Last night was the first tournament at Above Malibu for me in over a month. Two weeks in Maui, one week in AC, and one cancellation meant the last time I sat down at a table there was August 25. Geebus that's a while.
The cards were nice early, but I wasn't getting much action. Lots of medium pocket pairs and some big tickets too. The only really interesting hand early on was when I called a raise by Ugarte with KJs from the BB. The flop was 8-T-J. I bet the pot (325) and he raised to 800. I only folded because I respect that Ugarte is a tight player, and it was a bit early to be tangling with marginal hands. Later on, he was all-in with pocket 8s against BkynPlague, who had flopped two pair with A7. As he dealt the turn, Ugarte said, in a matter-of-fact tone, "Eight." Sure enough, the eight of hearts came down to give him a set and bust BkynPlague.
Up and down went my stack, increasing little by little, as we broke from three tables to two. It was on the downside at Table No. 2 when I caught pocket aces under the gun. Most hands were being raised, so I was confident limping in with my aces. Of course, the action folded to the SB, who completed. The BB checked, and there I was with pocket aces in an unraised pot (600). Ick.
The flop looked good: Q-5-2 rainbow. The small blind led out for 500 and the big blind folded. Excellent, I figured I could trap her for her entire stack and called. The turn was another deuce, and she bet out 500 again. This time, I raised her all-in for about 1200. She called almost immediately, and turned over not one queen, but two! I was already getting out of my chair when my miracle 2-outer came on the river to give me a bigger full house. She was stunned; I was elated and sat back down. I asked her "You didn't raise those queens?" and one of the other players replied, "Oh, I like how the guy with pocket aces is indignantly asking someone else why they didn't raise THEIR hand."
That loss decimated her stack. I took her out about ten hands later when she was all-in in the BB and I isolated her with AJs. She had 8-2o and flopped a deuce, but once again the ace came on the river, earning me the nickname "The River Ace". I stole a few blinds as both tables became short-handed, and by the time we reached the final table I was exactly at par, with 5500.
The cards turned pretty cold for me at the final table. With blinds at 600/1200/100, I moved in for 4700 with AKo and got called by the BB with Q5o. I flopped an ace, and that win set me up to ride the final table all the way to 4th place. The AM tourney usually pays four places, as it did last night, so I had a modest win to show for my three hours of play. It was a nice way to welcome myself back into the fold.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Last night was the first tournament at Above Malibu for me in over a month. Two weeks in Maui, one week in AC, and one cancellation meant the last time I sat down at a table there was August 25. Geebus that's a while.
Wednesday, September 29, 2004
[Ed. note: This is the fourth in an ongoing series of reviews of the major New York City Poker Rooms. Due to the quasi-legality of these games, no room will be mentioned by name or specific address. While I realize these restrictions limit the usefulness of the reviews, I also respect that most of these rooms are trying to operate without drawing much attention to themselves. Anyone interested in learning more specifics about any club should contact me directly.]
[May 2005: Club is out of business.]
Wow! A whole month has passed since the last club time I reviewed a room. That certainly wasn't the game plan when I started this project. Too much travelling and assorted other commitments in the month of September kept me from playing live poker in NYC.
Last night found me at a relatively new room on Manhattan's West Side. My companion for the evening was Above Malibu's BkynPlague, back from a recent sojourn to Holland, where the local players taught him the Dutch word for "rock" and he taught them the English phrase for "Nyah, nyah, I've got all your chips!" We were both interested in the baby NL cash game that the room claimed to spread, and he thought he might play in a $100 freezeout tournament scheduled for 8pm.
To the best of my knowledge, the room has only been open for three or four months. The number of players that were there suggested that the room was even newer. I'm getting ahead of myself, though, so let's back up.
After a dreadful meal of White Castle chicken (first and last time for that), BkynPlague and I walked to a depressing-looking building on a depressing-looking block in Midtown West. It probably didn't help that the remnants of Hurricane Fatzenyatz were settled over the New York region, dumping sheets of rain. We passed by a security guard who didn't seem inclined to stop us or ask why we were in the building, and proceeded to the tenth floor. The elevator opened on a rough, unfinished hallway -- poured concrete floor, bare walls, and light bulbs in those little mesh, plastic guards that you see at construction sites. It took us a few minutes to find the right door (the one with the club's name on it in stencilled letters).
