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: 

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