For those of you who abhor poker, turn away now or forsake your right to complain. Now, on with the show.
I’m involved in approximately four different home game groups right now. Some of them go quite a while without a game, but knowing four different groups of players generally gets me into about 1 home game every month and a half. The frequency was a lot higher back in the winter when it was raining and everyone was more excited about poker in general. Strangely enough, my favorite game is Judd’s girlfriend’s brother’s friend’s neighbor’s game. There aren’t any amateurs, most of the players play regularly in casino multis and place highly. The game moves along quickly and everyone knows the rules. The money is usually good, too. They play a NL single table when I’m there. In the back of the guy’s garage there’s a game room with a full setup, so the environment is real cool, too. All in all, it’s a great game to be juiced into. I’ve played there 4 or 5 times now.
Out of the blue yesterday afternoon the host called me and asked if I’d be interested in a game. They were right on the border of needing some people. I said sure and after work I drove over. The particulars: 9 players, $40 buy-in/$20 rebuys first hour/$20 add-on end of first hour, 4000 chips on buy-in/4000 chips on rebuy/8000 chips for add-on. There were approximately 130,000 chips on the table by the end, so it took a while (I think we started at 7:20p and went to 11:30p). First place got $500, second got $240, third got $60, and there was a $20 bounty on the previous game’s winner (who in fact has one about half of all the tourneys they’ve done).
Early in the game everyone played crazy due to the rebuys. I wanted to get out there and mix it up, but got absolute shit cards for the first half hour. I’m talking 53o/T4o/J2s type of shit. Everyone was really sociable during this, and there were many all-ins and rebuys in the first hour (after that it got slightly more somber… also there were more farts due to the grilled Hot Links).
Long story short: I took first.
Short story long: I won two kind of crazy hands in the first hour when I was just trying to build up. One is when I tried to intimidate in early position with a big raise (I had only played 2 hands prior) with J9. There was one caller, and the guy after him pushed. I had most of my money in at that point, so I called and so did the original caller. I figured if I could draw out I could triple up and if not I was going to rebuy anyways. They flipped over A8 and KJ. No one paired the flop or turn, but a 9 came on the river. Awesome. I played stupidly into a miracle, and everyone at the table let me know that.
Later on (still in the rebuy period), the guy to my immediate right was the chip leader, with me close behind him. He was the guy who always wins the tourneys, and is a really good, aggressive player. He was the big blind and I made a considerable raise with AT. There was one caller, plus the big blind called (he had 33). The flop came J3Q and the big blind bet out 1500 chips. At the time it was about 5 percent of my stack to call it. I reasoned that against a player like this the only way I was going to take him down was to draw to the (completely unexpected) inside straight. Stupid, but that was my reasoning. I called the 1500 and the other player folded. The turn brought the miracle K with no flush possible. He checked and I overbet the pot; he instantly pushed and I instantly called. River was a T. I doubled up into great position (~45,000 chips/clear chip leader) and started to clamp down.
I played a few speculative hands but stayed out of any fights. Mostly I let the blinds start to build up and suck out other people. There was one interesting moment with four people left that I was a blind and got QQ. Two callers in front and I pushed all 40-some thousand in preflop. As expected, the short-stack folded, but the second chip-leader stared me down. I had doubled him up considerably a round earlier when he called my AQ all-in with KJ and hit a jack on the flop, so he had the stack to cripple me if he won this one.
–== Flashback to last game ==–
At the last game I played at, the same guy knocked me out when he bet big with 99, I came over the top with QQ, and he spiked a 9 to end my run (first out, 10 minutes after the rebuy ended).
–== Back to regularly scheduled programming ==–
He looks me up and down for a couple of minutes and then folds 77 face up. I honestly couldn’t tell if I was relieved or disappointed that he didn’t call. Of course I had him dominated, but the traditional way for me to exit a tourney is to lose with a dominating hand. The fact that it was this particular guy also played a part. He’s probably the second-best player at the table after the aforementioned gentleman to my right.
Now down to three players; I was in the small blind and looked down to find AJo. UTG folded and I glanced at my cards while eyeing the big blind, who was then chip leader. He had looked at his cards and while talking to another person had picked up a big stack as I made a move to my big denomination chips. Then he showed his hand to a non-player sitting next to him. I hadn’t really reacted yet, so I went back to my cards again and thought about it some more. It would be stupid to make a huge bet or push against the chip leader if he was holding AQ or AK, which are the hands I considered based on his actions before I had even looked at my cards. I figured I’d limp and see what he did. If an Ace came and he played strongly I would probably fold. He checked and the flop came J85. I threw out 15,000 chips, he instantly came over the top and pushed, and I instantly called. I should have thought about it some more, but I guess I figured if he had flopped a set then good for him; I had top pair, top kicker. As soon as I said, “Call,” he responded, “OK, you won.” He flipped over J3, and neither the turn nor the river brought a 3. After settling up he had one 1000 chip in front of him. Three hands later he went out in the big blind.
We only went about 5 hands heads-up. The blinds were 5,000-10,000 and I had approximately 100,000 chips. I was in the small blind with A9h and made it 20,000 to go. He pushed quickly after that. I thought about it for awhile. If I called his bet it would bring us about even in chips which I didn’t want. I had him on some middle pair and asked, “You got 77 or 88?” Earlier in the game I had folded KQ suited to a bet on the river and as I mucked said, “I can’t beat your ace jack.” The guy flipped over AJ and everyone thought I was awesome. I just figured he had Ace high and threw it out there, but if they wanted to believe I was good, I figured I’d let them believe it. I finally said, “OK, I think I’m gonna have to play catch-up, but at least I’m suited,” and called. He flipped up KTo, and no one paired on flop, turn, or river. Boo-yah, I won $500 and 3 cigars. I also got to write my name on a wooden beam in the game room next to the other tourney winners. I guess at the next game the bounty will be on me.
Overall, I played well a lot of the time, with a few questionable moves balanced by a few good moves, plus the luck breaks. Can’t ask for anything more in poker.