Another player was standing in front of the door, ringing the bell and getting no answer. Not a good sign, considering it was 6:40 and the club supposedly opened at 6:00. I brought their phone number with me, so I pulled out my phone and called. The guy who answered said the club would be open between 7:00 and 7:15, with the tournament to start at 8:00. Time for a beer.
One beer later, at about 7:30, we returned. This time, when we rang the bell, we were buzzed through the door... to discover we were the first players there. Strike two. Russell, the manager for the night, introduced himself and greeted us. He assured us that the tournament would have plenty of players and would be underway by a bit after 8:00. He offered to deal a three-handed cash game (the guy who was ringing the bell when we first arrived walked in right behind us), but nobody was up for that. I took the time to observe the room.
Unlike previous rooms that I have reviewed, this one quite literally was one large room, painted a dark brown that seemed to fit with the depressing quality of the building and neighborhood. Four red felt tables and one green felt table were spaciously arranged in the center of the room. The felt in front of the dealer box on each of them was worn, suggesting that they had been purchased second-hand. A few of the rails did not have drink-holders, which would have been a problem in any room except this one. There was no drink service, no tray of snacks or pot of coffee, no cute, flouncy blondes walking around collecting tips.
Two doors in the back wall of the club led to a bathroom and a small smoking room. The manager's office, where we bought in, was off to the side, complete with one desk, one filing cabinet, and a small television monitor receiving feeds from security cameras inside and outside the club. And that was pretty much it. No lounge area, no computer terminal. There were two smallish televisions in the club; one was off, the other was tuned to a channel broadcasting "Fight Club", later changed to a rebroadcast of one of the smaller 2004 WSOP events. Russell served double-duty as manager and dealer; a second dealer arrived late, delayed by the inclement weather.
By about 7:50, we had enough players to get a NLHE cash game going. It was either 6- or 7-handed, with blinds of $1/$2 and time collection of $4 every half hour. I took one guy for about $30 out of the BB with 9-6 when the flop came A-6-6 and he called the whole way with Big Slick. BkynPlague made a great call with the nut flush on a scary board to bust someone else. The two seat seemed to be betting at lots of pots, figuring that nobody really wanted to challenge him without having the goods. I wised up to it, but the guy in the four seat also did at about the same time, and started raising the two-seat at every opportunity.
I lost a bunch with top two pair when the guy BkynPlague busted caught a set on the flop, but thankfully he was such a bad player that he only had $45 left in his stack when it happened. Nobody seemed interested in buying in for the maximum ($300); there were a few buy-ins of $100, one of $150, and one of $60! That guy wound up reloading at least twice. Overall, the quality of play was low, but here was the problem: the cash game disintegrated at 8:30, when the tournament started. EVERYONE got up to play the tournament; nobody was interested in playing the cash game. Of course, "everyone" means all 13 other players that were in the club by that point.
I was understandably annoyed. Not because I was down $50 at that point, but because I never would have sat down in the cash game if I had known it was going to break in 40 minutes. I wasn't really interested in playing a $100 NLHE freezeout, so I stuck around and watched BkynPlague for a while.
One area this room did earn lots of points was for its tournament structure. For the $100 tournament, there was "only" $20 of juice, players started with 1500 chips, and the initial blinds were 5-10 and went up every 20 minutes as follows: 5-10, 10-20, 15-30 (race reds), 25-50, 50-100, 75-150 (race greens), 100-200, 200-400, 300-600 (race blacks), 500-1000. This is a pretty favorable structure for skilled players and provides lots of bang for your buck. In fact, to date, this is the best tournament structure I've seen in NYC.
I stuck around until about 10:00, hoping for a cash game to materialize as players busted out of the tournament or as new players walked in, but it never happened. Nobody else came to the club after the tournament started, and the players that busted early left. I decided my time would be better spent at home. BkynPlague later told me he busted 6th out of 13, made all the more disappointing by the fact that he was the second largest stack at that time. Get 'em next time.
