Monday, February 27, 2006

In Cold Blood: Another Night at Murderer's Row
"Oh, look at Reek. He's so cute I want to breastfeed him. Sorry, Henry." - Mrs. HDouble
Nothing is more unnerving than walking into a situation where you cannot control any of the events. It reminds me of those old John Ford westerns that I used to watch when I was a kid. I always had trouble sleeping and I'd sneak into the living room and view late night movies in the dark while my parents and my brother slept. This was in the days of pre-cable, DVDs, and VCRs and I'd have to settle on whatever flick they chose to run on ABC's Late Night Movie. I was always fascinated with old school westerns, where a new gunslinger rode into town on a healthy horse ready for a shootout with the grizzled locals where at some point, he wandered into the local saloon/bordinghouse/whorehouse for a piece of ass, a shot of whiskey, and a game of cards. Poker has been part of the outlaw subculture for a century and a half and when I walked into Murderer's Row two Saturdays ago, I secretly wished I was packing heat.

The infamous homegame at Murderer's Row in West L.A. is a place that no matter how well you played, you're still not guaranteed to leave without getting your junked kicked so far up into your esophagus, that you're gonna need emergency colon surgery just to pluck out your swollen testicles from your digestive track.

The Murderer's Row game is filled with some of the best minds in poker including an eclectic collection of the astute programmers and members of the poker blogging elite. Whether it's cash games, tournaments, online poker, or playing in the super loose local cardrooms... you'll easily find a successful player in one of the regular seats at Murderer's Row. With a mine field cluttered with tight players and loose maniacs, you're constantly playing the guessing game and must switch gears on every hand in order to survive. It's hard enough to play against a guy like Ryan who spent the last six weeks playing against pros everyday or a guy like HDouble who routinely kills the cash games at the local casinos. But then throw in a very drunk and uber-loose Lance into the mix or the cagey Mrs. HDouble who can and will play any two cards and set you on tilt for weeks, and you have a challenging table and a rough night ahead of you.

The Poker Geek
mentioned something that's he's down over $1K since he started playing at Murderer's Row. I'm sure that's an inflated number to illicit sympathy, but with games like Columbine, it's not entirely impossible to lose that much money in one session. Usually pots in Pot Limit Hold'em tend to be bigger than most NL pots.

I played at Murderer's Row in December for the first time with Grubby and Grubbette. (You can read Part 2 and Part 1 of that night.) That fateful night Change100 sent me to the rail in the tournament when she cracked my A-A after she flopped a set of 5s. I got so hammered during my first Murderer's Row game that I passed out on the drive back home to Grubbette's. At least I made some money in the cash game to save my dignity.

HDouble is a great host and tries to cushion the blows early with free booze and free pizza before the tournament started. He squeezed two poker tables into his tiny apartment, and as soon as one table broke, a cash game popped up on the other. The routine was a $50 tournament to start followed by cash games. Top 4 places paid with $340 going to the winner. I ended up taking 3rd place. I had been running pretty good I thought considering that two days earlier, I took third place in the LA Poker Classic Media tournament. I was also in the middle of erasing my losing streak, so my confidence was pretty high despite the high caliber skill of play.
My Starting Table:
Seat 1: Wampler
Seat 2: Facty
Seat 3: Laurie
Seat 4: Pauly
Seat 5: Bill
Seat 6: HDouble
Seat 7: Shyam
Seat 8: Shane Nickerson
Seat 9: Ryan
I don't recall much. I didn't take very good notes, which was unusual. I was drinking steadily after I skipped out of work early to play. I thought I left Commerce Casino at a reasonable time. No such luck. Driving on two freeways was awful. The traffic on the I-5 and I-10 was a pain in the ass which is normal for Friday rush hour.

The first hour went by quick. Laurie arrived late and when I reraised her she snapped, "Don't you know who I am?"

"Errrrr, you're the hot chick from Full Tit with the red hair!"

I was worried that if I pissed off too many Full Tilt employees then I'd end up getting the doom switch dropped on my ass whenever I played. Most of the first hour was dedicated to making prop bets with Bill Rini. We'd bet on "highest card" that we'd pull out of the muck.

Ryan built up a stack early. He was telling me how he watched pros continuously limp into unraised pots as he did the same. Facty and Laurie had their stacks evaporate and they were some of the first players busted from our table. I folded and was chipped down the first hour until I found J-J. Nickerson opened up with a raise and I came over the top for an re-raise. He called. On a flop of 6-4-2, he bet out and I moved all in. He reluctantly called with 7-7. My Jacks held up and Nickerson was busted. That was the beginning of my mini-rush.

When Ryan was shortstacked he raised my blind from the button and I popped him back with A-8. He moved all in and I had a tough decision to make. I eventually called and was ahead of his J-10. He flopped a pair and I rivered an Ace to bust him.

A few hands later, I sent Bill Rini to the rail. With 4-6o, I flopped middle pair and an opened straight draw on a board of 3-4-5. Rini moved all in with A-3. I called thinking I was behind, but having a decent draw. Instead I was ahead and my hand held up. At that point, I was one of the table chipleaders.

