Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quick Update

Not much time to update the blog this week as the Poker Barrister is currently focusing on the barrister aspect of life, working on getting brief filed by January 3rd, thanks to opposing counsel who, apparently, timed their opening salvo to insure that the Barrister would be busy over the holidays drafting a response.

In any event, I did manage to stop by Harrah's AC both last Friday on the way home for Christmas, and then again Monday on my way back to DC.  Only played a total of three hours of poker, due in part to a lack of action.

Last Friday I played a quick 2 hour session, which was prematurely terminated in order to prevent me from committing the felony of aggravated assault.   In short, I was slow rolled twice by some mouth-breathing 60 year old local.  The first time, I limped with K T and villian called.  The flop was 8 T 2 with two hearts.  I bet $12 and he called.  Turn blanked and I checked.  He checked back.  River was a 2 of clubs, which did not appear to change anything.  Donk mouth-breather leads for $25.  I call.  Then I wait for him to show.  He stares at me.  Table is waiting.  Finally, I say "f*ck it," and show my hand.  This clown then stares at my hand . . . at the board . . . back to my hand . . . and finally tables 8 2 for the rivered two pair.    OK.  Maybe this guy is new to the game and doesn't realize he has to table first when he bets the river.

Twenty minutes later, we play a similar hand, and this jackass again refuses to show until I do and then slow rolls me again.  I'm starting to become pissed off.  But, again, I tell myself, "ok . . . maybe he just doesn't know the rules..."  Then, 10 minutes later, some young kid string bets and mouth-breathing assh*le jumps on him, yelling at the dealer, and calling the kid out on his string bet.  OK.  Now I'm livid because this mouth-breathing douchebag clearly knows what he's doing.  I mean, if you are gonna call smeone out on a string bet, you clearly know that when you are the last aggressor you are the one who shows your hand.   Maybe I should not have let the guy get to me;  but I did.  I figured it was better to just leave than to sit longer and tilt off my stack.  So I left with a meager $41 profit.

After I left the table at Harrah's, I went over to the Golden Nugget AC (the old Trump Marina).  It was the "grand opening" of the poker room.  It was far from "grand," unless of course you are impressed with one table running with three players.  Still, the room looks fairly nice, and the overall renovations are coming along.  The Nugget may end up being a respectable casino, much like its counterpart on Freemont Street.

Monday's trip to Harrah's was worse.  Finally got a chance to hit the poker tables around 9:00.  I get seated at a $1/2 table and recognize a couple of the players.  At first, I could not place them.  Turns out, two were dealers at Dover Downs and another guy was a dealer at Delaware Park.  Rounding out the table were two dudes waiting for a $2/5 game to get off and two older women peddling the nuts.  I opened to $10 with QQ . . . got the blinds, tipped the dealer, and made $2 . . .  A few minutes later I open with AJ and get the same result.   Lost a few hands where I bet air and was raised by one of the dealers.  Knowing this was not a very good table, I opted to leave after less than an hour. 

Well, assuming I can get this brief to the client by Friday, my plan is to hit Delaware Park this weekend and play three straight days.  Should be solid action (I believe this Sunday's noon $65 buy-in actually has a $7,500 guaranty).

Happy Holidays,


Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sunday $5000 Guaranty

Played the Sunday noon tournament at Delaware Park third week in a row.  Two weeks ago, I busted out with QQ against AK.  Last week, my pocket KK lost to villian's QQ when a queen hit the river.  This week, my luck was little changed.

The tournament drew 155 runners.  18 paid.  I met my fate shortly after the second break.  Blinds were $400 / $800 with $100 ante.  Average chip stack was $16,000 and I was sitting on $21,000.  I had been quiet for 15 minutes or so when I look down at KJ off in the hi-jack.  One early limper.  I raise to $2,200.  Button calls and blinds and limper fold.  Button has approximately $20,000 behind.

Flop comes 7d, 4c, Kd.

I lead for $4,100.  Button shoves for $17,000.  I call.

Button turns A Q diamonds and says, "nice call."  Always the kiss of death.

Turn blanks and the river is the 2 of diamonds.  Out at 61.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I think I'm Behind . . . "I Raise . . ."