In the end, here's my encapsulated review:
Location: Pretty Good
Club Atmosphere: Awful
Quality of Play: Low, Passive
Tournament Structure: Excellent
Cash Games: What Cash Games?
Staff: Friendly and Helpful
Worth Your Time?: Only if you're interested in playing NLHE tournaments
Tuesday, September 28, 2004
Floor people are to consider the best interest of the game and fairness as the top priority in the decision-making process. Unusual circumstances can, on occasion, dictate that the technical interpretation of the rules be ignored in the interest of fairness. The floorperson's decision is final.
--Rule No. 1, 2004 Tournament Directors Association Rules
Tournament situation. Player A is all-in. Player B is the only one to call. They expose A-4 and A-9 (suit unimportant). The board comes
and the dealer declares a chop. Neither player protests and both start to take their bets back. Just as the dealer reaches for their hole cards and begins to sweep up the board, an alert railbird says, "That's not a chop!" The dealer sweeps everything into the muck and straightens the deck as the railbird points out a second time that the hand should not have been chopped. Everyone stops and realizes that the hand shouldn't have been chopped, and the floor is called over.
The dealer explains that a chop was called but he believes the call was in error. The floor asks the losing player "Did you deserve a chop?", to which the losing player replies, "I don't remember." The dealer reconstructs the hand for the floor, and then the floor asks "When did you realize the chop was in error? After you had already mucked all the cards?" The dealer says yes.
You are the floor and need to make the call - does the chop stand, or should Player B win the hand?
Last night we played some .25 - .50 NLHE at Above Malibu 2. The proprietors -- JCatz of Borgata $2500 fame, and Mullansky -- own a nice, red felt holdem table, and Monday night at their apartment has quickly become a crowd favorite.
Early on, playing 6- or 7-handed, I got the red deuces under the gun. I limped in, along with JCatz and Mullansky in the big blind. The flop was
After a moment's pause, I considered that my deuces might be the best hand and tried to bet the pot. Only problem was that I bet $3, and the pot was only $1.75. It looked like I was overbetting the pot. JCatz folded. Mullansky remarked how I overbet the pot, then called, telling me "I guess you got your answer."
I had to put him on trip jacks, but the turn was a miracle card: the deuce of spades. The question became "How do I get the rest of his stack?"
I decided confusion was my best weapon, and overbet the pot a second time, coming in for $10. He was definitely confused, trying to put me on a hand -- pocket 5s? No, not likely. Another jack then. Bigger kicker? He pondered, and turned over his jack, not sure that I had the case jack. I ignored it though, smiling at him pleasantly.
I'm not sure what prompted it, but in the end he decided to come over the top of me all-in. I quickly called, of course, and flipped up my deuces. He howled in rage and didn't hit his 7-outer on the river.
I think that moment was only topped by getting dealt the hammer on back-to-back hands and winning both. JJ was still a problem for me though, so look for that theory post soon. Tonight I'll be off to a poker room in Midtown West; review to come tomorrow.
Sunday, September 26, 2004
If you play on Party Poker, you probably noticed that because of a recent client upgrade, hand histories are now stored locally on your hard drive in a folder called "HandHistory". Supposedly, this new feature is intended to relieve the burden on Party's overswamped mail servers. In the near future, so the story goes, the number of hand histories a player will be able to request via email in a given time period will be limited.
As a result of these changes and in anticipation of Party's new email policy, the folks at PokerTracker issued a new patch that allows PokerTracker to read the locally-stored hand histories (which, of course, are formatted differently from emailed hand histories -- great design, Party). While working on the patch, the PokerTracker folks discovered that Party's new client also saves hand histories for hands a player merely observes -- that is, hands for which the player is not even seated at the table. These hand histories not saved in the HandHistory folder, but rather in the root PartyPoker directory, in the format *.HHF. In the latest update to PokerTracker (v2.05.00M), Pat from PokerTracker added functionality to import these HHF files into the PokerTracker database.
What does this mean for you and me? It means that, as I'm typing this entry, I am observing four $50 NL tables on Party Poker and am collecting data on the players at those four tables. It means that, in a week, you can easily create a 10,000 hand database without ever risking a red cent. It means that, if you give yourself a few weeks, you will most likely never to have to sit down at a table of nine total, random strangers ever again.
