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Stays of Execution

Let's kick this off with a small taste of humble pie and a big congratulations to 1QueensUp1, who won the Mookie after beating me heads up in the Skillz game. Through his back-to-back wins, 1QU1 effectively shut my trap hard about my 1st place May leaderboard position by smacking me down to an irrelevant 2nd place by a 20 pt margin. Thank god I didn't post the Mr. May post that would've extolled my greatness. I'll sell you the post for $5, 1QU1. It looks like I'll have to make the points in the Big Game on Sunday. Any word on whether the Sunday Brit Bloggerment is going, or whether it counts toward BBT4 points?

But the stays of execution that are really killing me are entirely unrelated to poker. Rather, they are the stays of execution I am suffering in three upcoming trials. The world of litigation, particularly personal injury litigation (which encompasses medical malpractice, products liability, construction accidents, car accidents, etc.) is a world of conflicting forces. On one side, you have plaintiff attorneys, like me, who are paid on a contingency basis. The only way my firm sees a dime is if we settle a case or successfully bring it to verdict and win for our client. Otherwise, we see nothing.

Our firm thankfully specializes in higher value cases, meaning I don't have any of the slip-and-fall or soft tissue injury (ow, my back hurts) cases. But that also means that our cases are expert-intensive, usually requiring an expert to explain to the jury what went wrong, one or more experts to explain to the jury the injury, and sometimes multiple experts to explain other aspects of the injury, like future lost wages or the cost of a life care plan. And all those experts get paid BIG money. It's probably one of the best rackets going. A testifying doctor could demand upwards of $10,000 a day for his appearance at trial. Less bold experts still demand $8,000 or so. And, they are 100% necessary. You cannot bring a medical malpractice action unless you have a doctor willing and able to testify about what the standard of care is and the deviations by the defendant doctor resulting in the plaintiff's injury. So, if every expert demands $5,000 or more, you're going to pay $5,000 or more or lose the case.

So, we have a system where my firm pays out decent money out of pocket for experts, not to mention other expenses like Court fees or fees for Court reporters, and doesn't see a dime until the case has been concluded. This is a great system because it allows lower income people to secure top notch representation (provided they shop around and have a decent case). NYC attorneys routinely charge upwards of $500/hr., so without a contingency fee arrangement, most people could not afford counsel. Plus, it keeps everyone's goals in line. The plaintiff and the plaintiff's attorney want the same thing: a speedy resolution with the best possible outcome for the plaintiff.

The conflict comes when you look at the world of defense. Now, not all defense firms work this way, but many of them do. I should know. I spent a year doing defense before I switched over to what some people idiotically call, "the Dark Side." (Side note, the woman who made that comment was the defendant against me in a child molestation case. Just to put it all together, I was representing a molested kid and I was the bad guy.)

Most defendants have insurance coverage, which chooses and pays for the defense attorney. Usually, the insurance companies have favored or contracted firms, who have agreed to significantly lower rates than the $500/hour previously quoted, because they know that a good relationship with an insurance carrier means lots of casework. So, the defense counsel's rates are a mere fraction of the plaintiff counsel's rates. The insurance company doesn't want to pay out any money on claims, and the longer they can wait the better because that money is earning interest in an account owned by the insurance company. If a defendant can put off paying $1,000,000 for a year, and the interest rate is a modest 2.5%, that insurance company has effectively earned itself $25,000. Of course, there are countervailing risks, but still, it is usually to the insurance company's benefit to delay trial and in doing so, delay paying. Meanwhile, the defense attorneys are paid hourly, unlike contingency-fee plaintiff's counsel. So, the defense attorneys are all too happy to drag a case along because every time something is adjourned, it just means another court appearance and more money in the defense firm's pocket. Attorneys in that structure are often under pressure to bill a certain amount of hours a year, either through a straightforward requirement, a bonus system, or social pressures within the firm. So, delaying the case gives them more billing hours.

In the end, the plaintiffs (and their attorneys) are trying to get through litigation as quickly as possible, as long as everything is done thoroughly; the defendants want the case to take as long as possible.

Now, with this framework, allow me to discuss the frustration of these stays of execution. It's not my execution that is being stayed. It is the litigations', or perhaps, if I am hopeful, the defendants'. I have three cases all ready for trial, two in NJ and one on Long Island, and each have been calendared for trial on at least 5 occasions...and each time, they get adjourned. There is nothing worse than anticipation turning into disappointment. And ironically, up until Wednesday of this week (the same day 1QueensUp1 broke my heart), I expected two of them to start almost simultaneously.

But guess what happened? One was a pure fluke. As we were about to start picking a jury, I received a telephone call from my expert doctor, who was to testify about what went wrong during the delivery of my infant client. It turns out that his wife is good friends with the defendant's wife. Shit! So, last minute, he decides he can no longer be our expert.

This effectively required us to delay trial. No problem, I thought. I have two other cases ready for trial in NJ. That is, I had two other trial ready to go forward. Then I got a call from one of the defendants that the Court accepted their 9th request for an adjournment because one of their experts is on vacation for the entire month of June. Fine, then. I have one case ready to go to trial, that is, until this morning, when I received an email from the same Court informing me that my one last case is adjourned as well. And this time, there was no reason given. It could've been that the Court was just too damn busy to deal with us right now.

Wah! I can't go to trial. Wah!

The pain is that each time, it's like prepping anew. If you want to do a trial right, you need to know the case cold. So, there is a lot of prep work. And even though I did most of the prep work already, I have to go over it anew each time. And there is no benefit to me, the firm or my clients. The clients don't get their money fast, the firm doesn't get paid fast, and I'm running on a legal treadmill.

And....end complaints.

Now, all I can do is focus on Sunday.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:46 AM, , links to this post




HAHAHA

Julius Goat's animated series of interviews with poker hands is ridiculously hilarious. Top quality work from a top quality goat. So, just in case you haven't seen them yet, go to Julius Goat's site, or for the most recent episode, click HERE and don't forget to backtrack to his earlier episodes.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:49 PM, , links to this post




PLO Tournaments, the Last Bastion for the Uber Donk

I stated in the last post how Stud is not a game that should be played in tournament format. Well, the exact opposite is true with PLO High. It's not that Omaha is a game that is designed for tournaments; rather, the appeal is from the fact that most PLO online tournaments are chock full of TERRIBLE players. I mean TERRIBLE! Worse, by far, than the donkiest of NL Hold'em tourneys. Why? Most likely, it's because of lack of experience combined with the gambling nature of PLO in general. Regardless, it's a beautiful sight.

