I remember the long nights my father spent at the office, his tired face, and his hours of undone work that we helped him do in the middle of our living room floor. I remember the business trips, the budgets, and the work ethic. Most of all, I remember what he said when I questioned why he worked so hard.
"Making money takes hard work, son. No one can become a millionaire overnight."
Dad was wrong.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Vina del Mar, Chile is not the kind of place an American can get by with just a smile and the word cerveza. The resort communities in Central America have a ready staff of English speakers ready to help fleece American tourists of every dollar they have. Admittedly, the Hotel Del Mar in Vina is a resort just the same, but it's not a resort for Americans. It's where the elite of South America--the Brazilians, the Argentineans, the Colombians--come to relax and play. There's not much call for speaking English. To get by in Vina, I depended on my limited Spanish, the few people I found who spoke enough English to understand me, and, most importantly, a group of friends who are fluent.
Vina is a wondrous place. The Hotel Del Mar, despite being a 5-star resort, refuses to look over its nose at typical Americans like me. As I wrote to my wife upon my arrival, "It's a lot like the place in Monte Carlo without all the pretentious French bullshit."
As a stupid American, I neglected to bring a power adapter for the plugs in Chile. I walked down to the front desk to find a place I could buy one. They told me to go back up to my room. I barely had time to get back to room and close the door before a sweet young Chilean lady was standing there with a free adapter. Later in the week, a restaurant waiter went out of of his way to carry my leftover food back to my room for me. When my key card didn't work, he stood sentry by my sandwich while I went to the front desk and got a new key. It's the little things, you know?
It's the type of thing that can lull a guy--a stupid American with a less-than-stellar grasp on the exchange rate--into a sense of complacency. Add a couple of the local Cristal beers, and it becomes more a sense of "Well, when's the next time I'm going to be in Chile?"
That's how I ended up in the biggest cash game the casino had running.
I'd been trying out a new character in 2009. After several years of playing the tight-aggressive too-serious guy at the table, I'd grown bored and--let's be honest-- unprofitable. Around the underground games, at the friendly home games, and even on the road, I was seen as the guy who took himself too seriously, who took the game too seriously, and who was afraid to play anything but the nuts. It had grown old. I'd experimented with who I'd eventually start calling "Chile Otis" long before I got to Chile, but he was really born that night in Vina del Mar.
I was playing in a no-limit game. The poker room was packed. Only one table was unoccupied and the rest were teeming with crazy, drunk South Americans. We were playing in Chilean pesos, and I hadn't been on the ground long enough to fully understand how much I was playing for. It didn't matter. Based on the people in the game, I knew I wasn't going to get hurt too badly.
That's when a friend appeared over my shoulder.
"We're thinking about getting a bigger game going. You wanna play?" he asked.
Old Otis would've said, "Nah, it's late" and turned back to the table. Old Otis would've asked who was playing, what the stakes were, and whether the buy-in was capped. Chile Otis didn't care about any of these things. Chile Otis is a yes-man. Chile Otis was up and digging in his pockets before the dealer of the new game had even slid into the box.
I started pulling out American hundreds and counting out how much I had. I'd only bought a few hundred bucks worth of pesos when I arrived at the airport.
"No, no," someone said. "You're going to have to go get pesos."
An Aussie friend of mine who had also decided to join the game was in the same situation. He led me to an ATM where I blindly punched numbers until the machine spit out a bunch of bills. I thought I had a decent idea of how much I'd withdrawn, but I didn't take a lot of time to do the math. The game was about to go off and I wanted my seat.
I slid into the four-seat and realized the game was full. I looked around and recognized many of the faces. I slipped into character and slipped half of my pesos to the dealer.
If you've not yet met Chile Otis, you should know he is irresponsible. He raises light more than he should. He three-bets even lighter. He calls re-raises with impunity. He is the very definition of loose-aggressive. In short, he is a donkey. He is the player you are hoping to find at your cash game table at all times. His only redeeming quality is that he is generally a nice guy. For the people who know Old Otis, Chile Otis is frightening. It's as if someone tinkered with my frontal lobe and turned me into something frighteningly stupid and correspondingly dangerous. That is, I could be re-raising you on the river with the nuts or I could be three-barreling with air. Suffice to say, it's always a good idea to call me.
I was setting up the character when I looked two seats to my left.
I could only think, "What is Alex Brenes doing at this table?"
It took all of two orbits to establish myself as the "crazy one." I couldn't raise enough. I couldn't stop betting. I couldn't stop making loose calls. Before I knew it, the entire table was looking at me. Old Otis would've been exceptionally uncomfortable. Chile Otis was eating it up.
Despite it all, it was not lost on me that I was playing in a game in which I was blissfully unaware of the stakes. That I didn't know exactly how much I could be winning or losing was actually helping me play the LAG, a Brenes at the table or not.
After a bit, the dealer stopped pushing me chips and started pushing me what you see below.
The numbers were irrelevant. The fact that I was about to be riffling plaques was not.
After a bit, players started playing back at me and it got a bit tough. I was up so much, though, I was content continuing in the role.
When I came in for a raise with 2d-5d, I expected nothing out of the ordinary to happen. When Brenes re-raised me a fair amount, I didn't think twice about calling. When the flop came K-K-2, I felt like I'd struck gold. Don't ask why, because outside the fog of that room, it doesn't make sense. I just knew I had to bet into him. I did, and he raised all-in. I had him covered, but his stack wasn't insignificant.
I won't try to make this sound like more than it was. I won't try to say I spent five minutes analyzing the hand and pinpointing his range. I won't try to make myself sound like a good player, because I think we all know how quickly such an assertion could be defeated. Simply put, I felt like I was good.
"I call," I said and flipped over my little 2-5. Brenes smiled widely and said something in Spanish. He turned over A-Q off. No pair. He missed his outs and stood up. He turned to me, offered his fist for a bump, and walked out of the room.
I've always thought the Johnny Chan scene in Rounders represented less than the movie suggested. Mike McD bluffing the Orient Express in one hand was more indicative of ridiculous hubris than it was stellar poker play. As Brenes walked out of the room with a wave, I felt like I'd experienced something similar. The moment meant nothing.
And still, I smiled.
The last hand of the night is one I'm not proud of. I came in for a raise with pocket deuces. A frustrated player who had just about enough of Chile Otis' shit pushed all-in. Then my friend in the nine seat called all-in for less. I justified it several different ways in my head and then did what was expected. I called. My deuces were up against the re-raiser's pocket eight's and my friend's pocket sevens.
Deuce on the river.
The game broke, I carried my plaques to the cage, and went to bed.
When I got up the next morning, everybody I knew was ready to talk about the night.
"You!" they said. "I heard about you last night. Pocket deuces! Suck-out artist!"
It went on for the better part of four hours. I knew I had a giant wad of pesos in my pocket, but I had no idea how much it was worth. Out of an abundance of caution, I checked my bank account to see how many dollars I had pulled out the night before.
Five minutes later, I was on the line to my wife explaining that there would be a larger than usual withdrawal from our checking account (I never pull out house money to play). Good thing I did, because the bank called her later to ask what in the hell I was doing making that kind of run on the ATM in a foreign country.
I ran into a corner of the room and started counting my pesos. There were too many to count with any accuracy. Later, I went to my room and laid them all out on my bed. The final count...1.2 million.
I was a millionaire--in Chilean pesos.
Later that night, I actually did the math and realized that being a millionaire in Chile is the equivalent of being able to afford to eat in America. It took a bit of the luster off the giant wad in my pocket. In all, I had cashed out for around $2,000 American. The biggest game in the room in Chile was somewhere between 1/3 and 2/5.
That is, I'd just played the same game I'd play in a Vegas casino, but I'd done it in pesos.
I sort of miss Chile Otis. He's a fun cat, but he gets me in way too much trouble. I still let him poke his head out from time to time, but he has no place in my life. Then again, if you were to look in my pocket right now, you would find something wrapped around my American dollars.
It's a 1,000 peso note.
That, friends, is how a Chilean millionaire rolls.<-- Hide More
Legal, live poker just got about four or five hours closer to G-Vegas.
Last night, the Harrah's in Cherokee, NC opened up a brand new poker room.
But, wait! There's more. Because of the vagaries of North Carolina law, the room has no live dealers. All the games are played PokerTek automated tables. Of course, in an ideal world, live poker would be live poker, but after not having a legal room here forever, this will do for now.
Word on the street says the room currently has five tables with room for more. Early reports indicate low limit hold'em games running and 1/2 and 2/5 no-limit also going.
Current news can be found below.
Cherokee is a little more than two hours from Greenville, SC, if my memory serves me. Feel confident the G-Vegas boys will be making a run up there soon to check it out.
Now, if South Carolina could just get its head...
This just in from the Up for Poker Midwest Bureau (aka, my brother Dr. Jeff).
This is a new one as far as I can tell. How to make poker legal? Flash the deck at all the players just before you deal and it makes it a skill game. Or something like that.
"Wichita entrepreneur Shawn Riley thinks he's found the profitable sweet spot between free bar poker and the real thing, played for money, that is both legal and unregulated...The difference between Kandu and poker is the "flash," a two- or three-second glimpse of the shuffled deck that each player gets as the dealer fans every card in the deck face up across the table before the cut and deal. After the cut the bottom card in the deck is also exposed."
Full article in Kansas City Star.
The poker room of the Fiesta Casino in the Ramada Herradura just outside of San Jose, Costa Rica is a six or seven table area that is just big enough to fit the players, a couple of aimless cocktail waitresses, and Humberto Brenes.
When the men get massages, they do it with their shirts off and buxom, camel-toed therapists kneading away elbow-deep at their fat-backs. Out of simplicity and in the face of a 540-1 colones to dollar exchange rate, the poker games are played with dollar-value chips. Against all better judgment, the first seat I took in the room was at a 5/10 half No-Limit Hold'em and half Pot-Limit Omaha game.More in this Poker Blog! -->
There is no excuse for a person with $2,000 in his pocket to sit down in this game. The game was populated with locals, two of which were Scandinavian transplants with a fluent grasp on the Spanish language and an apparent intimate knowledge of everyone in the room. There is no excuse for a guy who spends more time playing Razz than Hold'em or Omaha to sit in a game in which most pots were $300 pre-flop and any play after the flop would result in his stack being in the middle. I discovered, however, there was one excuse.
It was the only game in the room.
"Let's just take it easy," a local named Alex said in English. "In eight hours we'll be playing 25/50 with $25,000 in front of us."
It seemed like hubris, but the way the game was going, the guy could've been right. Three or four of the players at the table were fairly good. Everyone else was dreadful and bordering on clueless. I, admittedly, was underfunded. It only took me two hours of seeing no hand past the flop to realize this. I catch on as quick as most husbands my age.
I turned to an American pro you know, but whose name I've forgotten how to spell and said, "Take this seat. I'm wasting it." He took the seat and didn't say, "Yeah, you are."
I took my chips to the cage where the cashier paid me in $50 bills. It wasn't dinner time yet.
It's hard being in a poker country and not being able to find a game I'm properly-funded to play. Sure, I could've sat there and played nut-only poker, but that is just about as boring as not playing at all. For the two hours I sat, I felt like a guy in the G-Vegas underground named Whitey. He plays in all the games, folds 99% of his hands, and only plays the nuts on the river. Someone once asked, "Whitey, do you enjoy playing poker?" He answered with one word.
"No," he said, and then probably folded.
I took a walk, went back to my room, and then realized I was hungry. Room service seemed like a cop-out, so I went out in search of food. There are three restaurants in this hotel. Nearly every one was empty. I went to the sushi place last. It was barren and didn't have a visible bar.
"Buenos noches, senor!" said the guy at the door.
"Just looking around," I said. Not that it mattered.
I finally wandered back to the Fiesta bar and ordered an Imperial. The Texas game was on and they were losing. Two elderly Americans sat at the other end of the bar drinking Jim Beam on the rocks. Another American, one who had announced in the elevator earlier in the day that he had gas, showed up for a second. As he walked away from the bar, he told the bartender to give me another Imperial.
"For earlier in the elevator," he said, and then walked away.
As the bartender sat my second beer on the bar, I wandered over to the poker room and saw another game getting set up.
"Dos-Cinco," the dealer said.
I laid $500 in front of the two-seat and went to retrieve my beer.
This all looks like a set-up for a story in which I won several thousand dollars, got jumped on my way back to my room, and have a black eye to show for it. That's actually what I was thinking about as I ran my $500 up to $900 in about 30 minutes. I hit a gutty, played two pair to perfection on a flushed board, and called down a bluff with third pair. The players weren't very good and I saw myself winning a ton of money and then getting killed for it.
That's not what happened, nor what this story is about.
In fact, I sat for about five hours in total. I realized half the people at the table were playing with a percent of each other. I also realized that, even if they were soft-playing each other, most of them were bad enough that it didn't matter. If I hadn't missed fourteen outs in one hand and had my kings cracked all-in against a flush draw, I probably would've hit my $2,000 goal for the night. Instead, I finished with a one dollar profit. I saved the chip to remind me of the time I won one dollar.
In fact, this story is about what happened a couple hours into my session. In a scene that smacked of Vito Corleone walking down the street and picking up some oranges, Humberto Brenes walked into the room with two sons in tow. The room got quiet for just one moment, and then half of the people stood up to kiss his ring. Or something like that.
It was hard to say how many of the people in the room respected Brenes or all he has meant to poker in this country. He is, by far, the best known Tico in the poker world and his emergence into the small poker room made it clear that everyone knew that. It was something between Norm walking into Cheers and Doyle Brunson walking into the low-limit section at Bellagio. Everyone knew him, everyone wanted him to know they knew him, and everybody played their part. Still I couldn't figure out if he was Don Corleone or Doyle to the Costa Rican poker players. I don't suppose it matters. The effect is largely the same.
In an odd coincidence, Brenes took the very seat I had abandoned earlier. He alternated between playing pots and stepping to an adjacent table to watch his sons play. I could only think, for better or worse, I am not Humberto Brenes, Godfather of Costa Rican poker.
Sometime after midnight (although I thought it was just after 11pm), I went to the cage to cash out my initial buy-in (she gave me $100 bills this time). As I stood in line, I saw a cross between bingo, the lottery, and roulette. That is to say, it was a typical roulette felt, but instead of a wheel, there was a giant spherical bird cage full of numbered balls. After spinning the thing for five minutes, the dealer let one ball fall out (black ten) and paid it off. I couldn't decide it it was more, less, or just as random as a ball on a wheel.
And again, I'm not sure it mattered.
That was all less than 24 hours ago. In about an hour, I'll venture back into the fray. If all I've been told is true about the level of play here, I should make money in the short time I have to play. And if not, for a final time, I'm not sure it matters.<-- Hide More
Luckbox has been doing most of the heavy lifting in this fifth birthday of Up For Poker. I'm wrapped up in other activities right now, but couldn't let the time pass without a brief submission. Some of these are repeats, some are original, but all of them will stick in my memory as long as I'm playing.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Five most memorable hands against a poker blogger
5. vs. The Rooster, December 2007
It might have been my emergence from focus that ended up losing me the tournament. Still, a sense of understanding about what was happening around me was welcome. What had once been half a dozen people standing around and watching poker was suddenly a crowd of familiar faces. For the past several hours, I'd rather forgotten everything except trying to win. Now, I took half a second to relish the moment. I knew it wouldn't last long. Though the heads-up battle has been described as epic, I don't remember it as such. It seemed to be over as soon as it started.
I made a quick decision that I wasn't going to give The Rooster the opportunity to dictate the terms of the heads-up match. With the blinds as high as they were, there was very little opportunity for post-flop poker. My decisions were made before the match even began. It would be up to The Rooster to decide when he was calling and when he was folding.
If there was a surreal moment for me, it was the split second between the time I looked at my final hand and the time The Rooser announced, "Call!"
I peaked at K9o and said nothing. I simply put my hands around my chips and started to move them. They had barely moved an inch when The Rooster nearly jumped from his seat and said, "Call!"
Without going into it what was actually happening in my head at that second, that fraction of time defined who I was, who I am, who I hope to be forever.
Oh, and I was surpised to see I was ahead, too. The Rooster's snap-call didn't mean I was beat. It meant he was tired of my aggression. In this case, it also meant I was better than 60/40 to win. By the river, we had seen no kings, nines, queens, or eights. I had to dodge six cards when that final piece of plastic hung in the air.
It was what it was.
4. vs. ScottMc , December 2007
"There are softer spots in this room," I mumbled.
Over the course of the next couple of hours, I sat at the toughest cash table I'd face all weekend. I don't recall everyone in the game, but over the course of my time there, I saw Zeem, Chad, ScottMc, WeakPlayer, Miami Don and Blinders.
I stacked off to Chad once in a kicker battle, re-bought and told myself that if I couldn't start playing better, I was on my way out the door for a few hours by myself. That's when it happened--the most embarassing move I would make all weekend.
I had AK and came in for a raise. ScottMc popped me back and I pulled my "Oh, realllllllly?" maneuver. I don't think I've ever played with Scott before, so I kept his range exceptionally wide. I made the call out of position.
Why exactly I decided to check dark, I don't know. I only know I did. And I know I saw the flop come down AQx. Scott made another bet, and because I had checked dark, I had no way of knowing what the bet meant. It could mean as much as AA, as middling as AQ, or as little as some underpair. Hell, it could even be AK.
Now, I made what was the only smart move in the entire hand. I figured out where I was with a check-raise. Thing is, my chips hadn't hit the table before Scott cupped his hands around his mouth and said, "Allllllllllll innnnnnnnnnnn" in a deep voice.
That's pretty much where I went over the edge. After 22 hours of the worst beats ever, I was stuck bad and wrapped up in a hand with a player who is now wearing a sign that says, "You are beat, Otis!" around his neck. There is now no hand he can hold that I can conceivably beat. At best, he's holding AK and I know that's not the case. I might be lucky enough that he has AQ, but it's far more likely he has a set.
So, of course, I call.
Scott is a nice damned guy, which goes beyond and sometimes against his great abilities at the poker table. He wasted no time showing me his QQ for the flopped middle set. Knowing I need runners to win, I start planning a graceful exit and wondering where the solo rage will take me. I was at once a nihilist.
I'm still not sure the next ten seconds happened.
The groan and cheer rose up from the table as the board came runners to give me aces full. Having not yet revealed my hand, I fanned my AK to the table and buried my face in my other hand. The chips landed in front of me. Now, I could no longer hate my luck.
I could only hate myself.
Scott took it much better than he should've. For my penance, he only required I post this list:
1) That was the worst suck-out ever
2) Scott is a better player than Otis
3) I am a donkey
Or something like that. My notes don't make a lot of sense.
The only thing I remember with any clarity is Miami Don looking up from his vodka and remarking wryly, "Otis, I think your luck just changed."
3. vs. Absinthe, December 2006
I was angry. So angry.
There is a particular table at the MGM where I cannot win. Don't call it superstition, because if you do, I will soak your toothbrush in a jar of hot peppers. I can't win there. Ever.
I'd just called off several hundred dollars when people at the other end of the Strip in Caesars knew I was beat. It was so obvious that it was actually embarrassing to continuing breathing. Making it worse, the off-duty dealer to whom I'd stacked off berated me for losing. I wanted to crawl in a hole, stuff the rest of my cash in an uncomfortable place, and light it on fire. Due penance, I thought.
I'd had pocket kings. Not that it matters, but it mattered.
Absinthe sat on my right, quiet as always, and ostensibly targeting everybody at the table but me. We're friends. We've shared time. We've eaten at fancy restaurants. He wouldn't fuck with me.
I found pocket kings on the button a few hands later. I figured I'd get no action, because, hell, everybody knew I wasn't rebuying. I had to set my ass on fire in a few minutes.
Absinthe came in for a raise to around $20. I don't recall the size of my re-raise, but I think it was around $100. Absinthe did this thing he does. I can't explain it, and if I could, I wouldn't write about it, because we're friends. We don't fuck with each other. But he did this thing.
He quietly slid out a raise. I don't recall the exact amount, and it doesn't matter, because it was a giant, flashing sign that said, "Hey, bitch, I have aces. Get the hell out and get on with the ass-fire."
I gritted my teeth, I wondered whether I was going to use a lighter or a match, and mucked my hand.
A few minutes later, he raised his eyebrows.
"Kings," I said.
He shook his head. "What a cooler," he said.
"Aces," I nodded.
"Same hand," he said.
For a moment, I felt okay. It wasn't a lot of money and, you know, no flop, no drop.
Half an hour later as we headed to a fancy dinner, I brought up the cooler.
"I had ace-ten," he said and kept walking.
2. vs. Bill Rini, and I honestly don't remember the date
Okay, we were drunk. Let's get that out of the way. I'm pretty sure it was summer, I'm vaguely certain Spaceman and Pokerati Dan were there, and I know we are at the Excalibur. The size of the pot makes me believe Bill and I both had around $800 in front of us. Everything else is pretty much a blur.
I know I had pocket aces. I'm pretty sure one was black. Let's call it the ace of spades. It doesn't matter.
I raised and Bill re-raised me. I complained in a way guys with pocket aces do. Folded back to me and I decide to give the guy a break.
"All-in," I said. Because, in poker, that's how you give a guy a break.
Bill looked peeved, but only for a second. "I call," he said. Because, with AK, he didn't want a break. He wanted my $800. When he saw my aces, he was visibly agitated. I said something to the effect of, "I was trying to give you a break."
He said something to the effect of, "Fuck your mother." That's not an exact quote, but it's close I think.
Bill didn't win. He left.
To this day, I actually feel bad about that hand.
1. vs. Iggy , December 2004
I was still steaming from having my Hiltons cracked, and raised pre-flop with pocket sixes. Of course, Iggy called. The flop came down 589. Again, Iggy and I went to war.
Now, I know I'm not necessarily favored to win this hand. In fact, I should assume that Iggy is ahead. Maybe a set. More likely, A9 or A8. If he is ahead, I know that I only have six outs to catch up. Still, having played low-limit with him before, I know Iggy can sometimes be aggressive when he's way behind. I could only hope he was on a draw.
I think I maintained my poker face when the turn brought a seven, giving me the straight. I check-raised Iggy, who cold called and gave me a look.
The turn was a blank, as I recall. This time I bet into him and the sonofabitch raised me. I re-raised, and he capped.
But as he put in his final bet, he turned to the dealer and said, "You know, in a lot of cardrooms, when play gets to be heads up there's no limit on the number of raises."
It was at this moment that my heart sank and I picked up on Iggy's biggest tell: When he has the nuts, he'll turn to the dealer and ask for the game to be no-limit.
The dealer said we could do whatever we wanted, but I already knew what was about to happen. I put in my final crying call and watched Iggy turn up Vince Van Patton's favorite hand, JTo.
Iggy began raking the pot and eyed me from behind his locks, "Drawing at the dummy end of the straight," he said with a playful scoff.
In one moment I felt both chastened and so happy to be alive that I didn't mind losing another big pot to Iggy.<-- Hide More
Lucky in love, unlucky in cards.
I've heard it quite a few times since I've found Lady Luck. Many a blogger have mentioned that my luckboxing abilities have likely diminished or disappeared since I've found love. I don't believe it, but my experience Saturday night didn't exactly assuage my fears.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Cliche #1: The Smoke-filled Poker Room
Okay, so it wasn't quite that bad. But as I entered Casino Aztar for the first time, I did have to push the smoke out of my way just so I could find the stairs to the lower level. That's where I found the poker room.
Well, actually, that's where I found a lot more slot machines, but tucked away in the corner, I eventually came upon what resembled a poker room. To be honest, it was quite a disappointment compared to the relative luxury provided by the Coushatta.
Of course, there were tables, dealers, players and chips, so I'm not sure what else I really needed. I saw they were dealing $1/$3 NL at two tables, so I got my name on the list. I also put my name ont he $2/$5 NL interest list. The woman charged with typing letters in a computer told me they would soon be opening a $1/$3 NL table. I figured i wouldn't have to wait long. (Foreshadowing...)
Cliche #2: The Local Rocks
After waiting around an hour, the new table finally opened. I grabbed the 7 seat and when we were all gathered, I counted at least three of them. Three old men with souvenir ball caps that were never in style. Each knew the dealers by name and shared an inside joke or two with the floor man.
For about the first hour, the rest of the table wasn't much more interesting than these three. Most of it was ABC poker, but I didn't have the cards to play much and I was too out of practice to start running any complicated plays. I stole where I could and took a few small pots with winners. That was it.
Cliche #3: The Calling Station
He had just sat down but it only took one hand to figure out what kind of player this guy would be.
The elderly woman to my right raises it up to $12 from early position. I look down at Big Slick (unsuited) and briefly consider a reraise. Instead, I merely call. The new guy to my left also calls as does a player on the other side of the table.
The flop comes K-8-4. I like it. No flush draw, a gutshot draw at best. It's checked to me and I lead out for $25, about half the pot. The new guy quickly calls and the other two players get out of the hand.
The turn hits the gutter, but doesn't open a flush draw. I bet $60 into a pot of just about $100. The new guy had only bought in for $200. Calling this will put him in for about half his buy-in.
He hemmed and hawed and hemmed and hawed. He counted his chips. He banged his fist against the table once or twice. And then he did exactly what calling stations do.
The river was a beautiful K. For a brief moment, I considered the new guy had only been putting on an act on the turn. Perhaps he had magically hit his gutshot straight draw with 57 and was trying to act as conflicted as possible as he made his call. It didn't take long for me to dismiss that thought.
I put him all in for his last $100. He almost immediately called but as he did so, said rather dejectedly, "Ace king?"
I nodded and flipped my cards.
"Damn," he said, "I thought you woulda reraised with that." He showed KJ. I was up to about $500.
Cliche #3: The Cold Deck
That was my high point. I spent the next couple of hours giving my profit away. Not in a single hand, but as a slow bleed.
It started with Cowboys. I raised it up to $12 UTG and got two callers. The elderly woman from before and her husband. I jokingly suggested they were teaming up on me. Apparently, the were in cahoots with the dealer, too, because the flop came down A-x-x.
The old bag checks and I toss out $20. The old man calls and the old bag raises to $50. I got all the information I needed. I throw my cards into the muck and so does her husband. The table goads her into showing AK. KK cracked by AK. That's about right.
A few hands later I waste a few bucks chasing an open-ender against a Croatian transplant donkey with a Longhorns cap and a solid Asian kid. The Asian kid hit his gutter on the turn and took a huge pot off the donkey and his two pair.
The end of the downfall was when I flopped a flush. Yep, from the big blind, I flopped a heart flush with 82. I coyly check and a pretty good player in the 9s bets $20. I smooth call, because I'm really tricky.
A 4 falls on the turn, pairing the board of A24. I check again, in the most cunning manner possible. My opponent bets $50 and I raise to $100.
I'm not even sure I finished saying raise. That's how fast it happened. And then everything stopped. I had to play it all in my head. This guy hadn't made a play at anyone all night. Would he do it to me?
What could he be holding? It's possible he has the higher flush? I suppose, but two flushes aren't all that common. Of course, he could have boated on the turn. It's reasonable he would have limped with A4, 45, 44 or 55.
"I have outs," I declared, hoping to get a read. He wasn't giving me any, so I wasn't all that worried about saying, "Well, I suppose I should say, 'I have out.'" He still didn't give anything away.
At that point, a great piece of advice ran through my head, "Never go broke on an unraised pot." Frankly, I think this advice applies to tournaments, but since our chip stacks were about the same, I was going broke if I called and was wrong.
I folded. And he showed 96h.
I suppose the original Luckbox would have called and then hit the three of hearts. I wasn't sure if I still was the original Luckbox.
Cliche #4: The Suckout
This may suggest I'm on way back. It's from the $3/$6 limit tables and it was a $169 pot.<-- Hide More
I sat cross-legged in the hotel room. The carpet was new, clean, and better than what I had in my house. The balcony doors were open, letting in a wind and exposing a view you can't buy--it's only available for rent.
A few feet away from me sat more than $30,000 in cash. Most of it was wrapped in ten-grand bundles. A private dealer had been summoned to the room, a cache of one-of-a-kind chips littered the floor, and a setup of cards was being counted down. I speak of all of this in passive voice because, while I was there, I was--at least for the moment--a spectator. It was not my money. They were not my chips. I hadn't touched the cards. I was sitting in the middle of something that was simultaneously meaningless and exceedingly important. More to the point, I was caught up in a salt-washed epiphany.More in this Poker Blog! -->
When I wrote The End, there was a pretty serious part of me that believed it would be the last thing I wrote on the Up For Poker blog. After four years of finding nuances of the game and inspiration in the romantic turn of a card, I had given up. It had been a losing year--my first-- and I barely knew why. Poker had become more of an addiction than a hobby. It wasn't as if I was blowing through wads of cash and endangering my family. I was not playing above my roll or on borrowed cash. In fact, a nice-sized chunk of my bankroll sat in the bank untouched.
No, it was not your typical sweating, tweaking addiction. I only defined it as such because I was playing, but didn't know why. I wasn't playing for profit. I wasn't playing for fun. I was playing because, in short, that's what I do. I play cards. It was still better than drinking myself into barstool grandeur or experimenting with firearms, but it was not serving a purpose. I found no spiritual or financial profit in the game. Even if I kept playing--which I knew I would--I didn't see reason to write about it anymore. I write about things in which I find beauty and passion. Even if it's beautiful tragedy or hilarious passion, it's worth a word or two. There is only so much one can write about autotonomous raising and folding, and even less when the lifeless time at the table is the means to an unprofitable and unhappy end.
What's more, the G-Vegas underground games had become no man's land for me. After two violent robberies and one unfortunate bust, I made a promise to my wife that I was finished. No amount of entertainment or writing fodder was worth her worrying about whether I was spending my night looking down the barrel of a cheap .380. The games died off for a couple of months and then started their comeback. I did not come back with them. Despite pleas and protestations from my poker friends, I stayed away. Those long, hyper-caffeinated nights in smoky underground rooms were now just a thing about which I could wax nostalgic.
Indeed, I had all but given up on the idea of writing about the game that played such a large role in my life since 2003. When people asked what I do, I stopped saying "I write about poker." Instead I muttered something along the lines of, "It's sort of a long story."
A few nights before the mini-epiphany, I was half-crocked and sitting in a hotel lobby bar with a semi-motley crew of people. I gave a fellow writer 10-1 odds on his $50 that he could not blow up a deflated soccer ball using only his mouth. He pondered it for several minutes before declining the bet. Half an hour later, he inflated he ball anyway, just to see if he could do it. I thumbed the $500 in my pocket and wondered how I had dodged losing it. On any other night, with any other person, I would've lost the bet, lost the money, and lost a little more of my mind.
I was in a pretty dark place. No matter what I did, it didn't feel right. Privately, I think of it as One-Pip Syndrome. It's that time at the table and in life where you can make the decisions that feel almost certainly right and turn out to be just one pip from success. Eights versus nines, AQ vs AK, it doesn't matter. It's either a winner or a loser and when you're one pip off, you might as well be drawing dead.
The night that I ended up in the hotel room, I let go. I stood outside and let the wind smack me in the face. Whatever it was--the booze, the breeze, the bravado--everything seemed more clear. I made one decision that wasn't even officially mine yet to make. Everything inside my head settled, sediment at the bottom of a river that had been running too fast for too long. I ate dinner with my wife and friends. I laughed, indulged, and let go of whatever it was that I thought had tied me up. We walked outside after dinner and did something those afflicted with good sense don't do. No sense in describing it either, because it was certainly more important in my head than in reality. Regardless, it was 15 minutes of pure and simple abandon. No matter the consequences, I was free.
Later that night in the hotel room, I sat across from the friend who had just won the $30,000 in a poker tournament. He was happy, but no happier than I'd seen him when he was badly stuck. As the room filled in and we settled on a private HORSE SNG, we worked out the stakes. I can't remember how much it was per person, but it was $100 or less. A few of us did a last longer that was the same as the buy-in. We would do another game for similar stakes a few hours later.
I looked around and realized that it was not the money that mattered. I was sitting with a guy who had casually won more than my car was worth. I was sitting with people who had enjoyed the glamour of playing on TV. I was sitting with people who are big players in the business. The money was incidental. Not only that, almost all of it was incidental. All that mattered was I was playing with friends who appreciated the game as much as I did. I was sitting with people who took poker--for any amount of money--seriously, and at the same time, could laugh, cut up, and enjoy the time they had to play.
I admitted to myself that, for whatever reason, I am not as good a poker player as I used to be. I admitted to myself that I probably am not as good a writer as I used to be. Neither realization meant, however, that I had to quit. Even now as I struggle to figure out where my game fell apart and my words became trite, I am, in a word, okay.
Though I found it hard to believe, I was actually having fun again.
The room we called The Gaelic Game ran out of a fireworks warehouse on one of the oldest and most traveled highways in G-Vegas. It was not prophecy, but The Last Poker Game told the story of the joint pretty well. I spent many a night there, albeit few of them big winners. Still, before The Depot opened, it was my house of choice and I went there as often as I could.
At the end of the summer in 2007, the local Sheriff's office raided the Gaelic Game, effectively shutting it down, at least in that location. It was the second to last straw in the my little pig's collapsing poker house. When the game disappeared, with it went the rest of my poker year.
The other day, I was driving down the same road and, as always, stole a look at the place that had been my poker home away from home. The giant, red "FIREWORKS" sign had fallen on hard times. The letters that remained: REWORK.
I'm not much of a believer in omens, but sometimes you just have to read the writing on the warehouse.
It was one of those nights where everything was on my side. My reads were on, the draws were coming in, and variance was giving me a neck massage. It was one of those nights where I felt smart, even if I was getting lucky. I was posting a decent win and thankful for it.
