Tuesday, August 03, 2004

No-Limit: LIVE! (part II)

A winning week assured, I returned to Little River on Monday for the no-limit game I was sure would be dealt after the day's tournament. My intent was to burn off some comp points and stay at the casino, and play the same game Tuesday.

The drive up was an adrenaline rush. The weather was hot and humid when I left the house, but basically clear. However, I drove through two big thunderstorms on the way up, the kind where people either pull off to the side of the highway, or put their flashers on and drive at 40 MPH in horrible visibility. I chose the latter option, because I'm a masochistic fool. The second one was a bit scarier, since it was on US-31 north of Muskegon in the Whitehall area. Once you get a few miles north of Muskegon, US-31 is expressway for another hour (to Ludington), but gets very little traffic. I had enough visibility to see the road, but there weren't any cars ahead or behind to the limit of my visibility. Why this was worrisome is that whenever there's bad weather (rain or snow), there is always a contingent of drivers of four-wheel-drive vehicles (usually) who drives at close to the speed limit. And even though they usually use the left lane and I was in the right, since I didn't know how far back the car behind me was, there was a chance that one of those scoff-weathers would roar up behind me and plow into me from behind. It didn't happen, but it gave me something to worry about. The weather cleared in a few minutes, so that when I pulled off at the Whitehall rest area to call ahead to get me onto the game lists (I don't carry a cell-phone), the only "rain" I had to deal with was what the wind blew off the leaves of the nearby trees.

Man, isn't talking about the weather interesting?

In any case, I got there, and the tournament was down to the final table, but just. That meant that the five or so people who were waiting on the rail (including me) were waiting for a couple of people to bust out so that they could open another table. They did and they did, and I saw maybe three orbits (won a little, lost a little) before someone busted out of the no-limit game that I didn't even realize was going on behind me, opening a seat for me.

I saw several players, maybe even most of the table, that were also on the game the week before. A couple of them were very good, including the player to my immediate left. I had an AA early in, limped in UTG, got a number of callers, but only one to my $10 bet postflop. When the turn was also a blank, I bet $20 and won a small pot. I might have one one other pot in a similar situation, where the flop hit my hand, but won only a small pot. Otherwise, I got raised over-the-top of my raises with AQ and AJ, and laid them down.

I made one stupendously dumb play out of my first buyin, and then I compounded the mistake. I called a $10 bet with AT, and the flop came with two spades. The action checked around, and the third spade hit the turn. An early-position player went all-in for $47. There was about that much in the pot, and I expected another caller (and I was right), so I called with somewhat short odds. But that wasn't the huge mistake. Figuring everybody was all-in, I flipped up my cards—to see the Ace of Clubs! Of course, it was the overcaller that had the Ace of Spades, although I did have the ten. Even that wasn't my biggest mistake, though—did you catch it? The original better was all-in, but the overcaller and I still had chips left, yet I had flipped my hand up. There was really no way to remedy the situation: I took my hand back, the dealer turned a non-spade, and I said "check," laughing as I did it. The overcaller didn't bet either, and the dealer shoved the pot to the original better (who of course already had the flush). I pulled the rest of my chips from the $4/$8 game out of my rack and put them on the table, and fortunately the server had arrived with my beer, because after that dumb a play, I really needed it.

The other play I made wasn't quite as dumb, but it cost me the rest of the money I had before I hit my stop-loss. (It wasn't so much a stop-loss as a stop-loss-because-I-don't-have-any-more-money.) I flopped an open-ended straight draw out of the big blind, and the fellow who was betting the hand kept betting small amounts, giving me the odds to chase the straight. I hit it on the river, but my straight card was also the third flush card. The original better made another small bet, and downstream someone went over-the-top for $50 or so. Clearly he had the flush, but I only had $11 left, and the pot was big, and maybe he didn't have it, and what the fuck, anyway. As it happened, he was making a play at it, but the original bettor turned out to have the flush himself, a baby one.

I had a minor decision to make. I had another $100 in my wallet, but I needed to buy gas, which meant that I couldn't lose it. I might have sat the limit game if I saw a seat, but I didn't. I had them comp me some dinner, and I bought a paper and read it at dinner. I tried the trick with that same slot machine again (the car still hasn't been won), but had the much more common occurrence of losing the $20 I put in. So I went home.

I end up concluding that I'm not as good at no-limit as I like to think. Partially, this is because of my short attention span; I don't see everything that goes on in a hand that I'm not in. But mainly, I think it's my hand-reading skills; another player demonstrated how horrid they actually are. Last week, he was on my left, and after an over-the-top and an all-in at the other end of the table, he said "she has AK, he has Queens, maybe Aces, but probably Queens." I wasn't really watching, but that was darn impressive. It was more impressive that he was right. No wonder people know when to go over the top of my raises with AQ and the like; before my poker-playing days I used to pride myself on being an open book, and I'm not sure that I'm not still just as open.

The thing about that, is that I'm not sure what to do about it. A wait-for-the-nuts style doesn't seem as efficable in the live game as it does in the $25NL games online. But if I'm unable to make plays because they're obvious, then I'm not sure what to do about it. This is especially frustrating because I think that I've become a good limit player live (which hasn't always been the case). And so, even though at the Trump on Saturday there will almost certainly be a no-limit game going, a $5/$5 game, I think that I shall not sit it, and instead sit $3/$6 or $5/$10 limit holdem. I'd like to give $10/$20 another shot, but I think I'll be short-stacked when I'm there, especially after my poor showing in Manistee yesterday.


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