Here's the hand that exemplifies the stupidity of some PLO online tourney players. This was a $5k Guarantee tourney, with a buy-in of $26 or a token. My guess is that these donks used tokens.

With blinds at 40/80, I had already accumulated 5,310. UTG folds, and UTG+1, whose name is LoverKid (KidLover?) raises pot to 280. KidLover has only 2,850. With AKKQ with two spades, I re-pot it to 920. It folds to McLovin who has 23,585 and is in the SB. He calls. The action is back to KidLover who re-raises all-in for 2,850 total. I decide that my very strong hand is likely ahead and has some decent draws if I am behind. But I don't want McLovin in the hand if I can avoid it, so I re-push all-in for my full 5,310. McLovin, though, is emboldened and calls the nearly 5,000 more. I assume I am screwed and likely behind AAXX. In reality, these are what my opponents held:

KidLover: QJT9 with two clubs.
McLovin: Q993, doubled suited hearts and diamonds.

These are both terrible hands. KidLover was nuts to raise in the first place, but to re-raise all-in was just pure suicide. He must've known that one of us would call, at which point he'd have to cross his fingers and hope for the best.

While McLovin had chips, his play was pretty crappy as well. He was obviously playing for the flushes, but a Q-high or 9-high flush is hardly the nuts in PL Omaha.

The board was Js 7d Ah 2d Ac at showdown, so for good measure, I hat three of a kind Aces, good enough to beat KidLovers two pair (Aces and Jacks) and McLovin's two pair (Aces and Nines).

Man, what donkeys.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:08 PM, , links to this post




Four Seats Will Have to Do

So close, yet so far.

I took 2nd place last night in the Skillz Game, which just plain sucked since I was hoping for my fifth BBT4 win. My last hand was absolutely atrocious, but I think fatigue set in and I was so short that I had foolishly decided right away to keep raising until I was all-in. That was just awfukkit poker, which is never a pretty site. But before then, I was on FIYAH!

TripJax has been writing about luck lately, and last night exemplified one of his main themes: I made my own luck. After a while, I could psychically feel the growns of my fellow players as I "got lucky" time and time again. And for a decent amount of those times, it was true. I won my fair share of coin tosses and hit my fair share of strong hands. In fact, when I was about out, I turned quads to triple up and put me back in the game. Later in the evening, I was down to a few blinds and doubled up, back-to-back, to put me right back into the thick of it.

But, there were other times when I made my good luck. Mostly, it was through relentless aggression when I had enough chips to weather a loss. It was also through making tough decision, like the hand we are about to discuss.

So, we are in the Skillz Game, playing a Limit Stud tournament. Let me state once again that I do not think Stud games should be played in tournament format because once you weather the useless early stages, you are essentially waiting for the late stage push-fest. Last night, I came up with what I believe would be a fine solution to the shortcomings of Limit Stud Game tournaments: a timed tourney with flat blinds. Essentially, it will be who can win the most chips in X amount of time rather than who can get lucky in the late stages. Of course, an even better solution would be to leave the Stud games to cash tables.

The blinds are 300/600 with a 50 ante. We are 7-handed. I have 5,887, in 3rd place for the table. There were a couple of shorties with 1,758 and 2,001. It is worth noting that this is a knockout tourney, which pays cash for each player you knock out.

I am dealt 5c 6s/As (i.e., 5 and 6 in the hole, with the Ace exposed). Cardgrrl (6,593) is the bring-in for 100 with a 3c showing. Four players fold (with a Jack, Ace, Queen and Ace showing, respectively) and I complete to 300. At this point, I have to assume that Cardgrrl has jack squat. The only other player left to act was BoneDaddy, one of the shorties with 1,758. To my surprise (and delight) he raises to 600. He has a 6c showing. That effectively squeezed out Cardgrrl even if she was thinking of calling me light. I call. He has less than 1,200 left and I have more than 5k.

On fourth street, these are our cards:

HoP: 56/A9
BD: XX/68

I have diddly squat. The pot is 1,650 or so. I check. BD bets. I take my time. Here, it seems like I have to be beat. He definitely has a pair AND I don't even have many good over cards. The Ace is ok, but two Aces are already out of the deck. The nine isn't that mighty either, since BD could easily have a better pair in the hole. HOWEVER, look at the situation. I can only loose so much AND I stand to take a bounty. Even if he has a pair, there are a lot of cards to come. Perhaps others fold here, but the deciding factor for me was the pot odds. I figured out the math and realized that I had to bet 1,200 to win about 3000+. Add in the bounty $ and the fact that I had enough chips to weather the loss and it seemed like a no brainer. So, once I decided that I wanted to take this to the river, I raised. Why? Because I want to see the final 3 cards so I might as well pay the toll now. I raise to 600. BD re-raises me and I cap. BD is all in and we see our actual hands:

HoP: 56/A9
BD: 6K/68

I'm clearly behind, but it's still worth the gamble.

After 5th Street:

HoP: 56A9T
BD: 6K682

After 6th Street:

HoP: 56A9T7
BD: 6K6829

On the river:

HoP: 56A9T78...or a straight to the Ten
BD: 6K6829T...or a pair of 6s

Now, I have no illusions about this hand. I got lucky. But I made my luck by (i) accumulating enough chips earlier that I did not fear losing, and (ii) recognizing the pot odds were favorable when combined with the bounty $.

With my 2nd place finish, I may have locked up the May Leaderboard. I can only hope. Congrats to 1QueensUp1 for the win. At the end, when we were headsup, I realized that we both already had TOC seats. I considered offering a chop, but really, it just didn't feel right. Of course, losing in 2nd didn't feel much better.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:31 PM, , links to this post




The Leak: WSOP Prop Bets Finalized

Hey peoples. As you may recall, a while ago, I suggested some WSOP Prop bets. One idea was a pool, and 9 players total (myself included) each put up some casheesh, and picked three players in a draft. The pool works as follows: 1 point for every final table and 3 points for every bracelet (win). That's 3 pts total, not 3+1. So, without further adieu, the various rosters.

