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Who Was I Kidding?

I just moved my flight to Vegas from Rosh Hashanah weekend (sorry God) to December 11 weekend, incidentally my birthday weekend and the Blogger Winter Gathering weekend. I'm arriving around 10am on Friday and flying out around 11am on Sunday, so it'll be a quick in-and-out trip, but its VEGAS so any time will be a good time.

The comments to my last post helped my decision a bit, but the final straw was the very astute argument made by Fuel55 via email: "Don’t be a fag – come for the December gathering." Its hard to argue with that logic.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 10:18 AM, ,

Tipping Point

Hey folks. I returned to Tuna Club yesterday for their 5/10 LO8 game, and after playing for two hours, I promptly left at 9pm, down a whopping $10 (after $24 in time charges, that technically meant that I was up $14 in actual play). It was a semi-boring game, no offense to the players who were generally congenial. In fact, I started to get a bit perturbed at how players were flashing cards to each other and mumbling about hands under their breaths to each other. I wouldn't say it was any out-and-out collusion, but rather the type of "collusion" that occurs when people are playing a new game for fun, are not properly protecting their cards (incidentally, I was guilty of this at least once) and don't mind sharing their cards with players out of the hand. Still, it's just bad form.

I spent most of the game with my headphones in, listening to a trance music podcast (free several-hour-long trance mixes for free? Thanks, Apple!). I made light hearted conversation and played as tight as I could, which was still probably not tight enough. The table had fluxuating numbers, but for a while, we were 10-handed, and you can't play anything but the nuts in those situations. My two big hands came with AKK4, when I rivered the nuts, a Broadway straight without any low on the board, and 2367, when I rivered a fullhouse. In both hands, I was arguably chasing, but I think the odds were right...I think. Lots of action!

Also, shout out to Sean, who I usually see at the old Wall Street Game, which is now more appropriately called Matty's Room, since the game emigrated to an underground card room where Matty Ebs helps out. It was good seeing a friendly, unexpected face. Somehow, everyone seems to know each other at these games, and even though I've been to Tuna Club probably 10 times or so, I still feel like the outsider. That's not necessarily anyone's fault but my own, and quite frankly, it is probably due in part to the fact that I don't play nightly. I mean, don't these people have jobs and families?! The answer is probably, No.

Meanwhile, wifey Kim was getting home from her friend's place. I miss my wife. Yep, you heard it right. We have been so busy these last few weeks between traveling and work that I wanted to spend some time with her before she fell asleep. So, faced with the choice between more slow poker (slow, mostly because I was card dead for most of the game) and wifey Kim, wifey Kim won out. She always does. It didn't hurt that I was almost even (at my lowest, I was down $110 or so, at my highest, I was up $50 or so). So, pack up I did and headed home.

I was supposed to play at Matty's Room, but that didn't work out, mostly because his start time was 8pm and by the time I got a text that his mixed game (HORSE) was actually about to get started, it was closer to 9pm. I swear, poker players are some of the tardiest people I know. So, sorry Matty. I wanted to play in your game, but it was past my bed time.

That's enough of a recap. It's time to turn to a very serious issue that I need your help to figure out. Tipping. Specifically, live tournament poker tipping.

There is a "new" trend going on in many casinos around the country. Card rooms are taking a portion of the prize pool and using it as an automatic dealer toke (for those non poker fanatics, toke = tip). I've seen numbers ranging from a few percent to 5%, but make sure you check your local casino's rules, because it's not something they outright tell you. Normal tipping rules suggest a tip of about 5% of profit, with some places expecting as much as 10% (it's up to you whether or not to follow that "expectation"). But if the prize pool has already been raided 3% for the dealers, for instance, should you be obliged to give the full 5 or 10% to the dealers as a tip.

I think this one is pretty easy for me. The answer as I see it is No. They already got a cut of my win by taking it out of the pot to begin with. So in such situations, I'd be inclined to reduce my usual tip. However, the trickier part is how to handle NYC's underground card rooms. The card rooms are already designed to squeeze as much money as possible from the players, hence the $6/half hour time charge, but some rooms also include a "dealer toke" (also common at some casinos) for tournaments, for which you are given extra chips. In other words, in the weekly Sunday $150 tournament, $20 goes to the fee, and you can pay an extra $10 "dealer toke" which goes directly to the dealers for another 1,000 in chips. Since starting stacks are 3,000 or so, 1,000 chips is definitely worth $10 (the other 3,000 cost $50/1,000).

