Blog from E. Mark, the "e- Shark"


 Happy Labor Day; With Icing on Top!

Okay, like any player, I sometimes crow a bit after winning a nice hand that I've played well. I'll do it here, instead of at the table, where it's poor etiquette.

I'm playing the $20/40 limit Hold'em game at Atlantic City's Taj Mahal on Labor Day. The table is very loose aggressive, with big pots building in almost every hand. I'm mid position (two left of under the gun) and someone has already limp called. I look down at the Ace and 8 of diamonds and call for $20. There's a button raise by Julie (a decent Vietnamese player) and the action completes with six people seeing the flop. It brings the Queen of diamonds, 10 of diamonds and an off-suit 3. Jon, an early position player, bets $20 and I call behind (no use in raising my draw-hand on this table, I can't control the action from mid-position).

It's called around to Julie on the button, who raises $20. After my call, there are four of us who see the turn. Bingo! The 7 of diamonds opens giving me the nut hand; the Ace-high flush. Jon bets $40 into me and I quietly smooth call. Everyone aboard......please:) Julie again raises and I inwardly smile, reading her for the second-place King-high flush. Jon and I call and we three go to the river, the Ace of hearts (changes nothing:). Both Jon and I check to Julie, who bets $40. Jon calls her bet and now I raise.


The icing on top is that Julie 3-bets me! Jon folds, seeing he's lost. I 4-bet my nut hand. Julie grumbles, recognizing she's been cold decked, and calls the last $40 bet, while showing her losing King-high flush. As a sweetener, Joe and Marco, two players I respect, both compliment me on maxing value on the pot.

One of many nice moments in my Labor Day winning session.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   CAN'T WIN, BUT PLAYED IT GREAT! (8/23/11)

 Can't win, but played it great!

I was playing a short stack of about $85 at a fairly loose Atlantic City $1/2 no-limit table over Labor Day weekend at the Borgata.  There's a bad-beat jackpot in the room.  From early position, I limp-called the $2 blind, with the potentially qualifying bad-beat hand of 3, 6 of clubs (supports a straight flush).  The six-seat raised pre-flop to $10, after me.   As the last-to-act player, I called the raise, knowing that with five players in, the winner would drag at least $53 from the pot.
Not a bad return for me, as the most I stood to possibly lose was $85, my small stack.

The flop was 8, 10, Queen - two clubs.  As the first to act, I shoved my $75 stack (what I had after my pre-flop call) with my flush draw.  I reasoned there were many quality starting-hands the five players I was up against might fold (I'd gladly have taken down the $53 pot:).  My opponents might have been drawing very thin if I held a set, or better still a 9-Jack, for the straight.  The six-seat went into the tank for several minutes of thought and ultimately backed up his pre-flop raise, by over-shoving his larger stack than mine (hoping to isolate).  The eight-seat called.

The turn and river brought a red 3 and 6 - double pairing me. I said: 'two pairs,' without opening. The six-seat, in disgust and out of turn (my hand was still closed), opened pocket Aces. Then, the eight-seat opened the winner: a set of 8s which he had flopped (his pocket 8s hit).  I mucked without ever opening.

Post-Game Analysis, Why I Like my Play:
I defined the action when I shoved, and gave myself that chance to nearly double-up.  And, I was super live to quadruple-up against the callers.  Then, I protected my image after the river opened, by stating but not showing my two pair.

As it was late, I picked up after the hand. I'll play the folks from the table again, with their being unaware that I shoved on a draw, holding 6-high.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   COLD DECKED (8/7/11)

 Cold Decked

I think of a cold-deck as being one where the cards are ordered so that you're predestined to lose the maximum.  I met the granddaddy cold-deck yesterday and was on the losing side.  Still, I got a good laugh out of it, as I was having a winning session at the Borgata and the table was only a $10/$20 limit game.

Here's the amazing confluence that produced my incredible loss in a hand that I'd usually consider garbage, King 4 of clubs.

The Setup: I'd just played the big blind from the table's six-seat, when the nine-seat picks up, and a fellow named Rich says he's moving from the ten-seat into the nine-seat. I really want to play after Rich, as he keeps smooth-calling pre-flop two bets (mine included, as he's playing behind me), with terrible / unpredictable cards.  This brings in many other callers; the let's-play-a-big-pot crew. Rich's action after me has been undermining my play (which favors premium hands). Against 5 players (their win-chances combined), even suited Ace-King type of hands are a serious underdog.

I move to the ten-seat, so I can raise after Rich, when I'm playing high value starting hands. This way, I'll have better control of position and how many players enter those pots.  Having moved as the small blind, I already have $5 posted, when the next hand's action comes to me. Two players - the eight-seat and predictably Rich (now seated in the nine) - have already called $10, so I complete for another $5 and come into the pot with my hand, King 4 of clubs.

