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 . . .