Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Doughy goodness

When I said Abbie was going to get back at me for my bluff, I didn’t think it would be the very next time I saw her! The good news is that she brought cookies. Cookies make everything better in poker. They soothe my soul and mend my mistakes. (That total bitch!). ;-)

So we had two tourneys last night. It was a last minute invite, on Monday no less, and attendance was anemic. In addition to one no-show, very few of the regular crew showed up. But it was a spirited game regardless. We had 6 for the first game and 8 for the second. And for the first time in recent memory, I didn’t have to give up my seat for another player! Of course, it might have been better if I did….

The night started with a bang for me. The very first hand of the tourney, I get AA. I’m in the BB no less and I’m delighted when it folds all the way to the small blind and he raises to 200. W00t! I call and the flop is a wonderfully disjointed K62 rainbow. He leads out for 250, which I call. The turn is another brick. He leads out again for 400. I come over the top for 1000 more. I figure this will shut it down, but he calls! Now I know I’m good. If he’d made two pair, this particular player would have moved all in. So when the river is another rag, and he checks to me, I shove all in. First hand baby! He hems and haws but finally makes the call for all his chips. He has KJ, for top pair. I show my bullets and double up. Not a bad way to start, right? In addition, we’re now down to 5, having started short handed with 6. This puts me in a good position to cash I would say. Abbie busts someone when the flop of 844 hits her A4 and his Q8. Jesse busts someone else and we’re now playing for bubble. It’s slow going for a while and finally the action cracks. Jesse tangles with Abbie for 80% of his chips and loses to her turned boat (He had trips with an Ace kicker). Now all I have to do is outlast the very very small stack. He pushes all in about 5 times over the next 20 hands and wins every one of them because Abbie and I can’t catch cards to fight with. In fact, Abbie’s exact quote was “It’s not my job”. Finally, Abbie and I limp into a pot and my A6 hits a flop of 662. Yay! I want a big pot here though, since I’d like a little more cushion. The flop goes check-check. The turn is a 3 and it goes check check again. The river is a 4. Abbie leads out for 300 into the 400 pot. I’ve shown weakness the whole way. My guess is that Abbie has a 4 and is stabbing. I come over the top for 1000 straight. She moves all in! (Here comes the big donkey call) Instead of laying down and maintaining a 2.5-1 chip lead over Jesse and a chance of cashing, I put Abbie on a bluff or a weaker 6 she was slowplaying. Never mind that there’s no reason for her to do that as the big stack. I call and she shows the inevitable K5 for the runner runner straight. Lordie Lordie Lordie. I wanted her to catch up, not overtake me! So I bubbled like an idiot. No money, no nothing. Jesse busted out soon afterwards and Abbie was grinning like a Cheshire cat (rightfully so).

W and Art showed up for the second tourney where I made an even bigger donkey play. I had 22 in EP and I was able to limp into a pot. The flop was K63. It checked all the way around to Abbie who bet a goodly amount (maybe 350) on the button. She only had 950 behind her. Once again, I misread her for stabbing at the pot in position. So I put her all in, with bottom pair!!! She could only call if she has top pair and a good kicker, right? And I know she doesn’t have that, right? Right? RIGHT?!?! She threw her hands up in frustration and called. She had KQ. Ohmigod. Where did my lengendary reading skills go? Like Keyser Soze, *Poof* and it’s gone. I still had half my stack when I got QJ. I made a small raise, and only Art called. The flop was Q67. I bet 2/5 of my remaining stack. The purpose here is to get Art to come over the top or fold, but he just called. The turn was an 8. I shoved and he insta-called. He had….wait for it….T9. Wow. He called a preflop bet with T9 suited. Ok, I understand that. But then he called again with a gutshot and an overcard on board. Meaning he had 4 fucking outs!

I went into life tilt after that until Abbie’s delicious crispy chocolate chip cookies soothed my soul. Cookies make everything good again. Now I’m off to find this mistress of poker and make nice.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Four Things (Let's meme it out, bitch)

Four jobs I've held:
1. Software developer
2. Archery Instructor
3. Video Store clerk
4. Wedding Photographer

Four films I can watch over and over:
1. The Godfather
2. Blade Runner
3. Young Frankenstein
4. Inherit the Wind (The 1960 version with Spencer Tracey)

Four TV shows I watch:
1. Entourage
2. Real Time with Bill Maher
3. High Stakes Poker
4. Friday Night Lights

Four places I've lived:
1. Wall Street, Manhattan
2. Whitestone, Queens
3. Randolph, New Jersey
4. Woodmere, Long Island

Four of my favorite foods:
1. Chunky peanut butter
2. Yellow tail sushi
3. Rare Peter Luger's steak for two
4. Fresh brook trout

Four websites I visit daily:
1. CNN.com
2. Weather.com
3. Wallstreetpoker.blogspot.com
4. Slashdot.org

Four favorite colors:
1. Forest Green
2. Royal Blue
3. Deep Purple
4. Jet Glossy Black

Four place I'd like to be right now:
1. Venice, Italy
2. Cordoba, Spain
3. Las Vegas, Nevada
4. In bed with Natalie Portman

Four names I like but I wouldn't name my kids:
1. Arthur
2. Eliza
3. Thor
4. Conan

Four favorite books:
1. Contact by Carl Sagan
2. The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss
3. A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
4. Code Complete by Stephen McConnell

Ok, maybe "hate" is a strong word

I played in a home game this afternoon with Abbie and Darko. A very nice group of people and some interesting hands played make a good afternoon, even if it did end a bit early for my tastes.

The buyins were small, only $50 max and .50/1 blinds, but the action was big for the stakes. $30 pots weren't that uncommon. After crushing the first two hands I was dealt with AQ and AA, I sorta went card dead for a while. Since I had this tiny little stack to deal with, and the game was playing larger than the stack sizes dictated, I started playing a lot of silly hands (unsuited small one gappers, anyone?) and consequently donked off all of my chips. I quickly reloaded and managed to get paid off nicely when my 68 in the small blind flopped a straight against an overpair. But when he bet out on the turn, and I came over the top, he was good enough to fold and not pay me off by pushing all in. Good move on his part. I took down a $45 dollar pot when my 55 flopped a set with a board of 456. It was a scary board because there was some betting involved between two players. The turn 6 only protects me against a straight but it kills me if anyone had 64 or 65. But it's so short stacked at the table, you can't worry about it. So when I bet $17 on the turn, and both players called, it was a good sign to at least get money in the pot. On the river, I pushed all in and got Abbie to call. My boat was good. Yay poker!

I managed to make back both my buyins plus $30 profit at my best. Close to the end of the afternoon, I had 67 suited and I came in for a limp, along with 4 others. The flop was 26J. It checked all around and the turn was a 3. That seemed like a harmless card and I thought my middle pair might be good here. I was hoping it was one of those situations where no one would defend their turf, so I decided to bet out $6 to take down the pot. Abbie came over the top to $20 on me. She was on the button in position, and I know she's capable of making a move there, but it seemed almost mean to be bluffing. As I read the board more carefully, it became clear she had two pair involving the 2. J2 didn't make sense to me. First, I doubt she'd limp on the button with such a disjointed hand. 62 didn't make sense either for much the same reason. That left 23. This hand made all the sense in the world. They're connectors, probably suited, and she checked the flop. Wouldn't you with bottom pair, bottom kicker? But when the three turned, she all of a sudden felt good about her two pair. This also made her vulnerable though with bottom two, and I tried to capitalize. It folded to me and I tried a bit of Hollywood. "What do you have? Two pair? Will you show me one? C'mon, just show one? You have it, right?" It went on like that for about a minute, annoying the other players. Sorry guys, it's all part of the act (stolen from Darko. Thanks Darko!). Abbie was a stone. She wouldn't give up anything. Then I made my move. I raised $30 more. The key to No Limit poker, to paraphrase Doyle Brunson, is to put a player to a tough decision for a lot more money than they'd be comfortable with. I knew that Abbie wouldn't be comfortable with my raise given that she probably had the bottom two pair I'd read her for. Sure enough, she started squirming and I applied more psychological pressure. "Your hand doesn't seem so good now, huh?" She asked to see a card. I knew she would possibly put me on a semi-bluff with two overcards and I thought if I showed her my lone card that paired the board, she would start to come to the conclusion that I might have a better two pair or a set. So I showed her my 6 and just left it out there, staring her in the face. She started talking to herself, "62, 63, J6, a set. I can't beat any of those. I have a good hand but there's too much that can beat me." Finally, to my relief, she folded and I mucked the cards.

At first, I told her that it was a good laydown, that I'd had J6. But later, I told her and Darko the truth of the matter. Far from being angry, she complimented me on the play and I felt happy about that. One of the great things about Wall Street Poker is that we are genuinely interested in playing good poker and, more importantly, helping each other to succeed. Most of us have realized that it does no good to canibalize off of the Wall Street Crew (Pirahnahs don't eat their own) because there are plenty of fish in the sea (pun intended). So the best way to get better is to analyze each other's plays and be honest with our criticism and our praise. I made a good bluff against Abbie and it worked, this time. Next time, she will clean me out of house and home.
And I will worship her for it.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Poker hates me

We had a tourney and a cash game tonight. I played well in both, at least when I was playing. The tourney was very solid on my part. I took down some really nice pots, bet aggressively with all sorts of hands and played very well, in general. W was pretty short stacked when it got to the bubble, so when she got all her money in with 9T and LJ called her with J9, I was pretty excited about the prospect of cashing. But, as my luck would have it, a 9 flopped, the board paired on the turn, and the river was a King, giving a chopped pot. W went on to place 3rd and I was the bubble when I pushed to steal the BB with 89o and Alceste called with A6o! My all in was about 2/3 of his stack but he didn't even hesitate for a moment. I got no love from any street and I was down with no money to show for it.

The cash game went a little better. We had about 10 people at the table when LJ got a call from her friend Abby. She wanted to come over, with a friend, and we made room for her by my vacating the table. I had just lost a big pot to W when I flopped top two with my JT and she led out with her KT. I smooth called and the turn was a K! Grrr... She led out 10, I popped to 30 and she called. The river completed a diamond flush draw, which neither of us had, so we were both forced to check and she took the pot down. Being forced to give up my seat so I can accommodate new players is not a problem for me, as I've written in the past, but doing it when I'm steaming (while probably a blessing) stings a bit.

I sat around, noodling on my guitar for a bit. Dennis, a new player who I met months ago at the Good Look club (R.I.P.), asked if he could strum it for a bit. Sure, I said. He proceeded to give a clinic on how to play the guitar. He's classically trained, as well as versed in Jazz and Blues, and it was mesmerizing. It definitely got me out of my crappy mood. It also helped when a player got up later on and I was able to sit back down. I did fine, but only got paid off on one hand, when I flopped an OESD, called a 10 bet from Lisa, and was able to get free cards to the river where I completed my straight. Lisa bet out 20 on the river. I min-raised to 40 and she called me down. The pot put me up a few dollars on the cash session. Jared, the new player Abby bought, was running over the table. At 11:00, the rumblings started to come down that people wanted to leave. And sure enough, at 11:30 (on a Friday!) the game, which was completely full, broke up! I was heart broken. This is two nights in a row now that a juicy cash game has only run a few hours. Am I doing something wrong people? Please let me know what I can do to get you to stay!!!

