Sunday, May 28, 2006

Off the Hook Poker and Hustling Grammar

I have a lot of material I could write about, but last night really warrants most of the attention.

So quickly to get up to date before last night, I never wrote up Foxwoods from a week before: several hours, went well then poorly; made a few good plays and made two large mistakes that in the end made the difference between a medium win versus a medium loss.

I had a home game on Friday night, with Weak Player and Weak Wife up for the weekend from Atlanta, Garthmeister, Jordan out from the city, Dawn from Brooklyn as well as Alceste (who is a neighbor here in Jersey) and F-Nemesis, a ghost from F-Train’s poker past.

I started the tourney well, stacking Dawn, but ended up being busted by Jordan-back-from-the-dead whom I could not out-race coming or going. I got creamed with the hammer in our cash game by Jordan again, KATM showed up super late after a last Friday-night dish of Partner Doo Associate at his soon to be former firm. SoxWife managed to take down the 5 person freezeout to book a small win for the evening (busting me heads up in the process, which made the night a big win for her in the home bragging arena). KATM and I played into the wee, wee hours heads up as I myself won back to even (KATM to Sox: “Why do you keep pushing all-in on my probe bets?” Sox to KATM: “Because your probe bets are full of shit.” Sox to KATMwife at 5:30 a.m. on KATM cell phone: “Your husband is an action junkie.” KATMwife to Sox, in a wistful tone: “I know. I know.”)

Oh, and I dropped a massive two out suck-out on F-Nemesis (a/k/a Scott) when he flopped a set under my QQ which also was necessary for my even finish. Sorry Scott--good to see you--and thanks for the Scotch, which is nearly kilt (rimshot!)

Anyway, so about last night.

First the Weaks and the Soxes went to my favorite restaraunt in the world. Kaiseiki is the way to go--guaranteed you will be fed wonderful dishes you didn't even know existed--3 new ways of eating Toro, pine-nut crusted asparagus spears (which cannot be described), Kobe beef carpaccio, it was a blur of Japanese fusion: the wives counted 15 courses. It kept coming and coming, spectacular. Finally when it seemed that we were just a wafer thin mint away from a serious problem, they came out with the dessert tray. Or at least, that's what we thought it was because it had 6 different types of ice cream and sorbet, 3 types of cake, fresh fruit au natural and dipped in chocolate, dark chocolate fudge, and more.

Then they put the whole thing on our table. OMFG!

So there we were, in New York city at 10:30 stuffed to the freaking gills. What to do?

Poker anyone?

So, Weak and I took off to one never to be disclosed location that I had heard about but never been to. Very small, no frills (polite way of saying something worse), reputation of psychotic action. I had never been but had been told the floor was someone I knew pretty well, which proved to be true and we got in.

Not having a shot to go the ATM, I bought in a short 250 off of Weak's roll. Four hands in, a nice young man with a certain savoir faire managed to benefit from my overplaying AJ off a cliff and I was off to the ATM. Actually, he was not a nice young man, he was a fooking tool of epic proportions. Talking smack like a gangster (later line in the night “who here would like an imprint of my NYU ring in their forehead?”), raising a lot of pots and making sure that we all knew we were fish swimming with a shark. I have to admit, he had me at hello—and by had me at hello I mean he had me wanting to see him stacked multiple times.

So having rebought in for the pre-midnight table max of 500 (bumped to 1000 for a 1-2 game after midnight), I was not in a good mood. Sunshine kept raising any pot with limpers, regardless of his position. It was not good play but anger, not a good thing but it’s there, that caused me to take a shot at him. Four limpers to his small blind, he made it 20 to go. He had been doing this a lot, and after my walk of shame, I had not been playing a lot of hands so when I looked down and saw snowman-taterleg, I took it as a sign.

“Raise to 60.”

It quickly folded around to Sunshine, who looked at me with menace. “Kings?” “Slick?” “I call.”

Flop came Ten Six Trey with two hearts. He paused, looking again at me. “Check.”

“120”, said Sox.

“You got kings. I fold.” Flipped over his pocket eights.

