Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Virginia is for bluffers

Before I begin this post, a quick word about Laura. This is the woman who called me out of the blue after 11 years to catch up and have coffee or something. I got a little flack about posting this incident given that I’m dating someone right now. I want to be clear, and I thought I was, that I don’t want date Laura. In fact, I really don’t want to even meet her. I only posted the whole thing because I found it funny and odd. I danced with her once 11 years ago at the wedding of a friend I’m no longer friends with. Besides for which, those of you who know me know that I’m not a ‘player’. My heart has been broken so many times that it’s hard to see the pieces anymore but that never stopped me from being monogamous, ever. And it won’t now. It’s just not who I am. I really like E and want to give our budding relationship the proper chance to breathe and grow. Hooking up with a random woman is NOT conducive to that.

Ok then.

After my Thanksgiving day debacle (see previous post) I was tired and kinda shagged out. Friday was supposed to be a short day at work but we have a lot of technical things to do and the short day probably wasn’t going to apply to us. I woke up somewhat late for work Friday morning and when I got in, the place was dead. Muerte. The entire World Financial Center complex had the vibe of a Saturday afternoon. Dead. Only two traders showed up to work on my desk, and they were out the door by 11:30. Not a single trade was executed. Good for them. But I’m not a trader. I write and maintain software. That job NEVER ends. My boss was in on time and left at 6:00, so I did too. Well, I came in at 10:00 and left at 5:00 but who’s quibbling? When I got home, I was tired. Really tired. So tired that I crashed on my couch at 5:30 and was woken up at 8:30 by Viv, who wanted to hit the Virginia room for some late night poker shenanigans. But she was tired too and we agreed to meet up at 11:00 PM. I caught another hour nap and cabbed my way over a little early to catch an impromptu dinner of Dunkin Donuts coffee and an egg sandwich. It was the perfect thing to refresh me and we walked into the room together with clear eyes and high hopes.

This was the first time since the City Limits shooting that I had been in an underground room, so I was a little nervous. But then my mind starting working again and I started thinking about the odds that a crew would hit this room. There’s almost never more than one table going and there’s hardly any cash in the room. It would seem silly to me to rob a place and net maybe 5-6 thousand dollars when you could take the same, or less, risk and rob a pizza parlor. I’m not suggesting that anyone do that, mind you, I’m just saying that if money motivates robbery than they are likely to gravitate to the highest risk/reward scenario. Only a poker player would know about the Virginia room, and poker players are smart. So there. Ok, maybe I was justifying it a bit, but I felt relatively safe. I sat down with Viv and things just started to come back to me. The feel of the felt, the flow of the game, the rustling sound of chips. It’s so beautiful.

The game was relatively tame for me for about an hour. I dragged a few small pots but nothing huge. Then the dream happened. I wish I was larger stacked for this story but I did well nonetheless and I’m not complaining. Here’s what went down. I was in EP with JJ. UTG raised to $12 with what I’m pretty sure was AK or AQ. I flat call, wanting to see a flop and knowing that many more people would call. Sure enough, 5 more callers come in and the flop is thrown down. Jd9d2c. W00t! Top set! It checks to me and I wait for someone to stab. It’s been a very aggressive table and sure enough an aggro player carves out a $100 stack and pushes it out. My heart leaps wildly with excitement. The aggro players has a big stack in front of him, about $550. I have about $185. To my amazement, a short stack between us pushes all in for about $85. Flush draw? I don’t know and I don’t care. All I know is that even more money got added to the pot which means I really don’t care about pushing all in because my extra $85 on top of the $100 bt is probably not going to push him out if he has anything decent. Yes, AJ might fold, but I was hoping he was betting big because he wanted people to CALL with a large hand. Or if he has the nut draw, he would certainly be priced in. So it folded to me and I pushed all in. The button, who was between me and aggro guy, went into the tank. He’s got a big and two all ins in front of him. Clearly he’s looking at at least one set. Turns out he’s got an OESD, but the two diamonds dissuade him from drawing and he folds. Now the aggro bettor goes into the tank. But he thinks for a much shorter time and finally calls. I put him on a flush draw and the shorty stack on a set, or vice versa. All the action has been done and we all flip our cards, though it’s clearly not necessary. Shorty stack flips over 99 with a flourish. He looks like Mike Tyson punched him in the gut when I show JJ. Aggro guy hesitates to turn over. Is he that weak? Is it only TPTK? No. He throws over 22 and the table explodes! Set over Set over Set!! An article in Poker Player magazine, by Richard Burke, puts the odds on this occurring at 78,165 to 1. And the odds that I would be on top of that situation? Priceless. The turn made the OESD his straight and he got audibly pissed off. That is, until the river came with a Jack to make me Quads. Poker rules!

