Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Streak Is Still Alive


But it's still going. Last night was a tough one for me at the poker tables, and for a few hours there, I thought my hot streak was gonna come to a screeching halt.

I went down to the casino early--mostly out of sheer boredom--rolling in around 6 pm. I wandered by the poker room and the 4-8 games were full of the tight-playing daily grinders--no money to be made there--but the 1-2 no-limit game was looking fairly juicy.

Now, here's the thing--in my room, we have some tough tough tough no-limit players. I can name about ten guys off the top of my head who I don't wanna tangle with at any time, and that's just the obvious ones. If I sat and thought about it, I could probably come up with ten more. So whenever more than two of them are in the same game, I usually don't want any part of it unless I'm feeling like I've got my 'A' game with me along with a decent-sized bankroll, just in case I need to re-buy.

But there was no danger at all at the one no-limit table we had going. There were a bunch of soft players with minimum buy-ins sitting around passing chips back and forth. I looked at the table and at first glance I thought Oh hell yeah, it's time to get paid!

On the other hand, it was still early, and nobody had more than one or two drinks in them, and I was hungry anyways, so I decided to wait and come back after dinner.

I ambled off to the Mexican restaurant and had some awesome bacon-wrapped stuffed shrimp and some pretty damn good chips & salsa, along with a couple of ice-cold Pacificos, but damn, the so-called chimichanga I had was probably the worst one I've ever attempted to eat. Memo to the chef--If I've got rice and beans on the plate as side dishes already, I don't want beans in my chimichanga. I'm just sayin'. I didn't even finish half of it.

Luckily, I was able to pay for dinner with points from my players card, so the bad chimi didn't cost me a dime out-of-pocket. I wandered over to the pit to talk to my gal Jen for a few minutes--she was on a dead mini-bacc table--and then made my way back to the poker room.

Of course, the no-limit game had filled up, but I wasn't too disappointed. I still heed Crash Davis' timeless advice about respecting the streak, so I took a seat at a 4-8 game. There were three tables going at the time, but two of them were full of the old farts and regulars, where the average pot size is about twelve bucks, and I got seated at one of them. I immediately requested a table change, so I only had to sit and fold for about five minutes before a seat became available at the 'good' table--the one full of tourists where one of my vacationing co-workers had been camped out on for several hours already.

As soon as I got there, I was ready to roll, and my first hand was pocket Queens.

They got cracked.

Not the start I was hoping for. As it turned out, my first three or four hours were just awful. In that span, I had AA, KK, QQ, JJ, and TT all cracked twice each, plus AQ and AK knocked off a couple of times, too. It was a miserable run of bad luck and bad cards. I sat down at the table around 7:30 or so, and it was sometime after 11:00 pm before I got my first hand that was better than two pair. Seriously--I was the real-life textbook definition of being 'card dead'.

What made it even worse, in my mind, was that there were two people at the opposite end of the table just catching everything. The kept showing junk cards that made it over and over again on the river. It was quite frustrating to watch, as it didn't matter what I had, I couldn't make it hold up. And that's the main problem with a low-limit game like 4-8. Bad players will always call you down to the river, which is 'statistically' a good thing, but man, when they're catching cards, it just *kills* a bankroll. It's a double-edged sword, that's for sure, and last night, I was the one getting cut.

One gal, I swear, racked up three hundred dollars worth of chips without ever raising once. She just called to the river every time, and in the showdown she'd always have the junk-card flush or the four-outer straight. Not once did she 'play' a hand. She just sat there and got run over by the deck.

At one point, I had bought in $190, which I thought was ridiculous, but I just couldn't scoop a pot no matter what I did. One of my buddies who deals at the MGM poker room was sitting there next to me, and somebody had the brilliant idea to do tequila shots--Since we couldn't win, we might as well get drunk.

So we had the waitress bring over three shots of Patron (the guy on my left got in on it, too), and the game suddenly became more enjoyable. Lots of laughs and goofing off after that. The cards were still running bad, and before I knew it, we'd done four shots each. I got up to go to the bathroom, and surprisingly, I didn't feel the least bit toasted. I thought it to be very odd, because the last time I did four shots of tequila in less than a half an hour, I puked all over the wall at the party I was at (Great story that goes with the messy punchline, though... I'll get around to sharing it at some point). Anyhow, the tequila didn't give me the slightest buzz. My compadres, however, started to feel it.

