Monday, July 04, 2011
Less than a week from my next invasion of Vegas, I've been getting antsy to play some cards. Saturday night, I was at the casino to celebrate a friend's birthday, and as the group was getting ready to turn in for the night, I got on the waiting list for $1/2 NL at Hollywood Joliet. Played for a couple hours - didn't win, didn't lose. But the poker machine seemed primed for a good holiday weekend.
So I went back last night with a full buy-in to see what sort of damage I could do. Got seated around 7pm as the first person on the list of a new feeder table. That meant I got moved to the main game quickly (which is good, because there's a lot more money on the table at the main games).
It was a good night. I was never down more than $50, and after treading water for a couple hours, I bumped up over my original buy-in and stayed there.
One of my goals was to see more flops than usual. People tend to peg me as a rock pretty quickly, and, well, they tend to be right. Though my playable range is pretty wide, particularly in late position, I'm just not a lucky player. I don't get playable hands all that often! So I wanted to be sure that early on, I saw a few extra flops.
I was gifted with a perfect advertising opportunity in my first hour or so at the main table. I played 5-7o from middle position, flopped top pair 5's. Bet it, one caller. Turn came a Q. I bet, he called. River came a blank. I checked, he checked. He had the Q. I patted myself on the back as I heard one of the regulars at the other end of the table mumbling to the guy next to him about the garbage these TV kids play. I got a lot of action the rest of the night from my opponent in this hand, and never again lost a showdown to him. (And I was pretty happy to be called a "kid" - man, 36 has been a tough year on my ego).
That's the thing with Hollywood Casino Joliet. If it's not a holiday or weekend, the game is made up of primarily regulars. A handful of the regulars are loose maniacs, but most of them are either rock-tight or pretty savvy players - neither of which are easy to extract money from. I'm not good enough to be uber-profitable against the rocks and the savvy tricksters. Being a rock myself, I pretty much break even against good players (which I take as a win! but it doesn't help the bankroll). And the savvy ones can bully me out of pots. They know it, and I know it. So I try to pick my spots and only play when I can sit down against people I can beat.
Hey, I'm no fool.
But last night was a good combination of decent cards and really good timing on my part. I kind of surprised myself with the post-flop aggression I was displaying. I don't know if I was reading people well, or if I was just getting lucky to make the right moves, but in 3 different hands, I got bet into big on the flop or turn, and raised or re-raised to find out which of the gaggle of geese in the pot I was really up against. Sometimes everyone folded. Sometimes "the one" came along for the ride. But in all 3 cases, it was the right move and I won the pots, one way or the other.
I mean, me? Re-raise? It's not like I had the nuts (which is about the only time I typically tend to raise or re-raise). I guess I just felt like I was good, and if I wasn't, I wanted to find out right then and there, instead of calling down to the river and passively bleeding chips.
In one case, I honestly would have folded if I got popped back. I had AA on a 3-heart, K-high unconnected flop. I figured, all these jokers are either drawing to the flush, or already made it - and I was going to find out right then and there what the deal was. Bet was $20, one caller before me, and I popped it to $75. One guy thought long and hard before giving it up. He didn't have the flush. (Whew!)
That was the only hand I raised preflop all night. Yeah, I still suck at raising preflop. Might as well jump up on the table and yell, "I HAVE A TOP TEN HAND!" Hell, I don't even raise 10 hands preflop. More like, oh, 3. Sometimes 4. It's brutal. I suck.
I tell myself every time I sit down that I'm going to raise a few junk hands preflop, or raise a few hands in position preflop. It just never happens.
To be fair, at this peanut-limit, most people aren't taking a preflop raise to mean anything. You still get 4 or 5 or more callers to the flop, even with a raise of 6xBB.
But I still think it would be a good exercise for me. It's a personality flaw. I'm not one to stir the pot, and jumping in raising it up is like stirring the pot. Causing trouble. Disrupting the quiet flow of things. It's against my nature. I've kind of accepted it as part of who I am as a poker player. But that's no reason to just settle. I should at least try to poke my head out of the box every once in a while.
I had a brief stint of success in my aggro game after I read Gus Hansen's book. Maybe I need to read that again. Too bad it is packed away in a box right now.
6 weeks till I move to Virginia. The days of living 15 minutes from a poker room will soon be but a memory. It looks like the closest poker room to me will be at least a 4 hour drive. If anybody is familiar with any casino/poker rooms in Virginia or surrounding, holler! I don't mind driving, but at this point it kind of seems like, if I'm going to drive 4 hours, I might as well drive 5 and go to Atlantic City.... I'll be in the Shenandoah Valley, about 2 hours south of DC.
With that, I am counting the days until I take to the skies westward for a weekend in Vegas. Technically, I'm going there for a wedding, but there will undoubtedly be some poker involved. And now, I have a nice little stash of OPM* to play with.
Any suggestions on tournaments I should hit up (<$250 buy in)? Right now, I'm planning to play tournaments at Aria and Venetian. Looking for a nice structure - slow levels, good starting stack. I do not want to waste my time or money with the push-monkey all-in fests. Suggestions welcomed!
Happy 4th of July, everybody!
* Other People's Money