"I must complain the poker cards are ill shuffled till I have a good hand."
I've been meaning to try to play my way into one of Party Poker's Quarter Million Guaranteed NLHE tournaments for quite some time, but a combination of schedule difficulties and forgetfulness conspired against me to prevent it. Yesterday, my schedule and memory finally got on the same page and I sat down at a one-table qualifier. 35 minutes later, I had all the chips and the entry into today's $200+15 tournament.
There were 1467 entrants, for a total prize pool of over $290,000. With visions of Moneymaker and Fossilman dancing in my head, I sat down at the keyboard at 4:30pm. Play tight. No foolish chances. Clear-cut decisions. Don't force yourself to make murky choices. This is what I repeated over and over.
That all flew out the window after the first hour, which was just brutal. On the fifth hand, I picked up Martin Luther and Don (black kings), but my raise got no callers. I picked up one other tiny pot with J3o out of the big blind. That was it. For the whole hour. I'm not even sure I saw any other flops. Too many offsuit and hot and cold hands, not enough connected, suited, or big ticket hands. The only other hand I even considered playing was pocket 6s from the small blind in Level 2, but UTG had raised to 4xBB and it just didn't seem worth it, with no one else in the pot.
At the first break, then, my initial 1000 stack was down to 845. The average was 1584, so I needed to double up quick.
The first opportunity presented itself halfway through Level 4, when I caught AKs at UTG. I made a modest raise, and everyone fled the scene. I then paid my BB and immediately got broken to the BB at a new table, but thankfully everyone folded so I was no worse for the wear. Still, I ended the level at 745, avg 1985.
With the blinds at 50/100 in Level 5, I was looking for a good hand to push all-in with. I found it in the SB - AA! I patiently watched as everyone folded to the cutoff, who raised to 200. The button called. Excellent. I pushed all-in for 645. The BB and CO both folded. The button debated before calling with A8s.
Since nothing could go right in this tournament for me, why should my aces hold up? Quite naturally, they shouldn't and didn't. The flop came 6-7-T, and of course! the one card I didn't want to see came on the turn: 9. The end. Twodimes has me as an almost 8-to-1 preflop favorite. If I pick up that pot, I'm at 1590 and a whole lot healthier (tho not out of the woods). Instead, I finished 642 out of 1467.
So much for Moneymaker and Fossilman.
Sunday, May 30, 2004
"I must complain the poker cards are ill shuffled till I have a good hand."
Thursday, May 27, 2004
A friend and I were having a conversation before an improv show last night, and somehow we stumbled onto the topic of telephone booths. When I pointed out that there really is no such thing as a phone booth anymore, we tried to figure out what one might call the current generation of telephone "booths" that have replaced them. Several lame suggestions, including kiosk, stand, and place, were floated. Nothing seemed right, prompting my friend to decide it's just easier to say "booth". I countered that booths denote an enclosed space; when he asked why diners have booths, I pointed out that diner booths are at least enclosed on three sides.
We pondered a few minutes more until I offered up the regretable suggestion of "urinal". (Say it with me: telephone urinal. It's not that bad, right?) He quickly nixed that idea, but it naturally lead him to "stall". Stall seemed the most apropos word, but we struggled for a while trying to figure out why bathroom stalls aren't called bathroom booths. In the end, we decided that English sucks and that Hawaiian, with only 12 letters, is a much better language.
Monday, May 24, 2004
Last night, for the first time in my life, I bet $150 on the flip of a card. In the grand scheme of things, $150 is not a large sum. There are many, many people who gamble at far higher stakes. But for me, it was a watershed moment. Most of my gambling to this point has been small stakes -- limits of 3/6 through 6/12, where my investment in any pot was generally not more than $50; tournaments ranging in cost from $10 to $100. Even the $100 tournaments didn't seem like high-stakes gambling, since I saw many, many hands before busting out. It felt like value.
No-limit cash games, on the other hand, are a different story entirely. I've heard stories of people losing upwards of $1,000 on a single hand, a pretty significant sum when you consider that the blinds are $1 and $2. Two previous forays of my own, at the behest of a friend visiting Los Angeles, ended in disaster, convincing me that staying far, far away from no-limit cash games was in my best interests. Since my return to NYC, however, a different friend convinced me that I'd be able to hold my own as long as I knew when to let go of top pair, and I decided to try again at one of the NYC member-only "game" rooms -- essentially, a backgammon club that has expanded to include poker as the game has enjoyed renewed popularity.
