Sunday, November 27, 2005

Shark Bait

Well there are bad poker nights and there are bad poker nights. Last night,I didn't lose money (I actually won a small amount). I did however lose my dignity.

Note to self: do not make side bets on $5 heads up matches unless you're willing to face the consequences in the morning. Note the new banner above--results of me getting bulldozed 2 of 3 by Veneno. Happy Veneno? FYI my wife is cracking on too, cackling something about Girl Power--thanks a lot.

In passing, I played two huge MTTs on stars yesterday, a 5+0.50 and a 10+1, cashing in both and playing past more than 2500 players in the two. For a net of 30. Best was 28th in the 10+1, sweated by the Poker Puffessor, Veneno and Weak Player. From that cash came 10% of the top to each of PP, Weak and Waffles.

Oh, Weak's blog is brand new, good luck with it man.
See the flop...

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Dynamite Game

I few weeks ago I wrote a post bemoaning the demise of the NYC club scene. FTrain called me chicken little and seems to have been right as the scene seems to be slowly reawakening in the aftermath of the F├╝hrerMayor's reelection.

At any rate I was genuinely concerned that I was not going to have a decent live game closer than a 2 hour drive down the Garden State Parkway. The low stakes home game I used to play in that had run over from law school typically featured 3-5-7 over hold'em and was not conducive to improving one's game. More to the point, the host recently relocated to California. So I began putting out feelers for a new game with buyins at or around the baby NL level spread in the clubs.

FTrain and the bloggers in New York that I know didn't seem know of such a game and hosting one is impractical for me since no one wants to make the trek under the Hudson (from the average New Yorker, you'd think New Jersey was across the Continental Divide). So I was quite happy to receive a comment to my post that with a little more effort yielded an invite to the legendary Kid Dynamite's home game.

Who the fuck is Kid Dynamite you ask?

(Well, at least that's what I asked.)

I think he can tell you about himself better than I can.

So I really had no idea exactly what I was getting into when he e-mailed me a West Village address. I told the Korean ATM and asked him if he were interested in checking out the game in his downtime from hitting 4700 hours at BigFirm--he painted an image of me locked in a closet with a choker in my mouth (Who's Zed? Zed's dead baby Zed's dead). I can't say I was quite that worried, but I did quickly doff my Red Sox hat at the door in case I was about to make a first impression on some Yankee nut.

No fears as he answered in a Red Sox cap and a Pats sweatshirt (I should have reread his blog on that account). Moreover, I knew him from Playstation days. Right up to Black Thursday, we probably played 20 or 30 hours together, including one hand that he kept mentioning to me everytime we met back then where he had called my preflop bet, flopped a straight flush, bet out and saw me fold (I think I had suited connectors).

Good news: less concern about waking up with my hands tied behind the back.

Bad news: this didn't look like it was going to be a fish pond.

Addtional good news: KD has a very nice pad, proper poker tables, and "Kid Dynamite" custom made chips complete with KK on the face (Kid Dynamite doesn't need rockets).

Game was to be 1-2PLHE 200 max buyin, but we only had 3 players to start, KD, Brett and myself so we started a warm up 1-2PL freeze out with 25 chips. That was the highlight of my session as I got very good 3-handed cards and managed to book a whopping 8 profit when Alex, our fourth player, arrived and we just converted our freeze out chips in front of us to regular chips.

Most memorable hand that I wasn't involved in: KD rereraises all-in over the top Greg/Gary (sorry names are foggy) for a pot of over 300. KD flips over AQ clubs and Greg/Gary King Kong. Flop is Q77. Turn is 7. River is 7. Ouch. Counterfeited by quads. That's got to hurt.

Session went from there, with JJ being the best preflop cards I got for the afternoon (took down small pot preflop). I did get to drop a fake hammer (suited) on Brett for a nice pot taken down on the turn, but generally met with little success as the table wised up to the fact that I was pushing with some dubious hands. Memorable hand of this vein:

Dealt J8 spades UTG, I made the standard opening (pot for 7) and got both blinds as callers (big blind was Greg/Gary). Flop was two spades with a king queen. Trying the old semi-bluff, I led out with 20. Lost the small blind but the big blind wasn't going anywhere--so much for Plan A. Plan B part 1 worked as he checked the blank turn to me, giving me the free card I wanted but part 2 failed as the river was an offsuit ace. I figured I'd try Plan C with a river "value bet" bluff of 30, figuring he's got to fold unless he has an ace there (can't put him on set or two pair here with the free cards he'd been giving me). Figured wrong, as after a long swim in the think tank he illustrated the definition of no respect: preflop UTG raise and continuation bet, AKQ board and called down with TT.

