DC

DC

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How High is Too High?

It' Super Bowl Sunday, and I'm back from two days in Baltimore, grinding dem pokerz at the Horseshoe.  I played three sessions over the two days -- a late 4 hour run Friday night; an early  3.5 hour afternoon session saturday; and a late 3 hour session Saturday evening.  A little over 10 hours total.  I was card dead the better part of the weekend -- long stretches of an hour or so without any playable hands.  I was committed to staying patient.  And, in the end, I finished up $140 Friday night; break-even to the dollar saturday afternoon; and up $210 Saturday night.  I also was able to turn $45 in free play into $255.  A good weekend.

I tried to play tight, mistake free poker.  I think I generally succeeded in this approach, with one exception detailed below.  I do, however, feel like I may have been too "limpy" . . .  In between the long runs of J-3, 8-4; 9-3's, I found a few K-Q / A-J type hands, always in early or middle position.   I choose to limp them, with the idea that if I hit the flop, and then faced significant resistance post flop, I'd just get away from the hand.  The way it worked out, while I was able to see some cheap flops, I ended up missing each time, so the hands cost me the minimum $3.  Of course, it's possible I could have raised some of these hands, and then taken down some small pots with C-bets.  But, then again, I also could have lost a decent amount with this approach.  I'm curious on peoples' thoughts on limping these types of hands from early to middle position.

Friday Night

I left work around 6:30 Friday night, and checked in to the Westin around 7:50.  Although I had been pumped to play poker all afternoon, by the time I got to my room, I was fading.  I decided to grab dinner a the bar downstairs and, perhaps, just spend the evening renting a movie.  I headed downstairs with my copy of Phil Gordon's Little Blue Book in hand, grabbed a beer and some food, and read a bit.  By 9:00, I started regaining my motivation, and decided to head to the Horseshoe down the road.

I sat down around 9:15 in the 10 seat, and bought in for $300.  54 minutes went by without a playable hand. Fun times.  Then, finally, I was dealt A(c) J(c) under the gun.  Less than ideal. I decided to limp it.  It folded around to the cut-off -- a dealer at Maryland Live, and a decent player, who was sitting on about $1,400.  He bumped to $16.  The small blind, sitting on $200 or so, called.  I was anxious to get involved in a hand.  But A-J out of position could be problematic.  I thought about seeing a flop in hopes of hitting a broadway or nut flush draw.  But, in the end, I folded.  The flop came out A high, and Mr. Dealer and the small blind went to war, ultimately building a $300 pot.  When the cards were flipped, the small blind actually had A-J too.  But Mr. Dealer had him dominated with AQ.  I felt like I dodged a bullet.

A few minutes later, I was dealt 99 in the small blind.  There were 4 limpers in front.  Is this a check or a raise?  I opted to check.  My thinking was, based on the table dynamic, if I raised to $16 or so, I'd likely still get 2 or 3 calls, and would be in trouble if any over cards hit.  So, I checked, and missed the flop.  Another $3 loss.

I made all of my profit Friday night on two hands.  The first was with J(c) T(c).  I limp from early position.  Middle position raises to $11 and gets a caller.  I call.  The flop is T 9 7.  Not bad.  Top pair and a gut-shot.  I check, Mr. Dealer bets $20 and gets a call from an older guy, who is sitting on about $225.  I call.  The turn is the 8 I need.   Mr Dealer bets $55 and old guy calls.  QT has me crushed.  But I can't put either villain on this specific hand.  I decide to raise to $145.  Dealer quickly mucks.  Old guy tanks, and ultimately folds 88 face up.  

Hand number two saw me limp into a pot from UTG with 22.  The flop was J2J.  Pretty good.  It checks to old guy from the hand above.  He bets $10.  I just call.  The turn is a 5.  I check, and he checks.  The river is a King.  I'm not sure what old guy has that's going to call a bet on this board.  I opt to check again.  This time, old man bets $15.  I raise to $45.  He tanks and, this time, calls with 99.  Not sure if I could have gotten more value from this hand by betting the turn.  

