Monday, March 01, 2004

On the Road Again

Went travelling again over the weekend. Two of the days, there were three of us, and the fourth day it was just Gil and I. I didn't turn out to do that well, but as it happened, none of us did.

Friday, after a successful (+$180) morning on PartyPoker (does anyone notice that I don't provide precise details on my losing days?), Gil, Dave and I went down to the Trump in Gary. Gil and Dave sat $3/$6 on different tables, and I sat $5/$10, of course on a different table.

I've only done well at $5/$10 once there, but I'm also on a big losing streak there overall ... ever since a +$750 weekend there at $5/$10 and $10/$20, I haven't even been able to beat their $3/$6 game, and I've now given back a good chunk more than that $750.

True to form, I drop $117 in the three or four hours we were there, while Dave goes up a little bit and Gil goes up a lot.

These long drives are really starting to wear on me. I've posted the law on cardrooms and gambling, and it seems there won't be any cardrooms opened until there is legislative action to allow it. This being an election year, that's not likely until next year, when the Gun Lake casino should be open anyway. But it really sucks to have to drive more than two hours each way to get to a casino, especially when you do it two or three times a week.

The Toughest $4/$8 Game Anywhere

Saturday morning Gil wakes me up and asks if I'm up for a trip to Manistee and the Little River Casino. I still consider this my "home" casino, even if lately I've been spending more time at the Trump. As I've said before, this casino, through featuring a large cast of regulars and not usually dealing anything bigger than $4/$8 Holdem, ends up being a very tough game. Dave suffers the most for this, his game being the least sophisticated of the three of us. The table I start on, and Gil moves to, is the less tough of the two games, but Dave isn't able to move before they open a new game. He moves to the new game, but he has a short stack, and his frustration sends him out to the car for a nap before he has a chance to rally.

Gil takes Dave back home, since Dave really isn't interested in staying the night, and Gil himself is done for the day (he says three or four hours is as long as he can concentrate). However, I decide to stay the night, since I know that the next day Gil is going to want to play somewhere, and I don't want to spend the four or five hours in the car in between. Gil takes his $50 or $75 in winnings and cashes out, and he and Dave head back to Grand Rapids.

I'm up about the same at this point, but right after they leave I go on a rally and get to about +$325. A great day, if I stop there, but I don't. I've said before, knowing that it's a silly superstition, that I seem to have a "ceiling" of +$200 at that casino. When I get to that point, where I start stacking my stacks of $2 chips on a second level, then I stop winning at best, and start losing at worst.

Tonight is no exception: After losing a couple of ordinary pots (outkicked, or outdrawn, whatever, just not that big and not that big a deal), that day's big hand occurs. With 77 in the hole, the board flops 799, and I'm happy. I won a big pot earlier in the day through flopping a full house, and I am counting my winnings again. However, I still have the underfull, so I can't slowplay. After the second raise, everyone is out of the hand except one younger fellow (whom I think of that way, even though he's probably my age) who has been playing oddball hands. I (correctly) put him on a single 9, and happily continue to raise and cap with him.

Unfortunately, his other card is a 10, and when a 10 falls on the turn, I'm down to one out and I don't know it. I end up losing about $100 on that one pot, and he rakes in around a $300 pot total.

I do my best not to tilt, but I must have, or at least I was tired, because I end up losing most of the pots I'm in from that point. When I finally stand up around 12:00 or 12:30, I am back to my original buyin, less $11. Kind of a depressing day, actually, although as they say, the next best thing to playing poker and winning, is playing poker and losing.

The Table of Dreams, with Gil as the Alarm Clock

I set the alarm to get back to the room as soon as it opens, which is about 10:00, and sit down with all of the tough players, the regulars. I win a couple of hands quickly, and go up about $100, but bleed it off slowly until they open the third table, where I move with $100 left of my $200 buyin.

This turns out to be the table of dreams. Gil, it turns out, moved there too, having done just about as well at his (the second) table. And between us, so that we are arranged in the 7-8-9 seats, is another good player -- the only other good player. There are at least five and maybe seven people on this table who don't have a clue. Two or three are the best kinds of calling stations, but the rest are willing to throw in a raise here and there, occasionally with nothing at all. Too much TV, I'm guessing.

Unfortunately, most of their money ends up in the hands of the player (Andy) between Gil and I. I go up and down, but Gil goes almost entirely down. I keep explaining to him that the nature of the table is that it will be high-variance, but he is getting frustrated. He plays the $5 and $10 Sit-n-Go's on PartyPoker, not the 50¢/$1 or $1/$2 tables, so he isn't used to how to play against calling stations (apparently). He gets frustrated at losing, and pulls us out of the dream at about 5:30.

I'm still a bit ticked off about this. This is the type of table that poker players dream about. Every poker book says that the decision to stand up should be based on whether the table is profitable, not on your frustration or whatever. And this table was so profitable that if you were losing, the right move is to keep going to the ATM until the thing explodes. Gil didn't see much of it, and I lost to suckouts as often as I won, but we should never have left this table.

You had WHAT?

But I have to talk about the hand, on this table, where I really love my play. Even though I lost, I'd call my play actually brilliant.

I was in the cutoff with 79♥. On this type of table, I plan to play this hand for one bet -- it's about 6-to-1 that I'll flop something really nice, a straight or flush draw particularly.

But under-the-gun (one of the fish) raises, Gil reraises, and Andy cold-calls three bets. I think about this for a second, and, figuring that at least one of the calling stations behind me will call a capped bet, I put in the last raise. The button and small blind disappoint me, but the big blind puts in three more bets, and we have a five-way capped pot preflop, $82 before the rake.

The flop is Qxx, no hearts, and in fact no help to me whatsoever. But the blind and under-the-gun check, Gil puts in a bet, and Andy folds. I think for a second ... I'm pretty sure the blind and under-the-gun won't call two more bets. I have an opportunity to get heads-up with Gil, and have a pretty good idea what he has, and so I take it -- I raise with absolutely nothing. As expected, the blind and under-the-gun both fold, and Gil just calls.

Now I know that Gil can't beat a pair of queens. In fact, the likeliest things he could have are AK, TT, or JJ; I can't see him three-betting preflop with anything else. I should have put him on JJ specifically, because the others are pretty unlikely hands for him to three-bet, unless (maybe) the AK was suited.

If I'd thought about it further, I would have realized that JJ means that from his point of view he has a two-outer -- to a stone bluff! When that occurred to me later, I was heartily amused.

As it happened, a J fell on the turn, and Gil either bet out, or he check-raised (I don't remember), but he showed strength that wasn't there a moment ago. I still didn't have him on JJ specifically, although that should have been obvious; but I did know that I wasn't going to get him out of the pot and there was nothing that could have fallen on the river that would have given me a hand. So I folded.

I was coy about my hand at the time, answering queries -- "What did you have?" with deflection -- "A losing hand." But I think now that my opponents should have concluded that I had KK, the only thing consistent with my betting patterns. Unless they picked up on my giggling glee, or whatever it was, for the next half-hour over my own clever play. I don't think that the way I capped preflop was particularly consistent with reading my hand as AA; I don't think I was strong enough or fake-weak enough to be representing aces.

Gil and I did enter Tuesday's tournament; we haven't been to one there yet. The blinds look like they might go up a bit too fast, but the other players seem happy with them. Hopefully I have a repeat of my performance at the Orleans, and not a repeat of my performance at Hal's home game.