Lastman
Daniel Negreanu


Michael Binger


J.C. Tran

Dawn
Phil Hellmuth


Kenny Tran


Erik Seidel

HighOnPoker
Phil Ivey


Erick Lindgren


Vanessa Rousso

Edgie
Scotty Nguyen


Huck Seed


Humberto Brenes

Aposec
Chris "Jesus" Ferguson


Justin "ZeeJustin" Bonomo


Gus Hansen

CK
Bertrand "Elky" Grospellier


Alexander Kostritsyn


Jon "pearljammer" Turner

Reyes
Allen Cunningham


John Juanda


Freddy Deeb

CEMfromMD
Mike "the Mouth" Matusow


Eli Elezra


Paul Wasicka

Junkbutton
Barry Greenstein


Andy Bloch


John Phan

I also have an over/under bet with CEM for $10. I set the line for Main Event participants at 7103 and CEM took the UNDER.

I also have a series of prop bets with Ingoal. They are as follows:

Main Event Entries ($5) - I set the over/under line at 7123. Ingoal took the under.

Bracelet Race ($10) - Most bracelets from a stable of three horses. I chose Phil Ivey, John Juanda, and Scotty Nguyen. Ingoal's picks are Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein and Phil Helmuth.

Player of the Year ($5) - I picked Beltrand "Elky" Grospelier. Ingoal picked Negreanu.

Bubble Boy ($5) - I chose Negreanu for the double whammy. Ingoal picked Michael Matusow.

Good luck to all participants in the pool, as well as my competition in the individual prop bets.

If you would like to make a prop bet with yours truly, hit me up with a comment or email ASAP.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 6:25 PM, , links to this post




Nail Biter

The BBT4 has really given me a shot in the arm. After winning a couple of events and running up the leaderboard with not even 1/2 of the games played as my contemporaries, I decided to actually make an effort to climb the May leaderboard for a chance to win the $2,000 WSOP prize package awarded to the #1 spot. After my win on Monday, I finally catapulted myself to the #1 position on the leaderboard, and the nail biting has begun.

On Wednesday, I played in the Mookie and went out in the middle of the field when my QQ ran into AA preflop. The person who felted me was none other than qrs1, the #2 spot on the May leaderboard. That is clearly the worst case scenario.

Meanwhile, Tuscaloosa John, in the #3 spot, was still in the tourney too. As I went about doing other things, I kept an eye on the tournament. Thankfully, John was out not too much later than I was, but when I finally decided to go to sleep aroun 12:45am, qrs1 was already at the final table, in probably 7th place.

This morning, before shitting, showering, or shaving, I was online checking qrs1's results. He placed in 7th out of 75 people. GULP! I kept an eye on the May Leaderboard today, probably refreshing it dozens of times before it was updated. To my amazement, I still hold the #1 spot with 539.1 points, but qrs1 has closed the gap in the #2 spot with 524.2. If he had placed one spot higher in the Mook, he'd probably be in 1st.

So, what does this mean? I guess I'll be playing every event possible for the rest of the BBT4, which is fortunately only one more week. I'll be biting my nails the entire time in a hope to keep qrs1 and Tuscaloosa right where they are.

As for the casheesh I've won in these events, well, I cashed out a decent chunk (by regular mail) because, frankly, online poker still sucks compared to live poker and based on my Win/Loss ledger, online poker wins only count if I cash out. Any deposit online is an immediate loss, because to me, the only real win is the type you can fold (or, I suppose, jingle, if the game is small enough). It might stop me from playing a bit higher stakes online, but that's more of a positive than a negative.

In other nail-biting news, I have three cases ready for trial and one finally will start in the first week of June. The other two might start at the same time though. Just fucking lovely. It's feast or famine, people.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:35 PM, , links to this post




Enough TOC Seats for a Small Dinner Party




CHOO CHOO!

Another fine blogger tourney win, brought to you by High on Poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:08 AM, , links to this post




A Missed Line (Cocksucker Companion Piece)

How could I forget to mention one of my favorite lines of my interaction with Chipmunk. After he slowrolled me, he asked me what I had. I was incredulous. Lord knows I wasn't going to give up free information after he slowrolled me. So, I did what any mature individual would do. I gave him the middle finger.

"I had one of these, okay?! Even better," I acted as though I was reaching into my pocket with my other hand and pulled out another middle finger. "There. I had a pocket pair. Fucker."

Tee hee.

Until next time, make mine poker!

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




Slowrolling Cocksucker (Turning Stone Trip Report)

"YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, COCKSUCKER!"

The kid looked back at me like the lovechild of Hiro Nakamura and Cory Haim. His round face was comically accented by the fly-catcher mouth, as though his jaw was too weak to take the full weight of his cheeks. I continued,

"you SLOWROLLED me!"

He did. That little cocksucker slow rolled me. It had already been a long day at the tables, and the last thing I needed was this mongoloid chipmunk slowrolling me. He had a stack of easily $1,800 at a table where the max buy-in was $200. I, meanwhile, was handing over all but $50 of a stack that was about $250 just a moment before.

I had no business being in the hand in the first place, with 23s. I was UTG and it had been a card dead day. I started off at the 5/10 LO8 table with Craig, wifey Kim's friend's fiance. We were in town for a bridal shower for Kim's friend, and since Craig loves poker as much (or moreso) than I do, we decided to spend the day at Turning Stone. I love some LO8 action, so I was more than happy to play the game when we arrived at the casino. We were at the table for a good 2 hrs or so (including a break to get a great turkey burger patty melt at the Turning Stone's foodcourt), and the old farts were just too nitty to make the game interesting. I was down $180 after a couple of hands where I was drawn out, and decided to transition to NLHE as a way to get a bit more control over the cards.

When I arrived at the NLHE table, I was placed in the 10 seat. I could see, though, that the serious chips were in the 1 seat, where the Asian Chipmunk was perched. As I neared the table, I noticed a fat white guy in the 2 seat chatting to the Chipmunk. He said, "Maybe he'll liven up the table." I guess calling his Chipmunk tablemate a cocksucker livened things up a bit, but that wasn't going to happen for another 2 hours.

