Thursday, March 30, 2006
I stopped by Empress last night after work to play some poker. As I arrived, the parking lot was more full than I'd ever seen it, causing me to have flashbacks to last weekend when I had to wait 2 hours for my seat. I wondered, "What on earth is everybody doing here on a Wednesday night?" I read all of the promo posters on the way in, looking to see what prize or giveaway had the masses flocking to the boats in the middle of the week. I could find no indication of their motivation, but was pleasantly surprised when I reached the poker nook. I was 2nd on the list to sit down in a 5-10 limit hold'em game. Excellent.
I headed to the cashier cage to get some chips and bought in for my usual $200. At Empress, sometimes they give you a rack at the cage, and sometimes they just give you the chips. I usually ask for a rack, but since I knew I'd be called to sit soon, I didn't bother. I did what the boys do, and shoved my chips into my coat pocket.
I sat for a few minutes on the bench next to the poker room, surfing the web on my Blackberry. I checked out a program called MyCast that sends weather updates, live radar pictures, storm warnings and lightening strike data right to the Blackberry. I might have to get that one. (I'm a weather geek). Before I could commit another $3.95/month to my phone bill, though, my name was called in the poker room.
I took a seat at the feeder game and was glad to see it was nice and loose/passive. Everyone was in a good mood, too, which makes for those nice, "Ahh, you've got me but I'll pay ya off" calls, and the ever popular, "What the heck, I'll donate" calls. I sat down in the big blind, and what do I see but pocket Queens?
I must admit a quirk in my play. I absolutely HATE playing the very first hand I'm dealt. It feels too much like going in blind. I don't have a clue as to the temperature of the table, and honestly I'm not a big fan of coming in, guns blazing (though it would probably be better for my image than folding for an hour - what typically happens to me). Anyway, it was raised and re-raised ahead of me, narrowing the fishy field, and I just called. The flop came out undercards, and I bet out. The original raiser raised me, and the 3rd guy re-raised. Crud. Could I be running into the cooler KK or AA? Time would tell. The turn was a blank, and I bet out again. Second to act folded, and the button just called. The river put a third club onboard, and I held onto my hat and bet out. The button folded. I took down the pot without a showdown. The guy across the table from me laughed and said, "Nice! You sit right down and scoop a nice pot!" I smiled and went about my business of stacking chips.
Not a bad way to start the night.
That pot gave me enough cushion to fold for the next hour, as I was seeing nothing but junk hands. By the time I got called to move to the main game, I was only up $20 or so. I sat down at my new table and did a quick scan of the crowd to see if I recognized anybody. Nope, not really. One guy was obviously the reigning table captain. He was about my age (ie. early 30's), and while cards were out, acted like there was a million dollars at stake. If looks could kill, out table would be a bloody, mushy mess. This kid stared at each person as he/she looked at their hole cards, literally turning his head to make it obvious that he was watching. Most people seemed intimidated by it, and would immediately turn away if they made eye contact. Me - I had to keep from laughing out loud, and stared right back at him, dead in the eyes until he looked away. (I'm the staredown champion of 1979).
I'm not the bully type. I, too, watch each player as they look at their hole cards, but I am a bit more subtle about it. I don't turn my head. I let my eyes follow the action, while attempting to appear disinterested. I don't want people to think that I'm paying attention. I don't want people to know that I'm watching them. I want to blend into the scenery as much as possible and quietly stack my mountains of chips.
At any rate, this guy was over the top with his attention to detail. The ironic thing, though, was that between hands, he was the king of complimenting other players, laughing and joking about things and playing the role of "happy guy." It struck me as a bit schitzo. It kept the table happy, though, and that's always a good thing.
In the end, this guy was deemed slightly loose/aggressive. He was a good player, as I might have guessed based on his extreme efforts to pay attention. However, he probably could have gotten a few more calls out of me if he hadn't advertised his strength so much. I don't think his table image worked to his advantage, because it was too accurate, and he never showed down a hand that went against his image.
I didn't catch many playable cards until one little rush streak. About 2 1/2 hours into my night, I limped into an 8-way pot with pocket 7's. I flopped a 7, and from UTG+1, bet it all the way. I lost a couple players on each street, but took 2 with me to the river. The river paired the board with 10's, so that the board looked like Q-7-2-10-10 with 3 clubs. I bet the river, and opponent #2 folded. Opponent #3, however, raised me. I hoped he had a 10 or the flush, and hoped he didn't have QT. I re-raised, and he popped me back. I knew I could still be good, but I also knew it was not unlikely that he'd be holding QT. It fit his profile. I just called. He showed KT for the trip ten's, and my full house held up. Very nice pot.
A couple hands later, I looked down UTG to find AK of spades. Now, this table was a table of huge hands and huge pots. We all joked that straights were no good here, because the minimum hand required to take down a pot seemed to be a flush. Flushes, boats, and quads were plentiful. Straights were even getting killed. There was one pot where the 4 people to showdown had the nut straight, a weak flush, the nut flush, and a rivered full house. It was nuts. So I look down at my AK, knowing that I'd need to hit my flush to make this happen, because top pair was not going to cut it. With my tight image (that staredown boy had already openly and loudly discussed with the guy next to him - how I only play premium hands), I knew a raise would thin the field. So I did the unthinkable. I limped. NINE people came to a flop of K-x-x, two spades. I bet out, and a bunch of people called. Late position raised (he wanted his money back from my boat), and everybody called. The turn gave me the flush. I bet out, and we lost a couple people, but the button again dutifully raised, and since we still had 5 people to act after me, I just called hoping to bring them along. They came along. The river was a blank, and did not pair the board (whew). I bet out, and 3 people folded. The rest came to showdown with me.
Staredown boy was VERY impressed with my hand, and gave me all kinds of kudos. My nut flush took down an insane pot - probably the biggest pot I've ever won in a limit game. Of course, after showdown, Staredown boy said to his neighbor, "See, what'd I tell you? She only plays good hands but she makes it work!" Well... I don't think there was anything particularly brilliant about how I played that. It was a weak-ish play, really, but I was trying to get the most bets in the pot as I could, and knowing that the table was very adverse to preflop raises, and knowing my table image, I think I played it the best way I could in that situation. It definitely worked out.
At this point, I've got over $400 in front of me, and was just marvelling at the fact that within 2 hands, I'd erased my deficit and more than doubled my money. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - you really don't have to win a lot of pots to make money in these fishy games. You just have to avoid being unlucky.
The very next hand, I was in the big blind with A7 offsuit. I saw a free flop of A-7-x and bet it all the way. I took 3 people to the river and 1 to showdown with me, only slightly fearing the fact that the board paired 4's on the river. My top two pair won the pot, and my chip stack creeped over $500.
I watched a couple orbits go by, and it appeared that my rush had ended. I donated $20 or so back to the table, seeing a few cheap flops on the rush to see if anything came of them. Nothing did, and when the dealer change came, I decided not to mess with the evening's poker karma. I grabbed a rack and collected my chips to leave. The table was sad to see me go (despite being generally quiet, I'm also generally pleasant to have at the table), but the Staredown boy nailed on the head why they really didn't want me to go. I heard him say as I walked away, "There was no way she was giving those chips back, anyway."
No sir, I wasn't. Good read.
Results for the night:
Cumulative B&M results at 5/10 for 2006: