Playing for little, winning a lot
Hey, it's action, isn't it?
-Nick "the Greek" Dandalos
The turn is a 3, pairing up the board. Baze pushes all of his paper clips into the middle of our perfect heads-up table.
I look at him. He called my bet on the flop -- I had J7o and a J was on the flop. Two hands before, before we thought of using paper clips, he made a second 8 on the river which annihilated my black Jacks.
It doesn't matter if I'm playing for paper clips or for wads of cash.
I look at his eyes, the way he's held his cards. What he's looking at on the board. I look at the ceiling and do that playful bounce of the head that Negreanu does when he's thinking and trying to figure out a hand.
"You got a 3?" I ask.
But then, I think, this is a friendly game, I'm not going to go in the tank.
So I just do an abbreviated analysis: It's just for paper clips.
"I call," I say and flip over my top pair.
"I have nothing," he says, flipping over 82s. I win the pot and scoop up all the clips.
"Come back when you want another drubbing," I playfully taunt the Baze.
Things have been good lately. I think I've really figured out my game, figured out which games to chase.
I've made my run through the Crypto system, working my way through the bonuses and for better or worse, PokerStars.
"It's the Bellagio of the Internet," I tell Mark. I love that site.
I played everything from $10/20 to $2/4 limit and $1/2 to .25/.50 NL. I feel my skills in both are interchangeable, like Kuro or Clonie feeling equally confident taking a bat at you with the right or left paw.
On the lower limits in NL, I felt like a MLB pitcher. All of my moves were variable. I understood most of the reasons why someone would raise. I had the distinct feeling they didn't understand the reasons why I made mine. Value bets would be called. It was heavenly.
I think the difference is taking the game seriously, whether it's for paper clips or clay chips with big numbers on them. It's like what Mason Malmuth always says. If you can't beat the easy low-limit games, how on earth are you going to survive the higher limits?
I know that Doyle says you have to "play to where it hurts." But playing for lower than that is a gift. You're numb to the betting. There is no pressure. Your chump change may be where it hurts somebody else. You win their money, you just toss it in the pile for the bigger games. You lose some, it doesn't matter so much.
I even won a $12 6-handed SNG. I was the short stack, then was third of three. And then capitalized on my opponent's mistakes and inexperience. I stole pots with abandon. I let them try to bluff me, letting them flub off their chips.
Then I was in the lead. Heads up, I made a minimum raise with AT, got reraised a little, then pushed all-in. The other guy had Q9s. I made a T on the turn, but it didn't matter.
This was the same guy who burned up precious time when it was 3-4 handed and he was the chip leader and I was the short stack. When the tables were turned, I thought about doing the same back to him but decided against it.
"I thought about fucking with him, but I knew he couldn't hit my fast ball!!" I tell Mark.
It was nice to win, even though it was a small little contest. You always love winning the ones you should have lost.
The last few days have been great. I don't mind playing for lower limits. It frees me up a little, since my potential losses will not threaten my bankroll.
I look forward to playing live -- a variant of the Emory Game has popped up. It'll be interesting to see if the college players have improved. Hopefully they'll have been saving up.
I also look forward to spreading the love of the game. I tell this Italian girl that I'd be happy to teach her poker.
"I know nothing about poker," she says in those accents that are always easy to listen to.
I bounce my head from side to side. "It's easy to learn."
The goddess who? LOL