Exits to freeways twisted like knots on the fingers.
And so our hero has arrived at April 30. April 30 being a significant day, you see, because it is the last day for which he has secured housing for himself in Los Angeles. April 30 also being significant because his home in New York will be unoccupied for May.
You are going to Reseda to make love to a model from Ohio whose real name you don't know.
It would seem, then, that it's time to start spreading the news. I'm not leaving today, though -- more likely early to mid-week next week. Need time to sell my car and put my meager California affairs in order. What it ultimately comes down to is that I still have pesky educational debt to pay, and it appears more likely that I can find employment suitable to accomplishing that task in New York than I can here. Coupling my unemployed status with my lack of admission to the California bar has not made matters particularly easy for me, so outside of a career change or a $3,000 investment with an uncertain return, I see few alternatives.
And the radio man says "It is a beautiful night out there."
And the radio man says "Rock and roll lives."
And the radio man says "It is a beautiful night out there in Los Angeles."
To be honest, I'm still not sure how I feel about leaving. There's nothing wrong with New York. Considering it was my home for nine years, I must like the place. The thing is, as strange as it may sound, Los Angeles has grown on me. The weather certainly can't be beat.
Los Angeles beckons the teenagers to come to her on buses.
It's all so odd. I moved here on a whim after a visit early last July, not entirely sure if it was for me or not but willing to give it at least half a try. I never fully committed to Los Angeles, though, keeping my apartment in New York and subletting an apartment here, and now that's coming back to bite me in the butt. My Crooklyn subtenant walked out a month and a half early to pursue a job somewhere else, so you know who was left standing when the music stopped. (Not her.) My over-tenant here turned out to be overcharging me for his rent controlled apartment. Now that I know and refuse to pay the exorbitant overcharge, has decided to break his lease completely. You know who was left standing when the music stopped. (Not him.) The realities, then, dictate "New York" to me, even though I have no particular desire to leave Los Angeles.
You live in Los Angeles and you are going to Reseda.
I get to have The Conversation with the girlfriend tomorrow, the same day that she gets back from ten days in Romania. That should be loads of fun. She is aware of the conflicting problems and the potential resolution of all of them, but it's still going to be ugly, I'm sure. These are all problems of my own making, though, so it's hard for me to play any sort of victim card here. Not that I'm trying to. More like, just reflecting upon what an abject mess I've made to clean up.
We are all in some way or another going to Reseda some day
Gah, I have that stupid PP&M song stuck in my head now. Someone shoot me, please.
Friday, April 30, 2004
Exits to freeways twisted like knots on the fingers.
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Hmm, in discussing my second satellite with a friend, he had this to say:
"If there was an all-in move missed, it was with the KQ.
This is a theory I'm working on... let's say you are considering a raise. You have a choice between raising to 3x or 4x the big blind or pushing all-in. If the amount you will have left after raising will be less than a pot sized bet on the flop, you should push all-in, call or fold. You should not raise to 3x or 4x the big blind."
I hate to simply call in that spot, so maybe pushing would have been a better choice than my raise to 600. It's certainly more aggressive, and my problem the whole day was a lack of aggression. 1800 is a lot for A-9 to have to call.
When I got to Binion's yesterday, it was a madhouse. They were running the $1500 Limit 08 event, which had over 300 players. In addition, the satellite area was running $125 NL, $225 NL and $175 PL holdem satellites, in addition to a couple of $1030s. They also had a fair number of cash games going. The $50 satellite area was not even in the main room, but rather off to the side in the sports book.
After four hours in the car, I was itching to go, so when I found out about the $125 satellites, I jumped into one of those. The pay-out was $1000 in tournament chips and $120 in cash. I figured if I could win it, I'd have a free roll to a one-table satellite for the main event. They weren't running the double shootouts anymore, supposedly, but the effect of the $125 satellite -- the way I intended to play it -- was the same. And I liked my odds of winning two single-table satellites way better than finishing in the top two of a single-table and then high enough in a multi to win a seat.
I drew the ten-seat. Ugh. I absolutely abhor sitting next to the box. Even the nine-seat would have been better. Nothing to be done about it. The button started at the five-seat and we were off. Initial stack of 1000, initial blinds of 25/25.
I folded my first couple of hands, which were all worthless, and tried to get a feel for the table. It seemed to be playing very tight, especially since my only live tournament experiences since the Borgata tourney in November have been the crazy $10 rebuy tournaments at the Bike, which are populated by more callers than a telemarketer convention. In actuality, though, I think it WAS playing extremely tight. I can't recall a river showdown in the first three levels that didn't involve an all-in.
If I had brought my A game, I would have quickly noticed this and adjusted my strategy to take advantage of it. My normal strategy at a table of unknowns is to start out pretty tight in the first two or three levels and then open it up once I have a better feel. The problem with this strategy at Binion's, though, is by the time Level 4 rolls around, the blinds are at a whopping 100/200.
But we'll get there. Anyway, on the first orbit, in my small blind, I see my first decent hand -- AQs. There is one EP limper and then a raise to 75 from MP before it folds to me. Now, if I had considered how quickly the blinds would go up, I probably would have reraised here (or folded). Instead, I stupidly call, as does EP. What am I doing?! Why do I want to call that bet from the small blind? Ugh. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I missed the flop by a mile, as it came down Kxx, all clubs. With no clubs in my hand and only an overcard, I check-folded to the predictable bet from MP.
A few hands later, in MP, I caught AJs. The action folded to me, so I opened for 100. The 1-seat raised to 300 and was cold called by the button. Into the muck went my AJ.
At least an orbit went by without me seeing much worthwhile. That's when I probably should have started opening it up a bit, as it was clear by then the table was playing tight, so tight in fact that we made it out of Level 1 without losing a single player. The first guy to go, an Asian guy in the three seat, limped in from MP after it was folded to him. Everyone else folded except the BB, who took a free flop. The flop was pretty raggedy and unconnected, coming down ten high. Check, check. The turn was a six. BB checked again, MP bet out and was check-raised. He came over the top all-in, BB moved his stack in as well and they exposed. BB had T6 for two pair; MP had AA. No help on the river and he was gone. From trapper to trapped. A terrible play. I guess he figured that the table was playing so tight, if he raised, he'd only collect the blinds. Better than busting out to T6, though.
