Heads Up with Grubby at Burger King

“The entire table can’t help but hear him say, “I’d just like to know one thing – what is the biggest difference between playing 100-200 and 10-20?” I look at him and say, “The limit – this is a different limit,” and he gives me an uncomprehending look and then smiles because he thinks I’m joking and says again, “No, really, I mean what’s the major difference in play in these games?” And I say, “The chips are different – these chips are worth more money.” And I say it completely deadpan and now he thinks I’m taking the piss out of him and he wipes the smile off his face. I see Johnny trying hard not to laugh. “You see if we were playing 10-20 we would be using red chips, but we’re not.” Everybody thinks I’m trying to make a fool out this guy, but I’m just saying the only completely honest thing that I can. But it’s not what this guy wants to hear. I want to shake him. I want to shout, “Look at me! Listen to me! There is no difference in play!!” But I don’t say that, I just repeat in a small voice, “This is a higher limit. The game is exactly the same as 10-20 but we use different chips.”
–Jesse May from Shut Up and Deal

Ahh, nothing like writing about poker while drinking Theraflu and your nose leaks uncontrollably. For you, loyal readers, I go the extra centimeter.

I signed in to Choice Poker to see if it was possible to work off 300 Hand bonus (I no longer believe in bonus whoring– I usually end up losing money on these). As usual, there was a single table going, and I sat down to check it out. A bunch of tight players (most likely props)… but who is that over in seat 3? Could it be… Grubby himself! After everyone folded to the blinds for 3 hands straight, I challenged the bad beet king to a little Heads Up action to work off the bonus. Bring it on Grubs!

I started off dominating, quickly going up 120 to 80 (on a $1-2 table) after we both bought in for 100. But the Grubster got a read on me quickly, and began to battle back. The key hand came when I slowplayed my pocket aces, and he caught a flush on the river, punishing me for 6 big bets.

This disaster began a downward slide, and he made all the right reads, and took a big lead at something like 110 – 50. They were raking away quite a bit, but at least the bonus hands were wearing down at lightning speed. I finally got a read on Grubby’s play, and fought back to even it back up at 70-70. I lost a hand or two, and realized that while I fought it out with an excellent heads-up player, the fish were happily swarming over at Party.

“I’ve got to let you go, Mr.Grubs,” and I got ready to go back to more familiar waters, but I took my last hand in the BB. Ahh, Big Slick, and Grubs raised from the big blind. I reraised, and when the flop came 2 4 4, I felt pretty sure I had the best hand. Grubs bet out, I reraised, and he just called. I figured it would be nice to go out with a bang, and the 7 on the turn didn’t worry me too much. The raise war continued, and I started to fear I was up against a pocket pair, so I just called… the river was another 4, and I called to see the Grubster turn over…

43 offsuit! Poker Gods, what did I do to deserve this? Well, at least he won the high hand bonus, collecting another $25 on the hand, leaving me $60 in the hole after getting my ass handed to me by quad 4s.

Much respect to Grubby, but I will take my revenge this weekend, on my home turf. Grubby, Grubette, and yours truly will be taking on the Hawaiian Gardens (right outside of LA) limit tourney, followed by some action in the loose ring games. Grubby’s advice: “Bring lots of money!”

Why waste time in a negative EV game when there are so many fish to fry? Well, the bonus hands were calling me, and I couldn’t resist the chance to serve up a bad-beat whopper to the stellar blogger/playwright. Veteran grinder Iggy stresses game selection, and it’s definitely something I need to work on:

“Because most winnings come from the relative difference between your skill and that of your opponents, and are not just a function of ability alone, any player – pro or not – who plays to win money, should simply table hop and find a table to their liking.”

Don’t be stubborn, hop along to greener pastures. A single extra bad player is worth at least a big bet an hour. Get your avatar ass out of the seat and hop to the next table.

