Friday, December 4, 2009

Family entertainment

A supposed newbie raises it up big in PLO on Stars. I have one of those hands that can take down big hands, middling straight with nut flush draw. I hit two pair, Aces and eights on the flop, with my flush draw and get it all in. He and another player are also all in. He holds 3 jacks and catches the case. “Sorry,” he writes about three times. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

In the middle of the hand, another player tells me he enjoys my blog. A good reason to call it quits for the night to tell you about the live session I played at Harrah’s outside of St. Louis. After all, I walked away with a nice profit.

It didn’t start out that way. I was sat at a $200 NLHE table where it was a either a multi-way limp fest, or three callers for a 10 x BB opening bet. A bit schizo. My pair of tens, Jacks, AQs, AKoff didn’t stand a chance if there was no improvement on the flop. Working with only an ATM card, I bought in for $140 and was down $100 in an hour and a half. And to make matters worse, my hands were shaking and my heart was racing, and we know what that means. I walked away to see how DM was doing on the slots (not any better than I).

I was gone for about an hour. When I returned, there was quite a long list, and after a bit of a wait, they opened up a new table. I like new tables. Fresh start for everyone. No monster stacks. No shake. TQs flopped two pair, Q8s rivered a boat, a set of sixes held up on a straightening board, 7s over 4s killed 4s over 7s, and a host of other hands saw me up over $300 by bedtime. I never had Aces, Kings or Queens. The designated table captains were victims of a very quiet junta.

But I couldn’t sleep. I tried, believe me. I prayed, to no avail. The double of Red Label I threw down before going upstairs had no effect whatsoever. I almost fell asleep several times, but something — no, several things — always thwarted a full slumber. I relate the reasons with some trepidation.

As readers know, DM loves the penny slots. And in that her birthday was in November, as the mailer she had received told her, she was eligible to participate in a slot tourney for November babies now of legal age. Plus, she knew that I would most likely be staying at Harrah’s in Las Vegas next March, so she saw this as a chance for me to perhaps get comped a room for a few nights when that time came.

DM knows about comps. Even though she only plays penny slots, and never spends more than $20 of her own money on any given trip, she receives free rooms two nights a month, and all of her meals (and on this trip, mine) are free through her rewards points. If she loses her $20, she reads the newspaper, does the crossword, watches TV and waits for the free bus that brought her to take her back home the next day.

She does not go alone. Her slightly younger brother, my uncle, goes with her. Now, I could write a novella with my uncle as the sole inspiration. My DM may be the comp queen; Uncle is, among other things, an old angle shooter. He knows the house odds on every game, is able to somehow make money off of losing tickets at the horse track, is convinced that the poker dealers take more rake than they should, and hasn’t slept in a bed for years. The fourth item may not seem to be related to the first two, or even the third, but it is.

My uncle goes to the casinos a lot more often than DM. He also spends only $20 a visit, either playing craps (the least % for the house) or plays the slots… a quarter at a time, for comp points are evidently accumulated for time spent at a machine, as well as for money inserted. He isn’t in any hurry. Now, whether he uses his points for both food and rooms, I am not certain. Maybe for food, but since he sleeps sitting in a chair, I believe his car suits him fine in all but the coldest weather. I don’t dare ask, nor does DM. However, when DM goes for an overnight, they share a room on DM’s comps.

The subject of sleeping arrangements arose before DM and I went to the casino. If Uncle was meeting us there, and they typically share a room, I would be happy to get a room for myself. I was told to not be silly. Uncle would use his comps for a room, and I could have one of the queen-sized beds in her room. But, I protested, I may be playing poker until very late and I would not want to disturb her sleep. She assured me that I wouldn’t, and I relented.

Uncle didn’t get the memo. There he slept, propped by pillows, hands somehow hovering over his chest, head back in a somewhat open-mouthed cadaverous position, on his way to becoming an apparition. DM was lightly snoring underneath sheets and blankets to her neck, and the room was at least 85°F. Even in my skivvies I was sweating.

Oh, but it gets worse. Someone in the room directly above ours either had the flu or way too much to drink, for they flushed the toilet every five minutes for the two hours I laid in that bed. Despite the fact that I had to drive back to Chicago the next day, I knew I would not be able to sleep for many hours to come, so I dressed, and at 0230 headed back to the poker room.

The poker room is a good-sized room. I would guess there are twenty tables. Three were still going. One was a 3/6 structured game and another a 1/2 PLO game. As much as the latter was a temptation, I had sweated it earlier and $50 preflop pots were a bit too steep. Instead, I sat at the $200 NLHE game for two hours, played four hands and made $5.

The casino closes at 0430. I wrote notes for the above games while I sat outside. I talked to a cabbie. I listened to the early birds singing. If I would have had the rental car keys with me, I would have pulled an Uncle.

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