Check It: DADI |


Hurgón de Puero Rico

"If you want to play poker, you can."

I thought for a moment. It sounded like a trap. A few days ago, wifey Kim and I discovered the poker room at the Intercontinental Hotel, mere feet from our hotel. No games were running and the prime time tournament, which started nightly at 8pm was definitely not a possibility, but cash games ran after the tournaments, and it was a tempting thought. But I wasn't in Puerto Rico for poker, I was in Puerto Rico for wifey Kim.

"Is this a trap?" I figured I'd lay it all out on the line. "I didn't say anything about poker this entire trip and you've brought it up four times tonight." It sure felt like a trap. Wifey Kim usually never gives me guff about poker, but this WAS our vacation, and I did my best to curb my urges.

"No. I know you like to play and I'm really tired. I'm just going to fall asleep soon." It was true, too. Wifey Kim was never a late night partier, and once hours in the sun are factored in, even the night owls among us can feel sleepy. We had a full day too, spending tons of time in the pool, and walking a long way on the beach before we stopped at a nearby hotel with lounge, where we met Burke, a California lawyer and (get this) online gambling writer for The Reporter, a UK publication. We'll be heading to Salami on Monday for those interested in joining.

After stopping at the rooftop lounge for drinks, we headed back to our hotel for dinner and more drinks. I felt pretty worn out too, but poker was sounding better and better. I began to gather up my things. "Okay, honey, but I'll be back soon." I called Intercontinental to check if a cash game was going. "5/10, sir." "Limit?" "Yes." And I was on my way.

I noticed on my walk over that I was moving at casino-speed, a heightened walk that I naturally switched to in the vicinity of gambling. Once inside, I made my way quickly to the poker room, lest security realize that I was dressed in raggedy shorts and a t-shirt. I grabbed a seat, put $200 on the table, and received my chips.

Interestingly, the table was full of old white men, well Puerto Rican men, but really, white and Puerto Rican are for the most part the same thing. However, there was one younger guy the token Asian. He spoke Spanish, but he was also the only player to sometimes turn to me and speak English. For the most part, I couldn't follow the constant yammering at the table, but I was more interested in the universal things, like bet sizes and players' reactions.

All I can say is that these fuckers played the loosest brand of poker I have seen outside of a 2/4 Limit No Fold'em Game. There was one player particularly on my left who would call everything, unless, of course, he was raising.

I decided to play tight after limping a couple of hands and inevitably folding. Finally, I got my first and only big hand, AA. I raised preflop to $10. I got about 5 callers. The flop was K75, rainbow, and felt confident to bet out $10. That's right. $10 on the flop. For some reason, it was perfectly acceptable to raise $10 at any time, including preflop. I would have raised to $15 preflop if I had realized this, but until that point, I only saw players raise to $10 preflop, and assumed that the $10 raise was not in effect until the flop.

Whatever the case, I raised to $10 and received about 4 callers. The turn was a Queen, and I bet out $10 again, receiving three callers. The river was a Jack, and I bet ten. The only caller was the loose guy on my left. I showed my AA and raked in the pot. He claimed to have AK, and I said in Spanish, "I needed another Ace to get more money." We both chuckled. It was largely a friendly game.

I continued to try to play tight, although I did limp with some god awful cards because of the implied odds. I knew I was going to be called down to the river. In MP, I played 56c for $5, along with probably 8 out of the 11 people (we started with 10, but another player was added to the only cash game going). The flop was 566, with two diamonds. A player in EP bet out $10, and there was one caller before I called. Two callers called after me. I was hoping for a diamond. The turn was an offsuit 2. The EP bettor bet out $10 again, and I flat called. I believe this was my error in the hand. Since everyone was raising, and I was probably facing at least one or two drawing hands, I should've raised here. Whatever the case, the two other players called and we saw an offsuit Ace on the river. The first player bet $10, and I raised to $20. Both players after me folded, and the bettor called. I showed my full house and took down the pot. In hindsight, I think the last bet was a moot point. If I flat call, I probably get at most one caller after me, since at least one of those players were on a missed draw. At least if I bet, I guarantee that the initial bettor will call (it was that type of table) and it was a possibility that someone else would call. Still, I missed a bet or two on the turn.

After that, I tried to play tight again. I limped in position on a few hands when there were multiple limpers, hoping to catch another monster. I even put on my iPod to give me something to do while I waited for better cards. I noticed that some Americans were joining the table and the loose Puerto Ricans were slowly leaving. I also noticed that I wasn't having fun. Grinding at limit poker can really be a bore, and I missed wifey Kim. In a sense, its silly. I'd spent almost every hour with her for days while on vacation, but knowing that she was so near and I was not there made the grind all the more difficult. I finally waited for the BB to come around and then packed it up, less than 2 hours from my starting point with $75 profit. I wished the table buena suerte, which I hope means good luck and not good sweat, and then exited. And, yes, when I got back to the room, wifey Kim was sleeping. She's still sleeping now. How cute.

On Monday, I look forward to meeting up with Burke to head to the Salami tournament. I offered it to him on a whim and he thought it might make a good article for The Reporter. On Wednesday, I'm joining Robbie Hole to a new "homegame". I use quotation marks because it is run by a sorta boss of his, and they take a freaking rake. However, its a $40+10 tournament, so I might as well go and have fun. Besides, I always seem to excel at these types of homegames. Poker everywhere, people. Everywhere.

Until next time, make mine poker!

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:49 PM, ,

Top of the Mountain


We were in San Juan for adventure, and nothing sounded more adventurous than a trip into the wild, untamed rainforest. Ah, who are we kidding?

Wifey Kim and I were NOT looking for adventure. We were looking to see what there was to be seen and we were told by more than one person that we should check out the only rainforest on US soil (for those not in the know, Puerto Rico is a US territory). We had already rented a car to go to Old San Juan, and we had made the trip to the locals’ beach, Liquillo, so the next logical step was to head to the rainforest. When we initially rented the car, the small Mazda only had about 1/4 of a tank of gas. We had already been all across the Northern part of the island, so with only 1/8 of a tank left, I figured the small fuel-efficient vehicle would make it easily to the heart of the rainforest and back. The map, and wifey Kim, our navigator for the day, confirmed our suspicions, and we began our trek up Rte. 191 with visions of rain and forests dancing through our heads.

Like many islands, Puerto Rico has large elevation changes. The road to the rainforest began uphill and continued uphill steadily for all of 20 minutes before I looked down at our gas gage. Oddly, we were now significantly less than 1/8 full, but I figured it was due to the uphill angle of the vehicle. Still, I began to get nervous until we passed the main tourist center for the rainforest. We weren’t in the mood to watch a video on rainforestry, so we opted to continue driving deeper and higher, when suddenly I noticed the yellow light turn on next to the gas gage. It was the warning light, and we were near empty with maybe 1.5 to 2 lines left on the gage. Here, I began getting really nervous. We were a good 10 minutes from the tourist center.

“Um, honey…we might have a problem…”
“What do you mean?"
“Well, we are sorta out of gas. I mean, not out of gas, but VERY close. The gas light is on.”
She was silent. “We’re going to be fine.” She seemed confident, but I was worried. It was getting late and the light was diminishing as the foliage got thicker.
“Do you think we should turn back?”
She looked at the map. “We are already more than halfway through the forest. We’ll end up on the main road soon and we’ll get gas then.” We passed by a couple of buildings, mostly souvenir shops or places to buy a drink. On our right we passed a waterfall with a little sign denoting it Coco Falls.
“Does Coco Falls ring a bell? Do you see it on the map?”
She looked. “Nope. We are more than half way. We’ll probably be getting out of the forest at any moment.”
I glanced at the map. “Um, honey, the road looks longer than our trip out to Liquillo beach. There’s no way we can be halfway already.” Meanwhile, the yellow light was still on, our A/C was off (luckily we had the windows open and had a good breeze) and I had shut off the one American rock station in hopes of saving gas.

I saw a wildlife lookout point and parked along with the four other cars already parked. I thought about whether restarting the car would waste too much gas (better to leave it idling?) and decided that we were fucked either way, so it’d be better to be able to lock the car as we got our bearings.

We stepped out of the car and surveyed the area. It was actually quite beautiful and we took some long shots of the lush valleys below and walked around the stone tower erected at the lookout point. I asked to see the map.
“Um, honey…you read the map wrong.”
“This is Coco Falls right here.” I pointed to the clearly printed Coco Falls sign on the map, about 1/4 of the way on Rte. 191. We were probably about 1/3 of the way through the rain forest, mostly uphill. If we kept going forward, I was sure we would end up sleeping with the parrots and surviving on tree bark while we waited for help to arrive.

“Shit!” I proclaimed. We have to go back.” My brain processed everything. “At least its downhill."

We made our way to the car as a minivan put on its reverse lights. “Hurry up, honey!” She didn’t understand my urgency. “I want to get ahead of these guys so they’ll see us if we break down.” They were too fast, but we ended up right behind them, enough to start honking desperately if the ole Mazda gave up on us.

We made our way to the car as a minivan put on its reverse lights. “Hurry up, honey!” She didn’t understand my urgency. “I want to get ahead of these guys so they’ll see us if we break down.” They were too fast, but we ended up right behind them, enough to start honking desperately if the ole Mazda gave up on us.By now, I had spent the last 20+ minutes on edge. I was enjoying the view and the time with wifey Kim, but the idea of being stranded in a rainforest on a road with lots of blind turns in the middle of the night did not appeal to me. We began our descent down the mountain as I resolved to use as little gas pedal as necessary.

And the truth is, it worked. I rolled for 99% of the trip downhill, at times, riding the break mostly because of the steep decline. In fact, a car did end up pulling out of the parking lot behind us, but within a few minutes, we had lost them because I was trying to keep the downhill momentum going, in case we got to any flat areas or, worse, inclines. Wifey Kim was nauseous by the time we were halfway down, but I was having fun, making sharp turns at seemingly breakneck speeds in my impersonation of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. We saw a few areas of inclines and flat road, and I lightly road the gas pedal, the entire way watching the gas gage, which had lowered below the last bar on the gage. I expected that even at the E, I had a good few miles in the tank, but I was definitely nervous.

