet since I sat down, so I didn't know what to make of his push. FDWBCG called and I followed suit, since it was just another $12. We checked it down and FDWBCG had TT, ahead the whole time...until the river. The Asian kid had QTo and rivered the Queen, taking down the $120+ pot. He then grabbed the chips and immediately said, "I'm out," racking up like we would stop him if he didn't move with speed. I don't particularly have a problem with this. He was about to be the BB, so maybe he was planning on leaving in the first place. That would explain the weak push, an awfukit play. Still, his demeanor made him seem guilty of doing something improper. He scampered off and we went back to poker. I had given away most of my profit, but I was still up $10.

This is when the table started to tighten up. There were a series of hands in which there would be maybe one or two limpers along with the blinds and then on the flop, a $5 bet would take it down. I decided to get what I could out of the situation. In the BB with 97o, I saw a flop for free against hte SB and a limper. The flop was J72 and with middle pair, medium kicker, I bet $5 and won the pot. In the very next hand, I had KJo in the SB and after FDWBCG limped, I raised to $7, a small sum. Only FDWBCG called. The flop was Kxx, and I checked, knowing full well that it would be hard to make decent scratch on this hand, since it was not likely my opponent held a weaker King and even he was tightening up. FDWBCG must have also been picking up on the tightness of the table, because he bet out $10, seemingly taking his chance to take down the $16-20 pot. I called with my top pair, good kicker, and we saw a blank turn. I offered some more rope to hang himself, checking again, but FDWBCG checked and I knew the hand was over. The river was another blank and I tried to extract a few more chips by betting $15, as though I were taking advantage of his check on the turn. He folded and I took down the small-ish pot.

Things continued much along the same way, so I went to the poker desk and asked to be moved to another table. No need to fight hard for scraps when another table might be giving away the money. Dave, the guy at the desk, told me he'd get me as soon as one opened up. I went back to poker in the meanwhile.

I decided to loosen up the table using one of my favorite routines. I can't describe these things as anything less than a routine. It's almost like a choreographed play designed to elicit a particular response from my audience. I went for the mocking big bettor routine, which involves min betting stupidity.

With QJh, I made a big show raising from early position, slamming four $1 chips onto the table and announcing, "I RAISE!" The chips clattered as everyone looked to see the size of the bet, a silly $2 min bet on top of the $2 blind. Five players called me as I acted incredulous that they called my strong bet. We saw a flop six-handed, Jack-high with two spades. I decided to keep everyone on the hook by announcing "I'm going to continuation bet...TWO DOLLARS!" I slammed my two white chips onto the table. A couple of people called until it got to FDWBCG who raised to $10. It folded to me and I boo'ed my opponent for overbetting the pot, obviously in a sarcastic manner. I called "out of spite," and we saw the turn. I should mention that FDWBCG was apologizing for the raise, but I made it clear that I was kidding, "Someone was going to have to cut off the bullshit raises sooner or later. It might as well have been you."

The turn was a blank and it went check check. The river was a King and I decided that if I were going to win any more money, I'd have to bet. I went for $14, enough to elicit a call from a weak hand. He took his time, announcing, "You know, the 14th is my birthday." I replied, "That's why I chose it. I had a feeling you were either born on the 14th or on the 14th month." Okay, admittedly the table chat was a bit...silly...but I wanted to keep the mood light. He finally called and I showed my hand. He mucked and announced he had a Jack too, but with a weak kicker.

The table began loosening up again, so in mid- to late-position, I raised to $10 with AJc, hoping to build a pot without overdoing it. The Black Guy on my immediate left called. We hadn't tangled in a hand yet. Duke called too, and we saw a flop, Q85, with the 8 of clubs. I missed completely, but I figured that I could represent the Queen, so I bet $20 and was called by both players.

The turn was a 7c, giving me the nut flush draw and one overcard to the board. I checked, assuming that I wasn't going to push anyone off of the pot. The Black Guy bet $35 and Duke folded. When it got to me, I took my time. The pot had $125 in it, including the $35 bet, so I ultimately thought that my nut flush draw was too good to give up. I called.

The river was an Ace of hearts, missing my flush but giving me a pair of Aces. I checked, fearing that I was running into AQ. He checked too and tabled KK. I showed my hand and took down the pot. Sucks to be him, but he should have re-raised preflop.

Once the table was sufficiently loosened, I moved onto the Prime Time routine, basically betting only prime numbers whilst announcing to the table that it was Prime Time, Baby! The gimmick usually gets the table chatting about prime numbers and you can get a feel for who is intelligent when you start asking absent mindedly what the prime numbers are beyond 13. You also get people who jump in on the gimmick, adjusting their bets accordingly. If nothing else, it lets you know they have a sense of humor.

After the Prime Time gimmick started, I was in the BB with 67h and decided to call a raise to $11 since it was, you guessed it, a prime number. I had some momentum behind me and a decent stack, so I could afford the additional $9 to see the flop. I believe there were at least three of us to the flop, and probably more like 4 or 5.

The flop was 589, with the 8 and 9 of hearts, giving me a flopped nut straight and a straight flush draw. For the record, you get nothing for hitting a high hand at Showboat unless it is part of the bad beat jackpot. The SB, the threatening big stack, bet to $15. He actually hadn't played many hands since I sat down, but he chatted with some of the dealers and I already learned that he was a 2/5 player who was playing in the 1/2 game to "take it easy." I decided that if he had a hand, I wanted to make him pay big time, since I had the nuts with a solid redraw. I raised to $43, taking my time to find the right prime number. It folded back to him and I took down the pot. I would've like to have won more, but I felt that I could potentially double through the guy if he had a strong hand, and since he was in the SB betting out on the flop, I had to assume he had something worthwhile. Whatever the case, the pot was over $50, so winning outright was not the worst result.

I bumped heads again with the big stack in the BB with JJ. He raised to $10 preflop, but rather than re-raise, I opted to flat call since I was out of position. The flop would help me dictate the rest of the hand.

The flop came down Jack-high, rainbow, and the big stack, who was also the SB, checked. I checked as well, since I had the nuts and wanted my opponent to either get a chance to bluff or catch enough of a hand to hang himself. The turn was a blank but brought a flush draw. My opponent bet $10, but rather than raising, I just called. I wanted to see the river and I figured since he was out of position, I could probably squeeze more money out of him on the river, provided the flush didn't hit. It didn't, as the river was another blank. He checked again and I grabbed a stack of my chips and placed it across the bet line without counting, as though I was just taking a stab at the pot sensing weakness. He paused and then folded, adding, "If you bet $100, I would raise you, but $35 is too small." I replied, "You know, you could've raised to $100," acting like I didn't understand. I really just wanted to turn that comment back on him. Whatever the case, when he said, "No, I would've raised to $1000 if you bet $100," I added, "Then I guess I should've bet to $100!" I figured that if I acted like I had it, he'd think I didn't have it. Whatever.

On the button, I was dealt AJ in a hand with an assload of limpers. I decided to raise to $8, a harmless raise meant mostly to build a pot when I'm in position. AJ is not a premium holding, but an AQ or AK would've likely raised preflop, so I felt confident with position. There were a slew of callers and we had a decent pot going when the flop came down JJ2. NOICE! Three or so players checked and I reached my hand out with $10 in chips, about to bet. That's when people started calling over to me, informing me that two seats to my right, there was still a player left to act. It was the guy with the White Hurley Hat, a mid 20s Caucasian who was joking with the big stack that he, Hurley, was just gifting his stack. As I mentioned earlier, his joking was a thin veil for his frustration, since he couldn't seem to get any momentum going over the several hours we played. He usually railed, unsuccessfully, against the big stack, but I guess it was my turn. I pretended, with a heaping dose of absurdity, that I was merely stretching. When he completed his bet, $20, I opted just to call. I figured I was ahead, but who knew? My only concern was 22, which was possible. But otherwise, I'm more or less a lock to win, so no need to push him out of the pot if he's betting out of position. Everyone else folded. The turn was a blank and Hurley Hat bet $30. I called. The river was another blank and he bet $50. I took my time, trying to make sure I didn't miss anything. He may've gotten lucky and turned or rivered a full house, but otherwise, I was probably good. I chose to flat call and he showed 99. I showed my hand and he looked disgusted. Enjoy your LEMON!