After cashing everyone out, I was still jonesing for some action, so I went with W to the Virginia room, where Darko and Viv were already playing. I was able to sit down after waiting a bit for an open seat, and started playing very solid 1/2 NL poker. Soon, my 200 buyin was up to 300 and things were progressing nicely. Then I lost a few pots where my good draws never hit. I was at about 230 when a devestating hand happened. I had 8h9h in late position. There was a raise to 15 a few seats to my left and three people called behind me. I completed my bet and the flop came 458, rainbow. I liked my top pair here, but it's not a monster. When the initial raiser bet out 40, which seemed like a pretty big bet, Terry, to my right, whispered to himself, "That's a bullshit bet if I ever saw one". I was thinking the same thing, my man. It folded to me and I popped it 75 on top. The raiser thought for a good full minute and, when he caught me trying to look into his eyes, he said, "All in". Now I wasn't feeling great about the hand, but I was pretty sure my top pair was good. I called, and before I flipped the cards over, I asked if he wanted to run the board 3 times. He agreed, and flipped over 66! Wow. I was way ahead. He must have put me on overs. The first run came with a few blanks and I was now guaranteed a third of the pot. The second run came with a 7, completing his gutshot straight, and giving him a third of the pot. All right, I thought, he only has 5 outs left. I should take the next run. Or I would have if a god damned 7 didn't hit again! Two brutal suckouts later, and I actually LOST money on that hand.

I was down to 130 in chips now and I started to tilt a bit. But at least I had the good sense not to play idiot hands. Finally, after some patience, I get KK. I raise pre-flop and get a scary board of Q89 with two spades. Nothing to do here but bet it out and hope no one flopped two pair. I bet out 25 and everyone folded to me. Not a huge pot, but it's something.

As the night was drawing to a close for Viv, I decided I was getting tired too. I only had 110 in front of me, but it's a loss I can live with. Then came the worst hand possible. AA UTG+1. I always have an issue betting AA in EP. If I bet big, I'm depending on someone having a big hand to call. And then he has to hit on the flop. If I bet too small, many many people are going to come in and outflop me, with small pot too! So I had too ways to go and I decided, since $6 was kind of the deFacto raise around these parts, that $11 was the right number. I bet...and EVERYONE called! I had about 8 damned callers to the flop, which was KcKh9s. Oh crap. I checked when it got to me and it checked all the way around to W, who bet out 20. I knew she only had a 9 and I called, hoping it would be heads up. But then a quiet guy, who hadn't played much, check-raised us both to 60 straight! I knew he had a K, but I was kind of hoping he might have a flush draw or straight draw. This, plus since W and I were both representing a 9 (remember that I only called W's bet), he might be trying to bluff a King. Also, he might have Tens or Jacks which he now thinks is good. On top of that, I had an old episode at the Salami club where I was bluffed on the river with AA and folded to a guy that only had 99. So I did the donkey think and pushed all in for $24 more. He called instantly with Ks8s. I didn't spike an Ace and my night was officially over. What a crappy session!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Just missed the train...again

So out of all of the regular New York poker bloggers who have run through the I Had Outs game, I've met all of them. Except for the F-Train. Oh, we've come close to meeting. Many many times. There was the time we missed each other by a few minutes at the Crack House. There was the time I was in Atlantic City and Dawn and Alceste said hello to me, without introducing me to the train who was standing 10 feet away. There was the time I was supposed to see a movie with him and CK, but my date was too tired to go.

It's really become comical at this point. Then, finally, CK convinced F-Train to stop by the Wall Street game to play 1-2 last night. If you've read the previous post, you'll find out that he came and left within a 60 second span. It was the closest I'd ever been but I didn't even get to shake his hand, let alone introduce myself.

CK thinks this is now "destiny" and we will never meet. But I have a plan. I'm going to put him on the Evite list for the poker games, and I'm going to cook bacon. God-damn it, I'm going to cook bacon.

Feeling guilty, for some reason

Ok, so tonight definitely didn’t go the way I had envisioned it. I was supposed to have a good game that was kind of like a club game. 1/2 NL with no rake and a dedicated dealer (me!). Sounds enticing, no? 15 people signed up for the game, which sounds like more than enough interest to last the whole night, considering I only have one table! But we hit a few snags along the way….

First, two of the players were brand new to the game. What’s worse, they weren’t recommended by our usual word of mouth. I was willing to take the risk, but I was reminded gently by the other players that we would probably have a large-ish (for us) amount of cash in play and having two people walk in essentially off the street was not, shall we say, wise. So I emailed them and politely explained the situation. He and his girlfriend were more than understanding and we will try to get them in on another night when we’re just having tourneys. So that’s one problem solved but we’re now two players down.

Second snag. I sent out an Evite which I thought was clear about what the stakes were going to be. Even though I didn’t explicitly state a 100-300 min/max, I did say we were playing 1/2 and those are pretty standard stakes for those blinds. But at least two of the players who showed up tonight were completely surprised by the stakes. Since a few other players were somewhat skittish as to the stakes, I allowed the table to decide on a maximum, which they put down to 200.

Third snag. And this is the big one. I definitely made it clear on the Evite, and in a follow up email, that I would not be locking up seats for anyone. Even if you were first on the Evite list, your seat would be given away to the first person who showed up at my door. But maybe I wasn’t clear enough. Or maybe, perhaps, I gave a few conflicting signals. I had told a few people on Tuesday that if they called in advance the day of, I would be able to lock them up a seat. What I meant was that if they were on the way and were close by, I would be able to lock them up on the table. I wanted to avoid a situation where somebody got out of the subway, say at Fulton Street, which is about 6 minutes away, and then when they showed up their seat was gone from somebody who had just walked in. But what people got out of my comments was that they could call and lock themselves up a seat. Period. So it was awkward when CK called me to tell me that she and F-Train were getting into a cab. At the time, there were 2 seats open, and I told her that. Unfortunately, for everyone involved, by the time she showed up 30 minutes later, her seats were taken up by Darko and Tom, a new player. CK was under the assumption that I was saving her seats and it put me into a bit of a pickle. I want to be accommodating but to what extent? I want the table to be full, but I don’t want to get in the business of answering the phone during the time that I’m dealing and then having to tell people who are in my apartment already that they can’t sit in an empty seat because someone told me they’re on the way. CK got upset by the turn of events, and even though there were two players who were pretty close to being stacked, she didn’t bother sticking around. Instead, she and F-Train left immediately and hopped a cab back uptown to her place. I called her a little later to tell her that the seats were open again, but by that time she was settled in for the evening. I spent a lot of time apologizing that she didn’t have a good experience. Really, I shouldn’t be apologizing, except for the confusion, but I take people’s reactions to my game very very personally. I am extremely vested in people having a good time. I truly wish I had enough seats for everyone but it’s difficult to accommodate everyone all of the time.

Snag number 4. People didn’t stay very long. The game, which started at 7:15, was over at 10:30. The problem there was that while some people left early, there wasn’t anyone to fill their spots. So when the game fell to 6 players and W wanted to go running, everyone decided that 5 wasn’t enough to play. Blecch.

So the question is, how do I keep a full table running all night. More importantly, how do I keep people filling in the empty spots. What keeps them in my apartment? Yes, I have TV and Backgammon and Scrabble and two computers hooked up to the Internet and Wireless net access too. But they have to want to stay. Maybe this idea of the open-door 1/2 thing just isn’t feasible with one table. At a club, with multiple tables, if too many people show up, they can be assured that a new table will open up soon. But in my home, you just have to wait for people to bust, and that’s no fun.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I am annointed: King RuckBox

My evil plan is coming to fruition. We had a tourney/cash night at Wall Street Poker, and a full 8 out of the 11 players tonight were women. Sweet, beautiful, wonderful women. I gave up my seat to CK so she could play (hey, I gotta stack the deck in my favor "so to speak"), but even so it was a pleasure to watch these incredibly beautiful women rock these 3 guys into oblivion. Ok, so Brian did place second after skating into the money, but with the way Olga was playing, it's a wonder he made it that far. Olga just could not be beat. She amassed a huge chip stack, trading jabs with Liezl, who also had a huge stack (no jokes, please). Both of these gorgeous women were going at it aggressively (ohmigod, no jokes) when Olga managed to clean out Liezl and take her place as the chip leader by a good margin. Tony tried to double up with KK, but that was no match for Olga's call with Ah5h. Not only did she flop an Ace, she rivered a flush as well! Still, Olga is quite new to the game and we were worried for her on the bubble, even though she outchipped everyone about 4-1. But our fears were unfounded, as the bubble fell, Mary gave up the rest of her chips and Brian eventually fell to Olga's onslaught. At one point, I thought Brian would make it back. He flopped AhKhQs with ThJh in his hand and managed to get Olga to put him all in when he checked first to act. She pounced with middle pair and he got in his chips so fast I thought he was the Bionic Man. But Olga took a big pot off of him later on when she flopped top pair and bet it through. Finally, he pushed all in with A6 and she called with AJ and won the tourney! Congrats to Olga on her first Wall Street Poker victory!

Then it was on to a very eventful cash game. I finally got to play a bit and I was doing quite well up to a certain point. I had won a large early pot against Brian when my Asian Jew flopped top pair and turned a four flush. I bet out all streets, finally increasing to 22 on the turn. Brian was with me all the way and he checked the river. I was worried he was slow playing a larger flush but he mucked his hand when I showed down, putitng him a little tilty. He managed to double up later and then again through me! I had built up about a 125 profit when I got AKo UTG+2. I had laid down AQ a few times to large large raises and re-raises and I was getting frustrated. I raised to my relatively standard 8 dollar pre-flop bet, getting 3 callers. More than I wanted, but the flop came a craptacular 862 rainbow. Brian was first to act and he checked to me. I bet $30, trying to take it down right there, hoping to represent JJ or TT but still having outs against a call. It folded around to Brian who took a while to act. He agonized, squirmed, tried to get a read off of me (which I think he might have) and finally called (but not raised). He was about 50 behind, which I found odd. I thought he might have been on a draw. Why no raise? So when the turn came a 3 and he checked to me, I went all in quickly. Brian again took a few beats but called with T8o! He wasn't confident about it and when the river was a blank and I announced "Ace High" he almost visibly sighed in relief. He gave me an encouraging pat and I said, "Good Hand". "No, it wasn't!," he said, "it was stupid." He's right and I'm right and yet he's wrong and I'm wrong. I think I played that as best as I could and he might have folded if he hadn't been frustrated or trying to double up quickly. So there I was, now stuck for 30 after being up all night. A few hands later, I get KcJc in the SB. There's a small pre-flop raise, to 4, and a few callers, including me. The flop is J75 with one club. Brian leads out with $12, I raise to $25 and it folds to Viv, who pops to $60. Now, Viv was the big cash stack at the table and had shown a bluff about 20 minutes ago which was fresh in my mind. She had also put me off 66 with JJ about 4 hands ago, so I thought she might be trying to overbet this pot with middle pair. There was also a frush draw on board which sh might be trying to put someone off (or she might have herself). So when Brian folded, I thought a while about it and decided to push my remaining $24 on top all in. I was hoping I would catch her in a bluffing situation and it seemed to be the case when she said, "What on earth can you have?!?". But then she flipped over 55 for the bottom set!!! Holy cow was I crushed. Until the dealer (Brian bless your heart), flipped over a club and then rivered another club for the runner runner flush suckout. That's right, it happened to me! I haven't hit a runner runner situation for that much money (about $240 total) in a long long time. That's a good thing though, because it means I haven't been putting myself in 5% situations very often. But god does it feel good to be a ruckbox every so often.

