Thursday, May 28, 2009

And On the Eighth Day, He Created the Gambooool

My father is in town visiting, so today was a very short day at Bay 101. My basic goal was to drive to San Jose, stop at the gym and grab a quick workout, then win a couple hundred bucks as quickly as possible so that I felt as if I hadn't taken the day entirely off. This is completely counter to the way I usually operate, but whatever. I'm also leaving on an 11 day vacation on Saturday (my dad is in town to house sit the apartment and care for our seven (7) mammals while we're gone) so my plan is to stay in a good life mood for the next few days and then crush the Bellagio 30/60 game Saturday and Sunday before driving to the Grand Canyon. Anyway....

I get a seat at 11:15 and lose $495 in my first orbit. My QQ sees a flop of AK9 and Vernon bluffs me off my hand, asking "Do you want to see it?" which is fish for "I bluff you I good". I get two-outtered twice (Something like AJ vs 97 on an AK7-K-7 board) and then Q7 vs J6 in a 3 way limped pot on a QJ7-J board. Then WTK flops an 8-high flush against my QQ overpair and all of a sudden I'm missing a whole rack of chips.

Things go from worse to just bad, as it takes me a full hour or so to lose my next rack of chips. After 1:45 of play I have won exacxtly 1 pot (heads up with Ace King) and chopped my small blind once. That's all. So much for winning a few hundred bucks and heading home....Then it happens.

The table has been playing pretty loosey goosey so far, with frequent 5 and 6 way pots. A pretty crappy Lag who has had several nicknames (I originally went with DB, but we settled on Ed Hardy due to his wardrobe) just sat down in the 2 seat, and WTK is in the 5-hole committing his usual atrocities against the game of poker. Mix this all together and you've got yourself a recipe for some big pots. And as we already know, I like big pots and I cannot lie.

Manny limps UTG. He is aggressive and getting better at poker, but is still a candidate for possibly chip and poo flinging. Ed Hardy raises UTG+1. Mr. Wong, who is weak tight, calls 2 cold. This is probably the best hand so far. A horrific Asian guy (whom WTK actually followed to this table because "he gives soooo much action...10 times more action than me") calls two cold. This is two cards. At this point Ed Hardy realizes that WTK has posted this hand to make up the blinds and says "You don't have to 3-bet you know." It's way too late for that...WTK 3-bets. Again, this indicates that he has two cards. Seriously, two cards. He's never folding ever no matter what and he hates to call so honestly he can have 32o here. The loose passive cutoff takes 3 to the face, which probably means he has some semblance of a hand. The button...folds. Lame. I peep my cards and behold a true beaut....98 of spades. The gears turn in my head....can I really be considering calling 2.5 bets cold from the small blind? 8 people have money in this pot already and nobody is folding ever (Manny will never, ever fold after putting money in. The big blind is super loose....he's probably coming along no matter what. And everyone else has 2 or 3 bets in already).

"Cap it!" I declare. As predicted, everyone calls. That's 8 bets, 4 ways, or 32 small bets.

8d 7h 4s

Well look at that. I have a pair, and two back-door draws. That's just overkill! I only need like one of those things here. I bet. The big blind and Manny both call, and Ed Hardy raises. The other four players....all....fold. Getting 37:2 immediate odds, all four of them chuck their hands into the muck. As we're about to see, this is a horrific beat for me.

Now Ed Hardy is setting about making his second speech of the hand (his first being when he talked to WTK preflop), something about how he wants to get everybody out and build a big pot. He's a LAG, but when he talks he's like most players; beware the power of speech. So I just call (if I thought that the players in between would consider folding anything for 3-bets I'd raise, but they're calling 100%). To the turn:

8d 7h 4s - 9d

And the Lord saw that the Gambooool was good. I check because I'm bad at poker, the big blind checks, and Manny...donks. You freaking retard what on Earth are you doing is my first thought. Then it occurs to me. 8 people played this pot for 4 bets. Big Bad Babar told me recently "Well, somebody usually has Jack Ten." Suddenly, I'm not so sure about this. I resolve to raise anyway, but Ed Hardy does it for me. Now I'm in the tank. The big blind telegraphs a fold (he literally folds out of turn, actually), so I don't have to worry about him, and Manny isn't giving anything away. I opt to call only, planning to donk safe rivers, once again because I'm horrible a poker. Writing about it now, I cannot believe I didn't pull the trigger on a 3-bet here in a pot of this size, but whatever. Manny only calls, and I instantly start berating myself for being such a pansy. It should be noted, however, that there are now 26 big bets in the pot.

8d 7h 4s - 9d - 5s

Perfect card to donk. Ed Hardy has river mubs and is probably not betting his Kings here. Also, the board didn't pair, so I didn't just lose the hand, and I actually still have top two pair. I donk. Manny looks at me like I have two heads and folds his hand. Ed Hardy is horrified (up until this point he was quite sure he had this thing locked down) and calls me. I declare "top two" and the look on his face is a pleasant mix of confusion and agony. I add on for emphasis, after it's pointed out that I capped preflop, "WTK Style".

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Boom Shakalaka

My friend Chris has an old school SNES that we inevitably end up playing for hours on end whenever I visit him in Washington, DC. I was there a week and a half ago, and for the first time in years we fired up NBA Jam. As we threw down dunk after ridiculous dunk, I realized that my last few weeks have been just one giant Boom Shakalaka after another.

The past 3 playing days (Thursday, Friday, and Monday), I have posted a ten (10) rack 20/40 win. I lost a little at 40/80 one day, but basically haven't been able to miss a draw or get myself trapped into a big pot for quite some time. Friday's session at Bay 101 had one run so sick I had to write down the notes on my phone so I could tell you all about it. And away we go.

