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Last session of 2009 (part 2)

Posted: January 5th, 2010, by stak

With dinner over, I headed back up to the tables with high hopes. Unfortunately, I ran into a table that was full of a particular player type that I really, really, reeeeeeeeeeally hate playing with. People who are entirely too proud of their ability to read a hand ranking chart, and all too eager to let everyone know it. If you hear an opponent say one of the following things, you know you’re probably at the table with one of these clowns:

“You called my preflop raise with that?!?!?!”

“I haven’t played a hand in 3 hours and everyone still calls my raises!”

“You wouldn’t catch me playin’ shit like Q8 suited.”

“I know better than to play AJ from under the gun”

“I would call, but I’m not getting the right pot odds.”

There’s a lot of annoying table talk that happens in live poker, but these people are by far the worst. Whenever I sit down and realize that one of these geniuses is at my table, I seriously consider a table change. Don’t get me wrong, they are very easy to play against. It’s pretty much always easy to tell exactly what these ABC, by the book, nits are going to show up with, so that’s not the reason they are so terrible to play with. The fact is, they make games worse. Recreational, casual players who are just interested in gambling, having a few beers, and having some fun, are shamed into playing better (or at least tighter) by these idiots. If a fish has to hear about how bad they play every time they scoop a pot with J6, then a lot of them simply stop playing j6. I don’t have to explain how bad for the game this is, which is why I hate tables (and players) that behave like my table Monday night.

As an aside, if it seems like I often note (and bitch about) table conditions and how players affect them, that’s because I try very hard to do the same thing when I play. I try to be tuned in to what is going on at the table, particularly how people’s play changes as they get stuck, get way ahead, lose a big pot, win a big pot, get sucked out on, get drunk, get in a fight with their wife etc. etc.

I soon saw that this table was not the most profitable use of my time, and since it was currently full, I had no qualms about getting up. I took a lap around the casino floor and made a phone call I had to make, and then made my way back to the poker room and got seated at a different table. I won two small pots in my first orbit, before playing my biggest of the session so far.

I call a 20 dollar raise with two black sevens, and we take the flop 4 handed (one person was all in for less than the 20 dollars, don’t ask me why he was playing a $15 dollar stack, because I don’t know).

The flop comes 789 giving me bottom set. It checks to me and I bet 55 into the 80 dollar pot, the older gentleman to my left calls with little hesitation, and the only other active (non-all in) player, calls as well. So now we have a pot with ~ 250 in it, on a draw heavy board. My opponents’ ranges aren’t super defined, and there are obviously lots of possibilities that I’m ahead of. There are many combinations of straight draws and hands that have a lot of outs against mine, but I would assume that if someone had flopped a better set or a straight (or even two pair most likely) they would likely have raised on the scary board. I had a lot of bad cards to fade, but fade them I did as the turn came a 3, changing nothing at all.

The early position player checked quickly in a way that made me think she had a draw. It was on me, and I was left with a decision to make. I figured my hand was best, and wanted to bet for value and to force draws to make an incorrect call if they wanted to continue. With $245 in the pot (and less than that in the main pot), I settled on $165. The gentleman to my left tanked for quite a long time before he finally grudgingly made the call. It didn’t feel like an act, and I suspected that he legitimately had a very difficult decision. I hoped that that meant he had flopped top two pair, although I was curious why he had played it so passively if that’s what he did have. I supposed he could also have an open ended straight draw or an overpair like JJ or 1010 which would have given him an overpair and a straight draw). Because I had just got to this table, I had no clue how he played. Based on his age (mid 60’s I should think) I tended to go to my default read of “old=nit” (with apologies to any older folks who read the blog). The early position girl thought a little and folded and we took the river heads up.

Out of position, I was going to be in a really gross position if it came one of the many dangerous cards that could complete a straight draw, but to my relief the river came a harmless 4 for a final board of 78934. Because my opponent had tanked so hard (and genuinely in my opinion) on the turn, I wanted to bet an amount that he could call if he had a one pair with a draw type hand like JJ, 100, 109 etc. I figured those for his most likely holdings, and I surveyed the stack sizes. Because I had won the two pots in my first orbit I had around $375 left in my stack on the river and my opponent had me covered. Normally, with less than a pot sized bet in my stack I would just shove it, but since I suspected my opponent only had one pair, I didn’t think he’d pay off the big bet. I settled on a bet that I thought he might call, only slightly larger than my turn bet. I pushed out a bet of 185. This time, to my surprise, he called rather quickly. I tabled my hand and he flipped up:

56 offsuit for a flopped straight. Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuck. Wow, I really, really did not expect him to play that hand that way, from the preflop call to the passivity post flop when there are a whole bunch of cards that could have ruined his hand and I was betting so strongly. It really caught me totally off guard and I was a bit stunned after losing another very large pot. But I managed a “nice hand.”

“Thanks,” he said. “I was really worried you had J10. I really almost folded the turn. I had convinced myself to fold but I changed my mind at the last second.”

Sigh, so I guess I was right about his legitimate tank on the turn, I just didn’t realize that he was tanking with a flopped straight! At any rate, I reloaded and tried to shake off my disappointment in another session that was going south quickly.

As the night went on, I decided I would quit between 2 and 3 AM because I had plans the next morning. As the night went on (and this almost always happens) my table got drunker, looser, and better. In particular, there was one older Asian guy who was playing quite wildly, but he was the perfect kind of tablemate. He was very friendly, hated folding, and almost never raised. He seemed to be playing poker not so much in an effort to win money, as an effort to make big hands. If he flopped a gutshot or something, he would call large bets just hoping that he might get there. Preflop, he seemed entirely too enchanted by the beautiful possibilities of any two cards even remotely related to each other to fold too often.

At one point, there was a self-proclaimed Long Islander who saw it as his personal mission to bust this “terrible player” as he put it. While I was frustrated at some of his snide comments, I was delighted to see that the Asian player didn’t seemed bother by them in the slightest, and continued on with his game.

At one point in a raised pot, the Long Islander (LI for short from now on) shoved all in preflop for $180ish dollars. With $25 already invested, I could tell our Asian friend really didn’t want to fold. Eventually, he decided to go with his gut and made the call, and they ran the board out heads up. Immediately as the dealer started dealing, LI proudly flipped up AA, but his face fell as the board ran out something ugly like 6 8 9 2 10. Sure enough, Asian flips up 89 of diamonds for the winning two pair, and sheepishly raked in the pot.

If I were asked to define the popular term “tilt” the most perfect definition I could ever give would be a videorecording of LI for the next 20 minutes. I’ve seen people tilt before, but I’ve never seen such blatant, unapologetic, hilarious monkey tilt in my life. LI became the single worst player I’ve ever played with, spitting profanity, whining about his bad luck, and never winning a pot. Over and over he reloaded after running into people who were trapping him with big hands, but I was continually frustrated by my inability to ever mix it up with him. This guy was just giving away money, but he was giving it to everyone else but me. Eventually, he had his girlfriend go upstairs to the room to get more money, but at least he had the self-awareness to realize he was on tilt. He started saying stuff like “Boy, I’m steaming” and “I know I’m just going to lose it all to you motherfuckers.” Which made me awfully confused as to why he couldn’t just make himself quit. I certainly wasn’t going to try to convince him though, as I patiently waited for my chance at his stack.

Eventually, after going broke yet again to someone who was not me, he himself went up to the hotel room to get more money after swearing up and down he’d be back. While often people leave “to reload” and don’t return, I was confident that he really would be back as he left his jacket, cell phone, and other assorted personal affects. Around this time, it hit 2:30 AM and a dealer change coincided with a fill. I decided that it would be a natural point to call it a night, but convinced myself that with LI still tilting horribly, my situation was much too profitable to pack it in. I decided to stay until he ran out of money or I started getting tired.

Soon after he came back, he raised UTG to $25 and got one caller before the action was on me. I looked down at two red kings: perfect. I raised it up to 80, confident that he wasn’t going anywhere, and he super insta snap called without even considering folding. The player in between folded and we were headed to a flop heads up. I was praying “no ace, no ace, no ace” and for once, I was rewarded with a flop of 2 6 9 rainbow. He checked to me quickly, and with the pot at 190, I settled on a little more than half and bet out 110. He immediately started talking to himself (which he did frequently) and I felt pretty confident I was getting paid off. He started saying things like “Fuck, you probably got it, but I can beat AK. You would definitely play AK that way, and just try to push me out with nothing even though you missed.” The more he talked, the more he kept saying “AK AK AK” as if he was trying to convince himself and the rest of the table that that’s why I had. For my part, I tried to look nervous as if I really did have AK, and eventually he said “Ah well, fuck it. I know I’m going to lose it all tonight anyway so I might as well just do it now” and he shoved all in.

I of course, beat him into the pot, and said “Kings” and flipped them up.

He said: “Fuck, I got fives.” And flipped them up.

The dealer burned and turned a 3, and I suddenly had a sick feeling in my stomach. I swear I could feel it coming, and I thought with a panic “Please please please, be paint or a 4 spotter” while dreading seeing a two across 4 or 5. Sure enough, the dealer put up a 4 for a final board of 26934 and giving my opponent a runner runner straight to win the pot. I was the first one that realized what happened but could manage only a defeated “wow.”

For the second time in the night, I felt a little stunned to have lost a huge pot. The dealer pointed out the straight and pushed it LI’s way, but I was already getting up and walking away as I heard him say “About damn time I got lucky.”

I kept on walking right out the door of the poker room and out to my car. (And to add another bad beat to the situation, I realized later that I forgot all about swiping out after my session was over, so I had lost all my comps and tier points for the session as well! I’m the worst!).

Although I get upset, disappointed, and frustrated with poker as much as anyone else, I am happy to say that it doesn’t stick with me long. Indeed, before I was even out of Borgata’s parking lot I was already in a much better mood. When running particularly badly, or after a brutal session, I always think of times when I got lucky and it cheers me up right away. Indeed, I reminded myself, that not too long ago I hit the Bad Beat Jackpot at the Borgata for over 10k! If that’s not running good, what is? After all, the reason I play poker is for money, and I certainly wouldn’t trade the 10k I luckboxed over the summer for holding up the best hand in a couple of big pots tonight, so what do I have to be upset about?

And that’s just talking about money. As if I weren’t lucky enough financially, I have a happy, healthy family, a large group of close friends whom I love dearly; and as much food, water, shelter, and clothing that I basically could ever ask for or know what to do with. In fact, I’m quite sure I’m in the top one tenth of one percent of human history in terms of wealth, creature comforts, and how easy my life is. Suddenly, I seem like quite a bitch for bemoaning my fate when 55 beats KK in some stupid card game.

With that in mind, I was able to sleep very easy, and not let my current bad run effect my New Years celebrations in the slightest. As I write this, I’m preparing for another poker trip to the Borgata Tuesday evening, and I’m excited to get back on the horse. Don’t get me wrong, running bad sucks and I’m ready for this losing streak to be over, but I think reflecting from time to time on my luck in other aspects of life helps keep me level-headed at the poker table. I’m confident this is the trip where I turn my winter break around and start making some real money (Or I could just bink the BBJ again J.)

Total damage for trip # 2 of winter break:

Hours: 8
Money: -$864 (See! Not even two buy-ins. I sure do bitch too much…)

Over and Out.

Last session of 2009 (part 1)

Posted: January 4th, 2010, by stak

Sorry for the delay in getting this blog posted, I was busy enjoying the New Years festivities with friends. It got long, so I cut it in two for the tl;dr crowd.

At any rate, I arrived in AC in the evening, and it was straight to my favorite casino, the Borgata. Just walking back into the Borg poker room I felt much more comfortable and excited than I do when I play at other AC casinos. As always, there were a bunch of 2/5 tables running, and it was no wait to grab a seat.

We played shorthanded for close to an hour in which nothing much happened. Online, I greatly prefer 6 handed cash games to full ring (and I prefer Heads Up to both!) but live shorthanded games are usually pretty bad, which is exactly the opposite of what you’d expect. Playing short handed with a bunch of bad players should yield good players a higher edge than playing full ring, but it is my contention that that isn’t the case. I think the reason is mainly because of the insufferable nits at every live game who insist on having a full table and bitch endlessly if they have to play short.

These are the type of people who are constantly badgering the floor to fill empty seats, and complaining endlessly when players get sent to other tables when, gasp, there are seats open at ours. They also tend to never give any action when playing 5 handed, and all the sudden the game slows to a crawl as everyone tightens up. Obviously, the opposite is supposed to happen (people are supposed to loosen up when the table gets shorter), but it never seems to. Instead, these nits won’t put a bad chip in, and all the sudden the fish who is all too happy to call a raise of $25 preflop with Q4 suited after 5 players have called in front of him (“How could I resist?”), will fold because “Why would I call, there’s nothing in there?”

When this happens, it’s very bad for the game. Obviously, the proper adjustment when you find yourself at one of these tables is to open up and start playing a lot of pots to take advantage of people’s unwillingness to mix it up, which I did. It’s been my experience though, that full tables are far more profitable in the long run, to say nothing of the fact that often when I’ve started opening every pot in a really tight game I’ve had people either simply sit out or petition the floor vigorously to break our table. It’s just one of the frustrating realities of live poker, but we eventually filled our game and were off to the races.

My first pot of note came when I opened QQ to 25 in early position, the CO called, and the BB puzzlingly called as well. I say puzzling because he only had around 85 dollars to start the hand, so by calling off almost a third of his stack preflop he had left himself with less than a pot sized bet. If I were online, I would assume he was either a huge fish or he had aces or kings, but this is live poker where no one pays any attention at all to silly irrelevant things like stack sizes. At any rate, the flop comes a relatively harmless looking 3 7 9 rainbow and it’s checked to me. I bet out 50 dollars, the CO folded, and the BB sprang into action with a devastating checkraise of 10 dollars more. I tanked and made the extremely difficult call, and sure enough, this shining beacon of poker excellence revealed his hand, 33, for a set that had my queens in bad shape. The turn and river were no help, and I had lost the first  medium sized pot of the day.

“I knew once the flop came, I was going to double up through him.” BB said proudly to his neighbor, who nodded in response.

Nice play, sir, The pf call with 33 when it’s more than 1/4th of your stack was impressive enough, but then the flop check raise of 10 dollars more into a pot of $175 was truly inspired. And not only that, but you had the Negreanu-like soul reading ability to know that I was going to call getting 17.5 to 1 and closing the action? I should just quit, how could I ever beat the game when there are wizards like these at the table?

Unfortunately, I was not privileged with BB’s presence for much longer, as he shockingly went broke (although not to me, obv).

After losing another couple of small pots, I played what I think is  a very, very interesting one. I still have no real idea how I feel about my play in it, and I think it’s entirely possible I made several significant mistakes throughout the course of the hand.

I call a $20 pre flop raise on the button with KQ suited and we take the flop off 5 handed. The flop comes down 810Q giving me top pair with a king kicker. The person who had opened was opening a lot of pots to 15-20ish dollars, so I didn’t necessarily give him credit for a big hand. Because everyone else called and didn’t reraise, I thought it was very unlikely anyone had a hand like Aces, kings, queens, tens, or even AQ (although certainly some of those hands were possible). Thus, I thought it fairly likely my hand was best, but I was well aware that sets, two pair combinations, and even j9 for a flopped straight were distinct possibilities considering we took the flop 5 ways.

With $100 in the pot, the Russian looking guy who opened (again, he opened small a lot with non premium hands and he was the pfr so could have a very wide range) bet out $25. One person folded, a short stack called (only leaving like 65 behind…once again, lol stack sizes) and two more folded to me. Live poker often puts you in interesting spots like these because people bet in such non-standard ways. I wasn’t altogether sure the Russian realized he was betting only a quarter of the pot, or if   he just knew c-bets of 25-45 tended to be standard (and I was unsure if he was aware he should probably be making his bets larger when more people call). Also, the short stack smooth calling was at least a little concerning. Generally, I think the idea of making a play “for information” is misguided and, well, stupid. Nevertheless though, the thought occurred to me to make a little “gayraise” (not that there’s anything wrong with that). For what it’s worth, the term “gaybet” or “gayraise” (which is used on forums and such to mean a very small or weak bet or raise) is really incredibly offensive and shouldn’t be used. Nevertheless though, that’s how most people I talk poker with refer to this particular play, so I guess I’ll just leave the term in (with profuse apologies to any aggressively betting homosexuals that may read my blog).

