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AC Night Tripping

Somewhere around Friday night, I could feel that this particular cold was going to be a strong one. I didn't have a fever, but my body felt lethargic and my joints ached. But I had plans to join Dave Ruff in Atlantic City for a day trip (more accurately, a night trip), and I didn't want to back out of our plans. Even as late as Saturday morning I was considering canceling the trip. My nose was raw from tissues, my throat burned. But ultimately I tried to picture myself Saturday night if I skipped AC. I would undoubtedly stay home while wifey Kim went to her jewelry party (yeah, I have no idea either), and it would be only a matter of time before I was so bored that I fired up the old comp to play online poker. I ran through the scenarios in my head. Take a 2 hr drive to AC with Ruff after a 20 minute train ride to his NJ neighborhood and then play live poker for hours before making the return trip back, or sit on my ass and play online poker. Once I worked out that in my head, the answer was obvious. I was going to AC.

The trip started off with a slip-up. I missed my stop on the train and had to double back. Our plan was to leave around 2pm, but that turned into 2:40 or so. When I entered Ruff's car, I tried to find the silver lining, "Let's hope I used up all of my bad luck on the trains." In truth, I was worried that the difficulties was an omen, but omens only have power if you allow them to have power.

The ride down was uneventful. Ruff and I chatted about a variety of things, including my 10 year high school reunion. I skipped it, since I have a terrible memory and I didn't want to deal with pretending like I remembered people. The price tag was a bit rich too, $80 per person. In and of itself, that's not expensive, but with wifey Kim, it's $160, and between you and me, I'd rather spend that money on a nice meal, especially if its with the people from HS that I actually remember and like. That said, during our conversation, memories of people came flooding back. Still, overall, the reunion seemed to be a ripoff, so I have no complaints.

On a side note, reunions are an antiquated concept. Nowadays, with the Internet, if you want to find someone, you can find them. You can search for phone numbers by name, or do background searches for relatively cheap. Hell, they probably even have a blog, so you don't even get a chance to lose touch, unless you want to. I know a guy who can find anyone for $105. My point is, before all of this available information, it made sense to wonder what happened to everyone from high school. Now, its just a way for reunion companies to exploit nostalgia and rip off their clients. Not only was our reunion allegedly bootleg, but wifey Kim's reunion didn't even happen, after the reunion company absconded with the dough. Thankfully, she didn't want to go to that one anyway. That's my girl!

We arrived in AC just before 5pm. Ruff prefers the Borgata because of the hot cocktail waitresses, good drinks, and big poker room. In fact, his buddy Bridge was already there, and I'm not picky. Borgata is the closest thing to a Vegas mega-hotel in the AC area. It's head-and-shoulders above the other AC properties in trendiness, and it's known as the place to go if you are a scenester. Naturally, then, there are lots of hot chicks, and for every hot chick, there are 4-6 douchebag meatheads. But those douchebag meatheads like to pretend like they are big shots, which means they play poker like they are desperate to prove something. In the end, all they prove is that they are douchebag ATMs. But if you are going to be a douchebag, you may as well be a douchebag ATM.

Before we played we had a quick dinner in a diner-like (but classier!) restaurant at Borgata called Metropolitan or something similarly pretentious. Ruff highly recommended the cheesesteak, but I was still feeling ill, so I opted for chicken soup and the official gambling food of High on Poker, a grilled cheese sandwich. For some reason, grilled cheese sandwiches in AC are phenomenal, and this was no exception. Ruff handed his players' card to the waiter to redeem what little comps he had left over. When the check came back, all but 20 cents of the $28+ check was left. Thanks to Ruff's generosity, I was freerolling dinner.

We entered the poker room and placed our names on the 7-deep 1/2 NLHE list. We were called within 10 minutes. I was seated by the bathrooms, which proved to be convenient for a variety of reasons, which we will get to later. In the 2s, my back essentially faced the back wall, so I could see the entire poker room.

Things got off to a bang when I won an early pot with 57d, hitting my flush on the river. I didn't keep hand histories, and I don't remember too many specific details, but I worked my way up over the next several hours until I was up to about $380 profit at my peak. Meanwhile, Ruff was whooping ass at his table, initially lagging behind my lead before blowing up to a $500+ profit. Ruff's rule is that the big winner pays for the $5 parking fee, so when I saw him, I constantly joked about how I was going to keep below him to save $5.

