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Three Hands

I'm busy typing up my year in review post, so excuse me for the lack of posting lately. I'm not even sure if I'll make a formal trip report post for X-mas in AC, largely because I played so little poker. I played one morning session in which I played HORRIBLY. I even called a players' winning hand aloud...and then called for a nice chunk of change. After a few hours, I left -$266, but happy to be alive. The next night I started off in suckout city, and had to reload my stack (I bought $100 in chips whenever I was below $200) three times. So I was basically stuck another $300 because of terrible river cards. Fortunately, I reminded myself to keep my head on straight and enjoy the bad play because it would pay off eventually. I fought hard and eventually left that table hours later up $187. So total poker profit for the trip: -$79. I probably suck $100 in table games too, but that's a small number considering the amount of table games I played.

Meanwhile, I played in two tournaments two days ago and was doing well in both. Unfortunately, I suffered a suckout in the Razz tournament, and then I basically had a blow up moment in a 6-handed PLHE tournament, giving away all of my chips. It's part of the reason why I shouldn't be playing online...I just don't have the mental stamina for these long tournaments.

That said, let's look at three hands from the PLHE tournament. At least I can offer you that little amount of content.

It's a $24+2, $4,000 Guaranteed tournament on FT, with 6-person tables with Deep Stacks (3000 to start). We are at the 20/40 level and I have chipped up to 4,130. I've been playing fairly aggressive, which should be no surprise to you.

I'm in the BB with A2h. Stick (3,380 chips), UTG, min-raises to 80. DevilDog (2,940) is next and calls. Ruf (2,280) calls immediately after. The SB folds. I call.

The flop is Th Jc Kh. I have a flush draw and an inside straight draw to Broadway. I check, hoping to get a free card, or at least a cheap card. Stick and Devil check, but Ruf bets 170 into the 280 pot. The price is right and I call. The other players fold.

The turn is a beautiful Qd, for Broadway with a draw to the nuts. I check, assuming that Ruf will take this opportunity to bet. He bets 340 into the 620 (or so) pot, and I decide to raise. I go with a min raise to 680 total, hoping to get the call. He complies. Should I have bet more here?

The river is Td, so the board has paired. It's on me, and he has about 1,300 left. I decide to bet a little less than half of his stack, because I find that people will call a bet that is less than 1/2 their stack much easier than they will call a bet that is more than 1/2. He calls. At showdown, he shows 97c, for a King-high straight.

I wonder if I could've busted him for another 650 or so. But on the end, I almost thought we were going to chop. What do you think?

We are now at the 40/80 level, and we have the same players at our table. I'm dealt 66 UTG (5,570 in chips, and the table chipleader) and raise to 240, a standard 3x the BB bet that I've been consistently making. Stick folds. DevilDog (2,465) calls and everyone else folds.

The flop is a beautiful Ac 6d Ts, and I've hit my set on a rainbow board with an Ace. I bet pot, 600, another move that I've been doing consistently. So, basically, in most hands I've been playing, I've been betting 3x the BB preflop and potting it on the flop. He calls.

The turn is 2d, a negligible card. I check, because at this point, he only has 1,625 left. I want him to think I'm weak so he does the betting for me. Sure enough, he pushes and I call.

What did he have? 78c. He was floating me on the flop and was planning on stealing on the turn if I showed weakness. My consistent aggression paid off here. It's all about timing, too, because in other hands, this may've gotten me to fold.

Last hand. The blinds are 150/300 and there is only one person left from my original table. I have 9,415, and I'm in third place in chips at our table. I'm dealt AsKd on the button, and it folds to me. I raise 3x the BB to 900. The BB, Twin, with over 12k, calls.

The flop is Kc 7c 4c, which gives me TPTK, but also makes a fairly blatant flush for anyone with two clubs. Twin checks, and I bet 1,500 into the 1,950 (or so) pot. Twin raises 6,450 on top. Now, for a split second I think. Does he have the flush? I decide to call because to me, this was a make-it-or-break-it hand in the tournament. It's all too easy to fear the flush, but the raise seemed like he wanted me out of the pot. That could mean that he made a low flush and fears me drawing to a higher flush. Overall, though, I do not put him on a strong made flush, and I think he is way more likely to be drawing, if anything. Assuming he is drawing to the flush, do you essentially call all-in here? I did.

The turn was a blank and the river was a club. At showdown, he had KJo, with no clubs. I took down a monster pot.

I'm not sure how helpful or even interesting these hands were. All I knew was that I was playing great...until I decided to push with TPTK on a 7-high board against Jacks. That's the part with my whole brain-lock thing. If anything, these hands show that part of luck is the timing of luck. I was lucky that someone with 78c decided to bluff me all-in when I had a set. I was lucky that KJo decided to push into my AKo when we both hit top pair on a scary board. But I was also lucky that I decided to make my plays when I did, and in a sense, I earned that luck by setting up my betting pattern, beating down my opponents, and taking opportunities when they presented themselves.

Keep an eye out for the year in review. Otherwise, have a great new years everyone.

Until next time, make mine poker.

posted by Jordan @ 5:23 PM, ,

Near Poker

Arriving home from our holiday parties, I fired up the computer at around 10:50pm. I wasn't sure what I was doing, but I found myself gravitating toward the Full Tilt icon. A double-click later, and I was on my way. Sorta.

I also fired up Yahoo IM. There is an IRC chat amongst bloggers, but lord if I can figure the damn thing out. I had downloaded Triskelion or whatever the hell the software is called (I may be mistaking its name with the S.H.I.E.L.D. nerds know what I'm talking about) that allows you access various chat programs in one interface. After the Bash, PokerWolf let me in on the IRC chat. He even tried to talk me through the process. I still can't figure it the hell out. Any advice would be greatly appreciated, incidentally, including advice from Wolf. After all, I have a new computer and hopefully, I can figure it out on this machine (not like IRC is high tech, though).

Whatever the case, I tried to get a grasp on what was going on in the blogosphere. I knew the Mookie was running, but I was late. I popped into a room and asked about if a cash game was going. I think it was GCox who said, "yeah, many". TripJax and Woffles were also at the table (if memory serves correct), and I felt a pang of regret that I missed out on the Mookie.

I never did find that cash game. I tried in vain to get a seat at Drizz's PLO table, but my bankroll was largely withdrawn and I didn't have the min buy-in. Then, I gave up. I shut down the programs, and fired up some mindless video games.

The hardest part of breaking up with online poker is sharing our mutual friends.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:57 AM, ,

Holiday Cheer

I feel like Kris Kringle this morning, skipping around the office handing out the holiday gifts (from me and my fellow associates) to the support staff. I took point this time, picking up the AmEx giftcards, writing the cards (a simple, "Thank you for everything. Happy Holidays.") and playing the Johnny Appleseed of Christmas cheer. The cards even say the word "Christmas!" But don't get me wrong, I'm still Jewish, and totally incidental to my Judaica, those were the best priced cards...

Online poker was great last night, mostly because it was non-existent. Instead, I'm playing some more of Command & Conquer: Yuri's Revenge as part of my online poker methadone treatment. Withdrawal hasn't been too bad, actually. The hard part is when wifey Kim nods off into slumber land. At times like those, I'd fire up the comp for some poker, but now, I just fumble for the remote like a recovering alcoholic chugging water in an attempt to stave off the thirst.

Meanwhile, I am all washed and purty for the firm holiday party tonight at a fancy shmancy (I think) Bobby Flay restaurant. It's definitely a step up from the old firm's holiday parties. There, the 80 attorney firm would host referring attorneys and clients at the beautiful large conference room, where catering was brought in. The 'bar' was in the elevator bank, and consisted of a folding table covered in a white clothe and a handful of bottles. The bartender was a mail room guy. The DJ was the firm maintenance man. Thank god there was no Santa, because the jolly, fat photocopy guy also seemed to border on perverted.

Alas, I've escaped that sorry excuse for a holiday party and have been looking forward to the firm's shindig. The best part is that I get to show off wifey Kim to the crew. Sure, they know of her, and they met her last year, but any time I can be seen with her only makes me look like da man. Not only is she a piece and a half, but she can get along with just about anyone. Want proof? She married me.

I guess without online poker, you all are probably missing my, "I lost $26 playing Omaha H/L last night" posts. Nah, I didn't think so. I guess my decision to cut down (even before New Year's Resolutions!) started a lot earlier than you or I may have realized. The fact that I had been steadily abandoning NLHE and SNGs in favor of mixed games was probably the first sign that a change was afoot.

The thing that I like most about mixed games is the newness. But it isn't just novelty, its about letting go. It's about gambling. I believe it was Sigmund Freud who said that all gamblers are losers and want to lose to punish themselves. Well, I don't know about that. What I do know is that poker players who solely play poker (and perhaps solely play one type of poker) are very different than poker players who gamble at other games as well. I think for the most part, poker players DO play non-poker gambling games. We've all heard stories of pros and their sports betting or craps play. But there are other disciplined players who avoid the -EV games at all costs. Those players, I imagine, are playing for the money (as well as the inherent love of the game). I've been there before, swearing off table games at casinos, and overall, it is a very efficient and responsible way to "gamble." I throw in the quotes because poker at its best is not just about blind gambling as much as it is about skill, strategy and odds. The other players who win, say $930 in a tournament but drop, say, $240 at craps first (cough cough me cough cough) are the other sort of gambler. In my daily life, I'm generally in control. At a poker table, that is true too. But at craps, sports betting and other table games, my fate is left to chance. I am out of control and I'm going to lose. And that, oddly, is appealing in its own degenerate way.

Hence, the mixed game focus. When I play games other than Hold'em, there is larger element of luck. Basically, as a newbie to some of these games, I still lack the layers of thought and analysis that has become an integral and undeniable part of my Hold'em game. That lack of knowledge (and in some cases, the games' rules and/or format) create that same out of control feeling I can get at a table game. Yes, folks, that's the gambling bug, and its one that I don't plan on catching.

That said, I will be playing some table games with wifey Kim during the Christmas holiday in AC. That's different though. There it is about spending time being entertained with my beautiful wife. She doesn't play poker, but she plays a mean game of Roullete. Fortunately, after withdrawing $500 from online and my slew of live wins, we are playing with money that won't affect our daily lives. So, we'll even get some time on the often-too-high craps tables. I can't wait...but, um, only because wifey Kim is there.

