Sunday, April 08, 2007

My last hurrah

By the time it was 10:45 p.m. Saturday, I was praying for 10,3. Honest. After a run of cards in the last half hour that were so nice I gladly would have committed my stack, any size stack, to them, I was worn out.
For this was 2/5 limit poker, the only game in town in Colorado, not No Limit. I play 97 percent No Limit online, and while it can be a tougher game, it would have been easier in that half-hour. I could have pushed people off their hands, rather than pitching in $5 or raising another $5 and hoping for the best. It was, in fact, more stressful than No Limit, given that I didn't feel like I had control of the hand regardless of what I did. Luck was my companion, not aggression, good reads or solid play, and no solid poker player is completely comfortable dancing with luck, even if it happens to be on his or her side.
I peer down at my cards and sigh at my pair of Hiltons. Great. I really needed a break. Instead I would have to deal with my best starting hand other than the pairs of Aces I played earlier. When a total donkey raised the blind to $5, I merely called rather than re-raise. I"ll be honest. I was staring at my stack and, after spending five hours hovering around a $60 loss, was fine leaving with a small profit.
But I was still a poker player, and if I can't play QQ in limit poker, even in early position, then I should just quit and take up online Monopoly.
I had played for nine hours, and I knew that this would be my last time to play live poker until at least this fall because of the twin girls. So I really didn't to leave. I also knew my heart wasn't in it anymore.
"I call," I said.
"Make it 10," an agressive, wild, unpredictable player says immeaditely after I throw my chips in."
Oh, shit.
• • •
"Would it be OK if I played poker all day at Black Hawk, sort of as a last hurrah?"
"Yes, as long as this is the last thing you do before they're born."
"It will be."
"OK, then. Have fun."
Music to my ears. I rounded up some recent Heavy Metal mixes, a couple magazines in case of a long wait, a water bottle, $300 cash and an anxiousness about getting to play live. I love playing live, but the opportunities don't come as often as I'd like. The casinos are a tricky, two-hour drive from Greeley, up mountain roads, and Saturday thick fog and some snow would only add to the journey.
Still, after teaching my Boot Camp for New Dads class, I left Greeley at noon. I would be by myself after my buddy came down with a miserable cough. But that was fine, too. I went to the Ameristar. See Chipper's blog for a cool picture and his trip report from Friday. It's a swanky new place, with a smoke-free casino, friendly staff and a couple good places to grab some grub. It's also got notoriously bad players, like the MGM $3/6 limit game in Vegas. As Chipper will tell you, no pair is safe, and that includes a pair of Aces or Kings in your hand.
As I told Chipper, the stragety is to play great starting hands or any pair, as well as sooted connecting cards and occasionally non-connecting, play them aggressively when the flop hits you, and then just hope for the best.
It's not really great poker, but it is live poker, so therefore I enjoy it. I love it, in fact. I planned to take full advantage of my last opportunity to play it for a while.
Unfortunately, for the first five hours, the cards weren't cooperating.
I do not screw around in Black Hawk. You can't bluff. You can't "push" people off hands. You can't really even bet them off. You might be able to semi-bluff in the hopes of throwing them off if you do hit your draw. But the best way to weave your way through the suckout minefield is just to play solid and hit your Bingo.
In fact, for the first few hours, many at my table played the same way. People were folding. Bluffs still didn't work, but at least they were folding if they had only a gutshot, and the pots remained fairly small. That was fine with me. I wasn't getting shit.
I got AA once, and it held up, but then my TPTK lost to runner, runner straight. That's typical. No biggie. I hit a Broadway straight with A,K (the only time it hit in the 7 times I had it) on the river when I stayed with it too far (I had a flush and straight draw with two overcards but I have to admit I had a hard time letting a good starting hand go because they were so far and few between),
