Saturday, July 28, 2007

I spent the night at Majestic Star last night (literally, driving home around 6:30am). I got there around 8:45pm and had my name on the lists for 3/6 LHE and the $100 max NLHE games (planning to, worst case, play 3/6 until an NL seat opened up). After waiting in line for 15 minutes to check in, there was a seat immediately available in NL - sweet! - except that there wasn't. I'd gone to the cage, gotten chips, and headed to table 11, where I had been assigned - and there was no seat. 15 minutes of following the floor guy around later, he finally got me back on the list, though 3rd on the list instead of 1st, where I should have been. Whatever. This guy reminded me of Frankenstein.

A little after 10pm, I finally got seated. A qualifier tourney for the Heartland Poker Tour was just wrapping up, and the place was packed. I haven't been to Majestic (formerly Trump) in a while, and noticed that they put video poker machines in the little deli/concessions area just outside the poker room. Thanks a lot for the temptation, guys. (My general rule is to only play video poker - or any other casino games besides poker - in Vegas).

My table was a nightmare of troublemakers. We had the typical cranky old man, who called the floor every other hand (and was always wrong, despite his very loud declarations about playing this game for god knows how long and knowing the rules inside and out). There was the typical drunk and disorderly guy, talking way too loud, swearing constantly, and picking fights with other players (including the cranky old man), which of course resulted in more calls of the floor management. There was the token "I want you to review the tapes!" incident, invoked by a guy who then of course couldn't stop talking about the hand for the next four hours. (Lucky for me, he was seated to my right).

To get to the nut of the story before I go rambling on (for those who just want to know if I won or lost), I left up about $60, which was disappointing considering I was up a bit more and suffered some brutal rivers. (I am wearing my "F*cking River" t-shirt as we speak). It made for a quite awful win rate (I think I played for 8 hours or so), but what the hell. Up is up, right? I think I may be heading out there again Sunday night with my friend Ed (of Diamond Game and Nice Table game fame).

My first rambley point is that I think I prefer the raked NL game versus paying time in an NL game. My previous trips to Majestic (when it was Trump) to play NL were timed games. You paid $7 or something like that every half hour. (Looks like they currently charge $8/half hour on their timed games). I was playing in the baby-NL game last night (ya know, tippie toes when moving back into the NL cash games), with $1/2 blinds. $3/round is veeeery cheap for us rock-types who like to fold a lot, and it's also veeery cheap for us rock types that like to see cheap flops with Negreanu hands. (ie., it's veeery cheap for me!). It was also helpful NOT to be paying time, considering the number of times we had to sit with no action waiting for floor decisions and discipline of unruly players and other such interruptions. (Srsly, it was an AWFUL table in that regard).

The incident I mentioned re: reviewing the video tapes is one that warrants mention, if only for the lesson it teaches. I think we all need this reminder every so often, even if only to reinforce our current standards of practice.

Two guys were in a pot: I will call them Vic and Disorderly. Preflop, flop, turn, lots of betting. River. Vic bets out $40. Disorderly calls the bet. Neither man flips his cards. Dealer scolds the men and tells them to show their cards. (This had been going on all night, and I'm not quite sure how any of our dealers refrained from wringing the necks of these guys). Disorderly (who had called the river bet) waves his hands over his cards. I wish you could just see the hand motion I'm doing right now, but imagine that you're in a restaurant, and you've just tasted a mighty foul morsel of food on your plate. Imagine the hand motion you'd make to the waiter to say, "Get this nasty ass food away from me!" That sort of, palms-down, flick of the fingers sort of thing.

However, Disorderly didn't touch his cards when he did this. He waved his hands over his cards, as if to flick them away from him - but the never touched his cards and his cards never crossed the betting line.

Vic, taking this hand-flick to mean that Disorderly surrendered his hand, tossed his cards forward toward the dealer, face-down. The dealer immediately mucked Vic's cards and declared Disorderly the winner. Vic immediately protested, saying he had Ace-King for top pair, kings, and if the dealer would only look at the top two cards in the muck, he'd see that Vic was the winner. Disorderly then got out of hand, and lunged forward on the table, scooping the pot away from the dealer and into his own stack (despite the dealer currently working to resolve the situation with Vic, calling the floor).

In the end, of course, Disorderly won the pot, because Vic mucked his cards. Dealers are not allowed to take cards out of the muck. Hand mucked: Hand dead.

Lesson here: Never, never, never, ever surrender your cards to the dealer until the pot has been pushed to you. HOLD ON TO YOUR CARDS. No matter what the back story is, the baseline rule here is always the same: it is the player's responsibility to protect his or her own cards.

