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A Success for Some (AC Trip Report Pt. 1)

When I woke up on Saturday morning, my dreary eyes strained to see the clock. It was 9:23 a.m., and while my eyes and brain demanded that I go back to sleep, the sound of the bansaw in the room and the urge to use the bathroom kept me from that noble goal. As I got up, I carefully danced around the head lying on the floor. The bathroom door was 95% closed when I finally flicked the lightswitch. My head ached, my stomach churned, and I began to feel that nagging feeling once again. Here I was in a bathroom in an anonymous hotel room and there was poker waiting to be played 10 floors down and 100 feet down the hall.

As that urge to play slowly returned, I thought about the amazing events of the night before. I suffered my own humbling experience, but I was also a spectator to something great.

When Roose met me at the New York Eastern District Courthouse, I was already changed into my traveling gear of a loose linen shirt and convertible shorts. Minutes earlier, I was getting my admission into the Brooklyn Federal Courthouse and then changing in their roomie handicap bathroom stall, and now I was on my way to AC in my grubbiest of gear.

Unfortunately, the Courthouse was conveniently located on a closed street, a necessary requisite for a federal building in a New York borough. After 15 minutes of narrow misses and the assistance of one of New York's Finest, Roose and I found each other, and were on our way to Atlantic City.

We were in our hotel room when we realized that we were short a hotel room for the Saturday night party. We had two rooms for 13 people, but the Showboat was booked, so we would have to make do. Friday was really just Roose and I, with a (very) late night appearance from Robbie and Randy Hole. Or so it was planned. By midnight, the Holes were already dropping off their luggage in the room, and Ilan and his future brother-in-law were on their way. Do that math, folks. 6 degenerates, one room, two beds. I guess someone was not going to be allowed to sleep.

Roose's parents were in AC on the same weekend as us. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. After a dinner with them at Showboats buffet (I give it 3 out of 4 stars), Roose and I made our way over to the House of Blues poker room for our first tournament of the trip. It was only 8:30, so we paid our $75 for the 10pm tournament ($60+15, instead of the expected $50+10) and settled in for some 1/2 NL in the meanwhile. The 1/2 table was decent, with some knowledgeable players offset by the usual scared fish. After my hour or so was up, I was exactly even, an unnerving theme for the trip.

The tournament kicked off with Roose and I at the same table. I wish I could expound on my play. I'll leave it at this. My Superman t-shirt worked. No one believed any of my bets, and I got more action than desired. I also played stupidly. I was eventually busted before the first break. Roose, on the other hand, had accumulated a few chips. I wished him luck, stood up, and returned to the 1/2 cash games, slightly disappointed in my play, but accepting of my shortcomings. I was ready to win back my tournament buy-in at the cash table, and made my way to the table I sat at earlier in the evening.

A short while later, a tall black guy with a starkingly white t-shirt took the seat to my right. I don't recall his name, if I ever got it at all, so we'll just choose a name at random to indicate who this guy was. Let's go with...Arsenio. That'll do for now.

So, I'm playing tight, waiting to get my cards. I've accepted (thanks to Zen and the Art of Poker, something I read months ago, but is just sinking in now), that I will eventually get good cards. So, it isn't my job to force my luck when it isn't there. I just have to wait and feel when it is time to start making things happen.

Of my original 300, I was probably down to 240 or so. I was in the BB with KQc and when the action got around to Arsenio in the SB, he popped it from 2 to 12. I called, knowing that I would hit it or quit it. Plus, Arsenio probably saw an opportunity to push me and some limpers off of our hands preflop, and I was willing to look Arsenio up. He was clearly a "knowledgeable" player, and it wasn't above him to raise with random cards when an opportunity arose.

The other players dropped out and it was just me and Arsenio. The flop was KQx, rainbow. Arsenio checked and I bet 20, in an attempt to look like a scared steal attempt. He flat called. At that point, I knew he had nothing. It was something about the way he called. Call it an instinct, but I put him on a weak hand, and I knew that the only way I was going to get more money off of him was to induce a bluff.

The turn was a blank, and when it checked to me, I checked as well. I wanted to look like I got my hand caught in the cookie jar in that $20 bet on the flop. When the river came down, a Jack, I awaited Arsenio's bet. He said to me, "You got a pair?" I didn't answer. "What would it take to push you off of this hand?" I thought I saw what was happening. He was fishing for information. He probably had KJ or QJ and thought he was good. I was slightly worried about a set, but only very slightly so. In the end, I really didn't put him on much at all. I replied, "You're going to have to go all-in." "Okay. All-in." "I call." He had AT, and rivered a four-outter. I gave him that free card, but I still think it was a decent move. Had he missed, he would have likely bluffed. Had he hit a bare Ace, he would have bet as well. I was ahead of the vast array of hands that he could have. I had thought about AT, but I didn't want to psyche myself out.

