I played in a $170 live underground event in G-Vegas yesterday and finished a disappointing 13th out of 51. It was an afternoon of poker not to be remembered. However, as I looked around the room at the wide variety of players from all different walks of life, I realized that the poker community in my neck of the woods is pretty active. In fact, just before the tournament started, the organizer took the time to recognize three people in the room who had done very well in recent major events, including one guy who had just won about $100,000 in a WSOP circuit event.
While I folded my way to a non-cash, I couldn't help but wonder if the rest of the U.S. is like this. I know the bigger cities have thriving communities--Dallas and New York are two that come to mind. However, I don't hear much about the medium-sized cities and if their poker community is as vibrant.
For instance, I don't make the rounds like most people around here. My head is not in the game and if I want to stay married, I need to stay home a lot more (the two not being mutually exclusive, by the way). However, if my wife were to run off with Derek Jeter and I didn't up and moving to some place where poker is legal, I could play just about every night of the week if I wanted to. There are at least five card room operators within driving distance. There are more games popping up every day. There are two or three tournaments a week in which you can spend as little as $30 and as much as $700 for a single event. And if all else fails, there are more home games than you'll ever want.
There was a time a few years ago in which home games were about our only choice. We played for small stakes and treated it as a social event, like going out to play golf or pick up women. Now, those of us who have been playing together for a while have gotten to the point to which it is undoubtedly -EV to be hosting or visiting each other's home games. We don't dial down the stakes and, recently, it's not been uncommon to see players win and lose six buy-ins in one night of poker. While I still enjoy the company, it's wild to play against people you know so well.
(The following section is really Inside G-Vegas Baseball and isn't really important to the discussion here. Read it if you want, but otherwise move on to the end)
For instance, I hadn't planned on playing Friday night, but it was G-Rob's birthday and The Mark put together a game that was half social and half bloodbath. And speaking of Blood, the guy ran over all of us. In one memorable hand, Blood came in for a raise from the cutoff. G-Rob called in the small blind and I called in the big blind with a weak jack. The flop game jack high with two clubs. I made a decision to win the pot before another card came, but I knew it wouldn't be as easy as just betting out. G-Rob was on tilt and calling all bets. Blood had killed off half the game and was sitting behind the amount of money that I spent on my laptop and big TV combined. G-Rob checked, I checked, and Blood bet out. I read the bet as a desire to win the pot right there. Blood didn't want action. G-Rob called. That night, calling was not uncommon for him and I figured him for clubs. My problem was, I was weak. I had top pair no kicker. I put in a fairly substantial raise. In retrospect, it committed me and I failed to realize it. Before I had time to think about it, Blood had re-raised enough to put me all in. G-Rob folded. Doing the math later, I think I had to call. Nonetheless, after a lot of thought, I re-evaluated the hand, put Blood on an overpair, and mucked.
Blood said a few minuted later that he had pocket tens. That is, I had him beat. "I put you on putting me on missing the flop, so I represented the overpair," he said.
Now, given, we are no poker geniuses and this is the kind of play that takes place everywhere in America. Still, Blood put a Level 3 move on me that he would only put on me and a couple of other people. He knew how I had read him and he twisted my mind to believe what he wanted me to believe. Looking back, I think he was getting me back for making him lay down an overpair two nights earlier when I had ace-high. Regardless, when you're consistently playing with people who know you well enough to know what you're thinking most of the time, it's just not a recipe for making money. It's stimulating and it makes you a better player, but it doesn't make you a lot of money. Unless you're Blood, who is currently enjoying the heater we all pass around (I want it back).
With that kind of thing in mind, we're all sort of re-evaluating whether we want to keep playing with each other. One of us has explicitly said he won't do it ever again. Me, I'm torn. I know I can win more money in the underground games, but I also play to be able to see my buddies.
But, the reason I started this post in the first place was to ask...what is your city like? Do you have a vibrant underground scene full of characters, criminals, and geniuses? Because we in G-Vegas do.
So...what say you?