I was playing at Harrah's AC last month with a friend of mine.  We'll call him "Buddy."   Buddy flopped a set of 9's on an A high board with two hearts.  He bet and was called in one spot.  The turn put up the 3rd heart.  Buddy lead out again and was raised by his villian.  Buddy tanked . . . and tanked . . . and finally re-raised.  Villian folded.  After the hand, Buddy commented, "I thought I was beat . . ."

Play continued, and a while later, I found myself staring at Big Slick (a/k/a AK) in position.  It checks around and I raise to $10.  We go three to the flop and the board runs K, Q,  7 with two hearts . . . A $12 bet . . . a call . . . I call.  The turn blanks and first to act again leads out, this time for $20.  Second to act min-raises.  The action is on me.  Is UTG leading with a flush draw and MP raising to protect his pair of K's?  Did MP limp call with KQ off?   Or pocket 77?   I really think I'm behind . . . I think I'm beat . . .

"I raise . . ."

I three-bet to $120.  Both players fold.  UTG mucks, MP shows KQ for the best hand, and I rake the pot.

I acknowledge MP's hand and offer, "yeah, I thought you had me."  This makes UTG semi irate.  UTG asks if Buddy and I play together often.  Although we're friends, we don't.  UTG declares, "you both play the same -- you think you're beat, but you raise anyway . . . what the hell ???"

His comment got me thinking.  It's true.  Often, when I think I may be behind, and when folding just seems to passive, my instinct is to raise.  Calling just seems like a horrible option.  My thought process is this: if I call and I am indeed behind, I'm going to be facing an even larger bet on the next street and its going to be even harder to get away from my hand given the sizable pot.  On the other hand, if I raise, I'll find out quickly if my instinct is correct and I am beat (e.g., villian 4-bets, or flats and leads out on the next street).  But also, by raising, I'm putting max pressure on my villian.  I may get him to make a mistake and fold even if my instincts are correct.  

Maybe my play is simple, basic, poker -- execution of the semi-bluff.  Perhaps aggression is the standard in these spots.  But is there an argument to be made for flatting?  Will raising cost more money than calling in the long run?   Is just simply folding best?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dealing With A Maniac

Quick post today concerning a situation that arose recently at the table.   I was about 5 hours into a session.  I had gotten stacked early for a $300 buy-in and rebought.  I was slowly grinding back toward even.  My stack stood at about $475, meaning I was down $125.   At this point, a young-ish, self-purported $2 / $5 player sits down directly to my right.  He has clearly put plenty of time in at the tables, as evident by his chip-handling and general demeanor.  He buys in for $200, but appears to be just messing around, perhaps until a $2 /$5 seat opens.  He is straddling every hand and making some strange plays.  I've been playing TAG since his arrival at the table, when I look down at TT.  Although I'm in position on him preflop, he takes it away with his Mississippi Straddle (we're playing at Deleware Park where players can straddle from any position).  I'm first to act and raise to $12.  It folds around to Maniac who shoves all in for $186.  I narrow his range down to . . . any two cards.  This kid is smiling at me; basically mocking the Triple P.  Again, having already been stacked and having worked hard over the last few hours to grind back up near even, I'm not in the mood to flip for the pot.  I fold.  Maniac declares, "I knew you'd fold; you've been playing real tight."

Twenty minutes later I snag AT off.  Someone else at the table gets the straddle in first, so I maintain my position on Maniac.  It limps around with a handful of callers (including Maniac) and I raise to $10.  4 callers including Maniac.  Flop comes out J high and misses my hand completely.  It checks around and I fire out $27.  Fold, fold, fold over to Maniac, who again shoves on my bet.  I really think my hand is good here.  But at the same time, I'm again not willing to "gamble" nearly $200.  I fold and Maniac thinks its hilarious (fyi . . . he did not show either hand).  Not in the mood for this sh*t, I get a table change and move on with the session.

So, the question is this:  how do you handle this situation?  Is it as simple as being patient and waiting for your spot?  Is there a better tactic?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Delaware Destroyer

Another horrible weekend at Delaware Park:


Saturday, I dropped a full buy-in in less than two hours.   Really only got involved in 5 hands:


Hand one takes place about 5 minutes into the session.  I limp from late position with JJ (its early, and I decide to play my jacks small).  Flop comes out T high, with 4 players.  Call $15 on the flop and pick up an open ended straight draw when an 8 hits the turn.  First to act bets $50 . . . one caller . . . Cut off shoves for $250 . . . folds around and cut off shows JQ for the str8t. 