My table allowed a lot of limping. In fact, it was a pretty weak table, with lots of players coming and going, usually with stacks of $100-$120. There was one exception, though, a handsome, stylish Caucasian in the 7s with slightly graying hair. He was playing all sorts of crap cards, hitting, and getting paid off. Aside from me, he was the only big stack at the table, amassing more than $1000.

After earning my $350+ in profit, things got a tad boring. Most hands involved 5-6 limpers and were folded to on the flop after a bet of $10. When I entered a pot with a decent hand, I usually led out with a preflop raise from $10-12. Post flop, I'd bet $20 and take it down without resistance. When I did get resistance, I'd slow it down. This got to be very boring and I asked for a table change. At that point in the game, we were 7-handed, so I was told to wait for the other seats to fill up. Two young guys sat down right next to each other in the 9s and 10s. I didn't like their style. They were obviously loud with other buddies around the room. One of them sat with a stack of blue $10 chips that I hadn't seen before. The other one had a stack of probably 20 $100 chips, way more than was allowed at the table. He joked that they were for tips, and took them off the table. But I didn't like the vibe. I was worried they were going to be angle shooting and signaling to each other.

Even so, I stayed put since they were loosening the table up with blind $4 raises UTG preflop. There were no straddles allowed. I had a bit of fun joking around with them while trying to relieve them of their stacks. I had some nice results too, including a hand where I bet $4 blind UTG and ended up with two-pair Aces and Tens by the river for a nice-sized pot. But eventually I screwed myself with their efforts to loosen up the table.

I raised preflop and took their blinds in a hand. The two buddies joked about how it was rude for me to steal their blinds. "Sure guys, I really wanted those lucrative $3 in blinds." I was UTG in the next hand, so I through $5 into the pot blind and joked, "I don't even want your chips. Here, I'm putting them in blind." The big stack raised to $10 when it got to him. It folded to me and I looked down at Q2. It was a shitty hand, but for $5 against a loose player (I had seen him raise preflop with 23o and 79o earlier in the night) to win $18, I called. The flop was random low cards. I bet out $15 to try to take down the pot, hoping that he had high cards. He called. The turn was a Queen. Suddenly, I had a very hidden top pair against a loose player who may've called me with middle pair on the flop or even top pair, which I now beat. I bet out $30 and he raised to $60. I took my time and considered what to do. Ultimately, I didn't believe that he hit the flop that hard if at all and I called. On the river, a flush card came. I checked and he bet $100.

This was a very uncharacteristic bet. Why bet so much?, I thought. Compared to the pot it wasn't big, but it was a bit much for a value bet. I considered the possibility that he hit his flush, but he was not the type of player to play draws (ironic, I know, since he was more likely to play crap cards than drawing hands). I thought long and hard, and when I called, not believing that he had the flush, the table took notice. He showed AA. And I lost $200 of my profit.

Down to about $125-140 in profit, I decided to slow things down until I could get a hold of myself. I felt the tilt creeping in, but I tried to remind myself that I was still up more than $100. I took a walk and talked to Ruff, who was holding onto his $500+ profit. When I returned, I put on my headphones and listened to some soothing music. One of the two buddies busted and the other one eventually left. Two new players sat down. The 8s opened up, one seat to the left of the big stack and I moved my seat. He joked that I had vengeance on my mind and I did not dissuade him of that thought. The truth was, he was the most active player at the table (less so than earlier in the session) and the only threatening stack, so I merely wanted to act after him. I would not target him specifically because that's just tilt.

From there, I played smart, screwed down poker. I made nice pots with a flopped set of 2s and a rivered set of 3s. I worked my stack back up as I made friends with the two brothers-in-laws on my left in the 9s and 10s. The 9s was an active player and the 10s eventually became self-destructive when he was at or around $100. He said he wanted to play roulette before he loosened up. It was pretty clear he wanted to double up or bust and walk. In one hand, the 10s re-raised all-in against the 6s, a newer player to the table who was actually playing fairly loose. The 6s called with some Ace-high hand, and the 10s showed K7h. He hit his King and doubled up to about $100 at the time.

