This past weekend, I opted for a change of pace, and decided to play some poker . . .
I drove out to Dover Downs Saturday morning, and snagged a seat at one of the two $1/2 tables running at 1:00 pm. I typically find Dover to be a friendly, relaxing place to grind. I was hoping for a relatively easy afternoon of poker, with few real decisions.... Instead, I played one of the most stressful, high-variance afternoons in memory. It seemed like every hand a played turned into a big pot. Hell, I don't even remember a single hand that went, raise, call, C-bet, rake . . . An hour in, I found myself down $200. I topped off (in for $500), and started hitting some hands. I built my stack up to $840, before losing a few hands near the end, and walking with $240 profit. Here are some highlights (or low lights, as the case may be):
The first hand I played, sitting on $296, I found JJ under the gun and opened to $12. Myself and a mere 6 callers saw a 4 K A rainbow flop. No sense even thinking about C-betting in this spot. One hand played, one hand lost.
An orbit later, I find AK in middle position. After one limper, I raise to $12. An old Asian lady on the button calls, as does the limper. The flop comes down 8 A 9 (two spades). Limper donks for $10. I raise to $35. Both villains call. Interesting. Donker has about $200 behind, and Asian lady has approximately $50 left as we head to the turn. Turn is a 2 hearts, which changes nothing. Donker checks, I bet $55 to put the button all in. She calls, and donker folds. Old Asian lady flips A,8 for "aces up," and takes it down. Less than 30 minutes in, and I'm down over $100.
Next hand I play -- AQ. I decide to mix it up and follow two limpers into the pot. In all, six see the flop: Qc, Ac, 7c. Brilliant. It checks to me, and I bet the pot. One caller. Turn is the 4c. Does it get any better? I check, Villain bets, I fold. Three hands played, three hands lost.
A little while later, and after my rebuy, momentum shifts, and this scary hand is played:
I raise two limpers to $15 with QQ in middle position and get two callers (I was raising a bit more than normal to account for limpers, particularly given that the table was playing loose and calling just about any amount). The flop is T 8 2. I lead for $30 and get called by the hijack - a competent player who was on the $2/$5 wait list. Not a great spot -- playing an overpair out of position to a decent regular who has called two bets. I discounted KK or AA, as I think this villain would have three bet, particularly given my preflop raise, a call before the action got to him, and one limper yet to act. Nevertheless, frankly, I'm not sure where am at at this point in the hand. He could have flopped a set (two pair unlikely), he could be on a straight draw, or he could just be floating. The turn bricks and I decide to give up the lead. I'm hoping for him to check back. But, I'm also giving him an opportunity to try and bluff in the event he was floating (and putting me on a hand like a big Ace). Villain bets $50. I quickly call, hoping it comes off strong. River blanks. I don't want to get check-raised by 88 or TT here. I check. Villain tanks. He has $165 behind -- a stack of $100 and a stack of $65. He plays with both stacks like he's about to shove, but rethinks, and slides out the stack of $65. His bet size basically makes my decision for me. I'm calling $65 into a pot of $270 and getting better than 4-1. This alone makes it a fairly easy call. But, beyond this, I'm fairly confident only a set beats me and, if he had a set why bet such a relatively small amount (just barely more than his turn bet). I call; villain mucks. Had he shoved for $165, I would have had a real decision to make. Frankly, I think I fold in that spot.
I had layed low for 30 minutes or so, when I was dealt K 4 diamonds and decided to make a move. I raised three limpers to $15 in late position. To my chagrin, I picked up 5 callers, including the button and big blind. There's just under $80 in the pot. Flop comes down J 3 7 and it checks to me. Fairly safe flop. I decide to play it like AA and bet $55. It folds around and I scoop a decent pot.
I ultimately worked my stack to $840 before giving a bit back on two unfortunate hands:
Hand One: I limp with A3 and flop a gutshot (2 5 9 two clubs). Gentlemen to my right bets $7. I call. The turn is the 4 c, making my wheel, but putting the flush out on the board. Gentlemen announces, "same bet." I call. River is a 2, pairing the board. Guy bets $14. I call. He shows 2,5 for the rivered boat.
A few minutes later I raise to $10 from the button with AT. Two callers, including a short stack and the boat captain from the previous hand. Flop is T 8 4, two spades. Short stack shoves $25. Captain thinks about it, and calls. I decide to try and isolate against the shortstack, and raise to $80 (giving captain 2-1 on a call). Captain folds, shortstack flips KQ spades for the draw, which he hits on the turn.
Sunday I made the drive up to Charles Town for a quick afternoon session (yes, my unofficial boycott of Penn National lasted 6 days). I once again quickly dropped $100, and then spent the next few hours struggling to make up ground. I got very few playable hands. Those that were playable, I raised and missed. I C-bet a few on fairly dry-looking boards, only to get three-bet (never a good feeling). I was dealt QQ three times, raised each, got at least one caller, and had an Ace hit the flop every time. I got AK twice, opened both times to $10, and got not a single caller. In short, nothing was working. Eventually, I worked my way back into the black, and then it happened . . .
. . . some dude takes the seat to my immediate right. With him is his girlfriend. At least, I think it was a woman. She was a monster. For the first 10 minutes, she just stood directly behind me watching the action, breathing heavily . . . labored. The beast was tired (and, possibly hungry . . .). Noticing the situation, the dealer offered to get her a chair and told her, "feel free to have a seat and watch." Um. Great. So . . . monster takes a seat. Almost directly behind my chair and her boyfriend's chair. She's so close I can feel her breathing on me. She has one of her club arms (presumably used for hunting or to incapacitate prey) resting on the back of my chair, and the other on her boyfriend's chair. She's fidgeting non stop, and as a result, my chair is in constant motion. I also can't push back to check my phone, etc., because she's/it's literally up against the back of my chair. To make matters worth, the monster and her boyfriend are speaking some foreign tongue. And, I can sort of see her through the corner of my eye looking at my hole cards, despite my efforts to protect my hand not only from my opponent, but from her as well. Now, I have no idea if they were communicating improperly or not. They probably weren't (the one hand I played against the guy, I double barreled and moved him off his hand with a fairly weak holding). Nevertheless, the entire time I was fighting two urges - first, the urge to be "that guy" and request the dealer enforce "English, Only" if she was going to sit behind me at the table; and, second, the impulse to throw an elbow and catch her in the chin. At that point, I knew it was simply best to leave, so I racked up and cashed out a small $37 profit and called it a weekend.