By the time we got back to civilization, I was thanking god for our good fortune. We pulled off of the road and found a local gas station, filled with Puerto Ricans from the not-so-rico area of the island. The guy next to me was adding oil to his leaking car, probably enough to get him home and little else more, considering his car’s death rattle. The woman ahead of me pulled out of the spot after pumping all of $2 of gas into her children-filled car. I went to the cashier and prepaid $10, trying my best to make understandable sentences with my normally decent skills, but suddenly stammering Spanish. She eventually got the hint and took the money. It gave us almost 1/2 of a tank. We hit the road and headed back to our hotel, taking our time now that we had gas to spare.

Thanks for reading, folks. I know it isn’t poker, but it’s a memory I wanted to keep and this blog is the best way to memorialize it. When I return from Puerto Rico, I look forward to getting back into the swing of poker, but…

Until then, make mine vacation!

posted by Jordan @ 4:00 PM, ,

Poker Rican

I'm in beautiful sunny Puerto Rico this week and wifey Kim and I decided to bring the laptop to keep in touch with the world and get more info on what to do here. So far, everything has been fantastic. This afternoon as we completed our walk around the local neighborhood, we stopped at the Intercontinental Hotel to check out their casino. Lo and behold, there in front of my very eyes was a sign advertising poker. Alas, the room was empty on a weekday afternoon and the nightly tournaments start at 8pm, prime wifey Kim time. As I told her, "I'm here for you, not for poker," but I don't think either of us will be surprised if I end up playing there at some point or another. If nothing else, I'll go late night to see if there are any cash games going following the tournaments (which apparently bring 70-100 players, on only 4 tables, with most players waiting as alternates, while the other two tables are reserved for cash games!). Weird!

On a separate note, do any of you intelligent people know how I can put a link on my main page but not have it appear on any of the archived pages? Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and to thank you, I'll be sending you a brand-spanking new copy of Anthony Holden's "Bigger Deal" a fine book that I have almost finished. Your copy is a different copy than the one I read, because mine has been waterlogged by reading in the pool.

That's all for now. If I play some poker, I'll probably blog about it here, but otherwise, I don't expect to post much for the remainder of the week.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 5:15 PM, ,

SIFilous Outbreak

"Well, it's Jordan raising and [I'm in position; I want to see the flop; I could use a draw; he's a loose donkey], so I'll call."

That was the table's mantra during my return to the Ship It Fish homegame yesterday. Every sentence after my bets/raises were met with, "Well, it's Jordan and [insert random other reason here], so I'll call." The fact that it was me seemed to be the first factor in analyzing a hand, and then whatever came next was a side thought. All I knows is, I left up $160 from a low of -$250 or so, so I must be doing something right.

Bradley, the host at the SIF game, likes to play an eclectic mix of poker, chosen by players as they arrive. I had gotten Matty Ebs an invite several months ago, and after that game, he was added to the email list. He was joining for this session as well, so I arrived 30 minutes late as I waited for Ebs outside the subway station. Sadly, that meant that game selection was already completed, but the line-up was good enough for my purposes.

2-7 Triple Draw (4/8 Limit)
Limit Omaha 8 or Better, aka Hi/Lo (1/1 Pot Limit)
Badugi (4/8 L)
Double-Board Hold'em (1/1 PL)
Stud 8 or Better (4/8 L)
Crazy Pineapple High Only (1/1 PL)

Sadly, my NL or PL 5-card draw was nowhere to be seen, but the games were varied enough to keep me interested.

Time is short before my vacation tomorrow, so I won't be giving you the complete play-by-play. I'm also somewhat hesitant to discuss why I won yesterday, mostly because I do not want to expose my strategy to my competition, but alas, I don't play there that often and the way I played was specifically tailored to benefit from my image. Let's back up a bit though.

I am not sure how other players use table image, but to me, it is of paramount importance when playing with cognizant players. At Bradley's game, I was constantly cited as an example of hyper-looseness, and after a while, I was getting annoyed. In one instance, a player folded to my bet on the river in a limit game of Badugi. I had a good hand, but Bradley chimed in and said that he would have made that call, "against Jordan." A part of me was seriously irked. In all of my times at SIF's game (less than 6, I think), I've won. Why, then, were people acting as though I was a donkey?!

And then I took a breath, and I relaxed. The best thing a player can do for me is announce their read on my table image. If you say, "you are playing tight" I'll use that against you by making some large bluffs. (And trust me, in some games, that is what people say about my play). If you say, "you are playing loose" or "you are getting lucky" I'll use that too. So, rather than get upset, I resolved to use that table image and ride it to the top.

The truth is, Bradley's general read on my play was right. At his game, I play an odd variety of loose poker. However, it is not as loose as it may appear.

The key rules for my loose action is as follows:

1) In early hands for the day, mix it up a bit, getting into lots of hands for as cheap as possible.
2) Play tight in Limit games, unless I'm in the BB.
3) In pot limit and NL games, play every pot preflop if its cheap enough.
4) Have fun.

That's just a quick rundown, but I'll go through each of those rules in detail.

1) In early hands for the day, mix it up a bit, getting into lots of hands for as cheap as possible. In this way, I build a reputation. Nowadays, this only means playing 2 of the first 5 hands. Thanks to my reputation, its all I need to reassure the players that I am, in fact, the same ole loose Jordan.

2) Play tight in Limit games, unless I'm in the BB. This one is a bit odd. For the most part, no one noticed that I was folding most limit hands. That is because they were so focused on when I'd call a bet from the BB and then draw 3 out of 4 cards in Badugi, or 3 out of 5 cards in Triple Draw. In fact, the act of calling a raise and then drawing 3 out of 4 cards in Badugi has been dubbed the Bajordi because it is such a blatantly amatuerish or gambling move done early and often by yours truly.

There is a good mathematical reason for this too. Preflop, as the BB, I already have $4 in the pot. If one player raises to $8 and everyone folds to me, I have to call $4 into a $14 pot (assuming the SB folded, leaving the $8 bet, $2 SB, and my $4 BB). That's not too bad odds, especially in drawing games. After the draw, I can get away from the hand, or I can check-call and get another draw for $4 into a $22 pot. By the bet following the second draw, things are different. I have a better understanding of where I am in comparison to my opponent, and the new question is not whether I can call $8 into a $30 pot, but rather, whether I'll be willing to call the bet and the next bet for $16 total, just to win this $30 pot. [I should thank Matty Ebs for helping me work out this logic. It was how I was playing for the most part, but during our trainride home, he stated it as I explained it here.]

Admittedly, the problem with this strategy is that I am seemingly throwing good money in with bad while playing out of position. Position, mind you, is even MORE important in draw games than Hold'em, so playing these hands are tricky propositions. However, when I did hit, I had the "It's just Jordan, so I'll call" working for me, allowing me to check-raise when the big bet ($8) was in play, making back a lot of the money I had lost with my earlier BB hands.

I should mention that I was generally tighter in the Stud 8 game than Badugi and Triple Draw because the draw was a key part of the aforementioned strategy.

3) In pot limit and NL games, play every pot preflop if its cheap enough. The games we played worked particularly well for this strategy. Specifically, PL Double-Board Hold'em was a freaking godsend. The game is played just like normal PL Hold'em, except two flops are dealt out simultaneous, as are two turns and two rivers. At showdown, the winner on each board gets 1/2 of the pot. If you have a hand that wins in both, you get the whole pot.

Double-Board Hold'em is a weird game. The strategy is definitely different, and since I was getting paid off, it made sense to play a lot of pots in this game. First off, you usually are seeing a flop for $1, or maybe $5 if someone raises pot. Then, as long as you hit one flop strong, you can essentially bet really high, hoping to push people off of the pot. If you have the nuts or near the nuts on one board, you can do this with absolute impunity. The worst-case scenario is that you split the pot, so you lose nothing. The best-case scenario is that you are called by a player playing the same board as you with a lesser hand, in which case, your Ace-high might be good to win the second board also.

Likewise, Crazy Pineapple was one of those games where I could see the flop for a cheap $1. If things looked good then, I'd start betting out, but otherwise, it was easy to fold.

PLO8 was another story, and I put that in a separate group. But I think most of my money was made in the other two PL/NL games.

There were a few hands that were the highlights of my night. I held AK8 at one point in Crazy Pineapple. At this point in the game, I was down $200+ due to some terrible PLO8 play by me. On more than one occassion, I played too passively, allowing my opponents, usually Ebs, to catch up and take the hand from me. Whatever the case, in Crazy Pineapple, I limp, get raised preflop and call along with maybe one other player. The flop came down K8X, with two hearts, giving me two-pair. I checked. Bradley, who had made the preflop raise, bet $15. Matty Ebs, the caller, called. I then raised pot, putting most, if not all, of my remaining chips into the pot. "Well, its Jordan, so...." Bradley thought for a moment and then called. Ebs, caught between us, decided to head for higher ground and folded. After the discard (in CP, you get three cards, playing the hand like Hold'em, but after the flop, you discard one and continuing playing with your two remaining cards) Bradley held A4h for a flush draw against my K8 two pair. By the river, I had doubled up and was back to a workable stack.

Another interesting hand happened later during Double-Board Hold'em. Bradley and I had been discussing whether pairs were good hands in DBHE. In general, I like suited connectors because of the many draw possibilities, but I maintained that pairs were great too because often your opponent is only focusing on one board, so a pocket pair will usually win the other board. Since its a pocket pair, you don't need to figure out which board your opponent has hit. All you need to know is that he didn't hit both. Bradley, on the other hand, was skeptical about the value of pairs. This hand summed it up for me (although, admittedly, the situation would be a lot different if I had a baby pair).