There are a lot of angles to this rule, including some peoples' preference not to show their winning hands after an opponent has mucked, but even in those cases - you should STILL hold on to your cards until the dealer has confirmed you as the winner and the pot is safely in front of you. THEN toss your cards to the dealer.

As an aside to this story - I really don't like to see players flip their cards up at showdown and toss them forward towards the dealer, especially when 2 or more players are in this habit. Heaven forbid your cards get mixed up with an opponent's cards, or unintentionally hit the muck. Your hand could easily be ruled dead. I've seen it happen with over-anxious players flipping up the nuts so quickly that they mistakenly muck their hands. Just stick to the golden rule: hold on to your cards. Flip them face up for showdown right in front of you. Don't toss them out into the open. Don't throw them to the dealer, even face up. Keep your cards in your possession until you know for certain the outcome of the hand. Do not release your cards.

There's a bit to be said for the "always show your cards at showdown" rule as well, particularly for newer players (or drunk players or half-asleep players), because your cards speak for themselves. You might misread the board or your hole cards and think you have nothing, when in reality you spiked that Ace on the river but were too sleepy to notice. You'll win the pot if you show the winning hand, even if you said "I've got nothing." If you think you lost and muck your cards, though, well, you lose. I personally don't always stick to this rule (thinking I'm so sneaky to conceal my starting hands from all of the donks who aren't keeping track of me anyway), but there are certainly times when I probably should.

Of course, most of you probably play online, where none of this is an issue.

This is one reason why I so much prefer playing live to online. There are so many intricacies to the game of poker when played live that just never come into play online. I find it so much more enjoyable to play live - even if it's a slower game than online.

There's definitely some money to be made in that baby-NL game. My first impression is that most players have no idea what they're doing (based on bet sizes and the atrocious hand selection practices of my table mates last night). There are a lot of people playing tournament-strategy (having learned poker by watching the WPT on television), and lots of all-in's with top pair and such. I'm highly pleased with my first trip to this game, even if the river did kick my ass.

Pocket kings did me wrong last night. I raised to $12 (the average "high" raise for the table, 6xbb) preflop and got one caller. Flop came 8-4-2 rainbow. I bet out $20. Call. Turn came a 2. I bet $60. Opponent pushed all in for $97 more (so, there was about $180 in the pot, and I owed $97 to see the river). Two spades onboard and the pair of deuces at this point. Did donkface call my PFR with a 2 in his hand? This was shortly after a table move, so I had no info on the guy. Pocket 8's or 4's? Straight or flush draw? $97 was about a third of my remaining stack, and I was getting around 2:1 on the call. I called.

He showed A-8 for top pair, 8's with top kicker.

And then the Ace hit on the river.


Earlier in the night, I was involved in a big 3-way pot when I flopped a set of 3's and ended up getting both of my opponents all in on the turn. Well, actually my bet put one opponent all in, and the other had $38 left, which he pushed all in over the top of my bet. The board was A-3-J-10, and when he went all in, he said, "Please don't pair the board!" Of course, I knew he had KQ for the straight, but there was easily over $300 (probably closer to $400) in the pot at that point, and for $38, I'll try for the boat. In fact, he did have the KQ (the other guy had a naked Ace). That was a pretty big hit to my stack too.

I was pleased with the number of pots I picked up in position by betting because nobody else was. They're small, but I'm pretty sure those orphan pots add up over time, and why let them go to someone else's stack when they could so easily be in mine?

Again, I'm faced with the luck factor: playing against a bunch of scoobies can feel like taking candy from a baby - but, the more scoobies you have at your table, the more crazy hands you're up against. The more chasers you play with, the more likely it is that they'll outrun you with their lucky catches.

So, which is better? To play with people that don't play well, or to play with more experienced players?

I waffle back and forth with this one a lot, but for now, I'm going to get out my scooby snacks and swim with the fishes. Just call me sharky! (Ha!!)


  1. **JZ** said...
    Congrats on the winning session! I really need one of those.

    If you and Ed are heading out to Indiana, call me. Resorts has a $85+$10 tourney tomorrow that I've had my eye on. I can also go for a little $1/$2 $100max NLHE. Let me know what you guys land up doing!
    Jim said...
    Yeah, good job on keeping your cool and booking a win. I think that, on the average, you can probably kill that game.

    One nice thing about that game (and sometimes the 2/5 game, too) is that quite often, ridiculous overbets get called. So, you can extract a lot of value with stronger-than-a-pair hands, as long as you don't worry too much about scaring people away.

    I really should get back there some time.
    Shelly said...
    I'm guessing the 2/5 game at Majestic has more regulars... I think I'll work up to it :)

    Thanks for the kudos - and Jim - I plan to play a lot of poker this week and next, before I go back to work, so holler whenever you're free to play!!

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