True in Poker and Law
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
If you've been reading along these last few weeks, you know that I've been in the middle of a trial. Yesterday, we did our closing statements and the jury began deliberating at around 1pm. By 4:30, just as they would have to wrap up their discussions for the day and return for another day of deliberations, they returned a verdict...for the defense.
After spending weeks on trial and years getting to trial, the defense verdict was like a mental sucker punch. On a daily basis, the Big Bossman and I would reflect on how well the case was going. In fact, even after the verdict, Bossman told me that he did not think the verdict was a reflection on my work. He was not 100% sure what the reason for the verdict was. One possibility is simple prejudice, both for a physician (defendant) and against a religious Muslim wearing a full burkah (plaintiff), but I don't 100% buy it. Regardless, as disappointing the results were, I was a bit surprised at my reaction...mostly, I just accept it.
It's poker. That's why I am taking this so well. We took a legal bad beat, but playing poker has trained me for such occassions.
I am a huge advocate for self-reflection in poker. I am not, however, a huge fan of dwelling on bad fortune or things out of my control. For instance, if I end up taking a bad beat in the late stages of a tournament against a donkey who should've known better than to play those cards, I will not bitch and moan about that donkey fucktard who called my all-in with A2o, because I cannot control him. Instead, I'll look back and figure out what I can control, and usually the answer has something to do with an earlier hand where I allowed myself to lose enough chips to bring my stack to a vulnerable level when the A2 hand came. Or sometimes, it's as simple as the preflop raise or the table image that setup the A2 call that took me down. Regardless, that individual hand and even the outcome of the entire tournament may be entirely due to things outside of my control, but it does not serve me to dwell on those things. The only thing I can do is learn for next time and change the things that are changeable.
Since the verdict, people are slowly learning about the results and each time, they ask what happened. It's a fair enough question, but I don't have all the answers they seek. Sometimes, you do everything right and you get a bad result.
It's true in poker and law.
(Oh yeah, and I went to AC last weekend for a bachelor party and won a small sum of $65 playing 1/2 NLHE at the Showboat for a couple of hours.)
Until next time, make mine poker!
Monday, July 20, 2009
The trial is still underway, but thanks to the Judge's schedule, it was a half-day today.
An interesting thing happens when I'm uber-busy...I sorta get on a roll and can't stop. For instance, after a long day of trial and trial prep last week, I went home and proceeded to do laundry and clean my apartment. On most days, I get home and I'm a waste. Wifey Kim actually does the laundry (I do the cooking), but my laundry will sit folded in a hamper for a good 3 days before I can get off my ass and put it away. But not after a long day that capped off a long week. It was like I was set to Productive Mode and nothing was going to slow me down.
This weekend was a good example. I had to go out to Connecticut for wifey Kim's friend who has a new 6-month-old girl. We stayed the night on Saturday, took an early 9:30am train back to NY, and arrived in NY around 11:15. I then headed straight to the office, where I awaited the Big Bossman. We had to prepare for the upcoming week of trial. Long story short, I was there until almost 6pm, and then headed directly to a poker club for a Heads Up Tournament.
I've played in a lot of poker tournaments, but its a rare thing to get to play a HU tournament live. Fortunately, I love HU play and I love live play, so the combo wasn't too difficult. I already knew good HU poker strategy from the old Heads Up Challenges, a series of loose tournaments I had set up in years past online. Maybe I should start up a new one. Lord knows there are worse ways to learn poker strategy than challenges. If nothing else, they force me to play a specific game with real purpose.
I should add something though. Before the tournament, I called my buddy, who was the TD, for a favor. I had to be on a conference call at 7:30 with Bossman and one of my experts. There wasn't a chance in hell I'd miss it, so I said either my matchup gets a break at 7:30 no matter what or I was out. Obviously, the day job comes first. Since my bud was running the show though and HU tourneys are weird beasts, he was able to accomodate.
So while Sean and I are shooting the shit and chatting, I'm also staring at the clock, worried about this match starting. I was hoping to be done by 7:30, but it was already getting pretty late.
Finally, the two competitors showed up. One guy had long brown surfer's hair, almost like James Franco in Pineapple Express. The other guy had tightly cut hair and a full beard. They looked like a couple of surfers washed ashore. I wouldn't've been surprised if one or both of them were stoned. They were definitely hung over.
The draw was completed and I was matched up with the Bearded Guy. In an epic battle of beards, we both came out swinging. In one hand, I bet the river when playing the board (KKQQJ) and he raised. I called because by then, I knew he was re-raising with squat. I was very much in tune to his game, but that's not to say it was easy. I started out folding a lot. At the time, I had shit cards and I didn't want to step in it. I was also establishing an image while the blinds are cheap. But I have to give him credit. He was playing a smart, aggressive game.