Final hand of the post. I don't know what happened to it in my notes. Sadly, I guess it didn't record. But this was a fun hand, so I'll mention it quickly here. I had KTo in LP and decided to bet out $10 or $12. I got calls from the Black Guy on my left and the Short Haired Woman to his left. She had been pretty conservative all night, but she was clearly experienced. Everyone knew her, she referenced stopping into the Diamond Club Lounge, and she acted like a regular. Whatever the case, we saw a flop, AT8, with two spades, giving me a nut flush draw and a middle pair. I decided to bet $15 and got two calls. The turn was a blank, so I bet again, I think $35. She called, but the Black Guy folded. The river was a 7s, giving me the nut flush. She checked to me again and I took my time, before betting $65. I wanted to seem desperate and I guess it worked, because she snap called with QQ. I showed my nut flush and raked the pot, FDWBCG chiming in, "Semi-bluff, huh?" "Uh, I guess so," I said. "I just got lucky." That was probably before the last hand I mentioned, but I was particularly happy that the hand paid off and it help me net a significant portion of my profits, so I didn't want to leave it out.

When I finally got up at about 8pm, I was up $446 at 1/2 NLHE, turning my $300 stack into $746. Minus the $125 I lost playing the tourney, I was up $321 for the trip. I stepped outside for a quick smoke on the Boardwalk while Marc finished up his orbit. Done with the smoke, I returned back to Marc and we headed over to the 8:30 bus from Showboat. I was back in my apartment by 11:10pm, an easy 12 hour roundtrip poker session with a fairly decent profit. Marc ended up about $550, naturally one-upping me...jerk.

A couple of quick notes. While playing, I began feeling hungry around 6pm. The Showboat has a House of Blues restaurant and every 20 minutes or so, a waiter walked through the poker room bringing food and taking orders. I eventually ordered a medium-rare cheddar cheeseburger which came with chips. While it wasn't particularly hot when it got to me, it was still delicious and free thanks to comps that I didn't even know I had. Frankly, I think the waiter may've bended the rules to get me the freebie, so I tipped him well.

When the food came, I was faced with a dilemma. I'm not a germaphobe, but all poker rooms, tables, chips and cards are just nasty with filth. Fortunately, I had my hand sanitizer, but I was still playing as I ate. My solution: I sanitized both hands but only ate with my right hand and played poker with my left hand. It must've looked odd, but it was very effective. You can thank my Muslim friends for that little trick.

The poker trip was effortless. The rides to and from were super easy and I played poker well for most of the day, with a few poorly played hands highlighted herein. The tourney was a failure, but really that was because of a three-outter when I flopped a boat. I don't blame anyone but fate and God (you hear me God!!!??) for that. I didn't internalize it or make myself tilt. I probably could've extracted more chips on a couple of hands, but otherwise played well.

The entire ride back, Marc and I were giddy, recounting stories of how we worked over our table. While I became the friendly fun guy, he played the role of the feared player at his table, showing off his mad skillz. We both started winning immediately at cash, and since Winning Begets Winning, I'm sure that didn't hurt.

The trip was so easy, I cannot find a reason not to do it again soon. Basically, if wifey Kim is occupied for any weekend day, I'll be on a bus to AC.

Final thought: About an hour after asking the floor staff, Dave, to move me to a new table, he found me to tell me the table change was ready. To him I said, "Nevermind. I got the table to loosen up. I'm not going anywhere." Thank god he forgot about me for an hour.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:58 PM, , links to this post




Two Bus Tickets to Paradise (AC Trip Report Pt. 1)

Where to start, where to start? Poker. I love poker. That's a good a place to start as any. In fact, I love poker so much that when I heard wifey Kim had plans Saturday night with co-workers, I immediately knew what I wanted to do: poker. But where?

God damnit. The bane of a NYC poker player's existence, particularly lower limit players, is the lack of a good game. Sure, there are underground rooms, but the stakes are generally higher, the games play higher because of the NY action junkies, and you have to factor in the risk of getting robbed at gun point or losing your stack to a police raid. A cointoss at an NYC underground game is not 50/50. It's 49.9/49.9/.2. 49.9% of the time, your hand will hold up. 49.9% of the time, you're opponent will win. And .2% of the time, you'll lose your entire stack and whatever is in your pockets to a gun-toting opportunist or a badge-toting opportunist.

AC, the bastion of the NYC-based poker player. If I were to go with one of my friends with a car, it'd be roughly a 2.5 to 3 hour drive, depending on city traffic. But none of those degenerates were available, so I went with plan B, the bus. I was accompanied by wifey Kim's brother, bro-in-law Marc.

All I can saw about Academy Bus is that it is AMAZING. If done right, a trip to AC via bus is faster, cheaper and easier than any other form of transportation. A bus! I hate busses. In NYC, I routinely refuse to take busses. But when poker calls, a man can be willing to do desperate, desperate things. Luckily for me, my desperate thing was taking a bus.

The bus fare costs $35, but when you arrive at the destination casino, you receive a $20 voucher. Bring it to a cashier's cage and you get...$20. That's it. The cash. No play-though. No nothing. Just go to the window and take your $20. So the trip costs $15 round trip.

One of the reasons why I avoid busses is that I hate people. We opted for an 11am bus, which would drop us off at Caesars and then the Hilton. It wasn't our ideal destination, but the time was right and once we were in AC, we could walk wherever we wanted. The bus, it should be noted, actually stops in different places depending on when it leaves NYC. Since the busses leave every 30 minutes on the weekend, if you plan accordingly, you can get dropped off wherever you want.

When we got on the bus, Marc and I both grabbed our own 2 seats, across the aisle from each other. My real concern is getting stuck next to a fat dude or smelly hobo. I figured if the bus started to fill, we could double up, but for now, I wanted space.

By the time the bus left, most people still had their own rows. The space was fine, the seats comfortable. 2 hours and 20 minutes later, after spending half the time playing Chinese Poker (I won $2), we arrived at Caesars.

Caesars sucks. The table game limits are needlessly higher than most places, and the place has a snooty feel. I certainly wasn't interested in sticking around, so we began to beat feet over to the Official High On Poker Atlantic City Casino/Hotel, the Showboat!

The walk was cold and probably the length of about 12 NYC street blocks (more than .5 mile), but we kept moving at a fast pace, only stopping once for a surprisingly good slice of pizza from one of the random Boardwalk eateries. We left NYC at 11am, and it was about 1:50 by the time we entered the Boat. Fortunately, the poker room is right by the Boardwalk entrance. Marc went to the desk to sign up for 1/2 NLHE and I went to the cashier's cage to sign up for the $125 tournament.