I wrapped up my night at about 1:00 am and headed back to the Westin.

Saturday

I woke up around 11:00 Saturday and went over the the Shoe to burn some free play.  I ended up getting a hot machine, hitting quads 4 times in just over an hour.  I turned $45 into $250 and drove back to the Westin to work out for an hour or so.

I returned to the casino around 4:15 and got seated after a 15 minute wait when a new table opened.   The table had the makings of a profitable session.  One reg with a PARX Poker sweatshirt on, three "hillbillies" from West Virginia, a middle-aged black woman, drinking bud lights and wearing a "Las Vegas" T-shirt that, she proudly explained, her daughter, who actually went to Vegas!!!! had bought her.  And a guy who was soooo fucken high, his eyes were rolling back into his head in between hands.  Or, maybe he wasn't so high, as the table later came to find out.   In any event, while the dealer worked on getting set up, there was some friendly table talk.  The hillbillies wanted to know if the Horseshoe was affiliated with Charles Town Casino in West Virginia.  They also were quite concerned with the inner workings of the bad beat.  Good signs they would be soft.  Then, the hillbillies and Ms. Vegas got into a serious discussion of whether or not you could take a cruise to Vegas.  Um.  Let that sink in for a minute.  You see, apparently, the hillbilly to my right was a big fan of cruise, and would love to take a cruise to Vegas.  While the table advised that there was no place close to Vegas into which you could take a cruise ship, the table consensus was, nevertheless, that one COULD, in fact, take a cruise that went to Vegas.  You could sail into a nearby port, and then take a bus to Vegas.  They were convinced this was possible.  Um.  I wonder if this cruise would also stop by Britni's magical city of Atlantis?  The kid directly to my left seemed normal.  I turned and asked him, "is this really happening?"  He confirmed.

So, eventually, some cards were played.  I picked up right were I left off.  Card. Dead.  I went 38 minutes without playing a hand.  The whole time, I was transfixed by the High-Guy.   When he sat at the table, he tried to buy in for $1,500.  And he was playing hands.  Like, a lot.  And aggressively.   And he was winning!  While I was folding hand after hand, High-Guy quickly turned $300 into $1,200.  It was insane.  And with hands like J-5, 7-4, etc.  Consistently hitting two-pair  . . . runner-runner flush, and everything else you could imagine.  Raising, re-raising, making big river bets . . . barely able to get his chips across the betting line without making a mess.  It was a sight.   On one hand, he went to war with AK on an Ace-high board, getting AJ to stack off for nearly $300.  Another hand, he button straddled to $15, got 4 callers, then re-popped to $60.  He got two calls.  Ultimately, the table was shocked when he turned over  . . . QQ for the winning hand.  Yes, this High-Guy was simply abusing the table with magic like QQ on a button straddle.  While he was clearly getting lucky hitting cards, he was, at the same time, getting incredible value for his hands.  What was the deal?  Well, after an hour or so, my hillbilly friend ran into High-Guy out on the smoking deck, and came back to report to the table that, in fact, High-Guy might not really be so high.   He claimed he was able to carry on a very cogent and lucid conversation.  Well, if it was an act, it was award winning.  I mean, the dude's eyes were rolling into his head in between hands.  Slurred speech.  And he maintained this schtick for several hours.   

