Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Good Look club hand analysis

I played at Good Look last night and I nearly got felted. I bought in for $200 and reloaded for $100 twice. I cashed out with $65 at midnight and I’m convinced I didn’t play too badly. Yes, I played too many hands towards the end but only because I was frustrated about my lack of good starting hands. That’s the problem with the grinder game. Sometimes your category 1 hands just don’t show up. The guy in the one seat at the table had a ridiculous run of them though. He flopped the flush at least three times and showed pocket Aces (all of which stood up!) at least another three times. That’s an insane statistical improbability for a 2 hour session. I lost most of my money on a single hand which I want to break down here. I’m convinced I did the right thing, but I just want to put it down on paper to make myself feel better!

I was playing a bit loose and I got Kd5d on the button. The one seat, under the gun, made it $15 to go which was a reasonable raise at this table. I knew he had a strong hand but I saw 4 calls in front of me and with $60 already in the pot I decided to gamble that I could crack the table with this hand. I figured that for $15 in position, I could see a flop and then get away easily if I didn’t hit. Well, the flop came down with 10d Jd 6c. I had hit a flush draw. Granted, it wasn’t the nut flush draw, but it was pretty decent. Everyone checked around to me and I sensed enough weakness to bet out the draw. I didn’t want to put too many people out., just sweeten the pot enough that if I made my draw I would hit big. I bet $15. At this point, I put the one seat on something like AQ or AK. I figured I might be able to even take the pot down right there although that was an iffy possibility. The one seat immediately re-raised me to $45. Everyone else folded to the check raise. It was $30 more to me and I now put him on KK or AA. I decided call because it was $30 more to see a pot of $130. That’s more than 4-1 and I was nearly getting pot odds to call. I was definitely getting implied odds when you consider I knew his remaining money (only $54) would most assuredly be going into the pot. I couldn’t be stuck for too much more and I would be able to see the turn and river for a fixed amount. The turn was a Qs. I now had an open ended straight draw AND the flush draw. My outs, as far as I knew, were 15. The one seat, of course, went all in for $54. It was $54 to me for a pot that now had $214. I agonized over the call while I did the math in my head but I eventually made the call. The river, unfortunately, was the Qc and I only had King high. He had Ad Ah and took down the pot.

I actually had fewer outs than I thought because he had two fo the Aces I needed and one of the diamonds, but that still left me with 13 outs. That's plenty to make the river call once the Queen hit on the turn. Such is life. If I had hit that draw, I would be well up for the night. I’m convinced I did the right thing.

Anyone disagree?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

New underground club reviews

I got some emails about new clubs opening up in the city and Darko and I went out last night to check them out. The first, the Good Look club, is based somewhere in the Garment District. The club has a superb security system with a security guard outside the door who frisked us thoroughly. The club is run by the same guys who ran the old Extra Big Blind club (before they got shut down) and the guard asked if I had the old membership card. I lied and said I had been at the Extra Big Blind club but forgot my card. He gave us static about it and almost didn’t let us in but a quick trip inside and he got permission for us. We told them we were regular players at the Salami club and that seemed to open them up. After we got our new ID cards and chipped up (nice chips, by the way), we made our way to a 1/2 table in full swing. The club is very spacious, with 15 tables, a cage area, a full bar area for drinks and snacks and even a massage girl/waitress. Dealers were experienced and the place is generally well run. There were multiple big screen TV’s showing sports and the buyins for the table were the same as Atlantic City. In general, the whole experience reminded me of AC, with fishy type players and tight play, which suits me just fine. There were three 1-2 tables and 2 2-5 tables going for a full 50 players!

John and I sat down with $240 each and got the feel of it. John, thinking he was at Salami, played a little too agressively and had to do a re-buy. I played tight poker and was up to $320 when my dream hand came. In the big blind, I had A9o and was able to just call when no raises came pre-flop. Flop was A99! It got checked around to a guy who had been playing a bit loose and getting lucky (e.g. hitting two pair on the river with middle pair the whole way). He had worked $300 to $800 on pure luck but was back down to $500 at this point. On this board, he bet out $15 and got called by nearly all the players in. There was about $65 in the pot at this point and a King came down on the turn. I decided it was time to milk the pot and I bet out $30. Everyone folded until Mr. Loosey-Goosey raised me to $100. Ka-Ching! I made a point of ‘deciding’ what to do when I moved all in on him. He insta-called and flipped up J9. His jaw dropped when I flopped my boat and he was drawing dead on the river. Sweet! My stack was now $650+ and I managed to get it up to $725 when we decided to leave at 11:45pm.

