the poker chronicles: first edition

yes, my first blog about poker.

poker, and more specifically texas hold'em, is the biggest thing that's hit us americans since beanie babies, reality tv, and the low-carb diet. everyone's playing poker. men, women, grandmas and grandpas, high-school kids, and of course, young studs like me.

but i started playing poker (or cards in general) since i was a kid. i grew up playing chinese cards games like 'big 2' , and 13 card (a.k.a 'chinese poker') with family and friends. card games came naturally to me. i liked the competition and strategic nature of the games. then about 5 years ago while in london, a few friends and i started having poker nights. we played all the crazy games, like 'queen, follow the queen', 'guts, nuts, putz, and sluts', and everyone's favorite, 'kings and little ones'. the poker nights started off friendly, but eventually got out of control, culminating with an infamous night where we had thousand dollar pots, with the big loser (who shall remain nameless) had to pay off his debt with his next paycheck. that night killed our poker nights. but alas, the current craze in poker has revived our poker nights, with a change in format: "no-limit texas hold'em. tournament style. winner takes all. losers go home."

and that brings me to last night. with saran at 6 wins, and both jo and joe at 5, i was hungry to win my 4th, as i had been in a serious slump. at one point (in december i believe), saran, joanne, and i were all tied for the lead at 3. and here i am in march still stuck at 3, after numerous heartbreaking 2nd place finishes. needless to say, i was determined.

game 1
players: saran, rich, joanne, joe, sarah, jamie (sarah's little sister visiting from san diego), chris (jamie's bf), and myself
pot: $80 (big pot)
summary: the game started off pretty slow, with relatively small pots, and slightly conversative play by all (except rich and saran, of course). but then the action picked up, with chris going out first when i called his all-in with the board showing 4,7,4,4. my pocket queens beat his A9 when the river was a blank. then came the hand of the night. jamie, sarah, joanne, and saran were in after some preflop raising. the flop came 6,7,6 with 2 diamonds. jamie bet, sarah raised, saran went all-in, joanne reluctantly called, jamie also went all-in, and finally sarah also called!!! somebody must have a 6 right? nope. sarah and joanne checked down the blank turn, and the river 10 of diamonds. the hands were all turned. sarah showed AA, saran showed JJ, joanne showed QQ, and jamie proudly showed her Q2 of diamonds for the river flush!! to everyone's disbelief, the monster pot went to jamie, who had the weakest hand preflop. and that's why people love poker. it eventually got down to me and joanne heads up. i was short-stacked, so my strategy was basically all-in or fold. i was able to build my stack up a bit using this strategy, but eventually lost when my top pair all-in hand was beat my joanne's gut-shot river straight. joanne notched #6. and another 2nd place for me. ahhhhhhh!!!
winner: joanne (#6) beating me heads-up

game 2
players: saran, rich, joanne, joe, and myself
pot: $50
summary: perhaps feeling a bit frustrated with yet another 2nd place finish, i decided to play game 2 aggressively. in other words, i was on tilt!! the game started really slow for me, as i didn't pick up a single ace for about 4 rounds, so my strategy had to wait. eventually i started picking up good cards, and started raising like a mad man. after joe and joanne went out, rich and i had a lot of chips with saran short-stacked. i continued with my aggressive play, and with a little luck, knocked saran out when my dominated hand of 84 vs. Q4 won with a river straight. and now it was just me vs. rich. i continued with my strategy, and won several blinds by simplying saying the magic words: "all-in". with a good size chip lead, i called rich's preflop raise with my 76 offsuit. when the river came 8,5,10, i decided to put rich all-in with my open-ended straight draw. i figured he had two high cards, and would fold. but he called quickly and showed QQ. doh! but to my relief, my straight came on the river when the beautiful 4 showed up, giving me my loooooooooooong-awaited 4th victory. woohoo!!
winner: me (#4) beating rich heads-up

stay tuned for the next edition of 'the poker chronicles' ...