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Weekend Poker

I can't help but feel like I'm a good poker player. The results this year aren't bad. I'm up above $2k for the year so far in live poker alone. Add it online poker and its slightly different, but not different enough to matter. The thing is, I feel 100% confident that I can win every single time I sit for a live poker game, especially the cash games.

The trend continued with two more wins this weekend, the first at a law school friend's homegame and the second at NiceLook. For the homegame, I didn't really put much effort into note-taking for obvious reasons. Namely, I didn't want to look like a tool and I didn't want to out the blog. The homegame was a uncompetitive environment. There were just six of us and we met in a private social club in the city. The location was really not my cup of tea, and frankly, before this game, I didn't know such things existed.

The Club is a private home previously owned by a very famous person from the past (think 1800s). You probably won't even know him by name, but in the effort to keep semi-anonymous, I'll leave out any further details. It is a multi-story building, and we met in the downstairs Grill. I was first to arrive, with just the host, John, and his wife, Nina, waiting around. I made small talk, and tried to get comfortable in the environment. Even though the grill is probably the most informal part of the club, I was glad I swapped my usual superhero emblem apparel for a tasteful navy polo shirt and jeans.

Soon after, Chuck showed up with his girlfriend, Kelly, and a female co-worked of John's arrived. Her name was Daina or Diana or Danielle. I am HORRIBLE with names. The real problem is really one of confidence. Even after I hear a name or recall it, I'll second-guess myself. If your name is Kristin or Christian or Christina or something similar, I'll apologize to you right now. Even if I remember that you are "Kristin", I'll avoid using it, because I have no confidence in my recall. I used to think I had a terrible memory, but within the last month, someone set me right. I have terrible long-term memory, if anything, and a great working memory. Otherwise, I'd be horrible at poker.

The game was played in the grill on a long wooden table. No cash was exchanged until the end, and we all started with $20 in chips. We played an orbit of .25/.50 NLHE. I made the first raise of the night on the first hand with AJ and got one call. The flop was JT7, and I bet out. I was called by Chuck. The turn was a blank and I bet out, but Chuck pushed all-in. I had about $15 left, so I folded face-up. He showed T7, for flopped two pair.

I kept the game moving and I was my charming self. After the holdem round, we played a round of Stud hi/lo regular. There was no qualifier, and no declare, which made for an interesting game. The host usually played declare, but they had to open it up because all of the girls were newbies and fairly clueless.

There wasn't much else going on. It was a fun time and everyone was friendly. The game ended at about 10:30, which was fine to me. I wanted to go home and see wifey Kim. Also, lately I've been preferring short sessions, for whatever its worth. I cashed out $35 richer and headed home.

Sunday, wifey Kim had another conference, this time in Manhattan. I started my day with some laundry, and then lazily headed over to the club. When I arrived, there was a list, but after about 5 minutes, I was called to a 1/2 NL table. I saw some familiar faces, including a very sharp Asian guy, a very loose aggressive angry card-chucking Asian, and Carbon Monoxide. CM is a female player who is a silent killer at the table. There was also a sleepy Russian player with about 2500 in front of him who looked strikingly like mob boss John Abruzzi from Prison Break. To his left and right were players with 1000 and 1500. Looking around, it was clear this was a deepstacked table, so I tried to keep quiet. I was down about $50 when there was commotion over an empty seat. A new player sat and was playing his first hand, while another player complained that he asked to be moved to the table, and that was his seat. I saw an opening, as I was having no fun in the 20 minutes I sat at the table. After I folded, I turned to the guy and said, "You are at the other 1/2 table?" "Yeah." "I'll switch with you." I racked up and he gladly accepted as he thanked me. Sucker! I was going to a table with much smaller stacks and clearly crappier players.

The new table was a wet dream. A gay guy named Fred was on my left and he wouldn't shut up. He was constantly joking around or making funny (ha ha funny, not queer funny) comments. It was somewhat annoying, but I decided to play along, preferring to make friends with the player to my left. He also started showing me his cards after I folded, so being friends had other advantages as well.

