Monday, February 28, 2011

Ganas are Good, but...

I was reading @Berroya's blog this weekend and it led me to some great Tommy Angelo information.  I felt a little chagrined because my gosh, with as many poker books as I've read, you'd think I'd have heard of this guy but I had not prior to this weekend.  I do not post a great deal to or spend a huge amount of time in the forums (PocketFives and 2+2), although I do enjoy them both, and I understand if I spent more time there I'd have heard of him much sooner.  He was one of Phil Galfond's early coaches.  So, with that, Angelo's stuff is really good (reminds me of Tao and the Art of Poker).

Some things I've been working on since the last league game at JL's is: volume via the number of tournaments I've been playing (nothing to report there - running deep, but no top three finishes to regale you with...yet), and making decisions without being emotional or bringing baggage to the table.  Ego and and emotion can be huge tilters for me and I've got to work on that. I suppose as long as I'm breathing I will always struggle with competitiveness and hating to lose.  I want to turn those potential leaks into strengths, though...working on it.

I didn't have a winning game Saturday at JL's but in looking back over my notes, I do feel happy with how I played. I felt that I misplayed two hands that night.  One by not raising from the blinds preflop to a LP raiser and instead showing that aggression postflop; and, the other hand was not anticipating some action from one of the blinds after I'd raised from the BU w/ ATC.

Other than that, nothing really to interesting to report so I'll just share a fun hand...Remember I told you all about S - the good player who'd chopped a WPT final table for $7k?  How last tourney, he'd been raising his BU (and my BB) regularly?  How, we were evenly (but both below-averaged) stacked and I told myself the next time he did it I would make a move?  And how I did so with J4, which outflopped his A6o to knock him out of the tourney?
Well, let me set the stage from another entanglement with him, this time from this past Saturday's game:

We are down to two tables after breaking down the third.  S and his friend (MM) slide into their seats and S is 4 seats to my right.  MM is short-stacked (SS) and two to S's right.  S has a few chips less than me (we are both below average in chips).  Several orbits pass and I have played no hands.  Finally, I am in LP, S is in the BB.  Action folds to me and I look down at JTo and raise it up. One caller between me and the BU calls and S calls from the BB.

Flop comes AxK (one spade).  S checks to me.  I bet just a little less than 1/2 the pot, thinking to myself: "If he calls, I have to shut down on the turn because he's hit that flop."  I'm not worried about the other guy behind me, and in fact, he folds.  S calls.  Turn comes a Qs and I'm very happy.  S checks again.  I know he's hit the flop and likes his hand.  I know he's out of position and too smart to lead out there, and I have the nuts, what's the more profitable play here?  All this is going through my mind.  I elect to bet 3/4 of the pot because I think he will either call or raise AI.  He calls.  River brings x in the form of another spade.  He checks.  I know he's calling whatever I put out there.  While he's doing a good job of masking  whatever pain he's feeling inside, I know he's not sure where he is on this hand after the turn.  Remember - many of the hands he saw from our last game were whack job hands (J4o being one of them!) and so I guess he's got the idea that I'm capable of three barreling with air.  All I'm a little concerned about is whether he might've river flushed me, but if he did, then good for him.  I bet just enough to leave him with about 2 bbs, hoping he'd shove it all in.  He just called and looked at me.  I look down at my cards, moving to turn them over and ask him, "do you have the flush?"  He said, "no" and I quickly turn over the JT.

He JUMPS up, throws his cards down, and groans in anguish (he had AK) and get this: he starts TALKING ABOUT THE J4 HAND and how he was just waiting for me to hang myself, to keep betting at him with his top two.  In other words - where he apparently was throughout that whole entire hand was not in the hand that was playing out.  That's my take anyway.  He took a read from that J4 hand and got stuck with it and it cost him the chance to final table (and possibly more) again, right?  He was out two hands later.

I admit that I got pretty lucky with that Q on the turn.  How else could he have played the hand?  He had top two pair on the flop.  Should he have check raised my flop bet?  What about the turn?  Could he have gotten away from the hand?  I don't think so.  As I noted, though, I was done with the hand if I didn't improve on the turn and likely would've folded to a c/r. 

The interesting thing to me was his reaction.  His obvious emotion.  His inability to contain it.  I don't want to be that kind of player, ever.  I want to be a glacier...happy to talk about anything at that table that you want to talk about - so long as it's not poker.  Otherwise, no emotion when I hit big AND no emotion when I suffer the worst bad beat imaginable.

I bring all that up for a couple of reasons - to discuss the hand and all that, but also to ask about home game etiquette.  And I'll clarify further - this is a SERIOUS home game in that it's a league, everyone's gunning for the top because we want those points to earn WSOP $1000 seats. 

After my win at the last tourney, I said goodnight, thanked those who were playing in the cash game, and I went home to celebrate.  Maybe I am the worst form of cheap ass poker player ever because I have to tell you it never occurred to me to tip anyone as I'm leaving the house. I didn't see anyone else tip. Never heard anyone else mention they were going to tip.  Nada.  (NOTE - in a casino, I tip)  I've played many home games and have never tipped the house. While I've won or placed in top three before in Terry's home games, I've never tipped the house - and she's my friend.  Instead, we all bring goodies and we do the same at JL's league game.

Well...after my win, I got an email from JL in which he explained, "I don't know if you have much experience playing home games, but me and my friends generally find it customary to tip the house, especially if you win.  For example, B, who came in second, tipped $20 that night.  I'm not trying to be a jerk, I just wanted to let you know."

