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More College-Level Poker

After last weekend's trip to Buffalo for my fraternity's 10 year anniversary, I reconnected with some of the brothers with whom I had lost touch. Two brothers, Kennedy and Sajak, live about a block away from me in NYC. Kennedy mentioned that he runs a bi-monthly poker game, so I offered my services as a player if the need should arise. Yesterday was the first such game.

I'm playing poker tonight at the Wall Street Game, the weekly 1/2 game filled with Wall Street types, so I couldn't commit myself for a full evening of poker at Kennedy's. I have to show a modicum of decency and I like to spend some time with the wifey Kim. Fortunately, Kennedy was throwing some cheapo $20 buy-in tournaments, two to be exact, so I figured I could play in the first and leave before the second.

I forget sometimes that not every home game is as good as Jamie's Wall Street Game. When I arrived at the game, the host had already decided to move it from the Solarium, a public-use room in his building, to his apartment because of overcrowding in the Solarium. The result is that the 7 of us scattered around a coffee table, sitting on couches and whatever chairs were available. The cards were generic playing cards, the type you could get at any drug store (or worse, Dollar Store). In fact, after the first hand was dealt, I noticed a significant crease on the bottom left corner of my King of Spades. I also noticed some ink on the sides of the cards clearly placed by the casino after they chose to remove the cards from circulation. In any other environment, I might say something, but it was clear that this was a fun-time game with players who were still pretty green, so I didn't want to make too big of a deal over the sub-standard equipment.

The funny thing is, before heading over, I asked Kennedy if he needed anything. He said he had it all. I was thinking of grabbing a new deck of Copags (so much better than Kem cards), but who was I to argue. If he had everything, he had everything.

The play was fairly substandard, but it was a good group of guys and I was happy to have some fun. It was like being in a time machine and playing a game four years ago, when my friends were just learning the ropes. But the distance between me and my competitors came to the forefront after the following hand:

We had started with 55 chips and blinds of 1/2, a structure that paralleled my original home game structure except for the odd number of chips. Blinds were probably up to 2/4 already when I decided to raise preflop with JJ from the BB. There were already a bunch of limpers, but I got two callers and we saw a flop, QXX. I checked since I was out of position, and when it checked around, I was all but certain that no one had a Queen and I was ahead. The turn was an 8. I bet out and got one caller, a guy with glasses (we'll call him Glasses from here on out) who seemed to hesitate when the action got to him. The river came down a 9. It seemed harmless enough and I bet again. Glasses pushed all-in. I took my time, trying to get a handle on the action. I should've looked for physical tells, but instead, I was focused on the betting pattern. I spoke aloud, "I don't think you have the Queen, but did you get lucky and back into the straight?" I also had the feeling that he might have 99 or 88, and made his set post-flop. I counted out my chips and someone said, "You have him covered." I replied, "I'm not looking to see whether I have more than him. I want to see how much I'll have left when I fold." I then folded and showed my JJ. He showed 9T. He rivered second-pair and raised all-in. I just couldn't call him in that spot.

"Nice play," I replied. I was the picture of cool. After all, it was a nice play and a bit of a surprise from a player of less years and experience than me. I felt that this group of newbie-ish players could use some props for good play. It wouldn't take anything away from me, and it's good to keep your opponents happy.

Another player at the table chimed in, and this statement truly underscored for me the difference that a few years have made: "You're taking that very well." He motioned to his buddy who was already busted. "Check him out. He's still pissed."

And there it was, the main difference over all else. Experience has taught me to accept the fates that happen to us at the table. When I busted to MiamiDon in the Skillz game, I wasn't upset. When I folded to some rookie kid who made a "bad" raise all-in, I didn't tilt.

If poker has taught me patience than it is all worth it. Of course, I still find it annoying when I arrive at a game and they don't have top of the line experience, but, um, at least I'm getting pateint with the cards...

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:45 PM,


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