Saturday, October 15, 2005


But I don't always suck that badly, really.

Friday night I had a good time at the JPPA card room, in the Everest Poker sponsered tourney. I think there are another 2 or 3 weeks of the freerolls from the Everest-JPPA liason - a few more attempts to win free stuff! Why not? I'm dense but not crazy.

I've been reading Volume 1 of Harrington on Holdem this week, which has been excellent. His discussion of different player types and how to play against them is much deeper and thought-provoking that anything else I have read so far. The discussion of table image and how others will perceive your play and respond to it has also given me a lot of food for thought these last days.

The JPPA card room has mostly been filled with serious poker-playing Japanese men whenever I have been there. These guys are generally pretty good, take the game seriously, and play a tough game. But it does make the room a bit intimidating for newer players, especially women players. Duke, the bar with the regular poker games, has a more relaxed and open environment and has quite a few regular women players. But I'm seeing more women at the JPPA room the last few times I have been there. And I am all in favor of it!

In fact, one new face I saw at the Ueno room was a new female player. A slim, female player with long legs, nice curves, cute face, and long straight hair. Yes sir, we need more players like this!

She was pretty new to the game, it looked like - maybe it was the folding of hands after a bad flop but with no bet to her yet that gave it away. But she seemed to have a good time so hopefully we'll see her around again.

I wonder if it will be easier for Japanese women to take up poker than American women, since they won't have any subliminal images of poker as a seedy game played by men in smoke-filled back rooms. Here's hoping.

Anyhow... I felt I played pretty well in the tournament but was knocked out pretty early. The player to my left was making fairly aggressive bets often, and based on some of the other player's comments, he seemed to have a reputation for aggression as well. So when I found AQs, I wanted to look him up with it. I made a standard raise, which he called. The flop came J-Q-9, which gave me top pair and top kicker, but disturbing. I checked, fully expecting him to make an aggressive bet, which he did. I reraised him a good amount, enough to put him all-in. I figured he would back down, but he barely paused before calling. He flipped over KK. Ugh. I would have to try this when he actually had a hand. Turn was an 8, and then the river was a 10, which got me excited for a second because I made a straight. It took me a moment to realize he had also made one, and his was King-high.

I had had him covered by a small amount, so I stuck around a bit longer. I chose a couple spots to open with all-in raises and stole some blinds so keep my hope alive, but was eventually called. It was a fair match at the start, but I missed the flop and he didn't, so I finished up early.

There was another foreigner player there on Friday, which was a first. His name was Steve, also an English-speaker, American, so we got to talking after I finished up. He had been knocked out on his second hand, when he got dealt pocket aces, made a 3BB raise and was called by someone with 5-7 offsuit. Naturally the flop was 4-6-8, and the guy let Steve bet it up to all-in and then busted him. Ouch. Steve was grinding his teeth for a while, trying to come to grips with that one. He played it all right but was just destined to lose all his chips that time. Best to just accept it.

After a few more bustouts, we started up a side game. We stuck with Holdem, but decided to play no-limit this time, whereas we have normally played limit holdem in the side games in previous visits. It got... interesting. Everyone buys in for 500 yen (about $5), to get a rack of 100 chips. If you lose them all, you can buy again for the same amount. If you finish the evening with 200 chips or more (doubling up), you receive a JPPA ticket good for a tournament buy-in. (I won a couple of these tickets the first time I showed up at the Ueno room, long time readers may recall.) With the Everest freeroll games going on now, the tickets don't mean much, but will be worth about 1000 yen each when we're back to games with a buy-in fee.

Maybe it was just because we hadn't played many no-limit sidegames before, but it got pretty wild there shortly after the start. The blinds were 1 and 2, so a reasonable raise should be 6-10... right? Well, we quickly started raising one or two columns of our rack, 20 chips each, instead of bothering with smaller amounts.

Counting things in Japanese can be frustrating at times. There are counter suffixes for many types of different objects that you add after the number, depending on the type of object it is. If you're just counting from one to ten, you'll count, " ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, shichi, hachi, kyuu, juu..." and so on. But if you're counting flat things, like a piece of paper or a poker chip, you'll add the suffix -mai, so it becomes "ichi-mai, ni-mai, san-mai..."

When announcing your raise, you'll usually say, "Raise 6" or "Raise 6-mai". But we started using the counter -hon, which is used for taller, round things, like bottles or markers or... a column of 20 chips from your rack. So we'd still be saying "Bet one!" or "Bet two!", but saying "Bet ippon!" or "Bet ni-hon!" to note that we weren't making your normal pedestrian flat-thing bets.

Okay, so it's kind of boring to read about, but we were enjoying it.

We all go pretty aggressive with our bet sizes and yet were still calling and seeing 3-4 players in a pot that had been raised 20 times the big blind already. Chips were flying, shifting around the board in massive, continent-sized chunks as tectonic drift shifted into overtime.

A couple of players busted and rebought, so the stacks began to grow. I hit some good cards and filled up a second rack. As I started my third, I remembered what Harrington had written about thinking about how your play style is being perceived by the other players. I realized that I had been playing only a few hands, and generally having a lock on the win before betting big and taking down the pot. Several of the others had been making comments like, "yeah, of course... he obviously has the straight." So I was right - my image was that I was solid and playing only good cards. Time to use that.

I loosened up a lot, getting into a lot more pots and betting aggressively with a lot less. And I still continued to win! A big bet on the flop or turn with only middle or bottom pair would usually win me the pot, and the few times I got called I got lucky and won the hand anyhow. This continued for so long that I actually began to get worried that I was winning too much! Maybe you shouldn't worry about getting too much respect at the table, but if every time someone called me I managed to win the hand, eventually they'd stop calling me. Finally, finally I got called and took a crap hand to showdown and lost. About goddamn time! Thank god! I thought. I never figured I'd be relieved when I lost a hand, but indeed do many things come to pass.

I finished up a bit short of 300 chips, and no re-buys for me, so a good showing and a lot of fun play in the side game. Great practice, and a great chance to try some new things, screw around, see what works and what doesn't, and just enjoy. I came home feeling good about the evening and good about my play, and that is a mighty nice feeling.

(And yet four hours of sleep later I'm a frigging donkey at the WWdN game. Just call me versatile; I can do it all, baby.)

No comments: