Saturday, February 04, 2006
I had hoped I'd still be at the boats playing cards at this point in time, but... I've completed my trek home and here I sit.
So I drove to Trump tonight, feeling really good. Sometimes I drive there and have this sort of wary, battle-ready feeling inside - as if I'd just watched a season full of X-Files episodes and had a mini Chris Carter on my shoulder going, "Trust no one!" I know poker isn't a "friendly" game, and trust plays no role at the table, but I'm not a big fan of walking into the poker room with negative mojo in my pocket. There's the opposite of that, too - the egomaniacal version of me, where I sit down with a chip on my shoulder and something to prove. That typically doesn't work out too well either.
It's been a long time since I've gone to a poker game just feeling "good." Plain ol' good, as in - I'm good at this game, but know who's better than me. Feeling optimistic without being unrealistic. Just having a good sense of confidence that doesn't turn over-emotional and affect my game. I felt good tonight, and the poker room was hopping.
It was so busy, in fact, that I've never seen so many cars at Trump - not even over the holidays. I walked as far as I've ever had to from my car to the casino tonight - and saw a nutcase woman drive her SUV backwards into a parked car because she was trying to beat another guy to a parking spot. I mentally jotted down her license plate, as I saw the whole thing happen and she started to drive away, but I stopped and stared. At that point, she reluctantly got out of her car and was talking to her passenger and looked like she was going to do something about her accident. I probably should have told somebody inside anyway, but I didn't.
Anyway... the poker room was crazy full, with lists longer than could fit in the entire columns on the board. Luckily, though, I'd called ahead from close to home (which is a good hour from the casino), so I was pretty high on the list. When they called a new $200 max NL game, I made the cut. It took forever to get the new table opened up, so I only saw one hand at that table. I folded on the button, and watched two guys get themselves all in on the first hand. It ended up being a showdown between Quad Ten's and 2 pair, Ax. Then, I was moved to a main game.
There were no real big stacks at my new table, as it was formerly the must-move table and had just been converted to a main game. I saw 2 players I recognized from previous Trump visits: one guy I thought best to avoid, and one I thought best to get into pots with whenever possible. There were a couple sunglass-toting WPT wannabes, two very serious college kids (one with the must-have White Sox ensemble, the other in a preppy smart-kids' fraternity type getup). I had a drunk but very friendly Asian gambler to my left, who apparently had been coming to Trump every weekend for 6 weeks straight, losing $1,000 every time. Two different dealers confirmed this, and he explained that for him, it was cheap entertainment - cheaper than women and bars, anyway. I don't know what kind of bars he goes to... apparently he must have expensive taste in women. He liked to do things like push all in blind preflop. Lots of chasing, lots of "I have nothing but I wanna see what you have - I call!" He was Person #2 I wanted to be in pots with.
Please, God, just give me some cards!
No such luck, really. My VP$IP (as best as I can calculate) was about 15%. I limped 3 times with KQ, KQ, QJ and missed all 3 flops (unraised pots). My blinds were so bad I folded most of them to preflop raises. After an hour or so of folding, I find KK and raise it to $20 from UTG+1. I give about half the table credit for noticing that it was the first time all night that I'd bet out or raised. I had 4 callers (*gulp*). When the flop came all undercards with 2 clubs, I bet out $60 and was thankful to see everybody fold.
Then, I made my Play of the Night. You see, I picked out 2 people at the table to "study" for the evening: one regular who, shame on me, I didn't really have any solid mental notes on, and one guy I didn't recognize but seemed knowledgeable enough to be worth watching. The one guy I didn't know from prior games seemed intimidating at first. He was aggressive, and my first impression from his mannerisms was that he was serious about his game. I read that as tight. He didn't talk much, didn't seem to have "gamble" in him. He just watched everybody else, and spoke his actions with a very stern voice. After a while though, I noticed that he played too many hands to fit into the "tight" category, and by the time I saw a few showdowns, I pegged him as a newer player. Top pair was a monster to him, and any ace looked good. He wasn't awful, but I'd given him too much credit up front.
So, I'm in the big blind and haven't looked at my cards. My study raises preflop (he's sitting two to my left) to $25. The drunken Asian to my left had limped, and everybody folded to me. I look down to see JJ. I'm not going to go broke with this hand. I want to see a flop. I thought of re-raising, but that would commit half of my stack to the pot, essentially marrying me to my JJ. I'm not really after seeing 5 cards. I want to see 3, then I'll re-evaluate my position. Besides, I have some mental notes on my opponent, and I don't mind going up against him.
I call the $25, and the drunk guy folds. We're heads up to a Queen-high flop. I check while looking straight at my opponent. Of course he's going to bet out - he's a big fan of the continuation bet, and had previously laid down hands twice to players who came over the top on his flop bet. As I'm watching him, I'm thinking - AA? KK? AQ? QQ?
Nope. He's got none of those. That board missed him. Actually, I put him on a low pocket pair. I watched him bet out $25 into the $55 pot, and... my JJ was good. I looked at my stack. I had $120 or so left in front of me. I don't want him to see any more cards - at least not cheaply. My hand is good NOW and I'd like it to stay that way. I chose to raise it to $60. I was going for an amount that said, "Dude, I have you beat - and this bet obviously commits me to this pot, so you're playing for all of my chips if you play at all."
Alright, so my original plan of not going broke with JJ was no longer my plan. Every street brings a fresh analysis of the hand on the table...
It turns out that the guy folded, but he was mighty reluctant to do so. I even caught a glimpse of the, "Damn it! I don't want to fold to a GIRL!" look, which is actually not as common as I thought it would be. (It's still out there, though).
I wish I could see what he folded, but my raise and his dramatic laydown solicited a genuine, "Nice play!" out of the guy I had planned to avoid. He was wearing a pink shirt, though, so I couldn't fear him too much. I just don't get the whole "guys wearing pink" thing. I took his comment as a compliment, though, because he rarely complimented anybody, and was very obviously NOT hitting on me. (Like I said, he was wearing a pink shirt). No offense to anybody reading who wears pink shirts - it's just not my "style." My style is more like Orange and Black. Hockey jerseys and jeans. You know. Shirts with buttons are a bit fancy for my taste.
Unfortunately for me, despite all of my intent reading of this guy, I lost my money back to him. It was a case of part bad read, part bad luck.
I've got AK on the button. There are a few limpers in the pot, and I raise it to $20 (same raise I made with my KK). The SB folds, and my Study, in the big blind, pops it up to $40. That clears the field, and I want to see a flop. The guy easily raised one in every 3 hands he played, and he easily played one in every 3 or 4. I don't take his raises to mean much - so far, they had meant 77, KTo (???), QQ, A7s, and ATo.
I call the extra $20 and the flop hits me with a K on an uncoordinated board. This is what I'd hoped for with my AK (spades, for the record, though there were no flush draws onboard). I've got about $200 in front of me. He's got slightly less than I do. There's $100-ish in the pot. I bet out $75. He min-raises me to $150, which nearly puts him all in. I pull the $75 out of my stack, compare it to what's left, and compare it to what he's got left.
Here we go again: does he have AA? KK? He doesn't have a set, because the one set I saw him hit, he check-called to the river then popped a big raise on the end. He liked the slowplay, even with hands that were too vulnerable to slowplay.
I figured, if he had AA or KK, he'd slow play me. He wasn't slow playing, and he wasn't pushing all in, either. If he loved his hand, why wasn't he trying to get it all into the pot? Really, his raise made no sense in the context of his previous play, and I decided that he was trying to pull the same move on me that I'd pulled on him - the ol' check-raise.
I pushed all in, and he immediately called. That's something the ol' gut never wants to see - someone calling before you even get the words "all in" out of your mouth.
He had the AA, and neither the turn nor river helped my TPTK. I had him covered by $20, but the dealers were changing and our $7 time was due, so I took my $20 and left.
On one hand, I made some cardinal sins here - the most obvious being, don't go broke with top pair, top kicker. AK is one of my least favorite hands to play, I think mostly because it requires such a variety of decisions to be made. The situations you see AK in are so varied that it is hard to have just one or two main strategies for playing it. Compared to a monster like KK or AA, there are more ways to play AK than to play a monster.
I think the only way I'm getting away from that loss is to fold preflop, because from all of the pieces of the story that I'd assembled about the guy from watching him, I'd put it all together the same way again and again.
Overall, I'm not unhappy with how I played tonight.
However, this leaves me in a pretty bad place. My B&M bankroll is about broke. I have $40 or so upstairs in the poker box that may as well be spent on a manicure or something, because it's not enough to buy into a card game for. I dipped into my poker money to pay off some Christmas gifts (damn credit cards, they're the work of the devil). I took some to blow on PokerStars (because I keep my personal money separate from poker money, period). Of course, I didn't intend to "blow" it on PS, but... me and online poker haven't been the best of buddies since mid-2005. (I think online poker is jealous of my trips to Trump).
Now, there will be no trips to Trump until I can manage to save up some money to set aside for poker. Again. I managed to go to Vegas 4 times last year on poker profits. This year isn't looking so fruitful. There's only one reason why I wish I'd have laid down that KK back in December, and that's because I really couldn't afford to lose that pot.
I've got money collecting over at Full Tilt. I haven't touched it. It's like an online poker savings account. I have a few people signed up under my bonus code, and the money that generates is just sitting in my account. If I dive into it now, I'll run into the same problem I always run into online. Starting with a meager bankroll allows no room for variance. Human Head hit the nail on the proverbial head in a comment he posted about my typical $50 online poker buy in's. He said that even at a low limit like $.50/1.00, that's only 50BB, which doesn't leave much room for variance. He also pointed out the disconnect between the levels I'm playing at Trump and the levels I'm playing online. I'm not sure exactly how that disconnect affects my game, but I'm sure that it does, because my B&M game is different from my online game - something I've vowed to rectify in 2006.
So, I won't be going to Trump for a while - probably not until I get my tax return, of which I might be able to spare a buy in or two (after Randy and I tear up this old carpeting and put down some wood flooring in the living room). And, I think I'm going to let my Full Tilt Fund grow for a bit. In a perfect world, I'd like it to grow to the point where sitting down at an NL table requires no more than 5% of my online bankroll. Compared to my usual (sitting down at a $25 max table, with a bankroll of $50), that would be unheard of. I may not get it that high before I cave and play, but my vow to you now is that I won't sit down with more than 10% of my bankroll. That's my plan.
Until then... I think I need to go back to the drawing board. Hit some books, listen to some podcasts, think about my game, take some notes, rework some things. My apologies, though, that I won't have many tales from the felt in the next few weeks!
I don't think that's a bad thing, though.