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


 Come-on Magic Jack

Yesterday was my last day in Singapore, which has two of the world's most costly and amazing casinos. Early in the week, I visited the Marina Bay Sands. OMG: High-end, but alas no poker.  And, they informed me that poker's not spread in Singapore. So, I spent the week otherwise engaged in a great city.

But, as my Friday plans involved travel from the HarbourFront Centre terminal, I decided to visit Resorts World Sentosa, which opened in 2010 and is near the terminal.  After all, it cost nearly $5BIL, so I wanted to see their impressive casino.

While there, I learned the latest: RWS opened their poker room last week :-)  Well, christening a card room is something I won't pass up!

I played their $5/10SGD no-limit Hold'em table [The Singapore dollar is valuable, so the game's about a US $4/8 no limit.]

I bought in for $1000SGD, quickly lost significantly in two nasty beats and over half a day fought back to near even, when I was dealt Queen and 9 of diamonds in the 6-seat. There'd been a limper and I decided to play my hand with a raise to $50SGD.  My image at the game was quite tight, so I hoped to control the action by acting last (if everyone after me folded).  Unfortunately, I got two later position callers (likely bigger hands, that would have raised, had I not).

Five of us saw the flop: 7, 8, 10 with two hearts and a diamond.  The action was checked by the small-blind to the limper on my right, who bet $150SGD.  With the open-ended straight-draw and a back door running-diamonds flush-draw, I wanted to see more.  So, I called. Both players behind me folded to the small blind, who also called. I read him for at-minimum a hand with a 9. Silently, I repeated a mantra: Jack, Jack, Jack..... And, the turn brought the Jack of spades - giving me the nut hand. The small blind immediately shoved all-in for over $600SGD and the player to my right quickly folded. I Insta-called, while opening my hand  When the river wasn't a Queen (would have given him a tying Queen-high straight - his went to the Jack), my straight to the Queen held, and I dragged a pot that put me well into profit.

Sometimes, all a session needs is one card falling right: way to go Magic-Jack.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   WELL DONE MR. SOLID (G2E ASIA - MACAU 5/27/12)

 Well Done Mr. Solid

In my free time from the G2E Asia gaming-industry convention last week, I played several nice poker sessions at the Wynn Macau and at the Venetian Cotai (a Macau outer area).

I watched a really great play by a middle-aged quiet corporate guy, who I'll call Mr. Solid.

When the hand happened, the table's players had been together for hours and had seen Mr. Solid make several seemingly good folds, like open-mucking 10, 10 preflop to a big re-raise. And, as we were playing an HK$25/HK$50 no-limit Hold'em table (that's about $3/6 no limit), with many playing DEEP stacks, raises amounted to real money.  That's Macau, way different from other Asian cities I've played. BIG in Macau is often bigger than anywhere else. Many properties  - including the Venetian Cotai (where the below happened) - dwarf perhaps everything in Vegas in casino size, profitability and bankrolls played.

Sixth off the button, with everyone folded to him, Mr. Solid raised to HK$200 - four times the big-blind.  In the cutoff, a young hyper-aggressive sharp player (who'd been winning up to then) - I'll call him Young Turk, smooth called.

Both saw a Jack, 7 2 flop, which had two spades. First to act, Mr. Solid bet HK$400. He was again smooth called.

The turn brought a blank offsuit 3. Probably wanting to close out the hand, Mr. Solid bet HK$1400. Again, he got smooth called.

The river was the King of spades. Both an over-card to the board and completing the flop's obvious draw-hand.

Mr. Solid checked.  Now, Young Turk bet HK$4400, more than the pot (well over US$500).

Mr. Solid looked straight at Young Turk and said: 'That's such a bad card, an overcard and it completes the flush." As he spoke he stared into Young Turk for about 10 seconds, like he could see his soul. Then, Mr. Solid went into a minute's deep thought. Afterwards, he SAID OUT LOUD, like there'd been no long-pause: "......but you look like the kind of player who'd float on me, thinking you could get me to fold with a big river-bet, if any threat-card fell." Mr. Solid then pushes forward the HK$4400 call (about 70% of his remaining stack).

