Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sometimes It's Personal

Tuesday night.  1:45 am.  Poker room at The Borgata.  I'm sitting on $300 or so.  Villain (young, Asian, LAG) has about $250 behind.  We've been playing together for about 2 hours.  We have one prior hand: I raised $10 with AQ, and he called.  Flop blank, I C-bet, he raises me to $35.  I fold.

The hand in question:  he limps early and another player comes along.  I look down at 22 and decide to play it like it's an actual pair.  I raise to $12.  LAGAttack comes along.  Flop is K37.  He checks.  I bet $18.  He raises to $40.  My read is he has nothing.  I think our previous hand lead to his action.  I call.

Turn blanks.  He checks.  I bet $65.  He tanks, and calls.  Interesting.

River is of no consequence.  He checks again.  I check back, in part because I think my ducks may actually be good.  LagAttack flips a 3 for flopped bottom pair.  Ouch.  He then comments that he was hoping I'd shove.  Not sure I believe him; but if true, his read was just a little bit better than mine.  Not sure what vibe I was giving off.  Perhaps it was the tears as he put his chips in on the flop and 4th street .... Or the barely audible mumbling ... "Don't call...Don't call...Don't call..."

From there on out, it was personal.  And that cost me another $50 or so when I called his raise with K8, flopped top pair, and called $15 on the flop, and $30 on the turn before folding to his river bet of $70.  Sadly, in retrospect, I may have actually been good in that spot.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Around the Horn (1 through 10)

