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All American Poker

Last night, I played at Matty's refugee game, a homegame/cardroom hybrid. The game originally started in midtown Manhattan several months ago, but when the landlord learned that the apartment was being used for something other than a domiciliary, his game had to find a new home. It ended up in someone's apartment, and hence, the weird mix of a homegame/cardroom atmosphere.

I arrived a tad early and was greeted by the guy who lives in the apartment, Eric the dealer, and ASG, a reader and pal who I had originally introduced to Matty's game when it was still in midtown. The apartment was fairly empty, so after a while, I made a call to bro-in-law Marc. Marc is a cash game guy and when I play in the city, I'm usually playing tournaments, so its rare that I can actually convince him to join me. But the 1/2 game at Matty's was right in Marc's wheelhouse, so I made the call and he agreed to join.

Eventually, Jeff and Sean showed up. The four of us (me, ASG, Jeff and Sean) started four-handed with no rake. I love shorthanded, and it didn't hurt that I was hitting flops and dragging pots. I had played with all of these guys before, and I had played with Sean a bunch of times, so I already had a fair impression of each of their games. That certainly helped a bit, but probably not as much as the flopped full house (Q5 on a Q55 flop, where I was able to get decent value from Jeff's Q9), flopped two pair (with QJ after which Sean hit his lesser two pair with QT on the turn) and a set (55 on a 579 board). It wasn't just flopping hands, although that helped. The key was extracting value; my reputation helps that a tad and it helped me build some breathing room before the table filled up.

One of the oddest things about the homegame were the slew of kids who joined us in hour 2. They were all Indian (curry, not feather). I hadn't played at Matty's game for a while, but from the conversations both before the Injins arrived and while they were around, it was clear that this poker terror cell had become not only regulars, but the highlights of the game. And for the record, I realize that Indian and Injin and the Arabic implication involved in the term "terror cell" are all different people, but I couldn't help but feel when playing with the group that they really felt like a terror cell. I mean, Jesus H. Christmas, a bunch of young, dark skinned males with a questionable source of money, ethnic appearances (American clothes, but somehow off-kilter), speaking in foreign tongues. I couldn't help but feel after losing a hand that I may be funding the next attack; of course, on the other hand, every pot I won, I won for America (Fuck Yeah!).

Overall, the Terror Cell wasn't that bad. They were a ragtag group, and even though they were of a different stripe, it didn't take long to see that they individually fell into the same archetype as would any other group of 20-something guys. One guy was the uber-serious nerd, skinny with floppy hair, glasses, wearing headphones, with a constant slacked-jaw. Another was the maniac, with a pile of dark hair on his head like the Indian-haired version of a high flattop. He was a bit pudgy, and the nerd would goad him on after making a stupid call (which, more often than not, the maniac won). The kid on my immediate left was a tall, broad guy, almost like the meathead or jock of the group. He was quiet and based on his play, didn't come off as too intelligent. Another was the suave guy, better looking and dressed than the rest. There were probably another 2 or 3 others, but you get the point.

Apparently, there were some issues about language. Basically, in previous games, the Cell would all chat in Indian at the table until someone finally said something. They were admonished, but according to the guys who had played with them before, even after being instructed to speak English only, they tended to speak Indian here and there. I can understand how that might occur accidentally, since it was clear English was not their first language. In fact, there were a couple of times that I was going to say something before I realized that they were actually speaking English through their thick accents. When they did revert to their native tongue, the other regulars, Jeff and Sean mostly, would say something. "ENGLISH ONLY!"

My most bad-ass hand of the night came fairly late. I held A9o and decided to limp from EP/MP. It was a limp-heavy table so I was willing to see a cheap flop. Right here is where I will state that A9 is not a good hand to play in these situations, since it is easy to be dominated if you hit your Ace. But, it was cheap and I was already up at least $200 on my initial $200 buy-in, so I called the $2. There were probably four other callers preflop and we saw a AQJ flop with two spades. It checked to me and here I can't remember if I bet or checked. I think I checked and another player, a white guy with a bald head and a sports coat and blazer, bet out. It folded to me and I called. Something told me that this guy was not particularly strong, but another part of me feared the AJ (flopped two pair).

The turn was a 9 of spades, completing a flush draw. My opponent bet again and I called again, relatively quickly this time. I still feared AJ but my spider-sense was tingling and something about my opponents demeanor made me more confident in my two pair, Aces and 9s.

The river was an 8 of spades, making a four-flush. My opponent had $53 left and I think the pot was probably closer to $60 or more. I checked for the last time and my opponent moved in. Then he stood up, climbed on top of the table, and screamed in my direction: "YOU HAVE ME BEAT!" Okay. Not really. But he may as well have done that. Even though there was a four flush and a four-card straight (a Ten made a straight) and two over-cards to my second pair, something told me that I had this guy. That something was the stare-down. While I tried to make my decision, this guy stared at me dead on, trying to burn a hole through my head. This is a classic Caro poker tell: strong means weak. He tried to look strong by looking at me dead in the eye, but it only showed me how weak he was. My read was aided by his silence. He seemed very conscious of his movements and lack thereof. It was clear he was uncomfortable.

From that tell alone, I was fairly confident that he did not have the flush; the other possibility was that he had a tiny flush, but I didn't think that likely given how the hand played out. Even so, I still took my time looking over the board. Even though I pegged him as missing the flush, I still feared AJ or AQ, two hands that could scare my opponent into putting on the strong-means-weak even though he was actually ahead.

By this point in the game, I was up about $200 (holding steady from before). Time for audience participation: Should having a big stack or a decent amount of profit in a cash game dictate one's calls? In my heart of hearts, the answer is likely no. After all, you should be making decisions based on the hand and the info available, and I don't consider my own profit to really be a factor in that math. But in reality, I often allow it to help make decisions. It's a lot easier to make a hero call with profit than with my initial buy-in.

Make the call I did, and my opponent announced, "Two pair." He then flipped over A8. My A9 took down the pot, and my new Terror Cell friends were surprised. "There were four flush cards out there!"

When 10:50 rolled around, I announced loudly to the table, "This is my last orbit." A moment before, Sean and the table were chatting about a new phrase he made up, "orbited." It's used when someone decides to play "one more orbit" and gets felted for their efforts. Hearing this right before my announcement, more than a few people commented about how I was about to get orbited. But that didn't stop me much.

I made some big hands of the evening playing suited gappers, so with maybe 5 hands left to play, I played 68h in MP for a limp. There were probably 5 other callers preflop. The flop was a glorious 579 with two diamonds, giving me, much like the cupless hockey goalie, with very vulnerable nuts. I bet out $11 in EP, hoping to get some action. As soon as the bet left my hand though, I started to regret it. It was too low. Bro-in-law Marc called and to my delight, the nerdy Indian raised to $60. It folded around to me. At this point, I was up maybe $250, for a $450 stack. Aside from the manic Indian, I was easily the chipleader. I decided to push. I wanted to either win the pot outright or give him the wrong odds to call with a flush draw.

Marc was still in the hand and took his time. He looked like he was having a hard time and eventually called all-in for his last $100 or so. I was hoping that would scare off the nerdy Indian, but he called too for another $160 or so.

I showed my cards almost instantly, but since its a cash game, this wasn't required. Neither of my opponents showed their cards, but I was fairly confident that someone was on the nut flush draw. There was some light chatter about doing business (running the cards two or three times and splitting the pot two or three ways, depending on the various boards that develop), but Marc doesn't "do business" and I don't usually either. I was anxious about the flush draw, so I finally said, "Just deal it!" The turn was a 3 of diamonds. The flush draw hit. Fuck. The river was a blank.

"Okay, who has the flush draw?" I asked, expecting either my bro-in-law or the nerdy Indian to flip their cards. Nothing. Neither was on that draw. I took down the pot, played three hands and cashed out, up $630. Thank god I announced at the beginning of my last orbit that I was calling it a night. Otherwise, I would've felt like an ass felting two players and leaving.

I'm tempted to return there tonight. Time will tell if that happens. I have Sunday free, but I'm considering doing something other than poker. Then again, the Tuna Club Sunday tournament is always juicy, and I won my last three Sunday tourneys there, so I'd love to build off of that streak.

It was a bit odd playing with some people who actually read this blog. Jeff made a couple of references, like saying "Until next time, make mine poker," when I won a big pot. The guys at this game are a fun crowd, particularly that guys who know of the site (Matty, Jeff, Sean, ASG, etc.). I'm just glad that I still have some anonymity at Tuna Club (or so I hope).

I am now less than $200 from my annual goal with two months to go, a trip to New Orleans in Nov., and trips to AC and Vegas in December. It's poker season!

