[I am woefully behind on my blog email. If you've sent me an email within the last week, please be patient! I hope to knock of all the outstanding emails tomorrow.]
Last week, in Razz Bracelet Race No. 1, I finished a disappointing 49th out of 169. It was disappointing because, even though I had no illusions about winning, I felt I was better than my 49th rank indicated and that I had run into some short-term bad luck. Over the weekend, I played a $20 razz MTT that had 27 players and finished 7th. I actually came into the final table of that one as the chip leader, but the chips were so evenly spread that the "leader" designation was mostly meaningless. With high blinds, catching a few bricks was all it took to send me packing.
Yesterday's tournament, then, would mark razz MTT number three for me, and I was looking to improve on another "top 25%" finish. By catching a little short-term luck, I did just that, but it wasn't quite enough to propel me into the WSOP. When I needed it most, my luck ran out.
Things started off slowly, but I managed to build my starting T1500 to T2000. At that point, a new player was moved to our table and he started running it over. He was catching lots of low doorcards, completing all of them, and calling or raising all the way to the river -- and getting there, more often than not. It was pretty amazing to watch, as he took his stack from 1500 to 11,000 in the span of two or three orbits, while the table tightened up and waited to try to snap him off. I was on the wrong side of the last hand that pushed him to 11,000, when I made four to a 6 on fourth street. He had four to an 8, and we had a guy trapped between us who had no business being in the hand (but called all bets anyway, including the river). I caught a 9 on fifth to his Q and was still ahead when we both bricked on sixth, but when he led out the river and I hadn't improved, I had a strong suspicion I was beat. The pot was too big to fold, though. He did indeed make his 8 on the river, and just like that my stack went from 2,000 to under 200.
Two hands later, desperate and short on chips, I completed all-in with 7-6 / 7. It folded around to a 2 to the right of the bring-in, who pondered for quite some time before calling with 2-9 / 2. I survived, and then caught a rush of my own to build my stack back up to 4,000.
Things progressed to the final table. Average stack was about 18k; I had 16k and was sixth in chips. The big stack had 27k, limits 800/1600 with an ante of 150. With 10 big bets in front of me, I had a small margin for error. I just played what I believe to be solid razz, caught a few good hands that didn't brick, and when we got down to the bubble (5 players, limits 1200/2400/200), I was second in chips with 46.5k to the chip leader's 47.5k. The bubble boy was eliminated in the next level (1500/3000/250), and we were in the money. Stack sizes:
It was around this time that Dr. Pauly made his presence known. Apparently he had been tipped off by Guns that I was in position to win a WSOP seat. I'm not sure how long Guns had been sweating me; I didn't even know he was on the rail until much, much later. Anyway, Dr. Pauly announced his presence by typing into the chat:
Dr. Pauly: u better win this
Any diehard baseball fan knows that the prevailing superstition in baseball, when a pitcher is in the middle of throwing a no-hitter, is that you don't talk about the no-hitter. I immediately told Pauly to "shush", but couldn't help but feel that I was jinxed. Sure enough, no sooner said than I turned into the Third Little Pig, building my house brick by brick. Meanwhile, the guy in second place starting catching everything. And I mean, EVERYthing. Tons of low doorcards, beautiful boards through fifth street, etc. Every time I played back at him, I bricked. Every time I tried to play the bring-in against him (which you have to do more in shorthanded razz than you otherwise might), I bricked. It was awful. The third place player fared no better, and complained that "a monkey could win this tournament with the upcards he's getting".
We did manage to eliminate the short stack eventually, but all the bricks were catching up to me and I became the new shorty. With blinds getting higher, and the big stack out there pushing us around, I had to be careful about what hands I completed. Here's what Dr. Pauly had to say about this stage of the tournament:
F Train was the chip leader until I showed up. I guess you can call me "the cooler" because he went from first to last. He even made a comment that he didn't start catching bricks until I showed up.
Seriously, F Train is a sadist. Insane. I could never put myself through that type of torture. Oh wait, I've walked down that road to insanity before, after all I did date a neurotic valium-popping actress once. Talk about getting kicked in the junk on a daily basis.
When it was three handed, F Train had his last 8k in front of him. With $500 antes and the blinds at 4k/8k, he made a heroic stand and survived a big hand to double up.
That double was pretty big, and actually came right before the limits moved to 4k/8k, as I rememember remarking "good time for a double" because the limits had just increased. It was an interesting hand; the second place stack decided to get frisky with a marginal hand against my fairly solid hand. I guess he decided to "make a stand of his own", as I felt he had been playing waaaaaaay too tight for three-handed razz. The loss of that hand only seemed to tighten him further, and slowly but surely, I chipped up while he chipped down, until he was eliminated by the big stack.
Stack sizes at that point: me -- 38.3k, him 101.6k Ugly, huh? Like I said, he caught everything. I caught nothing. That continued as we started heads-up play (5000/10000/1000). I had four big bets. No room for error, little room for bricks. But bricks were what I got, and they ground me down again. I was under 20k, we got it all in when I had A-6 / J and made a 7 to chip back up to where we started. Then came the final hand.
He completed the bring-in with a 4 against my ace. I had 3-6 / A. I knew this had to be -the- hand, but rather than raise him on third, I decided to wait until fourth. I thought I might have a tad more folding equity that way, especially if he had a bad one underneath. Wouldn't you know it, four street came x-x-4-5, 3-6 / A-Q. Another brick! What to do... fuck it, I thought, let's ride this puppy out to the river, sink or swim. Either I would double up and we'd be even in chips, or I'd be out.
Fifth street was looking good: x-x-4-5-9 to 3-6 / A-Q-5. I made my stand and we got it all-in. He exposed 6-3 for a made 9 with a draw to a 6. I had a better draw to a 6 with a Q. Interestingly, twodimes puts this hand at almost dead even:
2686320 samples required, using 500,000 sample simulation.
pokenum -mc 500000 -r 6d 3d 4h 5d 9s - 6s 3c ac qc 5s
Razz (7-card Stud A-5 Low): 500000 sampled outcomes
cards win %win lose %lose tie %tie EV
9s 6d 5d 3d 4h 244261 48.85 247635 49.53 8104 1.62 0.497
6s 5s Ac Qc 3c 247635 49.53 244261 48.85 8104 1.62 0.503
No luck for me, though. He caught an 8 and a 3 for an 8-6, while I caught running queens. He won the $2000 WSOP prize ($1500 seat and $500 cash) while I won the booby prize of $140.
So close! I caught my share of luck in this one, no doubt, but I really wanted that seat. If this hand goes the other way, who knows how the tournament ends. We'd be even in chips, both with only 7 big bets. It would have been anybody's tournament... oh well. Maybe next time.
Friday, April 29, 2005
[I am woefully behind on my blog email. If you've sent me an email within the last week, please be patient! I hope to knock of all the outstanding emails tomorrow.]
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Post coming tomorrow, but an immediate big shoutout to Dr. Pauly, Glyphic, Bad Blood and New York's own Ben Waxman for sweating the final table and doing their damndest to prevent the bricks from coming. Even though, ultimately, they did.
Too much to write about, not enough time in my lunch hour. I guess I'll have to pick just one thing for now. Ugarte (aka "Lil Buddy") is making me do some sort of a meme. I believe the assignment is to "name five things that people with whom I generally associate think are really cool, but that leave me cold".