Speaking of ruckboxes, and this is not to take away from her stellar play tonight, W caught AA against PP's KK to double up early. Then she flopped a straight against Mary's top set to double up again. Then, on the last hand of the night, she flopped another straight against Brian's top pair to win another $50. Again, I'm not saying she's winning because she's lucky, but it's nice to be paid off when you get the big hands.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

EBB raided Friday night

The Extra Big Blind club was raided Friday night. HighOnPoker has the news, along with a disturbing story about Absolute Poker.

Last weekend in Atlantic City (Guest Blogger: Darko)

Was in AC over the weekend with PP & W. And, was sitting quietly with W, and grinding out a session on Saturday night at The Borgata.
PP was sitting with a maniac-filled table. W decided to take a short walk cuz she was sitting on a healthy nest egg, and check out the action in the room, and stopped by PP's table. She comes back with the news, that there's a Darko Jr at PP's table -- who took down a monster pot with a 3-2o bluff. W says, he's the younger version of me! (Ed. Note: Ouch!) I say nay, that's impossible, but W said it with such conviction, and I trust her judgement. I gave her a $1 chip and asked her to ask PP to lock up a seat for me when one opens up.
Not to shy away from a challenge, and out of boredom, I made it a point to check out the action, when the button passed me at my table. Fair enough, there are two characters at the table controlling the action. I watched a few minutes and easily recognized the antics & hollywood as cheap theatrics… the "I am a donkey" routine, the "raise blind", etc. Only two thoughts that popped into my mind - I'm gonna crack these clowns, and send them home with a story.
Went back to my table, waited for the action to die down, and a seat eventually opened up at the maniac table. I moved myself over, and there was a bit of controversy with the floor since all the tables were running short at 5:30a, and I filled the maniac table to 10.
Here we go… 1/2 NLH in the early hours… alcohol and fatigue has worn down most of the players! Within 3-4 orbits, I easily established that I'm the new sherrif/table captain, and showed a few big bluffs, and some big lay downs, and took down a few big pots by talking smack to some of the players, including Darko Jr.
Then came the hand! I had about $400 behind. I was UTG+4 with Darko Jr (DJ) at UTG+1. UTG straddles (a blind bet, with no option in AC), DJ re-straddles to $15. Folds to me, and I jack it to $45 "on principle" with 8-2o! I get one caller deep in the rotation, and DJ.
Flop comes AcTh9c (flush draw and str8 draws on board), DJ fires $30, I continue hard with a reraise to $95, one caller folds, and DJ calls. It's heads-up, yes!!!
The Turn comes a Kd, DJ checks, and I shove for $263 all-in. He insta-calls!!! Eff-it, I call, he says - without hesitation. My eyes glared at this kid! It's nearly a $900 pot, and being the last aggressor, I have to showdown 8-2o!!! The river shows a ragged 3 - doesn't complete a flush draw. I'm suppose to show first, but I stared blankly at the board, then at DJ, he finally turns over 8c7c, and claims "You win, I got nothing, 8-high!, You win!". I'm puzzled, and looked at the board again, wait… I think it's a chop -- hesitated another 20 seconds to be sure, and the table was puzzled that I refused to turn over my cards… what?? You can't beat 8-high?? I finally saw it for what it is, and 8-high actually chops the pot! I turned over the cards, and the table erupted!!! Chopped pot! DJ was laughing, and high-fived me and said that's the best play he'd ever seen. After that, he and his cronies didn't make too many splashes… (would've been sweet to crack the kid).
He had an open-ender with a flush draw, and an over card, and he missed! Dodged a bullet there.

A good argument against the Internet Gaming Ban

BN 00:06 Internet Gambling Act Should Be Scrapped: Joe Saumarez-Smith

Commentary by Joe Saumarez Smith
Oct. 19 (Bloomberg) -- A year ago last Saturday, President George W. Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and online gambling was banned in the U.S. At least, that was the intention. Twelve months later, there are just as many people gambling online, if not more. Many bettors don't even know the law was changed, partly because it was tacked on as an amendment to a measure aimed at increasing port security. The biggest difference now is that the companies offering online gambling are privately held and operate out of countries where it is impossible to know who controls them; if you had a huge win, then the risk of not being paid is probably much higher. The major public companies that used to offer online betting to Americans, such as PartyGaming Plc, 888 Holdings Plc and Sportingbet Plc, all quit the U.S. market last October at a cost of several billion dollars to their shareholders. America's banks and financial institutions were given 270 days from the passage of the law to block gambling transactions. The detailed rules on how to do this and how to spot a gambling transaction are still to be completed. As a result, online poker rooms, sports bookies and casinos are still able to get money from and send money to their customers, albeit not as easily as a year ago. Meanwhile, Americans are free to place online bets on lotteries and horse racing as those forms of gambling were deemed legal. They can also visit any number of legal casinos, poker rooms, racetracks or Off Track Betting centers, and play state lotteries. The situation is, in short, a mess.
Unrealistic Bans
As America learned during Prohibition, some bans are unrealistic. The online gambling law shows that legislators weren't paying enough attention in history class. At least Prohibition aimed to prevent the consumption of alcohol across the U.S. without exceptions. Banning some types of online gambling while allowing exemptions for lotteries and horse racing is protectionism of the worst kind. The law criminalized those it described as being ``in the business of betting'' and made it illegal to handle money for the purpose of online gambling. That means individuals still aren't breaching any federal law by placing bets. The daily number of poker players online worldwide was about 34,000 in September, down less than half a percentage point from a year earlier, according to Dennis Boyko at PokerPulse.com in Vancouver. Poker players online in the U.S. have dropped only slightly, said Boyko, who has monitored the number of online players since January 2003.
Gambling Addiction
The law's supporters argued that banning online gambling would lower levels of gambling addiction. ``We do not see any decrease in the number of online gamblers seeking help, and anecdotally we see an increase,'' said Kevin Whyte, executive director of the National Council on Problem Gambling in Washington. ``As with alcohol and drugs, prohibition of online gambling is one of the most ineffective ways of addressing a public health problem.'' The law may have made it harder for children to gamble online. Dan Romer, research director of the Adolescent Risk Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, said its annual survey shows a reduction in underage gamblers on the Internet. ``It is simply harder for children to get their bets on online because it is more difficult to deposit now,'' he said.
World Trade Organization
There is a small chance that the U.S. may be forced to repeal the law. The Antiguan government, which licensed many of the online sports bookies targeting the American market, has taken the U.S. to the World Trade Organization, arguing that anti-gambling laws restrict free trade. The WTO agreed, but the Americans have so far ignored the rulings. The U.S. may be forced to change its stance once WTO sanctions start to bite. If legislators were brave, they would use the WTO ruling as an excuse to reverse the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and instead legalize and tax the online gambling industry. That would allow the U.S. government to know who was offering its citizens the chance to gamble, and to impose rules and restrictions that would prevent children and vulnerable groups from placing bets. It would also generate vast tax revenues. Oddly, perhaps the biggest opponents of legalizing online gambling are the major sports leagues and organizations. The National Football League and National Collegiate Athletic Association are the most vocal of these, believing that betting may taint their sports.
Legalize It
The leagues ignore the fact that in pretty much every town across the U.S. you can place a bet at a local bar or barber shop and that the people who suffer financially when a game is fixed are the bookmakers, who have to pay out the winnings. Almost all the point-shaving scandals of recent years have been uncovered because Las Vegas bookies noticed unusual betting patterns and pointed them out to the relevant authorities. If all betting could be done through legal channels, then these markets would be easier to police. Laws that are either widely disobeyed or unworkable are bad laws. A year after its passing, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act is both disobeyed and unworkable. The sooner it's scrapped, the better.

(Joe Saumarez-Smith is chief executive officer of Sports Gaming, a U.K. management consulting firm to the gaming industry. He also owns European online bingo companies and odds comparison Web sites. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Wide World of Poker News

A Florida poker game got robbed and a guy was killed. You think I'm hardcore? This guy has playing cards painted into his driveway!

Playing poker can lead to marriage with Pamela Anderson. Oh, you might need $250,000 to start with.

Poker tournament winnings over $5,000 now required by the IRS to be reported by casinos and you will be issued a W2-G form. Now all I have to do is win the money to even care.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Inside the Actor's Pimp House

*non-poker related content*

James Lipton, host of Inside the Actor's Studio, is a pimp! A big fat fu*king pimp!

Friday, October 19, 2007

New club game?

Being sick sucks but I'm finally getting over it. I've also been brainstorming with a few people and I'm getting an idea in my head.

What would you guys think about me hosting a regular Friday Night 1/2 NL Hold'em game. Unlike other games, this would be equivalent to a game in a club (dedicated dealer, tipping strongly encouraged) but with one major difference. No Rake. I would send out an Evite that wasn't capped as to the number of entries and cards would be in the air at 7PM for whoever showed up. Table would seat 10 players maximum and people would rotate in as others dropped out.

With the state of underground poker these days, this might make a refreshing alternative to getting raped at The Virginia Room, no? But I need feedback if it's going to happen, so start commenting!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Many recaps (but short)

I'm sick. And I hate being sick. And, what's worse, I'm not sick enough to call in sick to work! I have a running nose and an oncoming cold, but I can't take the day off tomorrow. In fact, I have to be in super early, which means I'd better finish this up quick.

We had an Omaha game on Friday which I was really really looking forward to. The game was attendended by many good people and even Carol's friend E, who doesn't play but was game to look over my shoulder and figure out how this damn game worked while she quaffed a bottle of wine. From a distraction point of view, you shouldn't have a pretty girl looking over your shoulder while you play. It might throw off your game....

I had the monster pot of the night when I had 88 in my hand and the flop came 78T with two clubs. I led out and the betting got capped! Turns out that Tony had flopped a set of Tens, and two other people had flopped the nut straight! The turn is the most beautiful 8c in the world. It made me quads, Tony the nut boat and at least one person a high flush. More betting on the turn, although I didn't raise it up. The river was a high card, which put out the low draws and then I started betting it up. Tony, to his credit, didn't re-raise me. DQB!!! The pot had about $200 in it and I felt huge. But then, owing to certain pretty distractions (and my own stupid lack of concentration), I started playing every hand I had. Hey, 78T2 is a good hand, right? I mean the 78 are suited connectors!!! :-( By the end of the night, I had bought in for another $150 and cashed out for a crappy $60 for a net $210 loss. Yeesh that's bad. To be fair though, I lost at least two big pots on sucky 3 outers. For instance, PP, the ruckbox, called my raise when I had K5 in my hand and the flop came 55K. Paul, with KT and two rags, calls and sees the turn come with a Ten, giving him top two. Again, he calls my bet. The river is a King! I lead out, he raises and I'm all in with my last bet. He shows his higher runner runner boat and crushes my spirit. You hear that Paulie! You beat the fight out of me when you stay in with one pair on the flop in Omaha!!!