Roose dropped the ball for the AC holiday trip. His fiance can't make it because she can't get off of work on Tuesday (we are staying X-mas eve and X-mas night). Then Roose found out that he didn't book a room for Monday night anyway. Our hotel, Caesars (the cheapest deal for a casino/hotel on the Boardwalk for this particular trip), was sold out, so he had to book his second night at the Tropicana. If I were him, I'd be happy as a pig in shit. The Trop rate he got was great, and their poker room is fantastic (except for their tournaments). But he didn't want to be staying in a hotel alone, so he asked if he could bunk with us the second night. Um, bunk with us? I thought. I had to tell him no. It was our vacation, too, and sharing a room with wifey Kim and Roose, the human sleeping lumber mill (dude snores like nobodies business) would feel...creepy. We compromised and I switched to Trop on the 2nd night. I have to admit, though, its a good setup. After all, I know I can upgrade at the trop for cheap, and I love a swirling whirlpool tub!

Does that count as poker content? Close enough, I suppose. See, this whole personal online poker ban is working out just fine. Now if I can only get my hands to stop shaking.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:19 AM, ,

Ramble Ramble

I played the Hoy last night, but lost at the final table (only 13 players...). The big loss came after QQ was cracked by 22, but these things do happen.

Wait?! Did Jordan just say that he played poker online after his whole diatribe on quitting online poker?

Clearly, your reading comprehension skills are piss poor. I did say that I was quitting online poker, but I left myself a caveat. I'd still play the occassional blogger tournament, like the Hoy, and I'll allow myself the pleasure of playing online here and there. I'm just not going to get back into the same routine, and I'm certainly not treating it as a money-making venture.

Here's a question for all of you gamers out there. Can you recommend any PC games that are not MMORPGDFSAD or whatever that acronym is for the online games played with a multitude of people. It's not that I'm against those massive online games. It's just that I don't need to be making friends with people via an online video game. That's what I got poker for! So, I'm looking for games that are one-player affairs, and preferably strategy games that don't require a controller/joystick. With that said, if someone can recommend a worthy controller/joystick for a laptop setup and a game worth using it, then I'd reconsider.

Yes, vapid videogames will hopefully fill that void that online poker will be leaving. That and live poker, socializing with friends, spending time with wifey Kim, and eating my vitamins.

Meanwhile, I don't know when I'll fit some live poker in this week. Tomorrow is my firm holiday party, so that's out. Sadly, Wednesday is also the night for the Roose and I Had Outs home games, so alas, those will be missed this week. I can, however, head to the underground Salami Club for some poker. When I was there last, there was a bunch of new players, and when I asked how they found the place, they told me it was on Craig's list. That's a bad sign for privacy, but a good sign for weak-ass players. This group came with 5-6 guys, all of which played the $50+10 tournament, and none of which moneyed.

It's interesting playing live, because you get a whole other view of the players. Online, you can assume what you will, but I never think of the players' physical descriptions. I may think, "donkey scared player" or "young upstart kid" or "tight old guy" or "silly girl", but live, it's all right there for you. At Salami, at least, the most common descriptions is old action junkie, followed by young wannabe. Don't get me wrong though, there are some solid players. However, the ones I tend to notice are these characters, and it makes me wonder why someone such as myself would want to rub elbows with such characters. The answer, they bring money.

Yes, live poker is a lot more predatory as well, from my estimation (or, more accurately, from my experiences, as someone with a different skill set or mind set might analyze the situation a lot differently). Sure, online I'm happy to fine a really bad player and tag them, but I'm still just attacking LuckyDuck227 or a picture of a baby's head. Live, it's the scrawny kid with inappropriate amounts of money and big bawler style (which incidentally speaks to his insecurity moreso than his strength...strong means weak, biyatch!).

Speaking of live poker (and get used to it people, because it'll be happening a lot more here), I found myself focusing on a particular tell, thanks to some cursory readings of FBI behavior psychologists. Lips, people. Lips. Players are conscious of their faces, including their mouth, so I'm always looking to see if players are intentionally sending out false signals. Once an actor, always an actor. But a lot of people will tighten their mouths and pull their lips in when they don't like a card. They pucker with confidence when they are happy. So, if you see a guy tighten his lips when the Ace flops out, go ahead and bet him off of his hand. And if you see a girl pucker her lips, lay one on her you stud...and then, fold.

Blogging is definitely going to be different without online poker day-in and day-out. Truthfully, though, I've been short on fuel lately anyway. I've been preferring my long posts, rather than the daily hit n runs, likely because I don't mind rambling. Also, some in depth review or analysis doesn't hurt. My lack of online hand histories and therefore lack of You Decide posts hasn't been helping.

I think the Heads-Up Challenge is still going. I don't expect it to be done by the New Years, but that's what happens when you don't set firm dates people. Let this be a lesson to you all, but mostly to me.

I'm still intent on a blogger gathering in AC, even if its just me, Dawn and Karol. Dawn explained to me that one of the reason why the WPBT events aren't in AC is that there is no easy way to get there. Well, I suppose that is true, but it doesn't have to be an international affair. Even if it is just NE bloggers, I'd be happy. I'm just looking for likeminded people to hang and gamble with. And if some people want to fly into NY, I'd be glad to drive them the 2-3 hour drive to AC. But alas, I am not going to force anyone to go, so it might just be me, Dawn and Karol. At least I know we'll be playing lots of poker.

Work is sillibusy. That's a mix between silly and busy, and you can spread it to the world. Why sillibusy? Because its freakin' silly how busy I am. Daily, I get three new things dumped on my desk, all on a rush basis, to add to my pile of 12 other things in a rush. But, things are also going very well for me here. The boss man thinks I've got what it takes, and that's why I've been getting more responsibility. As it turns out, he's right to give me more responsibility too. I don't often say this here, but I'm a kick-ass attorney. If you don't believe me, just read my business card: "Jordan [last name omitted]. Kick Ass Attorney at Law." It replaces my old card, "Jordan [xx]. Hip Hop Attorney". Apparently, judges don't like when I kick it old school at Court. Holla!

Shiyit! I've had enough of this ramblin'. But first, my brother Clam David told me recently that one of his friends (besides Matty Ebs) reads this blog, but he couldn't remember who. Well, whoever it is, thanks for reading. Go Cougars Go! Er, or not. Whatever.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:10 PM, ,


Its a sad day at High on Poker. Recently, I had no choice but to face the facts and break off a relationship that became a liability. When we first met, everything was fun and new. It was an experience, and every time I saw her, my heart would beat just a little bit faster. But over time, I've come to realize that the passion cannot last, especially in the face of this past year.

Yes, I'm ending my relationship with that horrid bitch that has given me nothing in these last few months. I've thought about it before, but whenever I was ready to pack it in, she'd convince me by showing an ounce of kindness. I won't be fooled any more.

To make things a bit easier, I've met someone else. She's easier to get along with, puts out more, and has been more consistent than that old hag could ever be. We don't get to see each other as often, but with the breakup, that will likely change.

With that said, I officially announce my decision to break up with Online Poker (you didn't think I was talking about someone else, did you?! For shame!). It's been a good run. She was always around to talk with, hold my hand and keep me company. I'm not ex-communicating, like I did with a past ex-girlfriend when the breakup was so hard. No, I plan on spending some time with the Ole Bitch here and there, especially when we are hanging out with mutual friends at our favorite places like the Mookie, the Hoy, and the WWdn's. I might even stop by solo sometimes to play a tournament, or meet up with fellow bloggers for a cash game table. But overall, it's over.

No longer will I play daily online. No longer will I treat online poker like it is a money-maker. No longer will I be shackled by the idea that winning online equates my skills as a player. Nay! For in this last year, I am actually negative for the year online. NEGATIVE! Now, its minuscule, for sure. I'm only down about $250 for hours and hours of play. But overall for the year, I'm up over $3000 (a large margin over my $1800 goal), and it's all live.

I feel like I'm giving up in certain ways. I may have to look over my notes and determine what games online are my big losers and what games are my big winners. Offhand, I'll guess that NLHE and PLO (including O8) are probably my biggest losers. Mixed games like Razz are probably the winners. Maybe I'll focus more on non NL and PL games. But realistically, I might just have to walk for the most part (I'll always have some money online for the blogger events).

The cost, in money and time, is just not worth it. Now, I'm as self-destructive as the next guy, and probably a tad moreso, but there has to come a point where reality sets in. Why have my results been so much better live? I have my theories, mentioned several times here, but I also have to admit that turning my back on online poker scares me a bit. What if I've just been suffering an undue amount of negative variance online? What if I've been getting an undue amount of positive variance (i.e., good luck) live? Maybe stopping online will cause a shift, and I'll find myself suffering live. But, well, maybe not. They are different sorts of games, and I may be better suited to live play.

Time will tell how this will all wash out. I'm the first to admit that I've threatened to cut down online for a while to little success. But perhaps now that I have the information in front of me, it will be a lot better.

So, um, now that that is out of the way, wanna talk about some recent live action? I decided to head to Salami Club in NYC last night. Wifey Kim's friend was coming into the city and they were having dinner and drinks together. I could've joined, but I figured she'd be better off without me, and I love me some live poker.

The $50+10 tournament kicked off at 7:45 or so. I played decently, but eventually was short due to the fast structure. I pushed A4o into AKo and that was all she wrote.

During the first round, a familiar face entered the poker room. Dawn from I Had Outs is such a freakin' degenerate. It's good to have her company. We chatted for a bit, but I was moved to the other table before my demise.

When I busted, I decided to "rage solo," one of my new favorite phrases, which incidentally seemed to originate with Otis from Up for Poker. Salami actually has a small kitchen with a chef that makes some of the best pasta around. That said, I needed to get some air, so I hit the streets to find some grub.

I made my way over to Peanut Butter & Company, an order-at-the-counter restaurant that specializes in an eclectic variety of peanut butter sandwiches. I got the lunch box special, a generic PB&J (crunchy, strawberry, white bread) and grabbed a seat in the back. I ate while I listened to my iPod. My goal was to calm down (I wasn't too upset over the loss, but I could use a cool-down period), recoup, and return to Salami for the super loose 1/2 NLHE game. My recent string of live wins padded my live bankroll to the point where I was finally ready to play the high-variance game.