Played a 5 hour session Saturday at Maryland Live! starting at 10:30 am.  The game nearly put me to sleep the first hour or so.  After a while, the table became a bit more lively.  But the game remained well within my grasp.  It was one of the few times I felt I had an edge over nearly every spot at the table.  And that, folks, don't happen often.
Seat One: There was one agro Asian kid in the 1 seat.  Standard Beats and sunglasses.  I admired his creative chip--stacking abilities.  He was very Tag.  Always opening to raises, and re-raising often.  I don't think I saw him lose a hand.  Early on in the session, I made up my mind to simply avoid the kid.  No reason to play against him given the remainder of the table. 
Seat Two: There was a somewhat passive kid in the two seat, who I've played with before.  Not a threat.  I remembered him because he loved to bet/fold the river.  I saw him do it last time we played together.  He'd lead the flop, turn and river . . . get raised on the river . . . tank, and fold.  He did it twice Saturday too.  There's something to be said for getting value out of your medium strength hands.  But, maybe he should think about check-calling the river on occasion.  It was hard to watch.  He burned through two $200 buy-ins in a few hours and was whittling away his third when I left.
Seat Three: The three seat was an old lady with a "Bally's AC" T-shirt on.  Apparently, she loves to gamble.  She loves Atlantic City . . . and she don't care who knows it.  A real shark at the table too.  I mean, when she raised pre flop I had no clue what her range was.  Was she raising suited one-gapers?  Pocket pairs?  Just trying to steal?  Working on her table image?  I'm use to looking over at this type of player at the $3/6 limit game; but to see one up close and personal at a no limit table was never before experienced by this fish.  Her meta-game rose to a level typically unseen at a $1/2 game.  Much like the Asian in the one seat, I avoided the old lady . . . unless, of course, I felt like playing whatever hand I had in front of me at the moment . . .  
The Four Seat: The four seat was a balding guy in his fifties, sitting on about $80 and apparently trying to make it last all day, lest he be forced to go home and spend time with his wife.  Indeed, this was my strongest read of the day.  There was no fucken way this guy was going home until his spouse-appointed curfew reached expiration; and he sure as fuck wasn't risking her money . . .  Hell, I saw this guy check the river in position with a straight.  He also checked the river with a set of 8's on a dry board.  He barely played more than 10 hands over the five hours I was at the table.  He limp-called a few of my preflop raises, and promptly folded when I c-bet my Ace-high.   I liked playing with him. 
The Five & Six Seats.  The five and six seats were a middle age Russian couple.  I've played with the guy before (although I couldn't for the life of me remember where).  He's competent, but must have been card dead because he too was short stacked and nearly silent except for a brief rush about 4 hours into the session.  His wife was wonderful. She raised QQ or better and bet and bet and bet post flop.  She limped AJ or better and check / folded post flop.  She also limp /folded small pocket pairs.  The phrase "playing the hand face up" came to mind . . . just a little bit.  I played against her twice, and she got the better of me both times.  The first hand, she limped, and I opened to $10 from the button with QJ spades (yes, I was bored).  The flop was 9K2 rainbow.  I bet the flop, and she called.  The turn blanked.  She checked.  Um.  Yeah.  Ma'am, might you have a King?  I check back.  The river is an Ace.  She leads out.  AK, perhaps?  I muck.  She flashes her big slick.  I act like I'm surprised: "Very nice hand, ma'am . . ."  The second time we went head to head, she raised two limpers to $15 and I looked down at 77.  She was sitting on less than $100.  She clearly has QQ+.  I end up calling, hoping the two limpers and perhaps one of the blinds will come along and I'll hit my first set in a month.  As I was hoping, we did get two more callers.  But, of course, my 7 did not fall.  She bet the flop, I folded.  However, some other jackass called two more streets and paid off her QQ.  Just amazing. 
The Seven Seat:  The seven seat was perpetually empty.  Some reg sat down there briefly, but, apparently, had just wondered in and sat down instead of signing up on the relatively long list for $1/2.  He got busted by the floor about 15 minutes in, and got "removed" from the room for the day (yes, they're not fucking around any more with line violators at Live!).  Later, a 30+ black dude sits down, puts his shit down on the table in front of the cup holder, and disappears for 20 minutes.  He comes back, buys the button, plays two hands, and gets back up for thirty minutes.  This prompts the eight seat to joke that he is playing two tables at once. . . . Poker humor.  Delicious.  The dealer asks if he is serious and looks like he is about to call the floor.  Apparently, keeping track of the rack and the bad beat drop is more than said dealer can handle . . . 
The Eight Seat.   As for the eight seat . . . he was a friendly guy, prolly about my age . . . Virginia accent.  Fairly bad player.  Limped a lot, played a lot of hands, paid off a lot of draws, and showed down second best a bunch of times (likely because he was calling small raises with hands like KT, A7, et cetera).  Around noon, he and the ten seat started pounded T n T's.  Surprisingly, this improved neither of their play.  Mr. Eight seat got into a hand with Mrs. Moscow at one point.  She opened preflop to $12 and he called.  The flop came down Q high.  She fired and he called.  He starts talking to her a lot about how he's scared of her and how he thinks he's crushed and on and on.  The turn blanks, she fires, and he calls.  And talks some more.  I'm thinking he's about to stack her with his set.  Then he flashes me his AQ and grins like a buffoon.  Silently, in my head: "dude, you ignorant fool.  Stop drinking the Tanq and Tonic's and start paying attention.  You are crushed . . ."  River blanks, she fires, he calls.  She flips her cowboys, he mucks and says, trying to laugh the hand off, "next time, just tell me you have kings . . ."  I can't resist -- this time, out loud:  "dude, she pretty much did . . ."  Mr. Virginia either doesn't understand my comment or just ignores me in disgust.  It always amuses me when someone can play their cards so straight forward, and, yet, still get paid off on their monsters by some jackass paying no attention to their play.  It makes me think that, perhaps, I over-complicate the $1/2 game sometimes...
The Nine Seat.  Smart.  Handsome.  Sophisticated.  Good sense of humor.  A subtle reach towards his chip stack was enough to induce fold after fold.  He didn't so much "soul read" as much as he harnessed some sort of telekinetic energy which caused others at the table to bet, fold or act otherwise based on his whims.           
The Ten Seat.  The ten seat was a nice enough guy . . . Married.  Thirties.  Pretty average at poker.   He didn't spill his chips away; but he also wasn't threatening in the least.  Several times, he got involved in a hand with a pre flop call of a raise.  Post flop, he'd give one of the following two speeches before making a call:  (1)  "OK, I'll do you a favor and make the call . . ." or (2) "OK, I'll donate a bit."  Each time, he was top pair or better.  About three hours in, I raised KJ from the cutoff and he called from the Button.  The flop came out KTJ.  I lead the flop, and he retorts with "OK, I'll do you a favor . . ." as his chips splash the pot.  I tell him, "thanks, but I've seen the kind of favors you do . . ." as I lead out again on the 7 turn card.  He again calls.  Perhaps he's more of a genius than I give him credit for, because his speech induces me to check the river to him.  He checks back and flips KT.  He jokingly complains that I'm taking all his chips.  I offer to flag down the waitress for him, suggesting that, perhaps, another gin and tonic will improve his game.  He agrees; and I'm pleasantly surprised to be sitting at a table that's turned somewhat fun at the early hour of 2:00 pm.
I was grossly card dead most of the afternoon and unable to take much advantage of the situation.  I was also forced to watch the Duke - Wake Forest game on the poker room TV's.  Biggest bad beat of the day.  In the end, I was able to scoop a few pots, and steal some hands that no one else seemed to want.  I walked away with a $145 profit on the session.

