Wednesday, February 09, 2005

First Things First

There are a number of Bloggers I read going through tough times right now. My thoughts are with you all and hope you get comfort from sharing you grief with others.


The Tuesday Night Poker Club met again last night and we had an extra player giving us a complement of eight. The two hours of dealer's choice were uneventful except for one game of 7/27. We are all chasing fools so this pot can get pretty hefty. I hit high point on the fourth card, one player was representing low, one was obviously 1/2 point over low, with one more going high. I bet three rounds with the other high drawing cards; both lows just called. Eventually the other high dropped out, leaving me with half the pot, or so I thought. The high, low player decided to chase high. I told him I was going to punish him every round if he did so. I would leave the table and go to the ATM to make sure I wrung every bet I could out of him. Of course he hit point also so we each got a quarter of the pot, costing us both.

In the holdem portion of the evening, I can see the improvement in the table. Keeping a running tally by assigning points to the first three places has forced everyone to evaluate their game. Of course, we still have a few that refuse to learn, trying to get by on aggression or blind luck. Sometimes it pays off. Most times it doesn't.

One of the things I've learned from the blogs is how to play the online tournaments better. I sit patiently at the home game, waiting for an opportunity to play great cards or to make a play based on my knowledge of the opponent. Online, in the rapidly escalating blinds tournaments, you can not always wait for AA or KK to push. You have to be more aggressive with your small edges, willing to take the risks to build chips.

A few months ago, I noticed I was able to read betting patterns all of a sudden, assigning a range of hands to a player based on the way she was betting. Of course, I have often been wrong, but my game has improved greatly. I really noticed it one night when I was letting a buddy play some $5 SNGs on Party Poker using my account. Not being tied to the hands, I was able to attain a sense of detachment and I was "seeing" the players' hands as they were betting. Now, these were the lowest-level tourneys with the most inexperienced players, but it was an epiphany for me at the time.

This skill has translated to the home game a bit. Most of our players are looking for physical tells while I am focusing on the betting, seeking out weak bets, and punishing them appropriately. I feel I have only picked up on two reliable physical tells. The quick glance at the chips when the turn or river helps a hand is pretty reliable. On the other tell, a player will make a big bet and then go into the pose, arm crossed, lips pursed, eyes down. If I sit there for a minute and the player eventually makes easy conversation in response to a question or jumps into another's conversation, I will usually put them on a good hand and not a bluff. The bluffers will usually ignore everything around them, focused only on not giving away anything that would betray weakness. The talkers are trying to appear harmless, acting like good time Charlies at a kegger. All the time, though, they are holding the nuts.

I was in Court today on an appointed DSS case. The waiting area was full of broken families with desperate faces. They were being forced into Court to answer for why they are not supporting their kids, or for beating them until bones are broken, or why they are letting them live in a meth lab. There was a young father clinging tightly to a grinning four-month old, pacing up and down the hall while waiting for the bailiff to call his case. It appeared to be a child support matter that they were apparently trying to work some kind of visitation for also. It broke my heart to see him hand over the child to the Mother who was being hard on the father about showing up on time for visitation or she wasn't going to let him see the baby. It seemed excessively harsh, but I'm sure the young man had a history of problems taking responsibility and stepping up when needed in his child's life. I've had young fathers come in my office fighting to get more time with their kids, willing to do whatever it takes. Just as often though, I have them come in seeking to pay as little support as possible and expecting to see the kids at their whims. Most of all, I am amazed at the people who are so willing to get the Courts involved in their lives. How do they expect a Judge to straighten out problems that have been created over years? The black robes don't make them all-knowing. I can't imagine a more difficult job in the legal field than Family Court Judge.

I came home to the senior swab (22 months) who went with grandpa today to get a haircut. It was grandpa's first solo trip with the big man. He has been yelling "DeDa" when I get home, running halfway to me, and then remembering he was playing with something more important than Daddy. Every night though, we walk the green mile to the bed. I tell him it's time, he grabs his favorite horse and follows me up the stairs to his bedroom. He asks for "fish," the baby monitor that projects an image of fish and shells onto the ceiling. I put on his pjs, read a story, and say our prayers. No complaints at all from him yet about having to go to bed. I don't know why his Mom says he is a wild man all day long. Junior swab (six months) just grins when I get home, squinching up his nose, and leaning forward in his chair. After a day in Court like today, they are the best therapy.


TenMile said...

Came to your site through the Iggy.
Party Poker Blog.

Have enjoyed the two entries read.

ephro said...

Everytime we have played 7/27 we play so that if two players have the same high, say 1/2 point off the low wins, if two players have 27, then the one with fewer cards wins the pot. Sounds like you need to make a rule change. The beauty of having 27 in a few cards is the you represent weakness for being off of it, until you get a high chaser then punish them, to still scoop half the pot. Just an idea.

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