My friend was already seated in the game when I arrived, and immediately came over to greet me. I asked him if he thought I should buy in for the max ($250) right away -- I know that in no-limit cash games, it can be important to have a deep stack. He said that if I didn't feel comfortable buying in for $250 right away, I could buy-in for the $100 minimum, get a feel for the table, and then "top off" to $250 later on. That seemed like a good plan.
With a mixture of apprehension and exhiliration, I sat down in the two-seat, filling out the table. I had a pretty simple game plan -- play tight while I felt out the table. In the first half hour, I think I played only one hand. The Hilton Sisters. There were a few limpers in front of me, I raised to $15, and everyone ran. Rather anti-climactic. Big Slick came a few orbits later, and a player I had already recognized as a tight, cagey player opened for $20. I called, only to have the player on the button, who had been lamenting a cold streak of cards from the moment I got there, move all-in for $87. Craaaaaaaaaaap. The cagey guy in the ten-seat called, making me pretty sure he had a Group 1 hand -- probably not aces though, otherwise I imagined he would have reraised, being happy to take down $100 with his rockets. Kings? That would be bad. I had $77 left in my stack, so it was either push or fold. I folded. They opened JJ and QQ for the cagey guy; my king came on the river. Oh well.
I limped for a while, and the combination of missed flops and time charges ($4 per half hour) burned through another $30 of my stack. Eventually I topped up to $250, but was still playing a bit scared and hadn't been able to pull down a single pot since the Hilton Sisters. Shaking things up seemed like a good idea, so I limped J8o from middle position, something I ordinarily would not do. The flop was T-9-6, giving me an open-ended straight draw. There was a $10 flop bet that I called with several others. I think I would have called it even if my pot odds hadn't been correct, but by the time the action was back to me I was getting the right value for my money, so it was an easy call. A turned king was a bit ugly, as QJ was a decent possibility, but it caused the flop bettor to check, with so many people still in the hand, giving me a free river -- a beautiful 7. A guy in early position bet $10, I raised to $30, everyone folded and he called saying "well, I'm dead to jack-eight." I showed him jack-eight, he nodded and mucked his ten-high straight.
Ok! Finally pulled down a pot. I felt better. My stack wavered for a while, rising slightly, dipping slightly, until my godsend appeared at the table: Jimmy the Greek, seated immediately to my right. Jimmy, as I was quick to learn, was NOT a good player. He would call to the river with ANYthing, making it impossible to bluff him but very profitable to simply outflop / outdraw him.
That's where the $150 bet comes in. I raised Big Slick to $15 and got three callers. The flop came K-Q-5; with top pair, top kicker, I bet out $50. Everyone folded except Jimmy, who called. Was he drawing, or did he flop a set of 5s? The turn was a brick, which he checked. Thinking, thinking. I hadn't seen much in the way of stellar play from Jimmy, so I put him on a draw. There was about $150 in the pot. I needed to bet at least $75 to give him improper odds, but if he called, I'd be all-in on the river as long as a real scare card (basically an A or 9) didn't show up. May as well go all-in now.
My heart rate accelerated and my blood pressure jumped through the roof, but as calmly as possible, I said "All-in" and pushed my stack forward, counting down $151. Wow. Did I just bet $151? Geebus. When Jimmy did not immediately call, I knew I had him beat. Excitement now mixed itself into my agitated emotional state as I stared at the felt, trying to remain one cool cucumber. He finally said "good bet" and mucked, and I pulled down my $151 plus the ~$150 in the pot.
Fantastic! My confidence soared. I had walked up to the abyss, dangled over the edge, and come back, no worse for the wear. At 2am, I was about even and asked my friend if he was going to leave. He said he'd stay for one more half hour, so I did too. And a good thing! The Hilton Sisters showed up again towards late position. I bet $14 and got 4 callers for $70 in the pot.
A flop of 3-4-3, two hearts, looked pretty good to me, until Jimmy the Greek bet out $40. $40, Jimmy? I took my time to think it through. He limped in from middle position, then called my raise. What could he possibly be holding that was worth a $40 bet? Smelled like either the 4 for 4s up, or an overpair. Either way, I had him beat. I raised to $120. With confidence, even! No fear this time as I peeled off 4 reds and 4 blues from my stack and pushed them in front of my cards. Everyone folded until the action was back to Jimmy. He called. We checked down the turn and river, and my queens up beat his nines up, made on the river. Damn! I had left money on the table. There was no way to know that the river nine had helped him, but I'm sure he would have called any river bet with his two pair. Oh well, I was happy enough taking down a $300 pot that I toked the dealer $5.
