Tuesday, November 27, 2007

End of the line? – Borgata day 2

After building on my Virginia room success with another $350 in profit the night before, I really felt like I was on top of my game. I was making good reads, betting big when I had it, and getting paid off handsomely. It’s almost like a light has gone off in my head. Somewhere, a trip switched and said to me, “Bet Bigger”. And it’s working. All of the complaints I was having before about my hands never getting paid off are melting away. It’s one thing to read about what big bets do to people’s heads; it’s another to actually put it into action and actually observe. I think somewhere, psychologically, some people just don’t want to believe you. They want to believe in the notion that BIG BET = BLUFF. So they’re willing to call 1.5X pot bets with middle pair because you ‘were probably just playing high cards’. It’s a beautiful thing, really. This realization, even though it’s been in front of me the whole time (Sklansky, Darko, W, etc…), has finally been beaten into my head. I went back last night and read an old post of mine where I talked about a guy sucking out on me when I had two pair and he had a gutshot draw. I was righteously indignant over the affair but I re-read the action I had posted and I totally let him walk into it! The flop was something like KJT and I had top two. There had been a small preflop raise which a few people called and the pot was about $30. I bet out $20, which was somewhat reasonable but a little weak and I got this one caller. The turn was a brick and I bet out another $20. Oh no I didn’t! This guy called and caught his Queen on the river, extracting another $30 out of me. That would SO not happen now. On the turn, I’m shoving hard, like $50 or $60. If he’s gonna draw to a gutshot, he’s gonna pay big. He would have folded what turned out to be A8 and I would have scored.

With this in mind and my recent wins, Darko, Viv and I got up around noon from a fitful night’s sleep. Even after requesting late checkout, we still got woken up by the maids at 10:00AM, 11:30AM AND Noon. Now I understand why W sometimes hangs up signs on the door demanding they don’t knock. We couldn’t make up our minds about what to do in the food department until Darko came up with an elegant solution. Irish Breakfast. The Irish pub in The Quarter served an excellent traditional Irish breakfast of poached eggs, grilled soda bread, excellent soft sausage and iced OJ with French press coffee. Darko, who must have been raised in a barn (or Canada), didn’t hear the waitress when she put the French Press of coffee on our table and told us to wait a few minutes while it seeps before pushing down the plunger and serving it. He was like a monkey who’d been shown the feeding bar. No sooner had the waitress turned and left, his mind said, “Oooh, a toy!”. He pushed the plunger right down and Viv and I shared a pot of vaguely coffee flavored hot water. Darko wasn’t even drinking coffee! This karma would come in handy later when he got spanked at the 2-5 tables but it didn’t help me now when I required liquid caffeine. I was too embarrassed to tell the waitress to bring us another pot. What do you say? “Hi, we’re idiots. Can you go out of your way to dump this and make another?” I was afraid they’d piss in it for fun. The breakfast was great otherwise and it was time to decide what to do with the rest of the day.

Part of me wanted to go. I had housework waiting for me and I was already up nicely on the weekend. Viv wanted to stay. Darko was torn down the middle. He was all set to go when he agreed to at least drive Viv and I to the Borgata on his way out of the city. Along the way, both he and I decided to be gentlemen and at least escort Viv to her table. Ah, what the hell? We’re here. We can play for a bit. Darko played for 2 hours but then really wanted to go (spank-o-rama). It was time to make my decision. I chose…well, you know what I chose. This is a poker blog for crying out loud, not a housework blog.

The decision cost me. Duh.

Evidently, the rack it and run rule applies to the whole weekend. I thought it was just that table!

I sat down at a 1-2 table that had super heavy action on it. Most of the time, when you sit at a 1-2 table with $200, you’re middle stacked. There might be one or two players with 500 or more. There’s a few hovering near $250-$300 and there’s a few shorties at $100 or $65, just hanging on to their original buyin. Not this table though. I bought in for $200 and was the absolute SHORT stack. By about $100, short. One guy had $700+. One woman, who must have been $75 judging by the blinding whiteness of her hair, had $400. A guy with spikey hair, around 27, had $550 or so. He and I would tangle later, so pay attention. I’m getting the lay of the land when I notice an Hispanic guy in Seat 7 aggressively betting. His strategy, it seems, for 8 out of the first 10 hands I saw was this:
1. No matter what the action is, raise PF to double the current pot size.
2. No matter what the flop comes as, bet $100 by carving out a silo from your rack and slamming it angrily on the table.
3. Watch as everyone folds to you and show your sometime good, sometime crappy hand as if to say, “Don’t Fuck with Me”.
4. Rinse and Repeat.

Judging from the scuttlebutt of whispering going on around me, this guy had gone quickly through at least two buyins before this and this was just his standard M.O. until someone finally busted me. I vowed to be that person. But if this was a bakery (or more appropriately a butcher) and we had to take a number from that ticket machine in the butcher’s shops or bakeries, I would have been 87 and they would still be serving number 14. As I was licking my chops amidst this action, I had a few good hands that didn’t quite pan out. AQ suited didn’t flop. Goodbye $25 PF raise! JJ got re-raised twice PF. Goodbye $20 PF call! And so it went. The hardest one was with spikey haired kid. He wasn’t good, and I knew it, but he still managed to take big pots off of me. I had Aqo when I made my standard $20 raise and got 3 callers (spikey haired kid an Mr. Aggro Hispanic guy himself). Flop is A-T-9, rainbow. Here’s my move. I bet $75 because there’s a draw on board and I just want to take it down right there. Hispanic guy folds (damn) and Spikey haired kid calls (ruh-roh). Turn is a brick and I’m out of position. I start thinking of what this guy would flat call an overbet with. Setting up a bluff, maybe. Pair and a gutshot, possibly. Made straight, definitely though I would have popped it hoping my opponent had a set. Set, yes. AK, maybe. None of these possibilities was tantalizing to me. So when the turn came up with a rag, I checked. He checked behind me! Ok, now I’m confused. He either has a made hand in which case why is he not making me pay? Or he’s setting up a bluff which he should have pulled the trigger on. Unless…He was on an OESD. He could have Q8. This started to make more sense as I thought about it. Too bad I hadn’t thought of it sooner because I would have pushed all in with my remaining hundo on the turn instead of letting him see a free card. The river was another T. I checked again and he put me in for my remaining hundred in a very deliberate fashion. I felt I had to call, which in hindsight is awful, but I couldn’t put him on a Ten. Except maybe AT. Why would he call an overbet on the flop with just middle pair? Is he *that* bad? He tabled QT when I finally called and I found out that yes, he is that bad. Of course, he’s bad and he has my chips and that just peeves me.

Given the level of play at the table and the amount of chips and action, you could’ve clocked in milliseconds the amount of time it took me to get a full $300 buyin out of my pocket. I wanted to be fully charged up when I busted some fool.

A little later on, I get cowboys in EP. I raise to $25 PF, which is a bit aggressive at this table which is used to more $15 or $20 PF raises. Spikey boy, sensing my loathing of his hipper-than-thou ways, calls me very slowly and deliberately. We go heads up and the Ace flops with 2 rags, with a flush draw! @#$%^@ A stream of obscenities crosses my mind but I have to c-bet it and represent the Ace, don’t I? So I fire out $50 and he calls me. Grrrr…. The turn completes the flush and now I’m really screwed, except I have a heart King so I’m looking at the nut flush draw. But I’m not really willing to fire a third bullet knowing he could come over the top to put me all in and I’d be pot committed to a draw for all my chips. I hate doing that. So I check, essentially giving up on the pot. He checks behind and now I know he has something. The river is garbage and I check again. He smoothly draws out $100 and pushed it slowly forward and I muck my Kings. What am I going to do there? The last time he bet $100 on the river, he had a hand. I have to imagine he had an Ace and he wasn’t going to let it go. My heart is on tilt at this point but my mind is completely at ease. My time will come, I tell myself. My time will come.

Meanwhile, Hispanic guy has settled down and isn’t playing too much maniac anymore, preferring to sit on his now $1100 stack. I go to the bathroom to freshen up and when I come back, the seat to my left is being occupied by a brand new player. He’s about 65, Irish with snow white hair, wrinkly hands, a cap, but a strong demeanor. His first hand at the table, he raises to $25. Another maniac, everyone thinks? I have 37o, so I won’t find out myself but maybe he’ll expose his cards or he’ll go to showdown? Well, Hispanic guy wakes up and calls the raise PF. The flop is K74. Irish guy bets $55 and Hispanic guy moves all in with a flourish. Irish guy calls quickly and shows Rockets. Hispanic guy? J7. Don’t even think about it. Irish guy won and doubled up to $450 on his first hand played. Maybe the suckout genie was downstairs getting a Fatburger? The next hand, Irish guy raises PF to $25 again. This time he gets 3 callers. The flop is AJT. Irish guy checks. Hispanic guy bets his usual $100. It folds around to Irish guy who min-raises. Hispanic guy moves all in by shoving his rack forward. Irish guy calls just as quick as last hand. Hispanic guy tables JT for bottom two pair. Irish guy? Rockets. Again. Holy crap. Just like that, Irish guy has gone from 200 to 950 in 2 hands off of the same maniac. 4 hands later, I shit you not, Irish guy felts the Hispanic guy for his last $250 with pocket Rockets. 6 hands, 10 minutes, $1200. The rest of the table is, at the same time, awed and pissed. Awed that so much luck should befall one person in such a short span of time. Pissed because Irish guy was brand new to the table and did not DESERVE to felt loose Hispanic guy. We, the poor folks slogging it out waiting for the perfect hand, were more in need of those chips. We were working for them. This guy was nothing but a poker carpetbagger. He stayed another 30 minutes, playing tight as a drum and then left with about $1300.

