Thursday, February 22, 2007

Win streak is now up to 6

That's right boys and girls. Your old friend Jamie has now had 6 winning poker sessions in a row after an enormously crappy 5 or 6 weeks. I placed first in a League tourney this past Tuesday after a run of very good cards and some very good luck. Then I went to Salami the next day and managed to drag a $145 profit after losing at the tourney and making $205 at the cash table. The big boys were playing a 5/10 NL game while I got paid off on a number of good hands in a great 75 minute run. How long can this crazy train last? I don't know but I'm focused and happy right about now; a good combination. In all actuality, I think a lot of it has to do with a good sleep schedule I've instituted. I got a reading lamp for my bedroom now which allows me the option of retiring early with a book, which is a much better option than hanging out on the couch.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

3 wins in a row?!?

I sat with John at the Good Look club Tuesday night and was very sad to see him get slaughtered. In his defense, he was almost always ahead when he got all his money in. With the AA vs. QQ, all the money went in pre-flop. The Q came on the flop (not the turn, sorry John). Not that it matters. Some idiot in the corner says, "With all the money in the pot, you had to call with QQ". John rightly pointed out that the guy was getting 1 to 1 on his money (almost all the money came from John and his opponent) on a 4 to 1 draw! That was bad. The other hand, the cracked Broadway straight, was against a guy who flopped a set of Kings. The guy had bumped it up to $15 pre-flop and got a few callers, John included. John had QT. Flop was As Kd Qs. There was some action after the flop, but not a lot. John hung in with his bottom pair and gutshot. The turn was the Js. John moved all in with his Broadway, though the flush draw on board couldn't have looked pretty. The KK called and hit a Jack on the river for the boat. It wasn't pretty.

I finished slightly up ($75 off a $200 buyin) but the odd thing about last night is that I didn't show down a single hand. Every pot I took was as a result of a raise that wasn't called. I had KK twice, AA once and pocket 8's. All won decent pots for me. Three hands in particular stand out in my mind.

I'm in the cutoff with AA. There have been regular pre-flop raises and UTG+1 raises to $6, which is pretty weak. A bunch of callers around to me and I limp, hoping the guy to my left, who has been active, will rebump. He does, to $30 and everyone folds around to me. I re-raise $45 more and he inst-folds, saying he had AT, which sounds about right for a button steal. I play off that I had pocket 5's and made a read on him. I'm not sure if he buys it or not.

Hand 2. I have KK in middle position and make it 15 to go when it gets to me. Amazingly enough, I get 5 callers. Nice pot so far. Flop is 2h 5s 9h. I have the Kh, but there's enough in the pot that I don't want to play around anymore. It checks to me, I bet 45 and everyone folds.

Hand 3. My favorite hand of the night. I have pocket 8's in early position and make it 10 to go. I figure I'll juice the pot in case I hit. 5 players call. The flop is Qc 2c 6d. I make a continuation bet of 20. One guy calls. He might have a Queen or a flush draw or maybe he is reading me on AK and he hit the 6. The turn is 5h. I check. He also checks. I see this as a huge sign of weakness but I don't act on it when the river brings a Tc. The club scares me a bit. He carves out 30 and pushes it in. I go back over the hand. He could have the clubs but the way he checked the turn is bothering me. I put him on the 6 and it's starting to make more and more sense to me. I call and he shows 86o. My 8's are good and I take a nice pot off a nice read. I've played with this guy before (he looks a little like John Juanda) and he's prone to making moves so that gave me more ammunition for the call.

Big win at the Good Look club. The losing streak is officially dead. Long live the wins!

Big win last night at the Good Look club. I went for the 2000K freeroll and managed to talk John into coming with me. The event was memorable. As I sat down, with Paul at the same table as me, a guy in the 5th seat was trying to convince everybody to move all-in on the first hand blind pre-flop! There were some hold-outs, but in the end everyone agreed. I figured “what the hell?”. I hadn’t paid anything to be in this and if I lost I could just move to a cash table. So everyone pushed all in and the cards were all turned face up. I was leading pre-flop with pocket 7’s but the flop was J42 and the guy in the 5th seat, who had suggested all this madness, was in the lead with J2 for two pair! It stood up and he was instantly up to 10,000 in chips. I declined to rebuy, figuring that putting in money into a freeroll with a guy who outchipped me 10 to 1 in the first blind level was ludicrous.

