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Pokeral Frustration

I don't know what's happening lately, but poker is really taking its toll. I played in the Wall Street Game last night, and even though I cashed in the first tournament (3rd; I busted quickly from the second, but we'll get into that in a minute), I still can't get over this feeling of frustration.

I often analogize poker to a girlfriend (mistress?) because I find the analogy so damn apt. In the very early beginnings of this humble, awesome blog, I even wrote a post called Battered Poker Players Syndrome, about how online poker was like an abusive lover, doling out the fists tempered randomly with sweet, sweet love, just enough to forget about the bruises and think, "But we're in looove!" (use the appropriate whiney/sing-songy voice when reading that one aloud).

Lately, poker has been more like a cocktease. (Sorry for the terminology, current and/or future employer, but you shouldn't be reading this anyway. Get back to working on my raise!) I keep wanting to get some off of that hot bitch. She's attractive, mysterious, and has a great ass. But when I think I finally am in her good graces, she decides that she has had enough and leaves me alone with my blue balls and swollen member. And the worst part is that I can't even find a satisfactory analogy for flogging the dolphin. Fucking A! No relief!

So, I'm frustrated. I can't help but feel that I need to call her up (TONIGHT!) and see what's she's doing, you know, just to hang out, as friends. But the truth is, much like the guy who faces the cocktease, I don't really care about being friends with poker. I want her to put out. So, in reality, I should probably do what works in real life and just ignore poker for a while, until she is the one calling me all, "Hey Jordan, what's up? Haven't seen you around. Why haven't you been calling? I miss you." And I'll be all, "Hey baby. Nah, I've just been busy with other things. You know me, busy guy. Yeah, hanging with Backgammon and Wii. They're cool and all. Maybe I'll swing by if I get the chance, but I dunno. Been pretty busy."

That should last for about 5 minutes.

Ah, fuck it. Let's talk about the Wall Street Poker game last night. My plan was to play smart poker. It's a single table $30 tournament with 3 spots paying. I played fairly tight in the first game, but was able to accumulate chips in a couple of major hands. In one, I held KQh in the BB and called a 600 raise from Brian in EP (2500 starting stacks). The flop came down a glorious 9TJ, with two spades, flopping me the nuts. Since I was out of position and had already lost a hand, I pushed all-in. I thought I only had 1200 or so left, since I already lost a hand earlier in the tournament, but in reality, I had 1800 left. Realistically, it didn't make a difference. The pot had 1300 in it, so I was pretty much committed to getting all of my chips in. I also didn't want to take the chance of giving him a free card. Brian flashed a Ten (later admitting he had ATd) before folding.

I later felted my neighbor to my right, Rob. Let me take a moment to discuss Rob. I had played with him before at the WSG and recognized him pretty quickly, even though he wasn't sporting work clothes. He mentioned that he was reading HoP and complimented me on the AC trip report. Flattery will get you everywhere, and I thanked him for his compliment. In fact, I urge each of you readers (including you blogger/readers) to stop by your favorite blog and leave a comment merely stating "Good job with the posts lately" or whatever. Even in a community of poker bloggers, blogging is a very solitary act and it sometimes help to get perspective of an outsider. I can usually tell when I am putting out crap, but its a lot harder to tell when I am putting out decent content. So, thanks again, Rob, and I look forward to playing with you again sometime soon.

After busting Rob (I think I called his all-in when he had AJ and I had KQd...lots of KQ last night), it was just me, Brian and Matty Ebs, easily the three LAGgiest players in the tourney. Matty, in particular, was playing well, bluffing successfully on numerous ocassions. It didn't hurt that when players pushed all-in against his raises, he held AA (twice to felt players). Brian was a bit more restrained, but he is always a force to recon with.

I was the chip leader by a small margin above Ebs, and Brian was in third with a significantly smaller stack, but still a decent amount of play. Ebs decided to raise from the SB with 77 to some unusually high number, maybe 2000. Blinds were probably 300/600, but the number itself threw me. I held A5s and was tired of Ebs running over the table. I also saw opportunity, since the logical move for either of us was to let Brian bust before risking too much. So...I pushed all-in. He took a long time, and I am sure that I could've done more to dissuade his call, but call he did and I was made into the shortstack as a result. I busted in the next hand, my AJ v. Brian's 66.

Truth be told, I was disappointed about going from 1st to 3rd, but I was glad to have cashed. In hindsight, the obvious move was to wait for Brian to bust, mostly because we would've likely chopped 1st/2nd money at that point. But what was done was done.

In the second game, I didn't even last a full orbit. UTG, I held KK and decided to raise to 200 from the 25/50 blinds. I got one call, Matty Ebs. The flop was 763, so I bet out again, 400. He called. The turn was a 4s, and a four-card straight, if he had a 5. I didn't put him on a 5, so I bet out 800. He took his time before calling. While he considered his next move, he opined aloud that I had an overpair to the board. I replied, "Of course, 88 is an overpair. Your TPTK is no good." Apparently, at this, he responded "I have TPTK and a flush draw." But I didn't hear that. He called. The river was a Jack of Spades, filling up the Spade Flush if he had two spades. I pushed for my remaining 1100 or so and he called, tabling his K-high straight (K7s). That's the first time I noticed that the board had a possible flush. I should've listened to him more carefully and paid more attention to the board. I felt annoyed at losing KK to K7s, but the fault once again lied with me.

I threw my chips across the table in mock anger, but part of me really felt the anger. Thinking about it later that night, looking back, I felt a bit ashamed of my reaction. I just hope that it came off as more humorous than sore-loserish. I hate sore losers.

So, it was another frustrating night. I made several stupid decisions like the A5s push and the KK push on the river. But, perhaps if I keep at it, poker will finally put out. And if that doesn't work, I guess I should just admit that I like being smacked around.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:54 PM, ,

Cash for One (AC Trip Report Pt. 3)

There was still time to jump into the $120 7pm tournament at the Showboat, but after finishing the 2pm $100 tournament in 8th or 7th place (out of 57 players, with 5 spots paying), I felt inclined to play some cash games. My goal was to play for an hour or so and determine if I wanted to leave AC earlier than anticipated.

On the way to AC via bus, I thought that the round trip drive would take 6 hours total (3 hours both ways). This was clearly an over-estimation by design, so that I would be happily surprised when I got to AC or home a tad faster. As it were, it took me 2:20 to get to AC. Even so, during that bus ride, I did the math. 6 hours of driving time meant I had to spend at least 6 hours playing poker to make the driving time worth it, and realistically speaking, I expected to play a lot more than that. However, after the 5 hours of tournament play, I felt almost satiated with poker. I could still play more, but I no longer felt the urge that caused me to take an expected 6 hour round trip.

I also was not tilting, so I saw no harm in sitting at a 1/2 table. After all, the tournament was disappointing as far as the payout (or lack thereof) was concerned, but I still felt like I was playing well.

Within the first hour, I lost a good $100 playing 1/2. I immediately found my nemesis, a pixie-like Asian guy in the 4s (I was in the 8s). He was quiet, had headphones on, and looked to be a sharp player. In an early hand, I made an ill-fated check-raise bluff on my nemesis, fully expecting him to fear that I had AK on the KJ5. Lord knows that was the way the hand played out. I checked the flop, he bet $15, and I raised to $45. He took a whie and raised to $100 total. I folded begrudgingly, even though I knew I was beat. He admitted 55 for a flopped set, and said that he hoped I had AK. "I did," I responded, "but I had a vision that you hit two pair, Kings and Jacks. I guess I was close enough."

Part of that situation was just bad timing, something that has been plaguing me lately, but I was extra-conscious of the fact that I may have been on some form of latent tilt. While I am still unsure to this day, one of two things happened in that hand: (1) I had bad timing that can be blamed on luck, or (2) I was forcing the action too early. For now, I will assume (2), since that is the only one of the two that I can actually work on.

I recommitted to playing smart from there on out, even though I was building a loose table-image. My neighbor to my left was a 20-something, shaved-headed, skinny kid from Delaware. He had one earbud in and was singing along with his rap music in a way that made it perfectly clear that he was seeking attention. He also had one of his top front teeth missing, which was not a pretty sight.

When I initially sat down, he had one of his buddies sitting behind him drinking a beer and lightly watching the game, with two other guys milling around. By the time my neighbor and me made friends, the two standing buddies left, but the other guy was still nearby. Our conversations went all over the place, from poker to where we lived to drugs and hookers. I just played along, sometimes egging him on, but overall having a great time. We were both drinking Coronas, but even though he claimed he was hammered, neither of us were drinking quickly.

Meanwhile, I continued to lose pots against my nemesis, although for the most part, the pots were small. In fact, I only got into one big hand over the next few hours.

I held QJo in the SB. A EP/MP Asian guy in his 40s sat in the 1s or 2s. He was reading a paper most of the game, spread out like he was sitting at his brunch table. In this particular hand, he tossed his $6 raise out nonchalantly. The action folded to me and I flat called, since it was such a small bet. My hip hop neighbor, Ole Toothy, decided to call from the BB as well.

The flop came down a beautiful AKT, with two hearts, flopping me the nuts. I opted to check, since I was confident that someone would bet. Toothy obliged by betting out $10. Then, to my excitement, the Asian Brunchmaster slowly raised to $30. I considered the action very slowly. Toothy was likely going to fold to my re-raise, and Brunchmaster only had another $65 or so behind. I bet out $100. Toothy folded and Brunchmaster called. We agreed to flip over our cards. He had A7h...and rivered a heart.

And that's how I was down $200.

