shipitfish: (poker-not-crime)

So, I would have expected to see the usual suspects of NYC small-time players on the Boston vs. New York show, which continues to be so bad I can't stand watching it. I wouldn't really expect it on any other show.

However, right there on the first main event episode, the feature table includes someone I know. Heck, it's even someone that I know well enough to have a pretty strong read on! I was really surprised to see her — still staring at the board when she misses and calling raises with AJo. It's Steph, someone I shared the tables with for many hours at the old O and U Clubs. Until tonight, I knew her only by her first name, as first names only is pretty typical at our semi-legal clubs around the city. Turns out she's Stephanie “windough” Klempner and seems to be PokerStars most ESPN-covered player of the 2006 main event, as she landed on the first day's television table with Phil Hellmuth.

Now, I can't speak to Steph's tournament game, but I suppose now that she's famous, I can take some liberty to make a public comment about what I know of her cash game. Truth is that (at least about six months ago) she was still one of the more beatable regulars that I encountered around the NYC clubs.

However, the big plus side is that she was always a great person to have at the table. Unlike most of the totality of NYC players, she's a kind, friendly person who is polite to everyone. That's a big exception to most of what you see around here. The saying about all NYCers being rude isn't really true in general, but it is almost completely true at the poker table. Steph was always an exception.

So, while I don't think Steph's skill is representative of what can be found in the small games of NYC poker, I'm sure that she, probably by a long shot, made a better impression of proper etiquette at a poker table than most NYC players would have. I'm glad that Steph won her satellite, and sorry she didn't cash. I don't think anyone could pick a kinder player as the token NYC small-time player for the main event.

(Because of his appearance on the first Boston vs. New York, Alfonse has previously been held up as “the quintessential NYC small-time poker player” in the media, and that's just embarrassing to us all. Too bad Steph didn't get enough air time to kill that image.)

shipitfish: (poker-not-crime)

The U Club was busted. I've confirmed it from multiple reliable sources. It was a false alarm last time, but I think it's for real this time. I'd love to be wrong, of course. Why in the world are we a top priority for the NYPD?

shipitfish: (u-club-stack-2006-02)

I was somewhat surprised that I hadn't read or seen this rather obvious pop culture connection to poker. However, as I sat at the U Club, with music fed from some staffers iPod, I heard this refrain from Tom Petty:

Baby, even the losers
Get lucky sometimes
Even the losers
Keep a little bit of pride
They get lucky sometimes

Of course, this refrain couldn't be more appropriate for poker. It also got me thinking that I don't face the constant luck attack now that I usually play NL. There are some major draw outs on occasion, but solid play can really rake it against loose players if you know what to bet. But, even the losers get lucky sometimes, no matter what form of poker.

I lost $140, but no real harm. I don't think I misplayed any pots — will post the only (vaguely) interesting hand later

shipitfish: (poker-not-crime)

I heard a rumor last night that was “confirmed” this morning: The U Club open just a few weeks, was supposedly busted on Wednesday night.

This is third incarnation of the same club. It is professional and well-run. Meanwhile, clubs run by people who have no business sense at all, like the E and L clubs, run interrupted for a year or more. We all know there is no justice in poker itself, but there's also little justice in the world of quasi-illegal poker clubs in NYC.

I am so glad to learn, now later in the day, that this was a big false alarm — there's a little justice at least. Apparently, they were closed for some non-disclosed reason. They could be on a bigger radar screen, which may mean the days are numbered, but they are up and running at the moment.

shipitfish: (u-club-stack-2006-03)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Work Dan and I were playing at the U Club when a fellow dumped a nearly $500 stack to me. He rebought for around $200, and played for a while when the following hand came up between him and Work Dan.

Work Dan (W.D.) called behind this guy, let's call him Stack Dumper (S.D.) (in honor of his earlier dump to me), in late position when S.D. had raised to $10. They saw the flop five handed with $50 and with Dan in position (some earlier limpers called the raise when it came back around to them). S.D. had about $250 behind and W.D. had about $350.

The flop was Ks Qc 9h. S.D. bet $5. He'd never bet so little into a big pot like this. Dan made it $30 to go, the rest of the field folded, and S.D. min-reraised making it $60 to go. W.D. thought for a while and called. There was $170 in the pot and the saw the turn 2d, which left the board without a flush draw.