Dawn made it to the top 4 or 5. She was busted on a suckout her AK losing to A4, oddly similar to my exit hand, except for the opposite hand losing. When she was done, she joined the cash game, already in progress. I was up almost $200 already.

I don't remember many major hands. I got paid off nicely with AA once. A player on my immediate right was playing fairly looseley. Most of the table was, actually. He raised to $15 in EP/MP, and I decided to raise it up to either win it uncontested with AA, or, considering the table, get one caller only. I bump it to $55, an uncharacteristically high bet for me thus far. I was playing what passes as tight for the table, so I fully expected all players to fold.

In mid-late position, an old guy who made some truly donktastic calls during the tournament (calling an all-in with KJo post flop after missing the board...and then rivering a Jack), called me. When it got back to the pony-tailed gentleman on my right, he called as well. We now had a $150+ pot and I held AA. The flop was Q9x, offsuit. I was in late position, and the old loose guy was first. He only had 51 in front of him, and he pushed. Pony-tail hesitated a second and then called. I pushed all-in, hoping that if I was behind the old loose guy, I'd still get paid off to the tune of $200+ from Pony-tail. He hemmed and hawed (a popular saying for HoP, apparently), and said, "Do I want to take a chance at cracking Aces?" "You think he has Aces?" I asked. I knew he meant me, but I wanted to throw him off of my trail. "No, you do." I raised my eyebrows in mock surprise. "I fold."

The hand is dealt out and by the river, the old guy tables his cards and says, "I have two pair." My heart sank. I saw his A9, and looked at the board. Q9xTT. His two-pair were 9s and Ts. I tabled my AA, "You were right, sir," to Pony-tail, "I have Aces." "I know," was his gruff reply.

It was an odd table. Earlier in the tournament, the Pony-tail guy laid down a rivered two-pair, Aces and 6s, against a straight and a better two pair. When he folded, I said, "Nice fold." He looked at me and said, "No it wasn't. Anyone would've folded there." We then argued the point of how stupid some players are, but I resolved myself with the fact that Pony-tail was not one for compliments, even if they were sincere.

My suspicion was confirmed at the cash game. Pony-tail made what I considered another good play and I said, "Nice hand." He argued with me again. A hand after he left, a Moroccan-looking player who was VERY loose (that's saying a lot for this game), made a big bet preflop, made another big bet post-flop, and finally took down the pot on the turn with a huge bet. He got a lot of action, and the board, 57x9, wouldn't suggest that he, as a preflop raiser, would've hit hard. So, I was sincere when I announced, "Nice hand, sir." I'm not trying to kiss up or anything. I just like how he played it. If he had a monster, he got a lot of action. If he had nothing, he won the pot without showdown.

When I said, "Nice hand," I heard him grumble that I didn't even know what he was holding. I leaned over to Dawn, in the seat to my immediate left, and said, "No one can take a compliment around here." I then went on to explain my interactions with Pony-tail. Moroccan heard me yapping and called across the table. "What are you saying over there?" I responded, "I was just saying how no one here can take a compliment. I told the guy on my right "nice hand" a couple of times and each time he argued with me. I say the same thing to you and you tell me I don't know what you had." "I had the straight. I wanted to call." "I don't really care what you had. I liked how you played it either way, if you had it or you didn't." He backed off, "I didn't mean to be rude." "Nah, it's okay," because truly it was. "Now I know not to compliment anyone anymore. In fact, I take it back. Bad hand, sir. Bad hand!"

By now, the entire table was listening. It was clear that we turned an odd situation into a comically odd one. After that, I caught myself saying "nice hand" to a player, at which point I announced, "Um, wait, I take that back. No nice hand for you!" When I took down a hand later, and Asian kid smiled and said "Nice hand." I responded, "Piss off!" We all laughed as I told someone on the other side of the table to "Stuff it" as they complimented another play.

Yes, I have the most fun at the table when everyone is having fun. I seem to be more profitable too. A little while later, I won a whopper of a hand with Ace-high. I held A9o, and decided to raise it from MP/LP. I got a few callers, and the flop was KTx. It checked around to me and I bet out a large amount. I had found that I was earning a tight table image, and large bets from me sent most players running. All but one player, an older astute man, folded.

The turn was a second club, and I decided to fire another huge bullet at the pot. I believe I bet $12 preflop and got 4+ callers, and bet $45 on the flop. On the turn, I decided to bet $90, confident in the fact that I was playing with profits and would need to lay some pressure to scare off my opponent. He called, and was all-in for just about the $90 bet. Doh! The river was a blank and I sheepishly announced, "I have an Ace." I flipped the Ace over only. The table grumbled and a few players across the way complained, "You have to show both to win." It was at this point that I saw my opponent checking his cards, hoping that they would change. It looked like I was ahead, so I flipped my 9 to show Ace-high. He tabled JQc, for an open ended straight draw on the flop, and a flush draw as well on the turn. He held Q-high by the river, and I won a monster pot.

I promised myself I'd be leaving at 11:30pm, since I don't want to be in the room for the peak robbery-police raid shift (not that it happens often, but I think leaving early is great advice provided by SoxLover). Dawn was going to stick it out.

I called wifey Kim on my way home. She was heading back from drinks with the girls, and I was walking on sunshine. The train ride was smooth and soon I was at home, placing my poker bankroll back in its not-so-hiding place.

Live poker, gotta love it!

Quick update, I ran some numbers according to my spreadsheet. Individually, it looked like I was a net winner across the board in online poker. NLHE, LHE, LO8, PLO, SNGs, and MTTs, to name a few. I must have made an error somewhere in my Excel spreadsheet. That, or I lost most of my money playing Chinese poker and other weird variations that I didn't do the math on. Whatever the case, I think my mind is fairly made up. Online poker will become a blogger-gathering affair. The rest will be live.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:56 AM, ,

A Very Blogger Christmas

I'm getting quite the kick out of reading all of the Vegas trip reports out there. Some of them can be a bit hard to understand, but when you read them all, you get a broad picture of debauchery, the likes of which I've never seen (and I've seen some serious debauchery). I'm also enjoying the contrast between everyone's Vegas reports and my AC report. Basically, its like apples and oranges. They may both be in the same category of fruits, but they have a very different taste. After all, my trip only had one degenerate blogger. Theirs had dozens.

Its also nice to see the blogger community almost strengthen following this trip. The best part for me is reading about the random interactions, like when Dawn from I Had Outs met GCox. G, from Oklahoma, is one of my favorite people out of all fo the bloggers, like a close friend even though we've never seen each other in person. Likewise, I am a huge fan with the I Had Outs girls (Dawn and Karol) and find them to be kindred spirits (i.e., fellow degenerates with similar first, everything else after) as well. So, when I hear about them meeting, one an Oklahoman giant and the other a female NYC lawyer, and, well, getting along, I can't help but get a special warm feeling. Reading about Linda Geenan's and Michael Craig's interactions with the bloggers has also been interesting.

Meanwhile, it poker news, I've been dealing with the usual live poker binge after effects, most notably an odd sleeping pattern, a traumatized gastrointestinal tract, and a distaste for poker light, otherwise known as online poker. Excuse me for repeating myself, because I know I've said this before, but the difference between a Want and a Need is that you can always Want more, but at some point your Needs are met and you've had enough (until some future time). We Want money. We'll always want more. We Need food. At some point, we will be full and satiated until the next feeding time. Maybe I Need poker, because right now, I've had enough for a bit.

I lost $100 two nights ago on a PLHE/PLO table at Full Tilt, a nice addition to their game lineup. I'd love to try a tournament like this. In my session, I had AA twice in HE, only to lose both times, and AAxx at least twice in PLO, also only to lose. It's a shame, but I wasn't so much phased by it.

The next day, i.e., last night, I played in the Mookie. I forgot I had registered and fired up the computer 22 minutes into the event. I played a little bit, but got antsy and pushed in order to steal the bullshit raise from someone in MP/LP. Someone behind me pushed over me. He had AK to my KQ and I go home. Notably, the guy who intially raised had 56o or some combo of low cards and folded his hand, so my play wasn't horrible...if not for the players yet to act behind me. I was only getting called by a monster hand, and that, my friends, is not good strategy.

I question how and when I'll return to a regular online poker schedule. Yesterday was a real struggle just to drum up interest was I initially tried to play, failing miserably since nothing really interested me. Hell, by tonight, I may be back in the swing of things, but without any bonuses to chase, I'm inclined to leave my money at Neteller (where it is presumably safer than some places -- my heart goes out to Duggles) and play a random blogger event when the mood strikes. Meanwhile, I'm mentally preparing to up my play at the underground clubs in NYC, and specific at Salami with their $50+10 turbo tournament followed by deep and loose 1/2 NL. I avoided the 1/2 NL in the past for fear of the, well, fearlessness of the other players (i.e., stupidity in many instances), but now that I have a cash bankroll of over $1k, and potentially more if I decide to withdraw more money from online, I think I'm ready to ride the variance. Truth be told, I'm starting to feel confident that I'm going to be the best player in those games, and for me to win, I have to think that. Trust me. I won't win if I think I'm going in as an underdog.

Meanwhile, life goes on. Wifey Kim is as hot as ever, I got my annual raise at work and was very happy, and I'll be seeing my family soon to celebrate my recently passed birthday (December 11th, for all you punks who forgot...not that you ever knew...or asked...jerks). Wifey Kim and I sent out an email to a bajillion people in October that basically asked them if they wanted to hang with us on New Years and offering a couple of ideas. We hoped it would jumpstart everyone's planning, but alas, we are now a couple of weeks away and people are for the first time contacting us to ask what is going on. The short answer, nothing. We are probably going to find a nice dinner/party place with another couple, good pal Jefe and his gal, and if other people want to join, they can let us know. I hate these things, as planning can be arduous and the payoff, a crowded bar of 21 year olds, each clamoring for a drink but nowhere near the 4-person deep bar, is less than inviting. Here's hoping that it all works out. I'm sure it will.

Meanwhile, in a few weeks, while you are all participating in Birthday Party for Jesus, wifey Kim and I will be heading to AC for our annual Jews in AC Christmas Special. You can read about last years' gathering HERE (you'll have to scroll down to December 26th to read the AC posts). I'm also going to work on a new page with a list of my trip reports, and probably another one for my You Decide posts. I used to have those done, but with the change, I ditched them.

