Monday, July 14, 2008

Labor Day Pays – with a lot more work to do

Posted: Wed Sep 05, 2007 1:56 pm
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Hello dear friends.

This past weekend was a three-day holiday for most working folks here in the States. My dear wife and I didn’t want to feel left out, so we decided that after a full day in the fields Saturday, we would take it easy and pursue activities other than farming on Sunday. As far as I was concerned, I was going to play poker. The only thing to figure out was whether to drive out to the casino or play on at FTP.

It wasn’t an easy decision. As some readers may recall, my live bankroll has taken some nasty hits recently, including one trip about which I didn’t even bother to post as it was just another cracked AA & KK tale of woe. I had about $600 left, a bit too short for serious 1/2 tables. On the other hand, my FTP roll is at about $200, which would allow me plenty of room to play $5 tourneys and some micro ring. In the end, I chose the former with the main rationale being that this was surely a big weekend at the casino, summer’s last hurrah, as it were, and there was a strong likelihood of some easier money being at the tables.

I arrived a bit later than I had wanted to and the poker room was jam-packed. All seventeen tables were full and the waiting lists were longer than I had ever seen them. When I signed up I was number 15 on the list for 1/2 NL, so I also signed up for 3/6 Limit, number 7 on that list. Nevertheless, the wait for the 3/6 was only about 5 minutes, so I sat down with $160 and some time to kill while waiting for 1/2.

I recognize a couple of the regular Limit players at the table. There is a husband/wife pair who is there every time I go to the casino, so I assume they are there a lot. Neither have much of a stack. There is also a young guy whom I recognize only because of his ball cap. He doesn’t have many chips either. The biggest stacks are in front of two older gentlemen, one who is really ancient and seems to be on the brink and needs to be prompted by the dealer when it is his turn to act. As the game wears on, he is making spectacular lucky hits. The other big stack looks to be relatively new to retirement, and despite his number of chips, seems to think he is beat in each hand he is involved. There were others at the table, one I can’t remember, and finally another married couple who played fairly straightforward, called a lot and went through a comparatively large some of money for a 3/6 game. I took some of it in unremarkable hands.

One hand stands out. I was in the BB and the wife from the “regulars”, sitting two to my left, limps in. Several other limpers bring it to me. I have K8 off and check. The flop comes 282 and I check. The woman bets $3.

OK, I should back up here a bit. I have an impression of this woman. Her posture is very rigid, contrasted to her husband who seems very laid back. She likes to talk between hands but becomes very quiet when she’s in a hand. Her glasses are not reading glasses, but they’re perched on her nose in a manner that they might as well be. She’s bookish. I just know she’s a liberal (as I am) and I can also tell she’s takes her game very seriously.

There’s one more caller before it gets back to me and I raise it another $3. She re-raises, the other player folds and I call. She’s either got an 8 as well, a higher pair, nines perhaps, or A2 suited; and if she has pocket 2’s, well, she wouldn’t have re-raised. The turn is another 8. I check, she bets and I call. The river is a Q, I bet, she raises, I re-raise. She calls and says, I have the boat. I reply, Sorry sister, I have an 8, at which point she lights into me about making the donkey play on the flop. How could I call her first re-raise? My reply was that my initial raise was to see where I was at. At this point the husband chimes in: That’s OK, more action is good. Finally she pulls out the poker cliché: “Well, I hope you keep playing like that.” I will, thank you. Maybe she isn’t as bookish as I first thought, for even a cursory reading on limit reveals that I had played my hand correctly, except perhaps, I could have gotten even more money out of her, but I doubt it.

Soon after that, a seat opened at a 1/2 table and I left up $40. Second hand in I had AA against pocket 10’s. He folded after the flop. A couple hands later I had AK in the big blind, bet $16 and got three callers, including the small blind. An A came on the flop with two clubs. I had the Ace of clubs. I bet the pot and everyone folded except the small blind. Another club on the turn. She checks as do I. River is a blank and she bets $30. I pay her off. She shows 35 clubs. I mutter, I thought I just left a Limit table. She says, in broken English, “I have flush.” I’m down over $100 and re-buy to $200 again. I say to myself, Keep playing like that, sister. Well, she kept playing like that, chasing but not hitting, only I didn’t get a piece of the $200 she lost before leaving.

The table was a good mix of regulars who had stacks, and tourists. I settled in for a grind and made my way up about $100, where I remained for the greater portion of the day and evening. I had plenty of time to get a read on the players, and it was the regulars to whom I paid the most attention, for I had never played them before. They were 2/5 players playing 1/2. One guy was a rock behind sunglasses. If he was in the hand, it was for a good reason. I saw him make some tough lay downs, and rarely did he win a sizable pot. I was in a hand once with him. I was again in the BB with AQ suited. He had limped mid-early. I raised and he called. A queen came on the flop and I bet it and he raised 1.5 times the pot. I said, Okay brother and folded. Kings? I asked. He just nodded.

He and another player had been at the table longer than I had. The other player was also a regular, or so I assumed as quite a few people came up to say hi to him. While seemingly ready to fall asleep at any given moment, this guy played 70% of his hands. Over the course of the day I came to call him Mr. Two Pair. If he could limp in, he would; if someone bet before or after him, he called; if he was first to act post-flop, he’d bet $10; and if he stayed in post-flop, he would call almost every hand down. He often showed top pair, lousy kicker or two pair. When I first sat down, he had about $600 in front of him; yet when a passerby commented on his stack, he remarked that he was just about even. I personally received a fair mount of his stack later in the evening with a set of Queens and felted him and another short stack when a late limp with 34d gave me 2 pair. More on Mr. Two Pair a little later.

