Sunday, October 30, 2005

O8 Player? Who knew?

If I can't play live, I'll have to get better online.

I think this is my first ever final table in a limit game. Psyched.
See the flop...

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Clubbed Out?

I did not think it would come to this given the number of new clubs that have sprung up, but the immediate future of NYC club poker seems in doubt.

In addition to the latest wave of busts, my current club last night had a sign outside saying they were closed for renovations. At 7:30. On Friday. Without warning (I was there on Tuesday). I don't think they were shut down, I think they shut themselves down. Not sure if it's temporary or what. I do think the heat has been turned up. I also heard of another club that shut itself down.

It is not 100% clear to me that the cops are on solid ground in shutting down the clubs as a legal matter but for now, no one has challenged them since the standard operating procedure seems to be arrest all staff and offer deals that encourage no one to contest the arrest.

Oh, and hit the till.

Funny how the cops even publicly announce that the players are doing nothing wrong and the same time they seize the money with the bullshit claim that they're taking the club's money not the players'. When you grab 50,000 from the till and there are 45,000 in chips on the table, it ain't the club taking the hit. Furthermore, I am supremely skeptical at the figures that hit the papers for example in the Playstation bust. That one they claimed was 56k a hit. Given the number of players inside Thursday night at prime poker time, it had to be significantly more than that.

The whole thing looks like a series of vice squad shakedowns to me. Hell, grabbing the low-hanging fruit really makes sense: what other underground activity has so much loose cash around without artillery?

FTrain and I had a chat about what could be done about this, whether we could challenge an actual arrest or work to change the law. We may even put the lawyer hats on and see what could be done. If any law student reading this page has done some note or memo on the topic, or any other preliminary research, I'd love to get a copy or a reference--I have free Westlaw and Lexus at work but can't really use it for the purpose and would not mind the leg up. Maybe we find some dealer who is willing to take a stand (I doubt this given the cost-benefit analysis even with free representation) or some procedural ground for declaratory relief. Or with more difficulty but more certainty, perhaps we consider a revision (clarification?) of the law.

Anyway, this is probably all going to go nowhere, but if nothing else for purely selfish grounds, I'd like to have access to regular live play.

Say, anyone know of any good 1-2 or 2-5 home games in New York or Jersey City/Hoboken looking for a new fish?
See the flop...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Roller coaster

Down and up night at the club.

I sat down with 300 at what seemed to be a good table in a reasonably good position: I was in seat 9, rocky old guy in 10, unknown in 1, KATM's childhood friend Steve whom I'd met last Thursday in 2, unknowns in 3 and 4, two tight-weak players in seats 5-6, aggressive criminal lawyer in 7 and unknown obligatory Asian player with sunglasses and spiky hair in 8.

Unfortunately, the way the first hand I was dealt went down it looked like it was going to be one of those nights. UTG I limped in with Q♦ J♦, with 3 other limpers including Steve with about 180 behind, seat 5, seat 7 and the big blind along for the ride. The flop was three pretty little diamonds. Steve opened for 10 and only seat 7 called. I called too. I was worried a bit about A♦ or K♦ being out there, but figured a slow play was in order--if someone was showing strength AND a fourth ♦ appeared, I could consider laying down but I wanted to try and extract some value first.

Turn was a 10♣, which in a stretch could have completed a straight draw. I checked again and Steve bet 50. Seat 7 folded and I pushed feeling like I had a reasonable chance of getting called for 120 more and even if not, a decent 90 pot worth taking down on the turn. Steve called alright, with A♦ 2♦.


I played at that table for a little longer when a familiar face walked in: Eiki of Eiki and Scott. Fairly soon, a second table had been set up and they were seeking a volunteer to move, offering 7 points in the club's loyalty freeroll system. A whore for points and not feeling so spectacular about the table anymore, I hopped up and moved. This table had Eiki two seats on my left, not so great since he is pretty aggressive but potentially good since he never believes I have a hand and a few unfamiliar faces, including the same guy upon whose kings I sucked out on Thursday with suited 67, and Owen, a decent player and fellow Sox fan who I am fairly sure at this point has close to no respect for my game (recurring theme here?).

Well I am not sure my play improved my reputation very much but after dropping a little more, in a few big hands I did recover my entire buy-in and got up with a small profit. I am not convinced I played particularly well but I got lucky--in one case very lucky--where I needed to be.