The day didn't start off so well. I sat in a just meh 40/80 game for the first 30 minutes or so and promptly lost $500 by basically never having cards on the river. When my 20/40 seat was called I promptly moved down, since the game was bad and I could always try to get back in later. At the time there was only one 20 game, but soon enough a second opened and I put myself up for a change to the table. Shortly afterward, I discovered that the empty seat in the other game (with chips and a missed blind button) belonged to a well-known whale that we'll just call IJ. As he walked back to his seat, I saw him ask Cissy (the floor woman) for a table change. I noted this information and mentally scratched myself off the table change list. I try to only change when another game is drastically better than my current situation, and if IJ moved to my table you could forget about the drastic part...and probably even the better one. Cissy actually calls me for the table change and shakes her head at me to give me a hint, and I pass politely.

Then a clusterfuck ensues. Lady Lee is up for a table change (I don't know this woman and doubt this is her real name anyway) and walks away from my table to IJ's table. I slide into her seat (excited that my empty seat, now on my right, will be filled by IJ) and proceed to go about losing a gigantic pot with AKs in which I flop a gut shot and turn a royal draw, but end up with a one pair pay off hand, during which she comes back and says "No seat, broken game" in no good, broken English and demands her seat back. Since I only slid one spot left I oblige (8 out of 10 players would give her a really hard time about this). Somehow in the confusion a bit flips over in my brain, and I decided that since Lady Lee didn't leave, I want to go to the other table. I ask Cissy and she looks at me like I have two heads, but sends me on my merry way. As I get to the table I watch in horror as IJ looks at me, looks at the other table and my empty seat, stands up, walks to my game, and posts in.

Now this is obviously what was going to happen. He was up for a change. I emptied a seat. There were only two games. Yet somehow during the last 5 minutes I became functionally retarded and lost all forward looking problem solving ability. OK, no biggie. I walk over to Cissy and she laughs at me hysterically as I ask to back to my other table. While I'm waiting, Kelvin the dealer makes the biggest mess of a down I have ever seen. He exposes cards, misses bets going into the pot preflop (someone asked that the pot bet counted down after I had bet the flop and someone had called....turned out we were missing 4 chips. Steve the floorman asks "What happened?" and I look him dead in the eye and say "It's a fucking train wreck, Steve." This is cause for concern, because in over 1000 hours at Bay 101 I've never said this to him. Kelvin says "We're short 4 chips" and Steve's response is "Who was short?" and Kelvin can only say "I don't know" to which Steve responds "And why is that?" in the most sarcastic tone possible). Kelvin in general just fucks up every 3rd hand or so until blessedly he's replaced. I play for 30 minutes or so, then change back, only to watch IJ instantly ask for a change the moment I sit down. Is there a pattern here? Does he avoid me? Does he know I'm following him, sorta? Curious. Now the real fun begins.

The table is actually really good, and I decide that it's pretty clear IJ is avoiding me and that I should lay low for a bit and let Pete do the de-chipping. I play some big pots, winning a little, then losing a little, and am basically even when the following hand comes up.

I am on the button with Ace Ten of hearts. 3 or 4 players limp to me, and I raise, only to watch the big blind 3-bet. It gets back to me 6 ways, and I cap for value. Unless the big blind has Aces, or there are two hands that combo-dominate me (like Ace King and pocket Jacks, for example), the overlay from the various trash hands held by the limpers means I surely have more than 1/6th equity in the pot. Also, I have the freaking button, and as Pete has noted, I play my best poker in gigantic bloated pots against 5 retards. So anyway, we see a flop 6 ways for 4 bets a piece of:

422 with two diamonds and one heart

Yikes. I have...not much. The big blind donks right out (remember, I capped it...Danger, Danger Will Robinson! Jack Jack Plus Alert!) and everyone calls to the player on my immediate right who raises. He's aggressive and could have just about anything. I think for a second then realize I'm looking at a 30 bet pot and call the two cold. I'd call one bet in a 15 bet pot, right? The big blind 3-bets, two more players call, Tom the Nit folds (remember this one kids), and the player on my right caps it. I called the first two, but now I have a problem, as the evidence is mounting that the big blind actually has aces. That'd be uncool, so to speak. Undeterred, however, I donkey call two more bets, and after the dust settles we have a 45 small bet pot being contested by 5 hands. Only Tom the Nit has folded.

422-9 with two diamonds and two hearts. Tom the Nit walks away in disgust.

Eureka! I have picked up a nut flush draw! The big blind now checks because he's scurrd, and the other two players (who's lines so far this hand have been call/call 2/call - call, call-2, call) predictably check. The player on my right now...checks! I am confused. 5 ways I'd only need 10 outs to make this a value bet (!), but I'm not sure I'd get that kind of action (someone might fold) and one of the two calling players could be looking to spring a check/raise with a full house. I check it right back. The river brings.

422-9-4 with now, blessedly, 3 hearts.

I have made the "nut" flush. The only problem is that the board is double paired. The good news, however, is that two players absolutely cannot have a full house (the big blind, and the player on my right). The bad news, however, is that the other two players just might be bad enough to still hold one or more 2s or 4s in their hands. The big blind checks....the first player...checks. The second...checks! I win! The player on my right checks and the big blind almost fast rolls his hand before I have a chance to bet. Everyone is stunned. What on Earth can I have? One by one, however, 3 of them call me (someone asked to see the hands. The big blind had Kings, caller A had 8s, and the aggro player on my right over-over called with pocket 5s which is just incomprehensible to me). I roll my hand and the table is just in awe of how good it is that I am currently running. At this point Tom the Nit walks back and for some reason comments about how he folded 99 on the flop when facing two more bets cold. He catches shit for this for the next 45 minutes, despite the fact that it's actually an expert fold.

So now things are heating up and for some reason (I think because a regular, BA, was getting on my nerves) I table change for a 3rd and final time to IJ's table. The instant I sit down, he again asks for a change and Pete texts "You know IJ avoids you" to which I can only respond "The more you doo do do". IJ leaves, but is replaced by a 40/80 mega-lag-fish that played with me about a week ago and managed to stand out in an insanely soft game. At this point I have 4 racks of chips, but am up only $500 for the day as I bought my customary 2 and lost at 40/80 to start things off. And without warning, Kelvin shows back up for another round at our table. Most of the same players are still here (I think it's been 2 hours since his last train wreck) and he is promptly given an acceptable amount of shit. Then I win $1000.

