Wednesday, August 6, 2008

tuesday - new home game

I was invited to this home game by my friend Wiley. The game had fallen apart in the summer months and Wiley told me that everyone was excited to get back together. At 4pm, though, he called me with the news that he couldn't make the game due to a surgery in the family, but encouraged me to go anyway. He suggested that I could bring my friend Tony with me to take his spot, so I called him and we were off to start the game at 7:30pm.

The first thing that required my getting used to was the use of a second deck of cards. When you are the small blind (and next to deal), you are expected to take the second deck and get it shuffled up. As soon as the prior hand is completed and the chips are scooped over to the winner, you are expected to present the shuffled deck to the last dealer to give him his option to cut, and then deal immediately. When your deal is done, you gather the cards from the table and pass them 2 to the left, so that person can begin his shuffle. This keeps the game moving at a brisk pace and forces you to pay attention, especially from the time you are in the blinds to the time you're the dealer.

This use of a second deck is probably a common occurrence in home games, but I had never experienced it. The benefit is clear, though - the hands played per hour probably increases by 50% or so because there is no waiting around for the deck shuffle.

It was clear that a fast pace of play was desired - if someone was not aware that it was their turn to act, several people would (politely) inform them, rather quickly. I enjoyed this brisk pace immensely, as it kept my focus on the cards and not the baseball game on the TV, or the excited dogs circling the table, enjoying all the company in their basement.

The game was .50/$1. $40 was the average starting buy-in. In exchange for our loot, we were given $30 in .50 chips and 2 red $5 chips. Because the game started with a relatively short stack 40 BB buy-in, my game plan was to play very tight early, waiting for premium cards (if I could manage to get them). Small pairs and suited connectors were going to be ignored early.

The starting raise would bring the pot anywhere from 2.50 to 4.00 to go. I got confused often because this table would use the phrase "raise $3", which would mean 4 dollars total ($1 blind + $3 raise), whereas I'm more used saying "raise TO $4", but I got the hang of this eventually.

The play seemed straightforward at first. Many of these players knew each other well, so an opening raise was often called by 2 or 3 people with position. Play was aggressive but no overly-so - the occasional multipway limped pot would get played out, and I would see several people playing small pairs, lower broadway (JQ, QT), or suited Ace-rag. These hands didn't fit into my early game plan and I was folding them most of the time. I also found the discipline to fold some crap-but-often-played-anyway hands like KTs and KJ against a raise.

My first big hand was a success from a money standpoint but not a decision standpoint. There was one loose player at the table who was well-known for playing any two cards and trying to nail people on hidden monsters (I was even warned about this player by Wiley). He made a standard raise and I reraised him with QQ. He called, the flop came all undercards - he shoved and I had to call. He had AA. Oops. The poker gods smiled on me though and delivered a Q on the turn to nail the poor guy and nearly double me up. I apologized twice for the suck out, but he took it in stride, bought back in, and played on.

I got AK three times in the game and didn't win with any of them. The first time, I raised 3 limpers from the big blind, got one caller, then folded with a J Q x flop after a check. The second time, there was a lead bet of $3 and then a reraise to $10 in front of me. I decided that in a cash game I didn't need to get involved in a race with JJ/QQ (or worse, get killed by KK/AA), so I just folded. In the third, I tried a big blind check in a multiway pot then a leadout on a J 8 2 board (2 clubs). One caller. Turn came a red middle card (9?) and I fired again. Again he called. The river came another Jack. I decided that this solid player was probably calling with a jack and certainly would call my triple barrel, so I just checked it down. He showed me 6c2c (!), giving him a mediocre pair of deuces (and a missed flush draw) to take the pot over my ace high! Damn! He laughed and said "I was just playing that hand b/c I was bored" Great. My third shot would have surely taken a sizable pot, but I hadn't put him on a flush draw. This is the only hand of the night I felt I could have played better.

Once we were there a couple hours and several people had bought back in, the stacks got big enough for enough people that I felt it was time to open up my game to try a few more speculative hands. I also felt like I had the respect of the table - I showed a few hands when I didn't have to to show them that "the new guy" was playing good cards and not trying to push them around. It was time to exploit this image if I could.

Some highlights of the later play - I limped in a multiway pot with 7d9d on the button. Flop came with Q 5 2 with 2 diamonds. It checked around to the loose/aggro player (the guy whose aces I cracked) - he fired a bet into the pot. He had already shown that he was capable of betting into unclaimed pots in order to take them down - I decided to raise him with nothing but a flush draw. My hope was that this would buy a free card on the turn, but instead he folded and showed T7o, he had no pair and no draw. I decided not to show my cards this time!

A good fold - several limpers, including me in late position with TT. The big blind raised pretty big, but his stack behind wasn't very large. I put him on a big hand. My friend Tony called (which was odd), and then I did as well (which he found pretty odd, he told me later). The flop came 4 6 7 rainbow, and the big blind checked. Tony looked over at the big blind's stack and bet half of it, making it easy to call his all-in. I sat for a minute and decided whether to get involved with my overpair. I thought there was a good chance Tony had a set, or at least a pocket pair where the coordinated board didn't scare him, along with the fact that I thought the shortstack might have a big hand, I decided to fold. Shortstack shoves, Tony calls and shows 88, shorty shows QQ. A good fold into a cold deck! Tony needs an 8 for a set or a 5 for a straight to beat the pair of ladies. A queen comes on the turn, giving shorty trips, but I say "the 5s are still good!", and sure enough the 5 comes on the river.

Last hand of the night - I raised it up from middle position with A9o (a bit weak, but I was suffering from "just one more hand" syndrome). Everyone behind me must have felt my LSH, because 4 of the 5 players called. Uh oh. The flop came with an ace and uncoordinated so I bet half pot, and after some thinking, everyone folded. I decided to show my Ace to once again plant in their mind that I play good cards. Hopefully that message carries over to the next session.

In the end I cashed in $82.50 - a double up of my $40 buy-in. Tony bested me by .50 with an $83 stack, and we drove home at 12:30. We left the radio off and talked about the game instead.


bastinptc said...

See, that wasn't so hard! gg

phistio said...

you have the poker side of it down.

start working on reading live tells...Caro, and Navarro are good places to start.