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The Basement Game

Sorry, folks. It seems like I experienced some technical difficulties last night, when this post initially posted without a title or an ending. Here is the post, in its entirety.

Okay. Remember when I told you that I wouldn't go back to any of the underground poker clubs anymore? Well, I lied.

I didn't mean to, I swear. But its different this time, I swear.

Oh, come on, don't give me that look. I won $160! Doesn't that count for something?!

Besides, it wasn't even my fault. My college bud Mao wanted to meet up for dinner, so I met him, J-Dub and Mao's cousin for some burritos at the best burrito place in the city, Baby Bo's. Mao and I got to talking. He got into poker after college (as did I, at least in its present incarnation), so we've barely ever played together. I played a tourney with him on LI twice. The first time was a homegame where I placed 2nd out of 14. The second time was another homegame, but had 22 players spread in three different rooms. I placed 4th, ITM. Always the bridesmaid, but at least I got paid.

Yeah, so I sorta bring up that I know a dealer at a club. And he sorta wanted to play. And we were sorta drinking, and one thing led to another, and well, it didn't mean anything, baby. It's just poker!

The new room is pretty sweet. I'm not sure what the nickname will be here, so let's go with the Basement Game. The place feels like someone's decked out basement. It sorta feels half-finished, with a small room in the front with a sweet flat screen TV and some couches. Theres a small room right in back with a table. Those two rooms are separated by some sort of temporary wall, if memory serves correct. There's another room to the right, where we played. It was also bisected by a sheet, or maybe that was a wall covering. The table fit comfortably, though, and that was all that mattered.

The Basement Game usually kicks off a 9:30. To bring people in earlier, they were offering a promotion. Start before 9pm, play for 4hrs, and get 20% of your initial buy-in back. Amazing, if it didn't require playing until after midnight. I'm a puss on weekdays, and besides, any tomfoolery usually happens after 11pm. I don't need to gamble that much.

Mao and I couldn't find the entrance until Pauly, a Wall Street Game regular, walked right past us, turned, and began to open a gate. I caught up with him and we entered the club.

Wendy came in next, followed by Matty Ebs. I had no idea Ebs would be there. It's a great pleasure to see him pop up randomly. Poker tends to do that. Within 20 minutes, there were 5 players, and we started shorthanded. Wendy dealt, Mao took the 2s, Ryan (the only guy I didn't know) took the 3s, Pauly took the 5s, then Matty Ebs in the 7s and me in the 9s.

Suddenly, I found myself at a de facto Wall Street Game, save for the one lone player I never previously met, Ryan. Ryan was a taller than average, skinny-ish Caucasian. At first, I thought he worked in the room, since he seemed so familiar with the place and staff. But when he sat down, I could see he was more of an action junkie player. We can smell our own.

The action started off well enough. In the first hand, I was dealt TT. I raised preflop to $10, got Ryan to call and maybe Matty Ebs, and then took down the AAT flop with a continuation bet. I considered just checking, but I wanted to build the pot and the other players gave me the feeling that they were willing to call me. Ebs knows me as loose and Ryan looked like he wanted to mix things up. After that, I just played smart, tighter poker. I worked my stack up to $85 or so profit, and actually felt happy. Since it was a shorthanded game and Mao didn't bring much cash, I bought in for $200, rather than the $300 max. I split that $200 into four $50 piles, and was glad when I had reached 5+ piles. As the evening progressed, Vivian joined in the 6s. She's another Wall Street player, but I had never met her before. A skinny kid with long blond hair and some chin scruff joined the game in the 1s. He claimed to be named Sunshine, which apparently was just a nickname, but if a dude asks me to call him Sunshine at a poker table, I'm going to enjoy it. I introduced myself as Moonbeam Rainbow. A black guy who was very quiet and analytical joined the table last, taking the 10s. We didn't speak one word to each other. I'm just glad I didn't get into any hands with him, since he seemed so serious.

My stack stalled at the $85 mark, but a rapid succession of crap cards and crappier situations, including a loosening up table, caused me to waste my profit and dwindle to a ndloss of negative $30. It was 10:30 when I announced to the table that I was leaving at 11pm. This serves two purposes. First, its an artificial way to ensure that I don't play all night. Some people have stop-losses; I have stop-times. After playing for a few hours, especially on a weeknight, I'd rather take my profit and call it a night, rather than slugging it out to the wee hours. The other benefit is to my sleep. When I get home from poker, I need an hour minimum of unwinding time before I can sleep. Usually, I need more. It's all about the poker adrenaline. I accept this and I plan around it.

The next half hour was pretty dull. Matty Ebs and I had prop bets on the flop, and even those stopped coming in. At 10:55, I realized I had three more hands in my orbit. I decided to play the 3 hands and walk. The first two hands were crap cards. The third was pocket 5s, under the gun. I limped for $2. At this point, I was down $30 exactly, but I had a feeling this last hand would work out. It limped around with probably 5 or 6 callers to the flop: A65. I don't think there were any flush draws. I considered betting (all I could think of is Fuel55 saying, 'bet the set'), but I opted to check, since I figured that someone had the Ace. It checked around to Ryan, who bet $10. A little while earlier, he was joking with Matty Ebs that he needed to win $500 even in order to walk. He was about $20 short. Ebs responded that Ryan was likely to hit $600 before $500. I thought nothing of it at the time.

Ebs called Ryan's $10 bet and when it got to me, I raised to $30. It folded to Ryan and he hemmed and hawed. He raised $20 on top. Ebs folded. I hollywooded, acting as though I was screwed. I made it clear during the flop action that it was my last hand, so I was hoping he would think that I was playing desperate. I finally reached for my chips and raised $50 on top. I was mildly concerned about 66, but Ryan had raised pretty aggressively with 77 earlier in the evening, so 66 became less of a concern. Similarly, I could see Ryan playing any Ace, including A5 and A6 for two pair. He might even think that he is good with a big Ace kicker. When he considered my bet, I told him to just make it easy on both of us and put me all-in. He chose to merely call, and I pushed all-in on the 8 turn. He called the $78. The river was a blank. He showed A6 to my 55...and then I stood up.

Everyone was really friendly during the game. Ebs and I were having a great time with our stupid prop bets. Wendy did a great job as dealer. We all sat around the table telling dirty jokes about midgets (sorry Ig).

All in all it was a great night. It felt less like an underground club akin to Fairview and more like someone's basement apartment. The guy running the show took my cell phone number and then told me to expect daily text messages. Daily? It sounds like a pain in the ass, but I'll put up with a lot for poker.

See, baby, so it wasn't that bad. Quiet, private, good action and better money. So don't be mad. Its different this time. Or so I hope.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:29 AM, ,

To Adjust or Not to Adjust

I played on 6-player turbo SNG last night for a low amount, since I've decided to at least respect my bankroll a tad (but not a whole lot). I went out in 3rd, the bubble. It got me thinking about what I wrote about yesterday. Am I openning up too much on the bubble and at the lower payout spots? In yesterday's SNG, I was utilizing a decent push-or-fold strategy once I had less than 10x the BB. We were obviously shorthanded at 3 players left, and I was dealt KQ in the BB. The SB was a huge stack and min-raised me. Even though I was fairly short, I liked the KQ. I considered pushing, which would be my usual move. With blinds of 60/120, and his raise to 240, a push would cost him an additional 1k (actually 960). In the end, I decided the smart move would be to call, see a flop, and if I hit my K or Q, push when I actually had a hand. The flop was King high, with no flush or straight draws. He checked. I pushed, and he called with AA. Bad play? Bad luck? Or bad of me to get to the bubble as a shortstack? I didn't have any good hands during the tournament and I thought my patient strategy was correct, so this may have been a situation where it just wasn't my day.

I still don't have an answer, per se, but a comment from reader Randy really got me to reconsider my concerns. Randy wrote:

"All of the tourney pros I've heard comment on this say that there are long periods of no cashes. It's easy to get confused by the news hounds' reporting of the amazing run of cashes from the Johnie Unknowns. For me, I'll take the pros' views and keep playing a good game. Results will come when they do."
Randy has some valid points. Tournament poker naturally involves stretches where even the most skilled players fail to cash. This is probably less so with online single-table SNGs, since they are quicker and a bit more formulaic, but yesteday aside, the majority of my concerns involved live MTTs and small tournaments.

This all begs the question, how does one know when they need to revamp their game or continue plugging along? This is not the soul-searching of a losing player. I've actually had some nice results lately at the I Had Outs cash game and I moneyed in both of the Wall Street tournaments. I am not positive, but I believe I was the only person that night to money in both tourneys, even if my moneying meant a profit of $10. In fact, part of me feels like those two games may've been the start of a streak. It may just be wishful thinking, but part of me feels like I am playing really well. So, revamping my game may derail my recent success.

Ah, introspection, how do I love thee? Questions will be left unanswered, but I'm still super happy that I've been able to spend so much time with my second love, poker.

I was at the Courthouse this morning on four different motions in one of my problem cases. Ironically, its the worst, least valuable cases that take up the most time. It seems like the big ones almost take care of themselves once you set them on the right trajectory. After losing one motion, winning one motion, and getting a push on the last two, I went out in the hallway to talk with my adversary. He, like me, is a relatively young attorney, so we talked about that dynamic in a firm until I felt a tap on my shoulder. As I turned around, I saw an old classmate from lawschool, Melissa. Melissa and I were in a mediation seminar together, where we eventually had an opportunity to mediate Small Claims Court cases. Melissa and I would routinely take trains back and forth to the Courthouse in Queens on Wednesday nights to convince people with petty claims to settle or convince jerks holding out on petty sums to actually pay. During those train rides, we talked about a lot of things, one of which, naturally, was poker.

Within five minutes into our conversation, I already recounted how I was happily married to the wonderful wifey Kim, and how my career path had gone over the last three years. It didn't take long, then, to get to poker. Melissa was one of the few girls who actually attended my home games when I lived in Murray Hill. I mentioned how I had a website and how poker was going well. We swapped business cards, and I may help her get into some of the games I play in the city. It was great catching up, as she was one of the few people in law school who I actually liked on a personal level.

But the interesting aspect was that our conversation went: Wife, Work, Poker. That really sums it up for me. Poker has become such an ingrained part of who I am. I write about it on a daily basis. I play on an almost daily basis online or live. I play live once or twice a week. Outside of time spent with wifey Kim, its my biggest mode of social interaction. I see my non-poker friends, but not on a weekly basis, or at least not one of them particularly on a weekly basis.

Poker is a lot more than a game. It is my challenge in life. It is my goal in life. It is my company in life. It's been a great journey for the last three years on this blog and the one or two years before it. I've accomplished a lot of my goals, and going forward, my goals will continue to evolve as I do.