Limp in with 97 off from the small blind and go five ways to the flop.  Flop comes 885.   I check call $12 on the flop hoping to catch a miracle 6 on the turn for a well-disguised straight and crazy implied odds.  Turn is . . . . 6 of spades - JACKPOT !!!!.  I lead out for $20 and get two callers.  River is . . . . another 6.  F*CK ME.  Board reads 88566.  I check.  Middle position bets out $45 and gets a call frm the hi-jack.  I fold.  Bettor shows A high . . . hijack has the 6.


I have 88 in middle position.  Raise to $10 and get three callers.  Flop comes T 4 7 rainbow.  UTG donk bets $15.  I repop to $45.  Last to act (an old regular) calls $45 and original bettor folds.  Turn is another 4.  I check to the old man who bets $50.  I give him credit for the T and fold. 

Down $100 at this point.


JJ (again) on the button . . . it limps around 6 ways and I raise to $17.  UTG +1 limp raises to $50.  Fold.


I look down at QQ in early position and raise to $12.  Three callers.  Flop is J high with two diamonds.  I bet $45 and get two callers.  Turn is an A.  Here's a spot where position kills.  Second to act is young and aggressive.  I know if I check, he will bet regardless of his hand.  I have about $116 behind.  I decide to shove.  Kid snap calls and last to act folds.   Kid shows AK and I'm stacked.  I really thought I was good on the turn.  Not sure what this kid was thinking callling $45 on the flop with two overs and no draw.  But, he hit is outs and that's what counts.

Hours Played:    2;    Hands Won: -0-;    Damage ($300)


This morning (Sunday), I attempted to shake it off, and signed up for the noon $5,000 guarantee.  Busted out during the second level, apparently unable to wash off my Delaware curse.

I had chipped up from 7,500 to 9,000+ when I looked down at KK in middle position.  I raise to $300 . . . folds to the button who three bets to $1,000.  I re-pop to $3,600.  Villian shoves and I snap call.  Villian shows QQ . . . and rivers the Q...  I'm crippled down to $1,600.  I shove 4 hands later with JJ and get called in two spots.  K falls on the turn and AK takes the pot and I hit the rail.  My earliest tournament exit of the year.

Long drive home back to DC this weekend . . .

Monday, December 5, 2011

Delaware Redux (Part 2)

Woke up Saturday and, after a quick drive by Dover Air Force Base, headed back to the Crown Royal Poker Room.  Played a quick three hour $1/2 NL session, and could not get anything going.  It was one of those days where every hand I folded would have hit monster, every hand I played whiffed, and the hands I actually hit did not get paid.  Started the session down $65 almost immediately when I called a $12 raise in position with 99.  Thought about re-popping, but opted to flat in position.  Flop came out J high and Villian (a young guy) fired $25.  I think an autofold here is just too soft, so I called.  We checked the blank on the turn and he fired $30 on the river.  I called and he showed a J for the pot.

Played very few hands over the next 3 hours . . . .  Folded KQ diamonds to a $20 pre flop raise.   Had I called, I would have flopped the str8t and turned the str8t flush (would have been my first ever at a live game).  Original raiser won the pot with a set of T's, so I likely would have gotten paid off.   Later, I turned 4's full K's after limping from the small blind with K4.  I won $6 on the hand.  Yep, that's the way it goes some times.

After a quick dinner and an hour of the "Devils Game" (a mix of 10-handed Joker Poker and Dueces Wild), returned to the poker room at 7:00 pm and sat at the softest table I've ever played out.  Pre-flop raising was nearly unheard of, and any piece of the board was apparently worth seeing the hand through the river.  Of course, I started out by digging a quick $55 hole three hands in.  After two limpers, I looked down at A9 in the hi-jack and raised to $10.  Got one caller -- a woman in her 60's who, as it turned out, may be the worst live NL player the world has ever seen.  The flop came out 9 high and I bet $15.  She called.  Turn was a 4.  Board still dry.  I bet $25.  She called.  River blanked and she checked a third time.  I checked back.  She tabled KK.  Okay, so that's how the game is being played . . .

