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Jordan in the Dark

Last night, I returned for a brief 2 hour session of poker at the Wall Street Game's 1/2 NLHE cash game. The results were an easy $200+, over a full buy-in profit, thanks in large part to a couple of key hands.

I knew the game was overbooked, so I arrived at Jamie's apartment at about 6:35, a good 25 minutes before cards were supposed to be in the air. Thankfully, Jamie lives nearby, so when I realized I had all of my poker paraphenelia...except for my poker wallet with cash...I made a mad dash back home to get my dough. Back at Jamie's about 10-15 minutes later, and his previously empty apartment had a good 8 people waiting around. I locked up my seat and once everyone got settled in, we began the poker.

The mix of players were a bit different from Jamie's usual game. Apparently, some local suits arranged to use Jamie's apartment once every few weeks for their running cash game. The suits were all non-regulars in Jamie's weekday game and the stakes were slightly higher than Jamie's usual low stakes (1/2 instead of .50/1 NLHE), so I looked forward to playing under new, more profitable conditions in a familiar environment.

I looked around the table and saw that the suits were really just a random assortment of dudes in their 20s or 30s. No one was wearing anything more than a buttoned-down dress shirt and slacks (read: no actual suits). I, for once, decided not to dress down in comfortable attire, arriving at the game wearing my work clothes, a light pink dress shirt and gray slacks. I wanted to blend in with the crowd, rather than stand out, and attire-wise, I was fairly successful. Still, once I got a feel for the table, that all went to the pisser. But we'll get to that in a moment.

I surveyed the table and looked for the best open seat. The 1 seat was open, but Liezl, one of the few regulars, had taken the 10seat and while it would be nice to act after her, the 9s and 8s were empty and I was more concerned with getting position on the players that were new to me. Rumor had it, this was a big gambling crowd with some subpar players, so I wanted to take advantage of the fresh meat. I settled on the 9seat, since I knew Liezl well enough to feel comfortable playing her out of position. I considered the 8seat, since one of the "newbies" (new to me, not to this game, since it's their regular game), an Asian guy, was in the 7seat and from experience, Asian players are usually skilled (or at least experienced) in the ways of gambling.*

I didn't want to crowd the guy and I was willing to gamble a bit myself, so I took the 9seat, leaving a gap between me and the Asian in the 7seat. Eventually, the table filled up, and the 8seat was taken by WSG regular, Wendy, who then went on a 30 minute trek to find Starbucks. Chris (a chick) played Wendy's seat for the first 45 minutes or so, which meant I had a bevy of chicks surrounding me at all times. It reminds me of that time I was locked up in the woman's prison. It took a good 18 hours before the cops realized I was in drag.

Moving along, my first hand saw me limping with 34s, then calling a $10 raise with about four other people, and seeing a JXX flop with two spades. If memory serves correct, an early position player bet $10, I called, and then a player across the table raised to $75. I counted out the pot and when it folded to me, found myself in an odd predicament. My only real question was weather my flush draw was live. I had to at least assume that I was behind. Assuming it was live, I had 9 clean outs twice, or roughly a 36% chance to hit my hand. The pot held about $120, maybe a little less. Frankly, the odds weren't that bad, but ultimately, it was the first (or one of the first) hands of the night, and I didn't have enough information on the players to get a good enough grasp of the situation. I could be facing AKs, which would put me in a much worse situation. I folded. Later, the player claimed he held AA. It makes sense.

After that, I slowed it down a bit, getting a feel for the table. I don't remember the full timeline of events, but I eventually got into a hand against Darko, a player I mentioned recently when I questioned the use of checking dark. Darko is in my estimation a great poker player, particularly as it pertains to the mind game element of poker. After a bunch of limpers or perhaps callers for a small raise, Darko bet out something like $15 preflop and all the players folded to me. I held 45s and decided to call. I was out of position, but Darko is the type of player to make the squeeze raise with any two (he had already shown that propensity earlier in the evening when he squeeze pushed with a couple of rags), and I wanted to outplay him post-flop. Admittedly, I guess I was looking for a challenge.

The flop came down 224, but I had already dark checked, hoping to test the dark checking waters. It was not a coincidence that I chose to try the dark check against Darko himself, the guy who I've seen use it the most effectively. As Darko explained in a recent comment on HoP, there is one aspect of the dark check that is beneficial to the dark checker: you create more uncertainty. It's not the same as hiding actually adds an element of confusion to the game.