John had gotten lucky on a few hands towards the end of our run to get close to even on his session (or at least not totally down). We weren’t finished with the night though and we decided to hit the other club nearby to see what it was like. It’s the AC club, two blocks away. When we got in the building it looked really familiar to me and it turns out I’ve been there before, about a year and a half ago. At the time, it was called the Rounders Club and they re-opened recently under a new name but in the same space! Weird. The place is smaller, only 6 tables, but 3 of them were going and one of them was spreading 20-40 limit, which I have seen advertised but never actually seen going. John and I bought in for another 200 each and sat next to each other at the 1-2 table. This club is not nearly as nice as the other one. It’s bigger than Salami, but the dealers aren’t as good as the Good Look and it’s a bit scuzzy looking. The players are looser than Good Look though and I adjusted accordingly. I doubled my stack in the first twenty minutes when I raised under the gun to $10 with pocket 4’s. I got a few callers but no raisers and the flop came up with high cards. I was looking for the 4, obviously, and didn’t get close. Oh well. I checked and, amazingly, it got checked all the way around! Luck be a lady, but a 4 came on the turn. I bet out $15 and got called by two players. The board was now K8T4. The river came a 9. I led out with $30 and got re-raised to $60. It’s possible the guy had QJ for the straight, but I can’t imagine him calling my $15 bet on an inside straight draw. Instead, I put him on two pair, probably T9. I trusted my instincts and went all in for another $85. He thought about it for a little bit, which made me feel better about my move, and finally called. I flipped up the set and he mucked in disgust. On the very next hand, he moved all in pre-flop for $120+ with 99 and got called with KK. He lost and left the table in a fury. I loved it! John was doing poorly but managed to triple up with only $36 when his 77 miraculously stood up against two callers. Then he doubled up on a huge stroke of luck. He had called a small pre-flop raise with J5o (can you say tilt) and hit a flop of J75. Lucky, lucky. He raised a bettor and got called. The turn was a 7. Uh-oh, he had just gotten counterfeited on his two pair but John moved all in over the top of the bettor anyway. The guy called with AJ for two pair, and a much better kicker. John was now dead to a 7 or a Jack for the chop or a 5 for the win (6 outs total). A 5 hit on the river and John dragged the pot! He really needed it too and we were able to leave at 1AM with him only down about $200 for the night. I had held on to some of my profit at this table and left up $101 for a great night of +$586.

I don’t know if I would go back to the AC club, but Good Look is fantastic! Too bad Ricardo doesn’t cook there… :-)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

My 2nd professional dealing gig, a recap

Last year, I answered an ad in Craigslist looking for a dealer to work a private party. I hooked up with the guy, who wanted to make sure I knew the rules of the game (ha!) and had a great time. Well, he runs these poker tournaments twice a year and this past Saturday was his 7th event. I did well enough last year that he invited me back and there were over 80 guests this time around. They're all banker, lawyer and accountant types and there was a lot of testosterone in the room. The room itself is a huge loft they rent out in SOHO. It's got a fully stocked bar with some hot bartenders, a team of sushi chefs who work all night (the fish was excellent), two massage girls who work the room, and 3 ridiculously hot girls who come out in different outfits to act out skits and announce the new blind levels. One of the girls even did a 15 minute standup comedy routine about having anal sex with her boyfriend (not kidding).

As I had done this before with these guys, I brough my own decks of cards with me to deal with since they only gave out the regular BEE brand playing cards at each table. My own KEM cards were much easier to deal with. The players appreciated my professionalism and I got multiple compliments on my ability to quickly deal the cards, handle sidepots, call the right winner and generally keep the game moving. There were 7 other dealers there, and only one who was as good as me. I'm convinced that any of the players at our own game could successfully deal in a tournament if called upon.

The tournament itself is not particularly well run. The blinds go up at regular intervals, but there isn't a tournament director who collapses tables at the right time. My table started with only 8 players where everyone else had 10. I asked the boss to pull two people off of two different tables, but he refused because he thought it would be anti-social since so many friends were sitting together. Well, two people busted out at my table quickly and we were down to only 6 with most tables still full! Again, I tried to get people pulled off but they wouldn't. Eventually, one of the more learned players at my table complained enough (and rightfully so) that they pulled everyone off of my table and filled in other dead spots. My table got converted to a cash game and I had 7 players immediately. Again, here's where my own experience would have helped. The boss dumped two large bags of chips in front of me and said, "Here's your chips for cash". I looked down and there were only two colors! I asked what denominations they should be but he only said I should do whatever the table wanted. I figured I could make the chips $.50, $1.00 or $5.00. The table rejected .50/1 outright and it would be hard anyway since you really need three chip colors to make that game work (.50, 1 and 5). Someone suggested 5/10 but the table was only looking to buy in for maybe $100 each, so that was definitely out. We settled on 1/2 with $1 and $5 chips and I cut the money. I would have to be in charge of the money too, which made me unsettled, but mostly because I had no singles to pay people out with! This is another thing that experience teaches you. You need to have change! Another issue was people rebuying. We ran out of chips quickly and I had to have people buy chips off of big stacks and then it became a hassle to make sure people kept the cash on the table! They kept trying to pocket the money and I kept having to remind them that this was a table stakes game and the cash represented chips in play, not a cash out! But in the end, it all worked out. I didn't have singles to pay out people so they just gave me the remainders as tips. Then, someone gave me a $20 bill and then a flood of them came! I made $240 in salary for the night ($40/hr) and another $130 in tips! Pretty good for getting good dealing experience, eating all the good free sushi I could handle and eyeballing some T+A. That, and one of the hot dealers wants to play in our game!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

MLK in AC - A Carnivore Fest

Another holiday weekend in AC. MLK day and the markets are closed on Monday. But the action is loose and fishy on the beautiful Jersey Shore. That, and temps of 65 degrees in the middle of January on the beach. What a time!

This weekend was all about the poker with only one fine dinner to distract us. There was a bit of drama getting there, though. It was officially a half day in the bond markets on Friday, so I was home at about 4:00PM. When I got home, the lack of sleep I had been getting (we played poker at my place the night before until at least 3AM) caught up to me and I absolutely crashed. I called up Paul and told him I was going to take a bus in the morning and meet them there. Then I cuddled up with a couch cushion and went flat unconscious. I was woken up at 6:30PM by Matt who told me that plans had changed. Paul was getting out later than expected and now they were going to be leaving at around 9PM. At that point, I had gotten enough of a nap that I could handle the ride, so I joined Matt and Paul and we went to pick up John. The four of us made it down in 2 hrs. and 10 minutes flat.