In that 2 hours, I remained card dead. In fact, for the entire session, my best hand was 77 (once), with AQ once or twice. I knew, though, that I was not going to force the action, so I did my best to remain patient. Of course, I failed on one account. I got more than my fair share of suite connectors, and if I could get into the pot for cheap, I was happy to play them. In hindsight, that's what got me into trouble in the 23s hand, but we aren't quite there yet.

I also planned on getting better table position, since it did me no good sitting in the 10 seat where I was to the immediate right of the two largest stacks at the table, and, not coincidentally, the only two players worth worrying about at the table. I moved three times, finally ending up in the 4 seat with a straight view of the Chipmunk. All the while, he was catching extremely lucky, raising with crap hands like T9o preflop or K7, only to hit major hands, usually on the river. In two such hands, he went runner runner with his K7 on a AK5 flop that ended up AK577 against another player holding A5 for a flopped two pair. In a few others, he hit inside straight draws to take down pots unexpectedly.

Even though he was playing crap cards, it was clear that Chipmunk was in control of the table. And I was happy to let him take control. I just wanted my shot and after 2 hours, we came upon the hand that ended in the C-S word.

I limped UTG with 23s hoping it would be a multi-way limped pot. Hell, for $2, I could easily fold without concern, but if I hit right, it'd be a well-hidden hand. Of course, this is all just justification. In reality, the limp was marginal at best, but terrible after a bunch of limpers were met with Chipmunk's late position raise to $11 or so. Without thinking, I called and then remembered that I did not have 22, like I for some reason thought, but rather 23s. In some ways, I would've rather been playing for set value, which is a lot easier to get away from if you miss. With 23s, I could easily get trapped into playing a bad flush draw. There was maybe one more caller and we saw a flop: A4x. Lovely. I had an inside straight draw and decided that the best course of action was to simply check. My two opponents followed suit. The turn was a 5. I checked again, knowing that Chipmunk was likely to take a stab. When it checked to him, he bet out and I raised. Amazingly, the other guy over-called and Chipmunk followed suit. The river was another 5. My only concern, then, was that someone was playing an odd combination of cards that gave a full house. Other than that, I was golden. But when Chipmunk bet $50, which was less than my last raise, I decided to just flat call. Something about the development of the hand led me to decide to hold onto my last $50, just in case. When the other guy folded, it was just Chipmunk and me. I waited for him to show.

I should mention here that Chipmunk was slowrolling a lot, but I kept my mouth shut because it wasn't me he was doing it to. I could've said something earlier, but I wanted to be a non-entity at the table until I was ready to take down a big pot. Most of the time, he'd just wait for his opponent to show first, but sometimes when he would show, he would show one card at a time. Fine, I thought. Let him try that on me.

He did try. At showdown, I waited patiently for him to show his cards. He just stared at me with his Mongoloid mouth agape. "What you have?" "You sure first, boss. You were the aggressor." He waited a tad longer and started to flip up his cards, one at a time. "I have a 5." For a moment, a good several seconds, I was relieved. He just waited and I insisted, "And the other one?" He slowly peeled off an Ace, for a full house.

THAT SONUVABITCH! I thought. "What the hell was THAT, man?!" I asked as much as yelled. "What?" he looked at me as though he were confused. Moments before, as he peeled off the Ace, though, he looked to my neighbor on my left and smiled as though he was proud to be pulling one over on me. And that brings us to the first quote of this post.

"YOU KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, COCKSUCKER!"

I was enraged, in a sense, but I was also very much in control of my actions and emotions. I wanted to put the fear of god in him because up until this point, everyone was putting up with his bullshit. I wanted him shamed and I wanted him worried for his own safety. All of this is my way of saying that I wanted to tilt him or at least throw him off of his game enough so that he started making errors. After all, for all of his crazy play, he definitely knew what he was doing and he was running the table from a position of fear. Everyone fears the "lucky" player.

He just looked at me like the retard he was: "I don't understand. What did I do?"

A sloppy fuck in the 7 seat chimed in. "He didn't do anything man." This same fatso was trying to buddy up with the Chipmunk earlier, joking that they were the two Asians, even though fatso was as white as a Klan uniform. He joked about how he played with enough Vietnamese to be an honorary member.

I turned to fatso and set him straight. "You don't know what the hell you are talking about man. That's a slowroll." He replied, "I bet all he needed to win was the 5." "First off, you have no fucking idea what I was holding and I'm sure as shit not going to share it with you. Second, I don't give a fuck what he needs to win. He slowrolled his fucking cards either way."

The Chipmunk looked back at me with scared eyes: "I don't understand." I responded, "Don't pull that shit with me. I've been watching you for hours and you know exactly what you are doing. Ever hear of a slowroll, mother fucker." He looked scared but clearly was putting on a front, "What's a slowroll?" I answered, "It's in the fucking title. SLOW. ROLL."

By now, my neighbor to the left, leaned into me and offered some kind advice. "Don't even get into it with him, man. He knew exactly what he was doing." I thanked him but I knew what I was doing, too. I wanted the Chipmunk to feel fear. I even considered one of these two lines before I decided that it was not worth getting thrown out of the casino: Line 1- "We can finish this conversation when you leave the room later." The other one was even better. Line 2- "I wouldn't be pissing people off if I had to walk to my car later with $1,800 in cash." See how those might get me in trouble?

Ironically, thoughout all of this, the dealer didn't let out a peep. I expected a warning. After all, I skipped right over the F word to use the C-S word. Maybe there was no C-S bomb rule, but the F-bombs came out shortly after.

Surely, I was livid, but as I calmed down I ended the conversation with this simple truth. "I don't mind losing the pot. I just mind when the winner acts like a little fucking bitch!"

A pot or two later, I got lucky on a rivered flush to double-up and then some. Soon, it was time to leave and I racked up.

I lost $274 on the trip, $180 at LO8 and $94 at NLHE. It was a good trip regardless, and as Craig and I walked to the parking lot, I let out one last truth: "I'm glad I had words with that little cocksucker. Now I have something to write about besides losing $274."