With starting stacks of 2,500, I was probably down to 1,400 or less when 7:30 rolled around. My phone ringed and I stood up immediately. I already cleared it with the Bearded Guy before the match began, so he expected it. I grabbed my briefcase, entered the hall and found a stairwell. I then had a 15-20 min conference call with my boss and expert. As soon as it was done, I was back into the club. It was time for some stress free poker, and I was ready to light this fiyah!
Inside, all of the HU matches were moved to the lower room. I headed there and Beard and I got back into it. That break really changed things. There was a definite momentum shift and the timing was right. The blinds doubled every 10 mins in the first round, so it doesn't take long for the stacks to get short, and that's where I shine. I just attacked his stacks with lots of raising. I don't even remember the final hand, because the hand didn't really matter. It was probably a coin toss.
The next match was against a guy I used to babysit. Yes, babysit. My little brother had friends on every block around us, so when I was probably 12-13 and my little bro and his friends were 8-9, I started watching his friends and their younger bros. Poker or babysitting; either way, I get paid.
I used our history to my benefit in the match. I knew the Kid, now a law student ironically, since he was young and it's amazing how personalities seem to take hold very young. I literally played using 'reads' from 15+ years ago. I just knew how this Kid was, so I knew how he'd react to certain situations. He was doing well, gathering chips, but I bluff raised him big when a scare card came and the momentum shifted.
I won another big hand when I called down some big bets with second pair, dousche kicker. To be frank, I read him like a book on that hand. I think he realized it too, because he already looked defeated.
He was very short at 3k (5k starting stacks) and blinds of 200/400 when he doubled up, A5 v. KT. But after that, with blinds getting so high, I just laid on the pressure, much like my first win. It all finally snapped when I called one of his all-ins with K7. He had 87, and I took down the round.
The final round was a doozy. I'll state this: it wasn't my finest hour. The guy I played against looked like he'd be a fun-time, sloppy player, but I was dead wrong. He played a smart aggressive game. I screwed myself when I slowplayed AA, getting him to be the whole way. He flopped bottom pair with T3o (pair of 3s), turned another three and then I raised him on the river. He just called fearing a full house, but as it turned out, I had just screwed myself. But then again, I was trying to maximize value, and if that 5 outter hadn't come, I'd've probably still taken down a bigger pot than I should've against bottom pair.
After that, he just went uber aggressive and I went uber card dead. I fought back when I could, and was down to about 6k (starting stacks of 20k) with blinds of 400/800 before I started with opportune all-in pushes to pick up chips. I was playing shit cards, but I had to given the escalating blinds. HU poker is all about the ebb and flow and right now, I was pushing it hard. It was practically inevitable, then, that he'd start fighting back. After I made a standard raise, my opponent re-raised all-in. I snap-called with KQd. He showed K7o. On the turn, I hit a flush with the 7d. Suddenly, I was in the lead...
But here's the ugly part. Thinking I had him on the ropes, I got into a very odd hand. With T5o, I raised preflop and got a call. I was obviously hoping for a fold. The blinds were probably 800/1600. The flop was 853 with two hearts. He bet and I called. He then immediately announced "all-in blind." Then the turn came out, Ace of Clubs.
What the fuck?! I was trying to figure out the play. I finally settled on the thought that he was playing the flush draw. All I had was a pair of 5s, but I had beaten him on earlier hands with K2 over his Q2 on a 2xxxx board in a hotly contested hand. The push was meant to push me out. I looked up and then I saw it, a smirk. He looked like he was trying to emit confidence. "I call."
He showed 8Xh, for top pair on the flop, with the flush draw. FUCK! Turn was a blank, river was a...offsuit 5. I WIN!
My opponent was obviously upset, so I did my best to be gracious. We got to talking and that's when I realized how well he was playing. He was trying to induce my call. Once I hesitated on the turn, he knew he was ahead (or so he says, but let's assume he was telling the truth). So he knew he wanted a call. That's why he made the smirk. And I bought it hook, line and sinker.
Well, I guess I just got paid to take a lesson. Works for me. Meanwhile, the other semi-final round hadn't even started. It was between two of the guys who work in the room, one of which was the TD, my bud. Knowing my situation, he suggested some possibilities and we finally settled on the following. I chopped 1st and 2nd money. My opponent in the last round chopped 3rd and 4th money. The two remaining guys will play for the other side of the respective chops.
$550 profit. Ka-ching!
