Sunday, July 29, 2007

Is there any justice in this world? Probably not...

I'm down a lot today, about $280. And why? Because I played perfect poker, that's why. My losses today came down to 5 essential hands, of which I will elucidate further.

The day started off nicely. Abbie drove down from her grandmother's to meet me down in Hollywood and try some of the casino's down there. First, we stopped at Dania Jai-alai at about 3PM. There was a freeroll tourney happening and what the hey? Free is Free. Abbie went pretty far, about 14 out of 120, but finally busted out on 2 consecutive hands with a pretty short stack. Winner took all in the freeroll, so it was necessary for her to win her races, which she didn't (a common theme of the day). I held out hope to last longer, but my KK all in was called by A9 and, of course, an Ace flopped. So it was off to the cash tables for us...

I ended up losing a full buyin at the JaiAlai fronton with no special hands to speak of. I was making very good reads, laying down hands that ended up being losers and calculating pot odds nicely for calls that ocassionally paid off. I even made quad 7's against, unfortunately, a small stack. The quad 7's were the high hand of the day when I got them at 4:30pm and if they had held up until 6pm, I would have won the $100 high hand of the day jackpot. That would have been nice, but at 5:40, someone made quad Jacks and I lost the money. Fuckers. I ended up losing my buyin on an unfortunate hand that illustrates an issue with the Florida poker setup. The issue is this; the buyins are capped at $100, so unless you make a few double ups, you end up being pot committed to call on any hand you flop a piece of, especially if there is a decent raise preflop. Case in point. I have AK in early position and I raise to $11, which has become my standard raise. It folds all the way around to the small blind who calls. Heads up, the flop is K74, rainbow. I flop top/top, a recipe for disaster I know, but what else can I do? There's $24 in the pot and I have $70 behind me. I bet out $15 and he min-raises to $30. There's now $69 in the pot. I have two choices. I can lay down the AK if I suspect some fould play, but a crappy player could easily make this same min-raise play with any King in his hand. Maybe it's a probe bet to see where he's at. Maybe he has KQ that he think is good. Hell, maybe he has AK. I put him on a range of hands, including hands that beat me like a set or AA that he might limp call with pre-flop. There's about a 50/50 chance I'm beaten here. So I do the only sensible thing. I push all in. Why is that sensible? Because if I'm ahead, he will probably fold. If he believes he's good, he'll call. But, if he's behind, he might suck out on me so getting him to fold is the best chance I have to win. He calls with AA. Still, I don't think I could have gotten away from it. Does anyone disagree with me?

We leave the Jaialai soon afterwards to have an amazing dinner at the Rustic Inn. I had the crab sampler, which was better than I remember it. Abbie had the marinated Tuna Steak which was fantastically flavorful and tasted a lot like steak. It was great to be on the water and eating seafood. It's what Florida life is all about.

Afterwards, we decided to hit the Greyhound race track to see some dogs race and play some poker. I won about $40 back at the track but the dogs weren't racing. Unfortunately, the track is under construction. The place is pretty ratty too, as far as poker rooms go, so we decided to leave after about two hours. We headed a mile down the road to the horse track, which was redone recently and is absolutely beautiful. No joke, the poker room is one of the greatest I've ever seen. It's huge and the poker tables are recessed into a pit which is surrounded by booths and couches and a bar in the back. The players are pretty loose too, which if I had been able to win even one race, I would have won a lot of money off of.

Here's a recap of the 5 hands that killed me at the horse track:

1. First an easy one. I have 7h8h. The kid to my right, a nice kid who moved down here from Staten Island, raises to 7. I call and we get about 5 other callers too. The flop comes K56 with one heard. It checks all around and the Th comes on the turn. I now have a flush draw to go with my OESD. The kid fires out 10 dollars, which I promptly call along with 2 others. There is now $75 in the pot. A harmless 7 comes on the river. I miss my OESD and my flush draw, but I make a crappy pair. I show the pair of 7's and the kid shows 99 to scoop the pot. If that 9 had fallen, I would have doubled through him, no question. What was everyone else calling with, I wonder?

2. The second hand is a damn shame. I have 85 offsuit which I limp in with on a lark. About a zillion other people limp in and the flop is K76 with two clubs. I have one club, but who cares? An old and aggressive man at the end of the table makes it $10, about half the pot. The kid to my right calls and I call, along with one other. I need a non-club 9 or 4 to hit and I stand to make a lot of money. I'm pretty sure the old man is on a flush draw and someone else might have a King. The 9s comes on the turn (Hallelujah). The old man bets out $25 now and it smells more like a flush draw. The kid folds and I move all in for $56 total. The old man calls and the dealer deals out the Ts. The board is K679T, with no flush possibilities. But instead of turning over his busted flush, the old man turns over 8c4c. He hit the Ten on the river to split the pot with me!!! NOOOO!!! We end up making about $10 each. Woopdedoo.

3. The very next hand, I get AsQs. The old man raises to $12 and I represent a steam raise by popping to $50, which is most of my stack. He smooth calls. The flop comes 235. He checks to me, I move all in for my remaining $34 and he calls with JJ. Naturally, none of my outs materialize and I'm felted.

4. Another tough one. I have AsTs in the SB. Everyone limps and the flop is 689 rainbow. The I check, and the BB bets out 10. I'm ok with folding here, except 3 other people call. I figure I'm good with a 7, T or A, so I call. A 7 pops on the turn. I decide to risk it and slowplay a check. It checks all around, to my amazement and a 7 comes on the river. I bet $15 and the original bettor min-raises to $30. Remembering my min-raise disaster with the AK, I only call when it comes around to me. He flips up 88. I turned the hand to kill him, but he boated up and I lost the minimum possible. It still stung though.