I had been playing a few speculative hands, partly because of Mr. Two Pair to my left but mostly because the table was otherwise fairly tight. Short-stacks came and went throughout the day, and players racked up 3 x their buy-ins and called it a day. I wasn’t in a hurry, the table didn’t have any real danger that I could see, and I pretty much told myself to stay out of big hands unless I had the absolute nuts. By 12:30 Monday morning I had about $400, ahead $140, when suddenly a few new players completely changed the table.

Joe buys in. Joe is a Very-regular. Everyone seems to know him, or acts like they know him well. He likes to talk. He sees himself as table captain, often interrupting the dealer as pots are being figured out. The dealers are familiar with this tendency and tell him to butt out. Other than that, he seems like a nice enough guy. Joe likes to go all in on the turn. .Joe triples up in short order. He’s two to my right, so I’m in pretty good shape. I tell myself, nothing crazy with him.

There’s a new player to my immediate right who is bending Joe’s ear about a woman he’s there with and the bad beats they’ve been trading all weekend. He’s going on and on and on… Joe gets up “to move his car” and the guy turns to me. He smells like a distillery. He’s losing money right and left (see 34d above) while complaining about the woman. Each time he loses, he says something to the effect, “Man, it sure is costing me a lot of money to get a read on this table.” Pretty soon, the woman who he is with comes to the table and they start a betting war. Between them they leave about $1200 on the table. I’ve collected about $200 of it.

Yet, this is just one drama that is happening at the table. There have been some bad beats: a huge pot when A9d vs QQ, flops 9 9 10 4 Q, and some monster hands like 10s pushed and unimproved vs As. The table is loose and angry with grudges to be settled. And I’m just a teeny bit sorry to say that I am responsible for a portion of it.

I’m in the BB with J9d and get to see a flop, which is 9h 10d 8d. I check and raise. There are two callers, the drunk and a guy with expensive wire rims and a cowboy hat. He’s a player. Probably works at Intel or someplace like that: all hat, no cattle. His black t shirt under a white dress shirt annoys me for some reason. The turn is a blank, I bet 1/4 of the pot and the cowboy comes over the top for $80. The drunk folds and I go into the tank. Actually, all I do is count up what’s in the pot, and that takes me a bit of time. I have $55 to call and there’s about $100 in the pot so far, not counting my $25. I call. The guy is incredulous and says before the river, “I’m checking because you must be sitting on some kind of monster. “

Now, it’s the way he said that that makes all of the difference. He was angry I had called. He wasn’t toying with me, to be sure. Here was another person who took their game seriously and was pretty darn sure of himself. The River was a J, which was an OK card, yet I checked and showed my 2 pair. I have no idea what he had because he mucked and exclaimed “How could you call that bet!?” I said that I was getting at least 2/1 on my money, to which he informed me I was a 4 to 1 dog until the river. Well, dear friends, a pair, an open-ended and a flush draw? How many outs can you count? The fact that I won with a measly two pair tells me the boy had a high pocket pair, and not Jacks. However, this hand would come back to haunt me.

By now I was sitting pretty with about $750 in front of me. This time I’m in the SB and I hold Kings. Three limpers and I raise it up to $16. Joe is my only caller in the cut-off. The flop comes 10 4 2 rainbow and I bet the pot . Joe comes over the top with $100 more. I call, hoping to see a King on the turn. Blank. I check and Joe goes all in. Of course I can’t call. He’s representing a set and with my previous call, he knows I have a big pocket pair. He’s says he had a set, but none of the other regulars have believed him in previous hands when he has made this move. I too am left t wonder, and this is why:

Joe was at the table when I played that hand against the cowboy. He saw me check on the river. Yes, I was unsure as to just how good my hand was, but I let the cowboy and everyone else at the table, see my hand. A bit too tight-weak. I began to get the feeling that Joe had exploited this and merely out-played me. Could I have played this hand differently? What if I had just limped with the Kings? I might have been able to save some money. Or who knows, I may have been able to outplay a bluff….if it was a bluff.

I stuck around for a little while longer as the drunk was still at the table, but most folks at the table now had monster stacks and the room was emptying fast. From here on out it would be a game of diminishing returns for this relative newbie. I racked up, which actually made the table break up and consolidate with another. I went out to the car to catch a little shut-eye.

Like I could sleep! After some lengthy tossing and turning and rivering, I went back to the poker room. Only Joe, the kid with the Queens and Mr. Two Pair remained from the old table. Mr. Two Pair now had a comparatively huge stack in front of him. I bought back into the game. Mr. TP was still playing his game. I saw amazing rivers hit for him. Yet, soon, even he appeared to have had enough and started to rack up about $700, still playing while doing so. He couldn’t help himself, and in the next six or seven hands, he lost $150. I am certain he left way down for the day.

An hour after sitting down, I’d made another $100 but then my eyes started shutting, so I cashed out. I had about 2.5 times my buy-in and had caught a little ray of hope for the future. But I also know that I’m far from out of the woods. My bankroll is still fragile, and there are players out there who have 10 and 20 times more playing experience and bankroll than I do. The upside of this is that I learned a bit from them this day. It is not just winning, it is how one wins. The nuances are key, and not surprisingly the most difficult aspect of the game.

Well, summer is unofficially now over. The tourists have gone home and I am left to imagine what the casino will be like in the off season. Local sharks circling for any little scraps they can pick up, perhaps taking pieces of each others’ tail in the process. It’ll come down to what kind of shark one is: Nurse, Sand or Great White. I think I may hang out at FTP instead.

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