In fact, I was ready to call it a night and go home a modest winner.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The game was about to break and most of the money on the table sat in two stacks. Gucci Rick had about $900 in front of him. I had exactly $1,003.
And the rock.
You've likely played with the rock before. If not, it's an action-generating forced under-the-gun straddle by the holder of the rock--usually the amount of a straddle bound together by a rubber band. In this game, the rock was a metal ace of spades. It is thrown in the first pot of the night and then makes its way from player to player throughout the evening. In a short-handed game, the rock effectively moves the stakes up and makes the pots worth dragging.
Gucci Rick and I were having decent nights and more often than not, one of us had the rock. With the action tightening up at the end of the game, a tacit competition to hold the rock was underway.
As the first cards came out, someone called a misdeal. I wasn't paying a great deal of attention and looked at my single-card holding...a three of diamonds. I flashed it in a "good, I didn't want this card anyway" move. Everyone looked at me like I was an idiot. There was no misdeal, despite what I had heard. I'd be keeping the exposed three of diamonds, which was going to make it exceedingly difficult to defend the rock.
Pride gets in my way sometimes. There was no earthy reason to play my hand, especially after I saw an offsuit five as its buddy. Yet, as I'd been running well all night, I thought I'd take a shot at Gucci Rick. He's been winning big for the past five weeks and is getting a little saucy. Sure enough, he comes in for a raise and I decide I'm going to play against him.
Now, let's take a break from the chronological order of things for a second and consider a simple rule in poker: Pride is no reason to play 53-off. As far as I know, that hand doesn't even have a nickname. So, why?
Well, one good reason would be the 532 flop. That would be a great reason. Gucci Rick's range in this hand is wide open, though, and it is equally as likely he would hold A4 as it is he would hold AA. I'd either be way ahead or rather behind. It's a tough place to play and one I would have a hard time betting correctly. It is made a helluva lot easier, however, with another five comes on the turn.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Mamacita.
The big question now becomes how to extract the most out of the hand. Being stone-cold nutty, I can pretty much do whatever I want. I can effectively walk out of the room with $2,000 if I find a way to get Rick in. However, I'm not entirely sure how to play the hand. Slowplay? Play it fast and see if he'll raise me? Playing against The Gooch is not easy. He's become a very good player and I know that if I show too much strength, he might be able to lay down.
What's more, when I see that board, all I think about is how nice it would be to have an extra $2,000 in Vegas next week to toss around like a silly person. I'm rolled well-enough to enjoy the trip, but a couple extra little dimes might offer me a little more freedom to experiment.
Look at that board: 5325. And I'm holding the stone cold nuts. And The Gooch has been playing like actually has a hand. What would you do? Seriously...stop and comment right now and tell me how you would've played the hand knowing what you know about the hand. I'll wait until you come back.
Now, what would you do if you knew the river? What if I told you what Gucci Rick was holding? What if the river was a queen?
And Gucci Rick was holding pocket fucking queens.
Well, in fact, that is exactly what the river was and exactly what Rick was holding.
You ever felt your stomach go to war with your spine? It's a real treat. I'd say I felt like I'd just been hit by a car, but it's wasn't like that.
It was more like I'd almost been hit by a car.
See, I honestly thought it was the end of the night. I had $1,003 in my stack. With a $3 tip to the dealer, I'd be able to cash out for an even grand and save the bank any messy change-making. If I called and tried to showdown with The Gooch, especially with him knowing one of my cards, it could get messy for no good reason.
And so I mucked pre-flop.
As it happened, Rick played the hand to the turn with somebody else. I asked to rabbit hunt and we saw the queen. That's when Rick revealed his hand and I reeled across the room with a certain relief that I still feel 48 hours later.
As I told G-Rob about the hand the next day, he made a pretty good observation. Not playing the hand made me walk away feeling like a genius. Had I played the hand, my spirit would've been broken. A donkey with a broken spirit is a sad thing to witness.
For once, results-oriented thinking doesn't feel so bad.<-- Hide More
There are people who suggest the former Soviet Republic of Armenia is where Adam and Eve first looked at each other's nodules. I don't know this to be true, but I have no reason to say otherwise. As far as I know, original sin popped up a few nights ago at some backwater McDonalds, so the last thing I am going to do is deny Armenians their place in biblical history. A Garden of Eden theme park could be in the offing if the former Communists really put their minds to it.
As long as I'm being generous, I also hesitate to call whe whole of the Republic a bunch of cheats. I haven't met many of them, and I guess it wouldn't be the most diplomatic thing to do. However, if the nation's leaders want to enjoy a long-lasting relationship in the United Nations and WTO, they might want to keep tabs on some of the poker players they are producing. Again, I've not met many of them, but the four I met last weeks were card cheats like none I've ever seen before.
What's worse, they were really bad at it.More in this Poker Blog! -->
At first, only two of them sat at the table. One was a brash drunk who pounded bloody marys with a speed that only depended on how fast the waitress could bring them. He bought drinks for his table and the one adjacent. His friend was the winner, Mr. Any Two, Mr. Laugh it Up. At first, they only soft-played each other. While distasteful, it was not a crying offense yet. While I would never soft-play a friend at a table--and was not with the one sitting immediately to my right--the Armenians weren't hurting me yet. What's more, they had most of the money on the table. There are ways to exploit this kind of thing.
Eventually it started to become more obvious the Armenians were there for more than a good time.
"You catch the hand signal?" my friend whispered.
Admittedly, I had not, but news of the gambit moving beyond Ye Olde Soft Play turned me into Mr. Radar. I would soon learn that radar wasn't necessary. One half-blind half-open eye could've spotted the tired old games. By and by, four Armenians sat at the table.
Even when faced with the wisdom of Canada Bill Jones and knowing I was sitting at the only game in town, I gradually grew more exhausted with how blatant the cheating was than actually combatting the techniques. After three of them ran a textbook whipsaw on the table, it finally became too much. Time to put an end to it and get back to playing poker.
It all would've worked out, had the floor cooperated and looked into the matter. Instead, we called for racks and headed for the door. It's one thing to play in a crooked game. It's another thing to give a bunch of Armenians the pleasure of thinking they are smart.
"Good work, boys," I said. "Keep it up." They pretended to be offended by my suggestion. I didn't pretend to care.
What I didn't say was, "Next time you won't be playing against me. You'll be playing against somebody who settles these things with a baseball bat."
Upon my arrival home, I discovered that my bounty for the December 8 WPBT tournament had arrived. I am more than excited. So excited, in fact, that I'm not going to keep it secret like I had planned.
You knock me out of this year's Holiday Classic, and I'll hand you this.
That's right, folks. It's get-back-to-your-roots time.
If you miss the connection, please refer to the first-ever WPBT gathering in December 2004 and this post: Bordering on the Adriatic.
There is very little that hasn't changed since that time. We all play much bigger now. We're all a bit older. Blogs have come and gone.
One thing doesn't change, though.
That's the reason my plane ticket is already booked.<-- Hide More
I'd been thinking about the heat.
I'd been thinking about the heat because it wouldn't let me think about anything else. The temperatures in G-Vegas had been over 100 for the past three days and the nights weren't much better. Even though the poker room enjoyed central air conditioning, it couldn't fight the heat wave. Nothing I drank quenched my thirst. Nothing stopped the sweating. I was clammy and thought, "Well, here's my chance to die at the poker table."More in this Poker Blog! -->
"Remember to get the weather in your god damned book--weather is very important."
Hemingway wrote that in 1932 in a letter to John Dos Passos. I know that because fellow poker player and writer Larry Phillips was kind enough to send me a copy of his "Ernest Hemingway on Writing" a few months back. I thought about it because Dan kept encouraging everybody at the World Series with Hemingway's thoughts on the weather.
For the moment, though, I was sweating through my t-shirt, routinely walking to the bathroom to splash cold water on my face, and asking the cocktail waitress for cold bottles of water I could hold on the back of my neck. At one point, I stood up and stumbled toward the back door.
"Leaving?" the hostess asked. She's friendly, but I'm sure the question was based more on wanting to know whether I was coming back and whether she should slap the deadbolt behind me...what with the cops and robbers and all.
"Just stepping out to get some air," I said.
The way she laughed at me confirmed what I was thinking. The air hadn't cooled off outside. Even though the sun had disappeared, the parking lot felt like my grandma's kitchen on a fried chicken Friday. I climbed into my car, turned on the AC, and let it blast my face. I calculated how long it would take for the blinds to get back around to me before running back inside, no cooler than I had been all day. I'd started sweating at 3pm while cleaning the garage, continued to sweat in the swimming pool, the shower, the bar, and now the poker room.
With no cool place to go, the poker room seemed like a reasonable place to land. The romantic wing of my brain sees poker as a hot game. It sees dusty cowboys, sweating riverboat gamblers, and red-faced Texans driving down tumbleweedy highways. The Rio turned up its AC so high this year that many players were forced to wear jackets--and, in some instances, coats--to stop the shivering. If a poker player suffers any form of temperature woe, it should be that he thinks he's dying from the heat.
The poker, despite the heat, just felt right, like seeing a college buddy you haven't seen in forever. The banter was familiar, the rhythms the same, and all the old jokes were just as funny as they were four months before. I hadn't sat down in a G-Vegas underground game since mid-May. My days in Vegas and time catching up with the family had kept me away from all the old haunts for a long time.
Unlike the days where I would watch the clock and rush to the games as soon as I could, I felt no urgency. I was rolling with BadBlood for the night and it was just good to be with a buddy and going to play some cards. We walked into the Black Stallion as the evening was getting underway. Blood ceded my favorite seat to me and I sat down to an unlikely run of good luck. I flopped five sets in the first three hours and seemed to do no wrong. I was rusty, for sure, but the cards were making up for it. I'd left my iPod hooked to my pocket and set my sights on a couple of likely marks.
It was after 10pm when I realized how hot I really was. It wasn't good cards. It wasn't good play. I was literally hot. I'd been sweating non-stop since 3pm and I started to think I might be in the middle of a minor heat stroke.
In the first few hours, I'd managed to more than double my buy-in. I'd made a tough fold that, while I still think was correct, would have won me a massive pot if I hadn't made the laydown. That pot made me burn a little hotter. When I doubled up a guy with my flopped boat against his turned boat, I got a little hotter.
That's when Papa started talking to me. "This isn't the weather. It's poker. And you're not writing a god damned book. Get your head together or get out. Oh, and two other things. You're not me and you really should be thinking about the poker more than whatever story you're going to get out of it."
Note to poker players who fancy themselves writers: When the ghost of Hemingway starts chatting you up while you're on tilt, it's time to take a break.
The iPod went in, the "On Tilt" mix began with Chris Knight's "Backwater Blues," and I settled down. There still needed needed to be at least one hand of poker to make this night worth writing about. Even if the weather was the only interesting character in the whole story, making the tale fit on the pages of Up For Poker would require something for the hand history set.
I've never been to Omaha, but I can attest that Texas is a hot place. I once rode in the back of a pick-up truck from the Gulf coast to El Paso in the middle of the summer. It's fucking hot. Still, as poker players, we know that Omaha is a hotter game than Texas Hold'em in terms of the gamble. This night, we were only playing No-Limit Texas Hold'em, but there was a light breeze blowing from the north and it carried Omaha's smell all the way.
A tight player in the five-seat came in for a raise and I smooth-called with 7s8c. Two callers came in behind us and we saw the perfect Un-tilt Otis flop: 6c9hTh.
"Look, Papa! The nuts!"
My only problem, as I had it figured, would be extracting value from the hand without giving any heart draw a good enough chance to stay in. I hadn't been paid off on a set all night long and I was getting frustrated by the emasculation of my monsters. Turns out, in this case, it wasn't going to be a problem. Let's see if I can capture how fast this all happened.
Original raiser: Bet
First caller: All-in
Second caller: All-in for less
Original raiser: (thinking for one minute) All-in for just a little more
I ripped my iPod ear buds out of my ears and heard myself asking, "How much?" Then I heard myself say, "Wait, it doesn't matter how much. I call. I have the nuts."
I love writing about other's people's perfect storms more than I enjoy getting caught up in them myself. Remember, on the 6c9hTh flop, I was holding 7s8c. Everybody's money was in the middle. I was fortunate enough to have the nuts and have everybody covered by--hey look!--a little more than my original buy-in. Here's what my nuts were up against:
Original raiser: 9c9s for top set
First caller: Ah2h for nut flush draw
Second caller: Jh7h for gutshot straight draw, gutshot straight flush draw
Looking back, the pot wasn't anywhere near as big as other pots I've played in that same room or, for that matter, a couple of pots I played that night. Still, for that moment, a four-way all-in had half the room standing and watching.
"I don't even know if I'm actually ahead," I said.
Everybody was counting outs and running through all the cards that would beat me. I was trying to dodge any heart, any eight, or the board pairing. The math would have to be done later, because the turn was falling...and smack, there was the eight I was trying to dodge.
"That's just for the main," I said quietly. I actually felt good for a second. The side pot was going to be pretty big, because the guy who had called all-in for less and hit his miracle had been sort of short.
I was trying to explain this as the river came down. I was safe! It was a nine.
The room did that thing where everybody goes, "Woooooaaaaahhhh."
Oh, yeah. That's quads.
"Nobody said anything about the fucking nine," I mumbled.
Suddenly, I was hot again.
"That was like one of those Omaha hands," Badblood said. "The kind where you're ahead, but it's right to fold."
And he was sort of right. I pulled out my Blackberry and pulled up TwoDimes. With all four hands in, I was actually a dog. I was a very slight dog--like a fraction of a percent--but a dog nonetheless. The set was ahead. Of course, by that time, I was priced way the hell in. However, I was also behind with the nuts.
That actually made me sort of happy. Any time I can call three all-ins while I'm holding the nuts and actually be behind, well, that's a night that I'll remember. It ain't the stuff of Hemingway, but, really, what in poker is?
Knowing now that I was not going to stop sweating until I was naked, I thought it best to leave the game. I looked at my stack. I'd earned a grand total of...four dollars. I tossed it at the dealer and headed out into the heat.
That's how I got back into the underground circuit after a four-month absence. I nearly had a heat stroke and was behind with the nuts.
Damn, I really love this fucking game.<-- Hide More
Poker is a lot more fun when you're winning. For a while there I thought I was bored with the game itself. Now it seems I was just tired of losing so damn much.
So here's a different story my friends: It seems that even a dumbshit like myself CAN win sometimes.More in this Poker Blog! -->
SETTING THE DECK
As you know, I've been playing a lot less. This from a man who used to play as much as 5 times a week. There were times I'd be so anxious to play I'd leave home early and just sit around at the game, waiting for the other players to arrive.
I've been that guy counting the other players as they trickle in and forcing the action once there are enough to start. I'm the guy who turned into a foaming lunatic on those nights when I'd have to wait 30 minutes for a seat... DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM??!!
That wasn't the worst part. I had a nasty ego about the game itself. I thought, "I'm too good to lose to THESE PEOPLE!". Imagine my surprise when it started to happen!
Just 2 years ago I was anchor of a very highly rated show. I thought the ratings were solely my doing. When things went wrong, I told the producers "Just blame it on me... they can't touch me".
I was wrong about that too.
The Gaelic game is the perfect game for my state of mind. Inside a cavernous building, it used to be used for some explosive industrial storage, there are three big tables and at least enough people for 2.
There are serious players there, like Wing the Pro and Candi Girlover, but most are there to gamble and drink. I've been both in the past and was a little of both tonight.
Early on, I tried to correct what I think have been my biggest flaws of late. (I mean at poker, of course, not my weight, my bad temper, my tendency to mock the less fortunate, etc.)
Normally, I go straight to the iPod and tune out the table. This time I kept it low and on one ear. I WANTED to hear the jabber of the game. I decided to treat that as PART of the game.
Not only did it keep me more involved in the flow of the game, thus staving off the boredom during long stretches of shit cards, but it actually helped tune my reads... like the guy who would audibly groan (an ACTING tell in this case) when someone called, or bet into, his monster hand.
I flopped two pair on him and raised his smallish flop bet. When he goaned, and twisted his face into a grimace before pushing all in, I saved myself some chips by folding. He later said he flopped a set and I totally believe him.
I correctly read players with pocket aces twice and safely folded away. I dumped OESDs and decent flush draws when I could tell I was drawing slim.
I think a hole in my game was ASSUMING I was so good at reading players that I could just DO it without any real work. But even with familiar players, even with so many tells that are practically universal, it pays to start each game with an ALMOST blank slate. Let your sensitivity to each player refine itself through the course of each new session.
Ok... I only won about $150. I had a better night going but dumped some off on a poor read late. Still, a win IS a win.
That's not the best part.
I had FUN.
I think it's easy, especially now during the big WSOP, to lose sight of the thing that brought us, most of us anyway, to the game.
I just like to hang out with degenerates sometimes. I like to talk about lowbrow crap. I like to hear the buzz of people enjoying a win and surviving a loss. I like poker. I like the game.<-- Hide More
It took about 3 weeks for me to make it back to the felt. Remember, I'm a guy who was playing as often as 5 times a week as recently as a few months ago.
I wrote a post called "Goodbye to some Forever" when my work schedule changed again. I really can't play more than once a week anymore.
But something more signifigant has happened.
After Bonnaroo, after more time at home with my family, after enjoying the company of friends away from the table....I just didn't enjoy playing poker. That's new.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I've been playing terribly. I mean, I've never been very good at poker, but I'm absolutely HORRIBLE the last few months. I've had big wins at times but that solely a factor of good cards and lucky flops. When the deck runs cold, like it did this past Friday, I can't win.
I won one hand on Friday. At one point I folded pre-flop, including from the blinds, for a solid 2 hours.
As Senor Blood said then, "That's how good poker works".
I agree, of course, but I'm still not having fun.
I wear my iPod to any serious poker game. Of course, so does everyone else. Blood wears those giant noise-cancelling ones. It helps me concentrate and cancels out a lot of the outside noise.
But they're also a problem. I mean, when I was playing several times a week and had at least one night (Rick's game) set aside for playing poker with friends while watching the NFL, having a beer or two, and generally shooting the shit.
That won't happen anymore.
Now the ONLY poker is very serious poker.
Now let's assume I use my only night out each week to play poker. When am I enjoying time with friends?
I'll be honest, dear reader, serious poker is a fascinating diversion, but I'll take a great time with good friends first.
I think Bonnaroo brought that home.
A cold beer on a pretty evening with my family and friends is more fun that watching other people scowl over bad flops while ignoring you to thier own headphone beat.
I played online Saturday and DID enjoy that. Perhaps that's because it's time I intended to spend alone anyway.
AS I STOOD UP
Leaving the game Friday, I told the table they'd never play poker with me again. Anyone who knows me well knows I'll almost certainly back down from that proclaimation. Still, I went 3 weeks without playing before last week and I'm fairly certain I can do that more often.
Then again, I played online Saturday night.
G-Vegas...find yourself another fish.
Unless you want somone to join you in DRINKING like a fish. Then feel free to drop me a line.<-- Hide More
Any good poker player knows, decisions at the table should rarely involve how much money is involved. There are good plays and bad plays. There are good decisions and bad decisions. There are good calls and good folds. If you're making those decisions based on how many double cheeseburgers you could buy with the money, you're not using the correct decision-making process.
In life, however, it is fiscally responsible to make decisions based on cost-benefit analysis. We do it all the time. Does L'il Otis really need another Pixar film? Does Mrs. Otis really need a .38 Special and a Doberman to keep her company while I'm skulking around the local card rooms?
These kinds of decisions are personal and vary from father to father and husband to husband. However, I think I've developed a pretty good poker-based rubric for making financial decisions.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Note: This rubric should only be used when making decisions based soley on money. If you think your kid is getting spoiled or your wife is taking advantage of you forgetting to get the pre-nup drawn up, you should be thinking in other terms--like maybe why your kid is a brat and your wife is already sleeping with someone else. And while I might appear to be writing a bit tongue-in-cheek here, I am 100% serious.
The Orphan Pot
The pot has been raised pre-flop and you are the only caller. The pre-flop raiser has checked to you on all streets and the action is now on you. You have ace-high and decide to make a bet to pick up the orphan pot. It doesn't matter whether you are good here. What matters is the amount you are willing to put in the pot.
The next day your wife requests to sign up your kid for an educational program with a monthly cost the same as your Orphan Pot bet. You're not sure if the program is really worth the money. Nonetheless, if it's worth a bluff, it's worth your kid learning to salsa to ska music...or whatever it is they are teaching the kids these days.
There has been action on all streets. You flopped top pair with top kicker and have not improved by the river. You think there is a chance your opponent has top pair as well, but are somewhat concerned he has made two pair. Your opponent bets the pot and you make the decision to call.
The next day your wife asks if she can fly to Dallas to see her best friend from high school. If the plane ticket costs less than the TPTK call, tell the wife to fly safe and don't sleep with any of the Cowboys. Except maybe Tony Romo.
The Pre-Flop Raise
In any no-limit game, the amount of the pre-flop raise varies from player to player. Some people stick with a standard 3x the big blind. Others mix it up. In your mind, you have a certain amount with which you're willing to raise pre-flop on any given hand.
So, it's one of those days you're walking through Target and your kid is being a good boy. He said, "Daddy! Can I have that?" If the decision is one based on money and the object of the child's affection is less than your standard pre-flop raise, you find your spot in the check-out aisle. It's time to play "Sorry, I Ate Too Many Watermelons!" on the coffee table.
The Stop Loss
You're the type of person who employs a stop-loss or only brings as much money to a game as he is willing to lose in a night.
Now, your wife wants new furniture for the living room. If said furniture costs the same or less as your nightly stop-loss, you must say yes. (Note: You can still say no if the furniture request has already been made once within the past two years).
The Third Raise
You have pocket kings and have re-raised a pre-flop raiser. You and your opponent have both doubled your initial buy-ins. Your opponent moves all-in.
If you can call with your kings, your next vacation with your wife must equal or exceed the amount of the pot.
You have called a pre-flop raise and see a flop with two opponents. The pre-flop raiser leads out, the second caller raises, and you believe you have 15 twice against at least one of the players. All three stacks are deep.
If you're willing to push,the amount you're willing to put in is no more than you should be willing to spend on a bi-monthly car payment for your wife's new ride.
There's a guy named Jackpot Jeff who doesn't really enjoy playing poker, but he does get off on gambling. The game you play allows him to straddle in any position for any amount he wants. In this case, he has straddled in his own big blind for 100x the amount of the blind. It is folded around to you in the small blind. You have A7 offsuit and have the bet covered. Jackpot Jeff is all-in and still blind.
The next night, your wife tells you she has made reservations for one of your town's nicest restaurants. If the cost of your meal is less than the amount with which you could call Jackpot Jeff's blind all-in, put on your bib, boy, because you're going to eat some grub.
These are just a few examples. Feel free to post your own in the comments. All of this, we should remember, is based on on the principle that none of these decisions should be made in reverse. That is, if your kid needs a new pair of shoes (set of braces, car insurance, etc) that cost the same as a tournament buy-in and you think, "Well, I could buy him a lot more shoes if I WIN the tournament," you shouldn't be buying in.
Of course, when it comes to our families, most of us know that--whatever the cost--if we have the money, we will spend it. However, there are days when we can't convince ourselves that our family really needs a machine gun or a G.I. Joe with the Wil Wheaton grip. Those days, the Otis Rubric will help.
Men who buy hookers, by and large, aren't spending their money for the 15 minutes of paint-by-number sex and five seconds of afterglow they get for their money. They spend their cash for The Process--the search, the choosing, the negotiation, and the eventual purchase. It's not the getting off that gets them off.
It's The Process.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I wish I could remember where I heard that. As a happily married and duly-satsified guy, I spend my money on other vices, like food, booze, and travel. Still, whether it was a working girl at the Hooker Bar in Vegas or something I saw while watching Hookers at the Point on HBO, I once heard a prostitute drop that bit of philosphy. It made sense to me, not because I'm a John, but because just about anything that gets us off has a Process.
Poker ain't much different.
My favorite part of a poker game is not flopping a set against an overpair or having my 15-outer get there. It's the ten minutes I spend before I walk out the door of my house. I walk around the house and collect the money I'm going to take for the night. I walk into my bedroom, count out the bills, wrap them up, and pocket them. I get dressed. If they are clean--or marginally so--I wear one of four pairs of boxer shorts, a particular pair of jeans, and one of about four different shirts. I walk back downstairs to find my cell phone and iPod. The cell goes in one pocket and the iPod slides onto another. I kiss the wife and kid, walk out through the garage, get in Emilio the SDV, and start the drive.
Usually, that ten minutes is all I can control about the night. I can choose what I'm wearing, how much money I take, how I exit the house, and how fast I drive. It's methodical and it rarely changes. When it does change, it throws my night off. If the wife is cranky, the kid says soemthing sappy, or my iPod isn't charged, I'm set off balance. If I have to wear a shirt I don't like or a pair of uncomfortable jeans, I don't enjoy it as much. However, if everything goes right, I'm at peace...for at least ten minutes.
Because, after that, we as poker players start to lose control. Once I walk into the room and buy-in for my standard amount, external forces come into play. Is Wyoming going to turn his hat around and offer a fight? Will the cold decks hit? Will a former cop sit down at the table and make me wonder whether I'm about to see a raid in person?
I'm not going to stretch the metaphor too far, but I have to imagine it's the same for a John who gets off on The Process. Once he hands over his money, he has lost all control with his girl. It is, for all intents and purposes, over. The excitement is in getting there, you know?
I'm not a superstitious guy. Sometimes I am rational to a fault. Still, there is something about The Process that changes me. These are things that I usually don't admit in conversation. I take care to pass myself of as a reasonable person. So, admitting the following is a bit of a look inside the Irrational Otis.
I refuse to take $50 bills at the bank or when cashing out of a game. If I somehow end up with $50s, I leave them at home when going through The Process.
A couple of years ago, I picked up a online poker site's money band and used it to wrap my cash. When I started losing, I gave the band away and went back to the drug store rubber band stash I have in my junk drawer.
I have owned no fewer than a half dozen card cappers. I've either given them all away or put them in a drawer following a losing session. I now use a chip and nothing else.
I noticed that my favorite pair of jeans was developing a hole in the knee. One more wash, I figured, would render them unwearable. So, last night, I grabbed the family and headed to a discount store to buy iron-on patches. My wife was incredulous. This afternoon, I turned the jeans inside out and essentially glued the knee back into place. The jeans are now in the washer and look like they are going to come out whole. I will wear them tonight when I walk out the door. It's just a little bit of comfort when nothing else seems to work.
Some things, though, don't work out as well. For instance, my Bongo-Playing Monkey boxers finally got so tattered nothing could save them. I actually wore them twice when they had a hole in the ass big enough to fit a grapefruit. I had to throw them away when the wife finally got disgusted. I was almost afraid to play poker the next day.
I booked a Vegas flight today and was offered the option of choosing my seats on the plane. I always sit as close to the front as I can. The seat nearest the front of the plane was 13A.
I chose seat 17G instead.
Recognizing The Process, I think, is a two-fold boon for one's game. It allows you to figure out what makes you comfortable. It also allows you to identify the silly notions that creep into your head.
More important than anything, though, is a personal study of whether you're more into The Process than the game. Sometimes I think I am. If I ever decide that I couldn't play the game without The Process, I will quit.
Because that will be the day I'm just another of Madame Poker's tricks.<-- Hide More
His name was John and he was perched in the ten seat with a couple hundred in chips in front of him. He was a regular, he knew our current dealer was slower than most. Another player told him he looked like a "Bohemian Chris Hansen." We all guessed he meant Gus.
The thing I remember most is that he enjoyed raising me.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Lady Luck and I decided to hit downtown New Orleans to watch Sharks 3D at the IMAX theatre. It'd been a long time since I'd seen a movie on a five story screen and these beasts of the sea were very impressive.
I couldn't help but think about poker as I watched the sharks.
When the movie was over we headed over to Harrah's New Orleans. We had parked in the Harrah's parking garage and it was going to cost us 20 bucks, unless I did a little gambling.
My first thought was to grind a half hour of blackjack and hope I didn't lose more than $20. Lady Luck had a different idea.
"You should play some poker," she said, "I've never gotten to watch you play."
That was all the encouragement I needed.
With a couple hundred dollars in my pocket, I got my name on the $1/$2 NL list. There was a $2/$5 seat open so I decided to sit there while I waited. I figured I wouldn't be playing long enough to make the $2/$5 table worth it. I only got one hand in there before my other seat came open.
("I had a feeling about that first table," Lady Luck would tell me later as we were leaving the casino. Looking back, I wish she would have said something before I moved.)
I took the 9 seat so Lady Luck could sit behind me. She's still learning the game so all she'd really be able to follow is whether or not I was winning or losing. A few hands in, I was up $50. Maybe I should have gotten up then.
Two players showed up shortly after I did and appeared to buy in short ($200 max, they each had $100). One of those players raised to $15, the other short buy-in called and I looked down at AQo on the button. I called as well.
The flop came down AJ9 rainbow. I liked my spot and thought I was probably ahead. The original raiser lead out for $50, leaving about $30 behind. The other player called, leaving about $25 behind. I figured I might as well get all their money in right now, so I raised to $100.
"I have another one hundred coming, right?" the original raiser asked the dealer.
I should have learned that lesson a long time ago. It's important to pay attention. I wasn't, and it cost me. He raised me another $80 and it was a tough spot to fold. At this point, I had to be worried about AK or AJ. I threw away 16 more red chips and saw AK. On top of that, we saw the third player in the hand had flopped a set of 9s.
Sorry, Lady Luck, I suck.
My first confrontation with John came a few hands later, after I bought in for another $200.
UTG, I decide to straddle to $4. John blind raises to $10. I can honestly say it's the first time a non-blogger has ever blind raised me at the poker table. And I thought this guy liked me!
A short, 20-something guy in late position called. I peeked down at T9o and decided to call as well. The flop came down 9-high with two clubs. I suppose I should have lead out. I was gun shy and I don't know why. I checked.
John bet $20. Shorty called. So did I.
The turn was a deuce of hearts. This is where I should have taken control of the hand. I didn't trust John had me beat at this point. I didn't, however, have any idea what Shorty had. I checked.
John checked and Shorty checked.
The river was the ten of clubs. I had two pair. But I hated the three clubs. I checked.
John bet $50. Shorty thought about it for a bit and called.
"You have the flush?" Shorty asked John. He began to table his hand.
"The action isn't over, sir," the dealer said, pointing to me.
It all happened so fast, I couldn't take it all in. Unfortunately, my attention was on the almost tabled hand and not on John because I didn't get to see his answer. After moving my $50 into the pot, I found out the answer was "Yes." The river brought the only card that both made my hand and gave someone else a better hand.
Inexplicably, Shorty was holding pocket Queens. And I thought I played the hand poorly.
Once again, it was about paying attention, and I wasn't. It cost me money. I was left with just $71.
"This is it, everyone," I announced to the table, holding up my chip stack, "Next hand I play, you can expect all of this to get in the middle."
That next hand would be AQo, a hand that had already cost me a lot of money. I raised to $10 from early position and got two callers. John and the same guy who dropped AK on me last time.
The flop was beautiful. Q74 rainbow. I checked hoping John would fire at my pot. He didn't but Mr. AK did, betting $35. I quickly pushed my final $61. John folded and Mr. AK reluctantly put in another $26 and flipped K6o.
Great! This will get me back up to $150 and leave me with at least a shred of dignity with Lady Luck watching.
The turn was a 3, giving him a gutshot to go along with his overcard. The river was a K.
It didn't register at first. I couldn't figure out why the dealer was pushing the pot away from me. When it finally sunk it, I was done. There was no more re-buying.
"Thanks everyone," I stood up and tapped the table. On the way out of the poker room, we got our parking validate. I guess we saved that 20 bucks. As we walked away, Lady Luck reminded me I didn't have my Luckbox with me.
Ah hah! So that was it.<-- Hide More
A couple years back when we started playing a lot more of the underground games in G-Vegas, Eddie the Dealer dropped a new hand nickname on me. He called 9-7 "The Trooper." It was a loose reference, near as I could tell, to an Iron Maiden song of the same name. I can't say I ever played the hand any more or any less because of the nickname, but I embraced The Trooper as the hand's name and addressed it as such.
Just before I left to go to Monte Carlo, I got caught up in a Trooper hand that taught me a lot of things. Most importantly, it taught me why I'll never be a good no-limit cash game player.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It was a new-to-me game on my side of town. I'd heard tale of the game several times. Badblood and G-Rob had become regulars, but because I try to play only once or twice a week, The Berry Eyuh Patch didn't fit my schedule. However, since I was due to leave town and was going to miss my regular trip to the Gaelic game, I chose to ride along with G-Rob.
It was a rather uneventful night for me. I'd been up and down most of the evening and had once reloaded my $300 buy-in up to $500. G-Rob, however, had been crushing the main table all night long. His expert get-in-behind tricks had been working very well (more than making up for his losses when he got in ahead). As midnight passed, he was up more than a dime, but seemed to be
running out of steam physically. He was ready to go home.
As a rule, I try never to carpool to games. I like the freedom to stay or the freedom to leave. This night, though, I'd ridden with G-Rob. So, when he announced he was ready to go, I accepted it. We agreed we would leave on his button. I was getting pretty tired and was stuck about $250 anyway. Over the course of the next few hands, I somehow managed to win about $150 and was getting back up close to my buy-in. I decided to be happy with that.