Next up -- Wednesday evening, Borgata . . . quick pit stop on the way up to Strong Island for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

My New Identity

A while back I wrote about my experience living life as Pete P. Peters (Hi. My Name is Pete).  In case you don't recall, or don't have time to read the old post, here's the long and short of it:  I started using the name "Pete" at Starbucks.  After a while, the folks there got to know me.  They think my name is Pete.  Now, when I'm at Starbucks, I respond to "Pete."
There is a bagel shop in the ground floor of the office building where I work.  They have a "Bottomless Mug Club."  For $179 a year, you get all the coffee you can drink.  I've been a member for the past several years.  I stop at Starbucks when I leave my house in the morning.  Then, when I arrive at work, I get another cup at the bagel shop.  By 10:00 am, I'm shaking and my heart feels like it's going to explode.  I'm not addicted. 
The bagel shop recently got a new general manager.  After a week or so, he got to know my face, and remembered that I'm "Bottomless," i.e., no charge for my coffee.  Fast forward to yesterday morning.  I walk in and he looks at me, and, I think I hear him say, "Hi Adam."  He says it somewhat hesitantly . . . like he isn't quite certain that is my name (It's not).  Now, I've never given him my name.  Neither my actual name, nor Pete P. Peters.  And, I sure as hell never told him my name was Adam.  He hands me my coffee and, this time, clearly says, "have a nice day Adam."  Good times.  It's too early in the morning to address this issue.  I mean, I've only had 20 ounces of coffee at this point; not the forty ounces necessary for me to be ready to stop surfing the Internet and actually start working.  I let it slide.  I mean, maybe he'll forget my not-name by tomorrow, right?
Fast forward to this morning.  I'm still "Adam."  And, my failure to correct him yesterday has likely alleviated whatever doubt he may or may not have had about my identify, and reinforced in his mind that my name is, in fact, Adam.  So, apparently, unless he gets transferred, or until I get fired, I guess I'll also be responding to "Adam" from this point forward.
Frankly, it's all starting to become hard to keep track of.
- P3 a/k/a Adam  

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Non-Glorious Return to Tournament Poker

