Thursday, August 9, 2007

Mixed game magic

Our first rotation mixed game at Wall Street Poker was an unqualified success. Ok, maybe I have to qualify it a bit...

We started out with Omaha Hi/Lo 8's or better, with $1/$2 fixed betting limits. When I started thinking about how to set up this night's games, I figured I would start with a limit game to warm people up and then gradually ramp up the betting limits until our last game was good old NL Hold'em. The Omaha game was rousing fun, with 10 players desperately trying to figure out what the hell they had! Luckily, Carol and Brian, our resident Omaha experts, were there to help. I stayed back and played dedicated dealer. For anyone who is interested in listening, I appreciate that you all wanted me to play. I appreciate even more that it was not out of sheer desire to take all of the host's money in a game he's not very familiar with. Most of you seemed to geniunely want me to enjoy the game I was hosting by playing. But what some of you may not realize is that I get great enjoyment simply in seeing the league prosper, and sometimes that means sacrificing. I routinely give up my own seat in order to have new players come in and play. And sometimes I deal if I think a dedicated dealer will make a night run more smoothly. Playing new games (3 in one night!) that we've never had before, definitely qualifies. So I was happy, ok? Let it go! :-p

Back to the action at hand...

The Omaha Hi/Lo limit game was great, with everyone just sort of getting their feet wet. Then we moved on to 7 card Stud, 1 to 5 dollar spread limit. This game was *not* well received by most players. Mostly, I got blank stares at the concept of a 1-5 spread limit betting structure. Even though the structure used to be quite popular in casinos, and is still spread on occassion, a table full of hardened gamblers had never heard of it. I was stunned. But as the game wore on, I think the wisdom of the concept started seeping through, if only barely. Darko summed it up best. "Oh, you can bluff in this game!" Well, yes, though it helps if the limits are somewhat higher. However, the same concept applies even at these lower limits. In normal fixed limit games, where the betting doubles automatically on the turn and river (or 5th, 6th and 7th streets for 7stud), a bet on the flop rarely drives anyone out of the pot since it is only a half bet and people often have pot odds to call. But in a spread limit game, where you can make a full bet on any street, you can drive people out by laying poor odds to the pot. It is still a limit game, and multiple callers will end up offering good pot odds to late position players, but at least you have a better chance of killing draws. We sped through the hour of 7 stud and then moved on to our first "big bet" game.

The game was Pot Limit Omaha. Something new I learned about Pot Limit was that when you raise "pot", the call you make to the bet is included in the size of the pot. For example, if the blinds are $1/$2 and 3 people call before it gets to you, there is currently $9 in the pot (3 $2 callers and the blinds). If you raise "pot", you need to first call the $2 (making the pot $11) and then you raise an additional $11. This is obvious in hindsight, but I never really thought about it before. This is where having a dedicated dealer really came in handy. I was busy counting pots, spreading them out so people could see them, etc... If I hadn't been dealing, this game might have been marred by multiple hands messing around with the chips in the center of the table, and we all know where *that* leads! Since Pot Limit allows the pot to grow exponentially, the pots grew quite large in relation to the size of the blinds ($.50/$1 in this case). The first pot had over $65 in it, and similar pots were dragged for the entire hour we played.

At about 10:30, we switched over to NL Hold'em. All the players, shockingly, agreed to play $1/$2 NL and we further agreed on a cap of $300. No one, through all of those limit games, actually had $300 in front of them, so most players chipped up to increase their stack size. After about 2 hours of play, there was no hugely profitable player, though some showed very healthy profits. Abbie, Mary and Joel all had nice takedowns, with Carol sitting on a decent stack. Paul, Wendy and Darko, the Wall Street regulars, were stuck for more money than they'd care for me to mention here. At around 12:30, most of the players left, but Carol was having none of it. She suggested, AGAIN, that we play $2/$4 limit Omaha and Wendy, Carol, Brian and Myself ended up slugging it out. I warned everyone that 1:30AM was the cutoff, but somehow that time came and went without a sound. (I noticed, by the way, that no one actually reminded me what time it was!). What time did I finally kick everyone out? How about 4AM? I am SUCH a rockstar.

There was a bit of panic at the end of the night when I went to pay everyone out. The stack of money I had in my hand was about $55 short. I was worried, at first, but then I realized that I had taken all the small bills (anything under a $20) and put it in the cashbox. There was easily $55 or so in small bills that had been paid to me, and that accounted for the shortfall. Whew! All is well.

At the end of our very fun, but long, Omaha Hi/Lo limit game, Carol had padded her stack to become the big winner for the night (+~350). Brian had a healthy +150 win as well. I was about even (down $16) and Wendy...we won't mention Wendy.

To all the Wall Street regulars who find themselves being felted by the newcomers, a bit of advice: Play this table like the Good Look Club. These are very good players, whom you don't yet have solid reads on. Respect them!

One other thing to mention. Brian G. made one of the *sickest* reads I've ever seen during the $2/$4 limit Omaha game. He and Carol were mixed up in a pot together. The board was KQ77rag. I don't remember the precise action on all street but they ended up reraising each other a few times on the rag river. Brian finally called without raising, saying, "I have a feeling you've got quads". Carol did indeed turn up quad 7's! What made it more impressive is the hand Brian stopped re-raising with. Pocket Kings for the second nuts on the board!! Given the number of hands Carol could have re-raised with (QQ, K7, Q7, etc...), it is *astounding* that Brian had the read in order to stop milking the pot. Unbelievable.

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