The most difficult step for me in my poker development has been going beyond session-based thinking. The most valuable thing I’ve learned from Ignatius is that you absolutely cannot judge your performance or your poker skills by looking at short-term results. Yes, it’s tough to lose 25 big bets in a wild and loose game, but it’s even tougher to go back and analyze the hands that you lost with. Did you abandon your hand selection? Were you getting proper odds for your draw? Did you give a free card because you made the wrong read?

Sometimes you play perfect and you are outdrawn. In my former life as a football player, the day after a game would always be tough– your replay your mistakes in your head in slow motion all day, and you do your best to improve and avoid making the same mistake in the next game. But in sports, results usually go with performance. In poker, perfect performance often results in loss– even Aces are unlikely to win with enough players in the pot.

I keep reminding myself that in the long run, my hands will hold up, and the results will come. If I’m patient, and commit to the grind, I know that I will win.

A $100 winning session at a wild $3-6 table tonight was a nice end to the poker night, although the money came in true grinder fashion. No outstanding plays, just raking a few big pots in the 80 minute session (although I did lose a $120 pot with KK when four diamonds appeared and my king high flush was beaten by the ace of diamonds). I’m probably jinxing it, but that’s 7 winning sessions in a row. But session-based thinking is in the past, and I have made far too many mistakes during the run. A poker player never stays the same– you either get better or worse, and I’m hoping writing about poker will make me better.

Thanks WPT
I received a package from the WPT yesterday, and I was expecting to find a free entry package to the Commerce tourney, but got something nearly as good: duplicates of the $180 set of DVDs! A letter explained that many of the first set were found to be defective (they did skip excessively), and they bit the bullet and replaced them. I thought the $180 price tag was outlandish, but they gained many points for providing replacements. Especially since I left the disc with Lederer and Chip Jett playing heads-up speed hold-em on my flight back from DC to LA. But that’s a story from another time…

RDub with the Celebrity Poker Crew
If you remember from earlier posts, my buddy RDub has connections with Celebrity Poker announcer Phil Gordon, and made it down to Houston for the filming of the most recent episode. I won’t spoil it, but he’s got the inside scoop on your favorite celebrities, as well as plenty of hilarious stories about our favorite card-catching goofball. That’s right, Phil Hellmuth was there! When he’s not studying game theory or beating the hell out of the frat boys at his high-powered state university, he’ll be writing up his trip report. I’ll post it here as soon as I get my hands on it…

Chris Halverson has an excellent post detailing his start as a poker player:

“I finally came to the decision that if I wanted to actually learn how to play, I would have to pony up. I deposited $25 into UB and started playing the .25/.50 tables. I remember the first time I reached to move my mouse to click on that “Call” button. It was nerve wracking,
this was real money after all! Well, OK, it’s only a quarter, but I was still nervous. That all went away when I won my first pot. After all, this is real money!”

I find it interesting the different ways people arrive at poker. For those of you that have read Cards Speak from day 1, you’ll remember that I got to poker after a frustrating stint as a blackjack card counter. The edges were just too small, and my bankroll not big enough to make a good hourly rate on the blackjack tables. And if you think poker is a grind, try counting. In blackjack, the biggest edge you EVER get is around 5%, and you have to wait hours to see anything like that. No thank you.

Lord G also debates whether to make “the leap” to playing poker for a wage. Danger Will Robinson! Most everybody wants to “roll up the stake and go to Vegas”, but if I ever went pro, I would have to prove to myself that I had what it takes to make it. Sufficient proof? 2 BB/HR for at least 500 hours. I’ve never really aspired to play pro, but if I lost my job right now, I’d probably play at least 40 hours a week. But grinding for survival is a lot different than grinding for fun, and even if I was making a decent amount of money, I’m not sure I could handle the lifestyle.

Study these guys!
Every time I read Abdul and Izmet, I realize how pointless it is to post strategy or theory stuff here. It’s all been said. Read Abdul and Izmet. Every word. Then go back and read it again. You are not maximizing your profit until you do so. I can’t stress enough how much the concepts they discuss will help your game. And it’s free!

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