It quickly became obvious that this woman would play any two cards . . . always limping.  If she hit the flop (or had a draw to virtually anything), she would call any amount.  If she hit the flop, she would bet, and if she crushed the flop, she would bet big.   About 30 minutes in, I lost my second big hand to this poker guru.    I raised to $10 out of position with AK diamonds . . . she called . . . and we saw a flop of 5d 4d Ac.  Jackpot.  I bet (because I knew she would call anything); she obliged.   Turn was another 4 and I checked.  She bet $45.  Her bet sizing caught me a bit off guard, as she had been continually betting $10 to $15 regardless of potsize (she had no concept of bet-sizing).  Slightly suscpicious, I called.   River blanked (flush did not come in) and I again checked to her.  Again, she fired $45.   I laid down my TPTK and she showed 54 for the turned boat.  Mental note -- $10 preflop raise not enough to get old lady to muck 54 off . . .  An hour in, I sat back and wondered how I could be down over $100 at this particular table.   Perhaps I'm worse than I think.   

But, things returned to the norm, as they often do at the poker table.  I later got three streets of value against my new Villian with JJ preflop (she had flopped a pair of 5's, which, of course, warrants three calls).  Still later, I flopped a Q-high flush (holding JQ) and let her bet into me for three streets after she flopped a garbage two-pair.   Old Lady Villian ultimately rebought -- $100 at a time -- 6 times over the course of 5 hours.  She commented at one point, "I was doing so well last night; not sure what's happening tonight."  Um.  I have a thought . . .  Old Lady Villain also drank progressively heavier as the night wore on, which sort of made her awesome.  Old Lady Villian also had the good fortune to catch "cowboys" (pocket KK) five times over the course of the session.  She lost 4 of the 5 hands (her lone win being against me early on, as described above).   She lamented about her poor luck.  Now, I know the rule about "feeding the fish."  But after her 4th loss, I couldn't help myself.  I suggested, "ma'am, perhaps you should consider raising with KK pre flop?"  Her response: "yeah, but I don't want to scare people off; I want to suck them into my web."  OK.  I did my good deed for the night.  I was done helping.

Hand of the night:  I call $8 from a local rock with JQ hearts in position.  One other caller.  Flop comes T(h), 9(h), J(s).  Bingo.  Rock bets $20.  I call, as does other the guy.  Turn is T(c).  Rock bets $35.  I call.  Other guy calls.    River is a beautifull K of hearts.  Other guy leads out for $50.  Local Rock calls $50.  I repop to $175, praying someone hit the A-high flush.  Other guy folds and Rock calls.  I fast roll the nuts and he tables KK's full.  Surprised he didn't re-pop me.  Perhaps he was trying to be nice; or, perhaps that's why he's a Rock....  In any event, it was a profitable hand in what was a very profitable session . . .

Sunday morning, I decided to make the drive north to Delaware Park and play the Noon $5,000 guaranty.  I got to The Del at 11:00 and made a straight line for the sportsbook.  Time to christen Delaware's sports wagering:

Bet looked better on paper than on the scoreboard.

The Noon tourny started out well.  I doubled up during the first level when my set of 7's held up against a Villian who over-played a flopped top pair with A9 on a 9-high board.  Made it to the break with $15,600 in chips.  I then went card dead for most of the fourth, fifth and sixth levels, until, with 1 minute left before the second break, I looked down at QQ on the button.  A short-stack opened the action by shoving his last $1,500 or so.  I raised to $3,500 and got a call from the big blind -- an older player who was solid.  Flop came out K 7, 4 rainbow.  Action came to a halt while the dealer messed with the side pot.  Apparently, when he was done, he assumed the action had checked around and burned and turned, putting out another K.  The floor was called, and the K was removed (according to the floor, if we reached the river, it would be reshuffled into the deck).  When order was restored, the big blind led out for $5,000.  Ordinarily, this would probably be a fairly easy fold.  But, I talked myself into sticking around.  Specifically, I convinced myself that AA would have re-popped pre-flop from the big blind.  And given the fact that I had seen two K's (thanks to the dealer's error), I thought it was less likely that Villian had flopped top pair.  So, I shoved all in.  Villian flipped AK; I didn't hit my two-outer; and it was back on I-95 South with another weekend in the books.