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:10 AM, , links to this post




Why I Suck at Online Poker

Here is my confessional. I have been playing online poker again. And I suck at it. Here is why:

Last night I played the Mookie and a 45-person SNG on Stars. I went out on the bubble in the Stars game and at around 11:45 in the Mookie (played for 1:45 hours). Now, tell me how anyone can play optimal poker under these conditions:

1. I started about 10 minutes late in the Mookie because wifey Kim got home at around 9:55 last night and I wanted to spend some time with her.

2. Either the TV was on or I was listening to Howard Stern for the duration of the tournament.

3. I was surfing the web during the tournament.

4. I was running programs on my computer to increase its speed and get rid of viruses and useless filler during the tournament.

5. I was intermittently having conversations with wifey Kim during the tournament.

6. I was not using any programs to help me ascertain my opponents tendencies (i.e., PokerTracker and its ilk).

7. I was not paying attention to hands that I was not in because I had too many other things happening.

8. I was not sober.

I mean, what the fuck! Why even play poker with all of those scenarios going. This is the #1 reason why I focus on live poker. When I play live poker, I do it with purpose...making money. And I love it. I love watching the players, gathering reads and tells, analyzing hands, getting into the flow of the game, and socializing with the other players at the table. I love the competition of it all, and I treat the game and myself with respect.

Online, I play it as though I am playing a very slow lotto.

This, my dear readers, is the bottom line on why I am not a very consistent online poker player. If I play my best, my results are much better. Case in point, my largest win came on a weekday afternoon when I was home from the office sick. I was stone cold sober, bored as shit, and had nothing and no one to distract me from the game. I was tuned in and the results speak for themselves.

Now, that is just one tourney, but it is symbolic of something much greater.

Right here is where someone is thinking, "So quit bitching and cut out the distractions." If only it were that easy. Recognizing there is a problem is the first step. Resolving it comes next. The answer to me is to simply continue my online poker diet. I know that I probably will not get myself down to no online poker. I just love poker too much to not have it accessible when live games are impossible to make. But I can make an effort to remind myself why it is no good for me, mostly because when I play online poker, I choose to play poorly.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:11 PM, , links to this post




The Leak: Death

Hey folks. It's time for another episode of the Leak, where Jordan shares ways that he wastes his poker winnings on bad bets and other money holes.

This Leak is also an invitation.

Jamie from Wall Street Poker is running a Death Pool for 2010. As the host of a long-running home game with season-long prize pools, I can attest that Jamie is a perfect candidate for running such a pool. He's responsible, meticulous, and loves a good social gamble.

Plus, Jamie has resolved a lot of the issues I had with prior Death Pools. Humans only, bonus points for youngins and a seemingly reasonable approach to what constitutes a 'celebrity'.

I, for one, plan on entering, and my dark horse (I'm looking at you, Dakota Fanning) is coming along for the ride.

To get all of the details, check out Jamie's Death Pool post.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:57 PM, , links to this post




You Decide #70...Once Again

I read the comments to my last post from Hoy, Drizz and CK and I think its worth one more post to highlight a very intelligent point made by these players and to admit that, yes, sometimes, I have to eat some of the ole humble pie and admit that maybe I don't know everything...maybe.

My mistake was this: I couldn't see how Hoy could say with certainty that my opponent had the nut straight. I thought there were other hands that made sense there too. That may be true...if the only piece of info I had was the board and the bet on the turn, but with everything leading up to that point, the writing was on the wall.

As explained by the aforementioned trinity (guess who gets to be the Holy Ghost!), given the amount of players in the hand up to the flop, when one of those player flat calls the flop bet on a highly coordinated straight board with a flush draw and then leads out when a harmless card comes on the turn, the player has a straight.

In hindsight, I can't see how I missed that obvious point. What other player flat calls on the flop and open bets on the blank turn. It ain't two pair or a set because those guys are probably still scared of the flopped straight board and want to see more cards for cheap.

I probably got too wrapped up in the fact that I checked the turn. I took that as him taking an opportunity to bet out and steal the pot with a weaker holding, which still makes sense, in a way. But just as likely (er, let's admit it, way more likely given the five preflop players) one of the players who made the flop actually hit his nut straight and the turn card simply emboldened him to take down the pot right away before one of the flush draws hit.

So, thanks to Hoy, Drizz and CK for setting me straight.

Until next time, I fold!

posted by Jordan @ 5:50 PM, , links to this post




You Decide #70 Revisited

If you've been playing along, yesterday I posted a hand that didn't sit too well with me. It was a PLO hand in an $11 tournament on PokerStars, and after flopping the nut flush draw as the table chipleader, I pushed all-in against the sole remaining player on the turn, the second chipleader (I had almost 2x as many chips as him), only to discover that he wasn't going anywhere, since he held the nut straight.

I post these You Decide posts because I want feedback. No one is perfect and there are going to be hands when I mess up. This was definitely one of them. At first, after reading the comments, I believed that the opinions were in one of two camps, but after reviewing the comments for a third time, I see that each person, for the most part, had different opinions on where I messed up in the hand.

For the purpose of self-analysis and PLO analysis, let's go over all of the comments. First, a more detailed recap of the hand.

It was in the second level of a multitable PLO tournament (180 or so players, maybe more) and I had already more than doubled-up from my 3,000 starting stack to over 7,500. My nearest competitor at the table was Multi, who had about 4,500. I held Ac Kc 3h 5h. Multi was the first person to call my early position 3x the BB raise (to 90) and three other players came along for the ride.

After the 456 with two club flop, I bet out 450 (pot) and only got one caller, Multi. The turn was a Jd, creating a diamond flush draw as well. My opponent bet out 1,350 (pot). I read him as having a potentially weak, drawing hand. Perhaps the diamond gave him a flush draw to match a two-pair or even gave him two-pair. Whatever the case, since I was the large stack with momentum behind me (remember, I had more than doubled up and we were still in the 2nd level), I thought I could push the second largest stack out of the hand with a push, with the nut flush draw as a backup. Multi called, showed 8872 and took down the pot with his nut straight when the river was a blank.

The first commentor was Jamie from Wall Street Poker. Jamie made four points, all worth discussing. The first is that I overvalued my starting hand. On this one, I cannot wholeheartedly agree, although I can see where he is coming from. I know that online PLO tournaments are very loose, so I liked my starting hand and for a tiny sum (90, less than 2% of my stack) I wanted to cut the field of limpers. I knew it wasn't a monster hand without a good flop, so I really don't think my preflop raise was disastrous. It wasn't a given either. A limp or even a fold there is acceptable, but I do think that the raise is defensible at the very least.

Jamie's second point is that I really don't have an open-ended straight with my dangling 3 off of the 456 flop. I agree, in large part. I have the idiot's end of a low straight draw. At best, I should assume that it might be good for a chop if my 2 comes. If the 7 comes, I would be even less confident. But truthfully, I never really relied on the straight draw. I knew it was out there, but I also knew it was weak at best.

The next one, though, is where I think Jamie hit the nail on the head: I misread Multi. I assumed he probably didn't have a 78 based on the fact that he called me preflop and was fairly passive post-flop on a flush-draw board. In hindsight, I should've realized that I was playing one of the loosest forms of tourney poker, online PLO. Once he called that flop, I should've cooled it off and checked the turn, as recommended by Jamie. After all, he was not giving up his hand, even if he had the idiot's end of the straight, a set, or possibly even two pair.

This leads to his next point: I lost control of the pot size. I don't think that's entirely accurate. I was in control...I just misused the control. I should have checked the flop to keep the pot small. Assuming I checked, either Multi would bet, giving me some info on his strength (at which point, even if I called, I could fold when I miss the turn), or we would've seen a free turn.

Pirate Lawyer, aka Shrike, also commented, and agreed with Jamie's comments. But Shrike also added his opinion that I should have been preserving my stack. While I agree with most of his comment, I disagree with this idea. Some people say it makes no difference if you double up early because there is still a lot of poker to be played. So why isn't the other side of the coin also true? I wasn't at risk of busting; if I lost the maximum (which I did), I'd be back to my starting stack, all within 20 minutes of starting the tourney in the first place. Simply put, I don't think one should play tournament poker to preserve a stack that early on. I think I get more value out of my big stack by playing more hands early and gambling a bit because I can afford to do so. Now, I'll admit, I gambled too much with too little in this hand, which is something Shrike astutely points out. I agree with that principle. I just disagree that one has to preserve a stack so early in a long tournament. What's the point of amassing a decent sized stack early if you are just going to wait to be blinded down or others accumulate chips until you are average again.