Notable hands:
1. Limped in in LP after straddle and 2 callers with A♣5♣ . Eiki on button, BB and straddler limped/called as well. Flop was A 10 rag, two hearts. Figuring my ace was probably if not surely good when checked to me, I made it 15 to go. Eiki called me and everyone else folded. Turn was a off-suit jack and I led out 50. Eiki called again. River was a blank and I checked. Eiki then put in 150. I was not happy at all. He either had flopped a low set or two pair, or was bluffing with a busted flush draw. I just did not see a bigger ace here. I laid it down, feeling that I misplayed this hand. . Later Eiki claimed he had monster, though I'm not sure I believe him. Comments welcome

2. Following an UTG limp, I, with about 240 behind, limped myself 2nd UTG with 6♥5♥, one of my favorite hands. 3 fellow limpers to Owen in the small blind, who made it 15 to go. Folded to me, and putting Owen on a high pair, I called, thinking that as he had me covered, he had enough money to warrant seeing a flop. One caller behind, and the flop was K♦6♦5♦.

Experiencing a brief brain freeze, I tapped the table to check. Owen was somehow peeved at this as he was supposed to have been first to act and bet 20. I knew that a raise here was likely to give away my strength of my hand since it would have been fairly clear I was planning a check raise, but I really didn't want a caller here as my hand was very vulnerable to any diamond and only slightly ahead, or so I thought at the time, of an overpair with a diamond. So I bet 100. The guy after me folded and Owen first cursed, then went all in. His curse let me know I was probably not facing a set or a flush. I thought I was ahead of any other hand. As it turns out, while I'm killed by KK or 66 and maimed by 55 or a higher flush, I'm still a very slight dog against any overpair with a diamond and only a clear favorite against an overpair without a diamond or an unpaired diamond. At any rate, I was well priced in as long as he did not have a set or a flush. In fact he had the queens with the diamond and I won the coin toss.

Furious, he got up and left, complaining that he knew I had 56 because I "always play shit like that". Guilty as charged.

3. In the cutoff with 4 limpers (the table was like this) and 420 or so behind, I limped as well with J♥9♥. Six people saw the flop, which was jack hi with two clubs. Big blind opened for 15, and I put him most likely on middle pair or a weaker jack, with a small chance he had hit a low set (theory being he would have probably bet preflop with a stronger holding). Suck-out victim from Thursday (mentioned above) called behind with 69 more behind. I put him on a flush draw (figure a jack raises here to find out where he is). Thinking I might have the best hand and wanting flush draws to pay for the privilege (also thinking I might be able to force out a slightly stronger jack) I made it 50 to go. First player folded (later telling me he had had JTo) and victim, after a pause, pushed in his remaining stack. Figuring he almost certainly had a flush draw that wanted to see 2 cards, I called the 34 raise. Unhappy I was to see he had smooth called the initial bet with KJo. Happy I was to spike a 9 on the river. One of these days, he is owed a major suckout against me.

4. Hand that I'm most glad I did not play:
When you get up at this club at a dealer push, as long as there are no players waiting to get in, you have the option to play through to your button without paying time, though if you win any pot, you must pay time. Push came exactly when the button came to me, so I took the free hand. 6 limpers to me and I had A3o. I hate that hand, even with the button as you really can only win a lot a money with it if you flop two or maybe a straight, and you can lose a lot if you just hit your ace. So even with those pot odds, with 515 behind, I folded. Flop came 245 rainbow. Ugh. Action on every street as two players got all in by the river, the board not having paired or suited up.

It seems that one of the fish had decided to limp in EP with 36 offsuit. He had started the hand with more than 400 behind. That would have hurt! Note to self: continue folding weak unsuited aces.
See the flop...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Tables Turned

Certain people have told me they aren't particularly enamored with my bad beat and cooler stories. I know, nobody really cares. I do try and tell them with a little flair, but I hear you nonetheless. Thus, I'm not going to go through some of the more painful moments of the last few weeks online. It's been a very poor run.

I am going to tell you however about a couple of bad beats I laid on other people last night in the Thursday 100+10 at the club. There is something truly cathartic about flipping one of those back, especially when you've been on the wrong end a lot in recent memory.

I was supposed to meet the Korean ATM in time for both of us to join the tourney, but characteristic of his continued indentured servitude at Big Firm, he did not make the tourney. He did show up later and played the cash game, learning the valuable lesson: do not try the old "this little 70 raise into a 150 pot is intended look like a value bet and thus scare you into submission notwithstanding the fact there are 5 overcards on the board to my 23 (sooted!)" against a little old lady with top pair, second best kicker and a giant stack. He was helpful in Koreatown later, when something he said to the waiter in resulted in a tasty plate and large beer being served to yours truly--my guess as to the translation: "please bring the dumbass white boy some dumplings and a 40."

Anyhoo, we had 27 players in the tournament, a mix of familiar and unfamiliar faces. Structure is not quite as good as the 250+25 Sunday, but not at all bad (especially considering the very generous +10 juice, almost as good as online), 2000 chips with 25-25 starting blinds and 20 minute levels. I played through my first table for awhile under my buyin, making a good jump when I caught the button's AT on an all-in steal against my big slick in the big blind.

