Saturday, September 17, 2005
My Friday afternoon this week was spent much like my previous few: I headed to Trump around lunchtime for a few hours of poker. As per usual, I chose $3/6 hold'em. I've decided that until my bankroll can comfortably handle sitting down to $6/12 with $300, I'll stick to $3/6. I've actually got enough money in my poker box right now to sit a few losing sessions at $6/12, but I'm saving that money for Vegas in October. So - it's really not my "bankroll" so much as it's my Vegas fund right now. I'd also like to track my stats at $3/6 for a while to make sure I'm actually profitable here.
Anyhoooo... so I showed up to Trump yesterday, and much like the other night, there was a waiting list. I was first on the list, with a few people beneath me. After a few minutes of waiting (I had called ahead), a group of college kids comes into the poker room wanting to play. So, they opened a new table, and I found myself seated to the left of 4 punk ass kids who reveled in showing down stupid hands to amuse each other. These guys weren't even friendly like the group I played with the other night; they were people that I really would not like, personally - at the table or away from it. Pretty much jerks. The day wasn't starting out well.
Despite the internal groan that was ringing in my head, and how much effort it was taking for me not scold the boys for talking about hands while they were in play (only a few of the dealers seem to have the balls or the degree of care for the integrity of the low-limit game to reprimand players that break this rule and politely correct them), I managed to start out pretty well. I took down a few pots early with decent hands. The boys immediately labelled me as "tight." I got quite a rise out of them when I pulled a re-raise over the top of one of them after I'd turned the nut straight using my two hole cards. The guy called me down and seemed surprised when I spanked his bare ass red. As annoying as they were, they respected my play, and I was able to steal a few pots with continuation bets when my preflop-raise-worthy hand didn't hit the board. I normally don't bother to bluff at these $3/6 tables, but I've discovered that if you pay attention to what your opponents THINK of you, you can use that against them. Yesterday, I used my table image when I was in hands with only the boys to sneak in a few extra starting hands and represent hands on scary boards. Usually, it worked, and when it didn't, I somehow managed to manipulate the betting so that I never had to show down my bluffs. I'd decided that it was more profitable, the way they played against me, to continue the "tight" facade than to encourage more action from them.
These boys were pretty good players, aside from their atrocious poker etiquette. One stood out from the crowd, and didn't participate much in their antics. Unfortunately, his monster hands weren't holding up, and his friends repeatedly sucked out on him with inferior hands, so he didn't do so well over the course of the afternoon. Another one of the boys was prone to tilt. I've never seen a classic tilter. I've heard of them, and read in books that you can take advantage of these players after a bad beat because they'll turn super-aggressive and bet/raise with nothing. Finally, I saw it "live." Granted, this guy suffered some brutal suckouts by the resident fish at the table (the any-two-cards old guy that played to the river with any part of the board, or as low as King high) - but his tilt was so predictable! He'd come out firing on the very next hand, every time. He'd bet or raise the flop and then check-raise the turn (if that was possible - otherwise he'd just bet or raise it). If he hadn't picked up the pot by then, and his hand didn't hit, he'd go all soft on the river and usually ended up mucking it. I managed to take a nice little pot off of him (with my own nothing cards) after I recognized this pattern and played back at him. Lucky for me, his junk didn't hit and I stole the pot on the river.
As for my own play, I think I played well. To my dismay, my good hands weren't sticking, and I folded quite a few hands on the flop. Some that I can remember:
- I had pocket Jacks twice - my best hands of the day - and neither of them held up. Once they suffered a river flush suckout, and the other time the flop came A-Q-Q and I couldn't play them in the face of all the action.
- Pocket 5's hit a set for me, twice. Remember how I mentioned that my baby pocket pairs did nothing for me last trip, and how I was due to hit some sets with them? I had that set karma going on yesterday. One of my sets got crushed by a wheel straight, and the other won the hand on the flop and made me no money.
- Pocket nines hit a set for me and won the hand. I thought I was showing down the loser, as I was against a quiet guy who seemed new to live poker, and seemed to play by-the-book. There was 3 to a straight onboard that Ten-Jack would have completed, and once the third straight card hit, quiet guy raised my bet. I called his raise on the turn and continued to bet the river, but definitely feared a 10-J in his hand, since it fit within the profile of hands he'd play in late position. Lucky for me, he'd hit two pair KQ and my set held up.
- I saw AK twice, and neither time it hit. Once, I took it too far, calling all the way to see a river card. I should have folded after the flop missed me. I took a couple hands one street too far yesterday, which cost me $20 or so. When you think about it literally, those small leaks add up. I don't think I hit any of my over-called hands to offset that cost.
As 5PM rolled around, my chip stack wasn't looking good. I had $30 or so in front of me, and was not feeling well. The waters were a bit choppy yesterday, and the boat was rocking a bit. I noticed it in the bathroom when I first arrived, and many people commented on it in the poker room. I couldn't much tell the boat was rocking in the poker room, but I think my body could, because after a couple hours I was feeling a bit queasy. I'd also forgotten to take my allergy pills before leaving home, so I had awful sniffles that gave me quite a headache (one of those that didn't go away until I went to sleep last night). To compound the fact that I physically was feeling like crap as the day wore on, the last 2 1/2 hours or so were completely cold-decked for me. My good starting hands missed every flop, and I couldn't drag a pot in any of the few hands I did play.