And, so, it's two hands to go before we leave and I'm barely paying attention. I'm paying so little attention that all I remember is that I'm in late position and flop a set of fives on a Q5x board. The Magician, one of the stronger players in town, bet into me and I simply called behind. The turn was a blank, but put a flush draw out. The Magician bet into me again, and this time I jammed. The Magician thought long and hard. He's pretty much figured out I have a set or nothing. Getting 2-1 with his KQ, he called and doubled me up.
Now I'm sitting on $800+ (a modest $300 win) and feeling content with the night. That said, now I had some chips. Worse, the last thing I want to do is hit and run. There are a couple of hit-and-run artists in town and they are the subject of much disdain. Still, I had an obligation to go with G-Rob.
Sensing my discomfort, G-Rob said he'd wait around while I played for another orbit. It wasn't much, but it was at least a gesture of good faith on my part.
It wasn't much of an orbit. Not one worth writing about, anyway. Until...The Hand.
Here's the scene: A waitress has just delivered me an un-needed beer. The room is getting a bit rowdy. G-Rob is hovering over my right shoulder. It's noisy. I get dealt The Trooper in clubs. And for some reason I decide to play it for a raise. Looking back, I could've justified it in a number of ways. Still, why is not so important as the fact that I did and the hand was off and running.
I hadn't paid much attention to the action. In fact, I don't even know where I am in the action. All I know is that the flop comes down...
Q86 with two clubs (note: I don't remember which were clubs...but I know the queen was one of them and I did not have the OESFD).
Rhodes bet $60. The Magician, having topped his stack off to around $800, raised to $225 or $250. I have my $800 in front of me and Rhodes has me covered by just a little.
Even novice poker players know I'm in a great situation here. My opponents already have lots of money in the pot. One has pretty much indicated he's ready to go the whole way with it. I have 15 twice, making me a slight favorite over most hands, given that one of the two players isn't holding the higher flush draw. I know that if I'm going to play the hand, I have to put every chip I have in the middle...right now. For the 15 twice to be a good bet, I have to be able to get as much money in the pot as I can with two still to come.
Wait! Did somebody say higher flush draw? What's that screeching? Is that tire rubber I smell?
Let me take you back to a game a few weeks before. This particualr night, I'd borrowed my Tesla-Claws (my kid's pronounciation of his man parts) from my wife and had come to play. I held K9 of spades on a 678 (two spades) board. I got in a raising and re-raising battle with another player. It ended with us each getting about $400 in the middle. As we fought to see who could get his money in first, I figured him for a set or two pair. Once the money was in the middle, I flipped my hand and said, "I have a thousand outs twice."
Not so much. My opponent flipped up AJ of spades for the gutshot and the higher flush draw.
Epilogue: Ace-high wins the pot.
At the time of that hand, I told myself I wouldn't have played it any differently and that given the same situation, I would do the exact same thing.
So, here I am at The Berry Eyuh Patch and I'm faced with a somewhat similiar situation. Only this time, I have two people in the pot and instead of $400 to push, I have $800+.
Should it have made a difference? Well, no, of course not.
My head started to swim. Push or fold. Push or fold. You're thinking too long, dummy. Push or fucking fold!
I have very vague recollection of peeling up my cards and showing them to G-Rob and Mr. Warner. I could see them convulse as they saw my hand. I think there may have been a point that G-Rob actually tried to push my chips in the middle.
And then I couldn't think about anything but The Previous Hand and my opponent shrugging as he raked in $900 with ace-high.
And that's when I broke BadBlood Rule #1: Never look at your session profit when making a decision.
I looked down at my modest profit and thought, "hey, a win is a win." I looked around the room for my balls and remembered I'd left them on my wife's nightstand at home.
My cards fell into the muck and I started making plans to hate myself for the next two months.
I didn't want to watch, but you know I did. I have to think it's a lot like walking in on your wife with another man just as they are about to climax. You want to turn around and walk out, but something inside you makes you stay.
So, the board is Q86 with two clubs. Rhodes and The Magician end up getting it all-in.
Rhodes shows QQ for a set of queens.
The Magician shows 88 for a set of eights.
The turn bricked.
The river...was the ten of clubs.
Looking back, if I had pushed, Rhodes calls for sure. The Magician might have gotten away from his set of eights, but based on the way his night had been going, I suspect he would've called as well. The pot would've been around $2,400.
My reputation around these parts is pretty poor. It's pretty common knowledge I'm not a strong cash game player. As this story spreads, I don't figure my reptutation changes much.
It's been more than two weeks since that hand and I still haven't gotten it out of my system. Apart from with a few close friends, I haven't spoken about it much. I hadn't quite found the strength of ego to put it here.
However, I guess the first step in growing a pair is digging up the ego, throwing it out, and planting some seeds of Tesla-Claws.
It just goes to show, a thousand books, a solid understanding of theory, 500,000 hands, and many years of playing mean nothing if I can't grow a pair and put the theory into practice.
So, there.<-- Hide More
Don't ask why I was playing 8-4 suited in diamonds. It doesn't matter. It was shaping up to be that kind of night. Plus, I'm sort of lost. Nevertheless, I saw two diamonds on the flop and stoppped paying attention. I paired the four on the turn and hit another diamond on the river. It was checked to me and BadBlood asked, "How much will it cost me to buy this pot?"
"Thirty-five dollars," I said. That was the amount I will was willing to call with my weak flush.
"Then I check," he said.
I saw Do-Right getting ready to table K4. I was happy my little flush was about to win.
"I have a flush," I said and tabled my 8-4 of diamonds.
"You realize you don't have a flush?" Eddie, the dealer said. He looked at me like I was something just short of a diagnosed moron.
I looked at the board and re-counted the diamonds. Sure enough, there were only two.
Do-Right tabled his K4 to outkick my 8-4 and dragged his pot.
"Cocktails!" I yelled, startling the waitress into action. I then buried my head into a felt of shame and listened to someone joke, "Five red cards...FLUSH!"More in this Poker Blog! -->
Avoided in all of this was what would've happened if Do-Right had mucked his K4. That might have been ugly.
Now, to be fair, I don't think there was a person at the table who would've accused me of shooting an angle. First, it was pretty clear how humilated I was by my mis-read of the board. Second, the $40 pot really wasn't substantial enough for me to risk an otherwise clean reputation by trying to shoot an angle.
Still, there was a guy at the table--not in the hand, by the way--who insisted on making an issue of it.
"So, what would've happened if he intentionally mis-called his hand and Do-Right mucked?" Shawshank asked.
"That would be called shooting an angle," I said, and tried to crawl further into my iPod.
And that is where the debate began. Eddie the Dealer insisted my hand would be declared dead and Do-Right would win. Shawshank said that if the other hand had hit the muck, it didn't matter. It was a dead hand and I would've still won the pot.
I was stuck in an odd situation. I actually like Eddie the Dealer and am not as big a fan of Shawshank. That said, I thought Shawshank was right. If a hand hits the muck, it's dead. I decided I'd keep my mouth shut out of respect for Eddie's authority. It was all hyopthetical anyway.
This argument kept on for some time, so long that I didn't actually pay any attention to how it ended up. Today, however, I got to thinking about it again and decided to consult the authority that was many times brought up in the middle of the argument: Robert's Rules of Poker.
It's a tricky question. Most of us believe that if cards hit the muck, they are dead. Well, not always.
Here is what Robert's Rules of Poker has to say about it (with my emphasis added):
Cards thrown into the muck may be ruled dead. However, a hand that is clearly identifiable may be retrieved at managementâ€™s discretion if doing so is in the best interest of the game. We will make an extra effort to rule a hand retrievable if it was folded as a result of false information given to the player.
The dealer assists in reading hands, but players are responsible for holding onto their cards until the winner is declared. Although verbal declarations as to the contents of a hand are not binding, deliberately miscalling a hand with the intent of causing another player to discard a winning hand is unethical and may result in forfeiture of the pot
So, basically, I interpret that rule like this: If I mis-call my hand intentionally (a subjective matter to be ruled upon by the floor) and someone mucks a winner, the dealer (if he can accurately determine which cards were mucked) can pull out the cards and determine the winner. What's more, based upon a decision by the floor, if I mis-call my hand intentiionally, I may forfeit the pot.
The way I read this rule (and based on what I know about how most poker rooms are run), if a person is known to be an angle shooter and repeatedly mis-calls his hand, the floor will finally say, "Listen, buddy, you do it again and you lose."
Now, this angle gets shot a lot more in stud games that it does hold'em games. It apparently happens enough in lowball games that Robert's Rules of Poker's lowball section has a special rule about this very subject (again, with my emphasis added).
Cards speak (cards read for themselves). However, you are not allowed to claim a better hand than you hold. (Example: If a player calls an "8", that player must produce at least an "8" low or better to win. But if a player erroneously calls the second card incorrectly, such as â€œ8-6â€ when actually holding an 8-7, no penalty applies.) If you miscall your hand and cause another player to foul his or her hand, your hand is dead. If both hands remain intact, the best hand wins. If a miscalled hand occurs in a multihanded pot, the miscalled hand is dead, and the best remaining hand wins the pot. For your own protection, always hold your hand until you see your opponentâ€™s cards.
So, my interpretation is as follows:
1) I am an idiot and probably am in need of a 30-day poker hiatus or a 30-day jail sentence.
2) If I had been intentionally mis-calling my hand and Do-Right had mucked his hand, Eddie could've tried to find the right cards and pull them out of the muck. If he could do that and Do-Right won, then Do-Right won. This is one of just a few cases when cards can be pulled out of the muck.
3) If I repeatedly violate this part of poker etiquette, the floor can penalize me by declaring my hand dead.
4) If we're playing lowball, my hand is automatically dead.
So, thereya go. That's what the rulebook says. If anything, it's a good reminder (and the same reminder Eddie offered) to always wait to see your opponent's cards before you muck. Don't trash your hand until you know you have no use for the cards. All else fails, just turn up your damed hand. I know one person (who used to write here, incidentally) who mucked a full house on the river when he was sure he was beaten by a flush.
One final note on the rules: Every card room is different and rules are enforced more strictly in some than others. What's more, Robert's Rules has a caveat that a floor person may make a ruling contrary to Robert's Rules if it is in the interest of fairness.
Thanks to my friends at LasVegasVegas for offering Roberts Rules of Poker on their site.<-- Hide More
Welcome to the big leagues, kid.
On the very first hand of the new season of High Stakes Poker, Jamie Gold decided to show a little muscle.
With a board showing 6s-Kd-Jd-Ts, Gold faced an $8,000 bet from Doyle Brunson. Gold was holding QhTh and figured it was worth more.
"I raise... I make it 20," Gold said.
"This is real money here, Jamie," Doyle told him.
"I know, I might be out soon," Jamie responded.
"That's the good news, you're never out," Daniel Negreanu added.
"How much did you start with?" Doyle asked Jamie.
"See what I have here, I forgot," Doyle says, peeking down at his AhQs, the absolute nuts. "Okay, let's go."
Two $50,000 bricks go into the pot.
"How much?" Jamie asks.
"$100,000," the table responds.
After a moment's hesitation, the cards go into the muck, "I'm not ready for that."
You're damn right, Jamie. You're not. Watching him try to bust the best poker player ever while he's holding the nuts was pure television gold (excuse the pun). And watching this douche bust over and over will be the best thing to ever happen to High Stakes Poker.
Update: Here now is the video from YouTube.
The "Spring Hotel" is like most underground games, with that cheap homegame air and the same rotating roster of players. They rake 5% of every pot with no cap. They give us free pizza from some non-National chain and offer as much Sprite as we can pissibly drink. The same dealer is always there and at least half of the table is always players I know well. Most of them are middle class types, cable installers, construction foremen, and small scale contractors. They're uniformly awful at poker.
I've made a helluva living at the Spring Hotel. I've finally become the guy the other players talk about, the ringer in the room, which suits my agressive style just fine. Most of the time it's pretty standard stuff, but I thought you, dear reader, would get a kick outta last night.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm in for $800. You read that right. I'm getting killed. It's unusual, but it happens. The max buyin is $200 and I've only brought $600. I had to take a marker for the last buy.
90 minutes later, I've built it back to $750 and I'm starting to play my game.
Then it happens.
I have J9 offsuit. It's limped 4 times to me and I limp as well. Then the man on the button, in the 10 seat, bumps it to $15.
Flop is J-9-5 with 2 clubs.
I know the 10 seat well, he never stops betting, and I decided to let him act. I check and, sure enough, he bets another $15.
I bump it to $65 and he calls. Honestly, he could have anything, but I'm most concerned about the flush.
The turn is a 7 of hearts. That means there's a SECOND flush draw on the board. I bet $125.
He instantly goes all in. He has me covered.
I'm stunned. The only thing I'm worried about is a set.
Then he says, "Would you like to see it? I'm happy to take your $125."
"Sure," I say without acting.
He shows... Q-10 offsuit.
He has a straight draw. The total bet now, including my $125, is $663.
For a full minute I kept staring at the board, I was sure there was something about his hand that I just wasn't seeing.
I win a $1400.00 pot.
I'm still baffled.
Later he claimed he thought he already HAD the straight and misread his hand. He was trying to keep me from calling with a flush draw.
Its a $700 gift.
A friggin' GIFT!
This is why I LOVE the Spring Hotel.<-- Hide More
I've been rollicking in the glow of what Blood calls "a perfect storm," the confluence of good cards, good reads, and my usual hyper-aggressive style. Actually, it's just hyper. I can tilt a table in 90 seconds flat. That's how I roll.
I had 11 consecutive winning sessions live, and many of them were for very big wins, before losing a buyin (and a half) on Monday night. Still, even when I'm playing well, I'm never far removed from thinking I suck at poker.
Probably, that's because I do, in fact, suck at poker.
But I digress...More in this Poker Blog! -->
So, I played last Friday and almost got stabbed. Actually, there's a bit of embellishment there, but not a helluva lot. I was in the 1 seat, Otis in the 2, and the guy in the 3 seat, (his nickname was "slow"... as in retarded... which he didn't seem to mind), and we came very close to a stabbing.
The strangest part of the incident is that I did absolutely NOTHING to provoke it. God knows I piss people off. Sometimes it's on purpose, sometimes it ain't, but in this case, the witnesses will attest, I did NOTHING to this particular retard. But he wanted to stab me nonetheless.
This happened at the ol' Spring Hotel. I must confess, it took me a good 6 months to understand WHY Otis calls the place "Spring Hotel" but it dawned on me last night. It's sort of like calling the host, Tallahassee. That ain't his name, but it's in the same ballpark.
I've been hitting the place at least once a week for the past several months. It's an old 2 bedroom house, just off the road, owned by a man who lives there and plays occasionally, but rented for 3 weekly games. They always play $1/$2NL with a $200 max buy.
It's wierd that I play there so much. The dealer is good enough, but likes to talk during every hand which slows the play. There's a 5% rake on every hand with no max, and with occasional dealer tokes it does crimp the EV a bit. Plus, it's a semi-advertised game, the kind every player in G-Vegas knows all about, so there is always a risk of bust.
Still, I can't stop.
I haven't had a losing session there in over 3 months. Most sessions I win big. Most players there are totally awful, and the ones with mediocre skills have more tells than a bratty first grader. I've cashed for more than 5 buyins 4 times.
500 pounds of ANGER
The problem here should be rather obvious. This is a good game, with a few dozen regular players and the house, "Tallhassee," does pretty well from the rake, but none of the players are the type who can easily afford their gambling jones. My guess is this unskilled menagerie simply passed their money back and forth for years, with the table always skimming a steady profit.
One donkey wins another donkey loses, sure that the roles will flip next week. Everyone is happy and everyone is on the verge of becoming a WINNING PLAYER.
Last Wednesday I heard one of the donkeys, one of the worst actually, say he was ready to quit his job and hit the road as a pro.
Christ I laughed at that one.
But what happens to this sort of game when ACTUAL POKER PLAYERS show up? Turns out the host ain't thrilled.
I've taken thousands from these folks. They aren't winning it back. BadBlood and Otis are now regulars as well. It's like a powerful EV magnet sucking the room to the negative pole.
The donkeys are no longer on the verge of anything.
FIRST RULE OF FIGHT CLUB
So Wednesday night, I'm cruising to another fairly profitable night, Otis wrote about it below, and I start hearing what I thought were snide barbs from the jolly... and gigantic... host.
"You need to stop bullying people," he said as I stumbled out to the pisser, "people are getting sick of that shit."
"You need to stop taking advantage of my players," he said as I walked outside to stretch my legs.
"Isn't there another game worth hitting?" he asked as I left for the night... with a net profit of about 4 more buyins.
Now, granted, he didn't appear particularly threatening at any point. Nor did I ever believe he would WANT to cause any disturbance at his game. Plus, the donkeys themselves were so convinced that I could only win through good luck and suckouts that they were bound and determined to have me return... and LOSE.
Still, it's something I mentioned to Badblood when we met for lunch on Friday.
That's right. I talked about fight club.
So, against this very G-Vegas backdrop, I picked up Blood and we met Otis at the Friday night game.
Here's how you know things are going well. Before Otis arrived I was in the 1s and a guy named "George" is in the 2 with "Slow" in the 3. George limps in and so does slow and 3 other players. I'm in the BB here and find pocket Queens. I raise it to $17 and 3 players, George, Slow, and the small blind call.
The flop is Q 5 3 with 2 clubs and the SB checks. So do I. Then George, who has a relatively short stack, pushes all in for another $55. Slow insta-calls and SB mucks. I come over the top for another $125. Slow insta calls that too.
The cards, thank God there isn't a flush draw... George has pocket Aces... Slow has a set of 5s... and I'm solid GOLD.
I'd already noticed something strange about "Slow." He didn't seem to suck at poker. I mean, he wasn't particularly GOOD, but he wasn't GOD-AWFUL either, which is unusual here.
I also realized his name wasn't one of those silly ironic kinds, like calling a fat guy "Slim" or calling Otis "Curly." "Slow" was fantastically slow. On every hand the dealer would have to yell, "Slow!... Slow!... SLOOOOOW!!!! It's your turn!" He was, at the very least, slow.
So I'm in a big hand with Slow and Shep when things get weird. I have pocket aces in late position and when Shep raises it up to $15 buckaroos... I make it $30. It's a rediculous bet, but sure to have a few callers at a game like this.
Sure enough, Slow calls and Shep min raises to $60.
I re-raised it another $100...making it $130 to Slow.
That's when something weird happened.
One of Slow's other defining characteristicts is slurred and garbled speech. I DO know he started cursing about the re-raise. That's followed by him saying, "The only things I'm good at is fighting, fucking and playing pool!"
I told Slow I don't like to fight or play pool.
Then he asked, "Have you ever been slapped right the fuck outta your chair? Has that ever happened?"
Blood chimed in with, "Not as long as I'm sitting here," which I appreciated.
Otis, as I recall, dove for cover.
I offered to settle our still very bizarre misunderstanding with a punching contest. He hits Otis' left arm and I'll hit the right, first bruise wins.
Neither Otis nor Slow found that funny.
Then Slow mucks his hand and STORMS out of the room while Shep just calls.
The flop is J 9 3 rainbow and Shep bets another $60. I push.
Shep calls and shows Big Slick.
THEN SLOW RETURNS... SLOWLY
"MotherFUCKER!" he yells, when he sees the board, "You made me fold pocket 9s! I wouldda won!"
Sure enough he would've flopped a set. By my accouting, that means I played the hand exactly right, but Slow saw it otherwise.
It's difficult to say exactly what happened for the next 20 minutes or so because, again, Slow is hard to understand, but I do know he wanted to fight.
I tried to diffuse the situation. So did the dealer, the other 8 people at our table, the 10 people at the other table and the game host. Frankly, if there's anything the host wants LESS than he wants some jackass taking his player's money... its a fist fight... or worse.
Slow storms off again.
I haven't posted here in some time. In part, it's because I've been playing fairly well lately. Moreso, it's because I've been winning at a rather incredible (and admittedly unsustainable) rate for MONTHS. I'm careful about thinking I've become a decent player because I know success doesn't always mean skill... not in the short term anyway.
Besides, of all the G-Vegas bloggers, I am still BY FAR the worst player.
It just so happens that outside of our own poker circle there are literally hundreds of really really really HORRIBLE players who have a seemingly endless supply of OPTIMISM. I have a hard time passing that up.
By comparison, TheMark's brother hosts a very nice $200NL game on Monday nights. No rake, great room, almost no risk of getting busted or stabbed... but the players always include The Mark, The Rick, Blood, Otis, and myself. Throw in a MAXIMUM of 2 or 3 donkeys and you have a VERY tough table.
I can win a little, I hope, but the money will NEVER be nearly as good.
It reminds me of my best friend from back in college.
About midway through my junior year my buddy started growing pot... really... really... really GOOD pot. As a result he started making a LOT of untaxed cash. He rented a huge house and filled it with every gigantic and fancy electonic gadget known to man. He was the king of Lexington and everyone wanted a piece.
I remember asking him once, right before graduation, when he planned to give it up. Kinda weird now that I think about it. He said, "Pot isn't really addictive, I'm not worried about quitting when I decide it's time"
But I wasn't worried about the pot... I was worried about the cash.
Nothing is more addictive than cash.
So here's one of the smartest and most ambitious guys I know, still unemployed and still risking a few dozen years in prison... for the cash he can't give up. Sad really.
I never grew weed. And I missed out on most of the great trips and cool toys back in the day. Still, I'm pretty comfortable with the decision I made.
It isn't a moral decision really, but a question of SATISFACTION.
When people asked this kid what he wanted to be one day... "stoner" was never the answer.
But I wonder if I'm near that threshold with the "Spring Hotel."
It IS a dangerous game. The risk of getting busted is constant. Otis, Blood and I have all wondered at various times if the game was fixed.
But I LOOOOVE that cash.
Speaking of cash, as I wrap up the rambling nonsense, I'm BOOKED for Las Vegas.
I'm there August 2 thru August 6.
Look me up if you'll be in town.<-- Hide More
It's been a very long six days. I may elaborate at a later date, but for now suffice it to say, I've been on non-poker tilt for the better part of the last week. Last night around 8:30, my wife told me to shut off my computer. She didn't care what I did with my time, as long as I wasn't staring at a computer screen.
Half an hour later, I was in my car, drinking an energy drink, and calling BadBlood to see if he wanted to meet G-Rob at the Spring Hotel. Blood was otherwise busy and declined.
This morning, Blood sent an e-mail that led me to believe he was jonesing for a game last night and wanted a detailed recounting of last night's events.
All in all, it was a typical night. I walked away with no real stories. Still, I did my best to give Blood a vicarious romp through last night's session. What you'll find below the cut is not good writing, a good story, or even all that interesting. However, it is poker. So, I offer it in the spirit of letting everyone know I'm still alive, still on life-tilt, and sorry I'm not writing anything worth reading.
That is, I'm still playing, just not living a particularly interesting life right now.
Badblood wrote:Spare no details
(names changed to protect...well...me)
I got there late. Made a late decision to go and then got caught in I-765 traffic. Construction had closed down every southbound lane. It ended up taking me an hour to get there. When I walked in, the game was full (with Tallahassee sitting and Dominoes in line ahead of me). Tallahassee gave Dominoes his seat. I was already on tilt from the traffic and a bunch of other stupid shit. I didn't want to wait, but stood patiently while Tallahassee and A-Rod made the decision to make the game 11-handed and let me sit.
Seat 1: Tom-Tom (now sporting a full beard)
Seat 2: Unknown (missing one tooth, likely late 40s, dark hair, sorta fat, with a piece of gold bling around his neck)
Seat 3: Unknown (talkative guy, likely 50 with white hair and a weight problem)
Seat 4: Christy Snow (pretty MILF)
Seat 5: Dominoes The Pizza Guy
Seat 6: Twirly the Cable Guy (not sure if he is really a cable guy, but I get the impression he is. Thought I saw a cable work shirt on the back of his chair. Brown visor, cheap sunglasses)
Seat 7: Otis
Seat 8: Snow's husband
Seat 9: For the life of me, I can't remember
Seat 10: T (aka Leaf Guard)
Seat 11: G-Rob
G-Rob was wearing his i-Pod when I walked in, which usually indicates to me that he is on tilt. As he was sitting next to the world's most talkative dealer, I figured G-Rob was either stuck or the dealer was talking again about his lack of a belief in mystical powers. The dealer was wearing a shirt that said Hustler on it.
I squeezed into my seat and grabbed a beer from the fridge. This was an odd moment, because I usually sit down at the same time as G-Rob, or you, or somebody else I know in the game. We learn the dynamics together. This time, though, Rob was already two hours into the game. I caught a look in his eye. It's become very familiar. I was wrong. G-Rob wasn't on tilt. He was excited.
I stole a look at his stack. I don't know how much he was into the game for, but he had at least three buy-ins front of him. Again, it all felt very odd. It appeared that Rob had been running over the table. I learned (much later, and after Rob had left) that Rob had stacked one of the older guys after flopping a set of deuces and turning a full house. However, at the time, I had no idea what kind of game Rob was playing. One thing was clear, though. It was power poker. At one point, Dominoes bet into him on a three-heart board and Rob pushed every one of his chips in the middle. Dominoes eventually folded and Rob sighed in relief. "Did you have the flush?" Dominoes asked.
"I just wanted you to fold," Rob said, stacking chips.
Bullshit, I say.
I made a quick decision to not mix it up with anybody for a while. I was still on traffic tilt and Rob seemed to be running the game himself. His eyes seem to be imploring me to get into the action, at one point even saying out loud, "Otis!" when I folded my button to five limpers.
To be fair, I'd been getting dealt trash for the first hour and the table was proving it couldn't be bluffed. I didn't see any reason to further tilt myself by stacking off and re-buying so early.
I was paying less attention than I should. My entire point of going in the first place was to take my mind off other shit and just dissolve into a game. For the first hour, I wasn't having much success. G-Rob had control of the table and the last thing I wanted to was to fund his Vegas lost summer (any more than I do on any normal night).
My lack of attention caused me to miss most of the action on the hand that finally woke me up. The board read J96K. The king had just fallen on the turn and Leaf Guard had just check-raised Rob. Rob called and the pot was huge (maybe 2.5 buyins).
When another king came on the river, Leaf Guard made the worst mistake of the night. It's the worst mistake anyone can make against G-Rob. Leaf Guard checked the J96KK board. With maybe only the slightest moment hesistation, Rob dropped about the amount of a full buy-in in the pot.
I almost felt bad for Leaf Guard. He was going to have to call off almost his entire stack to see Rob's hand. Guard's mistake wasn't the check-raise on the turn. It was the check on the river. It screamed "I don't have the king." Rob could have rags and win the pot now.
Guard thought for a long time. Too long, I discovered. Somewhere in the tank, Guard found a way to convince himself that Rob had sixes full of kings. He said it out loud as he mucked.
I almost stood up and made the following offer: If G-Rob has two sixes in his hand, I will tattoo his name on my penis.
That is, I knew Rob didn't have sixes.
Rob slowly rolled over T8 for the busted open-ender. Power poker, bitches.
I am loathe to admit this, but for the first time ever, I developed a small man-crush on G-Rob.
Guard went into a slow burn after that and started working to try to get his money back from Rob. The last straw was calling a big raise from Rob and flopping a flush with with Q7 of spades. By the time the river came, Rob had made a king-high flush with his pocket kings.
Guard cashed out as did a couple of others.
The game started changing after that and settled into the second line-up of the night.
Seat 1: Unknown (talkative guy, likely 50 with white hair and a weight problem)
Seat 2: Unknown (missing one tooth, likely late 40s, dark hair, sorta fat, with a piece of gold bling around his neck)
Seat 3: Christy Snow (pretty MILF)
Seat 4: Dominoes The Pizza Guy
Seat 5: Twirly the Cable Guy (not sure if he is really a cable guy, but I get the impression he is. Thought I saw a cable work shirt on the back of his chair. Brown visor, cheap sunglasses)
Seat 6: Otis
Seat 7: Snow's husband
Seat 8: Muhammad's brother
Seat 9: Muhammad
Seat 10: G-Rob
An hour had passed and I hadn't opened a pot. As often happens, I started to get bored and put in a live straddle.
G-Rob seemed to sense my state of mind. He's seen it before and likely (and rightly) feared I was about to start playing badly.
Muhammad (note: not a reference to his ethnicity or religion) raised it up to 3x my straddle. Three people called before it got to me. I looked down at 5s7s and muttered, "What the fuck."
I called to see a flop of 25T, two spades. I put out a bet that was maybe 1/3 of the pot and only Muhammad called. My plan to thin the field had worked, but now I feared Muhammad was on two big spades. Even if my pair of fives was still good, the flush I wanted may not be.
And then the most beautiful thing happenend. The five of hearts fell on the turn. I bet out, hoping Muhammad would give up on his flush.
And then something changed. Muhammad raised me all but about $70 of my stack. My flush draw read, I decided, was way off. Buddha had to be sitting on a pair. I thought for about thirty seconds before saying, "Well, I guess it is going all-in on the river anyway." I pushed in all my money.
Now, Muhammad went in the tank. No flush draw, no five, for sure. I almost started kicking myself for driving him out of the pot. And then, thank you Muhammad, he called.
He never showed, but he said he had pocket nines. He had two outs and missed. I doubled up and started to get happy-happy.
About ten minutes later, Twirly came in for a raise. He's a tight guy and I made a decision early on to not play many pots with him. But then I looked down to find pocket kings.
You'll remember this moment from a game a few weeks ago...
As the game started to get short-handed (G-Rob and BadBlood had left), I picked up pocket kings in the cutoff. With two limpers to me, I made a standard raise. The button called. Sitting in the big blind, one of the house players re-raised. While the guys has a fairly wide range of starting hands, he's more of a calling station than re-raiser, so I put him on something big (AA,KK,QQ). His stack was fairly short (only $64 behind). I raised enough to put him all in and was fairly surprised to see the button call. As expected, the house player called. When the flop came down Qxx with two clubs, I knew I had no chance of winning the main pot. The house player certainly had either outflopped me or was ahead the entire time. I pushed in my stack and got the button to call with his AJ of clubs. He missed, which was good, because his missed draw almost made up for the money I lost to the house player. Oh, I didn't mention? The house player, indeed, held pocket aces to my pocket kings.
Twirly, obviously, is not a house player. Nor had I seen any evidence of anything nefarious going on. What's more, I'm not laying down pocket kings. I re-raised and the big white-haired guy in the one-seat called. The guy had been doing a lot of calling, then pushing after hitting top pair all night. Twirly then announced he was re-raising all-in. He'd been chatting with Dominoes while I was playing with my chips and I already knew Twirly held aces. I mean, I didn't KNOW, but I basically knew.
That's when I made a mistake. I don't think I was letting my read get to my hands, because the next thing I knew, I was doing what I would do if I thought Twirly held queens (still a possible holding, obviously). I was pushing all in (about two buy-ins) to isolate myself with him.
Long story short, my little "plan" worked. The big guy folded and Twirly showed me his aces.
"Surprise," I muttered.
The board opened up a lot of outs for me, but none of them came. I was back where I started the night.
I looked at G-Rob and said, "Statistics are funny."
Then Dominoes said something that made me laugh and it was all better.
"Statistics, funny? Well, nine out of ten times they are."
That's gold, bitches.
As the midnight hour passed, Rob began making his move to leave. We'd only played two pots together all night. The first one, I called with top pair weak, kicker to his second pair. The second one, he made a flush at the same time I made aces up (with a better second pair than was on the board). I paid him off on that one. I think he came out a few bucks ahead of me on the two hands. No big surprise there. He's always betting. I'm always calling.
As Rob cashed out, something occured to me.
He is killing the local poker economy.
You know the kind of heater he has been on recently. Add to that, last night he cashed out for more than five buy-ins. Again.
This kind of carnage may not be sustainable. If Rob (or anybody) continues to rape the tables like this on a consistent basis, the fish beds are going to dry up. There will be no more honey in that honey hole.<-- Hide More
I'd looked foreward to Monday all weekend long. Yes, I realize just how bizarre that sounds, but I do work on the weekend so it's a bit different for me. See, we've just learned that the "G-Vegas BIG GAME" is changing formats. Gone is the $2/$5 $200-man NL OMAHA crap....with $1/$2 NLHE in it's place.
Of course this was a holiday weekend, and the best laid plans...yada yada yada...we played something else instead.More in this Poker Blog! -->
SO BLOOD CALLS....
4:30 PM I call theMark to see if the big game is on. He says he's just headed back from the lake and thinks he can get it together. At the time, I don't realize how unlikely it is that theMark will ever get it together.
4:31 PM I call Otis to ask if he's planning to play. He gives a pure-OTIS answer. Please copy this into your e-mail folder and then, as soon as you send him a message, send yourself this standard reply :
"Yeah, I'd like to but I don't know. I should spend some time with the family. Plus, I'm kinda tired. Why don't you give me a call later to see how I feel"
Rumor has it this is actually the same template response his wife gave when he proposed. That may be why it stuck.
6:15 PM I'm already fairly certain Blood is planning to play because, like 13 year old girls, we exchange a half dozen e-mails a day. I have down time after filing a report and he counts blade rotations in turbines. If he loses count, he e-mails me, the starts over.
Now he calls to see if I've heard from Mark. I hadn't. Sooo...
6:16 PM Mark is STILL en-route from the lake. He still seems to think a game will happen.
7:00 PMBlood calls again and we agree that good sense dictates several drinks before poker. Like Otis, Blood now drinks Martinis. I had beer. I'm still male
7:30 PM Once at the bar, Mark calls to say the game is on for 9PM
7:33 PM This bar, Beef O'Brady's, has that online trivia game. The whole bar is playing. The guy to my left says he'll buy me a beer if I get three correct answers.
7:35 PM He buys me a beer. I feel very smart.