Delaware Redux (Part 1)

Spent the weekend in Delaware playing a mix of cash and tournaments at Dover Downs and Del Park.  Started the trip Friday night with the 7:00 pm $5,000 guaranty at Dover.  Buy-in was an even $100, with $7,500 starting stacks, blinds starting at $25 / $50 and no antes.  The tournament pulled 68 runners, with 7 spots paid.  I tried playing good TAG poker at the outset.  Played very few hands (had QQ twice in the first two levels and was outflopped both hands, losing the minimum).  Used my position to outplay AK with my AQ when I re-raised on a dry flop.  Built my stack up to $12,000 at the first break, and then $32,000 by the second break (breaks were every three levels).  Hit a rough patch between the second and third break.  I was totally card dead, and didn't find any good spots to make a move.  Hit the third break just barely holding on with $17,000, and 23 players left in the field.

Made a nice move between the 3rd and 4th breaks.  I tried hard to maintain a nice TAG style, and apparently choose good spots to take down flops regardless of my hole cards.  Coming out of the 4th break, there were 11 players left . . . one spot from the final table and 4 to the money.  I had chipped up from $14,000 to $46,000:

I don't have much tournament experience, and even less final table experience.  I know people say the bubble is the time to get aggressive and to steal pots from the short stacks who are just trying to hold on to the money.  While this strategy makes sense, it's hard to implement when you are one of the short stacks.  With $46,000 chips and blinds at $3000 / $6000, I found my play limited.   Being card dead did not help.  About half way through the round, with 8 left (one from the money) I woke up with TT UTG+1.  Under The Gun opened for $14,000.  I thought about shoving, but folded.  Too weak?  Maybe.  But the play worked out as the bubble burst shortly thereafter.  I then promptly busted two hands later with AT spades in the Cutoff.  I raised to $15,000, which virtually pot committed me (in retrospect, perhaps an open shove would have been the better play).  I got one caller, whiffed the flop, and shoved.  Got snap called by A 4 diamonds . . . hit my T on the turn, but lost to a rivered steel wheel.   Finished 7th and in the money.

I think playing the tournament may actually have been good for my cash game.  The structure, and my deep run, made me refocus on strength of hand and position.  I think its too easy, particularly in a fairly soft cash came, to start playing mediocre hands out of position and to not realize the mistake.  But, in tournament play . . . in middle position with KQ off . . . . and blinds at $3000 / $6000 . . . and the imminent threat that someone may shove . . . well, it tends to bring you back into focus . . . at least for me it did.      

I stayed at Dover Saturday and played two sessions, one of which included the softest table I've ever sat at . . . but more on that later . . .


Friday, December 2, 2011

Dover Downs

It's Friday afternoon and I'm ready for some poker.  Off to Dover Downs tonight.  I just checked the poker room website and, apparently, there is a $5,000 guaranty on the 7:00 pm tournament.  $100 buy-in, $7,500 in chips.  Seems they need to pull at least 60 to 70 runners to avoid a healthy house overlay on the guaranty (the buy-in includes the fee and "dealer bonus").  Its hard to imagine Dover pulling anywhere near 6 or 7 tables full of competent players.  While I don't play many tournaments (mostly because I suck), I think I may shoot to get into town in time for this one. 


Thursday, December 1, 2011

December 1st - Reflecting on 2011's Results

It's December 1st.  Time to reflect briefly on this year's poker play.

2011 was my first full year playing poker.  In January, my goal was to turn a profit on the year.  With four weeks left, my goal is certainly within reach; yet I can't help but feel disappointed in my results:

Clearly, $5 an hour is not going to pay the bills or allow me to escape the world of billable hours.  I'd hardly even consider it "supplementing my day job."  Less than $900 total profit thus far on the year is laughable -- hell, you could win that amount during an hour heater at the blackjack table.  I'm barely beating the rake . . . But, I suppose it beats losing. 

I'd like to think my results are largely a product of variance.  I actually feel pretty good about the progress in my game.  Looking back, most of my big losses came in hands where I got my money in good and suffered from a bad turn or river card.  My biggest losses of the year seemed to come on days I actually felt I was playing my best.  Perhaps the easy explanation is that 165 hours is no basis on which to meaningfully evaluate play. 

I also think it has taken some time to adjust to the $1/2 NL brick and mortar game.  One lesson learned this year -- the knowledge gained from reading Harrington On Cash Games or Gordon's Little Blue Book doesn't always translate well in practice.  Just the same, moves that seemed to work well at a $25 NL table on Stars or Tilt often prove costly when attempted at live $1/2.  Perhaps players adjust their games so quickly that "book strategy" becomes dated almost instantly.  But, to a larger degree, I just don't think you can play a skillfull game against a table of level 1 thinkers, calling stations and otherwise bad players.