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 6:58 PM, , links to this post




Random Thought

With the advent of Full Tilt's site-wide tournament breaks every :55 to :00, I wonder how many porn sites and the like get a sudden infestation of socially inept online poker players every five minutes to the hour? Sundays must require extra bandwith.

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




Betting for Balance

Just a few days after stating that poker strategy posts were difficult since flexibility is king (or should I say, flexibility is aces), I come up with a brief strategy point. Go figure.

I was reading Recess Rampages' recent posts about a hand where he played KK in a multi-way pot, and it got the old poker juices flowing. In the hand, played at a 1/2 NLHE online full table, he ended up seeing a J98 rainbow flop, 5-handed after raising the flop to $9, in MP (2 players to act before him and 2 after). It was checked to him and he posted the question, what would you do? My answer was to bet $30-35 to get information.

In his next post, RR made the correct statement that gaining information should never be the sole reason to make a bet. I agree. But then again, how can any bet be solely to gain information?! Surely, gaining information is a side effect of many bets, but a raise alone cannot be solely about information. If you think your opponent doesn't have it, and you "raise for information" it's a bluff, where you are actually seeking confirmation (i.e., information) regarding whether your read is correct. Likewise, when you are betting to "gain information" in a hand that you think you are likely good, but willing to fold to a raise, it is an inherent value bet. After all, you are betting to get more money into the pot while you are ahead AND part of that bet is to confirm (through information) that your read is correct.

Which brings us to the next point. RR suggests that a bet should be either a value bet or a bluff. Now, RR probably could out-theorize me about poker easily, so this is not a knock on his posts, play, beliefs or understanding of the game. It's just another view point. And here it is: in an ideal world, you don't bet to bluff OR value bet when you have a hand like KK in that spot. You bet for equilibrium. You bet so that it is a bluff to those hands who have a good chance of catching up, it's a value bet to those hands that are strong but weaker than the KK, and its a probe bet to those hands that are so strong, they'll raise. A bet can be everything at once, provided that it is sized right.

In a perfect world, every bet will do a few things. It will serve to protect your hand from lesser hands who may draw out. It will get called (as a value bet) by inferior hands who are not likely to catch up. It will push out some hands that already are ahead. It will induce action and therefore information from superior hands, to allow you to fold your non-nut hand.

It may not be possible to do this in every hand. If you have nothing, then usually, your bet can only be a bluff, but this isn't even 100% true. Take, for instance, a hand where you have 32o in the BB, flop a bottom pair against the SB, and then the min bet the turn (after the flop is checked), get a call, and then check the river, only to learn that your turn bet was a value bet against an unimproved AQ. Not likely, you say? It happened to me last night.

So, was I bluffing or betting for value? I was doing BOTH, and seeking information by the bet. I bet low enough that some unimproved Ace-high hands would call, but I would have also been happy to push out my opponent with the weak bet. I don't remember the board, but maybe my min bet could got a better 3 to fold, like K3.

Plainly put, it just isn't black and white. A good bet will be gray. It will induce calls from inferior hands like the unimproved AQ, and push out players with superior hands. And hopefully, for the trifecta, when your opponent has a hand that is vastly superior or strong enough that he will not fold to your gray-area bet, he will indicate his strength with a raise.

The key then, isn't to ask yourself whether you are betting to bluff or for value. Rather, the key is to find that bet that is both.

A quick caveat. As much as the goal is to reach that balance with a nice gray-area bet, this cannot always be done. There are times when a bluff needs to be a pure bluff, and other times when a value bet is merely a value bet. But those moments are usually fairly clear. It's those odd times, like when you are facing 4 opponents and a fairly coordinated flop with KK in mid position that a gray-area bet will work the best. Because after all, you want value for your hand, but you don't want to give away free cards.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:22 PM, , links to this post




When in South Jersey... (AC Trip Report)

When I found out I would have to be in South Jersey on a Monday, I checked the fridge for the monthly free room offers I'm always receiving from Atlantic City properties. I heard opportunity knocking and once I confirmed that the rental car costs would be the same whether I picked it up Sunday night or Monday morning, I booked the only free room I could find, a spot in Atlantic City's Harrah's.

Yesterday, after seeing my family for Mother's Day, I returned to the apartment and prepared for the trip. I picked up the car at around 4:45. My plan was to get to Harrah's, check in, and probably play their 8:15 tournament. The buy-in was rather small at $58+12, but I was still mentally licking my wounds after a -$800 swing a couple of weeks ago.

I arrived at AC at about 7:15pm after hitting a decent amount of traffic escaping the city. The ride was easy, thanks to a Garmin GPS navigation unit and Howard Stern on my iPod. I lugged my heavy workbag and backpack into the hotel. Harrah's self-park garage is pretty much on the opposite side of the hotel as their lobby, so I took the slow walk from the garage across the casino. The place was busy, which was a bit surprising given the fact that it was a Sunday night and the economy is shit. Harrahs also did a nice renovation. While I could still find my way around the casino using my Casino Sonar, the place looked fresher than ever and the make over, while subtle in some areas, was rather impressive.

I got to the lobby after walking through several gaming pits and found a wall of computers made for humanless check-ins. Sweet! I wasn't planning on trying to upgrade since I was solo, so all I wanted to do was get a room quickly and dump off my stuff. I found a free machine, swiped my credit card and saw my room choices: Smoking Queen Beds in one of the less desirable towers. It was a free room, so I didn't expect much, but I hit the "change room" function anyway and crossed my fingers. Amazingly, a couple of clicks later and my worst room in the casino was exchanged for a non-smoking room on the top floor of the Marina Tower. I found a clerk and asked, "Where is the Marina Tower?" She pointed about 10 feet away to a huge sign and a bank of elevators. BINGO!

I was up to my room in no time. Amazingly, I was fairly close to the elevators. Usually, with free rooms, I end up with the furthest room. When I opened the door, I was surprised once again. The room was fantastic. The king sized bed was nicely appointed. The TV was a large flatscreen. The room also had a sitting area with a couch and lounge chairs. And the oddest thing of all (to me at least) was the fact that the room had dark wood floors instead of the usual carpet common in hotels.