How does this play out? Well, when I won $390 profit this weekend in the $150 tourney ($550 total - $150 buy-in - $10 dealer toke), the dealers had already received ten $10 tokes (it was a small tourney with 10 players). Should I consider those dealer tokes when tipping out?

In the end, I tipped $40, which was about 10%, mostly because that's what is "expected" in these rooms. Since I'm a tourney regular, I don't want to piss off the staff or look cheap, especially since I won the last three tourneys I played there. However, aren't I just throwing money out?

So that's the question. When there is a "dealer toke" for extra chips, should you consider that when determining your dealer tip at the end of a tournament? I'm starting to think that the answer is a resounding yes, but I could use a second opinion.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:19 AM, ,

Off Methadone, On a New Mix

Hey ho, folks. It's one of those days in High Land where I just feel plum miserable. I have a big vacation coming up next week, but until then, the daily grind seems to be much harder than usual. I think its a mix of the anticipation (for the vacation) and the anxiety about getting everything done before I go away. Then I return to an immediate trial. I don't even get a day in the office!

But bitching and moaning won't really help. At least poker continues to move in a positive direction. I have not played since the Sunday win, including online poker. In fact, I may have beaten my online poker bug, mostly by withdrawing the vast majority of my online poker bankroll and then donking the rest (a few weeks ago). Since then, I have almost no impetus to play online. I've always likened online poker as the methadone to my live poker/heroine habit, but I guess I'm sticking to the trainspotting with the real stuff now, because the desire to touch my old standby is gone. Well, not gone. Significantly diminished.

I plan on playing some live poker tonight. My first plan was to head to a mixed game over at the new club ran by Matty Ebs (let's call it the Club Eb) where I chopped the HU tourney. I found out later today, though, that the game does not start until 8pm. Since I get out of work closer to 6, that gives me a lot of time to kill. I sure as shit don't want to head home because it is 20 minutes + past the game. So, I may very well end up back at the Tuna Club for some 5/10 LO8 action. Frankly, I think I'd prefer LO8 to HORSE. Razz can be fun, but Stud Hi sucks and LHE can be pretty tedious (sorry F-train).

Overall though, it is fucking amazing that there are two non-hold'em games running in the city on the same night.

Since I can't go to Vegas during Rosh Hashanah, I have considered heading out to LV for my birthday weekend, December 11, which corresponds with the next Blogger Gathering. I'm definitely not sold on it, though. It seems like over the years, the people I was closest with became the people who were no longer able to make it. And frankly, it blows my mind that people have the cash and the vacation time to attend this and other live blogger events so frequently. So, if you want to see HoP in December in Vegas, convince me. I'm still on the fence.

I suppose that is it. Thanks for letting me spew some random drivel.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 4:50 PM, ,

Silent Right

I played at the Tuna Club's weekly Sunday $160 tournament again yesterday and won the thing (chopped 1st and 2nd place money) for the third time in a row. It feels good to be on a hot streak, although admittedly, I had to hit a couple of 3-outters and I won more than my share of cointosses and 60/40's (4 or so total). But a win is a win, and my poker goal that I failed to meet last year is definitely attainable. My poker wallet is also swelling from my good fortune. I just need to keep the momentum moving.

I faced some interesting situations last night at the game and today at work that were oddly analogous. At the game, during the final break, I was chatting with a few of the players at the table. One of them was Gi (pronounced Jee, but I like the spelling as Gi, so work with me) and a female player. The chick was a bit surprised by a play (and some discussion about the play) that involved Gi and I.

In that hand, blinds were 150/300, and there was a 25 ante, with eight or nine players remaining. I had 3,000 chips exactly. Gi had probably in the 4,500 range. He was playing with selective over-aggression. In other words, he wasn't pushing every hand, but when he was randomly making huge bets when he seemingly didn't have to. In this hand, he pushed all-in from UTG. It folded to me in middle position and I called all-in for less with AQd. Players were pushing with all sorts of crap cards, including lesser Aces, and I figured that I was in good shape against Gi. Frankly, though, since I had exactly 10x the BB, I considered myself in push-or-fold mode, and with AQd and this crowd, I was planning to push no matter what.

After I called Gi's all-in, a shortstack with probably 1k to 1.2k called all-in from mid-to-late position, and everyone else folded. I showed AQd, Gi showed AJo, and the other guy had Q9o. Yeah. I guess the other guy was just hoping to get lucky and triple up. For what it's worth, I probably had a semi-loose image, too.

