Monday, July 14, 2008

A Day at the Aces

Posted: Sun May 25, 2008 12:55 am
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I just arrived home from the local casino. I haven’t played there since Labor Day weekend, primarily because I didn’t want to sit in a $2/$5 game with all of the local sharks feeding off of each other’s tails to sustain them through the slow days of winter. The way I look at it, my skill level and roll is only good enough for the tourist trade, so Memorial Day weekend more or less represents opening day for me at $1/$2.

Anticipating a large crowd, I wanted to get to the casino at about 11 a.m. I was surprised that the parking lot was only about half full and the poker room had 6 tables running, one of which was $1/$2. I took a pager, said hello to the floor assistant and a dealer who remembered me, and sat down at some 5 cent video poker to wait. It wasn’t long before I was called, as they opened up a new table.

I don’t recall who was at the table from the get-go. A lot of people initially came and went while waiting for a big tournament ($500 buy-in) to begin. (A guy from my pub league was at the final table when I left. 100 players in that event.) Eventually the table settled into the same people for the greater part of the day.

I was in seat #10. I hate that seat, and #1 as well. I like to see the whole table. I almost moved, but then decided against it, thinking that perhaps a benefit of the seat is being somewhat hidden from a few players. Seat #1 kept changing throughout the session. In seat #2 was this older guy, short-stacked, who nevertheless liked to see a lot of flops. In seat #3 was an older Asian gentleman whom I remembered from last year. He also liked to see a lot of flops, raised frequently, and had a fluctuating stack. In #4 was a hulk of a guy with big-knuckled hands. He also liked to see flops and called raises to do so. From his chat with dealers and other players, I determined he was a regular. In #5 was another regular, a younger guy with sunglasses. He gave the appearance of being a serious, solid player. #6 and #7 was a boyfriend/girlfriend duo who spent a lot of time telling secrets (what they had been holding in the previous hand). Seat #8 was an older gent, a regular whom I remembered. He also liked to see a lot of flops. Seat #9 was a younger guy, pretty quiet, and serious.

The table overall was one of those 6-limpers-to-see-the-flop. If someone happened to raise 3 x BB, most of those who had limped behind, and those yet to come, would call. The first hand I played was a limp with A8 off in the SB, with just the BTN, SB and BB in the hand. The flop: A78. I checked, as did the BB. The BTN, put in a ten dollar bet, which I called. Turn was an 8. I checked again, and the BTN did as well. River was…who knows? a bunny rabbit, and I bet $15. The BTN raised to $45. I didn’t have a solid read on this guy yet, so I just called. In retrospect, I could have gone all in, as he showed 8 7. What kept me from re-raising were the A, the 10 and the movie, “The Rounders.” Had he been looking for action and held a pair of either in the hole, I was dead.

Much of the next several hours were played in the same vein. I folded a boat, a straight and a nut flush by playing just a tad too tight. I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea to get up and take a walk and think about how I was playing. What is a good mix? Yet, perhaps more importantly, were these early folds putting a little tilt into my game? I didn’t want to start chasing.

Not too long after I sat back down hand I found myself with AA. I took down a small pot from the boyfriend and flashed. Then, for the longest time thereafter, I was card dead. I must have had 26 off five times, and Q3 off an equal amount. If I was granted a limp with suited connectors, it was for naught. I blinded and limped off everything I had won to that point. And then I woke up with Qs in the SB. Boyfriend raised to $6, which girlfriend called. I raised to $30. SB, who had just sat down, re-raised to $60. SB was a young guy with sunglasses and short, moused hair. I had no read, and after the lovers folded, I called. My thinking at the time was to see the flop, and if the Qs went nowhere, fold. Well, the flop gave me a spade flush draw. I bet $45 and the SB went all in. I called while saying “You got me.” He had a K of spades and another K. $200, poof.

Even though I think to myself that maybe I should call it a day, I buy in again for $200. I play this hand over in my head. How would it had gone if I had re-raised all-in preflop? Would he have called? Should I have re-raised all-in, or should I have followed my original plan? My stack starts to blind, limp off again so I get up from the table and went for a walk. When I came back, it wasn’t too much longer than I picked up AA again. Lover boy bets $11 and I raise to $22. He says. “All-in.” I call. He has Kings and the Aces hold up. I am now almost even and lean back to talk to the #1 seat when he says, “Nice hand.”

“I feel a lot better now.” I say. He then informs me that he had been worried that I had been holding Aces in our hand, but knew I didn’t have it when I paused. Crap. Presence of mind, Patrick, presence of mind…

I’m about $30 short of even. I can live with that. I’ve been at the table for about 6 hours now and even though I’ve loosened up my game, it’s been primarily big pairs that have won pots. My10s. 8s, 9s, 5s and 4s, my 89s, etc, have gone nowhere. (I did limp with 23s on the BTN and take down a smallish pot from girlfriend when the flop came 23J and she bet out.) Then I get AA again. Boyfriend bets out $6 and older gent in #8 calls $6. I re-raise to $20. Boyfriend folds and #8 calls. He has about $80 in front of him. Flop comes AKJ. Nice. But worrisome. #8 checks, so I bet $30. He calls. Turn is a 2d, he checks and I bet another $30. He calls, I am worried, yet because he has such a small stack, if he has Q 10, I’m not that worried. The river s a 10 and he puts in his remaining $17 or so, to which I ask, “You went all the way for that?” and call. He looks at his cards and flips over a 9 and a 10, and says, “I thought I had Q 10. I knew what you had. Damn.” I consider myself lucky.

OK, three pocket Aces at this point and folks are starting to get spooked. They start asking me what I do when I go on breaks. I watch women wave their hand over the displays at the slots, hoping that Divine mojo will deliver them.

After I flush the older guy in #8, he leaves, as do the couple. The table changes. Limit players start sitting down with their stacks of $1 chips. I don’t particularly like this change in the table, thinking “calling stations.” Then I find KK in the hole. It holds up nicely against one of these players holding Jacks and she is stacked. After a few more hands in which I take small pots or fold my suited connectors on the flop, it is now 9:30 p.m. and time to call it a day up $191.

On my way home I find it curious that all of my big hands were big pocket pairs. Fancy play garnered me little. I often start composing these missives as I drive. What lessons have I learned that I can share with my dear friends? What shall I title the piece? Do I like to write about poker almost as much as I like to play? I saw some amazing shit at the table tonight, much of what I could use to write an equally lengthy entry. Yet, I think this will do for now.

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