There are 2 more smooth callers, when the action comes back to Pete in the big blind. He raises. I give him a big hand but am 'priced in,' so I call his $10 raise - as does everyone.  The flop is the Ace of clubs, 9 of clubs and 2 of diamonds. Pete bets out.  I call - with the nut flush draw. The button raises and Pete calls. I again call.  The turn is the King of hearts. The action is checked to the button, who foolishly doesn't take the free card.  When he bets, Pete instantly raises. Given what's already in the multi-way pot, and still holding the nut draw (and a clearly trailing pair of Kings), I reluctantly make the $40 call.

The river is my worst card, the King of spades.

Pete bets out. I actually whisper to the dealer 'crying-call,' as I throw away another $20. There's a small chance my trip Kings will win, if Pete holds a hand like suited Ace Queen (which he might've raised pre-flop).
Pete opens pocket Aces, and wins with Aces Full.

Ouch! $95 more lost than my initial $5 small blind post. And, there wasn't a point in the hand where I could correctly fold.

Still, I've gotta laugh at the Sting-like scenario, which resulted in my being cold-decked.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross


 Where Everybody Knows Your Name

I think every poker player knows it, you see the same faces from time to time.  Doesn't matter which state you're in, or if you've never been in the casino before. Yesterday, I decided it was time to check out Parx Casino in Pennsylvania's Philadelphia area. It, together with the other recently opened PA poker room of Harrah's Chester (a bit south of Parx), have been taking many players away from Atlantic City.

On arriving at Parx, I was seated by the floor manager at a table where the dealer glanced over, recognized me and greeted me by name. I looked left to see Nick, who I know from Atlantic City. At the table, I knew two of the players even though it's not my usual game - it was a $1/2 no limit game, not my preferred higher value limit hold’em.

When I got into the $15/30 limit game (they don't spread $20/40 at Parx), I knew half the table.  It's really great that you can feel so welcome, and by name.

Overall, I thought that the Parx experience was pretty good and worthwhile for daytrippers coming from the north (it's about 45 min. closer to NYC, over AC).

Still, AC will keep the weekend crowds, what with its Jersey shore attractions (not present elsewhere). It should also appeal more to folks looking for lodging (not present at Parx) and dining, where AC wins it hands-down.  Of course, the new PA casinos will likely grow the player base, so there will be more people going to more places.

Even though player levels have dropped in AC, the games continue. And, best of all, you can always anticipate finding people you know at the table, doesn't matter where you go.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   POKER TORTURE (6/1/11)

 Poker Torture

Background: I'm at a newly opened $2/5 no limit table in Atlantic City at the Borgata. In just 30 minutes, I've already felted a guy with my Aces full (he had 10s full), and three hands later had my top set of Aces hold up, to win me another $205.

The hand: I've posted my $5 as big blind and look down at the 2 and 5 of diamonds. Mid position, Jane raises to $20 and a fellow I don't know (later he introduces himself as Ashford) has called. 

I'm running fantastically and have a great table image, so I call the $15 raise and check dark. The flop comes 10, Queen, 6, with one diamond. Everyone after me is somewhat suspicious, and perhaps this is their reasoning for checking. The turn brings the Ace of diamonds.

Jane goes all-in for her remaining $45 and Ashford calls - Big mistake, he should've raised! I call behind, with my draw. 

The river is the 7 of diamonds, completing my flush. I look at the card and Ashford (out of turn) states he's checking behind me (another mistake, inviting my bet). I know there are a lot of large bets I can make which will earn me nothing, because he'll fold. As Jane is going to show down with me, there's no reason for him to call unless he has a really good hand. 

So, I bet an amount so small that he can't fold, just $40. 

Now here's the poker torture, Jane mucks her hand (either she gave me a lot of credit or she was on a busted draw).

Ashford looks so unhappy. There is the main pot at stake and only his and my hands are now contending (Jane's folded). He knows he's beat, but the amount that I've bet is so small relative to the pot, that he HAS TO make a crying call, which he does. I table my flush and he open mucks Aces-up.

Sometimes poker can just torture a person. Better to give then to receive!

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   QUEEN HIGH (5/16/11)

 Queen High

I'm playing a $2/5 no limit table at the Borgata. I have Jake playing two to my left, who keeps making large pre-flop raises, and then showing unplayable starting hands (like, Jack 4), as he's dragging the pot.  Everybody's been folding away to his raises.

Fourth off the button, I look down at Queen Jack off-suit, which I want to play.  So, I min raise to $10 hoping for no re-raise by Jake.

No luck. Jake brings out $35. As there are two other callers, I call too.

The flop is 9, 10, 4, rainbow.  As I have the up and down straight draw and two overs, I bet out $40 - Maybe I can close out the hand.  Instead, Jake makes it $85 behind me and everybody folds away. I call.

The turn is an absolute blank, the 2 of clubs.  I check and Jake pushes his stack, which has me covered. If I call, it will be the $205 I have left.  I think about it and make the call. I have eight outs for the World; Any 8 or King gives me the nut hand, a straight. Also, any river Queen or Jack may win it for me, another possible six outs.

The river is a blank 3. I wait and Jake says: 'Nothing, I missed,' as he opens 8 Jack (the flop's wrap-around straight draw).

I win a pot of about $600, with Queen high.  Some days, all you need, is more than 'nothing.'

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

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