The aforementioned LagFish opens and I 3-bet AJo. Somone else calls and he caps it. On the turn the board reads:

QT4-8 rainbow

Which you'll note gives me a double-gutter. I call his bet, and when the 9 gives me gin on the river, he somehow only checks and calls. He mucks quietly, in a way that suggests maybe I wasn't as far behind as I thought.

Next orbit he opens again in late position (he's been opening over 50% of the time it's been folded to him) and this time I 3-bet next in on the button with A5o. This is borderline insane, but I've decided I'm taking a stand against this guy, one way or another. He caps, and this time it's heads up to a flop of:


That's a pair! I call him.


That's two pair! I have you now! I call.


LOL OK so this is one of those points in the hand where you completely change what you hope your opponent is holding. I wanted him to be barreling off with Ace King. Now I'm hoping for pocket Jacks. He checks. I bet. He calls and mucks in disgust. Nice read Jesse....

I 3-bet him again, this time with KTs and flop a king. He calls me all the way down and mucks. I don't remember the board or anything, just that he gave me $160. By this point he's on his 4th rack, and in the interim periods between me taking his money, he's giving it to virtually everyone else at the table. The interesting part is that I'm playing basically no other pots. I simply wait 10 minutes, enter a pot with him, drag it, and repeat.

The next amazing pot happens with me holding Ten-Nine offsuit in the big blind. We see an unraised flop 5 or 6 ways of:

QJ9 rainbow

Now that's curious indeed. I check and someone in early position bets. A few calls go in, and I call only (I feel this isn't a spot to play a draw aggressively for 2 reasons. Someone else often holds a ten, or worse, a made straight. This is awful. Also, this is the kind of board that people flop two pair on and make full houses with). The turn is very interesting:

QJ9-T with a flush draw now

I check because I don't like my hand much, and a bet and two (2) calls go into the pot, including one from the awful, awful LagFish. Now I might have the action wrong somewhere, but at the time I counted down the pot and determined that it had 10 bets in it. If I'm not out against a better two pair, I have odds to try and boat up. This is a very questionable assumption, but given my implied odds when I'm good (they rate to be huge, as I can check to the guy who just bet, who obviously has a King, and potentially check/raise the field) I opt to call. In retrospect in front of my computer I don't think I like this call, but truth be I'll make it every single time.


Boat up indeed. I check, and the bettor from last street, checks...I cry. The LagFish, however, bets and the player between us folds. Now I'm in a conundrum. Do I raise? The LagFish's hand is very hard to read. He didn't raise the previous street, so he shouldn't have a King, right? He's loose and aggressive! If he doesn't have a king, what's he betting? A boat? I have bottom boat. The worst possible boat. Yikes, all of a sudden I'm not so sure I'm happy about this. If I do raise and he 3-bets, I have to cry and call and might not get called by the remaining player. If I just call, surely he'll chuck in one more bet and I don't have to risk getting owned. Fine, I just call. The other player calls and the LagFish quickly (and in turn) rolls K7o for the straight. I declare "Full House" and roll my baby boat, and the other player courtesy shows another King. Pete nods approvingly and gives me the thumbs up sign, so I think he approves of my seemingly ridiculous call with a full house.

The next orbit (I don't contribute to a pot voluntarily in the interim), I find myself staring at JTo in blind in a 6 way unraised pot. The flop is:

KQ4 with two spades

The LagFish bets on my immediate right, and I just call. Two other players call.


He bets again. I call, and one player in EP calls once more.

KQ4-3-8 with no flush

The EP player checks. I resign to fold, and the LagFish...checks. Quickly I think about what's going on. The pot is large, and my hand looks like bullshit. I opt to continue my surrender and check behind. The EP player rolls T9 of spades for...Ten-High. The LagFish looks at his cards, looks at the board....I realize he's about to muck! He can't beat the Ten-High! I hold my breath, reason taking hold that this can't possibly be true. Then it happens. He mucks. I wait for the dealer to collect his hand and stuff it into the muck, then roll my Jack-Ten for the win. The table simply cannot believe what it has seen. Pete comments that "See, I'm over here trying to hold on with a set of Jacks, and you're winning what that!". Pete lost a blind steal hand with JJ on a board of Kc Xc Ys - Jc -Zh by only calling down when the small blind donked into him on the turn with KK. I vow to play open ended straight draws a tad more aggressively in the future.

Friday, May 22, 2009

More Shenanigans with WTK

I haven't posted anything about the man, the myth, the legend, WTK in quite some time. This is for a couple reasons. First of all, he found my blog shortly after I wrote my last post about him, which from all accounts was pretty funny (he apparently read it aloud to the 40/80 table). He and I have also become a lot more friendly, joking around at the table and in general being very nice to each other.

First of all, I received an email the other day from a friend who's now playing the 20/40 game regularly after a long stint in the green chip (6/12 and 8/16) games. I could only smile at this:

From: mntndrew
To: jesse8888
Subject: i blame the "taking a shot" blog

7-handed, WTK opens UTG. It's folded to me, and I call the BB with Ac9s.

Flop [4.5 SB]: 7s3s2d

Hey, I flopped a flush draw! I check, WTK bets, I call.

Turn [3.25 BB]: 3h

Hey, I made a pair! I check, WTK bets, I call.

River [5.25 BB]: Tc

Hm. OK, I don't like that card. I check, WTK bets, I call.

I have no idea if that line's any good.

Oh, did I say "blame"? I meant "credit"! Here's your beer coupon. He had QJo. :)

I suppose I've blown whatever was left of WTK's cover.