I like to think that I didn't tilt over this one either. I just shrugged it off. In fact, Nemesis, across the way, catched my eye and gave me a sorta, "What can you do?" gesture. Even though he and I were gunning for each other, we developed an understanding that we were also probably the best two players at the table. There was respect from all the way across the table.

I don't recall too many other hands, except for one that I found particularly fun. An older Caucasian gentlement with a bald head and white beard was sitting in the 3s and decided to limp in a hand. I had AT or something marginal and decided to have fun when the action folded to me in one of the blinds. "I raise!" I announced loudly. Then I threw four intimidating white $1 chips into the pot. I enjoy this move, mostly because it loosens up the vibe at the table. Everyone will call, and as long as your hand has some potential, its worth it to sweeten the pot and throw people off of their usual game.

The flop came down with all unders, so I bet out. "BET!" I tossed $4 into the pot. I knew it would get a call, but I figured that I could lose $4 without fear, if it came to that. The White Beard called. The turn was a Ten, giving me top pair, top kicker. "BET! But this time, I have to put some meat into it!" I tossed $6 into the pot. He called. The river was a blank. "Okay, I have no choice now." I bet $12. He called. I showed my hand and took down the pot. I didn't win a ton of money in the hand, but it was fun, and I probably got more out of it than I would've if I raised preflop and then continuation bet the flop (assuming I even got a call preflop).

I also had another altercation with Brunchmaster. We played a hand where I held KJc but failed to improve after flopping a flush draw on a Q-high flop. After calling a flop bet and a small turn bet, we checked the river. He was last aggressor and in position to show his cards first. He flipped an Ace and said "Can you beat Ace-high?" I chucked my cards into the muck. Then he flipped over his other card, Queen, for TPTK. The dickhead slowrolled me. I wasn't going to let that slide. "Oh, so that's how its going to be? You are going to slow roll me? Okay. That's the way it is!" I was joking around, but I meant every word.

A while later, I decided on a whim to play K4s in LP for a limp. I flopped a 4, but we checked around. I turned another 4 and I bet out. Brunchmaster called. I bet the river and he called again. At showdown, I flipped over my King. And then I waited about 10-15 seconds. And then I flipped over my 4. He looked mildly perturbed. I just yelled over, "I learned it from watching you." Nemesis chuckled and gave me a reassuring smile.

I never got full revenge on Nemesis, but other players did. Meanwhile, I was getting pretty hungry. It was about 8pm when I first felt hunger pangs, so I asked the cocktail waitress about the food options. There were a couple of crappy sounding sandwiches available and a beef & vegetable soup. I opted for the soup, which was delivered promptly about 50 minutes later. It was adequate.

I was also making regular piss breaks thanks to the slow drain of Corona going down my gullet. Each time, I would take my backpack with me to the bathroom. It occurred to me later that anyone watching would either think I am carrying extremely expensive valuables in my dinky backpack, or I was taking regular cocaine breaks. Neither was true. I just didn't trust leaving my poker bankroll and other items alone in a room of people trying to take each other's money.

At around 9pm, I started to consider how I was going to get home. I had printed out a schedule of bus times and saw that an 11pm bus left from the Showboat, and decided that would be as good a time as any. I hadn't seen anyone in AC, but I had played poker, and I felt satiated. Meanwhile, I won back a few bucks and come 10:30, cashed out -$110 in cash games. My total for the trip was -$210, which is a modest sum.

After cashing out, I took a break outside of the casino to have a smoke. I walked a bit in the calm air and enjoyed the view from the boardwalk of the moon shining off of the ocean. It was a very peaceful experience and I reflected on my solo trip to AC. Everything was easy, and I no longer had any excuse to not go to AC in the future.

I eventually headed inside and stopped at Starbucks for an iced tea and large chocolate chip cookie before heading over to the bus. I decided to forego the crappy sandwiches at Chelsea Market even though I was fairly hungry. The walk to the bus parking area was calm and quiet, but the casino patrons took on an aire of sadness. A man with Downs Syndrome sat staring at a machine. As I passed him, I realized that the machine was out of order. His elderly mother was at the next machine over, feeding the slots.

I had some time to kill when I realized that the bus was really leaving at 11:10, so I made a pitstop into a bathroom on the casino floor. It was empty when I entered, and I found a stall where I could shed my layers and apply some Gold Bonds for the ride home. I was making an awful lot of noise moving around in the enclosed space, so I was glad that the bathroom seemed silent when I was packed away and ready to exit my stall. I openned the door and, to my surprise, three guys were in the bathroom. Two were at urinals and an Asian man was washing his hands at the sink. He looked at me like I was a crazy man, probably because I was still somewhat discombobulated and I was making so much noise in the stall. I washed my hands in the sink opposite his and noticed him staring at me through his mirror. As I left the bathroom, I caught sight of him right behind me. Even though I had nothing to fear, I intentionally juked right quickly and cut down a row of slot machines out of his sight. I was halfway to the bus depot when I realized that he may've been staring at me because my fly was open and he didn't know whether to say something.

On the bus, I grabbed a seat about 4 rows from the back. I dropped my bag into the inside seat and took the outside seat. The bus was about 1/2 full. Most of the rows were occupied except for a few behind me. As I waited for the bus to leave, a middle-aged couple took the seats behind me. Through my earbuds, I could hear them arguing loudly.

Him: "I don't care what you say. Next time, you stay upstairs and I'm going to play!"
Her: "Fine, but I don't see what good that will do. Your tables were all taken."
Him: "I don't care. I am going to play next time and we'll see how you like it."
Her: "That's fine, but your tables were all taken."
Him: "I am going to play next time! I didn't come all the way down here to leave early!"

It was like listening to a child throw a tantrum. All-in-all, it was quite pathetic, and I did my best to ignore their arguing. I tried to picture the context of their argument. Perhaps they are on a budget and they come down weekly to gamble their "allowance". Maybe they had a room, but she lost so much that they didn't have enough money to play anymore. That would explain the "upstairs" comment.

Whatever the case, I went back to my iPod and Starbucks cookie. A short while later, we left Showboat, only to arrive at another casino. More people got on, and I realized the problem with sitting near the back. People will naturally keep walking until they find an empty row. When they get to the back, they resign themselves to sitting wherever, and usually sit down in the back. I didn't want to share my space, so I kept my head down. I was counting on my clean-shaved head and Superman t-shirt to portray someone a bit off-kilter. A guy stood right by my row for a few seconds, but I decided not to offer him my seat. If he wanted it, he would have to ask. He eventually asked the guy across the row from me.

The ride back was uneventful. I arrived back in NY at about 1:30am, about 2 hours and 20 minutes after leaving AC. I headed home via subway and was in bed by 2am.

Going to AC alone was a fun experience, but not one I expect to repeat anytime soon. Still, its good to know I have options. Thanks for all those who encouraged me to go, and an extra thanks to those who offered advice as to transportation.

And with that, we end another trip report. Expect another one after my AC trip with Roose scheduled for some time in April.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:26 AM, ,

Tournament for One (AC Trip Report Pt. 2)

After my grilled cheese brunch, I made my way over to the poker room for the 2pm $100 MTT. There were a good 6 or 7 tables set up, and I made my way to table number 17, seat 7. Ever since getting a hammerific table 27, seat 7 during my first WSOP Circuit event, I seem to always get a table with a 7 in it, and usually the 7th or 2nd seat.

I took my seat with less than 10 minutes to go before cards were to be dealt. A young guy sat in the 9 seat. The rest of the table was empty.

With three minutes to spare, two more players sat down, a fat Hurley-looking guy on my immediate right and his buddy in the 3 seat. By the first hand, we were the only four players at our table. All other tables looked to have about 7 players or more.

The dealer was a young Eastern European girl. She looked around to the floor man and asked what to do. "We only have 4 players." "Just start the first hand." I turned around and saw that the timer said 18:30. We had already burned 1 minute and 30 seconds of the tournament without a single hand played. I even assumed that the timer in the back did not apply to us, since there was a concurrent 11am game finishing up in the back of the room. But in short time, I realized that it was one clock for both tourneys. I was annoyed at the slow dealer, but I was ready to play.

We were still 4-handed when I was dealt KJo. Since we were so short, I bet out 250 (blinds of 50/100 to start, 10k stacks). I got one call from the BB. The SB was not present. The flop came down KJX. I bet 500 and he called. The turn was a blank. I checked, since I felt confident that my opponent would take the initiative if I gave him the chance. After all, we were all thinking the same thing, play loose while we can eat up the free blinds. In situations like this, everyone loosens up, so I was hoping to play the role of the guy who over-loosened-up and now fears that he made a stupid continuation bet on a crappy flop. My opponent obliged, betting 500. I decided that it was enough for me to take down the hand or at least maximize value. I thought for a moment and bet 1500. He folded.

A little while later, we were up to a good 6 or 7 players. In EP I was dealt QJc and decided to raise to 300. The table seemed to be quieting down and players were a lot less likely to play hands. In MP/LP, a generic looking guy about my age, with dark hair and a bewildered expression (he actually looked a little like TripJax) tossed a 1000 chip onto the felt and, after the chip clearly landed on the table, announced, "raise." I spoke up as soon as I saw this, since I clearly did not want to face a raise out of position with QJc. "Um, dealer, isn't that a string bet." The dealer, the same Eastern European girl, looked confused. Someone not in the hand piped in, "He said it as the chip was hitting the table." I replied: "Actually, no, he threw in the chip and then afterward announced raise." I looked at the dealer who was clearly not paying attention to the action when it occurred. "Sir," she looked like she was pleading with me, "he called it out at the same time as he placed his raise." I realized I was not going to get anywhere, so I fell back into Plan B. "You know what, it doesn't make a difference. It's all good, and I don't even mind the raise. I just thought it was late." By then the action was back on me. "I call."