Eventually, of course, I found myself in a hand with High-Guy.  I was pumped.  I had not played a hand yet, when I looked down at K(h) Q(h) in the small blind.  High guy limped, along with my Hillbilly friend (who was in the big blind).  I opted to limp in as well to see the flop: Q(c) 8(h) 2(d).  I checked and it checked around.  The turn was the 5(h), giving me top pair and second nut flush draw. I lead out for $16 from the small blind.  High guy calls, and offers, "whhhaaaat ddaa heeelll . . . I donate . . ."  River is a black 8, pairing the board.  No flush, but I have top pair, second kicker.  I check, sort of hoping high-guy bluffs.  Well, he does not disappoint.  High-guy clumsily pushes out a $100 stack.  Yes, $100 into a $40 pot.  Now what?  What is this guy doing?  Missed flush draw?  Stone cold spazz?  Or an 8?  Now, while this guy had been raking chips and getting lucky, he had NOT been caught bluffing.  But, after having it hand after hand after hand for an hour or so, and building a $1,200 stack, isn't this the perfect time for him to bluff?  I keep starring at this clown, who is sitting across from me, with a $100 river bet in front of him, and his eyes completely closed.  But, again, hillbilly says the guy is NOT that messed up.  Fuck it.  I call.   High-Guy flips 8-4 and adds another $150 to his monster stack.  

And, with that, I'm on tilt.  Why did I pay him off?  When will I learn this lesson: 

"If a player at a $1/3 game bets like he has TPTK beat, the player at the $1/3 game has TPTK beat . . ."  

If a player at a $1/3 game plays a hand like he has an overpair beat, the player at the $1/3 game has an overpair beat . . ." 

If I could stop trying to "outthink" players . . . If I could stop feeling like someone is trying to outplay me and making "stand-my-ground" calls . . . I'd plug a huge damn leak in my game.

After my bad call, I got up, walked over to the diamond lounge and grabbed a beer.  I needed to regroup.  I was down $165 and fuming.  One mistake.  One damn mistake.  I added $100 in green chips from my pocket -- in the game for $400.  Fortunately, I was able to grind back to exactly even.  This strange hand helped:

After 4 limpers, I look down at KK in the small blind.  I raise to $22.  Old guy in middle position (also a hillbilly) limp-shoves $96.   Now, I did not read him for AA.  Rather, my take was that he had a decent hand . . . figured it was worth $22 . . . and then just said, "fuck it - if I'm gonna call $22, I might as well just shove."  In any event, even if AA was in his range, not sure I'm folding KK in that spot when my downside is limited to another $76.  So, I quickly call.  The board runs out QT357 and guy ables QJ.   Scoop it...

Around 8:00, having worked my stack back to even, I decided to grab dinner.  I cabbed over to Morton's at the Inner Harbor for a filet and a few glasses of the Morton's Primal Cut Cabernet - always a solid choice.  

I returned to the tables around 10:00, with a decent buzz going.  I again bought in for the max $300.  I played a bit more aggressive, raising hands like 99 and AJ, and taking down pots with C-bets.  I got some decent cards too, including a flopped set of QQ's.  I was able to build up a $200 profit fairly easily without much resistance.  Around 1:00am, I decided to call it a weekend . . .

***

In retrospect, I really should try to keep my expenses down on these weekends, and see whether I can actually start making some money.  This weekend, for instance, I spent approximately $350 on hotels and steaks.  I was able to cover the expenses (and them some) with winnings.  But, over the long haul, it's not a winning formula.  Staying at the Westin 10 miles from the casino is convenient; but I think I need to just suck it up and start making the 45 to 50 minute drive back-and forth from my home.  

I'm also committed to playing less VP on typical weekends.  My goal is to hit Diamond at Caesars again this year by playing almost exclusively poker and grinding free play.  So far, I've earned just under 2,000 tier points this month taking this approach, so it may actually be possible.  I think I'll save my big-donking weekends for those rare trips to AC and vacations to Vegas.

***

Until next Friday,

P3

37 comments:

  1. Re: The limping question. Whether or not this is a good plan, is in my mind, entirely dependent on the table composition and your own post flop play abilities. If you are going to limp it has to be the kind of table that will allow you to do that and not get stuck making hard decisions pre-flop about calling raises. Because I play mostly limit I might limp with these hands at a table where I can be fairly well assured that there will be 5 or so players seeing the flop regardless of the number of pre-flop raises.

    Post flop if you are in early against a number of callers I think you have to be a little more conservative in the pot odds analysis and choose your spots to chase.

