I made my return to poker on Friday. It was my first game since early February and I didn’t play at all in January, so poker has been sparse. The lack of poker has caused me to accept that, at least for now, poker has been relegated a hobby. It was always a hobby, in a way, but the availability of online poker and the freedom of being childless allowed me to make it a passion. I’d rarely go two weeks without playing live, and if I wasn’t playing live, I played online almost daily. Gone are those days.
The problem with being a hobbyist poker player, rather that the serious (but not professional) player I was, is that every game is like learning anew. A lesson learned a month or two ago without reinforcement or practice just evaporates into thin air. And each session requires time to get my sea legs.
The game in questions was the second Wall Street Game reunion, of sorts. Host Jamie has moved to Connecticut with his lovely wife with a baby on the way, but Wendy was able to arrange for a venue in the City, so the majority of the old crew got back together. There were thirteen players for the first $30 tournament, including my buddy Robbie Hole, who is always game for poker. While the tournament wound down, busted players started a cash game. When the tournament ended, a smaller tournament began with seven players; the remaining players wanted to continue the cash game.
I am glad to say that I did not play a single hand of the cash game, having chopped the first tournament four ways and the second one two ways. Unlike the first Wall Street reunion game (where I lost, I think, $90), I walked away winner with an extra $135 in my pocket.
In the first tournament, I was seated at a table with a guy who I consider to be the best in the room, Darko. Darko’s talent lies in his selective aggression and keen insight into the game. He is willing and able to change gears, bluff at pots, and value bet, so you never quite know where he is in a hand.
This actually led to a minor conflict early in the tournament. I was in a hand against Darko. I had played cautiously, letting him bet most of the way. I was calling fairly thin, since I know his willingness to gamble and felt my second pair/weak kicker was likely good. Nonetheless, when he bet the river, I decided to call him. It was the right call.
He instantly announced, “You have me,” but held onto his cards. “You have to show,” I said.
He repeated himself, “I said you have me. Come on.”
I held firm, “Hey man, its the rules of the game. You have to show first.” He showed his bluff, I showed my middle pair, and he grumbled. We had some light discussion on the topic, but my stance was immovable. I was paying to see his cards as much as anything. I even went so far as to say that with a lesser player, I might let it go, but that I respected his game too much. I don’t think he appreciated the compliment, but I sincerely meant it. Darko is such a skilled player that I would not give up any advantage against him, especially if the advantage is one created by the rules and his own conduct.
I played decently the rest of the tournament before chopping. At the end, there were four of us, and I was among the two lesser stacks. Someone suggested a chop at 5 and I refused, having a large stack. Once we got to four and I was no longer a top stack, I agreed when someone else mentioned a chop. The chip leader, Ham Hands Pauly piped up, “You wouldn’t agree at five but you will at four?” I responded instantly, “Yeah. Because at five, we would have to split it five ways. Plus, I was winning at the time.” Its not rocket science, people. We agreed that we would all take $90 with Ham Hands getting an extra $20 and 2nd place stack Slavin getting an extra $10. Done and done.
The second tournament was looser than the first, what with everyone having already shaken off their ring rust. When we were down to four or five, I hit a run where I did not fold a hand in several orbits. I was getting some decent cards, but was also willing to play marginal hands or weak hands from the blinds. One could say that I was playing reckless; certainly, it would look that way from the outside. In fact, Wendy made it a point to mention that I had not folded preflop in a while. From my perspective, though, I was just taking advantage of the dwindling number of players at the table, the raising blinds, and, admittedly, a bit of a streak.
Once again, when we got to three players, someone, this time Jamie, suggested a chop, with the third person of our threesome, overwhelming chip leader Wendy, getting a majority of the funds. I declined since it meant basically getting my money back. “Look, I would if the prize money was greater, but I’m not interested in breaking even.” The very next hand, I doubled Jamie up.
Finally, though, I busted Jamie and faced Wendy. It was already almost midnight. Here, I will admit that after the first game ended around 9:30, I was ready to leave. I just don’t have the endurance for poker anymore; I suppose not having a full night’s sleep for 2+ years will do that to you. Nonetheless, down to two, and with mostly even stacks (I had her covered), I was happy to agree to a chop.
On the ride home, I got to spend some more time with Slavin, Ham Hands, and Felix, all of which now live in my neighborhood. It’s great hanging with local poker people. I also had the pleasure of meeting a new poker connection, Andrew, at the game. He hosts a game in Queens that I may attend in the near future with Robbie Hole. The whole experience helped me appreciate the best part about poker, whether as a hobby or a passion: its a great way to meet people.
I got home later than expected, but refused to sleep. Instead, I watched some stupid television. In a perfect world, I would have continued the poker run by searching for the best online casino games available to compare at casinoonline.co.nz
. Alas, though, I live in a nanny state, so the best I could do was get through a half episode of Bojack Horseman before turning in.
Until next time, make mine poker!