7:36 PM I get my own trivia controller and log in as "Shep". "Shep" crushes the competition and beats 12 other players. Shep is also very smart.
7:50 PM Mark calls. Now the game is OFF. I order another beer and Blood has more martini. This makes me laugh. What makes a man switch to martinis? I mean, if you're some douchebag suit and you have to impress the minions...that's one thing. But when a turbine counter gets all fancy, that's just odd.
7:59 PM Guy to my left, now VERY drunk, overhears blood and I discussing poker. He says he's pretty good and so is his wife. He says he likes to play for buyins of about $20 and do we know of a game?
8:00 PM I tell the guy that I'm not good at poker but my friend (Blood) is. In fact, I say, he's semi-pro. Blood then claims to have lost $30K this month, which makes drunk guy's wife say "WOW!". Blood then adds that he just needs "one big score" to break even.
8:15 PM I grow bored with stupid trivia game at exactly the moment Mark arrives. Mark also does NOT order a martini.
8:20 PM After 30 minutes of playing with his Blackberry (not a euphamism to my knowedge) Mark finally finds a game. It's well known in G-Vegas circles that if Mark can't find a poker game, poker is NOT being played. He's like a HUMAN blackberry...in that he's distracting and hairless.
9:00PM Mark and I stick Blood with the tab. I actually hand Blood a wad of $1 bills which I assumed he could put to good use. Mark, who brought his entire poker banroll, could not seem to locate enought for his $6 bar tab.
9:30 PM We leave the bar for this game which, when I ask Mark for directions he says "I have no idea where it is. Just follow me."
9:31 PM Because we can't think of a better use of our time. We follow Mark.
9:45 PM Mark gets lost.
9:55 PM We arrive at this game which is on the back porch of nice house in a nice neighborhood. The players look as if they've been playing...and drinking...for some time. In other words, it looks great. Until we hear the structure.
10:00 PM They're playing alternating orbits of Hold-em and Omaha. The hold-em is $5/$10 limit. The Omaha is....$2 preflop $3 on the flop $5 on the turn and $10 on the river. Very odd indeed. It also guarantees that people will stick around for low draws because the odds make that a smart play. Odd.
10:01 PM Mark, Blood, and I buy in for $200 each and agree we can only stay until midnight.
11:00 PM My stack is now $450
12:00 PM I cash out for $630. I'm proud.
12:05 PM I inform Blood that I intend to play at least 1 WSOP event this summer. To be fair, I made that decision BEFORE catching lucky cards in this stupid game. I'm trying to get Blood to schedule his trip to coincide with mine.
I'll be going the last week of July or the first week of August.
Have a nice day.<-- Hide More
She pressed her knee into my leg. She was sending me a message, hidden under the table from the rest of the players. It was different from when she placed her hand on my arm or whispered in my ear. I knew exactly what she was trying to tell me here, and it excited me.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Two hours earlier...
"Rachel, what's the best hand in poker?" I asked her, leaning past Jena (pronounced like Geena). Rachel sat in the 4 seat with a twenty-something volleyball player in the 5 seat. I was in the 7 seat, where I'd been for the last 6 hours.
"Seven-two off-suit," she replied, not missing a beat.
Jena looked back at me, eyes wide, with a quizzical smile, as though she was the only one not in on the joke. Thankfully Jason was standing nearby, ready to deliver even more assurance.
"Hey Jason," he walked over to us, "what's the best starting hand in poker?"
"It's seven-two off-suit," again, not a missed beat.
This time, Jena narrowed her eyes at me. "Okay, what makes that hand so good?"
I explained it to her. I told her how it's important to play them like Aces. I told her how it proves that poker is often not about the cards you hold but about how you play them.
Two hours even earlier...
The table was dead. We had just 6 players at the table, with three empty seats and a stack that was soon going to file a missing person's report for its owner. I wanted to leave. I was in a bad mood. I had just misplayed a set of queens and run right into a nut flush. My $650 stack (from my $200 buy in) was back down to $200. We couldn't keep a full table and the ones who were there bored me to tears.
Then she sat down.
I was immediately taken by her smile and bright eyes. She introduced herself and wanted to know my name. She repeated it two or three times, telling me she had trouble remembering names and didn't want to forget it.
"Do you mind if I straddle you?" I asked. Yes, I never miss an opportunity to pull this one out.
"Ooooh, now I've heard of that, but I don't quite know how it works. Will you teach me?"
I held back some responses that crossed my mind, and that was probably for the best. We played the hand and I explained how it worked. She would go on to straddle a few times herself throughout the evening.
On the third hand after she sat down, I raised from middle position with pocket tens. The calling station in the one seat did what calling stations do. The flop came down with an Ace and two undercards to my pair. He checked and I bet out, trying to see where I was. He, well, what do you think he did? The turn was another ace. He checked and I checked behind him. It was rather obvious, at that point that Ace-rag would win this pot. The river was a blank and he lead out this time.
"Your ace is good," I said, sliding my hand to the dealer. He flipped over his Ace-6 offsuit, a stupid grin on his face. "That was pretty tricky, checking the turn like that," I told him.
Jena leaned towards me, "How'd you know he had that?" I tried to explain the read as best as I could. This guy was terrible, but managed to river three pots off me already. Eventually, I knew he'd give the money back, I was just hoping it was to me. My intuition, however, seemed to impress Jena, and, well, I like to be impressive. She told me she had only been playing poker for a few months and wanted to learn as much as she could.
Over the next orbit she tripled her buy-in.
Those doe eyes weren't fooling anyone, anymore. Whether she had just started playing or she enjoyed telling people that, her instincts were solid.
"Floor! Can we card her?" I called.
She laughed, "I have a son who's older than 21."
(Insert record scratch here.)
(Insert rewind here.)
She laughed, "I have a son who's older than 21."
"Really?" I asked, honestly surprised. Jena is an older woman, I knew that, but I would not have guessed she was a 42-year old mother of four. In fact, I still think there's a 25% chance she's just running a bluff. If she's this beautiful at 42 and after raising 4 children, her husband is one of the luckiest men I know.
Back to the present...
Jena's chip stack had taken a pretty significant hit. I doubled through her when my overpair was bigger than her overpair. On the very next hand, her pocket K's were cracked by a set of 5's. She was now stuck a hundred bucks or so and had reloaded.
I folded UTG and a new player in the 10 seat raised from $2 to $20. The "standard" raise at the table varied wildly throughout the day. We were now at the $17-$25 range. It was folded around to Jena.
"Raise," she said. And that's when she pressed her knee into my leg. She had the Hammer.
She bumped it to $40 and the 10 seat called.
The flop was AQ4, two diamonds. Jena bet $20. The 10 seat wasted no time in raising it to $60.
"You can lay it down," I whispered to her. I had a feeling the 10 seat was pretty big and I felt bad that she was going to lose more chips because of our obsession with 72o.
She was committed to the hand, just like I told her you had to be a few hours earlier. She called.
The turn was the Q of diamonds. Jena peeked down at her cards. I knew she was looking for a diamond to see if she had any potential outs. She bet again and this time the ten seat pushed for his last $125 or so.
Jena thought about it a moment and called. Leaning into me, she whispered, "I need a diamond." The river was a deuce, but not a diamond. It wouldn't have mattered. The 10 seat flipped AQ. She was drawing dead after the turn.
Jena proudly flipped over her 72 offsuit, "I knew you had the Ace," she said, "but I was hoping for the diamond." The rest of the table was stunned. Most of them weren't there when I told the tale of the hand. Even Rachel had vacated her seat.
She looked at me with a big smile. "That was fun," she said.
"You're my hero," I told her.
"I heard you say I could lay it down, but I didn't want to."
We all know that playing The Hammer isn't easy. And few of us have been willing to risk $200 with it. But there she was, playing it for me.
She reloaded again and told the table she was sorry but had no more money in her purse. This was it. I didn't like seeing her lose. She was too much fun. In fact, she was the only thing that made it worth playing for me at that point.
A few hands later, her AQ would turn top pair. All the money would go into the pot and the new 4 seat would flip over a flopped set of 7s. Jena laid her head on my shoulder, slowly shaking it. The cards had been unkind to her on a few big hands.
Her night was over. The good news is that her husband had turned $500 into $1700 at the $2/$5 NL table. The bad news for me is that she was going to bed. Before leaving she invited me to her room.
It's not what you think.
I mentioned I had a two hour drive home once I stopped playing and that I might come back on Sunday. She told me that she and her husband had an extra bed if I wanted to spend the night in New Orleans. I didn't take her up on her offer.
I wish, however, that I had left when she did. A few hands later, my flopped set of 7s lost to that 4 seat when he turned his two outer. The very next hand, my JTs flopped trips, but I lost a sizable chunk to KJo. My long day saw me go from $200 to $650 to $100 to $600 to -$200.
I was tired, losing and my Muse was gone. It was time to leave. But hopefully I'll encounter Jena at the tables again some day. It was all worth it.<-- Hide More
On Friday afternoon I met my older daughter in the driveway, after she'd stepped from the bus. Before she chould toss her backpack into the pile of shoes in the corner, I'd whisked her off to Barnes and Noble. I wanted a copy of the Bonds book "Game of Shadows" and I like for her to get excited about new books.
Oh, and I picked up a copy of "Bluff" magazine. It contains the following DIRECT QUOTE: "The debonair and handsome G-Rob, who is also a local G-Vegas Celebrity."
Let me just say, Pauly is the single greatest writer working in America today. I've mentioned the article to my wife a few (fewer then 40,000) times and each time she reacts the same way.
"Well, I always thought you were handsome... but debonair? I think Pauly does drugs."
For the record, he does.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Helluva shitty week in the real world, but a damn good one in poker. Funny how that works. I needed to spend time thinking about NOTHING but cards, and doing so makes me a better player. I cleaned up at the "Spring Motel" winning about 4 buyins there. I was up 7 buyins after one hour at the "medium game" the next night.
As Otis mentioned below, the raked game was packed on Wednesday night. Otis and I found seats at table 2 which was just starting when we arrived so we all started with the same $200 stack. It was totally frigging strange.
1 seat: It was first occupied by the owner of the house who then rents it to the guys who run the game. He's a fairly tight-passive type. On one hand I caught him raking $20 from a $220 pot. I asked how much the rake was. "Well, I know you just saw me take $20," he said, "it's 5% with no max."
$20 is a lot more than 5%. I complained and he dug into the tank, fished out $5, and tossed it to the guy who won the pot. He still took too much. C'est la vie in the underground games.
Later, the big fella who RUNS the game sat down in this seat and seemed to rake it fair.
2 seat: A guy named "George." He appeared, and sounded, like a guy of middle eastern descent. I didn't ask. When he sat down I was sure I was about to get taken. The big guy in seat one said, "Be easy on George, he's never played hold-em before!" Yeah right, I still say that at almost every game. As it turns out, this was almost certainly true here. The guy was AWFUL and I stacked him twice.
3 seat: Debonair and Handsome.
4 seat: The absolutly most incredible calling station of all time. He never once folded to a preflop raise once he'd limped into the pot. NOT ONCE in 5 hours. I saw him drop at least $900.
5 seat: The guy in the 4 seat only brought $200. He borrowed the rest from this guy, who also finished down.
6 seat: A fairly solid tight-aggressive type with thinning hair and self-deprecating humor. He called himself "Otis," because that's who he was.
7 seat: A guy who raised with position EVERY TIME. Then he folded to almost any action at all post flop. I called him "Friendly."
8 seat: I met this guy at theMark's Friday game. A restuarant employee with a very Tight style. Not great, but at this table, one of the best.
9 seat: Otis just wrote about this cat. Lemme just say, he was one of the worst players I've ever had the dear pleasure of meeting. He'd open raise, in a $1/$2NL game, UTG, for $75. I'd call with any ace. He did it twice with small pocket pairs and lost both times. I took more than $100 from him after I checked in the BB and blind checked the flop. I had Q3 off and the flop was Q36 rainbow. It was checked around.
The turn was a jack and I checked again. He bet $25 which I checkraised to $50. He said, "Damn, I KNEW you had a queen." Then he called.
The river was another blank and I bet $50 more. He said, "It's obvious to everyone here that you have a queen. You're not fooling anyone."
Then he called.
He had a Jack. For a pair of Jacks. My 2 pair was, obviously, good.
All night I kept saying, "If I keep getting cards, I LOOK like a good player." What I meant was, "If I keep playing with people like you, I'll be able to retire at 40."
By comparison, the bi-weekly "medium game" is a shark tank big enough to make David Blaine sweat. I caught cards, and won pretty big. Here's how...
1 seat: We don't have a dedicated dealer at my house, thus, I am the one seat.
2 seat: Shep Tiltstein. Shep has been recovering from pneumonia. For a year. Really, the only time Shep doesn't sound like he's suffocating is when he's smoking. I busted Shep with TPTK on a K Q 4 7 10 board. Shep pushed on the river and, after I called and turned over my cards, he said, "I have the straight." Turns out he had A-10. For a pair of 10s. I told him, "To be fair, I didn't put you on the hand you thought you had."
3 seat: Randy. True to form Randy saw 4 flops in 5 hours. He won at showdown. If Randy is betting on the turn... you're beat.
4 seat: BadBlood. He finished up for the night. I never won a hand against him. He's a better poker player.
5 seat: TeamScottSmith. Scott came late and played his first hand. Raised in fact. I called with position and 3-6c and flopped 2 pair. He pushed with his pocket 10s and he rebought.
6 seat: Rankster. More on busting him in a bit.
7 seat: Teddy Ballgame. I took one buyin from Ted. He raised, I re-raised with QQ, and he popped again. I pushed and won a race against his AK. On the bright side, Ted made Shep feel a lot better with his Level -1 thinking. We're in a 5-way limped pot after the flop and it's checked to Teddy who goes deep in the tank then says, "Awww no fellas, no free cards for you."
He then bet $7.
We read it for a bluff, however.
Teddy had already folded pre-flop.
8 seat: Clot. He's a friend of Blood's. I think he finished up. I never played a big hand against him.
9 seat: Trey. He's a neighbor of Ted's and a first-timer at the "medium game." He now has a permanant invitation. In a hand with he and Rank, I was in MP and Rank was the button. I limped with 8-8 and Rank raised, Trey called and so did I.
I flopped a set and busted both players. Rank had AK on an ace-high flop. Trey had middle pair. I also busted Trey when my AA flopped a set. He pushed... with an inside straight draw.
10 seat: The Mark. He took a big pot from me when I flopped a set of 4s on a 3,4,7 board. Mark held 5,6.
For the night, I finished up a little more than 4 buyins.
Mark won 3.5 buyins.
Blood won a buyin and a half.
Teddy won a buyin.
Clot finished up.
So did TeamScottSmith.
Again, Trey is ALWAYS welcome.
I can't get to Vegas until LATE July. I'll probably pick a late WSOP $1,500 tourney and play that. I wonder if any other bloggers, besides Otis, will be there. If so, and if you're planning to play, drop me a line. I still haven't picked the dates.<-- Hide More
"I always keep a roll of duct tape and some rope in the trunk of my car."
I was doing my best not to look at the guy while he talked. I already knew what he looked like. Closely-cropped hair, a few pock-marks on his face, and arms that looked like he used to be either really muscular or really fat, but was neither anymore.
"You never know when you're going to have to make a trip to Alabama and drop someone in the bayou."More in this Poker Blog! -->
We were back at the Spring Hotel. G-Rob was in the three-seat. I was in the six. We'd agreed, following a hellish five days, that we wanted to sit and think about nothing but poker for a few hours.
When we pulled down the wooded, gravel driveway, it was clear that it was no ordinary night. It was only 8pm and parking was scarce. By the time we reached the door, two tables were running and a third was on the way. We drew seats in the back room and saw only a few familiar faces. Everybody else, including the strange-armed dude in the ten-seat, were new to us.
Over the years, I'd heard my grandpa use the term, "honey hole," and I always thought he was talking dirty. Because, frankly, if I needed a euphamism for the holiest of holies, I'd call it a "honey hole" every day of the week and twice on Independence Day. But, Grandpa meant a place where he could go fishing and always catch a mess fit for fryin'.
Last night, the Spring Hotel was a honey hole I'd be proud to show to my closest of friends. It's the type of thing that good sense tells you to keep a secret. But, if my blogging breathren were to come to town (the ones that can exploit a good game and fly under the radar like nobody's business--and I have a couple of you in mind), I'd take them in and let them run wild.
Since I somehow managed to walk out a loser (no need to go into how that happened), I'll let G-Rob tell you how he mopped up the game. Me, I'm more concerned about the ten-seat. He was the type of guy that would raise 35 times the big blind under the gun with a pair of sixes. He was the type of guy who would bet into a three-spade, paired board with nothing better than second pair and then call an all-in (have you seen my queens full, friend?).
See, I had a read on the guy like few reads I've had in my life. While I couldn't tell you his holding, I knew when he had a winner and when he had a loser. This wasn't a special talent on my part. I brought in Stevie Wonder and he picked up on it, too. In fact, after betting the hell out of my AK on a high-high board, I was overjoyed to lay down my hand when a third heart fell on the river. The ten-seat shook his head, muttered something about me hitting the flush, and then pushed all-in (this, after check-calling through the flop and turn). Like I said, Helen Keller was reading this cat.
So, I knew when to believe the guy and when not to believe him. And then he drops, '"I always keep a roll of duct tape and some rope in the trunk of my car."
I was eying up the Middle Eastern guy with the sweet cigars in the two seat, but I stole a glance at Mr. Tell. He was muttering, presumably for the nine-seat's amusement, about tying up girls and using duct tape to cover their mouths. He was forcing a bit of humor into his whispers, and finished up with, "Aw, I'm just kidding."
But, I had a read on the guy, you know.<-- Hide More
Well, I won't say my ego is crushed by the fact that just two people found time to guess what my opponents were holding. Ah, screw that. I hate you all!!
Okay, now that I have that out of my system, I'd like to thank Wes and EZ for their guesses (and Joe Speaker for his IRC guesses), but no one came close. I'm not surprised, however, because you're guessing on incomplete information and my opponents are idiots.
If you want to guess, feel free to go back to this post before reading on...More in this Poker Blog! -->
You may recall this was the first pot I played at the NL table after sitting down. This was after I busted out of the tourney in tilt-inducing fashion. To recap, I straddled to $10 and was dealt the Hiltons, then raised to $40 preflop with three callers, lead out with $100 on an undercard flop of T96 rainbow, was called for less by a short stack all in and was pushed all in by the other player in the hand. I called and won the pot after another T on the turn and an 8 on the river.
So what were my opponents holding?
The player who called all-in for less was holding J9o. That means he felt that second pair moderate kicker was good or that he could draw out to two pair, trips or a runner-runner straight. The player who forced me all in was holding J8s. That means he was willing to risk another $150 on an open-ended straight draw or a runner-runner flush draw. I was 60% to win after the flop and 71% to win after the turn (which gave the OESD a flush draw as well). It was an $800 pot.
This hand was a little more complicated and demonstrated my abilities as a luckbox. It was also very profitable. I was dealt AKo in the SB and raised from $5 to $25 with 4 callers. The flop was JT7 rainbow and I lead out with $60 getting two callers. The turn was a K and I checked as did the cutoff, but the button pushed in for his last $125. I thought for a bit and called and then knew I was in trouble when the cutoff called behind me. I told the dealer I needed help and he gave me the Q I wanted. I pushed with the nuts and the cutoff reluctantly threw in the rest of his stack.
So what were my opponents holding?
The button flopped the mortal nuts. He was holding 89o which he felt was good enough to call my 5x raise (although considering the 3 callers before him, I can't blame him). His smooth-call on the flop, however, was his downfall especially since I lead out. I most certainly would have laid down to a reraise.
The cutoff turned the 2nd nuts. He was holding Q9o, which was an even more curious preflop call but I can understand why he called the flop bet. His check behind me on the turn however, lead me to believe he wouldn't call the button's push and that kept me in the hand to see the river. Had he lead out on the turn, and the button pushed behind him, I would have assumed I was way behind and perhaps laid down there. The Q on the river was a three-outer.
Preflop I was 56%. Postflop I was 14% and the 89o was 62%. After the turn, I was 7%, the 89o pushed despite drawing dead and the Q9o was 93%. After the river, well... lets just say the $900 pot was all mine.<-- Hide More
I was back at the Coushatta Casino today. I decided to skip the Sam Farha appearance and take at shot at the weekly $200 NL tourney. I have to get back into rhythm before I take on the WSOP Circuit Event at the end of the month.
One big change this time around was my card protector. For more than a year, I'd been using a Hurricane Ivan commerative coin. It's done pretty well for me, but it was time for something new. And that something is Kelly Clarkson.
As you can see from the chip stack, she came through big. After a disappointing end to the touranment, I turned a $300 buy in into $1300 before walking out of there with a little more than a grand. Not bad at all.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Get in Behind and Suck Out
I ignored my own rule and it cost me. Apparently getting all my chips in as an 85% favorite with one card to come is a bad idea. If you 'd like to skip the bad beat story, skip down to the next bold title. Although what lead to this particular bad beat is a little unusual...
I'm in the BB with 53c. It's limped around and, naturally, I'd like to see a flop with this hand as cheaply as possible. The dealer lays out Jd-Tc-4c. I check and so does everyone else. The turn is the K of clubs and I've made my flush.
I check again planning to check-raise to find out where I'm at in the hand. A guy who clearly hadn't played many tournaments decided to bet. We start with T8000 and he and I are both near starting stack. Blinds are just 50/100 and there's about 400 in the pot. He grabs four T1000 chips and four T500 chips. For some reason, he sets the four T1000 chips across the line before tossing in the four T500 chip and announcing, "2000." Because it all crossed the line, he was in for T6000.
I knew there was no way he had the flush so I went ahead an pushed all in. I suppose I could have just called, knowing my hand was vulnerable to a four flush, but I knew at worst I was about a 60% favorite if he had a set and an over-club. I pushed and he called, flipping over Jc-3s. He was 14% at that point, but the 6 of clubs on the river crippled me. I was out a few hands later.
Getting It Back
I thought about going home. The club on the river was like a gut punch. Of course, I've dealt enough of those out to know you have to bounce back. I've generally done very well at the NL game so I was confident I could win my buy in back.
The table was pretty passive with a lot of pre-flop limping and a lot of post-flop calling. It's just the kind of table I want to be at.
I folded for the first orbit until I was UTG. I decided to straddle to see what the table reaction was and put $10 out there. The dealer was kind enough to give me pocket Q's. Three people called the $10 and then called my raise to $40.
The flop was T96 rainbow. I put another $100 into the pot. One player pushed all in for less and another, who had seen every flop since I sat down, pushed me all in.
Ugh. Am I going home after one pot? There was no way I could fold. I called and flipped my Q's. My opponents decided to keep their hands secret until the end of the deal. The turn was another T. I thought I was outdraw. The river was an 8 and I thought someone made their straight. When it was all said and done, the dealer shipped the nearly $800 pot my way.
Can you guess what they were holding?
The Luckbox Returns
By the time I went to grab some food, I was up near $1200. When I got back to the table, the cards got really cold. Suddenly I was back at about $800. That's when I found Big Slick in the SB.
I raised to $25 preflop after five players limped to me, and four players called my raise. The flop was JT7 rainbow. It was checked to me and I put out a $60 continuation bet. To my disappointment, two players called, the cutoff and the button.
The turn was a K. This time I checked, even though the card improved my hand. I wonder if I should have bet here, but I didn't. The cutoff also checked and then the button immediately pushed all in for his last $125. The bet seemed fishy to me since he did it so quickly. The pot was now $435. I was getting 3.5-1 on my money. I thought there was a chance I was ahead, and if I wasn't I thought an Ace or a King might win it and a Queen would give me the nuts.
I called and, shockingly, so did the cutoff. At this point, I knew I was behind. "I need some help," I told Joe, the dealer. He peeled a Q off the deck and laid it on the river.
"All in!" I declared. The cutoff reluctantly called with his last $75 (not sure why he still had it at this point). And when the cards were shown, the $900 pot was shipped my way.
Can you guess what they were holding?
I'll post the answers tomorrow.<-- Hide More
When you walk in through the sliding glass doors, there are some women on the couch watching "Deal or No Deal" on a 64 square foot projection screen that doubles as one of the house's interior walls. To any observer who has driven through a foggy night, down an construction-crowded interstate, and then down a long, dark, unpaved driveway, this would seem like an ordinary rural house. Though the dozen or so vehicles parked in the back field might be a tip-off, the casual onlooker would only be guessing at what was going on behind the hollow wooden door to his right.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I knew, of course. I'd been there before. In an earlier post, I dubbed it the Spring Hotel. What's more, two of my poker running buddies (frequent readers know them as BadBlood and G-Rob) were already in the room, sitting around a curiously designed poker table. Black speed-cloth covered the top and a familiar dealer sat in the box.
I killed time waiting for a seat by playing a five-handed turbo SNG in another back room. I chopped the tourney and sneaked into the empty one-seat in the main game.
T.J. Cloutier told a story in a book with Tom McEvoy about winning $8000 in an illegal card room in Dallas, Texas. With big money in his pocket, he worried about getting to his car and on the road without getting robbed, or worse yet, killed. He knew one guy in the room was known to carry a gun and could be suspected of being a robber. Sure enough, that guy offered to escort Cloutier to his car. Cloutier said in the book that he wasn't sure whether to be more worried about getting robbed or about the guy who was escorting him.
I thought about this story as I drove the 20-something miles back home tonight. Back in Cloutier's illegal poker heyday, river suckouts were not among the players' chief worry. While calculating pot odds, hiding their tells, and making sure they didn't go broke, they were also worrying about being cheated, robbed, or busted. Every corner was a dark one and all the old school Texas road gamblers couldn't have been happier than when poker--legal, regulated poker--exploded in Las Vegas.
The Spring Hotel takes care of its players. As the sun set, pizza and lasagna arrived as a prelude to the 64 square foot image of Kellie Pickler getting the boot on American idol. After all the bellies were full, the players had their choice of snacks, sodas, beer, and liquor from a fully stocked fridge. I'd venture there are even very few casinos where you can get a can of Diet Coke, a plate of lasagna, a Bud Light, a shot of whiskey, and a Hostess Twinkie all within 25 feet of each other--and for free.
What's more, the Spring Hotel offers a professional dealer in the box. Anyone who has only played home games or player-dealt games does not know what they are missing. When a full-time pro dealer is running the show, the number of hands you see per hour skyrockets. What's more, you can concentrate more on the game and less on making sure you get the card to the eight seat from the three seat without flipping over an ace.
Of course, players are paying to play. The house charges a rake, takes money for a high-hand jackpot (straight flush to the ten or higher to qualify), and expects players to tip the dealer. At the Spring Hotel, the rake is reasonable, the jackpot is not small, and the dealer is good. So, it makes it all worth it.
There will never, ever be a poker game where someone will have an absolute 100% certainty that they aren't being cheated. Whether online, in Las Vegas, in a homegame, or in an underground card room, there is always the chance (no matter how minute) that someone is cheating.
Thankfully, the legal live card rooms and online poker sites have put in lots of money, effort, and security to watch out for cheating. That effort has allowed its players to feel as comfortable as possible while playing. Of course, there will always been worry warts and naysayers who refuse to believe the games are legit. There's no getting rid of those people.
Underground cardrooms are different, however. At the Spring Hotel, for instance, the guys who own the action and run the games often prop to keep the games going. While there is little difference in this and dealers playing in shift in some casinos, there is a nagging part of any reasonable brain that whispers, "keep an eye out for these guys."
I'd been playing a pretty roller coaster game since I sat down. I'd turned a set against a guy on a flush draw that missed and nearly doubled my stack. Later, I gave the dude half a stack back when he pushed all in under the gun. When I found pocket nines, I decided to gamble--putting the guy on 25% overpair, 25% underpair, and 50% big ace. He had aces and I, as expected, lost. Later I picked off a couple of loose players with my top-pair top kicker and made back what I lost with my gambling call earlier.
As the game started to get short-handed (G-Rob and BadBlood had left), I picked up pocket kings in the cutoff. With two limpers to me, I made a standard raise. The button called. Sitting in the big blind, one of the house players re-raised. While the guys has a fairly wide range of starting hands, he's more of a calling station than re-raiser, so I put him on something big (AA,KK,QQ). His stack was fairly short (only $64 behind). I raised enough to put him all in and was fairly surprised to see the button call. As expected, the house player called. When the flop came down Qxx with two clubs, I knew I had no chance of winning the main pot. The house player certainly had either outflopped me or was ahead the entire time. I pushed in my stack and got the button to call with his AJ of clubs. He missed, which was good, because his missed draw almost made up for the money I lost to the house player. Oh, I didn't mention? The house player, indeed, held pocket aces to my pocket kings.
For one half a second--if that--my brain whispered: you just got cold-decked, buddy. Then it was gone. Reason prevailed and I went back to playing.
In the past four months of online cash games, I've had pocket kings 127 times. In those 127 times, my pocket kings have been beaten by pocket aces four times. That's a liitte over three percent if you're keeping score. That is to say, running kings into aces happens. It doesn't happen very often, but it happens. If I were to focus on the four times I'd run into aces with kings, I'd not be able to enjoy the 77% of the times my kings held up for a win.
So, let me get one thing perfectly, perfectly clear: At no time did I ever believe or have reason to believe I was being cheated. To make everything very clear, I think the Spring Hotel game is on the up and up, fair, and not a place where I have to worry about getting cheated. Finally, if you need any more evidence that I'm not worried, I plan to go back.
All of that said, that half-second of worry is what has me pissed off tonight. It's not that I got unlucky. It's not that I only walked away from the evening with $11 in profit. It's that for one millisecond, I had to worry at all.
Who do I blame for this? Well, of course, the government.
Around town, you can find a game just about any night of the week and just about any level you want. The poker boom has spawned a cottage industry of poker entrepreneurs who know the demand is high enough for them to risk getting busted to provide the poker supply. Just a few years ago, finding an underground cardroom in these parts would've been very tough. Now, I get Evite invitations to tournies on the weekends. When I was in Dallas last week, I met people who make a good living running illegal cardrooms. One, if not more clubs there have web sites with schedules, directions, and everything.
The demand is intense. How do I know? Well, I get to play poker all over the world. I have unlimited opportunity to play for as high of stakes as I want online. And I want to play live in my adopted hometown. Why? I love to play live. I love the characters, the camaraderie, and the face-to-face psychological game.
So, if a guy like me who is fortunate enough to get to play poker just about anywhere he wants is hellbent on playing live in rural underground rooms, how do you think the people who are stuck here feel? That is, there's not a legal cardroom within a seven hour drive of this town. If someone wants to play live, they have to play illegally. And if they don't have a homegame, by God, they are going to play in a raked game in one of the rooms around town.
Earlier in the night, there was a three-way all-in preflop for a substantial amount of money in which a house player was the last to call the all-ins. One player held pocket aces. Another player held pocket jacks. The house player held pocket deuces. The house player spiked his deuce on the river and the pocket aces holder stormed out without a word.
Now, his exit didn't allow him to see that the house player donated all of his winnings and more back to the table within an hour. His exit didn't allow him to see that the house player continued to play as loose as he did with the deuces. Not knowing the loser, I don't know what was going through his head as he left. However, I wonder if he thought for just a second that he might have been cheated.
That's my point. The sheer nature of illegal cardrooms offers at least the possibility that the game might be fixed. While I can't stress enough that I believe this game is fair, the mere appearance of any impropriety hinders a player's ability to see things in a reasonable way, to accept that there are donkies everywhere, to accept that suckouts happen, and to accept that they got unlucky. That is, you start to see cheating where it doesn't exist.
So, the government.
I live in a state where thousands upon thousands of lottery tickets are sold every day. The legislators sold the conservative public on the game by saying a portion of the proceeds would go to fund education. This is the same state where 82-year-old ladies get busted for playing poker.
The overall hypocrisy sticks in my craw like a catfish bone.
So, tonight (this morning, actually) as the caffeine makes its way out of my bloodstream, I'm not angry that I got unlucky. I'm not angry that I didn't make any money. I'm not for a full second believing I got cheated.
I am simply pissed off that there is not a legal cardroom in this state where I can go and get unlucky without the worry of being raided, over-raked, or cheated.
I'm just sayin'.<-- Hide More
It's a shame, I thought, that big boys so easily accept the nickname "Buddha." I was taking a piss on a brick wall and noted there were no pros next to me. Once again, it would be up to Pauly to chronicle the urination habits of the big time players. As for me, I would walk around the corner and scare Buddha out of his pants.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Buddha was young--maybe 21--and wore a Detroit Tigers cap. He chastised me for scaring him and stubbed his cigarette out in sand-filled pool chemical container. I looked around for a pool but only saw a big, black satellite dish circa 1990. I wondered, for a moment, how in the hell I ended up in Spring Hotel, and then decided I really should get back to playing cards.
Spring Hotel was not the real name of this place. It's real name is identifiable enough and the location is small enough that using the real name could draw unwanted attention. That said, finding this place doesn't happen by accident. One must travel for miles down a major highway, pull off on a dark exit, and then drive down a long, dark driveway. It's only then that you end up at the Spring Hotel game.
In through the back door, there is a woman laid out on the couch watching TV projected ten feet wide across a white wall. In the back room, a huge bald man is dealing to six or seven people. In another room, a young, smaller man is dealing to an almost full table.
I was feeling froggy. I had an energy drink and Diet Mountain Dew in me to counteract the drinks I'd had at The Mark earlier in the night. I had chopped a single-table tourney with Shep and Mrs. All-In and had a few extra bucks in my pocket. I told my fellow road trippers I planned to walk into the game and pretend to be the drunkest guy in the building.