Sunday was the "second chance" tournament for the league. I was playing pretty well until I flopped two pair against Wendy's top pair, 9 kicker. When I led out on the flop and she min-raised me, I min-raised back, stupidly. She called and the turn made a flush AND straight draw! So when she checked to me, I checked and the river was a 9! She checked, I checked and her rivered two pair won, taking half my stack with it. I finally went down short stacked when I had AQ. I raised and Mary, to my immediate left, raised to 2000, which was just short of all in to me. Before I could call, Scott moved all in! Now I know he has me crushed, most likely, but I have no choice but to call. Mary, amazingly, also moves all in for more than I have! She has AJ and Scott has KK. In spite of being a 3-1 favorite, or higher, he wins. :-) He was already a big chip stack, but this put him up huge. He played fantastically well, finally going heads up with Wendy. Wendy, who had an online tournament starting at 6PM, offered to chop at the beginning of every single hand, with Scott rebuffing all advances. Finally, Scott had the upper hand with KQ vs. Wendy's all in Qc7c, but Wendy lucked out with the flush and pulled nearly even. Faced with the prospect of at least another 30 minutes of this, Scott finally agreed to split the money evenly. Wendy and Scott played the tourney together and managed to cash in the bottom rung out of 3300 players! Good job! They play well together online.

Tonight was a two tourney night. I played what I though was pretty good poker but I'll never live down the suckout I gave to Wendy. She was a shortish stack, though not short, and when I pushed with AJ and she went over the top all in for about twice what I bet, I felt obligated to call. I felt she would make that play with any two decent cards and I was only completely dominated by 5 hands. She had one of them, of course, showing AK, but a Jack flopped and I was able to stack her. That put me at a nice stack which I was able to ride all the way to the bubble boy spot where Eugene, a new player, got it all in against me. I had A9 and I thought he was making a move since he had just shown AJ one hand earlier. But I was dead wrong and he had AK. Once again, I pulled the suckout out of my hat and felted him in bubble position. This put me out front as the chipleader, but only barely. It was Drama, Alceste and myself in the money round and we decided on a cowardly 3 way money chop with me taking first place in the rankings. (YAY). The second tourney I couldn't play because I accidentally overbooked it, but Lisa, who took my spot, ended up chopping with Thomas with Drama taking first.

I'm signing off now. Sorry I couldn't go into more detail but I have to blow my sickly nose...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rating poker rooms

As readers of this blog know, I've committed myself recently (and I should be committed for undertaking this) to visiting every legal poker room in the United States. I didn't set a time limit for this, and I know it's going to take me years to do. But it gives me a good excuse to visit states and cities I would probably never visit and I *do* like to play poker.

In the process of visiting all of these card rooms, I'm going to be mapping the locations and writing reviews of each of the rooms. At present, I've 'officially' visited most of the rooms in Atlantic City and a few in New Hampshire. This December, I'm going to be going to as many as humanly possible in the greater Las Vegas area. Sometime in November, I'm going to do a sweep of the cardrooms in South Florida. But these are places I visit time and time again. Next year, I'll be planning 3 day weekend trips to more far-flung destinations and gathering data for the rest of you to peruse at your leisure.

Which brings me to the topic of this post. What kind of information do YOU want in a card room review? We've all read reviews before of poker rooms that include the basics: Location, number of tables, games played, etc... What I want to know is, what other important, but often overlooked, statistics would you like me to gather. Keep in mind that I will NOT be making a return trip to the vast majority of these rooms, so once I'm out the door, there's no more information to be had. My vision is to map out all of the card rooms in Google Maps and have each one link to a full page review on my site. (Pretty cool, huh?)

So please, comment here and tell me what kind of stuff you want to see in a card room review. I want to be as comprehensive as possible. Some of the things I've already thought of:

1. Rake structure
2. Smoking/non-smoking
3. Proximity and cleanliness of bathrooms
4. Approximate skill level of opponents
5. Hotness of waitress staff
6. Availability/price/quality of food in room and on/near premises
7. Comfort level of chairs
8. Skill/friendliness of dealers
9. Quality of equipment used
10. Room dimensions and lighting
11. Overall cleanliness of room
12. Noise level of room

I must be missing dozens of other things that I can't think of. Please weigh in and help me compile this list!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Breaking the cherry...

Viv, Darko and I were witness to W's first professional dealing gig at the Virginia room tonight. While she was definitely green behind the gills, she showed pretty good promise if she can just remember to concentrate and not comment on player's hands, before, during or after the hand. She caught herself making a few mistakes but she performed admirably overall and we're all very proud of her. A few helpful tips, though, if she's reading this:
1. Be deliberate in your movements. Better to be slow and accurate than fast and error-prone. Remember when you mucked the board and there was still action to be had? 'Nuff said.
2. Refrain from talking to players unless it is absolutely necessary.
3. Learn how to take the rake without thinking about it. This one is just practice. The Virginia Room has a 5% rake. Just keep a running tally of the pot in your head, then, when action is completed for that round, get 10% of that in your head by chopping off the last digit. Ignore the remainder. For example, if UTG raises to 10 and gets 3 callers, then the pot is $30. When you chop off the last digit for 10% (the zero in this case), you get $3. Now, halve that to get 5%. That's $1.50. You should round down for the rake, so that's $1. Now, you've taken the rake for that round, you don't have to recount the whole pot, just what's bet on that street. Sounds complicated but is easy once you practice it.

Ok, enough of that. So what happened at the cash game? We all bought in for $200. Darko and Viv ended up losing most or all of their buyins but I was able to hang tough even though I got creamed in the first hour. 3 times I had big cards that hit top pair. All 3 times I bet out to take the pot down and got re-raised huge. Once by Viv and twice by other players. All 3 times I folded correctly to bigger hands. Viv had AK to my AJ when a naked Ace flopped. I folded KQ on a KJ8 board. Viv had AA and re-raised me and the guy to my left re-raised on top of that with a set of Jacks. I wisely laid down. Only once did I try to push, when Darko, with AQ, flopped Queen high and me, with my Asian Jew and no pair, didn't believe him. I paid him off to the tune of $50 on that hand. But, I did manage to double up my meager $35 stack when my Ad5d flopped a flush draw and I pushed all in, getting one caller and hitting on the turn. Later, I took down a $50 pot with my KK when three undercards came and it checked to me on the button. I stabbed about $35 and everyone folded. My very last hand of the night, I straddle for $4 and get AA. Instead of anyone raising (dammit), I get 4 callers. When it gets to my option, I raise $20 on top and everyone folds (double dammit). I can't complain though. That was the right move.

I finished the night basically break even (down $30) for 3 hours of play.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Danger, chases, escapes and true love

Ok, maybe last night wasn’t as exciting as the title of the post but I thought it was pretty much filled with that same spirit. I arrived at my home at 6:30 to find Brian (A.K.A. 23skidoo) standing in the lobby. He wanted to be early. You hear that crew? Early! I rewarded him for his diligence by inviting him into my apartment that was strewn with clothing from 3 different trips and 5 boxes of a Fresh Direct shipment that came the day before that I hadn’t gotten to unpacking yet. I was going to get home early to tidy everything up but Brian beat me to it.

Brian is a fellow blogger who knows Jordan and comes to us from Atlanta, GA. He was up in New York for a few days for work and figured he’d see what all the hubub was about. Of course, I put him to work immediately (hey, he was the only one there!). He was so nice, helping me stack the chips for the tourney and setting up the poker table. I went about throwing my dirty clothes in a pile in my bedroom. If you can’t see it, it ain’t there! Then I tried unpacking the Fresh Direct shipment. I had about 8 cases of soda, 3 cases of water, 24 rolls of toilet paper, 24 rolls of paper towels, a few hundred plates and cups and an odd assortment of shampoo bottles, extra razor catridges and Q-Tips. The soda had been very badly packed and the cans were everywhere. I tried to corral all the stray dogies but they eluded me. As people started to filter in, I knew that the task wouldn’t be finished in time. So when Kearns walked in, I greeted him with a task. Actually, to be fair, he volunteered to help before I could ask. You hear that crew? He volunteered! I put him on soda duty while I took on the less pleasant task of throwing out the existing garbage and making room in the fridge for all of this soda. I hardly blinked when I heard, but didn’t see, Kearns drop something, but when I stepped into the hallway, he was just standing there with a look of shock on his face. He had picked up a poorly packed case of soda and one of the cans, already dented from some previous drop by the deliverymen, had fallen through the bottom and landed square on it’s weak corner. The can had EXPLODED all over my hallway in what I’m sure was a miniature ‘soda Nagasaki’. There was soda all over the wall, in the bathroom, dripping down my closet door and covering the floor. We swept into action, sopping up as much liquid as we could and then I got on my knees and washed the floor as best as a bachelor man with a regular cleaning woman can. This morning, there were still streaks of dried soda on the walls, so some more cleaning tonight is going to be warranted. Hardly a good start to the night, but a fun one!

We finally got the game going at about 7:20. Even though we had a bunch of last minute drop-outs, the game was still jam-packed, with Tommy Drama taking the last spot. The game was full of interesting twists and turns. For me personally, I was making incredible spot-on reads, and getting destroyed for it. Ok, that’s not totally true. I made a few mis-steps too. Early on in the game, I got AA UTG+2. Ok, now how to play these. There was an UTG raise from Brian to 175. I could raise or I could smooth call. The raise was large enough and early enough on that I decided to simply call, hoping enough players behind me would fold to give me the edge. Luckily, everyone did exactly that except for Jordan on the button, who called. With three way action, the flop cam a craptacular QTT with two clubs. I checked my hand for clubs. Uh, no. Brian checked, I checked and Jordan led out. Now, I know he’s perfectly capable of leading out with nothing on this flop in position, but when Brian smooth called behind him, I got nervous. I don’t know Brian at all and the odds of him making a raise UTG with a Queen was high. But he could have just as easily done it with AT. And with Jordan also in the pot, the odds of someone having me crushed right now were getting larger. So I did the safe and prudent thing and folded. Bad move as it turns out. Brian had AQ and Jordan had either a bluff or a flush draw, neither of which worked.