In my experience, there is often lots of opportunity to exploit these sorts of situations. I figured a 700 call was a bit much, but with over 12k in front of me, I could more than afford it. I also figured my opponent for strong cards, so I might get paid off if I hit my straight or flush.

The flop came down ATx. It was an ugly flop, so I checked. He checked as well. I could tell by his demeanor that he did not like the Ace. The turn was a blank, and I thought for a moment about betting out to steal the pot. I realized, though, that this was a poor play, so I opted for another check. My opponent, obliging, bet out 1000. I thought for a brief moment once again, selling the image of a guy who is setting up a play, and then raised to 3000. He thought for a while before mucking.

Hours later, we discussed the hand again. He admitted that he had KK, and I admitted that I was trying to slowplay my flopped top pair. Of course, I was lying, but he clearly wasn't.

A little while later, we had a mostly full table. I made friends with the guy on my left, a skinny, white-ponytailed, sunglasses-wearing, Air Force vet. Meanwhile, the guy on my right, the Hurley-lookalike, barely looked in my direction. I don't know why, but I instantly disliked the guy. My friends used to use the word 'squib' for someone you instantly dislike for no discernible reason. Hurley was a squib.

In the BB, the action folded to Hurley in the SB. He called the 200 (100/200 blinds), and I checked with Q3o. The flop was a beautiful Q43, giving me top and bottom two pair. He checked and I bet 400, trying to keep him in the pot. I probably already had a fairly loose image with my Superman t-shirt, camo hat, and overall chattiness. He called. The turn was a 2 and he checked again. I bet 800 and he called. The river was a Jack. He checked, and for a moment, I considered checking as well. Then, I bet 1000. My thought was that he may be calling me down with top pair of Queens or even some medium pair on the board, since it was just him and me and he may not believe me. He paused for a moment and then bet 3500. I considered my options, but I truly thought I was ahead. I was hoping he rivered a weaker two-pair, or maybe had top pair with a strong kicker. I called and he showed 56o, for a flopped open-ender and a turned straight. My bad.

One of the final late-players at our table was a black guy of some foreign descent (Carribean?) who sat one seat to the right of Hurley. We started to tangle pretty quick when he open-raised from EP/MP to 1600, with blinds at 200/400. When it folded to me, I flat called with TT. I wanted to raise, but I was down to a starting stack of about 8k, and there was already very little play in our stacks. Also, there were many more players left to act.

The flop came down Q82 and the Carribean guy bet out 3000 immediately. Something seemed fishy, so I thought it over until I decided that he missed or at the very least, he didn't hit the Ten. I pushed all-in for about 4,600 more. He wondered aloud if we had the same hand. I thought to myself it was unlikely. He wondered aloud if I had TT, and I began to wonder what the fuck he was talking about. Did he have TT? Whatever the case, he folded and I mucked.

A few hands later, the overanxious Carribean guy made a raise from LP. In the BB with KTd, I decided to call to see a flop. The flop came down K82, and I checked. He bet 3000 again, and I did the same thing as last time. I figured that I was only fearing a stronger King or an Ace (with 88 or 22 a slim possibility). More likely, the guy had a pocket pair QQ or lower, or AQ or AJ and was trying to continuation bet. I also had it in mind that my guy was clearly trying to catch up, since he missed the early action. He called and we tabled our hands, my KT vs. his KQ. Yuck. Then, I rivered a Ten. Whoops!

That us all I have for hand histories, since the action picked up from there and I stopped taking notes on tournament hands (I may still have some cash game hands for later). Our first table broke and I was moved to a new table, where I made buddies with all of the guys near me. We joked around and had a great time while we watched the tables being broken down to eventually the final 2. I was always in the middle or lower end of the pack, but that was fine by me. I employed my shortstack specialist strategy and was able to eke into the final table in 8th or 7th place or so out of 10 players left. 5 spots paid. Sound familiar?

The final table started out slow, as a foolish older guy with a monster stack folded AQ to a shorty's push and a lesser-shorty's call. He would've flopped two-pair, immediately catapulting me to a better spot. The blinds were insanely high, and by the time we were down to 8, only one or maybe 2 players had more than 10x the BB. It was a literal push-fest. Unfortunatley, a couple of shortstacks got lucky. Then I had my turn, getting all-in in a BB/SB confrontation with my A9 v. AJ, rivering a 9. I joked about chopping 8 ways ($4800 prize pool), but did not seriously follow it up. I still liked my chances. Sadly, things don't always turn out the way you want. I ended up busting when my KJ fell to QT after flopping a King. He rivered a Ten. It was against the same guy I doubled through with A9 v. AJ. He apologized perfusely, but then I reminded him that I did it to him first. A few hands later, I got all-in AJ v. KQ, and my opponent hit his Queen. Lemon! I acted like a man, and got up, shook some hands and left.

I have played this tournament numerous times and I have had some great success. I have also bubbled or near-bubbled a couple of times, and while it is a bitter pill, the fact that I make it so deep says a lot, especially since the final table is always such a push fest.

During my tournament breaks, I routinely went into the hallway to call wifey Kim for some support. I also made several bathroom trips, since I was downing Coronas (never enough to get drunk, but enough to have fun). Wherever I went, I took my backpack with me. After all, if I lost my jacket, I'd make do, but everything I needed was in that backpack.

After the tournament, I decided to jump right into cash games. I still felt invigorated. It was about 7pm when I found my seat, a 1/2 table with an interesting array of character. But that's for later.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:19 AM, ,

Table for One (AC Trip Report Pt. 1)

When I woke up on Saturday morning, the clock read 8:55. It was 5 minutes before my alarm would sound, and since wifey Kim planned on sleeping until the late hour of 10am, I decided to get up a tad early and get my day started.

The first thing I did was head over to the pile of clothing I set up the night before. I then grabbed my already-packed backpack and headed into the hallway, where I turn on the lights. My bag had everything I could possibly need: my poker wallet with ample cash and players' club cards, two Buddha-statue card caps (red and gold and all gold), two books, EntertainmentWeekly magazine, two bandannas, two baseball caps (ironic hunter's camo trucker cap and brown Adidas hat), a change of clothes just in case, my iPod charger, a mini deodorant and a mini Gold Bonds. The bag was prepared the night before as part of my plan to sleep as late as possible. My outfit was also laid out, and included my usual staples: Superman t-shirt, hooded sweatshirt, cargo pants with ample zippable pockets, and my peacoat.

I left the apartment fairly quickly, but was stopped by a couple of French tourists in the subway station. I gave them directions as best I could, only to be stopped by another woman who also needed directions. I helped her out too. After all, I didn't need to start this trip with a kharma deficit.

Once free of my tour guide duties, I got the next uptown A train to the Port Authority Bus Terminal. For those who don't know, the PABT is like a time machine back to NYC circa 1982. The place needs a major decorative overhaul and the characters milling about are a sorry lot. I made my way to the gate to pick up a roundtrip ticket (cost, $33), and got to the bus, ticket in hand, with about 8 minutes to spare. With no time, I hit up the nearby newspaper stand for some much needed sustenance, a Twix bar and a bottle of water.

I entered the bus and found an empty two-seater about midway in the bus. I put down my bag, made sure that it was secure from thievery from below, and slowly unrobed from my 8 layers. Down to my t-shirt, I settled into my seat and pulled out my iPod.

The ride to AC was uneventful. Fortunately, the bus was about half full and I had ample room in my two seats. Ron & Fez kept me company on my iPod while I played some Backgammon on the iPod's game menu. I took a break about halfway through the ride to watch an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, also on my iPod.

At 12:20 we arrived in AC. I was amazed at the speed of the trip, 2 hours and 2o minutes. If I were to drive from NYC, I would budget 3 hours just to be safe, and expect 2 hours and 30 minutes, but the bus got us there faster and it briefly stopped to pick up more passengers in Cheesequake, NJ (real name, people, I shit you not).

Nearing AC, I texted LJ and Wendy. Neither got back to me right away, so I decided to follow my loose plan. The Showboat had a 2pm $85+15 tournament with a fairly good structure. I had time to walk over there, but first I had to pick up my free $20 from Claridge/Bally's where the bus dropped us off. Do the math and that's $13 for a roundtrip bus ride to/from AC ($33-$20 cash back at the casino). I took the cash and made my way over to Showboat, the official AC Casino of High On Poker.

I got to the Showboat at about 1pm after taking a leisurely stroll on the Boardwalk. Once inside, I made a b-line for the poker room, moving at my usual casino speed, which is basically as fast as you can walk without officially running. I purchased my buy-in and decided to grab some grub in the 50 minutes I had left.

If the Showboat has one major shortcoming, its the lack of grab-and-go eateries. Aside from the buffet (overpriced) and the sit-down restaurants, the only place to grab a hot meal is at a place called Chelsea Market. Sadly, Chelsea Market sucks. The egg sandwiches in the morning are passable, but barely passable. The other sandwiches have been called 'soggy' by more than one person. The pizzas just seem unauthentic.

I weighed my options and opted to go to the Mansion Cafe, the Showboat's diner-like establishment. I don't often frequent restaurants alone, but I had no problem doing so. Once I got seated, I ordered, whipped out my book, and awaited my iced tea and grilled cheese, the official casino meal of High On Poker. My waiter was quick and the food was great. It was the only real meal I had all day.

I left the restaurant with time to spare and eventually made my way to the poker room with 10 minutes to go.

