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Four Hours to Even (AC Trip Report Pt 2)

I should probably go back to discuss the tournament briefly, since I neglected to mention the one hand that I think lost me the whole shebang. I was in the BB with KK at my last table (final three tables). There were a few limpers, and rather than fuck around, I raised 3x the BB, which was a sizeable amount at this point. I had maybe 12x the BB at most, but I didn't want to just push since I was afraid I wouldn't get any action and I wanted to put myself in contention to win. I got one caller, an old guy who seemed to call too much. The flop was Ace-high with two spades. It was the worst possible flop. My opponents' most likely holdings included an Ace, so I checked. He bet an amount that would essentially put me all-in and I folded begrudgingly. We even got into words. After announcing loudly that I fold, I hesitated before mucking. I considered showing him what I had to induce him to show. While I hesitated, he got loud, "Well, are you going to fold or not?!" "I said fold. Relax! I was just deciding if I was going to show you." "Well, I'm not showing you!" "No one asked you to. Jesus, man! What's your problem." "I never seen no one hold onto their cards after folding." "Well, for your sake then, I'll make sure that I always muck my cards within 1 second of announcing my fold. Is that acceptable to you sir? Is there anything else I can do for you?" He shut up and stacked his chips. My chips. I guess he got the better end of that altercation, but I couldn't let myself be stacked with KK and that ugly flop. After that, I played small stack poker and was busted when my overcards KJ lost to 44 preflop. I pushed, he called. So it goes.

After I busted, everyone at my table said good game. I shook a few hands and was polite with the older gentleman from the KK had mentioned above. Once again, I felt the old push-pull of poker table social interaction, where one minute someone is my enemy and the next, they are a compadre. I took my loss relatively well, too. I stood up, said good game and then walked off, hardly phased aside from a slight bit of joy for having made it so deep. Its a nice feeling to have after busting rather than the soul crushing feeling we are all so familiar with.

I walked to the desk to be added to the 1/2 NL list. I was behind two other guys on line, and as I looked down, I saw a red $5 chip lying on the carpet. The carpet was red with all sorts of designs, so the fact that I saw the chip in and of itself was pure luck. I bent down, picked it up and perused the nearby area. One of the two guys in front of me had chips, but his rack looked full. I considered my options and decided to consider it karma's attempt to pay me out a teeny bit for my tourney run. I sure as hell wasn't going to try to find the chip's rightful owner. I would have if I could have, but this was one of those situations where it didn't pay to put myself out.

After I was taken to my 1/2 NL table, I bought in for a full $300. The table was in the middle of the large poker room, but off to the side, abutting a wall. I took the 8 seat, directly in the corner, with the wall to my back and ample room on both sides. I used to prefer the 1 and 10 seats, seats that most people avoid. I liked them because I knew that in at least one direction, I could lift my cards without fear of an angle shooter catching them. But after spending 4+ hours in the corner, I had a renewed appreciation for the 3-4 and 7-8 seats. I had more room to spread out with the curvature of the table, I had, in a sense, a private group of players on my side of the table to talk with (generally about the other side), and I could see most players fine. This might be old news for the lot of you, and I suppose it is all common sense. All I needed was 4+ hrs to let it sink in.

When I sat at the table, it was full of Caucasian males from their 20s to 30s. This never bodes well for me. I can be profitable at any table, but a little bit of diversity usually just livens things up. In actuality, there was one hispanic guy in his late 40s who left about a half hour after I sat down. As I hinted, he was the only action player, even though he didn't have more than $100 the entire time he was there. Regardless, he'd limp or raise or whatever and then whoop it up, joking around and acting crazy during the hand and eventual showdown. When he busted, I was bummed because I was left at what appeared to be a Klu Klux Klan meeting, all solemn looking young white males. I even joked as two new white males joined our table, "Hey! Can we get some more white males here! We are running low!" I've used that line more than once.

All of these antics are to drum up some excitement at the table. Otherwise, its just a fold-fest, where the mood of the table curtails any extended excitement/action. Fortunately, a blonde chick with nice cans sat down to my immediate right. It was a vast improvement over the guy there before her, a scraggly looking dude with a soul patch beard curling over his chin. When I first sat down, I tried to buddy up to him, first by asking how the table was going. "Pretty boring," he said, so I replied, "Let's see if I can liven it up." When I finally did liven it up by getting some action going, I turned to him and said, "That's a start." But he was having none of it, and was lost in his own frustrations.

The chick on the other hand was a lot more interesting. I could tell that she was attractive, but my angle was such that I really couldn't get more than a glance at her. Frankly, I didn't really even care to look. I was intent on watching the table, since I had already developed a few nemeses that I needed to keep in check. Like the dude before her, I tried buddying up with my new female neighbor, and not so surprisingly, she was more amenable to a friendly chat. By the end of the game, we were discussing hands, reads and our opponents. I gave her a few pointers about one guy in particular that I will now impart to you.