We immediately hit the Trop because it’s the closest good room to Paulie’s apt. and we hit the tables. I was still feeling a bit tired and I didn’t trust myself with no limit, so I went to the 4-8 table. The room was absolutely packed and I had to wait a bit to sit down but I finally did. Oddly enough, the exhaustion I was feeling didn’t translate into bad play. Oh, I lost my whole buyin of $200, but it wasn’t because I played poorly. I folded my bad hands, pumped up my good hands and didn’t hit a single thing. In 2 hrs. and 20 minutes, I won exactly one pot and even that was a fluke. That’s quite an accomplishment for limit. But I didn’t feel badly about it at all because I know I was playing well. If I was chasing what I shouldn’t have, I would have been felted in an hour flat. The one hand I won was AcJh. After a pre-flop raise by me and a few callers, the flop was Kh Js 5s. I had a gutshot straight and a backdoor flush draw. Not a good board considering there was a spade flush draw on the board. But I was given a gift when everyone checked the board. A 9h gave me a better flush draw and I checked, calling an unraised bet. Lady luck hit me when a small heart came on the river. I had a Jack flush, which was enough to stand up to a weak pair of Tens. Other than that piece of trash win, I couldn’t hit a thing.

After getting busted out there, I joined Matt and John at a 1-2NL table. It was 2AM and I was feeling good about my poker. I was up about $80 when I picked up JJ under the gun. I made it $10 to go, figuring I’d pump up the pot and if I hit, I hit. I got a few callers when Matt raised to $25. We all had had a conversation in the car about giving a warning to other players if you have a big hand. That warning was going in for a *big* raise if you’ve got a good made hand. I figured Jacks qualified. If Matt had me beat with Queens or higher, than he had my money. I moved all in saying, “Ok Matt, let’s dance”. Matt called! I didn’t want him to because I was happy just taking down the $60 in the pot. He showed AhKh. Not an awful call, but not a good one either. He would be crushed to my Aces or Kings and only a 50/50 to my underpair. As it turns out, he didn’t hit and I doubled through him. I couldn’t quite hold on to the lead I had and ended up giving away most of that profit. By the time I left at nearly 4AM, I had made $60 and we got up to go home to Paulies.

We woke up at around noon and finally dragged our asses out by 2PM. This time, we went to Caesars, whose poker room I love. We mostly went there because we had dinner reservations for 7:15PM at Mortons Steakhouse, which is right next to the poker room. I played limit again, this time because there was a waiting list for 1-2. The first table I could get on was 3-6. The *instant* I sat down, the table next to me erupted into a cacophany of exhultation. In plain English, they went apeshit! Turns out they hit the bad beat jackpot to the tune of $83,000. The “loser” of the hand got 40,000. The winner got $20,000 and the remaining players at the table got about $3,500 each. Not bad for a 2-4 limit table! The hand was Pocket Queens vs. Pocket Aces with AQQ on the board. Wow! They were all hugging and kissing each other and I don’t blame them. The room didn’t calm down for another 15 minutes. It’s amazing though, how nonchalant the players at the other tables were. They were actually getting annoyed that play had slowed down at their own low limit tables! Funny…

My session at Caesars was a break even affair. I left the 3-6 table to go to a 4-8 table which eventually went back down to 3-6 to attract players and finally broke up! I only had 30 minutes to dinner so I went to 2-4 and ended up this little session with a net loss of $4.00. Fun entertainment for nearly 3 hours of play.

Dinner at Mortons was a trip. John and I shared a double-porterhouse done medium rare. The problem with anything above rare is that the ovens there aren’t hot enough so only a small portion in the middle is actually cooked the way you want. The outside edges are well done. It wasn’t Luger’s to be sure. Paul had the Cajun Rib-Eye (te best choice) and Matt tried to order the double porterhouse for himself, well done. The cut is 96oz. and obscenely thick. The waiter double checked to make sure that Matt really wanted it well done. It is very thick, the waiter said, and it will take a looong time to get well done. Matt didn’t care. He’d ordered this at Luger’s before (with stares of disbelief, no doubt) and it always came out great. The waiter was finally convinced and went to place our order. A few minutes later, the chef comes out and starts trying to convince Matt not to order his double porterhouse well done! “It’s a beautiful piece of meat”, he begs. “Please don’t do this”. If I hadn’t seen it, I wouldn’t have believed it. But the slayer would not be swayed. Finally, he was convinced to order the single porterhouse and then another on should he still be hungry. I am amazed to report that Matt did just that and polished off both steaks as if we eating for three. It was a culinary feat of legendary proportions.

After dinner, the crowd wanted to stay at Caesars. I had wanted to hit the Showboat for the 11 PM tourney, but no one else was interested. Matt, especially, wanted to see what the competition at the 2-5 table was like. So they all stayed and I left. Scott Levy had just driven down and met me at the Showboat with his friend Adam joining us later. We all registered for the tourney, which was surprisingly light and proceeded to play. I went card dead at a tough table and couldn’t make a stack. I finally tried to steal a pot with a semi-bluff on the nut flush draw but my opponent had flopped top set of Kings and I couldn’t hit the heart I needed. Scott made it all the way to 7th place and nearly monied when he pitted his Jacks against Aces and got felted. He was the *true* bubble and they were paying out 5 places and they all put in a few dollars to give the 6th place finisher his money back. Almost Scott!