There was an old man in the one-seat. I got the impression this was his game. Designated dealers, raked pots, and a fridge full of beer and soda for our pleasure. Still, he was playing, and playing a lot of hands.
I slurred my words, not sure if it was intentional or not, and then played Q6o like it was the nuts. I bet into the old dude on every street. He called me down with J2 and took the pot with bottom pair.
"Can I get you something to drink?" he said. He was loud, brash, and southern.
A couple of minutes later, there was a gallon of whiskey sitting beside me.
"How about something to chase that down?" the old man asked. "A coke do?"
And then there was a can of Coca Cola beside me. I ripped the cap off the whiskey and turned up the bottle. The big dude in the box calmly said, "Use a glass, please, buddy."
I pretended to be embarassed, sure now that my image was firmly in place. And then something odd happened.
A lady, nicely dressed for maybe dinner at Steak and Ale or the Heritage Cafeteria, walked in and said something quietly to the old man. I've seen the conversation in card rooms all over the place. Without too many words, I saw the man pull some cash out of his wallet and hand it to the lady. I remember thinking she was probably 60. She wore a scarf around her neck. In a couple of seconds, she was gone with the money.
I looked around my table. I knew more than half the people there. The rest of the people were ready to look me up because of the little show I put on. I made a decision.
In the hallway outside, I asked the big man if it was okay to change games.
"If there's an open seat, feel free."
The one seat in the other room was open. The table topper felt like it had been covered with the leftover fabric from a 1985 La-Z-Boy. I fell into my seat and saw the players exchanging glances. I realized quickly they weren't talking about me. The lady was walking back in.
Within an hour, a family pot developed when I picked up JJ in the big blind. I raised the pot and only the lady stayed in. The flop came down queen-high. I bet out the pot again. Again, the lady called. The turn was a blank. Without a decent read, I bet half the pot, telling myself I'd go away if she raised. She did not. She simply called. The river was another blank. I checked this time and she put out a post oak bluff. I called and she frowned.
She turned over one ace. I sat ready for the slow roll. The dealer asked her to turn over the other card. Reluctantly, she showed her offsuit seven. I showed my jacks and took the pot.
Though I walked out with a profit Friday night (Saturday morning), I realized I'd walked away from Spring Hotel without much of a story to tell. I didn't crush the game. I didn't use my ruse to extract big profits. Nor did I get crushed. All in all, it was uneventful.
And then, as I developed some odd ailment Saturday night and fell into cold, shivering sweats, I realized, Spring Hotel was more of a phenomenon than a story. Three years ago, to get a game in these foothills, you had to wait for the monthly game that the guys at work held. Now, here we sit in what I believe is the middle of the poker boom.
Every week, a local host sends out an Evite invitation to nearly 400 people for a Saturday tournament. Four hundred people? Yeah. The same guy runs $5/$10 NL game during the week. For a long while, there was the $150 buy-in tournament at the Country Club. An hour up the road is a game I've not yet seen, but hear uses nothing but red chips and has thousands upon thousands of dollars in the room at the same time.
And then there are the little entrepreneurs, like the host of the Spring Hotel game. He maybe pulls in a few hundred bucks a night, but he had two tables running all Saturday night. And those are just the games I know about. There are most certainly more.
A lot of people in and out of the poker industry grind their teeth at night wondering when the poker bubble will finally deflate. Places like Spring Hotel, despite being the absolute picture of hopelessness, give me even more hope for the poker boom.
Although, I do sort of get the feeling that if I won too much at that game that I could end up buried in the field behind the place, right underneath the big satellite dish.
That would be a story.<-- Hide More
We're playing five handed and I'm sitting UTG when I look down at a handsome pair, Cowboys. Blinds are 25/50 and I raise it up to 150. A smaller stack behind me pushes all in, and the BB almost immediately calls. I have no choice but to push the BB all in as well.
Then the cards are flipped.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Me: KK (18% pre-flop)
Short-stack: QQ (16%)
Big Blind: AA (66%)
Remember, we were five-handed.
The flop comes down J-6-5, all hearts. I have the only heart.
The turn is another J.
Wait for it...
The Q of Spades. The dirty bitch. It was ugly.
Live poker is rigged.<-- Hide More
My last two sessions have both been losers. I've had a helluva run in live play and simple variance was bound to smack me. But, if I'm being honest, the biggest drain is my own fault. At the big game on Monday, I dropped two buyins, then two more Thursday night. On both nights I was completely card dead, but that's only part of the problem.
More often than not, I can handle a bad beat. Beat beats, even in big tournaments are things we can recover from. I know that. Over time, they hurt me much less than before. But that doesn't mean I don't tilt.
Last week, I had C-D-T : Card Dead Tilt.More in this Poker Blog! -->
It's pretty damn obvious really. After a night of crappy pre-flop hands we are...card dead. But CDT requires more than that. I have to add that because inevitibly someone will remind me that a great player doesn't NEED great hands. For CDT the table needs to be just right.
For example :
The Big Game is extremely loose, with at least two players who may actually DEFINE the "calling station". There's plenty of money on the table for a player with a VERY TIGHT aggressive style. Actually, a player who just peddles the nuts will make a killing over time. But what happens if you never HAVE the nuts? Enter CDT.
Beyond that, by simple statistical law, you're bound to find some big pre-flop raising hands during a few hours of play. Remember at this NO LIMIT game, half the table will call almost ANY pre-flop raise. Again, that's perfect for pushing monsters, but deadly if the flop is a brick. Simple continuation bets won't work, and even a re-raise on what you know is an opponents weak bet, will almost always be called. So, not only do we need a strong pre-flop hand, but we must also hit the flop hard.
In my normal NL play, I love raising a limped pot with hands like middle suited connectors. But at this game the flop is crucial.
In my normal NL play, I'll almost always fire a strong bet at an ace-high flop with pocket kings. (You know all this of course.) But, at this game anyone with any ace is in it to the end. Danger lurks.
Probably the first sign of CDT is the nagging questions within. I went to the Big Game determined to play tight. But after folding garbage for 2 solid hours, and missing flops for at least 2 more, I started to wonder if I was playing TOO tight. At this game, I wasn't, but I started to wonder if second- or third-best hands were good at a table where 2nd pair was winning big pots.
Then, I started doubting my pre-flop play. After watching all of my strong starters run into a wall of flopped bricks, it made me more reluctant to fire at all. Why bother raising if it will only cost me more in the end?
We've all had this night, sometimes they come in bunches, where there isn't a hand worth a showdown all night.
I've always wondered why great sports teams sometimes squeak past vastly inferior competition. They play down to the level of their opponent. I think CDT forces that too. We see every pot played in less-than-optimal fashion, and if we can't get involved in the play....we start donking away too.
Which brings me to the second telltale sign.
Here's another seemingly obvious concept. If you're bored at a poker game, GET UP!
Folks, we all know, after traveling to your game, or bothering to assemble it if it's at home, you want to PLAY poker. But sometimes you just can't play what you're dealt at the table. Bored players will open up and gamble...make decisions they KNOW they shouldn't because they just want to play cards.
At the Big Game, Monday Night Football was on. Once I started getting bored I SHOULD have stood up, gone to the couch and watched the game for a few. Instead, I opened up the hand selection, made silly plays, and lost money.
<-- Hide More
Look for CDT the next time you play, dear reader. You'll find it. Don't say you weren't warned.
Not the Ace to 5 kinda thing, but more the 9 to 5 cycle. At least, in the sense that it's a grind. This is the world of poker blogs. There's always a 50/50 split in the blogsphere, the good and bad, the hot and cold, ying and yang. I'm no Eastern Spiritual, but if there's true balance in the universe, someone out there is on the happy side of variance.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I was playing an MTT on Paradise (yes, they still have a site) when Otis popped up on the sissy-girl chatterbox device. It's a good place for ol' Otis, but I feel uncomfortable there.
****** BY THE WAY, SHOULD YOU HEAD TO PARADISE, WHERE THE SOFTWARE IS LOVELY, GRobman SENT YOU ********
Anyhow, I casually mention to Dr. Hairline my desire to play cards. He says, as a temporary bachelor, he'd love to host a game. This was 7:09 PM.
I got on the horn, digitally of course, with BadBlood, The Mark, Chep Shep, and The Tank. We had cards in the air by 8:00.
I should know better than to play that way of course. I'll summarize it thusly,
BB: You ever get so excited to play, that you totally forget how?
G-ROB : Did you see the way I just played?
BB: Yeah, that's what I was getting at.
That night, I got CRUSHED. I lost buyin after buyin. The first two weren't because the other players sucked out, or because I played the odds and missed. I lost that money because I played like total crap. I knew better, but managed to go on a tilt of now legendary proportions.
NET LOSS : $270.00 (Fake)
This is the regular game. The local no-limit game. It's played for FAKE CHIPS of course. Once again the usual suspects, and a few extra degenerate (this word is nearing its limit by the way) friends started dealing at 8:00.
This time I brought my chops. In the first 90 minutes I was up 2 buyins. This was the pivotal hand...
PLAYERS : G-Rob, Otis, The Mark
I'm in the big blind for a whopping .50, and The Mark is in middle position.
Mark raises it up to $4.00 and Otis calls.
I found 7,7 and decided to take a ride.
Queen, 7, 5!! Payday.
I check the flop and so does Mark, and then Otis gets kinda silly. He bets $15.
I tried to be extra quick into the pot with a min raise to $30. Earlier in the night I pushed BadBlood off a hand with a similar re-raise and then showed my weaker hand. I hoped that the quick move into the pot, a sure sign of a weak hand, combined with that memory would help.
Sure enough, Mark comes over the top all-in, another $29, for a total bet of $59. Otis then went into the tank for a solid 4 days, at one point SCREAMING, I'm not worried about YOU at all (pointing to me), I'm just worried about Mark.
I taunted Otis for a solid 3.5 days, and that cost me money. He folds.
The Mark shows 10,10 and does not improve.
And then I went to work and did the 11PM News.
When I returned to the game, at about midnight I resumed some decent play, winning another 3 buyins before 2AM. That's when Mrs. Blood called, looking for the Mr. and the game suddenly dissolved.
She's a very understanding woman.
Otis, BadBlood and I went to the Mark for a $40 tourney with a dealers choice cash game afterwards.
Badblood aready wrote up the better hands there.. check out his site
I still suck at poker. Thought you'd like to know.
I have a lot on my mind poker-wise...I'll have it here in a day or two. But that's what I've been up to in G-Vegas...the best FAKE MONEY poker around.<-- Hide More
Some people say scent can inspire more memories than sight.
My entire kitchen smelled like plastic. The baby and wife were gone. The dog was disinterested. And my new Copags had arrived. I played heads up against myself and lost.
My entire kitchen smelled like plastic and the smell was leeching into the living room. All I needed was an excuse and at least five other people.
The smell of plastic was the excuse.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Two hours later, BadBlood asked what he could bring. I said a twelve-pack. His one-word ("Done") answer didn't at all indicate what would happen later. Even when G-Rob asked if I needed beer and I said, "Blood is bringing some, but bring more," I didn't really think much of it.
But then G-Rob walked in with a giant bottle of tequila.
There was a time (and a time not too long ago, and a time I think I've mentioned several times here) during which I would drink nothing more than Diet Mountain Dew while playing cards. I'd further hype myself up with Sweet-Tarts or Spree. Those were the days when winning or losing $50 was a big deal.
The play itself (mine especially) was unremarkable. I lost two buy-ins, all of it on two hands. The Mark made a still unbelieveable call for all of my chips (a substantial sum at that point, but he still had me covered) with an open-ended straight draw. Then I made an ill-timed semi-bluff (that turned out to be less than a semi bluff and left me with one out) against G-Rob. Other than that, I flopped a set against Blood once and those were the only hands of note for me.
In the post below this one, G-Rob chronicles the highlights of the night (my proudest moment is Mrs. Otis sitting down in her first live game and playing the hammer for a win). The rest of the evening is as blurry as the pictures I started to take.
So, instead of a write-up, how about a quick pictorial?
I mentioned the tequila. I didn't mention that, for the first time in a long while, EVERYBODY wanted to drink. BadBlood had walked in with a bottle of wine which was strong enough to destroy a cheap corkscrew and conjure images of Team Scott Smith. When it was gone, and the beer was getting low, Mrs. Otis found a tray which was reapeatedly covered with shotglasses full of tequila and, indeed, Everclear. At some point, Mrs. Otis was drinking rum out of mini-bottles while the boys from The Mark shot Everclear and chased it with diet soda. Then...G-Rob turned into a cocktail waitress.
When the drinking got heavy, the sidebets and prop bets started coming a little more frequently. After G-Rob re-raise my raise (and made the bet much too big to call), I bet him that my hand would win by the river. He agreed, I showed my AQs, he showed pocket tens (?). An ace on the turn meant I would've won. I ended up winning money on that hand. Later that night, I would find myself challenging The Mark to a $100 heads-up match (damned Michael Craig and his book about Andy Beal...). I thought we'd be playing Limit O8. Everyone convinced me I'd agreed to NL O8, which, even in my altered state, I'm pretty sure I would not have agreed to. Nonetheless, we played it out and I...well, I lost. The other contests of the night were mugh more interesting and involved none other than BadBlood's pythons.
Somehow, Blood (ever-confident about the ammo in his guns) had decided he could beat The Mark in a left-handed arm-wrestlling match. When the match began, Mrs. Otis looked on with fear and admiration (or a belly full of rum and tequila).
I looked on through a lens and could not believe what I saw. It was a bit like the time the next-door neighbor girl told me there was no Santa. Blood, face tangled in disbelief and horror...lost.
The loss, like something out of a movie, inspired G-Rob to believe he, in fact, has any muscles in his arms. Before I knew what was happening, G-Rob had taken The Mark's seat at the felt.
I suppose I don't even need to write the result...
Bouyed by beating up on G-Rob (a lot like beating the 16 seed in the first round of the NCAA tournament), Blood went on to destroy the Mark in a right-handed match. I only caught the middle of it through the lens, because I didn't want a record of it if Blood lost.
Frankly, it all reminded me a bit of the silliness that sometimes ensues in Vegas. And that reminded me I had a few pictures I hadn't posted from the June outing. I'll let them speak for themselves. I'm tired.<-- Hide More
In September of 1994 I sat on the filthy fabric of a striped Salvation Army couch, surrounded by the who's-who of degenrates. We'd end up there every day, gambling on heads-up matches of NHL '94, skipping class, and acting like filthy hippies. That's when inspirations struck. My buddy Scott saw an maazine ad with a picture of beautiful downtown Amsterdam.
At 5 AM on a cold damp Dutch December, four of us wandered out of train station in downtown Amsterdam with no reservations, no map of downtown, and no inhibitions whatsoever. Folks, THAT was the best New Year's Eve...EVER! Say what you want about the Dutch..'em people can throw a party.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Most of the great events of my life started off that way. Like the time I skipped midterms for a late night ride to Graceland....she had a credit card and I had a car. Just this year, I got an IM from an internet celebrity that simply said, "You wanna go suprise Otis in Nassau?". Three days later we did just that. Sometime ask me or Otis about He-Con...same sorta thing.
So Friday afternoon Otis opens the mail to find his new set of COPAG cards. It's a big deal for him because he's used to the $0.50 impulse buy, checkout line variety. I'm quite sure he was dissappointed that the new plastic cards don't come with little fishies or an American flag on the back.
At about 3:30 Otis found me on the teenage girl chatterbox device. He had a hankerin' for a game. BadBlood and I were immediately in, because we're losers like that. Folks, here's what happened to the best of my recollection :
If Bradoween is like this, we'll need medics on standby
The Game :
4s Shep Tiltstein
5s The Mark
6s F***Face Fire Fighter (Worst NickName EVER..thank Mrs. Otis for THAT!)
9s Frank the Tank
10s The Axeman
We actually started 6 handed, and had to break the game when the other 3 players arrived. Otis went to pick up "the Mark"'s table top while the drunken degenerate gamblers stayed home with his baby boy. (This is tottally false if you're from DSS)
As always we started serious. I went down a full buy-in when my pocket 10s found Stan's DoubleAs. Later I made that back with aces of my own against BadBlood's pocket jacks.
This is one of those stare-em-down games, long pauses to contemplate a call, frequent counting and re-counting of chips, long stares across the felt. BadBlood was struggling early and Otis was barely better. I took another buy in from BadBlood when he pushed with top pair against my flush and straight draw...I caught on the river. Hours later Otis would push all-in against my flopped Ace-high flush.
Blah blah blah..sounds so ordinary
First of all, its NOT ordinary, this is a G-Vegas home game which is always much more fun than whatever garbage YOU'RE slinging. The people at these tables are some of the more entertaining in the world, and you'll see every possible style within 5 minutes of grabbing a chair.
That said, this was much more than a typical G-Vegas home game.
Highlights include :
The Mark DESTROYS BadBlood in a left-handed arm wrestle.
The Mark chases Everclear with tequilla.
BadBlood chases and entire bottle of red wine with the same Jose Cuervo.
Mrs. Otis plays her first LIVE hand....and DROPS THE HAMMER for a win. (she outdrew my jackhammer)
Otis challenges the Mark to a heads-up $100 NLO8 showdown and loses (good night for the Mark)
Teuilla, 10 at a time, served on silver trays for the entire table...10 TIMES!
4AM and somebody decides to leave.
Another common thread
Most of the pictures from Amsterdam have that, "WOW! I bet that was fun" feel. I have a hard time writing about the trip because I'd spend most of the time decribing those pictures with very little independant recollection. I have that problem with the better trips I've taken. I remember having fun, and that's a pretty short story.
Soon you'll see some pictures from last night. I warn you, viewer discretion is HIGHLY ADVISED. I don't remember much, except this phone call from Otis at 1:15 this afternoon, answered by my wife :
Otis : Is G-Rob home
Wife : He's still asleep
Otis : Tell him to go f*** himself
I do know I finished UP a few hundred.
We'll let the pictures, whenever Otis gets around to it, tell the rest of the story.
<-- Hide More
AND FOR THOSE OF YOU COMING TO BRADOWEEN...YOU'VE BEEN WARNED! SO HELP ME PEOPLE, BRING A CAMERA!
I like to tell people about that time I went to state. I was left fielder on an All Star team of little leaguers from lil' ol' Ashland. We won district and regionals, and hopped on a charter greyhound to Murray with the best of our 12 year old ambition. Murray has a cool boy scout museum with a ropes course that scared the hell outta Eddie Dixon. That was the highlight of our double elimination tourney. We lost the first 2 games.
Still, in a way, we were part of the state championship. And, by that same token, I was part of the WSOP last night.More in this Poker Blog! -->
BadBlood and I are always looking for a game. We play every Thursday at the very least. I hosted this time, we had 10 players.
1s : Moi.
2s : The Rocket
3s : The cleaner
4s : Tatwood
5s : Rankster
6s : Matt "Overdraft Protection" Cardone
7s : BadBlood
8s : The Mark
9s : AxeMan
In some ways, I'm playing against these 9 uber-sharks. In another, I'm tempting fate and stealing from the "PokerPundit". After my last homegame post, he left this in the comments,
"My bet. You will lose in 5 of the next 7 sessions."
HEY KIDS! AN ICEBERG! NEAT!
So here's the first buyin.
I'm in the big blind with a pair of garbage spades. It's raised 4x under the gun, but 5 people call and I decide the odds are groovy. Groovy odds would be my undoing all night. Perhaps there's a cosmic whack entailed for anyone who uses the word "groovy" while doing math. Still, the flop was pretty, all spades, and no paint on the board.
I'm first to act and made a $5 bet. With the blinds at .50 and all the pre-flop action, I was hoping for two things. I figured the bet was small enough to entice anyone who had strong overs or a piece of the flop to call. Plus, I assumed it was big enough that no one would put me on the flopped flush with that bet in early position.
Everyone folds around to THE MARK who raises it to $15. I instantly push for another $27 and he calls, showing top 2 pair. The turn is garbage. The river fills him up. G-Rob REBUYS! The Mark went on to build a monster stack, which he and several others would lose...to Blood.
AS FOR THE WSOP
We had our first dial-a-shot from Las Vegas at about 10:00 EDT. That was the first break out west. Otis, Pauly et al (who are doing a FANTASTIC job in their coverage by the way) called from the "hooker bar" and, in that bizarre way G-Vegas was part of the big game. I had the perfect hometown flavor, Moonshine. (CJ WILL SHOW YOU WHAT I MEAN WHEN HE POSTS A LINK TO THE MOONSHINE STORY >>>>HERE). [Ed. note: Link added]
The moonshine story airs Tuesday night, by the way, I'll post it here Wednesday. I think you'll like it.
But I digress.
The next MONSTER hand of the night was make or break for Dr. Blood. Needless to say, he's made like Pauly Walnuts.
The Mark: A Qo
MattyC: A Ko
The Cleaner: 9d 7d
Plenty of preflop raising here, especially from Matt Overdraft who has a nice premium hand. The Cleaner will ALWAYS chase a flush, especially with connectors or one-gappers. BadBlood had to call and The Mark certainly had odds to call with his hand.
Qh Td 8h (corrected for accuracy)
The Mark flops top pair top kicker. Blood pairs his queen. The cleaner is open ended. Matty has overs. More aggressive betting.
The Mark now has top two pair. Matty has top pair top kicker. The cleaner has an open ender with a flush draw. Blood is drawing to the nut flush AND the nut straight. Blood ends up all in here and everyone's still playing.
The main pot outs :
Blood needs any of the 4 remaining jacks or any of the 7 remaining diamonds and he has the nuts. That's what makes his 11 outs so outstanding.
The Cleaner needs on of 3 non-diamond 6s to fall for the straight. Any other diamond gives him the side pot.
There are only 2 kings left. Matty needs one of them for top 2 pair.
The Mark has the nuts with an Ace or Queen. He's also scooping if a non diamond..non-jack..non-6...non-king falls.
Got it? Good.
Blood catches the nuts. The cleaner has his flush. The Mark and Matty Overdraft suspect they're introuble but can't put 2 players (remember Blood's already all-in) on a runner-runner flush. More insane betting.
BadBlood takes the main pot of $215.
The cleaner mops the side pot.. $110.
So, more dial-a-shot stupidity..
The moonshine was getting to me now. I could tell it was affecting the Rocket too. Even BadBlood was feeling tipsy. Soon, The Mark was begging me to turn on the ceiling fan. The room wasn't warm, but we were.
Soon, the Mark was busted. He flopped an open ender and ended up all in against BadBloods Kings. Rankster, Rocket, and Tatwood cashed out. Matty and the Mark went home.
With 5 players and the night winding down, the cleaner was short stacked and ready to give away his remaining chips. I was in UTG and raised it to $4 with my pocket 9s. The Cleaner came over the top for another $3.50 and Kevin called the $7.50. I went over the top again and put Kevin all in for another $32 which he called, showing AJo. The cleaner had 57o.
I won the race. And, after 6 hours of play, finished UP $3.
BadBlood finished up $302.
Take that pundit. A winrate of .50/hour? EAT IT! More homegame madness tonight at The Mark.
And if you aren't playing in G-Vegas...or the WSOP...you're retarded.<-- Hide More
It's 9:14 and raining in Daytona. In 5000 hotel rooms there are restless children rolling on unwashed hotel comforters while unhappy parents look for Nickelodeon on an unknown cable box. On the west side of town 100,000 fans sit huddled under cheap plastic parkas waiting for the race to begin. Up in G-Vegas two producers, one reporter, two sportsguys, an entire production crew, and one G-Rob wonder when this night will end.
The late news, billed as a special post-race edition, is exactly that. We don't start until the race is over. It was supposed to start at 7:00. We may not air the big story here until 1:30 or 2:00. God help us.More in this Poker Blog! -->
BUT A GOOD WEEKEND SO FAR...
I spat out a quickie on the Thursday homegame madness the other day. It's down yonder somewhere. Friday night took me to "The Mark", formally called the "State Park Game". I'm sure CJ will link up to Otis' original post about that venue whenever he edits this post.
I'd say the link should go.....
>>>>>>>>>Here! [Ed. note: Happy to oblige]
This time BadBlood joined us for a $40.00 tourney with 9 players. Maniac cash game to follow. BadBlood was uglier than a downtown Otis bender with a deck colder than my senior prom date. He finished 8th. I ended up in the final pair...heads up with about a 15x chip advantage. He seemed ready to roll the dice on any hand, and I always do.
Final hand :
He pushed all in.
I find 10-2o and say, "Aw hell, lets do it for Doyle!" and call.
I take down $260, (Again fake money. I especially enjoy the yellow $10 Monopoly bills!) for a dandy $220 net gain.
The cash game is especially bizarre, but always fun. Mark's a good guy and a solid mega-aggressive player. The rest of the table is just as ready to gamble. We started with NLHE and $1/$2 blinds. But that fell into dealer's choice.
2 players insisted, including "the Mark", on dealing NO LIMIT OMAHA 8b. The pots were insane. I scooped $150 on this insanity :
I have A,2,6,J all SPADES.
Mark makes it $15 to go which I smooth call. 2 other callers follow.
Flop is : 3,6,7 rainbow.
Mark makes bets another $15.
I figure I'm quartering the pot so I call again, and both players follow suit.
Turn is a K.
Mark leads out $20
I call again. One player to my left also calls.
River is another K.
Mark bets another $20
I call and the player to my left folds.
Mark has NO High. He played Ace-4 for the low.
I scoop the pot with the nut low and 2 pair (Kings and 6s) for the high.
Net result of cash game: +$160 in play money.
NOT TO STEAL FROM IGGY HERE :
But if you aren't playing poker in G-Vegas, you're retarded.
It's now 10:15, the green flag just dropped. I'm reading "One Hundred Years of Solitude" to stay busy. Its excellent by the way.<-- Hide More
It's been said, mostly by BadBlood and me, G-Vegas is where you'll find the best homegames. There's one damn near everyday. I play every Thursday, and on more than a few Wednesdays and Fridays. Tonight, I'm looking to 3-peat.More in this Poker Blog! -->
ALL GAMES PLAYED ARE FOR PLAY CHIPS. NOTHING TO SEE HERE I.R.S.
The Thursday games are my favorite. I never, ever miss that. They're played on a rotating basis. Every other week we play dealer's choice and in between is the NL game ($50 max .25/.50 blinds). So far this year, on Thursday's alone, I'm up $2700.00.
Last night was Dealer's choice at the Rankster's house. I'll give you one hand here:
LAST HAND OF THE NIGHT...Hold-em $3-$6
G-Rob raises and says..."I have a strong pocket pair"
Flop comes (9d Kc Qd)
G-Rob says, "I've just caught a set but I'm sure y'all will chase the flush."
Rank bets $3.
G-Rob raises to $6
Turn is (9h)
BadBlood smiles. G-Rob says, "Now I've got a full house."
Rank bets $6
G-Rob raises to $12
BadBlood says, "I'm gonna lay this down," and shows his cards to the Rocket.
He had (KQo) by the way.
Rank re-raises to $18
G-Rob caps at $24
Turn is (9c) and G-Rob is suddenly concerned.
Rank bets $6
G-Rob raises to $12
Rank raises to $18
Nervous G-Rob calls.
G-Rob shows pocket kings for Kings full of 9s.
Rank shows a QUEEN. 9s full of queens.
G-Rob loves Thursday night.
<-- Hide More
Tonight is a $50 tourney at "The Mark". Wish me luck.
Some conversations last forever.
For me, there are many, most of which are much too personal to me or the other party to ever divulge in the Wild, Wild West of the World Wide Web. But there are some. There was one with Iggy as we clung the Sherwood Forest Bar at 6am last December. There was one with my prospective employer a few weeks later. There were many with old college friends.
And then there was one with Gary when I was a young, idealistic, high school longhair.More in this Poker Blog! -->
See, we lived in a middle class subdivision in a middle class city, in a middle class state in the middle of America. Gary and I had been friends since kindergarten (and remain so today). My dad, a capitalist from a pretty poor family, had had a pretty good year and had a swimming pool put in. Gary and I were walking around it.
It was night time and we'd already had our day of swimming, staring at Jennifer P.'s body, and baking ourselves to relative crisps. Now it was night and we were talking like we always did. Gary was a pragmatist. I was a hopeless idealistic/anarchist wannabe. For more than a hour we walked in circles debating the merits of money. I was on the side of eliminating it completely and reinstituting some sort of barter system. Gary thought I was an idiot. Which I sort of was. Gary was smarter than I was, anyway.
By early college I had ammended my classless society ideas to removing the monetary system, abolishing the time system and banning watches/clocks, and allowing people to work at whatever time of day or night they liked.
I was an idiot in college, too.
With all that said, I guess there is no real reason I should expect you to listen to me now. After all, I haven't picked up any smarts since that time and have spent years dulling my senses with alcohol and sleeplessness.
But, I thought I'd climb out of the woodwork to comment on a recent spate of flaming, ill will, and, pardon me, but silliness.
Everybody blogs for a different reason. Some do it as therapy. Some do it as art. Some do it for ego-aerobics. Some do it to make money.
As far as I'm concerned, I don't think there's anything wrong with any of the above.
Now, a younger, more idealistic Otis might protest, as some of you might. I mean, there is the argument that blogs should be treated as art and nothing but.
But, I disagree. Where blogs were a brave new art form several years ago, now they have--and I think rightly--evolved into potential journalistic, and hence, profitable ventures. Like the gulf between home movies and network television, blogs now have the elasticity to serve both masters, art and profit.
But, you may protest, a blogger who was doing it for the art who goes for the profit is just selling out.
That reminds me of another memorable conversation.
I was in college and Marty was bemoaning the Red Hot Chili Peppers having sold out. Why I felt the need to defend the band (why...I still don't know...suck my kiss, indeed), I did. And we got in the second...no third...biggest argument of our now 13 year friendship. In retrospect, I guess the band did sell out and I was likely only arguing because felt like a poser for not knowing the band very well before they sold out.
Now, perhaps that doesn't have any real bearing here. Other than this: those are things that idealists fight about. Yeah, I'm still sort of sore that Uncle Tupelo broke up and now Wilco seems to have a better following than Son Volt, but I ain't gonna fault the guys who gave me a new reason to love music. The point is, I understand. If I were Jeff and Jay, I wouldn't have wanted to spend the rest of my life playing to drunk college kids at the Blue Note.
The same thing applies to blogs. I mean, can we begrudge Iggy and HDouble for busting their ass to write the Poker Tracker Guide and then using their blogs to pimp it? Can we bust Iggy's balls for giving us huge content and then, for once, asking for just a little help by way of affiliate links? For that matter, should we quit reading any blog that has an affiliate banner on it? And what about Pauly? Because his PokerStars affiliate deal is doing pretty well, should we not enjoy his cross-country antics? And what about the boys at LasVegasVegas? Those guys are running a virtual empire over there and helping fellow bloggers to get published in major venues.
And you know what the major thread running through all of those writers is? They all freakin' rock. They're smart, great poker players, great writers, and individualy have more business sense, ambition, and artistic creativity than a majority of the poker blogosphere (no offense to any of the good poker bloggers out there. I'm just trying to make a point here).
So, with all due respect (because I have respect for anyone who can keep a good blog running for more than a few months), let's wish success on all our fellow bloggers. We all may make missteps along the way. I've had a few myself that I'm none too proud of. We'll all figure it out. As I said to a notable blogger the other night, this little world is just as Darwinian as our everyday lives. I'd rather be on the surviving side.
And let's all keep pumping out the best stuff we can, becaue there is still an idealistic part of me that believes we've all stumbled on one of the greatest art venues out there.
Now, the thieves
With all of that said, theiving is just wrong. I know it's wrong because I've been a perpetrator. Recently, and quite unintentionally, I thieved something from some hardworking folks. When these folks pointed out my oversight, I nearly crashed my computer typing so fast in an attempt to make good. Because these folks are good folks, they understood my mistake and let me off the hook.
That was a mistake. What the banner farming, RSS-ripping yahoos are doing is not a mistake. It is thievery. Now, I don't mind so much if I'm ripped off. Most of what I write isn't going to make anybody any money anyway. Nevertheless, the ugly profit-motive behind it makes my spleen twitch (I would've said liver, but he and I aren't on speaking terms anymore and I don't know if he's twitching or not).
But, wait, Otis! You're contradicting yourself. I mean, how can you support the money-making bloggers but flame the banner farmers?
Well, I don't think I really need to explain this, but I will in case some Dakotan comes a calling.
There's a difference between making money off other people's art/thoughts and making money off your own art/thoughts. It's as simple as that. If you need further explanation, try this:
Every day, 24 hours a day, TV networks broadcast the result of their hard work and millions spent. It's out there for everybody to see and ingest. To watch it is not a crime. However, to copy it, start your own channel, then sell advertising using somebody else's content is wrong. It also happens to be a crime.
Now, in this wild, wild world, there is little anybody can do about it. However, there is a bit of karma to think about. That and the fact that you live in a Darwinian world. As far as I know, Darwinian theory still applies in South Dakota.
So, I typed all of this up and almost erased it. Frankly, I don't like to inject msyelf into controversies that aren't my own. At the same time, I look to the left and see the blogroll and realize that I would be pretty sad if ay of those blogs started drying up or started battling each other over petty stuff. I've met and planned to meet some damned good people who write those things. While never much one on long distance friendships, I actually consider a lot of you friends and I want to make more.
So...let's do this: Let's play poker like we know how (actually, I have noo idea how to play the game anymore). Let's keep writing about it. Let's go to Vegas and turn it upside down. There we can perfect our various arts and make some money in the process.<-- Hide More
Okay...so I gotta be a pimp every once in a while.
Deposit bonus over at Stars starting now.