I got a bluff snapped off just before we consolidated to a final table and landed there with 3000, the second smallest stack. Only top 3 paid, and with the blinds at 200-400, I had an M at 5 and knew I had steal some blinds or double up soon or blind out with a whimper. I also got the feeling I did not have the luxury of waiting for cards--at this point after two hours I had been deal a pair (5s) exactly once.

My first chance came UTG with A9 and I pushed. Unfortunately, the button, with about 5500, found a hand to call me with, measly little kings. I can't really say I felt guilty when the ace hit.

Back in the thick of it, I noted that the table was pretty passive and moved to steal the blinds a few times. Going a bit further, when a medium stack attempted to limp UTG, I felt my 67 clubs(sooted!) was a good hand to make a move, so I raised the 400 up to 1500. It did not feel good when a late position shortstack went all in over the top with his 2100. Folded around to me facing 600 more to win 4600 (2100+1500+400+400+200), I sheepishly called knowing that as embarrassing as flipping my cards over would be, I had pot odds on pretty much any hand I could be facing, including the king of clubs and king of spades he actually had.

The flop was 767.

Take me down to the suck out city where the cards are mean and beats are shitty!

Next hand I actually got in preflop with the best of it against two all-in short stacks, and really built a nice stack when my sevens flopped the top set.

At one point I was up over 16k with only 54k on the table. We played on with six players for awhile and I had been nicked down to about 12k when someone proposed a six-way split deal. Me and the other two big stacks where not having it even, so we did a chip count offered to chop 5 cents on the dollars (remember 100 bought 2000 tournament chips)--I would have gotten about 600.

The small stack on my immediate right and on the button, would have taken 135, but he started dickering with 1700 chips and 300-600 blinds and DK'd the deal. When he was under the gun 3 hands later, he proposed to have a deal then, which really pissed off another player who was having none of that. IMNSHO, I agree that's a bullshit move and I too was hoping he'd bust out. Granted, he has every right not to agree to a deal for any reason, but I think waiting for the blinds so blatantly is an etiquette breach.

Justice was not there however, as two more orbits saw almost 5000 of my chips and half the angry guy's stack slide over to yet another player while the short stack doubled up. A deal was proposed again, with the short stack, now up to 260, holding-out for 40 more. I was down to 360 and was tempted to kebotch it on principle but restrained myself as the deal was happening while I was UTG, and with 500-1000 50 blinds and antes, I was not positioned to be the hold out (I don't think this is inconsistent--it's one thing to consider your position in holding out, even asking for a sweetener, another to refuse solely on those grounds because if everyone did that, no deal would ever be possible).

Looking forward to the blogger tourney on Sunday, and may even try to hit the 10+1 Wil Wheaton private tourney on Stars this evening for shits and giggles. It's a blogger tourney but open to anyone with the password (monkey).
See the flop...

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Broadway Busted

Someone has been running colder than me.

Broadway club was busted Friday night. This place, which was where I landed briefly after I stopped playing at Aquarium, seemed to think the Playstation/NYPC busts had never happenned. They were running 10-12 tables and had the highest profile in New York, including the lion's share of the old Playstation players. I am sorry the stormtroopers have gotten another victim, but I am not surprised.

New York live poker is being pushed underground, more vulnerable to robbery, crime and corruption than it has been when semi-tolerated. It sucks but there is nothing we can do about it except change the law. I am not holding my breath.
See the flop...

Monday, October 10, 2005

I Was Told There'd Be Moments Like These

An experienced player once told me that if you play long enough, you'll see pretty much everything, and if you play even longer, pretty much everything will happen to you.

Yesterday, after busting out of the weekly 250+25 with KK going down to AA, which has happened to almost anyone who has played, I found myself in a cash game with the same hand and a more unusual fate.

The table was loose and aggressive, not what I am used to seeing at the club I've been playing at lately, and there were a number of questionable players and a good amount of chips spread about. I had been playing fairly tight, slowly rebuilding my stack to just over 400 (I was in for 500) after making a fairly foolish stand on my first hand as JT lost to QT.

At any rate, the fateful hand occurred as the player under the gun, two seats to my right, opened the pot to 12. This was a standard raise for the table and from this guy meant pretty much of anything. He had 158 exactly, and had re-bought a number of plays after showing a tendency to make quite poor calls. I was pretty happy after 2nd UTG folded to me and I found those cowboys peeking back up at me.

Question was, how to get heads up against this guy and get some money in the pot. I was afraid an overbet might scare him out but also afraid too small a bet would see multiple callers behind. I made it 30, hoping to bank on my tight play discouraging additional customers. The number was right as it folded around to my mark, who simply called.

The flop came JJ4 rainbow. This was not perfect as a jack was in several of the range of hands this gent would play, but certainly better than the ace I had really been worried about.