I got myself into a 1-2 NL table and did a lot better than I had previously, turning $195 into $431 before I cashed out and headed home at 4:30AM. Scott, Adam and I were renting a room at Resorts (not the same since Merv died J ) and it was time to hit the hay. When we got up, Matt had already driven home an we met Paul and John at the Tropicana. I sat down with John and Scott at another 1-2 NL game, which Paulie joined as well once Scott had busted out. It was a fun table, with John taking the role of table captain. A shared role actually since there was an Irish guy with a neon blue shirt who we took to calling “Blue”. Blue was being a bit reckless but doing quite well. I was up about $60 when I looked down at KK in the small blind. I made it $12 to go and got a few callers. Paul raised to $25. I sensed a similar situation that happened between Matt and I with my JJ so I raised to $100 when it got back to me. Everyone else folded and Paul said, “I’m sorry Jamie, I’m all in”. I knew he had AA, but I only needed $30 more to call a pot of $250 or so, so I completed my bet. It was indeed KK vs. AA and Paul, who was running ice-cold all weekend, looked like he was going to cry when my King flopped. He didn’t hit the Ace and I felted him. I didn’t feel good about it. After that, I couldn’t win too much. I made what would have been a very good bluff on the guy to my left but he had a boat, so that didn’t work! My other big hand was a heart-breaker. I had been playing tight the whole time and I noticed I wasn’t getting too much action on my bets. So I decided to try to loosen up a bit. I was in the big blind with 63o when John, who was in the cutoff seat, raised to $12 with his patented “I sense weakness” quote. A few people called and I made the insane call for $10 more. The flop came 663. I nearly had a heart attack. My dream flopped boat had happened at last! I was first to act and I checked. The guy to my left bet $15. A few people called, including John and me. The turn was a Queen. Now I led out the betting with $50. It threw everyone for a loop. I was representing either a complete bluff, or AQ. The guy to my left, who had led out on the flop, called and everyone else folded. John was dumbstruck, but he called, hoping for “one more card”. I put the guy to my left on either a 6 or an over pair. I was royally pissed off when the river came out as a 3! Goddamn it!!! My perfect boat was now chopped to anyone with a 6. Luckily, there was only one more in the deck. The only thing I was now scared of was QQ, but there was nothing I could do about that. I moved all in, got called by the guy to my left and John folded, showing TT. The guy to my left had 6T. CRAP!!! Only a Queen, Ten or 3 on the river could have screwed me and I had to chop the pot instead of cashing in on a monster. John was pissed too that I called his raise with my garbage. Sorry big guy, sometime you gotta mix it up. Anyhow, John made huge dollars this weekend by playing fantastic poker. I personally witnessed a brilliant move when a guy to my left, Bryan, raised pre-flop and John re-raised him. Bryan makes a huge re-raise for another $125 and John folds, showing pocket Kings! Bryan, who he had befriended that night, did indeed show pocket Aces and John dodged a huge bullet since Bryan had about $400 in his stack to John’s $600. John talked to me about later and reasoned that the huge reraise was the giveaway of AA. I think the most brilliant move was being friendly enough with him that he essentially gave John a $250+ ‘gift’ of telegraphing his huge raise. Wow!

I went upstairs to take a nap at around 11PM and came back down at 12:30. Scott wasn’t feeling all that great so he stayed in for the night but John was still plugging away on the 1-2 table. I found a juicy 4-8 table and played another 5 hours or so. I was exactly even when I walked away at 5:30AM but John wouldn’t leave. He played through the night and Scott and I picked him up at 1PM to go home. He wanted one more hand! We finally pried him off the table and had an uneventful ride home. Exhaustion set in but we were happy the trip had been good. I’m still full from Mortons. My final PnL for the weekend (Poker only, no meals or hotels): +$39. ;-)

Friday, January 12, 2007

A tournament win at the Salami club(Slicing off a hunk of salami)

I cut myself a piece of the salami last night. Ok, a good sized hunk of salami. All it took was a little patience and a spoonful of luck.

Darko, Matt and Wendy were all going to the club last night to play cash but I had to be up early again for work so cash play until the late hours of the night was out. I was walking home at about 7PM, when all of a sudden, like a flash of lightning, the ‘urge’ hit me. It started out like an itch but started to grow until my legs were too heavy to walk. Every step I took took me farther from Salami. As if I was being controlled by another entity, my hand went up and flagged down a cab which whisked me away to Houston street.

I arrived at the club at 7:15, the first one there. Jeff was there, setting the place up. I considered, briefly, going outside to get some dinner, but I was really jonesing for one of Ricardo’s famous egg omelet sandwiches (the best I’ve ever had, by far), so I hung out and waited for other people to arrive. By 7:30, we only had 6 but then they arrived in thick bunches. We finally ended up with 19 players and ended up with a total of 29 buyins by the end of the 2nd level.

For the first time that I can remember at the club, I wasn’t forced to buyin again. Even though Marie was my dealer, and she has dealt me some awful beats in the past (3rd 8 on the river anybody?), she was actually showing me love this time around! In the first blind level, I limped in UTG with JhTh, desperately hoping that no one would raise. Amazingly, no one did and the flop was a disappointing 778 with no hearts. I checked and someone made a small bet of 100, I believe. I called, thinking about my two overcards and inside straight draw, and two other players called. The turn was a beautiful 9. I slowplayed, hoping someone would bet and Al, the old man at the end of the table, moved all in. This was the first level, mind you, and with re-buys allowed for two levels, crazy plays were expected. The other guy folded and I called. Al said, “Hmmm, good call” and showed his Ad3d bluff. I had the nuts, of course, and the table was shocked to see such a good hand. Bam! Just like that I more than doubled up and I was happy to have a real stack. I made one awful pay in the second blind round when I was in late position with Jh9h and everyone folded all the way around to me. I raised to 700 with 50/100 blinds and I hoped to steal but the small blind called. This guy, who would eventually go on to win the whole tourney, was playing a bit loose so I didn’t know what he had. The flop missed me totally with low cards and he checked. I checked. The turn missed me with another low card. He checked, I checked (mistake here. I should have fired another bullet). The river was a King. He made a move to his chips but then checked. I considered betting again but I didn’t. Another huge mistake as betting was my only chance of winning the pot. He showed Qd8d (?!?) and I had to fold. Grrr…. Other than that, things were going smoothly. I had about 3500 in chips when the 3rd blind level hit. No more rebuys. Now was the time to start playing some poker. Late in the 3rd round, I got 66 in late position. My nemesis with the Q8 was UTG and raised 3X the big blind. I put him on Ace-middle or KQ, KJ. Everyone folded to me and I figured that a big raise would push him off his hand. Even if he called me, I figured, I would be a slight favorite to win. I moved all in. He promptly called with QQ. Ouch! A huge miscalculation on my part. Luckily, Marie flopped a 6 for me which held up and I doubled through the big stack in the tourney. Yay! I basically sat on my stack until the final table hit.