One anecdote about Irish guy. I didn’t have any whites on me to post the BB and Irish guy gave me a stack of his whites in exchange for a redbird. “These are lucky,” he told me. I look down at the cards I’ve been dealt that hand? AA. Oh. My. God. Of course, as luck would have it, this was the single limped hand of the session, with nearly the whole table coming in for just $2 each. When it got to my option, the dealer nearly assumed I was going to check and counted out three cards quickly. He was about to flop them before I said, “Wait! I don’t want to check”. Fucking dealer. Because he forced me to say something, he ruined any chance I had of getting anyone to call. Anyone who makes that much of an effort to stop the dealer from acting isn’t trying to steal blinds. He’s got something. I popped it to $20, knowing only a strong, but doomed, hand could call and everyone went bye bye. Crapola.

Well, Hispanic guy never rebought and Irish guy left with him, but spikey hair was still there. In fact, his girlfriend (hot and better at poker than him) sat down next to him. He had gotten felted by someone else and rebought for 300. I was waiting for my hand, just waiting, when I got KJ in EP. It was the first paint-paint I’d seen in a while and even though it’s marginal, I decided to try it out. I raised PF to $12, getting four callers and Spokey hair. Flop was 89T, rainbow. I had an OESD and the overcards. What I needed to do, was find out where I was and simultaneously drive out any Queens. I wasn’t worried about a Queen hitting (I was desperately hoping for it actually, but I thought if I get rid of a Queen then my Jack might be good if it comes on the turn! So I bet $30 into a $60 pot. Top pair might call here but I couldn’t see anything else except a monster calling. I’m obviously going to fold to a big reraise in this case but it never came. In fact, everyone folded except for…Spikey hair. Please, God, just this once, give me a Queen and let me bust this bastard! Turn = Qd. W00t! Nut straight. There were two diamonds on board now but I wasn’t worried about his runner runner straight possibilities. I was worried about extracting the most money from him! In my best case scenario, he has a Jack and he believes his straight is good. Or he’s got a set or top two pair. I bet $50, which is practically begging him to re-raise and he obliged by putting $100 more in. Yay! I shoved all in and he called quickly. I showed my KJ and he showed…KJ. Goddamit! Can’t I EVER bust this guy? Then I noticed it. My heart stopped. He had KdJd. Not only did he have the absolute nuts, same as me, he also had the flush draw! The dealer called out, “Free-rolling for the diamond!” and I shot him the dirtiest look. Spikey haired kid said, “C’mon diamond”. His annoyingly hot girlfriend actually CROSSED HER FINGERS and said, “C’mon honey. A diamond!”. I wanted to shoot them all. Twice. I suffered a mini-heart attack as the dealer very slowly exposed the river but it was the 5h and all was right in the world. It was the hardest $25 I’ve ever made.

I was down about $300 at this point for the day. A far cry from the $350 I was up when I went to sleep the night before. But, as luck would have it, I was able to earn some of it back. With 55, I got into a pot against a raiser to my left for $12. Four other people were in. Flop was A75 with two spades. I check, knowing a big Ace is going to come out swinging. The original raiser bets out $30. Ding! Fish on the line! It folds around to me and I hesitate, purposefully. After some Hollywood, I put $60 on top. That’s about half his remaining stack, enough to pot commit him to this. He must have me on a flush draw because he pushes all in and I insta-call. He has AT (!) with not a spade in sight. Really? AT? You thought that was the winning hand? He’s got top pair and he nearly scares me to death when an Ace turns! “There’s my Ace!”, he shouts, pumping his fist in victory. With all the noise, it took me a few seconds to remember that I still had the winning hand with the fives full vs. his trip Aces. But now he had a WHOLE bunch of redraws for the bigger boat. But the poker gods, while cruel, aren’t THAT bad. The river was a brick and I took his entire shortish stack. Yay!

I finished the day down $190 but still up $160 for the trip. The ride home with Viv on the bus was blissfully uneventful and my pillow at home had never been so inviting. Tomorrow would be League Tournaments, but for now, I was happy and victorious.

Keep it rolling baby – Day 1 at the Borgata

After my take down at the Virginia Room, I was on cloud nine. There’s nothing like slicing off a big chunk to make you feel invincible. The adrenaline was so high that I couldn’t quite get to sleep, even though I knew that Darko, Viv and I were scheduled to go down to AC Saturday morning. Well, I finally crashed at about 6:00AM (I had gotten home at about 3:00AM) and I paid for it in the morning. Darko called me at 11:00AM to tell me to drag my ass up and get over to his place pronto. I lurched into the shower, packed an overnight bag, and hoofed it to BPC where I found Viv and Darko in his truck, waiting for my arrival. Viv was driving because Darko was even more tired than I was, having been in AC Wed., Thur. and Fri., driving back to the city Friday night to play in the Virginia room and making the return trip Saturday morning!

Driving down was relatively uneventful except for when Darko missed the turn onto the AC Expressway and we found ourselves on our way to Philadelphia. We only realized it because we weren’t seeing billboards garishly advertising the latest 70’s rock icon comeback. I love you Air Supply opening for Peter Frampton! We got to the Trop, where we had booked a room and checked in. Some smooth talking was required, but we got a room in the Havanah tower at the regular rate, which put us a quick elevator ride away from the parking lot. We were a bit famished, having not eaten anything (the Cheesequake cinnabon doesn’t count, dammit!) so we had lunch at Cuban Libre in The Quarter. We got 3 different sandwiches, cut into thirds so everyone could play nice, and I have to say they were quite tasty. At the end of our meal we all looked at each other and it wasn’t pretty. Our eyes were sagging. Our speech was listless. “Nap time?”. We had a solid 2 hours of sleep before getting up to drive to the Borgata. And it came in quite handy, knowing we were going to be out very late.

I was dreading going to the Borgata, actually. The last few times I’ve been there on Saturday nights, the wait to get on a table was huge. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that this time, there was open seating available. I was seated immediately at a 1-2 table next to the cage and Viv and Darko went to seek out the 2-5 tables. Not for me yet, thanks. The action at my table was pretty good for the first 2 hours or so but I wasn’t able to take much advantage. I had bought in for 200 and my stack was whittling away slowly but surely. There were at least 5 or 6 very weak players at my table and I wanted a piece of their stacks very badly. There was also an older gentlemen who, I swear, was a dead ringer for my best friend’s father. It threw me off a bit because he had a very standard continuation betting patter that seemed to work for him and I couldn’t catch him in the act. He bet me off a few hands where I had high cards, bet out, the flop missed and he bet out of position. It pissed me off though, because the few times he showed down he hardly ever had the nuts. Pretty soon, after a few bets and then folds, my 200 stack was down to 65 and I started playing looser and dumber.

Which is how I won my money back. I’m not proud of it, for sure, but here’s what happened. I’m in MP with Qh5h and I limp. The button, a semi-aggressive older Chinese man, raises to 6 on the button. This is very standard for him and the $4 raise doesn’t drive anyone out. There are 9 (!) callers in the pot when it gets around to the short stack at the table who decides that he’s going to put his last 15 in the pot. Again, everyone calls and no one re-raises so I keep myself in even though I should have been out to the $2 limp! Flop is 2s3s6h. It checks around to another semi-aggro guy who bets out 25. Pot it about 120 at this point so this is a VERY weak bet. The guy to my right calls the 25 and it comes to me. I have 48 behind me and it’s 25 to call in a pot of about 150. I should push here since I want to see both the turn and river (keeping 23 behind me is kind of useless) but I just call, making myself absolutely pot committed to this pot. My thinking was that I have a gutshot, runner runner flush draw possibilities and my Queen my even win. That’s all highly unlikely, I know. Please don’t berate my donkey play. In hindsight, it’s a good think I just called because a few other people called as well with the excellent money now in. The turn was the single best card in the deck for me. 4h. I made not only my gutshot straight, but also the redraw for the flush in case someone has 57 for the nut straight (insanely unlikely though that is). It checks to me and I put my last 23 in the pot. I get one caller who’s probably on a spade flush draw and the river in a brick, winning me the pot. The total pot is $290 and I’m now UP $90 on my crazy lucky play.