5. Last one. This one is a good one. I have AcQc in late position. An older russian woman, raises to $12 and I call along with 3 others. The flop is 2c 4c 6h. The woman bets $25, it folds to a big rastafarian looking guy who's been playing loose the whole time. He raises all in with $44. I have $72 behind me and I move all in on my 15 outer draw. At least I hope it's 15 outs. The woman calls. The rastafarian flips over 77. The woman flips 99. I *DO* have 15 outs. Any club, Queen or Ace wins the pot. Needless to say, I get nothing, and a $200 plus pot goes to the 99.

I really can't say I played anything here poorly, except maybe the AK. But still, I'm mostly pot committed to call in most of these situations. And lots of times, like with my OESD flush draws, I'm a favorite to win. So I'm not disheartened, just pissed that I couldn't peel off money from these donkeys down here. I guess I feel somewhat depressed...

Did I mention the crabs were great?

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Pompano has poker too, but the fish bite back

Abbie flew in last night and went directly from the airport to the casino in Pompano Beach. What a trooper! I've never been so proud... :-)

The Pompano racetrack (harness horse racing), like all other parimutuels down in Florida, has poker. What's more, they redid the whole complex a few months ago and it's absolutely beautiful. Of course, with all that beauty comes very long waits for tables. I got there early and couldn't get a seat at a no limit table, so I ponied up for a limit game. Along with the regular 1/2 and 2 straight limit games, the new Florida poker laws allow for strange new limits like 3/5. This is the game I played in. I sat tight, which is the right strategy in this game, and ended up even after an hour when Abbie arrived. We had dinner at Myron's deli, which is one of the best New York Jewish delis I've ever eaten in. The pastrami was delicious and just the right size (and only 9.00 for a full sandwich!).

Abbie and I went to the brush desk and tried to get on the list for no limit, but it was huge (about 40 players ahead of us). We put our names down on the 1/2 NL and the 2/5 NL tables, and signed up for the $100 sit'n'go tourney, which seated nearly immediately. I'll make a long story short. Abbie won the tourney. I placed 5th but I really should have cashed. In these turbo tourneys, you have to get lucky on occassion, and I did early on by doubling up when my AJ flopped two pair to beat an AK. But on my last hand, a bully player to my right went all in for 3000 UTG. Blinds were at 300/600 and I had TT. I had 3300 in chips. I had to make a decision here. If he has a larger pocket pair, I'm crushed. If he has AJ or higher, it's a race. I decided to gamble and pushed all in. He ended up showing AT, which was the best I could hope for! But an Ace spiked on the flop and sent me out. The same guy rode all the way into heads up with Abbie, but Abbie absolutely *crushed* him in heads up play. Another win for Wall Street poker!

We played in a $50 sit'n'go as well, but the structure of the tourney was even more oppressive than the $100 tourney. If you didn't double up in the first blind level, you were done. I tried making a move on the button with Jh9h, but I ran into AK who flopped an Ace and I lost 2/3 of my meager stack. I managed to actually survive for a while, but lost when I got AQ. Abbie and I ran over to beg for a spot in the now very full 2/5 NL games and we both ended up playing at the same table. I went card dead and kept making moves into the same guy who kept flopping two pair, so I lost a bit. But Abbie was up a bunch when we finally left at 1AM.

Tomorrow, we're going to play at the JaiAlai fonton AND the Greyhound racing track. I'm looking forward to it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I cast my net in South Florida...and come up with fish

Some unexpected events have occurred here in Sunny (read: Damn Hot) South Florida. First, my flight is supposed to take off at 7PM. I get to the airport in the nick of time, board the flight and discover that rather than taking off at 7, the airline has decided the best course of action would be to keep us on the tarmac until 9PM. I wasn't in the air until 9:15, but once we were airborne, the flight was incredibly quick. I even managed to snag a seat in the comfy exit row because my reading light was broken and I used it as an excuse to take an empty seat. Not that I needed an excuse but I somehow feel guilty moving without 'permission'. I've got to work on that. Chad, the nice young gentlemen sitting next to me, starting chatting about his 14 soujourn from Morocco that he was currently on. Chad is a teacher in South Florida and he travels a lot during the summer months. I let him use my Blackberry to email his girlfriend that he was delayed and we got into a conversation about, what else, poker. He doesn't play, or even bet, but we managed to make a prop bet on when the over/under was going to be on our landing time. I took 12:15AM to be the approx. landing time and we bet $1. He took the under. Bad move on my part because we landed at 11:30pm! I was wayyy off. Still, it's nice to say that I got my mile-high gamble on a little early.

I got my car and headed to my parent's place, putting my head to the pillow at about 1AM. I was definitely excited to start playing some poker. I had originally planned to get up Thursday morning and play golf with my dad, but those plans were scuttled. Instead, I got up late and went out to brunch with my parents and two of their friends. We had a wonderful little brunch of bagels, smoked fish and eggs, capping it off with a nice mid-afternoon nap. It was too hot to be outside (about 97 degrees), so I lounged on the couch for a bit. Then my mother and I went to see my Grandmother for a bit. I got back to the apartment about 5PM and called Wendy to see when she would be coming down. Turns out, she woke up that morning very sick and she wasn't going to make it. Due to the price change for coming down the next day, it was very likely she wasn't going to come down at all! This wouldn't do. I called and begged but to no avail. What's worse, I called Abbie to see if her plans were still solid and now *she* was debating. But after much begging and pleading, it looks like Abbie is going to stick to her original plans. So at least I won't be the only Wall Streeter in attendance.

But for that night, I was on my own. Around 7PM, I got the energy to make the trek over to the Hard Rock and check out how the new No Limit poker laws are affecting traditional South Florida poker. Very nicely, thank you. The law was recently changed in South Florida to allow for No Limit poker with a max buyin of $100. Surprisingly, they are still spreading the old $1/$2, $2/$2 limit games but they've added a very Atlantic City $2/$4 regular limit game. In addition, they are spreading $1/$2 NL, $2/$5 NL and $5/$10 NL!!! All with $100 max buyin!!!! I was very surprised to see the higher limits allowed with the max buyin so low. I glanced at a $5/$10 table, and the big stack at the table was at $1700!!! Naturally, I assumed this to mean that if you dropped below $100, you could make a full buyin of another $100, effectively raising the maximum buyin to $199. But I was assured this was not the case. All rebuys must be capped to $100 maximum at the table. Any money over $100 is money won, not bought. So I can only imagine the all-in fest at the $5/$10 NL table for a guy to have 17 times his buyin at the table. Sick stuff.