Instead, I sat down with $200 in a cash game and doubled up in 10 minutes! I was on the button with KK when a new player, who had sat down 2 hands ago, made it 15 to go. Another player called and I popped it to $40. The new player stacked his chips up in a neat pile and moved it all to the center. He had about $200 total and I slightly outchipped him. I insta-called and flipped my KK. He frowned and flipped AK. The case King came on the turn and he was drawing dead. Sweet! He ran off to the ATM to reload and came back, this time sitting to my left (ha!). The table was relatively aggressive with one woman in particular making a nice stack for herself by re-raising pre-flop and taking down lots of $50 pots. Finally she tussled with a chunky Asian guy who had been doing a little bullying. They both raised pre-flop and he finally called her. The flop came A54. She bet and he raised to $75. She called. The turn was a 2. She checked and he bet $100 (‘a hundo’). She called. The river was a 9. She checked, he went all in and she called. I figured one of them for two pair and the other for a set but he flipped up AT for top pair with a ten kicker and she mucked! I was astounded that she put nearly $300 in the pot and couldn’t beat one pair! She seemed a little perturbed but played it off nicely. This figured into the next hand when I was in the small blind with K6o. Everyone limped around so I called the $1 extra to see a flop. The flop was K62, giving me top two pair. I bet out $16, hoping for a re-raise, and she took the bait, raising to $40. I called. The turn was a rag and I led out with $100. She had $110 behind her and she called. I put her all in for the additional $10 before the river came out. She called of course and was upset to see my flopped two pair. My thought is that she thought I had a weak King and she outkicked me. She thought I was a weak player because a few hands earlier we had 3 hands in a row where I had QQ, JJ and 22. I had reaised preflop with each one and made a continuation bet on each flop. She had re-raised me out of each one and I lost $100 in that cycle, but I impressed an image on her. That image led her to call down what was obviously a losing hand, in my opinion. So me and the chunky guy felted her in 2 hands to the tune of $500+. Valentine’s day, indeed!

I was up to $542 at this point and it was nearly 10 PM, so I decided to call it quits and go home. John, playing the 2-5 table and donking off money, convinced me to go to Salami with him just to have some food. But when we got there, he sat at the table and ran through some more money. Someone tell this guy to slow down! I had a great plate of pasta though. Ricardo is a genius!

Monday, February 12, 2007

The light is visible at the end of the tunnel! Give me an Amen!

I think things are starting to look up for me. At the cash game on Friday, I got felted in the first hand. Ok, this isn’t the best way to start a comeback, but at least I was able to recover. I had KK on the very first hand dealt in late position. Blinds were .50/1. Paul raised to 2, Wendy reraised to 5 and Matt bumped it to 20! With 28.50 already in the pot, I had to either take it down there or put it all in with the possibility of being up against Aces. To tell the truth, I wasn’t terribly worried about Matt. I decided to put my entire stack of $100 in. Paul folded, Wendy folded (JJ) and Matt tried to get a read on me. He went through the likely possibilities before settling on AK and called with 99! Being in the middle of my crappy streak, I had no doubt a 9 would flop, and it did. What else can I do? I went to the side to stew for a bit before buying back in. I ran my $100 up to 177.50 before the game broke up, so I got most of it back. This was the start of my comeback.

After the game, an impromptu trip to Salami netted another $106 for me. I couldn’t believe my eyes but I actually booked a win! The next night, I was invited to the famous ‘Crackhouse’ game run by the bloggers at They were a really good group of people who run a 2 table tournament out in Brooklyn. With 12 participants, I had to rebuy but eventually went on to chop 50/50 when it got to heads up! I netted another $133. It was the first time in a long while that I’ve seen back to back wins and I’m getting my confidence back. Does this mean a trip down to AC for President’s day weekend? It’s starting to look like it…

Friday, February 2, 2007

The pain continues...