Last night, wifey Kim and I caved and gave each other our Hannukah "gifts". I put that in quotes because this year, we set up blue and white Christmas stockings and did our best to fill them up. The selection of items in my stocking were all wrapped in red and green tissue paper. To complete the irony, many of the items were just...well, weird. Some highlights were the pocket packet of tissues, wrapped in tissue paper. I laughed for a good 5 minutes at that one, just because of the pure absurdity of it all, wrapping tissues in tissues. Wifey Kim's explanation: "You are always asking me for tissues, and now you won't have to." Yeah, I'm confused too. She also got me a WSOP logo bic lighter and a Spiderman deck of cards. She knows me too well. There was the usual pair of boxer-briefs and socks. As I openned the nail clippers, wifey Kim gave me a warning: "You are never going to use this gift, but I will." So, basically, she bought me a gift for her. But the oddest gift of the bunch, a three-pack of breath mints: "Because your breath stinks!" in her cutest voice.

Shiyit! With gifts like those, who needs a drugstore!

I should probably mention that my birthday gift from just a few nights before consisted of a stack of boxes filled with so many items, I felt like we were unwrapping the gifts following a 6th birthday party. Unfortunately, while I got some sweet clothing, I didn't get any Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures, so I guess it wasn't as good as a 6th grade birthday party.

That's all for now. Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:42 PM, ,

I Wasn't Even Supposed to Be Here Today (AC Trip Report Pt 5)

I'm almost at the finish line. Holy shit!

I woke up at 9:30 on Sunday morning. I missed wifey Kim, but I had to concentrate on my date with destiny. Er, more accurately, my date with Roose. We got up, shortly followed by Randy Hole, and prepped for our day. Bags were packed, and we worked out a strategy. Roose was ready first, so I sent him downstairs to wait at the Mansion Cafe line, the diner-equivalent restaurant at Showboat. Randy and I stepped out of the room, and barely glanced back to see if we left anything. Whatever we left couldn't be that important anyway. I know my copy of Bluff, left on the nightstand, wasn't worth its weight in horse manure. Every time I leave AC or any gambling locale, I have 2-3 poker publications, and every time, they sit in my bathroom magazine rack for 4 months until wifey Kim tosses them out. Whatever!

So, off to the Mansion Cafe. When we got there, Roose was next up. We got our table and put in our orders. I got 2 eggs, scrambled, with a bagel and cream cheese. I also got the official breakfast drink of High on Poker, chocolate milk. Nothing preps me for the day better than chocolate milk! As we waited for our food, I printed out my $9 comp. Sadly, it would cover most, if not all, of my meal. Sad because the night before, I beat Roose in Rummy 500, and the loser was to pay for breakfast, after both of our comps were used. Roose, meanwhile, was sent to the poker room to sign up for the tournament. I told him I had my doubts, and he protested briefly, but didn't make a big deal of it. I figured it made more sense to play cash games since I could win more, and when he was done in the tournament, we could leave.

After breakfast, Randy left for North Carolina to visit his friends Eric and Heather, two great people I've gotten to know from the Roose home game. I hit the bathroom as Roose went to the poker room to grab his seat. When I was done with my business, Roose and I shot the shit near the poker desk. "You should play, man. I feel more confident when you play." I was a bit surprised. Why would Roose feel more confident when I played the same tournament. It wasn't like we'd be at the same table, and it wasn't like I was dead money. No, I suppose it was more of a habit thing. Whenever we play these tournaments, we play them together. The 1/2 games had a waitlist and Roose went to take his seat. I spoke to the woman at the desk and asked if they were still taking tournament entries. Indeed they were, until the first break, so I signed up last minute to assuage Roose's concerns. It was $53+12 (formerly $50+15), with 10k in chips and starting blinds of 50/100. I grabbed my seat a couple of hands into the event. There were 84 players.

My first table was great. My reading abilities have come a long way, and I began to get a feel for my competition. There were two rowdy black girls on my right. I joked with them the whole time and we really were enjoying each others company. There was a skinny older guy with a poneytail, goatee and hunting camoflauge cap on across from me, and I noticed that he was one of the few other loose players. I also noticed that when he pushed, and push he did, he'd have a premium pocket pair. Otherwise, he had marginal hands when he was raising. The rest of the table was a blur, but it was a friendly group, and we were all having a fine ole time.

After a short while, I was dealt KK. I hadn't played a hand in the 2+ orbits since I arrived, so when I raised it up, I was glad to get one caller. The flop was QJT, and I bet out approximately the pot size. I was called. The turn was a blank, and if I felt that I was still ahead, so I bet the pot. He called again. The river was another blank, and I made a large bet. This time, my opponent folded. This was also about the time I realized that the table was playing pretty tight.

Showboat has great tourneys, but they changed things up, so blinds felt a bit fast. It was 50/100, 100/200, 200/400, 400/800, 600/1200, 800/1600, 1000/2000 and so on. 20 minute blinds were okay, but not great. I really didn't care much about the tournament either. I was already in the hole a decent clip, $240 on craps, $21 on Stud, $170 on the WSOP Circuit, so the $65 entrance fee didn't phase me. I was ready to switch to cash games if I busted.

I started to raise with a lot of hands, and usually was able to take it down pre or post-flop with a continuation bet. In this way, my stack grew to a respectable size. I barely hit showdown and I had a couple of instances where I won 3 or more hands in a row. Cue the internal NBA Jams voice: He's on FIRE! I got along great with the table, too. One of the black girls grabbed for my Buddha card cap, claiming that she wanted its luck. "Woe! Slow down their honey. Buddha's luck only lasts for about 20 seconds in the hands of a woman. Then he needs 20 minutes to recuperate." I grabbed back Buddha and jokingly slapped her hand. Later, a dealer said that she had great hair. "Don't listen to her (the female dealer), honey. She said the same thing to me" as I lifted my hat to show my bare palatte. Ah, witty table banter. Gotta love it.

I've just listened to my audio notes to remember my other significant hands. I played two hands against the hillbilly with the camoflauge hat. In one, I had AJo and limped in early position. He made a bet in late position, and knowing he was loose, I called. The flop was J-high, and I checked, hoping he would bet. He checked. The next card was negligible, so I bet and he called. The river was a blank, and one more pot-sized bet helped me take it down. In a later hand, I called his preflop raise with AQ, only to hit TPTK again. I bet out and he called me down the whole way with AK. I had a feeling he had AK, so my bets remained low enough to induce the calls the entire way down.

I took out one player with A9o. The blinds were already 200/400, so I raised 3x the BB with A9o, hoping to pick up the blinds. An Asian guy on my right had already limped in. He called my bet, and we saw a 9-high flop. Yes, I kept hitting TPTK, now that I am looking back. At least that was the case for the first hour. He checked and I bet the pot. He called. I was always betting pot so everyone knew that if you wanted to play with me, you'd have to pay. The flop had 2 spades, so I hoped that no spade would come out. Instead, an offsuit Ace was the turn, giving me top two pair. Suddently, my opponent bets out, and I push him all-in. He calls pretty quickly and shows AJs. The river was a blank and I bust him.

At the first break, I had over 28,800 chips. I was in good shape, having almost tripled up my starting stack. I know I just mentioned a group of hands that had me with good cards, but most of my money came from taking down the 200/400 blinds and limpers. If the mood was right, any two would do.

After the break, my table, well, broke, and I ended up at a table with a slew of big stacks. I went from top dog to middle of the pack, and did my best to feel out the group and keep the aggression going. This is another of those times that I don't remember a bunch of hands. I made a raise in late position on one hand, only to have the prohibitive chipleader hem and haw. He shuffled his chips as he decided what to do from the SB. He decidedly folded and the player to his left pushed all-in. When I folded, the chipleader, who I'll just name Asshole, stated loudly, "I knew you had nothing." "Well," I replied, "next time you think I have nothing, the correct move would be to raise. And besides," here comes the fun part, "if you raise me there, I call in a heartbeat. It's this guy," motioning to the BB who pushed, "that I was worried about. You, I call." The very next hand, I'm dealt KK, and I make the same raise. The SB hems and haws again, shuffles his chips and folds. The former BB pushes, and when it folds to me, I call. He has 88, and hits his eight on the turn. I lose a good portion of my stack.

I got into desperation mode, eventually. Roose was moved to my table, and had the pleasure of seeing me at my best, when I'm playing for all of my chips. I was in the BB with 29d, a miserable hand, but I had less than 5x the BB. The Asshole raises big, and when it folds to me, I'm glad to call. "I've got you dominated." I quip, as he shows his AKo. The flop is 262, and I take down the hand. I get all-in with 33 against the 88 guy a short while later. He shows A8 and doesn't hit anything. I double up again.

This was really the survival portion of the game. Blinds were high and I was under 10x the BB for most of my time there. The action was loose, too, so I didn't want to take too many shots at the pot without at least playable hands. Meanwhile, Roose and I were still hanging in there and the rest of the field thinned to two 6 player tables. Actually, I believe this is where I pushed with 33, and the KK hand was a while before. I remember after the hammer fold, that Asshole was going on about me. When I shamed him into shutting up, he said, "Whatever. It was a good play. You are a good player." He actually seemed sincere. If he was paying attention, I'm sure he saw that he and I were the best players there. I responded, "Yeah, same to you," in case his comment was tinged with sarcasm.

I was able to make it to the final table with Roose, but the payouts were only to the top 8 players (10 at the final table). In one of the first hands at the table, I held 99. An early position player pushed, and I had played with him earlier. He wasn't a very good player at all. The Asshole had been moved to the other table (out of 2) not too long ago. When he returned, he had 34k, less than 10x the BB. He pushed all-in as well, and the decision was to me. With 99, I called, hoping to be facing to Ace-highs. As it turned out, the first player had JJ and Asshole had A8 or A6. The flop was unimportant. The turn was too. I heard Roose in my left ear, "Nine." And then it was dealt out, the sweet, sweet 9. I knocked out both players, and Roose and I were in the money.

Roose and I celebrated making the final table during the final table break. I had 160,000 now, the big stack at the table, but blinds were escalating rapidly. I played fairly tight, unless I had cards. I busted two more players. Roose may've misplayed KQ, raising in early position only to be re-raise all-in by two other players. He called, and was facing JJ and 66, but didn't hit. A few hands later, he was sucked out on in 6th place. GG, Dave. 5th place was the hillbilly with the camo hat. He was joking the entire time that he was the shortstack but would chop the money evenly. "Buddy, I don't mean to insult your salesmanship, but try not to mention you are the shortstack in that sentence and you'd get a lot farther." He didn't get a lot farther. 5th it was.