But I guess that all boils down to more introspection.

So, let's do some story time. This is a true story about one of the cases in Small Claims Court. I wasn't involved in the negotiation directly, but my colleagues kept me informed as it progressed, and it is the epitome of stupidity.

A woman sued a shoe store because, according to her, they overcharged her on two pairs of shoes. The woman claimed that she picked up two pairs of $19.99 shoes and brought them to the register. They rang up as $24.99, so she argued with the clerk. The clerk asked to see the sign advertising them as $19.99. When the woman took the clerk to the rack of shoes, the sign magically said $24.99. At this point, the woman allegedly got back to the front of the line and held up all of the registers as she pronounced that the store changed the sign AFTER she took the shoes. It was a bait and switch, damnit, from the nefarious shoe store that must've had a midget working underneath the table to switch signs as customers took the 10 foot walk from display to register! A travesty! So, the woman sued the shoe store for $10, the differnce in the price that she paid and the price allegedly posted before it was switched by the Price Troll.

Once this story was told, the mediators asked the woman to wait outside so they could discuss it with the store owner directly and privately. Once she was gone they asked the man, "are you willing to pay her $10 to get out of here right now?" He agreed, since he would otherwise have to go to a judge, which could take an hour or longer depending on case load. When the woman came back, he handed her $10 from his own pocket and the case was successfully settled.

The woman won her complete $10 for the suit. The cost of filing the small claims suit: $15. A -EV proposition if ever I'd seen one.

Until next time, I fold...erm, I mean, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:54 AM, ,

Sloppy Aggression

I played in the Wall Street Game last night, taking 3rd place for $10 profit in the first game, and taking 4th in the second game after setting up a 4th place save, for even money. Overall, I won $10 on the night, and spent $8 on my chicken parm sandwich. Yeah, so I won a sandwich. Hurrah for me!

Tripjax recently wrote about the abundance of third place finishes he's received recently when playing SNGs. I suppose I am dealing with a similar issue, if only a tad more long-term and wide-spread. I can think of a handful of situations where I've gone out at the lowest money spot or on the bubble, way more than I can think of clean wins. In one weekend in AC, I bubbled a tournament at Showboat and then immediately took the last money spot in a tournament at the Resorts. In both instances, I felt like I played well, but I got taken out late when it was just a push-or-fold situation. In the Showboat tournament, I pushed preflop with AQ and was called by KQ, who hit his King by the river. In the Resorts tournament, I pushed with 77 only to be called by a VERY drunk, VERY bad player who happened to have JJ. Last night, both of my losses came when I was willing to bust out or double up. And in all of these instances, I am left with the feeling that, frankly, I wasn't wrong.

So, what to do? There is a fine line between cleverly aggressive and sloppily aggressive at or immediately after the money bubble.

On one hand, there are a lot of factors in favor of aggressive all-ins at or just after the money bubble bursts. By then the blinds are usually pretty high, so a push-or-fold strategy is often unavoidable. Then you have the fact that the other players likely want to fold into the money or into the next money spot, so there may be a lot of opportunities to win pots uncontested. Finally, there is the argument that you should always be playing for first. Aggression makes that possible in the late stages, since you could potentially build up a stack to put you in contention, assuming of course, that you are one of the shorter stacks. You may bust, but that is a risk that you might be willing to take if it provides you with an opportunity for the big first place money.

On the other hand, pushing all-in works every time but the last one. I've advocated reducing or elimitating all-in situations to maximize big MTTs. The basic argument is that you want to win parts without risking an all-in, since sooner or later, you will suffer a suckout or lose a race. In early stages, that means making small bets/raises. In late stages, once you enter push-of-fold mode, it means folding a heckuvalot more than pushing. When you have a reputation as a loose player, pushing with reckless abandon in late stages can be even more dangerous, since some players will call you, assuming you are full of crap. So, pushing all-in at the bubble or at the low payouts can be, at times, foolhardy rather than clever.

It's a tough balance and not one that I can figure out right now. It could be that I am remembering the near-misses moreso than my successes. It could also be that I merely have not played enough to even out the luck in these late stages. The fact that I'm even able to consistently make it deep in live tournaments is a good sign. It puts me in contention for a big win, even if I haven't hit that big win in a while. Perhaps I'm due and if I keep to my usual play, the luck will change and money will start rolling in. But I cannot accept that on its face without more support. I can only change myself, so if there is anything worth changing, that should be my only focus.

This is all a very tricky thing, especially since I am just discussing it in the abstract. But my poker calendar looks pretty busy going forward, so I'll have lots of time to test my ideas.

This weekend, I'll be likely heading to Atlantic City Saturday with Dave Ruff for a day trip, and playing at a mixed game homegame on Sunday. And a week later....Vegas.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:19 AM, ,

Four Out of the Five Best Preflop Hands

I played in the annual pre-Thanksgiving Day I Had Outs cash game on Wednesday. Initially, I expected to have Matty Ebs and bro-in-law Marc in tow, but by game time, both had dropped out. I, meanwhile, headed into the bowels of Brooklyn with the hope that I could make some headway in recovering my bankroll. Cash games at the Wall Street Game just haven't worked out for me in the past. It's gotten to the point where I am considering skipping at WS cash games in the future, although I expect to continue playing in the tournaments. Realistically speaking, my WS cash game hiatus will last as long as it takes for me to actually be able to attend one of those games (more often than not, my schedule doesn't match up with the games). But at least part of me is wary to return to the scene of my most recent losses.

IHO is not the WSG, so I made my way to Brooklyn. The train ride was uneventful, once I realized I was traveling in the wrong direction. Even with that detour, I arrived only 10 minutes late. By then, there were only four people (myself and host Dawn included), so we killed time with a quick, free 4-handed NLHE tournament. I went out first since there was no money on the line.

Once there were enough people, we all bought in for the max $50 for the .50/1 game. Some would argue that $50 is too small for a .50/1 game. Traditionally, 100x the BB is the most common max buy-in. However, I found the slightly shorter stacks rather comfortable. It wasn't as though we were buying in for 10x or 20x the big blind; and the slightly shorter stacks made for some more action.

Case in point: In the first hand, I am dealt KK. UTG, Dawn raises to $3. I re-raise to $8. Everyone folds to Dawn, who calls. The flop was QJ8, all spades. I had the King of spades in my hand. Dawn looked at her cards which told me that she likely didn't have a flush. She then checked. I believe I bet $15 or $16. She called. The turn was an offsuit Ten, giving me the 2nd nut flush draw, an open-ended straight draw, and an overpair. Here, Dawn bet out $20. If you do the math, you'll realize that her bet was just about all-in for both of us. So, I pushed. She called. I showed my KK and she showed 88, for a flopped set. I was behind the whole time, but on the river, a King came down and I felted her, set over set.

From there, I just played my game. Ron Lad showed up and livened up the table a bit. He has probably the second loosest table image at the game, behind me. Naturally, if Ron and I are at a table together, this means that we are also often in pots together. Call me crazy, but when I see someone playing lots of hands, I want to get in there and mix it up. I have confidence that my post-flop abilities will pay off when I need the time comes.

I was fairly tuned in on the table, and was able to continue the momentum set up by the initial KK v. 88 hand. I had amassed a nice stack when I took a smoke break on the balconey and returned to the weirdest string of hands. While I was outside, the game was continuing on, so it was like walking into the middle of a party already in session. I sat down, unsure of what happened over the last 5-10 minutes. This seems like a little thing, but its really the opposite. The mood at a table can change within minutes. If a player gets sucked out, his play might completely change. If you rely on your old reads, this can be very costly (or, conversely, you might miss the opportunity to make some easy money). If the table chatter is light and friendly, that also gives a hint to how the game is playing. There are times that I sit down at a table and its like playing poker in a funeral home. Everyone is quiet and dour. There are other times when half the players are falling off their chairs drunk, and everyone is laughing as they are stacked repeatedly. Even though I was playing in the game 10 minutes before, it almost felt like my reads were wiped out. And then I'm dealt,

The Hammer. The hammer is a hard hand to play in the best of circumstances. In this case, I was in early position with no reads on the table. I raised to $4, hoping to rely on the slightly inflated raise (I generally raised to $3) and my table image as the big stack lucksack. Everyone folded, surprisingly, and I tabled the hammer face up. I expected to go back to folding away, until I was dealt,

The Aces. The absurdity of the situation was not lost on me. One of the primary reasons to play the hammer is to set up a loose image so you get paid off when you have a hand. So, I did exactly what I did the hand before, and raised to $4 in EP, hoping to convince my opponents that I was pulling the same move again. I didn't expect everyone to call with crap cards, but this was a situation where I could probably get AK or AQ or ever AJ to pay me. Any high pair from TT up would also take a swing at that bet. It felt like an instant setup, until everyone folded. I showed the Aces. At this point, it was clear that I was getting no action at this table. I decided to play tight and redeem my image, since I'd only be called by strong hands. I expected to fold for a while, but my plan was thwarted, for the very next hand, I was dealt

The Queens. When I saw my hand, I was floored. It had been a while since I had seen good cards, and here I was getting dealt 3 out of the 5 best hands possible in a row (the complete 5 being AA, KK, QQ, AK, and 72o). I wasn't getting any action, so I just did what I did the last two times, betting $4. This time, though, Ron came in with a raise to $14. Ari calls and for some reason, I didn't know what to do. QQ is a great hand, but I had visions of KK, AA, or AK dancing through my head. If it was just Ron, I might've been more bold, but Ari was playing a fairly conservative game from what I could tell. I can't remember being in any other hands with her. And remember, this is the table where $4 took down the pot preflop twice. Suddenly we had a raise to $14, and an overcall! When it got back to me, I opted for a flat call. I wanted to see what I was getting myself into.

The flop came down T98. It wasn't the best flop, but it wasn't the worst either. I obviously had my overpair. I doubted anyone had two pair or a straight. My only concern was that they had AA, KK, TT, 99, or 88. If they had any of those hands, they would show it in their action. There was only one problem. I was first to act. I checked.