But before I start the tournament recap, let's cut this a bit short. Next time, I'll go over some tournament hands and maybe even cover the post-tourney cash games.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:26 AM, ,

You Decide #60

I'm in the process of writing up my trip report for my Saturday solo run to AC, but in the meanwhile, wanted to share a hand history that once again left me confused. The common theme of late is calling all-ins, and this is no exception. Please let me know what you think.

I am in a 27-person NLHE SNG, with a $20+2 buy-in at PokerStars. I am at the final table with only 8 players left and 5 places paying out. The blinds are still at a manageable 100/200, 25 ante and I have 4472, which is good for 4th place (against two players with ~3800 and one player with ~2700).

I am dealt 88 in the BB. The table has been fairly tight with the exception of the big stack, Wiser, who has over 15,000 with second place barely about 5,000. One ther player, Daisy, seems to have bursts of loose aggression, but otherwise appears tight. She is also the shortstack with ~2700. The PokerTracker numbers on all players except for Wiser suggest tight play.

Preflop, Daisy raises to 600 (3x the BB) from the CO. Wiser, in the BB, calls. I decide to flat call. Should I raise here? I didn't think so, preferring to see a flop before I make my next step. This would avoid getting into a raising war with AK or even AQ only to see a AKQ flop. It also avoids a raising war with dominating hands, but on the other hand, it also doesn't define my opponents' holdings. If I should've raised, what would be a proper amount? A min-raise doesn't push anyone off of the hand but may give me info (i.e., whether my opponent calls or raises). Assuming I am folding to a raise, that means I have to put 1000 into the pot, merely to define where I am at. If I raise larger (3x the bet to 1800 perhaps), then I run into the same problem and I am putting almost 1/2 of my stack into the pot before we even see a flop.

So, call, raise or fold?

The flop comes down 247, with two spades. I check, Daisy pushes all-in for a little over 2000 and Wiser calls. This is where the decision really confused me in the hand. The flop was all unders, which was great, but the push made me fear 99 or TT or even a flopped set. Even with all of that, I was inclined to call...until Wiser called. Once Wiser called, I assumed that he had a good enough hand to call an all-in for 2k given the flop. That meant at the very least a flush draw, which is something I want to avoid. We are very close to the bubble, too. So, I folded.

Good fold or bad fold?

And for fun, why not guess what my opponents held.

Eventually, I ended up bubbling in the tournament when my AK fell to KJ. Ugly, I tell ya, but I played well. After the loss, I thought about the bad luck on the end, but realized that the true fault lied not with luck, but with some of the decisions that occurred earlier in the game. That is probably the hardest part of this recent unlucky streak I have been on. I try not to dwell on bad beats here because (a) no one wants to hear it and (b) it always sounds like an excuse for bad results, but it has been a rough patch. Even so, its never luck's fault. Luck is going to do what it is going to do. All I can do is improve in those areas where I can accumulate more chips or save more chips.

Expect a long post about AC in the next few days. Even though it was just one day, it may warrant a few posts.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 7:37 PM, ,

Poker is a Beyotch

After dinner with wifey Kim last night, I noticed that my cellphone had a voicemail. While walking back from the restaurant around the corner, I listened to the message left by Jamie of the Wall Street Game. One of the greatest things about the WSG is its convenience. It is a mere three or four blocks from my apartment. The other great thing is Jamie's willingness to call me when a seat was open. In fact, that is exactly what the voicemail said.

Thursday nights are wifey Kim nights, due largely to the fact that our favorite show, Lost, is on a 9pm. Still, it was barely 7:30 and I felt the urge to play. Wifey Kim did not put up much of a fight, and we agreed that I would play until 9 and then come home.

Poker, well, poker wasn't that great. It was fun. No doubt about that. But in my 90 minutes of play, I lost $74 playing .50/1 NL. I was card dead for most of the game and did my best to limp in with drawing hands in order to at least keep a passing interest. Most of the time, I was force to fold preflop or on the flop. Like the last few sessions, I wasn't hitting anything, but I resigned myself to my fate and tried my best to tighten up. As a matter of fact, CK's friend Jesse even mentioned that I was playing tighter and Jamie concurred. I knew that it was a necessity to work through the rough patch, but it was also necessary for me to maintain my sanity.

Poker is a real beyotch. No doubt about that. And with that said, it should come as no surprise that at 9pm, just as I was ready to leave, I got my first top-10 starting hand, AQ. In EP/MP, I raised to $3.50, getting one caller, Jamie, on my immediate left. The flop was all unders and I decided to bet out $6 or so. I didn't want to bet too big because I wanted Jamie to think that I was trying to keep him in the hand. He called. The turn was another low blank. I bet out $11 and Jamie called. The river paired the 8, which was the highest card on the board. I couldn't imagine a bet that would force Jamie off of his hand without leaving me in shits creek in case he was smooth calling with a monster. I meekly checked and he bet out $15. I folded and, as a friend, asked Jamie what he had. He told me QJ, and I damned myself. First of all, I 100% believe him, since this is a friendly game. Second, an unskilled player could not do what Jamie did in that hand. I must've been clearly emoting weakness, but whatever the case, Jamie played the hand extremely well and I did not.

In the very next hand, I had a chance to redeem myself. I bet out $3.50 from EP/MP with AQd. I figured that it would be best to remain consistent. I got one caller, Tom G. The flop was all unders again and I bet out $5. He called. The turn was a blank and I decided that I was not going to repeat the $11 shitty bet from before. It was bad enough that I mirrored the crappy and ineffective $5 flop bet. He checked the turn as well. The river was a Jack. I checked. He bet out. I folded. He was kind enough to show AJo. Instead of giving up the lead on the river to a weaker hand, I gave up the lead on the turn, allowing my opponent to hit his three-outer river. I don't blame Tom G. I blame me.

I was going to walk, but I decided to play one more hand. I was dealt QQ, for my third top-10 hand in a row (with no top-10 hands in the 90 minutes prior to that). I bet out $3.50 preflop. I got something like 5 or 6 callers. I guess they all realized that I wasn't winning anything. The flop was AJX. I checked in EP and everyone checked. The turn was a Jack and I checked again. Someone bet and I folded. There were so many players that someone had to have the Ace or the Jack. This time, I think I did everything correct, except for maybe my preflop raise. Perhaps with the prior losses I needed to up the preflop bet, but that is an arguable point.

I was steaming pretty badly at that point, having chucked my cards violently all three hands. It's not something I do often, but this was just too much. I got up, said my goodbyes, made the usual joke about "This game is stupid. I didn't want to play anyway," and got the fuck out of dodge.

Back at home, wifey Kim gave me a hug to console me. Lost was fantastic. Online poker was left off.

I'm heading to AC tomorrow via bus. Solo. I appreciate all of comments about my last post. I think F-Train really hit the nail on its head when he suggested that the hardest part of this sort of trip is the laziness. If someone else is going, it's easy to say, "I'll meet you at X." When you are raging solo, it is up to you and you only when and if you do something.

That said, I think I need a day in AC to play against some donkeys. WSG is great and all, but the players are clearly talented and I need to remember that there are softer games out there. I also want to book a positive session, but I won't use the word 'need'. Poker doesn't work that way, and I plan to have fun no matter what.

I was thinking some more about taking the bus to AC solo. I realized that there is one thing that I fear as much as anything else: breaking the seal. Once I make that trip, what is going to stop me from making the trip every weekend. I know the answer to that. It's reality and my own guilty conscious. But still, breaking that seal of degeneracy is a dangerous thing to do. Good thing my middle name is Dangyr (spelled with an 'y' because my parents are pretentious...).

I'll leave you with one last hand from the WSG game. I min-raised KTs from the SB when it folded to me. I've been toying with min-raises a lot in SNGs/MTTs, and since I wanted to see a flop, I threw one in here as well. Jamie, in the BB, called. The flop was 494 with two spades, giving me a strong flush draw. I bet $4 and Jamie raised to $12. I thought about it and acted a bit confused as I called. The turn was a Queen of Spades, giving me the second-nut flush. I checked and Jamie bet $10. I said, "What a second. That's less than your last bet." I acted for a moment before tossing in $30. He pushed all-in and I insta-called. He showed A4 for trip 4s.

Before the river was dealt, Jamie offered business. Normally, I avoid these things, but I was running bad and Jamie is a nice guy and the host. I didn't want to be rude so I agreed to run it twice, even though I was ahead.

For those of you who don't know, some card rooms and homegames allow players to "do business" once they are all-in in a cash game. Basically, after the players see each others' cards, they can agree to run the river (or whatever community cards have not yet been dealt) more than one time (decided ahead of time). Usually, I see it done 3 times, but last night, Jamie requested to run it twice. If you win on all of the rivers (we'll stick to Jamie and my hand as an example) you win the whole pot. If you win one out of two, you split the pot. If you run it three times, you split the pot into thirds and you can win 1/3, 2/3 or the whole pot depending on the cards.

As I was saying, Jamie and I decided to run it twice, and the first card off was a Queen of Clubs, giving Jamie the full house. The next card was a blank, preserving my flush as the winning hand. So, thanks to Jamie for asking for business, thanks to me for being such a nice guy, and thanks for lady luck for being such a C U Next Tuesday.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:30 PM, ,

The Precipice of Degeneracy

I like to think of myself as a poker degenerate. I play poker almost daily (whether online or live), I've written about poker almost 5x per week for the last three years, and more often than not, I'll jump on the chance to play poker.

In my earlygoings, I considered these things to be the badge of honor of a degenerate. And unlike most people, I wore the name degenerate with a sense of pride; not ironic pride, real pride.

