Saturday, February 14, 2004

Down ... and Up

After a poor couple of days playing online in which I was down anywhere from $600 to $800, depending on where you start from, but $600 since I reported my "week 1" figures, I finally got it back playing live poker.

Gil and I went to check out Trump Casino outside Chicago, where Gil had heard (presumably via rec.gambling.poker, which he reads more than I do) that they had opened a poker room. (This is officially "riverboat gambling," but in Lake Michigan.)

We'd been to Harrah's in East Chicago, which is across a small bay from the Trump in Gary, Indiana, but neither of us was particularly impressed. They cram too many tables into the room, but mostly, the rake is 10% of the pot up to $6, plus $1 for the bad beat jackpot. Pretty bad. (In fact, on our way to the Trump, we passed a billboard for Harrah's poker room which said "Now with $5 rake!" Ooh, pinch me.)

The Trump rakes 5% up to $5, and only adds to the bad beat jackpot at the $3/$6 and $5/$10 tables. Plus, we heard as we were leaving that they offer a $39 room rate to members of their players' club -- in other words, to anyone with positive ID. So right away we're given to like the room. It also happens to be nicely set up, with about a dozen tables (the type with cupholders in the rail) spread apart nicely, and room for another four to six tables in the future. Many of the dealers showed their inexperience, but this should fix itself over time.

Gil and I arrived Friday afternoon at maybe 2:00 local time, when the highest-limit game they had was $5/$10. This started as a very tough game, because the game had in it a lot of players who were waiting for higher-limit (including no-limit!) games to open. As they filtered away into the $10/$20 and eventually into the no-limit games, the game got easier, but never easier than when a new player sat down with a full rack of red.

Gil and I had him trapped between us on one hand where I had QQ and Gil had JJ, and he kept having to call one or two bets where we capped preflop and postflop. There was a K on the flop, too, which made both of our plays pretty gutsy, but we were pretty sure Newbie wasn't taking it down. He mucked after Gil did when the river came out, but the river was a Q, so he was unlikely to have me beat anyway. That turned out to be almost a $200 pot, which was nice.

I won $263 Friday, but Gil didn't do as well, losing nearly $400. I think for a long time Gil was playing scared, because his big holdings didn't get good flops, or if they did, got beat. After a while he had sort of a shell-shocked look on his face, and stopped raising with his good holdings.

We left about 8:30 local time, because I hadn't got much sleep the night before and because Gil was in financial pain. We started back, but Gil figured he'd want to play again somewhere on Saturday, so we might as well stay nearby. We grabbed a room at a Super-8 about twenty miles back toward home.

And so we were up bright and early on Saturday to have breakfast and get to the casino at maybe 7 or 8AM local time, far earlier than most locals got there. In fact, when I sat down at the $10/$20 table, all three (!) of the other players had been on the table since the night before. Gil, still feeling the pain, sat down at $3/$6.

I normally like my short-handed play, but I never really accomplished much at the table, fluctuating between $50 down and $150 up for the first couple of hours. Not until the table filled up (when I was already up $100 or $150) did I hit my big hands, and big pots, and so when we left (fairly early again) I was up $510. There's something nice about having the cashier lay out $1000 for you; even if you bought in for $500, that's still a thousand freaking dollars there on the counter.

Also it was nice to have a good day at $10/$20, since there were a number of good players on the table, including one who I gathered was a pro. (Well, shit, so was I, now that I think about it.) There was really only one sucker on the table, and even he would do well at a lower-limit game. My take compares very favorably to the first time I sat $10/$20, at the Mirage in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago. (See my trip report in my January archives.)

Gil did pretty well, too, going up nearly $200 at $3/$6. He said the table was almost perfect, with a lot of people seeing flops for one bet, and so Gil played a lot of Ax-suited hands for the flush draw ... correctly. He figures he only played ten or twelve hands to showdown the whole time, but won nearly all of them for huge pots. Strangely, he lamented the game because there was no challenge to it. Considering that his biggest customer is late paying him, taking the money sounds to me like a far better idea than playing for the challenge.

Most Amusing Moment ...

... was when I came back from the restroom, past some of the other table games, and noticed a big sign above one which said "TRUMP CRAPS."