Quick question: Usually, the Showboat's 2pm tourney is $100. According to a dinky, computer-printer sign, it was raised to $125 ($105+20) because the room expected an influx of players. Any idea why? I asked a handful of people and no one seemed to know why the Showboat expected more players, especially given the economy. The best answer I heard is that the room probably noticed that the tourneys have been busy lately. I can see that as a possibility. When people are strapped for cash, they may be more willing to have capped losses of $125 rather than play a cash game. Also, in a tourney, a win could next 50x your buy-in, whereas it's near impossible to do that in one day in a cash game. Sure, the reality is that you'll lose more often in a tourney, but that is logic that desperate gamblers might not consider. Anyway, it's just a theory.

The line for the tourney signup was long, and as I waited, I chatted with two other guys on the line. After paying and hitting the head, I grabbed my seat, only to see that the two guys were at my table. I guess I shouldn't have wished them good luck earlier.

Showboat allows late signups for an hour, so our table only had 6 players to start and 4 empty stacks. In no time, we were up to 8 and then 9 players.

I was seated in the 2 seat, and the 6 seat is every player's wet dream. It was like he hated his chips and couldn't give them away fast enough. He played the first 5 or 6 hands straight, mostly with crap and often making absurd calls along the way. He was in his mid to late 50's with longish dark grey hair and a khaki colored windbreaker. He had a generally perplexed expression on his face the entire time. If he was in a pot and I had marginal cards, I was in too.

The guy on my immediate left was a fat white dude, probably in his early to mid 30s, with a bald head and a ginger goatee. When he first sat down, he was breathing heavier than a fat kid chasing the ice cream truck. I was worried I was going to have to give the guy CPR, but he finally calmed down and proved to be largely harmless. He was an average to weak player, which became most apparent when he started complaining about the 2 seat getting lucky. A good player, and by 'good' I mean predatory, is happy to see the town idiot gather chips. It's like stuffing a suckling pig before slaughter. Still, it was good to make 'friends' if for no other reason than he was to my left so it helped if I knew what kinda guy he was.

I was mixing it up kinda early, really just playing a general LAG game since we were shorthanded, but as soon as the marginal hands stopped coming and, more importantly, the suckling pig was slaughtered (I got a taste, but not enough of a portion for my tastes), I tightened up considerably. We had 15,000 chips and blind started at 50/100, going up every 20 minutes. By 100/200, I was up a grand or so, when I had my first significant hand.

I held A5o in the SB. It folded around to the cutoff who raises to 400. He actually stumbled with the 500 chips he tossed and the dealer misinterpreted the bet to be 500. Whatever the case, I got the sense that the guy wasn't confident, and since I could afford the extra 300, I called. The BB, Ginger Beard, called as well, and we saw the flop...

A5A

That's about the time the parade music started playing in my head. Ka ching! This boys bouts to double up.

I check. Right? So does the BB, but the LP raiser decides to bet 600. Take your time Jordan. Lean back, pause, two, three. And then let out a sheepish, Call. BB folds and we see the turn.

Q

I check. This is when I set my trap. He takes the bait, 1000. He likely has the Ace, hopefully AK. He might even be fucking around with a pocket pair, so I just want to extract some chips. I raise, 2,100. He takes his time. It's basically a min raise with a little fuck you on top. He raises back, trying to make it 3,000. These fucking monkeys. There is now a 4 minute conversation when every douschebag except for the dealer explains what the bet should be. I get annoyed, I'm all-in.

He takes a breath. I call.

He shows AQ. Whoops!

I lose most of my stack when my opponent hit a three outter on the turn. Lemon. And honestly, it doesn't bother me. Maybe a little bit, but I'm over it quick. I'm joking right away, And here I'm thinking I'm reeling you in. I'm thinking, I'm doubling through this guy. I'm the asshole now. I throw in the asshole. It keeps things light. Most of the table is laughing about it. This is good. It keeps me from appearing like a vulnerable target.

And now, we return to the past tense.

There was only one thing left to do since I was down to around 2,000 chips...rebuild. The blinds, however, had doubled to 200/400, so I was in push-or-fold mode. It folded to me when I was in the hijack (two off of the button) so I pushed with A9o. I generally don't like to push with Ace rag, so it was probably a poor play, but I felt that the table had tightened up and I needed the chips. It folded to the BB, the newest player at the table. He looked like a conservative, square-jawed guy in his 40's, like a clean shaven college professor. He called and showed T7o, and I doubled up after he failed to hit any of his cards. I give him a lot of credit on the call. It was something like 1,500 to call and he had 15,000, so it wasn't that bad of a play, particularly since he would've been taking me out. I was easily among the most skilled players at the table, more a testament to the soft Showboat field then my own skills.

Not much later, I was in the BB with T2o. There were four limpers when it got to me, and no one looked particularly eager to get their money into the pot. The blinds were going up to 300/600 on the next hand, and I only had 4100 (not including my 400 BB). I figured it was time to take a chance. I pushed and they all folded, one by one. I showed my "Championship Hand" as I described it.

I made my final, fatal error when I decided to limp with Q8s in LP with about 5100 in chips and blinds of 300/600. I really don't know why I limped. I was thinking that I was still in push or fold mode, but there I was, limping. The guy on my immediate right had limped too, and we saw the flop along with the SB and BB...

225, with two spades.

I had a flush draw and wanted to play it fast and hard. It checked to the guy on my right and he bet 1200. I decided to push for 4500 total. The flush draw with overs meant I had enough outs that I could handle being called. Ironically, it was the BB who called me. The guy on my right folded. The BB had T2o; it came back to haunt me. I failed to hit and I was sent packing. I was joking the entire time. No need to let it bother me.

I got up and found Marc, who was playing 1/2 NLHE. He was up $380 already and seemed perfectly at ease. I didn't take much time waiting. I headed to the desk and put my name on the list for 1/2 NLHE. There were two names before me, but within 15 minutes I was called. I already had my chips bought and ready to go.

Let's park it here for a bit. Damn, this one was long. Part two will include an assload of hands, since I took copious audio notes.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:53 PM, , links to this post




You Decide #65

Hey hey folks. My poker diet continues with some decent success last night. I played one game, as planned, this time settling on a 4-player HU SNG. I once again won my first match, this time after a long and hard battle. On two ocassions, I was fairly short, about 500 or so with 3000 chips in play, but in both instances, I buckled down and fought my way back.

The second match was against a real chatty mofo. I had fired a three-bullet bluff with air, hoping that he would stop calling me down. There was an Ace on the flop and rags, so I wanted to represent the Ace. I assumed that he didn't have an Ace since he limped preflop and was very passive post-flop. At showdown, I had to show my J-high and he showed his A7 for top pair, weak kicker. He had to rub it in, typing, "Bluff machine, huh?" I replied, "Yeah, I guess the machine is broken." Obviously, on his end, he was either trying to get under my skin or just making idle conversation. What he really did was give me some info as to the way he is thinking. In return, I just decided to play it off as idle friendly chit-chat, rather than letting it tilt me.

As the game continued, I used my image as a bluff machine, not that I stopped bluffing. I worked my way back to even and then lost another big chunk in a hand where I was ahead the whole time until the four flush hit on the river. I had a strong hand up until that point, TPTK, but not an incredibly strong hand. Realizing that the four-flush screwed me (I lacked a flush card), I checked on the river when my opponent checked to me. I should mention that he had been talking a bit more smack in the interim. Whatever the case, at showdown it did reveal that I was ahead to his middle pair, but the river brought him the second-nut flush. My opponent typed: "Why no bet on the river there?" I replied: "After all that, now you are asking me for lessons?" That shut him up.

Amazingly, from game one to game two, my attention span went to shit. When I realized this, I forced myself to focus and think more. The key to my success from there on out was really river betting. I guess I had moved away from thoughtful poker. I recommitted to finding bet sizes that would be called by lesser hands and potentially induce folds from some higher hands. In the end, I just steadily chipped away at my opponent until he didn't have enough chips to put up a fight. The result was some easy money from the online bankroll at a much-needed time.

