Saturday, October 08, 2005

Sorry for the crickets around here! I've hit up Trump 3 times since last I posted: twice with double-buy-in profits and once with a negative-hundo experience. Let's get the bad news out of the way.

This past Tuesday night, I hit up Trump after work. If I were more superstitious, I wouldn't have even gone. First, the class I was teaching went over its ending time by TWO HOURS. I didn't have the heart to kick my students out, so it was well after 10PM by the time I was pulling out of the parking lot. It's a half hour drive from work to Trump, and I had to create another delay to satiate my grumbling belly. Even worse, I had to be in to work early on Wednesday (10am as opposed to 3pm) and had a long day ahead of me. All of these factors aside, I decided to forge ahead to the casino, as I had been looking forward to it all day.

As is customary, I waited until I turned the corner onto the main drag in front of the college I work at, and hit up the Trump speed dial number on my Blackberry phone. BEEEEEEP! Call failed. Try again. Hmmm. Dial again. Same result. WTF? Try five more times. Eardrum is now bleeding from the obnoxiously high pitched beep. I'm now cursing loudly at my cell phone. I dial other numbers. Outgoing calls are working fine. I just can't call Trump. Damn it. I give up and keep driving.

My inability to call ahead to get on the seating list resulted in another delay once I arrived at the casino, and it was past 11:30pm by the time I was called to a table. $3/6, of course.

I said I was telling the bad news first - and it can all be summed up in one hand. Somewhere around 2am, I was down about $20 in chips. No big deal. I look down to see sailboats - pocket 4's. I limp in late position, hoping to "flop it or drop it. The button raises behind me. There are 6 people in this pot. Everybody calls the raise, including me. The flop couldn't have looked any better to me: K-5-4. I'm a happy camper. The only thing I fear is the button holding pocket Kings, because he's an oober-tight player and only raises top-10 hands. A fish in early position bets out that flop, and everybody calls. I raise (why not? At this table, I figured most everybody would come along for the ride). In fact, everybody did - and the button did not re-raise. He seemed disappointed that I raised, so I figured him for a pair lower than Kings.

The turn came a 5, pairing the board and giving me a very nicely concealed full house. The early position fish bet out, a couple people called, a couple dropped out, I raised, the button folded, and the original callers called the raise. The river put a third heart onboard, and I prayed that somebody had just hit the flush. The fish checked, 2nd to act bet, I raised, and the remaining players folded - except for the bettor. He re-raised me. We're heads-up now. I re-raised him back. He re-raised me. We went back and forth for a bit, and I eventually conceded and just called, with about $15 left in my stack. (I had about $60 in this pot now).

I showed my boat, fours full of fives.

He flipped over 5-4 offsuit, which he had played from middle position for a preflop raise, for the higher boat: fives full of fours.

I was sick. Why couldn't he have had pocket kings for a higher boat? Why does it always have to be shit ass donkey hands that do the most damage? I swear they hurt worse than getting beat by legitimate hands.

I could feel my cheeks a bit flushed from the horror that had just ensued, and I knew cerebrally that it was going to be a minor miracle if I could avoid tilt. In fact, I expected to be unable to recover from that hand, and figured I would watch a few more hands pass before I made my exit from the table. I didn't want to do the walk of shame. As I sat there, though, I began to digest the fact that I had just ran into bad luck. There wasn't a whole lot I could have done differently, except possibly to concede a couple raises earlier at the end. But, I had the guy pegged for the a flush, so I was consciously trying to extract as much from him as possible. Maybe I was being too greedy, but I couldn't even really fault my read on the guy. It was just bad luck.

Bad luck happens. That's poker. I wasn't unhappy with how I played the hand. Shit happens. Let it go...

By the time the blinds hit me, I wasn't thinking about the boat-over-boat anymore. Miraculously, I'd shaken it off. That's definitely not what Shellmuth would have done. I decided to buy back into the game and win some of my money back. Sleep? Who needs it.