Astin and Fuel echoed each other's sentiments that I made the incorrect assumption that my opponent has any clue. They are correct. I assumed from his stack size that he had some knowledge of starting hand requirements and PLO play. So, I never expected the 78 in his hand. This was not his mistake. It was mine. I cannot control my opponents so it does me no good to call him a donkey and blame him for the loss. Instead, I must turn inward and figure out how to avoid these situations. The answer is kinda obvious. I know how these PLO games play, and he could have any four cards. That means that I have to always consider that the nuts are out there. It doesn't mean I have to see monsters under the bed; but I do have to be conscious that I cannot merely eliminate cards because a competent player would have folded them.

Hoyazo made a similar comment for which I generally agree, but I disagree when he says that "even a modicum of experience should teach you that somebody clearly has a straight if they stay in for any meaningful bets on that flop or aftewards." It's merely an overstatement and is likely colored by the hindsight approach to analyzing hands. It's easy to assume he had the nut straight when you see that he did in fact have the nut straight, but at the time, there were a slew of other hands that made sense in that scenario, including the idiot's straight (23, 37), a straight flush draw, a weaker flush draw with a pair or two pair or set, a bare set, etc. Now, all of these hands have something in common: they beat me outright (with the exception of the straight-flush draw). So the rest of Hoy's analysis is correct. I should have realized Multi was not going to fold. I merely disagree that it was obvious that he had exactly 78 in his hand.

PLO is a helluva game. I have to admit that I probably do not know half as much as I think I know about the game. I love it, though, which has to count for something, and comments like the ones left on the last post really go a long way to expanding the way I think about the game.

Thanks for the comments. If anyone has any additional thoughts, feel free to leave them here or at the You Decide #70 post. I read and consider them all.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:02 PM, , links to this post




You Decide #70

Hey yo, peoples. Now that I have some money on PokerStars (we'll see how long that lasts...) I decided to play some big tourneys yesterday. I entered a $22 NLHE "Big Ante" tournament and a $11 PLO tourney. I ended up busting from the NLHE game in the top 1/3 of the field and the PLO in the top 25%, but not high enough for any casheesh.

I had a hand in the PLO game that I questioned after it was done. It was all the way back in level 2, with blinds at a low 15/30. We had started with 3,000 in chips and I had already chipped up to 7,515, the table chipleader by a good 3k. I was dealt Ac Kc 3h 5h. This is only PLO high; there is no low. We are 8-handed and I am UTG+2. It folds to me and I raise to 3x the BB, 90 total. Multi (4485) and Young (2835) call in MP/LP. The SB, LVC (3730) calls, as does the BB, chromic (2515).

The flop was 4c 5d 6c, giving me the nut flush draw and an open-ended straight draw, along with a useless pair of 5s. I decide to keep the pressure on, and bet 450. Only Multi (4485) calls.

The turn is a Jd. It seems harmless to me. I check and he bets 1,350. I think for a moment and decide to push. My logic is that, short of a nut straight, this guy has to fold. He called me preflop before anyone else called, so 78 is not a given in his hand. Since he was the second largest stack, but I had him outchipped by 3k, I figured I could push all-in and take him off of the pot. Just as importantly, I figured my redraw for the nut flush meant that even if I was wrong, I could still easily win this pot. I also figured that if he did not have the nut straight, I could always catch a straight on him to beat a set or overaggressive two pair. Multi had 2595 left before I pushed, and after I pushed, he called. He then showed 2h 7s 8s 8c. The river was another 4 and I lost, dropping down to 3k.

In this case, it turned out I was pushing into the nuts. My question to you all is, where did I go wrong, if at all? Should I have limped preflop instead of raising? Should I have folded preflop or raised max (which wasn't much more than the 90 I raised)? On the flop, should I have checked and let someone else take control? How about the turn? Arguably, I should've bet out instead of checking. Perhaps that would've brought about a raise that would've let me know that my opponent had the goods?

Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:12 PM, , links to this post




My Weekend, by HoP

*** WARNING: MINIMAL POKER CONTENT***

Hey yo, peeps! I had a lovely weekend with a little bit of online poker, all of which was unsuccessful. Friday night saw me spending some much-needed downtime with wifey Kim. Saturday, I had to work in Newark in the afternoon, but in the evening, wifey Kim and I saw a comedy show starring Colin Mochrie and Brad Sherwood from Whose Line is It Anyway?

I don't know if anyone is a fan of either comedian or the old TV show, but wifey Kim and I were fans back in the day, so when I heard they would be in town, I picked up some tickets well in advance. Before the show, we ate at our favorite steakhouse, Ruth's Chris, which is still the best one out there. Since I last went to Ruth's Chris, I had visited Peter Luger's (regarded as the best of the old school steakhouses) and CraftSteak (celebrity chef Tom Colicchio's extra-expensive new school steakhouse). After Luger's, I thought I found a new winner for best steakhouse. CraftSteak was actually very disappointing, so no big deal there. But after returning to Ruth's Chris and trying some different items (the ribeye instead of the filet mignon and a corn pudding instead of wifey Kim's usual sweet potato casserole) I have a renewed love for Ruth's Chris. It's a bit disappointing that there are Ruth's Chris restaurants everywhere; it kills its uniqueness and makes it feel like a chain. But the food is amazing and the service is top notch...and a meal for two costed $150, not the $200+ that shitty CraftSteak cost. (Side note: I don't hate Colicchio. Craft, his flagship restaurant, is amazing. CraftSteak just happens to fall short, especially given the price.)

But the best part of the evening was taking part in the improv show. I didn't realize when I booked my tickets that row BB was first row. When we arrived at the show and were taken to our seats, wifey Kim was amazed at my great seat selection. I just basked in the glory as though it was all part of my plan to give her a wonderful evening. During the first improv sketch, the comedians asked for a couple of things including "a random thing." Wifey Kim said quietly to me, "raisins," which in and of itself is humorous because she hates raisins...and I mean hates. She can't eat if there is a raisin in eyesight. So, I yelled out, "RAISINS!" Being in the front row has its privileges. Not only was I heard, but I got a weird look from Colin, who replied, "...okay...raisins..." with a quizzical look on his face. I guess raisins don't go well with Norway and the luge.

Even better, though, in the second half of the show, they did a sketch where an audience member provides all of the sound effects. I don't mean to toot my own HONK HONK but I'm pretty good at sound effects. Wifey Kim grabbed my arm and thrust it in the air, so once one of the comedians started looking for volunteers, I definitely stood out. It helps having a hot chick hold you up like you were a letter and she was Vanna White. I got up on stage and for the next 20 minutes did sound effects while Colin and Brad did a sketch about white water rafting. It was wild being on that stage and shaking the hands of people who I'd watched on TV for years. It was also hella fun, and pretty much made my weekend.

This is the part where I segue into a PLO hand, but it doesn't seem right to tack that on to a post about improv comedy. On one hand, the strategy readers have already abandoned this post; on the other, the people remaining probably don't care much for PLO. So I'll just make it its own post.

If all goes well, the new HighOnPoker.com will be up and running in a matter of days. I thank you all for your patience. Once it switches over, anyone on the RSS feed will still get new posts without doing anything. That is, as long as they are on my Feedburner RSS feed, they won't have to do anything. For everyone else, if you stop hearing from HoP soon, well, go to HighOnPoker.com and get the new RSS feed. I'll do my best to make this transition as easy as possible for you. I know breakups can be hard on the children, but I just want you to know that it isn't your fault, and Blogger and HoP still love you very much. They just don't like each other anymore.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:54 PM, , links to this post




Windexed

Much like your boxer briefs after a good cleaning, the streak is gone.

After chopping the last four tournaments I played at Tuna Club, I finally lost a tourney, specifically yesterday's $130 freezeout. I started at an unusually aggressive table, lost a little over half of my stack playing decent cards in position that didn't pan out, and finally lost when I was shortstacked and pushed all-in on a harmless looking board.

The specific death hand saw me in the SB with T6o and 1,750 or so. The blinds were at 100/200. A player in EP limped. He was an old guy, fat and sloppy, who joined the tourney late. In his first orbit, he busted and then rebought in to the tournament. His limp in EP led me to believe that he had a couple of high cards.

The flop came down 862 with two diamonds. I had one diamond in my hand. The pot was 600 and I had 1,550 left. Frankly, my preflop call is against my better judgment. Usually, when I am under 10 big blinds, I go into push-or-fold mode, and that includes when I'm in the SB. But I figured I could see a flop and when it came down, it was uncoordinated enough that I decided to push. I figured that all I needed to dodge was A8s or a rogue 8 from the BB, who by my read was already mentally checked-out of the hand. I pushed, BB folded and the old man thought for a bit before calling. He then showed Q6o. Lord knows what he was doing limping in EP with Q6o, but the bottom line was that he had enough chips in his stack that he could afford to lose an additional 1,550. Obviously, that didn't happen though. I busted, said, "I didn't want to play this stupid game anyway," and took my leave.