I cashed out $467 on my $300 investment. As my friend and I left, I was in a genuinely good mood. There's nothing like leaving a winner, a confident winner who thinks that he can play the NL cash game.
Thursday, May 20, 2004
Everyone has those stretches where the deck treats them extremely unkindly. I'm not talking about good starting hands that get outflopped or outdrawn. That's an altogether different, and probably crueler, problem. I'm talking about those stretches where every hand you're dealt is 62o, 74o, T4o and so on. It's at these points when playing the players you're up against becomes even more critical to poker success than it normally is. In a tournament setting, you can't sit idly by forever, folding hand after hand and getting ground down by blinds and antes, and hope that the next hand will be a premium hand. Yes, a certain amount of patience is required, but you also have to look for your opportunities to either steal the blinds and antes or simply outplay your opponents after the flop. This is a skill gleaned from a combination of hours spent studying and playing the game, and careful observation of the opponents at your table in that particular tournament. Folding all those hands has a tendency to lull you to sleep, but you have to fight through it and carefully follow every hand that's dealt. This is definitely an area of my game that could stand some improvement.
Last night at the UCB tournament, I hit an awful stretch of cards. Just terrible. An early suckout with AA almost doubled my stack, so I had lots of time to be patient, but it was amazing how truly terrible my cards were after that. I admit that I play a bit tighter than most, but I think even loose players would have had a tough time with my cards. To make matters worse, I could not get into a pot first. Those moments when it seemed like a steal might be accomplished, someone was limping or raising in front of me. I can't imagine how many hands in a row I folded.
I was determined to wait for decent cards, but as time wore on it was clear that I was going to need to make a move soon. My stack went from 3500 to about 1900 when finally, I found an A9. A weak player limped in from UTG for 300, and out went my stack. An even weaker player called from the button while everyone else folded. My A9 outlasted his KQ and I was back up to 4700. That's when the next awful stretch hit. It got so bad that with only 2000 left and a BB of 800, I seriously had to consider moving in with 52o if anyone called my big blind. The same problem presented itself during this second stretch -- too many people were limping in/raising ahead of me that I knew would call a raise, and I was not getting hands that I was comfortable taking to a flop. That meant trying to outplay them after the flop, and since I can be a little gunshy at times (another hole in my game), I kept folding.
Somehow, I managed to last from a field of 18 down to 4 (in the money) and finally busted out when I went all-in with K9 and got called by the big stack holding pocket 2s. The flop of J-T-8 gave me lots of outs, but none of them came. I was drained and exhausted at that point, and looked up at the clock to discover that the tournament was barely two hours old. It had felt like a lifetime. The end result was some cash for me, but I wasn't really happy or satisfied with my play. When the cards don't cooperate, good players shift gears and find other ways to win pots. Last night, I didn't do that, and the only thing that got me as far as I did was hitting a 4-outer on the river and winning a race.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Last night I attended a friend's birthday party in Jersey City. Her fiance and a friend drove me there from Crooklyn, but the return trip was a solo affair. Thankfully, the restaurant that played host to the soiree was located close to the Pavonia/Newport PATH station, from which I could take a train to the recently re-opened World Trade Center temporary station. Three stops on the R train from there would put me reasonably close to home.
For several years, I worked at a law firm on the 89th floor of One World Trade Center aka the north tower. We had a small office with views to the west over the Hudson and New Jersey and north to the Empire State Building. On windy days, the entire building creaked as the tower swayed ever so slightly. My colleagues and I used to joke about whether the top of the tower would clear the World Financial Center across West Street if it should ever "break off" due to wind shear.
I spent many hours wandering all over the old trade center and have always felt a strong connection to it. It's probably no shock, then, that I have never been particularly fond of venturing near the site since the attack. I went once shortly after the attack to gape at the impossibly tall mound of twisted wreckage, but otherwise have only been to the site out of necessity -- for example, when an interview with a law firm required me to walk past the site.
Imagine my surprise last night when I arrived at the World Trade Center PATH station and realized that it has been rebuilt exactly the way it was the day of the attack.
