Upward and Onward
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I went over my spreadsheet today. I am absolutely rocking poker this year, but the simple truth is that I don't play enough. I should try to play at Tuna Club's tournaments at every opportunity. Its been my bread and butter. Out of the 10 tourneys I played there this year, I've cashed in 5 and won 2. The size of these tourneys (around 20 people) seem to be my sweet spot, at least for now, and the prize money is big enough that my bankroll has grown steadily to something resembling an actual roll.
Sometimes I feel like I should be playing higher, particularly when I see these 21 year old kids playing the highest stake games. Then I remember that this game is a lifetime thing. It was only four years ago when I was playing .10 buy-in tournaments online and starting a roll with a couple of freeroll wins at Golden Palace. I've come a long way, and hopefully I will have a long "career" in poker, so I am where I am and I continue to grow.
On a related note, sometimes at the clubs or the poker rooms, I see these perennial losers. and I wonder how these guys get the money and the freedom to keep returning night after night. Of course, some of the players are old guys who have money behind them from some business they sold or still run. But there are more than a few players out there who seem to be constantly playing from their wallet, and I don't mean a poker wallet. I'm talking spending money.
Maybe my own sense of responsibility is holding me back. I identify myself as having an addictive personality at times, but those addictive urges are really kept in check by my natural sense of responsibility, particularly with money. I could potentially play bigger games, but I want to earn my way up the ladder and I don't want to risk wifey Kim and my spending money or home-buying money for a silly game of poker.
Of course, when I really compare myself with these guys who are playing higher than they should for longer hours than makes sense, I realize that my "shortcomings" are probably what keeps me so profitable. The fact that I am responsible means that I play less often, at more reasonable stakes, and I try to make sure that I have an edge. These nightly losers at the NYC underground poker scene have no such limits on themselves. They play too high or too loose. They are indiscriminate about game selection. They are action junkies in the truest sense of the word. The "fantasy" of playing poker 5 nights a week is great in my head, but the reality is actually a lot sadder.
I should admit that I am discussing some things that may not be universal, but more a reflection on the NYC underground scene. At a casino, you have casual players, grinders, action junkies, gamblers, wanna-be pros and the real deal. In the NYC underground scene, at least where I play, you don't have any casual players (from which the other players profit), and that changes the dynamics of the game and the poker food chain a lot.
I don't have any poker scheduled for the near future, but hopefully I can squeeze a game in here or there.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Shalom, good readers. It looks like this will be a good Jewish New Year for HighOnPoker. I guess all the time at temple reading from the talmud has finally paid off.*
The first point of order is the introduction of my brand new website, over four years in the making...HIGHONPOKER.COM! That's right, folks. It looks like the S.O.B. who came up with the HoP name before me finally kicked the bucket. I spit on his grave.
So look for my brand new site, HighOnPoker.com...All the same content, just more .com!
The second point of order is my $1,000 profit from Tuna Club. Big ups to G-d on that one.
It was the weekly $150 Sunday afternoon, long-form tourney. Wifey Kim was hanging with some of her girlfriends, so I decided to stop on by. The game started with a full 2 tables, and there were 22 buy-ins total. It's $160, because of a $10 dealer toke that gets you and extra $1k. If you show up on time by 3pm, you also get a bonus $1k.
I was fairly tight to start off, and finally loosened up when the blinds started to matter and I realized I was at a fairly passive table. By then, I was chipped down, so I decided to start playing more hands for cheap. I really opened up my game, and won a couple of pots with c-bets after raising preflop with less than optimal holdings. Once I got my confidence up, I made a strategic bluff. I held 34s on the button and limped in after the big black guy on my right limped. The SB was a dead stack, and the BB checked.
The flop was Qs8s3x. The BB checked, the guy on my right bet 800 (blinds were 200/400, so the pot was about 1400). I flat called. The BB folded. We saw the turn, an offsuit Jack. He checked. I figured a bet here makes the most sense. I put out 1200 fairly quickly. I was hoping to send out a QJ vibe. By then, I was limping a lot, so a QJ starting hand would make sense.
He took a long time and then finally folded. I showed my bluff and shrugged. He claims he had Q9. I can believe it. I just felt that the time was right for a move, and the story made sense, so I played the role of QJ, and he bought it, hook, line and sinker. He even discussed the hand aloud, finally settling on QJ. I showed the bluff for a variety of reasons, but first and foremost, I wanted to control the flow of information at the table, and showing the bluff helped me do that. It now meant that the table knew I was willing to play tricky and take stabs at pots with crap cards. Perfect.