With four left, it was me, a tight old guy to my left, a red headed younger guy across from me, and a loose chunky Hispanic guy on my right. The old guy was super short, and Red had chipped up, so Red, Chunky and I were already talking about an even chop in the top 3. While this happened, Old Guy started to push all-in a lot. He sorta had to. He picked up some blinds, and also doubled up in cointoss situations, when he was heads up with Q6 vs. two other uncoordinated cards, and again with some low pair preflop. I saw his stack get healthy, and decided to try to make a deal happen sooner. If we split the top 3 spots evenly, we'd all get 1120. I suggested we all toss $100 more to fourth and give him what amounted to $750. As we talked, old guy stole more and doubled up more. Suddenly, I realized that he had me covered. Not long after, he had everyone else covered.

Oh, I dropped the hammer. In the SB, it folded to me and I pushed all-in against the Old Guy. He was only calling with good hands, although who knows what he was pushing with. He folded and I tabled them face-up, calling over Roose to witness my act of brazenness.

As I was saying, Oldie actually surpassed us all at this point, and Red, the former big stack, realized what was happening. "Let's slow down a second." I agreed, as did the dwindling Chunky Hispanic. "Four way chop?" someone proposed. I took out my cell phone calculator and did the math. Split 4 ways, we'd each get $929 and change. DONE! We drew high cards to see who officially got first place, since Harrahs/Showboat report taxes (but don't withhold) for wins over $600, i.e., 1st and 2nd place, officially. I ended up picking the card for 2nd place and received a tax form. When we got our money, we each tipped the $29 and change to the dealers. As we congratulated ourselves, Roose still grumbled about being sucked out on.

Thanks to that win, I was up $400 or so on the trip. The tournament win was my largest tournament win live or online, and I was very proud of my results.

The ride back to NY was, well, a ride back. We sped most of the way and got home in no time.

AC poker, gotta love it. I wasn't even supposed to be in that tournament, but Roose convinced me and we both cashed. Pretty sweet. I love this game, and if this trip taught me anything, it is that live poker is my game. Even when I lost, I never tilted and I knew that I could win. I accepted luck as just that, luck.

Someone joked about a blogger event in AC. Well, AC isn't Vegas. They won't give us our own private tournament. But we could all storm one of the many tournaments in town. I'd really love to get together with some other bloggers. The Bash was great, but I can't usually do Vegas, since it's a large money and time commitment. The bottom line is, I don't have the time or the ambition to be the sole planner of a trip. I tried to get the ball rolling for Foxwoods, but got no interest. I'd try the same for AC, but I don't have it in me. Any volunteers? I'd certainly help get the word out, at the very least.

That's all for now. Until next time, make mine (live) poker!

posted by Jordan @ 5:09 PM, ,

Crazy Cash Gamers (AC Trip Report Pt 4)

I could tell that the 1/2 NL cash game table was going to be an interesting one. Early on, the player to my immediate right, a Jamie Gold midget lookalike, was using his outdoor voice, practically screaming in my ear as he shouted across the table, "RAISE!" He was clearly donking it up, and his miniscule stack, under $100, looked silly compared to the rest of the table, many of whom had $500 or more (with an initial $300 max buy-in). In other words, I was to the immediate left of the game's donator, and his obnoxious behavior was like pure ecstacy to me.

To his right, a big dude with a sleeveless sweatshirt, jet black hair, and a make-shift goatee was whooping it up, playing loose and having a fine ole time. To his right were two barely-21-year-old kids, guzzling Red Bulls and vodkas and talking to each other about particular hands and stategies as though the rest of us were deaf and blind. To their right were a couple of big stacks, including one that just felt like a good player. This was confirmed by the kids and the Golden midget, who stated to watch out whenever the good player entered a pot. After him was someone I pretty much ignored. I think he was uber-tight, but whatever the case, I don't recall him. Somewhere over there was the sole non-white male of the table, a small, intelligent-looking black dude who seemed on edge. The to his right was a big white dude with a shaved head, goatee, and water bottle for spitting his tobacco. He seemed GCoxian to me, both in attitude and play-style, and I noted this for later. The rest of the table was really just an afterthought.

While we played, I chatted up the Golden midget. He was clearly hated by the table, so I wanted him to keep on riling them up, all the while feeding me info on himself, the table, and just about anything else I would ask. The kids were talking strategy, and I chuckled to myself as one of them bet out $20 into a $8 pot to take it down uncontested against three other players. What a stupid bet, I thought. I was then surprised when one of them got into a hand with the Golden midget, only to have the midget push on the river for what amounted to, at that time, the same bet as the turn, and about 1/5 of the total pot. The kid folded and stated, "There you go again. A bet like that will only be called by a better hand." Clearly, the kid didn't have anything worth playing, and I noted that for later. He also seemed to have the inklings of poker knowledge, and his aggression actually impressed me to an extent. He was like a bundle of raw poker energy with no real focus.

I became friendly with the kids as I chatted them up. They were trying to order 2 Red Bulls and vodka each, but the waitress wouldn't agree. I piped in, "Hey, that sounds good. I'll have one too." When the drinks came, I called out one of the kids named Joe and said, "Joe's got my tip covered." He affably paid, and when I moved to hand him his second drink he was confused. "I ordered it for you, buddy. I can't be drinking Red Bull right now." He had paid my tip without even realizing that I was actually ordering for him. Of course, he was pretty drunk. To keep him and his buddy from thinking we were all just having fun (and we were), I called over to the waitress, "Hey honey, this Red Bull ain't going down right. Can I get a Corona?" Now we would all be drinking, just some a bit harder than others.

I played a hand with the GCoxian guy. He was aggressive when in a hand, and I think I missed the flop, but there was a flush draw and I called his bet hoping to represent the flush if it hit. On the next card, the flush scare card is dealt and I check. He bets $20 and I raise to $60. My read is right and he folds.

I don't remember many hands with particularity. I don't think I reached showdown much. I got my stack up almost $200 at one point and felt like this table was ripe for the taking. One of the kids checked in the dark and showed down AQo in the hand, interesting if only for Gavin Smith' theory that 2 out of 3 times if someone checks in the dark, they are holding AQ.

The Golden midget got into a hand with the bald GCox. The midget was bluffing the entire way and at showdown the GCox had the nut flush (which he oddly checked on the river). Earlier when I played a hand against him, he threw his cards face up across the table so I could see what he had at showdown. This time, when he chucked them, the cards bounced, flipped face down, and landed in the much. The dealer was looking away so when he looked down, he was the mucked cards and began pushing the pot. This caused a ruckus. The floor was called, but ulitmately, the GCoxian guy lost. He should have, too. Just place the cards, buddy. No need for flare. Meanwhile, the black guy, who was totally not in the hand, seemed to steam and told the dealer that he was going too fast. Too fast?! I love fast dealing. I kept my mouth shut, though, as the Golden midget was yelling at some other guy across the table for defending the GCox's version of the faux muck. The table was all yelling and anger. I loved it.

A few hands later, the dealer turns to the black guy, who is still very angry, and asks, "Is this slow enough for you?" Holy shit, you'd think he called the black guy's mother a whore.

The black guy gets even more riled up now. "Why you gotta turn this personal?" Meanwhile, the action is to him, UTG+1 and the entire table is being held up by this madness. Golden midget starts getting anxious and yells, "FLOOR!" Meanwhie, the black guy is explaining, "Hey man, this money might not be a lot to the rest of you, but it is to me, so I take this very seriously." All the while, I want to tell the black guy to fold so the rest of us can play, but I, for once, keep my mouth shut. The floor comes over and the black guy barks at midget Gold for getting involved. Eventually everything calms down, but I say to my side of the table that the black guy is ripe for the taking.

Roose comes by, busted by another bad beat, when he hit TPTK with AQ and was called down the entire way by suited AK, who goes runner runner flush. I tell him that my table is too good to leave, especially with those kids across from me, to which he replies, "They'll just suck out on you." "That's fine with me," I say, and sure enough, both Roose and I are right. A few hands later, I have QJ and call a raise from the kid, who was shuffling his cards, a common sign that a player doesn't like his cards. The flop is Q high, and he bets out. I call, knowing that I'm in great shape. The next cards is a blank and he bets out again. I call, just in case. The river is a King and he bets out the same amount as his last two bets, another sign of weakness or inexperience. I call, and he rivered me with his KT. Like I said to Roose, though, I don't really mind. I'll win from him later.

Or so I planned. As it turned out, not much later, I got into a hand with the black guy. I was going to represent the flush draw again after hitting middle pair, and let him bet into me. When the flush card comes on the turn, I decide to just call him again, looking to make my move later, knowing that he is playing with scared money. The river makes a four-flush, and I'm pretty screwed, even with my Jack-high flush. I decide to test him, though, since people were playing 2-pair on flush boards like it was perfectly natural. By this time, the pot is significant, so I grab a stack of chips that constituted all of my profits, about $60-75 by the river. He pauses and announces, "raise." This is his first raise of the game over several hours. I muck and say, "You caught me on the river with the Ace?" He shows the Ace. I made a play at a bad time. I rack my chips up, happy to have played and broken even. I was tired, literally falling asleep at the table. As I racked up, one of the kids says, "He's just better than you at poker," referring to the black guy. I look over my sunglasses and burn a whole through him with my eyes. He looks sheepish, his joke obviously falling short, and he jokes, "He doesn't even need sunglasses. heheh?"

Now, the truth was, I liked the kid. I saw some potential for his game, and besides, I was leaving. I also got that he was joking. As I racked up, my side of the table seemed disappointed to see me go. We were all having a good time together. I motion for the jokester kid to stand up and come over, as I near the far corner of the table. "Me?" he sounded scared. "Come on kid, we aren't going far, I gotta tell you something." He came over looking like a deer in headlights. "When you shuffle your cards, it means you have a bad hand. That's your tell." I wanted to help the kid and if I humbled him a bit, all the better. He thanked me earnestly and I told him good luck.

I headed to the cage, cashed out my $300 and went upstairs. I was exhausted, but Roose was hanging alone. Randy had disappeared, and we had some migraine medication to relax us after all of the poker adrenaline. We played some more Rummy 500 and shot the shit. Randy eventually came up, at least an hour later. He had went to the poker room, and actually was right near me, but poker rooms cause tunnel vision.

