I missed R’s last home game three weeks ago. Don’t remember why, but probably just spaced it. I thought I would miss this week’s game as well because DW and I had a date to see a live taping of Michael Feldman’s “Whad’ya know?” I had been operating under the assumption that we would be going to Portland for the show, a mistake quickly cleared up when I pulled onto the interstate highway to head north and DW asked “Where are you going?”
“The show is at the Elsinore… in Salem.”
What do I know? Not much.
So, Instead of an hour and a half drive, we had a half hour of travel time after the show, which got us home in plenty of time for me to get over to R’s for the cash game portion of the evening.
I called R to let him know I was coming, and he mentioned that it was a small crowd, yet there would be a cash game regardless. It ended up that the game was six-handed, which gave me a little trepidation. I hadn’t played much short-handed cash live. Tourneys, yes; cash, no. And since some of the regulars can be fairly aggressive preflop even at a full table, I thought this game might border on the insane.
I was fortunate (strategic) in my seat choice. Jerry, a wizened older player was to my right. The last time I played with Jerry he had just monied in the tourney and bought into the cash game for 200BB. This time he was more temperate with 100BB. To my left was what I determined to be my soft spot, a calling station who couldn’t read the board for shit, or rather, couldn’t see beyond his pocket pair. My trips were good, as was TPTK.
Even so, I was having a hard time getting traction, seeing the flop with position and odds to call, but whiffing the flop or turn. To my credit, I never went to the showdown with a loser. Still, I was bleeding a bit and, truth be told, I might have been playing a bit too loose, so I bought another $10 worth of chips to bring me back up to a comfortable 60BB and resolved to lay off of A9 off and the like.
However, and this was much later in the game, after folding, folding, folding. Jerry made a comment about me playing so tight, and I used that as my cue for a couple bluffs and semis that worked perfectly. 46 off and 86h also worked pretty well.
The game is always dealer’s choice, and apparently Jerry gets bored with Hold ‘em. He changes the game to Crazy Pineapple or Omaha Hi-Lo, both played as NL. He likes these games because the pots tend to get larger. He also likes to deal five cards in Omaha, which only serves to make the game crazier. And since, Jerry is to my immediate right, these change-ups occur when I am in the SB, and therefore at a positional disadvantage. Still, I have to say, thank you, Jerry.
I am dealt AsAcKd9s2s and everyone has limped. After the last session where my pocket Aces turned to a set went down in flames, I merely completed. The flop came JKK, eliminating any low. I checked, the BB, (softie) led out with a pot-sized bet, everyone folded, and I raised the pot. He called, and said, “I’m going to lose this hand. I don’t know how, but I just know I’m going to lose.” He has Jacks in the hole. I just know it. Hell, I’ve played enough Omaha to know this is a possibility, but this guy was telegraphing, just as he had every other hand he was in, talking about it as each card was turned over. I slowed down on the rag turn, yet, not wanting to show any weakness, bet 1/4 of the pot, which again he merely called. The river was a 9. Sweet. Now it was just a matter of figuring how much more I could get from him. His stack was awfully short at this point, and since he was already sufficiently demoralized, I knew that if I put him all-in, he’d fold. I bet half of what he had left. He called. Yep. Jacks in the hole.
I then took down a rather sizable pot from R with top two pair against his top pair and I was very close to having doubled up. (I know what some of you are thinking at this point: on the whole, this game is soft. I promise a more in-depth examination of this game and key players in the future.)
People started to yawn at a greater frequency. Jerry was the first to say that he was good for one more round, and everyone quickly agreed. I had the deal for the last hand. Pocket 10s. One player limps and I raise it up 6 x BB. The softie jams for his last $11 (11BB). The limper calls and eggs me on. Of course, I call. Like gentleman (for a change) we check it down. Softie had flopped the nut flush and went home happy to have lost $50. He said he’d be back. Wonderful.
Even though R has a list of about 100 poker players that he calls, texts or emails every week, his games are losing players. We had a short discussion about this after the game had wrapped up. R opined that perhaps we were too tough of a crowd. There are a few strong players in this game who consistently go home with more money than they came with; and it is true that I have seen players come for a few games, lose with equal consistency, and stop coming. Yet, I wonder if it is something else, like the economy, or people are moving on to other things to fill their Friday nights. I don’t know, exactly. I do know that as long as I’ve been going there is always at least one soft spot at the table, and as long as that trend persists, I’ll be back.