I rivered the Wheel against the Poker Geek and I crippled him. HDouble tripled up with 10-4s against K-K and A-Q. And HDouble took a big hand from me when his 9-9 held up against my A-Q. I eventually busted the Geek and was the chipleader once the final table was seated. Lance looked like he was the closest to me in chips, while Wampler looked strong as well. Kori made the final table too along with HDouble, Shyam, Franklin, and Katkin.

Lance won a ridiculous hand with K-6 on a hand he almost folded in a multi-way pot. He ended up busting Franklin's 9-9 and Kori's A-10 on the same hand when he flopped trips. I lost a big hand to Lance when he slowplayed a flopped straight. He had Q-J on a board of A-K-10. I had K-8s and flopped second pair. The hand was checked on the flop and turn. I rivered trip Kings and figured I was good. I bet out, Lance value raised, and I called. He had Q-J and I felt like Erik Seidel at the 1988 World Series of Poker when Johnny Chan flopped the nuts against him.

That hand crippled me. HDouble finished in the money in fourth and I was out soon after in third. Shyam lost heads up to Lance, and in true fashion Lance sucked out on Shyam to win it all. I wish I could have kept all my winnings, but Spaceman had 25% of my action so I had to give him a cut. After the disastrous cash game, I'd end up leaving down a few bucks.

* * * * *

After a quick smoke break with Change100, I joined a cash game. Right away I started to piss away my third place winnings. My nemesis for the night was Mrs. HDouble. At first glance, Mrs. HDouble looks like a sweet Swedish girl, but that's part of her deception. She an existentialist at heart, can cuss like a sailor, and rip out your eyeballs at any moment. If you want to be victorious against her, you better have the balls to go all the way to the river and hope that your hand holds up. I discovered the hard way that it's impossible to push her off a pot. I had to dig into my pocket for three rebuys during the PLH game. Most of my chips went to Mrs. HDouble's stack. Like a good socialist, she spread the wealth around the rest of the table. Unfortunately, I was not able to win any of my money back from her.

Mrs. HDouble is full of hilarious one liners. She's easily the most quotable player in the game. She kept asking me about Daddy the Donkey Fucker. The last time I played at Murderer's Row, we explained to her the entire donkey fucker trend. At first she thought Daddy was fucking monkeys, but grew angry at the thought about his sexual trysts with donkeys.

Take a peek at Change100's recap of the game. She won the largest pot every in the history of Columbine against pocket rockets and SMTL.
"Columbine. It's a 4-way all-in. AA vs. JJ vs. 78o vs. snowman-taterlegs on a 783 flop. Ephro of course had the taters. Rini had one of the big pairs and gazed at the felt in utter disbelief, glassy-eyed and weaving heavily from his Heineken-laced bloodstream as I tabled my top two pair to rake in a pot worth over $250. I couldn't fucking believe it. And this, after a horrible beat I put on the Geek when he got his money in with two small pair and my AA spiked a set on the turn. This must be how Katkin feels every week."
Change100 was up $250 at Murderer's Row which is like having an ERA under 1.50 at Coors Field. I lost all my tournament winnings and didn't care too much. I had a great time. I sat next to Ryan during the cash game and shot the shit with him.

That particular game I attended held special reverence because that's gonna be the last Murderer's Row game for a while. HDouble informed the crew that the sorry lot of hooligans who populate his homegame have gotten to loud for his neighbor's tastes. It takes a lot of weirdness to spook out the freakazoids in this town, but all the frenetic energy late night bad beats and suckouts seeped through the walls and rattled the neighbors.

The Murderer's Row game will start up again after the dust settles. That's why certain poker rooms or homegames have shelf lives. External circumstances like law enforcement, criminal elements, and broke players often ruin a good game. Enjoy every moment at the tables because in this world of legal uncertainties, you can get pinched at any time. This instance, the game was busted up temporarily. Dozens of degenerate gamblers scampered down dimly lit streets in the City of Angels seeking a new refuge for poker like cockroaches scurrying through my kitchen at 3:30am. Wherever and whenever Murderer's Row reconvenes, it's still going to be the toughest homegame to beat on the West Coast.

* * * * *

Over the past week or so, I posted a series of L.A. pictures over at the Tao of Pauly. I also been writing a ton since the WPT Invitational and the LAPC ended. Take a peek at a piece I wrote called LA Stories: Let's Do Lunch. Yeah, even Otis liked it a lot. Here's a bit:
The 11am sunlight ripped through the blinds and illuminated the entire room with a radioactive glow that burned the eyelids off my face. That was my daily alarm... a high concentration of natural light piercing my retinas. If I was able to conquer the insomnia for a rare night, I never slept in too late because the solar rays prevented me from falling back to sleep. My first glimpses each day were traces of a large palm tree shooting up out of the ground and towering over the garage across the alley. That's the first reminder that I was in Los Angeles... more

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