By the time I went to get a little dinner and bring it back to the table, I was still hovering around a $60 loss. I chose a healthy dinner. Tomato Basil Soup. An orange. Chips. Half a cookie. And a free Mountain Dew. Reasonably healthy, anyway. It was delicious and only $7. Not bad, really.
My cold streak continued until I finished the soup.
And then all hell broke lose.
I called 3,3 to a raise from my favorite player at the table. I now call any pocket pairs to raises, and the set mining has been good for my bankroll. After missing sets nine other times that day, I finally hit a 3 on a J,3,K flop. I wasn't messing around. There were six other players in the hand. I bet and got a raise. I re-raised and everyone else folded. The initial player, a beautiful, older Asian woman who was prone to tilting, was cautious after that. She was also observant and knew I was tight. I bet the other two rounds, she called, and when I flipped my set over she tapped the felt and mucked.
I got 5,5 the next hand (presto!) and it hit and later turned into a full house. When the board double paired on 6s and 3s to go with my 5, she had the lower, a 3, but I had 5s full of 3s and had another huge pot shipped my way. In two hands I was now up $50 after being down $60.
I won a few more pots after that and then looked down at beautiful AA for the third time that night. The second time I raised and no one called. This time I raised again and got two callers, one from a guy who had to be told, every.single.time. from the dealer his options. You can check, call or raise. How much is it? he asked. Every.Single.Time. He had no idea what was going on.
You probably know what's coming next. An A hit the flop, bells go off in my head, and then... I'll spare you the details other than to say after raising the shit out of the stoopid donkey who asked about bets (sounds like a children's book), he hit runner, runner gutshot straight with Q,4 soooted.
In the very next hand, I hit a set of 9s and raised on the flop. A 10 hit the turn, and the player, an aggressive, unusual, tricky player, a young guy who probably watched too much poker on ESPN, re-raised me. Uh-oh. I merely checked and called after that, and sure enough, he hit his set of 10s.
I'm now down $60 and tilting like a MoFo.
On the VERY NEXT HAND I get JJ. There's a raise from the Asian woman again. I call and a J hits the flop. WTF?
When she raises my bet I re-raise, and pretty soon there's a huge pot in the middle. She shows me AA after the betting is done and I win most of my money back from the last hand. I'm now even and completely worn out mentally.
Then I get the third-best starting hand two hands later.
• • •
Well, I'm not folding QQ, not in limit and not to a raise from a semi-donkey. I call and see what happens.
It's a J-high flop. Check, check, and I bet. He calls and the stooopid donkey calls. I'm curious so I check on the turn. Only the stoopid donkey bets after asking the dealer how much he can bet. We both call.
The river seems harmless. I honestly don't even really remember the hand. There were no overcards. So I bet $5. Mr. ESPN raises me.
Crap. What does he have? Was he slowplaying KK? He might have. But I'm not folding now. It's too big a pot and I like my hand.
I call.
He flips over 7,7.
And after pitching A,10 UTG - I just don't have the energy to play that in early position - I decide to go.
I finish $60 ahead.
I'll take it.
I walk out of the casino at 10:45 p.m., far earlier than I planned to, but it's snowing outside, I'm exhausted mentally, and I'm satisfied.
And it seems only fitting to me that, given the twins that are basically due at any time after a couple of weeks, I would leave, and leave up, thanks to a pair of ladies.

P.S. Speaking of the ladies, I have cancelled the money baby contest due to a lack of interest. It's now free. Email me your guess at and I'll buy in the winner in a tournament of your choice, $11 max. Fuel has guessed. Why not you? Leave a comment as well.


Chipper said...

Holy crap dude. At least you got pocket pairs. I think I only had pairs 3 times during my whole session. Once pocket Aces that survived 4 callers and the others were low pairs that missed the flop.

I concur that you just can't bluff anyone. Anyone with 2 suited is going to chase their flush to the river. Also they will stay with any hit pair too.

I had 4 times the bad suckouts you did - so grats on surviving. I will definitely head back there again soon but dayum - someone needs to teach those people how to fold.

TripJax said...

Just sent you my email...