I wanted to get all his chips in the pot but also to avoid giving him cheap cards, so I made it 50 to go. In character, he called behind.

At this point, I gave a brief thought to the possibility he might be slowplaying a jack, but I consoled myself that if that was were we were at, I really couldn't do much about it as I did not have a hand I could back off of on an aceless board given his stack size.

My worries dissolved when the turn filled me up with a beautiful king. Again he checked. Thinking that an all-in bet was likely to get called as looking scared, I pushed. I was right. Oh was I right.

He got me with a fishhook in each eye.

The only way I get away from this hand would have been if a butterfly's wings in China had slowly lifted a speck of dust up into the stratosphere, to be carried around the globe until setting down in air intake of the building, through the ducts and into his nasal membrane at just the moment I was reaching for chips, inducing a massive sneeze and flipping those damned Jacks up in front of me. It didn't happen that way, and the case king didn't fall on the river either.
See the flop...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Ramble on, Boston sports post

I haven't put anything up in more than I week. I apologize to all six of my avid readers.

OK, I hope there a few more than that.

Anyway, I have not posted for several reasons. First, work has been particularly busy. It's not so much that it does not leave hours in the day as that it saps the bank of mental energy I have for poker and this blog, and what I have left has been going to poker over the blog.

Second, you might think that for a guy who calls himself SoxLover, I don't write much about the Sox on this page. Well, those that know me know that I think an awful lot about them and certainly talk an awful about them. And the Patriots. Without quite meaning it to then, this post has become a Boston sports post.

Well within the Sport Guy's five-year grace period for championships, I recognize I have absolutely no reason to complain about the way my teams have fizzled (Sox) or are fizzling (Pats). So this is not a complaint, merely a recognition that one can get spoiled by success. Fans in New York that cheer for that team other than the Mets don't know how deeply they suffer from this syndrome--and don't give me that shit about growing up in the "bad old times" in the eighties. The dead Yankee era lasted from 1979-1996, that's 17 years. The Chicago White Sox did not win a post-season series for 87 years. Your team wins 4 series in 5 years and you begin to feel disappointed when they do anything but win a championship. That's the boat I've found myself in with the Pats, although not quite with the Sox.

Anyway, the teams also have been taking up my time and my energy. I will say it, however, though my Yankee loving friends (it's a deep personality dysfuntion, the fact that I am willing to get past it speaks to the strength of their character and other qualities) won't believe it, it really doesn't hurt that much this year.

Yes they had one of their patented September collapses. Yes they went out in a three game whimper and saw the other guys spraying champagne all around Fenway. But though I did not enjoy it, it came nowhere near the soul-crushing catatonia-inducing agony that certain past events brought. I mean, at age 13 on one fateful October night, I lay stricken, literally on my back, with the TV going on in the background as my father sped home to make sure I didn't make an additional tragic headline in the Globe the next day. Sports innocence broken like [insert extremely politically incorrect reference withheld here in unexpected expression of discretion], I built up a hard armor, promising myself I'd never care that much again about any sports team.

Deep down, I knew better. One hint should have been the tears the flowed when one South Dakotan with ice in his blood split the uprights from 51 yards in the proud and now benighted city of New Orleans.

The Pats gave a counter-argument to the sneering Yankee fans I so unwisely had surrounded myself with (well, not much demand for derivatives lawyers in Boston), and of course allowed ample anti-Philly taunting material against the Korean ATM.

As good as pure morphine, that first Lombardi trophy brought deep joy. But underneath the euphoria, the pain remained. Pats' championships, like those of the Celtics and Bruins before them, could not truly mend the broken heart that beat for the Sox. As with all love, Boston's love for its teams is not guided by justice.

It all came crashing back as I lay on the floor face up once again, 30 going on 13, wanting it all not to be happening again, knowing it could never be any other way. Yeah sure Charlie Brown, THIS time Lucy won't move the ball.

At least this time I was fortunate enough to have my consoling wife, whose care, having grown up in country with real tragedies involving tyrants and bullets of the kind you don't want dealt to you, was focused solely on my psychological state rather than on why oh why did Grady-fucking-Little leave him in there?!

And then they did it. No long prose here. Nothing but pure release. Once in eighty-six years, yep, a piddling one against 26 (26 to 6 but who's counting), say what you will, I'll take it.

And so did it suck this year when we got chased down by the Yanks in a classic Sox September swoon? Of course it did. And when the White Sox started writing their own redemption chapter on our sorry hides. Yeah that sucked too. But you know what, it will never suck the way it did again. It's another season ended in futility. But it's another season ended in futility after a season ended in catharsis.

Will I feel that way if I have to wait another 86 years with my talking head preserved Futurama-style? You bet I will.

And I'm not done with baseball--I have a least one more game to cheer against the Bombers.
See the flop...