I immediately count my blessings and tighten up, vowing to try to use my knowledge of the table to build this stack. Which serves me poorly when my KdTd flops a flush about 10 hands later! That’s good, right? I bet out $25 into a $18 pot and get two callers. They MUST be on a flush draw right? One of them MUST have the Ace, right? Well, the turn is a Diamond. Curse my luck now. It checks all the way around. Yay, they’re not on a diamond draw! River is a brick and I value bet $25, having already shown fear of the 4th diamond. I get one caller and then the old man who looks like my friend’s father, and is the luckbox big stack at the table, min-raises me! Crap. At this point, though, I’m getting 6-1 on my money to call and I have to see him down. The other guy folds after I call. He knows his Qd is no good. Old man shows the inevitable Ad5h for the win. Grrrr… I’m gunning for you old man!

Turns out I won’t get the chance because the old Chinese man felts my friend’s father’s doppleganger in a 4 hands with a string of big boats vs. flushes and the like. Doppleganger skulks away and my eyes move over my old chips, now in someone else’s stack, like Jack the Ripper stalking his next victim. My time came when I was finally able to use my knowledge to my advantage. I had seen old Chinese Man raise and show down middle pairs a lot. He would call bets with them and profited handsomely when he would sometimes make two pair against TPTK. This hand, I had TT in EP. I limp and OCM raises to his standard 7. About 5 people call, including me, and the flop comes down T97 with two spades. This is a DANGEROUS board for me. There is a made straight out there and/or a flush draw. I would like to see where I’m at though, with top set, and I bet out $25. With such a dangerous looking board, only a draw can call me her. The made straight is going to pop it BIG because he’s afraid of the flush draw. In that case, this might be one of the few times I’d be able to lay down top set. The reason is that if I’m drawing against a made straight AND a flush draw, my odds of winning on a redraw are drastically reduced. The good news is that only OCM man called me. Yay! The turn is a red 9, boating me up. I’m only dead to pocket 9’s now and second nuts is a damn good place to be. Given his betting pattern, he is either on a draw, in which case a value bet is going to get called because he thinks he has outs (sucker), or he has the 9, in which case he’s going to raise my value bet and I’m going to get P.A.I.D. So I bet another $25 value bet. Sure enough, he comes over the top to $100. Ding! We have a fish on the line! I take a page from Darko’s book and start doing some Hollywood. I want to represent AT so I start acting like I’m frustrated the 9 came up. I look down at my stack, which is 188. I look over at the cards. I mouth the ‘F’ word to myself. I’m making sure OCM sees all of this. After about 30-45 seconds of this, I say to him, “If you have it, you have it” and I push all in for $113 more. He pushes away from the table in disgust. He was NOT expecting this at all. Uh-oh. Is he on a bluff? Am I not getting any more money. He looks down at his cards, looks up at the pot again and calls, flipping over J9. Ah, now I see. He was worried about his kicker on the 9. I turn over TT and he’s stunned. He has to look at the board about 4 or 5 times before the dealer can deal the river. A guy two seats to my right says, “Don’t worry, you’re fine.” LOL! He bought into my act that I was worried I was going to lose. To what, you donkey? Quad 9’s?!?! What an idiot. The river is not the case 9 (What a surprise!) and the dealer pushes me the large pot. Just like that, I’m up to $550 from my initial $200. Yay poker!

It’s 2AM and it’s a cinch we’re going to play until 5AM or later, but I do the smart thing for once in my life and follow PP’s ‘rack and run’ rule. The rule there is that if you win a rack of chips, you run. You can always buy in to another table with just $200, keeping your profit in your pocket. It’s a good rule, just one that’s hard to follow. But follow it I did. I picked up after I played UTG and said my good night’s. The rest of the evening, I played railbird to Viv and Darko on the 2-5 table and also played some table games to kill time. Normally I’m a Pai-Gow guy but Borgata’s limits are $40 minimum for Pai-gow. Which is why I was excited when I saw a new table game called Asia Poker that had a $20 minimum! Ah, this is the game for me I thought. It’s quite easy, being essentially a Pai-Gow variation. The main difference in the game is that instead of setting a 5 card hand and a 2 card hand, like Pai-gow, you’re setting a 4-card hand, a 2-card hand and a 1-card hand. As in Pai-gow, the hands with more cards have to be higher in rank that the hands with less cards. The other wrinkle is that there is no pushing in this game. You always win $20 or lose $20 (no commission though). In order to win, you have to beat the dealer on two out of your three hands. That’s the game. I played for about an hour on $100, and had a great time. I got crushed on a few hands I thought were strong when the dealer made ridiculous hands. How does Quad Aces sound to you? Ouch.

Viv and Darko were playing at the 2-5 table after I lost my $100 to Asia Poker. Viv, who had lost a buyin already, had built her next buyin into a big stack. It was about 4AM or so and I was unfortunately witness to brutality. After winning back both her buyins and spending all evening to claw back to even, Viv gets dealt rockets in LP. She’s already built a loose table image so no one think twice when she puts out a big raise when it gets to her. A guy in the BB re-raises her. She pops it right back and he moves all in. I already know in my head that it’s AA vs. KK. The question I have is, who has which. I haven’t seen Viv’s cards yet and I’m VERY happy when she calls and shows the Aces. Her opponent tables the Kings and everyone stands for the $1300+ pot. The flop is harmless, the turn is harmless. Viv’s opponent starts stacking his chips. The river is the dreaded cowboy. The whole table, even her opponent, explodes with a sympathetic cry. OOOOHHHHHHHHH! Viv looked a bit defeated. She needed to avoid an 80/20 loss in order to be up $700+ two days in a row. Instead, she’s about even, maybe a little ahead, for her two nights of poker. All in the space of 10 seconds. Poker is a brutal sport. Nasty and brutish. We called it quits after that and headed back to the Trop for some well deserved rest.

Virginia is for bluffers

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

Ok then.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanksgiving dinner: What a turkey

You know out there, gentle readers, that I’m understandably nervous about my surgery. It’s the first time in my life that I’m going under the knife for something relatively major. I’ve only had one other surgery before, a Septoplasty to correct a deviated septum. And that didn’t work. So in this context, when Thanksgiving dinner plans were being made, I decided NOT to go out to my cousin’s house in Merrick for our usual family soiree. Instead I decided I didn’t want the hassle of traveleing and that spending a quiet evening in the city would be preferable.

After making my apologies to my cousins, I set my mind to thinking what exactly I would do for this uniquely American evening. My mind drew a big fat blank. All of my friends had plans with family (duh). Those that didn’t that might invite me into their homes had plans out of the city, which kind of defeats the purpose of my plan. So I resigned myself to a quiet evening at P.J. Clarkes, alone, with a plate of turkey and stuffing and a good book. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, although some may find it sad. The truth of the matter, for myself, is that I never minded eating alone. Or seeing movies alone. I entertain myself very well and I’m my own best friend, when it comes right down to it. I just need to fight the urge to talk to myself and all will be well.

Then my sister-in-law got sick and everything changed.

My brother Darren, and his wife Karen, were scheduled to take a week long trip to Costa Rica during the Thanksgiving Week. Everything was set to go and about 4 days before they left, Karen had an attack of Colitis. Or is it Crohn’s? I forget which, but suffice it to say that traveling was out of the question. So my brother, the dutiful husband, canceled the entirety of the trip. Since they were going to be away, they didn’t have any plans for Thanksgiving either. So naturally, Darren rang me up and suggested we go together to a nice dinner out. Now, it should be noted, that when Darren and Karen say ‘nice’, what they mean is ‘expensive’. I agreed, in principle, that this would be a good idea and they scurried off to do research into good (expensive) restaurants serving Thanksgiving meals.

A few days later, they had settled on Arabelle in the Hotel Plaza Athenee at Madison and 64th street. The menu was Prix Fixe for $110. Initially, I was shocked. $110 for turkey and stuffing?!?! Are you kidding me? But Darren soothed me over by pointing out that the atmosphere was world class and the kitchen has a 25 food rating from Zagat. I imagined fanciful versions of the standard Thanksgiving day staples. Who knows what the chefs might come up with? Truffled turkey legs? Cranberry reduction sauces? Quail eggs on a pillow of stuffing, dotted with shitaki mushrooms and drizzled in an elegant lime dressing? The possibilities seemed endless. But still I hesitated. With wine and drinks, the tabe was going to approach $150 without breaking a sweat. Meanwhile, dinner at P.J. Clarkes, with a good book, would be $34.95. Darren, sensing my hesitation, brought out the ultimate trump card. “But you’ll be with family”. Damned guilt trips. So I hopped on board of the idea with an open, yet slightly skeptical, mind.