S.D. thought for a moment and bet $55. Dan thought for nearly a minute and called. At this moment, I was beginning to feel that S.D. had JT. His play was extremely strange and didn't match up with his past behavior. I had no visual read on him that told me anything, but the betting sequence, especially given that it was so different from his past actions, seemed to shout JT.

On the river, which fell Ad, S.D. quickly grabbed the $5 chip covering his cards, put it on his remaining stack and pushed for $127 total into a $280 pot. W.D. thought for a long time. He looked at S.D. and said you have Broadway, don't you? You flopped the nuts, didn't you?. S.D. tried his best to look away, and finally met W.D.'s eyes and grinned and pushed his eyebrows up a few times. This, too, was out of character; he was a very serious player who didn't make faces like this and goof off like that. The only visual tell I noticed was that S.D. seemed pretty calm — which I usually read as a bluffer's tell — but I had no visual read when he bet the nuts to compare it to. I continued to think JT and was rooting for W.D. to fold what I thought was KQ.

W.D. thought and thought and finally called, very reluctantly. I just kept saying in my head that S.D. had the nuts. At the moment of the call, I figured W.D. must have had a set; I figured he'd fold KQ. S.D. showed the Qh 7h for a middle pair bluff, and W.D. won with 9s 9d for bottom set (on the flop).

W.D. and I debated for a long time about how he should have played it. I felt that he needed to decided on the flop or the turn if the guy had JT. If he felt there was a good chance a set was good, he had to move in on the flop or the turn. S.D. would overplay one pair for sure, but he might give up if a third straight card fell, or if the board paired, and he only held a good K. Also, if S.D. has AK, W.D. needed to charge S.D. to draw to a T.

But, after much debate, I realized I wasn't sure how to play it. I wondered some if W.D. could make it $120 to go on the flop and fold to a fourth raise, but that didn't make sense either; the hand seems too strong to fold even on a problematic board. Still, I don't think he's in a good spot when the turn blanks at him and he has to face a bet. Sure, he has position, but he's still trying to decide if the guy has the nuts or not. In the end, I don't know W.D.'s right move here.

shipitfish: (u-club-stack-2006-03)

Back at River Street once, I called a bet that was somewhere between $300 and $400. Until last week, that was the biggest single bet I'd ever called (or made, for that matter) in a poker cash game. Thursday night, I made that new amount $452, which yielded the largest pot I've ever played as well: $1,012.

Work Dan (since there are two Dans commonly mentioned in my journal, I'll start being more careful to distinguish) and I went to the U Club for an evening of poker last Thursday. The $1/$2 NL ($300 max) game was more happening than usual. There were a number of calling stations, and a number of would-be “strong” players who would make big all-in raises when they should have just called (e.g., when holding a straight made on the turn on a board that made a three-flush on the river), or who would constantly overplay one pair.

I had built a stack from my $300 buy-in to $475 when the following hand came up. I limped from middle position after one limper with 5h 7h. Most pots were seeing flops with no raises for the preceding fifteen minutes or so; the table was quite passive. Two more limped behind me and the small blind completed. The big blind (BB), a regular who has good starting hand selection but couldn't fold an overpair at all once he saw a flop, raised, making it $25 to go.

The limper between us quickly folded, and I looked to the left. I got the feeling that one of the two limpers behind me was ready to call (a calling station who would pay almost any amount for a draw). I figured the small blind and the other limper were likely to fold. I was offered 25-to-60 (roughly 1-to-2.5) direct odds to call. These weren't great, but I had a really clear idea of what the BB held. He had AK earlier, and had raised a smaller amount from the blind with roughly the same number of limpers. However, with QQ, he'd raised about this amount. I really eliminated the no-pair hands right there — I felt pretty strongly he wouldn't commit that much (he was a bit of an “absolute amount” better) with even an AKs. I decided TT was maybe a possibility, but JJ-AA were the most likely.

The BB was also very deep; he had me covered for sure (I eye-balled it at around $500, turns out it was $580). I decided to call, because if I flopped two pair or better, he would have trouble folding and put a lot into the pot drawing thin. Two folks actually called behind me (the calling station I expected and the button), and we saw the flop four-handed with $108 in the pot.

I watched the BB watch the flop. He didn't love it, but I felt before I even looked myself that he held an overpair to it. He stared for a moment, then looked at his chips and aggressively said “All in”. I began thinking why did he make such a huge overbet? as I looked down to see 5c 7c 5s. Wow! Ok, so I have the second nuts, and someone likely drawing to two outs just bet $450 at me!

