Thursday, July 19, 2007

Not Prodigal, but Return I Did

I walked into the back room for the Wednesday night big game at 5:30, the normal starting time, and the room was empty but for the new guy. Well, he’s the new guy to me as he wasn’t here when I last played ten months ago. When I left, I had planned to be gone a few months to help with the arrival of the little lady. The swabs can make life wonderfully miserable around bedtime and the real Captain could use my help. The original plan was to cut back on the Tuesday night game to just play on the nights I was scheduled to host. It was the “small” money game. I wanted to continue to play where the money was. Baby needs a new pair of shoes to go along with everything else.

Wednesday is an early game, requiring me to leave work and head straight out to the club. During the six months I had initially played, it was make pointedly clear to me that showing up at 7:30 was bad form. If you wanted your money on the table, it needed to be there when the game started. Who was I to complain? Every week I showed up and almost every week I left with a bulge in my wallet. The game I previously documented was consistent. Apart from the Rock and a few others, it was dead money looking for animation. It had begun to change though by the time baby girl was getting ready to emerge. A new table had started over in the corner of the room. Ostensibly a 2/4 table, it was intimated that it was invitation only. In other words, if you knew how to fold, you weren’t welcome. Looking over from the regular table, the chips were a blur as they flew back and forth. The big game continued, but it was little tighter. We no longer had to go “on the book” to deal with those who need to rebuy. Settling up at the end of the night took a few minutes and the count was always right. Meanwhile, from the 2/4 game, I heard calls of 5/10 coming more and more often and figured it was just a matter of time before a reconsolidation. Is was a good time to step back and let the game rest.

Over the next few months, I would run into one of the big game players at the court house and he confirmed the tables had merged back together as a standard 5/10 game. The new guys that had been recruited to fill out the little game either ran out of money or couldn’t stand the pressure the action players were placing on them with their increasing stakes and frantic pace. The whale had some health issues though so some of the money was gone but there was still plenty to go around.

I continued to wait and sit out the Wednesday game. The truth is, I just enjoy the Tuesday game a hell of a lot more. The conversation is better, we do a happy hour, every body there is a pretty decent human, and there is just no pressure on me at the stakes we play. Contrast that with Wednesday where I was subjected to reprehensible statements and sometimes was playing at the edge of comfort when we would jump up into the 30/60 and 50/100 range. Even though I knew I could be a winner there, having to put up with antebellum attitudes and being just a few unlucky hands away from months’ long ruin kept me away. Besides, there was the Mookie.

I made the decision that July 11 was going to be my return to big game. The latest word I had received was that two of the best players had let their memberships lapse and couldn’t play in the back room anymore. Even though this left the whale out too, the absence of two good players had brought some of the other players back and the game was rocking along with a different structure. It was now spread limit with the dealer calling the spread. Most of the time it was 5-25 but, by the end of the night when players were trying to catch up, it would often jump to 10-100. Now, the game I had left played almost exactly the same as our spread .25/1 Tuesday night game, just on a much grander scale. For anyone with a modicum of patience and some understanding of EV, it’s a fish bowl with the nets provided.

The kids at home are 4, 3, and ten months. It is not fair for me to be out of the house except for work and reasonable recreation time that should be reciprocal. Now, Tuesday night can not be classified work in any sense unless getting semi-drunk is a job but the Captina puts up with it as she know that it is my weekend and the only chance I take to do guy shit. Wednesday though, could be considered a job with the potential for a nice bonus on any given night. When I left, I had been averaging a respectable $/hr. rate that justified my absence from the home. Now though, I would like some extra cash (there is no such thing a extra cash, is there?) to get some of the debt monkey off my back and give us some space for 529s and IRAs and such. Plus, to put up with all the crap, I need to hit it hard.

The first Wednesday was much like my first night there. I hit some big hands and walked out the big winner. We play a 5 stud HL game with a buy that builds a nice sized pot. Add a double bet on any exposed pair and it climbs even faster. Throw in a “match your hole card, roll your own” element and hit a (A) 2c4c6cA and you’ve got a fantastic scoop hand. Now, I call almost exclusively 5-25 O8 as that seems to be a reasonable game from an EV standpoint for me. The biggest change I made from my previous experience though, was to see a lot of flops when we played 5 card O8 using 2 or 3 hole cards and other such variations. I paid a lot of 5 and 10 pre-flop bets I had to fold but I was paid off with some big pots. Of course, I always showed my monsters when others folded to show how much a lock player I still was. What no one seemed to recognize though, was that I only verbally declared my monsters to other’s folds sometimes. “Did you have the flush Wes?” “Shit yeah. You know me. I wouldn’t have been in if I didn’t.” How long should I wait before I show one of these bluffs? I get a lot of respect now but still get plenty of play as these boys didn’t come to fold. Most of them are just coming off the course and are in gambling mode. I did notice last night that one player called the Rock down in what seemed to me to be an obvious bad spot. Now the Rock plays tighter than I do actually but the stump just kept on calling to the end. When the Rock flipped over the winner, the immovable object just said, “Thought you were spoofing me.” Some bluff the Rock showed in the last ten months has convinced this player not to fold a crap hand to the tightest player at the table on the off-off-off chance he’s making a bluff. I think I’ll show a big one next week.

Now, the downside to the Wednesday night game is that I won’t get to play in the Mookie that often. From a life-structure standpoint, that is not so bad. Before our drive like hell vacation, I had resolved to play less online when we returned but try to hit a few live games around town after the kids went to bed as well as making a monthly trip to G-Vegas. I played live three times last week and twice so far this one. Some of the Wednesday nighters play in a rocking 2/5 NL game that sounds interesting and I know of a seven night a week ½ NL game that has been on my mind for a while. I intend to keep the online play at a pretty good clip with the MATH, the Big Game, the occasional Mookie, and the cash games but I need to get out of the house more. As soon as these kids start extra-curricular stuff, I don’t know how much time I will have. For now, I need to get into these local rooms and get what is available so I don’t have to listen to how I missed out on the Good Ol’Days.

For about an hour and a half, I sat at the bar on Wednesday. The golf crowd had played somewhere else as the tee boxes were torn up at the club for laser leveling. The game must have been hot as they went an extra nine, pushing the poker back to 7:30. For a brief moment, I thought I had ruined the game with my return. Who wanted to play with a lock player? When it comes down to it, I realized, these guys don’t really care who they play with. They just want to play. And if they don’t win this week. Hell, the cards will run better next time. That’s how it goes when you are an action player.

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