The Wall Street Poker crew was out in force last night at the Good Look club. Myself, Dustin, Andy, Matt, Wendy and Paul all made the trip. When I arrived at 8:15, there were 70 players and I was ushered to a seat in the middle of the room. Matt, Paul and Wendy were sitting at one table together and Dustin was at another one with Andy arriving later.

I had awful position at my table, with the biggest and most aggressive stacks directly on my left. I got good reads on them, but couldn’t make a move for the most part. Because of my awful luck in the recent past, I came into the night with the notion that I would play super tight. It worked for the first 30 minutes and I went up around 70 dollars. It would be the last time of the night I was up. I lost a few hands on the turn and then gave away 40 dollars with J9 when a 9 high board flopped and I bet and got a big re-raise put on me. I folded and he showed pocket Jacks. Then I got felted in one hand. I had KhJh in the small blind and I was able to limp in with it. There were a few other callers and there might have been a small pre-flop raise too. The flop came down Jc-9s-7s. I checked, intending to re-raise big when it came around to me. A limper in the corner made it 15 to go and I re-raised to 55. An aggressive player on my left commented, “And THAT’S why I didn’t bet”, which only increased the table image of my hand. The original bettor hesitated but called my bet. The turn was a 6s. Crap, the third spade. He just called my big reraise so it was natural for me to put him on the spade draw. I checked and then he checked! Now my instinct was to put him on a King with a possible spade in his hand. KQ, maybe, or even KJ. I didn’t give him AK because he didn’t raise preflop like he had been doing previously with big hands. The river was 7c. The board was now Jc-9s-7s-6s-7c. I couldn’t imagine the river helping him at all and his check on the turn indicated huge weakness. I moved all in for 78 dollars and he paused. For about 30 seconds, he thought about it and then finally called, showing 99(!). He had the boat and he didn’t know whether to call?!?! The table, and even his friends, were stunned. For my part, I can’t believe he didn’t bet on the turn considering I might have picked up a flush draw myself. It was weird, but I didn’t feel bad about losing that hand since I was beat from the get go. The next big hand, though, really got to me.

I called for another 200 in chips and waited around until I was in the big blind again. This time, I got dealt AQo and limped again. The flop was AQ8 rainbow. Perfect for me. I checked in the big blind and one player came in for 15. I smooth called my monster and a 7 came on the turn. I checked again and he bet out 30. I came over the top to put his short stack all in and he insta-called for another 40 dollars. He turned over A8 for a flopped two pair which was worse than mine. I am 95% to win here but fate has been ultra-cruel to me lately and an 8 came on the river. He dragged the pot and I felt raped.

A few hands later, I get 5c6c and see a cheap flop of 8c-Jc-2s. There are checks all around and I get to see a free turn, which is the 7s. I now have the OESD and the flush draw. The guy who sucked out with A8 bets out 23 and I see my chance to suck out on HIM. I call and the river is a blank, of course.

I’m down to my last $50 when I get AK. I get a raiser and I move all in, getting another all in and a caller in the process! My dumb luck… One of them turns over JJ and the other has QQ. At least I have a fighting chance, I think, when a King flops and stands up! I triple up, miraculously and then have to leave soon afterwards.

Curse you poker gods! I will have my revenge! Seriously, though, I am in dire straits at the poker table. I know all players have bad streaks but it was only God rubbing it in to me when I went to say goodbye to Paulie and Wendy who were still playing and witnessed Wendy flop quad 4’s and clean out a big stack who went all the way with KK!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Good reads = Bad Results (the last month of God's Wrath)

Twice now, in the last three days, I've called an all in bet with seemingly weak cards and both times I've been ahead of my opponent. I won one and I lost one but in both situations I was greeted with shock from the table for calling with my seemingly weak hands. I can't quite understand it because both situations were good calls on my part. I didn't just 'get lucky' by being ahead. Both times, I calculated what the other person had to a fair degree of accuracy by reading the story they were telling with their betting patterns. This, I am convinced is a leading indicator of hand strength and should be paid close attention.

Both situations, which I will describe, had similar elements. I had position both times (on the button), both situtations started with weak raises or limps from my opponents, and both situations saw my opponent make all-in moves that were largish for the pots in question.