PokerTracker is now the ultimate weapon. It keeps track of your own play and pinpoints leaks in your games It keeps track of the play of people you have played against in the past so that you'll be prepared to play against them in the future. And now, it keeps track of the play of people you haven't played against. The next time you sit down at a table at your limit of choice, there's a good chance you'll have a couple hundred hands logged for several players at the table, even if you've never played against any of them before.
It's easy to configure PokerTracker to exploit this new feature. This handy page explains how to do it.
If you're a Party Poker player and you're not using PokerTracker, fork over the $55 and buy it. PokerTracker is worth its weight in gold. If you're an existing PokerTracker user, I would highly recommend downloading the latest update. Your bankroll will thank you.
Friday, September 24, 2004
I'm on my way out the door to go meet up with Rick, in town for a quickie from California, and then to a few weddings tomorrow, but look for the following in this space over the next few days:
* A theory post on NLHE trouble hands: JJ and KQ. These hands have been killing me recently, and I'm going to try to get to the bottom of why.
* The next NYC poker room review: I know I promised it would be this week, but I ran into a slight snag.
* A discussion of the latest updates to PokerTracker. Still not using this wonderful product? I've got a new reason why you should be...
* More adventures with the Hammer! Just won with it out of the SB. When I showed it down, one of the guys I bluffed had this to say:
Opponent: u r sooo cool
I think he was just jealous that I got him to lay down a better hand.
Wednesday, September 22, 2004
NY Times article about poker's "superstars"
If even the NYTimes is covering it, poker must have jumped the shark.
The last of the AC reports! This time it's the $2500+100 NL tournament that was held at the Borgata on Friday. I did not play in the tournament, but my friend (and Above Malibu cohort) JCatz did. When I checked in on him after the first half hour, he was already up to 9,000 in chips, from an initial stack of 6,000. I went off to try my luck at the Trop, and when he called me at the end of the first break, he said that he was up to 32,000.
I figured he was good for a while, and that the tournament wouldn't really get interesting until after dinner, so I stuck around my rock garden at the Trop a while longer before deciding it was useless and bailing. By the time I got back to sweating JCatz, they were down to eight tables and he was sitting on about 50,000 or 60,000 chips.
He continued doing his thing until he was broken to Dan Harrington's table. I believe there were five tables remaining at that point, with three getting paid. These were the three most interesting hands:
First, a somewhat short stack moved in from EP for about 23,000 (blinds were 1000/2000). JCatz, in MP, deliberated a long time before folding. The BB, who had just taken a beatdown the previous hand, called for his last 2,000 behind his blind. They opened A5s for EP and 23o for the BB. Joe shouted "Goddammit!" and got up out of his chair. I very sternly shouted "JOE!" and then motioned to him to calm down. Tilting at that stage of the tournament would be disastrous. At the next break he told me he folded AK, but I told him he made a good fold, as the guy easily could have had pockets and why risk 40% of your stack on a coin flip late in the tournament?
Back to the hand -- the dealer ran the cards and the BB flopped two pair with his 2-3o. UTG was pretty upset, saying something like "This dealer is killing me!" He must have been from Southern California.
A few hands later, another short stack moved in from early position for 16,000. Harrington, on the button, came over the top for his whole stack, about 40,000. The BB was the player who had A5s in the earlier hand. He agonized for a while, saying things like "I have a hand here" and "I think I've got you, Dan". Finally, after saying "I think I've got you" for about the third or fourth time, Harrington replied, "You know, you've been playing so well all tournament," (and here he rolled his eyes). "I'd really hate to see you think yourself into a bad decision and right out of the tournament." The table erupted in laughter, and the BB then almost immediately called. What did they have?
EP - AQo
Harrington - TT
BB - KQo
KQo! He called two all-ins with KQo! If that's not an example of tilt, I'm not sure what is. The player had managed to make it to the final five tables, and then, set in a dizzy by losing to a big blind holding 23o, made a horrific call of two all-ins with KQo. The flop came ten-high to give Harrington a set, and he put both players away when another ten came on the turn. Just like that, he was up to about 80,000.