Later on, in the 100/200 round, I DID make a very good read which worked out in my favor. I had AJo in the BB and Tony, UTG, made a small raise to 500. It folded all around to me and I completed the bet. The flop came A-rag-rag. I figured if he didn’t have an Ace, it would be a scare card for him. I checked the Ace flop to see how he would react. He paused a bit and then bet out 800, leaving him about 500 behind. I had nearly the same stack as him, so calling would really mean pushing all in. I tried some Darko moves and tried to see if I could pry any information out of him. I asked him the usual questions, “Do you have the Ace? How good is it? Do you want me to call?” He was pretty stone-faced about it. Then I switched questions. “Will you show me if I lay down?” He said, “Maybe. Ok, sure”. Aha! I got my tell and I ran with it. “All in”. He insta-called and tabled QQ. When he called so quickly, I thought for sure I was going to be out-kicked, but I made the right move and doubled through, leaving Tony with a measly 50 chips and BB in the next hand. Dawn said aloud, “Note to self: Never talk to Jamie when I’m all-in in a hand!” Ah, respect for the reader. :-) Thus began what we will term, “The Tony Odyssey” or “How can a man with 50 chips and a forced all-in go on to take second place in the tourney?”. Somehow, in the BB, he managed to get A-middle and it stood up against 3 players (without pairing anything!). Just like that, he had 200. He was all in again on the next hand and won that one too against three players. Boom! 600. A few hands later, with even more chips at his disposal, he had 33 and went all in, getting called by Scott, who had J9. The flop came 993! Tony flopped a boat and Scott still had outs with a running pair over 3’s, a Jack or a 9 all winning for him. The turn was…a 3! Tony had made quad 3’s, leaving Scott a miraculous one outer river to win. But all the luck was on Tony’s side and the river was not a 9. Scott was gone and Tony had come back quickly to take 3rd place in chips. Truly, a “chip and a chair” situation come true. Meanwhile, I was still doing well with about 4000 in chips when I got Jh8h in the BB. There were a few limps and I checked my option. The flop came a very tasty T87. I had the gutshot draw and a middle pair. I tried a blocking bet and it folded around to Dawn, who had a smallish stack of 1500 on the button. She re-raised me to 1000. It was all in or fold for me. I would be left with a decent 2500 stack but the blinds were at 200/400 and were about to increase to 300/600, giving me very little room to maneuver. Now Dawn is a tricky player and I know she’s perfectly willing to risk her short stack on a draw. She would definitely have pushed all in with an overpair pre-flop, so I wasn’t worried about Queens or some such. I also knew she wouldn’t give me an ounce of information after she had already reminded herself out loud not to! So, instead, I worked the hand out in my mind and was able to read her for an OESD. It would make sense completely, though I suppose she could have had 87 for the two pair. I said to her, “You’ve got the straight draw. I’m good here.” I pushed all in and she called, showing 89 for the OESD AND a pair. An irresistable combination for a short stack. Unfortunately for her, her two pair and trip draws were dead as an 8 would make me better trips with my Jack kicker and her 9 would make me my own straight to the Jack. Instead, she had to hope her OESD would come through and I had one of her outs in my hand! I patted myself quite vigorously on the back (figuratively speaking) and smiled broadly as a rag hit on the turn. The Jack came on the river, giving me two pair. The pot was nearly pushed to me as the board got confusing to read, but I already knew that it would be exactly three seconds before Dawn noticed she had made her draw. 3…2…1…”I’ve got the straight!” {Sigh} Poker loses again. Dawn has been wildly successful at sucking out on me. She wouldn’t even give me props for making a good read, sore winner she is. What a complete luckbox!! ;-P

So now I was down to just a normal stack, with even Tony way ahead of me. Then came a successive string of 10-3, J-3 7-3, J-5, etc… I was down to 1500 when I got 44 on the button. It folded around to Mary, on my right, who limped in. Ok, “All you can eat”. PP, in the BB, couldn’t get his chips in fast enough. He had only 150 more than me and Mary, who had a pretty decent stack, seemed anguished about the call but must have been doing some vigorous math in her head because she made what she knew was just a pot-odds call. I tabled my 44, Mary had 55 and PP had QQ! I was third best, blech. But 3rd best is a winner, right?!?! The flop came down 23rag and I could feel a suckout coming. Here it is, the turn….a 5! Uh, wrong suckout god. Get it right, would you?!? I could hit a 3 to make a straight but the river was something other and PP and I were out in one shot. PP was very concerned that his ranking would reflect a higher placement than me but he needn’t have worried. I’m quite the anal host when it comes to the stats!

Alceste went on to bubble in the tourney, with Drama taking 3rd (sitting uncharacteristically tight throughout). Tony and Mary went heads up, with Tony a chip leader! But Mary’s heads up skill prevailed and she took down the big prize. It was a great tourney and congratulations have to go to Tony for his amazing comeback. Also, we wish him condolences when, sometime next week, he breaks his ankle stepping off of a curb into a completely empty street, having used up all of his available luck on this tourney….

I wish I could say it ended there, but there was a cash game afterwards which lasted until about midnight. W came out the big winner, carving up the table to the tune of +$374. The tourney started out in grand fashion as Drama got red pocket Aces on the first two dealt hands! Unlucky for him though, the cash game wasn’t settled enough for him to get any callers to his raises and he ended up making an accumulated $5 on four successive red rockets. Two hands later, he lost about $15 to KJ, which makes him the first person I know of two get AA two hands out of 4 and still be down! Scott was involved in a heartbreaking hand. He had AK and the flop came K8rag. There had been some preflop raising and there was about $40 in the pot. Scott led out with $25 with TPTK and got min-raised by Wendy. Uh-oh. Scott went into the tank but eventually made the call. The turn was an Ace. Top two pair for Scott. Sounds good, right? He checked, or bet (I can’t remember) and Wendy went over the top all in. Scott was now thinking out loud and, in true “Poker Idiot” fashion, managed to call out Wendy’s hand right on the nose. “You’ve got 88. Oh, I guess I call.” Wendy tabled her 88 and must have been thanking her stars that Scott would keep ignoring his better instincts. In fairness though, it’s a tough laydown and we’ve all been in the same situation where our gut told us we were beat but we made the crying call anyway, usually for our whole stack. Chin up Scotty!

Wendy, now flush with real chips (rather than those pesky Sklansky chips), set her sites on more, more, more. She, PP and Mary were invovled in a hand where there was another pre-flop raise, this time by PP and a call by Mary and W. The flop came J45. PP bet out, Mary came over the top and WW re-raised! PP went all in and Mary called. The turn was a rag. Mary bet out again and Wendy shoved. Mary saw the call, which was about 90 more, would stack her. But she was heavily pot-invested in the pot and couldn’t get herself to lay down, though she looked sick about it. So she called with a very painful, non-bacony, look on her pretty face. She turned up KK, W had 44 flor the flopped set and PP had JJ for the better flopped set. The river was a 5 and W took down the huge side pot. When PP reached for the main pot, W asked, “Why are you taking that? I have a boat”. PP gently showed her the much larger Titanic-like 2nd nuts and W laughed. She had been so focused on stacking Mary, she missed that she had been outflopped! Mary, wisely, declined to rebuy and the table started to break up.

At the end of the night, Wendy, Brian and Jordan had all made out well. PP made a modest profit, I broke even (up $5) and everyone else had their shirt handed to them. Sorry guys, that’s how we roll at Wall Street Poker! Better luck next time.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

So you think you can... (Weekend Update)

I've been looking forward to this past weekend for a long time. And before I delve into details I'll give you the quick poker score:

I was down $550 but had a hell of a lot of fun.

Ok, there it is. I said it. On to the details...

I hopped a bus with Darko at 6:30 from the Port Authority. PP, W and Viv would meet us later in PP's car. Although they left an hour later than us, they somehow arrived only 10 minutes later. Strange. We managed to snag a 2 bedroom suite at the Fairfield and, as we were quite hungry from the trip, decided to go right to dinner. I believe I blew any opportunity I will ever have to influence the group again by managing to convince them to go to the Atlantic City Bar and Grill across the street. Hey, the valet guy said it was good! Ok, maybe he wasn't the best source of information on culinary options in the city. Yes, the place sucked but I have to cast blame on my dinner mates. When you go into a questionable establishment, you should order the safe food. I had the Alaskan King Crab legs. They were actually very good. PP ordered Spaghetti and meatballs and a sausage that looked like a turd. It was OK. The rest of the crew had steak and seafood. Now I know steak is hard to make well and, predictably, it sucked. But I refuse to take blame. Learn how to eat people!

From dinner, we went right to poker. We went to the Borgata where I played in a very quick 5-10 Limit HE session (15 minutes) that broke up when all the players left after 15 hands. In that span, I managed to lose half of my 200 buyin. Grrr.... I joined up at a 1/2 NL table and proceeded to lose more and more money. When I finally pushed all in with my last $45 with AA and was called down by JT (the bitch flopped trips), I knew it was time to cool down. I walked around playing "Spot the Familiar Face". At the Borgata and at the Taj, I always manage to see a few faces I recognize from the poker rooms in the city. I got waved over by Darko, who was sitting at a pretty loose and weak/tight table where he was scoring big. I took the seat next to him and managed to double up my $200 buyin early on when I had AK and the flop was K72 rainbow. I had called a pre-flop raise in early position and when I checked on the flop, he bet out about $45 into a $40 pot. I did my bit of Hollywood and finally pushed all in on top. He squirmed, but made the call with QQ. I felted him and he rebought again. He and his friend were drinking a bit and they were true "Matter of Time" players. Sure enough, they ended up dumping all of their chips off before the night was over and I recovered by $200 loss from the other 1-2 table. We headed back at 6AM with everyone but me leaving up for the night.

I woke up at noon because my body wouldn't allow for any more sleep. Everyone else didn't have that issue as they were passed out cold. I took the quietest shower I could and quietly dressed and left to walk to the Taj. I hate the room at the Taj. It's loud, dirty and has a much older clientele. BUT, they spread Omaha/8 on a regular basis. I've been playing 2-4 O/8 the last few trips but I wanted to step it up a bit and I opted for the 5-10 table. The truth is, there's not much difference in the two games...UNTIL there's a kill pot. That's right. The 5-10 has a full kill which means it turns into 10-20 when a player scoops a $75 pot (which happens quite a bit). So some of the pots turned out to be $300 or more. I managed to scoop a $300 pot early on when I rivered a miracle King to make the nut straight with no low on board. I won some other nice pots and left the game for dinner up $200. Yay Omaha!

We had planned to go to dinner at Buddakahn, near Caesar's, at 5:15PM. The early Floridian time was set up because most of us had tickets to see "So You Think You Can Dance - The Tour" at the Boardwalk Theater (Viv's idea. We love you Viv!). So when I left the Taj, I assumed I was on my way to dinner. On a side note, there is absolutely no phone service for Verizon customers inside the Taj poker room, so my phone wasn't on to save power. When I left the room at 4:30 and got out onto the boardwalk, I turned it back on and got 3 messages from the group! They were trying to warn me that they had changed plans and were only eating breakfast at 4:00pm and were going to eat a late dinner instead! What planners I have for friends. If they had been in charge of WWII, this blog would be written in German. Anyhow, I got to Sonsie where they were, and scarfed down some leftover hamburger and fries. We killed an hour and a half playing 2-4 Limit where I managed to donk off $100 playing every hand given to me. It's 2-4! Who cares? We were actually trying to hit the bad beat jackpot, which was up to $61,000. The deal was, if any one of us hit the jackpot, then the winner would get 50% of the winnings and then split the remainder amongst the other participants. It occurred to me, as I was playing, that we hadn't discussed how taxes would work with that but that's not really important, is it? It's not like we're going to hit it anyway....