Ron checked behind me. This led me to believe that he had given up on the hand. I can't tell you what it was other than his overall demeanor. Whatever the case, his check was followed up by Ari's bet, $25. This was a pretty high bet for a .50/1 game with $50 max buy-ins. I took my time with my decision. If she had AA or KK, she would've probably re-raised preflop. If she has a set, I can still draw out on an inside straight draw. In the end, I felt that she could very easily have a lesser hand like JJ or she could even have nothing. After all, she had position and we both checked the scary flop. There was too good of a likelihood that I was ahead, and I had enough chips to follow my hunches. If Ron looked done with the hand, then it was just Ari and me and I liked my hand a lot better heads-up. I raised it up to $60. This surprised the table. Ari even gave me some light razzing about keeping it friendly. But if she bets $25 and I want to raise her, $60 is not so crazy. Ron folded and Ari thought. She looked pretty distraught, but I still internally fought with whether I wanted her to call or fold. Eventually she called. The turn was a 9. She only had another $25 or so, so I pushed all-in. She called. The river was another 9, giving me 9s full of Queens. She flipped over AT, for 9s full of Tens. I was ahead the whole way, but it was one of the trickier hands I've had to play due to the weird hands that preceded it.

After a while, we split to two tables. I was sent to the kids table, where the challah is stale and there is no salt for the matzoh ball soup. It was very interesting seeing the two tables. It was all done randomly, as it should, but our table had a bit more serious players. It made for tighter action. Meanwhile, it seemed like most of the loose players were at the TV table. The competition at the new table was a lot more dangerous, so I played a more conservative game. I eventually cashed out around 2 a.m. with over $300 profit.

I'll be playing at the Wall Street Game tomorrow night, and hopefully I can keep this streak alive and build my bankroll. I found a clever way to buy wifey Kim her Hanukkah gifts without her noticing on the credit card and debit card bills. I've been dipping into the poker wallet, and its actually been a bit fun. Especially since I plan on replacing it after the gifts are given. Booya!

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:53 PM, ,

Happy Thanksgiving!

posted by Jordan @ 2:08 PM, ,

Hi Vegas and High Variance

I played in two games last night, a $11 6-handed SNG and a $26 Token Frenzy. I won my token but lost the SNG in 4th place when I suffered a suckout for all of my chips. When it happened, I simply closed the window, maximized the $26 Frenzy window and moved on with my poker. I guess I've got that going for me.

Lately, whenever a negative thought crosses my mind, I return to one thing: Vegas. If you don't know by now, I will be attending the WPBT Winter Gathering from Dec. 6-9 this year. It will be my first time ever to Vegas with the blogging crew, and my third time to Vegas ever. The first time was with wifey Kim. She had a friend from college who moved to Vegas and a bunch of her college girl crowd all met up there. I spent most of my time with the boyfriend of the Vegas local, visiting assorted poker rooms while wifey Kim saw the Hoover Dam (where she allegedly said, "Wow, this was built by beavers?" -- although she denies saying this). I had a tough go in Vegas, suffering a string of bad luck, compounded by the overwhelming feeling one gets when he or she visits a site of great religious significance. Vegas is poker Mecca, and it was all too much for me to take in. If you are interested in reading more about this first stint, you can read about it in a post called Suckouts and Bluffing in Vegas. That post really was the protype for my future Trip Reports (all collected in the Trip Report Index)

The second time I was in Vegas was for Dave Roose's bachelor party. The trip was awesome, since I was surrounded by friends who could share in my poker degeneracy. I had a great time with my buddies and I loved playing excessive amounts of poker. For the most part, I was able to let my degenerate flag fly, with minor exceptions for when we did things as a group. Alas, I didn't have the best run of luck either, and then was summarily crushed by my inability to keep away from table games. It was an expensive lesson, but a lesson nonetheless. You can read about that trip in an 8-post Trip Report, starting with Arrival in Mecca, Adjusting for Conditions, Poker Oasis, Poker-Free Intermission, Losing Begets Losing, Tanned and Flushed, Winning Begets Winning, and finally, Decimation.

Now, when I am faced with life's indignities, I just think one thing. Vegas. My plan is very loose. All I know is that I'm staying at the Imperial Palace with PokerPeaker and will be playing the WPBT Tournament. Other than that, I'm just taking it as it comes. Dave Ruff and Timmy Bones will be in Vegas at the same time and will likely also play at the WPBT event. I'll probably join some NY bloggers for another tournament or two inspired by Baconkini Mary. I'd like to actually sit down and have a nice meal at some point with some random blogger brethren. But other than that, I just hope to go with the flow. Seems like enough of a plan to me.

I was looking back at some hands I saved. This one stood out to me because it exemplifies why I have had trouble closing the deal in recent tournaments.

I was in a $10+1 Knockout tournament on Full Tilt. I had over 21k in chips, with blinds of 400/800 and 100 antes. With TJo, I raised from the button to 3,200. Gray, the SB, called with 49k in chips. The BB folded.

The flop was AJT, rainbow. He checked, and I pushed all-in for about 18k into the ~8k pot. He called with KJ, and then turned his King.

In hindsight, he actually had 10 outs: three Kings, four Queens for a straight, and three Aces for two-pair Aces and Jacks with a better kicker.

Some of you may see this hand and wonder why I'm making a play with JTo preflop. Ostensibly, its a steal, which is something most of us can understand. But it is also a lot more than that.

My preferred style of play is very aggressive. This often leads to situations where (a) I hit hands that people do not expect, and (b) I get paid off by inferior hands because my opponents do not respect my copious raises.

It's not a bad style of play. But it can be HIGH variance, because people are more likely to call you, and therefore, there are more opportunities to suck out. I have previously advocated playing tight to avoid all-in confrontations. I think that is also a very smart, winning strategy. But it is not the only one, and it is definitely not the style that fits me best on most occasions.

In that particular hand, I started off with a steal with cards that had a lot of potential against callers. The flop was ideal. The AJT flop put me way ahead of any preflop callers who had an Ace and not AJ or AT (very unlikely, given the fact that I had one Ten and one Jack and the board had one of each). This isn't rocket science. These are the types of situations that can really pay off.

So, when it checked to me, I pushed. I was okay with taking down the already sizeable pot (8k+). And, if he had a strong Ace, like AK or AQ, he'd likely call and I'd be in good shape to double through him. As it turned out, he called me with second pair, second-best kicker. I didn't expect that, but I damn well invited it. It was a poor play on his part, but he probably saw my aggressiveness and figured that I was making a play with an underpair. All things fell into place and he called almost 1/2 of his chips with that crap hand. The fact that he hit is almost neglible.

ALMOST, being the key word. I keep going deep, but I keep falling short. When I look back at recent results, though, I see a definite pattern. My opponents' loose calling requirements are generally at fault. I can control that by establishing a tighter image. But I do not want to do this. In the past, I wrote that when I do win tournaments, I usually work up a dominating stack. That is the other end of this high variance style. Ultimately, if I switch styles now, I will not be ready when my luck has come in.

This has all given me new long-term perspective. But before I get to the long-term, I get to go to Vegas. And now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll return there now in my mind.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:27 AM, ,

If Winning Was Only So Easy

I've been playing a lot better than I was a mere week ago. The major difference is that I am back to paying attention and I've renewed my commitment to folding when I am behind (in other words, I'm willing to fold in difficult situations). Still, my results have been less than stellar. I'm up to $70 or so on FullTilt, still at around $20 on Stars and down to under $10 on The main problem is that I am focusing on MTTs on Stars and, so results are slow going. I am consistently making into the top 20% of tournaments, including my run to 11th out of 51 in the Big Game last night (technically just over the 20% mark), but I have yet to seal the deal. I think the next major leak to adjust is my short-handed game. I moved away from the style I advocated in my post, Short-Stack Specialist. Now, I find myself taking too many chances pushing all-in for a steal. Last night, for instance, with blinds of 600-1200 and antes of 100+, I pushed in the SB with QJ when everyone folded. I was called by, I believe, CMitch of O-Poker in the BB with AKo. Truthfully, I don't hate the play, since CMitch and I were both at around 8,500, but I probably should have just folded and waited for a great spot.

Then again, this really isn't the best example of haphazard pushing in the late stages of a tournament. When pushing in that situation, you need to consider what your opponent might possibly have. The vast majority of the time, he will have a weak hand and will fold. Now let's examine his calling range. He will probably call with a pair. Any pair up to TT is okay with me, since I have two overcards, for a virtual cointoss. I don't love a cointoss, but when you add the fold-equity, it makes a possible cointoss more palatable. JJ and QQ would dominate me, but are unlikely, since I have one of each. KK and AA would also suck, but the likelihood of having those hands is less than 1%. Then we have the unpaired cards that might call. I presume that a lot of the weak Aces (A2-A6) would probably fold, fearing that they will be dominated. Even AK, which is what CMitch actually had, isn't that bad. In that situation, I still have a 35% chance to win. It's not ideal, but given the range of cards possible (literally 72o to AA), I wasn't too concerned with one particular hand like AK (or the aforementioned AA and KK). AQ, KQ, AJ, and KJ were also ugly possibilities that might call, but overall, I felt confident that pushing was the right move. Now, I am not so sure, and I am curious to see if anyone else has an opinion they would like to share. It all brings me back to something I believe Gavin Smith or Joe Sebok said on their podcast, nee Cardplayer's The Circuit, nee's podcast. Basically, one of them said that there comes a point in a tournament when you are happy to see a cointoss. I don't know if I 100% agree, but it is nice to get a professional's opinion.

All of this is to say that while I feel better about my play, my results have been lacking. Still, when you go deep in tournaments and fail to cash, it is not a complete loss. At the very least, I am putting myself in striking distance, and when I hit, it will hopefully pay for the losses before it. And really, online poker is just a silly videogame anyway (or so I keep trying to convince myself).

Wifey Kim and I are watching my parents' cat again. He's mellowed out from his kitten craziness from past visits. Amazingly, its actually kinda nice having the furball around. Just last night, he laid next to me as I played the Big Game. It's oddly soothing to pet a cat while playing poker. Now I just need to find a way to bring the cat to Vegas for the WPBT tournament.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:22 AM, ,

Maybe Just Two

One games turns into two. Two losses, that is.

Yesterday was a dedicated wifey Kim and Jordan day. When I got home, wifey Kim had dinner waiting. After dinner, she was flipping through the DVR and ended up watching a show I had already seen. Since I planned to spend the rest of the evening with my girl, I figured one SNG wouldn't hurt. I chose a $10 PLO8 SNG on FT. There isn't much worth mentioning. I eventually got most of my chips all-in along with four other players. I had the second nut low, but naturally someone had the nuts. It was really a god aweful play by me, but I have trouble discerning when I'm getting too cautious in PLO8 tournaments. In a cash game, I'm okay with being more cautious, but PLO tournaments tend to bring out a special breed of PLO donk. Apparently, myself included.

I spent the rest of the evening with wifey Kim until she fell asleep. I'm a late sleeper, so I opted for one more game. I remember thinking that I should probably hold true to my One Game rule, but since I had the time and the dough, what harm could one more game do. I opted for a $5 turbo MTT on Long-story-short, I lost in the middle of the pack after my JJ fell to AJ, crippling me. So goes poker.

