Sunday, August 28, 2005

Another busy weekend

Firday night I visited Duke again for their Friday night poker game - I think I'll be going there regularly from now on.

There were two tournaments that night, and I busted out relatively early in both of them. But I came out well ahead in their simulated "cash game", and that's fine with me.

Most of the regulars from last week showed up - J.O. chatted with me a bit about working in Vegas as a blackjack dealer, then wandered off to greet the others as they showed up. There were a few salarymen there on Friday, shucking off their jackets and loosening their ties to get ready for some poker. A very shapely young lady who was in the game last week beamed at me when she showed up. I had busted her out in the tourney last week with a straight, she reminded me, but she was willing to overlook that and be friends, she confided. I believe her name is Saeko - I will have to be careful to confirm that quickly next time I show up, or it could get... well, I just don't want to ruin my good first impression.

If only I weren't so awful with names. My memory is pretty bad in general, which I am trying to work on, but names, particularly Japanese names, are a tough one. I brought a small notebook with me this week to scribble down hands, but I mostly used it to write down names or handles as I heard them. It's much easier to remember something if i write it down, even if I never look at it the note again.

We started with a limit holdem tourney - I think I was the fourth bustout of about 16 players. I wasn't getting any cards, and frankly wasn't playing the ones I got very well, so my stack shrank pretty quickly. My bustout hand was about the best I had seen - A4d. I limped in from early position, and two others followed. The flop came 2-3-2 with one diamond. I checked, as did the next player, but the third guy bet. I called, other guy folded. Flop was a 4. I checked, other guy bet, I called. River was a 9 of diamonds. I checked, he bet, I called, and he showed pocket 10s to beat my puny 4s.

Stacks were pretty small to start with, so calling all those bets had put me all-in with the river call, and I was done. If I was going to go out with this had, I at least should not have played it so passively. I probably could not have chased the guy off his 10s, but when that 4 hit on the river I should have at least taken a shot at it and put some fear of a straight in him. I was too busy thinking about the real straight I had yet made to think about how I might not even need it to win the pot.

After the bustout, I observed some of the other players for a while until they got down to 10 players and consolidated to one table. Then they started up the "live game", so I sat down for that. Everyone got 60 in chips and played as if it was a cash game, then would track how they stood at the end of the night. They keep track of the stats from week to week, too, and have a small prize every 3 months for the live game leader. (A t-shirt for the bar, I think it is at the moment.) We stuck with limit holdem, which was fine with me.

I did much better in the live game than the tournament. I played relatively tightly, got a few good hands and began to raise and check-raise, and took some good pots. I also took advantage of the fear that some of the others were starting to feel to raise with marginal hands and force some players to fold real hands and took pots that way. It really came together for me in the live game, and I finished up ahead 137, even after taking back my buyin value of 60. Impressed a few of the regulars, too, which I hope I can use in the future.

Then the second tournament, which seemed to be limited to those who had won previous tournaments. And since I had come in second in one of the games the previous Saturday, I got into that game. This time was no-limit holdem, and I got busted out early again, second of about 8 players. Mari went all-in on one of the first few hands with an AQo, but J.O. called with a medium pocket pair, I think it was, which held up to knock her out.

Again I played too passively, and bled my chips away. I had drawn the spot two to the left of J.O., who was playing aggressively and using his table reputation to his best advantage. So the second time he raised and I folded the blinds, he noted, "Come on, guys, you're not going to win that way." Right he was. I only lasted another 10 minutes or so before I felt the blinds coming around to me again and so I raised with something stupid like K8 suited, which itself took about half my chips, and then was re-raised and I called, figuring it was already over for me. Which it was. I paired my low card, I think it was, but was beaten from the flop onwards.

J.O. is clearly the one to beat in this game. He's quite sharp, experienced, and knows how to use his aggression and image to put fear into the other players. I'm going to have to find a way to deal with that and overcome it if I'm going to have any chance in these games in the long run. With the Vegas Cup coming up, I'll probably have only one shot at it so I'm going to have to play well. I have a couple more weeks to come up with a plan.

Busted, I returned for a bit more at the live game table. They had switched to HORSE, which I need more practice in, so I bought back in and had a go. We did a round of 7-Stud Hi-lo and Omaha hi-lo before my lack of clue about what I was doing pissed away the stack of 60 chips I had re-started with, and I decided to call it a night. I had still cleared a +77 profit at the live game table - checking the results page on their web site, this puts me in 5th place out of about 30 players. Not too bad! I would have been in 3rd or so if I had stopped after Holdem when I was at +137.

The rest of the weekend was filled up with a friend's houseparty to eat some damn good homemade curries, then rushing off in the evening to brave the crowds at Koenji for the yearly Awaodori festival. Awaodori is a traditional Japanese dance, originating in Tokushima but in Tokyo, the Koenji area has become very popular for it as well. 77 dance teams participated this year, which is a lot, and with good weather and the festival falling on the weekend this year, the whole area was jam-packed with people. Everyone got into it and had a great time, so we beat the crowds and headed home a bit early. Sunday was mostly taken up by doing the first walk-through and inspection of my new apartment. It's about as nice as I imagined! A couple of the rooms feel a bit more cramped that I had pictured, but the main living and dining area is spacious and gorgeous. It'll be another month before I can move in, but it is a relief to see the thing for real and know it really exists. There's even a nice-looking lounge area on the 19th floor that I can reserve for private events -- a home poker game would get on great in there, but first I need some players.

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