1) Fondue - Every so often I get invitations to "fondue nights", whether they be at someone's home or a restaurant. A flurry of email responses follow, discussing how great fondue is, how much the respondent loves fondue, and how the respondent will be sure to be there (wherever "there" is) with bells on. None of those responses come from me, however. I usually respond how I would rather spend 14 hours locked in a broom closet with a flatulent, chain-smoking marmoset than get anywhere near the stench of a bubbling fondue pot.
2) Strip clubs - I'm probably going to take a bit of heat for this selection. I mean, I like T&A, don't get me wrong. I like T&A quite a bit. What I don't like are glitter, vanilla-scented anything, and blue balls. Especially when the approximate cost of those three items is the equivalent of a round-trip plane ticket to Los Angeles (not to mention the usual lost prospect of an evening of intelligent conversation). Now, maybe I'm jaded because (wait for it, Ferrari...) I dated a stripper for a year and got to see clubs from the other side, but that doesn't change the fact that $200 is a steep chunk of cash to pay for sexual frustration. I can get that for free by watching late-night cable at home.
3) Text messages - I swear by quite a few of the technological marvels that the Information Age has given us: email, IM, and mobile phones. I think being in touch with people, especially friends, especially close friends, is generally A Good Thing. That's why I feel that, if the phone is already IN YOUR HANDS, that maybe you should just punch in the number of that friend you were just about to text and CALL him/her. I mean, it's less keystrokes, right? And the being-in-touch-ness is more direct and ultimately more satisfying, even if the call is just about directions to a nearby restaurant for smelly fondue.
4) Rounders - Many, many of my friends are poker players. Most of them can probably quote Rounders start to finish. Many of them probably own the Special Edition DVD with Phil "the Brat" Hellmuth and Johnny "Fuckin'" Chan's commentary. I think this movie is one of the worst piles of dog crap released in the last ten years (Mission to Mars notwithstanding). Yes, they "got the poker right". Whoopty freaking doo. Too bad they didn't bother to get the acting, writing or directing right. The same guy who wrote this movie was responsible for "TILT" on ESPN, and we saw how long that lasted, right?
I won't go so far as to call Rounder the Worst. Movie. Ever., but it's pretty bad, and I've never understood why so many poker players pop a chub over it.
5) Respecto Montalban - Several of these guys are funny individuals, and I personally like all of them, but I have never seen them have a "good" show. Yet for some reason, the entire theater community treats them like the second coming of Del Close. You want to watch some really great teams? Try catching Baby Wants Candy or WeirDass at this year's Del Close Marathon.
I'm going to be kind and put this meme out to pasture by not passing it on to anyone else. Consider yourselves fortunate, people-that-I-might-have-passed-this-on-to.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
(AKA Kick Yourself in the Junk Night)
"Save yourself the calories."
--Ugarte conceding a pot to Signor Ferrari after making a pair of exposed jacks on fifth street.
It take a lot to get me in a bad mood, but Razz will do it. A bad mood is part of Razz.
I've been playing razz with some degree of consistency for several weeks now, and I'm generally a fairly level-headed poker player, but never have I had a more frustrating individual session of poker (spanning my 14 years of playing various forms of poker) than the razz session at the Blue Parrot last night. Reviewing the notes that I took on a pad provided by Joel, they look like this:
A-5 / 3 : brick, brick
A-6 / 3 : brick, brick
3-7 / 6 : brick
A-4 / 6 : brick, brick
A-2 / 4 : brick
A-3 / K-8 (got free fourth street) : brick
I could go on, but I think I've made my point. There were also the fantastic starters that I never seem to get dealt in Stud or Stud-8: hidden queens, jacks, and aces; split aces, kings and queens; oh and let's not forget the rolled up 7s or the rolled up kings. My hands were either spectacularly bad, or bricked up in a hurry. Ferrari and I could have opened our own masonry shop and been doing gangbusters business.
Yes, it's true -- I wasn't the only one on this ill-fated three-hour tour. Joining me, in order around the table, were:
Gilligan (Ugarte) -- "Lil Buddy" has all the dexterity of a Parkinson's sufferer getting off a Tilt-a-Whirl. Watching him shuffle cards is usually worth the price of admission. Except last night. Nothing was worth the misery that we collectively endured last night. Christ had a better time on the cross.
The Professor (Nader) -- first timer at the Blue Parrot, the mathematics professor somehow managed to avoid the bricks and seemed to take to razz. He was the least grumpy dwarf by the time we called it a night.
The Skipper (Ferrari) -- Contrary to popular opinion, I was not at the helm of this disastrous evening. It was all Ferrari: his idea, his organization, and his hosting. Anybody whose junk is still numb this morning has Ferrari to thank. The karmic retribution was watching him tilt like AlCantHang trying to get that last drop of SoCo out of the bottle after he bricked repeatedly and flopped massive draws in Omaha Hi/Lo that never got there.
Maryann? (Joel) -- I just couldn't fit Joel into any of the other characters to make this silly little analogy work for everyone, and I'm really sorry for that. I'm very grateful for the pad that he gave me for notetaking, though. Interestingly enough, he didn't really complain about razz, though he certainly snagged his share of bricks.
Millionaire's Wife (Om) -- Totally got fucked by The Millionaire. Om deserved a better fate. He was the first of us to totally go out of his fucking gourd and was begging, nay pleading that we change the game as early as 9:30.
The Millionaire (Arthur) -- Arthur is not actually a millionaire. He's just a guy from Brooklyn that Ferrari hooked up with via the power of the internet. And watching him play razz, I'm quite sure he never played the game before. Yet somehow, he managed to brick up the least while playing the most hands (king doorcards, etc.) and had amassed a massive stack, mostly at Om's expense, by the time Ferrari took mercy on us all and concurred that we should switch to dealer's choice.
Last but not least...
The Movie Star (Dr. Pauly) -- I have never, ever seen Pauly in such a foul mood. I've seen him drop a few buy-ins at the Blue Parrot and take it with a smile and a shrug, but last night he looked like he had gone a few weeks without partaking of any mind-altering substances, and everyone knows how happy that makes a true junkie. It got so bad that when Ferrari sucked out a two-outer against him in holdem, Pauly flat out lost it and snapped at him a little bit. Not in a ranting, Hellmuthian kind of way, but the Doctor was not his usual bundle of cheery goodness, and it showed.
I think the moral of this story is that it really takes a special person to both enjoy razz and persevere through the sadism that is razz. Trying to teach the game to three people who had never played it before, and trying to bring the game to two or three others who were familiar with it but didn't have much exposure to it, was about as good an idea as attending your ex-girlfriend's wedding. Nobody needs that.
I suspect it will be a long, long time before razz is ever allowed back in the door at the Blue Parrot. I think I'm probably lucky my credit is still good there.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
Attempt No. 2 to get into the WSOP ended in 61st place out of 78. I don't really regret my play in this one. I was at a very, very tight table and was stealing liberally, but still couldn't get any action for my big hands. On the final hand, badblood raised my big blind from 50 to 200 in the CO. I had a strong suspicion he was stealing, since he had raised from the CO just about every time, so I reraised him to 600 (starting stacks about 3400 for him, 2100 for me). He called, so I was thinking maybe I had to give him credit for a medium pair or a big ace. When I flopped top pair with a pair of tens, I pushed. Unfortunately, he hit the same pair of tens with a bigger kicker (a jack) and a flush draw. IGHN.
