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Last session of 2009 (part 2)

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.