I was emailing with DP this morning and he reminded me of a story involving some Xanax and an airplane. Its a pretty fun story, so I thought I would share it with you today.

Junior year of college, me and about 16 of my buddies went to Spring Break in Cancun, Mexico. After a week in sun and fun, I had finally accepted the fact that all good things must come to an end. Two of my buddies, though, didn't want to leave, and literally disappeared, just as we were waiting for our ride to the airport. All of this was stressing me out. My other buddy, Ryan, was one of the slicker guys in our crowd. He passed me some generic over-the-counter sleeping pills after I told him I needed to relax.

Everything worked out, and I found myself at the airport with 16 of my buddies and a slew of other people from my college. The cheapo pills did nothing for me, and I could see that I had hours to wait for our delayed flight. The place looked like a refugee camp, with people lying all over the airport.

Ryan had bumped into some of his friends at the airport and came over to me cupping something in his hand. He dropped it into my palm. "Xanax," he told me. "This will help you relax for the flight."

With nothing to do and nowhere to go, I figured I would pop the pill. I was never much of a pill-popper. I think most people my age have tried a couple of different pharmies. The kids two years younger have probably all tried many more. But Xanax was new to me. My depth of knowledge was relatively shallow. All I knew (or thought I knew) was that it was a painkiller. I expected that it would make me feel a bit lightheaded and relaxed, and I would have a smooth flight back to the US of A.

When I woke up, I was in my bed in Buffalo, NY. I was still wearing my clothing from the night and flight before. I remembered snippets of the evening. My buddy Shelly running around the airport; talking to pal Jefe during the flight before leaning my head against the seatback in front of me; petting a dog; lying on the floor. These things were really just blurs. Things I could vaguely remember, like flashcards from the night before.

Within my first 24 hours back in the US, my fraternity had a meeting. Before and after that meeting, I was able to recreate my trip back to the US, thanks to the testimony of friends and acquaintances.

Shelly: "Man, you and I almost had to stay in Mexico. While we were waiting for the flight inside the terminal, you were just zoned out listening to some strangers' boombox. When our flight was called, we got you over to the gate, but you couldn't find your ticket. I leaned you against a wall and ran back to the metal detector. I don't know how, but I found it there. The Mexican guys working the metal detector thought it was hysterical. I had to book all the way back to the gate with seconds to spare before they closed the door. If I didn't find that ticket, you would've been stranded in Mexico. You were in such bad shape, I knew I would've had to stay with you."

Me: "Really? What? Okay. Um, thanks Shell. I owe you one."

Later that evening...

Jefe: "You were so weird last night. What was going on with you on the flight?"

Me: "What? What are you talking about? I slept the whole flight!"

Jefe: "Not exactly, J. You were mumbling the whole time. You were leaning forward with your head plastered to the seat in front of you, just mumbling. When the flight attendant came by, we couldn't even
understand what drink you were trying to order. You were gone."

Me: "You've got to be kidding me?! I don't remember any of this. How did I get home?"

Jefe: "You don't remember the dog?"

Me: "I do, sorta. Why do I remember a dog?"

Jefe: "When we got back to Buffalo, there was a drug or bomb sniffing dog checking us all out as we got off of the plane. You kept on wanting to pet the doggy. We had to pull you away."

Me: "Really?" I could remember a German Shepard of sorts. "How did we get back to our apartment. It was my car?"

Jefe: "I drove. When we got to the luggage carousel, you really lost it. You just kept saying, 'GET ME HOME! WE ARE IN BUFFALO! I DON'T NEED MY SHORTS AND BATHING SUIT HERE! LEAVE THE LUGGAGE! You were lying flat on the floor with your arms out light a starfish."

Me: "Wha?" By then, it was all coming back to me.

Jefe: "We got you home and you just passed out in your bed."

And that, folks, was how I learned not to take unprescribed pharmaceuticals, especially during international travel. Now, I just need to find the time to tell the story of how I learned not to drink on international flights.

Until next time, make mine poker!

This post sponsored by the fine folks at the GNUF poker room. *****

posted by Jordan @ 11:09 AM, ,

Our Little Secret

I played the Mookie last night and lost in the middle of the pack. About 30 minutes into the tourney, wifey Kim got home from a wine tasting event with some of her friends. She had a tough day yesterday, including a trip to the doctor's office, a fight with my dentist, and the realization that moving jobs is highly unlikely. We ran the numbers and realized that a lot of the hidden incentives, like her amazing insurance, my firm's crappy insurance and $600/mo. fee to add her, and some other benefits made her current salary a lot higher than it at first appears. On one hand that last realization is a good one, since she has come to realize just how much she loves the people she works with. My policy has always been that the people are the most important aspect of any job. But still, that realization was a hard one, if for no other reason than the fact that it negated the months of effort she has put forth to find a better alternative.

So, when wifey Kim got home, it was fairly clear that she could use some company. I love her like no other, so I walked away from the computer with so little a fuss that she did not even realize that I was playing. I joined her in the bedroom where we talked for 15 minutes or so instead of watching some mindless television. She was pretty tipsy from the wine tasting and I could see that she was nodding off. I stayed with her as she fell asleep, happy and peaceful. When I heard that gentle breath, I knew she was out. I waited another 10 minutes or so in order to enjoy our time together. And then I threw down some smoke bombs and disappeared from the room ninja style.

Once outside the bedroom, I ran, steathily, to the computer. I was still over the starting stack thanks to some early wins. But I would be out within the hour. It all came down to cointosses. Nothing spectacular in any way. After busting, I felt like playing another, but I held fast to my One Game rule. After a while, I returned to bed, and using my ninja skills, retook my spot next to wifey Kim and eventually fell asleep.

This morning, wifey Kim was still drying off from her shower as I woke up. "We left the candle on last night," she told me. This has happened before, but since I usually am the last one awake, the candle-snuffing responsibilities are largely mine. In the past, wifey Kim had shown true concern over my random slip ups as a candle-snuffer. Her fears, of course, are that the candle, unwatched, will somehow cause a fire, ignoring the obvious fact that said candles are all safely contained within glass jars with the trendy Yankee Candle label.

Realizing that I forgot to snuff the candle, I offered an apology. "Sorry, honey." Her response: "It's okay. We went to bed at the same time last night, so it was both of our faults." It was at that moment that I realized how successful my ninja skills were. While wifey Kim slumbered, I had successfully escaped from her patented Head-on-Shoulder Shaolin Pin manuever. Escape from such a hold takes derringdoo, concentration, and above all fortitude. At any moment those eyes can open when your opponent's head is moved, with that post-sleep look that can see through a man's soul. Once I had escaped that manuever, I had to circumvent the Bed of a Thousand Deadly Springs, each of which, once activated by my shifting weight, would sound wifey Kim's tactical alarms. To escape the Thousand Deadly Springs, one must shift his weight first on the foot closest to the end of the bed. Once that foot is free and touching stable ground, one must carefully flatten oneself out, so that one's weight is evenly distributed amongst the Deadly Springs. After that, the next step is to slowly, but smoothly roll off of the bed, remaining parallel to the ground. Any attempt to stand directly from the Deadly Springs will trigger those evil coils and cause the bed to shift in a manner sure to awaken my captor.

Safe and free from the Deadly Springs and the Shaolin Pin, I made my way to the door, careful to avoid the Pit of Sharp Shoes surrounding the bed. After deftly avoiding the Pit, I had one last obstacle before completing my exit, the Creaking Door! The key to the Creaking Door is to move it as little as possible. I entered my Flat Paper Stance, and exited the room with minimal noise.

Out in the hallway, I stopped and flicked the light switch. A ray of light shown across the bed. I stopped and looked at Wifey Kim, as peaceful as she was before my escape began. I reflected for a bit. My captor means the world to me. I joke here about "escaping", but I truly cherish wifey Kim and she can capture me any day.

Oh yeah, and then I lost the Mookie. I should've stayed in the trap.

And do me a favor. Don't tell Kim. She still thinks I went to be with her, and that I am not solely responsible for the burning candle.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 5:43 PM, ,

One Game

Faced with my dwindling online roll (less than $50 each on three different sites; less than $150 total) and my renewed frustration of this videogame form of poker (my problem, not online poker's problem), I wondered idly what I should do with myself last night. While wifey Kim waded through the claptrap that is Dancing with the Stars: The Results Show!, I opened up all three of my poker sites, FullTilt, Stars, and, and perused my options.

The biggest problem my bankroll faced was that I didn't care about bankroll management. About two or three months into 2007, I decided to stop following my online poker results on a daily basis. Rather, I would only count the winnings that I withdrew and the losses that I deposited. After a break-even online poker run in 2006 (I won $3000 live), it just appeared to me that online poker would be little more than a game for me. It's a way to feed the poker crave, but not something that I had to take too seriously. I withdrew most of my money from online poker and returned to my earlier ways, playing $10 SNGs and MTTs, mostly.

Eventually, I won a large guaranteed tournament. Rather than leave the money online, I withdrew all but $50 of the $3150 profit. At the time, I needed to refill my live bankroll, and I wanted to spend some of that hard-earned poker money on my wife. After all, what is the point of spending time winning money if it would not make my and my wife's life better.

After that, I continued playing on a short roll. Bankroll considerations weren't an issue because I hadn't gone broke online in years. Having 100x your buy-in is nice, but when you win relatively regularly, you can get away with 20x your buy-in and when you no longer care about consequences, 10x your buy-in. In the end, I would just rationalize, "If I lose this $11 tournament, I'll still have 9 more tries to win."

Of course, eventually, this thinking leads to escalating levels. The cheaper tournaments were not feeding my need, so I began playing $20 and $30 games. Suddenly, 10x the buy-in became 2x the buy-in. Then I began playing NLHE cash games, and would literally buy-in for my entire roll on various tables.

As a result, here I am, with a depleted roll and a need to rethink how I play poker online. Yesterday, I may have stumbled upon an answer.

On my worst days, usually a dull weekend day when nothing is happening, I will play MTT after MTT or SNG after SNG. I'd eventually take a break and start a new one 15 minutes later. In the last two weekends, I ran into bad runs, where I would lose an MTT due to a suckout and immediately enter another one, only to fall to another suckout. Suckouts stink, but what sucked even more was that somehow, playing a string of tournaments only compounded the effect. I felt like I couldn't win, and when you feel that way, you can't win.