Next level, with only 4 tables left, Harrington was in the BB for 3,000. It folded to the table chip leader in the SB, who min-raised. Harrington called to see a flop of 6d 7s 4s. The SB opened for 6,000. Harrington said "I raise 16,000" and pushed out 22,000. There was then some confusion as the SB attempted to reraise to 32,000. It took several minutes for him to understand, and for the floor and dealer to get correct, that the minimum legal raise was to 38,000. Once he had it in front of him, Harrington said, "Have you figured out how much you're going to raise now? Good. I raise this much" and pushed his entire stack of about 80,000 in front of him.
The SB went into the tank. He kept muttering "I think he has a set, I think he has set". JCatz later told me that everyone at his end of the table was convinced that Harrington had a set as well. After a few minutes, the SB finally called and flipped up A-A. Harrington opened... 5-5! He didn't catch any of his ten outs, and just like that he was out.
I understand the play from Dan's point of view. It was late, and he's certainly not playing just to come in 25th and make a measly couple grand. He's playing for the final table. Double up or bust, and if bust, go get a good night's sleep in preparation for the $10,000 event. I'm amazed at the call from the SB, though. He put Harrington on a set and called anyway. Either he got an amazing read, or he just couldn't let go of his rockets.
Despite having accumulated about 10% of the chips in play at that point, the SB finished the tournament 11th. And my man JCatz? He finished in 18th for a cool $6500, busting out all-in preflop as a short stack when his ATs ran into AK.
Tuesday, September 21, 2004
After our early exits on Thursday, Double As and I headed over to the Taj to try our luck in the 1/2 NL game. We got seated at the same table, right next to each other, so we were able to chat it up all night. What many online players never realize, or often forget, is that poker is very much a social game. It is infinitely more fun to play live, where everyone is chatting it up and having a good time, than it is to play by yourself in your home, the quiet hum of the computer your only companion. That said, not every table is that lively. On Friday, we were seated in a rock garden full of miserable players. Not fun.
Our Thursday table started off pretty juicy. There were at least three or four soft targets at the other end of the table, and I was just waiting to get into a hand with them. Tops on the list was a darker-skinned fellow who was obviously tilting, and massively overbetting any pot he got involved in. He busted before I could get any of his money, but I finally got into a hand with two other targets when, with position, I called a raise to $10 with Jd8d. Three of us saw a flop of Td-7d-x. Good flop! I've got the inside straight flush draw and an overcard to boot. With about $30 in the flop, soft-target number 1 opens for $20 and is called by soft number 2. I consider my options and settle on a raise to $60. Soft 1 agonizes, looking like he's ready to cry, as he ponders my bet. He finally calls, as does Soft 2. The turn is another ten. This is not good. I'm pretty sure one of them just tripped up. They check to me, so I elect to take a free card, which comes a beautiful Qd. Soft 1 checks, and Soft 2 now moves in for his whole stack! Uh oh. Was he on the diamond draw the whole time? Only one way to find out. I call, and he turns over... QQ. Eww. Really? QQ? To make things worse, Soft 1 said he had AA! He then lamented about how his aces were "slaughtered" by a full house and a flush.
Soft, indeed. Unfortunately, I rivered a trap card. Seemed to be the story of the weekend. I reloaded, and went up and down the rest of the night. I did manage to blow a rock off his hand with the Hammer when he thought I was slow-playing trips. That was fun. And Double As had several successful Hammer adventures as well. Despite often turning over stone cold bluffs, though, he had trouble getting action for his bigger hands. He also hit some unfortunate situations. His A-Q ran into my J-T on an A-J-T flop. The turn was a brick, there was some betting, and I checked the river dark, which turned out to be another jack. He checked as well (thankfully - it's always tough taking a friend's money) and was obviously disappointed when I told him I had filled up.
After a while, the table got much rockier as the soft players busted or left. A super-cute Asian girl sat down in the ten-seat for a while, without any boyfriend hovering around even. She played decently, taking a few hundred off the table, and my dreams of a poker girlfriend were rekindled. Unfortunately, since I was in the three-seat, I couldn't really chat it up with her. Boo.