So, I decided to opt for a small raise to only $70, and this is play number 1 that I’m not convinced was good. My reasoning at the time was that I was value raising the original raiser, as I still considered myself to be ahead of his range. Because of the way he had been playing, I felt pretty strongly that a large part of his range was hands like QJ, Q9, J10, 89 for a pair plus a gutshot. I felt this fit in with the way he opened, the way he bet the flop, and the size of his flop bet. If that were one of his hands, I would be both raising for value (and I would get action from Q’s for sure imo), and charging him to draw. Also, if he were to have flopped a straight, a set, or two pair, I expected him to reraise me on such a scary board, which would allow me to get away from the hand rather cheaply.

I could have made a rather large, almost pot sized raise, and the other option of course, would have been to flat call. My fear at the time though, is that he was going to continue to bet into me on the turn and the river, which would probably have proven the more costly line if he did end up having flopped a big hand. I’m not exactly sure how the shorty also in the hand should have played into my decision making process, but good or bad, I ended up choosing the raise to $70 on the flop.

The Russian called after only slight hesitation, and my read was confirmed that his most likely holdings were pair + gutshot combos, of which there were many. I’m not exactly sure why I was so confident in my read, but I really felt strongly that that was most of his range. The short stack thought for awhile and shoved all in for only $14 more, which me and the Russian obviously both snap called. Now I was faced with another interesting situation, as the pot was rather large, but the side pot we were currently playing for was completely dry. Not many people make the proper adjustments to side pot play (and dry side pot play) live, and I had to be concerned with both the proper play and whether my opponent would realize  the ramifications of the dry side pot. So far, he hadn’t seemed super sophisticated but I hadn’t played with him for very long.

The turn came a complete blank, a 5, which put up a full rainbow. My opponent instantly checked to me. Here I had a very interesting decision. I could check for pot control or I could bet (thanks Captain Obvious!). I decided that with the pot being large, the board being dangerous, and my read that I had the best hand (but that my opponent had several outs to beat me ), betting was obviously the play, but how much? The main pot was large, approximately 350, but the side pot that I would be betting into was dry. Because I was confident that my hand was best, I wanted to bet a decent amount for value, but I thought there was still a relatively decent chance that he had a hand like second or third pair that couldn’t fade a big bet. As such, I wanted him to call and start building the side pot that I was a favorite for, but I was truly confused by the situation as to how much he might call. I ended up settling on $80, which I now think is too small. I was pretty sure I had a decent idea of where I was at in the hand though, and didn’t really think the Russian would call much more.

I wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to do on a blank river (either bet small to try to get paid by random queens or just roll it over) but the river didn’t come a blank, it came a King giving me two pair. Interesting, interesting. I strongly doubt that card helped him, as he basically can’t have a hand like AJ. If he has a straight on the river, he basically had to have flopped it, which is the same way I felt about sets and other hands that I lost to. I suspected that he still had the one pair (Q or 10) hand that I had suspected all along, and thought that he may even have K10, which could get my two pair paid off. He checked after a little hesitation and it was on me.

Because I put him on the weakish one pair type hand, it was time to bet my two pair for value. But what would he call? Finally, I decided to only bet $100, which was quite small in relation to the pot size, because I just couldn’t see how he could call a larger bet. When I made the bet, he went into the tank, and I was hoping he would make the call. He started playing with chips, (a good sign for me, as people who are tanking that play with their cards tend to fold, people who play with chips tend to call), but suddenly, I realized he was counting out more than the $100 he would need to make the call.

“How much you have left?” he muttered at me, and pointed to my stack.

“$230″ I replied. While thinking “Wow, this really sucks.” What a sick spot if he raised. I had really thought that I was valuebetting, and had already basically assumed that I at least had the side pot won (and the main pot too probably, judging on how disinterested the all in player was). Ugh, I was gonna puke if he shoved on me. I guess if he raised the river he basically had to have either a set or a straight, I don’t know what on earth else he could have. I didn’t think he would have slowplayed anything but a monster on every street like that.

Then an even more sickening thought hit me “Zomg, what if you were right and he has K10.” That would fit in with my read all along, and it could lead him to raise the river with his newly hit two pair. Ughhhhhhhhhhhhh. Now if he shoved, I didn’t know whether to call or fold, I was fairly sure he had to have a set or a straight but it would be a complete disaster to throw away the best hand for a relatively small bet in a pot so large, and I didn’t really know how he played and if he was crazy enough to make a razor thin value raise with K10.

Thankfully, he put me out of my misery by not raising, and not even calling, but folding instead. I insta-flipped up my KQ and the shorty mucked and quite a large pot was mine. I breathed a sigh of relief and the Russian said:

“You got lucky. I had 810. I knew you made two pair at the end.”

Wow, really? If what he was saying was true (and who knows if it was, since he mucked, and people lie) then I had gotten quite lucky on the river after being behind the whole way.

“I knew my two pair was good all along, but I knew you hit on the river. I was thinking about raising all in on the river, I thought you would have to fold.”

Now I was completely and utterly shocked. Who knew the Russian had that kind of sophistication in him? Certainly not me, and I never gave him credit for a line of thought that advanced throughout the entire hand. Whether he had the two pair he was claiming, or the weak one pair I had suggested earlier, the idea of turning a medium strength hand into a credible bluff was pretty impressive indeed on his part. I had to admit that I was sick about it, and didn’t honestly know what I would have done on the river.

In the end, I’m really unsure if how I played it was best. Also, it’s entirely possible that it took a river 5 outer for me to win, but I certainly was happy to see the big pot pushed my way. After another hour or so of uneventful play, the table broke and it was time to get dinner. It felt great to be in the black, and I took a half hour dinner break while I watched the football game.

Tune in for part 2 (which I should have up tomorrow), where I’ll describe the rest of my session and two more big pots….

First session in months.

Posted: December 23rd, 2009, by stak

I hadn’t set foot in a casino in a couple of months, and I was quite excited to get back to playing. Because I was traveling and playing with a buddy of mine, I ended up having to limit my play to the Taj, as opposed to my preferred casino, the Borgata. The Taj is the first casino I ever played in though, and I do feel something of an irrational affection for it, as I’ve said before. I knew this trip was unfortunately going to be a short one, but I hoped that the Taj would be good to me once again.

I arrived and went to the podium, only to find that there were only two 2/5 tables running. Sigh. This would never happen at Borgata. I put my name on the list and decided to sit in a 1/2 game to pass the time before I was called.

The first hand I see is opened to 10 from UTG and I fold my garbage. The hand plays out and the UTG player (complete with mirror sunglasses) ends up claiming the pot with A10. He then says “Yup, A10. I would have thought it was a bad hand too, but Phil Ivey plays it the same way. I used to never play it from early position, but then I saw Phil Ivey on tv raise from UTG with it, and he won the pot!”

Well done, sir. Thank God you watch poker on tv! How else would you know how to play A10 from utg? Armed with this valuable information you are basically equal to Ivey now, poker ability wise. Let’s ignore of course, the amount of players at Ivey’s table at the time, if it was a tournament versus a cash game, the dynamic at the table, the depth of the stacks, his read on the players, any number of a bajillion other factors that you couldn’t possibly even think of let alone process to arrive at the proper conclusion.

You are certainly a force to be feared at the table, even more so with those intimidating mirrored glasses you wear so none of us can see what you’re thinking while you stare into the depths of our soul. I think I speak for everyone in AC, my douchebag friend, when I say that we’re quaking with fear at your unfathomable poker superiority.

So I’m sitting at the 1/2 table and inwardly sighing/laughing/rolling my eyes at my table mates, and I end up waiting the better part of an hour. I chastise myself for not going to Borgata, but suck it up and make it over to my 2/5 table. Just so you don’t think I have zero respect for my opponents, there were a grand total of two players at my 2/5 table that seemed quite competent. One even used the word “float” in a sentence correctly, so kudos to them. The table as a whole wasn’t particularly tough though, as there was the usual assortment of clueless players, drunks, and old nitty guys rounding out the lineup. After a half hour or so of uneventful play I open a pair of KhKs to 20 from early position. A late position Asian gentleman that just sat down calls, as does the BB. The flop comes off 2hJh8h giving me an overpair and a K high flush draw. After a check to me I bet 2/3rds of the pot, $40, and the Asian gentleman instacrams his short stack in like Phil Hellmuth with the nuts. The BB folds and I make the easy call. My opponent only started the hand with $200 total, which means his raise of $140 is exactly the size of the pot. I call, and he has a black J8 offsuit for top two pair. I need any heart, K, 2, or running pair to win, but it’s not to be as the board bricks off. One of my tablemates consoles me: “Actually, you weren’t too big of an underdog, because a lot of cards could have helped you, you know, if you’re into that poker mathematics at all, you were only like a 60/40 underdog on the flop.” I simply responded with a shrug and “Eh, I’m not into any of that poker math stuff, it never works for me anyway” to which the rest of the table nodded their heads in agreement. I didn’t bother to correct him and explain that I was actually a small favorite because after all, who cares about that silly “poker mathematics stuff” anyway, right?