I stayed 2 more hours, until 4am. Unfortunately, all I was able to do was win myself back five bucks. I cashed out my rebuy plus $5, and began the hour-long drive home. I was proud of myself, though, (and honestly a bit surprised by myself) at how I shook off the boat over boat beat that cost me most of my buy-in. It was a definite turning point in my ability to stay focused and "in the moment" at the poker table. I decided that the trip was a valuable one - not financially, but in terms of my own growth as a poker player.

I was in bed by 5:13am, just in time to get a good 5 hours of sleep before work....

Then came Thursday night. Randy was off work on Thursday, and when I came home that night from work (around 9:30pm), he said to me, "Wanna go play some poker?" I turned into a bouncy child - "Please can we go? Please please please!" I hadn't played poker at Trump with Randy in what seemed like forever, and I really wanted to go with him. He has had several losing sessions in a row there over the last few months, and was wary about going so soon before our Vegas trip (in 12 days, woohooo!) I persisted, telling him he can't tease me like that! He finally caved, and we headed out to Trump.

In my excitement, I'd forgotten to call ahead to reserve seats for us, and there was a list when we got there. We had to wait a good half hour or so before being seated - which I suppose wasn't bad, but was not good considering we only had 3 hours or so to begin with available to play. (Randy had to work early Friday).

We finally got seated at the same table, next to each other. I let Randy pick which seat he wanted, and he chose to sit to my left. I was going to pick that seat, but didn't want to appear selfish to him by choosing the better position. (I prefer having him to my right, since - as much as I play against him - I can't read him very well to save my life). I let him take the better position.

Off we go! Early on, one of our opponents deemed himself worthy of being my target. I wanted his chips. When we posted our entry blinds as the button passed, this particular guy raised his big blind (thus raising our entry blinds) - and looked down at us with a smirk as he did it. I immediately thought that he was blatantly trying to steal our blinds - testing to see if we'd fold them. I folded, and Randy played - though I don't recall if the hand made it to showdown. The raiser won the hand. He looked to me like an overgrown and aged surfer dude - long-ish straggly hair and an outfit that he was much too old to be wearing. He looked like he thought he was "cool" but had really missed the boat about a decade ago. He also donned sunglasses at the $3/6 table.

After Surfer showed down a few hands, I was convinced that his early attack of our blinds was exactly that - an attack. He was playing completely loose-aggressive, but ONLY when Randy or I were in a pot with him. Otherwise, he was folding. Sure, it could have been coincidence, but from the looks he kept giving us, and the pointless banter he was making with the rest of the table, he acted as if this was HIS party, and these were HIS friends, and we were NOT invited.

That's okay. Your chips are belong to me.

A few hands later, I saw my pocket nines hit a set on the flop. I had 2 opponents in the hand: a calling station regular who seemed like a very nice, quiet guy (I'd seen him win TONS of money calling down to the river with any two cards during several sessions - a VERY lucky fish he was), and... Surfer Dude. Excellent. I wanted Surfer's chips. The fish was betting out each round, and too bad for me - Surfer laid down his hand on the turn, because I was all ready to raise his ass on the end. Instead, I just called, not wanting to take another six bucks from the nice guy. It was Surfer's chips I wanted.

Side note: there really is a bit of unspoken camaraderie amongst regulars in a poker room - some of them, anyway. I've caught a few breaks from people who now recognize me as a regular, and I've given a few breaks as well. It's a strange sort of subculture. I'm interested to see more of how it plays out.

To cut to the chase, I was catching some mad cards Thursday night. Caught a nut straight, caught two nut flushes, and the flops were hitting me. It didn't take long before I had doubled my buy-in - an hour and a half, maybe. In the seat next to me, though, hell had frozen over and Randy was not doing well. The final dagger for him was due to a misread of his own hand, whereby he thought he held 8-9 on a board that contained two nines. He had 7-8. He lost a big pot on that one, and was so tilty that he left immediately to go play video poker. I felt bad. The boy just can't catch a hand at Trump, and even worse - seems to run into bizarre bad luck. If only he'd picked my seat instead. It was impossible to lose in my seat - the cards were that good.

I finished the orbit and cashed out to go find Randy. I was happy to win back the buy-in I'd lost on Tuesday, but was sad that I had persisted so strongly to get Randy to come out to the casino. Had I not been such a nag, we'd have stayed home, ordered pizza, and vegged on the couch under a blanket in the glow of the TiVo. Instead, he came out, lost sleep due to our late arrival home, lost money, and took an ego beating. I felt awful.

The only flaw I see in Randy's limit game is that he is too impatient and gets discouraged too quickly. I tried explaining how in those loose games, where 6-7 people on average see every flop, you might lose $15 on a hand when you call it down to see the turn or river and muck, but when you do win a pot, you'll rarely drag less than $30, and more often, you'll drag $50 or more. On the REALLY good hands, a hundred dollar pot is not uncommon, and I've seen non-kill-pots with lots of action go down for close to $200! So - while you may be down $30 or $40, having played a few hands unfruitfully, all it takes is one decent pot - not even a monster - to come back to even! It took me a while to realize that, and even now I have to consciously remind myself of that fact every so often when I start to get a bit thin in chips. I swear, though - attitude is everything, and getting discouraged affects your game (at least it does mine).

It's like Bummer Tilt. I find that when I am on Bummer Tilt, all aggression goes out the window. All of a sudden I'm limping with AK suited, because "It's not going to hit on the flop anyway..." I begin to play more hands than I should, trying to manufacture some luck, and just end up leaking chips off when the flops miss me. To me, Bummer Tilt is even more dangerous than your garden variety anger-based tilt, because at least with anger-based tilt, you've still got the aggression factor working for you. Playing loose-passive on Bummer Tilt is a ticket straight to loser-ville.

Surfer Dude ended up busting out, after I'd witnessed one rebuy from him. Many of his chips ended up in my stack, and I gleaned great satisfaction from that.

I found Randy down at the video poker machines. I didn't ask how he'd done. He finished his credits in the one machine, cashed out a ticket from another machine, and we left. I wish we'd have stayed home.

Next up: Friday night. I like playing at Trump on the weekend evenings because all of the fish come out to play. A table full of daytime regulars can be a tough bunch to beat, but a table full of college kids home for the weekend: much more juicy. On these nights, I use the fact that I look like a college kid myself to blend in with the fishes and (hopefully) quietly stack their chips under the radar.

Last night, I had the surprising pleasure of sitting next to a young Asian kid who had a mighty cool leather WPT jacket. He had the trademark WPT-wannabe wraparound sunglasses on at 3/6, but for once, I'm not being sarcastic when I say I enjoyed playing with him. This kid was a poker whiz. He was literally like a walking, talking live application of all of the major textbook concepts in poker. He executed his plays effortlessly. He'd raise his big draws on the flop in large multiway pots to buy the free card on the turn. He knew his pot odds at all times and played them correctly. He explained after one hand that the reason he limped with 5-7 offsuit was because he had odds to do it - there were 6 people limping in the pot ahead of him, and it was likely that they held big cards (as people tend to play), so his one-gap connector probably had live cards to pair up as well. He ended up flopping two pair and taking down a monster pot. He was making great laydowns, and changed his game up frequently - sometimes raising his big hole cards, sometimes limping with them, sometimes raising marginal hands, sometimes limping, and mostly folding the junk. He just had a really good game, and every play he made had a reason behind it. (I know that because he explained each reason out loud!) Every move he made was carefully thought out and well considered. His chip stack served as evidence.

The only advice I would give to this kid: stop teaching the fish how to play correctly! LOL. He explained in detail most of his thought processes, and while I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him, it did 2 things: 1) Made me clearly aware that he knew how to play the game, therefore discouraging me from giving him action. 2) It provided valuable lessons for the fishes, and while many poor players are not inspired enough to try and improve their game, anybody listening to this kid could have picked up a nugget or two on how to play good poker. I don't want the fishes to improve their game! I want them to keep donating chips to the pot and making mathematical mistakes!

So - here's a shout-out to Chang: a reminder to all of us that some of these kids at the poker table really know their stuff!