The first situation was a cash game. I was on the button with Jd5d (Jackson Five, or Motown). A few people limped in front of me for .50 and I limped as well. The SB raised to $2 and everyone called, including myself. There was about $10 in the pot when the flop came out 2-5-7 rainbow. It's hard to put the SB (the aggressor) on anything at this point but the $2 bet suggested Ace-King, Ace-Queen or King-Queen. My logic is that in the SB, the worst position on the table, a $2 bet is weak into a pot that already has $2.00 in it. The $1.50 raise only encourages everyone to call and if you're holding a monster, you'd want to narrow down the field. However, if you are drawing, the $2.00 bet is perfect because you would want to build the pot so if you do hit the flop, you now have a considerable amount of money in it. Therefore, I would have expected the SB to raise much larger than $1.50 with a monster AA, KK or KQ. So that is my thinking when the SB leads out the flop with a bet of $6.00 The bet is about a half-pot bet so I'm now reading this as a reasonable stab at the pot with a board that is seemingly random. Everyone folds except for the player in the 6th seat who flat calls. I decide that the 6th seat might also be drawing at this point and I want to see another card in position because I very well might be good. I call. There are now three players. The turn is a deuce. I can't think of a hand, other than pocket deuces(!), that anyone might have had to call the $6 turn bet with a deuce, so it doesn't scare me. As a matter of fact, it makes my hand better if I believe both players are on a draw! The SB then throws a wrench into the works by moving all in. There is about $28 in the pot and he moves all in for about $32. The 6th seat folds and it's to me. I slightly outchip him. I'm confused until I put all the pieces together. If he had a monster, he would more likely try to value bet it to get me or the 6th seat to call. We've been flat calling every bet so we're representing draws. An all-in bet tells me he doesn't want to see the river. He's trying to take it down right now. This jibes with my initial impression that he had two high cards to begin with. I call and he turns over pocket threes. I'm ahead and the river is a blank, giving me the pot.

The table was shocked that I had such a 'poor' hand against that kind of show of strength, but the pieces of the story fell into place. The ironic part of poker is that if my opponent had made a much smaller bet on the turn, say $12 or $13 dollars, I would have folded, thinking he had an over pair that he was trying to milk.

The second situation came in a tournament last night. I had A9o on the button and blinds were 50/100. I had suffered a suckout early on and only had about 1300 in chips. 4 people limped in front of me and I raised to 500 in an attempt to take down the pot right there. Everyone folded until it got to my opponent on my right. He called 400 more into a pot of 1050 (not unreasonable if he is drawing). Again, his limp gave me the impression he was drawing. If he had had a decent hand, he would have raised from the cutoff position. He can't depend on the button or the blinds to raise for him if he has a monster. His limp tells me he probably has two high cards. I read him for KQ since I can't imagine Ace-little calling in this position. I tell myself I am going all in if an Ace comes on the flop or a bunch of blanks and the flop comes down 3c-4h-4s. Beautiful. Yes, I'm dead if he has a pair but I still have overcards to draw to. He takes away my decision by moving all in. Once again, and for the same reasons, I read this move as being too strong. Without his raise pre-flop to indicate a monster against so many more players to act behind him, the all in represents an attempt to take down the pot with a marginal hand. I call and he show Ah5h. He has an inside straight draw and a runner runner flush or straight draw. Since the board is paired up, we have a good possibility of splitting this pot but, in all, I am only 30% to lose here. The turn is a 6 and the river is a 7 and he makes his runner runner straight to take it down and put me out.

I'm convinced I played this one correctly but the table was shocked, going so far as to berate me for my decision (A9, that's it?!?). But the story made sense to me.

Now it's possible that someone with AA or KK might one day limp in late position with 4 or 5 callers in front of him, but that person is inviting a huge amount of trouble. So I will continue to make these reads (and get my ass handed to me on suckouts).

I've had a really bad run of luck at the tournament tables lately, but aside from two silly calls I made vs. John in the past month, I can't point to a place where I've made a wrong move. It's mostly been suckouts or runs of cards I can't play (I curse your name Paint-Middle!). I am comfortable in the knowledge that all players go through cold streaks but it's hard when you see other players amass huge stacks by sucking out three times in a row on the ass end of 80/20 draws and you get your hard-earned reads cracked by runner runner. If there is a God, he surely hates me.