A little while later, I was up $203, and we were nearing the time that Ruff and I wanted to leave. I really wanted to merely play my $2 and $1 BB and SB and fold away for an orbit with my $200 intact. UTG, I look down to AKc. I had to bet out, so I raised to $13. The pushmonkey 10s went all-in for $104. It folded to the 6s, who overpushed for $125 or so. It folded to me and as I considered what to do, the 6s flashed his cards, thinking that I was out of the hand. He immediately realized his error and covered them up. I thought I saw a face card, specifically a King. If it was just the 10s, I would've called. He might have a pair and is using his K7h push as a table-image setup, but I didn't think he had a monster hand like AA or KK. I might've called against just the 6s, although he wasn't pushing to the same extent as the 10s. But against them both, after catching a glimpse at the 6s' face card (likely a premium pair, I thought), I folded. The 10s showed A5d. The 6s showed KK. The flop was Ace-high. I would've won the pot, but it was still the right call.

Ruff and I extended our time by 30 minutes. Every time I wanted to just fold and walk, I was dealt AQ. I mean, this happened three times easily, where I'd be up an even amount and thinking, "Okay J, just fold this orbit and hit the road" and then I'd get AQ and think, "Well, I can't waste these opportunities." Moreso than not, they worked for me and I eventually left the table up $285. I met up with Ruff, who was finishing his orbit, and when it was all said and done, he walked with $475 profit.

The car ride home was easy. Ruff dropped me off around 3am at the Hoboken, NJ PATH train, which is like a subway between NJ and NY. I missed the first train by seconds. I waited 20 minutes for the next one, which took me to a transfer point. There, I waited another 20-30 minutes before finally arriving home after 4am. The PATH ride was a bitch, mostly because it was late and some crazy dude was chatting me up at the transfer station. He started off asking me where my final destination was. I was very unspecific, mentioning that I was heading to meet people at the World Trade Center (the stop by my apartment). I didn't want him to know I'd be alone, just in case. I went on the offensive and peppered him with questions until I realized that he was just some shlub who was mildly drunk, tired, and bored while waiting for the train. He was about my age, a bit younger, and well-enough dressed. But he still had that look of crazy in his eyes and I wasn't about to buddy up with this whack job. We were discussing how expensive a cab would be to the city. He said it'd probably be $70. I said it'd be worth it at this point...if I only had $70 on me. In truth, I had near $1000, but I didn't want him to know that. Eventually, his train came and I shooed him away. Oddly, he got on the train and then got off of it before it left the station. Maybe he was working an angle, and I was glad I was vigilant.

Before I go, a weird thing happened at the Borgata. It seems that everyone and their sister were there. When I was visiting Ruff at his table, I noticed Wendy from the Wall Street Game (and dealer at the underground Basement Game) in the 4s. We chatted and she pointed out another WSG regular, Darko, sitting at another table. I went over and said hi. I also bumped into Bradley from Ship It Fish as he was heading to the bathroom. Later, I saw another SIF homegame regular, Chuck, who was also playing at the Borgata. Finally, Joaquin 'the Rooster' Ochoa was in the room, and stopped by to say hello. It was weird, but also nice to know that there were friends and acquaintances around. I can only imagine what it will be like on Thursday in Vegas.

Another observation. The 1s at my table was an old guy in a red sweatshirt and Yankees cap. He was friendly enough, although he was one of those guys who can never take "Nice hand" without arguing. Dude, I said Nice Hand, now saw Thank You and let's move on. Anyway, this guy literally only played premium hands, and every time he got paid off. Granted, he was folding 99% of the time, and when he had a premium hand, he wouldn't raise unless it was the stone-cold nuts, but he called down many hands with his KK or QQ or, well, KK, only to take down the pot against a player overvaluing a single pair. When he left he had a huge rack. In one hand against him, I had A9 and he called a modest preflop raise. I bet the 9-high flop and he called. I checked it the rest of the way and he showed QQ. Of course I checked it the rest of the way. Once he called, I knew he had a big pocket pair. But still, most people paid him and he even got paid a bit on my hand.

This all goes to show you that playing uber tight can be profitable. That's nothing new, but it was interesting to actually see it in action over 7 hours.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:36 PM,


At 9:11 AM, Blogger Riggstad said...

Nice story Jordan... I am at the borg almost 2x a week in the winter months, and more like every other the rest of they year.

The Borg sponsors my tour so we get good treatment.

I'll see you Vegas!

At 2:23 PM, Blogger Jordan said...

Hey Rigg. I'd love to meet you down there some time. We can discuss it in Vegas.

At 5:30 PM, Blogger iamhoff said...

Great story Jordan. One of these times I'm going to make it to AC and the Borg. Until then, I'll just continue at the Indian casinos here in San Diego. Have fun in Vegas this week. Wish I could be there.


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