For what it's worth, my kicker was a 2. Yep, I popped him back with T2s and then pushed with it. I don't really regret my play here at all. Was it uber-aggressive? Hell yes. But in an 80-person tourney where only two spots get paid, if you're not uber-aggressive, you better pray that the deck hits you over the head. Otherwise, you're just wasting your time.
Not only that, but at a really tight table like the one I was at, a big stack could do some serious damage. So, no regrets. I took a gamble and got caught. It happens.
[This is the first in an occassional series of razz strategy posts. Anybody who actually deigns to read the drivel that follows the disclaimer should know that my knowledge of razz is limited to several readings of the razz chapter in Sklansky on Poker and my own deductions based on playing razz on Full Tilt. All posts will assume that readers understand the basic rules of the game.]
I read somewhere once that if holdem is a game of patience, razz is a game of hibernation. I don't think that's necessarily true, but it is a game that takes buckets more of emotional discipline -- and a game that, right now, is infinitely more captivating for me. In an effort to bring razz to more people, I've decided to start a series of posts sharing my (limited) razz knowledge. Today, I want to talk about starting hand requirements and dead cards.
Your first major decision in razz comes as soon as your hand has been dealt. Assuming you're not the bring-in, you have a decision to fold, call or complete/raise. Generally speaking, you don't want to be playing anything worse than a three-card eight. That is, if your hand doesn't consist of three unique cards ranked eight or lower, you should generally fold. It is rare that a hand worse than an eight-high wins the pot, so generally you want to give yourself the best chance to win by starting with three good cards. That said,
3-8 / 2
is a much more powerful hand than
3-2 / 8
and it should be pretty obvious why. Razz is very much a game of strong boards. The stronger (lower) your board is, the more pressure you can apply to your opponent. A three-card eight with the eight exposed is much weaker than a three-card eight with the eight hidden, because if the eight is exposed, your opponent will know for a certainty on fifth street that you can't have anything better than a made eight. This may encourage him to draw against you (to a seven, for example) when he might otherwise fold.
Obviously, if you only played three-card eights, you'd be bleeding quite a bit in antes and bring-ins and would give your opponents a pretty easy line on your play. Sklansky suggests an easy way to mix up your play is to attempt to steal the antes with a two-card eight or better. For example, let's say you have
2-J / 3
A king brings it in before a deuce, a queen, a nine and a ten all fold to you. Behind you are an ace and a nine. You might try to complete the bring-in here in the hope that everyone folds and you can steal the antes. In the typical structured razz game, you are risking 1 small bet to win 1.85 small bets, with the added luxury that if the ace calls you, and you catch a baby to his bad one on fourth street, he is almost certainly going to fold. If you're at a table where players are more likely to call you, you shouldn't steal as frequently, for the simple reasons that you know you will almost always get action on your good hands. Otherwise, this can be an easy way to at least maintain pace with the blinds and antes until you pick up better hands that (hopefully) don't brick up and you can take to a showdown.
What if you have a three-card eight and someone has completed the bring-in? Generally speaking, you should raise, and there are a few reasons for this. 1) If you suspect they are stealing, then you have the better hand and are getting good pot equity on every additional dollar in the pot. 2) Even if you don't have the better hand, you want to discourage other marginal hands from seeing fourth street. 3) If you catch a baby on fourth street to their bad one, you will probably induce a fold.
Once again, I want to stress that not all three-card eights are created equal. A
7-8 / 6
is generally a pretty marginal hand, especially if there are lots of low cards already out. Be careful how you play hands like this. They do have potential if you draw into a strong board, but it's limited potential.
If razz is a game of strong boards, it's also a game of dead cards. Unlike holdem, where you will only ever know, at most, six cards when forced to make a decision, in razz you might have seen 13 cards by fifth street, and retaining memory of these cards is critical in the decision-making process as whether to bet, raise, call or fold. It even comes into play as early as third street. A hand like
A-4 / 6
while generally a pretty strong starting hand in its own right, is made even stronger if other players are showing K, 9, A, 4, 4, 6 and T as their doorcards. In such a situation, it is less likely that you will make a pair (hidden or exposed) and more likely that you will draw into cards that complete your hand. Consider instead, the same example
A-4 / 6
where your opponents are showing K, 9, 2, 3, 3, 2 and 5 as their doorcards. Half your cards to a six are already dead. This doesn't mean that you should throw away your hand just yet, but you should understand it's not nearly as strong as it appears at first blush.
"But asphnxma," you say, "how on earth can I remember all these dead cards?"
In the beginning, I think it's easiest to focus on cards that almost always factor into the decision-making process: cards ranked 8 or below. As soon as the hand is dealt, note everyone's door card. If it's a 9 or higher, don't worry about it. Otherwise, try to note the cards in order, and repeat them to yourself in your head. For example, let's say the door cards go like this: J, 8, 4, J, T, 4, A, 3. I would look around the table, ignore the ten and the two jacks, and formulate the dead cards like this: A 3 4 4 8 and would repeat that to myself once or twice. Ordering the information this way makes it easier for your brain to process it and hopefully retain it. After third street, if you're still in the hand, it's much easier to keep track of dead cards, because if the hand is not heads up, it will be pretty soon. Rare is the hand of razz that is played three-handed past fourth street, unless you're playing with total donkeys (quite common at the lower limit tables on Full Tilt, by the way).
There are times when knowing that the ten, jack and jack are dead would be helpful, but I think that those may be more "advanced" stages of razz. Since beginners are generally only going to play three-card eights or better, it's safe to ignore those high cards in the beginning. The point is, knowing which cards are dead, combined with the board of your opponents, combined with your own hand, will make certain decisions on later streets easier to make. Either your cards are live, or they're not.
It can be pretty frustrating to keep folding hand after hand in razz, or to start with a good hand and catch a brick on fourth street (a topic to be covered in my next razz post). Discipline is key, though, because a bad starting hand is a bad starting hand -- there's no flop that will magically turn 8-K / T into the nuts. Combine discipline with attention to dead cards and the chips will eventually start sliding your way.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
Well, I finished 49th out of 169 (!) in the bracelet race on Full Tilt tonight. As this was my first ever razz multi-table tournament, I didn't expect to win, but I was hoping to do a little better. Still, after just this one tournament, I can now fully appreciate the pained expressions on all of the players' faces at last year's WSOP event. This game is just brutal.
I really wish I could write up the roller coaster ride that was my tournament, but as we all know, Full Tilt does not provide hand histories. HDouble assures me that they're coming... some day. I do know this: I was down to the felt at least four times, winning three of them (the third on a total suckout). I got chopped off at the river, in pretty large pots, five times in 1h45m. That is, each time I was ahead going into the river, and I even improved on one or two of them, but five times my opponent improved to a better hand. Obviously, these weren't strong hands on sixth street -- made 8s and 9s, one 7-6-5, things like that -- and some of my opponents were drawing pretty live against me. If I could have won just one or two of them, though... (and I assure you, I did not catch up at the river five times.)
