Sunday, August 06, 2006

Cracking the casino

Saturday at Black Hawk, CO went well again. I played for four hours and made about $50.
The world of Colorado poker is a wild one and probably not much different than what you're used to regarding casino poker and the craziness of it. The only game in town is $2/$5, and almost all of it is Hold 'Em. This was only my second time playing, but I think I've watched enough to make some observations about limit poker in casinos, at least in our state.
I played in the Ameristar Casino this time, and I loved it. The room is now smoke free, which is wonderful, and the tables are nice and clean. I had to wait about 15 minutes for a table at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Most of the bigger casinos have latched on to the poker craze and now offer 10 tables spreading Hold 'Em.
I tend to play an extremely tight game, especially compared to most of the other players, which means, in my mind, I'm playing correctly. In fact, by the end of the night, many of the regulars were making fun of me, saying "You can't wait for AA all night."
I play this way because:
• Generally at least five are in a hand, so you'd better be starting with something you can work with. Here's a hint: Q,8 is not something you can work with, unless it's soooooted, and even then, you're playing a hand and calling bets hoping for that less than 5 percent chance you'll wind up with a flush.
• You'll start to get respect from the other players at the table, meaning your bets will do what they are supposed to, remove players from the field. This is extremely important, as a $5 maximum bet won't get rid of anyone unless they believe you are betting the nuts or close to it, and if you don't thin the field, someone will outdraw you unless you are indeed holding the nuts and are impervious to drawing hands.
• Even if it is $2/$5 poker, you'll spend about $20 a hand that you take to the river if play it correctly, meaning you've got to pick your battles or else wind up like 80 percent of the players out there, $100/$200 down in an hour.
• You'll still get action. Yes, you might play one hand an hour, and yet people will still call you down with third pair. Why? I believe most people play limit poker in Casinos for entertainment, not to win money or improve their game, and it's more fun to play a lot of hands than fold, fold, fold like I did. That's why they play K,8 offsuit.
I love those players. Most of the time.
Here are some other observations:
• AA in limit poker is like the Vegas hooker with the big cans and a bit of what AC/DC affectionally calls "The Jack." It's alluring, sensual and soooo appealing, until you play with it and get stuck with a sour feeling down there and some of your money gone.
I saw AA hold up three times all around the table in my four hours, and one of those times, I was holding them. I bet the maxium pre-flop and it got folded around to me. Unless you flop a set, "made" hands don't seem to be as valuable as drawing hands in limit poker. I would have finished about $100 up had my AA not lost to 9,7 soooted when she spiked her flush on the river.
She did apologize.
Leading me to...
• Suckouts happen all the time in limit. There's too many other damn hands out there, and even a $5 raise pre-flop may not narrow the field that much. The best thing to do is bet your hands hard off the flop if you have something and hope it holds up. I suffered two of them, the other when a guy's 9,9 caught his Q on the river for a straight, crushing my two pair.
The amazing thing is, it's CORRECT for these people to call, even with merely a draw. In limit, most of the time they're getting at least 10-1 on their money after the flop. When that woman called my raise with 9,7 sooted and my A,A, she was getting at least 3:1 on her money pre-flop and far beyond that post-flop.
Knowing this, I wasn't steaming at all when my A,A lost to her hand, and as a result I promptly won a big hand with Q,J. The Poker Gods reward clear thinking.
After all...
• You'll get lucky, too. It evened out. I had 6,5 (soooted connectors, a valuable hand in limit) and flopped two pair. I raised but the guy called for his gutshot and hit it on the turn. I knew he hit it but called his bet and got another 5 on the river. I also flopped two sets with my small pairs and both times when I had A,K a K-high flop hit.
• Get out when you don't hit. Hello, people, A,K is a drawing hand, meaning you shouldn't call $20 worth of bets if it doesn't hit.
• After watching so many lose at least $100, you'll never convince me that tight isn't right in limit.

P.S. Come on out here, we'll play sometime, and then we'll go hiking the next day!


Jason said...

I may take you up on the offer to play cards and climb. The last time i was out on Colorado I climbed pikes peak. I was out for a friends wedding and had two days to kill. I was and still am way out of shape but it was one of the greatest expierences of my life. I went up solo. only the last couple of miles above the treeline was hard. I think my breathing and heartrate are still recovering. I made a leantoo just below the a frame at the treeline and slept out and made the final haul the next morning. love your blog and will keep reading. If i ever get back out there I will def take you up on your offer.

Jared Fiel said...

$50 in four hours?
$12.50 an hour... Guess it's better than minimum wage.

Raveen said...

lol i didnt even know 2/5 holdem existed....those are the type of tables u want to avoid though which sucks considering there the only games u have going on cause loose aggressive games are terrible to play in. You either end up walking up big or down huge..