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Jordan Plays Nice

I sat across the table and stared at the black guy in the 3s. I was at the Extra Big Bet Club in NYC, an underground club with three times the table as my usual underground club, Salami, and a crowd that ranged from pimply-faced spoiled rich kids to craggly old foreigners.

I held 84c, hardly a strong hand, but something about my opponent tempted me too much. He was the epitome of a Jordan-primed mark. Just like in the dating world, in the poker world, your style of choice likely has a perfect match, a player where everything just fits right. Unlike the dating world, when this perfect match comes up, you are the only one who ends up happy. Your mate will end up broke.

As I said, I had 84c, and I was in BB when the black guy decided to raise to $10. One player called before it folded around to me (with one player to my left yet to act), and I considered all of the information available to me. My opponent was a squat but strong looking guy, dressed in clean cut, if not snazzy, clothes. He wore a cap and blacked out sunglasses that looked like a combination of the huge sunglasses that geriatrics wear over their prescription glasses and something out of an 80s sci-fi flick. When our table first started, another player at the table asked him if he was joining us. At that time, he said no. He was at another table, trying to win his money back.

He screamed that he was tiltable. He also screamed over-aggression. With 84c, one of three things could happen: (1) I miss the flop, he bets out and I fold. (2) I hit the flop hard and get him to bet into me. (3) I hit the flop softly and then have to figure out what to do next. Or, I could just fold. When opportunity calls, you have to answer the door. I called.

A player after (1 or 2s) called as well, and the three of us saw a flop of 28T, rainbow. I checked my middle pair, shitty kicker. The guy between me and my key opponent checked. And then my opponent, I'll call him Tough Guy (the image he was cultivating) bet $10. It was a small bet, and the pot was already $40+, so I thought for a moment before tossing two red birds ($5 chips) into the pot. The opponent before me had folded, as did the one after me. It was just me and Tough Guy, and the only hand I really feared was AT. His $10 bet meant one of two things. Either he had crap and was continuation betting (since the bet was so small, this was definitely a possibility) or he had a major hand and was trying to induce calls (opposite from his apparent playing style). The thing is, his style of play was not that far from mine, at times, so I could definitely see him making that play as a continuation bet with overcards. Specifically, AQ and AK seemed most likely.

The turn was a blank 5, and I checked rather quickly. My opponent paused for a moment and then went for his chips in a slow steady pace. The bet was $40.

Why $40? I mean, really?! If he was trying to keep me in the hand and extract more bets, why jump from $10 to $40. The more likely scenario was that he failed to push me off of a hand with his small bet, so he figured a big bet would do the trick. Classic. I'd make a similar move in some situations. What's that smell? It's bullshit, my friends. But $40 was a lot. At times like this, you can fold or you can follow your read. I tossed a bunch of chips into the pot. A call.

The river was another blank. Tricky tricky. My opponent fired a third shell, $50 or 60. It would leave me with less than $50 behind if I was wrong. But his betting pattern and image told a story of a guy too stubborn to back down from a pot. His last bet didn't exactly fit that story. It could've been a value bet. I watched him carefully.

After he threw out his bet, he went into tell-lockdown. As he retracted his hands after betting, his movement stuttered. His hands seemed to return to a fiddling position, and then suddenly changed direction and folded in front of him. He held perfectly still. His face was blank.

If I can impart any wisdom to my readers, it is this: When someone who does not always stay still with a blank expression goes into tell-lockdown, he or she is likely bluffing. It's sorta like the person who gives too much details when lying. In both instances, the person is over-compensating for their shortcomings. With the lier, they give more details to look plausible, and with the bluffer, they over-tighten up their behavior because they fear giving off any tells. Over-compensation will kill you in either instance. In this one, it told me one thing: Tough Guy did not want a call.

"I call." I threw some chips in front of me with disdain. Over my headphones, I couldn't hear what he had to say, but he didn't look happy as he looked back at his cards. I took out the pug headphones and he repeated himself. "Do you have a pair?" I waited for him to table his cards. He did so slowly, "I don't have anything." He showed AKo. I laid down my hand, "8s?! Wow!," I said aloud with complete sincerity. The table was shocked by the hand. One guy said nice call. I replied, "Let me get back to you after my ball re-descends." The sole lady at the table cracked up. I apologized for my ludeness, but she was loving it.

Meanwhile, the Tough Guy steamed.

What a fucking time I had. SIF's game was canceled, but Chris, one of the SIF players and an all-around good guy, left me a comment about EBB Club. I hadn't hung out with Chris outside of the SIF game before, but he helped me get past the EBB security and we sat at the same table for the entire day. As usual, my stack went through all sorts of fluctuations. Chris' only went one way...up. He was playing a smart, tight game. This leads us to the last hand of the evening.

I limp in MP with 67s. One player calls in MP/LP and Chris checks in the BB. The flop is 589 with two diamonds. I flopped a straight.

Chris leads out for $10. I don't just want to win his money. Really, I like the guy, and I'd rather take the other guy's money, so I just call to keep the other guy in. The other guy calls too. The turn is another 5 and Chris checks. I immediately think that a full-house is possible, but I doubt that either player has it because of the soft action on the flop. I bet $20 or so. The other player folds, but Chris calls. The river is an Ace, and I'm hoping he has A9 or even AK, although AK did not seem likely at the time. Surprisingly, Chris bets out $25. I want to get as much as possible out of this hand. I think about min-raising, but instead bet $40. He calls pretty quickly. He then tables 95o. He caught the Full House on the turn with the BB special.

Before that hand, I was maybe up or down $15 at most. After than hand, I was down more than $100. But the guys came around to take $5 time charge, and we had already discussed leaving. We packed up our chips and cashed out. If I had to lose to someone, I'm glad it was a friendly face and not the Tough Guy.

I love me some live poker. The entire time I played, I felt confident that if I stayed longer I would eventually beat the table. I was beating it steadily, but took some losses that are inevitable in my loose style. When we walked to the subway, I complimented Chris on his play and he returned the compliment. I was proud that I walked away loser, not because I like losing, but because it didn't sting. If this is just a portion of one long session, then at least I played well. That's all you can hope for in poker.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 6:40 PM,


At 7:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post... I'm slowly starting to understand why you much prefer live poker.

On the other hand, I have a feeling that my style of play is different as such that online and live are more similar. Then again, maybe not... but that's what it seems like -- different for each player, of course.


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