The night of Thanksgiving came, and I dressed up quite nattily in a suit and tie, intending to look quite sharp when I saw my brother. He had asked me kindly to dress up, like I needed the suggestion, and I obliged in great fashion. It kind of bothers me sometimes to go to a fancy shmancy five start restaurant, dress up accordingly, and then find that other patrons have come in jeans. Which is exactly the case here. Most of the diners were dressed appropriately, including my family and their friend Alex who joined us, but there was a conspicuous group seated in the middle of the restaurant dressed like they were at T.G.I Friday’s. Please, people. This isn’t about being snobbish, mind you. This is about getting my money’s worth, dammit! I’m paying for an experience! Of course, this happens to be somewhat contradictory to my policy of ‘dress how you feel at the Opera’, but I attribute the difference in attitude to the fact that Opera is cultural enhancement that shouldn’t be kept from the masses while this is dinner where I’m stuffing my face. So there, I win.

We were seated amidst a beautiful table setting. Instead of traditional centerpieces, the restaurant had strewn leaves of fall colors, fresh cranberries and walnuts and small gourds along with votive candles. It was very pretty and just what I’d hoped for. It was with great anticipation that I received the menu. I had seen it online already and been slightly disappointed, but I was hoping the elegant setting would color my perspective. It didn’t. No matter how much I tried to convince myself, the menu consisted of 3 choices of appetizers, 3 choices of entrée and 3 choices of dessert. That was it. No garnishes, no special touches and no quail eggs. In fact, the menu was downright pedestrian. Well, I thought, perhaps the ingredients will be top notch. The waiter came to take our order and I had the Butternut Squash soup with Duck Confit, the Turkey w/traditional accompaniments for my entrée and the pecan tart for dessert. Simple and hopefully tasty. The waiter left and a man came with a tray of rolls for our selection. I had the cranberry walnut. He placed it on my plate and I gingerly picked it up. It wasn’t warm. Strike one. Rule #37 of fancy restaurants: Bread should be served warm, especially dinner rolls. Another tip, although not strictly necessary, is that hotel butter should be made with fruit or some sort of herb rather than served plain. It’s just better that way. I ordered Pellegrino water for the table (I find mineral water better than tap when eating heavy meals) and the waiter came to serve it with flair. That guy with the water bottle was the best thing about the whole meal. My glass was always full without my even noticing. Too bad the regular waitress wasn’t quite as attentive. It too a little while for her to come and take our order and once the food came, she didn’t come by ONCE to see how things were going.

The soup came. First Course. Okay then. This was going to set the tone of the meal for the rest of the night. The wide soup bowl was presented in front of me and I bent my head down to smell it. The heat of the bowl rose up to my nose and I inhaled deeply. It smelled like…nothing really. There wasn’t the fragrant aroma of squash, cinnamon or even smoked duck. It just smelled like some sort of hot liquid. The first taste of the soup confirmed why this was. The soup had been overcooked. Badly. I blew on it to cool it down and took my first real taste. As expected with overcooked soup, the flavor was dead. My spoon went down to take the next batch to taste and the bottom of the spoon hit the bottom of the bowl with a clank. Are you kidding me? The bowl was shallow as hell and the kitchen had put maybe two ladles of soup in. At $110, I expect to get more soup than I could comfortably eat, dammit. But considering how badly they’d botched it, I didn’t even bother asking for a second bowl. The duck in the soup was an odd touch but not entirely unwelcome. The smokiness of the duck, which was cooked perfectly, would have complemented the squash very well, if I could only taste the squash.

The soup bowls were cleared and the four of us were having a very nice conversation. We had sat down at the dinner table at 6:00 PM and the restaurant was relatively empty when we arrived. Most of the dinner reservations were for 7:30 or later and the place was just starting to fill up. So we were somewhat annoyed when it took more than 15 minutes after the soup was gone for us to get our entrée. We didn’t mind too much as we wanted the pace of the night to be relaxed, but we were hungry regardless. The roll guy came again and we had some more room temperature bread. Like clockwork, the water guy came to fill our glass, like a water gnome that only shows up when you’re asleep. Finally our meal arrived. The buildup was enormous in my mind. I imagined the best Thanksgiving meals of years past. Shredded turkey meat carved right off the breast, heaps of freshly made mushroom stuffing, mounds of fresh cranberry sauce (or even the yummy canned variety) and gravy pulled right from the pan. The plate was set before me and I nearly cried. The two slices of turkey, while sizeable, were sliced so cleanly that they looked like processed turkey you get in a package at the deli. The gravy was a thick paste that I swear came from a can. The stuffing was a disc shaped patty of some baked thing that had a hard crust. A crust?! On Stuffing?!?! WTF?! And the capper was the cranberry sauce. The entirety of the tart cranberry sauce, which seemed to be homemade (good), was served inside an upside down mushroom cap (Bad. Very bad.). Literally a mushroom cap. Not even a shitake mushroom or some other large variety. But your average 1” mushroom cap. I imagined the chef in the kitchen ladling out the cranberry sauce onto each cap with the Thimble game-piece from Monopoly. “Not too much, Luigi!”. I was hungry, true, but supremely disappointed. I tucked into the food with as much enthusiasm as I could muster, but each bite just confirmed what my eyes and nose told me. THIS. FOOD. SUCKS.

I didn’t want to spoil the mood by complaining and I didn’t. Perhaps the whole experience could be salvaged by a sublime dessert? It’s possible. I mean it would have to be kick ass dessert. I was expecting nothing less than Heidi Klum herself stripping down naked and lying down on the table while we ate chocolate sauce covered cake off of her flawless body. But I was sure at this point that they would screw that up too. “Sorry we couldn’t get Heidi Klum. Instead, we got Heidi Fleiss”. Dessert came and I looked down at my pecan tart. It was a 4 inch round disc of standard pie pastry shell and a hard pecan filling inside. It looked EXACTLY like the tarts served at Financier, the local high-end Patisserie downtown. I like Financier, don’t get me wrong, but they charge $4.50 for this tart and this place is charging about $22 (I’m weighting the meal as (20/60/20 Appetizer/Entrée/Dessert) not including tax and tip. We had gotten coffee with the dessert as well, which was not too bad and we made the best of our rather awful dessert. At one point, I was gutting off a chunk of the tart with the edge of my spoon and the damn thing slid off the plate and nearly knocked over my water glass (Full. Thanks Juan!). Desert is not supposed to slide. EVER. Even the plate was poorly garnished, with nothing but a small dusting of powdered sugar to keep our mind off of the fact that we’d gotten royally ripped off. But, trust me, the biggest rip-off was yet to come.

You’ve heard about this awful meal, whose cheap ingredients and shoddy preparation were only made bearable by the good company of family and friends. Yes, it was $110 prix fixe. Yes, I could have gotten the same or better meal for much less in about 10,000 other places. But I kind of knew going in what the cost was going to be, even if I’d hoped the food would compensate. So when the bill came, my brother, who’d chosen the restaurant, stared in open mouthed disbelief.

“What’s wrong?,” I asked.
“They charged us for the water and coffee,” he exclaimed.
“Well, that’s normal.”, I said. Even if I think charging for coffee in a prix fixe situation is a bit much. But his voice was expressing more shock than just standard sticker shock. I’ve known my brother all my life and the attitude in the inflection of his voice was a bit of bewildered resignation than anything else. I got worried.
“What else did they charge us for? What are you looking at?”, I asked a bit worried myself.
“The water was $12 a bottle,” he informed me.

Ah, that Juan. The clever gnome was refilling our glasses without asking us and charging $12 a liter for something that can be purchased around the corner for $1.99. We had had 3 bottles it turns out.

“Is that it?”, I asked.
“No,” my brother replied, oddly calm. “They dinged us for, are you ready, $9 for each cup of coffee.”

And that, gentle readers, is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Outside I was calm and of a single purpose. Inside, I was a puddle of melted organs and bottled frustrations. Coffee, if you recall, is an ancient drink in which berries of a certain plant are roasted until they’re hard and black and then crushed into a powder. Then, boiling hot water is strained through this powder and served with cream and sugar. That’s it. Nothing more. No gold leafed sugar cubes melted in this mixture. No meticulous preparation by Swedish ‘coffee chefs’ flown in by private jet. The coffee wasn’t even served on fine china. Just a cup of coffee. $9.00. Starbucks, which is the biggest ripoff ever perpetrated on mankind (I’m a Dunkin Donuts guy), doesn’t even have the nerve to charge $9.00 a cup for even their biggest size of coffee made with beans flown in from Sumatra!