I looked through the tourneys last night and considered putting my entire FullTilt roll on the line in an MTT. A Stars MTT that caught my eye would cost me about 1/2 of my Stars roll. The only things coming up on's scheduled MTTs was a $2 rebuy. $2 rebuy. Let's just ponder that again. I hadn't played a $2 rebuy in well over a year. Yet for some reason, it called my name yesterday. The amount of players was pitifully low, with just minutes to spare before its start time. I signed up, and by the time the game started, there were only 14 players. 14 players in a $2 rebuy, with rebuys for an hour. Just crazy.

But the craziest part was, I played extremely well. Part of it was the fact that I didn't care about the money too much. I didn't want to rebuy like it was a Friday Donkament because I didn't expect my opponents to rebuy enough to make it worth my time. But I did play a bit extra aggressive, confident in my ability to rebuy and get back in the game. Ultimately, I busted due to a suckout, and then on my next buy-in dropped to under 300 (starting stacks of 2000) after another suckout. But since it was a rebuy, the losses didn't sting. I was just happy that my opponent sucked, so it would be easier to get my money back.

Amazingly, from 300, I was the chipleader within 10 hands. By the time the rebuys were over, I was in the middle of the pack. I played smart, aggressive poker, and accumulated a monster stack as a result. I was exploiting the other players' fears, and when the dust cleared, there were 5 players left and I had 25k, compared to my next opponents' 10k. I then used a trick I learned from Lucko and extended the bubble by folding to the small stack while I attacked the medium stacks. Ultimately, when we were ITM, three-way, I had a good lead.

By HU, my opponent, having busted 3rd place, was about even in chips with me. Eventually, I lost, but I was still happy about how I played. I was in control of my game the entire time. I felt reenergized. And then I shut down my computer.

One tournament. That is all. One tournament to remind me why I love this game (online or live). One tournament to prevent me from letting the game turn into a string of electrical cards, as opposed to a game of skill and chance. One tournament to keep me focused at the task at hand. One tournament to remind me that this is a game we play for money and pride, and not something we do as a rote task. The money wasn't great, but the game was.

So, hopefully that is my solution. One tournament a night. Make it count, and then sit out. I do not need to be playing poker to the extent that I had fallen into the last few weekends. I need to sacrifice my time more to attend live games, whether they be in Queens with Roose or in Brooklyn with the IHO girls. Whatever the case, I will continue playing online poker, but I will maintain my control and will. And I will hopefully gain insight into the game from doing this, instead of repeating the cycle of mindless poker followed by foolish losses.

It's not about the money. It's about the game.

Oh, and tonight, I expect my One Game to be the Mookie.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:56 AM, ,

The State of My Poker

I had a weekend much like the one before it. After withdrawing a large chunk (well over 50%) of my roll on FullTilt, I went about playing a variety of games. Specifically, I was playing 6-max NLHE, mostly $50 and $100 max tables. The results were disasterous. Long story short, my FullTilt bankroll now sits at around $25. My Stars bankroll is thereabouts as well. My bankroll, which used to be around $25 has gone up to $35, thanks to some HU SNG wins, the one positive spot in my Saturday of poker. But in the end, I face the same reality. Where to go from here?

I considered canceling my FullTilt withdrawal, but couldn't find out how to do that. In a way, I'm glad I couldn't find it. After all, I want that cash. I need it, in fact, to replace the $400 I lost on Friday at the Wall Street Game. That game, $1/2 NL, was fairly brutal too. I couldn't get anything going, was fairly carddead, and then, ultimately lost my last $160 or so when my opponent hit a set with his 7s against my Queens. If I win that hand, I'm down less than $100 on the night, but that's just not how it worked out.

Both in live and online play, I ran into the same situation. I mostly focused on certain players that were playing extremely loose-aggressive. My goal was to see flops cheap with them and/or get into big pots with solid cards. I didn't wait for AA or KK. An 88 would do, and in some instances, a couple of highcards worked. These players were atrociously loose. But it seemed like whenever I had something, my LAG opponents had something better, whether it was the LAG who had AK to beat my AJ in a HU cash game after he literally raised and re-raised 2 out of 3 hands for about 100 hands, or if it was the guy who caught his set with 7s against Queens.

This is partially variance. It is also partially my fault, since I guess my poker radar is a tad off. I was remembering early this yeah at the NiceLook Club, which was actually called the FairView Club (it has since been raided by the cops and shut down, so anonymity is no longer an issue). I was playing 1/2 NL there relatively regularly and doing extremely well. I felt in tune with the game, and my decision-making was usually spot-on. The last two weekends online, I've felt the exact opposite. I'm never comfortable with my reads or play, and I'm essentially doing exactly what Freude would say: I am punishing myself through poker. It is as though I want to lose.

My real concern, though, is my annual goal to win $5,000, and my upcoming poker trips. I am now just under the $5k mark, due to those recent losses. I'm going to Vegas in December with the bloggers and AC for Xmas with my Jewish family. These are both wonderful things. However, I know what it is like to go to Vegas or AC during a bad luck swing. It can be devastating to one's confident and bankroll. Since my goal is to hit that $5k mark, I suddenly feel like I HAVE TO WIN in Vegas and AC. This is not the way to play poker.

It's moments like this that I remember why I cannot be a professional poker player. I have yet to resolve that part of me that hurts when I lose. Perhaps its pride or avarice or narcissism that makes me turn on myself when I'm not doing as well as I should. Whatever it is, I need a pridectomy or avaricectomy or narcissectomy, because I cannot continue to grow with this part of me standing in my way.

This is not to say that Jordan is all sad panda, to borrow a phrase from a certain gimp. I have not given up on this game, but I have once again chosen to re-evaluate my online play. I need to keep it low. Even though I love reading about fellow bloggers' trials and tribulations at stakes that matter, I will toil in the fields of the common pauper as penance for my past indiscretions. I cannot leave the fields I plow because from them grows the fruits of experience necessary for my true vocation, live poker.

Where this live poker will be in the future is lost to me. My goal the last four years were to win $1200, $1800, $3000, and now $5000. I have been successful every year so far, and I hope to be successful again this year. Still, I have to consider what the new year will hold. While I would love to create a new goal with five digits, I just don't think that its realistic. I have promised people that I will no longer go to NYC's underground clubs, and I expect to maintain that promise for the most part. The Wall Street Poker games seem to fill up faster than I can check my email, so I have not been able to play there as often as I would like. The Financial Game in midtown is sporadic. The IHO tournaments are often difficult to work within my schedule.

Facing that dearth of live games and my troubles online (its still just a videogame to me), how can I conceivably increase my yearly goal next year?

Ultimately, these will be the issues I tackle over the next month.

I apologize for the general tone this blog has taken over the last week, but you get Jordan unfiltered. Poker has been tough. But in the end, life is still good.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:53 PM, ,

Bring It: My Challenge to the Unwashed Masses

I've been thinking a lot about this blog, the blogging community, and poker. I've been unable to play in most of the BBTwo events, and since I'm missing out on the mass consumption of donkfoolery, I've decided that I need to get back into the mix. But since I don't have the time or ability to put aside three days a week for bloggerments, I've got to find a new angle.

What's a man to do when he likes tournament poker but doesn't have the time for tournaments? Heads-up SNGs. But how does this involve the blogger-world.

Simply put, bring it, beeches. I personally consider myself to be a pretty good student of the HU game, so I'm ready to take on anyone in a best of three or best of five series. If you sweep me, I'll take any comers, at any stake between $1 and $20 (and potentially more on an individual basis). I will even let you choose the game (PL and NL only...due to time constraints) and whether it is turbo or regular. I also have to forego the Stars HU matches with static blinds (blinds don't go up) due to time constraints. But otherwise, I'm fair game.

Full Tilt is prefered, but I can play on Stars (up to $10/match) or (up to $10/match).

You might be saying to yourself, "but Jordan, why would I challenge you? Besides my jealousy over your good looks and large than average scrotum, why would I care whether I could beat you in HU Poker?" I'm glad you asked, but let's leave my scrotum out of it.

If you sweep me in a best of 5 series, I'll send you an extra buy-in for the level of tourney we played. In other words, win 3, get one free! And, if you act now, you can challenge me to a best of three match, and if you sweep, I'll send you...well, nothing. Sorry, dude, but two in a row?!

Any time I win or lose, you'll hear about it here. And, hell, just for the fun of it, I'll add your link on my very exclusive side bar.

I will take challengers as they come forward. Once we have arranged a time, I HIGHLY recommend that we coordinate the start of the HU SNGs via Yahoo or AOL instant messenger. Look for me as highonpokr (no E) on Yahoo IM. I don't usually turn on AOL IM, but we can work that out when we choose a general time to play via email.

If you are interested, you can click on that perty tab at the top of my site (right above the HoP banner) to get my email address.

On an unrelated note, I read this fine tip from Phil Ivey, thanks to a link from Skidoo. Ivey pretty much says that it is fine and dandy to read up on poker, but ultimately, you have to play the game that feels right to you. It's something I've said here before. You have to play YOUR game to ultimately succeed. If you are playing someone else's game, you will inevitably fail. But I think Ivey says it a tad more eloquently and with a bit more authority (but just a bit).

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:47 PM, ,

Survivor Watch 2007 : Jean-Robust

Survivor Watch 2007 has come to a close, with Jean-Robert Bellande ousted in 9th place. In Jean-Robert's own words: "If I were to relate what happened to a game of poker, I pushed all-in and it didn't work out for me, but I'm playing for first."

Jean-Robert, pronounced John-Ro-Bear had a decent run as a Survivor, but his position as town jerk made him an inevitable loser in the game of social interaction. Still, J-R brought some interesting twists to the game of Survivor, making moves never before seen in the game in 15 seasons.

J-R first wowed the Survivor world by confronting a skinny gay flight attendant on the first day to tell him (paraphrased): "I'm onto you. I know you are going to be making moves." The man-stewardess' reply: "Jean-Robert read me dead-on." Amazingly, never before has a player confronted another player so early in the game. Certainly, it's never been done with such a level of scheming and aggression.

J-R next revolutionized the game with Operation Low Expectations. Even though J-R is a behemoth of a man compared to the majority of his fellow castaways, J-R intentionally did little work for the first 10 days. According to the debonair Robert, "When I start working a little bit next week, they'll all be so amazed and impressed." Admittedly, this embedded reporter originally thought J-R had signed his own walking-papers with his unorthodox laze, but two episodes later the rest of camp sang the praises of J-R.

Alas, all good things come to an end, and eventually J-R became too big of a target. Even though he ostensibly had the numbers (at merge, his original tribe had 6 members to the other tribe's 3), J-R also had the mouth. When he learned a tad too late that there were hidden immunity idols in play, he did what any self-respecting poker player would do. First chase from behind by searching for the already found idols; then bluff to a weak player by claiming that he had the immunity idol; then, after learning that one of his own tribemates had the idols and a clear advantage, colluding by getting other players to join in a secret blindsiding attack against the guy with the idols. Eventually, it all turned around on J-R. Word got around that he was making moves and the other players used J-R's obnoxious reputation to justify their decision.