The fact that I felt like crap by late afternoon was affecting my demeanor, though I don't think it affected my game. I went to great lengths to avoid playing hands out of boredom that I wouldn't normally play. A few times, I took a walk outside on the boat's deck to look at the water and try to put myself in better spirits. Since I wasn't enjoying myself, though, I thought it best that I head home (despite planning to stay until 7pm). I settled into my last orbit and accepted my apparent defeat.
Right around the 3rd or 4th hand of my last orbit, who should appear but Maigrey! Finally, we meet up at Trump! "There's been some damage..." I said of my chip stack, and mentioned that I was finishing up my last orbit. Maigrey headed back to her NL table, and suddenly there was a bright spot on my day. On my very next hand, I won a pot that netted me twenty bucks or so - my first pot in a couple hours. Hmmm. A sparkle of hope?
I had 2 hands left to play, and was glad to have made back a little bit on that pot. Then, the guy to my right got up and left the game, and suddenly the big blind was on me. It was my turn to post, but I hadn't indicated that I was leaving the game, and I was caught off guard. In my head, I had one more hand to play.My gut reaction was to post my big blind. So I did. Oh boy. Here we go. I thought back to what I'd said the other day about leaving when you know it's time to leave, and I was stricken with the fear of losing what little money I had left by completing one more orbit. Then, I decided that I was being a bit neurotic. Play the damn hand. Play the next one, if you want. If you don't feel it, get up and leave. Who cares if you didn't finish the orbit. (Or so my internal dialogue went...)
I played the next hand, my small blind. I channeled the power of Maigrey and looked down to see A8 of clubs. The pot was raised in front of me, and in most cases I'd probably fold it in the small blind, but with 4 other people in the pot, I decided to see a flop. The flop came 7-8-10, two clubs. I'd paired my 8, and had the nut flush draw. I checked under the gun, and one of the regular guys to my left bet out. Everybody called, including me. The turn came a blank, and the woman (new to the table) to my left bet out. The old guy raised, two people folded, and it was on me. Big pot sitting there. If I get lucky, I'm pretty much a lock to win the pot. I didn't bother to calculate my odds - maybe I should do that right now and see if this call is justified in retrospect. Assuming that the woman to my left would call the raise (I thought she would), there was $57 in the pot, and I had to call $12. I was getting almost 5:1 on my money. If I only counted my flush outs, I needed 4:1 to call the bet. If I counted my other 2 eights as outs (for trips), or my Ace to hit two pair, I'd have even more outs. I had odds to call. I feel better now, having calculated the odds. I thought at the time that it was close, and that the raise probably priced me out of the pot. My thought, though, was that a club would definitely win it for me. It was a gamble, but the pot was big.
And a club came on the river. Not wanting to risk losing the extra bet on the river (having seen the old guy fold to 3-to-a-suit several times in the past), I bet out. Both players called (the old guy lamenting his luck at the 3 clubs onboard). In fact, my ace high flush won the pot. I don't know what the woman to my left had, but the old guy had flopped a straight with J-9. I felt a little bad, knowing that I was chasing my hand, but I don't think I made a bad play. If anything, my call of a preflop raise with the hand from the small blind might have been a bit loose.
At any rate, that one pot won me back the rest of my buy-in. I folded the rest of the hands in the orbit, and left the table.
Whew! THANK YOU, MAIGREY!
I played for about 5 hours, and cashed out up $2. After tipping the cashier cage a buck, my one dollar profit felt like a million, considering how close I was to leaving with nothing. I was so happy to stick that buck in my pocket.
I think there were 2 recurring themes of the day: first, there's money to be made in playing the player, and taking note of what each player thinks of you. We spend so much time thinking about what we think of our opponents, but what they think of us can be just as valuable. Now, of course, sometimes it won't be worth the effort to try and figure out what an opponent thinks of you, because they don't! (Think of you, that is). The fishes and socialites don't care if you're a loose-aggressive or tight-passive - they aren't there to play a serious poker game. So wasting energy trying to reverse engineer their thought processes is useless. But against the better players, it seems that the effort can pay off. I knew it would work against the boys yesterday, particularly because the one guy kept commenting that each play gave him "more information" about his opponents. "They're just feeding me the information!" he'd say after particularly fishy plays from the other end of the table. He was taking mental notes. I fed him what I wanted him to think of me, and then used it against him.
That was kind of fun, actually.
The other thing that I think will pay for me to keep in mind is that you don't have to win many pots to be profitable. When you go through a couple hours of folding hands and losing pots, it can start to wear on the positive attitude. If I can just remember that it doesn't take many pots to leave a winner, it might not hurt the attitude so bad to lose a few.
That's my Friday in a nutshell. I'm not playing any poker today, as I'm partaking in a girl's night - a bunch of us are heading to a local comedy club. I'm not sure if I'll go play on Sunday. We'll see. If not, Tuesday night after work will probably be my next trip to Trump.