Be that as it may, tight was right at the table, but somehow I didn't adjust. I found myself playing hit-to-win, and since the deck was not being very friendly, it was tough going. In Level 3 (50/100), I folded 33 at UTG+1. The next hand, UTG, brought 66. Muck. Had I known that was the last pocket pair I was going to see for a long while I might have tried to play it.
Level 3 also brought one of the strangest plays I've seen in a while. The five-seat, an Indian guy who had been sucking on a cigar butt the entire time and had lost most of his stack with AQ to pocket tens, threw in his last 50 chips. Action folded to the small blind, a Russian, who raised to 300. The big blind, the guy to my right, sighed and mucked. The Russian took back 250 and opened -- 4h 5h! The Indian guy had something marginally decent -- A8 maybe -- and took the pot when neither improved. Ah, the big blind was NOT happy, claiming he had mucked a K2 that would have made a pair of kings and berated the small blind for raising with such junk. The Russian just laughed and said "I was getting a freeroll to take him out!" Sure, but why not just complete the blind and then check the action down? Two heads are better than one.
The Indian threw in his 150 on the next hand, my BB. I had J7. This time, the Russian called. I completed the raise from 100 to 150. We both missed, though, and the Indian won again. Up to 450.
By the time we got to Level 4 we'd lost a few more players (including the Indian guy - his luck ran out), and eventually it was down to 5-handed. The guy to my right and I were both short-stacked (I had 700), versus three roughly equal size stacks. In my BB (200), I see KTo. The button opened for 600 folding the SB, and I went into the tank. There was no question in my mind that the button had already stolen a few pots. He also was betting when the two short stacks were both in the blinds. I thought back to a similar experience in the Borgata tourney, with KTo in the BB facing a raise that would put me all-in against someone who I knew had been stealing. I called it then, and beat his K3. I figured that my stack here was going to be even more severly crippled than it already was, and KT was the best hand I'd seen in a while, so why not. I went all-in for 700, he called and exposed big slick. Crap. The board brought no help for either of us and out the door I went.
Needless to say, that was NOT according to plan. I joined the railbirds and watched the rest of it play out. The guy next to me busted soon after, leaving the three big stacks, who played around for a while until one of them had his kings busted by a rivered straight. He couldn't recover from that, leaving two stacks who quickly agreed to a 60/40 chop.
I wandered back to the $50 satellite area and considered trying one, but the lure of the $125s was too strong so I decided to try one more, and only one more. This time, I drew the two seat, and the button started at the four seat. This table was not nearly as tight as the previous one. In fact, we dropped three players on the first orbit. On the second hand, the guy to my left doubled up when he flopped a flush v. someone else's two pair; two hands later a flopped nut flush took out a flopped very non-nut flush; and then shortly after that came this hand.
Two players in for a modest preflop raise. The flop came down J-7-J. Turkish guy in the five seat checked, then called a bet from an old man in the seven seat. The turn was another 7. Check, check. The river was a 4. Turkish guy bet, old guy raised, Turkish guy reraised all-in. The old guy immediately threw the rest of his gray chips (100) into the pot while holding onto 3 greens (25) in his hand. They opened -- Turkish had AJ for jacks full, old guy had 44 for 4s full. The dealer began to count the stacks to see if Turkish had the old guy chipped. Turkish had 900, old guy had 800 grays in the pot, so the dealer pushed everything to Turkish.
This prompted a roar from the rest of the table, though, because the old guy was still sitting at the table with 75 chips in front of him! The dealer didn't seem to see the greens that were still in the old guy's hand, assuming that he threw in his entire stack when he called the all-in. The old guy started spluttering about how he called all of the raise and was still left with 75 chips afterwards, but there was no way the rest of the table was going to let him get away with it. The dealer quickly called over a floorperson, who ruled that the old guy owed the last 75 to Turkish. He spluttered some more before throwing his chips onto the felt and stomping off.
The next interesting moment came at the first hand of Level 4 (100/200). The guy in the nine-seat, who doubled through in the battle of the dueling flushes, had the button. When the action folded to him, he threw in three grays (100) without a declaration. My small blind was trash that quickly found its way into the muck. The player to my left, a middle-aged guy with a pointy nose, then pointed out that the blinds were 100/200 so a legal raise would have to be to 400. The nine-seat tried to slide another gray out, but a second ruckus erupted as Pointy Nose squawked that the nine-seat had not declared a raise nor put in enough chips for a legal raise and should therefore be limited to a call. The floorperson was called over a second time, and this time incredibly ruled that the nine-seat would be allowed to complete the raise! Pointy Nose was livid as his cards hit the muck, saying that the floorperson "must be a fucking mind reader", and afterwards the nine-seat acknowledged that even he thought he should not have been allowed to complete the raise.
Meanwhile, the deck had gone ice cold for me, but I had managed to scrape enough pots together to climb up to 2000. The player who went out fifth, a young, beefy guy with the name "Albert" tattoed on his right arm and who I was dead sure would go out early, somehow survived until he went all-in as a short stack with big slick. He got called by the nine-seat in the blind with A8, who went runner-runner for a straight. Albert stood up, turned to walk away, then turned back, leaned over the table and gave the board a one-finger salute. It was amusing.
That left four of us: me at 2000, Turkish with probably around 3500, an Asian guy in the eight-seat with 1400, and the nine-seat with the rest. On my button, I looked down to see KQ. The nine-seat limped in, but four-handed I almost never limp. It's raise or fold, so I pumped it up to 600. The blinds folded; the nine-seat, a pretty tight player throughout, called. The flop came down 9-4-3 and he checked it to me. A little bell went off in my head telling me to take the free card despite the potential weakness it would show, so I did. The turn brought the ace of spades and he now bet it out. Part of me wanted to believe that he was just bluffing at the ace, but a more rational part of me pointed out that it would be very difficult (not to mention insane) for me to call with nothing. I folded.