Thank god this is figuratively speaking... although in south Louisiana, you can never tell.
Although if it's gonna happen, at least the Hilton Sisters were involved...More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm back at the scene of my greatest comeback ever.
This time, we've got 11 people at the table with $10 a piece in the pot. We started with T1000 chips and were a few hands in. I'm down to T900.
I'm dealt pocket Q's in late position with blinds at 25/50. It's raised to T200 and there are two callers in front of me. That means there's T675 in the pot. I decide to push all in figuring I'll either double up without a showdown or be in good shape against a caller.
First, the BB pushes all in for less. Then the original raiser fights with himself before folding. Then I get called again. Then another player pushes all in for T950. That puts four of us into a pot worth T3775.
I say, "Let's turn 'em up." And everyone shows except the last caller. He's the one who made the final call of T700 into a pot worth T2975. When he flips K8 of clubs, I understand why he was so reluctant to show his cards.
That means the guy first called the T150 raise with a suited K, then called three all-ins with a suited K. Could someone with a good knowledge of odds tell me if this was a good call against three unknown hands? Could he really figure either of his cards were live?
I certainly didn't want to play my Q's against three callers. In my mind, I thought I might be behind. Instead, my other two opponents flipped A8o and AJo.
To recap: QQ vs. A8o vs. AJo vs. K8s
Once I punched that in the handy dandy Hand Analyzer, I learned I won this hand 50% of the time. It ended up being a coin flip for me. Surprisingly, the K8s won about 25% of the time. I guess that means he was getting good odds on his money. The AJo won about 16% and the A8o only 4%.
The flop was all rags, but the K on the turn was enough to knock me out. I got no help on the river.
The guy said he called because there was so much money in the pot, he figured if he got lucky he'd own the table. I suppose I can't argue with that.
The problem is that I didn't like the guy to begin with. He talked a big game and kept telling everyone he plays poker everyday. He certainly didn't show it. Earlier in the night, he berated another player for not checking down a short-stack who was all-in. The girl had next to nothing and was never going to be a threat. He took all the fun out of it for her and she left the table a little dejected. I thought he was rude all the way around.
So when he sucked out on me on that huge pot, I was none too pleased. I let out an expected, "You called with K8 of clubs!?!?!?" But I left it at that. It's poker. That's the way it goes. And for 10 bucks... can you blame him?<-- Hide More
Here's a vital update : it STILL doesn't taste like "orange". From the last post to this one I've sucked down 3 Marlboro Ultra Lights. Its a helluva rollback for me and, this way, if I do get cancer it'll be the ultra-light variety. Probably just a little discomfort, maybe I'll drop a few unwanted pounds, and my athletic prowess will dwindle to Otisian levels...that's all.
Nicorette, meanwhile, is all the addiction of drug use without the joyful comraderie of passing the pipe.More in this Poker Blog! -->
TWO OF 'EM..
..came on Thursday at the weekly BadBlood game. Last week (IRS NOTE : THIS IS FOR PLAY MONEY ONLY) I won big in the bi-weekly 2/4 HORSE game and followed it up with a nice win in a $30 rebuy tournament the next day. But when Thursday HORSE is in an off-week the game is dealers choice and I'm in deep chit.
You know these games. Before the big Hold-'em explosion this is all you ever played. Hell, I'd wager your granny spent more than a few eveings with women named Gladys and Margie slurping high balls and playing re-damn-diculous card games for money. To make this game more authentic I'm suggesting that BadBlood spend more time wearing knee-high stockings and bitching about loud music.
This Thursday was the STANK AT RANK or the game at Rankster's house. He's a classy guy and he has a very nice place. But why does it seem fitting that I sat on a dining room chair covered in plastic for protection? Even the table surface was covered with a nice paisley sheet so the surface wouldn't scratch. When his small Colonial wig of a mutt curled up in his lap for the very first deal, well, HIGHBALL ANYONE?
Now there are always cooler heads at a game like this. BadBlood, to his credit, always called for 2/4 Limit Hold-em. God Bless the Blood. And Wally Backman, now retired from the '86 Mets, kept calling 7-card stud. What noble efforts..wasted on the the granny-centric lot.
Would I like to buy a card for what? No..I've never been to Kansas City? Match the pot!!! F-YOU! As a rule, dear reader, if the entire table pitches in to explain the game to you WHILE ITS BEING DEALT...sit that hand out. More than once I had 20 bucks invested in a pot only to find out later I was already drawing dead. Not that I could've known. I didn't know how many draws remained. After briefly flirting with a profitable night my (IRS = FAKE) bankroll shrank by a triple digit dose. MeMaw rolled over in the dirt.
I'm back on the gum today. And this week I'm back to HORSE. That's very good news. If anyone has good advice on this whole smoking thing let me know. I'll be chewing the bark off an Elm.<-- Hide More
It's an odd life I lead these days. Twelve hours ago, I sat in the dining room of a Carolina surburban home, playing cards, drinking a few beers, and laughing with my buddies for the first time in weeks. Now, I sit in a $435-night hotel room in the middle of a king-sized bed, a view of Miami's South Beach in the window.
I'll have more on this trip in the coming days. It's work-related. In fact, I have to get to work here in a second. But I've played a couple of hands recently that I've felt fairly good about.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Written on a plane, so forgive the turbulence
I'll admit at the outset that I probably shouldn't be playing the $5/$10 $1000 buy-in NL game on Party. While my roll can handle it, the swings can be big enough that I don't quite have the stomach for it yet. Still, when Party introduced the higher limits, I couldn't help but sit down for a session.
By and by, I finally got dealt pocket aces in middle position. I made a raise to $35 and got one caller. Just a few hands before, I'd watched the caller get all his chips in with top pair and a six kicker. That is, he was capable of playing with and going all-in with just about anything.
The flop came down king-high, all hearts. Of course, I hated the flop, but I didn't sweat it too much. One of my aces was a heart, so I had all the heart outs twice. I bet $100 into the caller. He smooth-called the bet.
At this point, I was obviously a little concerned. If he'd made a set, he likely would've re-raised me here to see where he was. I figured I was in one of two situations. Either he had gotten lucky and flopped his flush, or he was holding a king and a high heart (KQ, KJ...).
The turn was a blank. At this point I had to make a decision. Either I wuss out and check to my opponent, essentially giving up. Or I bet into him again.
I bet into him again. $300. I just couldn't accept that he'd flopped his flush. Why? I'm not sure. I think it had something to do with watching him play his top-pair-weak-kicker for all his chips.
So, when he raised me all-in, what did I think? Well, I thought maybe he'd made his flush and I still had a few heart outs for the flush. Not enough outs to give me odds to call, though. I never seriously considered he might have a set. I couldn't get away from the thought he was holding top pair with a heart kicker.
So, I called.
As it turns out, my read was both right and wrong. He didn't have the flush. In fact, he didn't have any hearts in his hand. He did have the king, though, for top pair on the board. Thing was, he also held a five for a flopped two-pair.
I kicked myself a little for not putting him on that hand. At the same time, it's hard to put a guy on two pair with no hearts on a board that flopped three hearts.
On the river, I was left with quite a few outs (enough, in fact, that had he been playing his hand face-up, I would've had almost exactly the right odds to call). Two aces, the remaining hearts, and five cards that would give me a better two-pair.
None of the outs came though and I lost my entire stack. It is, to date, the most I've ever lost on one hand. When compared to some folks losses, that's no big deal. And, oddly, I didn't lose my mind about it. In fact, I felt sorta good.
That worried me a little bit. When you feel good after losing a hand like that, there's a chance you're enjoying the action too much.
So, I'll defer to the greater minds in the community: Was I complete iditot for playing the hand the way I did?
It was a live-game at Casa De G-Rob. The game had been winding in and out of good beats, bad beats, good laughs, and bad jokes. I was in for a couple of buy-ins for no particular reason. I'd brought my stack up to a nice level after playing an interesting hand with BadBlood (I'll let him write that one up if he wants). I was looking to end the evening as a winner.
From the cutoff, G-Rob made the standard pre-flop raise. In the SB, I found a pair of jacks. I'll admit, I figured I was ahead and wanted to maximize my win, so I smooth-called. We saw the perfect Hammer Flop.
I checked from the small blind and felt good that G-Rob bet the pot. He woulda checked his Hammer. Again, I smooth called.
The turn came down as a four. Again, I checked. Again, G-Rob bet the pot.
So, what am I thinking? I'm thinking he has AK, AQ, TT, or 99. He wanted me off of that pot in a big and bad way. I considered a smooth-call again, but decided I'd made as much off the hand as I could and didn't want to risk him catching an overcard on the river.
So, I pushed all in. G-Rob had to call around $80 more. He was getting less than 2-1 to call.
As soon as I saw the look on his face, I knew I had the hand won. What made it so confusing was...he called.
As we counted out the chips (I had him covered by about $7), G-Rob was bluffing posthumously.
"Well, I have trip sevens," he said as he counted out his stack.
Calmly, I said, "If you have trips, you win."
I still haven't figured out why he was trying to bluff AFTER making the call.
I turned up my jacks and G-Rob's face sank.
He turned up an ace...as I suspected.
And a three.
Immediately, G-Rob proclaimed his insobriety. I asked him what in the world he put me on. He shrugged his shoulders.
In G-Rob's defense, I had showed a serious bluff for a big pot earlier in the night, so maybe he had me on a bluff. Still...
He had four outs to the straight and three to his ace.
Teddy Ballgame burned and turned...a fucking ace of diamonds.
It stung for a few minutes, but as I drove home, I was really happy with the hand. Not sure why.
I'm a little worried that I'm starting to like the losing a little too much. It may be time to start playing Euchre again.<-- Hide More
It is, perhaps, an unfortunate name for a city.
But the Cajun people of Louisiana took care of any problems by using the more impressive French version.
Last night, a coworker asked me if I wanted to play a little poker with some of his friends in Baton Rouge.
My answer? Oui, oui!More in this Poker Blog! -->
When we arrived at the home game (about an hour drive from Lafayette), we found six players set up in an outdoor carport around a little six-person fold up poker table. They had just finished a quick SNG.
It was chilly. The temperature was down in the 50's. Unfortunately, living in the south for the last 5 or so years has thinned my blood enough to make temperatures in the 50's feel chilly.
The 8 players all bought in for $20. We started with T500 in chips with blinds starting at 5/10 and going up every 15 minutes. Second place would get his money back and first place would get the rest (minus $10 for food).
The other players were immediately impressed by my Check N' Raise card protector. If that's what it took to impress them, I wondered how they would react when I check-raised them on the turn.
I didn't play many hands to start. I really want to get a feel for the players at the table. In general, they weren't very good. There was at least one player I was worried about, but beyond that, I figured I could outplay the table, if I got at least a few cards.
The first hand I played was KJs UTG. I simply called the T10 blind. Four of us saw the flop that came K-x-x. I led out with just T25. Jay, the player to my left, quickly called and the other players folded.
Jay was a loud player. He was listing to an IPod and continually announced what the next song was, often "singing" along to some parts. He made lots of loud declarations that were mostly meaningless, but he seemed to enjoy them nonetheless.
The turn paired the board and put two diamonds on the table. I led out again with T40. Jay asked me what my kicker was. I didn't respond immediately and then finally told him I was on a diamond draw, that he should call me. He did.
The turn was a blank. I led out for T50 and Jay flipped up his K. Apparently this was a common strategy for him. A completely illegal strategy, but this home game had pretty loose rules. His goal when he does this is to get a reaction out of his heads up opponent. He hasn't announced his intent to call or fold, he just wants me to know he had a K.
Like I didn't already know that...
He said, "You've got me outkicked... you've got King-Jack."
"Maybe," I said, "But look at that board... if my kicker is less than a ten, we'll split the pot. You might as well call."
He did. I flipped KJ. He flipped K2. He seemed proud about the fact he read my hand. I thanked him for calling me anyway.
I took a few pots down here and there on either good hands or appropriately timed steals. I always had enough chips that the blinds didn't bother me. In fact, the blinds moved up at a slow enough rate that I actually didn't mind the structure (5/10 to 10/20 to 15/30 to 20/40, etc.).
The next important hand I played would be deadly.
I'm dealt AQo in early position with 5 players remaining. The player to my right, the one I was worried about, had a huge chip lead. I raise to 3xBB. A player with a stack slightly shorter than mine pushes all in. The chip leader thought for a moment before folding. I decided to call.
He flips pocket T's. I'm a little worried because I think the chip leader might have folded one of my outs. I put him on Ace-rag. So in my mind, I have about 7 outs. The hand analyzer tells me my opponent has a 57% chance of winning the hand.
Then comes about the worst flop imaginable. T-2-3. The other guy flopped a set. I've now got just a 3% chance of winning this hand, and the only chance is runner-runner to a straight.
"Just give me the 4-5," I said.
The turn is a K. Not real close to the 4 or the 5, but suddenly I have outs. I've suddenly got a 9% chance of winning the hand!
"Give me a Jack!" I yell.
And that's exactly what the dealer did. Runner-runner straight to knock out trip T's. I almost felt terrible... except for the fact that I won the hand. I was amazed at how well the other guy took it. I'm not sure I would have taken it so calmly.
Eventually we got down to the 3 players. I was 2nd in chip position behind the Kevin, who had played well early to build a huge stack, but had been bleeding chips ever since. Sitting in 3rd was Ryan, who played extremely tight early on and nearly got blinded out before making a nice comeback.
The play was rather tentative, but before long, Kevin was the short stack and Ryan and I were about even. I'm really not sure how Kevin blew his big lead, but it happened.
It was cold, and things were dragging. I was getting to the point where I thought I'd just push to see what happened. I'm involved in a hand with Ryan where I've got an open-ended straight draw with just the river to come. He pushes all in with bottom pair and I call. I don't catch, but I've still got him out-stacked.
A few hands later, I push with Q7s and Ryan calls me with AQo. I wouldn't normally push with Q7s, but, like I said, things were dragging. I got no help and I was down to just about T500, well behind Ryan and Kevin.
I started pushing with just about anything but getting no callers. With blinds at 75/150, I was building back up to a respectable stack. I'm shocked I was still alive.
Eventually, I had Kevin outstacked when we both saw a flop of 9-5-5, two diamonds. I was holding Q3 of diamonds. He checked, and I checked behind him. The turn was the 7 of diamonds. He checked and I bet T100. He raised to T300. I knew right there he was slow playing trip 5's.
I pushed all in and he called saying, "You have the diamonds?" I nodded and flipped my flush. He flipped 5-2. He had a few outs for the boat, but a 4 on the river sent him packing.
Ryan and I battled for awhile heads up. I was up early, but eventually he took a lead. Then came the pivotal hand. We were roughly even (he had me by about T200) when I'm dealt AJo. I min-raise hoping to get re-raised so I could push. He just called.
The flop is J-x-x. I check and he immediately pushes all-in. I call and flip the one hand he didn't want to see. Ryan was holdling KJ. He was in serious trouble. The K never came and it was all over but the crying. Next hand he was forced all in with 8-5 and my J-T won unimproved.
It was a handy $110 profit. Cold poker at the Red Stick works for me. I believe that it's the kind of game that I could win 7 out of 10 times, and they apparently play every week. Can't wait for next Thursday!!<-- Hide More
"Hello, my name is CJ... and I'm a losing poker player."
I'd like to begin the Losing Poker Player's Anonymous. I just got doing reading the latest over at F Train which included this:
And so now the bankroll on Party is basically exhausted. I have $11. I'm about to take that last $11 and put it into a SNG, and then it will finally be done. I'll have gone bankrupt on Party Poker, a day that I never thought would come.
Then I got the latest Yahoo group message from Felicia which included this:
Even the rock is sometimes the sucker. I have been the sucker lately... One of my biggest advantages in poker has now turned into a nightmare. I think I need a break. I'll see you all soon.
That all brings us to me. I loaded $500 in Party Poker to get the maximum $150 bonus. That's $650 to use against all those fish I hear so much about.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I feel like I've been one of those fish. My bankroll eventually dwindled below the $100 level and I've cashed it out. I'm not winning at poker right now. I'm not beating the ring games, I'm not beating the tournaments and I'm not beating the SNG's. And I'm allowing my frustration to affect my play.
After I busted out of the tournament at the casino over the weekend, I sat down at a $3-$6-$12 game. It took me very little time at all to turn $100 into $170. I told myself that by the time I left, I'd have paid for my tournament entry fee.
Then it started happening. My cards weren't hitting. I was making bad decisions. I was suffering some vicious defeats. Most of all, I wasn't playing well, and I think I tilted. Hell, I know I tilted. I got up and blew $100 at the craps table.
I specifically remember one hand I'm dealt pocket 10's. The flop comes Q-Q-10. I'm betting the hell out of this thing and getting callers. The turn is a 3. And I'm betting the hell out of this thing and getting callers. And the river? Another 3. I just about fell out of my chair. It's suddenly bet into me and I'm forced to call and see the guy flip a Q.
I know, I know, it's the kind of bad beat we've all gone through. Why should I allow it to affect me? I don't know. But it did.
I've given up on Party, Empire, Ultimate Bet, Pacific, Planet, and just about every other site out there. I have $45 left in my PokerStars account from the day I loaded some money for the WPBT event. I plan on just playing SNG's for now. I like their format and I don't feel confident enough to play anything else.
This week, I'll be playing in a home game format with some guys in Baton Rouge. And Satuday, I might drive down to Baton Rouge for a big multi with a small buy-in. But I have no poker plans beyond that.
I'm not sure what the issue is. I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong and I can't get over that same hump that Felicia is talking about. I'm sure the hump I've hit is one she got over years ago. She's in a spot well advanced of mine, but it's a hump nonetheless.
I'm a rock. I'm a rock that doesn't know how to effectively change gears and I think it's hurting me. I'm going to take a break from intense poker and see if I can just start enjoying time at the tables again. After that... who knows.
"Hi, my name is CJ... and I'm a losing poker player."<-- Hide More
G-Rob stood at the top of his driveway staring blankly into the darkness. I was late to pick him up, but he didn't seem as annoyed as he should've been. A pair of bright high-beams shot over the top of my SUV and lit up G-Rob's face. When he climbed in, he said, "I wasn't sure it was you until I saw the bread truck pull in behind you."
The bread truck was actually The Mark's black H2 Hummer, a rumbling mass of steel and poker prowess. When BadBlood began organizing the game, he thought we would be shorthanded, so I called The Mark and asked if he wanted to play. He did.
Like a short-handed homage to the movie "Swingers", our vehicles followed each other through the night as we strained to see the street signs and fingered the rolls in our pockets.
And somewhere in the air, I smelled pig.
I really, really like me some pig.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I was wrapped up in my own thoughts. The big life-change had finally come to pass and Mrs. Otis teetered on the brink of tears. It promised--and still promises--to be a good thing, but it was going to be tough on her nonetheless.
I had initially planned to skip the game, but after a good 36-hours of good wifey time and weighing the prospect of losing a significant chunk of my live poker-playing time, I decided to go.
We three were the last to arrive and find that the short-handed game had turned into a full table. We now had eleven to sit around BadBlood's finely-appointed table. I squeezed in between G-Rob and the only female player of the night, Robin.
Occasionally, the smell of ham caught the air. I couldn't help but be distracted. I'd eat a ham sandwich off the floor if I had to.
Something was up with my nose. I kept smelling the faintest hint of body odor, as well. I'd showered just an hour before going to the game, so I didn't think it was me. Still, I couldn't help stealing a few furtive sniffs of my pit.
I don't think anyone noticed.
As it turned out, the host--who's last name I thought to be Italian, but later found to be of French origin--had thrown a Thanksgiving open house that afternoon. Leftovers overflowed in the kitchen, including a giant honey ham.
The rest of the evening was a blur of cards, beer, and pig. As such (and as I took no notes), I'm stuck with just a few scenes in my head, only a few of which have to deal with poker.
I was about even for games on BadBlood's table. I've developed a bit of a tight reputation and thought to change gears a bit. That was going to be a little tough eleven handed, but I got a chance about a half-hour into the night.
In late position, I found KJ of diamonds. BadBlood put in a modest $3 raise from middle position, I called, as did The Mark from UTG. The flop came AQ9, the A and 9 both diamonds. BadBlood made it $6 to go. At first I put him on a big queen, maybe two pair with an AQ. I had quite a draw in front of me. Any diamond gave me the nut flush. Any ten gave me a broadway straight. I decided to raise to $12. I figured, if anything, I coulld push out The Mark and play heads up with BadBlood. To my surprise, The Mark called and BadBlood pushed all-in.
Now, I had no doubt that BadBlood had flopped a set, likely of queens, but maybe of aces. Anyone who looked closely at me could've seen me counting my outs out loud. Ten diamonds plus the three non-diamond tens. Thirteen outs. I only had around $13 left in front of me. Given that The Mark would likely now call--especially if I did--that meant I'd be putting $13 in to a pot that would be around $90.
After emerging from the tank, I groaned, "God, this is a loose call."
I called as did The Mark.
We flipped up our cards. BadBlood had, indeed, made his set of queens on the flop. The Mark had flopped two pair with an A9. As I recall, both BadBlood and The Mark had a diamond in their hand. The host and one other guy said they'd folded a diamond a piece.
The turn was the five of diamonds. BadBlood's face sank. I mistakenly said, "That's the nuts." Someone quickly corrected me, pointing out that if the board paired, BadBlood would make a boat. If it paired the ace, The Mark would make his boat.
Neither happened and I tripled up.
The host applauded me, "That wasn't a loose call. That was strong, man. Strong hand."
At the time, I didn't believe him. I felt like he either didn't know what he was talking about or was trying to get me to play the same way against him. Plus, BadBlood was now in the middle of a full-scale tilt-fest. He handled himself well, but every few minutes he would mumble something about the "fucking queens." One problem I'm trying desperately to overcome is feeling sympathy for my buddies when I lay a hard beat on them.
Looking back, I think my final call was well-justified by the pot odds. However, I'm still reviewing the $12 raise I put in post-flop. I think it was a good play on a few counts.
First, BadBlood could've missed his hand completely. He might've just been being aggressive after his pre-flop raise and my raise could've made him re-think his stature on the turn. That is, if my initial raise had pushed out The Mark and left me heads up with BadBlood, he would have had to make a hand on the turn or fold to my bet.
However, that's not being very honest on my part. While hard to figure out sometimes, BadBlood is not a reckless player. My initial read that he had a big hand was correct and I'd be lying if I said I didn't think I was on thin ice when raising him. Further, The Mark is a hard one to get to lay down a hand. I likely knew that I'd be called in both places. That meant, I had to hit my hand.
Second, though, that raise might've bought me some time. Had BadBlood been a little less aggressive, I might've been able to see the river for free. Had I missed my draw on the turn, The Mark and BadBlood might've checked to me.
So, in retrospect, I'm happy with my play post-flop. Calling the raise pre-flop with KJs may be another matter, but hey, I was vowing to loosen up a bit, right?
Oh, and BadBlood got me back later in the night. I flopped two pair to his flush and straight draw. He called my all-in bet and hit his flush on the turn.
So, we're even.
Daniel Negreanu makes no bones about the fact that he will base some of his decision-making regarding bets, calls, and folds based on the nationality of his opponent. For instance, he'll more readily call a northern European player than he would an American.
Me, I like to know what people do for a living.
For instance, engineers are very mathematical and know the odds very well. Attorneys are performers and prone to deception. Entrepreneurs are risk-takers.
As usual, much ado was made about the way G-Rob and I scrape together our mortgage payments. During that conversation, I discovered I had no idea what the host did for a living. So, finding the open door, I asked.
"I sell heating oil," he said.
Although I wasn't involved in a hand, I went in the tank. A heating oil salesmen? What the hell does that mean?
After being quiet for several minutes, I turned to discover the host had gone to the bathroom. I remarked, much-too-truthfully, "You know, I don't even know what heating oil is."
I should know. Much hay is made in my office this time of year about heating oil prices and how high they go.
Teddy Ballgame said, "It's like diesel fuel" which I found patently hard to believe. Why in the world would the public care if diesel rices skyrocketed in the winter.
No one else could help me out and I found myself in quite a quandry. I'm no expert on anything. However, I know a little about a lot of things. Heating oil is not one of those things.
According to one website, "of the 107 million households in the United States, approximately 8.1 million use heating oil as their main heating fuel. Residential space heating is the primary use for heating oil, making the demand highly seasonal."
I don't know if this means anything or not, but I do know that the host re-bought so many times he emptied his pockets and owed BadBlood $60 by the end of the night.
I had two nemeses at the table--G-Rob and Missouri Josh. I only counted MO-J as a nemesis because he busted me hard four weeks earlier. G-Rob, however, has his own brand of mischief.
His greatest trick is accomplished by one of two things: Either he's picked up a massive tell of mine or he knows the odds.
It goes like this: The action comes to me. One second later, G-Rob says, "Otis folds." One second later, I fold.
So, either he knows when I'm going to fold or he knows that I fold a lot more than I call.
His next trick is less of a trick and more of a way to show the table how much he dominates me mentally. I bet, he raises. No matter what. Of course, this only works when he fnds a seat to my left and is subject to backfire.
I sat steaming most of the night as I heard his two catch phrases over and over again: "Otis bets? I raise" and "Otis folds." It only gets worse when he uses the phrases back to back in the same hand.
I vowed to bust him before the end of the night. I thought I had my chance once when I flopped top pair. I pushed all in and ran into his aces.
Later, though, I found a pair of fives. He raised me, I called. The flop came T5x. I bet out, he raised. I called. The turn was another ten. I checked, he pushed all in. I called with my boat and took most of his chips. He had QT.
In the longrun, I think G-Rob is still up on me by a good bit, but it was fun to see him nod--quietly--and push his chips over to me.
When the evening ended after seven hours of poker, I found myself down only four dollars. G-Rob had dropped about $50. The Mark had raked in more than $200. It would've been more than that but he made a really loose call on the second to last hand of the night that cost him a lot of his chips.
Four bucks for an evening of entertainment?
Yeah, I'll take it.<-- Hide More
I stood in Otis' Secret Cubby, thumbing through the stack of bills, trying to hide the look of eager anticipation that always runs through my nervous system before I hit a homegame. I peeled $100 off the stack and pushed it into my back pocket. I needed to leave soon and my poker feet were already tapping on the hardwood.
"A hundred is more than enough," I said to myself. The max buy-in was only going to be $30. If history proved a good barometer of my monetary necessities, I would need no more than $60 to ride my way to a modest profit for the night.
That's when I heard it. The other voice, benevolent in its tenor, said, "Peel off another hundred. You know, just in case there are some gamblers there that want to play for some real money."
Bravado has never been one of my strong suits. Every time I try to play the confident, devil-may care road gambler, it looks silly on me.
Still, I listened, peeled off another hundred, stuffed it in my pocket with its friend from the secret cubby hole, and departed for BadBlood's.More in this Poker Blog! -->
After my last trip to The Mark had ended in booze-induced folly, I decided that virtual sobriety would better serve me on Saturday evening. Plus, I'd never been to Badblood's house, and I didn't want to scare the rest of the Blood clan.
With that in mind, I decided to pull a small bottle of Absolut off the liquor shelf. My last big win at The Mark had been fueled by a spiked Sonic Limeaide. I figured a Route 44 would serve me well, Plus, it would have a lid and if I turned clutzy, as is my wont, I wouldn't ruin BadBlood's new table.
But I mis-navigated my drive, bypassed Sonic entirely, and ended up picking up G-Rob without refreshment in tow. G-Rob just lives around the corner from BadBlood, and a convenience store sits in between, so we stopped and picked up some schwag beer, and made it to Blood's about five minutes early.
In retrospect, I think there may be some corrolation between schwag beer and poor poker performance on my part. While I barely drank at all at Blood's on Saturday night, I think the ghost of August A. Busch may have something against me.
A compromise may be in order. I'm thinking Guinness in a sippy cup may be the best idea.
But, really, this talk of alcohol, sippy cups, and August Busch is no more than a distraction from the real story, a digression from a place I just don't want to take this respectable blog.
But, if we must, I figure we should go there now.
As I walked into Blood's to a chorus of incredibly polite children, I made a note to title this post "GANT at BadBlood's." GANT (as in "Got A New Table") would be my whimsical way to approach a humble post about raking pot after pot on BadBlood's brand-spankin' new full-sized table.
Complete with a padded rail, cup-holders, and seating for ten, it was beauty in the form of furniture. Blood opted for the dark red (he would say, "plum") fabric for the table top. His new cards slid across the fabric with the ease of an air hockey puck.
I made the concious effort to find a seat to G-Rob's left. His aggressive playing style has been known to kill and tilt me in the past. I figured I could stem that tide early if I could keep an eye on him.
In the adjoining room, Game 1 of the World Series began. BadBlood, a BoSox fan, and I, a Missouri-native redbird fan, settled on a six-pack of good beer to the winning fan. I made a mental note to ask for Guinness when the Cardinals swept the Sox.
As the players pulled out their buy-ins, I sat quietly as G-Rob covered my first $30. I'd won a prop bet the previous weekend by failing to fall down in a drunken stupor more than 2.5 times. G-Rob, who had taken the over, owed me.
This, I thought, is going to be the best freeroll I've ever played.
The table consisted of accountants, engineers, a banker, and two TV personalities. The smart money would be on the numbers guys, but I planned to prove the smart money stupid.
Still, I bled off a few chips to begin, not necessarily sure how to handle the loose style of number-guy, Rank, and laying down top pair to an obvious flush on the turn.
Within two orbits, though, I played AQs (a hand that would get a bad name before the night was over) when two of my suit hit on the flop. I made my flush on the turn and played it slow. Mr. Matt and I got all in on the river, to which he said, "I straighted you."
Almost apologetically, I said, "I flushed" and raked the pot.
Ah, yes, I thought. This is how it will be all night. Be humble, Otis. You don't want these guys thinking you're a cocky bastard.
I'm not really sure what happened after that.
Okay, yes, I am, but I'll get to that in a little while.
After about a hour or so of play, a new player walked in wearing a Cardinals hat and University of Missouri shirt.
"You from Missouri?" I asked, sizing him up. He looked a little younger than me and initially bore the tells of a player new to the game (boy, I can form misimpressions really, really fast).
We chatted for a few minutes before discovering that not only had we gone to the same college, we grew up in the same city, and our high schools were in the same athletic conference. In fact, our high schools were arch rivals that shared the same mascot.
Missouri Josh, as I would take to thinking of him, should be my nemesis, I thought.
You wanna be a Tiger, buddy? Let's get to growlin'.
I'm so fucking stupid.
See, after a couple of days, I've discovered what happened.
After months of promoting the tight-aggressive style to burgeoning poker player, G-Rob, I found myself unwilling to play in that fashion. The table was as loose as the fabled mother-fucker. What's more, it was loose-aggressive. At first, $3 raises would be enough to scare almost any player off a pot. Within a few hours, $3 raises seemed like Post Oak bluffs. Any bet less than $10 was seen as weakness. Big, red-bird filled pots became the norm.
I thought I could portray myself as a loose player as well. I flopped a king-high flush draw and called for all my chips with two cards to come. No clubs, no money.
"Well, hell," I said, "I was on a freeroll anyway. Now it's time to play."
Two buy-ins later, I was on my heels, twice laying down the best hand in large pots when facing bets from ultra-aggressive G-Rob or Missouri Josh.
Before long, Josh and G-Rob had the largest stacks on the table.
BadBlood commented, "We're going to have to be careful the table doesn't tilt that way."
I could only respond from my spot on the other side of the table, "No worries. I have enough tilt for this entire side of the table."
It was shortly thereafter that most of the table called a $3 raise from Missouri Josh. It came around to me on the button, where I found AQo. After being on my heels and playing tight-passive for an hour or so, I figured I could steal the pot.
"All in," I said.
Everybody folded but Missouri Josh, who called with JTs.
Ordinarily, this is where I would begin lamenting the number of bad beats I faced or the impossible luck of my opponents. Unfortunately, I don't recall suffering any bad beats and--against me--my opponents didn't need to rely on luck.
BadBlood, Missouri Josh, and G-Rob dominated the table. They each had different stlyes. BadBlood played a good tight-aggressive game, was kaing professional reads on all of his opponetns, and only fell a couple of times when he got sucked out on. Missouri Josh played a spectacular loose-aggressive game that made him the biggest winner of the night. G-Rob played a hyper-aggressive game that suits his demeanor and style very well. He held a massive cheap lead for much of the night but suffered a massive beat when, in one hand, the river counterfeited his flush with a fourth spade, giving Missouri Josh another massive win.
In a fun moment later in the evening, G-Rob went to war with Josh, flopping the nut-straight and doubling up when Josh flopped a middle pair with a straight draw.
All the while, I sat with my elbows on the spectacularly padded rail of the table, wondering at what point in the night I became a fish.
I am no Tiger. I'm a fish.
Glub, glub, my good man.
I could go on like this for another thousand words or so, but I'll spare you any more verbosity. While there were some amazing hands played at that table, I didn't play any of them. My two chances to make any sort of big money fell apart when I overplayed Cowboys and forced out a guy with TPTK, and when everybody folded to a minimum raise when I held AA.
After finally peeling myself away from the table, more than $100 in the hole, I realized that I might as well have been playing with my cards face up. My opponents didn't need their cards to beat me.
I struggled for most of the next day, trying to figure out how I could be so successful online, but fail so miserably sitting at a cheap $30 max buy-in NL homegame table. It was, to date, my worst live performance ever.
I've come up with a few conclusions, and would appreciate any thoughts from people who play a good mix of online and live play.
