Thursday, February 22, 2007

Back to Bricks and Mortar

I was just posting how little live play I'd had recently. That changed in a big way starting last Saturday with my home game. On top of that, since then, I hit a new club on Sunday and played in the Crackhouse game last night. I am supposed to take a business acquaintance of mine to that club tonight [UPDATE: based on apparently false rumor of this club's demise, our plans got cancelled], and will be hitting Kid Dynamite's home game this Saturday. So from playing live exactly once in 2007 until last Saturday, I will have played 5 times in 8 days, 3 times for significant stakes.

For the first 3 of these sessions played so far--knock on wood--I am up all 3, with the "real" stakes club session being by far the biggest win. At my home game, I won 2.5 or so buyins, at the club, 1.5, and at the Crackouse, 1 buyin. Let's hope this is not a trend line.

I wanted to get this post in quickly so that I could write up a few of the interesting hands, particularly from the club session, before the new sessions start to fog the details.

My home game was in honor of Weak Player and his wife's visit for the weekend. It was a nice turnout: on top of me, SoxWife, Weak and WeakWife, we had Red-headed step child (30-60 Triple Draw player Alceste from the WWDN and the Crackhouse game), enjoying the luxury of a cross-town game rather than the usual slog to Brooklyn, SoxWife's friend Christine a/k/a "Irish" for reasons obvious enough when you hear her speak, who occasionally plays the WWDN as Cailin Deas, Scott (a/k/a "F-Nemesis"), Jordan and Jordan's friend Matt. This was sort of a "lawyer's game" with six players that are lawyers, law students or law academics.

We started off playing NL with Crackhouse blinds (0.25-0.25) but relatively deeper stacks with $50 buyins. Jordan jumped way out of character and started talking smack within the first five minutes:

Irish "I don't know why everyone thinks we’re bad at math because we’re lawyers."

Jordan, sitting on Irish's right, "I don't think you’re bad at math because you're a lawyer, I think you're bad at math because you're a woman."


Fast forward, Irish returns to the table to find Jordan rebuying: "You lost all your chips while I was out of the room? I'm sorry I missed it!"


Not so many very interesting hands for me on Saturday. One hand I somehow managed to take down a $30 pot with third pair sniffing out a $15 river bluff from Matt. I actually stopped, thought it through, and managed to narrow down his holdings to a massively ahead overbet for value and vapor. Having seen him pull just few too many moves (with mostly success), I bit my lip and called his ten high.

As he wrote about already, in a hand of double-board, pot limit holdem, Jordan was also kind enough to chase three pots sized with the hammer with bottom pair on one board and nothing on the other against my cowboys.

A few other pots here and there, and all in all I had a "big" night. Everyone else seemed to have had a good time too.

On Sunday, I asked Weak if he wanted to play poker in the city. Answer, "duh".

So after taking the ladies to a restaurant on Weak's Must Do in New York Sometime This Life (which was pretty damn good btw), Weak and I hoofed it through the freezing cold to a new club I'd been getting e-mail on. Very nice new place (people I don't know, please don't bother e-mailing me asking for info on it), with very good security and a nice range of limits.

Weak and I hit the 2-5 tables, which had a max buyin of 600. As is sometimes my practice when sitting at a new table with all unknowns, I initially bought in a little short for 400. I started out pretty tight until after about two orbits, I decided to test my image and mix it up when it got to me in late middle position with one limper to my immediate right and I had Q9d. I popped it up to 25. I got the button calling behind as well as one of the blinds but lost the limper.

Flop came a useless Jack high with only one diamond. It was checked to me and I checked behind. Button at this point bet out 50 and we lost the blind. With a quick bout of FPS, I decided I wasn't done with hand so I floated with the intent of looking for an opportunity to take it down on a later street, representing two overs or a slowplayed overpair. The turn was a lovely ace, and I figured a nice 75 bet had a very good chance of getting a Jack to fold.

Instead, he pushed. Doh.

I didn't really waste time Hollywooding and folded. Button turned over AJ. Nice timing Sox!

This was not a table for FPS.

20 minutes in and down to 250, I decided I needed more chips. Despite my "unfortunate" (read: boneheaded) play, I was getting at least some read on the table, and that read told me this was a table you wanted to have as much in front of you as possible because getting paid off would probably not be your biggest problem. So I chipped up 3 Benjamins and also took advantage of an open seat to improve my relative position vis-à-vis the biggest stack (the same guy that I had bluffed into).