I wasn't intentionally focusing on tells for this trip, but it sure felt that way. I have gotten better and better at reading body language, and there is little else to do while folding away, so I was looking constantly for signs that I was on the right path. In one instance, during the first break of the tournament where I busted 20th and Roose busted 18th, I walked past a 2/5 NL cash game. I decided to watch for a moment to see how the action went. One player was about to act and he put in a bet. I immediately knew he was bluffing from his demeanor and the pot size. The bettor looked uncomfortable in his seat. He shifted. He had his left arm folded over his right, and he was holding his right forearm with his left hand, as though he was holding on for dear life. Everything told me he was bluffing. He got one call and nodded as though he was saying to himself, "There it goes. Damn." The other guy called as well and the bettor looked unpleased. The river was dealt and both players check to the bettor. This time the bettor reaches for a big stack of chips. His river bet was much bigger than his turn bet, which told me that he was trying to end it without a showdown. He went back to holding his arm. Roose was walking by and I grabbed him. "See that guy? He's bluffing." Both of the opponents folded and the bettor voluntarily showed his bluff, Ace-high. How fortunate that I made a read, stuck to the table, and the bettor actually showed his bluff! I was hot!

The same was true at my new cash game. There was one player in particular who really annoyed me. He was in the 4 seat, and looked like a typical guy. There was nothing that stood out about him. He had short brown hair, wore an ugly but plain green sweater. He had some stubble, and was a bit chubby. But he had an aire about him that I honestly hated. He played too many hands for a limp, would play poorly post flop, and then be shocked that someone beat his K7 that flopped top-pair 7s. In a hand against the chick, he rolled his lips inwards following a bet. It's a classic tell that most people don't control: if you push out your lips, you are confident; if you pull them in, you are weak. Later, he showed the opposite tell, literally puckering up and whistling (WHISTLING!) when he had a good hand. Who was this guy!?

Aside from him, the other nemesis was the late 30s or early 40s guy in the 3 seat. He had a big stack and was willing to tangle a lot more than the other players. This was annoying early on, but thanks to terrible post-flop play by the 4 seat, let's call him Post-Flop Donkey or PFD, I got a reputation as a luck box and that cooled off all of my challengers.

My first significant hand at the table (before the chick sat down), was 56c. I called UTG along with at least 5 other limpers/blinds preflop. The flop was KJ7 with two clubs, and I bet out $10. I got two callers. The turn was an offsuit 4, giving me an open-ended straight draw to join my flush draw. I bet out $25 and got two callers. I got the sincere suspicion that we were all drawing. The river was a blank and I followed my read, betting out $30. In and of itself, the bet wouldn't force anyone out of the pot. However, I wasn't planning on betting pot, which was now over $100, and I couldn't bet $25 again (or lower) because it would look weak. The lower bet looked like a value bet, and as Layne Flak once said on The Circuit podcast, (paraphrased) when you are bluffing, bet small; when you have a good hand, bet big. It's a simple enough idea, so that you won't lose much on an unsuccessful bluff and you'll get paid off big when people don't believe your big bets. Whatever the case, it worked. Both players folded and I was up $100 in no time.

In the very next hand, UTG+1, I found AQo and raised to $12 preflop. I got one caller and then another player with a tiny $36 stack pushed all-in. It folded to me and I considered letting this one go. I didn't feel like playing a cointoss and I was concerned about AK. I thought it over and asked the player, "Do you want a call? Do you want to gamble?" He shrugged, but he wore the biggest most exaggerated frown I've seen. It was like a goddamn semi-circle. In situations like this, you have to analyze whether the over-exaggerated "tell" is real or fake. Often times, you'll see an over-exaggerated sigh and you'll know that they are faking because it is so clearly intended to catch your eye. This time, though, I got the feeling that he didn't know what he was doing with his mouth. That was a genuine frown of fear, so I called. He showed KQ and my AQ won.

After that, the kid left with his friend, and the Hispanic guy had already busted. We were down to 6 players when I was dealt AJo. I raised preflop to $10 and got one caller. The flop was Jack-high and I checked, hoping to get some action. The other two cards were random low ones, so I figured I was good. My opponent checked. The turn was another Jack. I bet out $15 and he raised me to $35. I thought about my options and chose to call. I had a weird feeling about his raise, but I still felt good about my hand. The river was a blank and he bet out $50. Rather than raise, I simply called. He mucked and said, "Good call. I got nothing." I was ready to show my cards, but he was already looking away. He didn't care, so as the pot was pushed my way, I mucked my cards as well. The moron should have at least made me show. But if he ain't asking, I ain't showing.