While I have your ear, I may as well share with you:

You Decide #65

I had looked through my archives to see if I had any hand histories not yet posted and came across this beauty. It's a hand that's all about the river bet, in my estimation. My question to you is simple, should I have made a value bet on the river?

The game is Pot Limit Omaha Hi. It's a Blogger Skillz game, so you have some fairly sophisticated players, as opposed to the usual PLO Hi donk-fest tournaments.

The blinds were still 20/40 and I had my complete 3000 stack. I was in the BB when I was dealt Ax 2x 5d 7d. The table was 6-handed. Preflop, lightning36 (3120) limps in the CO. The SB, PinkyStinky (3645, blog?) calls. I check.

The flop is Ad 4d 3h. I've already flopped the nuts with the wheel. I have a draw to a flush, too, but its a very weak flush (7-high). I am also mildly concerned about stronger straight draws. I may be currently ahead, but there is little guarantee things will remain that way. Pinky checks to me and I bet pot, 60. I'm trying to build a pot, which is crucial in PL games, but if I take down the pot uncontested, so be it. Lightning calls, but Pinky folds.

The turn is a Jc, basically a blank. I bet 120, still trying to build a pot, and Lightning raises to 240. I know I'm still holding the nuts, so I raise to 600. Lightning calls the 360. The pot, after this round, was 1380.

The river is a 5d. It completes my weak diamond flush, but my main concern is that I am facing a stronger flush. Lightning could easily have me beat here. Since we both put 680 into the pot, our stacks are in the 2400 range. This is where I need your help. I chose to check rather than bet. Lightning checked too, and we reach showdown.

Lightning showed Jh Th 3d Ah, for flopped 2-pair, turning into a better two-pair.

My check on the river was based on survival. If I were playing cash, I'd probably put out a value bet there. However, I only have one life in this tournament, so I don't want to risk all of my chips on my first hand. If I check and he checks, then I stand to win a decent pot. If I bet and he pushes all-in on top of me, though, I may be forced to fold, whether he has the goods or not. By not betting, I limit Lightning's maximum bet to 1380, leaving me with a 1,000 cushion. If he bets the max, he very well could be doing it on a bluff, so I am more likely to call him in that situation, but in any event, I'll have 1,000 left over in a worst-case-scenario, which is more than enough to work my way back up with blinds of 20/40.

So, take your best shot. Do you think the river warranted a bet or was a check the right move?

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:44 AM, , links to this post




Quick Political Thought

*** WARNING: NO POKER CONTENT***

I consider myself to be a social liberal and fiscal conservative. I say live and let live, and I hate that our government is a bloated, inept mess. That said, I found myself on both sides of the political aisle today, mostly because of what I was reading.

When I saw my older brother's anti-Obama quips on Facebook, I couldn't help but think that he was acting like a pig-headed Republican caricature, more interested in bashing Democrats than actually analyzing politics from a rational standpoint.

I then read another blog that had a liberal slant in regards to some economic ideas. I couldn't help but think that the author was a commie-pinko, willing to allow over-reaching laws that take away market freedom in exchange for more big government.

Then I realized that I was being the liberal douschebag in the first instance and the conservative whackjob in the second one.

Sometimes, it just feels like arguing for the sake of arguing.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:02 PM, , links to this post




A.C. Bound?

I don't know what's gotten into me lately. Maybe it is the start of the new year or the reality of my poker spreadsheet over the last year, but I've been hankering for poker. This happens from time to time, like a junkie on a binge, and it's got me already thinking of an impromptu poker trip to AC this weekend.

As it goes, wifey Kim has plans Saturday night. Knowing that she is occupied, I started mentally rifling through my options. First and foremost is my desire to play live poker. Unfortunately, unless I want to play in an underground game, which is not only dangerous but involves wild swings thanks to the local action junkies, I really only have one or two options, the AC casinos or the Injun casinos in Connecticut. Unfortunately, I'm sans-car, one of the many joys of city living, and I haven't gotten around to asking any of my crew if they are interested. But my initial thought is that no matter who is or is not interested, it might be worth it to take a bus to AC on Saturday afternoon, returning back to NYC Saturday late night.

A mere year ago, I'd scoff at the idea of bus travel to AC. Since then, I've done it once, solo, and realized how easy it is. Granted, the ride is 2.5 to 3 hours, so the total round trip is north of 5 hours. However, the price is right at approximately $15 round trip. Compare this to the upcoming express train service from NYC to AC, which will cost $200 or so for a round trip and probably take almost as long, and you see that the bus is a reasonable option.

Of course, it has occurred to me more than once that traveling 5+ hours to gamble alone isn't exactly the picture of mental health. It's not to say that I think there is anything wrong with it; it's just societal norms that require family members to show concern, assuming they find out.

Interestingly, this concern for societal norms is contrasted by my desire to quit fucking around. If I'm serious about my poker hobby (habit?), I should be willing to spend time, money and effort to practice my craft. I have been on a reduced live-game diet for a while now, and if I ever expect to continue an upward trajectory, I need to put in the time necessary to build my bankroll and my experience.

My current estimate is that I am 30% likely to go to AC. Much like my general love for the game, it's a careful balance of my anal retentiveness and addictive personality. Let the battle begin!

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:31 AM, , links to this post




Fashion Design, Food, and Television

WOW! I didn't know I had so many fashion critics in the crowd, but it appears that the bright green blog design is a bit much for all of your mole-like eyes. Fear not, restless readers, as I suppose the color scheme is a bit out there. I'll look into tweaking it this weekend or even reverting back to the old setup. I'm not taking it too seriously, since I'm sure half of you ball busters are just taking a free crack while it's available, but I also want this site to be as readable as possible. So, thanks for the comments and criticisms, ya jerks!

It looks like I'm back on a poker diet. It's something I've done from time to time when I am not getting the results I want but still feel that urge to play. The results (or lack thereof) is more about my behavior. I am not ostensibly worried about the actual wins and losses on their face, as that is way too results-oriented to be helpful. I really mean the results of my effort to play focused poker. I'm still distracted more often than not, including during my one game last night.

The poker diet is simple: play one finite session. That might mean a single HU game or a couple of SNGs simultaneously. Last night, it meant a simple 4-person HU tourney. I won the first match after some difficult back and forth. I fought valiantly in the final match, but couldn't pull out a win. When it was done, I simply closed Full Tilt and went about doing something, really anything, else. I figure less online poker is good, and with less play per day, hopefully I will feel a renewed need to actually pay attention. Even so, I played the HU match yesterday while checking out my ChessHere matches (I still suck, but I'm making headway) and watching Food Network's new show, Chopped.

I don't know what has gotten into me, but I can't stop watching food-based television programing. I checked out Chopped, which was pretty good as a quick competition. Four chefs are given identical ingredients that must be used in an appetizer. After that, judges try the dishes and eliminate one chef. Then the three chefs get their secret ingredients for an entree, and when completed, another chef is cut. I don't know why, but I really enjoy watching the creative process of the chefs. It's constantly giving me knew ideas about cooking, even if I don't necessarily put them all to use. Aside from Chopped, which I only saw once, I find myself regularly watching Iron Chef America, Bravo's Top Chef, and whatever other shows I catch on late at night.

