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Wall Street Reads

High-dee ho, neighbors. After writing what felt like a novella on a simple overnight to Foxwoods, my poor blogging fingers are almost as worn out as my blogging brain. This week has been nothing but non-stop work, followed by fits of relaxation in the evenings. No complaints from the J-man, though, as I realize I am lucky to be where I am, who I am, doing what I do.

And in that vein, I had the extreme pleasure of returning to the Wall Street Game on Wednesday to play some .50/1 NLHE, with a max buy-in of $125. Last week, I received an evite from host Jamie about two tournaments held on Monday. Jamie's amazingly well-run tournament is actually a series of events with a small percentage of each buy-in going to a prize pool that is awarded half to the season's top ranked player who played 1/3 of the events and half to the winner of a freeroll played between the 2nd through 10th top ranked players for the season. It's all quite impressive in scope, but when you haven't played a single tournament in a season, giving up that 10% buy-in per game and the lower stakes in general make it less than perfect for a guy like me. This is in no way a knock on Jamie or the structure. It's merely a statement as to the fact that the tournament is no longer the big appeal for me at the WSG.

Jamie is nothing if not a generous host, so when I RSVP'ed No to the tournament game with the statement, "I can't lose my money fast enough in a tournament," he was kind enough to set up the .50/1 NLHE game on Wednesday. Jamie has probably 80+ people on his evite list, so by the time I saw the evite a few hours later, he had already maxed out on players. Lemon! Fortunately, a few days later, a player dropped out and Jamie looked out for yours truly, adding me to the list.

I strolled into the game a little after 7pm. The place was already pretty full, and players were buying in for their starting stacks. I opted for $100, and found a seat to the right of Bacini Mary and the left of Paul in the Hamily. To Paul's right was Brian, one of the more aggressive players in the game. He and I would tangle more than a few times in the game.

The game started out pretty hot, with players willing to raise decent amounts from the getgo. I've played at the WSG too many times to count, but Wednesday night was a particularly interesting evening, mostly because of the fast and furious action. I suppose the other particularly interesting aspect was my reads, which were, for the most part, dead-on.

We'll start with a hand where I got a little frisky, limping with a marginal (if not dangerously weak) KT. There were a lot of limpers and the button raised to $3. By the time it got to me, no one had folded, so I called as well.

The flop came down T93, with two diamonds. I had top pair, second kicker. When it checked to me, I bet out $8. I was immediately raised by Liezl, a female player sitting a few seats to my left. From my experiences, Liezl is a tricky player to play against. I've seen her overcommit to overpairs or even just pocket pairs, but I've also seen her crush the souls of mere mortals when they have underestimated her holdings. There's a certain level of unpredictability, so when she raised to $16 and everyone else folded, I didn't know what the right move was. She might've had AT, which would have me crushed, or even 33, for a flopped set. Hell, she could've had T9 for two-pair, for all I knew. After all, there were so many players in the hand preflop, she could've played any two for the simple limp and the pot-odds $3 call.

I flat called, hoping to control pot size and get more info on the turn. The turn was an 8 of spades, creating a spade flush draw to go along with the diamond flush draw. I checked, and Liezl bet out $15. See what I mean about being unpredictable? She actually bet less on the turn than on the flop. I still didn't have a full grasp of what she was doing, but I decided to call again.

The river was a baby spade, filling the possible spade flush draw. I checked and Liezl bet out $50. I tried to talk it up a bit. "$50?! I thought this was a friendly game?!" I tried to read her for a tell; she seemed to be pretty quiet, which led me to believe that she was not entirely confident. I literally turned away from the table as I worked out the action in my head. Preflop calling, raising the flop, small bet on the turn, big bet on the river. $50 may not have been big in relationship to the pot, but it was a big bet in terms of psychology. It felt like the type of bet that is designed to push the opponent out of the hand. All of this pointed to a call, but I still internally argued whether I was reading this particular player right. It may be that 9 out of 10 people raising $50 here are trying to push out their opponent, but if Liezl IS a calling station, as some might argue, wouldn't she be that 1 out of 10 people who bet like this without thinking that it'd push out her opponent. I don't want to go so far as to say it's a "value bet." But perhaps she really thought she was best and bet according the perceived-strength of her hand.

Finally, I had to go with my initial reaction. Something about the weak $15 followed by the strong $50 seemed odd, like it was a blocker or probe bet followed by the old, "I can only win this pot by betting big." I kept my head turned away from the table and shielded my face with my hand as I pushed $50 into the pot with my other hand, like a little kid watching a horror movie between slotted fingers. "I have a 9," I heard her announce. I saw her A9 and tabled my KTo. And that was how I started building my stack.

The action was loose and the crowd was friendly, so I found myself really hamming it up when I was dealt AQo in the SB or BB. A player in EP raised preflop, so I complained that the person was raising because he was taking advantage of the fact that he knew I had crappy cards in the blinds. It was all shtick, keeping things light and, frankly, a tad absurd. There were a few callers and when it got to me, I considered raising, but opted for an out-of-position call. I figured if I missed the flop, I would cap my losses and let the hand go, but if I hit it, my lack of preflop action would be deceptive.

