Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Sometimes it just doesn't go as planned

Two interesting quotes about my game from Uncle Phil -

"Usually the earlier in the night John reaches into his pocket for his second buy-in, the more chips he's got in front of him at the end of the night."

"I can't believe after all this time these people are still all limping in front of you just waiting for you to raise $4-$5 preflop and then fold."

It's no secret that I'm one of the more loose-aggressive players in our home game. I really don't put the screws down and play like I've got half a brain until my second (or sometimes third) buy-in. And so far, nobody's really caught on that my loose play over the first hour just sets the tone of the night and is not indicative of the type of cards I'm playing all through the night. Fortunately, even though a good number of my home game friends read this here blog, they still don't really believe me when I shift gears, which is how I'm able to survive craziness like last night.

I did end up with a profit, although it took me three buy-ins to get there (for the record, it's a $.25/$.50 home game, with about $800 on the table by the end of the night - a max buy-in is $50, but I allow the looser players to rebuy for $60 to cut down on change). By the time I got stacked for the second time, losing to my third all-in move (one of someone else's), I had managed to gt my money in good all three times.

So the first time I got stacked, all the money went in on a flop of 94Q rainbow. I had limped in late position with 94o (don't get all Sklansky on me, this is not a bad strategy in low-stakes, loosey-goosey home game poker). Crazy Nate bets out on the flop, and I raise. He re-raises me, and I shove. He calls with the expected Q-rag, and I'm pretty thrilled with life until running 5s give him Queens up. About a 75-25 favorite there, but not so much.

Then there was my second stacking (or almost stacking) at the hands of Warbucks. Now this is pure whining on my part and I want these calls every single day, but when three hands make the difference between being nearly $200 up on the night and being $35 up on the night, I'm gonna piss and moan a little. Otherwise, what's the point of having a poker blog? With AJo in a blind, there are several limpers and Jim puts out a healthy raise, something like $3-$4. This is a good raise, if Crazy Nate wasn't on his left, calling everything in the free world. So Nate calls, then the Porno Imp calls, then I look around, see the potential for a couple more callers, and it's worth it to me to call. So I do.

Flop comes down a red Ace and two spades. I check, it checks around to Jim, who bets out $5. Nate calls, Imp folds and I wanna know exactly where I am in the hand, so I pop it $20. Jim thinks for a second or two, and I think at that point he doesn't have an ace. Then he shoves, for another $39, and Nate folds like a cheap suit. At this point I think (and say, for that matter) that even if I'm dominated by AK or AQ, with almost $100 in the pot and not quite $40 to call, I feel like the 2.5-1 I'm getting on my money is worth it, plus Jim could be making that move with a wide range of hands that I'm ahead of, like a medium pair. Or the KQs, giving him the nut spade draw. I'm pretty thrilled with the revalation (although I wasn't quite as far ahead as I thought I was, only a 63-37 favorite) of the spade draw, but less so when he hits the 3s on the turn and I go for rebuy #2.

My third silly hand of the night wasn't a stacking, but it crippled me, I think prior to stacking #1, when the Porno Imp doubled through me by rivering two pair to beat my TPTK. Meh. I got my own back on him later when he ran his Kings into my Aces, and the Jack-high board didn't help out so much. Matter of fact, it was a bad night for Brokeback Mountain, because I think Warucks managed to stack off all his chips to Nate drawing to two outs when Nate flop top set on a Q-high board and Jim bet the farm with his overpair. Whattaya gonna do? With me n the Imp's case, and Nate in Jim's case there's no friggin way you put the opponent on the one hand that's got you crushed, so you're gonna go broke.

So over the next several hours I managed to build my stack to a nice pile, nearly $100 up, then Jim cracks my pocket Tens with K7o, calling a big raise with rags and catching the flop when starting the hand with a 25% chance to win against my TT and Nate's 22. Meh, at least that one happened on the flop and I was able to get away from the hand. It's not like I didn't snap Dan off twice calling big preflop raises in late position with shit like J2 and catching two pair to make gold on the turn. I admire the play, and think that Jim's style mirrors mine more than either of us typically are willing to let on, although he's still looser post-flop than I am, willing to commit more chips on draws than I am. That's because he's a gambler, a real old-school gambler, and plays to have fun and nothing more.

Me too, I love my home game and the cast of characters we've created. And that's the place where we have fun. Casinos and underground rooms is where I go to play more seriously. I'm just a little whiney this morning because like on my last trip to Vegas, there were a few very specific hands that determined the fiscal outcome of the endeavor. I don't really care about the money, but I'm a really competitive person by nature, and I do better at anything when there's someone to compete with to make me strive to do better. I want to win to win, the money is just how we keep score.

I'm really fortunate that I've found a group of people who let me take out my competitive urges around the poker table, and are willing to keep coming back week in and week out. It's a running joke that we're really just passing the same couple hundred dollars back and forth around the table, and it's pretty true. Most of us go on streaks, hot or cold, and very seldom does anyone go for too long without a winning night to salve the wounds of a couple weeks of running bad. It's a good group, and I'm happy that they'll be here when I get back, and wish that I could unleash Jim and Nate at opposite ends of the same $1/2 table in Vegas and watch the fireworks (preferably from the 5s).

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