For about 10 or 15 minutes, I basically limped and folded. Finally, I was dealt 55, and channeled my inner Fuel. UTG, I limped, and a young Asian player in MP/LP raised to $20 total, a seemingly large bet if you didn't know such things were fairly common in the NYC underground 1/2 games. He got one caller from the button and I called as well, hoping to hit my set. The flop was AK5, with two clubs. This is a near perfect flop; it loses points for being suited. Regardless, I checked, knowing full well that a bet was coming from any Ace out there. The same Young Asian called. He is a bit of a beanstalk-looking kid with a bulbous head and round mouth. He really looks like an idiot, and my prior experience with him in the NYC clubs were in line with that theory. He bet $20 and the button called. I called. The turn was a Queen. I wasn't worried about JT considering the action, so I checked and expected another bet. He bet out $50 and the button folded. I considered my options. I had to re-raise here. A min-raise could possibly work, but I didn't have that much in front of me. I decided to push all-in for $161 more. It felt like an overbet for value, and I was hoping he was going to call with top pair. I stared him down like I was going to kill him. I wanted to look like I was bluffing and I thought the staredown was a good reverse-tell. As much as I think the kid is a tool, he's played enough, so I hoped he knew the basic strong-means-weak tell. He called and the river was a Queen. I tabled my full house and he showed AK. Just a standard cooler-hand on his part, but I'd like to think that I could've folded if I were him.

I made my only significant mistake of the day a few hands later. After some limpers, I raised to $15 with 88 on the button. The SB, Fred, and UTG called. The flop was all unders, 257. It checked to me and I bet $20. Fred called and UTG folded. The turn was a 4. Fred checked and I bet $20 again, hoping to just keep him passive in the hand. I wasn't 100% confident after his call and I didn't want to throw money at this pot. He raised me $50 on top, and I thought for a moment. I rationalized that he was probably making a play since I didn't increase my bet from the flop to the turn (usually a sign of weakness). I called. The river was a blank. He bet $75 and it seemed like a very high bet in reference to the table (and not the pot). Since it was so uncharacteristic, I called and he showed A3o, for a turned straight. I should've known better.

A little while later, I limped with KxQh UTG. There were about 4 limpers when the SB raises to $20. I decided to call, as did four or so other people. The flop was 983, all hearts. I had the third nut flush draw, but that wasn't saying much. The SB pushed all-in for his remaining $43. Considering the amount of money in the pot, I was considering my options. I thought of isolating, but decided against it, since I may be facing a flopped flush behind me. Instead, I feigned like I was contemplating a raise and decided just to call. I wanted to look strong to push everyone else out. I knew I had two overs to the board, and inside straight draw and a decent flush draw against one person, and I didn't peg the all-in player as having much. Everyone folded. The turn was a blank and the river was an offsuit Queen. We showed our cards and my KQo beat AxKh. In other words, I got lucky, but I am glad I put myself in a position to get lucky.

I made another foolish mistake by playing Q9s and getting into a trouble hand. I believe I limped or maybe called a small bet ($10 max, or maybe just a $5 straddle) and three players saw the flop, including the beanpole Asian kid. The TTx flop was useless and we all checked. The turn was a Queen, and I thought my pair was good. I checked again, as did beanpole, and the button made a $15 or $20 bet. I called, and beanpole did too. The river was a blank and I bet out $25 or so. Beanpole pushed all-in for probably $35 more, and I felt committed to call. He showed QT for a turned fullhouse, and I was the huckleberry in that hand. I shouldn't have played Q9s in the first place.

After a while, I was dealt JJ in early position. I raised to $12, since $20 would likely win me the $3 blinds only. I got called in a couple of spots. The flop was QJ4 with two clubs. With middle set, I bet out $25, part of my bet the set strategy. A smart looking caucasian player in a green fleece raises to $60 total. When it got back to me, I considered my options. I wasn't sure what he had, but I was sure he was strong. I was considering raising to $150 to ruin his pot odds for the flush draw, but ultimately decided to push all-in for $301 total. I was confident that I was currently ahead, and I also thought I could reel him in for a big payout. He considered for a while, and I began hamming it up, even joking that "Let me pretend like I'm on TV" as I stood up, paced and made faces and moans indicating that I was stressed. It was a big goof and I was having fun, but ultimately he folded 44 face up. Fred started to critique his play publicly, announcing that he folded the best hand. I mucked and kept quiet until much later, when I told the guy the truth. He seemed like a smart guy and this too fell into the "make friends" strategy to longterm poker success. In hindsight, I suppose I should've bet less, but I did take down a $100+ pot.