After not getting nor expecting AA all day, I was dealt AA in DBHE. I was ecstatic. Preflop, I raised pot to $5 and got a slew of callers. ("It's Jordan, so...."). The flops were Queen-high with rags and 10-high with rags. I remembered that there wasn't too much overlap, which was good for me. I think I checked it, Matty Ebs bet $15 and I called. I wanted to build the pot some more before I made my move since it was a PL game. The turns came down, a rag for the Q-high flop and a Queen for the ten-high flop. I checked and Matty Ebs bet out $35. I raised $70 on top of his $35, happy with the size of the pot. At that point, Matty went into think-mode and began working out the hand as he muttered to himself. He asked me how much I had behind, $102, for $172 if he wanted to push me all-in. I was running through the possibilities in my head to determine if I liked my situation. I started talking aloud, "Let's see...Do you have QT for two pair on the second board and top pair? Maybe QK, QJ?" I was actually concerned that he had me beat on one of the boards, and I would've been happy with a fold. He took his time, working out the hand before he folded KQ. He made the right play, a play that most players at the game would not make because, "its Jordan betting and I have top pair on both boards with second kicker", but Matty knows me better than that. I showed the AA and explained my thinking as to why pocket pairs are awesome in DBHE. I was also glad to take down the pot, added to my stack with relative ease. "It's Easy with Aces".TM (I'll see if I can get Matty's version of this hand for later. I may have gotten some bet sizing or order of bets mixed up).

Of course, I also played J5h in another hand, scooping the pot when the flop gave me a Jack on one board and two 5s on another. What was I doing playing J5h? For $1, I was speculating, and I got paid off, so I had that going for me too.

4) Have fun. Homegames are meant to have fun. The $160 profit was great, but it wouldn't have been as great if I didn't enjoy my time at the game. This almost goes without saying. The side benefit is that when you are yucking it up at the table, hopefully no one is paying too close attention to when your play changes gears.

I have to add that I think Bradley picked up a tell or two from me. Specifically, there was a hand where he was clearly staring at me trying to get information. I turned to him and started chatting him up, admitting that I had chosen not to worry about giving off tells. "I could tighten up and act all serious, but I've decided not to worry about tells in this hand." It was clearly a bit of humor mixed with a semi-reverse mind-fuck, but it didn't work as he eventually folded. That's when I realized the stupidity of my actions. By talking, I was exhibiting confidence. I made a mental note that I will pay attention to my chattiness as a tell of strength in the future.

That's it for me today. I'm off to Puerto Rico tomorrow, so don't expect anything from me for the rest of the week.

Until next time, make mine poker.

posted by Jordan @ 10:51 AM, ,

Weekend Pre-Cap

Hey folks. I've got an interesting few days ahead of me predicated by this horrible week at work, which saw me running from pillar to post and back again trying to get everything in order before I head to Puerto Rico on Tuesday. To make matters worse, a coworker left the firm, leaving me with two of his cases, both of which need a lot of attention right now. Alas, a man's got to do what a man's got to do, but its been tough going.

Meanwhile, I have an action packed weekend planned. Saturday will see me getting up at the crack of dawnin', now I'm yawnin', six fifteen in the mornin', off to meet my homeys for some straight hustla gansta shit off at the golf course, trick. I plan on making an ass of myself on my first real course.

Sadly, I had to turn down Dave Ruff's AC trip this weekend. Ruff is heading down Saturday for the day, and while I would love to go, I committed to golf. The idea of backing out of golf has crossed my mind more than once, but I really enjoyed playing the first time and I want to get back out there. The little bit of exercise will probably be good for me too. I say "little bit" because we'll likely be driving golf carts...cause that's how we roll in the hood (always up to no good).

After, I expect an impromptu poker game to start up anyway, considering my degenerate friends. Even better, the next day, I'll be heading the Ship It Fish homegame, which I'm going to dub Revenge of the SIF, if only because I can. It'll be a shorthanded mixed game format. The last time I played there was way back in aught six. If nothing else, its a great opporunity to play some of the more obscure games, like 2-7 Triple Draw, Badugi, and Razz. Yep, I love those lowball games.

My brother recently pointed out how odd it is that wifey Kim and I seem to have so many separate plans. I call it a godsend. I love wifey Kim, and I enjoy spending time with her, but I'm not the type of guy to get married and end up in lockdown. I love things that wifey Kim would not enjoy (read: poker, golf, hanging out with the guys) and she does things that I wouldn't enjoy (read: beach/pool for hours at a time with friends, gabbing with her chick friends), so it makes perfect sense that we would give each other the freedom to enjoy our favorite past times. Mind you, that doesn't mean that we don't go to the beach or hang out with friends together. It just means that we can also do these things without each other and the other person isn't miffed. God bless wifey Kim. I don't think I mentioned it in hindsight, but after my Roulette Decimation of '07, she was the voice of reason on the phone. I was telling her how stupid I felt, and rather than chastise me as most females would when they heard of their hubby's losing a nice sum on a stupid game, she asked perplexed, "Isn't that the point of a bankroll?" By that, she meant that I wasn't losing "our" money, and a good 65% of me, the part that worried about wasting family funds, was relaxed. The other 35%, the part that worried about losing the ability to play poker with a bankroll, was still reeling, but I could handle 35%.

I finished another banner for a fellow poker blogger. I have two more in the works, but this guy had a good idea, and if you give me a workable idea and I can find the right pics to start with, its always a smoother process. Its up already so stop by KajaGugu's site and give him props for his new layout. I have a couple of more in the works, but they'll be a week+ coming, with my upcoming vacation.

Rumor has it, NiceLook Club was definitely raided. I haven't played their in weeks. My guess is that Salami has remained under the radar, thanks to its small size and 60-years-and-running existence. Keerazy!

Finally, time for another WSOP Prop Bet Recap. Here we go:

MeanHappyGuy- Brandon Schaefer and Carl Olson vs. Carlos Mortensen and Phil Ivey ($5/final table, $15/bracelet). This one has been a real snorer. I've got one final table with Phil Ivey, making me +$5.

Unimpressed- Phil Hellmuth and Joseph Hachem vs. Mortensen and James Van Alstyne ($1 final table, $5/bracelet). I've missed entirely on this one, but Phil has won a bracelet and made a final table, so I'm -$6. I also have Under 7592 entrants for the main event.

Bayne- Jeff Madsen and Tim West vs. Mortensen and Raymer ($5/final table, $10/bracelet). Raymer has hooked it up with two final tables, putting me +$10.

Matty Ebs- Ferguson and Negreanu vs. Mortensen and Raymer ($5/final table, $10/bracelet). In the most active bet, Feguson has one final table and Negreanu has two, while Raymer has two, putting me -$5. I also have Under 5840 entrants in the main event. I'm expecting to lose that bet.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:35 PM, ,

I Get Unlucky Too!

In the last two Mookies, I busted with AA v. 99 preflop (I was shortstacked, but not desperately shortstacked) and AK v. AQ when I had about 1200 and was able to trick my opponent into thinking I was on a resteal. No big deal in either case. When I lost, I turned off FT, turned off the computer and spent some time away from the comp. In the end, I just had to tell myself that shit happens, and its better to have it happen in the Mookie for $10+1 than in a live game that can cost hundreds of dollars. In fact, in both instances, I felt good, because I knew that I got my money in with the best of it.

In some ways, my ease when dealing with these beats makes me prouder than my recent stellar results. In a lot of ways I feel as though my recent $3k win was not a sign of improvement in my game, but rather merely a sign that my game is good. The tournament had 167 players, and a couple of years ago when I still played penny stakes at Golden Palace Poker I took 1st twice and 2nd once three months in a row in a $1000 guaranteed freeroll tournament with about 167 players each time (although, the difference between a freeroll and a token tournament isn't lost on me). I mention this only to point out that while I might not win $3k a lot, I feel confident in my ability to win tournaments with that range of players. Anything under 200 players feels right to me. Something like 1000 players is a lot less attractive though, largely because of the additional time and focus required. Finally, even though the $3k win was long in coming, its damn fine for a man who doesn't play large MTTs. If I play 3 large MTTs a week, its been a very busy week. I'm all the more likely to be playing SNGs and random cash games.

And that's it for today's rambling. Now go piss off, you 99 and AQ donkeys!

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:21 PM, ,

A Gift for Schaubs

As my part in keeping the Poker Blogosphere a pretty place, I created a banner for Schaubs after reading his old tagline about needing a banner. I like doing art but I lack direction, so a creative outlet like this can be a lot of fun for me. Anyway, just thought I'd post the pic here because I'm oh so damn proud of my photoshop skills. Before editing, the pic merely showed one ball on a tee. The 7, 10 and Ace are supposed to spell LOLA, since his site is I don't think its obvious, but the card designations on the balls are pretty cool.

If you'd like a banner, feel free to hit me up with an email or comment. All I ask is your patience and a little bit of guidance as to what you might like to incorporate.

posted by Jordan @ 5:43 PM, ,

Another Cash & You Decide #53

When it rains, it pours. I took third place out of 5o+ players in the Hoy last night, good for $200. Ultimately, I succumbed to awfukit poker, raising with A7, and then calling an all-in when CMitch raised back at me. I had enough chips to fold and duke it out, but it was 1:15am and I was aching for bed. Still, its no excuse. I really let myself down on that one.

Still, it was a great tournament for me, largely because like my recent MTT win, I played screwed down for most of the tournament. In fact, I made some fancy plays that are often too fancy. Luckily, the advanced play by bloggers makes these plays profitable if you can pull them off against the right players.

The beginning of the tournament was interesting. I must've dropped to under 2k (starting stacks of 3k) on at least three occassions, only to work myself back up to a full stack. Smokkee particularly seemed to notice my willingness to make plays, and I flatly replied in the chat box that it was due to the deep stacks. I might as well shake things up early if I'm confident I can recover.

I saved a bunch of hands, but lets lead off with one of the hands I'm just not sure about. For that reason, let's make this a You Decide.

You Decide #53

I'm at 3360, with blinds of 25/50, after dropping down near 1500 on two occassions already. I'm dealt my first premium hand of the night, KK. UTG+1, I raise to 150, 3x the BB, and get calls from BobRespert (1830 in chips), and the blinds, Columbo and CrazdGamer.
Full Tilt Poker Game #2705357454: Mondays at the Hoy (19464486), Table 6 - 25/50 - No

The flop is an ugly 2d5s4h. It checks to the BB, Crazd, who bets 500 into the 600 pot. I decided to min-raise to 1000, hoping to get a feel for where I am at. When it folds to Crazd, he pushes all-in for 3k. I fold.