I can think of two hands that ultimately sunk me. One in roughly Level 8, where my 6-5 went down to a 6-4 (for about 60% of my stack) and the other just before I busted, where I started with a three-card six, played fourth street perfectly in a three-handed pot to make it two bets to the high card (queen), yet couldn't shake him. He ultimately caught up to me on the river. I did make a few river mistakes -- betting into people who I knew were drawing at hands that could beat me (and they did) -- and I called on sixth street one time drawing dead. Clearly, there's lots of room for improvement.
I saw some staggeringly bad play, but there was more good play than I expected. Nerd was right - these fields are not easy. He and I were at the same table for the last few levels of each of our tournaments; he went out right after me, in 45th place.
I'm disappointed, but I don't think I can complain. It was my first razz tourney, after all, and at the least, I outlasted three of the four "pros" in the tournament (Perry Friedman, Phil Gordon, and Layne Flack). Doesn't mean anything, really, but I'll take some small solace where I can find it.
Attempt No. 2: Sunday's WPBT satellite.
[By the way, as an addendum to this post, anybody who wants their brain fried should read an old article by Howard Lederer on a "simple" hand of razz.]
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
I need to start carrying around a pad. I'm forever thinking of topics that I think would make interesting poker posts and then forgetting them. It's most unfortunate, especially for anybody who tries to wade through the morass of my posts.
I've been sitting the 1/2 razz game the last few nights on Full Tilt, as higher limits haven't been available. Geez. You want to talk about shooting fish in a barrel... these people have absolutely no clue how to play the game. I mean, none. And unlike holdem, razz isn't really a game where you can luck into the winning hand. It happens, of course, but the soul-crushing suckouts are not nearly as common as they are in holdem. I really wish the higher limits were populated more often, as the play (tho still not great) is at least somewhat better than 1/2.
43 people are currently signed up for the WPBT WSOP satellite. I'm putting the over/under on total players at 86. I think the winner of the satellite should buy an article of WPBT clothing (hat, shirt, whatever) from Maudie's store and sport that at the actual WSOP event.
Speaking of satellites, I've been looking at these "bracelet race" satellites on Full Tilt this week. They've been averaging about 100 players per satellite (at $24+2) and thus paying five places -- one $2,000 seat and four booby prizes. This seems to me like an appealing way to try to win a seat for one of the smaller events, especially since they're spreading a range of games instead of the usual all-NLHE-all-the-time.
To that end, I also thought the notion of winning a seat by first playing a $4 + .40 single-table satellite to the satellite was somewhat "romantic" (in a poker sense, me being a poker geek and all) so I plopped down at one last night. Predictably, half the table was gone within 15-20 hands. I did manage to get it heads up, but my opponent had a brain and a 3-to-1 chip advantage on me. I whittled his lead down to 2-to-1, then it started to slip away again and as the blinds were not pressing us very hard, I got bored and went all-in over the top of his preflop raise with an ace. He called with a suited king-deuce and rivered a flush. C'est la vie. I netted $5.60 (second place was $10).
Then I realized - asphnxma, you dolt, the satellite is $24+2. Just sit 1/2 razz for 20 minutes and you'll have your buy-in. So, I did that, and half an hour later, I had my buy-in, with nary a soul crushing suckout to be seen.
Keep sending good thoughts to Felicia.
I've blogged about this before, but I need to mention it again. Why is it, whenever I have a poker dream, I'm always getting murdered by some unfathomable bad beat? Last night, it was flopping quad tens in the final stages of a limit holdem MTT, only to watch my opponent catch runner-runner aces for quad aces. I never have a poker dream that ends with me being on the long end of the stick.
Ok, enough inanity for now. When I remember what I wanted to post about, it'll show up here.
Sunday, April 17, 2005
A couple of mistakes from last week:
Hand No. 1
This hand needs some backstory. When I first sat down at the table, I was playing fairly tight and was somewhat card dead. This meant, of course, that I wasn't playing many hands. I finally got bored and raised two limpers out of the small blind with Q5o. The big blind and one limper called, and when they both called a 2/3 pot bet on a K-J-x flop, I was done with the hand. The BB, who I had already marked as somewhat weak (for example, she bet bottom pair on the turn into a board that had checked through on the flop by betting $7 into a $35 pot), showed a pair of kings at the river.
After the hand, she commented that she was very afraid I had her beat, because I hadn't been playing many hands. I remarked that "it was pretty easy to throw my hand away after you both called the flop" (ha!) and she said she still had been worried. I made a note of it and filed it away with her tight-weak tendencies.
Back to the hand in question. I was in the small blind. It folded around to the button, and just as I was about to offer the big blind a chop, the button limped in. Aiyah. I called without checking my hand, and then the BB (the same tight-weak player) went and raised to $10. In for a penny... the button and I both called.
The flop was 7-8-8. Interesting. I checked to the big blind, who bet $20. The button folded, and I now decided it was an excellent time to outplay the big blind. Taking a page out of DoubleAs book, I called the flop bet. I knew that would put the fear of God in the big blind.
The turn was a 6, and also put two spades on board. I checked again, and true to form, the BB bet $20, a rather weak bet into a $70 pot. Since she seemed so afraid of me, I check-raised to $50. She thought about it, and then called. Huh. I guess I better check my hand...
Not terrible, but probably behind.
The river was an offsuit queen, giving me top pair. Here's where I think I screwed up. I attempted to bluff by making a value bet of $30, thinking she'd recognize it for a value bet and fold. The problem was that the big blind had called my raise from $20 to $50 on the turn, and with $200 in the pot, she almost HAD to call a $30 river bet, even if it did look like a value bet. She called and turned up AA. Oops.
I think I should have bet $100 on the river.
After the hand, she started to tell me what a dangerous hand AQo is too play. I shut her up real good when I told her I hadn't looked at my hand until after the turn. We had other conversation during the night, but never got involved in a heads up hand after that.
Hand No. 2
I was stuck almost $200 and had $132 in front of me, when I caught AA two off the button. Two limpers to me and I made the table-standard raise to $12. The button slid four red chips out without a declaration; I don't know if he meant to raise or not, but the dealer made him put out an additional two whites for the minimum legal raise. The big blind called, and a loose-passive player UTG, wearing a half-buttoned Hawaiian shirt (the top half, of course, so that his massive gut could hang out the bottom half) also called. Action came back to me and I had to remind the dealer that I hadn't called as she swept the chips into the pot and prepared to deal a flop.
I said "Raise" and debated how much. I peeled two reds off my stack for the call and put them in the pot. I was left with $110. With $88 already in the pot, and everyone having a bigger stack than me, I think I should have just pushed. The problem was, I hated the idea of scaring off ALL the action. I settled on a raise of an additional $50.
Call. Call. Call. Are you fucking kidding me? What the hell do these guys have?
Almost $300 in the pot pre-flop, and the flop came down 4-Q-2, rainbow. Of course, my last $60 went in. The button and the big blind both called and checked down offsuit 7 and 9 on the turn and river. I turned up my AA, asking "Anyone got a set?" Nobody did. The button showed TT(?) and the big blind never showed.
Clear mistake here. I should have pushed pre-flop. I got lucky that my AA held up and more than tripled me up, but I should have pushed. Even if nobody called, I still would have netted almost $70.
Saturday, April 16, 2005
[Ed. note: This is the eighth 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.]
[June-1-2005: Club was raided by the NYPD and is CLOSED.]