1) No matter how good my hand, I mentally noted the nuts and convinced myself my opponent was holding it. When I believe my opponent is always holding the nuts, I can't convince myself to play my game. As such, as a matter of pride, I refused to show down my hand and cost myself money in the long run. That leads me to...
2) Pride cometh (or perhaps, goeth) before the fall. See, since I hadn't played at this game before, I wanted to look good. I wanted people to see me as I see myself: A solid poker player. Since I wanted show down amazing hands, I folded weak but winning hands. Unfortunately, my pride backfired on me. After initially representing myself as a solid rockish player, I became known as a passive player who would fold to bets on the river. The good players at the table picked up this tell very quickly and exploited it to their advantage.
3) After playing tens of thousands of hands online, I think I have forgotten the absolute necessity of maintaining--for need of a better term-- my poker face. After eighteen months of auto-posted blinds and the ability to cheer out loud when I hit my flush, my tells were so obvious that even I was picking up on them. By the end of the night, heads up with Missouri Josh, I caught myself picking up my cards to fold them before he even bet. That's just sad.
4) After losing two buy-ins, I became obsessed with the idea of getting back to even, forgetting that in a ring game you don't have to play your stack like one would in a tournament.
5) I'm not as good as I think I am. My B&M play has been basically limited to limit play (my strong suit). My homegame NL play has been limited to two games that I can beat with some regularity. This was a new NL game, however, against relative unknowns. Good players can adjust their style to fit the game. In an effort to do so, I adjusted improperly and lost several buy-ins as a result.
I made it home by about 2:30am and willed myself to go to bed instead of firing up Empire. By Sunday, I had recovered emotionally enough to get back to playing my regular online game. I played my limit ring game and SNG's all day long, cashing in 75% of the SNGs. I made back my losses from the previous night and woke up this morning feeling a little better about my game.
BadBlood is thinking about another game in a couple of weeks.
I think I'll title that post, "Fish, back in the water."<-- Hide More
That will be the title for an upcoming Up For Poker post. I thought I'd be ready to write it today, but my head needs a little more time to digest the depths of my sheer lack of poker prowess.
Suffice it to say, my catch-phrase of the night became, "You know, there's no shame in re-buying."
Until I find the cojones to be completely honest about my play, or at the very least, find a good excuse why I suck so impossibly bad, I'll leave you with this paraphrase of one of the best "Kids in the Hall" skits ever:
"I'm a bad poker player."
I don't get up early. I just don't. Mornings are for nuns and school children. Poker players play at night.
But here's something interesting:
If you go to bed and wake up in the morning, you catch the players who have been up all night, running bad, and trying to catch up before they hit the sack.
This morning was a good morning.More in this Poker Blog! -->
In an effort to spare you the bloody details, I played for one hour before I had to get ready for work. One hour.
In that one hour, I made nearly ten times what I'll earn at work today. Doing the math, I'm going to work all day today, all of next week, and half of the next week before I make as much as I did playing poker for one hour this morning.
As I showered, I asked myself, "How can that happen?"
One answer: Variance.
To wit: This would all be very good news if it weren't for the fact that this was my first winning session all week and all I did this morning was recoup my losses for the week.
Still, one hour.
I gotta find me a live home game for tonight.
Anyone?<-- Hide More
Okay... I've got a weekend under my belt and I'm up $100 overall (up about $200 on the ring games... damn those SNG's! I've sworn 'em off). I've also finally gotten myself PokerTracker. If I'm gonna play, I might as well be serious about it.
For my last two hands of the night, I dropped the HAMMER at two different tables. I shudder to think what PokerTracker thinks of that! Here they are...More in this Poker Blog! -->
Table chrlier angels (Real Money) -- Seat 4 is the button
Total number of players : 10
Seat 7: Up4Poker ( $42.80)
DENALI03 posts small blind (0.25)
Sundance96 posts big blind (0.50)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Up4Poker [ 7d, 2c ]
xBulletzx: mmmm crack
Up4Poker raises (1) to 1
boozeandlose calls (1)
JKisineffect calls (1)
sherrieee33 calls (1)
Sundance96 calls (0.50)
** Dealing Flop ** : [ 2h, 5c, 5s ]
Up4Poker bets (5)
** Summary **
Main Pot: $10 | Rake: $0.25
Board: [ 2h 5c 5s ]
sherrieee33 balance $15.65, lost $1 (folded)
DENALI03 balance $17.30, lost $0.25 (folded)
Sundance96 balance $102.55, lost $1 (folded)
Up4Poker balance $46.80, bet $6, collected $10, net +$4 [ 7d 2c ] [ two pairs, fives and twos -- 7d,5c,5s,2c,2h ]
boozeandlose balance $13.50, lost $1 (folded)
JKisineffect balance $20.29, lost $1 (folded)
Up4Poker: the HAMMER!!!
Up4Poker: Now that's smokin' crack!
<-- Hide More
0/0 TexasHTGameTable (PL) - Mon Oct 04 00:51:15 EDT 2004
Table Buttered popcorn (Real Money) -- Seat 2 is the button
Total number of players : 9
Seat 10: Up4Poker ( $44)
fukthatriver posts small blind (0.25)
DrunkenSushi posts big blind (0.50)
** Dealing down cards **
Dealt to Up4Poker [ 7s, 2h ]
brogar3 calls (0.50)
Booktrek calls (0.50)
Up4Poker raises (1.50) to 1.50
brogar3 calls (1)
Booktrek calls (1)
** Dealing Flop ** : [ Th, Qs, Ks ]
Up4Poker bets (5)
** Summary **
Main Pot: $10 | Rake: $0.25
Board: [ Th Qs Ks ]
fukthatriver balance $55.72, lost $0.25 (folded)
DrunkenSushi balance $24, lost $0.50 (folded)
brogar3 balance $18.95, lost $1.50 (folded)
Booktrek balance $19.32, lost $1.50 (folded)
Up4Poker balance $47.50, bet $6.50, collected $10, net +$3.50 [ 7s 2h ] [ high card king -- Ks,Qs,Th,7s,2h ]
A couple months ago, I emptied every online poker account I had going. I just wasn't playing often enough to make it worth while. I would log on every now and then and throw away 25 bucks without blinking. If I wasn't going to take this seriously, I shouldn't be wasting my time or money.
Tonight I reloaded in Empire. It's been awhile since I've played there, but Otis says there's no other place worth playing. I'm a little rusty, but I think I did okay for the first night back, and even pulled out the HAMMER!More in this Poker Blog! -->
The bad news is that I lost money.
I'm down $19 in 5 hours of play. Hardly stellar results, unless you consider I blew $33 on a limit SNG (I didn't realize it was limit), $55 on a NL SNG (my Big Slick all-in pre-flop got cracked by AQ when the Q fell on the flop... bastard) and $11 on a multi (I made a terrible call, ugh).
So throw out that $99 and I actually finished up $80 in my ring games. Here's just a few hands that remind me why I love fish... (all hands are at PLHE $25 max buy-in tables):
I'm in early position at a full table when I get dealt one of my favorite hands, pocket 10's (or jackpot, as I like to call it). I simply call the BB of $.50 and 6 of us see a flop of Kd, Kh, 4h. It's checked to me and I bet a dollar. I figured I'd test the water and see if there was a king out there.
I get 2 callers and the three of us see the magical Ts on the turn. We all check this time, I figure I'll slow play it. The river is the Qh. Great news for me because it puts both a flush and a straight on the board. As long as no one's holding a better boat, I'm golden.
This time the first guy leads out with $2. I raise it to $4 and the third guy calls. The original bettor re-raises to $6 and I figure it's time to go all in for my remaining $23. I've got them both covered and, amazingly, they both call with $14 and $13 respectively.
It's showdown time and a nut heart flush and trip K's both lose to my boat. The final pot is $69 for a tidy $39 profit.
This time I'm in the SB when I get dealt Jd, 9s. Five players limp in so I simply complete and the BB checks. Seven of us see a flop of 7h-Jh-Ts. Well, it's top pair and a gutshot straight draw. Not ideal, but not bad for my small blind hand. It's checked all the way around to the button who bets $2. I figure there's a strong chance of a steal here so I call. Three other players also call.
Five of us watch the Js come on the turn. I have to wonder at this point if my trip J's are really good. Anyone who limped in with 8-9 already has me beat. Not to mention A-J, K-J, Q-J, J-T, and J-7. I check and three players behind me all bet the minimum of $.50. I figure it's time to put them to the test, and I bet the pot of $15. I get one caller.
The turn is the 4h, putting a flush possibility on the board. I'm liking my hand less and less, but I figure there's no way I get called $15 on a flush draw, so I ignore that possibility. The straight and better kicker still scare me, but not enough, because I go all-in for my remaining $19 and get called.
This showdown was scary. I was really hoping not to get called, but the guy was pot committed. If he had anything, he had to call. When he shows Jc-8c, I quickly scan the board and realize I squeaked out a win. This $80 pot brought me another $43 profit.
We're down to just 8 players now and I'm the small blind again. That's when I look down at 2s-7h. It's The HAMMER! There's only one caller in front of me, so I complete and the BB checks.
The flop is Td-Qd-2d. Seems like a perfect bluff opportunity, right? And since I have a pair of deuces, I'll stretch, and call it a semi-bluff! Except for the fact that I was a wimp and checked. But so did the other players, so we see a turn for free.
It's the 3c. No more fooling around, I lead out with $1.50. I'm hoping the pot-sized bet will scare everyone away. It doesn't, and I get one caller.
The river is the 9h. Obviously, it doesn't help me. Very few cards in the deck could have helped me. That doesn't deter me however. I'm on a bluff with The HAMMER, and I will not be beaten! I bet the pot again and throw $4.30 in the pot. He must have sensed The HAMMER because he laid down his hand.
We'll never know what he had, but I did show the table my beautiful hand. It's only the second time I showed my hand all night (quad Q's earlier). There was no chat from the table either before or after I declared "The HAMMER!!!!" in the chat bar. These guys should start reading blogs!
I'm really pissed at myself for getting knocked out of the multi. I doubled up early, made it to the first break well above the average stack size and was playing pretty smart.
That's when I got into a stupid hand. I was dealt K-Q off. I hate KQ. It's one of the most overrated hands in poker. That's probably the wrong way to put that. It's one of the most overplayed hands in poker.
Pre-flop I raised 3x the BB. It's my standard "no information raise." The big stack raised me another 200 and I called. The flop is K-x-x. I go ahead and check, thinking I might pull a little check-raising.
The big stack leads out for a couple hundred and I figure he's just trying to push me around. I raise him another couple hundred and he re-raises me! That's when alarms went off in my head. I pictured Big Slick as vividly as if it were right in front of me.
I called. Why? Oh, I don't know... maybe I'll get a Q on the turn. Of course, the turn was a blank. I checked again and he bet about half of my remaining stack. I had about 800 left in front of me and I had already committed about 1000 to the pot. Inexplicably, I raised him all-in.
What the hell was I thinking!?!? I knew he had AK. He called as quickly as he could and flipped over exactly what I knew he held. Why did I play this hand so poorly?
It's simple. I got married to the hand. I bet it with one thought in mind, catch a K or Q on the flop and ram your top pair. But for some reason I ignored the pretty clear information in front of me. I was dominated, plain and simple. I've got to learn to lay it down more.
But that's why I'm getting back into the grind. I've got to eliminate these holes. I want to be a better player, and you can only get better by playing. See you at the tables! (By the way, look for me as Up4Poker.)<-- Hide More
There's nothing like slinging chips with your friends. It'd been a long time since I played an old-fashioned home game. In fact, it had been weeks since I'd played any poker at all. That didn't stop me from buying into Otis' NLHE ring game.
Okay, back to the game... as you can tell by this post's title, I didn't walk away a winner, but I still had a great time!More in this Poker Blog! -->
We started with 8 players each buying in for the maximum of $30. We were playing .25/.50 NLHE with rebuys any time you busted out. We hit a maximum of 9 players at one point, but we generally had 7 or 8 at the table.
The Players (in no particular order):
Otis, Bad Blood, The Doctor (Otis' brother), G-Rob, The Kid, Team ScottSmith, Shep, The Lady, Tony B., and me.
Things got ugly awfully early as miracle rivers came faster than cops to the Krispy Kreme when the Hot, Now sign flashes. I remember when G-Rob spiked a King with just 6 outs available to bust Otis. And at that point, Otis was ready to go on tilt because just a few hands earlier, Bad Blood used a well timed-raise to force Otis to lay down the Hilton Sisters. Bad Blood dropped The Hammer and it was destined to be a long night.
At that point, I figured I would be better off playing from behind. I caught Cowboys pretty early and worked that into an okay pot, nothing special. My biggest hand of the night came when I got wired 7's. The flop did absolutely nothing for me, but a relatively small bet in front of me let me see the turn and I caught my set. The river filled my boat, and I took a lot of money from The Lady.
It was all down hill from there. I read The Doctor pretty well when he went all-in with a gutshot straight draw to my top pair after the flop. It was a pure bluff and I caught him. Unfortunately, the turn made that inside straight draw a double-gutter, and the river filled the straight. That one burned me.
I finally busted when my A9 off caught top pair on a flop of 9-x-x, two clubs. I pushed all-in and got called by QJ of clubs. Don't be fooled by the illusion of a bad beat. At this point, I was behind in the hand. Any Q, J or club gave Team ScottSmith the win, and I was reaching for my wallet before the turn even fell. It was a club, of course.
I wish I had more exciting hands to relate, but I didn't play many exciting hands. I lost $70 for the night, but I'm not sure I was really playing to win money. I know I got into hands I wouldn't normally play, but I was more interested in having a good time.
And the next time I'm in town, I'm itching to play again!<-- Hide More
When I was a kid and pressing my luck, my mom liked to say I was "cruisin' for a brusin'."
For the past week or so, I had it coming.
So, I shouldn't have been surprised.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Saturday night, in an effort to share in the fun of the No-Blos up in Philly, a few So-Blos got together for a little home game in the Garage of Otis (GOO). The game was .25/.50 NL Hold'em with a maximum buy-in of $30.
I've been really busy since then and continues to be, but the highlights bear a little web space.
Here are the top five moments of the night.
1) After taunting BadBlood in recent weeks for getting him to lay down a hand to my hammer, I got what was coming to me. The bastard raised my Hilton Sisters pre-flop with the hammer, then got me to lay the girls down when a K came on the flop. If he had slammed the hammer any harder on the table, I would've run out of the room crying like Mike Matusow.
2) G-Rob made me run from the garage crying like Mike Matusow. He pushed all-in on the turn, when I held top pair (99) with an open ended straight draw. The board was 4678. G-Rob turned up Big Slick and caught the ace of spades on the river. That was a six-outer for those of you who are counting. He turned my stack into a bigger stack and walked away the second biggest winner of the night.
3) Team Scott Smith played the role of bad uncle. His nephew, Logan "The Kid", had doubled his buy-in over the course of the night. When a Q fell on the river, it gave The Kid TPTK, but gave TSS the nut straight. The kid lost his entire stack on that hand. Bad uncle.
4) Little Willie (aka, my brother) was running bad early in the night. His wife had come to visit with Mrs. Otis and wandered through the garage. She silently noted his small stack and walked on. Little Willie re-bought. Then re-bought again. Later, Mrs. Little Willie walked back through and noticed the stack was bigger. She commented, "It looks like you're doing better." The table remained silent, knowing his stack was bigger, but his pocket was much lighter. The moment only lasted for a couple of seconds, when Shep drawled from across the table, "Well, he's bought back in twice." Silence. Then the table exploded with laughter that rivaled any other the rest of the night. Fortunately, Little Willie made a massive comeback and finished in the black for the night.
5) Tatwood, in a moment of sublime tilt, lost her entire stack. Twice. She left the room for a few minutes than returned with the second best one-liner of the night, "Can I write somebody a check?"
Thanks to all who played, especially CJ and Little Willie for coming so far for a little garage game.<-- Hide More
I learned a valuable lesson at the Paragon Casino this weekend. Actually, it'd be more appropriate to call it an expensive lesson. Either way, it's one I'll never forget.
It started well enough, when I checked into an outstanding room. My contact at the casino sure does know how to make someone feel comfortable. I didn't think it'd matter much because I didn't plan on spending much time there.
I wish I had spent more time there...More in this Poker Blog! -->
Session #1: Saturday Afternoon
I got seated a little bit before 3pm. I was at a table without an automatic shuffler so it moved a little more slowly than I was used to, but I didn't mind. I bought in for $100 and settled in for a long session.
Things didn't go so well. I lost the first hand I got invovled in, and never again approached the $100 level. For the most part, I hovered around $40-$60 until I finally busted out.
Did I play poorly? Yeah, I'm sure I did. I was really playing with the casino's money. In the three trips I've made, I was up close to $2000. That's including the $1500 from the bad beat jackpot. So maybe I was a little cavalier with the money. I made loose calls and bad reads and the money just evaporated.
Even when I made good plays, however, I often saw my hopes float down the river. Every set I flopped fell to a flush. Every flush I found floundered to a full house. I couldn't catch a break. When I chased the flush, it never came. I don't want to blame the cards alone, however, because it takes a lot of bad plays to lose as quickly as I did.
At that point, I did what I thought was the smart thing. I got up. I felt a tilt coming on and I didn't want to compound bad play with irresponsible play. I promised I'd be back that night and I walked away.
Why, oh why, did I stop at the craps table?
I like to throw dice. Craps is the only game on the casino floor you should ever play (if you're going to play). With the 10X odds the Paragon offers, the house margin is down to just 0.184%. You can't find a better bet anywhere in the casino (except in poker, where your edge is based on your skill and the relative skill of your opponents, but we all know that!).
The dice were cold. In fact, despite their red color, I swear there was a bluish glow. I quickly figured out why the guy beside me was betting "wrong." It certainly paid to play the Don't Pass.
I obviously didn't figure this out quickly enough, because just five minutes later, I had lost $150. Yes, that's the compulsive part of the gambler rearing its ugly head. I tilted. And I tilted at a place where the money can disappear very quickly.
Session #2: Saturday Evening
I caught the news and a little SportsCenter then some dinner at the 50's style diner. I felt refreshed and focused and ready to play. It didn't take long to get a seat. In fact, I sat right down, in seat one at table 5. I'm not a big fan of seat one, it's kinda hard to see the table. This time I bought in for $200.
It didn't matter much what I could see because very little changed from the afternoon session. Looking back, I think I pressed a little more than I should have hoping to win back what I lost. Again, I didn't play my game.
Here was one of the few bright spots. I'm dealt K6 of clubs in MP and I call the BB. Seven of us see a flop of K-6-x, two spades. No help for my flush, but I did flop two pair. I bet out and get three callers.
The turn, of course, is a spade. I check, figuring one of the three callers caught his flush. There's another check and then a bet. I call and a third player calls as well. Why do I call? I don't know, maybe I'll catch my boat. When the river comes, it's a miracle 6. In fact, it's the 6 of spades, putting four to a flush on the board.
I bet. And it's raised by a guy who checked last time. I figure him for the Ace of spades. The third guy in the hand angrily folds, I figure him for a little flush. I re-raise and get a stunned look from the original raiser. He glances back at the board, and suddenly realized the boat possibility. He has to call anyway, there's too much in the pot. I flip my hand and take my only big pot of the day.
The last hand of my night wasn't successful at all. The guy beside me was about to go all in, and he was doing it blind. I was in the small blind when I got dealt K8o off. Not a hand I normally would play, but it only cost two bucks to see the flop, so I called.
Only three of us are in the hand for a flop of 8-8-J. Well, can't complain about that, can I? I bet, the blind hand raises and we both call. The turn is an A. I bet again, the blind raises again to go all in and we both calll. The river is a blank, it doesn't fill a flush or a straight. I figure I'm in great shape at this point. I bet, the other guy raises, and I start to worry.
I begin to slide in my call as he asks, "You got pocket Aces?" That could only mean one thing. He's sitting on pocket J's and the only hand that can beat him is Rockets. I flip my lowly K8 and I'm down to $100 of the $200 I started with. I decide it's time for bed.
Session #3: Sunday Morning
I got down to the poker room after the first table had already filled up. That means I'd have to wait for the second table, but I didn't mind. It wasn't long, and I got to sit in my lucky seat.
It wasn't very lucky this time. The first hand, I'm dealt J9 off. I figured one of my problems from the day before was playing too many hands, and since I'm in an early position, I throw it away. The flop, naturally, is Q-T-8. By the end of the hand, it's clear my nut straight would have held up.
A few hands later, I get dealt QJ off, and I decide to play it. The flop is K-T-x, two hearts. I check and the guy to my left bets. Two of us call. I wonder if maybe he's playing top pair. The turn is another K and the second heart on the board. I figure I should fold, but, for some reason, I call again. Three of us are still in. I still figure if I catch a straight, I'll beat the other guy's trip K's.;
The river is a 9 and I fill my straight. It also happens to be the third heart, but who's staying in for the runner-runner flush, right? I check, and the guy to my left bets. Then, to my shock, the guy at the end of the table raises! Alarms should be going off, right? He just caught his flush.
As I think about it, I can't believe he'd be playing for the flush. Why spend the money for hearts on the turn and river? I still think I have the guy to my left beat and figure maybe the guy at the end of the table also has the straight. I call the $16 and the guy to my left raises. Damn.
It's clear I just threw away $16. If he's willing to raise, he's clearly got the boat. The guy at the end of the table calls the raise, and I throw my straight away. The showdown is K's full of T's vs. a heart flush. I was beat two ways and still throwing money away. Chalk that up to a terrible read.
Another hand that seemed to epitomize my problems came late in my session. I'm dealt J9s in late position and I play it. The flop is Q-T-7, two diamonds. I'm sitting there with an open-ended straight draw and a flush draw. I've got about 15 outs at this point. The dealer was shooting blanks, however, and I got no help on the turn or river.
It didn't take long for my $100 to disappear, and I wasn't willing to spend any more money on this trip. Now I'll have to lick my wounds for next time. And there will be a next time!<-- Hide More
Some personal annoucements...
First, I'm heading back to the Paragon Casino and Resort this weekend. In fact, through some personal contacts, I'll be staying at the casino for free tomorrow night. That means more time at the poker table (and craps table, I can't help myself). You can expect a report by Monday at the latest.
And speaking of Monday, I'll finally be online at home again. I bought myself a new laptop computer and I'll be on Cox High Speed Internet. That means a return to the virtual poker tables.
Enjoy your weekends, I'll definitely enjoy mine!
The swimminess, those shimmers that rise over the red cinders, the way the humidity hangs a burlap curtain over your mouth... they are all things I remember from the summer of 1990.
I remember the run lasting longer than it normally did and being almost deathly afraid to stop. I remember, but barely, opening my mouth and letting the cold ice water shoot from my stomach and on to the football practice field below my feet. It had barely had time to mix with the contents in my gut, so it didn't taste too bad.
Over my shoulder, I knew he was standing there, his hand likely grabbing at his crotch, at the cancer that would one day kill him.More in this Poker Blog! -->
His name was Reuben Berry. He'd been a pro football coach in Canada and had fathered a son, Todd, that would one day go on to coach Army's football team. I knew he was watching me, even if he wasn't.
Rube had a way with words. No one knew for sure at the time why he'd moved from Canada down to a small town in southwest Missouri to coach a small-town football team. They only knew his pre-game and post-game speeches were poetry.
I was not a good football player, but I stayed on the team for years. The pride I saw in my father's eyes when I caught my first touchdown pass was too much to quit the game. Still, I was not any good.
Ol' Rube had a way of complimenting his players.
"See Schafer over there? You hear his balls drop? Just like a big bull. Boooom! Boom!"
It was the highest of praise for Rube to hear your balls drop. When a linebacker laid a hit on a running back, you could hear Rube screaming from 80 yards away, "BOOOOOOOOM!"
Early on in my not-so-illustrious career as a wide receiver, I occasionally took on the name Teflon Hands.
Nothing stuck to them, least of all, the ball.
For that reason, and a few others, no one was as surpised as me on the day I found myself running at a dead sprint down the sideline, looking back to see Danny throw the pefect spiral, watching over my shoulder as the ball reached its zenith, appearing to be painfully out of reach. No one was as surpised as me when I threw my body into horizontal flight, extended my arms, and snatched the oblong ball from the air.
I crashed into the sunbaked mud, wishing that the catch had come during a key game rather than a hot, afternoon practice.
But then I heard it, loud from across the field. It was Rube's crazy injun voice, bellowing through the haze.
"You see Otis over there? You hear his balls drop?"
I waited, rolling over on the ground. He was was going to make my day.
"You hear'em? ....tink, tink."
He actually said "tink, tink."
I loved that man, but I'm still not entirely sure why.
I was not a good football player. In fact, I was so bad that I often found myself playing out of position on the practice squad.
One afternoon while playing the role of linebacker, a real sonofabitch (also real talented) named Manary blindsided me with a star-shooting block that left me out of breath and seeing God.
When I finally got up, I found that I was a worse football player than I had been before the hit.
The hit had been so hard, it had scared me. For a week or so, I was ineffective as any sort of player. I had gone from a poor player to a scared player.
Ol' Rube had been right after all.
Tink, tink, indeed.
It's not been too long ago that I mentioned I had cash-placed in a big tourney and was wondering what I should do with the proceeds. Several of you warned me to not get in over my head too quickly. Others of you said make a run at it and ride the lightning.
While I'm a little ashamed to admit it, I rode the lightning like a whore on dollar day. And I rode it well.
In the past several weeks, I've watched my bankroll grow beyond what I thought it could.
Put it this way: In February, when I played in my first WPBT tourney, my online bankroll was $200. By June, I had added a zero to the end. As of this weekend, I had doubled the four digit number doing little more than playing $5/$10 and $200 PL on Empire Poker.
Variance had not paid a visit in some time. I was starting to get a little cocky. Again, I started having those little fantasies in which I was pulling doen an extra grand a week.
Then it happened.
It was a small event really. Just insert your best aces cracked story and that's what happened. It cost me about $200 (the amount of my bankroll six months ago, in case you haven't been keeping score).
I thought I was okay. I promised msyelf I wouldn't let myself tilt. And I don't think I did.
But something was wrong. My stacks kept getting smaller. My win rate on sit-and-gos was getting sad.
Over the course of three days, I bled away about $1000. I couldn't tell you where it went.
About four hours ago, I sat down. Within half an hour, my cowboys got cracked in a pretty large pot.
I almost stood up to take a break. And then it hit me just as hard as that Manary screwball did 14 years ago.
I had been playing scared and on the defensive ever since I got my aces cracked and lost $200. I was so afraid of losing my newfound bankroll, that I was losing my newfound bankroll. Tight-weak, all day long.
I made a resolution. Either start playing my normal tight-aggressive game again, or take a month-long hiatus.
It clicked within 30 minutes.
Over the course of the last three hours, I have rebuilt my bankroll to the same place it was last week. I achieved most of the recovery by quintupling up at the $200 PL game I've been playing (see right). The rest came on a $5/$10 game. Somehow, I had made myself stop playing scared.
I wish that my football story had a better ending. I wish I could tell you I went on to play semi-pro ball like Hdouble did. But I didn't.
Instead, I grew my hair long, joined a garage band, started listening to Uncle Tupleo, and started gambling.
Now, 14 years later, I still play guitar, I still listen to Tupelo, and I play cards every day.
You know, Rube never liked the way I played football, but he always seemed to respect me. I'm not sure I ever knew why, but I always felt that way.
While recovering what I'd lost of my bankroll is no big deal in any metaphysical sense, I sort of feel like it was a victory, because I realized what my problem was and corrected it.
That old sonofabitch taught me a lot in those days.
I can almost hear him whispering "tink, tink" from his place in the great beyond.
I miss ya, Rube.<-- Hide More
I didn't want to play the pair of fives... especially after it got raised behind me, but I was in the hand now. The flop didn't hit me one bit. I should get out, right? The raiser bet out and there were a couple of callers in front of me. It's just 4 bucks, right? What the hell...
4th of July checklist:
Watch patriotic parade... CHECK
See fireworks... CHECK
Go fishing... CHECK
I jumped in my car Sunday with one goal in mind: poker. I drove the hour and a half to Marksville, LA, home of the Paragon Casino. The last part of the directions said, "Turn right on main street, the casino is 3.0 miles on the left." Fine, except for one problem... the Marksville 4th of July parade.
45 minutes later, I finally made that 3 miles and made it to the casino. Needless to say, I saw a lot more of the parade then I wanted to. I found the poker room and got my name on the list for a little 4/8 HE. To kill time, I hit the craps table. About an hour later, they called my name. I was up $2 at that point and decided to leave that as a tip.
Back in the poker room, I bought in for $200. I frankly didn't know how I'd do and figured I might sustain some losses before making it back. I thought I might even project the image of some young kid who doesn't know what he's doing. Maybe that would help me get a few callers when they shouldn't be calling.
I'm in seat 4. The table consists of an older woman in seat 7, a twentysomething guy in seat 8, and old Cajun men in every other seat.
The first hand I'm UTG and I look down at pocket 9's. That's one of my favorite hands. I think I'll have to come up with a nickname for it. I call. Six of us see a flop of A-9-6. It's checked to me, and I check as well. When the button finally bets, I raise. So much for the table image I was planning to project. Instead I'm check-raising on the first hand. Think that got their attention?
The button calls, and gives me a scowl. The turn is a blank and I bet and he calls. The river is a blank, I bet, he calls, and his A-7 falls to my trip 9's. I think it's going to be a good day.
Next hand I'm in the BB with K-9 suited. It's actually raised in front of me, but I call since I'm already in the pot. Five of us see a flop of 9-6-2, rainbow. No help for my flush, but I've got top pair with a good kicker. I bet out and get a bunch of callers. The raiser didn't raise again, so I put him on two big cards.
The turn is a 9. Trip 9's in back-to-back hands. Oh yeah, it's going to be a very good day. I bet out and get three callers. The river is a blank, I bet out and they all fold. Two big pots and it's been less than 5 minutes.
Suddenly, I realize I'm fishing. My line is in the water, and I'm going to get a lot of bites. In fact, if I just drop my net in, I'm sure they'll just come swimming in.
A few hands later, I get pocket J's. It's raised in front of me and I call. The flop is 8-8-x. I bet and the raiser calls me. The turn is a 9. I bet and the raiser calls me. The river is another 9, I bet, and the raiser says, "Damn that 8," and shows me Cowboys before tossing them in. Wow.
At this point, I figure variance has to kick in eventually. You may win a few pots, but you have to lose some, too. Fortunately, I've found one of the loosest tables I've ever seen, and these people don't know what they're doing.
Of course, not ever hand was a winner, and a few cost me money. The first was Cowboys. It was my only premium hand that didn't hold up.
I raise in late position and get two callers. The flop is 7-x-x. I bet and get two callers. The turn is another 7. I bet, the next player calls, and the last player raises. Ugh. I know he's got the 7, I should fold, right? I call, as does the other player. The river is a blank. I check, the next player checks and the final player bets. We both call. He flips 9-7s, which not only cracks my K's, but the other player's American Airlines. It made me feel better knowing I would have lost either way.
A little while later, the same guy beat my pocket 8's when his K-4o caught two 4's on the board. Of course, those kinds of hands just encouraged everyone at the table to keep chasing and chasing and chasing. How could I complain about that?
I got pocket rockets twice, and both times they held up. The second time, it was raised in front of me, so I just called. I figured he did me a favor, and I got to hide the strength of my hand. The flop was harmless. He bet and I called. The turn was the second 10. Now I was a little worried. He bet and I just called. The river was the third 10. He checked this time, I bet and he called, flipping pocket Q's.
Presto won for me twice. The first time, my 5's amazingly held up with a board of A-9-6-4-2. Four people were in the hand to the river, and the only other pair was someone holding K-4o.
The next time it won, I really hurt an old guy on oxygen...
I didn't want to play the pair of fives... especially after it got raised behind me, but I was in the hand now. The flop didn't hit me one bit. I should get out, right? The raiser bet out and there were a couple of callers in front of me. It's just 4 bucks, right? What the hell.
The turn brought the magic 5. I checked, Mr. Oxygen bet and I raised him. He gave me a look and called. We were the only two left. The turn brought a second 9 giving me a boat. I bet and he reluctantly called. I turned over my fives, and gave him a sympathetic look. He threw his Cowboys across the table. I really hoped he didn't die right in front of me. (He didn't.)
There were plenty of other hands, like when my 7-3s caught a flush on the turn and I pulled a ton of money out of the twentysomething guy at the table. Unfortunately, he tried to re-raise me on the river, but put money in before announcing and the dealer made him just call. The next hand, he stayed with me to the river and my K-Qs won with just a pair of K's. I'm not sure why he was in that pot, but I didn't complain.
When the old Cajun men got drunk and obnoxious, I got up and walked away. Having them drunk didn't necessarily make it easier for me to win, it just made it less enjoyable. I took my $500 to the cage and cashed out. Five hours of poker, $300 profit, $60 and hour, 7.5 big bets an hour. A good day's work.
On the way out, I pulled my $100 chip out from craps earlier and thought I'd give it another run. It was quite a rollercoaster, but in the end, I lost it all. Oh well, I was up $200 for the trip. I could hardly complain.
During the drive home, I caught the tail end of the Bunkie, LA fireworks show. That really made my 4th of July complete.<-- Hide More
I left work last night with a very strong urge to get in my car and drive straight to a casino. I'm a compulsive gambler. I've admitted it many times. I also have a certain amount of discipline, and that discipline led me home instead.
I got up this morning, and that urge to drive to the casino was mostly gone. Frankly, my big expenditure for this month happened last weekend for Bradoween, and I didn't want to dip into my bank account again. The urge to gamble wasn't gone, however, and that led me to Planet Poker.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I sat down at about 5:30pm with $80 at the $2/$4 Limit Hold 'Em table. I'm not a huge fan of limit, but I need more practice before I head to the casino. There aren't any NL tables at the little cajun casinos that I plan to visit.