I'm not so sure about my play here. The min-raise was designed to get information, and when he pushed, I assumed I had all the information I needed. That didn't stop me from taking my dear sweet time folding, all the while replaying the hand in my head. He was a blind getting good pot odds on a preflop call and I'm an action player, so I figured that he could be defending his blind preflop with anything, including cards that would result in a straight, two pair, or a set. Ultimately, I decided that my entire tournament life wasn't worth KK, so I folded. What do you think? (Interesting side note: CrazdGamer has a hand on his site that we played in last week's Mookie. Take a look, because after seeing that hand from his perspective, I may've been good here. But still, probably not).

So, that's the You Decide, but now its time for me to discuss some other great hands that really made this tournament an interesting one for me.

I was down to 1183 when blinds got to 50/100. In UTG+2 at an 8-handed table, I was dealt ATs. When it got to me, I raised 3x the BB to 300 total. This is clearly a gambling move, but the play was very tight, and I wanted to take a swing at some of those juicy blinds from an odd position. I only get one call, Columbo in the BB.

The flop is 964, rainbow. This is a semi-scary flop, mostly because he's a blind and might be defending, so I have no idea what he has. Any of those cards can be in his range. He checks, and I opt to check, hoping to turn a Ten or Ace, making me a definitive leader, at least in my estimation.

The turn was a harmless offsuit 2, and Columbo bets 300. I only have 883 total, so a push will only require a 583 call from Columbo. I decide to push and to my delight, he folds. Why push here? Part of it was working out what Columbo was likely doing, bluffing. After all, I clearly was abandoning the pot when I failed to continuation bet on the flop. His bet was small, but it seemed like he wanted it to appear small. I suppose its sorta 3rd level thinking. I'm thinking that he is thinking that I am thinking that he might have a piece and I have crap. If I was in his spot with pretty much any two cards, I'm raising on the turn, there. If he had it on the flop, though, I think he would've raised. It was possible that he was planning on check-raising the flop, and decided to just bet out the turn, but it didn't seem accurate. The final thing that made me push was the story I was telling. I'm very aggressive, so a preflop raise is common. However, the post-flop check is not. Once I raised all-in on the turn, I wanted to represent a flopped set, slowplaying for value. My re-raise, a mere 583, actually may appear more menacing than the dimunitive size actually is, since it seems like I could ONLY make that play if I had a hand worthy of an all-in. After all, who is folding to 583 in a 900 pot when there are no opportunities for me to bet anymore.

Interestingly, after he folded, I showed my cards. The reason was to hopefully get action later and also to tilt Columbo. I also wanted the table to know that I was playing for keeps. I like the show here, too, mostly because it lets me control my table image.

Sometimes, a hand like that will ignite my creative juices and I'll find myself trying something new in a couple of spots in a tournament.

But first, I needed some chips. I was moved to a new table, and ultimately lost the hand history, but I'll recreate it as best I can here. I was dealt TT in the BB when a player in LP raised preflop. The SB pushed all-in and I was left with a tough decision. By then, I had over 3000, the pusher had less than 2000, and the LP raiser had me covered. I thought long and hard about folding, but the push from the shortstack SB really intrigued me. Ultimately, I decided this was the perfect time to build a stack or go home, so I pushed all-in on top of the pusher. The LP raiser called, and we reached showdown, TT v. 99 (pusher) v. KQ (LP raiser). To my astonishment, by the river, I had quad Tens. With 8000+ in chips, I was finally able to shake things up and control the game.

I was moved tables and by the 100/200 level, I had amassed over 10,000 in chips, making me the table chipleader by a nice 1500 margin. UTG+1, I was dealt 8Td. I was on a rush, so I chose to limp with the suited gapper. Everyone folded, including the SB, and the BB, Astin (7k+), checked.

Astin is a very aggressive player, so I reached into my bag of tricks to pull out something special for him. The flop was KQ4 with two hearts and Astin bet out 500. I decided to min-raise to 1000 with air. He called. The turn was a 3s. Astin checked and essentially, that was the end of the hand. Astin, being uber aggressive, had checked, showing me that I was able to take the pot. I bet out 1500 into the 2400 pot and took it down. With other players, I wouldn't have even tried this play.

After this, I realized that there were some players that I could actually induce a bluff from...and then bluff the pot away from them after inducing the bluff. With blinds of 150/300 and a 25 ante, holding just short of 10k, I limped in EP with AJo. I hate AJo, because its often dominated, but I wasn't willing to throw it away, given my chipstack and the table conditions. Mike Maloney, who was playing very aggressively with just a few chips more than me, raised to 1200 total. When it folded to me, I chose to call, hoping to exploit Mike's aggressiveness later.

The flop was A96, all spades. Ostensibly, the Ace is nice, but the all spades (I held none) sucked. I checked, expecting Mike to...well, "Mike_Maloney bets 2,400", do that. I waited for a while, thinking the hand through. He wouldn't raise that much if he flopped the flush. He might have an Ace, but even then, wouldn't he fear my flush...if I check-raised him! So, that's what I did, raising to 6600 total. That was a large chunk of change, and he folded. He may've not even had an Ace, so by checking, I allow him to (a) give me important info and (b) bluff, since he's aggressive. His bet felt like a bluff, but mine certainly didn't. Who the hell would raise that much here? The answer, me, because I saw an opportunity. After he folded, he asked if I was on a draw. I didn't answer.

Those are my hands for today. I really enjoyed the idea of inducing a bluff to bluff a bluff. I'm not sure any of these hands truly qualify, but its something I'll be looking for in the future.

Little recaps, while we are here:

The Chess Challenge is going slow, mostly because certain players haven't sent me an email (highonpokr AT yahoo...with no E) or their buy-in $10 via FT (HighOnPoker, with an E). So, I've decided that once I return from Puerto Rico (I leave next Tuesday), we are starting this bitch up. Whoever has paid is in, whoever has not is out. Since its a round-robin format, I'm not too concerned about the amount of people. If you are interested, send me an email. If you just want to play for fun or want to get in a practice round, sign up at, and challenge HighOnPoker.

The WSOP Prop Bets continue to heat up, with my man, Phil Ivey, final event #26, good for another $5 from MeanHappyGuy. Unfortunately, Hellmuth is one seat away from the final table of Event #28, which would cost me $1 against Unimpressed. Whatever the case, I'm still up for the series.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:34 PM, ,

The Wall Street Game

I've probably played in a dozen homegame venues in the last year. I've lamented about the problems of homegames before, but it bears repeating. Jordan's top five pitfalls of homegames:

1. The players show up late, delaying the start time. This is probably the most nefarious, because it builds upon itself. A new game can have a 7pm start time and the last of the late players will arrive by 7:30. Next time, though, the earlier late players (the 7:15 guys) realize that the game doesn't start until 7:30, so they show up at 7:45. Now the 7:30 guy thinks the game doesn't start until 7:45, so they show up at 8. I am always 5 minutes early, largely because I'm an action junkie and I'm ready for poker. See the problem?

2. The game moves slow. Homegames often involve booze or other substances. Players get chatty or get up to grab a snack or hit the bathroom. In a casino, a dealer helps move the action along, signaling to each player that it is his or her turn, and automatically folding the hands of players who have left for a piss. In homegames, often the dealer is one of the distracted, and/or people are squeamish about auto-folding their buddy's cards because he is 10 feet away at the bar mixing a rum and coke.

3. The game dries up. Eventually, the routine of going to Joe Schmo's house every Tuesday becomes tedious. You are always playing against the same guys in the same environment. It might be great for 6 mos. or even a year, but eventually, players get bored or go broke and the game dries up. I've seen multiple homegames end this way.

4. Traveling in the City can be tough. I don't have a car because of the joys of NYC mass transit. However, any game out of the city requires a bit more creativity, and even worse, dependence on others. I can go to a Roose homegame every Wednesday, but I need to depend on one of the degenerates (a term of affection) to be sober enough to drive me to the train, which only leaves every hour. Then I need to catch a subway, making it a, expensive and long trip. This kills my weekday play.

5. The environment has to be comfortable and friendly. If I wanted to deal with combative tension, I'd head to a casino or club. If I wanted to sit on a crappy stool, I'd head to the bar. If I'm playing poker at a homegame, I want to be in a comfortable place, with good people. I want to play with decent chips and good cards. Sure, the throw-together game works with an old bent Bicycle deck and ripped up paper as chips if I'm playing for $5 per tournament on a whim, but if I'm traveling to a game, I want to be comfortable and I want the right supplies available.

And so, with the happy residue of the $3k win behind me and the remaining cold/allergy thing still running rampant through my system, I headed to the Wall Street Game this Friday to play with a new group of players in a new environment.

I was originally invited to the game by host Jamie at an I Had Outs tournament. I had heard Dawn mention the Wall Street game before, and the fact that Wall Street is three short blocks from my apartment was not lost on me at the time. When host Jamie attended an IHO tournament and mentioned an upcoming Wall Street Game, I politely interjected myself in the conversation: "If you ever need any more players, I live right by there!" Yes, I'm a whore for homegames, and the fact that Jamie was friendly with the IHO girls was a ringing endorsement. Fortunately for me, Jamie was very open to having me attend. We swapped email addresses and I got placed on his list.

Over the next four weeks, I probably got 12 Evites regarding a variety of games. Cash games, tournaments, whatever. Unfortunately, I was always busy. When I got the most recent Evite, a game for this past Friday, I forwarded it to wifey Kim along with this message, "Do you have plans Friday night?" This was my kind way of telling her to get plans, and since wifey Kim is the social butterfly of this odd couple, it took her all of 20 minutes before making plans to hang out with one of her friends uptown. Score!

I arrived at the game 5 minutes late, only because I had to return home to grab my forgotten cell phone. I brought my backpack with me, complete with a full sized tissue box, lest my sickness make me unpleasant to be around. I wore my convertible pants in case the apartment was hotter than expected (it was, and I switched to shorts once the game was underway).