I then battened down the hatches and waited. Opportunity came when I was third limper with pocket 4s, with one more caller to the big blind, who made it 25 to go with 650 or so behind. He lost exactly nobody, and the flop came out a beautiful A94 rainbow. The big blind bet out 75 and it folded to me. I considered slow playing for a moment but decided that wouldn't be the best way of getting as many chips as possible into the middle. I then considered a large bet versus a small bet. Either way I thought I was very likely to get heads up unless another limper had caught a cooler over me, so the blind was 95% of my focus.

I didn't have much of a read on him but hoped he had flopped TPTK or the like and would have trouble getting off it. I figured under these circumstances, a min raise might best wed him to the pot or induce a reraise. So I made 150 to go, it folded around to him and he smooth called. With that move, I certainly had to ask myself if I was facing aces, but after a few moments of reflection I answered that if that were the case, I was just going to have to get felted. At any rate, assuming he had the hand I hoped he had, with 425 in the pot, I was almost there in terms of tying the anchor to his foot. Turn was a harmless brick seven, and he checked to me. I made it another 150 to go, figuring he'd have trouble laying down for that amount, and knowing if he called it, he'd be massively pot committed to call my last 225 on the river with 950 in the pot.

No fears on that accord as he pushed all in over the top. Well, at this point I was the one who was pot committed. Although I knew there was a significant chance I was beat, I didn't waste any time in deciding to call. I was thus quite relieved when, upon my call, he asked if I had A9. If he's worried about top two, I'm in pretty good shape. I had a brief scare when an ace hit the river which it suddenly occurred to me could have been a miracle card for a really sick hand like A4 or A7 (you never know), but his muck coupled with his question largely confirmed my AK read.

With 1150 in front of me, I suddenly felt a whole lot better about that first stupid bluff.

Shortly after this the BB busted out and the table, a must move feeder, ran short for awhile with 7 players until a new guy sat down in his seat. This guy bought in for 400 and looked, well, let's just say he had the generic NYC white guy thug thing going on reasonably well.

I think maybe his first or second hand at the table, we go in a confrontation that cost me an nice chunk of Sklansky dollars (but won me a bigger chunk of real dollars). It also presented a marginal decision situation where I think on the balance I liked my thought processes (insofar as I thought about the right things, query whether my conclusion was wrong) regardless of either how badly I got my money in or how much I liked the ultimate result. At any rate, I wouldn't mind some views from armchair quarterbacks.

Second under the gun folded to me, I looked down to AKs. I made it 25 to go (standard table opener was 20-30, I had tended toward 20). It folded around to the new dude, who was in the SB. He made it 75 to go and it quickly folded around to me leaving me with a dilemma. As I saw it, I had 3 options, raise, call or fold (duh!). I didn't want to be too hasty about any of them.

Folding is something I was just having trouble with given the fact I had so little information about the new player and at these clubs, the average schmoe is making this move with AQ+ and JJ or even TT+, though in retrospect I think there is a good argument that this may be have been the best of the 3 options.

I considered calling given that I had position. Still, that means I'm probably going to be losing 50 more 1/3 of the time that I miss the flop, and possibly much more if I hit it and am still behind.

So I considered raising, and, if so, how much. Main problem here is if I make any significant raise beyond a min raise, I am probably pot committed. So if I raise, does that mean I should push for maximum fold equity? I thought about that too and decided that was a bad move since a push might be interpreted as weak than a bet in the middle, even if the latter was probably pot committing me anyway. So I determined to bet like I had AA, which I figured was a 3rd raise 125 more. I knew if he pushed there I would probably be compelled to call getting 3:1 since I would have odds against every possible hand except aces, but was willing to take that downside against my belief that it maximized my chances of getting AK, TT-QQ to fold. So that's what I did.

He pushed. I called.

Flop was K high with one diamond (making it very likely that a call would have ended up with the same result). Turn came another diamond. River was another king.

He had aces of course.

Better to be lucky than good.

There was one other interesting hand afterward in which I made an unusual fold that I was going to write up and ask for thoughts, but upon further reflection, it really gives up more information to the players in KD’s home than I’d like to at this point should they happen to meander by. It was either an awful move or a breakthrough in my game. I’m hoping the latter.
See the flop...

Monday, February 19, 2007

(My) State of Internet Poker

Not claiming original thought here, but I'm joining the chorus of people beginning to think the online game is dying, or at least in middle stages of a debilitating degenerative disease. It's a slow asphyxiation kind of thing.

I had already taken several grand out of my online at the end of last year, leaving me with perhaps 3.5k online (spread around on Stars, Full Tilt, UTB and Neteller). Enough to be comfortable playing whatever tourney or cash game tickled my fancy (as long as I considered it part of the overall bankroll, including my live roll), but limited to an amount I felt I could afford to lose without breaking something valuable if anything dramatic happened.