These hands were all good and fun, but I really earned my title of luckbox and the ire of nemeses in this fun hand. I had J6h in the BB, and there were a good 7 or so limpers by the time it got to me. This was after the influx of new players, including the chick and a new group of anonymous white males. I was only up maybe $30 at the most, but I don't recall how. Whatever the case, I checked my option and we saw a A28 flop, with two hearts. I checked my flush draw, it checked around to the Post Flop Donkey (PFD), and he bet $10. It was cheap enough and I had my flush draw so I called. The smartest and most successful player at the table, the 30-40 year old guy I mentioned earlier, also called. It was me and my two nemeses. The turn was a Jack, giving me second pair. I checked, as did the Smart Guy. PFD bet out $25. It was so typical. I called the $25, now that I had more potential outs and good implied odds. Smart Guy called too. The river was another Jack. I luckboxed into trips, but my play made perfect sense. Even so, all my nemeses could see was that I hit runner runner. Donkeys.

The next hand has me playing the role of donkey. With J6h again, I decide to limp along with a bunch of other limpers. I'm really playing for tilt value, since my two nemeses have been talking up seats 1 through 5, and I was fairly certain the topic was my luckboxedness. A bunch of us see a two heart flop. I check, someone bets $5, and there are a couple of callers before I called. The turn was another heart, and rather than mess around, I bet $20. It looked like everyone folded, so I flipped my cards face up to show that the J6h paid off again. Then one kid says, "What are you doing?" I look and he has two cards and $20 laid out in front of him. The river was also in the process of being dealt. I pick up my cards, "I didn't muck." I state and sorta ask the dealer. He nods, and says there was no forward action with my cards. The river is a blank and I stupidly bet out $40. I don't know why. After all, he knows what I have. I give him the opportunity to raise me all-in by betting (checking would be the same, though). Whatever the case, he folds. I dodged a bullet on that one.

In a few hands, I'm dealt 69h in the BB. There are four limpers, but we all check down to the river, where I go runner runner hearts for a flush again. Since there was no post-flop action, I bet out $10 out of position and get two callers, including the PFD. They look miserable when I show my flush.

From there, I went card dead. At my peak somewhere in the middle of those hands, I was up around $300. However, over time, that lessened, and by the time I left, I was up $135, enough to pay for my $100 tournament and have $35 profit. I cashed out fairly drunk. By the last hour, when I realized that I was near done with my 4 hours, I felt terribly bored. Rather than get fancy, I just opted to order lots of free rum and cokes, the official casino mixed drink of High On Poker. Six or seven later, I was cashing out, happy to have had a productive run at the tables. Sure, I made a few slip ups and I lost some of my profit (sorry for not recording those hands, but there were no suckouts; probably just a string of calling then folding or betting and then folding to re-raises).

I should probably mention my disappointment with the Trop poker room. The Trop is the third largest poker room in AC, behind the Borgata (1st) and Trump Taj Mahal (2nd). The Borgata is an uber trendy hipster vibe, which means lots of donkeys with too much cash and too little brains. The Taj is a dirty, but well established room, which means the potential for old timers colluding (and rumors of the same) and a general feel of sleaziness that I avoid. The Trop feels like a grinder's poker room. The size is great, and the variety of games is great as well. However, the players, while varied, tend to have a fair share of grinders and semi-pros, and the vibe in general is very impersonal, unlike a room like Showboat, which feels like a home game in a great environment. In order to get the poker room rate, I had to play for 4 hrs. This is tracked by the floor, who should come around every hour with a barcode scanner, scanning everyone's cards. However, they only came 3 times in the 5 hours I was sitting. I wasn't concerned about the poker room rate, since I was ready to give them shit the next day for their lax bar code scanning. Alas, I couldn't find anyone who knew anything about the poker room rate, so I just accepted that if there was a problem, I'd deal with it later.

After poker, I found Roose upstairs in the room. We hung out for a bit. I had some migraine medication to counteract the poker adrenaline and Roose had already offered some delivery from a nearby restaurant. Once the dust had settled, I realized that I hadn't seen Ruff in hours. After the tourney, I walked the poker room a couple of times but couldn't find the guy. Roose told me he was in the back corner, so after my the med, I went back downstairs to say hi. He was doing fairly poorly, on the ass end of a buy-in. I watched a total of one hand, when his 88 or 66 ran into AA. After that, we headed upstairs.

The first night of poker was a success. I got my 4 hours in, went deep but lost a tournament, and overall played well, using my reads and later, my table image, to abuse my opponents. By the time I went to sleep it was after 4am. Regardless, I knew I'd be up early for the next days' events. The plan was to play the 2pm Showboat tournament, a tourney that Ruff, Roose and I had all won on differnt occasions. Other than that, I knew I'd have to get at least another 4 hours of cash games done. What I didn't expect was the special guest who joined us for night two.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 8:28 AM,


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