With the New York Post stealing my thunder last week, I decided it was time to step it up and write another review. A club on the Upper West Side had long been on my list of places to go, but because the Upper West Side isn't on my way to anywhere, the review had been pushed off for several months. When SoxLover caught me online playing in a razz SNG on Full Tilt last week, it set off a chain of events that culminated in our sitting at the same table Wednesday night at the Upper West Side club.
It had been a long time since SoxLover and I were at the same table. He's a guy who used to participate in a law school home game with me, but over the course of the last year those home game have sort of disintegrated. SoxLover has been keeping up his live game skills by playing quite a bit at one of NYC's most popular (and oldest) rooms, but figured he could stand to broaden his horizons.
We met at 7pm on Wednesday, grabbed a greasy burger and a beer, and then headed to the club. It was located in a large pre-war building, the type that typifies most of the Upper West Side, right above an OTB parlor (for you out-of-towners, that's "Off Track Betting"). Convenient, I guess -- if your luck's not running well on the river, you can always come downstairs and try the ponies. Of course, you'll have to deal with the homeless guys, alcoholics, and general derelicts that reek of piss who frequent OTB parlors, but at least you have a chance to recoup your losses.
There was a fairly steady stream of people coming in and out of the club's building. We followed a young guy in a baseball cap and a fairly young woman in a heavy jacket in through the front door, up one flight of stairs and through a fire door. A windowed, double door -- metal grill over the outside of the window, curtains hanging on the inside of the window -- on the left side of the hallway sported a "Members Only!" sign. We made our way through a tiny vestibule to a second door, on which a sign instructed delivery men that they were required to wait in the vestibule. We ignored it and passed through a second door into the club.
A small lounge opened in front of us, furnished with a few couches and a large screen television. There were windows set in the walls, but large-slatted blinds were drawn over all of them. To either side of the lounge, arches led into larger rooms that were set up with six poker tables each, making the club, by NYC standards, on the larger side. What made it more impressive was that all twelve tables had games going.
A dry erase board on the far wall announced the games that were spread: 1-2 NLHE, 5-5 NLHE, 4-8 limit holdem, 75-150 stud, and a few other medium and large stakes games. People were constantly streaming to and fro; it felt like we were standing in the center of Grand Central Station. A frazzled guy at the front desk told us that he didn't have any 1-2 seats, so we should put our names on the dry erase board. We did, and then SoxLover suggested we sit 4-8 while waiting. We racked up $200 in chips each and sat down.
As soon as I posted for my first hand, the guy from the front desk came over and erased our names from the 1-2 list. When we protested, he claimed he had called us but we hadn't answered. Um, yeah. I'll admit it was loud in that room - 60 people talking and clacking chips will do that - but I don't think it was THAT loud. We picked up our chips and moved to Table 11, where two seats had supposedly opened. The only problem was that there was only one seat. Hmm. SoxLover told me to take it and wound up seated at a different 1-2 table in the back corner of the room.
Already, my impression was that the club was a bit out of control. That is, it was great that there were 120 people spread across the club's two rooms playing cards, but the person responsible for running it was clearly overwhelmed. This opinion didn't change when I saw the quality of dealers that began pushing into the box at my table. One of them was so bad that she made at least four separate mistakes in one push!
Generally, I'm not the type to complain about dealers. I have a tremendous amount of patience and can usually let most of these things roll off my back. Even I found myself a little flustered by several of the dealers, though. Too many mistakes were made, and even when mistakes weren't being made, several of the dealers didn't seem at all interested in staying on top of the action and/or the pot. Not all of them, obviously - we did have one or two very good dealers that pushed in. The problem, I think, is that the club is a victim of its own success - with 12 tables going on a Wednesday night, they need at least 12 dealers (preferably more). Perhaps it's difficult to find 12 highly qualified dealers.
There were no chip runners, either. I don't know if the club didn't have any up dealers that night, or doesn't have them generally, but when SoxLover asked for a rebuy, his dealer laughed and told him he'd have to go rebuy himself at the front desk. That's not the biggest problem in the world, but it's one of those "little things" that can be the difference between a good experience and a great one.
Another one of those "little things" is the bathroom. Again, I'm not really the pickiest person about these things. I expect the bathroom to be clean, with a minimal level of privacy. Neither of those was accomplished by the club's bathroom, which was located in the common hallway outside the front door of the club. I know it's a pre-war building, and the owners of the club have to work with what they're given, but I think the next time I'm there I'd rather piss my pants than use that bathroom again.
At least the snack and soft drink service was up to speed.
Here's the thing of it - all the negatives are outweighed, I think, by the action. You will never want for a game or a table at this club. In fact, with twelve tables, it's larger than some casino poker rooms I've played in. The atmosphere is much more "Rounders", much less "a bunch of guys sitting in a room playing cards" that is sometimes the case at some of the other NYC rooms. If you're looking for a true underground poker room "experience", checking this room out wouldn't be a bad idea. I definitely had a good time while I was there; it helped that I walked away a winner.
Does the club walk away a winner? Let's see:
Location: The location of the club isn't terrible. It's practically on top of the 1/2/3/9 subway station at 72nd Street, making it relatively accessible both for West Side residents and for tourists (one stop south on the 2/3 is Times Square). For folks who live in Brooklyn and/or live or work on the East Side, it's a bit more difficult to get to.
Hours: Got me. At 8pm, the place was packed. I imagine it's the type of place that opens at 1 in the afternoon and stays open until the last table breaks at 6am the next morning.
Club Atmosphere: Tons of activity, tons of people, tons of chips going clickety-clack. There were even a few women players sprinkled into the crowd. Of all of the clubs I've been to in New York, this is the one that comes closest to feeling like a casino poker room while still retaining the elements that make it feel like an underground NYC club.
Quality of Play: Seemed a bit better than other clubs I've been to. I imagine there are more "sharks" infesting the waters of this club, since it has such a large playerbase. Still, there's not much to worry about at 1-2. There were still plenty of soft targets at the table.
Tournament Structure: Unknown.
Cash Games: The lowest limit seemed to be 4-8, but they had all kinds of games: stud, rotation, limit holdem, no-limit holdem. There might even have been an Omaha game. For people who are interested in more than just 1-2 NLHE, this might be a good club to check out.
Playerbase: I already mentioned the twelve full tables going on a Wednesday night, right? Simply put, the pbase here is HUGE. I can't imagine what the waiting lists look like on a Saturday night, and keep in mind, waiting lists are practically unheard of at most clubs in NYC.
Worth Your Time?: Most definitely.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I haven't been home much. Last night I went to one of the two remaining NYC poker rooms that I haven't yet reviewed. My thoughts should appear here later tonight, along with an analysis of two hands I misplayed during that session. It was a fun session, which included my first call of:
Sunday, April 10, 2005
Just a bunch of little blurbs today.
Today's edition of the New York Post featured an article about underground poker clubs in NYC. This figures, because last week I was interviewed by a Danish journalist about this very same topic, who was hoping to pitch his story to New York papers as well as major Danish dailies. Always one step behind -- that's me! Well, who knows. Maybe my input will help get the story published in Copenhagen.
Remember my flameout from mid-January to mid-February? After taking a break for the rest of February and starting fresh in March, I'm happy to say that I'm up $650. I haven't been playing much (or at least, as much as I figured I would), but it's nice to see things turning around.