I hung around for a minute or two trying to decide if I wanted to rebuy back in. The way the rebuy works is that for the first hour or whatever, a player can re-register, which includes paying the full $100+20 buy-in and the extra $10 toke for an additional 1,000 chips. That's $130 total. The re-registered player gets the equivalent of a dead stack, reduced by the amount of blinds that would have been removed if the player was in from the beginning but was being blinded out. I asked the tournament director how much I would get and he replied 3,275. There were about 2-3 minutes before the blinds reached 150/300, so I decided it just wasn't worth it. I was not planning on paying $130 for 10 big blinds again. Instead, I got home a tad early.

While the streak is dead, there is still one streak that remains. I have won my last three Sunday $160 tourneys at Tuna. Those tournaments have 20 minute blinds and antes starting late in the game, whereas the Tuesday $130 is 15 minute blinds with no antes and the Thursday game is a $20 rebuy (not re-register, but a real rebuy). I suppose the longer blind periods help me a tad, as does the short tables that generally happen on Sundays. Whatever the case, I plan on keeping that streak alive, although I don't know when I will next return for the Sunday tourney.

Thanks to the commentors who gave their opinions regarding whether I should attend the Sunday birthday party or the Tuna Club $550 tournament. I've considered the different factors, and while I was initially in Dawn's camp, that being the camp of poker addicts, I have finally settled on attending the party. I wouldn't be surprised if some form of drunken poker happens there anyway (for significantly less money but significantly more fun) and besides, I suppose a man has to have some sorta social life outside of poker.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 5:20 PM, , links to this post




Fighting Online

After Sunday's foray into online poker, I was feeling the crave last night. Of course, I was also elbow-deep in flour, trying my hand at baking an apple cake for wifey Kim's potluck dinner party with her girlfriends tonight. I am well trained.

Once the cake was baking, I took my usual spot on the couch and pulled my laptop over from the coffee table. I logged on to Full Tilt, looked at the tournament lobby and paused.

This felt too familiar. It was the tug of the online poker black hole.

It wasn't too long ago that I spent a lot of time in the black hole. It became routine, and from that my play became routine, until I was routinely losing money without any real thought-process behind it.

I don't agree with the Frist-fuckers who (unsuccessfully) tried to ban online poker because of the dangers of addiction and underage gambling, but I can see where addiction could be a serious issue. People can become addicted to anything, from hard drugs to Ho-Hos, to just plain ho's. Online poker is no different, especially in a world where people readily admit to email addictions via "Crack"berries.

I took a moment to reflect on my poker. Online poker really is the methadone to my poker addiction, but I knew I would be getting the real stuff in just 24 hours (now, a mere 9 hours). Tonight is Tuna Club's weekly $120 tournament, and a fine occasion to go for my fivepeat.

With live poker in my head, online poker lost a bit of its luster. I imagined starting a tournament or SNG and then getting that familiar feeling at midnight: "What am I doing?" I'd get these thoughts that I just wanted to go to bed, but didn't want to lose. On some subconscious level, I was sabotaging myself, playing games too late and then not playing my best because I was distracted by the late hour or self-flagellating because I should have been sleeping. I saw myself falling into the pattern that night, ignoring wifey Kim for the cold glow of the laptop monitor. I saw myself anxious at midnight or losing and unhappy. I saw myself at the Tuna Club in 24 hours with the poker-loss hangover messing with my head. And then I shut down Full Tilt.

Maybe online poker isn't my methadone. Maybe it's my heroine. And live poker is my rehab.

Until next time, make mine poker!

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




9 into 90

After losing the Mook in one hand, my $50 online was considerably weaker. After losing a couple of other SNGs and tournaments, including a PLO tournament when I went out 5 from the bubble out of 350+ competitors (ug!), I was down to a measely $9 and change as of yesterday morning.

Yesterday, wifey Kim and I spent a day with her brother, father and step-mother. We started off in the Bronx, where we ate at a Kosher deli, a cuisine that is apparently dying in this city. I've never been much of a fan, mostly because I am a big fan of mixing meat and dairy (a no-no in Kosher food), but I was merely one player in the game, so I went along for the ride. After lunch, we headed into Queens for a Kosher ice cream parlor that specializes in weird flavors. In hindsight, the irony just dawned on me. For Kosher restaurants, its either meat or dairy, but obviously not both since the two are not to be eaten together and should not even be prepared in the same kitchen (some Kosher families have two kitchens for this very reason). The irony, of course, is that we went to a meat Kosher restaurant followed by a dairy Kosher restaurant, which was so close together in time that under Jewish law, we effectively ate non-Kosher all day even though we only attended Kosher restaurants.

But enough of that nonsense. The point was that by the time I was free to play poker, it was already past 4pm, and therefore too late to return to the Tuna Club for a Fivepeat. What's a man to do when he wants to play poker but no live games are conveniently available? Online (shudder).

Of course, as we now know, I only have $9 and change online. So, I sent some money to my Canadian connection to circumvent the usual UIGEA problems, but she was not home. I then put up my Yahoo Messenger status to basically beg for a PayPal-Poker swap. But in the meanwhile, I decided to put my $9 to work.

My first stop was to a $8.70 Token SNG, where the top 5 players out of 18 get a $26 token to be used in any tournament with a $26 buy-in. I squeaked out a win there and then decided to take my token over to the tournament page, where I found a 6-handed, $26 buy-in, $5000 guaranteed prize pool Pot Limit Hold'em game. This seemed to me to be the perfect combination. Obviously the buy-in was perfect. The timing was good too, as I had about 15 minutes to get into the game before it started and it was early enough that I would be able to play it through without that feeling that its getting a bit late for poker. The game was shorthanded, 6-person tables which works for my style of play, since it allows me to play weaker cards and more hands in position. And finally, the Pot Limit aspect meant that there was extra strategy that would be lost on some of the NLHE-only players, namely how to build a pot to your benefit.

Let's cut to the chase. This was my only buy-in. If I lost this, I'd be tapped out of cash until my Canadian connection came through. So, I knew I had to cash. And I did. 11th out of 250+ people, good for $100. If I could've held on a bit longer, that money jumped nicely. The top spot was just shy of $1,600. But beggars can't be choosers.

Once that was over, I still had some time for poker. I felt great having gone so deep in the tournament, although I was a tad unfulfilled since I didn't final table or make the big money. I decided to fire up a quick 6-person turbo SNG for $12. Part of me, in my gut, felt that I was just going to donk off some of my winnings. Even though I was mildly disappointed that I didn't final table, I was realistic about the fact that I had effectively turned my last $9 into $100. But once the game started, I decided that I would not just waste my cash. I was going to go for the win.

In my first hand, I was dealt 99 on the button. It folded to me and I raised, hoping to get one of the blinds to call. The BB called. The flop was A97 with two clubs. It checked to me and I bet again, hoping to reel my opponent in by looking like a continuation bet. Success! The turn was a Jack. It checked to me and this time I bet big, trying to look like I was going to push my opponent out of the hand. He raised all-in for a small amount more. I called quickly, assuming I caught him with AJ or A9 or some other two pair. He had T8d, turning the straight. The river was a Queen and I go home. So much for playing my best.

$9 into $90. Not too bad for a day. But damnit, it ain't the type of money I could be making with live poker.

Here's a moral conundrum. I received a Facebook invite for a birthday party for my buddy Randy Hole. It's actually an afternoon thingee out on LI at his place to watch a Giants game. In and of itself, it sounds like a great time. Football, beer, food, and my buddies. There is only one problem: it's on the same day as Tuna's $550 Sunday tournament.

For those who have been following along, I won the last three Sunday tournaments at Tuna, when the buy-in was $150. Along with my cash in last week's Thursday $20 rebuy, my profits at Tuna for the last months were over $2000 in just four tourney sessions. Part of me thinks that I have to play that $550 game. Most of the players will hopefully be the same, I have a reputation now that will probably earn me more respect at the tables (resulting in an easier time picking up pots), and I'm on a roll. I'll also be playing with profits. And so, here is the conundrum:

Play the $550 event, or head out to LI for my friend's birthday.

Any thoughts?

If all goes well, I'll be playing poker this Tuesday at Tuna's Sunday $120 buy-in tournament. I've pretty much limited myself to their tourneys, due to my recent success. Wish me luck.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:59 AM, , links to this post




Choo Choona Club

All aboard the High on Poker Express. Next stop, TUNA CLUB!

I am on FIYAH! Last night, I decided to return to Tuna Club for their weekly Thursday $20 Rebuy. The crowd was pretty thin, but by the time the game was in full swing, we had about 15 players spread over two tables. I, fortunately, was seated at the crazy table. A couple of the players were willing to gamble it up, myself included, so in no time, we ended up with large stacks of chips. Or, more accurately, I ended up with a large stack of chips.