At the final table, I got seated in the first seat and was happy to see I was 3rd stack at the table. The button was dealt and I was the big blind. I looked down to see a beautiful looking AsKs. People get skittish on the first hand at a new table and it folded all round to the button who was second short stack at the table. He moved all in. I insta-called and he had Qd3d. I won and felted the first player, adding his chips to my stack. The button moved around and I folded away until I was big blind again. I looked down and saw…AsKs. Huh? Two big blinds in a row and I get the same two cards? This time, the short stack at the table to my left moves all in. Again I call when everyone folds to me and I win when his K9 can’t stand up to my flopped Ace. Sweet! I sit tight, folding all the junk I get and waiting for a monster I can play. I got 99 on the button at one point, but that hand saw a raise and a re-raise pre-flop and I threw it away. The winning hand turned out to be an all-in QT who hit his ten on the river. The re-raiser had 88! Oh well, I still dodged a bullet. Eventually, the two big stacks at the table, my nemesis and Tommy Lee, started taking out the small stack and we were down to 5 players. The 5th player was very short stacked and we all made a deal to take $20 from the 3 payout slots and make a $60 fourth place prize. If I could outlast the short stack, I would at least get my money back. The 5th place guy busted out shortly afterwards when my nemesis took him out with A6 and I was happy to be in the money. The two big stacks dwarfed me and the 4th place guy who were nearly even when an unexpected turn of events occurred. My nemesis raised pre-flop only to get called by Tommy Lee. Me and the short stack got out of the way with the two big stacks tangling. Could they take each other out? One could only hope. The flop was 379 and my nemesis led out with 2000. Tommy Lee raised to 5000 and my nemesis called! Me and the short stack gave each other hopeful looks that we would make it into the money by sheer luck. The turn was an Ace. My nemesis checked. Tommy Lee moved all in. Me and the short stack visibly whispered prayers, our lips moving in unison. My nemesis called! Nemesis turned over T9, for flopped top pair. Tommy Lee called out, “top two” and turned over 97! Tommy Lee barely outchipped my nemesis so I was looking to make some cash! Instead, a very very very cruel Ten hit the board! Wow! My nemesis get a very lucky card but that still leaves Tommy Lee with 875 in chips. However, with blinds at 400/800, he doesn’t stand to last long. Tommy Lee moves all in blind UTG on the next hand. He’s got 88 which flops a set! He triples up. He moves all in blind again in the big blind. He’s got AQ which stands up! He moves all in blind one more time and no one contests. Wow! All of a sudden, he’s 2nd stack at the table again. Crap. I look down on the button at Ah7h and Tommy Lee folds. I figure here’s my chance to at least steal some blinds. I move all in and my nemesis folds. The other short stack, who’s also trying to survive, agonizes a call and finally makes it, probably thinking that if I took these blinds I would have a good lead on him. He’s got Kh6h. My Ace flops and he’s out of the tourney. I now have about the same stack, maybe slightly more than Tommy Lee. I immediately call for a chop. My nemesis is amenable but not sure how much to chop and I ask Tommy Lee to negotiate. He does, very well, convincing my nemesis to give up $200 from his pot to give to Tommy and me and we would split 50/50. My share ended up at $335!

I’m very happy about it. When I left, Wendy hadn’t gotten there yet and Darko and Matt had just sat down. I left the club with my winnings and headed home to sleep. Darko sent me an email this morning that he got felted on a heartbreaking hand. He had A9 and the flop was AA9. He eventually was all in vs. an opponent who had AQ, but a Queen came on the river! Yeesh. Salami is ruthless.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The slaughter at the Salami club

I got a call from Tommy Drama at 7:00PM on Saturday night. “Do you want to go to Salami for the tourney?” I hadn’t showered yet that day, having woken up at 2PM after last night’s League festivities extended to 5AM, but I asked for 10 minutes to clean up and ran to meet him at Broadway and Rector. We hopped in a cab and drove up the FDR as quickly as we could. There was an accident on Houston tah we had to take a detour around and we didn’t make it into the club until about 7:40pm but we needn’t have worried. When we got in, there were about 10 players just sitting around waiting. By the time the tourney kicked off at 8:00 pm, we had 16 players, eventually extending to 23 buyins.