The nine-seat flashed his cards to Asian before throwing them towards the muck, prompting Turkish to immediately demand that the hand be exposed. Show one, show all. The dealer then asked the nine-seat if he could expose the hand! The nine-seat was confused, and so the dealer mucked the hand and began shuffling the deck. Argh. Turkish turned to Asian and sternly asked that he reveal what the cards were. Asian replied "Ace-nine."
The blinds went up to 200/400 two hands later, putting me in danger of quickly being blinded out. Imagine my delight, then, when I saw my first Group 1 hand of the entire day (probably close to 100 hands) -- QQ. Not only was it my first Group 1 hand, it was also the first pocket pair I'd seen since I folded the sixes in Level 3 of the previous satellite. Action folded to the nine-seat who raised to 800, and of course I pushed my last 1400 out. It wasn't too tough for him to call, being one of the dominant stacks and already in for 800. He turned over KQo, which was both good and bad. Good, because he was drawing dead to half his hand. Bad, because when the flop came A-K-2, they were already starting to shovel the dirt on me. Go figure, the case queen didn't come and I went out fourth.
I thought about those two hands for a long time on the drive home. The reason why the nine-seat was able to bust my queens was because I didn't have enough chips left to protect my hand. The reason why I didn't have enough chips left to protect my hand was because of the 600 lost on the KQ. Maybe the raise to 600 was too much? Would the extra 200 have made the difference on the last hand, though? Probably not. And four-handed, I have to bring KQ in for a raise, especially with one guy limping in already. I could have bet the flop, but if he really did have A9 I doubt he would have folded, so I probably just would have busted out two hands sooner because any bet on the flop would pot-commit me.
Thinking through it, I don't think there's any better way to have played those two hands. It was just a problem of my own making, because I couldn't find a way to increase my stack early enough so that I would have been able to protect the queens when I got them. With the blinds going up as fast as they did, aggression was of paramount importance, and I just didn't have it.
Sunday, April 25, 2004
I've been AWOL again. Lots of things are up in the air for me right now, and they've all contributed to a general malaise. I had firm intentions in the last few days to right up entries about Russia's smoking reform efforts and about the pressure being felt in Japan by the Japanese citizens who were recently released from captivity in Iraq, but I just didn't get to it. I haven't even played a single hand of poker since last Wednesday's trip to the Bike, which is very unusual for me.
All that is going to change, though. With my girlfriend currently out of town, I'm planning to head to Binion's tomorrow to try one or two of the $50 satellites. My main reason for going is to shake things up a bit and to try to break out of the rut I've been in, but I'd also like to witness the craziness of the WSOP in person. As I understand it, the $50 satellites are one-table satellites that pay two entries into a $225 super satellite with $200 rebuys. I think it would be fun to try one or two of those $50 satellites, and hell -- Vegas is only a 4-hour drive from here. I'm not sure I'd play the multi if I won a seat in it, though. While it would be fun to play for a seat into the main event, the rebuys make me very leery because I suspect they contain an add-on component as well. I'm not exactly flush with cash at the moment, so I'm not sure I could justify taking the add-on which would, presumably, be required to win a seat.
The last time I tried a NLHE rebuy multi without taking the add-on, at a super satellite for the 2003 Legends of Poker at the Bike, I only survived as long as I did because I hit a couple of flops in a HUGE way at just the right time. I think I was all-in as a short stack at least seven or eight times in that tournament, ekeing my way down to the final five by hitting a couple of sets, a nut flush and a full house all-in, before my AQs got taken out by AKs -- a huge blunder, because at that point I was probably in third chip position. It was especially unfortunate because the satellite paid a $5200 seat to first place, and $1200, $800 and $400 to second through fourth respectively. Fifth place got the distinction of being bubble boy. I only have one other live final table to my name, a $100 rebuy NLHE tournament at the Borgata in November in which I placed 8th out of 70 when I overplayed a pair of 8s from UTG. So, I don't have any illusions about winning a seat out of the multi.
But, in the end, it's a tank of gas there and a tank back, plus the cost of the satellites. If I really am going to be moving out of LA soon, I should take advantage of my proximity to Binion's while I can. An added bonus is that I find the drive across the desert to be both relaxing and scenic. I will, of course, write up a full trip report upon my return.
Thursday, April 22, 2004
I am not a violent person. Anyone who knows me would probably attribute my pacifism to the fact that most sixth-grade children outweigh me, and maybe they're right. After all, the average adult could mop the floor with the average sixth grader. But just because I don't go looking for fights doesn't mean I back off of them and let myself get pushed around.
For instance, there was the time in the seventh grade when that punk Sean Vanderwerf shoved me by my locker. Before I even knew what had happened, the words "Do you wanna go?" wafted into the hallway, seemingly from the direction of my mouth. Sean, of course, was not going to let his ego suffer by backing down from a fight with a glasses-wearing nerd and said, "Ok, yeah. Let's do this." The predictable circle of students ensued, but all we really did was shove each other a few times. No punches were thrown, and we managed to disperse before any teachers caught on to what was going on, saving me a detention and/or suspenion (which would not have gone over well in the asphnxma househould, I assure you).
Fast forward fifteen years to the sixth hole at lovely Penmar-by-the-Sea Golf Course. A rather deplorable tee shot on this 423 yard gem put me in the first cut of rough on the right side of the fairway, approximately 225 yards from the green. The ball was sitting up, though, so I figured I could use a fairway wood for my next shot and pulled my 5-wood, normal range about 200 yards, from my bag. The group ahead of mine was still on the green, but even with a perfect shot, I didn't expect to reach them.
If this were a movie, the camera would now go into slow motion as I start my backswing. Then there would be a cut to a shot of the group on the green, focusing particularly on the flag. An astute observer would notice that the flag was flapping stiffly in a strong breeze blowing towards the green. Then the camera would cut back to me as I come into my downswing and strike the ball solidly on the sweet spot of the clubhead and swing through it with a perfect follow-through. Ordinary time would resume as the ball is launched in the air from my point to a spot ten yards in front of the green before rolling the full length of the green and stopping six feet from the flag at the back of the green.
