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Giving Back (New Orleans Trip Report Pt 2)

Since most of my recap of day one was dedicated to a douchebag, allow me a moment to talk a little about Harrah’s New Orleans. The location, practically on the river, was exceedingly convenient for me. It was halfway between my hotel and the convention where wifey Kim’s conference was held. The building itself takes up a decent amount of space, and across the street is the Harrah’s hotel, which seems to take up several more city blocks across its multiple buildings. By law, the casino has to be separate from the hotel, just another peculiar local rule (which incidentally makes some sense).

The casino is a nice size, with a row of table games in the middle, one solitary cashier cage (there may’ve been another, but I couldn’t find it), and tons of slots. The poker room was off to the side, but clearly visible from the casino floor. It was marked off with a half-wall, which allowed cigarette smoke and the ding of slot machines pass through the poker oasis. Of course, no smoking is allowed in the poker room, but many of the tables are 3 ft from the rail, where the chain smokers like to hang out between hands.

The poker room has about 16-20 tables, with 12 in the main area and the rest in an alcove-like room in the back. The games spread while I was there included 1/2 NL, 2/5 NL, 3/6 LHE (which incidentally will be increased to 4/8 on Dec. 1 by Harrah’s management), 4/8 Mixed LHE/LO Hi, and 15/30 LO Hi. There was also an interest list for 1/2 PLO, but I don’t think that game ever got off.

The players, at least at 1/2, were pretty loose. There were a lot of calling stations with hopeless hands. There were consistently at least 2 straight up donators at the 1/2 table over the course of the 5+ hours I played, and at times, there were 3 or more. Besides the donators, some of the local tough guys were way too loose to be winning players over the long haul.

Speaking of locals, the room is filled with them. At least 60% (and probably closer to 70 or 80%) of the players there were local regulars. And there must be something about the Creole way of life, but for the most part, they were a crass group. Cursing was the norm, as well as some really hardcore ribbing. I don’t particularly mind that. The less formal, the better. But some of it blew my mind. People would call across the room to another local just to give them shit about a hand from last night. “HEY JERRY, YOU DUMB FUCK! YOU GIVE AWAY ALL THAT MONEY I LOST TO YOU LAST NIGHT YET?!” My favorite line ironically came from the bald douche, when the morbidly obese local stood up to head to the bathroom: “DON’T TOUCH YOURSELF IN THERE!”

I don’t mind rowdiness, but there was a ton of assholery going on. And amazingly, the dealers and floor staff didn’t do shit to stop it. In fact, there were some flagrant bad behavior, like folding by throwing cards about two feet off of the table, high enough so that the other half of the table could clearly see the cards. This was happening a lot, but the dealer didn’t say jack, and I wasn’t going to get involved since I’m just visiting. The dealing itself was professional and well done, but there wasn’t even the slightest pretense that the dealers were in control of the game.

If the dealers were bad, the floor was just horrible. When I first arrived, I had to wait 5 minutes before the fat piece of shit floor would ask me what table I wanted. Lord knows what the guy was doing. He looked like a 5 year old lost at the mall.

I noticed on Day 1 that the other 1/2 NLHE table was basically on hold for about 30 minutes. 1/2 NLHE (and 2/5 NLHE) has a $6/half hour fee instead of a rake. Apparently, the other table was on pause while the dealer’s chips were replenished. Some of the players got up and didn’t come back for a while and the other players refused to pay the $6 rake because they were six-handed. When a table is brand new, the first time charge is reduced to $3, but the floor wouldn’t let them “reset” the table and pay the lesser rake. So instead, the casino made no money for well over 30 minutes. If I was at that table doing nothing for 30 minutes, I would’ve walked. That’s just bad management.

There is a bad beat jackpot for Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud, but I didn’t see any stud games running. The biggest jackpot was the Hold’em jackpot, around $40k. It was hit on Tuesday, hence the lesser amount. When it was hit, the loser (i.e., the guy who benefited the most from the bad beat jackpot) received over $50k, and over $35k after taxes. I know because he had sat next to me at 1/2 on Day 1 before the douche. Not bad at all. The Omaha bad beat and Stud bad beat was about $4-5k, but free money is free money.

So, time to discuss Day 2. Let’s just rip this bandaid off quick. I lost $345 on my very first hand. I arrived and put myself on the 1/2 NLHE, 4/8 Mixed, and 2/5 NLHE lists. I don’t usually play 2/5, but after my nice take the day before ($540 profit) and my desire to make more money at poker, I thought it was time. 2/5 had a seat open, so I sat down and bought in for $400. The chip runner was getting my chips as I looked down to 77 in EP/MP. I raised to $20. The guy on my left, a fat guy with goatee and hat, asked, “So soon?” I answered, “I wish I could fold, but I can’t with these cards.” It folded to the BB, another fat guy, but this one in his late 50s or 60s, wearing a Navy cap. He looked sloppy and I vaguely remembered either seeing him yesterday, when I was waiting for the 1/2 game to open. I didn’t play with him because a second game opened, but I got the impression that he was loose from watching a couple of dozen hands.