The first round saw only one decent hand from me and I was down to 1250 oout of my initial 2000 chips when the second round hit. With 6 minutes left in the second round, I was on the button with KQo and a pre-flop raise from an aggressive guy in early position. I decided to try to double up with my KQ because I could still rebuy in the second round. I figured I was a 60/40 underdog at worst and could be as good as 50/50. My instincts were right as I pushed all in and he called with pocket Tens. But I didn’t get love from the deck and I called for another stack of chips. Things went better with this stack as I moved up to 2800 quickly and managed to keep afloat at around 3900 for another hour before the final table hit. I was 7th or 8th stack at the table and I managed to take a few blinds while the shorter stacks busted out. With 6 players left, and 2 stacks shorter than me, I thought I had a legitimate shot of making the money when all hell broke loose for me. I was in the big bind with Ac7c when the UTG player, the short stack at the table, moved all in. Everyone folded to me and it was only 1000 more to call. With blinds at 400/800, it was a no brainer to call with an Ace in my hand and I did. He showed Q9o and I was happy to be ahead. The flop missed him with KJ-rag. The turn was a blank and he stood up to leave but the river (cruel river) was a Ten and he made an inside straight! Ouch. 3 hands later, I got Ah7h (same hand, different suits) and I pushed all in. The same player called, this time he had KhQh. Not only was I leading, but his heart flush draw was dead to mine. The flop came…AcJdTc. He flopped a freakin’ Broadway straight!! The table groaned in sympathy for me. A King came on the turn and I fantasized the river might bring a Queen so we could chop but no such luck. Mr. Lucky raked in his chips and I was left feeling sick. I still had 2500 in chips but I was about to be blinded in for 800. I looked down UTG and saw Q9o. I figured here was my chance to triple up and I moved all in. The guy to me left (a different guy) called and everyone else folded. I figured to be behind but was happy to see him turn up KJ. I had live cards and a fighting chance. Sly, the dealer, commented that I was “finally behind” and had a fighting chance. The table was laughing about it until the flop came out KJJ. My opponent had flopped a full house!!! I had no choice but to laugh about these awful circumstances and I went to join Drama for some dinner at a bar on Bleeker Street. He had busted out earlier after 3 buyins and went to go watch the Dallas game.

The bartender at the Village Lantern is sooo incredibly hot that I had trouble paying attention, but the mini-burgers and pint of Sam Adams really hit the spot.

Refreshed after dinner, I went back to join the cash game. Darko had shown up but gave up his seat to Drama who could only stay for about an hour. I was sitting in my favorite seat, seat 5, but I was in AWFUL table position. To my left were the most aggressive guys in the club. Sal, Elias and Steve were to my left in order and, sure enough, they were cold-raising like crazy. I tightened up and waited for good cards which never came. Pretty soon, my $200 buy-in was down to $120. Then, like a light in the woods, Drama gave us all a story for the ages. Thomas had about $325 in front of him when he called a pre-flop raise from Steve with a few other callers in the pot. The flop was 578 rainbow and betting commenced. Steve bet, Thomas raised and Steve called. Everyone else got out of the way. A Queen came on the turn. Steve bet out and Thomas raised, but not before causing some controversy. Thomas was measuring out a raise juuuust in front of his cards when he then reached into his rack and pulled out $100, placing it on the table well in front of him. The dealer called “raise to $100” and Steve complained, saying the chips in front of Thomas’ cards should be counted as well in the raise. The dealer pointed out that if you want to be technical and count Thomas chips in front of his cards then you should consider it just a call since he hadn’t said a thing. Sly came in and made a floor ruling that just the initial chips would be counted. Thomas agreed and the raise became $75 total. Steve sat back and thought about this turn of events, taking a good 3 minutes to think. The scene was surreally quiet except for the porn on the TV in the background (no joke, fully explicit porn with comments of quality from Elias). Steve finally called “raise” and put in an extra $100. Thomas didn’t hesitate, calling “All In!” and sliding his full rack forward. The trap was sprung and Steve looked like he had been stung by a hive of angry bees. He agonized about calling the extra $200 when he finally folded. Thomas, jubilant, slammed his cards face up on the table. Ac3c. A complete bluff! Thomas had executed brilliantly on arguably the best player at the club. Steve made a comment that he only had 9-Ten for the OESD but this is complete crap because he was muttering about not making the call for a good hour afterwards. I was amazed Drama was able to rattle his cage like that.

I made a friendly suggestion that Thomas should take this opportunity to leave with his winnings and though the table wasn’t happy about it, he left a few hands later, up about $400 in the space of 30 minutes or so. My luck wasn’t nearly as good. I was down to $95 when I called for another $100 in chips. The hand after I got my chips, I looked down at my best hand of the night, AhQh. OK! I raised out to $20 pre-flop and Steve called, still looking like he was steaming a bit. I factored this into my next move. The flop came down 589 (again!) and I bet out $50, trying to represent a high pair. Steve called right away and now I was worried. He was on the button. Did HE have the high pair? What could he have the would cause him to call but ot raise my pre-flop bet. The next card took away all my worries. The beautiful Ace of clubs gave me top pair with Queen kicker. I moved all in, hoping to represent a bluff and he called with… 78o. Grrrr…. I don’t know how I could have laid that one down, to tell you the truth. I was the victim of position. If the Ace hadn’t fallen, I could have gotten away from it. Oh well. When I coupled this with my tournament hands, I figured this wasn’t my night and went home.

I’ll get you Salami Club!!! You will rue the day you messed with me!!!

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Some old guy dies and I get the day off. AC, here we come!

Some guy named Gerald Ford died the other day. It was in all the papers and I did some research on Wikipedia and it turns out this guy used to be the President of the United States! Wow. Well, when a President dies there is a traditionally a ‘national day of mourning’ during which nobody really cares but a lot of people get the day off. Since most stock and bond markets were closed, that included Merrill Lynch employees! We got the message from Merrill around 11:00 AM on Friday (Another Festivus Miracle!) so by 11:00AM and thirty seconds, I had already begun planning my trip to Atlantic City.

‘Fatwah’ Wendy, ‘Slayer’ Matt and ‘Darko’ Johnny were all on board for a trip down on New Year’s Day coming home the day after. We were even joined by Sly, who is the dealer/manager at Salami! The Tropicana was offering a $69 room, which is peanuts for us high rollers, and we were excited about going. I was especially excited after the drubbing I got over Christmas weekend.

Communication was spotty during the New Year’s celebration but I got a text message from Matt saying that ‘Noon’ would be the time we would hit the road on Monday. True to Matt’s sense of timing, I called him at 11:40AM to confirm when he would pick me up and I woke him up out of a dead sleep. He didn’t get down to me until about 1:30PM and we didn’t hit the road until just after 2PM after picking up John. So we lost the afternoon, but I’ll chalk that up to post New Year’s Eve hangovers.