As you can imagine, my ball rolling onto the green displeased the group ahead of me, who were still putting out. True, they were in no danger from my ball, but it's bad golf etiquette to even roll one past the group ahead of you (unless they are moving SO slowly that you feel like firing a warning shot across their bow). One guy, dressed in jogging pants, a yellow tee-shirt and a black sweater vest, turned around and stared at me, so I offered a half-wave apology. In a weird quirk of the layout at Penmar, reaching the seventh tee requires you to walk partially back down the sixth fairway, so I knew I would need to offer a fuller apologize when our group inevitably passed the one ahead of us. He stared a bit longer after I waved, then resumed his putting.
Once they were done, they replace the flag and started to move on towards the seventh tee. Before leaving the green, though, the sweater vest guy picked up my ball and threw it off the green. Ah, lovely. I could already sense the ugliness that was going to unfold. As the other members of my group were preparing to hit their approach shots, I moved down the fairway to intercept sweater-vest guy. We met up right near the seventh tee, and I called out "Sorry for hitting up on you. I was 225 out and didn't think I could reach." He waved it off non-chalantly until I added, "But you didn't need to throw my ball off the green."
Well now the battle was joined. The guy, probably in his late 30s, got right up in my face, allowing me to appreciate how he towered a good six inches over me and had me covered by at least seventy pounds. He started lecturing me about how I made a bad choice, and how the fact that I have a club in my bag that could reach that far means I should have waited, etc. I said, "I apologized for hitting up on you. You've never made a mistake?" He responded, "You didn't apologize. You came here to apologize and to chastize. That's not an apology."
This sort of verbal sparring continued as I pressed him on the fact that he wouldn't a) accept my apology or b) offer one of his own for then childishly throwing my ball off of the green. It escalated into a shouting match until he said something, and unfortunately I can't remember what, that struck me as just the most inane thing he could have said in the situation. I responded, "So what?" Well, THAT seemed to hit a nerve. He looked down at me from behind his cheap sunglasses and asked, "Did you just say 'so what' to me?" as if I he was some sort of Voice From On High who should never be questioned or challenged. I said, "Yes. SO. WHAT."
If he wasn't up in my face before, he REALLY got up in my face, shouting more of his pedantic bullshit. When he was finished, he pushed past my, using the time-honored "shoulder shove" technique, clipping my left shoulder with his left. Now. Mrs. asphnxma didn't raise her son to be a fighter, but she didn't teach him to let people push him around, either. As the guy moved past me, I spun and shoved him on by. It wasn't a shove that could send him off his feet, just a shove to let him know that I, too, can shove and that I'm not going to take that sort of crap from anybody, no matter how much bigger they are than me.
He came storming back at me, screaming at how I shouldn't be mixing it up with someone his size and menacing me a bit. I didn't think he would actually swing -- he seemed too much like someone desperately trying to prove that they've risen above that type of behavior. Instead, after claiming that someone in our group had hit up on them on the first hole, he just shouted that we had better not hit up on them again, or he would do worse than shove me. I just rolled my eyes and repeated, "Do worse?" He said, "Yeah. I'll break every club in your bag."
Whatever. I could tell this guy was never going to back down, that if anyone was going to end this little pow-wow it had to be me. So I spit out a "Fuck you" at him and turned and walked away. He made some comment about "how big you are when you're walking away from me" or such other bullshit, but I just responded with a one-finger salute without even looking at him.
Who says golf is boring? The delicious coda to this story is that, in his haste to get off of the sixth green, he left behind his pitching wedge. I picked it up, figuring that I would either give it back to him if he came looking for it or turn it in to the clubhouse. Two holes later, he walked back towards us and asked if we had found a pitching wedge on the previous hole. How delightful it was for me to pull it from my bag and watch him try to find the manners to thank me.
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
Today is Wednesday, which means the Bike held their $50 NLHE tournament at 12:15. I drove over there, determined to put in a better showing than last time by playing solid, aggressive poker. I reminded myself that the tournament plays very much like an online sit-and-go tournament, with an initial stack of 800 and initial blinds of 10/15. And I seem to do reasonably well at those. Solid. Aggressive.
I started at UTG+1 and folded my first two hands. The second hand, after several people limped in, the player to my right chased a spade flush with 7s 4s out of the big blind, calling pot-sized bets on the flop and the turn before catching his fifth spade on the river. The player who lost, with top pair and a strong kicker, didn't seem pleased. I marked the guy to my right as a chaser who would draw to non-nut hands and filed it away.
On the third hand, my big blind was raised and I mucked whatever trash I had. That brought me to the fourth hand, in the small blind, with Qd Td. There were two limpers, including the chaser to my right who was on the button. At the 10/15 level, I almost always complete my small blind if it hasn't been raised, no matter what I have. So I completed, the big blind checked, and away we went.
The flop was Q-J-5, rainbow, giving me top pair, medium kicker. I made a pot-sized bet to find out where I was at. The big blind folded, but both limpers called. I immediately put the guy to my right on another draw. The turn was a total brick. With 210 chips in the pot, I bet out 200, which induced a fold from one of the remaining players. The other, the chaser, thought it over for a bit before calling. I knew he was drawing. Any non-scary card on the river would mean a bet from me.
The river was another jack, and the chaser immediately checked out of turn. Well, great. Now I knew what he was drawing to. (Side note: I hate angle players.) I checked and said, "Show me your jack." He replied, "I guess you've got a good read on me" and turned over KJo. Mildly irritating, as my stack was down to 520. Not a complete travesty, of course, but irritating nonetheless. I tried consoling myself with the thought that chasing was going to catch up with this yahoo at some point, and that I just needed to be there when it did.
Next hand, my button, brought me Ah Qh. Everyone folded to the chaser, who limped in for 15. Not this time. I put in a raise to 100, folding the small blind. The big blind called before the chaser turned to me and said, "You want me out, huh?" but called as well (of course he called!). The flop came 3-5-6, giving me nothing. I had to believe it missed everyone, though, so the only hand I feared was any pocket pair. Both players checked, and I decided to move all-in with my last 420. No chasing, and if they've got a medium pocket pair, so be it. The big blind folded, and the chaser debated before calling. With K5o. Ugh. He turned a king to boot, so I was drawing dead on the river. And just like that, I was out. Five hands. So much for strong and aggressive.