When the Neteller news broke, I only had about a grand on there that I kept free for bonus opportunities. I figured it would be pretty tricky in the near future to get money onto the sites, so I rapidly transferred that onto Stars and Tilt, pretty much the only two sites I play at (I have since cashed the few hundred out of UTB). As most know, that seemed to be a at least for the short term a luckier move than trying transferring it back into cash--had I done so I suspect I'd be among the others waiting for it still. Thus I for one seem to have avoided direct damage from the fiasco--furthermore, I have never had near 10k in Neteller or online and have kept my own records and declared and paid taxes since I've started playing at all seriously because I've never felt it worth taking any risks in this department given my career choice.

On the other hand, this whole thing has put a severe crimp in my medium term poker plans. I have in the last six months played a LOT of non-hold 'em games, particularly triple draw, razz and stud 8. I have been running moderately well in these, with razz my best game (though with only 4,500 hands or so, it's far to soon to really know what I can sustain). That being said, I had seriously considered siphoning a respectable chunk of change into my online bankroll after my annual bonus hit my account to try and see if I could play regularly the 8-16 and 15-30 games of Razz that usually stay up on Tilt, and maybe even take a shot at the 30-60 TD on Stars.

At the same time, because of developments on the home front and the work front, I have been spending a lot less time in live games--last visit to a live club before last night (post later, preview: KA-CHING!) was November and last visit to a casino card room was Christmas Eve. I had played the Crackhouse game in odd circumstances ('nuff said) twice, and of course had my birthday game, and a home game this Saturday with WeakPlayer and WeakWife up for the WeakEnd (also to be posted about, hopefully first by Weak and Jordan). Thus, poker for me as of late has become mostly an online pursuit.

And yet current trends are such that I think I'll be as shortly as this year faced with a choice between recommitting to serious live play (which may be trickier and trickier given my other commitments) or no longer being a serious player.

The first signs of online asphyxiation I've seen personally has bee in in Stars TD. When they started spreading significant stakes tables, the games were insanely juicy. All sorts of yo yos were giving it a shot, many of them starting out at 5-10 and 10-20. After two months of a virtual feeding frenzy, the biggest TD fish are pretty much gone, not reloaded, finie. There is rarely a game spread between the stakes of 5-10 and 30-60. I don't think this is just because TD is a new game, I think it is because it is a game that separates big fishies from their money faster than most, where medium term results can actually convince someone they really do suck in a way that that doesn't happen quite so quickly in hold 'em. I do think it a canary in this coal mine.

So between signs that the very games I have been attacking are getting worse and a lingering concern that notwithstanding everyone's exhortations that money on the big sites is always safe because it's in segregated accounts (it was at Neteller too), any money there is subject to, let's just say, risk, I've decided not to go through the trouble of trying to put back in the money I had taken out last year plus some. I'm just going to stick with what I've got and enjoy the playing for it's own sake.

I will reevaluate as circumstances change.
See the flop...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Day Job

Has been very busy.

Playing a bit online, but late hours and a decimated team has required me to invest 100% of mental energy to work.

So my mind is more than usually attuned to reading things from a professional state of mind rather than a poker state of mind. So....I was reading an article in the Times about Eliot Spitzer, former attorney general and brand new Governor of New York, about some political controversy in appointing the new comptroller entrusted with investing the state's funds. It appears the legislature backed out of a deal to appoint someone selected by an expert panel and instead picked one of their own, pissing off the new Guv. Interesting part for me was this blurb:

Mr. Spitzer said that in recent days he had been asking lawmakers this question: “If Candidate X — take Tom — were approaching you and saying, ‘You know what? I’ve never done this before. Never invested a penny. Never made an asset allocation decision. Don’t know a swap from a derivative. But I’m setting up a money management firm tomorrow. I want your pension money to be my first investment. Will you give me your pension to start with?’ [Emphasis supplied]
Don't get me wrong, I like Spitzer, but this is retarded.

A swap is a derivative. It's like saying "don't know a square from a rectangle" or "don't know a royal flush from a straight flush".

I mean, I probably would want my comptroller to understand a swap from other kinds of derivatives, but a more natural statement would be "don't know a swap from a ipod". Or how about a funny, like "thinks a swap involves car keys and a 70's attitude?"

Sheesh, if you are going to give a statement showing an example of someone's ignorance of a topic, you'd think not highlighting your own ignorance would be a pretty high priority.

Of course, my guess is Spitzer didn't even say this, sounds like a bad quote from an ignorant reporter (fig leaf to avoid investigation).
See the flop...