After I won the hand, the chick basically stated that I would not have pushed all-in if it folded to me. What? I didn't want to educate her, so I just shrugged at the time, but since we were discussing the hand during the break and she gave me some insight on hands I questioned her about, I felt comfortable discussing it with her and Gi. Of course, I also am constantly aware of the information I am putting out there, so if anyone wants to make the proper argument that you should never share with your opponents, I accept your argument, but that's not the point of today's post.

The thing is, she just couldn't comprehend how/why someone in my position could open-push with 3k. And I just couldn't comprehend how she couldn't see the obvious play. I even said, "I don't see any other play that makes sense there." I mean, assuming it folded to me, I'm not folding AQd. I also am not putting in a raise, because any raise would be for near 1/3 of my stack. Then, once I am re-raised, I have to call. At least if I push, I get some of the weaker pocket pairs to fold (22-66 surely, 77-99 possibly) and maybe get calls from lesser Aces (AJ only, although with some of these donks, AT possibly). Sure, I might get picked off by dominating hands (AA, KK, QQ, AK), but I am going to be priced in to call them anyway if I just raise preflop.

So, after a while of trying to explain it to her, I just gave up. "Look, there are a million different paths to the same place in poker. Let's leave it at that."

The same thing happened to me at the office today. I am playing 2nd Chair in an upcoming trial that will be tried by one of my colleagues, so the colleague, Big Bossman and I met to discuss strategy. I can say with certainty that I know this case and the law better than either of the other two. My colleague just started reviewing the case recently and Big Bossman only knows it from broad strokes. BUT my ideas just were not getting through. Both of them had a certain perspective based on their past experiences, but neither realized that the specific facts of this case rendered those perspectives skewed. Basically, they wanted to attack a problem head-on, whereas I thought the facts of the case lent itself better to sidestepping the issue and focus on other issues that would render their concern moot. Of course, I could've explained it until I was blue in the face, for all the good it did. In the end, I literally had to tell myself internally to just shut up. My colleague will be First Chair, so its on his head, and while I will help him, he ultimately will dictate what he feels comfortable with.

I'm not one to bite my tongue, particularly when I feel in my heart of hearts that I am right, but sometimes it's all we can do. People will ultimately do what they want to do. Nothing, including my debating skills, will change that in certain instances. So if the chick insists that the right play with AQd and less than 10 BBs is to raise-call, or my colleague wants to face a problem head-on when it may just emphasize that issue instead of de-emphasize it, well, that's just how those things will be.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 1:54 PM, ,

Lowly Adjustment

God damnit! First off, sorry to the people who held poker games last night that I could not attend. An old fraternity chum, Kennedy, was throwing a home game across the street from my apartment, and from my last trip there, I remembered that the play was fairly weak in comparison to the clubs in the city. Damn. I best do this early. If any of the guys at the homegame last night are reading this, I apologize in advance. I just tell it like I see it, and frankly, take it all with a grain of salt. So, where was I?

Ah, so an old fraternity chum, actually a guy who was in the fraternity after I graduated, mentioned that he was throwing a homegame. I remember the last time I played at his homegame, I was underwhelmed. The stakes were low and the play was even lower. The setup was also pretty amatuer, but I was coming from the Wall Street Game, which had personalized chips and a real poker table, so anything after that would've felt like a step down.

Normally, I would've skipped the Kennedy's game. If memory served correctly, I was out pretty quickly last time I played there (many months ago), because I pushed the action against players who were playing random cards and liked to throw chips around. I simply failed to adjust. But when I found out it was a $50 buy-in, my interest was piqued. Clearly, I'd be able to mop the floor with these guys this time. CLEARLY!

Not so. I was out first, within 40 minutes.

The setup at the Kennedy Game was pretty aweful. I was told they had shitty chips, so I brought chips and cards from my apartment. We were setup in Kennedy's building's lounge, 9 people around a coffee table, so I decided to run home (across the street) and bring back a poker table-top.

I was also asked about my recommendations re: structure. I can admit that here, I just had a brain freeze. The biggest problem was that they played with chip denominations of 1, 2 and 5, and I was so used to 25, 100, 500, 1000 chip denominations that I just couldn't revert back. Back in the day, I used to play with 1, 2, 5 chips too, but I was just out of it. Kennedy wanted a 3 hr. game, but then another player suggested stacks of 50. 50! I thought that was way too low. If blinds went from 1/2 to 2/4 to 3/6, then by the third blind period, the starting stacks would be way short with less than 10 big blinds. Of course, that fell on deaf ears, but when it Rome, you do as the Romans do. I just knew that I had to adjust my game.