The dangers of a short stack in NLHE are well-documented. In case anyone remains unconvinced, I'd like to provide an example from a very brief session Friday night at one of the NYC rooms.
Playing $1/$2 $60/$300 NLHE, I was dealt the Hilton Sisters in MP. I had about $300 at the time, after buying in for $200. I raised one early limper and was called by LP (~$90) and the BB. The LP player sat down at the table 10 minutes prior, after buying in for $100.
The flop was Td 8d 3d with about $50 in the pot. The action checked to me, and I led out for $40. The LP player thought for a moment, then pushed in his remaining stack ($75). Both other players folded, and without even thinking about it, I said "I call." He flipped Ad Kh -- we were racing. The turn and the river both missed him, ensuring that the dealer pushed the pot my way.
The LP player had 13 outs, along with some squirrelly backdoor straight draws (call it 14 outs). This would have been an excellent hand for him to apply some serious pressure on me, if he had only had the stack to do so. Having to call only $35 into a $163 pot was a no-brainer for me. If he had the Ace-high or King-high flush, I was pretty well-screwed, but otherwise I was probably ahead and if not, I had a bunch of outs to improve. Like I said, no-brainer.
Now imagine if he had bought in for $250. He could have either raised the flop or smooth-called, and then either way brought quite a bit of pressure to bear on the turn. Who knows if I would have called. The point is, by being in short, he deprived himself of a powerful weapon.
Speaking of that session, how's this for a hit-and-run night: sit down at 6:45 with $200. Stand up at 7:30 with $385. Catch JJ (holds), QQ (holds), AK (flops top two), TT (misses) in that time. Not bad.
Played a $20+2 Razz sit-n-go on Full Tilt tonight. SoxLover was also in on the 8-handed action. He finished 3rd, I finished 1st after a very, very long heads up battle. Could this be the first step on my way to the $1500 Razz event at the WSOP this year?
Full Tilt has gone crazy with the WSOP freerolls. They're trying their damndest to build up their playerbase, I guess. In addition to the new player freerolls, which have awarded 3 or 4 seats already, they're sponsoring a 10,000 point freeroll which will award 10 seats, a 30-seat guaranteed tournament, and 10 weekly one-seat guaranteed tournaments. That's 55 guaranteed seats from a site which, right now, averages about 3,000 to 4,000 players online at peak hours.
So here's my question - who will be the first poker blogger to win an entry into the main event?
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
[Ed. note: This is the seventh 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.]
A few weeks ago, I was alerted by one of my readers to a brand new poker club that opened up in midtown Manhattan, near Times Square. Unfortunately, due to the demands of my schedule and a regrettable mishap regarding the address of the club, I wasn't able to check out the place until this past Monday. But check it out I did, and now I'm here to present my review.
I accompanied Above Malibu's own BkynPlague to the new club, who had been with me on the aborted first mission to locate it. I've sat at many a table with BkynPlague, not just in NYC, but also in Atlantic City and Los Angeles. He's a good egg and a good poker player and is the perfect kind of person with whom to spend an evening playing cards - good-natured, friendly, funny, and intelligent.
We met in front of the building at 7pm on a Monday night. People in suits were streaming up and down Eighth Avenue and even in and out of the building that was the object of our evening. After a few phone calls, we walked into the building and proceeded to the third floor. The door to the club, marked simply "3N", was right across the hall from the elevator. No hunting necessary -- a good sign.
We rang the bell, and were immediately buzzed into a room with red walls, but no poker players. The fact that there was someone there at 7pm was another good sign, but where was everyone? I heard the unmistakable "click" of a door to our left also being unlocked, and two plus two quickly became four as we pushed our way into the main room of the club.
By New York standards, the place was cavernous. Two games were in full swing in front of a large dry erase board, but something seemed a little off. It wasn't the mint green walls; it wasn't the large, computer-generated print-outs advertising the ongoing Saturday freerolls ($1,000) or the Wednesday night 3-6* game that would treat all players to a free dinner prepared by "Anna"; it wasn't the overly round breasts of the waitress flittering amongst the tables serving soft drinks. It was something else -- something BkynPlague finally was able to put into words.
"It feels like a VFW hall."
That was *exactly* it. I should back up, though, because I think that statement is a bit unfair to the club. New Yorkers are not used to working with lots of space. We pack ourselves into overcrowded subway cars and 300 square foot studios on a daily basis. We literally rub elbows with our neighbors while sipping lattes at the local cafe. When presented with large spaces, we have a bit of a brain fart, and I think that's what happened to BkynPlague and I. We simply couldn't fathom such a large space, especially since most other rooms in NYC feel more cramped, in the true New York style.
This club was large enough for twelve holdem tables, and there was still plenty of empty space, including an odd, square boxed off area in the back. More on that in a moment. A long counter was on our immediate right, which essentially functioned as door security and cage rolled into one. The man behind the counter told us there were two 1/2 60/300 NLHE games going, with seats available for both of us.
I'll skip over details of the play. I was only there for an hour, long enough to get a feel for things and make $40. Time charges were the NYC standard $4 per half hour. My table make-up was pretty soft; there were clearly a few players who were a bit tighter and a few who were a bit looser, but nobody was really making any "moves" at pots. I showed down a stone-cold bluff with Montana (92o) hoping to generate some action for later hands, but I think I just wasn't there long enough for it to really pay off. If nothing else, the table was *very* chatty, which I much prefer over the stony-faced rock gardens that are typical of many tables in Atlantic City. There was even some discussion about "what to do with the space in the back" (meaning that 'boxed off' section I describe). Prevailing opinion was to set it up as a boxing ring and let players resolve their disputes at the card table by lacing up.
It seemed to me that there's a standard "dress code" for the dealers at the club, which is very similar in style to the dress of dealers at the Borgata. Either that, or all of those guys shop at the same store. I guess the idea is to give the appearance of professionalism to the dealers, but it wasn't working. That's not to say that the dealers were bad, just that the uniform didn't really add much to the equation.
One of the players at my table, Lamont, also seemed to work in some capacity for the club. Towards 8pm, he began soliciting interest in a $20+10 rebuy NLHE tournament. (Really? $20+10? Ick. That's quite a bit of juice for a $20 tournament.) It seemed that few of the cash players were all that interested in a tournament. There was some discussion of bumping the buy-in to $30 or even $100, but few players bit before I left and as a result I think the tournament was scuttled.
Here's the final report card:
Location: Like the last club I reviewed, this one could not be any more central than it is, located almost on the doorstep of the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and literally a stone's throw from Times Square. Any number of subway lines will drop you within a five minute walk of the club.
Hours: I'm not sure of the exact hours of the club, but I think they may be 1pm-4am daily. Yes, that's right, the club opens at 1pm for all you degenerates out there that have nowhere to be on a weekday afternoon. Signs in the club advertised no time charges for play from 1pm to 6pm, obviously an effort to build a viable afternoon playerbase.
Club Atmosphere: Once you get over the size, the place isn't bad. I'd consider it "average" atmosphere. Something felt a bit sterile about it, but you're there to play cards, right? It didn't detract from the experience, at least, unlike some other rooms I've been to in NYC.