2012 was the year I swung from Cash to Tournament poker.  Between Delaware Park and the Golden Nugget in AC, there were plenty of reasonably priced tournaments with great structures.  And I found some success in the tournament game, cashing a handful over the course of the year, including several 4-figure chops.   
I began 2013 still focused on tournaments; however, I was mainly playing the Saturday tournaments at Showboat - $65 buy-ins, 20 minute levels and no antes.  And, the pay structures were awful.  A min cash was barely better than the buy-in, and you basically needed to make it to the chop to make it worth while.  I lost focus, and began playing these as a cheap way to spend 3 or 4 hours playing cards and drinking beer.  Aside from one $800 chop (on a day where I was supremely focused . . . and sober), I didn't cash a single tournament.  I didn't really even come close.  Suddenly, I was having a hard time motivating for tournaments.  The pendulum swung back to the cash game.  In fact, I hadn't played a tournament in nearly 6 months . . . until this weekend.
I was prepared to play cash Saturday at Maryland Live!  However, Friday, while in the office and avoiding actual work, I was skimming the 2+2 boards and saw that Delaware Park was holding a noon deep stack.  $150 buy-in, $30,000 chips, 25-minute levels.  I rediscovered my motivation to play, and took the drive up to Delaware Saturday morning.
It started out bad and only got worse.  My very first hand dealt was AK.  I raised the $25/$50 blinds to $125 (small ball, baby!) and got a grand total of no callers.  A few orbits later I looked down at AA and raised to $150 from early position.  This time, the big blind came along, but promptly folded to my flop bet.  Sometimes failing to get paid on your big hands seems only slightly worse than getting crushed on your big hands.  Heaters don't last forever...
I took my first big hit in the second level. Blinds were $50/$100.  UTG+1 opened to $300 and I re-raised to $1000 with JJ.  The button called, and the original raiser bowed out.  We go heads up to a 9-high monotone flop (spades).  I lead for $1,600.  He calls.  Turn bricks.  I again bet out for $2,600.  He repops to $8,000.  He's a very competent regular who was being hit over the head with the deck.  Yet, it's hard to give him QQ+ since he didn't four-bet.  Still, in the end, I feel like it's too early, and the structure is too good, to take a stand with JJ.  I fold.  Villain later claims he flopped the spades . . .
I made some of the loss back a few hands later when I turned the nut flush.  We were three-handed, in a limped pot.  UTG lead out the flop for about 1/3 and I called and hit the heart I was looking for.  He checked the turn, and I bet it.  After losing the cut-off, UTG called both turn and river bets.  A nice sized pot.
And then . . . nothing.  Like, literally nothing.  I didn't win a hand between the first and second breaks.  In fact, I only played a handful of hands during this hour-and-a-half.  I limped into a few pots with hands like 9T, QT, 76 and whiffed each flop.  Then I got 99 and raised two limpers 4x.  The flop was KJ3 and I continued with a decent sized bet only to get re-raised.  Fun times.
I entered the second break with $15,000 (half my starting stack).  Shortly thereafter, sitting on $13,000 or so and with blinds at $75/$400/$800, I looked down at AT clubs in middle position and open to $2,400.  I get one caller.  The flop is A56(two hearts).  I bet out $3,200 into approximately $6,600.  Dude thinks about it and shoves.   I'm almost positive I'm beat by a better ace.  This guy had been betting aggressively when he "had it," which he nearly always did.  If I was deeper; or if I gave more of a shit; or if the Georgia-Auburn game hadn't already started . . . I would have folded... But I only had 10 big blinds left and was sitting at a table of deep stacks . . . and had been card dead for almost two hours . . . and I really wanted to get back down to Maryland Live! to donk some sweet, sweet VP and watch football.  So I called and got up to leave (all in one motion) and was not at all surprised to see villain's AK hit the felt. 
At least I think I got my desire to play tournaments out of my system for a while.  Back to cash next Saturday. 
P.S.  Is Baylor the best team in the Nation?  And how much of a monster was Carlos Hyde on Saturday?  And how much must Aaron Murray want to step into traffic after watching that last pass get tipped from two defenders into the Auburn receivers hands in full stride and heading for the end zone?  And why is Alabama soooooo fucken boring to watch?

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Power of Position

I spent this weekend playing poker.  Seriously.  I did.  I played a 5 hour session Saturday at Charles Town.  It was entirely uneventful.  There was barely a decision to be made all afternoon.  I left up $220.

Today was different.  I played 4 hours at Maryland Live and nothing came easy.  Today was a story about the power of position in poker.  Or, perhaps unbeknownst to me, the story was about how I just suck at poker.  Either way, I found myself in a handful of tough spots.

I got off to a good start with AQ. After a $5 straddle and two callers, I jacked AQ hearts to $35.  I got 3 callers.  Clearly, the old Charles Town crowd has taken their game to MDL!  The 4 of us see an Ace, 5 8 rainbow flop in an already bloated pot.  Action checks around.  I hate this spot.  There's $140 in the middle.  I opt to bet out $90 - between 1/2 and 3/4 pot.  It folds around and I scoop.  I felt like this was a potentially horrendous spot, due in part to my preflop raise.  Frankly, if I had gotten a call on the flop, I'm not sure what I would have done.  I really don't want to be playing for stacks with top pair, queen kicker.  Fortunately, I never had to make the decision.

After getting up a decent amount early, I pissed it all away, mainly calling small preflop raises with small pocket pairs, none of which hit on the flop.  In fact, as discussed a bit more below, over the course of the afternoon, I played 14 small pocket pairs, and couldn't hit a single set.