After that win, Arsenio jumped up from his seat. "YEAH BABY YEAH! WOOOOOOOOOO!" I gave a sidelong glance at his showboating, beyond anything I would ever do at the table, and gave an unapproving look. Arsenio began to settle down and put his hand on my shoulder in a gesture that said, "Hey man, sorry for the jumping up and down." I looked at his hand on my shoulder, then looked at him. With my mouth shut tight and close and my sunglasses dipping just below the eyes on my slightly downturned head, I slowly shook my head, as if scolding a child for putting his dirty hands on my clean pant leg. He caught the ice cold stare and removed his hand. "I'm just excited." "You can be excited, but you don't have to go hooping and hollering. I'm sitting right here, buddy." "Sorry, man." I reached into my wallet. I had $25 or so left in the cash game, down $275. I lost $75 playing in the tournament. In total, I was down $375 and my (soft) budget was $500. My wallet confirmed this. A hundred dollar bill kept a twenty and five company. I expelled them from my wallet and put it on the table.

Lest you think I was tilting, I certainly was not. I still liked my check on the turn. He had a four-outter, and while he hit it, more often he misses and then bluffs. I was confident on this one. I should have probably kept silent, but from my vantage, I was trying to induce a large bet from Arsenio. I was actually quite calm during his theatrics, but I wanted to put him in his place because I didn't want him thinking that he was in control. I was.

Over the next several hours, I played my ass off. I made solid reads. I had solid hand selection. I grinded my ass off. For a moment, I thought I was screwed. Down to my last $150, I didn't relish the idea of going broke the first day. But at the table, those things cannot concern you. As I worked my way back, something else happened across the room. Roose had stuck around in the tournament, and I realized that he was, in fact, on the final table bubble. Earlier that night, Roose, unasked, offered to give me back my buy-in if he placed in the tournament. I wouldn't accept it if he placed low in the tourney, but whatever the case, I was still rooting him on. Randy and Rob had arrived and were railing him. As I found myself down $50 (from my low point of $300 hours before) I felt good about climbing my way back from my losses. I felt even better when I saw Roose stand up from the tournament. There were only about four or five players sitting with him, as far as I could tell. I stood from my table and walked over. I fully expected to hear about Roose's money finish. I didn't expect to hear the number...1. The others were just waiting around the table to get their pay.

That's my boy! Roose, the hero of the night, cashed for $850, $75 of which came my way. In actuality, he had chopped first and second, but the effect was the same. Ilan strolled into the poker room with brother-in-law tow, and the crew hit the room for a bit of decompression.

More to come...

posted by Jordan @ 9:19 PM,


At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like your play here when you flopped the top 2 pair. It couldn't have worked out better for you. You flop the 2 pair, and get him to call your bet, and you think he has nothing. Why wouldn't you push here on the turn, and force him to either cut his losses or try to get lucky, knowing he has nothing. You've showed hand strength with your original bet, and you knock him out of the hand with another strong bet here. Instead, you tried to play it cute and got your ass handed to you. Next time, in a cash game, take the money.

At 12:28 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Lesson learned. However, my read on him until the river was correct. I don't dislike giving someone drawing to four outs a free card if it will induce a bluff. I knew my player and played accordingly. Keep in mind that some things don't come across on paper. I don't deny, however, that I made errors in that hand. If I could do it again, I would've bet the turn as well.

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously not all can be seen from paper. But I do see you having the dominant hand on the flop, and turn, and trying to squeeze money from a player you had the right read on. That's why you make the bet.

At 4:53 PM, Blogger MHG said...

I like the play.

In a tournament I would suggest pushing or betting heavily on the turn--because in tournies you try and protect your stack. In a cash game it is all about getting the other person's stack.

I think you had a great chance of taking a big chunk out of his stack the way you played the hand.

You have to wonder what he is trying to accomplish by asking you, "What would it take to push you off this hand?"

In hindsight, it obviously sets off fire alarms all over the house inside your head, but playing the actual hand and being in your position I can't say I would have played it any differently.

Just another thing to learn from your live play experience.

Nice comeback, btw!

At 6:52 PM, Blogger TripJax said...

How long between him saying "all-in" and you saying "call?"

At 11:50 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Eh, I'm not sure. I think it was pretty quick. My mind was made up. Maybe 2-3 seconds.


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