Late in the night, things started to get ugly. First, a young guy slow-rolled a really nice, older regular to my right. On the showdown, the young guy exposed a ten and asked "can you beat a pair of tens?" and the regular asked "yes, what's your kicker?" The young guy than exposed a queen for top two. A heated argument ensued, with the young guy insisting that if the regular couldn't beat a pair of tens, he didn't have to expose both cards, etc. etc. It was ugly, and low class. The entire table chastised the hell out of the young guy, who claimed he hadn't known that it was both improper and rude not to show both cards. Whatever.
The last hand of the night was one that drove four people off the table. A "slick Asian" sat down in the six-seat. I call him a "slick Asian" because he fit the stereotype to a T. He and Double As got involved in a pot where Double As made a healthy river bet. The asian exposed one of his cards, an eight for third pair, and asked "Can you beat this?" Double As asked "is that a call?" and the Asian responded "This is not a call." Double As, thinking that the asian meant he wasn't calling, then exposed a stone cold bluff. The Asian, of course, said "I call" and the table erupted. The floor was called over, who allowed the Asian player to call the final bet.
I know that what he did - exposing a card heads up before acting - is allowed in most poker rooms. I still don't understand why. It's an angle play, pure and simple. The Asian, of course, defended himself by saying that what he did was perfectly legal, but Double As, the older reguar to my right, and I had all had enough. We all told him how slimy and low class we found his play to be, and cashed out.
Total result for me that night was -$178. Not very pretty. Stupid JJ cost me a bunch of that. I really think JJ is a trouble hand in NL. I'll try to cobble together a theory post explaining why sometime soon.
The next day was better, a $205 win at the Taj. The only notable hand was a repeat of my tournament bust-out hand. Three of us in for a $15 raise, the flop comes A-5-6. I make it $50 straight and get called by a somewhat passive player. The turn is a 4, which he checks. I check as well. The river is a queen, and he moves in for over $200. This is the problem with checking the turn in NL. Players will often make bets on the river that you simply can't call. I thought about it for a long time. It was the same situation. Top two with a straight on board. It was the player's passive nature that finally made me fold. I hadn't seen him move in at all. I might have had the best hand (he claims he turned the straight), but I wasn't willing to pay $200 to find out. A player two seats to my right, who had already lost with AQ twice, was shocked when I mucked my hand face up. The player to my left expressed surprise as well. I said "The man called $50 straight on the flop. At this point, I have to give him credit for more than a pair." He responded "But you have two pair" and I said, "I know."
Friday evening I went over to check out the 1/2 game at the Trop. I was seated at a table with three players that I had seen in the Taj the day before. Ugh. They were all rocks, and (go figure) there wasn't much action on the table. I left down about $70. I screwed the pooch with JJ again.
Next up -- the $2500 tournament Friday night.
Monday, September 20, 2004
Best Damn Hand in Poker
More AC stories related to the above link coming shortly...
This is the easiest of the AC posts to write, as my tournament didn't last very long. Things got off to a very ominous start, when my VERY FIRST HAND was the Hammer. It was immediately followed by 53o, J4o, the Hammer (again!) and 62s. Yep, first 5 hands, I saw one card bigger than 7.
During the second or third orbit, I finally limped AJs from MP1. There were 4 of us in, the flop missed me by a mile, and so there wasn't any reason for me to call the flop bet. Fold, fold, fold some more, until I found KsQs in the CO.
With two limpers in front for 50 each, I raised to 200. My first raise of the tournament. It got completely no respect, as the button, the big blind, and both limpers called for 5 of us in the 1025 pot. Ugh.
Qd Td 3s
Not a bad flop, but there were too many people in the pot and it was very much out of control. Action checked to me, so I fired off 700. The only person to call was in EP. I had already seen him raise with pocket 5s, and I'm almost certain he raised 4s as well. He didn't show down the 4s, but I caught a glimpse of them when he mucked them. So I knew he didn't have QQ or TT then, and 33 was possible, but not likely, based on his betting patterns.
Great card. I've got top two now. He checked, I bet 1000 into the 2400 pot. No free cards, in case he's drawing diamonds. He reraised me all-in. I had him barely chipped, about 300. Into the tank. What could he have? I ruled out J9 almost immediately. Not sure why, but being in EP, I just didn't think it was likely. That meant his possible hands were: 33 (already discounted), QT (I'm ahead), KQ (chop), KT (ahead), KJ (ahead, but he's drawing live). Seemed unlikely that he would push with AK or AQ there, so the only other possibility is AJ. Would he have called the flop with AJ?