Stuck right off the bat is not exactly where I hoped to find myself, but I shook it off, thankful that he only had a short stack. About 20 minutes later, I find JJ in early position and raise it up to 20, getting 3 callers again. The flop comes excellent for me, 7QJ rainbow. I decide to lead in the hopes of building a big pot, and bet $40 again. This time, both opponents call and the 9c comes on the turn, putting a club flush draw up. This wasn’t the ideal card for my hand, but certainly presented no reason to slow down. Not wanting to bet too large and make my opponents fold a weak Q, I settled on a smallish lead, hoping to look weak. I bet only $75 dollars, and next to act, a kid about my age who had just sat down, declared “All in” He had just bought in so he was starting the hand with $500, which is also what I had.  The other opponent quickly folded and it was on me, fuck. I had no idea how this kid played, and his line felt like K10 to me right away. I immediately said: “Ugh, this is sick, you have K10 huh?” to which he put his headphones on and stopped looking at me.

I did some math in my head, The pot was $60 pre, $120 on the flop, and now $150 on the turn before his raise, meaning there was $330 in the pot. Before the hand, he had $500 meaning he was raising $365 into the $330 pot. He really did feel strong, but I couldn’t find a fold. There was always the possibility that he had a lower set (with 77 being most likely), as well as a couple of possible two pair combinations like  QJ Q9 and J9 (although these were less likely because I have blockers). I tried to convince myself that he could be making a crazy play with AQ or have some sort of weird combo draw. Plus, even if I was beat I could still win the huge pot if the board paired. After taking thirty seconds or so to study, I decided the pot was just laying me too good a price, and I, resigned to my fate, made the call saying “Alright, you got it. K10 is good.” Immediately, the kid took off his headphones and said “Yeah, I got the straight” and flipped up the K10. I was left looking for a QJ9 or 7 on the river, but it once more wasn’t to be, as it came a meaningless 5 and the very large pot was shipped away from me.

Just like that I was pretty buried, but I tried to shake off the last disastrous half hour, and rebought up to $5oo. The Villain from the first hand (with the J8) was playing really terrible poker, refusing to fold with anything resembling a draw, and had generally become the table target. About 45 minutes later I was starting to feel optimistic that I would catch him sooner or later, as he limped into a pot. I looked down at Kc10h on the button and decided to raise to $25 to try to isolate the fish with position. My plan worked like a charm as everyone, except him of course, folded. We took the flop heads up of KhJh2c giving me top pair with a 10 kicker. He checked to me, and knowing his inability to fold, I valuebet $35. He (big shock here) called. The turn came the 2h, pairing the board, as well as putting three hearts up and giving me a 10 high flush draw to go along with my pair. This time, he donked right into me betting $45. Hmm. Because he was generally a passive stationy type player, this was cause for concern. I suppose it was possible that he could have made trip deuces or even a flush, but against a player as terrible as him, I certainly wasn’t folding a strong hand. The river came the 8h giving me a ten high flush. Once more he bet right out, this time $60. The pot had become quite large now, and I couldn’t imagine ever folding or raising. The only thing that I could lose to was a full house, the Ah, or the Qh. I couldn’t raise either of course, as there are basically zero hands he could fade a raise with that I beat (even though he’s awful). I call and he announces “two pair” and shows the Ks. “No good, I have a flush” I say, tabling my hand grateful to have scooped the large pot and started my comeback toward the black.

Just then though, he jumps up out of his seat, raises his other card high in the air, and slams it on the table while making some bizarre vocalization resembling what Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid might yell when he was kicking ass. The card he slammed down was, of course, the Qh for a higher flush than mine. Cute. Several people at the table immediately made comments about what a classless slow roll it was, but I managed to hold my tongue and simply said “nice hand.” While I still felt pretty calm, I decided to get up, take a walk, and check on how my buddy was doing. After that, I went for a lap around the casino floor to make sure that I wasn’t steaming at all when I returned to the table. I pride myself on never tilting, and I certainly wasn’t going to allow this douchebag slowroller to throw me off my game.

Really buried now, I returned to the game and settled back in. After another hour or so in which nothing went right, I surveyed the damage. I was stuck more than I had ever been in a live game to my recollection, down a little more than $1500 dollars. Gross. I briefly considered quitting, but reflected that the game was still very good. Sitting at the table was still +EV, so I decided to play another couple of hours. In the next orbit, I won two medium sized pots (one with AQ when I raised preflop, bet the A high flop, and then took it down with a turn bet, and the other when I picked off a bluff  on the river with second pair) and was hoping that I was heading in the right direction.

With around a half hour left before my predetermined quitting time, I looked down to find two red aces. Utg (a passive player) raised to 15 and MP (an aggressive player, who made it clear to the table that he was God’s gift to poker, despite the fact that he didn’t play very well) called. Because both of them were pretty short stacked, I had an interesting decision. I couldn’t flat and allow the whole world behind me to call, but I didn’t want to shut them out with a large reraise either (this would perhaps be a good spot for a squeeze play if I had 87 of spades or something). I settled on a smallish reraise to only $45, hoping that one of them would cram AK or 1010 for their short stack. Instead though, both of them called (which is probably bad on their part, but it’s LOL live poker and who pays attention to stack sizes anyway?). The flop came J84 and they both checked to me. I considered checking, which I think in a vaccuum would be a pretty good play (especially if I was heads up against the aggressive player) but decided to instead lead small hoping to represent an AK that missed but felt obligated to follow through. I bet only $75 into a pot of $135, and the passive player folded. Sure enough though, the aggressive player pounced, check raising all in for $269 total. I made  the quick call (trying to silence the voice in my head that was saying “Lol, he has jacks you’re so fucked”) and tabled my aces. His reaction immediately told me that I was way ahead, and I watched the board blank off before he mucked. He later claimed he had queens, which I suppose makes sense and I might even believe. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if he had 10s or 9s or AJ or something and was trying to save face though. Frankly, I don’t give a damn what he had as long as his cards were in the muck and I had won my first big pot of the night.

Nothing too eventful happened the rest of the way poker wise, although our table did play host to a handful of well, let’s call them “characters.” Without sounding overly sterotypical, these were the type of people that are often in the Taj at 3 am, not the most savory individuals. I was disappointed though, that the dealers and floor people did an exceptionally poor job of keeping the game under control. While my table was admittedly being difficult to deal with, I thought the staff showed a disappointing lack of professionalism and competence in dealing with it.

Frequently, players were reaching over and touching others’ chips, putting chips into and taking chips out of their pockets during play, slowing down play, colluding by way of inappropriate table talk etc. etc. all while intimidating the dealer into inaction. For my part though, I can’t say as though I helped the situation. While normally I might speak up, I had struck up something of a rapport with my inebriated tablemates, and if they were going to keep getting drunk and playing terrible poker, I was going to put up with their drunken antics while taking their money. I do sympathize to some extent with the dealers, as I’m sure our table was very difficult to deal with. At the same time though, this is a perfect example of something that would never go on at the Borgata.

The Borgata is simply the best casino in Atlantic City in terms of dealer competence, floor staff, and overall professionalism. It’s really not even close. Unfortunately, it took a trip over to the Taj for me to really realize how bad some other places are compared to the Borg. I spoke earlier of my “irrational affection” for the Taj, well, I can truthfully say that’s over and done with. From here on out, I resolve to play at the Borgata absolutely any time that it’s humanly possible (and no, I’m not just saying that because I ran bad at the Taj, in fact, if you’ll recall, I won my biggest pot ever there).

At any rate, I racked up for the session stuck $864 dollars in 7 total hours of play. Because I was traveling with a friend, I didn’t get in the type of hours that I hopefully will going forward. Also, while this is definitely a hugely disappointing result, considering how much I was stuck at one point (and that I considered quitting at that point) it’s hard to be too upset about it. There’s a lot of winter break left, and I’m confident this is just a small blip in what is going to be a fun and profitable month for me.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted, but until then, thanks to everyone that is still following along.

I’m Baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack.

Posted: December 14th, 2009, by stak

First off, many apologies to everyone for leaving you hanging on the blog. I really honestly did mean to write a couple more posts and keep you all updated, but life happens and poker got put to the back burner.