He checked as well, somewhat hesistantly, which frankly means nothing with Darko. He could be acting hesitant to try to trap me. The turn was a third duece, giving me an unlikely full house. I was only in trouble if I ran into a pocket pair higher than 4s. I bet out $20 and Darko called. The river was a King, filling a flush draw. It went check-check, since I figured that I held a decent chance of being behind. He announced, "Flush" to which I replied, "Full house" and tabled my hand. "Damn low cards!"

A little while later, I got a chance to try out the dark check again. Preflop, the player from the first hand, Mr. Aces, for lack of a better name, raised to $15. I think there may've been a straddle in effect for $6, so his raise wasn't particularly huge. When it folded to me in one of the blinds, I looked down to see AKs. Since I wanted the straddler, Darko, out of the hand, I raised to $45. I already had a good feel for Mr. Aces, and he was willing to call and make big bets. I wouldn't mind winning it pre-flop, but if I could win it post-flop, it could be a very profitable hand.

Everyone folded to Mr. Aces, who took his time before calling. As the flop was being dealt, I saw the top card Ten and announced as fast as possible "Dark check." I didn't mean to see the Ten, but there it was. The full flop was TT9, with two clubs, and Mr. Aces checked hesitantly. The turn was an Ace. I figured I was good unless he was slowplaying a Ten (unlikely, unless he had balls enough to call preflop $30 more with AT or JTs) or 99 (possible, but unlikely given the range). I bet out $65, which frankly was a large bet for the table, but not for the already $90+ pot. He called. The river was a blank, so I bet out once again, $80. I wanted to get paid by this guy, and I felt I was ahead. He took his time, so I started jabbering to tempt him to call. As I began to talk, he said aloud to himself, "Am I behind a King kicker, here?" At the same time, I was using one of my patented lines, which can confuse an opponent and gives away absolutely nothing in the text (although delivery should always be carefully performed): "I can only help you by telling you that whatever you think I have, you are wrong." Now, we already knew that he was not wrong. He had me read perfectly, but our statements were nearly simultaneous, and I wasn't about to change my statement after he correctly announced my cards. "You don't have AK then?" "You are going to have to pay $80 to find out." "Okay, then, I call." I tabled my hand and said, "Your read was right, sorry." He showed AJ. I apologized for my behavior. "Hey man, sorry about that. When I started talking, it was exactly when you guessed I had AK. I'm all about bluffing, but I don't like to outright lie." I was being serious. I'll play mindgames, and probably be willing to lie more freely at a casino, but at Jamie's apartment, it felt like a dirty move. To his credit, the guy replied, "Hey man, I would've lied to you in that spot. You've got nothing to apologize about. I was going to fold, too, until you started talking."

Darko chimed in: "You think the dark check helped you there?" He and I both knew the answer. Yes. It created confusion. If I bet out on the flop, I take down a small pot. If I check, he bets, and I have to fold.

At about 8:30, I was texting with wifey Kim, who was out to dinner with the girls. She's be home around 9pm. Wendy had replaced Chris in her seat, and Chris and one other guy were waiting around for a seat. I wanted to see the wife, so I told Jamie that I was out at 9pm. I told Chris as well, since she was next on the list. At 9pm, I racked up and headed home, $213 richer after two hours.

It felt good to be playing well. I curbed some of my natural bad impulses and had good results. The next live game for me is Monday, back to the WSG for two tournaments. Let's hope we can keep this train chugging.

Until next time, make mine poker!

*Yes, stating that Asians are experienced in gambling may be a stereotype. However, it is also culturally and statistically accurate.

posted by Jordan @ 11:30 AM,


At 5:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"wearing my work clothes, a light pink dress shirt and gray slacks"

"It took a good 18 hours before the cops realized I was in drag."

Pretty in Pink?

At 1:07 AM, Blogger Guin said...

Against dark checks I usually fire a bet into them anyway... mind you I take any opportunity to take a lead role in a hand as dark checks are done by people who like to float...

I try to make them pay to do that.

At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Admittedly, I guess I was looking for a challenge."

huge -EV huh? sometimes it's hard to resist tho.

"I take any opportunity to take a lead role in a hand as dark checks are done by people who like to float...

I try to make them pay to do that."

Never mind what you're trying to do -- what are the results?



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