Friday, July 30, 2010

Like the title says... I hate it when the buffet is the best part of a poker night.

Don't get me wrong - I loves me a good buffet! I'm sure Ed would keep my secret, but in the spirit of full disclosure, yes. We hit up the Empress Casino buffet and I caved to the lure of chocolate-vanilla twist soft serve with a crumbled chocolate chip cookie on top. And yes, I'm about to go run 3 miles in penance.

Anyhooo, on the advice of a dealer at Empress, I headed back there last night with my friend Ed in tow to go fishing. The dealer said that Thursday nights were the best.

Boy, was she wrong. I spent 7 hours tossing lures into a friggin rock quarry.

I made good on my observation from the other night and bet after those orphan pots (and won a few of them). I also made bad on an old tendency to overplay big pocket pairs.

But let's back up a bit. I made it off of the feeder table up $50 or so - always a good thing. I settled into the main game and was in good company. I liked my neighbors to the left and right. We chatted photography and birds and poker TV and the passage of the HR2267 bill (one dealer hadn't heard about it. I felt so politically savvy).

I was fairly card dead throughout the night, but survived on conversation. About 5 hours in, I saw a flop with AK. Flopped the gutshot Broadway draw. Called an early position bet. The turn was a blank. The bettor checked to me. I took that as weakness, and I bet out. I was hoping to take the pot away from the guy right there. But then - whoops. Didn't realize there was another guy to act behind me. I thought we were heads up. He called. The other guy folded. (Damn. My semi-bluff probably would have worked had we been heads up). I should have taken a moment to recompose my thoughts. The realization of my screw-up had me discombobulated (though the dealer was not announcing the number of players in the hand like they usually do). The river fell a blank and I checked. The other guy bet out, and I figured I could only beat a bluff. I folded.

He showed his bluff - AQ. He was open-ended. My bluff was better than his! Had I pulled the trigger on the river, I'd have taken that pot.

I suck.

Then, one of the quieter regular old gents gave me some advice under his breath. Obviously, those two had tangled before. I believe the phrase he used was "reckless ol' bully," explaining that the guy bluffs all the time and bets with nothing. A punk kid rolled his eyes and nodded in agreement.

It really depends on the situation as to whether or not I take advice from regulars. Sometimes I sense that there's an unspoken bond between them that compels the regulars to stick together (and possibly mislead the non-regular "targets"). More often, though, the advice turns out to be genuine. I think I do get more unsolicited advice as a girl than I would as a guy, and in this case, I think it was genuine.

Noted: the Brett Hull lookin' guy is an aggro-bluffer (BH for short).

As the last couple hours wore on, I noted several hands where BH showed down crap, pushing all the way. This reinforced Gramp's advice, and I can't say that it wasn't in the back of my head as I embarked upon what would be my last hand of the night.

QQ in the big blind. I hate playing big hands from the blinds. Despise. Loathe. Did I mention that I hate playing big hands from the blinds? Grr. Anyway. It was limped 3 ways. I raised preflop to 6xBB (average raise for the table was 3.5x BB). Got 3 callers (surprise!). Flop came Axx. Small blind checked to me. I bet out $40 (pot size). BH (aggro-bluffer) called. The rest folded. Turn came a blank.

I'd been all in with BH one time since the bluff hand, and had beat him with a straight. In my trigger-happy (and rather exhausted) state, my puzzle assessment said that a) he'd assume that I had something (he thought I made a big laydown on his bluff, which is why he showed it, and the last time I went all in, I had a monster), and b) he had nothing, because he's a friggin aggro-donk bluffmonster.

I pushed all in. It was only about a pot-sized push, but still. He didn't take long to call with his Ace. I was felted.

Lesson for today: slow down. Even though I had a game plan during that last hand, had I slowed down and just reviewed my thoughts, I'd have come upon a realization that would probably have prevailed. Why play a big pot with just 2nd pair? He called a preflop raise. He could very well have an Ace. Sure, it had a craptacular kicker, but it was an Ace. Don't let the target on his forehead take precedent over solid reasoning. Trigger-happy moves tend to be careless moves.