Once I had some breathing room, I logically tightened up. Then I stumbled upon a hand that really started the ball rolling for me. I held J3o and I was in the BB. A gruff looking white guy two seats to my right (in the 10s, so we were physically far apart) limps in from the button. The black guy on my right in the SB called. I checked with my crap cards.
The flop was a bunch of uncoordinated cards. It checked around. On the turn, I hit my 3. That's right. My lowly 3. I decided to bet out, 500, an obviously small bet, but our stacks were dwindling and I figured that if my 3 was good, all I would need to bet is 500. The button called and the SB folded. We saw the river, another 3. I bet 1,000. My opponent pushed all-in for about 3000 more.
I took my time with my decision. I had maybe an extra 900-1200 more than my opponent, so I would be really short if I called and lost. I had a feeling that I just played into a trap, but that wasn't the end of the story. I ran through the logic.
I was fairly certain he didn't have a better 3, or else he would not have limped preflop. This is player-specific as well as just general common sense. He was not playing a lot of pots, so he wasn't likely playing A3s.
A set. That's what I kept coming back to. I doubt he had top set because the high card on the flop was a Q and if he had QQ, he would've raised preflop. But perhaps he had a lower pocket pair and hit one of the other flop cards. I ran through the hand and it made sense. If he flopped a set, a check on the flop and a call on the harmless turn both made sense. Since he would have boated up on the river, he was free to push all-in over my 1,000 bet.
I leaned forward in my seat to see past the dealer. "The only question is if you flopped a set, isn't it?" I said this with sincerity and confidence. That was truly my only question, but by communicating this, I was also making a threat...I could beat anything but a flopped set. In actuality, I was baiting my opponent to give me information. I can't tell you with specificity what I saw, but I can tell you the general impression. He did not look comfortable. Maybe it was the crossed arms or the way he leaned over and tried to keep tight lipped. It could have been how he initially made eye contact and then couldn't. It was probably all of those things.
He reluctantly tabled KK. I laid out my J3o. The table was audibly surprised. On the Qxx33 board, I took the pot and busted the player, practically doubling up in the process. But more importantly, my table was on notice. I was tuned in, and momentum and appearing lucky (by catching my 3s) are great friends to have in a poker battle.
I continued to stay among the high-middle of the pack for a while. I made another bluff and showed, mostly to remind the table (after I had been playing tight for a while) that I could have nothing. Eventually, though, my tight ways (between my 2 successful bluffs and the J3o incident) caught up to me and I was getting blinded out. We were already down to the final table with maybe 8 players left. Finally, my loose image paid off.
The rest of the tournament can be summed up in two hands. I got KK twice, once when we were down to about 8 players, and again when we were down to 5. In both instances, I raised preflop and got players to push all-in over me, the first time with AQ and the second time with 88.
At 6 players, there was talk of a "save" for 4th through 6th. Dre, one of the dealer/players, refused, since he and I were in 1st/2nd place (pretty close in chips, so I'm not sure who had the lead). This stuff drives me nuts. Why would I, with the most chips by a nice margin, agree to take money out of 1st through 3rd, i.e., the spots I'm most likely to finish in, and give them away to the shorties in 4th-6th as a "save". Fuck "saves." I want my money!
So, while all this chatter was going on about saves, I initially kept my mouth shut, mostly because Dre was objecting, rendering my opinoin moot. Then Harris, one of the players with short stacks, said, "It's 5-1." I had to step in. "Hold on a second. I don't agree either." I finally relented with this idea: "I won't do a save, but if we want to do a chip chop or some other final chop, I'm cool with it." Basically, it's one thing to say that 4th-6th get some of my money for free, but it's another thing to say that I'll pay off 4th through 6th to guarantee me cash that is at or near the top spot. Dre still refused and we played some more.
