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The Wall Street Traveling Circus

Last night, I attended what can only be described as the bastard love child of a home game and an underground poker room. Jamie's Wall Street Game had to essentially close shop due to his girlfriend moving in (i.e., life's rake), and so the game had migrated to an underground poker room, where the rake was reduced to $5 per hour instead of the usual $5+ per half hour. It's the best rate in the city by leaps and bounds.

I had been planning on hitting up the game for a while, but Tuna Club competed for my poker attention, and since Tuna is open every night and I was already familiar with the place, I had been delaying my visit to the Wall Street Game's satellite office, but my schedule finally alligned right, and I was scheduled to make my first appearance last night.

Before the game, I left work and took a slow stroll from my office near 58th street and 3rd Avenue to my favorite Mexican restaurant in the city (and, I suppose, in the world), Baby Bo's, easily home of the best burrito in NYC. Bo's is located on 34th and 2nd, and by way of reference, every 20 city streets equals a mile, and every four or five avenues equal a mile, so the walk was roughly 1.5 miles. It was a beautiful day, though, and I wanted to get some fresh air before playing some poker.

When I arrived at Bo's, I grabbed a seat at the bar and ordered my burrito to go and a glass of sangria to keep me company. I whipped out the Michael Matusow biography with the unfortunate title, Checkraising the Devil, and settled in for my wait. Meanwhile, other people in the bar were discussing Michael Jackson's death. It was an interesting thing watching strangers bond over his death. It's amazing how, for the most part, people ignored his checkered legal history. I don't think that this is wrong either. It may've been creepy that he shared his bed with kids, but he was found not guilty, which should count for something unless your name starts with an O and ends with a J.

A quick note about the book: buy it. It's great. A full review will come when I'm done.

I left Bo's with my food in tow and walked to a corner several blocks away, where I met up with Lastman and ASG. Lastman was a reader who, probably a year ago, asked if I could help him find an underground game. He was literally the Last man I was willing to help in that way, since I became concerned that I could be outting clubs and getting them in trouble. ASG was a guy I met at my last trip to AC. I usually don't out my blog at tables, but I was having a great time yucking it up and ASG and I got along well. We got to emailing after the fact and I decided to invite him to the home game/underground game hybrid.

The three of us made our walk down the block and rang the doorbell for the apartment where the game was to take place. Nothing. Shit. I made a phone call, though, and it turned out the buzzer wasn't working. We were let in to an apartment that had a hallway and kitchen, followed by stairs to a raised room and a lower level, both fairly small and open, but with enough space for a poker table and chairs.

I sat down and scarfed down the burrito. It was so good, I'm salivating now just typing about it. I offered up the free tortilla chips and salsa to the table and they were gone in no time.

The table was already filling out, and once we arrived, there were enough players to get started. A couple of regulars from the Wall Street Game's were there, including Matty Ebs, Shawn, and a couple of the corporate guys.

The game was 1/2 NLHE and the highest buy-in was $200, although I'm not sure if that was the max allowed or just custom and practice. We paid $5 for the first hour and were off.

I didn't keep any notes on hands, but fairly early, I lost enough to rebuy another $100. In one hand in particular, I raised preflop in LP with AK and Ebs re-raised from one of the blinds. I hesitated to call because I was contemplating a re-raise, but the night was still early and I didn't want to play a huge pot with a drawing hand like AK. The flop were all 9 and under. Matty bet out and joked that he has to bet because all he had was JTo. I folded and he showed the JTo. Fungool!

I lost another pot as well, and maybe a third one while I was at it, hence the need to rebuy the extra $100. In one hand, I raised preflop and got a call from John, one of the room's dealers who was playing before the room got busy. John was one of the few unknown elements at the table, but he was a dealer and an Asian guy, and had a hip hop sorta flair, style-wise, all of which suggested that he was a gamer and would be playing looser than most. The flop was A-high and John bet out. I flat called. The turn was a blank and he bet out again. I folded. He asked, "Pocket pair?" and I answered truthfully, "Yes. Did you have the Ace?" "No." Fungool! I knew it too. On some level I could feel that he was just taking a shot at pushing me off the hand with the Ace on the flop. Besides his admission, I saw when he mucked that he had one face card and his question, "Pocket pair?" seemed to suggest he was telling the truth.