FAIL! Just terrible. I got mixed up in a hand early with K9 on an A95 board. Everyone was very passive at this point, so I tried to steal the pot, which was pumped preflop when 6 people limped and one person min-raised from the BB, getting all callers. Of course, the guy on my immediate left is the only caller. On the turn, I bet out again, hoping to scare him, but I had no luck. He pushed, I folded and that's how I lost half of my stack.

FAIL! I mean, just terrible. I pretty much ran full speed into a brick wall. From there, I was so short that I just waited for a decent enough hand to push. Pathetically, at 2/4 blinds with less than 20, I had to push because of the encroaching blinds, and made my stand with A9d. Of course, the guy on my immediate left calls as done Kennedy, but after the turn, Kennedy folded to Lefty's bet, and we were heads-up. He showed J7o, which at the time was top pair of Jacks, and I went home.

So, let's recap. I assume that these guys suck. I then assume I can push 6 players off of a hand. When faced with resistance, I assume I can continue to steamroll over a guy with no real information about how he plays. I then push with a crappy, desperate A9d and get called by J7o (which, frankly, is a bad call by him since there was a lot of action behind him, BUT I did give him a big stack with my early play, so it's all on me), and lose.

I left the room pretty quickly, kinda happy to be done. The amatuer-hour nature of the game is a bit odd for me. People splash the pot every time. No one keeps their bests in front of them. There were other things that annoyed me, but I don't recall them now.

But the bottom line is, I just sucked. I played terribly. As a serious poker player, I'd like to think I can beat any game. That includes the shitty ones. I've heard others say that they'd rather play with skilled players, and that's fine and dandy, but when there is a butter-soft homegame, you need to be able to adjust, and I failed to adjust.

Oh well. $50 lesson learned. Of course, now I have to go back next week....they still have my chips, cards, and table.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 9:55 AM, ,

How to Win At Online Poker Tournaments (Sponsored Post)

With the new technology and the newer innovations of the internet has come the sport of online gaming. There are tons and tons of gaming sites that offer all of the same games that you can play at Las Vegas and Atlantic City. There is nothing like sitting in the comfort of your own home and playing the casinos just like if you were there in person.

The game that has taken off online is poker. There are tons and tons of poker sites on the internet. There are free sites right on up to offshore real money sites where now there are people who make a living playing poker online. The most popular game is
Texas Hold'em that has become so huge due to its exposure of the World Series of Poker that is always featured on ESPN. Online poker is not much different than real poker. But there is one big variation between the two.

The best online poker sites have tournaments that offer lucrative prizesfor the winners and in some cases offer free seats at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

The main thing about online poker is that you need to be alert at all times. One slip up and you can be losing chips and working your way out of getting into the money. When you are at a casino, the dealer dictates the flow of the game but when you are online everything is run by a computer. Poker strategy is the same whether you are online or not but you have to be on your p's and q'swhen it comes to online poker.

All the major offshore sites offer online poker tournaments. Winning online poker tournaments is fun and easy. As long as you come prepared and have the confidence that you are going to play well then in most cases you are going to succeed. The main thing is not to get down on yourself. Be peristent as far as playing and be sure to play as many practice hands as you can. If you do that, then before long you will start winning online tournamentsand better yet you might see yourself sitting at the final table of the World Series in Vegas.

posted by Jordan @ 9:50 AM, ,

Bum Roshed

About a year ago, my poker partner in crime, Davey Roose, decided that we should make a trip to Vegas this year to celebrate our 30th birthdays. Frankly, he could've suggested that we go to Vegas to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Darwin's "On the Origin of Species" and I would've agreed. Vegas is Vegas.

Several months ago, I received a phone call from Roose:
"Robbie Hole and I are booked for Vegas, hotel and plane. We are going September 18th weekend!"

Great, I thought. I wasn't sure why they booked without discussing it with me, but I'm sure it was on impulse. Besides, it didn't take much to convince me, so I booked my flight that same week and thought nothing of it.

Until Sunday night. That's when I got a call from Mama High. "I was speaking with Mama Roose, and she said you boys are going to Vegas over Rosh Hashanah." FUCK!

For those who aren't Members of the Tribe (of Israel), Rosh Hashanah is pretty much the highest and holiest of the Jewish Holidays. I, on the other hand, am a Jew by ethnicity moreso than religion. So, missing Rosh means very little to me, and usually it would mean very little to my family, but not this year.