As I think I mentioned, I play college soccer. Toward the end of the summer is when I really start ramping up for the upcoming season. I didn’t go back to Borgata at all in late July or August, and I never even considered going since the season started. Worse still, I haven’t even been playing online. School, family, friends, soccer, a social life, a job coaching soccer (which I’m very excited about!), weightroom, etc. etc. etc. have all left just no time at all for poker.

Also, disappointingly, I went on a downswing after the ridic heater to start my heads up career online. I ran really bad, and wasn’t nearly so good as I thought I was (huge shocker there), and it’s really killed any motivation I’ve had to grind online. Overall in my heads up career I’ve played just more than 37,000 hands for a winrate of 3.7bb/100 which is fairly blah considering I’ve only been playing 50nl-200nl.

But, as my finals end (I’m supposed to be writing my last term paper right now, but I’m procrastinating) my attention turns toward the Borgata once again as I prepare to make my “Ali-like return to the ring” and boy am I excited. I briefly flirted with the idea of grinding online all winter break, but that just sounds boring to me. I’m really itching to play some live poker after a full 5 months without setting foot in a card room.

I don’t want to go making any promises I can’t keep, but there’s an outside chance I’ll be heading down Thursday night for a one night session at the Borg. If that doesn’t happen (and it probably won’t, as I’m leaning toward getting drunk with friends up here to celebrate the end of finals) then I will for sure be down in AC the beginning of next week, for two days between Christmas and New Years, and then a lot more in January before I go back to school. I promise I’ll churn out as many blog posts as possible over this winter break to make up for all the ones I promised but never delivered over the end of the summer. I’m also toying with the idea of using this blog to talk about online poker too, and maybe some other stuff. Time will tell, and I don’t even know if there’s any interest for it.

At any rate, I’m not sure anyone will even read this anymore, but it’d be nice if people did (and feel free to drop me a line if you’re following along). Sorry again for flaking out over the summer, and I’m going to be much more diligent this time around. For real. Seriously though. I really am.

So stay tuned this next month as I win all the money!

Onwards and upwards,


More fun poker.

Posted: July 19th, 2009, by stak

Poker was easy these past two days, and I’m definitely grateful for it. I’ve had two easy, winning sessions without getting in any serious trouble at all. Never losing a big pot sure cuts down on the stress of poker!

Unfortunately, I really don’t have any interesting hands to report. In my one big hand of the day we take a flop off 5 handed with QJ offsuit and the flop comes 810A giving me a double gutter. The early position player bet out fairly large, but I flatted him hoping to make a well-disguised hand since we were both deep. The turn was a beautiful offsuit 9 and I got paid off just like I drew it up.

That was the only pot I played bigger than >$200 in the entire 7 hour session on Friday. For those of you familiar with how 2-5 plays, it’s very rare to play a whole session without playing any big pots but I really did. I saw lots of flops and was able to get away cheap when I flopped second-best. I don’t have much interesting to report aside from the fact that it went very well.

hours: 7

Results: +$389

I’ll update this week with a post I’ve been meaning to make on how online poker has been going for me lately, complete with a chat log that you’re sure to find interesting. Until then…

Fun Session

Posted: July 17th, 2009, by stak

I had a very good time playing last night, even if I didn’t break the bank. I genuinely enjoy live poker most of the time, and yesterday was definitely a fun session. To start with, my table was talkative and friendly, which is excellent both for my enjoyment and my EV. Mike Caro once wrote that “laughter is the most profitable sound in poker” and if you can find tables with lots of laughter you will have found the best tables in the room. I strongly agree and I was at one of those fun and profitable tables all night.

I picked up AK three times in my first two orbits or so, whiffed the flop every time, but didn’t lose too much, fortunately. After around two hours I had barely won a pot and was stuck about $200 but wasn’t particularly worried. The table was good, with plenty of action, and one very loose player who had run $500 into about $4k by running hot as the sun and never folding…a lethal combination. (He was a really nice guy though, and later showed me a card in a big pot that let me fold)

My first  significant pot came against him, when he raised to $25 as he was doing quite frequently with any two cards that had even the most remote relationship to each other. His range was so wide it would probably be faster to tell you the holdings that weren’t a possibility. At any rate, I called with QhJc as did two others and we took the flop four handed with $400 in the pot. The flop came 2h10hKh giving me an open ended straight draw and the second nut flush draw. It checked to Nice Crazy Guy (NCG) and he bet out $80. He was certainly capable of doing this as a complete bluff and it could just as easily signify a hand like 10j for a middle pair (with or without a heart to go with it). One person folded and it was on me.

I figured to be doing very well against his range, and was perfectly fine with getting it in on the flop (especially with the $100 of dead money already in the middle) because I only had about $415 left total. I had a bit of a problem though, as I think just shoving would sort of look like a flush draw and he was certainly apt to call with any piece. I almost certainly wouldn’t shove with a flopped flush, and I thought he would see shoving as weakness and look for an excuse to call with any piece/draw. While I was fine with him calling, obviously with queen high I would like to generate as much fold equity as possible. I decided to make a goofy small raise to only $200 total. It would shut out the other player, and hopefully look strong to NCG. If he shoved obviously I would beat him in the pot, and if he flat called I had left myself a little more than $200 to shove on the turn and maybe give him one more chance to fold.

He thought about it for awhile and reluctantly folded. God only knows what he had but I was perfectly fine with taking the pot down without a showdown.

I felt like I was playing extremely well all told. I was staying out of trouble while still playing lots of pots and carrying on three conversations at once with all the drunk fun-loving people at my table. I was confident that my reads were pretty spot on and feeling good about the session. Almost every hand was raised preflop and called 4 or 5 ways, and some really large pots were being played so I knew it would be a swingy night.

On one small pot I completed the small blind with KJ clubs (it was rare to have a limped pot) and we took the flop off 5 handed. The flop was Kh9h5c giving me top pair but with a flushdraw out. I bet out $15 and got one caller, my Lol live reads told me that he 100% had a draw and not a pocket pair or a weaker king. From his demeanor and the way he called the flop bet, I would have bet all the money in the world that he was drawing and I was ahead. If my read was right than the turn card was great for me, another 5 putting up K955. I bet out $30 this time and he called with little hesitation. I was praying for no heart (and no straight cards, but mostly no heart) and my prayers were answered with the quintessential blank…a black deuce. Now I was all but positive he had a busted draw, and obviously there was no sense in betting any more. He couldn’t call any value bets, and maybe if I checked I could induce a bluff. (Incidentally, it would have been much better had a black Ace fallen, as he would be more likely to bluff the “scare card”) At any rate, I thought and checked and I could see the wheels start turning in his head. His thoughts were roughly “I have a busted draw but he just checked. Zomg weakness! I better pounce like Moneymaker when he bluffed Farha in the World Series.” He counted out a bet of $75 and pushed it forward. Perfect. I called and he instantly said “Nice call” and mucked. Easy game.

A while later I would play a hand slightly less wonderfully. EP raised to $25 and a bunch of people called, as did I with 57 of clubs and the button. We took the flop off 6 handed for $25 a man. It came 48A with 1 club, not exactly the ideal flop for my hand, but it did give me a gutshot and a backdoor flush draw. The original raiser checked and, to my surprise it checked all the way around to me. It’s always tempting to bluff at a pot with $150 in it, but I thought surely someone had to have an ace or better and I didn’t have much of a chance of getting everyone to fold. I did have a gutshot after all so I decided to just check and let a free one roll off. I prayed with all my might to the poker gods for a 6. They didn’t listen to me, instead putting the A of clubs on the turn.

That was an interesting card though, as it made it less likely that someone had an ace and also gave me a flush draw to go with my gutshot. To my surprise again it folded around to the nice bald gentleman (NBG) to my right, who thought and bet $35 into $150. Hmmm. I couldn’t fold, and normally his bet sizing might make me suspect he had an ace, but I “felt” he was kind of weak. It just didn’t seem like a very strong hand to me, and I considered raising the turn as a semi-bluff. I doubt anyone with a real hand would check twice and thought I could either win the pot with my turn semibluff, a river bluff, or if I improved to the best hand. I finally decided not to pull the trigger though, as I didn’t want him to reraise and blow me off the hand if he did have an ace. I figured his range to consist of trip aces and random pocket pairs that he thinks might be good like 99 77 and the like.