It's not always bad when the table comes to believe you never have the goods, but for this to help, you do need to starting getting some cards, and Mrs. SoxLover and waiting mother called me back to Jersey before this could happen. I'll just have to hope they'll remember my fishy play next time (well, reading this will probably help).

It was a fun time and a great place to spread a game, if not the highest EV table. Thanks KD, I hope to be back again.
See the flop...

Sunday, November 20, 2005


I am still in a bit a of shell shock from last week and have drastically reduced my playing time just to get my bearings. I've turned to other compulsive activities--namely Sid Meier's Civilization 4. The only thing it has going in the way of a bad beat is getting your best city taken in a surprise attack just after switching to Pacifism.

I did manage to achieve something in the poker realm however, coming in 3rd in Dr. Pauly's as of recently weekly blogger tourney's on Stars. I dinked and dodged for quite awhile, managing to avoid any really bad beats, getting a stack with a nice big blind special bottom two pair J9 that held up on a AJ9 board, winning a coin toss (AQ v jerge88's 88 (didn't catch that at the time)), getting the chip lead briefly by catching QQ versus JJ to double up against Boobie Lover taking a chip lead going into the final 3 busting out TraumaPoker with the timely appearance of aces after Waffles gave him the first kiss of death by predicting his victory.

With the chip lead again, it was 3 ways versus CJ of Up4Poker (who seems to have had a very good day) and a reader named Crossroads9. Waffles continued his voodoo magic and cursed Crossroads and me by predicting "anyone other than CJ".

CJ promptly doubled up against me with TT versus my 88, leaving each player with roughly equal stacks around 40k.

We dinked and dodged, nobody wanting to take a stand for awhile. I built up a bit of a lead again with 52K to 37k for Crossroads and 28k for CJ. Smelling a chance to eliminate the latter, I called an all in reraise with A7s. I got the coin toss I was hoping for against his 3s but they held up. That took a big chunk but I was no means out of it.

We played on and I finally busted out 3rd, getting my QTs all in against CJ's QJs. CJ then went on to keep the blogger pride and ensure Waffles maintains parity with Phil Gordon in his poker prediction doom giving.

I feel that each of the 3 final players played with proper aggression at the end at it was really a 3 way coin toss as to who won it. I would have loved to have had a better result, but I'll definitely take this.
See the flop...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

It Hoits! It Hoits!

FTrain if you don't want to read this, stop now, you're not obligated.

For the rest of you, if you are into Schadenfreude, you'll get a kick out of this.

I almost did not write this but I need to fight the tendency to only write when I'm running good.

Technically, these are not really bad beats for the most part, but rather coolers. I have a genuine desire for comments as to how I could have played these with less damage.

Lately (the last two months), my internet results have been piss poor. My live play has been better, with a tourney win, two cashes and a few decent nights on the cash table, but not stellar with a few small hits and one large loss. With the club scene shutting itself down in NYC, I've also been playing less (though it turns out FTrain may have been right so this may change).

So FTrain and I planned on a trip to AC, which became a more general blogger trip as the Rooster and "Dawn Summers" wanted some live action as well. In addition, we met Saturday at the tables with Jordan from High on Poker and Carter from Cuban Links.

First, on Friday Joaquin and I were the only ones of the New Yorkers who wanted to go down, so we headed out that evening, checked out the new poker room at Caesar's (not bad, surrounded by slots though) and the old one Bally's (fishy but full of smoke as it's the one room I've been to that allows it inside). I got bluffed out of a reasonable pot in NL at Caesar's, bad beat runner runner with flopped top pair trip Qs in a limit HE 3-6 (par for the course, not even complaining about that one) and treaded water at the 1-5 stud table (no antes!) as Joaquin enjoyed an exploding deck. Result for night: stuck about 175. Not pleasant but no big deal.

Back in the action Saturday morning after a stay at the chain-smoke motel (Trop poker rate rooms all taken), Joaquin encouraged me to start out with a fresh mind at what I consider to be my bread and butter casino game, 2-5 NL, rested and ready to go. We headed off to the Taj and I was immediately seated as Joaquin went off to play some limit.

I bought in for the full 500. When I sat down at about 11:30 here was the table:

Seat 1: Old guy who didn't get involved in any big hands that I saw with about 500.

Seat 2: Asian lady with about 3000 in chips in racks. Very chatty, seemed solid. I believe she had been there most of the night.

Seat 3: Table bitch. Oh, I mean me.

Seat 4: Younger guy with a short 150 stack who later admitted he had hoped to play 1-2 but found the wait too long and decided to take a shot at the next level despite not having a bankroll for it.

Seat 5: Non-descript relatively tight roughly 700 stack.

Seat 6: Tight aggressive middle aged white fat guy, 2000 stack, turned out to be Asian lady's boyfriend.