I tried to get a read off him, but there was nothing there. I thought about it again: QT, KQ, KT, KJ, AJ. I'm ahead of 3, chopping 1, and drawing slim against the last. So I called. I can tell you, though, that I wasn't happy about calling. My gut was telling me to fold. (Why do I have such problems trusting my instincts!)
He turned over Ah Jh, and I didn't fill up on the river.
That left me with about 275. I pushed AT a few hands later, the big blind called with QT, I flopped two pair to double up. Then, my BB, I had T6. The flop was T-8-3 with 4 or 5 people in. In retrospect, I think I should have pushed my 550 into the 250 pot right away on the flop, and if another ten was out there, so be it. Instead, I checked, and it checked around. The turn was [T-8-3]-2, so I pushed. I got called by only one person, someone I had already pegged as a calling station. He had 4-5 and caught an ace on the river. With ten minutes to go in Level 1, I was out.
The lesson I think I learned from this, after some reflection, is that, early in a tournament, if someone puts you all-in, they probably have the nuts or the near-nuts. In a $1500 tournament, very few people are going to risk their tournament lives that early and soon without a superb hand.
Some of the more interesting play occurred later on in the 1/2 NL game and in the $2500 tournament the next day. Details to follow in subsequent posts.
Sunday, September 19, 2004
Homer: You sunk my scrabbleship!
Lisa: This game makes no sense.
Homer: Tell that to the good men who just lost their lives... SEMPER FI!
What a weekend. Between poker, poker, more poker, and (oh yeah) the bachelor party I was there for, I think I knocked close to a year off of my expected lifespan. I probably have enough for several posts in me, but let me tick off a quick summary:
* I made a questionable call early in the $1500 tourney and lost most of my stack.
* As a result, doubleas won our last-longer bet. After he busted, I was the won who had to tip the cocktail waitress for our celebratory drink.
* NL cash game at the Taj was ok at times, super rocky at others. The game at the Trop was just awful. doubleas and I had LOTS of fun on Thursday night at the Taj by playing the Hammer from any position for any amount of money. The dealer obliged by dealing it to us at least 4 or 5 times each.
* My man JCatz placed 18th out of 340-something in the $2500 tourney on Friday, for a cool $6500. I sweated most of his action the last five hours, and will post some interesting hands tomorrow.
I'm about ready to drop, but I'll post more tomorrow.
Wednesday, September 15, 2004
If he's so smart, how come he's dead?
On my next-to-last hand of 5-10 this morning on Party, I raised with the Hammer and won. Not only that, but I had one of my best improv shows ever last night. I consider both things good omens for tomorrow's $1500 NLHE tournament at the Borgata.
Like I said earlier this week, I'm pretty sure I'm dead money. I'd like to think I know what I'm doing, but I have no doubt that I will get soundly outplayed. In fact, given my current financial situation, I'm almost tempted to sell my seat. Almost. The poker player in me can't pass up an opportunity to play in a tournament with players way above my skill-level, just as a short of measuring stick for where I'm at. Plus, at this point, the tournament is basically a freeroll. Sure, I paid $90 for my seat, but that was three months ago. That money is loooooooooong gone.
My primary goal is to make it to dinner (free buffet!), which will be after Level 6. I went to B&N on Monday to read up a little bit, and everything I read and heard from other players suggests that Level 5 (200/400/50) is where the going starts to get really tough. I need a game plan to make sure that I've accumulated enough chips by then so that I don't get ground down. I know what the danger will be -- that, faced with a tournament that is fifteen times as big a buy-in as any I've ever played, I'll start off way too tight and way too cautious, and by the time I need to open up, it'll be too late, unless the deck starts hitting me over the head.
For me, then, the issue becomes choosing when and where to be aggressive. I've been working on my aggression for the last week, both with the Above Malibu Co. and online. I like where it's at right now, I just wonder if it'll be enough to get me through to dinner. The only other question then would be "Should I raise with the Hammer?"