Upon my arrival, I noted the only other person earlier than me, Alceste, a regular from the IHO crew. I sat on the couch and shot the shit with Alceste and Jamie. Jamie's apartment was actually fairly similar to my own. The Wall Street area used to be the center of business in NYC, and for that matter, the world. It still is, but after the events of September 11th, a lot of the businesses moved east to nearby Jersey City, where rent was cheaper and space was readily available. Empty office space, therefore, became abundant in the Wall Street/Financial District area, and the building owners found a way around this oversupplied market by converting former office buildings into coops and rental apartments. Some of the forerunners to the shift toward residential housing started converting buildings about eight years ago. These converted offices sport individually laid out apartments and beautifully high ceilings, realities that came about from the conversion of oddly spaced offices and the removal of dropped ceilings common in most offices. It also meant that all of these apartments were relatively new, including their fixtures. Even today, you can find some of the nicest apartments at the best prices in this area of NYC still thought of as an office-only environment.

This is all to say that he had a very nice apartment with high ceilings, new fixtures, and a good amount of space. After walking down the main hall, the apartment opened into the kitchen and living room. A long, professional-looking poker table was set up with stacks of personalized Wall Street Poker chips. The table had a leather rail, green felt (or was it red?) and a dealer's spot, complete with chip tray. When I commented on it later, Jamie mentioned that in hindsight it was a bad idea. Most often, there isn't a designated dealer, so someone is stuck sitting behind the tray. Alas, I still thought it was a nice touch.

The players arrived in bits and spurts over the next 20 minutes. I wasn't really watching the clock, so I'm not sure when it was that we all sat down. Earlier that day, Jamie was looking at just enough players to play, but by the evening, the johnny RSVP'ed latelies had called up, and he was looking at a complete 10 person table, NOT including our host. Amazingly, Jamie went through the stress and effort of throwing a homegame and was willing to forego playing for dealing. I was surprised and a bit amazed, but I just kept my mouth shut. After all, I had better things to worry about, namely relieving my opponents of their chips.

Before poker started, Johnny Darko (a player who I had met at Salami and again at the IHO games), Matt and me played Pai Gow against Jamie, playing as the house. He forewent the house's 5% commission on each winning hand, but after about 8 hands, I still was down $2. By then, everyone was there, so we sat down for the 1/2 NL, 100-200 buy-in homegame. For sure, it was higher than most homegames I play at, but with my recent 3k win and my comfort at the 1/2 level, I was ready and excited to play.

As the first hand was dealt, Alceste on my immediate left told me that one player couldn't fold a pocket pair. In that same hand, Darko tried pushing said player off of her pocket 5s, as he valiantly (and, in hindsight, foolishly) bet the whole way with his unimproved AK on a board ripe with overcards to 55. Alceste's read was 100% spot on, and I decided to pay close attention to the donators at the table.

One such player limped or min-raised preflop with AT, only to get about 4 other limpers before a player raised. When it got back to the AT player, he re-raised. I remembered thinking that it was a weird play, to be so passive and then re-raise so aggressively. When he ultimately showed his AT (I believe he won the hand) I decided he, too, would be a source of funds.

A little while later, after playing mostly tight and remaining about even at $200, I put in my first preflop raise with QQ. Another player, the 5s lady, had raised to $7 or maybe $10, so I wanted to thin the limping herd. One of those limpers was the AT player, and when the action got to him, he raised to $50 total. Everyone else folded, and I took a moment to think the hand through. Ultimately, I decided to merely call, rather than re-raise, mostly because I feared an Ace on the flop, since I knew my man just loved those Ace-X hands. Really, though, I suppose I could've raised him off of the hand, but I was also a bit cautious that he might have actually held something.

The flop was a beautiful Q52. I checked and he bet out $30 or $35. I flat called, hoping to get more money in on the turn. The turn was a 4, and I checked again. This time, he bet $35, and I min-raised him to $70. He called. As the river was being dealt, I pushed all-in for my last $52. I should've waited, but I got fancy. The river was a 3. If he had an Ace, he went runner runner wheel. He actually though hard about calling, but ultimately called...with AT. Fungool! With knowledge of the results, I probably could have protected my hand better. But this was a cash game, and I was merely trying to get all of his chips. It would've worked too, if it wasn't for that pesky river!

With that, I reloaded another $100, all I had left in my poker wallet. I have other funds, surely, but they are either still in the bank or coming via mail from Full Tilt. With the $100, I immediately got into two hands. The first was KQ, where I raised to $10 preflop and got a few callers who thought I was on tilt. The flop was AKK, and I got one caller for my $20. The turn was a blank, but my caller folded to my all-in bet of $70. By then, that was about pot-sized, but she correctly reasoned that I must have a King or a higher Ace-kicker.

In the very next hand, I was dealt AKs and raised to $10 preflop. The flop was Ace-high, and my competition folded to a $20 bet. It was a nice way to start recovering from the QQ v. AT hand.

Ultimately, two hands helped me recover most of my losses. The first was 57d from UTG+2. I limped and by the time it got back around to me, it was raised in MP by Matt and raised by Wendy, a knowledgeable and talkative player on my immediate right. Wendy's chatter had tipped me off that she was the type of player to get tricky. I had the distinct feeling several times that night that she was betting and raising for reasons aside from her hand strength. Specifically, I could see her raising to isolate against Matt, who had been playing a wide range of hands, even to raises. 57d was nothing to write home about, but the right flop could do me wonders. I called, as did Matt. The flop was a beautiful 36X, with two diamonds, giving me a baby flush draw and an inside straight draw. It surely didn't hit either Matt or Wendy's cards, so I checked and let Matt do the betting. To my surprise, Wendy folded and I called. The turn was a blank, and Matt bet out again, only to be called by me. The river was a 4, giving me the well-hidden straight. Matt bet out again, pushing all-in and I called. As it turned out, Matt had KK, and I had cracked him on the river.

A little while later, I played KJs in a hand against Matt hit a 9TX flop with two spades. Once again, I was playing the flush draw and inside straight draw. Matt had been making some oddly timed bets against me throughout the game. On at least one occassion, he admitted that he was trying to bet me off a hand, after he showed his less-than-optimal cards. I knew he was capable of such a move if given the right bait. I checked, he bet, and I called. The turn was a Queen, giving me an inside straight. I checked, he pushed all-in and I called. He never showed his cards once he saw that I held the nuts.

At around 11:30, I had to leave the game. By then, most of the fishier players had busted or left the game. Dawn and Karol were on their way, but an unexpected family issue needed my attention, and I left the game after saying my goodbyes. I was down $96, but if it wasn't for that QQ v AT pot, it'd be more like up $300+. But that's poker, and it didn't concern me one bit.

This was by far the best-run homegame I have ever attended. If Roose reads this, he'll groan, but its just the bare facts. Where else would the host go through all the trouble just to deal to his guests. In future games, I hope to bring some of my poker playing buddies into the Wall Street game fray. After all, starting next month, its a new "season" at the Wall Street game, where $2 from every tournament entry is put aside to build a pot for the player with the best standings after three months. Its a noble idea for a homegame, and one I hope to take in the near future.

Until then, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:30 AM, ,

The Makings of a Congested Champion

My decision to take off work yesterday was actually 24-hours in the making. I had noticed Wednesday afternoon that I was at the precipice of a killer summer cold or allergy attack. I had already been weakened by lack of sleep, my head felt clouded and my nose was starting to rebel, ejecting all sorts of unpleasant things. I tried to shake it off, but come Thursday morning, 6:30am, I couldn't move. I slept in short spurts, waking up alternatively sweaty or freezing, and on a rare occassion both. All I could do was roll over, grab the phone and call the office. I knew I had to come into work on Friday. I'm the only associate who is admitted in the federal courts in New Jersey, and there was an early morning conference. Also, it was my coworker's last day, and I wanted to be there to send him off.

With this in mind, I spent Thursday morning trying to sleep off whatever was ailing me. When I woke up at 11am, I wasn't much better off. Still, I called into the office and had them send me some work via email. As much as I am a man of leisure (read: lazy), I also feel a great amount of responsibility for my job. The secretary who picked up the phone was surprised that I asked her to send me work. "Aren't you sick?" she asked. "Yes, but I'm not an invalid."

After having some soup, I settled in to work. At about 12:40pm, I was strumming along, getting things done. I finished the greater part of my work and decided to peruse Full Tilt for upcoming tournaments. That's when I saw the $69+6 $8500 Guarantee tournament. I had won a $75 token within the last week in a Token Frenzy, one of the easiest tournaments around. I had intended to save it for the next Blogger Big Game, but seeing a $75 tournament in the afternoon was just too tempting. The fact that it was a shorthanded tournament worked for me too. It would allow me my aggressive style that I enjoy playing. Add the double-stack format and I was itching to play. I signed up, went back to reading depositions, and waited.

Before the tournament started, I began to second-guess myself. Even though I was sick, wifey Kim had asked me to take care of a couple of things around the apartment. After a long day of work, its all too easy to leave chores undone. As a result we desperately needed to do a laundry load of towels and the apartment desperately needed a cleaning.

When the tournament finally started up, I was probably doing 5 things at once. I literally spent the first two hours of the tournament multitasking. If memory serves correct, at one point within those two hours, I lost a chunk of chips in a tough hand. I shook it off. After all, this was a deepstack tournament, and I wasn't going to let a little slip ruin my chances of a cash.

From there, I simply played better. The other tasks fell by the wayside, and I began concentrating better. I still wasn't paying full attention to the game, but I was paying better attention and the results were coming in.

I wish I took better notes, but, frankly, I didn't. I do know, however, that with about 100 people left from the 160+ starting, I worked my way up to 6th place. From there, I played bigstack poker. I wasn't loose, but I was willing to see cheap flops and play aggressively. In fact, there were a couple of moves that I found helped me throughout the tournament. Check-raising was key. With shorthanded games, you often have players who are more willing to bet out with less-than-optimal hands or even throw out a pure bluff with crappy cards. When I was hitting big, I let the other player do most of the betting. This generally entailed checking fairly quickly, as though I had given up on the hand. A perfect example found me in the SB with 48h. A player in the CO min-raised from 200 to 400 at the time. I decided to call the extra 300 with my crappy cards, mostly because my stack was decent at the table and I could afford to see a flop and fold when I missed. When the flop was all hearts, I checked pretty quickly. The other caller, the BB, checked as well. The CO then pushed all-in. I kid you not, people. I couldn't believe it. Instead of calling, I decided to raise all-in for my few additional dollars, signaling to the BB that I didn't want any company. He folded, and the CO showed 55 with no hearts. No more hearts came anyway, so when the BB said, "I folded a King of Hearts," I replied, "I wish you called." And while this was not a check-raise situation (instead, it appears more like a slowplay), my intention was to raise whichever jabroni decided to bet out on my made flush.