I started with a double buy-in with the $10 dealer toke for 5000 chips. I played fairly conservatively while I got a feel for how my opponents would play the rebuy. We eventually got two new players, a guy who looked like a young Uncle Fester and one of the room's dealers, a white kid whose birthday it was (why does this sentence feel so awkward? moving right along...). Those two players really loosened our table, and I eventually decided to throw my hat into the ring when I was dealt KQh and faced the 5th raise out of 6 hands from Fester, who was on my right. I called after learning from his hands with Birthday Boy that Fester was making these raises with a wide range, including weak Aces. It folded to the BB, a big black guy who I'll just call Busta because I'm racist like that and he reminded me of a cleaner cut Busta Rhymes. Busta seemed to be the kinda guy who was playing tight, but was willing to play overaggressively against the loose players, essentially vying for his piece of the party. He pushed all-in for maybe a half stack or so, around 2.5k. Fester folded and I took a moment before deciding I was ready and willing to gamble. After all, it was a rebuy period, and I was willing to rebuy as necessary.

I called and Busta showed A8h. My flush draw was dead, but I flopped a Queen and took his first buy-in and the preflop raise by Fester, giving me a 9k or so stack.

The next major hand pretty much made the game for me. Birthday Boy was "throwing a party", a poker term for giving your chips away at the table. Basically, Fester would raise and Birthday Boy would push all-in with any two cards. I mean any two. 47c sorta hands. I held AA in EP and Fester was UTG. He surprisingly limped, but this had happened before and was still met with the Birthday Boy all-in. Birthday Boy had meanwhile loosened up the rest of the table with his antics, except for maybe one player who seemed to have tightened up.

After Fester limped, I decided to limp as well, hoping to induce an all-in. I didn't want to push and hope for a call because I was playing tight, having not raised preflop once (that I can recall), so an open push would look mighty suspicious and probably scare away the party. Amazingly, though, Birthday Boy limped, and the action folded to Busta, who was once again in one of the blinds. Thankfully, someone was listening to my prayers and Busta pushed all-in. Busta probably had about 4k or so and I had about 9k, but to my right, Fester had felted Birthday Boy so many times that he had at least 7.5k. Then he pushed all-in on top of Busta. What's a man with AA to do? Push all-in on top, of course. Birthday Boy also pushed and we were four handed, my AA vs. Busta's TT vs. Birthday Boy's 34h vs. Fester's suited connectors or gappers. By the river, there were a ton of draws, but I dodged them all to become a mega-stack that allowed me to coast to the final table. Don't get me wrong. I didn't go into vault mode and lock down my chips, but I had enough to splash around.

Fester, meanwhile, was gathering last longer bets, something that would usually suck in a rebuy tournament. With such a low buy-in ($20), I wanted to see lots of rebuys to build the prize pool (which, incidentally, already had $300 added by the house). The last longer bets were to see who would need a rebuy first, so it should've encouraged more conservative play, but Fester was a mad man, and he still didn't let up. I felted him at least 2 more times, one of which when I called some hefty raises with a low flush draw and had to make a tough call on the turn with one card to come. Fester was asking for the call, literally, so I gave it to him and luckily hit my flush on the river. Billy the Dealer, who was also playing the tourney, earned $40 in last longers against Fester thanks to me.

Once the rebuy period was over, Busta had made up some ground, hovering at a little over 20k. I had about 27k. Billy had chipped up to probably 17k. The rest of the table, though, were at 10k or less, and only then because of the 3k add-on, which I elected to skip.

I basically had to tighten up as the blind continued to climb and my cards went to crap. When we reached the final table, there were a few people close to me, including Billy and Busta, and soon, they had surpassed me. Whereas I remained tight, they seemed to sling their chips more freely. It may've been that they were more fearless or aggressive, but it was just as likely that they were getting decent cards whereas I was not.

I tried to take a stab at a few pots but failed miserably. I eventually had to opt to wait out the small stacks, including one guy who had come back twice from having one blind left or less. As I waited everyone out, my stack dwindled and blinds began to escalate rapidly. We were down to five players left and I was probably the short stack, with about 20k left but blinds of 1500/3000. There were two other players in the 25-30k range and two players in the 45-50k range.

Birthday Boy was riding the rail and suggested a five way chop because his ride was one of the five left and he wanted to get out of there. The chop would equal about $350. I said I would agree, but I doubt the big stacks would. Billy, one of the big stacks, agreed that he would want more money. There was some haggling, but nothing was going anywhere, so I said, "So then, let's just play it. This is going to be over in 15 mins anyway with these blinds." I meant it too. The blinds were so high that it'd be over in no time, and I wanted decent money for my troubles.

We played another orbit, at which point one of the other shorties made up some ground and I won a hand or two to pump my stack up a tiny bit (just blinds, as I was in push/fold mode). There was some more talk, and the newly pumped shortstack insisted on $300 to make a deal. I joined him in asking for that sum. I only paid $50, so that would be a nice $250 profit, lock in some money and keep my streak alive. It was also probably more than fair to sell my precarious stack. We struck a deal with the three shorties (myself included) receiving $300 each and the big stacks getting a litted under $450. And that's how I cashed in my 4th Tuna Tourney in a row.

$1000, $490, $490, and now $250. That makes over $2000 in profit from four tourneys in a row at Tuna Club. This is the part where people get nervous about being jinxed by discussing their success, but I plan on riding this hot streak for as long as possible, jinx or no jinx.

My yearly goal, which I failed to reach last year, is well within reach. With New Orleans in late November and AC and Vegas in December, I have more than enough opportunit to close the gap on my goal. And if those venues don't do it, there is still plenty of Tuna to be had.


CHOO CHOO!


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

*A special thanks to Lucypher for reminding me of CHOO CHOO, the new BOOM!

posted by Jordan @ 12:05 PM, , links to this post




Any Enabler Will Do

Hey folks. I've done a great job keeping away from online poker, but that's all about to go down the drains. Does anyone know how to get US $ onto PokerStars? I would be willing to swap with cash via PayPal or some other means. I'm really just looking for a small sum, $50 or $100 at most. Any takers?

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:50 PM, , links to this post




How to Lose a Tournament in One Easy Hand

First off, the new HighOnPoker.com (not currently visible at that address) is coming along nicely. I'm no pro when it comes to web design, but I'm a tinkerer by nature, so I've been playing around with my new template html code and tweaking things here and there, even though I have barely an understanding as to what I am changing and why. It's a bit of a try-this, try-that approach, but I love every bit of it. The way things are going, the new HighOnPoker.com (all the same content, but now with more .COM!) should be ready for its debut by next week's debutante ball.

In other news, I decided to play the Mookie last night, a weekly Wednesday blogger tournament at 10pm EST. I was broke on FullTilt so I decided to float around the webs looking for fellow bloggers who could lend me a dime (I have money coming into FT today, but that would be too late for yesterday's tournament). All I can say is that I am not the only broke blogger out there in online poker land. It seems like a lot of my contemporaries withdrew their bankrolls or have otherwise depleted their ammunition supplies. Thankfully, I eventually found someone who actually could help me out, Julius Goat. Another special thanks to Woffles, who amazingly was also willing and able to help out (one of the few non-broke bloggers I spoke to yesterday), but was unavailable, since he was at his office at the time.

Of course, I should've just saved the $11 and 2 minutes. In the first hand, I was in the SB and BuddyDank in MP min-raised. I held 45o, a donk of a hand, but since I was in for 15 already and only needed to call 45 into a 165 or so pot (there was one caller in LP), I called, expecting to fold on a crappy flop. The flop was 456 with two hearts, so I flopped bottom two, which was not bad in this situation. I checked, probably an error, but after Dank bet out, I decided to just call with my two-pair. The turn was another 5. Sweet! Suddenly the flush and straight possibilities didn't scare me as I had an improbable full house. I checked again and Dank bet. I min-raised this time, hoping to keep him in the pot but build it while he was either still flush drawing or, conversely, still not fearful of the flush (i.e., if the river was a flush card and he didn't have the flush, he would check or fold). He called. The river was a 9 or something. I took my time. We had about 1900 left, so I bet out 800, thinking that would entice a call from some weaker hands, since I was not forcing him all-in. He pushed and I figured I got him to push with an overpair or even a straight or something, but after I called, I learned that I was behind the whole way to his 66 (flopped set, turned better full house). "This game is stupid anyway." And then I made my exit.

What's the lesson here? It could be that I need to consider superior full houses before I ship it in. It could be that sometimes you just face coolers and have to live with it. But to me, the lesson is that you should not play weak hands preflop because even when they hit, they can be vulnerable.