One particular hand comes to mind.  It took place during a Friday evening at Charles Town - the "Chuck" for the uninitiated.  Charles Town attracks a lot of players from the DC metro area.  While there are some decent players at the table, the Chuck is generally known for its crazy play and resulting high variance.  Prior to this hand, I had been at the table for over an hour, but had barely gotten involved in the action.  Anyone paying attention would target me as a tight player.  I'm in the Cut-off and have 9 5 off.  I'm bored; anxious to play, and have already paid $12 in rake (the Chuck currently charges $6 half hour time rather than pot rake).  Two limpers and the action gets to me.  I raise to $12 (anything less than $12 gets 7 or 8 callers at the Chuck).  The blinds fold and the two limpers come along.  Flop comes 2, 7, 4 rainbow.  It checks around to me and I follow up with a $23 bet.  One fold and one caller.  Interesting.  Turn brings another duece.  Villian again checks to me.  Not ready to give up on this pot ($75), I fire out $45.  Villian thinks for a brief minute and calls.  River is a T.   Villian checks for a third time.  No draws have come in.  Hard to imagine he would have limped pre-flop and check called three streets with an overpair like JJ's.  Still convinced Villian has nothing or can be moved off a mediocre hand, I fire the third street - $65 -- about 1/3 the pot, dressed up as a value bet.   In my mind, I've adequately represented an over pair or, perhaps even a set of 7's or 4's which boated-up on the turn.  I raised preflop and fired flop, 4th and 5th street, and it would take a fairly strong hand to call my river bet . . .

. . . or, as it turns out, a guy holding a 7 . . . That's right.  Pair of 7's takes down a $300 pot.  A soul read if ever there was one.  Guy scooped up the pot and proudly proclaimed, "flopped top pair . . . had to call."  He was serious.  I was furious.  Now, my play for the pot may be debatable.  But the lesson learned was this:  books and strategy may serve as a nice foundation for the game; but on any given day, you have to be able to adjust your play to the table.  Some nights tricky lines may work well.  But, many days, fit or fold, ABC poker, is the path to profit.  You can play your cards "face up" -- it don't matter, because half the table ain't even looking.

One more month left to the year.  Going to try and get another 25 hours or so in during the weekends, starting tomorrow with a trip back to Dover Downs.  Then, come January 1st, I'll reevaluate and set a new objective.  I doubt I'll be shooting to tackle the $2/5 NL game in 2012; but a goal of $15 / hr seems about right.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Jets Season Still Alive . . . Barely . . .

Stopped by the Meadowlands Sunday for the Jets - Bills game before heading back to D.C.. 

Another ugly win.  It's taken a few years, but I'm starting to slip off the Mark Sanchez bandwagon.  Is it the O-line this year?  Could be.  But the guy just seems to make too many bad throws in bad spots.  Took a great catch from Plax to bail him out this week . . .

As a season ticket holder, having to drive from DC to Jersey for the games, it's about this time a year that it becomes a grind to be a fan, particularly when the team is not playing well (the drive home is always longer after a loss . . .).  My Chiefs tickets may be hitting EBAY this week. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Just One More Orbit - Harrah's AC Thanksgiving Eve

Whenever I think to myself, "OK . . . just one more orbit," it seems, inevitably, I look down at a premium hand.  And, when that last orbit passes, I'm sitting behind far fewer chips.  Last month, for instance, I was squeezing in a few hours of $1/2 NL on a Sunday morning at Sands, PA, before making the trip back from Bethlehem to D.C.  After two relatively profitable hours, it was time to hit the road.  I racked up my chips and decided to play through the button.  Two hands later, the dealer button arrived and, after three limpers, the action was on me.  I looked down at AJ suited and made a standard raise to $10.  Three callers and the flop came J high (J, 7, 2 rainbow, if I recall correctly).  It checked around and I continued for $17.  One caller.  Turn was an 8 and the Villain donk bet out $35.  Eyeing him suspiciously, I called.  River blanked and the villain bet $55.   Clearly, I was beat, and my once promising AJ suited hit the muck.  Villain (being less villainly) showed T9 suited for the turned straight, and I headed for the car just barely above even . . .  Just one last orbit . . .

It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the office was near empty.  The only prudent course of action was sneak out as early as possible.  11:50 seemed about right.  Within minutes I was on I-95 heading north to New York for the holiday... with a brief pit stop in AC for a night of poker, of course.  Five hours of holiday traffic later, I reached rainy AC.