“Not quite kings,” I said, flipping over my rags.


“I don’t, I’m not very good at this.”

He gets up from the table for a smoke outside. I know I just got in a stupid pissing match and am a little embarrassed for myself. “Sorry about that,” I say to the table sheepishly.

The chorus then chimes in: “no thank you man that was awesome!” Table verdict rendered, further justice to be meted.

Can you say massive tilt?

He is back, raising every pot, glaring at me each time. “You gonna raise that?” “Nope, not this time, can’t beat 8-3 this time.” Again. “How bout now?” “Sorry, I need to build back my image first.”

And he starts hemorrhaging chips. From the 800 or so he had when he stacked me, first he was down to 500 or so. Then he got picked off by another “fish” down to 300. Finally, Weak limps under the gun and gets raised by a non-descript on his left. It gets around to Sunshine, who decides to push in his last 275 or so. Weak thinks for a bit, confirms his read on the initial raiser (he thought he’d fold) and calls. Raiser folds as predicted, and Weak flips over suited slick and takes down a massive pot when the king hits on the turn. Sunshine goes ballistic, showing a six and not the other card. “How could you fucking call that? You can’t call with that?!” Weak’s answer, “how could you raise with that?”

Sunshine stormed off to make his first of several ATM trips of his own, returning.

Then Nigerian psycho sits on my left with a short 200 buy and my seat is pretty awful. He is in three of every four pots, raising half the time preflop and pushing when he hits anything. It works as within one dealer push, he’s up over 1,000. Never mind, he’s back down to 500 within two orbits, but the guy is action, and the table is rocking. He and Sunshine duke it out a few times, I’m the monkey in the middle. I have managed to win a few pots in the margins, but basically I’m at midcourt watching a tennis game.

I did get into one big hand where for the second time in my life I misread my hole cards. Cost me about 200 as fortunately the calling station whom I lured to the river with my “nuts” against his weak paired ace was, not surprisingly, short stacked. Major embarrassing moment. So I found myself stuck as much as 500, but did climb back up to about 400 down. I was pretty unhappy and considering calling it a night, but wasn’t sure I wanted to pull Weak off his seat as he was cruising along.

Then it got easy when the Grammarian showed, name to be explained at the end.

The Grammarian wanted to play immediately but was stymied by the four person wait list (the floor didn’t want to start a game with only four because he was afraid it would immediately break). So he tossed three greens ($75) in the middle of the table and offered to buy a seat. As soon as I realized what was on offer, I grabbed the chips and sold him what I figured was the worst seat in greater New York. I understand he lost his first 500 in 3 hands and rebought for 1,000. Clearly, he was a man for whom money was not a primary consideration.

Funny enough, we got the other table going fifteen minutes later when Weak volunteered to come over and join us. I took my sale proceeds and played normal poker as this five person was a night-and-day contrast featuring few flops. We then got a sixth player, an old man who sat to my right.

We played along and I was actually able to steal a few pots against 3 other real stacks and 2 very short buys (100). I noticed one of the deep stacks seemed to be seeking to get in pots only with the other deep stacks. Clearly looking to “play poker”. So when he was in the small blind and three people limped to my cutoff, I made I think a potentially significant error when I overbet the pot at 25 with Hilton Sisters. I just hate that hand and hope some day to learn to play it. He looked at me and said he had to call me to see what was worth a 25 bet. Not sure what, but I had a bad feeling he was looking to trap my overpair—which is why I don’t like my play because I fear it gave away my holding.

Flop came 6-T-Q all spades. Ok, I hope he was set mining, but I am not overjoyed with the flop as this may be a giant pot and the sisters like to kick me in the junk with gusto. If he flopped a flush, God hates me, if he flopped a flush draw, I’m not sure what to do. He, looking quite alert, checked. I made another non-textbook move and checked behind.

Turn came the ace of clubs. That was maybe a good card. He bet out 25 and I made it 100. At that point he called me and I figured he had the ace of spades. My pulse was topping 170 I think.

The river came a red eight, failing to fulfill my ardent desire for the board to pair but at least not four flushing me. He immediately pushed. Whaa?