Quality of Play: Wholly average, the type of play that typifies 1/2 NLHE in NYC and, really, just about any baby no-limit game you're likely to find anywhere. Point is, don't be concerned about "sharks"; neither BkynPlague or I saw any.
Tournament Structure: Unknown.
Cash Games: Hey -- all you people that constantly email me asking where you can find a live 3-6 game in NYC. Are you paying attention? Good. This club had signs advertising a 3-6 game on Wednesday nights, complete with free food prepared by someone named "Anna". Now, maybe Anna makes some scrumptious feasts, and maybe she makes the high starch, high fat, low taste fare that typified my student days in Russia. Who cares. The point is, THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN FIND A 3-6 GAME. Don't blame me if they stop spreading it because you didn't get your ass down there to sustain the game.
Other than that, there was the mandatory 1-2 NLHE and an interest list for 5-5. I imagine a few other games might be spread on odd days, but the 1-2 NLHE game is spread every day.
Playerbase: Two almost-full tables at 7pm on a Monday says good things about the size of the playerbase, especially given the newness of the club. The owners are also running freerolls every Saturday ($1,000) in an effort to draw more players in. I suspect the club will do ok.
Worth Your Time? Yes. I should point out one thing, however. With the addition of this club, there are now three clubs within a 5 to 10 minute walk of each other. One of them is leagues below the other two, but it will be interesting to see how much they compete for players.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
"I've been in every gambling room between Honolulu and Berlin and if you think I'm going to be kept out of a saloon like this, you're very much mistaken!"
It had been a long, long time since Signor Ferrari last hosted a typical night of crazy poker shenanigans at the Blue Parrot. You'd think the place had been closed down by the Nazis or something.
After I wolfed down a Subway Cold Cut Combo, I took my appointed place at the felt-covered table, where the $100 buy-in action was already in progress. The freedom fighters at last night's game included:
Seat 1: Marie - The lovely non-American, non-male presence at the table. She wanted a nickname; the best anyone could come up with was Guinevere, but a certain doctor protested that he didn't think his spellchecker would correct that when he misspelled it.
Seat 2: Gil - A somewhat unfortunate name for a poker player and a new face at the Blue Parrot. He claimed he had never played Omaha Hi/Lo (a game that got called more often than usual) and I believed him.
Seat 3: Orin - I believe it was Orin's second time at the Blue Parrot, although I had never met him before. Nice guy, even if he bristled when I suggested we chop a hi/lo game that had gotten heads up because "That's not poker."
Seat 4: Signor Ferrari - He's a predator, that Ferrari, make no mistake. He may be nice enough to host poker at his place and even provide fresh guacamole, but he's got a ruthless way of making sure that your money ends up in his stack.
Seat 5: Dr. Pauly - Narcissistic writer and gambler. Also extremely fond of Hawaiian shirts. Last night's shirt was blood red, an appropriate color given all that bleeding that Pauly did in Omaha Hi/Lo which, as already pointed out, was called more often than usual.
Seat 6: Our Hero, asphnxma aka FTrain - in my usual seat on Pauly's left, despite the fact that Pauly was not in his usual seat when I arrived slightly late.
Seat 7: Coach - Coach is usually on my right, but I didn't mind having him on my left so much, as I always have a pretty good idea where I stand when Coach is involved in a pot with me. This would prove prophetic in (what else) a particular hand of Omaha Hi/Lo.
Seat 8: Joel - The "old man" of the crowd, Joel is anything but an old man. He gave me his new business card when I arrived. I wanted to chat more about his new job, but all of that soon got lost in the swirl of cards.
One of these days, I'm going to remember to bring a pad with me to record some notes. Generally, my memory is quite excellent for hands in which I was involved, but I'm a bit hazier on those I wasn't. Here goes.
According to Pauly's write-up, I was dealt in at 8:40. This was right after Pauly's kings full boat took out Marie's tens full bolt in Anaconda, a game I often refer to as Foldaconda, because I detest it so much I usually fold my hand after all three passes are complete.
I think Omaha Hi/Lo was called for my first orbit. We had to explain the rules to Gil, who had never played before. I thought for sure he would get burned by the "exactly two plus exactly three" rule at some point, but he seemed to catch on pretty well, even if he had absolutely no idea what was a decent starting hand. Armed with that lack of knowledge, it should come as no surprise that he was absolutely killing the game for the better part of an hour. Even when he wasn't killing it, he was still taking down half the pot. I managed to isolate him in the big blind holding Ks-Js-J-T with a late position raise. The flop was K-Q-4, giving me top pair, open-ended straight draw and making a low unlikely. Yet, after much deliberation on the flop and the turn, he called both streets to suck out a runner-runner low for half the pot. Aiyah!
Pauly and I spent the better part of the night showing each other our hands while we were playing. I watched him catch bottom two pair on the flop in Omaha Hi/Lo and just mentally shook my head. I knew it would end badly for Pauly, and it did. Bottom two pair = death in Omaha Hi/Lo.
We switched to holdem. Unfortunately, I was still in an Omaha mindset, and so on my deal dealt three cards to the first three players to my left. Nobody had looked at their hand, so I started to collect the errant cards when Ferrari exposed his POS hand, prompting Orin to do so as well. Now it was most certainly a misdeal. Normally, I don't even look at my cards in such a situation (I don't want to know) but as the entire table started exposing their hands, I did so also. Ace. Ace. Fuck you Ferrari.
"They would have been cracked," he suggested. Um, yeah. Fuck you.
Oh well, nobody to blame there but myself really. We kept at it and I dragged my first pot of the night. Pauly raised to my right and with As7s, I found myself making it three bets. Fast and loose is not my normal style of play, but I also know Pauly is capable of raising any two cards. The flop was an ace with two babies. He checked, I bet, he raised, and I called. The turn was a beautiful seven to give me top two and I was thinking in advance how awful Pauly would feel when we showed it down. Did I feel bad about? Not even a little. We got to the river and his A9s wen down to my A7s, the only bad beat I administered all night. It all happened in under 60 seconds, a veritable sprint compared to some of the interminably long Omaha hands that were played.
Back to Omaha again and again. In the big blind, I found myself with Ah-3h-A-5. There were five other people in the pot when it was my action, and I sure as hell know what to do with a hand like that.
"Raise it up!"
Everone called, of course, because this is Omaha Hi/Lo. The flop of A-7d-8d gave me the nuts for high, a crappy low, and a hand that was susceptible to being outdrawn. I managed to get four other people to put in three bets each to see the case ace fall on the turn. Nice!
I figured there was no point in slowplaying, since people were probably drawing at better lows than what was out there, and led for $4. Coach (who had raised the flop) raised to $8. At this point, I thought he must have a full house, although it seemed odd to me, because Coach is an adept enough player to know that the bottom half of a full house, especially where the top half is aces, can often wind up second best in Omaha. Gil and Orin both folded. Ferrari called, and of course I made it $12. They both called.
As the river came down, I said "Put a deuce out there!" but alas, it was a king. I led for $4 again. This time, Coach just called, and Ferrari went into the tank. After the hand, he would say that he was trying to figure out if Coach would have played the nut low the way he did and decided that Coach's turn raise made that unlikely. Ferrari went ahead and raised, giving me the chance to make it three bets again. Coach just shook his head in disgust and called, as did Ferrari. They had 2-3-9-9 (Coach) and 2-3-7-9 (Ferrari) to each grab only a quarter of the pot.