As I got up from the table, somebody else said "if you can't get king-five offsuit to fold with that preflop raise, there's nothing you can do." I guess.
I moved over to a 3-6 table to get my money back. As soon as I sat down, I could tell it was a good table. There were older women in the 1 and 2 seats, both with about half a rack in front of them; a dark-skinned older guy in 3 with a full rack; a heavy guy in 4 with significantly less than a rack who I quickly learned loved to raise suited kings from any position; 5 was empty, later to be filled by a middle-aged guy who would badly overplay two pair and trips in the face of obvious straights, flushes and full houses; 6 was an Asian woman with a decent-sized stack; 7 quickly became a young guy who was sitting at my table in the tournament; I was in 8; and 9 was an Asian guy wearing headphones that I see at the Bike every time I'm there. He's a decent player, and a couple of hands confirmed that the Asian woman knew what she was doing, but nobody else played well at all.
After about twenty minutes, the guy to my right was already down half a rack. He seemed to be playing just about every hand, and gradually he began angrily mucking his cards when he folded and muttering about how he couldn't hit a single flop. I could see the signs of tilt building. Ten minutes later, he still hadn't won a hand and was fairly steaming after he three-bet his pocket tens and lost to the four-seat's AQs when an ace flopped. What made the hand interesting was that the flop came 8-A-2, and the turn put out another ace. The Bike runs "bad beat jackpots" -- a qualifying hand is aces full of tens or better beaten by quads or better, both hole cards playing for both players. The bad beat is currently at $15,000, and gets split as follows: 25% for the player who won the hand, 50% for the loser, and 25% split amongst every other player who was dealt into the hand. Now, it was obvious to everyone at the table that the guy to my right had a pocket pair, and equally obvious that the four-seat had an ace, though whether it was big enough to qualify for the jackpot...? Unclear. The four-seat bet out his trips on the turn, and the guy to my right, knowing that an ace on the river would bring a jackpot, folded! After the four-seat expressed some incredulity at that, the guy to my right muttered "Well, don't bet then."
I don't know. There were two spades on board at that point, so I think the four-seat has no choice but to bet and protect his hand. After all, 43 times out of 44 there's not going to be a jackpot. On the other hand, how could the seven-seat fold! He has to call six dollars for a 43 to 1 shot at winning $7,500. Seems like a no-brainer to me.
Well, the loss with the tens pushed the seven-seat to the brink. A few hands later, in my big blind, I caught 53o. He raised his small blind after several other players had already limped in, and I decided to call to see if I could flop something interesting. The flop was 4-6-8, giving me an open-ended straight draw. It wasn't to the nuts, but that didn't bother me. I was trying to push this guy over the edge. He bet out and I called, as did a few others. The turn was a ten, and he checked. I thought about betting here to represent the made straight, but decided just to check, figuring that someone behind me might have hit the ten. Everyone else checked as well. The river was a seven. He checked. I bet. Fold. Fold. He called. I turned over my 53o and he imploded. We're talking, total meltdown. There was an "Unbelievable!" as he practically threw his cards at the dealer. I very cheerily thanked the dealer as he pushed the pot to me, which only seemed to incense the guy on my right further. He quickly tilted off the rest of his money, losing the last of it by raising pocket eights into a board of K-3-K. He was basically drawing dead, of course, because the original bettor had king-ten. He angrily pushed up from the table, slammed a newspaper against his chair, and stormed off. My guess is he lasted about forty-five minutes at the table, managing to burn through a whole rack in that time.
After an hour, I was up $30. I continued to wait, playing and losing several few drawing hands over the next twenty minutes. Then, in the cut-off, I was dealt pocket jacks. Now even though my girlfriend loves pocket jacks, it's a tough hand to play in low-limit holdem, as I recently told Ugarte, because low-limit holdem is populated by calling stations who will play any face card for any number of preflop bets. The table I was at was no exception -- we were seeing 5 or 6 players on most flops, whether the pot had been raised or not. A queen, king or ace will flop approximately 60% of the time, and since you get so many people playing faces, you're basically targetting that other 40% of the time if you hope to win with pocket jacks at these limits. A raise doesn't scare anyone off.
The first three players to act limped in, so I decided not to raise my jacks -- until the Asian lady in the six seat raised. I immediately three-bet, hoping that maybe a three-bet would fold some people. It got a few of them to drop, but we were still five-handed for a flop of K-T-3. Oh well. So much for my jacks.
The table checked all the way around to me and I checked as well, figuring the king was out there and better not to waste my money. (Representing AK was not an option, because the table had made it perfectly clear that they'd call all the way to the river with ANY top pair, kicker be damned). The turn was an awful card -- another ten. The lady in 1 checked, inducing a bet from the three seat. Surprisingly, everyone else folded! I started to reconsider that maybe my jacks were the boss hand, as the three-seat had tried earlier to steal a few pots by betting on the come. I called, figuring the one-seat would drop. She hadn't slow-played anything in an hour and a half and I didn't expect her to now. She proved me right by folding.
The river was a total brick and the three-seat fired again. Raise or call? The board was too scary for a raise, so I decided to play my hunch and just call. He showed me pocket eights. I took down a large pot, large enough to put me at +$60 for the session in an hour and a half. Having recovered my tournament investment, I wished everyone good luck and left after another few hands.
Monday, April 19, 2004
In the course of one SnG tournament today on Party Poker:
KK v KJo, board 9-3-2r, KK lost as a 98% favorite
99 v KQo, board 7-7-K, KQ lost as a 91% favorite
ATs v A8o, board 7-J-K-T, AT lost as an 82% favorite
A8s v 72o, board 2-J-8-2, 72 lost as a 95% favorite
KJo v A6o, board 3-J-Kr, KJ lost as a 96% favorite
I was the loser with pocket kings v. a short stack that I put all-in on the flop, the winner with pocket nines all-in preflop as a short stack, the winner with A8 when I put a short stack all-in preflop, and not involved in the other two hands, both of which involved players getting all-in after the flop. I went on to win the tournament despite all the funkiness (and thanks largely to the draw with pocket nines that prevented me from getting knocked out), netting myself $117.
