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Clock Watching (AC Trip Report Pt 1)

Where to begin. I suppose the beginning.

I was desperately happy to leave the office at 2:00-ish on Friday, heading home to meet Dave Roose before we drove to Atlantic City. Right before I left, I had a meeting with one partner, where I learned that I needed to draft and send out a document as soon as my weekend ended, and then received a call from another partner, where I was asked to handle a minor task, and then was berated for doing it.

It's not the best way to start your stress-free vacation, but it had to do. On the train ride back to my apartment, I chose to silently meditate. Whatever was happening at the office could wait a few days, so it made little sense for me to bring the stress with me.

At home, I grabbed some food and changed out of my work clothes. My travel bag was already packed, and consisted of a couple of changes of clothes and my usual poker gear (iPod, hat, sunglasses, Buddha card cap). It was all packed the night before, while wifey Kim slumbered. My goal was to make a quick transition from home to Roose's car, and I was successful for the most part. Unfortunately, he also had to stop by his newlywed wife's office to drop off their laptop. She wasn't where she was supposed to be or we weren't where we were supposed to be, but whatever the case, 30 minutes and an spousal argument later, and we were on the road, with Roose carrying his marriage baggage and me carrying my work baggage. Ironically, the smallest baggage in the car were our travel baggage; Roose and I have a silent competition to see who can bring less on a weekend trip. He won again; my backpack was bursting at the seams. His small duffle bag looked hollow.

We had left NYC at about 3:15 and arrived in AC at around 6pm. Roose and I were staying at the Tropicana Casino Hotel, located at the opposite end of the Boardwalk as our usual hotel, the Showboat. In fact, we were originally booked at the Showboat, the official Atlantic City Casino/Hotel of High on Poker, but switched the to Trop to save over $350 over two nights. The Tropicana has a special poker room players' card. If you have an average of 4 hours of cash game sessions per trip or higher, you can get the special poker room rate. The room rate has one requirement, that you complete 4 hours of poker for each night that you visit (i.e., a 4-hr average requirement to get the deal, and a 4-hr per night play through to keep the rate). My average was only 3.5hrs, but I used some of my charm over the phone and got the deal anyway. I figured that playing 4-hrs of cash per day would be a walk in the park. But we'll get to that later.

Roose and I were settled in and decided to look for something to eat. The Trop has the best restaurant selection in AC, due to their new Havana-themed Quarter, essentially a little mall within their hotel. It may be fairly common to have that sort of shopping in a Vegas hotel, but AC is just catching up with the concept, which will be expounded upon in the three currently under-construction new hotels.

We opted for Ri Ra, an Irish pub, due to the lack of wait-time and the adequate menu. I opted for a simple burger to help settle my upset stomach. I got mac & cheese as the side. Roose opted for the spicy chicken sandwich. During the meal, we were both staring at the TVs around the room. It was clear that even though we were sitting at dinner, our minds were already in the poker room.

After dinner, we headed to the poker room. My plan was to start my 4-hour "shift" necessary for the cheaper room rate. Unfortunatley, Roose is a tourney whore, and wanted to enter the 7:15pm $100 poker tournament, which had just started. He inquired and we were added to an alternate list. Within 10 minutes, a new table was added to the tournament, consisting of Roose, me, and the other 5 alternates, and we were under way, about 15 minutes into the first 20 minute blind period.

The first table was calm enough. I pretty much just folded. There wasn't much to be done. When I bet, I generally got respect. There really isn't much to say because I did not reach showdown once. Eventually, our table broke (it was the first to break), and I was moved to a new table with players who were clearly more skilled than the first group. I remained relatively tight, with bursts of aggression when appropriate. With full tables and a 10k starting stack, I was in no rush. I got into a few hands with an old man and old woman across the table, but other than that, I just played a tight game and won most pots I entered. In fact, I didn't reach showdown once at that table either.

From all of this, I had gone from 10k up to maybe 18k at my peak. Roose, meanwhile, was making all sorts of noise at his new table...literally. I was sitting there folding away when I hear, "YEAH BABY!" Actually, it was more like. "OH YEAH BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" I looked over and it was Davey Boy standing up and cheering like a mad man. I later found out that his pocket Kings held up against two all-in players. My boy had amassed a 40k+ stack.

A little while later, I felt my leg vibrate and I took out my cell phone. A text message was received from Dave Ruff reading, "I'm here." I checked the clock, 9:00. SHIT! On the carride to AC, Roose and I were discussing prop bets. We argued for a good 20 minutes to set a line for Ruff's arrival. I took 9:01 and under. He took 9:02 and up. I really wanted 9:05, but it is what it is.

To avoid any confusion, Roose and I agreed that Ruff's arrival was official when we first saw him. The text didn't qualify. I stood up at my seat and stared at the entrance to the poker room. If he entered the room, I wanted him to see me right away so I could win the bet. I stared at that door for 120 seconds but had no luck. I sat down, resigned to the fact that I lost the first prop bet of the trip. 40 seconds later, Ruff strolled in and said hello. I just handed him the prop bet money and told him to drop it off at Roose's table. Fungool!

I continued to grind it out until I was moved once again. This new table looked great. There was one tilting player from my old table and a couple of old guys, a couple of nerds who looked nervous as all shit, a rowdy black guy who musta been rich if you believed all of the gold dollar sign decals all over his velor jacket and matching baseball cap, and a punky-looking kid to my immediate left. I actually noticed the punk from my first seat in the tournament. From my first seat, I was pretty much staring right at him (he was at another table). I saw him chatting up the girl sitting next to him at the beginning stages of the tournament, and then I saw them cuddling up during a break. I figured out that they were dating, and I was incredulous that they would be seated right next to each other during a tournament. Once I was closer, I realized that she was just railbirding him. I wasn't concerned, and started a conversation with the cute couple. I was trying to get a vibe on the table, and the punk pointed out the dollar-sign-wearing black guy and said that he was super annoying. Apparently, he never knew what the action was, and would take 5 minutes per decision. "I'll bust him for you, then."

I busted him two hands later. I was dealt A9s and limped in late position. The black guy was in the BB and checked. The flop was AAx. It checked around (there were two MP players in the pot). The turn was a King. The black guy pushed all-in and everyone else folded. I called and took down the pot. It was the first hand I shown the entire tournament.

I joked with the punk and his girlfriend a bit more after that. She was friendly and he was pretty focused, so most of my conversation was with her. He jokingly turned to me and said, "Are you hitting on my girl?" He jokingly looked tough. "Nah, man. I'm just reading her for tells." I was friendly, but internally I was thinking that I could cream this pipsqueak. Poker makes for an interesting push-pull relationship amongst players. I saw this guy as a friend and enemy simultaneously. It would be a theme for the weekend.

He busted shortly after, and I was on life support due to escalating blinds. I don't even remember my last hand. It was likely a cointoss that I just lost. By then, we were about to collapse into two tables, so I busted 20th out of 70. Roose was still in it, so I went to play a cash game. I'm going to cut this short here, but I'll add that a long while later, Roose came to my cash game table to tell me that he busted. He went out in 18th place due to some suckouts. Still, he had a great run. Oddly, though, there was a long time between 20th and 18th place. I guess everyone just tightened up.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:07 PM,

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