Here's the best part, Young Turk says: 'Your Jack is good,' but Mr. Solid DOESN'T open.  He waits. This forces Young Turk to muck or open his hand.

As Young Turk  holds a suited-diamonds 10-7 hand, he's forced to open, as his pair of sevens beat some hands that might've called.

Mr. Solid opens Ace, Jack offsuit and drags the BIG pot (more than US$1500).

And, by his speech and forcing Young Turk to show his cards, Mr. Solid neutralized the table's real threat-factor. Young Turk was revealed as someone with plenty of moves, but perhaps often without the cards. Entering a pot which had been significantly raised preflop, to play a non premium hand like a suited 10, 7 heads up, is suggestive of Young Turk's I'll-outplay-you swagger. That approach only works until you're outed.

Shown up as a guy with more moves than a snake, Young Turk cashed out slightly down, with half the chips he'd had in Mr. Solid's stack. I for one was glad to see Young Turk go. Well done Mr. Solid!

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross


A Player Who Should Lose, Does

Yesterday, I played the 25-pesos/50-pesos no-limit Hold'em table (that's about $1/2 no limit) at the Metro Card Club in Davao City in the Philippines. I was dealt into a hand where the under-the-gun player had straddled to 100 pesos and JJ (the tight player seated to my right), as sixth to act, had called 100 pesos.  He likely held a hand like a small pair or suited connector, which only plays well if it's cheap preflop and folds to a respectable raise.

My hand was the Ace and Queen of clubs, so I raised to 500 pesos. I played to either take down the 275 pesos already in the pot or to control the hand as the preflop raiser, with last-to-act position.

I got a smooth-call from Ray, a marginal player in the cutoff seat.  So, he'd play after me.  Everyone else folded.

We both saw the flop, the 10 and Jack of clubs and an irrelevant off-suit 3. As first-to-act, I went all-in for another 1100 pesos.  Of course, I liked the flop, with my two overs, any King for a straight, the nut flush draw and a royal-flush draw.  When Ray stalled the game 'thinking,' from impatience and believing he was folding anyway, I said 'big flop.'  Ray looked my way, postured a bit more, and reluctantly open-mucked pocket 9s. I showed my hand and said, 'good laydown.'

Beyond the fact that I had previously outplayed-him in the session (Ray's not very good), his hand's math sucked against mine, with both the turn and river cards coming. Also, if my hand had been a pocket overpair, or had already connected with the board, he'd have had far worse odds.

Here's the ridiculous part: Ray grumbled for awhile: 'I should've called.'  Then, he convinced the dealer to rabbit-hunt the as-yet unshuffled stub of the deck.  So, he saw he would've won.  [The never-to-be-dealt turn and river cards were bricks, and his pair would have held.]

Ray probably still thinks he played it wrong. What a dope: doesn't matter to him that he'd have been putting basically all his money in as a 37 percent underdog.  All that Ray appreciated is he would've won, so he should've called.

Postscript:  Ray re-bought several times in the session, always losing his stack.  Not surprisingly, he left broke.


- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross


On the Winning Side of a Really Wicked Beat! Ship the Sherbet

I'm playing the small blind at a $1 /$2 no-limit table and I have to decide whether to fold or if not, how to play my 6, 8 suited hand. Everyone else has folded, so I'll only be contending against the big blind.

I've been running good at the table and have a good image, so I decide that I'll put in a small raise to $6 and perhaps win the pot or play the hand from strength. I'm not inclined to fold a suited-gap-connector hand. Instead of folding or just calling, the big blind re-raises to $12.

At this point, I'm committed to seeing the flop and call his re-raise.  The flop is Jack, 7, 8 rainbow. I check and he bets $9, which I misinterpret as weakness. He's bet less than half the pot, which he'd have done after missing the flop (a big Ace, like Ace Queen, would have whiffed). If he'd have held a no-pair hand, my mid-pair of 8s would have been in the lead.