I was immediately (no waiting) seated at a 1/2 NL table and bought in for $100, as nearly everyone does. I took about an hour feeling the table out. The table was pretty tight, or so I thought. There was a lot of limping, and when I tried to steal a table full of blinds with a raise to $20, I got caught by someone who ended up flopping trips. What did he call my $20 with? How about K6 offsuit? Yep, it was gonna be one of those night. I was licking my chops. I spent $72 feeling out the table and reloaded back to the maximum and waited. And waited. And waited. I dragged a few small pots but basically sat back. A big stoned spanish kid and his incredibly hot spanish girlfriend sat down and played on opposite ends of the table. He was very loose, showing a big bluff on the first hand. He would regularly commit $50 into a $15 pot and I knew someone was going to crack him sooner or later. His girlfriend played tight (like her body, yes!) and wasn't in more than two hands all night. He, on the other hand, peeled off buyin after buyin. The table exploded in loose chips about 30 minutes later when a very drunk blond woman sat down, glass of wine in her hand. She came in with $100 and called every big bet the spanish kid made. He was usually bluffing at her and she kept winning with bottom pair, Ace high and an ocassional runner runner draw that hit. Soon, she had about $350 in front of her. But it was a matter of time before she peeled it away and she ended up losing half to a guy at the end of the table who flopped a boat. She called off $180 with pocket 4's and didn't seem bummed at all. "That's fine," she slurred. "I don't care anyway." Oh, this was getting good. I looked down at 9To a little while later and limped in with it. Amazingly, no preflop raise from the spanish kid who had slowed down a tad since getting felted by drunk blonde girl twice. The flop came 683, giving me two overs and a gutshot. A tight guy in early position bet $10 into a pot of about $14. Drunk girl called. I knew that if I was able to hit the seven, I might stack one, or both of them, so I called. Four other callers gave me great pot odds. A J came on the turn. Now I had the Open Ender though the turn made a club flush draw. The same tight guy bet out $25. Drunk girl called. It was now $25 into a pot of about $130. I would be getting at least 5:1 on my draw, not including any calers who might be behind me. And if I hit the OESD, I was confident I could get some more bets in on the river. So I called. Two players called behind me. I needed a 7 or a Queen to get paid and the Qc peeled on the river. Granted, it made a runner runner flush draw, but I was hopeful. The spanish kid and the drunk girl both went all in behind me. Normally, I would fold against two all-ins, confident one had the flush. But this time I was sure the spanish kid was bluffing and the drunk girl had something like bottom pair. The tight guy, who started the action, folded in disgust. I moved all in for $14 more and drunk girl put in the $14 for the side action. My straight, needless to say, scooped the whole pot. Hot spanish girl shot her stoned boyfriend a look of disgust. She called my straight before I could. Smart and a tight hot body. Wow.

Action went on like that all night. I scooped two other big pots when my KK in the SB got a $20 preflop raise from drunk girl. I re-raised to $100 and she moved all in for $180. I called, naturally, to see her expected A6o. No Ace came and I was golden. Also, I took down a good pot when my own K6 in the small blind turned trip 6's and got an allin from a guy playing 69. Oh, too bad. My kicker plays.

I was at a height of +295, but ended up staying until 4AM trying to get another big hand and I spent $90 for the privilege. Still, I finished the night up $201, confident that my trip was going to be a big money maker.

During all of this, I was emailing back and forth with Darko trying to convince him to come down for the weekend and take Wendy's place. He said he'd think about it. He was on his way to the Salami Club and needed to win some money for the trip. As the night progressed, he emailed progress reports. The first report was grim. He had 66 and the flop came JJ6. He and another guy ended up putting all their money in. His opponent turned over...JJ. Yeesh, what a cooler. But he reloaded and 45 minuted later came the next progress report:

"I'm up $650!"

Then: "I'm up $900"

Then: "I'm up $1500", "I'm up $2000", "I'm up $2500"

He ended up leaving at 5AM with 2800 in profit, that sick bastard. He's still debating on coming down. True, I can't offer him that kind of action, but we have an ocean. That's something isn't it?

Abbie is flying in later on and I'm going to meet her for poker at Pompano Beach. Can't wait...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Records (and players) were made to be broken

But before we get into that, we'll discuss why I'm getting crushed in the tourneys. Wendy said it perfectly last night; I'm playing too many hands. Granted, those hands are things like AK suited, AQ suited and pocket Jacks. Last night was too much though. When I had my premium hands, I would raise to juice the pot and the flop would miss me completely. When I limped, hoping to catch and trap, the flop missed me completely. When I stabbed at the pot on a bluff, I got re-raised. When I made a read, it was wrong. Basically, nothing worked for me. So I'm on a slide in tourneys. I'm going to shift my strategy though, and dammit and I'm going to get back to the good tourney player I used to be.

Congrats, though, to David, who demolished the second tourney (due in equal parts to skill and a devestating grouping of suckouts). Congrats also to Paul and Eric, new players and friends who chopped the first tourney. Congrats also to Wendy (though she won't admit it), who is playing solid tournament poker and putting another challenge together to win Season 4. She's in second place and she never seems to place less than 5th. Who's going to stop The Hurricane?

Ok, on to the big topic of this post. After the tournaments were over, we had 5 players who wanted to stay for cash, with Darko and John H. coming off the street to fill out a 7 handed table. Play started very aggressively. Even though stakes were $.50/$1, it played much closer to $1/$2. John H., who arrived drunk and proceeded to polish off a 24Oz. bottle of Budweiser while he was playing, set the tone by making consistent button raises of 3X the pot. He got challenged a few times by Wendy and Myself and we would inevitably end up losing.