It is true that I am a young successful NY attorney with a beautiful loving wife, but I see myself in very different terms. I pride myself on not being the stereotypical young successful NY attorney with a beautiful loving wife. I have always seen myself as a little outside of the norm. When I was growing up, I hung with a group of social misfits. I was in the honors classes, but my friends were all in regular classes. I could get broads, but my most of my buddies were celebate (and not by choice). I always felt more like a grunge kid, a freak or a dirtbag than I did a upper-middle class overacheiver with opportunity abound.

Why this is, I just don't know. It's always been this way, since I was a kid on the playground sticking up for the underdog in the face of a popular jock to when I wore a trenchcoat in high school because my pre-emo (and pre-Columbine) self was reacting to a feeling of isolation inside.

But the reality is, no matter how I feel, a part of me is that young successful overachieving lawyer. And that part of me is the part of me that allows me to maintain the self-image of degeneracy (with pride) and even the outward appearance of degeneracy, while maintaining normalcy in my everyday life. Its what gets me to leave Jaime's Wall Street Game at 11pm on weeknights even though my commute is a 5 minute walk. It's what keeps me from playing higher stakes. And it keeps me from being the poker player I can be.

That last one is the tricky part.

Earlier in the week, I received a mass email from Wendy (of the WSG). Wendy is heading to AC for the weekend and invited a large assortment of people. It always amazes me the frequency with which people can travel. Whether it was Dawn from IHO traveling to AC every weekend for weeks at a time, Matty Ebs heading out to N.O., or Jaime or CK spending weeks at a stretch in Vegas (raging solo, no less), the ease and ability of these people and their ability to, as my good friend Nike used to say, Just Do It! blows me away.

So I said to myself, Self, if Wifey Kim is busy all Saturday morning and evening, why not head to AC for the day? And my self said to me, Great idea! I pulled the trigger, emailed Wendy that I would see her Saturday in AC, and decided to go via bus.

And then, the other part of me took over. It started with wifey Kim's harmless question, You are going by yourself? Why not invite a friend? Well, honey, I wasn't quite going by myself. I'd see Wendy and whoever else there, but I figured a text message wouldn't hurt. I texted Roose, Hole, b-i-l Marc, Davey Ruff and Timmy Bones, but in the end, none of them can go.

And suddenly, that degenerate part of me that says, Nothing to do, poker 3 hours away, cheap bus transportation, is at odds with the other part of me that says, Going solo is pathetic, 3 hours both ways is a long time on a bus, and I could get some work done that day/night.

Damn you, other part.

So I stand on the precipice of degeneracy. On one hand, if I go, I will be that person most of my family and friends silently worry about. A guy willing to travel 6 hours alone just to gamble. On the other hand, if I don't go, I will be letting down that part of me that feels like poker is needed. Degeneracy is needed. I need to spend more time playing this game live if I am going to be the player I want to be.

The precipice of degeneracy is a weird place to be. I guess until Saturday, I'll just enjoy my view on the top of the fence.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:36 PM, ,

Ode to the Hammer, a Symphony of Images

All of the following hands occurred during last night's Mondays at the Hoy. Pay close attention to the word appearing below the nameplate.








posted by Jordan @ 10:54 PM, ,

Token SNGs Simulblog, with Special Guest Garthmeister

With minimal scratch on FullTilt, and a continued stretch of less than optimal luck, I figure that the only way I'll play in tonight's MATH is if I win myself a seat via an $8.70 two-table SNG. I've discussed my tight strategy with these token SNGs before, so, in order to keep myself focused and hopefully turn my luck around, I've decided to simul-blog my token tourney here.

We kick off with 18 players. Garthmeister is the only person I know at my table. Without a doubt, he, too, is hoping to parlay this into a MATH win.

I'm in the SB with J4d. Garth limps, everyone else folds. I complete the SB (15 more) and then we see a flop of J75, with two clubs. I check, the BB min bets, and Garth bets 120. I fold. Garth takes down the pot, and then notices its me. We share greetings. In a separate IM window, he admits that he had JJ in that last hand.

I fold a bunch of crap hands, including A9d from UTG+1. Garth wins the hand when he flops 2-pair with AKo against ATo.

I'm back in the BB, and blinds are already up to 25/50. I'm dealt 56o and fold to a 4x BB raise from the CO.

I pay the 30 to see the flop along with 4 limpers with Q3o in the SB (blinds up to 30/60). I flop top pair, check, the first limper bets 60, another limper calls, and another raises. I fold. There is a re-raise and two see the turn, a 3. One guy pushes and the other folds.

AKo in the Hijack, so I raise pot, 210. It fold to Garth's BB, and he folds as well. Back up to 1450.

I see a flop with Q9o in the BB along with the SB and a loose player. I check the KJ7 flop and it checks around. Turn is a Ten. SB bets 200, and I pot it. He pushes all-in and I call. He shows AA. He did it to himself. The river is a 7 and I am up to 2930.

Garth's commentary:
Garthmeister: I'm playing two of these, just mowed through a batch of pierogies, and am double fisting a glass of wine and a beer.
Garthmeister: You should probablylive blog that last hand, and my SnG prep.

An all-in push comes from a player with 1135 in the Hijack. I fold my TT on the button, mostly because I am writing this while I decide what to do. A fold won't kill me, so I don't sweat it. I don't even want to face JQ there, although since blinds are at 50/100, he may be pushing light. Oh well. (BTW, I'm in 1st place, not that this means much other than the fact that I have room to fold).

I pot it from UTG+1 with 99 and take down the pot. We are 8-handed at the table.

I happily fold 45s from the BB when the SB pushes for 1k+. He's the same jabroni that pushed into my Tens. Gotta keep an eye on him. I then fold 34o from the SB. No need to steal or spend the 60 (blinds are moving up quickly).

I'm in 3rd/14 with about 2900. Garth is the only guy with more than me at our table. We are 7-handed. But he just busted in his other SNG, so I guess it isn't all Australian gravy.

I fold 75d from a loose monkey who min-raises. The push monkey to my right pushes in the next hand, so I fold my K6o. Dance for me, my monkeys!

I get JJ in MP and bet pot, 700. The guy to my immediate left calls. The flop is all unders with two spades. I bet all-in. I have him covered by about 800. He calls and shows A3c. The river is a club and I'm down to 810. In the next hand, I get KJh and push. I take down the pot for 1110 total.

I then fold my BB and SB to raises, down to 790. The pushmonkey is called when he pushes and shows Ace-little. The caller, the dick on my left, had K9 when he called. Sheesh! Pushmonkey wins, and Dick is still in it.

I push with A8c in MP and take down the pot. 1150. 11th of 11.

In the 240 BB, I get Q7o. It's the mathematically middle hand in poker. Just as Garth, who, unprompted, types:

Garthmeister: The computer hand!

Final table and I'm 6th/9. Garth is in 7th.

I fold the bloody hammer (72h) UTG. I frown.

Two shortstacks double up, including one off of Garth, who is on my immediate right. I didn't even realize it was him until 8 hands in.

I fold 83o to a raise when I'm in the BB, now 300. I fold 73o in the SB, which just moved up to 200/400. I'm down to 1550, 7th of 9. Fold hammer on the button. Why do you mock me, Lord?

A guy with slightly more chips than me decided he had to go to war with Ace little from MP. He runs into a high pocket pair and is busted.

As usual, the pushmonkey in the SB pushes, and I call, knowing that he does this with little Aces. He has A8 and I flop a Q and 7 to double up over 2200.

Another hero makes a stand, this time from the button with J9o and runs into a calling SB with A6o. We are down to 7.

Garth is forced all-in the next hand in a blind v. blind confrontation, but wins in dominating fashion, K7 v T7.

I see a flop with Jd4x after a limper in EP and a fold from Garth in the SB. Blinds are high at 250/500. The flop has three diamonds K32 and I push for 1k into the 1200 pot. He folds. I fold my T7 SB.

Garth pushes in MP and takes down the pot. I push in the same position with A9o in the next hand...and take down the pot.

300/600 blinds. In the BB, I get Q6o and fold to an early pusher. I have 2350 left. 6th/7 with Garth in 7th.

I fold my SB from a button bet by Garth. A middle stack doubles through the big stack, who is still healthy. Tilt must've set in though (the big stack lost on a suckout), so he pushes the next hand with J7o. The BB calls with KQ, but the flop has a Jack and the big stack actually got lucky, placing Garth and I in the money. Says Garth:

Garthmeister: Good outcome

I concur.

We now are playing for a token, since 6th gets some money, $14. I fold my BB and SB, left with 850 and blinds of 400/800. With AQc, I push in MP. I end up against AKo. I win $14 and Garth gets the token. The truth was, I should've folded, because Garth was going to be BB before me, and he would've been essentially all-in with 1350 or so.

So, gg to Garth. It just goes to show that these things can come down to one slip-up. I'm just lucky I held onto my strategy for as long as I did.

* * *

It's about two hours later. I decided I was not going to play the MATH since I did not win my token. Then I remembered the $14. I played a HU SNG for a token ($13.75) and came out victorious, with 4 minutes to spare before the Hoy. Ka ching!

So, what have we learned today?

1. A momentary slip up can undo a lot of hard work.

2. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

3. The winning formula for Token SNGs: (i) batch of pierogies, (ii) fist of wine, (iii) fist of beer.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:11 PM, ,

In Patience

Poker, poker, poker. But first, let me touch a tad on the Governor Spitzer post from yesterday. I sincerely believe that arguing, in general, is a futile task when it comes to issues like Gov. Spitzer's actions, so I did not expect to change anyone over to my way of thinking. But I am also an open person, and I am willing to listen to the other side of the argument and give credit where credit is due.