So with one fell swoop, I tripled up and I was sitting with about $550 in my stack. The swagger was gone from Aggro guy who was back down to his $300 buyin. About 5 hands later, he would be completely felted, this time by Viv. Viv had called a raise with pocket 4’s and a few callers. The flop came down KJ4. Aggro guy pushed, Viv pushed back and aggro man moves all in for $300. Viv insta-calls with her set and aggro man shows top two. Tough luck my friend. Viv doubles up and becomes the big stack at the table. A position she would keep all night. Aggro guy leaves in a huff, having given up $550 in 10 minutes.

About 30 minutes later, I get 33. Pocket pairs have been good to me tonight but the betting is a raise to 15. Not good. However, 5 people call behind me and even though I’m first to act, I make the call knowing I only need $30 or so more in the pot to justify the call. There’s no chance a pot this size is staying this size. Besides, I’m getting a SB discount. So I call and am rewarded with a flop of 357 with two clubs. There is a flush draw AND straight draw on board, with the possibility of a made straight already. I have to bet this one big or else I’m gonna get screwed. So I check knowing I’m willing to check-raise with a huge bet (at least 4X the amount bet, depending). Someone bets out $25 and three people call. There is now $190 in the pot. I need to put a flush draw off, so I call a raise and err on the side of caution, putting $150 more on top. Now a flush draw is going to have to put in $150 into a $365 pot, about 2.5 to 1. Definitely not the right odds to call. On top of that, the psychological effect of having to put $150 into a pot with nothing at all is a powerful one. So it folded all around to the guy to my right. He pushed all in for $27 more on top, which I called of course. No sooner had he said “all in” then he asked to do business in the same breath. Obviously he had called with a draw. With the pot this big, hell yes I’m doing business. 3 times please. I won the first and the third and got 2/3 of a juicy pot. My stack was now up to about $700.

I went card dead for a little while, not getting playable hands. I was proud that I didn’t allow boredom to put me off my game. I waited for playable hands. 3 years ago, that meant category 1 hands. But now, that means suited connectors in nearly any position, suited one gappers or off suit connectors in late position and sometimes, but rarely, suited Ace little or King little on the cheap. I’m not a big fan of Ace little because you need two pair too often to win when an Ace flops. With this in mind, I get 7h8h on the button and the club’s owner/manager raises to 12 in late position after a few limps. I would normally fold this because I would need a few more callers, even if I’m in position, to justify this call. But I had a gut feeling that I would get action and I called the bet. Sure enough, 5 people called behind me. Thank you loosey goosies! The flop was nearly perfect. K88. It checks all around to me and I bet $25. I’m trying to represent a King, hoping that somebody (maybe Mr. Manager/owner initial raiser) has the REAL King and wants to check-raise me. But it folds around to the manager/owner who flat calls. That’s worrisome. I would expect AK to put out a raise to see where he’s at. A smooth call could mean he has an 8. It’s not outside the realm of possibility for someone to raise it up in later position with A8. Maybe even 98 suited which beats me. Or pocket Kings. Those are the only combinations I’m worried about right now. The turn is a complete brick. He checks to me and I come out swinging. $55. I wince internally. Here comes the big re-raise, right? What do I do if that happens? But no, he simply calls again. Now I’m confused. He could be really really slow playing something big, or he could simply have a good King and he’s worried about ME. So when he checks the river (nothing important) I err on the side of prudence and check, given I don’t nearly have the nuts. I show my 78 and he angrily flashes AA. He was pissed because $12 wasn’t a big enough raise but he was worried about not getting any action if the made a larger preflop raise. Can’t say I blame him. Who wants to get AA and win $6 when you stand the chance of winning SO much more with it?

Meanwhile, Viv was also holding on to her stack and growing it as well. She made a sick move when she called a $20 preflop bet on the button. Flop was K73 or some similar garbage. I don’t remember the rest of the action other than the turn was a 3. A shorty stack moves all in and Viv calls. Shorty has AK or KQ. Viv has 34o! She took down about $150 in profit on that crap and justified it with her huge smile by holding up the button! “But I was on the button!”. That’s our girl!
I held onto my stack and announced at 2:30 AM that I was leaving. I even won my last hand with TPTK that didn’t get called down, topping me out to $753 total, a $553 profit on my initial $200 buyin. I’m not a big stack guy normally (something I’m trying to change by betting larger) so I am happy to say that this was my largest cash profit in my poker career, excluding one 145 player tournament in Florida two years ago that I placed 3rd in for $1200 in profit. It’s probably not even on the top ten best sessions for someone like W or Darko, but I’m trying to change that and break out of my ‘break-even’ poker shell. Could this be the beginning of a new game for Jamie? Only time, and many many more poker sessions will tell.

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