A litte while later, I took out Harrison with my KK vs his 88. Then another player fell. Down to 4, there were requests again, but I made myself clear. "No saves. Final deal or nothing." We kept playing for a little bit longer, as I accumulated chips. I counted my stack, about 32k. There were probably 87k out there, give or take. I made an announcement. "I'll walk for $1000 profit, $1160 total." The top spot was $1520 or so. Second was $800 and change. I wanted that $1k profit, so I put it out there. 2nd place gave his "price" to quit. That left Dre, who had fallen into 3rd, and one other guy in 4th. The guy in 4th and Dre chatted it up, and we had a deal.
What a weekend! HighOnPoker.COM has joined the HoP family and I'm $1000 richer. Shalom, beeches!
Until next time, make mine poker!
*Jordan is actually a bad Jew and barely understands this sentence.
I Know AC Too Well
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Poker in PA
Monday, September 21, 2009
Good news for poker and Pennsylvania. Bad news for Atlantic City.
About three years ago, a law in Pennsylvania legalized slot machines in certain establishments. This was a boon for Pennsylvania, but supposedly hurt Atlantic City, the nearest gambling site for a great portion of Pennsylvania.
Fast forward to today, and we are on the verge of seeing table games legalized in Pennsylvania. Some articles suggest that poker is on the shortlist of table games to be legalized, but that may well mean games like Carribean Stud or Three Card Poker, basically bastardized versions of poker made into table games. Regardless, real poker will hopefully either be part of the bill or will hopefully come sometime afterwards. After all, its a slippery slope, yadda yadda yadda.
One thing can't be denied: any victory for gambling is a victory for poker. For some people, that may not seem obvious. I'm looking at you, guy who thinks he can get poker legalized by classifying it as a skill game. As gambling becomes more omnipresent, the taboo will hopefully dissipate. Then poker will hopefully be an absolute given.
Of course, this does not bode well for Atlantic City. It certainly sucks that they lost a portion of the slot monkeys. After all, slots probably make the most money per square foot in any casino. But at least the table games kept some of the PA gamblers from entering NJ. With that gone, I would be shocked if any PA gamblers would take the time and effort to travel to AC if they have a gambling hall in-state.
This may be good, in some ways, for AC players, though. In particular, hopefully competition will cause AC to get some of their hotel prices in check. Right now, the AC casinos seemed to have upped their prices to compensate for less visitors. A room at the Showboat can run upwards of $350 per night on some weekends, and the Showboat is not a $350/night hotel. I'm crossing my fingers that AC will be scared enough to actually try to entice more overnight visitors with cheaper weekend rates, instead of milking them like they currently do. The negative, of course, is that some casinos may continue to suffer, the new casinos being built may slow (some seem to already be on hold, but I'm too lazy to look up the situation). That is a real shame, since AC was definitely working hard at rehabilitating itself from a drug and hooker infested gambling den that happened to be on the water to a seaside destination with shopping, gambling and entertainment at a variety of well-appointed hotels.
Just something to think about.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Still at trial. No poker. Twitter is gay.
Feast or Famine
Friday, September 11, 2009
At my old law firm, one of the partners used to have an oft-used phrase, It's either feast or famine. For those a bit thick in the skull, it means that things are usually very slow or very busy, and rarely in between. This is my work and poker life: feast and famine.
My second trial of the summer started yesterday. We picked a jury of 8 concerned citizens, including a matrimonial attorney. Usually, attorneys are never picked for a jury, but in this case, she didn't practice in our area of law (this case is another medical malpractice) and she stated that she was strongly in favor of cash recovery for injuries, something we love to hear. Amazingly, the defendant did not challenge her as a juror, we did not challenge her, and the Court found no reason to take her off of the jury. Once the jury was set, though, she stood up immediately and called out to the judge. According to her, she never expected to get picked for a jury and thought she was just going through the motions. The judge, to his credit, told her too bad. She's on the jury, and that's that. Admittedly, in hindsight, I don't want someone on the jury who does not want to be there, but what's done is done.
So, I'm busy in trial mode, working day to day on the next day's events while juggling my other cases. Poker, meanwhile, is famine. I have not played since my last time at Tuna Club, which feels like a week+ ago, but my brain is so fried, it may've been this week. I had hoped to make an AC solo run on Saturday but my conscience got the better of me and I decided instead to spend the day with wifey Kim. That just reminded me to make reservations. The plan is to check out some Top Chef restaurants, with Prince 24 as our first stop. We already have plans to check host Tom Colccio's (I'm not going to look up the spelling, so, suck it) CraftSteak for our anniversary on Oct. 2. That place is hella expensive, but wifey Kim loves steak and grits and both are on the menu. We tried his flagship restaurant, Craft, a while ago and loved it. Perilla, which I think is from the season 1 winner, is also on our list. I suppose that's one of the best things about NY...the restaurants.