The one argument that really hit home came from GrayCalx (do you have a site? If so, let me know and I'll link it). GrayCalx essentially argued that the problem lies in the fact that a public official could be blackmailed due to his illegal actions. All too true, GrayClax, and probably the only way that Gov. Spitzer's conduct would affect his role as Governor (with the exception of the media frenzy, which is really what I am railing against).

But this used to be a poker blog a day and a half ago, so let's get back to the poker. I had a decent night at the online tables last night, even if it didn't feel so great. I busted in a couple of SNGs out of the money, including one I played with GCox over at Stars (just like old times, bud). I busted out of a 600 FPP SNG that awards a $26 token to first place. I was even able to bum $11 off of GCox in order to play the Mookie. Halfway through, when I busted with AK v QQ, I was secretly a little pleased. I apparently have very shortterm memory, because I knew (KNEW) that the tourney runs a bit later than I would like, but I still couldn't help myself but to play. At least when I busted, it meant a normal bed time.

So, with all of those losses, why am I so happy? Well, I placed 3rd in an $12 turbo 180 person SNG on Stars, and while $223 profit isn't quite the $500+ awarded for first place, I played well and had a positive result. If there is any positive encouragement to my online game, it is in MTTs lately. Along with the cash in the 180-person SNG, I cashed in a Bodog guarantee tourney twice in two weeks, and I generally feel that my MTT game (specifically 200 or so player MTTs) is my strongest game right now. Its all very temporary, I am sure, as I tend to go streaky with a game before it dies down and I switch to something else. But for the time being, these multitable tournaments are the bright spot in my poker day.

While playing and chatting with G, we got to talking briefly about my recent stagnation at poker. I knew that I developed (or redeveloped) some leaks from my best game, but I hadn't quite taken the time to identify the leak. Then it just lept at me, largely because I caught myself stealing in the SNG with GCox when I just didn't need to. "Patience. That's my leak." I said to G in the chat box. And its true. The biggest leak to my game is not some of my sometimes counterintuitive thought processes. Its my lack of patience. Its the reason why I keep finding myself in bad situations...I'm putting myself there! This also coincides with my current best game, 200-person MTTs. Simply put, I find myself able to be more patient when I know that I only get "one life" in these tournaments. I also feel confident that I can fold until I get premium hands. For some reason, though, I've been pushing the action elsewhere.

Recognizing the problem is the first step, so at least I've gotten that far. I've already come to believe that "a Power greater than ourselves" (i.e., variance) can restore me to the right path, too, so Step 2 is done! Now 10 more to go!

But back to the poker. I saved two hands last night, one in which I once again made a fold where some might endorse a different play, and another where I made a call where others might suggest a fold.

I was playing a three-table 6-max SNG, with 1605 chips at Stars and blinds of 50/100. I was the "shortstack" of the table, and had been playing tight with bursts of aggression. We were shorthanded at 4 players when the following happened:

On the button, I am dealt KK. It folds to me and I raise to 300. The SB folds and the BB, Reese with 2825, calls.

The flop comes down A85, rainbow. Reese bets out 500. The pot is 650 before his bet. I wanted to call here, but I just couldn't. He was representing the Ace, and while he may just be doing it because he is hoping that I do not have the Ace, I just couldn't pull the trigger. I folded. Correct? Incorrect? I just believed that it was more likely that he called 200 more with Ax or even 55 or 88 than that he called it with some other underpair or KJ or any two and then decided to bluff at the Ace-high flop. Let's assume that he didn't hit the Ace. Wouldn't he be too scared that I did hit it?

The other hand took place at the Mookie. I really wasn't paying as much attention as I should've, since I was down to the final three in my FT 600 FPP SNG and then down to the final table at my Stars 180 SNG during the earlier portion of the Mook. However, I did see one hand, where pokerdad13 (blog?) busted Hoyazo with pokerdad's A4 to Hoy's A9. I didn't see the action play out, but the board was A49X4. That alone conjured up a variety of scenarios (was pokerdad in the blind and just got lucky when his two pair, which looked good, rivered his fullhouse, OR did pokerdad play A4 preflop after some action?). Upon further review, pokerdad also had played over 50% of the hands he had played at my table, according to PokerTracker/AceHUD. There was only a very small number of hands, less than 30, but that was a lot of info. If nothing else, it suggested that in the very short term, our man, pokerdad, was playing loose poker. Combine that with the hand against Hoy, and its safe to say that pokerdad is probably making plays with marginal hands.

The blinds were still 30/60 and I was down to 1275 from my starting stack of 1500. On the button, I was dealt AQo. The action folded to me and I raised to 180. TiltAway (blogger?) called in the SB with 1140 chips, and pokerdad13 pushed all-in from the BB with 1930. That's when I saw the PokerTracker stats and remembered the Hoy hand. After waiting for the 15 second warning, I called. He showed KQo, and my hand held up.

That hand reminded me of the other part of patience. It isn't enough to wait for good hands. You also need to examine your players in anticipation of those situations, or else the patience will be wasted (or at least, you won't be as effective when the good hands come around). Sure, this is basic stuff, but it is easy to forget the basics when you spend more time on doing than on thinking.

Good stuff, I tell ya. I feel better about my recent downswing, I hope to play more MTTs, and I love my poker!

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:01 PM, ,

Spitzer or Swallow?


If you haven't heard by now, it was recently announced that married NY Governor Elliot Spitzer was involved in a prostitution ring, and as a result of the announcement, Governor Spitzer had no choice but to resign from office. Gov. Spitzer, a horrible hypocrit who actually was involved in prosecutions against prostitution rings, may face severe federal penalties under the appropriately-named Mann Act, which makes it a federal offense to transport a person across state lines for the purpose of prostitution. By participating in this far-reaching, multi-state prostitution ring, Gov. Spitzer revealed that his years of public service taking on corruption in the insurance and financial industries was not an act of reform, but rather a diabolical plan from an evil man as part of his desires of worldwide domination. First, shut down illegal practices on Wall Street that hurts the stock markets and everyday people, then gain the Govenorship, then see a hooker and then WORLD DOMINATION! Thankfully, by uncovering the lurid sexual activities of Gov. Spitzer, crisis has been averted.


Here's the real deal, people. Elliot Spitzer is a man. He is a man with ambition, as all politicians are. He does what has to be done to get to where he wants to be. But at least he had the right ideas. Unlike many other politicians out there, Spitzer was a reformer who was willing to take on enemies other politicians shied from. Because of this, he won the hearts of New Yorkers, winning in a landslide barely a year ago. Now, 15 months into his first term as governor, his rise to a position where he could continue to serve the community has been thwarted. Why? Because he "participated in a prostitution ring". Some may read that and think that Gov. Spitzer had organized/funded/found girls for/kidnapped babies to be raised in a high-class hooker farm for the "prostitution ring." In reality, he got his dick sucked.

I am willing to guess that well over 50% (I would honestly surmise 75% or higher) of male politicians have extramarital affairs. As politicians, they are naturally ambitious, even when it comes to poontang. They tend to travel, as was Spitzer's case. He was going to Washington, DC, leaving his wife and family in NY, knew about a service that offered discreet girls for copulation and must have thought he was 100% in the clear.

This is not to say that it is "okay" for a married man to "cheat" on his wife with a hooker. It might be okay. We just don't know. For those moralists, I ask, How do you know that Mrs. Spitzer didn't know about or was even okay with the Governor getting a little paid-for snatch. She looks upset on TV? Maybe its because she doesn't want her personal life publicized. Maybe she doesn't want to have to explain at her country club that, "Oh yes, my husband was banging a whore, but its a reputable whore service and it saves me from having to blow him." It might not be the way you roll, but it takes all kinds out there.

Some may even say (myself included) that seeing a hooker is actually a lot better than having a mistress. First of all, it is purely about sex and not a relationship, so from a marital standpoint, some people may find it preferable or even, in some instances, acceptable. Second, from a man-in-power standpoint, I rather have my Governor getting some bareback cooch for $4,300, busting his load and calling it a day some 1.35 minutes later, rather than have him cavorting around town trying to pick up some strange. "Get your rocks off and get back to work Mr. Govenor. You having a meeting with the head of the NYS Board of Education in 1 hour." "No problem, friendly staffer. If the succubus doesn't arrive in 30 minutes or less, the rim job is free!"

If there is one argument where I can sorta see a point, its the issue of hypocrisy and the need to appear like a law-abiding citizen when placed in a role of power. Yet, even this one falls short. I've seen the argument made that Spitzer prosecuted prostitution rings, and therefore, he's a hypocrit if he does both (prosecutes and prostitutes). I say thee nay! Gov. Spitzer was doing his job when he was prosecuting the prosties. He did not have the right to change the laws; that's for the legislature. He was merely to prosecute. Was he to say, "Nay, ladies and gentlemen. Though the police have brought this prostitution ring to my attention, I shall deny such prosecution in the name of paid-for-box for all!!" No. He was going to prosecute. It was his job. Every day, I do something that I might not do if not for my job. It doesn't mean I personally relate to everything I must do. It just means that I know what I have to do in my position.

The bottom line is that this is a bullshit scandal. There is no reason why this should require Gov. Spitzer's resignation. It is not as though he slept with a young, naive intern...although even that is ok to me. It is not as though he a crusader against prostitution, like Craig was a crusader against homosexuality. The only reason why Gov. Spitzer must resign is that the media has made this into a circus. Nothing would be easy for Spitzer after this, with the national media attention, coupled with the stigma that the media will attach to anything(/anyone) Spitzer does.