Somewhere in this god-forsaken world is a man with no conscience. This man’s job, at some point, was to determine the amount of money to charge for a cup of coffee at Arabelle. Someone was making up the prices and they asked this man, who was standing up, what they should charge for water filtered through crushed roasted beans. This man, who was standing at the time, said $9.00. No more, no less. The other man looked up at this man, who was standing, and asked if he had heard correctly. $9.00? Isn’t that a bit excessive? Oh, I get it, he said aloud. $9.00 is for unlimited cups. The standing man looked down his nose at the other man and said “No. That’s per cup”. Somewhere in this world, this man is still standing up. He hasn’t sat down once since this decision and his legs ache every day. Why, you ask? Why hasn’t this man sat down to rest his body. Because that man has THE BIGGEST BALLS IN THE WORLD!
Final tally per person for Thanksgiving ‘dinner’: $170.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Smells like bacon

I visited the CrackHouse Wed. night for some .50/1 NL action. Dawn sets a nice table even if it can be a little haphazard at times. I forgive her, being gimpy and all. I mean, really, did you SEE her foot? (Not for the faint of heart).
I got home from work relatively early because it was a shortish day before Thanksgiving. I laid down on my couch for a short nap at 5:15 and didn’t get up until 3 hours later, and then only because I was woken by a phone call. I was in a woozy state because of the extended sleep and I heard an unfamiliar voice on the other end of the line.

“Hello, Jamie?” “Yes? Who is this?” “Hi, this is Laura.”

Now, even in my hazy state of mind, I knew that I didn’t know a Laura. The only Laura I remember, for that matter, is a cute girl from Camp Scatico I knew back when I was 9. Could she have tracked me down? If so, how did she get my number? And is she as hot as I think she’d grow up to be? Will she go to bed with me on our first date? Am I in a monogamous relationship now? What’s my name?

The woozie questions my mind invented were endless but lasted all of two seconds.
“Hi. Uh, who are you?” “I don’t know if you remember me, but we met at Cathy and Steve’s wedding. Do you remember, we danced?”

My woozieness started to clear up and I recalled that Cathy and Steve were the names of two friends of mine who I hadn’t spoken to since I had gotten married back in Sept. 2000. I was the best man at Steve’s wedding but I got enormously insulted when he declined to attend my wedding at all, opting instead to use another friend’s 30th birthday party as an excuse. He had gotten offended that I didn’t invite him into my wedding party, but the truth is that the wedding party was very small and limited only to some family members and two friends of mine I’d known for 14 and 21 years respectively. My own brothers wives weren’t in my wedding party! Anyway, back at Steve’s wedding, I had cut the rug something fierce with this lithsome woman, whose name I don’t think I could possibly have remembered until she called me up and told me, but I do remember that I had gotten her number. I remember this because I didn’t have any paper and I was way too early in my career (I was about 23 at the time) to have business cards to write on, so I put her number on the very edge of a packet of Equal. For a few days I rode around in my car with that packet of Equal in the cupholder, just staring me in the face. But I didn’t have the courage to call, for some reason. A few weeks later, I was deeply in love with the woman who would eventually become my wife and the point was moot. Besides, a drop of coffee had fallen on the packet of Equal and smudged the number.

So it was with great confusion that this moment from my past would call me up out of the clear blue sky. She was very nice, meaning no disrespect to what could be my current wife or girlfriend. She just wanted to know if I was single and wanted to get a cup of coffee sometime. I seriously doubt I would do it, but I couldn’t let her down right there and then because I had to leave the house to go play poker and I hadn’t talked with Laura more than 5 minutes. And it wasn’t even talking really considering I was just getting up! So I told her to call me after the holidays when we could properly catch up and I went to go get ready for some CrackHouse action. But yeah, I still got it baby.

I hopped a cab on Water Street and I was at Dawn’s place in 20 minutes flat. It was 8:50PM, and the time called for was 8:30PM. I’m normally right on time, when I then proceed to cool my heels while everyone else is late, so I didn’t feel bad about the 20 minute late entrance. I had even brought a gift (An unopened 2 pack of KEM cards) to smooth things over. I was shocked then to discover that I was only the 4th person to arrive! Mary, Kearns, Dawn and Jordan were all hanging out, playing some game for play money. Dawn announced that we would start cash once six people arrived and then, almost on cue, in walked CK and F-Train! Now loyal readers of my blog know that it’s been a long time and I’ve never been able to meet the F-Train. Well, tonight was my night. A quality guy, no question, and CK seems very happy with him so that makes me happy. One thing I will say though; his voice was much higher in pitch than I had anticipated. Don’t read anything into that. I’m just saying.

Cards were in the air for .50/1 ($50 max buyin) and almost everyone bought in for the max. Action started right away. I was dealt QhJh in the cutoff. Dawn, UTG, raised to $3. Jordan re-raised to $7. This is the first hand of the first deal! I had enough sense to throw away my QJ. Dawn called and the flop came down QJ8 with two spades. Wow, really? Top two? Thank you God, for really messing with my head! Dawn bets out and Jordan comes over the top BIG. Dawn moves all in. Jordan, with about $11 behind him at this point, is obligated to call and he turns over KK. Dawn has 88 for the flopped straight. Well, I guess the QJ laydown was pretty damned good then, no? The turn is a brick and the river is a King! Jordan doubles up on the re-suckout and Dawn seems like an instantly broken woman, having to rebuy on the second hand at her own game after losing to a two outer. Dawn, my dear, I feel for you.

The game went on for hours with lots of action hands just like the one I’ve described. My personal favorite was when I was dealt KsJs UTG and I opened for a $3 raise. I got three callers and the flop was Ad-Kd-Jh. I bet out $15 with bottom two, a sizeable raise, and RonLad (Karol’s aggressive younger brother) smooth called. Phil, at the other end of the table, moved all in for $31 on top. I was sick to my stomach. I had a good hand, a very good hand, but what was I beating? A smooth call into an aggressive bet and an all-in afterwards indicate monster hands. But RonLad is known to be very aggressive and loose and he could be just on a flush draw. Phil had just sat down three hands ago and was a completely unknown quantity to me. But my instincts got the better of me and I folded, knowing at best I could beat someone who was overplaying a single pair and that two players doing that was unlikely. RonLad, after a whole bunch of agonizing, laid down his hand and Phil flashed his QT for the flopped Broadway. I whispered a silent prayer to the gods and then watched in horror as Dawn ran the turn and the river. The river was a Jack, completing my boat. Damn you Dawn! I have to think there’s no way she didn’t do that to me on purpose! Devil woman.

I made one great play in the night and one lucky read. First, the lucky read. I had 44 UTG. I had been getting lots of pockets pairs (probably 13 or 14) but only made one set. CK had just loudly called me a “pussy” for some reason or another. Oh yeah, I didn’t re-re-straddle after she re-straddled to $4. Anyway, I grabbed the opportunity to pretend I was playing trash when I bet out $17 UTG into the blinds and straddles. It was kind of stupid, considering 44 is not exactly a monster, but only Ari came in, and it was for a raise. She made a min-raise to $30 and I thought about it. If she’s got a big overpair, why isn’t she putting me all in? I only have $25 or so behind. This is where I made the read on two high cards. Specifically, AK or AQ. I called, knowing a low flop could win the whole pot for me on the off chance I could scare her away with my remaining $12 bullet. Probably not, but stranger things have happened. Anyway, the flop WAS low. 8-6-2. I moved all in for my $12, knowing there wasn’t any way she could have hit that. But instead of laying down, she called (properly most likely). The tension was thick as I fought for an $80 pot with nothing but a pair of 4’s. The turn and river were both low bricks and she didn’t show right away. Eventually, I sheepishly turned up my pocket 4’s and she flashed AK (whew) before mucking. W00t!

The great play was inspired by something I saw Phil Ivey do in High Stakes Poker. I was dealt 6c7s in MP. RonLad led the betting out to UTG $6 on my big blind. It folded around to CK who called with a look on her face that said, “let’s see what the flop brings”. If she hadn’t come in, I insta-muck. But her money now gives me some pot odds and, more importantly, a read that both players might be playing high cards. Again, if the flop comes low, I could make good money. So I called with th $1 discount. The flop was NOT low. KQ8. Uh, bad. CK checked. I deliberately hesitated before checking and RonLad checked. Whoo, free card! The turn was a Queen, pairing the board. Okay, if no one has anything, then the turn doesn’t do much. But if I can keep up the charade that I might be slowplaying something, then I might be able to see another free card. CK checked and I know she has nothing. Again, I hesitated slightly as if I was contemplating a bet but checked. RonLad also checked. Yay, another free card! The river was a 6. Here was the card I wanted, but I’m still not sitting on a monster. CK checked and I lost heart to bet it so I checked and RonLad picked up $20 and threw it in the pot. Here’s the problem though. Since the board paired, my 7 kicker doesn’t play in my two pair. Instead, the King on board plays. So there’s an excellent chance that even if RonLad had a six, somehow, we’d chop. Or it could be a high card bluff. So when I called and he said, “Ace high”, I felt gratified. He even paid the rare complement of, “nice call”. He had taken a big off me earlier so I was just getting it back, but thanks.