If there is one saving grace, it is that J-R made it to the jury. In a few weeks time when the show reaches its finale, J-R will have one more opportunity to get in front of the cameras and represent poker players. He may be a dickhead, but he's OUR dickhead.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:11 PM, ,

Any Angle Will Do

I had a fun time at poker last night. My early evening was spent with a handful of my buddies from high school. We met up at Hill Country, an odd BBQ in the City. For you Southerners, the BBQ in NY isn't exactly what you might be used to. Certainly, the BBQs in NY try to be like their Southern origins, but due to laws against open smokers, its tricky for NY BBQs to get the right effect. Still, there are some decent options in the city. Hill Country, unfortunately, was just borderline.

Basically, the restaurant is "Market Style" which means you get seated at a table, where a server gets you your drinks. You then go up to different counters for meat, sides, dessert, etc. The counters put a mark or sticker on your card, and when you leave, you hand your card to a cashier and he tallies up your meal. I went with a mix of beef and pork ribs, and split three sides with my compadres: mac & cheese, corn pudding and cornbread. I'm a pork ribs kinda guy, but the pork was over-seasoned with too much peppercorn and salt in certain bites. The beef ribs were definitely better, with a lessened amount of peppercorn, although the salt was still fairly heavy. The sides were adequate. The cornbread was probably the best of the bunch. I'm also an avid mac & cheese fan, and theirs was too heavy on the sharp cheddar. In mac & cheese, the cheddar is supposed to give the dish a nice subtle bite to it as an accent. This was all cheddar, so what would be a nice touch became overbearing.

Still, the beer was cold...and free. The waitresses are supposed to charge you for your drinks. I suppose they bring a check or something as you order them. All I know is that we waited around for twenty minutes and asked three times for our drink check and each time they told us, "Just pay at the register." I was still fairly certain that drinks were paid for at the table, but who was I to argue. After we left, I asked the guys, "Did we pay for our beers?" Jon and Dan nodded no. Then Josh walked out of the restaurant, "I told them about my beer at the register." SUCKA!

After another drink at a local Swiss-themed bar, I headed home to play in the Mookie. I was home at about 9pm, and fought the temptation to play. After a while of watching television, I fired up the comp and saw a 4-person HU SNG for $20 ready to go on Full Tilt. I jumped in and was seated with my first competitor.

After about ten hands, I noticed that my opponent was taking his time on every decision. I love to play HU, and this is generally a rare thing. In situations like this, I highly recommend that you do the due diligence to determine what your opponent is up to. In this case, I checked to see if my opponent was sitting at any other tables. He was. In fact, he was two-tabling with a $5 HORSE HU SNG.

So, while he was taking his dear, sweet time before calling or folding or whatnot, I was studying his play at the other table. HORSE and NLHE are not interchangeable, and he might very well play one differently than the other. But I could take advantage of his general demeanor during play, and exploit any opportunities that arose from this peculiar situation. For instance, if I saw him raise in the HORSE SNG, I'd raise in my SNG. I figured that if he was raising at HORSE, he would want to focus on that hand, since it likely had potential. Hopefully, this would get him to fold marginal hands at my table. And it worked. In fact, I began raising with ATC, once I got the timing right. I also knew to fold right away if I faced some opposition, since my opponent would only play back at me if he had a hand. After all, it's not easy playing two HU games simultaneously. It's also not easy to play two SNGs of different games at the same time. It's also not easy to play a HORSE SNG with any other game, since HORSE's game keeps changing. Add these things together and you got yourself a player who is too distracted for his own good.

Eventually, my opponent busted in his HORSE SNG. After watching him the entire time, I saw that my little secret advantage was out the window, so I switched to Phase 2 of the plan. "Bad luck in that HORSE SNG," I typed into the chat box. It wasn't really bad luck. He just played poorly. Still, this was my way of telling him that I was watching him. Many people think that you should hide such facts. I'm in agreement that you shouldn't announce your secret advantage while in play; but once that advantage is neutralized, outting yourself can be a useful tool. In this instance, it did a few things. First, it rubbed some salt in his wound. I knew he just lost. Most HU players are egotistical. I was hoping to tilt him by pointing out his failure. Second, I was letting him know that I was playing attention to his play and that I was working angles against him. Perception-control is a huge advantage in this game. I was announcing to him that I knew his moves, had studied him even. Once again, my goal was to tilt my opponent. If he thinks I know his moves, he may leave his standard game, which so far was fairly tight. I needed to loosen him up for some of my last stage aggression. I wanted him to bite on my raise bait once I had the goods.

Eventually, everything fell into place and I took out my opponent when he called me with a King-high hand preflop against my Ace-high hand. He was not even that short, but I had been betting and raising fairly hard. My Ace held up, and I was onto the next competitor. Nothing too exciting about this one. We played a long game, but I eventually won; easy enough.

Then I played the Mookie. Nothing to see here. Basically, I just played poorly and got all-in with AQ and a Q-high board against someone's QQ. Lemon!

So goes poker. Ironically, even though I won $60 profit from the HU game, I still felt like it was a losing session after busting from the Mook. I guess money isn't everything.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:52 AM, ,

You Decide #56 Answer Sheet

So, here we go. Some people asked how I would choose the "right move." This is a good question. The right move is the move in which you'll make the most money or lose the least. In these hands, you'll see it fairly clearly, with the exception of Hand 1. So, let's get on with the show and I'll explain as we go.

Hand #1 - The way I see it, this is a mandatory fold with AA. My luckbox opponent's small bet on the KJ2 flop could have been a value bet or a weak semi-bluff. That is why I raised 5x. I wanted to take down the hand right away, and the only one calling a 5x raise is an inferior, dominated hand like AK or KQ. If my opponent has the goods, like KJ or 22, he's going to push all-in. Admittedly, he might push with AK too, but I held two Aces so that hand combination was very unlikely. The only possible draw is an OESD, so I don't have to fear a push with a drawing hand in this situation. These were deep stacks, so I inevitably decided that I had to fold. AA is a great hand, but its preflop value shouldn't blind you to the situation at hand. So, if you guessed Fold, I'm giving you a win. Technically, I didn't see my opponents' hand, but we won't have that problem in any of the other hands. Answer: Fold.

Hand #2 - In this case, I folded, but the other players ended up all-in. I flopped the Jack-high flush in a PLO8 hand where no low is likely, but when I checked to set up a check-raise, the other two players bet big and then raised all-in. Jack-high flushes are scary hands in PLO. They can easily be the type of hands that lose your entire stack. You hit your flush, you push hard, and you run into a Q-high flush or a K- or A-high flush. In this particular instance, it felt like I had to be behind, so I folded. The board was A26, all spades. When the players flipped their cards, Sonny had 2447, with no spades, and Papa had AK45, with the 4 and 5 of spades. I was way ahead to win half the pot, facing a freaking weak low and a lower flush. But, I folded and I'm still not sure if my fold was correct. Still, if you chose Call, you made the right call, since you'd be rolling in that casheesh while I'm busy folding. Answer: Call.

Hand #3 - We were heads up with an uber aggressive BB after flopping a Jack-high flush draw in a PLO8 game. A low didn't look likely. After turning our flush (and ensuring no low), Talen raised all-in. MeanHappy was correct that the play in this hand didn't make sense since he raised more than pot. I do not recall the exact situation now, but I think he may've bet 750 on the turn and then raised all-in for 2k+ on the river. Most of you just played along with the information available, and I thank you for that. Unfortunately, Raj, my outsourced blog writer (Jordan hasn't written a blog entry since late 2005), must be slacking on the editingggg. Whatever the case, I made the call with my Jack-high flush. My opponent showed Ts Qh Jd Kd, for a straight, and we took down the pot. In this instance, heads up, I was not as concerned about a higher flush. I played the hand very passively, so it was also a lot more likely that my opponent was willing to go to war with a set or, as it turned out, a straight. Hell, I could even see him get uber aggressive after flopping top two pair if he reads me as a weak calling station. Answer: Call.

Hand #4 - After flopping a very hidden top and bottom two pair on a 973 board, I checked, only to have one player overbet the pot huge and the other player push all-in. I opted to fold, since the action made little sense. If the first guy didn't have a set, the second guy did. Alas, I gave them too much credit. The original bettor, Nord had JJ. The raiser, Moose had TT. If I called I would have won the hand, but I folded, probably overcautious, although I am still shocked at my opponents' willingness to go broke with a small overpair. Regardless, calling would've netted the most profit. Answer: Call.

After reviewing the hands and the submissions, I'd like to congratulate the only person who suggested Fold, Call, Call, Call. Congratulations to my Vegas roommate, PokerPeaker. For his trouble, Peaker wins $11! Peaker, I won a $10 45-person SNG last night on Full Tilt, so I'll let you decide how to get the dough. $11 from Stars, FullTilt, or some random table game in Vegas. Any of those work for me.

That's it for today. As I mentioned, I won a 45-person SNG last night for $160 profit at FullTilt. The timing was perfect, since I was down to about $50 in that account. I've still been missing all of the BBTwo games, but hopefully that will change soon. Life has just been too hectic.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:21 PM, ,

You Decide #56

Before my horrid bad luck swing, I copied a series of hands where I made, what I considered, correct plays. I would like some of your input. The key to these hands in particular is whether or not I should fold. I won't tell you the results until tomorrow, so take a stab at whether you would've folded or called/raised in these situations and bask at your intelligence tomorrow! Or, find out that you were stupid. It's up to you!

Just for the hell of it, we'll consider this one a You Decide post. So, without further adieu:

You Decide #56 - in four parts

Hand #1
We are in a $69+6 $7000 guaranteed tournament on Full Tilt, at the 15/30 level. We've been playing tight and have near our starting stack of 3000, when we are dealt AA on the button. A player in EP limps for 30, the CO limps for 30, and we raise it to 165. The BB calls, and everyone else folds. We don't have any reads on the BB.

The flop is KJ2, rainbow. The BB bets 200 into the 405 pot. I raise to 1005. The BB pushes all-in to 2835. What do you do?

Hand #2
We are in a PLO H/L double stack tournament on Full Tilt. We have 4060 and the blinds are 25/50. We are dealt Js Qd Ts 8c, UTG and limp. For the purpose of today's discussion, let's ignore the limp with those cards and any other decisions made until the last decision. I want to focus on what to do in these marginal situations, so how I get there is merely presented for background.