After checking into the Waterfront Tower at Harrah's, I headed for the poker room, reaching the podium right as a new $1/2 table was opening.  Action was good.  Several locals who were in the mood to gamble, and a handful of younger guys looking to drink and waste a few hours until The Pool (the club at Harrah's) opened at 9:30.  I chipped up my $300 buying nicely over the course of two and a half hours without getting in any bad spots.  Made a few hands . . . fired a few successful semi-bluffs . . . easy game. 

[Side Bar:  An interesting hand plays out early on.  I have Kh 9s against 3 players in a limped pot.  Flop comes 7 J 9, all hearts.  A $15 bet . . . two callers . . . I call.  Turn is the T hearts, giving me the third nuts.   First to act fires out $50 -- a pot sized bet.  One fold . . . one caller.  Action is on me and I have a decision to make.  I've been at the table only 30 minutes and I have no real feel for the villains, both of which I have covered.  If I call the turn, I'm sticking with the hand on the river, and if one of these two gentlemen has the ace or the eight of hearts, its going to get expensive.  Given the bet and the call, I give one of them (or both) credit for having a better hand.  I reluctantly fold and watch as these two poker savants go at it on the river.   The first shoves his last $85 and gets a call.  In the end, the all-in's 9-high flush takes the pot over the caller's straight.  Good times.] 

It's nearly 8:00 pm and I'm ready to break for dinner.  My stack is $435 and I rack'em up.  "Just one last orbit ..."

Several hands later, I'm small blind and look down at "pocket rockets" . . . I've got a sinking feeling already.  I've read this book and I know how it ends.  But its AA . . . It's the best starting hand in poker.  It needs to be played.  I raise to $10 and get a call from the big blind.  Flop comes K Q 7.  I fire out a standard $15 continuation bet and get snap-called.  Here we go.  Turn is a J.  I give up the lead.  The big blind fires out $35.  It's uncanny how this happens.  I call.  River blanks.  I check, hoping to get off cheap, but no such luck.  Big blind bets $45.  In the back of my head, I can hear myself thinking, "you've been folding Aces too easily . . .  don't be pushed around . . .  maybe he's got AK or AQ and was emboldened by your check on the turn. . ."  I'm not good enough to get away from my aces.  Not on this night.  I call and the big blind tables A T. . .  I finish that one last orbit, take my rack off the table, and head for the cage with an unsatisfying $29 profit.   

On my way to Bill Burger Bar for a healthy pre-Thanksgiving dinner, I ran into the new Hundred Hand video poker machines next to Poker Bar.  The devils' game.  My leak.  I can't resist.  Hand of the night below: 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Running Bad -- Weekend in Delaware (Part 2)


Spent the night at the Hilton down the street from Delaware Park.  Woke up Sunday morning around 10:00 and decided a change of scenery was in order.  Dover Downs Raceway was a mere 30 minutes Southeast, and I decided to give it a shot.  I had read that the poker room was nice, but small (18 tables), and that the level of play was much softer than Del Park.  I grabbed coffee, headed toward the shore, and arrived a half hour later.

It was my first time in Dover, Delaware (rumored to be the state capital).  Dover Downs sits along a four lane road littered with fast food joints, chain stores, hotels and a trailer park (the residents must be the envy of their peers, given that Dover Raceway is a drunken stumble down the road).  The casino itself was nice, but small.  Directly inside the front entrance was the sports and racebook.  Yes, Delaware recently legalized betting on NFL football . . . sort of.  Apparently, full-on sports betting would be too great a danger to society.  So, in effort to protect its citizens, Delaware permits only parlays and teasers - both universally recognized as "sucker bets."  There was no shortage of suckers lined up at the racebook at 11:00 Sunday morning....

The poker room at Dover Downs is located on the third floor, away from the rest of the gaming.  Not the greatest location if your goal is to lure in a continual stream of fresh fish.  I got to the room at exactly noon (I may or may not have been side tracked on my way with a quick stop at a Joker Poker machine . . .), and found two $1/2 NL tables and a $2/4 limit game going.  I was sat immediately. 