I scooped another pot shortly after when a free flop in the big blind holding 4-5-J-Q came down A-3-T and I called one bet to try to catch my double gutshot. A king fell on the turn and no low came. Then I backed into a low with A-3-4-6 in the big blind when the flop came A-A-Q. I led out, Coach called (alarm bells were ringing) and Gil called (fish were schooling). As I mentioned up top, I usually have a good idea where I stand against Coach, and his call on this flop with only a runner-runner low possible meant he had me beat. I checked the turn 8 to him. After he bet and Gil called, I showed my hand to Pauly and said "I'm in big trouble here, but I think I have to call." Pauly told me to fold, and I said "I don't think I can with that 8 out there." I called and caught my low on the river; Coach's QQ flopped queens full and was good for high.
A-A-x-x came a second time and was good for half the pot. A-2-3 flopped 6-8-x and didn't get there. Twenty-one outs twice. I hate that.
At 11:45, a round of holdem was called. With the witching hour approaching, it figured to be my last round. I proceeded to give back $20 in that round with two good starting hands that were outdrawn, and just like that it was midnight.
When all the smoke had cleared, I ended up the big winner for the night by booking a modest $63 win. On top of a $41 win in a quick, one-hour visit to NYC's newest poker room before huffing it over to the Blue Parrot, it was a pretty good night. And supposedly there was some big college basketball game on television, too. Who knew.
Last night saw me at one of NYC's newest underground poker rooms for an hour of 1/2 NLHE play before attending a game at The Blue Parrot for the first time in three months. To be fair to Signor Ferrari, he did host The Blue Parrot Invitational - a NLHE tournament night - two months ago, but I had to be out of town that weekend for my nephew's funeral. Still, a night of Blue Parrot hijinks was long overdue.
Unfortunately, I don't have the time for a proper write-up of the Blue Parrot game or a review of the new room. Those will come later this evening. One little morsel to tide you over:
Pauly: Coach comes out strong.
Coach: Come strong, or don't come at all.
FTrain: Your wife teach you that?
Coach: No, yours did.
This is the kind of fun and banter I've missed for the last three months. Details later tonight!
Saturday, April 02, 2005
Out in 51st out of 1418 in the Full Tilt freeroll. Tho, I think only about 500 were playing. I made a couple of mistakes in the third hourd and could never recover.
Friday, April 01, 2005
I realized earlier this week, after my trip out with Ferrari et al., that I really prefer playing live to playing online. There's so much more that goes on at a live table, both in hands and out of hands. And quite frankly, I've never really been that impressed with the play that I've seen at the 1/2 NLHE tables in New York -- and I'm prone to being pretty tight-weak at times.
Last night, I decided to hit one of the rooms for the second time this week. Try to pad the roll some more (still trying to erase all of my losses from my January meltdown, after all) and just generally have more fun while playing. I settled on the room that was closest to my house -- the one on the Lower East Side.
I got there a bit after 10pm, a grand total of ONE buy-in in my pocket. Stop loss at it's best, right? You can't lose what you don't have. There were two 1/2 tables going, and I got seated at the three seat of one of them inside of fifteen minutes. Typical line-up: a slick Asian guy, a couple of total fish, a few tighties (one of whom looked positively neurotic) , and one super loose-aggressive. Fine.
First half hour, I didn't hit much and was done about $40. I picked up the Hilton Sisters in late position, raised to $10 and took three callers to the flop (J-high). They checked it to me, I bet pot and got one caller. The turn was a beautiful queen, no straight or flush possible. He checked it to me, I bet $100, he pushed and of course I called with the nuts. He had QJ for the turned two pair, and just like that I doubled up. Nice!
A few more orbits went by. I won a couple of small pots to build up to $700. In the meantime, the loose-agg had amassed a helluva stack by bad-beating two guys on back-to-back hands. He must have had close to $1,000 in front of him.
It got to be midnight and I was still bouncing between $650 and $700. I thought about getting up, but figured one more half hour wouldn't kill me and paid my time.
Twenty minutes in, I limp in from late position with JTd. Flop looked pretty good: 8d-7d-2s. Inside straight flush draw and two overs. The loose-agg bet $10 and one guy called. I bumped it to $30 and they both called.
The turn was the ace of spades. Ugh. Not a good card. Action checked to me, though, so I elected to take one off. It came the 2d to bring my flush but also pair the board.
Loose-agg led out for $100. Fuck. The other guy dropped and I went into the tank. One thing was clear: there was no was I was folding. The only question was whether or not I should raise. I just couldn't shake the feeling that he was trying to buy the pot with two pair, and after misplaying the 8-8-8 hand the other night, I was determined not to show so much weakness all the time. "$250," I practically croaked.
"I'm all-in," was the response. Ugh. What was that shrinking feeling I just felt? Was that my nuts shriveling up into my abdomen? I put my chin down on the padded railing of the table and went into the tank again.
There was no way I could call this. Not only could he have filled up, but he could easily have the nut flush. Or at least, a better flush than mine. I started mentally berating myself for not just taking the $100 showdown.
And yet, I couldn't let go. Was he still trying to buy it?
I looked over at him, but there was no read to be had. All I had were hunches and a pair of very, very tiny stones, getting smaller by the second. And then I heard myself saying "I call."
"Two pair," he said, flipping up the Ad 7c. Holy crap. My hand was good! I showed him my flush and the dealer pushed a gynormous pot my way. I'm quite certain it was the biggest pot I've ever won - about $1300.
Three hands later, I was still racking my chips. It was definitely time to go. And then I'm not really sure what happened. There was a bit of shouting. The neurotic guy bolted out of his chair, sending a spray of redbirds all over the table and floor. And then one very loud voice pierced the din:
"I WANT EVERYBODY'S HANDS ON THE TABLES, NOW!"
Yep, it was the NYPD raiding the club, and they were pointing guns in my general direction. I don't know how many of you follow the trials and tribulations of the NYPD, but let's just say I don't have much confidence in them not having itchy trigger fingers (never mind the fact that one of my fellow players might try something really dumb like pull a knife or gun of his own.) And I thought my nuts were shrinking when I had to contemplate calling the all-in!
I'll spare you the details of the rest of the night, but in summary I'll just say that being processed through the New York detention system is a bit like being in the Army: hurry up to wait. By the time I had been cuffed, thrown into the paddy wagon, "taken downtown", fingerprinted, and the whole nine yards, it was 9am this morning. I still had to go home, shower and change for work, so I didn't make it in to work until almost 11. Thankfully, I haven't had to explain yet where I was.
I was charged with a class A felony of "gambling in excess of $500" and a misdemeanor of "conspiracy to gamble". So, in addition to the indignity of central booking, I'm facing at the very least some serious fines (never mind the prospect of time at Rikers Island). I will undoubtedly also be facing sanctions from the bar for this and could very well lose my license to practice law.
The most humiliating part was having to get a friend to bail me out.
X: what time is it?
Me: yeah. listen, you know that one call you never want to have to make?
And the greatest injustice of all of it was that I didn't even get to cash out. In fact, the NYPD seized all the chips as evidence, so instead of being up $1,000 for the night, I finished down $300 and with a criminal record.
In fact, so unbelievable that it must be April Fool's Day.