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The Options (AC Trip Report Pt. 1)

It was 7:30am on a Saturday. The last time I was up this early on a Saturday...well, I don't remember the last time. I was probably doing the same thing though.

In the dark of my apartment, I fumbled around for my glasses. Bespectacled (I've been wanting to use that word for a while now...SCORE!) I entered the hallway, where a pile of laundry sat on the floor.

This was my poker gear, the clothing set aside for a day at Atlantic City. The night before, after packing my poker backpack, I laid the clothes outside my bedroom so I could get dressed quickly and easily tomorrow morning without waking up wifey Kim.

I dressed quickly and made myself some breakfast. Within 30 minutes, I was at the corner, suited up, packed up and ready to go. Alceste drove up within a few minutes.

I first met Alceste through the I Had Outs girls, or perhaps through F-Train. I also spent some time with him at the old Ship It Fish mixed games from a year or so back. Since college, the opportunities to meet new people are less frequent. In a way, they are also less necessary, since the majority of my days are no longer spent partying. But through poker, I've met more people in the last three years than through any other activity. Well, maybe I met a few more as a lawyer, but I don't consider many of them friends.

Alceste had offered me a ride to AC after reading a post from a few days prior. He was heading down with KJ, another guy I met through the NY poker social hub that is Dawn Summers. We were to meet Bacini Mary in AC. She had gotten a head start the night before. Dr. Pauly, AlCantHang and probably some other folks were also in town for the Borgata Open, a series of poker tournaments. So, we made our way from NYC to AC, a 2.5 hour trip. We arrived in 2.

Alceste, Mary and KJ had plans to play the $300+40, $100k Guarantee 11am tournament. On the drive, I toyed with the idea of joining them. My 'bankroll' is fairly, um, shallow. I have only funded it with poker winnings, and I have made several big deductions over the years, as part of my "If poker doesn't mean more money to enjoy for wifey Kim and I, what's the point?" rationale. On one hand, I had played two $340 tournaments in the past, both WSOP Circuit Events, and each time, I was confronted with the reality that $340 tournaments and $100 Showboat tournaments attract the same quality players. And I've made the Showboat tourney my bitch. On the other hand, in both of my past forays, I was card dead, and when the blinds catch up to you in that situation, there is only so much you can do. That and suckouts, bad beats, second best hands, blah blah blah. Basically, I could lose the $340 tournament on one bad luck hand entirely out of my control. In a cash game, I can rebuy. But in a tourney, it's all over. That finality hung in my head as we drove to AC.

I joined Alceste and KJ on line to register. It was about 10:30 and with 30 minutes until the event started, I was anxious to get signed up. The line had at least 50 people in it, and while there were several employees handling registration, until I confirmed it with my own eyes, I could've sworn by the pace of the line that there was only one. I hung out with Alceste and KJ for 10 or so minutes, chatting about online poker and other light topics until I couldn't take it anymore.

"Have fun guys. I'm going to play cash." If there is one thing I hate about poker, it's the waiting. When I wait to play, I play poorly. I'm like a teenager getting overexcited about his first experience with the ole love box. By the time I get to actually participate, I'm so raging with excitement, I tend to blow my load prematurely. For the kid, it means embarrassment. For me, it means a buy-in...or a tournament.

I made the long walk from the event area to the poker room alone. I prepared mentally for the game. I was wearing my old school poker uniform: my now tattered Superman t-shirt, camo cargo pants, my hunting motif baseball cap, sunglasses and a new hoodie. I had considered dressing more, well, normal for the game, but instead, I decided to go back to my old poker mindset, in which I play the role of loud mouth jokester. I want people to not take me seriously, so they don't notice how I seriously extract their chips from their stacks. Oh, and they leave happy. No need to piss off the customers.

It was still before 11am, so the poker room had plenty of open seats, even though Borgata's huge room was more than buzzing. I grabbed the 7 seat in a 10-handed, 1/2 NLHE cash game and bought in for $300. I stuffed my bag under my seat.

Two or three seats to my right was the big stack, an Italian kid who looked like one of the Gotti boys from that A&E show. He looked like a dousche, but he had a BIG stack. It was no surprise he was on my right. I scoped the table looking for the sweet spot. The 1 seat was an Asian American kid with a decent stack and shit load of cockiness. He was also one to watch, but it was the Eye-Tal-EE-Un kid that caught my attention. The Asian kid was likely a gambler. The Italian kid likely would try to push people out of pots with his big stack. Between the two, the Italian seemed more profitable.

That last paragraph may seem absurd to some of you, but I always size up my players immediately, and usually via visual clues like clothing, nationality, gender, attitude, and body language, come up with a general theory of their personalities, and by extension, their playing style. As play wears on, I refine my reads. It's just the natural course of things.