Ed seemed to finish better than I did, though I left before him and didn't get the final tally. Now, it's time for me to go run off some of last night's buffet debauchery. (Thanks, Ed! nom nom nom). Speaking of - the Empress buffet was pretty good. It was no Vegas buffet (I really wish there was a section with Chinese food), but the food was good - above decent but below awesome.

Off to run!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I checked out the "new" Empress Casino poker room last night. Well, it's new to me - I haven't been there since the fire. Wow, has it really been over a year? March 2009. *counts on fingers* Yup.

I've been watching a lot of episodes of The Big Game, and last night I was jonesing for some live poker, and I felt lucky. I had no luck finding an accomplice for my evening debauchery, but that has never stopped me before. That familiar adrenaline-fueled tingle jump started my heart as I pulled onto the casino grounds. Oh, how sweet it is!

I was quickly lost. The parking lot was no longer the parking lot. I missed the entrance for the parking garage (what?! There's a parking garage?!) and had to loop back around. Then, I drove around the parking garage looking for the casino entrance. Ahh, there it is!

I walked to the building and... oh boy, lost again. Elevators! OK... now what? Mazes of hallways! OK... wow, the old atrium is gone (presumably to be built back up into something even more spectacular someday). OK, walking through the maze... Then, up ahead, I spied something familiar - the big ol' hallway leading to the entrance to the boat (well, I guess it's technically a barge... but we call them all boats).

I entered the casino floor and noticed some things had been rearranged. Also, the carpeting was new, and the place smelled better than ever (probably because it had never been smoked in since the post-fire remodeling). Fresh air! Shiny things! New carpet! I walked along the left corridor towards the poker room - or, what used to be the poker room. What?! It's gone! And... there's a giant buffet back there! I want cards, not chicken wings! Gah!

I lapped back around the other side, looking for the poker room. No luck. I noticed that all of the other table games were gone, and it started to make sense. The slots took over the main level, and the table games must be downstairs. I had to hurry - I was going to lose my spot on the poker room board if I didn't find the place soon!

I took the escalator downstairs, and breathed a sigh of relief - there it was, around the corner to the right. The new and improved poker room. Bigger (maybe 5 or 6 tables now instead of 3?). Nicer - lots of TV's and more space between the tables. Centrally located - the deli is right there across from the poker room. Awesome :)

Oh - and they give comp points to poker players now! 50 cents an hour. Better than the previous comps (i.e. a big ol' goose egg!)

I was in for another surprise, though, as I sat down with my buy-in. They no longer spread the $5/10 limit game. Now, I was never really in love with that game. I played a heck of a lot of it, but mostly because Empress is 15 minutes from my house, whereas the Indiana boats spreading the $1/2 NL games are 45 minutes from my house (on a good day - an hour+ on a bad day). I do enjoy limit hold'em, but that's more because I'm a chicken and love math. I find that on my good days, I'm much better at no-limit (though on my bad days, I'm pretty bad).

Anyway, all 3 tables that were running were $1/2 NL hold'em, and according to the guy next to me, that's just about all they run there anymore. Limit never runs, and the $500 max NL sometimes runs. That's just fine with me - $1/2 NL is my game, and bonus - it's a $200 max buy-in (whereas the IN boats are $100 max /edit - thanks, Laoch! Looks like both Majestic and the Horseshoe in IN have $200 max buy-in's on their 1/2 NL games now).

I treaded water at the feeder table for a couple hours. Up $40, down $40, and back and forth. It seems like the main goal in a feeder table scenario is to get away from the feeder table with at least your original buy-in intact. I had a particularly disappointing experience with JJ that had me down half a stack at one point, and then the magic hit.

Two hands in a row. First, I flopped the nut flush in diamonds beautiful diamonds. I had a crazy guy betting into me on the flop, which I smooth called. The turn came a blank. He checked, and I checked behind. On the river, he shoved all in.

Money. Too bad he only had like $60 left. I called, scooped a sweet pot, and woke up the Asian guy two to my right who proceeded to recap the entire hand, praising my stealth ninja check on the turn. I'd rather not have the whole table clued in to any notion that I might know what I'm doing, but I won't lie - I enjoyed the compliment.