W, I hope you're still out there, because honestly I find it hard to believe you didn't want to get this next part up on the interwebs. As an aside, as I've gotten better at poker I've realized that there is certainly merit to the way WTK plays. He simply runs over many unsuspecting victims, and against the correct lineup is almost certainly a winning player. He remains, however, a catalyst, meaning that his games are almost always fantastic because he gives so much action and so many bad beats that most of his opponents spend half or more of their time on tilt. So anyway....

A few days ago I decided to go home after getting unstuck in the 40/80 game. It was only 6:30 though, and my name was called for 20/40. "What table?" I say? "That one" Sophorna replies, directing me towards the WTK main-event table. "Lock it up" I respond, while contemplating whether or not a 20/40 table with WTK actually has less variance than the weak tight 40/80 one I'm sitting at. Never you mind....

I unrack my chips in the 1 seat, with WTK in the 7-hole. After waiting two hands I post in front of the button (meaning seat 9 is the button, seats 2 and 3 are the blinds, and I have posted 4 chips in seat 1) and take my first hand. Mila the prop is in seat 9. Seats 4, 5 and 6 all fold and WTK raises, indicating that there has in fact not been a misdeal and that he holds the standard 2 card allotment. Seat 8 folds, as does Mila in the 9 seat, with WTK saying "Nice lay down sir." I look at my cards and behold the mighty 86 off suit and declare "Whoa Nelly, way too much hand here" and call.

I look left at this point, obviously too late, and cringe in horror as I realize the big blind has exactly 8 chips left. The small blind folds and, as expected, the big blind kamikaze all-ins for a full 3 bets. If he had only 7 chips, WTK could not raise, as this would count as "raising yourself". Sadly for me and my feeble brain, however, this is not the case. WTK caps and I say "Well that doesn't change a darn thing". What I mean is that WTK would cap %100 of the time here. No matter what. If he didn't cap, I'd immediately take my cell phone out of my pocket and call 911, because he'd obviously be having a stroke and in need of immediate medical attention. I call two more bets and all of a sudden am staring at a capped pot, heads up out of position against a maniac with one player all in for for 9/11ths of the chips. With 8-high. Nice hand, sir. Nice hand. As I'm calling Mila says "You don't have to call you know" to which I respond "But Mila, I might make a pair!" The flop is....

A43 with two hearts

I shake my head and check, and WTK bets. At this point I really have no recourse but to fold. I did the math after the fact (meaning I checked Poker Stove) and my equity against two random hands is 12%

Text results appended to pokerstove.txt

966,381,570 games 29.265 secs 33,021,751 games/sec

Board: Ac 4h 3h

equity win tie pots won pots tied
Hand 0: 43.888% 42.59% 01.29% 411624242 12503347.67 { random }
Hand 1: 43.888% 42.59% 01.29% 411624242 12503347.67 { random }
Hand 2: 12.224% 11.65% 00.58% 112552886 5573504.67 { 8d6c }

Honestly, my opponent's hands are only a teensy weensy bit better than random, but whatever. Into the muck my hand goes and the turn and river are dealt out. One of the cards was a 7, the other a paint of some sort. The all in big blind declares "Flush!" and turns over his hand. He actually only has a flush draw, as the 5th heart never came, and his hand is exactly Ten Six for ten high. WTK looks at the hand and proudly turns over....Nine Five offsuit, for nine high. The table is riotous with laughter, and I say "Nice hand sir. You had it the whole way. I couldn't beat either hand." Mila says "You couldn't beat 9-high? What were you doing?! Have you gone craaaaazy?" I look at WTK and say "You see that? You cap Nine Five off and I'm the one who just went Koo Koo apparently." Mila smiles.

A little while later WTK open raises and the guy on his left, who has been working on 2+2=4 for a while now and seems to have realized that he might have a special player on his hands, cold-calls. I 3-bet with A7o because 3-betting WTK is fantastically fun. He's also raised like 8 of the last 10 hands or something and honestly I think A7 off with position against their two ranges is probably a favorite. The pot goes off 3 ways and we see a flop of:


They both check to me and I bet. WTK mucks (LOL Ten high no good sir) and the other guy calls. The turn is a brick (a 9 I think) and I bet again, hoping he'll go away. He doesn't. I resolve to check and surrender on the river except it's an Ace, so I bet and he calls. He flashes a 4 before mucking and says "You can make a lot of money on this table if you get lucky" and I know he has moved one step closer to Tilt-Land. I mean, what did he have? 64? Q4 sooted? Honestly, what on earth did he have?

We proceed to my last orbit, and I open raise 33 from the High-jack or perhaps the low jack but either way too far from the button for doing so to be a good idea. But WTK is in the small blind and I'm a glutton for punishment. Astonishingly he folds, but the big blind, he of the 4 in the last hand...3-bets. This is usually awful, but in this case I'm not so sure. I call and cross my fingers for a set. I get no such thing:


The fact of the matter, however, is that this guy is on tilt and thinks I'm a maniac, which is probably enough for me to call down some safe boards. I call "one time" which as we all know is Chinese for "two times at least and usually the river"


A breathtaking card, lacking in paint and ace-ness. I proceed with the second part of calling "one time", which as I've said is calling a second time.


Couldn't have come down better. Now that we're here it's time to go for the jugular. He bets strongly, in the usual "strong means weak" way that really wants me to fold, which is more than enough to confirm my gut sense that he has an airball. I disappoint him by slinging 8 chips into the pot in one fluid motion before he's done releasing his second stack of 4. He looks at me, looks at the board, looks at me, looks at WTK, then back at the board, and then...mucks. Face down. WTK has looked up from his magazine and is beside himself and says "I want to see that hand!" and the dealer is like "You can't do that" and he says "No no, I want to see the winning hand." I check that my opponents cards are safely in the muck and display my pocket 3s like the nuts that they are. WTK grins and says "Very nice hand sir. Very nice hand."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Straight Flushes Going Around

Today at Bay 101 I watched a ridiculous 20/40 hand where "Tom the Nit" flopped a straight flush. The pot is like 6 ways for two bets and he has like T8 of spades or thereabouts and just flopped a freaking straight flush. He's Tom the Nit though, and when he makes expert slow play the flop checks through even though he had a chance to act after the preflop raiser. So on the turn the board is:

J97sss - 5d

He bets and gets raised, and does his super obvious live tell (well it's not really a tell...he's a nit so he always, always, always has it) where he gets all aggressive physically and 3-bets real fast and with authority. The other player just calls and Tom the Nit dark bets the river, which is:

J97sss-5d - 7c

So the board has paired. I personally am pretty certain Tom the Nit has the nut flush and this guy just rivered his sorry ass. But no, the other guy just calls, and Tom tables his monster. The other guy mucks 55 face up. So in short, the other guy did fill up on the river, but chose to only call with his full house because he was literally able to assign a huge portion of Tom the Nit's range to be exactly the straight freakin' flush. I am in awe of basically everything that has just transpired. Tom the Nit actually says to me "You make 80 more with that hand" to which I respond "80?"

So many hours later I have moved up to the 40/80 game to sit on the immediate left of a player I formerly refered to as "Crazy Russian Guy". Well, turns out he's not Russian, he's Polish, and he has a bit of a lazy eye, which Pete used to identify him recently. So now he's been renamed "The Polish Eye" instead of "Crazy Russian Guy". He is, however, still crazy, and just a massive fish.

He plays every pot, raises with 97o, all kinds of stupid shit. He did win close to ten thousand American dollars today, as evidenced by the "stack porn" I've provided here. Anyway, we're all bumbling along, basically watching him and the other lag fish in the 1 seat drag pot after pot after pot, when the following hand comes up.

Somebody limps and he raises. I cold call with Jack Ten of hearts for a multitude of reasons. First of all, against his raising range, honestly I'm in fine shape. Second of all, the JT loves it some big pots, as it practically always flops something. Seriously, there aren't many flops where Jack Ten soooted can't take one off at 12:1. We end up seeing the flop 6 or 7 ways for two bets a piece, and it comes down:

T 9 7

The astute reader will see that I have flopped an interesting hand. I have top pair, a gut shot, and a back door flush draw in a massive pot on a very coordinated board. I also have horrible relative position, as the Polish Eye is about to bet into me with half the table left to act with live hands behind me. He does this, and I opt to just call, thinking that I'll be raising lots of turn cards. Another player raises, two players call two cold, and the Polish Eye 3-bets. I just call again, and the other player opts to only call. So now we've got ourselves a 13.5 big bet pot going into the turn, with 5 players still having hands (somebody did, somehow, manage to fold).

T 9 7 - 9

Huh. That's a strange card. The fact that the Polish Eye 3-bet the flop lends strong evidence that I am behind. He is crazy preflop, but post flop he tends to play very straightforwardly and actually tends to miss a ton of value with his big hands. If he doesn't have a big pair, he has 4 spades. Again, the pot is huge, so I opt to misplay another street (giving me perhaps an even 3 so far) and just call when he bets into me. The player who raised the flop now raises other player calls, and the Polish Eye also calls. I stare longingly at the 20 big bet pot and call, reciting to myself that I have 9 outs to make a flush that is "probably" good, 8 outs to make a straight, which is "perhaps" good, and 2 tens that are a virtual lock. I take a minute before calling to figure out how I'll treat most rivers and then....

T 9 7 - 9 - 8

Honestly, it had not occurred to me that this was possible. The prospect of making a straight flush on the river hadn't even entered my mind, and I hadn't spent a single moment figuring out what to do if I did. The player who'd been calling all the way checked, the Polish Eye checked, and I....Donked. I quickly decided that the guy behind me's hand could be broken roughly into two catergories:

1. Full House or sweet blessed mother please quad 9s.
2. Less than that.

If he had (1), he'd raise, I'd 3-bet, and life would be peachy. If he had (2), on this river he probably wasn't even going to bet unless he'd flopped a straight with J8. And it'd have to be suited for him to call preflop, I think. So donk I did and he just called. Great, I thought, he just has like a pair of tens and wasn't even gonna bet the river. The calling dude (who's line in the hand has been call/check, call 2 cold, call/call 2 cold so far on the 3 streets) calls again, and the Polish Eye folds. I declare "straight flush" and expose my nuts. The guy behind me shows....98 sooted for a full house that he just called the river with (probably in an attempt to collect overcalls, I guess....which kinda makes sense....sorta). I am floored once again, but set to stacking the 23 bet pot.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

School is in Session

Sometime last week I found myself in the usual Garden City mid-day clusterfuck. There are some 20 games going (usually 2-3) and there is talk of starting a 40/80. Frank the prop is usually the main proponent of this move, as he always wants to gamble as much as humanly possibly in his 8 hour shift (after which he takes his wife, whom I have dubbed "bride of Frankenstein", to Bay 101, where they gamble more. I am perhaps being harsh on the wife because she recently cracked my ATs with T4o on a flop of TT4 in a 6 way raised pot but anyway). This is pretty incomprehensible to me, as the guy clearly doesn't win much, if anything, in these games, mainly because he is a gigantic alpha tilt monkey.

I can't stand Frank, as basically his goal in life seems to be either to put everyone on tilt or to simply lie in a attempt to get exactly what he wants to happen to happen 100% of the time, even though his job as a prop is really just to keep games going. He's very irritating, saying stupid stuff at the table and actively doing the things to fish that you just don't do (like saying "where are you going?" when they rake up or "seat open? come on in" when they walk past). All in all, I don't like the guy, and have adopted a policy of either completely ignoring him or, and this is more fun, saying exactly the opposite of what he wants or expects to hear 100% of the time with no concern whatsoever for the meaning of the words I'm using.