Wow. I expected this post to be about the lack of poker and overflowing work, hence the title, but I guess the word Feast got me off on a tangent.
While on a tangent, it looks like it was a god send that Mama High made me cancel my Vegas trip. Otherwise, I'd be going to Vegas right in the middle of trial. Not good.
Have a great weekend everyone. Win some poker money for me.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Hero Calling Collect
Thursday, September 03, 2009
I returned to Tuna Club last night, hoping to play some 5/10 LO8. I had actually sought out other options, but none really came to fruition and poker was on my mind.
After work, I took my time heading down to the poker room, stopping at Chipotle to see if their "Mexican" food was as disappointing as I remembered. I love Mexican food, but the crap at Chipotle is not even close to authentic. Still, I didn't want to eat at the way overpriced burger place next to the card room, and I didn't feel like the Chexican food place, which for those not in NYC are essentially taco places run by Chinese people, hence the mix of Chinese and Mexican. Chexican food can be delicious, but its always low quality, and I felt like giving Chipotle another go. As for Chipotle, it wasn't bad, just disappointing. The fact that they sell beer was nice though. I had one Corona with my burrito, enough to mentally loosen me up without actually affecting my judgment.
When I arrived at the poker room, there were probably 7 over people, including staff. Only one other person was waiting for LO8. The rest were there for the nightly 2/5 NLHE game. I had brought roughly $500 (I never carry my full roll at these places, since I could lose it all in a police raid or robbery), so I had enough for the 2/5 game, and since I didn't want to wait around for an hour, I agreed to play. It helped that all of the Asian young gunz were on my right, and I had two seemingly crappy players on my left (a slim guy of indiscernible origin with olive skin and glasses on my immediate left, followed by a European guy whose big body doesn't match his small, nerdy head on his left).
Some players were buying in for $200; others for $300. I decided not to be a hotshot and bought in cheap at $200. Anywhere else, I'd buy in for the max, but I haven't really found my comfort zone in this game yet.
The biggest problem I seem to have is that feeling like I should be making more money. Some of the players are stupidly aggressive at times, others are tight and/or passive. But overall, I felt like I should be able to play this table well. Yet, my cards were dead, so I was mostly folding to start.
I only had two noteworthy hands, but of which were pretty bold. The first hand, I held 44 and decided to limp. The guy on my immediate left, let's call him Lefty, raised to $15, which was his standard. I saw him playing less than optimal hands already and he had shed some chips, so when it folded to me, I considered the best play. I could play for set value because his stack was probably around $150 or slightly less, not too bad for set farming. I also sensed his weakness, based largely on his demeanor, so I opted to flat call.
The flop were obviously all overs, Q98, with two spades. I checked and he checked too. That gave me a lot of information. I felt confident that he did not have an overpair (KK or AA) or hit any pair. Most people with the AA, KK or top pair bet out in that situation for fear of the flush/straight draws, and due to the fact that at least there is already something in the pot worth taking (roughly 1/5 of his starting stack). Players who hit the lesser pairs also bet out, thinking that they might temporarily be ahead, but only temporarily if the give free cards. So, that meant he had either an underpair, or more likely, a big Ace, like AJ.
The turn was an offsuit 6 or 5. I checked again and he bet $15. I thought for a moment, considering the fact that I had an underpair to the board, but ultimately made the call.
The river was an offsuit 2 and I checked again. He took his time, which in and of itself was a tell. It let me know, based on his hand movements (first reaching to his chips, then hesitating) exactly what he was thinking: He could only win this by betting, but it had to be big enough to force me out...and small enough that it won't cripple him if I make the call. After all, I was check-calling him down thus far, so he had some reason to fear that I was slowplaying.
He eventually made the bet, $30. I took some time, eying him. I wasn't 100% sure, but I felt fairly confident that he was worried. I decided then to call, thinking that if I were wrong, at least no one would see my shame. He tabled AKo, for nut no-pair. I tabled my 44 and got some oohs and ahhs from my tablemates. The guy next to me asked a couple of times how I could make that call. I didn't want to talk up my prowess, so instead I just shared, "Hey, it's only money!"