Eventually, the law of averages caught up to me and I started winning some hands. But after midnight, the table got shorthanded and our game broke, which really kind of sucked because I was just starting to make a furious comeback.

Due to the 'table stakes' rules in most card rooms, you cannot take chips off the table until you leave the game. But there is one great loophole in that rule--if your game breaks, you can cash in some of your chips and go to you new table with just the minimum buy-in amount. Since I was making a good comeback, when I moved, I gave the floorman sixty bucks and told him to bring me three twenties, which went back in my wallet, while I kept the rest of my chips (another $120 or so) and brought them to the new table.

I was really happy to be almost breaking even, seeing how I was 'stuck' over $150 just a couple of hours earlier, and considered coloring up and calling it a night. But when I wasn't drinking tequila, I'd been doing my normal late-night drink of coffee with a splash of Kahlua or Bailey's (or sometimes both), so I was wide-awake, and there were two guys at my new table who I *knew* I could get chips off of. So I stuck around. And I'm glad I did.

Because then, the Poker Gods decided to bestow a gift upon us.

Some jackass came to the table with four hundred dollars worth of chips. Yep, that's right, three racks of white and one stack of red--a ridiculous amount to buy in with in a low-limit game. He wasn't a transfer from another table or a broken game, he walked into the poker room and asked the cashier for $400.

As soon as he sat down, it was almost a Pavlovian reaction for me. My mouth literally started watering. I am not making that up. I glanced across the table to my vacationing co-worker at the other end, and he gave me an almost imperceptible nod--by eye contact only, we were both saying We're gonna cut this guy up and take all of his money!

From the very first hand, the newbie jackass raised every bet, and he won the first three hands he was in. The other players around the table were mumbling and calling him all kinds of names and getting frustrated pretty quickly. But I was watching the guy the entire time, and something that nobody else noticed is that he never looked at his cards pre-flop--he was just raising and re-raising, winning with nothing but naked aggression. Everyone else at the table was so concerned with hoping their hands were good enough that they didn't watch him until it was his turn to bet, so they all missed the most obvious tell in the world.

My co-worker (short stacked at the time) caught on and doubled up through him twice. A few minutes later, I got him three times in a row--the first one was a huge pot that he was doing all of the raising and re-raising in, and there were four players involved, but I'd had pocket sevens, flopped a set and rivered a full house, so I took down a monster. On the very next hand I had pocket fives, again he never looked at his cards and got into a raising war with me, and I finally got redemption when the board ran out J-2-4-3-6, giving me a straight, so again, I took down another monster.

On the third hand, the one that broke him, I had pocket nines, somebody else had another small pair, and he had nothing but Ace high, and nobody's hand improved. The newbie jackass had gone from having over $400 in front of him a half hour earlier to being flat broke, and I went from having barely a hundred in front of me to having $350! Oh hell yeah!

Once he went broke, I figured that my night at the poker table wasn't gonna get any better, so I played until my blinds came up again, then tipped the dealer a fiver and racked up. I gave the floorman a five-spot, too, and cashed out for $340, most of it coming in the last 20 minutes of the night after grinding it out for almost eight hours. I guess it pays to be patient. Oh, and luck seems to help a little, too.

Thank you, Poker Gods!

Looking back at it, it's hard to believe. People play cards their whole life hoping for a doofus like that to sit at their table, and I'm just glad it happened to me. Talk about being in the right place at the right time. It certainly turned my night around. Well, actually, I was making a comeback already when he sat down--he was just the fast-forward button, that's all.

Once I got out of there, I started to come down a bit and I realized how tired I was. No stopping for a celebratory steak & eggs breakfast, no taking a run at the Megabucks, I just drove straight home and went straight to bed, happy to be adding to my bankroll once again.

I think I slept for about nine hours, and today I feel like I finally caught up on the sleep deficit that I was running since last weekend. Right now, it's almost 5:30 on Saturday night, so I think I'm gonna shower and shave, and of course later on I'll go down and see if I can't go 14-for-14 on profitable poker sessions this month.


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