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A Win of Sorts

After a recent post, I decided not to share any more information regarding the location of the underground clubs I frequent in New York City. However, when I mentioned that I was returning to Salami last night, I received an email from Lastman Chris, dubbed herein because he was the last man that I gave the underground club information to before I decided on my moratrium. I had told Lastman about Salami, but he had yet to go, largely because it is difficult to get into any of these clubs without someone who has already been there.

As per usual, I raced home after work and donned my poker uniform. I try not to be superstitious, and its not as though I think the Superman t-shirt is lucky, but I win consistently when I'm wearing it, and so, I fell into old patterns. I loaded up the poker backpack, hit the subway and made a stop at PeanutButter & Co. for the lunchbox special. I took it to go, as Lastman was already near the club.

I'm really not the most social person. I can, at times, be an extrovert, to the point where I may seem like the most extroverted person out there, but most of the time, I'm glad to be a loner. When I met Lastman, though, I could tell fairly quickly that we would get along. He looked a bit like Soxlover, no offense to Lastman. We chatted for a bit as I gave him the rundown on the game. (1) $50+10 buy in; (2) 15 minute blinds, but it usually doesn't feel like a fast structure, probably because of the slowly escalating blinds (25/50, 50/100, 75/150, 100/200, 150/300, etc.) and the insanely loose action, which helps build stacks on par with the blinds; (3) for the first two levels it is a re-register tournament, i.e., you can rebuy for $50+10 when you are felted, unless there is an alternate waiting, at which point you go to the back of the alternate list; (4) the game never gets off on time; and (5) the players are mostly maniacs. All good advice, as I am sure any Salami regulars will attest.

We entered the room after I gave the international sign for He's with Me, a pointing motion between myself and Lastman while looking up at the security camera. When I entered, they still asked, "He's with you." I guess the place isn't very international, regardless of the many accents.

We grabbed some seats at a table. There were maybe 6-7 players waiting around, but as per usual, the game was going to start late. I chatted lightly with Harris, a dentist who I had met previously at the game. It amazed me that the game never got started on time, but Harris' explanation was dead-on. Players knew they could buy in late, so they were in no rush to be early. Truthfully, I would bet that the other reason is a conundrum faced by many home games. As soon as a player arrives early and sees that the game doesn't kick off until 15 minutes after the scheduled start time, they decide (subconsciously or not) that they will show up 15 minutes late the next time. Why? Because no one wants to wait around, and people are slow and lazy. Of course, the natural problem is that the player shows up 15 minutes late, and suddenly the really slow players start arriving 30 minutes late. Suddenly, the 7:30 game is having trouble starting by 8pm (and in a home game setting that can even go later to 8:30, in my experiences).

I am a fairly timely person. In most instances, I arrive places early, largely because I believe that if you make a commitment to be somewhere, you should be there...on time. When it comes to poker, there is a second and third reason why I'm always on time or early. The second reason is my insane desire to play, leading me to leave early because I just can't friggin' wait to get my hands on some chips and cards. The third is the subtle (or not so subtle) tilt I feel when I buy-in late to a tournament. Even if I just missed two hands, I can't help but feel like I have to catch up.

The game kicked off around 7:45 with one full table of 10 players. An alternate showed up, and after a while two more appeared and we were split to two tables. At first, I stayed tight. The game was as loose as ever, with a player in the first hand raising 3x the BB preflop UTG with 45d. He was called by 5 or more people and then bet at the 567 flop. He had one callers. He slowed down on the turn, and then checked the river when the other player, a loose, long-haired S&M porn producer/director/actor who has passed his prime, seemed prime to re-raise or call any bets. The two showed down their cards. Of course, the loose UTG player had 45d for a pair of 5s. The Ghost of Hardcore Pornography Past had A6o. It was going to be one of those nights.

Another player, wearing one of those floppy safari-type hats (or is it more Gilligan) with the brim that goes all the way around, was playing super loose. He was and is a calling station, and I finally decided to make my play when I was in position with 25h. I decide to raise it and he is the only caller in the BB. The flop is 28J and I decide to bet out after he checks. He calls. On the turn, another J, I push all-in, hoping to utilize my tight image (trust me, at this table, I'm tight), and represent three of a kind, but he called with T8, for a higher single pair. I miss the river and feel like a fool when I have to show my cards. "RE-REGISTER!"