We walked a block after "dinner" to get to the convention hall and there was a line of 14 year old girls waiting to get in. This is very popular with the tween crowd, evidently. I felt like Grandpa Jones in there. A lecherous Grandpa Jones, might I add. Some of the older girls were quite hot and Darko had to remind me of the Statutory laws in the state of New Jersey. "15 will get you 20". Goddamit! The show, while not my thing, was surprisingly professional. All of the dancers are super talented (and quite hot). The issue I had with the show was it's ADD and twitch-like nature. It was like watching TV, but on stage. None of the dancers danced more than 45 seconds and when they did, it was only to show off as many complicated dance moves as possible. But really, I can't complain. I'm not really the intended audience. I was only there to support Viv, really. There was a group of two young girls seated in front of us with matching purple shirts reading, "Marry Me Neil!" Neil was one of the dancers in the show who had a habit of dancing topless as often as possible. The girls were besotted, unaware that Neil was most likely as gay as Liberace, holding up posters proclaiming their love and taking pictures whenever possible, not to mention squealing like the 'pig-man' from Deliverance. During intermission, they left their seats for a few minutes and I got a particularly cruel idea in my head. I offered PP $50 if he would tell the girls when they returned that Neil had seen their posters during the show and had come by during intermission to get them on stage, but since they were gone, he had to leave. The look on their faces would have been worth the money by far. PP, thankfully, has WAY too much integrity to break the heart of 14 year old girls.

After the show, after dancing our way (Ok, just me and Viv) back to the hotel on the boardwalk, we decided on a course of action. I wanted to stick around and keep playing Omaha, but the rest of the group went over to the Borgata again. So it was just me, all alone, playing Omaha. It was a good decision at first, as I went up $300. It was 2AM and I was getting just a twinge tired and I said to myself I was going to leave. But I didn't, because I am retarded. I got involved in a big pot where I was invested $100 and I lost a heartbreaker. I had Ad5dQsJs in my hand. I was in the BB in a kill pot. The bet was raised pre-flop and so many people called that I felt I was pot-committed to call with my $5 discount. The flop came Qd-5s-7d. I had flopped two pair with the nut flush draw. Good enough to bet out in my opinion. So I did and no one raised. A good indication I was ahead at the moment. The turn came with Kd, giving me the nut flush. I made a show of being frustrated by the diamond and checked, hoping to check raise someone else who was staying in for the flush. Well, it checked all around and I felt ill. The river was a Q. That gave me a boat. Now I felt safer, so I bet out on the river. I got a re-raise from the player to my left which everyone folded too. I made a crying call and he showed the inevitable KQ for the higher boat. To be fair to me, it was a 3 outer he was drawing to, but he scooped the sizeable pot and put me on tilt. This started an 8 hand slide which cost me $600. I want it to be known that I was NEVER behind until the river in each of the big hands I lost. For instance, there was the one outer a guy hit to make quads after I had flopped the nut boat. He scooped $300 on that one and I sighed. I know from
CK that Omaha can have some sick variance but this was the first time I had been exposed to it. I left at 6AM DOWN $500 rather than up $300 as I was 4 hours previously. Crap. I walked to bed with a sick feeling and fell asleep.

We woke up in the morning as a group, the Fairfield hotel service waking us up despite the large "DO NOT KNOCK" sign that W had made up. We trudged over to Sonsie again (the BEST french toast ever) and spent the rest of the day playing 1-2 NL at the Tropicana. I had gotten a message that the
IHO girls were in town for the day but, sadly, I wasn't able to play with them at the Hilton. Yes, I know it's next door. So sue me. Meanwhile, I played very good poker at the Trop and even though I went down another $50, it doesn't negate the fact that I made the right moves at the right time. It also put into focus a revelation I had about my cash playing. I've been making some SICK reads, being able to lay down hands at will when I know I'm beat.

Example: I'm at the Borgata with KQ and I call an $11 raise pre-flop. Three other people call and the flop comes K73, rainbow. The raiser checks, I bet out $15 and it folds to the raiser, who re-raises to $45 after some thinking. I go into the tank and I start thinking about it. He raised preflop, so he has something. If he's got a pocket pair, he must not feel bad about the board if he's coming over the top on a check raise. I put him on AK and fold my KQ heads up. He tables AA and the table goes wild. Like I said, sick read.

So my revleation goes something like this. If I can read when I'm beat, then I should be abel to read when I'm ahead. If that's the case, WHY AREN"T I RAISING OR BETTING MORE?!?! You know, that's easy to say and harder to execute, but Sunday I was doing it. For example, I had Ad2d in the SB. There are a few limps and the cutoff makes it $12 to go. Whenever I'm in early position with a weak hand like I had and there's a raise from the cutoff or button, I immediately look to my left at the players behind me. If they are reaching for their chips to make the call before I do, it gives me lots of information about the pot odds I'm going to get to make the call. I see at least three players start immediately picking up two red chips and I know I'm going to be getting 5-1, so I call. The players do, indeed, call and the flop comes A5J with 2 spades. It's a ragged board and I hit my top pair. I want to see where I'm at, so I bet out $21. Everyone folds to the raiser who flat calls. There's enough in the pot for him to raise if he's got a big Ace, so I immediately put him on the flush draw. When the turn comes a rag, I push out $40 without hesitating. This would force him to put in $40 to win $130 with no more money to come (I'm not betting out if another spade hits). That's less than 4-1 on a 5-1 draw. I don't think my opponent is sophisticated enough to understand the exact odds on this but he instinctively knows it's a lot and he ends up folding. Game, set, match. I am going to be doing a lot more of the larger betting at the cash tables from now on, provided I have a good read on my weak opponents. With the Wall Street Crew, it's just going to get me in trouble when they trap with their flopped sets, those bastards! :-p

The car ride home was capped by take out
White House Subs (Best meatball subs on the east coast). I crashed hard when I got home and woke up at 10AM (no work on Columbus day for the Fixed Income Markets. Suck it Equity guys!!!). I had to get an upper endoscopy at 2:15 and I was really nervous about it. But it seems they give those doctors the BEST drugs. I got an IV for the procedure and I was knocked out in about 30 seconds. I woke up 30 minutes later not the least bit aware that a tube had been stuffed down my throat and a camera looked inside my stomach while another tube took a biopsy of a bit of my stomach lining. Best 30 minutes of sleep I ever had. It looks like nothing is wrong with my stomach which is making the Gallstone diagnosis much closer to 100%. The good news is that after the gall bladder is removed, I'll be able to drink like a normal human being again, maybe even a college student! So I'm debating getting the surgery BEFORE my Vegas trip rather than after like I had thought. What do you think crew? Should I do it in late November (post Thanksgiving)?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Season 5 kicks off

What a sick inaugural night we had. If only I had witnessed any of it. This is the part where I have to explain my motivation here. Most people assume that I started the Wall Street Poker league in order to play poker, but that's only a secondary consideration. The primary reason was to craft an environment that was both fun and instructive and would also have enough members to fill up on a regular basis. You see, in the early goings of this game, before there was even a league concept, it was sometimes hard to get people to come. Now, I'm fighting them off with sticks! But in order to keep up that level of enthusiasm, I sometimes have to make sacrifices as host. Sometimes that involves the expense of buying top quality equipment or cases of soda. Other times, it means I have to give up my seat in order for a new player to play or to keep a popular player at the table. Which is exactly what happened to me tonight when I couldn't even play in the first tourney!

Tonight's league play consisted of one tourney (at the new stakes of $27+$3) and one cash game ($1/$1 NL HE). "No River" Brown asked if he could bring a friend along, a new player. I said yes, of course, even though the table was already full. I think of it as an investment in the league. If I give up my seat now, it'll pay off when he/she enjoys the game so much that they continue coming back. One regular player who gets along with the group is worth dozens of my own buy-ins, at least. Ken, the new player, was a perfectly nice guy who lasted a while and, even though he wasn't playing in the cash game, still stuck around and shuffled for the tourney dealers. A class act and we hope to see him back soon. So I ordered some dinner and watched the table. What a well-oiled machine we have running here! People were shuffling, dealing, calling action, etc... all without my interference. It's a pleasure sometimes to just sit and watch TV and not have to do anything. Although, the Yanks getting crushed by Cleveland was giving me my own special heartburn. :-(

When I was finished with my dinner, I decided to deal the tourney to bolster my own dealing experience. I've got the basic mechanics of dealing down, though I still have to work on my pitching, but I sometimes get flustered when people talk to me. I actively worked on it and didn't do too badly, not making any flop mistakes and never pushing the pot to the wrong player. No exposed cards either. Yay! When we got down to 4 players, it was an attractive all-girl final table, with LJ, Carol, Abbie and Wendy all vying for the first win of the new season. Carol bubbled out and LJ took third. Wendy and Abbie nearly chopped because Wendy, who thought she was ahead, wanted to place first more than she wanted the money. But when Abbie recounted her chips for the second time, she discovered she had miscounted and she was actually ahead by 300 chips! So Wendy battled it out but Abbie outslugged her, eventually getting Wendy to go all in with A7 vs. her AQ. A Queen flopped and it was all she wrote.

We started the cash game pretty quickly and, once again, I gave up my locked seat to LJ. LJ is a great player who is smart, articulate, pretty and an enormous smartass (which, oddly, is a fun trait at a poker table. Uh, in moderation.). The table would be more lively and memorable with here there, so I let her play my seat. And yes, if you're paying attention, I give women at the table more leverage in taking my seat than men. But not for the reason you're thinking, although it's a nice side benefit! The reason is, again, because of the league. Having a much higher than average female population is a huge selling point, both to men and women. I can't tell you how many times I've described the league to strangers who were dumbfounded that more than a third of the regular players were women. I knew, anyway, in a cash game that people would eventually bust and I would be able to fill in. When Abbie R., another new player, cashed out, I had my chance. Darko came at the same time and there was a lot of money on the table when I sat down.

The table has become much much more aggressive than when we first started over a year ago. As such, it's fun and sometimes frustrating to play. I try to make moves, now and again, but I mostly stick to the basics. It worked out tonight as I was able to felt LJ with AA in the BB. She had gotten JJ in the SB. Drama raised in MP and LJ popped it to 11. If I flat call here with my AA, Drama is likely to call and my AA is much less likely to win three ways. But if I raise then I run the risk of scaring off LJ. Here's where the wisdom of "Better to win a small pot than lose a big one" comes in. So I re-raised to 30, practically screaming "I've Got It!". Drama got the hint, with two raises behind him, but Lana pushed all in with her JJ. I prayed to the gods not to kill me the way they've too frequently done in the past, and my prayers were rewarded with a flopped Ace. LJ made her J on the river, but to no avail. The table started busting out players and Darko was building his stack with alarming speed and some excellent plays. In one hand, I had AQo in early position and called a pre-flop raise from Darko, along with a bunch of other callers. The flop was some high cards that didn't connect to me. Someone, I think Abbie, led out and Darko came over the top, BIG. Abbie agonized and folded and Darko flashed 24. It was sick because of the amount in play. He must have been at least $50 invested in the pot and he bet into a board with some high cards on it and at least 4 callers. So, in the end, he pulled in another $50 or so out of sheer moxie, which is how he does it. Tricky tricky.

I only had one hand which I am still thinking about but I think I played it right. I was in the SB with Q5o. There are limpers all around and I limp too. The flop is QQ2 rainbow. I bet out $7 and only Wendy calls behind me. The turn is a 7. I check and Wendy bets $15. I check-raise and put $25 on top. She pauses for about 2.5 seconds and announces "All In" for $102 more. I go into the tank for a bit but finally fold, showing my Q. Wendy mucks but seems to indicate that I made the right move. Hard to say though, but it seems right that she had me. There are multiple hands that beat me there. 22 is a possibility given her pre-flop limp. 77 is possible, though less likely given my flop bet. The only thing that made sense was a better Queeen. And with her pre-flop limp, Q8, Q9 or QT seem likely. To make it worse, if she had Queen and a kicker above a 7, I can't even chop with a high card since her kicker would play. I'm basically dead to a 5 (or a 7 for a chop) and my thought was that anybody who goes all in over a check raise most likely is ahead. The only other possibility that makes sense is she had an overpair that she was slowplaying (KK or AA) but that doesn't seem likely given the number of preflop limps. I think she would have raised with a big pair.