I looked behind me to see if there was any way I could showboat to get the short (relative) stacks to call, probably drawing at a flush. They looked as ready to fold as anyone could look, so I said Call and watched their cards hit the muck. He tabled the As Ah, and stared at me, looking worried. When the fourth five hit the board, I turned my hand up saying: You have outs to the bad beat jackpot, I think. (As it turned out he didn't; the bad beat jackpot at the club had been hit the previous night, and they'd increased the requirement from “any aces-full beat” to “aces-full-of-kings beat”, but I didn't know that until after the hand was done.)

I counted out my chips and said, $452, I think, dealer, please recount me, though. Meanwhile, this guy was going ballistic. I didn't listen to most of it; it went on for a full minute. The last utterance was: what do I need to raise preflop to get you off that donkey shit?. I didn't know what to do, I wanted to remain silent but felt bad and wanted to say something. I gave the only answer that came to mind: If you went all-in preflop, I wouldn't have called. I should have kept my mouth shut, because that probably made it worse, but I didn't know what to do with the guy flipping out. (He fortunately wasn't the beat-you-up-outside-later type, but I made sure waited a full half after he left before leaving.)

He kept muttering but I just ignored it as the dealer squared and shipped. There was a lot of chat after the fellow left (an hour later after he dumped his rebuy to Work Dan — more on that later) about why he'd made this overbet. My best theory remains that he was focused on the other stacks, which were only about $200 at most. I think he thought that he was overbetting by about 2-to-1 instead of nearly 4.5-to-1. It's a great example of making sure you know the stack sizes. I didn't feel bad because I'm always careful to keep my stack visible with all greens up front.

In the end, considering his reaction, I think he was more angry with himself for the overbet than he was at me for playing 57s. And, hey, maybe I am a donkey. But, knowing he'd often overplay an overpair, I think I had reasonable implied odds to call. What do you all think?

Obligatory stack pictures are available as always.

shipitfish: (u-club-stack-2006-02)

The O Club and The I Club have been merged into a single new club in a new location, which I'll be calling the U Club. This is my new favorite spot to play for a number of reasons that will go in my review (yes, I'm really going to write those reviews RSN). I visited on Tuesday night to play for a few hours after work. I arrived and found a single full NL $1/$2 game, for which I added myself to the list.

While I waited, I took a seat in the $10/$20 limit HE game run by the T.E., the proprietor of the I Club. This was a tough game. I made the sixth player in this short-handed, aggressive game. I knew nearly all the players from previous visits to the I Club. T.E. himself was playing, as was M.S., who is a pro-ish poker player who co-ran the O Club and now helps run the U Club. I can beat M.S. when he's off his game, and he tilts pretty easily, but there was no indication he was there yet, as the game had just started.

I picked the seat that seemed to put the most aggressive players on my right, although, as it turned out, I still ended up with a very aggressive player in my left. I didn't really want to be in this game. But, I didn't want to wait to play. Also, I don't want T.E. to feel he can't draw people into the game at this new club, as this $10/$20 game can get really good. Thus, I don't want this game to stop running for lack of interest. I'm of course not going to stay in a bad game for a long time, but giving it time to keep it going while waiting for another seat seems like a reasonable long-term investment.

I quickly lost $200 by trying to muscle the aggressive players a bit, which was probably a general mistake. I work much better in short-handed limit games like those online, where there are hyper-aggressive people who take flops a bit too easily. Instead, I was surrounded by mostly tight-aggressive players who knew tons about the game.

I picked up my best starting hand in my half hour in this game when I caught Ks Ts in the cut-off. The tight player to my right raised, but I had noticed he'd been attacking the blinds pretty hard. I felt that he didn't necessarily have a hand that beat mine.

Calling would have been foolish; I had to clear the field and decided to three-bet. I was mortified when M.S. called cold from the SB, and was sure I was beat in at least once place. I felt better when that tight player just called. At this point, I had him on probable medium pair or a reasonable ace-high. If he had me dominated, it was by KQ specifically, I thought. But, meanwhile M.S. was the big concern.

The flop came Q-high with two spades. The two checked to me, I bet, M.S. called and the tight player raised. I obviously needed to catch to win, so I just called. M.S. tossed his hand quickly, and I was hoping that maybe we had cleared a K from the field and given myself two additional outs. The turn hit the draw with the As.