Anyway, that’s all the action that I remember. Things slowed down considerably when more people came and we were forced to break our full table into two short tables of 7 each. As people busted or got tired, the whole thing broke up quickly and I shared a cab home with F-Train, CK and Jordan. A fine group of people that I’m proud to be associated with.
More games are coming up before my surgery at WSP. I can’t wait. Then my gall bladder gets yanked (Dec. 5th), I convalesce for 2 weeks and then it’s off to Vegas!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanks for Giving

Pre-Thanksgiving tourneys were wonderful tonight. My cleaning lady did a wonderful job this morning making the Wall Street Poker room look all sparkly (sparkly is good) and everyone was in very good spirits. Even CK managed to extricate herself from work to join in the fun! The Slayer brought his girl Rachel, who was very game to try this tournament thing, even if she was pretty self-conscious about playing. Don’t sweat it Rachel! We’ve all been there at one time, I promise. E came along for the ride too, ostensibly to help me pick locations for my four new lithographs I bought on my birthday (August 12th rocks!). But after about an hour of just hanging out on the couch, watching basketball on mute, even the most patient girl has to call it a night. It’s up to you Wall Street Crew. We have to find a way to make E interested in this game., because I like this one and I really don’t want to have to make a hard choice! :-)

The first tourney had nothing going for me. Slayer, in typical fashion, kept drawing out on me. I gave up about half my chips to him early on when my AT flopped 984, rainbow. It checked all around and then a Ten popped up on the turn. I bet out the pot and Slayer min-raised me. Really? I called and the river was a brick. He bet out another 400 and I called because I wanted to see what kind of crap he had. How about 84o? Oy Vey. After that, I just couldn’t get much going and since everyone was playing pretty tight I had to wait for cards that didn’t come. I finished up in 8th place, but ahead of Slayer who promptly dumped his large stack to LJ. She’s good like that. I didn’t pay much attention after that, trying to split my time between E and Slayer, who was pestering me about our upcoming Vegas trip. By the time I found out what was going on, Tony S bubbled and it was No River Brown, LJ and Ken in the money. Ken, incidentally, came back from an ultra short stack to make it into the money. Good job Ken! LJ and Michael battled it out for the big money, with Michael finally taking out LJ, who was peeved that she blew so much of her early lead in the middle of the tourney. Still pretty damned good showing, if you ask me.

The second tourney played much better for me. I picked up a lot of good pots, but the funny thing is I didn’t have the monsters except once, which I totally blew. Every one of the hands I won was taken down with either excellent betting, or top pair plus excellent betting. I was just ‘on’ in terms of bet sizing. Which is why it was so puzzling that I misplayed the following hand. Blinds are 100/200 and I pick up AhJh (Asian Jew!) UTG +1. It folds to me and I pop it to 700. Just enough that I can get away from a re-raise but enough to make people think. It folds around to Matty Ebs, who thinks for an agonizing few seconds, plays with his chips and then smooth calls. I’m worried about what he’s got since my hand is not fantastic out of position and he’s capable of making moves. But his smooth call gets me thinking that he might have KQ or Jacks or Tens. So when the flop came Kh Ts 8c, I wasn’t happy. I checked, hoping he would think I was slow playing AK. To my amazement, he checked, giving me a free card. The turn was the most beautiful Qh I’ve ever seen. I made a completely hidden Broadway straight with the nut flush draw on the river! We were both relatively even in chips and I thought back to what I thought he might have had. I checked my nuts and he bet out 1000. I immediately pushed all in. But instead of insta-calling with TT, KQ or KJ, like I thought he had, he went into the tank and folded after about 30 seconds. He claimed JJ and I believe him given the action. But LJ gave me a verbal spanking as to why I didn’t smooth call that. But then what? If he’s got the straight draw, he might hit and we would chop the pot if an Ace came. If he’s got a set, he’s calling me, so my all-in is OK (I want the call). What hand is calling there that possibly has a chance of catching up? Maybe a flush draw? 8h9h? The range of hands is small and the chance he had the big hand he was slowplaying is big. So I went with my gut, which was wrong. Although, if you get right down to it, he DID have the big hand preflop. If I was in position on that hand, I might have been able to smooth call, but OOP is a tough place to smooth call, since I pretty much have to bet the river. It was also the only hand I showed down tonight (I’m making an effort), because it was just too pretty. Matty got his revenge on me though, doubling up more than once to go into the chip lead with 4 players left. My once mighty chip lead dwindled down to nothing and I got lucky to double through at just the right time with 88 in the BB vs. W’s A5 in the SB. No River had just doubled through as a shorter stack than me and my hopes of limping into the money were going down. The double through kept me healthy and when I woke up with AsTs when Michael pushed all-in, I called and took him out when his A3 couldn’t suck out a three. Three way, I still didn’t have a large chip lead, but I found AhKh and pushed all in with 3200 and blinds at 500/1000. Matty and W both called and checked it all the way down. I didn’t hit anything and was about to muck when I heard W say, “Queen high”. Matty said, “King High”. I said, “Ace high” and tripled up to take the lead! But only barely. Matty finally took out W when she started dwindling a bit and decided to push when her BB 27o hit a 2 on the flop. Matty called with top pair and took it down. It was getting pretty late in the night and it had been a tense three way battle for a good 30 minutes so Matty was amenable to chopping it up with me, taking first in the process.

An excellent night for everyone. Good poker, good friends and a nice relaxing weekend coming up. There’s plenty of poker on the way for me. Tomorrow night is a .50/1 NL cash game at the CrackHouse and Saturday night I’m going down to AC for some Tropicana action. Is a Pink Game in my future? Could be…

Stay tuned…

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Update on the robbery/shooting

The NY Post is reporting that a man has been caught and charged with the heinous crime. But seriously, isn't there something wrong with him being released on his own recognizance after being charged with Second Degree murder during the commission of an armed robbery?!? WTF? Hey, lawyers in my game, speak up and explain this nonsense!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose.

It’s only been a few days since a blog entry, but it feels like forever. I wish I wasn’t so busy, but I guess if I wasn’t I’d be pretty bored. So there it is.

Well, there was plenty of poker this weekend to talk about. Actually, just Friday and Saturday. And to tell you the truth, I don’t remember much of it.

Friday was a lot of fun, actually. I was five minutes away from canceling the 1-2 cash game. Five. Minutes. I had gotten a decent, but not great amount, of interest in the game from a bunch of players and then I had 3 very brutal dropouts at the last minute. One of whom was at 7PM! I don’t want to make any feel guilty, but I will.
--Start of Rant--
It takes a lot of effort to get these games going so I would greatly appreciate if people would kindly show up when they say they will. I don’t mean canceling the day before or two days before or the week before. Things happen and that’s cool. But canceling the day of is not particularly cool. Especially if you’ve been a YES the entire week. You know why? Because my own night is based off of whether people will come or not. So when folks sign up and tell me they’re coming, I go and tell OTHER people who have invited me out that I won’t be able to make it. And then, when some folks cancel on me because they have something better to do, that means I have NOTHING going on. Not cool.
--End of Rant--
As it turns out, we got incredibly lucky and the game went off with nearly a full table. I had a few last minute (very last minute) acceptances and W came through to call one of her acquaintances. He ended up make the whole game by dropping (wait for this) $1150 in seven separate buyins. A new league record. I won’t say who it is, because he doesn’t need the publicity. I also won’t say how much he left with but let’s just say that some OTHER players were very happy. I didn’t play at all except for the first 30 minutes to start the game. Then I moved into the dealer position and I stayed there until the game broke up at 1:30AM. It was a blast, even if not everyone did particularly well. I wish I could give you a lot of info on particular hands, but that’s the funny thing about being a dealer. There’s a lot to do and the action in a single hand is not that dramatic. It’s just a mechanical job of dealing cards, dealing with players, moving the action, collecting the chips, changing up and pushing the pot. All while not fucking up. It’s a lot to handle. So no dramatic run downs on the night.

I got some sleep, woke up really really late and arrived at 2PM for a 12PM game at the midtown ‘lawyers’ game. I guess that’s what it is. There was only one lawyer there, but all the players I know there, other than PP, are lawyers. Well, it’s a 1-2 game with a $100 max buy in and there was already about 12 buyins in play with 7 players when I got there. Normally I don’t much care for these short buyin games, but this time I was happier because I got fleeced. Oh, I was doing good for the first hour or so. I was up nearly a full buyin when I ran into trouble. KQ. I raised preflop to maybe $6 and got 2 or 3 callers. The flop comes down K-J-rag, rainbow. It’s dangerous with the Jack out there and I figure I could be looking at someone with an OESD. I pump out a $21 bet, hoping to take it down right there and I get one tentative caller. He’s fishing, I know it. The turn comes a very dangerous Ten. This improves my hand though. There’s about $70 in the pot and I don’t want any more resistance. I think maybe he has AK and I want him to think seriously about the good possibility of my having two pair. Even if HE has two pair, he has to be scared of a made straight or better two pair, right? But only if I push it hard. So I move all in, for about twice the pot. He doesn’t even hesitate in calling. I figure he must have flopped a set, right? Wrong. That pussy licker (sorry, I’m still angry) has KT! He called nearly a pot size bet with KJ on board because he thought his King had the best kicker? I don’t get it. And then he hits his miracle Ten to improve my hand. I still have plenty of outs, with an Ace giving me the winning Broadway straight, a Queen giving me a better two pair, a 9 giving me the winning straight and a Jack giving me the better counterfeit two pair kicker (my queen would have played). But, of course, I wouldn’t be angry if any of those had fallen. It was a five and I busted.

The play was so poor at the table that I felt obliged to rebuy, but this time I was concentrating too much on doubling up and I donked away too much of my stack. So when I flopped an OESD with 35 in my hand (thanks W!) and a board of 24T, I pushed all in for $34 into a pot of $19. I kind of wanted a caller and just wanted to get lucky, but I was surprised when I got called by a player with a pair of Sevens in his hand! Really? A pair of Sevens? Anyhow, the last laugh is on me because I didn’t hit. But I filed away that information for future reference, because it would come up later….in my third buyin. The third one didn’t go any better than the first two, mind you, but I was trying. I even played 69 for a raise in the BB. The flop came 7-8-rag and I bet out on the draw, getting one caller (the pocket 7’s from the last OESD story). Well, I’ll be damned if a 5 didn’t hit on the turn. Oh lordie. A hidden straight. Now here was the problem. There were now two clubs AND two diamonds on the board and I didn’t have either one of them. Which meant there was a possibility he might have either walked into a flush draw or already had one. I HAD to make him pay to see that last card. So I bet the pot, about $21. He thought for a while, talking to himself. He was convinced I had a good hand, even mentioning the possibility of the 69 in his little speech. And then he folded and showed an overpair of Tens. Holy Shit! He folds the overpair on a bunch of low cards but calls with pocket Sevens on a big bet and an overcard on board?!?! WTF? Do I have my hand written on my forehead or something? I am so SICK of not getting paid off on my speculative hands that hit. It’s making me ill. It would be one thing if I was able to use my ‘image’, if that’s what it is, to bluff a lot. But my bluffs are getting called. Now my monsters aren’t getting paid off. I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried betting a lot, to no avail. I’ve tried betting a little, to no avail. I’ve tried trapping, to no avail. I’m in a big funk right now and I can’t seem to crawl out of it. The win on the straight actually put me on the same tilt as the KQ early on. Sure enough, my buyin dwindled to nothing and I lost.

One last thing about the game too. There was a player there, I won’t say who, who really thinks he is god’s gift to poker. Now, it wasn’t my house so I’m not about to say anything about it, but it wasn’t his house either, though he was playing the role of host for the game. He made me, and some other players, feel a bit like amateurs simply because we weren’t conforming to his own sense of rules and structure. He explained it later by saying he didn’t want us to ‘walk into a casino and look like amateurs’. Um, dude, if you don’t want to look like an amateur, don’t set up a home game with crappy cards, crappy chips and bad manners. It didn’t help , by the way, that the guy (and he was the one with the KT) had built up a HUGE chip stack (900 plus) and it was essentially backing his case. My point, other than to call the guy a douche in public (man, I’m unusually angry today) is that I DON’T want my own players to feel that way about me. And I hope they don’t. You see, *I* think I go out of my way to make everyone feel comfortable and not feel stupid in any way. But that’s only my own opinion. If any of *you* feel that you aren’t comfortable, for ANY reason whatsoever, in my games, please take me aside and tell me about it. I will accommodate anyone in any reasonable request. If you feel you’re not up on the rules and/or strategy, but still want to play, I’ll provide free lessons. If you want a particular player to be nicer because they’re being hard on you, I’ll take them aside and talk to them. If something else is bothering you, I can do something about it. I want Wall Street Poker to feel like family.

Anyhow, that being said, I left the game on Saturday and spent the rest of the day relatively pissed off. E is in Chicago for the weekend so I can’t see her and I just got my butt handed to me. So I went home and did what I had to do. I watched TV. Not just any TV. Friday Night Lights. E is a big television fan and I want to be able to watch shows with her, so when I asked her a few weeks ago to pick a show that we could watch together, she picked FNL. I got the boxed set about two weeks ago and I had only watched one episode since I got it. It was good, but I haven’t had time to watch it at all. But this weekend, I was a trouper. Sunday and Monday (I was off for Veteran’s day), I truly vegged and got it done. And I’m proud to say that all 22 episodes have been watched, chewed on and digested. And I’m somewhat ashamed to say that I love it. It’s a fantastic show. Aside from two extremely hot young ladies, who frequently appear in cheerleading outfits, the show is really well-written and acted. True, I don’t have much of a basis of comparison, but I’ve seen awful shows, and this isn’t it. So go, watch it, enjoy, get hooked. I know I did. E arrives tonight and I’ll be seeing her soon enough to gush about Tyra and Lyla and Buddy Garrity and Coach Taylor and Matt and Julie and Riggins and Street. But please, shoot me if I turn into one of *those* people.

Two last things to talk about. One, my band, Negative Ken, is playing at The Pussycat Lounge on Friday at 10PM. I expect the readers of this blog to make a turnout. It’s a strip club for god’s sake! And no, there won’t be any strippers on stage with me. In fact, the nudity is downstairs while I’m playing upstairs in the very clothed music venue. But I might be flashing some thong, if that’s the only way we can get paid. J The Pussycat Lounge is at 96 Greenwich Street at the corner of Rector, in beautiful downtown Manhattan. Due to time needed to practice, there will no Wall Street Poker this coming week leading up to the gig.

The other thing I need to talk about is my Gall Bladder. I am getting it removed, as some of you know, and the date has been officially set. December 5th is the date. I’ll be going to Mount Sinai hospital and getting three small Laproscopic incisions made beneath my right rib cage while another incision will be made in my belly button. Then, various tubes and wires will be places inside all of these incisions and the gall bladder will be snipped away while the tube is tied off. Then, the organ will be take out of my body through my belly button. Afterwards, all the tubes and wires and such will be removed and I will make a short recovery of, at most, a week. My parents will be coming up from Florida to take care of me (not my idea) and there will be no poker between Dec. 5th and at least Dec. 12. Please wish me luck, because as routine as all of this is supposed to be, I’m still scared shitless.

Friday, November 9, 2007

It isn't all bad

Former Wall Street Poker champion, David R, successfully procreated yesterday. Spencer Isaac was born Nov. 8th, at 8:15 AM. If we ever get to see him again, now that he has two children, let's make sure we congratulate him.

I had a great night last night with E, going over to her place to chillax before her weekend flight to Chicago. On my way back home, I was going to stop by Gray's Papaya for a hot dog (since they are THE. BEST. EVER.). I was on the median at 72nd and Broadway waiting for the light and just hanging out in the cool night air. I got the walk signal and the cars slowed to a halt. As I stepped into the street, I instinctively looked left and right. On my left, I saw a Yellow cab driving into the intersection crossing over Broadway going East bound. As my head swivelled right, out of the corner of my eye I noticed more movement than normal. I was two steps into the street already and the rush of movement made me stop, so I could identify it first. Good Instinct! The swirl of motion came from a small black BMW that was racing through the light, a good 2-3 seconds after it had turned red. It was going full speed down the Westernmost lane and missed me, thankfully because I had stopped, by a foot or so. As it sped through the light, it crashed into the nose of the cab going East with enough force to spin the cab northbound. The Beemer suffered a couple of nice scrapes on it's side and finally came to a stop at the SE corner of 73rd and Broadway. The cab limped over to the side on the NE corner of 72nd and Broadway and the cabbie got out. He was an old (maybe 70) man who was clearly dazed by the impact. I rushed over to help, along with about 5 or 6 other concerned West Siders. We had all seen the crash and it was so clearly the BMW's fault. The driver had not gotten out of the Beemer yet and there was some concern it was going to take off. One of the men helping went over to take down her license plate. He told me later that she looked like she was about to drive away until she saw two patrolmen round the corner. I immediately told the Police the true story of what happened and they took down my name and number as a witness. I'm not big on meddling in things, but the woman in the BMW so obviously did something dangerous that there has to be restitution. Especially to the man who drives a cab for a living. The impact of the BMW into the cab was so great that both of his airbags deployed. He looked very confused and was obviously hurt by the crash. He crawled into the back seat of his taxi, helped by a woman bystander who was a nurse, and they waited for the ambulance to arrive.

The policeman told me I wasn't needed anymore so, with the situation under control, I bought my well-earned Gray's Papaya dog. There's something about near death that makes a hot dog taste SO much better. :-)

The last good thing I want to report is that tonight's 1/2 NL game is on! We have enough players for a game and it's going down. Attendance was initially anemic but a last minute push for players produced two more. I'm really suprised that there wasn't more interest, given that The Slayer is going to be making an appearance. I mean, what? Are people out there allergic to free money?

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tiltin' like Stilton (non-sensical post title)

You try to do your best. You do. And sometimes it just doesn’t happen. Not that I didn’t play well tonight. I even sucked out, in a way. But at the end, when it mattered, the gods of poker abandoned me. As they always do. I don’t, as they say, “run well”.