Before we hit the sack, Roose and I agreed to play Showboat's $53+12 tournament at 11am tomorrow. As I lie in bed, I changed my mind. The tournament was another crap shoot, and I felt confident that I could make more money with cash games. I resolved to tell Roose to give it his best, and I'd wait for him at the cash games.

Then it was off to slumber, where I dreamt that wifey Kim and I broke up, and I couldn't get laid for the life of me.

Coming tourney or not to tourney?

posted by Jordan @ 10:55 AM, ,

Not Too Short Circuit (AC Trip Report Pt. 3)

Its not as easy as it looks preparing a trip report like this. For one, its a bitch to remember everything. Hence, I have started taking audio notes on my cell phone of key hands and situations to add in to my posts later. I'd go the pad and paper route, but I already carry a bevvy of items on my person when I play poker, and, well, I just would feel like a tool taking notes at the table. Nope, rather just hit a button and record my nasally-Kevin-Baconesque voice.

The other hard part is reliving everything. It's sorta like watching a rerun, or even worse, getting a sense of eerie deja vu. It's like I mentally return to the scene of the crime, but I'm as exhausted as I was at the end of the trip. Is this making any sense? Ah hell, let's get back to the trip report.

Picture it, Atlantic City, 2006.

At exactly 10am, Roose woke me up. Thank god he did, too. We were supposed to wake up at 9:30am, but my cell alarm didn't go off. I guess waking up M-F at 7am can actually have its advantages.

I hit the shower, a rare but in this case necessary AC event, and prepared my poker gear. I had my traditional blue Superman t-shirt and my black dollar-sign Superman t-shirt made by Robbie Hole. The dollar-sign won out, and I donned my preferred poker pants, cargo pants with pockets for everything. Its really quite planned out. The glasses and case go in the ankle pocket. The wallet, a special one for poker, goes into the zippered side pocket. A place for everything and everything for its place.

At the game, I want no distractions and I want no discomfort. I have a hat and probably the most versatile item, a bandanna. I have my little Buddha statue card cap. I usually like to bring a bottle of water. In this instance, we were expecting to play a long tournament, so we stopped by Dunkin' Donuts for bagels, water and I picked up some munchkins. I toyed with the idea of bringing them to the table to share with my table mates, a move that would immediately set a nice if stupid table image and might give me some reads on basic temperment. The guy who takes it and thanks me is an open player. The guy who sneers at me like I'm going to poison him is looking for a fight. But alas, even I have shame, so I just took a few in a bag in case I got hungry.

The rest of my gear consisted of my hooded sweatshirt for the random periods of shivers I get while I play and my jacket, if only because it had more pockets for all of my supplioes.

Loaded up, we got to the ballroom where the tournament was to take place 45 minutes early. The place was a madhouse. A line of people were waiting on a line to get their Harrahs Rewards cards, which were necessary to enter the tournament. For some bass ackward reason, Harrahs was actually having all registering people wait in that line first, even if they already had a card. Then they'd get on the even longer line to pay and get their seat cards.

The night before, we were told that there was no cap on the entries. That day, it was clear that they'd have to cap it. There were 40 tables in the main room, and as I later found out, probably 20+ downstairs in the main poker room, each with 11 seats. I was at table 27, in seat 7, a fantastic number for two reasons: 1st, its the Hammer table, baby! 2nd, I was turning 27 that Monday (now yesterday), so I'll take the table number as a sign of luck. At table 29, two tables behind me, was Bones. He and Ruff arrived about 5 minutes before the event, smart enough to not rush into the long wait. Ruff was over at table 8, across the room. Roose must be a celebrity or something. He was at table 40, a table set in the middle of the room surrounded by bleachers and monitors. Yes, Roose was at the wouldbe TV table.

I settled into my seat and waited. and waited. and waited. The line was still going and there was an announcement at start time, 12pm, that the tournament would be starting shortly. The field would be capped, but everyone currently in line would get in as an alternate at the very least. What fools, I thought. It was hard enough waiting for the tournament to start (at least 30 minutes late, if I recall correctly). Now imagine that, but the tournament has already started and you are hoping to jump in as an alternate before the blinds were super high.

The blinds started at 25/ our table...and our table ONLY. At the end of the 45-minute level, they announced that the blinds were going up to 50/100. I was shocked at the jump and our table called the floor. Our dealer asked, "Don't the blinds go to 25/50 first?" The floor responded incredulously, "You guys were playing 25/25 for the last 45 minutes?! Well, damn. It's 25/50 to start. What are you guys doing over here?" I joked that we should just move up to 25/50 now because it was too late to change our blind structure. 50/100 it was, though. The table was fine. There was a loose jerk of a player on my left, but I paid him no mind. The rest of the table seemed fairly tight, and I believe that I took a pot or two early with some semi-bluffs or outright bluffs. It really is easy to discern when players have given up on a pot. Early on, everyone is just looking to get good cards, so a raise with KQ and a continuation bet from position after the Ace comes out on a flop will usually take down the pot if you gauge your players right. I didn't try to get too fancy, but I was limping a lot while the blinds were low. Our starting stacks were 4000, so I 25/25 blinds were negligible, and I tried to flop a monster. It didn't really happen.

One guy seemed to get lucky early on. I don't remember the hands in particular, but he doubled up and then took down a couple of other huge hands, showing sets and other great cards. He seemed friendly enough, and he wasn't getting in my way, so it was no harm to me. I was just happy to see the chips moving around the table. The only significant hand in the first two blind periods was when I decided to raise 3x the BB with K4s in middle/late position. It was really just a steal move for insignificant blinds, and I got one caller in late position. The flop was K43, and I checked, hoping to induce a bluff. My opponent checked as well. The turn was a 6, and I bet out 200. He called. The river was a blank and I bet out 400, but my opponent folded. Otherwise, the best hands I saw were KQ, A9, 66 and 33. I was happy to be card dead, though. Card dead meant I couldn't get myself into any sticky situations, K4s notwithstanding.

By the end of the 2nd level, we had a 30 minute break. The break was supposed to be 10 minutes, but the players in the regular poker room got started 20 minutes late, and this would allow everyone to play simultaneously. Our gang of four met up and headed into the food section of the ballroom. I grabbed a slice of pizza to assuage the weird empty feeling in my stomach. Prior to the tournament starting, I actually had to get up from my seat and walk around to get some air. I was nervous as hell, and had to get into a better mindstate. It really reminded me of standardized testing: a room filled with people hoping to outdo each other, all of whom are placing varied amount of pressure on themselves to succeed. In test situations, I try to listen to music before the exam while others are quizzing each other and cramming. My motto is that confidence is 90% of testing, so I tried to apply the same mental gymnastics to get to my moment of zen. By the time I got back to the table, I felt ready.

At the break, I was at 3375, having lost 625 on unsuccessul limps and blinds. I may've lost as much as 200 on a particular hand, but nothing more. Roose had already busted in the second level. He had AJo and raised preflop. He hit his Ace and bet pot or so on the flop, turn and river, eventually getting all-in before showdown. Regardless of his big bets, some guy called him down with pocket 8s and spiked an 8 on the river. He was steaming when he walked over to tell me.

Ruff and Bones, meanwhile, were chipped up pretty nicely. I think Bones had 8k+ and Ruff was "only at" 6k+. As I mentioned, I was card dead, so I wasn't complaining about my position. However, the blinds were going up to 100/200 with a 25 ante, so I was also readying myself for having to play push-or-fold poker. In fact, I remember telling Ruff that I was actually looking forward to that proposition, since at least my decisions would be easy and I'd know how this tourney was going to go in no time.

When the action restarted, I got into game mode. I still didn't get any cards over 99 (and that only once, followed by my next best hand, 66), with no AK, AQ, AJ or AT. Yep, card dead. However, I was able to make some position re-raises to win some chips. I don't really remember many details. I was in the zone, and playing good poker, and I was able to chip up to probably 13-14k at one point. The blinds advanced from 100/200/25 to 200/400/50, and then to 400/800/100. I believe by then, I was down to about 8000, as I had tightened up to the loosening action and had lost a few blinds or folded when I missed a flop. During this period of time, Bones walked over to tell me that he had busted. A long while later, Ruff also came by.

From there on out, they hung by my table, watching me beat up on my competition. Again, I don't have any specific hands, but I was basically stealing pots with position bets, and acting fearlessly throughout. The big stack who got lucky early raised from middle-late position after a limper. I saw the opportunity for dough and when I saw 99 in the hole, my best hand for the entire tournament, I decided to push. I had barely over 10x the BB, if I'm not mistaken, and my play worked. He decidedly mucked and said, "I'm not strong enough for that bet. I didn't even have a pair." He actually had two overs and was big enough to call me, but I muscled him out of the hand. In fact, I won a lot of hands before the river because of laying pressure down. I was also smart enough to fold when it was raised back at me, or check it down when I faced resistance from a tough competitor. I think I had the hammer once, but I lost chips on it, sadly, and didn't even get to show.

We were right before dinner break, and when we'd return, we'd be playing 600/1200 with a 200 ante, so I decided that I was not going to wait an hour alone to play with such a small stack. Ruff and Bones had left, and Roose was long gone. In MP/LP, I had T6o. A mild-mannered older gentleman to my immediate right min-raised. I pushed all-in. It folded around to him and he grumbled before folding. The hand was so quick, we had time for one more. As the cards were dealt, the announcement was made that this was the last hand before the break, which would be extended from 1 hour to 90 minutes. I looked down to AKo, so I knew what to do. To my pleasure, the gentleman on my right min raised again. "Sorry," I said, as I pushed in my stack. It folded around to him and he hemmed and hawed again. He finally decided to call, and showed...AA! AA! "What's the wait for, man? You busting my chops?!" I joked as though I was angry, but everyone could see the smile on my face. I ran into the wrong hand, plain and simple. His timing and the hand before it made it an impeccable play by him. I wasn't going to get upset...until after the hand. I had him covered by 1100 chips and it was time for the 90 minute break.