    In the raise, c-bet scenario, I think you have to tend to believe a couple of things, one that your raise may take the pot or at least leave you heads up, and/or post flop your table image and players you are c-betting in front of are likely to fold. If you don't tend to believe those things it would seem like you are committing more money than needed out of position.

    I have come to the conclusion that playing tight is, in fact, lazy play in most instances. I think table composition, and who is in the pot, especially at lower limits, has much more importance than people give it. I don't remember where I read it but somewhere I read that at a loose table you want to be a little tighter than the table and at a tight table you want to be a little looser. I think one of my leaks is that I do not open my game up enough when I should.

    I also think to some extent pot odds are crutch used too much. If ever I find myself thinking I have pot odds I have to call I am trying to take another moment and figure out if that's really true given the information I have available to me.

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    1. "In the raise, c-bet scenario, I think you have to tend to believe a couple of things, one that your raise may take the pot or at least leave you heads up, and/or post flop your table image and players you are c-betting in front of are likely to fold. If you don't tend to believe those things it would seem like you are committing more money than needed out of position."

      This is the problem, lately. It seems like raises are called in multiple spots, often by marginal hands, and C-Bets are basically useless. I don't think it's necessarily a matter of image. Rather, I think its bad players who make bad calls and/or chase.

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  2. CET is matching tier points through March so you are well on your way. You might just take $500 down to AC and make a big push some weekend soon and consider it done. Get your Diamond renewed, set yourself up for comps, and then you don't have to hit a CET property unless it fits. Spend some time at MGM properties in Vegas this summer while letting CET pay for the rooms. Good luck sir.

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    1. Yeah; not a bad plan. I'll be up in AC President's Day weekend, and may just grind the 100 hand VP machines in the morning . . . hit the 1000 tier point mark, get the 1000 bonus, etc . . .

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  3. I'm curious on peoples' thoughts on limping these types of hands from early to middle position.

    I play mostly tournaments and would never limp -- either just raise or fold. Cash is different, though. If they don't punish you, I thinking limping against mostly tourists is just fine. In one of Ed Miller's books, he says limping is fine if you occasionally limp with something good as well to balance your range. I don't really think that is necessary, however, in most low stakes tables.

    Sounds like you played great (other than the one bad call).

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  4. Youve got to raise or fold in those spots IMO.

    You are never taking it down pre by limping. You are creating good odds for everyone behind you to trail in with all sorts of weird hands that could have you in jeopardy even with TPGK

    By raising you may even get some hands that have great equity against you to fold pre.

    Aggressive poker is winning poker period end of story.

    Playing weak and limping alot is not a winning formula.

    If you raise, Cbet a high percentage when checked to you...f you encounter resistance...reevaluate.

    If you are uncomfortable playing AJ AT KQ and KJ from up front....fold and wait for a better spot.

    As to small pairs...limp away create better odds on your 12% hand....don't play them for raises in short handed pots....it just bleeds chips you need for larger double ups later.

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    1. Thanks, Bill. It seems like, lately, at least where I've been playing, a $12 (4x) raise from middle or early position either (a) takes down the pot (basically, the blinds) or gets called in 4 or 5 spots. And, in the latter scenario, the C-Bet hardly ever works. Add in the fact that, if you raise and HIT your hand with AJ or KQ, you may actually be dominated. This is what has lead me to be limpy, lately.

      I know, however, that in theory, your advice is correct. So, perhaps the correct move is to simply fold those hands (unless there is a different table dynamic than the one I described above). Folding is easier when you actually get some decent hands in position. But, on nights like I had last weekend, where you get no decent hands in position, the urge to limp in and make a mistake is irresistible!

      Thanks for taking the time to respond!

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  5. y do u have a Jeff Gordon book??? isnt he a Nascar driver??? Plus u can NEVER b 2 HIGH. NEVER!!