It's amazing how the heavy work hours and poker success seem to come hand in hand. Sometimes, it feels like some force is giving me luck when I need it. I feel more keyed in, too. I've been on a roll, and I hope to ride it out a long time. And to do that, I need to keep playing live poker. CHOO CHOO!
Until next time, make mine poker!
Thursday, July 16, 2009
I've been absent all week because one of my trials finally started. I actually started a blog post about my experiences last weekend, but its been so long, I think I might just abandon it. Suffice it to say that I took down a Tuna Club tourney last weekend for $870 after losing $300 there at a Rebuy tourney and cash game earlier in the week. Overall, a fine result.
Until the trial is done, I probably won't be posting much. My apologies.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Stupid Online Poker
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Did anyone else notice that the most recent software update from FullTilt sucks?! I mean, sucks HARD. I am all for improvements, but one of the things I loved about FT was their "Last Hand" button, which shows a visual representation of the hand at the end and the text in a chat box. Now, they seem to have some sorta player that replays the last hand, including all action, something that PokerStars added months ago. The problem was, the Last Hand button didn't work. Each time I checked back, all I got was a blank table with no information.
I think the problem is even deeper than that because my PokerTracker/PokerAce HUD (yes, I know, those programs are out of date) didn't work either, which seems to suggest that I was not getting my hand histories. I'm sure it will resolve itself, but I find it mildly annoying.
To make matters MUCH worse, the new program also grinded my computer's speed down to a trickle. Again, this might be something else, like my Internet connection, but I ended up timing out of a couple of hands, including one where I was dealt AQs and was a shortstack.
Lately, I've really considered just withdrawing every cent I have online. I already withdrew the money I won from the BBT4 and have incorporated the majority of the funds to my live poker bankroll. Of course, wifey Kim got a taste first. Women are the rake. Fortunately, my rake is a piece of ass. Oh, and she's nice too.
Riggstad is in the middle of a series of posts about his expectations for online poker's future. Rigg is actually a very impressive and knowledgeable guy, so I'm interested to see what he has to say. I still maintain, however, that legalizing online poker would be terrible. Let's be real for a moment. It's all about money, right? So the government is going to tax the shit out of the sites as well as the users. I figure it's a no-brainer that any law will require US-licensed sites to submit win/loss statements to the IRS, and may even require prior win/loss statements. Of course, for a guy like myself who pays all of his taxes, that's no big deal, but if there are players out there not paying their taxes on winnings, particularly big winners, they'll be ripe targets for tax evasion charges. Consider THAT scenario. Now consider the fact that the government is likely to take a bare minimum of 30% of your winnings. And if you want to account your losses, you need to itemize your deductions (at least under current law). Granted, with legalized online poker, there will be more donkeys in the sea, but will they offset the taxes taken out of your winnings and the likely increased rake (which will be implemented to help the sites pay their taxes).
All I'm saying is, as we all know, the Golden Age of Online Poker is over, and while we are in the Dark Ages right now, we are not necessarily heading for a Rennaisance.
On a completely unrelated note, I am so fucking giddy to play some live poker tonight at the love child of the Wall Street Game and an Underground Club, which I guess I'll just have to refer to as the Underground WallStreet Game. After all, live poker is the poker I truly love. Online poker is just a convenient lay.
Until next time, make mine poker!
You Decide #69
Monday, July 06, 2009
Hey folks. I have a very simple hand to discuss. It's really a Degree All In Moment type question. Let's get right to it.
We are in a 45-person SNG on Full Tilt with 4925, and blinds of 80/160. There is an 12k stack and a 7k stack at the table, but the rest are between 4k and 960. We are dealt JJ in UTG+1. The UTG player, Surf (4020) limps. We raise to 640 (4x the BB). The next player AnnEye (1930) pushes all-in. It folds back to me. What do I do?
I had a tough decision with this one. A re-push there felt like a super strong hand, like AA or KK. On the other hand, I hate overestimating the quality of play in these $10 tourneys. Since I have 4925, I can afford to lose the hand, but the shift in momentum could be tough to overcome.
So, what do you think? In a situation like this, do you assume you are behind to AA-QQ or otherwise cointossing to AK and therefore fold? Do you think JJ is enough to go to war, knowing that you aren't going to deplete all of your resources on this battle, even if you are incorrect in your decision to call?
Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Thursday, July 02, 2009
I'm starting to wonder if my attack on the nightly $26 PLO tourney at Full Tilt is turning me into Don Quixote tilting at windmills (that's right, bitches; literary references at HoP!). Last night, I decided to extend my diet (once again) to add a cheapo $8 token SNG before the $26 PLO event to try to get into the event a tad cheaper. I figured since it was essentially a satellite, it isn't really cheating on the online poker diet. Of course, I made it to the final table, but eventually went out in 8th place (6 spots pay, 5 get tokens) when my AJd lost to AJh, all-in preflop. I just took a deep breath and accepted it. I had a small-ish stack at 4,800 or so with blinds already at 300/600 (it was non-turbo), so the play is justifiable, even if the results were unfortunate. For the record, it was blind vs. blind, and I pushed and then received a call from the BB.
I then went on a roller coaster ride at the PLO tournament after buying in directly (which, in and of itself is not an issue). I finally met my demise there when I made two questionable plays. I had about 8k when I raised the 250/500 blinds to 1500, employing a standard 3x the BB raise. The table had tightened up some by then. I had KK86, double suited, in the hijack. It folded to the BB who pushed all-in for another 2500 or so. I felt priced in with the pot at 6k+ or so and only 2500 to call. In Omaha, you are never that far behind. Perhaps in hindsight, though, I could've folded and saved the chips. I just felt it was worth the gamble, given the situation. After all, I had been stealing a lot and I thought it may've been a frustration push on the BB's part. Alas, he actually had AAxx and I didn't hit any of my hand, allowing the shorty to double up. That left me with about 3k, so I raised again when I was dealt QQJT, double suited, immediately after. I raised pot, 1750, I think, because I knew I wanted to get all-in preflop or win it outright. I didn't have a big enough stack compared to the blinds to just limp. The Button raised and I called all-in. He had AAxx and once again, I failed to hit anything. LEMON!
What can you do? If nothing else, I'm learning how to play this particular tournament. My biggest issue is late stage blow-ups, akin to the old school Matusow Meltdowns. I suppose I need to find a way to re-double my focus in the late stages and tighten up. Hopefully, if I plug some of these leaks, the rest will fall into place. Lord knows, though, that I'll need a little bit of luck in the PLO tourney. The quality of play is just too sporadic to automatically give most players too much credit. Or course, I wonder if, by calling out this particular tournament, I am handicapping myself by putting too much pressure on. But that's all hogwash. If I can't take down a particular tourney like the nightly PLO $26 on FT, then there is something way wronger than just the pressure.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
Last night I played the 9:15 PLO tourney and then the 9:45 $75 Token Frenzy. Neither went particularly well. I jumped into the PLO late, donked off 1/3 of my stack, made a comeback to have more than my starting stack and then just gave it all away. It was a brutal hand in which I flopped a boat from the SB with K9xx on the KK9 board. I decided to check it since there were at least 6 players in the hand (I think closer to 8). I obviously was hoping to set up a check-raise, but everyone else checekd and we saw the turn, a 4. I bet out this time about 2/3 of the pot or more, hoping that it looked like I was taking a stab at the pot after everyone checked the flop. The only caller was the cutoff player (the button had folded). Until he called, I was a little upset at getting no action. The river was an Ace and I bet out about 2/3 of the pot again. He reraised me about 1.5x my bet, a sum that, if called, would leave me with 1300 or so. I decided to push and he called with KAxx. He rivered me and I so knew it, but I just pushed anyway. Granted, I never considered folding the river, but I seriously considered just calling the raise. With 1300, I could've fought my way back into contention.
But that is nothing compared to how I went out of the Token Frenzy. I played my usual tight game until I tripled up with my AQ vs. AJ vs. 55. I was probably in a safe zone with 4800 or so in chips when I just gave it away. I think blinds were 100/200 and I raised from the button when it folded to me...with the Hammer (72o). The BB called. I then bluffed myself into oblivion after he hit two pair. I can't even give the blow-by-blow because just thinking about it makes me miserable. One of my key rules when it comes to playing the Hammer is to never go all-in (unless, of course, you flop a major hand). Still, I found myself pushing about 3k in on the river because I couldn't win the pot without betting. It was just plain aweful. In fact, I almost didn't want to write about it here because I didn't want to hear the mud slinging of the few douschebag readers who would rather read about a person playing perfect poker every hand. Sorry, guys, but I write about reality, and sometimes, that means writing about my sub-optimal play or posting questionable hands. At least no one can accuse me of only posting about my wins.
Even though the Token tourney only costed me $15, it really stuck in my craw. In fact, it was the first thing I thought about this morning, as soon as I woke up. That's a classic sign of a poker hangover.
It won't stop me though. I won't be playing any live poker until some time next week, so online poker will have to tide me over. At least maybe I can gain redemption tonight.
Until next time, make mine poker!