Of course, I made these assessments in about 90 seconds, during which I threw my stuff on the bed and fumbled around in the dark, too rushed to go through the effort to find a light switch. Almost as fast as I'd arrived, I was gone, back to the elevator and on my way to the poker room.

I've already mentioned the casino's makeover and the rooms' makeover, but the best makeover of all was at the poker room. When I was last at Harrah's, the room was small, in sorta a back alley of the hotel. There were a decent amount of tables split off into two sections, with maybe 20-30 tables total. That's no small room. But the room still felt small time. Maybe it was the location or the decoration, but it felt like afterthought.

The new room, though, is a lot more sophisticated, for lack of a better word. I would assume there are closer to 40 tables in the room. While it is still split into two sections because of a walkway, it feels like one big room. The decor is a lot of dark woods, along with WSOP photos around the room in varying sizes.

As I neared the room, I saw the one cashier window had about 7 players waiting. I knew from my experiences at Showboat (the official Atlantic City Casino/Hotel of High On Poker, and a Harrah's property) that the cashier probably handled the tournament buy-ins, but I made my way to the floor person kiosk anyway, with the hope that I could avoid the long line.

"Where do I sign up for the tournament?" I asked. The floor was a squat bald man with glasses and a horseshoe ring of dark hair wearing a dark suit. "Which one?" This was the first I heard there were multiple tourneys, so I asked back, "You tell me. What do you have?" Apparently, aside from the 8:15, $58+12, Harrahs was running WSOP Satellites in some upstairs location. I asked about signing up for the $70 tourney and was directed to the cashier's window. "In that case, I'll take a seat at 1/2." He directed me to another floor person in the back of the room.

As I previously mentioned, I have been licking my wounds after a -$800 week (an amount that may seem small to some readers, but for my under-bankrolled ass hurt). Still, I had a craving for some NLHE cash games. I had resigned myself to possibly playing the tourney, but it was oddly too small. I didn't want to play for hours only to bubble or win $75 profit by coming in the lowest money spot, and in these tourneys, it is generally a crap shoot at the end anyway, so those scnenarios were just as likely as winning the damn thing.

I walked the length of the room and waited patiently while the floor person stared blankly at a computer screen. Two fat chicks were waiting in front of me with a bunch of $1 chips, clearly trying to get a seat at a "juicy" 2/4 limit game. Hahaha! Waiting was driving me nuts and after 5 or more minutes, the floor finally sat the ladies. It was then that some douschebag player in his early 30s decided it was time to swap recipes with my floor guy. I understand the pleasures of being a regular, but if you feel the need to flirt with another male, do it on your own time, buddy. I was there to play poker and it wasn't my fault that the dousche's only friends were those he would tip. I finally just stepped in front. "Hey man, can I just grab one of these empty 1/2 seats?" "Just a moment sir." Holy shit! I stayed calm, but boy was this getting annoying. When I finally got my seat, I was then told to go to the cage to buy chips...and once again saw a 7-person deep line at the only open window.

Thank fucking god, some Asian guy was trying to sell off his chips on the line. I bought $200 immediately and returned to the table. I usually buy in for the max, but the table's stacks were fairly short and I wanted to warm up a bit.

The table was actually a pretty good crew. In the 1 seat was the only female, a cute brunette with dark curly hair and a fresh face and smile. She also wore a low top, showing the curvature of her natural cleavage. Let me take a moment for a brief message to our female readers:

There are few things in life as sexy as the natural fall of a woman's breast; often, it can be sexier that even the push-uppiest push-up bra.



Next to the Chick in the 2 seat was a fat guy with a jovial spirit. It was clear that he knew the Chick and it eventually came out that they lived together. To his left was a generic white dude with a soul patch and backward cap, probably in his mid 20s. Next to him was a skinny white dude with boyishly good looks. What? That doesn't make me gay. He was also a good kisser.

The Boyish Guy was clearly going to be one of the action players at the table. It didn't take long to figure that out. His chattiness was a giveaway if his demeanor alone wasn't. To his left and my immediate right was another big guy wearing an orange sweatshirt. All of the people I've mentioned so far were chatty the entire evening. Most of them seemed to know each other. In fact, they may have all known each other. Certainly, the Chick, the Jovial Fat Guy and the Boyish Guy knew each other. It seemed like the other two players, Soul Patch and Orange Shirt were friends with them as well.

On my left was a quiet guy who eventually left to play the 2/5 game. Once I heard he was on that waitlist, I figured him for a decent player. His play actually matched that description nicely. To his left was a real loser. The guy must've been in his late 40s, wearing a Giants jersey. He was a chatty guy mostly with his neighbors, but he'd say the stupidest things. To his immediate left was another 2/5 player, a white dude who looked very serious. He had the headphones in and generally seemed very paced in his movements. I could tell he was a baller, likely a professional grinder, which was somewhat confirmed when I learned that was also on the wait list for the 2/5 table. So the Loser limps and the Baller raises and when a bunch of people fold back to the Loser, the Loser folds and says to the Baller, "I had KT." Why, dude? I was happy for the info, but why announce what he had there. All he did was confirm that he was limping light and would fold easily to pressure preflop.

As for hands, well, I didn't take any notes. But I can tell you that it was essentially a very easy time for me. I had a great feel for this fun-time table. That was really what made it such a great time. I was tuned into the table moreso than I have been in a long while. When you are tuned it, opportunities begin to arise. They were always there, but they just become more obvious. You can get a feel for bet sizes that throw off certain players, or you can tell when momentum shifts and dictates a change of strategy.

The whole experience reminded me of the importance of your table make up. There are times where I feel I cannot get anything going, but this was not one of those times. I didn't make any huge pots or large bets, but whenever I was in a pot, I was usually in a great position. Granted, I also hit hands. This wasn't moreso than natural, but I had a bad run of luck in some recent cash games (although not in the BBT4 tourneys!) and had resigned myself to missing most flops. And for what its worth, I didn't have many premium hands either, with only two JJs and maybe two AQ, with nothing higher.

