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.
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.
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,