Monday, July 14, 2008

A Day at the Aces, part 2

Posted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:12 pm Reply with quote Edit/Delete this post

Having no kids to sit at my feet and adoringly look up at me on Father’s Day (they are grown and live elsewhere), I made a day trip to the casino. The room was fairly empty. The crowds of last summer have dissipated. Three tables of $1/2 all had a seat available and I took the 9 spot on table 3.

I was going to try out my new prescription sunglasses. I couldn’t tell if the Q on the board was a club or a spade without straining to see, so off they came. The refraction is a little too strong for that close, so I guess I’ll have to wait until my eyes get a little worse to use them.

In short, I was pretty much card/draw dead for most of the day, and when I got action, it was weak. I was able to limp numerous times with Ax suited with nary a flush to be found. Suited connectors limped from position went nowhere, I hit a gutshot after pairing the board, and when I raised, on the turn, the player folded. I rarely saw the turn. I’d go up $50, down $50, up $10, down $75.

Down $75. This big burly 35 year old sat to my right. He was playing a lot of hands, even though he was a relative newcomer. He was also doing a lot of talking: “When I was a chef; I used to be a semi-professional athlete; I was fast…” He was about 150 pounds overweight, had squinty, puffy eyes and was wearing flip-flops. He had mild BO, would get up from the table every few rounds and disappear for a couple big blinds. Each time he came back, he smelled a little bit stronger of alcohol.

Early on, before I had much of the above information, he called a mid-position $7 dollar raise from his SB. I had AA and raised it to $20. The first player folded and he called. The flop came with three hearts, one of which was a jack. I had no heart. He checked and I bet $40. He raised another $40, I folded. Without looking at his cards, he turned over one card, a black jack.

He asked, “AK?”


So, without a good read at this point, I had to put him on AJ or JJ. He called the initial raise, which could have meant AJ, and he called my re-raise, which could have been a loose AhJ or JJ. As the day wore on, it become apparent that he over-valued his hole cards, but I still felt pretty good about my read. He sucked out on a very solid player a bit later, so I thought perhaps if I was patient, I might get another opportunity. Yet, none came as he changed up his play, protected his stack a bit, and still managed to lose $100 before he racked up and left.

Aside from Mr. Bloat, and the parade of short buy-ins, the table was pretty conservative and solid for a long time. A guy in the #1 seat was hitting hands and had more than doubled up. Then things started to change. A dealer who is known to play LAG sat down and blew through $200 after winning $700 at $2/$5. I was again dead for a couple hours and my stack went nowhere except down from the blinds.

The action continued when a few other players sat in, ready to gamble. An old guy with a hearing aide and a short stack consisting of a few $25 chips from blackjack or craps sat in seat 8. He doubles up on his first hand at the table. In 7 was a rotund individual, rather jolly and chatty, placed, never using it as a card protector, a Buddha next to his $200. I was able to get a fairly good read on both players early on. Both knew their game but there was nothing fancy going on here. It was the guy in seat 6 who got my attention. Almost right away he stacks the old guy with set over set after Buddha had led out pre and on the flop. He doubles up and doesn’t bat an eye. He just stares ahead, no emotion whatsoever... ever.

I have to describe the physical characteristics of this guy. Old clothes, not dirty but gray, much like his weathered skin would be if he didn’t have a deep tan. His hair was greasy, his fingernails long, some 1/2” (1 cm) or so. The nails may have been dirty, I couldn’t really tell, yet they were dark. This guy was a loner. I should have been paying closer attention to his play.

Again, AA in the BB. A heart and a spade. I have 4 limpers so I raise it to $15. The quiet one is my only caller. The flop is 7d6h5h. I bet the pot and he calls. Set? Possibly. Either that or he limped with KK. The turn is 9h. I now have a flush draw and bet 1/2 the pot, which he calls. Pocket 8s? A 5d on the river, I throw in my last $25, he calls and shows Qd8c. I leave to the looks of pity from a couple other players.

My initial reaction, and indeed a normal reaction, was “Call with that crap?” The answer, I’m afraid is, “Of course. Why not? I know what you have while you have no clue as to my hand.” I am reminded of the guy from a couple weeks ago who called my big AA raise with what he believed to be Q 10 (actually 8 10). If either hits, I’m dead money. It is a style of poker that is hard to defend against. It is a style that makes sense (as Harrington points out in his new books) in a deep stack situation. Q8 was deep; I was not. He was getting about 11 to 1 implied odds. Q 10 was short and I had 3 x his stack. Was his call justified? Was either call EV+? (OB, work your magic.)

Yeah, I left. I was tired, stunned and pissed. It’s a shame the day had to end the way it did. As I drove down through the mountains toward home, my phone alerted me that I had a message. It was my son wishing me a Happy Father’s Day. He said appreciative and loving things that neither of us, being guys, might say in person without a couple beers under the belt. The day ended quite nicely.

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