That's not to say that the new station is a dead-on ringer for the old one. The new station is well-lit and well-signed, something that the old one could never have claimed. Floors are made of poured concrete; steel beams, painted gray, are exposed everywhere. Large photos of New York, shot from overhead and on the street, cover plywood walls.
The layout, though, is identical to the old station. The platform runs north-south through the site. Staircases at opposite ends of the platform rise to two, large separate mezzanine areas, which empty through facing turnstyles into the same entryway. From there, a series of short staircases mount their way to a wide bank of sleek, gleaming escalators, at least a dozen in all. The escalators even run in the same directions as they did before the attack; the two furthest right both up, the next to the left down, and so on.
Before the attack, those escalators led to the concourse level of the Trade Center, which was also street level. There you could see New Yorkers of all shapes and sizes scurrying to and fro, darting between people standing in line at a nearby newsstand to purchase lottery tickets, water or a copy of the Post and muttering about the tourists trying to find their way to the observation deck. Overpriced stores beckoned to all, pleading for the chance to make a sale and cover their rent.
Now, the concourse reminds me of the mezzanine level of the 57th Street F station -- a wide, empty expanse of concrete and steel. Even so, I could still trace my way to the R train, as I recalled that it should be directly west of the elevator bank, down a small ramp and through a set of doors. Lo and behold, there it was.
The whole experience is surreal -- that this one small piece of the World Trade Center should be restored to its former self. My guess is that the people who use the station every day, the same ones who used the old station every day, have become inured to the recollections it causes. Me, I'll be glad when they bulldoze the thing for the new PATH station. I'm all for commemorating the old site, but an exact replica seems macabre.
Tuesday, May 18, 2004
I'm not offering a write-up of the Blue Parrot game this week. That task has already been handled admirably by Dawn, and I imagine Pauly will have something to say as well. He took his usual notes. Ugarte also has a recap up, so there's no need for me to add anything further.
Instead, I want to focus on one particular hand. Towards the end of the evening, a hand of Anaconda (Hi/Lo) was called. The way Anaconda is typically played at the Blue Parrot is:
1. Everyone is dealt 7 cards.
2. Everyone passes 3 to the left.
3. Everyone passes 2 to the left.
4. Everyone passes 1 to the left.
5. Everyone discards 2.
6. Cards are opened one at a time, until 4 cards are exposed, with a betting round after each exposure.
7. Before the fifth card is exposed, players who haven't folded declare if they are going high, low or both. The declare is made using chips, so as to be simultaneous.
8. Another round of betting ensues, and then there's a showdown. High hand gets half the pot, low hand gets half the pot.
Now, I'm not such a fan of "declare" games. I think that for any game, cards should speak. Quite often, there are only three players left in the hand by the time of the declare, two going one way and the third going the other. The declare allows the solitary player an extra betting round to build the pot. I have been on both sides of that coin, and frankly don't care for either. Be that as it may, those are the rules at the Blue Parrot.
On the hand in question, everyone had folded except for Rick and me. With one card left to expose, his board showed J-J-J-x (x was a card smaller than J), and mine showed 3-A-3-A. It seemed clear that we were both going high. Pauly had rolled the third ace as his first card before folding, and I was hoping that Rick might remember that so as to discount the possibility that I had an aces full boat, which, in actuality, I did.
That was when someone (Ferrari? I think) remarked that he didn't understand why we were playing it out, as there was no way possible for either of us to win the whole pot because neither of us was showing a straight or flush, the only viable two-way hands in Anaconda. Now, when cards speak and there is no qualifier for low, that statement is true. One of us would have to have a better hand than the other, so one would get high and the other low. But in a declare game, that's not necessarily the case. If both players declare the same way (for example, both players declare "high"), only one player can win and that player scoops the whole pot.
I asked "Isn't there a declare?" and a long discussion ensued between Rick, Ferrari and me. Finally, Rick offered a chop and I said I wanted to play it out. I needed a big win to try to make back the money that I had lost to Coach and Pauly in a hand of Seven Stud Hi/Lo Push when my fifth street king-high flush fell to Coach's sixth street ace-high flush. There was always the chance Rick had four jacks, but I had aces full and was willing to accept the risk for a chance to win the whole pot. At that point, Rick decided that because I wanted to play out the hand, I probably made my full house, so he declared "low" because all he had was three jacks. I declared "high" and we chopped the pot.