90 minutes of waiting around solo, just to play 1100 chips with blinds of 600/1200 with 200 antes. WTF! I joked that I wasn't even going to come back, but I knew that I had to play my stack. Chip and a chair and all that jazz. I wandered around the casino in a dazed state. I called my compadres, but the only one with service was Randy. He was back at the hotel hanging around in the room. He offered to pick me up when I needed a ride. I considered taking the Harrahs-Showboat shuttle back, and ask Randy to drive me back to Harrahs for what would likely be one hand, but by the time I came up with this plan, it was too late. I grabbed an issue of Bluff from the poker room and went back to the ballroom. I turned on my iPod, grabbed a hotdog and a seat in the food section, and brooded. I was calm about my fate, but it still sucked. The worst part was waiting alone. I saw another table where a motley crew were chatting. They were probably all strangers who happened to strike up a conversation. I was all alone, hood up, music on, reading the terrible writing that passes for poker news.

The time crept, but eventually, I made my way back to my table. Some guys joked (with me) about how they thought I wasn't going to come back. I told them it was like I wasn't really here anyway. I was three off of the BB, so I decided to push or fold for the first hand, and then push with the second hand, no matter what. When the cards were dealt, I had received 77. Good enough. I pushed, but only got one caller, who isolated me with a raise. He had AT. The flop was T87, and I hit my set. By the river, we were all cheering for my comeback. I had amassed over 5k from that single pot. In two more hands, though, I was busted. I was in the BB with K5h with only one limper, so I pushed. He had AJ and called. We both missed the board, and he won.

I got up and shook some hands. I went out around 178th or so out of 840+ people. I beat 75% of the field, which was a small consolation. Rather than call Randy, I hopped in the shuttle to the Showboat. As I sat there, I began to realize how lonely an existence poker can be. Even with everyone at the table, by the end of the night, you are all alone. I let that moment of sadness wash over me, as I accepted the fact that being a professional poker player would probably break my soul.

The trip back was smooth, and when I returned to our room, Randy and Roose were hanging around. We played some Rummy 500 while we waited for room service to bring us our dinner. I split the nachos and a cheese burger with Roose. The food did a lot of good for the ole constitution.

It was still "early", and I was feeling the need for some more action. I eventually convinced Roose to go for another round of cash games. He had just finished a 5 hour session while I played the WSOP, but the action and light mood in the poker room at Showboat tempted him to return.

I sat at a 1/2 table with a Jamie Gold lookalike that was goofing around at the table and yucking it up with bad play, even if he thought he was good. Across from me were two guys who were barely 21. They played loose-aggressive, but also liked to talk between hands. As I listened to them, they basically announced how they played. I loved having them so close. On the other side of the table, a really tight tough guy was playing a sharp game. Next to him was a black guy who would later freak out. I loved it. A table of tilters, talkers, and tighties. I knew where I stood with everyone.

Coming up...more on that cash game table, and coersion leading to success.

posted by Jordan @ 8:31 PM, ,

Satellites in Flight (AC Trip Report Pt. 2)

I sat down to the left of Bones and Ruff, and settled in for a turbo single table satellite. Randy was about three seats to my left.

The structures in single table tournaments in casinos play more like turbos online, if not ultra turbos. The blind period was 15 minutes, but if we got through a full orbit in 15 minutes we were moving at a helluva pace. One player was getting exceedingly lucky, while another was playing very loose aggressive. I felt confident that I could play my table well, but I knew that I'd have to get great cards or win a coin toss or two to get the necessary chips to play some real poker.

I stole the blinds from about 6 players (limpers) when I raised to 250 from the BB with 93o. I considered seeing a flop, but it was still early and all of the limpers didn't look like they could stand up to a raise. I had TT, and the very lucky player who had become a huge chip leader raised from the CO to 200 from 50. I decided to push all in, since I was confident that I was ahead, if only to a weighted coin toss, and to my dismay, the big stack called. He showed AQh, and the Ace on the flop sealed my fate. I was fine with the loss, though, since I decided to go out early (in 9th or 8th) rather than get blinded out around 3rd or 4th.

I got up from the table and went to the poker room desk. They directed me to the main casino cage to sign up for the $300+40 WSOP Circuit event. When I got to the window, there was only one person ahead of me. I paid the $340 and headed back to the poker room.

There, Ruff was already on the rail and Randy Hole wasn't far behind. It was down to three and Bones was still in it, the short stack compared to the lucky chipleader and some nondescript guy.

Ruff and I commiserated on the action. He thought that Bones was not aggressive enough. I was more interested in watching the chipleader to find out whether he was good or just lucky. I was also practicing my reads. I called his hands a couple of times, sometimes just a few cards away (KQ instead of KJ when he paired his K, or TT instead of JJ as overpairs to the board). The nondescript player busted, and it was just Bones and the chipleader. The truth was that the chipleader sucked. He was an actor, which I knew from an early hand. There was a flop of 777 and when a player in early position pushed (a manic loose player), chipleader hemmed and hawed and called stating, "If you have the 7, I've just got to see it." No one else called, and at showdown, the chipleader showed K7. He made his statement to try to get other callers. All he did, though, was tell me that he was going to be acting a whole lot. Hence, when it got to be heads up, any confidence on his part were weak cards. Any timidness was strength.

I guess Bones saw it too, or perhaps the chipleader's cards had gone cold, because when it was all said and done, Bones was able to take down the tournament. While the game was finishing, I went back to the poker desk to get info on the $300+40 rules and structure. As I waited, a guy walked up behind me. He asked if I was signing up for the next satellite. I turned and said, "No" but when I saw the guy, I realized it was the recently defeated chipleader. "Tough game there, man." I tried to sound sympathetic. "I'm surprised you didn't chop at some point." "How could we chop," he asked. "One of you just offer the other guy cash..." I realized that he was damning himself as I said this. I saw no need to post-game tilt the guy, so I softened my statement, "Yeah, but I guess neither of you had an opportunity to bring it up." I lied. Ruff and I spent a good 5 minutes during their heads-up battle trying to figure out why no deal was made. I'm glad we kept out of it.

After the game, the four of us were hungry. At the table, I rarely feel hunger, but if it comes, its usually a sign that I haven't eaten in an inappropriately long time. In this case, as I waited for Ruff on the long line that had formed at the WSOP Circuit cashier (and also for Bones, who had won the tournament and a seat in the event, but still had to wait for Harrah's incompetent staff and system, which took 20+ minutes to sign him up for the event), I realized that I hadn't eaten for 8+ hours. It was 10:30 and it felt like 8:15 to me. Time has no meaning to me in AC.

We went to the diner-like establishment in Harrah's. Every hotel in AC has one, and it was just what we needed. I ordered the official casino meal of High On Poker, a grilled cheese, but the bacon tasted a bit odd. It was seasoned in some weird way. Whatever the case, it did the job, and I got a laugh as Ruff knew that my meal was an official HoP staple.

Ruff and Bones were heading back to the Trop, and Randy and I headed back to Harrah's. We hung out in the room, waiting for Roose's arrival. We played some Rummy 500, and I lost $5 to Randy's absurd Rummy 500 skills. When Roose arrived, he convinced me to play some table games. We headed downstairs for some Pai Gow. Roose was card dead and started to steam. I won $3.50 and decided to walk while still up. We headed upstairs, cognizant of the fact that the real fun started the next day with the WSOP Circuit event. Fortunately, Roose had stopped at Harrah's before he came to the hotel and had signed up. It was a good thing, too, because Saturday morning was going to be a madhouse at Harrah's.

Coming up...our arrival at Harrah's, our exit from Harrah's, and killing time in AC.

posted by Jordan @ 1:18 PM, ,

Table Game Primer (AC Trip Report Pt. 1)

What a weekend! The good news, I won over $700 at poker. The bad news, I lost over $200 at table games (drat that craps!). The good news, I chopped the top four spots in a tournament. The bad news, it wasn't the WSOP Circuit event, where I busted out at approximately 179th out of ~830 players.

That's the long and short of it. Now, get comfortable, because I took notes. Let's get this trip report started:

I barely slept Thursday night. I had taken the day off from work and spent my time doing tedious errands, all the while not giving the trip a thought. It was like it wasn't real, or maybe that I couldn't believe that the trip was here. I really look forward to my trips to AC. The ability to play live poker in a safe, clean, accommodating environment is a pure joy to me. More importantly, AC poker rooms have something that the NYC clubs will never have: the casual player.

The casual player is not a donkey. He is not a fish or an Internet player on his first trip to a brick and mortar casino. The casual player is the guy who just likes to play. He thinks he's good, and he might be, but can often go the other way too.

The casual player is drinking and having fun. He's playing a game and wants to win. He might tilt, but what's it to you? He might sometimes suck out, but we are playing poker, after all.

I'll tell you what he won't do, though. He won't act like a douschebag. He won't be looking to exploit your weaknesses. He won't be trying to tilt you. He won't be an overaggressive dickwad. But, hell, if he is all those things, that's cool, cause you can beat him anyway.

Okay, weird start for a trip report, I'll admit. I'm on little sleep and lots of poker, so bear with me. My point is, in a casino, these casual players are scattered amongst the sharks, internet pros, wannabes, angle shooters, and addicts. It's a regular pot potpourri of degeneracy, and the casual player is the one who legitimizes the whole parade.

Love that Poker! So, let's get to this one more time.

Randy Hole picked me up at about 1pm on Friday morning. The ride was quick and smooth, and we arrived in AC around 3pm. Our hotel, as per usual, was the Showboat. It fit the HighOnPoker criteria for picking an AC hotel: it was the cheapest casino/hotel on the boardwalk for that weekend. Really, all of the hotels are interchangeable. I love the Showboat, and I know it like the back of my glands, but if I can save $10 by staying at Bally's, then hell, as long as it has a casino on the strip, it'll have everything I need.

All casinos in AC have poker rooms or are close enough to a casino with a poker room. It's no Vegas, folks. You can walk from one hotel/casino to the next in no time. From one end of the Boardwalk to the other, the walk might take 20 min. Perhaps 30 tops. And if its not unbelievably cold, its a nice walk on the Boardwalk. Realistically speaking, though, you'll only have to go for a 5 minute walk to find poker, and more often than not, you can go there via interconnected casinos.

So, Showboat was the cheapest and most willing, and in my book, that's a winner for a hotel room or a date! That killed 'em in Scarsdale! One thing I have learned is that Showboat's suites are inaccessible on weekends, even with the greatest shmoozing, so we settled into our normal room. And then we went to gamble!