I learned something else, too. After that hand, I was steaming so I shut down FT. Yet that wasn't a hand worth steaming about. In contrast, when I play live, I rarely am bothered by bad beats or coolers. I think I am more conscious live that if I act upset, others will pick up on it and attack me more. I usually give off a tongue-in-cheek, "This is Bullshit!" just to show my live audience that I find these things humorous. It usually gets a chuckle and people are focused on how relaxed I am about losing a hand rather than the fact that I lost.

Two times ago, for instance, I lost a hand when my opponent hit a one or two outter. Of course, the money went all-in preflop on a cointoss, but I flopped a strong hand and by the river, I was nearly a lock. Nearly. When my opponent hit his out, I barked, "This is Bullshit!" All the while I was smiling and clearly play-acting that I was upset. One of the guys across the table mentioned later that most people would've been a lot more upset about the hand. True, I suppose, but what was there to be upset about. No matter how it ended up, when the money went in, it was a cointoss. Everything after that is style, not content.

If all goes well, I will be heading to the Tuna Club tonight for their $20 Rebuy tournament. I don't have nearly as much success in that tournament, as compared to the weekly Sunday freezeout, but I've been hot, so I'd like to get in there and mix things up. Wish me luck.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:13 AM, , links to this post




Printing Money

Tuna-scented money. I returned to the Tuna Club this afternoon, hoping the threepeat after winning the same tourney the last two weekends for scores of $1000 and 500 profit, respectively. And threepeat I did, chopping the tournament four ways for $650, a $490 profit. Even though we chopped it four-ways, I took 1/3 of the pool, since the two shorties agreed to chop a third between them. Ka ching!

Once again, the game just flowed naturally. Early on, I won two decent pots, the first with JJ against a calling station and the second with JT, after I flopped TP and got into it with the player on my immediate left who ended up outkicked with J9.

I did notice, though, that somewhere in the middle stages of the tournament, I was limping in way too much and folding to action. It's one thing to see it and another thing to actually stop it. At the first break, I was my table's chipleader. There were only 13 players (and 2 rebuys amongst the 13), so we were playing on two shorthanded tables for the beginning of the game. That definitely played to my strengths, since I like to play a lot of hands and I could focus my reads on the few players at the table.

There were a few familiar faces. I really would love to go into the details of the players, but I fear they may find or already know about HoP. But what is the point of a poker blog if I can't be honest, so here goes, with my advance apologies to my opponents and to myself for giving away a lot of my reads.

In the 1s was Fedora, a caucasian guy in his early 30s who often brings or wears a fedora. I have a lot of respect for Fedora's game. He's aggressive and willing to make moves. He's not an ideal player to have at your table, but at least I know his abilities.

To his left was Old Dirty Angleshooter, who I played with last week. ODA is pretty tight, loves to complain and question play, and is generally a pain in the ass. But he's also a known entity and he was as far away from me physically as possible, so I was glad to see him. He's practially a non-factor.

To his left was a chick. I don't know how to describe her, really. She's white, probably 20s but could be 30s, short dark hair. In the last couple of weeks, we've been pretty friendly and since I've played with her a lot recently, I also knew her general style. She's another decent player, but I know her rhythm and abilities, so she's not a bad person to have around.

To her left was a black guy who kinda reminded me of a skinnier Donnell Rawlings. Donnell was one of those players who share too much. In one particular hand, he had black Aces and when ODA raised him all-in on a board of JcTd9c5c, he held his cards up high enough to obviously show them to me. I see this a lot. People want to share their misery. He made a big show about his decision before folding. He only had 1500 left behind, with blinds probably at 50/100 or 75/150. Before Donnell folded he asked, "Will you show it to me if I fold?" ODA agreed. After Donnell folded his Aces face-up, ODA tabled QQ, with no diamond. Donnell tortured himself and most of the table agreed that he made a bad laydown, but I don't agree with popular opinion. I, frankly, thought that ODA might have QQ or KK, but regardless, it was too likely that he had a flush or a flush draw, which could be fatal since Donnell would have to be all-in. ODA wasn't the type to go all-in lightly, so for all of his chips, I thought the fold was ok.

I was to the left of Donnell. To my left was a white guy with I think a foreign accent. He was thin and shaved bald, wearing a white hoodie or jacket. We made friendly and got along for most of the tourney. At one point, he was down to one BB at the 75/150 level, but made a big comeback, before his eventual elimination in a terrible suckout of a hand. He went out when we were down to 9 players. He held AJ on an A7J flop. UTG pushed all-in, the chick was next and also pushed all-in, and the bald dude pushed all-in last. Baldy's AJ against UTG's A7 (lesser two pair) and chickie's AT. The river was another 7 and UTG took out both of the other players.

Il Gigante was in the 10s at my starting table. He is an Italian guy who is a bit awkwardly tall and lanky. He is also very aggressive at times, openly raising with AT or KJ for large sums. He was also calling liberally pre and post-flop only to open bet big on the next card. He did this enough times that I was thoroughly frustrated. It didn't help that he was two seats to my left. But once you know a player's M.O., frustration has to take a back seat to strategy, and I eventually was able to compensate for his play.

I think I sorta relearned something during the course of play. As I mentioned, I was limp-folding a lot, and I think this caused me to develop a weak table image. I found that as I "played" weaker and weaker, dropping hands to raises, I was pretty much asking for the table to run over me. Ostensibly, that seems like a bad thing, but I have always maintained that it is more important to understand your table image and know how to exploit it rather than control your table image (something I also advocate).

Of course, luck helps a tad too. I had one suckout for the tourney, when I was down to about 6k or so with blinds of 300/600 with a 25 or 50 ante. I held TT and pushed all-in over the bet of the guy on my immediate right at the final table. He had been fairly aggressive, opening a lot of pots to raises, so his 1,800 preflop raise did not concern me much. When it folded back to him, he took his time making his decision, probably looking for a tell, and eventually called with QQ. Lord knows what took him so long. Of course, the first community card was a Ten, and I doubled through him.

But my weak image really paid off a little while later. I had about 13k or so and held KK. The guy to my right once again raised preflop to 1,800 and I re-raised to 5k, even. It folded around to him and he called. The flop was Q22, which was pretty nice for me. The only thing I need to fear is QQ.

He was first to act and bet out 2,400 or so. I pushed all-in for about 5k more. It folded back to him and he grumbled. It was then that I knew I wanted a call. In fact, I desperately wanted a call, since this would be the difference between a solid stack and a monster stack with five players left. At first, I tried to keep uber quiet and still. Then I remembered that when you want a call and it seems like you are going to get a fold, you might as well do something, since you have nothing to lose. At first, I just tried to act very nervous. I looked away from the table as though I were afraid to make eye contact. I took a sip of my water. When I felt that wasn't working, I decided to jabber a bit. I don't recall what I said, but it got my opponent to start talking. "If I fold, will you show?"

Now, that's the same line that Donnell asked ODA earlier in the game. "If I fold, will you show?" In fact, it's a common question at poker games, and while I am not 100% sure, I am fairly sure I see a correllation between the answers and the questioners response. Basically, if you agree to show, the player will fold. I suppose it is because they get the extra incentive to fold, that incentive being the ability to say, "Good for me!" or "I shoulda known better!" Really, it just boils down to information. "I don't have to pay and I still get the info? In that case, I fold." I think there is a fear component too. If a player is willing to fold, its more likely that he is going to voluntarily show good cards, rather than showing a bluff. On the other hand, when a player says that they will not show, it's more likely that they are trying to hide their weak hand or bluff from public scrutiny.

Now, ironically, I'm not one of those players who is adamant about not showing. I think showing is okay if there is a legitimate reason for it, like controlling table image or tilting an opponent. But when the guy asked me if I'd show, I said, "Sorry, you have to pay to play." He called about 5 seconds later and tabled his 77. He needed another 7 and only another 7 to win the pot, but by the river, I hit my third King for a boat, Kings full of Queens, and the winning hand.

By then, my opponent was near even with me, and after doubling through him, he was on life support and eventually busted. Down to four players, it was me; a guy who I'll call Joe Cool because frankly he gives off a very cool vibe and he's a good poker player; Harris the Dentist, who I've played with a ton at these games and who I respect as a solid player and nice guy; and the Cabbie, a white guy in his 30s, overweight, who tends to wear a cabbie cap. Cabbie is another good player but always has a look on his face as though he were smelling something aweful.

Cabbie and Harris had about 13k each. I had 27k. Joe Cool had 26k. Cabbie started asking about a "save" for fourth place. I hate this shit. There were three spots paying, $1000, $580 and $370, for a total prize pool fo $1,950. A save would essentially involve taking money from first and second to make a fourth place spot that paid the buy-in back, $160. I never understand why a large stack would ever make that deal. "Hey Jordan, mind if we take money out of your pocket and give it to someone else, to protect you from the 1% chance that all catastrophe will befall you and you will go out next?" Yes, I do mind. I'm here for the money.