On the subject of TV, last night I watched the first of the final ten episodes of Battlestar Galactica. BG was among the best shows on television for years. I highly recommend that any sci-fi or serialized drama fans (either/or will do, no need to be both) rent the series starting from season 1. My only concern is that the entire series may live or die on this last season. You cannot have 4 or 5 seasons of greatness all based on a journey that leads to mediocrity. The destination could very well ruin the journey before it. I'm crossing my fingers, though, because the series thus far has been great.

Lost returns in a day or so. I don't know about you, but I'm excited.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:28 PM, , links to this post




Fresh Coat

I haven't played much poker since I spent my weekend in Florida for my cousin's wedding. Still, I figured it was worth dropping a post to let you RSS readers know of the beautiful new fresh coat of paint up at HoP. I decided to revamp the site design in a spur of the moment decision. I wanted to provide you with meaningful content, but having none, I figured I'd just make the place look pretty. It's the same strategy I used for my International Law term paper and my resume! No content, lots of pretty-ness!

Of course, wifey Kim doesn't like it, but unlike in our apartment, she's not the boss of me here!*

Thoughts?

Until next time, make mine poker!

*Yes she is.

posted by Jordan @ 4:11 PM, , links to this post




This and That

This is going to be one of those rambling posts, but bear with me.

While on the subject of rambling, I might as well start off with a recap of NYRambler's HU Tournament held last night as part of a tournament series Rambler is hosting. Whenever I read about Rambler's series, I think it'd be fun to play, but I always seem to miss it since it's not on my usual poker-playing schedule. Last night, I got home early from a home game at Jamie's place (more on that later) and decided to jump in to the event. I love heads-up poker and it seemed like a fun crowd.

There were 23 players, which meant that the first order of business was to wittle the crowd down to a bracket-able number, 16. Hence, 9 players received bye for the first round and 14 players had to "earn" their way into the Sweet Sixteen. I was one of the unlucky 14, but I thought that my luck turned around when my opponent Tony E. (I can't remember the full screenname) was sitting out. I stole myself to a solid 1700-1300 lead or so when he finally showed up. Long story short, though, he caught me in a stupid bluff when I reasoned that he could not have the Ace (there were two on the board) and I tried to represent a strong hand. He was very passive, leading me to my conclusion, but as it turned out, he held a baby kicker (A2-A4) and called me down, leaving me at a chip disadvantage. Quite frankly, from there I just didn't play that well. I wasn't getting the cards and I hurt myself by pulling another ill timed bluff when a flop came down XXY (i.e., a pair and a blank), something akin to 774. I bet and he called. The turn was a blank and it went check-check. The river was another 4 (or whatever that card was), so I bet out with my Jack-high, hoping that he would fear a rivered full house. He called...with AA...and I was pretty much crippled. In the end, I just lost because of bad timing and bad play. When it was done, I typed "gg" into the chat box, followed by "wp." So much for my HU run.

Prior to that, I had went out in 9th place out of 10 in a tourney at the Wall Street Game. I was once again overplaying my hands, trying to make magic where there was none. In one terrible hand, I sensed my opponent, a big Eastern European or Russian dude, was light when he checked it down to the river. I bet out at the end with jack squat and he called me with AJ, no pair. It was such an obvious ploy on my part to pick up the pot that his call was practically a given. I don't know what I was thinking, but that seemed to be the theme for the night.

While I waited for the second game to start (and HOLY SHIT did it take a long time until the 8th place player busted), I started to get antsy. I hate waiting for just about anything, and poker is worst than most since my anxiousness leads to crappy play when the time does finally come. Fortunately (or not), a player called hoping to get into the second tourney, so I gave up my seat. Hence, I was home shortly before 9pm and able to join Rambler's 10pm game. I also got to spend some time with wifey Kim, which was really the highlight of my night.

A weird thing is going on with me and poker, although it is nothing new. I feel the urge to play and yet I also feel trepidation. I have accepted that I am not a top online player, and yet all I've thought about all day was playing in tourneys online. It's a confusing state to be in because I also feel that I should continue my efforts to curb online play. I mean, I'm literally internally debating a reload and a cashout at the same time.

I'm sure that most of this is due to outside stresses. With some changes at the firm, my job now has the potential for extra responsibilities and hours. I've already taken on more responsibility and I feel ready for every new step, but I am also faced with a general uncertainty about the future that seems to have permeated the office. In a perfect world scenario, I would continue doing what I do, that is, lawyering, without anything or anyone getting in my way. I love what I do for a living and I just want to do it. I know this may not be the first thing people think of when they hear I'm a lawyer (hell, it probably isn't even in the top 10), but I actually get to help people, people who need it. Whether it be the infant who was injured because a doctor panicked and forgot his training, or the illegal immigrant who sawed off his hand because the saw he was using did not have the required safety guards, my clients by and large have serious injuries caused by the errors or omissions of other people (legally and literally). I like helping people, and the vast majority of my clients are good people. As it goes, I don't even mind the idea of taking on a managerial role; I have more than enough ideas and I don't mind speaking up. It's just the uncertainty that is getting to me, as much everyone else's uncertainty as mine. I've gone through a dozen scenarios in my head, but in the end, all I can do is sit back and watch it play out.

This weekend, I'll be in Florida for my cousin's wedding. You best believe the idea of Florida casino poker has entered my head, but only for fleeting moments. Sadly, the schedule won't allow it, nor would my keen sense of family loyalty. Now, if Grandma wanted to play, well, I'd just be spending quality time with her, so I suppose I can still work that angle.

I'm eyeing my Friday flight like it's a freakin' brass ring (old school carnival reference for my old skool homies out there). Until then, I'll just keep treading water at poker, busting my hump at work, and losing at chess.

Oh, and on that note, anyone who wants to beat me in chess, look for me at ChessHere.com, screenname HighOnPoker.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:11 PM, , links to this post




Jordan in the Dark

Last night, I returned for a brief 2 hour session of poker at the Wall Street Game's 1/2 NLHE cash game. The results were an easy $200+, over a full buy-in profit, thanks in large part to a couple of key hands.

I knew the game was overbooked, so I arrived at Jamie's apartment at about 6:35, a good 25 minutes before cards were supposed to be in the air. Thankfully, Jamie lives nearby, so when I realized I had all of my poker paraphenelia...except for my poker wallet with cash...I made a mad dash back home to get my dough. Back at Jamie's about 10-15 minutes later, and his previously empty apartment had a good 8 people waiting around. I locked up my seat and once everyone got settled in, we began the poker.

The mix of players were a bit different from Jamie's usual game. Apparently, some local suits arranged to use Jamie's apartment once every few weeks for their running cash game. The suits were all non-regulars in Jamie's weekday game and the stakes were slightly higher than Jamie's usual low stakes (1/2 instead of .50/1 NLHE), so I looked forward to playing under new, more profitable conditions in a familiar environment.

I looked around the table and saw that the suits were really just a random assortment of dudes in their 20s or 30s. No one was wearing anything more than a buttoned-down dress shirt and slacks (read: no actual suits). I, for once, decided not to dress down in comfortable attire, arriving at the game wearing my work clothes, a light pink dress shirt and gray slacks. I wanted to blend in with the crowd, rather than stand out, and attire-wise, I was fairly successful. Still, once I got a feel for the table, that all went to the pisser. But we'll get to that in a moment.

