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Outside the Box

One of the perks of having a blog is the ability to revisit old posts. Last night, I returned for the second time to the Lawyers' Game, a homegame in midtown. I was first introduced to the game by Matty Ebs in January 2007. You can read that post HERE. A year later, Matty Ebs asked me if I were interested. Considering that I won the tourney on the first occasion (and I'm a degenerate) how could I say no.

When I introduced Matty Ebs to the SoxLover game (may his blog Rest in Peace) and later the Wall Street Game, I did so because I knew that Matty could handle himself. He is a fun guy at the poker table and he knows how to play. I also initially introduced LJ to the Wall Street Game a while ago. So, it was a great surprise to discover that Matty Ebs had not just invited me to the Lawyers' Game, but invited LJ and Wendy (a WSG regular) as well. It's always nice when Worlds Collide and it doesn't end up in the loss of independent George.

Ebs and I met up at a local pizza place before the game. We shot the shit while waiting for LJ and Wendy to arrive. Once we were all set, we moseyed to the apartment, where another guest was wandering aimlessly in the hallway. The host was not home yet, so we waited idly for 5 minutes before he appeared.

The game was scheduled for 8:15. It started around 9pm. I hate that shit. People were strolling in slowly, so instead of sitting there anxiously awaiting the poker, I dealt out some Chinese Poker with Ebs, LJ and Wendy. LJ and Wendy were quick students. Wendy also taught us a game called Israeli Poker. Basically, it's a heads up game, where both players start with five face-up cards. Then, one player, designated the Palestinian, takes a card and then suicide-bombs a busload of civilians. The other player, dubbed the Israeli, then issues a crackdown on the people who funded and supported the initial Palestinian. Then all onlookers choose sides and its continues in perpetuity. Or something like that.

Once the game got started, all was well. I doubled up on an early hand because the player to my immediate left was an aggro push-monkey. He was shocked that I checked-called all-in with trips and a straight draw, instead of pushing. "Why didn't you push all-in?," he asked. "I wanted you to do the work for me." Amazingly, he didn't understand this most basic of plays.

I felted him a few hands later when my 37d in the SB flopped bottom pair of 7s, turned a flush draw, and rivered the flush.

Meanwhile, LJ, the only other member of our crew at my table, was running over the table. She was lucky in some instances, flopping two pair with garbage hands, but the key to her success was her ability to get paid off. Make no doubt about it, getting good cards or flops is important, but getting maximum value is just as important, if not moreso.

By the time the tables combined, my early success was just an old, faded memory. I was fairly short, as was half of the table. The other half were nicely stacked, with Matty Ebs and LJ as the obvious chip leaders.

An interesting hand occurred which led to a lot of table talk about which play was optimal. I will relay the hand here, as best I am able.

In EP, the very loose Matty Ebs raised. LJ thought for a while and called. Another player pushed all-in for 2800 more. Ebs called, leaving him over 5k behind. LJ thought for a while and then pushed all-in for probably 3k+ more. Ebs considered what to do before ultimately folding JJ face-up. LJ tabled TT. The all-in player tabled KK. The KK held up and he took down the pot. If Ebs had called, he would've beat LJ for the side pot but lost the main pot.

People seemed to dislike LJ's shove, but I think it is another example of people failing to think outside of the box. In this case, the proverbial "box" states that you shouldn't push another player out by betting into a dry side pot if another player is all-in. Well, that may be fine if you are playing for the points, but I don't think it is a universal truth in all instances.

In this particular instance, I liked LJ's push. Allow me to explain:

Ebs is a known loose player, so his initial raise does not necessarily mean strength. LJ decides to call at that point with her TT. The other player pushes and Ebs very reluctantly called. It looked like he was having a hard time deciding what to do. Now, we know it was because he was considering a push himself (a move I think was necessary, by the way). Once it's back to LJ, a push makes sense.

First off, you want to win the pot, not just knock out the shortstack. By winning, she'd be in great position to dominate the table, so if she can push Ebs out, that's fine. All indications suggested he was going to fold, so that is more impetus to push. If LJ had a drawing hand, like AK, I would understand a flat call because you want more players in the hand to get value in case you hit. But TT is already a made hand and its unlikely to improve, so push out Ebs while you can.

Second, Matty may call with an inferior hand. If that is the case, you can lose that main pot to the shortie and still win enough chips from Matty not to feel it. So, if Matty decides to call with overcards and misses (AJ-AK), then even if the all-in shortie has AA, LJ has a layer of protection. Matty may also call with dominated hands like 66-99, leading to an even better result.

This was one of those situations where LJ was willing to make an aggressive play and put the decision on her competitor, Ebs. Frankly, Ebs made a smart fold too at that point, since he left himself with a good stack (5k was still a big stack) and he correctly feared that LJ could be playing AQ, AK, or QQ-AA. As it turned out, LJ had the only hand that would possibly push there and be behind Matty (i.e., the TT), so the results weren't optimal; but his decision making was dead-on.

Whatever the case, it amazed me how people didn't seem to get the play. Maybe its my over-aggressive nature, but I liked LJ's push. But hey, what do I know. I was out two hands later when my QQ ran into LJ's AA preflop.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:15 AM,


At 5:31 PM, Blogger MrGoss said...

Hey J, I'd be interested to hear analysis on the pre-flop play of QQ. This is a hand that I have trouble playing all the time when it gets deeper into a tourney (just considering that the players are better at the point.) I have a couple of friends that say if you can't push with QQ pre-flop, then you have no business being at a final table of a tourney. I know this is sort-of off topic, but I am still interested in the analysis. Hope to "see" you Tuesday night.


At 10:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do understand her jam to push the other guy out of the pot but I'm certainly not folding JJ preflop to LJ...ever.

At 11:05 AM, Blogger lucko said...

That is an autojam there with AK or Tens IMO. I hate when people call AK a drawing hand, definitely one of my pet peeves. I didn't like her first call much at all though.


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