I figured to be drawing at 13 outs on the river but missed them all, as it came the 9s. I figured he would give up if he had the weakish pocket pair, and I would bluff and take him off the hand. If he did have trips he would probably bet again and I would have to fold. With the action on him, he thought for a little and made another small bet of $50. Again, he didn’t really feel strong to me but I also didn’t think him the type to fold any sort of made hand. I figured his most likely value-betting hand on the turn was 99 though, and that had just improved to a full house. Ultimately, I decided not to pull the trigger on my bluff, as he was too reluctant to fold in general and too likely to have an A or a full house (I really suspected 99 before the river, so it was definitely a possibility) . I folded after some thought and he showed 82. Fuuuuuuuuck. He did have a weak middle pair and I’m sure he would have insta-folded had I raised. Ugh. He played the hand real goofy too, but I guess congrats to him. Had he checked the river like I would have expected he would have lost himself the whole pot when I made it $100. He froze me with his little blocking bet (I doubt he was sophisticated enough to think of it as a blocking bet, but still) and won the whole pot. I’m the worst.

I shook that one off without berating myself too much for missing such a good bluff attempt, and still felt that overall I was playing well. Later, I flopped a straight with J9 of diamonds on a 7h8h10h board. I checked to the original raiser who bet $40 with what I was reasonably certain was AhKx or AxKh and I check raised $100 more. He thought and called and my read was even more confirmed. The river came the Qd and he checked, and without much more than a pot sized bet behind him, I just shoved. He thoughtfor a long time and folded (must have had AxKh because no one ever folds the nut flush draw!) and I had won another decent sized pot.

Before too long, it had reached my pre-determined 3:00 AM quitting time so I racked up. I had mounted a little comeback since being stuck $200 and although the session was quite gambly (that’s almost definitely not a word) and swingy I ended up ahead.


Hours: 6.5

Results: +$248.

As I write this it’s 12:30 on Friday afternoon, and I’m getting ready to head over to the room to play another session. I plan on playing another decent length session, probably in the 7-10 hour range. Hopefully I’ll have more fun, win more money, and play a few more interesting hands for the blog. Until then…

Friday Afternoon.

Posted: July 11th, 2009, by stak

I rolled out of bed Friday morning and wrote my blog about the past night’s uneventful play. I headed over to the room and decided I would play between 5 and 7 hours depending on table conditions.

I was happy to see early on that I had landed at a fairly loose, fairly fishy table. I saw a pretty hilarious hand in my first orbit, that really highlights how unbelievably terrible people are at poker.

Fast forward to the turn, and there’s heads up action on a 45K8 board with two diamonds and two spades. Seat 3 bets $40 into about a $40 pot, and Seat 8 moves all in for $260 more, $340 total. Seat 3, faced with a $260 bet into a $120 pot goes into the tank. Seat 8 shows him his hand while he’s deliberating.

That’s right, Seat 8 moved in for a large overbet and then showed his opponent his hand while he was deliberating. I had to double check and rub my eyes to make sure that I saw what I thought I was seeing but sure enough, Seat 8 held 67 offsuit for the nuts. Wtf? Who makes the nuts, moves all in big and then shows their opponent their hand? As if the hand wasn’t funny enough…Seat 3 tanks for another full minute or more, even though he’s seen his opponent has the nuts. He admits he has a flush draw and finally folds, and then immediately regrets his decision and bemoans the fact that he “didn’t have the guts” to call (despite the fact that he was facing a bet more than twice the size of the pot with one to come).

This of course, is exactly what Seat 8 wanted…and if that wasn’t funny enough, no one at the table thought anything odd had happened. In fact, several people congratulated Seat 8 on his advanced play saying stuff like: “That was so smart.” “Don’t want to let anyone draw at you!” and “Very nice play.”

People fundamentally misunderstand the game so badly sometimes it’s scary.

At any rate, needless to say the game was good.

It started out fairly annoying though, as I flopped two sets and lost to rivered flushes both times. I was content that I lost the minimum both times, and in one case I bet the flop, bet the turn, and then check folded the river. My opponent showed me the rivered nut flush so I guess I played the hand about as well as I could (short of the obv advanced play of moving all in on the turn and showing him a set so he stopped drawing).

My biggest pot of the night came soon after that. I try to be pretty cognizant of my table image at all times, and when the table started playing really loose and crazy I had a stretch of about an hour where I was really, really, really card dead. I’m a fairly loose player in general, but even I don’t get involved with an endless string of J3′s  and 94′s.

The table was noticing (and several people commented) that I had been playing tight and started ribbing me good-naturedly about it. I decided it would be a pretty good time to pull a preflop squeeze with air. Before a good spot came up though, I looked down at two red queens, and EP raised to $20 (he was a pretty crazy player who never folded and his range was ridic wide).

In this case I actually had too strong a hand to 3bet, if that makes any sense. I was pretty certain that if I reraised to $65-70, everyone would put me on aces or kings (because everyone loves to think they’re making good reads) since I’d been so quiet. That would stop me from getting action from hands I wanted action from and allow my opponents to play fairly well against me after the flop. If I wanted to run a big bluff I could do it with 36, but here I had queens and didn’t want to kill my action. I decided to flatcall, understanding that my hand would be way underrepresented, which could get me good value later on in the hand. Also, if an A or K flopped I would be able to get away fairly cheap.

I flat with queens fairly frequently in general, but this time I had a specific reason (and paradoxically, that reason was that I had been playing tight).

At any rate, 6 (!) people called the $20 raise (decidedly not what I had in mind) and we took the flop of 458 rainbow. The original raiser bet out $35, got one caller (a pretty loose passive player) and it was on me. Folding was obviously out of the question. If I called, I think I would encourage others to call behind me with any piece, and I’d really be flying blind on the turn. Although the idea of “raising for information” is generally a really bad justification for a play, I decided to raise it up. For one thing, it would give me a lot of information (I know I just said that was bad but shut up), as anyone with a set or straight or two pair would be pretty much forced to declare their hand on the flop. Also of course, I figured to be ahead of both players’ ranges, so I was raising for value. Finally, since I had position on both opponents, it would allow me to control the size of the pot later on in the hand if I thinned the field to only one or two opponents whom I had position on.

At the same time, if someone did have a set or a straight or two pair (a very real possibility) I would lose the hand. Thus, I wanted to make a rather small raise that would allow me to get off the hand cheaply if it became clear I was beat, but still extract value, thin the field, control pot etc. etc. I chose to raise just $50 more to $85 total (the type of laughably small raise you can get away with live but would never try online).

Everyone folded around to the original raiser who called. I expected his range to still be pretty wide, and definitely to consist of pairs smaller than mine. I would expect him to raise most of the time (but not always) if he had me beat. Then the passive player called my raise as well, which was far more troubling. Because of his style, I thought it was very possible that he might have a weak two pair or even a set, and was waiting for either a safe card or to make a big move on the turn.

The turn came a 3, making the board 3458 full rainbow. Original raiser insta-checked and I definitely thought he was fairly weak, and the passive player thought and checked. I decided that I probably had the best hand, but there was still a chance that passive was trapping with a monster, waiting to checkraise both of us big on the turn. As I probably wasn’t getting 3 streets of value from anything, I decided to check the turn and valuebet a safe river. If Passive did have me beat, then HE would vb the river and I could call. I figured this line probably protected me the most when I was beat and allowed me to extract as much or more when I was ahead, so I thought and checked behind on the turn.

The river was a fairly ugly 6, making the final board 34568. It was possible that one of my opponents had a 7 which would now give them the winning straight, but they both checked fairly quickly. Unfortunately, the fact that there was 4  to a straight now on board was probably going to stop me from getting action. I couldn’t really think of any way they could call with anything I beat, and I didn’t want to valuetown myself against two pair or a set that was scared of the straight. Also, obviously, I would be in a gross spot if I got raised, and didn’t want to turn my hand into a bluff, so I chickened out and checked. The preflop raiser insta tabled A10 for no pair no draw. Lord knows what he was doing.

I said “I can beat that.” and Passive looked ready to fold his hand. I tabled my queens and he mucked, giving me a sizable pot. I honestly have no clue what he had, but wish I had made a better read (I thought he was strong) and bet the turn. All in all though, I’m pretty happy with my decisions in the hand, even though I played it very unconventionally.

That dug me out of the hole caused by the sets<flushes hands, but I lost a few more small and medium pots with whiffed set mines and the like. As my session ended I got three streets of value with a flush and as the 5 hour mark arrived I decided to rack up. At the window I learned that I raked in a whopping $21 all told on the session. Not exactly what I was looking for but hey, it’s better than being stuck!