I surveyed the table and looked for the best open seat. The 1 seat was open, but Liezl, one of the few regulars, had taken the 10seat and while it would be nice to act after her, the 9s and 8s were empty and I was more concerned with getting position on the players that were new to me. Rumor had it, this was a big gambling crowd with some subpar players, so I wanted to take advantage of the fresh meat. I settled on the 9seat, since I knew Liezl well enough to feel comfortable playing her out of position. I considered the 8seat, since one of the "newbies" (new to me, not to this game, since it's their regular game), an Asian guy, was in the 7seat and from experience, Asian players are usually skilled (or at least experienced) in the ways of gambling.*

I didn't want to crowd the guy and I was willing to gamble a bit myself, so I took the 9seat, leaving a gap between me and the Asian in the 7seat. Eventually, the table filled up, and the 8seat was taken by WSG regular, Wendy, who then went on a 30 minute trek to find Starbucks. Chris (a chick) played Wendy's seat for the first 45 minutes or so, which meant I had a bevy of chicks surrounding me at all times. It reminds me of that time I was locked up in the woman's prison. It took a good 18 hours before the cops realized I was in drag.

Moving along, my first hand saw me limping with 34s, then calling a $10 raise with about four other people, and seeing a JXX flop with two spades. If memory serves correct, an early position player bet $10, I called, and then a player across the table raised to $75. I counted out the pot and when it folded to me, found myself in an odd predicament. My only real question was weather my flush draw was live. I had to at least assume that I was behind. Assuming it was live, I had 9 clean outs twice, or roughly a 36% chance to hit my hand. The pot held about $120, maybe a little less. Frankly, the odds weren't that bad, but ultimately, it was the first (or one of the first) hands of the night, and I didn't have enough information on the players to get a good enough grasp of the situation. I could be facing AKs, which would put me in a much worse situation. I folded. Later, the player claimed he held AA. It makes sense.

After that, I slowed it down a bit, getting a feel for the table. I don't remember the full timeline of events, but I eventually got into a hand against Darko, a player I mentioned recently when I questioned the use of checking dark. Darko is in my estimation a great poker player, particularly as it pertains to the mind game element of poker. After a bunch of limpers or perhaps callers for a small raise, Darko bet out something like $15 preflop and all the players folded to me. I held 45s and decided to call. I was out of position, but Darko is the type of player to make the squeeze raise with any two (he had already shown that propensity earlier in the evening when he squeeze pushed with a couple of rags), and I wanted to outplay him post-flop. Admittedly, I guess I was looking for a challenge.

The flop came down 224, but I had already dark checked, hoping to test the dark checking waters. It was not a coincidence that I chose to try the dark check against Darko himself, the guy who I've seen use it the most effectively. As Darko explained in a recent comment on HoP, there is one aspect of the dark check that is beneficial to the dark checker: you create more uncertainty. It's not the same as hiding information...it actually adds an element of confusion to the game.

He checked as well, somewhat hesistantly, which frankly means nothing with Darko. He could be acting hesitant to try to trap me. The turn was a third duece, giving me an unlikely full house. I was only in trouble if I ran into a pocket pair higher than 4s. I bet out $20 and Darko called. The river was a King, filling a flush draw. It went check-check, since I figured that I held a decent chance of being behind. He announced, "Flush" to which I replied, "Full house" and tabled my hand. "Damn low cards!"

A little while later, I got a chance to try out the dark check again. Preflop, the player from the first hand, Mr. Aces, for lack of a better name, raised to $15. I think there may've been a straddle in effect for $6, so his raise wasn't particularly huge. When it folded to me in one of the blinds, I looked down to see AKs. Since I wanted the straddler, Darko, out of the hand, I raised to $45. I already had a good feel for Mr. Aces, and he was willing to call and make big bets. I wouldn't mind winning it pre-flop, but if I could win it post-flop, it could be a very profitable hand.

Everyone folded to Mr. Aces, who took his time before calling. As the flop was being dealt, I saw the top card Ten and announced as fast as possible "Dark check." I didn't mean to see the Ten, but there it was. The full flop was TT9, with two clubs, and Mr. Aces checked hesitantly. The turn was an Ace. I figured I was good unless he was slowplaying a Ten (unlikely, unless he had balls enough to call preflop $30 more with AT or JTs) or 99 (possible, but unlikely given the range). I bet out $65, which frankly was a large bet for the table, but not for the already $90+ pot. He called. The river was a blank, so I bet out once again, $80. I wanted to get paid by this guy, and I felt I was ahead. He took his time, so I started jabbering to tempt him to call. As I began to talk, he said aloud to himself, "Am I behind a King kicker, here?" At the same time, I was using one of my patented lines, which can confuse an opponent and gives away absolutely nothing in the text (although delivery should always be carefully performed): "I can only help you by telling you that whatever you think I have, you are wrong." Now, we already knew that he was not wrong. He had me read perfectly, but our statements were nearly simultaneous, and I wasn't about to change my statement after he correctly announced my cards. "You don't have AK then?" "You are going to have to pay $80 to find out." "Okay, then, I call." I tabled my hand and said, "Your read was right, sorry." He showed AJ. I apologized for my behavior. "Hey man, sorry about that. When I started talking, it was exactly when you guessed I had AK. I'm all about bluffing, but I don't like to outright lie." I was being serious. I'll play mindgames, and probably be willing to lie more freely at a casino, but at Jamie's apartment, it felt like a dirty move. To his credit, the guy replied, "Hey man, I would've lied to you in that spot. You've got nothing to apologize about. I was going to fold, too, until you started talking."

Darko chimed in: "You think the dark check helped you there?" He and I both knew the answer. Yes. It created confusion. If I bet out on the flop, I take down a small pot. If I check, he bets, and I have to fold.

At about 8:30, I was texting with wifey Kim, who was out to dinner with the girls. She's be home around 9pm. Wendy had replaced Chris in her seat, and Chris and one other guy were waiting around for a seat. I wanted to see the wife, so I told Jamie that I was out at 9pm. I told Chris as well, since she was next on the list. At 9pm, I racked up and headed home, $213 richer after two hours.

It felt good to be playing well. I curbed some of my natural bad impulses and had good results. The next live game for me is Monday, back to the WSG for two tournaments. Let's hope we can keep this train chugging.

Until next time, make mine poker!

*Yes, stating that Asians are experienced in gambling may be a stereotype. However, it is also culturally and statistically accurate.

posted by Jordan @ 11:30 AM, , links to this post




No Goal

A 2008 Recap post sounds good on paper, but if you really want to know how 2008 went for the HoP, you can read my archives. It's why I gots them!

All that said, I think it necessary to reflect a bit on the one goal I set for myself in 2008. The goal was simple: win $8,000. The results: FAIL!

This year was the first year in the four years I've been tracking such things that I failed to reach my goal. In 2005, the goal was to win $1,200, basically $100 per month. I succeeded. In 2006, my goal was to win $1,800, but when I saw that as doable, I increased the goal to $3,000 and beat that too. In 2007, the goal was to win $6,000, and I hit that mark by the skin of my nose. So, it would seem $8,000 was not an insurmountable task, but frankly, it just didn't happen. My tally for 2008: a paltry $1,500 and change.

It's not a good sign for HoP. Not only did I fail, but it was an epic fail. If there was a silver lining, it would be the fact that I am still profitable overall. I've breaken the 5-figure mark for lifetime earnings (actually did that in 2007) and for a hobby, poker pays a lot better than most. Still, the weak showing naturally leads to thoughts about what it means. From my perspective, though, I think it means little. Allow me to explain.

This is a long term game. Every year I experience that reality all over again, when I face a long period of bad cards, bad luck, or bad play. Whatever the case, I had my period of struggle this year followed by a period of break-even poker. This is discouraging, but the past is the past, and all I can do is look to the future. I know I'm profitable, I still love the game. That should be all that matters for the time being.