My next big hand was TT in the SB. There were two limpers before a long-haired pretty boy who had just sat down with about $100 raised to $12 on the button. I hadn't seen him play yet, but his look and stack led me to believe he was fishy. I raised to $25, hoping to isolate, and was successful. The flop was A67, and I was upset to see that he probably hit his Ace. I checked and he checked. I knew enough to know that he didn't have the Ace. The turn was another Ace, and I was feeling much better about my TT. I bet out $25 and he called with a slight bit of hesitation. The river was a blank and I pushed all-in. He only had about $40-60 left, so I felt comfortable with laying the pressure on him. He folded and I was vindicated.

In another hand, I was dealt QQ, and faced a straddle for $5. I raised to $20, expecting to narrow the field, and got two callers, including a black guy who had just sat down an orbit earlier and was playing horribly. He was overaggressive, making plays with A7o and the like, and I had him set as my mark. Fred was complaining about him, referring to him as the Big Bettor, but I kept repeating, "That's my bread and butter over there." The flop was KQ2. I flopped a set again. I bet out $40, expecting the Big Bettor to raise like he seemed to do in every other hand, but he folded as did the other player. I wondered if betting the set was smart, but I still stand by the play.

In the last significant hand I played, I got my piece of the Big Bettor. I had AKo in MP and the player who folded the set of fours raised to $15 in EP. I just called, not wanting to throw money into the pot with two high cards. I was also readying myself to leave within the next 15 minutes. Fred called and then Big Bettor raised to $60 total from the button. The Set Folder folded. He was all too proud of his folds, something I've exhibited in the past. When it got to me, I considered my options. I could call, and then fear Fred's action, since I knew Fred had it in for the Big Bettor. I could fold and give up the $15, but the Big Bettor's range was wide. I could raise. Ultimately, I decided to raise. The Big Bettor was not on his third buy-in (or more) for $200, having busted just one hand prior. He was definitely tilting and acting incredulous that his A7 lost to A8! I knew he was playing those weak Aces, and his $60 raise seemed like someone trying desperately to win their money back as soon as possible. I raised to $300 total, to make sure that I covered Big Bettor's stack and scared off Fred. Fred flashed me his 88 and folded. Not surprisingly, Big Bettor called. The flop was all low cards. The turn was an Ace. The river was a King. I had hit two pair and tabled my cards. He mucked, obviously upset, and justified his play to the players who were chiding him (intentionally to get him to tilt, from my vantage point). He admitted to having AT. My read was dead on.

I left the NiceLook with $230 more than I came with after some decent swings. I had reloaded $100 when I dipped below $200 at one point ($300 max), but otherwise, was never down more than $102 or so. Just another successful day at the club.

If anything, this trip was a lesson in table selection. I identified that the first table was too aggressive and deepstacked for my style and made the switch. Remember folks, if you can control the conditions under which you play, you can often control your success.

This week is less pokery than usual. I've got no plans so far, but wifey Kim is going to another conference on Sunday and I'm toying with the idea of a home game. But then again, why have a home game when the club is so profitable.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 7:40 PM,


At 12:19 AM, Blogger MHG said...

On the turned straight A-3 hand... I think I've been playing the same mind games with myself lately. I use seemingly rational thought to influence my bad decisions. My thought process will go something like:

"Hmm.. raised, I'm probably beat."
"But.. maybe he just viewed my small raise as weakness, and is trying to bully me. If I saw a small raise, I'd probably see it as weakness. I'm going to call."
"No, I shouldn't call--that doesn't get me anywhere, I'm going to raise him back."

Then I see his cards and see that he had a set on the flop, and how he didn't do anything flashy, just played his hand.

I've got to get my reading skills down (would this person really make this type of play?) before Vegas!

Congrats on the nice weekend!


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