Was I annoyed? No, for a number of reasons: 1) I did get half the pot; 2) Rick's a smart guy and might have assumed that I made my full house and declared "low" even without the discussion; and 3) this was an honest mistake made by someone who was simply trying to keep the game moving along as briskly as possible so that we could all play more hands, and I can certainly appreciate that. However, it does reinforce the fact that if a player is not involved in a hand, they shouldn't comment on it. Winning that whole pot would not have gotten me back to even for the night, but I would have been quite a bit closer than I wound up by only taking half of it. The discussion of whether or not one of us could scoop effectively killed that opportunity.
Monday, May 17, 2004
Every gambler knows that the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep. -Kenny Rogers
Well, I'm now 0 for my last 7 SnG tournaments at Party, an absolutely awful (and absurd) number. Before this streak I was running at about 50% ITM over the last few months, a little low for me. My historical average is closer to 60%.
These types of streaks can be extremely trying. They try your patience, as it seems that you turn into a folding station when all you see is A-little or K-little, and you lose just about every race you're involved in; they try your bankroll, as you continue to plunk out the buy-in for additional tournaments even though you're not seeing any return; and they try your sanity as you try to figure out what it is that you're doing that's knocking you out before you hit the money. The natural tendency in this type of situation is to "tighten up", but there are two problems with that strategy.
First, the nature of SnG tournaments on Party (10 hands per level) rewards aggression and gambling. More often than not, you need to make a few speculative plays to win. Second, and more important, "tightening up" often leads to "playing scared". You hesitate to get involved with hands that you might normally play because you're trying to play tighter. The direct effect of this mentality is that you don't win pots that you should be winning.
I've found, when I've hit these streaks in the past, that the best thing to do is simply not play for a few days, maybe as long as a week. It allows you to get away from that losing feeling and get away from the fear. If I play one or two more of these without placing, I'll be on the next train out of Party-ville.
In the meantime, if I see another J-4, I'm going to scream.
FOX seeks Recently Admitted LAWYERS for a New Reality-Based TV Show!!
Friday, May 14, 2004
Wednesday night saw my return to the UCB poker game, the place where it really all began for me. I've played poker for a long time -- games of mofo and guts in the basement of friends' houses from the age of fifteen, where the average pot was a few bucks; college games; friendly small stakes games during law school; bigger stakes games post-law school after we all got jobs -- but it was at the UCB poker game that I began honing and refining my skills in no-limit holdem tournaments. There are quite a few decent players in the UCB game who are all "students of the game", and we use a private internet posting board to collect our various thoughts about poker and dissect each other's play. It has definitely led to an improvement in each of our games, and I believe that my own skills suffered while I was in California by not having access to a similar cadre of players. An added bonus is that not only are the UCB players good, but several of them bring contrasting styles to the table. This, then, would be a bit of a test for me.
The UCB tourneys feature a $10 buy-in and T2000 initial stack, with a blind structure that is quick but not punishing:
Blinds go up every 15 minutes. The number in the parenthesis is the antes:
The structure allows you to sit back a little bit and wait for something decent before getting entangled in a hand.
The first hand I played was with pocket tens in late position. My raise got one caller - the button - for a flop of A-A-Q, which we both checked. The turn was an 8, and I checked again. This time, the button bet 300. I check-raised him to 600, and he called. We both checked down the river and he showed me A5s. Almost half my initial stack of 2000 was gone. (I was subsequently told that my opponent's tell is that he bets. He was one of three players I hadn't previously played against.)
The blinds ground me down until I tapped in Level 3 with pocket 4s against two overcards and lost the race to finish 9th out of 10. Wow. Not quite what I was expecting. I waited for a few more people to bust out before moving over to the other table to play some .25/.50 NL ring. Nothing eventful happened, and eventually we were ready for Tourney No. 2.
We only had 8 for the second tourney as two players opted for bed -- the UCB game starts late, and it was already after midnight. I fared much better in the second tourney, hanging around and slowly building up my stack. Then came the following hand.
We're five-handed; blinds are 150/300 with a 50 ante. I'm in the BB with Qd 2h. One player limps in, the SB completes, and I check. The flop is Ad-Kd-5c. Check, check, check. Turn: [Ad-Kd-5c]-Kh Check, check, check. River: [Ad-Kd-5c-Kh]-As. SB checks, I check. The limper now moves in for his last 1500. The SB folds and I have about 2100 behind me. Of course, I'm thinking of calling. Crazy, right? But the only card that beats me is a king or an ace. I doubt MP has an ace because the straight and flush possibilities on the flop almost demand that he bet something. That means the only card that beats me is a king. Would he move all-in with a kings full boat on the river? A bet of that size is unlikely to get any callers.
