Some random thoughts

Sunday, January 25th, 2004, 1:45 am

Instead of the usual hand-histories and bad beat laments, I thought I’d take some time and get a few things off my chest. Don’t worry, Iggy, I haven’t abandoned my Phil Hellmuth thing. I just imagine Phil reading it and I have to make it as perfect as one of Phil’s reads on T.J. Cloutier.

— What’s your favorite kind of fish? I don’t mean the crabcakes at Monterey Bay up on Pittsburgh’s scenic Mt. Washington. No no, the players we EXPERTS consider fish, those bluffing, flopping, calling fools we sharks prey upon. There are nearly as many variety of fish at the table as there are in the sea, and during my play the past week I encountered several distinct species. The one that made me shake my head and laugh is what I call the “WPTuna”. This is the player who has watched a few poker shows and now thinks that he’s ready to sit down and bluff Gus Hansen. He thinks he’s smarter than 99.9% of the people playing. He believes that he has insights into the game Sklansky hasn’t even considered. He doesn’t think he’s a fish.

He is, of course, wrong on all 3 points. What makes the Tuna different is his need to TELL you how smart he is. He’s the sort who types a critique after each hand–critiques that are often hilariously pompous and tactically unsound. The other day I’m up a few bucks and I’m stroking my new kitten a la Dr. Evil, and a big hand came along. The betting was capped pre-flop (I folded), and the flop came A-J-3, the ace and jack both hearts. Bet, raise, re-raise, in the end three people hung in. The turn was the eight of clubs, the river the nine of spades. One player folded after the river, but the other two capped the betting, and in the end the one guy turned over A-J and the other turned over…7-10 offsuit. He went runner-runner to fill his inside straight and won a big pot.

Did Mr. Straight thank the Buddha and resolve to tithe a portion of his winnings? No, he had to school us. He said, “I slow-played that at the end”.

Huh? How do you “slow-play” a miracle drawing hand where you called raises on the flop and the turn? The player who got skunked said, “You caught your card on the river”, and the Tuna said, “I had proper pots odds to make the call”.

Uh, no way. I don’t think the pot odds dictated a call when there were two overcards on the flop and he had to call three bets from two players. Nor did the pot odds favor a call against 2 players when only a 9 could save him–and possibly make a better straight for someone holding a goofball hand like Q-10. There were flush draws out there…I didn’t want to calculate the odds, but no way was that a smart play.

I like the Tuna because I won two very tidy pots from him later on. I knew from his comments that he fancied himself a smart guy, and I wanted to prove that he was only half-smart. I had pocket aces against him, flopped a set, checked and called on the flop and then check-raised him on the turn. He re-raised me and I capped it, and when a rag came on the river (with no flush or straight draw possible) I bet and he raised me again. I re-raised and this time he just called and turned over K-J hearts. He wrote, “Didn’t make my flush or straight”. Got that right, he needed 2 hearts on the turn and river or a Q and 10 on the turn and river. Then as the next hand came out he said, “Thought I’d knock you out when I re-raised.”

I didn’t like the implication that I can be bossed by seafood. “Not with trip aces,” I wrote.

“Well you got lucky there,” he wrote. I didn’t answer. There’s no point arguing with those too stupid to understand. I let him live in his poker dreamland and won another nice pot off him later. The scary thing–he was probably the big winner at the table while I was there. A moron with a horseshoe up his ass.

The fish I don’t like playing against is the Pseudo-Lederer, the player who, when the action comes around, sits there and thinks, and thinks, and thinks…I don’t mind when it happens occasionally. There have been a few testy hands where I needed a good 30 seconds before I folded to that check-raise. But when it happens every other hand, before the flop…I mean, I’m playing $.50-1. What the hell is there to think about? If you’re not sure if you can risk four bits with those pocket tens, go play solitare. I got fish to fry!

Like, I’m playing right now, and there’s this guy who’s having computer problems and it takes him forever to act. He’s apoogized for it, and as my own computer is antiquated I’ll cut him some slack. But the player who takes friggin’ FOREVER to call on bet after a J-7-2 rainbow is gonna earn my wrath. I don’t think you’re going to deduce anything by staring at my computer doppleganger. Play the hand that’s dealt you–within the hour, if you will.

–I’m playing right now and I’m on a wicked rush. Was up $15, fell back to even, and I hit a runner-runner flush to win a nice pot to kick things off. Won a nice pot when I hit a full house with three kings on the board and another player tried to bluff me into thinking he had quads. Next hand I flopped the nut flush and on the turn made my first-ever straight flush. Then I hit another nut flush. I’m up $30 for the night and players are leaving in droves, fearing the wrath of Mean Gene. I think it’s about time to play a little no-limit.

I’ve been having some success playing two tables at once, though tonight I wanted to put up a long post so I’m writing and playing. One thing I noticed about double-fisting is that it always seems that you win big on one table and lose big on the other. The lack of equilibrium drives me nuts. I go back and forth and I’m thinking, “OK, I’m up $12 on this table, but down $9 on the other…but I left a table down $8 so I’m actually down $5 total…but did I start up on this table before I added more chips…”. I know you don’t count your money when you’re sittin’ at the table, but if I’m taking a bath I like to know how hot it is.

When you’re playing two tables and you’re UP on both, it’s absolutely delicious. When I’m down on both I start wondering why I thought losing money at twice the rate was a smart thing to do. So far I’ve done pretty well, but it’s something I’m keeping an eye on. If I start getting doublecrushed I’ll step back and see if my limited attention span is being stretched too thin.

— We all know that there are special names for certain hands. Big Slick, of course. I just lost with AKh and quit up $25 for the night, not bad. We bloggers now call 2-7 the HAMMER after the contest started by the PokerGrub. There are certain hands that are forever linked to certain players. 10-2 is called the “Doyle Brunson” after he won consecutive World Series holding that as his final hand. And I got to wondering–what do you consider your hand? What combination of cards do you think of as your very own, cards you can’t help playing, cards that, when you get beat by them, make you feel like you just caught your girlfriend cheating.

For me its 10-8. First of all it seems like I’m dealt that mess every other hand. I see the ten pop up first and already I’m saying hello to Mr. Eight. But I have a winning record playing those cards–not that I play them too often. I think I was conditioned to like 10-8 because I flopped a full house with it once and got massively paid off when another player ended with an ace-high flush. And I think I made a straight with it once and made some money. Notice the operative words in each of the previous 2 sentences–“once”. I don’t play the “MeanGene” a lot, but it’s hard to resist its siren call.

OK, enough garbage. I need to make some improvements to the blog, add more links, get a comments feature going again, add some bells and whistles. Think I’ll play a SNG and go to bed. Yes.

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