And that's what I told Cabbie. "I'm here for the money. I don't see any point of just giving it away." It was about 6:30 and we had been playing for 3 1/2 hours. Cabbie kept trying to push the save and even referenced that "he," being me, wouldn't agree, as though I were doing something morally reprehensible. I'm not against chopping, but I am against giving away free money, so I proposed, "I'm in for a final chop if we can work something out, but I don't do saves." It's the difference between giving away money and paying someone off. I won't give away money so that fourth place can feel good about themselves, but I will pay off fourth place so that I can ensure myself some good money.

Since stack sizes were what they were, we eventually agreed to chop it into thirds, $650, 650 and 650, with me and Joe Cool getting our own $650 and Harris and the Cabbie sharing the other $650. And that's how I came to win $490 for the second week in a row and about $2000 over the last three Sundays at the Tuna Club.

One more thing about "saves". After the game, I was chatting with dealer Dre and he agreed with me that he hates saves. Our conversation brought out another point: a save is like giving permission to the short stacks to play reckless, and I don't want the shortstacks to play reckless, especially in a high-blinds situation. It doesn't take much to double up. Hell, if Cabbie decided to push recklessly with KJo and I have AQ or 99, I'd have to call, and I don't want to be in that position to double him up. On the other hand, if he's scared of getting $0 for 4th place, he may be more inclined to fold, allowing me to build my stack up even more by playing aggressively.

Consider those factors the next time you are asked for a "save". The only thing you are saving is your opponent.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:12 PM, , links to this post




Cheap Sleep

FYI, for any Harrahs Reward card members, I just booked my room for Vegas on the weekend of December 11 at the Imperial Palace for FREE. Free weekend room? Don't mind if I do.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 6:01 PM, , links to this post




Online Down, TV Up

Cycles, folks. Poker is all about cycles. Or more accurately, my love of poker is more about cycles. There are times when I don't feel as "into" the game as I did in the past, but if I wait long enough, that fervor comes back. And baby, it's back.

I haven't been able to play too much. I have dabbled online here or there, but very sporadically. Now, if it is past 9pm, I'll just skip the online game. I'd rather spend my time watching crappy fall television and I don't want to feel time pressures or that old feeling of "why am I playing this" when midnight rolls around.

That said, while I continue to ween myself from online poker, I have also caught myself watching televised poker more and more.

Kudos to the folks at the WSOP and ESPN, because this season of the WSOP has been fantastic. I first got into hold'em by accidentally stumbling upon a WPT broadcast. At the time, I thought, "Who would watch this shit?" and then watched an hour before taping the next hour. But as is natural, after a while I stopped watching poker on the TV. If I saw poker or was in the mood for poker, I would simply go online and actually play.

Since I cut down on my online play and I still only play live maybe once per week, I decided to check out a recent episode of the WSOP Main Event. I really wanted to play poker, but since I knew that wasn't an option (it was very late on a weeknight), I figured I'd watch a hand or two.

Since then, I've taped every new episode and even found some old PLO episodes from years past playing on ESPN Classic. DVR is the shiznittle, people. With a few clicks, I can find every poker related show and tape them with ease. The result is a lot more televised poker.

Sadly, televised poker is pretty much the extent of my poker, lately. But it's only a matter of time before I get my hands dirty again with some live poker action. If all goes well, I will be attempting a three-peat this weekend at the Tuna Club for their Sunday tournament. Wifey Kim and I are heading to New Orleans in November for a Speech Hearing conference for the wifey. While she learns her trade, I'll be learning mine at the nearby Harrahs casino.

December has two poker trips. The first is to Vegas on my birthday weekend, December 11, for the Winter Blogger Gathering (that sounds so W.o.W.). I'm totally solo so far, with no hotel booked. If someone is looking for a roomie, let me know. I may choose to room solo, since its so cheap, but I'm open to ideas. Also, where is everyone staying?

Later in December, I'm back in AC for another Very Jewish Christmas Special featuring Dave Roose and the High on Poker Players.

So, it isn't so bad. In the meanwhile, I'll try to get some more games in at Tuna, where there is always lots of delicious fish upon which to feast.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:04 PM, , links to this post




Thanks and a Favor to Ask from Fellow Bloggers

Hey folks. Allow me a non-poker moment to offer my thanks to a former blogger/current friend for helping me with a little blogger project. Basically, folks, if all goes well, I'll be leaving my old blogspot address behind, and hopefully lighting a match on the way out. But the only way for this to go smoothly is with the help of my bud, Kipper, and hopefully a little favor from some of you.

Here's the lowdown. Google screwed a bunch of bloggers several months (or maybe a year) ago when Google realized that some blogger.com users were selling advertising on their blogs. This was a problem for Google because (a) Google wants blogger.com user sites to be limited to Google AdSense for advertising, and (b) the Terms & Conditions actually prohibited the practice of selling ads.

So what did Google do? It destroyed a bunch of blogs' Page Ranks. Page Rank is basically a number that Google's search algorithm assigns to each site, based on incoming links and other factors. In the past, if you searched for "High on Poker" on Google, my site would come up first or near first, mostly because I had a decent amount of incoming links AND my site is called High on Poker. So, when I'd meet people at the tables or in AC and I wanted to tell them about the blog, I'd tell them to search High on Poker to find the site. The other benefit is that when people searched topics I had written about, HoP's decent Page Rank meant that my site would pop up in the searches. By destroying my Page Rank, though, I am pretty much unfindable via search engine. Go to Google right now and try it. High on Poker will result in pages of "High Stakes Poker". The first reference to the actual HoP site appears on Page 2, but even that is not for HoP, but for a blog compendium site that references my posts. HoP doesn't show up until the very last link on Page 4. Now that's just fucked up. After all, if people know of HoP and want to find HoP, shouldn't they be able to do so? Google doesn't think so.

A bit of a disclaimer. By now, some of you are thinking, "Is that all you care about Jordan? Page rank, search engines and advertising?" The simple answer is No. I continued blogging here after this BS went down and did not fight it with Google, since I know its pointless. And I probably would've gone on posting here, since this has always been about having an outlet for my poker thoughts. However, since I purchased HighOnPoker.com, I figured it was time for me to escape my Google overlords and move HoP to a place that people can actually find it. It's not about the search engines or the ads, it's about being accessible, because what's the point of a blog if no one can find it.

So, that's where Kipper came in. He offered to help me escape Google, and I accepted his help. In the next few weeks, hopefully I'll be moving to a new permanent home where I can be free of the shackles of corporate governance.

But this is where I need your help, fellow bloggers. If you can take the time to update your links from highonpoker.blogspot.com or highonpoker.net to highonpoker.com, it would be greatly appreciated. Only through your help can I escape the tyrrany of Google and be seen once again by the public who only know HoP by name or may be interested in poker but do not know about poker blogs or HoP.

Won't you help me...friend?

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:37 AM, , links to this post




Stuffed on Tuna

Another Tuna Club tournament, another win. This time, I chopped the top three spots with one of the three of us getting $390 and the other two (myself included) receiving $650, basically a $490 profit.

I feel so in tune with this particular game and these particular players. It helps that we had slightly too many for one table (11 players), so we started shorthanded on two tables with a lot of dead stacks that new players could buy within the first three levels.

Shorthanded poker is my bread and butter. There is so much more game to be played, and I like to mix it up when I can. I've really come to realize that the best way to "read" players is to simply gauge whether they are comfortable or not. That takes a lot of things into account, but it also cuts through a lot of the bullshit and gets to the heart of the matter.

Interestingly, this was another tournament where I didn't have amazing cards. Last time, I mentioned two late KK hands, but those were the only big pocket pairs I had. This time, my highest pocket pair was JJ and it lost when I called an all-in from a shorter stack who ended up holding A7h. Lemon! By then, we were five or six handed and I was a big enough stack that, while disappointing, the loss wasn't disastrous.

Table chatter was interesting today. In one hand, I showed my 27o when I raised preflop 3x the BB UTG and everyone folded. I was on a rush of winning hands, so I decided to use the momentum. We were also shorthanded with maybe five players, so there wasn't many players to push out of the pot. When I showed, I wasn't flashy. I just put my cards face up and quietly placed them down.

Across the table was this dude who I busted the last week when my J3o took out his KK. He basically slowplayed until I made trip 3s. When I showed my 27o, he said, "Wow, you're amazing. You bluffed out four people." He was speaking fairly quietly, but I decided to respond, "Yeah, all skill. I'm putting on a master class." It was clear from my tone that I was speaking very tongue-in-cheek. Of course, you show the hammer for this very reaction. Tilt factor is definitely in play. But my comment was meant to sound like I was on his side, mostly because while I want them tilting, I don't want them to have a bad time. It's a fine line.