A typical scenario for me:
AhKc in the SB. Limps all around and John H., on the button, makes it $6 to go. I call along with 2 others. Flop QT7. I bet out $15, get one folder and John H. raises to $50. I fold.

Another hand:
AJ on the buttong. Limps around to John H. who again makes it $6 to go. I call along with one other. Flop is Q74. Check around to me. I bet $10 and everyone folds to John, who calls. Turn is a K. John bets out $20. I call, not putting him on anything. River is a 2. He checks and I bet out $35. He reluctantly calls. What does he have? T4!!! His flopped bottom pair wins.

I'm getting frustrated at this point because John is completely outplaying me and I can't seem to get a read on him. Forget about waiting to get good cards to crack him. Those haven't been coming all night. So I switch gears and try to sit tight. Two hands later, Brian doubles through John. Then Brian doubles Cheryl. And then Wendy. Not all in a row mind you, but Brian is starting to build a very impressive stack. In fact, he's closing in on the record for most profit ($377.50) when he gets engaged in a hand with David. I forget the preflop action (I want to say that Brian raised to $20 on the button and David called), but the flop was 995. David checked and Brian might have bet out a moderate amount. David called. The turn was a 3. David looked at the board and the pot. The pot had about $65-$70 at this point. David must have had about $250 behind him. Brian easily covered that. David said, "All in", leaning back in his chair. Brian insta-called and David's face got a look of pain on it. David flipped up 53 for a crappy two pair, but that would have beaten any Ace high Brian had. But Brian flipped over A9 for flopped trips and the best kicker. He felted David in one shot and broke through the profit record without a glance behind him.

Then it was Cheryl's turn. Cheryl and Brian got into some preflop action and the board flopped JT rag with two hearts. Cheryl and Brian both bet it hard, but when the third rag heart came on the turn, Cheryl pushed all in for about $100. Brian called quickly, turning up QJo. Cheryl had AT with the Ace of Hearts but couldn't improve on the river. It was a stunning call, considering the board had flushed up on the turn and Brian's top pair only had a Queen kicker attached to it. There were dozens of hands Cheryl could have had to beat him. He explained sheepishly that he had thought he had top two pair and was a little embarrassed when he finally showed down. But it was good enough to take down the pot and Cheryl was a bit disappointed that he strong move hadn't worked this time.

In the midst of Brian busting players and building a record stack, John H. was getting progressively sillier. He was very fidgety and went over to my computer to turn up the Itunes volume when a song he liked came on. Then he flopped down in his seat, put on his IPod on full volume and was happily playing air guitar in very broad motions. He seeemed happily drunk but he was making a bit of a spectacle of himself. I kept my feelings to myself because he wasn't disrupting the game too badly and we generally like John. Wendy was babbling about "trying something new" because nothing had been working for her. John commented that maybe she should "try shutting up, because that's something new too". He was smiling and the comment didn't seem to be made maliciously but it put me on my guard. Then he made a comment about someone's mother. Again, it was non-specific and not made maliciously, but I feel, as the host, that it's my duty to try to have everyone enjoy their experience and I can see how a comment like that might be offensive. Darko and I shared a look about it and I felt I had to give a warning. So I did and John protested his innocence. He hadn't meant anything by it and he couldn't believe I could get in his grill about it. We left it at that and kept playing. I didn't want to say anything unless it got out of hand. Then it did. John flicked a $.25 piece over to Wendy, trying to knock down her stack. But he missed badly and the chip went airborne. It flew over the rail and hit the back wall of the living room, rolling behind the couch with a loud crunch. That put me over the edge. I admonished John more harshly this time, letting him know that this wasn't a "fucking card room" but the place where I lived. I was hoping to give the impression that he should treat the players, and my property, with more respect. Fortunately, I don't have to tell anyone else this message because it's self-evident, but something wasn't getting through. A few minutes later, with a stack of about $160, John H. pushed in what might or might not have been a bluff against Darko. Darko called and John just mucked his hand and angrily walked out of the apartment. We called out to him that he outchipped Darko and still had quite a bit of money on the table, but he muttered for us to keep it and let the door slam on his way out.

It's unfortunate that we had to have this experience because I've never had to ban a player yet from our table. I don't mind drinking at the table but I *do* mind rudeness and belligerence. Rule 1 at Wall Street Poker is that this is a fun league. No one is here to win rent money and no one is going to win/lose in amounts that are life changing. We pride ourselves on educating each other so that we can all improve our play and we're friendly because there's no reason to be anything other. We've been fortunate enough to recruit player after player who have been wonderful in all these regards. They're nice, gracious and damn good players. I'm sure that we will continue in this tradition and I apologize to anyone who might have been hurt at all by this incident. I'm a very accomodating person, by nature, so if anyone has any complaints about any part of the game and how the league is setup or the persons within it, please bring it to my attention privately and I'll try to work on a solution that benefits everyone.

Ok, having said that, back to the poker...

It was about 2AM and Brian made a good suggestion. How about we play H.O.R.S.E? We only had 4 players for it, but the decision was made to go ahead with it for the sake of education. We would do two rounds each of each of the games (it turned into 3 rounds by the end of the night). Wendy and I were sitting on short stacks while Darko had about $300 and Brian had a ridiculous amount (to be divulged at the end of this post). Well, my limit skills seem intact, because I was able to build $80 into $226 in 2 hours playing $1/$2 limit! It was fun playing the different games, though it takes some getting used to. Plus, we're not completely familiar with all the betting rules, but we made it up as we went along. Brian and Wendy were busy making side prop bets on the color of the Hold'Em flops and we were all trying to figure out how play Stud Eight! Fun stuff. The night broke up at 4AM(!) and I fell asleep instantly afterwards, exhausted and frustrated and content and nervous and happy. An eventful night.