After draining back down to even, I looked down at AK.  I raised two limpers to $12 and ultimately end up with 4 callers.  The flop comes down 7 high.  It checks to me, and I bet $30.  Next to act shoves for $120 and gets a call.  I fold, and 67 wins the hand (against a draw).  Um.  OK.

And now for the hand of the day.  This is one where position killed me: I'm sitting on about $300, and look down at AK in the small blind.  After several limpers, I raise to $12.  Two callers.  Flop is K56 (2 spades).  I lead out for $20 with TPTK.  Both call.  There's $96 in the pot going to the turn.  A red 4.  I bet $35, trying not to give up the lead, but also trying to somewhat control the pot size.  Both players again call.

There's $200 in the pot going to the river.  The 2 spades.  This spot makes me throw up.   By way of background, the guy in middle position has barely played a hand.  I'm frankly having a hard time putting him on a range.  What did he limp call preflop, and then call flop and turn bets, with?  Did he flop a set?  A spade draw with two broadway cards?  I have no clue. The girl in late position has barely NOT played a hand.  She could have anything.   I consider betting out again.  But, ultimately, I check and finally give up control.  The tight guy in middle position bets out $70.  Woman folds.  Action is on me, and I tank.  What the hell am I beating here?   While I was tempted to call $70 (getting nearly 4-1), I ultimately fold.  Face up.  Guy in middle position punches me in the neck when he flips AK off.  Wow!  I assume he turned his hand into a bluff when I gave up control.  But that was a bold call with the LAG chick playing behind him.  And I certainly did not put him on AK.  He limp calls preflop in middle position with that hand?  In any event, perhaps my biggest mistake in the hand was showing my big slick.  I've really been trying not to show ANY HANDS, but my ego got the best of my this time, and I couldn't resist showing a decent lay down.  Of course, my ego got slammed when I was outplayed in front of the entire table.  Anyone play this hand differently?

Shortly thereafter, position made itself known again.  This time, I'm sitting on about $165 and get KK under the gun+1.  I raise to $12 and get two callers, including an older gentlemen in middle position who is also sitting on about $150 and has been invisible all day.  The flop is Q73 rainbow.  I lead out for $25.  Old guy min-raises to $65.  Ugh.  Other caller folds and action is back on me, heads up.  I don't think he is raising with top pair.  My gut tells me he flopped a set or thinks I'm full of shit and is betting air.  It's hard to give him QQ since he didn't 3-bet from middle position.  77 or 33 are obviously possible.  Again, being out of position sucks.  And sitting on $150 or so also doesn't help.  If I call here, I have $100 left.  I feel like I'm basically playing for stacks.  I consider folding.  But folding just feels to weak.  I call.

Turn is another 7.  Actually a good card in my view, because it makes 77 less likely.  As I'm thinking about my move, I realize the mistake in my flop play.  I think the call was awful.  I should have just shoved.  As it were, i realize that if I check, HE is shoving.  I decide the only play is to shove first and at least put pressure on him and take back control of the hand.  I shove, and he tanks.  I know I'm good.  He ends up folding.  He had nothing, and thought I had nothing, and was trying to steal the hand on the flop.  I feel like I butchered the hand on the flop; but realized my mistake in time to recover...

All afternoon, the kid directly to my right was a pain in my ass.  He raised every third hand.  And he'd barrel the flop, turn and, often, the river, getting fold after fold after fold.  He built his stack up to $700 quickly.  And, all afternoon, I was getting small pocket pairs.  He'd raise to $12 or to $15, and I'd call, just waiting for that set to hit the flop.  I knew if I could just hit a set, I'd take him for a few hundred.  Unfortunately, I defied the odds, and never hit my set.  Instead, I walked away after 4 hours down $45.  I could have been worse.