“Raise to $150.” It folded to me and I considered my options. At 1/2 NL, the same scenario would probably play out as a raise to $12 and a re-raise to $50, give or take. It’s not exact math, since the games play somewhat different. In that scenario, I probably would’ve folded, but I think playing 2/5 got me off of my game.

I never understood how so many pro’s stories go like this: “I was killing the x/y game, and when I got a big enough bankroll, I’d move up to the a/b game, but time and time again, the a/b game would bust me.” I always thought, “If you are so good at x/y and a/b is the same game but with higher blinds, what’s the big difference? Just play well.” But there is something to the mental element of moving up in stakes, even when the move is as small as 1/2 to 2/5. At least that’s how I felt after this hand.

I decided to call. I figured the $150 was a ploy to take down the pot immediately. I put him on AK or AQ most likely. The flop, then, was great: JJ4. He checked and I considered for a moment. “All-in.” WTF was I thinking?! Actually, I was thinking that he had AK or AQ. He didn’t. He had AA. He called and won the pot. He only had $345 total, so when the chips came, I took $55 and told the runner to bring the rest to my friend at the other end of the table. I also bought $300 more.

I actually did a good job of playing it off as though it were no big deal. I don’t ever want to appear broken at the table. People smell that shit like sharks to blood, and no good can come of it.

I was able to win a bit back, down $300 total when I was called to the 4/8 mixed game. Before that happened, the guy on my immediate right noticed my Buddha card cap. “Hey, I played with you yesterday. That was pretty funny how you were busting on Becks.” I guess Becks was the asshole. I was pretty surprised that he thought I got the best of it in the verbal altercation, since I’d assumed that most at the table were rooting for Becks as the home team. But I guess when you are a prick, it’s hard to make true friends. “How did Becks end up?” “I don’t know man, but he had a lot of chips when I left.” Well, I thought, he rebought a bunch too. Fuck him.

I should note that I was also keeping my head on a swivel to see if Becks showed up. I figured it could go two ways. We could laugh it off or we could get right back into it. Whatever the case, I wasn’t going to let the fucker sneak up on me, and if we were at the same table, I was willing to walk unless I had a good reason to stay put. Saying this, I kinda feel like a pussy, but it was just logic. I didn’t need him jawing in my ear and I really didn’t need it to get physical…and truth be told, he was a good, aggressive player when there were easier fish in the sea. As it turned out, this never became an issue anyway.

When they called 4/8 Mixed, and I got up from the table. “Leaving already?” one of my neighbors asked. “Yeah, you guys got enough of my cash. I came here for Omaha, so I might as well play it.” I wished them well and moved to my new table.

The 4/8 table was filled with geriatrics, aside from one big Samoan-looking dude. That didn’t mean, though, that they were any better behaved. The cussing started almost immediately, mostly from the two grandmas on my immediate right. I struck up some conversations with them and the old guy on my left by asking where I could get a good po’boy. After a while, we were all good buds, as they jokingly cursed the dealer and threatened to kill him if they didn’t win a pot.

I tried to join in the fun and threaten the dealers, but whereas it seemed charming from the two Southern grannies, it sounded a lot less ominous from me, admittedly intentionally so. It also worked for them a lot more, as they seemed to always win a hand or two after a threat. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get anything going.

I decided to play $200, and after several hours, I had nothing left. I suffered a bunch of river suckouts and none of my good hands held up or hit flops. It was one of those miserable card dead sessions, so much so that by the end, I was more interested in the Bluff magazine than the game. After my $200 was up, I got up and left the poker room.

This is me announcing once again my moratorium on table games. This is also me admitting to dusting off $200 in about 30 mins at craps at one of the coldest tables I had ever seen. Lesson re-learned (probably not for the last time). And that concluded my gambling for the day. I returned to the hotel to lick my wounds and meet up with wifey Kim.

Beck did show up, by the way, but he seemed to avoid me as much as I avoided him. At one point, he was seated a table away in a position where amazingly no heads blocked our view of each other. We were able to look right at each other as though we were on opposite sides of the same table. He didn’t stay there for long, though. I guess he didn’t like the view.

CMitch is in town, but now that wifey Kim is done with her conference, I doubt I’ll be able to meet up with him at the poker tables. I wish him luck, though, and look forward to reading about his experience.

So, $540+ on day one. -$500 in poker on day 2, with an additional -$200 on craps, which incidentally does not go on the poker ledger, but still is a loss, nonetheless.

New Orleans poker was pretty good, but I should’ve stayed with 1/2, my bread and butter. Or, I should’ve played 2/5 better. That’s something I will have to consider in the coming months.

Until next time, make mine poker!

posted by Jordan @ 3:14 PM,


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