So for those who want to know, Brian DEMOLISHED the cash profit record by more than doubling it! The previous record ot $377.50 is now at (are you ready for this?) $766!!!! At a, excuse my french, FUCKING SHORT-HANDED $.50/$1 Game!!!!!!!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Mr. Saturday Night Special

I had every intention of having a really memorable Saturday. I was going to wake up before 10, trek out to Flushing, shoot indoor Archery at a range there, eat authentic Vietnamese food, and maybe even catch the Mets game (if they were playing at Shea, that is). But, of course, none of that happened. Since I had been at the Good Look club until 2:30a the night before, and I hadn't gone to sleep until 4:30, my body decided that Saturday morning would be a great time to catch up on all that sleep I had been missing all week! What great timing! So, yes, I got up at 1:30p. You wanna make something of it?!?

So I puttered around the house for a bit until I started to feel hungry. Famished actually. And I thought that some soup dumplings from Chinatown would go down really nicely. I called all the usual suspects to round up a dinner crew, but alas, everyone was doing something else. Either they were in another city, or they had already eaten, or they didn't pick up their phones! So I tucked my Saturday New York Times under my arm, walked to Water Street and hailed a cab. The cab dropped me off at the corner of Bowery and Pell street, where lives a curious little shop called Joe's Shanghai. Normally, in Chinatown, I go to a great little place called Shanghai Cafe, which is bright and has neon and some of the best soup dumplings I've ever eaten. But Joe's Shanghai was written up in Zagat's as being 'phenomenal' so I decided to give it a shot. When I walked to the storefront, I got a quick lesson in the power of Zagat's. Shanghai Cafe, which is not listed in Zagat's, never has a wait for a table. Joe's Shanghai, on the other hand, had a mob of people waiting outside for their number to be called. What's more, they looked to be in two camps. One group were local asian families. Another was midwestern looking tourists, complete with maps, cameras and a fresh copy of Zagat. What else? I put my name on the list for a table for one and she told me it would be 10 minutes for a table. I was confused. 10 minutes? That's it? Joe's is a small place, perhaps 14 tables, so how could they give me a table for 2 in only 10 minutes. Especially when she told the couple behind me that it would be 30 minutes?!? I got my answer when she called me AND a family of 7, to be seated at a table for 8! AHA! Chinese efficiency at it's finest. My particular dinner mates were a very pleasant, but somewhat uncultured, family from Maryland. I say uncultured because I find it shocking that you would go to Chinatown to find authentic Shanghai food and then order Sesame Chicken. Nevetheless, I had a ball instructing them how to eat their soup dumpling and which sites to see during their stay here. I told them to go to Ferara's Cafe for desert after dinner, to catch Midsummer's Night Swing at Lincoln Center and to make sure they took a stroll through Central Park on Sunday Morning for brunch at the Boathouse. I was probably aiming a little high. Still, my dinner was great. I had an order of soup dumplings and the Salt and Pepper pork chops. Both were great, but given that I couldn't sit alone quietly and read my paper (my original plan), I don't know if I would go back to Joe's alone again. The food was great, and the service was snappy, but I like solitude if I'm going to be eating alone. Not that I didn't enjoy my Maryland family. By the way, they wolfed down their food like they had a train to catch and they were done eating before I was. In fact, they paid there check and left me sitting there only halfway through my meal. In the meantime, ANOTHER family of 7 was seated at my table. They looked throughly confused at my presence but I quickly caught them up to Joe's ingenous seating scheme. They were still confused, though to be fair they were from Florida and this is how most Floridians look.

I was going to stroll a bit in Little Italy after dinner, but it was crowded so I cabbed it home. I was home about an hour or so when I got the call from Darko. "You up for Salami tonight"? Sure, why not? So we met up at 10p and flagged down a taxi for some vicious 2/5 NL action, Manhattan style. But when we got there, Ricardo was nowhere to be found (he's on 'vacation') and there was only one table going, with a waitlist. We got up to 4 on the waitlist and we only needed 2 more for me to feel comfortable opening up a new table, but then one guy got impatient and left. John and I looked at each other and were thinking the same thing. Good Look. So we made our apologies and caught another cab uptown.

When we arrived, the club was strangley empty, for Good Look standards. There were about 60 players there with 4 1-2 tables, a 10/20 limit table and a 2/5 table going. We got seated right away and it was rough going for me. I saw crap cards for hours at a stretch, and when I did raise pre-flop with AQ suited and the like, the flop would invariably come out with absolutely nothing. John, on the other hand, was getting paid off left and right. In 3 hours, he built up his 160 buyin to about 700. I was treading water all night, never able to pull in a profit. Finally, I lost $80 when my AT hit top pair against a large stack's flopped two pair. He boated up on the turn and the board four flushed on the river. He coyly checked the turn and river and was peeved when I didn't call. Uh, Duh! I only had one pair and no heart on a paired and flushed board. Sorry to bother you. So I was down to $45 at one point when I made a valiant comeback. I double up when my AQ caught a Queen on the flop. A guy with a flush draw called me down (he had to for such little money) and he didn't catch. Then I got into another AQ situation when I went all in preflop against one heavy raise. I got two callers. The flop was garbage and one guy bet about a pot bet. The other guy flashed AQ and folded. I figured I must be beat and turned over my own AQ. The raiser, turned over his AQ and we chopped two ways! 3 AQ's in the same hand, it was nuts. So I was still alive when I got Ac-Ks. I raised preflop to $15 and got 5 callers. The flop was As Ts 4s. I had top pair, top kicker and the top flush draw. I bet it out, about $25. The player to my left raised and I went all in. He called with Ah Qs. He called out for a spade when I pointed out that I had the better spade and he saw how crushed he was. The Kc came on the turn to lock it up for me. At this point, I was up by $13 and Darko was up about $550. I asked if we should leave since I had gotten back to even and he was up quite a bit and it was 4:30 in the morning. But no, he wanted to crack this table. To his point, it was a very crackable table. There were a few players, including a guy with a cigarette in his mouth (Sammy Farha style) who we took to calling Cancer Man, who were bound to get stacked soon. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the cards to make it happen. I gave up $100 soon afterwards when I made runner runner King flush and paid off a value bet from a guy who made runner runner Ace flush. John went on a long slide, paying off folks with the second or third nuts until he was down to only $100 in profit. Still good, but a long way from where he was. It was closing in on 7:00a and we were both tired. Finally, we called for our courtesy hands, which turned out to be 3 hands actually. On my very last hand, with $120 in my stack, I picked up JJ one off from the cutoff. I raised to $15 when it got to me and the flop was 378 rainbow. There was about $75 in the pot and I had about $100 behind me. one guy led out the betting with $25 and it folded to me. I moved all in and he called with 56 for the OESD. It didn't hit and I built up my stack to $272, which was only $13 down from where I started. We left with me feeling fortunate to have gotten away so cheaply after being dealt shit all night.