So anyway, Ned (name changed to protect the the worst floor man in the history of human existence walks around asking people if they will play 40 if he starts it. This is a stupid question, as my honest answer, 100% of the time, would be "It depends who is in it." The problem is that this is a very common answer, since while everybody who walks into Garden City is in some way functionally retarded, most can at least comprehend that playing poker with 8 people who are clearly better than you is a dumb idea. So usually enough people eventually lie to Ned the worst floor man in the history of human existence that he calls down the 40/80. This is a critical turning point in the day at Garden City, as one of two things is about to happen:

1. Most likely, after about 15 minutes of people slowly getting up from their games and ambling towards the 40 table, we get a hand off 6 ways with two props, Frank and his buddy and translator Magic. Magic is a white older prop who plays very well and has a good head on his shoulders. He has taken it upon himself, it seems, to act as a buffer between Frank and the customers and floor men, probably so Frank won't get fired and Magic can continue to play shorted handed 40 with him and take all his fucking money.

2. The game is still born, never getting off the ground, and the 3 poor saps who gave up their 20 seats to sit in it are now furious with Ned and demand to be first on the list. Ned blames the customers, who, last I checked, were always right.

So we're going through this process but for some reason it's happening earlier than usual and I'm not yet in a 20/40 game. So of course I sit at the 40/80 table hoping that the game will actually go (since I have no 20/40 seat to lose), and sure enough we end up in the (1) situation from above. The game goes off 6 handed and Frank the prop goes directly to tilt (he does not pass go, nor does he collect two hundred dollars). He loses pot after pot and within 20 minute is stuck $1400. During this time I'm up around $800, basically through winning a couple of big pots by way of the "top pair top kicker" plan. Once, however, I stole Frank the prop's blind with some cheese ball (like A5o or thereabouts) that ended up making trips on the river, and he's rather hot and bothered about it. He also has fallen into the usual trap that bad players on tilt do, whereby they see a hand at the absolute bottom of your range and begin to assume that when you open raise in that situation you always have that shitty hand and completely ignore the fact that you could have, you know, kings.

So we're doin' our thing, makin' the gamboool, slingin' the chips, and the following hand, annotated with humorous banter, occurs:

It folds to me in the CO, which in actuality is like UTG+3 because we're 7 handed. I open raise with Ace-Queen offsuit. Frank looks at me and says "Stealing again?" and then...cold-calls on the button. This is the usual response of bad players when they feel they are being pushed around. You raise? I call! This is obviously terrible, awful, obscenely horribly strategy unless you have pocket Aces, and even then is debatable stupid. The terrible small blind cold-calls like the champ that he is (he has shown down, for two bets preflop, such gems as 74 soooted and T9 off in just the last 10 hands or so), and somehow the big blind tosses his cards forward instead of 4 chips (beats me...everyone makes mistakes I guess?). I look at Frank and declare "It's time for plan B." He says "Plan B? What's Plan B?". Obviously plan B is to flop a pair....

So we're 3 handed for 7 bets, and the order of operations is Idiot, Jesse, Frank the prop.

J95 with two spades. Sadly, I do not have even a single spade, and Plan B has gone the way of the dodo bird.

The small blind checks, I bet, and Frank calls. The small blind folds, and the turn is:

J95-4 with still just two spades.

I check, and Frank says "That's plan B? Bet to see and check?" I respond in rhythm (see above regarding my plan to say the exact opposite of what he's expecting) "No, no, it's bet to check and see". My quick English skills are lost on Frank, and he repeats "So that's plan B?" I say to him, in all honestly, "Nope, we're on plan D now." You see, I completely whiffed on Plans A (steal the blinds), B (flop a pair), and C (c-bet, take it down), and have been forced to move onto my final plan D (check to Frank to induce a bluff).

Frank bets, and I think for about 10 seconds before calling. I do this to project weakness so that he'll think he can bluff the river and get the impression that I have a bad hand that won't pay off a thin value bet. Perhaps this was all lost on Frank, but whatever. I hollywooded it, and it was freaking fantastic. River....

J95-4-J with no flush

This river is fantastic. Frank's non-raise on the flop basically eliminates all Jacks from his range. I check with my left hand, while holding 8 chips in my right hand behind my stack. Frank bets, and the instant he lets go of a single chip I slide my right hand out and unfurl my call (sliding the chips forward in a line). He looks at me and says "Plan B?", still somehow confused. I say "Nope, Plan D" while waiting for him to turn over his hand. He realizes he has to show and rolls KQs. I look at the hand and shake my head declaring "no good" and roll my AQo, for basically the next best hand. The table generally concurs that my contingency plans are top-notch.

Bad Things Man, Bad Things

Curiously I'm in a bit of a funk, due to a pair of incidents both related and not to poker. I say curiously because I'm having the best monetary month of my life, despite posting a $2300 loss just yesterday.

First, on Tuesday of this week I got a late start to my poker day because I had lunch with a group of friends. We do lunch about once a month, and this month we even invited Tommy Angelo along and gave him a free roll in the credit card roulette game (blessedly I did not have to pay, bringing my life time record up to 2-2, with an average of 4.5 people in the game). Anyway, I got to Garden City around 2pm and restricted myself to playing just 20/40. Three 2 plus 2 friends were in attendance, and the four of us hopped from table to table like rabbits on crack (at least Yoda and I did). I dumped almost a rack in the 8/16 game before getting a 20/40 seat, won over 2 racks, then slowly but surely lost my chips back until I left around 7:30pm up about 300 bucks for the day. I left early because I ran into Fivos at the gym and this reminded me that I didn't really have a good excuse for missing a regular home game my friends were playing that night....yet.

On my way from Garden City to Mountain View, Danielle called me in quite the tizzy. It seems that our dog, Tyson, had managed to get himself sprayed by a skunk, and Danielle didn't know how to proceed. I immediately suggested the time honored hill billy tradition of tomato juice, which she quickly decided was a bunch of hogwash. Turns out tomato juice just masks the smell, sort of like burning a match after you devastate a bathroom. Anyway, I stopped in at the home game and called Danielle again, and this time she made it a little more clear that she wanted me to come home and help deal with the situation. At this point in the story one might ask "How did the dog get skunked? Don't you live in suburbia? Why was he off leash in the presence of skunks?" I will leave the answers to these imponderables as an exercise to the reader, or perhaps Danielle.