Ain't poker a wacky game? That people are willing to make these calls is the reason why online poker can be so mindlessly profitable. But even blind squirrels find acorns once in a while, or so I'm told, and boy does it sting when they do.
Friday, April 16, 2004
For a moment, just a moment, I'm going to delve into the world of pop culture.
As I have previously mentioned, I do not have a television. Or rather, I should say I have a television, but it gets no reception and I do not have cable. However, the home where I play poker on Thursday nights has a television, and that television is usually on while we play, so for the last few months we have been watching "The Apprentice" while we played cards. I now have a few questions.
1. What was Bill thinking? He chose a tower in Chicago over a golf course on the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles? Maybe he's not as great as the Donald thinks.
2. What was Kwame thinking? I know he didn't get first pick when it came to choosing teams, but he could have taken Nick instead of the O-Bitch with his second pick. Then at least he wouldn't have been stuck with both her AND Heidi.
3. What was O-Bitch thinking? Telling lies on national television? Good luck getting a job, lady.
4. What was Nick thinking? Amy is NOT all that. If he were going to pick one of the ladies to try to hook up with, he should have gone with Ereka.
5. Why was the last half hour broadcast live? What value did that add? Was it really just a matter of keeping the choice unknown until "the end"?
6. Was it just me, or did Troy's wife look like she was old enough to be his mother?
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
Pick up the nearest book.
Open it to page 23.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
"Or if you notice that you have found yourself in a rut playing angry energies and decide that you want to grow as an improviser with another choice, then really good for you."
- Mick Napier, Improvise: Scene from the Inside Out
Monday, April 12, 2004
"The electronic media have in the past respected my First Amendment right not to speak on radio or television when I do not wish to do so," [Justice Antonin Scalia] wrote, "and I am sure that courtesy will continue."
Red kings in the SB, early stages of a one-table NL tournament. UTG+1 raises the minimum to 30. MP 3-bets to 45, also a minimum raise, before the guy to his left raises to 150. The button then calls, and I'm sitting there in the SB trying to figure out what the fuck is going on. I've seen this sort of thing before. It has all the makings of a classic pig-fuck for yours truly.
What to do. To review, there's been a min-raise, another min-raise, a third raise and a flat call of that third raise before the action has even gotten to me. Aces? Not for the button, and I doubt the first two raisers have them. I decide to push all-in, about 785. UTG+1, who has 875, deliberates before calling. MP then folds, but the player to his left and the button both call. Flop is 779. UTG+1 goes in for his last 90, MP calls with his last 45, and button calls. They expose
UTG+1: AQo (!)
Looking good! The turn is a brick, and the river... an ace! Are you kidding me? Gah, I hate to see poor play rewarded. Now, however much you want to criticize me for pushing in preflop, AQo in early position has NO business being in this pot. Man, I was not happy. Even on party poker, my push preflop practically screams AK at the worst, but QQ, KK or AA more likely.
This is not the first time I've been involved in this sort of situation. A few months ago, in the rebuy period of a live NL tourney, I was in the SB with kings. There was a medium raise from MP, the CO (a short stack) went all-in, the button deliberated before pushing all-in herself. I read her deliberation to mean something less than aces, so I pushed my kings. The BB went all-in, and the original raiser did as well! Expose:
MP - 88
CO - AA
Button - QQ
Me - KK
BB - QJ
So, the CO had aces, but he was the short stack, so I was far in front for the larger side pot. Of course, the flop came A8x, and that was the end of that.
Saturday, April 10, 2004
Actual conversation overheard this morning:
(cue baby in apartment upstairs screaming its head off at 9:45am)
Woman from Neighboring Building: Would you PLEASE close your window so we don't have to listen to the baby cry EVERY morning!
Woman from Upstairs: [inaudible]
WfNB: You've never said anything, I didn't realize it bothered you. I'll close my window from now on if you'll please do the same.
Man from Upstairs: [inaudible]
WfNB: Awesome. I'll make even more noise now.
You'd almost think I was living in New York.
Buyers not flinching as gas prices play chicken
Gas Prices Soar, Angelenos Shrug
Well, duh -- what else are we going to do? It's not like Metro Rail is all that useful, though, in fairness to Metro Rail, I should point out that a fourth line with twelve new stations opened last summer connecting Union Station with Pasadena. Still, notice the huge expanses of the West Side, East Side and South Central that aren't served. Notice that there is one station for the entirety of the San Fernando Valley. Notice that there is no rail link to the airport. Notice the general impracticality of the entire system.
The sad reality of it is that, because Metro Rail is so useless and was such an afterthought to the unchecked growth and urban sprawl that LA has become, you're left with freeways that in some places are -seven- lanes in both directions, and that's still not enough to prevent volume delays during rush hour. You're left with millions and millions of automobiles, all spewing their noxious fumes into the still air of Los Angeles. You're left with foul-looking smog. I recently told a friend that on a clear day, you can see the "HOLLYWOOD" sign from Santa Monica. His response was, "So you're saying you can never see it, then."
Wednesday, April 07, 2004
Today was the first of the weekly $50, no rebuy NLHE tournaments at the Bike. Hooray for that, I thought. No limit holdem the way it was meant to be played -- without the safety net of rebuys. Unfortunately, I hit stack trouble early on; AQ lost to TT, AK was no good, and AA couldn't get much action. So I spent the rest of the tournament struggling to keep my head above water. The blinds went up pretty quickly, and my hands turned much crappier, until it became the game of looking for a hand to move all-in with before my stack disappeared. Unfortunately, every time I had such a hand, someone was in for a significant raise ahead of me, and I had to muck.
I made it to Level 5, thanks to a nice pick-up towards the end of Level 4 with A2s, but I was still in trouble. Blinds were 100/200 with a 50 ante and I basically had my original stack -- about 800. Ac 9c in middle position looked pretty good to me, so when it folded to me, I moved all-in. The guy on my left quickly moved all-in himself for about 200 more, which I decided was not a Good Thing. Then the BB, a decent-sized stack, deliberated for a minute before calling as well. Ugh. They expose
Jd Td (guy to my left)
8c 8s (big blind)
so all was not yet lost. The flop brought an ace but also brought two diamonds. Wouldn't you know it, a third diamond fell on the river. Adios. Thanks for playing. 153 entries, and I went out with six tables left, so somewhere in the mid 50s. Ugh. What a poor showing.