I ended up busting the guy with my JTd vs. his AKo. Preflop, I think I limped in position and he raised. I called because I got the sense the entire game that he wanted vengeance against me, and I like it when players target me. It usually backfires. It also helped that I had enough chips at this point to lose a couple without a care.

The flop was AK8. He checked, so I checked. The turn was a blank. Check-check. The river was a Queen. I believe he bet out most of his stack but not all of it. I paused for a moment and did some hollywooding. I wanted him to feel comfortable calling all-in, but I was afraid he had nothing and was just betting at it to try to win it against me. I asked him how much he had behind, and once he told me, I paused and then announced, "All in." He called and I took down the pot with the nuts.

An old guy was at the table, probably mid- to late-60s, white, portly, with darkened glasses and thinning, pulled-back hair. I had seen him around and assumed he knew how to play based on age alone. The guy actually pulled some angleshooting earlier in the game, insisting that a botched hand meant he got his big blind back, even though he had already folded. Basically, UTG limped, MP raised, the SB and the old guy in the BB folded, and the dealer took all the discarded cards and put them into the deck, assuming the hand was over. Since UTG had limped, the hand wasn't over. The floor was called and at first, the players agreed that UTG could take the limp back and the next hand would be dealt. But once the old guy saw an opportunity, he claimed it was a dead hand and he should get his BB back and the hand should be redealt. He got his way.

So, after the JT hand, the old guy looks at me and says, "Why did you do that? Why did you ask what he had? You had the nuts. You didn't have to know." I looked at this guy with a perplexed face. Either he was shitting me, or he just couldn't understand level 2 thinking. I replied, "Are you serious?" "You had the nuts." "Look, guy. I'm not here to give you lessons. You've got to be kidding me." I swear, I said this. I even eventually explained it, just to get him to stop bitching.

What the fuck! I swear, it was a weird table. Maybe it's just paranoia, but I felt like that old dude and the guy I busted with JT v. AK were gunning for me. I suppose that is to be expected. People don't like losing, and these older guys probably don't like a guy like me coming in to a game where they know everyone and just ripping shit up. I'm an invader, an outsider, and I'm taking their money.

So be it. I'm really only there for the money anyway.

Final fun hand. The old guy was hanging onto an shortstack for a very long time. It was pretty much all-in or fold for him for a while, but I guess he worked up his stack enough so that at the 150/300 level, he raised to 900 but still had chips behind him. It folded to me in the SB with A9o. Unfortunately, I thought the old guy was all-in, so I decided to call expecting to have my expenses capped for 5 community cards. The BB folded and I threw my hand out face-up. "OH! He's not all-in!" someone at the table said. FUCK!

Now, at the beginning of the tourney, the tournament director announced that if you intentionally expose your cards, its a dead hand. I didn't want to deal with any bickering, so I insisted we get the floor immediately for a ruling. I figured my hand was dead, but someone else said I just had to play face-up, since the old guy and I were the only two players left in the hand when I exposed my cards.

The floor came over and I explained the situation. "I thought he was all-in, so when I called, I turned my cards face-up." The old guy chimed in, "Now, now. Let's be honest here. That's not what happened. You threw your cards in." Fucking angle shooting fuck! "Are you serious?," I protested, "Are you trying to angle shoot on me?! You know that wasn't a muck." I was just shaking my head, incredulous at this ridiculous man.

The floor ruled: "The hand plays on with the hand exposed." The decision was made, but the old man got pissy again. By then, I had turned my cards face down. "Hey! You can't leave your cards like that! They're exposed!" I was shocked again. "Yeah, guy. You caught me. I'm so clever. I thought you already forgot my A9o already. I tell you what," I held the cards to my brow and pushed it on hard enough to stick for 2 seconds, "How about this?" The guy next to me laughed along with me. This was such nonsense.

The flop was dealt, Q9x. I pushed all-in, noting that he probably had 4.5k behind and I had well over 17k. He grumbled, "This is such bullshit. You are so lucky." He then took 2 minutes before folding. "I would've expected that to have been an easy decision for you. My cards are face-up." Yeah, I had to stick one more jab in.

For the most part, I won the game by making some bold calls. I took out some tough competition with coin-tosses once I had a monster stack, secure in the knowledge that I could suffer a loss if need be. I also took out some major competition by making tough calls only to find out I was dominating. It was an easy tourney for the most part. I just did what came naturally.

When we were down to 3, I was about even with one player, and the third player had probably less than half of our stacks. Even so, the blinds were not astronomical, so there was a lot of play left and there were only two spots paying. The deal was reached to ensure me a good profit, just short of $500. Next time, though, I think I'm going to play it out. Out of my 6 wins at Tuna Club (out of 11 attempts this year...I'm over .500!), most were via chop. I believe in the art of the deal. There are definitely times where you can win more with negotiation then you are otherwise entitled to. But I need to actually finish out a tournament. That's a pretty nice goal to have, though.

Just to recap: Tuna is my bitch.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:44 PM, , links to this post




Spousal Poker

I'm sitting at a CLE right now. That's a Continuing Legal Education class. Every year, I am required to take a certain number of credits to keep my bar membership. As you can probably tell by the fact that I am posting in the middle of the damn course, it's a lot of B.S.

Today is an exciting day. As of today, I've been married for four years. Wow! Four years. One of the oddest parts is the fact that I have been posting here over those whole four years. Sometimes, it amazes me that I still have this blog going.

Let's take a moment to talk about wifey Kim. I am a lucky man. She's just my type: a hot chick with low standards.

But this is a poker blog, so rather than spend a post just gushing over wifey Kim generally, I'd rather talk about her and poker.

When I was on trial recently, the defense counsel was chatting about golf. His wife plays and to him, that's a double-edged sword. On one hand, they get to spend time together. On the other hand, the greens fees are twice as large and if he plays, she plays.

This got me thinking about poker and wifey Kim. Some people have asked whether she plays, and when they find out that she doesn't play, they wonder why. There are a couple of reasons, actually. The first is that I don't think it'd be as fun for me, and the second is that I don't think it would be that fun for her.

First, let's discuss why wifey Kim playing poker is no good for me. Naturally, there is the freedom aspect. Wifey Kim and I are very independent, so she has no qualms with my play. I, in turn, am respectful to her and don't overdo it. So, that's not an issue. But it blows my mind when I think of the possible outcomes if wifey Kim and I played poker together.

Scenario 1: I win and she loses. Ergo, effectively, we break even (assuming similar win/loss size). BUT, it would feel like a loss, because even with my win, we don't reap the benefit of the money. Plus, wifey Kim loses, which would likely disappoint her, and me being the empathetic guy I am would feel bad for her.

Scenario 2: She wins and I lose. Same effect. I feel bummed because I lose. We don't get any financial benefit.

Scenario 3: We both lose. Misery.

Scenario 4: We both win. And then we likely overspend. It's amazing how I used to win $100 and then take wifey Kim out to a $120 dinner and splurge for a $20 cab and then go clothes shopping. I shudder just to think of it. Fortunately, the poker wallet fixed this problem. I keep my poker and living money separate. But bring wifey Kim into the game, and that all changes.

So, financially speaking, it doesn't make sense to teach wifey Kim poker. And entertainment-wise, it also does not make sense, since there are 2 opportunities to lose and three opportunities to be miserable.

The second issue, though, is more important. If this second issue didn't exist, the first wouldn't matter. The second issue is simply this: wifey Kim is not made for poker.

Even though we all strive to be great at poker, I sincerely believe that there are certain personality traits that predispose people to be good or bad at poker. Empathy, something that wifey Kim has in spades, is a good trait to have. For those who need a dictionary right now, empathy simply means the ability to understand another person's feelings. It's what helps me understand when a player is uncomfortable with their bluff or confident in their nuts. But sympathy, the ability to share the feelings of others, is bad. And wifey Kim has that in spades too.

Simply put, she does not have the killer instinct and competitive nature necessary to really thrive at poker. You need to be willing to crush another person's soul if that's what the situation dictates. Wifey Kim is just too nice for that.

So, that's the complete answer. I have not taught Wifey Kim poker because (a) if we played together, our wins/losses would be tied to each other and poker makes a shitty team sport, and (b) wifey Kim cares too much about her fellow human beings to go for the jugular.

Lest this sound like a negative post about wifey Kim, I should add one thing. Wifey Kim is the best non-poker playing spouse that a poker player could have. She has been unfailingly supportive, has stated unasked that she believes I could be a successful professional poker player, would support my decision to do so, and has shown that support by giving me tons of leway to travel to AC and Vegas without her to follow my love of the game.

Wifey Kim, you are the nuts, plain and simple. (And honey, that's a compliment.)

Until next time, make mine wifey Kim!

posted by Jordan @ 11:19 AM, , links to this post