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Someone Made a Badugi

I played at the Wall Street Game a couple of nights ago for the first ever Lowball-themed 3/6 limit night. One of the great things about Jamie's games is the variety of games he hosts. If you like tourneys, he's go cheapo single table $30s running twice a night, once a week or so. If you like NLHE cash, he usually has one of those every two weeks or so. And lately, more and more, non-hold'em games are rearing their ugly heads at the WSG.

This was a particularly interesting night of poker. The roster of games was Razz, 2-7 Triple Draw, and Badugi, three games that are rarely available live. This reflected in the players, some of whom had never played these games at all. In fact, one player had trouble recognizing why it was probably best to fold his Jack/XX hand in Razz because, "I had two low cards underneath."

I am a great advocate of adjusting ones game to the conditions presented and when you have a bunch of newbies playing lowball games, the action can usually be pretty sloppy. Once players start calling the early streets, they feel locked in for the later streets. The result is that hand selection was paramount. It's true if you look at it another way as well. I know what constitutes a terrible, marginal, good and great starting hand in Razz. I have somewhat of an understanding of starting hands in 2-7 and Badugi. But all of this knowledge has come with hands-on experience, mostly from the Ship It Fish (Bradley) mixed games and the conversations that ensued. There just isn't that much out there to read on these games and frankly, none of these players would've read what is out there anyway. So one of my big advantages was hand selection. Accordingly, I played tight. Mostly. I mean. It is me.

I don't recall any real hands, but I got off to a decent lead, picking up some early pots in the first round of Razz by sticking with hands that had 3 cards 8 and below. After Razz, a new player, Roger, on my immediate left, hit the couch, sitting out for Badugi and 2-7, two games that require less players because of the multiple draws. Roger, as it turned out, hadn't RSVP'ed for the game, so Razz was the only game that could accomodate an extra player.

After coming out with an early lead in Razz, I slowed down considerably. I want to write that I was card dead, but that isn't exactly true. I wasn't getting an overwhelming amount of good hands, but then again, we weren't playing too many hands as it were.

The problem with new games, and perhaps new players, is that there is often a lag time in action. People are too busy looking with a confused expression at their cards to know it is their turn to act. Other people know it is their turn to act, but can't figure out what all those cards mean. When you add multiple games like Badugi and 2-7 with similar but significantly different rules, it can make things even worse. For instance, in Badugi, Ace is considered low (which is good). In 2-7, it is considered high (bad). That's a big fucking deal when you think you have a nut low but actually have a really weak hand.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Convention was playing on Jamie's flat-screen, newly-wall-mounted TV. I swear, every time I go to the WSG, I'm amazed at what a great setup Jamie has. In fact, this was my first time playing on his new poker table, complete with padded rim, suede table top, chip racks and cup holders. It's fucking amazing.

Lately, though, poker has lost a bit of its grip on me. I think it is part of the summer doldrums, or perhaps its the realization that this game can be brutal, and not as romantic as we all once believed. Don't get me wrong, dear reader. These things won't take me away from the game any more than smog will take me away from breathing air, but it does make me want to breathe a bit less deeply. Or, you know, summer doldrums.

At about 10:15 or 10:30, we had completed the second round of Razz and Roger got ready to return to his spot on the couch. This is when I decided to make my early exit. I must admit, having wifey Kim and my apartment so nearby can make leaving a bit too easy at the WSG. First and foremost, though, I don't want to leave if it will bust the game prematurely. In this case, I would be doing just the opposite; by leaving, I was letting a player into the game, instead of taking a player out. The game itself was slow (that's just the nature of the beast) and my interest was fading fast. So was my stack.

I was up probably $20-30 when I decided to fuck around on one of my last Razz hands, playing 5/5T, hoping to force players out of the pot with my up-till-then tight play. I didn't start ramming and jamming until 4th street, when I got a 2(5/5T) and my opponents all bricked except for one guy who called preflop with a Queen showing. As the hand progressed, I hit another Ten and the Queen-guy hit another low card for my T25/5T vs. his A3Q/XX. On the next card, I hit another high card and he hit another low. I finally shut down my betting. By the river, he bet out and I folded. At least I saved myself the last $6.

When I cashed out, I was up $8. I made a big scene about how I ate my dinner for free thanks to the losers at the table, another tongue-in-cheek comment, because really, $8? Whatever. I tipped the house $3 and hit the road.

I wonder lately if my ADD nature is getting in the way of my live play, but the reality is that I just haven't had the right environment (time, place, and mentally) to play the long sessions I'd played in the past. I need to make a casino trip, where I feel that I am at war and the stakes matter. Until then, though, I'm glad to have Jamie and the WSG. After all, I can't play Badugi in AC.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:57 AM,


At 12:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they are spreading silly lowball games, I may beg you for an intro to this game...

By the way, personally, my ADD tendancies hurts my computer play more than my live play... I get more distracted and bored when I am alone with just my computer and TV... but slow-moving live games with low stakes get me loose and nutty as well... so now I am contradicting myself... which I also blame on my ADD tendancies.

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Thanks for the props!


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