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  6. also i am going to book a cruise to yr brother restaurant too. i think the Poudre/Big Thompson river run close to it.does he serve Mtn Dew there??

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    1. Not sure about Mtn Dew, but prolly has fried Twinkies and Oreos.

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  7. I agree, you need to start keeping your expenses down. Stop taking Uber, those $800 cab rides, and paying for hookers. Wait, whose blog is this again?

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  8. I played with this guy before. He is on high sometimes, but, his poker senses are not affected. It is hard to put him on a hand as he mostly plays ATC.

    It is better to be aggressive against him. I heard he was involved in some rift at Live for the tournaments. But, I am not sure.

    As to limping with big hands you need to be cautious as you are allowing a lot of ATC's to come in for cheap. As an example Q53 rainbow. A guy who wouldn't fold 35/Q3/Q5 for $2 would get a dream flop. We can still win, if the board pairs, but, why fight a loosing battle.

    GolfPro

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  9. Here are some interesting Phil Gordon's take on playing pocket 9's:

    s.i.

    Phil Gordon on Pocket Nines

    Phil Gordon has been playing poker since he retired from the high-tech industry in 1997 and with career earnings exceeding one million dollars and a World Poker Tour title to his credit, I'd say he's doing pretty well.

    His book, Phil Gordon's Little Green Book, has a story about how he played pocket nines preflop in a tournament.

    Gordon was in position with pocket nines facing a few limpers. Gordon says that he usually raises nines in this situation, but decided to limp instead and ended up winning a massive pot when he made a set.

    Gordon points out that he could have won a small pot by raising preflop, but by limping instead he set himself up to win a massive pot when he flopped a set. When you limp with pocket nines, you allow other speculative hands to see a flop and these are the hands that will pay you off when you flop a set.

    Take, for example, a player who limps with 67 in middle position. What do you think is going to happen when the flop comes 6-7-9? Do you think that player is getting away from this hand? No way! That's exactly the kind of flop they wanted to see. If you raised preflop, this opponent would have folded and you'd win a small pot with your set. What a shame.

    Phil Gordon's story illustrates how limping can be right when you have pocket nines.

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    1. I like Ed Miller's take:

      s.i.

      Ed Miller On Pocket Nines

      Ed Miller is a brilliant poker strategist that refuses to play only one style of poker. According to Miller, pocket nines is a hand that can be played in a variety of different ways from all positions depending on whether you're playing loose or tight poker. Here's how Miller recommends pocket nines in a variety of situations.

      How Loose Players Should Play 99 Preflop

      Early Position- Raise an unopened pot and re-raise a raise, but fold to a re-raise.

      Middle Position- Raise an unraised pot and re-raise a raise, but fold to a re-raise.

      Late Position- Raise an unraised pot and call a raise if there are at least three people in the pot, but fold to a re-raise.

      The Blinds- Raise an unraised pot and call a raise, but fold to a re-raise.

      How Tight Players Should Play 99 Preflop

      Early Position- Limp in early position and fold to a substantial raise.

      Middle Position- Raise an unraised pot or call a raise, but fold to a re-raise.

      Late Position- Raise an unraised pot or call a raise if there are at least three other callers, but fold to a re-raise.

      The Blinds- Raise an unraised pot or call a raise, but fold to a re-raise.

      Miller recommends that loose players represent a bigger hand with their nines by playing them stronger. This aggressive style of play requires excellent post-flop skills. However this strategy can be very profitable in the hands of the right player.

      Miller's advice for tight players is more my style. Play your nines for set value in early position and raise with them in later positions to set up a steal on the flop.

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    2. It's funny; I actually read that hand history from his book at the hotel bar before I went out to play. I was thinking of it when I limped those 9's . . . Sadly, no huge pot for me!

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    3. I wonder what Miller's thought is, for a tight player to limp from early position; but raise from the blinds? I understand you are closing the pre-flop action and have a better shot of taking the pot down preflop. I assume that's the rationale? because, assuming there is a flop, you are in the same spot post flop . . .