Tuesday, September 14, 2004
At the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. See the green box at right for all of the appropriate details.
Monday, September 13, 2004
Poker Vacation - Ten days off from poker was just what I needed. I've posted several modest wins, including second place in two SnGs, since I got back from Maui. I've mentioned before that losing can often breed more losing for me, since I have a tendency to "tighten up". Sometimes the best remedy is to simply step away for a few days.
I think I'm in the right frame of mind heading into Thursday's $1500 NL tournament at the Borgata (more on that below). I'm realistic about my shot at swimming through the field to the money -- not likely -- but I'm going to give it my best effort, which is all I can ask for.
NYC Poker Room Reviews - I know, it's been a while since my last review. The problem is that I haven't had time. I was travelling the last two weeks, and this week will be taken up by interviews, the Borgata Poker Open, and a friend's bachelor party. My plan is to try to review my next room sometime next week.
The Andy Bloch Project - Back in February, when I was living in LA, I had the pleasure of attending a home game in Hollywood hosted by none other than WPT pro and former MIT card counter Andy Bloch. Andy is an extremely nice guy. The game was populated by LA lawyers (like me, Andy is an Ivy League-educated lawyer), and it turns out that he had formerly dated a friend of mine when they were both at MIT, which is how I got invited to the game. But that's not the point.
I like Andy, so from time to time I check in on him. As I was browsing his personal website last night, I came across a link to something called The Andy Bloch Project. In short, it's a hand-by-hand recap, including hole cards, of Andy's performance at the 1997 WSOP main event, complete with comments by Andy. It's an interesting read and glimpse into the mind and game of a successful poker pro.
Borgata Poker Open - This week, finally! It started on Saturday with the $1000 NL event. Spotted in attendance: Men the Master, Brian Haveson, Mike Matusow. I've been searching for the results, but they don't seem to have hit the web yet. Anyway, it is now almost 100% likely that I will be in AC all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as the $1500 event is Thursday and a friend's bachelor party is Friday. Anybody who is going to be around on Thursday or Friday should drop me an email at asphnxma1 at hotmail dot com so we can set up a shared meal or something.
Saturday, September 11, 2004
Prometheus, teacher of every art, brought the fire that hath proved to man a means to mighty ends.
Three years ago, New York woke up and had a very bad day. Like many others, I spent most of that day frantically trying to get cell phone reception so I could figure out who was alive and who was dead. Given that I had previously worked on the 89th floor of 1 WTC, and that it appeared from television images that one plane had flown directly through my former office, I had ample reason to fear the worst, even before the towers collapsed.
Although it was touch and go for over 12 hours, I made contact with everybody in the end and miraculously lost no one. Many others weren't as lucky as me, weren't as lucky as the people I was concerned about. They lost friends, relatives, co-workers -- people who were important to them, people who were taken from them without warning.
It's true that life can be capricious and whimsical on any given day, but on that particular day, life's whimsy was downright cruel. That's why, for the third year in a row, I'm choosing to spend the day just connecting with the people around me, so they can know how much I appreciate and value them. That includes various members of the poker blogging community and the larger "blogosphere". Some of you I knew before I started blogging, some I've come to know afterwards, and some I know only from your writings, but you're all important to me in various different ways.
Thank you for being my friends, thank you for being interested in what I have to write, and thank you for expressing yourselves here from time to time.
Thursday, September 09, 2004
Despite the temptation to 1) not get on the plane from Maui to LAX, and 2) not get on the plane from LAX to JFK, I'm back in the City That Never Sleeps. I had a great time in Maui, but now it's time to shape up for the Borgata Poker Open. We may have to organize some sort of blogger get-together on one of the days. I'm trying to convince Pauly and Ugarte to make the sojourn on Thursday with me. My understanding is that Iggy will be arriving in AC on Thursday, the day of the $1500 NL event that Double As and I are both playing in. Also, two other members of Above Malibu qualified for events. Mullansky won a single-table sat for the $1000 NL event this Saturday (9/11), and JCatz won a single-table sat for the $2500 NL event next Friday (9/17). Given that I have to be in AC on Thursday and Fri-to-Sat for a bachelor party, I'll probably just stay down there all three days.
Anybody else going to be in AC that weekend?