I try to look deep into his soul, but I can't get a read. I ask him "What should I do?" and he says "Well, I know what I'd like you to do." Finally, I decide that I can afford to wait for a situation when my options are a little clearer and fold. Turns out to be a wise choice because I take him out a few hands later with pocket 8s.
With a big stack after taking him out, I start to hammer away on the weaker players that are left in the tournament, raising them at every opportunity. I finally get one to bite against my pocket tens with Q7, and he loses. We're down to three. We steal blinds for a while until the short stack moves all-in and gets called by the other big stack. The short stack's Q3(?) loses to the big stack's K2(?!). I have 8300, the other player, who I think is a far weaker player than me, has 7700. Blinds are 400/800 with a 100 ante. It's already 2:30, and the prize money is $50 for first, $30 for second. I offer a chop because I'm tired and I don't feel like playing this all the way to bitter end for just a few extra dollars. The other player agrees.
It was a great experience. I'm glad that I have this opportunity every week now that I'm back in NYC. The weekly tournaments at the Bike in LA were a crapshoot because the blinds went up ridiculously fast and players were so loose. There's some value to learning to play in situations like that, but the luck component is a much bigger factor. I'd rather stick to raw skill and hope that mine will improve now that I'm back.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
I watched what I presume is a short clip of the Nick Berg video last night. Why? Why indeed. Morbid curiosity, perhaps. I don't know. I do know that I had a sense of dread as I was opening the file, a sense that I was crossing some line that I wasn't really sure that I wanted to cross. I felt like a little kid sneaking into the teacher's lounge at school, knowing damn well he wasn't supposed to be there.
In the end, though, I wound up watching the footage multiple times. The quality of both the audio and the video is quite low (probably a good thing, on certain levels), so its impact on me after my first viewing was not as awful as I had expected. It was on repeated viewings, combined with rereading a description of the scene published in the New York Times, that the full horror and barbarism of what the captors had done set in.
I'm told that, like the Daniel Pearl video, U.S. media outlets are not airing the footage. (I wouldn't know, as I don't have television.) The usual reasons have been given: too graphic for prime time television; respect for the Berg family; etc. I'm conflicted as to whether this is a wise decision. It's true that reading a description of the video's contents in the newspaper conveys the raw facts of the ugliness that the video depicts and spares the sensibilities of both the Berg family and a squeamish U.S. public. However, nothing slams home the lengths to which radical Islamic terrorists are willing to go, than actually seeing the chilling video itself. Nothing slams home the awful mess that the U.S. has gotten itself into in Iraq than watching the video. Nothing slams home man's savagery against man (in the name of God, no less -- the worse kind of savagery, to be sure) than watching the video.
How awful was it, on September 11, to repeatedly watch the second plane explode in a ball of fire as it hit the south tower of the World Trade Center? I found it to be gut-wrenching, and I think that's good. It reminds us who we're dealing with, the lengths to which they're willing to go, and why combating terrorism should remain a high priority for the entire world. If the U.S. public can stomach all of the various 9/11 footage, if the U.S. public can stomach the photos from Abu Ghraib prison, then the U.S. public can stomach at least one viewing of the Nick Berg video, and quite frankly I think the U.S. public should stomach it.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
1. Last night, on my way home from the Blue Parrot, I emerged from the Bergen Street subway station to discover that it was raining. Not only was it raining, but one might even say that it was pouring. Maybe I'm going to have to start consulting the weather report again, rather than just assuming that the weather today is going to be as absolutely perfect as it was yesterday, and the day before yesterday, and the day before that.
2. My neighborhood is green! I know the cynics will disagree with me and contend that no part of New York outside of one of the major parks could possibly be considered green, but understand that I've spent the last nine months living in a desert. Sure, there is greenery in Southern California, but it tends to be this dull, not-very-vibrant olive green. There are certainly very few green, leafy, deciduous trees.
3. I definitely did not miss the endless stream of buskers and panhandlers on the subway. That's not to say I was never asked for change in Los Angeles, just that I wasn't accosted with an off-key rendition of "Lean on Me", a breakdancing 8-year old, and a man rapping about pimps and hos within the span of half an hour.
Last night featured my first appearance at the Blue Parrot poker game, hosted by Ferrari. Besides myself, present were (let's see if I can get this right):
Since I didn't know much about any of them, I decided to just play tight and not run too many bluffs. This led me to fold more than my fair share of hands, but I was willing to accept that.