The crazy guy rebought for $100 and the next hand was dealt. I looked down at 55. I'll take it. It was a limped pot until the crazy guy raised to $10. 3 people called, and so did I, and so did the 2 guys after me. 6 to the flop.

It came: 55x.

I had plenty of time to wait for my action, and I needed it, because I was counting the dots on the first two cards just to be sure I was seeing them correctly. Did I seriously just flop quads? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Check check check all the way around to the crazy guy. He pushed all in. Fold fold fold ME! CALL! Fold fold.

'dem's quads, bitches!

Just as I was stacking my new found glory, the brush came up and announced my move to the main game. Gah! Just as things were heating up!

I spent a couple hours on the main game, mostly folding. Picked up a couple small pots, and left when the action started to get really drunk and shove-happy. I know, I know - that's when you most want to be at the table: when the donks are making idiot moves. But I was happy to skate with my winnings and check out.

As I drove home reflecting on the session, I pondered the usual - things I need to improve in my game. I noticed one thing in particular that I have fixed in my online game but apparently not in my live game. I am reluctant to bet out in a live game, particularly when I have nothing but there are loose chips in the pot and nobody is vying to get them. Online, I've learned to steal blinds and bet after those stray pots. It often works. Last night, though, I wasn't doing that. There weren't many chances to steal blinds (as most pots went 4 or 5 way to the flop), but there were plenty of situations where I was in late position and it checked around to me on the flop or turn, with nobody showing any strength.

In my head, I assume most players on these low-limit games are calling stations - and they are. But when somebody finally did throw in a bet at these checked pots, they usually took it down.

That somebody needs to be me more often.

One dealer noted that Thursday nights are the best night in the poker room. I wonder what my evening holds....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Be the One. Sign the petition. Restore the Gulf.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm checking out the show, The Big Game, on TV while waiting for a SnG to fire up on Full Tilt. I'm actually watching it pre-recorded on my media PC - what the heck do I say now that I can't say I TiVo'd it? (I ditched my satellite bill in favor of Boxee and internet TV and the locals-only service from my cable company).

What's the deal with these "true poker player" badges on almost everybody's avatars on Full Tilt? They don't appear to mean anything.

I love Negreanu. I wish his mom could make me vegan food. That is all.

I also love Phil Laak (and Jennifer Tilly). They amuse me to no end.

What I don't love is this donk that insists on raising stupid amounts like 132. It bugs me the same way Walmart prices bug me. I'll pay the damn extra 6 cents. Just make the price $4.99 instead of $4.93!

I should probably have gone to the gym to run a couple miles instead of playing poker tonight, but I decided that a rest day day was in order. Really, I've just been too busy today, and now I'm too tired. Geekin' out on some poker instead.

I would love to get some local live poker in before Vegas (because Vegas isn't till December!)

Hellmuth looks like a freak kneeling on his chair.

Really I'm playing cards right now to occupy my mind. I've been in a really foul mood on and off today, as I keep getting bombarded with things to remind me of the apparent extinction of compassion in people. Poker engages the non-emotional side of my brain. I <3 logic.

Does anybody know where I can find hoodies that have the built-in thumb-holes in the sleeves? Thanks.

Made it to the first break in this 90 player KO SnG. Above average stack. Almost wrote "snack" just now. Heh.

An above average snack would be Trader Joe's roasted garlic hummus with warm pita bread. Or strawberries with chocolate. Grilled pineapple. nom nom nom

So I'm 2 episodes into The Big Game, and while I will continue recording and watching it, I think I still like High Stakes Poker better. I do like the extra statistics they give on this show, but I like Gabe Caplan's commentary better (though I do miss that AJ guy as his sidekick). Unfortunately for me, High Stakes Poker isn't yet available through Boxee, so my only option is to watch it on the computer. Meh.

What ever happened to Phil Gordon? Haven't heard anything about him recently.

I bet Phil Laak plays a mean duck-duck-goose.

And with that, I'm back to the game.