It was readily apparent within minutes that everyone at the table knew each other.  Average age was 50 or so; average level of degeneracy, a solid 9.5 out of 10.  Fifteen minutes in, the middle-aged Asian gentlemen in the three seat announces he has to leave . . . to attend his son's birthday party . . . but wishes to keep his chips on the table because he will be back.  Dealer and floor oblige.  An hour later, with the three seat still MIA, the woman in seat 1 leaves with her chips on the table . . . to go home to "feed her kid."  Seriously. 

In the meantime, the rest of us at the table were playing cards . . . and engaging in delightful table talk (I learned from the gentleman next to me that the (still) absent guy in the three seat was "the unluckiest oriental he knew").  Dover was nothing if not classy.  I grinded for 4 hours, without much luck.  Flopped a K high straight with KQ clubs and got it all in on the turn against a short stack who flopped a set with his pocket TT's . . . easy game . . . until I lost the profit, and more, a few hands later on an AKT flop when I ran my AK into QJ . . . such a sick game. . .

Left Dover Downs around 4:00pm a slight loser.  Began the 2 hour trip down route 50, over the Bay Bridge, towards the Beltway and the reality of another week in the office . . .                           

Running Bad -- Weekend in Delaware (Part 1)

I made the trip to Delaware Park this past weekend to log some hours at the table.  My previous sessions at Del Park were . . .  less than profitable.  In fact, I had never had a winning session.    Some people might avoid a place with such history; but in my mind, there was no where to go but up.  Apparently, digging a deeper hole was an alternative possibility.

Del Park (for those who have never had the pleasure) reminds me of those Freemont Street Casinos not named "The Golden Nugget."  It's old, depressingly decorated, and filled with people who should, in all fairness, likely be engaging in a different hobby.  It offers no nice restaurants or decent bars to hangout at or watch a game.  And, as an added bonus, you might get hit over the head walking back to your car late at night.  Del Park does have one redeeming value -- the nicest poker room in the mid-Atlantic, aside from the Borgata.

I sat down at a $1/2 NL table at exactly 5:00, with a full $300 buy-in behind.  Over the first hour I grinded up about $100 on a series of unremarkable hands.  Then, ran into the first cooler of the day:

Middle position raises to $10 and the Hi-Jack calls . . .  It gets to me on the button, and I look down at QQ, and three bet to $45.  Two callers.

Flop comes Jc 3c Jd.   The original raiser shoves for about $250.  HJ folds.  I Call.  Villain flips Ac Kc and needs help . . . which he gets with the 9 c on the river . . .  And just like that, I'm down for the session.

Undeterred, I chip back up to even over the next hour or so.  Then, cooler number two -- dealt 89 off suit in the big blind.  After two limpers, cut-off makes it $8.  I call . . . two limpers hop on board.  Flop comes 2 9 9 rainbow.  Um.  OK.  Check, check, check and original raiser bets $20.  I call and the two limpers muck.  Turn is a 5.  I again check to villain who bets $35.  Call.  River is an A.  I check a third time and Villain bets $75.  I call.  Villain flips Rockets for the rivered boat -- a two-outer and I'm again in the hole.

Five hours into the session and I'm down $70, due solely to the two hands above.  A few minutes later this hand plays out:

Sitting on QT off and playing out of position.  I raise $8 and get two callers.  Spike a T on the flop (top pair), bet $17 and get two callers.  Turn is Q, giving me top two but putting a spade draw on the board.   I check, villain 1 bets $25, villain 2 calls $25 . . . I repop to $130.  V-1 folds and V-2 calls.  River is a spade.  I see V-2 already reaching for chips . . . Thought about throwing out a blocking bet, but decide to check.   Villain tosses in $150 . . . really feels like the spade hit his hand.  Tank.  Fold.  Villain 2 mucks . . . Villain 1 claims he folded the K-high flush to my check raise.  Villain 2 claims he hit a flush.  Bottom line, time to reload.

Six-plus hours into the session, I'm in for $500, and sitting on $375 or so, when I'm dealt AK.  I lead out for $10, get one taker, and see a flop of K 2 8 rainbow.  I'm already counting the chips I'm about to win.  The name of the game is value bet, value bet, value bet.  Following the blueprint, I lead out 3 streets and at the end of the hand, I'm $120 poorer.  Turns out, K 2 8 rainbow is a good flop unless you run your Big Slick into K 8 . . .

Tilting for the first time all night, I donk off a few more chips before calling it a night at 11:30, down $335.           

To be continued . . .