What do you think folks? Did I play that one the only way I could?

At the end of the night, Darko cashed out with $519 profit, a monster night! I was only up $66 but I'm sure not complaining. I can't can't can't wait until our Limit 3/6 Omaha game next Friday. It's sure to be a blast!! Damn you Carol for hooking me on that game! I'm even, vaguely, contemplating getting back into online poker just so I can play O/8. {Shudder}

Carol has a great update of the night's events and an even better description of the girls at the final table. Who's Baby Spice? Anyone? My vote is on Puiki but we might have to go with Liezl to keep with the Glamour factor. And no, I don't think Puiki would disagree that she isn't Glamorous. Fabulous, yes. Glamorous, no. Puiki, if you're out there and you take offense, I'll print a retraction. :-)

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My luck finally runs out... :-(

After the last post, when I was at Starbucks, I *did* go back to the Nashua, NH poker room. There was a cash Hold’em game going on with 6 players and I was able to sit down for a bit. But I only got to play about 15 minutes before the players decided to stop playing cash in order to get a tourney going. Again, I didn’t have time to play a tourney and since the one game in the place broke up, it seemed to be time to go to my last poker room in Manchester, near the airport. I would have about 2 hours in Manchester before I needed to get out and return my rental car, so I would have some time to play.

I hopped in my car, dialed in the address into my GPS, and was on my way. It was only about a 20 minute drive and I almost passed it when I pulled into the parking lot of a huge brick building that looked like an abandoned factory. I need to look into the history of the area, but my guess is it WAS an abandoned factory that has been converted into commercial use. The door I walked into contained a bingo parlor in which a back room, with about 20 tables, was being used for poker. There was an Omaha/8 game going (perfect) and I bought in for $60. Unlike my previous day’s efforts, I couldn’t make anything happen. It didn’t help that these players were much much more aggressive than the other rooms. Capped betting was relatively common and I gave up a few hands that experienced players would consider beat but turned out to win. I had about 35 minutes left and I had already bought in 3 times when I went on a sick run of about 6 or 7 hands in a row where I won big pots or chopped them or ¾’d them. At the end of it, it was 6:30 PM and I was actually UP $44 dollars. I was running great and I wanted to play a few more but my flight was scheduled for 8PM and I was cutting it very close. So I said my goodbyes and gathered up my money.

Zoom, zoom, zoom to the airport and I was at THE GATE at 7:00PM. I fired up my laptop and did some work I needed to do. I checked the big board and my flight was still scheduled to leave on time even though the arrival from LGA, which would be my plane, was late. It took a bit, but they updated the board and my departure time kept slipping. Finally, the plane landed and the 15 passengers, including one woman who had been there since 4PM and one couple who were going to miss their connection in LGA, waited patiently for the plane to be refueled and boarded. Then came the worst news of all. After waiting for 45 minutes after our scheduled departure time, our flight had been cancelled. Not delayed, mind you, but outright cancelled. Like a vision in a dream, the plane sat on the tarmac in front of us, taunting us with it’s still propellers. I was still in good cheer, though. Surely the airline would help us book passage on other airlines and even pay for the difference in fares. Right? Uh, not really. It seems that LGA has cancelled the flight because of excessive traffic and since it wasn’t the airline’s fault, they weren’t going to offer any restitution AT ALL! That means, no free passage on other airlines, no free upgrades, no cash awards and no free tickets. To make matters worse, the next flight out was 5:15am and they weren’t going to pay for a hotel room or a car. I was on my own.

I debated what to do. It was about 9:00PM. I could rent a car and drive to Boston and take a train to NY from there. I would probably get into NY at about 3AM at best. OR I could suck it up and get a cheap hotel room for the night and take the morning flight. Of course, since a whole plane full of passengers had just gotten bumped, it was very possible I could get nearly no sleep, show up to the airport and then be told there was no room for me at 5:15AM! So I did what any poker player would do. I rented a car (getting a fairly cheap rate with my sob story) and headed back to the poker room in Manchester! On the way, I started scouting hotels on my GPS system (yes, I rented it again). I called every hotel in a 5 mile radius to get the best rate. The best rate was $69 at the Econo-lodge in Manchester. So I drove over. Bad. Move. I had been amazed and, frankly, a bit shocked that I hadn’t seen anything resembling “the poor” anywhere in New Hampshire. Well, if you want to find The Ghetto in the state, go to the Econo-Lodge in Manchester. It’s ground central for the slums. I got as far as the parking lot but then I turned around because I was afraid to get out of my car. I called The Radisson, and they quoted me $109 so I took it. Incidentally, if you need to stay in a hotel for a night near an airport and you’re calling *that night*, tell them your flight has been cancelled. They’re authorized to give a “distressed customer” rate and it’s pretty good. The Raddison is a beautiful convention hotel and the bed is one of the best King beds I’ve seen in a chain hotel. I picked up my hotel key and then headed out to play poker!

When I got to the room at 10:30PM there were only two tables going. One was the final table of a freeroll tourney and one was a $60 buyin tourney that had started 15 minutes ago. “No cash games,” I asked? The guy behind the cage point back to the $60 tourney table and gave me an education in how No Limit poker in New Hampshire works. Ok, here it is. Follow along with me:

Poker in New Hampshire is limited to $2 bets (ala Florida) or tourneys. In addition, there are limits to what a player is allowed to lose in a single tourney (I believe $240). Therefore, No Limit poker would seem impossible. Ah, but the NH rooms are smarter than that. What they do is blend No Limit cash with tourneys to keep everything on the up and up. How do they accomplish this? Well, you buy in for a $60 tourney, for example, and you get $1250 in chips (10 $100 chips and 10 $25 chips). The tourneys run for EXACTLY one hour and one hour only. The top two chip leaders at the end of the tournament are paid the prize money for the tourney. They then pay out the players the cash equivalent of their tournament chips for any chips they still have at the end of the tourney! Did you get all that? Think about it this way. $100 chips are worth $4 each and $25 chips are worth $1 each (though you have to refer to them by their tournament denominations during the tourney). The blinds in the tourney remain at $25/$50 ($1/$2) for the first 30 minutes. During this 30 minute period, you can rebuy/add-on if you fall under your starting stack up to 3 times (you can’t exceed $240 in a single tourney by state law). After 30 minutes, rebuys are no longer allowed and blinds jump to $50/$100 ($2/$4) for the remainder. People who bust out are out of the game. Madness, I know.

It was in this foggy haze that I bought in for $60, with only 15 minutes left in the rebuy period since I had come late. I played tight for a few hands but I finally put my hat in the ring with Jd9d because their was a moderate raise, a few callers and I had the button. The flop was crap but it checked around. The turn gave me an OESD, but the original raiser bet 1/5th of the pot! What’s more, he got two callers behind me. I called and the King came to complete my second nut straight. The raiser bet 300. It folded to me and I shoved all in for 350 more. He squirmed but called and I was now up $65 when he tabled a crappy two pair. The same guy paid me off nicely later on when I made a loose-ish call with As5s in the SB in the face of a race to $400. However, before you yell at me, 4 other people called! Anyway, I flopped two pair and bet 700. The original raiser called with a flush draw and when the turn came up blank, I shoved all in. He folded and I was now up about $140. We played for about 20 more minutes and then we were done. I had managed to keep my profits and sat watching incredulously as the top two players paid us all out. It was like being at a home game, except in order to keep it like “a tourney”, the players were ostensibly paying us out on the side. Crazy stuff. Anyway, I stuck around for a bit to see if another game would go off and it did. I sat tight again and was rewarded by playing for pot odds and not hitting anything. Finally, UTG+1 and my stack down to $30, I got AA. The UTG player raised to $300, which would leave me $450 more. I was worried if I pushed all in that I would only isolate a single player so I smooth called, gambling that I would be able to get a favorable flop and THEN isolate to a single player while getting more limp money in the pot pre-flop. It worked perfectly when three other players limped and the flop came T64 with two hearts. It cheked to me and I pushed all in, naturally. The player behind pushed all in for more and I assumed I was dead to a flopped set. He actually did the work for me getting him to isolate with me because I complained that I was dead and tabled my AA. He was shocked that I would think I was behind and tabled AT for TPTK. I was good. I was really good. Until the river came with another fucking ten! Goddamit all. My luck had really turned. I could rebuy since there were about 15 minutes left, but I was feeling a bit tired and decided to split with my profit and call it a night.

The weekend has been a real treat and I had a lot of great experiences. I’m hoping to get out tomorrow on the 9:15 AM flight (screw 5:15!), but I hope I don’t keep getting bumped. If I don’t make it onto the 11:15 flight, I’ll see about getting credit for my ticket for a future flight and I’ll go standby on another flight on another airline. Wish me luck and I’ll see you guys at the WSP Season 5 inaugural on Thursday!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Weddings and poker

The entire group got to bed fairly early the night before, about 11:30 PM. The boathouse incident was largely forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the morning though. I woke up at about 8:30AM and, as usual, was the last one in the house to wake. I got more restful sleep having my own room that night and I was feeling somewhat de-stressed. I met Gary, the groom, in the kitchen and asked him if he wanted to get some breakfast with me in town. He and his cousin Aletia came along. I was hoping for a nice rustic country inn that would serve homemade muffins, jam and scones. Instead, I got the local diner, which is very nice and quaint but a little more pedestrian than I’d hoped for. Still, this isn’t my wedding and it was easy enough. We ordered eggs and toast and blueberry pancakes for the table and chowed down. At 11AM, Aletia had to run to get her hair done which left Gary and I alone for some long-awaited ‘friend’ time. It had been a while since we were able to just hang out and talk and we walked along the water catching up on life. For those who don’t know, this is an important part of the marital day process. The groom’s best male friend MUST take the groom aside and get him in a relaxed state of mind because, believe me dear readers, nothing is going to prepare him for the onslaught to come. While walking along this beautiful New England town, we came across the local dance school preparing for a recital out on the lawn in front of the bookstore. Little girls in full ballerina dress danced choreographed twirls to the music of Swan Lake. It was right out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

We picked up Aletia (nice hair!) and started to drive back to the condo. On the way, we ran into the bride and the rest of bridal party. The bride looked jubilant and the rest of the bridal party looked miserable. I hope the ‘boathouse incident’ hadn’t gotten in the way. J When we got back to the condo, it was time to pack up and drive over to the country club. Once we were there (thanks GPS gods for the great directions), it was up to the rooms to dress in the tuxes and start getting ready for the big shindig! I looked great in my tux, if I don’t say so myself. ;-) There was one little moment of panic on my part when I tried on my clip-on tie and found it was too short. I adjusted the length to what I thought was the longest setting and it didn’t fit. I went to Gary and said, “We have an issue”. He was right on it though. “Nothing two safety pins won’t fix.” Good call. But I felt like an idiot when Lauren, Lynn’s fiancĂ©, noted that I actually had the tie strap doubled over and, therefore, had it at it’s SHORTEST setting, not it’s longest. Duh Duh Duh. Oh, look. It fits great.