It's all a bunch of smoke and mirrors. And as a result, a much-needed reformer has been brought to his knees.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 2:21 PM, ,

One, Two, Three Years a Bloggy


(that is all)

posted by Jordan @ 5:47 PM, ,

Trail Mixed

First, let me thank the people who took the time to comment on the folding AKo hand. I was a bit surprised to see that most players call 800 or so out of their 2100 stack with AKo. I suppose it just goes to show how I tend to think about and play the game in a different manner than most. Usually, I like to think that it's what makes me different that also makes me so very very awesome, but I have to admit that the commentors have me seriously reconsidering that play. I suppose I was going on a bit of the ole Spidey Sense when I determined that the MP pusher had a pocket pair, leaving me with a coin toss weighted in his favor. I couldn't fathom many weak Aces, aside from AJ and AQ, but if so many smart players seem to think that those hands and other Aces are more likely than a pocket pair (or at least are likely enough to make a call correct), then its something I have to reconsider. I'm all about self-improvement, so once again, thanks to those who took the time to comment.

Now, let's get to the pokah! When Jamie sends out Evites to the Wall Street Game, my policy is to reply Yes if there is any chance I can make it, and then, if I can't make it, find out immediately and change my response. The reason is simple: Jamie's Evite list is something like 80 players for 11 seats. Usually, if I don't already know about a scheduling conflict, I'm free and clear. But every once in a while, I sign up for the Evite list, go about my business, and forget that the game ever existed.

Up until Sunday night, I totally forgot about Jamie's 3/6 HOSE game, a mix of limit Hold'em, Omaha 8 or better (aka Hi/Lo), Stud (Hi) and Stud 8 or better (aka Hi/Lo). Thankfully, an email reminder put me back on track. Still, after a long day at work on Monday (mostly, just suffering through the Monday doldrums, as opposed to anything particularly stressful), I took my timing making it home and over to the Wall Street Game.

Part of my hesitancy was my desire to spend some time with wifey Kim. Part of it was the fact that 23Skidoo was in town and we were short a seat. I figured I could give him at least an hour of poker tomfoolery if I dragged my ass enough.

At home, I made myself a quick sandwich and changed into appropriate poker gear: my cargo pants with plentiful pockets, my original blue (and now tattered) Superman t-shirt, a hoodie, my iPod, sunglasses and my mini-Buddha statue/card cap. I recently purchased a new Buddha card cap from the Chinese gentleman who sets up his folding table of incense mini-statues and bongs outside my apartment building. I had been using a mini green Buddha, holding a sack over his shoulder as my Happy Traveling Buddha for the last couple of months, but since things have been slow, I decided to re-buy my original red and gold sitting Buddha. It was the first Buddha card cap I bought, and it served me well. But like a lot of my poker nicknacks, I lost the damn thing, so $3 was well worth replacing it.

I strolled over to Jamie's place listening to Adam Carolla's west coast morning radio show via podcast. As I entered the apartment, I looked around the seemingly-full table. There were some familiar faces like Skidoo, Wendy, the Rooster and Alceste, but there were also some new ones, including big winner Joel and Dustin. Eying the table, I counted out the players only to discover that we were shorter than expected. I squeezed in a seat to the left of the bigstacked Joel (unintentionally, but happily) and to the right of Jamie's pal Paulie. As I entered, we were in the middle of a round of Omaha 8.

If the mood (and the company) is right, poker can be a lot of fun. Thankfully, everyone was in a mostly lighthearted mood (suckout victims temporarily excluded), and I started gabbing immediately. It started with just joking comments, but by the end of the night, I probably laughed more than I had in weeks, if not months. It was just the right chemistry. I could make my wiseass comments and people would be ready for the comeback or the alley-oop to an even funnier comment.

Laughing is great, and that alone makes playing a +EV experience, but I also have to commend the poker. It isn't often that I get to play mixed games live, but my track record is pretty good. I tend to play a fairly loose-looking gaming, but that has more to do with how vocal I am in hands, rather than how many hands I actually play. Yesterday, my goal was to be careful with hand selection, while considering the dwindling player count (the first casualty was the Rooster, who probably had some broad(s) waiting for him anyway).

While I don't remember many specific hands of the night, I did get that sinking suspicion early on that a few people thought I was donking it up. I'll admit, I do care what people think of me sometimes, and it irked me a tad. The worst part, though, was that the people who seemed to be doubting my play were just wrong. I had a lot of draws by the time I "got lucky", and if they chose not to see that, it was really on them, not me. That said, I caught myself starting to defend my play until I remembered that it is better for me if they think I'm a donk. That should be second nature for me now, since I cultivate a donk image at times (especially in mixed games), but sometimes ego can get in the way of logic.

Having restained myself, I went back to having fun at the table. One specific hand comes to mind that was particularly enjoyable. I started one hand of Stud8 with A2/4 with two diamonds. It's a great starting hand for the low, with decent potential for the high. In the first round of betting, it quickly got down to Skidoo and I. Skidoo had a Jack showing, and, I believe, hit a Queen on 4th Street to my 7. It was immediately clear, then that he was playing for the high and I was playing for the low. Skidoo joked about how we were going to chop it so betting was pointless, but I didn't respond directly. Instead, when he bet, I played along and called, as we joked around. On the next card I locked up my low with a 3. I stopped even looking at Skidoo's board, which showed a lot of paint (i.e., face cards) and no signs of a low. Skidoo bet out, and this time, knowing full well that I was getting half the pot at the very least (and also knowing that there was no rake), I raised, hoping to land a 5 for a wheel to scoop against his likely 2-pair. Skidoo called and we saw 6th street, where I received a 6 for an even better 6432A low (second nut low behind A2345). I had also developed a diamond flush draw. At this point, Skidoo checked and I decided to continue to build the pot. I had no chance of losing any money and I had a slim chance of rivering my straight or flush to win the whole pot. My river was a Queen of diamonds, and Skidoo check called my bet. It was a rough hand for him, but all I did was exploit my locked-up low.

Skidoo suffered some other suckouts from other players but took it mostly in stride. I suffered a few suckouts too, including a couple of hands where I held the nuts until the very fateful river. Still, overall I was doing just fine.

One other hand sticks out to me. There were probably 5 players in an Omaha8 hand, where I held 2246. The flop came down A78, and I figured I was probably good for the low (the only low that beat me was 23. I believe I bet and got at least two callers, Jamie and Skidoo. The turn was another Ace, making the board A78A. I bet once again, hoping to keep both players in the pot. When you are playing the low, it makes you no money to only have one caller, since you are only getting 1/2 of the pot. If you can get another player to call, though, then you and the high are each going to get 1/2 of the bets placed into the pot by the third player. Even though that 1/2 of a bet ($1.50 in early rounds, $3 in late rounds, since its a 3/6 stucture) is a small amount, the game is all about exploiting for small bets.

To my joy, the river was a 2, giving me 2s full of Aces. The only shortcoming of the card was that it ruined my low. Prior to the rivered 2, I had an 8742A low, with the 2 and 4 as my hole cards. As I've already mentioned, I only feared someone holding 23, and since I had two 2s, it was fairly unlikely, especially given the action (or lack thereof). I was in position, I believe, so one of the players would have probably bet out on the flop before me if he/she flopped the nut low with 23XX.

With the rivered 2, all sorts of combinations beat me for the low. Still, my 222AA was probably good for the high, since I doubted someone was slowplaying or check/calling down with a better fullhouse. Once again, my biggest fear in that spot should be A2XX, since that hand would play preflop, and may call down even when they hit trip Aces in order to avoid a plyer with a better trip Ace kicker. But, once that river came, they'd be a fool not to bet out, lest they go for the check raise, and in any event, if someone had the A2, I was willing to lose an additional $12 on the river.

At showdown, Skidoo and I ended up chopping the pot. He held something like A367, for trip Aces and a A2367 low. While we split up the chips, I could tell that he wasn't happy about that river. My 2-outter (literally a 2, 2 outter, since I needed the 2), cost him the high end of the pot...until I pointed out that prior to the river, I was ahead for the low. While that 2 felt like a godsend, it really was nothing more than a mirror. If almost any other card comes off on that river, I take the low with my 24, and he takes the high with his trip Aces. As it were, I took the high with my rivered full house, and he took the low with his rivered 76-low (lows are sometimes refered to by their two highest this case, we'd call Skidoo's low hand, a seventy-six low).

By the time 11pm rolled around, I was up about $100. I decided that it was a good time to cash out and leave, but the pull of poker was too strong, especially since the next game up for bid was Omaha8, one of my favorites. Halfway through the orbit, I was down to $42 profit. It was terrible. I basically chased a super-wrap. The board showed J9x, and I had QT87. Any King, Ten, Queen, Eight, or Seven (16 outs) would've given me a straight....but frankly, I'm being a tad disingenuous. The flop also had two spades, so that lost me a bunch of outs. I had at least one spade, so I really had something like 12 outs, but the long and short of it was that nothing came. Down to about $42 in profit, I decided to just fold my way home...until the last hand. I don't really remember too many specifics other than I had a bunch of low cards, 2468, had a decent low, and drew to an 8-high heart flush. 8-high flushes are often crap in Omaha 8, but with a decent low, I decided to take it to the river, already working out my max losses (which would keep me in the black for the night). To my pleasure, it turned out that my flush was good against Skidoo (who had top two pair or a set) and within an orbit, I went from $100 to $40 back to $100.

When I cashed out, I was up $102. The game felt great. I love playing mixed games. It's almost like that feeling I got when I first started playing NLHE. It's the excitement of something new and the fun of learning. It is also the joy of being a teeny step ahead of the pack. I may appear to be a donkey at that table, but I am confident that I have a better feel for the game than most (with some exceptions at Jamie's table). Most of all, though, I really enjoyed the game because it was fun...and no one took my shtick too seriously.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:30 AM, ,

Weekend Speakend

Yo yo yo! We are one day away from my third bloggoversay. But that post is for another day. Today, I'd rather reflect on the weekend.