Unbelievably, I didn’t hit the bad beat jackpot the entire time I played Thursday or Friday. God I run so bad.


Hours: 5

Results: +$21.

Whatever. I’ll take it. I’m not quite sure as to the plan for next week, but I’ll definitely be down for a day or two (and maybe three or four). Until then…

Quick Update.

Posted: July 10th, 2009, by stak

I’m ready to finally talk about something other than tipping for once!

To be completely honest, I knew as I was giving my tip that the vast majority of people would think it was too small. I knew as I was writing the blog that I would get a lot of negative feedback on it, and I was right. That’s fine with me, as I’ve explained my point of view numerous times and am comfortable with the decisions I made. It’s perfectly fine of course, for you guys to still disagree with me and I welcome the criticism as well as the kind words from blog readers.

At any rate, I finally made it down to Borgata again late Wednesday night. I’ve been crazy busy with soccer stuff lately, but I made it to the table at 11:30pm to start a quick 3 hour session before bed. In my first orbit I flop two pair and top pair with KQ and get neither pot, so I’m stuck slightly right off the bat.

After an hour or so the older Asian gentlemen in the 7 seat raised to $15 and I flatted on the button with AcQs. Obviously I’m never going to fold, but I honestly think folding is better than 3betting in this spot…that’s how bad I think 3 betting is. At any rate, we take the flop 4 handed, and it is 9c9dQc giving me top pair on a dangerous board. It’s checked around to me and I bet $30 for value. The young Asian woman in the 5 seat calls as does the recreational player (RP) in the 6 seat, the original raiser folds.

At this point, it’s entirely possible (even likely) that one of my opponents is slowplaying with a 9. They could also have weaker queens as well as straight draws and flush draws. The turn comes the Kc, filling all the flush and straight draws, as well as putting an overcard up. On the positive side however, it gives me the nfd to go along with my pair. The 7 seat checks and RP tanks for a while before counting out a bet of $55. Unfortunately for me, his range is really wide here. It is conceivable that he is following through with his slow-played-9 on the flop. He also could certainly have a straight or a flush already based on how he’s played the hand, and it’s difficult for me to tell which. That being said, I have a pretty strong hand, I think I have at least 11 outs (and might have the best hand right now of course), and he’s bet fairly small into a largish pot so I don’t think I should fold. Raising looks quite strong, but I think in reality it merely folds out worse hands and gets action from better ones. I elect to flat call and hope for a Q or a club.

Luckily for me the river comes the 5c, making me the nut flush. As the board is paired, I don’t have the nuts but my hand is very strong and figures to be best (I don’t expect him to have a full house as I think this particular villain would check the turn generally, it’s always possible of course). RP goes into the tank for even longer than he did on the turn, a ploy used almost exclusively to dissuade me from betting. He pretty obviously hates the river card, wants to pretend that he’s strong/considering a move, so I’ll check the river and he can get a free showdown for his straight or trips. This would be a great spot to bluff…except I have the best hand so I can’t! The pot has well over $300 in it, so I decide to value bete $100, and he sighs, shows KQ, and folds. Maybe I should have bet $50, as he may well have called. Live, even if it’s 1/3 the pot, $100 is ALWAYS a big bet.

At any rate, my three hour session passes by largely uneventfully. I lose a decent size pot where I whiff a 15 outer, and then win a decent one when I turn a straight with Q10s. It gets to 2:30 (my predetermined quitting time) and since the table isn’t especially juicy I rack up.

Hours: 3
Results: +$25.

Sorry…I can’t hit the Bad Beat Jackpot and start a tipping controversy every session! I’ll try to play some more interesting hands in today’s session so that tonight’s/tomorrow morning’s blog is a little more interesting. Or, hell, I’ll just hit the BBJ again!

Decidedly Not my Worst Session Ever

Posted: July 3rd, 2009, by stak

I woke up and rolled out of bed in time for 12 noon checkout. I was still pretty disappointed in having my worst session ever the night before, but knew that I had a long day of grinding ahead of me and the games should prove juicy.

In my first orbit I flopped a small straight and won a decent sized pot. Soon after I made a standard raise with KK, and then took down the pot with a continuation bet. Early on I was up over $100, and feeling good to be headed back in the right direction.

I was paying good attention to the table, even after I had folded, and soon an interesting pot developed. Raised preflop with 3 callers, the flop came 10sQsKs and the original raiser bet out $100. Another older guy smooth called and the young asian with sunglasses flatted as well. It was pretty obvious there were some big hands out and I was trying to decide who had what.

The turn paired the board with the 10h, and the original raiser checked. Hmm, maybe he had aces with the As and now is afraid his flush draw might not even be live. Next to act then bet out $100 which certainly seemed like he probably had a big hand (because he had bet pretty small). Young competent Asian kid then smooth called the $100, which simply had to be a big hand, and before I could try to assign ranges the original raiser (who had checked the turn) moved all in. My first thought was that he had quad tens (everyone checks when they make quads!), as it was the only thing that would really make sense to me.

Immediately the older gentleman pushed, and the young Asian snap shoved all in as well. My heart leapt. Zomg, bad beat one time. I said to the guy next to me: “Bad beat right here, let’s do it.” There was a good chance in my mind we were at least drawing live at it.

Sure enough, young Asian insta-tables AsJs for a flopped royal flush. Perfect! The older gentleman tabled KK for kings full. Zomg, king on the river one time dealer! Wait a minute…the original raiser has quad tens right? I open my mouth to ask if he has tens, queens, or aces (the only hands that make sense to me), but before I can get the words out he rolls his hand over and there they were, the most beautiful two tens I’ve ever seen in my life.

I hop out of my chair, as I’m the first one at the table who realizes what happened. I look at the two tens in front of the old guy, and then look at the board to verify that there are indeed two more tens there. Two tens in his hand, plus two tens on the board equals four tens, imo. I’m not seeing this wrong.

Then I look at the board again and see 10sQsKs, which seems to match up with the Asian’s AsJs perfectly to make a royal flush. By the time I’ve verified 100% that there’s no mistake and we have indeed hit the bad beat jackpot, the dealer has burned and turned the meaningless 7c, and the table has realized that we’ve won as well. Almost instantly there are a bunch of floor people and onlookers crowded around the table to get a view of what happened. I verify one last time that the tabled hands do indeed represent a qualifying combination.

I think back to if there had been any conversation during the hand that could possibly disqualify us…there hadn’t. I can’t remember what I folded, but reassure myself that I haven’t left my seat in the hour or so that I’ve been there, and was surely dealt in the hand.

As the floor comes over and confirms that we’ve won, I do some quick mathematics in my head. 40% of 176,000 is around 70k. Divided by 8 people at the table and my share should be almost $9,000. Ship it! This sure makes up for how bad I ran last night.

After a little while the guy two seats to my left announces that he had been in the bathroom and, though he saw the hand take place, he wasn’t dealt in and was therefore ineligible. Perhaps it’s a bit cynical, but my first thought was “Ship the extra 1k and change.”

The nice fellow to my right points out that, without his bathroom run, the jackpot wouldn’t have been hit at all and the table should all throw some money in to give this guy something.

I’m not overly thrilled with this idea, but I guess I’ll go along. As we sit and wait for the paperwork to go through though (and for Stan to review the tapes and confirm we won), the guy who had been in the bathroom starts telling everyone he sees that “They wouldn’t have won without me. Now I am not getting anything. Everyone should give me some money so I don’t walk away empty handed.”

He was telling floor people, people who were looking on, and he made it a point to tell everyone at the table pointedly more than once. Before long, he was outright begging for money and acting as though he was entitled to a significant amount. Because I hadn’t agreed to anything, he seemed determined to keep mentioning it as often as possible while looking in my direction. At one point, a railbird said “They should give you something, man.” to which he stared right at me and said “I know they should. I can’t control whether they do the right thing or not.”

That was the moment when any chance of me giving him so much as a white chip went out the window. I don’t think I’m a particularly greedy person, and I probably would have thrown him something if I had been playing with him for a long time, I really liked him, or what have you. Because of his behavior though, and because I felt strongly that he was trying to pressure and shame me into giving him something, I decided resolutely not to give him a dime.