First stop, Pai Gow. Randy was actually on his way from NYC to South Carolina to visit a friend. When he heard about Roose's and my plan to play the WSOP event, he figured it'd be a good time and a good waypoint to his final destination. When Roose found out his holiday party was Friday night forcing him to drive to AC at 10pm, Randy and I headed out at 2.

Pai Gow, how do I love thee?! The sad truth is, I like games of chance that are entirely out of my control. There, I said it. Pai Gow is one of those games. Even though you receive cards and must set them in two poker hands, the cards really play themselves. So, while it feels like a game where I get to apply poker knowledge, it really is just a game of fate doled out by a series of cards that practically arrange themselves. It takes about 2 minutes to learn all of the nuances of the game, but it sorta feels like poker and most hands are pushes, so money lasts.

I sat down and bought in for $500. I planned on playing $100, but I wanted to up my visibility and my newfound cash bankroll allowed me access to the largest stack of $100s I've ever had available on a casino floor. After 30+ minutes, I found myself up .25. Yes, a quarter. Seeing that I had my fun, I stood up and tossed my profit to the dealer. The two players at the table asked me to stay, but I wasn't gambling with their money so off I went.

The next stop was craps. I decided to back Randy 50% to make it easier for him to play. He wasn't there for the gambling, but we were having fun, and his action was as good as mine in craps. Long story short, I dropped $240 when it was all said and done. Terrible rolls by Randy and I didn't help.

With lighter wallets and the evening approaching, Randy and I decided to head over to Harrah's, the location of the Circuit event. Dave Ruff and Timmy Bones were also in AC for the event, and we arranged to loosely meet them at Harrah's. When we arrived, Randy and I signed up for a $50 ($38+12) single table satellite to the $300+40 Circuit event. We were numbers 3 and 4, and it didn't look like there were people clamoring for these single table satellites, so we settled into the only open game, 2/4 limit, to kill time. Within 2 orbits, I was called over for 1-5 spread Seven Card Stud. I left Randy for more senile competition.

I was the youngest player at the Stud table by 20 years, easily. I chatted it up lightly with my partners, and started off tight. When I saw that most hands were checked down or faced $1 bets, I played more hands. I don't remember any with particularity, but I do remember that I was the only one betting out $5 at a pop. As I played, I saw Ruff and Bones stroll in. They put themselves on the same satellite list, which cut both ways. On one hand, one of us was likely to win if we were 4 out of 10 players. On the other hand, only one of us could win. While we waited for the tourney to be called, Bones and Ruff hung out at my stud table, railbirding me. It's honestly something I don't think I can do, wait around for poker patiently. But it was fun having the company, and by the time they called the tournament, I was down $21 but having a great time.

Next up...the Single Table Satellite, Roose's arrival, and more pokery goodness.

posted by Jordan @ 1:10 AM, ,

Mixed Game Evangelical

I had a nice conversation yesterday on the girlie chat with DP from Wired Pairs. A couple of days ago, I jokingly posted a fake quote which I attributed to him. It was a reaction to a comment he made to an earlier post in which he suggested that I was a mixed game snob. Our conversation cleared the air. I don't begrudge anyone from playing NLHE and only NLHE. It doesn't affect me, and part of my newly-identified libertarian beliefs (I always had these beliefs, but only recently realized their association with libertarian ideals), is to let people do whatever they want as long as they are not hurting someone else.

There are a lot of good reasons to specialize in NLHE cash games, NLHE tournaments, or a combination of the two. The greatest one that comes to mind is that if you concentrate on one game, you may stand a better chance to excel at that game. It's the ole Jack of all trades, Master of none argument. If you play too many games, you may become adequate across the board, but you are unlikely to Master any particular one.

NLHE is also probably the ideal game to specialize in, if you wish to specialize. Obviously, its the most popular game around, so you'll have more opportunities to play it over any other game. Then there is the hordes of unwashed masses piling into B&M card rooms and sitting in their BVDs playing online. Donkeys galore, I tell ya, so why not concentrate on NLHE games.

And this doesn't even mention the fact that some players may be naturally better suited toward NLHE. This, actually, segues nicely into the true point of this post. Sure, I've gone over the various reasons why playing a variety of games are good. But what about the player who only plays NLHE who actually is better suited to play LHE, or Omaha, or one of any number of games.

I believe it was Howard Lederer who said that it was good to play a variety of games because that was how he learned that he was a naturally better LHE player than NLHE. The same could possibly be true for any number of players.

Ironically, me and my loose self tend to do better at the limit games. In a tournament, I'd rather be playing NL. It's just part and parcel to the nature of tournaments. You want people to get knocked out, you are dealing with a finite amount of chips, and your losses are capped to the buy-in. But in cash games (online, specifically), I find myself sometimes too loose, relying on pressure and my ability to rebuy.

Not so with limit games. There, my too loose blow-ups don't result in an all-in. It results in a loss of a few extra big bets. Similarly, I actually seem to excel specifically at Razz, because it requires board reading skills and the application of pressure, but not necessarily the extent of board reading skills and memorization required for Stud High, since flushes and straights don't matter in Razz.

Similarly, my ability to read the boards and sequence cards has made LO8 a favorite and profitable game of mine. I believe it has a lot of parallels with my Razz strengths, except for the greater emphasis on reading outs and draws.

So, yeah, I'm not saying YOU should HAVE TO play games other than NLHE. But I was pontificating on how players' personalities and natural abilities could offer them greater success with different types of games. Stud and Stud H/L aid players who have a great memory and ability to remember which cards are already dealt out (even after a player folds and covers his board). Razz aids players who are good at playing boards and applying pressure. Omaha aids those good at draws, calculating outs, and calculating redraws. Limit games in general, with LHE included, aids players who emphasize good starting hands, and protects those who have momentary all-in blow-ups or those who can't handle the variance of losing an entire buy-in in one hand.

Am I proselytizing again? I don't mean to. It's just that I'm playing a lot more non-Hold'em games right now, and, well, I write about what I'm doing. Case in point, I lost $150 at 5/10 Razz last night and placed 22 (16 paid) out of 160+ in a Razz MTT (where I bumped into Mowenumdown before busting...I hope he moneyed). As I type, I'm also playing 1/2 Duece-to-Seven Triple Draw on Stars. I love the non-hold'em games, mostly for their new car smell. It's just fresh and new for me, and it appeals a bit more to my gambling nature, since I'm not used to these games like I am with the hold'em games.

In Hold'em news, I've got the $300 WSOP Circuit event on Saturday. My nervousness is slowly rising, and I'm trying to keep things in perspective. The hardest part is remembering that the level of competition may actually be WORSE than my usual lower stakes, rather than better. I base this off of advice from a couple of people, but also based on the fact that the WSOP name probably attracts every bar-poker-champion wannabe around, and I'm playing the lowest buy-in, $300+40, where all of these donkeys will probably be playing.

Any advice you have out there would be greatly appreciated. Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:17 PM, ,

The Mixed Game Virus

"If you only play NLHE, you are a loser and don't deserve to play poker." -DP*

I came to a realization last night as I lay in bed thinking about my Hoy win. That same night, SoxLover was at PokerStars playing 2-7 Triple Draw with none other than Greg Raymer himself. I also recalled hearing that once PokerStars added 5 Card Draw and the Lowball Draw games, their HORSE games started to slow down in traffic. Ah, the virus that is mixed games (a term I incorrectly use for anything non-hold'em) is spreading, and ironically, we have illegal online poker to blame for it.

Remember earlier this year when there was all that controversy about the WSOP eliminating most of the Non-Hold'em games from their roster. It made financial sense, really. The explosion of players came from watching NLHE on TV, and those players then learned the game for themselves online. To teach America a new game via a 60 second explanation at the beginning of a two hour broadcast would be a real gamble, so televising an Omaha tournament or a Stud Hi/Lo tournament was not the highest priority for television executives pining for ratings.

How would we, the people of more than Hold'em, overcome this television-enforced exile of our non-Hold'em games? It looked like we could not. We could hear professionals complain, but we couldn't find a way to get the masses to change their NLHE tastes. It seemed like NLHE was going to engulf the poker world, and leave nothing in its wake.

And then came the anti-online poker legislation, and suddenly online poker havens like Party Poker closed their doors. The players moved to Fulltilt, where suddenly the mixed games were more prominent. They also went to Stars, which was just finishing up their final touches on the addition of HORSE and HOSE cash games. Not long after, Stars added 5 Card Draw, and it's evil goatee-sporting twin Lowball Draw (including 2-7 and A-5).

What does this mean? Why, it means that online poker may actually save the non-hold'em games! Casinos won't do it. They have limited space and only spread the games that are in demand, which are all too often NLHE or LHE. TV won't do it. They have limited time and need to bring in an audience, so don't expect anything other than the formulaic NLHE tournaments that WSOP and the WPT made oh so popular.

But online, the possibilities are limitless. Stars doesn't lose by adding 2-7 Triple Draw. Full Tilt doesn't pay an extra dealer to add the Razz tables. Instead, they do just the opposite. If it costs x amount of dollars to program these non-hold'em games, that money is finite. But the amount that a site can bring in due to players who are attracted to the variety of games, well, that is limitless, hypothetically. Similarly, when Hold'em players who are just along for the fad get bored with hold'em (not all do, of course, but it happens), those players may get hooked on the other non-hold'em games. In the end, the amount it costs these poker rooms is likely minimal compared to the intangible benefits of attracting different players and retaining old ones.

So, great, FT is now teaching the masses about Razz. Now what? Well, FT does throw some televised tournaments, as does PokerStars, so the next step is for the non-hold'em games to build a player base online, enough to convince someone from these online poker rooms that the audience would find a television program that was non-hold'em poker. It's still a while in the making, but if these sites can garner enough attention for these non-hold'em games, it is hopefully only a matter of time. And instead of the WSOP hooking players on hold'em and, consequently, feeding these online poker rooms, the online poker rooms may just be building the audience that the WSOP needs to make televised PLO8 a real success.

In other news, you can tell that I'm absolutely giddy about winning the Hoy. It's been a great three days for me financially, and its giving me all the confidence I need going into the WSOP Circuit this weekend. I've hit my stride, and I plan on charging forward to victory. Until then, I'll be grinding away at the office and pining for the weekend.

Until next time, make mine poker!

* Statement not actually attributable to DP.

posted by Jordan @ 9:29 AM, ,