My mother correctly laid it on pretty thick. At first, I thought I could talk her out of her insistence that I move the trip, but I finally relented when she argued that she asks for 10 days a year, between holidays and birthdays. It's hard to argue with that logic. After all, she is my Mom.

Of course, the cherry-on-top was that Mama Roose was also very upset, but whereas my mother can at times bend me to her will, Dave Roose has no such problem. That man is like teflon, and any guilt trip slides right off. So when Mama High asked me to convince Dave as well, I told her all bets are off: "I can cancel my trip, but Roose is his own man."

So cancel, I did; or at least, I will do. I have already accepted that fate, since family comes first and it is after all, one of the biggies of the Jewish religion. I may not be religious, but I try to be respectful.

Logic would dictate that we move the vacation to another weekend. No such luck. The week before, I may very well be on trial again. The week after, I have a wedding. The week after that is my anniversary with the very stellar wifey Kim (better than ever, my friends...just ask Joaquin).

And that's how I got bum roshed out of a Vegas vacation. Right now, I'm trying to convince Roose to move it to October or later, but I feel terrible having him bend the plans for me. Hell, part of me wants him and Hole to go without me, since I don't want them to have to sacrifice for me. Part of me wishes we could just make it an AC trip and get back in time for Rosh, with a Vegas trip early next year. Part of me is fucking pissed that Rosh even matters, particularly for a secular Jew like me.

But that's life. Live poker is greater than many things, but not my family. I guess that's just the bottom line.

Until next time, make mine Torah!

posted by Jordan @ 9:01 AM, ,

Live > Online ?

Not much happening, poker-wise, in HoP's world. Last night, I played in a little private tournament online and played like absolute crap. It was a pleasure to bust out when I did, since I was very much not into the game. Online continues to be a waste of time for me. More and more, I find myself completely disinterested in online poker. Full Tilt's new software doesn't help. I'm sure they had good things in mind, but all I got was a much slower FT startup and a generally slower game. It's almost enough for me to cross the aisle in the legalize-online-poker debate. Some fresh chum could make the game interesting again. But then again, it's still online poker.

Meanwhile, I would love to find more time to play, but after my trial, followed by a short vacation, followed by two weeks of catch-up work (i.e., right now), followed by wifey Kim and my European Vacation (Barcelona/Dublin), followed by another trial immediately upon my return, my time is terribly limited. Fortunately, the live game options are not. Besides Tuna Club, there is another club that I have yet to name here and now a home game ran by a guy who was in my college fraternity years after I graduated (his money is still good). Since I'm running hot live, having caught up to the pace necessary to reach my annual goal, I figure live poker is where I need to stay. It is where my heart is.

An odd things, though. Lately, I find myself talking to people who prefer online poker. I know! It makes me sick, too. Specifically, when I played at the Showboat two weekends ago at a bachelor party, a drunk kid stumbles up and sits down to play some 1/2 NLHE. We got to chatting and eventually got some prop bets going, and during the conversation he mentioned that he usually plays online. Specifically, he claimed to play 2/4 NLHE regularly against the likes of poker pro Jordan Morgan, not that that means much to me. The kid claims that he makes a living at it, but also later said that he had to work the morning shift at a restaurant the next day, so take that for what its worth. The point is, he was bitching about how he cannot play live. "It's so much slower". "I play higher stakes online." "I like to multitable." Wah! So go home, strip down to your BVDs and get to it. Or better yet, stay here and pay me off.

At the Syracuse wedding I went to this weekend (where I incidentally had some decent conversations with the Monopoly Anti-Semite), I met a poker player/writer from Vegas who was friends with the groom. He, too, spends most of his poker time online, mostly due to the ability to multitable. As he explained it (paraphrased), "If I get in twice as many hands online and I can play six tables at once, then I can do in one hour online what it'd take twelve hours to do live. Or I would have to play 12x higher live to keep pace."

Those are all valid points, which lead me to the inevitable conclusion that it is not a matter of whether live > online or online > live...we both know the answer to that. Rather, it is a question of personal preference and, more accurately, personal skill sets. If you can pay focus on the computer and play well, but can't pay attention live because "it's too slow", then online poker is for you. If you cannot pay attention online because there are too many distractions, but can pay attention live because of the physical aspects of the game, then live is for you.

I have to admit, though, that I maintain that online poker is not live poker, and between the two, live poker is the purer sport. Of course, this is coming from a guy whose live experience has been much better than his online experience, so there may be a touch of bias.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 12:01 PM, ,