Okay, potential scenarios:

1. I was beat: against a flopped flush, set of aces, KJ or garbage straight. I ruled out the aces, but the straight was real cause for concern. Still, I was having some trouble believing he would have played a 3 spade board so slowly with a turned straight, or a gut shot at all on the turn.

2. He could also have a lower set or a two-pair. Seemed to me that his river bet would be insane with these since he had so much check value here

3. Or my read could be right and he could have had the ace of spades and was bluffing with a busted draw.

I was going to lose it all if he had 1 and unstuck myself with 2 or 3. I can’t honestly say I would have folded to a smaller bet, but the push was fishy. I called and he showed the ace of spades, seven of diamonds, and for some reason berated me a bit. Favorite quote: “if you had bet on the flop, I wasn’t going anywhere with the nut draw.”

If that were true, I guess I extracted probably the maximum value for the hand. Well obviously, but I mean that playing it normally might not have got me paid off. If I bet say 50 on the flop, he had called, turned aces and I were to bet pot again to price out the flush, the best I could have done is induce a stupid call on the turn and maybe another on the river. Had I bet more than 50, maybe I would have taken down a small pot, maybe not. I’ll admit that in my gut I am not 100% happy with how I played the hand, but I am not sure if I am right or wrong. Obviously, I liked the outcome. Oh, one more thing: can you believe my Queens didn’t get cracked?

Finally, the icing on the cake, the wafer thin mint at the end if you will. The Grammarian kept popping over to our table to chat with the short stack on my left. He heard me speak and suddenly asked me if I wanted to take a grammar test.


He sprang back to his table and grabbed four red chips, putting them in front of me.

“I’m not betting on grammar.”

“No problem, you don’t have to bet, first one to get this right I’ll give them 20.”

Sox knows a good overlay when he sees one. “Shoot!”

“What’s the difference between ‘that’ and ‘which’?”

Easy insta-call: “‘That’ is definite, ‘which’ is indefinite.” My redbirds.

Looking slightly surprised, he ran back to his table and grabbed two green chips ($50). He set them down before him.

“Please correct this sentence. ‘Women having the right to vote threatens men’s superiority.’”

Sox ponders.

“Women’s having the right to vote threatens men’s superiority.”

Booyah! My chips.

The Grammarian ran back and grabbed some more chips. Here I made my one –EV grammar move when I failed to notice his hand was still over them.

“I saw John in the street, whom I knew to be ____. He or him? This one you also have to tell me why.”

Sox ponders.


“Really, why not he? Isn’t ‘to be’ generally completed with ‘he’?”

“Him relates to the subject of the second clause, ‘whom’. ‘Whom’ is in the objective case. The ‘to be’ links the two, and therefore it needs to be ‘him’, also in the objective case, rather than ‘he’, which would be in the subjective case and therefore incorrect. Where’s my money?”

He looked down and saw his hand was over the chips. “I forgot to put them out. You’ve already won enough from me.”

Doh! I couldn’t really argue with the guy so I had to make do with 70. Who says grammar is unimportant? You never know when someone will pay you cash money to be a nerd. How sweet is that?


At Sun May 28, 04:18:00 PM 2006, Blogger DP said...

Playing it slow is fine since it reduces variance by controlling pot size and induces them to bluff since you disguise the strength of your hand.

The only caveat is that you must be willing to fold if a spade hits on the turn or river, but that's not a very difficult thing to do.

At Mon May 29, 04:32:00 AM 2006, Blogger Poker Jones said...

Screw the Monday morning quarterbacking. You won the pot and more than enough material for a hilarious post.

At Tue May 30, 01:57:00 PM 2006, Blogger Garthmeister J. said...

And I bring you... the Grammar Nazi!

Nice that the Grammarian actually gave you $145 in all, including his "purchase" of your seat. Nice indeed.

At Thu Jun 01, 01:20:00 PM 2006, Blogger Karol said...

Hahahaha. Awesome post. I like the Grammarian, he's a Baron you know. I can't stand Sunshine. Like being a dick isn't enough, he's an annoying dick.


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