That kinda pissed me off.  Of course, I copied the email to Terry and apologized profusely for having never tipped her!  (and she was all "Dude - I've been hosting games for a long time and have never been tipped but once, don't sweat it, I don't expect it - J just wants his buy in covered")

But the thing is - J's never emailed me before (other than to send a mass email with dates/times, etc) and he's never taken anything more than my buy-in and 6-pack of sodas when I entered his house.  I've maybe spent 5 minutes total talking to the guy.

It's human nature to just kinda hang with who you know and like and are comfortable with.  I get that.  But, I guess what really got me was when I showed up to Saturday's game, I'd already made my mind up to "make it right."  I was a little late so all the players were already upstairs.  J's very lovely and sweet wife took my buy-in and handed me my chips and she was very nice when I said, "Oh, and here's my tip from last week.  I'm sorry about that - I didn't realize it was customary to tip the house, so I wanted to make it right."  When I get upstairs, I see J and proudly and happily tell him: "Hi!  I bought in downstairs - don't worry, I made it right and tipped your wife for last week."  His response?  "An RSVP would've been nice."


Um, ok, sure...when I understood you DID already have me down.  Yeah, thanks, and, uh, you're welcome.

The whole night was weird like that.  The only other thing was that there were about five other females at the game (out of 30 players total).  B, the guy I beat HU, was very indiscreetly asking guys for their numbers so he could invite them to his game, but none of the ladies got an invite.  I don't know...maybe he's got a thing for ganas.

Then again - maybe they read my blog? (hi) 

It does kinda chap me.  And I know I'm not there to make friends and they're all already friends and likely don't need more, but all I can say is that boy do I look forward to this game.  They're good players and I respect their games.  But that behavior?  Huge motivator.  HUGE (a la Julia Roberts on Rodeo Dr in Pretty Woman).

On that note...what kind of experiences do you all have with home games?  Was I a cheap ass poker douche?  Am I being too girly-sensitive?  Would love your thoughts.  As always, I appreciate you reading all this and I wish you luck at the tables!



  1. Two way problem.

    The house obviously wanted something but knows they can't ask for it (then it become a raked game and illegal in many states).

    I've never had a regular home game, but yes if there's a reason to drop a few bucks for the host (food, beer, pop, nice set-up, AC/DC playing live in the backyard) I'd throw a few bucks $10-$20 for the effort.

  2. I'm inclined to agree with Drizztdj on one level, but disagree on another (Salvatore reference?).

    You probably know more about this than I do, as you are an attorney, but tipping the house is quite dangerous, especially if it is 'expected' because of the ranked game thing. You also have to be careful with paying for food. Say you had a keg and charged $5 at the door to cover the keg for your home game, well then you could get pinched for having a ranked game. Crazy, I know.

    On an etiquette-level, I play mainly in casino, but have played in home games for years. I have never tipped the house, nor heard of it. On the other hand, if someone busts out early and deals for the rest of the game, occasionally (and discreetly) I throw them a few bucks.

    I don't think you were being a douche. I think you're buddy who demands RSVPs was though.

  3. I wish I had been there when you hit that straight with "Mr. Tilted-For-Two-Weeks". As I told you today, I had been in a hand with him where he folded JJ (he showed it as he folded) cause he thought I was holding KK (I was on a pure bluff). He asked me for 2 hours afterwards if I had KK. All I said was "you made a good fold" and smiled.

    I had no idea the other night he was still tilting over your hand, but I did notice when he came to our table, he never said hi to me, how's it goin, go to hell, or anything else. Thought that was strange, so maybe he was tilting over my hand with him too. To your advantage !

    As for the attitude at this game, you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman on Rodeo Drive. That's the EXACT feeling I get at this game. "yes you can play with us if you like, but you are not anywhere near being in our league"...I guess that was the reason for the sarcastic remarks a few weeks ago when we both made their final table (2 woman, first time I think he said).

    As far as rake, I go to one home game where the buy in is $100. She puts on a feast, serves water/sodas, etc. On break she mentions that it is not necessary, but is appreciated if someone wants to donate for the food. She makes this announcement at each game so that if there are new players present, they know. I always give $5 or $10 because they put a lot into cooking for everyone, serve home made dessert, etc. She only has this game for 7 or 8 times a year.

    Yes this is probably on the edge of violating Texas law about taking rake, but I don't think it is anything to worry about in a small game like this, UNLESS someone there has a bad night, gets pissed at the house, and reports it. Honestly though, the law has a lot more serious things to worry about. If it were a huge operation/underground game on a regular basis and tons of people coming and going all the time, they would be taking a risk.

    Sorry I "blogged on your blogg", but I love rehashing this


  4. I love your re-hashings, never stop!

    I appreciate the comments guys, very good to know different viewpoints, will help in the future!

  5. I play in a home game every now and then. I have never paid the house a tip. In WA state I understand it is illegal. I asked a dealer down at the casino if a person could deal a home game and get paid, and that is illegal as well. To me a home game is just that. A fun time to get together with friends. I treat the game as such as well because you will see people that normally do not play in casinos and understand how to play appropriately.

    I don't think you did anything wrong. I know I get treated different when I play a home game since I normally play at casinos and they know that.

  6. ok who is this jerk being mean to my little girl and where does he live? I love you, Mom xoxo


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