The first tourney tonight, I bubbled. That’s the long and short of it. But in between were some heartbreakers. I was playing pretty tight until I looked down in my big blind (50/100 blinds) and saw 3h6h. Uh, a trash hand, true, but Mary raised to 300 UTG. There was another caller along the way and I decided to call on the off chance I flopped something good. The small cards are good for breaking people. Well, the flop was something like 359. Yes, I flopped bottom pair, but this is a really bad hand. I check and Mary leads out with 700. The other caller folded. I started to piece together the hand and I decided that Mary had AJ or AT and she was making a continuation bet. Yes, I only had a pair, but it’s better than AJ or AT, right. I had about 1700 total. Instead of completely trusting my read, I gave myself an out and called (mistake, I know). But a miracle 6 came on the turn, giving me two pair. I checked again, knowing Mary was going to fire and she went all in on the brick. I called and she looked incredibly pained to flip over JJ. Wow, what a bad read on my part. I was crushed the whole way and got very lucky. The river didn’t pair the board so I was good and I doubled through, sending Mary on silent revenge. I must have apologized about 5 times to her. Not for sucking out, though, but for being such a bad player that I would be in with that. I will defend my initial call though. But the flop call was awful since I had made the wrong read. But it seemed to make sense to me, in a weird way.

The double up put me in good position to cash and as people started to bust out, I was feeling good. LJ went up big and took a big pot off of Abbie to vault well into first. At the bubble position, it was between Abbie and Paulie, the short stacks, to bubble. All I had to do was stay afloat, and maybe pick up some chips here and there.

Later on, I have 77 and people give me crap when LJ raises to a decent amount UTG and I fold my 77. Good thing, too, because she had KK. With LJ as the big stack at this point and me in a good chip position, why would I go over the top with middle pair when I’m 50/50 at best against her? That was my thinking anyway. I got a lot of heat for it though.

Finally, I look down at KsQs. Paulie is to my left with about 2400 and the blinds at 300/600. I measure out 1500 UTG and raise. Paulie looks down and makes the decision that his cards are good enough to gamble with. This is what I want, of course, and he moves all in. I call and he flips over the dream, K9. I have him killed. Abbie flashes me the KQ that she folded but I don’t mind so much. I don’t have to hit. I just have to avoid a 9. The flop is garbage, but the turn is a damned 9. This cripples me and now *I’m* fighting to stave off the bubble! I hate this shit. I look down on the button two hands later and see 55. This is the place to try to pick up the blinds, right? Even if someone calls me, I’m racing, right? Paul calls my all in and shows KK. Aaaargh!!! Hello bubble! LJ went on to win the game with Abbie coming in second and Paulie third. There is no justice I swear (except for beautiful women winning at my table! W00t!).

The second tourney was a complete snooze for me. I didn’t get a single damned hand the entire tourney. I basically folded all the way into 6th place when, UTG+1, I get T9o. I decide this is a good place to race and I push all in for 1000 (blinds are 300/600). Incredibly, it folds all the way around to LJ, who practically giggled when she called with KK in the BB. I turned a gutshot straight, but believe me, that only happens to other people.

The most interesting hand of the night came in the 200/400 blind level of the second tourney. Tommy Drama went all in UTG for 700 total. LJ called. Ben called. Wendy went all in for about 3900 total. A huge bet. LJ, who barely outchips W, also goes all in! It’s now to Ben who has to make a tough decision. He’s outchipped by W and LJ and he’s facing 3 all ins! He decides that there’s too much money in the pot to ignore, and he calls. 4 all ins! All the players flip their cards over. Tommy has A4o (remember he was UTG and severely short stacked). LJ has JJ. W has KK. Ben has…AhJh! Wow. Personally, I think Ben made an awful call with a very mediocre hand facing 3 all ins, but he had the last laugh because an Ace flopped and stayed good the whole way! Ben won the smallish main pot and the enormous first side pot. W took a small amount of the second side pot. But at the end of the day, Ben now outchipped the entire table 2-1 and W and LJ were very very short stacked. LJ ended up coming back and even outchipping Ben as they went heads up after going into the money. But Ben managed to win a race against LJ and ended up taking the tourney when his 2c5c (The Darko!) turned a straight with LJ pairing the same card. Dennis placed 3rd.

The tourneys were great and I had a good, if frustrating time. But there’s a few things that I wish for for Wall Street Poker.

In no particular order:
I wish we had a slightly better sense of comraderie. Folks, we aren’t here to fleece each other.
Remember when the object of our little table was to help each other learn? Where did *that* go?
More love needs to be shown in general.

Ok, that’s all. I love you all, my gentle snowflakes.

Oh, and thanks to Drama who is collaborating with me on a new song. It’s a blues shuffle called, “Room Temperature Woman”. My new joint.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

*Important* and horrifying news

It appears that the new club that opened up recently, in place of the Extra Big Blind club, has been the victim of a robbery. During the course of the robbery, and details are still sketchy, a player was reportedly shot. He did not survive. Here is the 2+2 link detailing what's rumored and/or known at this time.

I used to love going out to the clubs to play poker. The Good Look club, especially, was a favorite. With relatively decent security, I always felt very safe. The only thing I EVER worried about was a visit from the police, and the worst consequence to come from that would have been losing my money and a few hours of my time.

This is much worse, needless to say. When the Dragon Room was robbed at gunpoint a few months ago, it worried me but at least there weren't any injuries. This incident, if true, has totally shaken my faith in the underground scene.

Part of the reason I like going to the clubs is the sense of excitement and danger that lurks, but it's always in the background. In the same way that a roller coaster feels dangerous, but really isn't, this is how I thought about the clubs. A shooting death brings into sharp relief the real danger that we face as poker players. This danger isn't on a printed page or in some far away back alley game in another shady city. This is our hometown. This is the place we live in. These are the people and friends we know.

I mourn for the victim and I pray that the day will come when the politician's come to their senses and legalize poker in the city. I hope that the Poker Players Alliance will use this incident to rally the cause. In the same way that dangerous back alley surgery was a consequence of the criminalization of abortion, so too is needless violence a consequence of the demonization of our game. I urge my readers to join the Alliance. Fight on! Keep poker legal and safe!

In the meantime, pray for the victim and take care of yourselves out there.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Divine Revelation (a new game is born)

A few days ago, I had an epiphany. Nay, a revelation. I invented a new poker variation. The details of my revelation are unimportant (read: I was on the toilet at the time), but the outcome is concrete. I wish to engage the blogger community in feedback on this game, which I will call, until a better title comes up, Wall Street Hold’em. CK suggested Omaha Pineapple on Crack (or OPOC), but it isn’t quite succinct enough.

The game, still in beta, was successfully play tested under sterile conditions at the Wall Street game this week, but only for play money. I plan to have an actual real money limit game for about an hour in a few weeks time. After a few sessions of that, we will graduate to a No-Limit variation and see how that works.

Here are the rules of the game:
1. Each player is dealt 4 down cards (just like Omaha).
2. The first round of betting commences.
3. The flop (3 cards) is put face up on the board. These are community cards, just like Hold’em or Omaha.
4. The second round of betting commences.
5. Each player takes one of their down cards and places it face down in front of their pile. This card will be used to make their hand. The player has now committed himself to this card and it cannot be changed for the duration of the hand.
6. The turn is put face up on the board.
7. The third round of betting commences.
8. Each player places another of their down cards in front of them. The player’s hand is now ‘locked’ in. The other two cards they haven’t chosen are no longer in play.
9. The river is dealt face up on the board.
10. The fourth and final round of betting commences.
11. Each player that is still in the hand exposes their two ‘locked’ cards and declares their best 5 card hand (cards speak) and the pot is pushed to the winner.

The genius of this game is that it combines a lot of the elements of Omaha and Hold’em. In Omaha, which is often played High/Low, your hand develops slowly and you often don’t have an idea about which way you are likely to win until the turn. Wall Street Hold’em is much the same way. The card you choose to commit to your hand after the flop will most likely determine which way your hand develops. If there are 3 diamonds on the flop, for instance, you may flop two pair and a diamond flush draw to go with it. But if you put your diamond down, you may break up your two pair. The decision is up to the player. The game is unique in that you must make that decision in advance.

The game is also similar to Hold’em in that it must be played in a High or a Low variety, but not both. Because you are committing yourself to a hand in advance and essentially discarding other cards, it would be MUCH harder to play a High and Low hand for a scoop. I don’t see the point in playing a game in which the pot would almost always be split.

So what do you think, public? It sounds complicated, but it’s really not much more than a regular Omaha or Hold'em game. The same poker thinking applies throughout and the skills you’ve learned playing regular Hold’em apply. Counting outs, bluffing and betting strategies and calculating odds are all in play here. Is this something you’d be interested in? Or do you have constructive criticism?