As I think about the final hand, I'm fine with my play. A9s should be played for a raise in that situation, and since a raise is going to be at least 50% of my stack and pot commit me, I'd rather just tap before the flop and try to win it without a fight. I'm not sure that I call with JTs in that situation, though (and if I have 88 and a caller ahead of me, I definitely muck, figuring that there are at least three overcards out there). It's true that JTs is a good drawing hand and that he was going to see five cards for "free", but he had to figure he was behind before the flop. If he had missed his draw, his stack would have been crippled. I think I wait for a better spot to make my "stand" if I'm him.
But what do I know. He won the hand. Heads up I would have been a slight favorite (55 to 45) but the addition of the big blind made it look something like this:
pokenum -h ac 9c - jd td - 8c 8s
Holdem Hi: 1370754 enumerated boards
cards win %win lose %lose tie %tie EV
Ac 9c 433238 31.61 933598 68.11 3918 0.29 0.317
Jd Td 523557 38.19 843279 61.52 3918 0.29 0.383
8s 8c 410041 29.91 956795 69.80 3918 0.29 0.300
Oh well. There's always next week.
Tuesday, April 06, 2004
My brother -- Sergeant Steven asphnxma, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, United States Army -- is home from Iraq, healthy and in one piece. Yay! His deployment lasted about a year, most of which was spent along the border in Northern Iraq, patrolling or engaged in various "missions". He described several of the firefights he was involved in as "pretty cool". (I bet he didn't think it was "pretty cool" when his Bradley hit that roadside bomb.)
Ah, my brother the killer. Who would have thought, those many years ago when we were kids doing typical kid things like playing Little League together, that this is how he would turn out.
Wait a minute. -I- would. Especially after he hit me in the head with an aluminum baseball bat when I was 8. Or the time he tried to run me over with the car in our driveway. And there were the repeated choking incidents (though I guess I was as guilty of those as he was)...
Welcome home, Steve and the rest of the 3rd ACR.
Monday, April 05, 2004
Yesterday was Week 5 (of 8) of my current improv class at The Improv Olympic West, followed by Performance 2 (of 4). For the last few weeks we have been learning a long-form new to most of us called the Deconstruction, instead of working with the more traditional Harold. It's been quite a bit of fun.
In every improv class I have ever taken, there has always been at least one student who is a little "different". This usually bleeds into their improv as well; whereas instructors emphasize playing a scene for truth and finding a relationship between your character and your scene partner's character, these students tend to invent and/or say weird, random shit, seemingly for the sake of being weird and random. Maybe to them, that's what improv is -- "making shit up". In my current class, that student is Jesse.
There's nothing that looks weird about Jeese. He's average height, with curly light brown hair and a pretty solid build. Yesterday he was wearing a bright orange shirt inside out, the back of which read "WHITE BOY". In normal conversation, Jesse is a nice guy. In fact, all of these "weirdos" are usually nice people, but they are VERY difficult to work with in a scene. Long-form improv stresses sacrificing yourself for the sake of your scene partner (primarily) and the piece (secondarily). Since these people tend not to live up to their end of the bargain, their scene partners have to work twice as hard to justify all of their outlandish ideas and statements to make them look good while still attempting to do generally solid scenework. Usually around week 4 or 5, other people in the class get fed up with the weirdos and stop stepping onto stage with them.
That is what happened to Jesse yesterday. Our task for class was simply to run as many Deconstructions as we could in the three-hour time period, to allow us to become more comfortable with the form and also to prepare us for our performance that evening, when we would be performing the Decon for the first time. Many, many times when Jesse stepped out on stage, there was a long pause before anyone else stepped out, no one wanting to do a scene with the "weirdo". I found myself out there with him quite often, because I feel it's irresponsible to let him "hang" alone out there, and that as a teammate of his, it is my job to make him look good, even if he's not exactly doing what he's "supposed" to be doing. I also look at it as a challenge to myself. ANYONE can play a scene well with really excellent improvisors, but how many can do a good scene with people who aren't as talented?
The thing that really gets me the most about my classmates' refusal to step out with Jesse is that many of them aren't much better than him. This is not to toot my own horn; I'm certainly not God's gift to the improv world. I make as many mistakes as anyone else. But so do these people, yet they think that they're somehow much better than him or even most of the class, despite the fact that for several of them, almost every scene that they are in devolves into an argument or confrontation. Arguments generally don't make for good (or funny) improv scenes.
Unfortunately, I don't think there's a "solution" to this problem. There's no way to force people onto stage with someone else. Admittedly, trust is a big part of successful long-form improv, and these people probably feel that they can't trust Jesse. In a team situation, Jesse would surely be asked to leave the team. But in a workshop situation, you're stuck with whoever else is in the workshop. You can't ask them to leave. Why not look upon it as a learning situation? Learning -why- you need to trust your scene partners and teammates, and also learning how to deal with a loose cannon on stage. After all, isn't that why each of the students in the class paid $300 to take it?
Saturday, April 03, 2004
Sometimes, she DOES stay with the guy she came in with.
I decided to play some 3-6 Holdem tonight. I usually stick with NL, but the urge to play limit strikes every now and again. When it does, my preference is to play in a live game, rather than online, because the 3-6 game at the Bike (that's the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, CA, my local card room of choice) tends to be a rather passive game filled with calling stations, so all you have to do is sit back and wait for cards, then get paid off. I use it to fund my tournament play there. I stay away from the 4-8 game, which is just crazy loose, and will sometimes play the 6-12. But never anything bigger than that.
Anyway, like I said, I decided to play 3-6 online tonight. My online table selection usually goes something like this: I look for a table with 8 or 9 players seated, and an average pot between $32 and $40. Over $40 means the table is playing looser than I'd like, under $32 tighter than I'd like. I've found, over the course of online limit sessions, that $32 to $40 is the right target. Once I filter all of those tables, I look for tables where a majority of the players have under $150 but more than $50, on the (probably flawed) theory that most people buy in for $150, and that therefore the ones with significantly less than $150 are most likely sub-par players, or at worst, very unlucky. I don't want them to be too short-stacked though, because the danger is that they will quickly lose all of their chips and a new and potentially better player will take their place. So that's why the target range is $50 to $150.