I had to think about what to tip the dealer though. Generally, I’m not a crazy tipper. I’ve never in my life tipped more than $1 for a pot, and frankly I don’t understand it at all. I see people go on rushes and start tipping the dealer $5, $10, and $15 at a time, and am constantly baffled by the damage they are doing to their hourly rate. Just to be clear, I’m not a stiff. I do tip when I win pots, but I only tip $1 and my tip amount obviously doesn’t change based on the size of the pot. Excellent dealers get tipped extra by me at the end of their down, bad dealers get tipped nothing.

In this case though, I think I would have to make an exception to my normal practice of $1. It was customary, after all, to tip the dealer more when the Bad Beat Jackpot is won. Also, while not exceptional, the dealer had not made any mistakes and seemed a nice guy. He was decidedly NOT pandering for tips, and answered appropriately whenever someone asked him about how much he had been tipped. That being said, it seemed crazy to me to tip extravagantly, as while I don’t mind giving away money, I have many broke friends who I’d rather give a couple hundred dollars to then this dealer.

Ultimately, I decided on $50 plus whatever whites I had, which ended up being $57 or $58. I did sort of feel cheap but ultimately felt that was fair. I was very happy to see that the winner of the biggest share ($70k+) tipped the dealer a very generous $2500. This all but eliminated any feelings of cheapness I had, as the dealer had certainly been generously taken care of, even if it was by someone besides me.

After around an hour, they came with our paper work, and my decision to rack up was pretty easy. I was more than satisfied with how my day wound up, and had no interest in doing any more grinding.

I went to the cage and they handed me the cash (I would have preferred a check but whatever) and I called it a day.

I’m thrilled at my good fortune, and it will certainly allow me to fully enjoy my July 4th weekend, which I plan to spend drinking beers and barbecuing with my friends. For the moment at least (until my next downswing!) life is good.


Hours: 2

Results: +$137.

Bad Beat jackpot results: $10,069.

Ship it!!!

My Worst Session Ever

Posted: July 3rd, 2009, by stak

I suppose the title pretty much says it all. My first hour or so at the table was a pretty good indicator of how my night would end up going. It was especially disappointing because I think the games I played tonight were among the best I’ve ever sat in at the Borgata. There was plenty of alcohol, fast and loose action, blind raises, blind all-in raises, and awful poker left and right. I knew immediately that variance would be high but it was certainly a night where a lot of money could be won.

About 20 minutes after I sit down I raise to 25 with two black aces and get 3 callers. The flop comes relatively safe for me, 225. While my opponents are playing badly and loose, I don’t imagine any of them would have called with a 2 in their hand, so not only did my hand still figure to be the best, but I also would be able to hopefully extract value from lower pocket pairs than mine.

It checked around to me, and I cbet 45, not wanting to bet too big and dissuade 66-jj from calling. It folded around to tightish young kid in the 1 seat who flat called. He had bought in short stacked, and only had another 125 behind after his flop call, which wasn’t even a pot sized bet. I figured he had 88 or 99 or something in that range, and was hoping for no K or A to kill my action. I was fairly sure I would get the rest of his money in since he had so little left. The turn was a 3, which was just fine with me. It didn’t figure to have improved him and shouldn’t scare him away. Before I had a chance to set him all in though, he bet out 50 of his 125ish. Hmmm, I guess he was making some weird blocking bet, but it all amounted to the same thing anyway, considering how short he was, so I moved him in. He snap called and tabled 55 for a flopped full house. Sigh. I missed my 2 outer and was in the hole right off the bat.

The guy to my right was playing really wild. Frequently blind raising to $50, making huge bets and raises with nothing, and obviously getting paid off big when he made a goofy two pair with Q3 or something. I don’t think he folded preflop for hours, and he was hyper aggressive. Being directly to his left was perfect, and I was grateful for my table position. We would soon tangle in a big pot.

I had rebought up to about $500 and I saw a free flop from the big blind with 64 off suit. The flop came 5710 rainbow giving me an open ended straight draw. Crazy guy bet out $20 and I flat called, and surprisingly (for the amount of action at this table) I was the only one to do so. The turn was an 8, which made me a small straight and put a flush draw up. Perfect. Well, actually, a 3 would have made me the nut straight so that would have been perfect… but hey, I take what I can get.

Sure enough, here comes Mr. Crazy, betting $40. I consider just flat calling, but there are lots of bad cards for my hand that can come…both cards that could kill my action or make my hand extremely vulnerable. Not only that, but since Mr. Crazy was so against folding, I decided I wanted to make the pot bigger as soon as possible. I raised $70 more to $110 total.

He thought for a little and said “I’m all in.”

Wow. I didn’t expect that. I was pretty sure I could never ever fold to this guy with a straight, but I decided to take a second to think it over. There are only two hands that beat me, 9J and 69, and neither of them make sense. While Mr. Crazy hates folding, I don’t think he would lead the flop into 7 players with just a gutshot. The fact that he led the flop and the turn makes me think he flopped a pair and perhaps turned two pair, which he thinks is good. I’m almost 100% sure I have the best hand so I call and tell him “I have a straight.”

I can tell from his reaction that it’s good but he doesn’t show his hand so I don’t know what I need to fade (if he’s even drawing live). I sense I don’t want the board to pair, and it doesn’t, but it comes a 6 for a final board of 571086, Mr. Crazy pumps his fist and turns over 109 for a rivered straight. My read was pretty dead on, as he had flopped top pair and turned an open-ender and then bizarrely turned it into a semibluff (although I doubt he knew that his pair could never be good). When the money went in on the turn, he had 7 outs to win the 1k pot…but, as has been happening an awful lot to me lately, he got there.

I was pretty frustrated after getting sucked out on in another huge pot, but tried to shake it off and remind myself that the table was good and I had a long night ahead of me. Unfortunately, the rest of the night was more of the same.

I don’t want this to be one of those blogs where the author whines about bad beats and bemoans his rotten luck constantly. It’s not interesting, and it doesn’t help anyone, so I’ll stop now before I go down that road too far. Suffice it to say that for the rest of the night I continued to run as bad as I ever have. I almost never made a big hand, but when I did it promptly got cracked. It was pretty ugly, but writing bad beat stories is just as boring as hearing them (and reading them) so I’ll spare you the gory details.

I did play one more interesting pot, as it got close to quitting time.

Late in the night, as the table got worse, I decided I was only playing one more orbit (which is a big step for me, as I usually am reluctant to quit when I’m buried). The table was still pretty decent, as almost every hand was still limped 6 or 7 ways preflop and Mr. Crazy was still to my right (although he had calmed down a bit.)

On my second to last hand of the night I looked down at A9 offsuit and limped along with everyone else. For what seemed like the first time all night I flopped something! Not much, but something. The flop was Ac3h4h giving me top pair. I bet $15 and got one caller…you guessed it: Mr. Crazy. He really doesn’t like folding.

I was happy he called in that I was way ahead of his range, but I knew that the hand would be difficult to play against someone so unpredictable, especially considering there were lots of bad cards that could come. The turn was a fairly innocuous 10c, putting a second flush draw up. He checked and I decided to keep valuebetting my hand, knowing he wouldn’t fold any piece. I bet $25 and he raised to $75.

I only had one pair, and against most villains I would strongly consider folding but this guy just played too crazy, he could easily be semibluffing if he picked up a draw or have complete air, as well as goofy two pairs and so on.

I called his raise and the river came the 5c, completing the backdoor flush draw. He quickly bet out $100, and I wondered vaguely what poker God I had offended tonight. I was in a pretty gross river spot, as many draws had gotten there and I only had one pair with a weak kicker (again, I had A9 and the final board was Ac3h4h10c5c). This was one of those times where I took a little while to study my opponent, and I “felt” that he was pretty weak. While my hand was quite vulnerable, I reminded myself to trust my reads, and made the call. He tabled A6 and my hand was good for a decent sized pot.

In retrospect, I don’t know whether he was bluffing or valuebetting, and to be perfectly honest I don’t think he does either. Regardless, I was happy with the pretty big call I had made and my correct read, and also happy to have won my biggest pot of the session (you know it was a bad session when that’s your biggest pot!)

At one point, I had been buried more than $1500, but I racked up stuck only $1251. Losing that much in a session really really hurts, but I’m comforted by the fact that I played well and didn’t tilt at all. I plan on playing another session tomorrow (Friday) although whether I play 2 hours or 8 I haven’t quite decided yet.

As disappointed as I am, I understand that everyone goes through losing streaks and has the occasional bad session. I’m confident in my game and if I ever start fading 7 and 8 outers I might win a lot of money in a hurry.

Hope springs eternal!

Hours: 5

Results: -$1251.