So home I went, and under the hose went Tyson. Turns out the correct solution to the problem is a mixture of baking soda and either vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. The compounds react to release free radicals that bind....yada yada yada. It sorta worked, but that night Tyson was still too smelly to sleep indoors and had to spend the evening under the stars on our deck (in a dogloo, with a low temperature of like 56....just so nobody calls the SPCA on me or anything).

Yesterday Tyson was still quite a bit smelly and was obviously depressed. He wasn't wagging his tail, and was obviously longing for human contact. He's a very affectionate dog you see....Danielle and I did still have to go to work, though, and my day couldn't have been worse. I spent several hours in the 20/40 game, at first winning then slowly but surely getting myself stuck $800. I was about to leave to go watch Game 7 (GG Caps), when a fantastic must move 40/80 was called down and, despite having only 60 minutes left in my day, I could not resist (I tried this exact tactic Monday and it resulted in a $3000 win). I lost $1500 on some incredible suckouts, with Hung (a regular who talks constantly and is just a huge pain the ass) doing most of the damage. On my final hand, when I was racked up and ready to leave, I raised AKo under the gun. Hung called out of the big blind (his shenanigans had been very bad today...he'd actually 'play slapped' my hand twice pretending like he could stop me from raising and after I'd lose a hand he'd say things like "How stupid can people be? Never learn...." and the like) and the board ran out:


He check/raised me on the river and I paid off his 64. He said "Thank you so much it's been so great beating you and taking your chips". As I was walking away I said "fuck you to, Hung" and he kept talking and eventually started blowing me kisses (something he'd done a few times before and makes me just want to punch him in the face) and then I called him a punk ass little bitch and walked to the cage. He is a punk ass little bitch, but losing my cool like that is just unacceptable and I felt horrible. The hockey game cheered me up a bit, and afterwards Danielle and I took Tyson to Scrub A Pup and repeated the baking soda and vinegar bath. Today I couldn't even bring myself to drive down to San Jose, for fear I'd see Mila (who was at the table) and get a lecture from here (which I deserve) about losing my cool at the table. I decided to play at the Oaks and posted a $999 win, so I guess it worked out....but yeesh, that was scary. If I hadn't put some distance between the two of us I think I might have actually hit him, and that could get me suspended or even banned from Bay 101, not to mention in trouble with the police and so forth. And from now on Hung, who is irritating but at least doesn't usually target me specifically, is going to be even worse. The moral of the story here is that it's very important not to lose your cool at the table, especially if you're doing this for a living.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Random Pimping of Something Cool

My friend wrote an iPhone App called iThirsty that I think is pretty cool. It works just like the Urban Spoon Application, which randomly selects a restaurant for you in slot machine fashion based on preferences that you input. The only difference is that his app helps you get drunker instead of fatter, which is always a plus.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Poker is Like Golf

I was thinking about this the other day, and thought it might just be interesting enough to write about. So here goes. I think that going to the casino to play poker is a lot like going out to play 18 holes of golf. Or at least I think I can talk about in such a way that we can see some contrived similarities.

1. The Teebox

When you go play a round of golf, you'll hit 18 tee shots in about 4 hours. When you head to the casino for a round of limit hold 'em, you'll probably enter the pot preflop a little more often than that, but not too much if you play like me.

Amateurs focus on the tee shot. People who suck at golf (like me) spend a lot of time at the range hitting their drivers. Amateurs tend to focus on preflop skills. People who are just learning poker (as I once was) often start with a preflop hand chart that tells them what hands they can play from what position and so forth. This chart is helpful, but falls pretty short of telling the whole story. Hitting a pretty drive is helpful, but hardly assures one of making a respectable (or even recordable) score on a given hole.

Tee shots vary greatly in terms of type and degree of difficulty. Downhill par 3, playing with the wind and no bunkers? Gimme the wedge and I'll just whack it down there. Now to the expert, there is of course much more involved. 440 yard par 4 with water up the left side and trees on the right? Yeesh. Preflop spots are the same. 2 players have limped and you're on the button with JTs. What should you do? The answer is "Put some damn money on the pot". How much? Doesn't much matter I don't think, and if it does answering the question requires a discussion of a ton of factors (how tight are the blinds? what about the limpers? will they check to you if you raise, or do they like to donk? what about your image?) An expert golfer would probably take a ton of things like these into consideration before "whacking" the wedge down at that par 3. Are there plateaus on the green? How much spin can I put on this? Should I play a fade or a draw? I'd just hit it. And an amateur poker player probably just picks an option with JTs on the button without thinking about any of the stuff I mentioned.

2. The Fairway

At this point in the hole you have to make the best of what you've left yourself off the tee. Sometimes, you'll be sitting pretty in the middle of the fairway, about to hit a nice 6 iron into a green the size of an Ikea parking lot. Others, you'll find yourself in jail, amongst a grove of sycamores, 270 yards from the hole with water in the way and two bunkers where you'd like to try to pitch out back onto the fairway in some hopes of scrambling together a bogey.

In poker, the analagous spot is the flop. You've hit your tee shot preflop, and sometimes you end up in just beatiful position. You could have Ace King in late position with only two opponents. The flop comes down K82 rainbow. This, my friends, is a pitching wedge from the short stuff. Sometimes, however, you find yourself in the proverbial woods. You raised with pocket 6s from the high-jack. Both players behind you called, then the small blind made it 3 bets. Now you're 4-handed in a bloated pot, and the board comes down the same, K82 rainbow. You could try to just pitch out onto the fairway, or even pick up your ball and walk to the next tee box. Or, you could go for the the power draw, hitting your driver off the bed of pine needles through the tiny alley you think might be clear all the way up to the green. The only problem is that a good portion of the time your ball is going to come rattling back towards you in the form of a re-raise. Now you're in even deeper, as the pot is huge and you've practically got odds to draw to 2 outs.