The other hand is less exciting, but very similar. I impulsively limped with A8, as did Lefty and maybe one other person, along with the blinds. The board was KK6. It checked around. The turn was a 4. It checked around to Lefty who bet $5. I decided to call. I can't even really explain why. The bet was just so small that I felt I could spend the $5. The river was another low card. I checked and he checked, and then tabled A7. My A8 one by a hair.
Hero calls were the only way I was making money.
At about 8pm, the LO8 game started and I switched tables. There were some new players in the 2/5 game who bought in for $500+, and suddenly preflop bets of $30 were common.
I should mention that the rake at 2/5 is an astronomical $8/half-hour. It wasn't much better at LO8, which is at $6/half-hour.
I played LO8 for an hour. I was up about $30 from NLHE, and gave it all back along with another $115. I finally cashed out at 9pm, a short session mostly because I wasn't loving the LO8. I think my fantasy of LO8 is a lot different than the reality. It seems like a fun time, but at this club, it's just tedious. There is a bit too much gamble and hands take so long that I just get bored. Hence, I got up at 9pm when it was time to pay the $6 half-hour charge.
Losing doesn't phase me in the least. I'm just happy I got to play some.
This poker situation, however, cannot stand. I will have to find a new outlet for poker, which may simply mean heading to Matty's remote location for the time being. But really, I want AC, and I want it bad.
Until next time, make mine poker!
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
For those who don't know, I spent a week and a half in Europe (Barcelona and Dublin, specifically), and then returned to work to an immediate trial. That trial has since been pushed back to September 10, but in the meanwhile, I have to tackle the slew of work that piled up during my absence.
The end result is that this blog has remained stagnant for the longest period I can remember in recent history, and the vacation from the blog has been mostly enjoyable. I'm sure this is all a byproduct of the fact that I played no poker in Europe and since my return have only played one SNG online. I may play live later this week, but I don't expect to play any more online poker for some time. My empty online accounts are mostly to blame (I transfered some casheesh to Roose and left myself with scraps that I since used up on that one SNG). Of course, I'm more than happy to be forced to avoid online poker. Online poker sucks.
Real poker doesn't suck though. I'm just uber busy. But hopefully I can get back into the swing of things and even post something or other. I find that when I take a long break from posting, its even harder to get back into the flow. In fact, this post was originally going to be about how this blog may be ending soon, but I know that's just nonsense. Once I get back into poker, I'll be back here writing about it, so I should just enjoy this blogging vacation for what it is and not put unnecessary proclamations of retirement out there for the world to see.
I wonder what affect the poker break will have on my game. Logic would seem to dictate that I will be rusty, but part of me feels that the lack of poker may invigorate my game by making it feel "new" again and forcing me to focus and play my best. This year has been very good to me, live, so I'd like to keep that trend going.
Of course, the options for poker in NYC are getting shittier and shittier. Matty's game up and moved locations to a place that will likely not be permanent. It's location doesn't seem that great either, in a part of the city where there are no convenient subways, and Jordan doesn't do busses. Of course, if the timing and mood is right, I'll still try it though.
My other option for on-tap poker is the Tuna Club. Sadly, though, the rake there is kinda ridiculous. Sorry to my friend who runs that room (but shall remain nameless). I don't mean to "slam" the place, but I have to be honest with myself. The bad beat drop is ridiculous for such a small room and the percentage paid out is too small to even make it that exciting. The rake, though, is the real bitch. I think it's $7 per half hour. Even at $6 per half hour, that's high for a low limit player. I understand that they are a business and they have a highly sought after product (poker room), but I'm a consumer, damnit, so I have my right to complain. Consider that in the 5/10 LO8 game, you are losing more than a BB every hour. If a usual win rate is somewhere in the 1 to 3 BB/hour range, you are breaking even or giving away 1/3 of your profit in rake. Those are numbers I just pulled out of my ass, but the logic is still sound. It just makes these games awefully difficult to beat, and while I am all for the fun of poker, winning money is the fun part.
As for AC, with my ridiculously busy schedule lately, it's just not in the cards (pun intended). I will certainly keep my eyes open, though, for a break in my busy life, because I love poker way too much to leave it on the sidelines.
Back to the grind for me, but not the poker grind.
Until next time, make mine poker!