My poker itch continues, and I can't seem to scratch enough. Even so, I am in one of those dry spells. I think I see the end of the tunnel, but since poker has no memory, the truth is, I can only take each day as it comes. Streaks, after all, are meaningless until after the fact. It's nice to say, "I won 10 tournaments in a row!" but before each of those 10 tournaments, it meant nothing to think, "I have won x tournaments in a row! I'm bound to win this one!" It just doesn't work that way, even though sometimes I wish there were more meaning to the ups and downs of luck.

But no complaints from your truly. This weekend, I had the pleasure of playing a $20+2, 10k guarantee tournament on Bodog with 422 players. If you are a mathamagician, you've already figured out that Bodog had to chip in a 78 player overlay, for $1560 extra into the prize pool. Another fun way to look at it is that for all of the 422 players, FT was tossing in an extra $3.70! Yeah, somehow that doesn't seem like much, but its more than the $2 fee for the tournament, so Bodog lost cash on the game.

I've been playing more and more MTTs lately, generally in the 100-200 player range as a means of keeping poker interesting. I go through phases, and right now, I just want to win something big. Truth be told, I haven't even played much tourneys of that size (100-200) lately, even though it is my current stated preference. I figure I've played maybe 15 tournaments of that size in the last month, if that much. When you consider those numbers compared to some players, the truth is that my online output is minimal. But I still want my lotto ticket, especially since I think I have an edge on the other lotto players. I also love the allure of big money.

Of course, if I won the $2500 first prize for the 10k guaranteed tournament, I would have mentioned it much sooner. As it ended up, I placed in 19th for $70 (without the gurantee, the payout would've been $59 and change). I wanted to last until 18th for $110, but I lost a cointoss (AJ v 99), which set me up as the tiny-stack and ushered in my destruction.

Alas, a little bit of scratch is better than none. If nothing else, the small cash will keep me in more tourneys at Bodog, while FT is broke and Stars is underfunded. I may have some money coming my way at FT soon, which will be nice, but as it now stands, I'm happy with Bodog. The interface may not be the best, and I can't use PokerTracker or AceHUD there, but the players are pretty weak.

As part of Operation Turnaround, I've also began dabbling in Bodog's PLO8 cash tables. All I can say is, the fish are biting.

I leave you with what might be an obvious fold, and might not be. I know that I had to think this one out before laying it down. Here's the setup:

We are probably 1 hour or more into the Bodog $10k Guarantee, and just chipped up to $2100 after my stack dwindled down due to tight play since the tournament's start. In the hand that I won, I held AQh, flopped my Ace and kept betting until my opponent folded. In the very next hand, I am dealt AKo in the BB. I haven't been paying too much attention to the table because I'm multitabling with a 180 SNG on Stars. However, I do know that there has been a lot of action at the table.

In MP, a player pushes all-in for about 860. I fold my AKo UTG (with T2100). So, with minimal facts, is this an easy fold? I guess the real question is, what do you do when you have a nagging suspicion that players are pushing light (blinds were 50/100 at least) and you hold a "drawing" hand like AKo? As we know, I folded because I thought that the pot was not big enough to warrant a call. Even so, I wonder if you all think it is that obvious of a fold. After all, does it make sense to game 800 or so on a coin toss where I believe the chance of me dominating (AJ or AQ) is higher than being dominated (KK or AA)?

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:48 PM, ,

Poker on the TV: Breaking With the Hammer

From time to time, poker rears its head into realms beyond its usual reach. Kathy Griffin went on a blind date with Michael Matusow on her Bravo show Life on the D-List. Everybody in Baltimore plays poker according to The Wire. Poker's very own "bad boy" Jean-Robert Bellande was even a castaway on Survivor. Hell, poker has even been played by the thespians on The L-Word, and Marge Simpson even has her own account on

This week, we have a proud new addition to the obscure poker references in pop culture, hailing from the AMC twisted dramedy Breaking Bad. But the most important part about this hand was the television premiere of everyone's favorite hand, the hammer.

For those of you who do not know, Breaking Bad is about a high school science teacher who decides to cook meth to earn money for his family and treatments when he discovers he has terminal cancer.

In the poker-centric scene, Bryan Cranston's Walter White is playing a loose game of NLHE in his living room on the coffee table with his wife, handicapped teenage son, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law. The brother-in-law, Hank Shrader, played expertly by Dean Norris, is also a DEA agent and has no idea that Walter is on his way to becoming the America's Next Top Meth Kingpin.

All players are in the hand when the flop comes down with three hearts. It checks around. The turn is a blank, and it checks around again. The river is an offsuit Ace.

I never expect much when it comes to poker and television shows. In classic TV convenience, after the river, every player except Walt and Hank folded. There was no raise before them. They just folded. I shuddered. When the action go to Walt, he hesitated and then pushed all-in. Hank took his time, trying to determine what to do. Walt, after all, is a seemingly straight-laced guy. His push all-in obviously meant he had the flush, so Hank folded AKo face-up. Walt, to my delight, showed 27s, the Black Hammer! I believe the last line of the scene was, "He had a crazy handful of nothin'."

Obviously, the scene is a metaphor for the fact that Walt is hiding more from Hank than just the Black Hammer. But I'm just glad that poker and the hammer (albeit a suited form) got its due.

And while we are at it, I found some other obscure TV-poker connections. While watching the Real World/Road Rules Challenge with wifey Kim, I began to wonder about past RW/RR favorite, Michael "The Miz" Mizanin (Real World 10, Return to New York). After appearing on Real World and probably 4 or 5 RW/RR Challenge (not to mention some cheesy TV show along the lines of a battle of the reality TV stars), the Miz appeared on season 4 of WWE's Tough Enough competition, with the winner getting a contract with the WWE. Well, he lost, but I guess his RW notoriety was enough to get him a spot with the WWE, where he now wrestles under their ECW banner and is co-holder of the WWE tag team championship (Note: I have no idea who the other half of the tag team champs is).

So, why am I regaling you with all things Miz. Well, because not too surprisingly, he plays poker too, and has an interesting poker-related post on his blog. Go take a read if you are interested. There isn't anything particularly enlightening, other than the fact that we all go through the same poker routine. Miz starts by writing about how he learned the game from his father's homegame, and then continues on about his experience at Hollywood Park for a celebrity charity tournament. In fact, if you read the thing, other than the mention of celebrities, it could've been written by any of us bloggers.

In other weird news, I got some text messages from Matty Ebs about a new gig he got dealing at an underground poker room that only spreads 2/5 and up. That's higher than I am used to playing, but I am interested in spreading my wings, so I started to ask him about details. That's when I discovered that the poker club was none other than the Salami Club. According to Ebs, its still open and the 2/5 game plays like 1/2 or 5/10 depending on the time of night and the patrons. In other words, it looks like I'll be making my return to the Salami Club in the early evenings, hoping to capitalize on the 1/2-like play. No date for my return is set yet, but I'm setting the over/under at 10 days (I'd take the under).

I also coincidentally got an email from Roose today asking about our next AC trip. We are eying the first weekend in May, but the room rates are crazy. I may just have to get another poker room rate from the Trop to make it worthwhile. What wonderful problems to have.

Poker, poker everywhere, and not a donk to dink.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:29 PM, ,

You Decide #59

I stumbled across a tricky hand in a 45-person Turbo SNG on Stars.

I was sitting on 1440 chips with blind of 25/50 when I was dealt TT in the Hijack (one seat to the right of the cutoff; two seats to the right of the button). I had been fairly quiet with flurries of activity. When it folded to me, I decided to raise to 250. I had been experimenting with larger bet sizes and in this particular case, I wanted to limit my opponents and their potential holdings.

The SB, Oka, called with 1100 chips. Everyone else folded.

The flop was Ad Ks Jd. I don't think it could've been worse. The SB checks, and I have only 1190 left and my opponent has only 850. The pot was 550. I decided to bet 400.

At the time, my logic for the 400 bet was as follows: My opponent either hates or loves this flop. If he hates it, it's because he was calling me with an underpair (88, for instance), or he hit a pair but not top pair. If that is the case, I need to bet him off of his hand. If he loves it, he is checking with the expectation that I will continuation bet. In that case, I need to bet low enough that I can fold if he decides to come over the top.

400 felt like the right amount. It was about 80% of the pot size, left me with over 700 with blinds of 25/50 if I had to fold. It was also enough that it would pot-commit my opponent. In the past, I have advocated these types of bets, 50% of your opponent's stack. The logic is that if you do not want a call, the 50% mark will scare your opponent, but if they call or raise, they have a solid hand (they are willing to put themselves all-in), at which point you can fold for 1/2 the price (as opposed to pushing and hoping that they will fold). I figured the 400 bet was enough to push out a player who had missed the flop entirely or thought that I had an Ace to his lesser pair.

Naturally, if the bet worked, we wouldn't be discussing it. As it turned out, my opponent flat called, and we saw the turn, Kc. This is another horrible card, mostly because it emboldens the donkey playing a King who may've awfukit-called the 400 flop bet.

This time, Oka the SB bet 450, putting himself all-in. I folded.

So, could I have played this hand better? Should I have just check/folded once I saw the AKJ flop? Didn't I need to at least try to win this pot?

If I had to do it again, I am not quite sure what I would do. While I like my logic behind the 400 bet, I wonder if the 400 was too valuable to me (given my 1190 stack) to risk. Hence, I leave it to you to decide.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:37 PM, ,