I realized while playing with this kid that I needed to deflate my poker ego a bit. I think my low-limit game is pretty solid, and I've been profitable in the month and a half that I've been playing regularly at Trump - and while on the surface I know I have a lot more to learn to improve my game, watching this kid made me realize that I actually know a lot of things that I haven't incorporated into my game. My poker knowledge base is actually larger than what I draw from in my game. That has got to change. I have not been consistently applying a lot of what I "know" to my actual game. I'm failing in the execution of some things, happy to be grinding out a 2BB/hour profit. It's time to kick it up a notch and revisit some of the things I've been neglecting in my game.

As 7:30pm rolled around, I was thinking that maybe I should get going. I was up $50 or so after 3 hours, and Randy would be home from work soon. The boat was rocking quite a bit due to choppy waters and some nasty weather, and I was getting a bit seasick. However, I was enjoying the anonymity of the poker room, as I procrastinated dealing with a personal issue that had cropped up in my life. If I left the poker room, I'd have to go back to reality, and I wanted to push that off a couple more hours. Besides, I had this odd sense that if I just stayed patient a little while longer, I was due to hit a big pot. I hadn't hit a monster all afternoon, and my cards weren't bad. I just needed a matching flop. Plus, the fishes were starting to come out of the woodwork and a couple of the rocks at my table had been replaced with fresh seafood. It was ripe for the picking if I could just be patient a little while longer...

About an hour after I decided to hunker down and wait, it happened. I was UTG+2 and held A9 of diamonds. I don't like to play naked aces from early position. I'd usually fold this hand. But, a little birdie told me to play it, so I limped. Much to my dismay, the big blind made it $6 to go, and now I heard sirens screaming "danger, wil robinson!: your ace is probably dominated!" However, 6 people called the raise in front of me, and I felt like I was priced in at that point.

The flop came down A-x-x with two diamonds. I thought to myself, "Great... this is just what I need. I'm sucked in by the paired Ace, but I'm trumped by the probable K or Q kicker of the raiser... or he's got pocket Aces and I'm toast..." I squelched the negative-thinker in my head and paid attention to the action. A fish in early position bet the flop - likely holding an ace. My nine kicker was probably good against him. Everybody called in front of me, though I cringed as I called expecting the preflop raiser to raise again. He didn't; he just called. Hmm. Pocket Kings or Queens maybe? He was a solid player, so he had to have something good. The turn came a non-diamond. This time, it checked around to me. I bet out. No raise behind me; everybody called. Huge pot developing! The river brought my glorious diamond, and made for an interesting board: 10-J-Q of diamonds. I had been looking for the 8 or K of diamonds for a royal flush. The guy who held the K of diamonds was looking for my Ace of diamonds for his royal flush. The original raiser had AK for the nut straight. One fish had two pair, and another player had the ignorant end of the straight. As you might imagine, the river betting was crazy. I managed to get it up to 3 bets on the river, and two people came with me to showdown. My ace high flush won the pot.

Instead of cashing out with $50 profit, I cashed out with $125 profit. Not so bad for five hours of play. With Vegas quickly approaching, I'd like to win a few more hundred bucks to pad the Vegas-roll! That's my goal, anyway. I'm one buy-in closer!

Tonight, the fishy t-shirt I got from Poker Geek will make its debut in a long-awaited Diamond Game at Scott's house. It's been a while since we've had a big game there; Scott and his wife had a plethora of weddings to attend over the last couple months, so poker was put on hold. I'm looking forward to playing some NL hold'em for a change, and with a little bit of luck, maybe I can pad my Vegas-roll a little bit more. I'll have to be sure to leave my inner donkey at home tonight.

I plan to head to Trump on Sunday for some more poker, and maybe another one of those single table sit-n-go's. We'll see.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

1 Comment:

  1. doubleas said...
    --"My poker knowledge base is actually larger than what I draw from in my game. That has got to change. I have not been consistently applying a lot of what I "know" to my actual game."

    The epitomy of poker. Good read.

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