We walked down to the Hollywood Diner and had a very very late night breakfast and called it a night. I was in bed at 9 and woke up at 1 to spend the day with my friend Lisl. We went walking through the West Village, checking out some of the local architecture and generally catching up. On West 10th Street, we ran into the cutest little bookstore specializing in out of print and antique cookbooks. It was called Bonnie Slotnick Cookbooks and the proprietor, Bonnie, has a show on NPR where she talks about cooking. Highly recommended as a slice of Old New York, if you're into that sort of thing. I picked up an old cookbook about coffee as a gift for my sister-in-law. We ate dinner at a dreadful Thai place on 7th Avenue and ended up at Barnes and Noble at 68th street, browsing the wares. I picked up a copy of the first (not the latest) Harry Potter book. Yes, I've broken down. The peer pressure has become too much for me.

I'm looking forward to playing tonight and tomorrow at the Wall Street game and for my sojourn to Florida. It should be fun. Abbie and Wendy wil be along, so expect some good blogging about it in the future!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Return to the Good Look club

The Good Look club re-opened recently. Same spot, same employees, same players, different tables and chips. The vice squad (don't you have any crack dens to bust up?) confiscated all the old chips and tables. But the new tables are functional and the new chips are just as nice as the old ones. They're ceramic, allowing for full face printing, which I assume will cut down greatly on the counterfeiting.

I didn't start the night off wanting to go to Good Look, I just ended up there. There was no cash game last night after the tourneys because of lukewarm demand, so John H. asked if anyone wanted to take him to one of the clubs. I know he can't handle Salami, so Good Look seemed a good alternative (the only alternative!). So off we went into the night. When we got there, everything was just as I remembered it. Except now there's even more security. In addition to a guy posted at the door, there are two lookout men downstairs at the entrance. But I was nonplussed about the whole thing. In we went and into a seat I plopped. While the club had plenty of players, I was was put onto a short handed table of 7 players. That table broke up after 30 minutes when two guys busted and decided not to reload. So I went to another 7 handed table. That one dwindled down quickly until I was finally playing 4 handed! It busted up soon afterwards and I went home after 2 hours.

So how'd I do? Just fine. I cashed ouu up $63 dollars. Not a lot, but I only bought in for $160. I was up $150 at one point but I went on a slide until I was actually down $80! I tripled up towards the end of the night playing Js3s on the button. It was a four handed table at this point, so playing junk didn't seem too bad. When a woman, who was playing her boyfriends chips, raised to 10 with the option, everyone called. The flop came down K73, with one spade. I made my bottom pair and I had draws. The woman perked up on the flop and bet out $15. I was almost sure she had AK (she confirmed my read later on) and everyone called her. I figured if I could improve on the next card, I could take down a good chunk of her chips. The next card was 5s, giving me a flush draw. She bet out $15 again (bad move lady) and the big stack at the table called. I called too, hoping to make my flush. The river wasn't a spade, but it was a 3, giving me trip threes. The lady bet $15 again, the big stack called and I went all in for $36 more on top. The lady looked at me and started to get worried a bit. But I had shown a bluff attempt before and she remembered that. "I think you're blufifng," she said. "I call". Music to my ears. Then, the big stack moved all in for $700! The woman only had about $60 behind her, but his move made me twinge. He had been running hot all night. Had he flopped a set and boated up? The woman squirmed but finally folded. He said, "I've got an 8 kicker" and he turned up 83o. My Jack kicker played and I scooped a $225+ pot! W00t!

The table broke up shortly afterward and I went home. A nice and casual return to the underground scene. I'll be back, you pirates!!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

A recent conversation...

A true email thread. A little backgroud on this; David R. and I have been invited to the wedding of my band's drummer. David is his fraternity brother from college (which is, coincidentally, my fraternity as well, though I went to a different school). The wedding is in Philadelphia.

Jamie: How are you getting to the wedding? Is there any chance I can tag along?

David: I am in the wedding so I have to be down there Friday night. I can definitely give you a lift back to the city on Sunday. I know others who are going on Saturday, don't know yet how they are getting down, some of them I assume will drive. I'll find you a ride.

Jamie: Much appreciated either way. I might not go back Sunday night though. I'm thinking of taking a Sunday afternoon train to Atlantic City and spending the night there, coming back on a bus Monday night. What the hell, right?