Seat 7. Gangsta look calling station with very pointed goatee and what I thought was a large rhinestone earring with about 600. According to Asian lady, the biggest donator she'd seen in awhile. He had bought in for 4,500 and later it was 6,000 so this may have been a diamond. Seat 7a (not playing) was seat 7's buddy who helped stack my chips for him when the time came.

Seat 8: ZZ Top look-a-like with about 500. Very loose, he stacked my chips by himself when the time came.

Seat 9: Non-descript, about 500.

The table play was not exactly WSOP: either 5 limpers or preflop raises (5-35) with 3-4 callers on pretty much every hand. I knew this was going to be a high variance situation, but felt like it was a spot to really make a killing (I was right).

Early hand got me nicely started when in cutoff following 4 limpers, I limped with J9 diamonds and the short stack button raised it to 25. Everyone called and the flop was 996 with two hearts. It check around to me and I could feel the button was going to raise. I checked and he made it 50 to me. It folded around to me and I pushed. He called with KQ hearts and my hand held up, leaving me with about 750 and the good feeling of had climbed out of the hole I had been in the previous night.

A few orbits later after the short stack had rebought in for 100 and built up again to about 150, first disaster. MP opens for 15 preflop, 5 callers to me on the button and I have presto (55) and call. SB calls and BB folds. Flop is Q75 with two spades. SB opens for 40, gangsta calls and the action folds around to me. I think that I am not sure what the SB has but I am probably ahead of him and definitely ahead of the gangsta, who I suspect is drawing to spades. I really want to get heads up with the small blind here, so I made it 200 on top, putting the SB all in and giving the donator the wrong odds to call for 1 card (thinking at the time: if I push here, he'll have the right odds to call knowing he'll get 2 cards if he calls my 200, if no spade hits I'll push and if a spade hits, I'll fold unless he gives me a cheap enough draw for the boat). Both players call. Turn is a 9 of diamonds. Gangsta checks and I push. River was non-spade blank holdings: SB QQ (yes he had cold called from SB with 6 callers behind) and gangsta had 68 offsuit. Result, lost 700 (I had him slightly covered). Analysis: I overlooked the straight draw but I am not sure how I play this differently. (Cold comfort: of course Gangsta, after he and his buddy proceeded to stack my chips for 3 minutes, shortly gave them away to others.)

Disaster #2 happened in the same dealer push. Rebought with 550 in front of me. Middle position folded to me, I have snowmen (88) and make it 25 to go. 4 cold callers, including ZZ Top in SB. Flop comes 478 rainbow. ZZ Top, who has me covered opens fire with 100. Wow. Am I about to be on the right side of set over set? Or is he on a draw? Just not sure but I'm not going anywhere so I call and we're heads up. Turn is a 3 and ZZ bets 200, instilling an ominous feeling though I'm sure that card didn't help him. I called again. River was an ace. Crap if he limped with AA, which as you see would have been possible at this table. He checked and so did I. His holding: 56 offsuit. My loss: 325. Analysis, I flopped top set against straight and did not lose my whole stack (he would have gotten paid if he put me in of course). In my mind this is good but boy did it hurt. Hurt so much I got up and played more tread-water 1-5 stud with Joaquin for a few hours until FTrain and Dawn arrived.

We moved on the Borgata to meet them and the other bloggers. FTrain kindly bought me a beer ("I know what it feels to be stuck like that") and Dawn a tap water (no daiquiris at Borgata). We got on the 2-5 and 1-2 lists. Given my shell shock, I really didn't want to play the former, but that's where the seats opened (Dawn and the Rooster sat at a 3-6L table). FTrain and sat down with massive stacks around us and thankfully 2 1-2 seats opened quickly for us so we moved to 2 new tables.

We shortly got to the same table and I played more or less defensively with an utter donk (and obnoxious racist) to my left, FTrain 2 seats further on and a bunch of others FTrain and Carter (who joined the table later) describe in their posts. Only hands of note were snapping off FTrain's (someone has to stand up to the 90 pound bully), bluffing a tight weak player off his top pair while his girlfriend sat behind him (some guys you can tell would hate to be seen making a stupid call with the fan club right there) and this one, just for those of you looking for a last sadistic kick:

In MP with fishhooks, I opened for 20, action folds around through FTrain's button (with a meaningful glance into my soul as he folded) to the big blind a young soon-to-be law student, who paused and looked at me with question in eyes before calling. Flop was a pretty good 99T but he opened for 25. I raised him to 50 and he called behind. Ok, what the hell does he have? Did he smooth call with AA, KK or QQ? A9 seems unlikely. TT perhaps. I do not feel good here, but I see the same action with AT, KT or even 88. Turn is a blank and he checks to me. Not liking this since I can't really tell if I'm ahead or behind, I check too. River is a king. This can't have been good for me and his 50 river bet didn't make me feel any better. Still, with 142 in the pot, I have to call. He had 99! (Derek: yeah quad 99s are good.)