I won my first hand of the night with a little bit of luck. I had K6o in the BB, and by the time the action got to me, there was a bunch of limpers. I checked. The flop was T64. I checked my middle pair and a player bet $10. There were three callers by the time it got to me. I couldn't believe that my 6 was good, but with $50 or so in the pot, I decided to call for $10. The turn was a blank and everyone checked around. The river was a 6. I bet out $20. It folded to a geriatric man (he was beyond old) in the 4s who called. Everyone else folded. I tabled my K6 and took down the pot. It was nice to get an early cushion.

While I folded away, I chatted lightly with my table mates. Specifically, I chatted up the Italian kid. He actually started it. As I sat down, he asked, "Have you been playing all night?" I may've been yawning or otherwise looked exhausted. I considered a lie, but opted for the truth. "Nah, just drove in this morning. I was up early. How about you?" He answered, "Yeah, I've been here for hours." "Looks like it's been good so far." I motioned to his stack. Sometimes, I like to point out people's success at the cash game poker tables. For the right type of player, it can actually set off a weird paranoia. For others, it causes overconfidence. Either way, it certainly can't hurt. In Gotti's case, I think it caused a bit of embarrassment of riches. To help him, I took a bunch of his chips.

With KTh, I decided to call a preflop raise to $12 from Gotti, who was in MP. I had position, either on the button or the cutoff. The flop came down with three low cards, two of which were hearts. Gotti bet $25, so I decided to call. The turn was a duece of diamonds. It didn't help my hand. Gotti bet $25 again, which set off signals in my head. Betting the same amount on two consecutive streets can often mean weakness. I thought I might be able to take the pot away by raising. As a backdoor plan, if he were to call a re-raise, I'd be hiding my flush draw, in case it hit on the river. That would likely net me more money than just calling and hitting my flush, since if I just call and my heart hits, he'd be wary of the draw. I raised to $75, $50 more than his bet. He called. I tried to remain internally calm. The river was a heart. BOOM! He checks, and I bet $150. I figured that a large bet would look more like I was just trying to push Gotti off of the hand. I guess it worked. He called. I showed my flush. He showed two black eights. He had an overpair to the board...except for the flush draw. Ironically, I had more outs than I knew.

After that hand, I was sitting pretty with a nice cushion of profit.

Over the course of these series of posts, I'll probably go through another dozen hands or so, so I've decided to break up the report into multiple parts. I tried to record all of the memorable hands over the 9 hour session, so while you may see some odd hands like K6o winning money, these things tend to happen over a really long session. Overall, though, my play was selectively aggressive. I rarely bluffed, if at all, and I only played marginal hands for a limp.

It wasn't much longer after my KTh victory when I was dealt TT. And by not too much longer, it may've been 5 minutes or 30 minutes. Time has little meaning for me at the poker table.

With my first premium hand of the day, I opted for a $12 raise from EP, hoping to thin the herd of limpers. I got what I wanted. My only caller was the Crazian gambler in the 1 seat. He had been pushing all-in a lot with his stack, which at one point was under $100, but was now probably closer to $200. He played aggressively, and I hoped to use that to my advantage.

After the Crazian's call, we saw a beautiful flop of T42, rainbow. With top set (the nuts) and no serious concerns about draws, I checked to the Crazian. He checked as well. The turn was a Jack of Clubs, creating a club flush draw. I checked again. I still didn't have anything to fear. If he somehow hit a backdoor flush through my passive play, well, I'd deal with it when that came. Crazian finally took the bait, betting $15 into the pot. I took my time, trying to act like I was upset but I couldn't believe him. I then raised to $50. He took the bait once again, announcing "All in" to which I simply said, "Call." He asked immediately, "Do you have a set?" The river card came down as an offsuit blank. "Yep, Tens." I tabled my hand and he mucked. In hindsight, I should've made him show, but I knew I had the hand (and all of his chips) lock, stock and barrel. He rebought for $100 or maybe $200, and for that I was glad.

A quick sidenote. The Crazian was playing with his chick, who was sitting in the 2 seat. To my immediate left in the 9 seat was another friend of the Crazian. They had tangled in a few hands, and each time, the friend would say how the Crazian is playing, well, like a Crazian. Having your friend announce your shitty range is not optimal strategy. But, I guess not everyone is thinking of how to maximize and control their image.

That's it for now. Expect more later, including a series of "hero calls."

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 11:43 AM,


At 1:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

only $20 into a ~$60 pot with trips? you know you're good. prob could have made a slightly stronger value bet. but, value bet you did. showing a refined game. well bowled.


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