Early on, I wasn't seeing great cards, but I was winning enough hands to keep me about even. In fact, I was actually up a few bucks despite seeing no premium hands.
Then it happened, about an hour into the session. The cards were falling, and they were falling my way.
My first big hand really should have sent the rest of the table a message. I'm dealt 9-10 of diamonds UTG, and I call. There are four callers behind me, the SB completes and the BB checks. Seven of us see a Ts-Jd-7d flop.
Hmmm... middle pair, flush draw, gutshot straight draw, and ecstasy if an 8 of diamonds comes. It's checked to me and I bet out. Five players call, none raise. The turn is the 4h.
That doesn't do a damn thing for me. I bet anyway and get 4 callers. Wonder why no one is raising? The river is magic, the 8 of diamonds.
The SB bets!!! Must have the flush. I raise, the three behind me fold and the SB calls. Damn, must not have the Ace. I show my straight flush and he mucks K-3 of diamonds. After the rake, the final pot is $59. I make a whopping $43 on that hand alone.
A few minutes later, I'm dealt American Airlines in the SB. Obviously, it's my favorite NL hand, but in limit poker, I have a tendency to over play it. I'm just hoping for an ugly flop. There's one caller, I raise, the BB calls, and the original caller calls. Three of us see a flop.
Unfortunately, it's not a bunch of rags. Fortunately, it's J-A-A. I wonder had I been at a real table if I would have let out some kind of sound. I check, the BB bets, and I'm the only caller. The turn is another J.
At this point, I'm praying he's got a pair of J's, or at least one of them. I check again, and he bets. I call. I don't want to scare him away if he's trying to buy the pot. I want him to catch a hand! The river is a harmless 2.
By now, it's time to bet. Pot odds dictate a call from him no matter what he's got. Amazingly, he raises me! Maybe he does have a J. I re-raise, and he just calls. I almost feel sorry for him when he flips 7-2 suited. Had it been the HAMMER, I'd have given him a little credit. This pot is $46 and I make another $24 profit.
From there, I got more normal hands. In this case, I'm under the button when I get wired 8's. It's raised in front of me, but I call anyway. The SB also calls. Three of us see a 8-9-9 flop.
Bingo! Sometimes poker is easy. There's a bet in front of me, and I just call. The SB had checked and I want him around for the turn. He calls, too. The turn is a 10.
Beautiful! I hope someone is playing the straight. This time SB bets, it's called, and I raise. Both players call my raise. The river is the 6 of diamonds, the third diamond.
Marvelous! Maybe someone is playing the flush! Sure, there are hands out there that beat me. The straight flush, a better boat or quad nines, but I'm not worried. It's checked to me, I bet and just the SB calls. He flips over Q-J for the straight. Tough luck for him. He's the same guy I killed with my quad A's, maybe he was looking for revenge. It's a $50 pot and a $32 profit.
Next up, pocket T's in the BB. There are two callers and the SB completes. I simply check. The flop is 4-T-7 rainbow.
I love this game. The SB bets, I raise and he calls. The turn is a Q. I'm not worried, there's no straight on the table and no flush. He checks, I bet, he calls. The river is a K that not only puts a straight on the table, but a flush. I figure if he's playing either of those hands, he's an idiot.
He checks, I bet and he calls. Apparently he thought his T-6 might be best. This is just a $31 pot with a $17 profit.
The very next hand, I'm dealt A4 suited in the SB and I'm feeling frisky. It's raised in front of me, the button calls, and I call as well. Three of us see an A-A-2 flop.
With only 6 players at the table right now, I gotta figure I'm in good shape, despite the little kicker. Only the original raiser scares me. He checks, the BB bets, I raise, the other guy folds and the button calls. The turn is a 10.
The button doesn't scare me in the least. And when I bet, he quickly folds. I never got to see what he had. It was a tidy $21 pot with a $13 profit.
The next time I'm the SB, I get pocket 7's. There are two callers, I complete and the BB checks. The flop is J-7-5. I'm not sure when I've flopped so many sets.
I'm in a slow playing mood, not sure why. I check and the last guy in the round finally bets (phew!). I call and one other player calls. The turn is an Ace. That's good news for me.
I check again, the original bettor bets, I raise and he calls. The other guy wisely gets out of the hand. The river is a deuce. Only a few hands beat me at this point: 3-4, J-J or A-A. I bet out and he calls, showing me a measly J-6. This $37 pot means a $21 profit.
This next hand didn't bring me much of a profit, but it was indicative of the night. I'm dealt AJo in early position and I raise. Only the BB calls. The flop is K-Q-T. I've got the nuts. He checks, I check. The turn is a 5. He checks, I bet, he calls. The river is another T. I guess if he's got the boat, I deserve what I get. He checks, I bet, he folds. I'll never know what he had.
The last big hand of the night was my second most profitable of the session, behind just the straight flush. I'm dealt A-7 of diamonds in middle position (diamonds again!). I call, it's raised, the BB raises again, and four of us see the flop of Qd-8d-Ks.
With that much money in the pot, I'm in this to the river. It's bet in front of me, I call, it's raised and we all call. Four are still in when the deuce of diamonds comes on the turn.
Glad I didn't have to wait for the river! It's checked to me, I check and the big raiser at the table bets. I raise him and he calls me. The turn is another Q. Again, if he's got a boat, oh well. I bet and he calls with just Big Slick. This $62 pot brought me a $40 profit.
At 7:30pm, I left the table with $244. That's a $164 profit in just 2 hours. That's 20 big bets an hour! And if you add up the profit I made on just these big hands, that means the rest of the hands played cost me just $9. Does it get any better than that!?!<-- Hide More
Way back in the pre-blogging days, when us intrepid Internet pioneers searching for poker info were forced to make do with the rec.gambling message boards, one of the most common RGP terms was "Presto," signifying the seemingly magical powers that Pocket Fives had in hold`em. Well, this term reappeared in my personal vocabulary, as pocket fives was definitely my most important hand of my long poker weekend.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Living in Lousiana has given me an opportunity to experience the best of poker: real, live poker rooms. Sure, online poker can be fun and profitable, but it can't match the thrill of throwing chips on the felt in a casino.
A few weeks ago, I told you about my trip to the Grand Casino in Coushatta. This time, I'm headed to the Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, LA.More in this Poker Blog! -->
And this time, there's a little something extra in it for me. Next Tuesday and Wednesday are "media celebration" days at the casino. That means I'm staying for free, eating for free and drinking for free. From 9am-12pm on Wednesday, there's "free play at Golf-Slot-Table Games." I'm not sure what exactly that means... but it's gotta be good.
The only trade off is a one hour "media conference" on Tuesday afternoon. I think I can handle that. The rest of the time, you'll likely find me in the 11 table poker room. I've spent very little money on anything since I moved here (still no cable or internet at home), so I've got a nifty little bankroll to take with me.
Wish me luck! I'll have a full report when I get back!<-- Hide More
I know just yesterday I derided my own attempts at Omaha and Stud. Well, today it was Draw Lowball. And here's the message from Planet Poker:
Congratulations UpForPoker on placing 1st in our Draw Lowball tournament on 5/16/2004 4:30:00 PM.
$36.79 have credited to your account.
Thanks for playing at Planet Poker and have a great day!
My meanderings through the worlds of Omaha and Stud (briefly, very briefly) have not helped my poker game. For some reason I've been neglecting my bread and butter: No Limit Texas Hold 'Em.
That's NLHE for the uninitiated (but why would the uninitiated be reading this blog?). NLHE is the
New York Yankees Philadelphia Phillies of poker games (in case you're wondering, the Phillies are now the comparative standard for top-of-the-line). It's the game by which all other games are to be measured.
And it's now a lot like my front yard: thick with weeds and in need of some chopping. Reading that back to myself it makes little sense, but I digress. The bottom line is that my game needs sharpening. Sunday is the Iggy Invitational, and my NLHE has to be top notch if I hope to avoid embarrassment.More in this Poker Blog! -->
With that in mind, I jumped on Pacific Poker. I figured I should get used to the interface before the big tourney. It seems easy enough to use. I think blind levels go up too quickly, but that's okay. At least the chat feature is easy to use, so trash talking should be simple.
Before I even dropped a dime on the game, Pacific gave me $10. For doing nothing. I love Pacific Poker, it's the best ever! I also decided to deposit another $50 for which I received a 25% ($13) bonus. Pacific also covered the Neteller deposit fee, so that's another $5.
To recap, I hadn't played a hand yet, but Pacific had given me $28. Maybe they knew I'd be giving it back soon.
You see, staying away from NLHE for a long time can obviously be a bad thing. It's like leaving your pudding out for too long. You won't like the first few bites, but eventually it should taste good again. (Hmmm, reading that back I'm not sure anyone will understand that analogy. You see, pudding can develop a film on top if it's sitting out and... bah... forget it.)
I'm apparently not through the filmy top layer of the pudding yet because I've busted out on the bubble of three consecutive SNG's. I really have no one to blame but myself. Granted, I got rivered two out of those three times, but at that point in the game, I don't think I was making the smart plays.
Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, but people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and there's no use crying over spilled milk. That's what I always say! (No Guinness was consumed during the composition of this post. God, I need a girlfriend...)<-- Hide More
Or, How I gave up eBay and started to love online poker
A few years back, I walked into a metal-walled warehouse and came eye-to-eye with a blurry-eyed gambler. The game hadn't started, but he was already eying his prey, rubbing his roll, and settling into a chair that was just a little too small for his sitting parts. Though the room was filling up with degenerates just like this bloodshot gambler, I knew that the plump man with sausage fingers and double-stack pancake face was my competition. He was the man who I'd battle until one of us had no money in his pocket.
A family of rednecks ran this place, the kind of people who show love through insults and comments about each other's intelligence. They supplied folding metal chairs for the collection of gamblers who found their way to the city limit warehouse every other Monday night.
I slipped into my chair, checked my pocket to make sure my roll was still there, and started figuring out how I would best the room, and more importantly, the guy with the big hindquarters. I could tell from a distance, he knew he'd be fighting me before the night was over.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The story of my burgeoning poker maturity would be better if this warehouse, Ralph's, had been an illegal poker room in Upstate South Carolina. It would be a better story if Mr. Bloodshot was an old-school chip-slinger with a fat roll and a razor in his boot.
Instead, Ralph's was an auction house, specializing in old and antique junk. And Mr. Bloodshot was just an older, fatter version of me looking to make a few quick bucks on the eBay auction revolution.
Once eBay began to gain in popularity, it didn't take me long to figure out that the easy money was in the international resale of old books purchased at local auctions. More often than not, auction houses sold boxes full of 100-year-old books at a fairly reasonable price (depending on who was bidding). A savvy seller could pick up a box for a relatively small amount of money, then sell each book individually for a minimum 200% mark-up.
On this particular night, I was in over my head. Mr. Bloodshot was a long-time eBayer and he had my number from the beginning. As I predicted, as soon as the auctioneer started his machine gun rat-tat-tat mutter from a raised podium in the middle of the room, Mr. Bloodshot and I went at it. The price for one box of books went from $5 to $50 before I knew it and I was still bidding.
I realized in the middle of the raising, check-raising, and mind games associated with auction people that I was getting that same feeling in my chest that I get when I walk into a casino after a long absence. This was competition. And it was competition for money.
At $55, he backed off and I raked my first pot of the evening. Before the evening was over, I had spent about $100 and had three boxes of books. Although I won, I felt like I'd lost. I really wasn't sure if I could turn the evening of low-stakes redneck wagering into a profit.
Three weeks later, I was hooked. One of the books--ONE of them--sold for $80. I estimated I had paid about .75 for it. The profits started to roll in.
I was hitting a B&M auction house once or twice a week. After some research, I expanded beyond books and into NASCAR memorabilia. It comes cheap in the South and you can sell it anywhere in America. I paid .10 for a Dale Earnhardt card and sold it for $50.
Within six months, I established a big enough bankroll to fund a trip to Vegas and stake me for four days of gambling.
I was, in a word, hooked.
Then came that night about a year ago when the World Poker Tour aired the first Aruba episode. I'd already seen the WPT and found myself hooked on the new production style. During a break for the Aruba episode, they aired an UltimateBet.com ad. After the show, instead of working on eBay, I decided to check out UB. I started playing for play chips. Over a few weeks, I raked up enough points to play in a real money tourney. I won real money and the past 13 months has been history.
And so is my eBay career.
For a while, I was doing both. That's when I started getting tired of the hours of labor that went into eBay. A couple hours at an auction. Several hours photographing merchandise, loading it onto eBay, researching the product and its history, and writing up a product description. Then a week of monitoring eBay and answering buyer questions. Then a couple hours boxing everything up and going to the post office to mail everything.
I weighed that against sitting in my underwear and check-raising fish. The decision was clear.
The more reasonable side of me screams: RISK! RISSSSSSK! And that side of me is right. Late last fall I suffered a major hit to my bankroll at UB. Something happened (I'm still trying to analyze exactly what that something was) and I lost about 75% of my roll. I took a few weeks off and considered quitting completely.
Then, I entered the World Poker Blogger Tour tourament hosted by Iggy over at Guinness and Poker and won the thing. I kept that account at True Poker and ran a $22 buy-in up to nearly $1000. I transferred $100 of that over to Empire Poker (Bonus code: OtisBDart) and as of last night that account was sitting at $600.
It's not enough to pay the rent, but it's enough to keep me playing and learning (which is all I'm really interested in).
Last night, my wife was bored. She's never really been a fan of my online poker playing. She surprised me by agreeing to play a few Empire hands under my direction. She got a really cold run of cards and suffered one very bad beat. Her stack had been reduced by about $60 when she won her first hand. She'd never admit it, by I saw a light in her eyes. She loved the feeling.
She went downstairs to watch the news and I set about making back her losses. Thirty minutes later, she came back and asked how I was doing.
"I'm up about $20 since you left."
"That's $20 in 30 minutes, hon. That's $40 an hour."
She didn't say anything, but I saw that she understood. That's more than either of us make at work.
Of course, I'm not quitting my day job. Last I heard, Empire doesn't offer health insurance. I doubt I can making a living playing $3/$6 online.
Still, I think I've given up on eBay for good. All it took was asking myself one question:
Would you rather make $80 on the sale of a book after a week's worth of work, or rake an $80 pot after less than five minutes of surfing the net and check-raising a guy playing 5-6 offsuit.
I think the answer is pretty clear.<-- Hide More
The juice hit me like a mainline cocktail of speed, nitrous, and pure adrenaline. The double down on a greenchip bet drew paint to the blackjack dealer's eventual 19. $100. I was 21 years old, a neophyte chip-slinger, and out for a night of rowdiness on St. Louis, MO's riverboats.
My friends threw me some high-fives and encouragement to head for the bar. They wanted drinks, and I was buying.
That's when I met Parlay Penis.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I didn't expect him to speak in an English accent or be so pompous.
"Good show, man! Good show. Now, let's parlay it, guvnah."
He was nudging me in the pocket, trying to push the four greens out of my blue jeans.
My friends were screaming for drinks.
"Drinks!" That's how they screamed.
We made it out of the blackjack pit before my Parlay Buddy convinced me that the $100 score just wasn't enough.
"You know, guvnah, that's a hundred dollars you didn't have when you came in. Just think. $200. That's twice as many drinks."
He nudged once more. The four greens fell into my hand and rolled onto a roulette table. They landed on black seconds before the little ball fell into a black slot.
My friends screamed, "More drinks!"
I cheered and shook my buddy's hand. He relented and I headed for the cage.
I was bubbling over. I was high on winning and knowing I could buy drinks the rest of the night for free and I had my little friend to thank.
I shoved my chips into the cage with a smile.
The lady behind the counter looked me over with bemusement. She looked at the small stack of chips, looked at me, and muttered, "What's wrong with you? You never seen $200 before?"
I'll admit, I felt chastened for all of 90 seconds before heading into an evening of debauchery...free debauchery.
** ** **
After a recent post, a commenter asked about the origin of Parlay Penis. For me, that was it.
Parlay Penis (n)--origin: St. Louis, MO President Casino-- The exclusively male urge to defy all reason and continue gambling with winnings when the smart money says to cash out, go have a drink, and let the euphoria wear off.
In the ten or so years since that time, my gaming sensibilities have gotten better. I can handle--so to speak--the Parlay Penis, even when he is wicked-mad-influential. My ever-expanding poker experience has really helped.
But there are moments when I succomb. More often than not, it happens when I'm not playing poker.
A couple of Vegas trips back I racked up a pretty good win at the craps tables before beginning a silly night of drinking. Eight hours later, 5AM found me in a fairly empty Flamingo Casino, throwing chips like a crazy man onto the felt and screaming for seven come eleven. I can't remember how much I lost. All I remember is that Parlay Penis always seems disappear about the time my chips get restacked in front of the dealer.
Now that I play few games other than poker, I don't get to see Parlay Penis much. But there are still some nights he'll poke around after I have a good session.
Last night, I was due up at 6:45am, but I was in the middle of a fairly good online session. By 12:45, I was up 37BB in a $4/$8 game. The table was soft and my Parlay buddy was not. I heard his tell-tale voice over the hum of the air conditioner.
"Good show, son. Good show. Really socked it to'em, didn'tja?"
I grunted and pretended I didn't hear.
"I said, good show, boy! Let's do it. Let's make a run! This low-limit stuff is for nuns and school children. Look, a seat just opened at $15/$30. "
It was at that point I remembered the previous commenter. He asked the origin of the Parlay Penis. I remember that fat lady in the cage on The President in St. Louis and her chagrin. I remembered the sofetning feeling inside the Flamingo at 5am.
I played out my blind, stood up, and went to bed.
The only problem was, I had to sleep on my back.<-- Hide More
...So why don't you kill me?
Yep, that's me, a loser. A recent Iggy-fueled post inspired me to re-examine my play. He mentioned something about bloggers being better able to improve because they are honest about their play when they blog.
Actually, there's not much play to examine. I haven't set up any internet at home yet. I think I'll buy a computer this weekend, and get started down that road. But I digress...
This is about my play. And right now, it's not real good.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I'm not playing to win.
Does that sound stupid?
I don't think I'm the only one. Poker is fun. I love playing. I love winning, but at that limits I'm playing, or the tourney entry fees I'm paying, I don't have that fear of losing.
Does that make sense?
Recently, I've played the Omaha HiLo tourneys. As I've mentioned, I've finished in the money a couple times. I also finished in the money in the first PJK tourney I played in. That's money I've won.
In the grand scheme, however, I've lost about $50 since depositing at Planet Poker.
In fact, last night, I played in a $5 Stud HiLo tourney. Stud!?!? Are you kidding me!?!? I might as well have eaten a five dollar bill. I hate 7-card stud. I think it's a terrible poker game (mainly because I suck at it). I don't know how to play stud poker well. I haven't learned how to play NLHE really well, and I've been playing that regularly for more than a year.
Needless to say, I finished nowhere near the money. I did get about 2 hours of enjoyment out of playing, but winning cash was never a possibility.
That brings me to a larger point. In the 5 weeks I've been playing poker at Planet Poker, I've lost $50. That's about $10 a week. If I were going to the movies each week, I'd spend at least that much, if not more. Hell, even two Blockbuster rentals are close to ten bucks. And the bar scene? How much can you really drink for $10.
Am I rationalizing now? I think I'm an okay NLHE player. I think I could be really good if I spent the time. I think I could play limit hold 'em pretty well, too. But I'm torn.
I feel the itch to grind and learn, but I worry that I don't really have the patience. That lack of patience costs me money. I'll start a tourney and play smart and patient for awhile, building an above average stack, but then I'll get dumb and bored and go all-in with Q-10o. That's no way to play poker.
So where does that leave me? I think I'm going to take a couple hundred buck this weekend and head to a live poker room. There are a number of casinos within driving distance and I'm determined to find one. I'll have a write-up when I get back.<-- Hide More
My bankroll at Ultimate Bet is $0.00. Over at Empire Poker, it's $0.00. At little-used U Play Poker it's $0.28 (I'm not sure how to blow the rest of that).
Don't worry. I didn't go on the craziest tilt of my life. I actually made a withdraw of as much as I could before my move. The rest I squandered at the Omaha tables (fun game, wish I knew how to play it).
I'm going to start over...More in this Poker Blog! -->
First, I'll have to decide where to play.
I personally love the set-up of Ultimate Bet. It has the best SNG and tournament formats. You can play up to 4 tables at once, and the mini-view option makes it easy to follow.
From what others say, Empire/Party is the place to go to make money. Of course, I've made money at Ultimate (in the end, it was about $1250 in less than a year), but it's not like I'm raking in the big bucks.
That brings me to True Poker. Otis is already raking in the big bucks there, but he's a good limit player. Limit is not my forte. I'll certainly have to check out that site, but limit is just a change of pace game for me.
I'll have to open an account at Planet Poker, just so I can participate in the Sunday night blogger tourneys. Can't wait for that! Unfortunately this all has to wait until I get myself a new home computer. That might be a few weeks away.
The most appealing choice at this point is to try my hand at some old fashioned flesh and bone, brick and mortar poker. Down here in Cajun Country, I'm surrounded by live poker rooms. And the slow pace, and single-table necessity of real poker may help my limit game develop.
More than anything, I need to play again!!!! This time off is killing me, and I'm pretty sure my game has suffered because of it. That means giving money away before I start making it back. See ya at the tables!<-- Hide More
I'm on a crusade to get Wil Wheaton in our next Poker Bloggers Invitational. First, he's a poker player. Second, he's a blogger. Third, he's blogged about playing poker. Guess that means he qualifies! So Wil, if you're reading this, drop me a line and get in our game!!!
More important, for the rest of the Up For Poker regulars, Wil is in the middle of one hell of a poker story over at his blog.More in this Poker Blog! -->
You can start here with "lying in odessa - part one" and then move here to "lying in odessa - part two" before moving here to "lying in odessa - part three" and then wrap up here with "lying in odessa - part four."
Here's just a taste:
This goes on for a while, until I look at my pocket cards and find AJ on the button. Mrs. Beautiful calls, Mr. Director checks, and I call. The flop comes J-4-7. The bet is checked to me, and I move all-in. Mrs. Beautiful looks at her cards, then to me. I take a deep breath, and look down at the board. I'm pretty sure I want at least one call, but it's still nerve-wracking. If I blow this, I go home with nothing.
The only problem with inducting Wil into our group of poker bloggers is that he immediately becomes the best writer among us (after all, he's been published!). I don't mind though, with stories like this, he belongs!<-- Hide More
In my head (a wild and untamed wasteland of fantasy and conspiracy), I see it going down a little like this:
I've just limped in with JT unsuited in the small blind. I'm eying the Rotel cheese dip on the counter. The guy sitting across from me is trying to figure out if he just did a shot of tequila or absinthe. The dealer, a cocky fresh-faced guy with no more chips, has just flopped AKQ rainbow.
Something in my nether regions twinges. I suspect my eyes might dart like they did when the pretty girl in English class adjusted her skirt and showed more than she planned. I plan to finger my chips and slowplay my way to Mr. Absinthe's stack.
It's just about that time that the door to my house explodes into three pieces.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Welcome, if you will, the Sabbath Police.
Obviously, I wasn't watching the clock. Saturday turned to Sunday and I just became a common criminal in the state of South Carolina.
Of course, under South Carolina law, it appears it wouldn't matter if I were playing poker or Chutes and Ladders. Playing games on the Sabbath is illegal.
"Whoever shall...permit any game or games to be played in his house on the Sabbath day, on conviction thereof before any court having jurisdiction, shall be fined in the sum of fifty dollars, to be sued for on behalf of, and to be recovered for the use of, the State."
While I've never heard of anyone getting arrested for playing games on Sunday, it is apparently against the law.
Inspired by Jeremy over at Love and Casino War, I ventured out in search of South Carolina's gambling laws. And, folks, is it a wild ride.
* Despite the fact that the state recently began running it own lottery, lotteries are illegal. Not only that, but if you get busted for running a lottery and pay your $1000 fine, $333.33 of it goes to the narc who turned you in. That's justice, South Carolina style.
* Buying a lottery ticket bestows upon the purchaser the title of, get this, Adventurer. He is "adventuring in lottery." Now, don't get me wrong. I'll buy a Powerball ticket if the purse is high enough, but it's never felt much like an adventure. It's a bigger adventure trying to avoid eye contact with the porno shelves to the right of the counter (you ever wonder where somebody came up with the name SWANK for a porn mag?)
* While the South Carolina law says a lot about what you can play, what you can't play, and where you can't play it, it doesn't say much about betting. I'm no attorney, but following the bouncing ball across the law, I see it as reading as such: "If any person shall play at any tavern, inn, store for the retailing of spirituous liquors or in any house used as a place of gaming, barn, kitchen, stable or other outhouse, street, highway, open wood, race field or open place at any game with cards or dice...except the games of billiards, bowls, backgammon, chess, draughts, or whist when there is no betting on any such game of billiards, bowls, backgammon, chess, draughts, or whist or shall bet on the sides or hands of such as do game, upon being convicted thereof, before any magistrate, shall be imprisoned for a period of not over thirty days or fined not over one hundred dollars."
Simply put, pool, bowling, backgammon, chess, and draughts (?) are legal to play in public, as long as you don't bet. Everything else is out. Especially if you're playing in an outhouse.
Later the law says that anything wagered on such games is forfeited to the state. Frankly, I'd be more upset if my game of Outhouse Candyland got busted. It's not everyday you get to play that game.
Frankly, while I knew I lived in a backward state, the laws of which border on antiquated at every turn, I didn't suspect to face laws regarding outhouses and playing games on Sunday.
So, a notice to my local law enforcement friends: A week from Saturday, I'll be hosting a Hold'em tourney at my house. I suspect many people will not only adventure in lottery on the way to my home, but I suspect them to play cards late into the night, and into Sunday morning. Please feel free to stop by and review South Carolina law with us sometime after midnight.
Oh, but if you use the outhouse, please make sure you close the door when you're finished. Those are the Homeowners' Assocation rules.<-- Hide More
As some of you know, I currently live in Knoxville, TN. There's not a poker room or casino within 1,754,352 miles. Or something like that, I haven't measured.
In less than a month, I'll be saying goodbye to Rocky Top and hello to Cajun Country.More in this Poker Blog! -->
I've gotten a new job in Lafayette, LA. If you care, check out my other blog and you can find more details there.
More importantly, I'm going to be closer to casinos and poker rooms. In fact, I'll be just 2 hours from New Orleans and 2 1/2 hours from Austin (I've heard there's a few poker players there).
Otis has already begun investigating for me and discovered there are poker rooms in Kinder, LA (67 miles) and Marksville, LA (70-something miles).
The good news is that I'm going to be making a little more money. The bad news is that with more gambling nearby, I'll likely be losing a little more money, too. Sure gives me an incentive to become a better player!<-- Hide More
It's tough to learn a new game.
I remember when I was learning to play hold'em. I was stuck a good amount playing hold'em online, and so I decided to intensely studying the game. It was scary. Not only was there money on the line, but excelling at games is what I do best. If I failed, it would be quite a blow to my ego.
I'm trying to learn Omaha Hi/Lo. I'm reading Zee's text from 2+2 on the game. But I definitely still haven't figured it out. I'm playing OK pre-flop, but my turn and river calls are terrible.
It seems like a tough game to get into (aren't they all), but like it has alot of profit potential. I'll keep y'all updated.
Everyone remembers the mistakes they make that cost them money. They stick in your mind a lot longer than that great play you made to take down a big pot.
One of the worst feelings has to be realizing your mistake was getting into the game to begin with. Especially if it's a $2-$4 No Limit Hold 'Em with a few relative strangers.
It was an inauspicious start to our long-awaited poker night.
We had passed out the chips for a little No Limit Texas Hold 'Em sit-and-go when Scott thought he heard a cell phone ring. Don't ask me how, but that led to Scott banging into the table, spilling his full beer over the chips, the cards and the felt.
And we're not talking light beer. This was some kind of deep brown, thick foam beer (as a non-connoisseur of alcoholic beverages, I'll rely on my playing partners to fill in that blank).
So, after cleaning up the mess, we were finally ready to play.More in this Poker Blog! -->
The players included Up For Poker contributors Otis, Randy and I, as well as Otis's brother, Little Willie, and the aforementioned Scott. Five players in a $5 entry-fee warm-up, winner gets $20, 2nd gets his money back.
I can't quite remember how things went, but I know I busted out pretty quickly. I played pretty tight, and never really had the cards. Randy took the title and I think either Otis or Little Willie finished second.
A few more people arrived by that time and we decided to just start playing dealer's choice. We play with dime, quarter, fifty, and dollar chips. A maximum of three raises per betting round and a maximum bet of $5.
I called mostly Anaconda (when we had 7 players) and Omaha Hold 'Em (when we had 8 players). And it was really just two pots that helped me finish up for the night.
The first game was called Trees. It's a terrible game. Everyone hates it, and that's why I called it. You deal five cards to each player and have a betting round. Then everyone begins trading cards face-down with whomever they want, and however many they want. You keep trading until everyone is satisfied or until no one wants to trade.
Usually there's one more betting round and then the showdown, but I added some elements. First, I made it high/low, and I had each player lay out their hands face down to reveal them one at a time (it adds betting rounds).
My strategy was to keep trading until I got a royal flush, and, although I was worried that perhaps a card might have been buried, I finally found the clubs to close the deal.
Four players were happy enough with their hands to play them. Two players were aiming for the high and two for the low. When the other high hand flipped a couple of Jacks, I knew he was playing a boat.
I put my cards in order, except I moved the K to the last card to give the impression it might be a simple flush. He fell for it, and I split a huge pot with the player holding the low hand.
Next was Omaha High/Low. My hand was 7-7-4-3. The flop came A-J-7. I don't think there was a flush possibility at this point, and my low was actually looking marginally good. I bet it pretty strong, and there were plenty of followers.
The turn was a king. I still think there was no flush, but I was worried now about someone holding Q-10, not to mention a pair of J's or a pair of A's. And now the low was in question. I still bet it pretty strong, hoping the board would pair again to give a boat.
When the river came, I instantly realized it didn't pair the ace, king or jack. That was disappointing. Until I realized it did, in fact, pair the board. It was the final 7. That also eliminated any chance of a split pot, and I was holding the nuts.
I bet it strong again and got one caller. I should have checked, because Otis was behind me, and he says he would have bet it strong figuring people had missed their low and woudl fold. Either way, I took down a monster pot and it didn't really matter what happened the rest of the night.
After the dealer's choice, we played another No Limit Texas Hold 'Em sit-and-go. This time, it was a $10 buy-in with 8 players. The original five, plus Tony, Mark and Shep. Winner got $40, 2nd got $25, 3rd got $15.
I hit a nice pot early when I flopped a set with my pair of Q's. It was only the third or 4th hand, and on the river, I went all-in and Shep folded. Too bad he didn't call.
I busted Tony out a little later when my A-Q suited beat his 10's. A Q came on the flop. Must have been my magic card. Little Willie almost stayed in the hand with K-J suited, but decided against it. He would have won the pot with a K on the turn. Little Willie played almost every hand, but it was working for him.
Speaking of him, that's where my night ended. We were the two shortest stacks of the final 5 players and Little Willie went all-in in front of me. I was sitting with A-5 suited and I figured I had a pretty good chance of having the stronger hand. I called, and I was right. Little Willie flipped Q-5 suited. I had him dominated, but the Q worried me. After all, it had been my special card.
Sure enough, a Q came on the flop and I was done. Otis went on to win the whole thing. Scott finished second and Little Willie third. I still think that $15 third place should have been mine. Hell, I might have gone on to win the whole thing. But that's poker! Either way, I finished up $21 for the night after about 9 hours of play. Not my best night, but it's always better to finish ahead.
I'll let Randy and Otis fill in any holes I might have left. I promise to keep bugging him until he lets you in on a new poker game he invented on the fly. It gave us quite a few laughs for the rest of the night.<-- Hide More
When you're playing online, it's easy to fight the power of boredom. You can play more tables, and the play is much faster. You can also search the web for
online porn interesting articles. Boredom is the sworn enemy of good poker play.
And when you're playing online, it's rarely in a social setting (especially if you're doing that online searching). And if it's not social, beer seems to be less of a necessity, although I know plenty of people who still crack one open while at the keyboard.
That all changes when it's time for the home game.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Over at Poker Watch, Dan tells us all about the 4th Annual Dallas Series of Poker. It was a $75 buy-in with 20 players and payouts up to three places. He's got a good write up.
There's also a write up over at The Fat Guy, and it's there that you'll read about the devastating power of boredom. Here's just a taste:
I don't even want to think about the other major mistake that I made, but for self-education (and self-flagellation) purposes, I shall. Pocket 7s for me in SB, one limper and I raise. BB and limper call. Flop comes Ace-blank-10. Spooky, but I make a small bet to see what everyone is thinking.
Any guess where that one is going? This weekend, I'll be at a home game in Greenville, SC. Two other Up For Poker contributors will be there, Otis and Randy. I'll be sure to give you a roundup as soon as I get a chance.<-- Hide More
I learned how to play poker playing for pennies or plastic chips that had no real value. I guess I really just learned the rules of poker at that time. You don't really learn how to play until there is some real money on the line.
In the past year, I've found there are 4 different places where poker is played for real cash, and I've found those games are all very different.More in this Poker Blog! -->
Perhaps there are other games I haven't had the pleasure to play. In that case, I'm sure it's just a matter of time!<-- Hide More