In hindsight, that may have been the hand to turn it all around. It catapulted me into a big stack and I never looked back. The other play was the simple min-raise bluff. I found this particularly useful when in the blinds once the antes started. Play had significantly tightened up as we got closer to the money and players became shortstacked when compared with the blinds. The player on my immediate right had a nice stack of chips, but he was completely letting me run over him. When I realized he was folding to my bets when it folded to him, I decided to just min-raise to get him off of pots early. I also found this play effective against the player on my left. As I've mentioned here before, the min raise from the blinds when there is only one other player (also a blind) in the hand is a powerful play. It looks as though you are desperately trying to get some action for your monster hand. If they call, you still are in decent shape, seeing a flop for cheap and being the player leading the hand. If they raise, you fold, and then remember to avoid using that move again. Trust me, they'll start raising back at you every time after that.

Beautifully, all of this stealing started to annoy the hell out of the guy on my right. In fact, it caused him to eventually gift me his stack when he was fed up. As per usual, it folded to the SB who called, and I raised from the BB with K9o. He called and we saw a flop, KQx. He checked, I put in a pot-sized bet and he raised me. I thought for a moment and decided to raise him back. He pushed all-in and by then the call was academic. He showed Q7 and I didn't get unlucky, eliminating a player and further strengthening my stack.

Even so, I tightened up my play as we neared the money, mostly because I was literally moved from a table with the 3 shortstacks to a table with 4 out of the top 6 bigstacks. Fold, fold, fold, I was hoping to reach 18th place and take the $160 or so as a sweet profit on a $14 Token Frenzy investment. I already pictured how I was going to spend my money. I didn't have a huge stack either. Even though I just spent three paragraphs bragging about my clever play and aggression, I spent much more time folding away. I was still in 13th place or so, but I only had about 25k, compared to players with 50k at my table. When the money bubble burst, I was ecstatic. By then, slb159 was railbirding. I can't thank him enough, because when it comes to these tournaments, having a wingman can really help my focus. Even though I'm jumping between windows feeding him my hands, I am still focusing almost entirely on the game (albeit chatting about the game).

Somewhere in there, I started getting great cards. I must've seen KK two or three times within the last hour, and QQ twice. I saw AKs or AKo twice as well. I was using these cards, together with my heightening aggression to move up the ranks. My movement was hypercharged when the button made a raise while I had AJ in the BB. The SB folded, and I decided to push all-in. Surprisingly, the button called...with A9o. He must've thought I was raising too much. Well, he chose the wrong time. The flop had a Jack, and that was all she wrote.

From there, I had jumped to 2nd place. At the time of the all-in, I had about 45k, and knocking him out brought me to nearly 100k. One guy had 120k, but fortunately, he was at the other table. At this point, we were down to 15 or less, and by the time that we worked our way down to the final 8, my table complexion had changed. Even though the players were mostly the same, the bigstacks had been diminished, and suddenly I was at a table with a bunch of small stacks. I continued to mercilessly bully the table, raising more often than not. I was either raising or folding, and it was paying off greatly thanks to the antes.

All the while, I'm sorta freaking out. I'm still playing well, but I can smell a decent payday. By the final table, though, all those thoughts had went away. I took out two players relatively quickly and found myself securely in 1st place. I don't remember what happened to fourth place, but other than the momentary elation from moving up another rung on the pay ladder, I tried to stay focused and play smart. I had about 250k to my opponents' 200k and 100k when I lost a big chunk of change. I had a mid King, like K7 and got into a hand with the 100k stack. The flop was K58 with two diamonds, and I check-raised the other guy all-in. He bit with 67d. By the river he made his flush, and for a few seconds, I thought, third isn't bad. Then I remember the 3k top prize and decided to fight for it. No awfukit poker for me.

I worked my way back to a decent stack with aggression. The other players fought over a few hands, and soon we were all about even. I took the lead with a hand where I pushed off the former 100k stack. Finally I dealt him a death blow. Once again, my weapon of choice was a check-raise. However, I made the move with a Queen, low kicker, on a Queen-high board. It was certainly a gutsy play, but when he called my all-in with the middle pair, I was golden. Heads up, I started with a slight lead. We played for maybe 10 minutes or so, with me up a slight amount, when I decided to raise preflop with K2c. He called and we saw a K-high flop with two spades. I checked, he bet, I raised, and he pushed. I thought for a while about folding, but I had seen what was happening at the end of the tournament. Both of the other players were getting tired. They were tilting and falling into awfukit poker. Top pair, worst kicker isn't an amazing hand, but heads-up, it's still pretty strong. I could've folded and chose a better moment, but I knew how weak the other players were playing. I called and he showed a flush draw. He missed it by the river, and I couldn't contain myself.

'HOLY SHIT!' I wrote to slb, followed by 'HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT HOLY SHIT!' I got off the comp and called wifey Kim, and then my Mom. $3k for a fooking card game. Alright! This is by far my biggest win ever, live or online. I had gotten further in larger fields, but the buy-ins were always less as was the prize money. I had wrote earlier this week about being a Five Percenter. When I reread that post, it looked like I was trying to justify my love of the game to myself. In a large way, that's true. I hadn't been making the progress I had hoped to make at the begining of the year. Vegas particularly took a lot of wind out of my sails. Now, I'm withdrawing most of my winnings to my cash bankroll, and I'm aching to get back to the live poker scene. I'm reenergized. And, ironically, all of the MTT tournaments I played and lost, well, those losses are all wiped out by this one win. Love that ROI!

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:57 AM, ,

Sick Profit

I stayed home from work sick today. This is what I got for my troubles:

posted by Jordan @ 4:15 PM, ,

Odds and Ends

Let's start off with a little bit of a recap on my WSOP prop bets. Greg Raymer made another final table (the tournament isn't over yet, either) in event #20, $1500 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo. That's Mr. Raymer's second final table so far, both in Stud-variety games. I also have Mr. Phil Ivey in one prop bet, and as previously report, Mr. Ivey also made a final table. So far, I've only had three people "score" against me, Matty Eb's Jesus Ferguson final tabled and early event, his other pick Negreanu final tabled an event recently, and Unimpressed's Phil Hellmuth actually won his 11th bracelete. I knew he'd do it too, but I couldn't turn down the action. Thankfully, Unimpressed only gets $5 for a win ($1 for a final table), the lowest amount for all of my bets. Whew! I wouldn't have bet more against Phil anyway. Good stuff! Full tally, I'm up $5 against MeanHappy, down $5 against Unimpressed, up $10 against Bayne, and even against Matty Ebs. Sweet! Now if Carlos Mortensen will final table, I'll be in great shape. He's playing, right? He better be!

Meanwhile, I've fallen into the abyss of online poker again. Its pretty simple, really. The BBT sucked me back in, because I want to get into that freeroll. Since the freeroll consists of 1/2 of all of the rake paid, its like each BBT tournament is rake free...assuming you only play in 1/2 of the events. That's especially nice, since I've been on a roll with the token tournaments, so usually I'm playing the Hoy on the cheap.

Last night, I decided to change things up and three-table. The first table was a PLO high MTT, which cost a $24+2 token. I actually played fairly well, in the 40s out of 68 or so people left out of 200+ when I had to make a move due to the high blinds. I busted, but shook it off relatively easy. I must admit to myself that I am NOT a PLO high player. I play most games, but PLO high is the worst for me. I started to do well when I became uber tight, which is really the best strategy (for me at least) in PLO. Unlike PLO8 (i.e., high/low), my range of hands in PLO is tiny. I try to stick with hands that involve 3 or more broadway cards (Ten through Ace), particularly in tournaments. Otherwise, I find myself fishing too much. In PLO8, I can deal with the fishing. The board analysis is a lot more complicated and that is where I believe I have my edge. In PLO, with only the high to worry about, that board-reading edge is diminished. Add in tournament donkeys and the drawing nature of Omaha games, and PLO is a lesson in futility, for me at least. Still, I just can't seem to stay away from that damn tournament.

Otherwise, I played the $75 token frenzy, winning a token without breaking a sweat. I've done well in most of the token frenzies I've entered, mostly because its just fold fold fold, raise big, fold fold fold. Its actually a great game to two table. I make the Token Frenzy window as tiny as possible and leave it in the corner, checking for AQ, AK, or 99-AA.

The third game was a .10/.25 NL, $7.50 Cap game with GCox. I hadn't played with G for a while, and I had some time before the aforementioned tourneys kicked off. So, I sat down with $15 and had an amazing time. As expected, there were a couple of complete donators at the table. It was like reading an open book. It didn't hurt that I was catching cards, but these lemurs were just handing their money to me. A donk raises, I call out of position with 33. The flop has a 3, I check, he checks. The turn is an Ace. I bet, he raises, I push, he calls with A6! Easy money.

In general, though, when I play online, I'm mostly prone to playing non-hold'em cash games, like Limit O8 or Razz. Frankly, you just can't find those games live. I also think that I have somewhat of an edge over the casual Razz or LO8 player, but beyond that, its just fun.

As for live poker, I contemplated heading to Salami's tournament tonight, but I'm just not up for it (right now). I'm feeling pretty sick, like a cold or allergies. I'd love to take a day off tomorrow to recuperate, but with one of my coworkers leaving the firm on Friday, I'll probably be needed to prepare for his exit. Ugh! I need a vacation.

Speaking of vacations, I have two amazing vacations coming up. The first is in two weeks. Wifey Kim and I are heading to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The best part is that her brother hooked us up with a sweet deal at the hotel. We'll be staying in a $700+/nt room for $119/nt. Can't beat that!