At that point, Lastman had been moved to the second table. We had enough alternates for two tables of 7 (or maybe 6 and 7), but soon, the rebuy period ended and I was moved, due to a bust-out, to the second table, in the 2s. I had about 1300-1500 left out of my 2000 rebuy. I was really donking it up at the other table, trying to take advantage of the looseness but failing miserably because I was card dead. My luck did not change in my new location. I continued to fold away until I was dealt JJ, my second-best hand of the night. I raised to 450, which was 3x the BB. I had about 2300 at this point, leaving me with 1950 behind. Nick, a very smart and selectively aggressive player on my left was the chip leader or close to it, and called my bet. Another player with a big stack called from one of the blinds. The flop came down an UGLY AK8. The blind checked, and I considered checking as well. I decided, however, to represent the Ace, since I knew that the blind didn't have it (from his check and demeanor) and Nick was playing against my small stack and is aggressive, so could have called with anything. I bet out 900, showing strength, but leaving me with some money behind. Nick pushed all-in. The blind folded. I thought for a minute, let out a sign through my nose and told Nick to keep my chips warm for me. I folded and he showed his Ace-8, two pair. I was desperately short.

The table was loose, but not as loose as the other table I was at. I folded for as long as I could, but found myself in the 150 BB with 850 or so chips. Nick limped in as did some other player in MP and the blind from the other hand, a young Israeli guy. The SB completed. I thought for a moment and decided to push all-in. A decent amount of my stack was already in the pot, there were a decent amount of money in the pot thanks to the limpers, and no one showed strength, so maybe they'd all fold. They didn't I was called by Nick and the Israeli. I needed to get lucky. My cards were 23o. (Notably, I'd prefer this play with 23o than with A6o, largely because if I'm called by a big ace, I still have two live cards.)

The flop was J52, and I thought for a moment that I had a chance. Both players checked. The turn was a Queen. At this point, the Israeli bet. Nick thought for a moment and folded. I thought I was screwed. We flipped out cards and sure enough, he had Q9o, for top pair. I made a not so silent prayer and the river pealed off: 2. I tripled up and was back in decent shape.

In another hand, I had about 1650, and I did something I usually condemn. I pushed all-in with 27o on a stone cold bluff preflop after a limper or two. I was called in two places by Nick and a shorter stack across the table who had limped UTG. The EP limper had KK and Nick had A8. The flop had a 2 and the rest were blanks. I thought I was done, but after the shortstack limper took his main pot, there was still almost 1150 in the side pot. I got lucky with the hammer and had only lost 500 on the hand.

In the next hand, I was dealt AJo. I don't remember the action too well, but when it got to me, it was not raised up. I pushed all-in with my stack. I believe it was Nick who called with an inferior hand (A9, maybe?). I doubled up again when we both failed to hit the board.

Suddenly, I had a healthy stack again. From there, the rest was a blur. We were at the final table and my seat and position relative to the aforementioned players really didn't change. We got down to 6 or so and Lastman Chris busted out after a decent run stuck as (from what I could see) a card-dead shortstack who doubled up when he needed it. Down to 5, I was actually in 3rd place, but the twin towers of Nick and the Israeli made my stack pale in comparison. I had about 7-8k, but since there were 23 buy-ins and 46k in chips, I had a lot of work to do. I should mention that I amassed those chips by well-timed all-ins on the high blinds and antes. I eventually lost a chunk due to some necessary caution against Nick, but I was still technically in 3rd place. 5th place busted after I lost a bit of my stack, and then it was just me, Nick, the Israeli, and Moishe, one of the managers of the club. Moishe and I first met at my 2nd visit to the club. It was his first. We made it to the final two and he offered me a deal where he would get slightly more than half because he had me outchipped. At that time, I strong armed him and told him I'd gladly play for it if it wasn't 50/50. He buckled. Since then, he had become a staple at the club and then part of the staff. He's a bit abrasive, and definitely a gambler at heart. He also has a decent head for the game.

I tried to wait him out, and eventually got my wish. He went out when his better pair was one-outtered on the river by pocket 7s (a 7 was folded preflop by another player). Down to three, we were all in the money. Third only paid $110, and I was in the game for $120, so I simply stated, "If you want to buy me out, I'll take $180. Otherwise, we'll play it." Truth be told, I was confident I could rebound, but the $180 would give me a buy-in-sized profit. The players scoffed and Moishe, who should have kept his mouth shut, seemed incredulous at the offer. "Why would we take that?" the Israeli said, following up Moishe's comments. "Hey man, I'm just telling you my price. If you two want to make a deal and buy me out, there it is. If not, let's do this." I then tripled up on the first hand. HAHAHA! Fools.