Sonny, the UTG+1 with 2183, raises to 225. Papa with 4600 in MP, calls. I call as well. Once again, we have no reads on individual players.

The flop is A26, all spades. I have a Jack-high flush. I check, intending to check-raise. Sonny bets 750 into the 750 pot. Papa raises to 3,000. At this point, what do we do?

Hand #3
We are still in the PLO H/L tournament, with 5768. It has become apparent that the game is fairly loose. The blinds are 50/100. With Jh 3h 6d 4d, we call, UTG. Grinch, with over 15,000, calls in UTG+2. Homey, with 6k, calls from the button. The SB folds, and the BB, Talen with 6,733, calls.

The flop is 2h 9h Ks. We have a Jack-high flush draw. Talen in the BB bets 100. We call. Grinch folds. Homey on the button calls.

The turn is Th. There is no low possible and we hit our Jack-high flush draw. Talen bets 2250. What should we do?

Hand #4

We are now playing at in a $25 buy-in tournament with some guarantee. Blinds are 25/50, and we have around 2600. We are in the BB and are dealt 93o. Preflop, Nord raises to 100 from UTG. The button, Moose, calls. Both Nord and Moose have us outchipped. The SB folds and I call the 50.

The flop is 973 rainbow. I check, expecting to check-raise. Nord bets 900 into the 325 pot. Moose raises all-in for 2655. What should we do?

That's it for now. Please share your thoughts. The results should be very interesting. In fact, I'll offer up $11 via Stars transfer for one commentor whoever makes the correct play in each instance. I'll take all correct answers submitted by tomorrow morning, and pick one out of a hat. I'll only accept the first submission, if you guess more than once.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 6:30 AM, ,

Tagged: 7 Things

Since Riggstad tagged me and I'm a big fan of his work with Riverchasers, I'll play along:

A). Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog...

B). Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself...

C). Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs...

D). Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.OK, here goes:

1. I've never had any venereal diseases, ever.

2. I have never been in a fight. On one occasion at a bar in NYC during New Years, a guy in front of me to use the bathroom was too shy to use the exposed urinal, so he said that he was just going to pee in the corner. As he walked to the corner to piss, I said, "Dude, if you piss on the floor and your piss gets on my shoes, I'm going to cold cock you." (Cold cock means 'punch', Woffles, you sick fuck). He was way bigger than me, but he still turned around apologized sheepishly and shook my hand to show he meant no harm. It felt great, although I would've prefered to cold cock the guy so that I could officially be in a fight.

3. I sincerely believe that people who think anyone other than terrorists performed the 9/11 attacks are dumb as shit or hate America (or the Jews, depending on their chosen conspiracy). Any coverup would take at least dozens of collaborators, and in today's every-man-for-himself/24-hour news coverage environment, the fact that none of these collaborators have come forward is proof enough that this wasn't some government coverup.

4. One time in high school, I won $72 off of my good buddy Jon, over an afternoon of random heads up gambling. That was a large amount, since we usually played cheap stakes. This also planted the seed for my love of gambling. Jon, incidentally, does not gamble much anymore. He lost fairly constantly.

5. I am not going to my high school reunion because I see everyone I want to see and I have terrible long term memory. I know I'm going to forget not only names, but who people are and how I knew them. In my freshman year at college, a girl saw me at a bar, screeched, "JORDAN!" and then rushed over to hug me. We talked for 10 minutes and when she walked away, I asked my HS/college buddy Josh who she was. His response: "She's Samantha from Junior High." "Did I know her?" "You two were friends!" I still don't remember her at all.

6. I have no regrets in life.

7. The majority of my bar exam studying took place at the local Borders mega bookstore (where I would alternate between law and comic books) and the nearby park where I would go with wifey Kim. Most people were too neurotic to take it so lightly. On one particularly beautiful day at the part, while I studied/suntanned, I took a short break and had this thought: "If a meteor hit the earth right now and we all died, the people studying in the library will be the real idiots since I've enjoyed myself while half-assed studying. Suckers!"

Now, I'm supposed to tag seven people, but I sadly will not. Sorry guys, but I just don't know how widespread this meme is right now, and I don't want to double-tag. But, hey, if you wanna be tagged, tag yourself and have at it.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:12 PM, ,

What Poker Taught Me About Life

A week or so ago, I wrote about what poker taught me about work. This morning I had another similar thought, as I continue to process the string of bad luck that hit me Saturday and Sunday.

Sometimes in life, you just get unlucky. We know this in cards, since we've all seen our share of 2-outters and bad beats. In poker, its just a part of the game. Ultimately, I hope to train myself mentally and emotionally to accept these tough breaks, since fighting them internally will do nothing to change the laws of probability. By accepting bad luck, I can work on my perception of the situation. I do not want to internalize or personalize bad luck because, frankly, it isn't personal.

Such is life. There will be times where you or I make the right move and lose. There will be times where we will hit that one-outter of life. I've experienced both recently.

In poker, I train myself to accept these facts of life, but in life it is harder. When I got lucky and something came through last minute, saving the day, I considered it something I deserved or earned. When I got unlucky and some bad fate fell upon me, I considered it punishment for my errors or a sign of my faults.

In reality, life is poker. Good things happen to bad people, and bad things happen to good. In the end, all we can ever do is ride it out, hope that it all evens out in the end, and use our skills and character to consistently work hard and work smart. Only through smart, hard work can we really control our destiny, even as it is thrown around by the whims of luck. Only through smart, hard work can we be proactive about life and poker, instead of reactive to the luck that will fall on us regardless of our actions.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:02 AM, ,

One of THOSE Streaks

Wifey Kim spent the weekend in Georgia. Since I had a Saturday to myself, I decided to start off the day with some online poker. I played SNG after SNG as part of Full Tilt's SNG-Madness promo, but I kept losing. In most instances, I was playing very well, but I simply got unlucky. Two outers, four outers, six outers. I accepted it for what it was, a spell of bad luck. But ultimately, I needed to walk away because the bad luck just wouldn't shake.

A couple of hours later, I played some MTTs. I got far in the few MTTs I player, but went out late to suckouts.

Last night, I went to the Salami Club and played some 2/5 NL. I only bought in with $300 since I've been running bad. I was down to $80, having gone down from a high of $420 or so. I held KK and my neighbor to my right held QJd. He raised preflop in EP to $30. Since I had a monster hand and planned on leaving soon, regardless of the outcome, I pushed all-in. It folded around to him and he flashed me his cards. We were chatting, since I've known him from Salami for a long time but hadn't seen him in a while. We get along, the closest thing to a friend I have at the club. It was clear that he was leaning toward a fold, so I started talking. When he showed me his cards, I suggested, "Well, you have two overs." I was lying, and while it may be 'wrong' at the time, I was acting on sheer instinct (and the need for a call). He asked me, "Do you mean that?" Now I had time to think, so I half-admitted, "Well, I can't promise you anything. You'll have to call to find out." He called. I showed my KK and he showed his QJs. The flop was 9-high. The turn was a Ten. The river was a King. I lied my way into losing $110+. We joked about it. He had a monster stack so the $80 would've been nothing to him at the moment. I was a man about it, joked about how I did it to myself, kept it friendly as I said my goodbyes. As I left, I thought, "This is the bad streak." But I also thought, "But it might be over. Just continue to play well and fight through the bad luck."

When I got home this evening, I played a $26 token race. I lost to a cointoss, my 88 vs. KJ, but the guy who called really had no reason to take such a gamble. I played a Razz MTT at Stars and was doing well until I moved into Brick City and lost major hands due to a neverending string of shit cards.

I just busted from a FT Knockout MTT. In these knew Knockout MTTs, you receive a bounty (i.e., $) for every person you bust, so strategy encourages trapping and at times calling someone all-in. I held AK in EP, after a raise from 40 to 120. I raised it up to 320. At the time, I had about my full 1500 stack. A guy in LP called, but the EP original raiser folded. HU, we saw a KJx flop. I paused for a moment. My opponent only had about 880 left, which was near the pot size. I checked, hoping to induce a push. After all, I wanted to knock him out, not just win the sizeable pot. My opponent obliged, I called, and he showed AJ. I had him dead to two jacks, with two cards to come. He only needed one.

I probably owe you all a few bucks for the bad beat stories. That's really not what I'm concerned with. I constantly remind myself, almost like a mediative mantra, that I must remain calm in the face of adversity. Getting upset over uncontrollable luck is just self-destructive. But I can't help but shake this feeling that I'm not through with the bad luck spell.

The only coping mechanism I have is to not play poker, but frankly, when I'm playing well, is that the right answer. So, I ask you, what do you do when you are facing a spell of bad luck? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:07 AM, ,

Where is the Luck?

I busted fairly early in the Riverchasers event. I had about 3600 when I ran my Aces all-in against Kings preflop. Yes. Into KINGS. The flop had a King and I was down to 200 chips.

About a week or two ago, I got a player to go all-in for his $100 stack in a cash game, when I held Aces and he had Kings. The flop had two Kings. Dems Quads Beeches!

In both instances, I felt the sting of bad luck. But really, what do I have to feel bad about?

Poker is a game of skill and luck. But those particular hands, well, they were just luck. It's all too common to see those situations and think that the chances of the King coming (twice!) was so small that I was extremely unlucky. But I prefer to think of the hands as a proverbial cointoss if you look at the game in a different perspective.

In both hands, it was easy to get my opponent all-in with his Kings. 99.999% of players will automatically call an all-in with Kings preflop, especially against a player with my range. So, preflop, I had already gotten lucky twice by (1) being dealt Aces when (2) my opponent gets dealt KK. I did nothing to earn that situation.

When you get THAT lucky to have Aces over Kings, you are already in great position to stack your opponent. But I didn't do anything to get to that position. The hands played out as they did because of a unique string of events. Even though the end product of that string is that I am now an 81% chance of winning, that early luck in no way guarantees that I will win; nor does it mean that I should win.

One call look at those situations as two 19% suckouts, or we can look at the game from a broader perspective. I didn't get unlucky that Kings flopped. I was unlucky that I was dealt AA when my opponent was dealt KK and a King was about to flop. As soon as the deck was shuffled, my fate was sealed. I was destined to lose both hands, and the manner in which I lost didn't matter.

Its really the same thing as being dealt KK against AA, when no King comes. In a situation like that, it might stink to be in such an unlucky situation (although, arguably, I could take some responsibility for not folding KK, whereas with AA vs. KK it was an inevitable outcome).

I suppose this is all to say that I didn't get unlucky when my opponent improbably hit his set. Instead, I got unlucky by getting dealt Aces. It doesn't do me any good to personalize it or focus on that elusive 81/19 lead I held preflop. All that matters is how the hand ended up.