Friday, November 8, 2013

P3's Friday Afternoon Rant:

After the contractor left this morning, at around 11:00 am, I left for work, and decided to stop off for coffee on the way.  There is a high school a block from the coffee shop.  I must have rolled in right as lunch period began, because there were roaming hoards of teenage punks hanging out in the parking lot, in the coffee shop, and in the pizza joint across the way.  A fucken nightmare.  Perhaps the only thing worse than young kids are teenagers.  
I waited in line for a simple medium coffee, whilst these entitled fucks ordered a variety of drinks which basically amounted to caffeinated milkshakes, and each took about 5 minutes to make.  Hell, when I was in high school, you went to school, and you fucken stayed there until it was time to leave, and then took the bus home.  You didn't leave mid day and hang out at a coffee shop, or a pizza place, or a parking lot.  Hell, when I was in high school, I didn't have money to buy lunch in the cafeteria, let alone spring for a $6 beverage at Starbucks (presumably on top of lunch). 
So, all the while, I'm waiting on line, trying not to want to kill myself, and being forced to endure their insipid conversations. The only thing soothing my rage was the thought that, somewhere, were the parents of these bitch-ass-punks and, at some point, they were going to have to spend their weekend dealing with them.  I, on the other hand, would be drinking a single malt, watching football and playing poker . . .
Absorbing some of the conversation by osmosis, I could hardly understand half the words.  I was also trying not to stare too long (like, creepy long) at the 16 year olds in yoga pants.  I mean, when I was in high school, girls did not dress like this.  It would take 4 or 5 beers and a bit of good fortune on a Friday night to see what I saw today at 11:00 am in a coffee shop.  And, while perhaps I'm off base here, I'd assume if you are dressing like this for school, there must be some explicit cell-phone selfies lurking somewhere.  If I was these girls' father, I'd just fucken shoot myself now.  To all my friends with young daughters who will soon be of this age group, good-fucken-luck, sirs.  As for the guys . . . what a bunch of jokers.  I mean, if these kids are "cool," then I no longer know what "cool" is.
I eventually got my coffee, and decided to show these punks what "cool" is, hopping into my G37, rolling back the moonroof and the windows, and exiting the parking lot with haste, radio pumping at a 10 and some sweet, sweet Steve Winwood blasting from the Bose speakers.  Bring me some Higher Love, yo!  
-P3 out   

Monday, November 4, 2013

Don't F*ck with Vegas!

Vegas don't give free money away.  If something looks too easy, it prolly is.
Going into this weekend, I fully expected the Jets to get spanked . . . again.  Brees in East Rutherford isn't Brees in the dome.  Still, I was anticipating a solid 16 point Saints win.  Then I took a look at the line:  Saints -6.  Interesting.  Vegas was begging for Saints money.  I figured this would be closer than expected.  I did not, however, anticipate this:

It was a frosty Sunday in the swamp in Jersey.  One of those mornings where no one even wants to stick their hand into the icy cooler to pluck a cold breakfast beer.  Yet, Chris Ivory and company made it worth while.
At 5-4, the Jets remain in the AFC Wildcard hunt and have a somewhat favorable schedule the rest of the way.  I came in to this season expecting 3 wins.  Now, for the first time, my hopes are up.  Seems like the perfect spot for the Jets to once again be the Jets and crush my new-found spirit. 
After dealing with some renovation related deliveries Saturday morning, I hit the road for Atlantic City.  I arrived around 4:00 and, after checking in to Showboat, cabbed over to Caesars to hit up Toga bar for the Florida-Georgia game and grind some sweet, sweet video poker.  I had hardly racked up 20 tier credits and when I hit this:

I had gone three years without hitting deuces.  I've now hit it twice the past six months.  I think that qualifies as a heater!

I cashed out my profits and went over to Harry's Oyster Bar to focus on some college football.  An hour or so later, I went back to Caesars to grind a few more hands.   Within 5 minutes, I hit this:

I cashed out and grabbed dinner at Mortons.  Afterwards, I played a single shoe of black jack back at Showboat and cashed out up $280.  A solid finish to a profitable day.
Sunday morning began with an early wake up and a two hour drive up the Garden State Parkway to Met Life Stadium.  After the game, I went directly back to AC and checked in to a comped room at Borgata to grind a few more hours of sweet, sweet VP.  Borgata is one of the last places in AC that has 100 hand machines.  I took a seat and, after thirty minutes of play, got dealt the hand I was waiting for:
Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the evening at Borgata, as I ended up giving a bit of Saturday's profits back.  In the end, I was, however, able to book a winning weekend. 
Because of time limitations, I wasn't able to play any poker.  Good thing its only 4 days until the next weekend.