A few short weeks later, I'll be changing in the sand and sun for dust and sun, and maybe some pebbles! That's right, its time for Okie-Vegas, hosted by GCox. This will be my first in-person meeing with ole Coxy, a player who I met 2 years ago in a freeroll ran by Dr. Pauly. We got to reading each other's blogs, IMing, playing SNGs, and eventually entering a variety of Challenge-type tournaments, hosted by yours truly. TripJax and a whole assortment of bloggers will be there as well. And on top of that all, I'm just excited to be in Oklahoma! I mean, really, Oklahoma! Don't be jealous!

As for the Chess Challenge, I'm waiting on emails and buy-ins from more than a few players. Get them to me when you can. This is going to be a LONG process, so get comfortable, folks. Meanwhile, anyone and everyone continues to remind me that I suck at chess by promptly beating my ass.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:02 AM, ,

I'm a Five Percenter

In other news that isn't really news at all but rather an attempt to remind myself that I actually have a bit of talent, I recently read that 95% of online poker players are actually losing players. From reading blogs, it would appear that most bloggers are in that elusive winning 5%. Even though I have not had the amount of success I would like, I take some solace in knowing that I have so far succeeded where 95% of people failed. It's enough to bring a tear to my eye.

So, are you a Five Percenter? If so, congratulations, and welcome to the club.

posted by Jordan @ 4:32 PM, ,

High on Gaming

This weekend was jam-packed with all sorts of gaming goodness. Let's start off quickly with the Poker Blogger Chess Challenge. We have eight competitors ready to put up $10 each in a bracket-style tournament. I've already lost two unofficial matches against two of the competitors, Schaubs and MeanHappyGuy, so I'm clearly not doing this for the money. But I love me a challenge, so I'm ready, anxious and willing to have my ass handed to me by a fellow blogger. The full roster of players are:

1. HighOnPoker
2. MeanHappyGuy
3. Schaubs
4. CJ the Luckbox
5. YoSoyVeneno
6. Goat
7. Matty Ebs
8. Buddy Dank

If you are one of those listed players, please send me an email at HighOnPokr AT yahoo DOT commissioner. Remember, there is no E in HighOnPokr in that email address. Also, please send $10 to HighOnPoker with an E to my FullTilt account, as the prize pool. Once all of the emails and buy-ins have been received, we'll start the tournament.

I have discovered that has a tournament option. Rather than arrange individual matches, it may be smarter to simply set up the tournament through In that case, it will be a RoundRobin tournament, where each player will have 2 matches (one as black, one as white) against each other player. 1 point is awarded for a win, and 1/2 is awarded for a stalemate. All the details are listed AT THIS LINK.

Okay, enough about chess. Let's move on to the next game of choice, Golf. I'm not a golfer. Hardly. But I did play a 9-hole course for the first time in 6+ years this weekend. This was only my second time playing an actual course, so I sucked. But I can see what all the hype is about. Golf is like poker in a lot of ways. Less than a traditional sport, golf seems to be a game of skill. There is also, from my newbie perspective, a lot of luck involved (although I'm sure its less so as you get more skilled...also like poker). And the beautiful thing is that, like poker, golf is just a great excuse to waste a day with friends (often getting wasted). That's really all I have to say on the subject, other than I hope to play a lot more in the future.

And finally, poker. Ah, poker. After bubbling at Salami, I've been feeling good about my game. I won $70 last night at the Roose homegame, oddly sans Roose, who is right now in the Greek islands on his honeymoon. I played two games, making a deal to win $50 profit in the first game (essentially first place), and taking 2nd in the second game for another $20 profit. Everything clicked, too, much like the Salami game. In fact, I'm starting to come to the conclusion that I excel particularly in short-form live two or three table tournaments. When I say "short-form", I mean fast blinds, i.e. tournaments expected to last a couple of hours only. I am able to adjust well to the blind levels, and play accordingly. Whatever the case, it has me wondering how these smaller tournaments have become my bread and butter. Hell, I won the two tournaments yesterday, bubbled at Salami, and before that, moneyed in three out of three tournaments in my buddy Greg's home game. Even before that, I was on a great streak at the Roose homegames, and moneyed in 5 out of my last 8 Salami tournaments, with 2 of my losses on the bubble.

Say what you will, but I like those results. If nothing else, it gives me the feeling that I'm doing something right.

Once I get the $500 I'm withdrawing from online poker, I'm going to return to some of the cash game clubs. I heard a rumor that Good Luck Club was raided, but from posts I've seen, it's still up and running (I heard the rumor weeks ago). Hell, I'm salivating already at the thought of some more easy money.

So, while I may really love games in any variety, in the end, it comes back to my first true gaming love. That's right. Until next time, make mine poker!

Update: No, I am not running a Cribbage Challenge...but if one does happen to come together, let me know. All I need to do is learn the game. Anywho, its time for a quick update of my WSOP prop bets.

My main man (at least for today) Greg "Fossilman" Raymer wasn't a flash in the pan. Nope. After winning the 2004 WSOP and having some nice finishes in 2005, he final tabled Event #14 $1500 Seven Card Stud. Thanks, Greg! That earns me $5 from Bayne and $5 from Matty Ebs (putting me $5 up against Bayne and even with Ebs after Ferguson final tabeled an early event). Thanks Greg!

posted by Jordan @ 12:04 PM, ,

Chess Challenge??

I've been playing more online chess at with MeanHappyGuy and Schaubs. I sorta suck, but I'm getting better all of the time. So, while I was doing my thing today, I was thinking that it might be interesting to do some sort of chess tournament between poker bloggers. I would ideally like to get 8 players, and set it up bracket-style. Each match would potentially take a very long time, thanks to At, you make a move, and your opponent has 3 days to make his next move. For the tournament, we can shorten this to 36 hours or something similar, but realistically, the action happens somewhat faster. Hell, Schaubs and I each moved 5 or so times today. I'm feverishly pressing the Reload button as we speak waiting for him to fall into my clutches.

So, here is my thought. $10 tournament, top two spots pay $60 and $20. Each match-up plays two simultaneous matches (easy to do with, and if it is a tie, they play two more matches, in sudden death format. In other words, whoever gets checkmate first in either one of those tiebreakers wins the round, and the other match is redundant. This will allow both players to play black and white evenly, AND prevent several days leading to a stalemate, requiring another sudden death round (although it still could happen).

So, the real question is, are enough people interested? If so, leave a comment. I'll take the first 8, then take alternates from there until we hit 12 or 16. But let's get to 8 first.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:05 PM, ,

Three Salamis Short of a Sandwich

After receiving an email from Matty Ebs late yesterday, I started getting the urge for some live action. After my recent Vegas trip, my live poker bankroll was unceremoniously depleted to dangerously low levels. Ebs was heading to the Extra Big Bet club for their juicy 1/2 NL game, but until I could pull some money from my online poker accounts, I didn't feel comfortable for the 1/2 game yet. I like to go to a club with at least 2x the max buy-in. That $600 at the club's 1/2 NL game, and I would have to leave directly from work without my meager cash bankroll in hand. So I had to skip EBB club, but I couldn't get another option out of my head, the Salami Club's daily NL tournament.

I headed over to the club straight from work, glad that I had my sunglasses and iPod. I would be without my usual poker items, like my card caps or baseball cap, but I had resolved to get over the dependence on material things (not quite lucky charms, as much as comfort blankets), as long as I had the essentials. For me, sunglasses are crucial. I read someone who recently knocked the Internet players who show up for live poker with their sunglasses because it makes them look cool. That writer is and was woefully misinformed. The reality is that I use my glasses to hide where I'm looking. For the entirety of the evening, it proved highly useful.

The tournament structure recently changed from a $60 re-register tournament to a $60 buy-in, $40 unlimited rebuys for three levels, $40 add-on tournament. I'm glad to say that I never had to rebuy and by the add-on, I was the table chipleader with over 8.5k (starting stacks of 2.5k), so I decided to skip the add-on also. Normally, I always take the add-on, but I clearly didn't need it in this group.

My game is perfectly tuned for the Salami tournament. The players are loose-aggressive gamblers. Not just loose. Not just loose-aggressive. Loose-aggressive GAMBLERS! For instance, two players in Hijack and Cutoff seats, got all-in after a 567 flop with two spades. They each held 34. Ostensibly, pushing all-in with the straight isn't bad here. But what the hell were they doing playing 34o in the first place.

Frankly, I dominated the tournament, but went out on the bubble when the blinds were uber-high and I suffered a series of bad luck hands. But first, lets talk about my domination.

There were two hands that particularly exemplified how I was able to adjust perfectly to the game at hand. In one, I held AQo in one of the blinds when a player in MP, Al, made a large raise. When it folded to me, I decided to call. Al is a smart player, dangerous even, but he also plays these things too loose. Hell, he was one of the 34o players. Even though his raise was significant compared to our limited stacks, I figured that I could get paid off if I hit. I was slightly worried about facing a strong hand, but I was willing to see the flop against a player with such a wide range. The flop came down KQ4. I checked. He bet big. I pushed all-in. He thought for a moment and called...with QJ. Normally, I don't check raise all-in with middle pair, top kicker, but at Salami, middle pair is gold!

In the second hand that exemplified my shear domination, I was in the SB with A8o. It folded to the button, a dorky guy who irks me for no particular reason. I always get the feeling that he just doesn't get the game. He raised, and I didn't fear him at all. Something just felt like he was stealing. The BB called as well. The flop came down with three low cards. I don't remember what they were. It checked around. The turn was an Ace. I now had top pair, but a weak kicker. I checked and to my surprise, the BB bet out. The dork on the button folded. I flat called. On the river, I bet out small and the BB folded. I knew he didn't have the Ace, but I was hoping to get a tad more money. Once again, I played slow, expecting that the table would give me money when I had decent hands. I also made a few choice big raises at times and got paid off, but I don't recall any of those specifics. Whatever the case, it was like the table was throwing money at me.