In the end, the main advantage I had was good reads combined with conservative postflop play (preflop, once I realized it was a limping table, I was able to open up my range in position). I knew, for instance, that I was better off calling in position preflop with my JJ after a raise by the Boyish guy because, well, he would hang himself with weaker pairs and I could get away from the hand if he hit one of his many overs. A re-raise preflop could've been effective too, but unlike tournament play, I was trying to build a pot instead of protect my hand. I also had to consider the generally small pots played by the table. If I raised too much preflop, I'd push out weaker hands (like underpairs) and definitely get called (or raised) by superior hands (QQ-AA), and get called by hands that can beat me (like AK or AQ). At another table, I might get calls from some smaller pairs or I could string along an AK/AQ even if they missed the flop, but not this table. In the JJ hand, by the time the board reached the river, there were three kings out there. Foolishly, the Boyish guy finally checked the river, announcing almost as an afterthought, "I guess we are pair vs. pair." That's all I needed to know that my pair was better than his, so I was able to comfortably place a value bet out there that he had no choice to call. I then did a bit of the ole weak-means-strong until he took the bait and paid me off. He had 99.

The key to the table was the friendly vibe. It made it a limp-heavy table. Limping tables are great if you excel at post-flop play. They are also great because the limping tends to get people to open up their starting hand requirements. Pots can be built, but most of the building is post-flop, after you already know 3 out of 5 of the community cards. That cuts down on a lot of uncertainty. Probably the best part, though, was the ability to control pot sizes.

Ah, but this is all very loose stuff. The bottom line was, it was a friendly table and I kept it lighthearted and friendly as I slowly siphoned chips from my smiling competitors.

At about 9:30, I was absolutely starving and asked to see the poker room's menu. The food was very expensive, but I figured I could go for the official gambling food of High On Poker, a grilled cheese (which was probably still almost $10). When I asked the floor, he warned me: "Okay, but this could take a really long time." I knew of a deli-type area with $13 overpriced crappy burgers sitting under heat lamps, but that didn't appeal to me either. That's when I learned of an additional renovation, the creation of a mini food court called Tastes of the Boardwalk.

I took the walk over the food court and was happily surprised. There was a pizza place, a sandwich shop and some other booths. I opted for sandwiches and waited patiently in line. When I got to the front, I asked the cute cashier if I should get a Philly Cheesesteak or Chix Parm. She recommended the Chix, so I followed her advice. That's a quick lesson in random eateries; the staff will usually be kind enough to let you know when one dish is particularly sub par (no pun intended).

With food in hand, I returned to the table. Some people had shifted seats and there were some new faces, but not many. Things continued on course, as I slowly accumulated more chips.

At about 9pm, I had thought to myself that I should set a time to stop playing. I was in town for work, after all, and I wanted to get sufficient rest. Poker sometimes gets the adrenaline going, though, so I knew I would need ample wind-down time.

By 10 pm, I had already finished my first cocktail and was ordering my second. At the end of every cash game session, I usually have a few drinks to celebrate a victory (or drown a defeat). It also sets me up to relax afterwards.

At 10:30, my internal alarm clock sounded. I was up a decent amount and when my neighbor, one of the few truly clueless players (actually, the doofus who announced his amazing KT laydown preflop...he had moved seats) got up, I decided to follow suit.

I walked to the cage, where I cashed out $465, up $265 for a few hours of work. I then took the reasonable walk to the Marina Tower, without a second glance at the casino table games. The best thing I ever did was quit casino table games (with the sole exception of play with wifey Kim or with social gatherings).

The next morning, I woke up to the sounds of douschebag ladies in the hallway gabbing about some such nonsense with their shrill voices. I contemplated getting up to ask them to go elsewhere, but I finally just reached of my iPod and put on some trance music as background. I finally re-awoke an hour or so later.

Once I had showered and donned my business attire, I returned to the food court for an egg sub (way too big for one person for breakfast...I ate half and tossed out the rest). The breakfast sub was as good as the Chix Parm sub from the night before, which, by the way, was good, but not great. The Chix Parm was essentially cubed or shredded chicken, grilled not fried, with mozzarella sauce and a touch of tomato sauce. It needed more sauce because of its dryness, but overall was much better than anything I could've gotten at Harrah's shitty deli. The egg sub also surpassed my expectations, which were albeit low. The bacon was a bit lacking (in quantity), but anything was better than the usual crap casino fare. Overall, that's a big thumbs up to the new food court. On that note,

Hey casinos. We know you like us to spend our hard earned money on expensive eateries, but sometimes, a man has already spent his paycheck on your godforsaken slot machines. Get a food court and we'll both be happy.


Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:19 AM, , links to this post




Anyone Want a Second Spare TOC Seat?



CHOO CHOO!



Another fine blogger tourney win, brought to you by High on Poker!

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:00 AM, , links to this post




The Problem with Poker Lessons

I've been mulling over poker a lot, since I plan on hitting AC on Sunday night (before a South Jersey inspection on Monday morning for work...SCORE!) and have been enjoying some recent small success online. In fact, the night after I took down the Skillz game, I final tabled and took 9th place money in the Mookie. If Tuscaloosa Johnny would just slow down for a minute, I might even have a shot at the May leaderboard and a $2k WSOP package. I am also nipping at the heels of Lightning36 for the 5th place spot and a bit of casheesh on the overall leaderboard, still after playing less than 1/2 of the tourneys played by the folks in 1-5. The nearest competitor with my paltry sum of games played is in 35th place, so I'm running pretty hot when I play. Now, I just need to play a tad more to fight for some of those top spots.

Of course, I've also been thinking about poker strategy and I've come to one major conclusion about the difficulty of discussing poker strategy in a blog. Aside from random revelations from time to time (this being one of them), the real key to poker when you get beyond a basic level of competence, is learning how to be flexible. It isn't enough to merely know how to play AKo out of position, because frankly, every time you play AKo out of position, the circumstances surrounding the hand matter. Hell, they should dominate your considerations. So, it is not enough to learn how to play certain types of hands. Rather, you have to learn how to play cetain types of hands in a multitude of different ways. This also includes learning how other players play, whether they follow your style or not. I can't stand people complaining that "He called with that crap?!" because usually, that player has been calling with that crap all night, or that player was acting in reaction to your piss poor play, or the table conditions are such that it was more likely that the player was going to call with crap, or a multitude of other possibilities. It doesn't matter that you knew to raise preflop with AA. If your opponent catches lucky with 38o and you blindly keep re-raising yourself to oblivion, you are better off considering how you can account for donkeys playing crap cards rather than rant about how these donkeys exist. Yes, they exist, and they aren't necessarily 24 hour donkeys either; sometimes they misclick, other times they are tilting. Either way, flexibility is what matters, so that you don't just play a hand in a robotic manner. Flexibility is even more important when you lose too. After all, you need to be able to roll with the punches in this game.