The tight player bet and I just called, which I realized was a silly move. I doubted after calling that he'd bet the river, because if he had only a pair, he would be too afraid of the board. OTOH, I suppose raising right away might get a fold from a Q, whereas that Q might check-call the river if I only called the turn. Regardless, I was unhappy with my mere call as the river came.

I was surprised when he bet again. I raised and got paid off. He mucked what he said was two pair, and was a bit unhappy that I played KTs in that spot, but I am still pretty happy with the play from start to finish, save the mere call on the turn.

A few minutes later, I surprisingly discovered that this player was none other than [livejournal.com profile] brettbrettbrett! A few minutes later, Dan from the old I Club and River Street showed up. He reminded [livejournal.com profile] brettbrettbrett of a goofy hand where I bluff-raised Dan on the river after misreading the board on the flop and getting in deep with no way to win. [livejournal.com profile] brettbrettbrett decided that given that loose play, he surely should have three-bet with two pair in our spot just a few minutes earlier. Too bad Dan hadn't shown up a few minutes earlier to give [livejournal.com profile] brettbrettbrett that advice. :)

With Dan joining the game, it was getting even worse. I was walking away down just $2, and I was glad to see that enough people had shown up to get a second $1/$2 NL game going.

I was also glad to see the new game included a number of regulars from the old O club. Mostly, they were tight-weak players who overplay one pair. At the other end of table, were two players — a woman and a man — who had showed up together, and seemed like they must have been O regulars, but probably from the late period just before the bust since I'd never seen them before. I never caught the fellow's name, but heard the woman, K.A., tell many people her name.

Indeed, it was hard not to hear her. She gave a running commentary of every hand to her friend, cagily trying to cover her mouth as she spoke. This is the moment where I really love the Bose headphones. So many people think I can't possibly hear that well with them on, when, in fact, it is the best way to hear people whispering across the table because they filter out the noise in-between.

Not, however, that there was anything that interesting being said. Her analysis was obvious and lacked insight. She also got amazingly frustrated by the most minor of things. It was as if someone acting out of turn was a personal affront to her sensibilities. She started to get on my nerves.

As my annoyance rose, it brought something about my own play to my attention. From time to time, I used to be a player who wasn't all that different from K.A. Surely I have “been her” at the table more often in the past than I would like to remember. I realized that her ego and self-importance about how poker worked was part of my edge in the game. I'd been there before; I'd made that selfish mistake of thinking the game was there for me, and now I could see her doing the same thing. I had the same edge against her in the game that others used to have against me.

I unfortunately didn't gain a moment against her to use to my advantage, but her money moved around the table enough as she played too obvious of a game, failed to bet out with top pair and bemoaned that those who had called her preflop raise with junk had hit a higher pair on the turn. Generally, she played in that “tight but uninformed” style that I've come from prefer in players. It's amazing to see people who learn enough about the game to not be total fish then just stagnate. People just don't seem to realize that anything worth doing requires a lifelong endeavor of learning to keep pace.

Indeed, the game reminded me about the need for constant vigilance in poker. I made an horrendous call with the nut straight on a runner-runner flush board that was checked around on the flop. I rivered the straight after calling a small bet on the turn, and then made the classic widow poker mistake of not being cognizant that shared cards mean a card that helps you can often help your opponent more. And, after all, straight vs. flush is the easiest of all examples of this concept.

That $82 lost, and being $250 down by then, I looked at my clock and decided I'd leave that game even or better. Now, it's not usually good to set goals that confined in a time frame, since there's often not enough time to recover. But, I felt at that moment if I put some pressure on myself to truly play a better game than all of my opponents, I'd succeed.

I fortunately didn't disappoint myself. I trapped a hyper-aggressive chronic bust-and-rebuy player for his whole stack when we both turned a flush and mine was the nut-flush. (I'll put more about that hand in a post this weekend.) Once I got that stack, I had to tighten up and avoid drawing hands as two reasonable but beatable players were on my left with bigger stacks. I hoped to trap them and double through in a big way, but instead I picked up a pretty good pot by out-kicking a JT with AT against a passive player on my right. I was $100 up as the hour of my departure rolled around.

Sometimes, it's worth looking at a weak game and setting a goal for the night for yourself.

(I took obligatory stack shots.)

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shipitfish

November 2016

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