Long story short, I find a table that meets my criteria and sit down with $100. The button has just passed, so I post my blind in the cutoff and am dealt Ah Jh. Ah, I always like starting with a hand that I can play straight out of the gate. There's one caller in middle position when it gets to me, but since I'm new to the table and don't really know how the table's playing, I decide to limp, even though most of the time in this spot I would raise. The button calls, before the small blinds raises. Now, this always strikes me as a terrible play. In order for me to voluntarily raise my own small blind, I need a pretty damn good reason, since I'm going to be horribly out of position for the entire hand. Raising in the big blind is only marginally better. But I see people do it all the time with absolute garbage.
Still, not knowing how the table is playing, I have to give the SB credit for some sort of hand. I don't like defending my own blind with a holding like AJ, since it is too often dominated by a bigger ace (AQ, AK) or a large pair (JJ, QQ, KK, AA). The lack of table knowledge swings the other way as well, though; the small blind might be a terrible player willing to raise any face card or any two suited cards. I have decent position, so after the big blind folds and MP calls, I call as well, with the caveat that if an ace or a jack flops, I am going to proceed carefully. The button joins us to make it 4-handed, $6 invested by me, $27 in the pot.
The flop is a great one: Ad Jc 5d Both an ace and a jack! Admittedly, the two diamonds are mildly problematic, but I am quite comfortable that I am ahead at this point, barring AA in the small blind. Predictably, he bets. Middle position does me a nice favor by raising, giving me the chance to 3-bet my top two pair to chase out any flush draws. The button folds, the small blind calls cold as does middle position. $15 invested, $54 in the pot.
The turn is the most beautiful card I could see: [Ad Jc 5d] Jd Not only do I now have a full house and the third best hand possible, but if anyone is chasing the flush, they just made their hand. The small blind comes out firing again. This time, middle position calls, and I decide to slowplay with a call, figuring that a raise here will probably fold one of them. $21 invested, $72 in the pot minus a $3 rake is $69 in the pot.
The river is a very inconsequential [Ad Jc 5d Jd] 7s So again, unless the small blind has AA or JJ, I'm about to get paid off very nicely. The small blind fires a third time. Middle position calls. I raise. The small blind 3-bets. Middle position calls the 3-bet. Now. Ordinarily, I call here. I do not like capping the river without the nuts unless I am dead sure I have the best hand. The small blind raised preflop, so AA or JJ were not out of the question, but I decide "what the hell" and cap the river. The small blind calls. Middle position debates for a long time before folding. $66 goes into the pot on the river for a total of $45 invested, $135 in the pot. The small blind turns over J7. Muahahahahaha. The seven was not so inconsequential! Full house over full house.
This hand does present two interesting tidbits though. First of all, the small blind raised J7. Either he's a terrible player, or he thought he could steal the hand by representing strength, since everyone limped in. Given that this was Party Poker, I'm leaning towards the former. I'm not above a stone cold bluff once in a while, but from the small blind before the flop with three people in the hand? Yikes. No thanks. I've seen the way these 3-6 tables play. Nobody will fold to that raise.
More interesting -- how I would love to know what MP was holding! He limped preflop, raised the flop, called the turn and called three bets on the river before folding. The flop raise says ace to me. I then three-bet, and he's decided he's going to call his A8 or A9 or A6 or whatever all the way to the river. So the jack comes on the turn, SB bets, he calls because he's not only afraid of trips but also afraid of me. That's all well and good, until he calls three bets on the river. He couldn't possibly think that his aces up would hold with two raises behind him, did he? After the 3-bet on the river, he has to put one of us at the very least on trip jacks.
So then he must have folded a flush. But why on earth would he raise his draw on the flop with two people (me in the CO and the button) to act behind him? Why drive out people who might potentially pay off your flush if you just call? Ok, maybe he didn't have a flush. Full house then, holding 55? That would make some sense for the betting; limped in preflop but was willing to play for a raise; raised the flop to drive out the flush draws; hit his full house on the turn so decided to slowplay; but then why not raise the river? And, more to the point, how can you fold a full house on the river when all you have to do is call $6 more into a $100+ pot?
You could argue that his flop raise was a bluff or semi-bluff, but when he got all that action, how does he not fold? To me, the most likely scenario is also the simplest (thank you ockham's razor): terrible player overplaying top pair with a pair on board. Doesn't really matter, I guess, just idle curiousity. The moral of the story was that at my first hand at the table, I almost doubled my buy-in. Too bad, the table broke one orbit later. The guy whose full house was cracked tilted off the rest of his stack in short order, and a few other people got up, which then started a stampede from the table.
But that's fine. I got mine.
Friday, April 02, 2004
Where have I been?
Well, it seems that my girlfriend decided to buy herself an Xbox. Not only that, but for whatever reason, she decided to leave it at my house. Probably because playing video games by yourself is not nearly as fun as playing with someone else, and since she lives with an old, fat, male nudist who doesn't allow other guys at his house, we can't very well play at her house.
Since she bought an Xbox, she also bought Halo, which is probably about as required a game for Xbox as Super Mario Bros. was for the original Nintendo. I'd never played the "campaign" in Halo, and so for the last three days we've been sitting in front of the TV blasting aliens. Now, video games are a bad idea for me, because I can really get sucked into them. And since I don't have any other pressing obligations, I can REALLY get sucked into them. We're talking, galaxies can be born and die without me getting up from in front of the TV. Bad news. This is why I don't own any video game consoles myself.
I've also been at least half-heartedly looking for work, but the two headhunters that I've managed to connect with (out of the 5 or 6 I've contacted) have told me that there's not much work here for people with my skill set and level of experience. Now add to that 1) the fact that I learned today that my subtenant in Brooklyn has decided to bail earlier than expected because she can't afford the apartment, and 2) the fact that my sublease here in Santa Monica is ending at the end of this month, and it looks like I might be headed back to the Big Apple for May.
Until then, I'll be kicking some alien ass.