And then, something happened. I can't tell you what, but I was suddenly tuned into the game. I had played with many of the players before, and I was getting cards. It was a symphony of good fortune aided by good play, the result of which saw me leaving the night up $375 ($675 on cashout), probably the big winner at the time of my cashout.

On one hand, I had QQ and John raised preflop, $17. I re-raised him $25 more and he flat called. The flop was all unders and he bet $25+. I hesitated and then raised all-in, since he only had about $55 behind. He took his time and then folded begrudgingly. He claimed to have JJ, and asked if I had him beat. "I can't tell you that, John. I have to keep some secrets." "I was truthful earlier about the Ace hand." "Yeah, but you won that hand and I was truthful then too. I can't give you any more information. You're the only one I fear at the table." It was simultaneously serious (he was giving me the most trouble) and joking around. I even went so far as to point to ASG and added, "If this donkey asked me, I'd tell him, but not you. You're too good." Later, when I was racking up, I admitted to the QQ and John was very pleased. There was no need to please him earlier, though.

It was an interesting game, largely because of bet sizing. Preflop, limped hands or cheap raises to $6 were fairly common. There were more than a few $12, $15 and even $22 preflop bets, but more often than not, it was a cheap game preflop. Post-flop, however, there was a decent amount of action, and people were willing to make calls for sizeable sums.

This setup though, really confused me, as one player, an Asian guy who was a regular at the old Wall Street Thursday game, was just playing so badly, I went so far as to offer him advice at the table. His name is Stan, I think, but my memory when it comes to names is shit. Sorry "Stan." Not so ironically, I know a lot of people from poker but don't recall their names.

In two hands, Stan slowplayed himself to death. In the first one, there was a limped pot with lots of players and he had AT on a Ten-high board. He let it check around on the flop from early position. He may've bet the turn. I know he bet the Queen river, and John won the pot with AQ or something similar. In another hand, he was in the blinds with 38o and flopped two pair. I had J9o and had limped in late position, since there were so many limpers. The flop was actually Q83. The turn was an Ace, I think. The river was a Ten, giving me a straight. On every street but the river, Stan checked. On the river, he bet $10, got a call from Shawn, and then faced a min-raise from me. Admittedly, I was mildly worried about KT, since we all limped, and my small bet would be likely to induce a call from some weaker hands and probably a raise from KT, at which point, I can lay down the hand if need be. He called and I took down the pot. What amazed me was that by this point, Stan had already gone into his pocket a few times for more cash and even made an ATM run. I finally said something to him after he lost another pot by slowplaying: "You have to bet your hands, man." It's a friendly game, and I was just trying to offer some kind words of advice. Yes, I was tapping the glass, but in this environment, it felt right.

When I packed up to leave a 10pm, I felt like a dickhead. I had brought two new players, and I was leaving early? Well, I wasn't worried about ASG or Lastman. They were doing fine. I had, however, decided prior to the game that I was leaving at 10pm, whether up or down. I really just don't feel the need to play long sessions on weeknights. Perhaps it is the call of the comf0rt of home. I guess it is that moreso than anything else. I need a long time to unwind after poker, too. Whatever the case, I packed up at 10 with my profit intact, and took a long walk to the 14th Street subway.

I plan to return to the game next week for the Thursday home/underground hybrid. I may even return on Sunday, if something is running that interests me more than Tuna Club's $150 tourney.

It's nice to be on a roll. Now I just have to keep rolling.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:00 AM,


At 2:27 PM, Blogger OES said...

boom. awesome post sir! I live near Boston and whenever I go to the Sox game, I always stop at Anna's Taquiera. might make a run at your Bo's ;).

At 7:50 PM, Blogger MattyEbs said...

It was great seeing you at the game last night sorry I left early and missed you on my return, I'll definitely be there next week though, may have a third option for Sunday if you are interested.


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