At 3:15, I was tasked with handing out programs to the arriving guests. “Hello. Welcome. Hello. Welcome. You look lovely today.” I was made for this. At 4PM, the ceremony started and it was wonderful. The scene was outside in absolutely perfect weather. 72 degrees with a little breeze blowing, overlooking the lake and the mountains in the background. Completely perfect. I was asked to give my poem reading and I did a great job (judging from the multiple comments). I only had one near faux-pas moment in the whole ceremony. That was when Brita, the bride’s friend who was giving a different poetry reading which I hadn’t heard, got to a line in her poem that went, “The arrow of my love has found it’s target”. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. Sue me for having a dirty mind.

After the ceremony, we went down to the gardens to take pictures for about an hour with everyone gushing and tending to the bride. We even got some impromptu shots down by the beach on the lake. We all walked through the sand, looking like a JCrew ad in out tuxedos and bridal dresses while the photographer directed us (“Cue the spontaneity!”). Then it was back to the room for the party of a lifetime. Good weddings are made by the guests (trust me, I have more experience than you do) and this was a good mix. The bridal party and the bride and groom’s parents and friends were all dancers and the dance floor was jumping and moving like the currents of the ocean. The bride set up the wedding in a very interesting and novel way. Instead of starting out with a salad, and then some dancing and then the dinner and then some dancing and then desert and then some more dancing…she did the entire food portion first followed by 3.5 hours of dancing! With most crowds, they wouldn’t have been able to handle it, but this crowd was young, hip and awesome. We danced straight until 11. I’ve never been so sweaty (oh, maybe last week with the rock scrambling) but feeling so completely amazing. Even the song selections were great. Groove is in the Heart into Pump up the Jam into Bust a Move. Old school, baby! I got into a Karaoke rap-off with one of Karen’s friends to see who knew the lyrics better to Bust a Move and Groove is in the Heart. I won, just barely. Paul’s boyfriend Zach had us rolling making up dances on the spot. “Do the Gravedigger! You shovel, you throw, you shovel, you throw. Do the Qtip! Swab the ear, now throw it away. Swab the ear, now throw it away. Do the Harvest! You pick the apple, put it in a bag. You pick the apple, put it in a bag.” Outstanding stuff and the kind of genuine laughs that you remember for years after the actual event. Karen’s brother started a trend by ordering an Apple-tini. Paul wondered if he wasn’t really trying to say something when he drank it with his pinky out. J The prodigious number of Apple-tini’s drunk by Karen’s brother resulted in Paul giving him the nickname ‘Tini’, or was it ‘Teeny?’. The double entendre was intentional on Paul’s part. (Smart-ass Doctors!)

After the wedding was over, I took a nice walk on the golf course with a lovely young lady (get your minds out of the gutter) where we walked in the cool night and listened to a coyote howl in the distance (not a joke or a pun of any sort). As we made our way back to the club and our rooms, it occurred to me what a completely fantastic day this had become. Given the company I was keeping, the fun I was having and the miracle I was witnessing, it was possible this was the all-time Best Wedding Ever. I can’t gush enough.

In the morning, there was a 10AM brunch planned at Karen’s Parent’s friend’s house. Not just any friend though. The woman throwing the party is the very recent widow of the former Comptroller of Anheuser Busch. She is rich. Very Very Very rich. How rich? The mansion next door to hers, which is about 1000 yards down the shore of the lake, belonged to Madame Chang-Kai-Shek. The house was enormous, immaculate, tastefully furnished and possessed of the biggest master bathroom I’ve ever seen. It’s right on the lake (naturally), has a huge 8 column veranda and the whole scene reminds me very much of the large southern plantation mansions I’ve seen in New Orleans. Only it’s got a more colonial feel to it. Every aspect of the house is impeccably designed. And that’s just the main house. The carriage house, complete with originally restored Ford Model-T, is about 2000 square feet by itself as well as the boathouse which has two boat lifts and 2 boats in it, natch. The bartender served us wonderfully made Orange Juilius’s, which I’ve never had before but evidently are Creamsicles in a cup. They beat the hell out of straight OJ for a morning drink with breakfast. The breakfast meal was buffet affair with everything tasting incredible. Special kudos go to the Spinach Fritatta and the Brown Sugar bacon which was deemed ‘Candy Bacon’. At about 1PM, people started to filter out, needing to drive back and catch flights and whatnot. Not me though. I had to start the rest of my weekend!

My plan was to see the sights and foliage that day while the sun was still out and then to do a sweep of poker rooms in New Hampshire (there are some) that night and the next day before my flight home. Everyone I had spoken to recommended the Kancamagus highway as the scenic route through the White Mountains to see some foliage. It’s in the North Central part of the state and only took 45 minutes to get to from where I was. I took a detour first in North Conway because the bride’s father gave me the advice to stop there. It’s a lot like Wolfeboro, in the sense that it’s a tourist destination, but small. I spent an hour or two walking around and hanging out. There was a great railroad station that gave sightseeing rides on an authentic steam train, but the ride would take two hours and I couldn’t do that AND the highway at the same time. So I skipped it and decided to do the drive.

The highway was pretty good, or at least it got that way. The highway itself is about 35 miles long but there isn’t too much to see for the first 15 or 20 miles. Most of the highway is tree-lined, so it blocks most of your view of the mountains. I got out at most of the spots designated “Scenic Views” but for the most part they were just OK. There was a nice brook and some decent mountain views but nothing heart stopping. Later on, though, it got much better. As the altitude increased, the view got more sweeping and majestic and some of the mountain views towards the end were nothing short of spectacular. It’s not the Rockies, granted, but I’m not in Colorado. There was some decent color in the foliage, but you can tell that the peak foliage season isn’t going to be for about another 2 weeks. There were some red colors, some yellow and some orange but not on a vast scale. It’s still mostly green. The ride was still worth it though and it cleared my mind completely.

At the end of the highway, it was time to start playing poker! The nearest destination was the Lodge at Belmont. In New Hampshire, poker parlors are legal if they are registered with the proper state authorities and 35% of the profits go to charity. This results in some higher than normal rakes although I haven’t yet been able to tell what the rake is. There is no No-Limit play and games are of the Florida $2 straight limit variety. However, Omaha/8 is popular (yay!) and the quality of play tends to be really really bad. Tournaments are very popular too, and the main draw, but I didn’t have time in any of the card rooms I visited yet to get into a tournament so I’m sticking to cash. All of the pari-mutuel facilites (horse, harness and greyhound racing) have poker rooms in them. In addition, there are multiple other sites with poker rooms, but not all of them well advertised so I know I’m going to miss a few on this trip. The Lodge at Belmot is a very small poker room (about 10 tables) with awful equipment and awful dealers. When I got there, in their dingy little room, there were 3 tables going. Two of the tables had the nice custom printed chips and one had the crappy gold stamped plastic chips. When I got to the cashier’s cage, I asked for a spot at the cash table and she directed me to the crappy chip table! It seems tournaments are so much more popular than cash, that they used the money on the good chips for them. I played with possibly the worst dealer ever who was slow because she talked to all the players and shuffled her cards so I could see most of the cards from position at seat 10. Awful. She pitched her cards too high and was generally disorganized. The tables were also of a very cheap quality. It was painful to play there. I stayed for about an hour before I could take any more, though I won $20.

Getting in my car, the next room on my list was the Seabrook racetrack in Seabrook, NH. It took about 90 minutes for me to get there, driving in the country night of New England. My GPS didn’t fail me for a minute though. I pulled up at about 9:30PM and took a seat inside at a new Omaha/8 table that was opening up. The tables here are very nice, the chips are professional and the dealers were excellent, though talkative. The room was comfortable, well-lit and there were about 25-30 tables in the place. All in all, a very well-run operation. I cleaned up at Omaha there to the tune of about +88 in 45 minutes. I wish I could have stayed but I had one more room to hit before I could go to bed. I drove another 45 minutes south to Salem, NH where I hit the Rockingham Park track. Again, there were about 30-40 tables in a well-lit room. The tables were about average for a casino and the chips were lower quality than what I’d expect, but the dealers were good and the players were awful to average, so what could I expect? Here’s where I ran into my first problem with this whole “I’m going to see every poker room” experience I’ve set up for myself. The room closes at midnight and I got there at 11:15PM. What if I don’t get on a table? Do I still consider it a visit? Not by the rules I’ve set up for myself which says a visit means one orbit at a raked table. I was second on the list but I got lucky when, 10 minutes later, 3 people busted out in one hand at the Omaha/8 table and opted not to rebuy. We filled the seats quickly and play commenced. Play moved along slowly, especially when 2 asian guys who were sweating each other decided to switch chairs. The dealer caught this and asked the new guy to post as a new player even though he was playing the same stack! Awesome! That took some of the swagger out of the guy but it slowed us down when he argued and the floor had to come over. The place was shutting down and they wouldn’t be open again Monday so I was anxious to get a full orbit in. At this pace though, it was possible I would miss it. When I was two hands away from completing the orbit, the floor announced last hand. Oh no! Someone spoke up though, a regular, and got us an extra hand. The luck continues. Oh yes. On the last hand, which I knew everyone was going to play, I made sure I was fully stacked and called with a junk hand in middle position. I had 5h6hKh9s. Crap, crap and more crap. But I hit a lucky flop when it came 664. I led out the betting and it got capped by the time it came back to me. There was a very good chance I wasn’t good here but the turn came with a 9, giving me the second nuts. I got nervous though, when a guy in front of me led out the betting! I was very worried he had 99, because when I re-raised and it got to him, he capped it out! But the play was so awful that I decided to keep going with it on the off chance he was betting two pair or some other shit like that. The river was an 8 and there was no flush on the board. I now had the third nuts. The betting went the same way on the river and I tabled my sixes full. The guy who was raising had the lock low draw and was betting the come, but he got 6thed when two other people had the same low! Ha ha ha! It was the first hand I had won at the table but it was the monster and it got me back to even for that session. I’m sure, given more time, I’d be able to rock those donkeys.

I didn’t have any set plans that night on where to stay, so when I was dumped on the sidewalk at midnight, I didn’t know where I was going to lay my head. GPS to the rescue again! I dialed in a map of all hotels/motels in the area and got hooked up with a Holiday Inn about a mile away. They tend to rape the walk-ins ($120 a night for a Sunday in Salem, NH?) but that’s the price you pay for spontaneity I guess.

In the morning, I had a slow and decent breakfast in the empty cafĂ© in the hotel and made my way to Nashua. There are three more rooms I have to hit today before my flight at 8PM. Nashua has an Elks lodge run by a place called Sharky’s Poker (they have three locations) and they open at 11. When I got there today at 11, they were setting up and there was no one there! Uh, when do cash games get going? Not ‘til the afternoon usually, was the answer. I called the other two places I had to go in Manchester and they had the same story. Nothing to do but hit a Starbucks and catch up on my blog entries, which is what I’m doing right now. It’s 2:20 PM now. I’m going to go back and see what the deal is. Hopefully, I’ll be able to catch some action.

One last blog entry on this weekend to come good friends!