3. The Green

I've often heard that improving one's play around the green is the quickest way to shave strokes off a bloated handicap. My personal experience contains no evidence to refute this claim, as I often spend over half my strokes on a hole trying to move the ball the last 10% of the way to the hole. I leave my iron shot 15 yards short, then chip the ball onto the green....but it rolls off the back. Then I putt from the fringe, but leave myself a 5 footer to make 6. Which I often miss.

Turn and river play are like this in limit hold 'em. Amateurs and beginners tend to go with their first instincts when they play the big streets, especially the river. They bet when they think they have the best hand, and it's about as simple as that. More experience players realize that it's not nearly so simple. If you rate to have the best hand 60% of the time on the river, in position, you probably shouldn't bet. Sure, your hand is probably winning, but how do you like your chances once he calls? Assuming he doesn't fold any winners (a safe assumption about many of the players I play against), he'll call and win 40% of the time. If he can fold even 1 out of 3 of his losers, your bet is break even. Any more than that and you'll actually be driving yourself to value town. The point I'm trying to make is that most beginners struggle mightily on the river and don't even really know it, just like most crappy golfers struggle around the green and aren't really sure why. And in both cases, putting some work into improving would show immediate dividends.

So there you have it. This honestly didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, but I don't have the heart to scrap it. If you want your 5 minutes back, please submit a request to the customer service department.

So I wrote the above about a week ago (well, I started it then and finished it a few nights ago) and just now put it up. But today I learned of an interesting poker/golf related challenge that has been thrown down by leatherass, much in the same way durrrrrrr has laid anyone in the world 3:1 that they can't whoop him (for those of you who don't know, Tom "durrrrrrr" Dwan made an open challenge to any takers that over 50,000 hands of absurd stakes heads up poker that he will win. He laid all challengers $1,500,000 : $500,000 on the bet). The leatherass challenge, so far as I understand, works like this.

Step 1:

Play eight (8) nine hole matches for 50K a pop. I'm not sure if it's stroke play or match play.

Step 2:

Award the cumulative 72 hole winner 100K

Step 3:

Play ten (10) 50K headsup no limit hold'em freeze outs

Step 4:


I think the challenge is interesting and certainly shows that leatherass has some big cahones. But I'm at a loss for why no top PGA tour pro has taken him up on this one. Rumor has it that leatherass is about a +4 handicap. By the metrics generally used, I'd assume the 10th best PGA tour player would be something like a -3. Perhaps I don't understand something about golf (as I noted above, I suck), but wouldn't the tour pro basically be on a free roll? What are the chances that he'd lose even a single 9 hole match? The challenge is supposed to be scheduled over 4 days, leaving 2 days for the heads up poker matches. Even assuming they'd take 3 hours a piece to complete, we're really only talking about using a structure that expects hundreds of hands per match. In a match that short, in a game with as much luck as texas hold 'em, I have to believe that a reasonable player (one with basic heads up NL hold 'em skills) could expect to win at least 1 or 2 matches, even when he's obviously outclassed (leatherass is one of the most accomplished online cash game players...ever).

I'm curious what other people think, so feel free to post comments.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Just A Hand; OK, Two

I played this hand in the Bay 101 40/80 game on Monday, and thought it was interesting. The villain usually plays 80/160, and since I usually play 20/40, we've seen each other around a ton but don't really have much history.

The results, which aren't yet up in the 2 plus 2 thread, are that he checked behind on the river and courtesy showed 77. If you're gonna 3-bet with 77, you really can't just give up like that, at least in my opinion.

Decided to add a second hand....besides, it's not every day you can make a $1500 mistake in limit hold 'em.

So I'm playing live 40/80 and somehow get mixed up in a pot with Q9 of diamonds. I suspect I was the big blind (in fact now that I think of it, that was almost surely the case) and the raise came from early position. We saw the flop at least 5 handed, maybe 6 ways, which was:

QT8 with two diamonds

In other words, gin. The preflop raiser is very loose preflop, but tends to be passive after the flop. He's bad. The first two cold callers aren't awful, but the third is quite so. I check to the preflop raiser who dutifully bets (he's passive, but this is 40/80). 3 players calls and I raise the entire field. Everyone else calls. The pot is now, if I remember correctly, 11 big bets.

My memory is now failing me, as I completely forget the turn card. It wasn't a total brick, but it didn't much help me either. Let's call it a black 6.

QT8-6 with two diamonds

I lead, as I put in the last action on the last round and, since I didn't get 3-bet, I think my pair of ladies is probably still the best hand. Even if it's not, I have 9 diamonds to make the virtual nuts, 3 more jacks to make the idiot end of a straight, and 5 queens and 9s of non-zero value. The preflop raiser calls, one player folds, another player calls, and the aforementioned terrible cold-caller raises. I cry inside, don't think long enough, and call. Right after I do it, I look back at the terrible player's chip stack. He only has 6 chips left! This changes everything. First of all, the fact that he's almost out of chips makes it far more likely that he has some sort of hand that is much further from "the lock down nuts" than usual. This on the flop. Then raise the entire field on the turn, usually screams monster. But when going all in, players, especially bad ones, do particularly idiotic things. Second of all, the fact that he doesn't have enough chips to 4-bet (which I'd have to call) means that 3-betting is much cheaper than usual. I had a chance here to put 2 big bet pressure on the preflop raiser and the first cold caller for a great price. I might get one of them to fold the best hand. They assuredly each have some outs (what with me having one pair of queens at the moment), and getting them to fold a hand with even 3 outs is worth an entire big bet in a pot of this size (it's around 15 bets, which means their equity is about 1 big bet with 3 outs). But I was asleep at the switch and just called, then watched in horror as both other players called. The river bricked off and it checked through. The preflop raiser won the 19 big bet (~$1500) pot with AQ, that he played in absuredly passive fashion, and I felt like an ass for the next 30 minutes. He claimed he would have mucked had I 3-bet, and I believe him.