I hope they grind him to glass as a 1L and then give him to me as outside bitch counsel three years later when he hits BigFirm.

I'm on a self-imposed poker hiatus for at least a few more days until my psyche recovers. Oh, I lost my prescription sunglasses too so I'll have to find a new way to intimidate Iggy and FTrain at the table.
See the flop...

Monday, November 07, 2005

The Pain of Mediocrity and Why I've forsworn AJ (yet again)

The desert continues: no live play in New York city. The last club I know of (the one I did not mention in my last post about closing clubs because hell, I thought I'd keep one quiet in my pocket) seems to have closed itself as well. Chicken Little, one of the nicer things FTrain has called me, or not--I'm jonesing for live play. His theory is that this will all blow over as soon as the mayoral elections run. I don't see it: it's just hard to believe that Bloomberg, who is way ahead of Ferrer (granted the source may be biased), thinks he needs that extra push from shutting down those dens of vice. I'll be very happy to be proved wrong.

So I was stuck this weekend playing blogger tourneys. Ok, that's not so bad, but I followed my normal course for blogger tourneys, up to a big stack, encounter a crippling beat, cooler or self-induced donkey moment, hang on by my finger nails, bust out in respectable mediocrity short of the money.

In the WWDN on Friday, I had a particularly meteoric rise to the first break, even meriting a brief note in Wil's live blog:

5:04 PM - At the break, we have 68 players left. The big stack is SoxLover
with 9000, the short stack is Daddy, with 575. Average is 2801. I have 2480.
Blinds will be 75/150 when we come back.

And then I ran into some Geek. Here, I'll him tell you in his own words:
Level V (75/150): Here's the big one. Donegal pushes all in for 1170 UTG.
SoxLover raises to 4200, and I wake up with KK. I push in for 5990 total, and
SoxLover calls the extra 1790. Donegal has A6s, SoxLover has QQ. One 6 comes out
on the flop, but no more help for anyone, and I take it down. Stack: 13375.

Iggy popped up on my IM asking what happened to my stack? King Kong happened to my stack. The Geek also put me out of misery:
Level V (75/150): I call a raise from SoxLover with 65s. Flop is 76J,
check-check. He bets the 4 turn, and I call. 6 on the river, and he pushes. I
call, and he shows K8s. I take it down and bust him. Stack: 16669.

I think I was out in about 58th or something. It was pretty meteoric. At least he put my chips to good use, taking the whole thing.

Next day in Dr. Pauly's tourney, I finished still out of the money but better at 32nd. Of course, I did that mostly because of a wicked suckout I laid on the Prof. I believe I smooth called a preflop bet with nothing but sailboats, got called behind by the prof. Flop was 33J, looking pretty ragged to me. Putting him on overs and figuring my pair was probably good if very vulnerable, I pushed. He called with AJ but a 4 spiked.

Finally in the Bill Rini's WBPT shoot out satellite, I finished I think 21st in a 40 or so player field. Learning one lesson and relearning another. Lesson learned: believe Drizz when he reraises me preflop. Lesson relearned: don't freaking stick with AJ when you face resistance. Once again I had built up a big stack, mostly by snapping off Otis a few times when I had cards. With that crappy hand MP, with about 4000 behind I open my standard pot raise, which I believe at time was about 150. Drizz I think on the button with about 3600 (I really should use the hand history here but I'm at work) made it 500 or so to go. Flop was J66. I don't see how I get away from this hand and since I'd been playing pretty aggressively, I figured (well the inner donkey figured) I might get called with a hand like TT. I pushed. I was called with a hand like QQ.

This displays exactly why hands like AJ should be lain down to that kind of raise (unless you're facing a maniac, and I didn't get the impression that Drizz is a maniac): when you hit, you're strong enough to be pretty damn committed but with a fairly large chance you are still behind. I mean, unless I put Drizz on a stone cold bluff, what do I think he has there? Either a bigger ace or AA-99. If it's a bigger ace, well, I hit my lucky flop and he's going to fold to my bet. If it's a pair, well, I'll get a call from all the hands that clearly beat me. Maybe a check raise all in is a better play, with some possible fold equity, but only if he bets small, and, who am I kidding, I play in such a way that people like to call those all in reraises (which is something I like). The answer here is to lay down that AJ preflop once raised.

SoxLover repeat to yourself: AJ no good AJ no good AJ no good.

Ignore the inner donkey.
See the flop...