My goal for next year? Quite frankly, I don't really want one. I'll probably stick to $8,000 for the year, since I didn't accomplish it this year. Realistically, though, I've come to realize that the artificial start/stop point of Jan 1 - Dec 31 is doing me no service. It might be more interesting to see how long it takes me to reach that $8k goal starting without wiping the slate clean. Rather than asking, "Can I win $8,000 in a year?" I'll ask, "How long will it take me to win $8,000, starting from Jan. 2008?"

For those out there with daily swings of $8,000, well, I envy you. Unfortunately, my online game is very inconsistent and my live play is rarer than I'd like, although I have a nice game set for Thursday.

So, there you have it. A modest goal for 2009, a sad result for 2008, but silver linings. Poker is what we make of it, and for me, it is a lifelong pursuit. Short term or even year-long results only matter as much as you let them. Sure, if I hit or beat the $8k mark, I'd be singing my own praises right now, but that is the beauty of being a self-involved, narcissistic blogger. It's just one of the perks.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:12 AM, , links to this post




Dark Loss

I played poker last night. It wasn't too exciting, though, and my loss was a typical bad-beat-like situation. I won't call it officially a bad beat, mostly because the money went in when I was already behind, but the hand did get me to question one of my past statements.

The game was a $35 buy-in single table tournament at the Wall Street Game. We all started with 3,000 chips, and had reached the second level, 50/100, when my final hand ocurred. Until that hand, I had been mostly quiet. I was down to 2,400 because of some preflop calls that went nowhere. I was UTG or thereabouts when I was dealt black Aces.

My first goal was to bet enough to thin the herd without scaring off the whole lot. 300 would be standard, but I chose to go for 400, hoping that my loose reputation would aid me in getting a bad call. As it happened, it folded around to Darko, in the BB, who asked how much I had left. "You got 18 back there?", he asked, referring to 1,800. "No," I replied, "a bit more than that." I counted it out and added, "okay, not much more. 2,000."

Obviously, I wanted a raise. Obviously, Darko, who is a skilled talker, was trying to get information out of me by asking me about my stack size. I don't remember specifically what I was doing, but I wanted to plant the seeds that I had a weak holding. Whatever the case, he opted to call and even checked blind before the flop came down, 77T.

In this spot, I figured I had only one move. "All in," I announced. I figured that my push would actually look weak, since a solid hand would try to milk his opponent with a lesser bet. The All in was an attempt to look like I wanted a fold. Darko is a sharp one, and I figured he may even call me with AK in this situation. Certainly, he'd call with any pocket pair 88 or better.

To his credit, when Darko called, he kindly said, "I won't even make you wait." He showed TT for a flopped boat. I showed my Aces and when the turn and river failed me, I made my exit.

So, here's the question. In the past, I have opined that checking in the dark is just stupid. It gives up control of the hand, which is something I am loathe to do. But does Darko's dark check show that there is a good use to the hand?

I still say thee nay. As it were, it worked out for Darko. However, anything that Darko did there would've worked. If he pushed, I probably call expecting that he is pushing weak to take down the pot or otherwise betting that I missed the paired flop. If he makes a small bet, I raise. If he sees the flop and checks, I bet or push. In this instance, checking dark looked effective, but as I said after the hand was done, the all-in would've happened anyway. The dark check definitely helped to speed things along, but time was not an issue in this hand.

I still don't see the purpose of checking in the dark, even though the results were promising in this one hand. I'm tempted to try it myself, even, but I will temper that desire because ultimately, unless I see why it can be +EV, I just cannot make that play.

Whatever the case, losing sucks so I have plans to make my money back this Thursday at the WSG. The Thursday game occurs every other week and involves a bunch of suits. It's a different group and slightly higher stakes than usual for the WSG (1/2 NL instead of .50/1), so I'm contemplating if I should change up my style. I can show up as my usual t-shirt wearing self, or I can suit it up to fit in with the rest of the crowd. It's a minor decision, but an interesting one, since I'm essentially trying to predetermine the best image. Assuming that this group isn't the most skilled but have expendable cash, I figure the donkey image might be best. It could get me the action I want, as long as I play tight. On the other hand, blending in may make me seem harmless, one of the guys, as opposed to the outsider tempting all the "locals" ("locals" as a reference to the tables that are filled with locals who know each other and really only want to take money from the rare tourist who sits down).

Not a bad problem to have.

Until next time, make mine poker!


posted by Jordan @ 1:36 PM, , links to this post




I'm Registered...as of this evening

I have registered to play in the Julius Goat Bad Bankroll Management Tournament!

This Julius Goat tournament is a No Limit Texas Hold'em event exclusive to Donkeys.

Registration code: 123456FU

posted by Jordan @ 12:42 PM, , links to this post




Gamble Gamble Gamble (AC Trip Report Pt 2)

Ah, day 2. The night before, I had lost some late night cash playing 1/2 NLHE like a complete donkey. I finally went to sleep around 3 or 3:30 am with headphones playing in my ears. I prefer a little white noise when I sleep, like a loud fan or A/C unit, but there were no white noise appliances available, and I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep in AC without some distracting noise; after all, people are going to their rooms at all hours of the night, drunk, loud, and oblivious to their slumbering hallmates.

I woke up around 9:30, but when I rolled over to check the clock, it looked like 4:30 am, since I couldn't see the top bar of the 9. I wondered why I was so awake, and decided to try to go back to sleep. I finally gave up when wifey Kim started moving. I looked back at the clock and realized my mistake. Since wifey Kim was getting up, 6 hours of sleep would do. Besides, when I'm in AC, sleep is the enemy.

When traveling with 12 people, it's easy to make everything complicated. Rather than get wrapped up in the masses, wifey Kim and I decided to get dressed and find breakfast at our own pace. Since it was Christmas, most places were closed and we refused to wait in the long line for the overpriced buffet. Instead, we ended up getting some crappy looking bagels from an ice cream shoppe type place. Amazingly, the bagels tasted 100x better than they looked.

After breakfast, we stopped at the poker room. It was already a little past 11am and Roose, Hole and bro-in-law Marc were in the Tropicana's morning tournament, a $65 buy-in, if memory serves. I was a bit envious of their opportunity to play, and made the best of it by jumping into some 1/2 NLHE. I don't recall what wifey Kim was up to, but I got in several hours of play.

Marc had busted from the tourney already, but Robbie Hole was doing well and Roose was nursing a shortstack. I considered my options and put myself on a 1/2 list. I was finally seated at a table next to a guy who looked like a young Mark Curry. He was jocular, although his table chat revealed a lot about him. When a player (who was ironically at the table with me the night before when I played like crap) bet $10 on the flop and turn of the first hand, Curry said, "Oh, here's the bully of the table." All for $10 bets!? Shit.

I was card dead. I mean card dead, man. Just ridiculous. But I also wasn't playing well. I lost a decent amount over several hours and decided to switch tables. I had already established a losing image and I was getting no traction.

At my new table, I won a pot on a sheer bluff. I fought back and won some money back, but ultimately got up from the table down $200 or so from the entire session. I just couldn't hit a flop to save my life, and I wasn't playing tight enough to weather the storm.

I stopped by to check on Roose. He made it to the final 4, so I ran some calculations to help him propose a chop. One player refused, so I told Roose good luck and beat feet. I had wifey Kim on the phone and I wanted to see her for a bit.

As it turned out, my brother Dave and his girlfriend Andrea were looking to find some cheaper table games. We decided on the Hilton, which is right next door to the Trop. The Hilton is usually reliable for lower stakes because its a piss poor casino/hotel and its the last casino/hotel on the Trop side of the Boardwalk. Since it's the last on the strip, it gets less foot traffic. Hence, lower stakes.