As I only had just $40 left on the table, I chose to raise all-in, hoping that he'd fold and I could take down the pot, without worrying about the turn and river.

Instead of folding, he immediately called. He opened tops set, as he held Jack Jack in his hand.

The wicked part is that the turn and river were a 9 and a 5, making me the winner as my 6 gave me the gut-shot straight. Talk about an unlikely win. I thought; Ship the sherbet, as I took in the $100 pot.

It's good to be good, but it also helps to occasionally get super-lucky.


- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   I'M DOING MY PART (BORGATA 3/1/12)

I'm Doing My Part

I'm playing a bad beat eligible $10/ 20 limit game at the Borgata last Saturday, where it's been super-busy.  Who wouldn't want a piece of the over $500,000 prize that's waiting to be hit?

Mid-position, I limp the 10 and Queen of hearts for $10 (heck, it's suited).  To my left is my new friend  Eddie, who folds and I flash him my cards, while whispering; 'I'm doing my part.'

Five of us see the flop; a Jack of hearts, 9 of spades and 4 of diamonds. Having an open ended straight-draw and an over-card (my Queen), I bet.  Three call and the dealer Lillian opens the turn card, the Ace of hearts.

Having added good flush-draws, I bet again. Two callers, and  Lillian deals the river, the King of hearts. Yahtzee!

I bet again and both players call.  It's great to see that poker still holds new thrills.  It was a singular pleasure to open my first casino Royal Flush.  As I dragged the pot, I loudly repeated my 'I'm doing my part,' as we all asked; 'Where's the losing-quads, so we could've hit the bad best?'  Maybe that's the next new-pleasure poker has to offer?  I'll keep playing, if only to find out:)

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

3pips   MY TILT-POINT AND RECOVERY (2/23/12)

My Tilt-Point and Recovery

I used to think I’d never tilt.  Not me. Then, about a year after I started playing extensively, I was into the-session-from-Hell and I reached my limit. Argh! I probably wound up losing an extra $500 during that relatively short session. As I was cashing out and licking my wounds, I realized: Hey, I can tilt too. Caused me to recognize this and occasionally blow off steam rather than going really over the edge.

This past Presidents' Day weekend, was one of those rare instances when I reached my personal tilt-point.  I was in Atlantic City playing the Borgata's $20 / 40 limit game and was taking the nastiest losses, over hours. One of many examples was losing with my flopped top-set, to a fellow who’d PREFLOP four-bet me with a suited 7-4 of hearts hand.  He flopped one heart and then made runner, runner hearts to win with a straight-flush.  Amazingly, I finished 3rd in that hand, as the 3-bettor made a heart flush too (made the beat even more ridiculous, as their hands held four of the thirteen hearts). Crazy stuff!

Anyway, after losing that brutalizing hand, I had to let off steam.

About three hands later, I was dealt 2, 3 suited.  I preflop 3-bet a really tight player, who’d raised from early position.  Well, at least I held position on him.  It was heads-up, after no one else called.  We went to the flop: Ace-Ace-Jack. He checked and I did too. Perhaps because he sensed weakness, he bet into me when the turn brought a Jack – making the board Ace-Ace-Jack-Jack.  Sensing that he might have a counterfeited pre-flop raising hand – like a 9-9 pair, and more significantly just tired of losing, I raised (with nothing and no flush draw). Won it, when he folded!

Best part, my steaming play not only cleared my head, I made money off it. Went on after that to recover and walked out with a win.

Bottom line, either blow off steam and get over your tilt when it happens or end your session.  Playing tilted for any long stretch is often costly.

Postscript:  I thought about the hand and realized its surprising quirk. Played out (rather than won via betting), there's no hand I could ever beat with my 3 kicker playing (I might at best tie, by playing the board).  Even if a 2 opened on the river, making the board Ace-Ace-Jack, Jack and 2, I'd still be left in a tie against a theoretical 2-3 held by my opponent (if we had the same hand) and losing to every other hand he could have, including 2-2 (where he'd have made a winning full house).  Strange twist.

- E. Mark the "e-Shark" Gross

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