The ride down to AC was trouble free and we got into the Trop at about 5:45PM. By 6:15, we were sitting at 1-2 NL tables at Caesar’s, which has a wonderful poker room. The place was packed and there were plenty of tables going at all sorts of levels. I sat down to a somewhat tight table where I was able to score around $80 in profit off a $300 buy-in before the first big hand of the day came in front of me. I had Ac4c on the button and I called a medium pre-flop raise to $15. I normally would muck in this situation because $15 is a decent sized bet, but there were 6 callers in front of me (!) so I weighed that getting a flush or straight would net me a big gain off of future bets. The flop came out 8c 7c 5s. I had picked up the nut flush draw and an inside straight draw. I discounted the inside straight draw, because I would have the ass end of it if the 6 came up. I was concentrating more on the flush or hitting my Ace for the high pair. Again, hitting the Ace would probably not win, so I figured myself for 9 outs for clubs. The initial bettor made it $30 into a $90 pot and picked up a re-raise to $100! It was now up to the player to my left who had sat down a few hands ago and shown himself to be an incredible donkey. He was a young Asian kid who was visibly nervous about being at the table. On top of that, he had his fiance/wife/girlfriend, hanging over his shoulder. After 10 minutes of play, she already had to give him another rebuy after he donked off his first $150. He called the $100 and I wasn’t nervous in the least about what he had. He clearly had a draw and an inferior one to mine. BUT, his money in the pot now made it clear that I had the pot odds to make my draw. It was $100 to me with $320 currently in the pot and the initial raiser still to come. I was confident the initial raiser would complete the bet. I put the first raiser on a high pocket pair, the re-raiser on a set of 8’s and the Asian kid on a straight or flush draw. I made the $100 call and the first raiser called. Everyone else got out of the way. There was now $490 in the pot. The turn was disastrous for me, a 7s. The board had paired and I was now SURE that the re-raiser had a full house. The initial raiser checked, the re-raiser moved all in for another $150. The Asian kid called for his remaining $30 or so and I mucked. The initial raiser called for his remaining chips. There was now nearly $700 in the pot with 3 all in players. The river was a blank and everyone showed. I was gratified to see that my reads were all correct except for the re-raiser who had 87 offsuit. He had made his boat (7’s full of 8’s), but not in the way I thought. I figured him for a set of 8’s but he had only flopped two pair. He was leading on the flop, but not as strongly as I thought. The Asian kid showed T9 for the open ended straight draw! What a donkey. The initial bettor showed KK. He had gotten married to his high pocket pair and paid dearly to see the river though he was drawing dead after the turn. Even though I lost a good amount of money, I definitely made the right call given the situation. I needed 9 outs, none of which would help any other players (except for the KK who would pick up a set with Kc and have a river possibility of a boat). The club draw on the turn was about 1 in 5 to hit and I had put $115 into a pot that eventually yielded about $700, far more than 5 to 1. Even assuming that the club had hit and betting slowed down, I can’t imagine that I couldn’t squeeze the extra $100 out of the 3 other players to make my implied odds for my turn call. But it didn’t come. I’ll have more to say about this hand, and making large calls when you have the odds, when I write about it on the discussion forum.

I lost the remainder of my buy-in when my set of 9’s got cracked to a flush and I decided to go have some dinner. When I came back, Darko was up significantly, though Wendy and Matt were down. Sal, playing the 2-5 NL table, was also down. Not the best session. We headed back to the Trop at 11:30 when I sat down to a comfortable 4-8 Limit game. I cleaned up, buying in for $200 and cashing out 2 hours later with $393. All in all not a bad day.