David: You may already have this, but just in case you don't I suggest you put it in your phone:
Gamblers Anonymous
NATIONAL HOTLINE 888-GA-HELPS (888-424-3577)

Um, that hurts dude. I especially liked that you typed out all the numbers for me in addition to the letters. So just in case I'm in a gambling induced haze, I can make the call and get talked down.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

If rain is G-d peeing…

…then he must have taken a diuretic. Are you kidding me with this monsoon out there? I walked to work this morning with the biggest and sturdiest umbrella on the market and there was rain coming THROUGH THE TOP! One good thing I will say is that there’s no wind with this rain, but that doesn’t help my pants and ankles which are soaked through and through. As we speak, I’ve taken off my shoes and socks and left them near my cube to dry out. It’s oddly freeing to be able to wiggle your toes on the carpet. Too bad I can’t do it with my pants though… L

Last night’s poker game had me doing a self examination. I looked at my head and I noticed something. Long furry ears sprouting from the sides of my head. Very long, very furry. I touched them. Could it be? Yes! I had officially turned into a donkey!

The first tourney, I busted out 8th out of 11. I wasn’t too worried about that. I gave up most of my chips early on when I limped with pocket 10’s and pushed hard when QQ4 came on the flop. Wendy called a huge reraise from me and then pushed all in on the turn, so I had to give it up. She was the BB, mind you, and specifically said how much she didn’t like her cards when she declined the option, so I can only imagine she had a weak Queen.

The second tourney, however, was where I was going to redeem myself. It started out on a sick run. I busted a player early on when my AK won a race against 99. A good omen. Then I flopped top set against Wendy’s TPTK, and she gave me 2/3 of her chips. A few hands later, it folded all the way around to the small blind who completed. I was in the BB and raised to 350 with ATo. Brian, in the small blind, called and the flop was 442. He checked. I fired out 400. He called. The turn was a Ten. I had paired my card and I fired out 650. He called. I started to freak inside. The river was a miracle Ten. I had the second nuts now and it must have been well hidden since I had been laying shells on each street. I took the initiative to fire 1100 and Brian made a crying call, eventually showing a single deuce when he mucked. He won’t say what he had, but I think it was 22. What else would make him call every street like that? Someone mentioned A2, thinking he may have called the river because he though his Ace kicker was good. Possibly, but that doesn’t explain the turn call. Anywho…I had a huge stack now and I was the chip leader in good position. Then it happened. I turned into a complete moron. I was UTG with AhTh when I limped with blinds at 100/200. It folded around to Jordan on the button, who raised to 600. This seemed like a reasonable steal attempt, something I’ve seen Jordan do many times on the button. So when it folded around to me, I re-raised to 1800, trying to take advantage of my stack size and the image of my UTG limp. Jordan is too smart a player not to realize what a limp UTG followed by a reraise meant. Which is why I must have gone temporarily insane when Jordan pushed all in for 4900 more, and I called!! He flipped QQ and doubled through me even though I flopped the nut flush draw. Going from first to worst in one hand, I got 88 on the button three hands later. Linette, a new and aggressive player, moved all in UTG+1 and I figured it would be a race so I called. Then, Wendy, in the SB *ALSO* moved all in. Uh-oh. Wendy had QQ, Linette had JJ and my 88 was looking just as bad as it should. Nobody got any cards that helped and Wendy tripled up, simultaneously knocking me out. Linette outchipped us all and lived on.

For the record, Wendy ended up winning that tourney, with Linette placing third. Linette also won the first tourney, which is exactly how we reel ‘em in at the Wall Street Poker League. Good job dumping your chips to her, guys! Next time, how about some consideration for the host… :-)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lots to report…

Since my last blog entry, we’ve had 2 tourneys, followed by a cash game, and two nights devoted exclusively to cash. In addition, we’ve had a lovely new player join our group. It’s been exciting on multiple levels.

The first big thing to report is that the Good Look club is re-opened! We've gotten independent confirmation from Cheryl, who actually played there a few days ago, that the good look club is back up and running in it's original location. I'll provide a first hand scouting report as soon as possible.

The next big thing I need to report is that I’m finally stacking players with my big hands. Yes, I’ve gotten lucky recently in getting some big hands, but I’ve been betting properly in getting paid off on them and it’s been a good confidence booster. The big one recently that comes to mind was when I stacked Kevin at the cash game last Wed.. I had AJo in early position and called a moderate pre-flop raise from John H., who had been drinking and making good size raises all night. Kevin, as well as two other players, called. The flop was AJ8, all hearts. I flopped top two, but it’s not a monster with that big heart draw on board. Kevin bet out at the pot, maybe $12, and I called, along with John H.. The turn came a wonderfully beautiful As. I was no longer worried about the flush draw. Now I was just worried about how to get paid off on this. John bet out $15 into the pot and Kevin promptly raised to $40. I worked it out in my mind and a few possibilities came through. Either he had the case Ace in his hand or he flopped the flush. I smooth called the $40, hoping to represent that I was on a flush draw as well. John folded to the heavy action. The river was a fantastic 5h. I now had the absolute nuts and there were 4 hearts on the board, making a Kh a pretty good hand. Kevin checked to me and I carved out a value bet. In retrospect, it was low, but I put in $25 and waited for Kevin to act. He reacted with incredulity. He flashed his cards at everyone else at the table and asked out loud, “How can I fold this”? John said he would give Kevin *his* chips to bet. I was somewhat amused, knowing I had the lock on this hand, but I wondered what was so good, and yet on the cusp, that he would even contemplate folding. Then he tried to get a read off of me. “There’s only three hands that beat me,” he said. “Should I just call, or go all in”. Finally, after a minute of agonizing, he said the magic words. “All in”. I confirmed with him, “you said ‘all in’”? He said yes and then I showed him the bad news. What did he have? How about JJ? Wow. He flops the middle set with the case Jack and then the Ace slots on the turn. Yeesh, what a cooler.

In previous months, I would have been on the other end of this hand, so it felt good.

Other hands in the past week that I’ve benefited from:

1. I took $50 off Nuveen when I played 36c for a small raise and flopped A24. A 5 turned to give me the nuts and Nuveen paid me off with his set of 4’s.