The flop was Ace-high with two spades. I checked, and leaned over to Mary, who was already out of the hand. I used my most absurd stage whisper to announce, "I didn't hit the flop." In hindsight, I realize that it is considered poor ettiquete to discuss your hand while play is in progress. In that regard, I guess I sorta regret my behavior. However, it's a friendly game and it was pretty clear that I was just tooling around, so I hope no significant harm was done.

It folded to a player I had never played with before. He was an Asian gent and seemed to have a solid grasp on the game. In LP, the Asian Gent, or Agent, for short, bet out $10. When it folded to me, I opted for a flat call, hoping to get more in with a check-raise on the turn. The turn was a Queen of spades, giving me top two pair but completing the flush draw. I checked again and Agent bet $15. I considered raising, but feared that the flush card would either kill my action. In the alternative, it might be called and if a spade river hits, I'm screwed. I just called.

The river was an offsuit Ten, which, assuming I was ahead on the turn, would only help TT and KJ. I considered check-raising again, but realized that I could not give up the chance to bet. I bet out $35 nonchalantly and my opponent reluctantly called. I showed my top two pair, AQ, and he showed A8 and then mucked. Ka ching!

AQ popped up again in one of the oddest hands I have ever experienced. I held AQ and raised preflop, getting two callers. One of the callers was Brian, who was out of position against me. I was the big stack, but he was close behind. The flop came down with three low cards, something akin to 853, with a flush draw. It checked to me and I bet $15. Brian called. The turn was another 3, and created a second flush draw. Brian bet out $35 immediately. It smelled like bullshit, and I stared him down for a long while, trying to figure out what it all meant. He couldn't have a 3. That just didn't make sense. I doubt he even hit the board. Yet on the other hand, he couldn't have an overpair because it wasn't like Brian to just limp-call preflop or call from the blinds preflop with 99 or higher. I considered all of this and determined that he was bullshitting me. I raised to $85. He took his time in response and then announced all-in. I had to fold. The pressure point was just too high and I couldn't risk most of my stack with AQ. After I folded, he showed K6o, for a complete bluff. And I commended him for it. I'm not above admitting that I was outplayed. I wouldn't mind knowing a bit more about his reasoning there, but suffice it to say that it was an amazing play by him and he deserved to win the pot.

With the last hand still in my head, I was dealt K9c in EP/MP and decided to call a straddle of $2. When it got to host Jamie, who was in position, he bet out $14. It folded to Brian, who called. I called as well, mostly seeking revenge against Brian.

I should note that Jamie hadn't been playing for most of the game, so this was probably his first hand that he played. The flop came down KQx, giving me top-pair, middle kicker. Brian checked and I checked as well. And out of nowhere, Jamie pushed all-in for $96.50. Brian folded and I had a tough decision. Top pair, middle kicker is no monster hand, and Jamie's range included numerous cards that had me drawing dead. Once again, though, I thought about the story that had developed, and the all-in on the flop made little sense. It seemed designed to push out two loose players who already demonstrated that they missed the flop. I took my time and then figured I needed more information. I asked if I was allowed to show a card, and after I got the ok, I showed my King. I didn't get anything off of Jamie right away, but then I saw the sign that sealed his fate. He was shuffling his cards, a tell that usually indicates that a person does not like their hand; they are subconsciously trying to change their cards. I called, flipped over the 9 to accompany the King and then waited as the dealer dealt out the turn and the river Queen. I feared he had a Queen, but he just mucked and I felted him. While I didn't keep the hand history, a little while later, I played K9s and turned a flush against Jamie as well. I guess K9 just worked for me that night.

When I cashed out, I was up $420. I was easily the big winner of the night, and happy that my success is continuing. I'm still a far distance from where I want to be in my annual goal, but all I can do is continue to play my best and hope that the cards do the rest.

After the game, I returned home, where wifey Kim was sprawled across the bed sleeping. I kissed her head and told her that I won $420. I put my roll away and hit the couch.

Lately, sleep has been difficult, and I spent the next two hours trying to ease off of the adrenaline high I get from poker. The next morning, I spoke to wifey Kim and she asked how I did. "I won $420," I told her. "Oh yeah," she replied, "now I remember." Wifey Kim is one impressive chick. She has already acclimated herself to listening to my poker stories in her sleep.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:27 AM,


At 2:12 PM, Blogger Uncle Chuck said...


Sweeeeeeeeeeet sweet cheeba.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger Jamie said...

Good read on me. I overplayed my semi-bluff.

At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it's so hard to stop the mind from racing (and thus get adequate rest) after winning big playing poker...

i think Restoril is probably the best answer to that

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the board paired. you either have a 3 or you don't. if I beat you to the pot (which I did) then you play your deep stack as such: can I beat trip 3's at a minimum. in a low-stakes game, I'm willing to play more to the tune of what-my-opponent-doesn't-have, rather than what I have.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Maybe so, Brian, but when I re-raised you $50 on top, what made you think you could push me off of the pot by pushing all-in on a stone-cold bluff. You were right to do it, and I have no problem with the play. In fact, I commend the play, just as I commended it immediately after it happened and ever since. I just wonder what inspired you to take that shot.


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