I warned them while we were discussing deals that I was dangerous on a short stack. I always make this comment tongue-in-cheek, but the truth is, I AM dangerous on a short stack. I don't fear pushing and my timing is often very good. Nick was getting into the folding groove. I actually wanted to induce more action, so when he folded his BB with KT face up, I showed my all-in push from the SB with K9. This set up led me to the hand of the night. But first...

Israeli and Nick were checking down most hands. Fine with me. I needed to double up some more to be a true force. I was in the BB with about 9k at this point and blinds/antes of 500/1000/100. Nick folded and Israeli called. I looked down at 94o and considered pushing to take the blinds and antes. I decided the timing wasn't right. Something about the Israeli's limp seemed odd, since my obvious move would then be to push. The flop didn't hit me, and Israeli led out for 1k. Very odd indeed. I considered raising him, but then folded. He showed AA, and I complimented him on a well-set trap. It wasn't actually too bad of a move, and had I had anything decent I may have been caught. It wasn't the best play either, though, but I wanted to encourage his predictable action.

On the very next hand, I was dealt my best hand of the night, QQ. The Israeli folded and I decided to raise to 3000. The logical play for Nick, then would be to push or fold. If he had crap, he'd likely fold, but he would push all-in if he had an Ace, a decent King, any pair, and perhaps even worse cards under the belief that my weaker bet was out of fear.

He pushed. I called. He had 77 vs. my QQ. And he flopped a 7. I was out in 3rd with $110, $10 less than I bought in for.

I shook the two remaining players' hands as they worked out their chop. I collected my money, made some small talk and then headed out into the cool night. There is always a moment when I leave Salami when I notice that I still have my sunglasses on, even though it is well past dark out. I removed them once outside, and chatted with Lastman Chris. He agreed that the action was silly loose, but he seemed to enjoy himself. Even if I never tell another person about Salami, I suppose I can rest well knowing that I helped some people out before the moratorium, and Salami will always have enough fishy players to make it worthwhile to keep it to myself.

Winning yet losing money is an odd thing. I still consider it the fourth cash in the Salami tournament in a row. I still consider it a win, of sorts, and blame the terrible payout structure more than anything. Really, 3rd place should have been $120, but it is what it is. I played very well at the end, and almost took 2nd place in chips if that QQ held up. I started off shakey, but used that early crappy play to actually improve my game instead of falling into tilt oblivion. I got lucky myself, with 23o and 27o, so losing with QQ v. 77 didn't hurt too bad.

I might be going back tonight. Back to back Salami, baby! Wifey Kim is meeting a friend for dinner and drinks to celebrate her birthday, so I might as well get my gamble on. Tomorrow is a bust. I will be attending a wake with wifey Kim for one of her friend's family members, so poker naturally takes a back seat. Then we are off to drinks with our friends to celebrate wifey Kim's birthday properly.

I love the smell of poker chips in the morning. It smells like...victory.

Until next time, make mine poker!

Once again, it was a relatively card dead game for me. While I did get JJ and QQ, then next highest pocket pair I received was 88, followed by 55. I was dealt ATo and AJ, but nothing higher. I did not get KQ. Yet, I still made the money. And for that, I am proud.

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posted by Jordan @ 9:36 AM,


At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can corroborate the details of this post. And I also can say that the Hammer was in full effect (HOP must have shown it at least 3 or 4 times). I was card dead (T-T, 5-5, and A-Jo each once and that was it). It was interesting that the underdog won about 80% of the all-ins throughout the tournament. I might try and go one night next week - although I'm not sure if I will be admitted on my own just yet.

-Lastman Chris

At 11:45 AM, Blogger TwoDiamondPhillips said...

Just wanted to let you know what types of players are out there. I play cards in different venues and what irks me the most is when the same person or type of person loses and then proceeds to get very agitated because he feels that there was no way that they should have lost the tournament. His rationale is that "I play in more money tournies than anyone here and had more money in front of me than any of you". As if my $30 tournaments are jokes compared to his playing at Foxwoods 4 times a year. I play in $160 Bronx hush hush games all the time. I just dont feel the need to justify myself. It just makes it so much feun to knock them out. I like the player who is confident and realizes that this is a great but frustrating(at times) game and he is a very good sport (at all times). I have played with you HOP, you are poker gentlemen and play with distinguishingly proper etiquette.


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