2. I stacked Ross H. when I flopped a straight with 56o and the board of 347 rainbow. He bet ten on the flop, about a pot bet, and I raised to $30. He smooth called, which gave me a good indication he had flopped a monster. He either had AA, KK, 77, 44 or 33 in his hand to smooth call such a large raise. The board was the Th, and he checked to me. Trusting my read that he was attempting to trap me, I moved all in for almost twice the pot, which put Ross all in. He insta-called and proudly flipped over 77 for flopped top set. He wasn’t happy at all to see my flopped straight. I sweated the river, since he still had 10 outs, but it was the 9c and I dragged down a huge pot.

In other news, I was happy that my absolute last minute Wed. cash game invitation was happily met by 8 players. I gave an hours notice and was able to get a decent game going. Even more happily, yesterday’s Sunday game was a spectacular success with a full 11 players playing .50/1 no limit cash. Mary was the big winner with $305 profit, but I did very nicely with $276 profit as well. Scott St. G. continues to be a monster at cash, profiting about $170. For someone who feared the cash game as recently as two months ago, he has conquered his phobias quite nicely. When will he come down with us to the $1/$2 game at AC? Time will tell…

One last thing. Wall Street records are made to be broken and John H.’s recent cashout on Friday night of ~$550 is a new Wall Street record for money taken off the table. However, since he bought in for $220, his impressive profit total of ~$330 is *not* the record. That particular high water mark was set by myself, our distinguished host (ha), on November 3, 2006 for a profit of $377.50. Curiously enough, that day, until very recently, was the producer of the top two marks in cash game production. The current top ten performances at a cash game at the Wall Street game belong to:


Jamie W
$ 100.00
$ 477.50
$ 377.50

John H
$ 220.00
$ 550.75
$ 330.75

Mary DeM
$ 100.00
$ 405.00
$ 305.00

Wendy R
$ 100.00
$ 404.50
$ 304.50

Wendy R
$ 150.00
$ 446.00
$ 296.00

David R
$ 50.00
$ 340.50
$ 290.50

Michael B
$ 100.00
$ 379.75
$ 279.75

Jamie W
$ 75.00
$ 351.75
$ 276.75

Karol S
$ 200.00
$ 471.25
$ 271.25

Adam B
$ 100.00
$ 367.00
$ 267.00

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Season 4 rocks my poker world

We had a great turnout for Season 4 last night. Even though Tae and Sean dropped out at the last minute (with a heartfelt apology from Tae), and one of our new players, Brian, failed to show at the last second, we still managed to field 10 players for the first tourney and 11 for the 2nd! Well, actually, Krishnan played in the first tourney, busted out first and then proceeded to pay to play Brian’s empty stack! He even made the money in that tourney!!! Not that he *made* money mind you, just that he got into the money. J

My luck was not running so well though. In the very first hand, I got KQo in early position. I limped in to the pot and John, a new player to our game, made it 200 to go on the button. I didn’t know a thing about him, but I could hardly give up paint/paint without seeing a flop. So I made the call and we went heads up. The flop came AJ rag and I bet checked, hoping to re-raise his continuation bet and represent the Ace. He bet 250 and I immediately re-raised to 800. Being a new player, I thought his uncomfortableness with his surroundings might give me the edge and make him fold, but he re-raised me for 1000 more on top, leaving him with next to no chips. If he bluffed me, it was ballsy and brilliant but there was no way I could call, so I mucked.

I had to tighten up after that and I managed to drag a few pots and put myself at about 1400 chips when I picked up AQo on the button. When it got around to me, everyone had limped or folded and I raised to 600. It folded all around until it got to Paul, who called in the cutoff. Going into the flop heads up, I picked up my remaining chips and poised them over the table as if to say I was going to call anything he did. It worked too, because the flop came 332 and Paul pushed all in. I promptly called and turn over my AQ. Paul didn’t want to show, clearly behind and the rest of the cards ran. A 6 came on the turn and an 8 on the river. Paul peeked at his hole cards and turned over 89o. Mofo!!

My perfect plays didn’t help me at all tonight…

In the second tourney, I vowed to do much better. After taking a few small pots early on, I managed to bust out Nuveen, another new player, when I raised pre-flop with 99 and got called by KQ. The flop came JTrag and I checked. Nuveen overbet all in and I read him with an A-middle. I made the call and discovered I was right, but I was wrong. He had monster draws with the two overs and an OESD, but the turn and river were harmless and I picked up a very nice pot. With actual chips now, I was able to call a small pre-flop raise from Paul with 88. The pot was 3-way and the flop came 832. This time, Paul moved all in again and I was able to bust his QQ. Sweet justice. There were 7 players left and I was in a very healthy second place. Jordan was in 1st with a monster stack and everyone else was just skimming along. Then it happened. I picked up two red Kings UTG with blinds at 200/400. Jordan had been very liberal in the use of his big stack and I was hoping to get paid off big, so I limped in. Sure enough, it folded to Jordan who raised to 800. It folded around to me and I tried to pretend like I was stealing when I re-popped him to 2000 more. He stared me down and made the call. The flop was very good for me: Qh Jc 5c. I was very much hoping he hit that but I had to get more cash out of him even if he was playing something more marginal. I was first to act with about 3500 in chips left behind me. If I moved all in, he might be tempted to fold. At least that was my thinking. So I decided that 1500 was the right number to bet. The pot was over 6000, so a ¼ pot bet was practically taunting him to call. Too small to fold, too big to ignore. It was the perfect number as it turned out, since he put me (he says later) on AK and moved all in. I promptly called and he turn over two black 7’s for a hugely dominated hand. But God was laughing at my feeble plans because Wendy put two running clubs on board, which gave Jordan the club flush! 1 in 8 was his chances of winning and he happened to be the only guy to have me outchipped. So he added a monster lead to his already dominant position and I had to console myself with my huge pile of Sklansky dollars.

The night ended at 1AM as everyone left and Wendy and I played about an hour of Backgammon. Once again, I trounced her and sent her off into the night muttering about my lucky rolls. If only she played poker like she plays Backgammon…