I had coordinate with Darko to get up early so we could be in the 11:15 tourney in the Trop, but he walked in the hotel room at around 6AM and I just knew it wasn’t going to happen. I got up at 10:15 and showered and dressed as quietly as I could so as to not wake up Wendy or John. Matt had left the night before at around 3AM so he could be at work on Tuesday. I entered the $65 buyin tourney and there was a healthy 47 entries with the top 5 paying out. We had 5000 chips to start and I built up a healthy stack of 9500 by the end of the first blind level. On the second blind level, I got a ridiculous run of cards. Pocket Queens two hands in a row, but those didn’t pay off particularly well. Then AK which did pay me off to the tune of 4500 chips when an Ace flopped and my opponent had AQ. Then two rags which I mucked and then pocket Aces in the small blind. Seat 4 had pocket Tens and he raised. The big blind had pocket Kings and he re-raised big. I was smiling on the inside like a cheshire cat when I moved all in with the big stack at the table. I wanted to make it look like I was attempting a steal with AK, but the pocket Tens folded and the Kings called. He looked crushed when I showed my Aces. It held up and I was the chip leader at the tourney after 40 minutes. After that, though, I went card dead and pretty much folded for the next 2 hours. I was able to maintain by chip stack but not increase it. I lost about 6000 chips on a nutty hand which I played nearly perfectly but got outdrawn on. I had AJ in the BB and the button made a raise to about 600 with binds at 100/200. Everyone had folded to him so I figured him for something like Ace-little or suited connectors trying to take down the blinds. I called and the flop was KhQh6c. I checked and he made what I read as a continuation bet of 1400. I thought for sure that the board missed him and he would be scared off by a big re-raise. I did, bumping it up to 4000. Everyone at the table perked up at the big pot developing. I fully expected this guy to fold to my check raise with KQ on the board but he called. Now I was nervous. Was he slow playing a monster? The turn was a 7. Here’s where I made what could be interepreted as a mistake. Instead of betting again, I slowed down. The reason I didn’t bet again is that I would have to commit the rest of my chips and I wasn’t sure about my read since he had called my huge reraise. So I checked the turn and HE checked! Now I was really confused. There were two hearts on the board. Was he on a flush draw. The 3h came on the river and now I was pissed that I might have somehow walked into a draw that he made. I checked and he checked! I showed by hand and he had….Jc7c! Absolutely nothing though he picked up his 3 outer on the turn. He didn’t bet for the same reason I didn’t but he won anyway. How he called my reraise though, I’ll never know. By the time binds got to 500/1000, I needed to make a move. I had AT and re-raised a shorter stack, putting him all in after he had bet 4000 with KJ. He nearly mucked but called for the remainder of his chips and jumped out of his seat when two Kings flopped on the board. I was devestated. I needed to win that to maintain an advantage. Now I REALLY had to make a move. I only had about 8900 in chips when I picked up KhQh on the button for the craziest hand I have ever been involved with in a tourney. The under the gun spot, an older gentleman with a good stack in front of him, made it 5000 to go. At this time, blinds were still 500/1000 with a 300 ante, so there was already 4500 in the pot before the first bet. It folded all around to me and I moved all in. I figure there’s enough in the pot and with antes at 300, I won’t have many more hands to see. Besides KhQh is a good hand! I imagined I would go heads up with the raiser, but the big blind said, “Now I HAVE to call this”, referring to the fact that my raise made him anxious to see a flop. He called and the board was 7s6s3c. There was a flush draw, but nothing else. Both bettors checked. I was all in and anxiously awaiting a King or Queen. An Ace of hearts came on the turn and my heart sank. The odds were now approaching 100% that I was beat. This was confirmed when the big blind, who had said he just HAD to get in the pot, made a reach for his chips and put out a bet. The under the gun player mucked and we showed down. I put up my KQ and the big blind showed….Qc8c. WOW!!! Double WOW!!! The river was a blank and the whole table had to look at it for a full 30 seconds but my King high was the winning hand! The big blind was a proud old man and he defended his play, and I happen to agree with him, when he said that he knew he couldn’t beat the under the gun player. The only chance he had to win that monster pot was to knock out the under the gun guy (which he was able to do for free since I was already all in) and take his chances that I couldn’t beat a Queen high. A greedy move perhaps, since there were only 13 players left, but a win on his part would have been huge whereas a loss was inevitable otherwise. So he gave himself a chance to win. I talked to the under the gun player later at a cash game and he said he also had KQ, so it turns out I would have split the pot. Instead, I more than tripled up and I was now the 4th stack in the tourney. This took me to the final table when I blundered badly. There were 10 of us at the final table and blinds were 1000/2000 with 500 antes. That means there was 8000 in the pot before we even received hole cards! I had about 28000 in chips, slightly more than 10% of the chips in play. I looked down at AdJd in the 4th seat after getting a run of unplayable cards. I raised to 10,000, hoping to take down the pot right there. The big stack at the table, in the 9th seat, put a crimp in my plans by moving all in. He could be on a huge steal or he could have me crushed with AQ or AK or AA or KK or QQ or even JJ. On the other hand, he could have a small pair, depending on the size of his stack to push me off what he might read as AJ or AQ. I had given myself a way to fold by not comitting all my chips. I would still be left with 18,000 and have a decent chance of making money but my greed got the better of me. I figured if I won this, I would have the best chance of winning the tourney. I called and he showed AQ. I was hoping for a 50/50 shot but he had me dominated. I still had some outs, but the Jack never came and he took it down. I had done well in the tourney, but it was only consolation and I didn’t make the money.

I played some 1-2 NL with Sly and I was up $80 again off a $200 buyin when I made a questionable move that resulted in a $170 loss to me. I picked up 88 on the button and raised to $12 after seeing a few limpers. The BB called and a few other people called. The flop was Q62. Everyone checked to me and I bet $20, thinking I could take the pot right there. The BB, a cagey guy who was playing smart, but loose, called. It was now heads up. The turn was a 2. He checked. I figured he would have bet on the turn but I bet $25 to see where I was. He raised to $50. Ok, he check raised me on the 2nd deuce which should have told me he had two pair. Somehow though, since he hadn’t bet on the flop, I didn’t figure him for the Queen. He might have had the deuce, but I didn’t think so. Instead, I put him on A6. He might have put me on AK, AJ, AT, which would make his A6 a monster in this situation. I felt good enough about my 8’s, since I was SURE he didn’t have the Queen, to move all in. He called without hesitation and I was sunk to see him turn over AA. Whoops! I pulled back to even a few hands later, though, when my AQ flopped two pair and I was paid off all the way. Darko, who was sitting at another table, had just gotten Aces cracked by Kings while being all in, and we decided to walk next door to the Hilton to join Wendy and Sly, who had left my table earlier.

The Hilton is a nice room but it’s usually dead. This time, though, there were about 6 tables running although 1-2NL and 2-4 Limit were the only spreads. Wendy, who had been losing all weekend, was happy to be sitting in her favorite room. It didn’t help though, when she started to bleed more money. “It’s not the room,” I told her. She wasn’t impressed. I did okay, ending my Hilton session up $50. I was down about $150 for the two days (not terrible), but I thought I played good poker. I was pretty sure if I had stayed longer I would have cracked someone for a big pot and been up. My favorite hand of my cash sessions was when I had KhQh and flopped 9cTs3c for the up and down straight draw and two overs. I bet at it and got a caller. An Ah turned for the nuts and I bet again. He called. I bet the river and he called. Paid off all the way baby! He mucked and left in disgust. Yummy!

The bus ride back to New York was pleasant and I took a long nap. Back to the grind…