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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,


At 2:31 PM, Blogger BWoP said...

I am so bummed that I had to miss mixed game night at Wall Street Poker.

It's always one of my favorites.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger 23skidoo said...

Good lord that was a painful night for me, my junk still hurts a week later.


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