I attempted to throw a homegame this weekend. Wifey Kim will be in Georgia, traveling with a gaggle of her chick friends to see another one of her chick friends and her new baby. When the cat's away, the mice will gamble, so I tried to arrange a NLHE tourney or cash game in my NYC apartment for Saturday. I must've text messaged over 25 people, a random assortment of local gamblers I've met from various social circles. I got some interest, but ultimately not enough to make it an easily organized game. I've given my critique of many homegames on this blog, and I'm not blind to the realities of hosting a poker game. The host has a terribly difficult job, from gathering player (who usually avoid committing until the last minute) to turning away last minute players after the game is full to making sure that the game runs smoothly. In my experience, all of these things cause agita. And worst of all, I never play as well when I host because I'm so focused on hosting duties.

Ultimately, I called off the game. It was a nice thought, but the reality is quite different. So, I thank those who throw great homegames, like Jamie at Wall Street Poker and Roose and his crew, the occasional IHO game, or the midtown donkorific homegame in my bro-in-law's building. I'm glad you guys are running some games, cause lord knows I can't stomach the gig.

And on that note, anyone feel like checking out an underground poker room this weekend?

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:18 PM, ,

Future Post: Aussie Millions 2008

The following is my fictional trip report for the Aussie Millions, my submission to the write-in portion of the Battle of the Blogger Tournaments: Aussie Millions Tournament of Champions freeroll. For more details, check out FullTilt's official BBT page:

The trip really kicked off after the flight. Fortunately, I got an isle seat by the emergency exit, so I was sprawled out for most of the trip. Roose, on the other hand, was stuck between two large women in a middle seat. Sucker. When I invited him on the trip, I only had one rule: I rule! After all, writing my way into the BBTwo Tournament of Champions and then luckboxing into the Aussie Millions prize package meant that I was the one calling the shots on this, our first international poker trip. Wifey Kim was, naturally, my first pick to join me in the land down under, but her work obligations and my need for wife-free degeneracy were insurmountable obstacles.

Once we arrived in the Aussie airport, we made our way to the baggage claim. Roose and I had our first prop bet of the trip, a simple $1 bet to see whose luggage would come out first. I won, for once in my life. Roose is a freaking prop bet machine. Of course, I was helped by fate. Roose's bag never actually showed up. I shrugged it off. It was MY bag, after all. Roose, on the other hand, spent the next 45 minutes arguing with some random airport employee. Lucky for me, I had my iPod handy to keep me entertained. Nothing is funnier than watching your comic-relief friend argue with a foreign, disinterested airport employee to the tune of Huey Lewis' "If This is It."

Once Roose gave up on his fool's errand, we made our way to the beautiful Crown Casino, where the Aussie Millions was to take place. I had never been to a large buy-in tournament like this before. I had played a few WSOP Circuit events, but the idea of traveling and playing in a $10,000 (that's Aussie money, which I think is equal to about $100,000 American dollars; Go Weak Dollar!) buy-in event was a whole new level.

We got booked in our FullTilt comped room. I was greatly surprised. Usually, Roose and I like to chat up the clerks at hotels to upgrade. Our success rate isn't too shabby either. But since my hotel was a freeroll, I opted to skip the upgrade chatter. Roose, on the other hand, was signaling to the women repeatedly, and popping in with useful tidbits like, "You know, we could use a bit extra space," and the ever useful "you've got beautiful eyes." Smooth, Roose. Fortunately, she just about ignored Roose, and gave us the room provided by Full Tilt.

The room was perfect for our purposes. Two beds, a shower that would likely be rarely used (that's how we roll!) and a TV. The rest of the room was standard hotel fair, slightly nicer than your typical hotel. It was fairly late by this time, so Roose and I hit the Automatic Cafe for some late food and then were off to the Atrium Bar. The Aussies around us were generally friendly, and you could spot the other poker players a mile away; they were the only patrons wearing sunglasses indoors in the middle of the night.

After more than a few drinks, I headed upstairs to catch some Zzzzs. Roose insisted on playing some Pai Gow Poker, but I was too tired and excited for the big event scheduled for the next day. In bed, I flipped through the channels on the TV for a bit before giving up and throwing on my iPod. I eventually fell asleep with visions of check-raising dancing in my head.

The next morning, I woke up extra early for the tournament. Roose remained asleep, having strolled in sometime around 7 in the morning. He clearly had passed out the night before. He was still fully clothed, and he was lying like a starfish in the middle of his bed, over the covers. Even before I removed my headphones, I knew he was snoring from the rumbling of the beds. That man's snoring is like the sound of a prop jet repeatedly making a rough landing every 20 seconds in perpetuity.

The morning was like a blur, or maybe more like a coma, since I was mindlessly going through the motions. I grabbed some eggs to fill my stomach and prepare me for the day. Once I found my seat, though, I knew all would be well: Table 27, seat 7...the way of the hammer.

My first table started off well. There were a couple of very solid players, but no one I immediately recognized. I pretty much stayed tight, since I was card dead. The players around me were tight as well for the first 30 minutes, but after that, it seemed like someone turned on the donkey switch. Suddenly, I began to realize that at least half of the table were not playing an A-game (or more accurately didn't have an A-game...or B- or C- game for that matter), and only two guys concerned me, an Asian kid and an older Aussie gent.

I had established my tight image and began stealing pots once antes came into play. From there, I was playing perfectly. I made two sweet bluffs against one guy, showing both times, only to then value bet him all-in when I held the stone cold nuts on the very next hand. He left pissed, but I was happy to have practically doubled up by taking him out. From there, it was just a lot of stabs at orphaned pots, but I managed to chip up to the top 10 in chip counts by the end of Day 1.

While all of this was happening, Roose was strolling around the casino in his one outfit. A lesser man would've purchased some new clothes, but Roose doesn't bend to the will of logic. Instead, he held steadfast to his proclamation, "I don't wear any clothing in Australia but MY clothing!" When he met me during the lunch break, his clothing was still wrinkled from his restless, snore-filled sleep. By dinner break, the clothes had started emitting a peculiar funk, basically the mixed smells of perspiration, recycled airplane air, cigarettes, and deoderant. "MY CLOTHES OR NO CLOTHES!" At least he has principles.

After that marathon of a day, I pretty much just went straight to bed. Or tried, at least. I couldn't believe that I was in such great position after the first day. But I was still terribly nervous.

Early in day 2, I was moved to a new table. Finally, I saw some people I knew, but it wasn't the crowd I hoped for. Gus Hansen, Mike Matusow and Clonie Gowen. My aggressive play doesn't mix to well with other aggressive players. I lost more than a few pots to Hansen and Matusow when I tried to limp and was met with a raise, or when I raised, and faced a re-raise, or when I called and faced a continuation bet. I wasn't hitting cards, but that didn't stop me from donking off more than a few chips. It didn't help that Gowen was looking fantastic. This is when I thank the poker gods for mirrored sunglasses. My head may've been pointing to the flop, but my eyes were constantly on Clonie.

Eventually, I was moved to another table. I had to adjust myself before standing up. My time with those FullTilt pros was actually pretty enlightening. Even though I had to pay for my early lessons, I eventually just avoided them in pots, and watched them run over the other players at the table.

My new table was filled with more unknowns, but I knew immediately who my mark was going to be. The Aussie in the 3 seat had a stack of chips unrivaled at the table, and an empty glass of some sort of hard liquor, based on his breath. He was three sheets to the wind, and playing like he didn't have a care in the world. "Allsh-in!" he'd slur hand after hand. I had chipped up a bit and looked like the second big stack at the table, but Crockadile Drunkie had me way outchipped. With AKh, I decided to make a play after Drunkie made his usual 10x BB raise. I flat called and we saw a QJX flop with two hearts. It was a pretty good pot, so when Drunkie checked, I decided to try to take down the pot. "Allsh-in!" This time it was me, trying to mock my opponent. He looked at me cock-eyed as the waitress handed him a new drink. He shifted in his seat and took a sip. Everything told me he was weak, but I didn't want a call. He asked the dealer for a chip count, and the dealer obliged. This slowed Drunkie down, and he decided to count out his chips to see where he would be at if he called. Unfortunately, Crocodile Drunkie was so wasted that he began counting his chips IN FRONT of his cards. I kept my mouth shut, hoping that he'd fold, but a player in the 10 seat chimed in. "Run the cards, mate! That's a call!" The dealer looked at the chips and declared the call. Drunkie looked like he was going to argue, but then shrugged. "Alright I guesh! I'll call." He pushed the rest of his chips foward, and they cascaded over his cards. The dealer looked annoyed but kept his composure. He leaned forward and flipped over Drunkie's cards: T9 of spades. He had the low end of the straight draw. I felt elated as I triumphantly flipped my hand face-up. And then the turn came, 8. And I lost. To an open ended straight draw.

Felted, I sat there for a moment, catatonic. The truth was, he had 11 outs and he was the massive chipleader at the table. Also, I wanted the call. I couldn't complain too much if I got unlucky. At least I played well.

I slowly got up and walked out of the room, passing by other seasoned pros on the way. I eventually called Roose, who was playing some Roulette. I met up with him, had a few drinks, and then played some NLHE in the Crown's poker room. After a 6 hours session, I was too tired and called it a night. My winnings from the cash game paid for my expenses on the trip.

Before I returned to the room, I stopped by the Crown giftshop and picked up a few gifts for wifey Kim. One of the items was a pink Crown t-shirt, clearly made for a petite lady. Up at the room, Roose was passed out, likely sleeping off an afternoon killing his liver with scotch. He had finally removed his t-shirt, which hung over a chair; I swear, I could see cartoon stink-lines emanating from the disheveled shirt. Opportunity knocks only so long. I took his shirt, tossed it deep under my bed, hidden conveniently by the bed skirt, and put wifey Kim's would-be gift, the pink Crown shirt on the chair where his old shirt would be. I took out some Crown letterhead from the nightstand and wrote a message. "Compliments of the Airline!" I then went for a walk around the casino.

On my way back to the elevator, I heard a bunch of 20-something Aussie girls giggle. I turned my head to see what they were looking at. There was Roose, at the craps table, wearing the cutest pink Crown shirt ever.

I want to thank FullTilt for the opportunity to play, and the folks who ran the BBTwo for giving me the opportunity to win the opportunity to play.

Even thought I lost the Aussie Millions, I still feel like I won. I got a great vacation, some great table experience against a variety of skilled players, and was freerolling the whole way. When I lost, all I could think was, "Hey, that's poker!" After all, I can't even win in my dreams!

Until next time, make mine fictional poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:10 PM, ,