When we got to the final table, I was the chipleader, with only two or so players near me in chips. Unfortunately, it was one of those days. I knocked out 10th and 9th, but then we got stuck. I went card dead at the wrong time and was bleeding antes and blinds. I was still the chipleader or close thereto, though, but no shortstacks were losing their many all-ins. It was taking forever, but I played a smart, tight game and soon we were down to the money bubble. The remaining players were me, Al to my left, an Arabic looking kid who couldn't lose an all-in no matter how bad his cards were (his JT beat AK and QJ; his Q3 beat KT, and so on). To my immediate right was a kid who was clearly out of his league. He was still wet behind the ears, and I figured he or the Arab would go out next. Nope. Everyone seemed to double up or steal enough, and we were at four nearly even stacks, even though I still held the advantage. Al was on the shortstack in the BB when I got my first decent hand of the final table, 77. It folded to me. Blinds were 1000/2000 with 500 antes, so the pot was already big. I raised all-in, expecting Al to fold. Nope. He called, with TT. On the turn, I hit my 7. On the river, he hit his Ten. With Al as the shortstack and me as the bigstack, that brought us all to about even stacks. A few hands later, I am dealt QJ in the BB. The SB pushes all-in preflop, and I realize that he's scared as shit. I had stolen his SB a couple of times when he merely called, and I got the feeling that he was fed up and looking to do his own stealing. QJ seemed good enough at the time, so I called. He flipped over J3...and flopped a 3. When we did the math, I was down to less than 3k in chips, with 1500/3000, 600 antes at the time. I was all-in in the SB in the next hand with 44. Al had A9, flopped the 9 and rivered the Ace.

It was tough going from top to the bottom, but I was actually pretty okay with it. I knew I played well, and I merely got unlucky toward the end. The 77 v. TT hand was unlucky because he happened to have such a superior and dominating hand, but that I can somewhat blame on myself. The QJ v. J3, however, was just bad luck, plain and simple. I couldn't fault myself, and that was the one that took me out of the game, essentially.

Interestingly, I've moneyed or bubbled in 7 of my last 8 attempts in this tournament. Among that 7, there were only 2 bubble finishes. So, its definitely my own little fishing pond. In fact, I plan on returning weekly to build my bankroll. I already can't wait for next week.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:00 AM, ,

All Things Mookie

I decided to play the Mookie last night, in my quest to compete in 20 of the 40 Battle of the Poker Blogger events. I ended up out at 27th out of 51, just shy of the 25th place BBT points.

I really have to commend the creators of the BBT and the poker blogging community in general. When TripJax and I originally started the DADI tournaments, we merely wanted to play online poker against people we knew. We didn't expect much, but when the turnout ballooned, largely thanks to pimping by AlCantHang, I realized how enjoyable it was being a part of the poker blogging community. Eventually, when the weekly Mookie, Hoy, WPBT, WWdn, and WWdn: Not proliferated, we were happy to shut down the monthly DADI game. It was a lot of work, coming up with a date, designing a banner, pimping it out on our respective blogs, and ultimately doing it every month. God bless Al, Mook, and Hoy for putting together the BBT. Not only does it provide a friendly, competitive atmosphere, but the BBT has done a lot more. It has strengthened the poker blogging community by making something worthwhile to play.

Specifically, I am amazed at the extras that have developed around the combinatin of the weekly Hoy, Mookie and Riverchasers events. The most amazing thing is the leaderboard. There had been leaderboards in the past, but the BBT improved on the concept drastically. First, the top five or six players get prizes, from cash to Nintendo Wiis. Second, the top 50 get entered into a freeroll at the end of the BBT. This is the most amazing part: The BBT actually convinced FullTilt to give back all of our tournament fees to put into that freeroll (actually, half get split amongst the top 3 spots, I think, and the other half goes to the freeroll). Well, god bless. Last night, I discovered that my 3rd place Hoy win catapulted me to 49th place. After missing out on the points last night, I worry that I might be out of the top 50. But I'll guarantee that I'll keep trying. After all, if you play in at least 20 of the 40 events, you get entered into the freeroll anyway. As of today, I've played in 13 events, so I've got a little ways to go with just (I think) 12 events left.

I also have to give some big ups to Buddy Dank. He recently started a live streaming radio show over the Internet that plays concurrent with the Mookie. Not only does he provide an interesting and ecclectic soundtrack, but he'll pop in every couple of minutes to update the amount of players left, and particular bustouts. A paraphrase from my bust out last night: "And it looks like Hoy took out Jordan...from High on Poker...with...QQ against... Ace-something... Man, I just saw it too..." Okay. he still has a little ways to go, but the concept is there and this is only his second go-round. I find it particularly exciting because its a unique opportunity to play poker with a bunch of players all over the world while listening (potentially) to the same soundtrack. Its the Mookie Surround Sound experience, and I suggest you check it out.

But enough of that drivel. Let's get to the poker. I saved three hands last night. The first fringes on the bet-sizing topic I've been discussing lately, but also addresses that all-too-common situation where there is money waiting for you on the table if you just choose to take it. The second and third hands address all-in plays, particularly in tournaments, that may appear, on their face, to be stupid, but actually are well-justified (or so I hope).

Let's start with the hand showing how to take an orphaned pot. I'm rocking about 2160 in chips, in the BB with 47o. My table is full of people I don't really know. I like that. It means that my default blogger table image (i.e., overly loose) doesn't necessarily apply. Katie, with 1445, limps in MP, and the button, BrLK, limps as well. The SB folds and I check. Let's take a minute. There is no reason for the SB to fold here. He only has to call 30 and with two limpers, the SB's SB, and the BB already in the pot, that's just a 30 call into a 210 pot. That's incredible odds, and even if he has terrible cards, he may luck out and flop two pair, trips, or better. Plainly put, in my book you ONLY fold your SB if there is a raise ahead of you OR you have less than 10x the BB. But that's not what this hand is about.

The flop was A66, with two clubs. I checked, and it checked around. There you have it. An orphaned pot. You might get concerned that someone is slowplaying an Ace or some other good cards. It's definitely a possibility, but less of a possibility than most people think. Just watch the timing of your opponents. In this case, it was a very naturally timed check. Basically a "Nope, missed the flop. Next card" type of a check. I wish I could explain it more. I'm sure it has a lot to do with subconscious things. Whatever the case, I got the secure feeling that no one had the Ace.

The turn was an 8c, completing the flush draw. I had to think for a moment here. I was out of position, and someone could have checked to get a free card and make their flush. I had to make a decision here. The easy thing would be to check and give up the hand. But there was 210 in the pot, and both players seemed like they wanted nothing to do with it. I bet out 120, a small amount, for two reasons. (1) If one of the other players have the flush, an Ace, or a 6, they are going to call or raise, in which case, I go into my turtle shell and fold or check it down. 120 isn't a lot, so the bet is worth it to me, even if I'm betting into the nuts. (2) It looks scary. In fact, it looks suspiciously like I hit the 6s and now want to get some action from them once everyone checked down my first slowplay on the flop. OR, it looks like I hit my flush and I'm trying to do whatever I can to build the pot. In case you've been taking notes, this is very similar to my thought-process in a lot of the bet-sizing hands. You want to find that sweetspot where you don't mind the results. You either get info for cheap or win the pot for the right price. In this case, I had jack shit, but they both folded and I took down the pot.

The second and third hands just amuse me. In both cases, I look like a donkey at showdown. In fact, here are the holecards at showdown:

Hand #2
jdpc: AQo

Hand #3
Nomey: AA
Dionysus: ATs

In both instances, I'm playing from behind. In the first, JTs hardly seems like a pushable hand. In the second, while 55 is ahead of two of the players, with so many players in the hand and a player with AA, my hand was nothing to praise. To the casual observer, including the player at my table who is multitabling or surfing the web and just happen to see showdown, I look a bit donkish, but let's look at the hands and see how I got all of my money (or in Hand #3, as much of my money as possible) into the pot as a dog.

In Hand #2, I had 1120 chips in a turbo Token race, with blinds of 120/240. If you do the math, that's less than 5x the BB. To make matters worse, I was in the BB, so I had less than 4x the BB left behind. In these tourneys, I play very tight (being that 6 of 18 places pay, and the top 5 all get the same prize), hoping to double up before I get blinded out. I hadn't gotten good cards, so I was at the point of desperation.

To my surprise, TNW pushed all0in for about 1500 from EP/MP, and jdcp with 1985 called. When it got to me, I had so much in the pot that folding would be stupid. I figured the players for high Aces, but even if I were wrong, I was really only a large dog to TT-AA. In fact, against AK and AQ, I'm over a 33% chance to win. Since I'm getting better than that in pot odds, its the right call. If both had a pair less than TT, I'm actually going to win more than 41% of the time. If one has AK and the other has an undercard, I'm about 32% to win. In other words, I really am only worried about TT and up, and while that is definitely a possibility, I could not allow myself to fold and be down to less than 4x the BB. Ironically, I fold most Aces, aside from AK and AQ here, because they are too likely dominated, but Jack Ten likely leaves me with two live cards. In the end, I flopped the flush draw and a ten and took down the pot.

The third hand is from the Mook, and was the reason why I ultimately lost the tournament. I had 2845 in chips, UTG+1 with 55, when Kaellin made his play, pushing 920 into the pot from UTG. In hindsight, I probably should've folded here, but I figured I could afford to gamble against highcards, and if anyone else calls, they are likely to check it down with me. I figured my investment was capped. However, Dionysus ended up pushing all-in in LP, and Nomey raised all-in to 1700 total from the BB. When it got back to me, there were suddenly three people all-in and I had to call 780 into the already huge pot of 4080. I felt obliged to call, especially since I'd have more chips to spare. In hindsight, I once again question if I should've let it go. At this point, its fairly clear that someone has an overpair, likely Nomey. That means that I'm drawing to a set. In the actual hand, I was only about 16% to win preflop. In fact, maybe someone can check the odds on this, but my loose calculations suggest that I was getting proper odds on the 780 into 4080 pot.

Now, odds should not be the end of all analysis in tournaments. However, they are worth checking, and when your stack size is small or, conversely, when its big enough to handle a loss, knowing your odds against likely holdings is important.

I hope this resonated with a few of you. These were odd hands to me last night. The last two particularly stuck in my craw. I'm still not 100% that these were the right plays, but looking back, I don't think they were the wrong plays.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:35 PM, ,