The four of us headed over. It was surprisingly nice out as we made the short walk. At the Hilton, Dave and Andrea immediately found a $10 blackjack table and went to work. I wanted to play some with wifey Kim, so I just followed her as she chose her game. We ended up at the Wheel of Fortune slots. It was a $1 slot machine, and while we usually don't play slot and very rarely play over .25 slots, since wifey Kim was in the mood, I played along.

The first machine she sat at had an odd Wheel Spin option. On most WoF machines, to spin the bonus wheel, you only need to hit one Spin symbol, which is located on the third wheel. For the machine we sat at, you needed to hit three symbols in a row. I considered this as I checked the wall of machines. They all required the three symbols except for one of the machines, suspiciously at the end. Once I eyed the prize, we cashed out and headed over to the one Spin symbol machine. We were down about $60 when we hit the Spin...and hit for $250. A dozen spins later and we hit again for an additional $25. Two dozen spins later and we hit for another $200.

When we cashed out, we had $500 for a $400 profit. We split the cash and I convinced wifey Kim to join me for $5 min bet craps. We played for an hour or so, both of us breaking even. Wifey Kim then went for some roulette, where she won $50 by playing $25 bets on the outside. We returned to the slots and found a Jeopardy machine with a function much like the WoF's wheel spin. Instead of spinning a wheel, you can hit Double Jeopardy, at which point lights on the Jeopardy board go out until one remains with your bonus prize. In the end, we lost the $50, but felt satiated. We found Dave and Andrea, still playing blackjack, so we bid them farewell and returned to the Trop.

A quick note on the Hilton poker room. The Hilton used to have a big open poker room. Not anymore. They now have about 4 tables right in the middle of the casino floor, with no dividers of any kind. It's like walking down a row and seeing: blackjack, blackjack, blackjack, Spanish 21, roulette, roulette, craps, craps, poker, poker..." It just looks and feels all wrong, since you have all these table games followed by 10 dudes squeezed around a table trying to make actual decisions. I don't think they had anything other than 2/4 Limit running at the time. Frankly, it just disgusted me.*

Returning to the Trop, I had already received a call from Roose that he had chopped the tourney heads-up with the dude who refused to chop earlier. Roose's take was north of $800 profit, which was great news. He was with the other guys playing Pai Gow, so I convinced wifey Kim to stop by with me. Once there, I grabbed a seat and wifey Kim excused herself to freshen up before dinner.

Pai Gow is awesome. The four of us (me, Roose, Hole, and Marc) all won money. I don't think I lost once and ended up $186. The dealer and pit boss were having fun and so were we. The only reason we got up was to meet everyone at Ri Ra, an Irish pub restaurant in the Trop for dinner.

Everyone grumbled as we cashed out of the table, but I was happy. "This is a great excuse to lock in a win, guys," to which most agreed begrudgingly. Upstairs at Ri Ra, we were the first of our party to arrive. We grabbed seats in a side room where a cute waitress was slumped over a lazyboy. The small room was like a private party room, so we all spread out on the comfy couches while some of the single guys started chatting with the waitress. The exchange of the night went to this conversation, about 15 minutes after the four of us and the waitress (who was mostly texting on her iPhone as she sat slumped in a chair) had been sitting around waiting:

Marc: So, is it busy tonight?
Waitress: Nah, not really. I have a few tables.
Marc: Really? And how are those tables doing?
Waitress: Um, I've got to go. (at which point she got up and actually began doing her goddamn job).

When everyone arrived, we prayed we wouldn't be at the lazy waitress's table. We lucked out. The food at Ri Ra was actually great. I highly recommend the creamed spinach, which everyone thought was great. It has a bit of cheesiness to it that works well. Everything else was fantastic too, including the patty melt I had ordered.

Full and satisfied, I joined wifey Kim up to the room. It was probably 9:30 or so, maybe later, and she eventually fell asleep around 11pm. I must admit, I was facing an internal crisis. I knew the guys were playing poker. In fact, we had plans to play 2/4 drunken limit hold'em that evening. But I was comfortable in bed with wifey Kim and tired. I decided to call it a night...until I got a text at about midnight from Roose: "I'm at 2/4 and there's a seat open. Hurry up."

I made a split-second decision and threw on my clothes. I was down at the room in 5 minutes...at which point I saw the list for 2/4 limit had 4 names. I was pissed. I guess Roose didn't know about the list, but obviously the seat at his table was already taken. "That guy's about to leave. Just take his seat." "I can't, man. I can't just cut the list." Man, I am way too much of a good two-shoes, but somehow, cutting the line felt like cheating and I am very conscious of my reputation in the gambling community. I knew that no one at 2/4 limit mattered in the big sense of the word, but I try to conduct myself in a reasonable and fair way.

I strolled the floor to check out my other buddies and saw the young Marc Curry sitting at a table. He was motioning for me to come over, so I walked over when he hit me with a proverbial kick to the sack. "Man, after you left, the guy who took your seat went on a tear. He had Aces and Kings so many times, we had to start making him show." I was livid upon hearing this, but I felt on some level that Curry was just intentionally trying to get me upset, so I didn't give it up. I laughed about how funny that was, full on laughing, as a sorta way to stop myself from going all HULK SMASH on him and the table. It was then I realized that my gambling night was over. That dousche rubbed salt in a still open wound and I knew that any poker would be bad for me.

As I returned to the slumbering wifey Kim, I thought back about what Curry had to say. Ironically, as I left the poker room before the Hilton trip, I stopped by my old table and took a peak at the guy sitting in my old seat. He had less than $200 in front of him. That meant one of two things: (1) Curry was straight lying to me and was trying to tilt me, or (2) the run of great cards for my replacement happened after I left for the Hilton, in which case moving tables didn't matter. Realistically, a million different things would've changed if I had stayed in the seat next to Curry, so I didn't lose anything at all. If anything, I saw this all as a learning experience. Curry tilted me with words and I wouldn't play tilted. At least I could be proud of that decision.

I returned upstairs to bed where I easily fell asleep. The next morning, wifey Kim and I woke up to the sound of her brother Marc talking in the hallway as he walked to my parents' room. We got up and joined them. The crew was figuring out breakfast. The parents all went out on their own, leaving the younger generation to go to breakfast at the Seaside Cafe in the Trop. The meal was decent and the company was great. We all got along well. Wifey Kim, me, my little brother and his girfriend, Roose and his wife, Robbie Hole and bro-in-law Marc. We prop bet through the meal and all left satisfied.

My bro, his girlfriend, wifey Kim and I loaded up the car. The parking garage was pretty far from our room, so once there, we gave up on returning for more partying. We were all pretty exhausted and we headed home.

Overall, I was down about $120. I lost about $550 playing poker and won a decent amount back on table games. I learned that 1/2 NLHE poker should not be played during Xmas anymore. It seems every year that I lose playing 1/2 NLHE during these trips. My mind is on wifey Kim and my time feels short so I push the action. Distraction and desperation are never good for one's game. In the future, I will concentrate on tourneys and 2/4 Drunken Limit Hold'em. With tourneys, the finite chips and life will cap my losses and also help me focus. With drunken 2/4 limit, it's about socializing and, well, getting drunk for cheap. Getting drunk works well with distractions and desperation, like a little trifecta of degeneracy.

For the year, I did not come close to reaching my goal of $8,000 profit. We'll discuss that further in another post. In the end, though, as disappointing as that is, it is merely a blip on my overall poker career. It's one long session until you are dead, and I hope to have many more years in me.

Until next time, make mine poker!

*If the games there were soft and profitable, disgust or no disgust, I'd still play.

posted by Jordan @ 9:39 AM, , links to this post