Of course, the other reason why it is difficult to write strategy is because I'm really not learning anything new. I'm trying to refine my game by getting rid of some bad habits, but its the same bad habits I've always had. They say that people don't change, and I believe them. You are what you are, faults and all. You can work on them - in fact, you should work on them - but those faults will be always present.

Otherwise, life just keeps on moving.

I have about 5.5 people (one person showed interest, but I need to get their new email address) in a group WSOP prop bet, and also have at least one other side bet going. If anyone is interested in a WSOP prop bet or a pool, let me know.

The pool will involve each player choosing 3 poker players (we will work out a draft system). Over the course of the WSOP, you get 1 pt. for each final table and 3 pts. for each bracelet (a bracelet is only worth 3 total, not 3 for the bracelet plus 1 for the final table). At the end of the WSOP, the player with the most overall points wins the casheesh. The buy-in will be $20, and its a fun way to keep the WSOP interesting from start to finish. I need your email if you are interested, so either leave it in the comments, or email me at HighOnPokr (leave off the last E for -EV) at Yahoo dot Compadre.

Until next time, make mine poker!

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




Anyone Want a Spare TOC Seat?


CHOO CHOO!



Another fine blogger tourney win, brought to you by High on Poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:56 AM, , links to this post




WSOP Prop Bets - What are you waiting for?

Look, guys. I know how it is. But really, how could you not be interested in a good ole WSOP prop bet? Gambling makes EVERYTHING more interesting, including gambling. Just think about that. That's like ordering a BLT with a side order of bacon. You know you want it. So, what are you waiting for?

Check out the last post for some prop bet suggestions. I'd love to get a group prop bet going, so mull it over a bit, try some bacon-covered-bacon, and when you are good and ready, I'll be waiting.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:42 PM, , links to this post




The Leak: WSOP Prop Bets

Last year (and, I think the year before that), I had a great time making some WSOP prop bets with various bloggers and readers. Well, it's about that time again, so if anyone is interested in getting in some prop bet action with yours truly, drop me a comment or shoot me an email at HighOnPokr (leave off the last E for -EV) at yahoo dot compadre.

In the past, I have had a variety of prop bets and I'm willing to consider just about any prop you can imagine. However, I do have some basic guidelines.

1 I will not make any bets over $20. Why? Because I want to spread the wealth around over many bets, and quite frankly, this isn't a money making venture as much as it is an excuse to follow the action.

2. I will not take any bets under $5. Why? Because it actually takes a lot to keep track of these bets, and it's easier to send money via online poker sites when its $5 or more.

3. I will not necessarily take your action. Simply put, I want to make bets, but I won't just take any bet because you suggest it. BUT, I expect to accept way more than I reject.

4. Bets don't have to be for money, but I'd prefer it. Wanna bet a banner ad in the sidebar or maybe the loser has to make a post extolling the virtues of the winner. Perhaps the loser has to buy the winner a poker-themed t-shirt or send the winner a used poker book. All's good to me.

5. I will not accept any prop bets that cannot be confirmed from an official news source (read: PokerNews or whoever is doing the daily coverage). Last year, I made a bet on who would win the lime-throwing contest between Pauly and Otis. I chose Pauly and as far as I was concerned, I won. But my opponent had it in his head that we bet only on their first lime toss or maybe it was that he read somewhere that they broke even. Whatever. All I know is, I don't want that to happen again, so we are only betting on things that can be easily confirmed by the poker media, individual blogs not included.

So, here are a few ideas:

Total number of Main Event entrants. This can work one of two ways. Either you can choose a number and I'll choose the over or under, or I can choose the number and you can choose the over or under. Either way, I'm going to win. Yep. Mad skillz.

Most cash won. This can be done with individual players (you choose one, I choose one) or by teams (you choose 3 players, I choose 3 players). We can choose teams of any size, but I wouldn't want to go higher than 5 and I'd prefer 3. It's the magic number! Of course, we must confirm whether we are going to count the cashes cumulatively amongst team members or score based on the individual team member with the highest cash won.

Most final tables or bracelets. This one is actually VERY different than most cash won, even though it seems so similar at first glance. Also, the betting can be done in a different way. Instead of $X to the player/team with the most final tables or bracelets, we can put a price tag on each table/bracelet. Also, final tables can be worth $X and bracelets $Y. For example, you and I both choose three players each. If a player gets a final table, it is worth $5. If they win the tourney, its $20 (not $20+5, but just $20). At the end, we'll tally it up. I don't mind paying out more than $20 (i.e., multiple bracelets), but I don't want any individual bet to be over $20. Makes sense?

Last Longer bets. You name the event (main event is usually the most common) and how many players each team gets.

Big Pool Prop Bet. This one will be a first for me, and I'm just making it up as we go. Just about any of the bets above, except for the ME attendance bet, can be done amongst multiple people. It may be fun to do a big pool where each participant will put up a set amount of cash (likely $20) and we draft players for either a ME last longer, most final tables, most bracelets, or most cash won. If we do this option, I'd have to collect the money in advance. But, if you are interested in that idea, let me know and I will set up an interest list. Include your email or a way for me to contact you. You can leave it in the comments or email me. I left my email toward the beginning of this post, but always feel free to use the Email tab at the top of my page.

So, there you have it. I have some ideas, but I'm open to others. If you are interested in a prop bet, let me know.

One final thought: A hearty congratulations to Buddy Dank and Joanada on their engagement. I have had the good fortune to spend some time with both of the happy couple and I can say with utmost sincerity that they are not only good people in general, but good for each other.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:25 PM, , links to this post