I won my first pot early on with KK in holdem when I went runner-runner for a suckout flush against Pauly's flopped set of ducks. I had put him on two pair, but got a free river to make the flush. Soon after, in omaha, I took 3/4 with the nut low and a weak high. Omaha being what it is, I was convinced that I was only going to get 1/4 of that pot as I was certain that Mike W. also had the nut low (he did) and that Joel was going high (he wasn't).
The most memorable hand of the night for me occurred much, much later, after Rick had gone home. With 7 at the table, we opted for a hand of midnight baseball. The first four cards I opened were aces. They were such a pretty sight, those aces sitting there all in a row on my board.
By that time, I at least had a handle on the way people played. As soon as the deal came around to me the first time after midnight, I called one final game and then headed back to Crooklyn. My final tally was a modest win, but I considered that a success. Even better, there are some fun, nice people that play at the Blue Parrot. Given that the home game I played in before I left for California had two different pairs of conflicting personalities, that was a welcome change. Kudos and thanks to Rick for inviting me to the game.
Monday, May 10, 2004
I decided to try a $22+2 super satellite on Party last night for a $300+20 super satellite to the WSOP main event. It was going pretty well. At the end of the first hour, the average stack was a bit over 2000 and I had 2700. In the second hour, my JJ took out 99 and 88 to push me up to around 6000. And then disaster struck.
I have this REALLY bad habit, in these Party multis, of playing reasonably well until somewhere near the end of the second hour, when I make a boneheaded move that ultimately destroys me. Last night, it came in Level 8. At that time, the average stack was about 3500 and I had 5400. In the SB (blinds of 100/200), I was dealt Tc Ts. A player who had just recently been moved to the table opened for a min-raise to 400. Action folded to me, so I reraised to 1000, looking to either fold the BB and MP or at least get MP heads-up. The BB folded, MP called. Fine. The flop was 5-5-J, two diamonds.
Here's where it all goes to shit. I bet out 1000, he raised to 2000, with 600 left behind. I reraised to 3000 and of course he called. He turned over 7h Jh. Argh. To be honest, I'm not really sure what my thinking was. The initial bet of 1000 was because of the two diamonds. If the board comes up as a rainbow, I probably only bet 500 there. When he raised me to 2000, I should have just let it go. It seemed so improbable to me that he had a jack, though (not sure why), and I figured KK or AA would have reraised preflop, leaving me fearing QQ, AJ or maybe KJ. Well, whatever my thinking was, I blew it. I should have dumped my tens on the raise to 2,000 and just licked my wounds as an average stack.
Instead, I became severely short-stacked. I waited to make a move, got all-in with KJ v. 66, and lost. One of these days I'm going to play a Party multi all the way through without making such stupid decisions.
I've been back in New York for a few days now and have made the following observations:
1. Streets are so narrow here.
2. Buildings are so tall here.
3. Where's the sun?
4. Taxi fares have increased. Why wasn't my approval sought?
5. It should never, ever take me over an hour to get home from the East Village. I want my car back.
6. Not only are supermarkets not "super"-sized, they're not even conveniently located. I want my car back.
7. Where's the sun?
8. In California, I was four blocks to the Pacific Ocean. Here, I am four blocks to... the East River.
9. My cat already has a cold. It is REALLY not pleasant to get a face full of cat sneeze.
Saturday, May 08, 2004
New Yorkers, take cover. I've arrived back in the Big Apple and intend to stay for a while. I've got a whole bunch of mixed emotions about this return, and I already miss Southern California's fantastic weather, but for better or worse, I'm here. I spent the last week mostly homeless, meaning I haven't played any poker in quite a while. As soon as I get myself re-situated, I'll probably pop onto Party and brush off some rust.
Has anybody heard anything about a new card room that recently opened on the LES? For over a year now, I've been getting emails about a weekly poker game that I've never been to (not one time). This week, one of the other people on the distribution list sent out the following:
"I went to this awesome members only poker room downtown on Tuesday and the games were amazing. It was only holdem but they had a 3/6 , 6/12 , and 15/30... They just opened and are taking new members , the place is very elegant...its a 2 floor loft in the lower east side..if you are interested , let me know and i can get you in. Im sure you wont be disappointed."
The guy sounds like such a shill for the place that I wonder if he owns a piece of it.