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    4. P.S. Thanks for the comments, s.i. !!! What Ed Miller Book is this from?

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    5. P3:

      I'm guessing you're right; there would be enough money in there to try to take it down pre. I like his take on playing it aggressively (however, I'll be honest and say I don't have the balls to play it that way in the blinds), with 3-betting them from the blinds and folding to a 4 bet.

      The site I visited didn't cite sources, so I'm not sure which of Miller's books it's from. Here's the link:

      http://www.poker-tomorrow.com/poker/strategy/texas-holdem/nines/

      s.i.

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  10. Why in the world are you staying 10 miles away? Is there a free shuttle?

    Even then your time, counselor, is worth much more- even when gambling.

    -JP

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    1. I drive 10 miles to stay at a NICE place, u see. It has INDOOR hallways and the manager got me a fridge in the room.

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    2. I see what you did there! Nice use of caps, too.

      s.i.

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  11. LOL I know the guy in your pic relatively well. He looks bad here tho.

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    1. So, Brian . . . was it an act? Tiredness (did he play all night)? What's his story?

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    2. Not really sure...haven't seen him in quite some time. He is/was a good player. Not great but pretty solid. I heard he has been mixed up in some drug stuff so I can certainly believe your story and obv based on pics doesn't look good.

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  12. That cruise ship to Vegas has a stopover at Eastern Island.

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    1. I thought it stopped in Atlantis. Not the Bahamas resort -- the city beneath the sea.

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  13. Just an FYI that I just got comped this entire weekend at Harrah's Resort (AC). CET doesn't normally hook me up these days, so I assume you will get the same thing. Even better, TBC won't be there.

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    1. Thanks for the heads up, Tarpie. I actually booked a comp room there for Friday, sat, sun . . . Was planning on driving back to DC early Monday. But, the weather looks a little shaky Sunday/Monday, and my car sucks in the snow. So, I may cancel and just play the Shoe agai

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  14. Welcome to baltimore. Yes u got duped. I know high guy very well. Surprised he's playing 1/3 must have been a soft table for him to sit at. You will never turn a significant profit in Baltimore by playing ABC poker. As a former baltimore grinder who now lives elsewhere your tight play with no variation will never be very profitable. We know how u play yet u have no idea our range. We may put a little in with 7 4 but if we hit we will take A LOT from your aces. But this is too complex for u I'm sure. That high guy plays that to award winning levels but in reality is a SOLID poker player and cashes nightly.

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  15. Bro u get no props for posting that dudes pic.. If u wanna blog bout him that's one thing but to sneak a pic of him and post it is really fu*ked up..ur mad cuz he over bet a pot (which in case u don't know is a strategy) and u paid him off...expand your range and maybe you to can have some fun at the table n book a real win.. Just admit it to.yourself..he outplayed you..that's the bottom line..like someone else already said..your ABC poker won't work in Baltimore bro..

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    1. Perhaps you are right about the pictures. Your point is taken; and the pictures have been removed.

      And yeah, he did out play me. As I mentioned in the post, he knew how to get value for his hands and my impression was actually that he was a good player.

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    2. Let's face it: shouldn't pros be kicking the asses of rec players? Why is that a surprise?

      I really get a kick out of pros who are dicks to the rec players at tables. Hopefully the guys who snark here anonymously act a little nicer to guys at the table. Anytime a grinder is a dick, I shut down and determine that there is no way the guy will get money off me. I usually move to another table, hopefully after taking some cashish that he will never get back from me.

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    3. During a session at The Venetian I got lucky and sucked out on a local grinder who had me on the hook for a big pot. He would not shut up about what a bad player I was. After maybe ten minutes of him going on non-stop about how lucky I got and how much better a player he was than me, I finally had enough and as I racked up my chips I told the guy, "You know what? You probably are a better player than me and probably would have won these chips back eventually, but since you can't shut up about it I'm leaving with your money and you won't have the chance."

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